10 most likely to be traded – Outfielders

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Matt Holliday (Athletics) – The early-month surge hasn’t held up, as
the A’s have gone 3-6 since interleague play resumed. While Oakland is
still just seven games back, there’s nothing to suggest the team will
ever get healthy enough to make a real run. Holliday, who has been an
above average regular since the end of April, even if he’s still not
playing at his usual level, would have no problem bringing back more
than the A’s could get if they held on to him and let him go for draft
picks at season end. San Francisco makes more sense as a possible
destination with every victory and every Fred Lewis strikeout.

Ryan Spilborghs (Rockies) – Ideally, the Rockies would have been
able to do something with Spilborghs before they turned him into a
fifth outfielder. As an adequate center fielder and a plus corner
outfielder with a career OPS of 823 and a salary barely above the
minimum, he’d come in handy just about anywhere. The Cardinals, in
particular, could use someone with his ability to hit southpaws.

Jeff Francoeur (Braves) – The Braves still might have had a shot at
getting a prospect for Francoeur a month ago. Now they’d be lucky just
to find someone to take his salary without having to accept a similar
contract back. Interestingly, he’s gone from posting a 23/1 K/BB ratio
in May to a 6/7 this month, but he’s remained just as useless.

Cody Ross (Marlins) – Ross is pretty similar to Spilborghs, but his
home run power will likely make him more expensive to acquire. A career
.249/.305/.436 hitter against righties, he still makes a lot more sense
as a fourth outfielder than as a regular. However, he has been terrific
for the Marlins over the last two months. That he’ll likely double his
current $2.25 million salary next year is the main reason he could be
put on the market.

Josh Willingham (Nationals) – Willingham’s incredible nine-homer,
13-RBI season to date is worthy of its own post, but while he has been
a huge failure hitting with men on base this year, it’s not a
career-long trend. Willingham doesn’t offer a whole lot on defense and
his history of back troubles would make him a poor choice for a
long-term contract, but he’s a legitimate 25-homer guy and he hits
righties better than alternatives like Spilborghs and Ross. He’d be a
great fit for Minnesota’s lineup.

Eric Hinske (Pirates) – He’s been a fairly valuable player off the
bench, but Hinske never made a lot of sense for a Pirates team that
opened the season with fellow left-handed hitters at all three outfield
spots and at first base. He’ll probably be cashed in for a prospect
before the deadline. The Mets and Tigers could both use the extra
left-handed bat.

Jeremy Hermida (Marlins) – It’s the story of Hermida’s career: he
had 11 hits, three of them homers, in a five-game stretch from June
9-13, only to go hitless in five games since. There are still plenty of
teams intrigued by Hermida’s talent, and the Marlins could improve
their defense by going back to Cameron Maybin in center and shifting
Ross to right field. Still, his trade value should be just as high in
November as it is now, making it more likely that he’ll stay.

Jermaine Dye (White Sox) – While the White Sox still look like
potential buyers right now, they might turn into sellers before the
deadline. If that’s the case, Dye would be the most obvious candidate
to go. He’s been their best player with a .264/.339/.514 line, and the
$12 million mutual option on his contract might not satisfy either
party for 2010.

Jake Fox (Cubs) – Fox isn’t going to bring a whole lot in return,
but the soon-to-be 27-year-old former catcher deserves more of an
opportunity that the Cubs can give him after hitting .409/.495/.841
with 17 homers in 45 games for Triple-A Iowa this season.

Delmon Young (Twins) – Minnesota is very much in the hunt for the AL
Central, yet Young remains a big liability while hitting for no power
at all and striking out 11 times as often as he walks. The Twins can’t
glue him to the bench or send him down, so they may be better off
moving him while there are still teams out there that may think they
can turn him around. The Nationals, Padres and Pirates are among the
clubs that would have to take hard looks at Young’s upside if he became
available.

Breaking Down the Today’s Game Hall of Fame Ballot: Lou Piniella

TORONTO - JULY 9:  Manager Lou Pinella of the Cincinnati Reds looks on during batting practice prior to the1991 All-Star Game at the Toronto Sky Dome on July 9, 1991 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
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On Monday, December 5, the Today’s Game committee of the Baseball Hall of Fame — the replacement for the Veterans Committee which covers the years 1988-2016 — will vote on candidates for the 2017 induction class. This week we are looking at the ten candidates, one-by-one, to assess their Hall worthiness. Next up: Lou Piniella

The case for his induction:

He notched 1,835 wins, made seven postseason appearances, a won a World Series as a manager. That win total is good for 14th all time. Of the 13 men ahead of him, 12 are already in the Hall. The only who isn’t is Gene Mauch, who was under .500 for his career. Connie Mack and Bucky Harris are in that crowd and they were under .500 too, but Mack is kind of a special case as the all-time wins leader and Harris, well, I dunno, he hung around forever and the Veterans Committee was a different beast back in the 1970s. Point is, if you have Piniella’s win total and you’re over .500, as Piniella is, you’re probably getting in, at least eventually.

A lot of those wins came in some good places and at some good times, adding some psychological weight to that record. Taking the 1990 Reds to the World Series and beating the heavily favored A’s was a great story and, as the Reds’ last title for 26 years and counting, stands as a more memorable accomplishment than doing it someplace else. Likewise, his next job, in Seattle, coincided with the franchise’s best seasons thanks to the emergence of Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson and Edgar Martinez under Piniella’s command. Mariners’ history fundamentally changed during the Piniella era and he will always be associated with that. Oh, and his 2001 team set the single season record for wins with 116. He made two playoff appearances with the Cubs too. That’s been eclipsed by the 2016 team’s exploits, but it was a pretty big deal at the time.

It’s also worth noting that Piniella likewise had a very fine playing career, with 18 seasons of 109 OPS+ hitting, a Rookie of the Year Award and a couple of World Series rings on his resume. That’s not enough by itself to get him in the Hall, but he presents a nice total package as a Baseball Man Supreme who has been thought highly of for close to 50 years now.

Oh, one other thing: he was colorful. He had a temper and a repuatation as kind of a red ass, with a good number of on-the-field incidents which stick in people’s minds. That sort of thing doesn’t necessarily make someone a good manager or a good person, but Piniella has been seen as a guy who mellowed with age and, at various times in his career, showed that he had a sense of humor about all of that stuff which makes it play a heck of a lot better. For Hall of Fame purposes, it certainly plays a heck of a lot more memorably.

The case against his induction:

His years in Tampa Bay weren’t all that great and, by the time his days in Chicago were over there was a sense that he was sort of running on fumes and padding that win total to get him into that top 14. In both places Joe Maddon eventually came along and did better things and, in some cases, undoing some bad things Piniella did. Some believe he should’ve won another pennant or two and, yes, some of those Mariners teams disappointed in the postseason. Some people look less amusingly on his temper tantrums over the years and, I suppose, one could characterize them a bit more sinisterly than I did above without being too dramatic.

Would I vote for him?

I think so. As I mentioned in the George Steinbrenner entry, when it comes to managers and executives, I put a lot of weight on whether one could tell the story of baseball in a guy’s era without mentioning his name. Piniella is no Joe Torre, Bobby Cox of Tony La Russa in that regard, but he’s pretty close to that group in terms of the figure he cut in the game and, as I mentioned, he’s critical to the story of a couple of franchises. Certainly the Mariners but also the 1970s Yankees as a player and, possibly, the 1990 Reds. I tend to be a softer Hall of Fame touch than a lot of people, so I get that people may disagree, but I’d put him in.

Will the Committee vote for him?

Hard to say. On the one hand, Piniella feels like the sort of baseball man that gets rewarded by the Veterans Committee. On the other hand, the Veterans Committee took ages to vote in some other notable managers such as Whitey Herzog, suggesting that maybe Piniella will have to wait. This is the first year for the new composition of the Veterans Committe, however, so it’s hard to say if they’ll be tougher or easier graders. He may be the hardest call of all of the guys on this year’s ballot.

Twins hire James Rowson as their hitting coach

BOSTON, MA - June 4: The Minnesota Twins logo is seen during the fifth inning of the game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on June 4, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)
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The Minnesota Twins have announced that they have hired James Rowson as their hitting coach.

Rowson was the minor league hitting coordinator for the New York Yankees for seven of the last nine seasons, interrupted by a short stint with the Chicago Cubs as minor league hitting coordinator. He also worked at the minor league levels with the Los Angeles Angels. He played in the minors for the Seattle Mariners and Yankees.

Rowson replacesTom Brunansky, who was hitting coach for the past four seasons.