Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees Change Their Name

Brian Cashman has noted that he would like for all of the New York Yankees minor league affiliates to no longer use the team name "Yankees" for whatever reason. The Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees have officially changed their name today to Rail Riders. Yeah, let that sink in for a minute... the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders... New stadium and new name heading into 2013 so these are exciting times down in Scranton for the Rail Riders.

David Price & RA Dickey Win The Cy Young Awards

The Cy Young award winners are being announced tonight at 6:00 pm ET on MLB Network showcasing the six best starting pitchers in baseball from 2012. David Price has won the American League Cy Young Award with 14 first place votes! This was the closest vote ever, only being separated by 4 points with Justin Verlander, besides the tie in the 1969 season. The National League winner of the Cy Young award is R.A. Dickey so congratulations to him as well! Tune in tomorrow to see the MVP Award announced on MLB Network.

My predictions are now 4/6 during this Award Week

Marlins Still Selling

The Marlins fire sale may not be over, as Joe Capozzi tweeted that the Marlins are expected to trade Ricky Nolasco and are shopping Logan Morrison.

The rumor is that the Yankees are interested in Nolasco, which sounds good when you consider that he only has 1 year remaining on his contract, however the numbers don't excite me. Ricky had an ERA of 4.48 last season, which was his best single season ERA since 2008. And his strikeout rate has dropped in each of the last 3 years from a career best 9.5 K/9 down to 5.9 K/9 in 2012. 

If there's anything to like about Ricky Nolasco it's his durability. He's missed four starts in 2010 due to needing knee surgery at the end of the season, but has thrown 185+ innings in four of the last five years. So while the Yanks could lean on him to eat innings, that's the only thing he seems to be good for. And at $11.5 million, plus the cost to trade for him, I don't think he's worth it.

The guy Capozzi tweeted about that piques my interest is Logan Morrison. Logan hasn't wowed anybody the past couple of seasons posting lines of .247/.330/.468 in 2011 and .230/.308/.399 in 2010, including missing the last 62 games of the past season due to needing knee surgery. However, Morrison did show some power hitting 23 home runs in 2011, and is only 25 years old. Having BABIPs of .265 and .248 in 2011 and 2012 tell me that he may have been unlucky too.

Logan Morrison isn't eligible for free agency until 2017, so that could keep the price for him up a bit, but thanks to the injury and sub-par seasons he may be a good trade target for New York.

Torii Hunter's A Tiger

Torii Hunter will not be a Yankee.

Ken Rosenthal tweeted that Hunter and the Detroit Tigers have agreed to a 2 year $26 million contract. I wouldn't have minded the Yankees acquiring the 37 year-old outfielder, but I'm not upset at all. I'm still holding out hope that Ninja Cashman pulls off a trade for an outfielder, a la the Swisher trade before the 2009 season.

Blue Jays/Marlins Trade Reaction

I'm pretty sure that this sentiment is shared by every player on the Marlins, as well as every fan of the team. Before the 2012 season everybody involved in the organization, from the front office to the fans, had reason to be optimistic. While many picked Miami to make the postseason, some even had them winning the NL East. However the exact opposite of a division title occurred, as the Marlins finished dead last in the NL East, 29 games back with a run differential of -115.

They won't feel any better when I add a couple other big trades that happened after the start of 2012, in order to make a pretty impressive list (2012 fWAR in parenthesis)...

Omar Infante (Detroit) - 3.2
Anibal Sanchez (Detroit) - 3.8
Hanley Ramirez (Dodgers) - 3.0
Jose Reyes (Toronto) - 4.5
Josh Johnson (Toronto) - 3.8
Mark Buehrle (Toronto) - 2.1
Emilio Bonafacio (Toronto) - 0.6
John Buck (Toronto) - 1.2

Maybe this cute Marlins fan will make things better.

Not only were the Marlins considered a contender going into the 2012 season, but they were opening the new Marlins Park, a 37,000 seat retractable roof dome. The stadium cost around $634 million, 80% of which was funded publicly. Therefore the team and fans weren't the only ones heavily invested in the team, the city of Miami, and the Miami-Dade County were as well.

A good friend of mine is a Marlins fan, and I honestly feel bad for him. I mean, it's hard enough to root for a team that finishes 29 games in back of 1st place, but after today's trade he must feel even worse. I don't know about the crop of prospects the team got, as they could help usher in a dynasty for the team a few years down the road, but it's really hard to feel optimistic about them.

As Joe Posnanski pointed out on MLB Network this morning, it's hard to believe that any good to great player would be interested in signing anything close to a long-term deal with the Marlins. Which means Giancarlo Stanton could be the next big player out of Miami to be dealt, as I see no way he'll sign another deal with a team that could very well trade him in their next fire sale.

The new stadium may not have saved baseball in Miami, rather it may have simply delayed the inevitable.

I don't care about the paint job, the Smart Car is still ridiculous.

But what about Toronto? Some are saying this trade makes them legit contenders in the AL East. My cohort Daniel Burch went as far as to use the word "scary" when he announced the deal last night. Personally I'm not scared of the Blue Jays, but the team has always been a thorn in the Yankees side. Over the past 3 seasons, the Yankees only lead the series 30-24 (a winning percentage of .556, compared to an overall winning percentage of .591).

I don't mean to say the Jays aren't going to be a better team, but I don't see them going from winning 73 games to 90+, and thus competing for the AL East crown. The trio of Johnson, Buehrle, and Morrow would be excellent, but Josh has had shoulder issues that led to him missing 150 games in 2010 and 2011, and Mark Buehrle's ERA went from 3.25 in the 1st half of 2012 to 4.36 in the 2nd half. Toronto and it's fans are also hoping Jose Bautista is able to come back from wrist surgery strong, Jose Reyes keeps his head on straight, and Brett Lawrie's numbers are closer to 2011 than 2012.

While I thought the blockbuster trade between the Red Sox and Dodgers was something we may never see again, this trade shows that it may happen more than anyone would ever think. And people like Jon Heyman think we may seen some big trades happen again soon.

We'll see a trade like that before ever seeing a Blockbuster Grand Opening again.

Award Week : Cy Young Award Predictions

One part of the big two when it comes down to MLB Awards will be announced on Wednesday at 6:00 pm ET on MLB Network when they announce the AL and NL Cy Young Award winners. There is plenty of competition in both leagues with multiple 20 game winners. This should be a fun one to watch develop and to predict. Let's look at the finalists in each league. 

American League Finalists:

Justin Verlander - DET
David Price - TB
Jered Weaver - LAA

This is really a tough one but this comes down to David Price and Jered Weaver in my opinion. Not to downgrade what Justin Verlander did this season, especially on a playoff and World Series team, but he was easily 3rd on this list in my eyes. 20 wins for David Price and a 2.56 ERA and 1.10 WHIP may put him over the top, especially after the playoff push that lasted to the last week of the season, over Jered Weavers 20 wins and 2.81 ERA and 1.01 WHIP for the award at the end of the night though. 

National League Finalists:

R.A. Dickey
Gio Gonzalez
Clayton Kershaw

R.A. Dickey led the league in wins for most of the season while he kept everyone guessing that his 78 MPH knuckleball as he finished with 20 wins and a 1.05 WHIP for the Mets. Gio Gonzalez led a National League East division championship team with 21 wins to lead both leagues and a 2.89 ERA. That is going to be enough, in my eyes, to bring home the award to the Nationals family. Clayton Kershaw was thrown in here by default in my eyes because is not even in the discussion in my opinion. After missing significant time with a hip injury and only notching 14 wins I cannot fathom why he was a finalists but even without the hip injury I still do not think anyone is challenging Gio this season. 

Rafael Soriano Potential Draft Pick Compensation

Rafael Soriano is all but done as a New York Yankee after he opted out of his contract and Mariano Rivera announced he would give the Yankees one more season. He declined his qualifying offer looking for a four year $60 million closers job and I fully expect him to get that after his miraculous season not only saving games for the Yankees but saving the Yankees season. There are going to be a ton of teams interested in seeing him #untuck their jerseys but none have been released by Scott Boras yet. If I had to speculate on teams that could make a run at his services I would say that the Cincinnati Reds, Texas Rangers, Tampa Bay Rays, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets, Toronto Blue Jays, Miami Marlins, and the Chicago Cubs could all have varying levels of interest.

Chicago Cubs - 2nd Pick
Miami Marlins - 6th Pick
Toronto Blue Jays - 10th Pick
New York Mets - 11th Pick
Milwaukee Brewers - 17th Pick
Los Angeles Dodgers - 19th Pick
Detroit Tigers - 21st Pick
Tampa Bay Rays - 23rd Pick
Texas Rangers - 25th Pick
Cincinnati Reds - 30th Pick

Pretend this is #29 & says Soriano on the back
I really could see the Cubs making a serious move at him because in my opinion they have to almost trade Carlos Marmol after the Dan Haren trade fell through. The 4 year deal gives Theo Epstein and company time to get its act together and compete by the end of the contract. Whether Soriano would want to go to the team with the 2nd worst record in baseball is one thing but the money is definitely there and the core of Barney, Castro, etc is starting to take form. The fact that the pick is protected and a second round pick would be given up by Chicago instead of a first round pick also sweetens the pot. The Miami Marlins is really where I expect Soriano to end up after Heath Bell was traded but one thing may keep that from happening and that is the Marlins unwillingness to give a no trade clause. I cannot see Soriano signing a deal without one and I know that weirder things have happened I guess but they do not usually include mega agent Scott Boras. The fact that their pick would also be protected increases the willingness for a team like Miami to strike such a deal. I am predicting the Marlins sign this man with another spending spree but I am hoping for a team like the Mets, Brewers, or Dodgers to sign him so he can stay hidden in the National League all season long. The Brewers are definitely a dark horse in my opinion after Jon Axford continued to not get the job done and they may finally rid themselves of the K Rod contract this season so look out for them in the closers market as well.