Editor’s note: feel free to stop reading now if you don’t want to read 4,400+ words on my fantasy baseball team. I won’t blame you for it. For those of you who do play fantasy, as I made picks I wrote down who I was considering and who was available per each pick to try to give some context for the pick. I’ll insert a “jump” line here so that RSS readers don’t have to see this whole massive post
Archive for the ‘trevor cahill’ tag
Despite being much maligned as a method of judging a starting pitcher’s worth, the “Win” is still the essential goal of every starter in the majors and the accumulation of them over a season or career still inspires much thought and discussion. The magical “300 win” threshold remains one of the more challenging career objectives for any starter, and remains an interesting benchmark to discuss. Only 23 pitchers in the history of the game have reached 300 wins.
So, after Randy Johnson’s reaching the benchmark, and after a number of recent start pitchers also hitting the plateau (Greg Maddux, Roger Clemens and Tom Glavine), are we ever going to see another 300-win pitcher?
Here’s some other reading on this same topic by the likes of John Dewan (referencing Bill James‘ annual predictions on who may reach 300 wins with his percentile chances), David Schoenfield (in a dated piece predicting Roy Halladay’s chances for getting to 300 wins), and an early 2012 piece from Jon Paul Morosi talking about Clayton Kershaw’s chances.
Achieving 300 wins in a career is getting more and more difficult. Here’s some interesting stats about reaching 300 wins for a starter in the modern baseball age:
- If a pitcher were to enter the major leagues at age 23, he would need to AVERAGE 20 wins for the next 15 years to reach 300 and pitch until age 38.
- Put another way, that same pitcher entering at age 23 would have to average 18 wins for 17 seasons to reach 300 by about age 40.
- The majors have had ONLY Eleven 20-game winners in total over the past 5 seasons. (Seven of which have come in the last two years, echoing the “rise of the pitcher” and the collapse of the PED slugger era, so perhaps its getting easier to accumulate wins).
- 5-man rotations mean that starters are averaging 33-34 starts a year, down from the 38-40 starts that Pitchers would get just 20 years ago.
- Because of mania over inning counts, specialized relievers, and an obsession with using “closers” in save situations, starters now only earn decisions in around 69% of starts, down from 78.5% of starts in 1972 (source Jay Jaffe’s article, referenced further down). This means the average pitcher only gets about 24 decisions from their 33-34 starts, making the 20-game winner even that more rare. One can argue that better pitchers get more decisions because they’re more likely to pitch into the 7th and 8th innings, by which time their team should have scored enough runs to win for them. But the fact remains that a lot of wins and losses are in the modern bullpen.
In 2009, just as Randy Johnson won his 300th, I had two long winded discussions (one in April 2009, another in June 2009) an older version of this blog that I maintained with friends about the demise of the 300-game winner. Blog author Jason Amos did a great summary in this posting along with some great links. Now, with another 3 seasons in the books, I thought it might be interesting to see who we were considering as candidates just a few years ago and who might be the next “best” candidates to get to 300 wins. I’ll address candidates and their chances as we present pitchers a number of different ways.
(coincidentally, the 300-game winner spreadsheet I’m using for this post can be found at this link, and in the Links section along the right hand side of this page).
Here’s the current list of active wins leaders post 2012. For brevity’s sake here’s the top 10 (and I’ve included Jamie Moyer as being “active” for the sake of this argument):
Of this list of top 10 active win leaders, clearly most of them are never going to reach 300 wins. Jamie Moyer has not yet retired at age 49, but the odds of him even making another MLB roster seem thin. Likewise Livan Hernandez and Derek Lowe may struggle to get guaranteed contracts in 2013. Andy Pettitte has returned and pitched effectively for the Yankees this year, but he’s 50+ wins away from the plateau and only seems likely to maybe pitch one more year. Bartolo Colon does have a contract for 2013 but it may be his last season, and Kevin Millwood is just too far away. Tim Hudson, despite his strong performances the last few years, is just too far away at this point as well. The chances of any of these guys to reach 300 wins is 0%.
How about the rest of this top 10 list? Specifically CC Sabathia, Roy Halladay and Mark Buehrle? There’s some intriguing candidates there. Lets look at their chances a slightly different way.
When Randy Johnson hit 300 wins, two Baseball Prospectus authors posted similar posts to this with some interesting analysis. First, Jay Jaffe used a fun little stat he called the Jaffe Blind Optimism method (JABO), which takes a pitcher and assumes he will win 15 games a year until age 42. Well, this incredibly optimistic formula leads us to a new set of more reasonable candidates. I changed the formula slightly and only ran out the 15 wins/year til age 40 and got this list:
|Rank||pitcher||age||wins||Jaffe 15wins/yr avg->40|
By this analysis we see that CC Sabathia looks like a pretty sure bet to hit 300 wins, and for good reason. He’s been healthy, he plays for a team that is constantly winning, and he doesn’t have to pitch like a Cy Young award winner to get wins in New York (21, 19 and 15 wins his last three seasons). He has always been healthy and just needs 5 more solid seasons to be very close to the 300 win plateau. He’s signed through 2016 (with an option for 2017), and there’s no reason to think he’s not going to see that contract through. His elbow-injury scare in the post-season turned out to be innocuous, but we’ll keep an eye on his health status in 2013. If he loses a season or more to injury the chances of his making 300 wins declines precipitously. Felix Hernandez has nearly a 100 career wins at age 26, and also seems like a decent bet to hit 300 wins at this point. But, he’ll need to move to a winning team to make this task easier on himself; he’s only won 13,14 and 13 games the last three seasons because of dreadful run support. He’s signed through 2014 and I’d be surprised if he stays in Seattle (unless they turn that franchise around in the next 3 years).
Clayton Kershaw and (surprisingly) Trevor Cahill appear here by virtue of a lot of early career success (Cahill was an 18 game winner for a bad Oakland team at age 22 in the majors, no small feat). While both have been injury free thus far, it is really difficult to project 24yr olds as staying healthy deep into their 30s. So, we’ll say they’re promising for now but need to get to about 150 wins before we can really start projecting their odds. Yovani Gallardo has quietly been racking up wins as Milwaukee’s “ace,” but is sort of in the same boat as Kershaw and Cahill; he’s only 26, so its hard to see how he’ll sit at age 30. If he’s got another 60-70 wins in four year’s time, we’ll talk.
Justin Verlander’s 24-win season in 2011, as well as his established status as the “Best Pitcher in Baseball” right now, has launched him into the discussion. The problem is that he “only” has 124 wins entering his age-30 year. He needs to average 18 wins a year for the next decade to have a shot. That’s a tall task, especially considering how well he pitched to just get to 17-8 this year. It isn’t out of the realm of possible, but it is a longshot.
Mark Buehrle and Roy Halladay are both aging workhorses whose chances of reaching the plateau are dimming. Buehrle has just moved to the hyper-competitive AL East and wasn’t exactly dominating to begin with. Meanwhile Halladay’s injury struggles have limited his wins the last couple seasons, likely knocking any chance he had of hitting the plateau. I’ll give them each non-zero chances, but barely non-zero. I’ll give them both the benefit of the doubt because they both seem like the kind of pitchers who could pitch well into their 40s and get the extra wins they’d need to move over the top.
Matt Cain and Chad Billingsley are both mentioned because they had a ton of wins before the age of 25; both in reality are not accumulating wins at the pace they’ll need to stay even close to hitting the 300-win plateau. Plus Billingsley struggled with an injury this year and may be affected next season. Chances right now; slim.
Just for the sake of argument, here’s the next 10 players ranked by the modified Jaffe system:
|Rank||pitcher||age||wins||Jaffe 15wins/yr avg->40|
I posted this list because a number of these players were formerly listed as good candidates to hit 300 wins. Specifically, Carlos Zambrano, Jered Weaver, and Tim Lincecum. Zambrano may be out of baseball in 2013, Lincecum may not even be a starter any more, and Weaver, while clearly getting a ton of wins lately needs a slew of 19-20 game winning seasons to catch back up. The collection of 26-yr olds in David Price, Johnny Cueto, and our own Gio Gonzalez are all well behind the paces being set by fellow-aged pitchers Hernandez, Cain and Gallardo, though it isn’t hard to see any of these three post multiple 18-20 win seasons in the coming years.
So, here’s my predictions of the chances by player discussed above (anyone not listed here specifically also sits at 0% chance of making 300 wins):
Conclusion: I believe we will see another 300-game winner. I think Sabathia has a very good chance of making it, as does Felix Hernandez at this point in his career. But injuries can quickly turn a 300-game career into an “out of baseball by 36″ career, so nothing is set in stone.
I’ll admit it; after watching Billy Beane wheel and deal this past off-season, trading away most of his starting rotation and letting most of his FA hitters walk, I was predicting a 55 win season for this team. They were banking on a proposed move to San Jose and I saw these moves as a purposeful bottoming out while playing out the string in Oakland, ahead of a lucrative move to the South Bay. Well, that move seems interminably stalled, and many pundits predicted a near record loss season for this team, especially considering the massive moves that the Angels had made, coupled with the 2-time defending AL champs Texas being in the same division.
Instead, they sit at 56-48 and if the season ended today, right now on August 2nd, the Oakland A’s and their $55M payroll (2nd lowest in the league by a couple hundred thousand dollars) would be the 2nd wild-card and would play the Los Angeles Angels, they of the $154M payroll (and counting, considering this was their opening day payroll and they’ve taken on with the Zack Greinke deal at the trade deadline).
How did this happen? Lets look at the evolution of the Starting Rotation, because what this group is doing is nothing short of amazing.
In 2011, the Oakland had 10 different guys start games for them. Here’s a quick summary (* indicates a left hander on baseball-reference.com pages):
Here’s what happened to each of these guys (good link for trade details from baseball-reference.com here; this link shows the latest trade between Oakland and all other teams but quickly shows all these 2011 deals listed here):
- Cahill traded to Arizona
- Gonzalez traded to Washington
- Moscoso traded to Colorado
- Harden left via free agency, and as far as I can tell he remains unsigned.
- Outman traded (with Moscoso) to Colorado.
- Anderson had Tommy John surgery in June of 2011 and is in the minors rehabbing now.
- Braden had shoulder surgery in April of 2011 and has not pitched since.
They traded or released the starters who made nearly 80% of their starts in 2011. That leaves 3 guys who had any MLB starts last year: Brandon McCarthy, Tyson Ross and Graham Godfrey, a total of 35 starts. To add insult to injury, Oakland traded their 2011 closer Andrew Bailey to Boston last December.
So, what does the Oakland rotation look like this year? Here’s the same data through August 1st:
So, where’d all these guys come from?
- Milone: acquired from Washington in the Gonzalez Deal
- Colon: bottom-of-the-barrel FA signing (1yr/$2M).
- Parker: acquired from Arizona in the Cahill deal.
- McCarthy; signed a 1yr/$4.275M FA deal after accepting arbitration from the team after last year
- Blackley: selected OFF WAIVERS from San Francisco earlier this year
- Ross: homegrown: a 2nd round pick in 2008
- Griffen: also homegrown; he was a 13th round draft pick by Oakland in 2010.
- Godfrey: acquired from Toronto in the 2007 Scutaro deal
Ross and Godfrey got demoted after poor performance, and McCarthy currently sits on the DL, giving Oakland this current rotation: Colon, Blackley, Griffen, Milone, Parker. All 5 guys with ERAs under 3.78 and all with ERA+ of at least 104 and mostly greater than that. And, when McCarthy comes back he’s essentially the best pitcher of any of them. AND, this is all being done with out Dalles Braden and Brett Anderson, two guys who were core components of the 2010 rotation and who would clearly be in the 2012 rotation if not for injury. AND, Oakland just announced today they’re promoting one of their best starter prospects in Dan Straily for a spot start this coming friday.
And, when Braden, Anderson and McCarthy come back, that gives Oakland a major surplus of pitching that can be flipped in the coming off-season for even more prospects and hitting (much as they did this past off-season).
Combine this pitching revolution with the schrewd Yoenis Cespedes signing (who immediately became the highest paid player on the team), the explosion of Josh Reddick (acquired in the Andrew Bailey deal from Boston), unexpected output from DH/FA signee (and ex-Nat) Jonny Gomes and a solid season from Seth Smith (acquired in the Moscoso deal) and you’ve got a team that is producing enough to win. They’re not an offensive juggernaut (mostly ranked 12th-13th in the 14-team AL in the major offensive categories) but you don’t need to score 8 runs a game when you have a staff ERA of 3.47.
As much as Moneyball critics will hate to hear it, I think Billy Beane is your easy choice for AL Executive of the year right now.
This is your semi-weekly/periodic wrap-up of Nats and other baseball news that caught my eye.
Nationals In General
- Talk about rumors that just won’t go away: Nationals apparently remain the favorites for Prince Fielder. Ken Rosenthal says the same. Buster Olney has a nice overview with pros/cons laid out. For me (as discussed in the comments of the previous posts), I think he’d be a mistake for 8-10 years, but an absolute steal for 3. Here’s some thoughts from Tom Verducci, who thinks the Nats are his destination. And here’s a post that says one of the 3 candidates for Fielder I identified in this space a few days ago (Toronto), is out of the running.
- Imagine a lineup that goes like this: Espinosa-Werth-Zimmerman-Fielder-Morse-Ramos-Desmond-Cameron to open the season, and then potentially inject Bryce Harper hitting behind Morse and replacing Cameron in the outfield. That’d be 5 straight home-run hitting threats in the middle of your order, with good L-R balance. I know he’d be expensive, but that’s a 95 win offense. It’d be even better if we got a one-year stop gap hitter to open the year playing RF and who we could flip in trade if Harper comes up sooner than later.
- From Jdland.com: the concrete factory across the street from Nats park is finally coming down!
- Whoops: Zech Zinicola hit with a 50-game suspension for non-PED drug abuse. Sounds like Marijuana to me. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Nats release him after this, his 2nd transgression.
- John Sickels‘ new rankings of the Oakland A’s top 20 prospects, post trades this off-season. 6 of the 10 top were acquired in the Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez trades, while three more represent Oakland’s #1 draft picks in 2011 (Sonny Grey) and 2010 (Michael Choice) and 2009 (Grant Green). Say what you will about Billy Beane, but he’s clearly building a big-time farm system for the future right now.
- A nice review of the Nationals 2012 outlook from seamheads.com.
- We lost Doug Slaten. Now he can go be horrible for Pittsburgh.
- Good news on both Sammy Solis and Bobby Hanson from Byron Kerr.
- Adam Kilgore says the team is still talking to Rick Ankiel about coming back as a 4th OF… I wouldn’t be totally opposed to that; he’s essentially the same player we got in Mike Cameron, right? Only difference seems to be lefty versus righty.
- Fun little position-by-position exercise: ranking the NL east teams position by position from David Shoenfield. I must admit though I think he was a bit generous with his Nats rankings in some cases.
Free Agents/Player Transaction News
- MLBTraderumors is great; they’ve created arbitration tracking pages that will “keep score” of all the cases coming up in Jan-Feb.
- If you believe Jim Bowden, the Rangers are playing hardball in their Yu Darvish negotiations. If this falls through … look for pandemonium both on the Prince Fielder front and with Darvish next year when he’s an unrestricted FA and could attract interest from pretty much every team in the league.
- Makes sense: Marlins plan to aggressively pursue Yoenis Cespedes. Getting the latest big name Cuban defector can only be a good thing for the franchise as they try to re-build a fan base in a heavily latino/cuban community.
- Well, the Yankees shored up their rotation in one 3 hour period on Friday night; trading for Michael Pineda and then signing Hiroki Kuroda. They went from having three question marks in their rotation to now wondering if AJ Burnett can hold onto the 5th rotation spot. Wow. Here’s Keith Law’s analysis, predictably giving the “edge” to the Mariners in the deal despite the obvious fact that Pineda is MLB proven while the other three guys in the deal, aren’t.
Hall of Fame items
- Mike Silva becomes one of the very few BBWAA writers with a HoFame vote to publish support for Jack Morris. I’m sure I’ll be seeing the inevitable Craig Calcarerra blog posting questioning Silva’s IQ for doing so.
- David Shoenfield has a little missive on the HoFame, voting procedures and comments on how few players are getting elected these days.
- Chris Jaffe does an excellent job predicting HoFame votes every year; here’s his guess on 2012’s election. Bad news for Bagwell and Morris, good news for Larkin though.
- Other interesting HoFame notes: one site in particular collects ballots; here’s a summary of the 80-some ballots she has right now. Very good support for Larkin.
- No Bagwell votes here; prepare for the ridiculing. Danny Knobler and Scott Miller.
- I think i’m just about fed up with bloggers who see everything in modern baseball through little spreadsheets of data and who never even saw Jack Morris and Bert Blyleven tell me I’m an idiot because i think the former is a better pitcher than the latter. At some point statistics are just that; numbers that prove or disprove whatever your theories are. You can’t just ignore 20 years of performance and context of playing in the league by boiling down thousands of innings pitched into one number, whether it is ERA+ or WAR or whatever. For me, when you talk about whether a player is a Hall of Famer, you look at individual season accomplishments. Morris basically had 15 seasons of full time pitching. In 5 of those seasons he was a top-5 vote getter in the Cy Young; that means in 5 seasons those people who covered baseball that season considered him among the best 5 pitchers in his league. In another two seasons he didn’t finish top 5 but still received votes. He was god-awful his last two seasons, lowering his career totals. And there’s dozens of examples of him completing games despite having given up 3-4 runs and sitting on 140 pitches. Maybe Morris just needed to pitch in the current era, where he would be taken out in the 7th on a pitch count and then replaced by specialized relievers. Meanwhile Blyleven, in 21 full seasons of starting made exactly TWO all-star games and received comparable Cy Young support 3 times. I’ll ask again; how can you be considered one of the best of all time if nobody who covered you day in and day out during your career thought you were even among the best of your day??
- Jorge Posada announces his retirement; the inevitable “Is he a Hall of Famer” articles start. Immediate gut reaction from me: yes he’s a HoFamer. Unlike some of his Yankees dynasty team members (Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte) Posada seems a bit more transcendent in terms of talent and legacy. A quick glance though at his career stats show some of the problems with his eventual candidacy. He’s a late bloomer; not playing a full-time season til he’s 25. However for the 10 seasons he had from 25 to 35 he was fantastic; 5 all-stars, 5 Silver Sluggers and two top-6 MVP votes. After he turned 35 though he struggled with health and had a relatively poor final season at the plate. He has no gold gloves and had a reputation for having a very weak throwing arm but had a 121 OPS+ for his career (a great offensive player for a catcher). His compareables in b-r are heady company (including Carlton Fisk and Gabby Hartnett). I guess we’ll see in 5 years’ time.
- Jan 9th 2012: the wait is over. Only Larkin elected, Morris and Bagwell vote totals rise but still not close.
- Spreadsheet of all published/known hall of fame votes, with links to explanations. Interesting to say the least; several blank ballots and several very odd ballots to say the least.
General Baseball News
- Buster Olney continues his rankings of the top 10s of baseball; this time with lineups. Predictably its very AL East heavy. Previously he had done rotations, bullpens, infields and outfields. Links to other lists available from this article (ESPN insider only; consider spending $2/month for it; its worth it).
- Buster, after finishing the above rankings, publishes his preliminary 2012 top 10 Power Rankings. Rays #1, Nationals essentially #11/”Best of the Rest.” Boy this team’s reputation has come a long ways in just a few short years.
- Jeff Passan’s A-to-Z discussion on Baseball this off season and in 2012. I link it since I like most everything Passan writes.
- Joe Torre joins an ownership group chasing the LA Dodgers … but not the one that Stan Kasten is heading. Bad move; I think Kasten’s a shoe-in to be Selig’s pick.
- This could have a bigger effect than the loss of Albert Pujols: St. Louis pitching coach Dave Duncan is taking a leave of absence from the team to care for his ailing wife. Duncan has been such a miracle worker for reclamation project starters over the past few years that its hard to imagine the Cardinals pitching staff not to take a dent.
- The Chicago Cubs franchise potentially takes another hit: Starlin Castro reportedly accused of sexual assault. Castro returned home for the off-season and isn’t in the country; could this incident prevent him from getting a work visa in 2012?
- Jonah Keri takes on one of my favorite topics; calling out Billy Beane and showing how he’s closer to being an incompetent GM than he is to his vaunted reputation as the game’s best GM.
- Great article on Baseball Prospectus about SLAP tears in baseball players (normally pitchers). The article is very heavy on medical jargon but talks about the different types of tears and surgical remedies. This is the injury that Chris Carpenter had and recovered from (though I’m pretty sure he ALSO had Tommy John surgery too).
- Nice book review for “A Unique Look at Big League Baseball.”
- 2012 AL rookie of the year favorite Matt Moore, profiled at seedlingstostars.com. This is part of a series of prospect reviews, counting down to #1 and Moore is ranked #4 … but the author immediately caveats it by saying that any of the top 4 could be #1. I talked about Moore after his playoff start on this site, coming away with a Wow factor that I havn’t had since Strasburg.
- Scout.com’s top 100 Prospect list for 2012. Bryce Harper #3 behind Moore and Mike Trout. Can’t argue there. Other Nats on the list include Anthony Rendon (#56). AJ Cole (#76) and Brad Peacock (#85) would have made us a bit more respectable pre-Gonzalez trade. Here’s hoping that the Nats “other” big prospects (Meyer and Purke in particular) turn in stellar 2012’s and beef up our presence on the national prospect scene again.
General News; other
- Article on 10 “trendy sports medicine” fixes. Including some exotic baseball remedies we’ve heard about recently.
I have a new rule: when this post hits 1500 words, I’ll publish it no matter what the date.
Nationals In General
- Re-signing Ryan Zimmerman thoughts, since it keeps coming up thanks to the Pujols signing, Jim Bowden comments and Natmosphere bloggers bringing it up. After an injury-plagued year (and really, the 3rd such injury-marred year he’s had out of 6 full pro seasons, including 2 surgeries and one torn labrum he just rehabbed but which cost him 1/3 of a season), the team rightfully should be concerned about giving him a Troy Tulowitzki like deal, guaranteeing money for 10 years. But on the flip side, ironically after such an injury year his value is down and the team probably can save some money by signing him longer term. The new CBA takes away a lot of the draft pick compensation we would expect by letting him go to Free Agency, and trading him in the middle of 2013, while we’re probably in the middle of a pennant race, would be a non-starter.
- Speaking of Zimmerman, everyone’s favorite ex-Nats GM Jim Bowden posts some potential Hanley Ramirez trade ideas, you know, since he’s a petulant superstar already prone to being a clubhouse cancer and now in the position of having to move to 3B, probably without being told ahead of time that the team was nearing a deal with Jose Reyes. His #1 option: Ramirez for Zimmerman straight up. Bowden is convinced the Nats, by virtue of not having addressed Zimmerman’s contract status, are going to let him walk at the end of 2013. Its not the first time he’s brought it up. Hey Jim; stop trying to MAKE the news and just report on it.
- Some cool blog posts from Nats minor leaguer Ryan Tatusko, on the differences between learning in Pro ball versus College, and another posting just before it on the “art of throwing a ball.”
- Trade announced Friday 12/9/11: Collin Balester to the Tigers for rhp Ryan Perry. A good move for both sides: the Nats were likely to have to waive Balester at the end of spring training by virtue of his lack of options, so we get something for nothing. Perry has an option left and, while his 2011 numbers were pretty bad, he does have one more option remaining so the team can use spring training as a tryout of sorts. Perry could be a natural replacement for Todd Coffey, and is a good move since clearly Balester’s value to the team has ceased and we still need a couple of bullpen arms. Great analysis of the trade here from Masn’s new beat reporter Pete Kerzel. Great human-interest angle here from Amanda Comak: Balester’s wife is from Detroit so the family is ecstatic that he’s playing so close now.
- Byron Kerr, whose writing I normally like, wrote a laughably pro-team article about some of our marginal relievers. The quotes about Doug Slaten are especially ridiculous, quoting our new bench coach Randy Knorr as saying that Slaten is “one of the three best left-handed relievers in the National League.” That is so ridiculous that I had to comment on the article and call Kerr’s reporting into question.
- Henry Rodriguez’s change-up was listed among the “more interesting” pitches to talk about in baseball by Sam Miller from Baseball Prospectus. Also thrown in there is Roy Halladay’s cutter, Mariano Rivera’s cutter, Javier Lopez’s drop-down side-arm fastball and Brad Lidge’s slider. All of these pitches are analyzed in various statistical measures.
- The Non-tender deadline came and went, and the team acted as I predicted here. They protected all their arbitration-eligible guys outside of Doug Slaten. Here’s a link to MLBtraderumors non-tender tracker for all 30 teams, and there are definitely some interesting names out there now for the Nats, who definitely have some FA needs. Peter Moylan, Ryan Theriot, Joe Saunders, Andy Sonnanstine and a few others. BJ Upton was tendered, meaning we’re going to have to give up some prospects to get him. Mind you, some of these non-tenders are part of pre-arranged deals to come back to the club, but some are definitely the team cutting ties.
Free Agents/Player Transaction News
- Let the bidding begin! Yu Darvish officially posts, and as a side-effect makes his soon-to-be-ex-wife a multi-millionare. Good for him (and her). Mike Rizzo and the Nationals have definitely scouted the guy and are interested; how high will be willing to go on the posting fee to “win” the negotiations? Another thought: why wouldn’t we just blow out the posting fee, guarantee the win, then play uber-hardball with Darvish on a contract to make the entire package reasonable? If we can’t agree on terms, he goes back to Japan (where he clearly has nothing left to prove) but nobody else gets him? Sounds a little disingenuous but its a strategy. In any case, we’ll know the posting winner by Wednesday.
- How do the Tampa Bay Rays keep doing this? Phenom pitcher Matt Moore signed a 5yr/$14M contract that has club options that could max it out at 8yrs/$40M and buys out the first two free agency years. I wonder if, 4 years from now, we’ll be looking at this contract and absolutely shaking our heads in disbelief at how underpaid he is. Kinda like how we look at Evan Longoria’s contract and say the same thing.
- A good point about the Angels’ Pujols signing: they now have way too many guys who play first base and outfield. Morales, Trumbo, and Abreu seem to be first basemen only, and they still have the outfield quartet of Wells, Hunter, Bourjos and uber prospect Mike Trout. They fixed some catcher depth issues, they don’t need starting pitching. I wonder what the Nats could do to take some of these hitters off their hands?
- Arizona lands one of the Oakland starters Trevor Cahill in trade. Arizona bolsters their division-winning rotation, now looking at Kennedy, Hudson, Cahill, Saunders and Collmenter. Not bad. Most pundits are calling the trade a steal for Arizona, who gave up a 1st rounder but only two other mediocre prospects.
- Turns out the Nats were off by a significant amount on Mark Buehrle. We offered 3yrs/$39M versus the 4yrs/$58M he got from Miami. No wonder he took their deal. Too bad; he would have been a good addition. Not the addition I would have gone after, but still a solid #3 starter for the next few years.
- All those people who write “Pujols should have stayed” or “Pujols has tarnished his legacy” articles should probably zip it. As is depicted here, the Angels clearly showed they wanted Albert for the long term, including the personal services contract. Not to mention their offer beat St. Louis’ by $40M. You just cannot leave $40M on the table. A few million over a number of years, sure. $40M? No way. Oh, and for everyone who says “well, Stan Musial stayed with St. Louis his whole career,” I will counter with this: “Musial had a reserve clause, Pujols does not. If icons from the pre 1970s had free agency as an option to earn more money and move to better situations, you’d be a fool to think that they wouldn’t have used that system.”
- Would you take a flier on AJ Burnett? The Yankees apparently are willing to eat $8M of the $33M owed to him over the next two years. If he moved from the AL East to the NL East, he’d probably see a full point reduction in his ERA. But a quick look at his career stats lends me to believe that he’s barely above mediocre but paid like a super-star. Burnett’s career ERA+ is now 105. Our own John Lannan’s? 103.
General Baseball News
- Since I’m a bay-area native, I’m always interested in reading news blips about San Francisco and Oakland teams. Here’s Andrew Clem with a quick blog post with some interesting links to potential new stadium sites and designs. The big sticking point, obviously, is that the Giants claim San Jose as their territory. And its hard to argue with them; clearly the “bay area” of San Francisco is exactly the suburbs of San Francisco. Even though its roughly the same geographical distance from DC to Baltimore as it is from San Francisco to San Jose, there are three major highways to ease the traffic flow (as opposed to one between the two east coast cities) and people routinely make their way up and down the peninsula to commute. Thus, its going to be a very difficult sell for Oakland to move south, even if they stay across the bay in the Fremont area. I don’t know the solution; just that the A’s now reside in the same division as the 2-time defending AL champs AND the Angels with their newly minted $170M payroll. Ouch.
- Unbelievable: the reigning NL MVP Ryan Braun reportedly has tested positive for a synthetic testosterone and faces a 50-game ban. What an unexpected piece of news; one of the “new generation” of sluggers who wasn’t tainted at all by the shenanigans of the last 90s now has thrown us back into the same PED conversation we’ve been having for years. That being said, there is some hope in reading the linked article. Apparently he asked for a second test, and he was clean in the second test. There are “false positive” tests all the time. The case is under appeal but has leaked out (unfortunately for the slugger, who now faces the stigma of the positive test even if its a false positive).
- Boston announces that Daniel Bard will be moved to the starting rotation in 2012. Excellent move by Boston; if Bard is just a decent starter, he’s still far more valuable than as a reliever. Of course, this more or less guts the back end of their bullpen, so look for Boston to sign some of the reliever/closer talent still available on the FA market.
General News; other
- Not that you may care about the BCS and college football, but here’s a fantastic analysis of the BCS formulas and the flaws contained within them. It isn’t a bombshell article, but does show some troubling facts about a system that has built in flaws, with coaches voting on items that have a direct effect on their own teams’ successes.
Here’s a weekly wrap up of Nats-related news items, along with other general interest baseball articles, with my thoughts as appropriate. (Note: these news items are more or less chronological, with me going back and adding in clarifying links as needed. Hence the Ramos news is towards the bottom, having happened late in the Saturday-to-Friday blog post news cycle i’m using, despite clearly being the most important item to the team right now…)
- MLB’s Bill Ladson reports that the Nats have interest in Roy Oswalt, late of the Phillies. I don’t think its a serious interest frankly; yes Oswalt would be nice to have and would be a better member of the rotation than either Detwiler or Milone (your probable #5 starters right now), but I suspect that this is just Mike Rizzo claiming interest in every good FA. I’m sure if you asked Rizzo if he was interested in Pujols he’d say, “yes!” But its not worthy of an 800 word article.
- Nice start in the AFL from Sammy Solis on Friday 11/5/11: 9 K’s in 4 scoreless innings. He gave up 3 hits and 3 walks though, so not an entirely clean outing, but that many strikeouts against an AFL hitting all-star lineup is good. Also on the night, Matthew Purke had a 1-2-3 inning, progress considering what he’s done earlier in the AFL. Solis’ next start wasn’t as clean, 3 runs in 3 innings for the loss. We’ve all been cautioned not to read too much into any stat line coming out of the AFL; its the end of a long season, the pitchers are tired, the hitters are tired, its a hitters league in hitters ballparks, etc. So perhaps I’ll stop trying to analyze performances in Arizona. I’d like to see some progress, some decent scouting reports about Purke specifically, but Solis, who just finished a full season, probably isn’t a concern. Especially if, by previous accounts, he’s working on a new curve ball.
- For anyone who cares about our neighbor franchise in Baltimore, their GM search did not go very well. The lost out on their (presumed) top choice Jerry Dipoto to the Angels, then had their #2 choice Tony LaCava turn down the job. Why? According to Danny Knobler, owner Peter Angelos refused to clear out his cronies in the front office, so LaCava declined the job. Now we hear that the #3 candidate DeJon Watson has pulled out, seemingly because (according to allegations in this post) he was only being interviewed to satisfy minority-consideration requirements out of the front office. Wait, it gets better; Boston assistant Allen Baird declined to even interview for the job. Finally on 11/6, former Montreal and Boston GM Dan Duquette signed on for the job. Still, what a joke; at what point does Angelos look in the mirror, and look at the 15 years of destruction he’s done to what was once the best team and best franchise in the sport, and admit to himself he needs to change his ways? I don’t have a reference necessarily, but recall an article discussing this decline of the once proud Orioles as a classic case of successful business executive in one field (in Angelos’ case, law) obtaining a sports franchise and then immediately assuming (because of ego) that because he was successful in business, he will be successful in sports ownership. You see this clearly with Dan Snyder’s tenure of the similarly once-proud Redskins. How do the Orioles get out of this mess? Unfortunately, it may take the untimely death of Angelos to get some movement towards reality in the ownership group.
- Is it just me, or is the Oakland franchise heading for some dark days? Per Ken Rosenthal, they’re taking offers on nearly any player on the team, their entire OF and DH are free agents and not likely to be pursued, and they may look to actually pare salary from last year’s 21st ranked salary team. The A’s have a slew of younger arms that all put up good numbers (albeit in a pitcher’s ballpark), and could be entertaining phone calls on some of their arbitration-eligible starters. Perhaps the Nats, who have a history of trading with Billy Beane, could flip some prospects for someone like Trevor Cahill or Gio Gonzalez, both entering the first year of arbitration and sure be in the $3M range (Rosenthal’s article says Cahill is signed long-term, but its not in Cots). Or, they could pursue a non-guaranteed deal with Dallas Braden, who clearly will be non-tendered coming off major shoulder surgery but who could be the next Wang-like reclamation project. Lastly, Brandon McCarthy is a free agent, and pitched pretty well in 2011 when he wasn’t hurt. He could be another injury-reclamation, low-cost acquisition.
- Frank McCourt, as we all know by now, is selling the Los Angeles Dodgers. About time. But did you also know he’s selling the Los Angeles Marathon? Question: how do you “own” a marathon?
- Silver Sluggers announced on 11/2/11: No Nats mentioned, hardly a surprise. Michael Morse was never going to beat out the NL outfield trio of Kemp, Braun, and Upton, who may finish nearly 1-2-3 in MVP voting. No room in the NL outfield for Lance Berkman either.
- Thanks to Nats blogs District on Deck and NationalsProspects for pointing out BA’s published list of all 500-something Minor League Free Agents. There’s several very familiar names on the list (Garrett Mock, JD Martin, and Shairon Martis to start) and it could be interesting to see if these guys try their luck elsewhere. I’ll probably put together a re-cap of these FAs along with my commentary culled from my minor league review articles later on.
- My former teammate and GM/coordinator of the collegiate wood bat franchise Antonio Scott just got enough backing to enter his team into the Cal Ripken league for next season. His team, which generally tries to recruit from historically black colleges and also spends a great amount of time reaching back into the DC youth baseball community, will partner with Gallaudet University and play at their new facility. Great news for Antonio and for youth baseball in the District.
- Per Byron Kerr, Baseball America released top 10 prospects for NL East teams on 11/6. Here’s the BA link directly for the Nationals. The rankings show just how good BA thinks our 2011 draft was, and more or less mirrors the Fangraphs.com ranking that came out earlier this off-season. Here’s 2010’s rankings for comparison. There is some complaining in the Natmosphere about the over-ranking of our 2011 draft crop, but (as I pointed in in comments on other blogs) there’s little argument in ranking Rendon, Purke, Godwin and Meyer over the guys most likely ranked 11-15th in our system (guys like Hood, Kobernus, Marrero or Smoker).
- The next great hope from Cuba: Yoenis Cespedes. Wants $30M contract, projects as a center fielder (albeit with a poor arm) and a #5 power hitter. Of course, the Nats have their name listed as “interested.” One wonders if the Yuniesky Maya experiment will color their opinions of the next great Cuban question mark.
- I found a random blog related to Cuban baseball; here’s their reaction to Cespedes’ FA announcement. All I can say is, wow. Can’t say I’ve ever seen a blog post calling someone the “N-word” for pursuing a free agent contract.
- Awful news coming out late Wednesday: Wilson Ramos kidnapped in Venezuela. This is, as noted in Adam Kilgore’s article, a growing trend in certain South American countries. Lets hope its done for a quick buck and Ramos is returned unharmed. The call to return home in the off-season is large for latin american players; I wonder how much incidents like this (along with other well publicized incidents of late involving family members of other prominent baseball players, as well as numerous accounts from pro Soccer players and their families) will force teams to “strongly advise” against their players returning to latin america in the off season. Ryan Tatusko, Nats farm-hand and fellow Venezuela Winter League participant, blogged about his thoughts of the safety issues in the country.
- Rob Neyer scanned and published (with Bill James’ consent) the first set of Baseball Analyst articles edited and written by James back in the early 80s. You can save-as all the PDFs and cover art JPGs.
- Great, great Nationals Prospect chat by Aaron Fitt at Baseball America, in the wake of their top 10 for the system. Lots of interesting nuggets of opinion from Fitt. Unfortunately Baseball America is subscription only but its worth the $30/year for content like this (as is ESPN insider).
- Why are the Phillies getting ready to give Ryan Madson $40M+?? And why would the Nationals POSSIBLY be involved in the bidding for a $10M/year right-handed reliever when we already have that, in spades, at a fraction of the cost??! That would be a colossal waste of money. Closers are a colossal waste of money in general (google Joe Posnanski and the history of the save for his excellent article on how team’s save percentages are virtually identical through the years despite the rise of highly paid closers.
- My 2 cents on the entire Sandusky/Paterno/PSU mess: I couldn’t have said it better than Tom Boswell said it on the front page of the WP on 11/10. Paterno may not have done anything “illegal,” but he certainly did not use his best judgement throughout the years, allowing Sandusky to continue to be in the good graces of the program. And that is why Paterno doesn’t have a job any more (as opposed to being charged with a perjury felony like the administrators who lied to the Grand Jury). Just a sad event all around, for the victims, for Paterno (who found himself in an impossible situation) and for the Penn State students and alumni who are not exactly distinguishing themselves for not seeing what poor judgement was used by their icon throughout the years.