December 2008

A Few Thoughts.

  •       The Giants made a wise signing today, inking Randy Johnson to a one year $8 million deal.  Everything one needs to know about the signing Keith Law discusses in his blog.  The $8 million may seem a little high to some for a 45 year old pitcher, on a team that wasn’t exactly a good team last season.  But for a pitcher who has thrown over 184 innings in four of the last five seasons, that ain’t bad.  And three of those seasons were 200+ innings a year.  Plus, Johnson is signed to only one year, making it less risky, and as Law points out, the Giants play in a bad division, the worst in baseball.  Acquiring Randy Johnson gives the Giants a little more hope that they can compete for the division, although getting a bat is almost imperative.  One other thing is that Randy Johnson is close to his 300th win.  And the Giants crowd wouldn’t mind seeing a milestone reached that they don’t have to second guess, I am sure of that. 

  • This is Rob Neyer’s take on the Red Sox and Teixeira.  Neyer agrees that the Red Sox didn’t need Teixeira.  He too explains that the odds are against Lars Anderson ever becoming as good, however, he also adds that Anderson could very well come close to the same production down the road. 

  • Haven’t heard any news on the Red Sox catching situation.  Address this, Theo, so whoever the new catcher is can get in as soon as possible and start learning his new staff.

  • I wonder what it would take to get Joe Mauer…?  :)

Cup O’ Tea-garden.

     The Boston Red Sox offered Jason Varitek arbitration.  Varitek declined, making whatever contract he signs a little too long for my liking.  Had Varitek accepted, the Red Sox would have had him for a season to see if there is anything left in that swing.  But Varitek declined, now assuming if he seeks employment elsewhere, and succeeds, the Red Sox would receive a draft pick due to Varitek being a “Type-A” free agent.  2009 with Jason Varitek is not frowned upon by this party of one, but 2010 might be.  So what do the Red Sox do? 

     Well, there is a catcher sitting in the hot sun in Texas whose name you may have heard of: Taylor Teagarden.  Teagarden is 25, and from my understanding, based on stats and matters that originate from the subjective, the guy is a heck of a baseball talent.  Teagarden turned 25 just four days ago.  So far in his young minor league career, young because of an injury setback, Taylor Teagarden is summed up best, statistically, as this:  .267/.390/.509.  Keith Law projected the catcher, before the 2008 season, as potentially one of the top five-ten catchers in Major League Baseball (in the future of course).  Law also refers to Teagarden as a “plus defender.”  The one downside to the backstop seems to be his lack of arm strength.  Although it does not sound as though he has a terrible arm, it definitely sounds like it would be a liability before it would ever be considered a strength (although Law states that he may end up with a “plus arm” as well as it wasn’t fully recovered from Tommy John surgery when he wrote this). 

     But while acquiring Teagarden via trade makes a lot of sense, it is easier said than done.  First, the Rangers will require the Red Sox throw in a pitcher with a lot of talent, and probably a little more in addition to that.  Good hitting catchers don’t exactly form simply from pixie dust.  And with defensive skills that seem to be better than the average catcher, one can see why Taylor Teagarden could be a very good all around friend of the pitcher.  Teagarden displays good patience, what seems to be above average power, and would love to be aiming at the Green Monster, since he is a RH hitter.  I am no scout, but I went back to watch one of his AB’s from 2008, one in which he homered, which was very much on purpose.  His approach and recognition reminded me a little of Jason Bay’s, although I doubt his power ever approaches that of Bay’s, and if he hit like Jason Bay from that position, he would be the best player in baseball.  So it is unfair to think that he will be as good a hitter as Bay.  Teagarden’s approach simply reminded me of Bay in the one AB I went and checked out.

     Another reason why the Rangers could possibly keep Teagarden rather than their other promising catching prospect, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, is because Teagarden is more of a proven commodity in the patience department.  Even though he has played every game of his pro baseball career, aside from 16 games, Teagarden has actually shown a lot of promise and can draw a walk or 80.  Aside from 2008, he has hit the ball very well in each of his minor league seasons, while being patient at every level.  Saltalamacchia, for whatever reason, is not regarded as a good defender, or at least I have heard.  But he too has hit well in his pro career, even though his power has not translated to the Major League level in roughly a full season’s worth of action.  And as far as patience is concerned, Jarrod has it, but not quite to the extent of Teagarden 

     Jason Varitek has proven to be a great team player.  His apparent genius in the area of “game calling,” and the fact that he has served as a good backstop have been valued by the players around the Red Sox organization.  But if he cannot hit, then he cannot hit.  Since Teixeira was not signed, then the Red Sox making a move for their catcher of the future seems even more logical.  Signing Tex would have made them the favorites in 2009, where as now they are simply among other contenders competing for the right to be the “favorites.”  Since Varitek’s contract is up, this may be the best time to part ways with him.  Receive a draft pick, move on, move forward, and hope for the best in 2009 with whatever catcher they can get. 

     But even I do not know what the Red Sox would truly be losing if Varitek were to leave…    

       

    

Believing in Theo’s Plan.

     Theo Epstein has a plan, and it seems as if he is willing to adhere to this, especially since he isn’t exactly making any splashes on the free agent market.  A while ago I wrote that if the Red Sox and other large market teams go in a certain direction, focusing on the farm first, and making free agent acquisitions when their farm doesn’t produce a player at a needed position, making trades of surplus talent for a need, etc, etc.  Then both teams could build a powerhouse organization.  Well, Theo has not strayed from doing this, nor should he. 

     The last season that Theo made a significant move during free agency was before the 2007 season.  Epstein needed a right fielder to replace the aging, declining, hometown hero in Trot Nixon.  So JD Drew came to town.  Theo wanted to add another capable starter, and even though Dice-K isn’t exactly what everyone thought him to be, he is capable.  Those were definitely the biggest acquisitions of that off-season, and hype could not surround any one player more than it did with Matsuzaka coming over from Japan.

     Something occurred to me today, something that I hadn’t realized.  JD Drew was worth more than just money (Well the five year contract wasn’t exactly fitting for his resume, but that is another story).   But signing JD Drew, meant not surrendering a draft pick.  I actually had not thought of this until today.  And it is actually sort of genius, not the signing of Drew, that wasn’t genius.  But bringing a quality player in, while not losing a potential quality player down the road.  The signing has gained an instant boost in credibility once I realized this, at least more so than I originally thought at the time.  So the Red Sox received their high On-Base, patient, defensively adept, and productive when healthy, JD Drew.  And they kept the draft pick that they value so much (partly because they have so much success drafting, which not every team can be so confident). 

     Daisuke was another player, that although was very expensive when one adds in the bidding fee, did not cost the Red Sox a draft pick (although I am not positive of this, where would the draft pick go?  :) .  So the Red Sox effectively signed TWO effective players, without sacrificing a draft pick.  And of course they won a World Series in doing so that same season. 

     Back to the current situation…Yesterday a coworker said that the Red Sox are idiots for losing out on the Teixeira sweepstakes.  Well, first off, maybe I shouldn’t take this to heart.  Not everyone understands the value of a cheap prospect that should be a good player.  Is “idiocy” the right term for saving nearly $20 million a season?  Once again, Teixeira is a known commodity (And Tex WOULD have helped the Red Sox), while Lars Anderson is not a known commodity, somewhat known, but somewhat unknown.  But with the success of the Red Sox scouting, drafting, and developing, shouldn’t they be confident when one of their prospects is, not only groomed by them, but playing well under their watch?  That money, even with as great as Teixeira is, can be spent elsewhere. 

     The ultimate plan should be to produce as many players as possible, who are cheap for the organization, and obviously players that are average or better as well.  Since the philosophy is to be “average or better at every position,” then having below average players isn’t exactly what Theo and crew are shooting for.  Another luxury of a strong farm is actually going to come into play very soon, most likely.  The Red Sox have surplus pitching from within, while they need to address the catching position externally.  Since they don’t have a catcher that has shown much promise as being the backstop for a good team, then they will probably need to move a pitcher for the rights to a catcher.  Without depth down below, it would be even more difficult to do this.  Theo may have trouble parting ways with a promising young pitcher, but without other good pitching to back that move up, it would simply be even harder.  And a little off topic, I wish they would bring in that catcher as soon as possible.

     So if anyone criticizes Theo and Lucchino for not spending money right now, then they should do their research.  It is about something bigger, something more dominant down the road.  Theo is confident that he can accumulate draft picks, or at least not lose draft picks, while having enough talent on the field to win.  And 2009 is no exception.  It looks as though Theo will make the right decision, and not pay what is essentially a league average pitcher in Derek Lowe, a lot of money.  If they absolutely needed Lowe, then I would not ridicule the decision of signing him (probably wouldn’t ridicule it anyway), same situation for Teixeira.  They have Mike Lowell at third, they have Youkilis at first, and of course Anderson in the minors.  If their first baseman was Doug Mientkiewicz, and in the minors they had no one with any potential, then it would have been imperative to bring in Tex.  But it is about the big picture, not simply a piece torn off of that big picture.  Theo won either way.  So before one criticizes him, go out, purchase a really big frame, and do your research. 

      

Yankees Drive One Into the Gap With Teixeira.

     The Yankees made a significant splash inking a deal with Mark Teixeira earlier today.  They don’t really have a Lars Anderson in the minors as the Red Sox do, so if they have the money, which they do, then signing Tex was a good move.  But why wouldn’t it be a good move?  Teixeira, although a first baseman, is a great defender.  Teixeira, as far as I know, doesn’t have any kind of personality issues, and should be a solid addition within the clubhouse.  And if we don’t know already, Tex has a very good bat.  Very good.  Super good the past few seasons, posting OPS+’s greater than 150 in each season (splitting time in both the AL and NL in each year). 

     The Yankees had, not necessarily a “hole,” as they could have gone with a below average center fielder (Melky, and most likely Gardner) and played Swisher at first.  But this is a much better option than that.  Now Swisher can be a great asset moving around the field wherever needed, or he could play right, or even center if they choose to go that way.  They have options, something that is a luxury.  And let us not forget about the 3-4 spots with Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira slotted in, most likely the best 3-4 in the game.  Trust me, this should be the closest thing to Manny/Ortiz since, well, Manny/Ortiz.  And while they may not QUITE match them offensively, they add value on the defensive side of the ball.  I don’t know that they will be as good as Manny/Ortiz, but they should be pretty close, especially total package.  In 2003, Ortiz was 27 and Manny was 31.  Next year, AROD will start the year age 33.  Tex will be 29 in April.  So these next few seasons should be just about as great as any other years for AROD and Teixeira, excluding maybe Rodriguez’s 2007.  Since David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez were the greatest 3-4 that I have ever seen, then I am not going to anoint this new tandem to that status just yet, but they should be great anyway.

     As for the Red Sox?  The Rays?  Ask David Price and Clay Buchholz the answer.  Those two pitchers, and how they perform matter a lot as far as 2009 goes.  I believe in the Red Sox commitment to player development, and I don’t mind them not making this move (See blog on Lars Anderson).  The Rays obviously did not have the money, and will be good with what their farm has produced.  Both will be serious contenders for a playoff spot next season, along with the Yankees.  Unfortunately, they all play in the same division, and only two will be able to qualify for postseason play.

     I have to say that the Yankees making Tex their own was very surprising.  Right before the news went down, I saw an ESPN headline which said, “Developing Story: Nationals and Red Sox most likely destination for Teixeira.”  Then, not too many minutes went by and the Yankees swooped in and grabbed the hottest commodity on the market.  They are a better team with him, if not the best, as much as it pains me to say it. 

     Theo, your move. 

    

        

OBP=Increase in Runs Scored

     The Angels just don’t get it.  How does one score runs?  They get on base and hit for power, right?  Manufacturing runs is great, but it should be in addition to a foundation of the aforementioned strategies, if the personnel is there.  It is not a difficult philosophy.  The more runners that reach base, the more runners that will score, over a long period of time.  And of course, bettering the rate at which one makes an out, is a simple way to look at it too. 

     Mike Scioscia, we know that your style of ball won a World Series for the Angels back in 2002.  We understand that, we all watched it happen.  Not so much because of the Angels, mostly because Barry Bonds was there (And that is no disrespect to the Angels team, I watched that series because the greatest hitter I have ever seen was making his first appearance, whether one loved or hated him, they were intrigued by his dominance).  But in 2002 there are a few things worth mentioning:  One is that the Angels were fourth in the AL in OBP.  They reached base (4th) and they scored runs (also 4th).  The other is that the Angels finished 6th in slugging.  4th and 6th in the two most important categories translated into 4th in runs scored (3rd on the road).  The Angels may have manufactured runs back then, but they also reached base with a greater frequency (much greater) and they actually displayed some power.  These, I believe, are more important then hitting with runners on the move and such. 

     But in 2008, the Angels were 10th in runs scored.  The Angels were 11th in OBP.  And they were 9th in slugging.  They had exactly five players with OBP’s greater than the league average (.333).  Chone Figgins, who does not hit for any power.  Mike Napoli, whom played a limited role, which should be expanded.  Vlad Guerrero, who posts respectable OBP’s, but doesn’t exactly work the count.  Torii Hunter, another free swinger with a OBP not too much better than league average.  And the final qualifier…?

     Why, Mark Teixiera of course, who inspired this blog.  The Angels have decided to withdraw from the Teixiera race, or so they say.  And it is not simply this decision that baffles me.  It is the reluctance to sign guys that get on base.  They could go another direction.  The Angels could try and acquire two of the Burrell/Dunn/Abreu trio (preferably the first two names).  The corner outfielding defense would be simply atrocious, but the offense would definitely improve.  Dunn could DH, Burrell in right (or even first possibly, and Vlad could play right).  Although at this point, Guerrero should really be the one filling the DH role.  But they could move them around and have Vlad DH some of the time too.  Gary Matthews isn’t a starting OF, so he would be sitting on the bench as a sunk cost.  There are a bunch of different options for the Angels, none of them “defensively friendly,” but vast improvements on the offensvie side of the ball. 

     What is most likely not the solution?  Juan Rivera.  More specifically, Juan Rivera for THREE years.  There is always the possibility that Rivera learns how to play at the age of 29, like that of Carlos Pena.  If a team were to give him AB’s, maybe Rivera becomes productive.  But how productive?  Productive enough to score the fourth or fifth amount of runs in the AL?  No.  Rivera for one year may have been an ok move, but they need other hitters.  The window to win is now.  The team has some young components, so the window may expand to later as well.  But now is known, later is not.

     John Lackey is an ace.  Ervin Santana has ace-like stuff.  Jered Weaver is roughly league average (which is disappointing based on expectations, but still has value, and he is only 25).  Joe Saunders may have overachieved some, but he should be quality.  Kelvim Escobar may serve some purpose again (haven’t heard much about him).  There are still two good options in the pen as of now.  And of course their star position player (Vlad) is aging and probably only has a few good seasons left, unless he makes a permanent move to DH.  There is a window to win right NOW.  But the philosophy must be changed as much as anything.  Because if the philosophy is changed, then high OBP players will be brought in to help the offense produce more runs. 

     The Angels don’t need to bring in defensively challenged players such as Burrell, etc.  But if they don’t do that, then Mark Teixeira almost has to be brought back.  Maybe Tex and if they want to spend the money, then one of those outfielders that were mentioned.  The Angels make the most sense of any team for Mark Teixeira, more sense than anyone.  And that is why I am confused that they would take their names out of the running.  Get on base, score runs.  Anaheim Angels.  Are you listening to that?   

The Fifth Starter…

     Four spots in the Red Sox rotation are locked up, and all four pitchers are of quality.  But there is still one spot remaining that is yet to be filled.  There are options outside of the organization: Derek Lowe, who I would expect to be roughly league average and durable for the next four years.  But Lowe would also command a rather hefty price.  Ben Sheets, who signed to a two-year deal would be wise, most likely, but Sheets may find someone to give him more than two years, which I personally would stay away from (one year of Sheets would be even better, but two would be fine too).  Brad Penny, who could be this years Bartolo Colon, except much more upside.  Penny would be a nice addition for a year, but anything more than that, which isn’t built on the basis of a team option, would be too much.  John Smoltz, whom I have absolutely no idea where he would pitch, or even if he would pitch (health).  But if any team gives him a one year deal, at a relatively cheap price, it would be a good decision. 

     But the Red Sox have even more attractive in house options, in addition to the ones above that are out-of-house.  Clay Buchholz is definitely one of them.  That curve, That change, and that fastball in which he can work the other pitches off, brings much intrigue.  Clay is the most appealing pitcher, because he has the most talent in the organization (outside of established starters).  But as we learned from last year, from the likes of both Buchholz and Phil Hughes, one does not necessarily know what to expect from a young starter, even with great stuff.  Although I do have confidence that eventually, Clay will put it together and be, if nothing else, a capable starter.  But limiting his innings and having another starter penciled in may be the best thing for not only Buccholz, but the team.  Then if he makes some strides in the minors, again, then they can move him into the rotation.

     Another option is to let Justin Masterson return to the rotation where he was present for a few starts in the middle of 2008.  Via Keith Law, the only scout I read, he has stated that Masterson lacks an effective out-pitch to lefties and opposing teams could stack the lineup accordingly.  But of course, maybe Masterson can learn how to retire left-handed hitters a little more efficiently.  I don’t know that he develops another pitch, but maybe tailors his sinker a tad more to get them to keep the ball on the ground more often.  And I am guessing location would have a lot to do with that.  So, easier said than done…  Last season, in a rather small sampling, and a partial split of time between the bullpen and the rotation, Masterson’s splits went like this. 

Vs. RH hitters:  .196/.274/.298

Vs. LH hitters:  .238/.365/.422

     As one can see from those numbers, Masterson has some issues against left handed hitters, although he was very good against RH hitters.  Going into the season, or more accurately, Masterson moving up to the majors, questions were raised about how Masterson had many more troubles the second and third time through a lineup.  Which is another reason that many wanted to see him in the pen.  And these questions are legitimate and contain some accuracy.  But Masterson is certainly capable of performing as a fifth starter, most likely better (4?), if Theo chooses to want to save a lot of money, particularly on avoiding a pitcher such as Derek Lowe. 

     But if Masterson shifts to the five man crew, then someone will need to take over his spot in the bullpen.  Ramon Ramirez should be decent.  Okajima should be too.  Either could be above average without doing too much.  And there are a few pitchers in the minors that could potentially come up and throw some relief innings if needed.  The Red Sox may even find another way to bring in a reliever, via trade, or free agency.  Preferably just a short term contract, low risk, if they choose the free agency route.

     There are options, there are choices, and Theo has a lot to do with that.  But avoiding a large contract is the best thing they can do, I believe.  Sabathia would have been one thing, but Lowe is another.  Derek Lowe is a solid pitcher, but it is much easier to find someone close to what Lowe is, and at a club-friendly cost (although Lowe would not be a bad signing).  So whether it be Masterson, Buchholz, or Penny, the Sox can fill out the rotation, and the “depth of the rotation” without spending fifteen million a year.       

Stop Huffing and Trade Aubrey Huff…

     Ok, Ok, the Baltimore Orioles do not have to trade Aubrey Huff right now, but before the season would probably be better.  The problem the Orioles face, and no other team has the same problem, is that the Orioles are the fifth best team in the best division in baseball.  So modeling their team after the Rays is their best bet, by far, for future success.  Signing a Mark Teixeira would have given them more of a Blue Jays model, trying to spend with the biggest spenders.  Had they signed Teixeira they would have been better, and they could still build and hope to win in 2011 or so, as Tex would still be there.  But not signing Tex, even more so for the Orioles, isn’t a big deal.  As for Huff, he almost has to go, right?  Aubrey Huff is a 31 year old who has just had his best season since he was 26.  Seems to me that the best time to trade him would be now.  His OPS+ of 135 is the second best of his career, behind only that of a 145 in 2003. 

     Are the Orioles a better team with Huff?  Sure are.  But it seems to me that they need to get as many quality prospects as possible, and hope they churn out some good ones.  I am not suggesting trading away Nick Markakis, keeping him makes sense, as he is very good, only 24, and should be locked up for a while if possible, at a reasonable price.  The Orioles contain a heck of an offensive core with Adam Jones, Matt Weiters and Nick Markakis.  A heck of an offensive core for the future that is.  Weiters should be an awesome all around backstop, but he needs time to develop some more.  Jones should be a good CF, but is still young and may have some more struggles to go along with his 2008 campaign.  Markakis, as mentioned, is good already. 

     The Orioles are probably not going to extend any kind of significant offer to Aubrey Huff.  I could see them locking him up for a few years if he is not blocking anyone, but anymore than two doesn’t seem to make much sense.  So I suggest that he be traded, to try and get something to win with in the future, something young, cheap, and having good quality.  Pitching would be logical, maybe a once promising prospect who has talent but maybe his stock is low, something like that.  And since Melvin Mora and Brian Roberts are under contract only through 2009, with Mora having a 2010 club option, they should explore the possibilities of trading them too.  Roberts could stick around and be moved by the deadline, because performance with him isn’t so risky, but Huff, although good, will most likely perform at least a little worse this year. 

     The Orioles had a number 3 starter as their number 1 starter in 2008, and he is a free agent now.  So let us just say that there is definitely room for a few starters in that rotation.

Lars or Tex?

    .304/.404/.480

     Lars Anderson is the reason that the Red Sox passing on Mark Teixeira, or simply being outbid, does not mean they are not winners. 

     Do I want Mark Teixeira to wear a Red Sox uniform?  Yes, I do.  Having a great switch-hitting presence right smack dab in the middle of that lineup might very well give them the best lineup in baseball.  Assuming of course that Ortiz can show some resemblance of his past self (close to it anyway), and that Lowrie can be merely average in the batters box.  But eight years and $175 million comes with a great deal of risk, just as every other large contract in comparison.  Less risk for a hitter, but still, the risk is there.  And if there was no one down on the Red Sox farm being developed, and developing rather nicely, than Teixeira would be much more of a need, rather than a luxury.  But if the rumored contract is accurate, then it isn’t as if they are being handed Big Tex for Christmas.  They must fork over a pretty-penny in order to receive his services.  And then they must hope he ages well, and still produces some at age 36 (the end of the deal).  Teixeira should be “productive” at the end (almost definitely a lesser version of his current self), but no one can foresee what will actually end up happening.

     But back to Lars.  Before the 2008 season, Keith Law ranked Anderson #28 on his “100 Best Prospects” list.  #28 is really good, by the way.  Anderson was second among 1B, so since Law makes adjustments for position, maybe even more so than most, Anderson really does score highly in his opinion.  Here is the excerpt that Law posted:

The Sox ponied up for Anderson late in the 2006 draft, and he already
is a better prospect than either of their first-round picks from that
year. He is a left-handed hitter who projects to hit for average and
power with great OBPs. His plate discipline and pitch recognition are
outstanding for a prospect of any age, much less a soon-to-be
20-year-old in high Class A ball. He has a simple swing and takes a
direct path to the ball, so he can let it travel and use the entire
field. He shows plus raw power in batting practice, and he has room to
fill out and become a 30-plus home run hitter once he changes his
approach to pull balls middle-in, but that might not come for another
year or two. He also is a good defensive first baseman and a
fringe-average runner. A big year at Double-A would push him up to the
top 10 for next offseason.

     Those numbers at the beginning of my article?  They are Anderson’s overall minor league numbers to this point in his very young career.  As you can see, that patience that Keith is referring to is very much a reality.  The majors aren’t the minors, but if he can take a walk there, he will be able to take a walk when he steps up a level.  Law states that, “His plate discipline and pitch recognition are outstanding for a prospect of any age.”  That quote sums up part of what the Red Sox love, so his approach is right in line with the big league club that he intends to play for.  And although a .480 slugging doesn’t JUMP off the screen, that may be because of his development, or because of the league/park that he plays in.  The minors apparently are much harder to detect how much stadiums and/or quality of opponents (league) impact a player. 

     Mark Teixeira is a proven player, who if not great, is really really good.  If the Red Sox sign him, preferably for eight years or less, than I will gladly ride along.  2009 looks great with Tex.  But I do not object to a “down” year for the Red Sox.  And by down year, I mean an offseason of a few low risk players being signed and then most likely 88-94 wins.  With the team that the Red Sox have now, they will remain competitive, Tex simply makes them better, and potentially the favorite.  Without the switch hitter in the lineup, they will be serious contenders, but not necessarily the favorite.  Although I would still be confident that they have enough talent to take the necessary steps to another World Series. 

     Theo has done a great job, with many resources (can’t be ignored), in developing a lot of depth, leading to many options.  Even if they signed Tex, then they could trade Anderson (perhaps for a catcher?), or any other need they must address.  Or they could save Anderson for 2011, the year after they can part ways with Ortiz, and let Anderson DH.  I know that forcing a prospect into being a DH may hinder his overall development, as he would not be improving defensively at all, but the way the team would be set up, Anderson could be the DH for a good seven years if he stuck around with the club. 

     Lars Anderson would be much better on the wallet as well, which cannot be overlooked.  If they saved on Tex, they could spend $20+ million a year elsewhere, on some other need.  It isn’t as if missing out on Teixeira is a lost cause.  It could create other opportunites down the road that not many outside of the organization could even think of.

     But again, is Mark Teixeira someone that I would want playing for my team?  Sure.  Who wouldn’t want the guy?  But the Red Sox are coming off two World Series championships in five seasons.  They do not need to go after the high priced free agent, when simply being patient (which isn’t the easiest thing to do) could pay off big, too.  So go after Tex if you wish Theo, we would all be happy to have him, but if the contract ends up something like 10 years, $200 million, then I will not show any ill-will toward you turning your cheek and looking forward.  The Red Sox are good already, and good is pretty good last time I checked.
      

The Way I Really Feel About AJ Burnett.

     Ripping on AJ Burnett is something that I will not do, simply because the New York Yankees signed him.  Nick Swisher was a nice trade.  CC, with all the money involved, is a great pitcher.  That much money is risky, but they are getting someone who may be overweight, but has never had any history of injury, and once again, is a great pitcher.  AJ Burnett is a different case.  Because while Burnett has great stuff, up there with the best stuff in baseball, he has had questions about his determination, questions about his willingless to pitch when the slightest tweak comes along.  This is not directed at the Yankees because I dislike them, this is directed AJ Burnett, and a five year paycheck. 

     I try to put myself in the perspective of a GM.  And if I was sitting in most seats that reside overhead the diamond, there is little possibility that I extend an offer of 5 years, $82 milllion to a player such as Burnett.  A pitcher with injury history AND the inability to pitch through a minor injury (Or so I have heard).  For 2009 it looks as though the Yankees will have a filthy rotation on paper, especially if they bring back Pettitte for insurance or somehow bring in a Sheets or Lowe too.  And if the Red Sox had signed him I probably could find a way to talk myself into Burnett’s “upside,” the flashes of dominance that he has shown.  But I think that I wanted Cashman to make this signing, because I believe that in the long run, this will be a story of a pitcher who makes too much money and misses some time dished out over a five year period. 

     In eight seasons, AJ Burnett has started in 30+ games only three times.  And two of those seasons were in contract years, as a fellow MLBlogger has stated numerous times.  In his “career” year, Burnett had a 4.07 ERA, ERA+ of 105, while playing with a great defense behind him.  The innings were there, 221.  The strikeouts were there, 231, which is very good.  And 86 walks is not nearly enough to impact a pitcher significantly with that many strikeouts.  But still an ERA over 4 is not some incredible feat.  Burnett’s Opponent OBP was .322.  Even with the amount of strikeouts, Burnett allowed a fair share of baserunners, and that helped to translate into a rather high ERA for what some regard to be an ace. 

     Again, I could talk myself into Burnett, and depending on what the Yankees and Red Sox do the rest of the offseason, the Yankees may even be the favorite between the two of them.  But while Burnett looks good short term, he looks quite risky long term.  And the organization seemingly goes on forever.  So while some teams bring up young cheap pitchers from the farm to contribute, others will make risky, lucrative signings, like that of the Burnett signing.  But I have no crystal ball, therefore, maybe something turns on in Burnett’s head, and he becomes motivated to make all his starts (if that is the case as it appears to be). 

    

Toasted Oven.

  •  I believed at the time that the Yankees whiffed significantly on not offering Bobby Abreu arbitration.  Brian Cashman’s excuse?  Cashman wanted to be in control of what the Yankees were dishing out for expenses, because they did not have complete control over what arbitration might have been.  But they had an idea, right?  If Abreu accepted arbitration, they would have received a good player, and one year would be very low risk.  And for all that is real, this should most likely be Bobby Abreu’s most productive year down the stretch run of his career.  And since Abreu would have most likely accepted a three-year deal or so elsewhere, then the Yankees would have received a draft pick.  And that draft pick would have offset the one that they lost when they signed CC.  With all the money Cash is willing to throw around this offseason, I have a hard time believing that paying Abreu a few million dollars more than he is worth for a single year would cause much distress amidst the Yankee front office.   
  • However the Yankees signed one of the best pitchers in baseball.  High risk/High reward for such a lucrative deal.  But as of now, Sabathia is among the best arms in the game.  Burnett on the other hand…Go ahead, make that signing.  And NO ONE better defend it until the five years are up, because Burnett could very well pitch VERY WELL in year one and then spend multiple weeks on the DL the next four seasons. 
  • Mike Cameron is an upgrade over Melky Cabrera.  And Cameron would be coming over for one season at a reasonable price for a large market team, simply as a decent stopgap, and an upgrade over the current clientele, until Austin Jackson is ready to take over.  Seems quite logical to me, although Mike Cameron could struggle facing the likes of Beckett, Halladay, etc, more than he did against the Snell’s and Gorzellany’s of the world .  
  • Raul Ibanez gives the Mets another arm to acquire.  A great left handed specialist.  With the three best hitters on the Phillies being left handed hitters now, teams will have even more incentive to bring in an arm that is great at retiring batters that reside west of the plate (from the mound).  Ibanez is better than nothing, however he is a slight downgrade, I believe, from Pat Burrell.  Ibanez has posted good numbers for a while now, but while Burrell is only 31 years old, Ibanez is 36.  There is a large difference there. 
  • The Mets are basically one arm away from being favorites again in the NL EAST, if they aren’t there already.  I am not infatuated with KROD, for I am not infatuated with the overrated save statistic.  With that being said, Rodriguez is pretty good, and is an immediate upgrade over whatever decent at best option that they had in the bullpen.  I like the Putz acquisition even more so though.  If Putz is healthy, and the Mets would know better than I, than they received one heck of a closer.  I guess “set up man” would be more accurate in this situation.  But if they do things right then every night there should be a good reliever available in the most critical of situations, especially since they also obtained Sean Green.  They still need to get to the pen with the lead though, and a starter is a must. 
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