MLB Trade Deadline: On Auditions and Additions

David Malinsky

Friday, July 21, 2017 2:31 PM UTC

Friday, Jul. 21, 2017 2:31 PM UTC

It’s audition/addition time, as the MLB trade deadline approaches (And if a team can pick up Yu Darvish for a good price they probably should)…Will the 2017 season go into a deep “Freeze” for Ole Miss?


This is a particularly interesting cycle on the MLB Diamonds, because a betting marketplace driven largely by raw performance numbers gets some plot twists. The Trade Deadline superimposes itself in a way that alters the motivations of many of the players involved, especially in the modern media age, while there is naturally also some tweaking of the numbers to be done in the aftermath (some of that going against the grain a bit).

So far 2017 has not been any different, including some of the prototypical over-paying by teams just a little too desperate to extend their seasons to October. Those making the decisions often get away with it, of course, because the gravity of the mistakes don’t get noticed until well down the line. Meanwhile it might be time to buy some White Sox merchandise cheaply, considering what it may go for in a few years – that franchise is now sitting on eight of the Baseball American Top 100 prospects, while still contractually obligated by MLB to play out the remaining 70 games of this season in what will rival replacement-level capacity.

Did the Yankees really help themselves this week? That is a fascinating one. They’ve added depth to a bullpen that was already #2 in WAR and #3 in FIP, and may not necessarily become all that more effective, especially since Joe Girardi also needs to juggle all of those hard-throwers well to keep them in rhythm. And it may turn out that the main positive from getting Todd Frazier was keeping him from going to the Red Sox, though the move up the standings could not help but bring a smile to his face.

Yes, Frazier has popped 56 home runs the last two seasons. But of the 91 players with at least 900 at-bats he rates dead last in batting average at .219, #78 in K% at 23.4, with a negative WAR on defense (as for how that will play out at first base, who knows). When you combine that with the fact that left-center in Yankee Stadium is 399 feet, which means that a handful of those 2016-17 home runs recorded by Frazier might have only been fly-ball outs in the Bronx, the Yankees may be trying to get some ignition from a wet match.

But that happens around this time. The pressure builds on management and on some of the players involved, and if we could use some Shakespeare yesterday to help bring in a talking point we can do so again today, this time Agrippa from Anthony and Cleopatra as the death of Marc Anthony is bemoaned - “But you gods will give us some faults, to make us men.”

We are dealing with that human element, after all, and without understanding it to some degree the numbers produced by the competitors are of little use to us. So where does the focus go during this time? In looking for those settings in which a little jolt may be just what a particular performer needs, someone capable of big things being offered an opportunity to attain them, while there are also those that may not handle the pressure well at all.

 Thursday night brought us the McCarthy hearings

In doing the necessary digging for edges in building out the Thursday power ratings, I found the following from Brandon McCarthy to be of interest - “I understand the reality of things. I sometimes have to divorce myself from what I would think I would do if I was running a team. But then, there’s the competitor side. This is my spot. I want that until someone takes it from me.”

Prior to last night’s game vs. the Braves it had been a solid season for McCarthy, a 6-3/3.38 over 82.2 innings. One would have thought he would have been comfortable with that, playing for the best team in the National League, and the opportunity for the first big post-season run of his career. Yet he wasn’t.

Where does it come from? As alluded to in today’s opening, the modern media times (think “social”) has changed things. Players read and hear things far more readily throughout their daily lives, especially someone like McCarthy, who is active in those arenas (and in truth rather good at it - @BMcCarthy32 has over 195,000 followers).

What caused McCarthy, and causes others in his position, such anxiety? Let’s go to this from Dodgers manager Dave Roberts - “We’re very aware of what’s going on around baseball. We still know we’re the best team. Our front-office guys are around a lot. I know they’re working tirelessly to try to make us better. If the right deal presents itself, I know we’ll act on it. And if it doesn’t, like I said before, we’re still expecting to win this division and win a championship.”

So McCarthy could not help but be well aware of the rumors and rumblings around the franchise, and in truth the Dodgers could use another steady right-handed starter, given McCarthy’s injury issues in the past. And what can happen when a B-level performer feels that kind of pressure?

Last night happened. McCarthy managed to do something that hadn’t happened since the 4th of July, he pitched the Dodgers into a loss, allowing six runs on nine hits over just four innings of work.

McCarthy failing under an unusual mid-season pressure should not be filed away as a shock. But for those that are better suited to handling the situation, might there be some upside? Oakland’s Sonny Gray is on a 4-1/1.62 over his last five starts, all of them which could be considered auditions for contenders to see. And on the Friday MLB board a similar tale takes us to Yu Darvish.

 The Darvish derby

It isn’t a secret that Yu Darvish is on the market. Yes, the Rangers are still alive in the AL Wild Card chase, but they have to be realistic about matters – they are 18 games behind the Astros, and nowhere near being ready to make up that gap in the near future, so with Darvish becoming a free agent at the end of the season, the notion of getting whatever they can for him right now may be in the best long-term interest of the franchise.

But just what is his real value? While there is a perception out there that the veteran right-hander is slumping, that may not be the case at all. Are we handicapping a high-level performer (#10 in FIP since he came into the league in 2012) trying to work through frustrations, or someone motivated by the prospects of potential light at the end of the tunnel?

The trade rumor mills are noting that Darvish is on a 1-6/4.09 slide over his last 10 starts, but the first thing the savvy baseball follower will note is that 1-6 and 4.09 don’t add up. That run allowance means that he has been around a league-average pitcher through the span, which would call for a W/L tag in the .500 range. But the Rangers have not been much help, scoring only 25 runs across those 10 starts.

*Editor's note: Darvish is scheduled to pitch today vs The Rays*

Then there is the matter of that 4.09 not being representative of the way that he has pitched anyway, and let’s set perspective by looking at the slash line allowed in those games, compared to the MLB average this season -

Darvish L10   .234/.294/.385

MLB 2017      .255/.324/.425

Darvish has been throwing the ball just fine, but the geometric vagaries of baseball outcomes have not been kind of late. Now, like Gray and McCarthy, he is likely aware of some of the scuttlebutt, even if much of it has to come via a translator. But note how different the motivation is – instead of a B-level performer facing the pressure of having to hang on to something, this is an A- guy with the chance to shed the mediocrity that the Rangers currently are, and get a second-life on his 2017 campaign.

I was anticipating the prospect of a play-on with Darvish in some form this evening, but neither the oddsmakers that opened Texas as the favorite, nor the early traders that have driven the Rangers higher, have complied. That one won’t get close to the value meter, but at least the exercise of learning to think through these situations can be a valuable one for you in the future.

 On the Old Mess at Ole Miss

It is rather unprecedented for a major college football program to go through what the University of Mississippi is as fall camp approaches, and how all of this blends into the Rebels power rating will be a delicate process. If you want some insight into some of the particulars behind what has happened, and also the mood around Oxford, you can find some prime details from Chase Parham and Neal McCready. I guest on their podcast a few times each year, and they literally have a Point Blank view of the Hugh Freeze situation.


If you want to know when PB is ready to go each day, as well as following along for some of the most important Sports Betting news as in unfolds, make @Vegaspointblank a part of your routine.


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