The Angels are in on Cliff Lee too; Rangers to pay him a visit

12 Comments

It’s not just the Yankees: Ken Rosenthal reports that the Angels — now free from the burden of having to pay Carl Crawford! — are bidding on Cliff Lee.

There’s not a ton of context to this and it’s hard to tell if it’s serious interest or, like Boston’s, merely head games, but the Angels do have some money to spend.  You figure Adrian Beltre is now their biggest target — and their roughly $100M offer to Crawford suggests that Beltre is more doable for them — but Lee wouldn’t be impossible if they’re sufficiently desperate.

In other Lee news, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Rangers are sending a delegation to Little Rock today to meet with Cliff Lee and his agent, Darek Braunecker, who decamped Orlando yesterday. One wonders — based on what Nolan Ryan said last night — if this meeting will be a “we want to leave with you signed. Tell us what you want and we’ll do it now; if not, we’re out” kind of meeting.

The Yankees have to have this in the bag, though.  With Boston adding $300 million in talent in the past four days, New York has to unleash a counter attack, right? Because this is war, and that’s what you do in a war.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
5 Comments

A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.