The Greatest Game

Friday, December 31, 2004


I have withstood the urge to do one of these things, but I am caving in now. Take a look at these three players and their (approximate) 3-year averages of their last 3 full seasons (two of them had injuries in the past 3 years, so, to make it easier on me, I took their last 3 full seasons). Their age for 2005 is in parentheses.

Player X (28)31103.365.520120
Player Y (29)36115.390.585148
Player Z (31)33120.381.557143

Well, of course you'd pick Player Y, but let's say he's off the market because he signed a (relatively) cheap last year with the Angels. Except for the 3 year age difference, you'd probably pick Player Z. More HR, RBI, higher OBA, SLG and OPS+ (a 23 point difference is pretty darn big). OK, how about if I told you that Player X's agent is asking for a $120M contract, while not much has been heard from Player Z because of an injury last season. Yes, except for an injury and several years, Magglio Ordonez (Z) has outperformed Carlos Beltran (Y) in just about every possible category (SB is the marked exception Magglio was a good base stealer before 2002 season).

So why on earth is Beltran worth so much more than Vlad was last year? Besides the fact that the Yankees are looking for a CF. There is none. He's not nearly as good as Vlad. And Magglio is only a hair beneath Vlad. Any team would be insane to sign Beltran to the kind of money that Boras is asking. And of course with 3 or 4 teams in the bidding, I don't doubt that the final number approaches the $120M that he's asking for.

The Yankees have recently cooled to Beltran, while the Mets have heated up their pursuit. The Cubs may also be in the running, and the Astros definately are. I say, as a Yankee fan, to let those teams bid for him. I have no doubt that Beltran will continue putting together very nice numbers. Will they be $17M worth for the next 7 seasons? I really don't think so. I dread going into the season with Bernie playing CF each and every day (I think he has a bit more bat left, but everyone knows his fielding blows big time at this point in his career). But I dread even more, the Yankees overpaying for another superstar, just because he's been hyped to kingdom-come. I want the Yankees to take a long hard look at Magglio. Put him through as many doctor's tests as need be to confirm that he'll fully recover. Maybe try and sign him to a smart contract. If he's going to be fully recovered, just sign the guy! He's played CF before, and played it pretty well. I'll bet he can be signed for $10M/yr, maybe a bit more with the rising cost of contracts this offseason. But he certainly can be signed for less money AND fewer years than Beltran.

There is one big problem, though. If I remember correctly, Boras is Ordonez's agent. That could definately throw a kink into the whole Yankees-signing-Ordonez scenario. Boras might not take kindly to the Yankees dropping out of the bidding for Beltran. Boras is probably waiting for Beltran to sign his huge contract and then he'll go to the teams that didn't sign him and say, "Hey, Ordonez is going to be 100% AND his numbers are comparable to Beltran's. PAY UP!" That's what I fear. He'd have the Yankees over a barrel, since Ordonez would be the very last good free agent out there. He would probably drive his price up toward $13M or $14M/yr. But even with that, I think I'd prefer Magglio, just as long as it's not longer than a 3 or 4 year deal.
# posted by shawn : 12/31/2004 01:58:00 PM -

Thursday, December 30, 2004

New Middle Infielders for the Cards 

Well, it looks like it's done. The Cards are signing Roberto Alomar to play 2B to finish their "retooled" infield. Earlier, they signed David Eckstein to play SS after Edgar Renteria signed with the Red Sox for a LOT of money. Let's take a look at what these guys did for their respective teams last year.

Out with the old
Renteria: OPS .728 (3-year OPS ~.800)
Womack: OPS .735 (3-year OPS ~.700)

In with the new
Eckstein: OPS .671 (3-year OPS ~.690)
Alomar: OPS .855 (110 AB) (3-year OPS ~.700)

Those 3 year OPSs are very rough estimates, and, remember, Alomar had significantly fewer ABs than the other 3 guys. Let's take a slightly different look at these players:

Renteria: 4yr/$40M
Womack: 2yr/$4M

Eckstein: 3yr/$10.35M
Alomar: 1yr/$0.5M

That's a BIG difference. So, for a big savings in $$$, the Cards are sacrificing a bit on the offense. And, from word on the grapevine, Alomar's back has been giving him some trouble in the Winter League, but assuming he passes the physical, he still hasn't played a full season in several years. Assuming he does, he'll be a good bargain for $500,000. Of course that's what we said about the D'Backs signing him last year, and they only got 110 AB out of him.

Let's take a look at fielding. Now, fielding is a rough stat to try and compare, as we all know. There are so many ratings in so many different places, but let's take a look at Rate2. The first number is career, the second number is for 2004.

Renteria: 97/92
Womack: 95/89

Eckstein: 100/99
Alomar: 101/90*

The Renteria numbers surprised me a bit. I knew he was overrated, but 97/92 is pretty bad, though not as bad as Womack's numbers, which were totally expected. Alomar has an asterik because he split his time between two teams, so I just estimated what his Rate2 was from the two numbers. He has clearly fallen on hard times - he's had a Rate2 below 100 in the past 3 seasons. Before that, he had 7 out of 8 seasons above 100. Overall, it looks like (again, assuming Alomar is healthy) the Cardinals picked up a little defense up the middle.

Include in all this, the pickup of Muldar from the A's, and the Cards have had a nice little offseason. The starting pitching isn't solid all the way to the #5, but I have confidence that they'll get it all ironed out by the start of the season. With their core of superstars, they filled in some of the other spots with cheap and/or decent players. Alomar may be a big bargain if he's healthy (big if), and Eckstein is one of those "spunky," "hard-working," "dirty-uniform" players that "everyone loves to have around." If Alomar gets injured, they can just stick Bo Hart or Hector Luna in and probably get decent enough production out of them.
# posted by shawn : 12/30/2004 07:33:00 PM -

Clemente Jr sending aid to tsunami victims. 

Apparently, Roberto Clemente Jr was going to reenact his father's aid flight to Nicaragua, when hearing about the tsunami, he diverted all the supplies and money he collected to Asia in support of the tsunami victims.

I didn't realize that he had a premonition of his fathers death before he boarded the plane, and he begged his father not to get on the plane.
"I carry the guilt to this day of not doing enough to stop him,'' Clemente Jr. said. "He said, 'Don't worry, I'll see you when I get back.'''
You can make donations in Clemente's name to: the International Disaster Fund, American Red Cross, P.O. Box 9021067, San Juan, PR 00902
# posted by shawn : 12/30/2004 07:02:00 PM -

Randy is a Yankee!!! 

It's official!!! According to Newsday:
"Sources told Newsday today that the Yankees have agreed to send Javier Vazquez, pitching prospect Brad Halsey and catching prospect Dioner Navarro, plus about $9 million in cash, to Arizona for Johnson."
We got to keep Duncan AND Melky, but we gave up our only catching prospect. Navarro probably wouldn't be ready this year, but Posada won't last forever. I'd be interested to see which catchers are going to be free agents over the next 2 or 3 years.
# posted by shawn : 12/30/2004 04:00:00 PM -

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Johnson almost a Yankee? Again? 

According to the Daily News, the Yankees and D'backs are, once again, close to making the Randy Trade.

"In one proposal, the Yanks were to trade Vazquez, Brad Halsey, Abel Gomez and Melky Cabrera (lower-level prospects) for Johnson and include about $12 million to make up some of the difference in money owed to the 41-year-old ace ($16 million this season) and Vazquez ($35.5 million over the next three years).

The other proposal involved the Yankees moving Vazquez and higher-rated prospects Dioner Navarro and Eric Duncan for Johnson, while throwing in significantly less money - around $5 million - to complete the transaction."

Of course, I'd much rather give up the lower level prospects and more cash, but to include Halsey in with the "lower level prospects" is wrong. According to scout.com, Duncan is the Yankees #1 prospect, but Melky Cabrera is their #2, and they are both lower level guys. Navarro is ranked #8, and Abel Gomez is #14. Gomez has "taken over the title of the best left handed pitching prospect in the Yankee farm system" according to scout.com, though it seems like he's still walking a guy ever other inning. If they keep Duncan, they need to move him to 2B (or even 1B) immediately. Barring ARod injury, he'll never play 3B for the Yankees. Since catching prospects seem to be pretty rare these days, I'd think that I'd rather give up Halsey and Melky, but I'm not too keen on either. Ah well, as long as Randy pitches us to a World Series, the D'Backs can have anyone they want.

- Addendum -
Newsday has a new version of the deal:
The Yankees and Diamondbacks were talking seriously yesterday about a trade that could send five-time Cy Young winner Randy Johnson to New York for pitcher Javier Vazquez, catching prospect Dioner Navarro, pitching prospect Brad Halsey and cash.
That's an interesting twist. We'd lost our catching prospect, but we'd be able to keep our top two prospects in Duncan and Melky. Of course, they are both in A ball, and we're trading away two AAA prospects. I'm dying to see what the final deal is.
# posted by shawn : 12/29/2004 08:58:00 AM -

Monday, December 27, 2004

No Milton! 

WHEW! The Yankees dodged a bullet - Eric Milton signed with the Reds today. It's a 3 year, $25.5 million deal. INSANE!!! Show me one thing in his past that makes ANYONE think he's worth half that much?

Career 4.76 ERA?
.258 BAA?
1.30 WHIP?
30 HR/200 IP?
4 career shut outs?
10 career complete games?

The only thing that I see that Milton can give any team, is the fact that, except for his one injury season in 2003, he "eats innings". Which translates to "he's a guy who can pitch 200 mediocre innings in a season and who deserves to be no more than a #4 starter".

Come ON people!!! It's not like the Reds are flush with cash and have $8M/yr to dump on a pitcher (like the Yanks and Sox do, but D'Backs don't but still do anyway). Who were the Reds bidding against? Did they bid for the other pitchers who signed previously?

I'm sorry, but this is just wrong. I can't wait for these signings (Milton, Ortiz, etc.) to backfire on their respective teams. Of course, that's when they'll come out and say how unfair the system is and how they can't possibly compete with teams like the Yanks and Sox. EARTH TO CRAPPY TEAMS: stop following the throw-obscene-amounts-of-money-at-anything-with-a-heartbeat strategy and go with the make-smart-signings-and-build-your-team-from-within strategy. A little thinking can go a long way.
# posted by shawn : 12/27/2004 03:39:00 PM -