Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Keith Law Still High on Blake Swihart

Keith Law released his updated Top 50 Prospect List today. Blake Swihart still sits at #10 overall and is the highest Red Sox prospect listed.

Yoan Moncada, who signed after Law released his initial list, comes in at #16. 

The Red Sox don't appear willing to give up Swihart in a deal for Cole Hamels, especially now with the injury to Christian Vasquez.

Here is what Law had to say about Swihart:

The Red Sox won't give him up for Cole Hamels, and I don't think I would either. He's a super-athletic catcher with outstanding receiving and throwing skills, a good approach as a hitter and developing power. It's a potential All-Star set of tools and skills at a position that half of the clubs in baseball are trying to fill every winter.

The Red Sox have a total of four prospects in the Top 50. Here is Law's breakdown of the other three:

Yoan Moncada at #16

Moncada received a record $31 million bonus from the Red Sox, which doesn't reflect the 100 percent penalty the team paid for signing him or the draconian restrictions they'll face the next two years in the international amateur market. He's a massive kid for a 19-year-old, well filled out with power from both sides of the plate yet with enough athleticism to stay on the dirt in the short term, most likely at second base. I expect him to start out in A-ball and move up quickly if he shows he's too advanced for either low- or high-A.

Henry Owens at #21:

I don't see how any GM could get a call from the Red Sox without asking for Owens in any major deal, as Owens continues to rack up strikeouts as he moves up the ladder, reaching Triple-A last year at age 21. He was wild and ineffective in his spring training stint this year, but given his track record in real games, I don't think anyone should be concerned about him throwing strikes.

Eduardo Rodriguez at #29:

Rodriguez faced 29 batters this spring, punching out nine and walking none. The last stat is the only one here I think has much if any significance in the tiny spring training sample, especially because Rodriguez's deficiencies as a prospect were areas such as command and feel for pitching. He has two plus pitches, with the breaking ball gradually improving. Getting him for two months of Andrew Miller looks like a genius move by Red Sox GM Ben Cherington.

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Replacing Babe Ruth

Didi Gregorius has the tough task of replacing the legend of Derek Jeter. I poked fun the other day at Jeter and the praise his successor is already getting from Yankee teammates. While Didi is a significant upgrade over Derek defensively and will make the Yankees a better team, the Yankees do take a hit without the face of their franchise no longer in pinstripes.

George Selkirk faced a similar task in 1935 as he was called on to replace Babe Ruth. Selkirk grew up in my hometown of Rochester, NY and even played for my hometown minor league team, the Rochester Red Wings. Scott Pitoniak has a great piece on Selkirk in the Rochester Business Journal. My favorite part of his piece was the confidence Selkirk showed:

Not lacking for confidence, Selkirk told McCarthy: “If I am going to take his place, I’ll take his number, too.” So, Ruth’s hallowed No. 3, now retired, was placed on Selkirk’s back that season, like a bull’s-eye for all the world to see.

Can you imagine Didi demanding to wear #2? It is a great piece done by a great writer that I grew up reading as a kid. Check it out here.

George Selkirk is alive and well thanks to Out of the Park Baseball and my alternate history Major League Baseball league that starts in 1939. You can check out what is going on in that league here. Here is a picture of Selkirk's player page. Notice the #3

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Forgetting Derek Jeter

I joked this would happen when the Yankees traded for Didi Gregorius. My joke has become a reality but even faster than I thought and not from Yankee fans but from actual Yankee players. In this piece by Ken Rosenthal, Yankee players gush over the defense by their new shortstop. It is almost like they haven't seen a shortstop with range in their lifetime....anyway...let's take a look at some of these quotes, most notably the ones from Alex Rodriguez

AROD seems to go out of his way to praise the defense of Didi. A well-played passive aggressive move by AROD. I defend AROD in this case especially since out of pure pettiness Jeter made AROD's life as a Yankee much harder than it had to be. This started in 2004 when a below average defensive SS in Jeter refused to change positions in favor of AROD who was the best defensive SS in the game.

“Didi is unbelievable, as good a shortstop as I’ve seen,” first baseman Mark Teixeira said. “And I’m not overexaggerating.”

“He has a rare combination of speed and explosiveness. But what you don’t see is an incredibly strong arm that is so accurate. That combination is lethal,” Rodriguez said.

“What you see in a lot of young players are 6 or 7 arms, but then their accuracy is 3 or 4. Which is normal, par for the course. As they get older, they go from a 7-1/2 arm to about a 5-1/2 or 6-1/2 and their accuracy goes to about 6. But when you have that combination at 25 years old of crazy range, 7-plus arm, 7-plus accuracy ... even Ozzie [Smith], he had 7 accuracy but he didn’t have 7 arm strength"- Alex Rodriguez

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