Hey, crazy trade talk has started early this year!

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One of the things I love about the early hot stove season is the crazy trade talk. Once things get going hot and heavy in December people get realistic, but in the few days after a team is eliminated you get all kinds of insane speculation.

An excellent example of it comes in Jeff Schultz’s column at the AJC today. The overall point — should the Braves trade Jair Jurrjens? — is an interesting and valuable one. Maybe they should, if he’s not already seen as damaged goods.  But the tag at the end of the piece is red meat for my crazy trade talk fixation:

I’ll leave you with this: Columbus, Ga., native and St. Louis center field Colby Rasmus clashed this season with manager Tony La Russa and
requested a trade two months ago. Would you be willing to part with
Jurrjens if he was part of a Rasmus trade?

The answer, yes. And I’d even be willing to throw in a couple hundred bucks to pay for the lobotomy that would be required for John Mozeliak to even consider it.

But the real beauty of that is the reference to Rasmus being from Columbus, Georgia. As if he’d have any real say in where he goes, thereby rendering the Braves a more likely target, even if the Cardinals were foolish enough to trade him.  It’s that kind of little hook — geography usually, but sometimes a relationship with one of the target team’s coaches or something — that really makes the “hey, what the hell” trade speculation special.

I’m not trying to slam Schultz here. Fans and bloggers and stuff are way worse about coming up with silly trade scenarios. Just using his piece as an example of the stuff we can expect a flood of after the postseason is over.  It’s what keeps us warm in the cold winter months, ya know?

Yankees decide to keep Luis Severino on regular rest, give Twins potential Wild Card preview

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II
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Yankees starter Luis Severino pitched last Friday, putting him on track to start Wednesday’s series finale against the Twins. The Yankees mulled the possibility of pushing him back to start on Friday against the Blue Jays after an off day on Thursday so that the Twins wouldn’t get an early look at Severino in a potential AL Wild Card matchup.

However, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports that Severino will indeed start on Wednesday against the Twins instead of Masahiro Tanaka. Hoch adds that Severino’s preference is to pitch on regular rest.

Severino, 23, has been the Yankees’ best starter this year and would be the most reliable arm in a must-win game. The right-hander is carrying a 13-6 record with a 2.93 ERA and a 218/49 K/BB ratio in 184 1/3 innings.

Entering Tuesday’s action, the Yankees hold a five-game lead over the Twins for the first Wild Card slot. The Angels hold a 1.5-game lead over the Angels for the second slot. The Yankees are also very much in the AL East race, trailing the Red Sox by only three games with 12 games left in the regular season.

You should probably pay attention to Matt Olson

Associated Press
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The claim of “East Coast Bias” is often hurled as an accusation of smug superiority, and it’s often met with denial, but it’s a thing. It’s not the exact thing the west coast people think it is — it’s not hate, it’s just a function of time zones and TV ratings — but there are certainly factors that cause stuff that happens in California to get shorter shrift than that which happens back east, where most of the national media people are.

One thing getting short shrift this year: the performance of Oakland A’s first baseman Matt Olson, which one has to imagine would be getting all kinds of press if he played back east.

Wait, we don’t have to imagine that at all. Because Olson is doing basically the exact same thing Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez did last year, and Sanchez got tons of headlines for it while I’m guessing most baseball fans who either (a) live outside of the Bay Area; or (b) aren’t big fantasy players, attuned to all of the latest callups, haven’t heard Olson’s name much if at all . Their respective lines:

  • Sanchez 2016: 53 games, .299/.376/.657, 20 HR, 168 OPS+
  • Olson 2017: 54 games, .267/.360/.663, 22 HR 168 OPS+

Sanchez’s rate stats were better but Olson is doing it in tougher parks for hitters. Obviously Sanchez is catching and Olson playing the corner, but a dude coming out of the minors to put up these kinds of numbers in the final two months of the season is rare. That it’s happening again, in almost the same way, is quite the thing.

Part of the reason for the discrepancy in press is that Sanchez was making a strong argument for the Rookie of the Year Award despite playing less than half the season whereas Olson has no shot given what Aaron Judge has done this year. But I’m guessing more of it is simply a function of Olson’s games starting at 10:30 or so back east and most of us not seeing what he does unless we look at the box scores the next day.

Still, Olson, the A’s first round pick from 2012, is not someone to sleep on. And, given that he hit 23 homers in 79 minor league games this year — the last guy to hit 20 in both the bigs and minors in the same year was Giancarlo Stanton — he’s not a fluke. Indeed, he’s one of the few rays of sunshine for the Oakland Athletics. And someone to whom us folks back east should pay a bit more attention.