Life is a thankless slog made occasionally bearable for humans by moments of surprising joy and glimpses of baby Yoda.

Those aren’t my words. Werner Herzog’s family and mine get together for Mandalorian Fridays, and these were Werner’s thoughts on the Dave Dombrowski firing when I told him I was writing up the Red Sox. 

I’m confident Chaim Bloom will be just fine in the top job. Will he be as successful as Dombrowski? Tough to say. Pretty high bar. What we can say is Bloom will be less handsy with ownership’s purse strings, which will grant him an extra level of job security. As might his ability to thread the needle between going for the win year over year and building up and protecting the minor league system. 

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Just over a year and 89 minor league games after he was drafted, Nico Hoerner made his debut with the Chicago Cubs, going 3/5 with 4 RBI in his debut, as the Cubs starting SS on September 7th. While the rest of his first month in the majors wasn’t quite as spectacular, Hoerner’s debut was a bit of a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season for the Cubs. His .282/.305/.436 grades out as below average overall, but it displayed his plus hit tool, as well as surprising power. Hoerner has been somewhat of a hot commodity this offseason, so my goal here is to help you realistically guide your expectations for Nico Hoerner, both for 2020 and moving forward.

When Hoerner was drafted, he was seen as a safe, but unexciting pick, yet here he is getting people excited about his fantasy potential. Hoerner’s hit tool has always been his best tool, as he was a .300 hitter through both his last two years of college, and the two summers he spent in wood bat collegiate summer leagues. While he’s shown to be a competent fielder, and can run pretty well, Hoerner didn’t seem to have anything outside of his hit tool that could help him contribute in fantasy, yet here we are. Nico Hoerner’s AA stats seem pretty in line with how he fared in his major league debut. He walked a bit more, and didn’t show as much power, but the overall slash line was very similar.

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Carlos Collazo of Baseball America started a Twitter thread last month with a poll meant to determine who fans thought was the team of the decade. The San Francisco Giants, winners of three World Series championships in the decade, were left off the four-team survey. Twitter did not like this and demanded an explanation, but we already know what happened. Nobody really cares about the Giants.

That’s not fair. 

You care about the Giants. 

That’s why you’re reading this: you’ve got at least some level of interest in Giants prospects. Still, it fascinated me that the Astros won the poll despite having won the one World Series and having lost almost as many games as they won over the decade. The Astros have become the image of success and a preferred model for how to win at baseball, while the Giants ended the aughts in the shadows, scraping up castoffs as they transitioned to a forward-thinking front office after a dynastic run of success under Brian Sabean. Farhan Zaidi and company are in this for the long haul, and their system looks better every day. So grab some flowers for your hair and let’s go to San Francisco.

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As fate intended, the Padres dominated baseball news throughout their week as Razzball’s featured organization, trading SS Luis Urias and LHP Eric Lauer for OF Trent Grisham and RHP Zach Davies before signing LHP Drew Pomeranz. I think it was a pretty great few days for them, cashing out a hyped asset like Urias for a less beloved piece with better floor and topside in Grisham. In doing so, they’ve brought some balance to a righty-heavy lineup and secured an everyday outfielder to lead their island of misfit fly-chasers. They achieved something similar with Pomeranz, adding a burgeoning lefty to a bullpen loaded with the opposite. The move also opens a spot for Ty France, who hit .400 with power and limited strikeouts all season at AAA and has more than earned this opportunity. I even think Davies has sneaky upside in a better park for him. As a bonus, anytime you can move on from a guy named Lauer . . . right? 

Anyway, these are not your father’s Padres. Or your older brother’s Padres. Or even last December’s Padres. It’s hard to imagine how last winter’s San Diego fans would have reacted if you showed them today’s depth chart, but I’m guessing they’d be excited. Stay frosty! And stay tuned: there’s likely more moves where these came from! 

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Despite being a 26th round draft pick in 2013, Mauricio Dubon has been a fairly big prospect name since about 2015, where he was commonly ranked about top 15 in the Red Sox system. Dubon was traded to the Brewers along with Travis Shaw in 2016 for Tyler Thornburg, and has been a top prospect in that system since. A career .300 hitter in the minors, Dubon caught people’s eyes with his abilities as a pure hitter, and has consistently been given an above average grade on his hit tool as a prospect. He got off to a great start in 2018, slashing .343/.348/.574 through 27 games, but unfortunately had his season cut short due to injuries. Dubon returned in a big way in 2019, demonstrating power that he had never shown before en route to hitting 24 HR on the season (20 in AAA and 4 in the Majors). Despite this breakout, the Brewers felt comfortable enough with their infield depth (ironic given the fact that they just traded for Luis Urias who I’m not a fan of), and they traded him to the Giants for Drew Pomeranz. Come September, Dubon found himself getting regular playing time at both 2B and SS, and looks primed to be the Giants starting 2B going into the 2020 season, so this begs the question: what is his fantasy value? 

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Look I don’t hate the Dodgers and you don’t hate the Dodgers, but there’s a decent chance we all kind of hate the Dodgers. Even Dodgers fans kind of hate the Dodgers. 

Green might be the color of envy, historically speaking, but these days in the baseball world, dodger blue has taken the mantle.

The Dodgers occupy an extremely unique place in the baseball psyche as the model for what every owner wants: cost-controlled assets regularly cycling through the system to keep profits high and payroll low. Andrew Friedman was just awarded a contract extension—a smart move considering other owners would line up to pay him a top-of-the-market salary to bring his magic to their front office. This all feels slightly ironic in a world where Dave Dombrowski gets fired the year after winning the World Series while Friedman’s Dodgers fail to win the big game year after year. 

It’s quite a look into what’s valued within the industry. 

One off-shoot = you can expect this club to promote the players who might help them rather than shopping for a big trade. 

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I had a nightmare the week I was researching the Rockies. In the nightmare, I was a late round pick crushing it in Colorado’s system while “living” on peanuts, eating the cheapest things I could find whenever I had time to find them, and knowing in the depths of my soul that I would never really get a chance to play in Colorado. 

Then I woke up and saw Evan White was signing an extension in Seattle, where Jerry Dipoto apparently thinks it’s a good idea to play prospects. The fool. 

Anyway, some organizations are fun to think along with and easy to like. Colorado is not one of those organizations.

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As an attorney, I spend most of my days writing. So what do I want to do when I get home? Write more, of course. That’s why I’ll be writing for Razzball too now. I know what you’re thinking: what a fantastic introduction. My only response is I’d prefer to let my work speak for itself.

I’ve known for quite some time I wanted to write about José Abreu first this offseason. I usually lean toward discussing hitters anyway, but Abreu’s lackluster 2019 has knocked him down draft boards and there’s just too much value to ignore. Indeed, even noted smart person Tristan H. Cockroft has Abreu ranked 126th for 2020.

Abreu had an NFBC ADP of 87.2 entering last season’s drafts, and 44.1 the season before. But his 2019 wasn’t actually all that bad: .284 AVG/ 85 R/ 33 HR/ 123 RBI/ 2 SB. And he’s one of the most consistent players in baseball. Besides an injury-shortened 2018 — in which he nevertheless maintained a nice pace — Abreu had 5 straight seasons of hitting .284+ with at least 25 home runs (four of which were over 30 HR) and 100 RBI. For that reason, even as he enters his age-33 season, I’m not concerned with the floor, which is generally what I look for in the early rounds.

No, my guess is Cockroft and others have discounted Abreu because they’re worried about the ceiling. In fairness to them, with such consistency comes lowered expectations for a breakout, particularly as a player ages. But I think Abreu can outperform expectations. Let me show you why:

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All the hard work is finally culminating after countless all-nighters at Razzball Headquarters scheduling inspiration sessions and using interns as footrests while watching The O.C.  So much culmination going on over here. Anyway, I’m pleased to announce Razzball will be partnering with the kind folks at The NFBC to bring you a legendary fantasy baseball contest. A happening which will go down with the Agricultural Revolution, the Treaty of Versailles, and the invention of yoga pants, among the greatest events in human history: The RazzSlamWhat is the RazzSlam and how does this Donkey still have a job after ranking Kikuchi #26 among starting pitchers in 2019? I’m glad you ask, random italicized voice.

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Even after harvesting the farm to add star-level MLB bats (Marcell Ozuna and Paul Goldschmidt) each of the last two off-seasons, the Cardinals’ system remains solid. 

We’ve known for years the Cards get more out of their fringe types than just about every organization. We even invented a phrase to encapsulate this quality, letting “Devil Magic” explain everything Cardinal for years before the Astros and Dodgers captured the zeitgeist. You’ll still hear the phrase, but not every ten minutes like once upon a time. These days, we know everyone’s just cheating and hacking and scratching and clawing for every little inch of advantage they can get, but hey, that’s the American Dream personified via sport. Better to ask forgiveness than permission. You can always find a fall guy no matter how ugly it gets. (See: Correa, Chris)

That’s a link to just one story, but the whole saga is pretty good lore if you get on an injustice kick.

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