Archive for the 'Hot Stove' Category

Billy Beane: Always ahead of the curve

Billy Beane has been called a genius on more than one occasion. Nowadays it seems like a lot of people will say that the whole Moneyball concept was blown out of proportion, but that’s just because it seems so obvious now. Beane was the first guy to seriously look at OBP as a key stat, and I fell in such love with the concept when I am evaluating a player’s worth I key on OBP (that is when better stats like EqA, WARP, etc. aren’t handy). A guy who hits .230 but has an OBP of .410 is more valuable to me than one who hits .320 with a .350 OBP.  He also adopted the small market attitude of drafting slight lower ceiling college players who are closer to the majors vs. high ceiling high school guys who had a lot of growing to do.

It seems Beane is ahead of things yet again. Beane realizes that trading veterans near the end of contracts for prospects just doesn’t happen anymore.  The trend is to trade young stars who have cheap years left for free agents. Like he did with Danny Haren, like the O’s did with Eric Bedard, and like Beane is about to do with Joe Blanton. I am not an A’s fan so I don’t know how I would feel about what Beane is doing. These are the same young future stars that he acquired in previous trades of his stars (Mulder and Hudson) and now he is flipping them for more talent.

Looking back the Hudson and Mulder deals look good. If you use the transitive property the amount of talent he got for those guys is phenomenal. But there has to be a payoff. I understand it’s hard to win in Oakland, and Anaheim and Seattle are primed for runs in the next couple of years. I am sure Beane is positioning himself for a couple years from now, but how long will he play this game? What do A’s fans think?

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Quick thoughts on the Johan trade

I have been planning a more in-depth Hot stove post, but I had to at least post a quick thought on the trade of Johan Santana to the Mets. It’s been said already (by Keith Law) but it looks like the Twins dropped the ball here. They didn’t get the Mets top prospect or anyone with significant Major League experience.

It’s been noted that the Yankees and Red Sox offered better packages so there must be something we are missing. The only theory I have is that they wanted to keep him out of the American League. The Twins are serious about contending in the next few years and with all the talent they are stockpiling they could pull a Clevenland-esqu run off in a couple of years. You don’t want to have to face Johan twice before the playoffs.

As a [White] Sox fan, this works for me. According to Baseball Reference, Santana was 13-6 with a 3.24 ERA against the Sox in his career. I thought he was a lot more dominate but that is actually higher than his career ERA. Still, it’s a good thing not facing him 2-4 times a year.

Edit: When I said Sox in the last paragraph, I meant White Sox. Sorry for the confusion.

What is on my mind

In the 5 days since I last posted I have been tracking two stories personally…the Michigan coaching search and the (lack of) hot stove action by the Chicago White Sox.

First, the Michigan coaching search seems to take a new turn each day. First Kirk Ferentz was in, then he was out. Then Les Miles was is, then he was out. Then Ferentz was back in. Greg Schiano was in, now he is out. Les Miles re-opened the door today, but Paul Johnson and Jim Grobe have been eliminated. Every day I think that my interest will drop and then something crazy happens to get it going again.

I don’t want to talk about the Les Miles/Bill Martin thing because that has been beaten to death. At the moment I am more concerned that Greg Schiano turned the job down. I know that he has a precedent with this because he turned down Miami job last year, and that was a place that he had coached before. But this is a headscratcher. Is Schiano just that happy at the dead-end Rutgers job or is he waiting for something bigger? I don’t know what could be bigger than Miami (where he was the DC for a couple of years) or the winningest program in history. Even if his goal is the NFL, wouldn’t that be easier from those two places? Rutgers is a tough place to recruit and Brian (from mgoblog) discussed this when he analyzed him. He is probably mistaken if he thinks that he will ever seriously contend for the MNC, especially consistently. All in all something smells with this situation. I am terrified that it’s a sign Michigan is really going to screw this up. At this point I am ready to rule out all the big names being thrown around. They are going to end up with Brady Hoke (from Ball St.) or one of their current assistants.

Meanwhile the White Sox pretty much twiddled their thumbs this week at the Winter Meetings while their division rivals added the best young hitter in baseball. The Sox are in serious trouble. Cleveland has the horses to dominate for at least the next 2-3 years. Detroit added some hitters and with their pitching they have another 2-3 years of battling it out with Cleveland. Minnesota already has a good young team and they are going to add some good young players whenever they trade Johan. What does this mean? In 2-3 years they will be back in the mix. Now the Sox look terribly foolish for signing all these contract extensions. The Sox have Paul Konerko, Javier Vaszquez, Mark Buehrle, Jose Contreras, Jermaine Dye, AJ Pierzynski, Mike McDougal, Scott Linebrink and Matt Thornton all signed through at least 2009. That means the Sox either have to overpay like crazy and try to compete, which I personally think isn’t even feasible, or blow it up and try to start over.

The problem is that this is easier said than done. Teams are crazy about holding on to their prospects now-a-days and the Sox farm system sucks at the moment. A bigger problem is that they don’t have a lot of tradeable assets. None of their current contracts are horrible but none of them are great either. Paul Konerko is only making $12 mil/yr and by next season that might seem cheap. Javier Vazquez is $11.5 mil/year for his contract so again it’s not bad. If both these guys have big seasons they could be very tradeable next offseason. Of course there is no way that happens. Instead they will make Aaron Rowand the highest paid position player on the team despite his career average is .286, he has never hit 30 HRs in a season, and he is a vastly overrated fielder. My faith in Kenny Williams is fading…

The Johan derby is picking up steam

So things are pretty crazy for Johan Santana right now. A day after the news broke that the Yankees were in talks, we find out the Red Sox are in talks as well. It’s not a huge shocker because we knew those two teams were probably the front runners. Both have the young talent to trade and it is just a matter of who is going to blink first. The Twins are in a great position because the have the two most free spending franchises in history fighting over their guy. They should have no problem getting exactly what they want as they play the two teams off of eachother. I am predicting this is sorted out before the end of the winter meetings. If I was taking bets the Yanks would be the favorite because I think they are more winning to part with more. We shall see though.

The Sox make me crazy…

Back from Vegas and a week behind in posting, there is a lot to get caught up on. The biggest news (for me personally) was Lloyd Carr officially retiring, but a close 2nd was the White Sox making some moves.

First they traded Jon Garland to the Angels for Orlando Cabrera. My knee-jerk reaction to this was that it was a stupid move especially after just resigning Juan Uribe. That was probably a bit off-base. First off, Cabrera was 7th among AL shortstops in OPS last season. He led AL shortstops in win shares with 25 (h/t: Hardball Times), which was 12 more than Juan Uribe, meaning he was worth 4 more wins than Uribe last season. From a fielding perspective, Cabrera just won another Gold Glove, but that doesn’t always mean a lot. He is a better fielder, but I don’t know if he is vastly better.

The Sox gave up Jon Garland who after three almost identical seasons from ’02-’04, had a breakout 18-win season in 2005. He won 18 more in ’06 but his ERA went back up. He seemed to struggle last year as his walks went up and his Ks went down. He’s 27 now and with 6 full seasons as a starter under his belt we have probably seen what Garland is, a respectable third starter who doesn’t have the stuff to be an ace. He should fit in well with the Angels where he will be no higher than third behind John Lackey and Jered Weaver. Pitching closer to home should help as well.

Both players are going to be in the last year of contracts with the Sox saving about $3 million with Cabrera instead of Garland. Obviously this means we have our starting SS for next year. It wasn’t until I did some researching that I found that Juan Uribe has played a half seasons worth of games at 2B and 30 more at 3B (most of both with the Sox in 2004). This means that they could keep him around as a utility infielder. He is a decent fielder but his inability to walk and his low BA and high strikeout rate don’t make him much of a pinch hitter. And he’s not very fast so that eliminates him as a pinch runner.  I personally think that utility guy is a backup plan. They may try to trade him for whatever they can get. He’s not terribly expensive and some team out there might trade a low level prospect for him. So if the Sox wanted to save $4.5 million they might. Otherwise I guess he shares time at 2B with Danny Richar.

That wasn’t the only move the Sox made as they signed reliever Scott Linebrink to a four-year deal (!!!). There is so much wrong with this. First off, the Sox are so hesitant to give a starter 4 years, but have no problem giving a reliever this. What is more disturbing is that apparently the Sox haven’t learned their lesson from last year’s signings of Mike MacDougal and Matt Thornton, both whom got 3 year deals. Linebrink has been pretty good, with an awesome season in 2005. And he has strung together 5 pretty good years in a row. But he has never pitched in the AL and The Cell isn’t a forgiving ballpark. I suspect this will not end well. It also means the bullpen for the Sox is pretty set for the next couple of years, barring anything crazy…

  • RH – Bobby Jenks (by my calculation he is not eligible for free agency until after the 2011 season)
  • RH – Scott Linebrink (signed thru ’11)
  • RH – Mike MacDougal (signed thru ’09)
  • LH – Matt Thornton (signed thru ’09)

Those four guys are sticking for at least the next two years. Scary…

Proverbial nods to Cot’s Baseball Contracts and Baseball Reference for providing me some needed info.

Hot Stove League Update

It’s still early on and we are approaching the lull that will take place before the Winter Meetings but stuff is still happening…

  • Curt Schilling did his little song and dance about saying goodbye to Boston and then less than a week later is back with the Red Sox with an incentive-laden contract. At $8 million base salary it’s an good move for the BoSox. Schilling slots as the #2 or #3 starter, behind Beckett and possibly Dice K if he can turn the corner. With Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz waiting in the wings this is definitely it for Schilling in Boston. Injury notwithstanding, Schillling was solid last year.
  • The Chicago White Sox declined Juan Uribe’s option before signing him for $1 million less. Uribe is bad. I look at The Hardball Times and Win Shares and he is a lot worse than I thought. He is a surprisingly solid fielder, earning 9.3 win shares as a fielder. Only Troy Tulowitski earned more in the field. Unfortunately he only earned 3.9 as a hitter. To put it into perspective, Hanley Ramirez led all shortstops with 25 as a hitter. 3.9 win shares means that as a hitter, Juan Uribe is worth less than 2 wins. At $4 million it’s not a horrible move. Uribe seems to be declining in a hurry though.
  • The Philadelphia Phillies went out and traded for Brad Lidge. Supposedly so they could move Brett Myers back to the rotation. I think the playoffs were a big wakeup call. Other than Hamels they have no starting pitching and what good is a closer if you can’t hold a lead? Lidge’s reputation has been tarnished after Albert Pujols took him deep in the 2005 playoffs. Lidge has only been in the league 5 full seasons. He went from setup man in 2003 to lights out closer in 2004. He will was awesome again in 2005 before the playoffs. Despite a horrible 2006, he actually had a pretty solid 2007 even though he lost his closer’s job. I never understand the shock of Lidge’s decline. He wasn’t that established and it’s not like he’s been in the league 10 years. Take a look at the guy he replaced, Octavio Dotel. He had a similar path of setup man, to closer, to getting injured/burning out (somewhat).

An odd alternative to Torii Hunter for the White Sox

I am a big White Sox fan. If I picked my favorite team in any sport, it would be them. So don’t be surprised to see a fair number of White Sox related posts on here.

Mark Gonzalez via Buster Olney via MLB Trade Rumors has alerted me that the possible trade of Joe Crede for Johnny Damon not only has some validity but is actually gaining steam.  Damon is owed $26 million over the next two years but the assumption is that the Yankees will help out with that. I would assume Hunter will cost more, plus getting rid of Crede rids us of his contract and opens the door to Josh Fields.

But let’s look at this way. In the Hunter scenario we end up with (presumably) Crede @ 3B, Fields in LF, and Hunter in CF. In the Damon scenario we end up with Fields @ 3B, Damon in CF/LF and (one of the following): Jerry Owens, Andy Gonzalez, Brian Anderson, Ryan Sweeney, etc.

Offensively there isn’t a real distinstion between the two. Hunter provides more power (not what the Sox need) but Damon is better at getting on base (the Sox need this).  Damon had a down year in ’07 (he was hurt) after three really good previous seasons. Hunter is coming off of back to back career years. Defensively, Damon was a lot better than I thought. After consulting The Hardball Times it looks as if Hunter who is known for his spectacular plays, but Damon is the better overall fielder. Seriously stunning. Both can steal bases, but since Ozzie likes to run us out of games that not necessarily a good thing.

Then of course, there is the age thing. Hunter is 31 and Damon is 33. But if we got him for 2 years at under $10mil/year that’s a better deal than Hunter (all the way to his age 36 year) for $15mil/year. Hunter might be slightly better over the next two years but by then we might have a cheaper solution internally and wouldn’t be stuck with three more years of Hunter at that price. By trading Crede and not signing Hunter, we might save ourselves five to seven million, which could be a big help.