Monday, December 5, 2016

Winter Meetings Update: California (There is No End to Relievers) Edition


As tons of things are BOUND to happen over the next few days in the Winter Meetings, instead of doing a 'HEY, HOLY SHIT, SOMETHING HAPPENED' post every single time a move is made, which is probably migraine-inducing, I'm gonna recoup at the end of every day of these Winter talks, and recap some of the more important moves made by teams. It's a bit healthier that way.

So, the biggest statement of the day came from San Francisco, who, as is apparently custom this offseason, decided they wanted to give a HUGE contract to a relief pitcher. Fortunately, the relief pitcher in question is a reliable, trusted closer, and not a random middle reliever like Mark Rzepcynski or Brett Cecil. This is Mark Melancon, one of the most consistent, unhittable closers in the league.

This is a big step up for the Giants, who've been struggling with relief pitching for a few years, and haven't been able to get consistent success from their closers, as Brian Wilson, Sergio Romo, and now Santiago Casilla have all failed to recapture even-year success. Now they have Mark Melancon, and he can be a steady closer for the next four years. On the other hand...four year deals for closers are still not the greatest idea for me, even if they are for people like Mark Melancon.

Still, I give it a good grade, and I think the Giants are playing for a stronger 2017.

On the other side of California...


This guy is not going anywhere. The Dodgers made an insanely smart move and locked up Rich Hill for the next three years. Hill is yet another reclamation project that has succeeded in both Oakland AND Los Angeles, and after a season of an insanely low ERA, some amazing starts, and some strikeout material that hasn't been present with hill since 2008, I can see why the Dodgers would want him back. Having him, Kershaw, Kenta Maeda and Julio Urias in the same rotation, as well as Scott Kazmir if they decide to keep him, is pretty dangerous, and can lead to some amazing things if everybody stays healthy and hot, and if the lineup's willing to back them up.

Two pretty strong developments out of the west, and a nice opener for the infamous meetings.

Uncustomed Heroes of 2016: Braves


Sad to say it, but I don't have a ton of stuff for Braves fans. Ender Inciarte had a pretty nice season, and got a gold glove out of it, so maybe he'll be a part of the rebuilding in 2017, as he seems to know what he's doing.

Tyler Flowers, in A.J. Pierzynski's 'absence', was the catcher this season in Atlanta, and did a pretty serviceable job of it. Not sure if he'll be the starter next season, but...there's a chance.

That's all I really have to say. It just wasn't a great season for Braves fans.

Coming Tomorrow- Also not very happy this season, Milwaukee fans- the guys that didn't leave were either too young or struck out too much.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Holliday in New York


This was not the outcome I was expecting for the Yankees' DH, but...it's not an especially bad outcome, if we're being honest.

I had Matt Holliday on my fantasy team for a little while this year, and he didn't give the numbers I was thinking he would. He's aging a bit too normally by baseball standards. His best seasons are likely behind him, and his 2016, while it was pretty alright and he had some good moments here and there, was overall a disappointment, especially considering his start in 2015.

So I'm slightly skeptical about him joining the Yankees. However...SLIGHTLY is a word I used there.

Look, the way I see it we're probably gonna be using Matt Holliday primarily as a DH, which could work if Matt Holliday stays injured and decides to hit like he usually does. Seeing as DHing means he won't be spending as much time in the field, I don't think he'll be as injury-prone as he has been in the last few seasons. So, if all goes according to plan, Matt Holliday will be a pretty solid presence in the lineup in his one year in New York.

I'm just gonna be optimistic. Besides, it's Matt Holliday in a New York Yankees uniform. That's gonna make an awesome baseball card, right?

Uncustomed Heroes of 2016: Blue Jays


So, for the 2nd year in a row, the Blue Jays made it to the ALCS. I mean, this is after the Cardinals stopped being amazing, so I'd prefer to not worry about both of these guys at once, to be honest.

The Jays did some interesting stuff this year, and managed to pull together a playoff team with...a slightly worse squad than they had last year. Melvin Upton was a last minute addition from San Diego, and he did his best in his last month or so with the team. He seems to be back again, now that he's been put away from his brother, and hopefully the good luck will continue, though preferably somewhere else.

Francisco Liriano was snagged at the trade deadline, from Pittsburgh. This is one of his down seasons, so he wasn't perfect, but he did what he could, and was mostly used in relief in the postseason.

Ezequiel Carrera's one of those bench players that made big news in the postseason by doing some crazy things off the clutch. He's essentially this iteration of the team's version of Rajai Davis, but he's still very speedy and very explosive when he needs to be.

R.A. Dickey's one of those players who's impossible to hate, even if he's on a team you don't like. He's just a knuckleballer of the highest caliber, and he's been having a nice little career in Toronto, even though he hasn't been the epicenter of the rotation like people thought he'd be. I've grown a ton of respect for him, and hopefully he'll have another nice season in Atlanta.

Coming Tomorrow- Speaking of Atlanta...a few people who didn't ENTIRELY suck this season.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Carlos Danger


Well, there goes another steady option for the Yankees.

Carlos Beltran made his surprisingly-important decision, and signed a contract with the Houston Astros for 2017. This is a team he hasn't played for since their playoff run in 2004, and they've been through some good (a near W.S. title), and bad (2011) times ever since. Now that the Astros have been rebuilding this offseason, with Josh Reddick and Brian McCann entering the fold as well, adding Beltran as a DH/occasional outfielder makes them even more dangerous.

Adding a bunch of contracts like Reddick, McCann and Beltran would be dangerous if it was a lesser team, but the Astros have a solid foundation, and were a borderline playoff team in 2016. This is not a Padres-esque 'flooding with contracts' type situation. This is bolstering an already-strong lineup with some more strong bats. It's the rich getting richer is all.

Only problem is the Yankees were looking to nab Beltran, so that puts us down a peg. At this point, Edwin Encarnacion's a leading DH candidate, but I'm not sure if we wanna pay that much for him. So, this move helps the Astros, and hurts the Yankees...sort of. I mean, it's debatable.

Still, it's a great move, and Beltran will likely have another nice season in 2017.

Uncustomed Heroes of 2016: Athletics


Five years ago, the Oakland A's were the feel good team that stormed the playoffs on saber metrics alone and captured the heart of the league. Now, it's 2016, and they're back to their old, pathetic selves.

It's even hit Sonny Gray, who had the first comparatively down season of his career. He's still a great pitcher, but he didn't have his best numbers this season, not even in the ERA category. Hopefully he'll recover in 2017.

Sean Manaea was one of the big rookies the A's brought up to help the failing pitching staff, and of the lot, Sean Manaea had the best impact, and the best chance of sticking around in the future (without any offense meant towards Daniel Mengden). His stuff's not perfect, but his 2016 numbers lead me to believe that the future's gonna be bright.

Kendall Graveman, in Gray's absence, was essentially the staff ace this year, and did a pretty nice job of it, if not absolutely perfect. He's better in a third-or-fourth starter role, but given the circumstances he did alright, and his stuff isn't bad.

As I ended yesterday's post with a former Phillie closer, I might as well do that with this one, too. Ryan Madson was the closer for my beloved 2011 Phillies, and this was his first full season after numerous surgeries. He responded by giving the A's 30 saves and reminding people that he can still be a pretty damn reliable reliever.

Coming Tomorrow- Four members of the 'shouldn't have gone as far as they did' Toronto Blue Jays.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Uncustomed Heroes of 2016: Astros


It saddens me that the Astros couldn't make as strong of a run as they did in 2015, but this season definitely wasn't too far of a step behind, thanks to the strong work that A.J. Hinch has been doing up front. The team's still in progress, and is a few steps away from getting back...steps they've been taking already this postseason.

Dallas Keuchel didn't have anywhere near as good of a season as he had in 2015, but he tried his best, and still did well in the strikeout category.

Luis Valbuena spent a lot of the season circling the DL, but he's still a nice little player, and I'm glad he's found somewhere to stick around and become a starting team player. Hopefully he'll be a bit better in 2017, and potentially a more permanent 3rd base option.

Collin McHugh had to take a lot of the reins of the rotation this season, and he did a pretty admirable job, doing some strong work in the wins category, and leading the team in strikeouts.

Yulieski Gurriel was a late addition, as well as a Cuban import, and he did his best in the last month or so of the season. I think he'll be like a Yasmany Tomas-type, just an all-around player that can play anywhere and hit in the clutch.

We end with the closer. After Luke Gregerson blew the job, Ken Giles, former Philadelphia closer, was brought in to save the job, and while he wasn't perfect, he did a good enough job that I get to make a custom of him. Hoping he gets the gig next year, too. I'm still a fan of his from his Philly days.

Coming Tomorrow- The A's had a pretty down year, but not ALL was lost- after all, they have one of the most overlooked youth movements in the bigs.