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 6


Jose Leclerc – Extension

In what some could say the steal of the offseason, the Rangers have extended closer Jose Leclerc to a four year deal. The four year pact will only be worth $14.75MM, and the Rangers have two option years of $6MM in 2023 and $6.25MM in 2024. This contract is the definition of “team friendly.” Leclerc had a breakout season in 2018 having a minuscule 1.56 ERA (1.9 FIP) over 57.2 IP. If he can keep that up, it could be the deal of the century: Kimbrel (who had almost double the ERA in 2018,  but has the history) is reportedly asking for more than that per year, but admittedly has the history behind him.

Steven Wright – Suspended for PEDs

Red Sox knuckleballer has been suspended 80 games, without pay, for testing positive for a growth hormone (GHRP-2). While in his press conference today, he bluntly told the media that he did not knowingly take it; once he heard of the failed test, he appealed it. He then went on to say that he does not have any evidence that he did not take it. Wright had be rehabbing from a knee surgery that limited him to only 53 innings in 2018. Wright has had some great numbers while in Boston. In 2016, Wright had a 3.33 ERA as a starter and some where talking about him starting the All-Star game.

Bryce Harper – Potential Tampering

[Bryce Harper just launched his tenure as the Phillies’ biggest star, but he’s already considering how to use his gravitational pull to the team’s advantage. In an interview yesterday with Philadelphia SportsRadio 94WIP, Harper made clear he intends to help the Phils land another big fish in free agency:

“If you don’t think I’m gonna call Mike Trout to come to Philly in 2020, you’re crazy.”

That comment was sufficient to spur the Angels to raise the matter with Major League Baseball, Maria Torres of the Los Angeles Times reports. The league has been in touch with both teams and is looking into the matter, per ESPN.com’s Jeff Passan (Twitter link). Unsurprisingly, “significant discipline” is not anticipated.] – Jeff Todd, MLBTR

CC Sabathia – Not Ready

Yankee manager Aaron Boone told the media today that CC Sabathia will not be ready for the start of the season. Bryan Hoch of MLB.com had this quote:

“He had his second ’pen that went well [on Wednesday],” Boone said of Sabathia, who got a late start to Spring Training following offseason knee surgery and an angioplasty. “I certainly don’t expect him for the start of the season. It may be a couple of weeks in, if everything keeps going according to plan.”




Stat of the Day – Game Score

[Game Score measures a pitcher’s performance in any given game started. Introduced by Bill James in the 1980s and updated by fellow sabermetrician Tom Tango in 2014, Game Score is presented as a figure between 0-100 — except for extreme outliers — and usually falls between 40-70.

A Game Score of 50 is considered “average,” while a Game Score of 40 is deemed to be “replacement level.” Game Scores in the 80s and 90s are widely regarded as impressive, and scores of at least 100 are exceptionally rare. Using Tango’s formula, which is the version displayed on MLB.com, only nine of the 4,858 games started in 2015 resulted in Game Scores of 100-plus.

A Game Score is derived by factoring the quality (based on runs, hits, HR, walks, strikeouts) and quantity (innings) of a starting pitcher’s performance] – MLB.com

TLDR: Game score is a great way to have a quick glance at a starter’s performance to see how well he did. Using it: 40 is not great, 70 is a great start.

Stat of the Day curtesy of MLB.com

Header Photo Curtesy of Sportsnet

March 3rd


Zack Granite – Traded

“The Rangers have acquired outfielder Zack Granite from the Twins for minor league pitcher Xavier Moore and cash, Phil Miller of the Star Tribune tweets. Texas has placed outfielder Scott Heineman on the 60-day injured list to create 40-man room for Granite, per a team announcement.

The 26-year-old Granite had been in limbo in Minnesota since Feb. 25, when the club designated him for assignment after signing free agent Marwin Gonzalez. Granite had been a member of the Twins since they used a 14th-round pick on him in 2013. The fleet-of-foot Granite was successful at times during his tenure with the Minnesota organization, including during a 56-steal season with its Double-A affiliate in 2016 and an outstanding offensive campaign (.336/.392/.475 in 313 plate appearances) with its Triple-A team in 2017.” – Connor Byrne, MLBTR

Vladimir Guerrero Jr – Prospect Watch

Today in a normal Blue Jays-Yankee matchup, phenom Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Son of hall of famer Vladimir Guerrero Sr.) hit a double off the LF wall. Nothing special, right? Watch how effortless this swing is:

Vlad Jr. has crazy power. Some evaluators have him hitting 40+ homers his rookie season. He just one handed a low pitch almost out.

Bobby Wahl – Torn ACL

“When your pitching plan revolves around the bullpen, depth is important, and the Brewers lost an important depth reliever Friday afternoon. Hard-throwing righty Bobby Wahl managed to tear the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while throwing a pitch … A baseball player tearing his ACL is not all that uncommon in and of itself. In Wahl’s case, he managed to tear it while throwing a pitch, which is extreme rare. How rare? On Sunday Brewers GM David Stearns told reporters, including Fox Sports Wisconsin’s Sophie Minnaert, that Wahl is only the third pitcher in MLB‘s central injury database to tear the ACL in his push-off knee. This injury is one of the rarest in baseball history.” – Mike Axisa, CBS Sports




Stat of the Day – WPA

WPA (Win Probability Added) quantifies the percent change in a team’s chances of winning from one event to the next. It does so by measuring the importance of a given plate appearance in the context of the game. For instance: a homer in a one-run game is worth more than a homer in a blowout.

As an example: When Josh Donaldson came to the plate in the bottom of the ninth on May 26, 2015, the Blue Jays trailed by two and had men on second and third with no one out. That gave them a 43-percent win expectancy. After Donaldson’s walk-off homer, their win expectancy jumped to 100 percent. Because Donaldson boosted the Blue Jays’ chances of winning by 57 percent, his WPA for that plate appearance was 0.57.

A player’s WPA can also be affected on the basepaths. It will increase if he steals a base but decrease if he is caught stealing or picked off.

WPA should not be used as an indicator of future performance. But WPA is a fantastic “story stat” — meaning it does a good job of putting context to what has already happened. Its best use is for deciphering the impact of a specific player or play on a game’s outcome.

TLDR: WPA gives the number of how a specific play contributed positively or negatively to winning the game.

Stat of the Day Curtesy of MLB.com

Header Photo Curtesy of Zimbio

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 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 4th

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Photo by SB Nation

MAJOR NEWS:

Steve Delabar retires

After 6 seasons in the Major leagues Steve Delabar has announced his retirement. Although he hasn’t filed the proper paperwork, on the Outta the Park show Steve said he is now pursuing a different path as a high school baseball coach. Steve made one All-Star squad, but some might remember a 2017 PED suspension.  Steve ends his career with 194.2 IP with a 4.11 FIP.

David Carpenter to the Rangers via Kyle Boddy

Via Kyle Boddy on twitter, David Carpenter has been signed by the Texas Rangers to a minor league deal. Driveline Baseball’s Kyle Boddy reported it as Carpenter has been revamping himself at said facility. After Bauer did the same, he was in the running for the Cy Young award until he was hurt. Carpenter may be someone to put on your watch-list.

NEWEST RUMORS

Jacoby Ellsbury

Buster Olney has reported that the San Francisco Giants have “talked about” a trade involving the injury prone center fielder. As the seriousness is still unknown by the teams, it would be an interesting move by the Giants. While Ellsbury has upside, he did not play in 2018, and missed 50 games in 2017. Considering the large contracts the Giants already have on the books for 2019, one would wonder if they can afford another.

MINOR NEWS

A.J. Cole

After the Indians claimed the righty from the Yankees on Jan. 11, his future is now uncertain yet again. A.J. Cole has been designated for assignment. Since he is out of options, the claiming team will have to put him on their major league roster, or try to pass him through waivers.

Nick Wittgren

The Marlins have sent Nick Wittgren to the Indians for Jordan Milbrath. After a solid year (3.63 FIP over 63 IP combined) In AAA and the majors, it was a shock when the Marlins DFA’d him last week. It could be a solid pickup for the Indians. He has spent the past 3 years on the shuttle between the Marlins and AAA New Orleans.

Austin Brice

The Marlins have claimed Austin Brice off waivers and at the same time, DFA Isaac Galloway. Austin Brice, RHP, goes back to the team who drafted him in the ninth round in 2010. After being with the Reds in 2018, he was claimed by the Angels in November, Orioles in January and now the Marlins. Galloway did have his major league debut this past year, but with only a 94 wRC+ apparently he didn’t impress.

Francisco Liriano

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that Liriano has signed a minor-league deal with the Pirates. After 13 seasons (Three and a half of which with the Pirates), the veteran is now trying to prove himself for another year. With $1.8MM base salary if he indeed does make the Major League roster, and $1.5MM in potential bonuses, the Pirates add a low risk player. While he is assuredly looking at the rotation as his landing spot, it is quite full. Pirates however do lack in lefty bullpen help.

Jerry Blevins

Journeyman Jerry Blevins has an inked deal that will take him to Oakland. It is currently a minor league contract, with $1.5MM on the table if he makes the majors. This will be his second stint with the club, after making his debut and 7 seasons with the A’s he is back. Getting up there in age at 35, he is trying to use pitcher friendly O.co Stadium to his advantage to bounce back from a subpar 2018 season.

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