Ten players who could land with a contender before this year's trade deadline.
The New Collective Bargaining Agreement has already affected the free-agent and draft classes. Soon, the new guidelines will reshape the trade market. The two most noticeable changes deal with draft-pick compensation. Foremost, teams that acquire a player in-season are no longer eligible to receive compensation. The elimination of Type-A and Type-B ranks means that teams holding onto their own players to net compensation will now be tasked with extending a qualifying offer worth the average salary of the 125 richest contracts in baseball (more than $12 million for the time being).
While those new rules will ostensibly lower the trade value of the average player, the decision to add two playoff spots could serve as a counterbalance. In theory, the increased demand will yield a higher return for the smaller number of sellers. In reality, that might not be enough to make up for the draft compensation changes. One thing is certain: the new rules could alter the relief pitcher market. The last time Astros reliever Brandon Lyon qualified for free agency, he achieved Type B status and netted his former team (the Tigers) a supplemental pick. This time around, Lyon will be on the move by the deadline if his team decides that two months of his service is worth less than the best offer on the table.
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Andrew Miller makes Jose Molina look like a worse hitter than usual, David Price makes Nick Swisher's head explode, Chris Davis makes baseball look easy (or hard), and more.
Here are the three best pitches of the week, or rather some number near three in some period of time that is roughly week-like.
3. Andrew Miller, slider, against Jose Molina.
There's a tendency to judge these pitches on how the batter reacts to them. This seems like a flaw in the judging, but maybe this is actually just right. Without being in the pitcher's head, we don't really know whether the pitch was exactly as he intended it. A two-seamer with nasty movement can look an awful lot like a two-seamer that gets away from him. Even if he did execute his pitch perfectly, exactly as he intended it, we can't know without being the hitter whether it was actually a difficult pitch to hit. Brian Moehler probably executed a lot of garbage pitches exactly as he intended them, as slightly less-garbagey garbage. Our understanding of the value of pitch sequencing is primitive. Catchers' targets are often inexact suggestions, or they allow for the movement of the pitch, so it's hard to say the pitcher hit his target exactly right. Our view of these pitches on TV is misleading and inconsistent. So we're left with the one thing we can clearly observe.
Some of this year's great starts are tied to dramatically changed approaches.
Looking at leaderboards in April is a lot like looking at a familiar face reflected in a funhouse mirror: some features are clearly recognizable, but others are badly distorted. Matt Kemp leads the league in almost everything, which makes sense. Look a little harder, though, and oddities start to appear. Jack Hannahan, a career .235 hitter, is batting .308. If Jack Hannahan is still batting .308 at the All-Star break, we’ll have to start paying attention (and possibly packing away survival supplies). Until then, it’s safe to dismiss Hannahan’s hot streak as a small-sample fluke.*
*Very, very safe. When I first wrote that sentence, Hannahan was hitting .364.
Zack Greinke's road woes continue, while the other M&M Boys team up to bash the Angels.
The Thursday Takeaway
Will the real Zack Greinke please stand up?
On April 7, in the Brewers’ second game of the season, Greinke dominated the Cardinals over seven shutout innings, allowing just four hits and no walks, and striking out seven. Yesterday, facing the Cubs’ decidedly less potent offense, Greinke was torched for eight runs in 3 2/3 innings—including a disastrous third-inning hit parade that enabled Chicago to bat around for the first time this year.
On teaching patience, a nice old lady and a hilarious inning to a near-gem.
CHICAGO—One-four-four-five-four-one. No, that's not a Tommy Tutone update, it's the game-by-game run totals for the Cubs in their first six outings of the season. They broke out with eight runs off Milwaukee ace Zack Greinke on Thursday, but questions still abound about Chicago's offense.