As mentioned in the Bullets, the first Ask Away piece will be posted this Friday, so keep sending in questions to askaway at bleachernation dot com. I’m not going to be able to respond to each question personally via email, but I’ll get to the best ones every week. More will be explained in the first article this Friday. Stay tuned.
Until then, here’s some news from around the league…
- In a series of tweets, Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon expressed surprise by the recent signing of Gerardo Parra. Parra, himself an outfielder, joins a team that already features three starting calibre outfielders in Carlos Gonzalez, Corey Dickerson, and Blackmon. So, something’s gotta give, and Bill Baer of NBC Sports believes that the Rockies are indeed shopping all of three remaining outfielders (hinted at today by both Ken Rosenthal and Marc Topkin, though Dickerson caught most of the attention). Blackmon shook it off by nailing a half-court shot backwards at a Nuggets game.
- From our interest in Dexter Fowler’s free agency, we know that teams like the Cardinals, Angels and White Sox might be among the most interested parties (Baer also mentions the Orioles and Tigers). The Rockies will look to make a move before Spring; however, we know how difficult trades are at this time of the year. Like the Cubs situation with Welington Castillo last year, no one expects the Rockies to break camp with all four outfielders, but that may well end up happening.
- The trade deadline in 2016 has been moved back one day, to August 1. The thinking was apparently to put it back on a week day, avoiding players being traded mid-game on TV (remember Wilmer Flores?), and generally not conflicting with a full slate of games on Sunday. But David Schoenfield (ESPN) proposes an even further, deliberate push: Let’s move the trade deadline back two weeks to August 15 and eliminate the waiver trade deadline (August 31), altogether. His thoughts and reasoning can be found here. It’s an interesting idea.
- The MLB Pipeline Top 100 will be released this Friday. Until then, Jonathan Mayo has been releasing top 10 rankings by position, in anticipation. According to Mayo, the Cubs have the best catching prospect and third best second base prospect in all of MiLB. On Sunday, Mayo released the top ten first base prospects, with no Cubs on the list. Dan Vogelbach did, however, make an appearance as the 11th man, and remains on the prospecting radar. This will be yet another important season for Vogelbach, who figures to make an impact for the Cubs, in one way or another, sometime soon.
- An extremely interesting take from Jeff Sullivan at FanGraphs questions whether we’ve already seen the beginning of the end for pitch framing. What was previously a highly correlated year-to-year skill, is slowly becoming less predictable and correlated at all. Umpires, it would appear, have used Pitchf/x data to call a better zone, leaving less opportunity for the catchers to flex their framing muscle. I suppose that’s a good thing for baseball. Getting the call right is the most important thing.
- For NBC Sports, Craig Calcaterra provides his personal take on the newly-expected security measures handed down from MLB. If you recall, each and every ball park will now have metal detectors at the entrances, and are considering a number of other precautions, as well. Even if you don’t necessarily agree with Calcaterra’s take on the the new changes, it is a good, balanced response to what might ultimately be an over-abundance of caution.
- Mike Petriello comes in for an excellent look at how insanely good Kevin Kiermaier (Rays) is in center field. There are too many interesting graphs and facts int here to share just one, so go ahead and give the article a read to see just how awesome he has been on defense in his short career.
- Dave Cameron (FanGraphs) openly questions whether or not MLB has a tanking problem and it’s another, great read. Personally, I don’t agree 1.) that MLB has a tanking problem or 2.) that tanking is even inherently bad. The goal of tanking isn’t to do it forever, otherwise … what would be the point? At some point, the Astros and the Cubs of 2012 become the Astros and the Cubs of 2015, and eventually, other teams will take their place.
- If every team was tanking – or, let’s say enough teams that it’s an actual problem – the issue will auto correct. “Tanking” as a strategy will be more difficult and inherently less valuable. I could be coming at this from the wrong angle, but I dislike the displeasure with any one team’s strategy. If the Cubs want to be bad for 3-4 years so they can be set up much better for the 6-10 years after, why shouldn’t it be their decision? There are certainly draw backs and risks associated with tanking, but for some teams, it’s the only legitimate path.
- Per ESPN, MLB will be coordinating with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to investigate the PED allegations in the recent Al Jazeera report.
- Lastly, Jose Rosario, 20, of the Houston Astros MiLB system has passed away in a motorcycle accident. Our condolences go out to his family, friends and organization:
— Houston Astros (@astros) January 25, 2016