By: Noah Wright
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The Pirates are currently without a direct bridge for Gregory Polanco. After undergoing knee surgery, The Pirates don’t have a direct temporary replacement in right field. This is also an issue they’ve faced before, as they have not had a 4th outfielder since Matt Joyce in 2016, and not a good fielding 4th outfielder since 2015 with Travis Snider. And so, I think the perfect solution for this is Gerardo Parra.
The first thing I want to point out is his price. The Rockies will likely not give him $12 million for 2019, and will instead buyout his contract. I feel The Pirates can get on a low priced deal. Even though The Bucs may not be big spender, a contract of $6 million for one year should be within any team's budget.
Now let’s look at the assets he’ll bring with him. The first and most notable one he will carry to Pittsburgh is his fielding prowess, and experience in all 3 outfield positions. This season he’s mainly served as The Rockies left fielder, but saw 70 and two thirds innings in right field. In total, he was worth 6 DRS, 2.0 UZR, and .1 defensive WAR. Parra also had 9 outfield assists this year, along with a 1.1 outfield arm runs above average. His bat, while not one to bring 15-20 home runs to the team, won’t hurt the team. Parra finished the season with a .284/.342/.372 batting line with only 6 home runs, and 53 RBI’s. However what I do want to point out is the fact that he made hard contact 34.1% of the time, which is a near career high.
While Parra does hit for a decent average, and gets on base at a good enough clip, there’s 3 things that will make him more valuable to The Pirates than a handful of other teams: his bat in clutch situations this year, his success against NL central teams, and his spit’s away from Coors. Now this season, Parra is one player you would have wanted to bat when you needed to drive in a run. In the 114 times he stepped to the plate with men in scoring position, Parra hit for a .321/.407/.421 line. When there were just men on base in general, he hit .314/.386/.399. Then when the game is close and late, Parra has a .299 batting average. Even throughout his career, Parra isn’t a bad clutch hitter. With RISP, he’s got a career average of .271; with men on base he hits for a .290 average. So with him having the ability to be a clutch hitter, that could boost The Pirates above the mid-way point of RBI’s with RISP, as they ranked #16 last year. The next thing, while a bit surprising, is that he learned how to not rely on The Coors Factor. While he may have been using The Coors Factor to boost his numbers before this season, his 3rd year in Colorado displayed a better batting average and OPS away than at home. But probably the most valuable thing that he would bring to The Bucs is his success against NL Central teams. Against The Chicago Cubs, Parra has a .283 average; against The Cardinals he has a .290 average, and a .490 slugging %; against The Brewers he has a .298 average; against The Reds, he has a .297 average and .455 slugging %. But against The Pirates?; a .249 average, and .307 OBP.
It seems like a perfect fit for The Pirates. They get a decent bridge the gap kind of player until Polanco is ready to go, a guy that can hit for a decent average, get on base, hit in clutch situations, and someone that can hit teams that are in their own division hard is more than enough reason for The Pirates to go after him. That, along with the fact that they could probably get him for around $5-$6 million, investing in Gerardo Parra should be one of The Pirates goals over the off season.
By: Noah Wright
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It seems like The Pirates dealt Mark Melancon this season, even though it was 2 seasons ago. When they decided to deal Melancon off to The Nationals, I thought it was a bad move. After all, they did trade one of the top closers in the game for some mid-level prospect, and a left hander another left hander that had an ERA over 4.50. But looking back on it, I was extremely wrong that this was a bad trade, and I think that this is one of the best trades The Pirates have made in the last 3-5 years. With that, let's re-examine the trade that sent Mark Melancon to The Nationals, and Felipe Rivero to The Pirates.
It was July 30th, a day before the trade deadline, and The Pirates could’ve been at best a 2nd Wild Card team. They were 9.5 out of the division, but still 3 out of a WC spot. That was enough for the team to deal right handed closer Mark Melancon to The Washington Nationals. At the time, Melancon was a top closer in The Majors, but on the last year of his contract. He well deserved the title of top 3 closer, for he had a 1.51 ERA, 2.67 FIP, and .960 WHIP. It was his 3rd out his his last 4 seasons with an ERA under 2. Along with that, he was limiting walks to a 1.9 BB/9 rate, striking out batters at a healthy 8.2 K/9 rate, and batters were making hard contact 25.5% of the time, .5 more than his career low. So with an expiring contract, and not in direct contention, The Pirates decided to trade Melancon for two left handed pitchers. One being Felipe Rivero, and the other being Taylor Hearn. But why did The Nationals do this trade? Well The Nationals were had a 5 game division lead on The Marlins, and had a struggling bullpen. Then closer Jonathan Papelbon had been struggling, along with Felipe Rivero and Oliver Perez. They needed a shutdown closer they could rely on with playoff experience.
For their top rated closer, The Pirates received Felipe Rivero (now Felipe Vazquez), a struggling young lefty who had a plus fastball, and single-A prospect Taylor Hearn. Let’s take a look at Rivero first. The 24 year old was in his sophomore year of the majors. He had previously performed as a solid left hander out of the pen for The Nats in 2015, having an ERA of 2.79, FIP of 2.64, and WHIP of .952. Plus he had kept walks at a rate of 2.0 per 9, and home runs to just .4 per 9. 2016, well, wasn’t going so smoothly for him. In 49 and two thirds innings for The Nats, Rivero had a 4.53 ERA, 1.168 WHIP, but still kept his FIP to 3.27. Hearn, a then 21 year old, was drafted by The Nationals a year prior. He had spent all of his time in single-A, and had produced a 3.18 ERA, while showing a good fastball, and solid control.
So how does this trade look now in 2018? Well for starters, it’s clear that The Pirates were the victors of this trade. Melancon did produce well for his time with The Nationals, giving them a 1.82 ERA, 2.07 FIP, and kept walks to a .9 rate. But he didn’t help them go deep into the playoffs. He only gave The Nationals 34 innings of baseball, while Felipe Vazquez has developed into an all-star closer. It only makes the trade worse on The Nationals end knowing that The Pirates got Keone Kela for Hearn. Kela had done very well in his first 15 and a third innings in Pittsburgh, and he’s on a team friendly deal through the 2020 season. On the other hand, The Pirates extended Vazquez through 2023 season on, like Kela, a team friendly contract.
By: Noah Wright
D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports
Luke Voit should be every Yankees fan’s favorite player right now. He single handedly solved the first base problem The Yankees were suffering from all this year, even though he was never predicted to do so. After a deadline trade with The St. Louis Cardinals that sent Voit from St. Louis to The Yankees, and Chasen Shreve to The Cards, Voit has been crushing the ball. In his first 148 plate appearances in pinstripes, Voit batted .333/.405/.689 with 14 home runs (14 home runs! That’s a home run every 10.6 plate appearances), 33 RBI’s, and a 187 wRC+. His ISO was also an outstanding .305. But once the season officially ends for The Yankees, should they go out and pursue a replacement?
Well to start, I don’t know if I’d rely on Luke Voit to replicate the season he’s having now. Now obviously, a .605 slugging percentage and .305 ISO is unsustainable. But my question is will he sustain a decent amount of success to be productive? Let’s say can he keep a batting line around .270/.350/.450 with 20-25 home runs, and a wRC+ of about 115 throughout an entire season. If you ask me, maybe but unlikely. Voit was never a big power hitter in the minors. His highest home run total was 19 in 2016 in a full season in double-A. However, he did show greater promise with 13 home runs, and a .565 (and similar overall numbers to this season) in 2017 with The Cards’ Triple-A team. That was met with a call-up to the majors, and he didn’t do so great. In his first 124 plate appearances of his career, Voit batted .246/.306/.430 with 4 home runs, and 18 RBI’s.
But on the other hand, I’d rather not see the yankees put $15+ million into a first base replacement. While I still think Luke Voit can’t be a monster in the line-up, I do think he can be good enough to land a platoon role. If The Yanks do decide on doing that, there’s a few good options they could go after. On the free agent market there’s Matt Adams, who they could acquire for less than $8 million, and on the trading market, The Phillies will likely shop Justin Bour, since he probably won’t fit into their corner options. They even have an internal option in Greg Bird, as long as he can stay healthy enough to play.
I think the best option for The Yankees is to find a platoon or an insurance option at first base. Luke Voit is having an amazing season, but I just don’t think most of it is sustainable. However if The Yankees decide to go with just Voit, and only Voit, with so many monsters in that line-up, they could risk it, and hope that Voit can be a productive major leaguer.
By: Noah Wright
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We all know who’s going to win The Rookie Of The Year award in each league this year. It’s going to be one of Shohei Ohtani, Miguel Andujar, and Gleyber Torres in The AL, with Ronald Acuna, Juan Soto, and Walker Buehler for The NL. But one guy that won’t appear within the top 3 of voting is Franmil Reyes. Reyes is probably having one of the most underrated rookie seasons in the last few years, but where did this outfielder come from, and how does he compare to to other ROY candidates?
Franmil Reyes was born on July 7th, 1995. The San Diego Padres went on to acquire Reyes through an international signing in 2011, and he never looked like a consensus top 100 prospect. Reyes started his professional career in 2012, and between then and 2016, Reyes’ highest OPS was .775. He showed some speed, some contact, but nothing super impressive. That was until 2016, when he hit 16 home runs, and for a .452 slugging %, and 112 wRC+ in High-A ball. Plus, he carried a decent overall batting average and OBP, with a .278/.340 line in 547 plate appearances. This would mark his highest OPS season yet, with a .792 OPS. Reyes would further built off of power in 2017, blasting 25 home runs, and carrying a now career high .464 slugging % in double-A.
After 2018, The Padres elected not to protect Franmil from The Rule 5 Draft. Luckily for them, he was not picked. But Reyes was still not viewed as a future piece for The Padres. But The Padres were willing to give him a chance in the major leagues after DFA’ing veteran infielder Chase Headley, and optioning Carlos Asujare. After all, Franmil was one of the team’s hottest hitting minor leaguers. Over 150 plate appearances, Reyes was batting .346/.440/.758 (748 slugging %\!). He had also blasted 14 home runs in that limited amount of time. With his well deserved promotion, Franmil struggled in his initial time in the minors. In his first 96 MLB plate appearances, Reyes only hit for a .228/.260/.457 batting line. With that, he was back to Triple-A once corner fielder Wil Myers was activated from The DL, where he continued to crush the ball. However like he usually is, Myers landed back on The DL, and Franmil got another chance at The MLB. Through his 15 plate appearances in July, Reyes only collected 2 hits, struck out 3 times, and walked 3 times. Like before, once Myers came back, Reyes was sent down. When August hit, Franmil was called back to the major leagues, and he capitalized on the opportunity this time. From August 4th to September 30th, Franmil Reyes was one of the hottest hitters in baseball. In 174 plate appearances, Reyes batted .318/.385/.548 with 10 home runs, and 23 RBI’s. All told this season, Reyes finished 2018 with a .280/.340/.498 batting line, along with 16 home runs, 31 RBI’s, a 129 wRC+, and .218 ISO all in just 285 plate appearances. His fielding, while not a huge asset, is around average. All of his innings have came in right field, and he’s been worth -.4 dWAR, -1 DRS, and -4.4 UZR.
So how does he stand up to other top rookies this season? Well for starters, his .838 OPS is 4th among rookies. Higher than Gleyber Torres and Harrison Bader, and only two AL rookies ranks higher than him in that stat; Miguel Andujar and Shohei Ohtani. His slugging percentage of .498 also ranks 4th among rookies. He’s only. 019 points behind Juan Soto in that department. Reyes’ 126 wRC+ is just 002 wRC+ behind AL Rookie Of The Year candidate Andujar.
No doubt, The Padres will likely use Reyes as a building block. The guy is only 23, and has shown plenty of reason for The Padres to give him a bigger role in 2019. Will he win Rookie Of The Year?; Probably not. Will he at least get consideration?; Absolutely. However even though he ranks higher than a lot of top rookies in the game right now, he doesn’t get nearly enough attention. This, in my opinion, has made him the most underrated rookie in 2018.
By: Ted Rivera
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When most people think of Baseball in the mile high city , they think about the ball jumping into the stands due to high elevation and the air being much thinner. Coors field , home of the Colorado Rockies who play a wild card game against the Chicago Cubs tonight at 8PM. The purple pinstripes , the atmosphere of the Rockies fan base , Nolan Arenado , Charlie Blackmon. These are all things that Rockie fans will always love , but everyone seems to forget the one and very important Story.
Trevor Story that is , Colorado’s heavily forgotten about shortstop. 2018 All Star , Story is just 25 and is already doing some amazing things along side Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon. Out of Irving , Texas , Trevor Story was the 45th overall pick in the 1st round of the 2011 draft , he is a perfectly sized shortstop at 6’1 210 lbs and definitely shows why he's worthy of holding that spot while on the field. In his rookie year , 2016 , Trevor wasted no time showing everyone he is about his business with a .272 BA , .341 OBP , .567 SLG along with 27 HR and 72 RBI in just 97 games. The extreme power Story displayed put him on everyone's radar and seemed to have grown quite the fan base.
2017 wasn't as gracious on Trevor Story and after not living up to his 2016 stats people believed he was a one hit wonder and he went under the radar. But then something changed. Whatever preparation he put into his craft worked out in 2018 , and his fortunes changed. The once suddenly forgotten about power stroking shortstop emerged again as one of the league's most underrated and best shortstops. Helping the Rockies put themselves back in the playoff picture , while also having a chance to win the division and losing yesterday.
2018 Trevor Story was extremely promising , he posted a career high .291 BA , .348 OBP , 37 HR , 108 RBI and tied his career high with a .567 SLG%. To go along with his hitting stats he has a .979 fielding percentage in 1,372.2 innings of work at shortstop with 13 errors , 197 putouts , 416 assists and 92 Double plays.Trevor Story is definitely a forgotten about player but is showing why everyone should remember his name at the age of 25. This is a player who shows extreme potential and hopefully continues to dazzle with amazing hitting stats and power for a shortstop.
10/2/2018 0 Comments
By: Noah Wright
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
The Nationals will potentially lose a superstar this upcoming off season with Bryce Harper hitting the open market. However, it’s clear that Harper hasn’t taken the possibility of returning to The Nation’s Capital off the table just yet. A signing of Bryce Harper could make The Nationals’ crowded outfield even more crowded. So what exactly could they do to fix that?
Let’s assume that The Nationals do resign Harper. In the unlikely chance that they do, The Nationals will have Harper, Adam Eaton, Victor Robles, Juan Soto, and Michael Taylor as outfield choices. The Nats would likely use Juan Soto and Harper in the corners, with Adam Eaton in center field, but even though Eaton excels usually in right field, he’d be move to centerfield, a position he hasn’t played adequately since 2014. Then The Nationals would have to make either Michael Taylor or Victor Robles the 4th outfielder. But between those two, the first one I’d try to shop is Michael Taylor. Taylor entered the season as one of The Nationals starting 3. Taylor did deserve a starting role after a decent 2017 campaign, when he showed a combination of speed with 17 steals, and power with 19 home runs. This season, that speed is still there, but that’s one of just 2 things that translated to 2018. His line went from .271/.320/.486 in 432 plate appearances with 104 wRC+ in 2017, to .227/.287/.358 with 71 wRC+ in 353 plate appearances. His defense has been pretty worthwhile like it was last year. In 2018, Taylor has played only centerfield, and has 10 DRS, 1.2 defensive WAR, and 3.4 UZR. Next year, Michael Taylor will be entering his age 28 season, so maybe packaged with a prospect, he can bring back a decent starter. The other thing they could do is shop Victor Robles, and keep Taylor around as the 4th outfielder, however I do think that trading him right now is on the unlikely side.
Now let’s look at what they should do if they don’t resign Harper. The likelist outfield combination would be Victor Robles in center, Adam Eaton in right, and Juan Soto in left field. After all, I think it’s time for the team to give Victor Robles some regular playing time. In Robles small sample showing in the bigs this year, he impressed. While it’s only 66 plate appearances, Robles still batted .288/.348/.525 with 3 home runs, and 3 stolen bases. Plus, he’s been known in the minors for his fielding. MLB.com’s top prospect list gives him a 70 fielding rating, and 70 arm rating, way above average. This would give The Nationals 2 options with Michael Taylor, make him the 4th outfielder, or trade him+a prospect or two for a starter, and sign another guy that could fill that 4th outfield role.
Maybe the best solution for The Nationals to do is let Harper walk. This would prevent a 21 year old who showed promise in the majors this season from being pushed to a 4th outfielder position, being sent to the minors to make room for other players, or even being traded. Plus giving Harper a 10 year contract worth upwards of $300 million could be detrimental to their future payroll. The $25-$30 million a year could be spent on fixing holes on the team, like some bullpen help, a second baseman, catcher, or a starting pitcher or two.
By: Marc Lam
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images
At the beginning of the season, the Mets were projected, if healthy, to be potential wild card contenders. Obviously The Mets were far from healthy this season, but there is still on bright spot in the Mets’ metaphorically bleak season. Jacob deGrom. In the middle of all of this madness deGrom is had one of the greatest seasons of all time. deGrom has a 1.70 ERA, 1.99 FIP, 0.912 WHIP in 188 innings. And yet the thing that sticks out the most is his dismal 10-9 win-loss record.
Baseball as a sport has evolved greatly over time, but one of the most interesting of said changes is the slow transition to bullpen dominance. In the early days of baseball the starter would pitch the complete game. Relievers were barely used, and if you were good, you better believe you were going for the long haul. Nowadays starters are pitching less than ever before. Relievers will often take over in just the fourth or fifth inning. Pitchers rarely make it to even seven, let alone a complete game. This year the Mets’ bullpen has a 5.00 ERA, meaning that when deGrom comes out, usually in the sixth or the seventh inning, the bullpen will blow the game, giving him a no decision or a loss. This, combined with the dismal Mets offense, makes for a starters’ hell in Citi field.
The evolution of pitching in the MLB explained previously shows why a win depends much more on the bullpen and the offense than the starter. Those that criticize deGrom for having a bad win-loss record do not understand how much more dependent the game now is on the bullpen and a strong offense. While guys like Aaron Nola and Max Scherzer are both having great seasons with records on pace for 20+ wins, deGrom’s pure dominance should signal a new era of Cy Young voting.
By: Noah Wright
Joseph Garnett Jr./Getty Images
The Tampa Bay Rays were a surprise this season to anybody familiar to baseball. Nobody expected them to finish with 90 wins this season. That’s 5 less wins than The Chicago Cubs, and the same amount The Atlanta Braves won The NL East Division with. The Rays have a young line-up core, so they should be a team that will compete with other big names as soon as next season if they acquire some of the following.
The biggest and most glaring hole for The Rays is starting pitching. Behind Blake Snell, they don’t really have a starter that they can rely on to give them 6 solid innings of baseball. While The Rays could just keep using an opener, I feel that if they can just get a few decent rotation guys, they could be a team to keep a close eye on next season. The first rotation option they could pursue is Anibal Sanchez. Sanchez, like The Rays, was signed by The Atlanta Braves on a minor league deal as a potential innings eater. However he’s become a reliable starting pitcher once again. This season, he’s given The Braves 136 and two thirds innings of 2.83 ERA, 3.62 FIP, and 1.083 baseball. Plus he’s lowered his homerun rate from 1.9 combined between 2016 and 2017 to 1.0 HR/9. Derek Holland is another name that I think The Rays should go after. 2017 was disastrous for Holland, but turned everything around in 2018. His ERA dropped almost 3 whole points from 6.20 to 3.57, and walks dropped from 5.0 per 9 innings, to 3.5 per 9 innings. But the most notable thing about Holland is his career high 8.9 K/9 rate. Trevor Cahill is another starter in The Rays price. Cahill started the year as depth for The A’s, but with injuries, he’s taken over a larger role in their rotation. In 110 innings, Cahill has given The A’s a 3.76 ERA, 3.54 FIP (a career low), and 1.191 WHIP. He’s also kept walks to a minimum at just 3.4 BB/9, a near career low. There’s a few other guys The Rays could get on cheap deals, and that are pretty similar. Hyun-Jin Ryu, Garrett Richards, and Clay Buchholz. All 3 starters’ durability is spotty at best, with all of them missing a large amount of time the past few seasons, which slightly bogs down their worth. But when healthy, they can pitch like mid-to-higher rotation level guys.
The next spot The Rays need to fix is catcher. The Rays started out with Wilson Ramos behind the plate, but he was dealt to The Phillies at the deadline this summer. However, The Rays don’t have an exact replacement for Ramos. They could just go out and get Ramos again since he is a free agent after the season, but there are some other options. The cheapest would probably be Martin Maldonado. Maldonado may not add any sort of bat to the team’s line-up, since he’s only had an OPS of .700 or more only once in his entire career, but he represents one of the best defensive, and framing catchers in the league. Martin has 3 DRS this season, worth .8 defensive WAR, but most impressively has caught almost 50% of runners trying to get themself into scoring position, catching 49%. In catch framing statistics, he’s been worth 6.7 framing runs. That ranks #17th in all of MLB this season. On the other hand, The Rays could decide to spend big, and go get Yasmani Grandal. Grandal, 29, has had another excellent season with The Dodgers. For the 3rd straight season, he’s hit 20+ home runs, with 24, and has an overall slashline of .243/.352/.470 in 514 plate appearances. Defensively, he’s been pretty solid behind the plate. He’s been worth .6 dWAR, and 9 DRS, plus has caught 27% of runners trying to steal off of him. But he’s bringing all the value in pitch framing. He’s one of the best in the game, ranking 2nd in framing runs with 14.1. But he’ll be heavily pursued by teams that can much outbid The Rays. On the trading market, the one guy that won’t deplete the farm is Royals’ Salvador Perez. Perez will cost The Rays at least one highly rated prospect, but it may be worth it. Perez does provide good power value for a catcher (27 home runs, 80 RBI’s, 89 wRC+), and is obviously known for his cannon arm, which has resulted in him catching 48% of runners trying to steal. However one thing The Rays would give up is some on base value. Perez is currently in his worst OBP year, at .274.
The last hole The Rays need to patch is bullpen. No, I do not expect them to go out and acquire some guy like Craig Kimbrel, but getting a closer who they can rely on for 2 or even 3 years should be doable for Tampa Bay. The first option that I want to cover that should be in The Rays price range is Justin Wilson. Wilson has had some closing experience as early as 2017, but hasn’t seen the full time role since. But even with that year layoff from the role, I feel Wilson could still handle it. However, the team could go a similar route The Colorado Rockies did a few years ago when they signed Greg Holland. With Trevor Rosenthal hitting the open market after this season, he could be the pitcher he was before undergoing the surgery. I feel they could acquire him for a similar amount that The Rockies got Holland for. Speaking of Holland, he’s also going to be on the market. The one year deal The Cardinals gave Holland at the end of spring training this year didn’t work out as they thought. For $16 million, Holland produced an ERA just north of 8 (7.92), a 4.56 FIP, and 2.240 WHIP. But since getting released from The Cards, and being on The Nationals on a minor league deal since early August, he’s looked like the pitcher The Cards were expecting. In 21 and a third innings, Holland has been a steal, with a .84 ERA, 2.98 FIP, and .891 WHIP.
The Rays were extremely unlucky this year. Even though they had a similar record to The AL East leading Cleveland Indians, The Rays were forced to 3rd place behind 2, 100 win teams in The Red Sox and Yankees, and forced to sit out of a Wild Card spot. However they’re not far out of the playoffs. They have a few holes to fill, and even though they are far from a team that has the pockets to spend big, there are still some bargain free agents out there that could really improve the team, and who knows. Maybe they’ll go out and get a game changing player.