Tuesday, October 21, 2014

MLBTR Free Agency Outlook: Asdrubal Cabrera


Asdrubal Cabrera might not be the player that some envisioned he would be four years ago, but he still holds a ton of value as he gets ready to explore the open market.  Save forHanley Ramirez, Cabrera arguably stands as the winter’s most attractive free agent shortstop option.
Strengths/Pros
At just 28 years old (29 in November), Cabrera has youth on his side, especially when surveying the rest of the available talent pool.  Cabrera also boasts four consecutive years of mostly good health with an average of 144 games per season over that span.  Of course, that 2011 season was more than just the start of Cabrera’s good fortune in the health department, it was his true coming out party.  That season, Cabrera slashed .273/.332/.460 for the Tribe, earning his first All-Star selection and his first Silver Slugger trophy.MLB: Washington Nationals at Philadelphia Phillies
In 2012, Cabrera earned a second All-Star nomination thanks in part to another strong showing at the plate (.270/.338/.423).  The following two years didn’t bring the same kind of accolades and praise, but Cabrera continued to produce.  Cabrera’s breakout year was his best to date, but the last three years have shown that he can deliver ~15 homers (he had 16, 14, and 14 the last three years) with some speed on the basepaths.
Cabrera also offers more than just shortstop experience, he also has 1773 2/3 innings of career experience at second base.  He mainly plied his craft at shortstop from 2010-2014, but he returned to second this season upon joining the Nationals, so some of the rust from the change should be gone.  His ability to play either middle infield position should help increase his market and will also provide his next team with a bit of flexibility.  This also isn’t a strong second base market on the whole, so his versatility is a positive.
Weaknesses/Cons
Defensively, Cabrera leaves much to be desired.  For his career, Cabrera has a -10.6 UZR/150 rating at shortstop, putting him well below your average defender.  His most recent campaigns haven’t helped either as he posted -16.8 and -10.5 marks in each of the last two seasons.  His body of work at second base is better, according to UZR/150, but still far from great.  He has a lifetime -2.5 UZR/150 at second and turned in a -5.3 rating in 432 innings for the Nats.  Looking for a second opinion?  Defensive runs saved has Cabrera as a -10 defender at second base in 2014 and -7 at shortstop.  The career total is more favorable for second base (2), but even less so at shortstop (-22).
At the plate, it’s impossible to overlook the drop off that Cabrera has experienced over the last two seasons.  In the All-Star years, he slashed a combined .272/.335/.443 with a 118 OPS+, well above the league average.  In the last two seasons, he has produced a .241/.303/.394 batting line with a slightly below-average OPS+ of 96.  Cabrera’s 2014 walk (7.7%) and strikeout percentages (17.1%) are in line with his career averages, which is to say they’re alright, but not great.
Personal
Cabrera and his wife, Lismar, have two children and this winter they’ll welcome another member of the Cabrera clan into the world.
Of course, Cabrera spent his entire big league career in Cleveland before the midseason trade that sent him to the nation’s capital.  While he didn’t stomp his feet over being dealt to the Nationals, he was upset to leave what had become a second home for him, telling reporters it was “like [he] grew up” in Cleveland.  That feeling was reciprocated in the front office.
It’s another tough day for a number of us personally because of how much Asdrubal meant to our team and our organization,” General Manager Chris Antonetti said, according to The Associated Press. ”He’s a guy who has impacted two postseasons for us. We’ll obviously miss Asdrubal a great deal.”
In his downtime, Cabrera enjoys being on his farm in Florida where he tends to his horses every morning.  Back in Venezuela, he’s a fan of taking his boat out on the water with family and friends.
Market
Even though he prefers the shortstop position and his second half in Washington didn’t produce his finest work, Cabrera has said that he would welcome a return to the Nationals.
It depends. A team like this team, a good team that want me to play second, I would love to stay here. I just want to win. I’ve got eight seasons already. I want to be in the World Series one day,” Cabrera said, according to MASNsports.com’s Dan Kolko.
That desire to win could, theoretically, lead to a discount for the incumbent Nats.  Recently,Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider expertly summed up the Nationals’ dilemma at second base.  If they want to prioritize offense at the position, then Cabrera is the better choice to make than giving the defensively strong Danny Espinosa an opportunity to take back the job.  Our own Jeff Todd suggests that a platoon between Cabrera and Espinosa, who can hit against lefties and serve as a strong defensive replacement, would make sense.  The Nats can also use that duo to fill the void if Ian Desmond leaves in free agency next winter.  However, it’s not a given that the Nats will be willing to get in the ballpark of what other clubs will offer Cabrera.
If the two sides can’t get on the same page for a reunion, there should be plenty of interest from teams in need of middle infield help.  The competition at second base is thin, though Cuban defectors Jose Fernandez and Hector Olivera have added some depth there.  At shortstop, Cabrera will have to vie with Stephen Drew and Jed Lowrie.  As noted in Jeff’s recent poll asking the MLBTR commentariat to choose the best option from the trio, Ramirez could be seen more as a third base option than shortstop and the year’s best potential option, J.J. Hardy, is already spoken for.
Teams like the Padres, Reds, and Mets could be interested in signing an impact shortstop, though none of them look the part of a Las Vegas championship favorite for 2015.  The A’s and the Blue Jays could both be in the market for a second baseman.  The Yankees, meanwhile, are on the lookout for a shortstop and, depending on how things play out, could have a need at second as well.  Martin Prado is currently penciled in to fill that role, but if he’s needed elsewhere, the Bombers could look into someone like Cabrera for second.
Expected Contract
The dearth of quality free agent middle infielders is something of a double-edged sword for Cabrera.  On one hand, he has less competition.  On the other, as evidenced by the lack of intriguing available options, a lot of teams are already set, particularly at second base.  There are also a few teams with surpluses in that area like the Rangers, Cubs, and Diamondbacks, which could draw attention away from the free agent market.
Ultimately, while he enjoys playing shortstop more, his best bet at winning and cashing in could come as a second baseman.  The Nationals should at least have some interest in working out a new deal, even though they didn’t get a redux of Cabrera’s best work.  The Yankees, if they shift Prado, can be expected to show interest as well.  Because of his age and his ability to play both middle infield positions, I predict that Cabrera will land a three-year, $27MM deal.



The Case for Michael Cuddyer


As everyone not named the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals prepare for the offseason and free agency I was rummaging through the 2015 free agent list when a name caught my eye, Michael Cuddyer. Before we delve too deep into this I am not handing out a big contract in terms of money or anything more than a one year deal max for Cuddyer as he has been unable to stay on the field in recent seasons. This is definitely a high risk and high reward type signing and one that could really help the Yankees in 2015.

New York needs a 4th or 5th outfielder type next season that would be willing to come off the bench, especially one that can play right field that can also serve as insurance for Carlos Beltran, and Cuddyer definitely fits that description. The Yankees need that bench outfielder to be right handed and a power threat off the bench, check and check. The Bronx Bombers also need a legitimate backup for first baseman Mark Teixeira, and no Alex Rodriguez, Brian McCann, or Brendan Ryan are not legitimate backup contenders, and Cuddyer has played a more than adequate first base in his career.

New York also needs a player that will take a minor league deal or a one year incentive laden contract, check, while the team hopes the player that won the 2013 National League batting title comes back and not the oft-injured player the Colorado Rockies dealt with all of last season. The Yankees don't have many 40 man roster spots or positions open and will have to get the most bang, pun intended, for their buck and that player has all the makings of Michael Cuddyer. At least invite him to spring training, just get him in pinstripes.

MLB Should Adapt The NBA Playoff Policy


Major League Baseball has one of the better playoffs systems in my opinion, as a fan of the NFL, NBA, and as I have been known to dabble in the NHL from time to time I feel like I am fully qualified to make that statement. Obviously nothing beats March Madness but in my opinion MLB is one of the better ones and I think it's because they play almost everyday. Well unless teams sweep their opponents or win quickly like the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals did.

Kansas City swept the ALDS over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on October, 5 and had to sit four days before getting the ALCS started. Again, Kansas City swept the ALCS on October, 15 with a rain out thrown in the middle and will now sit five days before the World Series gets started.

San Francisco won the NLDS over the Washington Nationals on October, 7 and had three days off before starting the ALCS with the St. Louis Cardinals. San Francisco beat the Cardinals in five games on October, 16 and will sit a whopping four more days before starting the World Series tonight.

This would never happen in the NBA as when one series ends the next series starts within a day or two, assuming both teams have completed their series. The Major League Baseball playoffs aren't missing much but this is definitely one thing that kills any sort of viewership or momentum. Rob Manfred, I hope you're reading.

TGP Daily Poll: James Shields Goes No More Than 6 IP Tonight

It’s finally time for Game One of the 2014 World Series, a game that James Shields will start for the Kansas City Royals. Shields will go no more than six innings before turning it over to Herrera, Davis, and Holland in the 9th.  

Vote in our poll.

BREAKING: New York is infected w/ New Disease


Breaking news just in from the news desk, apparently New York, New York City, and the fans of the New York Yankees have been infected with some sort of viral and airborne disease. Reports state that production from players on the field actually negate some of the wrong doings and lies that the players have done or said in the past. For example, Andy Pettitte admitted to PED and steroid use and continued his career clean and effective while being a major part of the 2009 World Series championship team. Pettitte was forgiven by the fans, applauded by the fans, and loved by the fans due to this new disease. This sounds like great news for Alex Rodriguez.

Fans are urged to flock to the ballpark in 2015 if they have an undying hated for Alex Rodriguez, a side effect of this new disease, and watch the soon to be 40 year old slugger play every day. Alex can save the fans and himself by putting up big numbers directly out of the gate and putting to bed some of the question marks around him. Alex Rodriguez is the only hope for the human race, New York, New York City, and Yankees fans that are affected with this disease they are calling “forgiveness.”


May God be with Alex in his journey in 2015 to put to stop to this horrible disease called hate. Godspeed. 

This Day in New York Yankees History 10/21: 4:51 World Series Game


On this day in 2000 the Yankees would beat the Mets in the longest World Series game ever played. The Yankees would beat the Mets 4-3 in a four hour and 51 minute game that went 12 innings. This also keeps the streak alive at 13 consecutive World Series games with a victory.


Also on this day in 1998 the Yankees completed a four game sweep of the San Diego Padres by winning 3-0. The Yankees would win their 24th World Series title in their storied history and the 125th win of the season with the regular and post season’s combined.



Finally on this day in 1976, older Yankees fan turn your heads here because you are not going to like this, the Yankees lost their fourth consecutive game getting swept in the World Series. The "Big Red Machine" proved to be too much for the Yankees team. The Reds would win 7-2 behind a two run home run and a three run home run from Johnny Bench.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Yankees Release 2015 Spring Training Schedule


The New York Yankees 2015 Spring Training gets started with a road game on March, 3 in Clearwater, Florida as they take on the Philadelphia Phillies. On March, 4 the Yankees will host that same Phillies squad at George M. Steinbrenner Field at home in Tampa. This will be just two of a total of 33 exhibition spring training games in the Grapefruit League in 2015, 16 of them coming at home in GMS Field.

Yankees pitchers and catchers report to camp on February, 20 and will hold a workout the next day while positional players will report to camp on February, 25 and will hold their first workout the next day. The final game of Spring Training will be a day game at home against the Washington Nationals on April, 3 before the season gets started on April 6.

CLICK HERE for the full schedule. 

Gary Denbo Replaces Mark Newman, Pat Roessler Out

Gary Denbo has been named as the replacement for the all things prospects job previously held by Mark Newman in the New York Yankees organization. The official title is vice president of baseball operations but Newman definitely centered around the prospects more than anything else during his tenure. Denbo, 53 years old, has been the Yankees minor league hitting coach and manager (1990-1996), minor league hitting coordinator (1997-2000, 2006-2007), assistant minor league director (2000), hitting coach (2001), and scouting and player development consultant (2009-present). Denbo also played four seasons of minor league ball and was the hitting coach for the Toronto Blue Jays and the Japanese League Nippon Ham Fighters in his coaching career.
The team's director of player development Pat Roessler, who has held the position since the 2005 season, is also said to be out of job today. This could be where former Mets GM, and personal friend of Brian Cashman, Omar Minaya fits in.

Jung-Ho Kang Will Be Posted This Offseason


In case you haven't heard the New York Yankees will have a huge hole at the shortstop position following the 2014 season and the Derek Jeter replacement options are not encouraging. Currently on the roster the Yankees have Brendan Ryan, Stephen Drew (who will also be a free agent after the World Series), Martin Prado, and guys like Carmen Angelini in Triple-A. The free agent market doesn't look exactly encouraging either with Hanley Ramirez, Asdrubal Cabrera, and others showcasing the market. The Yankees may have to look outside the organization and outside the country for Jeter's replacement and their search may extend all the way to Korea and Jung-Ho Kang.

Kang is 27 years old and stands 6' tall and weighs in at 180 pounds. Kang plays above average defense and has the power to absolutely slug the ball at the plate. Here are Kang's Korean Baseball Organization stats:

YearAgeTmLgGPAABRH2B3BHRRBISBBBSOBAOBPSLGOPS
200619HyundaiKBO102120131001008.150.150.200.350
200720HyundaiKBO201515020000005.133.133.133.267
200821WooriKBO116408362369818184733165.271.334.392.726
200922WooriKBO13353847673136332238134581.286.349.508.857
201023NexenKBO13352244960135302125826187.301.391.457.848
201124NexenKBO1235044445312522296344362.282.353.401.754
201225NexenKBO124519436771373202582217178.314.413.560.973
201326NexenKBO1265324506713121122961568109.291.387.489.876
201427NexenKBO107458381981373323810736298.360.463.7561.219
9 Seasons892351730334659041901013753551381593.298.382.503.885
As you can see Kang has been above average in each of his last five to seven seasons, albeit in a lower class of baseball in the KBO. Kang has stayed healthy, hit for power, hit for extra base hits, takes enough walks, and has slugged the heck out of the ball for three seasons now. Kang was also in the 2013 World Baseball Classic where he hit the decisive two run home run off of Taiwan in the eight inning.

No positional player from the KBO has ever had much success in the major leagues so it would be nice if the first were with the New York Yankees because this team is definitely better with Kang in the field and at the plate.

Kang will be posted under the old Japanese rules where teams submit a silent bid and could conceivably bid against themselves. Kang is considered to be a dead fastball hitter that struggles with breaking balls which could mean trouble in the major leagues. The problem with these scouting reports are they don't translate well into the majors sometimes so it's a definite high risk type signing, a high risk the Yankees may be forced to take.

Yankees Will Not Hire Dave Magadan

In an interesting turn of events the New York Yankees will not hire Texas Rangers hitting coach Dave Magadan to be the team's hitting coach. No word on who the new favorite is for the job but Magadan and Chili Davis have come off the Yankees board in consecutive days.