Tag Archives: MLB

San Diego is German for 2014 Baseball Winter Meetings. A Recap.

The 2014 Winter Meetings in San Diego was a spectacle enjoyed by all who attended. From Job Seekers, to trade show exhibitors, and former managers to GMs, big deals were struck constantly providing entertainment for all who attended. Being here live was a great experience, and I encourage all baseball fans to make the Hajj at some point in their lives. Before digging into which teams won and lost (and there were some big winners and losers), I’d like to highlight some of the characters of professional baseball.

Clint Hurdle could host a one man show. Upon entering the Grand Hyatt Hotel, the Pirates Manager was the first person everyone saw. Dressed in a boisterous purple shirt, he had a crowd of 20 people around him entrenched in his story telling and struck by his personality. There was some buzz that he was taking pulls from a Jim Beam bottle at the bar Monday night.

Jack McKeon, Jim Leyland, and Jerry Reinsdorf don’t give a Slim Jim about anything. McKeon and Jerry each had three or four cigars in their mouth/pockets/hands at all times, while Leyland chain-smoked cigarettes while looking upon the crowd in destain. These ol’ baseball boys have teams, swagger, personality (kinda), sweet old dude hair (except for Jerry, gross), own a few teams, and most importantly, have a few rings. People flocked to them as well. Also, Joe Maddon is totally loving this big market attention he’s getting.

Watching Ken Rosenthal, Brian Kenney, Tim Kurkjian, Buster Olney, and Karl Ravech scurry around chasing stories is so much fun. Not that I am the biggest guy in the world, but these little guys move, have all of the inside tracks (literally and figuratively), and crush it on camera with breaking news. Baseball is lucky to have such great journalists covering its game. Also, Dan Plesac is a madman and the official conductor of the Cubs Big Blue Train #CubbyChubby. And, Peter Gammons is and will always be the best.

Down to business:

The Chicago teams started strong, and the Dodgers finished The Meetings off. The White Sox starting rotation is loaded. Consider this: in July the Sox’ starting five in order could be: Sale, Samardzija, Quintana, Danks, Rodon (last years 3rd overall pick). All of those guys pitch a ton of innings, deep into games and keep their teams in it. With the addition of Duke, Robertson, and Jennings to the ‘pen, these guys could all exceed double digit wins (maybe not Danks as he is a career underachiever). With LaRoche protecting Abreu, expect MVP numbers again from Jose Dariel. I like the White Sox to contend in the Central, but with the Indians improving, the Tigers Tigering, the Royals scrappy, and the Twins with top prospects Buxton and Sano coming everyone in this division has a shot at the crown. The Sox pitching, however, is inspiringly exciting.

It’s go time on the Northside. In speaking with Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago, Jed and Theo supposedly arrived at their suite at the top of the Hyatt on Saturday afternoon, and didn’t leave until Wednesday morning- after signing Jon Lester to one of the largest contracts in pitching history. His 6 year $155 mm (7th year vesting option for $15mm) shows the commitment the Cubs are making to winning, and that the time to win is now and over the next seven years. Adding Miguel Montero is a smooth move and may attract additional arms (David Price next year). With one more bat (think Justin Upton) and one more arm (think Shields) the Cubs will have a winning season in 2015 and contend for a wild card spot. If Baez, Soler, Bryant, Russell can mature into 80% of their ceilings, the Cubs will be a wrecking crew for years to come.

Lastly, The Los Angeles Dodgers fielded a whole new ball club. Andrew Friedman must be having so much fun literally abusing the rest of the league (except for the Chicago teams, obviously) and playing with a checkbook that has unlimited checks in it, and money. The Marlins’ are certifiable idiots right now, and The Dodgers stole their candy, and then offered it to a friend for a full sack lunch. DEE GORDON DOES NOT CREATE RUNS. Owner Jeffery Loria said that he hopes Yelich and Dee become what Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo were for the 2003 World Series champs. chartYelich is fine, however, Dee Gordon is not even close to the production of those guys. Look at this chart comparing their wOBA.

Even early in the above replacement level careers of Pierre and Castillo, they greatly outperformed Dee and set the table for  the artist formerly known as Miggy Joven to reign terror on opponents, which turned the 2003 #CubbyChubby barely into Billy “Wagner”s. Dee Gordon’s .312 wOBA last season is below any season Louis Castillo had after his 24 birthday. Okay enough ranting on how the Marlins are going to be sold with a ton of debt on them and no wins, and back to how Friedman and Zaidi and former Padres’ GM Josh Byrnes dominated the latter portion of the Winter Meetings.

They set out to do two things, change the makeup of the team, and improve the defense. By adding veterans Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick, they accomplished both of those goals. Their defense is now greatly improved, and the team can regain and begin to rebuild its identity as a hard working, smart ball club as opposed to a group full of divas fighting for the LA smoglight. I would have been okay with them keeping Heaney, but they essentially traded a bag of baseballs (Dee Gordon – His Weighted Runs Created (wrc) where average is 100 was 101 last year and Steamer has him projected at 80 for next year which is below replacement level. enough) and Matt Kemp for Kendrick, Rollins, and Grandal. And they signed McCarthy. Pretty solid stuff Mr. Friedman.

Overall, both Central Divisions are going to be extremely competitive – but don’t be surprised if the Tigers and Cardinals still win each. Additionally, each LA team improved, the Padres are in the mix, the Red Sox have 25 back of the rotation starters, and who the hell knows what’s going on in Oakland. Should be a great 2015 Campaign.
image1 image5           IMG_2575WinterMeetings_Entrance-240x180

Two Teams Dominating The Hot Stove



“Cheer For Cherington”

The Boston Red Sox are clearly headlining this Hot Stove Season by splashing into California’s free agent offerings. It appears that once again, the Red Sox are loading up on bats and personalities as they did just a few years ago. Although that 2011 squad, with new acquisitions of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, won many games, they did not have good team chemistry and ended up being trade pieces that returned a World Series in 2013 to the Red Sox. Potentially, these acquisitions are very similar and provide the team with bullets to use at the deadline. I don’t like signing Hanley Ramirez to a $100+ million contract when he is going to complain about playing left field, and may only make it through 85 games each season. But The Big Panda Express is going to be loved in Bean Town, and his beard might get a little longer. The Red Sox’ 2015 outlook is bright, and if they land Lester, then Ben Cherington can go on vacation for a few months and just field calls begging for Cespedes.

“GM Hahn, LaRoping ’em In”

The Chicago White Sox’ GM Rick Hahn is making a name for himself as a guy who gets deals done. He targets a player, as he did with Abreu last year, and ensures that if he likes someone, he is on the roster the following season. Zach Duke was dynamite out of the ‘pen last year- support The Clean Stockings desperately need. Adding Adam Laroche could lead to an even bigger campaign by the aforementioned Abreu. If that happens, then The White Sox will be contending. Also, look for Alexei Ramirez’ name to continue to pop up in trade talks. The White Sox need to continue to bolster the bullpen. Expect the Royals and Tigers to take a step back and the AL Central to be as competitive in all of baseball for the 2015 Summer. Two top tier southpaws in Sale and Quintana will lead this rotation, and if Rondon can go 200 Big League innings, and the bullpen can simply improve to middle of the pack, this team will win 85+ games in 2015.

Chris Davis Suspended


The Baltimore Orioles are having an amazing season. They are going to win the AL East; an endeavor that many thought unlikely at the beginning of the year. However, it is remarkable that they will accomplish this feat with minimal contribution from the 2013 MVP candidate, Chris Davis. Today, news broke that Davis would be suspended 25 games, including the first eight of the playoffs for testing positive for amphetamines. As it has become routine, Adderral was quickly the culprit for this positive test to which Davis had “an exemption” to take in 2013 – the year he bursted out with monster power numbers and had a remarkable .336 Batting Average on balls in play.

This season, Davis has walked more, 11.4% of the time, and struck out at about the same rate as last year. Therefore, Davis is begging the question from us all, did his use of a banned substance, a substance that WebMD says can “help to increase the ability to pay attention, concentrate, stay focused, and stop fidgeting,” contribute to his 2013 campaign? Continue reading Chris Davis Suspended

Joey Gallo – Raw Power

The key to determining what a future may hold for a top prospect with high hopes such as Joey Gallo, is the players ability to make adjustments and improve in areas of his game where he lacks. Joey Gallo can hit the ball to Saturn… or at least into the windshield of a Saturn at the 2014 Future’s Game 440 feet away. In Rookie and A Ball in 2013, Gallo’s OBP was .338. That number was far too low for a highly touted player in low level ball. However, Gallo’s approach at the plate has matured in 2014. His OBP has increased by 62 percentage points to an even .400. This is a good adjustment made by the young power hitter showing an ability to change.

Continue reading Joey Gallo – Raw Power

The Cleat Sheet Scouts Top Shortstops


Today, The Cleat Sheet is going to take a look at the top three shortstop prospects in baseball. Since we want to understand the impact on MLB franchises these star prospects can have, our commentary is based on a combination of prospective talent and MLB readiness. Continue reading The Cleat Sheet Scouts Top Shortstops

$500,000,000 for a New Stadium. Is It Worth It?

For 150 years, American sports franchises have spent billions solely in effort to win a championship. Although, some may see the economic return, and social stature as motivation enough to own and spend money on a sports franchise, the majority of owners and front office decision makers yearn for championships above anything. Teams have won by spending much money, and by spending little money. Among several expenditures of materialistic value, owners can spend money to improve their teams on free agents, better coaching, smarter management, and new facilities.

However, are new facilities, or a new stadium, or a $500 million overhaul providing any winning value to the franchise?

According to Tom Ricketts, owner of the Chicago Cubs, his personal $500 million renovation project for Wrigley Field, will not only advance the ballpark out of the Stone Age, but also create an environment more conducive to short term winning. With over 100 years of futility, Ricketts pleads for support for the project, and support for the franchise.


The big question here is will it work? Will improving the clubhouses and the fan experience draw better players to play for the Cubs eventually leading to the elusive prize? In order to simplify those questions, The Cleat Sheet is going to examine the relationship between a franchise and its stadium. Or rather, attempt to answer this question: Does a new stadium improve the success of a team? Continue reading $500,000,000 for a New Stadium. Is It Worth It?