The Russo Report
The Wild Dog Mitch Russo with his picks in key Hot Stove categories, as well 5 trades he would like to see happen before the 7/29 trade deadline.
5 Guys Who Will Not Be Traded
X-Rayz RP Aroldis Chapman
10 saves, 3.42 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 35 Ks
Despite some hot headed outburst by management on a handful of Backyard Radio Broadcasts AND legitimate preliminary discussions involving Chapman at the time, I have no reason to believe the flamethrower will be headed out of Point Loma. While still maintaining impressive value despite his sub-par patch, management has opted to bolster the bullpen via trade at a heavy cost. They are banking on Chapman returning to form and galvanizing a new and improved back end down the playoff stretch.
Mooninitez SP Lance McCullers Jr.
19.1 IP, 22 K, 1 W, 6.05 ERA over last 30 days
One rough patch for this fireballing youngster and the buy low offers come in rolling into Moonz headquarters. GM Sean McLaughlin is known for not selling low on players, instead riding through rough times for the right amount of talent. Teams are kidding themselves if they think this 23 year old is leaving the gravitational pull of the Moonz rotation any time in the near future.
Titans 3B/RF Miguel Sano
22 HRs, 63 RBIs, .370 OBP
The light has finally flicked on for the long time highly touted prospect, and his monster 2017 home run showing Is drawing heavy interest from rival GMs. Unfortunately for them, the Titans A) cherish Sano as a powerful corner IF/OF and B) have a surplus of pitchers and a deficiency of talent in the lineup. Any deal for Sano would cost an equal or better bat, thus making a trade all but pointless at this juncture for all parties involved.
Isotopes 1B/LF Cody Bellinger
26 HRs, 62 RBIs, .356 OBP
The offers for the multipositional young playboy came rolling during and immediately following the HR Derby, and interest remains at a fever pitch. The Isotopes have refused to engage in talks for Bellinger, and it’s hard to argue with that stance. Teams are trying to catch Mikey T napping, and it plain ain’t gonna happen.
Renegades RF Nelson Cruz
6 HRs, 21 RBIs, .363 OBP over last 30 days
A few weeks ago, Nelly Cruz was shaping up to be a tremendous get for a playoff bound team. His stock was down slightly from years past due to a down year by his standards, and the Renegades were fading. Fast forward to today: the Renegades have gone 2-0-1 and Nelly has heated up in that stretch. With Rojo and the Force back in the hunt, the red hot Cruz suddenly plays a big part in their 2017 plans and has likely played himself out of bargain value bin.
5 Guys That Will Be Traded
Mooninitez SP Alex Reyes
#9 MLB.com, #9 Baseball Prospectus, #12 Baseball America Prospect
With the Moonz looking to lock in a second consecutive bye shortly, there is no reason to believe this team isn’t a favorite to win the BCS. GM Sean McLaughlin has always viewed prospects more as trade chips than building blocks, and despite being sidelined with TJ, Reyes could still garner a great haul. The roster lacks any serious holes, but the rotation and bullpen could use one more difference making arm to put Manchester’s Finest over the top in 2017. Reyes could be the guy to get them that arm.
Morning Wood SP Zack Grienke
131 Ks, 10 QS, 11 W, 1 CG, 2.86 ERA
Not many soon to be 34 year old pitchers carry the kind of 2018 upside that Grienke does, and his stellar 2017 only enhances his value. Zack is only 2 season removed from a 1.66 ERA over 222.2 IP, and carries a 2.98 ERA over his 7 years in National League play. With pitching being a true rollercoaster ride for GMs this season, the bidding for Grienke has already begun. An ace of his caliber should draw a great return for the rebuilding Morning Wood.
Isotopes 1B Wil Myers
17 HRs, 43 RBIs, 10 SBs, .332 OBP
In a shocking turn of events, the Isotopes suddenly have enough young depth to shop a 26 year old 2016 All Star. Last season’s 28/28 HR/SB has not been replicated thus far this year, but that does not mean it can’t happen again. If they attempt to add to what they have deemed to be a championship contender, the ‘Topes can basically shore up any issue they desire by trading Myers and sliding Bellinger or Reynolds into his spot in the lineup.
Morning Wood SP Ervin Santana
94 Ks, 13 QS, 11 Ws, 4 CGs 2.99 ERA
With all of the holes in Q-Tip City, there is simply no way they can carry a soon to be 35 year old starting pitcher having a career season through the trade deadline. While he screams regression and has many miles on his tires, his 4 complete games this year have established him as a legitimate threat to go the distance any time he takes the mound. His ERA is 1.34 runs below the league average, and a pitching starved contender may part with a solid trade piece come Deadline Day for The Artist Formerly Known as Johan Santana. My prediction is that he ends up in a package deal out of Q-Tip City.
Trout Fishing Club OF Eloy Jimenez
#8 MLB.com, #8 Baseball Prospectus, #5 Baseball America Prospect
The defending champion OGTFC are in the midst of a WEIRD TIED LADEN season. Injuries have ravaged an All-World lineup, and GM Heroy is finally being forced to show tactical skills. With long term talent in surplus, Ocean Gate has openly shopped the highly touted power OF in an attempt to bolster their 2017 roster. Any team’s considered sellers should be highly interested in the ChiTown bopper to be.
5 Players That Must Be Traded
Morning Wood SP Carlos Martinez
133 Ks, 13 QS,6 Ws, 1 CG, 3.36 ERA
One of the few (if any) trades the Morning Wood have won thus far resulted in them acquiring Cardinals ace Carlos Martinez. As a rebuilding team, you would think C-Mart should be a piece of the long term foundation. But allow me to play Devi’s Advocate: The soon to be 26 year old holds immense trade value that has only been increased by the volatile 2017 pitching market. He is more towards a 1a or 2 in a fantasy rotation, and that’s why I believe management should cash in on their arm while the iron is hot. They have already traded away their pair of 1s (Bumgarner and Thor), and need to add depth and pieces across the board. The collective haul from C-Mart/Grienke trades would bolster the team immensely if done right.
Titans SP Yu Darvish
131 Ks, 14 QS, 6 Ws, 3.45 ERA
In a RARE MOMENT OF WEAKNESS, TItans GM Ryan McLaughlin overplayed his hand on 5/22. He sent Rafael Denvers, Yasiel Puig, and George Springer out of town for Matt Kemp and Yu Darvish. Following in the footsteps of Odom (speed) and Rojo (holds), Ryan went overboard in the pitching category in a momentary fit of madness. Several weeks later and with the 2017 season slipping away, the Titans need to do their best to undo the damage created to their once vaunted lineup. The aforementioned pitching market is as in demand as ever, and a bidding war for Yu could reach All-Star caliber levels. Considering he would be the 5th best starter in TR come Opening Day 2018 and pitchers at peak value, this is an easy no brainer.
Banana Slugs SP Luis Severino
130 Ks, 11 QS, 5 Ws, 3.40 ERA
Another young arm, another case of a team perhaps cashing in on the hot pitcher trade market. Following the retirement of Big Papi, the BBS have seen a sharp decline in their power numbers in 2017. A playoff run is all but certain this year, and one more impact bat could be the final piece to a BCS puzzle. Considering the depth in the Slugs rotation (Max, Arrieta, Porcello, Nova, Gray) and a top prospect in Brent Honeywell paired with the harsh reality that long term aces in the AL East are few and far between, and all signs point to it being sell time in Barnegat on their Bronx Bomber.
Morning Wood SP Jacob Faria
41 Ks, 7 QS, 4 Ws, 2.00 ERA
It was possibly a foolish decision to trade for such an unknown as a team that was falling out of contention, and the Wood need to cash In while they can on this young upstart. His value is near an all time high considering his pedigree and insane start in 2017, and a pitching starved contender may pay a shiny penny in the prospect game to acquire Faria. His numbers this season don’t reflect his long term potential and Q-Tip City would be foolish to include him in their rebuilding plan. They need cornerstones, not contributors.
Morning Wood RP Felipe Rivero
60 Ks, 4 Ws, 8 SVs, 14 HDs
The 26 year old recently named closer in Pittsburgh is striking out batters at 10.7 per 9 clip, and ranks only behind Kenley Jansen in RP ESPN Player Rater score in 2017. His value to the rebuilding Morning Wood is minimal, where as a contender with a hole in the bullpen would love to add this potential Bucco beast. Rivero is by far the best reliever among the teams considered to be sellers before the deadline, and a bidding war combined with a hot July could end up in dollar signs for Q-Tip City.
5 Trades We Would Like To See Happen
Morning Wood trade SP Zack Grienke to OGTFC for C/1B Buster Posey
A bit old for the desires of GM Shane McCann, Posey still brings star power and name value to a decimated franchise. He would lock down the backstop position for years to come. Grienke would instantly slot into the top end of the Fishing Club’s rotation, and there is no reason to believe he won’t be very effective in 2018 as well. Gotta spend money to make money!
Moonz trade SP Alex Reyes, OF Ronald Acuna, OF Steven Souza, OF Lewis Brinson to Morning Wood for SP Carlos Martinez, RP Felipe Rivero
QUITE the hefty price we are asking of the Moonz here, all but gutting their farm system in this deal. But by placing an electric starter like C-Mart into that rotation and letting Rivero step in and close and the #1 seed becomes that much more deadly, as a 2017 BCS Title is very much in reach. Souza is a 28 year old OF that will likely hit 30 bombs this year, Acuna and Brinson are 2 premiere outfield prospects, and Reyes has the potential to be even better than Martinez in the coming years. This is a blockbuster win/win in our opinion.
Rojo’s Renegades trade SP Julio Urias to Morning Wood for SP Gio Gonzalez
2 birds with 1 stone for the Renegades here, as they can add to their injury depleted rotation for a playoff push as well as open up a precious Major League roster spot. Gio is having a stellar season that is even more impressive considering the league’s pitching issues, and going on age 32 still has some tread perhaps. The Morning Wood have roster space to spare and would be wise to roll the dice on a player that has been compared to Sandy Koufax, regardless of injury concerns.
Astoria Isotopes trade 1B Wil Myers to Barnegat Banana Slugs for SP Luis Severino and LF Brett Gardner
The Slugs can add a long term 5 tool bat to their lineup, while the Isotopes finally cave in and admit they could use another starting arm. The Pinstripe Power of Severino and Gardner pluck at the heartstrings of GM Mikey T, giving Astoria a pair of 23 year olds in the rotation (Severio and Berrios) to match the deadly duo of Bellinger and Judge. Myers goes a long way towards replacing Big Papi’s production in 2017 and in the future, while the Slugs staff can withstand the loss of Severino.
Toms River Titans trade SP Noah Syndergaard, 3B Yoan Moncada, and RP Brad Hand to Lacey BackdoorSliderz for 1B Freddie Freeman and SP Jose De Leon
This one is 100% wild speculation unfounded in any truth, but boy would it be fun. BDSliderz GM Sean Dochney turns into Homer Simpson and trades pairs Thor with deGrom for the long term future. Freeman’s loss would be a huge hit to the 2017 playoff push, but Moncada brings long term value that offsets that. Brad Hand could be a deadly bullpen weapon if traded to a contender and his peaked his value this season. Freddie would go a long way towards stabilizing a weakened lineup for the Titans, perhaps becoming their best hitter upon arrival. De Leon would be a throw in that still holds great upside from the mound.
Editors Note: Between the writing and publishing of this report, Ervin Santana was traded to the River City Bad Dudes.