Showing posts with label Robinson Cano. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Robinson Cano. Show all posts

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Chris Sale dominates Mariners lefties on Fourth of July

Here's a fun fact about White Sox ace Chris Sale: He has four starts this season where he has recorded 10 or more strikeouts while allowing one earned run or less. He is the only White Sox pitcher to accomplish that in the past 100 years, and we've still got almost half a season to go.

Sale latest dominant outing came Friday night in the opener of a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners. The left-hander improved to 8-1 on the season in the Sox' 7-1 victory. It was Sale's second complete game of the year. He struck out a season-high 12, walked nobody and allowed just six hits. The Mariners did not score a run until the ninth inning, when the outcome was no longer in doubt.

I'll be honest: This was an extremely favorable matchup for Sale. It's not that the Mariners aren't a good team. They are, as their 47-39 record will attest. But when I saw the Seattle lineup, I noted the Mariners had six left-handed hitters in there -- James Jones, Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager, Logan Morrison, Michael Saunders and Dustin Ackley.

Coming into Friday's action, left-handed hitters were posting an anemic .089/.196/.089 slash line against Sale. In fact, lefties had managed just four hits (all singles) off Sale all season.

Yeah, this wasn't going to end well for the Mariners. But give Seattle credit: its lefties went 4 for 21 in Friday's game, and Cano managed the first extra-base hit for a left-handed hitter off Sale all season. It was a bloop double in the ninth that should have been caught by Sox left fielder Dayan Viciedo, but it still counts.

Nevertheless, the Mariners had no prayer of mounting a consistent attack with that left-hand dominant lineup. As TV analyst Steve Stone noted in the ninth inning on Friday, Seattle could have played this game 20 times and it probably would have lost it all 20 times.

I was looking at the Mariners' roster, and I can't blame manager Lloyd McClendon for stacking his lineup with lefties. He's only got four right-handed hitters on his team. He played three of them -- Corey Hart, Mike Zunino and Willie Bloomquist. The fourth, John Buck, is the backup catcher to Zunino.

McClendon played the cards he had. Against Sale, it was a losing hand.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Free agent shocker: Robinson Cano snubs Yankees, agrees to terms with Mariners

Pat yourself on the back if you thought the Seattle Mariners would be the team to land the most sought-after free agent this offseason.

I didn't see this one coming: Robinson Cano has snubbed the New York Yankees and agreed to a 10-year, $240 million deal with the Mariners. The contract reportedly includes a full no-trade clause.

As expected, the Yankees have been on a spending spree after missing the playoffs in 2013. They signed catcher Brian McCann to a five-year, $85 million contract. They also gave center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury $153 million over seven years. I just assumed they would open up the pocketbook and retain Cano, too.

They were denied because the Mariners, of all teams, blew them out of the water by making Cano an offer he couldn't refuse. The Yankees reportedly did not want to invest more than $175 million on Cano. If that's the case, then Seattle beat New York's best offer by $65 million.

I don't know that this signing makes the Mariners immediate contenders in the AL West, but it surely weakens the Yankees' quest to get back in the mix in the AL East. Not matter how you spin it, they aren't as good without their cornerstone second baseman and No. 3 hitter.

I never thought Cano would play in a smaller city. When he hired Jay Z at his agent, I assumed it was because he wanted more opportunities to market himself, perhaps even in a realm outside of baseball. Typically, a player wants to be in New York or Los Angeles to pursue those kinds of possibilities.

Instead, Cano is going to Seattle. I'm stunned.

Curtis Granderson signs with Mets

Free agent outfielder Curtis Granderson and the New York Mets have agreed to a four-year deal worth $60 million, reports say.

Earlier this offseason, there were rumors that the White Sox were interested in Granderson. For those years and those dollars, I'm glad the South Siders took a pass -- if indeed they were interested.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Brian McCann near deal with Yankees; Jhonny Peralta to Cardinals

The first major free-agent domino has fallen as reports indicate veteran catcher Brian McCann will sign a five-year, $85 million deal with the New York Yankees.

That's a high price to pay, but the Yankees were willing to ante up-- especially since Chris Stewart and Austin Romine were their catchers last season. McCann's numbers have remained consistent throughout his career with the Atlanta Braves. He has hit 20 home runs or more in six consecutive seasons, and seven out of the last eight seasons.

Being a left-handed hitter, he should be able to duplicate -- if not slighty improve -- those numbers at Yankee Stadium, which has a short porch in right field.

The Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels were among the other teams reportedly interested in McCann. The questions with the Yankees remain: Will they sign second baseman Robinson Cano? And can they do it without paying a king's ransom in luxury tax? 

Cardinals agree to terms with Peralta

Maybe I spoke too soon Saturday when I said all those nice things about the Cardinals. Do they really think putting Jhonny Peralta at shortstop makes them better?

Apparently so, because reports say Peralta is going to sign a four-year deal with St. Louis.

The Cardinals should have gone defense first with that position. Peralta can hit, but he can't field. St. Louis has no shortage of hitting. Maybe the Cardinals know free-agent outfielder Carlos Beltran is leaving (to Detroit?), so they feel the need to replace his offense.

I'd like the signing a little better if they were planning to put Peralta at third base. But that doesn't seem to be the case.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A position-by-position look at this year's free agent class

The free agency period has already begun in Major League baseball, so I figured we should take a look at the top players available at each position. I think I'm up-to-date on all the signings, but forgive me if I list someone who has already been inked to a deal.

The Philadelphia Phillies have been active early, picking up outfielder Marlon Byrd and resigning catcher Carlos Ruiz. Veteran pitcher Tim Hudson is also off the board; he was picked up by the San Francisco Giants on Monday.

For purposes of this list, I will not include international free agents, because I find players I've never seen play before impossible to rank.

As of Tuesday, Nov. 19, these are the best guys available, sorted by position:

Starting pitchers

1. Ubaldo Jimenez -- The right-hander made quite a contract push the second half of 2013. Jimenez had a better ERA than all pitchers not named Clayton Kershaw after the All-Star break. He regained the form he showed when he was with Colorado and was Cleveland's ace coming down the stretch.

2. Matt Garza -- Can you tell it's a weak crop of free agent pitchers this year? It must be if I have Garza at No. 2 on this list. The guy has plus stuff if he's healthy. That's a big if.

3. Hiroki Kuroda -- Might be a available on a one- or two-year deal. He tapered off in the second half this year, which hurts his value. Throws a lot of ground balls, which might make him appealing to teams that play in hitters' ballparks.

4. Ervin Santana -- He'll get paid because he had a solid year for Kansas City, but I wouldn't trust this guy. He has trouble putting together more than one good season in a row, which means it doesn't make much sense to offer him a multiyear deal.

5. Bartolo Colon -- Eventually the magic has to run out, right? Based upon his 2013 numbers (18-6, 2.65 ERA), he probably should be higher on this list. But the dude is 40. The decline has to start sometime.

Relief pitchers

1. Joe Nathan -- Speaking of old guys, Nathan will be 39 on Opening Day, but I can't find any relievers who are better than him on the market this year. The Tigers need a closer and are reportedly hot on the trail for Nathan.

2. Grant Balfour -- He's always had the power arm. He's got a great fastball, and he's effective as long as he controls his craziness on the mound. Throws a lot of fly balls and pop ups. Teams with short porches in their home stadiums should probably stay away.

3. Brian Wilson -- His late-season performance with the Dodgers was enough to convince me he's made it back from Tommy John surgery. He'll be an effective reliever for somebody, provided they can live with the fact that he looks like an ax murderer.

4. Joaquin Benoit -- The career setup man got forced into the closer's role this year in Detroit. He held up well enough that he'll get closer's money on the open market. Whichever teams pays him will be overpaying in my opinion.

5. Fernando Rodney -- His mechanics stink. He has trouble repeating his delivery. He walks too many guys. But, if he gets in a groove, he can dominate hitters for an extended period of time with his fastball-changeup combination.

Catchers

1. Brian McCann -- It seems like McCann has been around forever, but he's only 29 years old. He's a left-handed power bat at a position where it's hard to find players who can hit. He proved he was healthy this year, and you have to figure he's got at least three more prime years in him.

2. Jarrod Saltalamacchia -- Not the best defensive catcher in the world, and he strikes out a ton. But he's a switch-hitter with power, and he's only 28. Those two factors should net him a nice payday this offseason.

3. A.J. Pierzynski -- He's going to be 37, but his offensive skill set still seems to be there. Still an agitator, still one of the smartest players in the league.

4. Kurt Suzuki -- Hey, somebody has to be fourth on this list. Why not Suzuki? He's a decent defensive catcher.

5. Dioner Navarro -- Showed surprising power with the Cubs last season, hitting 13 home runs in a part-time role. I wouldn't count on that happening again.

First baseman

1. Kendrys Morales -- Can anyone tell me why Seattle didn't trade this guy for prospects last July? He's finally healthy, he's a switch-hitter who produces from both sides of the plate, and he's got good pop. He can't run a lick, and he's probably better suited to DH than first base. But I'd take him on my club for the right price.

2. Justin Morneau -- I don't think he'll ever regain the MVP form he had with the Twins in the past, but he can still be a productive hitter. If a team is looking for a left-handed bat to hit fifth or sixth in its lineup, it could do worse than picking up Morneau.

3. Mike Napoli -- Someone will overpay here. People think Napoli is a better player than he actually is because he just won a championship as a member of the Red Sox. In 2014, look for Napoli to hit 20 home runs, strike out about 180 times and make a lot more money than he's worth.

4. Corey Hart -- He didn't play in 2013 due to knee problems, which makes him a risk. It also means he'll come on a one-year deal. If healthy, he's a good bet to hit 25 home runs.

5. James Loney -- He got off to a hot start last season, but in the second half he turned into, well, James Loney. He hit only four home runs after the All-Star break. He's left-handed, but he doesn't have enough pop for an everyday first baseman.

Second base

1. Robinson Cano -- There is only one superstar available in this free agent class, and Cano is it. Typically, you see the Yankees find a way to retain their own free agents. I don't think that is anywhere close to a given with Cano, who is asking for $310 million over 10 years. The Yankees are offering $160 million over seven years. Can they bridge the $150 million divide?

2. Omar Infante -- His main value is his ability to play multiple positions. He also hit over .300 last season, which can't hurt him as he hits the open market.

3. Kelly Johnson -- Another guy who can play multiple spots. He hits left-handed and has some extra-base power.

4. Mark Ellis -- He plays good defense, and there is value in that when we're talking about middle infielders.

5. Brian Roberts -- He's been a good player when healthy. Problem is, he's never healthy.

Shortstop

1. Stephen Drew -- He struggled offensively in the playoffs and caught a lot of crap from Boston fans, but he's a strong defender at the most important position in the middle of the diamond. No, the bat isn't great, but he's the best of a weak crop.

2. Jhonny Peralta -- He can hit. That's the best thing you can say about Peralta. Defensively, he has no range whatsoever, and he's probably looking at a position change sooner rather than later. Put a bat in his hands, though, and he'll give you production.

3. Rafael Furcal -- Yes, he is still alive. He figures to be back from Tommy John surgery in 2014. Some team will roll the dice on him.

4. Clint Barmes -- He plays good defense, and there is value in that when we're talking about middle infielders. Oh yeah, I said the same thing about Mark Ellis, didn't I?

5. Ramon Santiago -- Can't play everyday, but can play multiple position. Useful in a backup role.

Third base

1. Eric Chavez -- Can you tell there are no good third basemen on the market? Chavez can't field the way he used to, but his bat is still good enough to make up one half of a platoon for somebody.

2. Juan Uribe -- The former White Sox shortstop can still play defense. He's best suited for a utility role at this stage of his career.

3. Michael Young -- The veteran could be a nice pickup for some team looking for a guy who can play three times a week and pinch hit. Might come cheap for a contending team.

4. Kevin Youkilis -- Yes, the former White Sox rent-a-player is still alive, although he barely played because of back issues in 2013.

5. Mark Reynolds -- Streaky power, tons of strikeouts. Somebody has to be No. 5 on this list.

Outfielders

1. Carlos Beltran -- He'll provide the best value among available outfielders. Yeah, he's getting old, but that means he can be had for a reasonable number of years and dollars. Not only does he still hit, he hits good pitchers well. He's as good as anyone in the postseason. He could benefit from a switch to the AL, where he could DH some to keep his legs healthy.

2. Shin-Soo Choo -- He does what a team needs its leadoff hitter to do: He gets on base. I think he was out of position playing center field in Cincinnati. A move back to right field will do him good. He's got some power, good speed and he's a good outfielder. The only drawback is his agent is probably going to demand a six- or seven-year deal.

3. Jacoby Ellsbury -- The most overrated player on the free agent market this year. Some stupid GM is going to give this player over $100 million, even though guys who make their living with their legs always start to decline around age 30. Guess what? Ellsbury is 30. Aside from one season (2011), Ellsbury has never been a power hitter. His two best skills are his basestealing and his ability to play center field. Those are two things that leave with age. Caveat emptor.

4. Curtis Granderson -- Injuries ruined his 2013, but he hit 40-plus homers in both 2011 and 2012. Even though his numbers were aided by the short porch at Yankee Stadium, a healthy Granderson figures to provide some power production. Would be a decent value for somebody, if the injuries are behind him.

5. Nelson Cruz -- His stock fell because of his Biogenesis suspension. Some will ask whether his power production is a mirage. Maybe it is. But some team is going to get him for cheaper than the usual market rate for a player with Cruz's numbers, and that could pay off.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Yankees are even worse than I thought

I wrote yesterday that it doesn't look like New York will be making the playoffs this season. After watching the Yankees' performance the last two days at U.S. Cellular Field, I'm 100 percent convinced that team does NOT have a late-season push in them.

Check out the lineup New York was fielding last night: 37-year-old Alfonso Soriano batting second; 38-year-old Alex Rodriguez batting third; 34-year-old Vernon Wells (pictured) batting fifth; Jayson Nix, a lifetime .218 hitter, batting sixth; Eduardo Nunez batting seventh; 26-year-old rookie David Adams hitting eighth; and some catcher named Austin Romine batting ninth.

Wow. That list is full of has-beens and never-will-bes. Cleanup hitter Robinson Cano is the best second baseman in the game, and leadoff hitter Brett Gardner is a respectable player. Anybody else in that lineup you'd want on your team? I don't think so.

Even without his best command, White Sox ace Chris Sale limited that crummy lineup to one run on five hits over 7.1 innings in Chicago's 3-2 victory. And, the one run the Yankees scored off Sale was gifted to them after the Sox middle infielders failed to turn a routine double-play ball off the bat of Soriano in the first inning.

New York's high-water mark for this season was May 25, when it had a 30-18 record. Since that day, the Yankees have gone 27-37. Among American League teams, only the White Sox (19-45) and Houston Astros (23-40) have been worse over that same time frame.

The Yankees enter Wednesday's play at 57-55, in fourth place in the American League East, 10.5 games behind first-place Boston. I'll go ahead and write it: New York is toast for this year.