December 2009

I think a minnow dove in the ocean.

Cubs make a “splash”

Byrd is a nice little player to have.  An okay player who apparently
can man center field.  And manning center field is kind of important
when a team, well, needs a center fielder.

Is Byrd going to bull anyone over with his talents?

No.  But he has some value.  I don’t necessarily like the 3 year
deal aspect of it, for he is a player that has been significantly
better at home than on the road.

Weaker league, and a hitter friendly park should still allow him to
look half-decent at the plate.  But Byrd is simply the definition of a
complementary piece of the puzzle..

A’s ink Justin Duchscherer

To be honest, I was thinking a lot about these kinds of deals being
made by the Pirates this season.  Maybe it is just me, but doesn’t
something need to be done in Pittsburgh?

I mean, they must have some money to spend over there, as they
traded away anyone that was making anything that mattered (Jason Bay,
etc).

But couldn’t they get the fans excited and sign a bunch of non-type A free agents to one and two year deals?

The short term would be much more exciting, and since they wouldn’t
lose a first round pick, then they wouldn’t compromise the future, not
too any significant degree.

Seriously…

What about Escobar, Duchscherer, Nick Johnson, maybe Erik Bedard, maybe an Andruw Jones.

Sure, the plan is destined to fail, but the people will care a
little more.  And who knows, maybe with a little luck they could finish
5 or 6 games out with some of the right moves.

Of course, the players would have to want to play in a dreadful situation.

But I hear the city is pretty nice…

The price too steep for Adrian Beltre?

Worth $15 million?

According to Fangraphs,
Adrian Beltre is worth between $10-$15 million to the Red Sox.  $15
mill is too high for me personally.  But three years, $30-$33 million
seems about right for a player that will be 34 when that hypothetical
contract retires.

It is not that I dislike Beltre, he has value.  He is a pull hitter
that would benefit greatly with a move from Safeco to Fenway.  And his
defense is very good, at worst.  So if the Red Sox did agree to sign a
deal–bringing in the defensive wiz–it would give them a lineup
looking something like this (The way I would do it anyway):

Ellsbury

Pedroia

V-Mart

Youkilis

Drew

Beltre

Ortiz

Cameron

Scutaro

Ellsbury would of course leadoff, even though I would much rather
have Pedroia doing that job.  But Pedroia does not feel comfortable
being the first to bat, so what are you gonna do?

Ortiz needs to earn his spot in the lineup back.  Believe me, I hope
he hits 50 home runs and gets on base as much as anyone in the game.

But he won’t.

So until then, I think he must show signs of what he used to be before Francona wastes at bats on him.

This lineup is not great.  There are flaws, definitely.  But with
the Green Monster lingering for all to play pepper with, the team could
potentially, and very realistically, have nine hitters that equal or
exceed the league average in OBP.  And since all of them would be
contributing nicely in that area, the team would once again finish in
the top few teams in the statistic overall.

Sure, Miguel Cabrera would be great.  A guy that can hit any pitch
coming at him, and can get freaky hot come playoff time–possibly
anyway.

But as Rob Neyer always says, “A run saved is as good as a run scored.”  Or something like that.

And preventing runs would be a serious strength, allowing the offense to need fewer runs.

Simple as that.  :)

How to fix the Royals.

The Royals might be baseball’s worst run franchise.  Money may be an
excuse, but signing the likes of Jose Guillen and Kyle Farnsworth is
not going to help at all.  In fact, bad management is much more
hindering to a club than lack of money.  “Lack of money” means it is
more likely that the club experiences downs along with the ups–more
difficult to sustain ones winning ways.  But bad management will not
only put an organization down, it will also keep it down.

The Royals are exactly what a poor run organization is.

So here are a few ways to fix them, most are obvious, maybe a few that aren’t…

  • Goodbye, Guillen: Simple enough.  Player x sucks, release
    him or trade him and absorb his salary.  Roster spots are valuable. 
    The signing was ludicrous the day the deal was inked.  And it is even
    more ludicrous now seeing that Jose Guillen has been quite putrid for a
    corner outfielder.  Among right fielders that qualify the past three
    seasons, Guillen has the absolute worst ‘WAR’ (keep in mind he has
    played 49 games in left too).  And has been worth exactly $1 million
    dollars over that time, according to Fangraphs anyway–which should be
    taken with a grain of salt (if that is the right cliche phrase to be
    used).  But seriously, this guy is a horrible baseball player.  Rid of
    him, let someone younger play, and chalk it up as a sunk cost.  Because
    whether or not he plays in 2010, it will be “lost” money.  Bad teammate
    + bad player + listed on the Mitchell Report = not worth $12 million. 
    At least according to my calculations.
  • Trade Gil Meche: The difference between Meche and Guillen is
    not salary.  They make the same amount.  The difference is that one
    player sucks, and the other is actually of quality.  Meche has been a
    blessing for the Mariners.  Not just because he has pitched fairly
    well–after all he should for $12 million.  But because he has given
    the fans one of only a few good players to care about.  But
    Meche–unlike “albatross”–has trade value–maybe the Royals get a
    little in return as well…  Meche has been worth every penny since
    signing.  And the Royals could probably swing him to a contender come
    the trade deadline and pick up a decent piece PLUS, they may not have
    to pick up any of his salary.  The Yankees may happily pick up Meche if
    their “back-end of the rotation” flails out mid-season ( I know they
    say they are intent on cutting back, but if needed, will they decline
    based on money?–s0mething in which they have tons of).  And of course,
    a few other teams may pick up the tab for Meche as well…
  • Do something, anything with Yuni: This trade was ridiculed,
    and rightfully so.  Not only did they go and get the worst shortstop in
    baseball, they agreed to pay him for two more seasons.  The Mariners
    are picking up 33 percent of the tab in 2010, and 25 percent in 2011. 
    So the Royals are only paying him $2 million and $3 million in the
    years he is under contract.  Then, they must buy him out for $2 mill in
    2012.  So, okay, Yuni won’t prevent them from doing anything really. 
    And releasing him wouldn’t hurt their pockets too much if they chose to
    find another outside alternative.  They could simply keep him, but if I
    were running the team, I would probably outright release him.  But I
    guess they need someone to play each position, as there are only so
    many players they can be paying at one time.
  • Keep Jason Kendall as the backup: Kendall is believed to have the ability to mentor and help players, younger players, develop.  I wouldn’t have signed him–probably not
    anyway.  But now that they have him, then let him do his thing.  As
    long as he is the backup, maybe he can help tutor the less experienced
    ballplayers.  The Royals might believe in this sort of thing, and I
    cannot say that it doesn’t exist.  I don’t like paying money for
    intangibles, but a small amount of money seems like it won’t hurt too
    much.
  • And to the controversial: Explore a trade of Joakim Soria. 
    Soria is a live arm, a very talented closer.  But the Royals have
    placed him in a position where they seemingly only want him to close. 
    I would have given starting another shot seeing how they aren’t going
    to win anyway.  But that was their choice.  Now they have a known
    commodity–a very good closer.  But solid starter would make more
    sense, to me anyway, and would have more value.  They could explore a
    trade now, or wait until near the deadline.  but Soria has value, and
    some team desperate for someone to shut down the ninth inning may take
    a chance on him.  Especially if they are in contention, in a big
    market, and saves are being blown near the deadline.  We all know how
    overblown the combination of those three things can be.  If the Royals
    can pick up an everyday player or two, for the future, then they should
    try and make it happen–assuming they feel the “return” is worth
    surrendering one of baseball’s top closers.  And I know I suggested
    that Papelbon be traded too, but I am just not a fan of relief pitchers
    I guess :) (On that note, I am less of an advocate on trading Pap now,
    as the Red Sox don’t have quite as many options in the pen.  But still
    not opposed).
  • Find a new GM: Or find a new philosophy.  One thing
    stat-guys do well is point out idiocy.  And since they do it
    collectively, their point is emphasized exponentially.  And acquiring
    Yuni–and inking Jose Guillen–well, those were both idiotic moves. 
    Something needs to change, and fast, otherwise the Royals only hopes of
    winning anything lies in the hands of whether or not the division can
    be won with a total of 81 victories.

A colossal mistake?

Matt Holliday might be a great player.  But he might also be just an
“above-average” player.  And when you pay someone 100 million + you
better be damn sure that he is, in fact, a great player.

And apparently that is what the Cardinals may have on the table.

It isn’t that I dislike Holliday, it’s just that his home/road
splits have always left me, among others, very leery of his actual
talent.  And what am I supposed to do?  Ignore those ridiculous splits?

And let’s be real, this isn’t the Yankees.  This is a Cardinals team
that spent $88 million on talent last season.  And what have we learned
from the Toronto Blue Jays?  It is that middle of the road teams, in
terms of payroll, need to be much more restrained, financially, when
this sort of thing arises.  More “restrained” than large market teams,
obviously.

A team like the Cardinals can sign someone for about $20 or so
million dollars.  But that “someone” is all but guaranteed to be their
stud first baseman, the best player in baseball, Albert Pujols.  How
they could afford to be paying both in 2012, the salaries they will
demand, while insuring that the rest of the team is good enough to win, is simply beyond me.

Now maybe this is a different direction.  Maybe the Cardinals are
all of a sudden willing to go north of $100 million.  If that is the
case, then I would be willing to secede my current take on the whole
situation.

But I have serious doubts about the club wanting to go in that direction.

Which leads me to…Joe Mauer.

I have heard several say that it would be crazy not to lock up Joe
Mauer long term.  He’s the hometown kid, best catcher in baseball, only
26, three batting titles, etc.

But crazy?  You telling me that it would be CRAZY for a small market team not to invest roughly $20 million into a single player?

Because I must say that I fully disagree.  Sure, they could lock him
up.  But they could invest that $20 million into the draft, and in
several other free agents.

Of course, that is the way small market teams function.  They don’t
function when all of their money is tied up into a player, or two. 
They work well when the money is spread around to several players that
overachieve what their salaries indicate.

So back to the topic at hand.  Matt Holliday for a potential $100
mill, or more?  Take a pass, St. Louis.  Be sure that they are great
before you pay them like they are great.

A statistical annoyance.

I am a stat guy.  I believe in the numbers, and I value
objectivity.  I really do.  And I have seen what the subjective does in
the valuation of players from a fans standpoint.  That doesn’t mean
numbers are everything.  But I would prefer someone say so and so is
good because he gets on base a ton and plays defense, rather than
because he had a key hit in a “high leverage” situation, a situation
where each and every player will come through multiple times throughout
their career, to varying degrees.

But sometimes this “objective” look at players sometimes feels to be an all out agreement amongst the statistical minds.

Take for example the current crop of potential Hall of Famers on the
ballot this season.  It seems that every well known stat guy thinks the
following players are worthy:

Bert Blyleven

Tim Raines

Barry Larkin

Alan Trammell

Edgar Martinez

Roberto Alomar

And you know what?  I don’t think that any of them should end up out of Cooperstown.  Not with any authoritative opinion anyway.

Each and every one has a very strong case, and each and every one might deserve enshrinement.

But does any of that make it less annoying when all of these
sabermetricians pencil in the same hypothetical ballot?  Not really,
not to me.

The numbers game has become meaningful, and incredibly accurate. 
But also somewhat annoying.  If they all think the same way, doesn’t
the entertainment in their writing become less, well, entertaining?

Maybe I am the same way…I would probably vote for all of the players listed above, and would vote for McGwire too.

But if I did that, then I would understand if you became bored with me too.

:)

Jason Bay a met; Escobar’s season has returned.

The Mets overpay for great offense:

Jason Bay is a good player.  And the Mets didn’t necessarily fail,
they basically did the same thing the Red Sox would have done.  They
paid a little too much for what is close to, and probably will become,
a one-dimensional player.

Bay can hit, and we know that he can hit it out of the vast land
that is known as Citi Field.  We know he will work the count, get on
base a good amount, and of course slug the crap out of the ball.

We also know he will strike out a ton, hit for a mediocre average,
and most importantly, in all his flaws, will have trouble tracking down
balls, in an area that will only accentuate that deficiency.

That being said, the Mets needed someone.  And Bay gives them another good player, albeit, an expensive one.

But the next two years of Bay should be generous to Mets fans. 
You’ll wonder why he can’t get to that ball that Carl Crawford would
have caught 99 times out of 100, but when he gets hot, you will wonder
how you ever lived without those timely home runs off mistake pitches.

Pay for production now, overpay for decline later.  Many large
market teams do this.  The Mets now have to understand that they will
most likely want to trade Jason Bay at the end of this contract, but
that he will most likely be immovable, the same thing that would have
happened to any other team that signed the left fielder.

But for now, they brought in a really good hitter.

The less risky signing; Kelvim Escobar:

I wouldn’t say “great move by the Mets.”  Good will do just fine. 
These are the kind of signings any team can afford, and could pay huge
dividends.

Escobar was a really good pitcher, but of course has been mostly absent the past few seasons due to injury.

But it is completely understandable why the Mets did this.  They
need a few arms, and one can completely get why they didn’t want to
give some of the free agent starters a boatload of money for not being
great over their careers (with the exception of Lackey).

Kelvim brings a sense of hope, although that hope may not be ready
by opening day, it is hope nonetheless.  He was cheaper than most of
the other “prayers” (Sheets, Bedard, Harden).  And he still has the
upside.

Although do not get me wrong, I am not the one scouting him.  The
scouts have looked at his stuff, I assume, and have come to a
conclusion as to whether or not he still has “it.”  I am just sitting
back looking at past numbers, and thinking that he may be able to
rekindle some of what made him a solid top of the rotation starter.

But regardless, Escobar is a solid acquisition to increase the depth
of the staff, something that is generally needed by seasons end.

And what is great about it is that Escobar is not Tim Redding.  Trust me, that is a very good thing.

The ten best 3B in baseball.

If you followed me last season, then you recall that I ranked the
ten best players at each position, in all of baseball.  It seemed like
a fairly popular exercise, and one that I enjoyed taking part of as
well.  As exciting as my blog about Chad Gaudin was, this is
exponentially better, and more appealing/motivating.

I first debated if the rankings have changed enough for me to even
delve back into it, and it seems like they have.  For example:  Derek
Jeter was fifth among SS’s last season, well now, after a great MVP
caliber year, he will of course move up.  Players don’t typically
improve at age 35, but Jeter did (or maybe 2008 was fluky, after all he
was known to be playing injured).  But regardless, his defense somehow
improved.  Marco Scutaro fans take note, and hope for the same, as
Scutaro has taken a similar path (The playing well in the mid-30′s
path).

I also feel that ten players is better than five players, although
much more difficult, and a little more tedious.  And let’s be frank,
the bottom five aren’t quite as interesting as the top five, according
to the writer anyway (me).

Fangraphs ‘WAR’ leaders over the past three seasons will be the
reference point for me.  I am a believer in ‘WAR,’  and much more of a
believer in three-year samples of the metric.  But it will not be
everything, as players may be ahead in ‘WAR’ but may be declining, or
aging, seemingly (See:  Chipper Jones).

And why do I need a reference point as I claim to know a little
something about the game of baseball?  Well, I don’t care if you are
Keith Law, Jerry Crasnick, or Paul Lebowitz, your memory is subject to
lapses, and that would of course include mine.

So here we go!!!!

The ten best third baseman in baseball, according to THIS guy are:

1)  Evan Longoria: I know that we
statisticians/sabermetricians don’t typically use such phrases as “most
feared.”  But subjectively, Longoria places the most fear in my mind of
any player at this position.  It isn’t just the “clutch” home runs against the Red Sox, or just
the career line of .277/.355/.528 line mixed in with a very good
defensive third base.  Well, it is those things put together  :)  Over
the past two seasons, Longoria is your ‘WAR’ leader at the hot corner. 
And since those are his only two seasons, (and scary thought:  he could
actually get better!), then that is why I consider him to be the best
3B in baseball.

2)  Alex Rodriguez: The postseason has been kind to him.  At
least it was kind to him in 2009, very kind.  He erased any doubts of
“clutchness” and allowed us to question whether or not “clutch” is even
a form of reality.  The thing that he lacks, although is okay at, is
defense.  And that is what separates the top two on this list. 
Longoria is a great defender, while Rodriguez is average at best.  A
.302/.407/.588 batting line, in the AL East I must add, is easily the
best hitting third baseman in baseball.  That line is of course from
the past three years.  Rodriguez, with all of his controversy, is one
of the best players to ever put a uniform on.  Pains me to say it…

3)  David Wright: Wright had a “down” year.  But does anyone
expect him to have another?  His power seemed to have gotten caught up
in the Mets cavernous new ballpark, but he still reached base a ton. 
Anyway, his three year sampling is much more telling of his actual
skill-set.  He hits for power, gets on base, and is roughly average
with the glove.  He also endures most of the criticism for Minaya’s
failures (not surrounding his stars with enough talent).  Over the
three year period, Wright has batted over .300, sported a .400 OBP, and
swatted the ball far enough to slug .512.  Not too shabby.  And to
think that he only turned 26 this past season…

4)  Ryan Zimmerman: A breakout year you say?  Seems so.  And
if he doesn’t duplicate his offensive numbers, he should continue to be
the best defensive 3B in the game for the next few seasons.  Aside from
his hitting streak, as Keith Law mentioned several times, his offensive
numbers weren’t all that impressive.  Which could lead some to believe
that he simply got hot (lucky?)  at the plate enough to build his
new-found greatness.  But regardless, as I mentioned, his defense is
awesome.  And whether he slugs over .500 or not, really won’t define
him as a player if he tracks down everything hit within his reach, and
beyond…

5)  Chipper Jones: I guess it wouldn’t be fair to have Jones
any lower than this.  After all, he is a future Hall of Famer, who
reaches base a ton, still.  But he IS aging.  His power seemed to take
a serious hit last season, for whatever reason.  And his defense has
become sub-par in recent years.  But again, he was a great player just
two seasons ago.  And none of the other 3B “wow” me enough to surpass
him.

6)  Pablo Sandoval: Sandoval burst onto the scene in 2009. 
A team that had no offense whatsoever, got a little from this fun
loving guy.  Pablo hit .330/.387/.556, and according to the fickle UZR,
wasn’t truly atrocious defensively.  Although, still below-average.  I
would say that he benefited from a small ballpark…but he didn’t.  Or
that he may have been helped from a nice BABIP…Ok, maybe, I really
don’t know.  But if protection exists, then well, this guy had less
than anyone in baseball.  Give him props for being the only offense the
offensively challenged Giants had.

7)  Chone Figgins: Should Figgins be a little higher after a
really great season?  I don’t really know.  I have never been a huge
Figgins fan, but I understand he is a valuable player, both
statistically, and from the standpoint that a manager can put him
almost wherever they want.

I was actually thinking about this earlier:

Player A has a 3.5 ‘WAR’ for a single season.  Player B has the
same.  Player A stays at one position, let us say left, but player B
moves all over the diamond.  Who had the better season?  They were
worth the same amount of wins, but wouldn’t you prefer player B?

Anyway, Figgins put up a ‘WAR’ north of 6.0.  So don’t think that
either of those hypothetical players are Chone.  The one serious flaw
in Figgins’ game is his inability to hit for any power at all.  When he
bats .300, he is an extremely useful player, but when he bats .270, he
just isn’t the same.  Solid either way, but an example of him batting
.300 was this season, and he had a great season.

8)  Aramis Ramirez: Ramirez seems to be overlooked since the
Cubs seem to fail with an expensive product each and every season.  But
Aramis has been worth every penny.  Aside from last seasons, injury
plagued year, Ramirez has been worth over 4 wins a season every year in
Cubbie blue.  And even last season, in limited time, he played very
well.  The Cubs hand out some bizarre contracts, but this is far from
one of them.  And he should be a solid player in 2010 as well, barring
another setback.

9)  Adrian Beltre: The thing about Beltre is that he has been
looked at as a failure ever since he set foot in Seattle.  After all,
he hit 48 home runs in a torrid contract year, and has never hit more
than 26 since.  This being because Safeco is not friendly to RH
hitters, and of course the difference in leagues.  But not to forget
that Beltre is simply not a guy that is good enough to hit roughly 50
home runs.   It is what we would call a fluke year.  But the glove-work
has never slowed down.  He is, and has been among the best defensive 3B
in the game.  And he does still have power, although not as much as he
displayed in that MVP quality 2004.

10)  Mark Reynolds: Reynolds showed everyone that he can kill
the ball, even if it was for one season.  How good he will be moving
forward?  I cannot say.  But he should be able to slug up around .500
and get on base more than the league average, although I am sure that
park has something to do with it.  His fielding is suspect, but even if
he moved off the position, to say first, his bat may not project.  And
by “project” I mean it may not be worth doing it because they could
just grab someone else to do so.

Any disagreements?  It’s Figgins isn’t it?  He should be higher in
your mind.  But this list is not set in stone.  And in no way is it to
predict who will be the best in 2010.  Don’t take it like this.

So look for the rest of my lists, best at each position, being posted sporadically over the next few months.

Absurdity in Analysis: A JD Drew short.

JD Drew is a good solid baseball player.  Plays defense, gets on
base, and shows some power.  If he played 150 games a season, he would
be even better.

But he doesn’t.

But before I begin this short stint of explaining the absurdity, I
want to apologize for once again helping to exhaust the subject that is
JD Drew.  He is easily one of my favorite topics, and the reasons for
that I have explained multiple times in past blogging lives.

But anyway, in a recent chat, December 14th to be exact, Rob Neyer gave us this little tidbit:

From Dan in CT: “You realized you put J.D. Drew ahead of Mariano Rivera, And another 10-15 future hall of famers, right?”

Neyer:  “Yeah, I realize it. And if Drew plays another 1,000 games, maybe he’s got a future in Cooperstown, too.”

Cooperstown is for the best of the best.  Does JD Drew belong in the same museum as Willie Mays and even a Mike Mussina type?

Absolutely not.

And unless Neyer was kidding, 1,000 games out of JD Drew is
unlikely, and 1,000 games with good numbers is even more unlikely,
seeing how he is 33, going on 34.

If Neyer believes that Drew has a chance to be inducted into the
most prestigious piece of baseball history, Cooperstown, then I suggest
he take a serious look at his qualifications.

Drew has always been torn apart for what he is not: a superstar.  We
all know this.  The guy is not a superstar, he just hasn’t played
enough, and even if he did play enough, his numbers would probably need
to be slightly better in order to achieve “superstar” status.

But he is good, and I don’t blame people for taking that point of view.

But good is not great.  And Drew’s “good” is far from great.

I know, OPS+ of 129.  Even from a corner outfielder, this is really
good.  But The games played and the counting numbers are well south of
what they should be at this point in one’s career.

No, Rob Neyer.  Drew will not sniff the Hall.  And he shouldn’t sniff it even in your mind…

A rotation slugfest: Red Sox vs. Yankees.

Anthony McCarron of the “NYDailynews.com” does what I should have done; comparing the two rotations.  The ones in the Bronx and in Beantown.

Now who this guy is, is beyond me.  After all, I am not from New York, and rarely visit any of their papers/websites.

But the exercise itself, is quite a fun one if you are fans of
either team.  And maybe fun even if one is not.  Except those that are
fans of teams that can’t absorb 11.5 million dollars for a single
year.  And fans of teams that have no shot of signing a pitcher on the
free agent market for approximately $17 mill.

But anyway, you get my point, I am all for a salary cap, but will
love the game regardless.  Although let us be realistic, it is easier
to stick around and watch the games when one’s team is always in
contention.

Anyway, here we go.

The first point I would like to make is that he compares individual
pitchers to each other, such as CC to Beckett, AJ to Lackey, etc.  This
is the most entertaining way to do it, but is not the best or most
effective way.  The rotation as a whole is greater than the individual
comparisons, at least in terms of the regular season.

Second, I am not so sure that Beckett is even better than Lester at
this point.  And quite frankly, Lackey is probably not better than
either.  Beckett makes more sense, because he and CC have had longer
careers, and seem more comparable.  But Lester may in fact be the best
pitcher on this staff.  This coming from a guy (me) that was incredibly
hesitant to declare Lester an “Ace” after a very good 2008 campaign.

That “hesitancy” is lost, no longer, incognito, then subtracted altogether.

But anyway, if we are going to go with CC vs. Beckett, then CC gets
the nod.  He has been the better regular season pitcher each of the
last three seasons, and any signs that he couldn’t handle the
postseason have been all but erased.

Josh Beckett is very good.  But his consistency is in question the
past two seasons, although at his best, I would take him over
Sabathia.  But the overall edge goes to CC, and although there may be
an argument either way, there really isn’t much of one  :)

Although, “xFIP” may disagree…Still, I think CC is the right choice given his workload + great rate numbers.

The next matchup featured Burnett vs. Lackey.  I will revise it however, and go with Burnett vs. Lester.

As I mentioned, I believe that Lester is an ace.  I am more of a
“Burnett is a number two” kind of guy.  Because even though he always
sports a great FIP, his runs given up never really match up.  And this
came with having a very good defense behind him in Toronto,
particularly in 2008.

Lester is the obvious choice here, even though some people still
believe that Burnett’s stuff is as good as anyone.  And that may be the
case.

But stuff isn’t everything…

Lackey would of course be bumped down, and in my opinion Javier
Vazquez would be moved up a notch.  Look, no disrespect to Pettitte,
but he isn’t as good as he once was.  And although Vazquez will have a
few more troubles in 2010, so will Pettitte, I believe.  Whether the
Yankees want Pettitte starting a game three is up to them.  But for
this exercise, 2010 Vazquez is greater than 2010 Pettitte.

Anyway, Lackey wins either way :)
  Doing it in the AL, and doing it well, Lackey is the superior
pitcher, assuming his arm doesn’t fall off.  I like the acquisition of
Javy, but Lackey has the track record of success, at least slightly
better than Vazquez’s.

I guess the exercise gets better with Pettitte vs. Daisuke, rather
than vs. Buchholz.  Pettitte wins, because of Daisuke’s lack of
control.  I am actually confident that Matsuzaka will be worth more
than his base salary this season, but optimism and results are two
separate categories.  And the results point to Pettitte.

As for the fifth, I agree with “unknown scout” that Andrew uses. 
Not only do we have no idea who the scout is, we also don’t know if he
has any credibility at all.  But, he IS a scout.

Joba hasn’t exactly lit up the rotation, and Hughes hasn’t done
anything as a starter.  Buchholz has developed a good two-seam fastball
to compliment his great off-speed stuff.  It isn’t a landslide for
Buchholz over Joba, but seeing what we saw from Joba down the stretch
leaves me some asking some questions.

A slight win for Clay.

The X-factor is depth.  The Red Sox have Tim Wakefield, the
league-average starter, and Junichi Tazawa and Michael Bowden waiting
in the wings.  Those are personally more appealing than Gaudin, Hughes,
and Mitre.  Although Hughes probably still has the most upside of the
crew, the edge still goes to the Red Sox.

Overall, both great rotations, I mean really great.  But I would
take the Red Sox crop of arms, over that of the Yanks.  It isn’t a
landslide, but to me there is separation enough to leave me confident
in my choice.

Of course, the Yankees have a clear edge on the offensive side of the ball…

A Hot Stove Extravaganza!

There have been quite a few transactions lately.  And since I
haven’t posted much since August, I feel the need to get some of these
thoughts off my chest.  Unclog my brain, if you will.  This is of
course the reason that I began this blog in the first place, to try and
have some intelligent discussion, with, well, intelligent baseball
fans.  Fans that delve outside of their teams current market.  Not that
these particular fans need to experience utter and pure
enjoyment from watching two teams play that aren’t their “own.”  But
that they at least care a little about other games, other stories that
exist outside of the local newspapers that they peruse while drinking
their morning cup of Joe.

Well, eventually,  I found some of those fans…

Onto the transactions…

  • Coco Crisp:  Am I the only one not perplexed by the inking of Coco
    Crisp?  I know, I know.  Beane already has a surplus of outfielders on
    the cheap.  But Crisp just two seasons ago–2007–was the most valuable
    defender, according to metrics, in all of baseball.  Oakland of course
    plays in a spacious ballpark, and $5.5 million isn’t that much.  A few
    weeks ago, Dave Cameron was on record saying that an average player
    costs about $9 million on the free agent market.  Well, add in that
    Crisp is close to average if healthy, and that the A’s spend less on
    free agents, and simply do not have the ability to spend much in the
    first place, then the price seems about right.  Crisp should track down
    plenty of balls in center and have roughly a league-average OBP. 
    Again, Beane had guys to play the outfield.  But he must have a reason
    for this, right?  Maybe his genius status is wearing of a little.  As
    regular reader, Peter mentioned, he hasn’t developed a good hitter in
    years.  But some of his lack of success is what small market teams must
    experience.  They can’t cover up mistakes by shipping them off (See: 
    Julio Lugo).  They cannot just solve their needs through free agency,
    (See: Big Market teams, any of them)  :)   This seems like a move to
    shore up the defense, rather than just to shore up nothing, as some
    writers seem to think.
  • Chone Figgins:  Figgins will probably be overpaid the last few
    seasons of this contract.  But the moves that the Mariners have made
    recently have put them into contender status.  Aside from the Morrow
    trade of course.  Figgins represents a solid defender with a good eye,
    and the ability to reach base and make things happen.  Sure, his SB
    percentage sucks, but that may be due to the fact that he has been
    playing under Scoscia for his entire career.  The Mariners should be
    more conservative when allowing Figgins to take off.  And if nothing
    else, the value of an out should be beat into his brain a little more
    with a team that takes on more of a statistical approach, seemingly.
  • Curtis Granderson to the Yankees:  I basically seceded the
    division to the Yankees when this deal happened, until the Red Sox made
    a splash.  Granderson represents an instant upgrade defensively, and
    offensively to what their current options were.  When healthy, he may
    be a top five center fielder in baseball.  Some say he may have peaked
    early, but even if that were true, he should still be an above average
    player.  Yankees fans will hate the strike outs, and the difficulties
    against southpaws, but the success defensively and against
    right-handers should more than make up for those deficiencies.  The
    Yankees had to give up talent to get talent though, and the farm took a
    little bit of a hit in acquiring C-Grand.
  • John Lackey:  Lackey instantly gave the Red Sox the best rotation
    in baseball…on paper.  I was an advocate for this signing all
    offseason.  And I got my wish.  Let’s hope I am right.  Lackey gives
    the Red Sox three potential aces.  And I don’t mean like in 2007 when
    Schilling was old with declining velocity, and Daisuke was somewhat of
    an unknown.  All three of the Red Sox current trio have been an ace at
    one time or another, and all three I would consider to be aces. 
    Lackey’s health is an issue.  But the Red Sox looked into that, I am
    sure, and know far more than I ever will about the situation.  The
    Yankees still have the best team, but the Red Sox might have the best
    1-2-3 punch.  Although it is much more debatable because of this…
  • Yankees trade for Vazquez:  Before this trade the Red Sox were a
    bat away from being as good as anyone in baseball.  But the Yankees
    leaped forward again, and now, on paper, are the best team heading into
    2010 (with the exception of the Red Sox acquring a Miguel Cabrera type
    without giving up Buchholz).  I don’t even know that Vazquez will be an
    ace with a return to the AL.  He had a great year, and had some success
    with the White Sox before shifting to the NL.  But I would pencil him
    in a number two this year rather than an “ace.”  And that is why this
    trade was so brilliant.  They gave up little known, and a little
    unknown to acquire a guy that should exceed 200 innings and be above
    average.  Even if for some reason they don’t trust him come playoff
    time, as they have seen him fail before.  They can simply allow him to
    be the fourth starter, meaning they may let him make only 1 or 2 starts
    (or zero if they feel the need).  Cashman may not be the best GM in
    baseball, and I don’t give him much credit for throwing money at
    players before this past year.  But he has ensured that the Yankees
    have the most talent in baseball with some pretty nifty trades. 
    Although one can still argue that they were “salary dumps.”  But to
    give him credit they weren’t as obvious as the Bobby Abreu salary dump
    of 2006.  Cashman had to take on money, but the money is very
    reasonable, and both players are far from “declining.”  Abreu after all
    was making nearly $20 million.  Point is, since the older Steinbrenner
    left, Cashman seems to have more control and more of a plan, even if
    his plan happens to contain the easiest path, he seems to be making the
    right choices.
  • Cliff Lee:  The heist.  Lee was obtained for what is now known to
    be two future relievers.  Maybe the youngens end up more than they are
    being passed around as, but Cliff Lee is a bonafide ace.  The Phillies
    should have simply kept him and had the best 1-2-3 in the game
    (assuming Hamels bounces back into ace-form).
  • Mike Cameron:  Cameron is a good defender, but is old.  I would
    have felt much more comfortable on a one-year deal.  But I guess he
    could simply be a really good 4th outfielder in 2011, if the Red Sox
    choose.  Cameron strikes out a ton.  And since the statisticians
    basically dismiss the strike out as another out, it probably won’t
    matter much.  But A)  It isn’t fun to watch a guy strike out, from a
    fans perspective.  And B)  At age 37 with an already low average, will
    it sink even lower?  Sure, he can take a walk, but those walks might
    result in a league-average OBP.  I don’t hate the signing, but I don’t like it either.  Kind of how I feel about the inking of Marco Scutaro.
  • Nick Johnson:  Gee, another guy who works the count and annoys
    opposing pitchers and their fans.  His power may be completely gone. 
    But now they have another pesky eye watching ball four go by, giving
    them much flexibility and numerous options.  I would have liked the Red
    Sox to have signed him, just in case Ortiz is terrible.  And of course
    Johnson could have played first, allowing Victor to stay behind the
    dish, and Youk shifting to third, in turn having Lowell and Ortiz being
    the most expensive DH platoon in the history of baseball  :)  Johnson
    makes the Yankees a little bit better, and a they are already the
    best.  Booh!  :)  But he isn’t exactly the model of consistency, as
    consistency generally requires a player to be healthy enough to play
    regularly.
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