Where Have You Gone, Juan Lagares?

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Having not started 4 of the last 5 games, Mets fans have begun to wonder, what has happened to Juan Lagares? When Lagares returned from the disabled list on May 1st, speculation began about how the Mets would divide the playing time in the outfield among Lagares, Curtis Granderson, Chris Young, Eric Young Jr., and Bobby Abreu. Terry Collins made it quite clear that Lagares was his center fielder and it seemed that Young Jr. was the odd man out. Lagares had a big series in Colorado, going 8-20 with four doubles, three runs scored, and two runs batted in. The next day in Miami, Lagares was on the bench with Collins’ citing the need to rest Lagares’ hamstring as the reason he inserted Bobby Abreu in the lineup. Since then, Lagares has struggled with the bat, going 5-27 (.185). But slumps happen to even the best of hitters, and what Lagares is able to bring to the table defensively still makes him a valuable, everyday guy in the Mets lineup. Instead of giving the promising outfielder everyday playing time, Terry Collins and the Mets have put the 25 year old on the bench, only starting one game this week. To put that in perspective, 40 year old Booby Abreu has two starts this week. 

I don’t get it. I have tried to understand where Collins is coming from but I do not understand. The Mets look to have what appears to be a center fielder in Lagares that can be part of the solution. Defensively, besides Carlos Gomez, there might not be a better defensive center field in the National League. Instead, Collins insists on playing the likes of Eric Young Jr., Chris Young, and Bobby Abreu. And this is not to say that these three guys can’t help the Mets win. Eric Young Jr. can be your primary left fielder, batting leadoff and bringing speed to the lineup (though I do not think Young Jr.’s OBP is high enough to bat leadoff every day on a winning team). Chris Young can give all three of the outfielders a day off here and there and play against lefties, who he has hit well against in his career (career .833 OPS vs. lefties compared to a career .709 OPS vs. righties). And Abreu can be a valuable bat off the bench in late innings, getting one start every two weeks or so. Instead, it is Lagares who is getting the occasional start. How are the Mets going to be able to find out if Lagares can be part of the core going forward without throwing him out there everyday, whether he is hitting or not, for 150 games?

In today’s New York Post, Mike Vacarro wrote an article titled, The latest example of Mets stupidity? Sitting Juan Lagares. In the article, Vacarro brings up several good points as to why Lagares should be playing, which include:

“Lagares isn’t hitting .236 (as Eric Young is) or .220 (as Chris Young is) or .240 (as Bobby Abreu is, after two walks and a single) or .189 (as Curtis Granderson is). He sits at .296, 56 points higher than any of the options Collins has utilized in those four Lagares-free lineups.”

AND

“Lagares did not start in either of those shutouts against the Yankees.”

The last point that I highlighted above is the one that makes no sense. Before last night’s game against the Nationals, Terry said that his lineup, which did not include Lagares, was about putting more offense on the field, giving the Mets the best chance to score runs  and the he was more concerned about offense than defense. Well Lagares has been the Mets best option in the outfield BOTH offensively and defensively. In addition, when your team is struggling offensively, it makes it even more imperative that you are strong in the other areas of the game, like pitching and defense, so that you give yourself a chance to keep it close and hope that you get a couple runs across. Instead the Mets make themselves weaker defensively by sitting Lagares. And what happens last night? The Mets have a number of early defensive miscues that allow the Nationals to get out early, all but putting the Mets away until the last at bat of the game. One of those defensive miscues came on Eric Young Jr. missing the cut on his home throw, allowing both runners on base to advance. It should be noted that Young Jr.’s overthrow was his second defensive miscue of the week that has cost the Mets runs. A .329 OBP will not make up for the defensive miscues.

When Matt Harvery went down in the second half of the season last year, the hope that 2014 would be the year the Mets get back to the postseason all but went away and it became all about 2015. This season should be about being competitive and learning how to win and putting a full season together without completely falling apart in the second half. But it should be done with getting your prospects experience. It should be done evaluating if certain players can be everyday player going forward. It should be done playing your best players as often as possible. Juan Lagares has been one of the best players on the Mets this year. It is time to start treating him like one. So Terry Collins, Sandy Alderson, and anyone else making decisions inside the Mets, it is time to #FreeJuanLagares.

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Top 3 Match-ups this Weekend

  1. Detroit Tigers @ Boston Red Sox

Friday : Scherzer (5-1) vs. Lester (4-4)     7:10

Saturday: Porcello (6-0) vs. Lackey (5-2)  7:10

Sunday: Sanchez (0-2) vs. Peavy (1-1)     8:05

A rematch of last year’s ALCS should be an excellent series. Friday and Saturday will be excellent pitching match-ups as baseball’s best team challenges the defending World Series champions.

 

  1. Atlanta Braves @ St. Louis Cardinals

Friday: Santana (4-0) vs. Lynn (4-2)          8:15

Saturday: Harang (4-3) vs. Miller (5-2)       2:15

Sunday: Floyd (0-1) vs. Garcia (0-0)          2:15

These two teams should be competing for their division titles all season long and I expect both to be in the playoffs. St. Louis has yet to find their stride and Atlanta has been up and down all season. Look for a tough series with a lot of strikeouts.

 

  1. New York Mets @ Washington Nationals

Friday: Niese (2-2) vs. Roark (2-1)             7:05

Saturday: Colon (2-5) vs. TBD                    4:05

Sunday: Wheeler (1-3) vs. TBD                  1:35

Besides the Braves, everyone is hovering around the .500 mark in the N.L. East. The Mets have been one of the surprise teams and are coming off a split in the Subway Series. The Nationals are coming off a series win at Arizona and look to continue to win series.

Early Season Thoughts

I know it has been a long time since we have posted anything. I have been busy writing college papers and now that it is finally ending, I can finally get back to thinking about baseball. Ty has no excuse for his absence.

Here are my top 6 thoughts about the first month and a half of the season.

  1. Mediocrity Throughout Baseball.

Entering today, 19 teams have a record between 3 games over .500 and 3 games below .500. For as long as I can remember, I do not remember so many average baseball teams to start a season like this year. It’s only May but it is beginning to look like 85 wins may win the A.L. East. So far, I do not think there is one dominant team. Every team has flaws and I think everyone will try to improve their club if the opportunity presents itself.

 

  1.  Watching Some of the Game’s Greats 

There is no doubt that Derek Jeter and Albert Pujols are two of the best players that this game has seen. Jeter has started his farewell tour and is beginning to play like the Jeter of old. He is 9 for his last 27 over his last 7 games. I think no matter whom your favorite team is you want to see Jeter go out on a strong season. Albert Pujols seems like he is close to the player he was back in St. Louis. He looks healthy and he already has 10 Home Runs in the young season. And he joined the 500 Home Run club earlier this season.

 

  1. Too Many TJ Surgeries

Tommy John surgeries have not only depleted pitching staffs, but it has become an epidemic throughout the entire game. So many young and talented pitchers are going down and it is devastating to the game of baseball. People want to go see the best players play and right now too many of them are on the 60 day DL.  Patrick Corbin, Matt Moore, Brandon Beachy, Kris Medlen, and now Jose Fernandez are just some of the top pitchers who have torn their ulnar collateral ligaments. Something has to be done to figure out how to keep these talented pitchers on the field.

  1. Shifting in Baseball

It’s impossible to not notice how many teams are shifting their defense for hitters this year. It used to be just Joe Maddon and the Tampa Bay Rays but now every team seems to be playing these ridiculous shifts. Through this weekend, there have been 3,213 shifts performed by teams and they are on pace for over 14,000 shifts. I’m not saying that some hitters should not be shifted for but the other day I saw Miguel Cabrera hit with 1 player on the right side of the infield. Miguel Cabrera is a career .320 hitter and displays excellent bat control. Teams are foolish if they think he cannot hit a ground ball to the right side whenever he wants. I’m not saying to kill the shift but I will take my chances of getting hitters like Nick Punto out by playing straight up.

 

  1. Instant Replay

I have to admit, I was not in favor of baseball adding instant replay at first. Technology is so good that baseball had to decide to use it and I think it’s for the best. It is not perfect but baseball is slowly working out all the kinks as they have already changed the transfer rule. So far, 130 plays have been overturned out of the 276 plays reviewed. I think the one thing that instant replay has proven is how good these umpires really are. If we have to show 3 different angles in slow motion to determine if the player is safe or out, then I think they are doing a good job. This is a work in progress and it will only continue to improve.

 

  1. Tanaka Worth Every Penny

 When Masahiro Tanaka signed his monstrous contract, (7 yrs / $ 155M) many thought that the Yankees were crazy. Up to this point in the season, Tanaka has been the savior to the Yankees’ pitching staff. In a staff with Sabathia (Knee), Nova (TJ Surgery), and Pineda (Shoulder) all on disabled list, it is without question that Tanaka is the ace of the New York Yankees. He is 5-0 in 7 starts and has a 2.57 earned run average. He also is top 10 in strikeouts. The season is still young and more scouting reports will come out on Tanaka but up to this point in the season, I think Tanaka has not only exceeded the Yankees’ expectations but everyone’s expectations.Image

 

– Mick

Tanaka chooses Yankees.

          Image                Masahiro Tanaka agreed to a 7 year deal worth 155 million dollars with the New York Yankees, and the contract has an opt-out clause after 4 years. The deal for the Japanese star is the 5th highest contract in baseball history for a starting pitcher behind Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez, and C.C. Sabathia. Tanaka pitched for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in 2013 and went 24-0 with a 1.27 earned run average.

                I feel the New York Yankees were going to outbid anyone no matter what it took. The Yankees beat out the Cubs, White Sox, and Dodgers to get a piece they desperately needed. Tanaka joins Sabathia, Kuroda, Nova, and Phelps in the Yankees rotation. The additions the Yankees have made this offseason have all been upgrades on the offensive end with signings of Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran. The Yankees had to make a big sign for a starting pitcher, because they have question marks in their starting rotation. Sabathia is coming off his worst season with the Yankees as he had a 4.78 earned run average. Kuroda had a strong first half of 2013 but struggled in the final two months. He is also entering his age 39 season. Nova has shown glimpses of being a strong starter but has not been consistent. Phelps will compete for a starting job along with Michael Pineda, who is trying to come back from a torn labrum. The Yankees are no doubt taking a risk on a player who has never thrown a pitch in the big leagues, but Tanaka could be a huge part of an organization that is trying to get back to the postseason.

                Another huge part of this signing is how the change of the posting system for Japanese players affected the contract of the player. The MLB and the NPB ( Nippon Professional Baseball) agreed that the max a team can pay a Japanese team to release their player is 20 million dollars. In the past, teams tried to outbid other teams no matter the cost. The Red Sox paid a 51.11 million dollar posting fee for Daisuke Matsuzaka, and the Rangers paid 51.7 million dollars to talk to Yu Darvish. After the fees, Matsuzaka received a 52 million dollar contract for 6 years and Yu Darvish received a 6 year contract worth 60 million dollars. There is no question that the new posting system will allow Japanese pitchers to earn millions more for the same amount of years.

                It will be very interesting to see what this Tanaka deal does for future free agent pitchers. If a guy who has never pitched in the big leagues before gets a deal for 155 million, what will a CY winning pitcher get like Max Scherzer and David Price? Time will tell but there is no doubt the Yankees are one of the biggest winners of this offseason. 

-Mick

It’s Official: Replay Expanded

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On Thursday, MLB clubs voted unanimously to expanded instant replay in the upcoming 2014 season. Expanded replay was bound to happen once home runs were allowed to be reviewed back in 2008. I have to admit, at first I was not in favor of expanding instant replay. I like the idea of having the human element in baseball and I feel replay may eliminate that. But with all of the technological improvements over the years, it’s hard to argue that replay can only make the game better.

The clubs agreed on the following plays to be reviewed at the start of the 2014 season:

  •  Home run
  • Ground rule double
  • Fan interference
  • Stadium boundary calls (e.g., fielder into stands, ball into stands triggering dead ball)
  • Force play (except the fielder’s touching of second base on a double play)
  • Tag play (including steals and pickoffs)
  • Fair/foul in outfield only
  • Trap play in outfield only
  • Batter hit by pitch
  • Timing play (whether a runner scores before a third out)
  • Touching a base (requires appeal)
  • Passing runners
  • Record keeping (Ball-strike count to a batter, outs, score, and substitutions)

Although I will miss seeing managers throw a temper tantrum on the field, there is no question Major League Baseball is making the right decision by doing everything they can to get the call right. Calls like Jeter’s home run in game 1 of the ALCS, Jim Joyce’s blown call to end Galarraga’s perfect game, and Todd Helton being a foot off first base but still getting an out call will all be corrected by instant replay. Instead of the manager running out to scream in the face of an umpire, the manager will let the crew chief know that he wants the previous play reviewed. If any part of the play is overturned, the manager will be awarded another challenge. After the sixth inning, the crew chief can choose to review any play they feel needs replay.

Many people have been wondering if adding addition replay will make baseball games even longer, but the results from the 2013 Arizona Fall League show that it will be a quick procedure as the average replay took a minute and forty seconds. I think there is no question Major League Baseball is making the right decision on expanding instant replay. If it improves the quality of the game, who can argue.

 

-Mick

 

 

 

Welcome to The Storms Bros Blog

On behalf of my brother (Mick) and myself, we would like to welcome you to The Storms Bros Blog. My brother and I have shared a passion for the game of baseball over the years, and we thought that a blog would be a great platform to enhance our discussions and experience with following the game. We hope to bring a unique take on the various aspects of baseball and hopefully spark some good debate and discussions along the way.

So what will you see in this blog? Well, we hope we can touch on many different areas of the game of baseball. The majority of the discussions will center around Major League Baseball, with other topics, such as prospects and college baseball, getting some attention as well. Whether the off-season, the grind of the regular season, or the chase for the pennant in October, we hope to give you our take on what is going on. My brother, Mick, is a huge Red Sox fan while I am a die-hard Mets fan (yes, this is a rather odd combination of teams for two brothers to be rooting for). Though you will see a lot of content regarding both of our favorite teams, we hope to look at what is going on through Major League Baseball, providing as complete a picture as possible.

We are looking forward to getting started and seeing where this goes. Hopefully, you will find the content interesting and worth reading as you follow what is going on in the game. If you like the content, you can follow us on twitter @StormsBros to find out when a new post is up or to ask us a question.

-Tyler Storms