Tag Archives: cubs

The Morning Edition (July 29, 2013)

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From Last Night:

  • Fernandez goes 8, K’s 13, walks none to lead the Fish past Cole
  • Ross narrowly out pitches Corbin to win in AZ
  • Cingrani and Capuano pitch to a draw before Puig sends everybody home
  • Wood shuts down the Giants, who waste a nice start from Lincecum
  • Gordon’s 12th inning bomb lifts the Royals
  • The Nats unload on the Mets, win 14-1
  • Lester leads the Sox to a 5-0 win
  • Toronto walks off on Houston
  • Jeter homers in his return, Soriano leads the Yanks to victory

What I’m Watching Today:

  • David Price tries to stay hot versus the Sox (6p Eastern)
  • Weaver faces Garza (7p Eastern)
  • Beachy makes his 2013 debut (7p Eastern)
  • Jacob Turner goes against the Mets (7p Eastern)

The Big Question:

  • Are the BioGenesis suspensions coming today?

Reports have the suspensions coming down this week, likely all at once. We’ll see which players are actually affected, which rumors were wrong, and which players have kept their names out of the press. The impact on the pennant race will be real, but likely not substantial because a given player can only have so much impacted over 55 games. Teams will scramble to find replacements, but the impact will be unpredictable. We’ve had months of speculation that was absolutely unnecessary, now we’re actually going to see something happen. Stay tuned.

The Morning Edition (July 27, 2013)

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From Last Night:

  • Tribe blows a big lead, but Ryan Raburn walks off to save them in the 11th
  • Minor out pitches Wainwright in a 4-1 win for the Braves
  • Rays shell CC, move into first place
  • The Royals finally cash in on a great start for Shields, beat the Sox
  • Huge 7th inning bails out Dickey in Toronto
  • Mets dominate the Nats in game one, but waster Harvey’s gem in game two as Zimmerman walks off
  • Chatwood strikes out 11 Brewers

What I’m Watching Today:

  • Darvish faces Masterson in Cleveland (7p Eastern)
  • Chris Sale faces the Royals (7p Eastern)
  • Bumgarner welcomes the Cubs to AT&T (10p Eastern)

The Big Question:

  • How do you feel about Ryan Raburn?

Raburn hit a big 3 run walk off homerun on Friday, improving his season numbers to .273/.371/.533, good for a 153 wRC+ in 186 PA. He is now the Indians second best position player with 2.0 WAR which ties his career high for an entire season. I’ve always loved Raburn because he has the biggest range of possible outcomes of any human being I’ve ever seen. It’s equally likely that he hits 3 HR in a game as it is that he falls down the dugout steps and injures Jason Kipnis. He hits huge homeruns and makes the more untimely mistakes. There’s something quite compelling about that in my book. He’s also playing above average defense and walking 11.8% of the time. This guy.

The Morning Edition (July 25, 2013)

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From Last Night:

  • Strasburg goes 8, allows 1 R on 2 H/0 BB/12 K, but loses despite a 4-2 final score…yeah…think about that…#KillTheWin
  • Price goes the distance on 97 pitches to lead the Rays over the Sox
  • Santana pitches well, but the Royals need a walk off to beat the O’s
  • Garza is superb in his Rangers debut, beats the Yanks 3-1
  • Braves beat the Mets but lose Hudson to a broken ankle
  • Dodgers get 5 in the 10th to beat the Jays
  • Kamzir helps the Indians pummel the M’s
  • The Angels blank the Twins, 1-0

What I’m Watching Today:

  • Wood and Wheeler in NY (1230p Eastern)
  • Burnett faces Gio (1230p Eastern)
  • Kuroda takes on Holland (2p Eastern)
  • Latos goes against Greinke (10p Eastern)

The Big Question:

  • Are the Royals even a self-aware entity at this point?

Apparently, the Royals who are 47-51, 8 GB, and have no reason to expect they will play better, are considering buying at the deadline despite it being a seller’s market. Additionally, they are considering upgrading in right field. I wonder if the Rays would part with Wil Myers? I legitimately feel pain for Royals fans. This is embarrassing.

The Morning Edition (July 23, 2013)

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From Last Night:

  • MLB suspends Ryan Braun for the remainder of the season
  • Rangers acquire Garza from the Cubs
  • Matt Moore gets the CGSO as the Rays beat the Sox, move to 18-2 in their last 20
  • Feldman’s solid start lifts the O’s over the Royals
  • Gee flirts with a no-no, but the Braves take the game in the 9th
  • Grilli hurt in win over the Nats

What I’m Watching Today:

  • Jarrod Parker and Jarred Cosart pitch in Houston (8p Eastern)
  • Miller pitches against the Phils (8p Eastern)
  • Jose Fernandez heads to Coors (830p Eastern)
  • Corbin gets the Cubs (930p Eastern)

The Big Question:

  • Thoughts on the Braun suspension?

Obviously the Braun news populated the headlines on Monday, and I have a lot of disjointed reactions I’d like to share. Recognize that these don’t all go together or in order:

  • I want MLB or MLBPA to lay out the evidence they have against him. I understand Braun accepted the punishment, which is a partial admission of wrongdoing, but the info that has been made public is not grounds for punishment. I want to know what it is they have on him before I make my final judgments about a person’s character. I see no reason to rush to judgment.
  • Braun broke the rules, it appears, and lied about it boldly. That was wrong, but let’s not act like this is such a terrible thing. He should be punished, but this is a sport that has no punishment for dangerous felonies like DUIs. Braun behaved badly, but this isn’t the worst thing an MLB player has done in the last two seasons. Perspective would be nice.
  • Also, most people break rules to get advantages in life. Braun is to blame and deserves punishment, but you’re not perfect either.
  • Braun being linked to BioGen doesn’t mean the failed test in 2011 was legitimate. The two may not be related. Again, I want to see some evidence. If they are related, my reaction will be different. Evidence is important, speculation is not.
  • People are going to town on Braun for tearing down the “sample transporter” person from 2011 and think he should apologize. That person didn’t do his job correctly, even if Braun was dirty. Braun’s guilt doesn’t make up for that guy’s failure. Braun might not have been nice to him, but Braun’s career was at stake. You might have done the same.
  • Finally, imagine how you would feel if it was you or a close family member. I’m not asking you to feel sorry for him, but I am asking you to temper your reaction accordingly. He’s a public figure and there are no consequences for anything you say behind a keyboard, so you probably feel okay spewing vitriol. But seriously, this is a person who made a bad choice. He didn’t kill anyone, he didn’t endanger others. The reaction to Braun is not properly weighted to the severity of the offense.
  • If he’s guilty, he should be punished. But that’s it. The focus should be on the field, not on the people who made choices to take themselves off of it. Instead of vilifying Braun, why don’t you celebrate the ones left in the game.

The Morning Edition (July 22, 2013)

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From Last Night:

  • Harvey dominates the Phils over 7 innings, allows 3 H and 10 K as Lee struggles
  • Masterson flirts with a no-hitter in a 7-1 win over the Twins
  • Giants waste a great start from Bumgarner
  • Colon drops a CGSO on the Angels
  • Wainwright’s 8 strong innings lead the Cards over the Padres
  • Felix turns in 6 solid inning as the Mariners thrash the Astros
  • Peralta and Alvarez throw gems, but it takes a Gindl walk off in the 13th to finalize the Crew and Fish
  • Kershaw throws well, Zimmermann gets rocked in Dodgers win at Nats
  • Bailey K’s 12 but the Reds fall to the Bucs
  • Rays win…again

What I’m Watching Today:

  • Darvish comes to Yankee Stadium (7p Eastern)
  • Scherzer and Sale (8p Eastern)
  • Garza showcase continues against Skaggs in AZ (930p Eastern)
  • Lincecum returns to the mound for the first time since his no-hitter (10p Eastern)

The Big Question:

  • Should the Rays scare you?

The answer is yes under certain conditions. First, if you cheer for the Rays, no the Rays should not scare you. Also, if you’re team is wildly out of the race, then you should just enjoy baseball and not sweat the standings. But everyone else should be worried because the Rays are dangerous. They probably won’t sustain a 17-2 pace for the rest of the season but they are putting the East on notice. On May 7th, the Rays were 14-18 and looked like they weren’t going to be able to provide their usually excellent starting pitching. Since then, they are 44-23, which is a 106 win pace. This is a good team that just had their rough stretch early, which is often a nice way to lull your opponents into a false sense of security. I picked the Rays to win the East and haven’t wavered. They are baseball’s 3rd best offense and 11th best pitching staff and have one of baseball’s best managers and easily the best GM. This is a team that should scare you. They have one of the game’s best in Longoria, an excellent super utility guy in Zobrist, the underrated Jennings, the young Myers, and the lightning in a bottle Loney. Not to mention the pitching is back. They Rays are hot and are only going to cool off a little.

The Morning Edition (July 14, 2013)

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From Last Night:

  • Greinke twirls a CGSO to beat the Rockies despite Chatwood’s CG, 1 ER gem.
  • Davis homers again, but Orioles fall to the Jays
  • Lincecum no hits the Padres, featuring 13 Ks. (Late out west, hence the lack of intense attention)
  • The White Sox tops the Phillies with 2 in the 11th
  • Hughes K’s 10, but gives up 4 as the Yanks fall to the Twins
  • Haren and Fernandez pitch well, Marlins win in 10

What I’m Watching Today:

  • Shields takes on the Indians (1p Eastern)
  • Hamels tries to stay on a role (1p Eastern)
  • Wainwright and Wood take the final stage before the break (8p Eastern)

The Big Question:

  • Who will replace the Sunday starters and injured players on the All-Star rosters?

Enjoy the last day before the break. It’s going to be a slow few days!

The Morning Edition (July 13, 2013)

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From Last Night:

  • Price gives up 2 runs in a CG against the Astros and loses…to Jared Cosart in his MLB debut, who went 8 scoreless
  • Kluber twirls a fine outing, Indians beat the Royals
  • Marlins rough up Strasburg, chase him after two
  • Chris Davis homers, Orioles win, lather, rinse, repeat.
  • Pirates grab a walk off single in 11 against the Mets
  • Arroyo shuts down the Braves, Dusty listens and drops Cozart to 7th

What I’m Watching Today:

  • Burnett faces the Mets (7p Eastern)
  • Lynn and Garza in Chicago (7p Eastern)
  • Holland and Scherzer (7p Eastern)
  • Jose Fernandez faces the Nats (7p Eastern)
  • Felix against the Angels (10p Eastern)

The Big Question:

  • Who are your first half ROY?

Let’s break it down by position players and pitchers. For the NL position player, Puig is a pretty good choice with his 2.1 WAR and 198 wRC+, but he’s short on games. Pollack (2.1 WAR), Gattis (1.8 WAR), Gyrko (1.8 WAR) are also good choices. It’s tough to pick rookies because you have to balance overall value and rate stats. Probably Puig, but Pollack would be a good choice too. For the AL position player it’s slim pickens, to this point it’s probably Jose Iglesias (1.6 WAR), but Nick Franklin, Gomes, and Martin have a case and they all have Wil Myers charging. AL pitching is thin, but it’s probably Straily if you want a starter, but there are a lot of good relievers too. Many the AL rookie class is weak. The NL pitchers are much more fun. Miller, Fernandez, Ryu, and Teheran. I love Shelby Miller, but Fernandez right there.

The Morning Edition (July 11, 2013)

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From Last Night:

  • Wheeler great, Cain awful in a big Mets win
  • Another great start for Turner in Miami
  • The Angels unload on the Cubs, get a good start from Wilson
  • Lee gives up four solo homeruns in a loss to the Nationals
  • Toronto tops Cleveland after a wild 9th
  • Nova and the Yanks handle the Royals easily
  • Twins and Rays play deep into the night, Zobrist walks off

What I’m Watching Today:

  • Sale and Sanchez in Detroit (1p Eastern)
  • Zimmermann goes against the Phils (7p Eastern)
  • Bumgarner (underrated) and Marquis (overrated) face off in Petco (10p Eastern)

The Big Question:

  • How should we pick the ASG starter?

There’s been some debate, as there always is regarding ASG stuff, as to who should start for each side. Harvey is the frontrunner in the NL because he is having one of the best seasons and the game is at his home park. It’s not a lock that he should start on merit, but he’s in the conversation and the hometown thing probably pushes him over. I think it’s safe to say Harvey, Wainwright, and Kershaw are the contenders, but depending on what stats you like, you can make a case that any of them are the best starter so far. But should it be about the best starter so far this season? Should it be about the best starter for the last calendar year? The biggest star? The guy who we judge to be the best, because the game does count? It’s not a clear formula. For what it’s worth, Wainwright is schedule to pitch Sunday so he’s probably out. Kershaw and Harvey are both “stop what you’re doing and watch guys” who are having elite years and are top 10 guys since the last ASG. If you’re asking for six outs, they can both get them with the best of them. Is there really a way to separate who should get the start if we don’t have a fixed definition. If Kershaw was far and away having a better season, it might be different, but they’re pretty even, so it just makes sense to go with Harvey…I think. Kershaw’s about to get $200 million. Harvey could have that in his future, but he has more work to do. Let’s go with Harvey.

The Morning Edition (July 8, 2013)

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From Last Night:

  • Corbin goes 8, strikes out 10 as the Snakes beat the Rockies
  • Price goes the distance to beat the White Sox
  • The Dodgers get 3 in the 9th to back Kershaw’s 8 strong innings
  • The Cubs walk off in 11
  • Fernandez looks ordinary in loss to the Cards
  • The Nats back Strasburg in a slugfest with the Padres
  • Rivera gives up a game winner to Jones and the O’s

What I’m Watching Today:

  • Derek Holland comes to Camden (7p Eastern)
  • Garza keeps on the trade audition tour against the weak hitting White Sox (8p Eastern)
  • Bailey takes the mound for the first time since the no hitter (8p Eastern)
  • Lester goes to Seattle to face Felix (10p Eastern)
  • Matt Harvey takes his show to SF (10p Eastern)

The Big Question:

  • Is this really happening again?

It is. Mike Trout is back on the chase after a homerun on Sunday night and now ranks 3rd among all MLB qualifiers with 161 wRC+, trailing only Cabrera and Davis. Mix in his great baserunning and better defense along with playing a more important defensive position and he’s only looking up at Miguel Cabrera on the WAR leaderboard. It’s Cabrera at 5.8 and Trout at 5.1. It’s happening again and I love it. Trout is essentially on pace to match his 2012 campaign, which would put him on some sort of ridiculous career trajectory. Think about this, Miguel Cabrera became the best hitter in the sport in his late 20s. Trout is 21. He’s probably at his peak defensively and on the bases, but he’s going to get better at the plate. What could this guy do? In the last 365 days, Trout (10.5) and Cabrera (9.2) are 1 and 2 in WAR and Trout already has more than 15 WAR in his career. Since 1901, only 2 players have accumulated more WAR through age 21: Mel Ott and Ty Cobb. That’s a list for ya.

Revisiting The Nine Best First Basemen for 2013

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In the weeks leading up to the 2013 season, I unveiled my predictions for The Nine best players at each position. Some of the lists look good, some look terrible at this point, but that’s all part of the fun. Over the next two weeks leading up to the All-Star Game I will be revisiting these lists to see how things are going so far, around the halfway mark.

Obviously, the early evaluations will feature fewer than half a season and the later lists will feature a bit more, but try to think of these as the state of the position at the halfway mark. I’ll be using Wins Above Replacement (WAR) to generate the rankings because it is the number that best captures the entire value of a player. It isn’t perfect, so don’t take the precise values too seriously, but it’s certainly the best way to make any type of holistic list. WAR values offense, defense, baserunning, and playing time, so it represents exactly what I was trying to capture when I made the rankings during Spring Training.

Here’s how this will work. Below, you’ll see all nine players I ranked in the preseason and any player who currently ranks in the top 9 at that position. The current ranking drives the order and the preseason ranking and their current WAR is noted. Hit, miss, and push distinctions are based on where their first half places them going forward. For example, I can miss on a player even if I expect them to play much better in the second half if their first half was so poor that it is impossible to make up the ground overall.

We’ve already covered the catchers, so let’s move on to first base. Here’s The Nine Best First Basemen for 2013. Numbers reflect start of play on July 6.

56. Mark Teixeira, Yankees (Preseason Rank: 6, 2013 WAR: -0.2)

Teixeira was more hurt than I knew when I wrote the original list. Nothing you can do about a guy who only plays 15 games during a season due to injury. MISS

49. Albert Pujols, Angels (Preseason Rank: 2, 2013 WAR: -0.1)

Albert Pujols stated slow last season and came on strong in the second half. I’m not sure if that’s going to happen again or if his foot and ankle injury will improve enough that he can contribute the way he should. Granted, I knew Pujols was on the wrong side of 30 when I wrote the list, so maybe I should have been more cautious about his decline, but it’s safe to say one shouldn’t assume an all-time great player will simply cease being valuable out of nowhere. He’s producing at league average with a 99 wRC+ from a position that demands offense and is below average on defense and on the bases. Pujols likely won’t be this bad all season, but there is no way he can recover enough to save the prediction. MISS

31. Adam LaRoche, Nationals (Preseason Rank: 4, 2013 WAR: 0.5)

He’s lost some power from his career year in 2012, but the OBP is nearly identical. LaRoche was my bold, wild card type pick, so I’m fine with being off the mark a bit. He’s defense rates below average this year despite being good each of the last three seasons. I assume that will turn around because 1B defensive skills shouldn’t deteriorate that quickly, so he’s probably more of a 2.5 WAR player than a 3.5 WAR player and that’s not a huge whiff. He’s probably a 10-13 1B for the whole season, so this is a miss, but not a huge one. MISS

30. Prince Fielder, Tigers (Preseason Rank: 3, 2013 WAR: 0.5)

Fielder, currently at 123 wRC+, is performing well on offensive relative to league average, but not compared to the bar he set for himself. At this pace, he’s like to finish near the 8-10 mark, but he could easily snap out of it and start hitting for more power at any moment. There’s nothing physically wrong with him and he’s had the occasional season in his career that was just pretty good instead of great at the plate, so he could easily slug .550 the rest of the way and no one would find it strange. He’s costly on defense, but that’s a constant. He’s a top 9 1B on offense right now, but not comfortably enough to make up for his defense. MISS

15. Anthony Rizzo, Cubs (Preseason Rank: 8, 2013 WAR: 1.3)

Despite some recent slumping Rizzo is only a bit off the pace he set in 2012 on which I based my evaluation. He’s 0.3 WAR back of 8th place, so I’m feeling pretty good right now. He’s playing strong defense and has a 110 wRC+. With a little better second half, he’s dead on. HIT

12. Freddie Freeman, Braves (Preseason Rank: 5, 2013 WAR: 1.4)

Freeman spent 15 days on the DL early in the season, but while he’s been on the field during the 70+ other games, he’s been right on pace for 5th. He’s the 6th best 1B by wRC+ and is hovering just below average on defense. Assuming he’s healthy and plays 140 games or so this season, he’s perfectly on track for the middle of the top 9. HIT

10. Allen Craig, Cardinals (Preseason Rank: 7, 2013 WAR: 1.5 WAR)

Craig is having essentially the exact season I’d have expected from him. In the initial ranking I said he was a phenomenal hitter (he’s 5th in wRC+) and nothing special with the glove (-2.2 UZR). His only issue would be health, which hasn’t bitten him yet and is just 0.1 WAR away from 7th on the list. If he doesn’t miss much time, this one looks great. HIT

9. Eric Hosmer, Royals (Preseason Rank: 9, 2013 WAR: 1.5)

Ha! Nailed it. He started a bit slow but things are picking up nicely and he has added value with the glove too. I’m a fan of his skills and think he can be a great player despite 2012’s disappointment. I’m not going to say much more and just bask in this precisely accurate ranking while it lasts. HIT

8. Brandon Belt, Giants (Preseason Rank: N/A, 2013 WAR:1.6)

I like Belt, but the Giants have been screwing with his swing and playing time so much over the years it’s hard to feel good about any sort of prediction. He’s a patient hitter with a solid glove and I like him a lot as a player, I just didn’t think it was a good idea to rank him in the top 9 because I couldn’t predict the playing time. MISS

7. Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers (Preseason Rank: N/A, 2013 WAR: 1.6)

Someone asked about him when I posted the original piece and I said he’d have been 10 or 11 for me, so finding him at 7, just ahead of that spot isn’t surprising. He’s hitting for a little more power than I thought, but other than that is right on track for the season I thought he’d have. HIT

6. Mark Trumbo, Angels (Preseason Rank: N/A, 2013 WAR: 1.9)

Trumbo wasn’t ranked in the preseason because I expected him to get most of his reps at DH. Nothing you can really do about that one, but he’s a lowish OBP, high power guy who tends to run hot and cold. He’s actually be solid with the glove in Pujols’ stead, so I’m comfortable expecting him to finish near the back half of the list. PUSH

5. James Loney, Rays (Preseason Rank: N/A, 2013 WAR: 2.3)

I saw this coming. Not this exactly, but I did. Go to #30 on this list of bold predictions and you’ll see. I didn’t think he’d be a top 9 guy, but I’m taking credit for this because so few people had good things to say abut Loney going into the year. He’s always been a guy who could play defense and hit for average, but he was caught in between while looking to add power in LA, so arriving in Tampa and being told not to worry about it seems to have helped. HIT.

4. Edwin Encarnacion, Jays (Preseason Rank: N/A, 2013 WAR: 2.5)

I had Encarnacion figured in for a lot of games at DH, which has sort of happened. 45 games at 1B, 29 at DH, 10 at 3B so I didn’t expect him to add as much value because of the DH positional adjustment in WAR. I expected him to mash, but not to add this kind of overall value. I’m calling it a push because it was more of a playing time mistake than a production one. PUSH

3. Joey Votto, Reds (Preseason Rank: 1, 2013 WAR: 3.4)

Joey Votto is great and I said he would be great. His defensive rating is below average, which I don’t think will continue and that is the only think keeping him from another MVP type season. Votto is right on track for the 6.5-7.5 WAR season that I figured for him. HIT

2. Paul Goldschmidt, Dbacks (Preseason Rank: N/A, 2013 WAR: 3.4)

Goldy was someone I agonized over and left him off with A-Gon right on the cusp. He’s been good enough to make that prediction a miss, but I do want to make clear I liked him a lot coming in, just not quite as much as I should have. He has amazingly gotten better from year to year across the board since coming to the big leagues and is very much in the MVP conversation with Votto and several other guys who will appear on other lists. I’m a Goldy fan and regret not putting him on the preseason list. MISS

1. Chris Davis, Orioles (Preseason Rank: N/A, 2013 WAR: 4.6)

Yeah, didn’t see this coming. No one did. Not even Chris Davis’ mother expected him to elevated his game to near-Cabreraian levels. He’s mashing and is right in the thick of the AL MVP race. He’s not this good, but he’s also clearly good enough to hang on this list the rest of the way and I wouldn’t have put him in the top 12. Easily a miss and pretty darn impressive. I’m not buying him to finish #1, but he’s earned it for now. MISS

Check back for more The Nine updates featuring the other positions. How will these lists look come October? Sounds off in the comments section.

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