Posts tagged Pirates

Getting to Know Brad Lincoln

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Photo Courtesy of Getty Images via Daylife

12:23 AM: Travis Snider pulled mid game and replaced with Yan Gomes

12:25 AM: Travis Snider hugging teammates and coaches as he leaves the field

12:30 AM: No one has a clue where Snider is going…many speculate it to be for Matt Garza

12:32 AM: Shi Davidi tweets Blue Jays trade Travis Snider to Pirates for Brad Lincoln

12:33 AM: Twitter goes wild

Now that we have chronicled what amounted to a hectic ten minutes lets talk about it. My initial reaction to the trade like many others was something akin to confusion and a state of dumbfoundedness. Mostly because for one “the Blue Jays frickin’ traded Travis Snider!” and for another I simply didn’t know enough about Brad Lincoln.

Here’s a primer on Mr. Lincoln.

Brad Lincoln was drafted 4th overall in the 2006 MLB Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Going in to the 2007 season Baseball America ranked Lincoln as the No. 67 prospect on their Top 100 Prospects List. That same year Baseball America gave Brad Lincoln the prestigious title of having both the Best Fastball and the Best Curveball in the Pirates farm system. All of this praise was despite Lincoln missing significant time in 2006 due to an oblique injury.

Going in to the 2007 season Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus said that in a perfect world Lincoln would be a No. 3 and potentially even a No. 2 starter. Kevin also noted that the Pirates expected Lincoln to move quickly potentially even reaching AA by the end of the 2007 season.

Both Lincoln’s and the Pirates’ plans were derailed in April 2007 when Lincoln went under the knife and got the now infamous Tommy John surgery. That surgery would force Lincoln to miss the entire 2007 minor league season.

In 2008 and 2009 Lincoln would go on to produce uninspiring results for the Pirates hiA, AA, and AAA affiliates, but would still receive a call up in the latter portion of the season. In his short time in the majors Lincoln would produce (if you can even call it that) a K/BB rate among the leagues worst and an ERA, FIP, and xFIP all above 5.00. In 2011 a similar situation would come to fruition. this time Brad Lincoln showed himself to be much more of a ground ball pitcher, but the results he produced were not much better with an ERA, FIP, and xFIP above 4.00.

Getting towards the present, Brad Lincoln began the 2012 season as a seemingly washed out 27-year-old pitcher in AAA. After a short stint in AAA Indianapolis Lincoln was once again called up to the big leagues, but this time in a relief role.

Lincoln has started 5 games this year, but has excelled out of the pen. In totality Lincoln has produced a 25.1 K% and 5.9 BB%, but in relief the K% jumps up to 29.9%, which ranks 21st in the league and the BB% changes to 6.0%. Lincoln’s relief K/BB ratio sits at an even 5.00, which ranks 16th in the league.

Some of this newfound success comes from the fact that Lincoln has posted a ridiculous 99.3 LOB% in relief this year, but keep in mind that relievers generally have higher and flukier left on base rates. Moreover Lincoln has added a couple of MPH on his fastball and it appears that the added MPH are not just a relief mirage because in his 5 starts this year Lincoln has maintained a similar velocity to that of what he has produced out of the bullpen.

As well, being that he has been in the bullpen Lincoln has been able to amplify his two best pitches, his fastball and his curveball, using both at rates ranking at career highs.

All of this has amounted to quite an interesting reliever…one who leads all qualified relievers with a 0.50 ERA on the year, has a 2.31 FIP that ranks 8th among qualified relievers and a 2.78 xFIP that ranks 14th among qualified relievers.

It hurts to give up Travis Snider, it really does. I was among those who believed in Snider’s potential and those who pleaded for his inclusion on the 25-man roster at the beginning of the year. However in Brad Lincoln the Blue Jays are getting an extremely valuable late inning reliever that could become one of those Vinnie Pestano/Sergio Romo types.

The creator of Meats Don’t Clash Mondays will truly be missed, but the return that the Blue Jays got for him is not as bad as initially believed. I didn’t like the trade at first, but as I went deeper and deeper into Lincoln’s stats and scouting reports I became more and more acclimated to the idea of the trade. Brad Lincoln isn’t Matt Garza, but he isn’t that bad and he is under team control until 2018.

This is an official farewell to Travis Snider, best of wishes in Pittsburgh.

Thinking About Yu

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I already made my case for why I think the Jays should aggressively pursue Darvish here, but with the posting amount and team likely to be announced for Darvish today, I thought I would give some final outside the box thoughts on the subject of Japanese superstar Yu Darvish. These thoughts are along the lines of my recent pondering on the extremely low, but potentially viable possibility that the team that wins the post ends up signing Darvish and then trading him away.
Darvish pitching for his NPB team the Hokkaido Fighters

It may seem like an odd thought, but unlike many free agent starters Darvish would be by no means untradable because of a favourable contract and could actually become quite the hot commodity. The reasoning behind this being that because of the posting fee Darvish himself will not get paid outrageously because the team is paying Darvish as if the contract includes the posting fee, but if traded the team trading for Darvish would only have to pay for the actual contract given to Darvish not the posting fee. It’s an outside the box thought, but I’ll make the case for it anyways.

First off what is Yu Darvish‘s value? He doesn’t really have any comps in terms of his stats as they are in the NPB and are much better than anything before him and there really is no comps in terms of a MLB ready Top 10 prospect being traded away for other prospects. On some level for the latter we can look towards a certain Reds first base prospect for some idea of what to expect as he has been a sought after trade commodity this offseason. The current asking price for Yonder Alonso seems to be somewhat along the lines of James Shields, but with the Rays looking at more of a Jeff Niemann or Wade Davis for Alonso. With even just one of those starters plus whatever other prospects the Reds would potentially obtain in a deal it can be considered a pretty large haul.

Then if we look at Darvish who like Yonder is somewhat of a prospect, but unlike Yonder who was only ranked at #73 on Baseball America’s Top 100 list, Yu Darvish is much better. In 2007 Daisuke Matsuzaka was ranked at #1 by Baseball America in their Top 100 List and Darvish is considered almost unanimously to be a better prospect and player than Dice-K. I doubt BA will rank Darvish above the likes of Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, and Matt Moore, but I see no reason why he can’t slot in at #4. Granted in this scenario Darvish is likely making $9 million a year and Alonso would only be making the MLB league minimum salary, so that would decrease his value a little bit, but teams pay for potential and Darvish has tons of it.

So then in a hypothetical situation where say the Pittsburgh Pirates for whatever reason win the posting fee for Darvish and then look to trade him to the Yankees. What would they get from the Yankees, Montero, Betances, Banuelos? I can’t say for sure what the package would be as we don’t have much of a feel for the interest of many of these teams, but the Yankees could have as much as Dellan Betances, Manny Banuelos, and Mason Williams to offer, if they believe in Darvish’s talent and are in a win now situation.

The question then becomes whether taking the hit for the posting fee is worth the prospects in return. The posting fee has been projected to be anywhere from $30 million to as high as $70 million so it is tough to say. Though if the posting fee only ends up being on the low end and comes in at $30 million, would you then trade away a potential ace for a shot at a good set of prospects. With the new CBA the draft costs are already going to certainly go down, so couldn’t this be a chance to exploit the system, essentially paying $30 million for a set of prospects. Because for a team like the Pirates who have spent excessively on the draft in the past few years, could this be one last chance to use the money they had set aside for the draft to acquire other prospects.

Darvish pitching for Japan at the World Baseball Classic

Overall I know this whole thought process does have many flaws such as the very good possibility that the posting fee could exceed $50 million, which would then essentially make this argument moot. But as I described for a team like the Pirates that always spends big on the draft this could be a chance to get around the new CBA to essentially pay for prospects. At this point it doesn’t matter too much as whatever team wins the posting today will retain the sole negotiating rights to Yu Darvish with the hopes of signing him, but if this did happen and I doubt it will it would be a great way to stick it to the man, and by the man I mean Bud Selig.

But with all this said if the Blue Jays win the post and sign Darvish, I don’t think I’d want them doing this as it probably wouldn’t send a good message to the fans. Though enough of my opinion as a fan of the Jays or a fan of anyone else who reads this post would you or would you not be in support of what I said, why or why not?

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