Tagged: Athletics

2014 MLB Bobblehead Battle: AL West

Is there any better ballpark promotion than the bobblehead?  The answer is no. This is part one of a six-part series, giving you the breakdown of what bobbling wonders will be at the stadium this spring and summer.  Each bobblehead will be rated 1-5 stars based on quality of subject, originality, number available, and overall awesomeness.  Teams will be ranked by total stars, so the more giveaways (especially quality ones) the better.  Let’s start it off with the AL West!

Seattle Mariners (Each giveaway is 20,000 fans)

cano

Saturday, May 31st, Robinson Cano: You knew the Mariners had to give a bobblehead to their new superstar player.  This is (surprisingly) the first bobblehead giveaway for Cano in MLB. ***

Thursday, June 12th, Macklemore: I’m not a huge Macklemore fan, but I love the Mariners creativity for the local musical star.  I’m not sure what it looks like yet, but at least they have Macklemore in a M’s jersey to go off of. **** 1/2

Saturday, July 12th, Hisashi Iwakuma: I’m a sucker for Iwakuma and would rate this higher for my collection.  In the overall scheme, nothing too spectacular.  **

Saturday, August 9th, Lou Pinella Mariners Hall of Fame: Lou Pinella is one of my favorite managers of all-time and I’m glad they’re comboing up a bobblehead with his induction day.  Should be a fun day in Seattle.  I truly hope it involves him kicking his cap. *** 1/2

Saturday, August 30th, Felix Hernandez: Another year, another Felix Hernandez bobblehead from the Mariners.  Wish they had made a Jesus Montero bobble belly instead. **1/2

Total: 15 1/2 stars

Texas Rangers (Each giveaway is for 15,000 fans)

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Saturday, April 19th, Yu Darvish Strikeout King: Standard fare, the teams best player in a standard pitching bobblehead.  Would’ve been fun if they had the “strikeout king” have a crown with a K on it.  **1/2

Sunday, May 18th, Prince Fielder: Another pretty standard bobblehead, but with the team’s best and newest hitter. **1/2

Saturday, July 12th, Eric Nadel: Now we’re having some fun!  Nadel has been with the Rangers since 1979 as their broadcaster and is the winner of the 2014 Ford C. Frick Award.  And now, his own bobblehead too.  Love it!  ****

Tuesday, August 12th, Pudge Rodriguez Gold Glove: I’ve got nothing against this one honoring one of the best players in Rangers history.  I also like that they’re honoring his defense.  There isn’t a picture of it yet, but it get a bonus 1/2 star if his glove is actually gold.  ***

Thursday, September 4th,  Shin Soo-Choo: Choo is also a new Rangers acquisition, but he’s not quite on Darvish or Fielder’s level.  It’s going to be tough for the Rangers to top the greatest Shin Soo-Choo bobblehead of all-time. **

Total: 14 stars

Houston Astros (10,000 fans each giveaway)

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Saturday, April 26th, Jason Castro All-Star: A nice honor to add on to Jason Castro’s all-star to give him his own bobblehead.  He’s not a major star though, yet.  **

Friday, August 1st, Lance Berkman: A great player in Astros history gets honored, because there aren’t many players on this current roster to give a bobblehead to. ** 1/2

Sunday, August 3rd, Roy Oswalt: See, Lance Berkman.  I do like that they made these the same weekend for fans. ** 1/2

Saturday, August 30th, Nolan and Reid Ryan: Not many executives get bobbleheads and I would go out on a limb to say that this is the first double executive bobblehead in MLB history.  I want to rate it higher, but only 10,000?  Then again, the Astros attendance isn’t the strongest.  ****

Total: 11 stars

Oakland Athletics (various amounts of fans)

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Saturday, April 19th, Josh Donaldson Diorama: First off, kudos to the Athletics for increasing their giveaways from 10,000 to 20,000 for Donaldson and 15,000 for the Catfish Hunter one.  Donaldson was the breakout star for the A’s in 2013 and the diorama is a nice little bonus.  ***

Saturday, May 31st-Catfish Hunter: Athletics have had a Hunter bobblehead before, but that was in 2002.  Here’s to hoping that they’ll add an Eric Sogard bobblehead giveaway if he wins the #FaceOfMLB contest.  A’s fans love that guy. ** 1/2

Total: 5 1/2 stars

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (amount of giveaway, not available)

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Tuesday, April 1st, Mike Trout: One of the games brightest stars gets his second bobblehead in two years.  This one doesn’t top last year’s edition, though.  Why is he not wearing a cap? *** 1/2

Friday, May 2nd, Josh Hamilton: If I’m an Angels fan and Hamilton’s 2014 starts off like his 2013, am I really going to want this bobblehead? **

Total: 5 1/2 stars

What’s your favorite bobblehead set in the AL West?  Let us know in the comments!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

Casper Wells on the Move Again

Where in the world is Casper Wells? It appears it’s now Oakland after the Athletics grabbed Wells from Toronto after he was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays.

 

The weird part is he was just claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays twelve days ago from Seattle and designated for assignment on April 15th, without even playing for Toronto.

The good news for Wells, he’s racking up frequent flier miles as it’s 5,215 miles from Safeco Field to the Rogers Centre to o.Co Coliseum. Plus, his Twitter handle @UpstateBaller makes sense again, playing in upstate California. Now, he can focus on .189 batting average so far this season.

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

The Josh Reddick Foam Title Belt

There’s always been an affinity for baseball and things made from foam.  Foam fingers, foam giant cowboy hats, foam claw hands for the Texas Rangers, foam Trout hats for Mike Trout, and now my favorite, the Josh Reddick foam championship belt.

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The Athletics tweeted out that picture yesterday.  It’s perfect for the fan of baseball and wrestling.  Reddick himself is a huge wrestling fan, from having his own replica WWE title belt to his current beard-off with WWE Tag Team champion Daniel Bryan.  It’s a perfect mesh of player and fan rolled into one piece of merchandise.  I’m sure Oakland’s right field bleacher crew can’t wait to get their hands on one and neither can I.

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

Grade That Trade! Heath Bell on the Move (Again) Edition

We have our first major trade of the off-season! Okay, so there is still that whole “World Series” thing that has to go down, but who watches that anyway?

In today’s edition of Grade That Trade! we have three very young, talented teams swapping players. It looks like the Marlins got sick of Heath Bell thinking that walking OTHER people would help burn calories. But that contract was surely burning a hole through Jeffrey Loria’s pockets.

Bell was shipped off to Arizona, to join a bullpen that actually didn’t need that much help. Miami ate $8 million of the $21 million left on Bell’s contract, and received a highly-ranked third base prospect, Yordy Cabrera (no relation to Miguel – I checked), from the Oakland A’s to complete their end of the deal.

Aside from taking on the behemoth contract of Bell, the D’Backs snatched middle infielder Cliff Pennington from the A’s, and sent outfielder Chris Young to Oakland. Whew, that was a doozy. Let me break this down for you:

Marlins Get:

3B Yordy Cabrera (Single-A)

Diamondbacks Get:

RP Heath Bell

SS/2B Cliff Pennington

A’s Get:

OF Chris Young

This trade has a lot of question marks surrounding it, a lot of bad contract cash flowing through it, and plenty of very interesting theories because of it. For example, who the hell is Yordy Cabrera? According to friends of the organization, he is “pretty damn good.”

When looking at his stats, I have to question if my sources were tailgating for college football all day – Cabrera’s best season was 2011, when he hit .231 with 6 homers, 47 RBI and 23 stolen bases (he also had 21 doubles and 5 triples in 359 at-bats). His on-base percentage was below .300 and his OPS was a staggeringly-low .664 that year (.625 in 2012).

I can’t deny that on paper, the kid has potential. At 6’1″, 205 pounds, only 22 years old with gap power and speed, you’ve got to like what he could become. But he better play some solid defense if he’s not going to develop into a serviceable Major League third baseman some day. 

If Cabrera has his head on straight, you could be looking at a player who turns the doubles into homers, cuts down on strike outs and steals 30 bags a year. That could equate to a mid to high-.200’s hitter with 15 homers and 30 stolen bases. Time will tell, but the Marlins could have turned Bell in for scrap metal if Cabrera doesn’t pan out.

The most interesting question for me is what the A’s are going to do now with such a crowded, talented outfield. My gut says there is no way they can cut ties with the heart and soul of that lineup, Coco Crisp. He was a spark plug down the stretch and proved that when healthy, he’s one of the best leadoff hitters in baseball.

That being said, with the immensely talented (yet always hurt or underperforming) Chris Young on board, there are four starting outfielders for three spots. We know Billy Beane isn’t crazy enough to trade away Josh Reddick or Yoenis Cespedes, but is he possibly thinking of swapping Young back to someone for some prospects?

Oakland could use a few infield bats to develop, as their outfield looks set for the near future. But the A’s have question marks at catcher and second base (depending on how Jemile Weeks bounces back), and could use a solid, every day first baseman. One thing this move means for sure, is that Stephen Drew will likely be sticking around in Oakland with Pennington out.

As for Arizona. Oh, Arizona. I’m not sure I understand the moves they made at all. Not only did they take on $13 million of an overweight, over the hill relief pitcher’s contract, but they paid part of Young’s contract to send him to Oakland. They essentially swapped Drew for Pennington (the A’s picked up Drew from the D’backs in the middle of the regular season), which is a huge down grade. AND they lost Young, who has 30/30 potential if he can play a full, healthy, focused season.

Not only do the moves puzzle me, but I don’t see how they made the Diamondbacks a better team at all. Maybe Arizona has some tricks up it’s sleeves, because they usually make very savvy moves. Justin Upton could be the next outfielder out the door, leaving an outfield of Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra and Adam Eaton in the desert.

Sure, it’s not a bad outfield – but it was a lot better with Young and Upton there (assuming Upton gets moved). Either way, I have to grade this trade on what has happened, not what might happen. And for that, I give the following marks:

Oakland A’s: B+

The A’s now have a crowded outfield with a lot of options, and plenty of curious fans. What comes next for Billy Beane? Getting rid of Pennington was a long time coming, but now they are short on infield depth. If Yordy Cabrera does pan out, they might kick themselves down the road. Then again, this team proved it can win now. So I applaud the move to bring in immediate help.

Miami Marlins: A-

Sure, they got a Single-A infielder who got on base at a worse clip than Juan Uribe does, but he is only 22. There is plenty of room for Cabrera to turn into a great player. It depends how they develop him. Getting rid of Heath Bell and his ridiculous contract is reason enough for the Marlins’ front office to celebrate.

Arizona Diamondbacks: D+

I just don’t get it. Trade away an outfielder who could have star potential, just because you’re tired of waiting. In return, take on a big contract for an old, declining reliever and a slick-fielding, yet offensively inept middle infielder? Unless G.M. Kevin Towers has some tricks up his sleeve, this will remain a head scratcher.

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– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

#MapesFantasySpecial for September 20th

Wei-Yin Chen gave us his 2nd consecutive successful #MapesFantasySpecial last night, despite not getting a win.  Mets Matt Harvey had his start pushed back due to rain, so we’ll see how that plays out tonight.  I’m not sure he can get a win against Cole Hamels, but hopefully the peripherals and strikeouts will be there.  Here’s what I like for Thursday, September 20th that’s available in more than half of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.

Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie was featured on this week’s podcast as a 3UP player and I really like him at home against the White Sox.  Guthrie shut down the White Sox just a week and a half ago, tossing eight shutout innings.  Even more impressive, Guthrie has had three starts against the White Sox since coming to Kansas City, would you like to guess how many runs he’s given up in 23.2 innings?  That’s right, zero!  I’ll trust him one more time to get solid numbers, he’s owned in just 15% of fantasy leagues.

If You’re Desperate: Cardinals Jaime Garcia (49% owned) takes on the Astros in a solid matchup, but has been so terribly up and down since returning from injury he might no be worth the chance.  Brewers rookie Michael Fiers (45% owned) had 10 strikeouts, last time he faced the Pirates, but has a 5.40 ERA in two starts against Pittsburgh this year.  A’s Tommy Milone (44% owned) hasn’t been good on the road this season and takes on Detroit at Comerica.  No thanks.  Nationals Ross Detwiler (35% owned) has been good this season and could help your WHIP, but don’t expect a ton of strikeouts.  If you need strikeouts and can afford the ERA/WHIP hit, Francisco Liriano (35% owned) could get you some strikeouts, but got lit up last time out against KC.  Lastly, Giants Barry Zito (21% owned) got beat up by Colorado last time at home, 4ER over 5.1 IP, but is 6-2 in his career with a 2.59 ERA and 1.09 WHIP against the Rockies.  The Rockies do have trouble scoring runs on the road, except against Andrew Cashner of course.

If You’re Desperate Rankings: Fiers, Zito, Detwiler, Garcia, Liriano, Milone

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

#MapesFantasySpecial For September 16th

Down to the wire time! You’re looking for anything that can help you win on Sunday in the playoffs. Here’s what could help out your pitching staff on Sunday, September 15th.

Here’s a pitcher that is available in 94% of Yahoo! fantasy leagues. A’s rookie Dan Straily has been very good in three of his four starts since getting called up. He also has great strikeout potential if you’re facing an uphill climb in that category. I also like that this was Jason Hammel’s rotation spot for Baltimore and Hammel unfortunately got hurt. This means the Orioles will have to go with a spot starter or someone on short rest on the road. Advantage: Athletics.

If You’re Desperate: Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco (31% owned) has given up just one earned run over his last three starts with two shutouts against the 1st place Nationals. He gets another 1st place team in the Reds at home. If you’re truly desperate you can do worse than Nolasco’s upside. Twins rookie Scott Diamond (38% owned) has been pretty great at home this season with a 3.13 ERA and 1.14 WHIP, but he has limited strikeout potential. Diamond faces the White Sox, who tagged him for four earned runs in 5 innings, just ten days ago in Chicago. I like him to be better in the confines of Target Field. Braves Mike Minor (44% owned) has bounced back after a disastrous start to the season. Minor hasn’t given up a earned run in his last two starts, with 15 strikeouts in 12.2 IP. He gets the Nationals and 19-game winner Gio Gonzalez, so if you’re looking for a W, it might be better to look elsewhere. Padres rookie Andrew Werner (7% owned) has been amazing for San Diego giving up two earned runs or less and six innings or more in all four of his career starts. You have to like the combo of Petco and the Rockies. He also has provided strikeouts with 23 in 24.1 innings this season for San Diego.

Good luck in your fantasy leagues!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

#MapesFantasySpecial For September 15th

It’s Saturday, only two days left that can make or break your week and advance you into the next round of your fantasy playoffs.  If you’re losing it’s desperation time.  You have to do whatever it takes to get over the hump.  Here’s who I like for Saturday that’s owned less that 50% of leagues.

There hasn’t been a hotter team right now than the Philies and they partly have Kyle Kendrick to thank for that.  The 40% owned starter has a 5-1 record with a 1.49 ERA and 0.80 WHIP over his last six starts.  He was even our 3UP player on the podcast this week.  This start may be on the road, but the Astros are the worst team in the league, just ask former #MapesFantasySpecial Travis Wood.  Kendrick is a must pick-up if you need pitching help.

If You’re Desperate: A’s Jarrod Parker (40% owned) has been solid this season, especially at home with a 2.48 ERA and 1.17 WHIP.  However, Parker got tagged for 6 earned runs in five innings last time he faced the Orioles.  Parker faces Zach Britton (26% owned) who was brilliant before getting rocked by the Yankees in his last start.  Britton, like Parker, got rocked in his previous start against his opponent, giving up 6ER in 5.2 IP last time against the Athletics.  Yankees Ivan Nova (also 40% owned) returns for New York at home and has a quality start all three times he has faced Tampa Bay this year.  You’re playing with fire with a player that’s returning from injury.  14% owned Jeremy Guthrie of the Royals has a 4-0 record and 1.70 ERA over his last seven starts and has 2ER or less in 6 of the 7 starts.  Guthrie takes on the Angels at home, not exactly a team you want to face if you’re hunting for wins.

Good luck in your fantasy leagues!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)