Monday Morning Update: August 1—the all-Baseball edition

It’s real, and it’s fantastic

Editor’s note: Warning, all ye who enter here. Trade deadline thoughts abound, though we’re not quite at the deadline just yet. Expect an edit after 4 PM passes with a few additional thoughts….

The trade deadline has passed, so edits have been added—see which of my predictions were right and wrong, some thoughts on the last second deals, and whether we’ll see any more moves now that waivers are involved

  1. The Yankees finally sell

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Apparently, I can’t get on a plane anymore. In my past life, a federal building was taken over by a quasi-violent militia in a territory I was a news lead reporter for.

This week, I board a flight home from Ireland (more on that later) with all quiet in Yankee land.

The Chapman trade had finally been given the okay by Hal “I wish I was George” Steinbrenner, and the Nationals acquisition of Mark Melancon made it seem as though Andrew Miller, who’s long-term contract made it seem as though he could be shielded in a re-build, would, in fact, remain in the Bronx. My dad even agreed with me. Surely, we couldn’t both be wrong.

When I landed, everything was on fire. And, in a stunning turn of events, I was so, so wrong. (To be fair, I wasn’t the only one surprised—Jack Curry of YES told me a few weeks ago that he didn’t expect Miller to be moved either.)

Brian Cashman pulled a remarkable encore to the Chapman deal by shipping Miller to the Indians for outfield stud Clint Frazier pitcher Justus Sheffield, Cleveland’s first-round picks in 2013 and 2014, respectively, along with two more prospects. To review, the floundering Yankees, who had no real shot of reaching the promised land this year, just dealt two (2) closers for seven (7!) prospects including four (4!!!) top-tier youngsters. And the Yankees still have a pretty great closer in Delin Betances. Not too shabby.

I was also glad to see that Cashman didn’t let the bullpen completely suffer by adding Tyler Clippard. Obviously, the addition of Clippard, who posted just under 38 innings of relief for the Diamondbacks while allowing 18 earned runs for an era just north of 4 to accompany a WHIP of 1.3 (all courtesy of baseball-reference.com), doesn’t even put a thin layer of dirt on the hole left by Chapman and Miller, it still helps, at least a little.e

So, well done, Mr. Cashman. I’ve given the Yankees’ GM his fair share of crap over the years, playing the role of the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately, impatient Yankee fan, but this was an incredible series of moves. I’m this close to actually taking every bad word I’ve said against him back.

In fact, I’ll do it. I’ll take it all back. If he can unload an outfielder with the letter “B” as an initial by 4 PM tomorrow.

Post-Deadline Edit: Brian Cashman, you beautiful bastard! You did the damn thing! I have no choice now:

I officially take back every bad word I said about Brian Cashman this year. He turned the Yankees farm system into perhaps the best in baseball by taking two closers and an aging outfielder on the last year of a deal into 10, count em’ 10, prospects, including a few first round picks and a handful of top-100 rated youngsters.

He answered my pleas to sign “B” outfielder by dealing Carlos Beltran to Texas (and not to the Red Sox!!) for their first round pick in 2015, and was even able to move Ivan Nova. Even if he wasn’t able to move Brett “overrated” Gardner, I’m very happy with this year’s deadline.

There’s a rumor here and there that McCann could still be moved, as surely no team would touch him on waivers if the Yankees and Braves could work out a deal, but Atlanta wants a pretty penny for the Yankees, and I don’t think they’ll get it. (Which probably means a deal will be made while I’m on the train today.)

  1. Jonathan Lucroy says thanks, but no thanks

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 Cleveland thought it had made a second big move on Sunday, trading for Milwaukee catcher Johnathan Lucroy. Mr. Lucroy decided that he’d rather not go to Cleveland after all, seeing as it’s a silly place, and instead opted to exercise his no-trade clause.

This caused every Mets fan I know to have to adjust themselves a bit. “There’s a no-trade list!” they squealed “the Mets aren’t on it!!”

Sorry Mets fans, this season was never quite the beautiful carriage you thought it would be, but I think it’s about to turn into a real pumpkin. I don’t think this trade is happening. I don’t think were getting another amazin’ late season run and Nationals collapse, but rather, best case scenario, a berth int he wild card game.

PDE: Well I was right about Lucroy. But if you have to end up with a pumpkin, Jay Bruce is a pretty good one to have. 

Deadline day never seems to disappoint in Queens. Last year we had medical problems voiding a trade, a crying second baseman, and a new outfielder in Queens. This time around we had medical problems ALMOST void a trade, maybe even hange the prospects included,

  1. If Dave Dombrowski’s track record is any indicator, the Red Sox are fucked

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Now pinch hitting in the Boston slot, Mr. Tim Culverhouse 

I’ll lay this out straight. Dealin’ Dave Dombrowski is notorious for having a “win now” mentality. In Florida, he won both of his World Series with a mix of young players but also some high-profile trades that limited the Marlins in their future pursuit (having really shitty owners didn’t help that either). In Detroit, Dombrowski traded for David Price and desperately pursued bullpen help for the Tigers, while once again limiting the future pursuit of a perennial contender. I don’t think the Tigers have recovered as of yet.

So that brings us to Boston. So far, he’s acquired three relievers (for a shitload of prospects), a mediocre starter (for the top pitching prospect in the Red Sox system) and two utility guys for peanuts. But, with the Red Sox still in playoff contention, the win-now attitude could burn the bridge for Boston moving forward.

The white whale mentioned in trade rumors the past two months has been Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox. Chicago wants the Red Sox two prospects (Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benintendi) along with some pitching help. Boston has the artillery to pull off the blockbuster, but even if they acquired Sale, the price would be far too steep, and this time isn’t contending for a World Series.

Boston’s best pitcher is a knuckleballer and their second best is out of this world at home – and then just average on the road. The “ace” of the staff blows, and the bullpen really sucks too. Mortgaging the future, and the next two stars of the franchise who seem to be on the fast track to the MLB for a pitcher to make a playoff run would effectively set this team back five years. Baltimore and Toronto are better teams, and I have more faith in them in the Wildcard game than the Red Sox. Sale is a great pitcher, but the asking price is far too high and Boston isn’t that good anyways.

Bitching over, back to you Brendan.

PDE: The Sox answered Tim’s prayers and stood mostly pat at the deadline (as did the rest of the AL East’s “buyers”). Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benintendi are still on the team, but most Red Sox fans don’t seemed as thrilled as Culverhouse is. I was surprised that they didn’t do more, if only because the AL East seems so winnable this year. I guess they decided the price was too steep.

  1. The Orioles bolster the bullpen

wade miley

With Timmy’s Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays nipping at their heels , Baltimore tried to better their chances at an AL East crown by adding Mariners left-handed starter Wade Miley, who has corrected himself after an ugly  start to the season to post a respectable 3.80 ERA over 47.1 innings in eight starts. He’s not setting the world on fire, but he’ll certainly help what is a fairly weak rotation, at least a little bit.

 And a little bit of help may be all it takes in that division. Everyone loves the Blue Jays, but I don’t think you can ever truly trust a Canadian baseball or basketball team (or a hockey team, I guess, considering their lack of success as of late). And even with the Sox’ acquisition of Drew Pommeranz, there is no great rotation in the AL East, barring a last-minute move.

Call me crazy, but I have a feeling those Baltimore Birds could rise to the top this year. I’ve been wrong plenty of times before, and I may be again, but the AL East may be enough of a mess this year for them to take the division while no one is watching.

PDE: Considering the above point about the rest of the AL East standing still, I’ll keep by pick for the Orioles to take the AL East crown this year.

  1. The Midwest series

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Seeing as the hearty middle of America got a little more hearty over the weekend, could we be destined for a C-Series? Two seemingly cursed cities, Cleveland and Chicago, with the chance for the ultimate redemption. For the Indian’s, a chance to truly flip the city’s script and turn it into the nuvo-Boston City of Champions.

On the Cubs side? Only the most famous live-stock related curse of all time.

Honestly, any baseball fan should be rooting for this series. Both teams are pretty stacked, have some fun pieces, and would match-up well. I’m sure there will be plenty of hand-wringing over the ratings two Midwest towns would draw when the fall Classic stacks up against the big bad NFL.

Perhaps the ratings would suffer, as that’s been the trend as of late, but I really think the magic of a potential Cubs curse ender would bouy the ratings.

PDE: The Indians are truly going for it, and were recognized by many around the league as one of the big winners of the trade deadline, especially among the buyers.

Now that the Yankees are well and truly dead, I feel my AL-loyalties creeping towards the Tribe, despite their even worse than the Redskins logo. I’ve had a soft spot for Terry Francona ever since the Boston media felt the need to bludgeon him with a baseball bat over a non-existent pill addiction after his time with the Red Sox.

It sure would be nice to see him add a playoff series win over the Sox to his resume, if the stars were to align.

  1. Paging even-year magic

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 Now, I said above that “every” baseball fan should be rooting for a Cleveland-ChiTown World Series, and that may have been overstating it a bit. Obviously the fans teams with legimite shots at the title, or even a playoff berth, will be, and should be, root-root-rooting for the home team.

Enter the San Francisco Giants. The winners of ever other World series stand alone atop the NL West, 2.5 games above Golden State rival Los Angeles, but have also stood pat recently, eschewing a move (at least so far) for any of the big name (or smaller name relievers on the market.)

As I type this, there’s still a somewhat decent amount of time until the trade deadline, so maybe GM Bobby Evans will make a move, but as of now, there’s nothing to speak of. Maybe he’s banking on that aforementioned (yes, I’m an English major) even-year magic, but seeing as his main completion added Melancon, that’s an awfully bold gamble.

PDE: The Giants let 4 PM pass them by with just a trade for Matt Moore, so what you see is what you get with the Bay-siders this year. I don’t think the roster has what it takes, but there are some serious performers in that clubhouse, incuding a pair of guys in the starting rotation who have been lights out when the temperature starts to drop, so what do I really know?

  1. One more thought on the Yankees’ moves

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I couldn’t write an all-baseball piece with as many mentions of the Red Sox as there are of the Yankees, so I had to add a few extra thoughts here.

Ever since Chapman not so subtlety hinted that he may return to New York, my gears have been turning with the idea of the Evil Empire convincing the flamethrowing lefty to return as a free agent come this offseason.

Now, other teams have gotten excited about this idea before (see: Boston and John Lester) and obviously Chapman is wise to, if nothing else, make it seem as though the Yankees and their deep pockets are still in the running. But still. Just imagine if the Yankees could flip him for that boatload of prospects, only to bring him back a few months later.

It might be the devil’s greatest trick yet.

PDE: So, about all these talks of the Yankees as a superteam. 

It’s why everyone hates the Yankees. Sign all of the big names to gargantuan contracts under the bright lights. Some won’t be able to hack it or will get injured, and plenty won’t live up to the value of the contract. But with the volume of valuable prospects that could developed or traded and all those $teinbrenner dollars about to be freed up, the Yankees should be able to add enough pieces that the misses won’t matter as much.

They’ll get all the press, and have players on the cover of magazines. They’ll get booed in every road stadium that isn’t Tampa or Baltimore, and I’ll catch hell for wearing Yankees gear in Boston. The rich will get richer. The more things change the more they stay the same.

I may hate all that in real life, but I’m perfectly fine with it when it comes to my baseball teams. Evil Empire forever.

  1. Let’s go Sale-ing

chris sale

There was a lot of talk this week about White Sox ace Chris Sale. Sale, if you’re not familiar, is an absolute stud and arguably the best pitcher in baseball not named Clayton Kershaw.

He’s also kind of a crazy person.

You may remember that back in Spring Training, Sale made some serious headlines when he went to bat for now-retired teammate Adam LaRoche in that weird battle over LaRoche’s son’s aces, or lack there of, to the team. Now, he apparently gave the Sox’ blue retro jerseys the Jason Voorhees treatment, in the most tempter-tantrum-esque performance in recent memory. Seriously, what grown man takes a pair of scissors to the entire team’s jersey’s?

So yeah, Sale is definitely crazy. But if there’s a right kind of crazy, Sale might be it. He’s obviously fiercely, even psychotically, competitive and loyal to his teammates. That’s the kind of crazy you might want.

And sometimes, it takes a little crazy to make a lot of greatness. Just ask Bob Dylan.

EDP: Despite some breathless Twitter updates, Sale, and teammate Jose Quintania, remained on the South Side of Chicago remained on the South Side of Chicago after the deadline passed. Neither I, nor many other people watching the White Sox, have any idea what owner Jerry Reinsdorf is doing. The team has some of the most important tools for a success in this day and age, but the rest of the team is just spare parts. Every year, they end the campaign in middling position, while rumors fly about some of their best assets, but they rarely move. Eventually, Chicago needs to either go for it or give up.

  1. Is the pitching bubble about to burst?

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Allow me to step into the hot take booth for just a moment here before we wrap it up.

Are we in a bit of a pitching bubble in baseball right now? I’d say yes. Just look at the trade deadline. As we’ve discussed already, the Yankees got a lucky 7 total prospects for 2 relievers. Not even starters.

And when you look at the starters that have been traded so far, it’s been even more alarming. At this point, no starters the likes of Chapman or Miller have been dealt yet, but look at the trades that have happened. Andrew Cashner of all people netted the Marlin’s second-best prospect, while Lucas Harrell, you know, that guy who hasn’t even thrown 30 innings yet, was swapped for a top tranked middle infielder. In case you were unaware, Harrell was in Korea last year. Not exactly a stud, but he got traded for someone who projects to be.

Teams are building around pitching right now, and rightfully so. But in any sport, when one style of team building or play becomes dominant, my (admittedly very meager) money-ball senses start tingling, and I can’t help but wonder if a smart GM can’t build a team out of a powerful offense in what’s currently a pretty under-valued market.

It would be a huge risk, but I would love to see a team with some high-risk, high-reward pitching talent take a chance and use it to load up on some big guns and try to outscore everybody. If nothing else, it would be plenty of fun to watch.

PDE: Let’s put this in realistic terms, using the Yankees deals from the past few weeks. First, they traded Aroldis Chapman, who may be the most talented reliever in baseball but is only under contract for about four more months. Then they traded Beltran, the best hitter on their team and a consistent playoff performer.

Chapman netted four worthwhile pieces in return, including a top-notch middle infielder, a reliever with a history of modest success in the Bronx, and a pair of outfield prospects. Beltran, meanwhile, netted a much younger prospect (who, to bring a dose of cynicsm to the deal, has struggled so far in high A-ball) and a pair of minor prospects.

There’s no doubting that Chapman has a higher value than Beltran. But considering both guys are under contract for the same length of time, is he really that much more valuable?

The market’s answer was yes. But I’m not so sure that’s the right answer. Like I said, there’s value still to be found here.

 

You can follow Brendan Murray on Twitter at @MurraySportTalk

 

 

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