I like the Tigers. I like the Tigers nucleus as it is. They hung in there until the final day of the season, so they’re a team while not perfect; they’re definitely competitive and at worst probably figure to be a little longer if left alone.
Avila said the club would not offer JD Martinez a long-term contract extension, and his current deal in Motown expires after the 2017 season.
Justin Verlander and (gasp) Miguel Cabrera are obviously among those who can be sniffed around by the sharks. It’s hard to imagine either of these guys in another uniform, especially Cabrera who is a franchise-defining talent and an inner circle Hall of Famer. He deserves the farewell tour in Detroit that Ortiz just got in Boston. The good thing for those that want to see these two stay put is that they’re 10/5 guys, so they could veto a trade to any team.
In a thin free-agent market, guys like Justin Upton, Ian Kinsler, and Victor Martinez could be huge commodities. This is where I would think a slight tweak; if it happens, could be a good thing for the Tigers. If one of those types can yield a high-leverage couple of arms and a B-level prospect, the Tigers probably do it.
Indications are that the Tigers will not make this a full firesale.
And that’s the basics of what is going on with the Tigers right now. They probably look at their division mates the Cleveland Indians and that payroll and have a little envy and get some ideas about how to start building at the base of their organization again.
Best guess is one or two of these guys go but not Miguel Cabrera. That would just be sacrilegious in so many ways in the game of baseball. Detroit definitely will be one of the most interesting organizations in the game as we approach the Winter Meetings and trade season.
Since we’re fantasy baseball nerds, we’ll be running down as much of a commentary as we can prior to your March fantasy drafts. If you’re having a draft before then, you’re violating a major man-law. Don’t do it. You’ll inevitably draft some guy who breaks his nads installing a hardwood floor or something. Here are our top-20 Outfielders for fantasy baseball 2014. We’re running this down similar to the guys at Razzball, though we could never pretend to be of the legendary status they’ve achieved.
1. Mike Trout: Until the younger bull knocks the old bull off the hill (Trout is the old bull in his age 22 season, didn’t you know?) you have to keep putting this guy here and leaving him alone. We just hope you were one of the lucky bastards who snagged him late and were able to keep him after that lackluster cup of coffee in 2011. That was so, so long ago. We figure Trout finally wins that MVP award, hits 30 homers, drives in around his career-high 97 and steals close to 40 while hitting around .320 again. No regression in sight.
2. Andrew McCutchen: There’s just no reason to move an MVP much when he’s entering that magical age-27 season. He wasn’t as Heavenly as his 2012 last season, but he was still remarkable and helped owners win a lot of leagues. What is there to say that hasn’t been said (that’s what we hate about these rankings at the top, everyone has these guys up here). McCutchen is a Ferrari, get him in your garage if you can.
3. Carlos Gomez: This is the guy we’re pretty proud of. He was our major sleeper heading into 2013, and he finally put it all together. What we love about Gomez is he’s a guy who seems to want those stats for you. He steals bases when his team is up big, he challenges for the extra base, he isn’t happy settling with that three-hit night. He plays the game hard and we think the power could enjoy another slight up-tick in 2014. The only thing about Gomez that sucks is when he takes away home runs from your other fantasy players playing center field. He owes Jay Bruce several.
4. Giancarlo Stanton: Big Mike struggled last season hitting .249, but he’ll enter 2014 with major motivation: play so well he can escape Miami for greener pastures and a mega-deal soon following. This will be the year that he eclipses 40 home runs if anyone does in the National league. This will be a .900 OPS season. This will be the year he finally plays like a first rounder. As they say on eBay, bid with confidence.
5. Carlos Gonzalez: 2010 seems so long ago when he finished third in MVP voting. Since then he’s missed time each season but was still spectacular when he was on the field. The only question with Gonzalez is health, if you believe he can stay healthy he will be stellar and steady. He’s not going to go out there and hit .260 at Coors Field. It’s just not going to happen. A solid first-round guy if he can play in 140-150 games.
6. Adam Jones: He’s in a great lineup, he’s in a nice hitter’s park, he’ll be just 28, and he’s baseball’s closest present-day version to Eric Davis. What we like most about Jones is his games played the past three years: 151, 162, 160.
7. Bryce Harper: Someday soon the nagging injuries that drive fantasy owners like us nuts will end, and Bryce Harper will have the biggest numbers of his young career. It’s not too much to ask for a player like Harper to post an average in the .280-.290 range with upwards of 35+ home runs and over 100 RBI and runs scored. We don’t look for him to steal many more than 10 – he’s bulked up – but that power is coming in a big way. He hit .344 and 9 HR in April last season. If he can put that together over a full year like he’s going to try to do……
8. Jacoby Ellsbury: We don’t like that he’s turning 30. We don’t like that he misses monstrous amounts of time about every other season. We do like that he is in that hitter’s park in the Bronx and think he offers 20-50 potential. Solid bet to be very good in the near-term. I want no part of him in a year or two though.
9. Jay Bruce: The Reds are going to have an average year. Jay Bruce is going to have a career year. He’s entering his age-27 season. He’ll get as close to 40 home runs as he has yet and he’ll hit around .275, and with Bruce what you’re buying is the consistency. A lock for 30+ home runs and 150 games played. His slumps will make you want to drown kittens. His hot streaks are other-worldly.
10. Ryan Braun: He’s really not going to miss a beat when he returns from his little hiatus in 2013. He’ll be the same old Braun, which is video-game numbers. It won’t be his career year, but short of that you’re getting one of the top sluggers in baseball with some steals, albeit a few less steals and probably a few less homers. All things considered, a guy we would love to have; even with the cheating!
11. Justin Upton: So now the world knows that he’s not the second coming of Ken Griffey Jr., and that’s okay! What Upton is, is just a pretty good player. And he’s going to be more comfortable in his second season in Atlanta. Something about Upton worries us a little bit; but when we think about it it’s just the poor taste he left in our mouth in 2012. Even then, he was pretty solid. He’s deserving of this high ranking.
12. Shin-soo Choo: He’s going to score a lot of runs out in that Texas heat and don’t be surprised if his numbers improve across the board in a lineup full of threatening hitters.
13. Yasiel Puig: There will be no in between for Puig in 2014. He does not simply maintain; he either becomes full-fledged fantasy superstar or completely collapses in his sophomore campaign. We’re talking .240 or .315ish with power and steals again. Either way, it’s going to be VERY entertaining. Biggest risk factor of anyone in these rankings.
14. Jose Bautista: He may be quickly approaching his decline. He is at an age where it is reasonable for a lot of players to lose bat speed and miss time to injuries. But we believe enough in Joey Bats’ skills to say he will provide one more glorious summer in the sun for fantasy owners. A return to the 30’s in HR, 100 RBI, and an OPS in the .900s for those that believe.
15. Jason Heyward: We don’t really plan to target him – which is why he’ll inevitably break out. If that’s not a good enough reason, keep in mind he’s playing for a monster contract. If you believe what the scouts originally said about Heyward back entering 2010, that huge year is coming this year or next.
16. Allen Craig: The guy with two first names always wrecks shit when he’s in the lineup. He’s a .300 hitting machine in a baseball town where everything seems to line up nicely for that organization. He’ll probably have a DL stint included, but if you can weather that storm you’ll get a .300 average, 20+ homers, near 100 RBI, and peace of mind rotating him between OF and 1B.
17. Matt Kemp: Another guy we don’t want to own, in part because his risk is not worth the overpay it will take to land him on draft day. If for some reason the bargain exists in the middle rounds – take a flier on the guy. The decline might only be a season or two away, but for now Kemp has something to prove and will be taking the field for a team with World Series expectations. It should be a nice year for the back of his baseball card.
18. Starling Marte: A lot of people out there will shy away from putting Marte in their top-20 because it’s too out on a limb. His power numbers should improve and he’ll be a realistic possibility for a 20-40 season. His average should not dip much further than .280 because speed like his doesn’t slump. An .800 OPS player who will be 25. The soon to be Pirates outfield of Marte, McCutchen, and Polanco could be a lot of fun.
19. Yoenis Cespedes: Why do I feel like the guy is probably older than his listed age of 28? He’s probably like 34, but these damn Cubans are ageless wonders with their chicken blood voodoo cocktails. If you want a projection on him an average of his first two seasons is fair to expect: 25ish HR, .265-.270, 81 RBI, 12 steals, 70 runs.
20. Domonic Brown: The bottom line is power comes at a premium these days in baseball. Gone are the days where any number of middle infielders slug 27 home runs for you and drive in 80-plus. For that, you’ll need to pick up a guy like Brown who should continue to hit home runs in bunches. If it wasn’t for an injury he would have easily entered the 30-homer club. He’ll be inducted in 2014.
It wasn’t like they drew it up. Freddie Garcia matched Clayton Kershaw for six innings. The Dodgers gave up the lead in the 7th inning, and trailed by that score until the bottom of the 8th when Yasiel Puig came to face David Carpenter. Carpenter got a couple great pitches by Puig for strikes and in a two-strike count, Puig energized the Dodgers as he’s done time and again this year.
Freddie Freeman was not guarding the foul line in a no-doubles defense, and Puig laced a double down the line that was cut off by Jordan Schafer – and Puig’s incredible speed was evidenced by legging out the double. Uribe failed to get down a couple of bunts and reminded the world that he could be the worst bunter among regulars in the big leagues.
A few seconds later, Uribe caught a letter-high fastball from Carpenter that landed in the Dodgers bullpen. If you’ve been watching baseball for any amount of time, you knew that was a crushing blow. The Braves were broken with that moment.
Kenley Jansen came on in the ninth, blew away Schafer, Heyward, and Justin Upton and the Braves season was over.
There is a magic surrounding the Dodgers. Carl Crawford hit two home runs in this game to put the Dodgers ahead 2-0 early, but the Braves battled back opportunistically when the Dodgers made mistakes in the field, namely by Adrian Gonzalez.
This loss is not an indictment of the Braves honey bear manager, Fredi Gonzalez. He’s definitely horrific, and it’s not surprising that his teams seem to always face this collapsing fate. But the Braves and Gonzalez couldn’t have managed this much differently. Carpenter was throwing gas. Sometimes, Juan Uribe just homers.
The Dodgers await the opponent they will devour, either the Cardinals or the Pirates. Whoever it is will be next to be fed to the monster that is the LA Dodgers.
Yesterday on the ESPN Fantasy Focus Nate Ravitz was talking to Buster Olney about Justin Upton among other things. You probably missed this if you have a life, but we didn’t. Take a listen for yourself (12:00 mark).
Olney says that the book is out on Upton and Major League teams absolutely know how to pitch him to get him out. Scouts say you can consistently beat him on the inner half of the strike zone with fastballs, and when he attempts to adjust to that they start throwing breaking balls away.
Olney remarked that it surprised him the way Upton was cast, but those are the reports that scouts are filing to their teams.
As full of shit as a lot of scouts are, I agree with this. Upton isn’t ever going to take off and have that huge Ken Griffey Jr. type year that many thought he would when he was drafted (an example of scouts being wrong).
But if you think Upton is bad…… my goodness spend a week watching every Jason Heyward at-bat.
Atlanta is a paper lion I say; and they can still be caught because their outfield just isn’t hitting enough.
Chris Davis, Michael Morse, Justin Upton. These are your current MLB leaders in home runs at 6. Who cares if it’s only April 11th. The season has been going FOR ALMOST TWO WEEKS ALREADY. Time to start keeping track. All three of these players were somewhat recently cast off by their former teams. Davis went to the Orioles last year, Morse was traded to the Mariners in the off-season, and Upton was trade for 50 cents on the dollar from the Diamondbacks. These guys have been hot to start the season and Upton is making my Upton brothers projection looking really stupid. The difference is that Upton is perennially touted as an MVP candidate. The other two are not so much. Here is the tally of their home runs so far this season.
As part of our preview for the upcoming 2012 season, we’ll be doing a 10 Bold Predictions for 2013 series that will be featured between now and Opening Day. Our sixth prediction is that B.J. is the Upton with the stronger 2013 season.
Maybe the story of the off season is that the Braves were able to go out and get the talented Upton brothers. BJ signed as a free agent from Tampa Bay and Justin was acquired via trade from Arizona. Both brother possess tremendous athletic ability and skill and have carved out very nice careers so far. The general consensus has long been that Justin is and will be the better player. He has just a slightly lower career WAR than older brother BJ in one less season and has the best single season WAR between the two at 5.7. And most thought that the Braves made a better deal to get Justin than BJ.
I’m going out on a limb though and saying BJ will have the better season. BJ’s main struggle has been in the batting average department. After hitting .273 in 2008, he has hovered under .250. The power hasn’t gone away though – he hit the most home runs in his career last year with 28 and still stole 31 bases. He is getting out of Tropicana and into a slightly better hitters park. What if he can get back to .260 this year – that’s pretty much league average now. And don’t forget the benefit of going to the NL where the talent is generally a notch lower.
Now what about Justin? He’s always had the advantage in batting average, topping out at .300 in 2009. He seemingly has been in a bad situation in Arizona where he didn’t “fit in” for some reason. In 2011 he was just on the cusp of breaking out an MVP season (he wouldn’t have touched Matt Kemp or Ryan Braun in reality) hitting 31 home runs with 21 SB. But last year he “regressed”, getting only 17 and 18. That’s not a bad line, but it’s not the line of a young superstar waiting to break out. A lot of people are pegging Justin to have a huge year now that he is free from the desert. I’m not so sure. I see his batting average continuing to slip just a bit to .275 or so. The power and steals should come back some especially if he plays 158 instead of 150 games.
I see BJ besting Justin this year. And as I researched this article I found I’m not the only one. ZiPS projections have BJ besting Justin in WAR by a small margin – 3.8 to 3.3. We’ll have to wait a few months or longer to see.
Braves fans are in for a fun year. You have to admire this organization. Chipper Jones exits stage left as possibly the greatest Atlanta Brave ever. The organization waits just a few months and brings in Justin Upton, a kid that many scouts said would be the next Ken Griffey Jr. type player and added him to a lineup who scouts said would be the next Ken Griffey Jr. type player (Jason Heyward).
The Braves have had a recent string of postseason letdowns. The had the eventual champion Giants on the ropes in 2010 and let them off the hook. They’ve lost one-game playoffs in each of the last two years. Braves fans must feel like they’re a bit snake-bitten.
Major Off-season Moves:
Traded for Justin Upton and Chris Johnson (for Martin Prado and Randall Delgado)
Signed B.J. Upton
Signed Gerald Laird
Traded for Jordan Walden (for Tommy Hanson)
Chipper Jones retired
Michael Bourn, David Ross, Jair Jurrjens signed elsewhere
The Braves run their organization in a professional manner. They’re going to have a really successful season. I expect them to be in the market for a starting pitcher along with St. Louis. If they can shore up their starting rotation, this team is going to be one of the top teams in baseball. They might be anyways, but at the end of the day I like their division rival Washington’s starting pitching a bit more.
It wasn’t long ago that the Diamondbacks were the feel good story in all of baseball. It seemed like that 2011 team was Justin Upton and a bunch of guys, and they rolled into the NLDS against the Milwaukee Brewers where they came ever so close to advancing to the 2011 NLCS. The model worked as it should, a team built around a young superstar overachieved a year ahead of schedule. Bruce Springsteen was being played on the stadium organ. Good times were had by all. With some luck and decent moves, a supporting cast would be built around Justin Upton for years to come.
It would never be more than a mirage for Arizona. This offseason wasn’t about who they added, but rather the trade that sent their franchise player to Atlanta to play with his brother. The package the Dbacks received in return for Upton wasn’t all that exciting, and it’s clear that they settled for much less than they could have yielded at other points if they were so set on trading Upton.
The organization continually remarked behind closed doors that Upton wasn’t “a winning player”. Go ahead and Google it now, you won’t find any other reasons behind why Upton was dealt. That’s because there were no good reasons. It was a stupid move and even when Arizona makes it back to the postseason in another eight or so seasons, it still won’t be a good move. It didn’t have to go down this way, and the Dbacks have unofficially stuck their flag in rebuild mountain.
They traded Trevor Bauer for being a dipshit, too.
Major offseason moves:
Traded Justin Upton for Martin Prado and Randall Delgado
Signed Eric Chavez
Traded for Tony Campana
Signed Rod Barajas
Traded Trevor Bauer for Didi Gregorius
Signed Brandon McCarthy to a 2-year, $15.5 million dollar contract
After the jump we’ll take a look at the 2013 Diamondbacks projected lineup and pitching staff.
I considered this trade to be huge news, so the fact that I’m not getting around to writing a take on it until the week after should tell you that something pretty monumental was going on in my away-from-blogging life I try to have every once in a while.
In actuality, nothing monumental really was going on. I went with my company from my real job to Las Vegas. I gambled on Canadian hockey, saw a guy offering to be kicked in the nuts for $20 (he told me he had been kicked over 5,000 times for those of you wondering how it’s possible), and generally just did some people watching in a city that offers you a little of everything. Playing blackjack at Belagio beats the heck out of the online casinos.
The day I left, Justin Upton was dealt to Atlanta (we told you that’s where he was headed on this episode of The Baseball Show Podcast) for a package of players valued a lot less than a package for Justin Upton should have yielded.
I cannot wait to hear why Kevin Towers is the smartest man in the room on this one. Can’t. Wait. And mark my words, it will make it’s way out into the media. We’re going to know almost every juicy detail of this. Someone’s going to have some ‘splaining to do. And it’s going to be Towers.
It works out perfectly for Atlanta. They’ve now got just enough ammo to challenge the once thought to be invincible Nationals. You can just about count on Justin Upton to go off, stay free of nagging injuries, and generally be the MVP candidate he was always supposed to be. I’ve got nothing against the Braves, but no one deserves Justin Upton for a small price like that.
One big move and a few middling ones has kept the hot stove burning warm through the end of January. Let’s review:
Justin Upton was trade to the Atlanta Braves along with Chris Johnson for Martin Prado, Randall Delgado and some minor leaguers including Zeke Spruill and Brandon Drury. Upton had previously invoked his no trade clause on a deal to the Mariners which would have netted the Diamond a much nicer haul.
The whole thing was a bit weird. I’m not going to go into stats that say Upton was declining or he isn’t as good of an OF as he should be – there’s plenty of that. What other team traded a 25 year old superstar for a consistent .300 hitter and some other pieces. Upton was a fairly popular pick for MVP last year. Some say that the Dbacks knew something others teams don’t. I don’t buy that at all. Upton must have rubbed someone the wrong way, because I don’t see how this makes great baseball sense. Chemistry is overrated. You know what players are good chemistry guys? The ones on teams that are winning.
In other news, the Mets signed Shaun Marcum to a one year deal which I think could be good for him. There wasn’t a huge market and he can try and regain his old form pitching in an average division in a pitcher friendly park. Maybe next year he can go out and get more money or more years. Why would the Mets do it? Why not? It’s only one year.
Finally, Kelly Johnson signed with the Rays. That is all I can say about that.
It’s just the hot stove season right now, but it’s never too early to begin looking at 2013 MLB All Star Game ticket prices. The weather will be warming up before we know it and if you plan on attending the Midsummer’s classic, it’s never too early to start looking.
This evening on The Baseball Show podcast, I was joined as always by co-hosts Mike Rosembaum (Bleacher Report Prospect Pipline, Golden Sombrero) and M.J. Lloyd (Halo Hangout, Off-Base Percentage).
Topics of discussion included:
-The Hall of Fame voting
-Which teams that have never had a Hall of Famer will next get the opportunity to have one?
-Baseball’s new mandatory HGH testing policy
-Justin Upton’s rejected trade to the Seattle Mariners, and why would the Diamondbacks try this hard to trade him?
-MLB ’13 The Show Cover Campaign Talk
-Zips Projections for the Angels, Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton
Everybody’s writing about him and trying to find that good new angle,” said one of the beat writers in the Angels’ press box in early July. “Kid’s 20. What sort of interesting story could he have at 20?” But there it is, on the field, every day — the most interesting story in baseball. And so one year into his career, baseball reckons with how good Mike Trout really is, how good he will be and what could stop him. And that’s when our resolve breaks down and we give. Mickey Mantle? Okay. We hate ourselves. But it’s not the worst place to start.
As part of our preview for the upcoming 2012 season, we’ll be doing a 10 Bold Predictions for 2012 series that will be featured between now and Opening Day. Our sixth prediction is that Justin Upton and the Arizona Diamondbacks are in for a long 2012 campaign.
Justin Upton was unbelievable last season. If it weren’t for J-Up and his motley crew that made up the rest of the band, what would we have possibly done with ourselves down the stretch run? As unheralded and unlikely as the Diamondbacks were, they came so very close to reaching the NLCS last fall.
Upton had a season that will always stand out on the back of his baseball card as his breakout performance. He finished 4th in MVP balloting with a .289 average, 31 home runs, 105 runs, 88 RBI, and 21 stolen bases. His slash line was a pretty .369/.529/.898, falling just short of that rare .900 OPS air. He was a 6.4 fWAR player at age 23, entering even more rare company.
And now it all comes crashing down for Upton, at least somewhat. A large part of his success last season was because he appeared in 159 names, such is always half the battle in putting together a big time season. We’re going to predict a season in which he has a production similar to 2010 (.273, 17 HR, 69 RBI, .356/.442/.799). And it’s going to be due to a catastrophic injury of some type that limits his playing time to less than 120 games rather than regression of ability. That’s the only thing that bring a talent like Upton’s to a screeching halt at this point.
It’s not due to any data or evidence either. Like with all of our predictions, this one deals with gut feeling. We don’t think it’s likely that Upton strings together another season in which he playas in over 150 games. Maybe it’s because we took him with our first pick in fantasy baseball in one of our most important leagues–and things like that just usually don’t work out for us. But we feel that something out there will keep Upton from staying on the path of becoming the next Junior Griffey type talent of baseball.
And such leads to the snowball of the Diamondbacks who will go as Upton goes in 2012, and they know it.
Kirk Gibson willed this team to 94 regular season wins in 2011, no small feat when your regulars were guys like Gerardo Parra, Ryan Roberts and Willie Bloomquist among others. A summer to remember it will be, especially when the Diamondbacks struggle to get to 75 wins in 2012.
Another guy we see the regression grim reaper coming for in a large way is closer J.J. Putz. He was a strength last year with 45 saves and a 2.12 ERA, but he’ll be 35 this season and last season’s remarkable performance came on the heels of three straight up and down campaigns for Putz. Expect David Hernandez to emerge as the closer by mid-season for one reason or another.
We think that Daniel Hudson will actually be a lot better in 2012, but there’s no way Ian Kennedy goes 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA again. Trevor Cahill, Joe Saunders, and Josh Collmenter won’t combine to do much for you after those two, either.
Everyone is predicting a breakout year for Paul Goldschmidt whom we love, but 30 homer projections are probably a year early at this point. Stephen Drew is banged up and the scab under the band-aid peels completely off this season, while guys like Roberts and Chris Young settle in to who they really are as players rather than having career years again.
This team will finish no greater than third in the NL West to pitching rich San Francisco and the underrated Rockies.
I haven’t taken the time to sit through an entire 9 innings yet this postseason. Things in life just seem to get in the way. Now relax, I’m not guilty like some of my peers that tell me they haven’t watched any playoff baseball. I would never be that guy. But life has been getting busy on me.
So last night I decided I wasn’t going to miss any of the Arizona/Milwaukee game. I grabbed my puppy and let the little tike sleep on my shoulder and watched nearly every pitch. After all, the D-backs are my playoff horse. I needed to will them on to victory. And the scrappy-ass little Arizona DiamondBacks came through for me by winning 10-6 in front of their home fans and forcing game five in Milwaukee on early Friday evening.
The game got off to a wild start with Joe Saunders giving up a run in the top of the first inning and then the D-backs responding back to put five on the Brewers in the bottom of the frame. Ryan Roberts hit a grand slam and then Chris Young got one to fly out.
I had worries that Arizona would take their foot off the gas. They’re young, and relatively inexperienced. But they didn’t stop grinding. Milwaukee would cut the lead to 5-3. But then a guy named Collin Cowgill would add a pinch-hit two run single to make the score 7-3.
The entire state of Arizona thought this game was going to be tied 7-7 when Corey Hart hit a ball to the track with the bases loaded that somehow Gerardo Parra ran down on the track in left center field. When Hart connected, I even said out loud “oh no, he got it”. He didn’t get it.
Arizona wouldn’t cast any doubt in our minds from that point on. The ball was flying out last night. The organ was magical. The D-backs were victorious. They’ll either go on to the NLCS or win their final game in front of their home fans.
Kirk Gibson’s boys delivered in giving us a third game five in the NLDS. The rest of America should realize that this roster set is a group of ‘guys’ that just seemed to gel and will never do this again. For that reason alone (and the incessant man-love for Justin Upton that I have) I want this team to knock off a seemingly loaded Milwaukee team on Friday night.