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Thursday, July 10, 2014
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THE LATEST

AJ Pierzynski

The Boston Red Sox have designate catcher A.J. Pierzynski for assignment, first reported by Fox Sports‘ Ken Rosenthal. Boston will be calling up Christian Vazquez who will share the dish duties with David Ross.

A.J. Pierzynski, who arrived to Boston via free agency on a one-year deal worth $8.250 million, registered a .254/.286/.348 slash with four home runs and 31 RBI’s in 72 games for the Red Sox this year.

Boston simply decided to designate Pierzynski for assignment since he didn’t any trade value, explains Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe. Abraham also mentions that the Red Sox will be making some more moves soon.

Christian Vazquez, 23, will be getting his first taste of the majors in his short career as a professional baseball player. The catcher was posting a .279/.336/.385 batting line with three homers and 20 RBI’s in 66 games at Triple-A.

John Lackey

John Lackey drawing trade interest from ball clubs

Preferably the Boston Red Sox would rather move right-hander Jake Peavy, though Nick Crawford reports that teams have kept their attention on right-hander John Lackey.

Lackey, who’s 35, is entering Wednesday with a 9-5 record plus with a 3.84 ERA, 8.1 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 117 1/3 innings for the Red Sox this season. Lackey is earning $15.250 million this season, however his $500K club option will be exercise since he missed all the 2012 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery (contract says club option could be approved if Lackey misses significant time from 2010 to 2014 due an elbow injury). So he’ll come very cheap for Boston in 2015.

Rangers’ Jason Frasor and Neal Cotts on the trade block

With Jason Frasor and Neal Cotts testing the free agency at the end of the season, the Texas Rangers are willing to hear offers for their relievers reports T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. Sullivan also remarks that both Frasor and Cotts could be traded away prior to the deadline on July 31st.

Jason Frasor, 36, has registered a 2.86 ERA while allowing 12 runs on 25 hits in 28 1/2 innings over 36 appearances for the Rangers this campaign. Neal Cotts, 34, has posted a 3.65 ERA and striking out 44 hitters  in 37 innings.

Several teams showing interest in Erasmo Ramirez

According to Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune, multiple teams, including the Milwaukee Brewers, are drawing interest in Seattle Mariners‘ right-hander Erasmo Ramirez.

Erasmo Ramirez, 24, has a 1-4 record with a 4.58 ERA in 53 innings for the M’s this season. The righty has appeared in eight games in the minors, posting a 4.91 ERA in 47 2/3 innings.

With Felix Hernandez being push a day back, there’s a opening for a starter on Thursday. The M’s have yet to make public who’ll be on the hill on that date. Ramirez is set to pitch on Friday for the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate.

Jake Peavy

Although there was indication that the St.Louis Cardinals wants to acquire quickly Boston Red Sox‘s right-hander Jake Peavy, a source told Derrick Goold of the St.Louis Post-Dispatch that the Cardinals are “looking for offense” and not exploring the market for a pitcher like Peavy.

VIA STLTODAY.COM: 

That does not resonate with the Cardinals who are “looking for offense” at this point and not a pitcher like Peavy, a source with knowledge of the team’s strategy said. Their offensive need is more acute, and harder to address.

Goold also mentions that the Cards have kept their eyes open for a pitcher for almost a month now to see if they could manage acquire a starter which could bolster their rotation and as well as their bullpen. However with Joe Kelly returning soon from the disabled list on Friday, St.Louis feels that their starting rotation could finish the season on a positive note, especially with Michael Wacha coming back in a month.

The Cardinals did have scouts at the Boston Red Sox vs Baltimore Orioles game during Peavy’s latest outing, so that’s why all the buzz started. Though Goold writes that the Cardinals have up-and-coming games against them, so they had scouts building updated profiles.

The Los Angeles Dodgers (besides possibly the Athletics after their blockbuster trade), could possibly have the best starting 5 in baseball. Between their rotation, relievers, a 51-40 record, a high-powered offense, and, according to a study done by Bleacher Report, the 3rd most Pitcher-Friendly Park in the majors (1st in terms of ERA), this is one of the most dangerous teams in the entire league.

Let’s break down the Starting 5 one-by-one and see how truly filthy each pitcher has been.

Let’s start with the most obvious choice, one of the best pitchers in the game for many years to come.

Clayton Kershaw

10-2
87.1 IP
1.85 ERA
0.87 WHIP
115/12 K/BB Ratio
13 Games Started

After just one start on opening day in Australia,  Kershaw missed a little over a month with a back injury to begin the season. He came off the 15-Day DL on May 6th, and besides a few rocky starts, he hasn’t missed a beat. He currently has a scoreless inning streak all the way up to 36, just 23 innings (about 3 starts for Kershaw’s standards) away from tying Orel Hershiser‘s 59 scoreless innings streak in ’88. He’s still easily the most dominant pitcher in the game, and if he did not miss the first month of the season, he’d be right at the top of the Cy Young ballot, and maybe even the MVP one as well.

Zack Greinke

11-4
111.2 IP
2.66 ERA
1.18 WHIP
119/22 K/BB Ratio
18 Games Started

Greinke has been as dominant as any pitcher in the Majors this year. Although he has been giving up the long ball, as he’s given up 12 so far after only giving up 13 all of last year, he still has maintained an ERA under 3. With his FIP at 3.02, and his highest strikeout rate since 2011 (9.6 this year), the 30-year-old Greinke looks ready to pitch against any team that comes his way.

 

Hyun-Jin Ryu

9-4
96.1 IP
3.08 ERA
1.19 WHIP
81/19 K/BB Ratio
16 Games Started

Ryu has been a story of consistency so far in his two years in LA, with an almost identical ERA the past two years, the same exact HR/9, K/9, fewer W/9, and very similar H/9. His FIP and WHIP are also lower this year, over halfway through the 2014 season. He’s on pace to surpass his win total from last year also, finishing 14-8 last year. The 255-Pound Pitcher from South Korea is still just 27 years old, and looks to have a bright future based on his first two seasons.

 

Josh Beckett

6-5
103.2 IP
2.26 ERA
1.03 WHIP
95/32 K/BB Ratio
17 Games Started

After a nightmare 2013 season, including season-ending surgery after being diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, Beckett, 34, has looked better than ever so far. Earlier this year, he became the oldest pitcher since Randy Johnson was 40 years old in ’04 to throw a no-hitter (Johnson’s was a perfect game). Beckett did so against the Phillies on May 25th, followed by Kershaw doing the same less than a month later against the Rockies. Beckett has had an up and down career, having 6 seasons with double-digit wins, and also 4 seasons with double-digit losses. It’s nice to see him back on the right track in his 3rd season with the Dodgers.

 

Dan Haren

8-5
108.2 IP
4.06 ERA
1.24 WHIP
77/19 K/BB Ratio
18 Games Started

Although Haren’s numbers don’t exactly pop out at you, the lower-4 ERA and 8 wins at a 4 or 5 spot in your rotation are all you can ask for. The 33-year-old joined the Dodgers this year and he hasn’t disappointed up to this point. Haren doesn’t throw hard, maxing out around the 90 MPH mark, mixed with a cutter and a curve, but he has fantastic control. With a career 3.76 ERA, and 137 wins, Haren looks to make it as a back-end starter for his now 6th team and help them make a playoff run.

There are a few other teams which you could argue that have a better rotation, yes, but I think the way the Dodgers are looking right now, their starting 5 is the most intimidating.

Feel free to comment if you disagree.

Alex Gordon, a player that isn’t even starting at this year’s annual All-Star game, could be the American League MVP at the end of the season. Being one of the most underrated players in all of baseball, Alex Gordon doesn’t exactly get the attention that players such as Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera get on a regular basis. But you better believe that he is in the same class as both of those guys, and this year may end up being his best yet. I know what many of you reading this might think; how can a guy that is only hitting .263 with only nine home runs possibly beat out players such as Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Nelson Cruz, etc. for the right to claim the AL MVP award this season?

Before I answer that question, we first have to look at what the MVP award really means and stands for. We all tend to forget that the MVP award stands for most valuable player. Saying that the MVP award is reserved for the best hitter in each league is an asinine statement, but unfortunately many baseball fans believe just that. The supporters of Miguel Cabrera have certainly been the prime example over the last two seasons, as they have ignored the difference that Mike Trout makes both defensively and on the basepaths. Thankfully, there are a good amount of fans across baseball that look a little deeper and realize that there is more to baseball than just the ability to swing the bat. After all, players such as Jackie Bradley Jr., Zack Cozart, and Brendan Ryan are in the MLB for a reason, and it sure isn’t because of the way they swing the bat.

Now, for all baseball fans out there that are brave enough to look a little deeper, it can be seen that Alex Gordon has been one of the best players in the MLB over the course of this season. His 15.2 range runs above average and 19 defensive runs saved rank as the 2nd best in all of baseball this season. Gordon is in the same class as the most elite defenders, and heads above any other outfielder in the American League. His effort on defense is unmatched as he is seemingly fearless at all times. A play from him last season that proves this fearlessness happened on August 18th, when Gordon crashed into the wall at full speed while making, what turned out to be, a web gem worthy catch. Kansas City Royals’ pitchers love this guy, and it’s plays like these that make him stand out above the rest.

At this point in the season, Gordon is the clear favorite for a Gold Glove award and potentially even the Platinum Glove award, but that doesn’t necessarily help his MVP case very much if his offensive output doesn’t improve at some point. Gordon is currently slashing .263/.346/.422 with nine home runs, and while these may be very solid numbers, they are not sufficient for an MVP candidate. Over the course of baseball history, there has been only 30 players who have batted under .300 during their MVP seasons. On top of that, the last American League player to win the MVP award while batting under .300 was Don Bayler, 35 years ago, in 1979. An easy way for Gordon to improve his triple slash-line would be for him to increase his BABIP. Gordon appears to be having a bit of trouble this season as we can see with his below average .298 BABIP (career average .319 BABIP). If Gordon can elevate his offensive game by getting his current line drive percentage (14.4 LD%) up around the league average (20 LD%) and lowering his current fly ball percentage (40.9%) to below the league average (36%), we will see a noticeable difference in Gordon’s BABIP in the second half of the season. And with this difference, there will also be gradual increase in Gordon’s batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage if he can maintain his current strikeout and home run rates.

Saying Alex Gordon will win the AL MVP award is probably a bold prediction as long as Mike Trout is still in the American League, but overtaking the two-time runner-up MVP can most certainly be done. Gordon’s 4.4 WAR currently ranks as the second best in the American League behind only Trout (5.5 WAR). With Gordon having the obvious advantage defensively, the MVP race will largely depend on the 30-year-old, left fielder’s ability to build on a hot July (.855 OPS), and become a consistent threat at the plate and on the base paths in the second half of the season.