Something major happened in my life this week, and we should probably talk about it. Something so big and jarring that my life will never be the same, and the course of human (and non-human) events is likely altered forever. I promise this time (just this once) I am totally not exaggerating at all.
Anyway, I cancelled cable.
I cancelled cable and I could not be more excited about it. I did it mostly because I was tired of paying their exorbitant fees, but it’s also directly affected my baseball viewership. Out are ESPN and MLB Network, in is my MLB.tv subscription routed through my new Roku box. So far, so good (and yes, I realize these things were not mutually exclusive before, since I already had an MLB.tv account, but whatever, okay? I’m happy with the heavier wallet).
All of this lead me to wonder how my Waiver Wire family ingest their baseball. So let us know in the comments below, or via Twitter (@jackweiland, @Karl_de_Vries). Cable? MLB.tv? Both? Rabbit ears? Anyone tossing MiLB.tv on there as well? Anyone out there give up on their fantasy teams and subsequently their baseball viewing?
Before we jump into the meat of today’s column, let’s take a quick look at some of our recent subjects.
Will Venable has continued his hot hitting, with two more home runs since I wrote about him here, and I’m still cautiously optimistic that this is a legitimate breakthrough.
I think I read somewhere that Alex Rodriguez had an eventful trip to Boston? Did I get that right? At this point he’s essentially trolling the baseball world, but as a fantasy asset he’s still underowned right now (just 61 percent at CBS). Bad karma be darned, he’s a wonderful free addition for leagues where he’s still toiling on the wire.
Ryan Ludwick hasn’t set the world on fire since rejoining the Reds, but he’s picked up the pace in his last few games, and I still like him as outfield help down the stretch.
Danny Farquhar is still excelling in ninth-inning duties for the Mariners. He’s worth speculating on for saves down the stretch, and he’ll probably make a good target for drafts next spring.
Today let’s look at a scorching-hot Cub and an American League outfielder whose playing time might press him into usefulness.
Donnie Murphy | Chicago Cubs | 3B | ESPN: 11.5 percent ownership; Yahoo!: 17 percent; CBS: 11 percent
YTD: .340/.397/.811 in 58 plate appearances
ZiPS projection: .304/.363/.684 in 95 plate appearances
We need to talk about Donnie Murphy.
I’ve made it no secret here that I watch many Cubs games. (Why? Now that’s one for the therapist.) So I’ve been patiently waiting for Donnie Murphy to come back down to Earth to save me the trouble of addressing his production here. That has not happened, and twice in the past week I’ve endured Cubs announcers mentioning Murphy’s incredible home run production during his short time with the club. In some ways, the talk is fair. His seven home runs in just 58 plate appearances is a pace that equates to 72 bombs over 600 PAs. That’s pretty incredible. If he kept posting a .472 ISO all season, it would rank as the third best single season ISO since 1900 (behind just Barry Bonds‘ 2001 and Babe Ruth‘s 1920).
Also, if we’re being honest, what else are Cubs’ announcers supposed to talk about these days? This is the part of the season where nothing happens and nobody cares. If that sounds bitter, it’s because I’m bitter.
Anyway, the thing is, Donnie Murphy is not very good. The Cubs are Murphy’s fourth team in eight partial major league seasons, and over the 698 plate appearances that make up his big league resume, his triple slash is a rather pedestrian 216/.281/.410. He has 25 career home runs, of which more than a quarter are from this run alone. He’s doing so based on a HR/FB rate of 35 percent, and three of his seven dingers were either “Just Enough” or “Lucky” according to Hit Tracker Online.
Recommendation: Officially, for the record, look elsewhere. No matter how crazy his success is in the short term, there’s very little reason to believe Murphy can continue anything close to this pace.
Emilio Bonifacio | Kansas City Royals | 3B/OF | ESPN: 27.3 percent ownership; Yahoo!: 16 percent; CBS: 24 percent
YTD: .219/.264/.325 in 306 plate appearances
ZiPS projection: .224/.272/.324 in 403 plate appearances
It’s worth mentioning up front that there is nothing new about Emilio Bonifacio. His appearance here is not because I’ve noticed a change in his statistical profile, or read a story about a change in his mechanics that is worth monitoring.
No, he’s here mostly because he’s been playing a lot, all over the diamond, and can provide short-term help to owners in need of steals.
Bonifacio came to Kansas City from Toronto at the trade deadline for a player to be named later and cash. Since then, he’s played on a regular basis in the outfield, and at third base in place of the ailing Mike Moustakas. With just Chris Getz and Jamey Carroll standing in his way at second base, as well, it stands to reason that Bonifacio could grab odd starts there as well.
And while he’s not hitting well (even worse than his career triple slash of .260/.319/.340), this is a player who has 40-steal potential if inserted into the lineup enough. He hits for very little power, poor average, and doesn’t walk a ton. But when he gets on, he can run, and his real-life defensive versatility makes him worth using in the right situation, for an owner with the right need. Nothing more, nothing less.
Recommendation: Worth grabbing for the steals alone. Don’t expect anything else.