Cuban INF Yulieski Gourriel Available For Hire

According to MLB.com, Cuban infielder Yulieski Gourriel has been cleared to become a free agent and could sign with a team as early as this season. The 32-year-old has primarily played third base over his career (13 in the CNS and two in the JPL). He has also played at second base and short stop.

Gourriel has repeatedly expressed a desire to leave Cuba with permission of the Cuban government. He and his younger brother Lourdes (22-years-old) left Cuba’s Ciego de Avila team following its Caribbean Series back in February of this year in search of MLB contracts (per Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com).

Gourriel is regarded as the best baseball player in Cuba and it’s easy to see why when you look at his numbers.

Last year with the Industriales, Gourriel slashed a ridiculous .500/.589/.874 with 15 home runs and 51 RBI in just 49 games. Throughout his professional career Gourriel has a slash line of .335/.417/.580 with 1,585 hits, 250 HR, 1,018 RBI, and 611 BB.

Given that Gourriel is considered by many to be Major League-ready right now, I thought I would provide a look at one team from each division who could potentially sign him.

 

National League East: New York Mets

According to ESPN, the Mets may pursue Gourriel aggressively (and understandably so).

With perennial third baseman David Wright likely sidelined for the remainder of the season due to a herniated disk, the Mets could use someone with Gourriel’s experience who’s ready to make an impact.

Gourriel would also have a clubhouse friend in countryman Yoenis Cespedes, so this would seem like a match made in heaven on paper for both sides.

 

National League Central: Pittsburgh Pirates

Sitting at third place in the NL Central and two-and-a-half games back for one of the two NL Wild Card spots, the Bucs could use a potential offensive boost and change of pace in their infield.

Currently Pittsburgh is comfortable at third base with David Freese and Jung Ho Kang. They also seem comfortable at second base with Josh Harrison, but Gourriel could possibly platoon at short stop with Jordy Mercer.

If nothing else, Gourriel would be welcomed infield depth and could add some needed pop into the Pirates’ lineup.

 

National League West: San Francisco Giants

I’ll admit, the Gigantes are a bit of a stretch here when you consider their more than serviceable starting infield comprised of Matt Duffy (3B), Brandon Crawford (SS), Joe Panik (2B), and Brandon Belt (1B).

However, it wouldn’t hurt to have Gourriel behind any of those guys or allowing them to rest come the dog days of August.

With Hunter Pence possibly out of the everyday lineup until after the All-Star break with a torn hamstring, San-Fran could use a batter of Gourriel’s caliber.

 

 

(Photo Credit: Nati Harnik, AP Photo)

(Photo Credit: Nati Harnik, AP Photo)

 

 

American League East: Baltimore Orioles

The O’s aren’t exactly in dire need for an infielder either (see Manny Machado, Chris Davis, Jonathon Schoop, and JJ Hardy).

Nevertheless, with JJ Hardy still out and rehabbing a fractured left foot and the flexibility of the DH position, Baltimore could use Gourriel as infield depth in a platoon with Alvarez. The O’s could also put him at the hot corner over current starter Ryan Flaherty (while Machado covers at SS in Hardy’s absence).

As you can see, Baltimore would have options by signing Gourriel. And when you are trying to stay atop the AL East, having options is quite the luxury.

 

American League Central: Cleveland Indians

The Tribe, in my opinion, is the AL team who would benefit most by signing Gourriel now. Cleveland currently has a solid middle-infield with short stop sensation Francisco Lindor and veteran second baseman Jason Kipnis. However, the corners of their infield are getting a bit old (Mike Napoli, 34) and worn out (Juan Uribe, 37).

At 32 with 15 seasons under his belt, Gourriel isn’t young either but would seem more serviceable than Uribe at third. Though the Indians do have another promising young talent in Jose Ramirez (currently starting in left field but a third baseman by trade), the addition of Gourriel would give the Tribe more flexibility.

Cleveland is on top of the AL Central by a thin margin and Gourriel could offer assistance in helping distance that lead (you’re probably sensing an AL pattern by now).

 

American League West: Texas Rangers

The Rangers have been red hot lately and have a seven-and-a-half game first place lead in the AL West over the Seattle Mariners. A large part of that success stems from one of the more crowded infields in the majors (see Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, Rougned Odor, and Jurickson Profar).

However, they could make room for Gourriel at first base by rotating with Mitch Moreland.

At the very least, Gourriel could share DH responsibilities with Prince Fielder while also acting as infield insurance.

 

Honorable Mention: Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland Athletics, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees

 

Final Thoughts:

While I feel the Mets or Indians will make the most aggressive run at Gourriel, you never know who might throw their hat in the ring.

This development will be one to keep an eye on in the coming weeks. It would be surprising not to see Gourriel on a Major League roster by the All-Star break.

Cubs Looking To Add Arms

For all the strengths that the 2016 Chicago Cubs have, and they have quite a few, they do seem to have one spot that could be improved. Defensively, the Cubs are good and offensively, the Cubs are great. Their pitching, however, might need some work.

Statistically, the Cubs have the best starting rotation in the MLB, but the very back end of the staff might need another arm. Lefty reliever Clayton Richard has a 6.00 ERA as of June 15th.

Richard has been a problem in the Cubs bullpen and been playing poorly this year. It wasn’t too long ago he had an ERA of 8.00. Virtually no one expected Richard to be a stud, but he has been very disappointing.

Richard is only 32 years old. It is possible he could bounce back and become a somewhat effective reliever, but would it be enough for Richard to help the Cubs go on a deep postseason run?

At this point in time, not many people expect Richard to contribute a great deal to the Cubs bullpen going forward. The Cubs have a number of other relievers, Hector Rondon, Travis Wood, Trevor Cahill, and Pedro Strop who are performing well, but the Cubs could add another arm.

According to Brian Marron of Bleacher Report, Chicago Cubs scout Jason Parks was at Yankee Stadium recently looking at three big time Yankees relievers. Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, and Andrew Miller, the pitchers in question, are the top three arms in the Yankees bullpen.

Multiple sources have reported that the Cubs have started looking for relievers and linked the Cubs to the Yankees as a potential trade partner.

The Cubs have interest in acquiring a reliever, there is little doubt about that, but how much are they willing to give up in order to get one. The Cubs have a number of young players that other teams would want, but the question remains, are the Cubs willing to give up their talent? It was rumored in the offseason that the Cubs were willing to trade Jorge Soler, and according to Joe Giglio of NJ.com that is still the case.

However, another young outfielder, Albert Almora could come into play here. Almora was brought up to the Cubs’ roster this week after Soler landed on the disabled list. Almora is one of the top prospects in the Cubs deep farm system. He could be an attractive piece for teams looking for an outfielder and the Cubs could have the flexibility to move him after acquiring Chris Coghlan this past week.

Whether the Yankees will actually want to trade their big arms is unknown. The Yankees are currently in fourth place in the American League East, but could make up ground in the coming weeks. If the Yankees still aren’t where they want to be later in the summer, the team might become sellers in order to build a better roster in the future.

At this point an Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, or Dellin Betances trade is mere speculation. The Yankees do have a number of talented players and might think their roster is good enough as is. The trade deadline isn’t until august, so there is no rush for anything to get done at this point.

Prediction

The Yankees will trade Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs. The Yankees have a tough schedule in starting in late June. The Yankees will play the Rangers, Red Sox, Giants, Indians, White Sox, Orioles before the end of July. The team will be out of playoff contention and the Cubs will have enough ammunition in their farm system to get a deal done.

Miller has performed slightly better than Chapman so far this season, making him more difficult to acquire than Chapman. Chapman is also in the last year of his deal. This gives the Cubs the option to rent him for a few months or sign him to a long term deal.

http://SportsRants.com

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.

No-Run DMC: The Yankees Pitching Phenomenon

Over the vast winning history of the New York Yankees the management has always thought of a way to keep the right players together. That has been the winning formula for the team and they may have struck gold once again in with the talent they have in their bullpen.

After the departure of Mariano Rivera in 2013 fans knew that he was irreplaceable. Rivera the greatest closer of all-time left a hole in the pitching staff that needed to be filled.

There may never be another player like that for years to come or ever, but the Yankees have three pitchers that can get the job done. These players are a nightmare for an opposing team when the game is on the line.

These pitchers build a bridge strong enough to maintain the lead and finish the deal.

Dellin Betances

He is the beginning of the Yankee big three and he has been dominating in his role. Betances can come in and give two solid innings of work for the team and hold on to the lead. The reason he is such an important piece of this three man rotation is because of his poise on the mound.

He gets settled in fast and he does not shy away from the big moments. Although he is a relatively young pitcher, he knows how to get out of a jam like a veteran. As a relief pitcher he has shown he can take the pressure off of starter and help out the rest of the bullpen.

Andrew Miller

The former closer that has now been bumped to a relief position fits in perfectly with the game ending pitching scheme. Miller has been great both as a closer and bridge man this season, and he can always pitch a great 8th inning after Betances works the 7th.

Miller can have more confidence throwing strikes when he has a comfortable lead, but even in one or two run games he can find his rhythm and get the three outs he needs.

Being the middle man in this trio has made Miller’s job an easy one. Both Miller and Betances throw in the mid to upper 90’s, but the finisher is truly a special player.

Aroldis Chapman

The Yankees did a great job reeling this great closer via trade in the offseason. Chapman is one of the best closers in the game today. Since he is not working alone it makes his job easier because there two pitchers with closing ability in front of him.

Throwing at a top speed of 103mph it is hard for a hitter to get a good swing on the ball. Now there are players that would love to turn one of those pitches into an upper deck homerun, but Chapman backs those players off the plate when he pitches them inside.

Chapman is the anchor of this unit, and when he has to close the deal he does. Right now he has 4 saves and those numbers will keep climbing as the season goes on.

“No Run DMC”

The reason these players are so good together is because they all have the 9th inning mentality, and that is to just get three outs. They have all been in that position in the 9th closing out a game and they all had what it takes to close out.

Yankee announcer Michael Kay called them “no-run DMC” because of the initials in their names that match the rap group Run DMC, and because they have been great closing out games by not allowing runs.

All three pitchers feed off of each other and that is what makes them so great. If the Yankee offense can find some consistency they could wind up in the playoffs. This is the type of pitching that can win a championship.

Yankees Patience Pays Off With Aroldis Chapman Trade

It’s no secret that the New York Yankees like to make a big splash every offseason. Whether it’s a single big-ticket free agent signing or several big-money purchases the Yankees have never shied away from the free agency market every offseason.

That’s what made this offseason a bit different. Before, during and after the annual Winter Meetings there was not headline stealing move made by the Bronx Bombers. A few minor moves here and there, but the Yankees didn’t make their signature “big move”. It seemed that New York was indeed dedicated to staying the course, with a few minor tweaks, heading into the 2016 season.

That was until Monday’s trade was announced.

Cincinnati Reds’ closer phenom Aroldis Chapman was traded to the New York Yankees for four prospects; right-handers Caleb Cotham and Rookie Davis and infielders Eric Jagielo and Tony Renda.

The move bolstered an already dominant bullpen and will now feature Chapman alongside Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller.

“We felt this was an opportunity for us to add a big arm to our bullpen,” said Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.

A baseball source with knowledge of the situation told ESPN’s Wallace Matthews that the Yankees made the trade with the Reds knowing both Florida law enforcement officials and Major League Baseball are continuing to investigate the October 30th incident in which Chapman allegedly choked his girlfriend and then fired eight shots from a handgun in the garage of his Davie, Florida, home.

The source said the Yankees believe Chapman, who was not charged with domestic violence due to insufficient evidence, might still be suspended by MLB for up to 45 days.

“That was the risk they were willing to take,” said the source.”If he has to sit out the first 30 or 45 days, [the Yankees] felt he was worth it.”

“Certainly, there are some serious issues here that are in play,” Cashman said. “I acknowledge that’s an area clearly of concern, and I think it certainly is reflective of some of the acquisition price, and there’s risk, and I understand that.”

Aside from Chapman’s person issues the Yankees landed the uber-talented pitcher for a relatively low price, as none of the included prospects were considered “elite” by the Yankees organization. The dissolved trade that would have sent Chapman to the Los Angeles Dodgers certainly drove down Chapman’s value on the market.

If Chapman is spared a major suspension and can avoid any further legal troubles the Yankees will boast the majors most imposing bullpen.

Then and only then will we know if the organization’s patience and perceived risk will truly payoff.

In the meantime, the Yankees have to feel pretty good about how the past 48 hours played out and how the 2016 regular season is starting to shape up for the team.

 

Aroldis Chapman Deal With Dodgers In Limbo Amid Domestic Violence Investigation

It was the talk of the MLB world yesterday, Cincinnati Reds’ coveted closer Aroldis Chapman had been dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers Reds for two minor leaguers on Monday, but that deal is reportedly in limbo as MLB is investigating the incident under its new domestic violence policy.

A source told ESPN’s Buster Olney that the MLB investigation is not holding up the trade and that it’s up to the teams as to how they want to proceed. The Dodgers are reportedly unsure of what direction they’ll take.

According to a police report obtained by Yahoo! Sports Chapman fired eight gunshots in the garage of his Davie, Florida, home and was accused of choking his girlfriend back on October 30th.

Chapman’s girlfriend told police the incident started when she questioned Chapman about something suspicious on his cellphone. Chapman admitted to police that he fired the gun but denied that he had choked his girlfriend.

According to the police report, officers stated that they did not make any arrests because of inconsistencies in stories and lack of physical evidence of injuries. Assistant State Attorney Marcie Zaccor said there was insufficient evidence to charge Chapman in the incident.

Per MLB’s domestic violence policy, a violator could be subject to suspension or a fine at the discretion of MLB commissioner Rob Manfred.

Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said Monday night that while the deal is not dead, it could take weeks to complete, adding more clouds of confusion to Chapman and the trades status.

“The trade is still possible,” Jocketty told reporters. “We’ve talked to several clubs. I’ve notified them all [Monday] that we will step back for a couple of weeks or whatever it takes. They were fine. This actually came up the last 24 hours. That’s not what held up the trade. We just weren’t able to complete it as fast as we wanted to.”

Chapman’s attorney, Jay Reisinger, told Yahoo! Sports on Monday night, “I’ve reviewed the facts as portrayed. On behalf of Mr. Chapman, we vehemently deny the allegations as stated. Beyond that, we have no further comment at this time.”

The Boston Globe reported that the Boston Red Sox were exploring a trade for Chapman before their trade with the San Diego Padres that brought them Craig Kimbrel last month, but they passed after a background check turned up the alleged domestic violence incident.

Marlins Bullpen Holding Back Contender

(Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports)     

The Miami Marlins came into the season with alot of optimism surrounding the big offseason that they had. The Marlins have rotted over that optimism with a sluggish start for a team expected to be one of the stories in the MLB instead have a 15-17 record and are 5.5 games out of first place in the NL East.  It is a sad result so far but it is not indicitive to the teams play as for the most part they have been playing really solid baseball. What is holding a team with as much talent as the Miami Marlins posses is the awful production this year by the bullpen.

This Marlins baseball team is 3/10 in Save situations this year with a total of 7 blown saves as a bullpen. That means so far the Marlins have had a lead late in a game and have given up the lead 7 times. The bullpen holds an astounding 4.83 ERA in the seventh inning or later which is good for 26th in the MLB. Steve Cishek is struggling (to say the least) with a 1-2 record with an 8.18 ERA and a 1.82 WHIP while converting only 3/6 saves. His days in the Marlins closer role are numbered, however I dont see a better closing option on the staff. Bryan Morris is not the answer with an even higher WHIP of 1.91. What WHIP tells me is that these two men that are the 8th and 9th inning pitches are allowing close to 2 baserunners everytime they pitch an inning. When a team is trying to close out a game it is imperative to keep runners off base, the Marlins haven’t been able too thus the blown leads this season

Despite the slow start, DO NOT rule out the Marlins with this many games to go because this team can turn it around. Unlike Marlins teams in the past the core of the team now consists of young players who have had experience at the MLB level. The absences of Jose Fernandez and Henderson Alvarez hurt the starting pitching, however, what we have seen from the shorthanded Marlins pitching staff is a plus, they keep the Marlins in ballgames. This Marlins team is and will be a top-5 defensive team all season. Dee Gordon seems like a complete steal as he is EN FUEGO and it is only a matter of time before Yelich, Ozuna, Stanton, and Morse get hot as well. Most of all, Cishek is a useful pitcher but I think the Marlins will be aggresive in order to fix that glaring need. There is talent in the Marlins bullpen but the biggest missing pieces are a consistent 8th and 9th man.

If I am the Marlins I am closely monitoring players such as Fransisco Rodriguez in Milwaukee and Neftali Feliz in Texas, both players are on struggling teams that would love to move contracts and the Marlins wont nesseecarily be giving up huge prospects for these players. The IDEAL situation with the Marlins is the Cuban Missile Aroldis Chapman, Chapman is that type of dominant closer that Marlins fans will fill the seats to see not only because of his world famous fastball, but his Cuban Heritage would be beloved in the City of Miami. Overall, the Marlins have some work to do but the defense is there, the pitching will get better, and that one big arm is separating this team from its first playoff birth since 2003.

ALL STATS AND INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND HERE