Friday, September 26, 2014
The Ham is no longer Willing.
Josh Willingham insists he hasn’t made any decisions about his playing future.
However, an associate of the 35-year-old outfielder/designated hitter for the Kansas City Royals says he has told people close to him that he is “100 percent retiring” once this season ends.
Willingham, one of just three players in Twins history to hit at least 35 home runs in a season, disputed that version in a text message to the Pioneer Press.
“I haven’t made a decision yet and don’t know what I’m going to do,” Willingham wrote.
Slowed by a groin injury that has limited him to two starts since Sept. 11, Willingham is closing in on the first postseason appearance in his 11-year career.
Only seven active players have more career games than Willingham (1,146) without a postseason appearance.
Closing out a three-year, $21 million contract signed with the Twins after the 2011 season, Willingham was traded to Kansas City on Aug. 11 after the Royals claimed him on waivers. The Twins received Double-A right-hander Jason Adam in the deal, which saw the Royals pick up the remaining $1.836 million of the $7 million Willingham is owed this season.
A right-handed power hitter, Willingham hit 35 homers and drove in 110 runs in his 2012 Twins debut. Only Harmon Killebrew (eight times) has exceeded that homer total in Twins history.
Willingham was unable to follow that up due to nagging injuries to his knee (2013) and wrist (2014). He had a combined on-base/slugging percentage of .761 in 23 games (83 plate appearances) with the Royals.
Thursday, September 11, 2014
Stanton immediately fell to the ground in the batter’s box at Milwaukee’s Miller Park and never stood back up as medical personnel tended to him and ultimately placed him into an ambulance while on a stretcher.
Scary stuff in Milwaukee. Also:
Umpires ruled that Stanton swung at the pitch as his body spun in an attempt to get out the way of the ball. Reed Johnson then took Stanton’s at-bat over, and Fiers then hit Johnson in the hand with a pitch high and inside.
Hopefully, this will be remembered in the end as the at-bat where a pitcher recorded a strikeout while hitting two batters in the plate appearance, and not as a turning point in Stanton’s career or life.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
The Marlins plan to offer MVP candidate Giancarlo Stanton the most lucrative contract in franchise history. Even if they can’t reach an agreement on a long-term contract extension this winter, the Marlins insist they will keep Stanton through at least the 2015 season, vowing to build a championship club around him.
They have control of Stanton through the 2016 season. After that, free agency could make him could make him baseball’s first $300 million player.
The Marlins hope to strike before that can happen.
“He’s the leader of this franchise,’’ Marlins president David Samson tells USA TODAY Sports. “We always knew the talent he had, but what he’s done this year, playing every day, he’s the definition of a game-changer.
“We call him a no-food player. A no-bathroom player. When he comes to the plate, nobody leaves their seat.
“There’s no question he’s the MVP of this league.’‘
I think you can trust them. Just ask Jose Reyes.
Sunday, September 07, 2014
MIAMI — Freddie Freeman had a hit in each of his last five games against the Marlins, but the Braves All-Star first baseman still finished with an almost unfathomable .135 average (10-for-74) against them this season….
He has hit a combined .314 with 57 extra-base hits (16 homers) and 64 RBIs in 124 games against everyone else….
Probably not of interest to anyone who isn’t a Braves or Marlins fan, but falls under that always interesting category of “Curious Baseball Stats.”
Wednesday, September 03, 2014
What, is Loria funding a You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown revival?
[Giancarlo] Stanton is on pace to set career highs in batting average, OBP, slugging, and park-adjusted offense. He’s already topped his career highs in walks, total bases, and Wins Above Replacement… Stanton might be the best position player in the NL this year, ranking second in park-adjusted offense and, depending on the source, either first or second among NL hitters in WAR…
There are a couple reasons for Stanton’s assault on pitching this year, beyond his usual power-hitting excellence. First, while he remains strikeout-prone — thanks to staying healthy and playing every day, he’s on pace to fan a career-high 189 times — the rate at which he’s striking out has actually edged lower over the course of his career… Second, Stanton is absolutely annihilating pitches up in the zone this season. He’s slugging .705 on those pitches in 2014, second only to Jose Abreu among qualified hitters. He’s also cut his strikeout rate and swing-and-miss percentage against those pitches…
He’s only the 11th player to mash more than 150 career home runs through his age-24 season… Among position players who have signed for at least $180 million, only Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols had a higher career WAR through their age-24 seasons than Stanton currently has, with 20.9…
Amid the possibility that the Marlins might try to trade Stanton, we scoured the history books to think of a player with this combination of youth, skill, and success who was traded at the same point in his career. The best comp we could come up with was a player who had also amassed just more than 20 Wins Above Replacement through his age-24 season. Of course, that WAR figure underestimates the player’s value at that time, since he was also one of the greatest pitchers of his era.
That’s right. If the Marlins trade Stanton, the closest comp will be the Red Sox selling [Babe] Ruth to the Yankees in 1919… If a pursuing team believes it can lock up Stanton this offseason for well beyond the two years remaining until his free agency, we could see one of the most jaw-dropping trades in baseball history.
Monday, August 25, 2014
Gammo said they’re not trading the guy anyway. Then again, it was in the middle of claiming Loria was great for baseball in Florida, so.
[Giancarlo] Stanton… isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season. With ace Jose Fernandez due to return next year from elbow surgery and an emerging group of young hitters, including outfielders Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich, it makes more sense for the Marlins to take one shot at the division crown in a winnable NL East before unloading Stanton.
The Braves probably won’t wait so long before moving [Jason] Heyward, who can become a free agent after next season. And they already have tipped their hand that they don’t plan to keep him long term. In February, they locked up first baseman Freddie Freeman to an eight-year, $135 million extension one day after signing Heyward for only two years and $13.3 million…
Heyward can still be a middle-of-the-order force, assuming he’s able to fix the holes that exist in his unorthodox swing. He just turned 25 and hasn’t even entered his prime… Heyward would be the left-handed bat the Sox need to balance out an offense that suddenly has a decidedly right-handed lean thanks to the additions of Yoenis Cespedes, Allen Craig and new Cuban center fielder Rusney Castillo… And Heyward plays Gold Glove-caliber defense, making him a safe bet to handle Fenway Park’s tricky right field as well as Shane Victorino did last season.
Considering Heyward is a year closer to free agency than Stanton, the Braves’ expected return figures to be less… If the Sox are able to execute a trade-and-sign of Heyward for a package of three or four players, including a top prospect or two, it presumably leaves them with enough assets in both the big leagues and the minors to still make a deal for one of the starting pitchers they will need to rearm the top of the rotation.
Sunday, August 17, 2014
PLEASE, please, please tell me Selig didn’t make people watch him poop.
There is no question Rob Manfred can be a very good commissioner, as Tim Brosnan would have been, and so would Bob Iger had baseball been willing to look outside their house…
Manfred is not going to have the hammer [Bud] Selig held over owners, and utilized like Lyndon Baines Johnson. Which is why, as the storm fronts collide between now and 2016, he needs Bill DeWitt to hold together the center. DeWitt was approached early on about throwing his name in for Commissioner, and he declined. But he now may be the most important owner, successful, decent, rational…
Want people to watch past the sixth inning? Limit rosters to 11 pitchers and eliminate the exhausting, boring tic-tac-toe matchups in the last three innings which, among many things, never allows us to see a David Ortiz or Joey Votto bat against a righthanded pitcher in those final innings. Want to cut back on the replay challenges? Start spending the money to develop umpires (read “As They See ‘Em” by Bruce Weber) to understand why there are so few young umpires coming along. Want some younger demographics? Try Giancarlo Stanton and Yasiel Puig and Clayton Kershaw as the faces of the game and stop talking about the good ole days…
there are issues Tony Clark and the new leadership want addressed, from travel (how ‘bout them getaway night games) to ballpark and even visiting clubhouse health issues in some cities. Both clubs and the union want to re-address the draft and international signing issues. The union does not want the draft in any way tied to free agency. Small markets want better balance between won-lost and revenue standings, so that top five markets like the Astros and Cubs are rewarded for poor performance, while well-run franchises the Rays, Athletics and Indians are punished…
Manfred needs a strong, respected leader like DeWitt to step forward, keep perspective and focus his fellow owners on what they have, not what each owner thinks he should have for his own fiefdom.
[Giancarlo] Stanton, according to [Jeffrey] Loria, isn’t going anywhere… If Loria has to backtrack and Stanton does go elsewhere, it likely will be the final nail in his ownership’s coffin. Jeffrey loves the game, he may well have saved baseball in Miami, and now he has a very difficult task moving it forward in a city easily distracted from one star-laden team at a time.
Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, liked by one evaluator to a Ron Gant who can play center field, will soon sign, for somewhere from $40M to $70M. The Yankees are big players… There are two side issues involved here. One is that MLB is studying how Cuban players get out to Mexico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, etc., and who and what is involved in cases that are likened to human trafficking.
The second is a concern some teams have about the calcium Cubans get in their diets. Both Jorge Soler and Jose Iglesias have been sidelined by stress fractures, and one club official says, “any Cuban player we sign in the future will have his bone structure and diet closely monitored. We worry about milk and all calcium intake.”
The District Attorney
Posted: August 17, 2014 at 11:16 PM | 54 comment(s)
Saturday, August 09, 2014
We heard earlier this week that the Marlins were thinking about calling up 36-year-old Brad Penny to fill the rotation spot of 23-year-old Jacob Turner, who was recently designated for assignment and swapped to the Cubs. The speculation is now confirmed, as the team has announced that Penny will start tonight against the Reds.
Penny signed a minor league contract with the Marlins in June before posting a 3.05 ERA and 30/9 K/BB ratio in 38 1/3 innings across five starts between Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A New Orleans. He hasn’t pitched in majors since 2012 as a member of the Giants, when he put up an ugly 6.11 ERA over 22 relief appearances.
Friday, August 08, 2014
In one seventh-inning instant, the game became secondary.
The Marlins and Pirates played through a horrific episode that saw lefty reliever Dan Jennings take a Jordy Mercer liner off the left side of his head. The ball went straight up and into the glove of shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria.
A shocked and disoriented Jennings went down and got up immediately. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia arrived and helped him down to a knee. PNC Park went silent. Jennings’ teammates gathered and Mercer in a catcher’s crouch looked on from the infield grass between first base and the mound.
It sounds like he’s going to be OK, but man, that was scary.
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad)
Posted: August 08, 2014 at 07:53 AM | 8 comment(s)
Tuesday, August 05, 2014
The transaction is mildly surprising because of Turner’s age, 23, and his upside. The 6-foot-5 right-hander was the ninth overall pick of the Tigers in 2009. He was pushed through the Minor Leagues quickly, and he made his MLB debut at age 20 in 2011.
Wow. Do the Marlins not believe in BABIP regression? What are the trading rules for DFAs in August? Are they free to trade him to any team within the next 10 days or does he have to pass waivers first?
Joyful Calculus Instructor
Posted: August 05, 2014 at 06:07 PM | 40 comment(s)
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
The Competitive Balance Lottery for the 2015 MLB Draft took place this afternoon. Twelve competitive balance picks are awarded, with the first six taking place after the first round’s conclusion and the next six taking place following conclusion of the second round. Here are the results, per MLB.com (Twitter links)...
Competitive Balance Round A
Competitive Balance Round B
As MLB.com’s Jim Callis explained earlier in the week, teams that have one of the 10 smallest markets or one of the 10 smallest revenue pools are eligible to receive a compensatory pick between the first and second rounds (Round A) or between the second and third rounds (Round B).
Its about time the Cardinals got some help to become more competitive.
Posted: July 23, 2014 at 03:20 PM | 26 comment(s)
competitive balance lottery
Sunday, June 22, 2014
Ozuna fired a laser to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who applied the tag to Nieuwenhuis just before he could touch the plate, ending the game.
The best part? Ozuna had nailed a runner at the plate the inning prior, as well.
Vids in the link. Nailing the tying runs at the plate in the eighth and ninth is something a can’t remember seeing before.
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
“I’ve never seen a home run like that. That thing took two seconds to get out of the ballpark. I thought it would be a foul ball and hit the base of the wall or something.
“It was a line drive — I just didn’t think it had 400 feet of carry on it. He’s a strong boy.”
The Andrew Heaney era has begun.
Wednesday, June 04, 2014
I suspect that I stand so brazenly alone in holding this opinion that I fear it places me in the same lunatic fringe as a conspiracy theorist. Nonetheless:
I believe the Miami Marlins have been executing a good team-building strategy.
Posted: June 04, 2014 at 02:09 PM | 13 comment(s)
Sunday, June 01, 2014
Teams can trade draft picks?
The Pittsburgh Pirates announced they have traded relief pitcher Bryan Morris to the Miami Marlins Sunday morning.
According to the team, the Pirates sent Morris to the Marlins for the 39th overall selection (competitive balance A) in this year’s First-Year Player Draft.
Posted: June 01, 2014 at 12:58 PM | 13 comment(s)
Saturday, May 03, 2014
When virtually the same Marlins lineup which struck out 11 times against Aaron Harang last week at Turner Field pounced on him for 10 hits and a career-high nine runs on Wednesday night in Miami, he and the Braves had their suspicions.
Nobody came out and accused the Marlins of relaying signs, but it was safe to say eyebrows were raised. Harang had alluded to the possibility in his postgame comments, saying: “It was baffling, like, where were these guys last week? They were way too comfortable. It seemed like they were all hitting like Ted Williams.”
Posted: May 03, 2014 at 12:22 AM | 18 comment(s)
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Giancarlo of cool is pure pop.
What did materialize was another Giancarlo Stanton laser beam home run, this one into the right-center bullpen at Marlins Park.
Is there a more exciting batter to watch in the game right now? While I’d certainly put guys like Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Freddie Freeman and newcomer Jose Abreu right up there, Stanton combines the prospect of a potential tape-measure home run with every swing along with maybe the most intimidating presence in the game as he digs in. At 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds or so, he’s a tight end playing right field, a 24-year-old who is quickly joining legendary status for his tape-measure home runs. (Is there better term in sports than “tape-measure home run”?)
His home run off Wood was measured at a mere 391 feet—the shortest of the eight he’s hit this season. His 484-foot blast off Eric Stults back on April 4 that landed in Pensacola is the longest in the majors so far this season, but Stanton has also crushed home runs of 469 and 457 feet, according to the ESPN Home Run Tracker. His average distance per home run of 427 feet trails only Mike Morse, who benefited from two long home runs in the thin air of Coors Field back on April 23, and Ian Desmond, who has just four home runs.
Of course, those distance numbers are nothing new for Stanton. He ranked third in 2013 behind only Trout and Justin Upton in average home run distance (minimum 18 home runs), had the longest home run in the majors in 2012 (494 feet) and the second-longest average distance in 2011 behind Upton. Eighteen of his 125 career home runs have been measured at 450-plus feet and he’s done that despite playing half his games in the thick swamp air of Miami.
As an all-around hitter, Stanton may or may not be a finished product. He has 34 strikeouts in 26 games and that strikeout rate may prevent him from becoming a .300 hitter (he did hit .290 in 2012 and is at .269 in 2014). That’s another reason he’s so tantalizing as a hitter: Has he reached his apex, or is there more still to come?
Stanton’s prodigious blasts have to put him on the short list as one of the greatest pure power hitters of all time, right? He’s one of those guys who busts the 80 power rating on the 20-to-80 scouting scale. Based mostly on anecdotal evidence, history books, legends, myths, lies, truths and a personal favorite or two, here are my 10 most powerful home run hitters ever, in no particular order:
Posted: April 30, 2014 at 09:02 AM | 87 comment(s)
Friday, April 04, 2014
Payroll Advice: Five Cents
It’s clear that, by 1967, Jeffrey Loria was manifestly the squarest motherf*cker on planet Earth. He was barely a quarter century old and had already fast-forwarded spiritually to twice that age, becoming the kind of embittered husk who laments the broken legacy bequeathed to The Children. The lessons to be drawn from What’s It All About, Charlie Brown? read like the bilious, reactionary resentments of a pomaded junior Nixon. Woodstock hasn’t happened yet, and, at the time of writing, the Summer of Love probably hadn’t either, but it’s clear that Loria would have hated both as soon as he’d read a tedious finger-wagging Newsweek piece published about them months later. It’s a wonder the dedication wasn’t “To the Straw Man of a Hippie Dropout I’m Beating with Word Truncheons in My Imagination.”
Instead, it’s dedicated to Vincent Price…
What’s It All About, Charlie Brown? explains the Peanuts universe while also somehow asserting that it proffers the statement, “In business and politics honesty and sincerity often have a way of working against you.” It says that one should forget one’s strong feelings to get ahead, to play the game the company way irrespective of what it’s all about. These are the spiritual zero-sum exercises that an alleged adult drew from Peanuts. Insincerity, profit, the muzzling of conscience in favor of advancement—relentlessly f*cking the other guy only until the moment he walks away from the deal. This is Charlie Brown throwing his arms out at his sides, yelling, “Aaaauuuuughhhh!” and, like Atlas, shrugging.
This is what Jeffrey Loria learned from a story about children who love each other, who strive to be loved, who feel misunderstood, and who yearn for understanding. Reading What’s It All About, Charlie Brown? is the literary equivalent of finding a cache of clown paintings by John Wayne Gacy made before he started stowing victims’ bodies in the crawlspace.
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