Orioles Could Be Without Machado?

Monday night in Baltimore, the Orioles season may have crumbled along with the right knee of third baseman Manny Machado. Down 3-1 in the bottom of the 3rd inning against the New York Yankees, Machado was up against left-hander Chris Capuano when this happened (VIDEO):

As of right now, it’s being called a right knee sprain, and the 22-year-old third baseman will be re-evaluated on Tuesday:

The Orioles entered play Monday night five games up on New York for first place in the AL East at 67-50. After losing Machado for the first 25 games of the 2014 season due to the medial patellofemoral ligament tear that cost him the final six games of the 2013 season, the team was once again thriving with their slick-fielding third baseman robbing would-be hits and producing offensively.

Baltimore is obviously a much different team with Machado at third base over Ryan Flaherty, having gone 46-35 since his return; however, it’s what Machado has done since his return from his little bat-tossing incident that is most impressive.

Over his last 27 games, the Orioles were 18-9, while Machado has led the club with a .348/.383/.536 triple-slash over 120 plate appearances including five home runs and 15 RBI.

A major piece of the Orioles future and one of the many fresh, young faces of the league, there are many hoping that knee issues aren’t going to continue to interfere in Machado reaching his lofty career expectations going forward. While his overall numbers don’t quite rival those of Mike Trout, Machado is certainly an exciting young player with the potential to be a perennial All-Star.

There will be plenty of news available on the web tomorrow when the results of Machado’s MRI are publicized.

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Cubs Begin the Baez Era

Baez1

Cubs 2B/SS Javier Baez, who will make his debut in Colorado on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Chicago Cubs prospect Javier Baez will officially become a major leaguer, likely making his debut at second base for the last place Cubs, the only team with a losing record in the NL Central, when they take on the Rockies in Denver. For the fans, the wait for their incredibly gifted, power-hitting middle infielder hasn’t been nearly as long as their World Series drought, and after Baez had completed his 40 game outburst on Sunday for Iowa, when he hit .322 with 12 home runs, 38 RBI, and a 1.046 OPS, the 21-year-old deemed himself ready.

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Tigers Pay the Price and Win

Tigers LHP David Price

Tigers LHP David Price

The Detroit Tigers confused the world of baseball this winter when they traded right-hander Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals for Robbie Ray. Fister had three years of team control remaining, and he was coming off of two very good seasons (3.29 ERA, 1.19 WHIP) in Detroit. Ray was rated as the 97th best prospect prior to the 2014 season by MLB.com, but after the Tampa Bay Rays were able to get the haul that they did (including Wil Myers) for two years of control of James Shields, it was assumed by many that Fister would bring much more than a single prospect, particularly one that had posted most of his solid 2013 numbers while repeating High-A.

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Reds In on Alex Rios?

The Texas Rangers are 23.5 games out in the AL West, actually one game behind the Houston Astros. Needless to say, there could be some activity today as the deadline looms. The Cincinnati Reds are six games out in the NL Central, but just 4.5 games out of a Wild Card spot. With Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto out due to injuries and the Reds scuffling at the plate, they need a bat to improve upon their chances of catching up with just 55 games to go.

Enter, Rangers outfielder Alex Rios.

Rios, 33, will be due the remainder of his 2014 contract of $12.5 million (approximately $4.25 million) if the Rangers don’t kick in some cash in any potential deal, and with the Reds shopping Ryan Ludwick, the move and rumors make perfect sense.

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Red Sox Deal Lester – Now What?

The Red Sox have traded left-handed pitcher Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes to the Oakland A’s for Yoenis Cespedes. They now have received an intriguing, powerful outfielder  to pair with Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley, Mookie Betts, and the stars who have yet to arrive in Boston in preparation for the future, while Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz hang around. Now…what happens next?

After the 2011 collapse and the 2012 fire-sale, what is really going to happen in Boston? Prior to the 2013 season, the money saved by moving Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, and Josh Beckett was used to sign veteran free agents Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino, and while the 2013 season resulted in a culmination of immeasurable good-guy-ness in the clubhouse and another World Series title, the investments in aging stars didn’t play out so well when injuries ravaged the 2014 season and young players proved incapable of stepping up.

Red Sox LHP Jon  Lester

Red Sox LHP Jon Lester

So, in a market that went so long without a title and now demands competitive rosters going forward, how will Boston management construct the Red Sox in 2015 and beyond?

The leadership and dedication to the city of Boston by Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz is one thing, but with Lester saying he would return to Boston as a free agent, helping the Red Sox two times over by being traded for assets and returning next season, the first place to start is: Why? Why would Lester return?

Shouldn’t he and his agent remember “Lowball Gate“?

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Eric Chavez Quietly Retires

On Wednesday, 36-year-old, part-time Arizona Diamondbacks infielder Eric Chavez announced his retirement. The news was largely overshadowed by the Justin Masterson deal between St. Louis and Cleveland, as well as the never-ending swirl of rumors with Thursday marking the non-waiver trade deadline for 2014. It’s quite unfortunate that Chavez will disappear from the game, pushed away by a knee injury that is just one of many, many ailments that derailed his once elite career.

Since August of 1999, Chavez had been on the disabled list a whopping 12 times, having missed 385 games since the start of the 2009 season while on the DL. From concussions, knee issues, elbow problems, and an aching shoulder, it was just one thing after another. Chavez was basically just “hanging around” since 2007, playing in just 449 games over the last eight seasons (about 56 games per season), which was his age-29 season. However, it wasn’t always disappointment and injuries, as Chavez was dominant.

Courtesy: Fangraphs

The list above shows the top 20 position players in baseball (based on Fangraphs WAR) from 2000 to 2006. In those seven seasons, Chavez won six Gold Gloves and one Silver Slugger, but he never made an All-Star Game. ESPN reported that: “Chavez’s career .970 fielding percentage ties him for third best all-time with Ken Reitz among players with a minimum of 800 games played. Only Mike Lowell (.974) and Brooks Robinson (.971) are better.” Also, on the list above, you’ll notice several names of players who have been linked to performance-enhancing drugs, and, if they are taken out (as they have been by the BBWAA for the Hall of Fame), Chavez and his numbers would slide up at bit.

Eric Chavez

Eric Chavez

Speaking of the Hall of Fame, due to the brief period of production, Chavez certainly won’t earn a plaque in Cooperstown; however, there are a couple of things to mention regarding his career:

  • Chavez ranked 40th all-time among third basemen in WAR7, ahead of 4 Hall of Fame members (George Kell, Freddie Lindstrom, Deacon White, and Pie Traynor).
  • Chavez is 43rd all-time among third basemen in JAWS, ahead of 3 Hall of Famers (Kell, Traynor, and Lindstrom).

Jay Jaffe (@Jay_Jaffe on Twitter), of Sports Illustrated, created the JAWS system to compare players from different eras based on their greatest years of production. The statistic is available HERE, and this is a brief explanation from Baseball Reference:

A player’s JAWS is his career WAR averaged with his 7-year peak WAR (not necessarily consecutive years). For non-pitchers, all non-pitching WAR (offense, defense, baserunning) is included in determining the averages, but any pitching WAR they might have accrued is not; right fielders aren’t penalized by the additional value Babe Ruth accumulated on the mound, for example. The current Hall of Famers are then grouped by position and a position average JAWS is computed. For the purposes of comparison, a player is classified at the position where he accrued the most value, which may be different from the position where he played the most games, particularly as players tend to shift to positions of less defensive responsibility as they age.

I asked Jaffe about Chavez, knowing that Chavez’s argument for the Hall of Fame is a very weak one, but worth looking at. I asked:

Chavez2Chavez was never an All-Star and his injury history derailed his career, but based on his production, is there any case for him due to his tremendous defense? I’m very anti- Omar Vizquel for the HOF myself, but if he is going to get votes due to defense and production/numbers caused by longevity, is there any hope for Chavez?

Jaffe responded with:

 

Short answer: no. Career far too short; forget defense – nobody in the post-1960 expansion era gets in with less than 2,000 hits and he’s only at 1,477. Beyond that, 3B is pitifully under-served by HOF voters and the line ahead of him would include Ken Boyer, Graig Nettles, Darrell Evans, Buddy Bell, Ron Cey and others, with Beltre and Wright having stronger cases today and still active. as well.
Chavez may have been a HOF-caliber talent, but he just couldn’t stay healthy enough to get there. Still a good career but less than it might have been.
So, Chavez, temporarily great, heads off into the sunset having served the last several years in a part-time role, incapable of playing at the highest level of his career due to several injuries. Despite tremendous defensive and offensive skills, the longevity factor will keep Chavez out of Cooperstown, though there will be those lucky enough to remember him at his peak, as he became the cornerstone of the Moneyball Oakland A’s clubs, showing the defense, patience, and power necessary to be the era’s poster boy for sabermetric value. While he’ll never get into the Hall of Fame, he was, at one time, a very, very strong talent who was overshadowed by some of the greatest cheaters in the history of the game, Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez. With that being said, he will become just another very good third baseman who will didn’t do enough for enshrinement.

Best Of The Baseball Haven

I’ll be on a 10-day hiatus with little to no internet access, so I figured I would link to the articles that I am most proud of over my three years of running the site. Additionally, feel free to check out Wahoo’s on First, a Cleveland Indians’ blog, where I am co-editor, and you’ll be able to hear podcasts, read about the trade deadline, and other Tribe news. Thanks for finding me and enjoy the second half!

 

"Twins

2014 Top 50 Mid-Season Prospects: Self explanatory title.

The Sudden Emergence of J.D. Martinez: A look at the breakout Tigers’ outfielder.

Why Matt Kemp to the Reds Makes Sense: Mat Latos for Matt Kemp and some cash? Read why that makes sense.

Time for Cincinnati to Extend the Toddfather?: Todd Frazier is breaking out and soon he could break the bank. The Reds need to extend him.

Is 755 Still Meaningful?: A look at the number and if it will last longer than Barry Bonds‘ number.

Beyond Color: The Value of Jackie Robinson: Jackie Robinson is much more than the No.42 and the man who tore down the color barrier.

When Arguing By History Goes Horribly Wrong: Albert Pujols thinks he’s as big or a bigger deal than Mike Trout…or he did…should he?

The Flaw of Sabermetrics: How WAR Can Ruin Payrolls:  Can the statistic of Wins Above Replacement take a larger role in free agency, and, if it can, how could that ruin the game or increase spending to new heights?

"<strong

Losing the Captain and the Heart of Baseball: Derek Jeter is retiring. If you watched the All-Star Game, you may have heard. Why is it really such a big deal?

Vladimir Guerrero: Overlooked Greatness: I interview Sports Illustrated’s Jay Jaffe and discussed Guerrero’s Hall of Fame resume, along with how his JAWS system compares him to other greats.

Pitchers Who Won’t Come Up Short: Short pitchers that throw hard – it’s a thing, but so is the label of not being able to hold up due to their height.

Jack Morris: Why He Isn’t a Hall of Famer: Self explanatory.

MLB TV Contract Eliminates Excuses for “Small-Markets”:  Don’t tell the fans you don’t have the money when this is out there.

2014 Top 100 MLB Prospects: The preseason list.

10 Bold Second Half Predictions

On the eve of the second half of the 2014 season, after looking over my horrid preseason predictions, it is time for take two. Here are 10 bold predictions for the second half of the 2014 season, likely to be horribly, horribly wrong…once again:

Orioles 3B Manny Machado

Orioles 3B Manny Machado

1. The Baltimore Orioles run away with the AL East: Chris Davis‘ numbers scream a return to his 2013 first half numbers (.315/.392/.717)…ok, so maybe not THAT drastic, but he is much better than the .199/.309/.391 line that he has posted to this point. Add in a healthy, productive Manny Machado to Adam Jones and Nelson Cruz, and the offense could be scary. Buck Showalter can finally break the chains off of Kevin Gausman, arguably the club’s best starter this season, plugging him into the rotation for the rest of the year instead of shuttling him back-and-forth between Baltimore and Norfolk. With Dylan Bundy returning from Tommy John surgery and, likely, taking over an important relief role late in the season to help put the team over the hump. With injuries to the Yankees’ rotation and the Blue Jays needing an arm to maintain contention due to possible innings limits on Drew Hutchison and Marcus Stroman late this season, the O’s have what it takes to get back on top.

2. The Pirates will come back to win the NL Central. Sure, they’re in 4th place right now, but they are the only healthy team in the division. The Reds are missing Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips for the next several weeks, the Cardinals could be without Michael Wacha for some time, and the Brewers have lost 11 of their last 13 games. With Andrew McCutchen heating up and Gregory Polanco continuing to adjust, the Bucs will prove that last year was just the beginning of a long, competitive run.

3. Bryce Harper will stay healthy and hit 20 home runs over the next 69 games.

4. Javier Baez will take over the second base job vacated by a Darwin Barney trade. He quickly erupts, proving his boredom in the minors led to his struggles.

5. Todd Frazier will continue his productive season, ending the season with over 30 home runs and 100-RBI. While the Reds lose the division behind the Pirates and injuries to Votto and Phillips, they still win a Wild Card.

6. Alex Guerrero will take over the third base job in Los Angeles and put up numbers that rival those of Yasiel Puig in his first month last season (.436/.467/.713 in 107 plate appearances). While that seems unreasonable, Guerrero has a .380/.423/.729 line in 37 minor league games, including some time off after getting part of his ear bitten off by a teammate.

Angels OF Mike Trout

Angels OF Mike Trout

7. Mike Trout continues running away with the AL MVP, finally winning the award that he should have won at least once over the last two seasons. He will finish the season with a WAR over 10.0, and McCutchen will win the MVP in the NL with a tremendous second half.

8. The Rays will keep David Price, riding a hot streak on their way to barely missing the final Wild Card spot. They will try to move him in the offseason, while getting all that they can out of their star left-hander, as he was worth more to them than a package that didn’t meet the demands of Andrew Friedman and Company.

9. The Colorado Rockies trade Carlos Gonzalez, opening up a full-time job for both Corey Dickerson and Charlie Blackmon on the outfield corners, with Drew Stubbs in center. The injuries are too much for ownership, while CarGo’s contract is friendly enough (three-years, $53 million between 2015 and 2017) to warrant a team taking on the deal and his skill-set. Seattle, seeking a return to glory, can offer Taijuan Walker, Gabby Guerrero, and Erasmo Ramirez for the slugging outfielder, instantly upgrading their offense.

10. The San Diego Padres will trade Huston Street to the Baltimore Orioles for Eduardo Rodriguez, solidifying the back-end of the bullpen that was patched together and healed by breakout closer Zach Britton.

The Reasons for Pete Rose…

"Charlie Hustle"...Has it been long enough?

“Charlie Hustle”…Has it been long enough?

Baseball came together for the All-Star celebration at Target Field, bowing in awe at the accomplishments of Yankees’ great Derek Jeter, while basking in the glory of the greatest superstar of the current generation taking control of yet another game, with Mike Trout running away with the MVP and a sweet new Chevrolet Corvette. All-Star Weekend brought the future of the game into the festivities for the 16th year, as top prospects from around the league took to the stage in the Futures Game, while Giancarlo Stanton‘s monster shots weren’t enough to keep Yoenis Cespedes from becoming the first back-to-back home run derby champion since Ken Griffey, Jr. accomplished the feat in 1998 and 1999. Still, when baseball comes together to celebrate its stars, there is always one thing that comes up:

Pete Rose.

Pete Rose, who gambled on baseball.

Pete Rose, who bet on the team that he was managing.

Pete Rose, who ruined the credibility of the game.

Pete Rose, the greatest hit collector in the history of baseball.

Pete Rose, the man who won’t stop fighting for an opportunity to return to the game that made him who he is, while leaving a legacy of hustle, production, and passion that hasn’t been matched since his ban from the game in August of 1989.

For many people, the integrity of the game is all that matters. Former commissioner Fay Vincent seems to have made it his lifelong goal to uphold the ban, placed by the late A. Bartlett Giamatti; however, with Bud Selig stepping down from the commissioner role, is there an opportunity to leave a legacy beyond inter-league play, the Wild Card, twenty years of labor peace, and record revenues?

In 2015, there will be a new commissioner, and, awkwardly, the All-Star Game will be held at Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark. Selig has now gone on the record in saying that Rose will be allowed to participate in the festivities surrounding the event, but how much should he be involved? Is there truly a reason for Rose to still be banned?

Selig had this to say regarding Rose’s inclusion in next year’s All-Star events in the “Queen City”:

Selig would not answer a question about specific guidelines the Reds would have to follow.

“It’s sort of subjective, they’ve done some things with Pete, but they’ve been very, very thoughtful and limited,” Selig said. “That’s a subject that I’m sure they’ll discuss in the next year. They’re all here, but that’s not a subject that’s come up.”

As for Rose’s overall status with Selig, who is scheduled to step aside at the end of the year, the commissioner said there has been no change in Rose’s status.

“It’s a matter under advisement. That’s my standard line,” Selig said. “I’m the judge and that’s where it’ll stay. There’s nothing new.”

The game certainly has its own idea of how great a sin is. You can’t gamble on baseball, but you can take drugs illegally and influence your production and earning potential. You can’t bet on baseball, but you can cheat by using foreign substances to alter how a pitch assaults a batter. You can’t bet on baseball, but you can be a racist, bigot, and a social embarrassment to the sport. For all of the character flaws of Pete Rose, the character clause of the Hall of Fame has overlooked so much worse, and while there hasn’t truly been a “steroid user” inducted to-date, the moment that one of those players finally earns that honor is the last day that Pete Rose and the Black Sox can spend on the outside of enshrinement, or so you would think.

Pete Rose is a Hall of Fame baseball player. He may be a Hall of Fame moron for what he did as a manager, but you can’t put an asterisk next to 4,256 hits, 17-time All-Star, 1973 NL MVP, 1975 World Series MVP, and the effort and fire that has been unmatched.

Has it been long enough? Next month, Rose will have been gone from the game for 25 years. He has missed out on an opportunity to assist young players through coaching, he has missed out on the opportunity to lead a team as a manager, and he has missed an opportunity to discuss the game as a great should be able to do, with respect from his peers. He didn’t help his cause over the years with his failure to admit to his faults immediately, but baseball has a lot to gain from the years left in Rose’s life, having shoved him aside long enough, just as they did the truth about steroids for so many years in the great sport.

Sneaky Second Half Fantasy Surgers

You can see the players who have surprised in the first half, here, but what about players who could provide surprising power going forward? Below, you’ll see players who could be heading towards huge second half production.

Stephen Vogt, C, Oakland A’s

Vogt is 30-for-80 over the last month (.375/.414/.563), with seven extra-base hits and 12 RBI. While he’s 29 and he doesn’t have a track record, having played in just 98 games in his entire career and accumulating 287 plate appearances, Vogt has been receiving time in the outfield and first base, as well as catcher. Beyond his versatility, raise your hand if you knew that Vogt had a 12-game hitting streak entering play on Sunday…He’s hot, he’s playing, and he’s eligible at an offensively starved position, and he has an incredible offense around him. Buy low.

 

Rays 2B/OF Ben Zobrist

Rays 2B/OF Ben Zobrist

Ben Zobrist, 2B/SS/OF, Tampa Bay Rays

Zobrist has managed to hit .271/.360/.440 over the second half since 2011, covering 2,403 plate appearances, while having the 5th highest second half WAR over that time behind only Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Miguel Cabrera, and Robinson Cano. Add in the fact that Zobrist is hitting .368/.450/.559 over his last 17 games, just in time for a potential trade at the deadline to a club with more offensive talent. Like Vogt, his versatility is just an added bonus to his potential production.

Omar Infante, 2B, Kansas City Royals

The first half wasn’t all that friendly to the Royals second baseman, who hit a mediocre .277/.318/.383, but the last seven days have really helped out the overall line. During that span, Infante has hit .464/.483/.500 with 13 hits in 28 at-bats. The Royals have been starved for offense all season, and you’d have to expect Infante will continue to rebound, while guiding Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer along with him, especially if they are going to compete in the AL Central. The last week is a sign of production, a production that had been lacking for most of the season for Infante.

Kevin Kiermaier, OF, Tampa Bay Rays

Unlike Zobrist, Kiermaier won’t be going anywhere at the trade deadline. He is under team-control through the 2019 season and he plays incredible defense due to his tremendous speed, which hasn’t quite been evident in his game just yet. Since June 1, Kiermaier has played in 40 games and has a .911 OPS over 151 plate appearances, including a .476/.522/.714 line over the last week, as he continues making adjustments at the major league level. I hit the wrong button and cut him by mistake in a dynasty league, but you shouldn’t make the same mistake, or overlook him much longer. His speed will allow him to create hits, even when he struggles, and he will continue to play moving forward as the Rays go towards a rebuild.

 

Rays RHP Jake Odorizzi

Rays RHP Jake Odorizzi

Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays

Odorizzi was a top prospect several years ago, but he hit a bump as he reached the majors, appearing to lack an out pitch with his 6.7 K:9 in a brief trial the last two seasons. Well, the 2014 season has been quite different. Sure, the ERA is at 4.01, but Odorizzi’s FIP is 3.20 and he has a whopping 10.3 K:9 over 19 starts and 101 innings. He’s just 24 and has always had a tremendous arsenal and plenty of potential, and he could be sneaking under the radar during a breakout 2014 season, including a 2.79 ERA and 1.12 WHIP over his last eight starts.

Ramon Santiago, 2B/SS, Cincinnati Reds

Santiago has been very good at the right time. Over the last week, Santiago has hit .476/.577/.619, going 10-for-21 just as the Reds have lost Brandon Phillips. The long-time utility player has an opportunity to shine, barring a trade, while sharing time with Kristopher Negron in Cincinnati. While he is quite unlikely to hit close to .500, he is hitting in front of Todd Frazier in the Reds order, with Billy Hamilton ahead of him, distracting the pitcher when he is on base. Santiago could be surprisingly productive.

Jesse Hahn, RHP, San Diego Padres

Hahn is getting better each start and the numbers could continue due to his home ballpark. Hahn has a 1.46 ERA and 0.95 WHIP while going 5-1 over his last six starts. Over those six starts, he has 42:14 K:BB with a .163 average allowed over 37 innings. His 10.4 K:9 over his seven career starts is impressive, and the 24-year-old should be added in every league, while he could be expensive due to his early success. His minor league numbers were nearly identical to what he is doing in San Diego.

Wade Miley, LHP, Arizona Diamondback

Miley was very, very frustrating to own early this season, but he has really taken off recently, posting a 2.98 ERA with a 1.13 WHIP over his last seven starts, with a 46:12 K:BB over 45.1 innings. Beyond his recent strong performance, Miley has been slightly better in his career over the second half during his career.

 

Royals LHP Danny Duffy

Royals LHP Danny Duffy

Danny Duffy, LHP, Kansas City Royals

Since June 1, Duffy has a 2.19 ERA and 0.99 WHIP, posting a 43:12 K:BB over 49.1 innings. The hard-throwing, 25-year-old has impressed this season, finally throwing enough strikes to live up to the lofty expectations that were once put on him. Now healthy and getting starts, the focus on James Shields and Yordano Ventura could lead to continued underestimated value by Duffy owners. There could be an innings limit here, but he should continue to surprise over the second half.

Chris Coghlan, OF, Chicago Cubs

The Cubs are unlikely to promote Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, or Jorge Soler this season, so Coghlan should maintain a share of an outfield job at the least. He once won a Rookie of the Year and had a bright future, and after hitting .386/.446/.632 over his last 16 games, with 10 extra-base hits and 10 RBI. He may not carry your team, but Coghlan shouldn’t be tossed aside as just another hot streak. After all, we always have J.D. Martinez to remind us how a hot streak can become a breakout or extended, valuable outburst.

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