The high-end crop of starting pitchers will have no shortage of bidders/press, but how deep are the pitfalls for that next group?
Jason Heyward is the cream of this free-agent crop, but David Price, Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto and Jordan Zimmermann are sure to grab a lot of the headlines this winter. It’s been a while since so many very strong starting pitchers hit the market during one offseason. At least two of those four guys will get nine-figure multi-year deals, and it could be all four. That’s sure to raise the hackles and the red flags of columnists everywhere. Every winter (even when there are only one or two major pitching prizes on the market, as there were last year), we get articles like this one and this one, which detail the dangers and the historical pitfalls of the $100-million contract for pitchers. This is as conventional as baseball wisdom gets: big free-agent deals are traps. They’re sucker’s bets. They’re bad, bad, bad.
Here’s the thing, though: any team needs to foray into free agency in order to thrive. It’s damn near impossible to draft and develop an entire team with a chance of winning anything, let alone to do so on an ongoing basis, repeating the feat. Trade is necessary for the growth of any economy, and outside talent is necessary for the growth and improvement of any organization. So the question isn’t whether large or long-term free-agent deals for pitchers fit the guidelines we use to define and identify financially savvy moves, but rather, whether those big commitments are really worse for a team than smaller ones. And the answer, as it turns out, is no. In fact, hooking the biggest fish (even at the biggest price) might just be the most successful strategy there is for supplementing organizational pitching depth with outside talent.
And sometimes when you're on, you're really f***ing on, and your friends they sing along and they love you.
If there were any doubts as to which Johnny Cueto would show up Wednesday night in Kansas City, he started to put them to bed with his eighth pitch. He had one out in hand, but the way Jose Altuve unraveled under the spotlight of a playoff series, that had come easily. George Springer was due up next, and Cueto fell behind him 3-1. Surely, there were plenty of nervous Royals fans watching, wondering whether the problematic Cueto, who had scuffled since Kansas City acquired him in July was back—and whether that was what the end of a season looked like.
These players vastly outperformed their draft position, making them the best fantasy values of the past season.
Trying to determine any Fantasy Baseball MVP is inherently difficult because the notion of what is the “most valuable” depends on the specific league settings, the makeup of individual teams, and even the type of draft. However, we can certainly highlight some of the players who carried significant surplus value by comparing the preseason average draft position (ADP) of a player and his end-of-season ranking. Those players, we can reasonably assume, impacted the overall success rate of fantasy teams more than other picks.
The Nationals move into first place, Cole Hamels and Tyson Ross duel in Philly, plus more from Wednesday and previews for today.
The Wednesday Takeaway
Nationals starting pitchers have issued four walks over their last 10 games. Combined. That’s four walks in 71 innings and just one in their last 54. Giants starter Matt Cain walked four Nats in the first inning of last night’s game alone, including the first three who stepped into the box.
The Reds' ace tosses another shutout, the Mets use a brand-new starter for the second straight day, plus other recaps and previews for the weekend.
The Thursday Takeaway
The Padres and Reds played two on Thursday, with the first matchup pitting Johnny Cueto and Ian Kennedy against each other in a matchup between baseball's ERA leader and its FRA leader.
Nick Bacarella mentioned in yesterday's WYNTK that Cueto entered Thursday as the first pitcher since Fernando Valenzuela to start a season with eight starts of at least seven innings pitched while allowing two or fewer runs. That streak continued after Cueto tossed his second shutout of the season on Thursday, and he is now the first starting pitcher since 1914 to start a season with nine such starts.
Scouts' takes on Jose Abreu, Johnny Cueto, Billy Hamilton, Eddie Butler, and other interesting players.
Many of our authors make a habit of speaking to scouts and other talent evaluators in order to bring you the best baseball information available. Not all of the tidbits gleaned from those conversations make it into our articles, but we don't want them to go to waste. Instead, we'll be collecting them in a regular feature called "What Scouts Are Saying," which will be open to participation from the entire BP staff and include quotes about minor leaguers and major leaguers alike.
Johnny Cueto's gem and other action from Wednesday, plus what to watch today.
The Wednesday Takeaway
Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto enjoyed a career year in 2012, when he compiled a 2.78 ERA over 217 innings despite pitching half of his games in one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the league. But the then-26-year-old’s ascent toward stardom was halted by a lat strain that he suffered last April and nursed for a month, only to have it recur twice and limit him to 11 starts.