Reese Kaplan -- AL West Trade Targets (Part 4 of 6)


Houston Astros

The high flying Houston Astros are getting pretty good production in most areas of the lineup.  The only disappointments are Carlos Beltran who at age 40 may have reached the end of the road.  As a full time DH he’s hit 3 HRs, driven in 12 and is batting .254.  That’s not much return on a $16 million investment (though it’s still far superior to the nearly as-rich Curtis Granderson).  The starting pitching is anchored by Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers, Jr.  Charlie Morton is doing an average level of performance.  After that it’s ugly.  In the bullpen closer Ken Giles is mirroring his season from a year ago with a somewhat unimpressive 4.11 ERA.  Young Michael Feliz has been brilliant and steady Will Harris is turning in another solid year.  Surprisingly Luke Gregerson who owns a career ERA under 3.00 is pitching to a 6.89 this year.  Teams at the top rarely want to tinker with success, but it’s possible they would want someone like Lucas Duda to provide more than what Beltran has been giving them.  Alex Bregman isn’t setting the world afire and Neil Walker would be a huge upgrade but no one is likely going to want to take on his $17.2 million salary unless you picked up some in return.  Would you do a Neil Walker for Luke Gregerson and a top prospect?  The Astros are so full of quality young starters in their lineup that there have to be some folks blocked in the minors. 

Los Angeles Angels

After Mike Trout, there’s not a lot there.  Albert Pujols is driving in runs but only hitting .232. Yunel Escobar at 3rd base is hitting .272/5/17.  It’s pretty dismal after that.  Every one of the starting pitchers is above 4.00 except Tyler Skaggs eking under at 3.99.  Converted starter Bud Norris is doing a reasonable Dennis Eckersley impression in his first year as a closer.  Jose Alvarez has been pretty much unhittable in a setup role.  Former Met farmhand Yusmeiro Petit is having a fine season with hitters just managing to deliver a .202 BAA.  Journeyman David Hernandez has been even better with batters managing to do .156 against him.  Rounding out the supporting cast is right hander Blake Parker who’s pitching to his career norms.  The left handed Jose Alvarez is probably the best bet assuming they do not want to lose their closer who is only earning $1.75 million.  Surprisingly the Angels are hovering around .500, though trailing the division leading Astros by 8 games already.  

Texas Rangers

The usually slugging Rangers are hovering around the .500 mark with some surprising production from their lineup (both good and bad).  Shortstop Elvis Andrus is demonstrating that last year’s .302 AVG was not a fluke.  Catcher Jonathan Lucroy seems to be a bit under what they had hoped to get.  They have received power from Roughned Odor at 2B and Joey Gallo at 3B, but both are hovering around the Mendoza line.  Mike Napoli is well below it at .165.  Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Gomez and Nomar Mazara are all playing at replacement level.  What’s kept them alive has been what thus far has been the best rotation in baseball – Cole Hamels, Andrew Cashner, Yu Darvish, A.J. Griffin and Martin Perez are all under 4.00 with only Perez significantly over 3.00.  Last year 30 year old rookie Matt Bush turned in a fine season after wrestling his demons that delayed the start to his big league career.  He’s picked right up where he left off with a 1.32 ERA.  Lefty Alex Claudio is now in his fourth season for the Rangers and owns a career ERA of 2.78.  Young Jose LeClerc pitched to a 1.80 ERA in a dozen games as a rookie last year and is doing it again with a 2.31 thus far.  Former Met strikeout specialist Dario Alvarez is still walking too many people, but you can’t argue with a 2.79 ERA and 55 punch outs in 41 IP.   Alex Claudio seems like the prize here and with such a strong supporting case you might be able to talk the Rangers into parting with him.  What do they need?  Well, Neil Walker or Lucas Duda or Wilmer Flores would provide superior DH production or corner infield production. 

Seattle Mariners

This club is sporting one of the better lineups in baseball these days.  While Danny Valencia and Kyle Seager at the corners are having subpar seasons, they’re getting great contributions from household names like Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano and Jean Segura, as well as lesser known players like Mitch Hanigan, Guillermo Heredia and Ben Gamel.  Newcomer Jarrod Dyson is a bit of a disappointment, hitting just .215 but contributing double digits in stolen bases.  Catching is weak as Mike Zunino never seemed to live up to his advance billing and Carlos Ruiz is hitting just .135 at age 38.  For a team with Felix Hernandez, Yovani Gallardo and Hisashi Iwakuma, you’d be very surprised to learn the top starter has been James Paxton who thus far is 3-0 with a 1.43 ERA and just a .190 BAA.  Closer Edwin Diaz appears to have fallen prey to the dreaded sophomore jinx.  Tony Zych has notched one save.  Quality relievers include Nick Vincent, James Pazos and veteran Mark Rzepczynski.  Of this group, I’d like to see the Mets make a run at James Pazos or Tony Zych and possibly offer up Travis d’Arnaud in return.  It’s a low risk move for the Mariners considering how little production they’re getting out of the catcher position.  

Oakland Athletics

1st baseman Yonder Alonso leads the team’s offense with .283/12/29 but then it gets pretty ugly pretty quickly.  Khris Davis has provided 11 HRs but is hitting just .220.  DH Ryan Healy and 3rd baseman Trevor Plouffe have each provided 6 HRs but not much else.  Big right hander Andrew Triggs is having an All-Star type of season.  Jesse Hahn has also pitched quite well thus far.  Sonny Gray started the season on the DL with a strained lat (sound familiar, Mets fans?) and thus far has started just 3 games.  Kendall Graveman is pitching to his 5th starter career norms and big lefty Sean Manaea has been terrible.  Santiago Casilla had been given closing duties off his stellar Giants’ career but he was recently replaced by Ryan Madson after pitching to an ERA over 5.00.  Madson  may have an 0-3 record but he has a 1.98 ERA and the Athletics think he may be the better option going forward.  Lefty Daniel Coulombe is off to a decent start, but nothing in his past suggests it is sustainable.  Oakland has been known to make some head scratching trades over the years, including dumping younger players seemingly too early.  They will likely entertain offers for Alonso, selling high in his free agent walk year, but it seems his production is an outlier and not better than what the Mets have in Lucas Duda or may have in Dom Smith.  I don’t see any trade possibilities here.



Mack Ade said...

Let us talk third base for the Astros.

3 year old Alex Bregman is the current third baseman. He has a bright future in baseball.

Cuban born 32-year old Yulieski Gurriel signed a 5 year contract and already has 130 major league at bats.

And Colin Moran is ready to play somewhere.

Thomas Brennan said...

Neil Walker played like a $17 MM man last night. I'd ride big Neil for now. Sixteen RBIs in his last 16 games, and he has transposed a .207 batting average on May 7 to .270 now. Maybe this hot hand and the return one Cespedes Matz and Lugo in the next several days reverses course for this team.

To Mack's point, we do, though, need a 3B. And Amed Rosario's time may be just around the corner.

Mack Ade said...

The Mets need to address third base before the season is done.

We can talk all day about the potential of players like Jhoan Urena and David Thompson, but the fact remains that we have no one to play this position fULL TIME in 2018.

We also can settle for guys like TJ Rivera and Wilmer Flores but I want someone that can hit ALL pitchers.

Did not we think that Conforto would never hit everyone?

Reese Kaplan said...

You can't learn to hit righties if the Skipper doesn't give you the chance. Conforto learned to hit lefties so why can't Wilmer learn if shown faith and confidence? That being said, I assumed Cabrera would be on 3B with Rosario at SS.

Robb said...

Machado isnt a free agent until after next season, 2018. Also he's getting 6-9 years with opt outs at 30mm+ per year on average. he'll be 26 at free agency. would I do 8 years 260 with an opt out after 5 and the first two years at 22 each. absolutely. but id also be waiting till 2019 to see him.

Thomas Brennan said...

Just curious, but why the heck is Machado hitting .225? Would a package of Rosario and one or two of the Mets' top minors pitchers enough to get him this year? Would the Mets do that?

Robb said...

I cant think of any package that would allow baltimore to trade him. He and conforto are the almost the same age. Unless he stated he wanted out and had no intention of resigning they probably wouldnt trade him for Cory Seager. Sometimes its not only about the player but also the marketing.

As for the average his babip is severely lower then in the past, so bad luck more then anything plus an increase in walks.

Thomas Brennan said...

Reese, in case you are missing all of the latest news:

"Mets GM Sandy Alderson said Monday he isn't blaming manager Terry Collins for the team's poor start this season. "I'm happy with the job Terry has done under the circumstances," Alderson said before the Mets opened a seven-game homestand with a Memorial Day game against the Brewers. "Nobody is happy with the [21-27] won-lost record. There are reasons for the record that have nothing to do with Terry."

Mack's Mets © 2012