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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Cubs could really use 2016 Javier Baez right about now - Chicago Cubs Blog- ESPN

Will Almora’s play push Kyle Schwarber out of Chicago? Schwarber really should be a part-time catcher/full-time DH.

“You’re not going to be perfect,” teammate Albert Almora Jr. said. “You’re going to have your week or two that you’re not feeling at your best. I know I went through it. The way he’s handling it, he’s not bringing anybody down. On the contrary, I actually saw—one of the first guys I saw when I looked into the dugout when I hit the home run [in Game 1] was him cheering.”

Jim Furtado Posted: October 17, 2017 at 08:47 AM | 42 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cubs, dodgers, playoffs

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   1. Rally Posted: October 17, 2017 at 09:02 AM (#5555575)
Schwarber really should be a part-time catcher/full-time DH


Definitely not a good outfielder but I don't think he's so limited he has to DH. In a vacuum the ideal spot to play him is probably first base, but that's not happening on a team that has Rizzo.
   2. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 17, 2017 at 09:18 AM (#5555589)
Definitely not a good outfielder but I don't think he's so limited he has to DH. In a vacuum the ideal spot to play him is probably first base, but that's not happening on a team that has Rizzo.

That's why baseball allows trades :-)

The Cubs seem like they need to rearrange some pieces going into next year. Happ should probably be your everday 2B, Almora the CF. Zobrist goes back to super-sub, and hopefully bounces back with reduced PT.

Schwarber and one of Russell or Baez seem redundnant. I'd pick who my SS was, and use the other, and Schwarber as trade chits for a SP and a real LF.
   3. Andere Richtingen Posted: October 17, 2017 at 09:55 AM (#5555619)
Actually, I would be happier with the 2017 version of Javi Baez right now. And the 2017 version of Kris Bryant and Willi Contreras for that matter.

I will be surprised if Schwarber ever starts as catcher again. If it's Almora versus Schwarber (and I don't think it's useful to look at it that way), Schwarber is a rawer product with obvious room for growth. Almora is probably not a finished product either but I think his future is far more predictable, but with a lower ceiling. He is a good outfielder and more than competent in center field, and he hit .298 this year. But as a 23 yo he isn't that fast and I think he will have to start drawing walks to be a real plus hitter for an OF, but I think he is a legit CFer at least in the short run. Schwarber had what was mostly a terrible year offensively as a 24 yo, and yet hit 30 HR in <500 PAs. He has the skills to be a very valuable LFer (he has averageish speed and he's athletic), but obviously he has a long way to go. The major problem is that he's a big sloppy mess at the plate and needs to tighten up his swing, so he's got a lot of development in front of him.
   4. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: October 17, 2017 at 10:22 AM (#5555628)
I think they miss Fowler.

I wouldn't have topped the Cardinals offer either, and I understand why his Cubs time was up -- but I think he was the spark.
   5. Nasty Nate Posted: October 17, 2017 at 10:26 AM (#5555635)
Schwarber really should be a part-time catcher/full-time DH
It's either/or, those are mutually exclusive.
   6. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 17, 2017 at 10:30 AM (#5555642)
The Cubs won't/shouldn't move Schwarber just to move him. They should trade him for comparable (or better) value. Their need this offseason is pitching and I don't think Kyle is valuable enough to solve a rotation spot. OTOH, Baez probably is valuable enough to bring back a useful starter with more than a year of contractual control.
   7. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 17, 2017 at 10:37 AM (#5555658)
Schwarber really should be a part-time catcher/full-time DH


It's either/or, those are mutually exclusive.

Why exactly? There's no reason except managerial rigidity that your backup catcher can't DH for 100 games.

The number of times your starting catcher is removed, in game, for injury/PH during the regular season is tiny. Losing your DH, for one PA, in 3 or 4 games a season, should be a non-factor in your decision making.
   8. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 17, 2017 at 10:41 AM (#5555664)
The number of times your starting catcher is removed, in game, for injury/PH during the regular season is tiny.

True, but the number of times you might want to pinch-hit or pinch-run for your starting catcher could be significantly higher.
   9. Nasty Nate Posted: October 17, 2017 at 10:44 AM (#5555668)
Why exactly? There's no reason except managerial rigidity that your backup catcher can't DH for 100 games.
Sorry, I was being nitpicky. What you are describing is a part-time catcher/part-time DH.

Evan Gattis is an example of this usage. And I think Posada at the end of his career.
   10. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 17, 2017 at 10:53 AM (#5555677)
True, but the number of times you might want to pinch-hit or pinch-run for your starting catcher could be significantly higher.

Practically speaking, teams just don't pinch-hit/pinch-run for position players anymore. The bench is just too thin.

Sorry, I was being nitpicky. What you are describing is a part-time catcher/part-time DH.

Evan Gattis is an example of this usage. And I think Posada at the end of his career.


No problem. That's probably the optimal usage for Scwarber. 40 Gs at C for a team with a RHB at C, 80-100 at DH or 1B.
   11. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 17, 2017 at 10:54 AM (#5555678)
I don't think Schwarber can catch. I wouldn't want him to be a catcher on a team I root for.

I think Schwarber is fine in LF. I don't have a problem with him as a LF. I wish he could fix his platoon splits so he could be a fulltime LF.

I think Baez should be a fulltime 2b. I also think he could be a fulltime SS (or 3b, but the bat isn't as great there). I bet Javy would make a great CF if you wanted, though you'd be wasting some of his skills.

I think Ian Happ could be a fulltime starter at 2b, or either corner OF spot. I think with more experience, he could be a passable CF, but you'd really want a better defender there at times.

I think Almora could be a fulltime CF. I think his bat might develop a little more, but there isn't a ton of offensive upside. He could have a high average, decent OBP, decent power year (like maybe he has a .310/.360/.520 career year in him, though I wouldn't really project that). He is a great defensive CF.

I think Zobrist is a utility player, but one that can plan 2b/LF/RF (and probably 1b). I think his bat would look better with more regular rest.

I don't think any of this is a problem, and I think you can get plenty of ABs for all of those guys, plus Russell. The Cubs do need pitching, but if they can use their money to get it, they should, and should keep all of these players.

   12. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 17, 2017 at 11:01 AM (#5555689)
I don't think any of this is a problem, and I think you can get plenty of ABs for all of those guys, plus Russell. The Cubs do need pitching, but if they can use their money to get it, they should, and should keep all of these players.

They could do that, but it seems like a suboptimal utilization of resources.

If you have 3 viable 2B/SS, using one of then in LF is really wasting value, and another team should be willing to trade you more value than that player has in LF. Also, if Happ plays LF, you have no spot for Schwarber.
   13. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 17, 2017 at 11:08 AM (#5555698)
If you have 3 viable 2B/SS, using one of then in LF is really wasting value, and another team should be willing to trade you more value than that player has in LF. Also, if Happ plays LF, you have no spot for Schwarber.

Russell and Baez bat right handed; Happ and Zobrist are switch hitters; and Schwarber bats left. The Cubs are able to deploy them to get a lot of platoon advantage - in addition to the necessary off days. I'm not convinced that converting one of them to an equivalent everyday LF is going to result in a net gain for the Cubs.
   14. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 17, 2017 at 11:08 AM (#5555699)
Sure, if someone wants to overpay for Happ, they can. He's not a plus defensively at 2b, but would be in LF or rf.

The problem for the Cubs is heyward. If they can find a way to dump that contract, then you have more than enough PT for everyone. As it is now, they can rest guys, chase matchups, and cover for injuries and still play everyone.

They also have more than enough financial resources to buy pitching if they'd rather go that way.
   15. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 17, 2017 at 11:08 AM (#5555700)
I don't think any of this is a problem, and I think you can get plenty of ABs for all of those guys, plus Russell. The Cubs do need pitching, but if they can use their money to get it, they should, and should keep all of these players.

Agreed. This is deja vu - just last offseason we were talking about "where are they going to play all these great players?" And then the injuries and slumps happen, etc., and at various points during this season it was "how are they going to cover all the positions?"

That said, the obvious solution to the logjam, to the extent that there is one, is to cut bait on the Elephant in the Corner Outfield.
   16. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 17, 2017 at 11:08 AM (#5555701)
Moses, what is your beverage of choice?
   17. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 17, 2017 at 11:13 AM (#5555707)
The problem for the Cubs is heyward. If they can find a way to dump that contract, then you have more than enough PT for everyone.

I don't know if you believe in bWAR but it does have Heyward as 8th on the team in that category.

EDIT: fWAR has him tied at 17th.
   18. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: October 17, 2017 at 11:14 AM (#5555710)
If you have 3 viable 2B/SS, using one of then in LF is really wasting value, and another team should be willing to trade you more value than that player has in LF. Also, if Happ plays LF, you have no spot for Schwarber.


Why trade depth if you don't need to?

People get injured. People slump. Add that on top of Joe's love of rotating lineups, resting starters, and long-running tradition of having no problem getting supersubs PT -- nothing's being wasted.

They already snagged perhaps the most coveted cost-controlled SP available midseason. I'm sure Thed listens if someone calls about Baez/Schwarbs/Happ -- but they already added Quintana to go with Hendricks and Lester. They've got a decision to make about Jake, to be sure... Lackey's definitely gone. If somebody wants to offer up an upper tier SP - sure... but the Cubs should hardly be antsy to make a deal, especially so long as the players are all cheap and have years of cost control remaining. They can wait until the right deal comes along.
   19. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 17, 2017 at 11:30 AM (#5555733)
Why trade depth if you don't need to?

Because you have needs elsewhere that can be addressed by trading depth.

Sure, if someone wants to overpay for Happ, they can. He's not a plus defensively at 2b, but would be in LF or rf.

An average defensive 2B is more valuable than a +5 LF with the same bat. But also, where's the evidence for this? DRS has him dead average at both 2B and OF. UZR has him slightly negative at 2B, and slightly positive in the OF. Samples sizes are very low.

The problem for the Cubs is heyward. If they can find a way to dump that contract, then you have more than enough PT for everyone.

I would think the only way to dump him is to pay half his salary. I'm not sure paying him $14M to put up 2 WAR for somebody else is more palatable to the Cubs than paying him $28M to put up 2 WAR for them. I'd also think they have hopes of a recovery, and his salary does go down significantly after 2018.

It's the same problem the Yankees have with Ellsbury. At the cost you'd have to pay to move him, you'd rather just keep him and hope for the best.
   20. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 17, 2017 at 11:48 AM (#5555760)
To be clear, I'm not advocating for dumping Heyward just to dump him. But I'm also not the one saying the Cubs should trade one of their pre-arb plus position players. If you think there's a PT problem, it's because of Heyward, not because of Happ or Baez. You're looking at it backwards.

An average defensive 2B is more valuable than a +5 LF with the same bat. But also, where's the evidence for this? DRS has him dead average at both 2B and OF. UZR has him slightly negative at 2B, and slightly positive in the OF. Samples sizes are very low.

He hasn't played enough at any one position for me to take too much from those. Based on both his rep and my opinion.
   21. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: October 17, 2017 at 11:55 AM (#5555764)
Because you have needs elsewhere that can be addressed by trading depth.


Sure - and I have no doubts they're listening, if not actively asking.... but what I wouldn't do is trade any of them for a backend rental. There are precious few Quintanas available beyond the one they already got, but it would take something like a Julio Teheran.
   22. Quaker Posted: October 17, 2017 at 12:17 PM (#5555799)
Why do ppl always bring up Teheran? He's had 3 straight years w/an XFIP over 4.00 and his ERA matched his subpar peripherals this season.
   23. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 17, 2017 at 12:32 PM (#5555825)
Sure - and I have no doubts they're listening, if not actively asking.... but what I wouldn't do is trade any of them for a backend rental. There are precious few Quintanas available beyond the one they already got, but it would take something like a Julio Teheran.

What's a "back-end rental"? If the Yankees got Otani, and made Sonny Gray available, I assume you'd be OK with putting Happ or Baez or Schwarber in a package?
   24. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: October 17, 2017 at 12:48 PM (#5555845)
What's a "back-end rental"? If the Yankees got Otani, and made Sonny Gray available, I assume you'd be OK with putting Happ or Baez or Schwarber in a package?


Why not just get Otani themselves? That costs nothing but money and it's not like the Cubs lack for that.
   25. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 17, 2017 at 02:24 PM (#5555981)
Why not just get Otani themselves? That costs nothing but money and it's not like the Cubs lack for that.

Because you can't just "get" Otani, by bidding the most. He's going to cost <$10M up front, plus the posting fee, so 15 teams will make him an equivalent financial offer.

Otani picks where he plays. There's nothing the Cubs, or the Yankees, or anyone can do to really influence that, besides acceding to any two-way playing time demands he has.
   26. Greg Pope Posted: October 17, 2017 at 02:40 PM (#5556018)
The Cubs could really use 2016 Javier Baez right about now


What the Cubs need right now is what several of were saying they should have gotten in August: Justin Verlander.
   27. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 17, 2017 at 03:19 PM (#5556079)
What the Cubs need right now is what several of were saying they should have gotten in August: Justin Verlander.

Not at all, Cubs starting pitching has been pretty good in the playoffs so far. 40 2/3 IP and a 1.99 ERA. The bullpen has been terrible, and the offense is hitting .117/.159/.217 after hitting .180/.285/.280 in the NLDS.

Even if the Cubs had gotten Verlander, who would he have replaced in the rotation?
   28. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 17, 2017 at 03:19 PM (#5556080)
Actually, how about we go back and get 1920 Grover Cleveland Alexander and 1959 Ernie Banks instead?
   29. PreservedFish Posted: October 17, 2017 at 03:27 PM (#5556090)
Even if the Cubs had gotten Verlander, who would he have replaced in the rotation?


He'd make a good setup guy, at least.
   30. Greg Pope Posted: October 17, 2017 at 04:11 PM (#5556141)
Not at all, Cubs starting pitching has been pretty good in the playoffs so far. 40 2/3 IP and a 1.99 ERA. The bullpen has been terrible

I get that, but Verlander threw a complete game for the Astros. The Cubs could use someone who could do that. Obviously, whether Maddon would let him is another story.
   31. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: October 17, 2017 at 04:19 PM (#5556150)
Not sure how I could see the Cubs affording (talent outbound-wise) to get BOTH Quintana and Verlander. Quintana basically cost them the rest of their minor league chits.

There wasn't enough left to get both and I'm quite satisfied with Quintana over Verlander.
   32. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 17, 2017 at 04:25 PM (#5556160)
Not sure how I could see the Cubs affording (talent outbound-wise) to get BOTH Quintana and Verlander. Quintana basically cost them the rest of their minor league chits.

One could argue they should have gotten Verlander instead. He cost a lot less in talent, and the Cubs have a lot more money than minor league talent these days.
   33. Walt Davis Posted: October 17, 2017 at 04:48 PM (#5556197)
What the Cubs need right now -- or more specifically needed for their last 7 games -- is to hit the damn ball. Also prime Mariano Rivera would be useful.

The Cubs were 2nd in RS (a non-distinguishable 3-team cluster plus Col), tied for 3rd in OPS+, 4th in Rfield, 3rd in position player WAA after being even better than that last year. The position players and Joe's rotation of them are not a problem. Addison Russell is a 4-WAR SS who's turning 24 and has 4 years control left. Snapper, weren't you the one saying that you'd rather have a Harper than a Kershaw but yet you think we'd be interested in trading Russell?**

Folks over-state the Cubs pitching problems for next year. The rotation starts with Hendricks, Quintana and Lester. That's not shabby. Darvish is available if they want to splurge, Arrieta and a few others if they want to go mid-market. The main issue is the bullpen which starts the year as a disaster (Davis FA leaving a "core" of Edwards, Monty and Strop) but unless the next Andrew Miller or Craig Kimbrel is available, you don't even consider trading a starting quality position player (much less an above-average one) for a reliever. Theo's main issue (really his only issue) to date has been an inability to develop pitching and the Cubs have not even had that endless supply of AAA guys throwing 100. But c'mon, we're currently supposed to be quaking in fear over Brandon Morrow and there are 10 of him available every offseason.

It's a team that floundered a bit in the first half and the offense has picked a terrible time to stink. It happens. No need to panic, no need to trick yourself into thinking that Javy Baez will never hit again or Ian Happ is a long-term solution at 2B. If we still had Torres, we'd have some tough decisions to make.

We do miss Fowler for several reasons but primarily for that 390 OBP he gave us at the top of the lineup. Our leadoff guys put up a 324 OBP this year. But overall team OBP was only down from 343 to 338, not a huge deal. The offense ended up almost exactly reproducing last year on rate stats and RS, 14 more runs scored this year. Of course offense was up league-wide so repeating is not great but hardly a major issue.

On the intro ... Almora has no effect on Schwarber whatsoever. I don't understand that logic at all, Almora's not displacing somebody who would displace Schwarber. Heck, Almora becoming the full-time CF would make Schwarber's defense more tolerable, not less. Happ's the welcome surprise that has complicated things, with an assist from Schwarber's horrible first half (255/338/565 after his return although heavily vs RHP).

**Russell's main "problem" is that Correa, Seager and Lindor are the best young SS of the 21st century and among the best of all-time by age. But the list of SSs who figured out how to hit a bit better around age 24-25 is pretty long (not as long as the list of those who didn't) so Russell's still got upside. (So does Lindor while Correa and Seager will probably never be substantially better than they are now ... which is not an insult.)
   34. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 17, 2017 at 04:49 PM (#5556199)
It's been reported the Cubs were in on Verlander at the end of the waiver deadline. We will never know how serious they were.

Anyhow, by my count they've scored 20 runs in their 7 playoff games.
   35. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 17, 2017 at 05:17 PM (#5556234)
Anyhow, by my count they've scored 20 runs in their 7 playoff games.

9 in one of them, when they hit .243/.364/.352 as a team, with 0 HRs. That still blows my mind (weren't they also like 1 for 11 with RISP in that game?).

Some of that is explained by 4 of those 7 games being started by Strasburg, Scherzer, and Kershaw.

It's been reported the Cubs were in on Verlander at the end of the waiver deadline. We will never know how serious they were.

I've always thought it made more sense for them to pursue him after the season. If the Cubs can nab a top SP in FA (be it resigning Arrieta or Darvish or Otani), it'll be interesting to consider if they were able to spend more because they're spending less on Quintana than they would be on Verlander.
   36. Meatwad in mourning Posted: October 17, 2017 at 05:50 PM (#5556262)
Also otani is not getting 10mil from anyone. No team has that to spend on intl fa's.
   37. Walt Davis Posted: October 17, 2017 at 07:41 PM (#5556336)
9 in one of them, when they hit .243/.364/.352 as a team, with 0 HRs. That still blows my mind (weren't they also like 1 for 11 with RISP in that game?).

Yep, although both of Russell's doubles drove in a man from 1B. Anyway, the 9 runs:

1st (1): Jay scores on a groundout by Rizzo
3rd (2): Bases loaded, Bryant scores on a weak grounder by Russell; Contreras scores on a WP
5th (4): Contreras and Zobrist score on Russell's double; Russell scores and runners advance on the 3rd strike PB/error; Heyward scores on Jay HBP
6th (1): Zobrist scores on Russell double
7th (1): Schwarber scores as Bryant beats out DP

So that's 3 "productive outs" (a byproduct of 9 hits, 6 BB, and all the other fun ways of reaching base), 3 big RBI from Russell, and 3 runs on very bad baseball by the Nats. All told 7 RBI which doesn't look too strange, but the way they got them does.
   38. Andere Richtingen Posted: October 17, 2017 at 08:36 PM (#5556397)
Yes, without a doubt, it's about the Cubs offense. They have faced some great pitching, but come on.
   39. Walt Davis Posted: October 17, 2017 at 09:03 PM (#5556419)
Also on 2018 PT, possible trades, crowded roster, etc. ... Don't forget that Zobrist will be 37. I hope he bounces back but this year was more likely the beginning of the end. The Cubs will start the season giving him plenty of time (but probably reduced) but will have a quick hook if he struggles again. It's more likely the Cubs end up with mostly 5 guys (and hopefully a RHB version of Jay) rotating through 4 spots. Plenty of PT.

In the end this year, the Cubs ended up with only 3 batters qualifying -- Bryant, Rizzo and barely Baez. They also had 3 guys within 21 PA of qualifying and three more guys with 385-433 PA. Russell got hurt (he's the 385 guy) or he would have qualified (but then Javy probably not). But pre-season I don't think they were expecting to use 846 PA on Jay and Happ ... probably about 400 for Jay. That mainly happened because both guys did better than expected while Schwarber, Zo and Heyward struggled.

The real blockage going forward consists of Zo (2 years left) and Heyward (6 years left). But if Schwarber's bat is back and Happ continues to hit, then they can walk away from Zo and Heyward becomes 4th OF. Happ doesn't really have a RF arm. So we only have "surplus" if Zobrist defies age and/or Heyward hits a bit, neither's very likely and the whole point of depth is to cover for suckitude.

For sure though, if somebody wants to give us something good for Schwarber, I'd be happy to listen. Baez isn't untouchable but I'm more interested in keeping him than Schwarber. If the Cubs want to be bold (let's hope not), Rizzo's probably the guy to trade. The contract's so good that he'd bring back very nice return (Eaton+ I'd think), opens 1B for Schwarber (probably not too good over there).
   40. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: October 17, 2017 at 10:59 PM (#5556605)
The Cubs could use 1929 Rogers Hornsby right now.
   41. Greg Pope Posted: October 18, 2017 at 09:55 AM (#5556824)
Not sure how I could see the Cubs affording (talent outbound-wise) to get BOTH Quintana and Verlander.

I thought they should have claimed him in August and then if the Tigers were willing to let him go at full salary for basically free, great. If not, the Tigers are stuck with him.

But yes, the current problem is the offense.
   42. Man o' Schwar Posted: October 18, 2017 at 11:35 AM (#5556944)
The Cubs could use 1929 Rogers Hornsby right now.

So they could watch him go 4-for-4 with 4 doubles, then strand him at second each time?

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