keyboard_arrow_uptop
The Annual is coming! Click here to pre-order the 2020 Baseball Prospectus Book

IN THIS ISSUE

American League

National League

BOSTON RED SOX
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
Return to Top

Placed 2B-R Dustin Pedroia on the 15-day disabled list (hamstring); optioned RHP Joe Kelly to Triple-A Pawtucket; recalled OF-L Jackie Bradley Jr. from Triple-A Pawtucket; selected the contracts of SS-R Deven Marrero and RHP Jonathan Aro from Tripe-A Pawtucket; designated C-R Erik Kratz for assignment. [6/25]

The call-ups of (say it with me) Marrero and Aro didn’t receive much fanfare, but both have a chance to contribute to what has been a very disappointing 2015 Red Sox campaign.

Marrero was a first-round selection out of Arizona State in the 2011 draft, and while the overall numbers have been anything but spectacular—a .683 OPS in just over 1,500 career plate appearances in the system—there have been flashes that suggest he can be a competent shortstop. His swing path and build give him very little chance of putting up more than a handful of homers and uninspiring doubles totals, but his hand-eye coordination and short stroke make him a quality contact hitter who can spray the ball to all parts of the field. He also shows a willingness to work counts and will draw his fair share of walks; the flip side is that he puts himself into two-strike situations, which explains why his strikeout totals are relatively high despite a swing built for contact.

Where Marrero is going to make his money is with his glove, and he has a chance to be one of the better defenders in the league. His arm strength is plus, the hands are soft, and, though he isn’t fleet of foot, his instincts get him into position to make any play. His most likely role is defense-first utility infielder, but there’s still a chance his defensive prowess makes him a starter in the coming years.

Aro’s ceiling and floor are both lower than Marrero’s, but he does have a chance to contribute in the bullpen. His fastball gets up to 95—sitting more comfortably 91–93—and he’ll show a solid-average slider and fringe-average change as well. He pounds the strike zone with all three pitches, though his command is below-average, as you find with many relievers. His ceiling is seventh-inning arm, with up-and-down swing-man a more realistic role. —Christopher Crawford

TAMPA BAY RAYS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
Return to Top

Acquired 1B-L Marc Krauss from the Angels in exchange for RHP Kyle Winkler; optioned 2B-S Nick Franklin to Triple-A Durham. [6/25]

Earlier in the season, the Rays used a feller named Allan Dykstra at first base. Dykstra was a left-handed hitter with a patient approach, an above-average amount of pop, and a substandard hit tool that limited his staying power. Though younger and with more big-league experience and success, Krauss is a lot like Dykstra, right down to the perception that he’s little more than a Quad-A player. Still, the Rays added Krauss for two reasons: 1) to play first base against righties until James Loney or John Jaso returned from the disabled list and 2) to allow Franklin a reprieve.

Franklin hasn’t found much success since he joined the Rays last July. In fact, he is closing in on two full seasons without an offensive spark, which is a grim possibility given the other limitations in his game, most notably that he cannot play shortstop at a tolerable level, leaving him as a second baseman without a bat (or, in some dialects, a minor leaguer). The thinking is probably that Franklin will gain more from playing daily in Durham than pinch-hitting every other game in St. Pete. It’s a decent thought. Will it help Franklin salvage his big-league career? Who knows with this guy. —R.J. Anderson

NEW YORK METS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
Return to Top

Outrighted RHP Dillon Gee to Triple-A Las Vegas. [6/23]

Gee’s bumpy and mismanaged season continues. During the spring he transitioned from walking trade rumor to reliever to starter following Zack Wheeler‘s Tommy John surgery. Yet a month into the season Gee suffered his own injury, setting into motion Noah Syndergaard‘s rise and the Mets’ decision to use a six-man rotation. That plan lasted one start, after which Gee was demoted to the bullpen (a move he found disagreeable). A relief appearance and spot start later, Gee was designated for assignment, then subsequently passed through waivers en route to the PCL.

Understanding why Gee drew little interest despite a low salary (he’s due about $2 million the rest of the way) is straightforward: He doesn’t have good stuff and his performance over his last 30 appearances (a 4.42 ERA and similar FIP) agrees that he’s a back-end starter at best. Those have value, but Gee’s public braying about his role didn’t help the situation. It’s a bit much to say that back-end starters should be seen but not heard, but putting aside how things should be, that’s at least sound practical advice in baseball’s culture. As such, the question with Gee is whether he returns to the majors before the season ends, thus guaranteeing he’s non-tendered in the winter, or if he’s released before he can register for minor-league free agency.

Gee isn’t the only one who could’ve handled the situation better. Sandy Alderson is an intelligent executive, but the sequence of events has been clumsy and confusing. Among the questions that must be asked: How did Gee go from too valuable to inconvenience to not valuable enough to inconvenience others after one start? And why are the Mets now returning to the six-man rotation just weeks after moving away from it for legitimate (and foreseeable) reasons?

The answers to those questions might be that Gee isn’t worth the fuss and they preferred Matz in his spot all along. Fair enough, but there were shorter, cleaner routes to this destination. —R.J. Anderson

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
Return to Top

Manager Ryne Sandberg resigned; third-base coach Pete Mackanin named interim manager. [6/26]

It’s like a riddle: How untenable must a situation be in order for someone to resign from their dream job after less than two full seasons?

If managing the Phillies had become Sandberg’s hell, then it was (as it often is) mostly self-created and -maintained. In 2014 Sandberg engaged in numerous public spats with players, ranging from franchise legends like Jimmy Rollins and Cole Hamels all the way down the pecking order to Jonathan Pettibone. He didn’t help his case—not with outsiders, at least—by allowing his starting pitchers to lead the majors in 120-plus-pitch outings; this from a 73-win team with zero competitive aspirations.

Of course the Phillies’ failures under Sandberg were not entirely his fault. His rosters were poor and, by one measure, he wasn’t void of managerial skill. The problem is that he didn’t seem to handle his business well. To endure and succeed, managers have to be good with people or tactics, and often both. Sandberg didn’t seem good with people, not the way you’d expect from someone with extensive playing, managing (albeit in the minors or on an interim basis), and coaching experience.

Invariably, Sandberg’s failures will kindle a new round of theories about how great players make poor managers. But that explanation feels too simplistic for what appears to be a complex situation. (Plus it ignores Paul Molitor‘s ongoing success in Minnesota.) It seems more likely that Sandberg’s shortcomings resulted from a poor fit—disciplinarian types work better on the other side of the rebuilding curve—or the wrong impression of how he needed to act in order to succeed. The latter inspires hope that he could learn from his mistakes before his next shot. Unfortunately for Sandberg, his abrupt resignation may ensure he doesn’t receive another opportunity.

In addition to plausibly ending Sandberg’s managerial career and serving as fodder for Phillies-related snark, the resignation gives incoming executive Andy MacPhail a clean entrance point. The Phillies probably would have fired Sandberg before next season anyway—perhaps as soon as Friday evening, for all we know—so this gives them a jump-start on finding the next Phillies skipper.

Until then, the Phillies will be led by Mackanin, who has twice before served on an interim basis (with the 2005 Pirates and 2007 Reds). For whatever reason, he hasn’t received a full-time shot. We can rule out lack of trying, since he’s interviewed all over, including with the Red Sox after Terry Francona was dismissed. Among the highlights from that process: Mackanin proclaiming his love for statistical analysis. Sure, but how about Friskies? —R.J. Anderson

Thank you for reading

This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.

Subscribe now
You need to be logged in to comment. Login or Subscribe
fawcettb
6/29
Not sure how Paul Molitor's success in Min. can be "ongoing", given that it's his first year managing...
hotstatrat
6/29
Yeah, it is stretching use of the word a bit, but we are nearing the half way point and the Twins are 40-35 ahead of the mighty Tigers. I keep waiting for them to sink back to the bottom of the standings where they belong. When a team overachieves under a new manager this long, the manager deservedly gets a lot of credit.
doctawojo
6/29
It is in progress.
kmbart
6/29
Sandberg's avowed "hate to lose" attitude was certainly a factor, as was the looming change in the Executive Suite, but this is really about the front office siding with Utley following his benching in the wake of the Francoeur pitching controversy. Sandberg backed up his pitching coach, Bob McClure, when Ken Giles sulked a week earlier, but when he did the same to Utley the star second baseman went on the DL with an injury that mysteriously appeared after 2 months of NOT being an issue. Sandberg got blind-sided by the team and realized that nobody has HIS back.
sam19041
6/29
That was charitable of you to describe Alderson's handling of the Dillon Gee situation that way. For a team with limited resources (so they claim), Dillon Gee would have been useful as a modest trade chip.
Oldwell89
6/29
In case you missed it, Sandberg after party was epic!
TGT969
6/30
If the Phils had the stones they would just release Utley. Sometimes you have got to move on.
sbnirish77
6/30
Remember that Sandberg quit on the Cubs also. From Cub history at mlb.com Ryne Sandberg quit baseball while still at his peak; he returned to the game after a year and a half like he had never missed an inning. On June 13, 1994, Sandberg announced he was retiring because "I am certainly not the type of person who can ask the Cubs organization and the Chicago Cubs fans to pay my salary when I am not happy with my mental approach and my performance." "Ryno" missed the 1994 strike and sat out the abbreviated 1995 season as well. When he went to Wrigley Field to see the knock-down, drag-out final series of the year between the Cubs and the Houston Astros, he knew his place was still on the field, not in the stands. By spring training 1996, Sandberg had signed on again with the Cubs and was back to business as usual.