Cubs Lose Jake Arrieta’s Start

The Chicago Cubs finished their series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 2nd. The Cubs won three out of the four games against the Dodgers, but failed to take advantage of a Jake Arietta start in their one loss. Arrieta went seven innings giving up no runs.

The Cubs lost the game in the last two innings. After seven innings, the game was scoreless, but two runs were scored off pitcher Clayton Richard in the eighth and three runs were scored off pitcher Adam Warren in the ninth.  The Cubs lost 5-0.

The last time the Cubs lost a game when Jake Arrieta started a game was in July of 2015. The game was officially a no-decision for Arrieta so it didn’t affect his win-loss record.

On June 5th, however, The Arizona Diamondbacks managed to put up three runs on Arrieta. The Cubs offense only managed to put up two runs in that game. The final score was 3-2, giving Arrieta his first loss in eleven months.

Best Rotation in the MLB?

As of June 4th, the five starters of the Cubs rotation all have an ERA under three. John Lackey has a 2.88 ERA, which is the best among starters. The average ERA of the five starters is 2.55, the best statistically in the MLB as of June 4th.

Hot Streak

The Cubs have won ten of their last twelve games as of June 5th. This comes after the Cubs had lost eight of twelve at one point in May. The Cubs are hitting especially well in their current stretch.

The home run ball has especially helped the Cubs. Anthony Rizzo hit one out to right field on the on June 4th and Kris Bryant has hit 400-foot home runs on consecutive days this past week. Dexter Fowler recently hit his 3rd leadoff home run.

Fowler has been especially good against opposing fastballs. According to an infographic posted on Inside Edge’s twitter account, Fowler has a .405 batting average when a fastball is thrown to him. Five of his home runs have also come off fastballs.

Looking for Relievers?

According an article published by ESPN’s MLB Rumor Central, the Cubs are possibly looking for a lefty reliever on the trade market. The news come in the wake of Clayton Richard’s struggles. Richard has an 8.00 ERA in sixteen appearances as of June 3rd.

The article specifically mentions Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller of the New York Yankees as trade targets for the Cubs. The Cubs have recently done business with the Yankees, trading Starlin Castro this past winter. The Cubs got Adam Warren in return, who has a 2.75 ERA as of June 5th.

Will the Yankees will be willing to trade one of their relievers? It is not guaranteed. The Yankees are currently six games back of the Boston Red Sox in the American League East, but could improve their standing as the summer goes on. It is too early in the year for the Yankees to give up hope on the postseason.

Chi-Sox Deal For Padres’ Shields

According to SB Nations Chris Cotillo and CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes, the Chicago White Sox have acquired pitcher James Shields via a trade with the San Diego Padres.

Thus far, the Chi-Sox pitching staff has been anchored solely by Chris Sale (9-2/2.58 ERA/78 SO) and Jose Quintana (5-5/2.13ERA/67 SO).

Meanwhile, sophomore starter Carlos Rodon (2-5/4.41 ERA/59 SO), and veteran Mat Latos (6-1/4.02 ERA/31 SO) have struggled of late.

So, the trade for Shields (2-7/4.28 ERA/57 SO) is most likely to bring stability to the rotation.

If nothing else, he’ll eat a ton of innings.

Despite his own recent struggles, Shields has pitched 200-plus innings while earning double-digit wins for nine consecutive seasons (from 2007-2015, with an average ERA of 3.70).

Meaning Shields is durable, and capable of winning his share of games for Chicago.

Considering how close the race for first place in the American League Central has become, Chicago will take any win they can get.

Currently, the White Sox (29-27) are two games behind the Kansas City Royals (30-24), with the Cleveland Indians (29-24) wedged in-between.

(Photo Credit: San Diego Union Tribune/AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

 

It’s also important to note that Chicago will be getting Shields at cost.

Per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale and Bleacher Report’s Adam Wells, the Padres will pay $29 million of the $56 million left of Shields’ four year deal, which dates back to February of 2015.

As for what San Diego received from the deal, per the San Diego Union Tribune’s Dennis Lin, the Padres got minor leaguers Fernando Tatis Jr. and Erik Johnson.

Before this Saturday swap, the 33-year-old veteran was scheduled to start opposite Colorado Rockies pitcher Jon Gray this Sunday.

The White Sox have next Monday off, and Shields could potentially replace Sox pitcher Miguel Gonzalez (scheduled to start Wednesday June 8th), to make his first appearance with Chicago, during the teams interleague series against the Washington Nationals which begins the following Tuesday (June 7th).

Final Thoughts:

All in all, this deal should pan out for the White Sox.

Chicago isn’t investing too much contract wise with Shields, and merely gave up a pair of unproven prospects.

Best case scenario, Shields bounces back to his old form with a new team. Worst case scenario, he fails to reach nine wins this season, and only pitches 175-plus innings of work.

Either way, Shields could be the difference between the Chi-Sox winning their first division crown since 2008, or making the post-season via one of the two AL Wild Card spots.

Chase Utley Gets the Last Laugh Against the Mets…. For Now

Perhaps no player in all of baseball is hated more by the fan base of a team than Chase Utley is loathed by the New York Mets fans. On Saturday night, the hatred was out in full force when the Los Angeles Dodgers were at Citi Field taking on the Mets.

Utley has been a thorn in the Mets side for years. Ever since his days with the Philadelphia Phillies, the 37-year old second baseman has always put up good numbers against them. In his career, Utley has hit 38 home runs against the Mets, the most he’s hit against any team. Especially when he was in Philadelphia, he had a knack for getting big hits when he played the Mets. However, this is only part of the reason that their fans dislike him so much.

In mid-August of last season, the Phillies traded Utley to the Dodgers in exchange for Darnell Sweeney and John Richy. This marked the end of his 13-year career in Philadelphia, but it certainly didn’t mean that his rivalry with the Mets was over. Sure enough, the Dodgers and Mets both won their respective divisions and ended up playing each other in the 2015 NLDS. Utley only had three at-bats in the entire series, which included one hit. His most memorable moment in the series came during the seventh inning of Game 2, following that hit. In an attempt to break up what possibly could have been an inning-ending double play, Utley slid into Mets shortstop Rubén Tejada. Not only was he ruled safe at second base after a video review, but Tejada had to leave the game due to a fractured right fibula. The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the game at that point, but they rallied and went on to win 5-2. Utley was originally suspended two games by Major League Baseball for the slide, but because he appealed the suspension, he was allowed to play the remainder of the NLDS.  The  Mets were able to win the series in five games, but Tejada did not return. He missed the remainder of the postseason, and the Mets eventually lost in the World Series to the Kansas City Royals.

It was assumed that the Mets were going to try and get revenge on Utley sometime during the 2016 season. Major League Baseball officially dropped his suspension on March 6, meaning there would be no punishment at all for the slide. Unsurprisingly, Mets fans were not happy. Although Tejada was released by the team on March 16, fans still expected the Mets to try and do something to send a message to Utley when they played the Dodgers. The two teams played a four-game series at Dodger Stadium in early May, but nothing happened. Last weekend, the Dodgers came to Citi Field for three games. This time, plenty happened.

As expected, Utley was booed vigorously by the Mets fans every time he came to bat. He was not thrown at on Friday night. Instead, he had a huge hit in the top of the ninth inning. Facing Mets closer Jeurys Familia with the bases loaded and two outs and his team trailing 5-2, Utley hit a game-tying three-run double. The Mets went on to win the game in the bottom of the inning after Curtis Granderson hit a walk-off home run.

When Utley’s name was announced during Saturday night’s game, he was booed even louder than the night before. With Mets ace Noah Syndergaard on the mound, he struck out looking during his first at-bat. He next came to bat in the top of the third inning. With one out and nobody on base, Syndergaard threw a fastball behind Utley. It didn’t him, but Syndergaard was ejected by home plate umpire Adam Hamari. This led to Mets manager Terry Collins getting thrown out of the game as well. Collins was clearly upset because no warnings were issued before the game. Clearly, Hamari knew Utley’s history with the Mets. He was not hesitant at all to eject Syndergaard for trying to send a message to Utley.

The Mets fans were more outraged than ever. Not only did Utley not even get hit by the pitch, but Syndergaard had been tossed from the game for trying to send a message to him. To make matters even worse for them, Utley hit a solo home run off of Logan Verrett in the top of the sixth inning. But he wasn’t finished yet. Just when you thought he couldn’t become any more villainous to Mets fans, Utley hit a grand slam off of Hansel Robles the next inning. This put the Dodgers ahead 6-0. They went on to win the game 9-1.  

For Utley, it was a very successful weekend in Flushing. The Mets failed to adequately get revenge on him for the slide into Tejada. He hit two big home runs to help the Dodgers crush the Mets. It seems as though Utley has gotten the last laugh against the Mets and their fans. The two teams do not play each other for the remainder of the season. However, there’s always the chance that they meet in the postseason again. If that happens, the series will definitely be must-watch television. The Mets would then have one last chance to get the last laugh against Chase Utley.

Cold Bats Burn Yankees

Just as they started to climb in the standings the Yankees took a turn for the worst and have reverted back to their losing ways. The Yankees are 2-6 in their last 8 games and their hitting has been poor.

Changes need to be made soon or the team may be in trouble through important stretches of the season.

At this point of the season I think every game leading up to the all star break counts so they can have time to see exactly what moves they need to make. There needs to be a change in the offensive strategy because it takes runs to win games.

The batting averages of the major run producers are low such as Mark Teixeira who is batting .185. Brian McCann is also not hitting well with a batting average of .224.

Those numbers are critical especially if these hitters are the power portion of the lineup. Getting on base has not been the problem for the Yankees, but batting those runs in has been a problem season long.

It was a problem early in the season and it is rising again. The Yankees do not want to waste another season and miss the playoffs, but they need help.

The Toronto Blue Jays have had the Yankees number so far this season. In the three series the teams have played against each other this season Toronto has won all three. In the most recent sweep the Yankees could not catch up because of their poor hitting.

The Blue Jays have a great offense and showed that when they broke the Yankees 6 game winning streak just over a week ago. A poor offense against a strong offense with good pitching is dangerous. This is why a change is necessary because, and if none is made the Yankees can expect the same results.

The Yankees have veteran players doing the heavy lifting in the organization, and they could have more of that production if they looked in the minors. Nick Swisher is sitting in the Yankees minor league system and he is ready to be a contributor at the big league level again.

Swisher is hitting .243 right now and is doing well for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The Yankees have options even if they are temporary because they have players that know how fast paced the big league level is, and how to work well inside of it.

I think the team may be hesitant to make any moves because they want to make their current unit work and get comfortable.

The Yankees also need to tune up their pitching staff. Starting pitcher Luis Severino has been sent down to the minors, and that forced the Yankees to move former starting pitcher Ivan Nova back into a starting role.

Although he can be a versatile pitcher Nova did struggle as a starter the past few years and moved to a relief spot. Yesterday he gave up 6 runs and that is an indicator that he does not fit to be in the starting rotation. The Yankees have some decisions in front of them that can change the course of their season for the better, but they have to act fast before it is too late.

The Atlanta Braves Have Their Closer

When you think of the Atlanta Braves, you think of great pitching. More specifically, each Braves team that has been successful over the past two decades have had a dominant closer at the back end of the bullpen. From John Smoltz to Mark Wohlers to Craig Kimbrel, the closer in Atlanta will always have big shoes to fill.

After the trade of the franchise’s all time leader in saves, Craig Kimbrel, before the 2015 season, the team has been searching for that “lights-out” option at the end of games to help put away now hard-to-come-by victories.

The Braves have appear to have found that next great closer.

-Enter Arodys Vizcaino-

Arodys Vizcaino originally signed with the New York Yankees as a teenager out of the Dominican Republic in 2007. Following two brief seasons in the Yankees system, Vizcaino was traded to the Atlanta Braves in 2009 as a part of the Javier Vazquez trade.

After being traded to the Chicago Cubs in 2012, he found his way back to the Braves in 2014 when the Braves sent Tommy La Stella to the Cubs in return for Arodys Vizcaino.

So far in the 2016 season, Vizcaino is a vital member of the Braves’ bullpen, and represents one of the few steady options manager Brian Snitker has to call upon game after game out of the pen.

Now that Vizcaino has established himself as the Braves’ closer, it is becoming clear to those watching that Vizcaino is not planning on giving up the role. He currently has six saves in seven opportunities and is striking out batters at a tremendous clip while limiting his walks (30 K’s in 20.2 innings pitched along with only seven walks ).

Vizcaino possesses a fastball that has been clocked north of 100 miles per hour and sits consistently in the upper nineties (getting an average of 96 to 97 miles per hour on all fastballs per FanGraphs ).

While a prospect, Arodys Vizcaino’s curveball was considered one of his better pitches, being touted as the best curve in the entire Yankees’ system by Baseball America. However, he seems to have abandoned the curve as he has not thrown the pitch in the majors, officially, since 2011. Instead, Vizcaino has focused on a two pitch mix of a fastball and a slider. Each season his confidence in the slider has increased as proven by his reliance on the pitch, throwing it nearly 41% of the time thus far in the 2016 season .

When watching the arsenal of Arodys Vizcaino, one cannot help but think of former Braves closer, Craig Kimbrel, who also uses a two pitch mix to attack opposing batters. While Craig uses his fastball much more than Vizcaino, 75% of his pitches have been fastballs in 2016 compared to just 58% of pitches being fastballs for Vizcaino , Kimbrel uses a different breaking ball than Vizcaino. Craig Kimbrel now uses a fastball and curveball arsenal, which would explain the greater distance in terms of break on his breaking ball compared to Vizcaino’s slider. Both closer’s fastballs sit in the upper nineties with the potential to crack the 100 mile per hour barrier, as earlier stated.

Regardless of his similarities to the man he is replacing, Arodys Vizcaino will almost certainly begin to write his own records in Atlanta Braves history books. He has all the tools and potential to be the next dominate closer for the franchise, and will hopefully be the anchor towards the end of games when the team is looking to be a competitor again. If Vizcaino remains a Brave for the foreseeable future, I can see him challenging Kimbrel’s save records and potentially being the man closing out key playoff games for the team.

For Braves fans, they can just hope he stays healthy and is still around for those comings years of competitive play, as his ability and overpowering arsenal show nothing but dominance in Arodys Vizcaino’s future.

 

Chicago Cubs Pull Out of Recent Slump

 

The Chicago Cubs have won three straight games as of May 27th. The Cubs beat their NL Central rivals the St. Louis Cardinals in the last two games of that series and won the series opener of against the Philadelphia Phillies on the 27th.

In their series opening win against the Phillies, the Cubs rested Anthony Rizzo and put Kris Bryant in his spot at first base. It was an unusual sight, as Bryant usually plays third base. This is the first time all season that Anthony Rizzo has not played a game for the Cubs.

The Cubs were also beneficiaries of well-timed home runs. Jorge Soler hit a 461-foot bomb that bounced off the Cubs Video Board in left field during the 4th inning. David Ross also hit a home run in the fourth inning. The home run hit by Ross was his 100th career homer.

Also helping the Cubs in their last few games was the return of outfielder Jason Heyward. He was injured during the series against the San Francisco Giants. He was only out for a few days and managed to return in time to play the Cardinals, his former team.

Prior to their current win streak, the Cubs had lost eight of their last twelve games. In that stretch, the Cubs lost games to teams that rank in the bottom half of the league. The Cubs dropped two games to the San Diego Padres and two games to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Despite that rough patch, the Cubs are still listed first in the weekly ESPN power rankings. The Cubs also still have the best record in the MLB. Every team has its slumps and the Cubs seem to have pulled out of theirs.

Going Forward

After their series with the Phillies, the Cubs will start the month of June at home against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers are 25-24 as of May 27th. After that, the Cubs will host the Arizona Diamondbacks on June 3rd before traveling on Philadelphia to play the Phillies again on June 6th.

The Cubs a very favorable stretch of games coming up in the next week and a half. The Dodgers are their most difficult opponents and the Cubs will play at home until June 6th.  The Cubs should be able to take most of their games in that stretch.

Starting June 13th, however, the competition heats up. The Cubs travel to Washington D.C. to play the Nationals and then come home to play the Pittsburg Pirates on June 17th and the St. Louis Cardinals on June 20th.

The Cubs have a 4.5 game lead over the Pirates after their series opening win against the Phillies on May 27th. Prior to their slump, the Cubs had an even bigger lead in the NL Central. Depending on how the Cubs do over the next few series, the division could have a new leader by the time the Pirates and Cubs meet.

The Pirates are no joke and despite the recent dominance the Cubs have had over them, it is still early in the season. Anyone could come out on top of the division. No one expects the Cubs to tank, not with all the talent they have on their roster, but it is still possible.

 

 

 

Why James Loney Makes Sense for the Mets

It’s no secret that the New York Mets are having issues at first base right now. Lucas Duda was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Monday with a stress fracture in his lower back. It’s estimated that he’ll be sidelined for about four to six weeks. Eric Campbell has started at the position since Duda’s injury. However, Campbell is not meant to be an everyday player. The Mets need to consider other options.

One option that the team has reportedly been inquiring about is James Loney. Currently with the San Diego Padres organization, Loney has spent the year in Triple-A with the El Paso Chihuahuas. In 154 at-bats, he’s hitting .344 with two home runs and 28 RBIs. His on-base percentage is up to .376. Given that Loney’s currently playing in the minor leagues, the Padres would probably be willing to part with him should the Mets attempt to acquire him.

Joel Sherman of The New York Post reported on Tuesday that the Mets “have some curiosity” about Loney. There’s certainly no reason why they shouldn’t. The reality of the situation is that the team needs a first baseman. Eric Campbell just has not hit enough to justify putting him out there everyday. He can field the position well, but that’s not enough. He’s only batting .192 in 52 at-bats this season, and has just one home run and five RBIs. The Mets don’t really have too many other internal options at first base. Wilmer Flores is expected to be activated from the disabled list later today. He’ll get a chance to be the starting first baseman for the time being. Before he was placed on the disabled list on May 12 with a hamstring injury, Flores was Duda’s primary backup. However, he wasn’t exactly having the best season offensively prior to the injury. Flores is hitting just .180 in 50 at-bats this year, and has a home run and two RBIs. His numbers aren’t really much better than Campbell’s.

The Mets have floated around other internal possibilities, including playing young outfielder Michael Conforto at first base. This would allow center fielder Juan Lagares to get more playing time. This could be a good idea, except for the fact that Conforto has never played first base professionally. Neil Walker sliding over to first base has also been discussed. Although these other options might work, Loney is still the Mets’ best bet.

Loney is a proven major league first baseman who has always put up good offensive numbers. Over the course of his 10-year career, he’s had stints with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, and Tampa Bay Rays. He’s only batted under .250 in a season once. Last year with the Rays, he batted .280 with four home runs and 32 RBIs. He could definitely provide some stability at first base until Duda is able to return. Given that he’s a left-handed hitter with some power, Loney would fit right into the Mets lineup. When Duda is ready to return, Loney could serve as his main backup, adding more depth to the bench. Depth on the bench is something the Mets have definitely lacked this season.

If the Mets are smart, they’ll try and acquire James Loney as soon as possible. He’s a solid short-term option at first base. There’s no reason not to go out there and get him.

Ichiro: The Quest For 3,000 Hits

As of this post, Ichiro Suzuki, mononymously known as Ichiro, is just 40 hits away from joining Major League Baseball’s exclusive 3,000 hit club.

At 42-years-old and playing in his 16th season this year, Ichiro has collected 25 hits in 70 at-bats thus far. This gives him 2,960 career MLB hits, which puts him just two hits shy of passing Sam Crawford (2,961 career hits) for 31st place on the all-time list.

Ichiro recently joined some impressive company, as he tied Craig Biggio, Ken Griffey Sr., and Ty Cobb for the most hits in a three game span by a 40-plus-year-old with 10 (Joe Morgan has the most with 11 hits). Ichiro did so by going 4-for-4 and 2-for-4 against the Washington Nationals this past weekend, followed by a 4-for-5 plate performance on Monday(May 23rd) against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The absence of Miami Marlins right fielder Christian Yelich of late, reportedly due to back spasms, has allowed Ichiro more playing time and plate appearances. Needless to say, Ichiro has been making the most of it, slashing for a respectable .357/.416/.400 thus far.

The key to reaching 3,000 hits for Ichiro, of course, will hinge entirely on how many multi-plate appearances he sees for the remainder of the season.

Ichiro is currently averaging one game played per team series, with an average of roughly two at bats. Given the Fins have a total of 35 series remaining on the schedule, and assuming Ichiro got at least one hit in one game played for those series per his averages, he would fall five hits shy of 3,000.

However, since there is no time-table on when Yelich will return, and seeing as Ichiro will likely see more than two at bats in games he plays moving forward, the 3,000 hit milestone is attainable in 2016. Especially if Ichiro continues to rack up more three plus hit games, when given the opportunity.

 

 

(Ichiro in his Prime while with the Seattle Mariners from 2001-2012. He also had a short stint with the New York Yankees from 2012-2014. Moving to the National League with the Marlins in 2015.--Photo Credit: Elaine Thompson/AP Photo)

(Ichiro in his Prime while with the Seattle Mariners from 2001-2012. He also had a short stint with the New York Yankees from 2012-2014. Moving to the National League with the Marlins in 2015.–Photo Credit: Elaine Thompson/AP Photo)

 

 

For Ichiro, reaching 3,000 hits would be just another incredible feat to go along with an already legendary career. Below is a short list of his career highlights, awards, and achievements:

 

  • Became only the second MLB player since Fred Lynn (1975) to win both the Rookie Of The Year award and Most Valuable Player in the same season in 2001.
  • Set the single-season hits record in 2004 with 262, edging previous record holder George Sisler (257 in 1920) by five hits.
  • In 2010 he finished his 10th consecutive season with at least 200 hits (an MLB record). The only other player to do so was Pete Rose, though his 10 seasons were not all consecutive, rather accumulated.
  • Became the first and only MLB player to hit an inside-the-park home run during an all-star game in 2007.
  • Once stole 45 consecutive bases from April 19, 2006 to May 17th, 2007, which ranks him second in MLB history behind Vince Coleman’s 50 consecutive games (September 16th, 1988 to July 26th, 1989).
  • For his 16 year MLB career, Ichiro currently holds a .314/.357/.406 slash line with 113 home runs, 743 RBI, and 500 stolen bases.
  • Fun Fact: If you included Ichiro’s nine year Japanese League career hit total of 1,278 (he began his MLB career at age 27), he would surpass both Ty Cobb and Rose on the all-time MLB list with 4,278 (if he reaches 3,000).
  • Ichiro would become just the seventh MLB player to have 3,000 hits and 500 steals in a career.

 

Should Ichiro reach 3,000 hits this year, he would tie Roberto Clemente (3,000 hits) and become only the 30th MLB player to accomplish the feat.

 

Final Thoughts:

Ichiro’s nickname, per BaseballReference.com, is “Wizard”. This couldn’t be more fitting, as his baseball career has been nothing short of magical. He’s arguably one of greatest hitters of all-time, ranking somewhere in the top 10 to top five among varying baseball expert circles.

I believe Ichiro, and the Marlins, can find a way to make 3,000 a reality in 2016.

Ichiro will become a free agent at seasons end, and if he is only a few hits shy of 3,000, you can bet Miami or another team will sign him to a one-year deal.

Of course, if Ichiro makes it to the milestone this year, I imagine he would want to ride off into “the rising sun” via retirement.

 

(All statistical information is courtesy of BaseballReference.com, Fox Sports.com, and ESPN.com)

Back In The New York Groove: The Yankees Are Rolling

This six game winning streak the Yankees have put together is building momentum for the team to be contenders in the AL east. This next series can put them over the .500 mark if they win 2 out of 3, so it is important that they take an aggressive approach to this series and they have.

At the beginning of the season the Yankees were not playing like this because of injuries and the suspension of Aroldis Chapman. Now that the bullpen is together and starting pitching has been solid the team is making their competition look rather easy.

Now that the team is playing as one they can help each other out on offense and defense and win big.

Great starting pitching has been a big help in their recent success and that has been supplemented by a high powered offense. In the past six games they have been scoring an average of 5 runs per game. 5 runs should be more than enough with the way the Yankees have been pitching. Making the load lighter on starting pitchers is paying off because they are allowed to have more efficient innings while they have a comfortable lead. The defense is feeding off of the offense and that strategy is the key to keeping a good balance on the field.

The Yankees have also been capitalizing with runners in scoring position. Earlier in the season they would strand runners on second and third, and sometimes with the bases loaded. That was a problem that could not continue or they would have remained in their losing rut.

At some point during the season all of the players will have a drought because it is hard and impossible to stay hot all 162 games. Other teammates are there to pick up the slack and get runs in.

Opposing pitchers should stay away from walking batters because the Yankees have been driving in those runs.

Another reason the run production has been so high is because of capitalization on errors. Errors don’t happen often maybe one or two a game, but when they do the Yankees have taken them and turned them into runs. During the series against the Oakland Athletics they had a total of 6 errors. They Yankees swept and that was a big reason why. Turning mistakes into runs is a different dynamic the Yankees have used that has given them insurmountable leads and helped them win games. Scoring opportunities are important and the Yankees are taking them every chance they get.

Joe Girardi deserves credit for this winning streak and the Yankees getting back to .500. The way he has been managing the pitching staff has helped the starting rotation and the bullpen. He has been using the big 3 when they are needed, but he has given them a chance to rest due to great starting pitching and run support. The Yankees have made winning look easy, but it all starts with the manager and Girardi has found what works for his team.

The Yankees will try to continue their winning streak tonight in game 2 of the Blue Jays series. They will have to be as great as they have been because Toronto can be dangerous with their power hitting lineup.

Why The Braves Shouldn’t Promote Their Top Prospects

With the 2016 Braves continuing to struggle, the fans are looking towards the future. They await the new season, they await the new SunTrust Park, and, more eagerly (or should I say impatiently), they await the arrival of the Braves’ two top prospects Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies.

The argument for promoting these two ballplayers is based on sound logic. The current team is historically bad. The two players appear to almost be major league ready. Why not let the fans get a sneak peak at what all this struggling is leading towards and improve the current team at the same time?

I can understand why many fans feel this way, and the side of me that is a fan is fully onboard with them. Dansby Swanson is currently batting .313 with 4 homers, 21 RBIs, and 9 stolen bases down in the minors so far, and meanwhile Ozzie Albies is already in Triple-A Gwinnett as a 19 year old (over 5 years younger than the average player at that level ) and is batting .312 with 3 homers and 2 triples across two levels this season. They certainly are not far away from being able to produce at the big league level.

So why shouldn’t the Atlanta Braves’ front office promote their top prospects?

The answer is actually rather simple…

Service time

Major league service time is a tricky, frustrating, confusing part of professional baseball that should be adjusted in the future. But for now, I can best explain the concept as so: when a player is called up it begins their service time clock and once a player has elapsed 6 years of major league service time, they then qualify for free agency.

You’ll see front offices manipulating the service time rules in their favor every season, delaying prospects who are likely prepared for the big leagues and waiting to call them up so that will extend their time with the club.

The current system is not fair to the players and casts a negative light on baseball front offices, even though it’s a necessary evil that they must cope with and use to their advantage as best they can (under the current rules).

Waiting until midway through the 2017 season will allow the Atlanta Braves to control their top prospects Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies until after the 2023 season, instead of controlling them just through the 2022 season.

The difference of just one season may not seem like much on paper, but when you consider the Braves window to compete, it could be all the difference they need to make the delay worthwhile.

The 2017 Atlanta Braves will not be serious competitors with or without these two top prospects on the opening day roster. In fact, the Braves likely won’t be competing for the World Series again until at least 2019 or later, with most of their top prospects being several years away, including the potential arrival of this year’s upcoming international signings and draft picks, something that we profiled in much greater detail and depth here: “When Will The Atlanta Braves Compete Again?

So this extra time tacked onto their window of opportunity could prove to be the difference in the Braves winning it all in 2023…or potentially having Dansby Swanson and/or Ozzie Albies leave the team in free agency after the 2022 season.

The Braves front office will likely say that they are not going to hold the players back from making the jump to the big leagues, and that is exactly what they should say. However, the fans should not expect to see their much awaited middle infield tandem until midway through the 2017 season.

I understand this may cause slightly more pain in the now, Braves fans, but it will all be worth it when you have an entire extra season of watching these two future stars up the middle.

Have patience.