9:52 AM CST, March 6, 2013
Talking baseball while the Blackhawks keep rolling:
1. Rumors will continue but here’s the reality about both Carlos Marmol and Alfonso Soriano: As with Matt Garza, the best time to trade them will be in the middle of the season, not now.
Marmol was connected to Detroit’s search for a proven closer but the teams haven’t even talked, and there is no indication that Marmol is high on the Tigers’ list of alternatives.
He’s due $9.8 million this season, and that’s a lot of money for a guy who has been as inconsistent as Marmol. But he’ll only be due about $3.3 million when the trade deadline comes around in July and that’s not too much for most contenders, not if he’s pitching the way he did in the second half of 2012, when he stopped pitching backward and used his fastball to set up his slider.
Soriano is signed through 2014, so he’ll still be owed about $24 million at the deadline. That’s a ton of money but he could be the best hitter on the market if he can match his production from last season, and the Cubs will pay a lot of the salary if they get a decent return on a trade.
Garza’s health spooks teams, and rightfully so. He will need to re-establish his trade value over a period of months, not weeks, before teams are willing to give up prospects to get him. But if he gets off the disabled list in April and makes every start in May and June he should be one of the top starters available at the deadline.
Could these guys be traded before July? It’s possible but the likelihood is that the first half of the season will be about building their market, not cashing in on it.
2. Stanford’s Mark Appel has been ultra-impressive out of the chute for Stanford this season. He had back-to-back three-hitters over Texas and Fresno State in which he struck out 25 and walked 2. Those are Mark Prior/USC numbers but that doesn’t mean that evaluators are convinced he’s the best pitching prospect in the upcoming draft. Because he didn’t sign with Pittsburgh a year ago, he’s in his senior season, which gives him an advantage, especially when he is facing freshmen and sophomores.
The Cubs, who have the second overall pick, might go with Indiana State’s Sean Manaea and Arkansas’ Ryne Stanek over Appel if the draft was held today. Turning down Appel – if the Astros don’t take him off the board – won’t be easy but the Tigers got Justin Verlander by saying no thanks to guys who had better seasons coming into the draft, including Jered Weaver and the three studs from Rice, Philip Humber, Jeff Niemann and Wade Townsend.
3. The format for international tournaments can be confusing, even when those tournaments are being run by MLB. Korea played a win-or-go-home game in the World Baseball Classic on Tuesday. It beat Chinese Taipei, giving it the same 2-1 record as the Dutch and the Taiwanese, and still went home. Consider this explanation provided by MLB.com. “The tie is broken based on head-to-head records or by ranking each team's Team Quality Balance. Based on TQB, Chinese Taipei emerged as the group leader, with the Netherlands taking second place.’’
Yes, the all-important Team Quality Balance. It basically is run differential in games between three tied teams (head-to-head wins is the tie-breaker for two-way ties), although it factors in innings played so that teams are not penalized for games shortened by the mercy rule, which is in play. Believe me, you’ll be hearing a lot more about the TQB if this weekend’s pool in Arizona winds up with Italy 0-3 and the other three teams (U.S., Mexico and Canada) all 2-1.
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