Have you heard? The Mariners are rebuilding. Cool, but haven’t they been rebuilding for the last fifteen years? Also, is it the wisest decision to tell other teams you’re throwing in the towel in November? Is that like when you’re a girl and you make a vision board that says you’re going to get a boyfriend and you do? Or is it more like a guy who throws a PBR into a fountain and makes a wish to get laid? A girl can find a boyfriend if she’s available. A guy needs more than optimism, otherwise he’s going home with his hand. Guess what I’m saying is the Mariners are a bunch of jerkoffs. With that said, they traded James Paxton to the Yankees for Justus Sheffield and some other prospects. I will get to the prospects on the other side of the ‘Anyway,’ for now it’s Paxton, who I do love, but how surprising is it that he’s 30 years old already? Surprising, right? Last year was the first time he threw more than 160 innings in a year. Walter Johnson, you are not. You’re not even Josh Johnson. His numbers, as always, were spectacular — 11.7 K/9 (4th in majors), 2.4 BB/9, 3.02 xFIP (4th). By the by, in his best career year for innings, he didn’t even qualify for those stats in the leaderboard. I had to sort down to 160 IP. Meh, 150 insanely good innings is better than 200 innings from an Orioles starter. Speedball guys don’t age great, but his velocity was still 95 MPH on average last year, which has been his norm, and he had the third best cutter in the majors (8.2), and the top 5 don’t have anywhere near his fastball. Corey Kluber, for unstints, had 16 wins above average on his cutter, and had a -7 fastball. Paxton had a 11.6 on his fastball. We’re talking elite stuff, obviously. The move to Yankee Stadium and AL East will deflate him a bit, but he can pitch anywhere. For 2019, I’ll give James Paxton the projections of 14-7/3.64/1.12/206 in 179 IP. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this offseason for 2019 fantasy baseball:
Justus Sheffield – Going the other way in the Paxton trade. Spoiler alert! I was going to highlight him in a rookie outlook post, but instead, I’ll just post it here. You get two posts for the price of one! Okay, technically, since you don’t pay anything to read any of this, you could have 1,000 posts for the price of one, so taking two-for-one, you’re kinda losing out. Any hoo! Here’s what I was going to say, “I seriously struggled to find rookie pitchers to highlight this year. Alex Reyes was right at the rookie limit innings pitched cutoff of 50 IP, and is always injured; Brent Honeywell and Michael Kopech had Tommy John surgery this year; Jesus Luzardo looks like he’s at least a half year away and might only be up less than 50 innings this year (though I do like him); Forrest Whitley had injuries/suspensions and, who along with Josh James, is dealing with a stacked Astros rotation he has to try to get in. This, finally, brings (just) us to Justus Sheffield whose Triple-A numbers were, well, okay. He throws 95 MPH with a slide piece, but had merely a 8.6 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in Triple-A. I decided to wag my bat towards Sheffield even though my enthusiasm is not peaking, if you can’t tell. So, what can we expect from Justus Sheffield for 2019 fantasy baseball?
Like a girl who has a thing for the Pep Boys, let’s check out the mechanics:
This is not the most exciting GIF by design. I just wanted to isolate his mechanics and nothing more. Like I’m a part of, say, a Carman Auto Group. By the way, I just bought a house, and now I feel an overwhelming desire to build my own car in the driveway. Like Phife Dawg might’ve sang, what is a driveway without a half-built kit car? Nada, nada, nada damn thing. The only problem is I can’t even put together a dresser from Ikea. Any hoo! Can you see how small he is in this GIF? He’s like 5′ 5″. Marcus Stroman can spot dandruff on this guy’s head because he’s so tiny. Also, in a throwing session, Sheffield can’t throw a strike. I know! This isn’t every pitch he’s ever thrown, but look at him. He’s trying so hard to generate velocity. I don’t think he can throw a strike if the situation calls for it. And by ‘the situation’ I don’t mean Mike Sorrentino, but the catcher. His numbers back this up too. He had a 3.7 BB/9 in Triple-A and 4.5 BB/9 in Double-A in 2018. This is not good. This is against a ton of hitters who are just up there swinging at everything. Granted, with how major leaguers have been approaching hitting recently, this could describe major leaguers too. If there’s only a modest uptick in walks from the minors to the majors, Sheffield is unusable outside of matchups. The Triple-A strikeout rate (8.6) instills no confidence in me either. He has the pitches to be successful and could add more strikeouts to his game, but if you’re not locating, no one is swinging, let alone missing. He’s still only 22 years old, so I’m not writing him off, but unless he gets that disease Robert Z’Dar had in his chin and Sheffield gets it in his legs, he’s not getting any taller. He feels more of a product of the Yankees’ hype machine vs. a chance for a breakout.” And that was present me quoting future me! The only thing Sheffield has going for him at this moment is a chance at a rotation spot, because the Mariners are rebuilding. For 2019, I’ll give Justus Sheffield the projections of 5-7/4.39/1.41/95 in 102 IP, and I think I’m being generous.
Mallex Smith – Traded to the Mariners for Mike Zunino. Saw a lot of people upset with the M’s over this move. If the M’s turn around and trade away Mallex immediately, then obviously everything I’m about to say is cockeyed through a hindsight lens, but Zunino for Mallex is bad? I get it, in real baseball you have to have a catcher, but Zunino is so replaceable and Mallex is on the come. I don’t know nothing about nothing (which is why you’re here), but I’d want Mallex too. Get a Maldonado-type if you need a catcher. For 2019, I’ll give Mallex Smith the projections of 82/3/37/.286/42 in 546 ABs, and Mike Zunino the projections of 47/22/58/.213 in 417 ABs.
Lance McCullers – Will miss the 2019 season with Tommy John surgery. Apparently, 27,204 straight curveballs was the breaking point. Pun noted.
Aledmys Diaz – Traded to the Astros. Diaz is perennially in position to have no position wherever he plays, or, rather, does not play. Not saying this boosts Bo Bichette right to the majors, but someone commented on my Bo Bichette fantasy about how Diaz was blocking him (along with others). Not ragging on that person, but it shows you how hard it is to figure out playing time in November.
Kurt Suzuki – Signed with the Nats. Hey, if you can’t have Bryce Harper why not sign the next best free agent? Ronald Acuña Jr. was recently cited as not having any idea who Mickey Mantle. I’m gonna say Juan Soto’s in the same boat. Imagine Juan Soto’s confusion when asked about Suzuki. There should be a Sporcle about what Acuña and Juan Soto know. That would be awesome. For 2019, I’ll give Kurt Suzuki the projections of 40/10/48/.262 in 337 ABs.
Trevor Rosenthal – Signed with the Nats. Hey, if you can’t have Bryce Harper why not sign– Okay, you get the point. Doolittle is one of the least reliable closers to stay healthy, so Rosenthal should have some value. *looks at how little Rosenthal stays healthy* Okay, well, hopefully Rosenthal is healthy when Doolittle is not and vice versa. For 2019, I’ll give Rosenthal the projections of 3-2/2.98/1.19/81, 8 saves in 61 IP.
Jordan Luplow – Was traded to the Indians along with Max Moroff, going the other way to the…Can you guess what team they were on? Too slow. Headed to the Pirates is Erik Gonzalez, Tahnaj Thomas and Dante Mendoza. By the way, Jordan Luplow sounds like a worried Astro from The Jetsons watching the 1990s Knicks vs Bulls when pronounced in Japan.
Jung-Ho Kang – Re-signed with the Pirates. Solid signing by the Pirates. Not sure where else they’d get a three-times convicted DUI guy who hasn’t played in a few years, and might not be able to travel out of the country. These are the kind of players who are just not in abundance.
Drew Smyly – Traded to the Rangers for previously unreleased DVDs of Name That Sound! with Guy Smiley. Smyly missed all of 2017 and was limited to one rehab start in 2018, so I’m not sure what Drew’s all Smyly about. If he’s healthy, he could surprise with a fantasy number three-type season. If he’s not healthy, he should not go see Dr. James Andrews because I saw him on House Hunters International looking at a castle in Liechtenstein. For 2019, I’ll give Drew Smyly the projections of 7-8/4.28/1.25/134 in 154 IP.