Ray's Ramblings - Camp Thoughts
Arrieta will be ready. Buehler and Calhoun have been sent to the minors. Cespedes is hurt, yet again. What's up with all this Bryce Harper talk? Is Ohtani going to be able to hit enough to be of any use this season? Just how good an arm does this Newcomb kid have? Is the Padres' Pirela and intriguing add this season? Who is this Stratton kid of the Giants? Does the signing of Walker ruin the short-term outlook of Torres?
Future star Walker Buehler has been sent to the minors, for now. He will reappear this season, though whether he works out of the bullpen or the rotation will be determined by his performance and the need of the Dodgers. Have to think he’s used out of that rotation at some point, and once he enters the rotation, it might be hard to remove him from it if he performs as expected.
Willie Calhoun has been sent to the minors, a major surprise. Apparently, the Rangers were not impressed enough with his performance this spring meaning that the likes of Drew Robinson and Ryan Rua will man left field in the early going. I say it ALL THE TIME, it’s sooooo risky to depend on minor league players, even those with great skills, because the playing time may or may not be there. Calhoun could be called back at any moment, he has an impressive hit tool with power, and for what it’s worth here is the Rangers explanation for the move.
Yoenis Cespedes has a wrist injury. As of this writing, we don’t know how much time he will miss. The more things change, the more they remain the same. The slugger appeared in 81 games last season and has been under 136 games played in 4-of-6 seasons. Why bother?
My Zack Greinke thoughts. He was throwing 84-86 mph last season. His average heater last season was 91 mph. He expressed concern after his last outing. Not everyone is panicking. “Some great players that I’ve played with, coached or been around have the same type of self-doubt,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “Zack’s an elite performer. I explained to him that I’m not concerned, just want to make sure we’re doing all we can for him.” At this point, I’m not panicking with Greinke. First, he knows how to pitch. Second, he’s a different kinda guy with a well-chronicled past. Third, I’m not going to run naked in the streets because a guy had dead-arm in an outing in spring training. If you want to lower him a few spots in your rankings, that’s fine. I wouldn’t go dropping him three tiers though. Keep an eye on him. Monitor him. Avoid him at his current ADP if you wish. But do not completely ignore him.
Just saying it yet again... Bryce Harper has failed to hit .275 in four of six seasons. He has one season of 30 homers. He has never driven in 100 runs. In 3-of-4 seasons he’s failed to steal seven bases. Immense talent, but the blinders people put on to take Harper in the first round, without even questioning it, shocks me.
Adalberto Mejia has been optioned to the minors meaning that the Twins appear ready to give Phil Hughes a shot to open the year in the rotation. Good luck with that.
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Shohei Ohtani has two hits in 18 at-bats, and the whispers are starting to grow that while his arm is ready to star, that his bat might need time in the minor leagues before he will have success in the bigs. Of course, he’s going to be part of the Angels rotation meaning he won’t be able to devote the necessary time to improve his offense. I’ve said it all along, the only reason to draft Ohtani this season is if you want to use his arm. His bat is only of use in AL-only leagues, and in leagues that allow daily roster changes.
Sean Newcomb struck out six batters across 4.2 perfect innings Monday for the Braves. The 24 year old lefty has a tremendous arm, he struck out 108 in 100 innings last season, but he also issued an unconscionable 5.13 walks per nine innings. He’s supremely risky because of the scattershot nature of his arm, but if it all kicks in, if it’s all working, he can dominate anyone.
Jose Pirela appeared in 71 games as an outfielder last season, seven games at second, five at first and one at third. The Padres 28 year old seems to be looking to take up the mantle of super-sub that has been vacated by Yangervis Solarte (he’s much more comfortable in the outfield and has struggled at second base a bit this spring). There is a line of thought that Jose could start in the outfield if the Padres are able to deal Hunter Renfroe to bolster their pitching staff. Regardless of what happens with the roster, it sounds like the Padres are planning to start Pirela, somewhere, a good deal of the time. "Based on what he's done in Spring Training this year, he's been the same guy," manager Andy Green said. "Plus, you just love the fire he brings to the game. It's going to be hard to supplant him in the lineup, but he can bounce to a couple different positions." Already 28 years old, Pirela had an elevated .343 BABIP last season, and his 13.2 percent HR/FB ratio is not in line with his history to this point. Oh, there’s also the fact that he’s appeared at Triple-A in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. Be cautious.
Chris Stratton has what appears to be a lock on a rotation spot with the Giants. The 27 year old righty has a good home park and he owns a solid 1.36 GB/FB ratio. Think Mike Leake with a few more strikeouts as the potential upside.
Neil Walker joined the Yankees on a $4 million, one year deal. This move signals that Gleyber Torres will begin the season in the minors. My personal opinion is that it would, barring injury, be surprising to see Torres at any point before mid-June as the Yankees will have no incentive to call him up before the Super 2 deadline. Walker has dealt with a back issue for a few years now, but he’s a solid major league veteran with a good bat for the position. Last year the switch-hitter was better as a lefty swinger with an .842 OPS, and that’s a career long trend as he owns an .803 OPS against righties. That means he could be platooned, though not with Torres early in the season of course. Good lineup. Good park. Still, I wouldn’t up the ranking of Walker with this signing since he’s failed to appear in 115 games the last two seasons, has the back issue, and it’s not like the Yankees don’t have options that can play second base.
You can hear Ray, Monday through Friday, on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87). Ray is on The Fantasy Drive 7-10 PM EST M-F, and he’s also on the Guru Elite Show Thursday from 2-4 PM EST. You can follow Ray on Twitter at @baseballguys.