Intro Greetings Razzers, it’s another hot season here at Razzball, and have I got a treat for you. This year’s preseason edition of outfield rankings done by yours truly will now feature outfield TIERS. Everybody loves tiers. However, these aren’t just your everyday run-of-the-mill tiers, No sir (/ma’am). These are Coolwhip’s latest labor of love […]

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Scenario: It’s past round 38 in your deep draft league and you’re scraping the barrel for some cheap pitching. You scroll past the list of names time has forgotten decidedly less inspiring than a bologna sandwich, until, you come across Nick Martinez. Spotlight, enter stage right. He was originally drafted by the Rangers back in […]

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Though it hasn’t been on my mind all the time, Yoshi Tsutsugo has entered it recently (shout out to Tindor). And I think he’s growing on me for the upcoming season. Now I can’t say that many Pirates get me motivated enough to write about; I can say, that there’s prime opportunity to pull some value when one of them does anything of note. The reason being no one cares about the Pirates. I mean, come on look at them. Well, in this upcoming season, the Bucs stop here. At least the middle of their lineup does.

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As the lockout rages on, we can’t do anything but collectively wait with eager anticipation for baseball to begin. Seiya Suzuki meanwhile, patiently sits back and bides his time to pursue a deal here. And while he waits, we wait. Where will he sign? IF this takes too long, will he still be there?  This I swear to you, he WILL be coming. Coming off a career year just as he enters his prime in that magic age 27 season? He’ll be here ready to play.

I’ll begin this by saying projecting players is hard (nice hedging Coolwhip). We are all here just trying to make the best guesses we can based on the available data. This is even more true for foreign players coming from a different baseball meta than state-side players. Sometimes the skills translate to the MLB meta, and sometimes they don’t. There are subtle differences in mechanic philosophy, pitching strategy, batter goals, team dynamics… etc. Some things are just hard to account for. Some skills however aren’t. They translate no matter where you come from, and no matter where you go. And after some digging, I’m beginning to believe Seiya Suzuki has it.

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If you haven’t looked at any draft boards lately you may have missed that Hunter Renfroe is no longer in Boston. With all the drama of the CBA unfolding this winter it went a bit unnoticed; but, minutes before the lockout began the Red Sox made a deal with the Brewers and traded Renfroe for Jackie Bradley Jr and minor leaguers David Hamilton and Alex Binelas. Coming on the heels of former Brewer Avisail Garcia signing with the Marlins, Renfroe goes to the Brewers to fill the void in RF for the National League team that is soon to have a DH as well, maybe he finally sees 600+ PAs… my interest is piqued.

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Jon Gray, Gray Expectations

“In the little world in which children have their existence, whosoever brings them up, there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt as injustice.”
– Probably Jon Gray about his time in Colorado

What the Dickens?! Jon Gray is no longer playing for the Rockies? Sign me up. Thank you for joining me for this Ted Talk. Kidding, kidding, kind of. Anywho, let’s get down with the breakdown. Is there an organization more poorly run than the Colorado Rockies? I think not. Mid-season last year would have been an ideal time to trade Gray and get some value in return if they were planning not to retain him, but as the season concluded he departed a free agent and without a qualifying offer; so the Rockies got nothing in return. Instead, prior to the lockout Gray signed a 4-year $56M deal with the Rangers leaving the contemptible confines of Coors Field behind. And needless to say, the expectations are high.

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I Mean, Prospects Don’t Last For 13 Years Right?

Some players get the call to stage quickly, and for some, like Frankie Montas it takes a bit longer when you’re sauteed on the hot stove. He began his journey stateside in professional baseball with the Red Sox in 2009. After working his way up their farm system to AA he was traded to the White Sox at the deadline in 2013 as a part of the 3-team deal that sent Jake Peavy to Boston. Starting over at A-ball he had to work his way up again, and finally, as a member of the AA Barons in 2015, Montas carried a 2.97 ERA in 112 IP.

That was enough to earn him a cup of coffee in which the young flamethrower posted a 12.0 K/9 despite a 5 BB/9 in a limited 15 innings. That same season he appeared in the Southern League All-Star Game as well as the MLB Futures Game. You see, in spring training that season Montas flashed his 70-grade fastball that began to touch 100 mph since he had built up more strength. And thus the hype built up with him.

Then that offseason, Frankie Montas was traded to the Dodgers. Once again, he was the primary chip in a deal; this time sending Todd Fraizer to the White Sox as part of another 3-team deal with the Reds.

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My relationship with Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is an 80s rock ballad. There was a time when I believed in love. And much like his plate discipline, Gurriel and I fell apart. I never thought he’d hurt me, I guess you live and learn, that when you’re playin’ with fire, you’re bound to get burned. And burned I was. I remember it like it was yesterday… as if it was archived on this very website (here). After starting slow in 2019, he was sent down mid-April to correct his approach, and then returned posting a 20/6/.277 line in 2019. May and June he was as hot as can be, then in August he was as cold as ice, and he was willing to sacrifice our love. Why’d he gone so cold?

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The Mystery

I love a good mystery. So why not start my preseason writing off with a mystery? That mystery is, what the [bleep] are we supposed to do with Nestor Cortes? He came on to the scene last year and found something magical. After some unimpressive showings before he put a spell on hitters last year with great effect. Nestor was magnificent!

Season IP ERA WHIP FIP K% BB% K-BB% AVG BABIP HR/FB
Before 2021 79 6.72 1.71 6.69 21.7% 10.3% 11.4% 0.297 0.327 22.6%
2021 93 2.90 1.08 3.78 27.5% 6.7% 20.9% 0.216 0.265 11.3%

So main thing to note is in 2021 Nestor started 14 games. Before that, he had only started a grand total of… (carry the 1… multiply by square root…) 2 games. 2 games that’s it. So this was a bit of a new foray for him. It’s not often that you go from the pen to starting and your numbers improve drastically. Not just a little mind you; but by every conceivable measure, he got better. His K-rate went up, BB-rate went down, and he cut home runs in half while suppressing hard contact and limiting runners. Everything you could possibly want. Mama mia!

The plot thickens…

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Like a fool, I went and drafted wrong…

At the beginning of the season, I didn’t publically campaign for him (much) but I did take Blake Snell in probably a third of my 12/15 team leagues—like RazzSlam. Often I was targeting Snell, Burnes, Lynn as my SP1 from the backend draft slot. For Snell, I figured 1) the skill was still there (pitches were still decent and K rate was still good); 2) he’d won a CY in the past and was incredibly unlucky with the long ball in 2020 (29.4%); and 3) Moving out from Kevin Cash’s thumb and the AL East to the NL West and the friendly pitching atmosphere (literal and metaphorical) of the Padres’ and Petco Park would set him up for a very nice year much like Joe Musgrove, whom I did write about here before the season.

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