Discussing the eleven players that make up the qualifying offer bubble.
In the excitement and immersion of the playoffs, some extraneous news tidbits can go fly under one’s radar for a while. Things affecting teams not playing on into October do continue to happen during the month; they just get less attention. So it was that Jon Heyman reported, a week ago now, that the qualifying offer (QO, from now on) teams will need to offer free agents hitting the market next month in order to get a draft pick if they sign elsewhere will be $15.8 million. I didn’t catch wind of that news until Thursday afternoon.
It’s interesting information, though, and it makes for some interesting analysis. Consider the progression of the QO since its first winter in 2012:
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Texas deals David Price another postseason defeat, but was this a pyrrhic victory for the Rangers?
Game One of the American League Division Series between the Rangers and the Blue Jays was about losses. The Blue Jays lost home-field advantage, the Rangers lost one of their best players, and the postseason lost its streak of one-sided affairs.
The Rangers are exceeding expectations. Where did the expectations go wrong?
In our preseason predictions piece, 45 of us tried to forecast the 2015 season. Not one of us thought the Texas Rangers would finish first in the AL West. That’s okay; they’re three games out and the Astros are still likely to hold them off. There also wasn’t a brave enough soul to predict that Texas would finish second in the division. Alright, they’re three and a half games clear of the Angels, but that still might not be enough cushion. The thing is, only one of the 45 of us (Bret Sayre, cheers) even had the audacity to suggest that the Rangers could finish third. Sixty percent of this staff of so-called experts had the Rangers finishing last. Instead, they wake up Monday morning with a game and a half to spare for the second Wild Card spot, at 68-61 and riding a four-game winning streak.
Were we wrong about the Rangers? About the Royals? About the Twins? That’s the question we’re here today to answer. (If we were wrong about those three teams, of course, we were also wrong about the Red Sox, Mariners, and Nationals, but we’ll explore the reasons for that wrongness—or innocent victimization at the hands of the universe—another time.) It’s perfectly possible, of course, to not foresee something simply because it couldn’t be foreseen. There’s no blame there. Some things happen simply because anything can happen, and not because they were likely to happen all along. Then again, there are cases every season in which we really, truly should have taken a little longer to understand a team a little better, and where if we had, we might have forecast their seasons better.
J.P. wasn't expecting much from the Brewers righty, but he's been pleasantly surprised.
Admittedly, this article stems from a recent article by our own Craig Goldstein and an ongoing series by Jason Parks. It revolves around the idea of making preseason projections and ultimately being wrong. Goldstein took the high road in his article last week and explained that baseball analysts can occasionally hide behind process as a way of lessening the impact of making an incorrect prediction. He writes:
I often think my reasons at the time were justified, and that just because it didn’t break my way, doesn’t mean I was wrong, just that it turned out differently. This is hiding behind “the process.” I was wrong, and good reasoning at the time or not, that needs to be owned.
Why we might be overestimating pitchers' offensive abilities. Yes, OVERestimating.
You can see what Buck Showalter was going for on Tuesday night. Mark Reynolds is a hitter. Not always a great hitter, but one of the couple hundred best in the world, and very capable of ending the game with one swing. The guy behind him was a pitcher. Not a terrible hitter, pitcher-wise, but a pitcher. In the categories our brain creates, pitchers are non-threats. Given the choice between a threat and a non-threat, the decision to intentionally walk the threat to face the non-threat feels obvious, if you don't do the math. But you should do the math:
The A's lefty logs his first complete game since 2006, plus more recaps from a walkoff-filled Wednesday and previews for Thursday.
The Wednesday Takeaway
Fans at Oakland Coliseum were treated to a fantastic pitchers’ duel between Scott Kazmir and Anibal Sanchez on Wednesday, and the visitors started the bottom of the ninth inning with a 1-0 advantage.
Kazmir was in line for a complete-game loss, in which he threw 76 of his 103 pitches for strikes and struck out eight batters without issuing a walk. The lone mistake he made was a slider left up that Torii Hunter deposited over the right-center field wall. Kazmir was able to subdue the Tigers with his changeup, as he threw 19 of his 26 off-speed offerings for strikes—nine of them of the swing-and-miss variety. The southpaw was able to hold his velocity over the course of the game, registering his fastest four-seamer of the game with his second-to-last pitch.
The Brew Crew might be a flawed club, but it also has plenty of excellent fantasy assets.
There is a lot of fantasy talent on the 2014 Milwaukee Brewers roster. Their tumultuous 2013 season and consensus ranking of “fringe contender” for next season have made the Brewers somewhat anonymous nationally, but that shouldn’t be the case. They have batters who can hit for power and run. They have pitchers who are better than you think. And even their bullpen has a few high-strikeout options of note. It’s a flawed team, to be sure, but one that could produce some fantasy steals this year.
The tater trots for April 18: Todd Frazier does good, Yovani Gallardo goes yard, Francisco Cervelli speeds home.
Home Run of the Day: Todd Frazier, Cincinnati Reds - 22.18 seconds [video]
A home run in the later innings of an 11-1 rout are rarely worth talking about as the Home Run of the Day. In Cincinnati on Thursday, however, Todd Frazier's blast is very much worth celebrating. As C. Trent Rosecrans wrote for cincinnati.com, this home run was hit by special request for Reds batboy Teddy Kremer.
Another crop of two-start pitchers are examined in this week's planner
Interleague play fires up next week, and we have a star-studded slate of two-start pitchers to examine. Last week, I gave the thumbs up to the back end of the Red Sox rotation, but both Daniel Bardand Felix Doubront flopped in Kansas City. They could redeem themselves at home against Cleveland, but they move down a peg and need to prove something before being trusted again.
All of the other “starts” in both leagues have pitched adequately or better in their first outing of the week, including gems from Ivan Nova, Neftali Feliz, Doug Fister (listed as Duane Below in the piece, but then corrected to Fister in the comments), Edwin Jackson, and Jeff Samardzija. Conversely, many of the National League “sits” did quite well themselves, especially Carlos Zambrano andBronson Arroyo. I’m still concerned about both in the long-term, however, and Alex White (the “Unnamed Colorado Starter” in the piece) did have the good fortune of debuting in San Diego.
Jim Leyland wasn't alone in making questionable lineup moves on Wednesday; Ron Roenicke made his own in playing Mark Kotsay.
Sometimes a manager plays a hunch and winds up looking smart, even if the process by which he arrives at the decision appears flawed. In Game Five of the AL Division Series, Jim Leyland batted light-hitting utilityman Don Kelly second, and Kelly responded with a solo home run in the first inning en route to a 3-2 Tigers victory and a series win. On the other hand, sometimes a manager makes a head-scratching move, and it backfires so badly it raises the question of whether a best-of-seven series can end in three games. In Game Three of the NL Championship Series, Ron Roenicke chose to start Mark Kotsay in center field and bat him second against Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter. Before the first inning was out, Kotsay wound up on the wrong end of two game-changing plays en route to a 4-0 deficit, and while the Brewers made a game of it, they fell 4-3, putting themselves in a two-games-to-one hole with the possibility that the series may not make it back to Milwaukee.