Rockies wrong to commit to second baseman Barmes

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barmes.jpgFrom the Denver Post’s Troy Renck comes the news that the Rockies are looking to sign starting second baseman Clint Barmes to a two-year deal with an option for 2012 that would buy out his first year of free agency.
On the surface, it might not seem like a bad idea at all. Having received 500 at-bats for the first time in his career, Barmes delivered 23 homers and 76 RBI last season. He’s also, without a doubt, one of the game’s best defensive second baseman. Furthermore, he won’t be particularly expensive. Barmes made $1.6 million in his first season of arbitration. He’s set for a nice raise after putting up such fine power numbers, probably to $3.5 million or so. Another year as a starter would get him up to about $5 million, so the Rockies could potentially save themselves some money if they could sign him for about $7.5 million.
Or they could save themselves far more by trading him and turning second base over to Eric Young Jr.
Barmes’ ample power production last season was a nice surprise, but it came with a .245 average and a dreadful .294 OBP. He had a 121/31 K/BB ratio in 550 at-bats. His career OBP is .299. He’s also a poor basestealer, getting thrown out on 10 of his 22 attempts last season.
Barmes has also been a huge offensive liability outside of Coors Field throughout his career. A big flyball hitter, he’s taken huge advantage of baseball’s most spacious outfield to hit .294/.336/.479 at home in his career. On the road, though, he falls all of the way to .222/.262/.351. Last year, he came in at .207/.251/.380 outside of Coors Field.
To put that in perspective, Neifi Perez was a career .267/.297/.375 hitter.
Young is about as different from Barmes as a second baseman can be. He doesn’t have any power, but he’s turned into a legitimate top-of-the-order threat, which is something the Rockies clearly need. The second-generation major leaguer hit .299/.387/.430 with 58 steals in 72 attempts for Triple-A Colorado Springs last season.
That’s not to say he’s a sure thing. He was less successful in 57 major league at-bats, coming in at .246/.295/.316. Also, for all of his speed, he’s a lesser defender than Barmes. He’s made a ton of progress these last two years, but he still might fit best as a major league utilityman.
For that reason, I’d support the idea of the Rockies keeping Barmes around for another year, but it should be with the thought that Young could overtake him and push him into a reserve role at some point. There’s no good reason to commit to Barmes for 2011 just yet. He’s turning 31 in March, and it’s entirely possible that 2008 and ’09 will go down as his best years as a major leaguer.

Julio Urias is on his way back to the majors

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 27:  Julio Urias #78 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the New York Mets during their game at Citi Field on May 27, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Dodgers 19-year-old rookie Julio Urias is coming back to the majors and Alex Wood is headed to the 15-day disabled list with left elbow soreness, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. Urias will likely start Saturday against the Braves, which will mark his debut in front of the home crowd.

Urias made his major league debut on Friday against the Mets at Citi Field, but lasted only 2 2/3 innings. He yielded three runs on five hits and four walks with three strikeouts.

Urias came into the season rated as the Dodgers’ #1 prospect and the #2 overall prospect in baseball. Prior to his promotion, he had compiled a 1.10 ERA with 44 strikeouts and eight walks over 41 innings with Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Mookie Betts enjoys a three-homer game against the Orioles

BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 31: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox follows his three run homer against the Baltimore Orioles in the second inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 31, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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The Red Sox seem to have hit the jackpot on all of their young players so far this year. Jackie Bradley, Jr. just had a 29-game hitting streak snapped. Xander Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to 24 games on Tuesday night. And Mookie Betts has been quite productive batting leadoff for the Red Sox this year, entering Tuesday with an even .800 OPS.

Betts, 23, hit 18 home runs in his first full season last year. With a three-homer night against the Orioles on Tuesday, he’s already up to 12 in 2016 with four months of season left. The first was of the solo variety, a line drive to center field off of Kevin Gausman in the first inning. Betts followed up in the third with a liner to left field for a three-run dinger off of Gausman. He made it three in the seventh, drilling a Dylan Bundy offering to right field.

Here’s video of homer number two:

Betts finished 3-for-5 as the Red Sox won 6-2 at Camden Yards.

The stats show the Pirates as an outlier in throwing “headhunter” pitches

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 5: Reliever Arquimedes Caminero #37 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the seventh inning at Busch Stadium on September 5, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Last week at ESPN Sweetspot’s Inside the Zona, Ryan Morrison looked into the data and found that the Pirates stand out among the rest when it comes to throwing “headhunter” pitches. Those are defined as fastballs 3.2 feet or higher and 1.2 feet towards the batter from the center of the plate.

The research was prompted because Diamondbacks second baseman Jean Segura was hit in the helmet by Pirates reliever Arquimedes Caminero last Tuesday in the seventh inning. The next inning, Caminero hit shortstop Nick Ahmed in the jaw with a pitch and was instantly ejected.

Morrison illustrated the data in a nice chart, which you should check out. The Pirates have thrown 93 of those pitches, which is way more than any other team. The next closest team is the Reds at 68 pitches. The major league average is approximately 48 pitches.

The Pirates have had an organizational philosophy of pitching inside since at least 2013, as MLB.com’s Tom Singer quoted manager Clint Hurdle as saying, “We’re not trying to hurt people, just staying in with conviction.”

Morrison goes on to suggest that the Diamondbacks should have forfeited last Wednesday and Thursday’s games against the Pirates in protest, out of concern for their players’ safety. As it happened, the D-Backs lost both games anyway, suffering a series sweep. The two clubs don’t meet again this season.

D-Backs manager Chip Hale said after last Tuesday’s game that Caminero “shouldn’t be at this level”. Caminero responded to those comments today, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. “I’m actually glad you asked me about that,” Caminero said. “The only thing I’ve got to say about (Hale) is that he is a perfect manager. And he was a perfect player, too. That’s it. I know what I did wasn’t good, but it happens in baseball. I wasn’t trying to hit anyone.”

I realize I’m late on pointing out Morrison’s terrific article and the whole debacle between the two teams, but I felt it was worth highlighting.

Jose Bautista: “I’d be stupid to leave” Toronto

TORONTO, CANADA - MAY 29: Jose Bautista #19 of the Toronto Blue Jayshits a two-run home run in the fifth inning during MLB game action against the Boston Red Sox on May 29, 2016 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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Also included in a recent report on Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista by Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated — along with his belief that Rougned Odor was the only bad guy in the May 15 debacle — was the slugger’s desire to remain a Blue Jay. Per Verducci, Bautista said, “I love the city. I’d be stupid to leave” Toronto.

Bautista, 35, is in the final year of a five-year, $65 million extension signed in February 2011. Back in November, the Jays exercised their 2016 club option for $14 million. Bautista isn’t willing to discuss contract details during the season, so the two sides will have to wait until at least October to come to an agreement.

Entering Tuesday’s game against the Yankees, Bautista is hitting .237/.371/.489 with 11 home runs, 37 RBI, and 40 walks, the latter of which leads the American League.