Not content to acquire an awful player from the Royals at the deadline, the Braves got two! Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth. In exchange, the Braves give up reliever Jesse Chavez, outfielder Gregor Blanco and prospect Tim Collins, who just came over from the Blue Jays in the Yunel Escobar deal.
Ankiel hasn’t been particularly useful for over two years and he’s been hurt most of this year. He has played a lot of centerfield but he’s not good enough to be a centerfielder anymore, if indeed he ever truly was. He has some pop, but he doesn’t know how to get on base and hasn’t hit for average basically ever. You’ll recall that his pitching career effectively ended when he went all Steve Blass on the Braves in the 2000 NLDS. I guess Atlanta was forced to trade for him eventually on a “you broke it, you bought it” theory.
I called him terrible, but that’s not fair: Kyle Farnsworth has actually been good this year. A 2.42 ERA and he’s been walking far fewer battersand giving up fewer homers this year than he ever has. I won’t say he’s gotten smarter, but maybe he’s gained a certain kind of wisdom over the past year or so. Or maybe he’s just been lucky. It’s worth noting that this is his second stint with Atlanta, and his first stint — back in 2005 — was highly successful.
Chavez is a tomato can, so good riddance to him. Blanco has been nothing more than a fill-in for Atlanta and never will be much more than that. He really doesn’t have any place in Kansas City either, unless of course the Royals are looking for new and exciting ways to block Alex Gordon. Losing Tim Collins irks me. He is an utter monster strikeout machine and I think he could be pretty good as a major league reliever. He’s short, though, and apparently every general manager is obligated to discount the performances of short pitchers due to some blood oath. I don’t get it.
Ultimately the Braves get an outfielder — which they needed — but not necessarily a good one (update: intellectual honesty compels me to admit that, yes, Ankiel is probably a better option than running Melky out there every night). The interesting thing will be seeing whether the Braves still think Ankiel can play center (he can’t) or if they’ll play him in right and put Jason Heyward in center (better, but it scares me).
Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks’ new hitting coach is Dave Magadan, who “parted ways” with the Rangers last month after three years filling the same role in Texas.
Magadan also previously was the Red Sox’s hitting coach and his teams have generally done pretty well, including the Rangers scoring the third-most runs in the league this year.
He’ll have plenty of talent to work with in Arizona, as the Diamondbacks scored the second-most runs in the league led by Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, and David Peralta. Turner Ward, who had been Arizona’s hitting coach, chose to leave the team two weeks ago.
Jed Lowrie, who was traded from the Astros to the A’s in 2013 and then re-signed with the Astros as a free agent last offseason, has now been traded back to the A’s.
Lowrie got a three-year, $23 million deal from the Astros with the idea that he’d play shortstop in the first season and then move to another position whenever stud prospect Carlos Correa arrived. Instead he got hurt right away, Correa became an immediate star, and the Astros weren’t so keen on paying him $15 million over the next two seasons.
He could resume playing shortstop for the A’s, who watched rookie Marcus Semien make an absurd number of errors there this year. Lowrie hit .271 with a .738 OPS in two seasons in Oakland, which is similar to his career totals and makes him a solidly above-average offensive shortstop. There’s a decent chance the A’s will have a Lowrie-Lawrie double-play duo in 2016.
In return the Astros get minor leaguer Brendan McCurry, a 24-year-old right-hander who split 2015 between high Single-A and Double-A with a 1.86 ERA and 82/17 K/BB ratio in 63 relief innings. He was a 22nd-round draft pick in 2014 and doesn’t have exceptional raw stuff, but McCurry’s numbers are incredible so far.
There have been a lot of articles published in the past few days about how to navigate awkward Thanksgiving conversations with your relatives. Heck, we even wrote one.
But there’s always room for more! Such as “How to talk to your father at Thanksgiving dinner about the fact that he let you walk away from the only team you’ve ever known to sign with a division rival.” Which is what Alex Avila will likely be talking about with his father, Tigers GM Al Avila:
The older Avila can’t even say he did it because he’s opposed to nepotism. After all, he just hired his other son — who has had his law degree for just over a year — as the Tigers assistant legal counsel for baseball operations. Though I’m sure that wasn’t nepotism. He probably just aced the interview and impressed everyone more than the other candidates did.
OK, those are jokes. In all seriousness, this is a good move for Alex and Al and, probably, the White Sox. With the emergence of James McCann, there really is not space for Alex Avila in Detroit in anything other than a backup capacity. In Chicago, he’ll get more playing time. At least if he can (a) stay healthy; and (b) not hit .191/.339/.287 again like he did in 2015.
The best thing about minor Thanksgiving week transactions is that they are almost certainly done by GMs frantically looking for some work to do rather than go pick up their in-laws at the airport. I mean, sure, the player in question could very easily be an important player who fills a key role in the organization, but it’s not like it couldn’t have waited until Monday, right? This is the GM equivalent of you pretending you have to run into the office on Wednesday afternoon and, in reality, driving around in your car, listening to Neil Young and promising that NEXT YEAR you’re just doing a small Thanksgiving dinner with no family and, maybe, might even go on a little trip, just you and the wife.
Or is that just me? OK, maybe that’s just me.
Anyway, that’s how I’m choosing to view the Pirates activity today. First they traded for Allen Webster and now they’re signing minor league free agent first baseman/outfielder Jake Goebbert, according to Adam Berry of MLB.com.
Goebbert, 28, hit .294 with an .844 OPS and 10 homers for Triple-A El Paso last season. He has 115 plate appearances in the bigs, all for San Diego in 2014. Overall he has a line of .282/.386/.465 with 30 homers in 997 Triple-A plate appearances in the Astros, Athletics and Padres organizations.
Not a bad depth move, especially given that the Pirates are looking to trade Pedro Alvarez and otherwise re-jigger their first base situation.