Ray's Ramblings - Happ, Rizzo, Zimmerman
Ian Happ is off to a hot start for the Cubs. Is he going to be able to keep up the hitting, and even if he does, will it be with the Cubs? Would you want Miggy, Rizzo or Zimmerman to be your first baseman? What are your thoughts on the following deal: Todd Frazier and Justin Upton for Kevin Pillar and Ryan Zimmerman? Ray discusses why he thinks one side is the winner. Finally, Ray shares with you how he also is feeling the DL pain.
WHERE DOES IAN HAPP PLAY?
Ben Zobrist is returning from his back spasms Wednesday for the Cubs. That brings into focus the question of what will the Cubs do with Ian Happ?
Happ came into the season as one of the top prospects in baseball, and the youngster can hit.
A first-round selection in 2015, Happ had a .822 OPS in 67 games as a rookie with nine homers and 10 steals at Single-A ball. In 2016 he appeared in 134 games going .279-15-73-72-16 with a .810 OPS at High-A and Double-A. This season he appeared in 26 games at Triple-A with nine homers, 25 RBI and a .977 OPS. Yep, he crushed it leading to his promotion to the majors. In three games he’s gone deep twice with a double, four RBI, three runs and three walks. It’s been a hell of a start. However, the question is... can he stick in the big leagues? Here is what the Cubs lineup looks like and what Happ has to deal with. I should note that Happ has appeared in 122 games as a second baseman and 98 games in the outfield.
The Cubs have Ben Zobrist and Javier Baez to play second.
They have Addison Russell and Javier Baez to play shortstop.
Where does Happ play there?
In the outfield the Cubs have Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward (when he returns from his finger issue, likely in a few days), and then there might be an opening for Happ if he can dislodge one of Albert Almora or Jon Jay. That’s far from a striking tandem at the dish, but Jay is a professional hitter while Almora was at one point in the not so distant past a top-level prospect. Would the Cubs demote Almora to keep Happ around? They could if they wanted to go that route. The problem with that would be that Happ and Jay are both lefties so there wouldn’t be an obvious platoon that could be formed.
Happ has a bright future, and an impressive bat, but wouldn’t he be best served playing daily? At some point the Cubs have to take a look at Joe Maddon and his winning ways. Constantly moving players around in the batting order and defensively might win games, but is it in the best interest of the young players? Do the Cubs really need another young, big time bat, being shuffled, in/out and around the lineup on a daily basis?
Hard for me to see Happ sticking around once Heyward is healthy, but that’s just me.
WHAT’S THE VALUE OF RYAN ZIMMERMAN?
I recently pulled of a trade in a 12-team, mixed, redraft league. There are two changes with the league, BARF by the way, in that we use quality starts instead of wins and on-base percentage instead of batting average in the format. Here’s the scenario that played out the other day.
I own Ryan Zimmerman. I tried to trade him for Miguel Cabrera. The offer was turned down. I tried to trade him for Anthony Rizzo. That offer was also turned down. I then moved on to the realm of the two for two deal and... here’s the trade that I pulled off.
I traded away Ryan Zimmerman and Kevin Pillar.
I received Todd Frazier and Justin Upton.
I asked you all what you thought about the deal. Here are the results of the Twitter poll.
That’s about as even a trade as you’re going to find out there. Let’s break it down.
Pillar has been great to start with a .313/.365/.509 slash line through 40 games. The question we need to consider is he that guy? Hard to say he is. After posting an Isolated Power mark under .130 4-straight years the mark is .196 this season. After a HR/FB ratio under seven the last three seasons the mark is 12.0 percent this season. Though he has a .266 batting average and 22 homers over 1,108 at-bats against righties for his career, those numbers include a .296 average and four homers in 125 at-bats this season. After posting a BB/K ratio under 0.35 each of his four previous season the mark is 0.54 this year. Players mature and grow as they age, but he’s become a different hitter this season. I need more than 40 games of that to buy in. Recall too that this is an OBP league. His career mark there is .310 which is strongly suggestive that he will not be maintaining his current .365 mark.
The quick on Zimmerman. He’s been stupendous (.385-13-38-28 in 37 games). The last time he hit .290 was 2010. The last time he had 17 homers was 2013. The last time he had 80 RBI was 2012. The last time he appeared in 120 games was 2013. He’s been great, but it’s impossible to expect him to continue his current pace. It’s also nearly impossible to think he will be able to avoid injury.
Frazier has been bad this season dealing with woeful performance and illness. That said he’s still on pace for 15 steals after averaging 16 the past three seasons. His walk rate is a career best, and his strikeout rate a career low, and those are not the signs of a guy who is completely lost. His game will come around with health. Note a .188 BABIP and 7.7 percent HR/FB ratio. His career marks are .275 and 15.3. Note also that I have Paul Goldschmidt in this league so getting Frazier made sense to full my corner infield spot since I’m more likely to need help at third than at first (though I’m still very high on Anthony Rendon who is my current 3B).
The younger Upton has averaged a season of .256-29-90-81-12 the last three seasons. This year the 29 year old has gone .248-8-20-23-3 with a .876 OPS. He’s the same guy he’s always been, and that is a really good ball player and his OBP is up at .371 this season. His career mark is .348.
To me, this was a strong deal to add Frazier and Upton. Time will tell.
WHICH PLAYER DO YOU WANT?
I ran an hour long poll on Twitter that asked which first baseman you would want on your squad the rest of the season. Here are the results.
I’m a bit surprised without really being surprised.
I knew that Zimmerman would come in third on the list, despite the fact that he’s dominating the duo in terms of performance. Do you realize that as of this writing Zimmerman has 13 homers, 38 RBI, 28 runs and 15 doubles. Cabrera and Rizzo, combined, have 11 homers, 35 RBI, 30 runs and 10 doubles.
I’m more surprised by the fact that Rizzo generated twice as many votes as Miggy. That’s truly amazing to me. One of the 10 best right handed hitters of the last 50 years received half the votes of Rizzo. Compare their efforts since the start of last season.
I get folks preferring Rizzo, but by a pace of 2:1... I just don’t get that.
I FEEL YOUR PAIN
And just so you know that you aren’t the only one dealing with injuries, here’s a look at my SiriusXM Host League squad and then men currently on the DL: Ryan Braun, Jason Heyward, Hunter Pence, Zach Britton, Mark Melancon, Aaron Nola and Nate Jones. Yes, I’m screwed too.
Ray Flowers can be heard Monday/Tuesday and Thursday/Friday, 7 PM EDT, Wednesday 8 PM EDT on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87). You can also hear Ray Sunday nights at 8 PM EDT PM on the channel talking fantasy sports. Follow Ray’s work on Twitter (@baseballguys).