Dave Parker 1982 Topps – Batting Cage Card!! Another batting cage card. And another hitting superstar getting ready to go to work!! Dave Parker does not get the credit he deserves for being one of the best hitters of his … Continue reading →
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After Josh Hamilton signed a 5 year-$125 million dollar deal with the Los Angeles Angels, the Texas Rangers signed Lance Berkman to a 1 year-$11 million dollar deal. Berkman did spend the majority of the 2012 season the disabled list, but the Rangers are paying Berkman for his future performance. Dave Cameron of FanGraphs looked into whether Lance Berkman is actually a cheaper version of Josh Hamilton. The article can be read here.
At 37, we shouldn’t expect Berkman to be an everyday player, but as a DH with big platoon splits, he doesn’t need to be. He plays the easiest position on the field to run a platoon at, and with the Rangers depth, they can afford to have Berkman spend a few weeks on the sidelines if the aches and pains start to add up.
Berkman will be the primary DH for the Rangers this season, and even though he's getting up there in age he has shown that he can still be productive. Berkman only played in 32 games last season, but offensively he showed that he can still contribute. He posted a 125 wRC+, and over the past few seasons he hasn't had a wRC+ lower than 114.
Even though Hamilton played 150 gamers in 2012, he is as much of an injury risk as Berkman is. From 2009-2011 Hamilton only averaged 114 games a season, so it's likely that both will miss some amount of time during the 2013 season.
Question for the community:
1) What are your overall impressions of the Berkman deal?
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As we wait to learn which, if any, Astros made the Hall of Fame, here's a collection of TCB's work on the subject this week.
Sorry, everyone. I thought I had this scheduled for 8 a.m. this morning, but we had a glitch on the back end. Will be back with a Biggio piece in a few hours...
On Wednesday, we'll officially hear whether a bunch of former Astros make the Hall of Fame. Oh, and probably Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell, too. There have been a ton of conversations already on the HOF, with some great points made. My favorite so far came from Astros County, who asked a simple question: has any Hall voter asked one of the reporters who covered Houston in the 1990's about steroids in that clubhouse.
For the most part, that answer was no.
I'll get into individual Hall arguments a little bit later today with a piece on Craig Biggio, but my main problem is with the focus on steroids in the first place. Where is the moral outrage over football players using steroids and still making it to hallowed ground? Where is the outrage over many, many other transgressions that actual Hall of Famers made during their careers? Do we throw out everyone who played during baseball's segregation era, on the suspicion that they were racist, too?
You've heard those arguments before. My philosophy is simple, though, and it's one I'm going to keep with me as I strive to get one of those HOF votes someday. A player is a Hall of Famer if he played like one. Was he the best of the best? Does he deserve his name written into the history of the game in big golden letters? Bonds sure does, along with Clemens, Schilling, Bagwell and Biggio. I have no problem with all of them as Hall of Famers, and my opinion of current players like Alex Rodriguez won't change just because of PEDs.
If Ryan Braun keeps up his ridiculous stats for another 10 years, I'd probably vote for him despite all the intrigue last year. But my vote would be based on his performance, not his performance enhancing history.
I'm tired of hearing about blank ballots or guys refusing to vote for players on their first ballot. Let's hope we don't have to talk about it much more and that both Bidge and Bags get in this time around.
In case you missed it, TCB made Deadspin!
Yeah...I always figured it'd be Tim out acting like a drunken sailor that got us there, but surprise, surprise, it was our commenters. Now, while I don't agree with the fairness of this exercise (c'mon, picking on internet commenters, Ben Lindberg, I thought you were better than that...), it did strike a nerve because it hit on something I'd been mulling recently.
If Giancarlo Stanton were really available, should a team like Houston trade for him? In fact, I talked about the same thing last winter when Justin Upton hit the market and the same thought came to me when David Price was said to be available.
Young players don't hit the market often, so teams could really pick up a lot of future contributions by making these deals. They'd absolutely help Houston and continue to help the Astros when Houston is ready to contend. Price could be an ace to lead the rotation through the upbringing of McCullers and Tropeano. Stanton could anchor the order for Singleton and Correa.
Every prospect in the system should be on the table for those players. But...
But, on the Astros end, how much could they hope to get out of these players. Say they trade for David Price. He's awesome as usual, gives them a true ace, helps in the clubhouse and increases Houston's win total by six to eight wins a year. Maybe.
How long would he stay with the team? He's just coming off a dodgy situation in Tampa. Wouldn't he want to hit free agency, and wouldn't Houston have a hard time retaining him?
That's the problem with trading for big names when Houston is in this stage of the game. It makes sense if they're on the cusp of winning or if they've started winning a little. Right now, I'm not sure it makes a ton of sense, which is a little depressing.
On Friday, Houston announced the minor league field staffs, including some innovative ways it will use guys like Morgan Ensberg and Adam Everett. Ensberg will be a developmental specialist, focusing on individual areas on homestands with the team.
Ensberg will help infielders at Lancaster next season, so we should assume he'll be working with who? DDJ? Nolan Fontana? Jean Batista? There will be an outfield/baserunning coach at Quad Cities (for Brett Phillips and Ariel Ovando?) another infielding coach at OKC (for Villar?) and a catching specialist in Mark Bailey in Corpus (for Heineman?).
Nice to see Vince Coleman in the mix, but very good to see Everett and Ensberg back in the fold. Everett will spread his general awesome fielding to the major league team, turning Matt Dominguez into some sort of human vacuum at third and making Jose Altuve grow four inches, I'm sure.
This whole concept is a neat way to utilize some good baseball minds and is showing some of the out-of-the-box thinking Houston is doing on the player development side. Good job, Astros.
Well, it looks like one of the big boppers left on the market, Adam LaRoche, has gone ahead and re-signed with the Washington Nationals.
From Nats Insider: The Nationals' unwillingness to budge on their longstanding, two-year offer to Adam LaRoche paid off in the end. LaRoche today agreed to the deal after failing to find another club willing to give the free agent first baseman the three-year contract he sought all along. The contract guarantees $24 million, according to a source familiar with the details. LaRoche will earn salaries of $10 million in 2013 and $12 million in 2014, with a $2 million buyout in 2015 if either side elects not to pick up a mutual option.
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Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo never budged on his two-year offer, explaining his rationale to LaRoche in person: With every other position on the field locked up through at least 2105, Rizzo wanted to ensure at least some long-term roster flexibility.
So LaRoche set off to find if any other organizations were willing to offer three year contracts, with the Red Sox, Rangers and Orioles among the potential suitors. None of those clubs, though, was willing to go to a third year, in part because none wanted to give up the draft pick that would have been required after the Nationals made a $13.3 million qualifying offer to LaRoche in early November.
Rizzo all along felt that qualifying offer -- which also would have guaranteed draft pick compensation to the Nationals had LaRoche signed elsewhere -- would help increase the chances of the first baseman staying in D.C. And the GM was proven correct.
LaRoche was no doubt looking for a long-term deal and big payday based on his gaudy numbers from the 2012 season.
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It's being reported that the Washington Nationals have signed Adam LaRoche to a two year deal, essentially meaning that Michael Morse will be on the move. Blaine Bontz of MLB Daily Dish has it covered here:
LaRoche entered the offseason seeking a three-year deal, but teams, including the Nationals, were only offering the slugger a two-year commitment. He continued to hold out for the third guaranteed year, but it appears he relented and will re-sign with Washington.
The past three seasons LaRoche and Morse have been worth roughly 5 fWAR, with Morse producing better offensive numbers and LaRoche posting better defensive numbers. Last season was a different story though. LaRoche was the much better player offensively, posting a 127 wRC+ compared to Morse's wRC+ of 113. LaRoche also displayed better power numbers. He had a .238 ISO compared to Morse's .180 ISO.
Overall LaRoche was worth 3.5 more wins than Morse. LaRoche is getting paid $24 million, so to be worth the contract he only needs to be worth 5 wins the next two seasons. If he can still produce offensively he should be able to pay off the contract when it's up. The Nationals can probably get a reliever for Morse, so ultimately it comes down to if you prefer Laroch/reliever or Morse/cash.
Question for the community:
1) What side would you prefer? Would you rather have Morse/cash or LaRoche/reliever
Before I begin, let me introduce myself. I'm Curtis Leister, and I'm a new writer on the TCB staff. I'm excited to experience the upcoming season and off season with knowledgeable fans of the team I care the deepest about. My Astros fandom began in 2000 (I never saw a game in the Astrodome....you feel old now huh?) so I had a chance to see one of the best players to ever put on as Astros uniform firsthand.
2013 marks the third year Jeff Bagwell's name appears on the Hall of Fame ballot. Last year, he garnered 56% of the vote (up from 41.7% of the vote in 2011), a strong showing for a guy whose numbers, though Hall-caliber, don't exactly wow all of the Hall of Fame voters . The question of Bagwell's induction is almost certainly a "when, not if" case; a 56% showing in the second year is a strong indicator of future inclusion. However, Bagwell's candidacy has been the subject of considerable debate on two fronts; first, his speculated use of PEDs, and second and more simply, his statistical record. I won't get into the PED debate in this article, though Andy of the Houston Counterplot blog defended Bagwell on SI writer Jeff Pearlman's blog earlier this week. Pearlman doesn't have a HOF vote, but he nonetheless has repeatedly implicated Bagwell (and Biggio) for PED use.
Based on pure memory of Bagwell's time in the majors, I was initially a bit skeptical of his career statistics when compared with other players of his time. Did he produce enough compared to the likes of Sosa, McGwire, Giambi and Griffey? Were his stats really Hall worthy when compared not just to his contemporaries, but across MLB history? After delving into his statistic record, the answer was a resounding yes.
Bagwell gained a reputation as a slugger through the course of his career, and rightfully so. He racked up 2314 hits and a .297 batting average to go along with his 449 home runs. He was a pure hitter, but his power numbers are still what he will be remembered by. Advanced statistics have been very kind to Bagwell's candidacy. His career OPS stands at .948, while his adjusted OPS+ at 149. Those numbers rank 22nd and 38th respectively on the career leaderboards. The modern metrics don't stop there though; Bagwell's career WPA (win probability added to his team) is 59.31, good for 19th all time. Bagwell's presence in an Astros uniform added 59 wins over the course of his career. That's a better number than Tony Gwynn, Mike Schmidt and Willie Stargell. What do those three all-timers have in common? All were first ballot Hall of Famers.
Career records are a great indicator of consistency of a player's career, but single season feats allow us to see just how dominant a player was in a certain season. Bagwell's 1994 strike shortened season was one of those dominant years. Bagwell posted a .368/.451/.750 line, good for a league leading OPS of 1.201 (20th best all time) and a staggering OPS+ of 213 (24th all time). And I haven't even mentioned his 39 homer runs and 116 RBI, numbers that would've been even higher had he played more than his 110 games due to the strike. Bagwell won the NL MVP that year by a unanimous margin.
Let's not forget Bagwell's Rookie of the Year campaign either. In a full slate of 156 games, he posted a .294/.387/.437 line, good for a .824 OPS. He hit 15 home runs and drove in 82 runs. Not a Pujols-esque rookie campaign, but enough for a near unanimous 1991 NL ROY award. (Side note: guess who got the only other first place vote? Former Astro Orland Merced, who played for the Pirates at the time.)
Jeff Bagwell posted some monstrous statistical seasons, but consistency was always a key to his dominance. From 1996 to 2003, he hit over 30 home runs every year and knocked in 100 runs all but once. Between those seasons (which didn't even include his MVP year) he averaged 38 home runs and 119 RBI. When faced with the "did Bagwell compare to his slugging peers in the same era?" question, those averages should rightfully answer that question. He never went over 60 home runs like McGwire or Sosa, but kept a consistent pace of production that put him among the best hitters of his era.
Unlike a lot of players on this year's ballot, there was a lot more to Bagwell's game than hitting. He finished his career with 202 stolen bases, reaching his peak in base stealing with 31 in 1997 and 30 in 1999. He's part of the fairly exclusive 400 Home Run, 200 Steals club. He's one of thirteen other players in the club, which consists of notable names like Mays, Bonds, Griffey Jr., Dawson, Winfield, Aaron, Reggie Jackson and Frank Robinson. Again, what do those players have in common? All are either already Hall of Famers or deserve to be, and most got in on the first ballot.
If any of us as Astros fans, were lucky enough to watch Jeff Bagwell play, especially in his prime, I feel certain that we would call him a first ballot Hall of Famer. Unfortunately, that won't happen because this is his third year on the ballot. That future induction, however, needs to happen tomorrow. The man won two of the most coveted individual awards for single season performances by wide margins. He put together a 1994 season that should rank among the best for a hitter in history. The advanced metrics favor him, his career 76.7 rWAR is something I haven't even mentioned until now. He played sound defense, nearly hit .300 for his career, ran the base paths extraordinarily well and was a durable hitter for the best stretch of success in Astros history. I'll remember Bagwell for his unique wide batting stance, which I am guilty of emulating many a time in Little League. I'll remember those quirky pads he had on his batting gloves and that one time he stole home plate against the Pirates. But I also want to remember someday when he and hopefully Craig Biggio stood on the same stage as inductees in Cooperstown in July of 2013.