A Positive for Indians Fans

Cleveland Indians fans have had to see arguably the brightest star in baseball leave their organization when they traded Francisco Lindor last week for a package of prospects.  The Indians are just five seasons from being in the World Series and now are looking at a complete rebuild.  The Indians have lost an all-star team worth of talent over the last five years.  Lindor is the top of the list that also includes Carlos Carrasco, Andrew Miller, Michael Brantley, Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Santana, Mike Clevinger and Yandy Diaz.  Cleveland finds themselves behind Minnesota and Chicago in the central division and likely will not overtake them for a few years.  While the Indians have given up a lot of stars they have been able to build a young group of players as well as some financial flexibility to lock up their young talent.  

In 2020 the Indians farm system vaulted up to rank #12 overall according to ESPN and Baseball America.  Cleveland has loaded itself with young talent.  Of the Indians top ten prospects seven of them are 20 or younger (8 assuming you remove Tristan Mckenzie).  Cleveland’s top prospect Nolan Jones should see MLB time this year.  #2 ranked prospect Tyler Freeman is still a few years away but the addition of two major league ready shortstops in the trade with the Mets.  The trade with the Mets allows the Indians to allow Freeman time to continue to develop.  The Indians also have their catcher of the future in Bo Naylor.  Naylor will play behind Robeto Perez in 2021, but his time will come very soon depending on the succes of the Indians leading into the trade deadline this summer.  Cleveland unloaded most of their salary in order to reload for the future and build their team from within similarly to the way they did it leading into the 2016 system.

Cleveland has built up a great amount of roster flexibility as they watch their prospects continue to grow.  Jose Ramirez currently is the highest paid Indian at $9 million per year.  Over the next two seasons Ramirez is owed $26 million over the next two years but has a team buyout option of just $2 million.   Ramirez is just 28 years old heading into 2021 and the decision on his future could strictly come down to where the Indians are in the development of Nolan Jones, who grades out as primarily a 3rd baseman.  The financial situation in Cleveland is ideal for Cy Young winner Shane Bieber to get locked down in the near future as he is just now becoming arbitration eligible.  Bieber along with fellow pitchers Adam Plutko, Tristan McKenzie, Zac Plesac, Aaron Civale, Cal Quantril and Logan Allen are the rotation pieces of right now and the future as they are all under the age of 30 and under team control for most of the foreseeable future.  

Cleveland fans will find it tough to see the bright side to trading away their best player.  Ultimately if you just look at the pieces you have to consider it a win for the New York Mets,  While the Mets got the best two players of the trade Cleveland was able to grab two highly rated prospects, most notably pitcher Josh Wolf who will find himself as a top ten prospect in the Indians system at some point in 2021.  They also got Isiah Greene, an outfielder they had been targeting since the draft last year.  Both players are projected to be future standouts in their system.  Along with the prospects the Indians were able to get major league ready talent in Ahmed Rosario and last year’s breakout player Andres Gimenez.  Neither are on the level of Lindor but they will be solid pieces for a rebuilding team.  Gimenez grades out as a future gold glover at the position and ranks in the top 93rd percentile in speed which can at least make hima  stolen base threat.  

The Indians are a small market team that has to work with what their financials allow.  There will be some tough years ahead of the tribe but their pitching staff should be a highlight for a while and their farm system continues to grow.  The prospects they have picked up in the trades of Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger and Francisco Lindor are guys that fit their needs. If could be a lot worse in Cleveland,  just ask the Pittsburgh Pirates.  

Preview and Predictions for AL first round.

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Toronto Blue Jays

The Tampa Bay Rays took the #1 seed in the American League by playing every matchup perfectly throughout the season.  Dealing with injuries up and down the lineup and rotation they seemed to find the right mixes to be successful no matter what.  They will face an opponent that knows them very well in the Toronto Blue Jays.  

The Blue Jays have a powerful lineup, seeing a surge from Lourdes Gourriel Jr. over the last month to go along with Bo Bichette, Vlad Guerrero and Teoscar Hernandez.  Toronto actually has the advantage on the offensive side, averaging 5 runs per game.  The Blue Jays offense will be the lone advantage they have in this series.

Tampa Bay marches out a rotation of Blake Snell in GM1, Tyler Glasnow in GM2 and Charlie Morton in GM3.  Their rotation along with the best bullpen in baseball will be enough to hold down the Toronto offense.  Tampa Bay’s offense plays the matchup game very well and will be too much for the Blue Jays. Toronto’s best chance will be in game two when they have off-season signing Hyun Jin Ryu who brings some experience in a playoff setting, but the Rays have some great right-handed bats that will thrive. Rays are built for this situation. 

Pick: Rays in 2

Cleveland Indians vs. New York Yankees

The Yankees narrowly avoided a matchup with their “daddys” in 2020 the Tampa Bay Rays.  Instead they get the Cleveland Indians and potential MVP and guaranteed Cy Young winner Shane Bieber in game one.  Bieber versus Cole in game one will be a classic matchup of two bulldog pitchers that will go deep in the game and the first one to miss a spot is going to likely give up the game. The big problem for the Indians is that their lineup doesn’t feature nearly the amount of hitters that can provide the big pop when needed. 

Cleveland’s pitching will give them a chance but their team batting average of .228 and a major lack of power ranking 27th in the league in team ISO.  Jose Ramirez has carried the offense of late but he will need help against the powerful Yankee bats.  New York is healthy again and has the horses in the bullpen to clean up any trouble the starters run into.  Indians don’t have enough to pull this one out. 

Pick: Yankees in 3

Minnesota Twins vs. Houston Astros

The Twins have not won a playoff game in a very long time, losing 16 straight playoff games dating back to 2004.  This series should give the Twins their first game win and series win.  The Astros have dealt with a loss of injuries in 2020, yet somehow found themselves in the playoff due the new expansion. Houston has been offensively challenged at times in 2020.  Recently seeing a resurgence of power with George Springer and Alex Bregman.  Still the Astros have a team ISO ranking 18th in the league and team batting average of .240 ranking 20th in the league.  

Minnesota has the advantage with their rotation for the first two games going with Kenta Maeda and Jose Berrios in the first two games.  At this point the Astros have only announced Zack Greinke as their game one starter with the other TBD.  Minnesota loves right handed pitching, as a team they are #1 in the league in overall home run percentage versus righties.  That is a big factor in the Minnesota offense as they are a team that thrives on scoring runs due to the long ball.  

The Astros haven’t announced who will start game 2 or game 3 yet, my money would go on Framber Valdez to offset Minnesota’s dominant numbers against right handed pitching. The Twins have more depth in the bullpen, rotation and lineup.  They have to get over the mental hump of consistent playoff losses.  They have the talent and should make quick work of the injury riddled Houston Astros. 

Pick: Twins in 2

Oakland Athletics vs Chicago White Sox

I’ve reviewed the Oakland Athletics numbers over and over again and still can’t figure out how the Athletics score runs.  Horrible seasons from Matt Olson, Khris Davis, Marcus Semien and Ramon Laureano, coupled with losing Matt Chapman for the season has left the lineup underwhelming. The pitching staff has stepped up to mask the offensive problems.  The Athletics bullpen has been impressive, leading to the Athletics having a record of 27-0 when leading after the 7th inning.  Liam Hendricks, Yusmeiro Petit, and Jake Diekmann have been lights out for the Athletics all season.  

The Athletics are going to go with Sean Manaea in game one despite the immaculate White Sox record against left-handed pitching. Breakout starter Chris Bassit will likely pitch game 2. Oakland is going to have to get a lead early and that will be tough against the White Sox top two starters Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel. 

The White Sox offense is better in nearly every single position bat for bat and if they are able to grab a lead I can’t see the Athletics offense being able to come back.   Chicago has found a niche in the back end with Alex Colome being set up by Matt Foster, Aaron Bummer and their new weapon rookie Garrett Crochet.  The White Sox have more talent and better pitching.  The Athletics have the experience.  The talent will win out in a short series.  

Klub and MadBum

The title to this blog would make for a great CBS sitcom.  I could see the commercials now, an odd couple of sorts changing cities in order to change their lives…maybe for the better?  Madison Bumgarner and Corey Kluber are two potential aces that have switched teams in the offseason. The theme of the 2019 Winter meeting seems to center around pitching.  With Strasburg and Cole signing massive contracts they have overshadowed the mometus moves by both the Diamondbacks and Rangers in order to bolster their staffs. The question I have is who really made the better move??

Bumgarner helps in more ways than one.

The Diamondbacks agreed to a five-year $85 million contract over the weekend.  Bumgarner will join a rotation that features Merrill Kelly, Luke Weaver, Mike Leake, Zac Gallen, Alex Young and Robbie Ray.  With Madbum that makes for seven names for five spots. MLB trade rumors is suggesting that the pickup of Bumgarner means that Robbie Ray will be on his way out in Arizona.  If that happens, did the Diamondbacks really improve themselves? Surprisingly to most Bumgarner just turned 30 years old in August, a five year deal will not have him pitching into the twilight of his career. Bumgarner’s 3.2 WAR immediately puts him at the top of the starting pitchers for the D-Backs.  

Rotation WAR

Robbie Ray 2.0

Luke Weaver 1.8

Merrill Kelly 1.5

Zac Gallen .8

Alex Young .4

The Diamondbacks now have a proven starter at the top of their rotation. They addition of Bumgarner makes the trade market for Robbie Ray a lot better.   The impending free agent has the upside to miss bats that most contending teams are going to want to acquire. Arizona has pitching depth in the minor league system so moving Ray with the addition of Bumgarner will allow Arizona to get the depth the need at first base or the outfield.  The signing of Bumgarner has opened up the possibilities for Arizona, they improved their #1 starter and opened up the market for to continue improving their roster.  

Rangers get an Ace

The Texas Rangers have made their counter move in the stacked AL West adding former Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber for basically some guys on a spreadsheet.  This deal seemed like a recreation of the Moneyball scene where Jonah Hill and Brad Pitt just threw out a few names to pick up a reliever.  

The Cleveland Indians picked up Delino Deshields Jr. and Emmanuel Clase. Clase is the player that brings the most interest in this trade. Clase is a 21 years old and possesses potential dominant stuff including a 100 MPH cutter.  Clase projects as a future relief option for the Indians. He still has only reached the High A level but immediately jumps into the top 30 prospect list for Cleveland. 

Now let’s talk about what the Rangers got in Corey Kluber.  The Rangers had starting pitching issues all season in 2019 and they were set on reworking their rotation.  Kluber has become the marquee name along with Jordan Lyles and Kyle Gibson. Those three will join Mike Minor and Lance Lynn making a rotation that can immediately make an impact in the loaded AL West. Kluber is coming off a lost season, dealing with multiple stints on the injured list but the upside he brings is well worth what is ultimate cost was.  While the Indians found him expendable the Rangers have a chance to push themselves into the playoff hunt with a healthy new ace of the staff. We tend to forget that 2018 Kluber won 20 games and added a 5.5WAR.  

Who did better?

Arizona and Texas both have tough divisions to deal with.  The NL West is still the Dodgers and the AL West is still the Astros until further notice.  Both teams were able to add impact starters for little cost. I am going to call Diamondbacks the winner of these two trades  Bumgarner allows the flexibilty to fill in any and all needs they may have. Kluber is a huge move for the Rangers but they still have a lot of work to do to contend for even a wild card spot in the American League.  If the D-Backs decide to hold on to Ray or move Ray they should have the rotational pieces that will make them a force to contend with in the National League.

MLB DFS Breakdown: Sept 17

Pitcher Spotlight- Marco Gonzalez, Seattle Mariners

Marco Gonzalez will be a popular play at his low cost of $6.3K.  There are multiple factors for that.  His low cost will allow you to pay up for secondary pitching options or collect the top bats on the slate.  

Gonzalez’s matchup is a juicy one in Pittsburgh versus a Pirates lineup that will not have two of its key hitters in Starling Marte and Josh Bell. Without the key cogs in the middle of the order completely changes the look of the Pittsburgh lineup.  Placing Erik Gonzalez and Melky Cabrera in their places.  Marco is a cost play versus a watered-down lineup, but his upside is ideal in this situation.

Top Stacks- Arizona Diamondbacks, Minnesota Twins, Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians

Focus: Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks will be an under owned potential stack.  The matchup with Caleb Smith is a solid one for the righties.  Smith has given up a .250 ISO versus righties on the season as well as over a +1.30 road ERA.  The focus of the lineup build should be the affordable pieces Christian Walker and Adam Jones at just $3.6K. Add on the perspective power/speed of Ketel Marte at $5.2K and you have a solid mini stack.  

Focus: Cleveland Indians

Cleveland will matchup with Spencer Turnbull but seems to be priced as if they are matching up with a stronger starter.  Mathew Boyd was the original starter for Detroit, DraftKings did not seem to price the change correctly. Getting Franmil Reyes and Roberto Perez for a combined $7.K are bargains if that allow you to complete the three-man stack along with the high-priced Francisco Lindor. 

Sneaky Stack: Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays have a chance to break the slate against Chandler Shepherd, former Red Sox farm hand that spent his 2019 getting blistered in AAA.  Shepherd has an 8.55xFIP before being cast to Baltimore.  The Toronto hitters are all affordable outside of Bo Bichette and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Combining the power potential of Vlad Jr. and Randall Grichuck seems like the most ideal point per dollar plays. 

P: Marco Gonzalez, Seattle Mariners, $6,300

P: Yu Darvish, Chicago Cubs, $11,200

C: Roberto Perez, Cleveland Indians, $3,600

1B: Christian Walker, Arizona Diamondbacks, $3,600

2B: Ketel Marte, Arizona Diamondbacks, $5,200

3B: Vlad Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays, $3,900

SS: Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians, $4,800

OF: Franmil Reyes, Cleveland Indians, $3,500

OF: Adam Jones, Arizona Diamondbacks, $3,600

OF: Randall Grichuck, Toronto Blue Jays, $4,300

MLB DFS August 5 2019

Pitcher Spotlight- Charlie Morton at home is the way to go.

The top two pitchers for the slate are Lucas Giolito and Charlie Morton.  Giolito has the better matchup against the high strikeout rated Detroit Tigers.  Morton gets the nod for me facing the free-swinging Toronto Blue Jays at the Trop.  Morton has been great all season, he has excelled at home.  Over Morton’s last ten starts he has struck out at least ten in 8 of those games. The Blue Jays have legit power in their lineup, but they don’t walk much so the power can be limited as well as it can be negated by the potential K’s.  

Stack I’m looking at: Cleveland Indians

This is a gamble against Mike Minor.  The Indians have been one of the hottest teams in the league and Minor has been on a second half decline.  Minor has given up four runs or more in each of his last four starts.  The Indians will also be a low owned stacked with guys like Mike Montgomery, Merrill Kelly and Rick Porcello on the mound.  I am going to target the middle of the order with Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor and of course the lefty masher Jordan Luplow. You can fit them in at an affordable cost.

Stackable Teams: Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays

JD Martinez is a must start against Mike Montgomery whom has been a gas can all season. JD’s stats versus lefties are elite on all levels.  If you can fit him in with Morton and some nice smaller stacks around him, you are looking at a cashable lineup.

Sneaky Stack: Milwaukee Brewers

Moustakas is too cheap on this slate. The Brewers have a nice potential night versus a high contact pitcher in the Pirates Agrazal.  He gives up a nice hard contact and ISO versus left-handed power bats.

P: Charlie Morton, Tampa Bay Rays, $10,700

P: Eric Fedde, Washington Nationals, $5,600

C: James McCann, Chicago White Sox, $3,400

1B: Ryan O’Hearn, Kansas City Royals, $3,000

2B: Mike Moustakas, Milwaukee Brewers, $4,200

3B: Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians, $4,800

SS: Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians, $5,400

OF: Jordan Luplow, Cleveland Indians, $4,400

OF: JD Martinez, Boston Red Sox, $5,100

OF: Sam Travis, Boston Red Sox, $3,400

AL Central Preview

Cleveland Indians:

Key Additions: Jake Bauers, Carlos Santana, Jordan Luplow

The Cleveland Indians made some interesting moves in the offseason.  Unloading the power of Edwin Encarnacion and the often-injured Michael Brantley were moves made to change up the culture of the Indians locker room, while also making sure to free up money to sign franchise cornerstones Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor for the long term.

Their open negotiations on moving starting pitchers was surprising to say the least.  Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber were openly being discussed in the market, ultimately the Indians decided to hold on to their top two rotation pieces. Making them the favorites for the 2019 season. 

The Indians still have the best rotation in the division.  Brad Hand will take over the closing duties for another departing star Cody Allen, overall the bullpen is still solid.  The biggest worry I have for the Indians would be their depth in the outfield.  They have great speed but no real established major league stars.  The projected starters are currently Jake Bauers, Leonys Martin, and Tyler Naquin.  The Indians will be putting a lot of pressure on their stars in a lineup that is does not have the depth is has had in past years.

Minnesota Twins:

Key Additions: Marwin Gonzalez, Nelson Cruz, CJ Cron, Jonathon Schoop

The Twins have quietly become the most improved team in this division and its not even close.  A team that ranked 23rd in the league in homers last year added some serious pop to their lineup.  Nelson Cruz and CJ Cron immediately give them two players that can hit over 30 homers backing up Eddie Rosario and hopefully a resurgent Miguel Sano. Fellow additions veterans Jonathon Schoop and super utility man Marwin Gonzalez gives the Twins some serious depth on the infield. 

Offensively there is a lot to like about Minnesota going into 2019.  To overcome the Indians though they will need more production at the very top of the order.  A healthy Jorge Polanco and Byron Buxton are the best bets to take over the lead off role.  If Minnesota can put people on base consistently they could be looking at a top ten offensive club.

The biggest questions will be the starting pitching behind stud Jose Berrios.  Minnesota fans will hope to see Michael Pineida take the mound during the season fresh off his Tommy John surgery.  The former Yankee and Mariner has shown glimpses of what could be before his injury, if he is able to step in and help solidify a rotation with a lot of promise this team will not only take of the central but potentially be a contender in the American League.

Detroit Tigers

Key Additions: Jordy Mercer, Josh Harrison

Can someone please make a deal for Nicolas Castellanos??? The Detroit Tigers are not ready to contend, and this guy is too good of a hitter to waste his prime years in Detroit in what is a forever rebuild.  The Tigers have some players that are going to be fun to watch, Jeimer Canderlario, Niko Goodrum and Christian Stewart will all get the opportunity to show the organization what they have this season but that shouldn’t make a huge difference in their overall record.

With a core of veterans like Miguel Cabrera, Jordan Zimmerman and the newly signed Josh Harrison the tigers will be competitive early in the season but it’s time for them to fully commit to their rebuild.  They need to move on from all of their older players and help build their farm system that currently ranks in the middle of the pack.  If the Tigers are smart they will also move their lone pitching star Michael Fulmer while he still has solid value.

Kansas City Royals:

Key Additions: Brad Boxberger, Terrance Gore, Billy Hamilton

The 2019 Kansas City Royals are going to be fun to watch.  An adrenaline rush of energy from almost every spot in the lineup.  With the addition of Billy Hamilton to go along with Whit Merrifield, Alberto Mondesi and Terrance Gore the Royals are going to be tough for opposing pitchers and catchers. 

The Royals have begun the rebuild of their farm system bringing themselves from worst in the league to 27th ranked.  While not a huge upgrade moving up four spots in farm system rankings in just one year is very impressive.  The Royals don’t have much pitching depth in the rotation or bullpen but their great defense and unique offense should help them pull out victories in 2019.

Chicago White Sox:

Key Additions: Kelvin Herrara, Yonder Alonso, Jon Jay, Ivan Nova

I want to say I feel bad for the White Sox for losing out on Manny Machado but when you sign players to help you bring in the guy you want to build around you put yourself in a tough situation. The Sox still have a great core of young players Yoan Moncada, Eloys Jimenez, Dylan Case and Michael Kopech.  They are still looking for the player to finalize the rebuild.

The 2019 White Sox will still be bottom dwellers but there is at least excitement in the works for Chicago’s second favorite team. The pickup of proven major league player like a Yonder Alonso, Ivan Nova and Jon Jay will give them potential trade chips when the trade deadline hits.  Chicago has its core but is still a few years away from being a true contender.

Projected standings:

  1. Minnesota Twins
  2. Cleveland Indians
  3. Chicago White Sox
  4. Kansas City Royals
  5. Detroit Tigers

I think that the Twins have done enough to improve their offense to take the American League Central.  This is a two team race between the Twins and the Indians.  The battle for third place in the division will also be a battle for the worst record in the American League.

Under Radar Free Agents

Adam Jones

Adam Jones is coming off the worst season of his professional career.  A 0.2WAR by far the lowest of his career came while his team was putting together a historic season alongside him.  The Orioles finished the season at 47-115 an astounding 61 games behind the first place Red Sox.  Jones will enter the season at 33 years old, his best days offensively and defensively behind him. But is he really not worth a look in spring training by a contending team in need of some outfield help?

Jones hasn’t been the all-star he was from 2012-2015 but he still has brought production to the table over the last three seasons.  Jones has shown power over the last three season combining for a total of 70 homers and never hitting below .265 in those three seasons. Jones also brings in league average OPS at a career mark of .779.  He has been a leader in the Baltimore club house and is respected around baseball.  Never more notably then the leadership he brought to team USA in the world baseball classic.

While he is not the based sabermetric center fielder defensively, Jones still has the ability to play all three positions. 

Teams that should consider:

New York Mets- Lagares can’t hit and Broxton hasn’t shown anything in the majors yet.

Cleveland Indians- after losing so much this off season the Indians could use some more pop and another veteran bat to sell to the fans.  Leonys Martin is not the answer.

Josh Harrison

Josh Harrison is coming off a subpar season that was marred by injuries.  Playing in only 97 games in 2018 Harrison’s productivity was not where the Pirates wanted it to be, leading to a buyout of his contract.  Harrison now sits in the wasteland of free agents.

The 31-year old utility player brings plus defense to two different positions 2b and 3b. The 2017 All-Star can bring a dynamic player off the bench for multiple playoff contenders.  In an age of versatility being a great attribute Harrison would be a perfect fit on multiple teams. 

Teams that should consider:

New York Yankees- having a player whom can come in defensively for Miguel Andujar would be a perfect fit in the late innings. His speed can also be valuable in late inning situations.

Milwaukee Brewers- This one is a bit of a stretch but he would be an upgrade over Hernan Perez because of his experience and great club house demeanor.  He could replace the underrated Eric Sogard in a utility infield role.

Tony Sipp

I have been preaching the effectiveness of Tony Sipp all off season. Sipp had a 1.86 ERA in 38 innings last season with the Houston Astros. This included a home ERA of .90 in the hitter friendly Minute Maid Park.

Sipp was as good as it gets versus lefties in 2018 holding them to a slash line of .191/.263/.294. While Sipp hasn’t had as storied a career as the players a previously spoke of he is coming off of a great season and is currently ranked as the second best reliever still on the market behind Craig Kimbrel. 

Teams that should consider-

Anyone and everyone.  I lefty specialist is not easy to find.  Sipp would fill in that role for any contending team that is worried about the left side of their bullpen.  He is going to be cheap to.