Projections and Paces – Cardinals

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The article below is meant to provide a quick look at how my
preseason projections match up with the paces of select major league
hitters.

Albert Pujols
2008: .357/.462/.653, 37 HR, 100 R, 116 RBI, 7 SB in 524 AB
Proj..: .328/.440/.624, 40 HR, 108 R, 118 RBI, 6 SB in 543 AB
Pace: .320/.444/.689, 56 HR, 126 R, 140 RBI, 22 SB in 544 AB

On the off chance that the current paces hold up, Pujols will lead the
Cardinals in homers by 34, in runs by 46, in RBI by 63 and in steals by
seven.

Skip Schumaker
2008: .302/.359/.406, 8 HR, 87 R, 46 RBI, 8 SB in 540 AB
Proj..: .287/.343/.396, 7 HR, 80 R, 44 RBI, 8 SB in 508 AB
Pace: .284/.333/.387, 7 HR, 80 R, 46 RBI, 2 SB in 537 AB

The transition to second base has gone about as well as hoped, but
Schumaker is back hitting like the fifth outfielder it was assumed he’d
be prior to last year.

Chris Duncan
2008: .248/.346/.365, 6 HR, 26 R, 27 RBI, 2 SB in 222 AB
Proj..: .256/.337/.473, 18 HR, 48 R, 53 RBI, 2 SB in 336 AB
Pace: .255/.345/.417, 12 HR, 51 R, 73 RBI, 0 SB in 493 AB

Duncan is hitting .230 since his strong April, and he’s due to start
losing more playing time to Colby Rasmus once the Cardinals are
finished in AL parks.

Yadier Molina
2008: .304/.349/.392, 7 HR, 37 R, 56 RBI, 0 SB in 444 AB
Proj..: .274/.332/.381, 9 HR, 42 R, 60 RBI, 1 SB in 457 AB
Pace: .284/.358/.397, 12 HR, 58 R, 53 RBI, 10 SB in 493 AB

Molina did hit an empty .300 last year, but most of his success came
against lefties. He’s currently at .292/.355/.390 against righties,
which would top his previous best OPS by 55 points.

Colby Rasmus
2008: N/A
Proj..: .245/.329/.416, 12 HR, 55 R, 44 RBI, 14 SB in 368 AB
Pace: .272/.322/.467, 17 HR, 68 R, 63 RBI, 2 SB in 471 AB

Rasmus has been all over the place as a hitter during his young
career. He finished April at .254/.357/.305 with no homers in 59
at-bats. In May, he hit five homers on his way to a .212/.256/.447 in
month. In June, he’s been a singles and doubles machine, but he’s yet
to walk in 51 at-bats, giving him a .392/.392/.686 line.

Ryan Ludwick
2008: .299/.375/.591, 37 HR, 104 R, 113 RBI, 4 SB in 538 AB
Proj..: .264/.337/.484, 27 HR, 87 R, 100 RBI, 3 SB in 541 AB
Pace: .233/.306/.423, 22 HR, 48 R, 77 RBI, 7 SB in 394 AB

Ludwick was hitting .274/.339/.538 before suffering a hamstring
injury of May 12. He’s been awful since returning at the end of the
month, but he still might find his way to 25 homers and 90 RBI.

Diamondbacks mulling over moving Yasmany Tomas to left field

Arizona Diamondbacks' Yasmany Tomas (24) blows a gum bubble during the third inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs, Friday, May 22, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
AP Photo/Matt York
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After trading Ender Inciarte to the Braves as part of the Shelby Miller deal, Yasmany Tomas will go into 2016 as a regular in the Diamondbacks’ lineup. Signed to a six-year, $68.5 million contract in December of 2014, Tomas batted .273 with nine home runs and a .707 OPS over 426 plate appearances during his first season in the majors last year while struggling defensively between third base and right field. Third base is out as a possibility at this point, but the Diamondbacks are mulling over another defensive change for him.

According to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale said Friday that the club has discussed moving Tomas to left field and David Peralta to right.

“We’re definitely talking about it,” Hale said. “(Outfield coach) Dave McKay and I, (General Manager Dave Stewart) and (Chief Baseball Officer) Tony (La Russa), we think it might be best to switch them around.”

When the third base experiment flopped, the Diamondbacks put Tomas in right because they felt he would be the most comfortable there. The metrics weren’t kind to him. He’ll now have a full spring training to work on things if the club decides to make a change. Peralta isn’t the defender that Inciarte was, but he’s better than Tomas, so it’s understandable why the Diamondbacks would change their alignment.

Tomas is likely to be a liability no matter where he plays, but the Diamondbacks won’t mind as much if his bat begins to meet expectations. For a team with designs on the postseason, he’s a big key for this lineup.

Cubs, Jake Arrieta avoid arbitration at $10.7 million

Jake Arrieta
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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The Associated Press is reporting that the Cubs and starter Jake Arrieta have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $10.7 million salary for the 2016 season. That marks the highest salary on a one-year deal for a pitcher with four years of service, the AP notes. Arrieta and the Cubs were set to go before an independent arbitrator but now can simply focus on the season ahead.

Arrieta, 29, is in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. He had filed for $13 million while the Cubs countered at $7.5 million. The $5.5 million gap was the largest among players who did not come to terms with their respective teams by the January deadline. The $10.7 million salary is $450,000 above the midpoint between the two submitted figures.

Arrieta won the National League Cy Young Award for his performance this past season, narrowly edging out Zack Greinke, then with the Dodgers. Arrieta led the majors with 22 wins, four complete games, and three shutouts. With that, he compiled a 1.77 ERA and a 236/48 K/BB ratio across 229 innings.

Once a top prospect in the Orioles’ minor league system, Arrieta struggled in the majors but found immediate success with the Cubs in 2013 after the O’s traded him along with Pedro Strop in exchange for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman.

Giants sign Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal

Los Angeles Angels third baseman Conor Gillaspie is unable to hold on to the ball after catching a grounder hit by Kansas City Royals' Lorenzo Cain in the fourth inning of a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
AP Photo/Colin E. Braley
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Per Baseball America’s Matt Eddy, the Giants have signed infielder Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal. Gillaspie was selected by the Giants in the supplemental round of the 2008 draft, then was traded to the White Sox in February 2013.

Gillaspie, 28, hit a meager .228/.269/.359 with four home runs and 24 RBI in 253 plate appearances between the White Sox and Angels during the 2015 season. Almost all of his playing time has come at third base but he can also play first base if needed.

The Giants, thin on depth, will allow Gillaspie to audition in spring training for a spot on the 25-man roster.

Joe Nathan plans to pitch in 2016

Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joe Nathan throws against the Chicago White Sox in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Detroit Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that free agent reliever Joe Nathan, recovering from Tommy John surgery, plans to pitch in 2016 according to his agent Dave Pepe. According to Pepe, Nathan’s workouts are “going well” and the right-hander is “definitely planning on playing this year.”

Nathan, 41, got the final out on Opening Day (April 6) against the Twins before going on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his right elbow, causing him to miss the next 161 games. He will likely be able to contribute out of the bullpen in late May or early June if he has no setbacks. On a minor league deal or incentive-laden major league deal, Nathan could make for a low-risk gamble.

Over a 15-season career that dates back to 1999 (he did not pitch in the majors in 2001 or 2010), Nathan has 377 saves with a 2.89 ERA and a 967/340 K/BB ratio over 917 innings.