Monday, December 17, 2018

Tuesday Morning Hot Links

*Welcome to the party, Astros! The only Big News of Monday was the Astros agreeing to terms with free agent Michael Brantley on what looks to be in the ballpark of 2yrs/$32m.

Brantley, who will be 32 in May, had been a prodigious, if somewhat injured, hitter of late. From 2011-15 (2988 PAs) Brantley hit .297/.354/.436, good enough for a 120 OPS+ and a wRC+ of 118. His 15.7 fWAR ranked 18th among qualified outfielders in that time span. Injuries held him to a total of 101 games over 2016-17 but, mostly fully healthy in 2018, he put up a .309/.364/.468 (123 OPS+, 124 wRC+) in 143 games in 2018.

Brantley also does not strike out often - 60 strikeouts in 631 PAs in 2018, or 9.5% of the time. Among 140 qualified hitters in 2018, only Andrelton Simmons had a lower K%. So Brantley is a (hopefully) fully-recovered lefty hitter that does not strike out much, who hits for average and has some pop. I think that will work for the Astros' lineup, which now features four of the 20-lowest projected strikeout rates for 2019. And he doesn't have to listen to Tyler Bauer spend hours in the clubhouse talking about what a better player Bauer is than everyone else on his team. Double Win.

*Jake Kaplan noted that the Astros' OPS against RHPs in 2018 was .733, 13th in MLB. So Brantley should, uh, help that out a little:

Brantley, career vs RHP (3058 PAs): .304/.361/.456.
Brantley, 2018 vs RHP (461 PAs): .321/.380/.509.

*Jeff Sullivan's recap of the move in FanGraphs is straight up Baseball Porn. And it's worth expanding on what Sullivan mentions: does the addition of Brantley make a Kyle Tucker-for-J.T. Realmuto swap easier to swallow, or does it just impact Josh Reddick or Tony Kemp? WHO IS TO SAY?

*Meanwhile, Bob Nightengale is reporting that Houston is still in on Nelson Cruz though, to be fair, that's exactly what I'd say if I was Cruz's agent in an effort to drive up his price tag.

*Remember when CC Sabathia cost himself $500,000 by missing an innings incentive because he got tossed for throwing a retaliation pitch? The Yankees paid up.

*Czech out this great story from Jenny Dial Creech about my dude Vincenzo and the Alief Elsik Boys Soccer team.

*The Unsolved Murder of an Unusual Billionaire.

*A Musical Selection: