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Baseball Babblings


I love this movie and this scene.  There is an excellent website called movieclips.com where you can find all sorts of your favorite film blurbs and snippets.  It’s a cool idea.
Rirruto?
Lots of wheelings and dealings already in the baseball offseason, so here are some thoughts about what’s going on while I prep the preseason fantasy rankings no one is waiting for…

Reds Acquire Latos for Volquez, Yonder Alonso et al.

  • Guess we’re starting with the most recent.  This deal is chock-full of intriguing story threads, as the MLB offseason has been in general.  I like how Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner and Fangraphs said it best: “The Cincinnati Reds had an abundance of redundant prospects and a big need to upgrade their starting rotation…(link)”  Something about that phrasing ‘abundance of redundant prospects’ tickled me just so for its combination of clever turn of phrase and truth.  The Reds are stubbornly holding on to the notion that they’re going to re-sign Joey Votto and not completely throw their payroll out of whack (note: don’t hold your breath on that one).  The deal made a whole lot of sense.  The Reds legitimately have an overload of offensive talent.  Yonder Alonso is a serious prospect (he MAULED at the end of 2011) but he is blocked by the likes of Joey Bats, and the other good prospect in the deal, Yasmani Grandal, was blocked by Alonso, Votto, and Devin Mesoraco and any other young’n who might slip into the left field/1st base/3rd base equation (I know he’s a catcher but that’s where he’d get at-bats).  The Padres get two really good young bats.  The Padres really need some good young bats.  They also get an excellent contender for the Petco-factor in Edinson Volquez, whose inconsistencies and high fly ball rate should benefit greatly from the measurable difference that park brings.  On second thought, his fly ball is pretty standard- it’s the staggering number of walks that is the real problem (over 5 per 9 the last two years).  Petco seemingly would have no effect on the walks, based on statistical analysis.  However, if you’ve ever watched Volquez pitch, it is abundantly clear that he walks so many because he does not attack hitters with his secondary pitches the same way he does with his fastball.  This is a similar issue his former partner in crime Johnny Cueto had before taking ‘that next step.’  Point being, in spacious Petco Park, perhaps Volquez will be more aggressive in the strike zone as he knows he won’t give up nearly the amount of homers he did in Cincy.  I’m planning on drafting Volquez when I get the chance in fantasy and I’m fairly sure he’s going to see better numbers in sunny San Diego.  Not sure what can be said about Latos, he’s an excellent pitcher, it just seems talent evaluators question his maturity.  A lot.  Dude seems to be lotta tats, little brain.  He’s still a damn fine pitcher and fits in nicely with the other power arms the Reds have.  This appears to be one of those elusive win-win deals, in my book at least.  The Padres, despite the presence of former Red Sox great Anthony Rizzo, need some spice, some pop in that lineup.  Alonso alone provides that.  The fact that the Friars also got a huge potential starter in Volquez and a good hitting catcher in Grandal (not to mention guy who I’ve read several places has ‘closer stuff’ in this Brad Boxberger character) means they both addressed a need and found an immediate, if temporary, stopgap for the talent they just shipped off.  The Reds get a top-of-the-line starter to accompany Cueto and their other promising young arms (including, apparently, Aroldis Chapman), and hung on to Mesoraco and their young arms.  I’ll be watching how these players adjust to their new surroundings to see how things shake down, I advise you do the same (especially once fantasy drafts REALLY start up).

    the Rockies signed Cuddyer to such a big deal because they’re hoping he can be their #5 starter as well

Rox sign Cuddyer to 3-year $31.5 Million deal

  • Keith Law wrote an Insider piece discussing how the Rockies overpaid to get Mike Cuddyer and I tend to agree with him.  But I thought on the deal some more and have reconsidered my stance.  I was, as I usually am, looking through the glass of fantasy baseball as I looked at Cuddyer.  On the surface, and in fantasy, players like Cuddyer are anything but rare.  You can pull a 1B/OF from just about anywhere during the season, from the real waiver wire to the one online.  However Cuddyer brings more to the table.  There is the obvious intangible, but still highly valuable, ‘character guy’ aspect of the former Twinkie, which cannot be denied.  Every account you read and all the reactions of former teammates point to the fact that Mike Cuddyer is a vital and well-respected part of a clubhouse culture.  People like him.  If I’ve learned anything about baseball, it’s that clubhouse culture means a lot more than other sports – 162 games plus spring training is a LOOOOOONG time to be stuck with the same 25(ish) guys.  More important to both your fantasy team and your team-team, though, is Cuddyer’s versatility.  He can hit, and that’s important in Colorado.  But he can also play multiple infield AND outfield positions, giving the Rox lineup flexibility.  I’m all about flexibility.  I’m winking at you right now through the interweb as you read that.
  • Speaking of versatility, the Indians signed Jose Lopez.  This may seem like a non-story, but Lopez could be a sneaky source of power if he gets at bats around the infield.  Nick Punto signed with the Red Sox and will be the balancing not sneaky anti-power.  Even in baseball every action must have an equal and opposite reaction.

    that’s gonna be one hell of a face touch

– Dodgers sign Juan Rivera and Chris Capuano

  • Let’s be honest.  As this month turns, the new year brings on a new baseball season and overall awesomeness.  The months leading up to spring training are delightfully full of movement- to those who are paying attention.  Sure something boisterous will happen, Papelbon signing with the Phillies, the Marlins spending millions, a monkey riding a dog.  But look back over baseball history (more importantly FANTASY baseball history).  Sometimes the tiny actions have the largest reactions.  As a Red Sox fan, it is easy to forget David Ortiz was brought in to split time with… Jeremy Giambi.  Yes, Jeremy Giambi.

As it is with my other love, movies, sometimes the blockbuster loses out to the small indie with a strong cast.  The analogy just got confusing but you get the picture.

The winter meetings have come and gone.  Some big (if not the BIGGEST) names have moved and I’m sure we will be seeing the more traditional big deals soon, with the aforementioned Reds-Pads trade as proof. But there have already been some moves to be aware of.  Small but deadly, like a honeybadger.  Or Oddjob.  Or Jigglypuff.  
Juan Rivera is an interesting case.  A career .277 hitter, he has twice hit 20+ homers and generally hits lefties very well.  He also has a track record for hitting better as the season wears on.  This track record is certainly skewed by the fact that this gentleman seems to have trouble staying healthy for more than 120 games.  I’d imagine that the sometimes punchless Dodger offense could use some help, any help, so Rivera should get ample opportunity.  Playing his games in the NL West should be interesting as Dodger Stadium, Chase Field and, obviously, Coors Field all are good environments for right-handed power hitters (The porch at Dodger Stadium is literally short.  Average in distance and shorter than mini-me). 

Chris Capuano will also benefit from pitching in the NL West, one would think.  No team in that division is particularly known for their offensive consistency.  Granted, they’re not the hapless saps they once were, but again, still inconsistent.  Coming back from injury, Capuano has proven to be a solid back-end starter.  The past 2 seasons have seen strong finishes from Capuano, who has had several very solid months (August of 2011, for example, he had a 1.17 WHIP and 38 K’s in 37.2 innings.).  Though it seems undoubtedly crazy, I am thinking ahead and Capuano is high atop my list of pitchers to pay attention to when I’m looking to stream a start.  Something to consider.

BUNT!

This is a very interesting deal.  The Royals have quietly built up a staff of power arms… and Bruce Chen.  Soria, the newly acquired Broxton, and Tim Collins can get swings and misses in the bullpen.  Sanchez, Danny Duffy, and Felipe Paulino.   And Bruce Chen, who is the baseball equivalent of a ‘game-manager’ in football.  Making fun of Brucey aside, the Royals would appear to be heading in the right direction with a promising young pitching staff and an intriguing mix of young talent (Gordon, Hosmer) and prospects on the way (Lorenzo Cain, Wil Myers).  They could be on the up and up, especially if they got the Jonathan Sanchez of the second halves (go ahead, click that link, he’s had a few very, very good post-All Star performances).  Sanchez will always be a risk to walk 8, but the fact that he’ll play the Twins a bunch will help his stats, as will his move to the American League.  DOUBLE TAKE.  What did I just type?  No you read it right, so hear me out – yes, the AL, with it’s DH’s and better offensive numbers, would seem like a pitcher’s worst nightmare, but the move might actually help a power guy like Sanchez, sort of.  I don’t doubt he’ll walk a bunch, but his stuff is very good and there are also many more swingers and miss-ers in the AL than the NL.  It’s one of those backwards sort of logic theories that makes baseball work.  Or it does in my head. So there.

The Melkman really broke out last year.  He is a talented player and I would bet he continues with numbers more similar to last year than his time with the Braves, though it would be unreasonable to expect him to match all his stats from 2011.  His speed, however, will translate.  He hit 44 doubles and stole 20 bases in 2011 (throw in the 5 triples, too).  These are both reachable numbers for 2012.  In fact, given the spacious parks in the NL West and the difference in style-of-play in the NL, I think Cabrera should be in line for a very good (and fantasy-useful) season full of extra base hits.  44 doubles, 18 homers and 5 triples in 2011?  While those homers will easily drop, is 50 doubles out of the question?  Melky should be a good addition to the top of that lineup and could be in line for scoring close to 100 runs if Posey comes back and some of the pieces the Gents have click.  Both the Melkman and Angel Pagan are good fits for the big AT&T park defensively and offensively.  Both are also great late(ish)-round plays in your fantasy drafts…. which are coming… soon…

  • I WAITED AS LONG AS I COULD.  THE DARK KNIGHT RISES 2ND TRAILER IS OUT.  I REPEAT; THE 2ND TRAILER FOR THE DARK KNIGHT RISES IS OUT.  WATCH IT UNTIL YOU BEGIN WEEPING, AS I DID.  GO.
I am quite literally shaking with excitement.  I have been watching and re-watching this all day.  Holy crap.
It will be good to see what Jed Lowrie can produce given a new situation.  He’s able to play all over the infield and is a good guy, by all accounts.   Here’s to hoping he stays healthy and has a chance to flourish.  Reviews are mixed on Weiland but based on what I’ve seen, he has good enough stuff to be an effective back of the rotation starter, especially in the National League (or, more specifically, pitching ANYWHERE besides the AL East).  What is really interesting about the deal is the dominoes it knocks over.  The acquisition gives the Red Sox confidence to move both Daniel Bard and possibly Alfredo Aceves to the starting corps.  Both are pitchers to watch as either could turn out to be extremely effective in a new role.  These movements also alter the remaining closer landscape.  Where will Madson go now?  How about Cordero?  The Red Sox had been obvious choices for some remaining Closers.  They still could sign one, but the field is more interesting now.  Do the Red Sox bring Jose Iglesias on in some sort of reserve role if Mike Aviles struggles?  He exceeded any and all expectations in his time with the Sox and can play the outfield, so he’d have to play very, very poorly – but still, it could happen.
Not that it has anything to do with this deal, but who else is excited about a Nick Punto-Dustin Pedroia double play?  Awesome sauce.
There you have it, some thoughts on baseball’s movings and shakings.  I’m sure there will be more to come (maybe the Phillies will make a run at Jermaine Dye?), so stay tuned.
-w
oh and WATCH THIS SOME MORE:

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