Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and the PED/Hall of Fame Debate

On January 24, Major League Baseball will announce the newest members of the Hall of Fame. I wrote a little while back when the initial finalists were announced who I would vote for, which you can read here. I briefly mentioned in that blog that I wouldn’t vote for Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens mainly because I wouldn’t feel good about it even though Ivan Rodriguez was elected on the first ballot last year despite having been named in the Mitchell Report, a report created by George Mitchell consisting of evidence of numerous current and former Major League Baseball players that had been linked in some form or fashion to PED’s. I understand the argument in favor of putting them in, which I’ll highlight a little later, but it just doesn’t sit well with me.

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The case for each player is very simple. Ignoring all the steroids allegations (which is all they are: allegations, since neither failed a PED test), here’s how Bonds’ and Clemens’ resumes stack up. Bonds was the son of former big league All Star Bobby Bonds and made his debut in 1986 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, a team he played for until 1992. He won 2 NL MVPs as a member of the Pirates, slugging 176 home runs and hit .275. In 1993, he signed with the Giants, which was when he went from a superstar to arguably the most feared hitter to ever play the game. Bonds played in San Francisco from 1993 until his retirement in 2007 and hit 586 home runs by the bay and won 5 MVPs, including 4 in a row from 2001-2004. In all, Bonds holds the record for most home runs ever hit in a career with 762, most in a season with 73 in 2001, most walks in a career with 2558, most intentional walks in a career with 688, was a 14-time All Star and was also consistently one of the toughest guys to strike out, as he only struck out 100 times in a season once in his career, which was his rookie year. Bonds is also one of only 5 players in the 40-40 club, a feat he accomplished in 1996 when he hit 42 home runs and stole 40 bags. His 7 MVP’s are by far the most ever, next closest being 3 by several players. Bonds won more than that in consecutive seasons. Bonds even holds the rare distinction of having been intentionally walked with the bases loaded. Nobody was more feared in recent memory than Barry Bonds. The only way you could pitch to him was by not pitching to him.

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Roger Clemens was one of the most dominant pitchers of the last half century in a time when balls were flying out of the yard at a rate never seen before. Clemens began his career in 1984 with the Boston Red Sox and retired in 2007 as a member of the New York Yankees with stints in Toronto and Houston in between. He holds the record for 7 Cy Young Awards, next closest being 4 by Randy Johnson and Greg Maddux, both of whom are first ballot Hall of Famers. Clemens also won the 1986 AL MVP, which is a rarity for a pitcher, when he went 24-4 with a 2.48 ERA and 238 K’s. Clemens is a 2-time World Series champion as a member of the Yankees in 1999 and 2000. In 2005 as a member of the Houston Astros and at the age of 42, he set a career low ERA of 1.87. He also set the record for strikeouts in a 9-inning game with 20, a feat he accomplished twice. For his career, Clemens went 354-184 with an ERA of 3.12 and 4672 K’s, numbers that rank him amongst the greatest to ever play the game and he did it at a time when a lot of the top hitters were using performance enhancers.

Which brings me to my next point, why guys with resumes as great as these are being left out of the Hall of Fame at the moment. It has nothing to do with their numbers, those are as good as anybody has ever put up. It’s the matter that these guys have been too heavily linked to PED’s over the years. Despite the fact that neither ever tested positive for PED’s, the evidence is pretty apparent. It was reported that Barry Bonds’ hat and shoe sizes grew long after that stops for normal people. George Mitchell’s investigation from 2006-7 named both of them amongst other star players as guys with ties to PED’s. Plus, just look at the differences.

Here’s Bonds in his rookie year with the Pirates.

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Here he is in his 73 home run 2001 season with the Giants.

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Now yes, there’s about a 15-year gap between these two photos. But nobody gets that huge in that amount of time without a little added boost.

Now let’s look at Clemens. Here’s a picture of him from the 1986 season where he struck out 20 batters in a game for the first time and won AL MVP.

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Now here’s a picture of him in 2000.

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I don’t think anybody’s denying there was pharmaceutical assistance for these guys just looking at them. But there is a pretty legitimate argument for both of them to get in to the Hall of Fame despite the fact that both men allegedly used PED’s. I’ll list them out here.

1. PED’s were not banned at the suspected time they were used.

2. A large portion of Major League Baseball was using PED’s as well.

3. Excluding these guys would be like trying to pretend an entire era of baseball never happened.

4. They never actually tested positive so trying to punish them for something they were never technically found guilty of is cheating both men.

5. Ivan Rodriguez, who was named in the Mitchell Report, got in on the first ballot in 2017.

It’s hard to argue with any of these and quite frankly, I do believe Bonds and Clemens will get in at some point, whether it’s this year or sometime in the future. Look all over the internet or any publication or sports network and you’ll see that everybody seems to be softening their stance against PED’s. The most telling sign of this is of course Ivan Rodriguez getting in on his first try last year. Rodriguez was named in the Mitchell Report as having used PED’s and he never denied it, yet that didn’t seem to matter to the voters. If you vote Rodriguez in, there is no reason you shouldn’t vote in Bonds and Clemens as well. Sure they might have had some rough personalities and exchanges with the media, but the Hall of Fame isn’t a nice guy award. I made the same case in my Hall of Fame ballot, but Ty Cobb was a notorious racist who would slide into a base cleats up to try and injure black players during exhibition games. He was the first man ever inducted into the Hall of Fame. I also hate the argument that some people have about putting them in the Hall of Fame but having an asterisk next to their name. I’m just not on board with that. For me, the Hall of Fame is pretty black and white. You’re either a Hall of Fame-caliber player, or you’re not. Plain and simple. Putting an asterisk next to their name will diminish the credibility of the Hall itself.

My main issue with putting them in is this: PED’s are fucking deadly. The problem with PED’s for me isn’t that it gives some players an unfair advantage. Ted Williams having ridiculous eye sight is an unfair advantage and nobody bitched about that. It was the stuff of legend. It’s that in order for clean players to keep up with the PED users, they would have to cut years off their lives by taking these dangerous drugs. Otherwise they might be out of a job. When I see guys like Ken Caminiti die from steroid usage, it really makes me uncomfortable rewarding people who haven’t yet paid the price with enshrinement. I don’t know, that’s just me.

That’s going to do it for today’s blog. Let me know what you think about Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and any other known PED user’s Hall of Fame candidacy in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.

Andrew McCutchen Traded to the Giants

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It’s been a while since I posted a blog that wasn’t about football (18 blogs in a row not counting that one where I ramble about everything). But that’s because of the inactivity around Major League Baseball this offseason. And while yes, the free agent market has been slower than it’s ever been in recent memory, there have been some solid trades. In fact, Gerrit Cole was traded to the Astros, something that I briefly touched upon after the initial trade fell through. Well now the Astros have an absolute MONSTER of a pitching rotation as they look even stronger than the team that just won the World Series. But that’s not what my blog is about. It’s about how the Giants are quickly trying to erase the memory of their disastrous 2017 campaign. Remember when I blogged about their acquisition of Evan Longoria and I mentioned how they had a pretty stellar infield but one of the worst outfields I’ve ever seen? Well they seem to have shored that up a bit as they acquired Andrew McCutchen from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for prospects Bryan Reynolds (OF) and Kyle Crick (P). Reynolds was the #4 prospect in the Giants’ organization and Crick was 16th, according to MLB.com. McCutchen is set to become a free agent at the end of the 2018 season and will make about $14.5 million ($2.5M of which will be paid by Pittsburgh), so not much of a commitment there for the Giants.

San Francisco looks like they have no intention to rebuild after losing 98 games in 2017 and quite frankly I don’t blame them. There’s a lot of talent on this team, especially after their two most recent acquisitions and arguably the best manager in all of baseball in Bruce Bochy. Let’s take a look at what this lineup looks like now that McCutchen is in that outfield.

1. Andrew McCutchen-CF

2. Joe Panik-2B

3. Buster Posey-C

4. Evan Longoria-3B

5. Brandon Belt-1B

6. Brandon Crawford-SS

7. Hunter Pence-RF

8. Jarrett Parker-LF

9. Pitcher’s Spot

That’s suddenly a pretty potent lineup. Now yes, McCutchen has been on a downward trend the last few years, however he quietly had a pretty good 2017 season after a downright awful 2016. McCutchen hit .279 with 28 home runs, 88 RBI, a .363 OBP with a .486 SLG and was able to steal 11 bases and was worth a 3.7 WAR. Despite being 31, McCutchen can still play. Except centerfield, he is not a good centerfielder defensively. He has only had a DRS above 0 (league average) once in his entire career (he was worth 5 DRS in 2013). He got as bad as -28 DRS in 2016. In layman’s terms, that means opponents scored 28 more runs because McCutchen was in centerfield vs your average centerfielder. That was the worst in the Majors at any position. In 2017, he was -17. Maybe they’ll move him to left field and put someone like Gorkys Hernandez in center but as it stands right now, the Giants have a stellar defensive infield but an atrocious defensive outfield. So basically if you’re the Dodgers or Diamondbacks or any other team that’s going to contend with the Giants for a playoff spot, just hit the ball into the outfield and you’re good.

As for the Pirates, if they weren’t in full rebuild mode after they traded Gerrit Cole, they are now. It seemed like for a while they were flirting with the idea of rebuilding because McCutchen has been on the trading block for what seems like forever. Well the Pirates have finally gotten him out of town after he’s been the face of the franchise since he arrived in the league in 2009. Here’s what the Pirates look like without Cutch.

1. Adam Frazier-LF

2. Josh Harrison-2B

3. Starling Marte-CF

4. Josh Bell-1B

5. Gregory Polanco-RF

6. Francisco Cervelli-C

7. David Freese-3B

8. Jordy Mercer-SS

9. Pitcher’s Spot

Adam Frazier is essentially the guy that will replace McCutchen in the Pirates lineup. He was their DH on Opening Day when they took on the Red Sox in an American League park so it’s not like this is some kind of culture shock for the Pirates. He hit .276 in 121 games played last year, however it was a LOT of singles, as his SLG was only .399 and he only walked about 7.9% of the time. But the guy is a competent option for the Pirates at the top of their lineup. He could serve as a segue for Austin Meadows, their top prospect who happens to play the outfield. Pittsburgh likes him a lot and there have been times where they’ve made it known that Meadows is off limits in any proposed trade. He’s only 22 and currently at AAA, where he struggled some in 2017 so it might be another year before he’s ready for the Majors. However if he flips a switch and starts torching minor league pitching, we may see him in the Pirates lineup by the end of 2018. It could also be a segue for the newly-acquired Bryan Reynolds in the long run, who played extremely well in High-A ball.

One might also have to wonder if this could be Clint Hurdle’s final year at the helm of the Pirates. Since losing the Wild Card game to the Cubs in 2015 after a 98-win season, the Pirates have gone 153-171 and continue to trend in the wrong direction. What’s also common with rebuilds is the organization typically cleans house and Hurdle may be next on the chopping block, though I doubt he’ll have trouble finding another managerial job because he’s amongst the best in the game. He led the Colorado Rockies of all teams to a World Series appearance in 2007 in one of the most exciting runs in recent memory and was a catalyst in bringing the Pirates out of the depths of Hell. People tend to forget due to their recent success that the Pirates had 20 losing seasons in a row from 1992-2012. Hurdle was the guy who got them out of that mess with the help of guys like McCutchen. However no playoff success has come their way as they never won their division, playing in the Wild Card game 3 straight years, going 1-2 and never having gotten out of the NLDS. Some team that is struggling will likely look to get him should the Pirates let him go because he’s brought two organizations out of mediocrity already. Perhaps the Padres or Rays, should either team struggle in 2018 (which I expect to happen). But this smells like the end of the line for Hurdle in Pittsburgh.

So we’ve finally got some moves in baseball worth blogging about. Still waiting on that free agent class to get their shit together, though. Let me know what you think of the McCutchen trade and the Giants’ chances this year in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.

What the Hell Do I Write About?

Hey everyone, sorry about there not being a blog post yesterday, but there is literally NOTHING happening right now in the world of sports. Hell, I’ve been so bored, I even started working out! Me! A blogger! Whoever heard of such a thing? I’m particularly fuming at Major League Baseball. Not at the league itself, but rather the inactivity from its clubs this offseason. How is it that we’ve already completed the first week of January and 7 members of my Top 10 Free Agents are still available? *Update* 6 out of 10 left. Jay Bruce just re-signed with the Mets. *End of Update* We almost had something interesting happen, as there were multiple tweets from very reputable sources that said that the Astros had struck a deal with the Pirates involving Gerrit Cole. However that proved to be fake news, leaving me in a pit of despair. Though it’s probably a good thing because could you imagine Cole being a part of the Astros? He’s an ace-level pitcher and he’d probably be the third man in that rotation after Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander.

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But yeah, I’m scraping for topics to talk about right now. I COULD talk about the whole Ball family stuff, but I’d rather not contribute to that mess. The only reason LaVar Ball is making all of these claims is because the media is lending him its ear. Like I seriously think he’s going to get Lonzo hurt, especially now that he’s verbally come after Lakers head coach Luke Walton. If the media just ignored him, then maybe he’ll stop being a jackass. But we all know that’s not going to happen. We’re in too deep at this point. But I like to keep up my morals and not give him the time of day if I can help it.

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I will admit I haven’t kept up on the world of basketball like I’ve hoped to, both college and professional. I admittedly don’t know as much about basketball as I do baseball and football and the lockout played a major role in that. I was on top of the world in following the NBA but once that happened I was really turned off and it stopped receiving my attention. Plus with college basketball, I’m finding it harder and harder each year to be invested due to the whole one-and-done thing. Basically every year I have to completely erase my brain on what I know and start fresh with each basketball season because there is so much turnover with the rosters. Plus my team, Indiana, is kind of garbage this season so that’s really hurt my interest level. They have shown some promise under new head coach Archie Miller, though. But it’s going to take some time before we’re ready to seriously compete for Big Ten championships again.

I thought about doing another personal blog for this one, but I really couldn’t think of any stories from my athletic career that would be particularly interesting. I’ve told all my favorites already and there really isn’t much left in my concussion-filled brain. If one pops up, I’ll definitely be sure to talk about it.

I’ve been getting into professional wrestling as of late. I used to watch WWE as a kid and play the video games, then took some time off because I was getting bored of it but now my interest has been reinvigorated. I’m debating whether or not I should do wrestling-themed blogs but I’m not 100% sure that would be best since it is staged and all. Which is fine by me, I look at it as watching an action/drama/comedy TV show, which is really what it is. It’s basically reality TV where people kick the crap out of each other. Let me put it this way: if you watch shows like Keeping up with the Kardashians or The Bachelor/ette, then you have no right to rip on WWE for being “fake.” Plus, try watching WWE with a buzz on. It’s freaking awesome. I actually took my brother and godson to the Clash of Champions Pay-Per-View in Boston last month and that was a Hell of a good time. Plus I was able to get an RKO from Randy Orton on film. So I guess I’ll leave it up to my readers as to whether or not I do WWE blogs. Definitely let me know if you’d like to read that. If I get no responses, I won’t do it, though.

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What else, what else. I mean I’ve also considered delving into the pop culture scene from time to time. For example, I’ve always wanted to talk Game of Thrones and Star Wars on this thing but I’ve held back because it’s a sports blog. When I’m not watching sports, I’m usually keeping up on those. I considered doing a Game of Thrones blog where I talk about the differences between the book and show and how well I think each change is done (or poorly), which would take FOREVER. I did get started on it where I would go storyline by storyline and talk about what’s different and what’s the same. I got through Ned Stark’s, Tyrion Lannister’s, and Jon Snow’s storylines before I kind of gave up on it. I was well over 10,000 words and I doubt anybody outside of my parents would want to take the time to read all of what I had to say.

I also really wanted to talk about what I thought of Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi just because of how polarizing it’s been amongst the fanbase. But again, I held back because this is a sports blog. I guess I’ll say this in short: I thought it was very good, but I understand why people have problems with it. I think most of the risks they took were good ones, though there were a couple elements I didn’t care for. For example, SPOILER ALERT, I would’ve liked to have known a little more about Snoke before he was killed off. Now granted, I read the defense that when the Emperor was killed in Episode 6, we didn’t know shit about him except that he ruled the galaxy and he was extremely powerful with the force and had manipulated our lightsaber-wielding villain. That’s basically all we knew about Snoke as well. However the difference between Snoke and Palpatine is that we know about the time period leading between episodes 6 and 7 and Snoke was a character that just kind of popped up within that time frame. Where was he before Episode 7? Why hadn’t we seen him? Was he Darth Plagueis, Palpatine’s master whom he had supposedly killed? We really don’t know. But I think you could do some cool stuff with him now that he’s dead. I think a dark side force ghost could be in the cards here. Perhaps Snoke comes back to torment Kylo Ren and then maybe we can learn a little more about him. Or maybe he projected himself like Luke did when Kylo Ren split him in half. I’m not going to get totally pissed about it until I see Episode 9. My only other major beef was Rose saving Finn. That whole storyline felt like it belonged on the Clone Wars TV series, not in the main films, but I did see how it tied into the main story. I do liked that they tried to do something different with this storyline. It didn’t work for me this time around but I hope they keep trying to show us different sides of the galaxy. I really hope the negative responses to this part of the movie don’t deter them from doing different things. But I hated that Rose saved Finn from going kamikaze on that cannon. I think it would’ve been the perfect way to tie up his character arc: an ex-stormtrooper who has a history of running away from his problems saves the Resistance by not running from a giant cannon that’s going to blast open some doors. But then Rose saved him and gave a dumb little speech about “not killing the ones we hate, but saving the ones we love.” Yeah, okay, that’s great, but the minute you said that, that cannon blasted open the doors shielding the Resistance and the Resistance would’ve been totally screwed had Luke Skywalker not projected himself to fight Kylo Ren (which I thought was freaking awesome). I guess my one other beef was Leia flying through space. That was dumb but it wasn’t dumb enough that it hindered my viewing experience. For me, it was kinda like “oh she’s flying through space like Mary Poppins? That’s dumb. Next scene.” I think Star Wars fans can be real brats about their movies and it’s a real shame because I thought Rian Johnson made a very good film but because it’s got the Star Wars name attached to it, it gets criticism that’s often unfair. But I guess if I had to rank the Star Wars Movies, I would rank them: 5-4-7-8-Rogue One-6-3-1-2. And I’m only ranking Phantom Menace above Attack of the Clones because Phantom Menace had one redeeming quality: the Darth Maul fight. That was awesome. Attack of the Clones had no redeeming qualities.

So that’s going to do it for my rambling blog. Let me know if you want me to occasionally write about things outside the world of sports, especially if we’re in a dead period because I’d like to be able to post every day if I can help it. Give me your thoughts in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.

Hot Stove Roundup

Two players from my Top 10 Free Agent Rankings came off the market among several other moves that were made on Friday. Seems that the signing of Shohei Ohtani by the Angels really did open up the floodgates. So let’s take a look at who’s headed where.

Carlos Santana signs with the Phillies

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This was the big surprise move for me, though I can’t say I’m too shocked to see the Phillies actively searching for some talent now that all those albatross contracts are finally off the books. Though I am surprised that Santana chose the Phillies in this situation. Santana signed a 3-year $60 million deal with a $17.5 million club option for a fourth year with the Phillies, who are coming off a last place finish in the NL East and had the second worst record in the National League. Santana was a part of a winning organization in the Indians prior to this, where he was a big part of their lineup that had the best record in 2017 and nearly won a World Series in 2016. Santana has been one of those guys that, along with some good power, has had a keen eye for the plate. He is coming off a season that featured a 13.2% walk rate, which was the lowest of his career but still ranked 18th in all of baseball. He’s got good power if he does get his pitch as well, as he’s hit 57 home runs over the last two seasons while being a well-above average defender at first base, which is where he will likely slot in with the Phillies. Santana will likely supplant the incumbent Tommy Joseph at first, who underwhelmed in the starting role, as he only hit .240 with a .289 OBP though he showed some good pop with 22 home runs. In addition to the signing of Santana, the Phillies are trading shortstop Freddy Galvis to the Padres for a minor league prospect, opening the door for top prospect JP Crawford to take over as the full-time shortstop. Here’s what a potential Phillies lineup would look like with Santana.

1. Odubel Herrera-CF

2. JP Crawford-SS

3. Rhys Hoskins-LF

4. Carlos Santana-1B

5. Aaron Altherr-RF

6. Maikel Franco-3B

7. Jorge Alfaro/Cameron Rupp-C

8. Cesar Hernandez-2B

9. Pitcher’s Spot

Still not an imposing lineup by any stretch, but one that definitely looks a lot better than last year with the addition of Santana and the emergence of Hoskins. Santana’s ability to draw walks gives new manager Gabe Kapler a lot of different lineup combinations to play with, as he often batted leadoff for Terry Francona in Cleveland because of his great eye. With how bad most of the NL East is outside of Washington, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Phillies quietly emerge as the second best team in the division. Though it is equally likely that they could finish last again. Such is the NL East. As for the Tribe, there’s a bit of a hole at first base, though I think part of last year’s Edwin Encarnacion signing was in preparation for this. If they want to have Encarnacion return to first base, that gives Francona a bunch of options at DH, such as Lonnie Chisenhall, Brandon Guyer, or Hell, even Jason Kipnis if you want to go with Jose Ramirez at 2B and Giovanny Urshela at 3B (which is the better defensive rotation). Lots of options for Tito to work with despite losing a big bat.

Zack Cozart signs with the Angels

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Anaheim strikes again. This time, they sign Zack Cozart away from the Cincinnati Reds and will move him from shortstop to third base because of obvious Andrelton Simmons-related reasons. Cozart was a guy I highlighted in my Free Agent rankings and I mentioned that he’s had some really good seasons at the plate the last couple of years that have each been cut short due to injury. But when healthy, Cozart is a pretty underrated hitter who was finally getting some recognition, as he was voted to the All Star Game in 2017. In 122 games, Cozart hit .297 with 24 home runs and 63 RBI and was worth 5 WAR. Had a bigger-name player put up those numbers, they’d be receiving a $100 million contract but because it’s Cozart and he’s not nearly as big a household name, his deal is for 3 years and $38 million. However age might be a concern in the near future, as he is finally truly breaking out at the age of 32, which may explain the lighter contract a little better.I feel like I do this Angels lineup a lot, but here is what the Angels look like with Cozart in the mix.

1. Ian Kinsler-2B

2. Mike Trout-CF

3. Andrelton Simmons-SS

4. Shohei Ohtani-DH/P

5. Justin Upton-LF

6. Zack Cozart-3B

7. Kole Calhoun-RF

8. Albert Pujols-1B

9. Martin Maldonado-C

If you were to tell me back in 2011 that Albert Pujols would be the weakest link in his starting lineup headed into 2018, I’d say that’s about as likely as the Houston Astros winning a World Series. Well well we live in a VERY different world today than we did in 2011 as we can plainly see and this Angels team on paper should compete with anybody in baseball. That being said, the pitching staff NEEDS to stay healthy, that’s the real key here. The Halos will score runs, I have no doubt about that. But preventing runs is going to be a struggle if something isn’t done about their pitching, in the starting staff and the bullpen.

Matt Moore traded to the Rangers

XXX at Chase Field on September 26, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona.

The San Francisco Giants traded Matt Moore to the Texas Rangers for some prospects in what was likely a salary dump. Moore is set to make $19 million over the next two years and that’s a lot of money to pay the guy who had the worst ERA amongst qualifiers, which is a shame too because this is a guy who showed a lot of promise in Tampa. He was supposed to become their ace, as he started a playoff game so early in his career that he seemed destined for great things. But then injuries became a factor, as Moore underwent Tommy John surgery not long after making that playoff start after only 9 career innings in the Major Leagues. Upon returning, he had a solid season in 2013, going 17-4 with a 3.29 ERA in 27 starts. But injuries struck again as he was only able to make 2 starts in 2014 due to injury. Things just never took off. Eventually, he was traded to the Giants for Matt Duffy. Moore struggled in a Giants uniform, though he managed to stay healthy in his year and a half by the bay. Hopefully this newfound health can help him discover a rhythm and he can find some consistency. If he can, then the Rangers will have a steal on their hands because this guy is as talented as they come.

Yankees are discussing a Gerrit Cole Trade with the Pirates

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Hey, Yankees. Could you fuck off? As if it wasn’t bad enough that the Yankees already acquired Giancarlo Stanton for a bag of peanuts, they’re being linked to the likes of Manny Machado and now Gerrit Cole. Cole has some of the best stuff I’ve seen out of a righty in the Majors. His fastball consistently hits around 96 while his breaking pitches are absolutely ferocious. Cole had a down year in 2017, as he pitched to a 4.26 ERA but that was due in large part to the fact he let up a lot of home runs, as his 1.37 home runs per 9 innings was 15th in the Majors. PNC Park is relatively hitter-friendly in general but if you were to put him in Yankee Stadium, that could spell disaster for the righty. However, in order to hit a home run, you still gotta hit the baseball. Cole is more than capable of 200 strikeout seasons, which he achieved in his excellent 2015 season and nearly achieved in 2017 (196). He missed a large portion of 2016 due to injury. The package being rumored to be involved in a potential Cole trade includes Clint Frazier, who is one of the brighter youngsters the Yankees have in their system. He’s kind of in a logjam in the outfield at the moment, as Judge, Gardner, Ellsbury, Hicks, and Stanton are all likely going to have priority over him. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh’s outfield has underachieved and the Pirates appear to be shopping basically everybody, so there could be an opening for Frazier. Cole was initially drafted out of high school by the Yankees with the 28th pick in the first round of the 2008 draft but he elected to go to college at UCLA and was the number 1 pick of the 2011 draft by the Pirates, so the Yankees do have some familiarity with the righty. I would just hate to have to face him several times a year.

Also Fernando Rodney has a job again, as the Twins signed him to a 1-year deal for $4.5 million with incentives that could push it to $6 million with an option for 2019. This seems to happen every year, as Rodney will have an awful year, hit free agency, get picked up immediately, then have an otherworldly year, then sign with a new team and repeat the process. I’m not even going to try and guess how many times this guy has changed uniforms in the last 5 years. That wraps up another edition of the Hot Stove. Let me know who you think might be next to get off the market in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.