Baseball History Notes for June 10, 2013

Braun

The big news of the week in baseball was an ESPN Outside the Lines report that Major League Baseball is seeking to suspend 20 or more current players for their involvement with the now defunct Biogenesis of America clinic. Tony Bosch, the company’s founder, agreed to provide MLB with documents to help their cases. Players including Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez and Melky Cabrera are all reported to be those in the crosshairs, with more details of the whole mess still to come.

The report indicated that suspensions could be as long as 100 games if MLB gets its way. However, want and reality could be two completely different things. The MLB Player’s Union immediately issued a statement declaring their intent to vigorously defend the players in the investigation, and will use their considerable power to minimize any punitive damage. It’s a situation that is highly unlikely to be determined quickly, but will probably play out in courtrooms and boardrooms for an indeterminable amount of time.

Regardless of the length of possible suspensions, the damage has already been done to the reputations of the players involved in the scandal. No matter how much you believe or don’t believe steroids and PEDs are cheating, the amount of lying and general scumbaggery (I made this word up specifically for this situation) on the part of these players has completely impugned their character. No matter how far they can hit a ball or fast they can throw a pitch, their greatest attribute as players and human beings has been irrevocably shattered. Continue reading

Greed is the Driving Force in Baseball

Baseball has long marketed itself on the narrative that it is the national pastime, where the true players play for the love of the game over any other alternative gains. To play is to personify purity, gamesmanship, and national pride, among other superlatives. While those things may have occasionally been true, they have been used as window dressing to establish baseball’s public persona since becoming professionalized. There are many things I love about baseball, but there is no denying that one of its primary cornerstones is greed, which seems to be growing stronger every passing day and clouding the future. Continue reading

Phillies Deal Pence to Giants for Three Players

The unloading by Phillies GM Ruben Amaro continues as Philadelphia is sending outfielder Hunter Pence to the San Francisco Giants for outfielder Nate Schierholtz, catcher Tommy Joseph, and right handed pitcher Seth Rosin. They already traded Shane Victorino earlier today to the Dodgers and Pence will also be on his way to the NL West. Continue reading

My 2012 Predictions: NL West

I am finalizing my 2012 prediction series by revealing my NL West standings and adding a few positive and negative predictions for each team. In case you missed it, I have already revealed my AL East Predictions, AL Central Predictions, AL West Predictions, NL East Predictions, and NL Central Predictions and we, as a staff, revealed some of our overall MLB predictions. Enjoy. Continue reading

2012 – The Year of the Laboratory?

There are a surprising number of experiments going on in Major League Baseball for this coming season. Players are trying out new positions, relief pitchers are trying to be starting pitchers. Heck, even the Yankees are trying to be cost conscious. Strange things are happening in a training camp near you. With all that is happening, you will need a scorecard to track all the goings on. We at MLB Dirt are happy to help. What follows are the experiments happening all over baseball plus this writer’s take on whether the lab results will be positive or negative. Here we go. Got your pencil handy?

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Royals Sell High on Melky

The pitching starved Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants struck a deal sending Melky Cabrera to the weak hitting Giants in exchange for Jonathan Sanchez and minor league pitcher Ryan Verdugo.

The Royals, selling high on Melky Cabrera’s best season as a major leaguer, landed a solid starting pitcher in Jonathan Sanchez, helping both teams fill voids but neither team is getting a star.

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Trade Deadline Head Scratchers

Earlier today I wrote about the trade deadline winners so I feel the need to write, not about the losers, it’s too soon to tell, but about the deals and non-deals that made me scratch my head and wondering what the team was thinking. With that said, here are the trades that left me in wonder:

The Giants trade for Cabrera: The Giants traded Thomas Neal, a prospect in that has a good chance to be a solid 4th outfielder for Orlando Cabrera, a guy with -0.7 fWAR and a -7.2 UZR. Yes, the Giants need middle infield help but Cabrera should not be playing on any contending team and the fact they gave up a prospect for him makes the deal even worse. This is after they traded Zack Wheeler for Carlos Beltran. Sure, Beltran was the best position player available but they get 2+ months of Beltran and no compensation pick and lose a potential top-of-the-rotation starter with 6 years of control.

The Dodgers give Robinson away: The Dodgers apparently love to give legit prospects away for bulk prospects with bench potential. They traded Trayvon Robinson who was hitting .293/.375/.563 with 26 homeruns in his first season in AAA. He has great raw power but swings and misses a lot and is still raw for a guy who will be 24 on September 1st. He has the wheels to play center but is better suited for left and could have been starting there next year for the Dodgers but they wanted a future back up catcher in Tim Federowicz with no bat and two future right-handed relievers in Stephen Fife and Juan Rodriguez. On top of this they are holding on to aging veterans when they need to save money and rebuild.

The Twins proposal of Span for Storen and not trading Cuddyer: Why would the Twins, who need to be selling high on Michael Cuddyer, be trying to trade Denard Span, a true center fielder who was well on his way to a 5 fWAR season, for Drew Storen, a potential 1 fWAR reliever? Don’t get me wrong, I really like Storen, but Span was having an All-Star year and has that potential moving forward and Storen is a reliever. You don’t make trades like that. What you do is make trades that involve soon-to-be free agents named Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel who are hitting .298/.370/.477 with 16 homeruns and a career high 138 wRC+ while  playing multiple positions and .303/.356/.444 with a 126 wRC+ all while the market is hot for hitters.

The non-moves by losing ball clubs: I have no idea why the only move the A’s made was trading Brad Ziegler. I do like the trade because they got Brandon Allen in return but they held on to too many pieces that could have netted solid returns like Coco Crisp, Josh Willingham, Conor Jackson, Michael Wuertz, Brian Fuentes, and Grant Balfour. The Cubs also held on to guys like Kerry Wood, Aramis Ramirez, and Carlos Pena. I can only imagine the return they’d get for Ramirez who has 19 homeruns and passable defense at one of the worst hitting positions in 2011. The Royals held on to Melky Cabrera, 2010’s worst player who is having a career year hitting .304/.340/.466 with 13 homeruns and 14 stolen bases and, amazingly, passable defense in center and, amazingly, great base running with a +3.9 Bsr. They also held on to Jeff Francoeur who was hitting .272/.326/.464 and an excellent +4.1 UZR in right.

The non-moves by winning ball clubs: The Yankees decided to stand pat and not add a needed starting pitcher for the second deadline in a row. In fact, the most talks surrounding them were about reliever Heath Bell and it was wise of them not to pay heavily for something they did not need. The Angels sat around and complained about the price during the deadline rather than adding a legit bat. The Rays, who had pieces to sell and buy, did absolutely nothing. They could have been the biggest buyers with their farm system and not even traded their top 3 prospects. They desperately need bats and I do not blame them for holding on to B.J. Upton, Casey Kotchman, or Johnny Damon if they think they are still contenders in the AL East. But, if they happened to be sellers why did they not make a deal involving Upton, Kotchman, Damon, Joel Peralta, Kyle Farnsworth, Jeff Niemann, Wade Davis, or Alex Cobb? Heck, why didn’t they make a trade imvolving a pitcher for a bat anyway. They could have still been contending and helped their 2012 club with the right bat.

-Jonathan C. Mitchell can be found writing about the Tampa Bay Rays at DRaysBay and you can follow him on twitter at @FigureFilbert and follow MLBdirt at @MLBdirt