Saturday, December 15, 2018

Fantasy Focus: Impact Rookies- Alex Reyes

Alex Reyes RHP, Cardinals.  DOB:  8/29/1994.  6'3", 175 lbs.

TBH, I am not sure if Alex Reyes still qualifies as a prospect or rookie or not.  He's at exactly 50 MLB IP which is the cutoff.  He is listed on MLB and Fangraphs prospect lists and darn it!  I want to to talk about Alex Reyes, to there!  I am going to talk about him!

This is the third time Reyes has made my list of Impact Rookies.  He's an incredible physical presence on the mound who is bigger than his listed weight and in a good way.  After posting a 1.57 ERA in 46 IP, in 2016, he was all set for a huge breakout in 2017 but missed the entire season with a torn UCL and Tommy John surgery.  He again appeared to be ready for his huge breakout in 2018 running up a line of 3-0, 0.00, 23 IP, 7 BB, 44 K's in 4 rehab starts at 4 levels before tearing a lat tendon 4 innings into his first MLB start of the season.

He is now reportedly fully recovered and training for a SP role.  He'll make a third try for a breakout in 2019 and I am buying!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Hot Stove Update: Indians Ship Yonder Alonso to White Sox

There were several fairly low level deals done around the Hot Stove today.  The biggest was the Yonder Alonso trade from the Indians to the White Sox.  You had to sense that Alonso was going somewhere after the Indians acquired Carlos Santana and Jake Bauers in one day.  Even AL teams can only use so many 1B/DH types or their rosters.  The Indians received OF Alex Call who put up fairly average numbers in A+/AA last season.

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36 yo Ian Kinsler agreed to a 2 year/$8 M contract with the Padres.  Kinsler still provided plus D and Baserunning but his offense is is fading manifested by a career-worst slash line of .240/.301/.380 with the Angels and Red Sox last season.  Kinsler and Padres GM AJ Preller know each other from when both were with the Rangers.  I'm guessing he is being brought in for the proverbial veteran leadership.

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The Tigers signed former Pirates SS Jordy Mercer to a 1 yr/$5.25 M contract with an additional $250 K available in incentives.  Mercer slashes a lackluster .251/.315/.381 last year.

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The Giants did not sign or trade for any players today.  None of the above transactions should impact the Giants positively or negatively.  None of the players involved would be fits on the Giants roster.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Hot Stove Update: Giants Jumpstart Rebuild.... With Rule 5 Draft

The Giants took a deep dive into the Rule 5 Draft today selecting 2 players in the MLB phase for the first time in their history and 2 more in the AAA phase.  Lets break it down.

Round 1 Pick 7:  Travis Bergen LHP.  DOB:  10/8/1993.  6'1", 205 lbs.

2018 A+:  0-1, 1.71, 21 IP, 13.29 K/9, 2.57 BB/9, 1 Save.
2018 AA:  4-1, 0.50, 35.2 IP, 10.85 K/9, 2.27 BB/9, 7 Saves.

Lefty reliever from Blue Jays organization with terrific K/BB who can face both L/R handed batters.  He reportedly has a low-mid 90's FB with high spin plus a curveball and changeup. He obviously has enough stuff to miss bats.  AA to MLB is a big jump but at least if you've pitched successfully in AA, you have a ghost of a chance of pitching successfully in MLB.  Other teams are reportedly showing a lot of interest in veteran lefty relievers Tony Watson and Will Smith, so maybe the Giants see Bergen as insurance in case they get an offer on Smith or Watson they can't refuse?  I expected the Giants to select MIF Drew Jackson from the Dodgers if he was on the board, which he was, but this is a nice pick who has a great chance to stick on the 25 man roster and could fill a key role in 2019.

Round 2(only pick):  Drew Ferguson, OF.  DOB:  8/3/1992.  B-R, T-R.  5'11", 180 lbs.

AAA:  .305/.436/.429, 11 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 6 SB, 15.8 BB%, 20.9 K%, 292 PA.

The Giants were the only team to make 2 picks in the MLB phase of the Rule 5 Draft and they picked up an intriguing OF from the Astros with their second pick.  Ferguson missed the first 2 months of the season with a fractured hand but came back strong with a rather eye-popping walk rate and OBP, although the power is more gap than HR.  He can run some and is reportedly capable of playing all 3 OF positions which basically makes him Gorkys Hernandez with a lot better plate discipline.  The fact that he had a successful season in AAA gives him a great chance of sticking on the 25 man roster as a 4'th or 5'th OF. Another nice pick!

AAA Phase:

Peter Maris, SS.  DOB:  9/16/1993.  B-L, T-R.  5'10", 175 lbs.

2018 A+:  .320/.405/.600, 7 2B, 3 3B, 5 HR, 12.1 BB%, 16.4 K%, 116 PA.
2018 AA:  .248/.337/.444, 10 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 11.7 BB%, 21.8 K%, 179 PA.

Originally signed as an undrafted FA by the Rays out of UCSB and no, he's not related to Roger Maris. Versatile player who has played all 4 IF positions and even a little OF.  His calling card is also plate discipline with gap and occasional HR power.  There is no offer-back rule for the AAA phase, so the Giants can play him at any level and keep him in the organization for the full 2019 season.  Ceiling is likely utility IF.

Sam Moll, LHP.  DOB:  1/3/1992.  5'10", 185 lbs.

2018 AAA:  1-3, 5.30, 18.2 IP, 9.16 K/9, 2.41 BB/9.

Another lefty reliever with AAA experience.  He actually pitched in MLB for the A's in 2017 albeit with a 10.80 ERA in just 6.2 IP,   His FIP and xFIP in 2018 were 2.96 and 3.56 respectively so his secondary stats are much more impressive than his ERA.  Hey! You can never have too many lefty relievers, especially if you are thinking about trading 1 or 2!

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The Mariners(who else?), Indians and Rays pulled off a 3-way swap while Trader Jerry was lying in a  hospital bed with blood clots in his lungs.  Yikes!  This is actually pretty much 2 separate trades but somehow the Rays are sending $5 M to the Mariners who are also sending $6 M to the Indians.  Got that?  Anyway,

Mariners get DH Edwin Encarnacion and a Competitive Balance B draft pick(currently #77) from the Indians.

Indians get Carlos Santana from the Mariners.

Indians get 1B Jake Bauers from the Rays

Rays get IF Yandy Diaz and RHP Cole Sulser from the Indians.

This trade is so confusing I have no idea who got the best of it, but I'll go with the team getting the prospects, so the Rays.

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The Brewers acquired LHP Alex Claudio from the Rangers for a Competitive Balance A draft pick(approximately #40)  Claudio was the Rangers Closer in 2017 but got BABIP'd to the tune of .366 in 2018 which caused his ERA to balloon to 4.48.  That BABIP suggests he's a decent bounceback candidate in 2019.  He gives the BrewCrew another lefty in the bullpen alongside Josh Hader.  Seems like a light return for the Rangers, but they seem to be in a rebuild phase and probably value the extra draft pick a bit more than other teams.  I could see Farhan Zaidi making a deal like this to acquire extra draft picks at some point.

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The Mets re-acquired RHP Jeurys Familia with a 3 year/$30 M contract.  He would seem to be in line for a set up role after the Mets acquired Edwin Diaz earlier in the offseason, but that's a pretty strong late inning combo there.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Hot Stove Update: Giants Don't Join Run On Pitchers

There was a run on pitchers at the Winter Meetings today with none of them going to the Giants.  First up was a pretty big surprise with Charlie Morton, who had been rumored to be mulling retirement signing a 2 year deal with the Rays for $30 M with assignment bonuses of $1 M and $500 K if he is traded in 2019 or 2020 respectively.  There is also an option for 2021.  I really like this deal for the Rays.  Morton is 35 yo, but has been getting better with age and seems like a pretty good bet to more than cover his cost in on-field production.

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The Rangers are reportedly nearing a 3 year/$30 M deal with RHP Lance Lynn, which seems to be awfully rich for a guy who will be playing his age 32 season and has scuffled a bit over the past 2 seasons.

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The Reds acquired RHP Tanner Roark in a trade with the Nationals for 26 yo pitching prospect Tanner Rainey who excites scouts with a triple digit FB but has a wild hair up his nose.  Roark has put up ERA's of 4.67 and 4.34 over the past 2 seasons but has thrown 361 innings over that span.  Seems like a solid pickup for the Reds, but the Nationals were willing to essentially give him away due to a projected $9 M+ salary in 2019.

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The Yankees reportedly agreed to a 2 year/$34-35 M contract with LHP JA Happ. The deal comes with a 3'rd year option.  No word yet on the buyout price.  This signing probably takes the Yankees out of any trade scenario for Madison Bumgarner.

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In addition to the pitching run, the Angels signed 1B Justin Bour to a 1 year/$2.5 contract.  This one is a bit curious because the Angels already have a first baseman in Albert Pujols and a DH in Shohei Ohtani.  Bour was likely signed as a bat off the bench with depth.  He's run hot and cold over his career but his a very dangerous hitter when he's hot.

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Rule 5 Draft tomorrow AM......and the Giants select IF Drew Jackson!(prediction).

Hot Stove Update: Andrew McCutchen Won't Be Coming Back to the Giants

The Phillies reportedly agreed to a 3 year/$50 M contract with OF Andrew McCutchen. The deal included a $15 M option for 2022 with a $3 M buyout.  Cutch was one of several 3'rd tier OF FA's after Bryce Harper(Tier 1) and AJ Pollock(Tier 2) which is itself a bit odd given Cutch's relative durability and Pollock's extensive injury history.  The rap on McCutchen is he is just not a CF anymore and is still adapting to a shift to corner OF.  Maybe the bat is a bit short for corner OF?  Still, he was the best hitter on a weak Giants team last year before a late trade to the Yankees.  He should enjoy better power numbers playing in the Phillies crib which is much more hitter friendly than AT&T Park.  

The Phillies are thought to be still pursuing Bryce Harper but the McCutchen signing takes some of the pressure off that avenue and creates some interesting trade possibilities for other members of a crowded OF.  Would the Giants be interested in Odubel Herrera, Nick Williams, Aaron Altherr, Dylan Cozens or Roman Quinn?

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The White Sox bolstered their rotation by acquiring RHP Ivan Nova from the Pirates for a 19 yo RHP prospect.  Nova is an innings eater who will likely put up an ERA in the mid-4's.  He is entering the last year of a 3 year/$26 M contract.  The kid the Pirates are getting put up some nice K/BB ratios in the low minors last year. The Pirates also get $500 K in international bonus pool money in the deal.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Hot Stove Update: Giants Don't Sign Tyson Ross, Claim Mike Gerber

Mike who?  The Giants claimed OF Mike Gerber off waivers from the Tigers who had to place him there because they are overflowing with talent.  Wait!  What?

Mike Gerber, OF.  DOB:  7/8/1992.  B-L, T-R.  6'0", 190 lbs.

2018 AAA:  .213/.277/.411, 14 2B, 2 3B, 13 HR, 7.0 BB%, 32.6 K%, 316 PA.
2018 MLB:  .095/.170/.119, 8.5 BB%, 44.7 K%, 47 PA.

Gerber had put up decent minor league numbers before last season, but his walk rates had been declining and his K rates had been climbing.  When his BABIP normalized, his BA collapsed.  Yes, when BA is that low it does matter.  So, what does Farhan Zaidi see in Gerber?  Maybe the 60 power in his scouting report?  Maybe the 25 HR's/600 PA?  Maybe he spent 2018 working on a new swing? Maybe he's 2019's Max Muncy?  We'll see. The move takes up 1 spot on the 40 man roster but still leaves room for a Rule 5 pickup on Thursday.

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Meanwhile, the Tigers signed RHP Tyson Ross to a 1 year/$5.75 M MLB contract with additional $250 K in bonus opportunities.  Ross pitched a full season last year with the Padres and Tigers with a pitching line of

8-9, 4.15, 149.2 IP, 3.7 BB/9, 7.3 K/9.

Those are not vintage Tyson Ross numbers but it was his first full season in 3 after a string of injuries.  He had an ERA of 2.73 after being selected off waivers late in he season by the Cardinals, but his peripheral stats were actually worse with the Cardinals.

Gotta say, this contract is for a good $2-3 M more than I had projected for him.  Compare his numbers from last year to another comeback pitcher named Derek Holland and I think you'd have to say Holland's absolute floor is 2 years/$15 M.  Yikes!

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Billy Hamilton signs with the KC Royals.  Giants wanted to trade for him last Hot Stove League, but his numbers cratered in 2018 and I don't see him as being a Farhan Zaidi kind of player anyway.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Scouting the Offseason: Winter Meetings Preview

In the last several years of the Sabean/Evans administration, the Giants followed a fairly predictable offseason course.  They needed starting pitching?  How do you like Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija?  They needed a Closer?  Well, dang! Here's the guy we should have traded for at the deadline last year, Mark Melancon!  Third base?  Hey!  We can get Evan Longoria and still stay under the CBT threshold!  Outfielder?  Andrew McCutchen would look mighty nice in a Giants uniform!

This season is different and for more reasons than a new GM.  The Giants have some clear needs but also a strong feeling that the old approach of throwing money and hoping it will plug holes has reached a saturation point and continuing to do that will just dig the hole deeper.  The Giants need to plug holes to be competitive but they also need to find ways to upgrade the overall talent in the organization.  They need to get younger, more athletic, more powerful.  They probably can't do all that in one offseason.  It's debatable whether they can do it at all without a complete teardown and rebuild which according to Managing Partner Larry Baer is "not in our DNA."

A big question none of us know is what players currently in the organization does Farhan Zaidi believe are untouchable?  Does he believe any of them are?  The one big trade chip from the MLB roster is Madison Bumgarner.  A couple of years ago, ever trading him would have been unthinkable. Now there is some question whether they can get enough in return for him to make it worthwhile.  The 2 big trade chips on the farm are Heliot Ramos and Joey Bart.  For a team that needs to get younger, more athletic and stronger, they should be untouchable, but they aren't guys that Zaidi drafted, so does he value them as much as the previous regime and most of us do?  

Baseball's Winter Meetings are really obsolete affairs in terms of player transactions.  With modern communication and travel options, there is really no need for all of MLB management to gather in one physical location to acquire players and strike deals.  Last year, not a whole lot happened at the Winter Meetings and most of the offseason action occurred much later.  This year, a whole lot of action has already gone down.  Given the state of the Giants and how fast the hot stove heated up this year, it would be disappointing if Zaidi returns at the end of the week empty handed.  It just feels like he needs to do something fairly dramatic and different than methodically plugging holes.

Will he come away with a franchise player in Bryce Harper or Manny Machado?  Will he get an offer he can't refuse for Madison Bumgarner?  Will he go for volume and depth like he did in LA?

We'll be writing up Hot Stove Updates with as close to instant analysis as we can get while writing around a full work schedule, so stay tuned!