Tag Archives: MLB

Is it really home sweet home?

I was browsing through espn.com the other day and I noticed something. It was not the what the future Manny Machado in Baltimore or what the suspension of Robinson Cano will do to his Hall of Fame Ballot.

But, what caught my attention is that MLB teams are winning on the road at a much higher number than previous years.

I’m not here to tell you why this is the case. I’m a numbers guy. I want to show the change in home field advantage in today’s game.

Look at the Atlanta Braves. The Braves finished 2017 in 3rd place in the National League East with a 72-90 record. They compiled two more wins at home than they did on the road in 2017. Forty-two games into the 2018 season, the Braves are sitting atop the NL East. One thing is for sure, if their road record wasn’t where it is, they would not be in that position. Away from SunTrust Park, the Braves carry a 17-8 record. At home, just 9-8.

Sure, they only have played 17 games at home compared to 25 on the road, but check out these numbers from teamrankings.com. At home, the Braves run line is +1.2, whereas, on the road, it increases an entire point to +2.3.

It’s not just the Braves who are winning on the road. Overall, the entire league is having more success away from their home ballparks.

The table below illustrates the number of teams with better records on the road over the last 5 years:

(Stats based on 5/17)

What is the significance of these numbers?

Well, so far this season, 9 teams in the American League win more on the road. NINE TEAMS. That’s the same number the National League had in the last 5 seasons. In the National League this season, 7 teams own better records away from home.

That’s 16 teams. SIXTEEN.

As the season goes on, it will be interesting to see what ends up happening. I leave you with this question to think about:

Will there be more than 16 teams that have better records on the road or will decreases back into single digits?

What does a Manny Machado trade mean for the struggling Cubs?

Here I am just laying in my bed and I get a notification on my phone that says the Chicago Cubs are going to be in talks with the Orioles for a trade involving Manny Machado.

This is huge news and I want to break down the pros and cons of the Cubs being involved in this kind of big name trade.

First off, the Cubs need a spark. Badly. They have been playing very inconsistent on both sides of the game. The Cubs only have one guy batting over .300 and that’s Ben Zobrist who doesn’t play everyday. Kris Bryant started hot but is now batting a still respectable .290. Rizzo has been up and down with injuries and is batting .177. It appears as if he is starting to find his stride, and he will eventually, but for right now he is not bringing the spark this team needs.

Surprisingly Javier Baez has been on a tear. He leads the team with 10 home runs and 32 RBI’s. To go along with that he has a .285 batting average which is a big step up for him. In his last seven games he has 7 hits, 3 of them homers, and 6 RBI’s. He has undoubtedly been carrying this team so far.

The Cubs are currently fourth in the division at 17-15, 2.5 games out of the first place Cardinals at 20-13. Do not worry Cubs fans, they will find their stride they just need a couple of pieces.

Firstly, like I predicted at the beginning of the season, Addison Russell wouldn’t be on the Cubs playoff roster. To me, he just isn’t the stud player he was projected to be. He has his flashes, there’s no doubt about that, but he optimizes the Cubs this season. He is too inconsistent. He is a top 10 shortstop in the league and that is why his trade value is high but he’s not the fit the Cubs need. He’s batting .250 with 9 hits in his last seven games.

If the Cubs go for Machado, Addison Russell will be included the mix. He is under arbitration until  2021 so that gives the Orioles a legitimate shortstop replacement for the next few years without having to spend ridiculous amounts of money on Machado in the upcoming free agency.

Now, what does getting Machado mean for the Cubs. The Cubs need a leadoff hitter. Plain and simple that has been the main reason for their struggles this season. They lost Dexter Fowler and this has led Joe Maddon to experiment with the leadoff spot a lot. First, Ian Happ looked like the guy coming into the season. He was drawing walks and had approach. When he led off the season on the first pitch with a home run everyone thought the Cubs had found their guy. Shortly, Happ fell off the face of the earth and the Cubs struggles set in. Then as Baez got scorching hot, Joe thought to put him there. That was a risk he was willing to take as Baez was playing well but strikes out a lot. While his strikeout numbers are a little down, his walks aren’t going up making him not the leadoff hitter they need.

The struggle for them has been finding someone who can get on base and get the lineup going. With Machado, he is a guy who consistently hits around .300 with virtually no one in front of him in the Orioles lineup. He is currently hitting .346 with 20 walks and 20 strikeouts. He strikes out a bit, but he makes up for it with how many walks he draws. Machado has been able to adjust to anything the Orioles organization has thrown at him. Making him a leadoff hitter might give him the opportunity to become a better hitter, than he already is, and not have to do everything for them like he does with the Orioles.

It would be an interesting move if the Cubs organization decide to make that type of blockbuster trade and it will be interesting to see if Machado can fit the role of a leadoff hitter and potentially give the Cubs a boost they very much need.

What does this mean for the rest of the Cubs lineup:

This would give them the boost they need to start games off and get the guys on base for the big bats like Rizzo and Bryant to get RBI’s and find their stride. It would give the guys who are still finding their way like Happ and Contreras a chance to not have the pressure of hitting in the leadoff spot.

If the Cubs make this trade I would expect the lineup to look something like this:

  1. Machado
  2. ***Almora/Zobrist/Happ
  3. KB
  4. Rizzo
  5. Schwarber
  6. Contreras/Caratini
  7. Baez
  8. Heyward/Happ
  9. Pitcher

With this lineup it gives Joe the freedom to play around with the 2-spot and gives them a solid lineup from top to bottom with great power and the ability to hit for average moving guys around the bases. This would give the Cubs a no doubt World Series lineup, and would take a lot of pressure off the struggling pitching staff.

Now let me get into the negatives of this trade. The Cubs would have to give up a lot more than just Russell. It would include multiple prospects and most likely someone like Happ or Schwarber in there as well. The Orioles would be foaming at the mouth if they could get a guy like Schwarber to be their new DH. The Cubs have already pretty much depleted their once legendary farm system and have focused on the “win now” mentality, and they should. If they want to stay relevant winning now is crucial.

Another downfall is that Machado is a rented player. He becomes a free agent this offseason and is most likely going to end up going to the Yankees if the Cubs want to make any type of push to get Bryce Harper. It’s a big risk that they would have to take and Theo and the front office will have to decide if it is all worth it in the end.

Getting Machado would be a Joe Maddon dream come true and would give them a leadoff hitter they very much need.

Don’t get your hopes up Cubs fans, a lot of teams will be coming to inquire about Machado and I expect the Cubs and Dodgers to make the biggest push for Machado.

Evaluating the Yankees Offseason Moves

The Yankees had quite an interesting offseason. It started with Giancarlo Stanton getting traded for basically just Starlin Castro and seems to have ended with trading for Brandon Drury. Let’s grade all the major offseason moves from November to February.

Acquiring Giancarlo Stanton: A++

Although Aaron Judge looks like the AL version of Stanton, it never hurts to have an NL MVP on the team. This was a great move because it not only brings another huge power bat to the middle of the lineup but it makes the Yankees the “evil empire” again. Also, Brian Cashman gave up NOTHING.

Enjoy this video of what the Yankees will be enjoying

Trading Chase Headley: A

This was another good move for Cashman; he was able to give away an expiring contract. The Yanks are very intrigued by the fact of getting under the luxury tax to prepare for next off-season’s free agents which include Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. Headley didn’t have a spot on this team with Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar on the doorstep of the majors.

Re-signing CC: A

Sabathia was a huge part of the Yankees postseason run last year and it was only right to bring him back for this season. With the Yankees slim on 4 and 5 starters who are proven in the majors, CC made a lot of sense on a 1-year deal.

Acquiring Russell Wilson: B

OK, so obviously Wilson will never actually play for the Yankees ever but this was an interesting move. It wasn’t something the Yankees usually do but it makes sense. With such a young team, Wilson is going to come in and be able to tell the young guys like Judge, Torres, and Sanchez his success story and what he had to do to win a championship. Although this seems more like a Mets move, Wilson can’t hurt the Yankees, he can only help.

The Yankees future second basemen has smooth hands (Just kidding)

Acquiring Brandon Drury: C-

Drury is a solid player but Moustakas also made a lot of sense if Cashman signed him to a 1-year deal. That’s why I give this trade a C- because there were other options out there that maybe were a little more enticing. With a slow free-agent market, Moustakas could be looking at a 1-year prove-it-deal and the Yankees would’ve loved him at third with a short porch in right. Drury will be a good piece at a low price to play either third or second when Andujar or Torres either aren’t ready for Opening Day or start out slow.

You Won’t Want To Miss This (week 1)

I am starting a new thing here at Laced Up. Trying to create my own content for the betterment of the brand. It’s a piece that will come out once a week highlighting the top three things you WON’T want to miss from the upcoming week. It will be the best of the best games, headlines and stories in the world of sports. Trust me, you won’t want to miss this.

Let’s get started:

  1. Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club, Thursday 2/14, CBS & Golf Channel

Holy crap I can’t wait for Thursday’s opening round. The groups were released the other day and Tiger is with not one, but two electrifying young stars. He is paired with Rory and Justin Thomas. If the cameras aren’t following their every move, then there is something wrong. If Tiger is walking between shots and so much as lifts a finger it better be on my screen.

Watching him play at the age he is, after everything he’s been through (no not with his ex-wife, with his body), is miraculous. I read something the other day where a reporter asked Tiger how he trains now as compared to his old ways. Well, here was his response:

Screen-Shot-2018-02-13-at-3.25.25-PM

UNREAL. This man is a legend in every aspect of the word and if that doesn’t get you hyped for Thursday’s opening round, then I don’t know what will.

  1. Players report to Spring Training, Saturday Feb. 17-19, MLB Network

This has got to be a miracle for the MLB Network. Those poor guys have had NOTHING to talk about during the offseason. There’s been no trades, no free agent signings and nothing of value besides rumors. And we all know how much we love rumors. Finally, MLB Network will have something to talk about and you bet I’ll be tuning in.

Spring Training is that perfect time of the year. Baseball season is right around the corner and with that brings nice weather. If you’re one of the lucky ones and live in a warm climate, I envy you. I really do. I’ve lived in Chicago all my life and decided to go to school in Michigan. Yes, Michigan. What on earth was I thinking.

This is my favorite time of the year. I know that baseball is back, and I can finally come out of hibernation and see the sun for the first time in months. Opening day is on the clock and I’ve never been more excited for it to start.

  1. The Olympics, Feb. 9-Feb 25, NBC

Is there anything better than the Olympics? Honestly. Few things in the world come close to the magnitude of the Olympic games. I would say the World Cup is definitely one, and Super Bowl is a maybe second. I love the Olympics because for two weeks it doesn’t matter what your ideals are, or who you vote for, everyone comes together as one nation. America.

With everything going on in our country now, I think the Olympics are a great way for people to put aside their differences and give them something to cheer for. Something they can come together and root for. That is why I love sports so much. The Olympics are everything that is so perfect about competition and athletics.

No issue is too big for the Olympics to put on hold. The athletes that compete in these games are worldwide heroes and deserve every bit of that title. They put on their uniform, ski goggles, skates and whatever else to go out and represent their nation’s colors.

Stay tuned for this every week and more!

You won’t want to miss this.

What signing Darvish means for Bryce Harper

Everyone knows next year will be one of the hottest free-agency markets of recent history.

Two names: Manny Machado, Bryce Harper.

We are talking about a potential billion dollars worth of deals between those two players.

It’s pretty clear those two are going to the best teams in the MLB with the most money. I predict Machado to the Yankees (or maybe White Sox) and, well, I’m praying Harper to the Cubs.

The Cubs just signed Yu Darvish the other day to a 6 yr/$126 million contract.

So, now the question begs,

Will the Cubs still be able to afford a Harper-type contract?

Well, I got out my protractor out and went to town. I crunched the numbers ‘til the sun came up.

Being the GM that I am, and thanks to my friends at Baseball Reference, I looked over the Cubs contract situation and it won’t be easy to put it lightly.

To start it off, I’ll give you a little background on the contract situation. Lester, Zobrist and Heyward are untouchables. Their contracts are huge.

Did the Cubs overpay for Heyward? Yes. Is it the end of the world? No. They bring just enough value to the team to make up for their gargantuan salaries.

Lester’s contract breakdown follows as so. He is owed $27.5 million over the 2018 and 2019 seasons, $20 million in 2020 and $10 million in 2021. Yikes.

Heyward’s contract is $28.17 mil this year, 20 the next, and 84 million over the next four. Bigger Yikes. Yeah, I already know what you’re thinking holy crap did they drop the ball on that one. Heyward’s contract is the most team unfriendly, but there is no question he is getting better and still one of the top corner outfielders in the league.

Zobrist is owed $16.5 mil this year and 12.5 the next. Now, let’s get to the big question.

Will the Cubs be able to re-sign Kris Bryant and Addison Russell and still sign Bryce Harper.

No.

Bryant and Russell are up for arbitration these next three years since their rookie contracts are coming to a close. Both signed handsome bonuses after bringing the North side it’s first World Series in 108 years, but now that’s up.

So, what does this mean? The Cubs have to get rid of one of them, and I promise you it will not be Kris Bryant. Expect the Cubs to shop around Addy this season and help them bolster their farm system that has produced some of the best young talent currently in the game.

Darvish’s contract is going to average $21 million a year, for a 31 year-old pitcher, over six years. It HAS to be win now and by signing Darvish, it is.

If the Cubs shopped Addison Russell this offseason, not only would they get a good deal from whatever team he’s dealt to, it would be one less person the Cubs would have to deal with in Arbitration. For the Cubs to convince Bryant to take a team friendly contract in order to bring in Harper would be much more likely than Russell.

Harper and Bryant have been good friends since Little League in Las Vegas and have been hanging out a lot this offseason so I would expect him to be more lenient on his contract situation, in order to sign one of the best players in the league. I also expect if Harper does decide to come to the Cubs, that he will take less money in order to be on the team he chooses. This could be huge for the Cubs who are already stacked on major contracts.

I know that sending Addy away is not ideal as he’s only been in the league for 3 years and is already one of the best young shortstops in the game. He’s coming off a year last year where he underperformed due to injury and a domestic violence accusation. After getting through both obstacles he had a good postseason with 5 hits, 2 doubles and 5 RBI’s in 10 games.

Opening up the shortstop position could give a guy like Javy Baez, who is under team control, the chance to show what he has at the spot and give Ian Happ a chance to play his natural position at second base. This could be a very good thing for the Cubs because they would have a very good young infield.

Happ and Baez up the middle could become a dynamic duo in the making. Heyward in center, Zobrist in right and Schwarber in left would be a very slow outfield. It would put a lot more pressure on Heyward, but defense is his specialty and he has thrived in center when he’s had to fill in.

Obviously that would be a one year option if the Cubs decided to go after Harper next year.

Kris Bryant and Bryce Harper on the same team again? Watch out MLB.