How does Stanton’s likely extension impact the O’s and Machado?

According to several reports, such as this one, Giancarlo Stanton is about to sign a 13-year contract for 325 million but the deal will have an opt out clause after 2019.   Stanton also wasn’t set to become a FA until after 2016 but Miami wants to show their fan base that they want to keep their stars this time around. We will see if that actually happens though.

(You can discuss this article on the BSL Board here.)

Stanton is probably the best pure power hitter in the game. Chris Davis might be the only guy in MLB that can match Stanton in terms of just pure power. He has a career 904 OPS. His OBP and slugging numbers are very good. He carries an excellent walk rate as well.   His BA has been up and down in his career but he is still young enough where that can continue to improve. (He hit .290 in 2012 and .288 in 2014, never above .262 in any other year). According to UZR and UZR/150, Stanton has been a solid defender outside of 2013. He also added 13 steals to his stat line this year.

In the 5 seasons he has been with the Marlins, he has been worth 19.5 fWAR and he is coming off of a season where he had a 6.1 WAR (his career best) and may have won an MVP had he not missed most of September due to him being hit in the face with a pitch. He has apparently fully recovered from that and, from Miami’s perspective, hopefully the mental aspect of things won’t get to him when he steps back into that batters box, like what has been rumored to have happened to the late and great Paul Blair. Basically, you are getting an excellent all around player and probably one of the handful of players out there that can stake the claim of being the best player in baseball.

So, what is the downside here? Well, the biggest strike against Stanton has been health. Obviously, you can’t really blame him for what happened at the end of this past season but he still missed 17 games and Stanton has still only played 150 games once in his career and never more than 150. In 2013, he only played in 116 games and in 2012, he played in 123 games. He has had to battle leg injuries, including a hamstring injury that kept him out 5 weeks in 2013 and he had knee surgery in 2012. Stanton is a big guy and you don’t like to see young athletes having leg issues early in their careers. For the sake of the Marlins, MLB and Stanton, hopefully those issues are past him.

Seeing as this is a site about the Orioles, you may be asking yourself, what is the connection to Baltimore? Well, the Orioles happen to have one of the best young players in baseball in Manny Machado and the Orioles are likely going to be thinking about a long-term deal for Manny in the upcoming months or years before he hits free agency.   So, how does this Stanton deal impact a potential Machado extension?

Manny launches a grand slam against the Astros (May 31, 2014 - Source: Bob Levey/Getty Images North America)

Manny launches a grand slam against the Astros (May 31, 2014 – Source: Bob Levey/Getty Images North America)

The first thing I would say is to look at service time. Stanton was a few years away from free agency. After making 6.5M in 2014, he was set to get a huge raise in 2015. Right now, Machado is still in his pre arbitration years, which means we should be able to sign him to a lesser deal now, both in terms of years and money per season. The impact of a deal like this, as well as the deal Trout got last year (6/144.5), should cause the Orioles to look at signing Machado sooner rather than later.

The issue here, of course, is that Machado is coming off of 2 straight years where his season was ended due to knee surgery. He has now had a surgery on each knee and, as I said earlier in this article, you hate to see knee/leg issues with young athletes. The good news is, once Machado got his legs under him last year (no pun intended), he didn’t show signs of that knee being an issue.

I have spoken many times on the BSL message board about how my wife went through the same surgery Manny did in 2013. The condition Manny seemed to suffer from is much more common in women, especially younger women/girls than it is in men. It’s more of a “dancers injury”. My wife was a dancer (no guys, not THAT kind of dancing..unfortunately) and the movements of dancing can cause this type of issue. As soon as she heard what happened to Manny, she said it was the same issue she had and he should have the surgery. Another interesting thing that my wife’s surgeon told her is that if you have this condition in one knee, you are likely to have it in the other knee.   As it turns out, that also applied to Machado and his condition.

So, what does this all mean? To me, I look at these surgeries both ways. On one hand, surgeries tend to weaken the area and could lead to other issues. OTOH, this isn’t a complicated surgery and these knee issues that Manny has had, should be gone assuming he rehabs correctly, which all indication are, that he is. So, for me at least, this is both good and bad. I may actually prefer this to a player with muscle issues or something along those lines because this may be a problem that is actually fixed versus a problem you can only do so much for.

The Orioles now need to decide what these surgeries mean for them in terms of a long-term deal for Machado. Duquette said last spring training that they had discussed a long-term deal with Manny but nothing came of it. We don’t really know what that means and we didn’t hear much from it. Manny himself has said he would be “up for it” if they wanted to talk to him. The question isn’t will the Orioles explore this extension; the question is when will they explore it. Do they need to see their young 3rd baseman play a full season on those surgically repaired knees? Are they willing to “gamble” and say, we feel he is going to be past these surguries and explore those extension talks this off=season, when he is likely going to be the “cheapest” he will ever be?

When you compare Machado and Stanton, there are a few things that stick out. First of all, both have suffered leg injuries early in their careers and at young ages. Stanton, right now, is clearly the better hitter. His walk rate is miles better than Machado (although it was nice to see Manny improve in that regard from 2013 to 2014) and the power is much better. Manny plays a premium position and may be the single best fielder in all of baseball, regardless of position (hope you like that GG Kyle Seager, you won’t have it for long). Stanton is coming off his best fWAR season but that is a season where Manny’s 2013 still was better, according to fWAR, albeit by only .1 WAR. Manny did play in more games though and since WAR is a counting stat, we can basically call that even. Last year, Manny put up a 2.5 WAR in the 82 games he played, putting him on-pace for a 5ish fWAR season. That fWAR number is better than what Stanton did in 2013; a season where he played many more games than Manny did last year.

While the power differences are stark, you can argue that Manny is the better all around player and while Stanton is probably nearing, or is at, his ceiling; Machado has some time to go before he hits his.

Let’s go back to the idea of when do you offer Machado the extension? For me, I have no issue offering him one right now. I feel pretty confident that the knee issues will be behind him. He may have a flare up here and there but we have a manager who will be smart about that and will bring him along at the pace he needs and will rest him when he needs to. I believe that Machado is on the verge of becoming one of the best all around players in baseball. The defense is obviously there and the power is coming. He has shown an ability to use all fields and, as I noted, he showed an improved BB rate in 2014 and hopefully that continues. Add to that, the fact that third base is becoming more and more of a premium position and I think you start to see why locking him, sooner rather than later, becomes a priority for this organization.  

Now, would I have an issue if the Orioles decide to go the wait and see route on Manny and make sure everything is good with his knees? No, not really. I think any reasonable person should be okay with that idea – but if I am the Orioles, I am not waiting too long.

Machado will get a raise for next year and probably make close to $1M, pre arbitration. He will then probably make something in the 25-30M range in his arbitration seasons, give or take. Youth remains on his side, as Machado does not turn 23 until July 6 of next year, so we are talking about his arbitration years taking him until his age 27 season, which is historically the peak year for an offensive player. I know some would give Machado any length of deal he would want – and I can also get behind that idea to an extent – but for me at least, there is a limit on how many years I would guarantee him. That limit for me is 10, although I would prefer an 8 or 9-year deal with an option.

Sticking with the idea of an 8-year deal, I would structure something like this:

2015: 3M
2016: 7M
2017: 11M
2018: 16M
2019: 19M
2020: 22M
2021: 25M
2022: 25M
2023: 27M team option
2024: 28M team and player option

That is 8 years, with $128M guaranteed. You can play with those numbers somewhat here and there but basically, that would be the rough deal I would put on the table for him. That would be a deal that I think Manny would be hard pressed to turn down right now, especially coming off of two knee surgeries and understanding that if he is past those surgeries, that he could still be a FA at an early enough age where he could still get another lucrative contract.

Machado is a huge part of the future of this organization and has a chance to be the next Ripken. He is that good and has that much upside. Keeping him here for the long haul is imperative and the longer you wait, the more it will cost you.

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Predicting the unpredictable Joe Flacco

Essentially, the Ravens are facing a short six game season in a race to finish atop the AFC North. Best case scenario while the Ravens enjoy their bye week, no division rival enters week 12 with seven wins. The Browns are 6-3 and host Houston. The Bengals are 5-3-1 and travel to New Orleans, and the Steelers are 6-4 and travel to Tennessee. The Steelers have the best shot at getting to seven wins given the opponent, but their bye week is week 12 where anyone can match their seven wins if they get there. 

In fact, the Ravens can move from last, to first in the division without even setting foot on the field, if all three AFC North foes lose this weekend. That’s how close it is. 

Discuss your thoughts on this topic on our message board. 

10 wins is always the benchmark for getting into the playoffs. Most times that will be good enough, meaning the Ravens need to win four of the final six to get there.

Here is the remaining schedule: 

@ New Orleans (4-5)
vs. San Diego (5-4)
@ Miami (6-4)
vs. Jacksonville (1-9)
@ Houston (4-5)
vs. Cleveland (6-3)
Combined records (26-30, .464)

Football is the ultimate team sport. Everyone needs to do their fair share, but no one is counted on more than the quarterback. It’s his job to execute and put up the points, and to pick up the slack if the defense starts falling behind. Flacco has been great at times, and average or worse at times this season. What is expected from Joe Flacco here in this six game sprint to the finish?

No doubt about it, it has been a roller coaster season of sorts for Flacco. He is consistently, inconsistent. Let’s take a look at his QBR week to week.

Flacco QBR

Up, down, up, down, up, down, down, up, up…..? Let’s hope it keeps going up because going down from a 51.4 QBR will lead to a poor outing in an important game.

Check that out. Joe Flacco’s worst game of the year was book ended by two games that would make Peyton Manning blush. Let’s take a look at some of the trends to see what we can expect from Joe down the stretch.

Flacco’s average 2014 QBR splits:

72.9 at home
51.2 on the road.
48.1 vs. winning teams
82.9 vs. losing teams
49.0 vs. pass defenses #10-19
70.8 vs. pass defenses #20-32
82.5 when the Ravens win
31.4 when the Ravens lose

So lets take look at the schedule again.

@ New Orleans. A losing team on the road. The Saints are 19th in pass defense. Flacco is 2-2 against teams better than that (TEN #10, CLE #11 – CIN #17 twice). Kind of a coin flip here.

vs. San Diego. A winning team at home. The Chargers are 7th in pass defense. This would be the best secondary Joe Flacco has faced this year. Flacco plays better at home, but this secondary will be a tough test. Before the Texans season went in the crapper last year, the Kubiak led squad opened the season with a 31-28 win on the road at SD.

@ Miami. A winning team on the road. The Dolphins are 9th in pass defense. This one doesn’t look like a favorable matchup in any case for Flacco. However, Kubiak beat Miami in 2011 and 2012, and Flacco went into Miami and took care of business last year.

vs. Jacksonville. A losing team at home. The Jaguars are dead last in pass defense. Flacco should have a QBR over 90 in this game, with ease.

@ Houston. A losing team on the road. The Texans are ranked 26th in pass defense. Other teams of note with poor pass defenses are Tampa Bay (28th), Atlanta (30th), and Carolina (31st). In those three games, Flacco’s average QBR is 93.5. Despite the road game, a favorable matchup here. Then again, who knows the Kubiak offense and how to beat it better than Houston? On the flip side, who knows the Texans defense better than Kubiak?

vs. Cleveland. A winning team at home. The Browns are 11th in pass defense. The Ravens beat them on the road in week three. If a playoff berth is on the line, I like the home team and the home crowd, and the veteran leadership on the Ravens to excel over the Cinderella story going on in Cleveland right now.

My prediction:

Jacksonville and Cleveland are wins. Get that out of the way now.

Looking ahead to the next game, a close game, I have to give the edge to New Orleans as the teams are evenly matched, and the Superdome is a great home field advantage.

San Diego was embarrassed by Miami, 37-0 earlier this year, in part because west coast teams tend to struggle when coming to the east coast. The Ravens home field advantage is no slouch either. I’ll give the Ravens the edge there.

In the roller coaster type fashion that Flacco’s success emulates, I think he’s due for a stinker when going to Miami. He’ll probably play ok in New Orleans, pretty well against San Diego, and then a drop off in Miami.

After this Miami game though, Joe Flacco and the Ravens should finish with three straight wins, finishing with 10. It’ll feel like the sky is falling if they go 1-2 over the next three, falling to 7-6. But the schedule makers were generous with the Ravens final three games.

Furthermore, here is a look at the division’s final three games. 

Ravens: JAX (1-9), @HOU (4-5), CLE (6-3). Combined record (11-17)
Browns: CIN (5-3-1), @CAR (3-6-1), @ BAL (6-4). Combined record (14-13-2)
Bengals: @CLE (6-3), DEN (7-2), @PIT (6-4). Combined record (19-9)
Steelers: @ATL (3-6), KC (6-3), CIN (5-3-1). Combined record (14-12-1)

If the Ravens find themselves in a position where they control their own destiny, they have a better shot than any other division foe at running the table for the final three games. 

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Terps run past Wagner to open the ’14-’15 Season

The University of Maryland Terrapins opened their 2014-15 season with a 82-48 demolishing of the Wagner Seahawks at the Xfinity Center.

The talent disparity between the Terps and Wagner was clearly immense, but there was still information to be gleaned from MD’s performance.

In the last month, Coach Turgeon has said he has never felt better about his MD program. It was easy to see why tonight. This can be the best Terps team since Greivis Vasquez’s Senior year (’09-’10).

Next-up for MD is Central Connecticut State on Monday night.

(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)

Quick Hits:

1) There had been lots of talk in the preseason about MD’s Motion Offense. The positives from the exhibition wins carried over into tonight. We saw positive spacing, ball hand-offs, extra passes, and made shots. Plenty to smile about tonight if you are a Terps fan. Coach Turgeon looks to have better talent to work with, but he also gets credit for the adjustments he has made to his offense.

2) Another thing to like was MD’s defense. They packed the interior, and dared Wagner to shoot over the top. For the game, the Terps limited Wagner to 27% from the floor.

3) In the first 20 minutes, MD was 6 of 10 from outside. Each of the made threes coming from first-year Terps. For the game, MD was 7 of 14.

4) Clearly Trimble has entered College Park with an immense amount of attention. There might have had been a couple of early jitters, but he quickly got past that. He knocked down two 3′s in the first half. He showed the jets. It didn’t take long for him to look comfortable. What I liked was his ability to operate at multiple speeds. The intermediate jumper with 5 minutes left was also nice. Trimble finished his first game with 13 points, going 5 of 6 from the line. He passed the ball fine, but he did finish with 0 assists.

5) Graham got the start at Center. His energy and willingness to play defense is always there. Tonight we saw him making good decisions finding teammates. One thing to watch when he does play, is his foul shooting. Has been a problem for him previously, he supposedly has worked hard to improve in that regard.

6) Maryland also won the battle of the boards, 44 to 35.

7) With Smotrycz currently injured, Layman is getting the opportunity to start at the 4. MD’s athleticism looks strong with 3 starting guards plus Jake together on the floor. The Junior finished with 16 points, 9 boards, and 6 assists.

8) Senior Dez Wells looked to be noticeably thinner. All MD fans collectively stopped breathing when he went down in pain in the first half. It was great seeing him quickly back smiling and on the floor. Without forcing much, Wells finished with a game high 18 points. (7 of 11 from the floor.)

9) Pack hit two 3′s in the 1st half. With Trimble picking up his 3rd foul fairly early in the 2nd half, we got to see Pack get some additional minutes running the offense.  Ram also had time as the backup PG, with some playing time in the first half. Back in the game late, Pack ran the court for a layup. A bit more size then I anticipated. In addition to his 8 points, he also added 6 rebounds.

10) Dodd helped out on the boards, grabbing 8 off the bench. His lone basket came by backing his defender down, and showing a nice little hook. In addition to those boards, Dodd had 6 points, and 2 blocks.  Just 4 of 8 at the line.

11) Picking-up where they left off in the Exhibitions, Wiley and Nickens showed they were not going to be shy at all. Loved that they were both ready to go Day 1.  One of the things I liked best in the 1st half was that Nickens badly missed his first 3 attempt, but that did not prevent him from taking (and making) the next opportunity he had. This Freshman duo combined for 13 points, 3 boards, and 2 assists. Wiley was just 3 of 6 at the line. They look pretty polished.

12) Cekovsky’s first basket came on a dunk. Good hands shown on that play. Got some time together with Dodd – the Towers helping to protect the rim better than anything MD offered last year. Big block from the Freshman with 90 seconds left. 3 points, 3 boards, 2 blocks.

13) The Terps were just 27-41 (66%) at the foul line.

14) Maryland finished the game with 14 turnovers.

15) The Terrapins shot 55% from the floor (24 of 44). They finished with 9 assists.

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