The Dream Team (part three)

Intro: Recently I was looking at a Dave Cameron post over on fangraphs where he put Ryan Zimmerman as the play he would build a franchise around, because he’s young, a great fielder, and is a great hitter. This got me thinking, what would a DREAM TEAM for the next 10 (or longer) years look like? So here we go.

Here is the third part, with the third basemen and left fielders.

Starting 3B- Evan Longoria- The Rob Neyer pick for the franchise player, Longoria is a former number one prospect (according to Keith Law of ESPN), and owns a career line of .283/.360/.552 with 79 home runs, he’s a fantastic fielder (him and Ryan Zimmerman are the two best fielding third basemen), oh, and he’s only 24, not even in his prime yet. Also, he’s playing in the tougher league, and in the toughest division meaning in nine games he could face Ricky Romero, Brandon Marrow, Shawn Marcum, Josh Beckett, Clay Bucholz, John Lackey, CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, and Andy Pettitte. Those are some of the best pitchers in the majors, not just the AL East.

Backup 3B-Ryan Zimmerman- The Dave Cameron pick for the franchise player, Zimmerman owns a career .287/.353/.485 with 116 career home runs, he is the best or second best fielding third basemen, and he’s also only 25 years old, not even at his prime. He’s basically the Evan Longoria of the NL. Had he played any other position he would probably be the starter, as he is an absolute stud.

Apologies to: David Wright, Pablo Sandoval, Mark Reynolds, Adrian Beltre.

Starting LF-Ryan Braun- This might have been the toughest position, as I’ve got a stud speedster with power (Crawford), arguably the best player in baseball right whose only question is the state of his body after all the torture it’s been through (Hamilton), a big money Cardinal (Holliday), a breakout former top prospect (Young), a former ROY who has taken the league by storm (Braun), a beastly Nationals star (Willingham), and another stud speedster who no one believed in (Gardner). That’s not even mentioning a Carl Crawford 2.0 (Desmond Jennings) waiting in the minors. However, Braun is only 26, and arguably the best in the group already. A career .306/.362/.552 hitter with 122 home runs.

Backup LF-Josh Hamilton- I might be completely wrong, and Hamilton could fall off the face of baseball within the next two years, but I’ll take the risk. His personal demons are another story, but Hamilton is a career .311/.372/.545 hitter, and his numbers this year are absolutely absurd, .361/.413/.637.

MAJOR apologies to: Brett Gardner, Carl Crawford, Matt Holliday, Delmon Young, Josh Willingham, Desmond Jennings.

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The Dream Team (part two)

Intro: Recently I was looking at a Dave Cameron post over on fangraphs where he put Ryan Zimmerman as the play he would build a franchise around, because he’s young, a great fielder, and is a great hitter. This got me thinking, what would a DREAM TEAM for the next 10 (or longer) years look like? So here we go.

Here is the second part, with the middle infielders (second basemen and shortstops).

Starting 2B- Robinson Cano- Cano, while 27, is enjoying an MVP caliber year and should be a productive player even in 10 years. While Cano doesn’t have the same range as some second basemen, he has arguably the best arm and turns double plays extremely well. A career .309/.346/.491 line is fantastic for a middle infielder, but the Cano we are seeing this year might be a better indication of him in the future due his power really developing and starting to walk a lot more.

Backup 2B- Dustin Pedroia- While I could roll the dice on Gordan Beckham or Dustin Ackley (and there’s a good chance that in ten years I’ll look back on this list and wonder why I didn’t) Pedroia is, right now, the second best second basemen for the next 10 years. A notoriously scrappy player listed at a generous 5 foot 9, he owns a career line of .305/.369/.460.

Apologies to: Brandon Phillips, Dustin Ackley, Gordan Beckham, Martin Prado, Dan Uggla, Kelly Johnson.

Starting SS- Hanley Ramirez- What, you were expecting maybe Cesar Izturis? In a fairly weak young shortstop class, Hanley stands head and shoulders above the rest. A perennial MVP candidate and just 26 years old, he is actually having an off year and is still by far the best shortstop in the majors. While never a great defensive shortstop, a career .313/.384/.519 shows why he is the clear choice.

Backup SS- Starlin Castro- This one was much tougher, with Stephen Drew, Elvis Andrus, and Ian Desmond also getting strong consideration, along with a couple wild card prospects such as Tim Beckham and Dee Gordon. However, Castro’s age (just 20 years old) and bat (he’s hitting .308/.353/.431) are too good to pass up. While this list is only meant for the next ten years, and anything after that is just a bonus, Castro will be still in his peak years ten years from now. Stephen Drew and Elvis Andrus look to be the only two shortstops who, if they really come into their own (especially in Drew’s case), could unseat him.

Apologies to: Jose Reyes, Tim Beckham, Dee Gordon, Stephen Drew, Elvis Andrus, Ian Desmond, Alceides Escobar, Alexi Ramirez.

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The Dream Team (part one)

Intro: Recently I was looking at a Dave Cameron post over on fangraphs where he put Ryan Zimmerman as the play he would build a franchise around, because he’s young, a great fielder, and is a great hitter. This got me thinking, what would a DREAM TEAM for the next 10 (or longer) years look like? So here we go.

Here is the first part, with the catchers and the first baseman.

Starting C- Joe Mauer- This one was actually really tough, because of a few really good young catchers, but Mauer is on his way to being not only a HOFer, but also maybe the best catcher ever, or at least put himself into the debate. A career .327/.408/.484 line puts him in some extremely exclusive company.

Backup C- Buster Posey- Posey just edges out Carlos Santana, in part due to how bad Santana’s knee injury looked. Through his first 75 games in the majors, Posey owns a .342/.386/.516 line.

Apologies to- Brian McCann, Jesus Montero, Carlos Santana, Matt Wieters.

Starting 1B- Miguel Cabrera- Again, an extremely tough one, due to a position which features three of the top hitters in baseball (Votto, Pujols, and Cabrera) and only two spots. However, due to Cabrera being three years younger than Pujols and playing in the tougher league he gets the start, next question, who gets the backup?

Backup 1B- Joey Votto- As tough as it was to leave Pujols off the list, I had to do it. While he still figures to remain a productive hitter at age 40, Votto is four years younger and seems to be poised to become the better hitter, if he has not already done it.

Apologies to- Pujols, Billy Butler, Adrian Gonzalez, Jesus Montero, Mark Teixiera.

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Where Will Manny Go?

That’s right, the Manny circus is about to start again. His rate stats are still very good with a .312/.404/.508 line, but due to his mere 189 at bat’s anyway who takes him is taking a risk on his health as well as taking on his money, and maybe even giving up a prospect or two. He’s owed 4.5 million for the rest of the year, yet about 3.3 million is deferred, giving some teams with a strict payroll a loophole. It will be interesting to see if any NL teams take a look at him despite his absolutely abysmal fielding. Let’s take a look at three contenders that could take a chance on him.

Rays: The Rays could use a DH bat, and with the money being deferred they could take a chance on him. He might give the Rays a boost to take over the division lead, but with a 5.5 game lead in the wild card standings, I somewhat doubt that a team as smart as the Rays would take on a 38 year old DH and his salary despite holding a commanding lead. They are well aware that it doesn’t matter how you make the playoffs, as long as you are in it. Unless they aren’t so sure that they can make it without a boost…

Braves: It’s no secret just how unbearably awful the Braves outfield has been, save a certain young phenom. Is their outfield bad enough to convince them to take a major leap of faith in the hopes of fending off the Phillies and possibly St. Louis or the Giants if it comes down to the wild card? Only time will tell.

White Sox: With the White Sox still bordering on contention, and GM Kenny Williams is no stranger to making a big splash (did someone say Alex Rios and Jake Peavy?) even if it can come back to bite him. An extra bat could help them in that final stretch run, if they think they can make it.

I’d honestly say that all three of these teams are about dead even in the chance of getting Manny, at about 30% each, with a 10% chance that an, “other” team grabs him. The Braves would have been the favorite had they not just grabbed Lee, which has me wondering if they can take on any more money.

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Strasburg Hurt, Will Surgery be Necessary?

As I’m sure you all know, baseball’s phenom, Stephen Strasburg has a strained flexor tendon in his right forearm, his pitching arm. While a strained tendon is nothing to sneeze at, and it could very well end his season, surgery does not look to be necessary, and he should bounce back nicely. If his season is over, it will most likely be because the Nationals choose to shut him down for precautionary measures.

However, the real question here is, “is Stephen Strasburg the same as Mark Prior”?

The bad news for Nat’s fans: Strasburg and Mark Prior have remarkably similar mechanics, both making the dreaded, “inverted w” when pitching.

The good news: We know so little about pitching mechanics, the whole reason we say the inverted w is bad is because of Prior’s injuries. There is every chance that Prior’s arm just couldn’t take it, and Strasburg’s can. Joel Zumaya seems to always be hurt, while CC Sabathia (who doesn’t have very pretty mechanics) is never hurt.

So, will Strasburg eventually succumb to injuries? As much as I’d like to tell you, I really don’t know, only time will tell.

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Yankees no Longer In First Place, Does It Matter?

The Tampa Bay Rays now have a one game lead over the New York Yankees in baseball’s (by far) toughest division, but does it really matter? Let’s take a look at the arguments for both sides.

Why It Matters:

Reason one: It matters because any team would want to have home field advantage in the ALDS and (if they make it) ALCS. Also, the teams in AL Central, assuming that the the Rangers end up with a better record than the AL Central winner, are awful on the road, with only the Twins having a winning record at home (by one game) and the Tigers are 17-35 on the road.

Reason two: Perhaps even more than that, who in their right mind would want to face Cliff Lee twice in a five game series?

Reason three: Finally, both the Yankees and Rays have winning records against the White Sox and Twins, and the Yankees dominance of the Twins is well known.

Reason four: The Rangers are a much better team than the Twins or White Sox.

Reason five: Even if the Twins win the AL Central and face Liriano, Liriano will probably struggle more against the Yankees and Rays, two very patient teams, which would help them against Liriano, but hurt them against Lee. Lee also kills the Yankees in particular.

Why It doesn’t matter:

Reason one: The Rays are actually better on the road, with a 33-18 record there, compared to 34-21 record at home.

Reason two: A very, very strong argument could be made that Francisco Liriano is having a better year than Cliff Lee. He has a significantly better xFIP, and a higher WAR.

Reason three: Nine of the thirty wild card teams have made it to the World Series (30% vs. a regular percentage of 1/4 or 25%) with three of those teams winning the World Series.

Reason four: The playoffs is pretty much a crapshoot anyway, so it really just matters if you make it or not.

Ok, those are the reasons, I’ll let you decide whether it matters or not.

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A Curious Deadline

This is one of the oddest deadlines I have seen, with many premium players being moved including one bona fide ace (Lee), two borderline aces (Haren and Oswalt), one top ten prospect (as of last winter) in Justin Smoak (even though I still think that the Yankees offer with Montero was better), one former star slugger (Lance Berkman), a top catching prospect (Wilson Ramos),  a major project with huge upside (Jarrod Saltalamacchia), as well as a bunch of relievers, middle starters, and everyday players. Yet curiously the return for all the players (in terms of prospects) has been extremely low. Here’s a look at why.

Reason one, money: I’m not going to lie and say that the baseball market hasn’t changed majorly in recent years, and that played a major part this year. The most common sticking point you heard about almost any player being moved (with the notable exception of Cliff Lee) was their salary. This is a big change from past years where a much more common sticking point was prospects. So when teams took on money, they were more unwilling than usual to pay prospects as well.

Reason two, a lack of top players: With the exception of Lee (he seems to be being the exception in almost all of these) there were no real sluggers or bona fide aces who moved. So another reason why, with the exception of Smoak (and I guess Ramos), no major prospects were moved.

Reason three, a different mind set: Partially related to reason one, teams are seeing their prospects in a different light. Now they are not only future stars, but future stars who are cost and team controlled for years. Some prospects for contending teams were even labeled untouchable (Mike Trout, Domonic Brown, Jeremy Hellickson, and Desmond Jennings) or pretty close to untouchable (Jesus Montero, Ardolis Chapman, Martin Perez, Aaron Hicks, Casey Kelly, Arodys Vizciano, Julio Teheran, Tyler Matzek, Shelby Miller). This is something that has not happened in recent years.

So to summarize, money, a lack of top players, and a different mindset were major reasons why so few top prospects were moved. Do I expect more top prospects to be moved next year though? Yes. And on that note, I finish this post.

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