Carlos Beltran

Mets hold firm, get best available prospect for Carlos Beltran

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UPDATE, 11:13 PM: Beltran has accepted the trade, which will be made official on Thursday morning.

3:30 PM: It’s not official yet — because Carlos Beltran has no-trade protection, he can’t be officially moved until 24 hours after the deal is agreed to — but all indications are that the Mets are sending their All-Star right fielder and cash to the Giants for top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler.

And that’s a very good pickup for the Mets.  Wheeler isn’t one of the game’s top five pitching prospects, but he may be in the top 10 and he’s almost certainly in the top 15.  Pitching for Single-A San Jose in the high-offense California League, the sixth overall pick from the 2009 draft is 7-5 with a 3.99 ERA and a 98/47 K/BB ratio in 88 innings this season.  He’s struck out 168 batters and walked 85 in 146 2/3 innings as a pro.

Wheeler has an excellent delivery and does a better job of generating velocity with his legs than most.  His curveball rates as one of the best strikeout pitches in the minors.  ProjectProspect.com had a great scouting report on him from a couple of months ago, including some GIFs of his windup.

Considering that the Mets weren’t even going to get a draft pick or two if Beltran left as a free agent this winter, it’s a great return for them.  Wheeler probably won’t contribute until 2013, but he could be a top-of-the-rotation guy if things break right.

As for the Giants, they get the middle-of-the-order bat they believed they needed to help their chances of repeating this October.  The only problem there is that they’ve actually gotten more production from left field and right field than any other positions this year.  Here’s how their team OPS by position breaks down:

LF: .733
RF: .730
3B: .712
CF: .691
C: .687
1B: .676
2B: .669
SS: .599

To make room for Beltran, either Nate Schierholtz or Cody Ross is going to take a seat.  Schierholtz has a .764 OPS that ranks second on the team to Pablo Sandoval’s .834 mark.  Ross isn’t far behind at .746.  Both are also above average defenders in the outfield corners.

Really, though, it’s not such a big problem.  Ross has an .834 OPS against lefties, compared to a .720 mark versus righties.  Schierholtz has an .802 OPS against righties, as opposed to a .584 OPS versus lefties.  A straight platoon makes all kinds of sense, if manager Bruce Bochy is willing to reduce Ross’ role that significantly.  If Ross plays over Schierholtz against righties, then the Giants are probably hurting themselves.

But the Giants did need Beltran.  As long as he can stay healthy, the team is now in much better position to take down the Phillies in the postseason again.  A look at the new lineup:

CF Andres Torres
SS Mike Fontenot/2B Jeff Keppinger
3B Pablo Sandoval
RF Carlos Beltran
1B Aubrey Huff
LF Nate Schierholtz/Cody Ross
2B Jeff Keppinger/SS Mike Fontenot, Miguel Tejada, Brandon Crawford
C Eli Whiteside

It’s still far from perfect.  Ideally, the Giants would still go get a catcher or a shortstop to replace Tejada on the roster.  It’s much improved, though.

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.

The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?

Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.

The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.

I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
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ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.

MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.

Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.

Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: