Wednesday, August 16, 2017

NHL news: Wild sign Cullen



         The Minnesota Wild have signed center Matt Cullen to a one year, $1 million deal. Also, there is a $700K performance bonus.

           Even though Cullen is 40 years old, he's still a solid bottom-6 center. The last two years, he helped the Pittsburgh Penguins win back-to-back Stanley Cups. He can help the Wild in 2017-18. He is a defensive center who puts up about 30 points a season. He's a cheap option there, and he has some playoff experience, and is a proven leader, so he can be a mentor to the younger guys on the team. Also, he played three seasons with the Wild from 2010-11 to 2012-13. He knows some of the team, so that's a good thing.

           In 72 games for the Penguins last year, Cullen scored 31 points (13 goals and 18 assists) and had a +/- of +4. In his 19 year NHL career for the Penguins, Wild, Nashville Predators, Ottawa Senators, Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers, Florida Panthers and Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (now Anaheim Ducks), Cullen has scored 248 goals and 441 assists for 689 points and a +/- of -29.

MLB news: Weaver hangs up the spikes



           After 12 major league seasons, RHP Jered Weaver has officially called it quits. He last played this year for the San Diego Padres, before going on the 60-day DL. In 2017, he had a 7.44 ERA, 1.49 WHIP and 23 strikeouts in 42.1 innings.

           In 2004, Weaver was drafted 12th overall by the Los Angeles Angels. After a couple minor league seasons, Weaver was called up to the Angels in 2006, when ace Bartolo Colon went to the DL. After that, Weaver was only sent to the minors once, which was when Colon returned. But his season ended up being very good, and he ended up fifth in the AL rookie of the year voting.

           The rest of his career, Weaver was an ace. He was a three time all-star from 2010-12, and finished top-5 in the Cy Young voting all three years. But, he started to decline in the 2015 season. After 2016, Weaver became a free agent. He signed a one year, $3 million deal with the Padres in 2017.

             Weaver, now 34, had a career ERA of 3.63, a WHIP of 1.19 and 1621 strikeouts in 2067.1 innings. Though his career K/9 was just 7.1, his career BB/9 was 2.4. He was never a strikeout pitcher.

My interview with baseball ballhawk and author Zack Hample

     You are watching your favorite team in action on TV. The team's slugger rips one to right field... It's a home run! While you are too busy celebrating the homer, baseball "ballhawk" Zack Hample is also celebrating, for a different reason. The reason? That home run ball is sitting in his glove, a place many home run balls land. Hample is a ballhawk who goes to MLB stadiums, looking to catch baseballs both in batting practice and during the game. Since 1990, Hample has been to 53 different MLB stadiums, snagging over 9,900 baseballs. Also, he's caught approximately 70 game home runs in that 27 year stretch. In 2017, Hample looks to reach a big milestone of 10,000 baseballs all-time. Also, he's caught 100 or more baseballs at many current MLB stadiums. Plus, he's caught many big-time milestone homers, like Mike Trout's first career home run, and Alex Rodriguez's 3,000th hit, which was a homer, before giving them back to the players. To help others catch baseballs, Hample wrote three books in "How to Snag Major League Baseballs", "Watching Baseball Smarter" and "The Baseball".

         At a recent Yankees-Mets game, I was able to catch up with Hample to talk about his life as a ballhawk.


         Me: "For most people, almost catching a home run ball and being on TV is an amazing experience. For you it's just another day at the office. Does that seem crazy to you?"

         Hample: "I guess if I step back and think about it, yeah. Probably most people could go years without even getting close to a home run. But for me, if I go a month without getting close to one, I start to get frustrated. I expect to be close to balls, and it was fun to be involved in that play (meaning an Austin Romine triple he would of caught if it was a home run). If I had reached over and interfered, I would really be involved, but that's not the kind of thing that I would do. Just to be close to the action is what I love about doing this."

         M: "Tonight you are seeing a Mets-Yankees game, yesterday a Red Sox-Yankees game. Do you just love seeing these rivalries coming together on the field?"

         H: "I do, but I don't. The baseball fan in me loves it, but the baseball collector in me wants to see the Twins and the Rays at Tropicana Field, because nobody will be there, and there's more space for me to move around and catch balls. I'm always conflicted like that. I want to go to the big games because they're exciting, but I personally catch far fewer baseballs."

         M: "For you, is it easier to catch a ball on the fly in BP (batting practice), or get a toss-up from the players?"

         H: "It's becoming a lot harder for me to get toss-ups, because there is so many kids out here doing this, and the players would always rather throw baseballs to younger people. It depends on the stadium. Some of them are configured very badly for catching home runs, so I will actually focus on toss-ups in those places, so it really just depends."

         M: "Which MLB ballpark is your favorite to ballhawk at?"

         H: "It was Camden Yards (the Orioles stadium) for a very long time, and I still love the look of that place, and how it's designed and the layout for ballhawking. But security has gotten awfully strict there in the last few years, so that makes it less fun, but I'm still looking forward to getting back there whenever I can."

         M: "Do you think that your skills as a kid are helping you now getting almost 10,000 baseballs?"

         H: "If you are talking about my skills just being athletics and playing baseball, then definitely. I see people come out here with gloves, and they think that they are in the right spot, and maybe they saw my videos, but they've never tried to catch a fly ball before, and they have no chance. So the fact that I've played baseball my whole life growing up certainly helps."

         M: "What's your favorite three balls that you still have possession of?"

         H: "Probably a Derek Jeter home run late in his career that was his 254th career home run and his 3262th hit. Another one is a Barry Bonds home run (724th). The third would be the last home run the Met's ever hit at Shea Stadium (Carlos Beltran).

         A big thanks goes out to Zack for doing this interview. Check out his blog, ZackHample.com, subscribe to his YouTube channel, Zack Hample and follow him on Twitter and Instagram @Zack_Hample.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

MLB news: Blue Jays sign Anderson



           The Toronto Blue Jays have signed LHP Brett Anderson to a minor league deal.

            The Blue Jays aren't too far away from the wild card, but there is so many teams in front of them, it seems unlikely they'll make it. But, Anderson is still a good pitcher, who just has a big injury problem. In fact, that's why the Chicago Cubs DFA'd him earlier this year. If he can pitch well in AAA, he can possibly be called up in September, especially if there is an injury.

              For Anderson, he's able to get a job, which is obviously good for him. It seemed unlikely he'd get one this year, but he was able to get one.

               Anderson, 29, allowed a horrid 20 runs in 22 innings (8.18 ERA), plus a 2.09 WHIP and 16 strikeouts for the Cubs this year. In his nine year MLB career for the Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, Colorado Rockies and Oakland Athletics, Anderson has a 3.99 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 523 strikeouts in 707.2 innings.

MLB Trade review: Athletics acquire Hatcher



             The Oakland Athletics have acquired RHP Chris Hatcher from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for international amateur signing bonus pool space.

             For the A's, they get a reliever who still has some more arbitration years. He's also a vet with major league experience. Though he's had a terrible 2017, and was not liked by Dodger fans, Hatcher has some positive history. He can eat up innings for Oakland for the rest of 2017. Also, he's not a bad strikeout pitcher, with a K/9 of 10.6 this year and 9.4 in his career.

             Hatcher, 32, has a 4.66 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 43 strikeouts in 36.2 innings for the Dodgers this year. In his seven year MLB career for the Dodgers and Florida/Miami Marlins, Hatcher has a 4.72, 1.37 WHIP and 216 strikeouts in 206 innings.

             For the Dodgers, Hatcher is having a horrible year, and isn't really helping the team. This move clears up a 40 man roster spot. It's also gets them extra international amateur signing bonus pool space, so the Dodgers can have more money to spend on 16 year olds and up.

MLB trade review: #Mets acquire ex major leaguer Snider



              The New York Mets have acquired OF Travis Snider from the Texas Rangers in exchange for cash considerations.

              Snider, who hasn't played in the majors since 2015, is a veteran depth option in the minors. He is having a good year at AAA, and he can help some of the younger guys. He is a solid fielder, so that could come in handy eventually. Snider was assigned to the Las Vegas 51s (AAA).

            Snider, 29, has a .294 batting average, nine homers, 44 RBIs and two steals in 413 Plate Appearances for Round Rock (AAA) this year. In his eight year MLB career for the Baltimore Orioles, Pittsburgh Pirates and Toronto Blue Jays, Snider has a .244 bating average, 54 homers, 212 RBIs and 22 stole bases in 1971 Plate Appearances.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

MLB Trade review: #Astros acquire Clippard



             The Houston Astros have acquired RHP Tyler Clippard from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations.

              This really comes as a surprise, since the Astros are trying to make a big splash, and Clippard is having a really bad year. But, since joining the White Sox after being traded from the Yankees. He's allowed just two runs in 10 innings and two saves since the trade. He brings veteran presence their pen.

               Clippard, 32, has a 4.27 ERA, three saves, 1.29 WHIP and 54 strikeouts in 46.1 innings this year for the White Sox and Yankees. In his 11 year MLB career for the White Sox, Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks, New York Mets, Oakland Athletics and Washington Nationals, Clippard has a 3.04 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 59 saves and 738 strikeouts in 671.1 innings.

               The White Sox, completely out of the playoff hunt, are completely destroying their bullpen. Tommy Kahnle, David Robertson, Dan Jennings and Anthony Swarzak. Trading Clippard just adds to the fire sale. It's either another prospect, for their farm system, or extra cash. For anyone playing fantasy baseball, Juan Minaya could be the leading candidate for saves for the rest of the season.

                I think the Astros win this trade. It's a major leaguer for a minor leaguer, or just cash. It's simple. That why they win.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

MLB trade review: Brewers acquire Walker



          The Milwaukee Brewers have acquired 2B Neil Walker from the New York Mets in exchange for a player to be named later (PTBNL).

           With 2B Jonathan Villar having an awful 2017, the Brewers have been looking for a 2B to bolster their roster. They reportedly have been in talks with the Detroit Tigers including 2B Ian Kinsler, but the two sides were unable to complete a deal. Walker is a switch hitter like Villar, but unlike Kinsler, so that could be something Milwaukee liked more about him. Also, he's a pending free agent, so Villar can try and get things together in 2018.

              Walker, 31, has a .264 batting average, 10 homers and 36 RBIs in 299 Plate Appearances for the Mets this year. In his nine year career for the Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates, Walker has a .272 batting average, 126 homers, 509 RBIs and 29 steals in 4183 Plate Appearances.

                The Mets, completely out of the playoff hunt, are selling all their rentals, like Walker. Lucas Duda was traded to the Rays. Jay Bruce is now an Indian. Walker is ineligible for a qualifying offer, since the Mets tendered an offer to Walker last year, which he excepted, so he can't be tendered one this year. At least they get value out of Walker. The only thing is, since it's a waiver trade, his value dropped, so they only get a PTBNL.

                  I think the Brewers win this trade. They get an MLB starting second baseman for what seems to be a low leveled prospect. That's why they win.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

MLB Trade review: Indians acquire Bruce from Mets



           The Cleveland Indians have acquired OF Jay Bruce from the New York Mets in exchange for RHP prospect Ryder Ryan.

           The Indians, currently 3.5 games ahead of the Kansas City Royals for the AL Central lead, are looking to improve their roster. Bruce is a power bat in the outfield, and isn't a horrible fielder. Today, star LF Michael Brantley went on the DL. Bruce is a good replacement option for this season. Bruce is also a rental. Plus, they don't give up much. Also, he is good at the Indians home stadium, Progressive Field. In 23 career games there, Bruce has a .384 batting average and 1.031 OPS.

          Bruce, 30, has a .258 batting average, 29 homers and 75 RBIs in 445 Plate Appearances for the Mets this year. In his 10 year career for the Mets and the Indians' cross-town rival, the Cincinnati Reds, Bruce has a .249 batting average, 270 homers, 812 RBIs and 61 stolen bases in 1372 Plate Appearances.

            The Mets have struggled this year, and are trading their rentals, like Bruce. They get something in Ryan, but not much. He's an ex 30th round pick, who isn't doing so well at single-A this year. He doesn't have MLB potential.

              Ryan, 22, has a 4.79 ERA, 1.47 WHIP and 49 strikeouts in 41.1 innings at Single-A this year. In his minor league career, Ryan has a 4.50 ERA, 1.51 WHIP and 73 strikeouts in 60 innings.

              I think the Indians win this trade. They get a major leaguer having an amazing season for a minor leaguer having a bad year at Single-A. It's clear they win.

MLB trade review: White Sox acquire Johnson



         The Chicago White Sox have acquired RHP Steve Johnson from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for cash.

         The White Sox only make this move so they can have depth for AAA this year. Johnson has some MLB experience, but not much. He can help down in the Charlotte (AAA) pen. They only give up cash for him, so it won't hurt them in the future.

           Johnson, 29, hasn't played in the majors this year. At Norfolk (AAA) this year, Johnson has a 5.30 ERA, 1.44 WHIP and 39 strikeouts in 37.1 innings. In his four year major league career for the Orioles and Seattle Mariners, Johnson has a 4.26 ERA, 1.38 WHIP and 86 strikeouts in 76 innings.

          In this trade, the Orioles essentially acquire free cash. Johnson is struggling at AAA, and is no where near the majors at the point he's pitching at, so he's practically useless. This trade doesn't affect them at all, really.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

MLB Trade review: #Mariners acquire Frieri



              The Seattle Mariners have acquire RHP Ernesto Frieri from the Texas Rangers in exchange for cash considerations.

              The Mariners bullpen at Tacoma (AAA) is depleted. Frieri is solid bullpen depth for the big league club, and a go-to option for AAA. Also, Frieri is an ex MLB closer for the Los Angeles Angels (2012-2014). He can be a good mentor for the young pitchers at AAA. They just give up cash, so it's not like it'll eventually hurt them. Frieri was assigned to Tacoma after the trade.

              Frieri, 32, has a 5.14 ERA, 1.71 WHIP and five strikeouts in seven innings for the Rangers this year. In AAA for the Rangers and New York Yankees, Frieri has a 2.63 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 34 strikeouts in 27.1 innings this year. In his eight year MLB career for the Rangers, Angels, Tampa Bay Rays, Pittsburgh Pirates and San Diego Padres, Frieri has a 3.59 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 73 saves and 387 strikeouts in 303.1 innings.

                The Rangers only make this trade because they get cash for a minor league pending free agent. It's not a bad trade by any means. It's essentially free cash since Frieri isn't really part of their team.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

MLB Trade review: Mariners acquire Alonso



            The Seattle Mariners have acquired 1B Yonder Alonso from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for OF prospect Boog Powell.

             The Mariners are 1.5 games out of the Wild Card race, and are trying to make the playoffs for the first time since 2001. Alonso is a solid power bat that can platoon with 1B Danny Valencia in Seattle. He's also a rental, so they won't have him next year (most likely).

               Alonso, 30, has a .266 batting average, 22 homers, 49 homers and one steal in 371 Plate Appearances this year. In his eight year career for the A's, San Diego Padres and Cincinnati Reds, Alonso has a .268 batting average, 61 homers, 288 RBIs and 21 stolen bases in 2714 Plate Appearances.

                 As sellers, the A's are able to make a waiver trade and get rid of a rental. They get an MLB ready prospect in Powell, who isn't former Orioles star Boog Powell, so that's good. If Powell doesn't play for Oakland this year, He'll probably play next year.

                  Powell, 24, made his MLB debut this year, with a .194 batting average, no homers and two RBIs in 43 Plate Appearances. In AAA this year, he has a .340 batting average, six homer, 33 RBIs and 11 steals in 239 Plate Appearances. In his minor league career, Powell has a .306 batting average, 15 homers, 155 RBIs and 74 stolen bases in 1791 Plate Appearances.

                  I think this is an even trade. The Mariners get a rental for a young player who's MLB ready. The only thing that stops the Mariners winning is that Alonso is a rental. The only thing stopping the A's from winning is that Powell is a risk, already being suspended in the minors twice, including when he was with the A's organization back in 2014.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

MLB news: Pirates claim Kontos off waivers




            The Pittsburgh Pirates have claimed RHP George Kontos off waivers from the San Francisco Giants.

             Now, the Pirates acquired Kontos and Sean Rodriguez in one day. This could make them in the hunt, but it's unlikely since they are 4.5 games out of the division lead. Also, Kontos isn't a UFA until after 2019, so this still doesn't mean they are going for it, especially because it's a waiver claim.

           Kontos, 32, has a 3.83 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 55 strikeouts in 51.2 innings. In his seven year MLB career for the Giants and New York Yankees, Kontos has a 3.05 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 258 strikeouts in 315.2 innings.

MLB news: Pirates acquire Rodriguez from Braves



             The first post MLB Trade deadline trade has come, after the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired utility player Sean Rodriguez from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for corner infield prospect Connor Joe

              The Pirates, 4.5 games out of first place in the NL Central, aren't buyers after this move. They are able to acquire a player in Rodriguez, who has played every single position except pitcher or catcher in his career. Also, he's signed through 2018, so they have him for next year. They give up a low leveled prospect in Joe. Rodriguez was with the Pirates in 2015 and 2016, and MLB.com's Adam Berry said that he was well liked in the clubhouse.

              Rodriguez, 32, missed months this year after him and his family were injured in a car accident. But, in his return for the Braves, Rodriguez has struggled, with a .162 batting average, two homers, three RBIs and one steal in 47 Plate Appearances. In his 10 year MLB career for the Braves, Pirates, Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Angeles, Rodriguez has a .233 batting average, 69 homers, 262 RBIs and 40 stolen bases in 2482 Plate Appearances.

                For the Braves, they trade a player who didn't have a spot on their team. They get something for him, which is way, way better than getting nothing for him.

                 Joe, 24, has a .240 batting average, five homers, 30 RBIs and two stolen bases in 295 Plate Appearances in Low-A and AA this year. In his minor league career, Joe has a .257 batting average, 11 homers, 102 RBIs and four stolen bases in 1094 Plate Appearances.

                 I think the Pirates win this trade. They get a major leaguer for a minor leaguer, so they obviously win, right?

Friday, August 4, 2017

MLB news: Athletics claim Garneau off waivers



          Today, the Oakland Athletics claimed C Dustin Garneau off waivers from the Colorado Rockies.

           With backup catcher Josh Phegley on the 10-day DL (oblique strain), Garneau could be a solid backup catcher option, or at least a better one than Ryan Lavarnaway, who could be DFA'd soon. Also, Garneau is a right handed hitter, so he could platoon with starting catcher, and left handed hitter Bruce Maxwell, who is having a tough year. Garneau was probably only waived by Colorado because they acquired C Jonathan Lucroy from the Rangers.

             Garneau, 29, has a .206 batting average, one homer and six RBIs in 74 Plate Appearances for the Rockies this year. He also has a .281 batting average, 10 homers and 26 RBIs in 144 Plate Appearances for Albuquerque (AAA) this year. In his MLB career, Garneau has a .199 batting average, four homers and 20 RBIs in 225 Plate Appearances.