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The Ultimate Fantasy Baseball Feed, this feed aggregates the work of the top fantasy baseball bloggers and columnists available via RSS.



Updated: 2017-02-22T08:05:00+00:00

 



Top 100 Prospects for 2017 Fantasy Baseball

2017-02-22T08:05:00+00:00

Ladies and Gentleman, I present to you my pièce de résistance!! Yes, applaud for me, revel in my greatness. I even broke out a fancy accent marked phrase, who does that but a pretentious liberal arts major with delusions of grandeur? This is my title fight, the list for which all prospectors are measured. It's my Top 100 Prospects for 2017 Fantasy Baseball. Now that I've gotten beyond all the muckedy muck, let me explain a little about my list, and ranks. First: Yes I 100% factor in proximity, and it effects my rankings. Second: Upside is the most important factor. Third: Production in the minors matters to me. Unless it's in a crazy ballpark (cough, cough FirstEnergy Stadium: Reading, Pa), or contradictory to batted ball data. I've been deep in my hole since early October breaking down every system in the minors, reviewing video on Youtube, looking at batted ball data, checking the stats, and reading any and every scouting report I can get my hands on. It's one part eye test/ one part player profile/ one part production. I've been training all offseason for this, only my training involves sweat pants, a laptop, and lots of snacks. Speaking of snacks, I'm hungry let's get into the list!! You already know who's ranked first... It's Top 100 Prospects day!(image) Ladies and Gentleman, I present to you my pièce de résistance!! Yes, applaud for me, revel in my greatness. I even broke out a fancy accent marked phrase, who does that but a pretentious liberal arts major with delusions of grandeur? This is my title fight, the list for which all prospectors are measured. It's my Top 100 Prospects for 2017 Fantasy Baseball. Now that I've gotten beyond all the muckedy muck, let me explain a little about my list, and ranks. First: Yes I 100% factor in proximity, and it effects my rankings. Second: Upside is the most important factor. Third: Production in the minors matters to me. Unless it's in a crazy ballpark (cough, cough FirstEnergy Stadium: Reading, Pa), or contradictory to batted ball data. I've been deep in my hole since early October breaking down every system in the minors, reviewing video on Youtube, looking at batted ball data, checking the stats, and reading any and every scouting report I can get my hands on. It's one part eye test/ one part player profile/ one part production. I've been training all offseason for this, only my training involves sweat pants, a laptop, and lots of snacks. Speaking of snacks, I'm hungry let's get into the list!! You already know who's ranked first... It's Top 100 Prospects day!(image) (image)



Nationals: Matt Wieters Finally Finds a New Home in 2017

2017-02-22T05:24:00+00:00

Matt Wieters finally has a new home as the veteran catcher inked a deal with the Nationals. What is the fantasy fallout of the deal? The 2017 free agent class had its fair share of high-end names, but there were also many that stayed on the market longer than most would have thought. One of […]

Nationals: Matt Wieters Finally Finds a New Home in 2017 - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Practical and useful fantasy baseball advice and analysis.

Matt Wieters finally has a new home as the veteran catcher inked a deal with the Nationals. What is the fantasy fallout of the deal? The 2017 free agent class had its fair share of high-end names, but there were also many that stayed on the market longer than most would have thought. One of […]

Nationals: Matt Wieters Finally Finds a New Home in 2017 - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Practical and useful fantasy baseball advice and analysis.

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Quick Hits: Manfred, Rockies, Padres, A-Rod

2017-02-22T04:29:00+00:00

Rob Manfred “doesn’t realize the fight he is picking,” a player told FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal in light of the commissioner’s plan to implement rule changes against the union’s wishes in 2018. The player also suggested Manfred’s actions could lead to serious labor strife when it’s time to negotiate the next collective bargaining agreement in…Rob Manfred “doesn’t realize the fight he is picking,” a player told FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal in light of the commissioner’s plan to implement rule changes against the union’s wishes in 2018. The player also suggested Manfred’s actions could lead to serious labor strife when it’s time to negotiate the next collective bargaining agreement in 2021. “Four years from now, he will see absolute wrath if he makes the moves himself,” the player said, also adding that “the union is listening to the players, and the players don’t want the changes.” Unlike Manfred, MLBPA chief Tony Clark doesn’t believe the league has pace-of-play issues. However, Rosenthal points out that the average time of game went up by 4 minutes, 28 seconds last year. At the same time, balls in play hit an all-time low and relief pitcher usage reached an all-time high. Thus, despite the union’s objections, changes are on their way, writes Rosenthal, who opines that they’re “necessary.” More from around the majors: After adding Ian Desmond, Greg Holland and Mike Dunn in free agency, Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich expects the club to make a postseason push in 2017, writes Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post. “I do feel like we’re ready to take that next step,” said Bridich. “We accomplished that goal of playing meaningful games in August and September (during 2016). It didn’t work out for us in terms of postseason last year, but we accomplished that. It’s time for us go from a talented group to a good team that challenges for the playoffs and truly is a playoff team.” The Rockies haven’t won more than 75 games in a season since an 83-victory 2010 – their latest plus-.500 campaign – and are mired in a seven-year playoff drought. Colorado will have to take enormous steps to meet Bridich’s expectations this year, then, though it undoubtedly possesses some enviable talent. Given their underwhelming selection of rotation candidates, the Padres are open to trying a radically different approach with respect to starting pitcher usage this season, per AJ Cassavell of MLB.com. Manager Andy Green could opt to deploy a certain starter once through the order before switching to another one, perhaps based on handedness, Cassavell explains. On why that’s not a popular strategy, Green offered: “My perspective would be it’s a little bit more counter-cultural than anything else. It hasn’t really been done before. But matchups are becoming more and more prevalent.” The officially retired Alex Rodriguez doesn’t have any interest in becoming a major league manager, he told Jack Curry of YES Network (Twitter link). Despite his controversial past, Rodriguez’s much-ballyhooed baseball IQ could have made him an interesting candidate down the line. The 41-year-old is currently working with his longtime team, the Yankees, as a spring training instructor – a role he seems to relish, as Billy Witz of the New York Times details. “I think my value for these kids is going to be taking them out to dinner, a three-hour dinner,” he said of mentoring the team’s young players, “and the first hour and a half recognizing that they’ll probably be pretty nervous and pretty tight, and by the second half of that dinner, they’ll start asking real substantial questions. There’s so much that’s expected here in New York, and it’s so difficult to play in New York. And I think as staff mento[...]



White Sox, Nationals Were Close To David Robertson Trade, Now In “Stalemate”

2017-02-22T02:21:00+00:00

FEB. 21: Chicago would trade Robertson and possibly eat some of his salary if the Nationals were to give up catcher Pedro Severino, according to Phil Rogers of MLB.com (Twitter links). Both MLB.com and Baseball America rank the 23-year-old Severino as one of the Nats’ top 10 prospects. As written below, Washington isn’t eager to…FEB. 21: Chicago would trade Robertson and possibly eat some of his salary if the Nationals were to give up catcher Pedro Severino, according to Phil Rogers of MLB.com (Twitter links). Both MLB.com and Baseball America rank the 23-year-old Severino as one of the Nats’ top 10 prospects. As written below, Washington isn’t eager to deal more young talent; unsurprisingly, then, it would rather move Derek Norris than Severino, per Rogers. FEB. 12: The White Sox and Nationals seemed to be closing in on a trade that would’ve sent David Robertson to Washington last week, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale and Jose L. Ortiz report.  According to a Nats official, however, “the two sides have hit a stalemate and no trade is imminent.”  The Sox, for their part, continue to feel “optimistic” that a trade will be finalized. It isn’t known what caused this holdup in talks, though earlier this week, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported that Nationals ownership didn’t want to absorb the $25MM owed to Robertson over the next two seasons, nor did the front office want to give up quality minor leaguers.  The Nats already surrendered several top prospects to the White Sox earlier this offseason as part of the trade that brought Adam Eaton to Washington; the Nats tried to include Robertson along with Eaton as part of that trade package but were unsuccessful. On the surface, one could argue that the White Sox could be asking for too much in demanding that the Nationals (or other suitors for Robertson) pay a big price in both prospects and in taking on the closer’s entire contract.  That said, Chicago has already scored a massive influx of young talent in the Eaton trade and in dealing Chris Sale to the Red Sox — Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Michael Kopech are all ranked within the top 32 on Baseball America’s 2017 listing of the top 100 prospects in baseball.  Between these deals and the asking price for Jose Quintana, White Sox GM Rick Hahn has clearly put a premium on his top trade chips as part of his effort to bring a “critical mass” of talent into Chicago’s organization. Unless Robertson gets injured or has a dip in form, the Sox can also bide their time and wait until the trade deadline to find a suitable return for the closer.  Given the Nationals’ uncertainty at the back of their bullpen, Washington may not have that luxury.  As Nightengale and Ortiz point out, however, the Nats could make do with Blake Treinen or Shawn Kelley as closer for now and then pursue another ninth-inning option later in the season, as they did in acquiring Mark Melancon from the Pirates at last summer’s deadline.[...]



East Notes: Wieters, Rays, Mets, Phillies, Orioles

2017-02-22T02:01:00+00:00

The offer the Rays made to catcher Matt Wieters before he agreed to join the Nationals on Tuesday fell well short of Washington’s $21MM guaranteed proposal, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The Rays were willing to hand Wieters $6MM in guarantees and give him a chance to exceed the $10MM mark via…The offer the Rays made to catcher Matt Wieters before he agreed to join the Nationals on Tuesday fell well short of Washington’s $21MM guaranteed proposal, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The Rays were willing to hand Wieters $6MM in guarantees and give him a chance to exceed the $10MM mark via incentives on a one-year contract. While Tampa Bay would have been happy to reel in Wieters at that price, it’s not too broken up about losing out on his services, per Topkin. As the Rays await the return of injured free agent signing Wilson Ramos, they’ll be “very content” with Curt Casali, Luke Maile and Jesus Sucre as their top options at catcher, manager Kevin Cash said Tuesday. More from the AL/NL East: Meanwhile, Wieters’ agreement bolstered the confidence of an NL East rival – Mets backstop Travis d’Arnaud – because it ended speculation that the former would end up in Queens, writes Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. “For them to back me up like that means a lot,” d’Arnaud said. “I definitely worked harder to prove them right, to show them that I do care about it. I want to be here, to help this team get to the World Series and win it all.” The Mets didn’t seriously pursue Wieters, according to DiComo, and manager Terry Collins explained Tuesday that there’s plenty of belief in d’Arnaud within the organization. “If you’re a player and your front office and your manager support you and believe in you, you’d better have a good feeling about yourself,” Collins stated. “When you talk to Travis, you say, ’Hey look, when you first came here, everybody talked about potential, potential. We’ve seen it in action, so we know it’s in there. We’ve just got to get it back out.'” The 28-year-old d’Arnaud is a former high-end prospect who was terrific as recently as 2015, though he has an extensive injury history and is coming off a highly disappointing season. In the weeks between the opening of free agency in November and Andres Blanco’s December re-signing with the Phillies, the utility infielder refused to entertain other teams’ advances, he told Matt Gelb of Philly.com. “Just wait. They will call,” Blanco advised his agent, referring to the Phillies. They finally did – with a $3MM offer – in part because Blanco’s a respected figure in the team’s clubhouse and a favorite of manager Pete Mackanin, per Gelb. It helps that the 32-year-old has also been quite productive in Philadelphia, having slashed .274/.337/.457 in 523 plate appearances since 2014. Orioles closer Zach Britton won’t pitch in Wednesday’s intrasquad game because he’s showing symptoms of an oblique injury, manager Buck Showalter told reporters, including Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. Showalter downplayed the severity of the ailment, saying the O’s are only holding out the star left-hander for precautionary reasons. While oblique injuries often lead to disabled list stints during the year, Showalter indicated that Britton would be able to pitch through this if it popped up in the regular season. [...]



Latest On Potential MLB Rule Changes

2017-02-22T00:54:00+00:00

6:54pm: It now appears there will be one big change in 2017: MLB will switch to a dugout signal for intentional walks, team and union sources informed Howard Bryant of ESPN The Magazine (Twitter link). 6:12pm: Clark has responded to Manfred’s comments (via FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal): “Unless your definition of ’cooperation’ is blanket approval,…6:54pm: It now appears there will be one big change in 2017: MLB will switch to a dugout signal for intentional walks, team and union sources informed Howard Bryant of ESPN The Magazine (Twitter link). 6:12pm: Clark has responded to Manfred’s comments (via FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal): “Unless your definition of ’cooperation’ is blanket approval, I don’t agree that we’ve failed to cooperate with the Commissioner’s office on these issues.” “Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this off season we’ve been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened.” “I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don’t continue, notwithstanding today’s comments about implementation. As I’ve said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open.” “My understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2min limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of Game warning/fine adjustments.” 4:01pm: Major League Baseball proposed some notable rule changes to the MLBPA earlier this month, but none of those will take effect in 2017, commissioner Rob Manfred announced Tuesday. A frustrated Manfred explained to various reporters, including Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, that the union’s “lack of cooperation” will prevent the adjustments from coming to fruition this year (Twitter link). Manfred, who cited the need to improve “pace and action” of games, revealed that the league and the union discussed implementing a pitch clock, introducing automatic intentional walks, changing the strike zone and cutting down on mound visits (Twitter link via Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan). Placing a runner on second base during major league games which go to extra innings didn’t come up, and nor will it, as Manfred said that rule’s only use will be in “developmental leagues” (Twitter link via Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register). While it will be business as usual with big league rules this year, that won’t be the case in 2018. The collective bargaining agreement enables owners to make changes unilaterally, and Manfred indicated that they will next year (Twitter link via Shaikin). Even though the owners and the union agreed to a new CBA back in December, MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said it’s not yet official. However, the sides are “in the process” of finalizing it and “everything has been agreed to with respect to the big moving pieces” (via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald). After touching on potential rule changes, Manfred mentioned a desire for each franchise to have a “major league-quality stadium” and opined that the Diamondbacks’ 19-year-old facility, Chase Field, “needs work” (via Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, on Twitter). “It’s absolutely clear from the material that has been made available to me there are serious maintenance needs that need to be met with respect to the stadium,” he continued. “Unfortunately, they have not been able to reach a consensual agreement on how that was going to happen.” The Diamondbacks’ goal to land a new stadium came to the fore nearly a year ago, and the team brought[...]



Minor MLB Transactions: 2/21/17

2017-02-22T00:51:00+00:00

The latest minor moves from around baseball: Right-handed reliever Casey Janssen has signed with Acereros del Norte of the Mexican League, the team announced. The 35-year-old Janssen pitched in the majors for most of 2006-16, a 533-inning stretch in which he logged a 3.63 ERA, 6.18 K/9 and 2.77 BB/9. Nearly all of Janssen’s pro…

The latest minor moves from around baseball:

  • Right-handed reliever Casey Janssen has signed with Acereros del Norte of the Mexican League, the team announced. The 35-year-old Janssen pitched in the majors for most of 2006-16, a 533-inning stretch in which he logged a 3.63 ERA, 6.18 K/9 and 2.77 BB/9. Nearly all of Janssen’s pro career has been spent in Toronto, where he was particularly strong across 172 frames from 2011-13 (2.46 ERA, 8.9 K/9, 1.99 BB/9 and 56 saves). Janssen spent 2015 with the Nationals and some of last season in the Boston organization, which released him in August.
  • One of Janssen’s ex-Blue Jays teammates, Josh Roenicke (another righty reliever), has also joined the Mexican League. Roenicke will compete for a spot with Pericos de Puebla, club president Jose Melendez announced (Twitter link). The 34-year-old last took a major league mound in 2013, when he threw 62 innings with the Twins. In 220 1/3 big league frames with four teams, Roenicke has combined for a 4.17 ERA, 6.86 K/9 and 4.76 BB/9. He spent the past three seasons at the Triple-A level with four other organizations.
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West Notes: Angels, Dodgers, Mariners, Diamondbacks

2017-02-22T00:22:00+00:00

Angels right-hander Ricky Nolasco hasn’t eclipsed the 200-inning plateau since 2011, but he’s motivated to log at least 202 1/3 frames this year, writes Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times. That would give Nolasco 400 innings from 2016-17, meaning his $13MM club option for 2018 would vest; otherwise he could end up with a…Angels right-hander Ricky Nolasco hasn’t eclipsed the 200-inning plateau since 2011, but he’s motivated to log at least 202 1/3 frames this year, writes Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times. That would give Nolasco 400 innings from 2016-17, meaning his $13MM club option for 2018 would vest; otherwise he could end up with a $1MM buyout next offseason. “It’s a big deal to me,” Nolasco told Moura. “I know what’s at stake — something that, obviously, I want to get to, no matter what happens. When I first signed that contract with the Twins, I thought, ‘Well, as long as I stay healthy, this is a five-year deal.’ It’s kind of been on my mind since day one.” Nolasco came close to 200 innings last year, when he combined for 197 2/3 with the Twins and Angels, and Halos general manager Billy Eppler is rooting for him to surpass the mark this season. “I hope Ricky takes the ball every fifth day and does his thing and goes deep in games and wins a lot of ballgames,” said Eppler. Manager Mike Scioscia, meanwhile, stated that he doesn’t “even want to hear about” Nolasco’s contract, adding that “he’s gonna pitch, and hopefully pitch well.” More from the West Coast: Another Angels starter, left-hander Andrew Heaney, is recovering well from his Tommy John procedure last July and holding out hope for a return this season, per Moura. Scioscia isn’t optimistic, however. “From the information I have available right now, there is nothing that would make him available to pitch this year,” he said. “I just don’t see it happening.” Heaney took the mound only once last season, in a six-inning start on April 5, and attempted stem-cell therapy treatment on his elbow before opting for surgery. That worked for teammate Garrett Richards, but not Heaney. Before the Dodgers traded southpaw Vidal Nuno to the Orioles on Sunday, they offered him back to the Mariners, who declined thanks to a lack of roster space, reports Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Nuno spent most of the past two seasons in Seattle, which sent him to Los Angeles for catcher Carlos Ruiz in November. The Diamondbacks are “looking into building the industry’s most intelligent catchers,” including focusing on pitch framing, catching coach Robby Hammock told Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. “The catching staff tries to throw out attempted base-stealers 80-120 times a year as opposed to receiving 20,000 to 25,000 pitches a year,” Hammock said. “What do you want to emphasize?” Hammock’s views explain the Diamondbacks’ offseason decision to jettison Welington Castillo, a poor framer, in favor of the defensively adept Jeff Mathis. Fellow free agent addition Chris Iannetta, on the other hand, hasn’t fared too well as a framer (via Baseball Prospectus), though the D-backs are optimistic they can help fix his issues. “It’s a skill,” analytics head Mike Fitzgerald observed. “So if it’s a skill, you can improve at it or decline at it. There’s a decent amount of empirical evidence that guys can improve on this.” [...]



Eric Hosmer: “I Never Said Anything About A 10-Year Deal”

2017-02-21T23:01:00+00:00

While the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer will discuss a contract extension until Opening Day, there’s only a “remote” chance a deal will come together by then, per Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star. Kansas City has “been nothing but supportive,” Hosmer said Monday, but Dodd writes that the Scott Boras client regards…While the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer will discuss a contract extension until Opening Day, there’s only a “remote” chance a deal will come together by then, per Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star. Kansas City has “been nothing but supportive,” Hosmer said Monday, but Dodd writes that the Scott Boras client regards the idea of reaching the open market next winter as intriguing. Hosmer could end up with a $100MM-plus deal between now and the 2018 campaign, Dodd notes, though the 27-year-old indicated that rumors he’s pushing for a decadelong accord are false. “That’s where you guys get everything mixed up,” Hosmer said. “I never said anything about that. I never said anything about a 10-year deal.” It’s debatable whether Hosmer would be worth a major investment. After all, the former star prospect hasn’t exhibited much consistency since breaking into the league in 2011, having mixed productive offensive seasons with underwhelming ones. Hosmer was at his best in 2015, when he posted a .297/.363/.459, 3.4-fWAR season in 667 plate appearances and helped the Royals to their first World Series title since 1985. But he took sizable steps backward last year, another 667-PA campaign, as he slashed a mediocre .266/.328/.433 and logged a negative fWAR (minus-0.2) despite swatting a career-high 25 home runs. Across 3,722 major league plate trips, Hosmer has recorded an unspectacular .277/.335/.428 line to go with just 5.6 fWAR. As FanGraphs’ Jeff Sullivan pointed out earlier Tuesday, Hosmer has been as valuable per 600 PAs as Mitch Moreland since 2014. Moreover, projections for 2017 place Hosmer in the same company as Mike Napoli and Chris Carter. Moreland, Napoli and Carter, all first basemen, had to settle for one-year pacts ranging from $3.5MM to $8.5MM guaranteed in free agency this winter. Those are obviously far cries from substantial paydays in today’s league. Hosmer, in fairness, is several years younger than each of those 30-somethings, and Sullivan noted there could be reason to expect better from him going forward. Whether it will hold up going forward is debatable, but Hosmer has performed well in clutch situations. He also could be a better defender than the metrics give him credit for, and there might be untapped potential on the offensive end, Sullivan observes. Still, as Sullivan concluded, it doesn’t seem as if Hosmer has done enough up to now to justify an enormous contract. For the Royals, locking Hosmer up by April would likely mean awarding him a deal more valuable than the franchise record-setting, $72MM pact they gave outfielder Alex Gordon as a free agent last year. That would be difficult for a medium-payroll club that also has decisions to make on soon-to-be free agents like outfielder Lorenzo Cain and third baseman Mike Moustakas by next winter.[...]



Cardinals: Fantasy Outlook after Losing Alex Reyes

2017-02-21T21:31:00+00:00

The Cardinals announced last Wednesday that their young starting pitcher Alex Reyes will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the 2017 season. The St. Louis Cardinals hopes of taking back the National League Central might have just been crushed. The team announced that 22-year-old pitcher Alex Reyes will miss the whole 2017 season after electing […]

Cardinals: Fantasy Outlook after Losing Alex Reyes - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Practical and useful fantasy baseball advice and analysis.

The Cardinals announced last Wednesday that their young starting pitcher Alex Reyes will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the 2017 season. The St. Louis Cardinals hopes of taking back the National League Central might have just been crushed. The team announced that 22-year-old pitcher Alex Reyes will miss the whole 2017 season after electing […]

Cardinals: Fantasy Outlook after Losing Alex Reyes - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Practical and useful fantasy baseball advice and analysis.

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Alex Rodriguez Says He Is Officially Retired, Has No Intentions Of Comeback

2017-02-21T20:49:00+00:00

Appearing at camp in his capacity as a Yankees spring instructor, former star Alex Rodriguez told reports that he has no intentions of staging a comeback at 41 years of age. As Jack Curry of the YES Network was among those to report (links to Twitter), Rodriguez says he’s officially retire and won’t be looking to make…

Appearing at camp in his capacity as a Yankees spring instructor, former star Alex Rodriguez told reports that he has no intentions of staging a comeback at 41 years of age. As Jack Curry of the YES Network was among those to report (links to Twitter), Rodriguez says he’s officially retire and won’t be looking to make a return to the majors.

We have heard strong suggestions of this before, of course, including a recent statement from Rodriguez’s spokesperson stating that Rodriguez did not intend to play in 2017. But this appears to be the first time that Rodriguez himself has spoken definitively on the matter, making clear that he has officially hung up his spikes and doesn’t intend to pull them back out of the locker.

Despite those prior indications, there have been persistent questions about whether Rodriguez might change his mind at some point — not least of which because he’s just four home runs shy of 700. He’d also have represented a low-cost signing, since the Yankees are still obligated for his $21MM salary this year. (That fact will remain unchanged.)

Rodriguez did note that several organizations reached out to him after he wrapped up his tenure with the Yankees  in the middle of the 2016 season. He declined to provide details, but it seems there were opportunities with teams other than the Marlins — the only club that had been linked publicly to the veteran slugger. Though Rodriguez was a shell of his former self in 2016, he was quite productive the season prior. He might also have represented an intriguing gate attraction, and continues to draw plaudits for his baseball acumen even as his reputation has suffered due to his troubling history with PEDs.

With today’s news, it seems we can confidently put to bed any further questions of A-Rod’s future — except, perhaps, as they pertain to his candidacy for the Hall of Fame and non-playing pursuits. In addition to his role with the Yankees, the future extent of which remains to be seen, Rodriguez appears likely to enhance his presence as an analyst. Having previously worked the postseason coverage for FOX Sports, Rodriguez is now in talks to spend time in the YES Network booth, according to Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com. He’s also set to host a reality show on CNBC that will focus on retired athletes’ financial problems.

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Buster Posey and Overstated Decline

2017-02-21T20:15:00+00:00

Some fans call him Superman, and for good reason. He hits for average and for power; he draws walks and barely strikes out; he plays premier defense at a premium position. He’s won Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player, three Silver Sluggers, a batting title, a Gold Glove, and oh by the way, three […]Some fans call him Superman, and for good reason. He hits for average and for power; he draws walks and barely strikes out; he plays premier defense at a premium position. He’s won Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player, three Silver Sluggers, a batting title, a Gold Glove, and oh by the way, three World Series rings. Yes, indeed, Buster Posey has done it all. In his remarkable career, Posey has slashed .307/.373/.476 with a 136 wRC+ and excellent defense in 899 games for the San Francisco Giants. In 2016, however, Posey was human. He slugged just .434 with a 116 wRC+. It was the first time he posted a wRC+ below 135 since 2011, the year he sustained a season-ending ankle injury in May. Posey was 29 years old in 2016, so some decline was to be expected, and should be expected going forward. Decline, however, does not explain the dramatic dip in production for Posey, even though he’s a catcher. As Dave Cameron noted in 2013, despite conventional wisdom to the contrary, “There simply isn’t this huge early-30s drop-off that is widely accepted as a fact of life for catchers…Like players at all other positions, catcher aging is a mostly linear downwards trend, and there just aren’t certain ages at which player performance gets exponentially worse. Skills decay over time; they don’t evaporate over night.” Posey’s skill erosion in 2016 was of the “evaporate over night” variety. He had a healthy .186 ISO and 126 wRC+ in the first half, but just a .101 ISO and 105 wRC+ in the second. While it’s not unheard of for catchers to wear down in the second half, it is unusual for Posey. In his career, Posey has a 137 wRC+ and .176 ISO in the first half, and a 135 wRC+ and .161 ISO in the second. Posey missed time with an irritated nerve in his thumb in June and with back tightness in August. On Aug. 8, he slid awkwardly (to put it mildly) into third base during a game against the Marlins, and after the play Posey appeared to say, “I might have broke my finger.” Through Aug. 8, Posey was batting .291/.365/.461 with a .170 ISO and 123 wRC+. After Aug. 8, he had just a .095 ISO and 102 wRC+. While it’s easy to pinpoint the Aug. 8 incident as a major reason for Posey’s disappointing finish, he had just one home run and a .099 ISO from Jul. 8 to Aug. 8. Whatever the cause, a sudden and sharp decline (due to age and position) beginning in the middle of the season is probably not to blame. Despite strong career second half numbers, Posey’s slow 2016 wasn’t the only time he’s faded down the stretch. In the second half of 2013, he slashed just .244/.333/.310 with an 87 wRC+. There was legitimate concern about Posey at the time, but he silenced his critics with a stellar 2014 campaign in which he hit .311/.364/.490 with a 142 wRC+, fueled by a second half in which he hit .354/.403/.575 with a 180 wRC+. Posey has now had two disappointing second halves, but he’s also had two monster ones, including when he put up a 200 wRC+ in the second half of 2012 on his way to league MVP honors. The projection systems seem to agree that the dip in power for Posey last year was just an aberration. Steamer sees Posey rebounding to a .300/.370/.467 line with a 127 wRC+ and .166 ISO. ZiPS is slightly less optimistic, forecasting a .295/.359/.451 line with a 119 wRC+. The FA[...]



NL Notes: Sosa, Norris, Wieters, Magic, Ichiro

2017-02-21T19:53:00+00:00

The Cubs’ rocky relationship with former star Sammy Sosa — or, perhaps, the lack thereof — has been well documented. But Sosa himself hasn’t been much willing to discuss it, until participating in a chat with MLBTR contributor Chuck Wasserstrom at his personal blog. Sosa admits to some mishandling of the end of his tenure with…The Cubs’ rocky relationship with former star Sammy Sosa — or, perhaps, the lack thereof — has been well documented. But Sosa himself hasn’t been much willing to discuss it, until participating in a chat with MLBTR contributor Chuck Wasserstrom at his personal blog. Sosa admits to some mishandling of the end of his tenure with the Cubs, saying: “My intention was to finish my career in Chicago. … The only thing we cannot do is turn back time. We can’t do that. But hey, we have to move forward. I understand I made a mistake. I regret it, definitely, but I have to move on.” There’s quite a bit of interesting information for Cubbies fans to digest; you’ll want to give the interview a full read. Here’s more from the National League: Nationals manager Dusty Baker strongly hinted that the club will look to find a taker for catcher Derek Norris after agreeing to terms with Matt Wieters, as Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post tweets. “There’s always someone looking for a front line catcher,” the veteran skipper said of Norris. The addition of Wieters creates an immediate glut at the catching position for the Nats, who also employ reserve Jose Lobaton and prospect Pedro Severino. While the immediate speculation turned to the youthful Severino, who’d be a much more likely candidate to help the Nats address another need at the major league level than is Norris, he still has options and likely maintains an important place in the team’s long-term picture at the catching position. Over at Fangraphs, Dave Cameron opines that the Nationals’ deal with Wieters doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. While the price is reasonable enough, says Cameron, it’s just not clear that Wieters represents a significant enough upgrade over Norris to make it worthwhile. I’d note that the maneuvering could make greater sense if Washington were instead considering parting with Lobaton, whose switch-hitting capabilities aren’t as useful with a fellow two-sided hitter joining the mix, though the above-cited comments from Baker suggest that’s not the likely outcome. In his own look at the Wieters move, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports suggests that the signing was largely driven by the special relationship between agent Scott Boras and the Nationals’ ownership group. As discussed in our post on the deal, Boras and the Nats have linked up on a variety of contracts in recent years, often coming to fruition when the super agent sits down with principal owner Ted Lerner. As Rosenthal puts it, “Nats ownership … operates to its own rhythm, with Boras frequently calling out the beats.” NBA legend and part Dodgers owner Magic Johnson has taken over as the Lakers’ president of basketball operations, and you can find all the details at MLBTR’s sister site, Hoops Rumors. Despite his new duties, Johnson’s role with the baseball organization won’t change, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports (Twitter links). “Whenever we need Magic, he’s been available,” says Dodgers president & CEO Stan Kasten. “That won’t change.” Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki suffered a bruised knee in a collision with fellow outfielder Brandon[...]



2017 New Pitch Tracker

2017-02-21T19:48:00+00:00

This marks the fourth consecutive spring for tracking new pitches at Fangraphs. In 2014, the series was launched with a piece featuring both a retired and current pitcher and their insight into adding new pitches during the offseason and/or in camp. The 2015 tracking was done at RotoJunkieFix where I serve as the CIO which […]This marks the fourth consecutive spring for tracking new pitches at Fangraphs. In 2014, the series was launched with a piece featuring both a retired and current pitcher and their insight into adding new pitches during the offseason and/or in camp. The 2015 tracking was done at RotoJunkieFix where I serve as the CIO which is just a fancy title for the guy that keeps a 20+ year old fantasy community up and running in his spare time. By popular demand, the 2016 New Pitch Tracker gained front page real estate here and I updated it throughout the spring with help from Jeff Zimmerman and others scraping the stories from the web and the crew at BrooksBaseball helping validate the pitches. That same support model will be in place this year for the extended 2017 Spring Training. The follow-up work in 2014 showed that 17 of the 23 pitchers that faced at least 100 batters in 2014 improved their strikeout rate, 16 of 17 generated more swinging strikes while 15 of them reduced their contact rates. In 2015, even more pitchers tinkered with new pitches, but the gains were not as definitive. I did not do a follow-up piece to the 2016 new pitches to see whether gains were realized but that list included as many breakouts as it did busts. Perhaps a look back at those pitchers can be done this spring while we continue to compile the new list of new pitches over the next few weeks. Without further ado, here is the list of new pitches we’ve heard about in chronological order with links to the tweet or the story with the details of the pitch: (1/22) Cody Buckel – working on a new changeup (1/28) Dylan Bundy – taking the mothballs off his cutter (2/8) Craig Breslow – new arm angle + life on pitches (2/14) Jesse Hahn – lowering arm slot; sacrificing fastball velo for movement (2/15) Joe Ross – further development of his changeup (2/16) Kenta Maeda– adding a cutter (2/17) A.J. Puk – taking the mothballs off his curveball (2/17) Yu Darvish – taking the mothballs off his splitter (2/18) Sean Manaea – developing a slider (2/18) Lance McCullers – working on a new changeup (2/19) Tyler Eppler – working on a slutter (2/20) Tyler Glasnow – new changeup grip & delivery & going back to using a two-seam fastball (2/21) Jameson Taillon – changing from a 4-seam to a 2-seam changeup grip (2/21) Luke Gregerson – working on a changeup [...]



RCL Update: Get In The Game

2017-02-21T19:00:00+00:00

Boy does it feel good to be back!  I can’t wait to be half as productive at work and start losing countless hours of sleep staying up to watch the finish of the Marlins@Padres game  just in case there is a closer injury.  Football was a fine diversion, but I always feel a little empty without baseball.  I’m happy to be back for another season as your Razzball Commenter League (RCL) tour guide.  I love these things.  Really, they play to my strengths and offer ample opportunity to test strategy and ideas.  I love the constant ability to go for every last hit, RBI, SB.  Weekly lineups/moves have their place, I just don’t find them as fun.  The format, the League Competitive Index competition, battling hundreds of other managers for the top of the overall standings and of course, the non stop action make this a unique and fun challenge.  It’s kind of like pounding a pot of coffee every hour, on the hour for six straight months.  I’m also a huge nerd for all the numbers and data that gets collected from running so many leagues under the Razzball umbrella.  I will do my part to share some of these numbers with you along the way and try to glean some info from all that data.  VinWins was my hero back when he ran the RCL Updates, so I’ll do my best to be his protege.  In order to make the data pool even larger though, we need you, and you, and you too.  You see, what makes RCLs great is all of you.  Man that sounds mushy, but it’s true.  In an ideal world, every Razzball reader would head on over to the RCL sign-ups, pick a league and all would be right with the world.  For those of you that aren’t so eager, let’s sit down and chat it out. First of all, if you’re on the fence about joining an RCL, that can’t be comfortable.  You really should hop down from there and just join a league already.  I get it though, back in the late aughts, when I first started lurking around Razzball I too was reluctant to join an RCL.  I kick myself now though for not joining in the fun sooner.  I’ll give you the reasons I was staying away and then explain why it was complete bunk.  Maybe I can sway another 2-3 of you to come join the masses.  If you have other reasons for keeping away, by all means, lay them on me in the comments.  I love talking RCLs and if we can be doing something better, I’ll be your voice to the big wigs.  So, here we go:Boy does it feel good to be back!  I can’t wait to be half as productive at work and start losing countless hours of sleep staying up to watch the finish of the Marlins@Padres game  just in case there is a closer injury.  Football was a fine diversion, but I always feel a little empty without baseball.  I’m happy to be back for another season as your Razzball Commenter League (RCL) tour guide.  I love these things.  Really, they play to my strengths and offer ample opportunity to test strategy and ideas.  I love the constant ability to go for every last hit, RBI, SB.  Weekly lineups/moves have their place, I just don’t find them as fun.  The format, the League Competitive Index competition, battling hundreds of other managers for the top of the overall standings and of course, the non stop action make this a unique and fun challenge.  It’s kind of like pounding a pot of coffee every hour, on the hour for six straight months.  I’m also a huge nerd for all the numbers and data that gets collected from running so many leagues under the Razzball um[...]



Orioles Acquire Richard Bleier, Designate Christian Walker

2017-02-21T18:57:00+00:00

The Orioles have acquired lefty Richard Bleier from the Yankees, per a club announcement, with cash or a player to be named later heading back in return. Baltimore designated first baseman/outfielder Christian Walker for assignment to create roster space. Bleier, 29, had been designated for assignment recently by New York. The soft-tossing southpaw managed a…

The Orioles have acquired lefty Richard Bleier from the Yankees, per a club announcement, with cash or a player to be named later heading back in return. Baltimore designated first baseman/outfielder Christian Walker for assignment to create roster space.

Bleier, 29, had been designated for assignment recently by New York. The soft-tossing southpaw managed a strong 1.96 ERA in his 23 MLB frames with the Yankees last year, but managed only 5.1 K/9 to go with strong walk (1.6 BB/9) and groundball (54.1%) rates.

While that’s obviously rather promising for a debut campaign, Bleier hasn’t compiled the minor-league record to suggest its entirely sustainable. He worked to a 3.72 ERA in his 58 Triple-A innings in 2016, notching just 25 punchouts along the way. And though he has recorded an over 3.29 earned run average in 147 frames at the highest level of the minors, exhibiting excellent command along the way, he has an anemic 3.7 K/9 in that span.

As for Walker, the move rates as a disappointment after indications earlier in the offseason that he could contend for a roster spot. That hope largely came to an end when the O’s brought back Mark Trumbo, though it seemed there was at least some possibility with a big spring — until now. The 25-year-old, a fourth-round pick in the 2012 draft, has received only minimal time in the big leagues with Baltimore. Over three seasons of work at Triple-A, he slashed .260/.324/.429. Though he split his time last year between first base and the outfield, that represented his first look on the grass.

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Camp Battles: Milwaukee Brewers

2017-02-21T18:23:00+00:00

For the rebuilding Brewers, the 2017 season will serve as an audition to determine who will be part of the team’s future. Step one in the process will begin this spring with several players in the mix for openings. Here are some notable position battles to keep an eye on. CENTER FIELD and RIGHT FIELD Keon Broxton…For the rebuilding Brewers, the 2017 season will serve as an audition to determine who will be part of the team’s future. Step one in the process will begin this spring with several players in the mix for openings. Here are some notable position battles to keep an eye on. CENTER FIELD and RIGHT FIELDKeon BroxtonAge: 27 Bats: R Contract Status: Pre-Arbitration; projected to become a free agent after ’22 season Options remaining: 1 Domingo SantanaAge: 24 Bats: R Contract Status: Pre-Arbitration; projected to become a free agent after ’21 season Options remaining: 1 Hernan PerezAge: 26 Bats: R Contract Status: Pre-Arbitration; projected to become a free agent after ’20 season Options remaining: Out of options Kirk Nieuwenhuis Age: 29 Bats: L Contract Status: 1 year, $900K; projected to become a free agent after ’19 season Options remaining: Out of options Lewis BrinsonAge: 23Bats: RContract Status: Pre-Arbitration; projected to become a free agent after ’23 seasonOptions remaining: 3 Other candidates: Ryan Cordell, Kyle Wren Sporting a .125/.253/.188 slash line in 75 plate appearances, Broxton was, unsurprisingly, optioned to the minors in early July. That he was recalled later in the month and inserted into the starting lineup was a surprise, but he rewarded the Brewers’ faith in him with a stellar performance over his final 169 plate appearances (.294/.399/.538), including eight homers and 16 stolen bases. The center field job is likely his to lose. Santana also left quite a late-season impression with a .301/.350/.581 slash line over his final 100 plate appearances. That should also give him a leg up this spring, although his 32.4% strikeout rate presents enough of a concern that he won’t just be handed the starting right field job. Of course, giving him regular playing time during a rebuilding season is how you find out if he’s capable of making the proper adjustments. Perez probably won’t be named as a “starter”, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be in the starting lineup more often than not in 2017. With his defensive versatility—he played every position but catcher and pitcher in 2016— and an intriguing stat line in his first opportunity at semi-regular playing time in the Majors (.730 OPS, 13 HR, 34 SB in 430 plate appearances), there’s no question that Perez has tremendous value to the Brewers. It just might not be—and doesn’t have to be—as a regular outfielder. Nieuwenhuis, who started 68 games in center field and 22 games in right field in 2016, gives the Brewers a veteran alternative to bridge the gap to the team’s top outfield prospects. Like the other outfield candidates, he strikes out a ton, but he also showed some power in 2016 (13 HR, 18 2B in 392 plate appearances). After being acquired from the Rangers in the Jonathan Lucroy on August 1st, Brinson asserted himself as the Brewers’ top prospect heading into the season with a .382/.387/.618 slash line in 93 plate appearances for Triple-A Colorado Springs. He wasn’t having the best season prior to the trade (.237/.280/.431 in 326 Double-A plat[...]



February Rankings – Second Basemen

2017-02-21T18:15:01+00:00

We’re going position by position this week and next with our initial roll out of rankings. We will update these in March based on Spring Training activity and injuries. We’re using Yahoo! eligibility requirements which is 5 starts or 10 appearances. These rankings assume the standard 5×5 categories and a re-draft league. If we forgot someone, […]We’re going position by position this week and next with our initial roll out of rankings. We will update these in March based on Spring Training activity and injuries. We’re using Yahoo! eligibility requirements which is 5 starts or 10 appearances. These rankings assume the standard 5×5 categories and a re-draft league. If we forgot someone, please let us know in the comments and we’ll make sure he’s added for the updates. If you have questions for a specific ranker on something he did, let us know in the comments. We can also be reached via Twitter: Paul Sporer Jeff Zimmerman Mike Podhorzer Brad Johnson Justin Mason Al Melchior There will be differences, sharp differences, within the rankings. The rankers have different philosophies when it comes to ranking, some of which you’re no doubt familiar with through previous iterations. Of course the idea that we’d all think the same would be silly because then what would be the point of including multiple rankers?! Think someone should be higher or lower? Make a case. Let us know why you think that. The chart is sortable. If a ranker didn’t rank someone that the others did, he was given that ranker’s last rank +1. Key: AVG– just the average of the seven ranking sets AVG– the average minus the high and low rankings SPLIT– the difference between the high and low rankings Previous Editions: OF SP 1B SS 3B February 2B Rankings RK NAME Paul S Brad Mike Jeff Al Justin AVG Adj. AVG Split 1 Jose Altuve 1 1 1 2 1 1 1.2 1.0 1 2 Trea Turner 2 2 2 1 3 2 2.0 2.0 2 3 Jonathan Villar 3 3 3 5 2 4 3.3 3.3 3 4 Robinson Cano 4 4 5 7 6 3 4.8 4.8 4 5 Daniel Murphy 5 5 4 6 5 6 5.2 5.3 2 6 Brian Dozier 6 7 6 4 7 5 5.8 6.0 3 7 Rougned Odor 12 12 8 3 9 8 8.7 9.3 9 8 Jean Segura 8 9 15 10 4 9 9.2 9.0 11 9 Matt Carpenter 7 6 11 16 8 10 9.7 9.0 10 10 Dee Gordon 9 13 10 8 14 7 10.2 10.0 7 11 Ian Kinsler 10 10 7 14 10 11 10.3 10.3 7 12 DJ LeMahieu 11 11 9 12 12 12 11.2 11.5 3 13 Jason Kipnis 14 8 13 13 11 13 12.0 12.5 6 14 Jose Ramirez 13 19 14 9 13 15 13.8 13.8 10 15 Dustin Pedroia 15 14 16 17 15 18 15.8 15.8 4 16 Jose Peraza 22 15 12 11 22 19 16.8 17.0 11 17 Ben Zobrist 18 18 19 20 15 16 17.7 17.8 5 18 Logan Forsythe 17 17 17 21 18 17 17.8 17.3 4 19 Eduardo Nunez 16 22 18 15 17 20 18.0 17.8 7 20 Jonathan Schoop 24 21 22 18 19 14 19.7 20.0 10 21 Neil Walker 20 16 25 19 21 23 20.7 20.8 9 22 Devon Travis 19 24 20 28 20 26 22.8 22.5 9 24 Starlin Castro 31 29 24 25 26 25 26.7 26.3 7 23 Ryan Schimpf 30 23 26 22 28 31 26.7 26.8 9 25 Javier Baez 21 20 32 31 35 24 27.2 27.0 15 26 Joe Panik 25 31 27 29 24 33 28.2 28.0 9 28 Yangervis Solarte 29 25 23 36 29 28 28.3 27.8 13 27 Josh Harrison 28 27 28 24 31 32 28.3 28.5 8 29 Jedd Gyorko 26 33 38 27 30 22 29.3 29.0 16 30 Hernan Perez 35 32 33 34 23 21 29.7 30.5 14 31 Cesar Hernandez 33 28 29 33 27 34 30.7 30.8 7 32 Brandon Phillips 34 36 30 30 33 27 31.7 31.8 9 33 Howie Kendrick 36 30 21 26 38 39 31.7 32.5 18 34 Kolten Wong 32 26 35 37 32 35 32.8 33.5 11 35 Steve Pearce 27 34 39 35 36 30 33.5 33.8 12 36 Brandon Drury 23 48 36 41 25 29 33.7 32.8 25 37 Jorge Polanco 40 42 31 23 34 38 34.7 35.8 19 38 Brett Lawrie 43 41 34 41 37 40[...]



Nationals To Sign Matt Wieters

2017-02-21T18:15:00+00:00

12:24pm: Wieters will actually stand to earn $10.5MM in each year of the deal, according to ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden (via Twitter). 10:42am: There is indeed a deal in place, pending a physical, per Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post (Twitter links). It includes a deferral that would push $5MM of his earnings to 2021. 10:35am: Wieters will…12:24pm: Wieters will actually stand to earn $10.5MM in each year of the deal, according to ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden (via Twitter). 10:42am: There is indeed a deal in place, pending a physical, per Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post (Twitter links). It includes a deferral that would push $5MM of his earnings to 2021. 10:35am: Wieters will receive a $21MM guarantee, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). He’ll earn $10MM in 2017 and have the choice whether to take $11MM or return to the open market for 2018. 9:04am: The Nationals are nearing a deal with free-agent backstop Matt Wieters, according to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). It would be a two-year contract that includes an opt-out, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter links) and Heyman (via Twitter). Wieters is the top remaining player on MLBTR’s pre-offseason top fifty list; he checked in at 16th. If a deal is finalized, he’d presumably receive the bulk of the duties behind the dish. The switch-hitting receiver would join a mix that includes Derek Norris — acquired earlier in the offseason — along with holdovers Jose Lobaton and Pedro Severino. It’s unclear exactly how things could play out for the Nats, but adding Wieters would hold out the promise of upgrading the catching situation while also opening some room for further transactions. Norris and Lobaton are both playing on non-guaranteed arbitration contracts, with the former set to earn $4.2MM in his second-to-last season of control and the latter entering his walk year with a $1.575MM salary. Either of those veterans could be moved; parting with Norris would free more salary, though he has a stronger track record than Lobaton and the latter’s switch-hitting capabilities are less necessary with Wieters on hand. [RELATED: Updated Nationals Depth Chart] The Nats could also consider dealing the younger Severino to address its needs at the back of the bullpen, though it’s far from clear how long Wieters will remain in place and the organization still faces long-term questions at the position. That said, the Nationals do have several other possibilities in the pipeline, including 40-man members Spencer Kieboom and Raudy Read as well as two other top-thirty organizational prospects in Tres Barrera and Jakson Reetz.  The White Sox are clearly willing to trade reliever David Robertson, of course, and could well be interested in a controllable backstop; per ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark, via Twitter, the Chicago organization has been waiting to see if the Nats would land Wieters to “rekindle” talks on Robertson. In addition to Severino, it’s also possible that the White Sox could have interest in Norris, though presumably they’d also be looking for young talent in such a scenario. ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden tweeted earlier this morning that Wieters’s agent, Scott Boras, was “meeting with both GM’s and Owners” and making progress on a deal. The veteran agent has long had a strong connection with the Nats’ ownership and front office group, with the sides working out significant contracts over recent years for play[...]



When stars-and-scrubs go bad: the Diamondbacks

2017-02-21T18:00:01+00:00

Arizona is a cautionary tale of the potential dangers of an unbalanced roster: real bad, with no relief imminent. Let’s build a baseball team from scratch. What’s the first thing you get? Probably an incredible hitter, easily among the best in the league and in the prime of his career. And on the other side of the ball, a legit ace, who has the ability to strike guys out but also pitches with a plan. Add a crack center fielder and an emerging young infielder, and fill out the rotation with some live young arms (along with all the upside that entails). Seems like a pretty good start to a team, right? Probably! But a start isn’t always enough. The team, as the title suggests, is the Diamondbacks. And those players — Paul Goldschmidt, Zack Greinke, A.J. Pollock, Jake Lamb, Robbie Ray, Archie Bradley, Taijuan Walker, and Shelby Miller — are all really quite good! (Part of the rotation maybe isn’t actually good, but some number of them will probably end up giving Arizona some good innings.) But those stalwarts will almost certainly not be enough in 2017. Beyond their excellent players, the Diamondbacks have starters like Yasmany Tomas and Nick Ahmed, who... are not excellent. The Diamondbacks' roster falls off so quickly that, despite its lofty high end, both Baseball Prospectus and FanGraphs project the club to go 77-85. There’s something about the stars-and-scrubs approach to roster building that is very appealing; the stars are the hard part, and then you just need to get some not-entirely-scrubby-scrubs, and how hard can that be? Sometimes really hard, it turns out! There are some other things that can go wrong in the stars-and-scrubs approach, and nearly all of them have gone wrong down in the Arizona desert. Let this be a cautionary tale to all who think this is the easy path to the playoffs: Stars not good enough Pretty descriptive title. Probably doesn’t need much of an explanation, but here goes. A team with a successful stars-and-scrubs approach needs a lot of stars, and needs them to stay good. The Diamondbacks’ stars are really good! But they’re not all as good as they were supposed to be when Arizona signed them, or all as good as they used to be. Paul Goldschmidt, for example, is great! But he’s coming off the worst offensive season of his career since 2012, and he’s about to hit 30. Zack Greinke is the obvious name, though; after 222 2⁄3 innings with a 1.66 ERA in 2015, he threw 158 2⁄3 innings with a 4.37 ERA. That first ERA was definitely the product of some good luck, and the second ERA was definitely the product of some bad luck, so it’s not as if Greinke suddenly careened from best pitcher in the league by a big margin to sub-par at best. But he did careen from a very good pitcher to a pitcher who at least performed like something other than a very good pitcher, and most importantly, the Diamondbacks have promised to pay him like the best pitcher in the league. It’s not just that Greinke has been a disappointment; it’s the $34 million he’s owed annually even if he disappoints. Then there are the other, supporting stars, guys like Pollock (who played only 12 games last year), Lamb (who had a nasty second-half slump), and Walker and Ray (who haven't pitched as well as their peripherals suggest they should). They're solid players, but the holes in their game prevent them from becoming truly elite. This team-building strategy is predicated on the possibility of improvement at those scrubby po[...]



Podcast: “ESPN Rankings Jobbers”

2017-02-21T18:00:00+00:00

We're back with a fresh edition of the Razzball Pod - and shocker! - Grey starts the show by yelling at me about the intro! Bloodfeud today! We catch up on some of the news from the past few weeks including the unfortunate Alex Reyes injury, then spend the majority of the show previewing OF! I nitpick through Grey's rankings which you can follow along with here, as we hit on some values in the earlier rounds all the way down to some NL-only sleepers. All leading up to the biggest question of all: who is ranked higher, Ben Revere or Denard Span?! Here's the latest edition of the Razzball Baseball Podcast: Download from iTunes(image) We're back with a fresh edition of the Razzball Pod - and shocker! - Grey starts the show by yelling at me about the intro! Bloodfeud today! We catch up on some of the news from the past few weeks including the unfortunate Alex Reyes injury, then spend the majority of the show previewing OF! I nitpick through Grey's rankings which you can follow along with here, as we hit on some values in the earlier rounds all the way down to some NL-only sleepers. All leading up to the biggest question of all: who is ranked higher, Ben Revere or Denard Span?! Here's the latest edition of the Razzball Baseball Podcast: Download from iTunes(image) (image)



ADP Watch: At His Current ADP, Is Todd Frazier Worth Selecting?

2017-02-21T17:15:01+00:00

by Ray Kuhn Todd Frazier also reached his career high in home runs last season, with 40, but what can we expect from him this season? The easy answer is not another 40 home run campaign. With Frazier expected to regress, and we will getby Ray Kuhn Todd Frazier also reached his career high in home runs last season, with 40, but what can we expect from him this season? The easy answer is not another 40 home run campaign. With Frazier expected to regress, and we will get into how valuable he truly is, you should be cautious before investing in him. There is no need to reach based on his current ADP of 73.81, which makes him the seventh third baseman coming off the board. Frazier’s performance last season was aided by his career high home run to fly ball rate of 19%. In 2015 he had a career high Power Index of 157 (he hit 35 home runs), and last season it fell to 142. What is troubling is that his expected Power Index was just 111, so there is not a lot of room for error. Not only did he see the drop in his power, but his Hard Contact rate also plummeted from 125 to 92 (below average). What did hold up from 2015 was his fly ball rate of 49%, but that doesn’t bode too well for the rest of his performance. Frazier managed just a 16% line drive rate last season, which helped to contribute to his .225 batting average. Over the past three seasons he has seen his average drop fall from .273 in 2014 to .255 in 2015 and .225 last year. Over that same stretch his strikeout total has risen from 139 to 163, helping to explain the decrease in his contact rate from 78% to 72%.  You could blame some of Frazier’s woes on his hit rate of 24%, but that would be overlooking the larger problems. In 2015 it was 28%, which is the same as it was in the second half of last season in which he hit .247. There is certainly more than enough room for Frazier’s batting average to climb, but I wouldn’t expect to see much improvement. He struggles to make contact, strikes out a ton and doesn’t hit enough line drives. His speed has also been decreasing over the past few seasons and his days of 15 stolen bases are likely behind him. Frazier is still a very strong bet for 30 home runs (and likely 90 RBI), but at what cost? The underlying metrics show his power upside isn’t what it used to be and it’s hard to see him hitting more than .245. With home runs more readily available, the hit to your batting average might not necessarily be worth it (especially in the fifth round). *** Order Rotoprofessor’s 2017 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for Just $7.00 By Clicking Here!!   Not only will you get all the help you need to dominate your fantasy draft, but you will also be entered to win a Noah Syndergaard autographed baseball, complete with “Thor” inscription! *** Make sure to check out our other Early 2017 Rankings: PositionLast Updated Catcher01/09/17 First Base01/16/17 Second Base01/23/17 Third Base02/06/17 Shortstop02/13/17 Outfielder12/05/16 Starting Pitcher12/13/16 Relief Pitcher01/02/17 [...]



NFBC Slow Draft, Part 2: We Report, You Deride

2017-02-21T17:15:00+00:00

Our report on the first half of our NFBC Slow Draft received reviews that were decidedly, um, mixed. But mixed reviews didn’t deter the producers of Batman vs. Superman from offering a sequel, and they’re not deterring us. We won’t revisit the background information about the draft or the strategy with which we approached it; […]Our report on the first half of our NFBC Slow Draft received reviews that were decidedly, um, mixed. But mixed reviews didn’t deter the producers of Batman vs. Superman from offering a sequel, and they’re not deterring us. We won’t revisit the background information about the draft or the strategy with which we approached it; it’s there at the start of the first installment. We’ll just report our selections, and comment when comment seems called for. And remember, folks, this is the second half of a 50-player draft. If everything goes perfectly, which of course it won’t, almost none of these guys will crack our starting lineup. Many of them are strictly spare parts. So “Ewww! Eduardo Escobar” is uncalled for. Draft Position 374. Scott Schebler and 377. Francisco Liriano. Liriano, at least in 2017, is the kind of pitcher you take when you have a deep bench. We suspect that his career as a starting pitcher is over. He was very bad with Pittsburgh in the first four months of last season—his ERA third time through the order was 10.04–and while he helped Toronto a lot in the August and September, he still had trouble getting past the fourth inning in his 8 starts: ERA, innings 1 through 4, 1.97; ERA thereafter, 5.28. We’re not counting on him. But we got him cheap (his NFBC Average Draft Position is 324), he can still get strikeouts, he’s already penciled in to the Blue Jays’ rotation, and maybe we’re wrong about him. 404. Tony Wolters and 407. Lewis Brinson. Having assembled the suspect catching staff of Derek Norris and Devin Mesoraco, we needed to get someone else we like, and we did. We predict that Wolters will wind up getting the bulk of the playing time at catcher for the Rockies this season. The team has a full complement of young, promising starting pitchers who will require delicate handling, and Wolters is an excellent defensive catcher and pitch framer, whereas Tom Murphy, with whom he shares a job, is subpar. The Rockies’ lineup is otherwise so loaded that they may well decide to favor the better defender. And Wolters, aided by that old Coors magic, can hit a bit: .360/.427/.570 against right-handers at home last season. And Brinson? Wish we could explain what a shrewd pick this was, but we can’t and it wasn’t. Yes, he is by most reckonings a top-20 prospect with a big power/speed upside. But what really happened was this: it was after 10 PM, the pick had to be made by 6 the following morning lest it default to some ghastly alternative whose identity eludes us now, and the Birchwood Brothers’ front office was short-handed that night. The BB on duty spent a full hour deliberating between Joaquin Benoit and Wilmer Flores, only to land on Brinson for reasons he can’t reconstruct. 434. Kendall Graveman and 437. Josh Hader. Our theory is that the Oakland bullpen of Madson-Doolittle-Casilla-Dull, plus our man Liam Hendriks and perhaps top prospect Frankie Montas, about whom more later, will get itself straightened out and be as formidable as we and others thought it wo[...]



West Notes: Romo, Hahn, M’s, D-Backs

2017-02-21T17:12:00+00:00

Newly minted Dodgers righty Sergio Romo discussed his interesting journey to joining his hometown team with Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Personal trials and the strain of an increasingly high-profile role in the Giants bullpen put a strain on the veteran hurler, he tells Rosenthal. He credits several former teammates, including lefty Javier Lopez, with helping…Newly minted Dodgers righty Sergio Romo discussed his interesting journey to joining his hometown team with Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Personal trials and the strain of an increasingly high-profile role in the Giants bullpen put a strain on the veteran hurler, he tells Rosenthal. He credits several former teammates, including lefty Javier Lopez, with helping him to find his footing once again. Also of note, Rosenthal says that Romo “reject[ed] a higher offer from the Rays” to head to Los Angeles, due in part to the ability to live closer to his family. Here’s more from out west: Righty Jesse Hahn is set to receive the Athletics’ first start this spring, as Susan Slusser notes on Twitter. That’s a solid indication that he’s under serious consideration for the fifth starters’ role, she notes. The 27-year-old is looking to bounce back after a rough 2016 campaign in which he pitched to a 6.02 ERA with just 4.5 K/9 against 3.7 BB/9 in his 46 1/3 MLB innings. Hahn had generated quality results in his first two MLB campaigns, which occurred on both sides of a trade that sent him to Oakland from the Padres in exchange for catcher Derek Norris. But elbow troubles interrupted his 2015 campaign, and he has yet to get back on track. Mariners president Kevin Mather issued a statement to MLB.com in advance of the 2017 campaign, expressing high hopes for the organization. While any executive would express an intention to win a championship, his words seem to carry a certain set of expectations for the near term. “It is time to play October baseball in Seattle,” writes Mather. “Our fans deserve playoff baseball, and I’m not just talking about a Wild Card Game. Once in the playoffs, our goal is to win the World Series. Period. And having said that, we don’t want to win just one.” New Diamondbacks exec Amiel Sawdaye — whose title is senior VP and assistant GM — spoke with David Laurila of Fangraphs about the organization’s new approach. Sawdaye is only one of several key figures in Arizona with deep ties to the Red Sox, so it’s not surprising to learn that Boston’s approach will be reflected. He describes the intended decisionmaking process as “more of a flat hierarchy.” Sawdaye emphasized, though, that the D-Backs had strong player development and scouting units, good young front office people, and a “decent infrastructure” for analytics already in place. There are several other topics covered in the interesting chat, including the Jean Segura trade and the team’s possibilities for 2017. Jorge De La Rosa is among the players competing for a role with the Diamondbacks this spring, and as MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert notes, he’s hoping to finally crack the big league roster there in his third stint with the organization. Of course, De La Rosa had only previously actually suited up for a few minor-league outings as an 18-year-old; his second run with Arizona only lasted a [...]



How did Julio Teherán succeed in 2016 despite his average stuff?

2017-02-21T16:00:00+00:00

Teherán suffered a velocity drop in 2016, but his slider and command helped to drive a career year. Julio Teherán is undeniably the best pitcher on the Braves’ staff. He was a highly touted prospect once upon a time, showcasing a mid-nineties fastball, a plus changeup, and a great ability to throw strikes. Any baseball fan who watched Teherán with any regularity in 2016 will tell you however that, with the exception of throwing strikes, the previous sentence does not describe him at all. Last season, Teherán’s fastball velocity averaged a career low 92 MPH, and that was with a small spike in velocity in September, per Brooks Baseball. Most games he sat at 88-91 MPH, which is merely average. Despite this, Teherán had a career year. He had a 3.35 RA9 and 4.8 WAR. He really was not much different from another mediocre fastballer, Kyle Hendricks, who had a 5-WAR season but a much lower RA9 thanks to the Cubs’ historically good defense. Teherán’s velocity has been steadily declining for years. It did not just fall off a cliff, which would indicate some major event such as an injury. His fastball only averaged 92 MPH in 2014, yet he still had a 3.34 RA9 and 3.9 WAR. He kept hitters honest with his great changeup, which limited them to a .242 AVG, .394 SLG, and 12 percent whiff rate. In 2015, though, his changeup lost a lot of its efficacy. Hitters started teeing off on it. They hit .364 with a .533 SLG, and their whiff rate dropped by almost three percentage points, which is an overall decrease of about 25 percent. He performed like a below-average pitcher with a 4.44 RA9 and 1.5 WAR. Even his walk rate rose by almost two percentage points, and his command/control had always been one of his strengths. I wish I could say why Teherán’s changeup performed so poorly in 2015. Maybe it lost deception or maybe he was tipping it. His changeup velocity has always been consistent, so it also could have been the smaller difference in velocity between it and his fourseamer. In 2012, the velocity difference was over 12 MPH. In 2015, that difference dropped to 9 MPH. This is all speculation, mind you, as this kind of analysis is best suited for a scout, which I am not. According to FanGraphs’ Lead Prospect Analyst Eric Longenhagen, the changeup has lost its movement and is now more of a fringe average pitch. One interesting change from Teherán in 2015 was that he started throwing first-pitch sliders over 50 percent more often than he used to, and even more so in 2016. His slider was a relatively new pitch that he debuted in 2013, and it’s working for him. Longenhagen wrote that the slider is just average, but he has the ability to place it wherever he wants. Longenhagen also described how Teherán’s mediocre fastball doesn’t get crushed. “Because of the drop and drive in Teheran’s delivery, his fastball comes in flat and has no plane... Despite that, his arm is quick and deceptive, such that hitters have issues timing a ball that looks harder than 90-91 for the first few innings before they adjust to it.” FIP has gotten devalued in the past couple of years because of the rise of DRA, but it is interesting how Teherán’s RA9 has consistently outperformed both stats. Maybe Teherán is an anomaly, or maybe he has just gotten lucky over the y[...]



Player Targets or Asset Classes?

2017-02-21T15:15:00+00:00

Over my many years of fantasy experience, I’ve come to recognize two methods of building a roster. Method 1: an owner targets very specific players and fills around those as needed. Usually, the owner aggressively shops those filler players. Method 2: Every player is treated as a generic asset, sorted into classes. Today, we’ll talk […]Over my many years of fantasy experience, I’ve come to recognize two methods of building a roster. Method 1: an owner targets very specific players and fills around those as needed. Usually, the owner aggressively shops those filler players. Method 2: Every player is treated as a generic asset, sorted into classes. Today, we’ll talk about the pros and cons of both approaches. When targeting specific players, there’s a tendency to reach for them in the draft. Otherwise, how else can you ensure you’ll get everyone you want. Let’s say you’re betting on young talent. You’re eager to get at least two of Andrew Benintendi, Dansby Swanson, and Alex Bregman. For the sake of argument, lets say they all have eighth round ADPs. That means you’ll be drafting them starting in the sixth or seventh round. It could be said that these players are from the same asset class even though they play different positions. They share risk factors, upside, and expected cost. An owner who focuses on asset classes will be indifferent between the trio of options. They’ll take whichever fits their roster best at the time of their eighth round pick. If none are available, they’ll turn to another asset from the same class. Rather than reaching for Benintendi in the seventh round, they’ll draft a more appropriate talent like Khris Davis. There is value to specifically targeting a player like Benintendi. Based on our staff rankings, he’s the 41st ranked outfielder, sandwiched between Jose Peraza and Joc Pederson. Between his adequate power, plate discipline, and plus contact ability, Benintendi’s upside looks something like peak Michael Brantley. Even if he doesn’t make that much contact, he’s still poised to provide a lot of fantasy value. He’s rumored to be in consideration for the second spot in the batting order. Focusing too closely on Benintendi causes one to lose sight of the larger picture. We’re here to win fantasy baseball championships. When it comes time to make the pick, a Benintendi lover will never audible to Matt Kemp. Even though Kemp absolutely should be picked first. Seems wrong, doesn’t it? Let’s investigate. Benintendi is projected to hit .283/.338/.440. We’ve talked about the upside, what about the downside? Steamer thinks he’ll cut his strikeout rate by one-third, from 21.2 percent to 14.5 percent. It thinks this because Benintendi had an above average 7.4 percent swinging strike rate and never struck out more than 11.4 percent in the minors. Long term, we’re likely to see his strikeouts decline from his debut rate. However, it’s not guaranteed to happen this year. Young, patient hitters sometimes post unusually high strikeout rates as they acclimate to the majors. Steamer also projects 11 home runs and 14 steals over 560 plate appearances. I think he’ll hit for more power. Again, precocious hitters sometimes struggle to tap into their game power[...]



Episode 34: In Play, Prospects

2017-02-21T15:03:00+00:00

It’s prospect time! Jeffrey Paternostro (Baseball Prospectus, host of BP Mets 'For All You Kids' podcast) joins host Evan Davis (BtBS, FanRag Sports, THT) and co-host Nick Stellini (BtBS, FanGraphs)to discuss the BP 101 prospect rankings, as well as some advice for those wanting to get into scouting: Check us out on iTunes! Listen to the show, rate us, subscribe to us, and leave us glowing reviews at this location. Once again, thanks to Trapdoor Social for letting us use their songs ‘Back to Somewhere’ and ‘Sunshine’ off their new self-titled album. You can find them on iTunes here, on their website here, and on Facebook here. Listen to their great music! Make sure to follow us on Twitter, tweet us questions, and let us know who your favorite prospect ranking was. Subscribe to our RSS feed here. Finally, feel free to email us questions or concerns at inplaypodcast@gmail.com.It’s prospect time! Jeffrey Paternostro (Baseball Prospectus, host of BP Mets 'For All You Kids' podcast) joins host Evan Davis (BtBS, FanRag Sports, THT) and co-host Nick Stellini (BtBS, FanGraphs)to discuss the BP 101 prospect rankings, as well as some advice for those wanting to get into scouting: Check us out on iTunes! Listen to the show, rate us, subscribe to us, and leave us glowing reviews at this location. Once again, thanks to Trapdoor Social for letting us use their songs ‘Back to Somewhere’ and ‘Sunshine’ off their new self-titled album. You can find them on iTunes here, on their website here, and on Facebook here. Listen to their great music! Make sure to follow us on Twitter, tweet us questions, and let us know who your favorite prospect ranking was. Subscribe to our RSS feed here. Finally, feel free to email us questions or concerns at inplaypodcast@gmail.com.[...]



Finding Second-Base Gems in Yahoo’s Average Auction Values

2017-02-21T14:50:00+00:00

Yahoo launched their fantasy baseball site for 2017 over three weeks ago, which means that by now, there should be some solid trends to analyze in their average draft position and auction value data. There’s some surprises to be found in the early returns, so let’s dive right into the top 12 by average auction […]Yahoo launched their fantasy baseball site for 2017 over three weeks ago, which means that by now, there should be some solid trends to analyze in their average draft position and auction value data. There’s some surprises to be found in the early returns, so let’s dive right into the top 12 by average auction price. (When looking at the 2016 values, keep in mind that Turner and Gordon each played roughly half a season, and Carpenter dealt with an oblique injury.) Average auction price on Yahoo (2016 end-of-season value) Jose Altuve – $49.0 ($34.7) Trea Turner – $41.2 ($10.7) Robinson Cano – $28.1 ($26.2) Brian Dozier – $26.2 ($27.0) Jonathan Villar – $26.0 ($26.4) Daniel Murphy – $25.2 ($25.4) Rougned Odor – $25.0 ($19.3) Ian Kinsler – $17.7 ($23.7) Dee Gordon – $17.1 (-$4.0) Jean Segura – $16.7 ($24.9) Jason Kipnis – $16.1 ($16.4) Matt Carpenter – $16.1 ($7.2) While it’s true that elite players usually cost more than they “should” in auctions, if my leagues hold true to this pricing structure, I’m not likely looking to roster Altuve or Turner this year. I’ll roll out my preseason second-base tier rankings in the coming weeks — in many ways, this piece is a primer for that one — and it’s far from a spoiler to say that Altuve and Turner are my top guys. They’re pretty much everyone’s top guys. I still cannot personally justify that sort of cost differential. $49 is way too rich for my blood on Altuve, as that’s essentially betting on him to maintain last year’s power surge, while also re-upping his stolen-base numbers to 2014 levels. I love Altuve as much as anyone else, but I’m not dropping fifty bucks on him in an auction. Spending north of $40 on Turner is equally excessive. I don’t believe for a second that he’ll come close to repeating last year’s power output, which means he’d likely have to steal 50+ bases and compete for a batting title to justify that price tag. The biggest problem with spending so much on Altuve or Turner is that there are a bunch of entirely reasonably priced players going in that $25-$28 range. I probably like Cano and Murphy the best of that bunch, and Dozier’s at a fair price as well. Think of it this way: Would you rather have Murphy and $24 to spend elsewhere, or Altuve? How about Dozier and $15, or Turner? This brings us to possibly the most important point of all: Promise me you’ll spend more than $16 on Carpenter. I don’t get the low projections on his power — Steamer has him at a .177 ISO, ZiPS at .189 — after he posted two straight seasons of an ISO right around .234. If he stays healthy, there’s no reason he shouldn’t challenge for a spot among the top 5-6 second basemen. Past the top 12, we encounter the following list of leftovers: Average auction price on Yahoo (2016 end-of-season value) DJ LeMahieu &nd[...]



Braves Considering Kelly Johnson

2017-02-21T14:34:00+00:00

The Braves are among the organizations considering a move for free-agent infielder/outfielder Kelly Johnson, according to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). At this stage, though, Johnson is holding out for a MLB roster spot, per the report. Presumably, Atlanta isn’t currently willing to clear 40-man space and guarantee cash to Johnson, who turns 35…

The Braves are among the organizations considering a move for free-agent infielder/outfielder Kelly Johnson, according to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). At this stage, though, Johnson is holding out for a MLB roster spot, per the report.

Presumably, Atlanta isn’t currently willing to clear 40-man space and guarantee cash to Johnson, who turns 35 tomorrow. Whether any organization ultimately will do so remains to be seen. On the one hand, an injury could suddenly make Johnson seem quite appealing; on the other, clubs may be less inclined to promise a MLB job as camp goes on.

In the Braves’ case, the presence of Jace Peterson — another left-handed-hitting infielder who could see time at second and third — complicates matters. While both could theoretically coexist on the same roster, it’s perhaps more likely that they’d end up battling for a single job.

Though Johnson’s latest stint in Atlanta wasn’t terribly productive — he hit just .215/.273/.289 in his 132 plate appearances there last year — there’s little question that the Braves front office is favorably disposed towards Johnson. After all, the club has signed and then traded him in each of the past two seasons.

Johnson did rebound last year upon moving to the Mets (a now-familiar intra-division transition). And he has been fairly consistent in recent years, providing solid pop while representing a less-than-inspiring on-base threat. Since becoming a purely part-time player in 2013, Johnson has posted a .241/.306/.402 batting line with 47 home runs over 1,372 plate appearances. He has also shown the ability to handle just about any defensive assignment that’s thrown at him, though he has only been asked to play shortstop in a pinch.

While there are obvious limitations to Johnson’s game, he seemingly represents a solid potential bench piece for many clubs. For instance, the Royals could seemingly stand to plug in a lefty-hitting second base option (more on that here), and it’s also possible to imagine matches with the division-rival White Sox, Tigers, and Twins — among other organizations that make some degree of sense on paper.

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Is this finally the year of the Carlos Rodon breakout?

2017-02-21T14:00:00+00:00

Rodon’s finish to 2016 was encouraging, but was it a harbinger of things to come? From the moment he was drafted third overall in 2014, we’ve been asking ourselves how soon it would be before Chicago White Sox starter Carlos Rodon became an ‘ace’. It was just a matter of ‘when’, not ‘if’ it would occur. We all thought last year might be the year. It was Rodon’s first full season in the majors, and as such, he’d had some time to get his feet wet and acclimate to baseball at the highest level during his rookie. 2016 was supposed to bring us a better, more comfortable Rodon. And it did, just not to the extent we’d all hoped for. Rodon threw 165 innings, and by just about anyone’s wins-above-replacement measure, he was at least an average starter. A 23-year-old performing that well in his first full season as a big leaguer should thrill just about all of us, and yet, because expectations were so high, we were left wanting a little more. Early last season, FanGraphs’ Eno Sarris dove into why 2016 might be the year for Rodon’s breakout. The adjustment Sarris keyed in on the most was the shift in Rodon’s horizontal release point, specifically how he moved farther and farther towards the third base side of the rubber in his rookie season, and why that shift could portend better command going forward. However, Sarris also hedged his optimism by noting that if Rodon was going to live up to expectations, he’d have to continue to develop his changeup. So before we dig into why 2017 may or may not be his breakout season, let’s take a look at those two things to see whether Rodon progressed or stagnated in those areas. As Sarris noted in his piece, the farther Rodon shifted towards third, the better his control became. For a left-handed pitcher, that’s pretty intuitive. The farther towards third you are, the less you have to throw across your body to hit the zone. So let’s take a look at his horizontal release point from the last two seasons to see whether he was able to keep that up: Brooks Baseball Where a pitcher stands on the rubber isn’t the only factor in horizontal release point, of course, but Rodon’s motion and delivery were almost identical to 2015. So despite telling Sarris the following, Rodon didn’t really stick with an adjustment that he seemed to believe had a big positive impact on his command: “It helped me get my two-seamer on the corner to righties. I set up closer to middle-in against righties and then I could catch the outside corner with my sinker. If I start on the first-base side, I have to throw it towards the hitter and hope to catch the corner” - Carlos Rodon So if Rodon stopped doing something that ostensibly helped his command, you would probably expect his numbers in those areas to decline. However, that wasn’t really the case. So while a move away from the third base side may have made those who knew about it nervous at first, it didn’t prevent Rodon from making significant strides with regards to his command. But what about the changeup? Did Rodon make any progress with that pitch? Again, the results are mixed. Brooks Baseball He started out 2016 hardly throw[...]



2017 LABR Mixed Draft Recap

2017-02-21T13:15:00+00:00

The section below before I reveal my team is going to be similar to previous LABR recaps since little has changed and there’s no sense in rewording things. It’s mid-Feburary, so you know what that means…another super eeeeeeaaaaaaarrrrlllllllyyyyyyy LABR Mixed draft has been completed! Tout Wars auctions don’t take place for another month, my local […]The section below before I reveal my team is going to be similar to previous LABR recaps since little has changed and there’s no sense in rewording things. It’s mid-Feburary, so you know what that means…another super eeeeeeaaaaaaarrrrlllllllyyyyyyy LABR Mixed draft has been completed! Tout Wars auctions don’t take place for another month, my local league’s auction is in the same boat, and opening day is still six weeks away! The early timing of LABR Mixed presents some interesting challenges in that there are many position battles yet to have even begun and poor Pedro Alvarez still finds himself teamless. So on one hand, it requires us to perform serious research and really know the depth charts, but on the other, we’re all just speculating, crossing our fingers, and hoping for the best. LABR Mixed is a 15 team league composed of fantasy baseball industry veterans, with traditional 5×5 roto scoring, standard 23-man active rosters (which means two catchers and nine pitchers), and a six man reserve squad. We get unlimited DL spots. We use FAAB and begin with 100 units. The minimum bid is 1, not 0, so if your team is ravaged by injuries, there may come a point where you’re literally out of FAAB units and are forced to keep a hurt player in your lineup (yes, this has happened to me before and I’ve seen it happen to many a team I’ve competed with as well). Before I recap my team, let’s talk strategy. To be honest, I hate being asked what my strategy is heading into a draft or what it was after the draft has ended. Strategy, seriously? Obviously, my strategy is to draft the best team possible…by acquiring as much value as I can, while being mindful I don’t draft 300 steals and just 100 homers (believe me, my player values make this is a lot easier to accidentally accomplish than you would ever imagine!). However, there is kind of an answer to this silly “what was your strategy?” question. I’m probably so used to the way I draft that I don’t even think of it as strategy anymore, but rather just “correct” or “proper” drafting. A year ago leading up to the 2016 LABR recap, I described an important piece of snake draft prep that I perform. The exercise helps me determine which positions I could afford to pass on the top players at value in order to wait for bargains to appear later on, and which positions I shouldn’t expect to find undervalued names, and instead snatch up the top tier guys. So in other words, if I don’t see any players I feel are undervalued at shortstop, then I’m perfectly happy using an early round pick on a Carlos Correa or a Corey Seager. I don’t need to save the spot to scoop up a bargain later. However, if I notice a couple of first basemen I feel are undervalued later on, I m[...]



Top 5 Players Under 25: First Base Edition: Is Cody Bellinger The Future & More

2017-02-21T12:30:00+00:00

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor) Who are the next wave of superstars in Major League Baseball? That’s what we are about to dive into, as we go position-by-position, looking for the best players who are 25-years old or younger (as of April 1, 2017).by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor) Who are the next wave of superstars in Major League Baseball? That’s what we are about to dive into, as we go position-by-position, looking for the best players who are 25-years old or younger (as of April 1, 2017). Obviously, things will be slightly skewed to those who have already reached the Majors and produced, but minor leaguers and their upside will not be ignored. Next up is first base, where the majority of the established talent has already aged out of eligibility for this list.  It tends to be an “old man’s position”, to an extent, which is filled with established stars but little else…  Or is it?  There’s a wave of talent that has just recently emerged, or is on the precipice, and they shouldn’t be ignored.  Who should be garnering the attention?  Who are the next great first basemen?  Let’s take a look:   1) Josh Bell – Pittsburgh PiratesAge as of 04/01/17 – 24 The question facing Bell has always been whether or not he’d develop enough power to be a viable first base prospect.  While he may never be a consistent 30+ HR threat, he started to tap into his potential last season by hitting 17 HR (14 at Triple-A and 3 in the Majors).  Couple that with 31 doubles and 4 triples, the potential is there to hit 20-24 HR annually.  While that’s not a sexy number, given the plate discipline he’s shown at the highest levels there’s an awful lot to like (strikeout rate // walk rate): Triple-A (484 PA) – 15.3% // 11.8% Majors (152 PA) – 12.5% // 13.8% The switch hitter was stronger against right-handed pitching while at Triple-A, but held his own against southpaws (.267/.366/.427).  He could put up seasons of .300/25/100, which would put him among the better options at the position.   2) Cody Bellinger – Los Angeles DodgersAge as of 04/01/17 – 21 You can argue that Bellinger is the best first base prospect in the game, and he has the prototypical makeup but also the prototypical risks.  While he hit 26 HR between Double and Triple-A last season over 410 AB, there’s the potential that he’s starting to sell out for his power.  He only added 18 additional extra base hits and was clearly putting the ball in the air a significant amount (0.50 GO/AO).  His strikeout rate wasn’t awful while at Double-A, with a 20.2% mark compared to a 12.7% walk rate, but there’s the potential for that to rise as he faces more and more advanced pitching. Bellinger could be a consistent 30+ HR slugger, but given the fly balls and strikeouts it could come with a .250ish average (or worse).  It’s something to monitor, but the former also hasn’t been consistent (0.80 GO/AO at High-A in ’15) and the latter is a bit of a projection.   3) Dominic Smith – New York MetsAge as of 04/01/17 &nd[...]



The Screwball: The History of Baseball in a Post-Factual Age

2017-02-21T11:00:00+00:00

In the current age of alternative facts, baseball's past demands a fresh new look.In the olden days, posing for photographs wreaked havoc on players’ defensive abilities.In the wake of the U.S. presidential election, Americans awoke to a new and wonderful reality: Truth is only as real as imagination makes it. Today, inauguration crowds are larger than the combined populations of Beijing, Mumbai and Beulah, Ala. Opposition voters are totally illegal people. And the history of baseball is a lot less boring than it used to be. The Early Years (1840s-1870s) Shortly after the sport’s inception, Alexander “Ben” Cartwright left the Ponderosa Ranch and hastened by horseback to the Commonwealth of New York, where he gathered with bearded members of the esteemed Knickerbocker Club to codify the rules of a new pastime called “depot sphere.” Having agreed that “depot sphere” represented a rigid demonstration of “an overly baroque mouth language,” the members changed the name to “station orb” and commenced with the serious business of making stuff up. First, they outlawed the practice of “plugging,” by which “a gentleman of the defensive persuasion” could register an out by shooting the runner in the kneecap with a breech-loading carbine rifle. Next, they enlarged the playing surface and deemed it the Octagon of Salubriousness, reasoning that players would derive “healthful benefits such as increased lung capacity, which only Dr. Wonderful’s No. 1 Miracle Elixir otherwise provides.” Following the publication of The Sacred Writ of Ye Olde Station Orbe, reissued in 1848 as The Handy Pocketbook Guide to Good Ol’ Orby, the Knickerbocker Statutes continued to guide the sport through the economic downturn of 1850 as well as the economic sideturn of 1851. In 1852, members of three New York “orb troupes” gathered to agree on both a uniform set of rules and a set of ruled uniforms. Though displeased with uniforms that, according to a leading mid-century clairvoyant, “resemble the notebook paper of a 1950s schoolboy,” participants concurred–with a record 29 huzzahs–that the pitching distance “shall be established at a measure no greater than the width of 60 mutton-chop sideburns.” Five years later, following the establishment of a league whose players consumed postgame sarsaparilla from rudimentary “juice boxes,” delegates met at Madison Octagonal Garden to further standardize the rules and to establish methods by which players “might protect their nether regions from the neutering effects of a fast-moving orb.” After agreeing that the best way to avoid “the pudendal jounce” is to “stay home and read Balzac, ironically,” the delegates agreed on several new standards: nine players per team, nine innings per contest, 90 feet between bases, and a system that shall forever prevent the best players from going to a place like Kansas City. The game continued to grow in popularity, eclipsing the beloved mid-century pastime of staring at wallpaper, and in 1858 a pair of all-star t[...]



Mariners: Is James Paxton’s Breakout Finally Coming in 2017?

2017-02-21T08:16:00+00:00

James Paxton has carried a ton of hype with him during his time with the Mariners.  But, could 2017 finally be the year he finally shines? For years it seems that fantasy owners have waited for the long-predicted breakout season from James Paxton.  The enigmatic Mariners’ lefty has always possessed the arm talent to shine, […]

Mariners: Is James Paxton’s Breakout Finally Coming in 2017? - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Practical and useful fantasy baseball advice and analysis.

James Paxton has carried a ton of hype with him during his time with the Mariners.  But, could 2017 finally be the year he finally shines? For years it seems that fantasy owners have waited for the long-predicted breakout season from James Paxton.  The enigmatic Mariners’ lefty has always possessed the arm talent to shine, […]

Mariners: Is James Paxton’s Breakout Finally Coming in 2017? - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Practical and useful fantasy baseball advice and analysis.

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ESPN’s 2017 Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Run Away Fast As You Can

2017-02-21T08:01:00+00:00

Our 2017 Razzball Commenters Leagues are in full signup mode.  I even heard there were a few people from Anonymous that signed up!  They said, "To the world, I’m Anonymous, just another white man who sits in parking lots with binoculars watching women."  Man, that Anonymous guy is depressing!  As we always do about this time, I eviscerate the haters and complicators!  I eviscerate the not-knowers and the over-knowers!  I eviscerate the ESPN goers and the garden hoers!  I overuse a word like eviscerate that I just learned!  I am the Fantasy Master Lothario (don’t abbreviate it) and I’ve come for your children!  See, because blog writing doesn’t pay so well, I’ve taken a second job as a bus driver, so I’m literally here for your kids.  Like a baller!  A shot caller!  An "I’m outside of Hot Topic at the maller!"  My eviscerating (I’m conjugating my new word!) today comes at the expense of ESPN and their 2017 fantasy baseball rankings.  To the tune of Kanye’s Runaway:(image) Our 2017 Razzball Commenters Leagues are in full signup mode.  I even heard there were a few people from Anonymous that signed up!  They said, "To the world, I’m Anonymous, just another white man who sits in parking lots with binoculars watching women."  Man, that Anonymous guy is depressing!  As we always do about this time, I eviscerate the haters and complicators!  I eviscerate the not-knowers and the over-knowers!  I eviscerate the ESPN goers and the garden hoers!  I overuse a word like eviscerate that I just learned!  I am the Fantasy Master Lothario (don’t abbreviate it) and I’ve come for your children!  See, because blog writing doesn’t pay so well, I’ve taken a second job as a bus driver, so I’m literally here for your kids.  Like a baller!  A shot caller!  An "I’m outside of Hot Topic at the maller!"  My eviscerating (I’m conjugating my new word!) today comes at the expense of ESPN and their 2017 fantasy baseball rankings.  To the tune of Kanye’s Runaway:(image) (image)



The Sleeper and the Bust Episode: 429 – Brewer Breakdown with Derek Van Riper

2017-02-21T06:21:01+00:00

2/20/17 The latest episode of “The Sleeper and the Bust” is live! Follow us on Twitter @sporer @enosarris @jasoncollette @almelchiorBB @paulkastava GUEST: @derekvanriper  Leading Off: Question of the Day What are you expectations for Eric Thames? Strategy Section: Milwaukee Brewers Breakdown HITTING What does Jonathan Villar do for an encore? Is Orlando Arcia ready to be […]2/20/17 The latest episode of “The Sleeper and the Bust” is live! Follow us on Twitter @sporer @enosarris @jasoncollette @almelchiorBB @paulkastava GUEST: @derekvanriper  Leading Off: Question of the Day What are you expectations for Eric Thames? Strategy Section: Milwaukee Brewers Breakdown HITTING What does Jonathan Villar do for an encore? Is Orlando Arcia ready to be a mixed league asset? Can Keon Broxton make enough contact to be a stud? Same question for Domingo Santana… Jett Bandy or Andrew Susac? PITCHING How good is Junior Guerra? Does Zach Davies build on his solid ‘16? Any love for Wily Peralta after his finish? Mixed viability for any other SPs? Garza, Anderson, Nelson? Is Neftali Feliz a sneaky solid closer option late? IMPACT PROSPECTS Hitters: Lewis Brinson, Brett Phillips Pitchers: Josh Hader, Jorge Lopez Anyone else? Lucas Erceg — As usual, don’t hesitate to tweet us or comment with fantasy questions. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or via the feed. Please rate & review the show in iTunes letting us know what you think! Approximately 62 minutes of joyous analysis.[...]



The Sleeper and the Bust Episode: 429 – Brewer Breakdown with Derek Van Riper

2017-02-21T06:21:00+00:00

2/20/17 The latest episode of “The Sleeper and the Bust” is live! Follow us on Twitter @sporer @enosarris @jasoncollette @almelchiorBB @paulkastava GUEST: @derekvanriper  Leading Off: Question of the Day What are you expectations for Eric Thames? Strategy Section: Milwaukee Brewers Breakdown HITTING What does Jonathan Villar do for an encore? Is Orlando Arcia ready to be […]2/20/17 The latest episode of “The Sleeper and the Bust” is live! Follow us on Twitter @sporer @enosarris @jasoncollette @almelchiorBB @paulkastava GUEST: @derekvanriper  Leading Off: Question of the Day What are you expectations for Eric Thames? Strategy Section: Milwaukee Brewers Breakdown HITTING What does Jonathan Villar do for an encore? Is Orlando Arcia ready to be a mixed league asset? Can Keon Broxton make enough contact to be a stud? Same question for Domingo Santana… Jett Bandy or Andrew Susac? PITCHING How good is Junior Guerra? Does Zach Davies build on his solid ‘16? Any love for Wily Peralta after his finish? Mixed viability for any other SPs? Garza, Anderson, Nelson? Is Neftali Feliz a sneaky solid closer option late? IMPACT PROSPECTS Hitters: Lewis Brinson, Brett Phillips Pitchers: Josh Hader, Jorge Lopez Anyone else? Lucas Erceg — As usual, don’t hesitate to tweet us or comment with fantasy questions. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or via the feed. Please rate & review the show in iTunes letting us know what you think! Approximately 62 minutes of joyous analysis.[...]



East Notes: Bourn, Hellickson, Prado, Locke

2017-02-21T04:46:00+00:00

Veteran outfielder Michael Bourn seems fairly likely to make the Orioles’ Opening Day roster, Dan Connolly of BaltimoreBaseball.com writes. His chief attributes — speed and defense — are areas where the club is lacking, and Bourn could conceivably not only lead off against righties, but also spell Adam Jones in center from time to time. Of course,…Veteran outfielder Michael Bourn seems fairly likely to make the Orioles’ Opening Day roster, Dan Connolly of BaltimoreBaseball.com writes. His chief attributes — speed and defense — are areas where the club is lacking, and Bourn could conceivably not only lead off against righties, but also spell Adam Jones in center from time to time. Of course, his presence makes it less likely both that last year’s Rule 5 pick, Joey Rickard, makes the MLB roster and that the team is able to keep this year’s Rule 5ers (outfielders Aneury Tavarez and Anthony Santander). Here’s more from the game’s eastern divisions: The Phillies seem inclined to hand the ball to righty Jeremy Hellickson when they start play this season, as Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. “He’s probably got the best chance to be our Opening Day starter,” said manager Pete Mackanin. Hellickson, who took the organization’s $17.2MM qualifying offer rather than testing the open market, will be aiming to replicate a solid 2016 season and then test free agency without being saddled with draft compensation. (Under the new CBA, he won’t be eligible to receive a second qualifying offer.) Another player who steered clear of the open market, Marlins third baseman Martin Prado, discussed his decision to take an extension last fall. As Tim Healey of the Sun-Sentinel reports, Prado wasn’t sure he wanted to consider a new deal with just a few weeks left in the season. But the terms (three years and $40MM) were favorable enough for him to consider it, and he says he ended up preferring to stay in place after bouncing around a fair bit in prior seasons. As Healey writes, Prado had reasons both personal and professional for remaining in Miami. “I know I could probably get more money somewhere else if I go to a different team,” said Prado, “but I truly believe in this group of guys. They have fun. They play hard. I feel comfortable.” Meanwhile, Marlins lefty Jeff Locke is dealing with biceps tendinitis, as Healey further reports in the above-linked post. A few days’ rest is all that’s required at present, with Locke calling the brief shut-down a matter of taking a precaution early in camp. The southpaw struggled to a cumulative 4.90 ERA over the past two seasons, allowing the Marlins to grab him for $3.025MM on a one-year deal. While it seems reasonable to hope that the ailment won’t limit Locke, he already faces something of an uphill battle to win a rotation spot; Jason Martinez of MLBTR and RosterResource.com currently projects Locke to end up i[...]



Camp Battles: Kansas City Royals

2017-02-21T02:21:00+00:00

The Royals disappointed in 2016, and entered the winter with questions about how they’d manage payroll with several key players poised for free agency. It’s a bit of tightrope walk, but the organization continued to put resources into the MLB roster. Two positions, in particular, are ripe for competition: one which features several holdovers, and…The Royals disappointed in 2016, and entered the winter with questions about how they’d manage payroll with several key players poised for free agency. It’s a bit of tightrope walk, but the organization continued to put resources into the MLB roster. Two positions, in particular, are ripe for competition: one which features several holdovers, and the other of which may be led by two new additions. Here are the key camp battles for the Royals, who are the third entrant in MLBTR’s new Camp Battles series. SECOND BASEWhit MerrifieldAge: 28 Bats: R Contract Status: Pre-Arbitration; projected to become a free agent after ’22 season Options remaining: 2 Christian ColonAge: 27 Bats: R Contract Status: Pre-Arbitration; projected to become a free agent after ’20 season Options remaining: Out of options Cheslor CuthbertAge: 24 Bats: R Contract Status: Pre-Arbitration; projected to become a free agent after ’21 season Options remaining: Out of options Raul MondesiAge: 21 Bats: S Contract Status: Pre-Arbitration; projected to become a free agent after ’22 season Options remaining: 2 This is hardly an established group, but Kansas City elected to forego bringing in veteran competition — despite a market low on demand at the position — even as the organization signed a variety of hurlers to bolster its staff. It’s certainly a calculated gamble, but evidently the Royals front office remains confident that it can achieve value with the in-house options. Merrifield appears to have the edge entering camp. He excelled in the field and on the bases in his debut last year, while hitting just enough (.283/.323/.392) to compile 1.7 fWAR in a half-season’s worth of games. If there’s another player who can stake a claim to the bulk of the time in camp, it may be Cuthbert. Despite his lack of time at second as a professional, the club has worked with him on learning the position, as Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star recently wrote. Cuthbert’s chief advantage comes in the power department; while his overall productivity largely mirrored that of Merrifield, he swatted a dozen long balls in 510 MLB plate appearances last year and added seven more at Triple-A. The two other possibilities here are both limited in their offensive outlook. Colon struggled badly at the plate last year, slashing just .231/.294/.293, and may be best suited to utility work. Mondesi, who’s still just 21, was similarly unimpressive (.185/.231/.281) in similarly limited major league action, though he was much better in the minors (.268/.322/.469) and comes with a solid prospect pedigree. H[...]



Yankees To Sign Jon Niese

2017-02-21T01:55:00+00:00

7:55pm: Niese can earn a $1.25MM base salary if he cracks the roster, per Ken Davidoff of the New York Post (Twitter links). The deal also includes $750K in potential incentives, with separate packages that would allow him to earn to that amount whether he’s functioning as a starter or reliever. Manager Joe Girardi says…7:55pm: Niese can earn a $1.25MM base salary if he cracks the roster, per Ken Davidoff of the New York Post (Twitter links). The deal also includes $750K in potential incentives, with separate packages that would allow him to earn to that amount whether he’s functioning as a starter or reliever. Manager Joe Girardi says that Niese will enter camp battling for a pen role, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch notes on Twitter. 5:26pm: The Yankees are poised to sign left-hander Jon Niese to a minor league contract, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (Twitter link).  The deal will become official when Niese passes a physical.  Niese is represented by O’Connell Sports Management. A fixture in the Mets rotation from 2010-15, Niese is coming off a rough, injury-plagued 2016 campaign.  The Mets dealt Niese to the Pirates in a swap for Neil Walker last winter and the southpaw didn’t see much success in the black-and-gold, posting a 4.91 ERA, 6.5 K/9 and 1.87 K/BB rate over 110 innings as a Pirate.  Niese was then dealt back to the Mets in August in exchange for Antonio Bastardo and pitched only 11 innings in his second stint with the Amazins before undergoing season-ending arthroscopic surgery on a torn left meniscus.  The Mets declined Niese’s $10MM option for 2017, instead paying him a $500K buyout. [Updated Yankees roster at Roster Resource] Thirteen teams attended a workout Niese held earlier this month to demonstrate his health in the wake of his knee injury, and the Marlins also expressed some interest in Niese earlier this winter.  Given his track record as a fairly steady and durable starter (3.86 ERA and 171 innings per year from 2010-15), it isn’t surprising that Niese drew a lot of looks as a potential bounce-back candidate. Sherman reports that the Yankees see Niese as a candidate to both start or come out of the bullpen, and the 30-year-old could fill a need for New York in either department.  Luis Severino, Chad Green, Luis Cessa, Bryan Mitchell and Adam Warren will be in competition for the fourth and fifth spots in the Yankees’ rotation this season, and Niese adds a more experienced element to that battle. If used as a reliever, Niese would join Tommy Layne as the top left-handed options out of the pen, with closer Aroldis Chapman obviously being saved for end-game scenarios.  The Yankees were linked to such notable lefty relievers as Boone Logan and Jerry Blevins earlier this offseason, though Niese comes at a lower price tag — both Logan and Blevins will earn $6.5MM in guaranteed money in 2017, with the potential for more if the Indians and Mets respectivel[...]



Orioles Re-Sign Michael Bourn

2017-02-21T00:24:00+00:00

The Orioles have reached agreement on a contract with outfielder Michael Bourn, as Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com first reported (via Twitter). It’s a minor-league pact that comes with a camp invite, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets. Bourn would earn $2MM if he cracks the MLB roster, per Heyman. Bourn, who is a client of Lagardere Sports,…The Orioles have reached agreement on a contract with outfielder Michael Bourn, as Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com first reported (via Twitter). It’s a minor-league pact that comes with a camp invite, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets. Bourn would earn $2MM if he cracks the MLB roster, per Heyman. Bourn, who is a client of Lagardere Sports, will have a chance to opt out of his deal if he isn’t added to the 40-man late in camp, though there’s a bit of discord on the date. ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter) has it as March 25th, while Kubatko tweets that it’s actually the 27th. Regardless, the veteran will be able to seek greener pastures if the team decides not to commit to him. At 34 years of age, Bourn is no longer the player he once was when starring in center field for the Braves. But he showed that there’s still some gas left in the tank during his stint late last year with the O’s, earning plaudits from the Baltimore front office and field staff. Over 55 plate appearances in Baltimore, Bourn slashed .283/.358/.435 and drew six walks against nine strikeouts. Those numbers compared favorably to his best full seasons in the majors, when he was rarely much more than a league-average hitter but nonetheless added significant value with the glove and on the bases. Of course, that’s rather a small sample, and the broader recent picture isn’t as favorable. Bourn’s offensive production has lagged since he signed on with the Indians in advance of the 2013 season, and he has struggled in particular over the last two seasons. Even if it would be optimistic to expect Bourn’s late-2016 work at the plate to carry over, there’s reason to hope he can make a strong contribution. The veteran still rates well on the bases, and rates as at least a roughly average fielder. While the O’s already have two lefty platoon outfielders penciled into their roster, Seth Smith and Hyun Soo Kim, neither is capable of playing center. Bourn figures to compete with Joey Rickard and minor-league signees Craig Gentry and Logan Schafer for a bench spot in camp.[...]



MLBTR Poll: Pending Free Agent Extension Candidates

2017-02-20T23:54:00+00:00

It’s fairly typical to see several free-agents-to-be strike new contracts with their present organizations during Spring Training (or shortly thereafter). Last year, for instance, we saw Adrian Beltre (Rangers), Stephen Strasburg (Nationals), and Francisco Cervelli (Pirates) land long-term deals at the start of the 2016 season, reflecting negotiations that took place over the winter and,…It’s fairly typical to see several free-agents-to-be strike new contracts with their present organizations during Spring Training (or shortly thereafter). Last year, for instance, we saw Adrian Beltre (Rangers), Stephen Strasburg (Nationals), and Francisco Cervelli (Pirates) land long-term deals at the start of the 2016 season, reflecting negotiations that took place over the winter and, perhaps especially, during camp. In some cases, the dealmaking can occur quite publicly, even if talks don’t result in an agreement. There were high-profile discussions last winter involving the Blue Jays and veteran sluggers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. And who can forget the Jon Lester-Red Sox saga of 2014? I’ve compiled a list of plausible extension candidates for consideration here. There are probably a few others, too, but this group seems to represent the bulk of the possibilities for deals keeping players off of the open market. Veteran Catchers Jonathan Lucroy of the Rangers and Yadier Molina of the Cardinals are in very different situations in their respective organizations. Lucroy came to Texas via trade last summer, while Molina is a St. Louis legend. But both appear to be solid extension candidates. The Rangers may look to find some added value in Lucroy, who has been one of the game’s best receivers and doesn’t have a clear replacement behind him. Meanwhile, the Cards will no doubt hope Carson Kelly proves ready to take Molina’s place, but seemingly prefer to keep the veteran around for at least another few years to pass the baton. [Link for app users] Take Our PollCore Royals Position Players First baseman Eric Hosmer, third baseman Mike Moustakas, and center fielder Lorenzo Cain were all key parts of the Royals’ Cinderella story, and all three are looking to bounce back from disappointing 2016 seasons (due to a combination of injury and performance downturns). While some had expected Kansas City to engineer a ramp-down of its veteran obligations — the team did trade away Jarrod Dyson and Wade Davis — the organization already locked up Danny Duffy and seems intent on at least exploring deals with this trio. The focus thus far appears to have been on Hosmer, with the similarly youthful Moustakas perhaps also representing a more obvious target, though it’s possible to imagine any (albeit probably not all) signing on to stay. [Link for app users] Take Our PollStar Starters There could be quite a lot of money spent on starting pitching next winter, at leas[...]



The Wire Troll: Brandon Dubinsky Tearing it Up in February

2017-02-20T21:37:00+00:00

The former second round pick is currently playing outstanding hockey. In Calgary, Dvorak scored twice as part of a three-point game, going +3 in a shutout victory over the Flames. Then, on Thursday against the Los Angeles Kings, he picked up an assist, and once again was a +3 in another win. In the month of February, Dvorak has scored eight points (five goals, three assists) while going +5. He's averaging about 16 minutes, but recently his ice time has increased, since he is being used on the power play more often. This is just an article tease. Visit RotoRob.com for full articles, plus plenty of daily fantastic Fantasy sports content! The former second round pick is currently playing outstanding hockey. In Calgary, Dvorak scored twice as part of a three-point game, going +3 in a shutout victory over the Flames. Then, on Thursday against the Los Angeles Kings, he picked up an assist, and once again was a +3 in another win. In the month of February, Dvorak has scored eight points (five goals, three assists) while going +5. He's averaging about 16 minutes, but recently his ice time has increased, since he is being used on the power play more often. This is just an article tease. Visit RotoRob.com for full articles, plus plenty of daily fantastic Fantasy sports content! [...]



Central Notes: Thames, Turner, Tigers

2017-02-20T21:35:00+00:00

After three years in Korea, Eric Thames is back in the big leagues with the Brewers on a three-year, $16MM deal the team hopes will make him a better deal than former first baseman Chris Carter, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes. Carter, of course, hit 41 home runs last season but struck…After three years in Korea, Eric Thames is back in the big leagues with the Brewers on a three-year, $16MM deal the team hopes will make him a better deal than former first baseman Chris Carter, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes. Carter, of course, hit 41 home runs last season but struck out 206 times and contributed little defensively, making him a potentially poor value if the Brewers had taken him to arbitration. Thames hit 124 home runs in 1,634 plate appearances in his three seasons overseas. “We expect a productive Major League player,” says Brewers GM David Stearns. “That can take shape in a variety of ways. With a signing like this, there’s a fairly wide variance of potential outcomes, and we think there’s a lot of upside there.” Stearns notes that one difference between the Majors and the KBO is that big-league pitchers are likely to throw Thames more fastballs than KBO pitchers did. Here’s more from the Central divisions. Catcher Stuart Turner faces an uphill battle as he attempts to make the Reds’ roster, writes MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon.  Stuart, who the Reds selected from the Twins in the last Rule 5 Draft, at least has the advantage of already being on the Reds’ 40-man roster, as Sheldon points out. But with two big-league catchers in front of him in Devin Mesoraco and Tucker Barnhart, Stuart will have to make the team as a third catcher (unless, of course, someone gets hurt, a possibility that’s perhaps worth keeping in mind given Mesoraco’s injury history). Turner also spent the last two seasons in Double-A, so the big leagues would be a big jump for him. “We get a six-to-seven week look at him to see if he’s ready to handle what would be a year of big league service time,” says Reds manager Bryan Price. “He’d have to play. I just don’t think we’re in a place to carry a player just to keep him.” The possibility of rebuilding, or something like it, lingers in the minds of some veteran Tigers players, MLive.com’s Evan Woodbery writes. When the offseason began, the possibility that the team would trade veterans was seemingly on the table. The team kept its core of older players, but those older stars are now aware that they or their teammates could be headed elsewhere if the team doesn’t succeed. “We’ve got a chance to play one more year together,” says Miguel Cabrera. “We know we didn’t go to the playoffs the last two years, but I think if we stay together, if we [...]



February Rankings – Third Basemen

2017-02-20T21:20:00+00:00

We’re going position by position this week and next with our initial roll out of rankings. We will update these in March based on Spring Training activity and injuries. We’re using Yahoo! eligibility requirements which is 5 starts or 10 appearances. These rankings assume the standard 5×5 categories and a re-draft league. If we forgot someone, […]We’re going position by position this week and next with our initial roll out of rankings. We will update these in March based on Spring Training activity and injuries. We’re using Yahoo! eligibility requirements which is 5 starts or 10 appearances. These rankings assume the standard 5×5 categories and a re-draft league. If we forgot someone, please let us know in the comments and we’ll make sure he’s added for the updates. If you have questions for a specific ranker on something he did, let us know in the comments. We can also be reached via Twitter: Paul Sporer Jeff Zimmerman Mike Podhorzer Brad Johnson Justin Mason Al Melchior There will be differences, sharp differences, within the rankings. The rankers have different philosophies when it comes to ranking, some of which you’re no doubt familiar with through previous iterations. Of course the idea that we’d all think the same would be silly because then what would be the point of including multiple rankers?! Think someone should be higher or lower? Make a case. Let us know why you think that. The chart is sortable. If a ranker didn’t rank someone that the others did, he was given that ranker’s last rank +1. Key: AVG– just the average of the seven ranking sets AVG– the average minus the high and low rankings SPLIT– the difference between the high and low rankings Previous Editions: OF SP 1B SS February 3B Rankings # NAME Paul S Brad Mike Jeff Al Justin AVG Adj. AVG Split 1 Nolan Arenado 1 2 1 1 1 2 1.3 1.3 1 2 Kris Bryant 2 1 2 3 2 1 1.8 1.8 2 3 Manny Machado 3 3 3 2 4 3 3 3 2 4 Josh Donaldson 4 4 4 4 3 4 3.8 4 1 5 Jonathan Villar 5 5 5 6 5 5 5.2 5 1 6 Adrian Beltre 9 8 7 7 7 6 7.3 7.3 3 7 Kyle Seager 7 6 8 8 8 8 7.5 7.8 2 8 Matt Carpenter 6 7 11 18 6 9 9.5 8.3 12 9 Todd Frazier 15 15 6 5 10 7 9.7 9.5 10 10 Evan Longoria 10 9 9 12 13 11 10.7 10.5 4 11 Anthony Rendon 8 11 15 11 15 12 12 12.3 7 12 Jose Ramirez 12 16 12 13 9 13 12.5 12.5 7 13 Alex Bregman 11 12 13 14 12 14 12.7 12.8 3 14 Miguel Sano 17 13 16 10 14 10 13.3 13.3 7 15 Justin Turner 16 10 10 19 11 23 14.8 14 13 16 Jake Lamb 13 14 14 20 17 16 15.7 15.3 7 17 Maikel Franco 14 21 18 9 19 15 16 16.5 12 18 Mike Moustakas 18 24 17 15 20 17 18.5 18 9 19 Eduardo Nunez 20 23 21 16 16 18 19 18.8 7 20 Ryon Healy 19 20 20 21 26 21 21.2 20.5 7 21 Nick Castellanos 21 26 19 28 23 20 22.8 22.5 9 22 Jung Ho Kang 24 17 26 17 18 38 23.3 21.3 21 23 Eugenio Suarez 23 [...]



Fantasy Baseball 2017 Team Previews

2017-02-20T21:16:00+00:00

When you prepare for your fantasy baseball draft, you want to know which players you should or should not draft from each team. These fantasy baseball previews were written throughout January and February. So, please be wary if there is a player mentioned and he is no longer on that team or if a player […]

Fantasy Baseball 2017 Team Previews - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Practical and useful fantasy baseball advice and analysis.

When you prepare for your fantasy baseball draft, you want to know which players you should or should not draft from each team. These fantasy baseball previews were written throughout January and February. So, please be wary if there is a player mentioned and he is no longer on that team or if a player […]

Fantasy Baseball 2017 Team Previews - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Practical and useful fantasy baseball advice and analysis.

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West Notes: Rangers, Rockies, Holland, Jenkins

2017-02-20T20:31:00+00:00

The Rangers’ open tryouts today have unearthed a number of interesting names, as Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes (Twitter links). Among those trying out today are three hurlers who’ve pitched in the Rangers’ system — Kameron Loe (who was a starter and reliever for the Rangers from 2004-2008 and pitched last season with…The Rangers’ open tryouts today have unearthed a number of interesting names, as Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes (Twitter links). Among those trying out today are three hurlers who’ve pitched in the Rangers’ system — Kameron Loe (who was a starter and reliever for the Rangers from 2004-2008 and pitched last season with the White Sox’ Triple-A affiliate), Mark Hamburger (who made five relief appearances with the 2011 Rangers) and Blake Beavan (who was the Rangers’ first-round pick in 2007 and who pitched parts of four seasons in the big leagues with the Mariners). Also appearing today are Justin Masterson (who recently pitched a showcase after appearing the Pirates’ minor-league system last year), Kyle Drabek (the former Blue Jays top prospect, who pitched briefly for the Diamondbacks in 2016) and Jose Veras (the veteran bullpen righty, who pitched last year in independent ball). Here’s more from the West divisions. The Rockies’ signing of Ian Desmond tops Dave Cameron of FanGraphs’ list of the offseason’s worst transactions. This offseason’s market featured plenty of first base options, and yet the Rockies paid heavily for Desmond, who wasn’t previously a first baseman, to play first for them. The cost of signing Desmond was also more than his $70MM price tag, too, since the Rockies also gave up the 11th pick in the June draft. “I don’t know anyone who understands this move,” Cameron writes. Pitching in Coors Field will be a tough assignment for new Rockies reliever Greg Holland, but the mentally tough Holland is up to the challenge, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale writes. Holland says one factor for him was the way the Rockies have recently added to their existing core (presumably with offseason pieces like Desmond and Mike Dunn, who both signed before he did). “I did my homework before I signed here. I know what they’ve got. I felt the pieces they added, the holes they filled to contend, that was the deciding factor for me. I wasn’t going to come to a place where I couldn’t win,” Holland says. “It’s just like we did there for three or four years in Kansas City. We grew together, learned together, and went from competing to winning.” Holland, of course, missed the 2016 season after having Tommy John surgery but still managed to land $7MM[...]



Minor MLB Transactions: 2/20/17

2017-02-20T19:47:00+00:00

Here are today’s minor transactions throughout the game: The Tigers have announced that they’ve signed infielder Danny Muno and corner outfielder Matt Murton to minor-league contracts. The 28-year-old Muno appeared in the high minors with three organizations in 2016, posting a line of .223/.328/.307 while mostly playing second and third. He does, however, have a career .385 minor-league…

Here are today’s minor transactions throughout the game:

  • The Tigers have announced that they’ve signed infielder Danny Muno and corner outfielder Matt Murton to minor-league contracts. The 28-year-old Muno appeared in the high minors with three organizations in 2016, posting a line of .223/.328/.307 while mostly playing second and third. He does, however, have a career .385 minor-league OBP and a bit of big-league experience, having collected 32 plate appearances with the 2015 Mets. Murton’s name will surely be a blast from the past for some readers — the 35-year-old was once a regular with the Cubs but hasn’t appeared in the big leagues since 2009. He played with the Hanshin Tigers in Japan from 2009 through 2015 (so he has plenty of experience in a Tigers uniform, just not a Detroit Tigers uniform), and he batted .314/.349/.398 in 255 plate appearances with the Cubs’ Triple-A team in Iowa last year.
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Beware of Barns, Bone Spurs and Loose Bodies

2017-02-20T19:00:00+00:00

(image) Only week 1 into Spring Training and we’re already seeing some draft altering injuries. Some predictable (Homer Bailey,) some crushing (Alex Reyes,) and some hilarious (Brian Flynn--who falls through barns in 2017?!) Expect to see this article appearing more regularly now that we’re back in baseball season. Here are some players who are ruining people’s fantasy lives already before the calendar even turns to March.  (image) (image) Only week 1 into Spring Training and we’re already seeing some draft altering injuries. Some predictable (Homer Bailey,) some crushing (Alex Reyes,) and some hilarious (Brian Flynn--who falls through barns in 2017?!) Expect to see this article appearing more regularly now that we’re back in baseball season. Here are some players who are ruining people’s fantasy lives already before the calendar even turns to March.  (image) (image)



Diamondbacks Notes: Miller, Sawdaye, Segura

2017-02-20T18:37:00+00:00

Former Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart recently expressed regret for trading a package headlined by Dansby Swanson for Shelby Miller. But the Snakes control Miller for three more years, and Miller is hoping to redeem himself this season, as FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes. Miller says he struggled with the pressure of being the marquee player in a…Former Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart recently expressed regret for trading a package headlined by Dansby Swanson for Shelby Miller. But the Snakes control Miller for three more years, and Miller is hoping to redeem himself this season, as FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes. Miller says he struggled with the pressure of being the marquee player in a high-profile trade. “I wasn’t using my stuff like I did in the years before. I wasn’t as confident in my pitches as I should have been. I really didn’t throw any sinkers. My cutter wasn’t good,” he says. Now, he says, he’s trying to “almost go back to being a Little Leaguer and have fun.” Here’s more out of Arizona. The Diamondbacks’ new braintrust contains a number of former employees of the Red Sox organization, including GM Mike Hazen, manager Torey Lovullo, and assistant GM Amiel Sawdaye and Jared Porter. The new D’backs front office wants to emulate the Red Sox’ in some respects, Sawdaye tells David Laurila of FanGraphs. “We’re trying to build a culture similar to the one we were used to in Boston,” Sawdaye says. “We want people to want to come to work. We want them to be open with each other and communicate well. A lot of good decisions are made that way — in conjunction with other’s opinions. … We’ve worked on implementing that. It’s something that was maybe not here in the past, or at least it was a little different.” In the same interview, Sawdaye also describes the way the front office has reshaped the Diamondbacks’ analytics and scouting departments. Interestingly, Sawdaye notes that one factor in the Diamondbacks’ big November trade involving Jean Segura and Taijuan Walker this offseason was that the D’backs’ front office was new and therefore didn’t directly experience Segura’s success last season. “[I]n some ways, not being here last year was probably a little helpful,” says Sawdaye. “[H]aving not been here to see how good Segura was, day in and day out, took any bias out. We were able to be more objective with our assessment.” [...]