Trade deadline fallout

Leave a comment

We’ve already heard about who was traded, what could have been, and who the winners and losers are, but here’s my take on just some of the fallout from around the league:

MLB_Encarnacion.jpg

– Edwin Encarnacion going to the Blue Jays might be the best thing that possibly could have happened to him. As I wrote last weekend,
I thought the trade was a brutal idea from the Reds’ perspective, and I
hold true to that, but Encarnacion benefits big-time with this trade,
moving over to an organization where he has a real chance to flourish.
He’ll never be a great play with the glove, and a move to the outfield
or first base would serve him well in the future, but don’t be
surprised to see a 30-HR, 100 RBI season in short order.

– With Nick Johnson headed to Florida, Adam Dunn figures to see most
of his time at first base now (at least he can hide a little bit over
there), with Elijah Dukes being called up for another opportunity in
the outfield. One interesting tidbit, don’t discount Josh Willingham at
first base. He played the eighth and ninth innings of Friday’s game
there.

– Before Kenny Williams shocked the baseball world with the Jake
Peavy trade, Victor Martinez was the big fish of the day. He joins a
crowded C/1B/3B/DH scenario in Boston with Jason Varitek, Mike Lowell,
Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz and the newly-acquired Casey Kotchman all
itching for at-bats. It’s a stroke of genius by Theo Epstein and an
embarassment of riches for manager Terry Francona. This way he can keep
Lowell and Tek’ fresh for a run at the post-season, while playing
matchups as he sees fit without losing much offensively. That said, for
the fantasy baseball set, it’s a mess. You hate the Red Sox right now.

– With Jeff Clement tearing up minor league pitching — he slugged
two homers in his debut for Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday night —
this might be Steve Pearce’s last chance to make it in the Pirates
organization. Now 26-years-old, the former top-prospect will get the
majority of starts at first base with Adam LaRoche out of the way.
Pearce has 89 homers in 517 career minor league games, but a
.256/.310/.411 line through 219 at-bats in the majors have critics
deeming him your classic AAAA hitter. Pirates’ fans hope he’s more like
the player they saw last September (four homers in 51 at-bats). We’ll
see.

– Now that Orlando Cabrera was shipped off to Minnesota, 2005
first-round pick Cliff Pennington gets the call from Triple-A
Sacramento. Just to show you how far the 2004 Rookie of the Year Bobby
Crosby has fallen, Athletics general manager Billy Beane said that
Pennington will get “the benefit of a long trial” at the position. But
with a .242 batting average in 99 at-bats in the majors and a
.264/.345/.367 line at Sacramento this season, the jury is out on
Pennington, too.

– Calling himself a closer by “default,” Jim Johnson will take over
ninth-inning duties in Baltimore now that George Sherrill calls
Mannywood home. He’s probably right. The 3.25 ERA over his first two
seasons looks great — as does the 55.6 career groundball rate. But
without the benefit of a pure strikeout pitch, Johnson has averaged
just 5.46 K/9 over his first 98 games in the majors. Likewise, his 3.61
BB/9 doesn’t breed much confidence. Expect some sweaty palms in
Baltimore.

– One more note on the Pirates, since they’ve had so much turnover
recently. Delwyn Young, once heralded as a top prospect in the Dodgers
organization, is very quietly batting .310/.375/.420 with four home
runs and 22 RBI in 174 at-bats with the Pirates this season. Without a
suitable replacement for Freddy Sanchez in the Pittsburgh pipeline, the
27-year-old will get a good look-see at second base. That said, serious
questions about his defense remain. And with a .410 BABIP, color me
skeptical.

Marlins still searching for starting pitching depth

Aaron Harang
AP Photo/Matt Slocum
Leave a comment

The Marlins would like to add “another pitcher or two” before pitchers and catchers report to Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes. Among starting pitchers available, Kyle Lohse, Aaron Harang, and Alfredo Simon are candidates for the Marlins, but they may hold out for the possibility of inking a major league contract. Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee are other potential candidates, per Frisaro.

This offseason, the Marlins signed Wei-Yin Chen to a five-year, $80 million deal and Edwin Jackson for the major league minimum. The back of the rotation, though, is still a question mark as Jarred Cosart, Adam Conley, and Justin Nicolino will compete with Jackson for two spots. David Phelps is dealing with an elbow injury and may or not be ready by Opening Day, but he could function in a swingman capacity as well.

Shocker: Bruce Bochy tabs Madison Bumgarner to start Opening Day

Madison Bumgarner
AP Photo/Ben Margot
7 Comments

You might want to sit down for this news. Giants manager Bruce Bochy has tabbed ace Madison Bumgarner to start on Opening Day in Milwaukee against the Brewers, CSN Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic reports. Shocking, I know.

The Giants had a busy offseason, adding Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija to the starting rotation, but neither had a shot at getting the Opening Day nod considering what Bumgarner has done for the Giants over the last five seasons.

Since the start of the 2011 season, the 26-year-old lefty compiled a 3.05 ERA with 1,034 strikeouts and 239 walks across 1,050 innings. Among starters who logged at least 800 innings in that span of time, only Clayton Kershaw, Cueto, Zack Greinke, David Price, and Felix Hernandez have posted lower ERAs.  And Bumgarner is the only one among them with a championship ring. In fact, he has three.

Tony Clark is not happy so many players remain unsigned

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 18-19 - This Jan. 15, 2014 photo showing new baseball union head Tony Clark during an interview at the organization's headquarters, in New York. Clark has big shoes to fill _ and not just as Michael Weiner's replacement as head of the baseball players' union. Moving from Arizona to New Jersey, the former big league All-Star also needed to find size 15 snowshoes.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
AP Photo/Richard Drew
13 Comments

We’re almost halfway through February. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training soon. And yet, there are more than a handful of solid free agents that remain unsigned. Among them: Yovani Gallardo, Ian Desmond, and Dexter Fowler. All three have draft pick compensation tied to them, as each rejected a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from his respective former team. That, undoubtedly, is a reason why they haven’t inked a contract yet.

MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark is unhappy about this reality and expects to discuss potential changes when the next collective bargaining agreement is negotiated. The current CBA expires after the 2016 season. Per the Associated Press, Clark said last week, “I think it’s disappointing when there are as many talented players still without a home. I don’t think it’s in anyone’s best interest to be in a world where very talented players are at home for whatever reason they are there. It will likely be a part of the conversation in bargaining.”

Clark also mentioned, among other things, the possibility of a draft lottery, which would take away the incentive for teams to “tank”, or lose on purpose. The Astros and Phillies have notably done this in recent years, finishing with baseball’s worst record and thus netting the #1 overall draft pick.

These are, however, simply two items of many that will be discussed during the upcoming offseason. It will be interesting to see what solutions are eventually put in place.

Michael Pineda hopes to reach 200-inning mark for first time

New York Yankees' Michael Pineda delivers a pitch during the third inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
AP Photo/Adam Hunger
2 Comments

It was reported on Friday that Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka isn’t sure if he’ll be ready for Opening Day as he makes his way back from arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow. His health will be crucial to the Yankees’ chances this season, but the same goes for rotation-mate Michael Pineda, who hopes that this is the year he’ll be able to take on the workload of a frontline starter.

Pineda was on pace for a career-high in innings last season, but he landed on the disabled list in late July with a right flexor forearm muscle strain and missed a month. He struggled upon his return and ended up with 160 2/3 innings, so he fell short of his career-high of 171 innings as a rookie with the Mariners way back in 2011. Now going into his age-27 season, Pineda told Bryan Hoch of MLB.com that his goal for 2016 is to reach 200 innings for the first time in his career.

“For me, this year, I’m coming here early to be strong and working hard to pitch 200 innings this year,” Pineda said at the club’s Minor League complex. “I want to throw 200 innings this year. This is my goal, and help my team.”

Pineda had a mediocre 4.37 ERA (90 ERA+) last season despite impressive peripherals with 8.7 K/9 and 1.2 BB/9. Among pitchers with at least 160 innings pitched, only Bartolo Colon of the Mets had a lower walk percentage. Pineda managed to increase his ground ball rate to 48.2 percent and also saw an uptick in velocity from 2014, so there’s reason to believe in improvement if he can stay healthy.