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HumpLinks: Lumps Of Cole For The Right Stocking

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A Gerrit Cole could make or break a season. How much is that worth?

California Angels

THE HOT CORNER

We hear that the Yankees are meeting this week with Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg. No surprise there. And we are hearing that the Yankees are making Cole their top priority. No big surprise, either. The Yankees are very close, have a need that Cole fills perfectly, have the willingness to spend big especially on long-term top-of-the-rotation pitching talent, and are happy to make sure that nobody gets a Cole cheap anyway.

You might be thinking, though, that this is more smoke than fire, and that it is Arte’s destiny to pay up for the local boy. Well, let me pollute your thinking for a moment.

Imagine you are Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman and sitting there with this need, this funding, and this opportunity. You are considering outcomes, and all possibilities. One such possibility is that the Asstros will continue to dominate the AL West and if the Angels get back to the playoffs any time soon, it will be as a Wild Card. And they will show up in that Wild Card one-and-done game with Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Jo Adell, Andrelton Simmons, Justin Upton, and some shell of Albert Pujols. Meanwhile, the Yankees are in a division where a Red Sox or Rays could rise up and bite them and take the division, putting the Yankees in the opposing dugout for that Wild Card game. 2019, after all, was their first division title since 2012. WC games happen.

So, Mr./Ms. Pretend Cashman, when Gerrit Cole takes the mound in that win-or-go-home game, what uniform do you want him to be wearing?

And how much money is that difference in uniforms worth to the New York market?


ANGELS

So, Billy Eppler, go sign Martin Maldonado already...........

Forbes wants to alert us that this upcoming season (2020) will be the beginning of the decline in Mike Trout’s career. Yes, it is inevitable that Trout’s career will start to decline. Nobody defeats Father Time. But I think that this is too early. When I go perusing Mike’s historical careers, the peak seem to end after the 29-year old season. We just saw trout’s 27-year old season, so he should be at his peak for 2020 and again for 2021 and it won’t be until 2022 that he starts to turn into merely fantastic............

The Angels are looking for a catcher, and the market looks like they will be looking again 12 months from now............

LAA Top 10 Most Memorable Games of the Decade.............


HOT STOVE ACTION AND OTHER RUMORS

It’s official. Ryosuke Kikuchi and Shun Yamaguchi are available via posting process............

Zack Wheeler was always projected to go for at least $100 million over 5 years. So learning that the bidding for him has hit the $100 million mark should not be as big of a surprise as it has been the past 24 hours. (And here... And here ($$)).........Wheeler does have a lot of suitors..........

Here, again, we are hearing the threat that Anthony Rendon may succeed Adrian Beltre as the future thorn in our side out of Arlington. I mentioned this in the comment section a week or two ago, but the Rangers spending some money on a new stadium grants them some revenue sharing relief that they can use (if they choose) to subsidize payroll. Rendon could, from the POV of ownership, come practically free..........

The Non-Tender window that just went past was, uh, different. It was highly informative and things are there to be learned. I am intrigued by the two concepts of “Teams Aren’t Paying for a Return to Form” and “Anybody Can Play Second Base”. That last one, especially so. Recall the old adage about “strength up the middle”. Second base and catcher seem to be undergoing an evolution, and this shortly after the radicalization of pitching staffs (which might be returning to prior form based on the last couple of years worth of playoff proofs)...........We also learned that C.J. Cron is a non-tender loser, born into the wrong era..........

And that thing about “Teams Aren’t Paying for a Return to Form”? Then why would we be interested in Three Non-Tendered Players Who Could Bounce Back in 2020?..........

Somebody explain why teams in need of pitching are not rushing out and signing Dallas Keuchel to a bargain contract while is remains available? Especially if you know that you need more than one net-new start for your rotation anyway and you are not going to be able to afford paying for TWO of the Top Five? Unless, of course, Keuchel himself is unaware that he should be a bargain signing?..........

The Dodgers seem like an interesting winter wild card. They are rumored to be an aggressive player a the moment, even considering trading away key players......Like, maybe, Joc Pederson?....Something is needed to get them over the final hurdle, of course. And they DO have financial muscle. What could they be up to? Perhaps a last second sneak attack upon Arte and revenge for Vlad Guerrero?..........

Add Josh Lindblom to the list of starting pitchers in the Free Agent market.............


ASSTROS NUTZ

May the jokes at their expense never cease............

I keep hinting to you all that Jeffrey Luhnow’s roots within McKinsey, the corporate consulting firm, is an important piece of DNA evidence when looking at the behavior of the Asstros within a sports league. Here is deep dive. “It is striking, but not really surprising, that all this well-credentialed cleverness and machine-tooled efficiency tends to deliver the same solution, which amounts to more for the client and less for everyone else; that is the goal, after all.”..........And even better: “There’s no reckoning coming, but there is something perversely satisfying and darkly apropos about seeing where all those McKinsey-scented insights and learnings (to use another corporate consultancy term of art) wound up. All those merciless cullings and endless organizational refinements, all that data and all the brilliant minds and machines working it over, all resolving to some underpaid grunt in a folding chair whaling away on a garbage can because the members of the team’s brain trust of thoroughbred data nerds simply took it for granted that they could get away with it. All that data, all those numbers, all those shifting variables continually delivered the same answer: What are you going to do, stop us?”..........


BASEBALL THINGS IN GENERAL

One of the best ways to keep the Yankees from getting too aggressive in pursuit of our Free Agent pitching targets would be make sure they are forced to pay out the balance of Jacoby Ellsbury’s contract..........

Why would the Cubs consider trading Willson Contreras to the Halos, if they just added Craig Driver to be their first base and catching coach and work with Contreras on pitch framing?............

I don’t know why this is a thing, but I guess that we need to find some way to be inclusive of Front Office employees when it comes to honor and recognition at year’s end. So we have Executive Of The Year awards, and those tend to go to the GM in charge of a World Series winner. That, or to the guy figuring out how to make the Tampa Bay Rays work.............But the best part is that Rizzo apparently sobered up just in time to celebrate all over again..........

So let’s do another Front Office story. I think that this is a fair assessment. Baseball is a business, but it is a business of entertainment. And it is in competition with other entertainment options, of which there are a myriad. This is precisely what Rob Manfred worries about when he feels a need to tinker with the game. The Giants had Kevin Pillar, the human highlight reel and the most entertaining thing that the franchise could put onto the field of play for the benefit of their fans, and their Front Office decided to let him go. They did so for all of the statistical and modeling reasons of which we have been learning and training ourselves across the past decade. But as the linked article makes us ask, is such an action always appropriate just because the bitter cold math makes one believe it to be? Isn’t there some level of arrogance at play there, believing in an abstract power and one’s ability to wield that abstract power over the real and tangible thing in hand?..........

This is well beyond first-world problems. This is mind-boggling one-percenter-problems. Ryan Zimmerman is in a very good place. He has a World Series victory, and a World Series bonus, and a World Series parade, and a World Series ring, and $135.5 million in career MLB earnings. And here he sits at the crossroads of his life: another year of playing the game of baseball, or more time playing the game of golf. Sucks to be me.........

It’s Submit Your HoF Ballot Season, where public ballots get the inspection. This one, where Flip Bondy picks Omar Vizquel and not Gary Sheffield, really pissed off Gary Sheffield, Jr......Sheffield himself is doing some lobbying, showing that he’s still got it at the ripe old age of 51.....The ongoing tally of HoF ballots is here..........

And, yes, we all must admit, Derek Jeter is a Full-Blown Hall of Famer..........

($$) - Is Mike Moustakas now on the Eric Hosmer Watch List? He finally got his payday, a couple of years late, and it is being called an “overpay”..........

This article wants me not to be cynical about the upcoming labor negotiations. But I can’t get past the lede photo, where MLBPA head Tony Clark needs to wear a lanyard holding his credentials allowing him access to privileged places, and Rob Manfred does not...........

A physicist who writes for Hardball Times goes to an Atlantic League game to learn more about their pitch-tracking radar, and walks off into the night afterwards enjoying the afterglow of Minor League Baseball..........

Jacob deGrom did not kill the “W’ as a stat. But what he did do, was to kill Harold Reynolds’ lame arguments in favor of the “W” as something meaningful..........


STUFF

And, yes, MLB does have a lot of things to worry about when it comes to marketing............Extremely rare Shoeless Joe Jackson signature up for auction. Rare because it’s been validated as his signature, and Joe Jackson could neither read nor write..........A.J. Hinch managed the Asstros out of a WS Trophy? Howie Kendrick seems to think so.............