Guardians trading Franmil Reyes? Nolan Jones at the start? Redo the outfield? Hey Terry!
CLEVELAND, Ohio — As the All-Star break arrives on Monday, Guardians fans have questions.
Hi Terri: Are Cleveland serious about Franmil Reyes trade? This might be a good move considering Josh Naylor’s best position now is DH. Bring in Nolan Jones as first baseman and make an opening in the OF for George Valera next year. That would leave us with a solid OF to choose from Valera, Steven Kwan, Myles Straw and Oscar Gonzalez. What do you think? –Terry Ramey.
Hi Terri: Is it too early to talk about a Kwan, Jones and Gonzalez outfield? -Jeff Mruk
Hi Terri: Will Nolan Jones become the real deal? Or is it just a good start to run out of steam? – Amanda Schoen
Hi, Amanda, Jeff and Terry: Lots of stuff wrapped up in these questions. Let’s break them down:
1. Reyes is my nominee for most disappointing Cleveland player in the first half. He entered the weekend at bat .220 (.632 OPS) with eight circuits and 26 RBIs. He batted 94 times against 13 walks in 234 at bats. His withdrawal rate is appalling. He has completely lost control of the strike zone and his power has diminished.
2. In his last two 162-game seasons, Reyes hit 37 HR, .822 OPS (2019) and 30 HR, .846 OPS (2021). This season, OPS is dismal. None of this makes Reyes, 27, attractive in a trade. But I believe Cleveland is very open to dealing with it.
3. The Guardians asked Reyes to get in better shape to play in the outfield, but it wasn’t a priority for him. I agree that Naylor can work at DH considering the serious leg injury he suffered last season. Give Naylor credit for being very good at digging dirt throws early on.
4. As for the outfield, Kwan is a legitimate first hitter and an excellent left fielder. He can also play in the center. I want Straw in the center. He is the best defensive CF in the American League, according to various rating systems such as Fangraphs. Straw had a terrible start, but beat .275 in July. He is a career .250 hitter in 1,066 career at bats. Don’t write it off.
5. Right field is interesting, with Jones and Gonzalez the leading contenders now. Too bad Gonzalez suffered from abdominal strain and was out for a few weeks. I like the idea of Jones at first base, but don’t do it until spring training. Adjusting to the majors as a rookie is hard enough without changing positions midway through the season. Jones only played one game at the start in the minors. He was mostly a third baseman.
6. Valera is only 21 and that’s why his batting stats .275 (.866 OPS) with 13HR and 52 RBI at Class AA Akron is impressive. But it will be interesting to see if they upgrade it to AAA class after the all-star break. I guess it opens 2023 at class AAA, setting it up for the majors.
7. Amanda’s question about Jones also applies to Gonzalez. It is too early to know. Remember that approximately 85% of MLB players return to the minors at least once. A year ago, Andres Gimenez hit .218 in Cleveland and rebounded in Class AAA. Patience is therefore essential. But there’s reason to be excited that the team has legitimate outfield prospects.
8. One impactful prospect is Will Benson, who is hit .256 (.907 OPS) with 15 HR and 15 stolen bases on 17 Class AAA Columbus attempts. Benson walks often (.409 on base) and he cut his strikeouts, which was outrageous earlier in his career.
9. Benson was the team’s first pick in the project of 2016 and it is the first time he really looks like a prospect. It’s the same draft where Jones was a second-round pick, Aaron Civale went third, and Shane Bieber was a fourth-round pick. At 12, they take Zach Plesac.
10. Finally, there’s my guy – Will Brennan. Another 24-year-old outfielder, Brennan beats .328 (.883 OPS) with 70 RBI in 77 games between the AA and AAA classes. It has seven circuits. So let’s give Straw and Kwan two outfield spots, then let Gonzalez, Benson and Brennan fight for another spot. I like the idea of Jones on first base.
Hi Terri: Between Gimenez, Gabriel Arias, Tyler Freeman and Brayan Rocchio, who has the best glove? – Jim Lissi.
Hi Jim: I haven’t seen Rocchio and Arias enough to know, but it’s hard to believe either of them is superior to Gimenez. Freeman is best suited for second base. Arias is a great shortstop, but he had a tough season because he couldn’t stay healthy.
Hi Terri: Why does Owen Miller always play first base? He lost so many games by not catching the ball. He stopped knocking. He has no place there. -Joanne Regan.
Hi Terri: Why do so many players make one-handed catches, which sometimes results in a loose ball? What’s wrong with raising that other hand to make sure the ball isn’t going anywhere? – Janet Cornell
Hi, Joanne and Janet: I love these questions. Miller wasn’t a disaster at first base last season or early in 2022. But he is right now, especially with pitching. I don’t understand it. At Janet’s point, catch the ball with both hands. My father smiled at this question.
Miller is playing first base because Naylor is out with injuries. Mainly second and third baseman in the minors, Miller was my favorite prospect a year ago. I was excited to see him hit early. He’s really cool, batting .246 (.669 OPS) with four home runs and 36 RBIs this season.
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