Chicago Cubs great Ernie Banks passed away on Friday at the age of 83, leaving behind a legacy full of enthusiasm and greatness on and off the diamond. Tom Ricketts, the Cubs chairman released a statement, saying:
“Words cannot express how important Ernie Banks will always be to the Chicago Cubs, the city of Chicago and Major League Baseball. He was one of the greatest players of all time. He was a pioneer in the major leagues. And more importantly, he was the warmest and most sincere person I’ve ever known. Approachable, ever optimistic and kind hearted, Ernie Banks is and always will be Mr. Cub. My family and I grieve the loss of such a great and good-hearted man, but we look forward to celebrating Ernie’s life in the days ahead.”
President Obama even chimed in on the passing, saying:
“Michelle and I send our condolences to the family of Ernie Banks, and to every Chicagoan and baseball fan who loved him. Ernie came up through the Negro Leagues, making $7 a day. He became the first African-American to play for the Chicago Cubs, and the first number the team retired. Along the way, he became known as much for his 512 home runs and back-to-back National League MVPs as for his cheer, his optimism, and his love of the game. As a Hall-of-Famer, Ernie was an incredible ambassador for baseball, and for the city of Chicago. He was beloved by baseball fans everywhere, including Michelle, who, when she was a girl, used to sit with her dad and watch him play on TV. And in 2013, it was my honor to present Ernie with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Somewhere, the sun is shining, the air is fresh, his team’s behind him, and Mr. Class – “Mr. Cub” – is ready to play two.”
Banks loved to say “let’s play two today”, while becoming a great ambassador to the city of Chicago and game of baseball. He played his entire career with the Cubs, while becoming the record holder for most games played without a postseason appearance. He once said “I’d like to get to the last game of the World Series at Wrigley Field and hit three homers. That was what I always wanted to do.”
He may get there in spirit, as his No.14 will fly above the left foul pole at Wrigley Field while the new generation of potentially great Cubs’ players are molded into contenders over the next several seasons.
Banks was the first African-American player to play for the Cubs when he arrived late in 1953. He finished 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting in 1954 to St. Louis’ Wally Moon (though he did beat out Hank Aaron, who finished 4th that year). The next season, he made the first of his 14 All-Star appearances while hitting a then-record 44 home runs while playing shortstop. Banks would end his career with 512 home runs and two MVP awards (1958 and 1959), while playing over 1,100 games at both shortstop and first base.
Banks was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977, his first year of eligibility, receiving 83.8 percent of the vote (the BBWAA was dumb then, too).
He was great on the field but people will remember him for more than his playing ability. The man who he was, the positivity, and the kindness is what people will mourn while they celebrate his life. I never met Ernie Banks, but you can get a lot out of who a person was by the words that people speak about them.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) January 24, 2015
Did a card show w Ernie Banks. He drove the promoter crazy! Spent time/talked with every person. After an hour had signed maybe 15. #MrCub
So long, Mr. Cub. The game will miss your enthusiasm. When people say “I wish more players were like (insert name)”, it was typically your name. That is a great way to be remembered as a ballplayer and a person.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 19, 2015
The Washington Nationals have signed right-hander Max Scherzer to a seven-year, $210 million contract, shocking the world of baseball by locking-up the market’s top free agent arm, while creating a new philosophy in negotiating tactics that could influence free agent signings in the future. By extending the $210 million over 14 years by deferring $15 million per year, they also free up a bit of payroll for additional signings in years to come.
Perhaps that deferred money will allow them to lock-up Bryce Harper, who will be a free agent after the 2018 season; however, in the moment, this deal does much more for the Nationals than make them creative, financial gurus.
Max Scherzer will now lead the Washington rotation, a rotation that already featured Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez, Doug Fister, and Tanner Roark. Obviously, depth in a starting rotation is always nice to have, especially with two pitchers on club’s roster already having Tommy John surgery on their resume (Strasburg and Zimmerman), and Gonzalez having dealt with some shoulder issues last season. What is truly incredible about the Scherzer signing is that Roark appears to be the man who would be bumped from the rotation, even after the 15 wins and 2.85 ERA over 31 starts in his age-27, 2014 season.
The Nationals have the flexibility to deal an arm, with Jordan Zimmermann already rumored to be the one who could be moved.
— Beacon Hill Sports (@BeaconHillSport) January 19, 2015
The Red Sox certainly have the prospects to make a deal for Zimmermann or any other player in baseball, so this isn’t all that surprising. Mookie Betts would make an excellent long-term second baseman – if the Nationals are content with moving Anthony Rendon to third base long-term, and the club doesn’t, or any club this side of the Dodgers, doesn’t appear capable of locking up a Scherzer/Zimmermann/Strasburg trio to the nearly $90 million annually that it would require. Zimmermann, who is due $16.5 million prior to reaching free agency after the 2015 season, arguably, is worth the same type of deal that Scherzer received and possibly more.
After all, when comparing these two players, there are a lot of similarities and a lot of envy from other clubs:
Player A: 45-22, 2.96 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 608.2 IP, 496:112 K:BB
Player B: 55-15, 3.24 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 622.1 IP, 723:179 K:BB
Zimmermann is Player A and Scherzer is Player B. Those strikeouts are certainly a big difference, but Zimmermann is just as dominant in overall numbers – outside of the swing-and-miss stuff.
Still, the Nationals sit here today with the most feared starting rotation in baseball. Just a week ago, ESPN’s Buster Olney had Washington atop his top 10 starting rotations in baseball, and that was BEFORE the club added Scherzer.
As long as Washington is able to produce some runs in 2015, they appear to be capable of winning 100 games. The rotation, as is, features five pitchers capable of 15 or more wins and ERAs under 3.20, so if Jayson Werth, Harper, Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond, and company can do their part, this is a very, very dangerous team.
The rich continue to get richer, which appears to be a theme in Major League Baseball, and while the Tigers lose Scherzer from the rotation that they had in 2014, they still have one season with David Price at the top before they need to panic. The Nationals don’t look like they’ll be in that position for several years.
I like to say that I love baseball and that I don’t have a favorite team, but the fact of the matter is that I was born and raised in Cincinnati and I can’t help but hope for the best for my hometown Reds. It’s hard to say that I’m disappointed in a team that won more than 90 games in three of the last five seasons, but a season without a championship isn’t an absolute success, and the Reds haven’t won the World Series since 1990. They, along with 28 other teams, get to look up at the San Francisco Giants until next Fall, but are the Reds in a position to contend in 2015?
The club finished with 76 wins in 2014, finishing 14 games out of the NL Central and in 4th place in the division. While the Cardinals reloaded by acquiring OF Jason Heyward from Atlanta, the Pirates continue to get better with experience and tremendous, young talent, and the Cubs finally opened their wallets and brought in LHP Jon Lester to anchor an incredibly gifted, young roster, the Reds were making changes in their own way. The Reds haven’t been as desolate as they were last offseason, when they basically added Skip Schumaker to the mix after losing Shin-Soo Choo to the Rangers. There was some wheeling and dealing being done by GM Walt Jocketty, but the direction of those deals was a bit odd.
The addition of OF Marlon Byrd, who has 49 home runs and an .800 OPS over the last two seasons, is an improvement over what OF Ryan Ludwick had done over the same time period (11 home runs and a .666 OPS); however, he’s 37 years old and his strikeout rate jumped to a career-high 29 percent while he posted an inflated .341 BABIP. The Byrd acquisition came after the club dealt Alfredo Simon to Detroit for RHP Jonathan Crawford and INF Eugenio Suarez, and RHP Mat Latos to the Marlins for C Chad Wallach and RHP Anthony DeSclafani. Both Simon and Latos were due to become free agents after the 2015 season, so the deals made sense for the Reds if they were heading into a rebuilding mode, but the deal for Byrd didn’t make much sense for a rebuilding team, as they traded a solid, young arm in Ben Lively to the Phillies to acquire Byrd.
Personally, the deal with the Tigers appears to be a steal. Simon never pitched the way that he had in a starting role prior to the 2014 season, and his FIP (4.33) says much more about his performance than his 3.44 ERA and 15 wins show. The fact that the Reds received the Tigers 1st round pick from the 2013 MLB Draft, Crawford, was pretty impressive, but Suarez, who rose quickly through the Tigers system and looks like a solid middle infielder to build around, in addition to Crawford was a coup.
The deal with the Marlins was a little less impressive, in my opinion. Wallach looks like a catching-version of Kevin Youkilis, posting solid K:BB rates in the minors, but DeSclafani was solid throughout his minor league career (3.23 ERA and 1.24 WHIP over 354.1 IP), but wasn’t able to miss as many bats upon his promotion to the Marlins, when he had a 6.27 ERA (3.77 FIP) and allowed 10.9 H/9 IP. DeSclafani looks like a decent back-end starter, but you’d think Jocketty could have received more for Latos than that, given the insane money that will be thrown at pitchers on the free agent market.
Still, after the deals, the Reds are out in baseball purgatory. While they acquired a couple of arms in their trades, they still only have three starters worth trusting in the rotation: Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, and Mike Leake. Tony Cingrani is an option, but outside of the questions about his secondary stuff, you have to wonder if his shoulder will continue being an issue after it cost him some time in 2014. Outside of those four, the Reds have more question marks in the rotation, as David Holmberg, Dylan Axelrod, Daniel Corcino, and Cuban import Raisel Iglesias bring unknown skills and suspect resumes to a potentially lengthy Spring Training competition for the No.5 spot in the group.
In addition to the questions in the rotation, the Reds have to address their depth. Suarez is a very nice option to fill-in at second base and shortstop, likely a much better option than Ramon Santiago was when he was asked to take over for Brandon Phillips‘ lengthy DL stint in 2014. Brayan Pena was impressive when pushed into an unfamiliar role, filling in at first base when Joey Votto was out for so long with his knee injury, but he wasn’t productive enough to offset the loss of the team’s franchise player.
Speaking of the franchise player…who is it? Can Cincinnati count of Joey Votto? Is Jay Bruce ever going to find consistency? Is Johnny Cueto going to re-sign, and, can the Reds afford to sign him OR afford to let him leave? Is Devin Mesoraco the future of the franchise? Can Billy Hamilton hit enough to become a difference-maker to the franchise?
The Reds still have a lot of talent, but they have a lot of questions to answer, as well. Jocketty did a nice job in acquiring more arms and additional depth in his flurry of deals, but if 2015 is the last year that the team will have Cueto and a couple of other solid arms to pitch the club to a division title, did he do enough to win now? Are they trying to win now?
The offseason isn’t quite over and there are still some starting pitchers who could be solid additions to the roster (RHP Chris Young, RHP Kyle Kendrick, LHP Paul Maholm, RHP Roberto Hernandez, LHP Franklin Morales), but they certainly aren’t going to be in on RHPs Max Scherzer or James Shields.
If things break right, the Reds should be competitive enough to make a run in the NL Central, but there will be a lot of luck involved in those breaks. While Cincinnati was spoiled in the 1970’s, it just hasn’t been the same for those of us who were born after 1980. One title in a lifetime doesn’t seem like a lot, but at least it hasn’t been since 1908.
On Saturday, the Oakland A’s acquired UTIL Ben Zobrist and SS Yunel Escobar from the Tampa Bay Rays for C/DH John Jaso and two minor leaguers, CF Boog Powell and SS Daniel Robertson. This, of course, comes on the heels of the deal with Toronto, which sent the A’s star third baseman, Josh Donaldson, to the Jays for a strong package of minor leaguers (SS Franklin Barreto, LHP Sean Nolin, and RHP Kendall Graveman) and oft-injured 2B/3B Brett Lawrie, and the A’s deal with the White Sox, which sent Jeff Samardzija to Chicago (along with Michael Ynoa, the former bonus baby) for INF Marcus Semien, C Josh Phegley, RHP Chris Bassitt, and minor league INF Rangel Ravelo. The trades have changed the outlook on the future, especially after the club appeared to be heading in a new direction when they traded their gifted shortstop prospect Addison Russell to the Cubs to acquire Samardzija, while dealing Yoenis Cespedes to the Red Sox for Jon Lester for a huge push at the deadline in 2014. However, after Saturday’s deal, the roster looks like it has had more face-lifts than Joan Rivers, but it still has the Billy Beane touch, as Susan Slusser, of the San Francisco Chronicle, tweeted:
— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) January 10, 2015
With the additions of Zobrist and Escobar, the A’s have found a new shortstop for 2015, which was important considering the lack of range that Semien would have had at the position, while gaining the most versatile player in baseball this side of Craig Biggio in Zobrist. Still, there are some questions that could remain for A’s fans.
Why did they give up Russell for Samardzija, only to turn around and deal him months later?
If they felt comfortable with Robertson as the shortstop of the future enough to deal Russell, why did they deal Robertson as a centerpiece in a deal for Zobrist and Esobar?
If they ever felt that Robertson was the shortstop of the future, why did they get Barreto as a centerpiece of the deal with the Jays, while trading away their best offensive piece from a team that was starved for offense down the stretch in 2014?
Many of these questions are logical, but no one really knows what Billy Beane is thinking. The end result, however, shows that Beane was able to acquire several pieces that are quite useful right now, while stockpiling his system with high-impact, controllable talent. Sure, Billy Butler isn’t going to replace the production that Josh Donaldson provided (he certainly won’t be coming close to earning an MVP vote without a drastic career bounceback), but the potential that they received in Lawrie, plus the addition of so many other useful parts allows the club to get back to the foundation of on-base skills and productivity through strong plate appearances that made the Moneyball movement such a dynamic influence on the organization and the world of baseball.
The versatility in the order and the presence of veterans like Zobrist, Crisp, Reddick, and Butler in the Oakland lineup may help the A’s get to the next level. They still have solid depth in the rotation with Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, Jesse Hahn (acquired from San Diego for Derek Norris this winter), the returning-from-surgery A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker, and their choice of youngsters Nolin, Bassitt, Graveman, and Drew Pomeranz, and the A’s will just need things to click right, which seems to always happen with Beane on board.
Certainly what Beane has done over the last eight months doesn’t seem perfect, but he looks to have another group of players who will be capable of reaching 87 or more wins again, something the A’s have done 11 times in the 17 seasons that he has been the GM in Oakland.
I don’t have a Hall of Fame vote with the BBWAA, but I DO have one with the IBWAA. The Internet Baseball Writers Association of America gives a voice to the common writer, who tends to be the common fan – one who doesn’t utilize a national platform to showcase their personal agenda, while using a large publication to demonstrate their lack of knowledge. For those who are willing to be open-minded regarding their education of the greatest game ever played, the ever-changing numbers-crunching and constant flow of information has changed how many around the game think; however, there are still a few, like the link above, which detail how wrong so many actually voting for the Hall of Fame actually are.
Beyond the credentialed irrationality of many within the BBWAA, we are left with the limitations, which are being challenged now that a dramatic number of worthy candidates are on a ballot that can only allow up to 10 players into Cooperstown each year. To overcome the shortcomings, we have the IBWAA, which is filled with bloggers, and national writers who don’t yet qualify for the BBWAA vote, and perhaps never will. Within the IBWAA, we can vote for up to 15 players each year, and I used each vote on a loaded ballot, while leaving off some very good players, as well. Below, you’ll find my ballot, but some valuable information from the IBWAA:
The IBWAA ballot compares identically to the BBWAA ballot, with the following exceptions:
1. Craig Biggio’s name does not appear on the IBWAA ballot because he was elected by the group in 2014.
2. Mike Piazza’s name does not appear on the IBWAA ballot because he was elected by the group in 2013.
3. Barry Larkin’s name does appear on the ballot because he has not reached the 75% threshold in an IBWAA election.
Per a group decision in 2013, the IBWAA allows members to vote for 15 players, instead of the previous 10, beginning with this election.
|162 Game Avg.||162||711||587||114||174||37||2||34||115||15||106||117||.297||.408||.540||.948||149||317|
Bagwell was a monster, who had one of the greatest seasons in the history of baseball in 1994 before the strike ended it. His career was shortened by shoulder woes, but he was one of the most feared athletes in the game, a Rookie of the Year, an MVP, and a four-time All-Star, who had 2.89 career MVP shares.
|162 Game Avg.||162||684||534||121||159||33||4||41||108||28||139||83||.298||.444||.607||1.051||182||324|
|162 Game Avg.||17||9||3.12||34||34||6||2||236||201||91||82||17||76||224||143||3.09||1.173||7.7||2.96|
|162 Game Avg.||17||9||3.29||34||34||6||2||230||186||95||84||23||83||271||135||3.19||1.171||7.3||3.26|
|162 Game Avg.||162||672||599||93||173||39||3||27||107||7||56||107||.290||.356||.500||.855||123||299|
|162 Game Avg.||162||673||590||99||174||33||6||15||71||28||70||61||.295||.371||.444||.815||116||262|
|162 Game Avg.||17||8||2.93||37||31||4||1||217||171||77||71||18||58||242||154||2.91||1.054||7.1||4.15|
|162 Game Avg.||162||670||577||89||164||29||2||32||102||5||86||124||.284||.377||.509||.886||134||294|
|162 Game Avg.||162||662||535||101||141||22||1||50||122||1||114||138||.263||.394||.588||.982||163||315|
|162 Game Avg.||162||671||574||102||169||28||7||11||63||52||86||63||.294||.385||.425||.810||123||244|
|162 Game Avg.||162||688||580||103||169||29||2||32||105||16||93||74||.292||.393||.514||.907||140||298|
|162 Game Avg.||12||9||3.33||41||27||3||1||9||196||174||79||73||16||57||174||125||3.24||1.176||8.0||3.05|
|162 Game Avg.||162||681||607||102||166||26||3||42||115||16||64||159||.273||.344||.534||.878||128||324|
|162 Game Avg.||162||662||586||87||167||29||4||13||71||17||60||62||.285||.352||.415||.767||110||243|
|162 Game Avg.||162||654||563||110||176||38||5||31||107||19||74||100||.313||.400||.565||.965||141||318|
Free agency has officially started, with two of the top names on the market, Michael Cuddyer and Victor Martinez, already reaching new agreements (Cuddyer, two-years, $21 million with the Mets) or re-signing with their club (Martinez, four-years, $68 million). There’s still plenty of time remaining for teams to make improvements or trades, and these are the names that you’ll want to know, while hoping that your team makes the highest bid.
- Hanley Ramirez, SS
- Yoan Moncada, SS – Cuba
- Max Scherzer, RHP
- Yasmany Tomas, OF – Cuba
- Pablo Sandoval, 3B
- Jon Lester, LHP
- James Shields, RHP
- Nelson Cruz, OF/DH
- Russell Martin, C
- Melky Cabrera, OF
- Ervin Santana, RHP
- Francisco Liriano, LHP
- Kenta Maeda, RHP – Japan
- Brandon McCarthy, RHP
- Andrew Miller, LHP
- David Robertson, RHP
- Nick Markakis, OF
- Chase Headley, 3B
- Jason Hammel, RHP
- Hyeon-jong Yang, LHP – Korea
- Sergio Romo, RHP
- Alex Rios, OF
- Nori Aoki, OF
- Michael Morse, 1B/OF
- Colby Rasmus, OF
- Jed Lowrie, SS
- Hector Olivera, 2B – Cuba
- Billy Butler, 1B/DH
- Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
- Jung-ho Kang, SS – Korea
RIP – This is so sad for many, many reasons. As a fan of baseball, it is certainly horrific, but my thoughts and prayers go out to his friends and family, the family of his girlfriend, and the St. Louis Cardinals organization.
Originally posted on The Baseball Haven:
If you don’t know who Oscar Taveras is at this point, you should ask your internet service provider to explain how you’ve had Wi-Fi go through the boulder that you’ve been living under. Taveras has been a top prospect for three seasons ranking 23rd in 2012, 2nd in 2013, and 3rd in 2014 prior to each season (Baseball Prospectus), gaining all kinds of impressive comps along the way, including Vladimir Guerrero. The left-handed hitting outfielder was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals in November of 2008 at the tender age of 16. Much like Gregory Polanco, who I wrote about on Wednesday, he appears stuck in the minors due to the financial constraints of the Super Two process, although…the Cardinals do have better talent blocking Taveras than what the Pirates have blocking Polanco, as Matt Adams and Allen Craig seem much more capable than Jose Tabata and
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1. Kris Bryant, 3B/OF, Chicago Cubs
2. Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins
Say what you’d like to about Buxton’s inability to stay on the field – it still doesn’t tell me that he’s lost any tools. However, if he has another lost season, it may be time to re-evaluate that view. Power, speed, and elite centerfield defense make him valuable in fantasy and real-life baseball. He has more tools than Lowe’s.
3. Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros
4. Addison Russell, SS, Chicago Cubs
5. Joey Gallo, 3B, Texas Rangers
6. Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians
7. Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers
8. Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins
9. Jorge Soler, OF, Chicago Cubs
10. Lucas Giolito, RHP, Washington Nationals
11. Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
12. Julio Urias, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
13. Carlos Rodon, LHP, Chicago White Sox
14. Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
15. Dylan Bundy, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
16. Jon Gray, RHP, Colorado Rockies
17. Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets
18. Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
19. Robert Stephenson, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
20. Kohl Stewart, RHP, Minnesota Twins
21. Andrew Heaney, LHP, Miami Marlins
22. Hunter Harvey, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
23. Jorge Alfaro, C, Texas Rangers
24. Daniel Norris, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays
25. Henry Owens, LHP, Boston Red Sox
26. Blake Swihart, C, Boston Red Sox
27. David Dahl, OF, Colorado Rockies
28. Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
29. Alex Meyer, RHP, Minnesota Twins
30. Jose Berrios, RHP, Minnesota Twins
31. Aaron Nola, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies
32. Tyler Kolek, RHP, Miami Marlins
33. J.P. Crawford, SS, Philadelphia Phillies
34. Nick Gordon, SS, Minnesota Twins
35. Clint Frazier, OF, Cleveland Indians
36. Jesse Winker, OF, Cincinnati Reds
37. Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
38, D.J. Peterson, 1B/3B, Seattle Mariners
39. Braden Shipley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
40. Kyle Crick, RHP, San Francisco Giants
41. Eddie Butler, RHP, Colorado Rockies
42. Raul Mondesi, SS, Kansas City Royals
43. Lucas Sims, RHP, Atlanta Braves
44. Mark Appel, RHP, Houston Astros
45. A.J. Cole, RHP, Washington Nationals
46. Garin Cecchini, 3B, Boston Red Sox
47. Josh Bell, 1B/OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
48. Nick Kingham, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
49. Kyle Schwarber, C/OF, Chicago Cubs
50. Michael Foltynewicz, RHP, Houston Astros
51. Luis Severino, RHP, New York Yankees
52. Kevin Plawecki, C, New York Mets
53. Matt Wisler, RHP, San Diego Padres
54. Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Kansas City Royals
55. Michael Taylor, OF, Washington Nationals
56. Austin Meadows, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
57. Domingo Santana, OF, Houston Astros
58. Max Fried, LHP, San Diego Padres
59. Rusney Castillo, 2B/OF, Boston Red Sox
60. Albert Almora, OF, Chicago Cubs
61. Austin Hedges, C, San Diego Padres
62. C.J. Edwards, RHP, Chicago Cubs
63. Sean Manaea, LHP, Kansas City Royals
64. Maikel Franco, 1B/3B, Philadelphia Phillies
65. Christian Bethancourt, C, Atlanta Braves
66. Jose Peraza, 2B/SS, Atlanta Braves
67. Stephen Piscotty, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
68. Brandon Nimmo, OF, New York Mets
69. Dalton Pompey, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
70. Nomar Mazara, OF, Texas Rangers
71. Aaron Blair, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
72. Gary Sanchez, C, New York Yankees
73. Raimel Tapia, OF, Colorado Rockies
74. Nick Williams, OF, Texas Rangers
75. Alen Hanson, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates
76. Hunter Dozier, 3B, Kansas City Royals
77. Kyle Freeland, LHP, Colorado Rockies
78. Steven Moya, 1B/OF, Detroit Tigers
79. Micah Johnson, 2B, Chicago White Sox
80. Alexander Reyes, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
81. Jorge Polanco, 2B, Minnesota Twins
82. Trea Turner, SS, San Diego Padres
83. Michael Conforto, OF, New York Mets
84. Rosell Herrera, SS, Colorado Rockies
85. Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
86. Billy McKinney, OF, Chicago Cubs
87. Justin Nicolino, LHP, Miami Marlins
88. Brandon Finnegan, LHP, Kansas City Royals
89. Matt Olson, 1B, Oakland Athletics
90. Tim Anderson, SS, Chicago White Sox
91. Touki Toussaint, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
92. Hunter Renfroe, OF, San Diego Padres
93. Alex Jackson, C/OF, Seattle Mariners
94. Marco Gonzales, LHP, St. Louis Cardinals
95. Lewis Brinson, OF, Texas Rangers
96. Jeff Hoffman, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
97. Grant Holmes, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
98. Bradley Zimmer, OF, Cleveland Indians
99. Rob Kaminsky, LHP, St. Louis Cardinals
100. Sean Newcomb, LHP, Los Angeles Angels
The Reds aren’t good, finishing with a losing record while facing a fall from contention in 2014, nursing a prolonged absence from their superstar, Joey Votto. So, with this season lost and little room on the payroll, what will the team do to improve? Likely…nothing. Ownership clearly didn’t have any intentions of improving the roster, at least not at the cost of…a cost. Last winter left a lot to be desired, as the loss of Shin-Soo Choo led to the promotion of Billy Hamilton, yet, there was little to nothing done to off-set the loss of offensive production between those two players, as the Reds can only take solace in the fact that Choo wasn’t nearly as productive in 2014 with the Texas Rangers as he was in 2013 with Cincinnati. The addition of Skip Schumaker wasn’t enough, and the loss of Choo on top of two trade deadline (2013 and 2014) with no movement whatsoever leaves the Reds in a situation that isn’t favorable for the club’s future.
Now, with Homer Bailey paid handsomely with his extension, the Reds are unlikely to see a large enough increase in payroll to allow the team to add an offensive weapon, and with Jay Bruce‘s horrific season and the questions surrounding Votto’s health hovering over the future of the franchise, it appears time to sell off the pieces that the club can move and hope for the best with some young talent.
Enter Johnny Cueto.
Heading into Friday night, Cueto has made 100 starts since the start of the 2011 season. They have been very good:
51-25, 2.52 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 661.1 IP, 553:178 K:BB
While Cueto doesn’t have the innings over the last four seasons that Mike Leake or Homer Bailey have, he has shown the consistency that neither have presented, and, while Mat Latos has top-of-the-rotation stuff, his injury history and ability to handle his emotions have played a role in his inability to become an elite pitcher in MLB. Cueto, however, continues to improve, and with another season with 200 innings (his second, 2012 being his other), the 28-year-old right-hander has done enough to emphasize his value to the rest of the league.
The Cincinnati Reds have a team option on Cueto for 2015, as they can pay him $10 million to keep him or $800,000 to buy him out. That option is an easy decision, but Cueto is the lone player on the Reds who has positive value in trades, as Votto and Bruce certainly aren’t worth dealing considering the loss of market value and the remaining money on their contracts.
Cueto is a bargain. While $10 million seems like a lot of money, consider that Tim Lincecum will earn $18 million in 2015, Ubaldo Jimenez will earn $12.25 million in 2015, and Edwin Jackson will earn $11 million in 2015. Even a single year of control would have tremendous value for the Cincinnati Reds in a potential trade, and with so many question marks for the club offensively (as they rank 28th in MLB in runs scored), dealing from their strength, starting pitching, is necessary, and getting the most value out of their strength would force a trade of the club’s ace, Cueto.
So, who would be interested?
Boston Red Sox: Piecing together a rotation, especially if they are unable to make a deal with Jon Lester in free agency. They also have plenty of outfield depth after signing Rusney Castillo and trading for Yoenis Cespedes. Mookie Betts or Jackie Bradley would be excellent pieces to start a deal, and acquiring a young arm, like Henry Owens or Anthony Ranaudo, or infield prospect from their loaded farm system could be very lucrative and beneficial to the future of the organization.
Chicago Cubs: The Cubs are loaded with offensive talent, but they don’t have much pitching depth in their system, especially in the upper minors and the majors. Cueto would be an excellent piece to anchor the rotation, but it is fair to question if the Reds would trade Cueto in-division, as well as whether the Cubs can trust all of their existing young pieces enough to be competitive by adding Cueto.
Baltimore Orioles: The O’s may be looking to get Cueto for one final push before the makeup of their current, AL East winning club begins to fall apart. After the 2015 season, both Chris Davis and Matt Wieters will be free agents, and it is fair to wonder if either would be non-tendered after the 2014 season, joining Nick Markakis in the land of confusion, as their right fielder is owed $17.5 million or a $2 million buyout (which appears to make his days in Baltimore numbered). If the Reds want pitching depth, the Orioles have it, but they could have some interest in Jonathan Schoop as a starting piece, as well.
It would be unfortunate to see Cueto leave Cincinnati. He has been fantastic during his career when he is healthy, which has been the leading factor in his ability to fly under the national radar. Cueto would certainly be missed in the Reds’ rotation, but the club is in desperate need of offense, and after signing Bailey, they won’t be able to extend their ace. Did they extend the wrong pitcher? In my opinion…absolutely. I’d much rather pay Cueto $20 to $22 million per season than to pay Bailey the $10 million that he will earn in 2015, let alone the $18 to $25 million he earns annually between 2016 and 2020. Cueto has proven to be capable of greatness, and his time in Cincinnati needs to come to an end so that the team can return to greatness at some point in the near future.
I was lucky enough to earn a chance to join the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America this year, joining a group of internet bloggers and several other overqualified folks who aren’t members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Those of us who love baseball enough to write about it, most of the time for free, have found the IBWAA to be a blessing, as we have an opportunity to vote for the Hall of Fame and yearly awards without having the all encompassing vendetta that so many of the national writers take with them to their ballots, whether its a poor relationship or experience with a team or player, or the constant hatred of those who have used performance-enhancing drugs.
This is my first ballot, so I figured that I would publish it. Take a look and let me know what you think. NOTE: There is some sort of formatting issue with the last cell on the American League, as that should be for the AL Reliever of the Year.
American League ballot:
AL Cy Young
the National League ballot:
NL CY YOUNG