I’m not really a draftnik. Amateur baseball players are a far flung lot and it’s not easy to keep track of them unless you’re Keith Law or someone and it’s your job to keep track of them. With the exception of the Bryce Harpers and Stephen Strasburgs of the world, I usually begin to get to know prospects after they’re drafted, not before.
But I do always have fun hearing those familiar names:
Bloodlines run strong in the Grand Old Game, and this year’s Draft has an intriguing group of young thoroughbreds champing at the bit to hear their names called in the big leagues’ favorite June post parade, which will be held from June 6-8.
The names jump out at any baseball fan who’s been paying attention over the past decades. From Bichette to Bonilla, from Boras to Bream, from Dunston to Garvey to Guillen to Pudge (well, Rodriguez), you’re going to see serious big league progeny over the rounds of this year’s draft.
Dwight Smith, Jr., the son of former Cub Dwight Smith, may be the headlining legacy case. Lateral moves are present as well, with the son of Wayne Gretzky also in the pool this year. Steve Garvey’s son Ryan is another notable, but save your jokes: Ryan is the son of Steve and his wife Candace Garvey and was born after all of that ugly business that popped up in the wake of his first wife’s autobiography. A shame, really.
I think the most fun, though, is Shane Boras, son of Scott. I don’t know how much of a prospect he is, but it would awesome if he were a stud, got drafted high and then held out until the 11th hour for a big bonus, represented by his dad, who kept dropping sound bytes about how awesome he was.
In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.
Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.
In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.
In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.
Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.
Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.
The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.
MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.
Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.
“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”
Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.
MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.
It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.