Tigers add Zimmermann; an underrated signing

Early yesterday morning Jordan Zimmermann signed a five year $110 million deal, with the Detroit Tigers. A strong starting pitcher was an evident need for the Tigers going into the 2016 season as their rotation was not very good at the end of last season.
After the Tigers traded their ace David Price, the Tigers rotation was a complete and utter mess at the back end, which included 3 rookie arms in Buck Farmer, Matt Boyd, and Daniel Norris. In AAA, Farmer showed hardly any promise and notched an ERA of 4.15, he was later called up by the Tigers who were desperately searching for rotation help, and Farmer clearly wasnt ready as he put up a horrid 7.36 ERA . The duo of Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris who came in from Toronto in the Price trade are both highly touted prospects that have succeeded in the minor leagues, but have yet to find that same success in their young career at the major league level. Jordan Zimmermann will stabilize this rotation to a certain extent.
This ball club has many questions and needs going into 2016 under new GM Al Avila. The team has already answered one of these when they acquired Closer Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez. If the Tigers make a couple more acquisitions in the pitching department, specifically a back of the rotation starter and another late inning stud, they can potentially retake the AL Central throne.
Zimmermann, who will be 30 in May, has been one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball since he broke out in 2011 when he was 25 years old. He has a career ERA of 3.32 and has pitched over 800 innings over the last 4 seasons. Last year, two aces picked up in free agency were Max Scherzer and Jon Lester. These deals were worth $210 million for 7 years and $155 million for 6 years respectively. If you compare the last 3 seasons before Lester, Scherzer and Zimmermann reached free agency, Zimmermann doesn’t fall short of the other two statistically at all. Zimmermann had the best K/BB rate, and the lowest ERA, and WHIP of the 3 of them. The only question is why Zimmermann got a significantly weaker contract than the two.
The answer to this is that Zimmermann struggled (for his standards at least) in the 2015 season, his contract year. He still was able to pitch 3.66 ERA baseball with 201.2 innings pitched and a solid 13 wins despite a train wreck Nationals squad backing him. One thing that could have contributed to his struggles is the change in velocity in his fastball. Zimmerman had consistently thrown his fastball at around 93mph, but at times could rear back and reach 97mph. In the 2015 season this changed, in 2014 he was able to throw a total of 928 pitches above 95mph, but in 2015 he only threw 296. This made his fastball more hittable as hitters no longer had to worry as much about a heater coming in at 97mph, which allowed them to keep their hands back a little longer, and to see it for that split second more, this also affected the effectiveness of his main secondary pitch. His slider was lights out in 2014, but unfortunately this did not stand true in 2015. This is likely due to the lack of difference between the velocities between his fastball and slider. Since Zimmermann hardly threw his fastball over 95mph, it became easier for hitters to adjust to a slower pitch, because the difference in velocity was smaller. The 2015 season was not all bad for Zimmermann.
Despite his decrease in his maximum velocity from his fastball, he was able to increase the minimum velocity of the pitch. In past years he would throw his fastball at 87-88mph at times, but in 2015 he did not throw a fastball below 90mph. His curveball also became much more effective as batters hit a mere .188 against it. The only remaining question is if this decrease in performance will be a continuing downward trend, or merely a blip in the radar.


Jays sign J.A. Happ

The Toronto Blue Jays have once again bolstered their rotation in signing one time Jay and former Pittsburgh Pirate J.A. Happ to a three-year $36 million contract. After spending a trio of years in Toronto, Happ was dealt to the Mariners in exchange for the injury riddled Michael Saunders, and was later sent to Pittsburgh.
After being shipped off to the Pirates last season Happ was stellar sporting a 1.85 ERA and a 7-2 record in 11 starts. His FIP was a slightly higher 2.19 in his 63.2 innings of work in “the ‘Burgh”.
All but out of the David Price sweepstakes, the Blue Jays had to add a starter, and almost more importantly a lefty, to their starting rotation to replace the late-July acquisition.
The former rookie of the year candidate had a solid first stint with the Jays posting FIPs around 4.30 in each season and most impressively he had a 2.80 FIP in his first season in Canada.
The Blue Jays’ rotation shapes up as such if it were to go into 2016 as is right now:
3. Dickey
4. Happ
5. Chavez/Hutchison
Regardless of the need, you can’t help but question giving a 33-year old pitcher who had a third of a season that justifies giving him an average annual value of $13 million. At some point in the three year duration of this contract you’d have to think the money is going to become an albatross to a team that’s already tight on money.
According to the Twitter account Sportsnet Stats, Happ’s contract is the third highest deal, dollar wise, the Jays have ever given to a starter.
As Shi Davidi pointed out this move also leaves Canada’s sole team with minimal money to play with if they tender all ten remaining arbitration eligible players.

Catchers move around

Chris Iannetta left the Angels organization this week and signed with the Seattle Mariners. Iannetta, a longtime Angel, signed a 1-year deal worth $4.25 million including a team option for 2017. He appeared in 92 games last season batting a mediocre .188 with 10 homeruns and 34 RBI’s.

In order to clear space for their new catcher, the Mariners designated John Hicks for assignment. Hicks, who saw action in 17 games in the 2014-15 campaign, batted .063 with one RBI and in AAA he appeared in 83 games with a .245 average, 6 homeruns and 35 RBI’s.

After losing Iannetta the Angels went out and signed Geovany Soto. Soto, entering his 12th MLB season, will look to fill their void behind the plate. He signed a 1-year $2.8 million contract after appearing in 78 games last season with the White Sox.

The White Sox would later sign Alex Avila. Avila, who is also on a 1-year contract, will be earning $2.5 million. He will look to help Tyler Flowers behind the plate after playing first base towards the end of the year last season.

Jose Fernandez trade: A deterrent to Baseball in Miami


The baseball world was set ablaze this week when reports surfaced that there was a possibility the Miami Marlins could move ace Jose Fernandez in the summer. The rumors had their genesis in stalled contractual negotiations between the perpetually-maligned Scott Boras and the Marlins who infamously “banned” the super GM from talks about Fernandez’ workload earlier in the week. A few days later Fernandez stated “I do not know what all this is all about, but Scott Boras will be there, because he’s my agent. I get to decide who is going to be on my phone calls. It’s that simple.”

The rumblings influenced ESPN baseball contributor David Schoenfield to note that the Dodgers, Royals, Red Sox, Twins and Astros could be potential landing spots for the former Rookie of the Year.

Despite the fans’ unequivocal love for the Cuban export players inside the locker room might not always appreciate his semantics “On at least two occasions in the Marlins clubhouse this season, Fernandez approached (president of baseball operations Mike) Hill — according to multiple player sources — and openly said ‘when are you going to trade me?’” said Schoenfield. “There were times this season where, not all, but some players and coaches hoped Jose would go out on the mound and get shelled. [an anonymous player stated] We thought it would get him to be more humble.”

Since coming into the league in 2013, the one time all-star has been the heart and soul of South Floridian baseball, putting a charge in a undoubtedly dormant fan base that adores the Santa Clara, Cuba native. He is, in most ways imaginable, the city of Miami symbolised in a person, effervescent, entertaining and always up for an event.  To trade Jose Fernandez would be a larger hit to the city’s baseball future than any shot management has applied before. The 2012 clear-out ripped the team in half and left franchise centrepiece Giancarlo Stanton unhappy, the Miguel Cabrera/Dontrelle Willis trade ripped out the future and “mojo” of the city but nothing would equate to trading Fernandez.

It would be like killing the ringleader of a gang, he is everything to that city and team, more so than Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton somehow gets people off their phone for three minutes during the game but attendance when Fernandez is on the bump isn’t comparable to when, let’s say, Jarred Cosart is pitching. Having been in attendance when the former Cy Young finalist was on the mound, I can attest to the collective buzz in the ballpark when he makes it to the mound, a buzz astray from the ballpark on any other day than “Jose day”.

Joe Frisaro of MLB.com spoke to some people “in the know” and admits that the Marlins ace will not be dealt, but knowing the people in charge in Miami, intelligent thought isn’t all that depended upon.

Jays acquire Chavez from the A’s


The Toronto Blue Jays made a move to bolster their starting rotation; no they didn’t resign David Price. They did however send right-handed reliever Liam Hendriks to the Oakland Athletics for RHP Jesse Chavez.

Chavez was 7-15 on a struggling Athletics team last season however he pitched 157 innings over a span of 30 games with an ERA of 4.18. Chavez was acquired to bring much needed pitching depth to the Jays rotation. Arbitration eligible at the end of the year, Chavez is set to make 4.7 million dollars this season This trade makes room for Rich Hill in the rotation after Oakland signed him to a 1-year $6 million contract.

Going the other way is relief pitcher Liam Hendriks. The Australian-born pitcher had an impressive season for a very good Blue Jays team. Hendriks saw action in 58 games striking out 71 batters, with a 2.92 ERA; the Jays pitcher had a 5-0 record. Before this season he had a total of 3 career wins in 4 seasons. Coming off his best season, the A’s are hoping that he can have a repeat performance in 2016.

This is a trade that has the potential to be beneficial for both teams. The Jays get some insurance for their rotation if needed while Oakland makes their bullpen stronger on their end of the deal.

Ortiz set to retire after 2016


On his 40th birthday one of the game’s best hitters announced that he will retire at the end of the upcoming season. A clutch performer and a 500 home run hitter, David Ortiz has had great memories playing the game. Well respected by his peers and his fans, the nine time all star will shut the door on a remarkable career.

Ortiz first stepped foot in the MLB making his MLB debut for the Minnesota Twins in 1997. After 6 seasons as a Twin, Ortiz signed a contract with the Boston Red Sox after being released. Ortiz would go on and be a big time contributor for the Red Sox helping them win 3 world series titles and hoping for one last one. Along the way Ortiz also earned the 2013 World Series MVP as well as 6 Silver Slugger awards. The DH/First baseman led the league in RBI’s in 2005 and 2006 and lead the American League in homeruns in 2006.

Ortiz, a native of the Dominican Republic, or  “Big Papi” has had a legendary career. The hopeful future Hall-of-Famer has completed many milestones in a Red Sox uniform. He is 27th in MLB history in home runs and is first in MLB history in homeruns, RBI`s and hits by a Designated Hitter.

To get to where Ortiz is now he went through some bumps on the road. In 2003 Major League Baseball had an anonymous drug survey and Ortiz`s name was on that list although the results were never revealed there have been some people on that list that did test positive. Ortiz is adamant that he never used PED`s. Those results are confidential and could be the reason if Ortiz enters the Hall-of-Fame or not.

The news of David Ortiz’s retirement was a sad thing for Red Sox Nation but it was a pleasure to have him around. Heading into his 20th season in the majors and 14th in Boston fans and teammates alike are ready to embrace Big Papi for one last time. Past and present teammates and coaches have nothing bad to say about Ortiz. The 40 year old DH is ready to put on a show for one last time, Red Sox Nation and others be ready to congratulate and honor a great player that has done so much for the game.


Welcome to Baseballs of Steal

Welcome to Baseballs of Steal, a baseball website that has little to no chance of measuring up to any professional blog you’ve ever read. Despite the collective inexperience with our staff on this site we have people passionate about the game that will present it to you in an informed and, in their minds, relatively funny fashion.

We will cover all topics from when some player inevitably sticks a needle up his ass again to when Scott Boras inexorably gets assassinated by a General Manager.

News, Rumors, Trades, Waivers, Free Agency and Prince Fielder’s gut will all be disused along with why Dan Jennings ever had a job.

This is the inaugural piece on this site and don’t worry, I promise it’ll get better than this.

We are also always looking for writers to add to our staff so shoot me an email at chris_nardella@yahoo.com or Tweet me at @chr_nar.