Tag: Nate Schierholtz

Potential Trade Suitors for Chicago Cubs Outfielder Nate Schierholtz

While the bulk of the offseason wheeling and dealing takes place prior to the start of spring training, there are always at least a few trades that go down after preseason play starts, and it looks like Chicago Cubs outfielder Nate Schierholtz could be on the move.

The Cubs signed the 30-year-old last offseason after he was non-tendered by the Philadelphia Phillies, and he went on to hit .251/.301/.470 with 32 doubles and 21 home runs over 462 at-bats last season.

His named popped up in trade rumors at the deadline last year and at various times throughout the offseason, but he wound up staying put heading into camp. Now, according to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, he could be available.

As Morosi points out, the health of Ryan Kalish, who missed all of 2013 following a torn labrum and subsequent cervical fusion, may play a role in the Cubs’ willingness to move Schierholtz.

Kalish is a former top prospect in the Red Sox organization, so the front office has obvious connections to him, and with a number of outfielders already vying for roster spots, a move of Schierholtz could open up a spot for him.

Justin Ruggiano, Ryan Sweeney and Junior Lake already look like locks to make the Opening Day roster as outfielders, while George Kottaras, Donnie Murphy and Emilio Bonifacio also look like safe bets to earn bench spots.

The question now is, who could be a possible fit for Schierholtz if these rumors are in fact true and the outfielder is set to be dealt? Two teams in particular look like reasonable destinations at this point.


Detroit Tigers

The Tigers are the obvious fit for Schierholtz after Andy Dirks underwent back surgery, and he is expected to be sidelined for roughly 12 weeks, according to Dayn Perry of CBS Sports.

The team signed Rajai Davis to a two-year, $10 million deal this offseason to serve as the right-handed hitting half of a platoon, but he has not had great success against right-handed pitching in his career so he’s best suited remaining as a platoon option.

Ezequiel Carrera and Trevor Crowe are in camp as non-roster invitees and prospect Steven Moya has impressed so far this spring, but the most likely replacement at this point looks to be utility man Don Kelly.

The team doesn’t have the deepest farm system, but if the Cubs are in fact set on dealing Schierholtz to open up a spot for Kalish, it likely won’t take all that much to acquire him.


Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies have a clear need for a left-handed hitting corner outfielder, with Marlon Byrd, John Mayberry and Darin Ruf all hitting from the right side of the plate.

Schierholtz was acquired by the Phillies at the deadline in 2012 as part of the Hunter Pence trade, and he hit .273/.319/.379 down the stretch before being non-tendered.

The team took a chance on Bobby Abreu this spring after a solid winter league performance, and there was some hope that he could fill the void. However, he has gone just 3-for-20 so far this spring and has looked very much like a 40-year-old who sat out all of last season.

Trading any of their prospects to add another veteran may not make sense long-term, but the Phillies seem set on making a run at contention this year, and they may be willing to pull the trigger on a deal as a result.


Other Options

The Arizona Diamondbacks were the team most linked to Schierholtz during the offseason as they looked for a left-handed hitting bat with some pop to protect Paul Goldschmidt.

They would end up acquiring Mark Trumbo, a right-handed hitter, and are banking on Miguel Montero putting together a bounce back season hitting between them.

Outside of that, there is no other team that has been linked to Schierholtz or looks like a clear fit, and if the Cubs don’t get a trade package to their liking, they may very well opt to hold onto him and shop him again come July.

His $5 million salary makes him the fifth-highest paid player on the Cubs, according to Spotrac.com, so the team does have some motivation to move him at some point. He’s also a free agent at the end of the upcoming season and is unlikely to be part of the team’s long-term plans.

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5 Overrated Trade Targets Your Team Should Avoid at All Costs

In reality, it only takes one team to overvalue, and, thus, overpay for a player on the trade market. But there’s always a group of players that’s viewed as having a certain value based on certain numbers, reputation and trade-market depth.  

For those reasons, certain players will be overrated, and some team will be taking a risk by acquiring them, even at fair market value.  

Unless the price somehow goes way down in the next 12 days, here are five overrated players whom your team should avoid acquiring before the trade deadline.

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Bruce Bochy: Breaking Down the San Francisco Giants Manager

Leadership is a very difficult thing to write about because it cannot be measured or quantified.

That doesn’t mean that it isn’t significant, or that it doesn’t exist.

According to Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News, Giants manager Bruce Bochy met with the team before the game on Friday to demand more toughness and competitiveness of his troops, particularly from his slumping offense. The Giants went out and responded with a season-high 16 runs.

Perhaps the Giants busted out because of Bochy’s leadership skills, or, perhaps it had more to do with playing at hitter-friendly Coors Field against one of the worst pitching staffs in the league. It’s impossible to say what caused the outburst, but we shouldn’t sell Bochy’s qualities as a leader of men short.

Bochy does several things very well as a manager. His biggest strength is without question his handling of the pitching staff, particularly the bullpen. Since Bochy took over as manager in 2007, no team has a better ERA than the Giants.

Some of that is obviously due to the Giants having good pitchers throwing in a pitcher-friendly stadium, but a lot of the credit also has to go to Bochy’s handling of those arms, with major assistance from pitching coach Dave Righetti.

On the offensive side of things, Bochy does a good job of avoiding small-ball tactics. The Giants are sixth in the league in adding runs on the bases because Bochy green-lights his fast runners while encouraging his slower runners to play it conservatively.

The Giants don’t run into a lot of unnecessary outs, and they also don’t throw away many outs with the sacrifice bunt. Outs are the scarcest resource at a manager’s disposal, so unless you are bunting with the pitcher, bunting for a hit or attempting to squeeze home a run, bunting away an out is usually the wrong tactical move.

Bochy does a good job of leading his troops, handling his pitchers and valuing outs properly with the offense. However, my one criticism of his managerial style is the way he handles the lineup.

The number two spot in the lineup is of critical importance, yet Bochy continues to hit Ryan Theriot there. Theriot is currently hitting a tepid .267/.314/.316 with nearly as many double-plays (9) as extra base hits (13). He doesn’t walk, hit for power or get on base much in front of the Giants four best hitters: Melky Cabrera, Buster Posey, Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval (currently on the DL).

To be fair, part of the problem is the that the front office has not provided him with many better options to put at the top of the lineup.

The other gripe I have with Bochy is that he is overly dependent on small sample sizes when he makes the lineup, preferring to play the hot hand in favor of taking the longer view, and allowing guys to play through slumps.

Nate Schierholtz summed up the issue well when he recently told Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, “I just felt like I had a short leash. It was series by series, if I didn’t perform for three games, that was my chance. It got frustrating at times. We didn’t see eye to eye.”

Playing the hot hand has its benefits, but it can also be detrimental to the development of younger players like Schierholtz and Brandon Belt.

Belt certainly has struggled in the big leagues, and there is certainly an argument to be made that he has not earned more playing time. At the same time, the fact that over the last two seasons he’s only been placed in the starting lineup 113 times by Bochy speaks volumes to how much he’s been jerked around.

Inconsistent,erratic playing time makes it very difficult to evaluate a young player, as we still have less than a whole season of playing time in which to evaluate Belt, despite the fact that he’s been in the big leagues for all of this season and a large chunk of last year.

On the whole, the Giants obviously have a very good manager in Bruce Bochy. He led the franchise to its first world series championship in San Francisco just two seasons ago. His trust in his starting pitchers and handling of the bullpen has led to some excellent run prevention during his tenure. He also trusts the hitters he puts in the lineup to get the job done by avoiding the sacrifice bunt.

Perhaps he could be more patient with his younger hitters like the recently departed Schierholtz, and Belt, who has been benched in favor of non-prospect Brett Pill twice in the past three games.

Alas, no manager is perfect, and most managerial criticisms are going to be subjective anyway. The Giants have a manager good enough to steer the ship to a world series title, and that is all that really matters in the end.

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Philadelphia Phillies: Grading the Team’s Deadline Moves

The 2012 trade deadline has come to pass. For the Philadelphia Phillies, though, it could have gone better.

At roughly noon Eastern time today, the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired Shane Victorino in exchange for reliever Josh Lindblom and pitching prospect Ethan Martin. Then, about two hours later, the San Francisco Giants made a trade that nabbed Hunter Pence from the Phillies for outfielder Nate Schierholtz, catching prospect Tommy Joseph and minor league starting pitcher Seth Rosin.

It was thought that Joe Blanton could be traded today as well, but a deal with the Baltimore Orioles fell through. Blanton remains on the team for now, as he could be a trade candidate in August through the waiver trade system.

In the meantime, the Phillies have called up Domonic Brown and have activated Brian Schneider off the DL to take the roster spots of Victorino and Pence. But with the returns the Phillies received in exchange for their All-Star outfielders, did the Phillies strike gold or did they find fool’s gold instead?

Let’s take a look at the two deals:


Los Angeles Dodgers Receive Victorino, Phillies Get Lindblom and Martin in Return

The Phillies traded away their defensive star center fielder Shane Victorino for Lindblom and Martin. Victorino’s time in Philadelphia was overall spectacular, as he was named to two All-Star teams and won three consecutive Gold Gloves from 2008-2010. He hit .277 as a Phillies with 88 home runs and posted a .776 OPS.

In Lindblom, the Phillies get a somewhat-steady reliever. He’s got a 3.02 ERA this year and 1.26 WHIP, but away from Dodger Stadium his ERA this year is 5.32 and his WHIP is 1.46. At least he’s under team control through 2017.


As for Martin, the Phillies surprisingly acquired a pitching prospect in addition to Lindblom for Victorino, so that in itself is a bonus. Martin was ranked as the 17th best prospect in the Dodgers’ system heading into 2011, and while he could project as a number two starter, relief work may be the best opportunity for him in the bigs.

Victorino was traded for what I think was a low price given his track record, but also given his apparent market of only being available for relievers, the Phillies did pretty well. They don’t have to eat any of his remaining salary and they get both a reliever under control for years to come and a prospect who could work his way through the system. Not bad.

Victorino Trade Grade: B


Now let’s take a look at the Pence deal.


San Francisco Giants Acquire Pence, Trade Joseph, Schierholtz and Rosin to Phillies

Of Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence and Joe Blanton, I least expected Pence to be dealt. Despite Pence being the most expensive of the three, he is under team control through next year and even though his salary will go up once more, he’s one of the Phillies’ younger pieces and hits better than Victorino. Sure enough, it was Blanton who gets to stick around…for now.

Anyway, the Phillies saw the Pence deal headlined by catching prospect Tommy Joseph, the Giants’ second-best prospect. Joseph has tons of power and his game calling skills were considered second only to Giants catcher Buster Posey in their system. He’s also significantly improved his defense and has a very strong arm. Because of this, he’s expected to stick as a catcher. He’ll be starting in Double-A now that Phillies catching prospect Sebastian Valle has been promoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.


In adddition, the Phillies got Nate Schierholtz, a utility outfielder who can hit for solid average and isn’t bad defensively. Schierholtz asked to be dealt, so his inclusion in the trade is more like a favor for him and a move the Phillies needed to make for the interim now that Pence’s right field spot is vacant. He’ll be a free agent after the 2014 season.

Then there’s Rosin. Not considered a top prospect, he ranks as the Giants’ fourth-best right-handed minor league starting pitcher. At High-A San Jose this year, Rosin has pitched to a 2-1 record with a 4.31 ERA, 68 Ks and a 1.19 WHIP. Although Baseball America has him listed as a starter, Rosin’s spent more time working out of the bullpen this year.

While Pence’s trade didn’t come as a surprise nor did his destination, the return that the Phillies received for him is appalling. Pence was worth more to the Phillies and has more overall value than a top prospect and two throw-ins. I get that Ruben Amaro, Jr. wanted to shed Pence’s salary, but now that he’s also chipping in some money to San Francisco, it defeats the purpose. Trading Pence is fine. But for this package? It very well may have been worth keeping him.

Pence Trade Grade: D

What do you think of the two trades? Who should have been dealt? Should Victorino and/or Pence have been retained? Leave your opinions in the comments section below.

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Fantasy Baseball: 10 Players off Waivers To Help You Down the Stretch

Fantasy baseball managers are all looking for that one missing piece to put their team over the edge and into the playoffs. However, it is much easier to try to find a diamond in the rough than it is to actually find that diamond.

Nevertheless, here are 10 players (one from each fielding position, one starting pitcher, and one relief pitcher) who have the best chance of both being available in your league and helping you dominate the end of the season.

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Houston’s Randy Johnson (Wandy Rodriguez) Blanks Hapless San Francisco Giants

I think people are starting to get the idea. If you don’t get the idea yet, then you are either an exceptionally optimistic fan, or delusional.

The San Francisco Giants are not a good baseball team.

Perhaps they were at one point in the season. Perhaps they were until the acquisition of Carlos Beltran. But they certainly aren’t now.

Granted, they have extraordinary pitching. Ryan Vogelsong threw seven innings of two earned-run ball, and remains second in the league in ERA.

The key word in the previous sentence is earned. Errors by Mark DeRosa and Nate Schierholtz enabled the Houston Astros to score three unearned runs off of Vogelsong. Guillermo Mota’s bogus home run to Bogusevic extended the lead to 6-0, which turned out to be the final score of the ballgame.

Realistically, though, it wouldn’t have mattered if Vogelsong had pitched a shutout—he still would have received a no decision at best.

The San Francisco Giants were completely baffled by left hander Wandy Rodriguez, who, like so many pitchers, had his finest outing of the season against the Giants’ hapless offense.

While the Giants are still only 2.5 games out of first place behind the Arizona Diamondbacks, the deficit seems nigh insurmountable.

In fact, a more realistic goal for the Giants this season than the playoffs is to finish the season above .500. At 67-59, the Giants would need to go 14-22 to finish the season at .500. Given the way this team has been playing recently, even that goal seems lofty.

The excellent Bleacher Report sportswriter Manny Randhawa will have to search deep into his bag of tricks to justify the Giants’ “excellence” in losing 6-0 to a team that was 44 games under .500 coming into the ballgame.

“It’s only just one game.” But is it? Is it really? Or is this game just an accurate representation of a disturbing trend?

One thing is certain: People should be fired after tonight’s travesty. Or at least demoted. Or, if Bruce Bochy prefers, they should come up with a mysterious foot strain. Mark DeRosa and Aaron Rowand are two examples of this type of person who does not belong on a Major League baseball field, contract or no. It’s already a “sunk cost.”

Am I overreacting? Is this a knee jerk reaction? I don’t think so. These are calculated statements backed up by on-field performances and statistics.

The Giants need to dramatically overhaul their lineup to put a competitive team on the field, or risk seeing their attendance and reputation plummet.

Not to mention, the Giants should be interested in keeping the sole bright spot on the team (pitching) intact. With free agency looming in the not too distant future for Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum, do you think either starter would be willing to play for a team wherein they get no offensive support?

Regardless of the pitchers’ unflappable coolness in the clubhouse in the face of losing and shouldering of responsibility for each loss, you know that these pitchers want to win. Not only do they want to win, they want to win championships.

And no team ranked last in the league in offense has ever made the playoffs, let alone won a championship.

In conclusion, if the Giants come out and score seven runs tomorrow, please save your “I Told You So’s.” After scoring seven runs against the Braves in game three of their series, they have been shut out twice consecutively.

For those keeping track, that is an average of 2.33 runs per game.

Even the lowly Giants are capable of scoring seven runs once in a while. A playoff caliber professional baseball club, however, will perform on a regular basis and demonstrate at least a modicum of consistency.

Madison Bumgarner (7-11, 3.49ERA) pitches next against Jordan Lyles (1-7, 5.31ERA). The ingredients are in place for a 5-3 Giants victory, if each pitcher pitches to their potential. Something tells me, however, that Bumgarner will lower his ERA once again, and loss number twelve will materialize as he is out-dueled by Roger Clemens…er…Jordan Lyles. 

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San Francisco Giants 2011 Opening Day Roster: The Last Bench Spot

As Opening Day draws nearer, major league rosters are beginning to take  definite shape. Clubs have evaluated the talent within their systems, and have made the easy decisions. Hopeful youngsters have been told that they need at least one more year to mature, and aging vets hoping for one last shot have been sent home. Now is the time for the tough choices: who is the last player to get cut?

For the San Francisco Giants, there is contention for spots both on the bench and in the bullpen. Jeff Suppan, Ryan Vogelsong and Dan Runzler are all making their respective cases for a spot alongside established veterans Brian Wilson, Sergio Romo, Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez, Ramon Ramirez and Santiago Casilla.

Position players Emanuel Burriss and Brandon Belt are on the outside looking in, wondering how they can force their way into an already crowded infield that houses Mike Fontenot and Mark DeRosa off the bench.

Eli Whiteside and Pat Burrell have established roles on the squad, and will without a doubt return for 2011. Aaron Rowand is almost assured a roster spot because of his enormous contract, leaving Nate Schierholtz and Travis Ishikawa fighting for the fifth and final bench spot. Here are three reasons why it does not matter which of the two gets cut.

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MLB Preview 2011: Handicapping the San Francisco Giants’ Left-Field Battle

Major League Baseball’s Spring Training is already underway and that means it’s officially time for the World Champion San Francisco Giants to put away the champagne (or Bud Lite), confetti and late-night talk show laurels.

The thong can stay, though (Aubrey’s, not the Machine’s).

Down in Arizona, the first PFP drills have been run so you know two things.

First, someone has already embarrassed himself.

Most pitchers aren’t Tim Lincecum-type athletes anyway, so asking them to field their position is a dicey proposition. Then you toss in set-up men and specialty relievers? Look out, here comes the circus. Although in truth, the Gents have a pretty athletic stable from top to bottom so maybe it’s a muted show.

Second, and more importantly, our long nightmare is over and BASEBALL is right around the corner.

With all due respect, the NFL is slowly becoming a 20-week episode of Hard Knocks so part of me is rooting for a work stoppage simply for the peace and quiet. At least the League’s tug-o’-war over the fan’s last dollar is easy to process and tune out.

Forget both sides in that nonsense—we all know it will end with each pampered posse getting richer while the fans foot the bill so who really cares? Let the greedy S.O.B.’s shoot themselves in the feet until they realize it hurts.

Like baseball did.

As for the NBA, well, it’s heading into the stretch run and teams are starting to play hard every night so I’ve got no beef with the Association at the moment. Nevertheless, all the coasting up to this point still leaves a sour note in the air.

C’mon, I can’t get 82 games at full throttle for $4 mil a year?

Consequently, it’s the pearl to the rescue.

Before that can happen, however, the exhibition season must play out and each team must answer a few lingering questions. In the Giants’ neck of the woods, there’s only one major unknown and it looms over left field.

And it’s a pretty big one; as in, who will play there?

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World Series Game 2 Report Card: Grading the San Francisco Giants

I called my buddy, let’s call him Michael, after Game 2 of the World Series. I figured he would be in a bar in San Francisco watching the Giants game. 

Upon calling, a random stranger picked up the phone. I heard screaming, I heard joy, and far in the distance, I heard Michael screaming “Ya! Go Giants!”

That epitomized what the first two games in San Francisco have been for Giants fans: a big party.

The Giants beat the Rangers 9-0 Thursday in Game 2, completing a homestand in which they outscored the Rangers 20-7. In two games. Yeah, I didn’t see that coming either.

Here is the San Francisco Giants report card for Game 2.

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NLCS Game 1: Cody Ross Rocks Doc, Giants Beat Roy Halladay

Regular season baseball is a funny game. Postseason baseball is knee-slapping, Will Ferrell in Anchorman game.

Of all the things that we thought about as we entered Game 1 of the NLCS, Cody Ross hitting two home runs off of Roy Halladay wasn’t one of them. Every postseason like clockwork, we see players who we would never expect to become heroes do the unthinkable.


Ross tagged Halladay for two solo HRs, and Tim Lincecum outdueled the Phillies’ ace as the Giants won 4-3 to take Game 1 of their best-of-seven NLCS.

This game featured two of the games best in Lincecum and Halladay, and the game kind of lived up to the hype. Were both pitchers great? Absolutely not. But they were both very good.

Halladay made four mistakes in his seven innings of work.

The first two came to Ross. Halladay tried to bury an inside fastball to Ross in the third, and he missed bad and Ross deposited it 417 ft into the leftfield bleachers. The hit by Ross was the first one Halladay had given up in the postseason.

Then in the fifth, Halladay made the same mistake to Ross. Again he tried to throw an inside fastball and again missed and again Ross hit it into the leftfield bleachers.

Take a look at the pitch plots on the two Ross ABs.


Ross AB in the third


Ross AB in the fifth

The turquoise plot indicates the ball that was hit in the AB and as you can see, the pitches that Ross hit out were almost in the same spot. The other mistakes Halladay made were in the sixth, and the pitch sequence to Pat Burrell was the turning point in the game.

With two outs and Buster Posey on first base, Halladay threw a perfect cutter to Burrell that home plate umpire Derryl Cousins called a ball. In all fairness to Cousins, he hadn’t called that pitch a strike all game, but that pitch was a strike.

On the very next pitch, Burrell ripped a ball to the wall for a *double. I put an asterisk next to the double because any other leftfielder besides Raul Ibanez would have caught that ball. Ibanez catches that ball and the non-strike call to Burrell doesn’t become such a big deal.

The last mistake Halladay made was to Juan Uribe, who was the next batter in the inning. Halladay left another fastball over the plate and Uribe singled up the middle to give the Giants a 4-1 lead.

On the flip side, Lincecum only made two mistakes.

The first one was to Carlos Ruiz in the third and the second one was to Jayson Werth in the sixth. Both were on fastballs out over the plate and both were hit for HRs to rightfield.

Lincecum struck out eight over seven innings of work. He only threw 41 percent first-pitch strikes, but rebounded in the count because of a wicked changeup that he threw for a strike 70 percent of the time.

Here are some other observations from Game 1…

Very impressed with Javier Lopez in this game. He went through Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in the eighth with no problem what so ever. Didn’t think he had that in him.

I thought Bruce Bochy managed a great game. Pinch-running Nate Schierholtz for Burrell in the sixth was a smart move at the time, and I loved the fact that he went to Brian Wilson in the eighth to face Werth.

Jimmy Rollins has gotten old fast. The 2007 season seems like 10 years ago. He has a $8.5 million club option for 2011, which the Phillies will certainly pick up, but I doubt he will be in a Philly uniform after 2011.

I can’t wait for the WWE to have a lookalike tag-team match at WrestleMania. Edge and Werth vs. CM Punk and Wilson. This needs to be done.

Is Game 2 a must-win game for the Phillies? No, not at all. Winning Game 2 would certainly help, but the Phillies are a team that can come back from an 0-2 series deficit.

Game 2 is Sunday at 7:57 PM est and will pit Jonathan Sanchez against Roy Oswalt.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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