Bloomberg Sports Anchors Julie Alexandria and Rob Shaw break down some of the major storylines in baseball as the trade deadline approaches.
Trade Analysis: Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers
The Dodgers made a splash by acquiring former Marlins sensation Hanley Ramirez for Nathan Eovaldi and a willingness to take on Ramirez’s salary. First of all, this is the way it should be for Los Angeles. The Dodgers are supposed to be the West Coast Yankees, so it’s good to see them open the check book to bring in some star potential.
The move also makes baseball sense. The team already has two of the best hitters and pitchers in baseball, so it’s not a bad idea to go for the gold now. Eovaldi is too young to be depended on, while, even at his worst, HanRam is scoring runs and offering some pop and speed. On a side note, of all stadiums where Ramirez has played at least 65 games, his .388 average at Dodgers Stadium is easily the highest.
On the Market: Alfonso Soriano
With 19 home runs and 58 RBI, Alfonso Soriano is once again a solid slugger at the big-league level. He is also due to make $18 million in each of the next two seasons. His high performance provides the Cubbies with a window to trade him. Ken Rosenthal reported that at least one team has interest in the veteran outfielder.
Sellers: Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies are in a very interesting situation right now. They have some very bad contracts, though their huge investment in Cole Hamels is not one of them. He is still young at 28 years old and was developed within the Phillies system. The team is out of contention this season and must rebuild in the next few years. The only way players such as Shane Victorino could be dealt is if the Phillies get back prospects who will be ready to start next year.
Sellers: New York Mets
After a great first half, the Mets have won just one game since the All-Star break and could try to make a move. Johan Santana’s injury hurts them, as he is due so much money andcould have been traded. The Mets would have been happy to deal him in return for prospects.
With Santana injured, if there is a Mets player to be traded, it’s infielder Daniel Murphy. Jordany Valdespin has been incredible this season and offers more versatility and better defense than Murphy. However, the Mets will only make a trade if they get something back which they are really able to use, such as a power arm for the bullpen.
Sellers: Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers have been buyers recently, bringing in players such as Zack Greinke and Aramis Ramirez, but it has not worked out. The best case scenario for them is that Greinke decides to stay in Milwaukee, which may not be very realistic. The Brewers were also shopping reliever Francisco Rodriguez and tried to increase his value. K-Rod, however, imploded with blown saves in consecutive appearances against the Phillies, likely costing the Brewers some prospects.
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Bloomberg Sports Anchors Julie Alexandria and Rob Shaw discuss players who may be on the road to the Hall of Fame.
Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre may be a surprise on this list for some people, but the longeivty of his career could land him in the Hall of Fame. The 33-year-old currently has 2,113 hits and 322 home runs. In order to get to 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, he would need to average 127 hits and 25 home runs per season until the age of 40. Beltre has a good chance to reach those benchmarks, as he plays in one of the most homer-friendly stadiums in baseball and could benefit from the designated hitter position in the American League down the road.
Paul Konerko is certainly a surprise when it comes to potential Hall of Fame candidacy. The White Sox first baseman, who is 36 years old, has 409 career home runs, and 500 homers is definitely in reach. He would need to average 22 home runs per year until he is 40 to get to 500. That would put him in a good position to get into the Hall of Fame, as he also won a World Series in 2005.
Andy Pettitte has 243 wins and 2,297 strikeouts in his career. He has the most postseason wins in history with 19, including four World Series wins. If he can get another seven wins and 203 K’s in the next two seasons, he would have 250 wins and 2,500 K’s, good for 47th and 31st all-time. That should give him a good shot at the Hall of Fame.
Roy Halladay has 192 career wins and 1,990 strikeouts. The 35-year-old would need 21 wins per season until he is 40 to reach 300 wins. Though he has dominated during certain parts of his career, he doesn’t have the longevity to get the numbers he needs to make it into the Hall of Fame, especially as he is battling a shoulder injury this season that should keep him out for six to eight weeks.
The odds are against Johan Santana making it into the Hall of Fame, as he is 33 years old and only has 137 wins and 1,956 strikeouts. He would need another five standout years to rack up the numbers to earn a spot in Cooperstown. He has had major surgery and it is uncertain how many more dominant years he has left in the tank.
C.C. Sabathia is as durable as they come and he should definitely make the Hall of Fame. He has 185 wins and is already 58th all-time in strikeouts with 2,119. If he finishes this season with another 90 strikeouts and averages 170 K’s for the next four years, he will have 2,889 K’s by the age of 36, good for 17th all-time. He would be well on his way to 3,000 K’s, a feat which only 16 pitchers have accomplished, all of them in the Hall of Fame aside from ineligible players.
Adam Dunn is 32 years old and has 388 career home runs. He should get into the Hall of Fame if he can reach 500 homers, which is certainly in striking distance. He has 23 home runs in 289 plate appearances this season. If he can hit another 17 home runs this year and enter the 2013 season with 405 in his career, he would need to average just 19 home runs for the next five seasons to reach 500.
Miguel Cabrera‘s home-run total of 277 through age 28 was the 13th-highest of any player at that age. If he hits 19 more home runs this season, he will enter his age-30 season with 310 career homers. From there, it would take him less than six seasons to get to 500 at his career rate of 33 home runs per 162 games. If he keeps playing the way he is now, he’s a certain Hall of Famer.
Ryan Braun joins Willie Mays and Darryl Strawberry as the only players to hit at least 180 home runs and steal at least 100 bases in their first six seasons. If Braun can hit 20 more homers this season, he will be one of two players to hit at least 200 home runs and bat at least .310 in his first six seasons, joining Albert Pujols. Braun is definitely on his way to becoming a Hall of Famer but he may need to prove himself more than others after testing positive for PEDs, even though his suspension was overturned.
Matt Holliday‘s Hall of Fame candidacy is iffy right now. If the 32-year-old can keep his average above .300 and record 1,032 more hits and 136 more home runs, he will be one of only 12 players with a .300 average, at least 350 homers and at least 2,500 hits, joining eight Hall of Famers as well as Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Chipper Jones and Vladimir Guerrero. He is a very solid player, but not necessarily a player worthy of the Hall of Fame.
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BY ROB SHAW
The New York Mets can finally move on from the loss of Jose Reyes, as they opened the season with two straight wins against the Braves. The team has accomplished the hot start because of the rise of young talent including Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda, and Ike Davis as well as some help from old friends most notably David Wright and Johan Santana.
The two wins were not exactly expected. Mets fans had been in mourning for several months as the news of the Madoff scandal attracted the most attention and the poster boy for the Mets reversal of financial fortune was the loss of the greatest shortstop in franchise history, Jose Reyes to the rival Marlins.
Wright understands as much as anyone how difficult it is to replace a talent like Reyes, but he also knows that the team has to move on, “You know one player, granted he’s very good and he’s a great player and great teammate, but you cannot worry about who is not here. I have a tremendous relationship with Jose, I’ve got a ton of respect for him, like I said, I think he’s one of the best position players to put this Mets uniform on, but that’s not how this game works, we’ve still got games to play and games to win and we need other players to step up and fill that void,” said Wright.
Another former teammate of Reyes and Wright, Endy Chavez explains the shock he felt when word came out that Reyes was no longer a Mets shortstop, “That was unbelievable, I understand this is a business, but to Reyes leaving New York, just saying Jose Reyes is like saying New York Mets, so it’s something crazy, but you know things happen in baseball and that’s one of those things.”
Finally, Reyes himself understands that he has to move on. His role goes from helping the Mets to now competing against them with a long-time rival, “You know in the beginning it was a little weird for me because all of my career I played with David the same thing, but now I have to adjust to the new team, so I know I was there with David for a long time and we every year became very good friends, I’m going to miss David and I wish him all the best.”
While the loss of Reyes is certainly hard to swallow for Mets fans, one thing that would make it easier is the return to prominence of Wright. The 29-year-old franchise player has tallied five hits and two RBI through the first two games of the season. It looks like the drawn in fences could be exactly what Wright needs to get his confidence back. The young up-and-coming Mets look at Wright to set the tone.
“Huge, huge key for us, David is. Not only as a player, but clubhouse guy. He’s awesome in the clubhouse and he keeps us motivated, we follow him and where he goes we go,” says Mets slugger Lucas Duda.
First baseman Ike Davis adds on Wright, “Definitely a big part of our lineup and he’s going to be the leader of the team and it’s really exciting seeing him play again.”
Meanwhile, the pitching has been great and the biggest surprise of them all is Johan Santana. After picking up 29 wins the first two seasons with the Mets, Santana has just 11 over the last two seasons, missing all of 2011 due to surgery. However, he was back on the hill on Opening Day and gave the type of performance that will gain confidence in the ball club.
“He’s been the bright spot so far this spring, just his health, the way he’s throwing the ball, so I’m excited about what he’s going to bring to the table this year, and it will be a lot of fun to play defense behind him,” says Wright.
As impressive as the Mets have been, this is still very much a rebuilding year. In fact, if Jason Bay and/or Johan Santana can sustain their production, there is a really good chance that they will get traded. The Mets may be able to hang around .500 for the majority of the season, but the bright days ahead will be when their top pitching prospects develop into stars that can compete with Jordan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg on the Nationals. Maybe then, the big three in Philadelphia will no longer be in their prime. The question is whether David Wright will still be a Mets third baseman.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, Red Sox
After a slow start to the season Jarrod Saltalamacchia is red-hot for the Red Sox. He is batting .400 this month with a home run, two doubles, and a triple. His season average is now a respectable .252 with five home runs. Remember, as bad as he was early in the season, Salty was once a mega prospect who was traded for Mark Teixiera. He may never reach that potential, but if he can hit .280 with 15 home runs in Boston, the run production will pile up. My only warning is that his defense is still not very good, so it will remain a platoon with Jason Varitek.
Charlie Blackmon, OF, Rockies
Lost in the rookie rush a few days ago was the call-up of Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon. A former second round pick out of Georgia Tech, the 24-year old has the highly sought combination of power and speed. He was hitting .337 in Colorado Springs with 10 home runs and 12 steals. With Dexter Fowler injured, Blackmon will enjoy a shot at playing everyday. If he contributes, look for him to become an everyday player, which means tons of fantasy value.
Carlos Carrasco, SP, Indians
Before the season began we asked Jay Levine from LetsgoTribe.com who was the top hurler on the staff and he surprised us with Carlos Carrasco. At first we questioned his call since Carrasco was just 1-2 with a 5.29 ERA through six starts into the season, but since then, Carrasco has gone 5-1 while lowering his ERA to 4.09. He has not allowed a run in either of his two starts while fanning season highs six and then seven batters. What was most impressive about his last win was that it came in Yankee Stadium against the hot-hotting Bombers. At just 24 years old, Carrasco is a great long-term investment.
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Nationals
After more than a month on the DL, Ryan Zimmerman will be activated to play tonight. Zimmerman was batting .357 through eight games when he got hurt. His presence should help the entire lineup that has struggled to replace their third baseman as well as their injured first baseman Adam LaRoche.
Johan Santana, SP, Mets
The idea was for the Mets to simply be competitive for the next few weeks until David Wright, Ike Davis, and Johan Santana returned. Well it looks like Johan is not on the path to recovery as fast as we all thought. He has been dealing with soreness and now at the earliest, the Mets ace will not make it back until August. By then, a lot of his teammates could be traded.
Derek Jeter, SS, Yankees
What does it mean that Derek Jeter is nearing 3,000 hits. Sure, he’s an all-time great, but he is also really old at 36-years old. Well age may have gotten the better of him this week as he strained his calf. This makes the guessing game even harder to play about when he will hit number 3,000. My guess is that because of his age the Yankees will be conservative and place him on the DL, though this could end up being just a day-to-day issue. My guess is that the New York media will keep you updated on his status.
By Eno Sarris //
The biggest positive surprise in a season full of mostly negative revelations for the New York Metropolitans has been R.A. Dickey. Dickey, the subject of a recent – and fun – poster contest, has leveraged his multi-velocity knuckleball
to a 2.92 ERA and 11 wins so far. Dickey’s 5.36 K/9 IP rate raise red
flags about his future. But he’s also walking just over 2 batters per 9
IP this season, with a very high 55% groundball rate. If he’s truly harnessed his knuckleball, Dickey could become a trickier, more successful version of Joel Pineiro or Jake Westbrook. In other words, someone well worth rostering next season, even as he enters his late 30s.
On the other side of the coin would have to be Johan Santana‘s
season. Maybe we should have seen it coming – he’s now had
season-ending surgeries two years running, and his strikeout and walk
rates have been in a nose-dive since he left Minnesota. But the
declining lefty put up a below-average strikeout rate this year, and
has a recovery period that might push late into 2011.
2011 Keeper Alert
makes for a paragraph all by himself. K-Rod reversed the decline in his
strikeout rates and showed the best control of his career. He generally
seemed to be a resurgent, elite closer for much of the year. But then
he punched his girlfriend’s father and now makes for a fascinating and
risky keeper selection going into 2011. It’s usually a bad idea to keep
a closer anyway because of the turnover at the position. See if you can
grab him cheap at the draft table instead.
If Santana, Rodriguez, Dickey and even Dillon Gee have their risks, there are no obvious keepers on this pitching staff. Mike Pelfrey
had a playable season, but he also showed the worst groundball rate of
his career and is a bit of a risk for regression with a poor strikeout
rate. Jon Niese might actually make the best keeper on the staff, but isn’t worth the effort in shallow mixed leagues.
Avoid Mets pitchers when picking keepers for 2011. Instead,
see if you can snag a couple late in your draft next season (Niese?
Dickey?), especially given their favorable home park.
By Tommy Rancel
Wandy Rodriguez joined the ranks of baseball’s elite starting pitchers in 2009. The Houston Astros left-hander went 14-12 with a sparkling 3.02 ERA in 33 starts in 2009. He also struck out 193 batters while topping 200 innings (205.2) for the first time.
Those are impressive numbers for any pitcher, but there is reason to believe Rodriguez can duplicate those numbers in 2010, and maybe improve them.
There is a lot to like about Rodriguez’s game. His career strikeouts per nine innings (K/9) rate is 7.5, but he has posted back-to-back seasons over 8.4. In each of the past two seasons, Rodriguez has lowered his walks per nine (BB/9) and stabilized his home run rate to less than one home run per nine innings (HR/9) – no small feat in the cozy confines of Minute Maid Park.
In addition to his swing-and-miss stuff, Rodriguez gets his fair share of ground balls. He owns a career ground ball rate (GB%) of 43.5%. In 2009, he elevated that number slightly to 44.9%. Rodriguez had a rather normal batting average on balls in play (BABIP) of .306 last year, despite some below-average fielding behind him. Looking at ultimate zone rating (UZR), Miguel Tejada, the Astros’ shortstop last season, had the lowest UZR (-13.9) of any National League shortstop. Second basemen Kaz Matsui was rated a bit higher, but his UZR (-1.7) was still in the red at season’s end.
With Tejada now at third base for the Baltimore Orioles, Houston will turn to rookie Tommy Manzella at shortstop. What? Who? Good questions.
Manzella is a slick-fielding shortstop who has toiled around the upper levels of the Astros minor leagues for the past few seasons. Recently, ESPN.com writer Tim Kurkjian noted that Manzella’s defense has been major league-ready for years, but only now is the 26-year-old getting his shot. Over the past few seasons in Triple-A, he has rated above average defensively by totalzone, a metric similar to UZR.
With Manzella projected to be the team’s every-day shortstop, Rodriguez could see his BABIP creep closer toward .300 and maybe even lower. A lower BABIP could knock Rodriguez’s already stellar 3.02 ERA down below the 3.00 level.
Despite the solid control rates (K/9, BB/9) and the favorable batted ball data (GB% and HR/9) some might say Rodriguez is a one-year wonder; Bloomberg Sports disagrees. Looking at B-Rank, Rodriguez is slotted one spot ahead of fellow lefty, and traditional fantasy baseball stud, Johan Santana.
Though Santana is behind in B-Rank, his average draft position (ADP) of 37.1 is nearly 74 spots ahead of Rodriguez (110.6). Bloomberg Sports projects Rodriguez to go 13-10 with a 3.11 ERA and 183 strikeouts in 197 innings this season. The same system projects Santana at 14-10 with a 3.31 ERA and 172 strikeouts in 193 innings.
While Rodriguez should benefit with improved defense from Manzella, Santana is likely to start the season without two of his best defenders behind him: Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes. Given the projections, the noted defensive changes, and the 2009 injury to Santana, Rodriguez is not only the better value, but could be the better pitcher outright in 2010.
Why waste a third-round pick on Santana when you could get similar, if not better, production from Rodriguez later? I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of paying more for less.
information on Wandy Rodriguez and other top-flight starting pitchers, check out Bloomberg Sports’ fantasy kit.
By Tommy Rancel
Sports Illustrated writer and MLBNetwork contributor Tom Verducci recently released his annual list of red-flagged pitchers for the 2010 season. The list is comprised of pitchers under the age of 25 who saw increases of 30 innings or more from 2008 to 2009. The so-called “Verducci Effect” holds that such pitchers are at greater risk of injury or weaker performance the year after their big innings jump.
Before the 2009 season, Hamels appeared on Verducci’s list. Going by superficial stats, Verducci appeared to have nailed his prediction on the Phillies left-hander. Hamels followed up his very good 2008 season (14-10, 3.09 ERA at age 24), by going just 10-11 with a 4.32 ERA in 2009 at age 25.
Hamels looked like a classic case of the Verducci Effect. But was he really?
One of my favorite statistics to use when evaluating pitchers is Fielding Independent Pitching, or FIP. The method created by Tom Tango measures on-field events pitchers can control, independent of defense: strikeouts, walks, and home runs.
Despite the big ERA from 2008 to 2009, Hamels saw a slight increase in his strikeout rate, from 7.76 to 7.81 per 9 innings, and a decrease in his walk rate, from 2.1 to 2.0 per 9 IP. His HR/9 IP rate ticked up just slightly, from 1.11 to 1.12. Hamels’ fielding independent stats tell the story:
Hamels 2008 FIP: 3.72
Hamels 2009 FIP: 3.72
These statistics suggest that factors outside Hamels’ control led to the downturn in his fantasy stats. One of the biggest factors working against him was a higher batting average on balls in play (BABIP).
In 2008, Hamels yielded a .270 BABIP, a figure that ranked substantially below league average, and suggested good luck, good defense or both helping Hamels. That number jumped to .325 in 2009, a figure well above average that likely suggested bad luck, given that the Phillies didn’t make many changes to their defensive alignment.
Hamels career BABIP now sits at .295. The smart money then, all other factors being equal, is on his 2010 ERA finishing above his 3.09 mark in 2008 and below the 4.32 finish in 2009. Hamels’ career ERA of 3.67 sets a reachable goal.
Take a look at Hamels’ profile using Bloomberg’s Spider Chart (bottom center). You’ll note that he measures well in every category except ERA and Wins, both categories that could be much improved in 2010 with better luck.
As for the attitude and mental side of the game, reports out of Philadelphia say Hamels is in a much better frame of mind headed into this season. As for Hamels’ innings count, the Phillies might ask a little less of their young lefty, with new teammate Roy Halladay on board for an entire season to serve as the kind of workhorse that Cliff Lee was for Philly after last summer’s trade.
When putting together your 2010 rotation, be sure you use Hamels’ poor 2009 campaign to your advantage. Feel free to cite last season’s rise in ERA and his sub .500 win percentage to your fellow league members. Remind them that Johan Santana is coming back and has declared himself the best pitcher in the National League East.
Santana’s average draft position (ADP) is 39.5. This means in most 10- or 12-team leagues he is off the board by the end of round four. Hamels’ ADP, meanwhile, is 86.2, putting him in the eighth or ninth round in a 10-team league. Despite the four-round difference in ADP, the two left-handers are separated by just 11 spots in B-Rank. Only four starting pitchers fall in between the pair.
This is not a knock on Santana, but more an indication of how you can steal Hamels in the mid-rounds as your SP2, or even SP3, while others shy away due to last year’s ERA jump and mediocre won-lost record. Use the Verducci Effect to your advantage, and you could snag a bargain.
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