Cleat Geeks

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.

 

 

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.

 

C.C. Dazzles, The Kids Mash, Yankees Take Game 1 Against the Red Sox

Bring in the dancing lobsters!

 

What an unbelievable game. The Yankees looked dominant against a red-hot Red Sox team that has won 9 of their last 10 games coming into tonight.

 

What a game for the old man. C.C. looked like a surgeon out there, going 7 innings giving up 1 run on 6 hits with 5 strikeouts and 1 walk. He surrendered a lone run after giving up back-to-back doubles against Betts and Benintendi. What more could you ask from the aging veteran? He has continued to be a presence both on the mound and in the clubhouse, where he is an obvious leader.

Now this offense.

You wouldn’t know it, but Miguel Andujar is twenty-three and Gleyber Torres is 21.

“Gleyber, we need a run here pal, try and get a productive out.”

“Yeah no problem, I’ll just hit a rocket into the outfield and score a run easily.”

Torres earns his 39th RBI and Andujar earned his 38th while also earning 5 hits combined tonight. Did I also mention that these two also have the best batting averages on the team? I would say I am excited about the future, but the future is now. These guys are ready to win, especially after their showing against the Red Sox tonight. I look forward to watching these two for a long, long time.

Didi is officially back. Prior to tonight, Didi is slashing .288/.348/.441 in his last 15 games with 17 hits, 2 home runs, and 5 RBIs. He continued his hot streak with a crucial double off the wall that later led to him scoring. There is nobody I’d rather have at shortstop for this Yankee team, despite him being streaky. He seems to always show up in big moments.

I know I just wrote a piece implying Greg Bird should be taking some time off first base. You can read that article here and see if you agree. This is how I imagined he took it:

I’m not even mad about it. Bird had two beautiful home runs, one coming directly after a Miguel Andujar missile that broke the back of the Red Sox in the fourth inning. Bird will probably take a rest this weekend as Brandon Drury was called up to face the lefties Chris Sale and David Price Saturday and Sunday. Hopefully, this boosted Bird’s confidence and he can bring it into next week’s series against the Braves.

The Yankees’ power duo Stanton and Judge had nice games as well. Stanton didn’t record a hit but took two walks, one of which turned into a run. Having Stanton hitting well really opens up this lineup for some serious offense. Aaron Judge just did what he does, putting the game away by mashing a two-run homer to make the game 7-1.

Man does this rivalry make baseball exciting. Both teams set to win over 100 games, one of which will need to win an elimination game to get into the playoffs. At this point, it could be either team.

Note: Aaron Judge is so good this guy doesn’t even move an inch. Just knows it’s going out of the park.

Want to talk baseball? Tweet me @BrianDFF

AL All Star Position Preview: Outfield

 

Quite possibly the most talented position among both leagues, outfield certainly has the star power that has become a household name over the years. The unanimous best player in the game, Mike Trout, has headlined the position over the years. Young stars like Aaron Judge and Mookie Betts among others are staking their claim as dominant players in the game today. Who deserves to be in the All-Star game? The fan voting absolutely butchered the outfield position, but what position have they gotten right?

Current AL Fan Vote:

Mookie Betts, Red Sox

Mike Trout, Angels

Aaron Judge, Yankees

Michael Brantley, Indians

George Springer, Astros

Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox

Brett Gardner, Yankees

Marwin Gonzalez, Astros

Mitch Haniger, Mariners

Josh Reddick, Astros

Nicholas Castellanos, Tigers

Eddie Rosario, Twins

Aaron Hicks, Yankees

Jackie Bradley Jr., Red Sox

Ben Gamel, Mariners

Starter: Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts has looked like a superstar this season, one of which is leading the Red Sox to one of the best records in baseball. Although he has over 40 fewer at-bats, Betts has four fewer home runs and 8 fewer RBIs than Mike Trout, the aforementioned best player in baseball. This season, Betts is hitting .338/.421/.680 with a 1.101 OPS. My goodness, the man is absolutely dominating the league. He is the clear and away MVP as of today and is a superstar amongst a very star-studded Red Sox team.

Betts is also a very good defensive outfielder, which adds to his amazing 2018 resume. His WAR is 4.4 and does not look to be slowing down. Betts should be first in fan voting and would be the clear starter if he didn’t play another game from now until the All-Star game.

Starter: Mike Trout

The undisputed best player in baseball. I mean, look at these stats via @MLB on Instagram:

Since June 11th:

8 games, 8 outs made (37 plate appearances).

Reached Base 29 times.

Slashing .696/.778/1.261

4 Home Runs, 9 RBIs.

Huh?

Those are seriously video game numbers. Trout is leading the Angels in every single statistical batting category and leading the majors in most. He has been a game-changer for the Angels and should be a lock for the All-Star game from now until he retires. We are watching a walking Hall of Famer, who would have my vote if he never played an inning of baseball in his life (he is 26 years old). I have no more words, except to say if you aren’t tuning in to every Mike Trout at-bat you are doing it wrong.

Starter: Eddie Rosario

As I mentioned in my prior articles, the Twins have some stars in their lineup, with more on the way. Rosario has hit well this season, slashing .320/.357/581 with a .938 OPS. He has been great defensively, which reflects on his 3.8 WAR.

Rosario is on pace to beat his previous career highs in both home runs (27) and RBIs (70). He is one of the reasons I project the Twins to be a potential playoff contender, who will likely have to beat out the Mariners for that second playoff spot unless they can overtake the division from the Indians.

Bench Spot 1: Aaron Judge

Judge is having a bit of a down year compared to his phenomenal rookie season, but how could he not? Judge is currently slashing .274/.393/.547 with 19 home runs and 51 RBIs. Again, one of the best outfielders in baseball right now, but certainly does not deserve to start this season. There are just too many guys having better seasons then he is.

I fully expect Judge to turn it on after the All-Star break. The sad part is Judge’s “down year” is better than most outfielders in the entire league. What Judge has been since the start of his career has been an excellent outfielder. His rocket of an arm stops a lot of hitters taking the extra base. That is something that not even Mookie Betts can bring to the table.

 

Why is Greg Bird playing and Brandon Drury wasting away in Scranton?

My goodness, Greg Bird has been bad. I mean really bad. After tonight’s win against the Phillies, Bird is batting a putrid .186/.293/.393 with three home runs and 5 RBIs in 84 at-bats. 84!!!! I understand Bird is a very valuable prospect and was seen as the future first baseman for years to come. I am not saying that it couldn’t happen but it is not looking pretty right now. He just looks lost at the plate, and some time in Scranton could do wonders for his swing and his confidence.

My problem is Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman are trying to get Bird to figure it in the majors. That is fine and the team is still in first place in winning percentage in the majors, so what is there to complain about? The problem is they are holding on to the lead by a thread. The Astros are looking like a team refusing to have a World Series slump. The Red Sox look #good, and the Indians don’t look great but that lineup and rotation could turn it on at any moment.

Again, I understand Yankee fans don’t have much to complain about. I just believe that Bird should be fixing his issues in Scranton. Brandon Drury looks like a man who would be dominating in the majors right now, and would probably be starting every day for almost any other team.

All that production is being wasted away in Triple-A. Drury has spent two days a week at first base and maybe the Yankees are making sure he will be able to handle the position defensively. We have Clint Frazier coming up and down every other week and doing nothing but hit at the Major League level (don’t get me started about him), why not Drury? Are you telling me he couldn’t be more productive than Neil Walker (.192/.270/.269)?

Drury is hitting .321/.429/.491 in Scranton, with a .929 OPS. Through his play he is basically pleading with the Yankees to call him up, and why not? Drury’s consistency could be an excellent compliment to the Yankees power hitting. Not saying this isn’t one of the best lineups if not the best in baseball, but Drury’s production warrants him playing at the worst in a platoon role, but realistically every day.

AL All-Star Position Preview: Shortstop

You all know the common saying: “Another day, another All-Star game position preview” right? Maybe that’s just me. Alas, whether people are reading these or not, I have truly enjoyed writing this series. You get a good perspective of just how disrespected some guys are and how they must feel.

However, the shortstop position in the AL is different. I mean the position is absolutely STACKED. I am actually upset I can’t talk about at least five of these guys (I might pull an audible and do it anyway). A lot of these players are appointment television like Manny Machado, who is certainly the only reason people are watching the Orioles right now (certainly not Chris Davis, SHEESH).

Current NL Fan Vote:

Manny Machado

Carlos Correa

Francisco Lindor

Didi Gregorius

Jean Segura

Starter: Francisco Lindor

The fact that Lindor is third in fan voting right now is criminal. Lindor is slashing .290/.362/.529 with an .891 OPS. He ranks 10th in home runs and OPS with 16 and .891 respectively. He is third in runs, fifth in total bases, and 6th in both total bases and runs created.

To me, these things don’t put Lindor over the top for the clear AL starter. Having been a previous Gold Glove recipient, Lindor’s defense is elite, especially at such an important position. Being poor defensively can sometimes be masked in the outfield. At shortstop, however, sheer volume exposes any defensive weaknesses. Lindor has very few. With a reliability on offense and defense while also having an MVP caliber season makes him the best shortstop in the American League. The question is, who falls behind him?

Bench Spot 1: Jean Segura

I’d like to say Segura is having a breakout season, but the Mariners finally being good might just be why people are starting to pay attention. Segura is currently on his third season in a row hitting over .300, this year being the highest batting average of his career at .336. Segura is also slashing an impressive .336/.358.483 so although his home run numbers are down he is still hitting the ball hard. His ability to get on base has also turned into him scoring the second most runs (52) at the position behind Francisco Lindor (54).

I think he loses in fan voting due to his lack of home runs (4). Despite his low home run numbers, he has the most doubles per at-bat of his career, while only trailing only Machado in Correa in RBIs. Both of those guys have double-digit home runs, so what Segura is doing is impressive. He is putting the ball in play and bringing his guys. It helps that he has Dee Gordon, one of the fastest players in the majors, leading off in front of him.

Bench Spot 2: Manny Machado

We all knew how good Machado could be. When you talked about the future free agent, everyone was trying to put a number on how much his talent was worth. He has earned Gold Glove and All-Star game honors years ago. You knew that wasn’t his full potential. Now you are seeing it.

Machado is on quite honestly the worst team baseball has seen in a long time. Yet the slugger is having career highs in almost every statistical category. He hit 18 home runs (leads the position), brought in 53 runs (also leads the position), and is slashing a monstrous .305/.373/.559, all career highs.

If the Orioles don’t trade Machado by the deadline the entire front office should be fired. His value is not getting any higher and teams are only willing to pay so much to a guy who will be a free agent at the end of this season. Machado is a lock to make the All-Star game and I am not even mad about it. You can argue any of these guys at any one of these spots and I wouldn’t be upset. Machado gets a slight dip from me is because his defense has suffered, and that is one of his best assets.

Honorable Mentions:

Due to the fact that there are so many exceptional shortstops this season, I will briefly mention two players that deserve it.

Carlos Correa:

Correa certainly deserves to be in the All-Star game. He is slashing .270/.354/.492 with a 2.8 WAR. He is one of the premier players at the position and name value propels him over these other guys in fan voting. If you thought Correa deserves to be in the All-Star game I would not argue.

Didi Gregorius:

Didi has been hot and cold all year and I think that there are more deserving shortstops, but Gregorius certainly deserves mention. His defense has been reliable and his bat has been powerful at times, with his 14 home runs trailing only Machado and Lindor. Gregorius is on a hot streak as we speak but I do not expect him to make his first All-Star appearance due to the abundance of talent at the position.

 

The Call to the Majors, Week Ending June 20

June 14, 2018

Player Position From Team To Team
Chris Bassitt Pitcher Nashville (AAA) Oakland (MLB)
Carlos Ramirez Pitcher Nashville (AAA) Oakland (MLB)
Nick Rumbelow Pitcher Tacoma (AAA) Seattle (MLB)
Robert Whalen Pitcher Tacoma (AAA) Seattle (MLB)

 

Image result for tyler white astros

June 15, 2018

Player Position From Team To Team
Corban Joseph Infielder Norfolk (AAA) Baltimore (MLB)
Tanner Scott Pitcher Norfolk (AAA) Baltimore (MLB)
Tyler White 1st Basemen Fresno (AAA) Houston (MLB)
Brandon Maurer Pitcher Omaha (AAA) Kansas City (MLB)
Kyle Farmer C/Infielder Oklahoma (AAA) Los Angeles (NL) (MLB)
Jake Jewell Pitcher Salt Lake (AAA) Los Angeles (AL) (MLB)
Felix Pena Pitcher Salt Lake (AAA) Los Angeles (AL) (MLB)
Eduardo Paredes Pitcher Salt Lake (AAA) Los Angeles (AL) (MLB)
Merandy Gonzalez Pitcher Jacksonville (AA) Miami (MLB)
Taylor Motter INF/OF Rochester (AAA) Minnesota (MLB)
Jonathan Loaisiga Pitcher Trenton (AA) New York (AL) (MLB)
Luke Voit 1st Basemen Springfield (AA) St. Louis (MLB)
Jose Trevino Catcher Frisco (AA) Texas (MLB)
Brandon Mann Pitcher Round Rock (AAA) Texas (MLB)
Yohander Mendez Pitcher Round Rock (AAA) Texas (MLB)

 

 

June 16, 2018

Player Position From Team To Team
John Lamb Pitcher Salt Lake (AAA) Los Angeles (AL) (MLB)
Franklin Barreto Infielder Nashville (AAA) Oakland (MLB)
Yacksel Rios Pitcher Lehigh Valley (AAA) Philadelphia (MLB)
Jack Thompson Pitcher Lehigh Valley (AAA) Philadelphia (MLB)
Pierce Johnson Pitcher Sacramento (AAA) San Francisco (MLB)
Ryan Rua Outfielder Round Rock (AAA) Texas (MLB

 

Image result for ryan rua texas rangers

Photo by; FanRag Sports

June 17, 2018

Player Position From Team To Team
Luke Jackson Pitcher Gwinnett (AAA) Atlanta (MLB)
Shane Bieber Pitcher Columbus (AAA) Cleveland (MLB)
Evan Marshall Pitcher Columbus (AAA) Cleveland (MLB)
Wily Peralta Pitcher Omaha (AAA) Kansas City (MLB)
Rosell Herrera Outfielder Omaha (AAA) Kansas City (MLB)
Adalberto Mondesi Infielder Omaha (AAA) Kansas City (MLB)
Scott Barlow Pitcher Omaha (AAA) Kansas City (MLB)
Adrian Houser Pitcher Colorado Springs (AAA) Milwaukee (MLB)
Josh Lucas Pitcher Nashville (AAA) Oakland (MLB)
Yovani Gallardo Pitcher Round Rock (AAA) Texas (MLB)

 

 

June 18, 2018

Player Position From Team To Team
Rob Zastryzny Pitcher Iowa (AAA) Chicago (NL) (MLB)
Clint Frazier Outfielder Scranton/Wilkes Barre(AAA) New York (AL) (MLB)
Austin Davis Pitcher Lehigh Valley (AAA) Philadelphia (MLB)
Jose Osuna Outfielder Indianapolis (AAA) Pittsburg (MLB)
Kelby Tomlinson 2nd Basemen Sacramento (AAA) San Francisco (MLB)
Ricardo Rodriguez Pitcher Round Rock (AAA) Texas (MLB)

 

Image result for kelby tomlinson giants

Photo by; McCovey Chronicle

June 19, 2018

Player Position From Team To Team
Caleb Joseph Catcher Norfolk (AAA) Baltimore (MLB)
Robby Scott Pitcher Pawtucket (AAA) Boston (MLB)
Jackson Stephens Pitcher Louisville (AAA) Cincinnati (MLB)
Heath Filmyer Pitcher Omaha (AAA) Kansas City (MLB)
Freddy Peralta Pitcher Colorado Springs (AAA) Milwaukee (MLB)
Tim Peterson Pitcher Las Vegas (AAA) New York (NL) (MLB)
Pierce Johnson Pitcher Sacramento (AAA) San Francisco (MLB)
Lourdes Gurriel 2nd Basemen Buffalo (AAA) Toronto (MLB)
Jefry Rodriguez Pitcher Syracuse (AAA) Washington (MLB)

 

June 20, 2018

Player Position From Team To Team
Johnny Barbato Pitcher Toldedo (AAA) Detroit (MLB)
Mitchell Walding Pitcher Leigh Valley (AAA) Philadelphia (MLB)
Jake Barrett Pitcher Reno (AAA) Arizona (MLB)
Adam Frazier 2nd Basemen Indianapolis (AAA) Pittsburg (MLB)

As you can see by the list, most of the players that were called up to the Major Leagues in the past week have been pitchers. A lot of the time, these are just one or two day call up’s because someone in the bullpen was overworked. There were no players called up this week that were in the top 50 prospects to begin the year.

 

Notable Performances:

Jonathan Loaisiga was called up to the major leagues on June 15th for the New York Yankees. Before he was called up, he pitched in six games in AA and four games in A ball this season. In Single-A Tampa, Loaisiga had a 3-0 record posting a dominate 1.35 ERA. Loaisiga performed just as well in AA for Trenton, posting a 3-1 record with a 4.32 ERA. Loaisiga made is MLB debut on the day he was called up, and he pitched a gem of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays. He pitched 5 shutout innings allowing three hits, four walks, and struck out six. In Loaisiga’s second start on June 20 against the Seattle Mariners, he pitched 3.2 innings and he allowed 3 runs, on six hits while striking out four and walking two. His season ERA sits at 3.12, in the two games that he pitched.

Image result for jonathan loaisiga yankees

Photo by; New York Post

Lourdes Gurriel was called up again to the major leagues on June 19th for the Toronto Blue Jays. During his time in the minor leagues this season, both in Triple A Buffalo and Double A New Hampshire, Gurriel played in 39 games with a triple slash line of .307/.333/.490 with an OPS of .824 and six home runs. Playing up in the majors has not fared for the young Gurriel so far. He is posting a triple slash line of .206/.229/.309 in 20 games while also posting a .537 OPS and two home runs. Gurriel has shown that he can compete in the minors, now he is trying to show that he deserves to be up in the majors, and will hopefully be a part of the Toronto Blue Jays for years to come.

Image result for lourdes gurriel toronto blue jays

Photo by SportsNet

A final notable call up for this week is another New York Yankee, and if you follow baseball you’ve heard his name before, outfielder Clint Frazier. There are rumors surrounding Frazier that he will either be a cornerstone of the Yankees outfield for years to come, or he is only being called up so he can audition for other MLB teams come the trade deadline. In 42 games in the minors this year, most of which at Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre, Frazier has played in 42 games posting a triple slash line of .302/.387/.550 with an OPS of .937. Frazier has also added eight home runs to those eye opening numbers. With the call to the Majors, Frazier has played in 5 games this year with a triple slash line of .364/.533/.455 with an OPS of .988. Frazier has been playing well no matter where he goes. This doesn’t seem like a permanent move to Frazier, not yet at least, but sooner rather than later he will be off this list, and in the Majors for good.

Image result for clint frazier new york yankees

Photo by FanRag Sports

So that’s the Call to the Majors for this week fans. I hope you’ve enjoyed this segment, and hope you aren’t sitting by the phone waiting for your Call to the Majors, it may be a little farther out than some of the players in the Minors.

Gary & Giancarlo Mash, Yankees Walk-Off To Beat Mariners 7-5

The bats are coming alive. The Yankees come back after being down 5-0 to beat the Mariners in the bottom of the 9th. This season the Yankees have proved that they are truly never out of a game, as home runs can come off almost any bat in the line-up.Image result for johnny lasagna baseball

Johnny Lasagna struggled tonight. His second Major League start saw his command struggles continue, and without his slider, he struggled to finish off batters like he did in his previous start. Loaisiga went 3.2 innings, gave up six hits, three earned runs, walked two batters, and struck out four. Shreve came in for two innings and gave up another two runs on four hits and walked one batter.

The real gem of the game was Jonathan Holder. Questionably the most important piece to the bullpen, Holder hasn’t given up a run in almost a MONTH in his ten appearances. He gives the Yankees flexibility with his ability to go multiple innings and being dominant while doing it. Holder went two innings while striking out two, walking none, and striking out two. His confidence must be sky high and it should be, Holder is an integral part of why this team has been so successful.

Now to the hitters. My goodness is this team fun to watch when these bats are hot. Since 6/9 in 37 at-bats, Didi has been batting .351 with 4 RBIs and 3 home runs. Didi brought in another run tonight to continue his hot streak. Aaron Judge also had himself a night, going 3 for 5 while bringing in a run. Clint Frazier also bought himself a run. Man, I wish there was room on this roster.

Frazier belongs in the big leagues and would be an everyday starter on almost any other team. Instead, he is stuck behind Aaron Hicks (a Brian Cashman favorite) and the old but reliable Brett Gardner. I hope these appearances we are getting from Frazier force the team’s hand in keeping him up and don’t serve as a tryout as the Yankees try and acquire another starting pitcher.

Now to the heroes. El Gary came to the plate after a very important Gleyber Torres walk. Gary had been struggling before this week but had been making good contact and started to heat up. Tonight, Gary may have erased all memories of his slow start to the season.

Gary absolutely CRUSHES this one, tying the game with another inning to spare. Gary gaining confidence will improve his offense and defense, something this team desperately needs (as they sit atop the standings).

Now on to the man who needed a moment like this as badly as anyone. If you saw the look on his face, you could tell how much hitting that walk-off home run meant to him. Giancarlo Stanton was a man on a mission tonight.

He got served up a meatball and sent that ball into orbit. Hopefully, this home run gets him relaxed and looking like the Stanton the Yankees traded for. The Yankees have a day game with Seattle to close out the series before playing the Rays this weekend. They look to secure the sweep against a potential playoff team in the Mariners.

AL All-Star Position Preview: Catcher

Baseball fans around the world have been waiting for this day, All-Star weekend. You get to see your favorite players compete against one another in a weekend filled with pageantry and excitement. The MLB allows fans to vote for the players they believe most deserving (sometimes giving popularity more value than in-season accomplishment) and when the voting is finished those players get chosen to compete.

Here at Cleat Geeks, however, there is no voting. I will be telling you who deserves to be in the All-Star game in a series of articles, looking at each position in the AL individually. I will list and discuss who deserves to be a starter, then give you two bench spots. This first article will be a dive into the top 3 catchers most deserving of All-Star honors. With that being said, let’s get to the catchers!

Current Fan Vote Results:

Gary Sanchez

Wilson Ramos

Brian McCann

Salvador Perez

Martin Maldonado

Starter: Wilson Ramos

Although the fans have Gary Sanchez slightly edging out Ramos in voting, I would take Ramos. With the most at-bats of the three (206), the highest batting average (.282), and highest OPS (.766) it was an easy decision to place him atop this list. Being on the Rays makes it difficult for him to edge out Sanchez (again, popularity contest) but Ramos should be the clear starter. Despite catching a multitude of pitchers while the Rays try a new rotation strategy, Ramos maintains a decent WAR (wins above replacement) of .9, falling in second on this list. Wilson is having a great season and is one of the main reasons why the Rays have managed to stay afloat this season, despite a very tough AL East.

Bench Spot 1: Salvador Perez:

Sorry Sal, you will most likely not extend your All-Star Game streak to five. The two other guys on this list are currently running away with the voting and unless Sal starts raking these next couple of weeks, he will, unfortunately, fall short of the All-Star Game. Posting an impressive 1.0 WAR, tying Ramos in RBIs (32), and a slash line of .230/.281/.449 would have earned him a trip to the All-Star Game in years past, but the young slugger Gary Sanchez has stolen fans hearts. The veteran catcher also suffers from being on an AL Central-worst Kansas City Royals team, which means fewer eyes are focused on him. Accompany that with the fact that he has about 20 less at bats than Sanchez and Ramos, and it is tough to make a case for him in the fans eyes. My eyes are not the fans eyes and I believe Sal deserves to be second in the voting.

Bench Spot 2: Gary Sanchez

Sanchez has had an extremely disappointing season thus far. He is currently having his worst season in BA, OBP, OPS, SLG, and WAR. He has fewer hits than both guys on this list. Yet what makes Sanchez so special is that he still leads both guys in both HR and RBI. He would fall further if there were more players who could even come close to his Abs, so his plate appearances certainly boost him up my list. I do not expect Gary to continue this poor streak, and the All-Star break will give him a much-needed break from the day-to-day grind of being the catcher for the New York Yankees. If you compare his stats to his almost Rookie of the Year winning 2016 season, he has 22 fewer hits but has only 7 fewer RBIs and 8 less HR’s. I fully expect a second-half resurgence.

Catcher may be a shallow competition in terms of All-Star voting, the other positions will have considerably more discrepancies *cough* outfield *cough*. Continue reading to find out who deserves to be a part of All-Star Weekend!

Stop Saying the Yankees Have a Pitching Problem

The Yankees entered this season with high expectations and are so far overachieving with prominent players not really providing what was expected of them and rookies getting called up faster than expected. Many people are pointing at the pitching staff as the main question mark on the team. However, if you take a look at the numbers, there really isn’t an issue with the 2018 Yankees’ pitching staff.Image result for new york yankees bullpen

Let’s start off with the most important statistic that is kept in sports: a team’s record. The Yankees are entered the Subway Series against the Mets at 40-18 and with the opening game win they now have a .690 winning percentage. With that win and the White Sox besting Sale and the Red Sox the Yankees now lead the division by 0.5 game but have also played five less games due to weather. They are leading the majors in winning percentage as well. It is very difficult to pinpoint an area of weakness in a team that wins almost 70 percent of their games, but fans feel the pitching needs to improve if this team wants to win their 28th World Series.

Team ERA is a big stat that many people care about. Honestly, I do not care for ERA because if a man gets on base, the job is to not let him score even if he reached on an error. At the time of this writing, the Yankees post a 3.64 ERA, which is 11th in the majors and fourth in the American League. My first thought after looking at the number is the Yankees have played a lot of good hitting teams, including 20 games against the other AL teams to reach the playoffs last season.

Batting average against is another big stat that I care more about than ERA since you are finding out how many batters get a hit, of course this is flawed since getting a hit in Yankee Stadium with the short porch is different than getting a hit in Seattle, but it is more reliable. The Yankees are fourth in baseball with .219 and only behind the Houston Astros in the AL.

Image result for new york yankees bullpen

Those numbers include the bullpen so let’s look at quality starts (how many times a starting pitcher throws a minimum of six innings with a maximum of three earned runs allowed in a game). The Yankees have thrown 32 in 58 games, 55.2 percent of the time. Tell me that isn’t good when the team is without Jordan Montgomery for the rest of 2018 and possibly 2019.

Could the starters improve? Of course, the Yankees have 327 innings thrown by their starters (the number includes Domingo German’s starts, not any innings accumulated from the bullpen) and could look for more length. If you are a fan of the team, you would know our AAA team is stacked with major league-ready talent like Brandon Drury, Clint Fraizer, and Ronald Torreyes and GM Brian Cashman could pull the trigger on a trade involving one or more of these guys in order to get a starting pitcher since there is a bevy of everyday player talent in their farm system that a rebuilding team would love to get their hands on. Could they get a pitcher the caliber of Tampa’s Chris Archer? Probably not without giving up a major piece of their farm system but they could be in the market for veterans on struggling teams like a Cole Hamels or James Shields, pitchers who have pitched in big games and understand what they need to do in order to succeed in the Bronx.

Image result for new york yankees bullpenI do believe the Yankees will go after a starting pitcher before the trade deadline, especially with the news of Montgomery needing Tommy John surgery instead of coming back before the All-Star Game like previously reported. I also think Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman understand they do not need the starting pitchers to throw seven-plus innings a game in order to win. The team has the most explosive bullpen in the majors and would be a waste not to use their strength, Joe Girardi had it right with how he used the bullpen for a majority of the season last year, have a quick hook if need be and manage the pitchers you have. Boone has been amazing so far with how he has elected to use his bullpen.

I have been hearing all sorts of trade proposals to bring a pitcher to the Bronx but unless they get another Sonny Gray trade, they will settle with a Jamie Garcia-esque move. An improved Sonny Gray might be the move they need as they will have Luis Severino, Sonny Gray, Masahiro Tanaka, and CC Sabathia lined up in the playoffs. If Gray gets right, as he looked like he is in his last start in Toronto, that is arguably the second-best playoff rotation in the AL and also having a huge bullpen to follow.

Feel free to tell me your opinion in the comments below and tweet me @VinPensabene if you want to keep up with me and my work.

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