Posted by Reese Kaplan at 8:00 AM
Atop the NL West, the surprising Rockies are getting production where they least expected in from guys like Mark Reynolds, and almost no production from people they anticipated would provide it, including Carlos Gonzalez, Trevor Story and Ian Desmond. They have a strong 1-2 punch with rookies Kyle Freeland and Antonio Senzatela. After that the starting pitching is like typical Rockies starting pitching. Their bullpen is rock solid, with Greg Holland posting 16 saves already, followed by three others with ERAs under 3.00, plus Mike Dunn and Adam Ottavino delivering quality innings as well. Players to target here would include lefty relievers Chris Rusin, Mike Dunn and Jake McGee. Of course, obtaining a lefty would not necessarily solve the Mets problems since the Skipper has never understood that lefties are legally allowed to face right handed hitters, too.
Los Angeles Dodgers
This team has its issues for sure. After All-Universe pitcher Clayton Kershaw, you have credible starts coming from Alex Wood and Brandon McCarthy. 20 year old Julio Urias (imagine that – a young player promoted to the majors!) is pitching credibly in his first 4 starts. Veterans Hyun-Jin Ryu and Kenta Maeda have not been good at all. The bullpen is strong. In addition to closer Kenley Jansen, you have Luis Avilan, Josh Fields and Pedro Baez all pitching to sub-2.00 ERAs. 2nd year player Ross Stripling has pitched credibly as well. Targeting any of these relievers would be good, but I’d also be very interested in left fielder Andrew Toles who once stole 62 bases in a minor league season. I’m guessing they’re growing weary of Joc Pederson’s unrealized potential but the Mets probably don’t need another all-or-nothing type swinger. If they REALLY wanted to take a chance, might it be worth trying to pick up Cuban malcontent Yasiel Puig? He’s persona non grata in LA. His ego and Cespedes’ ego might play against one another, each trying to prove he’s the bigger man. That could be good. It could also blow up in your face.
No need for offensive upgrades really pretty much anywhere. The pitching rotation is headed by the pair of Zacks -- Greinke and Godley. In fact, Godley is pitching better than the injured Shelby Miller was. Taijuan Walker is showing why he was so highly regarded in Seattle. Patrick Corbin and Robbie Ray are certainly not great, but they're not killing the Snakes either. Big need for a closer since Fernando Rodney is pitching to an ERA over 9.00. Fortunately Archie Bradley, J.J. Hoover, Andrew Chafin and converted starter Jorge De La Rosa have all been pitching to sub 3.00 ERAs. Archie Bradley and Andrew Chafin would be great additions. A change-of-scenery option to consider is Yasmany Tomas who is having a somewhat slow start this year after clubbing 30 HRs in 2016. He's slated to earn some fairly big money over the next few years but Curtis Granderson will be gone, Jay Bruce may be gone, Lucas Duda may be gone, Neil Walker may be gone and David Wright might actually retire. Since Tomas plays both 3rd base and outfield he is a good hedge against both Wright and Bruce. He'd average $15.3 million for each of the next three years. Of course, if you're going for broke then I'd inquire what it would take to make Paul Goldschmidt a New Yorker. He's going to earn just $11.1 million next year and has a $14.5 million option for 2019 before becoming a free agent. You'd have to send a boatload of players to Arizona to make that happen.
San Francisco Giants
Surprisingly the perennial contender Giants find themselves only 1 game out of last place. Obviously losing 4-time All Star pitcher Madison Bumgarner to a dirt bike accident hurts, but it’s really the team’s lack of offense that’s propelling them towards the cellar. Buster Posey is a true superstar, but after that it’s pretty dismal. Brandon Belt provides a little bit of power but a .221 batting average. Hunter Pence has just 3 HRs and a .243 average. From there it’s a very rapid downhill slide throughout the rest of the roster. Center field has been split between FA Denard Span, ex-Met Justin Ruggiano and ex-6-team veteran, Drew Stubbs. They need help pretty much everywhere but catcher and 1st base. In the starting rotation you now have Johnny Cueto leading the pack with a 4.15 ERA. It gets worse from there. It’s not as if they’re trotting out chopped liver. They are similar to the Mets in that their starters are all underperforming, including Matt Cain, Jeff Samardzija, Matt Moore and solid if unspectacular rookie Ty Blach filling in for Bumgarner. The bullpen is led by closer Mark Melancon who has been hittable (opposing batters garnering a .303 against him) yet still manages to dodge trouble with a 2.53 ERA. Four pitchers are doing quite well for them – Cory Gearrin, Hunter Strickland, Josh Osich and Derek Law. Of this group the one I’d target is Strickland who for his career has a 2.51 ERA, a .208 BAA and a WHIP of 1.04. That’s quality.
San Diego Padres
As per usual, the Padres are pretty much a mess. They have Wil Myers at 1st base providing good return on their investment. Rookie Manuel Margot in center field is also performing well with a little bit of power, some base running speed and a .285 average. The next highest batting average among regulars is Yangervis Solarte at just .237. 3rd baseman Ryan Schimpf has provided 9 HRs but is only batting .161. Catcher Austin Hedges contributed 8 dingers but sports a .209 average. They need help on offense. As far as pitching goes, Trevor Cahill is having a fine season as a starter but that’s about it for the rest of the team. In the bullpen closer Brandon Maurer has a 6.00 ERA and the only credible arm out there belongs to former Marlin Brad Hand who’s putting together his second straight strong season for the Padres. Hand would be a good get but again you face that lefty issue for whom Terry Collins has a blind spot.