Samardzija's value, the Royals' needs, and other sundries
JUN 19, 2014 1:41p ET
Just some things bouncing around in my head this morning . . .
• From Jayson Stark’s latest column:
Would the Cubs have an easier time signing Samardzija if the Reds hadn't handed Homer Bailey that six-year, $105 million extension in February? "You'd have to ask them," said one NL exec. "But has there been a deal that changed the landscape more than that deal? If he's a $100 million guy, it means every team's got a No. 3 [starter] who's worth $100 million. Right?"
This was in the wake of the news that Samardzija spurned the Cubs’ five-year offer for upwards of $85 million. Which seems like pretty good money to me, for a 29-year-old pitcher without a long history of real success. Forget about that, though. This thing about Bailey . . . since Opening Day of 2013, Bailey’s been almost exactly the same pitcher as Samardzija. Which supports the notion that Samardzija should hold out for Bailey money. Are they both No. 3 starters, though? Depending on how you measure these things, they’re either among the top dozen or 16 or 24 starters in the National League. There are 15 teams in the National League. By definition, then, doesn’t that make Samardzija a No. 2 starter on most clubs, at worst?
And yes, this is what No. 2 starters are worth. Or at least what they’re getting. I’ll be surprised if Samardzija is worth $18 million when he’s 36 or 37. As Jurgen Klinsmann so pointedly said about American professional sports, “Why do you pay for what has already happened?”
• I’m not nearly smart enough to know if Effective Velocity really has the potential to change Pitching As We Know It. Hell, I’m not at all sure if I want pitching changed; after all, the pitchers are already doing pretty well for themselves. But I am smart enough to know that Jason Turbow’s story about Effective Velocity and its adherents — including Cleveland’s Trevor Bauer — might be the most thought-provoking thing you read this week.
• Yes, Raul Ibañez sports a .153 batting average in 187 plate appearances. Yes, he’s 42 years old. But no, the Angels aren’t giving up on him yet. Which, yes, might seem exceptionally strange. Especially with young C.J. Cron on the roster. But I’m not yet convinced that an Ibañez/Cron platoon won’t work. Because while Ibañez’s batting average is .153, his strikeout percentage and . . . okay, I’m not sure we can analyze our way out of this one. Ibañez’s ground-ball rate and strikeout rates are up, his line-drive rate down. His walk rate’s up, actually the highest of his career. But all this just seems the result of a slower bat, no? Ibañez’s sudden lack of power seems bizarre and probably won’t last forever. But considering his .306 on-base percentage last season, do you really want to pin your season on him?
• Rookie Chase Whitley is keeping the Yankees in the running, practically all by himself. With the Yankees’ rotation practically reduced to Masahiro Tanaka and Hiroki Kuroda, Whitley came aboard and now has a 2.56 ERA in seven starts. He’s got a tremendous strikeout-to-walk ratio, and has allowed just one homer in 39 innings. All this from a marginal prospect who made only eight professional starts before this season. I don’t know how to explain it. I don’t know how anyone can explain it. Except as Ordinary Baseball Weirdness.
• David Ortiz’s petulance regarding scorers’ decisions seems to have almost no bounds. Well, he hasn’t actually clambered up to the press box in the middle of a game and assaulted anyone. So there’s that, I guess. But when a 38-year-old man repeatedly insults (relatively) ill-paid professionals doing their best — here’s just the latest example — it’s hard to do anything but shake your head. Even if Ortiz is correct on the merits of the individual cases, public insults are simply inappropriate. If I were the Commissioner and had the power, I would fine him a day’s pay every time. There is, after all, a process in place for appealing such things.
• Also according to Jayson Stark, the white-hot Royals won’t be looking to bolster their roster until the middle of July. And “If the Royals do turn into buyers, they've been asking about right fielders and bullpen arms who could be available.”
Which seems very strange! Because their bullpen has been tremendous. Their top five guys, anyway. I do realize that today’s managers want eight or nine tremendous pitchers in the bullpen, but that seems quite the luxury. As for right field, they have a pretty good right fielder already in Nori Aoki. Well, he was supposed to be pretty good. Instead he’s performed well under his projection . . . but exactly the same is true of Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler, and Mike Moustakas. It’s actually hard to pinpoint a real area of need for the Royals, since almost everybody in the lineup was supposed to be pretty good (and if they were supposed to be good, they probably will be good). The bullpen was supposed to be good, and has been good (or amazing, in the cases of Greg Holland and especially Wade Davis). The rotation has been surprisingly good, mostly due to Yordano Ventura and Danny Duffy. Well, and also because Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Vargas have seriously outperformed their DIPS.
Can all these guys keep doing what they’ve been doing? Frankly, James Shields is the only starter who seems truly trustworthy. But considering what it would cost to pry loose Samardzija or David Price, the Royals probably have to just ride the guys they’ve got and hope for the best. Usually I would preach aggressiveness, but in this case waiting a few more weeks might actually be the best thing. See if Moose or Nori find themselves.
• Finally, our Ken Rosenthal points out that Miami’s Casey McGehee a) ranks fifth in the National League with 44 RBI, and b) has hit one home run all season. We’re talking about a 220-pound third baseman who hit 23 homers with the Brewers just four years ago. McGehee reportedly changed his approach while playing in Japan last year. And it’s obviously working for him. Sort of. I can’t help wondering if his .366 BABiP is sustainable. History isn’t on his side, here.
Meanwhile, history is on the side of those who follow Rob Neyer on Twitter.