Saturday, July 31, 2021

Top Trade Deadline Deals 2021: Honorable Mentions


Yes, there were so many great trade deadline deals...that I had to give the honorable mentions their own post. This is where we're up against. Also, because the deal happened in May, I had to disqualify the Willy Adames deal, which would have been #4 on the Top 10. It's already changed the shape of the league, and I already wrote about it. So it goes here.

Here are some other deals that didn't make the Top 10, in order of distance from the top.

-Rowdy Tellez to Milwaukee for Trevor Richards.
Why it works- Milwaukee finally gets a first baseman that can stay hot, and an upgrade from Keston Hiura and an injured Dan Vogelbach
Why it didn't make the Top 10: Doesn't exactly make the Brewers a bigger deal, at least not entirely.

-Daniel Hudson to the Padres, prospect to the Nats
Why it works: Hey, as good as the San Diego bullpen is, it could always be better. Hudson's still a sharp relief piece and could fit in with Melancon and the gang
Why it didn't make the Top 10: It's a bullpen reinforcement by a contender. There are bigger deals here.

-Adam Cimber and Corey Dickerson to the Blue Jays, Joe Panik to the Marlins
Why it works- Adam Cimber and his funky motion are right at home in Toronto, also looking for bullpen reinforcements amidst an injury-plagued relief squad. Dickerson is also a good outfield piece.
Why it didn't make the Top 10- Doesn't exactly fulfill extreme needs for Toronto like another deal this week did. Also, Will Miami know what to do with Joe Panik either?

-Mychal Givens to the Reds, prospect to the Rockies
Why it works- Another repair for the snakebit Reds bullpen, and Givens could be a more accurate Amir Garrett
Why it didn't make the top 10- Because this was the Reds' highest profile move of the deadline and the Cardinals did more and therefore might lap them very soon. 

-Brad Hand to the Blue Jays, Riley Adams to the Cats
Why it works- I actually like this move a lot. Hand could factor in at closer for the Jays, Adams was not gonna fit in Toronto with their 3 catchers, Adams can now back up Tres Barrera and Alex Avila in Washington.
Why it didn't make the top 10- Again, a competitor getting another good reliever is only so compelling compared to game-shaking moves.

-Ryan Tepera to the White Sox for a prospect
Why it Works: Tepera's an excellent relief piece working on a great season, the White Sox pen could always grow.
Why it didn't make the Top 10: They did this deal better a day later. 

-Yimi Garcia to the Astros, prospect to the Marlins
Why it Works: Garcia's having a great season for a last place team, this puts him in the bullpen for a contender. He'll close less, yes, but he'll get lots of reps and make lots of playoff appearances.
Why it didn't make the top 10: The Astros honestly had a very weak deadline, this was their biggest move, and they didn't really have many needs. They honestly had a net loss as well.

-Danny Duffy to the Dodgers, prospect to the Royals
Why it Works: Duffy's still elite in his 30s, he can be a solid low-rotation piece for the Dodgers as they build their way back to the playoffs
Why it Doesn't Make the Top 10: The Dodgers already have a deal high up in the Top 10 and it makes this one look small.

-Cesar Hernandez to the White Sox, prospect to the Indians
Why it Works- Cesar Hernandez is a hard-hitting producer at 2nd, and is an upgrade from Danny Mendick and even Leury Garcia. 
Why it didn't make the Top 10: Another move the White Sox made involving Nick Madrigal puts this move in a different light. Why would the Sox pick Hernandez over Madrigal? How is that an upgrade, other than for this postseason?

-Andrew Chafin to the A's, prospects to the Cubs
Why it works: Well...Andrew Chafin's having a phenomenal year in relief, the A's need more tried-and-true relief guys, and Chafin fits the bill perfectly. Simple as that.
Why it didn't make the Top 10: The A's had a better move in there.

-Kyle Schwarber to the Red Sox, prospect to the Nats
Why it works: Boston gets another power-hitter, one who could potentially play first base and also be an outfield piece. Schwarber's been awesome this year, the Sox get to benefit
Why it didn't make the top 10: Schwarber is currently injured.

-Eduardo Escobar to the Brewers, prospects to the D-Backs
Why it works- Brewers get an upgrade at third base, as well as a grade-a hitter to add to the lineup.
Why it didn't make the Top 10: Escobar going to Milwaukee may have been the biggest disappointment of the deadline week for me. I was expecting him to go to Chicago, or a team that really called for him. The Brewers had Luis Urias at third already. Escobar is just a case of the rich getting richer. While there are cases of that in the Top 10, this one wasn't completely practical. 

-Nelson Cruz to the Rays, prospects to the Twins
Why it works: Rays needed a sure thing at DH, Nelson Cruz is definitely that, and can be a power supplier down the stretch
Why it didn't make the Top 10- Nelson Cruz in his first week in Tampa has been a 41 year old, honestly. And it worries me that maybe the Rays got him at the wrong time.

-Josh Harrison and Yan Gomes to the A's, prospects to the Nats
Why it works- the Oakland A's fulfill two needs, catching and middle infield, for the stretch. Gomes is a great upgrade although his defense is falling off. Harrison is the big piece here for me, and adds speed, durability and contact hitting.
Why it didn't make the Top 10- Like I said, the A's had a move that edged out even this one for me. Also, I do worry about Sean Murphy's self-esteem now. 

-Andrew Heaney to the Yankees, prospects to the Angels
Why it works: The Yankees needed one more sure thing starter, a good innings eater. Andrew Heaney is a great one of those, and was having a great season for Anaheim. He will fit right in with Cole, Taillon, Montgomery and German. 
Why it didn't make the Top 10: This was basically #11. It misses the countdown because the Yankees had moves that eclipsed this one.

Tomorrow you get the Top 10. Probably obvious who makes it, and where, but...I've still got a lot to discuss about them.

Friday, July 30, 2021

10 Trade Deadline Deals That Confused Me


Welcome to Part 1 of 3 of my trade deadline posts this year. Yeah, there's 3 of them. I was gonna do 2, then there was a ton more today, and now I have to do 3. That's how insane this deadline was, folks. We've got three days worth of this crap.

To kick it off, i'm gonna do the opposite of my usual Top 10 list, and do a list of 10 deadline deals that I didn't really get. It could be fit issues, trade issues, extraneous stuff, either way, they're too puzzling for me to really like them.

Let's start with the obvious one, for me.

The Deal: Tyler Anderson to the Mariners, two prospects to the Pirates.
Why It Confuses Me: Midday on Wednesday, Anderson is involved in a deal to my Philadelphia Phillies. He would have been a nice fit, the prospects were ones I was okay with parting with, I was alright with it. Except the Pittsburgh GM had some issues with the prospects, halted the deal, and went ahead with the Seattle one. It was embarrassing for Philly, and is sort of an anomaly in that it almost shouldn't have happened the way it did. If the Phils hadn't bungled the prospects we'd have Anderson, then maybe the Kyle Gibson deal doesn't happen. Just a strange turn of events. I'm fine with the actual Seattle deal though, it's actually good for them.

Speaking of Seattle, though:

The Deal: Kendall Graveman and Rafael Montero to Houston, Joe Smith and Abraham Toro to Seattle. 
Why It Confuses Me: There was an outpouring of support from Mariners pitchers after this deal happened. They weren't just sad, they were absolutely betrayed. For Jerry Dipoto to take one of the best and most well-liked players on the team, a competitive one at that, and trade him to a division rival in exchange for an injured reliever and an infielder no one knows what to do with? That's insulting, almost. Of all the trades this week, even a fairly big Chicago one, this may have been the most devastating to its team. Why completely destroy a team system just for something like this?

The Deal: Richard Rodriguez to the Braves, Bryse Wilson and a prospect to Pittsburgh
Why It Confuses Me: This confuses me less than some of the other Braves moves this deadline, but it's still a bit perplexing. Yes, the Pirates need relief help, but they're also being very careful not to injure anymore starters, and Bryse Wilson was a much-needed starting boost in last year's playoffs. Why give him to the Pirates, even for Rodriguez? And this is the first piece of this, but...why sully some of the future for some win now mentality?


The Deal: Jon Lester to the Cardinals, Lane Thomas to the Nationals
Why It Confuses Me: Same as the Rodriguez deal, the Cardinals have given up on a potentially useful back-team piece, in this case outfielder Lane Thomas. Thomas hasn't yet fit into the St. Louis outfield schematic, but I still thought he could have been some use to them. Jon Lester, meanwhile, didn't seem to me like he was worthy of being sought after, even by a mid-tier competitor like the Cardinals. He's been doing fine this year, but didn't feel like an upgrade per se for some options in STL, especially one we'll get to later on. So it felt a little like an unfair deal- Thomas could flourish in Washington, Lester might not get much done in St. Louis. And we'll get back to STL in a bit, too.

For now, back to Atlanta

The Deal: Adam Duvall to Atlanta, Alex Jackson to Miami
Why It Confuses Me: Again, on one hand, welcome back to Atlanta Adam Duvall, he'll get a lot done there and fill out the outfield. But now you're trading away a potential catcher. The Braves are desperate for catching help right now, and are torn between Stephen Vogt and Kevan Smith. Alex Jackson, failed prospect that he is, was at least a decent option in comparison to the older two, and could have factored in more to the potential push. But now he's in Miami, who have a solid starting option in Jorge Alfaro and have a decent backup in Sandy Leon. So he might not get as much done there, honestly. Yes, great reward in Duvall, but why give up Jackson now? 

The Deal: Jorge Soler to the Braves, prospects to the Royals
Why It Confuses Me: More with the Braves' rush to compete this season without Acuna, Anderson, Soroka or Ozuna. Now the idea is fitting in Jorge Soler as an outfield bat, except...Soler isn't a trusted outfielder. KC played him as a DH for a reason, he wasn't exactly defensively inclined. Matter of fact, a great deal of the outfielders the Braves are wheeling in, including Duvall, Joc Pederson, Soler and one other one we're getting to, aren't exactly known for their defense. I understand the Braves want to fix their hitting, but they're still gonna give up lots of runs per games with this outfield.


The Deal: Eddie Rosario to the Braves, Pablo Sandoval to the Indians
Why It Confuses Me: FOUR OUTFIELDERS IN A WEEK. And they still have Guillermo Heredia, who's a solid option, especially defensively. But now it's a VERY crowded outfielder, even with Orlando Arcia and [the soon to be released] Abraham Almonte on hand. You see, I was thinking they were gonna bring Cristian Pache back up, but I'm honestly surprised they didn't trade him, now. Rosario is having a very mediocre season and can only add so much by being a Brave. Pablo Sandoval is not gonna fit in the Indians lineup, and might not be as good in their bench. I don't know if this helps either team. 

That's enough Braves stuff. Let's move onto another surprising target this deadline:

The Deal: Diego Castillo to Seattle, J.T. Chargois and prospect to Tampa
Why It Confuses Me: The Rays...are...sellers? The Rays have a net loss this deadline? Yes they still got Chargois, Nelson Cruz, and some other minor cases, but...they gave up one of their biggest playoff pieces to a team that is fighting for their wild card spot, and not as successfully at that. Why give Diego Castillo to Seattle? I thought the goal for Tampa was to keep as much of their bullpen intact as possible, but it's been extremely fluid this year. Yes, he'll work in Seattle, quite well in fact considering the loss of Graveman, but...I still think the Rays needed him more than the Mariners did, Chargois or no.

And yet,

The Deal: Rich Hill to the Mets, Tommy Hunter to the Rays
Why It Confuses Me: The Mets...needed pitching help this deadline. So they went...and got...Rich Hill. Who is 41, and was doing perfectly well for the also-competitive Rays. They gave up Tommy Hunter, who had pitched in 4 games this season in between injuries and call-ups. Hunter's currently in the minors. Hill is as shaky as he was in Tampa over 1 start with the Mets. I genuinely don't know who this helps. The Rays had a lot of starting injuries, they trade one of their healthy starters. The Mets needed rotation help, they trade for Rich Hill and not for Jose Berrios, Max Scherzer, Kyle Gibson or Andrew Heaney. I don't get it. I just don't.

and then,

The Deal: John Gant to the Twins, J.A. Happ to the Cardinals
Why It Confuses Me: How is this not a downgrade for the trying-to-be-competitive Cardinals? You have John Gant, who's been phenomenal in a swing role for the Cards this year, starting and relieving and doing well with both. You're worried about your rotation getting too old or beat up. So you trade John Gant, who is doing well for you...for J.A. Happ, who is 38 and has a 6.77 ERA in 19 starts with the Twins. Happ...leads the league in earned runs. And you traded John Gant for him. You traded John Gant to...a team that is either 1st or 5th each year, hung onto Byron Buxton, Kenta Maeda and Max Kepler, and could potentially compete next year. You traded your pitcher, who is thriving with a team where he could thrive even more, and for longer. Why? What do you want? What can J.A. Happ give you in 2 months that John Gant can't give you in 3 years? How is this a good move? How will this help you COMPETE? 

I'm flabbergasted. Most of these flabbergast me. I don't like to be flabbergasted at the deadline.

Tomorrow, the honorable mentions. The deals that I liked, but not enough to make the Top 10.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Sonny with a Chance; Flexen the Gap


Okay, so we've got 2 months left in the season. We've got some pretty definitive playoff structures, a lot of teams that are probably gonna be there, and some kinda definitive wild card spots. And at the same time, we have four spoilers as well, not completely out of the race and capable of breaking into the postseason. The two most intriguing of those? The Reds and Mariners. So let's talk about 'em both.

Both of these teams have similar records, and both are over .500. Both teams are a sizable but not insurmountable amount of games out of first. Both teams are working on dodging falling giants- the Reds hopped over the Cardinals, the Mariners are working on edging out Oakland. Both teams just bulked up their bullpens; the Reds got Luis Cessa and Mychal Givens, the Mariners got Diego Castillo and Joe Smith [and...ya know...lost Kendall Graveman to Houston]. 

And both teams...kind of have a shot despite the ironclad quality of the competition. You can count out, say, the Angels, or even the Cubs, but the Reds and Mariners are at the point in the standings where something could, in theory, happen.

Now, both berths could only happen in a storm of outcomes. For the Mariners to make the playoffs, they'd need to not only outrun the A's, but also the now-monolithic Yankees, who just picked up Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo, and also beat the Rays or Red Sox in a play-in game. The Reds would have to somehow permeate the unstoppable NL West shield and hug a wild card spot when either the Dodgers or Padres isn't looking, as well as staving off the possibility of a Phillies late surge. AND...AND...both these teams have to remain good. So a lot needs to happen for even ONE of these teams to make the playoffs. But it's not impossible.

In recent weeks, the Mariners have emerged from nowhere as a volatile, impressive squad, thanks to Luis Torrens, Dylan Moore's walk-off capabilities, and more great starts from former Met Chris Flexen, who has found a home in Seattle for him and his 9-5 record. The Ms have a solid core of players, including J.P. Crawford, Mitch Haniger and Ty France, who could bring this team far. Also, Abraham Toro's hitting beautifully in early Seattle appearances, and there is a chance that Cal Raleigh, Taylor Trammell or Jarred Kelenic could figure things out in the majors in the next 2 months. 

The Reds, though, caught fire at the beginning of July, ascended to 2nd, and seem to be hot again, despite a lack of Castellanos. Luis Castillo is finally throwing like his old self, Wade Miley's having the best season of his career, Sonny Gray's hot again, Tyler Stevenson's outhitting Tucker Barnhart, and MY GOD LOOK AT JOEY VOTTO GO. The guy just caught fire out of nowhere and is now hitting homers like it's his damned business. I love to see it, I love to watch Votto succeed, and it's definitely happening.

Of the two teams, I'd say the Mariners are a smidge more likely to make a playoff run than the Reds, and the Ms are also making some serious moves right now. But anything can happen. You never know at this rate.

Tomorrow, expect the first half of the Top 10 Trade Deadline deals post. Yes, first half. I'm doing the honorable mentions in 1 post cause there's too damn many of them now. 

Haase of Me


For a team that isn't going to make the playoffs nor even .500, the Detroit Tigers are...intriguing this year. A lot of singular performers that are impressive, like Casey Mize, Robbie Grossman and Jonathan Schoop, stuck on an otherwise-normal team.

Eric Haase's rise to starter ship in Detroit is the biggest example of this. Before this year, who had really given much of a thought to Eric Haase? He was backing up Austin Romine. Then, for 2021, the Tigers decided to go with Wilson Ramos, and then NOT go with Wilson Ramos, bringing the position to a trio of homegrown backups- Grayson Greiner, Jake Rogers and Eric Haase, assuming one of them would muddle through and take the starter ship. It's what the Pirates did when Frankie Cervelli left. 

As it stands, Greiner's the third-string turned backup, Rogers is hurt, and now the position is all Haase's. And Haase has become a pretty nice offensive piece, with 38 RBIs and 17 homers, tied for first on the team with Schoop [who maaaay be on the way out?]. He's not the best catcher in the league, or even the division [Salvy, clearly], but he's a substantial, durable piece for a team in need of as many of those as possible.

Because a lot of the pieces of this team aren't exactly sturdy, they're more 'where can we put them this week?'. Jeimer Candelario and Niko Goodrum have each had like 5 positions in the last 2 years. Harold Castro's still a utility guy. Wily Peralta's only now being pinned down as a starter, and Fulmer and Alexander still kinda skirt the line. There's still too many pieces of this team floating around the majors and minors, blocked from really having a specific role in its growth. Having Mize, Haase, Skubal and Gregory Soto pinned down is a nice start, but after the exodus, if any, of the deadline, there's gonna need to be more than that. This Tigers team has been aimless for about 5 years, and it'd be nice if they got to the bottom of that.

Coming Tonight: A pitcher for a team that sort of has an alright playoff chance...but also entirely doesn't.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Torn and Fried


The Atlanta Braves have a minimal chance of making the playoffs. The wild card race is gonna come down to the Dodgers and Padres, and even if the Braves do inevitably edge out the Phillies, they'd still need to measure against the Reds...and also, like, THE DODGERS AND PADRES. WHO ARE AMAZING.

So, the truth has sort of settled in. Joc Pederson's acquisition wasn't a 'let's have him come in and make us a playoff team' kinda thing. No, Pederson's purely an outfield upgrade in the wake of Ronald Acuna's injury, to make sure they don't have to keep starting people like Abraham Almonte and Guillermo Heredia. Pederson doesn't get them to first, Pederson keeps them out of last. He's also hitting .273 with 9 RBIs in 11 games, so his bat has stayed intact even away from Chicago.

The rest of this team is just...dire. The catching position is a toss-up between Kevan Smith and Stephen Vogt. The aforementioned Heredia-Almonte-Orlando Arcia outfield is a real thing now in Atlanta. Shane Greene's tanking and Jesse Chavez is pretty sturdy. Swanson's still not hitting for average. Riley and Albies aren't enough on their own.

At the very least, the rotation has shaped up even without Ynoa and Anderson. Max Fried has found his better numbers and at the very least has 85 Ks. Morton's working on another great season, god bless him. Touki Toussaint is finally performing well in the majors, with two excellent starts under his belt so far. Drew Smyly's 7-3 and healthy, which almost never happens. And Kyle Muller has taken over for Wright and Wilson as the surprise farmhand talent, with a 2.55 ERA in 6 starts, and some nice momentum behind him. So that's at least a nice unit that can get them by for a bit, and the bullpen ain't bad either.

Still...the team as a whole is a disappointment. Clearly. They're nowhere near playoff-caliber, and they just sort of have to stew in this for a little longer. Hopefully they stay afloat and don't fall under Washington,'s gotta be a tough ride home for the Braves. 

Coming Tomorrow- And the Jacob Stallings award for most out-of-nowhere turn by a starting catcher goes to...

Gleyber of Love


Y'all are just spoiled cause Jeter didn't have many down seasons.

Gleyber Torres has 37 RBIs, as many as Gary Sanchez and D.J. LeMahieu, leads the team in stolen bases with 10, and because he's only hitting .246 with a 0.7 WAR, people have begun calling Torres one of the biggest busts in recent history. You know, people were calling Shohei Ohtani that last year, so maybe we shouldn't really give a shit about how a person looks during one down season. Ohtani had TWO down years and now he's setting the league on fire. It took Vlad Jr. 2 years to find the average he was looking for. Hell, it took Kendall Graveman four years to figure out how to stay healthy and now he's on his way to a bullpen gig in Houston.

This shit takes time, y'all. Which, coincidentally, is what I'm also finding myself saying to my fellow Yankee fans a lot.

The team's in third right now, nowhere near the bulk of the wild card race, but it's also July, right before the trade deadline, and before a lot of other variables might be factored in. The Yanks have two straight series' in Florida, against the Rays and Marlins. The Rays this team can technically be a match for, even despite Nelson Cruz being himself. The Marlins they'll have no trouble with. Meanwhile, the Jays are falling, the Mariners might lap the A's, and the Yanks are only 3 games behind them both. This is very doable.

Also, Judge, Urshela and Loiasiga are all back, and they look to be in good shape. Odor, Taillon and Greg Allen are coming through for us when we never expected them to. Sanchez, LeMahieu, Torres and Stanton can still produce on a regular basis. Cole and Montgomery are still excellent starting options. Odds are that Clay Holmes is gonna be a cool bullpen addition, and odds are also that the eventual centerfield addition is gonna bring this team some huge strides.

It's easy to look at a team in slow-motion at one single point and go 'they're worthless'. But until our number is up, I'm not gonna give up on believing that this team can still accomplish great things. They're just streaky, like usual this era. They could come clawing back like never before given the right circumstances. Just you wait.

Coming Tonight: Pitcher for a still-struggling NL East squad.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Prince Albert's Last Stand


I want as many cards to be made of Albert Pujols as a Dodger as humanly possible.

It's become apparent that this is probably gonna be Pujols' last season. He's 41, his contract's up at the end of the year, he's clearly not the player he was, he's a surefire Hall of Famer, and he's one of the longest-tenured major leaguers in the game right now. He doesn't have much left to prove, and even if he's defying expectations as a bench bat in LA, it's still not gonna rewrite the story of his career. He was flawless in St. Louis, had 2 or 3 good seasons in Anaheim but fell off, and was let loose to make way for a youth movement that hasn't really happened yet. 

And now, Pujols gets to play for the Dodgers. Which is kinda scary. That bat with THAT team. Oooookay.

Ironically, Pujols is the only one of the four MVPs on this team that's working properly right now. Betts and Kershaw are injured, and Bellinger's hitting .161. Pujols, meanwhile, is hitting .256 in a bench/1B role, has 8 homers and 23 RBIs, and currently has his highest WAR in 2 years...that being zero at the moment. Pujols knows he's not the league-conqueror he once was, but he can still hit, and he can still be relied upon by his team.

And right now the Dodgers are using whoever comes by. Billy McKinney and Luke Raley are starting in the outfield tonight with Bellinger, making the outfield's cumulative batting average .163. Both shortstops are injured so Chris Taylor is moving over from 2nd, and Max Muncy's moving over from 1st. Meaning Cody Bellinger is seeing reps at 1st base on nights where Matt Beaty isn't around. It's getting very precarious is what I'm trying to say here.

Also, without Kershaw [and, uh, Bauer], the rotation is now Buehler-Urias-Price-Gonsolin-who-the-hell-knows? Josiah Gray started a game recently, but it didn't go too well. The other 4 are great right now, even Price, but the fact that the Dodgers are scrambling for a fifth starter, even with Bauer technically healthy...that's just the testament to how foolish Bauer was for getting into trouble like that. We could have been fine through this. 

I'm assuming the Dodgers will wind up alright, because they're the Dodgers. Pujols might even get some postseason hero moments for them, you never know. I just hope the big pieces that made 2020 possible for them get healthy and bring them back there.

Coming Tomorrow- The Sure Thing, fighting mediocrity 

The A's Settle Once Again


It's gotta be really annoying to have a good team built up and just drop in the standings to the Astros every damned year. The A's have been excellent in the past few years, can never get the division away from Houston, and when they do, end up losing to them anyway in the playoffs. It's gotta be humiliating. The hell else does it take??

The truth is that this season, the A's only have one league-caliber player, and that's Matt Olson. He's still hitting like hell and having a career year. So many players, like Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Chris Bassitt and Ramon Laureano are having good seasons, but not to their usual caliber. Even if Manaea's having a better season than he's had in a while, he's evened his W/L down to 7-6, and he's used noticeably less than Bassitt, who typically goes for longer starts. There's a lot of .255 and below averages running around this team. Sean Murphy, Matt Chapman and Seth Brown have great power numbers but are all hitting around .210. This is especially disappointing for Chapman, who used to hit for average, and is now being relied mostly for his longball numbers. And yes, Chapman's 43 RBIs aren't bad at all, but his strikeout numbers haven't gone down.

The A's are now 5.5 games behind the Astros, and battling the Padres and Angels in the next week or so. The Mariners are only 1.5 games behind them, and chasing the wild card spot that is now the top priority for Oakland. If this season ended today, it'd be A's-Sox for the WC spot, and that'd be...predictably decent. The Yankees, Mariners and Blue Jays are still technically factors in the wild card race as well, and are all looking at buying this deadline. Which means the next 2 months may be very difficult for the A's if they don't make some moves.

The priority should be one good contact hitter, somebody that could potentially play the middle infield [Escobar? Story? Schoop?]. They should also see about one other x-factor-type bat, some guy that'll go on an absolute tear once he arrives. The bullpen and rotation are set, [especially with Andrew Chafin], so they just need to sure up the lineup and they could bounce back. But will the competitors bounce back as well?

Coming Tonight: Could this season be the last for an all-time great? Even if he is, you know, a bench player for the Dodgers. 

Monday, July 26, 2021

No Cubs Go


The Cubs have fallen below .500, and below the Cardinals. The reclamation project that we all thought was in the works earlier this year has dissipated with Jake Arrieta's ERA. So now...for the first time since roughly 2013, the Chicago Cubs have to sell.

Craig Kimbrel and Kris Bryant have been attracting lots of trade attention, and rightfully so. Kimbrel's still an elite closer that could become a fixture anywhere he goes, at least with some time, and Bryant is still pretty elite as a hitter and now has the power to play just about everywhere. I've also seen Zach Davies and Andrew Chafin talked about in trade discussions [UPDATE: So long, Chafin!], same with Ryan Tepera and Matt Duffy. A good chunk of this team is probably gonna get dealt, and that's a reality they have to come to terms with.

It's honestly a case of being alright with who sticks around. I'm guessing Kyle Hendricks is gonna stay put, but not certain. Hendricks still has a few years left on his contract, and is still definitely a leader in the clubhouse. He's also got 12 wins and a 3.60 ERA, and a massive improvement over his start this year. If people go this year, Hendricks, along with Willson Contreras and Anthony Rizzo, are gonna be the tentpoles that keep this team together as it reforms.

You can see the next generation of this team beginning to take place, with Patrick Wisdom beginning to look more and more like an everyday 3rd baseman for Chicago, and Keegan Thompson looking like a safe bet in the ninth if Kimbrel goes. Also, Nico Hoerner is definitely coming into his own at 2nd, and somehow Rafael Ortega is turning into a nice short-term replacement in the outfield. I do see this team letting Ian Happ loose in a year or so if he keeps hitting like this, but that may be as they figure out what the next stage of this team may be.

As for this current stage, this is gonna be a weird week. A lot of Cubs legends might be playing their last games as Cubs, and we may be saying goodbye to this sort of dynasty that's lasted since 2015. Which is kinda weird.

Coming Tomorrow- A former hero for a 1st place team, now a power bat for a team that once again might be looking to sneak in as a Wild Card.

Guardian Ship


So. Last week, the Cleveland Indians changed their name to the Cleveland Guardians. This is the single weirdest reasoning for why someone might like it, but I like this because it's a name change that still keeps the team alphabetically between the Giants and Mariners in my binders, alphabetically, and therefore I don't need to move the Cleveland sections anywhere else in my binders.

Personally, I'd have preferred 'Spiders'. How awesome would it be for a sports team to be named the Spiders? We have Jaguars, Pelicans, Coyotes, Sharks and Rays. Why not Spiders??? But yeah, Guardians is fine, a little safe for my standards, but...considering what it's replacing, I do understand. Guardians isn't gonna piss anybody off...except for, uh, the people who were really, really attached to Chief Wahoo.

But anyway. Guardians is for 2022. For now, we still have to follow the 2021 Cleveland Indians. As I write this, they're at .500, and in second. Which means the AL Central is back to where it was a few years ago, where one team competes mightily and all the other ones sort of shrug behind it. The Indians are not that team, so they're sort of hanging on at second. Zach Plesac is healthy again, and he's doing alright, with 5 wins in 13 starts. But he's the only real trusted starter from Opening Day to really meet expectations. Triston McKenzie strikes people out, but he has a 5.91 ERA. Sam Hentges and J.C. Mejia are giving up runs left and right, as was Eli Morgan before the demotion. They are using Cal Quantrill more as a starter, meaning we're now at two Cleveland starters whose relatives were relievers in the 90s, and Quantrill's been doing a decent job. But the lack of a strong, healthy rotation has doomed this team more than any other aspect.

Like, I don't think anyone would have predicted that the Cleveland outfield by midyear would be Harold Ramirez, Bradley Zimmer and Oscar Mercado, but none of them are doing too badly. Ramirez is having a great comeback year, hitting .269 with 24 RBIs. Bobby Bradley already has 11 homers and is coming into his own as the everyday first baseman. Roberto Perez is back, and while he's not hitting for average, he's still a better option than Austin Hedges. Cesar Hernandez has sacrificed his contact numbers for excellent power, with 16 homers. And Ramirez and Reyes are still holding the lineup together.

This is far from a great team, and they're barely even competitive, but they're solid enough to finish with some semblance of dignity, and I doubt they'll be complete sellers this week. 

Coming Tonight: A lot of his teammates are likely to be traded this week. Will he survive?

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Jean Pool


May be a bit of a shocker to some of you, but the Philadelphia Phillies are somehow still alive.

After a win against the Braves, led by homers from two non-power players [Jean Segura and Ronald Torreyes], the Phils have a slight lead over Atlanta and are back in 2nd, 4 games behind the Mets. The divide is palpable. The Rays were able to snap back against the Red Sox, the Astros were able to bridge the gap against the A's. Why not the Phils?

Well...this team, obviously, is still not perfect. Yesterday they lost 15-3, thanks to Vince Velasquez being himself. Matt Moore, Spencer Howard and Velasquez have become a very unstable latter half of the rotation, and are doing so in Zach Eflin's absence. If the Phils thought it was hard only having 3 good starters, now they're down to just Nola and Wheeler, and hoping that those other 3 days are good for the offense. And quite obviously the bullpen still needs help. They're not has bad as they have been, but lots of 3 and 4 ERAs, and even trusted arms like Brandon Kintzler and Jose Alvarado letting them down. Thankfully Archie Bradley's heating up, and Ranger Suarez has become an excellent closer, but this bullpen still runs the risk of preventing this team from glory.

What does help is that the flexibility of this lineup is beginning to aid them. Guys like Torreyes, Brad Miller, Travis Jankowski and Luke Williams are really impressing off the bench, and providing great backup material. Toe and Janko were incredibly cheap pickups that have thankfully succeeded for the Phils, and Miller was also relatively cheap but still one of the best bench bats in the leagues. Now that Herrera is back, they are using him primarily in center but also relying on Janko and Williams when they can, as well as potentially fielding offers for a big OF piece. And, of course, Hoskins, Harper, Realmuto, Segura and Cutch are performing as promised. Didi's beginning to heat up, and Bohm is still saddled by a sophomore slump that could lead to a rental taking his job for the latter bit of the season.

The bottom line is that this team is moving, and is definitely capable of performing well into the season if given the right momentum. They have a lot of huge pieces working right now, and they're nowhere near as piss-poor as they were in May. They just need...prolonged luck. Which is not easy to come by in Philadelphia.

Coming Tomorrow- The whole rotation got hurt. This guy was the first to return, and given his stance on COVID regulations last season, I kinda wonder what his thoughts are on the new name. 

Lowe or Never


There are officially two teams at the top of the AL East. The Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees have cut down the Sox's lead, and the Rays have caught up. Meanwhile, all three teams will likely be stocking up in the coming week. what?

Well, the Rays are having one of the most intriguing trade years in some time. Their first move of the season was trading their shortstop, Willy Adames, to Milwaukee in exchange for bullpen help in the form of Drew Rasmussen and J.P. Feyereisen. Why did they need bullpen help? A week earlier, they had cut Hunter Strickland and let the Angels take him. They had solved a problem they had helped to create themselves. 

Then they had the issue of shortstop, which couldn't be fixed by Taylor Walls or even Wander Franco [though Franco is sloooowly getting better]. It is an issue that still persists, and could be helped by trading for one of the many infield pieces on the block. They did have a lot of outfielders and flexibility there, but by making the first big move of the July deadline season to get Nelson Cruz, the Rays made that situation even more crowded. Manuel Margot is hurt, yes, but now Austin Meadows has to play outfield more often, which is not his strength, and Brett Phillips is now more of a bench/alt type. 

Meanwhile, starting pitching became an issue once Tyler Glasnow got hurt. It would have been less of an issue if they hadn't traded Trevor Richards to the Brewers all the way in May. So then they had Ryan Yarbrough, Shane McClanahan, Michael Wacha, Rich Hill and Josh Fleming all capable of starting, which was a solid rotation but a bit thin. So...then they trade Rich Hill to the Mets. Why?? What good comes of that? Now you need pitching help again? Today, Drew Rasmussen started, and by the grace of the Tampa offense he did a nice job, this point, the Rays have less of a solid rotation and more suggestions at this point. The only person starting games that's started every single one has been McClanahan, the rookie. That's odd.

The Rays have proved that they are buyers this season, and that they are competitors. But whenever they fix something, something else falls off, and it's usually their fault. Some things, though, happened on their own- Brandon Lowe's average stopped being a factor, Glasnow got caught with sticky stuff and promptly got injured trying to pitch without it, Meadows is getting colder, and the bullpen still isn't perfect. 

It's very possible that the Rays could get past all of this and still make it to the playoffs, and they've overcome worse issues in the past. But this is a lot of very suspect and very confounding behavior from a team that just won an AL title, and I hope some of it works out for them.

Coming Tonight: Three seasons into his contract, he finally started hitting like he used to for the Phillies.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Yaz You Like It


It's mid-July and the Giants are still in first. I'm kinda cool with this.

First of all, they're so many games over .500 that it's downright impressive, being 61-35. They've also done this while sustaining a minimal lead over the Dodgers [now at 3 games], and have only had two losing streaks longer than 2 games. They also have 11 players with at least 1 WAR, 6 players with at least 2 WAR, and 3 players with at least 3 WAR, two of which being Kevin Gausman and Anthony Desclafani, two rather cheap pickups that most teams passed on.

And also, yes, the Giants still have Buster Posey, Mike Yastrzemski, Steven Duggar and now suddenly Wilmer Flores and Darin Ruf all surging. It's a very good time to be a Giants fan.

There is a worrying detail, though, in the injuries to Evan Longoria, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford, three big pieces of the Giants' infield [all of which are over 30]. Add that to the already-out-for-the-year Tommy La Stella and you have a less-confident infield for the first time in years for this team. The good news is that Ruf has done perfectly well covering at 1st, and his average is approaching last year's levels finally. Flores has mastered the third base gig and is now hitting .251 with 33 RBIs. And of all people, former Yankee Thairo Estrada has been the most helpful taking over for Crawford. Like Mike Tauchman, Estrada was cut from a bulging Yanks team and his bringing his bench talents to SF to great results so far.

Also, it looks like Jake McGee has finally got the hang of the closing gig, with a lower ERA in addition to his 20 saves. Pretty much the whole bullpen right now is sharp, with choice performances by Dominic Leone, Zack Littell and Tyler Rogers. The highest starting ERA is Johnny Cueto's 4ish one, and even he's still doing decently enough. Gausman and Disco have brought some rotation firepower to this team that no one could have predicted, and even Logan Webb and Alex Wood have complemented them well. 

Plus, Taz may not have a very high average, but he's power-hitting really well, and having another strong season in SF. I was worried he'd be a fluke after his 2019 debut, but he's really settled in for the Giants, and has become a mainstay there, even surrounded by contracts and such.

The stretch will yield big players coming to NL West competitors, and the Giants may grab one to stay hot themselves. I'd like to see them upset the Padres and Dodgers for the gold, though any outcome will probably be a thrilling one.

Coming Tonight: Former young standout, now watching his team both buy and sell simultaneously at the deadline.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Free of Blame in Houston


Michael Brantley began his career being traded for C.C. Sabathia. He missed an entire year due to injuries while his team made it to a World Series. He's been trying to prove himself his entire career, and to a degree he has succeeded- Brantley's made five All-Star teams, has a career .299 average [and is a few points from breaking 300], has never scored lower than 2 WAR in a full season since 2011 [aside from his injury-plagued 2016], and currently is one of the single best contact hitters in baseball by a large margin.

Except...the only problem is that since 2019, he's been playing for the Houston Astros. Who are all pretty much smoke and mirrors, and even the consciously good performers like Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa have an asterisk next to them.

Now, I'm of the firm belief that Brantley didn't do a hell of a lot wrong. He certainly played by the rules in Cleveland, and he didn't exactly change a great deal when signing with Houston. Is there a chance that maybe he contributed to the group deception? Maybe. But I don't think his big numbers in 2019 and 2021 have anything to do with being on the Astros. It's a lot like the pitchers in Houston, they had nothing to do with the trashcan scheme, they were always doing their thing, and guys like Justin Verlander, Charlie Morton and Zack Greinke shouldn't have their careers marred. Gerrit Cole, though...may have to recover from another scandal. But that's completely different.

So Brantley's having another huge 2021. Good for him, I suppose. I assume he's playing the right way. But him doing this on the Astros, surrounded by so many players I do not like, is a little harder to stomach. The Astros are currently in first by 2.5 games, and are looking at two straight series' against beatable teams. The only pieces who are injured are Alex Bregman and Jose Urquidy. Everyone else is playing well because too much of the core remains, and they haven't exactly been scattered for their insolence. I can only be okay with so many players from this team, like Brantley, Greinke and Pressly, doing well when so many have played huge parts in the cheating scandal. 

It's likely that the Astros will be a playoff team once again, because that's what happens. It's also likely that the Astros could pick up a fairly useful piece at the deadline. And so hopefully, they'll get something of a fun comeuppance this year without having to humiliate the Yankees again.

Coming Tomorrow- His team just broke 60 wins, and he's still one of the chief pieces of them. 

Willy Adames Saves the Brewers

 Willy Adames began the season with a .197 average, and 15 RBIs in 41 games. It was a disappointing, muddled start for an infielder who had been so essential to the 2020 World Series team. With two infield prospects waiting behind him and the team sagging in the standings, Adames needed something to fix his swing and jolt him back up.

That something was, as it turns out, a trade to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Since Adames' departure, the Rays have struggled at short, with Taylor Walls and Wander Franco not shaping up as major leaguers quite yet. Meanwhile, Adames has been hitting .302 with 38 RBIs in 53 games with the Brewers. So I guess you could say they won, with all apologies to J.P. Feyereisen.

The Brewers have managed to fend off the Reds and remain in 1st place, which is a very nice feat considering how the Cubs and Cardinals have curled after taking 1st themselves. The trick is that three-headed monster in the rotation, Woodruff, Burnes and Peralta all have upwards of a 3.0 WAR, they all have ERAs lower than 2.39, and they all have between 135 and 140 strikeouts. They are all in sync, on fire, and coming for you. The trick is praying for the other two days, which are slightly easier with Adrian Houser and Brett Anderson, but not completely harmless. Houser still has 5 wins and a 3.97 ERA, and that's no slouch. 

Meanwhile, Adames, Kolten Wong and Omar Narvaez are all league-caliber, Yelich is heating up, Luis Urias and Jace Peterson are working at third, and Keston Hiura and Rowdy Tellez, uh...hopefully will hit for average soon enough. The important detail is that the bulk of this team can contact-hit, and the lack of true power-hitters won't be much of an issue [though Avisail Garcia's 17 homers certainly aren't bad]. 

I'd love to see this team make it to the end in 1st, but I can't really count out the Reds, or even the Cubs or Cardinals. This division almost always has a spoiler, and hopefully the Brewers can hang onto the momentum.

Coming Tonight: Perhaps the one player who didn't even need the Astros' help to become a contact-hitting superstar. 

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Pay No Attention to the Turmoil Behind the Sox


Tony LaRussa would like me to tell you that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the White Sox right now.

Really, nothing. Yermin Mercedes was always happy, even in AAA. The people who used to have a place in Comiskey named after them before Tony replaced them are gracious. Tim Anderson hasn't started on the fact that LaRussa has a lot of privilege still having a job after getting caught with a DUI. It's all sunshine and roses.

I mean, look at the standings. The Sox are still in first! Any competitors are 10 games out. The team's still hot after the ASG break! The whole rotation is healthy and surging! How could anything be wrong?'s still the issue that having an old-guard manager like LaRussa with a very new-school, revisionist team full of people like Tim Anderson, Michael Kopech and Yoan Moncada isn't always going to fit. We're still not past the fact that LaRussa essentially ran a guy out of the league because he hit a home run on a 3-0 count off of a position player during a blowout. In the swing-on-everything, strikeout-or-homer game we're playing right now, decorum has little to no place. And it's become clear that LaRussa's cruelty towards Mercedes after this directly led to his numbers dropping, as he's been hitting well in AAA.

And while I'm thankful that Mercedes is gonna be back in no time and isn't retiring...this should have been the straw that broke the camel's back regarding LaRussa. There's probably a lot of people on this team that want to say something, especially people like Tim Anderson who are progressive voices in the game, but probably can't because of fear of what LaRussa and his influence could do to them. LaRussa already is a Hall of Famer, he already has a ring or so, and he has nothing left to prove. There is nothing that this White Sox team can do for him that he hasn't gotten already. The players probably don't want him there, and while Manfred is gonna probably protect him as much as possible, because he subscribes to the same old-baseball BS that LaRussa does, keeping him around isn't going to work for anyone. It didn't work for Bobby Valentine in 2012, and it's not working now.

But because the White Sox are doing well, and they're probably a lock for the playoffs, it's not likely that much will be done. This is the gig, it seems. 

The continued surge in the stands is surprising because the Sox are still struggling with injuries. Grandal is now on the IL, and Zack Collins is being pressed to start, which isn't going too well for him at the plate. The Sox are still playing Brian Goodwin and Billy Hamilton as starters in the absence of Jimenez and Robert, and that only works so much. Leury Garcia is thankfully a great replacement for Madrigal in the infield, but they kinda got lucky there. Adam Engel, Gavin Sheets and Jake Burger are all doing well in bit parts, but I am thinking that one of them could be subject to a trade next week as people are gonna begin to come back soon. I'm already blinking and seeing Burger in Diamondbacks colors. 

I sincerely hope the Sox keep up the good work, and figure out how to work with LaRussa. Because what happened with Yermin Mercedes shouldn't happen. The old ways aren't the only ways. And if they are the only ways for you, you're too old for the game.

Coming Tomorrow- Hopefully a lighter-hearted post. A 'magic hat' player for the Brewers, and the reigning trade deadline champ. 

All Villar, No Pillar


Indulge me. I always wanted to make a pun involving those two on this Mets team.

Well, the Mets, as I write this, are still in first in the NL East despite slipping a bit. Hilariously, the guys who stayed healthy during the first injury stretch are now getting injured, most notably Jacob De Grom and Francisco Lindor, but also David Peterson and Jose Peraza. So yes, it's good to have Conforto, McNeil, Davis, Nimmo and Villar all back, but now they've got to hope the guys who were healthy as they rose to first won't cost them now that they're injured.

The refreshing thing is that the Mets have been winning a few in Cincinnati, shutting the Reds out today and battering even the phones of the opposing fans [thank Villar for that one]. The only Opening Day lineup guy that's injured is Lindor, so Luis Guillorme and Jonathan Villar can flexibly move so that the infield works. Plus, Guillorme is still an excellent backup option and is still hitting .293. Also, J.D. Davis is starting again and still relatively hot, there's outfield flexibility with Pillar, and the bulk of the lineup is hitting again, especially Alonso, Nimmo and McNeil. 

The pitching is a little trickier without DeGrom, Peterson or Joey Lucchesi. Tylor Megill has been a decent third option with a 2.63 ERA, and Robert Stock has been an odd but serviceable fourth, but...who's the fifth man? They've used relievers before, are they gonna keep doing that? Are they just sort of tapping their shoes waiting for Peterson or even Noah Syndergaard to come back? Are they just waiting for the trade for whichever pitching piece to come through? Hopefully they figure something out soon, because as good as Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker have been, that's just two guys.

I do think the Mets are the best contender of those in the NL East, but they've become more human in the last few weeks, and teams like the Phillies and Braves could very well jump on that. I don't even think the Phils are good enough to really sustain a lead over them, but you never really know what the deadline deals could bring, and how things could turn out for the division. Hell, maybe the Nats squeak by or something.

Coming Tonight: The White Sox have a lot of stars right now, but if you were to ask me the biggest x-factor player on that team, I'd give you this guy.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Always Be Closing: Barnes Stormer

 In 2019, when the Red Sox were abruptly left without Craig Kimbrel, they didn't have a well-thought out plan to recover. They just platooned two pretty good bullpen pieces from the 2018 season, Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier, and saw if either would really take to the ninth. Kevin Cash was employing similar strategies in Boston, it was cool to be pen-flexible. So when Brasier and Barnes ended the season pretty equal, it was assumed that neither would be a winning option, and the Sox went with Brandon Workman for a season and a half. Then Workman got traded, and somehow Matt Barnes was left holding the ninth by the end of the year.

We now join Barnes in a full year of closing, as part of a 1st place, surging Red Sox team. He's unsurprisingly doing really well.

First of all, he's got 19 saves so far this season, has 63 Ks, a 2.61 ERA, and has been one of the most impressive bullpen arms for Boston. The Sox just signed him to a two-year extension with an option for a third. Any inkling that there'd be competition for the closing job just went up in smoke, and it's simply because of how consistent and dominant Barnes has been. Yes, there's always the chance that he could fall off, and he is 31 after all, but even last year, his worst contemporary season, still came with 9 saves and a 4.30 ERA. This has been the best season of his career to date, and it's a year that his previous seasons in relief have only built up to. 

Now, are Barnes' seasonal numbers tied to the success of the Red Sox this year? Maybe. His other two best seasons to date, his 2017 and 2018 years, were also tied to playoff runs for the Sox. While he wasn't atrocious during their 2019 3rd-place year, he also didn't completely bring them further in many points. There is a chance that Barnes' luck could run out, and next year he could be back in middle relief. But the fact that he's on such a run so far this year, coming off an ASG nod and some great save numbers, is still pretty great, especially for a team that took a while to settle after Craig Kimbrel's departure. 

The Sox are looking like major contenders this year, and it's thanks in part to Matt Barnes. It's that simple.

Coming Tomorrow- Looks like the Mets are getting beaten up again. Here's their savage lefty hitter, healthy again for your pleasure. 

Eduardo Escobar Abandons Ship


I think the surest bet of the next month is that Eduardo Escobar is going to change hands. This trade has been in the works for a month or so, with the White Sox being noted as a favorite for Escobar as early as mid-June. So really, the fact that it hasn't happened by now is kind of surprising. 

In this time, though, Eduardo Escobar has become the sole good, healthy player in Phoenix. He's the only guy with a WAR higher than 2, he was the team's All Star representative, and his numbers dwarf the rest of the team's easily. Like, I hate for people to stand out from teams in the wrong way, but the rest of the Diamondbacks are succeeding in nailing a biting feel of mediocrity, and Escobar isn't matching that. So him getting traded would probably be a very good thing. 

I still think the White Sox would be a frontrunner for Escobar, but...since Jake Burger and Leury Garcia are filling out the infield, perhaps the necessity isn't there for them. I could see the Blue Jays, Rays, Reds and Giants making a run at Escobar. 

But I can't see the Diamondbacks getting much better after he leaves. This is easily the worst team in the league, and they're on pace for well over 100 losses. They've yet to even crack 30 wins, which is definitely a feat 96 games into the season. And the inability for even great players like Zac Gallen, Luke Weaver, Ketel Marte and Kole Calhoun to get things done while struggling through this roster, and this division, is also pretty stifling. The youth movement, with Josh Rojas and Pavin Smith going into the same routine, is also kind of disappointing.

I can't imagine how bad this team could be even without Eduardo Escobar. But I guess we're gonna find out.

Coming Tonight: In the past years, such luminaries as Jonathan Papelbon, Craig Kimbrel and Koji Uehara have rocked the ninth for the Boston Red Sox. The guy they've got now is pretty damn good too.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Have You Ever Been This Lowe?


It's the most ironic thing. The Rays bring up two guys name Lowe, one pronounced Lau the other pronounced Low, and the one who's pronounced Low gets traded to a team that winds up lower in the standings. Like that's almost out of a nursery rhyme.

And so we have Nate Lowe, the rejected Lowe of Tampa, currently doing his best in Arlington, immediately following a day where the Rangers got walloped 14-0 by the Tigers, the third of three consecutive shutouts. 

Yeah, think about that. A team so bad that even the Tigers embarrass them. 

So, this is Rangers baseball this year. A lot of big losses, and a lot of last place baseball. Joey Gallo, Ian Kennedy and Jordan Lyles all might get traded. Or maybe more, or less. And it's becoming a matter of what this team will become after the trade deadline. 

I think the biggest indicator of what the Rangers might look like for a bit is someone like Nate Lowe. A low-cost import from a larger market, a lot of power abilities and some decent stats [43 RBIs], but some one-dimensional qualities and minor issues that grapple with replacement level. The bulk of this team is looking like that- guys like Dane Dunning, Nate Lowe, Charlie Culberson, Willie Calhoun, Jonah Heim and Kolby Allard. And that's what's gonna make up this team for a bit. I do eventually seeing people like Dunning and Allard taking it over, and Dunning is at least having a decent season, but those middle guys are gonna dominate this team.

And the standouts, at least for the foreseeable future, will be guys like Kyle Gibson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Adolis Garcia. But the main question is whether or not they'll be as good as they are this year. Garcia has calmed down exponentially since his monster May, and has been hitting .222 in May with only 2 homers. Kiner-Falefa has even calmed down a bit since his peak, and now Gallo is running this team in what is supposedly his last month with the team.

The picture will become a bit clearer in a week or so...and then a bit hazier once the wins drop yet again.

Coming Tomorrow- Thank goodness I'm able to get a custom out of this guy before HE'S traded.

Maybe Don't Quit Stallings


It's very hard to decipher which of the Pirates are going to be on the trade block in the next week or so. The Pirates, yes, are a last place team with a lot of fun players that can do well anywhere, but most of the players on this team are still under league control for a few more years. So I can't say with certainty if Adam Frazier, Jacob Stallings, Richard Rodriguez or even Gregory Polanco are gonna get dealt. 

But...if the Pirates knows what's good for them? Maybe start rebuilding sooner or later. 

Look, Jameson Taillon, Josh Bell and Starling Marte are all doing decently with other teams this year because they were allowed to get out of Pittsburgh and still have some prime years. Jacob Stallings is 31. He was called up in his late 20s, didn't become a mainstay starter til he was 29, and is now 31. A great catcher, and a great hitter, but his prime years may begin to run out even if the Pirates do deal him relatively soon. Also 31 is Richard Rodriguez, another big piece of this team that could honestly be a trade piece on account of the depth of the bullpen without him. I don't know how many more prime years either of these guys have left.

Adam Frazier and Gregory Polanco are 29. Polanco already worries me because he hasn't hit for average since 2018. Frazier's excellent, is coming off an ASG nod, and could be useful to a team, but again, he's 29, I'm not sure how old he'll be when he stops having seasons like this. 

If the Pirates do end up keeping all these players because none of them are free agents immediately next [save for Polanco], then they're confusing people that are competing, and holding onto these guys despite still being very much in 5th and out of the conversation. It is very nice that they're beating up the Mets this week, but they're still 10 games behind the sinking Cardinals and Cubs. They're not gonna get anything done this season. Ke'Bryan Hayes and J.T. Brubaker are trying to bring on the next stage of Pirates baseball, and they can't really do it alone.

It'll be interesting to see who sticks around after next week, and what this says about the future of the Pirates.

Coming Tonight: One of the many sturdy cheap imports for the Rangers.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Bringer of Rain Delayed


I think Josh Donaldson is one of many one-time MVP winners who are just idly standing by and doing their damndest in squads that aren't really built around them anymore. It's him, Andrew McCutchen, Joey Votto and Justin Verlander, really. And Donaldson might be the closest to MVP-caliber of those four this year.

Josh Donaldson is pulling 2 wins above replacement so far this year, which, while nowhere near Atlanta numbers, is pretty good. But he's become one of the few guys left in Minnesota who are really bringing it. It's just him, Jose Berrios, Jorge Polanco, Luis Arraez and Nelson Cruz. Byron Buxton is still hurt, Sano and Kepler are struggling, Andrelton Simmons is playing merely okay, and Maeda and Pineda could be doing better. The Twins are not in last at the moment...but at this rate they could be again very soon.

Plus, in the next two weeks, they could lose Cruz, Simmons, Pineda and Hansel Robles to potential competitors. Cruz is the most likely to leave, because this could be his last season and he's still got enough in the tank to help someone like Oakland or the White Sox who could really use a good DH. But still, Simmons, Pineda or Robles could be snatched, and there's also potential for people who are still under team control for a few more years. I'm not quite sure. But it's probably gonna be those guys...and without them, the Twins may sink lower.

The goal, I think, is for the youth to begin to take over more, and if so, that's really asking a lot of Griffin Jax, Bailey Ober and Trevor Larnach. At the very least, though, we are seeing progress from Alex Kirilloff, who has 34 RBIs and 8 homers, and from Nick Gordon, who's hitting .262 with 5 steals. But it's not a universal crunch, and even still, the youth movement is still gonna have to share time with signed veterans like Josh Donaldson for a few more years [unless they trade him this offseason, which is also likely]. 

I'm waiting for the Twins to get lapped by the Royals in the stands. Considering how badly they've been getting beaten by the O's lately, it may be a while though.

Coming Tomorrow- Catcher for a last-place team who just hit a very high-profile grand slam against a competitor.