Hello, everyone ... we'll get into the debate on the best rotation in baseball in a moment (and we'll discuss other things as well), but I want to start with the following issue ...
Hunter Pence for Dom Brown and Jared Cosart... definitely wouldn't pull the trigger on that one yet from a Phillies' perspective. The big question is, what do you think Dom Brown will become? Will he be Darryl Strawberry or Von Hayes? I think it's too steep a price to pay.
I got ripped on Twitter by a lot of Phillies fans for this trade suggestion. Let's begin with this list of all outfielders ranked in the TOP SIX of all prospects by Baseball America since 2000 (Domonic Brown was fourth this year): Brown, Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Jason Heyward, Mike Stanton, Desmond Jennings (looking good so far), Cameron Maybin, Colby Rasmus, Jay Bruce, Travis Snider, Delmon Young, Jeremy Hermida, Alex Rios, Rocco Baldelli, Corey Patterson, Vernon Wells, Ruben Mateo.
That's 17 players. We'll leave out Brown, Harper, Trout and Jennings for now. Of the other 13, four were flops: Hermida, Baldelli, Patterson and Mateo. (Baldelli had extenuating circumstances, but he wasn't going to be a star anyway). One isn't very good: Young. Two have yet to prove themselves: Maybin and Snider. Heyward and Stanton look like superstars, maybe Rasmus as well. Wells and Rios had above-average careers, but weren't any better than Hunter Pence is now.
Also, in comparing Brown to Heyward and Stanton: He's THREE years older than they were last year as rookies. He's unlikely to be as good as those guys. So, yes, I think he's more Von Hayes than Darryl Strawberry. Prospects are RISKY, no matter how high you evaluate them. All those guys on the list were projected as superstars. Few get there. And considering the age of this Phillies team -- Polanco, Howard, Rollins and Victorino aren't getting better, they have to win NOW. That's why I suggested that deal. (And Cosart is in Class A. Maybe he'll be good in three years. Good luck betting on a Class A pitching prospect.)
If you're the Phillies, and you are watching your stars age in front of your eyes, why would you trade two prospects you can dream about for a guy who is basically a Shane Victorino clone? You need to field some sort of team in 2013 and 2014...
That's the dilemma the Phillies are facing ... I don't actually think they'll trade Brown or Cosart. But it's fun to speculate about whether the Phillies will think about upgrading their lineup. Obviously, with this rotation they can win now if the pitching gets hot in October like with the Giants (no matter who is playing right field).
Why would the Phillies give up more for Hunter Pence then they did for Roy Halladay?
Halladay only had one year left before free agency. Pence had three. Big difference in value. (They had to sign Halladay to an extension.)
Could you see Jose Reyes as a Brewer? Perhaps not this year, but using Prince Fielder money in 2012? Already have a 1B in AAA in Mat Gamel and need to upgrade SS from Betancourt
I think the Brewers have too much long-term money invested in Braun/Weeks/Gallardo/Greinke/Hart to make a play for Reyes. They could use an upgrade over Betancourt (to state the obvious), but not sure there is a good solution out there.
Huge Reds fan, so perspective eludes me...I think that Jay Bruce is as following among the "Young Stud" OFs:HeywardBruceUptonStantonTruth?
Possibly ... although keep in mind he's three years older than Heyward and Stanton. Bruce has been hot lately, although he still has a big home/road split. Upton is the one that bothers me. He was great as a 21-year-old in 2009, but hasn't developed since then.
as a fellow M's fan, they have 2 above average CFs and no corner outfielders. Ichiro could be a CF, his bat would play as a plus in that spot, but as a RF you need more than a singles hitter who doesn't use his speed on the bases. Ichiro used to be the best defensive RF in the game, but he has had a few balls eat him up so far this year. I thought he played well in CF when he was there. Whats the fix David?
Trade for Carlos Beltran! I've talked to M's fans and they agree that Ichiro hasn't looked as good in RF this year as he normally has ... which I think rules out CF. Maybe he's finally losing a step? But they have Gutierrez signed long-term to play CF. The Mariners do have a problem with Ichiro and Figgins playing "power positions" and offering no power. Figgins is the bigger problem right now ... he's been one of the worst players in the majors this season. Dave Cameron had a good take on him yesterday on the USS Mariner site -- he's hacking at more pitches out of the zone than ever, meaning his skill (taking walks) isn't even happening this year. He's a huge problem at 3B.
If the Indians were to pick up a player around the All-Star break, who do you think they need? I'm hoping they just get a solid starter to bolster their rotation, though I don't know who'd be available.
I keep waiting for Tomlin and Masterson to regress, but it hasn't happened yet. But, yes, I think eventually they may want to add back-of-the-rotation starter or another reliever. Unfortunately, with so many teams in it this year, I just don't see much starting pitching that will be available.
Brown and Cosart?!!? Ed Wade is still GM of Houston right? He loves getting back 27 cents on the dollar in trades. I think a John Mayberry and Yohan Flande will do.
As a Dodger fan I wanted to hurl my computer on the street last night as Jansen threw 38 ninth inning pitches while burping up yet another game. Why do managers continue to have relievers only throw for one inning (7th or 8th) when they are pitching well only to insert the cold guy from the pen in the 9th to throw the game away. Yuck
I could write 10,000 words on this ... I would like to see more managers show flexibility with how they handle their bullpens, but they're all locked into the "closer" mentality. I'm with you: Yuck.
David have to say that I love your articles. I know Hanley is amidst a terrible slump, but he is still young and should come out. Once he starts hitting, can you see him and stanton one day being a replica of Manny and Ortiz in their heyday?
The big difference: Manny and Ortiz drew 90+ walks a year, boosting their OBPs into the .400 range. Hanley drew 92 in 2008, but that seems like an outlier. Stanton is still working on his plate discipline. So ... my short answer is Hanley and Stanton will be a great duo, but it's hard to match Manny/Ortiz.
If Santana does not pick up his production, do you think it would be a possibility for the Indians to move Asdrubal to the three whole and drop Brantley into the two spot when Sizemore is back?
I think Santana will start hitting, even now he still has a .343 OBP. I've liked what I've seen from Brantley and it might make sense to keep him in the 1 or 2 hole (at least against right-handed pitchers). Nice to have so much flexibility. Or why not hit Sizemore third? Brantley, Cabrera, Sizemore, Choo, Santana, Hafner. Breaks up the lefties a little bit.
Masterson's FIP last year was 3.93, a good indicator of what was to come!If stem cell work is not in the CBA nor prescribed by law, is it really worth all of the controversy?
I'm guessing that will be discussed in the current CBA negotiations with the union. My question: What's so bad about allowing that treatment (or HGH) to allow a player to recover from an injury? Don't we WANT them back on the field? It's OK transplant or ligament from your thigh or your elbow, but to use these treatments to repair injuries?
I'm biased, but I think Brandon Phillips is a more worthy starter at 2B than Rickie Weeks for the All Star team. Similar offensive numbers, but BP seperates himself with his defense.
I wouldn't have a problem with that. Interesting ... I just noticed Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs have dramatically different evaluations of Phillips' fielding. Fangraphs says he's very good, B-R says he's basically average.
From Fuentes's comments, it sounds like relievers are locked into the closer mentality just as much as everyone else. Isn't this a major impediment to better bullpen use?
Good point. It's become so ingrained in the game that relievers think that's way to go. Now, I didn't see Fuentes' comments, but I'm guessing he's trying to find an excuse for his SEVEN losses ... in relief. (Leads the league.) Which I think is also a load of ****. Try to getting a few batters out with the game on line, Brian.
Far more likely to happen:Carlos Quintin to the Phillies for DeFratus and Matt Rizotti.I could also see Beltran going to the Rockies... 3B is bad for them, but RF isn't that great either. Could you imagine a 2-5 of Beltran, Cargo, Tulow and Helton? You could live with Ian Stewart at 3rd with those guys all in a row...
Seth Smith is fine in RF, no? Dexter Fowler is the problem -- no home runs, striking out in over 30 percent of his PAs. Unless you think they could move CarGo to CF? But Rockies do need to upgrade their offense somewhere. Only hitting .231 on the road. (Would help if CarGo and Tulo return to 2010 numbers.)
David, thanks for the chats, I've learned more about sabermatics than I ever thought possible from googling some of the terms from your articles (and more than I ever wanted to know). What are your thoughts on the Rockies, are they just in a bad month, or was their start just that unique?
Thanks, Tim. I try not to get too sabermetric heavy, but it's hard to avoid it on some level these days. As I just mentioned, they need help on offense and need *something* out of third base. Ubaldo hasn't won a game yet, which is amazing. They have some decent prospects if they want to deal for some veteran help, but again -- I'm not sure there's going to be much on the market. In the end, I still like them to battle the Giants all season.
OK, let's get to the big question: Who has the best rotation? I wrote I still lean to the Phillies, but that the Giants, A's, Mariners and Rangers are rightfully in the discussion. Check out Texas' road ERA ... anyway, your thoughts? Here's the link to my post: http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/11408/chat-debate-phillies-still-have-top-rotation
I can see a fit for Rockies and Royals. But Betemit is not worth Fowler +. I would imagine that Rockies could get Betemit and throw in if they decided to trade Fowler.
I'm down on Fowler. He's on his third year now and hasn't shown any improvement. I suppose he still has the tools but can the Rockies afford to wait any longer?
David, have you done a single piece on a Giants player or the team since you've taken over for Rob? Seriously, a piece on Cliff Lee's 8 inning dominance over a day where lincecum threw a 133 pitch complete game shutout? I don't usually jump on the east coast bias bandwagon. But the defending world champs and current division leaders seem to be getting ignored by a Dodger fan writer working for the east cost propaganda network. Coincidence?
Yes, I've touched on the Giants a few times. Jim Caple also writes on the Giants a bit. But I'll be sure to do a bigger take on them soon. (FYI ... not sure if you're calling me a Dodgers fan? Not true.)
I have no nails left due to watching Chris Perez close out games. He's only blown one save so far, and has an ERA under 3. So how much is actually skill, and how much would you consider him just one lucky guy?
I'd be a bit nervous as well. 12/12 SO/BB ratio is not the sign of dominance, although he was 61/28 last year. Still ... keep that nail file handy all season long.
In your blog entry about Wilpon's comments you cite David Wright as having been a top 3 player (presumably at age 24 in 2007). At his best, that seems to overrate him greatly. What did you base that on?
He hit .325 that year, OBP over .400, 30 home runs, 42 doubles, 34 steals (only 5 CS), solid D (won a GG, although not sure he deserved it). He was an awesome player that year. Baseball-Reference rates him as third-best player in the NL that year (behind Pujols and Chipper) and Fangraphs rates him as No. 2 in the majors, behind only A-Rod (and ahead of Pujols). Considering his age, only Pujols was a more valuable property at the time.
If you want indigestion, watch Huston Street close a game...every out is a loud one...how can the Rox address this?
I know I risk sounding like a homer when I say this, but it definately has to be the Phillies right now. If you take all the stats you gave in your blog post, and assign points for each category, 5 for being the best, and 1 being the worst, the Phillies, rated last only in Babip and Road ERA, while piling up 43 points, compared to the A's 40. With the rest looking like Marines (39), Giants (36) and Rangers with (32), who also ranked last in 5 categories.
I like those fun kinds of methods. Honestly ... that's probably how I'd rank them. Although I still think the Rangers are sneaky good, with the numbers slightly clouded by their home park.
I'm an upgrade over Betancourt, but I won't play for the Brewers, so I'm out of luck.
Regarding the lack of pitchers available at the deadline, the Cubs are one of the teams that very well may NOT be in it at that point. Could they offer Dempster or Zambrano (and his contract) for much in return? Do you see them doing so?
Considering their contracts and results, doesn't seem like they'd generate much in return. Plus ... that just means that Cubs would have to build a new rotation for next season. (As we've so far, their 6,7 and 8 guys are not good.)
You new-age guys don't understand the closer mentality! Closers have the guts and psychology to pitch with the game on the line. Oh, except for tie games which happen to be when the game is MOST on the line. They don't have the pyschology for that, apparently.
Last night, Joe Girardi intentionally walked JUAN RIVERA, leading to a 5 run inning for the Jays. How can this by justified?
You can't. Intentionally walks are rarely a good strategy, especially in the sixth inning. But few managers like to overmanage like Girardi. Justifies his existence, I guess.
What is your go to stat for evaluating defense?
FanGraphs has a stat called UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) which evaluates a player's defense in runs saved or lost below an average defense for his position. Baseball-Reference generates a similar stat using Total Zone Rating. Our Stats & Information dept. uses John Dewan's +/- system on plays made or not made compared to an average defender, but I don't believe those numbers are publicly available unless you subscribe to the Bill James site. (I could be wrong here.) Usually the metrics agree for the most part ... sometimes, like with Brandon Phillips, they disagree.
PHI or SF has to take the best SP debate. With a decent offense, I would take Felix, Bedard, Pineda, Vargas and Fister. However, SEA doesn't have a good offense.
I'm guessing TB rotation just missed the cut. I would go with Philly because in the playoffs you only need 3-4 starters.
TB's ERA wasn't quite as good as those other teams. They also benefit from a great defensive team. But they have a chance to be up there by the end of the season.
Any thoughts on Brian Fuentes ripping his manager?
Here's the quote: "There's just no communication," Fuentes said, according to MLB.com. "Two games on the road, bring the closer in a tied game, with no previous discussions of doing so. And then, tonight, in the seventh inning, I get up. I haven't stretched, I haven't prepared myself. If there was some communication beforehand I would be ready to come into the game -- which I was, when I came into the game, I was ready. Just lack of communication. I don't think anybody really knows which direction he's headed."
My thoughts: Fuentes is frustrated with the fact that he's basically been terrible this year and he should shut his trap instead of blaming the manager.
I think we all know where the A's are headed towards when they bring Fuentes into the game: a loss. Andrew Bailey can't come back fast enough for the A's if you ask me.
Why would the Royals want Fowler? He pretty much sucks (though not to Betancourt levels) and the Royals just acquired Cain from the Brewers, who at least has the unknown "potential." With Fowler, after 3 years, he is what he is, isn't he?
You may be right. Not really any difference between Cain and Fowler at this point. (They're the same age, actually.) FYI, Cain is hitting .295 in Triple-A, but with a 34/11 SO/BB ratio. Not sure he's the answer either in CF.
Yeah, the intentional walk to Rivera was brutal. You shouldn't be pitching around anyone in the Jays lineup right now besides Bautista. And on that note, Joey Bats is a beast!
The Giants are also pitching with the likes of Tejada at short, Pat Burell in left, Huff in right, Fontenot at short or third etc.etc.. That their era is as low as it is is remarkable considering.
Is it me or do there seem to be alot of still relatively young guys regressing? Upton, Hanley, Wright, Pedroia, Longoria... I know some of these guys have had injuries and it's only been two months but still
Worth looking into. Hanley was down last year and off to a terrible start. Longoria is fine. Pedroia ... not sure what's wrong with him. Everyone wants to blame Wright's problems on Citi Field, but he actually hit 29 homers last year. He's just striking out 40 more times a year than he did at his best. I still contend a lot of this is better pitching, but it is troubling that some of these young star hitters are regressing.
It would be Seattle hands down if they still had Morrow. They better hope League turns out to be a decent closer over the years. Could you imagine Pineda, Morrow and the King for years to come?
And imagine of they had A. Cabrera and Choo? They traded those two to Cle for ... Eduardo Perez and Ben Broussard. Piece coming up this week on the MLB page on those two deals.
In 2001, the NL Rookie of the Year balloting finished with Pujols, Oswalt, Rollins, and Dunn in that order. Any chance we see a ballot with that level of combined career production any time soon?
Good question. I'll look into sometime soon.
After years of undeserving candidates, do the Pirates have legitimate All-Star candidates this year? Walker, McCutchen, Morton, and Hanrahan are all possibilities. However, with the fans voting for All-Stars, will the Pirates get more than one?
I'll take McCutchen. Not sure if Walker will be able to squeeze in over Phillips and Weeks (let alone if the fans vote in Utley).
I think the Tigers rotation needs to be in the discussion. Their ERA is only a tick below Texas, but the Tigers defensive efficiency is 0.716 (11th in MLB) compared to Texas's .735 (3rd). Comerica Park is also a pretty neutral park these days. Verlander-Scherzer-Porcello is a pretty good top three.
Here are complete starter stats: http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/team/_/stat/pitching/split/127
As for the pitchers available at the deadline, how about Ryan Vogelsong? The Giants will have 6 pitchers when Zito comes back and Vogelsong could be dealt without any hit to their rotation and he has no contract issues. He has to be better than some of the 4th and 5th starters some of the teams are throwing out there right now.
It's funny re: Fuentes...guys like Mariano Rivera start stretching in the 6th inning. Preparation starts with yourself, Brian, not your manager telling you which innings he might use you.
I saw all the comments about your proposed Phillies deal, but mine is about the Rockies/Royals deal. Fowler and Rogers? You realize this is Wilson Betemit you're talking about, right? He may be hot now, but if ever there was a candidate for regression... Fowler and Rogers still have lots of potential down the road, and the Rockies are probably good enough anyway to win the division.
Braves can be argued to have the top rotation. When you look at the depth Atlanta has, and the quality of there 4th and 5th starters. They have to be top 5 for sure.
Cleveland has a better ERA than Texas and Seattle, how come no love for them in the discussion for best staff?
Only 11th in starters' ERA, however.
What's would be a more feared 1,2 punch? Felix/Pineda or Halladay/Lee?
Haren and Weaver? Verlander and Scherzer? Halladay and Hamels? Hanson and Jurrjens?
Maybe Fuentes should start so he'll have LOTS of time to prepare
Heath Bell's the only guy you could make a case for the All-star game on the Padres, right? Nobody puts in set up guys so Adams won't be in there even if he might be pitching better than Bell.
There have been a few setup guys to make it ... Jeff Nelson made it one year. Shiggy Hasegawa. A few others that I'm blanking on right now. But, yes, I think we can pencil in Heath Bell as an All-Star already.
@ Jim (Lincoln, NE)....yeah, they may have those likes behind them, but they are also 2nd among those 5 teams in BABIP. So they may not have a great defense, but balls that are hit off of them aren't finding holes.
What would be your take on Ichiro in the home run derby? And why is he on the ballot?
I'd love to see Ichiro in the HR Derby. Who wouldn't? Not sure why MLB hasn't figure this out. Also, allow guys who aren't All-Stars, like Adam Dunn or Jim Thome or Mark Reynolds.
Could Fowler be a little bit like Cameron Maybin where a change of scenery could help turn things around? Maybin hasn't reached his full potential, but he is a joy to watch patrol center field in Petco. You can see how gifted he is by how he just glides to every fly ball.
Ojakima made an all-star game
Isn't Carpenter/Wainwright/Haren the best 1-3 in baseball? Sorry, I just woke up from a dream that Wainwright never got hurt and the Cards never made the Mark Muler trade.
Beckett and Lester -- though Lester seems a little off so far.
Realize I'm joining this conversation late, but how is the Braves rotation not part of this discussion?
They seemed a small step behind the others in my book. Hudson and Lowe haven't been great ... 3.53 and 3.95 ERAs ... awesome in 2001, only so-so in 2011.
Do you think Bobby has thought about walking down to the dugout in a few of these games and ripping the scorecard out of Fredi's hands?
I'll be in this years AllStar game. I'm the Games best reliever not considered a closer.
You should be there. Nine hits in 28 IP? Wow!
Fuentes ripped the Angels when he left. No class!
I think the Indians like Brantley batting 7th because if he gets on base it really helps out LaPorta. On the other hand, I've always felt Sizemore had the mentality of a #3 hitter than a leadoff guy.
Is it concerning that the Indians only filled 42% of the ballpark last night?
Monday night ... cold and rainy ... school still in session ... it takes more than two hot months to win back a fan base. I'd like to see more fans supporting the Indians, but it takes time.
Worse offseason pickup: Dan Uggla or Vernon Wells?
Of those two? Wells. Uggla will hit. Eventually. I think.
@Jay our Braves lack a Elite Pitcher in the rotation. But I believe Tommy Hanson can be considered a ACE by next year. We have a bunch of No.2 and 3s.
DS - Do you think Alexi Ogando is for real? I know people are referencing his strand rate and low babip in particular. But the guy throws gas. Sell high or hold and hope?
Like with Josh Tomlin, I keep waiting for reality to hit. But he throws hard and throws strikes. What a surprise. Certainly, he's not THIS good and we have to see if he can hold up in the Texas heat as he crosses the 100-inning mark ... if you're a fantasy owner, I'd sell. If you're the Rangers ... pray for the surprise to continue.
David Schoenfield (2:11 PM)And imagine of they had A. Cabrera and Choo? They traded those two to Cle for ... Eduardo Perez and Ben Broussard. Piece coming up this week on the MLB page on those two deals.----------------------------Don't forget to mention that Zeke Carrera, who notched the game winning RBI of the Reds series, was picked up for another journeyman 1B! Thank you, Seattle!
Nice. Jerry Crasnick has the piece. He tracked down Bill Bavasi, the Seattle GM at the time who made the Cabrera/Choo deals.
Greinke/Marcum is an underrated 1-2.
And Gallardo pitching better of late as well. OK ... that's it for today. Thanks for a fun chat everyone. I'm going to grab some lunch and dream about a Mariners team with Cabrera, Choo and Morrow ...