Position-by-position trade deadline preview: Left field & right field

3 Comments

This is the sixth in a series of articles looking at players who might be available in the days leading up to the July 31 trade deadline.
Jayson Werth (Phillies) – It seemed inconceivable two months ago, but the Phillies have been willing to discuss Werth because of their need for pitching and their ability to plug the game’s No. 1 prospect, Domonic Brown, into his spot in right field. A trade, however, did seem a bit more likely a couple of weeks ago than it does now. The Rays, considered one of the top suitors, no longer appear to be in the mix, and the possibility of Roy Oswalt coming to Philly, a move that may have required a Werth trade, has diminished. Besides, teams have to be wondering if Werth is really worth that big of a ransom. He’s a free agent at season’s end, his production has dropped every month this season and he’s been downright ordinary outside of Citizens Bank Park (.259/.365/.414 with three homers in 174 at-bats). He’ll probably finish out the year in Philadelphia.
Corey Hart (Brewers) – Hart was up for grabs over the winter after back-to-back disappointing seasons, but no one bit. After losing playing time to Jim Edmonds initially, he’s come back with what could go down as a career year, as he has 22 homers and 70 RBI through 89 games. Like Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks, Hart is a free agent after 2011, and the Brewers may well have to part with at least one member of the group with all being due for big raises in arbitration over the winter. Hart, making $4.85 million this year, figures to see his salary jump to $8 million-$10 million if he goes on to have a 35-homer season. The Giants have led the way in trade talks regarding Hart, though those whispers were louder earlier this month than they are now. He could also be an option for the Padres and Rays.
Josh Willingham (Nationals) – The Nats probably can’t risk going long-term with both Adam Dunn and Willingham, so one could be moved this week. Another right-handed slugger, Willingham has less to offer defensively than Werth or Hart, but he’s just as good of a hitter as either. He’s batting .273/.401/.479 in 311 at-bats so far this season. A major cause for concern is his history of back problems, but that’s a bigger worry for the team that eventually signs him to a long-term contract. He’s played in 96 of the Nationals’ 99 games this season, and he hasn’t actually missed time because of his back since 2008. Willingham has the same contract situation as Hart: he’s making $4.6 million now and he’ll be eligible for free agency for the first time after next year. Since he doesn’t cover as much ground in the outfield, he should be less attractive to the Giants and Padres than Hart. However, he could really help the AL East powers with his bat.
Luke Scott (Orioles) – One of the game’s most underrated hitters, Scott has quietly batted .295/.364/.583 with 17 homers in 254 at-bats for the Orioles this season. Of course, Camden Yards has played a role there. In fact, Scott’s road OPSs the last three years are completely pedestrian: 753, 727 and 743 so far this season. Then again, he never gets to face Orioles pitching and that’d probably be good for an extra 50 points of OPS if he changed teams. While he’s been used primarily as a DH the last two years, Scott is a solid defender in left field and he’s gaining some experience at first base. He should be an option for NL teams as well as AL squads. Baltimore is willing to move him since he’s 32 and he’s due a nice raise before becoming eligible for free agency after next year. His left-handed bat would look very good in the middle of the heavily right-handed White Sox lineup.
Scott Podsednik (Royals) – The Royals have never been ones to admit defeat, and with David DeJesus down, they might just hold on to Podsednik just so that they don’t have to resort to committing so many at-bats to Alex Gordon and Mitch Maier. Still, they’d be crazy not to part with him if the price is right. Podsednik has been a fine top-of-the-order hitter this year, batting .308/.352/.400 with 30 steals in 42 attempts, but at age 34, it’s not like he’s a big part of the Royals’ future. Other than the injury-prone Coco Crisp, Podsednik is the one true leadoff man available, and that could be worth an extra prospect in trade talks. He’s another possibility for San Diego, and the Dodgers may want him as a fourth outfielder.
Garrett Jones (Pirates) – Jones took the league by surprise as a 28-year-old rookie last year, hitting .293/.372/.567 with 21 homers in 314 at-bats for the Pirates. NL pitchers, though, have had a lot more success against him in year two. His current .270/.333/.422 line is a lot closer to what his minor league numbers suggested he’d hit. Jones won’t even be arbitration eligible next year, so the Pirates may want to keep him around as an extremely cheap regular. Still, if they can get a couple of intriguing prospects for him now, they should go for it and then start looking to find the next Jones. The Angels are believed to have asked about him, and he could also be a fit with the White Sox or with the Rangers as a replacement for Magglio Ordonez.
Jose Guillen (Royals) – Guillen has been on the block for a year and a half, but now that he has just a bit more than $4 million left on his three-year, $36 million contract, a deal is finally realistic. The 34-year-old has 16 homers and 59 RBI this season, though his overall .271/.333/.457 line is less impressive. He’s also a liability in the outfield. FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal suggested that the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Padres and Giants could be interested in Guillen, and it’s believed the Royals and Mets have discussed various forms of deals involving Guillen and Jeff Francoeur.
Austin Kearns (Indians) – It looked like Kearns might revive his career in Cleveland after he hit .373/.429/.627 in April, but the 30-year-old has done little while playing regularly over the last three months and he’s currently down to .266/.349/.408 on the season. On the plus side, he has hit .288/.366/.449 away from Progressive Field. Kearns also remains a quality defensive outfielder capable of playing part-time in center if necessary. The Padres, Red Sox, Dodgers and Giants are among the teams that could use him as a fourth outfielder.
Kosuke Fukudome (Cubs) – Just like in his previous seasons, Fukudome opened 2010 in grand fashion and then faded fast. He still has an adequate .253/.356/.410 line for the season, but he’s been a liability since his big April. The Cubs will be willing to eat a portion of the $4 million+ he’s owed over the rest of this year and the $13.5 million he’s due next year, but since he doesn’t seem like a good bet to help a contender right now, an in-season deal remains unlikely. He’ll probably get moved over the winter.
Jeff Francoeur (Mets) – Francoeur hasn’t posted a 700 OPS against righties since 2007, but he still thinks of himself as a full-time outfielder and he’s made it clear he’d welcome a trade away from the Mets if it came with more playing time. If he goes anywhere this week, it will probably be to Kansas City. However, even if the Royals truly want him, they’d be better off signing him after he’s non-tendered this winter.
Ryan Church (Pirates) – Church has had a disastrous season in Pittsburgh, hitting just .187/.242/.319 in 166 at-bats, and at this rate, he could well end up in Japan next year. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but he hasn’t been the same player since suffering multiple concussions in 2008. The Pirates will gladly give him away if anyone comes calling.
Catcher
First base
Second base
Third base
Shortstop

Collins worried David Wright might go on disabled list

Washington Nationals v New York Mets
1 Comment

NEW YORK (AP) Mets manager Terry Collins is worried David Wright may wind up on the disabled list because of a neck injury.

New York’s captain and third baseman was out of the starting lineup for the third straight day Monday because of his neck. He was given anti-inflammatory medicine over the weekend.

Now 33, Wright was on the disabled list from April 15 to Aug. 24 last year when he strained his right hamstring and then developed spinal stenosis. He has a lengthy physical therapy routine he must go through before each game.

“With the condition he’s been playing in and the condition he’s in right now, yeah, I’m concerned about it,” Collins said Monday. “Is it going to happen? I can’t tell you. I don’t know. I’m not a doctor. I know this guy plays with a lot of discomfort. He always has. And when he can’t play, he’s hurt.”

Wright homered in three straight games last week before getting hurt. He is batting .226 with seven homers, 14 RBIs and 55 strikeouts in 137 at-bats.

Settling the Scores: Memorial Day edition

ARLINGTON, VA - MAY 21:  American flags are shown after being placed by members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment at the graves of U.S. soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery, in preparation for Memorial Day May 21, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia. "Flags-In" has become an annual ceremony since the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) was designated to be an Army's official ceremonial unit in 1948  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Getty Images
11 Comments

Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who died in military service. At some point in the past couple of decades, however, it has become an all-purpose flag-waving, patriotism-declaring, civilians-in-camouflage holiday. It’s understandable why this is the case. We, as a country, haven’t always done mourning well. I think it’s part of our national cultural DNA that we don’t and it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make days like this difficult.

I feel like the flag-waving and troop-supporting stuff is some sort of subconscious reaction to death. It’s our way of instantly trying to justify those deaths or to explain how they were not in vain, much the same way we might tell someone upon the death of a loved one that they’re in a better place or that they had a full life. Feeling the pain of loss is hard. We want to soften it in any way we can and make our pain serve a larger, better purpose. And so we get today, when Major League Baseball puts its players in camouflage caps and in jerseys with camouflage logos. They’ll sell them too, with proceeds going to good and noble veterans charities. The intent is noble and the ultimate effect of it all is beneficial. But it’s also a little beside the point. Maybe not beside the point as much as mattress sales or big celebratory barbecues which have come to characterize Memorial Day for so many, but still not exactly the purpose of the holiday.

I don’t condemn it. As I wrote last year, the men and women who actually fought and died in wars were hoping that they were, ultimately, making a better and happier world for those they left behind. And they no doubt hoped, among everything else they hoped, that others didn’t have to face what they were facing. They wanted our lives to be happy and our country to be safe and part of a happy and safe country involves 300 million people doing whatever it is they damn please, even if it’s just having barbecues and wearing camo at the ballpark.

I won’t say have a happy Memorial Day because that seems odd. Have any kind of Memorial Day you want, really, even if it includes barbecuing, drinking beer and wearing a cam ballcap. But as you do, please make sure you take some time to think about those who died in military service. And remember that they didn’t get to have as many days like the one you’re having as they were meant to have. And make at least some effort to offset your happy, patriotic or silly pursuits with some mourning and reflectiveness. It’s OK for that to stand on its own.

The scores:

Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 3
Orioles 6, Indians 4
Yankees 2, Rays 1
Nationals 10, Cardinals 2
Brewers 5, Reds 4
Royals 5, White Sox 4
Cubs 7, Phillies 2
Rangers 6, Pirates 2
Astros 8, Angels 6
Athletics 4, Tigers 2
Twins 5, Mariners 4
Giants 8, Rockies 3
Diamondbacks 6, Padres 3
Marlins 7, Braves 3
Dodgers 4, Mets 2

 

Should Dave Roberts have taken Clayton Kershaw out of Sunday’s game?

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch in the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field on May 29, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
22 Comments

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will likely be second-guessed heavily during tomorrow’s news cycle. Starter Clayton Kershaw had pitched a terrific ballgame, as is his tendency, but with 114 pitches to his name, Roberts decided to pull him from the game in the eighth inning with two outs and a runner on first base.

Roberts opted not for closer Kenley Jansen, who hasn’t pitched since Wednesday, but for another lefty in Adam Liberatore. He was playing the numbers, with the left-handed-hitting Curtis Granderson coming up. Liberatore, much to Roberts’ chagrin, served up what turned out to be a game-tying triple to Granderson, hitting a rocket to right-center just out of the reach of a leaping Yasiel Puig.

Jansen has, for six years, been one of the game’s elite relievers. Kershaw, though at a high pitch count, doesn’t seem to suffer from the times through the order penalty like most pitchers. Kershaw’s opponents’ OPS facing him for the first time was .525 coming into Sunday. Twice, .597. Three times, .587. Four times, .526 (but this suffers from survivorship bias so it’s not exactly representative).

Furthermore, Kershaw held lefties to a .546 OPS over his career. Liberatore, in 99 plate appearances against lefty hitters, gave up a .575 OPS. Jansen? .560. It seems that, faced with three decisions, Roberts arguably made the worst one. Playing conservative with Kershaw at 114 pitches is defensible, but only if Jansen comes in. If Roberts wanted the platoon advantage, Kershaw should have stayed in.

Luckily for the Dodgers, Mets closer Jeurys Familia didn’t have his best stuff. He loaded the bases with one out in the top of the ninth on a single and two walks, then gave up a two-run single to Adrian Gonzalez, giving the Dodgers a 4-2 lead. Jansen came on in the bottom half of the ninth and retired the side in order to pick up his 15th save of the season.

Royals sweep White Sox over the weekend on three late rallies

KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 28:  Brett Eibner #12 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates his game-winning RBI single with teammates in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium on May 28, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals won 8-7. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
5 Comments

The Royals had themselves a pretty good weekend. The quickly fading White Sox, not so much.

On Friday, the Royals fell behind 5-1 after the top of the sixth. They would score once in the bottom of the sixth, four times in the seventh, and once in the eighth to steal a 7-5 win facing pitchers Miguel Gonzalez Dan Jennings, Matt Albers, Zach Duke and Nate Jones.

On Saturday, the Royals entered the bottom of the ninth down 7-1. They scored seven runs on closer David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to win 8-7.

On Sunday, the Royals were down 4-2 after the top of the eighth. They plated three runs in the bottom half of the eighth against Jones and Albers, going on to win 5-4.

Coming into the weekend, the Royals were 24-22 in third place. The White Sox were 27-21, a half-game up in first place. Now the Royals are in first place by a game and a half, and the White Sox are in third place, two games out of first.

Here’s video of the Royals’ comeback on Saturday, since it was so unlikely: