Service time is often among the most important factors when determining when to promote a top prospect, a new analysis by Baseball Prospectus suggests (via FOX Sports). For followers of teams such as the Astros, who recently netted themselves an extra year of control of George Springer by waiting two weeks into the season to call him up, the findings don't come as a surprise. The study did produce an interesting data point, however. "Fourteen times in the last seven years, a player who ranked No. 1 on one of our Top 10 prospect lists debuted in April," BP's Zachary Levine writes. Among that group, eight were on their club's Opening Day roster, meaning the team valued that player's potential early-season contributions over the possibility of an extra year of control down the road. While the gaming of service time of top prospects is common, it's perhaps not as rampant as you might expect, the study suggests. Here's a look elsewhere around the majors:
Mets manager Terry Collins says he expects Lucas Duda to settle in and produce now that the Ike Davis trade has opened up the club's full-time first base job, MLB.com's Spencer Fordin reports. Duda, however, says he doesn't feel much has changed. "If I don't produce, I'm not going to play. No matter what the situation is, if I don't get the job done, somebody else will," the slugger commented. More NL East links ...
Jason Lane, a 37-year-old converted outfielder pitching at the Padres' Triple-A affiliate, is turning heads early in the season after posting a 1.00 ERA in 18 innings. Jeff Sanders of U-T San Diego suggests that Lane could be an option for the big league club if the Padres need to add depth later in the year. "If you took away the age factor, I think people would be really fired up about him," Padres Farm Director Randy Smith said. "But for us, age is irrelevant because his arm is fresh." Here's more out of baseball's Western divisions ...
SATURDAY: Lannan has accepted the assignment, ESPN's Adam Rubin tweets.
WEDNESDAY: The Mets have outrighted left-hander John Lannan to Triple-A Las Vegas and purchased the contract of right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, tweets MLB.com's Anthony DiComo. Lannan will have the option to reject the outright assignment in favor of free agency. ESPN New York's Adam Rubin tweets that Matsuzaka will work out of the bullpen for now.
Lannan, 29, appeared in five games for the Mets this season, allowing seven earned runs on seven hits and a pair of walks in four innings of work. Of those seven hits, three cleared the fence for a home run. The veteran has never pitched outside of the NL East, but he's donned the uniform of three teams in that division: the Mets, the Phillies and the Nationals. After posting a 4.01 ERA in 783 2/3 innings with the Nationals from 2007-12, Lannan has struggled. With Philadelphia and New York, he's managed a combined 5.86 ERA with a 40-to-29 K:BB ratio in 78 1/3 frames.
Matsuzaka spent some time with the Mets in 2013 after signing a minor league deal midway through the season. He started slow but fared well down the stretch, yielding just four earned runs over his final 26 1/3 innings while striking out 21 and walking nine. Matsuzaka then signed another minor league deal with the Mets this winter. He's allowed two runs and punched out 12 hitters in 12 Triple-A innings this season. Matsuzaka's minor league deal calls for a $1.5MM base salary in the Major Leagues, and he also received a $100K retention bonus at the end of Spring Training after he did not make the Opening Day roster.
The Braves don't get as much attention as the Cardinals, Athletics or Rays for being well-run teams, but perhaps they should, the New York Post's Joel Sherman suggests. The Braves' relative lack of postseason success may be one factor, says Sherman, but they've made the postseason three times in the past five seasons. Consistency may be one secret to their success. "They have had strikingly little turnover on the baseball side and their philosophy has been consistent throughout," says one NL scout. "They are very clear about the type of player they are looking for and acquire those types." The Braves are off to a great start this season despite losing Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy to Tommy John surgery, and Sherman contrasts the Braves' decision-making heading into the season with that of the Mets. When Medlen and Beachy went down, the Braves acted decisively to replace them, quickly signing Ervin Santana even though he had declined a qualifying offer. The Mets, meanwhile, still have a need at shortstop, and Stephen Drew is still available on the free-agent market. Here are more notes from throughout the National League.
New York Daily News reporter Mark Feinsand added more:
The injury came in the top of the fifth inning during an Evan Longoria at-bat. Jack Curry of the YES Network reported that Nova was looking at his hand, but it was the right arm that seemed to be the issue:
This is simply piling on more issues to what has already been a below-average 2014 for Nova.
In his three previous starts, he boasted a 2-1 record, but his earned run average was 5.94, and his fielding independent pitching was up to 4.93, according to Baseball-Reference.com. The Ivan Nova of 2013 has been nowhere to be seen so far this year.
The Yankees aren't blessed with a ton of depth in the starting rotation, so it will be important that Nova's injury is only minor. If he's forced to miss a significant amount of time, New York could be in trouble in the ultra-competitive American League East.
Even if Nova makes a quick recovery, though, there's no question that he'll have to make a massive improvement from where his level of performance has been in the early stages of the 2014 campaign.
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The Chicago Cubs are already off to a really slow start, starting the season 5-11. It's been clear that the team lacks any real exciting playmakers—outside of maybe Starlin Castro and a surprising Emilio Bonifacio. That could change at some point this season, as there are a few minor leaguers that are close to being ready to join the Cubs in Chicago.
Depending on the position and minor league performance, there are players within the organization who could make an impact in the major leagues this season. A lot of players' fates will be decided by their performance over the next month or so, but there are some who seem destined to make it to "The Show" this season. Here are five that could do just that and provide some excitement in the process.
There's a good chance almost every player employed by the Dodgers in 2014 is also faux-employed by fantasy baseball managers everywhere. From superstar, first-round picks like Clayton Kershaw to surprising, early-season gold mines like Dee Gordon, the Dodgers' abundance of talent translates to the fantasy world as well.
Whether you're in a complicated keeper league or navigating the addictive seas of fantasy baseball for the first time, being keen on the sleeper picks will give you a fast track to bragging rights, winnings or something in between.
We all know that Kershaw, Yasiel Puig, Hanley Ramirez and the rest will put up big numbers for their millions of fantasy owners. But what about the less heralded few who might be the spark plug to a fantasy championship?
Your friends and competitors may scoff when you pick up one of the following Dodgers, but play your cards right and you'll get the last laugh. Check out the top five fantasy sleeper picks wearing Dodger blue this season.