July 28th, 2014

Where’s The Beef?

Does it concern you that we are seeing a reduction in scoring by a number of teams in baseball? I think fans really like offense more than a great pitcher’s dual or stellar defense. Maybe not the diehard fans like us, but the people that might see one or two games a year on television or at the closest ball park. They want offense. No doubt, I think the triple is the most exciting play in baseball. But offense seems to be taking a back seat. There are some calling for an elimination of the defensive shift as a way to increase offense. I disagree. I think the offense has to adapt to what they see. Bunt if you have to. How about lowering the pitcher’s mound back to where it was in the 60’s? Not bad. I can like that reversal to the past. I don’t think that’ll happen. But I still love to watch two great pitchers go head to head and frustrate the opposition. Where’s the beef? The beef is gone. But some guys are still hitting tremendous home runs. We haven’t lost that.

The beef I’m really missing is the good ol’ fashioned nose to nose, throw dirt on the umpires shoes argument. It’s gone. Replaced by instant replay. That’s a part of the game I think fans miss. The vein popping, raise the hair on your neck beef. Earl Weaver, Billy Martin type beefs. The best. But gone.

I think the Rangers made a fantastic deal for Joakim Soria. The two young arms going back to the Rangers from Detroit are both solid pitchers with upside. Maybe not now, but in the future. Jake Thompson is a starter with sink on his fastball and a good repertoire. Thompson is 6-4 and 235 pounds. Huge. Corey Knebel is an able reliever with some big league experience. For his part, Soria is slated to pitch the 7th inning for the Tigers. We’ll see how long that lasts. He could easily slip into the 8th or 9th inning in a mix or match scenario with Joba Chamberlain and Joe Nathan.
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Jake Peavy to the Giants? That’s a big, big home park. It fits him nicely. And he likely slots as the #5 starter behind Bumgarner, Hudson, Lincecum, and Vogelsong. He probably won’t have to work the playoffs from the rotation. The need was great for San Francisco and I don’t think the price was that high. I do think Heath Hembree has a big arm for the bullpen and maybe Edwin Escobar can help the Red Sox as a starter from the left side. But they aren’t proven. Peavy has some quality starts left in his right arm.

Trades and free agent signings are risky. I give you the Cleveland Indians. I know, you don’t want them. Anyway, I give you their situation. The franchise was in the dumper in 2012. Fans were staying away in droves. They had to do something in the off-season to perk up interest. So—they gave the moon, the sun to Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn. They ended up with no stars. The rest is history. Financially, the team’s hands are tied. They have to find inexpensive, controllable right-handed hitters and pitchers to fill gaps.
Good luck with that. Everybody wants those type players. Swisher and Bourn are signed thru…2017.

Once he gets some protection in the lineup, I think Anthony Rizzo can be the next big star in the National League.

What happened to Nelson Cruz? Who’s the real guy? The first half slugger with a great batting average or the hitter scuffling now? Hope he comes back. The Orioles need his big bat.

Miguel Cabrera still looks hurt to me. He can’t open his hips and use his lower body as he has in the past. Run? Fuget abow did.
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What happens to the Royals after this season if they don’t make the playoffs? What does the team do with Hosmer, Moustakas, Butler and Gordon? I’m just askin.

I think the Giants would have been better off with the defense of Darwin Barney than the ??? of Dan Uggla. I’m just sayin.

OK-I get it with the Astros thinking Brady Aiken has injury issues. What the team does with their first round draft selection is up to them. However, they had a deal on the table with Jacob Nix, a right-handed pitcher from Los Alamitos, Texas. He was an innocent victim in the entire process. He is now without a contract to chase his dream. He couldn’t be signed due to the bonus money tied to Aiken. It’s a sad situation.

The Rays are proving how critical pitching is to winning baseball. They’ve come from nowhere to be somewhere. I still think they’ll fall short, but their surge has put the brakes on any movement of David Price in trade. Healthy pitchers=they’re winning.

I guess any team can have Ryan Howard if they agree to pay the rest of his $25MM salary this year and the same amount for 2015 and 2016. But there’s good news. The price drops to $23MM in 2017-a bargain. Of course, the Phillies could pick up some of the money for a team to obtain the contract. Yikes!

Did any of us ever think the Texas Rangers would have the worst record in baseball at the end of July? That they would have won only 41 games? By the way- I still like the Orioles to win the East. I haven’t wavered.

If you haven’t seen David Peralta of the DBacks play, make it a point to watch a game if you can. He’s an exciting left-handed hitter nobody talks about. I think he’s a legit Rookie Of The Year candidate. And I like Jose Abreu for that honor in the AL.

Time to look at some mid-season numbers that strike me as fascinating:

As of today, B J Upton has struck out 127 times. He leads Marlon Byrd-the subject of many trade rumors, by two. Upton is hitting .217. Byrd .266. Upton is having to get by this year on $14MM. 2015 $15MM, 2016 $16MM, 2017 $17MM and then….in 2018 he becomes a free agent. It’s actually more each year, but I rounded it down.

Carlos Santana has walked 72 times. Jose Bautista is next at 69.

Jose Altuve has 148 hits. Dee Gordon has ten triples.

If you would have told me Stephen Strasburg would have more losses (eight) than wins (seven) at this point of the season I wouldn’t believe you. But he does. And Scott Kazmir has a 12-3 record.

Thank you for reading my work on MLBPipeline.com and for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff.

That’s It. I’m Done.