A League with No CY?

 

Who will be the American CY Award winner this year? Through 4 months, it is very unclear as to who is the top pitcher in the American League.

Unlike most years, the 2016 campaign has been very interesting, especially in the American League. The A.L. has seen a lot of aces not pitch to their potential. Guys like David Price, last year’s CY Dallas Keuchel, Sunny Gray, and Felix Hernandez have all struggled for extending periods this season. There are only 4 pitchers in the American League that have sub .300 ERA’s. Heading into August, there is no clear-cut favorite for the award. The National League is the complete opposite. In the N.L, there are 15 pitchers with sub 3.00 ERA’s. So let’s take a look at who could be the potential CY in the American League.

First on my list would be Aaron Sanchez of the Toronto Blue Jays. Sanchez is 11-1 with a 2.72 ERA in 20 starts. His WHIP is 1.149 and his K/9 is 7.8. The 24 year-old is getting his first opportunity to pitch as a starter in the big leagues and is quickly becoming the ace of the Toronto staff. The problem with Sanchez is he has an innings limit and most likely will be moved to the pen sometime in the next month. I say let him pitch, monitor how he feels, and throw this innings limit crap out the limit.

Chris Sale is next on my list due to his strong start. He started the season 9-0 and was dominating hitters. Sale has not been the same dominant starter that we saw in the first two months of the season. He had a 3.93 ERA in June and has a 4.85 ERA in July. Despite his recent struggles, he is 14-4 with a 3.17 ERA. He does have a 1.029 WHIP and an 8.6 k/9. Sale will need a good 2 month stretch to secure the CY award.

Danny Salazar would be third on the list. He is quickly becoming one of the top righties in all of baseball and was selected to his first All-Star team this summer. He is 11-3 with a 2.97 ERA in 19 starts and has a 1.205 WHIP and 10.1 K/9. I think Salazar has the best chance to be the CY heading forward because he has been consistent all season long. Also, the Indians are going to be in contention for the A.L. Central which should help his case.

Could Cole Hamels be the guy? He is 12-2 with a 2.84 but I feel like no one talks about him. He is having a very solid season in Texas but he is not dominating. There are three starters that are all having similar seasons. Rick Porcello is having a bounce-back season at 14-2. Chris Tillman is 14-3 for the Orioles. J.A. Happ is 14-3 as well but I don’t think any of these three starters are poised for a CY award. There is still plenty of games left for these pitchers to improve upon their resumes.

The A.L. CY award race is wide open. There is not a favorite as of now to win the CY or a pitcher who has separated himself from the rest of the field. It will be an interesting final two months of the season.

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Bad Start to a Big Deal

 

 

Over the off-season, Jason Heyward signed an 8 year/184 million dollar contract with the Chicago Cubs. At the time of the signing, a lot of reporters liked the deal because adding a player like Heyward to the already loaded Cubs made them look like a World Series favorite. The Cubs are still one of the favorites to win the World Series but I wonder if some would go back on the deal if they could now.

Heyward’s contract was without a question the result of baseball’s growing use of sabermetrics in the sport. Over the past two seasons, Heyward has been a top 10 player in the game when looking at WAR (11.3). Over the same period, he has saved 15 more runs than any other outfielder in baseball (48). Heyward had a solid season last year hitting .293 and had a .359 OBP but the contract is a representation of Heyward as a defensive player as much as it is him as a hitter. Baseball is beginning to not just value what players do at the plate but what they do on the base paths and as fielders. This is not the first time we have seen a player’s contract be reflected by advanced sabermetrics because the Los Angeles Angels’ Andrelton Simmons comes to mind when thinking about a guy who was paid more for his defense than his offense. I am not saying that baseball should not value defense and base-running but I do not believe players should get paid superstar money just because their WAR is off the charts.

If I were to give a player a contract like Heyward, I would expect big time returns. My main focus would not be how many defensive runs saved the player has or his WAR. What I would want is a guy to hit 25+ home runs and drive in 100+ RBI. Now I know RBI are a team statistic and depends where a guy hits in the order but superstar players are expected to put up big time numbers. After Sunday, Heyward is hitting .228/.318/.315 with 4 home runs and 28 RBI. I wanted to throw in the RBI because the Cubs offense is a top offense in baseball and there are plenty of RBI opportunities in that lineup.

Now I will not call the Heyward contract a bust because it has only been 3 and a half months. If I was Theo Epstein and the Cubs, I would be very concerned. Heyward hasn’t really shown signs of coming out of his season long slump. I think the advanced sabermetrics are valuable in today’s game but I do not think they should be used to determine a player’s dollar value.

Potential Hall of Famers

 

 

While I was watching the All-Star game, I was thinking about how many potential Hall of Famers were on both rosters. Now I did not want to get crazy with making outrageous predictions about players who have only been in the league for 2 years so I decided to look at players with at least 5 years of MLB experience. I chose 5 years because Mike Trout and Bryce Harper are two players that I believe could become Hall of Famers and have been in the league for 5 years. So let’s take a look.

  1. David Ortiz: .286/.380/.552                   WAR: 54                               525 Home Runs

The 2016 All-Star game was another part of the David Ortiz farewell tour. The announcers were talking about David Ortiz in the same sentence as Derek Jeter and Mario Rivera as ambassadors of the game. If Ortiz would become a Hall of Famer, he would become the first designated hitter to be elected into the Hall of Fame.  With Big Papi’s regular season numbers and his clutch performances in the playoffs, Ortiz really should be a lock for the Hall of Fame. His 3 World Series titles and 500+ home runs is a hell of a career. Ortiz’s name has come up with steroids so it will be interesting to see how the voters vote for Ortiz in 5 years.

 

  1. Mike Trout: .306/.400/.560                   WAR: 43.6                           2014 MVP

Mike Trout is one of those once in a generation type of players and it is a shame that he plays on the West Coast. If Trout was on the East Coast, he would be one of the most talked about athletes in professional sports. Trout already has an MVP but what is remarkable is in his other 3 full MLB seasons, he was runner up for MVP. The average WAR of a Center Field Hall of Famer is 71.1 and Trout is already over half of the way there and he is only 24. As long as Mr. Trout can stay healthy, he will be a lock for the Hall of Fame.

 

  1. Bryce Harper: .284/.386/.514                   WAR:21.7                            2015 MVP

Harper’s career is off to a great start and he is still only 23.  He was one of those prospects that had outrageous projections and he is actually living up to be a superstar in the big leagues. His MVP last season will not be his last MVP he wins in his career. Trout is a 5 tool player and already has 116 career Home Runs. The average WAR of a Right Field Hall of Famer is 73.2 and Harper is well on his way towards adding his name to the list. Harper will be one of the faces of baseball for the next decade.

 

  1. Buster Posey: .309/.374/.483                   WAR: 31.6                           2012 MVP

In Posey’s first 8 seasons in the big leagues, he is a 3-time World Series champion. Posey is one of those glue guys that seems to hold everything together for a team. He is a fantastic player but he has the intangibles that can turn a good team into a great team. The average WAR of a Hall of Fame catcher is 52.7 and Posey’s career War right now is 31.6. By the time Posey’s career is over, he could be one of the most decorated catchers in MLB history.

 

  1. Jose Altuve: .309/.352/.429                   WAR: 18.4                           949 Hits

The 5’6” second baseman out of Venezuela has turned into one of the best players in all of baseball. Altuve is in his 6th big league season and he seems to get better every season. He has always been one of best average hitters in baseball but he continues to develop power as he is one shy of his career high in home runs at the All-Star break (14). Altuve is only 26 years-old and is only 51 hits shy of 1,000. He is almost a lock for 200+ hits every year and he could be a guy that could chase 3,000 hits towards the end of his career. The average career WAR of a Hall of Fame second baseman is 69.3 and Altuve is almost a third of the way there.

 

  1. Miguel Cabrera: .320/.398/.560                   WAR: 67                               2012-2013 MVP

Miggy could go down as a top 10 right-handed hitter of all-time. He is one of the rare hitters today that can hit for both average and power. In a few seasons, he will try to join both the 500 home run (426) and the 3,000 hit club (2429). His back-to-back MVP seasons were remarkable as he became the first player to hit for the Triple Crown since 1967. The average WAR of a Hall of Fame first baseman is 65.9 and Cabrera has already surpassed that total. Miggy is a lock for Cooperstown.

 

  1. Robinson Cano: .308/.356/.497                   WAR: 59.7                           2129 Hits

At the end of Cano’s career, he could go down as one of the greatest second baseman of all-time. Heading into the break, Cano has 2129 hits and could hit the 3,000 hit mark within the next 5 seasons. Cano did not put up typical Cano-like numbers in his first two seasons in Seattle but has really put together a good first half in the 2016 season. Despite leaving Yankee Stadium where he could have broken records as a second baseman, Cano is only 117 home runs behind Jeff Kent from being the best power-hitting second baseman of all-time. Right now, his WAR would suggest that Cano is already in the Hall of Fame discussion but he has plenty of time to improve his resume.

  1. Carlos Beltran: .281/.354/.492                   WAR: 69.5                           411 Home Runs

Beltran’s Hall of Fame case is an interesting one because I could see both cases being made for Beltran. Some fans would make the case that if he doesn’t get 3,000 hits or 500 home runs, he will come up just short. But Beltran was a top 5 outfielder in baseball from 2001-2008. I am not a huge fan of the advanced metrics of baseball but I think Beltran is a case where they really make sense. His WAR puts him in the discussion because his WAR is better than some members in Cooperstown. His JAWS is 56.9, which puts him right around the average of Hall of Fame center fielders. Beltran could continue to play a year or two to improve his Hall of Fame numbers but in my opinion, he deserves a spot in Cooperstown.

  1. Clayton Kershaw: 125-58, 2.39 ERA               WAR: 51.9                           2014 MVP

There is no question that Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball and I believe he is the best pitcher we have seen since Pedro Martinez. It seems like every year he gets better and he is still only 28 years-old. His 3 CY awards puts him with some of the all-time greats like Koufax, Maddux, Seaver, and Palmer. Anytime you are mentioned with that company, you are doing something right. The only thing that is missing from Kershaw’s resume is the postseason success. He is 2-6 with a 4.59 ERA in the postseason but I think it is just a matter of time before regular season Kershaw shows up in the playoffs. If Kershaw never pitched again in the big leagues, he would be a Hall of Famer in my book.

  1. Cole Hamels: 130-93, 3.31 ERA               WAR: 47.6                                           2009 WS MVP

Hamels has had a fantastic career and has been an ace for the majority of his career. He has been a reliable pitcher as he throws 200+ innings almost every season. The case for Hamels to be a future Hall of Famer is the longevity of his success and his WS MVP in 2008. But his highest finish in the CY award was 5th. I believe a Hall of Fame pitcher should have a few years where he dominates and has at least 1 CY award. Hamels is still a really good pitcher and has time to improve his resume.

  1. Jon Lester 136-83, 3.52 ERA               WAR: 37.6           2-time World Series Champion

Lester is in a very similar situation as Hamels. Like Hamels, Lester has been a reliable pitcher who has thrown 200+ innings all but once since he has become a regular starter in the big leagues. His numbers are solid but they are not dominating numbers like a guy like Kershaw. What Lester does have is consistent numbers over a 9 year period and he has postseason success. He played huge role in his second World Series title as he threw 15 innings in the World Series and was 2-0 and only gave up 1 run.  Lester will need to put together 4-5 solid seasons to be in the discussion as a Hall of Famer.

  1. Madison Bumgarner 95-62, 2.93 ERA                 WAR: 24.3           3-time World Series Champion

Bumgarner is right up there with Clayton Kershaw as the top left-hander in baseball. Bumgarner seems to be getting better each season and heading into the break has a 1.94 ERA in 19 starts. What makes Bumgarner so special is his dominance in the postseason. The Giants win the World Series every two years and he gets a lot of opportunities to shine when the lights shine the brightest. His career numbers in the playoffs are 7-3 with a 2.14 ERA but he went 2-0 with 21 innings pitched and 1 earned run in the 2014 World Series. My only concern with Bumgarner is what will his stuff be like in 5 year? His arm slot is very strange and his velocity is already starting to decline. But right now, Bumgarner’s career is off to a great start.

One of the reasons I love the midsummer classic so much is due to the fact that I get the opportunity to watch the game’s best players on the same field. The 2016 All-Star was a treat to watch with many special players.

Seizing Up the A.L. East

 

 

Heading into the All-Star break, the American League East appears to be a three team race but every team has a serious flaw. The winner of the division will have to make moves before the deadline in 3 weeks.

Let’s start with the division leading Baltimore Orioles. Heading into the break, the Orioles are 51-36 and have a 2 game lead ahead of the Red Sox and the Blue Jays. The top three teams in the A.L. East rank number 1, 2, and 3 in the American League in Runs scored. The Orioles are third with 438 Runs. What the Orioles do best is hit Home Runs and they lead the majors with 135. Five players in the Baltimore lineup have double digit Home Runs and two have 9. Buck Showalter is a genius with controlling a bullpen and he has a good one. The Orioles have the 3rd best bullpen in baseball when looking at ERA with a 3.14 ERA and are anchored by one of the most underrated pitchers in all of baseball in Zach Britton. The flaw of the Baltimore Orioles is their starting rotation. Their starting rotation has the 3rd worst ERA in all of baseball (5.21) and have thrown the fewest innings in all of baseball (463). The inability of the starters to pitch deep into games means that the bullpen is being overused and a tired bullpen is not something that Showalter will want to have come September. Besides Tillman, no other pitcher has a sub 4.00 ERA. If the Orioles want to finish the season on top, they will have to add at least 1 starting pitcher.

The Toronto Blue Jays are tied for second in the division with Boston and have played well in their last 30 games going 19-11. The Blue Jays offense struggled for the first 6 weeks of the season but woke up and now have scored the 2nd most runs in the American League (441). The most surprising part about this team has been their starting rotation, which has been the best in the American League (3.66 ERA). They have thrown the most innings in all of baseball (572), and that is without last year’s ace David Price. The only part about this team that I do not like is the bullpen. Roberto Osuna has been very good this season converting 18 of 20 saves but the guys leading up to Osuna are the problem. As a whole, the Toronto Blue Jays have blown 12 saves this season. Drew Storen, Jessie Chavez, Gaven Floyd, and Brett Cecil have all struggled this season. Only Joe Biagini (2.91 ERA) has pitched well this season. The Blue Jays need to go out and get a set-up guy before the deadline.

The Boston Red Sox are tied for 2nd in the division and Dave Dombrowski has already been aggressive to improve this ball club. They acquired Aaron Hill and Michael Martinez to sure up baseball’s best offense in baseball (486 runs). They also acquired Brad Ziegler from the Arizona Diamondbacks to help the bullpen survive the next couple of weeks without their All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel. The starting rotation is a real problem for this organization has they only have 3 legitimate starters. Steven Wright may be the most surprising pitcher in all of baseball as he has the lowest ERA in the American League (2.68). Rick Porcello is 11-2 and David Price has had good and bad stretches but is heading into the All-Star break with 8 innings of shutout ball today against the Rays. After that, who knows who will be in the rotation? Eduardo Rodriguez, Sean O’Sullivan, Clay Buchholz, and Henry Owens are possible options but have all struggled this year. The Red Sox have a deep farm system and Dombrowski will have to deal a solid prospect if they want to compete for a division title.

The most interesting team in the American League East is the New York Yankees. They enter the break at .500 with a 44-44 record. Every time the Yankees look to be ready to take off, they have a 4 or 5 game losing streak that eventually takes them 2 weeks to get back to .500. Yankee fans must be frustrated. The Yankees could become sellers this trade deadline and deal Chapman, Miller, and Beltran. But this is the Yankees we are talking about and they never wave the white flag. Besides their bullpen, the Yankees are a weak team. Their rotation (4.81 ERA) and their offense (24th in runs) have been inconsistent all season. Baseball Prospectus ranks the Yankees farm system as the 16th farm system in baseball. In order to compete for the division, they will have to sell the few prospects that they do have to stabilize their rotation and lineup. The Yankees have not had a complete rebuild in 25+ years and I think this would be the ideal time to rebuild and regroup.

The Tampa Bay Rays are in the cellar of the American League East and they can look to their last 30 games as to why they will be sellers at the deadline. Over the past month, the Rays are 8-22 and head into the break with a 6 game losing streak. In the Month of July, the Rays are 1-8 and are averaging 2.5 runs per game. The Rays are always known for their starting pitching but this year it has not dominated like it normally has in the past. I really thought that Chris Archer was turning into one of the game’s best pitchers but he has really struggled this season as he already has 12 losses. The Rays could be able to deal potential trade chips like Alex Colome and Logan Forsythe. The 2017 rebuild of the Tampa Bay Rays should start to begin now.

If I had to predict who would win the division right now, I would go with the Toronto Blue Jays. Good starting pitching and a good offense can hide the lack of bullpen depth that they currently have right now. The Red Sox and Orioles both have major starting pitching problems and unless those problems are fixed, it is difficult to imagine either of them being able to maintain consistency when the games become more important. Expect all 3 of these teams to be active during the trade deadline. It should be a fun race that goes deep into September.

The Red Sox Cannot Develop Pitching.

 

 

Being a Red Sox fan this season has been frustrating to say the least. The team is loaded with young stars and their offense seems to score double digit runs every night. It is awesome to watch but at the same time, it is very painful due to their pitching. As of today, the Red Sox starters as a whole have a 4.52 ERA and right now cannot fill a 5 man rotation. They are currently going into the All-Star break with a 4 man rotation and one of those 4 starters is journeyman Sean O’Sullivan.

The struggling rotation and the lack of success from their young pitchers that have come up through the system got me thinking about how the organization’s top pitching prospects have performed over the past 10 years. The Red Sox have produced star position players like Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Travis Shaw.  Right now, Clay Buchholz is the only starter in the rotation on the Red Sox that was developed in the Red Sox farm system and even he has been booted from the rotation twice this year. So let’s take a look.

  1. Clay Buchholz:

Buchholz debuted in 2007 and saw immediate success as he threw a no-hitter in his 2nd big league start. Buchholz has been a solid pitcher and had a nice season the year the Sox won the World Series in 2013. But injuries have always been a major concern and have limited his success. Career numbers: 76-60, 4.00 ERA

  1. Michael Bowden:

Remember this guy? He was one of Boston’s top pitching prospects for a few years and only made 2 starts in his entire career before getting moved to the pen. He only lasted a few seasons in the majors and he never threw over 40 innings in a season. Career numbers: 3-5, 4.51 ERA

  1. Justin Masterson:

Masterson had a good start to his MLB career as he was a nasty reliever for the Sox before getting traded to Cleveland in the Victor Martinez trade. Masterson became a starter for Cleveland but only have a sub 4.00 ERA twice with the Indians. His strange arm angle saw his velocity dip and injuries have always been a question for this guy. Career numbers: 64-74, 4.31 ERA

  1. Daniel Bard:

This guy was a stud for Boston. When he was used as a setup guy, he was looking like he was going to be one of the best bullpen arms in baseball for a long time. Boston saw him as a starter and tried to make him one but the experiment failed miserably. Bard forgot how to throw strikes and found himself out of baseball 2 years after being a dominate reliever. Career numbers: 10-19, 3.67 ERA

  1. Casey Kelly:

Kelly was a 1st round draft pick for the Red Sox in the 2008 draft and a top pitching prospect in their system that was viewed as a potential front of the rotation starter. He was traded from Boston to San Diego in the Adrian Gonzalez deal and never turned into anything. He has never thrown more than 30 innings. Career numbers: 2-8, 6.39 ERA

  1. Anthony Ranaudo:

This is a guy who I really liked but his stuff was just average. Boston gave him a shot but could not get big league hitters out consistently and eventually was traded to Texas. Like Kelly, he has never thrown more than 40 innings in a season. Career numbers: 5-4, 6.33 ERA.

  1. Brandon Workman:

Workman was an important bullpen piece when the Red Sox won the World Series in 2013 but then they tried to make him a starter. The following season, he went 1-10 as a starter before going down with TJ surgery. He just made his first appearance since surgery in the minors the other day. Career numbers: 7-13, 5.11 ERA.

  1. Felix Doubront:

I might have been Doubront’s biggest fan. I thought he had the stuff to be a good number 3 starter in the big leagues and in his first full season it looked like that could have been true as he had a sub 4.00 ERA and 10 wins before the All-Star break. Doubront had a decent year with the Sox the year they won the World Series but he seemed to struggle every year at the end of the year. Fatigue seemed to catch up with him. His velocity dropped significantly since his rookie year and he could no longer get hitters out and was traded to the Cubs for a bucket of balls. Career numbers: 31-26, 4.89 ERA.

  1. Allen Webster:

Webster was acquired in the deal that gave the Red Sox new life as they sent Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto to the Dodgers. Webster showed he had a great arm and good stuff but he struggled to control any of his pitches that led to a 4.9 BB/9 ratio for his career. Webster always seemed like he was overwhelmed on the mound and it looked like the bright lights where too much for him. Career numbers: 7-6, 6.13 ERA.

 

Now it is extremely difficult to draft and develop pitchers in professional baseball. There are so many uncertainties when it comes to starting pitchers. Health is by far the biggest question mark but it is almost impossible to predict how a high school pitcher who dominates at the high school level will match up against major league hitters. Now I want to look at some of the current arms in the organization and see if they could turn out to be something rather than nothing.

 

  1. Matt Barnes:

A first round draft pick out of Connecticut in the 2011 draft was thought of as a potential front end starter but early in his minor league career he struggled to get deep into games. Barnes really struggled to throw his off speed pitches consistently for strikes. The Red Sox told him what he needed to work on and that he would be a member of the bullpen rather than a rotation option. This season Barnes has been a valuable piece to the Sox bullpen and is now being considered for high leverage situations. This season: 3.07 ERA, 8.8 K/9.

  1. Henry Owens:

Owens is a frustrating pitcher to watch because he can get hitters out if he throws strikes. Owens cruised through rookie ball all the way up to AA before running into trouble with his control. This season, his 9.5 BB/9 ratio does not even give him a chance in games to succeed. Unless Owens is able to correct his mechanics to throw more strikes, he looks like a left-handed specialist rather than a number 3 or 4 in the rotation.

  1. Trey Ball:

Ball was a first round pick out of high school in the 2013 draft and at the time the Red Sox could have made him a position player or pitcher. They elected to make him a pitcher and the results early were rough. He could not throw strikes for the first few years of his minor league career but this season is having a breakout year in A+ with a 3.36 ERA. The concern with Ball is while his ERA is more than a run less than last year, his WHIP is exactly the same at 1.403. That is a number that will have to come down if he plans to move up in the minors and be taken seriously in the future. The jury is still out on this guy.

  1. Eduardo Rodriguez:

Rodriguez was a steal in a deal that sent Andrew Miller to the Orioles. E-Rod has a great arm but is learning how to pitch at the big league level. Not an easy thing to do. He saw success in his rookie season going 10-6 with a 3.85 ERA but he did not show signs of a third pitch at all and there were issues with tipping pitches. He ran into some bad luck in Spring Training as he injured his knee in PFP’s and missed the first 5 weeks of the season. This year, Rodriguez still has no third pitch and is getting smoked. He is 1-3 with an 8.59 ERA. He has a lot of work to do in the minors to be relied on for the next few years as a stable piece of the Red Sox rotation. But I like this kid a lot.

  1. Anderson Espinoza:

Espinoza is the kid I am looking forward to the most in the next few years if he is still a part of the organization. He is only 18 years out of Venezuela but has a terrific arm. He is consistently in the mid to upper 90’s and has a really good curveball. Some scouts are projected him to be a front end starter and that is why he has earned the honor of being the Red Sox second ranked prospect according to baseball prospectus. A lot to like about this kid.

 

I do believe that the current pitching prospects in the system have the opportunity to turn into good starting pitchers but the track record is not promising. Young prospects are always a gamble. Only time will tell if these players become what some scouts predict them to be.

Recapping the 1st Half

 

July 4th weekend marks the halfway point in the season and I wanted to look at the top stories of the first half and going into the second half and reveal my first half awards.

  1. The division races are not close. The American League East is the only division that is separated by less than 5 games. Two division already see the leaders with at least an 8 game lead. I believe the second half will see two more races become close like the A.L East. I would be surprised if the American League East did not come down to the final week of the season because every team in the division has a serious flaw. Right now the Nationals have a 5.5 game lead in the National League East but both the Nationals and the Mets have been streaky this season. The Mets have a dynamic pitching rotation that has not quite clicked this season and are due to make a run. The other division that I think is still up for grabs is the American League Central. The Indians used a 14 game win streak to propel themselves into first place but Detroit and Kansas City are still in striking range to make a push at the division.
  2. Clayton Kershaw’s health. This week Kershaw went on the disabled list with a herniated disk in his back and will likely be out until after the all-star break. Kershaw may be the most valuable player in all of baseball. When he pitches, the Dodgers are 14-2. When he is sitting in the dugout, the Dodgers are 33-35. I do not like their rotation besides Kershaw. Kenta Maeda has had a strong first half with a 2.82 ERA but the more games he pitches, the more scouting reports teams can build against him. In my opinion, their rotation is full of 4 and 5 starters. If Kershaw is not healthy in the second half, the Dodgers could easily find themselves out of the wild card race.
  3. The trade deadline will be interesting. This year there are so many teams that are already out of contention. That means that there could be more teams that are willing to trade some of their trade chips than most seasons. There will not be any aces on the trade deadline but guys like Rich Hill, Julio Tehran, and Sunny Gray could help some rotations if teams are willing to part with prospects. A lot of chips will depend on the New York Yankees and if they decide to become sellers at the deadline. Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman could help bolster some bullpens like the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers. Some hitters that could be dealt are Melvin Upton, Ryan Braun, Jonathan Lucroy, and Carlos Beltran. I also think the Minnesota Twins would be smart to listen to offers on Eduardo Nunez. Nunez is having a huge season and is hitting .322/.348/.491 with 11 home runs and 18 stolen bases. The Twins are having a disappointing season and should be trying to restock for the next few seasons.
  4. 1st half Award Winners:

 

A.L. ROY: Nomar Mazara: .287/.337/.433

A.L. CY: Chris Sale: 14-2, 2.93 ERA, 8.9 K/9

A.L. MVP: Jose Altuve:

N.L. ROY: Corey Seager: .303/.362/.536

N.L CY: Clayton Kershaw: 11-2, 1.79 ERA, 10.8 K/9

N.L MVP: Kris Bryant: .277/.367/.564, 23 HR

 

In my pre-season picks, I took the Giants over the Rangers in the World Series. I feel pretty confident about that pick at the midway point in the season.

Why Not Colorado?

 

 

Sometime in May I read an article that the Colorado Rockies should make a deal for a pitcher because at the time, every team in the division was at .500 or worse. Of course the Rockies did not make a deal but I think they should still make a deal. I understand the Rockies are currently 37-42 and the San Francisco Giants seem to be in control of the N.L. West as they have a 6 game lead and a 12.5 game lead over the Rockies. I am not saying the Rockies should sell their future for one pitcher to try and make a 1 game playoff. That would not be a smart move for a small market team. I do think there is a way to make a move that would improve the current team and the future of the Colorado organization.

It is obvious that pitching in Colorado is no walk in the park. The ball just flies out of Coors Field. The Rockies have the worst home ERA in baseball at 6.37. It is amazing that their home record is 18-20. When you are running out guys like Chad Bettis (5.84 ERA), Jorge De La Rosa (5.98 ERA) and Eddie Butler (6.96 ERA), you cannot expect to win games no matter how good your offense is. I do like Tyler Chatwood despite his ability to stay healthy and Jon Gray has shown he has ability this season. But teams cannot expect to win when two out of their five pitchers give them a chance to win. So why shouldn’t the Rockies make a move?

Many people would say that the Rockies should be rebuilding and not making moves that would signal to go for it this season and part of me does agree with that point of view. But what if the Rockies made a deal for Julio Tehran? What about Zach Wheeler? Yes, the argument could be made that none of those guys have shown to be successful every five days in Colorado. But both Tehran and Wheeler, when Wheeler is healthy, have shown to be good Major League pitchers and are much better than the pitchers the Rockies are sending out on a nightly basis. What a deal for Tehran and Wheeler would do is not only improve this year’s ball club but it would benefit the future of the organization because both pitchers would be under team control. That is the type of deal that I think the Rockies should be looking to make. It does not have to be Tehran or Wheeler but a pitcher that could help the team now and one that is under team control for a few more seasons.

I think it is easy to assume that no big name pitcher that enters the free agent market is going to sign with the Rockies. The Rockies do not have the money to sign a big time free agent and what pitcher would want to make Coors Field his home field? If the Rockies are going to add to their rotation, it will have to come via a trade. Colorado hopes that Jon Gray can turn into a reliable frontend starter and pitching prospects Jeff Hoffman and Antonio Senzatela turn into something. But relying on prospects to completely fix a rotation is risky and not an effective strategy. What is going on in Flushing with the Mets is an anomaly and will not happen in Colorado. Eventually the Rockies are going to have to try and make a move to boost their rotation if they want to compete for an N.L. West title.

The Rockies are the top offense in the National League and are led by Superstar Nolan Arenado. Their lineup is loaded with a supporting cast of Carlos Gonzalez, D.J. LeMahieu, Charlie Blackmon, and Trevor Story. Offense is never the problem for the Rockies. My fear for Colorado is they are going to waste the prime years of Arenado to try and build for the future. Arenado will be a free agent in 2020 and will not be cheap when he is finally able to get paid. The Rockies should not be building for three years down the road but should be building to get the most out of Nolan Arenado’s prime years.