Tough news came out of St. Louis yesterday, as the baseball world learned that Cardinals' first baseman Matt Adams had torn his quadriceps, and will undergo surgery tomorrow, likely missing the rest of the season.
In the short term, Mark Reynolds is likely to step into the position of first, though his career .230/.324/.456 slash line isn't likely intriguing to a team that is vying to win the National League Central and go deep into the playoffs.
Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard was almost immediately mentioned as a possible trade candidate for the Cardinals, as he is playing for a team that not only has the fourth-worst record in baseball, but is almost guaranteed to sell at the trade deadline.
Howard is from St. Louis. He was born in Missouri and went to high school and college in Missouri. With Howard having complete no-trade rights due to the 10-and-5 rule (10 years in the big leagues; at least five with one club), St. Louis would be a spot that many think he would waive a trade to.
However, a Twitter follower of mine did bring up a good point. @JasonWeisel noted that Howard has had some family issues, including an ugly legal fight where his brother attempted to sue him for just under $3 million. Could that cause Howard not to want to move back home and want to be traded elsewhere, if not stay with the Phillies? That could play an interesting role.
The need is there and the fit could be there. But I'm not fully convinced that Ryan Howard will draw any interest from the Cardinals for multiple reasons.
St. Louis is a team that focuses a lot on defense, which, to put it lightly, Howard does not have. Howard has been worth a horrid -55 defensive runs saved in his career, and is at a -3 mark this season. That is why many believe that Howard is bound to be traded to an American League team and DH.
Reynolds, on the other hand, is much better, being worth -12 defensive runs saved at first and 2 this season.
Howard is also signed through next season with a team option for 2017, which could add complications for when Matt Adams does return to action. If Adams comes back healthy, does Howard become a bench player for the Cardinals? Or do they try and trade him in a possible contract year? Those are questions that club officials will have to answer .
With a .256/.298/.519/.817 line, Howard has experiences somewhat of a revival this season, posting the highest wRC+ since he hit 33 home runs in 2011. Howard already has 10 homers this season and has driven in 24 runs.
At Busch Stadium, Howard has been a pitcher-killer, slashing .341/.468/.643/1.111 in 156 plate appearances, hitting 11 homers and 39 runs batted in.
On paper, a deal for Ryan Howard would make a lot of sense for the Cardinals. But, with anything, there are always some downsides, which could mean that the Cardinals are not the best fit if Howard is eventually dealt.
Brewers' pitcher Will Smith and Orioles' pitcher Brian Matusz were both ejected this past week for having a foreign substance on their arms. Smith was suspended--and has since appealed--eight games, while Matusz is still waiting on a verdict.
Major League Baseball rule 8.01(a)(4) states that, "The pitcher shall not...apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball...PENALTY: For violation...the pitcher shall be ejected immediately from the game and shall be suspended automatically. In National Association Leagues, the automatic suspension shall be for 10 games."
Foreign substances include mixes of sunscreen and rosin, pine tar, and anything else for pitchers to get a tacky ball, something that will allow them to grip it better.
The worst part of all these suspensions and ejections is that hitters tend to not care if pitchers are using these substances. If a pitcher can grip a ball better, they are able to throw it more accurately, meaning less hit batsmen and overall a safer game.
Orioles' manager Buck Showalter understands the rule, but is also a main proponent in instituting tackier balls for a safer overall game.
"Why is the rosin on the field? Why is it there," asked Orioles manager Buck Showalter, via The Baltimore Sun. "It's a deeper issue than that. You've all heard me talk about the crux of the problem. Same reason hitters have pine tar. We all understand the crux of the problem is gripping the ball; it's not trying to [doctor the ball]."
The "foreign substance rule" was implemented to outlaw certain advantages pitchers were gaining through throwing spitballs or, as Showalter mentioned, doctoring the baseball.
But when a pitcher's intent is to just grip the ball a little easier, don't you think that they should be allowed to use these substances?
Absolutely. But to keep pitchers from doctoring the baseball or using spitballs, MLB cannot get rid of the rule altogether. They would need to tweak it.
"I would like to see an approved substance pitchers can use," Red Sox manager John Farrell was quoted as saying via ESPN. "I think anytime a game loses players for eight to 10 games, I think it makes us as an industry look within."
ESPN's Baseball Tonight had an interesting segment regarding foreign substances, including an appearance from ex-Athletics pitcher Dallas Braden.
Braden said that, during Spring Training, the Athletics would have an "application" station, where pitchers would learn to use these substances, including a mixture of rosin and BullFrog sunscreen. Braden said that he would reapply the mixture after every inning.
Braden suggested that they should put a pine tar rag behind the mound, similar to how there is a rosin bag behind the mound. He argues that hitters have weighted donuts, batting gloves, pine tar, and other things to give them an advantage, so why are pitchers limited so much?
Even though they may be at a disadvantage, pitchers are still technically cheating. Now, isn't cheating wrong? Is there a little bit of guilt involved?
"No. Absolutely not," Braden said. "I've got outs to get."
Oakland Athletics' left-hander Scott Kazmir is not Cole Hamels.
Yet, at the Trade Deadline in two months, Kazmir could be the biggest bargain for any team in desperate need of some starting pitching help.
Kazmir has had a solid start to this season, going 2-3 with a 3.09 ERA (3.93 FIP) and a 53 to 22 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 55.1 innings pitched. With all the need out there for an extra starting pitcher, Kazmir's stock could increase in the coming months.
The Athletics' season has not started out hot, going 15-30 in their first 45 games. Knowing Billy Beane, the team is going to move some players in July. Kazmir is bound to be one of them.
Oakland inked Kazmir to a two-year, $22 million deal prior to the 2014 season, and the deal has gone exactly how they hoped, with Kazmir pitching to a mid-3 ERA including an All-Star season last year. With Kazmir becoming a free agent this winter, it does not make sense for the Athletics to keep him.
Possible suitors for Kazmir include the Dodgers, Blue Jays, Orioles, and even the Red Sox (if they can't get Cole Hamels). In my mind, all four of those clubs would be willing to give Beane the fair prospect price for Kazmir, which would probably be one or perhaps two intriguing lower-level prospects, similar to the Franklin Barreto addition in the Josh Donaldson deal.
With every good start he makes, Kazmir becomes more valuable in a trade. His first start, against the Rangers, showed exactly what he is capable of. He threw seven innings, allowing one hit and no runs, striking out ten and walking just two.
If that can't help the Blue Jays rotation with their 5.15 ERA, the Red Sox rotation with their 5.08 ERA, or the Dodgers with all the injuries to their rotation in Hyun-jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy, I don't know what does.
His name isn't Cole Hamels, but instead it's Scott Kazmir. And he's looking to help a struggling rotation today (or in July).
The Marlins "demoted" Dan Jennings to manager on Monday.
Since, many stories have been written, many tweets have been sent, and many opinions have been shared.
The main consensus?
Dan Jennings' appointment/demotion/movement was a terrible decision by Marlins management.
Jennings hasn't coached baseball in three decades and even then it was just for a high school team.
But even before Jennings managed a game, but even before he even ran the clubhouse, the move was written off, by both people around the game and people outside it.
Jennings isn't an idiot. He's been working within baseball for over 30 years. Does that mean he's going to be a good manager? Absolutely not. But should we give him a chance? Yes.
The Marlins were going to be better than they are right now. They are 16-23, and have managed to fall to the bottom of the NL East, even with the talent they have on their roster in the form of Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and others.
But maybe the Marlins management makes a good point with the movement of Jennings.
General manager Dan Jennings built this team. Now, manager Dan Jennings must lead them. There isn't one person who knows this team better, inside-and-out, than Jennings. This is his creation. Now, he must build chemistry and turn them into a winner.
Does that make Jennings the best lineup developer? The best leader in the clubhouse? The best manager?
But what it does make him is possibly the most seamless transition from Mike Redmond there is. The Marlins brought in a new voice to the club without having him have to get used to the team.
If this is just a one season thing, I like the gutsiness the Marlins are showing. To me, this move showed that they needed a new voice, but are in such a dire need of wins they wanted to keep a guy who knows the product, or team, well.
So, let's wait and see if Dan Jennings is truly a terrible manager. He deserves a fair run.
A mere two weeks ago, Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis was riding a dismal start to the season, hitting .218 with a .551 OPS through the first month of the season.
Indians manager Terry Francona bumped Kipnis up to leadoff in the lineup near the end of April to try and change his fortunes.
Kipnis has responded in such a way that "red hot" could not even describe it. Perhaps we could say Kipnis is "blue hot."
On May 4, Francona had already seen a change in Kipnis. "I think it has given us a boost, him being there," Francona said. Even Francona, one of the best baseball minds, could not have predicted what was to come for Kipnis.
Fast forward 13 days to May 17 and Kipnis is hitting .340. His OPS? An astounding .910. Kipnis has given the Indians more than just a boost. He has been perhaps the best player in the Major Leagues over the past week.
Yet, the Indians are 14-21, sitting in last place in the AL Central, owners of the second-worst record in the AL. What gives?
The Indians were a team that many thought could go deep into the postseason, with their "awesome" pitching staff and their young and promising offense. And despite their poor performance in terms of record, the metrics say the Indians best baseball is yet to come.
Cleveland's roster overall has posted a 30.9 fWAR, the fifth-highest in baseball, higher than all of their AL Central counterparts, and second-highest in the AL overall. Baseball Reference's simple rating system (SRS), which determines how many runs per game a team is above (or below average). Despite having the second fewest wins, they still have a 0.3 SRS. Changes will come.
Let's break down the Indians, starting with their offense. Coming into Sunday, their offense has been amongst the best in baseball, posting the fifth-highest wRC+, along with the 11th-best OPS. This all comes with a below-average BABIP, ranking 18th. The Indians offense, while good, will get better.
The Indians pitching, while seemingly terrible, is bound to get better. They have the fifth-highest ERA in baseball, but have the ninth-lowest FIP, second-lowest xFIP, second-highest K/BB rate, second-highest strikeout rate, and by far the highest BABIP allowed.
Basically, what those stats are showing is the Indians pitching has been arguably the most unlucky staff in baseball, as they've been burned when hitters have put the ball in play (possibly due to bad defense) and have done an excellent job getting strikeouts and limiting walks. Over the course of a season, those numbers tend to balance out. What I'm saying is that the Indians pitching will get better as time goes on. And we may already be seeing it before our eyes.
Take right-hander Corey Kluber, for example. Kluber is fresh off of a Cy Young award season, but came out of the gate slowly, pitching to an 0-5 record with a 5.04 ERA--but a 3.15 xFIP--in his first seven starts. People worried about Kluber. They began wondering if he was a fluke. They wondered whether his Cy Young was a fluke; whether his extension was a fluke.
Then, as the metrics predicted, Kluber began to settle down. Though it was one start, Kluber was brilliant on May 13. He was brilliant to the point where only some pitchers can go. Only elite pitchers can be as good as he was on May 13. He pitched eight shutout innings, striking out 18 (!!!) and walking none. Kluber gave up one hit.
Kluber was back.
In order for the Indians to contend this season, at least to the point of the postseason, they need guys like Jason Kipnis and Corey Kluber to step up their games and bring them to the next level. The Indians are only 7-7 in May, but I'm expecting them to heat up like the summer sun. The Indians will be quite hot, quite fast.