27 Jun MLB Mail Bag: Fan Questions Answered: Week 13
By: Lou Landers – @RealSportsCrew
In today’s edition of MLB mail bag, I’ll be discussing 4 current topics around the world of MLB. These topics and more are also discussed on the Sports Buffet Podcast which can be found right here.
1) Phillies have made Maikel Franco available in trade talks
This once top prospect and untradeable asset of the Phillies is having a really tough season in 2017. After taking the baseball world by storm in his first real taste of big league action back in 2015 and following that up with a 25 HR and 88 RBI season in 2016, Franco and the Phillies have fallen flat on their heads. The Phillies own the worst record in MLB as the month of June begins to wind down, and their so called “Super Star” is barely hitting over .220.
According to multiple reports, Franco has been made available in trade talks to any team that is willing to listen. This is of course interesting on many levels. He is still only 24 years old and is under team control for another 3+ seasons after this one and because of this, the Phillies could get back a haul of prospects, despite Franco’s struggles in 2017. There are a number of contending teams who can use an upgrade at 3B this season but those aren’t the only trade partners for the Phillies. Of course teams like the Yankees and Red Sox are in need of an upgrade at 3B this season, however both organizations have terrific prospects who are expected to take over those positions sometime before the end of the 2018 season.
With that being said, the Phillies may look to trade Franco to a team who is looking to compete as early as next season and currently lacks 3B production. Certain teams come to mind in this scenario. One team is the Miami Marlins, however they are inter division rivals, making a trade more unlikely. The two teams who I think can benefit most from a trade for Franco would be the Pittsburgh Pirates or the Chicago White Sox. The Pirates still have a good young core and could use a power hitting 3B in the middle of their lineup. The White Sox on the other hand may be one of the weaker teams in baseball in 2017, yet they also have some of the best young prospects in the game today. Adding Franco and eventually calling up Yoan Moncada would give the White Sox one of the best young infields in MLB when you consider they already have Tim Anderson and Jose Abreu slotted in at SS and 1B.
2) Orioles allow 5 + runs in 21 straight games
After a hot April, the Baltimore Orioles have been in quite the free fall. The once first place Orioles now find themselves tying to stay away from the basement in the American League East division. They currently find themselves a game under .500 and just one game up on the Toronto Blue Jays entering play on Monday, June 26th. Some of this can be attributed to a down season from star 3B Manny Machado and expected regression from 2016 home run leader Mark Trumbo.
Even with their offensive struggles, I’d be remised if I didn’t discuss the dreadful pitching on this Orioles ball club. Aside from SP Dylan Bundy, this Orioles rotation has been nothing short of atrocious. Kevin Gausman and Chris Tillman are two of the worst SP statistically in all of MLB in 2017 and neither one is showing many signs of improving. To make matters worse, the O’s are also without their closer Zach Britton who has been sidelined for most of the season. This of course has impacted their bullpen in more ways than one. Not only do they not have baseball’s top closer from 2016, but they have also overworked guys like Brach, Givens and O’Day which has led to fatigue and poor performances. This month the Orioles broke a 90+ year old record by allowing 5+ runs in 21 consecutive games. I am no mathematician but I do know that it is next to impossible to play winning caliber baseball when you’re constantly allowing that many runs. Don’t be surprised if the Orioles throw in the towel at some point in July and begin to sell off pieces as the trade deadline approaches.
3) Corey Kluber 10+ strikeouts in 3 straight starts
Kluber has been the Indians ace since the middle of the 2013 season. He made a name for himself by winning the 2014 Cy Young Award and has since been one of the more dominant SP in all of baseball. He of course helped lead the Indians to the World Series last year, pitching incredibly well in the post season, however it’s easy to make the argument that pitching that deep into October and even into November has a lasting affect on a pitcher. It is also worth mentioning that Kluber has been a work horse, averaging over 200 innings between 2013-2016.
That is why this season when he hit the DL, people weren’t that surprised. There were questions surrounding him; would he bounce back after being on the DL and can the Indians survive without him in their rotation. Well, since his return, the Indians and Kluber have silenced any critics. The Indians are right in the thick of things in the AL Central and are still without Kluber’s rotation mate, Danny Salazar. Kluber himself has been incredible since coming off the DL. Since his first start back on June 1st, Kluber has allowed just 5 earned runs in 35 IP and has recorded double digit strikeouts in 4 of the 5 starts. He has added a complete game shut out in one of the starts and is coming off a 13 strikeout performance in his most recent outing against the division rival Twins. It appears that Kluber is back, fully healthy and is on a mission to help the Indians repeat as AL Central Division champs.
4) Wilson Ramos returns from DL for Tampa
Ramos made his 2017 season debut this past Saturday, recording 1 hit in 4 AB’s. If you recall, last season was a breakout season for Ramos while he was a member of the Washington Nationals. He was arguably a top 3 catcher in MLB before his season was cut short due to injury. Even though Ramos missed the last 4+ weeks of the season, he managed to hit over .3oo with 22 homers and 80 RBI playing catcher pretty much every day. Of course his injury hurt his value when he hit the free agent marker this past winter, yet he was still able to find a home in Tampa, inking a 2 year deal.
Many wondered why the Rays would invest that sort of money in Ramos. Firstly, they’re a small market team with limited funds and secondly, not many people had them competing in the AL East this season. Whoever thought that (myself included), has been proven wrong thus far and now the Rays have added a potential offensive force to a lineup that is already over achieving in 2017. Ramos will not only help lengthen this lineup, but he will also be a welcomed addition behind the plate. The Rays have a relatively young pitching staff, specifically in their rotation, and Ramos should help not only with their future development, but also in their production on the mound this season as well. I’m not expecting him to put up the numbers he did in 2016, however, if we even see a glimpse of what we saw last year, this Rays team may end up being for real.