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Monday, March 30, 2020

Sunday Notes: Zach Davies Plans to Rely Less on Changeups

Zach Davies threw a lot of changeups last season. Taking the hill for the Milwaukee Brewers, the now-27-year-old right-hander relied on the pitch an eyebrow-raising 31.3% of the time. In 2018, that number was 12.2%. In 2017, it was 14%.

Why the notable uptick in change-of-pace pitches?

“I was getting guys out in any way possible,” explained Davies, who was dealt to the San Diego Padres this past November. “Going into last year, I was coming off injuries [rotator cuff inflammation and lower back tightness] and wasn’t guaranteed a starting spot. I wasn’t able to go into spring training and work on pitches, and best way for me to get outs was fastball-changeup. That’s why the numbers were skewed. This year there will be a lot more of a mix.”

Not having a feel for his curveball, Davies threw his bender just 3.5% of the time last year, down from the 15-16% range he’d been accustomed to. His cutter usage was also down, albeit by only a few percentage points. I asked the command-artist what returning to more of a mix will entail.

Come for the consideration of pitches- stay for the story concerning a prominent pitcher and an unexpected visitor.


Saturday, March 07, 2020

Mookie Betts Locks in Dodgers’ Championship Expectations

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The most tedious hour or so of any ballplayer’s life comes early in spring training, when the entire organization assembles for introductions early one morning. For the Dodgers, that meeting lasted close to an hour and a half—so mind-numbingly long that the rest of the schedule had to be pushed back an hour.

Starting at 9 a.m., all of the franchise’s 100 or so staff members introduced themselves. Representatives from the team’s charitable arm, the Dodgers Foundation, screened a video about community impact. Chief marketing officer Lon Rosen addressed the public relations strategy, specifically as it related to their reaction to the Astros cheating scandal. (We’re handling this well, he said, according to a number of people who were in the room.) Eventually the room cleared of non-uniformed personnel, and through bleary eyes the players and coaches turned toward manager Dave Roberts for his traditional go-get-‘em speech.

Not this year, Roberts said. Someone else wanted to speak.

***

Mookie Betts looks like a Dodger now, from his L.A. hoodie to the ping pong paddle in his right hand. (The Dodgers stage a doubles tournament each spring that occasionally overtakes baseball as the main focus of camp; Betts has been playing recreationally in advance of the tourney.) But when he rose to address his new teammates, some vestiges of his six years in Boston remained: the plastic bat-and-ball necklace a 12-year-old fan gave him in 2018, the red-trimmed Rawlings gloves in his locker, the red Jordan 11s on his feet.

The sort of thing that makes you understand Red Smith’s point about U.S. Steel….

 

QLE Posted: March 07, 2020 at 12:58 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: dodgers, expectations, mookie betts

Friday, March 06, 2020

Rendon, Betts, Cole among baseball’s big offseason movers

Anthony Rendon won a World Series in Washington and then left the Nationals to join Mike Trout and Albert Pujols with the Los Angeles Angels. Gerrit Cole went to the New York Yankees to try to put them over the top.

Mookie Betts, the 2018 AL MVP, and two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber were shipped out by cash-cutting teams.

It’s been an active offseason for some of baseball’s biggest names.

There were a few, like World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg and Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez, who decided to stick with the same teams. But for those who didn’t, here’s a scorecard to help you keep track of the offseason comings and goings

For those who’ve lost track of the major deals of the off-season, the list again, in summary form.


Monday, February 24, 2020

MLBTR: A’s place their Betts on Semien

[block]So, even as the Red Sox determined they couldn’t “sit on [their] hands and lose” Betts without adequate compensation after the coming season, the Athletics decided to keep Semien in roughly analogous circumstances. Well, analogous from a roster talent and postseason odds perspective. The low-budget A’s are the sort of team that’s typically forced to take its Betts-type players off the table on the rationale set forth by Henry, even if it stings, in order to preserve a long-term flow of talent and keep up with deeper-pocketed rivals. Instead, they’re letting their version of Betts ride.

It’s quite the juxtaposition. Perhaps the A’s still have designs on a Semien extension, but it’s far from inevitable and we haven’t heard indication that a deal is particularly likely. And if one is to be struck, it’ll require convincing him to forego free agency … which will assuredly require the kind of price that makes the A’s squirm (even if they can now finally see a new ballpark on the horizon). A mid-summer trade fall-back is available but isn’t exactly plan A. All things considered, in relative terms, the situation is quite similar to that which would’ve faced the Red Sox on Betts.[/block]


Betts draws big cheer, drives in run during Dodgers debut

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Mookie Betts still has some work to do, settling in with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

On the field, though, he’s fine.

“The hardest thing is finding a house and learning everybody’s name,” Betts said Sunday after making his Cactus League debut. “The baseball’s the same. We all have the same focus.”

Betts led off and played right field for the Dodgers against the Chicago Cubs at Camelback Ranch. He received an enthusiastic welcome from the sellout crowd of 13,282 when he was introduced before the game with the rest of the Dodger starters and again when he batted in the first inning.

Well, glad that some people like this trade…..

QLE Posted: February 24, 2020 at 12:54 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: dodgers, mookie betts, spring training

Thursday, February 13, 2020

The Ringer: The Myths Behind Boston’s Mookie Betts Trade Justification

“Boston did really well,” one executive told ESPN’s Buster Olney. “The Red Sox will reset fast,” said another, adding, “they’ll have money to spend in the next offseason.”

Many of these optimistic interpretations of Boston’s side of the trade are centered more in myth than reality. So as spring training begins and Betts prepares for the first non–Red Sox camp of his career, let’s tackle some of those myths and expose the rotten underbelly of Boston’s trade.

A deep dive into the financials behind the trade.


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Red Sox exec Chaim Bloom says team will be competitive in 2020 without Mookie Betts

The Mookie Betts trade is finally, no-backsies official after a week of protracted negotiations.

The former MVP will join the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have solidified their place as the superpower of the National League in 2020. The Boston Red Sox will receive young outfielder Alex Verdugo, shortstop prospect Jeter Downs and catching prospect Connor Wong, then ... hope for the best in 2020.

Trading players like Betts and high-priced starting pitcher David Price while getting just one major leaguer in return usually comes with the expectation that the team will be worse the next year, but Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said Monday he expects the team to at least be competitive.

Bloom somewhat clarified his proclamation in a statement tweeted by the Red Sox, saying “we fully expect to compete for the postseason in 2020.”

Well, it’s not like he’d last long if he were honest…..

 

QLE Posted: February 11, 2020 at 12:41 AM | 173 comment(s)
  Beats: bullshit, chaim bloom, mookie betts

Monday, February 10, 2020

Sunday Notes: MLB Executives Weigh in on the Implications of MiLB Contraction

Almost inexplicably, the proposed contraction of 42 minor league teams has largely become second-page news. Baseball’s biggest story just a few short months ago, a potentially cataclysmic alteration of the game’s landscape has found itself overshadowed by cheating scandals, managerial mayhem, and the controversial trade of a superstar by a deep-pocketed team. In arguably one of the most-tumultuous off-seasons ever, a hugely-important issue lies almost dormant within the news cycle.

Here at FanGraphs, we’re doing our best not to let that happen. My colleague Craig Edwards is taking an in-depth look at the situation — expect those articles in the coming days — and what you’re seeing here serves as a lead-in to his efforts. My own opinions aren’t included. What follows are the thoughts of a handful of high-ranking MLB executives, the bulk of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity.

In the opinion of one GM, lawsuits are likely, if not inevitable. Speaking on the record would thus be an invitation to trouble. Another pointed out that the ongoing discussions are at the league level, and independent of individual teams. For that reason, offering a public opinion wouldn’t be in his best interest.

With no exception, each executive expressed that his organization’s bottom line is to optimize player development, regardless of the structure of the minor leagues. An American League GM put it this way:

“I don’t think [contraction] would change our operations that much in terms of what we’re focused on internally. We want to put the best resources in front of our players, and whether we have 10 minor league teams, five minor league teams, or somewhere in between, we’re going to do the same thing.”

Come for the serious consideration of a major topic- stay for the Greg Maddux stories and notes on player-pitcher records.


Sunday, February 09, 2020

Mookie Betts on way to L.A.—again (source)

DODGERS GET: OF Mookie Betts, LHP David Price, cash (all from BOS); RHP Brusdar Graterol, 67th pick in 2020 Draft (both from MIN)
RED SOX GET: OF Alex Verdugo, SS Jeter Downs, C Connor Wong (all from LA)
TWINS GET: RHP Kenta Maeda, cash (both from LA)


Saturday, February 08, 2020

Tony Clark says held-up Mookie Betts trade putting ‘players’ lives in state of limbo’

Tonight, on As The Mookie Turns:

The Major League Baseball Players Association had a strong message Friday for the teams involved in the held-up Mookie Betts blockbuster deal: Resolve it quickly.

Those were the words of executive director Tony Clark, who in a statement told the teams to conclude talks or move on.

“The proposed trades between the Dodgers, Red Sox, Twins, and Angels need to be resolved without further delay,” Clark said. “The events of this last week have unfairly put several Players’ lives in a state of limbo. The unethical leaking of medical information as well as the perversion of the salary arbitration process serve as continued reminders that too often Players are treated as commodities by those running the game.”

The blockbuster three-way trade, sources previously told ESPN, would send Red Sox right fielder Betts and starter David Price to the Dodgers; Dodgers outfielder Alex Verdugo and Twins pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol to the Red Sox; and Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda to the Twins.

 

QLE Posted: February 08, 2020 at 12:42 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: mlbpa, mookie betts, tony clark, trades

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Crazy similarities between Red Sox exits of Mookie Betts, Babe Ruth

It’s been a long time since the Boston Red Sox traded a player as talented as Mookie Betts in the prime of his career.

Betts is arguably the second-best player in Major League Baseball. In just six seasons, he’s won a World Series, an American League MVP award, four Gold Glove awards, three Silver Slugger awards and an AL batting title. But with free agency looming for the 27-year-old centerfielder, the Red Sox traded him to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night as part of a three-team deal that also included the Minnesota Twins.

The Red Sox have traded away some really good players in their 119-year history, but few have been more accomplished than Betts at the time of their departure. A comparable situation would be when the Red Sox traded center fielder Fred Lynn to the California Angels in 1981.

Another similar scenario was the sale of Babe Ruth to the rival New York Yankees. In fact, some of the similarities between Betts and Ruth toward the end of their careers in Boston are pretty interesting, as BostonSportsInf pointed out on Twitter.

On the bright side, some folk in the Boston area will be very happy come 2104…..

 

QLE Posted: February 06, 2020 at 01:13 AM | 26 comment(s)
  Beats: babe ruth, mookie betts

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Sources: Red Sox agree to trade Mookie Betts, David Price to Dodgers

The Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers have agreed to a blockbuster deal that will send former MVP Mookie Betts and left-hander David Price to Los Angeles for a package that includes outfielder Alex Verdugo, sources tell ESPN.

The trade includes a third team, the Minnesota Twins, with the Dodgers sending starter Kenta Maeda to Minnesota, which in turn will ship hard-throwing pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol to Boston, sources said, confirming a report by The Athletic.

The deal is pending medical reviews.

With the bidding for Betts heating up between the Dodgers and the National League West rival San Diego Padres in recent days, Boston chose to deal with Los Angeles and improve the team that lost in the division series to the Washington Nationals, the eventual World Series champions.

You know, it isn’t every day that a team with four World Series wins in the last sixteen years abruptly decides to tank for reasons that no one can understand…..

 

 

QLE Posted: February 05, 2020 at 12:24 AM | 68 comment(s)
  Beats: david price, dodgers, dollah dollah bills, y'all, greed, mookie betts, trades, white flag

Friday, January 31, 2020

Way-Too-Early Ranking of Next Winter’s Top Free Agents

Most of the top free agents this offseason have already signed, a refreshing change after the last few stagnant winters. Now, with players reporting to spring training in just a few weeks, let’s turn our attention to the best players available on the open market after next season.

This list includes only unrestricted free agents, because we don’t know now if Giancarlo Stanton, J.D. Martinez or Dellin Betances will opt out of their current deals. The same is true with Anthony Rizzo, Carlos Santana and Corey Kluber, whose clubs have the option to keep them for another year.

Here are the top five free agents slated to hit the market next winter.

This is what happens when the hot stove moves quicker than you were expecting, isn’t it?

QLE Posted: January 31, 2020 at 12:30 AM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: d.j. lemahieu, free agents, george springer, j.t. realmuto, mookie betts, trevor bauer

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Details emerge regarding Mookie Betts’ negotiations | WEEI

The Red Sox mismanaged the Betts offer. Before giving Sale a big extension, the Sox should have locked Betts up. There are players you nickel and dime; Betts isn’t one of those players.

According to Lou Merloni, the Red Sox have made extension offers to Betts in each of the last three offseasons, with last year’s proposal coming at 10 years, $300 million. Betts, however, countered with an asking price of 12 years, $420 million.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 29, 2020 at 09:29 AM | 110 comment(s)
  Beats: mookie betts, red sox

Friday, January 24, 2020

Red Sox, Padres have reportedly discussed Mookie Betts trade that includes a surprising name

Tonight, on As The Mookie Turns:

Coming into the offseason, the Boston Red Sox were expected to make a blockbuster trade in order to get underneath the luxury tax. With two months remaining until Opening Day, the most obvious trade candidates—outfielders Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr., and left-handed starter David Price—all remain in town. It’s anyone’s guess as to how much longer that stays true, as the Red Sox continue to monitor the market and explore potential deals.

For evidence of that, consider how the Red Sox and San Diego Padres recently engaged on talks centered around Betts, according to Dennis Lin of The Athletic. Lin notes that while a deal has been characterized as unlikely, the talks have included a “significant amount of prospect talent” heading to Boston, as well as outfielder Wil Myers, who would serve as salary ballast.

Betts, 27, recently agreed to terms on a one-year pact worth $27 million for what will be his final season of team control. He’s expected to earn even more through free agency, as he’s hit .299/.389/.535 (141 OPS+) over the last three seasons while playing high-grade defense in right field. Betts has so far resisted the Red Sox’s attempts at signing him to a long-term extension, preferring instead to test the market at year’s end and receive a contract fitting of his true value.

As always, my apologies for not linking to an item behind a pay wall.

 

QLE Posted: January 24, 2020 at 12:43 AM | 80 comment(s)
  Beats: mookie betts, padres, red sox, trade rumors

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Will the Red Sox use Alex Cora’s dismissal as a pretext for a teardown?

When Jeff Luhnow and A.J. Hinch were fired yesterday, someone asked me what it all means for the Astros. My gut reaction was “not that much, at least in the short term.” Losing your manager and GM is not great and the loss of the draft picks will be a big blow down the line, but in the short term the team is still stocked, with Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke going 1-2 in the rotation, Alex Bregman, José Altuve, Carlos Correa, and George Springer in the lineup and a farm system still pretty loaded with talent. They may not win 107 games again, and the rise of the Astros may be over, but they’re not likely to fall too far too fast.

The situation with the Red Sox strikes me a bit differently, though. And with Alex Cora getting fired this evening, I’m wondering if, perhaps, we may see some major changes for Boston, and if we see them quickly.

As Bill noted earlier, the Red Sox are at least trying to shrink payroll. They’ve equivocated on that at various times this offseason, first saying that they wanted to get below the Competitive Balance Tax threshold and that doing so while keeping both Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez would be difficult. They backtracked on that more recently, saying that winning, not getting under that threshold, was the priority. Still, it’s hard to separate the stated goals from the P.R. considerations. One gets the strong feeling that, yes, the Sox’ front office would love to cut payroll below $208 million if they can, but that doing it without trading Mookie Betts would be close to impossible. And, of course, trading Betts would be a huge blow to fan morale, would likely lead to a big backlash, and might sink the Sox, competitively speaking.

But . . . maybe Alex Cora getting tossed aside changes that calculus? Maybe the team’s top brass — including new Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom, who has no connection whatsoever to that which happened in Boston before this winter and who has more leeway right now to build the team the way he wants to than he will ever have going forward — sees this crisis as an opportunity? Maybe they decide to cast Cora’s dismissal and whatever other penalties Major League Baseball visits upon them when the investigation is over as the straw that broke this iteration of the Red Sox’ back and decide to tear it up and start over?

 

 

QLE Posted: January 15, 2020 at 01:04 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: chaim bloom, dollah dollah bills, y'all, mookie betts, red sox, the sky is falling

Friday, January 10, 2020

Red Sox, Mookie Betts avoid arbitration with a 1-year, $27 million deal

Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: January 10, 2020 at 02:03 PM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: c.r.e.a.m., mookie betts, red sox, wu-tang 4ever

 

 

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