Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Good and Bad for Buyers and Sellers at the Trade Deadline

The trade deadline is one of the best times in the baseball calendar. Whether a team is a buyer or a seller, the trade deadline is essential to teams’ success. Obviously teams would like to be buyers because that means you in playoff contention, but being a seller isn’t all bad. It actually can be quite good for a struggling franchise. With that here are the reasons its good (and bad) to be a buyer or a seller.
Why it’s good – If a team is a buyer that means that they are in a playoff race. Those teams are looking for that one piece to complete the team or that piece to push a border line team over the top. There are usually not that one huge superstar like Carlos Beltran on the market. When there is a superstar that is acquired it have a huge impact on the playoff race. One of the best examples of this being CC Sabathia in 2008 with the Brewers. CC carried the Brewers going 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA and 7 complete games in 17 starts down the stretch. Teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Phillies can make these types of trades because one they have the money needed to pay the big contracts; and two have the top prospects needed to acquire these stars. These teams are willing to risk their future because those teams want to win now. All they want is the World Series title and will risk potential superstars to get a current one.
Why it’s bad – The worst thing the front office of a buying team can do is not acquire anyone. This is bad because every team has holes. Very very few teams have ever been built to perfection. GM’s are always looking to make their team better. Now not making any trades is bad it can prevent much worse things from happening. Not making trades prevents teams from trading top prospects for a 2 month rental. Trading top prospects is fine for teams that are in win now mode but for surprise teams like the Pirates or Indians it can be devastating. Both the Pirates and Indians were not expected to contend for another couple of seasons. Risking future contention for one year is the wrong move. It is not going to help the future of the franchise to trade 6 years of a potential superstar for 2 months of a current one. Teams in these situations should hold their prospects and wait for them to develop. Then when those prospects reach the majors and the team is contending, that is when the team should go out and acquire that piece to complete the team. Until then just keep your prospects.

piece to complete the team. Until then just keep your prospects.
Why it’s bad – Clearly if a team is a seller that means they are doing poorly. Whether that was expected or if the team underperformed, either way it’s not the best position to be in as a GM. When a team is selling that means they are trying to trade their veteran players who usually will be free agents at the end of the season. The immediate impact of this is that the team, already underperforming will in most cases get worse. Doing worse yes is bad but it can be tolerated if a good prospect or two can be acquired. Getting a good prospect can be a very difficult task for a GM. Every team has a value that they put on their players and players in other organizations. Knowing that selling teams have to try and make teams overpay for their players. This is now just simple economics, the more teams that are interested the higher the price will be. This is very difficult to do because if other players that are out there that are better than your player then the price will be lower. If enough alternatives are available then teams may be stuck with that veteran who will leave at seasons end.
Why it’s good – Being a seller is very good for a struggling club. As said in the bad it is quite difficult to get a good prospect if other better players are available. But if a team is lucky enough to possess the best player on the market than maximum value can be gotten fairly easily. Majority of buying teams will trade 1-2 top prospects for a rental. Prospects are very important for a rebuilding team. Not all prospects will succeed, but the more you have the more likely that one will succeed in the Majors. The higher the prospect is rated the likelier he is to have MLB success. The best way to acquire these prospects is to trade veterans at the deadline. The best thing about trading for a prospect is that they are much closer to the big leagues than say a top draftee. When a player is drafted it may take 4-5 years before he makes the majors. When a prospect is acquired via trade he is further along in his development and much closer to majors. In some case the player may be MLB ready or only 1 year away. These players will be able help the team much quicker than a drafted player.
In conclusion being a buyer and a seller can be both and bad, the best thing a team can do evaluate the position they are in and make proper decisions that will help the franchise in both the short term and the long term.
Comments are appreciated let me know how I’m doing and what I can improve on. Thanks   

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Second Half Story Lines

The second half is about a week old, and with the first half gone most teams understand their potential playoff chances. Teams like the Yankees and Red Sox know that they have a good chance of making the playoffs, while teams like the Royals know that they have no realistic shot of playing in October. And of course you have teams that are stuck in the middle like the Twins. Even if your team isn’t going to make the playoffs that doesn’t mean you should stop watching them and stop following the MLB. With that here are my top 2 story lines to follow for the second half.
1.       Will Pittsburgh and Cleveland maintain their strong first halves and make the playoffs.
These teams had 105 and 93 losses respectively last season. These teams have suffered for more than their fair share. Pittsburgh has had 18 straight losing seasons. Cleveland hasn’t won the World Series in 62 years.  With a strong first half the Pirates (50-44 1st in the NL Central) and Indians (55-44 1st in the AL Central) have shown that they are not a flash in the pan are the real deal. The fun now begins for the fans of these teams. Both teams are in tight divisional races and both are buyers at the deadline this year. They are both looking for the piece the will help them down the stretch. It’s going to be a great finish in the Centrals this year, and I’m sure the fans are excited.
2.       The MVP races.
In the NL Prince Fielder has a strong case to be made as the MVP, but what’s really intriguing is where Andrew McCutchen finishes. He is having a strong year (.279/.379/.448) and is widely regarded as one of the best if not the best defensive center fielder in the game. He is the star of a very surprising Pirates team that is right in the thick of the NL central race. He is definitely valuable to the Pirates. Without him they are not in first place fighting for a playoff spot. It will be really interesting to see how many MVP votes he gets. Another player to follow this second half is Matt Kemp. He is having his best season of his career, this after his worst season worst season as a big leaguer last season. He has 24 homeruns and 27 stolen bases in 97 games.  He is on pace for 41 HR and 46 SB which would make him the fifth player ever to have a 40-40 season, and the first since Alfonzo Soriano in 2006. If Kemp has this historical season shouldn’t he be the MVP. Many fans will say yes, but the voters will look to the fact that the Dodgers are 4th place in the NL West. That shouldn’t matter but it does in the eyes of the voters, making the MVP race one to follow in the second half.
In the AL the MVP race is much closer than the NL race. But that doesn’t mean it won’t still be interesting to follow. The clear leader statistically is Jose Bautista with a .332/.465/.691 slash line. That OBP and SLG are both league leading. He has 31 HR and 75 walks, both of which are also currently leading the league. The argument against Bautista is the same one as with Kemp. Bautista plays for a 4th place Jays team that has no shot of making the playoffs. Voters will likely lead towards Adrian Gonzalez who leads the league in batting average (.337), hits (130), and RBI’s (78). He trails Bautista in OBP .465-.400 and SLG .691-.513. Clearly based on pure numbers Bautista is having a far better season but Gonzalez is more “valuable” in the eyes of the voters, making the AL MVP race an intriguing one to follow this second half.      

Friday, July 15, 2011

Changing the All Star Game

There is quite a bit wrong with the All Star game. As I was watching the game on TV I grew so tired of the announcers saying that Bruce Bochy was going to play match ups and focus really hard on trying to win, because as you know this one counts. But really this game doesn’t count. Yes it decides home field advantage for the World Series, but do you really think the players care about that. Do you believe that a guy like Jose Bautista is going to go out there and kill himself trying to win this game. His Blue Jays are in fourth place and have no shot of going to the World Series. I grew so tired of the announcers saying how intense this game was.  This game was not intense at all; look at what Heath Bell did when he came into the game. He sprinted in from the bullpen and slid into the mound. That was just hilarious and showed how little intensity there was in this game. If this was a regular season game he would not have done that players take season games seriously, Bell showed us what this game is supposed to be about fun. With that here are my ways to fix the all-star game.
Get rid of the stupid this game counts
Home field advantage in the World Series should not be decided by a meaningless game in July. Home field advantage should go to the team with the best record in the regular season. Now people say this is unfair since teams don’t play the same schedule and all that stuff, but it’s probably the fairest way to do it. It’s rewarding the team who played the best over the entire season. It’s also better than the previous way home field advantage was decided before it was decide by the All Star game. Previously it just alternated each year back and forth, the American League was in odd years and the National League was the even years. That way was fine but really the team with more wins should get home field advantage.
Change the Homerun Derby
The homerun derby needs to be changed. The derby is great, I enjoy it but more players need to be involved. I don’t think that more players should be added to the derby, but what I would like to see done is have more skills competitions other than just the derby. First I think the derby needs to be shortened so we can have more competitions. I feel that players in the derby should be cut in half so we have 4 players two from the AL and two from the NL. Also there needs to be less outs, 10 are far too many, it should be cut down to 5. With only four competitors the derby would only be 2 rounds. Of the four who are involved the top two obviously move on and the winner of that round is the homerun derby champion.
New Skills Competitions are needed.   
It would be great to see some other skills showcased other than just power. I would like to see a competition in involving defence and speed. For a defence competition, you have a fast runner on second (like a Matt Kemp) and you then have a player with a cannon of an arm in right field (like Bautista). You than have a coach hit the ball out to right field and the fielder has to try to throw out the runner coming home. If the runner is out a point is scored for the defence and if the runner beats the throw there league gets a point.
This would be exciting and fun to watch because what’s more exciting than a play at the plate not much in my opinion. Of course safety precautions would need to be taken, tell the runners not to collide with the catcher and tell the catchers not to block the plate. Overall I feel like this would be great to see.
If more events are being added there must be some form of speed event. Something like a race around the bases or a race to first base, something that all the players could compete in. It could be done by positions to keep it fair. There also could be a stolen base event. Have the catchers see if they can try and throw out some of the games fastest players. The stolen base is another very exciting play that I feel people would enjoy watching during an all-star skills competition.
There has been no talk about this actually happening but still I feel some changes are need to the all-star game and the homerun derby, and who knows maybe Bud Selig has something up his sleeve for next season.
Comments are appreciated; let me know how I’m doing and what I can improve on. Thanks.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Fixing the Jays Second Base Issue

I really don’t like Aaron Hill. He just isn’t any good in my opinion. He did have a great year in 2009 when he hit 36 homeruns drove in 108, hit .286, slugged .499, but even with all that he only had an on-base percentage of .330. That is not great but acceptable when you’re hitting with the type of power Hill showed. The next season Hill regressed badly he slumped to a .205/.271/.394 and this season so far though July 7th it’s not looking much better (.242/.281/.341). I really think that Hill needs to be replaced in the Jays line-up. There is one players that I would really like to see get a shot at the second base. That guy is Mike McCoy. Now before you all go nuts saying I’m crazy let’s have a look at some numbers: (Stats through July 7).
Player A vs. RHP- .232/.340/.351 in 228 At Bats
Player B vs. RHP- .233/.340/.372 in 43 At Bats
Yes player A has far more at AB’s but the way I look at it player A is probably not going to change a whole lot. That’s the player they are going to be the whole season. Player B on the other hand may not have peaked and with more AB’s may have a chance to be even better.  
Which player would you take? Too close to call let’s look at some more numbers.
Player A Salary for 2011- 5.5 million
Player B Salary for 2011- 422,300
If I was a general manager based of those numbers and salary numbers I would take player B. He does have less AB’s but has performed to basically the same batting line vs. RHP (the majority of the pitcher in the league are right handed) for 5 million dollars less.
Player A is Dustin Pedroia and Player B is Mike McCoy.
I bet that shocked a few of you. Yes Pedroia has far more at bats but still Mike McCoy has basically the same batting line versus righty pitching as Dustin Pedroia. This is quite telling, Pedroia is widely considered one of the best second basemen in the league. Yet the Jays can get similar production from a guy nobody has heard of. The Blue Jays should realize that they have a pretty good player on their hands in McCoy. He should be the starter over Hill. The Jays should see what McCoy can do if given the everyday job, at worst he can’t be much worse than Hill. I don’t want McCoy to come in here and be the leadoff guy, I want him to come in and be the second leadoff hitter in the nine spot. The Jays have multiple players who do the same thing as Hill which is low average and no on base skills, most notably Edwin Encarnacion (.240/.270/.395) and JP Arencibia (.212/.278/.428). McCoy gives them the chance to have someone who will take a walk and get on base a decent clip. Batting him ninth would allow him to get on base and help the set the table for the top of the line-up. The Jays more than likely are not going to do this but really there is no risk involved and they might as well try something as they don’t have hope of making the playoffs, so really why not? You could have a hidden gem.
Comments are appreciated let me know what you think, and how I can improve, thanks.   

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Yunel Escobar should be an All-Star

The All-Star teams we announced on Sunday. As expected Yunel Escobar did not make it. I feel that he should have made it. Yunel Escobar is the short-stop for the Toronto Blue Jays for those of you who don’t follow baseball up here in Canada. He is an exceptional baseball player having a great season for the Blue Jays. I fully believe that he should be an all-star this season but he was snubbed. The two SS that did make it were Derek Jeter, and Asdrubal Cabrera. Escobar is a better player than both of these guys yet even if one of them can’t play in the All-Star game, for whatever reason, he won’t even be picked as a replacement because people feel that Johnny Peralta deserves it.  Escobar has a .363 on-base percentage which is second among AL SS by .002 to the Tigers Peralta.  He’s fourth in hits with 86, 1 behind Peralta and 14 behind the leader Cabrera.  He leads AL SS with 35 walks, 12 ahead of Jeter and Peralta, and 15 ahead of Cabrera.  What Escobar loses in hits he makes up for with his walks. This is a homer post as I have had the pleasure of watching Yunel every day, the numbers show that he may not be the best SS in the AL as I had thought but he is still one of the best and destroys Jeter in everything. I don’t want this to turn into a Jeter bashing post but I really think that Escobar should be their over Jeter. Heck Peralta should be there over Jeter. I don’t like this life time all-star crap, like if we wanted life time all-stars then why don’t we bring in Hank Aaron or another life time all-star and have them play. I also don’t like the “this is who the fans want to see.” Really when it comes down to it only Yankee fans want to see Jeter. Every team’s fans wants to see their guy in the game. Jeter only makes it because New York is so populated that they can out vote other teams fans. If this game is supposed to “count” I don’t want Derek Jeter and his .236/.320/.320 on my team. I have to believe that Ron Washington the manager of the AL squad feels the same way. If I’m picking a team of all-stars and I’m trying to win I’m taking Escobar, but if I want lots of fans to be happy I’m taking Jeter. And clearly MLB is taking the latter and going with the fans, and this should not be in a game that should “count.”
Comments are appreciated. Let me know how I’m doing, what I can improve on, thanks.