Major League Baseball Lockout Moments: Part Two 20 – 14

For the first time since 1994, Major League Baseball entered a lockout, and the baseball world skidded to a halt. There is no noteworthy news emanating from the league. Therefore it’s time to change course. Instead of poring over old ground, we will look at some of the best moments since baseball’s last lockout.

Due to baseball’s 162-game schedule, there are plenty of moments to choose from; narrowing it to 27 was incredibly tough. Baseball is America’s pastime, and it creates moments that stand the test of time. The world has changed unrecognizably in the last 27 years, yet through it all, the world’s most enduring, curious game traverses time to make us all pause and take a moment. It’s time to see what moments made our list.

Part two of our series features controversy, drama, and big hitters. Numbers 20 – 14 are on the clock!

Miss the previous articles? Check out a recap of them here:
https://atbnetwork.com/2021/12/20/major-league-baseball-lockout-moments-part-one-27-21/

Moment 20 – The Southsiders Go Slam Happy

Paul Konerko belted a go-ahead grand slam for the White Sox in the World Series.

2005 was a vintage year for the Southside of Chicago. The White Sox emerged as a relentless run-scoring powerhouse as they rode into the playoffs. Meanwhile, the “ChiSox” faithful had waited 88 years for a World Series title; their last win came in 1917, two years before the Black Sox scandal. It seemed like the baseball gods had sent the Sox to hell as penance for the fixing scandal that shook America.

All of that pent-up emotion bled into a cold October night in Chicago. Clubhouse leader Paul Konerko stood at the plate with the bases loaded, and one-half of Chicago was ready to explode. The Astros held a 4-2 lead at this point of the seventh inning. Konerko clubbed the bat’s head on a high changeup away, the ball sailed into the seats, and Chicago erupted. The Sox took a 2-0 nothing lead before they swept the Astros to win their first championship in 88 years.

Moment 19 – It Is ShoTime!

Shohei Ohtani starred on opening weekend.

Two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani might be the most talented player in baseball history. Ohtani arrived in late 2017 to little fanfare. There were glimpses before 2021, but Tommy John surgery and a COVID-shortened season impacted his availability. 2021 was going to be a prove-it year for Ohtani, and boy did he deliver.

On opening weekend, ESPN televised the Angels’ game against the White Sox as the year’s first Sunday Night Baseball game. Ohtani started as a pitcher and a batter, and it took him one inning to dazzle onlookers. Blazing speed on the mound saw Ohtani work a three-up, three-down inning before he crushed an elevated 97mph fastball. Watching a player dominate as a pitcher and then with the bat stunned and shocked everyone. Ohtani used it as the launching point to maybe the most remarkable season in MLB history. He won the AL MVP award as he shone as a pitcher, slugger, and base-runner.

Moment 18 – Lindor With A Swing and A Drive!

Francisco Lindor sends Cleveland into a frenzy.

The 2017 Cleveland Indians were the best team in all of baseball. After narrowly losing out in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, Cleveland came back with a vengeance in 2017. A 22-game win streak turbocharged them to the best record in the American League. Cleveland matched the Yankees in the ALDS, and many fans expected them to breeze past the Yanks.

New York made it difficult in Game 2, and they raced out into an 8-3 lead. Progressive Field fell flat before the Tribe rallied to load the bases. The Yankees had reliever Chad Green on the mound to close the innings with two outs already on the ledger. Homegrown star Francisco Lindor stepped up to bat, and one crack of the bat later, he sent Cleveland into ecstasy. And Matt Vasgersian!

Moment 17 – The Captain Goes Deep

David Wright blasts off in Queens.

David Wright is one of the greatest New York Mets players. The ‘Captain’ was the face of the franchise for over a decade. Sadly, the All-Star appearances, Gold Glove awards, and numerous platitudes were moot as the Mets never tasted success during Wright’s prime. That changed in 2015 when the Mets made the World Series. By this point, injuries had impacted Wright’s availability.

The grizzled veteran missed two-thirds of the regular season as the Mets enjoyed a superb campaign without their leader. New York dropped the opening two games of the series in Kansas City. They returned to Queens needing a win. After surrendering a run in the opening stanza, Wright stepped up into the box, and the tension was palpable. Wright got a fastball high in the zone and barreled it, demonstrating that he still had enough left for big moments. The Captain christened the first World Series game at Citi Field with a screaming home run that shook New York.

Moment 16 – Jeter Walk’s Off Into Retirement

Derek Jeter enjoys one final at-bat in the Bronx.

Derek Jeter is a unicorn; he’s one of few Yankees players respected and liked across all fanbases. His farewell season in 2014 was a whistle-stop tour of goodbyes, and the great shortstop saved one brilliant moment for his final at-bat at Yankee Stadium. Jeter was the gutsiest, toughest hitter in a Yankee lineup that enjoyed significant success. He fought hard at the plate in typical Jeter fashion and manufactured a clutch base-hit to seal a Yankee win. Jeter ended his fairytale story with the perfect last chapter.

Moment 15 – David Bote Pinch Hit Walk Off Slam

David Bote broke Washington’s hearts with this walk-off winner.

Baseball is a fickle game. A team can dominate for 90% of the game and still lose. Such an occasion happened on a summer night in Wrigleyville. Nationals starter Max Scherzer dominated as the Cubs couldn’t scratch a run across. His batters spotted him a 3-0 lead, and it was up to the bullpen to finish the job. Scherzer hurled over 100 pitches, but Ryan Madson threw 21 and ruined everything. A walk and two stray pitches that hit batters loaded the bases for pinch-hitting infielder David Bote. One sweet strike later, Bote had won the game for Chicago and ruined Washington’s night.

Moment 14 – Fernando Anounces Himself

Fernando Tatis Jr silences the world

Fernando Tatis, Jr. is the coolest athlete in all of America. The transcendent Padres shortstop is an electrifying, magnetizing talent whose carefree attitude, raw talent, and disdain for the staid old baseball rules make him an icon for new fans. Tatis had already got himself in trouble during the 2020 season after he celebrated a grand slam against the Rangers in a blow-out.

The baseball stiffs didn’t like it, and they admonished the youngster. Tatis didn’t care, and he took it up a notch during a playoff game against the St. Louis Cardinals. The game was close as the Cards rallied to pressurize the Padres. Tatis then announced himself as the new face of baseball by tattooing a ball into the opposite field, staring down the dugout, and flipping his bat with swagger. This moment was so significant, it’s plastered all over the latest MLB video game. Baseball has found its latest star in Tatis.

Major League Baseball Lockout Moments: Part One 27 – 21

For the first time since 1994, Major League Baseball entered a lockout, and the baseball world skidded to a halt. There is no noteworthy news emanating from the league. Therefore it’s time to change course. Instead of poring over old ground, we will look at some of the best moments since baseball’s last lockout.

Due to baseball’s 162-game schedule, there are plenty of moments to choose from; narrowing it down to just 27 was incredibly tough. Baseball is America’s pastime, and it creates moments that stand the test of time. The world has changed unrecognizably in the last 27 years, yet through it all, the world’s most enduring, curious game traverses time to make us all pause and take a moment. It’s time to see what moments made our list.

Moment 27: Barry Bonds Is The Home Run King

Barry Bonds breaks the home run record.

Barry Bonds’ irreversible links with steroids are why this moment is at the bottom of our list. Nonetheless, it was an epic moment, enhanced by the call from local Bay Area commentator Duane Kuipers. On a cool summer’s night by the San Francisco Bay, Bonds swung his way into baseball immortality and controversy. Questions will always remain a part of Bonds’ legacy, and some fans and pundits will maintain that Hank Aaron is still the king. However, for one night, Bonds rocked the baseball world and the city of San Francisco.

Moment 26 – The Long Gone Summer of ’98

Mark McGwire breaks the single-season home run record.

Many fans held a deep mistrust of baseball after the locked-out 1994 season. Baseball was still working its way back into people’s minds before it erupted to the forefront in 1998. The steroid-fueled, testosterone-charged home run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa dominated the sports scene as the duo went shot for shot in the “Summer of Love”. McGwire did break the single-season record, although controversy would rear its head as the federal government investigated both for the use of performance-enhancing drugs. While the questions and doubts linger to this day, baseball ruled the world for one summer, and it was courtesy of these two sluggers.

Moment 25 – The Pirates Rattle Johnny Cueto

The Pirates fans rattle Johnny Cueto in the 2013 postseason.

Many members of the baseball cognoscenti look upon the Pittsburgh Pirates as a joke. The Pirates routinely finish bottom of the NL Central and play their games in front of near-empty stadiums. That is not befitting a team that plays in a city that sports the Roberto Clemente Bridge. However, the 2013 season saw the Pittsburgh Pirates buck the trend as they sailed into the playoffs after posting a 94-win season.

That set them up on a collision course with the NL’s other wildcard team: their divisional rivals, the Cincinnati Reds. Pirates fans packed the picturesque PNC Park stadium to the rafters, and the home faithful got after Reds starter Johnny Cueto. They heckled and jeered Cueto, and when clubhouse leader Russell Martin stepped up, the noise grew. Cueto looked nervous, and on the fourth pitch of the at-bat, he grooved an off-speed pitch into the middle of the zone. Martin squared up and clubbed it into the stands. It set Pittsburgh on course for a 6-2 win. The banks of the Allegheny River haven’t shaken like that in a long time.

Moment 24 – Justin Verlander Triples Up

Justin Verlander notched his third career no-hitter in 2019

Lightning doesn’t strike twice, they say. The people that proclaim this are correct; this phenomenon is a random piece of luck. Therefore in 2019, lightning didn’t strike thrice when Justin Verlander twirled his way into history. The veteran pitcher no-hit the Blue Jays, posting his third career no-hitter (the only active player to have such). Only two pitchers boast more than the former Tiger. Despite Verlander’s veteran status and whispers about his arm, he blew away the Jays in a dazzling display of velocity and command. The performance also helped Verlander win the 2019 Cy Young Award.

Moment 23 – Albert Hit’s 3,000

Albert Pujols joins the 3,000 hit club

Some of the members that vote for the Hall of Fame are arguably clueless. The continued controversy highlights that every year. However, there will be no drama when Albert Pujols is on the shortlist. Pujols is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He is one of three players to hit 600 home runs and have 3,000 base hits. Pujols strangely broke the record as an Angel, rather than for his beloved Cardinals. The Anaheim version of Pujols is clearly a diminished power. However, the baseball world stood up and applauded Pujols for a legendary moment.

Moment 22 – Bryce Blasts a Walk Off Homer

Bryce Harper walks it off against the Cubs

When the Philadelphia Phillies made Bryce Harper a $300 million man, Philly natives expected big things. The mercurial left-hander inked a mammoth 13-year deal in the early part of 2019. Expectations immediately rose in Philadelphia as the best striker of a ball in baseball joined the team. The season ultimately disappointed as the Phillies missed out on a playoff spot, but Bryce Harper did underline his season with one dramatic swing. In the ninth inning, the Phillies were down 5-3, although they had loaded the bases. The Cubs attempted to play the matchup game and had a left-hander on the mound to try and cramp Harper. Instead, the former Home Run Derby winner extended his arms and crushed a ball into the second deck. In one moment, Harper confirmed that he was the franchise player in Philadelphia.

Moment 21 – The Freak Sets San Francisco Ablaze

Tim Lincecum dominated his first playoff outing in 2010

It was hard to fathom that the San Francisco Giants hadn’t won a championship between 1954 and 2009. The Giants made up for that by winning three titles in five years. The first one in 2010 got kickstarted by quite possibly the unique pitcher of the modern era. Tim Lincecum weaved a wicked spell of pitching in game one of the NLDS against the Atlanta Braves. The Freak struck out 15 batters and pitched a shut-out as the Giants started their playoff campaign in style. Lincecum’s wild action allied with speed and movement caused nightmares for the Braves batters. Lincecum dominated, and he set the tone for the Giants in 2010. Baseball’s ugly duckling is often forgotten; however, the Giants won’t forget the gem he pitched to start their march to glory.

2021-22 Detroit Tigers Offseason

Detroit Tigers Off-season
Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

Let’s take a look at the Detroit Tigers offseason. This offseason could be a huge one for the Tigers who have a core in place now with Greene, Torkelson, Mize, Skubal and Manning. They have some other interesting players and some solid veterans as well. They seem to be a step away from a winning season after taking a huge step in the right direction. After embracing a more analytical thinking along with a culture change under AJ Hinch and Chris Fetter. Here’s how I’d navigate their off-season if I were GM.

Free Agents

RHP Jose Urena

RHP Julio Teheran

LHP Derek Holland

RHP Erasmo Ramirez

RHP Wily Peralta

The Tigers are losing a bunch of veteran pitchers, which will be a position of need. None of these pitchers are good though. Yes Wily Peralta had a solid 2021, but his career has been inconsistent. There is a lot of better options out there. Urena and Holland supply some innings but overall are below average pitchers. And at this point in their careers without much room to go up. Teheran was a complete bust due to injury and only started one game for the Tigers. He was an All-Star once but he doesn’t have much going for him. His sinker as his only serviceable pitch at this point in his career. Ramirez was a roster filler and could be brought back on a minor league depth deal.

Trades/ Signings

Acquire OF Kevin Kiermaier from Tampa Bay Rays for 3B Isaac Paredes, OF Jake Robson

When you look at the Tigers, one thing they lacked big time last season was defense. In fact by many measures they were dead last. This includes defensive runs on FanGraphs which pegged the Tigers at over negative 60 runs. That is slightly more than 6 wins that the defense cost them. With a young pitching staff this should be a huge priority for the Tigers this off-season.

The Rays are looking to shed salary and Keirmaier is generational defensive outfielder that can mainly play center field. He can also play the corners with his great arm. He fits the park very well too as he has led the league in triples before and Comerica Park is the top park to hit triples in baseball. The Tigers wouldn’t have to give up a top prospect due to his $12 million salary. Paredes was at one point a borderline top 100 propsect and has shown good plate skills and done impressive things in the minors.

Paredes just doesn’t fit in the Tigers plans at this point it seems as Schoop will slide to second, Kreidler has seemingly passed him in favorability and Candelario was one of the best Tigers in 2020-21. He has an issue with bat speed and also has an inconsistent swing path which led to him having a very low average exit velocity, but he has power and plate discipline if he can do some bat speed training and work out the smaller intricacies in his swing and quiet down his hands.

Paredes would be a solid get for the Rays who could use him at third base with Joey Wendle as a trade candidate. Robson is a major league ready lefty that could step in and fill Kiermaier’s spot on the roster. He has good bat skills as well, with a more small ball and classic lead-off hitter approach. As he gets on base and he can flat out hit. I think for the salary relief the Rays would make a deal like this. The Tigers would improve their outfield defense overnight.

Acquire IF Euribiel Angeles, RHP Moises Lugo from the Padres for RHP Michael Fulmer

I was on the fence about what to do with Fulmer. He was brilliant in a relief role and he’s not going to be overly expensive for a setup man. If the Tigers go out and get defense and spend on a pitcher and position player in free agency though they will probably shed some payroll and Fulmer doesn’t fit into their long term plans. They also have a lot of relievers they could try out to see who sticks like Jason Foley, Angel DeJesus and Alex Lange among others and AJ Hinch already said Gregory Soto will be the closer in 2021 and Jose Cisnero and Kyle Funkhouser will be solid setup men.

This makes Fulmer expendable and I think he could bring back some prospects with decent potential as well as the Tigers still want to stay somewhat young. The Padres bullpen wasn’t really a strength despite their depth and Mark Melancon could leave in free agency. I see this as a solid fit as Fulmer has shown he can pitch high leverage and he also can go multiple innings if needed and has that starter background.  Angeles I got to see play with Fort Wayne and his bat looks legitimate along with the impressive reports on him with the bat.

Angeles’s stock is rising and eventually I could see him at second or third. The fact he reached high A at such a young age is promising too. Lugo could end up as a starter or reliever. He dominated in single A and had a good showing in a few AA games. He gets a lot of swings and misses with a high effort delivery that plays up his fastball. His fastball and slider combo helped him keep over a 30% CSW with Fort Wayne. He is a project a bit with his command needing refinement and a side effect of that may be fixing up his delivery but he’s the type of young arm the organization wants.

Non-Tender Drew Hutchison, Niko Goodrum and Ian Krol

The two pitchers were more placeholders last year. Krol has always had an electric arm but he’s never been able to command it for a whole year and while he did a solid job last year, I don’t trust him in 2022. Hutchison picked up some much needed innings but didn’t look good while doing so and there’s no reason to use a 40 man roster spot on him.

Goodrum is tougher one as he plays everywhere and has been a mainstay of the rebuild, producing some really productive seasons as a utilityman. It’s gotten to the point though where he just isn’t one of the 26 best players you could break with and not worth the salary as it was pretty hard to find a positive in his game last year and he battled constant injury issues. His hitting ability has declined really badly the past two seasons and there isn’t enough for me to think he will be above average in any aspect.

I also think Kody Clemens in AAA could fill his role with a much higher ceiling and roughly the same baseline expectation. I would also possibly try and sneak Grayson Greiner through waivers to open the 40 man roster spot and be able to keep him as depth. Garneau will likely serve as a third catcher and compete for a backup role in camp, which is fine because every team will carry 3-4 catchers on the 40 man.

Note: This payroll and Keirmaier’s acquisition payroll would roughly offset, I think the Tigers could add $50-60 AAV in free agency putting them just under $150 million, slightly above league average, don’t forget Miggy’s contract is up soon though…

Sign SS Carlos Correa to a 10-year, $350 million dollar deal

Correa being a free agent is like when A-Rod was in 2001. A potentially franchise altering deal and what the Tigers have keep their payroll over 60 million dollars below average for. It’s always harder to write these blips because who wouldn’t want one of the best shortstops in the game, he’s obviously really good and hits the ball hard. Let’s examine a few things though.

I don’t think this deal would handcuff the Tigers as Miguel Cabrera’s contract will come off the books soon and Correa will be signed through his age 36 season, to put this in perspective Miguel Cabrera’s last super productive season was at age 33, so you’d be paying for 7 great seasons and 1-2 so-so and only 1-2 bad seasons, he could still even be a league average hitter at age 36, Albert Pujols was.

Correa is a shortstop though and could easily age better as he should be able to eventually make the slide to third base, something he looked pretty good doing for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic a few years ago. I firmly believe he will hit through that age. There’s also the injury concern but half of his injuries were contact play (hit-by-pitch, collision) type injuries so he really isn’t as injury prone as some make him out to be. He’s the safest of all the free agents because of his age and frankly the fact he has the highest ceiling. He can hit for power and has post-season experience as a leader of a team that made 5 straight CS’s.

If the Tigers don’t get him then Seager and Story wouldn’t be disappointing by any stretch and they are All-Stars as well, but Correa should be the main target and reuniting him with Hinch to become the clubhouse leader and core piece of the next playoff team in Detroit should be the goal. He’d fit right into the middle of the line-up and he may have his best years in Detroit, he’s just one of the best hitters, his power and everything will play anywhere. Correa also was always a slightly above average defender but he saved 20 runs and won the Fielding Bible Award this year, so he’d be another step in fixing the defense for the club. This would be right around the Lindor deal, slightly topping it and likely worth every penny. He’d make an instant impact.

Sign SP Justin Verlander to a 2-year, $30 million dollar deal

The Tigers could still afford one more mid-range deal. Verlander is coming off Tommy John Surgery and is almost 40, so this deal would be a win-win for both sides. This is also more than Corey Kluber got coming to the Yankees last year, so I think the AAV is fair. Verlander wouldn’t need to be an ace and could just provide a solid arm who will rack up 180-200 good innings and be a great mentor to the young pitching staff as well. He still looked to have it before his TJ and though there is some risk here ultimately you are bringing back a future Hall of Fame pitcher. There are some other veteran arms to look at if they don’t get Verlander. Eduardo Rodriguez who could fit in at Comerica, Steven Matz or Anthony DesClefani.

Sign C Manny Pina to a 1 year, $5 million dollar deal

Pina? 5 million? He has power but he’s 35 and has never been considered good, what gives? Without Jake Rogers and with Dillon Dingler at least a year away the Tigers will need a stopgap. Dustin Garneau will only go so far despite his impressive performance in 2021.  Pina is a great pitch framer, can handle a good, young pitching staff and has a really good arm. There’s a good platoon catcher when you need one and the Tigers should be all over him to split time with Haase this year.

Sign SP Mike Foltynewicz to a 1 year, $3 million incentive laden deal

This is mainly due to the fact the Tigers lost Spencer Turnbull and Matthew Boyd to surgeries for at least a decent chunk of 2022. With Alex Faedo and Joey Wentz needing more time before they debut due to their own TJ surgeries. Foltynewicz would be a solid innings eater and reclamation project attempt for Chris Fetter.

Foltynewicz has a really good slider and not much spin on his fastball, suggesting maybe he should try a sinker-slider combo with his changeup as an out pitch, a pitch that seems to tunnel off his fastball/sinker. He probably needs to throw the 4 seamer sparingly and ditch the curveball but Fetter knows best. Foltynewicz also has the highest ceiling of any innings eater type guy on the market that won’t be overly expensive. He seems to have solid command, limiting his walks but he’s leaving too many pitches in the happy zone, and that will be the biggest fix. He has been there before though as a former All-Star.

If I were to target a reliever, Corey Knebel seems like the best investment. He’s been mostly solid and a strikeout machine in his career. In wouldn’t invest too much in relievers though as it can pay off but is more often pretty risky with relievers being somewhat more unpredictable from year to year.

Note: This is roughly $58 million in added payroll

Line-Up after mid-April

  1. RF Robbie Grossman
  2. CF Riley Greene
  3. SS Carlos Correa
  4. 2B Jonathan Schoop
  5. 3B Jeimer Canderlario
  6. 1B Spencer Torkelson
  7. DH Miguel Cabrera
  8. C Eric Haase
  9. LF Akil Baddoo

OF Kevin Keirmaier

C Manny Pina

OF Derek Hill

IF Kody Clemens

SP Justin Verlander

Casey Mize

Tarik Skubal

Matt Manning

Mike Foltynewicz

CL Greogry Soto

SU Jose Cisnero

SU Kyle Funkhouser

MR Alex Lange

Jason Foley

Joe Jimenez

Rony Garcia

LR Tyler Alexander

Start in big leagues until mid-April: OF Victor Reyes, UT Harold Castro

Next Up: SS Willi Castro, C Dustin Garneau, UT Zack Short, OF Daz Cameron, P Paul Richan, P Logan Shore, P Drew Carlton, P Angel DeJesus, P Joe Navilhon

IL: C Jake Rogers, SP Spencer Turnbull, SP Matthew Boyd

Overall

The bullpen after the main 4 guys has some questions. But guys in the system pipeline will have to come up and fight for spots and earn them. Similar to what Funkhouser did in 2022. The Tigers should also look into stockpiling high upside arms on a minor league deals. As those usually have the best hit rate for guys who sign those kinds of deals. There’s still some holes and they may be a year or so away. This will put the Tigers in a good position to compete.

Also the defense is looking better and the line-up as well. They will need a few more prospects to hit. Eventually we will see Dingler, Faedo, Wentz, Kreidler and some high octane relief arms. Also, this will be a big season for Daz Cameron and his future with the club. It be impressing in Toledo or Detroit with the chances he gets. I think this team best case could challenge the White Sox and worst case would be around .500.

Yankees Wild Card game preview

Yankees Wild Card Preview

This is what we have all been waiting for. Postseason baseball: Yankees and Sox. This is the type of stuff that makes legends. Let’s get into it with a Yankees wild card game preview:

Yankees Wild Card Preview:

The Yankees have their ace on the mound. Today is the type of game you pay Gerrit Cole for. Cole has a 4.35 ERA in his last 7 games, which isn’t what we are used to with Cole. However, in his playoff career Cole has a 2.68 ERA. That is the number the Yankees want tonight.

On the other side, The Yankees take on Nathan Eovaldi — who they have notoriously struggled against — touting a .250 batting avg. against him. However, Anthony Rizzo has owned Eovaldi during his career batting at a .556 avg. Judge has also had success vs Eovaldi batting at a .400 mark with a 1.079 OPS.

Batting-wise, look for a big game from Giancarlo Stanton. Red hot at Fenway, Stanton had 10 RBIs and 3 HR in the last series there. Higgy will likely catch, Gary Sanchez may DH as Cole is pitching. Gleyber Torres will likely be leadoff per Aaron Boone filling in for the injured DJ Lemahieu. Expect Stanton, Joey Gallo, and Aaron Judge in the outfield. 

Narratives to Watch:

Cole isn’t Clutch:

Cole has struggled down the stretch when the Yankees have needed him most. People have begun saying Cole isn’t clutch because of this. I believe he will prove them all wrong tonight. 

Gardy and Gary’s last games as Yankees?

With Brett Gardner aging and Sanchez struggling, their time as Yankees is seemingly coming to an end. Gardy is not going to go out to the Red Sox in his final game. Look for big games from them, if either end up playing.

Judge is Bad in the Postseason:

After a rough postseason, people have forgotten how good a playoff Judge can be. Look for Judge to put the team on his back. Judge has 8 go-ahead hits in the 8th inning or later this year, tying a Yankee record. The most important of which was the walk-off Sunday vs the Rays. Hopefully, he can carry that momentum over to the Wild Card. 

Last Word:

THIS IS IT Y’ALL. The 2021 Yankees have been a roller-coaster. From triple plays to no-hitters, and even locker room turtles. This team has had it all! They have been easy to love but hard to watch. That will be true tonight, too. The season is on the line tonight. Beat Boston.

Don’t Be So Quick To Trade Spencer Turnbull

Spencer Turnbull threw a no-hitter this week which was the most exciting Tigers moment since likely 2016. Naturally the Tigers are still rebuilding and stuck in the team stinks version of the rebuild so attention turned to Turnbull being their best piece to trade in July. The Tigers previously failed to trade Matthew Boyd and Michael Fulmer when they had interest and a conclusion I saw from some of the fanbase and writers was that Turnbull needs to be traded for a nice haul of prospects. This makes sense in theory but when broken down this starts to fall apart. With Fulmer his value was never higher after winning a Rookie of the Year and being an All-Star and with Boyd it became a matter of team control versus what you can get for one less year of a pitcher. Turnbull is a different pitcher.

First things first, Turnbull has been unlucky. Of course when it comes to his 3-17 season he was probably one of the best pitchers on a really bad team that only got him 2.6 runs of support per game. His FIP in his career is 3.64, his WHIP is under 1 so far this year and his xFIP and SIERA have been improving as he refines his command into a pitcher who doesn’t rely on the strikeout and can limit contact and baserunners well. He’s done a great job keeping his fastball elevated and hitting the corners with his off-speed pitches without too many misses, a recipe for success no matter what era of baseball you’ve pitched in. Turnbull is now 28 and has shown improvements and could reach his stride in his early 30’s. Yes, it has only been 6 starts this season but he is looking like a better version of himself, something he had done every season up until the pandemic. It’s a bit different than any situation the Tigers have faced before.

One reason for keeping Turnbull is he doesn’t give up a ton of home runs and that fits the ballpark and if the Tigers can get a solid infield defense behind him, it would easily save him a few runs per season (a reason I think shortstop is such a huge need this off-season). He’s a ground ball pitcher and limits deep fly balls. Turnbull will never be an excellent ace and he will have good days and off days but at the end of the day you’re looking at an above average starter that could stick in the top third of starting pitchers in the MLB, which has value. Also, I believe in Manning, Skubal, and Mize and I still like Faedo and Wentz but as Tigers fans saw with Franklin Perez a pitching prospect can quickly fall from grace. Gary Huckabay, the man who founded Baseball Prospectus said “there’s no such thing as a pitching prospect” which isn’t 100% true but it speaks to the volatility of pitching prospects. Also, every team usually has a veteran in the rotation and that experience of a guy who has had to make tweaks or has experienced certain game situations can help a younger staff with wisdom and they can all play off of each other. So in trading Turnbull, you’re relying almost completely on the young prospects to all work out as you expect. Even with Turnbull has a 3 or 4 behind some of these guys when they get good has some value.

Another issue is the trade return. Al Avila hasn’t made a ton of great trades in his tenure in Detroit. He hasn’t really made a  great trade since acquiring Isaac Paredes and Jeimer Candelario for Justin Wilson and Alex Avila. Teams trade smarter now and if you look at recent similar trades the best prospects acquired back for quality big league starting are underwhelming to me. The Pirates got Hudson Head for Joe Musgrove, a top 150-ish prospect and some depth pieces who could work out. For Jameson Taillon the Pirates got a few solid prospects, but no top 100 prospect from the Yankees. The most promising seems to be Miguel Yajure, who could be a solid 3 or 4 if he reaches his full potential. That is essentially what a guy like Taillon, Musgrove or Turnbull are right now. These two factors interacting with each other make me think a possible return right now from a team needing to add a starter like the Cardinals would be something like Zack Thompson, Jhon Torres and a lower level prospect. Nothing that will speed up the rebuild faster. Also, think about the fact a guy like Max Scherzer could be available which will be a more attractive option if you are going for it this year than Turnbull, which lowers his value slightly more.

The thing is the rotation is actually a strength for the Tigers right now. Jose Urena has been an innings eater and dependable veteran to anchor down the rotation while Casey Mize is leaping in his development and Turnbull and Boyd have pitched like everyone thought they could and some of their peripherals suggest. Tarik Skubal is struggling a bit this year but his stuff can get super nasty and he could turn it around quick. The Tigers have won 88 games since the 2019 season started. They have lost 176. They don’t really have any strengths since then. They traded the best hitter they had in Nicholas Castellanos in 2019, they haven’t had many relievers who sustained a ton of success though Cisnero (a true trade candidate) and Soto have had their moments. Their starting pitching so far is the only thing that has developed and shown promise. No, Spencer Turnbull doesn’t make them a winning team and they will need to score runs for him so he doesn’t go 3-17 in a season where he was worth 2.9 fWAR but trading him does make them a worse team for the time being for the risk of possibly getting a solid hitting prospect maybe. It also takes away a large chunk of what has been a strength and positive part of the team that hasn’t had much go right in the last five seasons. I would try and build around that instead of building using returns from guys like Turnbull. The bottom line is if the Tigers don’t start signing some free agents to multi-year deals (Robbie Grossman wasn’t even a major deal and has worked out very well) then none of what I wrote will even matter, if they just depend of trading guys like Turnbull like they did in 2017 for prospects who have risks then likely they won’t become a good team because they will always have holes that sink anything good on the ship. Turnbull is one of the best players on the team right now and he won’t be a free agent in the near future so there’s no reason to trade him. Instead the Tigers should enjoy his development and what looks like a big step forward and let him get them those extra 3 wins a year while they build around solid veterans like him.