Because the Hot Stove has cooled off a bit (save for today’s flurry), there has been a slow roll out of interesting news around the baseball world that doesn’t revolve around transactions.
And that’s great because it provides ample reading material, which serves as a bridge between a heavy transaction period and a time where things actually happen on baseball diamonds …
- Projections aren’t predictions, but not only do the Los Angeles Dodgers project to be one of baseball’s best teams again in 2017, they are also projected to have more wins than the defending World Series champion Cubs. Over at MLB.com, Mike Petriello highlights areas where the Dodgers project to have an edge over the Cubs – and where the Cubs maintain an edge over the Dodgers. Overall, a slight edge goes to the Dodgers, mostly because of the strong projected advantage in the rotation. Anyone up for a 2016 NLCS rematch?
- The St. Louis Cardinals figure to be in the mix of contenders in 2017, even if some questioned whether they actually tried to close the 17.5-game gap between them and the Cubs. Bullpen improvement would help the Cardinals in that regard, so it’s noteworthy that right-handed reliever Seth Maness is a trailblazer for a new elbow repair surgery that could serve as an alternative to the Tommy John ligament replacement procedure. The Cardinals non-tendered Maness this winter, but he expects to be healthy and ready for Opening Day – which is about 7-1/2 months after his surgery. His recovery, return and future performance after surgery will be worth monitoring for on-lookers, even some players who might consider the alternative procedure in the future.
- While it is normal for the Hot Stove League to slow to a crawl in January, but it looks like we’re at a point where the market is overcorrecting – specifically for offense. Over at FanGraphs, Dave Cameron notes the downturn in spending on 1-WAR players and asks how offense-first players with limitations such as Brandon Moss and Pedro Alvarez can ask for more money on the open market when more well-rounded players, albeit with lesser offensive profiles, are taking less money? In the end, one man’s market overcorrection could be another man’s newfound value. How long it will last remains to be seen.
- On that note, the Athletics signed what could be a potential bargain in Trevor Plouffe. The former Minnesota Twins third baseman carries a league average bat (101 OPS+ since the start of 2012) and has a little bit of utility man in him having played second base, shortstop, first base and both corner outfield spots in addition to regular third base duty. If he excels in Oakland, he could find his way on a contender if Billy Beane decides to flip him when the time comes.
- President-elect Donald Trump met with baseball commissioner Rob Manfred in a meeting set up by New York Yankees President Randy Levine. In an email, Manfred told USA Today it was “a really nice meeting” where Trump detailed his history in the game and explained what a “great baseball fan” he was.
- I wonder if President-elect Trump weighed in on Mike Trout’s Hall of Fame worthiness. Because over at Baseball Is Fun, Michael lays out the argument for Trout being Hall of Fame-worthy at age 25. And if that’s not enough, he can add to his impressive resume starting on Feb. 18 when the Angels have their first full squad work out. Check out the full list here, where you can also follow Baseball Is Fun on Twitter:
It's here! Spring Training reporting and workout dates for all 30 teams! pic.twitter.com/Ner8Uxqbtn
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) January 10, 2017
- Every team has hope for the upcoming MLB season. Yes, that includes teams like the Reds, Braves, Padres, Athletics, Twins and Rays who finished in last place in their respective divisions. At MLB.com, Richard Justice lays out something for every team to hang its hat on heading into the season.
- Meanwhile, the introduction notwithstanding, there was a series of two trades today involving the Mariners, Braves, and Rays, which Brett discussed earlier here.