|The next Cuban Sensation: Shortstop Yoan Moncada
Wow, did a lot happen this week or what? My favorite bit of news is on the next Cuban Sensation up for bid. He is 19-year old shortstop (and potential second baseman, third baseman or center fielder) Yoan Moncada. This kid is said to be the real deal and definitely worthy of a spot on your dynasty league roster or a minor-league pick in keeper leagues. He is said to have plus speed, plus power and skill with the bat to go with a rocket arm and soft hands in the field.
This Ben Badler quote from Baseball America cinches the deal for me:
How good is Moncada? He has more upside than Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, who just reached a $72.5 million deal with the Red Sox. He’s better than Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas... If Moncada were eligible for the 2015 draft, he would be in the mix to be the No. 1 overall pick. Gourriel and Despaigne would be safer bets, but there’s no player in Cuba with Moncada’s combination of youth, tools and hitting ability.
Yoan Moncada may force MLB to move to an International Draft
Baseball America's Profile on Yoan Moncada
The Tampa Bay Rays Trade Jeremy Hellickson
Hellickson seemed to defy expectations his first few years in the majors with ERA totals that looked much better than the various ERA predictors such as FIP and xFIP revealed. Then injuries and disappointment dominated the last two seasons - as many experts predicted. What do the Arizona Diamondbacks see in Hellickson? They seem to have a vast collection of talented starting pitchers that have disappointed in one way or another, even before adding Hellickson to their numbers. They also have a few highly thought of pitching prospects.
I am confident that Hellickson can be solid mid-rotation starter for the D'backs. I think injuries are mostly to blame for the poor performance the last two seasons. And even if he is not the pitcher he appears to be in his rookie and sophomore seasons, he was never really projected to be terrible. His strikeout rate has been ticking upward and his Swinging Strike rate is indicating that improvement is real. The uptick in strikeouts has also led to an improving FIP. The move to the NL should only help his strikeout rate improve further and with a solid defense behind him I think he will be quite fantasy worthy for a low investment.
Diamondbacks fans are not thrilled by the trade
Rays fans seem quite a bit happier...
Rays fans examine Hellickson just before the deal took place
New York Newsday's Controversial Steroid Story
Anthony Bosch has accused agent Scott Boras of attempting to cover up the positive test by Manny Ramirez a few years ago. At this point in the on-going steroid/PED story I do not know what to believe. It would be easy to believe that everyone involved in any way is dirty and that no one undeserving has been smeared but I cannot force myself to believe it. I will be very happy when all facets of this story disappear forever.
The New York Newsday Story
Scott Boras statement on the accusations (added to the Newsday Story after the fact)
Mets GM Sandy Alderson has nothing good to say about Scott Boras
The 2014 MLB Season Awards
Despite having his worst full season in the majors Mike Trout finally won the American League MVP award. Though a .287/.377/.561 batting line with 36 homeruns and 16 stolen bases would be a career year for most players. For fantasy owners I'm sure the stolen base total was disappointing and perhaps a few owners were counting on a .300-plus batting average to pull up the rest of their team batting stats. Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs.com looks at how Trout was pitched in the second half of the season when he had a 30 percent strikeout rate. Personally I believe he will make the necessary adjustments to how he is pitched and continue to be one of the better players in the American League for another decade or so.
If I had a vote I would have given it to Giancarlo Stanton (he lets me call him Mike) for the National League MVP. I do not have a problem with pitchers winning the MVP award but I think that should only happen when the pitcher has an historic season and there is not a worthy performance by a batter. I do not believe that was the case this season. Stanton was outstanding this season and when you consider the overall decline of offense in MLB it was even more outstanding. A season of 6.1 fWAR, a 159wRC+, and 37 homeruns is a more than worthy MVP. The Miami Marlins were even in contention until late in the season thanks largely to his performance.
Trout’s 420 points were the most possible, and rounding out the top 10 in the AL were Victor Martinez (229), Michael Brantley (185), Jose Abreu (145), Jose Bautista (128), Robinson Cano (124), Nelson Cruz (102), Josh Donaldson (96), Miguel Cabrera (82) and Felix Hernandez (48). The full ballot is available in this Google doc from the BBWAA.
Kershaw edged out Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton, finishing with 355 points to 298. Behind Kershaw and Stanton in the top 10 were Andrew McCutchen (271), Jonathan Lucroy (167), Anthony Rendon (155), Buster Posey (152), Adrian Gonzalez (57), Adam Wainwright (53), Josh Harrison (52) and Anthony Rizzo (37). The full ballot is available in this Google Doc from the BBWAA.Jose Abreu finished fourth in the MVP race and was the first ROY for the Chicago White Sox since Ozzie Guillen in 1985. After a huge debut season it is tough to imagine him doing much better, but if you look at his season splits it might change your mind. hit .292/.342/.630 with an absurd 29 homeruns in 351 PA. The second half he batted .350/.435/.513 with seven homers in 271 PA. The obvious takeaway might be the decline in homerun rate. But Abreu played through a hamstring injury for most of the second half and hit .350 while major league pitchers were doing everything in their power to either get him out or keep him from clearing the bases with one swing. I think there is another MVP worthy season coming from Jose Abreu.
I was a little surprised that Jake deGrom was such an over whelming winner over Billy Hamilton. However he is more than worthy of the award. The first New York Met ROY since the great Dwight Gooden in 1984. deGrom is essentially the product of a good arm on an intelligent and hard-working player receiving great coaching and rubbing shoulders with talented veterans.
Eno Sarris Breaks down deGrom's experience and development in the Minor Leagues (a must read)
Hamilton's stats certainly were not as good for fantasy purposes in the second half but there were signs that he was improving as a baseball player which can only be good for his current and future owners. His defense was outstanding and he showed guts continuing to go out there and battle. Hamilton has shown the ability to adjust in the minors and I think he will adjust again to the barrage of inside fastballs he saw in the second half. Unless you paid an absurd amount for him he should be worth keeping around just for the stolen bases as he continues to improve as a player.
From MLBTrade Rumors:
The Angels’ Matt Shoemaker (40 points), the Yankees’ Dellin Betances (27), the Astros’ Collin McHugh (21) the Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka (16) rounded out the top five in the AL voting. Billy Hamilton finished second in the NL balloting with 92 points, well ahead of the Cardinals’ Kolten Wong (14), the Phillies’ Ken Giles (8) and the Diamondbacks’ Ender Inciarte (4).Ken Giles made an impression this season
Kershaw was a unanimous winner, with Johnny Cueto and Adam Wainwright finishing second and third, respectively. Madison Bumgarner finished in fourth place (obligatory caveat: votes were due before the postseason commenced), while Jordan Zimmermann, Cole Hamels, Zack Greinke, Doug Fister, Jake Arrieta, Craig Kimbrel, Stephen Strasburg and Henderson Alvarez rounded out the ballot. The award marks Kershaw’s third Cy Young in four seasons.The Re-Building Braves
Kluber, a breakout star with the Indians, edged out Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, who finished second. Kluber received a total of 169 points in the voting, while Hernandez received 159. Rounding out the ballot were Chris Sale, Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, David Price, Phil Hughes, Wade Davis and Greg Holland. Kluber posted an 18-9 record with a 2.44 ERA, 10.3 K/9, 1.9 BB/9 and a 48 percent ground-ball rate in 235 2/3 innings.
The Dodgers were not the only team to revamp their front office this fall. They brought Roy Clark back to the organization and hired Gordon Blakeley as Special Assistants to the General Manager. Brian Bridges was promoted to scouting director. Not to mention being John Hart on as the General Manager. The Braves have entered if not quite a re-building period - it is at least a period of re-structuring that extends from the front office to the playing field.
Baseball America outlines the front office and scouting department changes the Braves have made.
John Hart denied that the Braves were shopping Evan Gattis despite the abundance of rumors to the contrary. The inexperienced Christian Bethancourt will be the primary starting catcher. If the Braves are not marketing Gattis they will need to find a place for him to play, which is likely what has gotten the media and other GMs speculating.
“We are coming in with the idea that we don’t have to trade anybody,” Hart said. “We have not made a call (to see if a team is interested in any player). We have received calls on people; we haven’t had any conversations yet. That (Gattis rumor) is absolutely inaccurate. And quite frankly, I think anybody that says that – if you look, I’ve got two corner outfielders who’ve got one year left (before free agency), and I’ve got one potential corner outfielder (Gattis) that’s got four years left (under contractual control).”Despite this statement it seems almost certain that the Braves will deal one of their corner outfielders before the season. I am sure they would prefer to trade B.J. Upton, but that is extremely unlikely to happen. That means either Jason Heyward or Justin Upton, if not both, will be traded for some combination of prospects and pitchers they can control for several years.the Braves should be able to get whatever they need. There are so few quality and experienced bats available in trade, they should have multiple options.
But then there is this:
“Everybody mentions the two outfielders (as trade targets), but there’s other pieces on this club that we might consider (trading),” John Hart said. “There’s some bullpen pieces below Kimbrel. We’ve got some pieces that people like, it’s just a matter of trying to the right guys back where you’re going to say, this will allow us to win, or at least allow us to compete. That’s where we are this early in the winter. And I think it’d be a shame on us if we didn’t go out and explore that avenue first. Go out and see if we can make a deal to get pieces that we like.That will, even though we’ve got to subtract something, will still give the club a chance to compete.”GM John Hart on the Gattis Rumors
The Braves GM of the Future
The Yankees are Making Moves
Pending a physical, the Yankees have agreed to a one-year, $2.5MM deal with free agent outfielder Chris Young. It sounds like the yanks will also attempt to re-sign their closer, David Robertson. but Cashman's recent comments also make it sound as if negotiations will either progress quickly or the Yankees will move on and accept the draft pick as compensation.
Brian Cashman on the 2015 Closer
Cashman on the Justin Wilson Acquisition
Chris Young Re-Signed
The Yankees Outfield
More A-Rod Crap
Other Links of Potential Interest to Fantasy Owners
The Royals are interested in acquiring 1B Ryan Howard
More on the Dodgers new methodology.
Pablo Sandoval is a hot commodity
The Angels have targeted Max Scherzer
The Cardinals have money to spend
Baseball America on Cuban Shortstop Roberto Baldoquin
Rays Montreal Rumors