Posted by Mack Ade at 8:00 AM
Scott Strandberg’s prediction -
Neil Walker is a top-ten second baseman.
Coming off a bit of a down year, Walker finds himself entering the season as our No. 17 2B. The 30-year-old’s 2016 wasn’t as bad as it seemed, as his strong finish was masked by an unusually low .270 second-half BABIP. For example, his strikeout-to-walk ratio improved by about 30% post-All Star break, while his ISO jumped from .136 to .188.
I love Walker’s run and RBI potential this year, as he’ll likely hold down the No. 5 spot in the batting order with the Mets, sandwiched between Lucas Duda and Travis d’Arnaud. Don’t sleep on Walker; while he’s far from sexy, something tells me he’ll vastly outperform that No. 17 2B preseason ranking.
Mack – I want to believe in this signing. I really do. I know going in that I’m going to miss Daniel Murphy; however, at the same time I’m excited at the future of Dilson Herrera. Walker would be a great crossing bridge between the past and future of second base on this team.
I have friends both in the Pittsburgh main media and the baseball blogs there and they all tell me the same thing… that we made out big time here in an exchange for a starting pitcher we had no use or room for (Jonathan Niese).
And, tell me if I’m wrong but don’t we get a compensatory first round pick here because Murphy didn’t take the Qualified Offer we made him?
On paper, this looks like a really good deal, but it only works if Walker can duplicate the 16-HRs, 71-RBIs he produced last year in 543-AB (with only 7 errors).
So far this spring –
Walker – 35-AB, .171/.237//286/.523
Herrera – 30-AB, .100/.156/.267//.423
Niese – 3-Games, 0-2, 9.82, 1.55, 11.0-IP, 13-H, 12-R, 4-K
It sure seems like someone needs to step up and turn this into a good one way trade.
Justin Vibber bold prediction –
Travis d’Arnaud will be a top-3 catcher in all formats
This prediction relies on d’Arnaud being healthy this season, but if he is I think we could see 25 home runs with 70+ runs and RBI with a .270 average. In 268 plate appearances last season d’Arnaud had a .355 wOBA, not far behind what Kyle Schwarber did (.364 wOBA) in his 273 plate appearances.
Mack – It’s no big secret that any discussion about d’Arnaud should include a medical diagnosis and a seasoned team of former mash officers.
I too have been quoted with similar projected numbers for d’Arnaud. In fact, I seem to remember by BA projection was .280+.
Buster Olney on the 2016 Atlanta Braves –
Home cookin': 19 of their first 41 games are at home.
Games against teams with a record of .500 or better in 2015: 28 of 41 games.
Notable: Atlanta is rebuilding and everybody knows it, but the first nails might be driven into their 2016 season in the first six weeks because of how many great teams they play. Their first nine games are against the Nationals and Cardinals, and by mid-May, they'll also have three series against the World Series combatants, the Mets and Royals, and they also face the Dodgers, Cubs, Pirates and Diamondbacks. If they are buried early, it actually won't be a bad thing for the front office, which can quickly turn its focus to marketing their veterans -- shortstop Erick Aybar, outfielder Ender Inciarte and maybe others -- for more prospects. Last year, they overachieved early, and it probably complicated some of their decision-making.
Mack – I love it when I read things like this about the Braves and, no, we don’t need any more shortstops, thank you.
Boy, has this team gone to hell quickly.
Asdrubal Cabrera will play four innings in a Grapefruit League game on Monday.