Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Chris Sale to Boston for Yoan Moncada, Kopech and Two Others; 2 Other Deals

Photos: The front of my Chris Sale autographed 2010 Bowman Sterling Prospect Autographs card (It's got an 8 surface because the autograph is on a thin, transparent sticker that's put on the card). The back of the card shows that Beckett graded the autograph a 10, which is perfect. So a 9 card and a 10 autograph. Not bad.

Read about the Red Sox / White Sox trade at this link if you're not inundated with it already.

In a nutshell (which some are saying Sale is, especially after he ripped up some White Sox throwback uniforms last year), this is a trade for a power lefty with the best ERA in the American League over the past five years. Visit his baseball-reference.com page here.

Here's why the Sox are excited to have Sale:

--All-time: #3 in K / 9, 2nd in Ks per walk and #10 in WHIP, all awesome control and power stats.

--He's only 27.

--He's team-controlled until the end of 2019. The last 2 years are team option years, for $12.5 million and $13.5 million each year. That's really cheap considering his ability. (Consider that Pablo Sandoval got paid $17 million last year not to play at all.)

--He supplants Price as the ace and now gives Boston perhaps the best 1-2-3 punch in baseball, with Sale, Price and (2016 Cy Young Award Winner) Porcello starting the first three games of any postseason series.

--He averages over 200 innings a year and has finished 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th in Cy Young voting in the past five years. Also a 5-time All-Star, each of the past five years.

--He's led the league in complete games, Ks, and Ks per nine innings in the past few years.

--He's also led the league in hit batsmen the past few years. Why's that a good thing? Because it proves he pitches inside, and he pitches angry. (Remind you of anyone? Answer below.) That's good, because with half his starts at Fenway, and the Green Monster just 310 feet away, he has to pitch inside. He already does.

--You'd rather have a great thing, which Sale is, than 4 possibly great things. Think: Rose and Pavano for Pedro. (Another guy who pitched angry and inside, and hit a few batters. But he's in the HOF now.)

--The blue chip in the trade was Moncada, who the Sox spent $80+ million on, including a fine for signing a foreign player for so much money. Then he went 0-9 with 9 whiffs, looked terrible doing it, and seemed lost in the field. I saw him play a game in Portland last summer: he whiffed 5 out of 5 times, and looked terrible there, in Double-A. I also heard today that the Cuban League, where he (and Puig) excelled, don't test for PEDs, and that everyone comes out of there looking like King Kong. Then those guys (again, like Puig) come to the majors, and they're overmatched. He could be the next Robinson Cano ("Don'tcha know"), but I'm betting against it.

--The rotation now looks like this: Sale, Price, Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez (who has shown flashes of excellence--and boorishness), and Drew Pomeranz, who with some rest may be the guy they hoped they were getting. (And thanks, Hayes, for reminding me of his existence this afternoon. An unforgivable mental blip.) If he falters, Clay Buchholz and / or Steven Wright will step in. Wright showed brilliance last year before he was injured (perhaps permanently) and Buchholz may be the only #5 guy in the league who has pitched a no-hitter and won 17 games, twice. Perhaps the best starting rotation in the majors, on paper. And Buchholz did well in relief last year, too.

Here's why it's a slight cause for concern:

--Sale's the guy who ripped up the very, very ugly White Sox throwback uniforms last year. Literally, he took scissors to all of the uniforms in the clubhouse, costing his team thousands and earning him a team suspension. Not to mention the ire of the organization. So he comes with ace stuff, but also a bit of an attitude. But wasn't that said about Pedro as well?

--Though he'll be just 28 in March, at the start of Spring Training, I'm a little concerned about all the innings he's pitched. He throws 95-98, for 200 innings a year the past 5-7 years. That may add up. Then again, Price has pitched more innings, and after a poor start, he finished very well. Plus, there are guys like Ryan, Clemens, Johnson, etc. who had no problem. We'll see.

--Moncada might be the real deal. Maybe not. But Kopech could also be the real deal, as he also throws 100+ MPH and has three plus pitches. Diaz, the forgotten man, also throws 100 and has a great upside. I'm not as familiar with Basabe, but it is very possible that the first 3 guys will become All-Stars, Kopech as a starter and Diaz as a closer. I'm betting they'll make it further than Moncada. And, again, I'll take a definite over four maybees, even three very high-ceiling, scary maybees.

But neither Pavano nor Rose turned out to be Pedro Martinez, right? Not even combined.

P.S.--In case you missed it, Mitch Moreland (think Napoli, but weaker on offense and Gold Glove on defense) just signed with Boston, pending a physical. This puts Hanley Ramirez at DH, and he's a good option at 1st during interleague play.

P.P.S.--And Travis Shaw and a few prospects you've never heard of are going to Milwaukee for Tyler Thornburg, a proven 8th-inning power set-up guy with closing experience. If Carson Smith is healthy, the Sox may have the best 7th, 8th and 9th guys in baseball--and a safety net if they tire of Kimbrel's act, as I already have.

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