April 11th


Ozzie Albies – Extended

Well, it is STILL extension season. Yesterday the Atalanta Braves extended their all star second basemen to a 7-year, $35MM deal. Yes, while that is still a *ton* of money, it is quite controversial because of how it could potentially severely limit the earnings power of Albies, but also his young teammate Acuna who just got extended also. 


Jeff Passan – State of the Market

After the Albies extension yesterday, Passan of ESPN.com had a series of tweets explaining his position on why the Brave’s duo of extensions could very well hurt baseball. It was a series of 9 tweets; basically stating that because these young players have singed so many free agent years away for comparatively little money, they are not only hurting their own earning power, but for so many generations of ball players to come. 

He also goes on to blame the Braves, but really the market overall, for scaring these young players in taking a smaller amount than they are really worth. They see how sparse the free agent market is, and they don’t want to test it out; therefore taking less money. 

Click HERE for the thread


Clayton Kershaw – Return

Bill Plunkett of the Orange Contry Register tweeted today that Kershaw will be activated Monday and start for Los Angeles. Great news for the generational pitcher to get back on a major league mound after two minor league rehab starts!


Notes 

  • Victor Caratini to undergo a CT scan for his hand
  • Former Red Sox reliever Ben Taylor picked up by Diamondbacks
  • Bud Norris’ deal with the Nationals fell through

PITCH OF THE DAY



Lou Trivino with the NUTMEG! Pretty sure a nutmeg warrants an automatic PotD honors…




Business of Baseball – Non-guaranteed Contract

Definition

Players who are on arbitration (unless specified at the time of the agreement), Minor League or split contracts are not fully guaranteed their salaries.

Players on arbitration contracts who are cut on or before the 16th day of Spring Training are owed 30 days’ termination pay (based on the prorated version of his agreed-upon arbitration salary). A player cut between the 16th day and the end of Spring Training is owed 45 days’ termination pay (based on the prorated version of his agreed-upon arbitration salary). The arbitration salary becomes guaranteed if the player is on the 25-man roster when the season begins.

A player on a split or Minor League contract will earn the prorated portion of his Major League salary for time spent on the Major League roster. Clubs can also sign players to non-guaranteed contracts but still place them on the 40-man roster. Those contracts become guaranteed upon the player making the Major League roster out of Spring Training, but he may also be cut prior to Opening Day. Such cases are identical to arbitration contracts in that the club would owe either 30 or 45 days’ worth of termination pay, depending on the time at which the player is released.

Examples

Prior to the 2016 season, the Angels signed Craig Gentry to a split contract and Al Alburquerque to a non-guaranteed contract. Each player was added to the 40-man roster, but neither player’s contract was fully guaranteed at the time of the signing. Both contracts were contingent upon the players making the Major League roster in Spring Training.


Pitch of the Day Curtesy of @PitchingNinja

Business of Baseball Curtesy of MLB.com

Header Photo Curtesy of La Vida Baseball

April 10th


Matt Carpenter – Extension

It apparently still is extension season folks. Slugger and long time Cardinal will remain in St. Louis for two more years. Spanning the 2020 and 2021 seasons, he will earn $18.5 each year plus a $2 buyout if a vesting option does not occur. Bringing the total value to $39MM. Hitting a career high 39 dingers in 2018, he has been quite the solid player manning the corner infield spots the past couple years.


Luke Heimlich – Mexican League Debut

According to MLB Trade Rumors, Luke Heimlich has made his debut in the Mexican league on Tuesday. As you may remember, or have a strong opinion about: Luke Heimlich is the player who has pled guilty in sexually molesting his niece when he was 15. He has since denied every claim that it ever happened. He has always said that he pled guilty just as a “family decision to move on”. Many evaluators have said that Heimlich could pitch in a big league rotation as of now. Because of the allegations he went undrafted in ’17 and ’18. 


Edwin Jackson – Minor’s Signing

Jackson is back with the A’s on a minor league deal. This comes as a regression for him as Heyman had reported that the A’s had offered him a major league contract earlier in the offseason that he declined to test the market. The market giveth and the market taketh. 


Notes 

  • Alex Bregman of the Astros is day to day still after pulling his hamstring
  • Backstop Russel Martin hits the IL with lower back inflammation

PITCH OF THE DAY



Colin Mchugh vs Aaron Judge – Sliders GALORE


Colin McHugh shoutout = Colin hosts a podcast called the twelve-six, in which he features many major leaguers and other prominent figures in baseball. He has interviews with Alex Bregman, Jeff Passan and Sean Doolittle which are all VERY good. Would recommend 10/10.




Business of Baseball – Mutual Option


Definition

A mutual option is an optional year at the end of a contract. In order for the optional year to become guaranteed, both parties must agree to exercise the option.

Mutual options are very rarely exercised. If a player enjoys a strong season, the club will exercise its half of the option in the hope of retaining the player on a one-year deal. However, the player, fresh off a high-quality performance, will likely wish to test the open market in search of a larger guarantee on a one-year or a multi-year contract. Likewise, a player whose stock is down might exercise his half of the option rather than test free agency, but his club may no longer view him as worthy of that salary.

Example

Though rare, the mutual option has been exercised in the past. Planning to retire following the 2015 season, Aramis Ramirez agreed to exercise his half of a $14 million mutual option with the Brewers. Perhaps viewing $14 million as a fair salary for a player of Ramirez’s ability, Milwaukee exercised its half of the option as well.


Pitch of the Day Curtesy of @PitchingNinja

Business of Baseball Curtesy of MLB.com

Header Photo Curtesy of Viva El Birdos

March 21st


Ichiro Suzuki – Announces Retirement

In a Mariners press release, Ichiro released this statement: 

I have achieved so many of my dreams in baseball, both in my career in Japan and, since 2001, in Major League Baseball. I am honored to end my big league career where it started, with Seattle, and think it is fitting that my last games as a professional were played in my home country of Japan. I want to thank not only the Mariners, but the Yankees and Marlins, for the opportunity to play in MLB, and I want to thank the fans in both the U.S. and Japan for all the support they have always given me.

There is not many words that can describe just how important Ichiro has been to this game. Just looking at his numbers in the MLB, he is a sure hall of famer. Add in the 6 years he played in the NPB in Japan, and he has the most hits ever. Just a glance at his baseball reference page, he was not only a perennial all star, but always in the race for MVP. After winning MVP in his rookie season, he AVERAGED 13th in MVP voting over his first 10 years; also being an All Star and Gold Glover in each of those 10 years. 


Paul Goldschmidt – Extension

Wow, this has been quite the extension season the past two weeks or so. This time, it will be the newly acquired Paul Goldschmidt with the Cardinals. 5 years and $130MM sounds about right for a 1B who has been an all star almost every year since he got to the bigs. I would rate Goldy and Arenado two of the most underrated performers in the game. Last offseason the Red Sox signed JD Martinez who is a little better hitter, but a worse fielder for 5/$110MM. This deal will not include any opt outs, but JD’s did given the dollar differences. Goldy’s deal with the Cardinals does have full no trade protection, so any deal moving him would require his permission. 


Blake Snell – Extension

Yes, another extension. After being disappointed with such a pitiful raise since winning (only) the Cy Young award in 2018; Blake Snell has come to terms with the Rays on a 5-year, $50 MM deal with several incentives and bonuses depending on his placement in the Cy Young race. This buys out all his arbitration years, and one free agent year. It looks like he will become a free agent in his age 30 season. Primed for another big payday if he continues this pitching dominance. 


Corey Knebel – Injury

Today it was reported that Brewers RP Corey Knebel has a tear in his UCL. UCL injuries scream Tommy John, but apparently the aren’t sure if it is bad enough for that. This is probably why they have entered into the Kimbrel market. If Kimbrel has lowered his ask to only one year, it would only make perfect sense for the Brewers to fill the void from Jeffress and Knebel starting the year on the IL. 


Sandy Leon – Trade Rumors

Marly Rivera of ESPN reports that the Red Sox are “actively shopping” catcher Sandy Leon. We have known since the beginning of ST that the Sox’s plan was to only carry two catchers this year. Last offseason they hashed out a multi year extension with starter Christian Vazquez, and so the battle really came down between Blake Swihart and Leon. Leon has never hit well, while when given ABs Swihart has a near average batting line. It has been clear to me that Swihart should be given the ABs when his average potential is clearly better, and has some defensive versatility: playing 1B, 2B, 3B and some OF. Sandy Leon is well regarded as a terrific defender and is heralded for handling a pitching staff. Those intangibles can only take you so far, as we are seeing here. 


Connor Joe – Traded

Today the Giants and Reds paired up to make a trade: Connor Joe will be going to the Giants, and the righty Jordan Johnson and cash will be going back to the Reds. To make room on the 40-man, Drew Ferguson will be DFA’d. In yesterday’s cookie, I talked about how Ferguson was part of the outfield logjam of guys trying to make it. It seemed like the Giants saw that logjam and turned it into a utility infielder.


Notes

  • Brad Miller Opts out of his minor league pact with the Dodgers
  • Braves Outright Sam Freeman
  • Phillies release Drew Butera, Andrew Romine
  • Hunter Pence has made Rangers’ roster




Stat of the Day – LEAD

Lead Distance represents the distance between the base and the baserunner’s center of mass as the pitcher makes his first movement — either to home or to the base on a pickoff attempt.

Lead Distance might be the most overlooked aspect of stealing bases. Certain baserunners — those who can react quickest to a pitcher’s move — take leads that are longer than an average player. In doing so, the distance between the base stealer and the base he is trying to swipe is cut down.

Sure, Maximum Speed, Acceleration, a catcher’s Pop Time and a pitcher’s delivery all have a major impact on stolen bases, too. But on a bang-bang play, the runner’s initial Lead Distance can sometimes make all the difference. (The same can hold true even when the runner is not attempting to steal, but rather when there is a close play at the next base after the ball is put in play.)


Stat of the Day Curtesy of MLB.com

Photo Curtesy of 500ish Words

March 10th


Adam Jones – SigneD

Dontrelle Willis (twitter) reports that veteran outfielder Adam Jones has signed a one year contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks worth $3MM. Some said that it’s the biggest shame that no one had signed Jones, many speculating Cleveland for the landing spot for him, it did not end up as his home for 2019. We are still now waiting for the last two major dominoes to fall: Keuchel and Kimbrel.


Valdimir Guerrero JR. – Injury

Top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has suffered a left oblique strain. The team has said that they will wait 3 weeks to reevaluate the injury. MLB. Trade Rumors has broken it down:

The injury to Guerrero officially takes him out of the running to open the season in Toronto, though he wouldn’t have stood much chance to crack its roster even if he remained healthy. Not only will the Blue Jays gain an extra season of control over Guerrero by keeping the 19-year-old in the minors until mid-April, but general manager Ross Atkins indicated last month that the big-bodied third baseman’s not yet suited for a major league promotion. Since then, Guerrero has batted a meager .211/.250/.316 in 19 spring at-bats.

Conner Byrne, MLBTR

Blake Snell – Contract Update

The Tampa Bay Rays renewed Blake Snell at $573,700 for the 2019 season. After such a stellar season which earned him the American League Cy Young award, it could have been easy to see a larger raise. Since the lefty is still pre-arbritration, the team decides his salary as long as its over the $555K minimum. You can see that Snell was not particularly happy with only a $18,700 pay increase as seen is this quote:

The Rays have the right under the collective bargaining agreement to renew me at or near the league-minimum salary. They also have the ability to to more adequately compensate me, as other organizations have done with players who have similar achievements to mine. The Rays chose the former. I will have no further comment and look forward to competing with my teammates and field staff in our quest to win the World Series in 2019.


Blake Snell

This is not the first time a team has given minimal raises to star players. After a second place finish in the MVP voting, Mookie Betts was given $950K, and Carlos Correa was given $1MM and both were in the same situation. You can still see a rather big difference in pay, Betts and Correa both almost got their salary doubled.

Clayton Kershaw – Update

After resting for the past two weeks after his shoulder issue, manager Dave Roberts stated today that Kershaw will try throwing today. If you remember, this was probably caused by a new routine Kershaw is trying intended to increase his velocity.

Best Blogs of the Week

This is something I want to start featuring on Sundays. MLB Trade Rumors does a post, highlighting the best blogs of each week. I will add my favorites, and then link to their post:

https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/03/baseball-blogs-weigh-in-braves-rockies-brewers-keuchel-harper-phils.html

Header Photo Curtesy of Call to the Pen



February 27th

Rule Changes – Update

Commissioner Rob Manfred ponders his possible negotiating tactics

ESPN’s Jeff Passon reports that the league has pushed its plans for a pitch clock back until 2022 as a negotiating tactic to try to implement some other changes that have a much easier path to getting approved through the Players’ Union.

Major League Baseball is prepared to scuttle the implementation of a pitch clock until at least 2022 as part of a wide-ranging proposal to the MLB Players Association that would include the ability to implement a three-batter-minimum rule for pitchers and roster-size changes in 2020, sources familiar with the plan told ESPN.

Jeff Passon

Bryce Harper – Update

Several teams have now entered the mix more heavily as of late: Dodgers and Giants are among those. The Giants have been meeting with Bryce Harper for a potential 10 year deal, and while the salary that is being discussed has not yet leaked, several sources close to action are reporting that it is of record breaking size (Record being $325MM)

Peter Moylan – Retiring

[Veteran reliever Peter Moylan has opted to retire from Major League Baseball at the age of 40, he tells David O’Brien of The Athletic (subscription required). The Australian-born hurler isn’t entirely walking away from the game, as he’ll pitch for a professional team in Italy this summer and hopes to pitch for the Australian Olympic baseball team, O’Brien adds.

Moylan details his decision in the lengthy interview, revealing that although the calendar is about to flip to March, he simply never received an offer this winter. Despite the fact that Moylan believes he’s still capable of competing at the game’s top level, he also insists that there’s no bitterness or anger with regard to how the offseason played out. “The game is trending younger,” said the veteran righty. “I’m certainly not that. It’s time for me to let the kids play, so I’m done.”] – Steve Adams, MLBTR


Stat of the Day – DER

Defensive Efficiency Ratio is a statistic used to evaluate team defense by finding out the rate of times batters reach base on balls put in play. Basically, for every ball hit into the field of play, how likely is the defense to convert that into an out?

The formula for Defensive Efficiency Ratio is: 1 – ((H + ROE – HR) / (PA – BB – SO – HBP – HR)).

Defensive efficiency is a very good tool for assessing team defense, but it has its flaws. For instance, a team whose pitchers allow a high frequency of hard-hit balls will most likely have a lower DER because those balls are more likely to wind up as hits. There is also nothing in the equation that factors in luck or the ease of a team’s defensive chances. But over a large enough sample size, this concern is mitigated.

TLDR: This is an upgraded fielding percentage but used for entire teams.

 

Stat of the Day curtesy of MLB.com

February 24th

Slow News Sunday

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Clayton Kershaw – Update

Today, Dave Roberts (Dodger’s Manager) shed some more light on the setback that Kershaw is now facing. Roberts told the reporters that he had tried a new program to increase his velocity this season. They think that is most likely what has caused this. While he did undergo an MRI, they expect Kershaw to start throwing in a few days time. Which is great news to Dodgers fans.

 

 International Bonus Money – Orioles to Rangers

The Rangers have acquired international slot bonus money from the Orioles in exchange for minor league righty David Lebron, as per an announcement from the Orioles.

The trade represents an interesting twist for Baltimore, who has been amassing international draft money for months in various other deals in an attempt to revitalize the franchise’s long-dormant international development pipeline.  Owner Peter Angelos had long shied away from spending on int’l prospects, though the organization’s stance changed significantly once Angelos’ sons took on a larger role in the Orioles’ operations.  Under new general manager Mike Elias, the club has hired the well-regarded Koby Perez as Baltimore’s new senior director of international scouting.

After coming up short in their pursuit of Cuban prospects Sandy Gaston, Victor Victor Mesa, and Victor Mesa Jr., the O’s were left with easily the largest bonus pool of any team of the 2018-19 international signing period, with close to $6MM in available funds.  (The Dodgers were next on the list with just $1.4MM.) – Mark Polishuk, MLBTR

 


 

Stat of the Day – WAR

“Wins Above Replacement (WAR) is an attempt by the sabermetric baseball community to summarize a player’s total contributions to their team in one statistic. You should always use more than one metric at a time when evaluating players, but WAR is all-inclusive and provides a useful reference point for comparing players. WAR offers an estimate to answer the question, “If this player got injured and their team had to replace them with a freely available minor leaguer or a AAAA player from their bench, how much value would the team be losing?” This value is expressed in a wins format, so we could say that Player X is worth +6.3 wins to their team while Player Y is only worth +3.5 wins, which means it is highly likely that Player X has been more valuable than Player Y.

WAR is not meant to be a perfectly precise indicator of a player’s contribution, but rather an estimate of their value to date. Given the imperfections of some of the available data and the assumptions made to calculate other components, WAR works best as an approximation. A 6 WAR player might be worth between 5.0 and 7.0 WAR, but it is pretty safe to say they are at least an All-Star level player and potentially an MVP.

While WAR is not as complicated as some might think, it does require a good bit of information to calculate and understand. Below you can find general information about WAR and links to specific information about position players and pitchers, as WAR is obviously calculated differently for each.” – FanGraphs Library

There are two major sites that make WAR. Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference. That is why you will see “bWAR” and “fWAR”. The difference can be explained HERE

TLDR: WAR is an estimate of the total contributions that a player has made. More playing time = more WAR. It takes into account defense, base running, and of course offense. 

 

Stat of the Day Curtesy by FanGraphs

Header Photo Curtesy by Pitcher’s List

 

February 22nd

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Clayton Kershaw – Shut Down Indefinitely (Arm)

“The Dodgers have shut down star hurler Clayton Kershaw indefinitely, manager Dave Roberts tells Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times. The venerable southpaw is dealing with an unspecified health issue that Roberts would describe only as an “arm kind of thing.” Initial signals from the organization are that there’s nothing to worry about at this point. Kershaw says he’s “just going to take a few days right now” and adds that he expects to resume throwing in short order, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County-Register tweets.

In Roberts’s view, too, this is just an early pause “to just kind of step away, give him a couple days.” That said, he acknowledged that he “can’t say right now” just when Kershaw will be ready to ramp back up.” – Jeff Todd, MLBTR

Bryce Harper – (Kinda) Update

Yes, we know this Bryce Harper stuff is getting old. It is for the writers as well; but until he decides, its kinda our job to keep you informed.

A private jet was spotted in Las Vegas today. But not just any private jet, this one had a giant P on the back of it, with a little curl to the end of each line. This jet carried the owner of the Phillies. Jon Heyman then confirmed there was a meeting between the Harper family, Scott Boras, and the Phillies Owner John Middleton. Heyman in later tweets mentioned that the Phillies while still holding a strong position to land Harper, might not be the frontrunner everyone had thought.

Rule Changes – Spring Training Pitch Clock

“Major League Baseball has formally announced the implementation of a 20-second pitch clock to be tested during Spring Training games. Jeff Passan of ESPN reportedminutes prior to the announcement that it’d be made today. Per the league’s announcement, there has been no decision made regarding the potential implementation of the pitch clock during the upcoming regular season, though Passan tweeted that there is a “very real possibility” of that happening.

Early in Spring Training, as players adjust to the latest pace-of-play tactic put in place by commissioner Rob Manfred, there will not be any ball or strike penalties for pitch-clock violations. By the second week of games, umpires will begin to issue warnings, and eventually, umps “will be instructed to begin assessing ball-strike penalties for violations.”’ – Steve Adams, MLBTR

Ervin Santana – Minor League Deal

“Free agent right-hander Ervin Santana picked up a minor league deal with the White Sox, according to various reports Friday. Per Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com, Santana will make $4.33 million if he manages to crack the major-league roster this spring. Any official confirmation from the team is still dependent on the results of a physical.

He was laid low by prolonged discomfort in his right middle finger last spring, and underwent a capsular release/debridement procedure that kept him off the mound for all but 24 2/3 innings of his 2018 campaign with the Twins. When healthy, however, he’s been as durable and productive as they come. Santana earned his second career All-Star distinction in 2017 and pitched to a 16-8 record in 33 starts with three shutouts, a 3.28 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 7.1 SO/9, and 2.9 fWAR through 211 1/3 innings.” – Ashley Verela, Yahoo! Sports

 


 

Stat of the Day – DRS

Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) is a defensive statistic calculated by The Fielding Bible, an organization run by John Dewan, that rates individual players as above or below average on defense. Much like UZR, players are measured in “runs” above or below average, and Baseball Info Solutions data is used as an input. Since DRS is measured in runs, it can be compared easily with a player’s offensive contributions (wRAA or similar statistics).

Why DRS?

This isn’t the right place to debate DRS versus another similar metric, but you should use a metric like DRS or UZR because it is a better representation of defensive value than something like fielding percentage. Even your eyes aren’t going to do a great job measuring defensive performance because you simply can’t watch and remember enough plays a year to have a good sense of exactly how well a player stacks up against the competition. You might be able to judge a single play better than the metrics (although that’s debatable), but your ability to recall every play and compare them is limited. Run value defensive stats like DRS provide you with the best estimate of defensive value currently available  and allow you to estimate how much a player’s defense has helped his team win.

TLDR: Measures someone’s defense in the quantity of runs they have saved over the course of the season. 10 runs is the common rule of thumb for 1 win. 

 

Header Photo Credit: Bleacher Report

Stat of the day curtesy by FanGraphs