NL West

Thursday Morning Notes: CarGo extensions stall, Indians will rely on the rotation in 2017

Carlos Gonzalez has been with the Colorado Rockies since 2009 and is set to make $20,000,000 this season in the last year of his contract. According to Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post (@markkiszla), contract negotiations have stalled.

Kiszla reports that Gonzalez has felt that there is a lack of urgency from the Rockies organization to get a longterm deal done to ensure that he stays in Colorado for the rest of his career.

Even more alarming is that Kiszla met with Rockies GM Jeff Bridich and reports that Bridich refused to even discuss the topic of Gonzalez’s contract or future with the team.

With the Rockies on the brink of becoming a serious contender and making a playoff appearance for the first time since 2009, this has to be alarming for Rockies fans.


Mike Melaragno (@MikeMelaragno22) of Burning River Baseball believes that the key to the Indians season is the team’s starting rotation. Check out his detailed report, it is a great read.

While the Indians lack the big names of the Mets, Nationals or Cubs, these guys can flat out deal. America was introduced to this impressive staff last fall, and they should continue to produce this season.

The rotation, led by the 31-year-old Kluber, is only getting better at this point. Expect the Tribe to contend again in 2017.

Also, kudos to Melaragno for a Brad Radke reference in the article. I haven’t heard that name in a while!

Flyer-Sign-Suspend (formerly FMK): Chief Wahoo, Matt Wieters and Commissioner Manfred

The “locker room talk” game (I know, you come here to escape politics)  “F#%k, Marry, Kill” will debut on Baseball on Tap this evening in a new, more politically correct form. “Flyer, Sign, Suspend” is a bit hokey, but will serve as a means to summarize a few of the main stories in baseball.

FlyerMatt Wieters, Free Agent. When Wieters was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles out of Georgia Tech n 2007, there was plenty of fanfare. The two-time All-American hit .359 over his career in Atlanta while serving as the team’s starting catcher and at times, their closer. But Wieters is still without a job, and his agent, the always personable Scott Boras, is busy concocting some story about how the market is playing perfectly into their hands.

Ken Rosenthal made a list of eight potential landing spots earlier today. Of the bunch, the Colorado Rockies seem to be the best fit. As Rosenthal noted, the team has spent a lot of money this offseason, but the Wieters could be the last piece needed to make them a serious contender.

The Rockies would be well served taking a flyer on Matt Wieters who would work well with a young pitching staff and add even more pop to the line-up. Plug Wieters in at Coors Field with Blackmon, Desmond, Story, CarGo and LeMahieu? Boras would have to like the idea of padding stats on a one year deal. If the Rockies could pony up the bucks for Wieters, they would be legitimate contenders to take down the Dodgers in the NL West.

Sign: Rob Manfred, Commissioner. Even though Commissioner Rob Manfred is pissing off baseball purists by suggesting a few new rules, I respect that he is trying. I was appalled by the suggestion of putting a runner on second to start extra innings, but I could live without seeing the pitcher and catcher play a light game of catch in the middle of an inning to put a guy on first. While not all of the ideas are worth committing to, I think the Commissioner should be applauded for having the guts to live in reality. Baseball is an entertainment business, and any common sense approaches to make the game more interesting in a world filled with gnat-like attention spans is worthy of consideration. I’m willing to let Manfred tinker in order to ensure the long-term stability of America’s pastime.

Suspend: Chief Wahoo, Cleveland Indians. The time has come. Rob Manfred met with officials from the Cleveland Indians last month to discuss the future of this offensive logo. While the team has been phasing Chief Wahoo out of focus (and will continue to do so in 2017) gradualism in this case is unacceptable. The only reason Chief Wahoo is not as controversial as the Washington Redskins of the NFL is that the team’s name does not describe a physical trait. The character is offensive, as it plays upon stereotypes related to skin color and ignorance. If the logo had played on a stereotype related to just about any other minority in this county, it would have been eliminated a long time ago.

To think that this image is not offensive to a significant portion of the population is just foolish. It is time to suspend Chief Wahoo, forever.

Dexter Fowler: The move Mozeliak and the Cardinals had to make

The St. Louis Cardinals handed out a 5 year deal to a player who had his best year in his age 30 season. That peak, by the way, is a .276 AVG, .393 OBP, 13 HR, 48 RBI and 13 SB. Good enough for a 4.2 WAR.

The Cardinals overpaid for Dexter Fowler (the deal likely around $15 million per year), no doubt about it. But, at this point in time, it was a move they had to make.

The Cardinals outfield production was pretty average last season, and now Matt Holliday will be playing in the Bronx. With Stephen Piscotty the only consistent outfielder remaining on the roster, the Cardinals had few options.

Jose Bautista was an option, and he played 91 games in right field last season in Toronto. But he will be entering his age 36 season and may provide little more than what the Cards got out of Matt Holliday, at a much higher price.

Ian Desmond signed for less money (5 years, $70 million) to play for the Rockies. Desmond will likely play left field for the Rockies, but did appear in 130 games in center for the Texas Rangers last season. His performance in center was below league average, but he can man the position.

Fowler is better defensively than Desmond (slightly) and has a higher OBP, but the power isn’t there when compared to Desmond. However, the Cardinals needed a top of the order presence. While they could use a thumper in the middle of the line-up, an adequate defensive center fielder who can man the leadoff position was exactly what they needed.

The Fowler signing is not great, but if the Cards want to play in a do-or-die Wild Card game (they aren’t catching the Cubs in 2017), they had to spend big money on a slightly above average player.

**Photo credit to d-deee on flickr*P*

 

The Winter Meetings: 3 Up and 3 Down

The Winter Meetings concluded in Maryland yesterday and the Hot Stove is a burnin’. Here is my take on the three teams that improved the most and those that made some questionable moves.

3 UP:

Chicago White Sox

Having only finished above .500 twice since the 2008 season, the time had come for a full rebuild on the South Side. By dealing their ace, Chris Sale, the Sox received top-prospect Yoan Moncada (2b/3b/maybe SS) and Mark Kopech (RHP). Many know about the talents of Moncada, but Kopech is also a top-tier prospect. In 134.2 innings on a Minor League mound, Kopech has a sparkling 2.61 ERA to go along with 172 k’s and 69 bb’s. While it must have been difficult to let Sale go, haven’t we all been thinking “when is that scrawny little arm going to fall off of that tall bag of bones?” Great move Chicago.

To add to this, the White Sox also traded the diminutive Adam Eaton to the Nationals for top pitching prospect Lucas Giolito (RHP) and Reynaldo Lopez (RHP). Both are considered by Baseball America to be top-100 prospects and each saw time in the Bigs last season. Adam Eaton, who had a top-15 WAR last season at 6.2, has never appeared in an All-Star Game or hit better than .300 in a season will head to D.C. and take over center field. While he is under team control under a great contract (a little under $30 million due through 2021), he reminds me of a Jayson Werth Lite. Not as strong, not as fast, not quite as hairy, not as good.

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox got their guy in Chris Sale. While they paid a high price, they acquired an ace who is under team control at a reasonable price for the next three seasons. With the emergence of Rick Porcello, the Sox now have the depth in their rotation to make a run deep into October (assuming David Price never, ever pitches in the playoffs. Just kidding, kind of…)

San Francisco Giants

I get it. The money going to closers is insane. Mark Melancon, who absolutely sucked in Boston (6.20 ERA in 2007), is now the big money closer for the Giants, but he is exactly what they need. The Giants blew a league leading 30 saves last season and still managed to win the Wild Card and advance to the NLDS. With Melancon, a strong rotation that now features a steady Matt Moore and their usual collection of pesky position players, the Giants can expect to have a strong team in 2017 who can chase down LA.

Also under consideration: Rockies and Yankees.

3 DOWN:

Washington Nationals

The Nats were outbid on Chris Sale, who would have given them one of the most devastating starting rotations in all of baseball (Scherzer-Sale-Strasburg) and a chance at some great alliteration-based marketing. Regardless, they went right back to the same team (the White Sox) who had spurned them on Sale and offered a similar package for a guy who has never made an All-Star team and is named after the most mediocre pitcher in baseball history (the other Adam Eaton). Nats fans can’t be happy, thinking that Adam Eaton could be the outfielder they see for years to come as rumors start to swirl that Harper won’t be with the Nats past 2018, if not sooner…

Los Angeles Dodgers

So the Dodgers gave a ton of money (3 years/$48mil) to Rich Hill, a 37 year old who has never in his career thrown over 200 innings. Don’t they already have an aging lefty who can’t stay healthy? Yes, his name is Scott Kazmir. The Dodgers are spinning their tires and going nowhere as the Giants and Rockies improve.

Washington Nationals

Yes, the Nationals are listed in the “3 Down” category twice. I almost went with the Orioles (who haven’t done squadink while the Red Sox and Yankees improve) but I just can’t shake this trade. Baseball Reference (the most glorious website known to man) has a section named “similarity scores” that compares a player’s statistics to those of current and former players. Mike Trout is similar through age 24 to Mickey Mantle, Ken Griffey and Hank Aaron. Fair enough. You want to know who Adam Eaton is compared to? DAVID DEJESUS. The Nats just traded their top pitching prospect (who is considered to be a future front line starter) for David freakin’ DeJesus. BEST CASE, he turns into Johnny Damon. But even then, the Nats traded far too much for a player of Eaton’s caliber.

Also under consideration: Orioles

 

**Photo credit of Chris Sale to Keith Allison** Check him out on flickr.

Sunday Morning Six Pack: Top pitching performances, walk-offs and one beer for a few tears

Two Beers: Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers

Verlander had an interesting day yesterday at home against the Astros. Verlander was straight dealing for the first eight innings and entered the 9th with a 1-0 lead. Verlander would quickly surrender the lead and stood to take the loss as the Tigers took their turn at-bat in the bottom of the 9th. However, his teammates picked him up and scored two to give Verlander the win and propel the Tigers to their fifth straight win. After such a stressful day, we at BoT believe that Verlander should go home to his fiance, supermodel Kate Upton, and enjoy a couple of cold brews.

One Beer: Wade Miley, Seattle Mariners

Miley was dealing yesterday against the powerful Cubs offense in Wrigley. Miley did not allow a hit until the bottom of the 7th when Kris Bryant singled. The southpaw struck out nine en route to his 7th win on the year.

One Beer: Matt Kemp, San Diego Padres –> Atlanta Braves

Matt Kemp’s life kind of sucks today. He woke up playing for a team that is 14 games under .500, but at least he had the chance to live in one of the most beautiful cities in America, San Diego. Now, Kemp and his albatross of a contract, are headed to Atlanta, Georgia to play for the AAA Braves. Listen, Atlanta is a nice city, but when the team is 32 games under .500 and 25 out of first, the 92% humidity isn’t that enjoyable. Grab yourself a beer on the plane, Matt Kemp.

One Beer: Adam Rosales, San Diego Padres

In the bottom of the 10th, with the score tied at 1, Adam Rosales sent a 96 MPH fastball from Jumbo Diaz deep into left centerfield to give the Padres the win. Rosales was 2 for 4 on the night.

One Beer: Mitch Moreland

In Texas, Moreland slammed a walk-off homer on a night where Michael Young was inducted into the Texas Rangers’ Hall of Fame. The homer was Moreland’s 17th and the Rangers now sit five games above the second place Astros in the AL West standings.

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.

NL Rookie Report: Glasnow struggles, Story makes history

On Saturday the Pittsburgh Pirates sent rookie Tyler Glasnow to the hill against the Phillies for his second career start. The 6’8″, 22-year-old rookie struggled, allowing four hits, three walks and maybe of utmost concern, five stolen bases. Glasnow was pulled in the top of the 4th after allowing the first two runners to reach base and with a pitch count nearing 80. Although the rookie had only allowed one earned run, the reputation of not having the best control has reared it’s ugly head in the Bigs. It’ll be interesting to see if the Pirates stick with Glasnow in the rotation going forward as they are in the midst of trying to catch a playoff spot.

In Colorado, fellow NL rookie Trevor Story mashed his 25th home run, breaking the NL rookie record for home runs in a season by a short stop. The record had been held by former Rockies Troy Tulowitzki, who hit 24 home runs in  2007.

Story burst on to the scene this season, catching many across the country by surprise with his ten home run outburst in the month of April. As the Rockies look to unload more of their higher priced players (Carlos Gonzalez, 16.4 million or Jorge De La Rosa, 12.5 million) at the deadline, Story has been a great sight for the home town fans. With some talented pitchers in the minors, Story could be a focal point that of the Rockies rebuilding process.