At the end of my last post, Baseball is Back with a Whimper: Pandemic Draft Week Recapa Razzballer named Homer’s got the runs asked if Austin Martin might spend some time in the majors this year, and I had no idea. Well, I had some ideas, but they mostly circled the spires of HellifIknow Mountcastle, the official building of Major League Baseball in 2020. 

We got another noise out of Manfart this week completely disagreeing with the sounds Manfart made last week. Now he says there might not be baseball at all after saying there would definitely 100,000 percent be baseball in 2020. Hindsight, man. Farts. 

Main reason he said anything is the players were like, okay, we’ll play, let’s get started, and ownership was all, but wait, we’re not ready, and you might sue us because we don’t know if what we’re doing is legal. The players wouldn’t sign waivers that said it didn’t matter if the owners were street legal or not, so the owners trotted out this fool who gave away leverage on national television because he momentarily forgot every syllable is a war aimed at the 2021 Competitive Balance Agreement. 

My take = there will be baseball, about 50 games with each team carrying a taxi squad that’s basically an extra roster. 

On the actual field, strategically speaking, a smart play is probably platooning everything, all the way down to the water coolers. Reduce exposure. We don’t know the layout, specifically whether the taxi squads impact the 40-man rosters, but I’m guessing it doesn’t because that could cost owners money in the end. 

Pitching figures to be an all-hands-on-deck scenario. I’m guessing there won’t be any penalty for swapping players on and off the taxi squad, and that any reliever throwing today could be in a beaded backseat tomorrow. Starters bouncing via taxi seems like a given except for the elites who’d probably put a foot-down on that shizz.

Some teams will maximize this wrinkle. Some will iron it out and play it straight. Some will punt possible strategies altogether in an effort to lose well. 

The kicker is: in a short burst with an expanded playoff pool, mediocrity matters. Almost everyone should be trying to win, especially since they’re all so damn broke they can barely afford 20 K a piece for a dozen rona-special free agents. 

For the first time in a long time, we might actually see owners encouraging general managers to eschew service times in search of a playoff paycheck. Shortsighted business is all the rage in baseball’s darkest corridors these days. 

Speaking of dark corridors, if Disney’s dropping five million on Corona safety measures to make one dinosaur movie, what’s the outlay to run a fans-free baseball “season?” That’s my one hesitation in saying it’s a certainty we’ll see baseball this year. We might all be underestimating health and safety costs in a hyper-capitalist healthcare system. I never even hear the prevention costs mentioned. Not once, actually, and I consume T-Rex levels of baseball news. 

So many words already! If you’re interested, I recorded a podcast this week that turns over a henge-full of stones about baseball’s business and digs into the draft, but for now, let’s get to some gaming! 

 

Baltimore Orioles 

1B Ryan Mountcastle got the wrong bus schedule. In a competitive organization, he’d be a near lock to get some 2020 run. In Baltimore, the smart play is probably to lock him up in the highest spire. He’s not on the 40-man, and neither is the next guy. 

RHP Michael Baumann could be in play, but as I said in other words just now, I think Baltimore will do what it can to finish five and 43, assuming they can’t find a way to lose those five games. 

The rest of these Orioles have a 40-man spot. 

RHP Hunter Harvey is on a lot of sleeper closer lists, but a lot of things have to happen for that to actualize, such as Baltimore winning games and Harvey not getting hurt. 

RHP Cody Carroll is a 6’5” Yankee import who’s struggled to throw strikes but has the stuff to come out of this with a role. 

RHP Dillon Tate was picked 4th overall in a previous lifetime but may not be protected this year in part because his clock is ticking. 

RHP Cole Sulser is 30 years old but hasn’t gotten a chance despite pitching well his whole career. I’m intrigued.

SS Ramon Urias and 2B Andrew Velazquez both got lost in a numbers game in deep organizations: St. Louis and Cleveland. I won’t be surprised if both play a lot this year. 

OF DJ Stewart and OF Ryan McKenna will get some chances this year with Trey Mancini in recovery and only Austin Hays in house demanding a long term look, assuming they keep Yusniel Diaz curbed. 

 

Boston Red Sox

Call me a creep, but until Boston signs first round surprise Nike Yorke, I’ll be under the impression they might just punt 2020. They don’t have enough pitching for 162 games but might be able to piece their way through 50-something. 

LHP Darwinzon Hernandez could be dynamite as a follower slicing up a lineup 1.5 times. I think he’d have made the opening day roster in a regular scenario and will be an intriguing source of strikeouts in just about any flexible format. 

RHP Thad Ward could be similarly employed and has a shot to start if Boston tries to win this year, but he’s not on the 40-man and could be left curbside like everything else in the Ronaverse. 

SS CJ Chatham is exactly the kind of player who could benefit this year. He’s close enough to be “ready,” and he doesn’t have enough topside that anyone’s worried about service time. 

3B Bobby Dalbec is on the 40-man roster and likely to get the first corner bat opportunity. He has the power to thrive in a short burst. 

 

New York Yankees

This team is so deep it’s tough to see daylight for the minor leaguers. 

RHP Deivi Garcia could get some innings. He’s on the 40-man, as are a slew of talented righties including Albert Abreu, Luis Gil, Miguel Yajure, Luis Medina, and Michael King. Any one of them could see the field. I like Yajure best but think Gil and Garcia could work today in relief. 

1B Mike Ford could make life tough on Luke Voit Stans. If they can carry him without 25-man complications, I think they will. And if they carry him, they might as well find him some at bats. 

OF Clint Frazier continues to exist. 

As does 2B Tyler Wade

 

Tampa Bay Rays

SS Wander Franco: left waving on the sidewalk like an umbrella-less Karen in a thunderstorm.

2B Vidal Brujan: sidled up next to Wander on the sidewalk, but Brujan’s on the 40-man, and it’s not inconceivable that he gets the call. 

OF Brian O’Grady is a power/speed utility bat on the 40-man–just Tampa’s type. Definitely in line for some time at the first opportunity.

Unless that first opportunity goes to 3B Kevin Padlo, who hit 21 homers and stole 12 bags across 110 games last year: 70 in AA (153 wRC+) and 40 in AAA (151 wRC+). He’s ready for his close up. 

OF Randy Arozarena is the club’s best all-around outfielder not named Meadows. 

SS Taylor Walls: Not on the 40-man, but I wander if Walls would get the call before Franco.

RHP Joe Ryan: Not on the 40 but well within range and a veritable lock for the taxi squad. 

RHP Shane Baz: Not on the 40 and young, but I’m thinking they might carry him in part to keep a close eye on his development, in part because he might be useful out of the bullpen come October. 

 

Toronto Blue Jays 

Here’s a fun spot: a team with money and talent that just brought in a 33-year-old pitcher for 80 million dollars. I’ve been betting on RHP Nate Pearson all year. Years and years, infinity, it feels like, but I’m just referring to redraft season in this context. Though I guess it’s still redraft season? Or it’s about to be redraft season. Words, am I right?

I’m betting on an expanded playoffs now. The juice is now worth the squeeze in more ways than it’s not. 

I don’t think we’ll see Simeon Woods-Richardson, but I’d like to see him on the Taxi squad. Might be overly optimistic because he’s not on the 40, and Toronto has a pile of pitchers who are, most of whom we’ve glimpsed already such as TJ Zeuch, Anthony Kay and Yennsy Diaz

I’ll kick it to Grey from last week here for Dart Throws: Rowdy Tellez.

2B/SS Santiago Espinal isn’t awe-inspiring, but he is on the 40-man roster. I could see him giving a juicy balls burst to some super deepers. 

OF Anthony Alford continues to exist. I will still be tracking him almost daily because I have issues, and because he is a free agent in my 30-team dynasty league. 

I’ll kick it to Grey again from May 1 for Dart Throws: Teoscar Hernandez because I dug this write-up, and because I’m re-watching Ozark right now. 

Thanks for reading!

I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter and Reddit.

 
  1. Rick Brown says:
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    Great write-up Itch.I’m in 3 keeper leagues so I’m always lookin’ for guys to add to watchlists.
    Hope Baltimore does the right thing and plays Mountcastle-looks like he’s ready.
    Thanks,RICK

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks, Rick!

      I don’t think it’s out of the question at all RE Mountcastle and totally agree: I hope he plays. Just kind of my cynical 60/40 guess that he’s kept on the taxi squad in case of emergency.

  2. LenFuego says:
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    “OF Clint Frazier continues to exist. ”

    It is a good thing I had not just taken a big swig of my Big Gulp when I read that, or I would have spit taked (spit took?) it out all over my coronavirus privacy shed.

    Nice report!

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks LenFuego!

      Glad you didn’t splurt!

  3. Speaking of a henge-full of stones…I’ve been digging into the Celtics this week. Apparently they go back much further than The Big Chief. And unlike the Romans, who continue to exist, the Druids seem to have spilt more blood than a middle school girls locker room. Shoutout to Chris D’Elia! Anywho, point is the Maryland Orange Eaters always seem to find a way to get their saves even while being extremely bad. It appears that winning few games at slim margins, unlike great grass-fed butter, is actually a good opportunity for saves.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Maybe we can get you on with Bill Simmons to discuss pre Chief Celtic lore?

      Love those druids.

      I’ll leave the Oriole saves for people with more optimism than me. Top guy had 11 last year. Second best had four. And now they don’t have Villar, Mancini or Bundy. Five might be a stretch in a short burst.

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