Cleat Geeks

Royally Yours: Week in Review

The Kansas City Royals struggled again last week only winning two of their six games. They started the week on the road against the Minnesota Twins. The Royals won one game in the three game series. The weekend series was on the road against the Chicago White Sox. They lost two of the three games in the series. The Royals current record is 27-68. They are tied with the Baltimore Orioles for the worst record in baseball.

Salvador Perez will be the American League starting catcher for the fifth season in a row. Tampa Bay Rays catcher Wilson Ramos was the winner of the fan vote but needed to be replaced after he suffered a hamstring injury on Saturday. Perez is the only Royal on the All-Star roster this season. It is the first time since 2012 that the Royals will only have one representative on the team. Perez has a .250 batting average and one home run in five All-Star appearances.

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Whit Merrifield was considered one of the snubs for the All-Star game roster. He is in the top five in the American League in doubles and stolen bases. He would have been able to provide depth at second base and in the outfield. Second base is one of the most competitive positions in the American League. Jose Altuve, Jed Lowrie and Gleyber Torres were all named to the All-Star game. Merrifield has had a strong season but did not make the All-Star roster because of the exceptional talent at the position around the league.

Jorge Bonifacio has played well since he returned to the team on June 29th. Bonifacio was suspended to start the season. This season he has a .306 batting average and one home run. He should see a lot of playing time because of the injury to Jorge Soler. Bonifacio could have a big impact on the Royals this season and in the future.

The Royals will have a break for the All-Star game until Friday. Their only series this week will be at home against the Minnesota Twins. The Royals are 3-3 against the Twins this season. Alex Gordon will be a player to watch in the series. In 27 at bats against the Twins this season he has a .333 batting average and one home run. The Royals will look to get back on track after the all-star game.

Dbacks Fading Out Of Machado Sweepstakes?

As the trade deadline creeps closer with each passing day – Just 31st – and with new trade reports revolving around Baltimore Orioles slugger, Manny Machado, popping up seemingly every day, the Arizona Diamondbacks, who were not long ago mentioned as one of the more active of the front-runners for the star infielders services, have now seemingly found themselves on the outside looking in.

Morosi, July 4th

As of Tuesday

As of Saturday

Wherever the Diamondbacks currently sit in their pursuit of landing the now 4-time all-star, who was voted in as the American League starting shortstop in this years mid-summer classic, one thing’s for certain and that’s, as expected, a massive bidding war is in progress involving some of this years World Series hopeful’s positioning themselves to acquire the recently turned 26-year-old superstar.


The biggest issue for the Diamondbacks in making a real run at Machado is no surprise for anyone who follows the team, their lack of minor-league depth and elite level prospects. On MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects, they have one Diamondback player listed – SP Jon Duplantier – who’s ranked 60th. They also have the Dodgers with five, Brewers two, and both the Phillies & Yankees with three top 100 prospects.

To take it a little further, Ray Butler, of Prospects-365, released his annual Top 200 Prospects list this week, which has the D’backs & Brewers listed with six such prospects, Dodgers eleven, Phillies eight and Yankees six.

While the Yankees have the same amount of Top 200 prospects as Arizona, New York currently has seventeen guys on their 40-man roster who are 25-years-old or younger, while the D’backs have only eight, which is actually three more than the Dodgers. Milwaukee has thirteen on their roster, only to be outdone by Philadelphia, whose 40-man contains 62.5% (25) of players under the age of 26! It’s really not very hard to see why we’ve seemingly fallen down the totem pole on the pursuit of Manny Machado.

When asked earlier this week if he would play third base if traded to a contender, Machado exclaimed, “I am a shortstop. I play shortstop.”

To be clear, whoever trades for the young superstar isn’t trading for his shortstop abilities, rather for his offensive prowess with the lumber, as he’s top-10 in all of baseball in each of the following hitting categories: Hits, HR, RBI, AVG, SLG & OPS.

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What is unclear is if obtained by the D’backs would they let Manny play everyday at shortstop or would they let him play him play there against RHP and then move him over to third against LHP, since starter Jake Lamb struggles mightily with the lefty-on-lefty match-up.

Shortstop Nick Ahmed has a greater fielding percentage, while defensive metrics also show him being the superior shortstop between the two, as supported by his 1.2dWAR, compared to Machado’s -1.4dWAR. The problem for Nick is that while he’s roughly a .280 hitter (good) vs LHP this season, he’s only hitting around .200 vs RHP, to go along with about a 200 point decline in OPS when facing righties this season. Both of which are fairly accurate compared to his career splits. The upgrade would obviously be on the offensive side, as Machado has a 4.4 oWAR so far this season compared to Ahmed’s 0.8, via Baseball Reference.

Something similar could be said with Ketel Marte (2B), who’s hitting under .210 vs RHP this season, to go along with an OPS right about .600 against them. Against lefties, Ketel is hitting around .310, with an OPS of about .950. His career RHP/LHP splits are definitely not as drastic, as he has a better batting average vs RHP, but higher OPS vs LHP throughout his short career. Law of averages say it wouldn’t be a surprise if Ketel starts handling righties better down the stretch run.

Third baseman Jake Lamb is currently hitting under .180 with 0 HR, in 45 at-bats vs LHP on the season. In his career against southpaws, Lamb has a .163 career average, while hitting nearly 300 points less in OPS over 350 career at-bats compared to RHP. Law of averages say it would be a surprise if Jake starts hitting lefties much batter down the stretch run.

In the coming days we will cover a list of names, besides Machado, that could come in and help the team either offensively or in the starting rotation/bullpen, but as the heat is on for front offices across the country in the Machado sweepstakes, one would think that a club interested in the Orioles shortstop would like to get a deal done much sooner than the July 31st deadline. Presumably, immediately after the All-Star break would seem to be ideal for a team that’s willing to give up a couple higher ceiling prospects for a rental, so unless the D’backs pull the proverbial rabbit out of their hat by dealing at least two, possibly three or four, of such prospects – #1 prospect SP Jon Duplantier is still sidelined with bicep tightness, making him much harder to trade – or sending an MLB player, plus a prospect or two, it would seem as if General Manager Mike Hazen and Co. might have to rely on their fallback plan if they choose to stay the course with a possible middle-infield or third base acquisition.

 

Did Mike Matheny Deserve To Be Fired?

The Cardinals, one of baseball’s proudest and most prestigious franchises, winners of 11 World Series championships, with 12 playoff berths since 2000, are stuck on the treadmill of mediocrity.They are one game over .500 at 47-46 entering play on Sunday after a second straight loss at home to the last-place Cincinnati Reds. They are closer to those Reds who are 43-52  than they are the first-place Milwaukee Brewers at 55-42 they are only 4 games above the Reds yet they are 8 games behind the Brewers in the NL Central. They are in danger of missing the playoffs for the third consecutive season, for the first time since 1996-99.

“That’s embarrassing,’’ says Cardinals outfielder Tommy Pham, one of the Cardinals’ team leaders. “You never want to see something like that happen to this franchise. That’s on us.’’

They want someone to pay for this era of mediocrity. And right after the loss Saturday to the Cincinnati Reds, someone did pay, Matheny.

Hitting coach John Mabry and assistant hitting coach Bill Mueller were also let go by the team. Bench coach Mike Shildt takes over as interim manager.

The Real Question; Does Matheny Deserve To Be Fired?

There is an old saying in baseball, it is easier to fire 1 than 25. And in my opinion, that is what happened in the case of the Cardinals firing of Mike Matheny. Let’s take a look at the team, not the manager, and see realistically who is to blame.

Dexter Fowler, their highest-paid player, is having the worst season of his career, hitting .171 with a .554 OPS – third worst of any player in baseball. That Pham, their MVP of a year ago, ended a zero-for-31 drought Sunday, and is hitting .245 with a .741 OPS compared to .306 with a .931 OPS of a year ago.

That closer Greg Holland, who signed for $14 million after the season started, had to use regular-season games as his spring training, and is yielding a 6.30 ERA with 39 baserunners in 20 innings. That electric rookie pitcher Alex Reyes’ season ended after four innings.

That Marcell Ozuna, with only 19 extra-base hits, is no Giancarlo Stanton. That first baseman/right fielder Jose Martinez is playing in the wrong league, committing seven of their major league-leading 69 errors.

“I’m not living in some fantasy world,’’ said Matheny, who has led his team to more postseason games than anyone in baseball his first six seasons. “We all have a job to do. I get it. The high expectations people have on us, I have higher on myself. Matheny continued, “Hey, we live in a city that just loves this team. In St. Louis, it’s the show. Everybody has a lot invested into it. We want the product to look right too. That creates an atmosphere, and with that, comes expectations. That’s what we signed up for. We signed up for those expectations. We care enough to put the blame on ourselves too. If the heat comes, it comes. Whether people believe it’s justified or not, is irrelevant.”

Another way to view the Cardinals’ record: They’re 9-3 against the Reds, including the back-to-back losses Friday and Saturday and 38-43 against everyone else.

“In a lot of ways, this feels very much the same way as it has the last couple of years,’’ Cardinals president John Mozeliak says. “There are times you get excited about the club. There are times you don’t. It’s just been tough for us to get going.’’Image result for john mozeliak cardinals

The Cardinals are caught in such a quagmire that they don’t know whether they’ll be buyers, sellers, or bystanders at the July 31 non-waiver deadline.

Certainly, Mozeliak was faced with his own predicament Monday when he ridiculed Fowler’s performance and effort on the Cardinals’ podcast, and had to , and apologize to Fowler, who was away on paternity leave. Fowler returns Thursday to a team that no longer has a starting job for him, a city that has turned on him, with a mutual parting expected this winter.

“I’ve had a lot of people come up to me and question his effort and energy level,’’ Mozeliak said on Cardinals’ TV broadcaster Dan McLaughlin’s podcast. “And those are things I can’t defend. I try to create opportunities for him, but not if it’s at the expense of other players who are hustling and playing hard.”

Mozeliak, after reflecting on his comments a day later, said: “I hate that it come out wrong. I do think he’s at a level of frustration. But it came out that I was questioning his effort. It’s unfortunate. I talked to Dex. Everything is fine.’’

Fowler was inundated with calls and messages from his teammates and former teammates, with even Cubs manager Joe Maddon coming out and defending Fowler. The Cardinals will decide this winter whether they’ll trade him, or even if he wants out. He has a full no-trade clause, and is owed $49.5 million the next three years.

Maybe it’s all Stanton’s fault? I truly think more of the blame can be past to him than on Matheny. He’s the one the Cardinals wanted this winter, recruiting him to come to St. Louis, and even working out a trade with the Marlins. Stanton declined, and went for the bright lights of New York.

“Our team has just never been full throttle. The good news is there’s a lot of baseball left.’’

Who Will Win The Machado Sweepstakes?

I am planning on doing a few of these pieces between now and the July 31st trade deadline. For the first article I am going to conquer perhaps the biggest name, but also the easiest at the same time. Let me explain why Manny Machado is both.

What Manny Brings

As of the research for this writing Machado is batting .309 with a .379 on base percentage and a .558 slugging percentage. These three numbers are each better than in any full season of his career. Plus, the most home runs he has ever hit in a single season is 37. He is currently more than halfway to that mark this season with 21 to go along with his 107 hits 60 RBI’s and 7 stolen bases. But all these statistics lead to a very interesting question. With all of these numbers being a first for Manny, and the way teams are now evaluating players, accompanied with the way the free agent market took a downward turn for the players this past off-season. Are they numbers that are going to warrant a 5-7 year $150-200 million dollar commitment from any team? Whoever trades for him is giving up a part of their future to acquire him. If it is a deal like the Diamondbacks made for J.D. Martinez last season, where a team only has to give up two marginal prospects, that is a different story. But, Baltimore seems to want more than that.

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He needs to do well on offense, because his defense is actually declining despite his reputation. I am going to get somewhat technical here on stats, so if you are not a stat person, just jump to final sentence of this paragraph. According to baseball-refference.com the highlight reel we are accustom to seeing from Machado would be short this season. His Rtot (total zone total fielding runs above average) or the number of runs above or below average a player is worth based on the number of defensive chances the player has is at -13. His Rdrs (defensive runs saved above average) or how many runs he has saved compared to the average shortstop is -19. Plus, his Rdrs/yr (defensive runs saved on average per 1,200 innings) is at a whopping -30. All of these are career lows, and they are severe career lows. He does own a .978 fielding percentage, which sounds good until you look up the fact that the average shortstop this season has a .972 fielding percentage and you realize he is .006 percentage points better than the average shortstop.

Who Are The Players?

Manny is a major piece, and will take another teams major prospect to land, possibly a few fringe prospects as well. Plus if the team who trades for him wants to keep him beyond this season it will take, as mentioned above, a major contract to keep him. Therefore, you have eliminated over half of the teams in MLB right off the bat. Each league only has 5 teams who are going to make the play-offs. In the American league we basically already know who those teams are going to be; Astros, Red Sox, Yankees, Cleveland and Seattle. The Angels and Tampa are trying to hang around, and the sudden surge of the Oakland Athletics winning 17 of their last 21 games and finding themselves 11 games over .500 is nice, but in reality they are still the third best team in that division and 6 games out of the final Wild Card spot. What do those 5 top teams have in common? They all have established shortstops. Would Manny move back to third base? He might, but those teams already have third baseman as well with the Yankees, Astros and Red Sox all having young third baseman who are proving themselves worthy. This is the reason Machado is both the biggest and the easiest, only a few teams from one league really make sense.

The national League is a different story because the play-off teams are not so defined. The teams with legitament play-off shots are; the Braves, Brewers, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Nationals. Phillies and possibly the Cardinals. Of these teams you can eliminate the Braves, Nationals, and Cardinals. I also think you can eliminate the Cubs with their current combination of Russell, Biaz and Zobrist. So now you are down to 4 NL teams.

The Final Four

I think the Phillies are the longest shot here. They have Crawford and Kingery. But since they have money to spend, they would be smarter going after him this off-season and not give up any young prospects for him.

I keep reading and hearing the Dodgers are this race. I don’t think they are. They don’t want to go over the Luxury tax again, and he would truly be a rental for them. They have Turner at 3rd base and Segar at shortstop. I know he is hurt, but he will be back next season. I don’t see them parting ways with a top prospect for a few month rental that buts them over the Luxury tax.

The Brewers are an interesting case. They have Jonathan Villar and they got Tyler Saladino from the White Sox. Neither of them are All-Stars but together they are serviceable. Plus, they have Orlando Arcia on the Triple A MLB bus this season. This season he is only hitting .197 but he has a .247 career batting average and he is only 23 years old. I think it depends on where they see his growth and potential as to if they will simply check in on Manny or go all in on Manny.

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Photo by; ABC7 Chicago

I think the winner of the Machado sweepstakes will be the Arizona Diamondbacks. Their starting shortstop, while living up to his nickname of “slick nick” is great defensivly, he is batting .226. They could also slide Manny over to third base against a lefty giving Lamb a rest and have Nick start at shortstop. They have a decent pitching staff at the major league level with Buchholtz for this year, Walker for next year and Shipley for the future. Therefore they will trade Matt Koch and 1B Kevin Cron, whose power screams DH, to the Orioles in exchange for Manny Machado.

 

 

Royally Yours: Week in Review

The Kansas City Royals had a bad week losing all six of their games. They have currently lost nine straight. Their last victory was on June 27th against the Milwaukee Brewers. The Royals week started at home against the American League Central leading Cleveland Indians. The Royals offense struggled in the series only scoring an average of three runs per game. The weekend series was at home against the American League East leading Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox offense was a problem for the Royals. The Royals gave up an average of over 10 runs per game. The Royals still have the second worst record in baseball, one better than the Baltimore Orioles.

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The Royals bullpen has been one of the worst in baseball this season. They have an ERA of 5.28, second worst behind the Colorado Rockies at 5.32. Hitters are averaging .274 off of the bullpen, which is the worst in the MLB. Wily Peralta appears to be the Royals closer after the trade of Kelvin Herrera earlier in the season. So far this season he has an ERA of 1.35 and two saves. During Saturday’s game the Royals were getting blown out and decided to put in catcher Drew Butera. He finished the inning but gave up two earned runs. It was his first pitching appearance since 2016. The bullpen has been a big source of the problems for the Royals this season.

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Photo by; Fox Sports

Mike Moustakas has been the target of many different trade rumors so far this season. The Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals are rumored to be interested in him at third base. The New York Yankees have allegedly been interested in him as a first basemen. Moustakas does not have a lot of playing time at first but the Royals have been using him more at the position. The Royals appear to be giving him every opportunity to impress a team interested in him this season.

Alcides Escobar lost his consecutive games started streak on Sunday. The streak was up to 421, it was the longest active streak in the MLB. Escobar was a reliable defender all over the field but struggled offensively. This season he has a .194 batting average. Despite his defensive success the Royals had to bench Escobar because of his offensive performance.

The Royals will start a six game American League Central road trip on Monday. They start the week against the Minnesota Twins. The Royals are 2-1 against the Twins this season. Salvador Perez will be a player to watch in the series. He has a career .349 batting average and 14 home runs in 55 games at Target Field. The weekend series will be against the Chicago White Sox. It is the final series before the All-Star Break. The Royals are 2-5 against the White Sox this season. Mike Moustakas will be a player to watch in the series. He has a .353 batting average and one home run against the White Sox this season. This week will have two good matchups against division opponents.

What To Do With Shelby if Struggles Persist

As the boo’s rained down from the stands, a visibly shaken Shelby Miller stood hunched over screaming at himself as San Francisco Giants outfielder, Andrew McCutchen, trotted around the bases making it a 6-0 game in the fourth inning of Miller’s regular-season home debut last Saturday. Coming off his regular-season debut in Miami where he gave up 5 earned runs in 3.2 innings, it’s fair to say that through his first two starts back this isn’t the type of production – 0-2, 11.42 ERA, 2.07 WHIP – that Shelby, the organization & fans had hoped for after over a year-long hiatus due to Tommy John surgery.

He understands the current circumstances surrounding himself and the team, “It’s getting to the point of the season when we have to win ballgames…and I didn’t give us a chance to do that tonight,” he said after Sundays poor outing. He went on, “Right now we’re getting close to the All-Star break and we’re playing division teams that are right behind us trying to get 1st place away from us and I’m going out there and not pitching well. So that’s more of what I’m upset about,” after being asked if he could take any little victories away with him after his performance.

Shelby started tonight against San Diego – bottom-4 in avg, on-base %, slugging & OPS – and with the team currently in the midst of a pennant chase, and holding a slim division lead (0.5 gm lead over LA), If he can’t find his form against the soft-hitting Padres, Manager Torey Lovullo & Co., definitely should consider another plan of attack for the righty. We also know how deep loyalty runs with the second-year manager, so it’s definitely not a given that he would pull the plug, for the time being, after just three starts. However, San Diego is just 3-10 over their last 13 games.

At home against the Padres, Shelby Miller took the loss, which is his third without a win. It took Miller 17 pitches to fall behind in the first inning. He did open up the third inning with back to back strikeouts and did that again in the forth topping out with his fastball at 97. This outing he went 5.1 innings giving up five hits and five runs, three of them earned. He walked two and gave up a solo shot while striking out seven. This outing allowed him to reduce his three start ERA to 9,00 %.

According to Dr. David Geier’s – award-winning double-board certified orthopaedic surgeon and board member of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine – article titled Pitching Performance After Tommy John, within the last five years researchers at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan analyzed pitching performance data for 168 MLB pitchers who had undergone UCL reconstruction (Tommy John). Specifically, ERA, WHIP, walks, winning % and innings pitched. Data covered the 3 years prior to surgery and the 3 years after. Here were their findings:

Our results suggest that UCL reconstructive surgery does a tremendous job in allowing players to return to their same level of sport but it also describes a decline in pitching performance after undergoing reconstruction. We also found that there is a statistically significant decline in pitching performance the year before reconstructive surgery and this decline was found to be a risk factor for requiring surgery” said lead author Robert A. Keller, MD.

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Decline in Pitching Performance After Undergoing Reconstruction is why fans and organizations need to temper expectations immediately after Tommy John surgery. More times than not it’s going to take at least three seasons before the pitcher turns back into his old self.

Statistically Significant Decline in Pitching Performance the Year Before Reconstructive Surgery is in correlation with Shelby as he had an ERA above 5.00 over the previous year before his surgery, compared to a 3.37 combined ERA from the two seasons before that (’14-’15).

During his four minor-league rehab starts, Shelby had a 4.66 ERA and 1.34 WHIP to go along with 6 walks & 28 strikeouts in 19.1 innings. While his two starts with single-A Visalia – 0.77 ERA, 0.60 WHIP over 11.2 IP – were great, it’s the two starts with double-A Jackson that should’ve been a telltale sign that the 27-year-old, former 1st-round pick probably needed a little more seasoning against stiffer competition before being called up after missing nearly 15 months due to elbow surgery. In those 7.2 innings in AA, Shelby walked 6 with 10 K’s, en route to a 10.57 ERA & 2.48 WHIP.

With minor-league options still remaining and the fact Shelby is now just barely over five major league service years, meaning he can decline a demotion to the minors (can’t imagine him declining one though considering he just came back from major surgery), the most likely plan of attack is if he keeps struggling would be sending him back to AA-Jackson to try and build his confidence as a starter, against good competition, then bring him back up to the big club to see if he can help this season as a starting pitcher. While that sounds all good, the best likelihood for Shelby having a real positive impact on this team down the stretch would seemingly be out of the bullpen.

The most obvious candidate to replace Shelby, if there were a move made prior to Buchholz’s return his oblique injury (no specific timetable on his return), would be recalling Matt Koch. In his three starts in Reno since being demoted from the big club, Matt Koch has given up 7 earned runs in 19 innings for the Aces and leads all current starting pitchers on the team in ERA (2.52) and WHIP(1.08) this season in his limited minor-league action (25 innings; made 1 start with Reno prior to being recalled in early April). In 79.2 innings with the D’backs this season, Koch held his own by going 5-4 with an ERA of 4.40 and a very respectable 1.20 WHIP, while giving his team a chance to win more often than not.

While 8th inning flamethrower, Archie Bradley, as developed into one of the games best reliever’s since being moved to the bullpen prior to last season – 1.85 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 3.56 K to BB ratio in 114 innings – his overall career numbers still aren’t great – 3.86 ERA, 1.35 WHIP – due to his 177.1 innings as a starter. As basically a two pitch starting pitcher, who relied heavily on his fastball, Archie produced an ERA of 5.18, WHIP of 1.57 and K to BB ratio of 1.87 in those 34 starts between 2015-’16.

Prior to his move to the bullpen, Archie threw his fastball, best pitch, 70% of the time and averaged under 93MPH on it. Since moving to the ‘pen, the big righty is throwing his best pitch even more, 79%, and harder, 96 MPH avg. stats via Fangraphs.

Even though Shelby has been more of a three pitch pitcher (FB 68%; Curve 15%; Cutter 13%) than Archie (FB 73%; Curve 23%; Change-up 4%), it would seem that going back to his roots and relying even more on his fastball may be in his best interest.

With the Braves and Cardinals, Shelby had an ERA around 3.20 and was throwing his best pitch, fastball, nearly 70% of the time. Since his arrival in AZ, he’s throwing his fastball just over 60% of the time and has an ERA North of 6. The numbers in the parenthesis is the average velocity of his fastball.

The easiest way to get the most of his fastball again would be in a role similar to Archie’s, in the hopes that similar production would soon then follow. Until then, we shouldn’t be holding our breaths that Shelby will turn back into that pitcher from his St. Louis and Atlanta days this season, even if he goes out and dazzles against the lowly Padres.

 

Team Notes:

Steven Souza activated from the DL and in tonight’s starting lineup

Dyson placed on 10-Day DL with a Right Groin Strain

RHP Joey Krehbiel optioned to Reno

RHP Silvino Bracho was recalled from Reno

RHP Randall Delgado will be activated tomorrow from the DL (7/6)

 

 

AL All-Star Position Preview: DH

The DH position is one of the most debated among the baseball community. Many believe that the position should apply to both the American and National league. Some believe it should remain how it is. What isn’t debated is the position holds some of the best sluggers the game has to offer.

We have seen the likes of Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera make their living as a DH in the twilight of their careers. We have also seen teams like the Yankees use the position as a means to rest their sluggers in the field while also giving them four at-bats in a game. These two sluggers I will discuss have made a definite impact on their teams.

Starter: J.D. Martinez

The undisputed starter. Martinez will earn himself his first time as a starter in the All-Star game. Why? Merely because he is having an MVP caliber season, batting .325/.393/.636, with an OPS of 1.029. The veteran is also tied for the league-lead in home runs (23) and has batted in 60 runs. He is having a phenomenal season and is certainly earning that big contract the Red Sox gave him this spring.

It has been a long road for Martinez, who was cut by Houston in 2013 and reinvented himself as a star in Detroit and Arizona. The Red Sox signed him to keep up with the Yankees and he has certainly lived up to everyone’s expectations and exceeded them.

Bench Spot 1: Giancarlo Stanton

This was a difficult decision as Gattis is certainly neck-and-neck with Stanton. However, Stanton is slashing better than him in every category, batting .262/.335/.517 with an OPS of .853. Stanton has also knocked in 19 home runs and 44 RBIs.

Stanton is having a bit of a down season after his NL MVP year. I think he is having a difficult time adjusting to the spotlight and expectation in New York. After hitting a walk-off against the Mariners, I expect Stanton to start looking like himself again. He seems like he has relaxed a bit and in the last 7 days is hitting .448 with 3 home runs and 7 RBIs. Look for Stanton to continue this hot streak through the All-Star break.

 

The MLB Hurt Locker, Week Ending July 1

Hello baseball and especially fantasy baseball fans! Once again this week I will outline the players who have both gone on the disabled list and who has returned. Every position, every team, every possibility for you, the fan, to keep up with and be smarter around that water cooler at work.

 

June 25
Player Team Position DL Type Injury
Ryan Buchter Oakland Pitcher Returning Left Shoulder
Clay Buchholz Arizona Pitcher 10 Day Left Oblique
Shelby Miller Arizona Pitcher Returning Tommy John
Mike Foltynewicz Atlanta Pitcher 10 Day Right Tricep
Luis Sardinas Baltimore INF 10 Day to 60 Day Back
Tim Beckham Baltimore INF Returning Core Muscle
Gary Sanchez New York (AL) Catcher 10 Day Groin
Edubray Ramos Philadelphia Pitcher 10 Day Right Shoulder
Jonny Venters Tampa Bay Pitcher 10 Day Right Hamstring
Brandon Kintzler Washington Pitcher Returning Flexor Strain
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Nationals relief pitcher Brandon Kintzler does not have eye-poping stats this season, but he owns a 4.3 career war. Photo by; the Washington Post.

 

June 26
Player Team Position DL Type Injury
Caleb Smith Miami Pitcher 10 Day Left Lat
Dylan Bundy Baltimore Pitcher 10 Day Left Ankle
Steven Wright Boston Pitcher 10 Day Retro 6/23 Left Knee
Kris Bryant Chicago (NL) 3rd Basemen 10 Day Retro 6/23 Left Shoulder
Justin Hancock Chicago (NL) Pitcher 10 Day Right Shoulder
Caleb Smith Miami Pitcher 10 Day Left Lat
Daniel Mengden Oakland Pitcher 10 Day Retro 6/23 Right Foot
Ronald Guzman Texas 1st Basemen 7 Day Concussion

 

June 27
Player Team Position DL Type Injury
Alex Avilia Arizona Catcher 10 Day Retro 6/24 Right Hamstring
Robbie Ray Arizona Pitcher Returning Right Oblique
Mike Soroka Atlanta Pitcher 10 Day to 60 Day Shoulder
Craig Gentry Baltimore Outfielder 10 Day Left Rib
Darren O’Day Baltimore Pitcher 10 Day Left Hamstring
Brandon Morrow Chicago Pitcher Returning Back
Scott Ogerg Colorado Pitcher Returning Back
Justin Grimm Kansas City Pitcher 10 Day Retro 6/24 Right Shoulder
Jake Jewell Los Angeles (AL) Pitcher 10 Day Right Fibula
John Lamb Los Angeles (AL) Pitcher 10 Day Shoulder/Elbow
AJ Schugel Pittsburgh Pitcher 10 Day to 60 Day Shoulder
Sean Rodriguez Pittsburgh INF/OF 10 Day Retro 6/25 Right Quad
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If you believe in career war , then this is your guy. Robbie’s career war is 7.3. Then in his return last week he threw 6 shutout innings. Overall this season he is 3-0 with 51 strikeouts and only 19 walks. Photo by; ESPN.com

 

June 28
Player Team Position DL Type Injury
Brandon McCarthy Atlanta Pitcher 10 Day Retro 6/25 Right Knee
Ronald Acuna Atlanta Outfielder Returning ACL
Walker Buhler Los Angeles (NL) Pitcher Returning Rib
Josh Fields Los Angeles (NL) Pitcher 10 Day Retro 6/27 Right Shoulder
Zach Cozart Los Angeles (AL) 3rd Basemen 10 Day to 60 Day Torn Labrum*

 

June 29
Player Team Position DL Type Injury
Darren O’Day Baltimore Pitcher 10 Day to 60 Day Left Hamstring
Carlos Correa Houston Shortstop 10 Day Lower Back
Taylor Motter Minnesota 1st Basemen 7 Day Concussion
Chad Kuhl Pittsburgh Pitcher 10 Day Right Forearm
Nik Turley Pittsburgh Pitcher 60 Day Left Elbow
Alex Reyes St Louis Pitcher 10 Day to 60 Day Torn Tendon*
Image result for ryan zimmerman

If you have a place to stach a player don’t be scared off by the fact he was transferred to the 60 day DL. He will be back soon, more than likely right after the All-Star break. Photo by; MASNsports.com

 

June 30
Player Team Position DL Type Injury
Daven Marrero Arizona 3rd Basemen 10 Day Left Oblique
Wilmer Font Tampa Bay Pitcher 10 Day Right Lat
Ryan Tepera Toronto Pitcher 10 Day Right Elbow
Ryan Zimmerman Washington 1st Basemen 10 Day to 60 Day Right Oblique
Jeremy Hellickson Washington Pitcher Returning Shoulder

 

July 01
Player Team Position DL Type Injury
Brian Duensing Chicago (NL) Pitcher 10 Day Shoulder Fatigue
Leonys Martin Detroit Outfielder 10 Day Left Hamstring
Vince Velasquez Philadelphia Pitcher 10 Day Right Arm Contusion
Pat Neshek Philadelphia Pitcher Returning Lat
Allen Cordoba San Diego INF/OF Returning Concussion

*Out for season

 

As baseball fans in general we love seeing players make it back from injuries and to help their teams again. Fantasy baseball owners, there are some player who have come back in the past week that we should be ecstatic about. Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Pat Neshek returned this week along with Jeremy Hellickson, pitcher for the Washington Nationals, rookie sensation Ronald Acuna who is patrolling the outfield for the Atlanta Braves and two pitchers for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Shelby Miller and Robbie Ray.

 

These returning stars will hopefully be fully recovered and ready to help their teams win. All these returning players this week are playing for teams who are still in playoff races and still have a chance to contend for the World Series Trophy come time for the post season.

 

As the old saying goes, “what goes up must come down,” and in that sense when there are players returning for the disabled list, there are also big names who have gotten hurt and went on the disabled list this week. New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez was one of the big names to go on the disabled list this week. Sanchez will be out at least 3-4 weeks with his groin issues. This could be a good thing for Gary. This could be the time away from the game that he needs to get his head right and get back on track. So far this season Sanchez is batting .190/.291/.433.

 

Other big names who have gone on the disabled list this week are Chicago Cubs 3rd basemen Kris Bryant, Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa, and Atlanta Braves reliever Mike Flotynewicz. It seems like Correa will only be out minimal time, and as the most recent update from team doctors, it seems like he will be back in the lineup this Friday, against the Chicago White Sox. The same goes for Kris Bryant, who is likely, according to team doctors, to return to action on Tuesday when the Cubs take out the Detroit Tigers.

 

So there is your MLB Hurt Locker for this week, fans. Make sure you go out there and set your fantasy lineups for the week and continue to check in for updates on The MLB Hurt Locker, and my other article, The Call to the Majors, which will outline the call ups for the week, and potentially the big names that can help you win your fantasy league! Also, make sure to follow me on Twitter, @HandzelSports for the latest MLB news!

Royally Yours: Week in Review

The Kansas City Royals struggled last week only winning two of their six games. They faced three different teams in three different cities. They started the week at home against the Los Angeles Angels. It was a makeup of the April 15th game. The Royals won the game 2-0. The win prevented an Angels sweep in the series. The second match-up of the week was against the Brewers in Milwaukee. The Royals split the two game series with the Brewers. They missed facing former Royal Lorenzo Cain because he was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a groin strain. The weekend series was in Seattle against the Mariners. The Royals were swept in the series. They currently have a record of 25-58, which is the second worst in baseball, one game ahead of the Baltimore Orioles.

Jorge Bonifacio returned to the Royals this week after serving an 80-game suspension for a positive PED test. He played in all three games against the Seattle Mariners. In nine at bats he has a .222 batting average. Last season with the Royals Bonifacio had a .255 average in 113 games. Bonifacio could see a lot of playing time because of the injury to Jorge Soler.

Image result for mike moustakas

The trade deadline is at the end of the month and a few Royals are already receiving attention from playoff contenders. Mike Moustakas is the most likely player to be traded this year. He is on a one-year contract with a player option for next season. The Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals appear to be the top contenders for Moustakas. This season he has a .258 batting average and 16 home runs. Whit Merrifield is another player that could be traded. The Milwaukee Brewers have been rumored to be interested in him. This season Merrifield has a .289 batting average and 16 stolen bases. He is tied for the third most stolen bases in the American League. Last season Merrifield showed his power and speed potential. He had 19 home runs and 34 stolen bases. It was the most stolen bases in the American League last season. The Royals would get a lot in return if they traded Merrifield because he is under control through the 2022 season. The Royals will be sellers at the trade deadline and there could be some noteworthy players leaving the team this month.

The Royals will start a six game home stand on Monday. They start the week against the Cleveland Indians. The Royals are 2-4 against the Indians this season. Trevor Bauer will be a player to watch in the series. He pitched seven scoreless innings in a win against the Royals earlier this season. The weekend series will be against the Boston Red Sox. The Royals are 1-2 against the Red Sox this season. A player to watch will be Mookie Betts. He leads the American League in batting average, slugging percentage and OPS. Against the Royals this season he has a .667 batting average and three home runs. The Royals will have tough matchups against two of the top teams in the American League

The Call to the Majors, with Bonus Days: Week Ending June 29

June 21
Player Position From Team To Team
Kyle Crockett Pitcher Louisville (AAA) Cincinnati (MLB)
Phillip Ervin Outfielder Louisville (AAA) Cincinnati (MLB)
Yency Almonte Pitcher Albuquerque (AAA) Colorado (MLB)
Michael Herosillo Outfielder Salt Lake (AAA) Los Angeles (AL) (MLB)
John Gant Pitcher Memphis (AAA) St Louis (MLB)
Image result for kyle crockett reds

Cincinnati Reds reliever Kyle Crocket has pitched in 5 games covering 3.1 innings and has a 2.70 ERA a 0.90 WHIP and 4 strikeouts. But, he has appeared in over 112 games prior to this season. Photo by; Zimbio.

 

June 22
Player Position From Team To Team
Danny Santana Outfielder Gwinnett (AAA) Atlanta (MLB)
Artie Lewicki Pitcher Toledo (AAA) Detroit (MLB)
Deck McGuire Pitcher Salt Like (AAA) Los Angeles (AL) (MLB)
Drew Smith Pitcher Las Vegas (AAA) New York (NL) (MLB)
Kevin Kaczmarski Outfielder Las Vegas (AAA) New York (NL)(MLB)
Zac Curtis Pitcher Lehigh Valley (AAA) Philadelphia (MLB)
Nick Vincent Pitcher Tacoma (AAA) Seattle (MLB)

 

June 23
Player Position From Team To Team
Lucas Simms Pitcher Gwinnett (AAA) Atlanta (MLB)
Donnie Hart Pitcher Norfolk (AAA) Baltimore (MLB)
Tzu-Wei Lin Shortstop Pawtucket (AAA) Boston (MLB)
Brad Miller 1st Basemen Colorado Springs (AAA) Milwaukee (MLB)
Nick Martini Outfielder Nashville (AAA) Oakland (MLB)
Austin Slater Outfielder Sacramento (AAA) San Francisco (MLB)
Tim Mayza Pitcher Buffalo (AAA) Toronto (MLB)
Image result for pat valaika rockies

Pat Valaika has had almost 300 at bats in the big leagues all with Colorado. He can play every infield position and will get a good look at this season as the Rockies try to figure out what to do with 2nd base next year. Photo by; Mile High Sports.

 

June 24
Player Position From Team To Team
Branden Shipley Pitcher Reno (AAA) Arizona (MLB)
Evan Phillips Pitcher Gwinnett (AAA) Atlanta (MLB)
Cory Mazzoni Pitcher Iowa (AAA) Chicago (NL) (MLB)
Justin Hancock Pitcher Iowa (AAA) Chicago (NL) (MLB)
Pat Valaika 2nd Basemen Albuquerque (AAA) Colorado (MLB)
Yency Almonte Pitcher Albuquerque (AAA) Colorado (MLB)
Hansel Robles Pitcher Salt Lake (AAA) Los Angeles (AL) (MLB)
Alan Busenitz Pitcher Rochester (AAA) Minnesota (MLB)
Chris Flexen Pitcher Las Vegas (AAA) New York (NL) (MLB)
Clay Holmes Pitcher Indianapolis (AAA) Pittsburgh (MLB)
Kazuhisa Makita Pitcher El Paso (AAA) San Diego (MLB)
Robert Stock Pitcher El Paso (AAA) San Diego (MLB)

 

June 25
Player Position From Team To Team
Edwin Jackson Pitcher Nashville (AAA) Oakland (MLB)
Duane Underwood Pitcher Iowa (AAA) Chicago (NL) (MLB)
Jake Cave Outfielder Rochester (AAA) Minnesota (MLB)
Tyler Bashlor Pitcher Binghamton (AA) New York (NL) (MLB)
Kyle Higashioka Catcher Scranton/Wilkes Barre(AAA) New York (AL) (MLB)
Giovanny Gellegos Pitcher Scranton/Wilkes Barre(AAA) New York (AL) (MLB)
Hector Neris Pitcher Leigh Valley (AAA) Philadelphia (MLB)
Austin Pruitt Pitcher Durham (AAA) Tampa Bay (MLB)
Image result for edwin jackson oakland

Edwin Jackson is a veteran pitcher with a below .500 career mark, but is now pitching in a pitching friendly ballpark in Oakland. In his first start for Oakland, despite not getting the win, he pitched 6 solid innings striking out 7 batters and walking off the field with a 1,50 ERA. Photo by; Zimbio.

 

June 26
Player Position From Team To Team
Ben Meyer Pitcher New Orleans (AAA) Miami (MLB)
Jimmy Sherfy Pitcher Reno (AAA) Arizona (MLB)
Matt Wisler Pitcher Gwinnett (AAA) Atlanta (MLB)
Justin Haley Pitcher Pawtucket (AAA) Boston (MLB)
Luke Farrell Pitcher Iowa (AAA) Chicago (NL) (MLB)
Dillon Maples Pitcher Iowa (AAA) Chicago (NL) (MLB)
David Bots Infielder Iowa (AAA) Chicago (NL) (MLB)
Ben Meyer Pitcher New Orleans (AAA) Miami (MLB)
Keon Broxton Outfielder Colorado Springs (AAA) Milwaukee (MLB)
Gerson Bautista Pitcher Las Vegas (AAA) New York (NL) (MLB)
Ryan Rua Outfielder Round Rock (AAA) Texas (MLB)
Ryan Borucki Pitcher Buffalo (AAA) Toronto (MLB)

 

June 27
Player Position From Team To Team
Wes Parsons Pitcher Gwinnett (AAA) Atlanta (MLB)
Jimmy Yacabonis Pitcher Norfolk (AAA) Baltimore (MLB)
Steve Wilkerson Infielder Norfolk (AAA) Baltimore (MLB)
Jason Adams Pitcher Omaha (AAA) Kansas City (MLB)
Jake Jewell Pitcher Salt Lake (AAA) Los Angeles (AL) (MLB)
Chris Bassitt Pitcher Nashville (AAA) Oakland (MLB)
Tanner Anderson Pitcher Indianapolis (AAA) Pittsburgh (MLB)

 

June 28
Player Position From Team To Team
Matt Wisler Pitcher Gwinnett (AAA) Atlanta (MLB)
Yefry Ramirez Pitcher Norfolk (AAA) Baltimore (MLB)
Chance Sisco Catcher Norfolk (AAA) Baltimore (MLB)
AJ Reed First Basemen Fresno (AAA) Houston (MLB)
Eduardo Paredes Pitcher Salt Lake (AAA) Los Angeles (AL) (MLB)
Taylor Cole Pitcher Salt Lake (AAA) Los Angeles (AL) (MLB)
Mike Zagurski Pitcher Colorado Springs (AAA) Milwaukee (MLB)
Image result for corey oswalt mets

Oswalt has a good 4 pitch mix with the best one being his 12-6 curve. He has a fastball, slider and a change-up. He is currently ranked as the 14th best prospect in the Mets organization with 3 other RHP ranked ahead of him. The first 2 innings went well, but he was knocked out of the game after only 2.2 innings to the Miami Marlins after giving up 6 runs. But, this was a true emergency start and he had no preparation time whatsoever. Photo by; www.northjersey.com

 

June 29
Player Position From Team To Team
Christian Walker INF/OF Reno (AAA) Arizona (MLB)
Paul Fry Pitcher Norfolk (AAA) Baltimore (MLB)
Ryan Meisinger Pitcher Norfolk (AAA) Baltimore (MLB)
Cionel Perez Pitcher Corpus Christi (AA) Houston (MLB)
Sandy Alcantara Pitcher New Orleans (AAA) Miami (MLB)
Willians Astudillo Catcher Rochester (AAA) Minnesota (MLB)
Corey Oswalt Pitcher Las Vegas (AAA) New York (NL) (MLB)
Brandon Drury INF/OF Scranton/Wilkes Barre(AAA) New York (AL) (MLB)
Max Moroff INF/OF Indianapolis (AAA) Pittsburg (MLB)
Darnell Sweeney Outfielder Buffalo (AAA) Toronto (MLB)

 

As you can see, for another week, a majority of the call ups have been pitchers, that if you were to track it, were sent right back down after their appearance.

 

The biggest non surprise, only due to the fact that it has taken this long, was the call up of the Yankees Brandon Drury. Drury went on the disabled list earlier this season with blurry vision. Miguel Andujar came up and played lights out at third base and Yankees skipper, Aaron Boone’s hands were tied. Drury just recently got named to the Triple-A All Star game, mainly because it was essentially a grown man, playing with a bunch of kids. So Drury has deserved this call for a while and i highly doubt that he will be sent back down to Triple-A, unless he gets hurt.

 

This week there were two players skipped Triple-A all together and made the leap from Double-A straight to the Majors. Tyler Bashlor, a pitcher in the New York Mets system did this on June 25, and Cionel Perez, again a pitcher, but in the Houston Astros system did this on June 29.

 

Just to prove how many times during a season a player will get called up and sent down, Yencey Almonte proved it very well this week. Almonte was called up on June 21, pitched and was sent down, just to be called up again on June 24.

 

Since this is now the second week of tracking player call ups, lets see who else has made the journey back and forth. Ben Meyer, a pitcher in the Miami organization made the journey to the Majors for a second time in two weeks along with Ryan Rua, Texas Rangers outfielder, on June 26, Jake Jewell and Chris Bassitt, both pitchers, joined the list on June 27, and Mitt Wisler and Edurado Paredes, both made the list on June 28. Other than Ryan Rua, all these players that get sent up and down constantly are pitchers. This is just due to the fact that pitchers get over worked and need some extra rest, especially when their outings go longer than expected.

 

So that’s the Call to the Majors for this week. I hope you’re enjoying this segment, and I hope you aren’t like me, sitting at home waiting for your own personal call to the Majors. You, like me, may be a little further away from the show then the players that are fighting for their roster spots.

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