Archive for Uncategorized
Recently… And, by recently I mean today, an article was posted by Marlins Daily writer Tony Capobianco about the Toronto Blue Jays interest in Josh Johnson.
This is not surprising. As a Jays fan I’ve learned that GM Alex Anthopoulos is interested in every better than average player made available by any MLB team.
Just sort of expected that every time a player is mentioned as available Jays fans will hear how the Jays have contacted his team’s GM about him.
The article concludes by saying; “Toronto could be the ideal place for the Marlins to unload and even bring in a star third baseman. In a blockbuster trade, the Marlins can send Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson to Toronto for a bounty of prospects and young third baseman Brett Lawrie.”
Now, as Dave Gersham pointed out, the Marlins have every right to ask about Brett Lawrie. And, sure, they do. But, the article suggests that it is a real possibility to acquire Lawrie, and that’s where I come into play.
This is a point-counterpoint thing where I will go into why Marlins fans should not expect certain players and then give you some insight into the Blue Jays farm system for names you may actually hear.
First, why Brett Lawrie is unequivocally unavailable.
Brett Lawrie is, without question, the best young player on the Toronto Blue Jays. The team has Colby Rasmus and Travis Snider, two players constantly ranked in the Top 10 prospects when they came through the system (Rasmus in St.Louis, Travis in Toronto). Lawrie is better.
He is hitting a very consistent .280/.326/.415 this season, which though not overwhelming compared to Bryce Harper or Mike Trout is very, very good considering that when you look at it, Lawrie hasn’t had a hot streak all-season. He hasn’t had one month where he has destroyed the baseball and because of it his numbers are inflated. Hasn’t happened.
That is something that 22-year old ballplayers don’t often have. A true level of consistency.
I grant you, July has been bad, but it also has seen 10-less games (part because of the All-Star break, part because it’s only the 24th).
Trading Brett at 22-years old is like expecting the Angels to trade Trout at 20. It would have to take an incredible, beyond belief kind of deal that the Marlins simply cannot offer with a 28-year old struggling pitcher.
Further, Alex Anthopoulos is obsessed with player control. Every move he makes comes with a player who will be under team control for multiple years after the deal. His goal is to bring in high ceiling talent and prospects and only once has he gone against that (the Happ trade last week), and even then he didn’t trade much prospect depth.
Brett Lawrie is under team control for six years… Josh Johnson becomes a Free Agent in less than two. That is a big discrepancy.
I think most of us have ‘that’ friend. The one that we have known for years, perhaps from your childhood, or if you’re my age (26), from high school. The one that, whenever you get together it quickly devolves into a trip down memory lane with one question.
“Remember the time…”
Something like, “Remember the time I wrote about Expectations and how the expectations for the leagues biggest off-season spenders was, and should be, very high?”
That was June 14th and the Miami Marlins were 32-30 and in the middle of a tough losing skid, though still very much in the thick of things. I mean, it was June 14th. Most teams were still in the thick of things.
Unbeknownst to you or I, the Marlins were actually in the middle of what would become an 8-18 month that would see the team fall from reasonable contenders to one of the NL Easts bottom dwellers.
In fact, since that article the Marlins have gone 14-21 and slipped to 11.5 games back of the division leading Washington Nationals.
Let’s try another.
“Remember the time I wrote about Perspective and how ‘On Pace’ is virtually meaningless in May?”
At the time, I was making the arguement that it made no sense to get worried about individual player performance in May.
Well, here’s the thing. It’s no longer May.
It is about time we saw some action from the Marlins this season. Too bad that action was not on the field. Yesterday, the Marlins, who spent a small fortune during the off-season in order to be contenders this year, sent Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez to the Detroit Tigers for, well, let’s face it, Jacob Turner.
Oh yeah, as Dave mentioned here, this trade was historically significant because it marks the first time teams have traded their compensation picks. According to Peter Gammons, The Marlins obtain prospects Rob Brantly and Brian Flynn along with Turner. The Tigers will also now have the last pick in compensation round A (after the first round), while the Marlins will have the final pick in compensation round B (after the second round).
Having already decided that they couldn’t sign Anibal Sanchez long-term, the Marlins have dealt Sanchez along with Omar Infante to Detroit for a bundle of goods. According to several reporters, including MLB Network’s Peter Gammons, Miami will acquire Jacob Turner, Rob Brantly, Brian Flynn & a Tigers compensation pick for the veteran duo.
There’s a lot to like in this deal, even for both clubs as they each address seperate needs; the Tigers improve short term with a chance to have that excellent rotation journey to the World Series and the Marlins continue to stock a much-improved system, one that now features two of the best pitching prospects in all of baseball (Jose Fernandez & Jacob Turner).
With less than two weeks until July 31st, the Marlins have yet to fully determine their stance at the MLB trade deadline. As Buster Only reported (via twitter) on Monday, the team will enter “sell mode” if there is no immediate turnaround. To keep that from happening, and to keep the Marlins at least relevant in the playoff discussion, the team must play well in the coming stretch of games. Luckily, the schedule for the remaining part of July provides the Marlins with ample opportunity to get back into Wild Card contention.
The Marlins play both of the wild-card leaders, the Pirates and Braves, in three game sets. Right after those two match-ups, the Marlins will host the Padres, one of the worst teams in baseball this year. As if that isn’t enough, the team will then play the Braves again following the series with San Diego.
Now with more than 85 games down, and the All-Star break over, it’s time to see how Marlins’ starting pitchers are expected to fare in the second half of the season, accoriding to the ZiPS projection system. ZiPS was created by Dan Szymborski of Baseball Think Factory and ESPN, and it’s one of the most accurate projection systems available. Last week the focus was on Marlins’ hitters, and now we’ll look at the starting pitchers.
Johnson has had an exceptional season, according to his peripherals, even if his ERA doesn’t reflect it. He holds a 3.07 FIP this year, but has a 4.28 ERA due to some bad luck on balls in play (.352 BABIP). ZiPS expects Johnson’s Defensive Independent metrics to stay about the same in the second half, projecting a 2.93 FIP, and also expects Johnson to have more outwardly measurable success (2.87 ERA).
The one significant change in Johnson this season is his K%. He’s not striking out hitters at the rate he used to–7.6 K/9 in 2012 vs. 8.2 career–although ZiPS does foresee an uptick in strikeouts to 8.1 K/9 the rest of the way. Strikeouts or not, it’s clear Johnson is still a top tier pitcher, and should continue to get batters out.
Buehrle has been solid so far this season, posting a 3.25 ERA at the All-Star break, to go along with an underlying FIP of 3.87. The former White Sox has benefited from a rather low BABIP (.279) and stranding a high rate of runners on base (77.6 LOB%). Both metrics are heavily influenced by luck, and should regress for Buehrle in the second half. For that reason, ZiPS projects Buehrle’s ERA to rise in the second half to 3.77. His FIP, on the other hand, is expected to stay essentially the same over the rest of the season (3.89 FIP).
While all of Buehrle’s peripherals are in line with his career marks, his 1.34 BB/9 is especially impressive. It’s the third lowest walk rate among starting pitchers, and he’s done it while also avoiding a decline in strikeouts. 2012 has produced another respectable season from Buehrle, and he should continue to have success in the second half.
Over at Fishstripes, our good friend Michael Jong charts out Carlos Zambrano’s struggles this season in detail. Jong uses Pitch f/X to explain just what difficulties Zambrano has had on the mound and where in the zone he’s gotten hit around in the most. Be sure to give it a read.
Last season, I spent a lot of time addressing John Buck’s defense (here and here), with most of my commentary being negative. Coming off one of his worse years, and entering into his 30′s, I was expecting to see a decline in defensive value as the effect of aging sets in. However, 2012 has been a vastly different year for Buck, with his catching so far showing great improvement.
While our current methods of quantifying catchers defense are far from perfect, they can still provide useful information about how valuable a player has been behind the plate. My personal favorite, and one of the better available rating systems is Matt Klaassen’s. His methodology and explanation of the system can be found here, although it’s easy to follow along with.
According to Klaassen’s most recent installment of the rankings, Buck has been the 11th best defensive catcher in the majors–saving 1.5 runs above average through May. Much better than in 2011, when he was 39th among all catchers, and was worth only .4 runs over the course of the whole season.
Finally, a series I feel particularly and specifically capable of previewing.
The Toronto Blue Jays are coming to town! Or, from my perspective, going to Miami (I’m Canadian, have I mentioned this?).
Two teams with completely opposite plans when it comes to team building match up in Interleague play sporting very similar records.
The Miami Marlins (33-34) spent $117m to bring in multiple key players in hopes of competing this season in the tough NL East.
The Toronto Blue Jays (35-34) spent $75m with high ceiling, but very raw prospects filling the Major League roster in hopes of competing two seasons from now in the tough AL East.
So, why are these teams playing with similar records? I have no idea, but I think it goes back to my last article.
Miami needs to win this series. I’ll say that first. After what can only be described as an abysmal month thus far they have a Jays team coming to town having lost four of their Top seven starting pitchers coming out of Spring Training and are struggling to gain traction Their top hitters have been underperforming, their young hitters have been streaky, and their bullpen has been overworked in recent weeks while relying on minor league call-ups to eat up multiple innings.
Although the non-waiver trade deadline is still six weeks away, it’s becoming easier to tell which teams will be a buyers and which teams will be sellers.
The Marlins enter today at 32-30 on the season, six games out of first place in what has been an ultra-competitive NL East division. The Nationals don’t appear to be slowing down any time soon, so the moves that the Fish decide to make in July could determine their fate for a wild card spot when the playoff race heats up in September. I’ve decided to take a look at a few names that the Miami could be interested in come July 31st.
1B Bryan LaHair (Chicago Cubs)
LaHair has been one of, if not the biggest, pleasant surprises in all of baseball this season. After spending parts of nine seasons in the minor leagues, the 30-year-0ld LaHair has gotten the chance to prove himself for the new-look Cubs and has made the most of it. LaHair has posted an impressive .304/.388/.591 line to date and his 12 home runs are good for eighth-best in the NL. The Marlins could certainly be a fit for the Cubs’ first basemen, as first base has been huge hole for the club so far in 2012. Despite the Marlins’ potentially-potent lineup, they still rank near the bottom of MLB in slugging percentage, and the numbers would be even uglier if it weren’t for the superhuman efforts of Giancarlo Stanton. LaHair’s trade value is at an all-time high and there will certainly be many other teams in play come deadline time, but adding a bat like his could get the Marlins that much closer to a playoff spot this season.
SP Jason Vargas (Seattle Mariners)
The Marlins’ starting pitching has been one of the most consistent aspects of the club this season, but an injury or string of bad starts could severely hinder a chance at staying in the NL East race. With the lack of top pitching prospect depth in the upper levels of the minors, Miami could be best suited for finding pitching outside the organization. One name that could be in play is M’s lefty Jason Vargas. Vargas has been a reliable middle-of-the-rotation starter for Seattle since being acquired from the Mets in 2009. He’s made 30 or more starts each of the past two seasons and would provide some good depth in the rotation if Josh Johnson’s injury bug came back or Carlos Zambrano swung too hard. He’s on a one-year deal, and with the Mariners anxiously awaiting the arrival of top pitching prospects like Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker, the Marlins could be able to acquire Vargas at a discounted price.
RP Ryan Cook (Oakland A’s)
Ryan Cook makes the list of potential Marlins’ trade targets due in large part to the fact that he plays for the trade-happy A’s organization, but that certainly doesn’t mean Oakland would give the righty away for free. Just about every club in contention at the July deadline is looking for bullpen help, and adding a power arm like Cook’s could prove crucial in late-game situations. The rookie Cook started the season with a 23-inning scoreless streak that was snapped at the end of May, and has been one of the most impressive relievers in baseball this season, even with the high walk rate. The Marlins’ have posted the fourth-worst bullpen ERA in the league in June at 6.51 and could use a shutdown reliever like Cook, who has allowed just eight hits in 27.0 IP in 2012. If Heath Bell returns to early-season meltdown mode or injuries begin to take a toll, the Fish could very well look to revamp the bullpen and Cook would be a solid acquisition.