Happy Sunday again gang – hope there weren’t too many of you that overdid it with your personal firework shows to celebrate the 4th – baseball (as always) seems to help us in that regard every year around this time, and the big Billy Beane shocker provided everyone a great finale for a lot of contenders. Of course this also helps bring more clarity for those looking to make a run at the MLB-level (obviously defining the market for ANY contender looking to shore up their rotation) just as it will ultimately lead to even more prospect machinations and opportunities as we move forward.
Given the rising level of prospect interest this time of year (both in potential trade/promotion opportunities, but in general as well), and in addition to our hopes of expanding our prospect coverage and helpful information and discussion for you guys in our Razzball community, Sundays will feature, what I’ll refer to as my Sunday Twelve-Pack, as opposed to a Sunday Six-Pack. As always, pace yourselves – Monday morning still looms, and never drink and drive!!!
1.) Addison Russell – The key piece in the Samardzija/Hammel blockbuster further clouds the Cubs’ crowded position player prospect picture, but Theo and Jed are seriously loading up with impressive talent that may not ultimately play their current position when they get to The Show. Does this signal a potential willingness to rent Samardzija out and move Starlin Castro (and/or others) in an effort to land a David Price to pair with him (assuming they can extend Price) following next season as some have speculated? Who knows? The one thing the Russell addition certainly does do is give the Cubs’ brass yet another impressive young offensive asset to play fantasy baseball with. Russell almost made the A’s roster coming out of camp this past spring and is considered “ready” by most reports, having been considered as Jed Lowrie’s replacement in their 2015 everyday lineup by many projections.
2.) Dan Straily – Yes, Straily had lost his spot in the A’s rotation earlier in the season (to the still impressive Jesse Chavez). Yes, he had been struggling at Sacramento (4.71 ERA with 9 bombs allowed in 10 starts covering 63 IP). But you always have to look a little closer at the Sacramento splits – PCL numbers for Pitchers never seem to tell the whole story. He’s only given up 44 hits that didn’t leave the yard during that span, and the strikeouts are still there (67 of them against 26 BBs). Straily led the minors with 190 Ks in 152.1 IP in 2012, and the Chicago pitching team seems to have been pretty successful “fixing” another seemingly stalled guy by the name of Jake Arrieta – plugging him into their rotation and having them room together on the road the rest of this season would seem to be a pretty good idea IMO.
3.) Kris Bryant – The strikeouts are the lone (somewhat) legitimate reason the Cubs braintrust can make for this guy not being in the middle of the Cubs’ current MLB lineup every day. His numbers have gotten better since his promotion to AAA – now .365/.429/.794/1.222 with 7 more bombs in Iowa. The Ks aren’t hurting his OBP whether Theo and Jed try to sell Cubs fans that line or not. Time to put him out in RF (where he’ll have more time to think about lowering his K Rate between ABs instead of worrying about smashes coming at him at 3B) and cut bait on someone in that OF group in Wrigley. He’s “ready”, and giving him a taste of MLB-level pitching during the second half can’t do anything but help him be more comfortable by the time the team is in position to be competitive.
4.) Christian Colon – Great first taste of the majors this week (3-4 with 2 2Bs and 3 runs yesterday) for the kid Dayton Moore (and Royals fans everywhere, of course) hope finally solves the team’s 2B issues. Omar Infante continues to be a useful player, but he’s always been better suited as a “super sub” (and has trouble staying healthy when having to play every day). Colon was doing just fine before being called up from Omaha (.296/.360/3.84/.744 with 14 2Bs and 14 SBs), and he may be here to stay.
5.) Daniel Robertson – The most obvious beneficiary of the Russell trade in the Oakland system, Robertson’s performance in Stockton (Hi-A slash line of .302/.406/.480/.886 to go along with 19 2Bs and 12 HRs) puts him in line for the A’s to be a little more aggressive with his development. He could see time in AA during the second half with an Beane & Company keeping a close eye on him as a potential Lowrie replacement next spring if he continues to impress.
6.) Josh Bell – With Gregory Polanco now patrolling RF in PNC Park, look for the Pirates to consider challenging the former surprise 2nd Round signee. Bell’s battled injuries early in his career, but he’s currently slashing .330/.375/.500/.875 with 20 2Bs, 3 3Bs, and 9 HRs in Bradenton, and he’d make for an awfully attractive trade piece should the Pittsburgh brass decide to try to upgrade their rotation for a stretch run.
7.) Marcus Stroman – We’ve discussed him in earlier as someone to keep your eye on. If he’s still available in your league and you don’t have him, it’s time to go get him. 7 shutout innings in a no-decision Friday against a tough Oakland offense (combined with both Samardzija and Hammel as potential trade additions) likely cements Stroman’s spot in the rotation moving forward. His ERA’s down to 3.44 (with even better periphals including a 7.8 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9), and he’s over the initial butterflies.
8.) A.J. Cole – Unless the Nationals decided to make a play for David Price (for some unknown reason), they’re not likely to be in the market for pitching help during the second half. Cole has been bumped up to Syracuse (AAA), and had a 2.92 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, and 4/1 K/BB Ratio prior to his promotion. He’s not a front of the rotation guy (over 10 hits per 9 IP), but he’d likely hold his own if Washington needs him to step into the rotation for a couple starts down the stretch.
9.) Jake Lamb – Lamb’s slashing .316/.392/.561/.953 with 28 2Bs, 5 3Bs, and 12 HRs at Mobile (AA). If (and more likely when) the order to sell comes from Tony LaRussa and either/or Aaron Hill or Martin Prado are dealt, look for the Diamondbacks to be more aggressive with the former 2012 6th Round pick from the University of Washington.
10.) Jose Peraza – The Braves won’t be overly aggressive (and don’t need to) with Peraza, but if he keeps this up you can expect a promotion to Gwinnett (AAA) during the second half to set up a potential spring training showdown for the 2015 2B job between Jose and Tommy La Stella. Peraza hasn’t flinched since his promotion to Mississippi (AA), slashing .333/.371/.455/.826 in 15 games with 3 2Bs, 1 3B, 1 HR, and 6 SBs.
11.) Dallas Beeler – Beeler becomes another candidate to see action in the Cubs rotation during the second half following the Samardzija/Hammel subtraction. He held his own in an earlier spot start against the Nationals, and his impressive 1.58 GO/AO Ratio can’t hurt if he can maintain it in Wrigley.
12.) Jimmy Nelson – Nelson still struggles with his control (his 4.8 BB/9 IP is worrisome when projecting it against more refined eyes and plate approaches at the next level), but he’s 10-2 with a 1.56 ERA and 110 Ks in 104 IP with a 1.95 GO/AO Ratio in the hitter-friendly PCL. With Hammel off the market, look for Nelson to step in if the Brewers need rotation help down the stretch.
Two Aspirin for the Monday Morning Hangover
A solid Friday performance from Brian Roberts might’ve bought him a little more time, but his Yankees’ tenure is perilously close to coming to an end and is on life-support. Rob Refsnyder is banging on the door and is slashing .286/.432/.571/1.003 with 3 bombs in his last 10 games.
With Theo and Jed finally pulling the plug on the Cubs’ 2014 campaign, look for Arismendy Alcantara any day now. Without Samardzija and Hammel on the bump, there’s little need to continue giving ABs to Darwin Barney and Nate Schierholtz – neither is likely to bring the club any notable decent pitching prospect in return at this point.