Triple Play: Second half predictions edition

The All-Star break is in the rear view mirror and trade rumors are heating up. This week’s edition of the Triple Play is a change-up: instead of looking back at the previous week, we look ahead and make some predictions for the rest of the season (we didn’t want to feel left out since everyone else is doing it!). Without further adieu:

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Who’s Hot – Award Predictions

AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit. Not exactly going out on a limb here, I know. But the man just keeps getting better and better. The likelihood of him continuing to do what he is doing is greater than Chris Davis. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Mike Trout also is having a better season than in 2012, but he will probably be hurt in the voting by the Angels’ disappointing season.

NL MVP: Yadier Molina, St. Louis. Cardinals fans have learned that John Mozeliak was right when he called Molina the heart and soul of the team (and NOT Albert Pujols). This is the year that Yadi finally gets the proper recognition as not only the best all-around catcher in baseball, but one of the best players, period.

AL Cy Young: Yu Darvish, Texas. He might only be on pace to win 14 games, but he is also on track for over 250 strikeouts with a WHIP barely above 1.00. I believe Max Scherzer is due for a little regression, leaving Felix Hernandez and Chris Sale as Darvish’s primary challengers.

NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles. Kershaw will outduel Adam Wainwright and Matt Harvey to win his second Cy. Harvey will tire down the stretch and Wainwright will be a runner-up again, despite having better peripheral stats.

AL Rookie of the Year: Jose Iglesias, Boston. Compared to the class of rookies in the NL, the AL group is quite weak. Oakland’s Dan Straily will finish the season with a better case to be the ROY, but Iglesias will benefit from the east coast publicity to win the award.

NL Rookie of the Year: Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles. Look at the rookies in the NL this year: Shelby Miller, Jose Fernandez, Evan Gattis, Trevor Rosenthal, Jedd Gyorko, Julio Teheran, Hyun-Jin Ryu. Every one of them would have a stronger case than the AL nominees. Miller and Fernandez are budding aces and were the front-runners before Puigmania swept across the NL. The award is his to lose.

AL Division Winners: Boston, Detroit, Texas

AL Wild Cards: Tampa Bay, Oakland

NL Division Winners: Atlanta, St. Louis, Los Angeles

NL Wild Cards: Pittsburgh, Cincinnati

Playing the Trade Deadline Game

  • Besides Matt Garza, who is the biggest pitching prize available? Ricky Nolasco and Scott Feldman have already been dealt. Evidently, Philadelphia isn’t trading Cliff Lee. That leaves Jake Peavy, who could be a nice piece for a contender (as previously noted in this column). Yovani Gallardo and Bud Norris also have drawn interest, but are they difference makers? The Royals have some intriguing arms, but have shown no inclination to deal them. There had been rumors about the Giants trading Tim Lincecum, but that seems highly unlikely following his no-hitter. Teams should run the other way if the Padres make Jason Marquis or Edinson Volquez available.
  • Ultimately, I think Garza still goes to the Rangers.
  • Peavy is a little more difficult to guess. MLB Trade Rumors reported over the weekend that at least half a dozen teams were scouting Peavy’s start Saturday. He is under contract for 2014, so he wouldn’t be strictly a rental. That explains the heavy interest.
  • To me, Arizona would be an ideal fit for Peavy or Gallardo, but I haven’t seen any reports of the D-backs having any interest. To be sure, Peavy would benefit from a trade to the NL.
  • Gallardo would be a consolation prize for teams missing out on Garza and Peavy.
  • The market for hitters still seems fuzzy, but it appears that the Pirates have feelers out all over the place. The Alex Rios/Alexei Ramirez rumor is certainly intriguing in that it would allow them to upgrade two positions in the lineup. Pittsburgh has young pitching and outfielders to trade. This is a rumor that makes so much sense for both sides that it needs to happen ASAP.
  • Hunter Pence is another player whose name has come up recently, but it would really make no sense for the Giants to trade him. They can barely score runs WITH him in the lineup behind Buster Posey.
  • Jason Kubel has had a pretty lousy season so far, but this is a guy who smacked 30 homers last year. With Adam Eaton back, Arizona would love to trade him for a pitcher. Hello, San Francisco?
  • Aramis Ramirez is another veteran hitter who could be dealt if he can prove himself healthy between now and the trade deadline. I’ve got to believe he would be of interest to the Yankees and Red Sox.
  • Speaking of those teams, I don’t understand their interest in Michael Young. He’s 36, he doesn’t hit much anymore (.288/.345/.421, 7 HR, 31 RBI, 37 runs) and he’s an abominable fielder. His Offensive WAR rating of 1.3 is almost totally offset by his -1.2 defensive WAR figure, making him nothing more than an average player at best. Is it the whole “classy” thing? I thought that had been put to rest years ago; his history of pouting and arguing with team management has been well-documented. So why all the interest? In my opinion, Ramirez would be a much better target, as would San Diego’s Chase Headley.
  • It would be a shame if Baltimore really is “tapped out” financially and can’t make a move to bolster their pitching staff. The Orioles would be much more fun to watch in October than Boston, Detroit or Texas (to this writer, anyway).
  • Asdrubal Cabrera’s name has been linked to the Cardinals again. In the offseason, a Cabrera for Matt Carpenter/Lance Lynn/plus a prospect deal was rumored. After the season Carpenter has had, I’m 99.99% certain the Cardinals wouldn’t trade Carpenter straight up for Cabrera.
  • I think the Tigers will trade for Francisco Rodriguez to fill their closer spot.
  • I also think K-Rod will made some fans (and maybe even Jim Leyland) occasionally pine for Jose Valverde.

Random Thoughts

  • Wainwright Walk Watch: Adam Wainwright pitched 37 innings this season before walking his first batter, so we are keeping track of how few free passes the Cardinals’ ace issues throughout the season. Following his start Sunday against the Padres, Wainwright has walked just 17 hitters while fanning 137, good for an 8-to-1 K/BB ratio, best in the majors among starting pitchers. The ratio has come down noticeably in recent weeks, but Wainwright still has not walked more than two batters in any start this season. He is now 13-5 with a 2.44 ERA and 1.02 WHIP.
  • Thanks to the two walks yesterday, Wainwright is no longer the starter who has walked the fewest batters. That distinction now belongs to Bartolo Colon, who walked just 16 hitters (including one in Sunday’s complete-game shutout of the Angels).
  • The 40-year-old Colon (doesn’t that sound like a bad comedy routine?) has three shutouts this season, and 12 in his career. He is 10-1 with a 1.46 ERA. His 1.113 WHIP would be the lowest of his career.
  • Erik Bedard’s pitching line Saturday: 6 1/3 IP, 0 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 10 K. He was charged with the loss. Here are some interesting notes about that game:
    • According to ESPN Stats & Info, it was just the second time in the Live Ball Era that a pitcher allowed three or more runs while not allowing a hit in six or more innings. The other time was the Yankees’ Andy Hawkins in 1990 versus the White Sox.
    • Seattle scored two unearned runs in the sixth thanks to three walks, two passed balls and a sacrifice fly. Talk about ugly baseball.
  • Speaking of Bedard, here’s a stupefying stat about him over the weekend: in 207 career starts going back to 2002, Bedard has tossed eight innings just 10 times (hat tip to Billy-Ball). Wainwright has gone at least eight innings eight times this season.
  • Bedard has a grand total of one complete game. One.
  • In short, I’m guessing Astros manager Bo Porter wasn’t too surprised when Bedard took himself out of the game Saturday night. After the game, Bedard said this to reporters: “I’ve had three shoulder surgeries. I’m not going over 110 (pitches). I’d rather pitch a couple more years than face another batter.”
  • Erik Bedard has made at least $27 million in his playing career. He has never once made the playoffs. I wonder why.
  • News: Clay Buchholz is planning to visit Dr. James Andrews. Views: Uh oh.
  • Mariners shortstop Brad Miller bashed two home runs with five RBI Friday night. Brendan Ryan, who started at short on Opening Day for Seattle, has hit three home runs and driven in 17 – in 255 plate appearances.
  • Once upon a time, Hanley Ramirez was a Top 5 fantasy performer. He’s been reminding folks of that ability since returning from the DL: .392/.445/.721 going into Monday’s games, to go with 10 HR, 31 RBI, 29 runs and five steals (in 155 plate appearances). Puig is getting most of the headlines, but HanRam has been just as valuable to the resurgent Dodgers.
  • Good news: Matt Kemp returns from the DL and belts a home run and a double. Bad news: he left the game after twisting his ankle sliding into home in the ninth inning.
  • Great one-liner from the Denver Post’s Troy Renck: “Chris Carpenter is harder to kill than Jason Bourne.”
  • Alex Rodriguez isn’t going to be back Monday after all? Whatever will the New York media do for its daily dose of sanctimonious soapbox screeching?
  • The Numbskull of the Day Award goes to Jose Reyes, who was plunked by an off-target pickoff throw at first base by Rays pitcher Chris Archer. Reyes was not wearing a protective cup at the time.
  • Has Sunday night’s Yankees-Red Sox game ended yet?
  • I did a double-take at this minor-league transaction: Left-handed pitcher Jason Lane signs with Padres, assigned to Triple-A Tucson. No big deal, you say. Except that it’s the same Jason Lane who played outfield for the Astros and Padres between 2002-07. He’s now 36. Could we be looking at Rick Ankiel Part II?
  • Miami hasn’t scored a run in 37 innings. That’s a club record, as well as the longest drought by a major league team in 28 years. The Houston Astros were held scoreless for 42 consecutive innings in July 1985. The Marlins haven’t scored since the fourth inning of a game against the Nationals on July 14.
  • Fortunately for them, the Rockies are next on the schedule, so the dry spell should come to an end in fairly short order.

Follow me on Twitter: @ccaylor10

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