Tag Archives: Mookie Betts

Jerad Eickhoff not as bad as the 2017 record looks

Most of the talk surrounding the Philadelphia Phillies these days rightly involves two main topics. First is just how bad the current group of placeholder players is performing.
The other major topic revolves around when the Phillies will begin to promote some of its better minor league prospects. And which of those prospects will get the call first?
Management is evaluating the current players to determine which will be here for the long-term. A look over the active roster shows that there are very few such candidates. Maybe three or four position players at best.
But on the mound, the Phillies developing pitching staff is a different story. A number of the current arms have a chance to stick around for the next few years.
One of those arms is starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff. The soon to be 27-year old right-hander is struggling through a difficult individual season.
Eickhoff enters his start on Saturday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks with an 0-7 record. He carries a 5.09 ERA, 1.528 WHIP, and an ERA+ mark at just 85 through 13 starting assignments. Eickhoff has allowed 81 hits over 70.2 innings with a 63/27 K:BB ratio.
There are a few encouraging signs, however, when you continue glancing at Eickhoff’s 2017 stat line. His 4.20 FIP mark is just a tick higher than the 4.19 he posted last year in what was considered a successful season. After yielding 30 home runs last year, his nine thus far in 2017 leave him on pace to allow a few less this season.
In nine of Eickhoff’s 13 starts he has gotten the Phillies into the sixth inning. He has allowed three or fewer earned runs in eight of those 13 starts.

ENCOURAGING RECENT OUTINGS

His two most recent appearances came on the road at Atlanta and Boston. He surrendered 11 hits over 11 innings with a 10/3 K:BB ratio.
However, one bad pitch resulted in a Dansby Swanson home run and cost him against the Braves. “I did a really good job except for the one pitch,” said Eickhoff per Philly.com’s Matt Breen. “That’s the most frustrating part. You look at the scoreboard and see three runs from that homer. That’s not any indication of how things have went.”
At Fenway Park, he was handed a 4-0 first inning lead. But then Eickhoff was tagged by Mookie Betts for three doubles in four innings. The young Boston star outfielder has victimized many big league pitchers already in his short career. “These guys did a really good job of getting us out to a good lead, and I was just trying to keep us in the game the best I could,” said the pitcher per Reuters.

LONG-TERM BACK-END STARTING PITCHER

Eickhoff, obtained by the Phillies from the Texas Rangers as one piece of the huge haul for Cole Hamels, is never going to be an ace. His strong performances in 2015 following that deal, and then last year, left some misguided fans and writers thinking that he had that type of potential.
The Phillies don’t need Eickhoff to be an ace. They need him to be what his talent and personality say that he should be, a solid back-end starting pitcher for the next four to five years.
Eickhoff has indeed been hit a little more this season, and his command and control have been off. Chuck Booth at FanSided’s Section 215 pointed out that the solution may be as simple as the reintroduction of the changeup to Eickhoff’s repertoire.
Whatever Eickhoff’s issues, he does not appear to be very far off based on what I saw in those last two performances. They were far more indicative of his bulldog ability to fight to keep the club in the game. He is certainly not an 0-7 pitcher, talent-wise.
As the Phillies continue to evaluate their future, my bet would be that Eickhoff finds himself a key piece. The role will be as a workhorse, back-end starting pitcher. Hopefully tonight’s outing at Citizens Bank Park proves to be a step back towards more consistent results of that type.

Red Sox 2016 POY: Mookie Betts

The Boston Red Sox finished 93-69, recovering from back-to-back last place finishes to win the American League East Division crown.
The BoSox were quickly swept out of the American League Division Series in three straight games by the eventual pennant-winning Cleveland Indians, with two of the three decided by a single run. 
While manager John Farrell and his team were disappointed in the postseason ending, this was a big year for a number of young players who are paving the way for future Boston success.

Red Sox 2016 Statistical Leaders

One of those youngsters was 23-year-old shortstop Xander Bogaerts. He hit .294 with a .356 on-base percentage, producing 21 homers, 89 RBI, and 115 runs scored.
26-year-old center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is one of the best defenders in the game today. This year he stepped up his offensive contributions with 26 home runs, 87 RBI, and 94 runs scored.
26-year-old third baseman Travis Shawchipped in with 16 homers and 71 RBI. Outfielder Andrew Benintendi is just 21 years old. He hit .295 with a .359 on-base percentage, roping 11 doubles while producing 14 RBI and 16 runs scored in just 118 plate appearances. He retains rookie eligibility for the 2017 season.
A trio of veterans produced big numbers for Boston this season. Hanley Ramirez and Dustin Pedroia manned the right side of the field, while David Ortiz wound down his possible Hall of Famer career with a final big year.
Ramirez hit .286/.361/.505 with 30 homers, 28 doubles, 111 RBI, and 81 runs scored. Pedroia hit .318 with a .376 on-base percentage. He cracked 15 homers and 36 doubles with 74 RBI and 105 runs scored.
Big Papi hit for a .315 average and led the club with a .401 on-base percentage, .620 slugging percentage, 38 home runs, 127 RBI, 48 doubles, and a 1.021 OPS.

Red Sox Pitching Also Produced

On the mound, Rick Porcello won the AL Cy Young Award. He went 22-9 with a 3.15 ERA and 1.009 WHIP. He allowed 193 hits over 223 innings with a 189/32 K:BB ratio.
Veteran David Price won 17 games while leading the staff with 35 starts, 230 innings pitched, and 228 strikeouts. Steven Wright went 13-6 with a 3.33 ERA, allowing just 138 hits in 156.2 innings with 127 strikeouts.
Closer Craig Kimbrel once again dominated as he registered 31 saves. Kimbrel allowed just 28 hits in 53 innings over 57 games with an 83/30 K:BB ratio.

Betts Is the Best

The top player this season for the BoSox was young right fielder Mookie Betts. Playing the season as a 23-year-old (he turned 24 last month), Betts hit for a .318/.363/.534 slash line. Betts was second on the club with 31 homers and 113 RBI, and led the squad with 42 doubles, 122 runs scored, and 26 stolen bases.
For his outstanding season, Betts was a first-time AL All-Star. He also won his first Silver Slugger and Gold Glove Awards. He also finished as a solid runner-up in the AL MVP voting to Mike Trout.
Back in mid-August, Scott Lauber of ESPN quoted Boston reliever Robbie Ross after a typical Betts 2016 performance.
“He’s just got hands. Sometimes that’s all you need. Sometimes you need all the muscle and everything, but it’s just about connecting and gliding with that baseball…it’s the guys who are quiet and don’t try and hit for a massive amount of power that hit it in the upper deck, guys who stay through it and let the bat do the work. He’s throwing his hands through it, and it’s just jumping off his bat. It’s awesome.”
Betts underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee last week, but is expected to be ready for 2017 Spring Training. For the 2016 season, Mookie Betts was the Boston Red Sox Player of the Year.

Nine First-Timers Among 2016 Gold Glove Award Winners

The 2016 MLB Gold Glove Awards were announced last night, and there were nine first-timers among the honorees.

When MLB announced the 2016 Gold Glove Award winners for fielding excellence last night, a total of nine first-timers were among the honorees across the two leagues.
In the National League, center fielder Ender Inciarte of the Atlanta Braves, second baseman Joe Panik and catcher Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants, and first baseman Anthony Rizzo from the world champion Chicago Cubs were all first-time winners.
In the American League,  Brett Gardner of the New York Yankees in left field and Mookie Betts of the rival Boston Red Sox in right field each won their first Gold Glove Award.
On the infield in the AL, first baseman Mitch Moreland of the Texas Rangers, second baseman Ian Kinsler of the Detroit Tigers, and shortstop Francisco Lindor of the pennant-winning Cleveland Indians all won their first career Gold Glove Award.

Others receiving a Gold Glove Award as previous honorees included left fielder Starling Marte (2) of the Pittsburgh Pirates and right fielder Jason Heyward (4) of the Cubs in right field in the National League.
Shortstop Brandon Crawford (2) of the Giants, third baseman Nolan Arenado (4) of the Colorado Rockies, and pitcher Zack Greinke (3) of the Los Angeles Dodgers were multiple-time NL winners.
In the American League, center fielder Kevin Kiermaier of the Tampa Bay Rays won his second career Gold Glove, pitcher Dallas Keuchel of the Houston Astros took his third, and catcher Salvador Perez of the Kansas City Royals won his fourth.
The final winner in the American League is third baseman Adrian Beltre of the Rangers. It was a fifth career Gold Glove Award for Beltre, another notch in his future Baseball Hall of Fame belt.
The Rawlings Gold Glove Awards are voted on annually by managers and coaches in each league, with those managers and coaches not permitted to vote for players from their own teams.
Baseball glove manufacturer Rawlings created the Gold Glove Awards back in 1957 to honor the best fielders at each position in both leagues.
Pitcher Greg Maddux won 18 career Gold Gloves, the most by any single player of all-time. Pitcher Jim Kaat and third baseman Brooks Robinson each won 16, holding second place on the career list.

MLB 2016 Prediction: AL Most Valuable Player

Our staff at the Fansided blog “That Ball’s Outta Here” (TBOH) has just released our predictions for the final standings in each division, as well as our postseason predictions, including the 2016 World Series winner. 
I released my own predictions for the Phillies in the coming season as well.
Our staff continued by releasing our predictions for some of MLB’s major award winners, including the Cy Young Award in each league, as well as the Rookie of the Year Awards.
We’ll wrap our predictions today by releasing our picks for the front-runners for American and National League Most Valuable Player, as well as our pick for the first manager to be fired this season in Major League Baseball.
A year ago, there was a definite tiered status to the AL MVP voting. The winner was Josh Donaldson of the Toronto Blue Jays. The 3rd baseman had an outstanding .297/.371/.568 slash line with 41 homers, 123 RBI and 122 runs scored.
Donaldson was followed in the voting by the 2014 AL MVP, Mike Trout, who finished as the runner-up for the third time in his four full big league seasons. 

Behind Trout was outfielder Lorenzo Cain of the world champion Kansas City Royals, who had the breakout campaign that many had been predicting. Cain was followed by young Baltimore Orioles 3rd baseman Manny Machado.
Each of those top four finishers from a year ago is likely to be a perennial contender over the next few seasons as well. 
In TBOH staff voting, we went with Trout as our consensus favorite. The Millville, New Jersey native was named the favorite on half of our eight ballots.
Predictions
Others receiving a vote were phenomenal young Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa, 5-tool Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts, slugging veteran Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista, and the man known simply as ‘Big Papi’, David Ortiz, who is beginning his final season as the Boston Red Sox designated hitter and team leader.
As long as he remains healthy, it is always going to be easy to vote for Trout as a Most Valuable Player candidate. 
He is one of the most talented players to step on to a baseball diamond in decades, a Griffey or Bonds-like talent so obvious as to be impossible to ignore.
The problem for him may become the team surrounding him. It can become tough to actually win if your team is struggling, especially when there are outstanding candidates helping carry other teams to postseason berths. 
Trout is going to have to find a way to elevate the performances of those around him if he wants to keep putting MVP trophies on his mantle piece, and not simply finishing among the voting leaders.

Hanley and the Panda to Boston

The Boston Red Sox have agreed to longterm contracts with a pair of big name free agents, Hanley Ramirez and Pablo ‘Kung Fu Panda’ Sandoval.

MLB sources have told the Boston Globe that both deals are for 5 years, with Ramirez’ in the $90 million and Sandoval in the $100 million range.

This is as clear a sign as any that the Bosox are not happy with having followed up their 2nd World Series title in 3 years in 2013 with their 2nd last place finish in 3 years in 2014.

While the adding of big name free agents is exciting for a fan base, the more important factors involve how those players will actually fit your current needs. The fact is that the Red Sox already owned a number of exciting offensive options, both in established players and in high-ceiling prospects.

The acquisition of both Ramirez and Sandoval brings a ton of risk to the organization at great monetary cost without addressing their most glaring need.
They still need at least two more established, talented starting pitching options than they currently possess. And they could use more reliability in the pen as well.

The risk side involves both players physical ability to perform through the contracts. Hanley, who turns 31 years old next month, has missed big chunks of 2 of the last 4 seasons with injuries, not including a piece of this last 2014 season. Sandoval, one of the game’s proven “clutch” postseason hitters, is limited offensively over the course of a 162-game season. He also has a chronic weight issue that is only going to affect him more as he approaches and passes age 30.

Ramirez is going to play left field, and Sandoval will play 3rd base. With Cuban signee Rusney Castillo expected to take over the everyday role in centerfield, and with Yoenis Cespedes in right, this creates a blockade for a number of young players and prospects deserving of and ready for increased playing time.

Mookie Betts is clearly ready to play every day. He can play 2nd base, where Dustin Pedroia is entrenched, or in the now-jammed outfield. Jackie Bradley Jr is perhaps the best defensive outfielder in the game today. He has not yet shown he can hit on a consistent basis, but he appears ready for at least a shot at an every day role.

Catcher Blake Swihart just before and 3rd baseman Garin Cecchini just after Opening Day each turn 23 years old, and are both nearly ready. Will Middlebrooks is 26, and certainly ready for an everyday 3rd base role. Every one of these 5 youngsters is now blocked for the foreseeable future. Panda blocking the 3rd sackers, and 24-year old Christian Vazquez as catcher.

Kung Fu Panda joins Hanley in beefing up Bosox lineup

There is much speculation that with these signings, that the Red Sox may renew pursuit of a pitcher, such as the Phillies’ available ace Cole Hamels. If they led such a deal with young shortstop Xander Bogaerts and included any 2 of these other 5, the Phils likely pull the trigger. 24-year old pitchers Matt Barnes and Allen Webster are two other potential prospects figuring in such trade talks.

Some Boston fans would love the Phillies to take Cespedes for Hamels. That is a pipe dream. Cespedes is indeed talented. However, he turned 29 last month, and becomes a free agent after next season. Neither of those things fits into the Phillies stated rebuilding plans. If he were to agree to an affordable extension, then perhaps he works as a piece along with a couple of the prospects, but that is not likely to happen.

Whatever happens with the Phillies and Red Sox, Boston clearly needs to do something big, probably a couple somethings, involving the addition of pitching if it truly wants to come back immediately to Series contention from it’s last place finish in what is becoming an increasingly competitive division and league.

What they have shown with the signings of their one-time prospect Hanley Ramirez and the Panda are that they are not content to wait for the dice-roll development of admittedly talented kids. Now we likely will see which of those kid prospects they are willing and able to part with in order to fix the remaining pitching holes.