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Was the Price right?

Of course it was!  We are of course talking about David Price…in case that was a mystery.  Well, he did sign with the Red Sox about a week ago, so maybe it was…

Sure, he has underperformed in the playoffs, to put it nicely.  He has a history of listening too closely to fans/media/outside noise…not a great thing when pitching in Boston.  After Game 1 against Texas this past postseason, he claimed that he is nervous in his first postseason start of the year (fair enough), but also nervous during his “first spring training start” and “first bullpen”, etc.  And then used some sort of duck analogy.  Ok, a little weird.  So maybe some of these things are a little concerning.  Or a lot concerning.

But the Sox needed an ace…and thankfully they have moved on from the “5 aces” crap of last year.  Price was the best out there.  The Sox have the money.  This move HAD to be made.

You may say giving a 7 year contract to a 3o year old pitcher is stupid.  John Henry would have said that last year, but since he changes his mind every year, he didn’t care last week.  You may also say well, Jon Lester was age 30 last offseason and Henry and the Sox wouldn’t give him 7 years.  I would say the Sox didn’t really want to sign him at any price.  I think Larry Lucchino’s original offer of 4 years, 70 million should have told you that right from the start.  We’ve covered all that before though…

Let me also ask you this:  Would you rather have David Price at 7/217 or Jon Lester at 6/145 (plus 25 more in a 7th year or a 10 mil buyout)?  I don’t care how well Lester pitched in Boston, especially in the playoffs.  I don’t care if Lester came through the Sox’ system.  I don’t care if Jon Lester loves Boston.  The answer is easy…and it’s Price.  Price is a clear #1.  Lester, as good as he was here, really is more of a #2.  Take a look at his first year in the National League too.  11-12, 3.34, 207 K’s in 205 innings.  Not horrible, pretty good actually.  But not worth 25 laaaaaaaaaahge.  Obviously there is a long way to go to judge both of these deals.  But I’d take Price any day of the week and I think most of you would too.

If you are balking at the deal because of the 217 mil, well, have you seen the other contracts out there?  Greinke:  6/206.5.  Yikes!  But it goes way beyond that.  Johnny Cueto is still unsigned.  But he wants 25 mil plus.  These 3 were the “Big Three” of the free agent pitchers.  Fine, give them a boatload of dough.  Look deeper at the next “tier”.  Jordan Zimmerman:  5/110.  Jeff Samardzija:  5/90.  Hisashi Iwakuma:  3/45.  Mike Leake:  Unsigned, but looking for at least 15 mil/per.  Mike Leake??  If you ask me, John Lackey’s 2/32 is a steal when compared to the above contracts.  But still 16 per for a 37-year-old pitcher.

Sure, the money on the next level is less and the years are less.  But I’d still take Price’s contract over any of those.  Dig a little deeper.  Look at these:  Marco Estrada (2/26); JA Happ (3/36); Brett Anderson (1/15.8).  Rich Hill had 4 meaningless September starts for the Sox and got 6 mil from one of the cheapest teams out there in Oakland.  Switch gears to relievers:  Darren O’Day (4/31); Ryan Madson (3/22); Joakim Soria (3/25); Shawn Kelley (who?) (3/15); Tony Sipp (3/18).  Throw in position players:  Ben Zobrist (4/56); Chase Utley’s corpse (1/7); Colby Rasmus (1/15.8); Asdrubel Cabrera (2/18.5).  Chris Iannetta, a 32-year-old backup catcher who hit .188 last year…4.25 mil for him.

Ok, so the last paragraph was likely unnecessary.  But I like numbers, so deal with it.  The point has been driven home though I think.  The money is being spent out there.  May as well spend it on the best.  Especially when you still have guys like Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly, Rick Porcello and Wade Mil…ummmmmm, nevermind on him…still in your rotation.

So I liked the Price signing, that’s pretty clear.  Did I like the Wade Miley trade?  Glad you asked!  The answer is…I don’t know.  But I think I do.  Wade Miley is a nice #4 starter who you can seemingly lock into 30 plus starts and close to 200 innings.  That is a positive for any staff.  But he is still…Wade Miley.  Who is to say Henry Owens, Brian Johnson, Steven Wright…or any other Joe Blow can’t step into the #4/#5 starter role and replace him decently enough?  Plus, as much as I am not excited about John Farrell coming back as manager next year, when Miley pulled that stunt in the dugout with him after being shelled earlier last year, well, let’s just say I didn’t love that.

So Miley should be replaceable.  Maybe his replacement will be Roenis Elias…who knows?  Elias is a couple of years younger, so that is a positive…for whatever that’s worth.  Losing Jonathan Aro?  Meh.  Carson Smith?  Kind of makes you wonder why Seattle would give up a cheap guy under control for several more years.  But trading a reliever for a durable starter?  Maybe that’s why.  I often would not trade starters for relievers.  But again, Miley can be replaced by…anyone.  And if Smith can help solidify the back-end of the bullpen…probably worth it.  I can’t really get all that worked up about it.

I AM however all worked up about trading Garin Cecchini for a bag of used balls and a couple of beat up fungo bats.  Ok, I am not.  I did find it surprising that Cecchini was DFA’d over a guy like Bryce Brentz…but since absolutely no one but me cares, I’ll save those thoughts for myself.

So with the signing of Price and 4th outfielder Chris Young and the trades for Smith and Craig Kimbrel, Dave Dombrowski says he is essentially done.  (Aside on Kimbrel:  I usually don’t love trading for closers when they can be “found” (see:  Uehara, Koji).  Nor do I love giving up prospects for 60-70 innings a year…4 of them to boot.  But I normally would trade prospects for proven players.  And I am not sure I am worried about any of the 4 prospects becoming someone the Sox regret they gave away.  Even Manuel Margot.  The Sox need bullpen help.  Sooooo…I came to terms with it).

Anyway, Dombrowski said something to the effect of that he “doesn’t like to lie as it sets a bad example…”.  I hope he is stretching the truth then anyway.  There is more work to be done.  I’d still like to see a solid #2 starter.  Is it Eduardo Rodriguez?  Maybe.  But I sure as hell hope it ISN’T Clay Buchholz.  I’d love to see him dealt.  It isn’t Rick Porcello…though his contract doesn’t look so bad anymore, no?  Maybe Ben was somewhat right on one thing at least.  Anyway, there is rotation depth yes, but I’d take another upper end starter.  Bullpen?  Good start with Kimbrel, Uehara, Smith and Tazawa.  Maybe Elias.  Maybe Joe Kelly?  Matt Barnes?  I guess.  Robbie Ross Jr. is a decent 10-11 guy I suppose.  I wouldn’t mind seeing another proven guy out there though.

Hanley Ramirez has to go as well.  Easier said than done, I am well aware of that.  But the outfield experiment did not work last year.  Do we really think the first base experiment is going to work this year?  Cancer in the clubhouse…all that.  Just do whatever it takes to get him out of here.  I think it happens.  But it’s going to take some time…and the Sox eating a lot of dough.  Maybe even until spring training when someone on another team gets hurt and a team panics.  I don’t know how it will happen, but it needs to.  I’d also investigate trading either of Jackie Bradley Jr. or Rusney Castillo.  I’m not sold on either of those guys really.  Maybe trade one of them while they still have some value.  Although I can live with the 4 guys (Young and Mookie Betts the other 2 of course) in the outfield if I have to.

A couple more months until Spring Training…still time to make some decent tweaks to the roster…

 

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Baseball chattah…

*There seems to be some confusion on whether David Price is truly happy with how the Toronto Blue Jays are using him in the playoffs.  There are whispers that he is unhappy, though he has been shooting those down as recently as yesterday.  On one hand, I get it.  Starting pitchers are creatures of habit and like their routines  And why mess up a guy that should finish no lower than 2nd in the AL Cy Young voting this year?  And who you presumably want to re-sign when he becomes a free agent when the year is done?

But this is the PLAYOFFS!  Routine be damned.  Egos be shelved.  All that crap.  Did you hear even a peep when Chris Young and Steven Matz were each lifted with a big lead, 1 out shy of qualifying for a win?  Nope.  Ok, I’ll grant you Young (36-year-old career journeyman) and Matz (24-year-old rookie) are not David Price.  But still.  You do what you have to do in the playoffs to win ballgames.  End of story.  It would probably help Price’s case if he had any kind of historical success in the playoffs.

*That all being said, what Toronto manager John Gibbons has done at times is certainly mystifying.  Pitching Price in relief in Game 4 of the Division Series, where he wouldn’t be available for a possible Game 5 (and yes, I understand that there is no Game 5 if they don’t win Game 4, but they did have a big lead at the time Price entered as well).  Warming him up in Game 5 of the ALCS (see parenthetical point above).  Leaving Mark Buehrle off every postseason roster (why?).  Starting a knuckleballer (RA Dickey) in October, not once, but twice, with predictable results.  Pitching a position player for the first time in the history of the playoffs.  Etc.

I get that the Jays are short on lefties in the bullpen now, what with Brett Cecil getting hurt in the ALDS and Aaron Loup leaving the team for personal reasons earlier in the ALCS.  Thus the reason for having Price be ready on occasion I suppose.  But Buehrle is a lefty.  Where is he?  He had a pretty good year as well.  And didn’t Loup have to leave the ALDS as well for personal reasons?  With all due respect to whatever his situation is, maybe they should’ve left him off the ALCS roster then.  It’s not like he is that good anyway.  And Dickey?  I get that he finished the regular season strong.  But I’ve lived through a knuckleballer in the postseason (Tim Wakefield).  I don’t recommend it.

People are excited about the novelty of Cliff Pennington being the first position player in the history of baseball to pitch in the postseason.  I’m not.  I think it’s a joke.  If your team is good enough to be in the last four standing, this should unequivocally not happen.  Once again, I get that Loup left them a little short.  And that the game was a blowout.  And you didn’t want to waste “good” arms in Aaron Sanchez or Roberto Osuna.  But still.  Isn’t that what you carried a guy like Ryan Tepera on the roster for?  Tepera is a soon to be 28-year-old nobody that didn’t pitch since the last day of the regular season.  Granted, he was getting torched himself, but it’s not like you were worried about the game.  And it’s not like he wasn’t fresh.  And since he apparently isn’t a prospect, it’s not like you were worried about blowing his arm out.  Let him finish.  But once again, couldn’t Buehrle or Drew Hutchinson (not on roster either) have given you length in a spot like that?  One of these two guys could have been a better roster choice than 150 year old LaTroy Hawkins as well.  But I digress…

*Speaking of ALCS pitching staffs, the Royals’ staff ain’t so hot either.  Yes, they have a bunch of flamethrowers in the bullpen.  But you have to get to them first.  And one of them is Franklin Morales, who appeared to have a pretty good year.  But I’ve also lived through Morales in the postseason once.  I don’t recommend that either.  It looks like KC is just using him in mopup duty though, so they must have got the memo.

But I see these guys they are starting games with and shake my head.  Was it that bad in 2014, when they were a whisker away from winning the World Series?  Looking back, although there weren’t Cy Young guys left and right, the rotation was in a lot better shape.  At least they had a clear top of the rotation guy in James Shields in 2014, though he is more a #2 than a #1.  That was supposed to be Johnny Cueto for the second half of this year, but he has been subpar, to say the least.  His last postseason start of 8 runs in 2 plus innings…yikes.  Although Cueto thought the Jays were stealing signs and that he didn’t like the mound…ummmmm, ok.

In 2014, you also had 2 youngsters in Yordano Ventura and Danny Duffy that pitched great and showed good promise.  And a couple of serviceable mid-rotation type guys in Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Vargas.  In fact, these 4 plus Shields made 151 of the 162 starts last year.  Pretty reliable group, at the very least.

2015?  Shields departed to San Diego as a free agent.  Ventura and Duffy took a step back.  Guthrie was downright atrocious and is off the postseason roster.  Vargas got hurt.  85 starts between the 4 that remain…and seemingly not a lot of great ones among the 85.  KC replaced “Big Game” James with Edinson Volquez.  Volquez actually acquitted himself quite well in his 33 starts, but…he is still Edinson Volquez.  Young made 18 starts kind of off the scrap heap.  Cueto took 13 largely uninspiring turns.  And believe it or not, Joe Blanton got 4 starts.  Joe Blanton?  Ouch.

I suppose since they are on the brink of another World Series, maybe the difference in the rotations matters little.  They are even down Greg Holland in the bullpen, one of the better closers of this particular “era”, if you will.

But maybe it says something about the state of the American League that 2 teams with subpar pitching can make the final two?  Granted, the Jays lineup is stout.  And the Royals, though not as electric, seems to work well together and do everything right (but where are you, “proven winner” Jonny Gomes?).  But still…and also throw in the fact that the two managers, Gibbons and Ned Yost, aren’t exactly on anyone’s list of legendary skippers.

Gives me some hope that a 2016 Red Sox team can make a run with seemingly most of the putrid 2015 rotation coming back.  And another non-legendary skipper leading the team in the name of John Farrell.  I can dream, no?

National League All-Stars

In honor of the Major League Baseball All-Star game played Tuesday, here is my National League All-Star team.  20 position players, 14 pitchers, each team represented.  (S) for starter.  Comments below each position.  NL team was a little harder to pick.  Simply because based on the statistics, I should’ve taken 14 position players and 20 pitchers.  But that of course would look foolish, so…

C:  Buster Posey, SF (S), Yadier Molina, StL

As noted in the AL column, not a huge fan of taking 3 catchers.  Suppose a case could have been made for Yasmani Grandal and his 14 homers over Molina.  But he doesn’t have enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title, so I held that against him (did anyone realize only 4 NL catchers actually have enough at-bats to qualify?  I find that interesting, though it may only be me that does.  I get that a lot…).  Plus, we know what Yadier is defensively.

1B:  Paul Goldschmidt, AZ (S), Anthony Rizzo, CHC, Freddie Freeman, Atl, Adrian Gonzalez, LAD, Joey Votto, Cin, Adam Lind, Mil

6 first basemen you say?  I say yes.  For one, all 6 are in the top 11 in the NL in OPS.  For two, no DH’s are to be selected in the NL, so some can play there.  For three, Lind can play the outfield if you were desperate.  For four, I chose Lind as the Brewer rep.  So there you go.

2B:  Dee Gordon, LAD (S), Joe Panik, SF

Can you believe I had Chase Utley here as a backup to Gordon last year?  Wow, what a drop off for Utley this year.  I don’t necessarily love Gordon, as steals are overrated a bit.  But he is hitting .338 too, so…and Joe Panik?  Yeah, I could’ve gone Kolten Wong here too.  But what’s really the difference?  I flipped a coin…actually Panik had the higher OPS, so I went with that.

3B:  Todd Frazier, Cin (S), Nolan Arenado, Col, Kris Bryant, CHC

Frazier and Arenado are having monster years, but Nolan gets penalized for “The Colorado Effect”, so Todd starts.  I was hesitant on Bryant at first.  But the lack of offensive candidates here in general, and the excitement of showcasing the kids that could become faces of the game (you’ll see this for one more example later) led me to select him.

SS:  Jhonny Peralta, StL (S), Brandon Crawford, SF

Thin, but the best of the lot unfortunately.  Yup, Tulo is totally out this year for me.  I went through the whole Colorado thing last year.  No need to rehash that again.  Bottom line:  I penalize guys for putting up huge numbers because of that park.  Right or wrong.  Tulo’s home/road splits aren’t as pronounced as they were at this time last year.  But his overall numbers didn’t do enough for me.

OF:   Giancarlo Stanton, Mia (S), Andrew McCutchen, Pit (S), Bryce Harper, Was (S), Justin Upton, SD, Joc Pederson, LAD

Can’t get any more airtight than these three starters.  Upton is the Padre rep and for Joc?  See Bryant, Kris above.  .230 isn’t awesome, but he is still in.  You want AJ Pollock instead?  No thanks…

P:  Zack Greinke, LAD (S), Max Scherzer, Was, Gerrit Cole, Pit, Clayton Kershaw, LAD, Shelby Miller, Atl, Jacob deGrom, NYM, Jake Arrieta, CHC, Carlos Martinez, StL, AJ Burnett, Pit, Johnny Cueto, Cin, Madison Bumgarner, SF, Francisco Liriano, Pit, Cole Hamels, Phi, Aroldis Chapman, Cin

13 starters and 1 closer?  Yup.  Honestly, there were a whole slew of guys that I could’ve taken here.  Some gaudy numbers all around the league.  Of course, that’s probably because it’s the NL, but the numbers are the numbers.  Anyway, Greinke doesn’t have the K’s that Max or Clayton have, but you can’t argue a 1.39 ERA.  He was the right choice to start.  Yes, I took 3 Pirates.  Cole is 13-3, Burnett has a 2.11 ERA and Liriano has a 1.03 WHIP and is over a K per inning.  Simply stated stats, but they belong.

Miller’s performance this year makes you wonder why the Cardinals gave him up.  Usually the Cards know who to get rid of cuz they aren’t very good (see Kelly, Joe, Craig, Allen, Red Sox, Boston).  deGrom and Hamels are their teams’ reps.  Hamels numbers are inflated from a couple of shellings, but his overall numbers are decent enough.  Other than Jonathan Papelbon and maybe Ken Giles, candidates were sparse on the Phils, so I went with the horse.  Bumgarner’s numbers may not be quite as good as others.  But he’s here for a good first half and a dominant postseason last year.  Arrieta’s and Cueto’s WHIPs are both under 1.00, have nice ERAs and average about a K per inning.

Honestly could’ve made cases for John Lackey, Lance Lynn, Michael Wacha, Tyson Ross, Jason Hammel, Matt Harvey, etc.  But how many starters can you take?

Chapman seemed to be the only dominant bullpen guy out there and thus he was the only one selected.  There are a whole slew of closers with 20 plus saves and a 1-something ERA.  Drew Storen, Jeurys Familia, Trevor Rosenthal, Mark Melancon, Francisco Rodriguez, etc.  But looking at their overall numbers, I didn’t feel it.  Plus, I saw Melancon pitch in the AL.  Not pretty.  I’ll never forget his last meaningful appearance for the BoSox (he got shipped to AAA after that game and then came back later in the year only to pitch mopup).  6 batters, 6 runs, 3 homers, all of them moonshots.  The expression on his face as he gave up his last one?  Complete shellshock.  Happy to be back in NL I bet.

Guys like Pap and John Axford, Brad Ziegler, etc…same boat, with less saves.  Kenley Jansen actually has been dominant (16 saves, 0.55 WHIP, 1.66 ERA, 2/38 BB/K ratio), but he missed half the first half and has only pitched 22 innings.   Not enough.  And seem to be a lot of middle men with gaudy numbers.  But middle men certainly will get squeezed out here with the rest of the candidates.  Ain’t no Wade Davis or Dellin Betances in this group.  Maybe Kevin Siegrist.  AJ Ramos?  Possibly.  But not this year…

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