Baseball, of course, has a lot to do with money.
Players move money, teams love money, the league loves money. As fun and as entertaining as it may be, it is a business, after all.
So when Greg Holland, who hasn't pitched since 2015 due to Tommy John surgery, still gets $7 million in guaranteed money from the Colorado Rockies, a lot of us nod our heads in an "uh-huh" type of fashion.
It has now been three weeks since the Winter Meetings concluded, and many of the best free agents still remain unsigned.
Edwin Encarnacion, for one, has seen his market evolve throughout the entire winter, and it still remains murky even as the new year approaches.
In November, the Toronto Blue Jays reportedly offered Encarnacion a four-year deal worth about $80 million. But, in an apparent attempt to replace the slugger in the event he does return, the team signed Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce. They are far inferior options, yes, but those deal could be what ultimately keeps the Jays from bringing Encarnacion back.
Amidst all the fun that comes with the World Series--the storylines, triumphs, defeats--an unfortunate story was leaked on Tuesday.
New York Mets closer Jeurys Familia was arrested on Oct. 31 due to domestic violence allegations. It is awful to hear about yet another professional athlete doing something like this. It is even worse when realizing Familia had taken part in an ad campaign against domestic violence released just in the past month, where he says, in Spanish, “I am not fan of domestic violence.”
While the news is still developing and details are still becoming available to the public, I ask Rob Manfred, when the time comes, to truly consider the implications of the punishment when it is handed down to Familia.
Manfred has done well, at least I believe he has, so far when handling domestic violence cases. According to MLB policy, it is 100 percent up to Manfred’s discretion when handing down a punishment.
Manfred, thus far during his tenure as commissioner, has had to handle three higher-profile domestic violence cases. And, of course, he has handed down three distinct punishments.
Mets’ infielder Jose Reyes was arrested and charged in Hawaii last October due to a domestic violence complaint. Though, after his wife would not cooperate with authorities, charges were dropped. Manfred’s punishment was a 51-game ban.
Cubs’ reliever Aroldis Chapman was not arrested nor charged in a domestic violence incident last December. Manfred barred him 30 games, but he is pitching in the playoffs for Chicago, generating controversy within itself.
Free agent Hector Olivera was arrested and charged outside Washington D.C. last April. His trial did go through the courts system, and he was found guilty, receiving 10 days of jail time. Manfred passed down an 82-game suspension to Olivera, who looks unlikely to receive another shot at playing in the Major Leagues.
For Familia, though, I am not asking Manfred to hand out a specific punishment. I think I am (we probably all are, at the moment) not informed enough on the subject or even how to develop a suspension to just throw a number out there. That is not what this is about.
I am asking Manfred, however, to begin to develop a precedent for future cases. Sure, he has, to an extent, dealt with that with Reyes’, Chapman’s and Olivera’s issues, but even each of their cases carried different impacts.
Chapman, obviously, is the most known and best player of the three. He also was not charged nor arrested. It makes sense, then, as to why he received the least amount of punishment from that specific angle.
Reyes is still known, but he is well past his prime. The Rockies swiftly parted ways with Reyes after he returned from suspension, where they may have been more reluctant to do so had Chapman been their player. In fact, Chapman was still sought out by teams, first by the Yankees during the same offseason in which the allegations were brought against him, and then by the Cubs who needed a playoff push. It is not against any rule to pursue a player associated with domestic violence, but it is a little sad to think teams are able to overlook that in the name of winning.
And then there is Olivera, who was arrested and charged but is relatively unknown in terms of the baseball world. That, specifically, is why I cannot see him making a return to the big leagues.
With Familia, Manfred is dealing with a player that falls into the same category as Chapman in terms of stardom and will either fall into the same category as Reyes or Olivera in terms of the severity of the legal proceedings.
All I ask from Manfred is that he stays consistent. Sure, I enjoy baseball, but I am also a sports fan. And, I have seen far too much where the National Football League, in particular, has gone wrong in terms of handing out punishments. They are either lenient and then made stricter due to press coverage (look at Josh Brown’s case), causing a whole headache for the league and its fans overall.
Domestic violence is downright gross. It does not have a place in any society. But, commissioner Manfred still (unfortunately) has to deal with it. And my hopes are that he is sincere, consistent and takes all into consideration before dealing with his next challenge.
Don't make any Trevor Story puns, Devan. Don't do it.
Too late. The Rockies' rookie shortstop has been a mammoth story this season, as he continues to break record after record. A few of the highlights from his six home run performance in his first four career games:
In four games this season, Story is hitting .368 (7-for-19) with six home runs and 11 RBIs in 19 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, he has already been worth 0.6 Wins Above Replacement, tied for second in the Major Leagues.
The best thing of all is that Story wasn't even supposed to be the Rockies' starting shortstop coming into this year. When Troy Tulowitzki was traded to the Blue Jays last summer, the Rockies received Jose Reyes and gave him that job.
He'd still be here now if he did not have some domestic violence allegations put up against him and was suspended indefinitely earlier this spring. This opened up the door for Story, the Rockies' 11th-best prospect (via MLB.com) to take the starting job.
I guess you could say the rest is hiSTORY.
All stats, unless otherwise noted, are from @theaceofspaeder on Twitter. Be sure to give him a follow for all the best baseball stats. Also, check out his book Incredible Baseball Stats here.
Baseball season begins in a month. Spring Training games began last week, but the real news is that regular season baseball is just four weeks away. This Saturday night, I will be previewing the National League West division, after previewing the East and Central divisions each of the past two weeks.
1. San Francisco Giants -- 2015 Record: 84-78; Projection: 93-69
I don't believe in correlation without causation, but the fact that the Giants won the World Series in 2010, missed the playoffs in 2011, won the World Series in 2012, missed the playoffs in 2013, won the World Series in 2014, and missed the playoffs in 2015 is fairly interesting. The Giants appear to retool every other year to then subsequently win the World Series. And boy did they retool this offseason.
San Francisco added Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, and Denard Span over the winter, deepening both their rotation and lineup. On the offensive side of the ball, the Giants boast the likes of Joe Panik, Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Hunter Pence, and Matt Duffy, as well as Span, to give them a great order from the top to the bottom. This was a team that posted the second-best wRC+ in baseball without Span, so 2016 should be a similarly good offensive year for the team.
The Giants' downfall came in their rotation last year. As a group, that unit was worth a total of 7.2 fWAR, sixth-worst in the Majors. With pitching that bad, I'm actually surprised that the Giants played as well as they did last year. The front office obviously noticed the same issues, and they pounced. Cueto and Samardzija now give the Giants a much improved rotation that also includes Madison Bumgarner, Jake Peavy, and Matt Cain. This improved pitching, plus the fact that it is an even year, should carry the Giants to a division title.
2. Arizona Diamondbacks -- 2015 Record: 79-83; Projection: 91-71
I guess I still haven't learned my lesson, have I? I've always been high on teams that are considered the bigger winners of the offseason and then they falter and do not reach expectations. The Diamondbacks are different, though. They did something similar to what the Cubs did last offseason. The Diamondbacks took a young core in the form of Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, David Peralta, and Patrick Corbin and supplemented to it. That's different than the 2015 Padres, for instance, who basically built their team through free agents and trades. The Diamondbacks built their team, and now they are supplementing it. This is why I think this will work.
Who were those additions, you ask? Well, their biggest came as a huge rotation upgrade. Zack Greinke will now be leading a Diamondbacks' staff that also includes fellow new addition Shelby Miller, as well as Patrick Corbin, Rubby De La Rosa, and Robbie Ray. The rotation was a place of struggle for Arizona last season, and they definitely made the necessary moves this offseason to give them one of the more formidable staffs in baseball. Their bullpen, too, got an upgrade. This time it comes in the form of Tyler Clippard, who will serve as a nice bridge to closer Brad Ziegler. Last season, the Diamondbacks ranked 27th in fWAR from pitchers.
In the lineup, the Diamondbacks supplemented Goldschmidt, Pollock, and Peralta with Jean Segura. They hope Segura can find his bat in 2016. If so, he'll be an extremely good upgrade in the middle infield. Arizona also needs Yasmany Tomas, Jake Lamb, or Nick Ahmed to step it up in 2016 in order to make up for the loss of Ender Inciarte.
The Diamondbacks will be on the cusp of making the playoffs, but if everything goes well for them, I wouldn't be surprised if they are still playing come October.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers -- 2015 Record: 92-70; Projection: 88-74
It appears that the Dodgers have an unlimited amount of funds, but they still could not get David Price or Zack Greinke to sign with them in free agency. Even a deal with Hisashi Iwakuma fell apart, leaving the team to settle for deals with Scott Kazmir, Kenta Maeda, and Yaisel Sierra. The Dodgers won the NL West in 2015, but this was partly because their pitchers combined for the second-highest fWAR total and fifth-lowest ERA in the Majors.
In 2016, where are the Dodgers going to get their pitching? Greinke, who was worth 5.9 fWAR, is gone. The Japanese Maeda is something of an unknown. Hyun-jin Ryu missed the entire 2015 season with a torn shoulder. Clayton Kershaw is the only anchor in this rotation. If it works out, more power to them. But, I'd rather have the Diamondbacks' Greinke, Miller, and Corbin in a three-game set as compared to Kershaw, Anderson, and Kazmir or Ryu.
On the offensive, the Dodgers should be just fine. Their lineup posted the third-best wRC+ in baseball last year, and it should be even better this year with a full season from top prospect Corey Seager. Adrian Gonzalez, Joc Pederson, and Yasiel Puig are the heart of a power-heavy order that is among the best in the league. The Dodgers still have the firepower to make a run deep into the postseason, but their pitching remains a question mark.
4. San Diego Padres -- 2015 Record: 74-88; Projection: 74-88
The Padres' 2015 season was nothing short of a disappointment. The team put all their chips on the table last offseason, acquiring Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, Justin Upton, Derek Norris, James Shields, and Craig Kimbrel via trade and free agent signings. Despite all those big names, the Padres were actually worse in 2015 than they were the prior year (77-85). Kimbrel and Upton are gone, but the Padres seem to be in between fully rebuilding or trying to contend. This uncertainty will lead to another subpar season.
Perhaps the biggest offseason acquisition for the Padres was the hiring of new manager Andy Green. He has never managed at the big league level, last serving as the Diamondbacks' third base coach, but needs to spark this team and develop a chemistry that they did not have last year.
The Padres' offense got additions in the form of Jon Jay and Alexei Ramirez this offseason, but the loss of Justin Upton in the middle of the order will hurt. Even with Upton posting a 122 OPS+, San Diego was in the bottom third in baseball in wRC+. They can be better this year if Norris can improve on his 99 OPS+ in 2015 and if Ramirez serves as a true upgrade over Alexi Amarista at shortstop (which he should).
In the pitching department, the Padres shouldn't be terrible. Their staff actually posted the eighth-best xFIP in baseball and top-three starters, Tyson Ross, Shields, and Andrew Cashner, all return. In the bullpen, Fernando Rodney takes over as closer. If the Padres want to beat this projection, they need their offense to pick up the slack. It's hard to see that happening, when the team appears to lack a real direction.
5. Colorado Rockies -- 2015 Record: 68-94; Projection: 70-92
The Rockies want to contend, but I just don't think that is possible. It may happen sooner rather than later, however. In 2016, the Rockies indirectly proved that they wanted to contend, signing Gerardo Parra and acquiring Jake McGee from the Rays to upgrade their lineup and bullpen, respectively. This team won just 68 games in 2015 and is not complete or deep enough to make any real noise in the National League this upcoming year.
I am a fan of the Rockies lineup heading into the season. Charlie Blackmon, D.J. LeMahieu, Carlos Gonzalez, Nolan Arenado, and the Coors Field effect should give the Rockies one of the higher scoring offenses in the National League. Last season, though they did have Troy Tulowitzki for the first half of the year or so, the Rockies scored the fifth-most runs in baseball.
The only issue with the Rockies is their pitching. That's a pretty major issue, to be fair. Colorado's projected rotation consists of Jorge De La Rosa, Chad Bettis, Jordan Lyles, Jon Gray, and Tyler Chatwood. De La Rosa and Bettis each posted ERA+s over 100 (considered average). The bullpen should be improved, because the Rockies also added Jason Motte and Chad Qualls to go along with McGee. It's hard to know how much of a difference all these moves will make, but the Rockies probably won't be in the conversation in the National League this year.
Next up: AL East.