Monday, September 26, 2022

Stop Luke and Listen

 


I hate that people needed to be reminded that Luke Voit led the league in home runs in 2020. Like, yes, it's a lot more impressive that Aaron Judge is leading the league in homers into the sixties, but for Luke Voit, who was a good 1st baseman with power but never incredible, to spring into action and hit 22 home runs in 56 games of a shortened season, that's still pretty incredible.

For the record, 22 home runs is also around the number that Voit is shooting for this year, split between San Diego and Washington, over 125 games, the most he's ever played in a season.

I'm guessing it really was that one shining moment for Voit, sad to say. Dude is still an excellent power hitter, but there's a reason the starting first baseman for the Yankees is Anthony Rizzo right now. And there's a reason Voit, who could have been contending in San Diego this year, is starting for the Nats.

Controversially, of the two first baseman swapped for each other at the trade deadline, Voit is actually having the better season. Voit has a 0.5 WAR in his time in Washington, has hit 8 homers and is a useful, if one-dimensional, piece for the rebuilding Nats squad. Bell, who was outrageous in Washington pre-deadline, has a -0.4 WAR in San Diego, with only 3 homers and 12 RBIs in 45 games. Both of these players are known for being inconsistent and streaky, but Bell's heights have been higher. Bell also requires more of a learning curve in new places, and Voit has gotten off to decent starts in both markets he's landed in, though not breathtaking. 

If Nelson Cruz does retire after this season, which seems likely, I am guessing Voit will be the starting DH for the Nats going forward. I'm not sure if the Nats are gonna use some control method to cut Voit and make room for younger pieces, and if that's the case it sure is likely, but I actually think this team thinks they can use Voit for a bit going forward. There really aren't a lot of power hitters left on this team, and nobody has a full-season total that can match Juan Soto's half-year mark of 21. At least having Voit, who's a power hitter whose better numbers have passed, gives them SOME power hitting, rather than the depleted lot they have right now. And considering that the legend of Joey Meneses is powering the team right now, who even knows if Meneses will have anything else after the 2022 season. Though keeping around people like Lane Thomas and Alex Call is a nice start for a team trying to reestablish its power core.

The Nationals have been handed so many pieces that can help them in between their next real quest for a title, and Voit is one of them. I know the next few years won't be pretty, but I hope they're not as unpleasant as this year. 

Coming Tomorrow- One of the most sought after free agents of the offseason, and how he completely fumbled the ball.

Red Sox Update: So Much for my AL East Winner Pick Edition

 


This iteration of the Red Sox has been competitive since 2016. And it's really as simple as...if the pitching is there, they make the playoffs. If not, they don't. 

This year the pitching wasn't there.

I'll say that this team wasn't nearly as scattered as it was in 2020, where they were struggling for starting options and even good pitchers like Martin Perez and Nate Eovaldi couldn't help. Yes, there were competent starters in Boston this year, and Michael Wacha, Nick Pivetta and Rich Hill had decent seasons. But without Eduardo Rodriguez, a healthy Chris Sale and an elite, healthy Eovaldi, this pitching weighed the team down. There was no one answer in the ninth, with John Schreiber, Tanner Houck, Matt Strahm and Garrett Whitlock getting reps there. Longtime relief surefires Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier were bloated and unsatisfactory. The call-ups, like Brayan Bello, Connor Seabold, Kutter Crawford and Josh Winckowski, haven't worked as well as they've wanted. And now even Pivetta's got a 4.48 ERA and a 10-11 record. 

The pitching just isn't there. And it cost them a spot in the race that was already crowded enough with the Yankees, Jays and Rays. 

Plus, with so many pitching pieces, like Nate Eovaldi, Matt Strahm, Rich Hill, Michael Wacha, and James Paxton, WHO DIDN'T EVEN PITCH FOR THE SOX AT ALL THIS YEAR, free agents next year, there's no guarantee the pitching will be in better shape next year. I guess Pivetta, Whitlock and the kids are all back, but there are so many question marks, not even including Chris Sale who has been so inconsistent the past few years [again, the Jack McDowell comparisons may not have been far off]. So unless a lot happens and, like usual, the Sox deal like hell this offseason, we could have another year of this team being held back its pitching. 

And at the same time, you have J.D. Martinez possibly leaving, Enrique Hernandez possibly leaving, Tommy Pham possibly leaving, and the possibility of Xander Bogaerts opting out and going somewhere else. Meaning the team could be down to its barest essentials, including Rafael Devers, Alex Verdugo, Trevor Story, and Christian Arroyo, who could be using his impressive second half work as a ramp up to a starting gig next year. This team could look a ton different in 2023, and it's not even a certainty that they'll be better than Baltimore, let alone the others. 

The Red Sox could still be a factor going forward, but they need to ensure a lot of things, including a sturdier, less unstable pitching staff, to conserve their momentum. 

Coming Tonight: A guy who led the league in home runs in 2020 and is trying to outrun the Chris Carter comparisons in Washington. 

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Exhuming McCarthy

 


There are some non-qualifying teams that actually have a lot to be proud of this year. I've already talked about the Orioles setting themselves up for a decade of competitive rosters, and I've talked about the Royals calling up rookies that could run the team in the future. But...the Arizona Diamondbacks, even while missing the playoffs and finishing under .500, did a lot right this year, and made more steps forward than steps backwards.

For instance, in comparison to last year, I actually know what the crux of this team looks like. We now have people like Alek Thomas, Jake McCarthy, Josh Rojas, Gerardo Perdomo and Corbin Carroll who we know will factor into this team going forward. McCarthy had some weak initial numbers last year, and now he's hitting .288 with 82 hits and 8 homers in 91 games. Corbin Caroll is hitting .270 and has 13 RBIs in his first 20 games. Even Stone Garrett, who looks to be more of a depth piece than anything, is hitting .317 with 10 RBIs and 4 homers in 21 games. Despite Carson Kelly's injury and Perdomo's lack of offensive production, you're seeing a very full and very flexible D-Backs lineup for the first time in a while.

All this as the rotation continues to be solid and tight. Merrill Kelly and Madison Bumgarner are gonna be around for a bit, and though MadBum is still disappointing compared to his Giants numbers, he still made all 30 of his starts and struck out 112. The goal should still be locking up Zac Gallen, but even if he gets dealt, which is always possible, this team has Tommy Henry doing his best, plus Ryne Nelson and Drey Jameson with shockingly low ERAs through their first few starts. And there's also another year of Zach Davies, Tyler Gilbert who's injured, and part-time starters Taylor Widener, Humberto Castellanos and Caleb Smith.

For a middling, low-market team, that is a super amount of depth, and this team should be happy about it.

Unless there's an overhaul coming, you have Ketel Marte, Daulton Varsho, Christian Walker, Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly all sticking around. That's a lot of nice pieces to base a team around. And with the Giants on the downslope this year, there is a chance that the D-Backs could move up in the NL West and potentially challenge the big guns next year. It's not definite, but it could happen if enough people stick around. 

Wouldn't that be something? If 2022 had a competitive D-Backs and Orioles team? I mean, the Mariners are making the postseason this year, so stranger things have happened. 

Coming Tomorrow- Infielder for a team that I really thought was gonna do great things this year.

Jung Folks


 Earlier this month, the Texas Rangers called up one of their biggest prospects, third-baseman Josh Jung. 

...y'know, months after the Rangers called up third base prospect Josh Smith and third base prospect Ezequiel Duran, and that went so well for them.

Anyway Jung's hitting .182 with 3 homers and 6 RBIs in 14 games. Not terrible, but clearly not what the Rangers asked for. After Smith and Duran already faltered around the early .200s. Which just...makes clear the Rangers' prospect issue.

Like, it's not just theirs, it's the big ones they get from other teams that are supposed to be good for them and somehow aren't. The Rangers got Kolby Allard as the biggest piece in the trade that brought Chris Martin to Atlanta, and Allard has responded by handing over some subpar seasons and being held down in the minors this year. The Rangers got Nick Solak in exchange for Pete Fairbanks, and Solak, while good for a little, has been injured for most of the year. The Rangers got Willie Calhoun from the Dodgers in exchange for Yu Darvish, and Calhoun refused to hit for average and is now basically out of a job. Really, one of the few good prospects the Rangers got flipped was Dane Dunning, even if he's had an ERA around 4.50 all year.

As much as fans should be excited about Josh Jung, there's still this recent streak of failure that makes it very difficult. Jung could come back next year and hit 25 homers and make his mark on Arlington, but he could also do what Jarred Kelenic has been doing and take forever to develop in the majors. The Rangers, even with decent guys like Jonah Heim, Nate Lowe, and the imports like Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, need a real homegrown cornerstone to rest on [cause all of those guys came from other markets]. And yes, I am aware that in 3 or so years the Rangers are going to have Jack Leiter [and probably Kumar Rocker] up and hopefully they'll be worth it, but...I'd think that, ideally, they'd have something going by that point.

Even if Jung doesn't do much the rest of this season, I hope he can figure things out for next season, because he's a sharp hitting piece that the Rangers must be glad to have, and I know that this season's lack of competition must have burned them a bit. Maybe he's the key?

Coming Tonight: Yet another awesome rookie for the D-Backs.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Passage to India

 


I think the Reds this year have been 'the team where everybody gets injured at once' for the NL. And the AL version of that is the Rays, but they're still making the playoffs. So if the Reds aren't competing and most of the team is injured, that's, uh...even worse.

You know, I think the most unfortunate injury-prone team to come across, and there's one every year or so, is the kind of injury prone team where somebody gets hurt the second they start playing well. And that's obviously how you'd best describe the Reds rotation. Because at certain points, all of Nick Lodolo, Connor Overton, Graham Ashcraft, Hunter Greene, Justin Dunn and Vladimir Gutierrez have all figured something out or had a nice start, and then immediately landed on the IL. Greene, Lodolo and Overton are all back now, but they were gone for large chunks of the season, and it left the Reds in the hands of people like Mike Minor and Jeff Hoffman.

And then you see all the real pieces of veteran guidance on this Reds team just immediately getting hurt. Jonathan India may be back now but he was away for most of the year, which has given a very disappointing sophomore effort, one where he's only hitting .249. Joey Votto, Nick Senzel, Tyler Stephenson and Mike Moustakas are all out. Really, the most reliable veteran on this team is Kyle Farmer, and THAT's not good. Even if you do have people like Aristedes Aquino, Jake Fraley, Donovan Solano and T.J. Friedl creeping up and inheriting this team, there's SO MANY holes, and so many replacement pieces that even if everybody's healthy for 2023, it's gonna be hard to really decide who's the best choice for many positions considering the incomplete 2022 numbers. 

It is obvious that the Reds are probably gonna tank for a few more years and let the pitching do the talking for a while, but even if they're bringing up decent hitting prospects, it's still gonna be very difficult for them to not lose 100 games next year. They already tried big prospect Spencer Steer and he's only hitting .220. Chuckie Robinson's a potential future catching option and he's not hitting. Alejo Lopez is hitting .295 but isn't a great defender. The only real rookie type that's making much headway in the lineup is Stuart Fairchild, and that's almost inexplicable seeing that he was cup-of-coffee-ing himself through the league earlier this year. 

While I do think that Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, Graham Ashcraft and Connor Overton could keep this team safe through 6 for another few years, the Reds' future is contingent on the development of great hitters. And I'm not seeing many of those yet.

Coming Tomorrow- And speaking of prospects expected to inherit teams, a third-baseman who just came up in Arlington.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Vinnie the Moocher

 


I don't know why, but the Royals have become the team that brings back guys with names we haven't seen in the majors in years. Ya know, they have us a Bubba, and a Richard, and a guy named Foster like it's a 70s variety show, but now the starting DH for the Royals is a guy named Vinnie. 

Unfortunately, it's not a guy named Vinnie from Brooklyn. He's from Richmond. Forget about it.

But yeah, Vinnie Pasquantino took the Royals by storm when he came up around July, and has become a solid 1B/DH choice in the wake of Carlos Santana's departure. In 60 games, Pasquantino has 8 home runs, 20 RBIs and 57 hits. Though he may not be the showiest rookie in KC, he's at least a pretty nice power hitter. And on a team where power hitting is mostly an afterthought, even if Bobby Witt and Salvador Perez have 20 homers, it's nice to say there's a good power hitter on the squad again.

I am definitely liking the trend of rookies making the leap to regulars on this team. Nate Eaton debuted just last month and he already has a 1.1 WAR, with 10 stolen bases, 8 RBIs and 22 hits in 34 games. Eaton is one of those prospects that is supposed to run this team, even if they already said that about Witt, and so far he's been a great addition to the team. The Royals are also seeing a lot from Drew Waters, who has 9 RBIs in 22 games. And, wisely, the team is moving M.J. Melendez to the outfield so that he doesn't have to dilute his power numbers with awful catching. 

It's very similar to 2011 or 2012, where you can see the next generation of this team beginning to take shape. And I find it funny that we're reaching this point when the Royals have just fired the guy responsible for presiding over the team when they made two straight World Series'. They all know there needs to be a new regime, they all believe Witt and Eaton are gonna help them get there, and they really think this Tigers exec they have for the position is gonna help things out, forgetting what the Tigers have been doing since 2015. 

I hope the Royals can start turning things around with all this youth next year. They have the makings of a new dynasty. A lot just needs to go their way.

Coming Tomorrow- Last year's NL Rookie of the Year, this year he's...doing his best. 

Almost Hear You Cy

 


Well, the Miami Marlins went into this season trying to rely on more hitters than just Rojas, Anderson, Cooper and Berti, and we get to the end of this season, and the only people in the lineup that are healthy are Miguel Rojas, Brian Anderson, Garrett Cooper and Jon Berti.

and, uh, and Jacob Stallings but he's doing nothing this year.

I mean, on one hand, the Marlins have to be happy with how the rotation did because they're getting a Cy Young out of Sandy Alcantara and another great season out of Pablo Lopez, plus breakouts from Edward Cabrera, Braxton Garrett and Jesus Luzardo, AND, at least Trevor Rogers is telling us NOW that not every season's gonna be like his 2021. But at the same time, you look at all the people they got to help the lineup this year, and Soler's injured, Garcia's injured, Stallings isn't hitting and Aguilar's gone. And all the kids they've brought up either got injured [Jesus Sanchez, Jazz Chisholm] or struggled at the MLB level [J.J. Bleday, Jerar Encarnacion].

I mean, you can kind of see some pieces of this team that could help in the near future. Nick Fortes could definitely be the starting catcher next year, he's got more of an offensive bite to him than Stallings. Charles Leblanc, who's mostly been covering 2nd since Chisholm's out, is at least hitting .285, and could be a utility piece next year. Jordan Groshans is .333 in 8 games, and he could move Brian Anderson back to the outfield. Bryan de la Cruz at the very least has 10 homers and will probably be starting next year if a contract piece isn't in place. And Lewin Diaz, who's playing 1st full time since Aguilar left, could be a good power piece if he ever figures out how to hit for average.

But it's honestly a lot like 2014, where there's so many youth pieces and options that it's so hard to see where this team's gonna go. There's so many directions, so many answers, and so many young guys that could help out or blossom or whatever. I still think Jazz Chisholm, Jesus Sanchez and JJ Bleday will be the core of this team eventually, it just might take a while, and it may not be as simple as waiting a few years for a competitive squad. 

At the very least, a Miami Marlin will win the Cy Young this year. That's never happened before. Unfortunately, at this rate, it might not happen for a while after this.

Coming Tonight: Some big guy named Vinnie that hits homers.