The man who sold the BBWAA on Bert Blyleven

9 Comments

Yesterday Jon Heyman made a reference to “the small coterie of Internet zealots” who are responsible for getting BBWAA voters to change their minds about Bert Blyleven and push him to the brink of election to the Hall of Fame.  While Heyman was unbelievably snotty in writing it like he did, he wasn’t technically wrong.  There is one man whose zeal — and unlike my friend Jon, I don’t consider that an epithet — rises above all others: Rich Lederer of Baseball Analysts.

Jon Paul Morosi profiles Rich today, and one thing is 100% clear: Lederer is no blogger stereotype trapped in the basement and telling baseball writers that they shouldn’t believe their own eyes. He’s a fan. A passionate one, whose father was a big league baseball writer, and who took up the cause of Blyleven’s Hall of Fame candidacy, not because his slide rule told him to, but because it just made a ton of sense.  Morosi does a good job with his story, and I recommend it.

It’s also worth noting that Blyleven isn’t the only person who got a boost from Rich Lederer. He may not realize it, but if it wasn’t for Rich, I probably wouldn’t be blogging here today. Rich was good enough to give me a couple of guest posts over at Baseball Analysts back in 2008 when no one knew who I was. Dave Studeman from the Hardball Times saw and liked those and that eventually led to him inviting me to bring my old Shysterball blog over to THT.  If I’m not writing at THT, it’s kind of doubtful that I’d have a sufficient profile to make anyone at NBC give a hoot about me.

So, thank you Rich.  Both for what you did for Bert Blyleven’s worthy candidacy, and for what you did for me.

Report: Diamondbacks acquire Steven Souza from Rays in part of three-team deal

Tampa Bay Rays
4 Comments

Update (6:35 PM ET): This is a three-team deal also involving the Diamondbacks, per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The Diamondbacks will receive outfielder Steven Souza from the Rays and second baseman Brandon Drury will head to the Yankees. Lefty reliever Anthony Banda will go to the Rays, Piecoro adds. The Diamondbacks will also receive prospect Taylor Widener from the Yankees, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert adds that the Rays will get two players to be named later from the D-Backs.

Souza, 28, is earning $3.55 million in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility, so the Rays are presumably saving money in moving him. Last season, Souza hit a productive .239/.351/.459 with 30 home runs, 78 RBI, 78 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 617 plate appearances. Souza’s arrival almost certainly pushes Yasmany Tomas out of a starting gig.

Drury, 25, has played a handful of positions in his brief major league career. Last year, he played second base in Arizona, batting .267/.317/.447 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI in 480 PA.

Banda, 24, made his major league debut last season, posting an ugly 5.96 ERA with a 25/10 K/BB ratio in 25 2/3 innings. The peripherals suggest he pitched better than his ERA indicated.

Widener, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the 12th round of the 2016 draft. This past season with High-A Tampa, he pitched 119 1/3 innings and posted a 3.39 ERA with a 129/50 K/BB ratio. MLB Pipeline rated Widener as the 14th-best prospect in the Yankees’ system.

*

Robert Murray of FanRag Sports reports that the Rays will acquire second base prospect Nick Solak from the Yankees. The Yankees’ return is presently not known.

Solak, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the second round of the 2016 draft. He spent last season between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, hitting a combined .297/.384/.452 with 12 home runs, 53 RBI, 72 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases.

MLB Pipeline ranked Solak as the eighth-best prospect in the Yankees’ system and the fifth-best second base prospect in baseball, praising him for his ability to hit line drives as well as his speed.