MLB trade deadline: What AL contenders must do to stay in first

Baseball is back and the second half push to the playoffs begins. The MLB trade deadline comes in the second half as well and is Christmas in July for baseball fans. Strategy, money and moves galore (hopefully).

This period is a chance for teams to either sell off parts in order to rebuild or make the trades necessary to help their squad make it to the playoffs and an eventual push for the World Series. These are the moves the teams currently in first place for their respective divisions need to make to remain in first by July 31.

Boston Red Sox

If you follow baseball or this team at all, then you know their weakest position currently is at third base. Pablo Sandoval has been anything but useful or even available and has been designated for assignment. Also they traded away Travis Shaw who is having an excellent season for another first place team.

While everyone believes Todd Frazier is the best and only option available for trade, I would like to look at another in Nick Castellanos.

MLB trade deadline

Courtesy of: Bleacherreport.com

The Detroit Tigers are having a very disappointing season and will most likely be sellers during the trade deadline for the first time in a long time. They also have arguably one of the worst farm systems in baseball. Most of their top players are in Double-A ball and below which means they have a long time to wait to see if they develop.

To speed up the process of their inevitable rebuild, they could and should be looking to trade away as many players as possible.

Castellanos is only 25 and is under team control until 2020 which means Detroit could ask a decent return. So why would the Red Sox make this trade?

To start, they would get a solid everyday third baseman that could grow with the young players they are building around now like Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts and more. Rafael Devers is still at least one or two years away and wont be able to help them win now. It is unlikely they would have to part with him to get Castellanos as well.

Castellanos has been in the league for four full years now. You know what you are going to get out of him, whereas you never truly know with a prospect. He has experience, making playoff runs with the Tigers and still has room to grow.

The Red Sox would most likely only have to give up two of their top 25 prospects, most likely ones in the teens and below. They may also throw in a PTBNL or just an extra pitcher to sweeten the deal.

Nick Castellanos would solidify the Red Sox third base problem not only for now but also for the future. Todd Frazier on the other hand may cost only one top 25 prospect but he would also be a free agent at the end of this year and has seemed to have trouble batting for average ever since he was traded to the White Sox.

Cleveland Indians

It took the Indians awhile to catch up to the Twins, but they have taken hold of first and wont let it go for the rest of the season. This team can hit and is being led by its young superstars Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor while getting help from players like Edwin Encarnacion who struggled mightily to start the season but has figured it out.

MLB trade deadline

Photo: Sportsblog.com

Another strength of the World Series runner-ups is their bullpen. Their weakness? Outside of Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and surprisingly Mike Clevinger, this team’s starters have struggled. Trevor Bauer, Danny Salazar, and Josh Tomlin all have ERAs over 5.

There are many attractive options on the market for the Indians. The question will be how much are they willing to give up in order to get the starting pitching help they need?

Last year, they traded away Clint Frazier and a multitude of other prospects in order to get their stalwart setup man, Andrew Miller. That being said the Indians still have some pieces that they could trade. I highly doubt they will trade Bradley Zimmer as he is with the club now and making a solid contribution.

There are a multitude of options for the Indians to help make their second World Series run in as many years. I like Sonny Gray, but I think his asking price will be too high considering how he has pitched in the last two seasons. This leaves two options: Gerrit Cole and Johnny Cueto.

Both the Pirates and Giants respectively have been under-performing and it looks like they will have to be sellers. While Gerrit Cole is better, he and Sonny Gray have a similar problem. They are going to cost more than the Indians are willing to give.

That is why they could trade for Cueto. He has won a World Series and has been in Cy Young contention, but the Indians could get him for a bargain. He has not pitched extremely well this season and the Giants are desperate (or should be) for prospects as they have one of the worst farm systems in baseball.

The Indians could give up one top 25 prospect not named Zimmer or Mejia and two others right outside their top 25 for Cueto. He would be a great pickup and if he could find his form again, he could be a top of the rotation guy to help the Indians try to make it back to the World Series.

Houston Astros

The Astros were my World Series pick back in January and I am glad that they have yet to let me down. Their lineup can hit from 1 to 8 and Keuchel and McCullers make up an amazing top of the rotation.

MLB trade deadline

Photo: SFgiantsrumors.co

Brad Peacock is finally living up to his potential, whether he is in the bullpen or the rotation. While most are looking at the rotation, and they could improve there, Peacock may actually be a legitimate option that will help them keep their first-place standing. Also, Colin McHugh should be coming off the DL soon and can help to solidify the rotation.

The Astros are missing another reliable bullpen arm. We saw how important they were in last year’s playoffs and right now the Astros have a pretty good bullpen. But if they are going to want to make a real run, they need a great bullpen.

They won’t give up what teams gave up to get pitchers like Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman last season. Instead, they will go for options that are a small step down.

In steps another Giants player and someone who has been a crucial piece in their bullpen for a long time, George Kontos.

Kontos has a career ERA under 3 and he has been in many high-pressure situations, including helping the Giants win multiple World Series. While he is not a flashy pickup, he is a reliable one, and should be relatively cheap, as he’s still under team control until 2020.

The Astros would not have to part with any of their major prospects. They could easily throw the Giants one of their lower top 25 prospects and some cash or another lower level prospect with high potential.

Kontos would solidify the bullpen as the Astros head into October. His experience would help the younger Astros team and again he would cost a lot less than someone like Sonny Gray or David Robertson.

Conclusion

The trade deadline is an unpredictable time and has a major affect on the way the rest of the season and future seasons will play out. Look out for what first place NL teams needs to do in order to stay in first place.

 

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2017 Fantasy Baseball Pitcher Rankings

Crying Tiers of Joy: 2017 Fantasy Baseball Pitcher Rankings

With only a week until opening day, it is time to revisit my starting pitcher rankings for 2017. My original rankings can be found at Thegamehaus.com, which were done on January 27th, 2017.

The top 120 starting pitchers have been grouped into eight tiers. The average draft position, (ADP), of each player according to FantasyDraftPros.com, are listed adjacent to the player.

Exceptions include: Rasiel Iglesias (CIN) and David Phelps (MIA) who both will be primarily relievers in 2017.  

 

Tier 1

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Clayton Kershaw looks to return to Cy Young form in 2017 (Credit: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images).

  • Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers, (5)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tier 2

2017 Fantasy Baseball Pitcher Rankings

Max Scherzer is looking to add hardware to his cabinet in 2017 (Courtesy of Getty Images)

  • Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals, (13)
  • Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants (14)
  • Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets, (18)
  • Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox, (19)
  • Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians, (22)
  • Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers, (39)
  • Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals, (50)

 

 

 

 

Tier 3

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Justin Verlander will hope his 2016 success carries over to 2017. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

  • Jon Lester, Chicago Cubs, (34)
  • Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers, (39)
  • Jake Arrieta, Chicago Chicago, (29)
  • Johnny Cueto, San Francisco Giants, (41)
  • Chris Archer, Tampa Bay Rays, (52)
  • Jacob deGrom, New York Mets, (58)
  • Carlos Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals, (66)
  • Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland Indians, (59)
  • Kyle Hendricks, Chicago Cubs, (64)
  • Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees, (73)
  • Cole Hamels, Texas Rangers, (79)
  • David Price, Boston Red Sox, (73)

 

Tier 4

2017 Fantasy Baseball Pitcher Rankings

Rick Porcello has impressed this season, throwing himself into the Cy Young conversation. (Courtesy of Dan Hamilton of the USA Today)

  • Rick Porcello, Boston Red Sox, (88)
  • Jose Quintana, Chicago White Sox, (91)
  • Julio Teheran, Atlanta Braves, (99)
  • Danny Salazar, Cleveland Indians, (111)
  • Felix Hernandez, Seattle Marines, (115)
  • Aaron Sanchez, Toronto Blue Jays, (106)
  • Danny Duffy, Kansas City Royals, (97)
  • Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh Pirates, (91)
  • Kenta Maeda, Los Angeles Dodgers, (98)
  • Zack Greinke, Arizona Diamondbacks, (89)
  • Lance McCullers, Houston Astros, (146)
  • Michael Fullmer, Detroit Tigers, (123)

 

Tier 5

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Marcus Stroman anchors teams USA’s rotation in route to a WBC title. (Courtesy of Getty Images)

  • Marcus Stroman, Toronto Blue Jays, (124)
  • Rich Hill, Los Angeles Dodgers, (114)
  • Tanner Roark, Washington Nationals (139)
  • Steven Matz, New York Mets, (142)
  • Dallas Kuechel, Houston Astros, (122)
  • Kevin Gausman, Baltimore Orioles, (130)
  • John Lackey, St. Louis Cardinals, (136)
  • Jared Eickhoff, Philadelphia Phillies, (217)
  • Matt Harvey, New York Mets, (134)
  • Jameson Taillon, Pittsburgh Pirates, (150)
  • Jonathan Gray, Colorado Rockies, (176)
  • Carlos Rodon, Chicago White Sox, (177)
  • Vincent Velasquez, Philadelphia Phillies, (179)
  • Sean Manaea, Oakland Athletics, (167)
  • Julio Jurias, Los Angeles Dodgers, (180)
  • Jake Ordorizzi, Tampa Bay Rays, (171)
  • Garrett Richards, Los Angeles Angels, (211)
  • Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals, (195)
  • Drew Smyly, Seattle Mariners, (185)

 

Tier 6

(Courtesy of Dan Hamilton of the USA Today)

Michael Pineda has untapped potential, can he progress in 2017?(Courtesy of Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports)

  • Michael Pineda, New York Yankees, (183)
  • Robbie Ray, Arizona Diamondbacks, (204)
  • Matt Shoemaker, Los Angeles Angels, (186)
  • James Paxton, Seattle Mariners, (153)
  • Aaron Nola, Philadelphi Phillies, (162)
  • Jeff Samardzija, San Francisco Giants (164)
  • J.A. Happ, Toronto Blue Jays, (168)
  • Matt Moore, San Francisco Giants, (181)
  • Marco Estrada, Toronto Blue Jays, (191)
  • Drew Pomeranz, Boston Red Sox, (208)
  • Taijuan Walker, Arizona Diamondbacks, (211)
  • Sonny Gray, Oakland Athletics, (212)

 

Tier 7

2017 Fantasy Baseball Pitcher Rankings

Anthony Desclafani was named the Ace for 2017, although an injury may cause him to begin the year on the DL. (Courtesy of MLB.com)

  • Anthony Desclafani, Cincinnati Reds, (242)
  • Junior Guerra, Milwaukee Brewers, (249)
  • Gio Gonzalez, Washington Nationals, (263)
  • Collin McHugh, Houston Astros, (253)
  • Ian Kennedy, Kansas City Royals, (256)
  • Trevor Bauer, Cleveland Indians, (274)
  • Robert Gsellman, New York Mets, (267)
  • Tyler Glasnow, Pittsburgh Pirates, (268)
  • Joe Ross, Washington Nationals, (224)
  • Jharel Cotton, Oakland Athletics, (240)
  • Jose Berrios, Minnesota Twins, (256)
  • Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays, (220)
  • Daniel Norris, Detroit Tigers, (272)
  • Alex Cobb, Tampa Bay Rays, (277)
  • Francisco Liriano, Toronto Blue Jays, (282)
  • Zach Davies, Milwaukee Brewers, (285)
  • Mike Montgomery, Chicago Cubs, (274)
  • Jason Hammel, Kansas City Royals, (278)
  • Hisashi Iwakuma, Seattle Mariners, (235)
  • Jordan Zimmerman, Detroit Tigers, (278)
  • Ivan Nova, Pittsburgh Pirates, (254)
  • Ervin Santana, Minnesota Twins, (266)
    2017 Fantasy Baseball Pitcher Rankings

    Eduardo Rodriguez has made the necessary corrections to start the year with the big club. (Courtesy of Nancy Lane)

  • Lance Lynn, St. Louis Cardinals, (266)
  • Dylan Bundy, Baltimore Orioles, (268)
  • Eduardo Rodriguez, Boston Red Sox, (295)
  • Tyler Skaggs, Los Angeles Angels, (303)
  • Joe Musgrove, Houston Astros, (300)
  • Tyler Anderson, Colorado Rockies, (310)
  • Dan Straily, Miami Marlins, (312)
  • Brandon Finnegan, Cincinnati Reds, (336)
  • Shelby Miller, Arizona Diamondbacks, (376)
  • Scott Kazmir, Los Angeles Dodgers, (350)
  • Tyler Chatwood, Colorado Rockies, (361)
  • Adam Conely, Miami Marlins, (321)

 

Tier 8 (The Rest)

  • Chris Tillman, Baltimore Orioles, (308)
    2017 Fantasy Baseball Pitcher Rankings

    Chris Tillman looks to recover from his disastrous second half of 2016. (Courtesy of csnmidatlantic.com)

  • Mike Leake, St. Louis Cardinals, (341)
  • Edinson Volquez, Miami Marlins, (390)
  • Michael Foltynewicz, Atlanta Braves, (298)
  • Jamie Garcia, Atlanta Braves, (338)
  • Steven Wright, Boston Red Sox, (321)
  • Wie-Yin Chen, Miami Marlins, (332)
  • C.C. Sabathia, New York Yankees, (361)
  • Clay Buchholz, Philadelphia Phillies, (355)
  • Charlie Morton, Houston Astros, (386)
  • Tyson Ross, Texas Rangers, (314)
  • Andrew Triggs, Oakland Athletics, (358)
  • Lucas Giolito, Chicago White Sox, (331)
  • Chris Devenski, Houston Astros, (336)
  • Luke Weaver, St. Louis Cardinals, (341)
  • Luis Severino, New York Yankees, (344)
  • Jose De Leon, Tampa Bay Rays, (350)
  • Zack Wheeler, New York Mets, (361)
  • Mike Fiers, Houston Astros, (384)
  • Hyun-Jin Ryu, Los Angeles Dodgers, (414)
  • Nathan Karns, Kansas City Royals, (420)
  • Ricky Nolasco, Minnesota Twins, (432)
  • Seth Lugo, New York Mets, (412)

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Cleveland Indians Prove That Money is Not Everything

The Cleveland Indians are one win away from being World Series Champions for the 2016 season. Unexpected by most MLB pundits at the beginning of the season, the Indians are in the driver’s seat as games 6 and 7 (if necessary) will be played at Progressive Field (The Jake). The Indians have a nice young core of players in place that even if the Indians were to fail this year, the team has the potential to return the next few seasons to attempt to become champions again.

The Indians have this kind of exciting future because of years of rebuilding that is very common among small market teams. Unlike any other major sport in the United States, the MLB does not have a salary cap. Thus, the lack of salary cap has divided teams into two categories, small market and large market teams.

Small market teams are exactly that, a team that does not throw around a lot of money (relatively speaking) on the free agency market. The team can still be from a major city, but will more than likely look to trade a player to maximize a return instead of keeping them for the rest of the year if the team feels it cannot make a playoff run, especially if the team feels they will not be able to resign them in the offseason.

Small market team success is almost always cyclical, as the team will rise to a peak around a core group of players for a couple of seasons, only to lose said players to teams that can afford them once free agency hits. Losing these players will lead to down seasons until the team acquires a new young core to take the place of the old.

Cleveland Indians

Pablo Sandoval is a modern example of large market money being wasted. Pablo is making $19 million a year to ride the bench for the Red Sox. Photo courtesy of USATSI

Large market teams are the teams that always feel the media pressure to win, and as such, tend to shell out more money once free agency hits during the offseason. Often found in the largest American cities, these teams tend to experience the most success and the biggest national brands. Money not being an issue for these teams may create more success for their fans, but oftentimes, large market teams draw the disdain of the smaller market fans because of the money.

Teams like the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox can afford to take more risks on the market, handing out too much money on players who can bust and still not hurt the team too badly.

The Cleveland Indians fall into the category of the former as one of the many small market teams in the MLB. The Indians were one of the top American League teams through the late 1990’s before losing their core and starting the rebuild.

From 2002 through the end of 2012 (11 total seasons), the Indians finished with an above .500 record only twice (three times if you consider 2008 where they finished exactly .500). The Indians spent that decade signing and drafting the core in place now, trading away notable players like Bob Wickman, C.C. Sabathia, and Cliff Lee. In return, the Indians received many failed and fringe talents, but also received future studs like Carlos Carrasco and Michael Brantley.

Receiving prospects for proven talent is a tricky business in the MLB. Scouting is very important, as the majority of prospects never make it in the MLB.  The MLB draft is important as prospects establish the core of every small market team.

So much can go wrong before these prospects make the majors, that said it can truly take some teams a decade or more for a true rebuild to occur. Modern medicine and scouting techniques have helped improve a team’s chances of landing a stud prospect, but sometimes luck is what a team needs more than anything.

The Cleveland Indians drafted Cody Allen in the 16th round of the 2010 amateur draft. Cody Allen is now a top-10 closer on a potential World Series champion team.

Cleveland Indians

Corey Kluber may pitch like an ace now, but he was not drafted like it. Klubot was drafted in the 4th round of the 2007 amateur draft by the San Diego Padres. He would later be sent to the Indians in a 3 team deal involving Ryan Ludwick and Jake Westbrook.

Small market teams must prioritize who to spend money on once free agency looms for their core. These teams can not afford all their players, so these teams must pick and choose who they can keep.

The Cincinnati Reds faced this dilemma in regards to their rotation when the team peaked in 2012. The Reds could only afford to pay one of their three stud pitchers of Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, and Homer Bailey. The Reds picked Bailey from the bunch, who has had a career marred by injuries since signing his contract extension.

The Indians will have some difficult decisions with their bullpen in the future as well. Picking the right players to pay will not be the only factor in keeping a small market team afloat, but it will expedite the rebuild and keep the excitement going for most fans.

The Indians appearance in the 2016 World Series gives faith to most small market teams, showing that their is a light at the end of the rebuild tunnel. Building through the draft and acquiring prospects may be hard for fans to watch in the early going, but when done effectively, will provide a core that will give the team an opportunity to win it all a few years down the road. The Indians construction of a young and elite rotation, a good core of hitters, and a dominant bullpen gives a recipe for other small market teams to follow. It is truly up to the scouting and development of each team to effectively implement the blueprint to succeed.

The Indians are not the first small market team to reach such success and they will definitely not be the last. Fans of small market teams, nevertheless, are happy to see the Indians in the World Series simply to reaffirm the belief that someday their team will be in the same spot once their process is complete. Having the Indians defeat a large market team like the Chicago Cubs would just be icing on the cake for most of these fans.

AL Central Weekly: 4/18-4/24

  1. Melky Cabrera has been a huge piece to the White Sox offense. Photo courtesy usatoday.com.

    Chicago White Sox, 13-6

The White Sox won two out of four from the Angels and then swept the rangers for five wins this week. Chicago is playing really good baseball and is at the top of the American League Central. Melky Cabrera hit .333 for the week to lead the offense. His two home runs were second on the team behind Todd Frazier who had three home runs this week. Mat Latos has continued his bounce back season and improved to 4-0 with a 0.74 ERA. Chris Sale is also 4-0, but has a 1.80 ERA.

Upcoming games: at Blue Jays (3 games), at Orioles (4 games)

Wade Davis is the best pitcher in one of the best bullpens in the league. Photocourtesy foxsports.com.

2. Kansas City Royals, 12-6

Kansas City took two out of three from the Tigers and Orioles this past week. Mike Moustakas has heated up hitting .375 and two home runs this week. Jerrod Dyson added a .368 average and two stolen bases to bolster the offense. Wade Davis picked up two saves in the last seven days to continue to lead one of the best bullpens in baseball. Yordano Ventura had two starts and two wins for a weak starting rotation.

Upcoming games: at Angels (3 games), at Mariners (3 games)

Francisco Lindor has turned into an offensive star for the Indians. Photo courtesy ohio.com.

3. Cleveland Indians, 9-7

The Indians lost two out of three to the Mariners, but then swept the Tigers. Francisco Lindor hit .409 and added 5 walks for the offense. Carlos Carrasco has had a great start to the season and this week went 1-0 in two starts with a 1.00 ERA. The bullpen has pitched really well, which includes great efforts from Joba Chamberlain, Ross Detwiler, Jeff Manship and Zach McAlister.

Upcoming games: at Twins (3 games), at Phillies (3 games)

Ian Kinsler has used his heady play to keep the Tigers competitive. Photo courtesy zimbio.com.

4. Detroit Tigers, 8-9

Detroit lost two out of three to the Royals and then got swept by the Indians in a rough week. Ian Kinsler was far and above the best player at the plate for the Tigers. He hit .320 with two RBI. Jordan Zimmerman got the only win for the Tigers with 6.1 innings pitched and no runs allowed.

Upcoming games: vs. Athletics (4 games), at Twins (3 games)

Byung Ho Park hit .455 for the Twins this week. Photo courtesy wtsp.com.

5. Minnesota Twins, 5-14

After taking two out of four from the Brewers, the Twins were swept by the Nationals. The Twins had a great offensive week with Byung Ho Park, Kurt Suzuki, Eduardo Nunez, Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario all hitting above .300. Ricky Nolasco had one of the two wins for the Twins this week with a 1.42 ERA.

Upcoming games: vs. Indians (3 games), vs. Tigers (3 games)

Todd Frazier has increased his power numbers this week. Photo courtesy gettyimages.com.

Player of the Week: Todd Frazier, 3B, White Sox

Frazier hit .292 with three home runs this week to get his season back on track.