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Random Thoughts - 2016/7 Hot Stove Season


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#1 Drucifer


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Posted 04 November 2016 - 01:45 PM

Early storylines to follow: Cespedes and Sale on the move?

:espn: by TIM KURKJIAN

One of the great misnomers in baseball is the offseason, because there is no offseason. Baseball has become a 12-month sport, the late fall and winter being a time for trades, free agent signings, GM meetings, winter meetings, arbitration, labor negotiations, hirings and firings.

Here are 10 storylines to watch for this offseason.
10. The award winners

Some choices will be easy. Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager is likely going to be the unanimous choice for the National League Rookie of the Year, but the voting for many awards will be close, if not contentious, most notably the American League MVP.

By most statistical measures, especially the advanced metrics, Mike Trout was the AL's best player this year, but he played for an Angels team that won 74 games and never contended. Only five times has a player won an MVP for a sub-.500 team, but this could be the sixth time. There are other quality candidates who played for playoff teams or contenders, including Boston's Mookie Betts and David Ortiz, Toronto's Josh Donaldson, Houston's Jose Altuve and Baltimore's Manny Machado. But it appears there has been a slight shift in the thinking of the voters, a subtle move toward voting for the best player as opposed to the best player on a contender. So Trout has a chance to win his second MVP award to go with his three second-place finishes. He is 25 years old.

9. Hall of Fame

Three players with first-ballot credentials will be up for voting for the first time this year: Manny Ramirez, Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez and Vladimir Guerrero. The first two have varying connections to PEDs. Ramirez served two suspensions for violations of baseball's drug policy (2009 and 2011). Rodriguez was never suspended or caught taking anything, but he was mentioned in Jose Canseco's book "Juiced."

Ramirez's is likely in the category with Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, who are at 44.3 percent and 45.2 percent of the vote, respectively, after four years on the ballot, and might not ever get enough support to in. Pudge would seem to have a better chance of eventually getting in even if he doesn't make it this year.

Jeff Bagwell (71.6 percent last year), Tim Raines (69.8) and Trevor Hoffman (67.3) have the best shot at election. It's Raines' 10th and final year on the ballot. The voting will take place in December, and will be announced in January. At the winter meetings in December, a special committee will consider another list of names from Today's Game Era (1988-present), which includes players that were previously on the ballot for the Baseball Writers Association of America (Mark McGwire, Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Orel Hershiser, Will Clark, among others), as well as managers (Davey Johnson and Lou Piniella) and executives (George Steinbrenner and John Schuerholz). Someone, maybe more than one, is going to the Hall of Fame from this group.

8. Managers

Two teams, the Diamondbacks and Rockies, are looking for a manager. The Rockies have talked to, among others, Brad Mills and Glenallen Hill. The Diamondbacks have considered Phil Nevin, Alex Cora and Don Wakamatsu, but appear to be zeroing in on Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo, who did a nice job filling in for ailing John Farrell with the Red Sox for the final 58 games (28-20) of the 2015 season. Lovullo is 51 and an old-school guy in many respects. He's the best sign-stealer in the major leagues, but he also embraces the new analytics age in the game. In the previous two years under Tony LaRussa and Dave Stewart, the D-backs attempted to run their team in a pure baseball fashion, without much help from advanced metrics. But that way didn't work. Their failure is another sign that teams are being run more differently than ever. Teams are now run by young, exceptionally bright GMs who sometimes value data over the eyes, ears and feel of veteran baseball men. Consequently, the D-backs hired Mike Hazen of the Red Sox to run their team, and chances are he'll hire Lovullo to manage it.

7. Speed-up rules

There is nothing wrong with the game. The game on the field is still great, but executives, led by commissioner Rob Manfred, are determined to speed things up, especially after the average time of game went from 2 hours, 56 minutes in 2015 to 3:01. Don't look for a rule that limits the number of relievers a manager can use in a game, but look for changes, including limiting trips to the mound by a catcher or an infielder or maybe even the pitching coach. In the postseason, Cubs catcher Willson Contreras went to the mound far too often, making the game drag. The intentional walk rule might be altered; the manager would just put up four fingers, and the batter would be sent to first base without four pitches being thrown. And baseball will continue to try to keep hitters in the batter's box between pitches, and make pitchers deliver the ball in a timelier manner.

The game likely won't adopt a strict pitch clock in 2017, but after watching Dodgers reliever Pedro Baez (he's not the only one) take 30-35 seconds between pitches, bringing the game to a grinding halt, something has to be done. Here are the times of game for the seven games in the 1948 World Series, the last time the Indians were champions: 1:42, 2:14, 1:36, 1:31, 2:39 and 2:16. What a difference.

6. Trades

Today's young, relentless, creative GMs find a way to make trades, which is why an offseason that's not strong on free agents could include a bunch of deals. It might all begin with the White Sox, who have had little to no success in the past couple of years after making a number of moves. Will they take the next step and trade left-hander Jose Quintana or ace Chris Sale? Dealing Sale, who is a terrific pitcher with a team-friendly contract, doesn't make sense in a lot of ways, but maybe now is the time for the White Sox to explore what they can get for him. Some teams, including the Red Sox, have a surplus of young players and might be able to swing a deal for Sale, who potentially could turn a noncontender into a contender, and a contender into a champion. Quintana won't bring what Sale could bring, but he has value.

The Rays have marketable pitching to deal, led by Jake Odorizzi, and they have to upgrade their offense. It will be interesting to see if the Dodgers try again to move outfielder Yasiel Puig. He made strides toward becoming a better player and, more importantly, a better teammate after a summer demotion to Triple-A. Will the Reds dangle first baseman Joey Votto, who hit .408 with a 1.158 OPS the second half of the season? If they do, several teams (Toronto? Votto is Canadian) could have interest. But the cost of that contract might be prohibitive. Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen will come up in trade rumors, as they often do this time of year, but don't look for either to be traded.

5. The Toronto Blue Jays

They have made it to the American League Championship Series each of the past two years but lost to the Royals, then the Indians. The Jays have a tremendous amount of money with which to deal, but there is a question about how much they are willing to spend on their own potential free agents, notably outfielders Jose Bautista and Michael Saunders and first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnacion.

The Jays are being run by club president Mark Shapiro, who comes from small-market roots in Cleveland and has not shown a tendency to spend an enormous amount on everyday players in their 30s -- Bautista is 36, Encarnacion is 33. Bautista is looking for a big payday, and Encarnacion, who hit 42 homers and drove in 127 runs last year, is likely going to get a big payday, maybe from the Red Sox, who need a DH to replace David Ortiz. It's possible that the Jays will lose him and Bautista to free agency and try to build around their young starting pitching, led by Aaron Sanchez.

4. Free-agent hitters

Encarnacion, Bautista and Saunders are part of a group of free-agent hitters that lacks young, all-round everyday players but still includes some useful options. Outfielder/DH Mark Trumbo led the major leagues in home runs in 2016. One of his teammates with the Orioles, catcher Matt Wieters, is out there. Another catcher, the Nationals' Wilson Ramos, is available, but his value might be diminished somewhat by a knee injury that could force him to miss the beginning of the 2017 season. There are other hitters available, from outfielders Josh Reddick, Dexter Fowler, Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday to first basemen Mike Napoli and Mitch Moreland to third baseman Justin Turner.

Ian Desmond, who resurrected his career with the Rangers in 2016, has established himself as a major league outfielder, but it's still possible that someone could sign him to play his original position, shortstop. The Rangers will make Desmond a qualifying offer ($17.2 million this year), so he could end up back in Texas.


The best all-round player on the free agent market might be outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who is expected to opt out of his deal with the Mets before Saturday to become a free agent again. The Mets would like to have him back, but there will be competition from several other teams.

3. Free-agent starting pitchers

It is a weak group, as weak as any year we can remember. Left-hander Rich Hill, age 36, is probably the best of the bunch (look for the Yankees to be involved for Hill). He has had injury issues the past two years, but starting Sept. 1, 2015, only Clayton Kershaw has a lower ERA than Hill. His curveball, with all its variations, is difficult to hit.

After him, there's Andrew Cashner, Ivan Nova, Jeremy Hellickson, R.A. Dickey and a few others, but this free agent group is one reason that teams will try to improve their rotations through trades rather than signings.

2. Closers

This is the strength of the free-agent market. It is led by Aroldis Chapman, who throws 103 mph, is 28 years old and has a strikeout rate unmatched in major league history for anyone with 350 innings. Chapman was suspended 30 games at the beginning of the 2016 season under Major League Baseball's domestic violence policy and there could be some teams not interested because of that. Kenley Jansen might have more value than Chapman because of the way he pitched in the postseason, going more than one inning, entering in the seventh inning, showing flexibility and durability.

The way Jansen (and more importantly, Andrew Miller) was used in October will not change the way teams use their closers in the regular season, not with 162 games and so few off days. But Jansen (and Miller) might make teams a little less rigid about how they use their closer. There are other closers out there in free agency, including Mark Melancon. Even teams with a top-shelf closer, such as the Red Sox, might try to add another late-inning guy to simulate what the Indians had with Miller and closer Cody Allen.

The Giants are one team that badly needs a closer (30 blown saves in 2016).

1. Labor

The collective bargaining agreement expires Dec. 1. Twenty years ago, that would mean potentially really bad news, and perhaps a lockout or a strike. But the two sides -- the owners and the Major League Baseball Players Association -- are so much less contentious than they were in the early 1980s and the mid-'90s when the game nearly imploded. And Manfred overseeing the process after being so closely involved in the past bodes well for a resolution without a work stoppage. Still, there are significant, complicated issues to study and discuss, led by strengthening the polices on domestic violence, performance-enhancing drugs, tobacco, etc. In the past year, many players, including stars such as Justin Verlander, have asked for stronger testing and punishment for PEDs.

Some other issues likely to come up:

  • Then there is the issue of the schedule being shortened from 162 to 154 games. That still remains unlikely because fewer games would mean less money for the owners.
  • There will be a huge discussion on roster size -- should teams be able to have 35-40 players active in September, or will teams be able to activate only 30 players each night?
  • The union is expected to fight to abolish the qualifying offer, which acts, in a way, like the franchise tag in football. It can limit the movement of players due to the attachment of a draft choice, and it can delay the signing of a player deep into January.
  • There could be major changes with the international draft, with a soft slotting system that simply didn't work over the past few years. An international draft is possible, but more likely there will be a more stringent slotting system with penalties that could cost teams players, roster spots or draft picks.
  • There will be the usual debates on the minimum salary (currently $507,500) and the luxury tax ($189 million) as well as the future of the DH. It is ridiculous that the game has two sets of rules. Executives, players and managers from the National League mostly believe that the game is better without the DH, but the union isn't going to allow for the dumping of the DH because it often is a high-paying job. So, the status quo likely will remain.


#2 Drucifer


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Posted 06 November 2016 - 03:14 PM

#3 Drucifer


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Posted 09 November 2016 - 06:17 PM

Top 20 MLB free agent projections: Why Yoenis Cespedes will stay with Mets
and Aroldis Chapman won’t be a Yankee again

:nydailynews: by JOHN HARPER
Free agency is open for business, which, unlike other sports, means endless rumors and speculation for weeks, even months, at least until the Winter Meetings and beyond.

Remember, Yoenis Cespedes didn’t re-sign with the Mets last winter until late January, and though Sandy Alderson can’t wait that long this time, as he needs to know whether to trade Jay Bruce or not, there will be notable names available that late again, as teams try to wait for prices to come down on players.

This year, in particular, a lot of teams could be bargain hunting in a market thin on starting pitching and superstars, but filled with solid players that can help clubs but aren’t considered difference-makers.

Here are my projections for the top 20 free agents, with emphasis on those with current or potential ties to the Mets and Yankees.

1. Yoenis Cespedes: Mets, 4 years, $106 million

Sandy Alderson has come a long way in a year on his willingness to commit long term to Cespedes; let’s face it, the Cuban star fell in his lap last year. He knows that won’t happen again but he’ll still try to limit the term to four rather than five years, even if it means paying more per year.

Why the change? The Mets are still a bit nervous about the effects of such a deal — without an opt-out, this time — on Cespedes’ day-to-day effort, but they saw him work to improve his plate discipline, saw him deliver in the clutch in the wild-card race, and believe he thrives on the New York stage.

No less important, they believe his right-handed power is more essential to make them a championship-caliber team than a year ago, now that David Wright is further compromised by injury, Travis d’Arnaud regressed dramatically at the plate last year, and Michael Conforto has yet to prove he can hit lefthanded pitching at the major-league level.

But how much is too much? Alderson probably has a limit to where he’ll go, and that surely will be influenced by where the Wilpons stand regarding a payroll ceiling these days.

In the end, I think their sense that it’s their time to win a championship will force them to swallow hard and get a deal done.

2. Aroldis Chapman: Dodgers, 5 years, $92.5 million

Yes, the Yankees want Chapman back, and the Dodgers have their own elite closer in Kenley Jansen, yet a lot of baseball people are convinced the LA front office is prepared to go all-out for the Cuban lefty.

Maybe it’s personal: the Dodgers probably regret backing out of their agreed-upon trade with the Reds over Chapman’s domestic-violence incident, and feel the Yankees took advantage of the situation. Thus they’ll overpay, especially in going to five years, to make sure they get their man this time, while Hal Steinbrenner has put limits on what Brian Cashman can spend.

The Cubs, of course, are a wild-card here, but there’s a sense that, having won their championship, Theo Epstein will see this type of commitment for a closer as counter-productive to long-term success.

Indeed, it’s a huge price to pay for a pitcher who’ll throw a total of perhaps 70 innings during the season, unthinkable even a year ago. But the importance of relievers in this post-season has raised the salary bar dramatically, at least for the dominance Chapman can provide.


3. Kenley Jansen, Yankees, 4 years, $72 million

As much as the Yanks would like Chapman back, I think they’ll draw the line on going to five years for him. And they can probably get Jansen, whose Mariano Rivera-like cutter makes him nearly as dominant as Chapman, on a four-year deal.

He’ll cost the Yankees a draft pick, since the Dodgers made him a qualifying offer, but after they re-stocked their farm system with all those trades last summer, they can afford it to load up at the back end of the bullpen again.


4. Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays, 4 years, $96 million

I think the Jays dig deep to keep one of their two free-agent sluggers, and Encarnacion gets the nod largely because, at age 33, he’s three years younger than Jose Bautista.

It’s possible the Red Sox blow them out of the water if they see Encarnacion as the perfect replacement for David Ortiz at DH, but Hanley Ramirez fits that role as well, and the Sox have plenty of offense.


5. Justin Turner, Dodgers, 4 years, $72 million

Amazing to think the Mets non-tendered Turner a few years ago, at least in part because they thought he was a bad off-the-field influence on Ike Davis.

He was always a good situational hitter, though certainly nobody saw him blossoming into such a star, and it’s hard to see the Dodgers letting him leave over money.


6. Dexter Fowler, Astros, 4 years, $62 million

If the Mets are outbid on Cespedes, Fowler makes more sense for them than Bautista. He’s a legit center fielder who as a switch-hitter hit well against left-handed pitching.

Otherwise, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow has already been very public in saying he’ll be aggressive in adding talent this winter, believing the ‘Stros are ready to win a championship. Fowler would be a nice addition to an already-strong lineup.


7. Jose Bautista, Giants, 2 years, $44 million

I don’t think Bautista, at age 36, will find the long-term deal he’s seeking, which will lead to the Giants paying big on a two-year deal to add some much-needed thunder to their lineup. He or Hunter Pence would have to move to left field to make it work.

The real intrigue here is the outside chance the Yankees would make a play for him. If they trade Brian McCann and Bautista is forced to settle for a short-term deal, would they pay him to add offense as their DH, still allowing Aaron Judge — or eventually Clint Frazier — to play right field?


8. Ivan Nova, Marlins, 4 years, $60 million

Was his resurgence in Pittsburgh a mirage? As dominant as Nova could be at times for the Yankees, they became frustrated over the years with his inconsistency, but he improved his command dramatically after they traded him to the Pirates, and pitched to a 3.09 ERA over 11 starts.

As such he’s hitting the free agency at the perfect time, in a market extremely thin on starting pitching, with interest from multiple teams driving up his price.


9. Neil Walker, Angels, 3 years, $40 million

If the Mets re-sign Cespedes, I don’t think they’ll commit to a long-term deal with Walker, especially with depth at that position in Wilmer Flores, T.J. Rivera and even Jose Reyes. Maybe he takes their qualifying offer — one year at $17.2 million coming off back surgery has to be pretty appealing.

But at age 31, an offer like this from the Angels, a team he’d fit with nicely, probably would be hard to turn down.


10. Mark Melancon, Giants, 3 years, $48 million

Riding the wave created by Chapman and Jansen, Melancon also makes more per year than any reliever ever, and solves the Giants’ desperate need for a reliever.


If the Yankees don’t get either Chapman or Jansen, they could bring back Melancon, whom they drafted in 2006 but traded in 2010 for Lance Berkman.

The Next 10

  • Mark Trumbo, Orioles, 4 years, $60 million. Best sides realize it’s the best place for his HR bat.
  • Rich Hill, Astros, 3 years, $45 million. They’ll overpay for pitching in this market.
  • Mike Napoli, Indians, 2 years, $28 million. Where would the party be in Cleveland if he leaves?
  • Wilson Ramos, Orioles, 3 years, $42 million. He replaces Wieters if O’s are convinced he’ll recover from ACL surgery.
  • Carlos Beltran, Red Sox, 1 year, $15 million. Perfect place for him as he tries to get a ring.
  • R.A. Dickey, Marlins, 1 year, $12 million. He’s got another couple of years left.
  • Bartolo Colon, Mets, 1 year, $10 million. Mets won’t be able to resist as insurance.
  • Matt Wieters, Astros, 3 years, $39 million. ‘Stros making multiple splashes.
  • Jason Hammel, Rangers, 3 years, $42 million. They’ll overpay for pitching depth.
  • Ian Desmond, Nationals, 3 years, $36 million. Back to D.C. as they move Trea Turner to SS.


#4 brian stark

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Posted 11 November 2016 - 11:26 AM

Already wrong on RA and Big Sexy...

#5 Drucifer


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Posted 12 November 2016 - 11:19 AM

Already wrong on RA and Big Sexy...


Lets hope he's not wrong on Yo.

#6 Drucifer


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Posted 12 November 2016 - 11:31 AM

Educated Guesses for Top 20 Free Agents


:mlbcom: by JIM DUQUETTE


The Hot Stove season is getting warmer by the day, and the industry's attention has turned to the top free agents. Below is my ranking of the top 20 players, with an estimated prediction (based on comparable past signings and team needs) of the contract terms and signing club (ages listed are 2017 season age, which means as of July 1, 2017):


1. Yoenis Cespedes, 31, OF

Cespedes is the best outfield bat on the market, though he should probably be limited to left. He might wear out his welcome on a struggling team, so buyer beware. That said, I think Cespedes will get a five-year deal in the $125 million range.

Interested teams: Mets, Giants, Yankees, Cardinals
Duquette's prediction: Mets


2. Edwin Encarnacion, 34, 1B/DH

Encarnacion is one of the game's elite middle-of-the-order bats, and he can hit good pitching. He is also more than adequate at first base, which means he isn't limited to designated hitter. Encarnacion will likely get a deal similar to Cespedes' in terms of years and total value.

Interested teams: Blue Jays, Red Sox, Yankees, Astros
Duquette's prediction: Red Sox


3. Justin Turner, 32, 3B

It's hard to find power-hitting right-handed bats who also play average defense at third, and Turner is the only free agent available who fits those criteria. He'll likely get a four-year deal at more than $15 million per season, which was unthinkable when he signed a Minor League deal with the Dodgers three years ago.

Interested teams: Braves, Dodgers, Giants, Padres
Duquette's prediction: Dodgers


4. Kenley Jansen, 29, RHP

Over the past three years, no reliever has been more consistent than Jansen, and his ability to pitch multiple innings in the postseason increased his value to most teams looking for a closer. He will likely set a record for biggest contract given to a closer, with Jonathan Papelbon's four-year, $50 million deal from 2011 currently the standard bearer.

Interested teams: Nationals, Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, Giants
Duquette's prediction: Cubs


5. Aroldis Chapman, 29, LHP

No one throws harder than Chapman, which has been helped by the fact that his workload has been closely monitored. However, this postseason he showed he can go multiple innings when needed. Chapman will challenge Jansen for biggest contract for a closer, and he might get it. Because unlike Jansen, he was traded this season and was ineligible to get a qualifying offer.

Interested teams: Cubs, Giants, Dodgers, Yankees, Nationals
Duquette's prediction: Nationals


6. Ian Desmond, 31, SS/OF

Desmond's versatility and willingness to play infield or outfield should help him sign a contract similar to Ben Zobrist's a year ago (four years, $50 million), though the qualifying offer could drag down his market for the second straight offseason.

Interested teams: Indians, Astros, Rangers, Braves, Orioles
Duquette's prediction: Astros


7. Mark Trumbo, 31, 1B/OF/DH

Timing is everything, and Trumbo will cash in after leading the league in home runs. Look for him to get Nelson Cruz-type money (four years, $57 million) with an American League club that can use him at DH. Like Trumbo, Cruz also used a one-year deal in Baltimore as a springboard to a career payday.

Interested teams: Blue Jays, Orioles, Yankees, Braves
Duquette's prediction: Orioles


8. Dexter Fowler, 31, CF

Fowler's market was hindered by a qualifying offer last year and he signed a deal with the Cubs that allowed him to opt out this offseason. After posting a career-high .393 OBP, he'll get the multiyear deal he seeks (perhaps $60 million over four years) despite having another qualifying offer.

Interested teams: Cubs, Cardinals, Rangers, White Sox, Braves
Duquette's prediction: Rangers


9. Mike Napoli, 35, 1B/DH

Napoli's 30-homer power, postseason experience and lack of a qualifying offer will help him get a three-year deal at roughly $15 million per season. The fact that he plays a decent first base also helps.

Interested teams: Blue Jays, Indians, Twins, Mariners
Duquette' prediction: Indians


10. Mark Melancon, 31, RHP

Melancon might be the most underrated of the closers over the past three seasons, having ranked fourth in WAR for relievers in that time. His midseason trade from Pittsburgh to Washington also means he couldn't get a qualifying offer and he should get a four-year deal in the $50 million range.

Interested teams: Dodgers, Nationals, Giants, D-backs
Duquette's prediction: D-backs


11. Josh Reddick, 30, OF

Reddick will have plenty of teams knocking on his door, because he has no qualifying offer attached to him after being traded to the Dodgers in July and because he is productive when healthy. He'll get four years at more than $12 million per season.

Interested teams: Braves,Twins, Indians, Cardinals
Duquette's prediction: Cardinals


12. Rich Hill, 37, LHP

No pitcher has increased his value more than Hill over the past year. His 2.12 ERA was second only to Clayton Kershaw among pitchers who threw at least 100 innings. Look for Hill to get a two-year deal at more than $30 million in total.

Interested teams: Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs
Duquette's prediction: Red Sox


13. Wilson Ramos, 29, C

There is a lot of uncertainty around Ramos now because of a late-season ACL injury that will likely leave him out for the first month or two of next season. Still, he put up career numbers in almost every offensive category in 2016 and doesn't have a qualifying offer. Given the lack catching on the market, Ramos could get up to $60 million over four years.

Interested teams: Nationals, Braves, Angels
Duquette's prediction: Braves


14. Jose Bautista, 36, RF

Bautista has been one of the most productive hitters in MLB over the past few years, but left toe and knee troubles limited him to 116 games and just 22 homers in 2016. His resume will create plenty of interest, but his age and injuries will likely limit him to a short-term deal, likely $35 million or so over two years.

Interested teams: Royals, Rangers, Rays, A's, Mets
Prediction: Royals


15. Matt Wieters, 31, C

It's hard to find a switch-hitting catcher with 20-homer power and multiple Gold Gloves on his resume, which is why Wieters -- who doesn't have a qualifying offer -- could get something in the range of $15 million per year over four years despite his underwhelming .243/.302/.409 line in 2016.

Interested teams: Braves, Nationals, Angels, Astros
Duquette's prediction: Astros


16. Neil Walker, 31, 2B

An unfortunate back injury and subsequent surgery cut Walker's season short, as the switch-hitter was well on his way to a career offensive season. That said, the Mets gave him a qualifying offer, which suggests they feel good about his prognosis. Martin Prado's recent three-year, $40 million deal with Miami is a good benchmark.

Interested teams: Mets, White Sox, Angels
Duquette's prediction: Mets


17. Jeremy Hellickson, 30, RHP

Hellickson had a rebound year in Philly, reminiscent of his rookie season with Tampa Bay, as the National League seemed most suitable for him. That said, given his inconsistent path, he's a good bet to accept the qualifying offer.

Interested teams: Phillies, Royals, Braves, Twins, Angels
Prediction: Phillies (accepts qualifying offer)


18. Michael Saunders, 30, OF

Saunders' season went downhill after making the All-Star team, posting a .638 OPS in the second half after putting up a .923 mark in the first. That drop-off -- coupled with an extensive injury history -- is why he didn't get a qualifying offer from Toronto, but a two-year deal in the $25 million range is still a possibility for him on the open market.

Interested teams: Royals, Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles
Duquette's prediction: Orioles


19. Ivan Nova, 30, RHP

Nova looked like a new man after a midseason trade to the Pirates, posting a 3.06 ERA with 52 strikeouts and just three walks in 64 2/3 innings. He'll get at least a two-year deal with an average annual value of $12 million or more.

Interested teams: Pirates, Blue Jays, Royals, Angels
Duquette's prediction: Pirates


20. Doug Fister, 33, RHP

While in Houston, Fister had a tale of two seasons. His first half was dominant with a 3.55 ERA, and his second half was rough, with an ERA over 6.00. Fister can still be a solid No. 4 starter for a lot of clubs, and he should get a similar deal to Nova, with a slightly lower AAV.

Interested teams: Phillies, Braves, Pirates, Royals, Angels, Marlins
Duquette's prediction: Marlins


Jim Duquette, who was the Mets' GM in 2004, offers his opinions as a studio analyst and columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.



#7 Drucifer


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Posted 17 November 2016 - 08:45 PM

#8 brian stark

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Posted 18 November 2016 - 10:51 AM

Astros also signed Reddick, solid moves for them. They have a young core and now some veteran leaders to go with it.


They might be a force to deal with in the AL.

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Posted 18 November 2016 - 06:48 PM

Astros also signed Reddick, solid moves for them. They have a young core and now some veteran leaders to go with it.


They might be a force to deal with in the AL.


they are in the AL West...it doesn't take a very good team to win that division...

#10 brian stark

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Posted 19 November 2016 - 08:22 AM

Exactly, with that division, they could pile up wins and get homefield.


Making them a force.


Not that they will, but they sure made two interesting moves.

#11 jeffmetsfan


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Posted 19 November 2016 - 11:34 AM

It's pretty clear that Astros are the favorites in that division. Isn't it amazing that the worst teams in baseball just 3 years ago in their respective leagues are now arguably the best (Cubs and Astros).

#12 Saxon



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Posted 19 November 2016 - 11:52 AM

It's pretty clear that Astros are the favorites in that division. Isn't it amazing that the worst teams in baseball just 3 years ago in their respective leagues are now arguably the best (Cubs and Astros).


that is the way that it's supposed to work...play bad, get good draft picks, make intelligent choices, and then thrive...

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#13 Saxon



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Posted 02 December 2016 - 08:05 PM

Not sure where to put this since the Mets Random Thoughts thread was closed...



Rating Mets hitters by exit velocity and batted ball angles: end of season edition



Batted ball exit velocities and angles are not everything, but as we examined back in May, there is value in looking at them. For a thorough recap of why, click on the link above. We also broke down categories of good contact using exit velocity and angle in an effort to create a Statcast derived good contact peripheral statistic. Here is a recap of those categories, with some tweaks:

  • Exit velocities of 95+ mph hit between a 0 and 10-degree launch angle (hard ground balls/low line drives)
  • Launch angles between 10 degree and 20 degrees with an exit velocity under 100 mph, but no less than 75 mph (soft line drives)
  • Launch angles between 10 and 20 degrees with an exit velocity of 100+ mph (hard line drives)
  • Exit velocities of 100+ mph hit between a 20 degree and 40-degree launch angle (hard fly balls)
  • Exit velocities of 95-100 mph hit between a 20 degree and 40-degree launch angle with a horizontal angle within 20 degrees of the lines (well-struck fly balls to LF or RF)

Hard ground balls/low line drives: The league has hit .630 with a 1.300 OPS on batted balls that left the bat with exit velocities of 95+ mph and a launch angle between 0 and 10 degrees since Statcast was introduced. A lot of singles fall into this category. The breakdown for batted balls hit in this range is 55% singles, 7% doubles, 1% triples and 0% home runs.

Example: Yoenis Cespedes singles with an exit velocity of 102 mph and a launch angle of 0.5 degrees.


Soft line drives: The league hit .700 with a 1.600 OPS on batted balls that were vertically launched between 10 and 20 degrees with an exit velocity between 75 mph and 100 mph. Even softly hit balls go for hits here; the league hit .775 on batted balls that left the bat at 75-79 mph between 10 and 20-degree launch angles. The breakdown is 55% singles, 14% doubles, and 1% triples.


Example: Asdrubal Cabrera singles on a line drive that leaves the bat at 90 mph with a launch angle of 14 degrees.


Hard line drives: The league hit .730 with a 2.000 OPS here on batted balls with exit velocities of 100+ mph launched vertically between 10-20 degrees. Once line drives cross past 100 mph in exit velocity, they become more likely to carry enough speed to split the gaps and go for extra bases or go over the wall for a home run. The extra-base hit rate on hard line drives jumps to 43%, up from 15% on soft line drives. The breakdown is 30% singles, 36% doubles, 3% triples, and 4% home runs.

Example: Yoenis Cespedes doubles on a line drive that leaves the bat at 107 mph with a launch angle of 13 degrees.


Hard fly balls: Batted balls that left the bat at 100+ mph with a launch angle between 20 and 40 degrees have a batting average of .800 with a 3.600 OPS. Tons of extra-base hits come here. The breakdown here is 1% singles, 15% doubles, 3% triples, and 61% home runs. This is the highest value contact range.


Example: David Wright homers on a fly ball with an exit velocity of 103 mph and a launch angle of 32 degrees.


Well-hit fly balls to LF or RF: Horizontal angle can be important, too. The league has hit .550 with a 2.500 OPS on batted balls hit 95-100 mph with a launch angle of 20-40 degrees and a horizontal angle within 20 degrees of the left field line. It comes with a 37% home run rate. The league hit .400 with a 1.600 OPS and a 22% home run rate under these conditions to right field. The horizontal angle is important for fly balls under 100 mph because a ball that leaves the bat at 98 mph with a 35-degree launch angle to CF is usually a fly out, but if it's hit to LF or RF, it has a decent chance to go for a home run.


Example: Michael Conforto homers on a fly ball with an exit velocity of 98 mph and a launch angle of 27 degrees, and it’s within 20 degrees of the right field line.


Here is a breakdown of each individual category and the number of batted balls Mets hitters recorded in each one. Keep in mind that the highest value category is category 3, hard-hit fly balls. The table is sorted in descending order from most amount of hard fly balls to lowest amount.


As a team, the Mets recorded one of those types of batted balls in 20.9% of their at bats, slightly above the major league average of 20.4%. They ranked 20th in hard ground balls, 7th in soft line drives, 24th in hard line drives, 17th in hard fly balls, and 3rd in well-hit balls to LF and RF. Mets hitters were shifted on during 28% of their at bats, the fifth highest amount in baseball, which probably explains some of the disparity between their above average good contact and below average team batting average (.246). They were also a below average team in hard contact, ranking 20th, with a lot of their good contact coming at exit velocities under 100 mph.


Yoenis Cespedes unsurprisingly led the way in the best type of contact among Mets hitters. Cespedes led Mets hitters in hard grounders, line drives and hard fly balls despite missing time on the DL and playing the entire second half compromised with a nagging quad injury.


Neil Walker went on a rampage after the All-Star break, with a 169 wRC+ over his final 133 PA, before getting shut down with a back injury. Walker’s post-ASB production was supported by an increase in hitting the ball well, with 31% of his at-bats ending with good contact after the ASB. It’s not clear whether that post-break jump in production can be attributed to improvements in skill working with Kevin Long or if it was just some randomness, as Walker also had a huge April with a similar good-contact rate before slumping. His back surgery makes his 2017 less certain, but the procedure apparently has a high success rate.


Asdrubal Cabrera, like Walker, had a late season surge, starting once he came off the disabled list on August 19. Before his DL trip, Cabrera was below average in generating good contact, but after he came back, he did it in a strong 26% of his at bats. It came with a massive increase in production, with his wRC+ jumping from 94 pre-DL to an incredible 179 post-DL. He also cut his swings and misses down significantly after coming back.


I very loosely estimate that Curtis Granderson lost about 10 hits on good contact into the shift, which would have put his BA in the .250s rather than .230s if shifting didn’t exist. Despite only hitting .237, Granderson had an above average 114 wRC+ on the back of a 12% walk rate and strong power hitting. He had a solid year for the Mets.


Most of James Loney’s good contact was of the lower value ground ball and soft line drive type. Loney only had 7 hard-hit fly balls in 343 at bats, 2 less than Lucas Duda had in just 153 at bats. Combine Loney’s lack of power into the fact that he doesn’t walk very often and plays below average defense, Loney is a poor major league first baseman at this point in his career despite the above average batting average. A healthy Lucas Duda would be a massive upgrade in 2017.


David Wright had an alarming spike in strikeouts and a huge drop in batting average, but he was still a productive player on the back of a 16% walk rate and above average power. Wright was 11% more productive than the league average third baseman by wRC+ in 2016 despite the .226 BA.


Michael Conforto and Travis d’Arnaud both finished as below-average hitters. d’Arnaud buried a lot of his batted balls into the ground and didn’t seem to have the same electric bat speed this year. Conforto had a wrist injury go public around June which was probably a contributor to his production dive, although his approach and pitch selection badly regressed around May.


Kelly Johnson worked to improve his swing mechanics with Kevin Long and produced a solid 112 wRC+ with the Mets, with his production backed by Statcast. Johnson ended 24.6% of his at bats with good contact, the third-best rate on the team. The Mets should strongly consider bringing Johnson back in a reserve role to boost their major league depth.


Note: there is an interesting chart in the article that breaks down each players batted balls by category, but haven't figured out how to get the chart into the post

#14 brian stark

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Posted 04 December 2016 - 06:36 PM

Harper was closer to right than Duquette on Ces.

#15 Saxon



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Posted 04 December 2016 - 07:22 PM

just noticed that I never made the point with the article about hard hit balls...the article implied that hard hit balls are to the batters advantage, even hard hit grounders...


however, I believe that is actually the opposite for hard hit grounders by power hitting lefties such as Grandy, Duda, Bruce etc...all they are doing is hitting the ball quickly into the shift and because they are lefty it's a short/quick throw to 1st...

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