• The Nats will sign Sergio Romo
  • Seattle only stole 56 bases in 2016, but Leonys Martin, Jean Segura and Jarrod Dyson should combine for over 100 Stolen Bases in 2017
  • In 2016 18 of 23 Starters with 15+ Wins came from teams that finished in the top 15 for runs scored.
  • Computers should be banned from Live Drafts. Make your own lists!
  • A Sleeper is any player who out plays his draft value by more than 30 percent.
  • Matt Kemp and Edwin Encarnacion hit 19 homers in the second half, but Kemp id better in AVG, RBI and R
  • The Braves will be contenders in 2017 if they sign Matt Wieters and acquire Brian Dozier
  • Pitching is key but it doesn’t have to be Clayton Kershaw. I am targeting three starters in the first five rounds
  • Banning laptops from drafts is ridiculous. You should still make lists though
  • No More Arguments over Thought of the day. I will have my own thought of the day
  • A thought a day keeps the doctor away
Chatter 01/20

@ctmbaseball says,19 Qualified Hitters had 50% GB% or greater and 7 of those totaled 20 HR or more, Hosmer, Yelich, Braun, Ramos, Desmond, Segura and Correa

13 of top 20 qualified hitters in Hard% totaled 30 HR or more with Mark Trumbo, Khris Davis and Chris Carter totaling 40 HR or more

If Tanaka has a great year, the Yankees will have a dilemma when he chooses to opt out of the final three years of his contract, $67 Million.  Then the Yankees pay him market value—more than his current $22 million a year, and more years—or someone else does.

If Tanaka has a decent year and stays healthy, he still almost certainly opts out. Or threatens to, with the Yankees extending his contract. 

Or maybe Tanaka gets hurt. He made 31 starts in 2016, but he is still pitching with a slight tear in the UCL in his right elbow. It could tear further, requiring Tommy John surgery. He could suffer a different injury. Either way, he sticks with his current contract, and the Yankees are stuck paying him.

Reds Waiver Wire Pickup Dan Strailey has fetched them Austin Brice and Luis Castillo. Brice likely to start in #Reds’ bullpen or AAA rotation. Castillo, the main target, likely to start at AA, maintains 97-100 mph as starter. BA praised Castillo’s “easy velocity” and “smooth delivery” in their offseason scouting report on him, noting that he’s made the jump from power bullpen arm to potential mid-rotation starter As for Brice, the 24-year-old gives the Reds an immediate, MLB-ready option to plug into their bullpen if he shows well in Spring Training. The price Miami is paying to acquire Straily is a steep one. Castillo, 24, rates as their No. 2 prospect according to Baseball America and their No. 5 prospect according to MLB.com.

Dan Straily has long been homer-prone and last year saw his fly-ball rate check in at 48 percent. A move to the much more spacious Marlins Park should help his cause, but he’ll also need to demonstrate that last season’s step forward in his control is sustainable. Straily’s BABIP was a lowly .239 as well, but fly-ball pitchers tend to maintain lower marks in that regard than their ground-ball counterparts, so the regression in that department may not be as sizable as one would assume upon first glance.

Crazy amazing stat for Pudge Rodriguez: In his MVP year (1999), he has almost as many SBs as opponents when he caught — 25 to 34

Among the players that could potentially be fits for the Dodgers per Ken Rosenthal, are switch-hitters Jurickson Profar of the Rangers, Cesar Hernandez of the Phillies, and Wilmer Difo of the Nationals. All are young and controllable, though only Hernandez has put up a full and productive major league season. It’s far from clear whether there’s serious interest, or what kind of swap might be considered, but the Dodgers have at least engaged the Rangers in talks. Beyond those possibilities, Rosenthal says that there’s still some potential for a reunion with Chase Utley Dave Cameron of Fangraphs recently suggested that the best fit on paper might be Javier Baez, with young pitching going to the Cubs in exchange.

The Angels have struck a deal with free-agent infielder Luis Valbuena, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter) Valbuena has spent most of his time at third, he’s also capable of playing second base, having logged 209 games there over his nine seasons in the majors. It’s worth bearing in mind, too, that both Espinosa and Escobar are slated to hit free agency after the 2017 season, so Valbuena will not only deepen the roster in 2017 but will also provide a ready replacement — presumably, at the hot corner. Because he hits left-handed, he could share time at third with the right-handed hitting Yunel Escobar or even at first with C.J. Cron

Valbuena’s acquisition likely means that — barring another move — Jefry Marte would begin the season at Triple-A. The Angels may prefer for Marte to have everyday at-bats in the minors, to continue his development, rather than sitting on the bench in the majors.

It’s also possible that the Angels could deal CJ Cron, as Jon Heyman of Fan Rag notes on Twitter, though it’s far from clear just how much demand there would be for his services.

Chris Sale, David Price an Rick Porcello are assured rotation spots, as Farrell said the final two spots will be a competition between Drew Pomeranz, Steven Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez. MGR John Ferrell says No Starters are going to pitch in WBC..”Rodriguez would likely be held out due to knee issues”

John Farrell said that as it stands, Sandy Leon is heading to camp as the No. 1 catcher, but Blake Swihart will be able to challenge him for that role. Britton notes that Farrell didn’t mention Christian Vazquez. However, Vazquez is out of minor league options, and the team isn’t sure how Swihart’s ankle will be able to hold up for regular work behind the dish, so Britton’s interpretation of the situation is that Leon and Vazquez will open the year as Boston’s catching tandem.

Mark Trumbo can play in the field. He has consistently rated as one of the game’s worst corner outfielders, no longer plays third, and is blocked at first in Baltimore by fellow slugger Chris Davis. With Hyun Soo Kim and Seth Smith providing left-handed-hitting options for the O’s, though, perhaps Trumbo will only be exposed to the outfield when southpaws take the hill for the opposition. If that’s the team’s approach, then Trumbo will presumably take most of his plate appearances in the DH slot.

Trumbo hit the ball in the air more often than he hit it on the ground for the first time in his career, and combine that with a career-best 24.6 percent home run/fly ball rate and you get a league-high 47 home runs.

Mark Trumbo‘s 3-year, $37.5 million contract does not include any opt out clauses. Last winter, Jason Heyward got $184M and Justin Upton got #132.75M. They were only 26 and 28

Because of the aforementioned TOS surgery, Ross isn’t a lock to be ready for Opening Day. Durability concerns have long accompanied Ross, but prior to the 2016 season he’d been a largely healthy and effective starter atop the San Diego rotation. From 2013-15, Ross tossed 516 2/3 innings for the Padres, logging to a 3.07 earned run average with 9.2 K/9 against 3.5 BB/9 to go along with a superlative 58.2 percent ground-ball rate.

Mike Fiers does have some bullpen experience, though, so it’s at least possible that the team could explore a swingman role for him if Musgrove looks sharp in camp and the other four starters all appear healthy. It’s also worth noting that the Astros have been consistently linked to trade rumors for top-tier starting pitchers, and a deal would obviously make a significant impact on the construction of their rotation.

The question with Javier Baez this year is playing time. Baez could play third against left-handers, with Kris Bryant moving to left. He also could get time at second; Ben Zobrist will be 36 and almost certainly would benefit from increased time off. Shortstop Addison Russell, who played in 151 games last season, also will need an occasional break.

Baez, 24, also made two starts at first base last season, and played 2 1/3 innings in left. But at some point, he could grow frustrated in a super-utility role, viewing himself — correctly — as worthy of a starting job.

2018 HOF?

Chipper: Lock

Thome: Yep

Rolen: Nettles border

Johan Santana: 7th best live-ball ERA

+ Vizquel: below line

MLB/ESPN Jim Bowden says, #Nationals still have interest in both Wieters & Holland..but they are way over budget on Spring Training Complex making decision difficult

Blake Treinen has a 1.73 ERA in his last 56 games last year with a .210 batting average against, .598 OPS-vs. and most of the other stats you’d associated with a pretty darn good closer. So, you make him the closer on Opening Day. Can he take the pressure? Dusty says he is not sure about his makeup??

Last year there was an excellent scientific study of every sinker in baseball — spin rate, vertical drop, late break, contact rate, etc. Zach Britton had the best sinker in MLB by miles — and maybe the best pitch of any kind in baseball for inducing no contact or weak contact — except for one pitcher who was, shockingly, almost as amazing in raw stuff with his sinker: Treinen. And Treinen’s slider is just fine now, too.

Another candidate to close will be, Koda Glover, whose meteoric rise ended with stabbing pain in his hip, a torn labrum that the young right-hander spent this offseason rehabbing. Glover seems the most natural fit to close of anyone on the roster, but lacks the résumé to do so, and will need to reestablish himself after shaky big league results while pitching through the pain. Manager Dusty Baker thinks highly of Glover, in terms of makeup and stuff, and seems likely to give the kid with the high-90s fastball and fearless approach a chance in the later innings.

Right-hander Jimmy Cordero, for example, is a young right-hander with tantalizing stuff — and that always frustrating “if-he-can-command-it” caveat.is also a candidate to close in Washington later in the year as does Trevor Gott, the right-hander with the booming fastball who spent most of the 2015 season with the Angels. Gott made 48 appearances that season and pitched to a 3.02 ERA with a 1.63 WHIPGott said he was disappointed with his first season in the Nationals organization, and conceded the challenge of trying to break through on a team with such established pitching at the major league level. Still, Gott looked strong when he did get his chance, using his mid-90s fastball to pitch to a 1.50 ERA in nine September appearances.

 

Chatter 01/19

Right-hander Aaron Nola says he’s healthy and ready to go for Spring Training, and the Phillies aren’t placing any restrictions on him.

Before his season ended prematurely due to a low grade UCL and flexor strain, Nola was having excellent year with a 2.65 ERA. a 9.8 K/9, 1.7 BB/9 and a 53.9 percent ground-ball rate in 78 innings (12 starts) through June 5th. Over his final eight starts, just 33 innings, Nola had a 9.82 ERA. His walk rate more than doubled during that time (3.8 BB/9), and hit five batters.

Welington Castillo has a reputation among scouts and front offices for being a poor game-caller even though he seemed to be well-liked by pitchers, including Zack Greinke, who had nothing but good things to say about him. His pitch framing statistics, which take pitch-location data and determine how catchers fare in influencing umpires’ strike zones, rank poorly

Chris Davis was inconsistent in 2016, striking out more than any other player in the majors while batting .221 and hitting 38 home runs with 83 RBI. After the season, manager Buck Showalter blamed a thumb injury on most of Davis’ troubles.

Just once in the recent history has received a contract worth more than $100 million after undergoing Tommy John surgery, and that was Jordan Zimmermann.

Starlin Castro doesn’t mind moving to third base in order to make room for Gleyber Torres if the Yankees ask. Castro said. “I’ll do whatever they want me to do. I just want to help the team win. Whatever I can do to help, I’m in.”

Lance Lynn will continue to challenge hitters with his fastball.“If you looked at the success I’ve had, why change?” he says without a hint of a smile. “I’m going to be who I am, whether you like it or not.” Lynn is 61-39 with a 3.37 ERA, a 1.303 Whip and 8.7K/9 over his career.

Koda Glover could emerge as the Nats closer, but he is inexperienced. Manager Dusty Baker thinks highly of Glover, in terms of makeup and stuff, and seems likely to give the kid with the high-90s fastball and fearless approach a chance in the later innings.

The Astros are still interested in adding a starting pitcher, and remain in contact with teams regarding Sonny Gray, Jose Quintana and Chris Archer. The asking prices on each make it seem unlikely though. They’ve already balked at Chicago’s reported asking price of Francis Martes, Kyle Tucker and Joe Musgrove for Quintana

Ryon Healy did well as the everyday third baseman in the second half of 2016, but he will split most of his time between first base and DH in 2017, with Trevor Plouffe, a plus defender, playing third. Healy will platoon with Yonder Alonso at first, spend time at DH and back up Plouffe at third.

Matt Chapman hit 36 homers last year, 29 of them at Double-A Midland, and is a highly touted defensive player, but the A’s would like to see him have most of a full season at Triple-A Nashville to work on getting the rest of his game in big league shape. He averaged just .237 in the minor leagues last year.

Oakland has some promising young offensive players including:

3B Ryon Healy

SS Franklin Barreto

1B Matt Olson

2B Joey Wendle

3B Matt Chapman.

Jeanmar Gomez will get a chance to earn his closing job back this spring, according to manager Pete Mackanin who said “I’m going to give Gomez every opportunity to show that he’s the guy that pitched the first five months and not the guy that pitched in September,”

Gomez earned 37 saves last year before losing his job in September. Other closer options include Joaquin Benoit, Hector Neris and Edubray Ramos

By the end of the season Tony Wolters was drawing praise from pitchers for his game-calling ability and solid receiving skills. Wolters ranked ninth in the majors in pitch-framing metrics. Offensively, Wolters still has a lot to prove after batting .215 with a .296 on-base percentage last season. After the all-star break, however, he hit .321 with a .374 OBP.

Tom Murphy shows the raw offensive power Wolters is missing, as he went 12-for-44 (.273 average) with five home runs 13 RBI and a 1.006 OPS

The Tigers new acquisition, Mikie Mahtook is a career .272 hitter over five minor league seasons. He will join Tyler Collins, JaCoby Jones – and possibly Anthony Gose – in competition for the starting centerfield spot this spring.

The Twins’ current payroll for 2017 is $98 million. Their opening day payroll last season was $105 million; the MLB average payroll last year was $145 million. Manager Paul Molitor would like to add a quality veteran to the roster, which should not be too difficult since 17 of ESPN’s top 50 free agents are still available.

Tommy Joseph got better as the season rolled on in 2016, posting a 1.065 OPS in July and a .929 OPS in September/October. .

Carlos Martinez is on the fringe as a possible Cy Young candidate in 2017. He has only ever spent time on the disabled list once in 2015 due to a shoulder strain and in 2016, Martinez:

  • Led his team in wins (16)
  • Led his team in quality starts (20)
  • Led his team in strikeouts (171)
  • Led his team in ERA among pitchers who made more than five starts (3.04).
  • Was second only to Adam Wainwright in innings pitched (195 ⅓)

The owners of the Washington Nationals are known to be risk averse, so it seems unlikely that they would agree to pay Bryce Harper anywhere near the record breaking $400 million he expects to get.

 

Michael Saunders batted .178/.252/.357 with eight homers in 214 plate appearances over the final two and a half months after a first half that earned him a spot on the all-star team with 24 homers and 57 RBI.

Bad luck can be attributed to at least some of this, as his BABIP took a nose dive to .221 during that time. So, while the .377 BABIP he had in the first half was not sustainable, his second-half .221 seems equally fluky.

Signing Saunders has little impact on the Phillies roster flexibility as so far Odubel Herrera is the lone starting outfielder signed for 2018. Roman Quinn and Aaron Altherr will compete in spring training for bench roles. Dylan Cozens and Nick Williams, two top prospects, will start the season at Triple-A.

Danny Duffy pitched a career-high 179 1/3 innings in 2016, with a 3.51 ERA, 9.4 K/9, a 2.1 BB/9, a 36.4 percent ground-ball rate and a fastball that averaged 94.8 mph.

The Astros have been seeking rotation upgrades for much of the offseason, and while the team’s pursuit of White Sox lefty Jose Quintana hasn’t gained much traction, FOX’s Ken Rosenthal tweets that Houston has also maintained contact with the Athletics regarding Sonny Gray. Despite throwing just 56 percent of the innings he totaled in 2015, Gray allowed more home runs in 2016, setting a new career-worst with 18.

Gary Sanchez finished with 20 homers in 229 plate appearances over 53 games following his arrival to the majors on Aug. 3, and he will head to spring training in Tampa next month expected to be in the middle of the order.

Sanchez tailed off during the final two weeks of 2016. After homering twice on Sept. 21 to finish an incredible four-game stretch in which he hit five homers, Sanchez went deep just once the rest of the season. In his last 41 plate appearances, he had just four hits and struck out 13 times.

The Giants and Rangers are both interested in Jay Bruce, who hit 33 homers last season, but was a disappointment in his two-month stint with the Mets after arriving at the trade deadline from Cincinnati.

Travis D’Arnaud struggled with a shoulder injury in 2016, earning him a slash line of .247/.307/.323, while hitting only four home runs with 15 RBI over 75 games (251 AB). Mets catchers combined for a .607 OPS, 28th in baseball.

If Toronto falls out of contention in 2017, they will probably look to dump guys, perhaps even Donaldson, who will be a free agent after next season.

Why would Donaldson want to stick around if the Jays embark on a rebuild anyway?

The Jays training staff are going to have their hands full this season with seven offensive players over 30 years old:

Jose Bautista (36)

Troy Tulowitzki (32)

Kendrys Morales (33)

Russell Martin (33)

Steve Pearce (33)

Josh Donaldson (31)

Melvin Upton Jr. (32)

 

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Chatter 01/16
The Cardinals intend to stretch out Trevor Rosenthal this spring, but not for a spot in the starting rotation. Instead, they intend to use Rosenthal as a ‘versatile bullpen option.’

The Blue Jays could be nearing an agreement with Jose Bautista

Ben Zobrist is listed as the Cubs second baseman, but Maddon made it clear last season that you don’t have to have a permanent spot to get a lot of at-bats. And he has certainly left open the possibility that Baez will take over at second base.

 

The Mets are reportedly asking for two prospects in exchange for Jay Bruce.  The Phillies have shown interest in Bruce in the past, but they could simply sign left-handed hitting free agents like Brandon Moss or Michael Saunders rather than part with minor league talent for Bruce. 

Detroit Tigers ace right-hander – a 12-year major league veteran – is old enough in baseball years to know that he doesn’t really want to be part of a rebuilding process.“Would it have been upsetting for me if we started trading away everybody?” he told MLB Network Radio on Friday morning. “I’m too old to be part of a rebuilding process.

 

 

The Tigers finished 11th in the majors last season with 750 runs (4.66 per game), and have the 10th-best lineup in baseball heading into the 2017 season

Both Felix Hernández and Hisashi Iwakuma have had very recent struggles. Is this what we can expect going forward from two aging starters?

The Royals had a decent overall .261 batting average in 2016, but once runners got on base, the offense completely stalled, especially in the later half of the season.

Should Andrew Benintendi experience an awful Sophomore slump and the Red Sox decide he’s better off back down in Triple-A, it might well be Rusney Castillo’s opportunity to try again.

The Brewers are the ‘clear frontrunners’  to sign Neftali Feliz, who could take over as closer since Milwaukee recently lost both Jeremy Jeffress and Tyler Thornburg in trades.

Feliz had 40 saves in 2010, and 32 in 2011 with a 2.74 ERA over those two seasons.

Colorado has been linked to Matt Wieters this offseason, but seem content to enter the season with the pair of Tom Murphy and Tony Wolters manning the catcher position.

Murphy does not have the same soft hands and nimble footwork behind the plate as Tony Wolters does. What he does possess is raw power from the right side of the plate.

Murphy caught fire and earned his second September call-up to the majors. In 21 games, Murphy hit .273 (12-for-44) with five homers, 13 RBIs and a 1.006 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage).

The Cubs recently lost out on Tyson Ross, but Theo Epstein says the team still hopes to add starting pitching

Jake Arrieta doesn’t sound optimistic about his chances of receiving an extension in his last year before free agency eligibility, but the Cubs are willing to try to negotiate one.

Read More Chatter Jan 01/15

 

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