Wholesale Milwaukee Brewers Jerseys

The Milwaukee Brewers are set to open their season on March 29 against the San Diego Padres.

It is also true that the team had the best 90 minutes of the offseason by acquiring Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain. But the question remained, would the Milwaukee Brewers sign a big name pitcher? Spoiler alert, they didn’t.

Mark Attanasio, the Brewers owner, gave an explanation. It can be heard in this tweet.

He wants to be ready for the trade deadline. Some would think, why not go for it from the outset of the season? It is a fair thought, but I think this is the correct approach. Before selling the farm or paying for a multi-year deal, why not wait?
Benefits Of Waiting

The Milwaukee Brewers are in a place where they can win for several years. There is solid young talent at the major league level, such as Orlando Arcia, that will be only getting better. There are also some prospects who look very promising, such as Lucas Erceg and Corbin Burnes. So there is no reason to sell the farm right now.

If the team can compete for playoffs as is, then a deadline move for a pitcher will only make the team better. But on the flip side, if a pitcher was brought in only for the Brewers to be out of contention early, it would have been wasted efforts and money.

The greatest asset Milwaukee has right now is their ability to wait for the right move. They did not need to rush into a Jake Arrieta or Yu Darvish deal. Because of the youth and control, they can be patient until a truly good move comes along.

So, who will be available at the deadline?

This is not an easy thing to predict, but it is not impossible. But, if the Milwaukee Brewers are in the place to buy there will be teams with pitchers to sell. That is the key to it all. The timing needs to work out more than anything.

Wholesale Minnesota Twins Jerseys

Minnesota Twins
Minnesota Twins

The Minnesota Twins have a trio of very athletic outfielders. All three are 26 and under. All three have good speed. All three came up as prospects of the Twins, each reaching into Top 100 rankings (Buxton near the top, Rosario and Kepler appearing briefly). All three hit in the minor leagues, and all three have had their moments in the big leagues already. Most important, all three still have the potential to be even better with just a few improvements.

Today, I want to highlight the three starting Twins outfielders by pointing to one statistic, one theme, or one area of improvement that could help them make the next step in their careers.

Kepler Versus Lefties

There is no question that Max Kepler has really struggled during his two seasons in the big leagues against left-handed pitching. Here are the numbers:

2016 (133 PA): .203/.273/.322 (.595) – .792 OPS vs RHP
2017 (137 PA): .152/.213/.240 (.453) – .828 OPS vs RHP

Kepler took a step backwards in 2017 against same-sided pitchers. Some may believe that there is enough of a sample size to suggest a strict platoon in right field. Others (this writer included) believe that because he will be just 25-years-old throughout the 2018 season, he needs to get more opportunities.

If you are looking for more reason for optimism, look back to 2015. After several years as a very raw prospect, Kepler had his breakout season in 2015 in which he was named the Twins Minor League Player of the Year. While he posted a .935 OPS against right-handers in AA, he also hit .319/.390/.473 (.863) against southpaws.

Of course, there is a difference between AA pitching and big league pitching, but that is enough to keep me optimistic for some success against left-handers. While we shouldn’t expect Kepler to increase his OPS vs LHP to the .800 level, if he could just get that number to the .650 range, it would be a dramatic improvement and help his overall numbers look just a little better.

That said, if he has another season with an OPS vs LHP near the .450 range, then the team will have to consider platoon options in right field for a playoff run and in the future.

Fast Start For Buxton

Byron Buxton is really fast. Unfortunately, his bat has started out very slow in each of his three seasons in the big leagues. He’s proven to be very valuable just because of his defense, but we’ve also seen just how much he can bring to the table when he is being a force with the bat and the glove. In my opinion, one of the biggest keys to a strong 2018 Twins season might just be the bat of the best defensive player in the game in April.

Here is a quick look at the stats of Byron Buxton in his first 15 games in each of his first three seasons:

2015 (61 PA): .207/.233/.276 (.507)
2016 (40 PA): .162/.205/.297 (.502)
2017 (52 PA): .082/.135/.122 (.287)

His start in 2017 was dreadful, but as we saw over the course of the season, he made several adjustments and by season’s end, he looked like a new hitter.

Consider that after really struggling those first 15 games in 2017, he hit .274/.335/.448 (.783) the rest of the year.

As Yogi Berra famously said, “Half of baseball is 90% mental.” Imagine the confidence that Buxton could gain by getting of to a fast start. It is the kind of thing that could thrust him into superstardom and MVP discussions.

Rosario Shows Zone Judgment

Eddie Rosario enjoyed a breakout season in 2017 when he hit .290/.328/.507 (.836) with 33 doubles and 27 home runs. There is little question what the biggest key was for Eddie Rosario. He didn’t swing at as many pitches outside the zone. According to FanGraphs, here are his Outside-the-Zone Swing Percentages during his three MLB seasons:

2015: 45.6%
2016: 41.7%
2017: 37.6%

In short, he has quit swinging at quite so many pitches outside of the strike zone. In theory, by making the pitcher throw a few more strikes, and with Rosario’s still-aggressive approach, he is hitting better pitches. Rosario has such quick hands, and he makes contact at such a high percentage. By swinging at less bad pitches, he is giving himself a better chance. If Rosario can continue the trend, he should continue to put up really strong numbers. As nice as the improvement was in 2017, check out where Rosario ranks among Twins regulars last year (and I included Logan Morrison just for fun).

Robbie Grossman 18.2%
Joe Mauer 20.5%
Jason Castro 21.7%
Brian Dozier 23.4%
Jorge Polanco 26.9%
Logan Morrison 27.7%
Max Kepler 28.5%
Miguel Sano 29.1%
Byron Buxton 31.1%
Eduardo Escobar 35.7%
Eddie Rosario 37.6%

In other words, there is much room for improvement. However, if he can put up his 2017 numbers while swinging at 37.6% of pitches outside the zone, imagine what type of numbers he might put up is he can get that number down to 32%, or even lower?

So there are three key numbers for three key contributors to a successful 2018 season for the Twins. “Nothing Falls But Raindrops” was the motto for the 2017 Twins outfielders. Each has good range at their outfield position, and each has a ton of potential remaining with their bats as well. The aforementioned statistics will be key for each of them.

Wholesale New York Mets Jerseys

New York Mets
New York Mets

PORT ST. LUCIE — The results were good, the timing and feel were better and the outlook was best of all for outfielder Michael Conforto, who came away hopeful of rejoining the Mets earlier than expected after playing in a simulated game Wednesday as part of his return from left shoulder surgery.

“I’m hoping,” Conforto said about beating the speculated May 1 return date. “That seems like far off to me, but we’ll see what happens. Like I keep saying, it’s day to day.”

But Wednesday was a good day for Conforto. Facing an assortment of minor leaguers — mostly lefties — he squeezed in 10 at-bats and had three hits, including two home runs, one that went into a stiff wind but still may have reached the Gulf of Mexico — if not Mexico itself.

“It definitely felt better. Felt like I was more on time. The swing felt a little more on plane and in rhythm,” said Conforto, who was injured last August and underwent surgery Sept. 6. “It’s good to feel the barrel a little bit. … Saw some good arms. Some decent stuff, some funky angles, so that was good. Lots of lefties, too.”

The abundance of lefties he saw was mere “coincidence,” according to manager Mickey Callaway.

“I think he got eight of his 10 at-bats against lefties,” Callaway said. “He’s going to have to face lefties early in the season, so it was a good day.”

Conforto, against last year’s first-round draft pick David Peterson, showed what he can bring with that monster homer.

“He’s in a really good spot. You saw the way the ball’s coming off his bat when he squares it up. I don’t know how far that one was, but that went a very long way,” Callaway said. “The bat speed’s there. He feels healthy, and it’s just a matter of time before we can get him in the game. He looks really good.”

There is still a question of stamina in the eyes of both player and manager. But his swing looks and feels good.

“I’m getting there. I’m pretty close. I’ve had a lot of good work,” said Conforto, who likely will play in Monday’s intrasquad game, but will not play in any of three remaining Grapefruit League games, according to Callaway. “I’m starting to feel my legs a little bit and I feel like I’m in rhythm with everything, so I’m getting close.”

Closer than May 1, he hopes. But there is still building up to do.

“It’s not so much about the shoulder anymore. It’s getting up, hitting, going out to the field, standing out there, go make some plays then come back and hit again,” Conforto said.

“He hadn’t even played the field past five, six innings,” Callaway said. “We’ve just got to get him out in the field, get him playing and build him up to nine innings.”

Wholesale New York Yankees Jerseys

LAKELAND, Fla. — Inside the Yankees’ organization, Tyler Wade had a chance to grab an Opening Day roster spot despite competing with stud prospect Gleyber Torres.

Early in camp, it was apparent Torres would need more time at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after Tommy John surgery on his left (non-throwing) elbow last June limited him to 55 total minor league games in 2017.

Then, on March 12, the Yankees signed switch-hitting infielder Neil Walker to a one-year deal for $4 million, and it appeared if Wade made the team, it would be as a utility infielder who could handle the corner outfield spots in an emergency.

After the Yankees dropped an 8-3 decision to the Tigers on Tuesday at Publix Field, Boone said Wade had earned a spot on the 25-man roster that opens the season March 29 in Toronto.

“Wade is on the team,’’ Boone said after watching the 23-year-old left-handed hitter triple in the first inning and double in the third.

Boone said Wade’s role won’t strictly be as a utility guy.

“We feel like we have good options every day. I feel like there is plenty of at-bats for those guys,’’ Boone said of Wade, who can play third, and Walker, who can play first. “I hope they continue to play well so we have good decisions every day.’’
Wade was gone before Boone announced his roster spot, but prior to that the fourth-round pick in the 2013 draft out of Murrieta Valley (Calif.) High School wasn’t declaring he had made the team.

“I am humble and try to stay in the moment,’’ said Wade, whose .310 batting average at SWB led all qualifiers a year ago. “I control what I can control and play my game.’’

Lined up to start the fourth game of the season on April 1 against the Blue Jays in Toronto, Sonny Gray took a major step toward being ready Tuesday.

Switched from facing the Tigers in Lakeland to the Yankees’ minor league complex in Tampa due to a forecast of heavy rain, Gray faced Double-A Trenton and was encouraged about the outing.

“I thought I threw the ball well,” Gray said. “That is clearly the best that I’ve felt thus far, execution-wise, breaking ball-wise.

“The big thing was throwing the breaking ball for strikes. That was something I’ve been working toward. Today was a good day with that as far as execution with the breaking ball and fastball, really everything. It was a really good workday. That was the big takeaway for me today was the amount of life I had on the ball.”

According to Boone, who watched Gray for about three innings, pitching coach Larry Rothschild was pleased.

“Larry had some hop in his step when he told me about it,’’ Boone said.

Gray should benefit from starting the season with the Yankees instead of joining them in late July, as he did last year when he went 4-7 with a 3.72 ERA in 11 starts after being acquired from the A’s. In two postseason games, Gray was bad (three hits, three runs and four walks in 3 ¹/₃ innings ) against the Indians in the ALDS and good (one earned run in five innings) versus the Astros in the ALCS.

 

Jacoby Ellsbury took batting practice at GMS Field on Tuesday. Now the next step in his recovery from an oblique injury is getting into a game.

“If he can have a couple of good days we will have him go to Fort Myers [on Thursday] and get a couple of at-bats down there,’’ Boone said before Ellsbury worked out.

Ellsbury hasn’t played in a game since March 1 and was hit by a flu bug over the weekend that forced him to stay away from camp Monday.

While there is an outside chance Ellsbury could be on the Opening Day roster, that isn’t likely to happen, according to Boone.

During his interview for the managing job the Yankees’ brass didn’t use names of players in an exercise to see how Boone would put a lineup together.

There were questions back and forth but one thing remained clear: He was going to fill out the lineup card.

“It’s clear that it’s my call,’’ Boone said.

The Yankees received back right-hander Anyelo Gómez, who had been a Rule 5 Draft pick, from the Braves. He was assigned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

The end of Tuesday’s game arriving: A heavy rain storm in the middle was followed by a downpour in the ninth inning of a game in which the Yankees’ second-line pitching was hammered for eight runs and 14 hits.

Of the seven Yankees hurlers who worked Tuesday at Publix Field, Ben Heller was the only one with a chance to make the big-league roster at the start of camp. It wasn’t much of a chance, but he was mentioned Monday by Aaron Boone as a bullpen candidate if the Yankees take 13 pitchers. That chance got smaller when the right-hander gave up three runs and three hits in 1 ²/₃ innings.

Greg Bird’s potential with the bat dominates most of the talk about the first baseman, but Tuesday he turned a hard-hit ground ball by Victor Martinez into a 3-6-1 double play with a nifty grab.

Luis Cessa will start Wednesday for the Yankees against the Orioles in a night game at GMS Field.

Wholesale Oakland Athletics Jerseys

The Oakland Athletics starting rotation took a big hit with the injury to Jharel Cotton

The Oakland Athletics are a sexy sleeper pick for this year sneaking up on teams. They have a talented core of young players like Matt Chapman and Matt Olson, plus prospects on the way. The one thing that is holding them back is starting rotation depth, and that depth took a hit as Jharel Cotton‘s 2018 is now in doubt after being diagnosed with a sprained UCL in his elbow and a strained flexor tendon.

Their starting rotation now looks like this:

Kendall Graveman
Sean Manaea
Daniel Mengden
Paul Blackburn
Andrew Triggs/Daniel Gossett

That’s a whole ton of question marks.

Granted, there was a ton of question marks coming in with Cotton. After a nice cup of coffee in 2016, Cotton struggled to a 9-10 record with a 5.58 ERA last season.

Cotton looked like he may have been turning a corner this spring, posting a 3.75 ERA in 12 spring innings, with 16 strikeouts.

Alex Cobb is still sitting in free agency. If he was willing to take a Lance Lynn type deal, should the Oakland Athletics bite? He would be an upgrade over Cotton and provide a veteran anchor in what is a very young rotation, though would the A’s want to give up a draft pick and international money.

Oakland has more pitching coming with guys like A.J. Puk, Jesus Luzardo, Grant Holmes and James Kaprielian. Puk has yet to give up a run in spring training going into yesterday’s action.

The Oakland Athletics have assembled a pretty deep bullpen, though it’s not filled with names like the New York Yankees bullpen. Guys like Blake Treinen, Santiago Casilla and newcomers like Ryan Buchter and Yusmeiro Petit make up a solid, if not unspectacular group, which will be relied upon even further with the injury to Cotton.

Cotton’s injury will test the Oakland Athletics rotation depth. If guys like Triggs, Gossett, and possibly Puk down the line this year step up, Oakland can be that sleeper team. Can one or two of them take the bull by the horns for this spot?

Wholesale Philadelphia Phillies Jerseys

The Philadelphia Phillies and free-agent right-hander Jake Arrieta have agreed to a three-year, $75 million contract, according to multiple reports.

Arrieta can opt out of the deal after two seasons, but the Phillies can void that opt-out clause if they first trigger a two-year extension to make the pact a five-year deal, according to FanRag Sports.

That two-year extension would start at $20 million per season but could be worth up to $30 million based on the number of starts Arrieta makes in the first two seasons of the deal and Cy Young Award finishes in those seasons, FanRag Sports reported.

The news of the agreement was first reported by NBC Sports Philadelphia.

Arrieta is the second major free agent added by the Phillies this offseason. The team signed first baseman Carlos Santana to a three-year, $60 million contract in December.

Arrieta, 32, had a strong second half of 2017 leading into free agency, as he compiled a 2.28 post-All-Star break ERA. That kind of production was reminiscent of his historic second half in 2015, when his ERA was a minuscule 0.75. That helped garner him a Cy Young award and a reputation as a big-game pitcher who gets better as the season progresses.

Arrieta’s career 3.08 postseason ERA is also a good indicator of his big-game potential, as he has a wild-card win and Game 6 World Series victory on his résumé. He has been durable and effective since he was traded to the Cubs in 2013, though sometimes it takes time for his unique, cross-body delivery to lock in.

Arrieta has also produced two no-hitters and a career .222 batting average against him. Considering his delivery, some in baseball have wondered about his durability, but he has made at least 30 starts each of the past three seasons, helping the Cubs to the playoffs in each of them. His incredible training regimen is well-documented, keeping him in tip-top shape, especially for a pitcher.

Wholesale Pittsburgh Pirates Jerseys

The Pittsburgh Pirates played their 13th of 33 Grapefruit League games on Thursday afternoon

After an 8-3 victory on Thursday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Pirates are now 4-7-2 in Grapefruit League play. This victory came against the team that will be their Opening Day opponent – the Detroit Tigers.

In his second start of the spring, Nick Kingham pitched 3 innings on Thursday afternoon. Kingham struggled with control and was burnt by some poor defense. However, he did a nice job of limiting damage.

Kingham allowed 3 runs, 2 of which were unearned due to errors, on 5 hits, a pair of walks, and a pair of strikeouts in his 3 innings of work. While Kingham will start the season at Triple-A, look for him to make his Major League debut at some point this season.

The Pittsburgh Pirates were able to grab an early lead when the team scored a trio of runs in the bottom of the 1st inning.

Starling Marte hit a solo home run to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead. Then, David Freese belted a 2-run shot making it 3-0 Bucs after an inning of play.

After Felipe Rivero fired a 1-2-3 top of the 4th inning, the Pirate bats went back to work in the bottom of the 4th inning.

With the game now tied at 3, Sean Rodriguez hit a single and then came around to score on a Francisco Cervelli double. This gave the Pirates a 4-3 lead. The Pirate lead grew to 5-3 in the bottom of the 5th inning when Corey Dickerson scored on a sacrifice fly by David Freese.

George Kontos had a scoreless top of the 5th inning with a pair of strikeouts, while Edgar Santana and Kyle Crick each recorded a K while firing a scoreless inning.

In the bottom of the 7th inning, Erich Weiss doubled in Christopher Bostick to make the score 6-3 Pirates. Later in the inning, Weiss would score on a wild pitch from Detroit pitcher Gerson Moreno. This made the score 7-3 Pirates.

The Bucs then made the score 8-3 in the bottom of the 8th inning with another long ball. This time it came from Bryce Brentz. This was Brentz’s first home run of the spring.

With the help of 2 strikeouts, Jack Leathersich worked around a pair of walks to pitch a scoreless top of the 8th inning. Brett McKinney then pitched a scoreless top of the 9th to close out the 8-3 Pirate victory.

Notable offensive performances included Francisco Cervelli going 2-for-2 with a walk a pair of doubles, Corey Dickerson going 2-for-3, and Colin Moran and Sean Rodriguez both went 1-for-3. Additionally, Starling Marte went 1-for-3 with a home run, while David Freese and Bryce Brentz both went 1-for-3 with a home run and a walk. Josh Harrison was 0-for-3 and Jordy Mercer was 0-for-2 with a walk.

Next up for the Pirates is a trip to Spectrum Field in Clearwater to battle the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM, Steven Brault will start for the Bucs while the Phils go with Jerad Eickhoff.

Wholesale San Diego Padres Jerseys

The San Diego Padres split up their squad and played in two games yesterday. Fernando Tatis Jr proved unstoppable against his former team and a few rookie pitchers dominated on the mound.

The San Diego Padres split their split-squad games today, defeating the Chicago White Sox 7-6 and falling to the Oakland Athletics 12-4.

Let’s first recap the positives and take a look at why the Chicago front office has to be kicking themselves after trading away Fernando Tatis Jr for James Shields.

Fernando Tatis has a perfect day for the San Diego Padres.

The Padres pounded 10 hits in today’s game, four of those coming from Tatis. Tatis ended the day going 4-4 with five RBI’s. In the process, he collected his third double of the spring while raising his batting average to .381. The young man truly is a pleasure to watch. You would never guess he’s only 19-years-old with no major league experience by the way he carries himself off the field and his approach at the plate.

If Tatis continues to hit like this in the minors, which he should, the Padres will have to make an extremely tough decision very soon (bye Headley?).

Two young prospects who are in contention for immediate playing time are Franchy Cordero and Christian Villanueva. Cordero chipped in his fourth double, bringing him to within one of the league lead (Luis Urias leads the league with five). More importantly, he worked two walks.

Villanueva one-upped Cordero, drawing three walks in four at-bats on the day. If Villanueva can show the same patience at the plate and ability to hit major league pitchers later in spring, does he deserve a shot to start at third base? Without a doubt.

On the mound, Joey Lucchesi and Eric Lauer combined for four scoreless innings, one baserunner allowed, and five strikeouts. While the #HotTalentLava has been flowing offensively, the young starting pitchers in camp have struggled, so far. With so many veteran pitchers fighting for a roster spot, don’t expect to see the prospect pitchers up too much longer before being reassigned to minor league camp.
San Diego Padres (ss) fall to Oakland Athletics.

While the final box score wasn’t pretty, this Eric Hosmer opposite-field home run sure was.

There was also this defensive stop by Freddy Galvis. Last season, this would have been a hit off Clayton Richard.

Carter Capps, coming off Tommy John and shoulder injuries is full of potential. He’s full of major league talent and is in desperate need of a break to go his way. His return to the mound was one to forget. Capps pitched one inning, gave up four hits (two home runs), and three earned runs.

As a whole, the pitching staff gave up five home runs to the A’s. Clayton Richard also gave up two, running his total up to three in just five spring innings.

Some good news to leave you all with, the Padres return to TV tomorrow! San Diego will take on the Arizona Diamondbacks at 5:40 pm PT and fans can watch on Fox Sports San Diego or MLB.tv.