MLBits: Martinez and Archer Coming Back, Fake Injuries, Giants Trade Candidates, Jackson, La Tortuga, More

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MLBits: Martinez and Archer Coming Back, Fake Injuries, Giants Trade Candidates, Jackson, La Tortuga, More

Chicago Cubs

It’s amazing how much better life is when the Cubs are winning. Cold weather doesn’t bug me. My wedding hangover is hardly a concern. Food taste better. Music sounds better. Some woodland creatures helped me get dressed this morning like Snow White.

It’s just been a good weekend. But the Cubs aren’t just winning and they aren’t just beating good teams along the way, as Brett pointed out earlier. They ALSO just took 5 of 6 from the Brewers and Cardinals from one weekend to the next. That just makes it all so much sweeter. I’m walking on sunshine.

  • Moving onto the rest of the league … Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez (shoulder), who has yet to throw a pitch in the big leagues this year, is progressing:

  • But even if he does make his way back to the Majors sooner than later, he’s going to pitch out of the bullpen, where he can help out, but obviously not as much as he can when he’s a starter. With just a combined 1.0 fWAR, the Cardinals’ starting staff has been the fourth worst in MLB and second worst in the National League. Then again, their bullpen just narrowly escapes the bottom five in that category, as well (-0.1 WAR, 25th in MLB), so they can really use the help anywhere they can get it.
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

  • 35-year-old Edwin Jackson has been in the big leagues for 16 seasons and has managed to play on 14(!) different teams, including, as we all remember, the Chicago Cubs. You can read all about his journey right here. And here’s the thing: Although bouncing around that much might seem to reflect a poor career, it actually says quite a lot of good about who he is as a person and teammate. It’s not easy to get 14 different big league clubs to give you a shot, especially with how brutal some of his seasons have been, so he must be doing something right behind the scenes. And as long as he keeps doing it in the American League, I’m rooting for him all the way.
  • Well here’s something you don’t see everyday – a player ADMITTING to doing a “fake injury” for roster-related reasons:

  • Giants President Farhan Zaidi disputed that fact recently and Manager Bruce Bochy said he wished Holland expressed his frustration somewhere not public, but I’m with Holland. Who wants to be asked to fake an injury? That stinks. For what it’s worth, Holland and Zaidi seemed to have just disagreed over the extent of a finger issue that dated back to Spring Training. Per Zaidi: “He felt he could continue pitching. We felt it would be prudent to give him the time off.” Later on, Holland walked back his comments a little … you know, after talking to the front office.
  • At 17-23, the once mighty San Francisco Giants are in last place of the NL West and already 8.5 games out of first place – the second biggest deficit for any team in the National League. And indeed, the who can we trade for prospects narrative has already begun, with names like Will Smith, Tony Watson, Sam Dyson, Mark Melancon, Brandon Belt, Evan Longoria, Brandon Crawford, and, yes, even Madison Bumgarner all considered available.
  • Let’s put the relievers aside for a second and focus on Bumgarner, who has the Cubs on his limited, eight-team no-trade list, but not because he doesn’t want to come to Chicago:

  • It’s fairly common for players with limited no-trade clauses to put contenders on their lists, because those are the teams most likely to make a play for him. And if/when they do, that player can then wield some leverage to get an extension or option picked up (or something along those lines). With that said, absent an injury (or two, really), I can’t see the Cubs come calling for Bumgarner, even as he’s been pretty good this season (3.88 ERA, 3.44 FIP through 9 starts with a 25.3% strikeout rate and 3.5% walk rate).
  • Aside from already having a full rotation (PLUS Mike Montgomery and Tyler Chatwood), Bumgarner is yet another veteran lefty. The Cubs rotation is loaded with left-handed pitchers (Jon Lester, Cole Hamels, Jose Quintana). Getting a fourth would be surprising. I guess it doesn’t matter if they’re all good, but I just don’t see it happening.
  • As for some of those relievers, well, there’s your angle. The Cubs obvious still have needs in the bullpen, even as the performances have improved, and the Giants do have a number of interesting names. Will Smith has been particularly good this season (2.87 ERA, 2.54 FIP) and has been connected to the Cubs in the past, and Dyson (3.05 ERA, 2.19 FIP), Watson (2.57 ERA, 3.61 FIP), and Melancon (2.93 ERA, 3.70 FIP) each have ERAs or FIPs below 3.00, as well. They’ll all come at varying asking prices, but you can expect the Giants to pursue young outfielders – if not top prospects, because obviously that’ll be their first ask. Let’s put a pin in this for now, but keep that in mind as the calendar flips to June and July and the Cubs continue on without Pedro Strop or Brandon Morrow.
  • Okay, he good:

  • With 3.5 fWAR, Bellinger has a 0.8 lead on the second-place player, Christian Yelich, and a full win on Mike Trout. Even Javy Baez (2.1 WAR), who’s tied for the 6th most WAR in baseball is not within shouting range.
  • Willians Astudillo (aka La Tortuga) has a 1.7% strikeout rate this season (LOL)  – that, after a 3.1% strikeout rate in nearly 100 PAs last year – and is beginning to shift the way scouts think about baseball:

  • Also, baseball is so freakin’ weird. This guy goes on the longest hitless streak in the history of baseball … and then just absolutely snaps:

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami