Sunday, November 24, 2013

What Can Brian McCann Do For The Yankees

Yankee fans everywhere are chiming in on the recent announcement that the New York Yankees signed former Atlanta Braves starting catcher and 7-time All Star Brian McCann. The deal will be a five-year contract worth $85 million in salary, with a sixth-year option that could bring the total to $100 million. The average annual salary for the deal is $17 million which represents the highest for any free-agent catcher in history. McCann will be in Pinstripes until 2018 at the minimum. I'm going to try to look at this trade objectively since while I write this post, I'm still undecided on this signing. First the positive side of the deal.

McCann greatly improves the Catcher position for the Yankees. According to Bryan Hoch in his article McCann, Yankees agree to five-year deal dated November 24, 2013 from
With general manager Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi agreeing to try their defense-first catching alignment, the Yanks' backstops produced an overall line of .213/.289/.298 with only eight home runs and 43 RBIs
I believe that level of production from Chris Stewart, Austin Romine and Francisco Cervelli ranked last in the league from the catching position. McCann's slash line in 102 games last season .256/.336/.461 with 20 homeruns and 57 RBIs. The short porch of Yankees stadium would look large for left-handed hitting Brian McCann. His bat is definitely a welcome addition to a Yankees lineup that looked anemic at times last season.

Another positive that I see with signing McCann is the fiery nature that he brings to a team. Sure there are those who have been critical of him with his bench clearing confrontation of Carlos Gomez last season after Gomez hit a homerun against the Braves. I'll be honest, I didn't have the benefit of watching the play live, only on repeated replay. So I can't really comment on that. But I do like his intensity, which is something that I felt the team was lacking the last few seasons. Now for the negatives.

Allow me to go back to the 102 games McCann played last season. McCann's season high in games played was 145 in 2008 and only played in 140 or more games twice in his career while only playing in 128, 121 and 102 games in the seasons 2011-2013. The advantage for McCann is that he can be slotted into the DH position to give his body a rest while not removing his bat from the lineup. McCann has also been quoted as being willing to learn to play first base which could be beneficial to the Yankees with Teixiera being injury prone as of late and with the fact that Teixiera's contract is due to expire in 2016 which is half way through McCann's contract with the Yankees.

The question for McCann is this: Can he stay healthy. Only time will tell that. Another question that I have is how will McCann handle playing in New York City with its incessant media coverage of the good AND bad of a ballplayer's production and playing time. Again, only time will tell that.

I know McCann is a productive, if not a solid player. I should be excited with the signing of a 29-year old Catcher who (in theory) is just entering his prime, productive years. But I just don't have the excitement that some have with the signing. As it is, I was already feeling down on the team with all the talk of signing Carlos Beltran and Jhonny Peralta (who thankfully signed with the Cardinals for 4-years, $52-million dollars). It just doesn't seem that the organization has learned its lessons on trying to put together a team full of veteran all-stars and expecting them to deliver now. I'm in the minority that feels that the team need to sacrifice a year or two and try to rebuild the core through youth. To think of the future, not just the now. But what do I know. I write on blogger and work in a bar. So go figure.

Sisco Kid

For Further Reading
- Click Here to access Brian McCann's career statistics from Baseball
- Click Here to read Alex Speier's article Agent B.B. Abbott: Brian McCann Willing to Learn First Base to Increase Playing Time from the WEEI Full Count website dated November 21, 2013 
- Click Here to read Joshua Ryan's article 2014 MLB Free Agent Profile: Brian McCann from Amazin' Avenue/SBNation dated October 29, 2013

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Prince Fielder Traded to Texas For Ian Kinsler

The Baseball world is buzzing with the reports of the Detroit Tigers trading their starting first baseman Prince Fielder to the Texas Rangers for the Rangers' second baseman Ian Kinsler.'s Richard Durrett reports that the trade was made official Wednesday evening. As part of the deal, the Tigers are sending $30 million to Texas to offset Fielder's contract. The only thing holding up the trade is the passing of the physicals of the players involved. First let me address the Texas Rangers.

It would seem to me that the Texas Rangers have missed having a first baseman of Prince Fielder's caliber since they traded Mark Teixiera to the Atlanta Braves during the 2007 season. Fielder's presence in the lineup will be felt in the form of protection for third baseman Adrian Beltre. Fielder moves into a much more hitter friendly park in Arlington than in Comerica. The trade is even more important that in sending Kinsler to Detroit, the move opens the door for a permanent position for Rangers prospect Jurikson Profar. As I noted in my post Elvis Got Paid from April 1, 2013, the signing of shortstop Elvis Andrus to a long term deal created a logjam in the middle infield that could be remedied with either a move to first by Kinsler or a trade. Now we know the answer. Back to Fielder.

I keep seeing reports that the Rangers might still be in the running to sign Robinson Cano. After picking up the remaining $138-million dollars on Fielder's 7-year $168-million contract (the Tigers will send $30-million) I can't see the Rangers adding an extra $30-million a season to sign Cano long term. I think their infield is set for the next two seasons as Beltre would become a free agent after the 2015 season. Why would the Tigers trade Prince Fielder at this point in time?

I believe that it comes down to playoff performance. Granted that having Fielder in the lineup gave two-time defending American League MVP protection in the lineup that he might not have next season, but Fielder's numbers during the season seemed to take a dip since he joined the Tigers and his numbers were virtually non-existent in the postseason. Fielder's slash line for 2012 was .313/.412/.528 with 30 homers, 108 RBI, 182 hits (35 2B/1 3B/30HR), 85 walks and 84 strikeouts in 162 games. His slash line for 2013 dropped to .279/.362/.457 with 25 homers 106 RBI, 174 hits (36 2B/0 3B/25 HR), 75 walks and 117 strikeouts in 162 games. In five postseason series for the Tigers in 2012-2013, Fielder went 18 for 92 for a .195 batting average with just 1 homer, 1 double and 3 RBI, with 6 walks and 18 strikeouts. Fielder did not drive in a run in the 2012 World Series or in either playoff series for the Tigers in 2013. This would lead me to believe that his lack of production in the postseason overshadowed the benefit of having him in the lineup protecting Miguel Cabrera.

The move to acquire Kinsler not only frees up payroll for the Tigers, but it pairs him with shortstop Jose Iglesias giving Iglesias a veteran second baseman to work his magic with. More importantly, the move opens up some possibilities for the Tigers at first. At first I wondered who the Tigers could sign to fill in at first. Mike Napoli instantly came to mind as I noted on my Baseball Sisco Kid Style Facebook page:

The good people on my Baseball Sisco Kid Style page were quick to remind me something that I had forgotten: Miguel Cabrera was already a first baseman and willingly moved to third when the Tigers signed Fielder after the 2011 season. So I guess that takes care of first base. But what about third? I suggested that maybe the Tigers could make a deal with the San Diego Padres for their third baseman Chase Headley or signing free agent Juan Uribe. My friend Christopher was quick to point out that the Tigers have third base prospect Nick Castellanos waiting in the wings. I had no idea who Nick Castellanos is so I decided to look into him a little.

According to Baseball, Castellanos' slash line last season at AAA Toledo was .276/.343/.450 with 18 homers and 78 RBI. In 134 games he had 147 hits (37 2B/1 3B/18 HR) with 54 walks and 100 strikeouts. The big gamble is playing him at third. In the low minors, Castellanos played third while in AAA he played the outfield. Looking at his statistics, Castellanos had 40 errors at 3B while in the outfield he only had 8 of which 6 were in AAA. Considering that Cabrera played third while not being a natural third baseman leads me to believe that the Tigers would consider playing someone who isn't a third baseman at third. Josh Slagter of the website in his article Miguel Cabrera back to 1B, Nick Castellanos to 3B? Detroit Tigers will discuss it after trade mentions:
With Fielder gone to the Texas Rangers and Detroit receiving second baseman Ian Kinsler in return, Tigers president Dave Dombrowski noted it's certainly a possibility that two-time MVP Miguel Cabrera shifts back to first base and Nick Castellanos could get a shot at playing third.
At the age of 21, Castellanos is the ranked as #11 on the's top 100 list. So we'll have to see what plays out after the first big trade of this offseason.

Sisco Kid

For Further Reading
- Click Here to access Prince Fielder's career statistics from Baseball
- Click Here to access Ian Kinsler's career statistics from Baseball
- Click Here to access Nick Castellanos career statistics from Baseball

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

2014 Hall of Fame Expansion Ballot

The National Baseball Hall of Fame recently announced that the Expansion Era Committee would vote on a special 12-man ballot that will be announced during this year's Winter Meetings on Monday, December 9 at 10 a.m. ET and those who earn votes on 75% of ballots cast will earn election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and will be inducted on Sunday, July 27, 2014 in Cooperstown, N.Y.

According to the Baseball Hall of Fame press release Twelve Finalists Comprise Expansion Era Ballot For Hall of Fame Consideration in 2014 dated November 4, 2013:
The Expansion Era ballot was devised this fall by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA)-appointed Historical Overview Committee from all eligible candidates among managers, umpires, executives and long-retired players, whose most significant career impact was realized from 1973 through the present. Eligible candidates include players who appeared in at least 10 major league seasons, who are not on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list and have been retired for 21 or more seasons (those whose last playing appearance was no later than 1992); managers and umpires with 10 or more years in baseball and retired for at least five years, with candidates who are 65 years or older eligible six months from the date of the election following retirement; and Executives with 10 consecutive years in baseball and retired for at least five years, with active executives 65 years or older are eligible for consideration.
The members of the Expansion Era Committee is one of Hall of Famers, major league executives, historians and Baseball writers. Here is the list of those who are charged with voting for the Expansion Era Ballot:
The 16-member Hall of Fame Board-appointed electorate charged with the review of the Expansion Era ballot features: Hall of Fame members Rod Carew, Carlton Fisk, Whitey Herzog, Tommy Lasorda, Joe Morgan, Paul Molitor, Phil Niekro and Frank Robinson; major league executives Paul Beeston (Blue Jays), Andy MacPhail, Dave Montgomery (Phillies) and Jerry Reinsdorf (White Sox); and historians Steve Hirdt (Elias Sports Bureau), Bruce Jenkins (San Francisco Chronicle), Jack O’Connell (BBWAA) and Jim Reeves (retired, Fort Worth Star-Telegram).
Here is the list of individuals that are up for enshrinement through the Expansion Era Ballot (click on the name to learn more about each person):
Dave Concepcion
Bobby Cox
Steve Garvey
Tommy John
Tony La Russa
Billy Martin
Marvin Miller
Dave Parker
Dan Quisenberry
Ted Simmons
George Steinbrenner
Joe Torre
I believe that the managerial trio of Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa and Joe Torre will get the necessary 75% of the vote for enshrinement. The only thing that would make a potential induction trio of Bobby Cox, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux better would be an induction quartet with John Smoltz. Alas, Smoltz becomes eligible for next year's Hall of Fame ballot. But the induction of Cox and two of the best starters of our generation who led the Atlanta Braves to that amazing run in the 1990's and mid 2000's would be an event for the ages. The Atlanta Braves under Cox won 14-straight division titles with five World Series appearances and the 1995 Championship against the Cleveland Indians.

There's no denying that Joe Torre's run as Yankees manager from 1996-2007 is the defining era of his managerial career. World Series titles in 1996, 1998-2000 plus World Series appearances in 2001 and 2003 helped to cement Joe Torre's place on this list.

Tony LaRussa's managerial style changed the game as we know it today in terms of pitching versus hitting matchups through the use of statistical analysis. LaRussa led two teams to six World Series appearances with three World Series titles (1989 Oakland Athletics, 2006 and 2011 St. Louis Cardinals).

In total Cox, LaRussa and Torre took seventeen teams to the World Series with eight World Titles among the trio. This is the reason I believe all three will be inducted with Marvin Miller who changed the face of Baseball with his role as the head of the Players' Association who helped to bring about a new era of Free Agency in Baseball. I also think George Steinbrenner has a good chance of getting the necessary votes for enshirinement.

We'll see how it plays out with the announcement on December 9th along with the vote of the main Hall of Fame Ballot by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Sisco Kid

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Scherzer and Kershaw Take The Pitching Top Honor

In an ballot that didn't surprise too many Baseball people and fans, Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers and Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers claimed the 2013 American and National League Cy Young Awards, respectively. Scherzer won the award in a landslide with 28 out of 30 first place votes for a total of 203 points. Kershaw's second Cy Young Award came in the form of an outstanding 29 out of 30 first place votes for 207 points.

The talk of Scherzer benefiting from tremendous run support thereby damaging his Cy Young chances proved to be for naught. Scherzer, who was predicted to win the award by the recently retired Tim McCarver amid laughs, finished the season with a 21-3 record with a 2.90 ERA and a league leading WHIP of 0.970. In 32 games started Scherzer struck out league second best 240 batters (Yu Darvish 277) with only walking 56 and giving up 152 hits in 214.1 innings pitched. Opposing hitters hit .198. In doing so, Scherzer became the sixth pitcher since 1900 to finish the season the season with 20+ wins and 3 losses or less joining Cliff Lee (2008 Indians 22-3), Roger Clemens (2001 Yankees 20-3), David Cone (1988 Mets 20-3), Ron Guidry (1978 Yankees 25-3) and Preacher Roe (1951 Dodgers 22-3). Scherzer is also the fourth member of the Detroit Tigers to win the American League Cy Young Award along with teammate Justin Verlander (2011), Denny McClain (1968, 1969) and Willie Hernandez (1984).

The AL Cy Young vote is also interesting since the other runner ups were Yu Darvish and Hisashi Iwakuma. Both pitchers started their careers in the Nippon Professional Baseball League (NPB) with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters (Darvish) and the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes and the Rakuten Golden Eagles (Iwakuma). NPB alum Koji Uehara also received second and third place votes for his dominating performance for the Red Sox in their run for the World Series. Their performance will only help to put to rest the misconception that the Japanese league pitchers can't perform at the perceived higher level of the Major Leagues and their different sized ball. It should be interesting to see how the performances of Darvish, Iwakuma and Uehara affect the posting and bidding for pitchers like Masahiro Tanaka of the Rakutan Golden Eagles this offseason.

In the National League, Kershaw made history in becoming the second Los Angeles Dodger pitcher to win multiple Cy Young Awards joining Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (1963, 1965 and 1966). Kershaw now has two Cy Young Awards in only his sixth season at the Major League level. Kershaw did so in dominating fashion by ranking first in ERA (1.83), WAR (7.9), WHIP (0.915) and strikeouts (232) and finishing second in innings pitched (236). Kershaw finished with a 16-9 record with a 1.83 ERA and a WHIP 0.915. He struckout 232 batters while walking only 52 and giving up 164 hits in 236 innings pitched. Kershaw has lead the National League in ERA and WHIP for the third straight season.

In winning his second Cy Young award, Kershaw joins Roy Halladay (2003, 2010), Tim Lincecum (2008, 2009) and Johan Santana (2004, 2006) as the only active pitchers with multiple Cy Young awards. Adam Wainright came in second in the Cy Young voting with young superstars Jose Fernandez and Matt Harvey coming in third and fifth respectively.

Kershaw is among the eight(1956), Don Drysdale (1962), Mike Marshall (1974), Fernando Valenzuela (1981), Orel Hershiser (1988) and Eric Gagne in (2003)
Dodger pitchers to have won the Cy Young awards. Along with the aforementioned three time winner Sandy Koufax you have Don Newcombe

The only award left is the American and National League Most Valuable League awards. Where I've felt that the end-year voting has not been surprising, I believe that the National League MVP award will be the surprising one. I think that either Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamonbacks or Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates will win the award over Yadier Molina. We'll see after 6pm my prediction comes true or if Yadier Molina is the 2013 National League MVP. In the American League, I believe Miguel Cabrera will become the first repeat American League MVP since Frank Thomas of the Chicago White Sox won the award in 1993 and 1994.

Sisco Kid.

For Further Reading
- Click Here to access Max Scherzer's career statistics from Baseball Reference
- Click Here to access Clayton Kershaw's career statistics from Baseball Reference
- Click Here to access the breakdown of the American League Cy Young vote from the BBWAA website
- Click Here to access the breakdown of the National League Cy Young vote from the BBWAA website

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Francona and Hurdle Win Their First Manager of the Year Awards

The Manager of the Year awards for the American and National leagues were announced yesterday with Terry Francona of the Cleveland Indians and Clint Hurdle of the Pittsburgh Pirates winning the awards. Francona had 16 of 30 first place votes for 112 points in a tightly packed ballot. Hurdle had 25 of 20 first place votes for 140 points.

Francona in his first season at the helm of the Cleveland Indians led the team to a 92-70 record and a Wild Card berth. The Indians would eventually end up losing to the Tampa Bay Rays in the Wild Card playoff game. Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell received 12 first place votes for a total of 96 points in leading the Boston Red Sox to a World Series title after finishing in last place of the American League East last season. Bob Melvin of the Oakland Athletics came in third with 36 points.

Hurdle led the Pirates to a 94-68 record in the National League Central which was not only good enough for a National League Wild Card berth but also the 20-year losing season streak in Pittsburgh was broken. The Pirates defeated their division rival Cincinnati Reds in the Wild Card playoff game and lost in five games to the eventual National League champion St. Louis Cardinals.

What I find interesting about the vote is that Hurdle didn't win the award unanimously. Don Mattingly of the Los Angeles Dodgers came in second with 68 points (2-first place votes) and Fredi Gonzalez of the Atlanta Braves third with 43 votes (3-first place votes). I know people have different points of view, but leading a team to an impressive record, a second round playoff spot AND breaking a 20-year losing record streak translates to an unanimous Manager of the Year showing. But that's just me.

I'm not disappointed in the least with the winners of the Manager of the Year awards. If Farrell or Melvin would have won, I still wouldn't be disappointed. The three top managers in the American League Manager of the Year award ballot did an amazing job with leading their respective teams to winning records during the 2013 season.

Tomorrow is when the Cy Young Awards are announced. The finalists for the American League Cy Young are Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers, Hisashi Iwakuma of the Seattle Mariners and Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers. In the National League, Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins, Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals are the NL Cy Young finalists. It should be interesting to see who wins.

Sisco Kid

For Further Reading:
- Click Here to access the breakdown of the American League Manager of the Year vote from the BBWAA website
- Click Here to access the breakdown of the National League Manager of the Year vote from the BBWAA website

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Florida Rookie Sweep

With the announcement of the first end of the year awards in Major League Baseball, Wil Myers of the Tampa Bay Rays and Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins have won the American and National League Rookie of the Year awards respectively. This is the third Rookie of the Year award for the Rays in the last six years (Evan Longoria 2008 and Jeremy Hellickson 2011) This is the fourth Rookie of the Year award in the last eleven years for the Marlins (Dontrelle Willis 2003, Hanley Ramirez 2006, Chris Coghlan 2009). This isn't surprising coming from two franchises who do amazingly well when it comes to developing young talent often at the expense of said talent who (with the exception of Evan Longoria) are often traded away for draft picks and other younger talent when they reach the latter years of their rookie contracts.

According to the Baseball Writers Association of America, the voting for the Rookie of the Year is done in the following manner:
Two writers from each MLB city are recommended by the local chapter chairman and approved by the national secretary-treasurer to vote for each award. Writers from NL cities vote for NL awards, and writers from AL cities vote for AL awards, making 30 voters for each award. Most traveling beat writers will vote for at least one annual award each year. In some chapters, columnists or backup writers may also vote. Any active member of the BBWAA is eligible to vote for annual awards, regardless of his or her number of years in the organization. Some Honorary members may also vote
Myers (who came to the Rays in last offseason's trade between the Royals and the Rays for James Shields) won the award with 23 first place votes for a total of 131 total points ahead of Detroit shortstop Jose Iglesias and fellow Rays teammate Chris Archer. Since his call up on June 18th, Myers hit .293/.354/.478 with 90 hits in 335 at-bats of which 23 were doubles and 13 homeruns. He drove in 53 runs, scored 50 runs while walking 33 times and striking out 91 times.

According to Adam Berry in his article Myers runs away with AL Rookie of the Year Award from dated November 11, 2013:
Myers became the first player to lead AL rookies in RBIs in fewer than 90 games since Detroit's Hoot Evers did so in 1946. He also paced AL rookies in doubles (23), extra-base hits (36) and OPS (.831), recording an overall batting line of .293/.354/.478 with 13 homers and 53 RBIs.
In addition according to the Elias Sports Bureau:
Myers is only the fourth position player to win a Rookie of the Year Award after playing fewer than 100 games, joining Willie McCovey (52 games in 1959), Bob Horner (89 in 1978) and Ryan Howard (88 in 2005).
In the Little Havana neighborhood of the city of Miami, Tampa native Jose Fernandez won the award with 26 first place votes for a total of 142 points ahead of Los Angeles Dodgers rookie standout and fellow Cuban Yasiel Puig. In  28 starts, Fernandez went 12-6, with a 2.19 ERA in 172.2 innings pitched. Fernandez struck out 187 batters while only walking 58 and giving up 111 hits for a WHIP of 0.979 and an opposing hitters batting average of .182. His 2.19 ERA was second in the National League to the Dodgers Clayton Kershaw's 1.83 and his 9.75 K's per 9 innings the second best in the league behind A.J. Burnett of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Also according to the Elias Sports Bureau:
Fernandez Was Doc-Like: Jose Fernandez won the National League Rookie of the Year Award after a season in which he went 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA for a team that lost 100 games. And did we mention that Fernandez didn't turn 21 years old until July 31? His ERA was the lowest in a season by a pitcher younger than 22 who threw at least 150 innings since Dwight Gooden had a 1.53 ERA for the Mets in 1985, his second season in the major leagues.
Fernandez joins Minnesota Twins outfielder Tony Oliva (AL 1964) and Oakland Athletics outfielder (AL 1986) as Cubans who have won a Rookie of the Year award.

The question that I would ask is if we will still see these two outstanding players in their respective Floridian uniforms once their rookie contracts end or will they be traded to other teams in the repeating circle of life that seems to be the way things are done with the Florida MLB franchises. Only time will tell.

Sisco Kid

For Further Reading:
- Click Here to access Wil Myers' career statistics from Baseball Reference
- Click Here to access Jose Fernandez's career statistics from Baseball Reference
- Click Here to access the breakdown of the American League Rookie of the Year vote from the BBWAA website
- Click Here to access the breakdown of the National League Rookie of the Year vote from the BBWAA website