The excellent blog Jorge Says No! has an interesting post up this morning looking at those players who make 20% or more of their team’s total payroll.
By JSN’s count, there are only four members of that club: Michael Young, Barry Zito, Brian Giles and Todd Helton. Giles back-doored into that club via the Padres’ payroll slashing. Young, Zito and Helton all represent wild to near-wild over-payments by their teams. The implication here is that having a 20% guy probably means that a low-to mid payroll team made a business mistake.
This is important, JSN notes, because there are three guys who play for such teams who could very easily become 20% guys if they’re retained and if the teams don’t make a commitment to substantially increase overall payroll: Prince Fielder (2012), Grady Sizemore (2012) and Joe Mauer (2011). JSN breaks each of them down in an effort to see if their teams would make that kind of commitment to them.
I’m going to make you click through for JSN’s results and analysis, but my view is that the Brewers will trade Fielder because (a) he stands to decline a lot as he ages due to his size; (b) Milwaukee can get some pitching for him now, I’d wager; and (c) and they can slot Gamel or Braun in at first base to take up the slack once he’s gone.
I think the Indians will try hard to keep Sizemore because in addition to him being very, very hard to replace, he’s popular with fans in Cleveland in a way that CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee or Victor Martinez never were.
Aaron certainly has more insight into this than I do, but it strikes me that if the Twins don’t lock up Mauer, they may as well ask for relegation to AAA. Hometown stud catchers who entering their prime as a new ballpark opens are kinda hard to come by. If the Twins let him dangle, their fans will never forgive them and it will be awful hard for anyone to take the organization seriously.
And yes, you absolutely go over 20% for him.
There’s certainly never a bad time to hit a home run, but when you get the opportunity to crush a triple-deck, 493-foot shot off of Tyler Duffey, you should take it. With the Mariners down 2-0 to the Twins in the fourth inning, Cruz hammered a fastball to deep left field for his 39th long ball of the season — and the second-longest home run hit in 2016, to boot.
It doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are 1.5 games back of a playoff spot, although they’ll have to oust the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Tigers to get a wild card. They’ve gone 3-3 in the last week, dropping two consecutive series to the Astros and Blue Jays and taking their series opener against Minnesota 10-1 on Friday night.
Cruz, for his part, entered Saturday’s game with a .299/.337/.610 batting line and six home runs in September. According to ESPN.com’s Home Run Tracker, Cruz sits behind Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli with 13 “no-doubt” home runs in 2016, third-most among major league sluggers. It’s safe to say he can add Saturday’s moonshot to that list.
Marlins’ outfielder and undisputed home run king Giancarlo Stanton remains untouched at the top of the Statcast leaderboard with a 504-ft. home run, and it’s difficult to envision any slugger reaching beyond that before the end of the season. Even so, Cruz won’t need to clear 500 feet to extend an impressive hitting record. One more home run will put the 36-year-old at 40 on the year, making 2016 his third consecutive season with at least 40 homers, and his second such season doing so in Seattle.
It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.
On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.
At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.
If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.
Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.
Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.