The Mets, on the brink of being out of it, have the most attractive player on the August trade market, and a reasonable path to trading him.
Sunday night complicated things, a little. One can never talk about what the Mets should do without talking about the disconnect between that and what the Mets will do, and the gulf between those two things grows out of both the bizarre ownership situation and the even more bizarre fan culture that surrounds the team. Thus, when Yoenis Cespedes cracked a game-winning, two-run homer to beat the Giants on national TV and bring the Mets back to .500 Sunday night, he made it excruciatingly hard for the Mets to consider trading him. Still, if we can (hypothetically) bridge the gap between what is and what ought to be for a moment, the fact is that they ought to explore it.
Keeping the baby, throwing out (with maximum speed and efficiency) the bathwater.
One of the virtues of baseball is its harmlessness. Particularly in the summer, when teams have grown comfortable into their rosters, when seasons aren’t yet won or lost, the game relaxes. Unlike football, with its constant climax and its unending, wearying significance, even the greatest accomplishments and worst mistakes of a baseball player can only do so much; another game waits tomorrow. Summer baseball does not enervate, it does not demand. It’s an old person’s game, not because there is a certain demographic who grew up once loving baseball and will die off, as is often assumed, but because its pace matches the preference of a certain mindset. That demographic, however, still terrifies the men charged with profiting off it.
A look at how the wise guys spent their money in expert leagues this week.
Welcome to The FAAB Review, the series that looks at the expert bidding in LABR mixed, Tout Wars NL, and Tout Wars AL every week in an effort to try and help you, the Baseball Prospectus reader, with your fantasy baseball bidding needs. Bret Sayre and I participate in LABR Mixed while I have a team in Tout Wars NL, so I can provide some insight on the bids and the reasoning behind them. LABR uses a $100 budget with one-dollar minimum bids, while the Tout Wars leagues use a $1,000 budget with zero-dollar minimum bids. I will also be including Bret’s winning bids in Tout Wars mixed auction league where applicable.
LABR and Tout Wars both use a bidding deadline of Sunday at midnight ET.
Robert Gs... Gsell...Gonna pitch out the bullpen so it doesn't really matter.
The Situation: The Mets face what amounts to a do-or-die three-game set with St. Louis, the second wild card leaders, this week. One of those games will be started by Jacob deGrom. That is good. The other two are scheduled to be started by Jon Niese and Seth Lugo. And now that Steven Matz is headed to the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, it isn't a huge surprise that they called up their best upper-level starting pitching prospect to...uh...well...pitch out of the bullpen?
The Background: Gsellman was the Mets 13th-round pick in 2011 out of Westchester High School in Los Angeles. A multi-sport athlete, he was also only 17 when drafted and proceeded through the system slowly, spending a Summer at each of the organization's three short-season affiliates. He's been on prospect radars for a while but only cracked the Mets top ten for the first time this past offseason off a strong campaign between St. Lucie and Binghamton. Gsellman struggled to miss bats in his first taste of Double-A, but the addition of a slider this Spring has helped him find more success in the upper minors in 2016.
Despite the obvious strategic benefits, teams never tactically surrender. Why that should give you faith in the game.
The first season of the Toronto Blue Jays’ existence was 1977. It didn’t go particularly well, as is true of most first seasons, and they began play on September 15 with a 48–96 record. Baltimore was their opponent that evening, owners of an 87–58 record, second-best in the American League. The Orioles had won seven straight games and 15 of their previous 18, and were looking to narrow the gap between themselves and New York in the pennant race and leave Canada with a four-game sweep of the Blue Jays behind them.
By the third inning of that night’s game, a steady drizzle had begun to fall over Exhibition Stadium. The temperature that day was in the 50s, so drizzle probably wasn’t the end of the world, but Exhibition was not a pleasant place to play. Originally built for football, the Blue Jays would spend their first 12 years in the park as it became renowned for dismal seating, bad weather, and seagulls. On this day, however, Exhibition’s important feature was its on-field bullpens, squeezed tightly into the sparse foul territory of the oddly shaped stadium’s outfield.
As the rain continued, the grounds crew placed tarps over the bullpen mounds, and weighed them down with bricks. Presumably, this had happened before, but perhaps never against the Orioles, and more importantly, never against Earl Weaver. The famously combative Hall of Famer was in the 10th year of his hugely successful tenure as manager of the Orioles, and he protested the deployment of the tarps vociferously, citing the risk of slipping and injury to his players. Crew chief Marty Springstead ordered the removal of the bricks, but wouldn’t order the tarps removed or declare them out of play, as Weaver wanted. In response, the Baltimore manager removed his players from the field, and refused to have them return while the tarps remained. As a result, midway through the fifth inning, with the Blue Jays leading 4–0, Weaver’s Orioles performed the first, last, and, to date, only voluntary forfeit since integration.
Examining players who might pique your interest in deeper formats.
The Deep League Report featured a lot of big names over the last two weeks as high-end players switched leagues at the trade deadline. This week’s edition is a return to normal: minor leaguers who didn’t make any prospect lists prior to their promotions, middle relievers, and back-end starters. Let’s dive in.
How many future MLBers would you guess are in a short-season series?
Inspired by a couple of Tucker Blair’s posts last year, I decided to try my hand at scouting a series in the Northwest League this summer. I am not a scout, of course, but I watch a lot of minor league baseball and figured that writing about prospects for a few years had prepared me well for the challenge.
Notes on prospects who stood out over the weekend, including Alec Hansen, Mike Soroka, Josh Hader, and Jaycob Brugman.
Prospect of the Weekend:
Alec Hansen, RHP, Chicago White Sox (Short-Season Great Falls): 6 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 13 K. Yes it’s in Short-Season ball, but my goodness has Hansen been impressive. Keep in mind this was one of the favorites to be the first pick of the 2016 draft coming into February, and he’s finally starting to show that stuff. There are reasons to be concerned about the command, but Hansen has legit swing-and-miss stuff, and the upside here is massive. Also, imagine this guy, Chris Sale, Carlos Rodon, and Carson Fulmer in a rotation. Unlikely? Perhaps. Scary for the AL Central? Yer gosh damn right.
In The Summer Game, Roger Angell described the relationship between baseball time and the out by saying, "Since baseball time is measured only in outs, all you have to do is succeed utterly; keep hitting, keep the rally alive, and you have defeated time. You remain forever young." Baseball time is largely unregulated and free from a clock, and even with recent interventions to put a bit of countdown heft behind existing rules, what dictates the pace of play is mostly those playing. What we see of it is determined by our interest. Outfield walls may be bedecked with corporate logos, and grand slams might now bear an odd connection to pizza, but the thing that has long distinguished baseball from other sports, its pacing, is still largely unruffled, for better or worse. We still have time.