New York Mets

Scouting Report: The NL East is oozing with young shortstop talent

The NL East is loaded with young shortstop talent. While they have been acquired through different means, these four young prospects are sure to excite fans up and down the east coast for the next decade and a half. Sorry Marlins fans, this one isn’t for you.

  1. Trea Turner, Washington Nationals

Acquired in a 3-team deal in December of 2014:

Nationals Acquired: SS Trea Turner, RHP Joe Ross (from SD)

Padres Acquired: OF Wil Myers, RHP Gerardo Reyes, RHP Jose Castillo and C Ryan Hannigan (From TB)

Rays Acquired: C Rene Rivera, RHP Brunch Smith, 1B Jake Bauers (From SD) and OF Steven Souza and LHP Travis Ott (from WAS)

2016 Review:

Trea Turner, despite Dusty Baker’s best efforts to keep him in the Minors for all of eternity, was an absolute stud in his rookie campaign. Turner burst on to the scene to the tune of a .342 AVG., 13 HR’s, 40 RBI’s and 33 SB’s in only 73 games.

Turner finished second in NL Rookie of the Year voting while playing out of position. While Turner appeared in 45 games in CF and 42 at 2B last year, he will take over at SS this season. The fact that Turner was playing a new position (CF) and still producing offensively tells me that the kid is mentally tough.

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Trea Turner by Keith Allison

In 2015, MLB Pipeline rated Turner as a 55 Arm and 50 Fielding, which equates to him being an average to above average MLB shortstop. Combine this with his unique offensive skill set, Turner is sure to be an All Star caliber player in the nation’s capital.

2017 Preview:

Turner is primed to lead the Nationals from the top of the line-up as they look to defend their NL East crown. With hitters like Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy following Turner in the line-up, he should be in the mix to lead the National League in runs scored this season. I would not be surprised to see him finish in the top-10 of the NL MVP voting this year, the kid is that good.

Comparison:

Turner’s skill set makes me think of Jose Reyes in his prime, with the potential to be a Jimmy Rollins type of game changer. (By the way, check out J-Roll’s numbers, he is a borderline HoF candidate. Seriously.)

2. Dansby Swanson, Atlanta Braves

Acquired via trade from the Arizona Diamondbacks:

Braves Acquired: Swanson, RHP Aaron Blair and Ender Inciarte

Diamondbacks Acquired: RHP Shelby Miller and Gabe Speier

2016 Review:

Swanson made his MLB debut last season and ended up starting 36 games. In that time, Swanson hit .302 with 3 HR’s and 20 runs scored.

In 2016, MLB Pipeline rated Swanson with:

        Hit: 60         Power: 45          Run: 60         Arm: 55         Field: 55          Overall: 65

While the pressure of being a #1  pick will always follow Swanson, he handled the pressure well last season. Swanson displays a level of grit and leadership that is rare at such a young age.

2017 Preview:

As the Braves open SunTrust Park this year, Swanson is destined to be the face of the franchise. The Braves won’t compete this year, but with their #1 ranked Minor League system, they are not that far away. Swanson will flash a stellar glove, provide some pop and keep the southern belles wanting to run their hands through his serious flow. This guy plays hard and will lead the Braves in their rebuilding process.

Comparison:

Swanson reminds me of a more talented Brandon Crawford, but not quite a Derek Jeter. I think that the fans in Atlanta (East Cobb, whatever) would love if Swanson could be Robin Yount. 

3. Amed Rosario, New York Mets

Acquired by the Mets via International Free Agency in July of 2012 (1.75 million dollar signing bonus).

2016 Review:

Rosario continued to dazzle in his fourth season of professional baseball. Rosario, as he has throughout his career, competed against players who were much older than him in A+ and AA, but he excelled. Rosario hit a combined .324 AVG with 5 HR’s and 19 SB’s.

Rosario was recently ranked by MLB Pipeline as:

Hit: 50         Power: 45          Run: 60         Arm: 65         Field: 55          Overall: 60

While he is projected to have a better arm than Swanson, he is not seen to be as good of a hitter. However, Rosario has continued to hit at a higher clip as he climbs through the Minor Leagues (.342 AVG in AA in ’16) and is making noise in Mets camp this spring.

2017 Preview:

Despite hitting well in Spring Training (currently 5-for-16) Rosario is destined to head to the Minors to start 2017. He is only 21 years old. But with the long history of injuries to nearly all of the players that Mets have penciled in for their infield, Rosario could find his way to Flushing sooner rather than later.

Comparison: Rosario reminds me a bit of a young Edgar Renteria or Starlin Castro. I think that is his basement, with the potential to be a Barry Larkin type of player.

4. J.P. Crawford, Philadephia Phillies

Acquired via the 2013 MLB Draft, 1st Round, 16th Pick.

2016 Review:

Crawford is listed by MLB Pipeline and a number of other scouting services to be the Phillies top prospect, but he struggled in 2016.In his age 21 season, Crawford scuffled to hit .250 between AA and AAA while socking just 7 HR’s. Because Crawford fell short of expectations, he never made it to the Majors last season as many had expected.

Crawford was recently ranked by MLB Pipeline as:

Hit: 60         Power: 40          Run: 50         Arm: 60         Field: 65          Overall: 60

If all else fails, Crawford should provide gold glove defense up the middle for the Phillies sometime this summer. Not bad.

2017 Preview:

While it was disappointing to see Crawford flatline in 2016, the Phils are hoping it was a temporary setback. Crawford is destined to be in the Majors by mid-June and should play everyday for a team that is a few years away from competing. Crawford will dazzle Phillies fans with his glove, but must advance with the stick this season. Crawford is hitting under .200 in Spring Training, but this should not delay his promotion. Crawford has more pressure on him in 2017 than any of the aforementioned shortstops. 

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J.P. Crawford by Ian D’Andrea

Comparison: This one is tough after such a letdown of a year. Best case, maybe Omar Vizquel? A common comparison could be someone like Adrelton Simmons. I see more of a Shawon Dunston or Royce Clayton type of career for Crawford.

Conclusion: 

As a fan of the NL East, I am drooling just thinking about not one, but two of these guys on the same field on a regular basis. While all have serious talent, Turner is the most proven, Swanson the best all-around, Rosario with the highest ceiling and Crawford seems (at this point) to be a step behind. It sure will be fun to watch.

Comment below if you have any thoughts or opinions to share.

**Rosario photo credit to slgckgc of Flickr **

Projected Opening Day Roster: The New York Mets are healthy, now face roster crunch

The New York Mets have a problem. All of their players are healthy.

Just kidding, well, kind of. The team is going to have a tough time telling players that they are going to be in unfamiliar roles, or heading back to AAA Las Vegas. Here is a breakdown of the Mets and what their Opening Day roster should look like under Terry Collins, who is entering his 7th season at the helm of the club.

Outfield

The Mets acquired Jay Bruce from the Reds last season, resigned Yoenis Cespedes in the offseason and still have Curtis Granderson under contract for 2017. Former first round picks Michael Conforto (who turns 24 next week) and Brandon Nimmo (who will be 24 by opening day) are of the age where it is time for them to either get regular playing time or be used in a trade.

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Michael Conforto should be on the Opening Day roster, even if he does not receive regular playing time. (Photo by slgckgc on flickr)

Oh, and there is Juan Lagares. That gold glove winning outfielder who has battled injuries, consistency at the plate and is signed through the next three seasons. Lagares is set to make $9,000,000 in 2019.

Nimmo should head back to Las Vegas at the end of camp, I’m not sure he will ever turn into a starting Major League outfielder. Conforto is the real deal, and needs to be with the Mets in Queens, even if he is only getting a couple of starts per week. The Mets need to know if he can handle regular playing time, as Bruce and Granderson will likely be wearing a different uniform in 2018.

Who should head north? Cespedes, Granderson, Bruce, Lagares and Conforto (5)

Infield

Three-quarters of the Mets infield struggled to stay healthy last season, with Asdrubal Cabrera being the only one who was able to stay healthy.

David Wright, Lucas Duda and Neil Walker all struggled with injury issues last season, allowing guys like Wilmer Flores and Jose Reyes to receive regular playing time.

Former first round pick Gavin Cecchini will be entering his age 23 season, but struggled defensively at shortstop over the last few years.

Guys like Cecchini and T.J. Rivera best serve this organization as role players when there is an injury to the starters. They should begin the year in Vegas, get regular playing time and be ready to go in the event there is an injury. The versatility of Reyes and Flores is also a major plus for the organization.

Who should head north? Duda, Walker, Cabrera, Wright, Flores and Reyes (6)

Catcher

Travis d’Arnaud gave Kevin Plawecki every opportunity to take his job, and he couldn’t do it. Journeyman Rene Rivera seized catching responsibilities for the better half of 2017 and the position is certainly influx for this contender.

Prospect Tomas Nido has a big year ahead of him. If d’Arnaud continues to struggle or can’t stay healthy, the organization may look to Nido (who should get his first look at AA pitching in April) to be the catcher of the future.

Who should head north? d’Arnaud and Rivera (2)

Starting Rotation

Stud after stud, injury after injury. Noah Syndergaard was the only starter that was able to stay healthy through all (most) of 2016 and headlines a staff that claims it is ready to go.

Jacob deGrom has recovered from offseason surgery, as well as Steven Matz and Matt Harvey. Zack Wheeler, who has not pitched in a Major League game since 2014 is reported to be progressing well. Throw in Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman and the Mets have plenty of options.

Who should head north? Syndergaard, deGrom, Harvey, Matz and Gsellman (5)

Bullpen

Much to the surprise of Mets fans, the front office opened their wallet this offseason not only to resign Cespedes but also to ensure that the bullpen remains a strength for the team. Addison Reed was retained and Jerry Blevins was resigned to bolster the back end that will likely be without closer Jeurys Familia for some portion of time to start the season.

Along with the aforementioned triumvirate, the Mets have Hansel Robles, Josh Edgin, Fernando Salas, Josh Smoker, Erik Goeddel and Sean Gilmartin to try and round out the bullpen.

Who should head north? Familia, Reed, Blevins, Wheeler, Robles, Edgin and Salas (7)

The toughest news to break will be to let Wheeler know that he is going to the bullpen. The Mets need to commit to this idea and stick with it throughout the 2017 season in order to get Wheeler back into game shape and competing at the highest level. The Mets are best served with either Gsellman or Lugo at the back end of the rotation (in my opinion, Gsellman) and sending Lugo back to the Minors to stay stretched out until an injury occurs with one of the starting pitchers.

While the ever-smiling Nimmo will not be happy with his demotion, he is an injury away from being called upon to join the Mets.

This organization has depth, experience and a nasty rotation that will compete with the Nationals all year in the NL East.

Projected Starting Line-Up

  1. Granderson (CF)
  2. Cabrera (SS)
  3. Cespedes (LF)
  4. Bruce (RF)
  5. Walker (2b)
  6. Duda (1b)
  7. Wright (3b)
  8. d’Arnaud (c)

Bench

  1. Rivera (c)
  2. Reyes (2b/SS/3b)
  3. Flores (UTL)
  4. Conforto (OF)
  5. Lagares (OF)

Projected Rotation

  1. Syndergaard (RHP)
  2. deGrom (RHP)
  3. Harvey (RHP)
  4. Matz (LHP)
  5. Gsellman (RHP)

Projected Bullpen

  1. Familia (RHP)
  2. Reed (RHP)
  3. Blevins (LHP)
  4. Wheeler (RHP)
  5. Robles (RHP)
  6. Salas (RHP)
  7. Edgin (LHP)

Phillies Farm Report: Crawford and Williams have a lot to prove before making the jump

Earlier today, MLB.com announced their top-30 prospect list for the Philadelphia Phillies. Ben Harris (@Ben27Harris) of Crashburn Alley published a comprehensive review of the MLB.com’s evaluation and offered his own feelings on the prospects that were discussed. Check out the article, it is really well done.

Taking a look at a couple of the top prospects in the organization, I am less than impressed. As Harris noted, J.P. Crawford (#1) and Nick Williams (#3) seem to have flat lined in 2016.

After hitting .288 between A+ and AA in 2015, Crawford scuffled to the tune of a .250 AVG. between AA and AAA. Crawford’s OBP also fell from .380 to .349. To be fair, Crawford was only 21 years old last season and competing against players that are much older than him at both levels.

While a dip in numbers would be expected, especially for a young player at the upper levels of the minor leagues, it is a bit troubling. When comparing Crawford’s numbers to those of Mets top-prospect Amed Rosario, they are rather pedestrian. Rosario was hitting .309 before his promotion from A-ball to AA, where he then went on to hit .341 in 214 AB’s. Rosario was only 20 years old last season.

Trea Turner, another superstar shortstop prospect from the NL East (article coming on that tomorrow), also adjusted to AAA ball better than Crawford. Turner was 22 years old when he made the jump to AAA in 2015, and he continued to hit for a high AVG (.314) and hit .302 for a few months at AAA in 2016.

As for Nick Williams, his first season at AAA was pretty average. Hitting .258 with 13 HR’s and a weak .287 OBP. Williams also struck out 136 times in 497 AB’s. Throughout his career in the minors, Williams has struck out in more than 25% of his AB’s.

While Mickey Moniak, Sixto Sanchez (great baseball name) and Daniel Brito all made the list and seem to have plenty of upside and momentum, they are years away.

Crawford and Williams will need to improve in 2017 to legitimize their place at the top of the Phillies prospect rankings and ultimately earn their place on the Major League roster. This is a year of transition for the organization, and both should be playing a role in the show by the All-Star break. Spring Training and the first few months of the season will be pivotal in their overall growth.

Check back tomorrow for an analysis of the next generation of shortstops in the NL East (minus the Miami Marlins).

 

 

 

Report Card: Evaluating the Cincinnati Reds Trades (July 2015-Present)

A friend of mine is a diehard fan of the Cincinnati Reds who is less than pleased about the recent moves by his team. I received a text message moments after the Phillips trade was announced from my old pal which read, “I’m starting to think winning is second to staying out of the red, pun intended.”

While many of their recent moves have been head scratching (that Chapman deal was so, so, so bad) I wanted to take a look at the trades the organization has made over the last few years as they look to rebuild. Here is a look at each of the major trades since July of 2015:

Johnny Cueto- Traded on July 26, 2015 to the Royals for Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb and Cody Reed. 

For Johnny Cueto, the Reds brought back a paltry return of Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb and Cody Reed from the Royals. Finnegan was the cornerstone of the deal and pitched well in his first full year in the Bigs. The 23-year-old southpaw was 10-11 with a 3.98 ERA.

While those numbers seem average, what was most impressive is that he made 31 starts and had a stellar strikeout to walk ratio. Finnegan struck out 145 batters while only walking 84, good enough for a 173 SO/W ratio. Finnegan should be there throughout the rebuilding process and serve as a top of the rotation starter, likely maxing out as a quality number two arm.

Lamb was traded away to the Tampa Bay Rays for cash in November.

The 23-year-old Reed was 0-7 last year. Pitching 47.2 innings and sported a 7.36 ERA.

Two out of three were complete misses in this deal, with Finnegan being approximately as advertised. It is tough to deal a homegrown ace for only one player of value.

Baseball on Tap Trade Grade: C-


Mike Leake- Traded on July 31, 2015 to the Giants for RHP Kuery Mella and 1B/OF Adam Duvall

At the trade deadline in 2015, the Reds dealt Mike Leake (then only 27-years-old) to the San Francisco Giants for RHP Kuery Mella and Adam Duvall. Mella pitched rather well for the Class A Daytona Tortugas (ahh…I love MiLB names…) and earned a ticket directly to AAA. In his lone start at AAA, Mella pitched well. The 23-year-old righty is currently in camp with the Reds, but should start the year in the minors.

Adam Duvall burst on to the scene last year and started in left for the 2016 Reds. While Duvall smashed 33 HR’s and 103 RBI’s in his first year as a starter (good enough to earn an All-Star bid) he will be entering his age 28 season in 2017. With this Reds team being so far away, it is likely that Duvall will be on his way out of town before the Reds are ready to compete.

While the Reds were not interested in resigning Leake (especially to the 5 year/$80 million dollar deal he received from the Cardinals) they did receive a fair haul for Leake. Mella could be a middle of the rotation type starter (at best), but Duvall should be flipped for players that will help the Reds compete a few years down the line.

Considering Leake’s impending free-agency at the end of the year, it was not a terrible deal.

Baseball on Tap Trade Grade: B- (With the potential for a higher grade if Duvall is moved at the right time). 


Todd Frazier- Traded December 16, 2015 to the White Sox for 2B Jose Perza, OF Scott Schebler and OF Brandon Dixon

Todd Frazier (who at the time was 29) was sent to the White Sox as a part of a three team deal that included the Dodgers. Frazier, along with Joey Votto, was the face of the franchise and was coming off of an impressive All-Star campaign in 2015. In the trade, the Reds acquired Jose Peraza, Scott Schebler and Brandon Dixon.

Peraza is the likely starter at second now that Phillips was sent to Atlanta. As a rookie last season, Peraza was a key contributor by hitting .324 in 274 AB’s. Peraza does not display a lot of power (3 HR’s last year) but is speedy (21 SB’s). Peraza figures to be a mainstay in the Reds long-term rebuild.

Schebler played in 82 games last season for the Reds, splitting time between all three outfield positions. In his age 25 season, Schebler swatted 9 HR’s to go along with a .265 AVG. Schebler should see consistent playing time this year and provide some protection for Joey Votto and Duvall. Schebler is under team control through the 2022 season.

Dixon, a third round pick in the 2013 MLB Draft, spent his entire age 24 season with AA Pensacola. In 419 AB’s, Dixon hit 16 HR’s and drove in 65 RBI’s. He will need to cut down on the strikeouts (137 last year) to move through the system. From what I can tell, he is at best a fourth outfielder somewhere down the road.

While the first two players are nice acquisitions for the Reds, it seems that the team may have received only an average (maybe slightly above) return.

Trade Grade: C+


Aroldis Chapman- Traded December 28, 2015 to the New York Yankees for RHP Rookie Davis, 2B Tony Renda and RHP Caleb Cotham

The Chapman deal seems to be the worst of the bunch.

Rookie Davis was a dominant force in AA last year, going 10-3 with a 2.94 ERA. Davis earned a promotion to AAA but struggled upon his arrival. With the Reds rotation in flux, Davis could crack the rotation out of Spring Training. If not, he will likely make his debut at some point in 2017.

Tony Renda was a 2nd Round Pick by the Nationals in 2012, but at the time of the trade the 24-year-old had never played above AA. Renda cracked the Big League roster last year, but struggled in just 60 AB’s. He does not appear to be a part of the long-term rebuild.

Caleb Cotham was 28 years old when he was acquired, and had a whopping total of 9.2 Major League innings under his belt. The righty struggled out of the Reds pen last year, throwing 24.1 IP with a 7.40 ERA. He is no longer listed on the team’s 40 Man Roster.

Eric Jagielo hit .205 for AA Pensacola last year with only 7 HR’s. He will be entering his age 25 season and seems to be a complete bust.

So, the Reds got ONE useful player out of this deal. When comparing that to what the Yankees landed for Chapman in July of 2016 (just eight months after this trade), it is embarrassing. The Yankees received four players, including super prospect Gleyber Torres and outfield prospect Billy McKinney. In all of the trades that the Reds have made, none of the players they received are as good as Torres. In fact, none of the players that the Reds have received even cracked the Baseball Prospectus Top 101 Prospects, that was released earlier today. 

Trade Grade: F


Jay Bruce- Traded on July 31, 2016 to the New York Mets for 2B Dilson Herrera and LHP Max Wottel. 

Jay Bruce hit 238 HR’s during his eight plus seasons with the Reds, but the team moved on from the lefty slugger at the trade deadline last year. His impending free agency after the 2017 season surely played a part in this decision.

What the Reds received in return was a mediocre prospect in Dilson Herrera, and a long-term project in Max Wottel.

When the 2015 season ended and it was obvious the Mets would not resign Daniel Murphy, many fans believed the job would be handed over to Herrera. He had a cup of coffee with the team in 2014 and 2015, but many were high on him as a potential 20 HR hitter out of the second base position. It was shocking to most when Neil Walker was acquired from the Pirates for Jon Niese that December, but it kept Herrera on the back burner and made him expendable.

With Phillips out of town, Peraza seems to be next in line to start at second leaving Herrera without a position. The Reds could use the toolsy 22-year-old (who hit 15 HR’s in AAA last year) to acquire another player, or hope to switch him to another position.

Wotell is a big lefty (6’3″) out of North Carolina who was a third round pick by the Mets in the 2015 draft. He has yet to pitch above Rookie Ball, where he has struggled to the tune of 5.05 ERA.

It makes very little sense to have acquired Herrera when Peraza was already in the system. A pitcher like Robert Gsellman or Marcus Molina would have made more sense.

Trade Grade: C- 


Dan Straily- Traded on January 19, 2017 to the Marlins for RHP Austin Brice, RHP Luis Castillo and OF Isaiah White

In what is nothing short of an act of alchemy, the Reds turned garbage into gold (maybe silver). The Reds had claimed Straily off of waivers from the Padres in April of 2016 and cashed in on his 14-8 2016 season.

In return for Straily, the Reds received a fireball pitcher in Luis Castillo and another valuable pitcher in Austin Brice. White is a project, and reminds me of a poor man’s Billy Hamilton when it comes to his skill set.

Castillo and Brice should both contribute for the Reds as they rebuild.

Trade Grade: A-


Brandon Phillips- Traded on February 12, 2017 to the Braves for RHP Carlos Portuondo and LHP Andrew McKirahan

This one seems to be purely financial. Phillips was due $14,000,000 this year and the Reds were looking to move the money. Portuondo, who hails from Cuba, has been playing in the USA for two years but has yet to make the Majors. At 29 years of age, it is unlikely he will be a key component of a winning team anytime soon.

McKirahan is coming off of his second Tommy John surgery and did not pitch at all in 2016.

The only upside to this deal is that Peraza is no longer buried and will be able to play everyday at 2b.

Trade Grade: D


2015-2017 Trade Report Card: Cincinnati Reds

Cueto: C-

Leake: B-

Frazier: C+

Chapman: F

Bruce: C-

Straily: A-

Phillips: D

Comments: My friend has a point…

While the Reds aren’t the laughing stock of the league, they missed a great opportunity to drastically improve their team. Instead, they are going to need to hit on an inordinate amount of homegrown prospects rather than acquiring those that have been developed by other organizations that should have been required over the last year and a half. The Reds are over three seasons away from being a serious contender.

Mets, Tigers and how the jury on the Fulmer-Cespedes trade is still undecided

Just over a year ago the Mets and Tigers made a deal at the deadline that sent slugger Yoenis Cespedes to New York and top-prospect Michael Fulmer to Detroit. In 2015, Cespedes carried the Mets to a National League pennant while the Tigers finished a staggering 20.5 games behind the Royals, good enough for dead last in the AL Central.

When the two teams take the field tonight at Comerica Park, it will be hard to remember where these teams were just 10 months ago. Currently, the Tigers are charging up the standings, led by an underrated offense (4th in the AL in runs scored), a revitalized Justin Verlander and, of course, Rookie of the Year candidate Michael Fulmer.

Fulmer is 9-2 with a 2.42 ERA in 17 starts and a 1.08 WHIP. He has dazzled throughout his first season in the bigs with a plus fastball that sits around 95 MPH and a nasty slider. With Jordan Zimmerman sidelined for all of July, Fulmer has been the glue that has held this Detroit team together. With Zimmerman back, the Tigers are poised to make a run at a playoff berth and could be a scary team in October if Verlander, Zimmerman and Fulmer are healthy.

The Mets, who at the start of the season were the darlings of many media outlets to return to the World Series, are scuffling. Duda, Wright and Harvey are out for the season and the team is 8 GB of the NL East leading Nationals and 1 GB of the second Wild Card position. While Jay Bruce was a nice acquisition, the injury to Yoenis Cespedes and the ensuing mayhem around his decision to play golf while nursing a quad injury that landed him on the DL, is palm-to-face type of material. The Mets have been so dreadful this year with Runners In Scoring Position that they are hardly above the Mendoza line, .207. That is 17 points behind the Philadelphia Phillies, who are some sort of quasi MLB/AAA team.

When the teams square off tonight it will be Verlander against Syndergaard in a stellar match-up. If the Mets can survive this series in Detroit they have a fortuitous nine games in a row against teams the Diamondbacks and Padres and they could work themselves into a favorable position before mid-August. The Tigers will look to capitalize on the Mets before heading out to Seattle and the newly revamped Texas Rangers.

The full evaluation of the Fulmer for Cespedes swap will likely not be complete for a few more years, but this series and the next eight weeks will certainly shed some more light on the topic. Enjoy the weekend.

Piazza hits one more home run with Hall of Fame speech

Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza were inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame this afternoon and Piazza gave a speech for the ages.

Piazza thanked a number of coaches, his close family-friend Tommy Lasorda, his father Vincent and the New York Mets fan base.

In what was one of the most touching and real tributes in recent memory, Piazza thanked the police, firemen and first-responders that acted heroically on September 11th, 2001.

“Many of you give me praise for the two run home run in the first game back on September 21st, but the true praise belongs to the police, firefighters, first responders that knew that they were going to die, but went forward anyway.”

As we continue to slog through an ugly election season and tumultuous summer, Piazza’s grace and gratitude was sincere and refreshing. I am not one who believes all athletes need to be role models, but Piazza stood tall today on what was a special day in Cooperstown.

BoSox blow out Twins, Yelich stays hot against Phils

Dustin Pedroia went 5 for 5 and David Ortiz mashed his 24th home run of the season, leading the Red Sox past the Twins 13 to 2.

Pedroia had two doubles and scored three runs in the rout. Knuckleballer Steven Wright threw eight innings against the last place Twins, surrendering four hits while striking out nine to improve to 12 and 5 on the year.

Twins starter Tyler Duffey did not make it out of the third inning and saw his record fall to 5 and 7.

The Red Sox have won nine of their last ten and are a half game ahead of the Orioles in the AL East.


The Miami Marlins punded out 16 hits against the Phils in the City of Brotherly Love this evening, cruising to a 9-3 win.

Christian Yelich slammed a solo shot in the 4th off of Jared Eickhoff. Yelich had six hits in the four game set in Philadelphia and two home runs. Tom Koehler went eight innings and only allowed two hits and one earned, bringing his record to 7 and 8 on the season.

The Marlins head back to Miami for a big weekend series against the Mets and will throw southpaw Adam Conley against Logan Verrett in the opener.