Midseason Trades Made by Recent World Series Winning Teams

The trade deadline has passed with some teams making moves to drastically improve while others were unable to do a thing. I wonder though, is a deadline deal even necessary to win it all?

Taking a look back at the last five World Series Champions, these are the biggest July moves they made.

2013 Boston Red Sox: Jake Peavy

When Peavy came over to the Red Sox it secured the team one more veteran starter in a rotation struggling to stay consistent and healthy. We forget Jon Lester was not a superstar in 2013 and in spite of his great numbers John Lackey had a 10-13 record.

Peavy was mostly used as a third or fourth starter for the Red Sox after putting on the team’s stirrups. In the playoffs he wasn’t incredibly valuable, going 0-1 and never reaching the sixth inning in any of his three starts. His loss against the Detroit Tigers was dreadful as he gave up 7 runs in 3 innings. Overall he didn’t contribute very much to the eventual winners. In hindsight though, someone else could have done much worse.

2012 San Francisco Giants: Hunter Pence

In back to back seasons Pence was traded from a bad team to one expected to go deep into the playoffs. When he joined the Giants Pence suddenly didn’t look so good. In 59 games with the Giants in 2012 he hit .219 and hit 7 home runs. He did manage to secure 45 RBIs which is a bit of a surprise from his overall numbers.

As for the playoffs, Pence struggled until reaching the World Series. His NLDS batting average was .200 and his NLCS was .179, but did include his lone career postseason home run. After all of the struggles though, he managed to hit .286 in the four-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers. Pence must have wanted the parade to get started quicker than most predicted it would.

2011 St. Louis Cardinals: Edwin Jackson and Octavio Dotel

The Cardinals waited until late in July to trade a disgruntled Colby Rasmus to the Toronto Blue Jays along with a few other players for Edwin Jackson and Octavio Dotel. As low profile of a deal as this was both Jackson and Dotel played great for the Cardinals.

The well-traveled Jackson was 5-2 with a 3.58 ERA pitching for the Cardinals in 13 games. Dotel managed to get into 29 games in relief and held a 3.28 ERA. The trend continues though as Jackson pitched horribly in the postseason other than his first start in the NLDS. The equally as well-traveled Dotel was used pretty frequently on the team’s charge to a championship and unlike those mentioned before him on this list didn’t let the pressure get to him.

2010 San Francisco Giants: Trading Away Bengie Molina

To the surprise of everyone who demands their team make a move at the deadline to get better, the Giants didn’t make any big move at or around the deadline in 2010. The biggest thing they did was trade catcher Bengie Molina to the Texas Rangers to allow Buster Posey to become the everyday catcher.

The team did acquire relievers Javier Lopez and Ramon Ramirez on July 31st. Not by any means players anyone expects you to know they actually had a huge impact. Ramirez had a 0.67 ERA in the regular season and Lopez, only by comparison, had a much worse 1.42. However once the playoffs came around Ramirez’s ERA invented a new highest number. Lopez though continued his successful run and may have been the most underrated part of the team.

2009 New York Yankees: Someone Big, Right?

The Yankees always seem to be the team sweeping up the best available players from those unfortunate organizations bound for an early winter. In 2009 this wasn’t the case. The team did get Eric Hinske, Chad Gaudin, and Jerry Hairston Jr. during the season; you know, true Yankees legends.

Of the three only Gaudin did put up worthy numbers. Hinske and Hairston Jr. were only meant to be bench players anyway and served the role just fine. For instance Hinske hit 7 home runs in 84 at-bats with only a .226 batting average. If any team had made a big trade at the deadline to help them win a World Series in the last five years I would have thought it was the Yankees.

The conclusion I get from this is that most championship teams are made long before July. Sorry to break it to you Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics fans. The Toronto Blue Jays may actually know what they are doing by not making any moves.

Photo Credit: By Mr.schultz (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

New Vocabulary Words for Ruben Amaro Jr.

This was written before the 2014 season for Yahoo Sports. After the Philadelphia Phillies failed to make a single deal at the trade deadline today, I thought it was an appropriate post.

The word “rebuild” is not in Philadelphia Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr.’s vocabulary.

Words like “restock” or “retool” are the other words used to explain team transactions.

Restocking and retooling is far different from rebuild. Using those two words implies there is already a stock or tools that the team needs more of.

There are other words beginning with “re” the Phillies should consider using if willing to take a more honest approach:

Reexamine

Admitting your mistakes is not a sign of weakness. In fact, for many it can be a sign of strength. Amaro Jr. needs to take the chance to reexamine the situation. What he will end up finding is that he has gone about things the wrong way.

Everybody knows Amaro Jr. has faltered. Multiple big contracts that did not pay for themselves through player performance have made him disliked by many.

The position that he is in, Amaro Jr. has been mindful to never publicly admit the shortcomings the team he helped assemble has had in recent years. However, the time has come where fans would be willing to accept an honest claim that the team is not what he hoped it would be.

Renounce

Going further, Amaro Jr. needs to renounce his old style. The moves he made and the reasons why he did them do make sense, aside from the fact they build up new problems along the way.

What really needs to be done is a renouncement of the strategy the team had. Top-quality yet expensive veteran pitching along with free-swinging impatient hitters has not worked.

The ability for the Phillies to draw walks was lost somewhere. A walk became a mythological creature, rarely seen. Little was ever done to change this.

The “Moneyball” strategy may have never led to a World Series for the Oakland Athletics, but the opposite has not worked in Philadelphia, either. Teams need base runners to win, and this is simply not something the team has been capable of getting enough of in recent years.

Respect

Sometimes overlooked, showing respect to the fans is important as anything. The best way to do this is by never insulting their intelligence.

Telling Phillies fans that the team they currently have is a contender is the biggest lie since your algebra teacher insisted your time was not being wasted.

Taking salaries out of the equation, there may not be a single team in Major League Baseball that would be willing to switch organizations with the Phillies. Even the teams the Phillies are better than have a brighter future with young talent.

Relax

A major problem throughout Amaro Jr.’s time as Phillies general manager has been the panic decisions he seems to make. Amaro Jr. will never write a book on how to build a successful baseball team. His strategy is simply to make obvious moves without thinking about the side effects.

Amaro Jr. needs to relax. Not all problems have a quick and simple solution. Instead of letting other teams set the market, Amaro Jr. has overpaid for players like Jonathan Papelbon and Marlon Byrd. Both were signed early on in the free-agent period. Had he waited he may not have gotten them, but considering the results that may not have been the worst result.

Replace

The strategy used by Amaro Jr. seems to be addition. He will make trades or free agent signings that add on instead of replacing what has left the team.

Third base, the three outfield positions and a setup man in the bullpen have been near empty on the roster since legitimate starters had those roles. There is never a replacement in the minor league system ready to come up to fill in for these missing pieces.

At this point, the only way to save the Phillies might be to replace their biggest problem, Amaro Jr.

Remember

Learning from your mistakes is the best thing anyone can do. Amaro Jr. seems to lack the ability to remember what did not work in the past. Time and time again, he repeats the same mistakes. Amaro Jr. has become his own brand with no signs of having the ability to change. Even Coca-Cola gave it a shot in the 1980s.

The Phillies do not need to rebuild, restock or retool. The simplest thing they can do now is to re-brand by releasing Amaro Jr. Only this will rectify the problem.

Once Again the Boston Red Sox Show How to Work the Trade Deadline

After several disappointing days leading into the trade deadline there was finally a lot of excitement today. David Price went to the Detroit Tigers. Jon Lester went to the Oakland Athletics. And even Jarred Cosart went to the delusional Miami Marlins who for the sanity of the city we have to hope was done for the future and not now.

Overall there weren’t very many trades, but through them we do have an unlikely winner: the Boston Red Sox.

I am very impressed with what the Red Sox did today. Like they did when they traded Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, and Nick Punto to the Los Angeles Dodgers the team has made a trade, in this case multiple trades, to benefit them as soon as next season.

The Red Sox started the day by dealing ace Jon Lester and outfielder Jonny Gomes to the Athletics for Yoenis Cespedes. So really what they did was secure an All-Star outfielder for a pitcher who most likely was headed elsewhere in 2015.

Not done yet, the Red Sox sent John Lackey and minor leaguer Corey Littrell to the St. Louis Cardinals for Joe Kelly and Allen Craig. Kelly is a young big league pitcher who has done pretty well so far in his career and up until this season Craig was a having some very productive seasons especially when it came to knocking in runs.

The Red Sox even went as far as trading Stephen Drew to the hated New York Yankees for Kelly Johnson. Other than for financial reasons this was pretty much a useless trade, but still says something about their willingness to make a deal with the devil if it means doing what’s best for the organization.

Suddenly even after getting rid of a lot of players the Red Sox look pretty good and with some extra cash to spend next season. Their rotation is now open for Brandon Workman to show the team what he’s got down the stretch before inducting him into the rotation permanently in 2015.

On paper the Red Sox look like they may have everything needed to be one of the best teams in baseball as soon as next season. They are the perfect mix of top-level veterans and young stars trying to earn their keep. The only thing that needs addressing in the offseason will be their rotation, which has been completely destroyed. Lester, Lackey, Jake Peavy, and Felix Doubront have all been traded this season leaving Clay Buchholz alone on the dugout steps.

The only real loser for the Red Sox might be Lackey who now joins A.J. Pierzynski and his “kind words” in St. Louis. Hopefully things aren’t too awkward between them. Lackey probably knows by now to leave his toothbrush at home.

Photo Credit: By User werkunz1 on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as “Fenway Stadium”) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

How Catchers Passed Shortstops as a Top Offensive Position

It started with Ernie Banks then Cal Ripken Jr. and continued into the 1990s with Alex Rodriguez, Nomar Garciaparra, Barry Larkin, Derek Jeter, and many others. Shortstop, a position traditionally set for the weak-hitting slick-fielding eight-hole hitter, had evolved. No longer was this a position defined by your infield range and arm. This became a position where a true power hitter could play.

Shortstops in today’s MLB have taken a step back. They are still nowhere near the likes of Larry Bowa or Ozzie Smith. Outside of a few names like Troy Tulowitzki and J.J. Hardy, the shortstop position is back to being more about defense, speed, and choking up on the bat. That is not to say all shortstops fit this mold. Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins is notorious for popping out on the first pitch and he’s been doing this job for longer than most.

Similar to the shortstop position are catchers. A catcher is required to be a team leader as the responsibilities here are far greater than most. Their duties go beyond hitting and fielding. They have to not only study players on the other teams, they also have to study their own pitchers and develop a unique relationship with each one for the best results.

Years ago there was the occasional catcher who broke free of the stereotype of an inept bat. Yogi Berra, Johnny Bench, and Carlton Fisk were unique power hitters among their peers and arguably three of the best ever at the position. The 1990s saw the rise of the eventual all-time home run leader for catchers, Mike Piazza. The 1990s and early 2000s of course are not a good comparison to anything in baseball. During this era even middle relief pitchers in the American League were taking steroids to help them hit the ball further.

Fast forward to this season and I have noticed the shortstops have fallen off and the catchers are at the top of their game. Leading the way are former MVPs Buster Posey and Joe Mauer. Mauer may not have the consistent power numbers that Posey or others have, but the lifetime .323 hitter certainly is headed to Cooperstown if he continues at the pace he is on. Known more for his amazing defense more than his bat, Yadier Molina finished the first half leading the National League with a .341 batting average. These three catchers alone have changed the position. None will most likely ever win a home run title, but a batting title is more than possible, something Mauer has already done three times, Posey once, and Molina has the potential to do it this season.

The next tier of catchers may not be .300 hitters. Still, they are valuable commodities to their teams. Brian McCann of the Braves has been a consistent threat in the middle of the lineup for about seven years now. Younger players like Carlos Santana, Salvador Perez, Wilin Rosario, and Jonathon Lucroy have yet to even reach their full potential. The depth at the catching position is deeper than it has been in a long time.

For shortstops names like Ian Desmond and Jean Segura have had breakout seasons. Starlin Castro looks back at his best too after a very disappointing 2013 season. Of course there are always names waiting to bust out like Andrelton Simmons of the Atlanta Braves or even Jurickson Profar of the Texas Rangers, if shortstop is even the position they decide to assign him. Others like Jhonny Peralta, Hanley Ramirez, and Jose Reyes are wild cards. All three are veterans now and injury prone.

For now it looks like there are more promising offensive players behind the plate. Remember, Bryce Harper started out as a catcher and was moved to the outfield to save his knees. Things can always change. The next Derek Jeter could be drafted in the 40th round and a future Johnny Bench could turn into a Steve Chilcott. That’s the beauty of baseball, it is ever-changing and unpredictable.

Photo Credit: By User bryce_edwards on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as “Buster Posey”) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The Forgotten Benefit of Not Trading a Big Name Upcoming Free Agent at the Trade Deadline

So your team was unable to trade away a top player with an expiring contract whom you know will most likely not return next season. Before you run an Accurint on the General Manager’s home address, take into consideration what your team will get back.

One of the many forgotten rules in baseball happens slowly and without too big of a bang. Whenever a free agent signs with another team his old organization receives compensation in the following year’s draft. It’s a pretty complicated format which involves factoring in the money each player makes in the new contract and a ratings system to determine where in the draft the team gets to select.

This is a fairly new rule too. It has both good and bad. It’s good because it keeps the smaller market teams contending as long as their scouting does well. It’s bad because even after reading up on it and having to deal with this issue in Out of the Park Baseball for the multiple seasons I rushed through, I’m still absent on all of the rules and how this all works. I guess this makes me halfway to becoming a real GM.

Thankfully I know this rule exists. Therefore I’m a little more understanding when teams decide against making a trade for something they aren’t too interested in.

After all, Mike Trout was taken by the Los Angeles Angels when they received a draft pick from the New York Yankees for the free agent signing of Mark Teixeira. This was a far different situation and the rules have since been changed where this would have never happened.

For more information on why you should avoid throwing rocks at your favorite team’s owner for not picking up a bunch of prospects in a trade involving an upcoming free agent, here is a little more support on this topic.

Fantasy Baseball Take On Tyson Ross

Oh the San Diego Padres. The team we love to ignore and hate to be forced into paying attention to. My biggest problem with the Padres this season is how incredibly boring they are. The third season of Dexter had more excitement than their offense.

The only thing the Padres can brag about from the 2014 season is how talented their pitching staff appears. I say appears because even I could have an ERA under 4.00 pitching at Petco Park; or maybe slightly above depending on how well my changeup works.

One pitcher I do like on the Padres is Tyson Ross. A guy who seems like a top-rated rookie coming of age, Ross actually has a lot more experienced than most people realize.

A young 27-years-old, Ross pitched three seasons from 2010-2012 with the Oakland Athletics. He split time between the bullpen and as a starter in that time before coming to the Padres in 2013. In that season, he continued his role as a spot starter. The Padres saw something in him and in 2014 made the right decision to name this guy a full-time man in the rotation.

On what I think is the worst team in baseball in spite of what their record may claim, Ross maintains a .500 record with a very low 2.65 ERA. He’s not simply a guy who has benefited from a lot of long fly balls tracked down by his outfielders either. Ross averages a strikeout per inning, which is crucially beneficial in fantasy baseball. Pitchers who strike out lots of batters add points and tend to have more control of any given game.

Ross has been as dependable as anyone this season. He has gone at least 5 innings in every start. His average seems to be 7 innings with 7 strikeouts and a run or two per game. Pitching in Petco also helps. Ross has only given up 3 home runs at home all season and has held batters to a .193 average.

Because he plays for the Padres he will not pack in the wins until they have a better team which may take a while. You should know that even in his losses his ERA has been a respectable 4.11 and in no-decisions it has been 2.37. What this means even more is that when Ross does win he works hard to earn it. In the 10 wins he has this season, Ross has maintained a 1.30 ERA. Ross deserves far more wins than he has too. Thankfully he can easily add a few to your fantasy baseball team even when his team doesn’t support him.

Two Websites Every Fantasy Baseball Player Should Use

Unlike fantasy football where you can get lucky and win the championship the same way my sister beat me at Mortal Kombat by smashing all of the buttons at once, fantasy baseball requires a lot of attention. You have to update daily, take notice to match-ups, and make sure you have the best lineup starting.

Thankfully most, hopefully all, fantasy baseball leagues do offer many features that help you best learn how your hitters do against the starting pitcher and how the pitcher performs against the lineup he will be facing. There’s more to it though than knowing B.J. Upton has a .429 batting average against Justin Verlander. To be fair, Verlander was probably asked by B.J.’s sister Kate Upton to go easy on him.

For anyone looking for a slight yet overlooked advantage over the competition, here are two websites all fantasy baseball players should use.

Rotowire

Rotowire is a great website with a lot of information for fantasy baseball players. Its best features are injury updates and very accurate lineups available way before many of the fantasy league websites put them out. Make sure you check this site before assuming everyone in your starting lineup is actually playing.

Daily Baseball Data

Daily Baseball Data is not the only website out there providing accurate weather reports for every baseball game, but it is definitely my favorite. What I like best is how it breaks down the weather before, during, and after the game. As anyone who has stepped outside the house ever knows, people suck, weathermen are often wrong. Weather is important in baseball for position players because they won’t play and pitcher because an early rain delay could chase them from the game. Always check the weather of your games before especially in pitching heavy leagues. A little bit of rain can ruin your whole week.

Attention Everyone: It’s Paul Konerko’s Final Season Too

Derek Jeter is getting canonized by the baseball community this season as it has already been announced that this will be his last. From the gifts given to him each time he arrives in a city for the final time to the smooch-fest at the All-Star Game, Jeter has been treated like a god, pharaoh, and Backstreet Boy in 1998.

This farewell tour nonsense is not anything new. Players have been doing for a while now however it seems like every year there is someone pulling a Jay Leno and announcing their retirement way in advance. The 2012 season had Chipper Jones, 2013 had Mariano Rivera, and right now we’re living through Jeter’s year of appreciation.

A much more humble player retiring after this season is Paul Konerko. Although he isn’t a player on the caliber of Jeter or anyone else with their own automatic All-Star trip because of what they did in the past, Konerko does deserve some recognition.

Never quite reaching the level many thought he could, Konerko still put together a very fine career. What began with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1997, Konerko has amassed more home runs and a better batting average than Cal Ripken Jr., 2001’s Farewell Tour Holder.

Of course because Ripken Jr. played in so many games a lot of his other numbers are better than Konerko, but it cannot be denied how consistently just below superstar Konerko was from the time he first became a full-time player until as recent as 2012 when he was still playing very good baseball.

Playing in Chicago for the city’s second favorite team who just happens to have more World Series victories in the last 100 years, Konerko never became a nationally respected player. He never led the league in anything other than double plays grounded into back in 2003 yet his numbers are still impressive. For instance he has more home runs and runs batted in than guys like Joe Medwick, Johnny Bench, Orlando Cepeda, Mike Piazza, Duke Snider, and Carlton Fisk; just to name a few.

Odds are Konerko will not receive enough votes to become a Hall of Famer once eligible. He has had a career very similar to Fred McGriff with slightly weaker numbers. Because he never stood out Konerko’s status as a top hitter will eventually be forgotten.

Thankfully Konerko did spend most of his career with one team and they love him for it. He will get the proper sendoff by the White Sox that he deserves.

Konerko was not a once in a lifetime player nor was he someone to ever have an award named after him. He was however everything you would want in a professional athlete–stressing on the word professional without totally overlooking athlete.

Photo Credit: By PaulOwenCK55 [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Fantasy Baseball Take On Phil Hughes

The ace, a term used loosely, for the Minnesota Twins this season has been Phil Hughes. After 7 seasons with the New York Yankees, Hughes joined the Twins in the offseason and has put together a very fine year for a terrible team.

Hughes is not a fantasy baseball savior or a dog. He is one of those players best used as a last resort free agent signing who will join your team multiple times during the season. In deeper leagues he’s pretty good right now to hold onto as there have been so many injuries most teams are now using AAA starters at number four and five in their rotation. Because of this there are fewer starters to choose from which makes Hughes a far more valuable asset.

What I like about Hughes is his strikeout to walks ratio. He doesn’t blow batters away with lots of strikeouts, but the numbers he has put together by comparison is impossible to ignore. Through his first 20 starts of the season Hughes has struckout 109 batters and only walked 12. This is an absolutely outstanding ratio and something that has helped him drastically. Fewer walks have meant fewer runners on base. When he does make a mistake it hasn’t been nearly as devastating as it would if he was giving up walks at a more human-like rate.

The biggest downside to Hughes seems to be his inability to consistently go deep into games. While he has managed to go at least 5 innings in each game this season, he does not reach 100 pitches very often. In leagues where innings count this is a little troublesome. Luckily his lack of walks make up for the fewer innings and everything is eventually evened out.

Hughes is definitely a guy to grab onto if you can get him for cheap. He should get plenty more starts against the rest of the often times offensively weak American League Central which will lead to more innings and hopefully more wins than the average pitcher.

Photo Credit: Mandalatv at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The Best Young Pitching Staffs in Baseball

Is there anything more valuable than talented young starting pitching in baseball? If there is then every general manager needs to reassess their life. A talented and young starting rotation is not a guaranteed formula for winning however it certainly is a comfort. These are the three teams in baseball currently with youngsters holding down spots as starters making the future brighter for the organization.

Miami Marlins

Overall the Miami Marlins are a very young team. This is usually how it goes when the owner is reluctant to spend money. Thankfully these baby-faced arms have performed well in their brief careers and may be headed toward dominating the National League East for the next decade.

At the top of their rotation is future Cy Young winner Jose Fernandez. Although out for rest of the 2014 season due to an injury, the sample-size for Fernandez is large enough to know that he is for real. His .667 winning percentage in both 2013 and 2014 on a pretty bad team shows just how dominant he is. Averaging more than a strikeout per inning, he could be well on his way to becoming one of the greatest of all-time.

The Marlins’ rotation goes beyond Fernandez though. Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez are only one step behind Fernandez. Both of these men lack the ability to dominate, but have enough talent to win games over anyone. Alvarez in particular has tossed 3 shutouts in 2014 in his first 13 starts. For a guy seemingly arriving out of nowhere he has people all over taking notice.

Oakland Athletics

Known best for finding gems in the starting lineup willing to play for little money, the Oakland Athletics should actually be known for growing starting pitchers through the organization. They have a keen eye for pitchers and the current crop is worth a mention.

The team’s ace has become Sonny Gray. Gray was the team’s first pick in 2011 so it comes as no surprise he has pitched well. His stuff isn’t overpowering and surely he will never be deemed a pitcher on the level of a Randy Johnson. Instead Gray wins games by using the Oakland Coliseum and other ballparks to his benefit. He’s not afraid to give up a base runner or two because Gray has something all young pitchers need: confidence.

Joining Gray in the rotation are Dan Straily and Drew Pomeranz. Both at 25-years-old, they have showed they deserve to not only be on a major league roster, they can be depended on to give their team a quality start. Neither has yet to pitch as much as Gray has, although with the current state of the rotation and an injury for Scott Kazmir looming at any moment they will have every opportunity to take the mound in the first inning to prove they deserve it.

Seattle Mariners

Thank goodness the Houston Astros moved to the American League West because now the Seattle Mariners don’t need to worry about finishing in last place. An even more important reason a last place finish is unlikely in 2014 is their young pitching staff that could end up being one of the best within the next two years.

Beginning with Felix Hernandez who is surprisingly still only 28-years-old, the Mariners have developed into a team with good pitching to supplement their sometimes impotent offense. We know all about Hernandez and his dominant ways. The new guys like Roenis Elias, James Paxton, and Taijuan Walker are the next in line to join the rotation as elite stars.

Walker and Paxton were drafted together in 2010; Walker in the first round’s supplemental draft and Paxton in the fourth. Both have spent a very limited time in the major leagues due to injuries however when healthy they have done a fantastic job. Meanwhile Elias looks to be a pitcher who can go deep into games and rack up some strikeouts. His clear weakness so far has been the long ball and giving up walks although he hasn’t done this ad nauseam. A little more experience and he should adjust to major league hitters.

Photo Credit: By Scott U (Sonny Gray (3)) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons