April 17th


Arodys Vizcaino – Injury

Braves closer Vizcaino underwent season ending shoulder surgery yesterday. The surgery was to clean up and remove scar tissue in his shoulder. The Braves’ bullpen has already had some other guys down on the IL such as Tuesday’s move to sending Venters to the IL, Winkler has been optioned, O’Day still has no timetable for return so the Braves’ bullpen is really not looking too hot. The first thing to think about is a Kimbrel return to Atlanta but that has been shot down already as unlikely. 


Nick Pivetta – Demoted

The Phillies announced that starter Nick Pivetta has been sent down to AAA. While he seemed to be a budding star last year pitching to a 3.7 FIP over 164 innings, he has struggled mightily this year thus far. Allowing the most hits and earned runs in the bigs in 2019, Pivetta has earned himself a trip to AAA for the time being. With the NL East in a four team race, the Phils need every bit they can get, and Pivetta hasn’t given them a reason to keep him there. 


Matt Moore – Injury Update

While previously reported that Moore would be returning from his knee surgery after only 6-8 weeks, the club told reporters yesterday that he will be out for the rest of the season. This came as such a surprise because many other players repairing only a meniscus tear would be back around the original timeframe. Might be reason to question if there was a setback, or a problem happened during the procedure. 


Notes 

  • Harrison Bader lands on the IL with a hamstring strain, only the minimum time is anticipated 
  • Marco Estrada has hit the 10 day IL with a lumbar back strain, he is known to have back issues



PITCH OF THE DAY

Nick Pivetta just making former MVP Jose Altuve look silly



Business of Baseball – Player Option

Definition

A player option is an optional year at the end of a contract that can be applied at the player’s discretion. In such cases, the player has the right to exercise his option and lock in that optional salary as a guaranteed sum or reject the option in favor of testing free agency.

Examples

Following the 2014 season, right-hander Dan Haren exercised a $10 million player option on his contract to remain with the Dodgers (although he was ultimately traded to the Marlins prior to the ’15 season). Conversely, Royals outfielder Alex Gordon declined a $14 million player option following the ’15 season and tested the free-agent market in search of a larger contract. He went on to re-sign with the Royals on a four-year, $72 million deal.


Pitch of the Day Curtesy of @PitcherList

Business of Baseball Curtesy of MLB.com

Header Photo Curtesy of Talking Chop

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

February 26th


Nolan Arenado – Extension

I hope you enjoyed today’s special cookie! It is news like that that really keep us reeled into loving baseball. Arenado is the face of the Rockies, and to some, the face of baseball. Also, it has now surfaced that there should be a correction to my special cookie: Arenado’s extension was 8 years and $255MM; not $260 as in the special cookie.

Miles Mikolas – Extension

Right hander Miles Mikolas has an agreed to a 4 year, $68MM deal that starts after this year is completed, bringing the Cardinals team control to 5 more years. Mikolas has an interesting past. After four seasons in the minors, he broke into the big leagues with the Padres in 2012, but was sub replacement over 32 IP. In 2014 he was with the Rangers, but again, did not perform to the level he would have liked to.

In 2018, he was spectacular for the Cardinals. Turnings in a 3.07 FIP over 200 and two thirds innings, culminating in 4.3 WAR. Since Mikolas has impeccable control, the Cardinals are thinking that his control will not change.

Matt Weiters – Minor League Contract

“The Cardinals have agreed to a minor-league deal with veteran catcher Matt Wieters, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Twitter). Salary terms are not yet known.

While he held out in hopes of securing a MLB commitment, the 32-year-old Wieters will settle instead for a chance to serve as a backup to Yadier Molina. The competition is fairly limited. Francisco Pena seemingly held the edge at the outset of camp after re-joining the organization on a minors pact. Joe Hudson is the only other backstop in camp with MLB experience.” Jeff Todd, MLBTR

Sonny Gray – Scratched from Start

Reds right-hander Sonny Gray, who was scratched from his spring debut due to some elbow stiffness, is expected to throw a bullpen session Thursday, writes MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand. The team’s most notable offseason addition to the rotation, Gray will also throw from flat ground at a distance of 120 feet today, per the Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Fay (Twitter link). Manager David Bell told Feinsand that Gray was initially concerned about the elbow discomfort but is in vastly better spirits and has felt improvement each day since being scratched.

Logan Forsythe – Minor League Deal

Veteran infielder has entered into a minor league pact with the Rangers. Forsythe has spent parts of 9 seasons in the league, culminating in a .309 wOBA and 9.5 WAR.


Stat of the Day – Range Factor (RF)

Range Factor is determined by dividing the sum of a fielder’s putouts and assists by his total number of defensive games played. More recently, Range Factor per nine innings has evolved as the more prevalent statistic because it addresses the discrepancies between a player who plays one inning in a given game and a player who plays the full game.

There are flaws with Range Factor — namely that the circumstances for fielders can vary greatly. With ground-ball pitchers on the mound, for example, an infielder is bound to receive more opportunities to boost his Range Factor. The advent of defensive shifts has affected Range Factor further. For instance, a third baseman who is used frequently in shifts will likely have a higher Range Factor than one who isn’t — even though defensive positioning is generally determined by the manager or bench coach.

Still, Range Factor answers a pivotal question that went long unanswered when fielding percentage was used as the primary evaluative defensive metric: How many plays can a given fielder make? Or, put more simply, how much range does a fielder have?

Origin: Noted sabermetrician Bill James coined Range Factor as a means of assessing a player’s defensive capabilities outside the realm of his fielding percentage. As many now agree, fielding percentage often produces a deeply flawed number, but at the time of James’ invention of Range Factor, fielding percentage was the primary evaluative metric for defenders.

TLDR: Range Factor is a better way to evaluate defense than fielding percentage.

Stat of the Day curtesy by MLB.com

Header Photo curtesy by The Denver Channel

February 23rd

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Craig Kimbrel – Rumor

There have been some contradicting rumors surrounding Kimbrel today. At first there was a tweet by Jim Bowden of The Athletic that stated that Kimbrel’s price was not coming down and that he might consider sitting out a year to get that deal. Just two hours after that tweet came out, Ken Rosenthal of the same company said that he had talked to David Meter (Kimbrel’s agent) and the rumor of him potentially sitting out a year is “utterly false”. Kimbrel has yet to sign a deal and spring training games have already begun.

 

Bryce Harper – Update

According to several Jon Heyman tweets, Harper had meetings with two teams on Saturday, but apparently they got somewhere with the Phillies. Sources say that they will be finalizing a 10-year deal with him on Monday. With Spring Training games already started, I’m sure they want Bryce to get to know his new teammates soon.

 

Hanley Ramirez – Minor League Deal

The Indians have agreed to a minor league deal, pending a physical, with free-agent first baseman Hanley Ramirez, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports.

Cleveland’s the first team for the 35-year-old Ramirez since Boston unceremoniously released him last June 1. Ramirez drew little reported interest after the Red Sox cut ties with him, owing to back-to-back seasons of subpar production at the plate and an inability to add value in the field or on the base paths. Formerly a superstar with the Marlins and a quality player with the Dodgers, Ramirez combined to hit a meager .245/.318/.421 (91 wRC+) with 29 home runs and minus-0.7 fWAR in 748 plate appearances from 2017-18.

 

Jose Martinez – Signed for 2 Years

Jose Martinez is used to being the odd man out in St. Louis, where his inability to play defense has limited his starting opportunities with the Cardinals. Despite effectively serving as a walking trade rumor for most of the last seven months, Martinez remains with the Cardinals — and on Saturday he received a pay bump after agreeing to a two-year deal worth more than $3 million” – CBS Sports

 

 

Jose Iglesias – Minor League Deal

Jose Iglesias has joined the Reds on a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. He could earn $2.5MM if he makes the roster, plus another $1MM based on games played!

“Iglesias, 29, is one of the game’s premier defenders at shortstop and actually had an improved year at the plate in 2018, hitting .269/.310/.389 in 464 plate appearances — good for both a 90 OPS+ and wRC+ (essentially indicating that his bat was about 10 percent worse than that of a league-average hitter after adjusting for his home park and league). For a player with his defensive prowess, that level of offense is more than acceptable, which is why both Fangraphs (2.5) and Baseball-Reference (2.2) both felt that Iglesias was worth more than two wins above replacement last season.” – Steve Adams, MLBTR

 

Kaleb Cowart – Re Claimed by Angels

“The Angels have claimed RHP/IF/OF Kaleb Cowart from the Tigers, per a team release. The 26-year-old Cowart has spent his entire playing career with Los Angeles, but was claimed by both the Mariners and the Tigers earlier this offseason. Right-hander J.C. Ramirez has been placed on the 60-day DL to make room for Cowart on the 40-man roster.

The former first-rounder has worked all over the diamond in his four big-league stints with Los Angeles, appearing at 3B, 2B, SS, 1B, and LF in 2018 alone. Now, like Seattle and Detroit before it, the club has plans to try him as a two-way player.” – Ty Bradley, MLBTR

 

MLB Trade Rumors Minor Roundup: Click HERE


 

Stat of the Day – UZR

UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) is an advanced defensive metric that uses play-by-play data recorded by Baseball Info Solutions (BIS) to estimate each fielder’s defensive contribution in theoretical runs above or below an average fielder at his position in that player’s league and year. Thus, a SS with a UZR of zero is exactly average as compared to a SS in the same year and in the same league. If his UZR is plus, he is above average, and if it is minus, he is below average.

It is similar to offensive linear weights, where each event is assigned a number of runs, or fraction of a run, which is equal to the average value of that event as compared to a generic PA, generally for that year and for that league. With UZR and offensive linear weights a player gets credit for the theoretical value of an event (for UZR, those events are turning a batted ball into an out, allowing a batted ball to drop for a hit, making an error – or a fielder’s choice – that allows the batter to reach base, or making an error that allows a base runner to advance one or more bases) rather than what actually transpired during or subsequent to that event, in terms of any scoring on that play, base runner advances, etc., and regardless of the score or inning of the game.

 

Stat of the Day Curtesy by FanGraphs

Header Photo Curtesy by NBC Sports

February 19th

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Manny Machado – Update

I hope you enjoyed today’s Special Cookie! Manny Machado is one of the largest free agents this game has ever seen. It looks like only one more special cookie will happen this offseason. Machado has signed a 10-year, $300MM Deal with the San Diego Padres. There are now reports coming out that at the end of 2018, Manny’s agent had requested that teams submit their best offer. Apparently they were not pleased with those offers. Only hovering around $250 and 8 years, Manny wanted that elusive $300MM. It only took signing the same week that spring training games start.

Carlos Martinez – Injury

Martinez (Cardinals) has been struggling this this shoulder issue for awhile now. Now, Mark Saxon of The Athletic reports that he will be shut down for two weeks; potentially making him late for opening day. While previous reports point him to being in the bullpen anyway, this is a setback in either regard.

 

Minor League Roundup: Click HERE (MLBTR)


 

Stat of the Day – Barrel

Created by Tom Tango (Twitter Link), the Barrel classification is assigned to batted-ball events whose comparable hit types (in terms of exit velocity and launch angle) have led to a minimum .500 batting average and 1.500 slugging percentage since Statcast was implemented Major League wide in 2015.

But similar to how Quality Starts have generally yielded a mean ERA much lower than the baseline of 4.50, the average Barrel has produced a batting mark and a slugging percentage significantly higher than .500 and 1.500, respectively. During the 2016 regular season, balls assigned the Barreled classification had a batting average of .822 and a 2.386 slugging percentage.

To be Barreled, a batted ball requires an exit velocity of at least 98 mph. At that speed, balls struck with a launch angle between 26-30 degrees always garner Barreled classification. For every mph over 98, the range of launch angles expands.

For example: A ball traveling 99 mph always earns ‘Barreled’ status when struck between 25-31 degrees. Add one more mph — to reach 100 — and the range grows another three degrees, to 24-33.

Every additional mph over 100 increases the range another two to three degrees until an exit velocity of 116 mph is reached. At that threshold, the Barreled designation is assigned to any ball with a launch angle between eight and 50 degrees.

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Note: The red-shaded area in the graphic above illustrates the exit velocity and launch angle combinations that yield Barreled status in 100 percent of cases.

TLDR: A barrel is the perfect combination of LA (Launch Angle) and Exit Velocity which results in damage at an exponentially better rate than a non-barrel

Stat of the Day curtesy of BaseballSavant.com and MLB.com

Header Photo Credit curtesy by Philly.com