Throwing it Around

It’s a Thursday and there’s finally a little nip in the air. With baseball labor peace in place for the next five years from today, we’re in good shape to talk about the things that really matter! Here are the best baseball links from this morning:

-The Nationals are the best fit for Andrew McCutchen. [Fangraphs]
-Edwin Encarnacion is still out there. [TSN]
-Full details of the new collective bargaining agreement. [MLB Trade Rumors]
-The Dodgers and Twins match up well on a Brian Dozier deal. [Dodgers Digest]
-Brandon Drury’s crystal ball. [Minor League Ball]
-Albert Belle and the Hall of Fame discussion. [Hardball Talk]
-The A’s are excited about signing Matt Joyce. [SF Gate]

Former GM Steve Phillips embraces the idea of starting every hitter with a 1-1 count to speed up the game. Well this is a frightening idea! If there’s something sacred and forever protected in the game, it should be three strikes and four balls. Why not just start eliminating outs from the 27, for shits sake. Imagine what this would do to the baseball record book!? [NY Daily News]

The Pittsburgh Pirates are increasing efforts to trade Andrew McCutchen

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Here’s one that we don’t really want to see go down that is probably going down. The Pittsburgh Pirates are preparing to trade Andrew McCutchen.

The Pirates are actively shopping center fielder Andrew McCutchen, according to multiple sources, and the likelihood of a trade is increasing as the winter meetings approach. The front office has started pursuing specific teams in an effort to work out a trade for young talent.

McCutchen, 30, had the worst season of his career in 2016, posting a .766 OPS, and has displayed declining speed and defensive ability, according to advanced metrics. In the previous five years, McCutchen had a .905 OPS, a National League MVP, a Gold Glove and a .905 OPS.

This is proof that even the great ones get older quickly, and that the age of 30 just isn’t young in baseball anymore. By the time a player reaches 30, there’s still some magic left in the tank but the shine is off.

And the Pirates? Well kind of shame on them. If you can’t commit to trying to make a player like McCutchen a lifetime Pirate and building another strong nucleus around him, you’re never really going to fully commit long-term to anyone. I wouldn’t blame any Pirates fan right now for feeling a bit let down and somewhat turning their back on the team. In a lot of ways, what they’re doing here is worse than the Cincinnati Reds because McCutchen is still arguably a productive player in his prime years.

Sources confirm that the Pirates have approached the Washington Nationals, the Texas Rangers and the Seattle Mariners with the hopes of getting prospects in return.

McCutchen has really been a good one – a fun player to watch and a model ambassador of the game in Pittsburgh. He’s been enjoyable to be a fan of these last five or six years.

DH Video Select: You think I would forget? I would never forget

It was a cool 68 degree April 4th day in 2005. I was a senior in college. I played hookie from baseball practice to go to this game, my first Cincinnati Opening Day ever was my favorite Opening Day ever.

Everyone remembers the Joe Randa walk-off job. But what was special to me was Adam Dunn tagging Pedro Martinez and Braden Looper twice, deep into the Cincinnati sky.

I attended every Opening Day until like; 2012. I think I hit seven in a row beginning with this game. I saw the Ramon Hernandez walk-off. I saw Jay Bruce hit a moonshot off the batter’s eye in center during the Cueto shutout in 2012 against the Marlins. Nothing topped this game and the explosion of crowd noise when Dunn connected on these and then Joe “baby” Randa (why did Chris Berman call him that?) finished the job in extras.

Long live Adam Dunn.

Major League Baseball has a new CBA Agreement in Place

Joy to the world. Major League Baseball has come to an agreement, both the owners and the players union on a five-year pact.

A couple hours before the deadline expired and the threat of a lockout loomed, the sides reached an agreement. There will be the Winter Meetings, free agency, all the hot-stove events will be business as usual.

Most importantly, the sport is in really good shape right now and there is no speed bump or reason to be sad. Being my paranoid self and that baseball is a huge part of my everyday life, I couldn’t help but worry a little bit about the greed of the figureheads that control the game.

The details, and one will note that there are no huge structural changes to baseball:

  • One item I am disappointed about – there will be no 26th roster spot as previously speculated. The current 25-man roster with expanded rosters in September will remain.
  • The new CBA will have a luxury tax threshold starting at $195 million and rise to $210-215 million over the span of the five-year deal. The new CBA will have a 60-70 percent penalty for those who go far beyond the threshold, aimed at those with payrolls around $250 million or greater.
  • While there will be no international draft, international signings will be capped at around $5-6 million per team per year.
  • Compensation will be paid only by teams over the luxury tax threshold and with a draft pick in the second round or later. Free agent compensation will still exist, just not costing them first round picks.

Overall, a really great night in baseball history. I sure the Hell did not want to write about the strike.

Let baseball commence.

The St. Louis Cardinals are interested in Justin Turner

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According to a report from nasally Jon Paul Morosi of MLB Network, the St. Louis Cardinals have serious interest in free agent Justin Turner.

Obviously at this point, it’s just interest. You can’t do a huge post other than to report the interest of a significant National League team trying to take a marquee name from another significant National League team. There are some Cardinals backers at this point who are begging the Redbirds to say no to Turner.

The bottom line is production, and Turner has had that. Over the past three seasons spanning 386 games, he boasts a .856 OPS. There is little doubt that NL ROY Corey Seager benefitted from having bats like Turner and Adrian Gonzalez around him in the lineup. Turner should have that effect at least over the next several seasons.

There are a shortage of bats on the market like Turner – and that coupled with the Dodgers financial crisis makes it unlikely that he’s returning to Los Angeles.

Today in MLB Labor Agreement talks

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Your standard, boring Rob Manfred stock photo that comes with any labor post.

The current CBA agreement expires Thursday which is December 1st. It seems like the owners are going to lock the players out. But today, owners removed their wishes to have an International Draft which was done in an effort to “move talks forward”.

Here is the long and short of it, the tl;dr version:

Rosenthal says that despite the concession by the owners, the CBA talks have not exactly barreled forward. He notes, however, that the final item which remains is agreement on luxury tax levels and that such matters are usually the final ones agreed to in CBA talks.

I am pretty clueless on a lot of this stuff. I just know I have a bad feeling about it despite the fact the universal sentiment that ‘baseball will be fine’. I think this is a story for now until it’s not, because I never underestimate the greed of others.

Let us pray for labor peace and uninterrupted baseball.

Yoenis Cespedes returning to the Mets: Four Years, $110 Million

Yoenis Cespedes will remain “the guy” in Queens, and Justin Turner just moved up to being the marquee free agent bat on the market this winter.

Cespedes signs a four year pact worth $110 million dollars to remain a Met after being whispered in several high-profile destinations.

The left fielder will earn $22.5 million in 2017, followed by $29 million in 2018-19 and $29.5 million in 2020. His average annual value (AAV) of $27.5 million per year is the highest ever for an outfielder, and will have the second-highest AAV for a current position player behind the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera ($31 million).

Cespedes’ three-year WAR figures have been 3.3, 6.7, 3.2. That makes him a Robinson Cano or Brandon Crawford value-wise to the saber crowd. After being regarded as a talented player that wasn’t reaching his potential in Oakland, he’s now seen as a star. He’s the guy in the Mets lineup that you hold off the Shake Shack concession stand order for a few more minutes.

The consensus is that the Mets are gearing up and going for it because they brought him back. However, I see a rotation that is somewhat a question mark now with the injuries to their arms and a lineup that is otherwise in some flux.

I was personally hoping Cespedes landed elsewhere.

Throwing it Around

It’s the holiday season, very hard to believe. With Thanksgiving in the books there are Christmas lights up everywhere and the winter meetings on deck. Let’s get this labor deal done; owners and players, so we can get down to what’s really important: players signing poor contracts!

-The latest on the Dodgers debt situation [MLB Trade Rumors]
-The Marlins signed Edinson Volquez to a two-year deal. [Fish Stripes]
-The six ‘can’t touch’ players that would be keys to a Chris Sale trade. [Fox Sports – Ken Rosenthal]
-The Braves traded for former 2014 first-round pick Alex Jackson tonight. [Talking Chop]
-Chicago Cubs 2017 Zips projections are out. [Fangraphs]
-Chris Carter hit 41 bombs last year, did you know that? The Brewers non-tendered him today. [Hardball Talk]
-How about a little GnR? [YouTube]

Baseball Christmas Wishlist

Since tomorrow is Cyber Monday, and I didn’t make a Black Friday purchase of any type; here is my early wishlist if my wife stumbles upon this, baseball related only haul-type stuff.

Feel free if you have a baseball fan in your home to use this as a baseline.

(Disclaimer: I am also WAY too old to really want anything for Christmas. I only believe in giving for Christmas, not wanting. I just thought this would be a fun thing to do. Christmas is for KIDS!).

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Ron Shandler’s Baseball Forecaster 2017, available on Amazon.

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MLB The Show ’17 MVP Edition (Pre-order)

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Vin Scully’s goodbye letter to fans (eBay type item)

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When It Was a Game on Blu-ray

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61* the Movie on DVD

 

 

The Dodgers are “Hundreds of Millions in Debt” after reaching $1 Billion in Player Spending

The Los Angeles Dodgers have been spending too much money on baseball players, especially since 2013 when Guggenheim Baseball Management assumed control of the team. The Dodgers have spent $1.181 Billion in those four years on player salary, an average of around $295 Million annually.

So the crazy spending must stop, and one might think that it becomes a hinderance of their ability to compete in 2017 and the years following. But the Dodgers are falling back on one key thing: the development of young talent coming out of their minor league system which has been fruitful of late.

So while the Dodgers would have to pay big in order to keep established stars such as third baseman Justin Turner and closer Kenley Jansen from signing elsewhere as free agents, the club says it otherwise is able to operate more efficiently because it has a minor league system that is churning out the young, relatively inexpensive talent necessary to sustain a perennial contender.

It’s improbable that the Dodgers are able to keep both Turner and Jansen. One of them will get an offer elsewhere that the Dodgers cannot sensibly match. For shit’s sake, they’re paying Alex Guerrero some insane amount of money next season to go play in another country (he’s not a Dodger anymore after being released). There just are so many poor crooked numbers and players on the Dodgers books that were needlessly put there, and it’s felt that way for a while.

They’re going to start behaving differently, if the LA Times report by Bill Shaikin has wheels.

Examining Lorenzo Cain’s Early 2017 STEAMER Projections

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Ah, sweet ‘Zo Cain. The heart and soul of the Kansas City Royals. You know, we haven’t written about Lorenzo Cain nearly enough on this blog. Dude will be about 31 years old the next time baseball is played, and he just gets too little run time here. ‘Zo Cain been berry berry good to us though.

He had a little bit of a down year in 2016, followed by his best record hits in 2014 and 2015.

He finished with 103 games played, a respectable .287 average (‘Zo Cain is always respectable), nine homers, 56 RBI and runs scored, and 14 steals. He finished a 2.4 fWAR, down from his 6.4 fWAR in 2015 when he was creeping into that ‘best in the game’ talk ever so slightly.

We want to know what kind of rebound candidate Cain will be moving forward – to us he should be like a Torii Hunter – aging like a fine wine in many ways. We have but one projection system to look at, so lets do it. From his Fangraphs page.

Lorenzo Cain’s 2017 STEAMER Projections:

144 games played (good to see), 13 home runs, 71 RBI, 71 runs scored, 19 steals .283/.338/.416, 3.0 fWAR

Alright, so Steamer isn’t seeing anything here earth shattering. Just tells us that there is a very good chance in Cain’s returned health from a frustrating wrist injury – not an injury that should be taken lightly for a hitter the year following – to still being a pretty solid ballplayer.

This may be a little light for one factor involved: Cain is entering a free-agent year. He’s young enough that if he could come somewhat close to his greatest hits era; he could land one more very fine contract from a suitor most likely to not be the Royals.

The search is on for a player that Steamer sees bottoming out.

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Vin Scully honored on recent ‘Simpsons’ episode

With twitter, you don’t miss anything.

Apparently Vin Scully was featured in a recent episode of the Simpsons, with Bart, Homer, and Grandpa Simpson sitting on the couch listening to the legendary call of the one and only Vin Scully; who is as heralded in these parts as any figure.

And that reminds me, right now on FXX there is a Simpsons 600 episode marathon ongoing. They’re on episode number 96. I’ll be digging into that at some point tonight after Ohio State – Michigan.

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