Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Upgrading Second (or Third?) Base

Image stolen from The Star

Alright, so Brett Lawrie's out for another couple weeks, which means that if the Jays weren't standing pat figuring out what to do with the 2B situation before, they definitely aren't now.  I think we can all agree that Lawrie moving to 2B was a temporary solution, and that is made pretty evident by the way Juan Francisco has swung the bat in the last month or so.

Francisco, for the year, is swinging a .235/.315/.530 bat (128 OPS+), and that's certainly some decent production relative to other 3B's.  He's the lefty part of a platoon, and when he isn't being exposed to lefty pitching, he's obviously better, coming with a .264/.344/.586 line vs. RHP.  Things could be worse, especially when the next best option is, like, Munenori Kawasaki or Steve Tolleson or Jonathan Diaz or Ryan Goins or whoever.

The obvious problem here is that the bulk of Francisco's production came early on in the season.  Humor me while I cherry-pick some stats. I kind of guesstimated where the halfway point would fall, as far as plate appearances are concerned, so as to not make this a completely arbitrary endpoint, so there's still a flaw in what I'm doing here, but still; In Francisco's first 26 games with the Jays this season (102 PA's), he hit .292/.373/.629, with 8 HR's, 11 walks, and 36 strikeouts.  Since then, he's played 29 games (23 starts, 82 PA's) and has batted .173/.244/.413 with 4 HR's, 6 walks, and 33 strikeouts.  I'm sure I could make that look worse if I tried, but whatever, that's not the point.

The point is that he had a really hot start, and has sucked since, and teams are now adjusting to his tendencies of SWANGing and not being able to handle a breaking ball.  Despite the red-hot start, his offensive numbers for the season (slash-wise, anyway), when adjusted for park and league, are almost perfectly in line with his career numbers.

Which isn't saying anything in one way or another... he's a perfectly serviceable as a platoony-type backup guy that can fill in when Brett Lawrie can go play 2B and Ryan Goins is seriously considered as a candidate or whatever.

Which brings us to Steve Tolleson, I guess.  He's kind of the bizarro-Francisco, with less power and more defense.  He also has 3 hits in June.  Neither he, nor Juan Francisco are exactly world-beaters.  Both have holes in their swings, and neither are especially good defensively (Tolleson doesn't exactly have a reasonable sample though).

So yeah, Lawrie in a month or so, at which time, he'll come back in the lineup everyday, hopefully taking Tolleson and Francisco's place, as opposed to taking Muni's.  I say this, because I'm hoping Muni's spot gets replaced long before then.

Ideally, Lawrie can go back to 3B everyday, and the Jays can find someone who plays 2B. In theory, however, Lawrie can play 2B everyday if needed, which means the Jays are on the lookout for either a 2B or a 3B, which certainly widens the talent pool from which to search.  Let's have a look, the same way we did pitchers last week.

AL East

As is always the case, trades from within the division are rare.  The Yankees and Orioles are certainly still in the thick of it, and aren't going to strengthen the Jays.  The Red Sox aren't likely to help out either, and certainly aren't doing so in the form of Dustin Pedroia.  The Rays are pretty unlikely to trade Ben Zobrist within the division, but it would be friggin' awesome if they did.  He can play several positions serviceably, is still very good with the bat (walks!), and is still under contract next season for cheap.  If the Rays decide the Zobrist is available, he'd be a worthy upgrade for several teams, so the price should be steep.

AL Central

The Tigers aren't selling, and don't have anything really all that good in the infield anyway.  The Royals probably aren't either, though they may look to dangle Omar Infante if someone were to make an offer.

I don't think Cleveland opts to move any of Kipnis, Santana or Chisenhall, but they really need pitching, so who knows?  Still doubt it.

I wonder what the Twins would want for Trevor Plouffe.  He's going to start getting expensive (2nd time through arbitration this coming season), and the Twins have a couple of infield prospects coming through the pipeline that they might rather give playing time to.  Plouffe's numbers are deflated thanks to playing in some shitty ballparks (Minnesota, Detroit), but he still shows some power, the ability to walk, and versatility around the field.  Mashes lefties too. Let's get that done.

As far as the White Sox go, they might want to move Gordon Beckham, but that doesn't really scream upgrade.  He can get on base and kind of hit one out of the park by accident.  He's mashing lefties this year, but is usually pretty neutral as far as platoons go.  He's under control next year as well.  Might be a fit, but meh.  Conor Gillaspie is having a career year offensively, but upon closer observation, he's got a .388 babip and is a platoon guy at best.

AL West

The A's are buying, and probably kind of like what they have going on in their infield. The Angels aren't going to sell while they're in the wild card lead, unless it's a swap of something that they can address a weakness with.  There's nothing extra there, and they don't have any glaring weaknesses.  The Mariners currently hold the 2nd wild card, so unless they fall apart, they'll be buying as well.  Plus, Cano and Seager aren't likely to go anywhere.

Would the Rangers trade Adrian Beltre?  I doubt it, but maybe?  They need to make room for Profar with one of Andrus, Odor and Beltre, but that probably won't be an issue that they address until the offseason.  Odor isn't exactly a blue-chipper, so it might not even matter.

The Astros don't need to trade any of their infielders, as they're all either young, not good yet and under control for a while, or Jose Altuve, who is young, under control for a while, and good.

NL East

Atlanta is actually probably looking for a 2B, what with Dan Uggla being terrible and all.  The Nats apparently don't want to trade Danny Espinosa, but a change of scenery might do him some good.  There's going to be a little roster crunch when Bryce Harper comes back, and the odd man out will either be Espinosa or Denard Span, though both would be entirely serviceable bench bats, of which you need plenty in the NL.  The Marlins will sell if they come back to earth, which seems pretty likely.  Casey McGehee would be really interesting if he becomes available, but again, the Marlins would need to start losing soon.

The Mets probably don't want to trade Daniel Murphy, but that would be a nice fit if they change their tune.  Murphy is a good hitter, fields a respectable 2B, and has a year of control left after this season.  The Mets, though, apparently don't want to trade him at the moment, according to everything about him on MLBTR today.  You'd better believe that the Jays are in if Murphy is available though.

As far as the Phillies go, Utley has already said that he won't waive his no-trade clause, and the Phillies probably aren't going to trade him anyway.  There are no other options here, so let's move on.

NL Central

The Brewers are in the lead in that division, but they could still feasibly move Rickie Weeks, not that he's done anything of note in 3 years now.  The Cardinals are either sitting pretty in the infield, or buying something, so they're out of the question.

I'm not sure the Reds or Pirates believe that they're out of it yet, but if they do decide to sell, I don't really see a fit.  Nobody in the Pirates middle infield is all that good, and the Pirates seem to enjoy Pedro Alvarez too.  The Reds would probably trade Brandon Phillips if someone came asking, but he's signed through 2017 for like $72MM or something.  Todd Frazier seems pretty much entrenched in Cincinnati, but you never know.

Luis Valbuena is suddenly good, so maybe the Cubs sell high on him?  Otherwise, there's nothing useful there.

NL West

The Giants haven't gotten much production from 2B, and they'll look to improve there if Joe Panik doesn't pan out.  The Dodgers are buyers.

The Diamondbacks have Aaron Hill and Martin Prado, if they choose to sell, but Aaron Hill might be back to being bad Aaron Hill, and he's under contract through 2016, so if he is bad again, then it's an all too familiar albatrossy kind of thing.  Martin Prado might suck now too, actually.  Striking out more, walking less, decrease in power, etc.  Prado is also signed through 2016, although he has a much better history of being good than Hill, so there may be something left in that particular tank.

The Padres might trade Chase Headley, but it might be too late for them to get any real value from him.  He'd be a pure rental, he's making $10.5MM, and he might not even be league-average anymore.  Might be a flyer, especially getting him out of Petco.

Finally, with the Rockies, I'm not sure why they'd trade LeMehieu or Rutledge since they're both still young and cheap, nor am I certain either is an upgrade, but it could happen, I guess.

So yeah, there are a few candidates at 2B, but it's expanding the search field to 3B that really makes a few options appear.  I kind of like the idea of Trevor Plouffe if the Jays are in to cheap options, but there are some bigger names that could really bring the house down if they're available and, more specifically, available to the Blue Jays.  Zobrist, Beltre and Murphy would all be big additions for this year and next, but again, it's unknown whether those guys are available and if the Jays have what it would take to get that deal done.

No comments:

Post a Comment