As a bit of a precursor to what is hopefully some activity around the MLB trading deadline, the knights and I will share our thoughts on the early deals, notably the outlooks for Anibal Sanchez and Ichiro Suzuki.
Risk in Detroit?
Brian Walton thinks the Detroit Tigers made a good move:
Suzuki can gain some short-term benefit, but appears to be in the twilight of his career. Sanchez is the big winner. He moves from a team that was going nowhere to a contender and can showcase his skills before hitting the free agent market this winter at the prime age of 28.
Lawr Michaels is happy for Ichiro:
I think the only Sanchez issue is signing as he is in a contract year?
But, I see this energizing Ichiro, going to a contending team, with veteran hitters. That has got to be fun for the guy, playing with Jeter and A-Rod and Cano? Wow - such a deal.
Tim Heaney sees good things for both:
I'm with Lawr on a slight Ichiro revival merely based on environment. The fact he lobbied to go there, even with a likely reduced role, says he just wants to win, etc. I wonder if he can use that short porch with his legendary batting-practice pop displays. I wouldn't trade for him in mixers or anything, but if I'm an owner, I'm pleased.
Sanchez is also a winner. He has run support now. Looks like the Tigs consider him a rental, but he's the type of pitcher that it doesn't matter which league he plays in. He's still an attractive long-term commodity.
Greg Morgan warns more wins come with a price:
Certainly Anibal will get more wins in the Motor City, but he'll also have to face a designated hitter each time through the order instead of a pitcher. I expect a slight uptick in Wins and ERA, and a slight decrease in strikeouts.
I love Ichiro as a lefty in Yankee stadium, and I might trade to get him, although I'd wait to see if he's still playing every day.
Lawr suggests Ichiro needs to learn a new position:
Ichiro is set to be the everyday left fielder when Nick Swisher returns. Thus ending the Raul Ibanez/Andruw Jones platoon, who now will share DH duties.
Tim with the parting shot:
There's still a chance he'd sit or at least not start against tough lefties. They'd be OK with Andruw Jones playing LF in that case while another aging RHB in the infield gets a day at DH. Sure, Ichiro is great in the field, but Jones is quite capable with the leather as long as he stays out of CF.
Of course, if Swish's injury lingers, it's a moot point.
Lord Zola's Wrap-up:
The deal to the Yankees aside, Ichiro is one of the more difficult players to project. After last season's disappointing .272 batting average, the conventional analysis was Ichiro has lost a step. Truth be told, fewer ground ball hits was not at all the culprit. A rotten BABIP on lofted balls (both line drives and fly balls) was the real reason why Suzuki failed to hit .300 in '11 for the first time in his MLB career. I expected his average to recover, figuring his luck would regress and he would at least approach .300. At least to this point, I have been wrong as Ichiro continues to be torpedoed by a low BABIP on batted balls in the air. Since Ichiro does not take that vaunted batting practice power into games, defenses can align to cut off the softer liners that used to fall. So it isn't foot speed, but bat speed that is slowing down.
That said, I agree with the sentiment expressed by my esteemed colleagues and expect the line drives to be a little crisper with more falling in. I also think he'll have the green light much like Brett Gardner did when Gardner was hitting down in the order. Ichiro may not even lose that many at bats since the Yankees will turn their lineup over plenty, getting Ichiro nearly as many plate appearances as with Seattle.
Real quick with respect to Lawr's note about Ichiro playing left: Keep in mind that while he possesses one of the strongest arms in the league, it is his ability to cover the spacious left field in the new Yankee Stadium that is most important.
Breaking down the numbers with Sanchez, Greg is right that Sanchez will face a DH, but the AL ERA is 4.01 as compared to 3.96 in the NL, not much of a difference. The NL K/9 is 7.7 as compared to 7.3 in the AL, so if Sanchez were to throw 70 innings, assuming his strikeouts drop at the same 0.4 K/9 rate, he'll fan only 3 or 4 fewer hitters. Wins are obviously not predictable, but we sometimes take this to the extreme. The better the team you play for, the better chance you have to win. Wins are predictable; they just come with a larger margin of error than the other stats.
With respect to the park effects, Comerica plays similarly to Marlins Park, so that's a wash.
About Todd Zola, MastersBall.com
Focusing primarily on the science of player valuation and game theory starting in 1997, Todd Zola and Mastersball carved out an important niche in the fantasy industry. In 2006, Todd became the Research Director for fantasybaseball.com, and in 2009, he relaunched Mastersball and is now a managing partner.
Todd competes in Tout Wars and the XFL, and has been a multiple-time league champion in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has been a contributor to the fantasy content at MLB.com and SI.com, is a frequent guest on Sirius/XM and Blog Talk Radio and is an annual speaker at the spring and fall First Pitch Forum symposiums.
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