Loving the mention of Pat Connaughton and Shabazz napier, as I've been arguing since early last season that the only way the Blazers break through (to a team that might have 2nd round potential) is to trade CJ McCollum for pieces and a pick. Or Lilliard for better pieces and picks, but he's the face of the franchise and tough to let go.
But that's for a different website.
I have, however, argued all winter that trading Cruz made great sense if we were actually trying to be a playoff team sometime soon. I've written before that Big Papi was sort of a historical anomoly in terms of 40 year old performance. Musial, Edgar....not many more. Big Papi and Cruz have the distinction, however. of actually getting better once they turned 36. They are outliers. And Cruz certainly has shown no signs of slowing down,
He's a safe bet to whack balls with impunity in '18. The risk is that you get nothing if he doesn't. If he ages this season you must assume the downward trend continues next season. There were AL teams that would have loved a (relatively cheap) roll at the dice to get a 140+ OPS DH. We would have got some sort of pile of young-ish talent. I still think that is the way we get better. Hope Ford or Vogs looks like a real MLB DH and move your valuable stud.
But we aren't doing it and I can live with that. So do you sign/extend Cruz now and get a bit of a discount? If he's raking at the All-Star break, why wouldn't he just do the FA route and hope to get a gazillion from the BoSox?
Sometimes your best players are more valuable if you swap them out, we all know that. I think that is where Cruz's real value lays. That said, I will be happy to watch him crush the ball again, and I expect him to do so. I just don't expect it to get us to the playoffs.
As to pitchers, I have been really high on Miranda, two years running. he's a lefty and Cuban, which somehow in my almond-sized brain means that you let him have the time to figure out how to be real good, as he has the physical tools to be just that. And yet now I'm not quite so sure.
I keep telling myself that he's had 218 innings and been 13-9, but his consistently high, homer-fueld FIP alarms me. Junkball types who give up 2 homers a game tend to scare me. His slider is genuinely valuable, his fastball and change are genuinely not. His splitfinger is worthy of argument.
He's going to get every chance to be a #4, he is 13-9 after all, but I'm less sure than I was that he's really going to leap off the page. Back in '16, I thought he had #2 stuff in him. Right now, I'll be way happy with a 100 ERA+ #4.
Gonzales? Coming off '16 surgery (of course), he had 8 MLB starts last season (and 14 MiLB starts before that). In those 8 MLB starts, he gave up a line of .361-.404-.590. Really. And a .389 BABIP rate, too. He was considerably better than that in his 14 MiLB starts. But to give you a sense just how bad those numbers were, Andrew Moore (who struggled in some starts) gave up a line of .265-.284-.520 in his 9 MLB starts, with a BABIP of .238.
Who would you bet on?
I know I'm being unfair to Gonzales because I thought (and think) that he was not worth the Tank O'Neill loss, so I'm trying to stay upbeat about his upside and future. his 1.28 career AAA WHIP doesn't light my fire either (compared to Moore's 1.08).
OK, Gonzales, prove me wrong. O'Neill is going to hit 30+ MLB homers some season soon. What did we get for that? Show me.
Povse? Dipoto badly handled him last season, I think. He got one AA start, a great one. We moved him to Tacoma for one relief performance (he got lit up) and then back to Arkansas for 7 more starts (and one long relief appearance) then immediately to Seattle to be an 8th inning guy. He gave up 7 hits over 2.2 innings in 2 appearances before we sent him back to Tacoma. There, he had two middle relief appearances (one with 2 perfect innings and the other with 6 hits allowed in 1.2 innings), then he was back to a 9th inning Seattle performance (2 hits). Finally he ended up back in Tacoma, where he bounced betwen the bullpen and the starter's role.
Hey, I know that his callups were because of a fatigued pen, but the guy never got comfortable in any role. I am glad he's going back to the starting role and I have decent hopes that he blooms into an effective 4/5 type. he's in Tacoma to start the season, let's see him run a 1.1 WHIP and look good dong it.
Paxton, Leake, Ramirez and Felix give us a decent or better 1-4 (until injury), who becomes 5 and 6 is critical. Am betting on Miranda and Moore, if you're interested.