Friday, November 30, 2018

MLB trade review: Nationals acquire Gomes


              The Washington Nationals have acquired C Yan Gomes from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for RHP Jefry Rodriguez, RF Daniel Johnson and a player to be named later.

               For the Nationals, they are attempting to re-shape their catcher depth chart. They signed Kurt Suzuki, who will platoon with Gomes, who has decent power and a good arm. They don't give up any top prospects or major roster players and get a catcher, a position they need. Gomes made his first all-star team in 2018.

              Gomes, 31, had a batting average of .266, a .313 OBP, 16 home runs and 48 RBIs in 435 Plate Appearances in 2018 for the Indians. The best season in his career can with the Indians in 2014, when he had a .278 batting average, an OBP of .313, 21 home runs and 74 RBIs in 518 Plate Appearances. In his MLB career for the Indians and Toronto Blue Jays, Gomes has hit .248 with a .295 OBP, 87 home runs and 308 RBIs in 2422 Plate Appearances.

               For the Indians, I don't understand why they are trading Gomes. In a terrible AL Central, they can win the division for years. They traded their top catching prospect in Fransisco Mejia and now their starting catcher. That leaves them with backup Roberto Perez. It would make sense though if they signed either Yasmani Grandal, Wilson Ramos or Robinson Chirinos in free agency. The return is probably what the return for a player like Gomes should be.

              Rodriguez, 25, made his MLB debut in 2018 with a 5.71 ERA, 5.97 FIP and 38 strikeouts in 52 innings for the Nats.

                Johnson, 23, had a .269 batting average, .327 OBP, seven home runs, 35 RBIs and 22 stolen bases in 415 Plate Appearances in 2018 for the rookie league Nationals and AA Harrisburg.

                 I think the Nationals win this trade. While it is an even trade, I don't get why the Indians are making the trade in the first place.

MLB trade review: White Sox acquire Colome for Narvaez

Tampa Bay Times

          The Chicago White Sox have acquired RHP Alex Colome from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for C Omar Narvaez.

           For the White Sox, I don't get this trade. With four years of control, Narvaez would be with the team at the end of when they are expected to start being competitive. Colome has two years left, and the White Sox aren't expected the contend in that window. It would make more sense to trade a young catcher for a decent reliever if the team was expected to compete in 2019.

          Colome, who will be 30 be the start of the season, had a 3.04 ERA, 3.44 FIP, 72 strikeouts and 12 saves in 68 innings for the Mariners and Tampa Bay Rays in 2018. The best year of his career was with the Rays in 2016, when he posted a 1.91 ERA, 2.92 FIP, 71 strikeouts and 37 saves in 56.2 innings. In his MLB career for the Mariners and Rays, Colome has a 3.12 ERA, 3.48 FIP, 314 strikeouts and 96 saves in 340.2 innings.

          I love this trade for the Mariners. Ranked 12th in my ranking all catchers post, Narvaez broke out while Welington Castillo was suspended. With 4 more years of control, Narvaez will still be on the team by 2021, the year the Mariners are aiming to contend in. Narvaez will replace Mike Zunino, ranked as the 14th best catcher, who was recently traded to Tampa Bay.

          Narvaez, 26, had a .275 batting average, .366 OBP, nine home runs and 30 RBIs in 322 Plate Appearances for the White Sox in 2018, the best season of his career. In his MLB career, all in Chicago, Narvaez has a batting average of .274, with a .366 OBP, 12 home runs and 54 RBIs in 734 Plate Appearances.

          I think the Mariners win this trade. They get a young catcher with 4 years of control for a decent reliever with two years of control. The White Sox won't be good with Colome, at least until his current contract is over, and the Mariners could be good with Narvaez.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

MLB news: Padres sign Richards

                The San Diego Padres have signed RHP Garrett Richards to a two year, $15 million deal.

                For the Padres, Richards is a good pitcher that can never stay healthy. He's already undergone Tommy John surgery, and has been hurt every year since 2015. But, when healthy, he's showed he can be a frontline starter. A love this deal for the Padres if Richards can stay healthy. Mike Trout's former roommate, Richards isn't much of a strikeout pitcher, but has a good career ERA.

                Richards, 30, had a 3.66 ERA, 4.13 FIP and 87 strikeouts in 76.1 innings for the Los Angeles Angels in 2018. His best career season was with the Angels in 2014, when he posted a 2.61 ERA, 2.60 FIP and 164 strikeouts in 168.2 innings. In his MLB career, all in Los Angeles, Richards has an ERA of 3.54, with a 3.62 FIP and 645 strikeouts in 744.2 innings.

Monday, November 26, 2018

MLB news: Twins claim Cron


              Today, the Minnesota Twins found Joe Mauer's replacement, claiming 1B C.J. Cron off waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays.

               Less than a week ago, the Rays surprisingly DFA'd Cron, who in his first season in St. Petersburg, slugged out 30 home runs. It was a claim waiting to happen. And the Twins finally pounced. Cron will replace soon hall-of-famer Joe Mauer, who retired at the beginning of the offseason.

              Cron, who will be 29 by the start of the season, had a batting average of .253, a .323 OBP, 30 home runs and 74 RBIs in 560 Plate Appearances in his career season, 2018 with the Rays. In his MLB career for the Rays and Los Angeles Angeles, Cron has a batting average of .260, an OBP of .311, 89 home runs and 287 RBIs in 2035 Plate Appearances.

MLB news: Braves sign Donaldson, McCann

           The Atlanta Braves have signed 3B Josh Donaldson to a one year, $23 million contract, and C Brian McCann to a one year, $2 million deal.

           This all comes as a surprise to me. Well, at least Donaldson does. With Johan Camargo at third and Dansby Swanson at short, it seemed that the Braves didn't need Donaldson. The former MVP who missed most of 2018 due to injury, Donaldson's age and recent health issues likely would have limited him to a one year deal, and it did. He got a lot of money for one year, while not too much. A one year deal could be good for Donaldson. If he has a good year, he'd return to free agency next year as a 34 year old free agent, and could get more money, but still probably not a multiyear deal. This could mean that Camargo could shift over to shortstop, and a trade including Swanson could happen.

           Donaldson, who will be 33 by the beginning of the season, had a .246 batting average, .352 OBP, eight home runs and 23 RBIs in 219 Plate Appearances between the Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays. His best MLB season was his 2015 MLB campaign. That year, he had a .297 batting average, .371 OBP, 41 home runs and 123 RBIs for the Blue Jays. In his MLB career for the Indians, Blue Jays and Oakland Athletics, Donaldson has a batting average of .275, an OBP of .367, 182 home runs and 551 RBIs in 3817 Plate Appearances.

           The McCann signing comes as less of a surprise. Since Kurt Suzuki signed with the Nationals, the Braves needed a catcher to platoon with Tyler Flowers. While there were better options out there, the Braves decided to go with the cheaper McCann, who is a Georgia native and played the first nine seasons of his career with the Braves, making seven all-star teams.

           McCann, 34, had a batting average of .212 with an OBP of .301, seven home runs and 23 RBIs in 216 Plate Appearances for the Houston Astros in 2018. His best career season was in 2008 with the Braves, when he had a .301 batting average, .373 OBP, 23 home runs and 87 RBIs in 573 Plate Appearances. In his MLB career for the Braves, Astros and New York Yankees, McCann has a batting average of .263, an OBP of .338, 270 home runs and 973 RBIs in 6534 Plate Appearances.

NHL trade review: Coyotes acquire Schmaltz for Strome, Perlini

           The Arizona Coyotes have acquired C Nick Schmaltz from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for C Dylan Strome and LW Brendan Perlini.

           For the Coyotes, they are giving up on their 2014 and 2015 first round picks. They get another 2014 first rounder, in Schmaltz, who enjoyed a breakout 2017-18 campaign. Schmaltz is more proven than Perlini and Strome, and is the same age as Perlini.

          Schmaltz, 22, has scored two goals and nine assists for 11 points in 23 games for the Blackhawks this season. In his NHL career, all in Chicago, Schmaltz has scored 29 goals and 62 assists for 91 points in 162 games.

          For the Blackhawks, while they are giving up a young player after he scored 21 goals and 52 points, they get two young players with potential. Perlini scored 17 goals last year, and could score 20 in the near future. Strome was the third overall pick in 2015 behind stars Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, but hasn't panned out.

           Perlini, 22, has scored two goals and four assists for six points in 22 games this season. In his NHL career, all in the desert, Perlini has scored 33 goals and 24 assists for 57 points in 153 games.

            Strome, 21, has scored three goals and three assists for six points in 20 games this year. In his NHL career, he's scored seven goals and nine assists for 16 points in 48 games.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

5 most underrated MLB free agents

              The current MLB free agent class is primed to set records. With SS Manny Machado and OF Bryce Harper, two players that are primed to set the record for the highest deal ever, the most amount of money spent in an offseason could be in this one. But while there will be players getting money in the $200 millions, and probably more than $300 million, there will also be players that are expected to be getting under $20 million more than a tenth less than Machado and Harper will most likely get. So, without further to do, here's five underrated free agents, in no specific order.

               Lance Lynn, RHP
Coming off a year slightly shortened by Tommy John surgery, Lynn signed a one year deal with the Twins. He disappointed, with a 5.10 ERA in 102.1 innings. After a trade deadline trade to the Yankees, it didn't seem like it, but Lynn was amazing. His 4.14 ERA in 11 games (nine starts) won't wow many, but in the 54.1 innings in the Bronx, Lynn had a FIP of 2.17. To put that into perspective, if Lynn had a 2.17 FIP the entire season, he would have finished second in the league behind Jacob deGrom's 1.98. A 2.17 FIP would also be about 150th best all-time for a single season, tied with many, including Pedro Martinez in 2000, Roger Clemens in 1988 and Cy Young in 1910. His career 3.67 FIP is better than fellow free agent Dallas Keuchel's 3.72, who is projected to get a four year, $82 million deal by Really good for a player ranked as the 36th best free agent by MLBTR, who predicted a two year, $16 million contract to the Rays.

               Daniel Descalso, INF
A player not even ranked on MLBTR's top 50 free agent list, or their honorable mentions, Descalso has seen time at LF, 1B, and most 2B, SS and 3B during his nine year career, so versatility is a plus. In 2018, he hit 13 home runs, had an OPS of .789, and an OPS+ of 106. According to, Descalso had a WAR of 1.6 in 2018, double the WAR of second basemen Daniel Murphy, Brian Dozier, and Josh Harrison. Descalso can be a clutch pickup for one lucky team.

               Robinson Chirinos, C
I noted in my ranking all catchers article that Chirinos was underrated. Like Descalso, has Chirinos with a 1.6 WAR. They also note that there is 18 MLB catchers on the market. But, Chirinos hit 18 home runs in 2018, fifth among all catchers. It's also worthy to note in 2017, he had an OPS of .866 and an OPS+ of 120. His age, 34, could have him slated for a one or two year deal, but Chirinos would be a steal for a team in need of a catcher.

                Lucas Duda, 1B
Like Lynn, Duda is a big comeback option. Duda hit 87 combined home runs in 2014, 2015 and 2017, not including 2016, where he played in just 47 games due to injury. More injuries kept him to just 107 games between the Royals and Braves in 2018, where he hit 14 homers, but Duda has a career .789 OPS and a career OPS+ of 118. had him with a WAR of exactly 0.0, but with a weak 1B market, with top option Steve Pearce already gone, leaving Matt Adams, Mark Reynolds and Logan Morrison as the standouts, Duda can be a steal for a 1B thirsty team.

               Oliver Perez, LHP
The final option on the list, Perez has had a long, tough career that has seem him go through many struggles as a starter, and since 2012, a reliever. But at age 36, Perez had arguably his best season ever. In 32.1 innings, Perez had a 1.39 ERA, with 43 strikeouts with a 1.74 FIP. And according to, he had a 1.1 WAR, 7th best among free agent relievers, better than pitchers like Zach Britton, AJ Ramos, Andrew Miller, Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera. His age will hurt him, and so will his inconsistency, but he can be a sleeper pick up for a team.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Ranking all MLB catchers

from Yahoo! Sports

             So, I wanted to start a series ranking all position players by position. And what better way to start than with the first fielding position besides the pitcher, the catcher. Unfortunately for catchers, their position is by far the weakest at batting, but requires strength at fielding. There were only 27 players that would qualify at catcher in your fantasy league with at least 300 Plate Appearances, and I'm going to be ranking all of them, almost. Not included on the list is Rangers' Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who made just 23 starts at catcher, and is mostly used as an infielder. Since it's 300 Plate Appearances as the limit, no 2018 World Series champions are on the list, among some other teams. You'll see an advanced stat called DEF a lot in the article. Here's what it means: [Fangraphs]. And credit to Fangraphs for the stats in the article. So, here we go, starting off with the one and only tie on the list.

               T25: Nick Hundley, Giants, Manny Pina, Brewers
Starting off with two catchers that don't have anything too special. At 31, Pina hit nine homers in 337 Plate Appearances, and had an OBP of .307. His DEF of 8.4 saves him. For Hundley, he hit 10 home runs in 305 Plate Appearances, backing up Buster Posey, then starting after his injuries. He isn't a great defender, and had an OBP of .298 in 2018. Nothing special displayed at the bottom of the list.

                24: James McCann, Detroit Tigers
 McCann's stock fell more than any catcher in 2018. He was terrible at the plate, with an OBP of .267. He had a DEF of 11.1, and his ability to hit more for power before than Hundley and Pina puts him slightly above them.

                 23: John Hicks, Detroit Tigers
While McCann hurt his stock, his teammate, Hicks, helped his. An OBP of .312 and a slugging % of .403 isn't the greatest, but compared to the catchers below him, it's pretty good for someone just qualifying, with just 312 Plate Appearances. He tied McCann with nine home runs, and showed that he could be better than their starter. What hurts him is his terrible DEF of -5.7

                 22: Russell Martin, Toronto Blue Jays
Martin has always been an above average catcher in power, and an above average defender. But, it all fell apart for Martin in 2018. Despite a .338 OBP, Martin batted .194, with his lowest home run total (10) since 2010.His DEF dropped way down to 2.7, and he had an OBP better than his slugging, with a terrible .325 showing in the latter. Martin hit rock bottom in 2018, and his past is keeping him at 22.

                 21: Jon Lucroy, free agent
Formerly a top catcher in the game, Lucroy signed a one year deal with the A's in Spring Training, then flopped at the plate. Like Martin, Lucroy had a .325 slugging %, and a weak .291 OBP. He still had a 11.0 DEF, which will have him staying at 21.
                 20: Mitch Garver, Minnesota Twins
I think an argument for Garver to be lower on the list could be valid, as he had an OPS of .749, which is above league average, and pretty decent. Taking the Twins job from Jason Castro, Garver hit seven home runs in 2018, and his AAA numbers show that he could hit more in a full season. Someone to look out for in 2019.

                 19: Austin Hedges, San Diego Padres
Hedges has power for a catcher, no doubt. He's hit 33 homers in the last two seasons, with 14 in 2018. His weak .282 OBP hurts him, and he had a DEF of just 5.1, which is good, but ninth worst out of catchers on the list. He did have a decent slugging %  of .429. He has 20 home run power, and might hit it in more Plate Appearances in 2019.

                 18: Martin Maldonado, free agent
After a post 2016 trade to the Angels, Maldonado has gotten way more Plate Appearances, with over 400 in the past two years. He's combined for 23 homers since the trade. Traded mid 2018 to the Astros, Maldonado goes into free agency with a good chance of a multiyear deal. His DEF of 11.3 in 2018 and a combined DEF of 23.7 in the last two years will a selling point for him.

                  17: Jorge Alfaro, Philadelphia Phillies
Alfaro was one of the top catching prospects leading up to his rookie 2018 season. He wasn't so great, though. The Phillies had to trade for a player you'll see if you scroll down. He hit 10 home runs, and had an OPS of .731. But, he's young and had a DEF of 9.5. His K rate of 36.6% needs to go down.

                  16: Chris Iannetta, Colorado Rockies
In his first year back in Colorado, Iannetta hit 11 home runs after posting up 17 in his one year in the desert. He had a good .345 OBP, but what really brings him down is his .385 slugging and 3.4 DEF (compared to other catchers). He had a really good OPS of .865 in 2017 with the D-Backs, and that is what helps him place at number 16.

                   15: Yan Gomes, Cleveland Indians
There could be a chance Gomes isn't on the Indians by Opening Day 2019. He has combined for 30 home runs the last two seasons, and is coming off a year with a .449 slugging percentage and a .762 OPS. 2018 was Gomes' best season since 2014, and it ranks him and number 15.

                   14: Mike Zunino, Tampa Bay Rays
The newest member of the Rays hit 20 homers and won Wilson's Defensive Catcher of the Year Award. He's also combined for 45 homers the last two seasons. So why isn't he top ten?. He has a very high strikeout rate of 37%. He also had a terribly awful OBP of .259 with a .201 batting average. He has power and a good glove, but nothing else.

                   13: Robinson Chirinos, free agent
 The Rangers could regret not exercising Chirinos' option. He isn't the best defensive catcher, but he has 20 home run power, something not many catchers have, hitting 17 and 18 bombs the past two years. The 18 in 2018 was sixth among catchers. He had an OPS of .757 in 2018, and quietly is one of baseball's most underrated catchers. He should get more money than people think he will in free agency.

                   12: Omar Narvaez, Chicago White Sox
Narvaez has never been a home run hitter. He had never hit more than two in any season, major league or minor, before. But, with Welington Castillo suspended, Narvaez hit nine, and had a batting average of .275. He doesn't strikeout much, with a 20.2% rate, which also happened to be a career high for him. He had an OPS of .795, despite his slugging rating being a little lower than players with an OPS of around .800, due to his lack of home runs. He's a good, young catcher.

                    11: Kurt Suzuki, Washington Nationals
Suzuki just signed a two year, $10 million deal with Washington. In his two seasons in Atlanta, Suzuki combined for 31 home runs, with 12 of them coming in 2018. Suzuki has a very low strikeout rate of 11.1%, and an OPS of .776. He's a player managers like. Gets on base, doesn't strike out, and can hit some homers.

                    10: Buster Posey, San Fransisco Giants
The main reason Posey is so high on the list is the countless amount of injuries. He might miss the beginning of 2019. The former #1 catcher in baseball is still really good, and in his prime (he's 31). He did have 448 Plate Appearances in 2018, more than most the catchers higher than him, and hit five homers, less than all catchers besides Lucroy. A .741 OPS is lower than the player 10 spots ahead of him, Garver, so his past really helps him sneak into the top-10.

                    9: Tucker Barnhart, Cincinnati Reds
Barnhart is one of the best fielders in baseball, and has a career DEF of 40.6, since 2014, when he debuted. He may not have the gold gloves to prove it, just one, but Barnhart is one of the most underrated fielders in all of baseball.

                   8: Wilson Ramos, free agentRamos is the player mentioned earlier that the Phillies needed to trade for because of Alfaro's struggles. It makes sense. Ramos was the best rental available, and finished with 15 home runs, and a .845 OPS. That makes him the second best free agent catcher, and a player that will really help his new team.

                   7: Fransisco Cervelli, Pittsburgh Pirates
Another catcher that doesn't strike out (12.6% K rate), but doesn't have great power (career high 12 homers in 2018), Cervelli led all catcher in OBP in 2018 with a .378 number. He had a .809 OPS, and had a 9.3 DEF. One of the better all-around catchers in baseball.

                   6: Yasmani Grandal, free agent
The top catching free agent available, Grandal hit 24 home runs in 2018, and has hit 67 over the past three seasons. He's had a slugging percentage over .450 each year, and had an OPS of .815 in 2018. Plus, a 9.0 While I don't think he's worth $70+ million, a number that experts think he'll get, I think he's a very valuable catcher.

                   5: Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees
Injuries really hurt Sanchez in 2018. His batting average was at .184, his OBP was under .300 (.291), and his K rate raised to 25.1. A .697 OPS was pretty bad as well. But, Sanchez still slugged out 18, after hitting 33 while healthy in 2017. He has an exceptional arm but the passed balls are a problem. He is still young and has really good power, and is still a top-5 catcher.

                  4: Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
It seems weird, but with 20 home runs, Molina hit the 20 homer mark for just the second time in his career. His DEF dropped to 7.3, but that's still really good. A .750 OPS isn't bad either. He may be aging, but "Yadi" is still a really good catcher.

                  3: Willson Contreras, Chicago Cubs
In more Plate Appearances in 2018, Contreras matched his 2017 RBI total, 50, and hit 11 less home runs, with 10. But, he is still a great defender, with a DEF of over 12.5 for the second straight season. Contreras is also young, and if he can get back to the 20 homer mark, he'll be a top-3 catcher again, no doubt.

                  2: Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
Perez hit 20 home runs for the 4th straight season, the most by any current catcher. In 2018, he tied his career high, with 27, which led all catchers. His .439 slugging percentage was really good, and 10.7 DEF was also exceptional.

                  1: JT Realmuto, Miami Marlins
Another player that likely won't be on their team by opening day, Realmuto is by far the most all-around catcher. He hit 20 home runs for the first time ever with 21. His 74 runs led catchers, and his 74 RBIs was tied with Molina for second. An OBP of .340 and an slugging percentage of .484 combined for an .824 OPS.

                   That's my list. If you disagree comment down below, or tweet me (@carterhudblog).

Thursday, November 22, 2018

NHL trade review: Oilers acquire Wideman

Image by Derek Leung/Getty Images

         The Edmonton Oilers have acquired defenseman Chris Wideman from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for a 2020 6th round pick.

           For the Oilers, like this trade a lot. Wideman was fourth in defensive shots with 123 in 2016-17, when the Senators were a goal away from the Stanley Cup finals. A puck moving, right handed shot defenseman, Wideman showed that he can be a top-4 defensive on a good team. The Senators were an above average defensive team that year, finishing 11th in the league in goals against (214). He will most likely slide in above either Jason Garrison or Matt Benning in the depth chart.

           Wideman, 28, has scored two goals and three assists for five points in 19 games this year. His best career season was 2016-17, when he played in a career high 76 games, scoring 17 points and putting up 123 shots. In his NHL career, all in Ottawa, Wideman has scored 16 goals and 27 assists for 43 points in 175 games.

            For the Senators, I don't understand this trade. While they clear up a spot for prospect Christian Wolanin to play, he is still in the AHL. They get a low return for a quality defenseman. Most people are thinking the trade has to do with the Senators' Uber scandal that went viral no more than a month ago. Wideman was the most visible player in the clip, was talking the most, and was arguably the most vulnerable, as the other six players included top prospects Thomas Chabot, Colin White and Alex Formenton (since sent to Juniors), new acquisitions Dylan DeMelo and Chris Tierney, and star Matt Duchene. Him being more expandable than the other could have helped send the message for Ottawa. That's one way that might have impacted the decision to trade Wideman.

Monday, November 19, 2018

MLB news: Nats sign Suzuki, Rangers sign Mathis

          The Washington Nationals have signed C Kurt Suzuki, and the Texas Rangers have signed C Jeff Mathis, both to two year deals.

           The Nationals could use Suzuki in a platoon with Matt Wieters. Suzuki brings a decent right-handed bat to the table. He nearly hit 20 home runs in 2017. He is most likely going to be their backup, though. Suzuki also spent two years with Washington in 2012 and 2013, despite struggling, hitting just .239 with eight homers.

            Suzuki, 35, hit .271, with 12 homers and 50 RBIs in 388 Plate Appearances for the Atlanta Braves in 2018. His best career season came with the Braves in 2017, when he hit .283 with 19 home runs and 50 RBIs in 309 Plate Appearances. In his MLB career for the Braves, Nationals, Minnesota Twins and Oakland Athletics, Suzuki has a batting average of .258, with 114 home runs and 619 RBIs in 5319 Plate Appearances.

              For the Rangers, Robinson Chirinos is a free agent, and Mathis is brought in as a backup. Also, they are rumored to be in on trade talks for pitcher Zack Greinke, who Mathis just recently caught in Arizona.

              Mathis, also 35, hit .200 with one homer and 20 RBIs in 218 Plate Appearances for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2018. His best offensive season came with the Los Angeles Angels in 2008, when he hit nine home runs and 42 RBIs in 328 Plate Appearances. In his MLB career for the Angels, Diamondbacks, Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays, Mathis has a batting average of .198, with 48 home runs and 265 RBIs in 2694 Plate Appearances.

My interview with 5 time Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky

Only the greatest athletes in the world get to represent their country in the Olympics. On top of that, they all dream of winning a gold medal. I was fortunate to be able to speak with someone with five of them.

At the age of 21, American swimmer Katie Ledecky has already won five gold medals and a silver. One of those golds came in 2012 in London, at the young age of 15. The other four gold medals and the silver came in Rio 2016. She also has won 14 World Championship gold medals, the most ever by a female swimmer. She is the current world record holder in three events, the 400, 800 and 1500 meter freestyle. She has broken her own records so many times she actually has 14 of them.

I had the privilege to speak with Ledecky, who's uncle, Jon, is a co-owner of the New York Islanders.

Me: How long have you been swimming?
Katie Ledecky: Since I was six years old. I'm 21 now, so 15 years.

Me: Did you play any other sports as a kid?
KL: I played basketball, soccer, I did Irish dancing. I did skate a little bit, but not seriously. Basketball, soccer and swimming for the three sports growing up.

Me: What's it like having your uncle as the owner of a professional sports team?
KL: It's awesome. When I was little I went to pretty much every Caps game, so I became a hockey fan really quickly. Now I'm a huge Islanders fan. I keep track of every game. My parents watch pretty much every game. It's fun to have a team to cheer for. I get to hear a lot of the stories about the team, different stories that my uncle has. It's a lot of fun to watch it and be a part of it, and to be able to come to some of these games when I get the chance.

Me: Will we see you in Tokyo (2020 Summer Olympics) in a few years?
KL: I hope so. It's very tough to qualify for the Olympics. There's the Olympic trials in June of 2020. That will decide if I get to go again. I'm training really hard for it. Hopefully I'll get to swim in a number of events in Tokyo and do really well.

Me: What are your goals for 2020?
KL: I'd like to bring home more medals for Team USA, and just do my very best. I have some time goals that I won't share, It's not just you, I won't share them with any one (laughs). I have some times in mind that I'd like to hit, and some places that I want to hit and achieve. So, hopefully it will go well.

MLB trade review: Yankees land Paxton

          The New York Yankees have acquired LHP James Paxton from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for LHP Justus Sheffield, RHP Erik Swanson and OF Dom Thompson-Williams.

           With J.A. Happ, Lance Lynn and C.C. Sabathia hitting free agency, plus Jordan Montgomery not expected to return from Tommy John surgery until June, the Yankees had three open rotation spots. They re-signed Sabathia, leaving them with two spots. They could have given one to top prospects Sheffield or Chance Adams, or failed trade acquisition Sonny Gray, but GM Brian Cashman stated that their plans where to trade Gray. So, they went out and traded for a big time starter in Paxton. Paxton has injury issues and has never pitched a full 162 inning season, but has been great the last few years. They give up their top prospect, Sheffield, for two years of Paxton, but it will be worth it if Paxton pitches even better in New York. Swanson is a prospect that they needed to put on their 40-man by tomorrow, but didn't have the space. Thompson-Williams is a prospect that looks like a throw-in.

              Paxton, 30, had a 3.76 ERA, 3.23 FIP and 208 strikeouts in 160.1 innings in 2018. His best career season came in 2017, when he posted a 2.98 ERA, 2.61 FIP and 156 strikeouts in 136 innings. In his MLB career, all for the Mariners, Paxton has posted a 3.42 ERA, 3.13 FIP, 617 strikeouts in 582.1 innings.

              For the Mariners, it looks like they are starting over and aiming for 2021, which would be the 20th anniversary of their last postseason appearance. They get Sheffield, who could become the Mariners top starter by the time Paxton hits free agency. He was acquired by the Yankees from the Indians along with OF Clint Frazier and RHPs JP Feyereisen and Ben Heller in a 2016 trade deadline deal for LHP Andrew Miller. Swanson is a prospect coming off a breakout year in the minors. He was acquired from the Rangers along with RHPs Dillon Tate and Nick Green for OF Carlos Beltran, also in 2016. Thompson-Williams is an outfielder coming off a decent minor league season.

               Sheffield, 22, allowed three runs in 2.2 innings (10.13 ERA), striking out none in a very short September MLB stint. Between AA Trenton and AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Sheffield had a 2.48 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 123 strikeouts in 116 innings in 2018.

               Swanson, 25, posted a 2.66 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 139 strikeouts in 121.1 innings between Low-A Staten Island, Trenton and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. His stint in Trenton was the most notable, as he displayed a 0.42 ERA in 42.2 innings.

               Thompon-Williams, 23, had a .299 batting average, 22 home runs, 74 RBIs and 20 stolen bases in 415 Plate Appearances between Single-A Charleston and High-A Tampa.

                 I think this trade is very hard to judge. The Yankees get a star, but the Mariners get a prospect that could be a star. So, you can't judge the trade now.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

MLB trade review: Astros acquire Diaz

                The Houston Astros have acquired SS Aledmys Diaz from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for RHP Trent Thornton.

                 For the Astros, U Marwin Gonzalez is a free agent, and in case Gonzalez isn't signed, Diaz might be their fallback plan. After a trade from the Cardinals, Diaz regained his value in 2018 with a career high 18 home runs in 130 games, despite not getting close to the .300 batting average mark, 2018 was still way better for Diaz than 2017.

                 Diaz, 28, hit 18 home runs with 55 RBIs and a .263 batting average, plus three stolen bases in 452 Plate Appearances for the Blue Jays in 2018. In his MLB career for the Jays and St. Louis Cardinals, Diaz has a batting average of .275, with 42 homers, 140 RBIs and 11 stolen bases in 1213 Plate Appearances.

                  For the Jays, they still have Troy Tulowitzki at short, but more importantly, Richard Urena and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. coming up. At third, they have Brandon Drury and the MLB's top prospect, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. So, there was no spot for Diaz in the infield. They get a prospect in Thornton, who has struggled in the minors and is Rule 5 draft eligible.

                  Thornton, 25, had a 4.42 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 122 strikeouts in 124.1 innings for AAA Fresno in 2018. In his minor league career, he has a 4.23 ERA with a WHIP of 1.26 and 396 strikeouts in 446.1 innings.

Friday, November 16, 2018

NHL trade review: Rangers acquire Strome, Oilers get Spooner

             The New York Rangers have acquired C Ryan Strome from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for C Ryan Spooner. The Rangers also have retained $900K of Spooner's contract, to match Strome's $3.1 million cap hit.

             For the Rangers, I really don't understand this trade. Both players have the same amount of points this year. Strome is just one year younger than Spooner, and has struggled since his rookie season. The Rangers are hoping a second change of scenery can help him.

            Strome, 25, has scored one goal and one assist for two points in 18 games this season. In his NHL career for the Oilers and New York Islanders, Strome has scored 59 goals and 103 assists for 162 points in 358 games.

            For the Oilers, they made a terrible trade acquiring Strome for Jordan Eberle a summer ago. While Eberle scored 25 goals in New York, Strome put in just 13. Spooner has struggled at the start of this season, but scored 16 points in 20 games after a trade to the Rangers last season. Things like that make you think he didn't fit well with new coach Dan Quinn.

            Spooner, 26, has scored one goal and one assist for two points in 16 games for the Rangers this year. In his NHL career for the Rangers and Boston Bruins, Spooner has scored 46 goals and 114 assists for 160 points in 289 games.

             I think the Oilers win this trade. While the players are very similar, and have similar production rates, Spooner's strong end to 2017-18 makes me think he can succeed in Edmonton.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

NHL trade review: Penguins, Kings, swap Pearson, Hagelin

                The Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired LW Tanner Pearson from the Los Angeles Kings for LW Carl Hagelin. The Penguins also have retained part of Hagelin's contract to even out the salaries.

                For the Penguins, both players have been struggling, and the Penguins are 1-5-1 in their last 7 games. Looking for a wakeup, they get a younger player under contract for this season and the next two, for a pending free agent, who has never eclipsed 40 points in a season and 20 goals. Pearson scored 24 points in 2016-17, and the Penguins are hoping he can get back to producing like that.

               Pearson, 26, has scored one point, an assist, in 17 games this year. In his NHL career, all for the Kings, Pearson has scored 69 goals and 75 assists for 144 points in 325 games.

              For the Kings, they were looking for a shakeup, after a 5-11-1 start. But this wasn't the right move. I think they should have asked for 21 year old winger Daniel Sprong, who is stuck in a logjam in Pittsburgh, and has potential. Instead they get Hagelin, a speedy vet in the final year of his contract with next to no potential.

              Hagelin, 30, has scored one goal and two assists for three points in 16 games for the Penguins this year. In his NHL career for the Penguins, Anaheim Ducks and New York Rangers, Hagelin has scored 89 goals and 136 assists for 225 points in 504 games.

             I think the Penguins win this trade. They get a younger, better player, with extra years left on his deal, and someone with a better chance of turning around than Hagelin.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

MLB trade review: Rays acquire Zunino, Heredia for Smith

             The Tampa Bay Rays have acquired C Mike Zunino, OF Guillermo Heredia and LHP Michael Plassmeyer from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for OF Mallex Smith and OF Jake Fraley.

             For the Rays, I like this trade a lot. Zunino is a catcher with above average pop for his position, and won Wilson defensive player of the year honors at his position, just the night before the trade. His main downside is his inability to hit for average. Heredia is another good fielder, who is a classic 4th outfielder type. Plassmeyer is a prospect that could be valuable one day for the Rays.

             Zunino, 27, hit .201 with 20 homers and 44 RBIs in 405 Plate Appearances for the Mariners in 2018. In his MLB career, all in Seattle, Zunino has a batting average of .207, with 95 homers and 241 RBIs in 2087 Plate Appearances.

              Heredia, 27, hit .236, with five homers and 19 RBIs in 337 Plate Appearances in 2018. In his MLB career, only with the Mariners, Heredia has a batting average of .244 with 12 home runs and 55 RBIs in 770 Plate Appearances.

              Plassmeyer, 22, had a 2.25 ERA, .83 WHIP and 44 strikeouts in 24 innings for Low-A Everett, in his first professional season, 2018.

             For the Mariners, they regain Smith, a quality, speedy outfielder who they had for 77 minutes pre-2017. They get rid of a catcher that couldn't get on base, and look for better options on the free agent market. They add a prospect in Fraley.

            Smith, 25, had a .296 batting average, two homers, 40 RBIs and 40 stolen bases in 544 Plate Appearances for the Rays in 2018. In his MLB career for the Rays and Atlanta Braves, Smith had a batting average of .277 with seven homers and 74 RBIs, with 72 stolen bases in 1041 Plate Appearances.

            Fraley, 23, had a .347 batting average, with four homers, 41 RBIs and 11 stolen bases in 260 Plate Appearances for High-A Charlotte in 2018.

            I think the Mariners win the deal. They trade two players that won't hurt them too much, plus a pitching prospect, for two speedy outfielders, one prospect, and one that can help them out a lot in 2019.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

2018 MLB Cy Young predictions

             It's Cy Young time again, as the finalists for both leagues have been announced. This year, it's half familiar faces, half new stars. In the AL it's Rays' LHP Blake Snell, and two RHPs in the Indians' Corey Kluber and the Astros' Justin Verlander. In the NL it's three RHPs in the Mets' Jacob DeGrom, the Nationals' Max Scherzer and Aaron Nola of the Phillies.

              A 25 year old who never had a winning record until 2018, Snell had an amazing breakout campaign, leading the MLB in wins with 21, then the AL in ERA with a 1.89 number. Hitters hit just .178 against him, a league best. But, just 180.2 inning pushed him to just 11th in the league in strikeouts with 221.

             Looking to become the third pitcher ever with three Cy Youngs (Roger Clemens, Jim Palmer), Kluber may not even be with the Indians when he would hypothetically win the award, as he may be traded. In an AL high 215 innings pitched, Kluber struck out 222 batters, with a 2.89 ERA to earn recognition.

             Still hanging on at age 35, Verlander led the American League with 290 strikeouts in 214 innings. His 2.52 ERA was third in the AL behind Snell and Trevor Bauer, and was first in WHIP with a .90 showing. Verlander is still elite.

              I think the ordering should be Snell, Verlander, then probably Indians RHP Trevor Bauer, before his teammate Kluber, but looks like Kluber beat Bauer, so Kluber 3, Bauer 4, then Gerrit Cole, Verlander's teammate, 5th.


               In one of the best individual efforts of all-time, DeGrom won just 10 games and lost 9 on a lowly Mets team that provided no run support. An insane 1.70 ERA led the MLB, and his 269 strikeouts was second. He was tied for first with a .91 WHIP, and tied for third in opponent batting average, with .196.

               Scherzer is a finalist once again, after leading baseball in innings pitched (220.2), and strikeouts, hitting the ultra-impressive 300 K mark. He led the league in opponent batting average with .188, and was tied with DeGrom in WHIP, and finished third in ERA.

               Another big breakout, Nola finished second in ERA, with a 2.37 number, 5th in strikeouts with 224 Ks and 5th in opponent batting average, one point behind DeGrom at .197. He was also third in WHIP at .97.

              I think the order should be DeGrom, Scherzer, Nola, then Mike Folynewicz and Patrick Corbin, with Miles Mikolas trailing Corbin by a little.

2018 MLB MVP predictions

          It's that time of the year again. The finalists for National and American league MVP have been named, as the GM Meetings start. In the AL, it's Red Sox OF Mookie Betts, Indians 3B/2B Jose Ramirez and Angels OF Mike Trout. In the NL, it's Brewers OF Christian Yelich, Rockies 3B Nolan Arenado and Cubs 2B/SS Javier Baez. It's also noteworthy to point out that in almost all of the major categories, the MLB leader comes from the American League. This is true for batting average, home runs, RBIs, stolen bases, runs, OBP, slugging percentage, OPS, doubles and hits.

          While playing in just 136 games, the lowest amount in his career since 2014, Betts led the league in batting average, posting a .346 number that was 16 points higher than the next person, teammate JD Martinez. Betts was part of the 30/30 club for the first time in his career, placing 21st in the league in homers with 32, and ninth in stolen bases with 30. It's also the first time the MLB batting champ was a part of the 30/30 club. He led the MLB in slugging percentage at .640, 11 points higher than Martinez, who was once again in second place. He was also tied with Fransisco Lindor for the league lead in runs with 129.

             Despite not leading the league in any major category, Ramirez was tied with Trout for fourth in the league in homers, with 39, and stole 34 bases, becoming just the 25th player ever to join the 30/30 club, and the 100/100 club (RBIs and runs) in the same season. Beating Betts to 30/30 status, Ramirez became the first player since 2012, and just the fourth third basemen to do so.

              After finishing fourth in MVP voting in a season where he played in just 114 games, Trout is a finalist again, after finishing top two in voting since his age 20 season, 2012, until 2016. Trout led the league in OBP for the third straight season, OPS for the second, and OPS+ for the fourth. He led the American league in walks for the third time, and hit 39 homers with 24 stolen bases. It's also the sixth time he's finished with 100 runs, plus leading the league with 122 RBIs.

               I think the placing should be Betts, then Trout, following by Ramirez. I'd actually put Martinez third over Ramirez, but since Ramirez is the finalist, I guess the writers thought he had a better season. Betts led the World Series winners (not that it matters), and should become the 11th Red Sox player (Ted Williams won two) to win MVP, and first since Dustin Pedroia in 2008.

                Coming over in an offseason trade from the Marlins, Yelich helped the Brewers reach the NLCS, and coming within a game away from their first National League pennant. He led the National League in batting average (.326), slugging percentage (.598) and OPS (1.000). He was third in OBP, too. Yelich hit 36 home runs, beating his previous career high total by 15. He stole 22 bases, beating Baez by one.

                 Arenado hit more than 35 home runs in his fourth straight season, leading the NL with 38. While he didn't reach the 130 RBI plateau for the fourth consecutive year, Arenado finished a strong 110 RBIs. Oh, and he's arguably a top five fielder in baseball.

                 Baez completely surprised everyone in just his third full season. He led the NL with 111 RBIs, just one ahead of both Yelich and Arenado, and hit 34 home runs, he also swiped 21 bases, while hitting .290. This is also when people weren't sure where he was even going to play.

                I think the placing should be Yelich, Baez, Arenado, with Freddie Freeman then Joey Votto rounding out the top five. MVP means most valuable player, and Yelich was way more valuable to his team than any other player in the NL, and deserves to win the title, and win the 5th MVP award in Brewers history, and second in the NL (Ryan Braun, 2011).

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Predicting where these MLB free agents will sign


          Ah, it's MLB free agent season. And for the third consecutive season, I'll be predicting where these free agents will sign, in what will be a record breaking offseason. Oh, and all credit to the players stats when you click on their names goes to baseball-reference.

          SS/3B Manny Machado, Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies have been rumored to be in on Machado, and can make a big splash this offseason. They can afford the 300+ million dollars Machado could be worth, and a trade of JP Crawford after a disappointing 2018 could be for the better, Machado will slide in well at shortstop in an infield that already has rising stars Maikel Franco and Scott Kingery, plus proven first basemen Carlos Santana. This could be a good fit.

            OF Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
I think it can go either way on who is better, Machado or Harper. Both could end up going to the Phillies, but obviously not together. I think that Harper won't get the $400 million people think he will, but still in the $350-375 million range. Many teams won't want to spend that much money on one player, except Harper's original team, the Nationals. The Nats are coming off a bad year, but with Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg and Tanner Roark in the rotation, plus stars Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon and upcoming stars Juan Soto and Victor Robles, the Nats could be a very good team again with Harper. But, with Soto and Robles, plus Adam Eaton in the outfield, you could argue the opposite about the Nats' pursuit of Harper.

             LHP Patrick Corbin, New York Yankees
After having one of the best years you could have as an upcoming free agent with an ERA of 3.15 and 246 strikeouts in 200 innings, Corbin boosted the amount of money he'd get by at least $75 million. A Syracuse native, Corbin grew up a Yankees fan, and the Yankees need starting pitching. It's a match made in heaven.

              LHP Dallas Keuchel, Minnesota Twins
One of my bolder predictions, but the Twins are just one year removed from making the playoffs. In 2018, they finished 22nd in the league in ERA at 4.50. Ervin Santana is now a free agent, with Jose Berrios left in the ace spot. Coming off a down year, Keuchel can certainly help them fight in a bad AL Central division, especially if the Indians are reportedly shopping Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco. Keuchel's 2.6 BB/9 would help a lot, since the Twins were 29th in the league in starting pitching BB/9, with a 3.79 showing.

             RHP Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves
Kimbrel is from Alabama, and made four all-star teams with the Braves from 2010 to 2014, and saved 186 games, breaking team record, before being traded at 26. Now, with just Aroyds Vizcaino and AJ Minter at the back of the Atlanta bullpen, the Braves need Kimbrel more than ever. It would be a perfect time for a reunion.

            DH Nelson Cruz, Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays were one of baseball's biggest surprises in 2018, and finished with 90 wins. But, their 150 home runs as a team was bad enough for 27th in the league. They need to step it up this offseason if they want to make the playoffs over the Twins, A's, Mariners and Angels. At age 38, Cruz will likely only get a one or two year deal, but his 37 homers in 2018 were somehow his lowest amount since 2014. Since that year, he's led all of baseball in home runs with 193. Cruz will probably be limited to DH, but he would be a quality pick up for Tampa Bay.

            LHP Andrew Miller, Arizona Diamondbacks
The D-backs are going to take a big hit soon, with Corbin and AJ Pollock likely leaving, then Paul Goldschmidt next year. But, they can try to improve their bullpen and follow baseball's newest trend. Miller is coming off an injury-riddled year, and posted an ERA of 4.24. But, he had an ERA of under 2.05 every year since 2014, and would still be a quality pickup.

            3B Josh Donaldson, St. Louis Cardinals
A former MVP, Donaldson missed most of last year due to injuries, and almost winded up going to the Cardinals at the waiver trade deadline. He ended up going to the Indians, where he was alright in the final month. The Cardinals need a third basemen, and Donaldson is the best one out there. It makes all the sense in the world for the Cardinals to sign him.

             LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu, Los Angeles Dodgers
Like Corbin, Ryu really impacted his value with a 1.97 ERA in 82.1 innings. I know this may sound anticlimactic, but I think Ryu will accept the $17.9 million qualifying offer the Dodgers offered him. Same with teammate C Yasmani Grandal.

            RHP Nathan Eovaldi, Houston Astros
Eovaldi's amazing postseason with the World Series winning Red Sox boosted his value, making him the best right handed starter out there in a weak market. Eovaldi is from Houston, and his idol and mentor is former Astro Nolan Ryan. He'd replace Charlie Morton, who is likely gone.

            Other predictions:
C Yasmani Grandal, Dodgers
OF Michael Brantley, Mariners
RHP Charlie Morton, Red Sox
C Wilson Ramos, A's
3B Mike Moustakas, Brewers
OF AJ Pollock, Cubs
LHP JA Happ, Yankees
RHP David Robertson, Yankees
LHP Zach Britton, Angels
RHP Jeurys Familia, Cubs
LHP CC Sabathia, Indians
2B Daniel Murphy, Nationals
2B Brian Dozier, Pirates
U Marwin Gonzalez, Astros
LHP Yusei Kikuchi, Padres