Friday, March 25, 2016

Alex Rodriguez To Retire After 2017 Season When Contract Expires

ESPNAlex Rodriguez plans to retire after his contract with the New York Yankees ends following the 2017 season, the designated hitter told ESPN on Wednesday.

"I won't play after next year," Rodriguez said. "I've really enjoyed my time. For me, it is time for me to go home and be Dad."
Rodriguez's retirement will end what has been a legendary career full of controversy. The veteran slugger will turn 41 on July 27, and he is signed through next season -- the final year of a 10-year, $275 million contract.
This is the right move for A-Rod. Entering next season both him and the team know it will be his final year. While the Yankees probably weren't going to re-sign him anyway they can now plan ahead from a team building perspective, just like how the Red Sox know they can move Hanley Ramirez to DH next year after David Ortiz retires.
Once a lightning rod for drama Alex has done a much better job of staying out of it the past two years. Some will argue that this announcement is for the dreaded retirement tour but it actually shows his continued maturity. Most would've guessed that Alex was the type to drag out this process and think he could play at an elite level beyond 2017. But even though he exceeded everyone's expectations last year he knows he's at the end of the road. By the time his contract expires after 2017 he will be 42. 
Similar to Barry Bonds, A-Rod's career is without a doubt going to diminished by the fact that he used steroids. Yes at one point in time Alex was the biggest sleazeball in professional sports but for those that can look at the steroid era as just an era A-Rod is one of the twenty best players baseball has ever seen. He is currently fourth on the all time home run list, just 13 shy of 700:

After hitting 33 homers in 2015 Alex should comfortably reach 700 this season if he stays healthy. While Bonds' all time mark of 762 might seem out of reach (A-Rod would need 75 over the next two years) he is just 27 away from tying Babe Ruth, which is a feat that could happen as early as this season.

It's crazy to think that at this time last year people legit wanted him to just go away. Even Yankee fans. To his credit A-Rod ignored them all and became the best hitter on an 87 win playoff team. It's been an interesting career to say the least. Whether it will be for better or worse it's safe to say baseball won't be the same without Alex Rodriguez.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Johan Santana Is Attempting Yet Another Comeback

NJOnce upon a time, Johan Santana was the best pitcher in the world. Now, at the age of 37, the former Mets ace is just looking to find a way to make it back to a big league mound.

After a series of lost years and odd, unpredictable non-arm injuries (Achilles in 2013, toe infection in 2015) the ex-AL Cy Young winner is attempting another comeback and hoping to latch on during the season.
It's always sad to see great players hang on too long at the end of their careers. Santana's last moment in the spotlight came way back in 2012 with the Mets when he no hit the Cardinals. At the time there was a lot of controversy over whether the injury prone 33 year old with shoulder problems should be throwing 134 pitches in a blowout game. The plan for Santana that night was to throw around 110 pitches. Did throwing those 25 extra pitches ruin the rest of his career? Maybe. Maybe not. For what it's worth Santana said in 2015 he would not change a thing from that night, which was the Mets' first no-hitter as a franchise. 2012 is the last time Santana pitched in the majors but his prime was excellent.
From 2004-2008 Santana was the best pitcher in the league. While he is no where near a hall of famer, his five year run bridged  pitching greatness from Pedro to Kershaw. During this span he won two Cy Young awards, three ERA titles, three strikeout titles, and led the league in WHIP four times. Before the 2008 season he was traded from the Twins to the Mets for a package of prospects that included Carlos Gomez and Mike Pelfrey. After the trade Santana signed a 6 year, $137.5 million dollar extension that he unfortunately was never able to live up to.
Most people probably assumed he was already out of the game and in a lot of ways he has been. Following the no-hitter in June 2012 Santana missed all of 2013 with a shoulder issue. The Mets bought out his contract for 2014 where he signed a minor league deal with the Orioles. An achilles injury in June ended his season though. Last year was more of the same. He managed to get a minor league deal with the Blue Jays but a June toe injury once again cut his season short. 

Now at 37 years old Santana is attempting yet another comeback. He is in the early stages of a throwing program and is hoping to be game ready by mid-season. Baseball has seen plenty of players attempt this before. Most do not make it. While a return to the majors is still unlikely a Santana comeback would be a great story. Crazier things have happened.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Barry Bonds Just Beat Giancarlo Stanton In A Home Run Derby

Sports Illustrated - Barry Bonds is back in baseball this year, serving as the hitting coach for the Marlins, and he is showing everyone that he still has plenty of gas left in the tank from his legendary playing career.
On Wednesday afternoon MLB’s home run king took on some Marlins players in a home run contest, and beat them all, including Miami’s superstar slugger Giancarlo Stanton.
The GOAT is still the GOAT. It's such a shame the media doesn't celebrate Bonds' accomplishments the way they do for other great players. Yes Barry Bonds took steroids, yes he was a huge asshole and no he isn't going to the hall of fame anytime soon. But none of that should take away from remembering how truly great he was in his prime. It was the baseball equivalent of what Steph Curry is doing to basketball. Just shattering records. From 2001-2004 Bonds set the single season record for home runs (73), slugging (.863), OBP (.609), walks (232), and intentional walks (120). He was once walked with the bases loaded in the 9th inning of a two run game and is the most feared hitter baseball has ever seen.

It's honestly a pretty big surprise to see Bonds working in baseball, considering how unpleasant he was with people during his playing days. But he's all smiles so far in Spring Training and it will be interesting to see if he can have an impact on Stanton as a hitting coach. Stanton is baseball's forgotten superstar due to both injuries and playing for irrelevant Marlins teams (He's played at least 130 games just once in the past four seasons). Already an elite home run hitter Bonds' biggest contribution to Stanton could be improving his knowledge of the strike zone. Bryce Harper's breakout 2015 season was due to his incredibly improved plate discipline (improving his OBP from .344 to .460 in just one year) and Stanton would be wise to try and do the same since his 2015 OBP was his lowest since his rookie year.

Anyways it's pretty incredible Bonds was able to pull this off at 51 year olds, especially considering his arms look just half the size they did from his prime. I mean look at the difference here:

The top picture is from 2004. The bottom is from this year. Clearly the guy isn't juicing anymore so this whole story is a nice reminder of how naturally talented he is. No matter what those ignorant baseball writers think, he was a hall of famer before and after taking steroids. It's awesome to have him back in the game.

PS 120 intentional walks in a single season is just ridiculous. To put it in perspective last year's league leader was Paul Goldschmidt with 29.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Does Joey Votto Walk Too Much?

ESPNIt also included a lot of Joey Votto -- if not in body, at least in spirit. The Cincinnati 
Reds first baseman kept popping up in the dialogue, in part because he's known as one of the most analytically minded hitters in the game, but also because we're still asking this: Does Joey Votto take too many walks?

If you're not familiar with the background, Votto has often been criticized by his hometown broadcasters for not being enough of an RBI guy, that there are times he should be expanding his strike zone to drive in runs rather than working a walk and getting on base. Votto hit .314 and led the National League with 143 walks in 2015 -- the fourth time in five seasons he has led the league -- but drove in "just" 80 runs. What gives?
This has been a story for a few years now. FanGraphs broke it down two seasons ago after Votto's 2013 season in an interesting article that focused on the value of a walk. Their point was that a walk is more valuable with no outs and nobody on base than it is with two outs and a runner in scoring position. They then looked to see when Votto was taking his walks. People who argue he should walk less want him to be swinging away with runners in scoring position. However FanGraphs found that he was not walking more during these times and did not hit more poorly in important run scoring situations.

The obsession with Votto as a power hitting run producer probably comes from his monster 2010 MVP season, when he set career highs with 37 home runs with 113 RBI and 91 walks. In 2015 Votto hit 29 home runs with 80 RBI and 143 walks. Now some of those walks from 2015 can be attributed to an extra 50 plate appearances but even factoring that in it's true that Votto walked at a much higher rate last season. The problem then with saying Votto walks too much now is to assume 2010 was the norm for him. By taking a closer look at his career stats that MVP season begins to appear as an outlier. 2010 is the only year he has hit 30 homers. He has had 100 RBI just one other time, with 103 in 2011. Votto is not a run producing slugger many expect or want him to be. He is an elite on base guy who happens to have a bit of power.

So do the Reds wish Votto drove in more runs? I'm sure they do. Just like the Red Sox probably wish Xander Bogaerts would hit more homers and the Athletics wish Sonny Gray would strike out more batters. But to assume that Votto could just willingly sacrifice some of his walks to drive in more runs is ridiculous. Although he has led the league in walks the past four years he has been healthy Joey Votto does not walk too much. He is baseball's best bet to get on base each and every time he comes up and after two disappointing seasons the Reds need to do a better job of surrounding their star player with ones hat can complement Votto's strengths.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Wake Up With Clay Buchholz Throwing A No-Hitter in His Second Career Start

There have been few players over the past 10 years that were more frustrating to root for than Clay Buchholz. After throwing this gem in just his second career game the sky was the limit for him. However the next year, in 2008, Buchholz went 2-9 with a 6.75 ERA. He rebounded in 2009 and by 2010 Red Sox fans thought he had come into his own. That season Buchholz finished sixth in the Cy Young voting by going 17-7 with a 2.33 ERA. Life had other plans for him though. Aside from a REMARKABLE 2013 (12-1, 1.74 ERA in 16 games) Buchholz was never able to find the consistency needed to be a dependable member of a rotation. Two months ago he claimed this would be the year he finally throws 200 innings. Obviously I don't believe him but after watching that clip of his no-hitter it's fun to think about what could have been.

2016 MLB Awards Preview: NL Cy Young

It's incredible how much better the pitchers are in the National League compared to the American League. It is so easy to make the case for many of the pitchers below that it really comes down to looking for value. I really love Jacob deGrom this year but getting just 10/1 odds for him is too rich for my blood. Last season Jake Arrieta's otherworldly second half was enough to dethrone Clayton Kershaw, who had won three of the past four years. Kershaw is once again an extremely heavy favorite so this could be the year to look elsewhere for value. Below are a few names I think are worth taking a closer look at. Odds are courtesy of Bovada.

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers, +175

Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in the world. If I was building a team from scratch I would need to seriously consider him as the number one pick. Kershaw is in the middle of the most impressive pitching run we've seen since Pedro. Over the past five years he has won three Cy Young awards, one MVP, led the league in ERA four times, strikeouts three times, wins twice, complete games twice, shutouts twice, WHIP four times, and ERA+ three times. 2015 was the first year since 2010 Kershaw finished lower than second in the Cy Young voting. He finished third. It took historic performances form Jake Arrieta (1.77 ERA) and Zack Greinke (1.66) to do so. Both of these guys are bound to regress in 2016 which means the award is there for Kershaw to take. But while +175 would be good odds for him in the AL, the NL race is just to deep for me to take it.

Max Scherzer, Nationals, +1000

Scherzer's 2015 is one of the most underrated seasons I've seen from an all star pitcher in a while. He was actually the favorite for this award during the first few months of the season but started running out of gas in the second half just as Arrieta and Greinke were gaining steam. Still Scherzer struck out a ridiculous 276 batters in 228.2 innings pitched while walking just 34. He led the league in complete games, shutouts, and strikeout to walk ratio while putting up an impressive 2.79 ERA. He also threw two no-hitters. In most years this would have been good enough to win the award. Instead Scherzer got overshadowed by Arrieta's and Greinke's second halves as well as happening to play in the same league as the best pitcher in the world. However if we expect Arrieta and Greinke to regress it could make more sense to take the upside of Scherzer at +1000 rather than Kershaw at +175.

Gerrit Cole, Pirates, +1400

Cole is my NL version of Sonny Gray, somebody I think can make the jump into becoming an elite pitcher this season. Similar to Scherzer, Cole was overshadowed by Arrieta, Greinke, and Kershaw in 2015 and to my surprise actually finished fourth in the Cy Young voting. Last year, at just 24 years olds, Cole went 19-8 with a 2.60 ERA and 202 strikeouts in 208 innings pitched. Most all of Cole's ratio stats improved from 2014 to 2015. He lowered his BB/9 from 2.6 to 1.9, FIP from 3.23 to 2.66, and WHIP from 1.21 to 1.09. These stats show me Cole is trending in the right direction and could be even better this year. This is a very crowded NL Cy Young race but 14/1 odds for a 25 year old who finished fourth in the voting last year has my attention.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

2016 MLB Awards Preview: AL Cy Young

Preseason predictions are generally pointless. As Carrabis says they are just a reason for people to tell you how wrong you were once the season ends. And baseball might be the toughest sport to predict out of any. While analysts typically have an easier time predicting the NBA and NFL, baseball continuously sees players who come from nowhere go on to have award winning seasons. Dallas Keuchel won the AL Cy Young award in 2015. Most casual baseball fans probably didn't even know that name this time last year. I'm not positive these same fans even know who he is now (he's in the picture above).  That's how under the radar he was before 2015's breakout. Two years ago it was Corey Kluber, whom I had never heard of, coming out of nowhere to win the 2014 AL Cy award. So keep in mind that while I have posted the Bovada odds below there is a good chance this year's winner is not even listed. Unforuntately there is no option to take the field. While I won't be making any formal predictions let's take a look at a few names who have intriguing odds.


Chris Sale, White Sox, +600

Sale is the favorite on most sites I've seen (BetOnline has him at +250) so getting him at +600 could be a potential steal. Sale checks off a lot of boxes we look for in a potential Cy Young winner. He hasn't won before so we can rule out the argument of writers getting bored of voting for him. His stats are equally impressive to baseball purists (ERA, strikeouts) and to the stat nerds (FIP, ERA+, K/9). He's also more durable than people think. His games started the past four years go 30, 30, 26, 31. That violent windup is scary and he usually has at least a two week stint on the disabled list but there's no reason to think this is the year he breaks down. Therefore Sale is a bet to consider simply because we are getting the should be favorite at odds much more favorable to us. 

Sonny Gray, Athletics, +1200

Sonny Gray is the next great Oakland player Billy Beane will trade for a haul of prospects. Just named the team's opening day starter, the 26 year old is fresh off a 2015 season that saw him finish third in the Cy Young voting. While Sale is already considered an elite starter in the American League, the argument for placing a bet on Gray is that he is going to continue to get even better. Last season, in just his second full season as a starter, Gray lowered his ERA from 3.08 to 2.73 and WHIP from 1.19 to 1.08 in addition to throwing over 200 innings again. In his abbreviated 2013 rookie season he had a 9.4 K/9 ratio but that number has dipped to 7.5 and 7.3 the past two seasons. If Gray can find a way to increase this number I guarantee we will not get him at 12/1 this time next year.

Chris Archer, Rays, +600

I really wish the odds were better for Chris Archer. I value him similar to Gray in the sense that he is not yet in that top echelon of elite pitchers but is someone I think can make the jump this year. Archer seems to be one of those guys that people either love or hate. Back in February Archer apparently scolded two prospects for being late to a meeting, even though they were 30 minutes early. This was followed by another story that claimed this is the culture of Rays pitchers and Archer learned this from James Shields and David Price. Regardless of what people think of him there's no denying Archer exploded onto the scene last year, striking out 252 batters in 212 innings with a 3.23 ERA. Entering his age 27 season he could be poised to make that final leap. Ultimately however Archer at +600 is similar to Price at +400. Both are favorites of mine to win the award but I don't think the odds represent value.

2016 Fantasy Baseball Preview: Strategy

Disclaimer: Below I have listed 5 guidelines we can use to help win our fantasy baseball leagues in 2016. While I believe these tips will give us the best possible chance to win it is important to note that there is always more than one strategy to winning at fantasy baseball. It would be ignorant to think otherwise. So do with this information what you believe will work and always trust your own rankings over any so called experts. If you have any fantasy baseball questions reach out @toomuchtuma on twitter.

*Note that these guidelines are for standard 10-12 team ESPN/Yahoo/CBS mixed leagues*

1. Pay for power

Baseball ain't what it used to be. The steroid era is over and guys simply aren't hitting as many homers as they used to. Just 20 players in the league last year hit 30 home runs. Back in 2006 34  different guys accomplished the same feat. The decline in power has caused a shift in fantasy baseball draft strategy. Similar to running backs in fantasy football, if you don't load up on power early it will be very difficult to find it later in the draft. Therefore with our early round picks we should opt for well rounded power hitters (Goldschmidt, Stanton, Abreu) over starting pitching. I consider these type of guys well rounded because hitting homers means they also contribute in RBI, runs scored, and sometimes batting average. We should also disregard position in the early rounds and take the best possible player. Shortstop isn't as deep as 1B/OF but that's not enough of a reason to take Carlos Correa. The main point here is don't value Correa so highly just because he fills a thin position. If you like Correa that much take him but it will be easier to find a shortstop later on than it will be to find power.

2. Use no more than one early round pick on a starting pitcher

Starting pitching is DEEP. We live in a pitching dominant league in 2016 and player's stats are reflecting it. Throughout the course of the season there will be so many new options to the starting pitching market due to injuries and minor league call ups. This strategy coincides with loading up on offense early. In most of my drafts I use say 9 of my first 10 picks on offense. I will pay for one ace and then load up on upside pitchers late. Worst case scenario? The upside guys don't pan out and we use the waiver wire to fill out our rotation. In 10-12 team leagues starting pitching is that deep. Starters also have a tendency to get hot for a while. I remember a couple of years ago picking up Aaron Harang for a spot start and he did well so I used him again in his next start. He ended up having a strong couple of months before the wheels fell off but this is an example of how we can exploit the depth of starters on the waiver wire. By taking an ace early we give ourselves someone to depend on. Just make sure it's not in the first two rounds. I'm passing on Kershaw in the first but would certainly take a David Price or Madison Bumgarner type in the third. 

3. Don't pay for saves

This is a common fantasy baseball opinion that closers aren't worth the mid round pick ESPN and Yahoo rank them at. The thing with closers is that you only want them for one stat, which is saves. While it's nice to throw in Craig Kimbrel's 100+ strikeouts it's just not worth the cost of where he usually gets drafted. Saves are fluky and are entirely based on opportunity. Every year only half of the league's saves leaders at season end began the spring as their team's closer. There is so much turnover among closers year to year (due to injury or general ineffectiveness) that there will be guys to pick up on waivers throughout the season. A prime example of this last season was Jeurys Familia, who went undrafted in fantasy leagues yet finished with the third most saves in all of baseball. Our plan, as opposed to taking Kimbrel in the middle rounds, should be to load up on closers/potential closers late in the draft. When everyone else is scrambling for offense/power we can draft a surplus of closers/potential closers and hope a few of them stick. If recent history is any addiction than this strategy (in addition to closely monitoring team's bullpens to find the next Familia on the waiver wire) is much more optimal than paying the price for the elite relievers.

4. Draft your catcher late

This one comes down to simple math. There are 30 major league teams yet most fantasy leagues require we start just one catcher (as opposed to other infield positions where you need to fill a 1B/3B or a 2B/SS spot). So if you're in a 10 team league odds are only 10 catchers will be drafted. Once a team drafts a catcher they are going to be out of the market for another. Therefore by waiting to fill this position we can get value. Buster Posey is the best player at his position but he isn't worth taking with an early round pick because catchers 2-10 are all pretty much the same. And since the teams that took a catcher early aren't going to take another later in the draft we will be able to get what should be a mid round pick in the later rounds.

5. If you like somebody then take them

There is no worse feeling than seeing another team draft a player we love when we didn't pull the trigger on taking him just because ESPN didn't rank him as high as us. In 2016 there is an abundance of fantasy analysis available to us, both free and for purchase. You can listen to the experts all you want but at the end of the day it's your team. So while I suggest taking into account what others have to say it's important to develop your own rankings and strategy and merely use others advice/opinions as a guide.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Bryce Harper Is A Freak Of Nature Who Does Crazy Shit Like This

A video posted by Bryce Harper (@bharper3407) on

Tough to tell how much this will help Harper hit baseballs this year. On one hand this movement requires an insane amount of core and leg strength, which is important to hitting. On the other hand people won't give two shits about him being able to do this if Bryce has a down season after last year's breakout. But professional athletes love to post photos and videos of themselves working out, especially when they're doing well. I get it, it's 2016 and it's important to create your own personal brand and that's what Harper is doing here. 

Speaking of 2016 it should be an interesting year for The Chosen One. Crazy to think it was just a year ago when people thought this guy was overrated. Turns out it just took a full season of health for Harper to launch himself into the best player in baseball discussion.

Last season Harper became the youngest unanimous MVP in the history of baseball, leading the National League in homers, runs, OBP, slugging, OPS, and OPS+. Still just 23 he's younger than last years NL Rookie of the Year winner Kris Bryant. If he keeps working out like this 2015 could have just been the first of many MVP awards.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Big Papi's Top Playoff Moments Taking You Into The Weekend

More so than usual I'm dying for the Red Sox to make the playoffs in 2016 so David Ortiz can get one last taste of the postseason. After absolutely carrying the Sox to the 2013 World Series Ortiz has lost some of his fire the past two seasons. Two straight last place finishes will do that to you. He finally got his guaranteed contract a couple of seasons ago and since then hasn't gotten into it with the media as much as he used to. This is the guy who once interrupted the manager's press conference to let him know he was pissed that the official scorer took away his RBI:

That type of intensity is what has made Ortiz great throughout his career. Caring that much over a single statistic is the same fire that helped him become the second greatest Red Sox player of all time (Ted Williams). But he's 40 now and while he can still put up big numbers in the regular season (35 and 37 homers the past two years) he knows it's time to move on. Ideally his supporting cast will be good enough this season so that Ortiz can sit against tough lefties and get enough regular rest to stay healthy until the playoffs where he can turn it on. Similar to how the Spurs use Tim Duncan now. And if the Sox do have enough to get to the playoffs then watch out. I have a feeling Ortiz would be pretty motivated to add to one of the most impressive playoff resumes of all time. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Aroldis Chapman Suspended 30 Games For Domestic Violence

ESPNNew York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman has been suspended 30 games by commissioner Rob Manfred under Major League Baseball's new domestic violence policy for his involvement in an alleged incident last October.

He will not appeal.
Huge win for Major League Baseball here. Really shows what a competent professional sports league can do when faced with a potential crisis in the form of a star player with a domestic violence scandal. Chapman choosing not to appeal is the key here for MLB. It means this story will go away quickly. This does not mean MLB always gets it right though. Just this past offseason one of baseball's top prospects was suspended 50 games for weed but that's a conversation for another day.
So what does this mean for the Yankees? In terms of their playoff outlook losing Chapman for 30 games shouldn't affect much. Even without him they still have an elite bullpen. Last season Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances combined for an insane 231 strikeouts in just 145.1 innings pitched. Miller ranked second among all pitchers in strikeouts per nine innings and Betances ranked third. Who was first? You guessed it. Chapman, who struck out an unholy 116 batters in just 66.1 innings last year. 
For these first 30 games I'm assuming Miller will close for New York with Girardi mixing in Betances now and then when the situation calls for it. As for the rest of the team? They have a strange mix of past their prime veterans (A-Rod, Beltran, Teixeira, McCann, Sabathia) combined with potential injury concerns (Tanaka, Ellsbury, Gardner). After signing no free agents this offseason it should be an interesting year for the Yankees. Coming off a wild card birth in 2015 the team should be back in the playoff hunt as long as their rotation is at least league average and they stay relatively healthy. Basically the Yanks need to just stay afloat in the standings until May 7th, when this guy comes back:

Wake Up With Madison Bumgarner Breaking The Heart Of Every Royals Fan

Any conversation that asks what pitcher would you want to build your rotation around needs to seriously consider Madison Bumgarner. At just 26 years old he is younger than Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez, David Price, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Chris Archer, and Jake Arrieta. He is less than a year older than all of Chris Sale, Sonny Gray, and Gerrit Cole yet none of the names mentioned can even come close to his playoff resume. In addition to three World Series rings he has a career playoff ERA of 2.14 in 88.1 innings. His 2014 performance alone makes him one of the best postseason players of all time: 

52.2 innings pitched, 45 strikeouts, 1.03 ERA, and 2 complete game shutouts. His regular season stats are also impressive:

Since becoming a full time starter in 2011 he has five straight seasons of 31 starts and at least 200 innings pitched. His ERA has been under 3 each of the past three seasons. Young, durable, and clutch - what else can you ask for out of an ace?

PS Royals fans should take no offense to this. It took a historic postseason performance by Bumgarner to beat you guys. Even then you had the tying run on third base with 2 outs in the 9th inning of game seven. Incredible series that gave KC the drive to come back and win it all the very next season.