Yankees Need To Move Players Now

The Yankees seem to be running out of options as the all-star break approaches. They have been doing all they can to try and generate wins, but they have fallen short.

Their pitching has cost them games because they cannot play from behind. Starting pitchers have given up homeruns and that has been devastating for the Yankees because when their defense gets shaken up it has an effect on the offense as well.

The Yankees have been showing flashes of being able to be a good team, but they have not been showing that consistently and that shows in their record. They have another half of the season to right their wrongs, and depending on their attitude coming out of the all-star break that will determine if they can salvage their season.

There are difficult decisions that the Yankees have to make with only a month till the trade deadline. This season may be slipping away, but the future could look great if the Yankees trade for the right players.

They should be looking to get the most for the players they have to offer. They have plenty of talent on their roster that they could spread around and reel in younger players that are already established in the league.

They could also get younger player that could be groomed into better players in a few years. The rebuilding process can take a few years, but with the right moves that could speed up the process.

The Yankees being at .500 at this point of the season is not bad, but the way they have been playing is an indicator that the rest of the season could take a turn for the worst. The team can be on fire for a series and get swept the next series.

Breaking even in the American League does not guarantee a playoff spot for the Yankees because it is a tough division. It is important for the Yankees to make the right moves before the trade deadline not only for a better future, but also a better second half of the season.

Adjustments from game to game have not helped the Yankees in a big way, but it has kept them where they are. Switching the batting order has not produced runs and that means there has to been a new addition in the batting order.

The Yankees have to bring in a player that can drive in runs on a regular basis. They need someone who can come up with a big hit with runners in scoring position. The Yankees have seen plenty of young players that can do just that and they need a couple of them.

There have been reports from ESPN and Bleacher Report stating that the Chicago Cubs were looking to trade left fielder Kyle Schwarber for Yankees 8th inning setup man Andrew Miller. There are a few reasons this trade could favor both teams.

The Cubs are first place in the National League and having a pitcher like Miller in the bullpen for late innings or even becoming the closer can be great in the playoffs. Although Schwarber is out for the season with a knee injury he can be great next season for the team.

He is a young player with pop in his bat and he can be a great run producer for the Yankees. The Yankees would be potentially calling it quits on this season by making this move, but it would be great for their future.

http://SportsRants.com

Lack Of Timely Hitting Dooms Cubs

The Cubs lost their series opener in Miami against the Marlins. The Cubs had the bases loaded in the top of the ninth after Addison Russell, Albert Almora, and David Ross had managed to get on with one out. After Ross, Chris Coghlan and Ben Zobrist came up to the plate.

Coghlan struck out swinging and Zobrist popped up to end the inning. The loss marked the first four game losing streak for the Cubs this season. Had Coghlan or Zobrist gotten on base with a single, the Cubs could have scored one or even two runners. The Cubs would have to fend off the Marlins again in that inning to win the anyway, but it is possible the Cubs could have won in they could have gotten a few more hits in the ninth.

Prior to losing to the Marlins, the Cubs had been swept by their division rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals. This cut the Cubs’ lead in the NL Central by three games. The Cubs still have a large lead on the second place Cardinals, but had a 12.5 game lead prior to being swept.

The Cubs lost their games against the Marlins and the Cardinals for a number of reasons, but mainly it has been their hitting, or lack thereof holding them back. In the series against the Cardinals, the Cubs averaged 2.33 runs per game. In their opener versus the Marlins, the Cubs only scored two runs. Nine runs over four games is abnormal for one of the MLB’s best offenses.

In addition to the Cubs struggling offense, several young prospects have taken the place of established stars in recent games. Albert Almora took the place a Dexter Fowler, and Willson Contreras took the place of Anthony Rizzo. There will be growing pains as Joe Maddon tries to get his prospects some playing time, but hopefully they will pass as the Cubs starters return to play.

Those prospects will become valuable in the near future, however, as they are considered for potential trades. For the past several weeks, multiple sources have said that the Cubs are looking to make a trade in order to bring in a big time reliever. Whether Albert Almora or Willson Contreras will be moved is speculation at this point but nothing should be ruled out at this point as the Cubs try to take improve their team for a long postseason run and try to take home some hardware.

Moving Forward

The Cubs have three more games to play the against the Marlins after losing the series opener and will round out the month of June against the Cincinnati Reds in Ohio. The Cubs will then finish their current road trip in New York against the Mets and then come home to play the Reds again in July.

The Cubs will look to get back on track going forward with two series against a last place NL Central rival. The Cincinnati Reds are 28-45 as of June 23rd, have a 17-20 home record, and are 20 games back of the 1st place Cubs. While it is still early in the season, the Cubs need to end their losing streak.

Why the Mets Must Consider a Reunion With José Reyes

It’s been a long time since José Reyes has played for the New York Mets. The once beloved shortstop used to be a fan favorite in Queens. Now, it appears as though he wants a reunion with his old team.

Reyes was designated for assignment by the Colorado Rockies last Wednesday. Yesterday, the team requested waivers on him. If he clears waivers, he’ll be a free agent tomorrow. The 33-year old did not play in a game this year for Colorado. This was due to the fact that he was involved in a domestic violence incident during the offseason while on vacation with his wife. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred decided that Reyes would be placed on administrative leave to start the season. He was officially suspended on May 13. The Rockies eventually decided that he wasn’t worth the trouble, and released him.

The Rockies and Mets are two teams in very different situations. Colorado is under .500 and in third place in the NL West. They’re not expected to do too much this season. Keeping Reyes just didn’t make much sense.  The Mets are in second place in the NL East and are in a pennant race. However, they’ve been hampered by injuries all season long. Currently, Juan Lagares, Lucas Duda, and David Wright are all on the disabled list. Wright just underwent neck surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck. It’s very likely that he’ll be out for the year. Because of all these injuries, the Mets should really consider bringing Wright’s old friend José Reyes back to Flushing.

Reyes could really help the team right now. His bat could be a boost in the Mets mediocre lineup. A player who is very familiar with playing in New York, he’d have no problem adjusting. In fact, his best years came while with the Mets. During his nine seasons with the team, Reyes batted .292. He led the National League in triples four times. Also, he stole 60 or more bases three consecutive years, from 2005-2007. His last year with the Mets was in 2011, a year in which he won the NL Batting Title. He left after that season and signed a six-year, $106 million dollar contract with the Miami Marlins. After just one season, the Marlins traded him to the Toronto Blue Jays. Reyes was with the Blue Jays until last July when he was again traded. That was the deal that sent Troy Tulowitzki to Toronto.

A Reyes reunion with the Mets makes sense for both parties. This week, Reyes reportedly spoke to a baseball official and discussed how he desperately wants to come back to Queens. Apparently, he hasn’t been truly happy since he left in 2011. This isn’t all that surprising, especially considering the success that he had with the Mets. He’s ready to come back, so the Mets must decide if they really want him or not.

Reyes will most likely clear waivers tomorrow, making him a free agent. This gives the Mets a very good opportunity to get him at  a low price. It’s a low-risk, high-reward situation. If they were to sign him, they would probably play him at third base, a position he’s never played before. Asdrubal Cabrera is having a very good season at shortstop for the Mets, and they don’t really want to move him. Reyes certainly isn’t the same player that he was when he left New York in 2011. His offensive numbers have slowly declined. That being said, he still has some speed and a little bit of power. Additionally, his presence alone would be enough to boost the team’s morale. Reyes has always been known for being a good clubhouse guy. The only real reason that the Mets might be hesitant to bring him back is the domestic violence issue. Although he was never convicted in court due to the fact that his wife refused to cooperate as a witness, the whole situation doesn’t look so good. He did not have a history of domestic violence before this incident. It’s definitely something that Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson will need to think about when he decides whether or not to seriously pursue Reyes.

The timing seems right for the Mets to bring back José Reyes. They could really use him right now on the left side of the infield. It seems as though he’d jump at the chance to come back to the Big Apple. We’ll see if the Mets decide to make a move on him this weekend.

Why the Nationals Need to Re-Promote Trea Turner

The Washington Nationals are currently in first place in the NL East. Although their offense has been relatively solid thus far, it can still be improved. Re-promoting shortstop Trea Turner  is something that the team can do to achieve this.

Turner, 22, is considered one of the Nationals’ top prospects. Originally selected with the 13th overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres, Turner was eventually traded to Washington in the three-team trade that sent Wil Myers to San Diego. He started out in Double-A with the Harrisburg Senators of the Eastern League, and immediately impressed people in the organization. After just 10 games, the Nationals promoted him to Triple-A Syracuse. Turner played in 48 games for the Chiefs, hitting .314 with three home runs and 15 RBIs. The Nationals called him up to the Major Leagues on August 21, 2015. In 40 at-bats, Turner hit .225.

Instead of having Turner be their starting shortstop to start the 2016 season, the Nationals optioned him to Syracuse once Spring Training ended. Danny Espinosa was named the team’s starting shortstop. Last Friday, Turner was called-up because Ryan Zimmerman needed to be placed on the paternity list. He started at second base that night when the Nationals were in Cincinnati taking on the Reds. In the game, he went 3-for-3 with a walk. However, he did not start for the rest of the weekend. His only other appearance in the series came as a pinch-runner in Saturday’s game. On Monday, the Nationals announced that Zimmerman was reinstated and Turner had been optioned back to Triple-A.

This move definitely came as a surprise to many people in DC. The Nationals could have optioned another player to Triple-A, but instead they chose Turner. Espinosa really hasn’t had a good year. He’s only batting .203 with nine home runs and 24 RBIs. In 57 starts at shortstop, he has committed five errors. Despite the fact that Espinosa is hitting just over .200, Nationals manager Dusty Baker has continued to pencil him into the lineup everyday. Part of the reason for this is that he really doesn’t have many other options. Stephen Drew is considered the team’s backup shortstop. His offensive numbers are less-than-impressive as well. Drew is only hitting .207 in 58 at-bats. Besides these two players, Baker really doesn’t have any other options at shortstop. If the Nationals re-promoted Turner however, then he would.     

It’s not like Turner hasn’t been putting up good numbers in Triple-A this season. He’s had 213 at-bats with the Chiefs and is hitting .310 with three home runs and 24 RBIs. His on-base percentage is .377 while his slugging percentage is up to .460 Additionally, Turner has 19 stolen bases. There’s really no reason for the Nationals to keep waiting. Clearly, he’s ready to be promoted for good.

The Nationals are currently in a tight divisional race in the NL East with the New York Mets. If they want to take down the defending division champions, they’re going to need to put out the best offense they can everyday. For that to happen, Trea Turner needs to be with the team and in the starting lineup. Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo has been criticized for moves he’s made or hasn’t made in the past. This is an opportunity for him to make the right decision. If he doesn’t soon, Nationals fans will certainly continue to be on his case.

http://SportsRants.com

Atlanta Braves Draft: Day One Reactions

The first day of the MLB Draft has come and gone. How did the Atlanta Braves fare? Who did they take and why?

First Round – 3rd Overall Pick

With the third pick in the draft the Braves selected a right handed pitcher named Ian Anderson. Ian Anderson hardly came as a shock to those who had been paying close attention to the draft throughout the day as rumors began a few days ago and were confirmed early yesterday morning that the Braves had a deal in place with Anderson in order to sign him for an “under slot” bonus.

Ian Anderson stands at 6’3″ and throws his fastball in the mid 90’s. He was considered to be the 13th best prospect in the draft, according to MLB.com .

Many were calling for the Braves to take a bat, and with good reason. The current big league club is not hitting very much and there is not an abundance of talented bats rising through their farm system. You could have made a logical argument for drafting either Mercer’s Kyle Lewis or Louisville’s’ Corey Ray with the third pick.

However, the Atlanta Braves agreeing to sign Ian Anderson to an under slot deal would prove to be pivotal as the draft night wore on and shortly you will understand why. I love this pick for the Braves.

Lottery Round A – 40th Overall Pick

When the team’s selection rolled around at 40 it was pretty evident who they were taking. Another rumor had been started a few weeks ago that the Braves could have been speaking with Joey Wentz about possibly being able to take him, a first round talent, all the way down at pick 40. This is exactly how it happened and the pick could not have gone better for the Braves.

Joey Wentz is a 6’5″ left handed pitcher out of a Kansas high school. Last summer he made himself known for his bat, crushing home runs in the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, but he established himself as a mid-first round talent on the mound. Joey throws in the mid-90’s and has two above average alternate offerings in the mix along with his clean and repeatable delivery.

Once again a really great pick for the Braves here. They were able to select MLB.com’s 16th best draft prospect at pick number 40. The Braves would next go on the clock just four picks later at 44th overall.

Second Round – 44th Overall Pick

The depth of the 2016 draft was easily high school pitchers, as there were plenty of high upside arms in this draft to choose from. After seeing the Braves select two high school pitchers with their first two picks, the organization went back to the well again for their third pick, this time selecting Kyle Muller out of a high school in Texas.

Kyle Muller is another high school left hander with a mid-90’s heater. His other offerings and control are not as advanced as the other two players the Braves drafted, but he is 6’5″ and projectable. Making him MLB.com’s 24th best draft prospect .

Atlanta’s agreement with Ian Anderson to sign him for an under slot bonus allowed for them to be able to select two other high upside and highly touted prospects much further down in the draft than where they were expected to go.

The Braves were able to draft the 13th, 16th, and 24th best draft prospects with picks 3, 40, and 44. That’s amazing value and the money they saved selecting Ian Anderson was the difference. John Coppolella has previously stated how he envisions “wave after wave” of talented prospects coming into Atlanta for years to come. This is certainly a nice vision to have and one that could bring sustainable and winning baseball to the organization. However those waves are not possible unless you have as much highly touted talent as you can acquire.

The Braves got max value from their first three picks on draft day. Braves fans should be very excited by the draft so far.

Atlanta’s final pick of the first day was the pick they received in a trade with Baltimore a few weeks back, pick 76.

Lottery Round B – 76th Overall Pick

At pick 76 the Braves finally did what all…eh…we’ll call them “casual fans” were screaming for throughout the night. They selected a position player, or, rather more importantly, they selected a bat.

The pick was the catcher out of California, Brett Cumberland. Cumberland is a draft eligible sophomore and bats from both sides of the plate. He hits extremely will and can hit for a little bit of power, ranking 69th on MLB.com’s top 200 draft prospects list .

Coming into draft night, I was pretty sure that the Braves would target a catcher with their later picks (either 76 or 80) but Cumberland was not on my radar due to his reputation as a bat-first catcher. With the pitching staff the Braves are putting together I would have liked to see them select a catcher with a defensive pedigree and projectable (or more just “a project”) bat, such as Sean Murphy out of Wright State or, even later on in the draft, taken Jake Rogers out of Tulane who has been described as the best defender at any position in this draft.

Nevertheless the pick was Cumberland, and I understand why. The guy can flat out hit and he was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year for his excellent season. Most scouts see him moving out from behind the plate later on, but the Braves will likely put him back there until he proves he can’t handle it, or his bat simply outgrows his defense and he needs to move on from catching in order to make an impact at the major league level.

Brief Day One Reaction Summary

An excellent day for the Braves organization and fans. The team snagged three early to mid-first round talents with their first three picks and added a potent bat with their fourth. Outstanding value and hopefully they will be picks that pan out in the future.

If you take just one thing away from this article let it be this…the great first day of the draft by the Atlanta Braves was built upon the golden rule of drafting…

You Do Not Draft For Need

 

 

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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.

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.

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.

Chicago Cubs Redefining the Term Slump

Recent Results

After coming out with one of the best starts in MLB history, the Chicago Cubs have slowed down in the past week and a half. After losing a double header to the Padres, the Cubs lost their series against the Milwaukee Brewers.

The team has lost 5 of its last 8 games against considerably weaker opponents and now will travel to San Francisco to the Giants and Saint Louis to play the division rival Cardinals. The level of competition is rising this week and the Cubs will have to adapt.

In their 5 loses, the Cubs have posted 4 runs or less. In their 3 wins, the Cubs scored a total of 19 runs, 17 of which came against the Pittsburg Pirates, a team the Chicago Cubs have dominated this season.

While individual players, such as Ben Zobrist, are hitting their stride, the Cubs offense is faltering. The Cubs have left a number of runners on base in scoring position. According to Carrie Muskat, the Cubs went 1-for-24 with men in scoring position against the Brewers. They left 24 runners on base in the series, 14 coming of Wednesday.

In the grand scheme of it all the Cubs still lead the NL Central by 6.5 games and still have baseball’s best record. Even the best teams have their slumps. Right now it doesn’t seem to be an issue for the Cubs.

Facing the Champs

On May 20th, the Cubs will begin their series against the defending World Series Champions, the San Francisco Giants. The Cubs also played the Giants last year and swept the would be champions.

This will be a good test for the Cubs. If they can rebound from their recent slump and beat the Giants in the series, they will be a good place going forward. The Giants are the real deal and still are a very good team.

Adding A Reliever

The Cubs recently signed Joe Nathan to a contract. Nathan is on the wrong side of 40 and is coming off Tommy John surgery. He could be a good pickup if he still has something left in the tank. He is currently on the disabled list rehabbing his throwing arm.

The Cubs have most of their relievers returning from last season. Guys like Hector Rondon, Justin Grimm, and Travis Wood are still effective, but this move could further bolster their bull pen if Nathan pans out.

The Future Of Cubs Catching

This is David Ross’ last season in the major leagues. He has made it known for a while now that he won’t be coming back. How much of a priority will it be for the Cubs to replace Ross?

The Cubs still have Miguel Montero and Tim Federowicz who are currently listed as catchers. They also have Kyle Schwarber, who is naturally a catcher, but is versatile enough to play outfield. While it may seem like a rather obvious answer, there is more to it than what is listed on paper.

The Cubs will have a number of young studs to pay in the near future. Should salaries become an issue, the Cubs could consider trading Montero and his large contract. Montero is currently making $12 million this year according to mlb.com and that number will rise to $14 million next year.

Should it come down to it, and the Cubs do trade Montero, Schwarber could move back to catcher in order to keep Jorge Soler in the lineup who is currently filling in for Schwarber.

 

 

 

 

Cubs Sign Injured Veteran Closer Joe Nathan

It’s only May, but it looks like the Chicago Cubs are already thinking about October.

On Tuesday, the team signed relief pitcher Joe Nathan to a major league contract. They immediately placed him on the 60-day DL, as he is still recovering from Tommy John surgery. Nathan will make the major league minimum, which is $507,500. The contract also includes a $1.5 million team option for 2017.

Nathan, 41, is a six-time All-Star. He last pitched in April of 2015 for the Detroit Tigers when he picked up a save on Opening Day. A few days later, he was placed on the DL with an elbow injury and ended up tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow during a rehab start. This meant that he needed to have Tommy John surgery for the second time in his career. Nathan underwent the surgery and has been recovering ever since.

Signing Nathan is definitely a smart move. Although the Cubs are off to a fantastic start and have the best record in all of baseball, their bullpen hasn’t been all that great. It’s the one area that they could improve upon. The Cubs bullpen ERA is 3.34, which is only fourth-best in the National League. Closer Hector Rondon has been very good so far this season, as he’s converted on all seven of his save opportunities and has an ERA of 1.26. Set-up man Pedro Strop hasn’t been as solid. In 19 appearances, he’s 1-1 with a 3.24 ERA. Other members of this bullpen have really struggled. Justin Grimm has an ERA of 4.30, while lefty Travis Wood has his up to 4.09. Other than Rondon, the only other Cubs relief pitcher that has pitched well in 2016 is former New York Yankee Adam Warren. He’s appeared in 15 games and is 3-0 with a 1.72 ERA. Warren was acquired by the Cubs this past offseason in the deal that sent Starlin Castro to the Yankees.

Over the course of his 15-year career, Nathan has saved 377 games. He’s eighth on the all-time MLB saves list. Among active players, only Francisco Rodriguez has more saves. Nathan started his career in San Francisco pitching for the Giants. He then spent seven season with the Minnesota Twins. During his time in Minnesota, he amassed 260 saves while posting an ERA of 2.16. He was an All-Star four times while with the Twins and also finished in the top five in the AL Cy Young Award voting twice. After Minnesota, he spent the 2012 and 2013 seasons with the Texas Rangers. He was an All-Star both years and saved 80 games with Texas. He then signed a two-year contract with the Detroit Tigers In 2014, Nathan had 35 saves, but his ERA was 4.81. He only appeared in one game in 2015 due to his injury.

Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein obviously thinks that Nathan has something left in him. If he can come back healthy later in the season, he could really help the Cubs bullpen. Nathan might also be able to be a major factor for the team once the playoffs come in October. He has plenty of postseason experience under his belt. If everything goes well, he could possibly serve as the set-up man in Chicago’s bullpen and be the bridge to Hector Rondon. Cubs fans hope this will be the case.