Thursday, December 9, 2010

2010 Winter Meetings: Day Three Aftermath

After watching day three unfold at a snail's pace, the Red Sox delivered a minor shocker last night by announcing the signing of Carl Crawford for seven years at $142M. 

The timing and years of this deal are surprising. Many figured that Crawford wouldn't sign or be approached with a deal to his liking until after the meetings and with Jayson Werth signing a few days earlier for the same number years most figured Crawford would be a lock for eight to possibly ten years! 

With the Yankees locked in on acquiring Cliff Lee it seems as though Boston only had to compete with the Los Angeles Angels for Crawford's services and with the playing narrowed quite substantially, it makes sense that the Sox could acquire a player of this age and caliber and still ward off any further risk that could occur if this contract was extended to 2018 and beyond.


The Crawford signing was good news to the Lee camp since it made the Yankees blink as they've upped their offer to seven years for Cliff Lee.  It's probable that this deal could look like an anchor in a few seasons but on the bright side for us Yankee fans: signing Lee should allow us to keep Jesus Montero since our necessity to trade for a top-end starter seems to have gone down a bit. 

The status of Andy Pettite is still unknown and with the Sox adding another potent left-handed hitter to their mix makes the Yanks need Lee all the more.  Before the Crawford deal, the Yankees were standing firm on six years for Cliff Lee despite mentions of a "mystery" team contacted Lee's agent with a seven year offer.  During yesterday's proceedings, it was reported that GM Brian Cashman received a phone call from Pettite but no decision has been made about his return.  Even with Lee in the fold, Pettite would find room in the Yanks 2011 rotation but with a lot of money tied up to pitchers past '11 (assuming Lee signs), the Yankees will have to make some big decisions with what to do with their three pitching prospects (Dellin Betances, Manny Banuelos, and Andrew Brackman) since the the team is hoping that all three will be MLB ready by 2012.


Yesterday, some minor moves were made as the Mariners signed Jack Cust for one season.  The Royals grabbed Jeff Francoeur for a single season with a mutual option; both players figure to share platoon time with their respective teammates.

The Padres picked up a SS by trading for Jason Bartlett and sending over a few interesting relievers back to Tampa Bay in the process.  One of those relievers, Cesar Ramos did struggle a bit with command last season but he is effective in inducing groundballs and could be an upgrade over LOOGY incumbent Randy Choate


Later today, teams will partake in the annual Rule 5 draft; expect the occasional speedy outfielder along with the handful of left-handed bullpen arms to be coveted.  It will, however, be interesting to see if last season's analyst favorite, Aneury Rodriguez from the Rays, gets picked up.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

2010 Winter Meetings: Early Day Three notes

Judging by MLB Network's constant loop of yesterday's news, it's safe to assume that much hasn't occured since reports came out about a "mystery team" offering Cliff Lee seven years (I think I've watched the Kevin Towers interview four times now...)


Day Two Officialisms:

Ty Wigginton brings his shoddy glove and middling power to Colorado as their right-handed counterpart to Todd Helton at 1B for two years at $8M.  Looking over his 2010 stats, I'm a bit surprised that Wigginton logged in over 300 innings as a second baseman!  Obviously, he didn't do it well but I guess Brian Roberts injury last season put the O's into true desperation mode.

The Mets grabbed D.J. Carrasco for two years at a little over a million per.  I'm surprised the Dbacks didn't elect to try and bring DJ back since he was one of the few Dbacks not burned by the long ball.  He was eligible for arbitration this offseason and Dbacks GM, Kevin Towers, did admit to keeping Carrasco on their "radar screens" after he was released.  I'm guessing that the sudden rise in player salaries this winter may have put a wrench in their plans to re-sign him for a lower rate. 

Joel Sherman has reported via twitter that the Yankees have received the medical information on Russell Martin.  However, no deal has been reached but this should be interesting in terms of how the Yankees are looking towards assembling their team of catchers in 2011. The Red Sox are also interested in Martin's services as their catching situation may also get a bit crowded with Jarrod Saltalamacchia on the roster and the recent re-signing of Jason Varitek. The Mets have also shown considerable interest but that has cooled since they signed Ronny Paulino to one season.

The extent of Martin's late season hip injury will be examined.  If signed, Martin won't come at a bargain rate; the Dodgers did make an offer around $4+M with added incentives.  It's been reported that Martin wants at least $5.5M next season and if signed by the Yankees or Red Sox then decisions will have to be made regarding their catching depth since both Salty and the Yanks Francisco Cervelli project as the odd men out.

Trades talks are heating up for Zack Greinke, some sources are saying that Toronto is on his no-trade list but recent reports have come out that he would be willing to waive this clause to help KC get the best offer.  So far, their camp seems to be waiting on what Cliff Lee decides to do regarding the Rangers.


This morning it became official that Paul Konerko will stay with the White Sox when a deal engineered by Jerry Reinsdorf was reached at three years/$37M.  Watch as the Sox's current logjam at first basemen plays out next season, Dunn probably came to Chicago at least with an understanding that Konerko could return - both rated poor defensively last season and it will be interesting to see who gets the main share of DH-ing duty.

Based on how the market's been heading, I was surprised to see Carlos Pena settle for a one year deal at $10M.  Sure his production was down last season but in a market that gave Ty Wigginton two guaranteed years was this strategy worth it? Assuming he bounces back, he will have plenty of competition in the market next season as Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols (again, assuming he doesn't reach a longterm deal) as a 1B free agent and he will be 34 years old... yikes!

Again, it looks like those pesky Nationals are still running around with their parent's checkbook.  Recent reports have them courting Carl Pavano and looking into possibly trading for Zack Greinke or Matt Garza.  The former, I guess, seems reasonable.  Pavano won't break the bank since the going rate has been three years but looking at the Nationals interest in trading for either Garza or Greinke is confusing since it doesn't follow the logical path of a team still needing to build from within.  Many analysts agree that the Nationals should be serious contenders in the two or three seasons and a lot of that success will depend on how other prospects not named Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper develop.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

2010 Winter Meetings: Early Day Two Notes

The Nationals still seem intent on pursuing Cliff Lee and will need to overpay (again) to give this rumor any credence but it's very tough to see Lee going to a non-contender at this stage of his career.

It will be interesting to see how serious the Yankees become with news that Andy Pettite possibly retiring and with the Red Sox acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez.


The Prince Fielder trade rumors have seemingly fired up again; the latest has the Dodgers as being serious suitors for the big man and have initiated talks by offering RHP Jonathan Broxton and 1B James Loney along with a possible marginal prospect.

I did like the acquisition of Shaun Marcum to help stabilize their rotation next season for the cost of a top prospect seemingly blocked by a group of young and effective positional players.  For the Brewers to contend next season it's important that they add another pitcher in the backend who could be effective in eating up innings but if they trade Fielder then things could become tricky.  Last season, the Brewers saw a resurgance in players like Rickie Weeks and Corey Hart which was necessary in giving them a quality all-around offense.  It's become accepted that this will be Fielder's final season and with him not interested in signing a long-term deal until after the 2011 season, he becomes very diffiult to trade since he becomes nothing more than a one season rental.

I've always felt that the Brewers would be better served to keep Fielder as their cleanup hitter since no quality trade package could be expected.  If Fielder stays and the Brewers find a few suitable pitchers (so far, one has been acquired) then it would serve this team both competitively and financially to prepare themselves to go deep into next season's playoffs. If they flip Fielder for James Loney and Jonathan Broxton, obviously their offense should take a noticeable hit since having a powerful left-handed bat is vital since this team tends to lean a bit far to the right. 

Loney is a good linedrive hitter and is able to make consistent contact but his lack of power and average walk rate limits him.  At best he projects as a quality #2 or #6 hitter.

Broxton is coming off a disappointing season and the Dodgers do seem eager to unload him.  I think Broxton still has the stuff to close and would be a great addition on a number of teams but on the Brewers he would be more of a luxury than a necessity. Also, his status as a free agent after next season must be taken into account since he may not be too excited if expected to time share closing opportunites with John Axford

More notes on the way...

2010 Winter Meetings: Day One

Looking at a few transactions before the meetings officially began:

Red Sox traded RHP Casey Kelly, 1B Anthony Rizzo, OF Reymond Fuentes to the San Diego Padres for 1B Adrian Gonzalez.  The deal became finalized when Gonzalez agreed to an extension of seven years at $154M.  According to reports the contract is not set to kick in until the 2012 season.

Nationals signed Jayson Werth for seven years at $126M.  Obviously the Nationals were forced to overpay for Werth's services and the timing was also a shock since it

Cardinals sign 34 year old Lance Berkman for one season at $8M.  As it stands, Berkman will be patrolling LF and there will be questions as to how he will hold up defensively since he hasn't played the OF with any regularity since 2004.  I still think there may be more to this acquisition and it may not fully manifest itself until after the meetings have concluded.

The Yankees tie up two major responsibilities by signing both Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera

Other transactions that occurred as the meetings began:

RHP Aaron Harang and the Padres agreed to a one-year contract with a mutual option in 2012.  Looking at Harang's abilities he should find himself improving in the pitcher-friendly confines of Petco Park and at $4M next season, this could be a steal.

The Blue Jays traded RHP Shaun Marcum to the Brewers for 2B prospect Brett Lawrie. Looking at his Double-A stats, Lawrie has above average power for a middle infielder.  He will be set to start 2011 in the PCL and he could see his power numbers take another step forward but the Jays will be watching how other parts of his game develop including his plate discipline and defense.  On the Brewers side, Marcum should be a good addition to their rotation since pitching depth is a major necessity and his move to the NL Central should bump up his value considerably.  Marcum does have two more years left before he is eligible for free agency and will be heading for arbitration if a deal isn't reached for next season.

The Dbacks were active yesterday as they traded 3B Mark Reynolds to the Orioles for a couple of bullpen arms in Kam Mickolio and David Hernandez.  Both Mickolio and Hernandez pitch from the right side and are major upgrades to a team that had major bullpen issues in 2010.  In my SB Nation post, I did recommend Mickolio as a possible option the Dbacks should look into but I do feel the Dbacks did limit themselves in prematurely announcing their desire to trade Reynolds since I strongly feel the Dbacks sold low in this deal.  Obviously Reynolds has his issues with strikeouts but his age and reasonable contract combined with someone with above average power and adequate defense could make the O's the winner in this deal.  Last season Reynolds was crippled by a .193 batting average but his low BABIP does point to a probable bounce back up to his expected range around .250.

Later on the Dbacks announced they had come to an agreement with free agents Melvin Mora and J.J. Putz.  Mora will be 39 next season and looks like a minor stop-gap since the deal was for only one season at $2M. Mora doesn't have the power he once had but he will do his part to reduce the team's strikeouts but he was below average with the glove and I don't see any reason why this should reverse itself.  Putz is coming off his best season since 2007 and seems to be past the elbow issues that plauged him in '08 and '09.  The Dbacks signed him for two years at $10M with the intention that he will be the closer.