Monday, 31 October 2011

Jays exercise Edwin, decline Rauch. Sabathia re-ups with NYY

Cool.  Just what I wanted for my Halloween present.

I think this was a slam dunk in both directions.  Edwin secured this option with a really strong final four months of the season, while the only good thing Rauch did all year was have that funny blowup at the umpire on Canada Day weekend.

Edwin will enter the upcoming season (probably) as the everyday DH, and will hopefully continue to tear the cover off the ball the way he did from July onwards.  He was kind of close to becoming a type-B free agent, but was ultimately getting too many AB's as 1B/DH to obtain enough Elias ranking points or whatever.  Had he been a type-B, the Jays might have been more inclined to let Edwin go and test the free agent waters, with hopes of getting a draft pick back.

Rauch is coming off his worst season, putting up -0.6 fWAR, and a 4.85 ERA, outperforming his fip of 5+.  He was really terribad in pretty much all situations, but still, somehow, will be a type-B free agent.  I don't think there's any prayer that the Jays offer arbitration, nor would he decline it, unless there was an agreement in place before the season.  No team would have to surrender a draft pick to sign Rauch, so there's really not that much to lose for Rauch to agree to such a thing.  Well, a couple million bucks, but he didn't know that he was going to be awful coming in to this deal.  Rauch made $3.5MM this season, and would likely get a raise in arbitration-- a raise that he wouldn't get on the free agent market after dropping such a turd this year.

The Orioles met with Jays' assisstant manager Tony LaCava again today.  LaCava is a strong contender to become the O's next GM, which stinks for us, but is probably pretty good for him I guess.

The Elias Sports Bureau released their free agent rankings today.  Bluejays Kelly Johnson (type-A), Jose Molina, Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, and Shawn Camp (Type-B's) will all be worth draft picks if they're offered arbitration and decline, opting for free agency.

In New York, Via MLBTR, a bunch of people are reporting that CC Sabathia has agreed to an extension with the Yankees, rather than opting out of his deal.  This is a surprise to absolutely nobody.  The extension maintains Sabathia's remaining 4 years and $96MM, adding on a 1 year $25MM deal for 2016, and also gives him a $25MM option for 2017 that vests automatically if Sabathia doesn't finish the 2016 season on the DL with a left shoulder injury, or miss 45 days of the 2016 season.  So in total, the extension is 4 yrs $92MM that he was convinced to not opt out of, plus a 1y/$25MM, plus 1 vesting option at $25MM.  Sabathia will recieve a $5MM buyout if the option in 2017 doesn't vest.

CJ Wilson and Yu Darvish are now the best starters on the market.

The D-backs announced that they have declined their option on Aaron Hill, making him a free agent.  He put up an .878 OPS in Arizona over a small sample, so they could reasonably take him back.  The Jays could theoretically make him an offer if Kelly Johnson declines arbitration and becomes a free agent.

The Rays exercised their $7.5MM option on James Shields.  He'll still be trade bait, but they have him for another year and he'd obviously be a big help for the Rays.  Look for some James Shields trade rumors over the offseason.

Francisco Cordero had his $12MM option declined by the Reds today.  He'll be a free agent, and probably won't get an arbitration offer, which would nullify the compensation for the type-A reliever.  If he doesn't get an arbitration offer, look for the Jays to be interested.

Aaron Harang's $5MM option was declined by the Padres.  He's coming off a pretty good season, albeit pitching in San Diego.  I hope the Jays don't look in to signing him, because he's not that good, but he's a starter who can eat up some innings, so I wouldn't be surprised to hear something at some point this offseason about AA dilligencing.

The Pirates did something silly (in my opinion) and declined their option on Paul Maholm.  Apparently they didn't think a young lefty was tradeable in a weak market for starting pitching.

David Aardsma put up some strong numbers pitching in Seattle over the last two seasons, before missing all year this year for Tommy John surgery.  He has elected to become a free agent after being waived by the Mariners.  Reclamation project!

The White Sox are rumored to be trying to cut costs and rebuild some dignity, but apparently they're not trying very hard, as they've exercised their option on Jason Frasor.  I figure they'll opt for a trade instead of declining the option and offering arbitration hoping for draft picks.  Now they have an expensive reliever on their roster to help them win 75 games again.

Nowhere Plans

Hiya folks.  Just want to send along a quick message promoting a little project that we got goin' on.  Nowhere Plans is a blog run by some guy that I'm internet friends with, and some other guy that I've never even heard of, but that's past the point.  The real deal here is that they've seen this blog and they think that I can adequately contribute to theirs as well.  So that's cool.  I'll be sharing any random non-baseball nonsense that I can dream up over there every now and then, at least until they decide that there's too much swearing going on.

It's pretty football-heavy over the right now, but there's a lot of good stuff about music, sports, etc., and we're just getting started!  I'm sure most of the stuff I write about will be related in some way to the Simpsons, or maybe boobies or poopjokes, because really... what else do I know?  I'm sure that there will be the odd baseball related post when that time comes around again, so even if you don't like football, boobies, music and so on, there will still be something.  I'm told that there are Orioles and Phillies fans kicking around there, so we might get something fun going.

Tell your friends!  But don't stop coming to this site.  Remember why you're here.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

The Fantasy Drafter-- Junior Griffey edition

  •  Ability to begin the season in the thick of the playoff race, tied with 29 other teams.
  • Games take about 15-20 minutes to play.
  • If you want, you can make teams really deep, and set the league to only have 12 teams.
  • No simming.
  • Outfield too fucking small.  Leads to guys hitting liners to RF and getting thrown out on a 9-3 grounder.  You can't score from 2nd on a single to the outfield most of the time either.
  • Way too many infield singles on balls that barely get past the pitcher, since the pitcher goes for it rather than having the SS or 2B charge it.
  • Platoon splits don't matter.
  • Short bullpens, deep benches that don't ever get used, since platoon splits don't matter.
  • Old game, a lot of the names that I recognize as being good players weren't good yet when this game came out.  Avoid drafting Raul Ibanez, because he's probably the worst player in this game, despite hitting like 42 HR's the year after this came out.
I remember playing this game as a kid and going crazy with trades until I just had the best player at each position on my team, so if you want to turn trades off, go nuts.  You can basically add up the 5 stats (3 for pitchers) and trade that guy, plus two scrubs, for a guy who is 1 or 2 points higher than the original guy.  Then pick up two free agents, and repeat.  If you really want to, you can trade those two free agents for someone slightly better than either FA, and pick up another FA to trade him with. 

The draft order is entirely random as far as I can tell, but it might be rigged.  I wanted to see if it was random or not, so I went in and out of the draft quite a few times with different teams to test the system and try to get a top 5 pick so I could get Griffey, Walker or Bonds, but the best I came up with was 6th.  Got 14th and 30th 4 times each over about 20 tries.  I did choose the 30-team mode, and out of not-quite-randomness, chose the Royals.  I didn't want an NL team, because pitcher batting is stupid, but other than that, I didn't really care which team I used.  In hindsight, I kind of wish that I went with like 24 teams, because as you'll see, this draft is probably a little too deep, and we're using guys that nobody has ever heard of to fill out the bench and bullpens.  If you're less in to baseball than I am, I'd suggest knocking a few of the teams out of there, just so you're not spending multiple minutes per pick going through the attributes of each guy, trying to find the best possible fit for your 23rd pick since you've never heard of any of the remaining players.

Based on the way this game works, if you choose to play 12-team mode, you can really screw the system by taking the best hitter available almost all the time when drafting hitters, regardless of positions.  Let me explain: one team I had selected 4 guys listed as 1B's, each of whom making it in to my starting lineup.  Paul Molitor was chosen in like the 20th round, since everyone already have a 1B, and only 5 other teams needed an extra position player to use as a DH.  As result, I had Edgar Martinez at DH, Molitor at 1B, Jim Thome at 3B, and Darin Erstad in CF.  Defense hardly matters, as long as you can slot people in to a position that they are eligible for.

Another little quirk of the game is the relative uselessness of the speed category.  Since you can't really score from 2nd on a single, or go 1st-3rd on a single, or score from 2nd on a double.... speed doesn't matter a ton. Most of the defensive plays have little variation between player to player, especially since literally every player has a strong enough arm to throw a perfect frozen rope from the RF wall to 3B.  As result, we're drafting the best hitters, regardless of their other stats, and letting speed or defense ratings be a tie-breaker.  We're also not stealing bases unless we have a really fast guy and an exhausted pitcher on the mound, since stealing in video games has been historically impossible, and this one is no different.  I'll hit and run with 2 strikes sometimes, I guess.

In game 1 of a series, I'll take some pitches early in counts, especially against a good pitcher, with the goal of getting to the bullpen early.  Since there are only 5 guys in the bullpen, I want to either stretch out the starter to the point that he's tired (and tips his pitch location early), or get the relievers in the game.  This forces the bullpen to throw multiple innings, hopefully making them too tired to pitch in the next game.

Round 1- Pedro Martinez. SP
My strategy is basically to find the 2 best starting pitchers available, and then alternate hitters and pitchers over my next 8 picks (assuming I don't get Bonds/Walker/Griffey with my first pick), because starters get chewed up fast.  We're not going to worry about relievers and saves, because we all know how important those are.  I'll change that up if I see fit, but I want to build my team around starting pitching, since offense is pretty easy to come by, and even a bad team controlled by a human can get enough hits.  Martinez is the only 10-10-10 pitcher left at this point (Clemens is another, as is Randy Johnson, who were taken 2nd and 4th respectively).  Frank Thomas and Mike Piazza were available if I wanted to go with a position player, of which I would take Piazza due to position scarcity, and both have 10-10 (contact-power) hitting.

Round 2- Denny Neagle SP
I value speed and control over stamina for starters (and relievers, really), which gave a slight edge to Neagle over Pettitte, Hentgen, and Radke.

Round 3- Edgar Martinez 1B
Went with Eddie because he was one of the only 10-contact players remaining, and his power number is best.  The contact category may as well be the OBP stat in Moneyball.

Round 4- Pedro Astacio SP
Best pitcher remaining, but guys like Matt Morris and Chan Ho Park are there too.  There are a few position players that you could look in to taking with this pick if pitchers remain, but there weren't for me.

Round 5- Mike Stanley C
Paul Molitor remains on the board, and could be taken as a DH.  Kind of makes me regret taking Edgar so early if I could have just filled another position and taken Molitor now to play 1B, but if he's still here now, I'm going to try and wait another round or 4, since DH is so easy to fill.  Catcher is too tough to fill with someone decent.  Eddie Perez is another choice here, if you want to wait and grab someone later, letting Stanley get sniped.

Round 6- Ron Coomer 3B
There is no clear-cut best pitcher left available, but rather about 20 guys who are right around equally as good as each other, so I'm going to go with a position player.  I almost took Jason Giambi because he can play LF for some reason, but went with a 3B instead.

Round 7- Mark Clark
Who?  4th starter.

Round 8- Harold Baines.
Best hitter left, plays OF.

Round 9- Tony Fernandez 2b/ss
Good hitter, more importantly though, he plays both 2B and SS, so we can have a better selection later whenever we try to fill our infield out later.

Round 10- Dave Burba
That finishes our starters.  We should have a decent advantage there.  We can't draft anymore starters, so it's now position players and relievers... so position players.  We'll probably fill up our bullpen before we fill the bench, since we're going to use the bench practically never.

Round 11- Julio Franco.
The only 8 contact hitter I could find with any other decent attributes, and he has 2B eligibility, despite being listed as a 1B.  Cool.  Moves Fernandez to SS.

Round 12- Carl Everett LF

Round 13/14- Turk Wendell RP, Mark Leiter, RP
There's like nothing left for hitters, and three rounds from now, there will be equally nothing.  May as well grab a coupla pitchers.  If Arthur Rhodes or Antonio Osuna are left hanging around, they're two of the better non-closers in the game.  Rhodes went right after Burba in r-10, Osuna got sniped right at the end of r-12, so I went with Wendell.  These two will be our best relievers, and will be used in the highest leverage spots.

Round 15- Chili Davis, DH.
He's a RF, but I already have one.  Best hitter remaining though.  I still need a CF, but there ain't none.

Round 16- Ben Grieve, CF.
Cool.  He was actually the Rookie of the Year the year before this game came out.

Round 17- Chuck McElroy
We're building the rest of the bullpen first, then the bench.  There are a couple of guys you could go with here (Jose Lima, for example), but I dunno... Chucky seems good.  

Round 18- Danny Darwin
 Stamina guy.  Will be used solely in low leverage spots, or extra innings when I don't have pitchers left. Just for those games where I'm getting stomped and don't want to use my bullpen up.  Most relievers can only throw an inning before getting tired, and if you go any more than that with them, they can't pitch the next day, so if I can find a good stamina guy, I'll use him in a blowout game to get a couple of innings out of him and save the rest of my unnecessarily short bullpen.  His other attributes aren't great, but Wendell and Leiter are going to be getting most of my relief innings anyway, so this is no crime.

Round 19- Matt Mantei
I don't remember Mantei throwing a knuckleball in real life, but apparently he has one in this game, and that is the sole reason we're drafting him.

Fill in the bench
Round 20- Jeff Frye
Round 21-Brent Mayne
Round 22- Ernie Young
Round 23- John Cangelosi, I guess
Round 24- Norberto Martin
Round 25-Dave Hansen

Cool story.  This was exhausting, by the way.   Those last 4 or 5 guys really suck, and should only ever be used if you're stuck with an injury.  Frye was the best hitter left, and Mayne is the backup catcher.  I think Ernie Young is fast, but I forget now and don't care to look it up.

I just got finished playing a quickie pennant run in a 12-team league, where I went something like 25-2 in the season, then swept the first round of the playoffs, only to get practically no-hit 4 games in a row to lose the WS against a team who had really good pitching.  If you play a 12-teamer, the pitching is going to be tricky, since offensive rosters are so deep.  I'd suggest knocking a couple teams out for maximum fun, and to get some decent guys in your bullpen and bench, unless you have a memory like I do, and can remember who all the best players are in this game, despite not having played it for 12 years or so.

Offseason Boredom Crushers

So baseball is over.  For those of you people, I'll call you "Normies," who have jobs or families or go to school, or just have anything productive going on in your days, you'll probably just go ahead and do as you typically would, focusing on work, or your kids, or hockey perhaps, or whatever other little projects that you have going for yourselves.  And I congratulate you.

For me though, this offseason is going to be made up mostly of playing poker and marathoning tv shows that I've yet to complete.  To complement that, one of the things I really love about baseball is looking around at the free agent and trade markets and building teams in my mind, or critiquing the moves that GM's make for their teams.

The main problem with having so much fun with that aspect of baseball is that there's so much downtime.  A lot of the offseason is just rumor-mongering and arbitration speculation, and a lot of the free agent signings are pretty minor, like finding out which bench Willy Bloomquist is going to sit on next season.

Well, for those of you who are like me, and have time on their hands, here's what I suggest:  go downstairs, reach in to that old storage closet thingy, and dust off the N64.  Hook that shit up to your flatscreen, and giggle at how terrible the graphics look on a new-ish tv, and then stick in the third greatest video game of all time-- Major League Baseball featuring Ken Griffey Jr.

That's right folks, we're going to spend this winter fantasy drafting our boredom away.  I'll be going through all sorts of games, mostly related to systems that I have access to.  Games include both of the Ken Griffey games, as well as one of the All-star Baseball's for N64, MLB The Show '11 for PS3, MVP 2005 for XBOX, and anything else that I might come across during the winter months, especially if I can find something for the PC.  There are obviously some petty differences between each game, such as budgets and salaries (the N64 games don't have those), ranking systems (ASB uses a letter grade system, Griffey uses a 1-10 scale on multiple stats), and the ever important Dynasty factor, where we need to draft our team not only to win, but to sustain success over multiple seasons.  The easiest dynasties are the MVP ones, especially now that we know the future and can trade for Chase Utley and Joe Mauer with our superior knowledge of the future.

First in line will be the non-Slugfest version of Griffey for 64, mostly because I just did a fantasy draft in The Show for PS3 yesterday (Wednesday) when game 6 of the World Series was postponed and I was jonesing for something baseball related.  Having already done a fantasy draft, I don't remember who I took in what order, plus I made a trade or two when Buster Posey broke his foot (weird, huh?).

I'll stick this to the top of the main page, and throw on links for each game when I finish them.

Major League Baseball featuring Ken Griffey Jr. for N64.  If you don't have an N64, or that game, check out and download the Project64 (PJ64) emulator.  It's not quite the same, but it's still cool.

All-star Baseball 2001 for N64.  I'm pretty sure the Griffey game is from 98, and this one was released in 2000, so there will be some slight differences in the quality of players, a few more recognizable names.

MLB '11 The Show.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Game 6 of the world series

Yep.  Dumpster fire.  Congrats to the Texas Rangers on winning the World Series.  They might very well win another one next year, because they're going to be a son-of-a-bitch-bastard of a team again.  They'll probably lose CJ Wilson, and will need a starter, unless they want Neftali Feliz to start, which is a distinct possibility.  They've gone ahead proven old people around the world wrong, by winning a World Series without having amazing pitching; they had a bunch of 2's and 3's in their rotation, and won this thing by being really good offensively.  Wilson was pretty much an ace this season, but stunk the entire playoffs.

Derek Holland and Mike Napoli are both superstars now, like it or not.  Ian Kinsler is still a superstar, and Adrian Beltre is really underrated.  Josh Hamilton hadn't homered in 82 AB's, the longest stretch of his career.  Pretty shitty timing, man. Of course, I'm being sarcastic.

I have a hard time believing that Jon Jay, much less Skip Schumaker, are better options that Colby Rasmus.  Both Jay and Schumaker stunk, and there are so many other ways to go out and acquire bullpen help.

Nelson Cruz was playing too shallow.  He should be playing about 3 paces from the warning track with the tying run on first.  You can not let a ball get over your head.  I realize that that ball hit the wall, but if he's playing deeper (i.e. where he should have been), he's not backtracking when that ball gets to him, but rather, gets back, plants himself, and catches the ball to win the World Series.  This way was funner though.

Tony La Russa is terrible.  Congrats on overusing your bench so badly that Kyle Lohse is your best option to pinch hit.  Retire.  Texas not getting out of that inning giving up fewer than 2 runs, with the pitcher batting third, is a travesty.  Lance Berkman having a good game tonight batting in the 4-hole instead of the 5-hole is going to be called a "great piece of managerial magic from a legendary baseball man, who just continues to akljdshflakjhdsp;afadofn;akjdfbal;dfjab;dfbja;dsjfh ;akjbdsf;kjahdskfjal;ksdjfhlakjhdsfljhasdlkjfhalksdjhflahvsdbiufaowueib aih cabakjs db[auc]jba[djbA[UFVAC" instead of what it actually was, which is pretty much a random happenstance move.  Holliday could have just as easily gone 3 for 5 with the bases empty because Berkman and Pujols both went 0-fer all night long.

Ron Washington tried just as hard.  If you're going to walk Pujols to face Berkman, giving up the platoon advantage, bring in Mike Gonzalez to turn Berkman to his bad side, or walk Berkman too and face Allen Craig with Feldman.  Either that, or don't just give people fucking bases for free.

I started this post in the 9th inning, and then stopped it when the Cards tied.  I started it again when Hamilton hit the homerun.  I then wrote this paragraph in the bottom of the 10th.  I've resorted to editing other things that I have written here so far, or just making stray observations until Texas finally finishes this off.

The 6-4 putout at 1st in the 10th inning blew my mind.

A girl on my girlfriends' facebook set her status as "Oliver for the Cardinals in 3 outs".  I've never mixed words about my opinion concerning girls' proclivity to pretend that they like sports when it comes to playoffs. This is why.

What the fuck?

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Tradeables-- The Toronto Blue Jays edition

Alright friends, we've looked at who the Jays could possibly look in to acquiring, both from the NL, and from the AL, so now we've got to look at who the Jays could theoretically use in a trade.  In hindsight, I'd have written this one before the other two, but there's not really a whole lot we can do about that now, huh?

Anyway, the Jays are looking to upgrade their rotation, they'll probably need a bit of bullpen help, they might need a 2B depending on what goes down with Kelly Johnson, and they would probably like to upgrade to an elite 1B.  They seem pretty set in the OF, SS, 3B, and C positions.  They deal from a position of strength at the prospect and cash levels, but also have some available MLB-level talent in the form of young relievers, outfielders, and 1B/DH.

I'd like to preface this by saying that, in my mind, there are literally 0 players that I would call untouchable, and would like to think that AA will have the same philosophy.  There are obviously some guys who you probably shouldn't trade (Bautista, Romero), but if Tampa Bay called us up and said "Hey, we'd like to offer you Evan Longoria and James Shields for Jose Bautista" I'd jump right on that, despite being all set at 3B. [Sidenote-- If any of you guys wouldn't take that deal, you're retarded.]  Basically what I'm trying to get across here is the fact that, while some people have really high value right now, nobody should be untouchable if the right deal presents itself.  The return might need to be astronomical, but if given a chance to improve the team, you should take it; I think AA holds that same philosophy.  If you can remember the Justin Upton rumors from this past winter, we could really just go ahead and replace his name with Bautista's, and there you go (Bau is way more expensive and is 30 years old, but has been the best hitter in baseball two years in a row, as opposed to cheap, but contractually extended, 24 year old Justin Upton, who probably isn't in his prime yet, but has the potential to be the best player in baseball, so there is a difference, but you get the point).

The Unlikelies
The above talk is really just conjecture. I don't think anybody is going to offer enough for AA to trade Bautista at this point, especially when the Jays are inching their way towards contention.  The same can be said for Young Richard Swaggerman, known otherwise as Ricky Romero.  If there is any truly untouchable member of this team, it is probably Brett Lawrie.

AA wants starting pitching-- a front-end starter, which almost describes Brandon Morrow.  While he has yet to reach that unharvested potential that so many have seen in him, if he were to be traded again, it probably won't be for a little while, since his value is so much lower than it could be at the drop of a hat if Morrow just figures it out overnight.  If Morrow were moved, it would probably be part of a package to land a top-10 starter, which I don't see on the trade market.

Colby Rasmus is staying, probably for a minimum of 3 years.  If Anthony Gose is going to be the superstar that many scouts believe him to be, he's still probably 2 years away from being in the lineup everyday, and if that's the case, Rasmus isn't even an auto-trade.  Bautista will probably be out of RF by then, and Rasmus would probably make a better RF than Bautista, Snider, Thames, or practically anybody else currently in the Jays system, assuming Gose takes CF.

Yunel Escobar just signed a team-friendly extension, which doesn't necessarily preclude him from being traded, but Adeiny Hechavarria projects to be an all-glove SS who bats 8th or worse for his whole career, and isn't ready to be an everyday MLB player yet, so there's nobody who could step in to fill the void Escobar would leave.  If it came down to Escobar being a necessary piece to obtain Joey Votto, I think AA would pull the trigger.

JP Arencibia is pretty unlikely to move, but as a 24 year old catcher, despite hitting something like .212 this season, he'd be worth a lot in a trade. Similar to Escobar, there's nobody ready to fill in the void that he would leave.  Travis d'Arnaud and Carlos Perez are both getting close, but probably still need more time.  I actually think it's likely that JP gets traded at some point within 2 years from today to make room for d'Arnaud and/or Perez, but until they're ready, JP probably stays put.  Again, if he were the lynchpin in a trade for an elite SP or 1B, I think the Jays would do it.  I don't doubt that he could move to 1B at some point in the future in order to make room for d'Arnaud or Perez.

Guys like Kyle Drabek and Travis Snider probably aren't going anywhere either.  Both are coming off abysmal seasons, and are at their absolute lowest values.  They'll be given chances to get back to where the organization thinks they should be, and would probably only be moved for guys of similar hype, like Dom Brown, for example.  I think we all know that such a scenario is unlikely.  Besides, both are like 24 years old.

The Possibles
I think Cot's baseball contracts is an incredibly invaluable site, especially for this kind of post, and I must have referenced it a thousand times when writing this series.  All the contract information that I use will come from their Blue Jays page.

The Jays do have some expendable pieces at the MLB level that they could move and still field pretty much the same lineup, or at least one that is similarly effective.  Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion are the two guys who are probably the most likely to be moved, especially to make room for the elite 1B that the Jays are searching for.  They're both power bats who, at the moment, are taking up the DH and 1B spots-- spots that might be needed if the Jays want to have guys like Snider, Thames, or Loewen in the lineup without taking AB's away from Bautista and Rasmus.

When healthy, Lind might very well be that elite 1B the Jays are looking for, as he referenced in a stellar 6 week stretch before the all-star break this year, or in his entire 2009 season.  The knocks against him include the fact that he doesn't walk, and his defence isn't incredible, but he's only played about 3/4 of a season at 1B, so we can give him a break.  He signed a very team friendly contract before the 2010 season, covering his 3 arbitration years, and giving the Jays 3 fairly cheap team options.  He was hampered by some injuries over the second half of the year, but when healthy, he proved that he can hit.

Edwin Encarnacion was the Jays best hitter over the second half of the season, and is a virtual lock to have his $3.5MM player option exercised.  Being a free agent after the 2012 season, he doesn't have a ton of trade value, especially after being DFA'ed, non-tendered, released, and released again, and then sucking for the first half of a season all within a 6-month period.

I feel like the return for either player in a trade would probably pretty low at the moment, because neither has multiple consecutive seasons of established success under their belts, but if the Jays want an established 1B, they won't have much choice unless they want to platoon the DH spot.

Eric Thames took over for Travis Snider when Snider sucked last season, and established that he could handle the duties of a hitter in the MLB.  Thames' bat speed is pretty good, but beyond that, he's still pretty raw, and doesn't really bring a ton to the table besides being a pretty good athlete.  His defense is terrible, and he hardly walks, which makes practically everybody think that he's going to be a career 4th outfielder.  Oakland is a team that could use an outfielder (Willingham, Crisp, Dejesus and Matsui are all free agents), especially a young one with some pop, who could play LF in their tiny little weeny ballpark.  Who knows, Thames might learn to take some walks someday and become something useful.  They're also in the market for a 1B upgrade over Daric Barton, and apparently saw something in Edwin Encarnacion once.  And they've got pitching!

Rajai Davis is fast, and can hit lefty pitching.  What more do you need?

Mark Teahen costs $5MM and sucks.

Mike Mccoy doesn't really offer a ton, but he walks like it's his job, which it probably is, and plays defense respectably well.  He defines replacement level player, but I can see someone asking for him in a package deal for some depth, pinch running, 13th bat, etc.

As we all know, relievers aren't actually worth shit, since there are so many of them out there.  Janssen, Perez, Carreno, Cecil (if he's not in the rotation), Mcgowan (if he's not in the rotation), Litsch, Villanueva, Chad Beck, Danny Farquhar, Alan Farina, Brad Mills, Jesse Carlson, Chad Gaudin, and the newly claimed Jesse Chavez and Kyle Davies could all legitimately end up in the bullpen this year, but if the Colby Rasmus trade taught us anything, it's that none of those guys should be untouchable by any means.  I count 15 guys in that group (2 of which could be starters), and of the guys who aren't locks to be on the team, some are out of options, and others just probably don't have a future on this team.  That doesn't count free agents-to-be Shaun Camp, Frank Francisco and Jon Rauch, who could all conceivably be brought back as well, if for no other reason than to obtain draft picks next year (Frank was actually pretty nails in the second half last year).  There are usually only 7 or 8 spots available in the bullpen, and I'm not sure guys like Perez and Litsch are going to be sent down just because they still have options left on their contracts if they're among the 7 best pitchers in that group.  I'm sure Beck and Fark could meet the "still-have-options" fate, since they're still quite young, and guys like Chavez, Gaudin and Davies would be DFA'ed or outrighted like it was nothing if they don't do anything in the spring, but if AA wants to bring in any relievers through free agency, that's one less spot for some of these guys above, guys who could be useful on another team somewhere.  Joe Nathan is now a free agent after having his club option declined by the Twins, so he'll join guys like Matt Capps, Jonathan Papelbon, Francisco Cordero, Juan Cruz, Todd Coffey, Mike Gonzalez, and more.

The Jays' system is pretty deep; probably the best or 2nd best farm in baseball, now that KC has brought some guys up to the bigs (TB makes that challenge).  I can see them moving Adeiny Hechavarria if they don't think he's going to pan out, which all the minor league experts that I follow on twitter claim is likely to be the case.  As a high-ish profile international signing, his value could probably be misrepresented a little bit, and his little stint in AAA during the last month of the season where he OPS'ed 350 points above his AA numbers could skew other team's perception of him even more (.235/.275/.347 in AA over 111 games, .389/.431/.537 over 25 games in AAA).  The only problem I can see here is that if anything were to happen to Yunel Escobar where he had to miss significant time, the fill-in would probably be Hechavarria.  The Jays just don't really have the depth on the middle-infield that they do elsewhere.  I mean they signed Chris Woodward for fuck sakes.  Fucks sake.  Fucks sakes.  Fuck's sake.  Is fuck a person?  And we're doing this for his sake?  Or is this for all the fucks in the world?  Moving on.

Adam Loewen looks like he could possibly be able to turn in to something useful based on his AAA numbers and his cup of coffee with the Jays at the end of this season.  I'm sure Thames projects to be better (and is younger), but there might be a bit of value in Loewen if he can continue to develop.  The problem is that he'll be 28 at the start of the season (peak age for hitters is between 26-28), he is out of options, and doesn't really have any place to play in Toronto, so he might end up being exposed to waivers as a AAA demotee, traded for very little, or just be a bench player that will be used instead of Mark Teahen.  I really hope the Jays don't keep Teahen around just to sit him on the bench if they plan on sending Loewen back to AAA and risk losing him to a waiver claim just because of the pricetag on Teahen.

The Jays also have Darin Mastroianni, and Moises Sierra in the minors as outfielders who will probably face the same fate as Eric Thames or Loewen.  Both should be MLB-ready by the 2013 season at the latest (barring injury), but neither should get significant reps over Gose, Rasmus, Snider, Bautista, or Thames if they're all still around.  2009 draft pick Jake Marisnick, a highly regarded prospect, could be ready by then as well.

Pitching is the real wild card.  AA's gone crazy drafting highschool pitchers over the last couple of years, and I'm sure he'll be really hesitant to move any of it without getting a prize in return.  The MLB rotation looks like it will be made up of Romero-Morrow-Alvarez, with the last two spots being taken up by any combo of Cecil, Mcgowan, Villanueva, Drabek, a free agent or trade acquisition, or longshots Deck Mcguire, Nestor Molina, Chad Jenkins, or Drew Hutchison (we're getting in to the realm of unlikelihood with those last couple of guys-- Hutch is only 20, Mcguire is 22).  There is definitely room to add another arm to the rotation if the Jays want this season to be a competitive one.  There are too many question marks in the back end of that rotation to let the Jays contend, especially in the AL East.

The Jays could easily just hog all those prospect starters for themselves the way the Rays do without upsetting anybody, and for the most part, they will.  Beyond all those guys mentioned above, we've got guys like Griffin Murphy, Noah Syndergaard, Daniel Norris, Justin Nicolino, Asher Wojciechowski, Aaron Sanchez and more kicking around, still a few years away from the show.  Now, I'm not going to go ahead and say that all of these guys are future major leaguers, because that's not the way baseball works.  Some guys, no matter where they're drafted, and no matter what they do in the minors, don't make it as major league pitchers.  Having said that, AA's plan is to just go ahead and stockpile as many high-upside arms as possible, which is what a lot of the aforementioned names are.  That means that any of these guys can be traded as they approach the bigs, without risking any depletion of the farm system, or the future.

The same can be said for any prospect in the system, not just pitchers.  Anthopoulos' plan when he took over from JP Ricciardi was for this team to be contending in 2012 and onward.  If he can secure another pitcher to give some extra stability to this rotation, this team can probably make that goal a success, otherwise, there will need to be a lot of improvements from guys that are already in the organization.  The fact that the Jays have so many high-ceiling guys inching their way closer to the major-league team every year can only be a good sign.  If nothing else, having more than 25 guys who are good enough to be on the 25-man roster should make this in entertaining offseason full of trades and extensions and shit.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011


I promised myself that I wasn't going to let this turn in to a blog that would update everytime those idiot self-absorbed Red Sox did or said anything, and I feel like I've kept my word for the most part.  Today, however, I'm actually bringing two pieces of Red Sox news.

The first of which involves the Jays' decision to alter their policy about allowing any of their personnel to seek jobs with other organizations, namely John Farrell and the Red Sox managerial vacancy.  Per the press release on the team's website this afternoon:
Due to the distraction caused by media speculation regarding our employee permission policy, the Toronto Blue Jays have amended their policy and will not grant permission for lateral moves. – Paul Beeston, President & CEO & Alex Anthopoulos, Senior V.P. Baseball Operations and General Manager.

 Or in other words, the Red Sox are a bunch of self-absorbed, know-nothing know-it-alls who are annoying the shit out of us, and you're not going to get our manager, despite the fact that we poached your manager-in-training right around this time last year.  Snooze, you lose.

Secondly, on a more somber note, John Lackey is going to miss the entire 2012 season with bad at baseball syndrome Tommy John Surgery.  Not only does this mean that the Jays won't get to tee off on Lackey everytime he "pitches" against them, but this could also put Boston in to the market for another starting pitcher, if they weren't already.  Roy Oswalt is now a free agent (more on that later), and CJ Wilson, CC Sabathia, and Yu Darvish are all going to be available, though some more than others.  I'm not sure the Red Sox will be in on Darvish, thanks to the big Dice-K fiasco (speaking of whom, Dice-K might just take over Lackey's spot in the rotation to settle everything), but this will probably get them more interested in him.

Related, Lackey has a clause in his contract that gives the Red Sox a vesting option for 2015 at league minimum salary if he misses significant time due to elbow injury from 2010-2014, which changes the contract from 5/82.5MM to 6/83MM, which luxury tax implications if I'm not mistaken.

Elsewhere, Rajai Davis had a kind of historic season, according to people at rotographs.  I'm not a huge fan of the logic used here, and the commenters raise a lot of good point, but it's about Rajai Davis, and he's a Blue Jays goddamnit!

As mentioned, Roy Oswalt is now a free agent, after having his contract option declined by the Phillies.  There's still a strong chance that he re-signs with the Phillies, as I'm sure they're still interested, just not on a 1-year deal for $14MM or $16MM or whatever that option was for.  Oswalt missed time twice this season with back problems, and he definitely wasn't the Roy Oswalt that we all got to know in the early 2000's with Houston, but he was very good as recently as the 2010 season, so it becomes a question entirely comprised of how healthy he is at age 34.  If healthy, I expect him to find a contract of at least 2 years at $10MM per, and expect the Jays to be interested.

I got started on the third and final segment of the Tradeables series, but it's kind of long, and sort of all over the place, so I'll probably revise it with the intention of organizing it a little better, and we'll get that shit up there tomorrow.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Tradeables-- The National League edition

Part two!  This will be a bit more entertaining, because I feel like there will be a few more trade partners for the Jays from the NL, if for no reason other than the fact that there are 16 teams in the NL, and only 13 in the AL not including the Jays themselves.  Let's go!

I think the Nats are pretty close to ready, but I'm sure there are some parts that they could jettison in the meantime. I still think they're more in the business of upgrading though.  They're fairly young and only have a payroll in the $70MM range, so I don't think there's much here.  They need to upgrade their own starting pitching if they want to find the playoffs, but they do have guys like Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg if they can stay healthy.  They're going to build around these guys, not trade away 1's and 2's.

The Braves have a ton of starting pitching, and a ton of starting pitching prospects right behind them.  I don't think they're overly fussy about moving any of their young guys, MLB or AAA, because guys like Derek Lowe and Tim Hudson  are getting pretty old and Jair Jurrjens is only good every 3rd season.  I'm sure Lowe could be had, since he's not very good anymore and is getting paid $15MM.  I'm sure he'd get stomped in the AL East, so let's stay away.  Hudson is still effective, and only costs $9MM with a $9MM club option for '13.  I think there's at least a partial chance of a Hudson trade, with the intention of getting Arodys Vizcaino and Julio Teheran permanently in to the rotation.

In terms of 2B, I wonder if Martin Prado could be had?  He played LF for most of the year after the Dan Uggla signing, and played a lot of 3B over the last two years with Chipper Jones being injured or needing to go eat at 4:30.  He's coming off a really bad season in which both his avg. and obp. dropped 50 points from his 2010 numbers, and if Jason Heyward wasn't having the same problem, there might be enough of a logjam that they could consider moving someone to make room.

Atlanta doesn't really need anything at the moment-- they're a pretty good, young team, and are loaded with prospects pretty much all over the board.  I assume Prado will just take over at 3B once Chipper Jones' arthritis kicks in and he breaks his hip, but maybe there's another plan (Brandon Hicks, Tyler Pastornicky,...) that would allow Prado to be traded.  Because it's not like they don't give up on their good, young players who get on base or anything...

I don't know if the Phils are going to give up anything, even if the dynasty's over (which it probably isn't).  If they do happen to tank though, the firesale would happen mid-season.  And we're not getting Utley.  Best to just move along.

NY Mets
This is almost as much of a mess as the Twins.  They seriously payed a combined $27.9MM to 5 players who were no longer on the team by the end of the year.  Having said that, their payroll is currently at ~$66MM plus arbitration raises and minimum contracts, so they definitely have room to spend if they want, and don't need to firesale if they don't want to.  But they should want to.  The obvious problem here is that they don't have anything overly useful.  There are a few decent prospects, but that's not what you should be trading obviously.

I guess the Marlins are planning on winning soon?  Because they're getting a new stadium?  Yeah... They do plan on spending on the free agent market this year apparently, so depending on how that goes, they might not be making any trades.  Seeing as they just brought in Ozzie Guillen to manage, and they plan on spending, they probably won't trade any of their more expensive guys.

There are definitely some parts there that they could move for prospects/MLB-ready talent if they decide that this isn't the year to contend though.  The Jays would probably be willing to move a pitching prospect (and more, obviously) in return for 2 years of Josh Johnson or Ricky Nolasco if the Marlins wanted to move either.  Anibal Sanchez will probably make $5MM+ in arbitration, so he could be moved as well, but I think the Jays are looking for someone better, especially at that price.  I think any of these potential deals are more likely to happen mid-season, once the Marlins' delusions of contending come to the forefront.

If the Pirates are willing to let Paul Maholm walk, as it appears they are, it's probably because they believe they can contend with what they've got at the moment.  Politely, they're fucking crazy.  They won't be trading any pitching our way.  They're more in the business of acquiring goodness.  That whole team is just a bunch of kids and I don't think they're moving any of them.

Technically, these guys are going to be in the AL next year (I think?), but whatever.  Ummm, Wandy Rodriguez?  He's not a legit #1 or 2, but he could probably be had for some prospects.  Other than that, I don't really see anything.  They moved it all at the deadline last year.  I wouldn't be surprised if the best baseball player in this organization, in terms of overall skill, is in the minor leagues right now.  Further, if that does happen to be the case, he may have been drafted in 2010 or 2011.  There's nothing to see here beyond Wandy.

Well, they have pitching.  I doubt they're giving it up though.  Even without Prince Fielder (presumably), they should still be pretty good.  They've got $58MM locked up in guarantees, but that goes up fast with arbitration raises and minimum contracts, so they miiiight ultimately decide to move something from the rotation to free up cash (especially if they happen to resign Prince), but I don't think that's overly likely.  If that were to somehow happen, Shaun Marcum might get run out of town thanks to his performance in the playoffs, but I can't see them trading him back to Toronto. They're also really unlikely to move Rickie Weeks.  Skip.

I honestly don't think I'd trade Joey Votto if I were Walt Jocketty.  Cincinnati won the division two seasons ago, and they have pretty much the same team as they did then.  I don't understand why they were so bad this year when they should have actually improved by all rights.  But whatever. I think it's more likely they move Yonder Alonso, which would be a great fit at 1B for Toronto.  AA could probably trade-rape for Alonso a lot easier than he could for Votto, naturally.  Votto would cost a fuck-ton, but Alonso could probably be had for Thames and a pitching prospect, which lets them put Thames in to LF (where Alonso is now, despite being a natural 1B) right away.

As for starting pitching, they don't have anybody mind-bogglingly awesome, but they did have 7 guys who made 13 or more starts last year, and will probably be moving Aroldis Chapman to the rotation next season as well.  I don't think Bronson Arroyo will be tradeable, since he gave up like 94 homers this year, and has a funny clause in his contract where $15MM is deferred until 2021, but that deferred money gets paid immediately if he gets traded.  I figure he'll get moved to the bullpen (if not immediately, then by midseason), but even then, there are definitely a lot of arms there that could fetch something.  I wouldn't calll any of those guys a bona fide #1 or #2 starter at this point, but if the Jays think that Homer Bailey or Mike Leake have the potential to be impact starters, we could see a deal.  The Jays might need to find a third team if Cincinatti wants MLB ready players, because Cincy would want infield help.

I really think Theo Epstein is just going to shatter this team, much like AA did when he took over, and try to get rid of some bad contracts in order to try and build a sustainable winning product a few years down the road.  This team is in a giant fucking mess, but they have enough money that they don't necessarily have to rebuild.  I mean, they're candidates to sign either Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols if such a scenario presents itself.  I suppose the advantage to having a great big budget is that, if done correctly, you never really need to rebuild because you can always get good players to sign with you.  Anyway, if they plan on contending this season, they're probably not going to make any trades that we're overly interested in.  If they do opt to tear roster up...

Ryan Dempster is coming off a pretty poor year.  I'd hate to just look at his babip (.331) and call it a blip that he'll recover from, because he's 35 and has a $14MM player option that he'd be retarded not to exercise.  Dempster's bad season this year was somewhat surprising, given his two good seasons before that.  I honestly do feel like he could/should recover, and you could probably expect the Cubs to eat a hefty chunk of salary to get a prospect or two back in a trade.  Did I mention that he's Canadian?!?!  Yeah, I don't care either.  He'll only be under contract for one more season, assuming he exercises the option, so there's not a ton of risk associated with it, but that's not exactly the kind of thing AA is looking for.

Matt Garza provides an equally interesting option.  The Cubs gave up a lot of good prospects to get Garza, and probably regret making such a trade now (well, Theo probably regrets it for them).  He's still got two years of team control (arbitration eligible in '12 and '13), plus he's a pretty good pitcher, so they could expect a decent haul in return if they decide to move him.  He's kind of a douche though.

Finally, there's Carlos Zambrano-- $19MM, and completely insane.  When he's not flipping his shit, he's still a halfway effective pitcher.  The contract is obviously fucking insane, but I bet the Cubs would eat 90+% of the contract in exchange for Chris Woodward.  AA always waxes on about having "good people" on his team, and I dunno if Z really fits that description.  He's only got 1 year left on his contract, and the Cubs would be eating a lot of it, so I wonder if that could happen.

St. Louis
Hey remember that time the Cardinals gave up a 5-tool 25 year old CF for 2 relievers and an average starter?  Same.  And honestly, the way that trade worked out for the Cards, we might be looking at a best case scenario for the Jays.  If that trade worked out as terribly for the Cards as it should have, John Mozeliak might be gunshy to work with AA again.

Ryan Theriot or Skip Schumaker might be available if the Jays need a 2B, though neither are great.  The Cards obviously aren't in the market to trade first basemen, since it's Albert Pujols, or starting pitching, since apparently they're desperate enough to give up Colby Rasmus for it.  I don't see the Cards as a partner in a major trade, but I dunno, if AA really feels like bringing Ryan Theriot to Ontheriot, it won't be earth-shattering news.

I don't see much here.  They don't have any true ace, and they only had a $56MM payroll this year, which should allow them to absorb any bad contracts, if they had any, which they don't.  They're contending, in a pretty easy division, and for not much money.  Not much to see here.

San Francisco does pretty well with pitching, and not all that well with anything else.  Matt Cain is due to become a free agent after 2012, and if they can't extend him, they might want to make a trade.  He's an extreme flyball pitcher, who takes advantage of a big field-- two giant warning signs for the AL East, and the small ballparks and powerhitters that come with it.  I don't see much chance of the Giants moving Cain, but if they do, it will only be if they're out of it by the trade deadline.

I'll give you Mark Teahen for Matt Kemp?  Clayton Kershaw?  No?  K.  Ummm... Ted Lilly? Hiroki Kuroda? Kuroda's actually a free agent who might retire, but neither would be terrible.  Not great, but not terrible.  Beyond that, anyone we want, we're not getting; anyone they're selling, we don't want.

Uhh, Todd Helton would certainly be an upgrade, but he's old and probably not getting traded anyway.  He's not incredibly expensive since his contract was restructured, but he's been in Colorado forever, and there might be a mutiny if he gets moved.  I'm not sure what his trade value would be, given the way his contract is set up, and it probably doesn't matter.  Ty Wigginton for 2B?  Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

None of the pitchers interest me, and I doubt I'm alone.

San Diego
The only thing I really see here is Orlando Hudson at 2B.  San Diego was really bad last season, mostly because they're so young, so they're really just kind of waiting for people to hit their primes.  If they had any good veterans, they could trade them for prospects, but they don't really.  Hudson and Jason Bartlett are the only older position players, and neither are really worth half a fuck anymore.  Hudson's OBP has declined steadily in each of the last 3 years, so I'd be cool if we took a pass on this one.  Bartlett had a pretty awful year this year too, so they're looking at trading pitching, or nothing.

Mat Latos is the best pitcher in the rotation, and is only 23, so I doubt that's going to happen, but Tim Stauffer and Aaron Harang could feasibly be moved.  I'm not convinced that either is good enough to call a front-end starter, but Stauffer is definitely the closer of the two.  If AA can get him for cheap, I might be able to get behind it.  One snag I see is that San Diego would probably want middle infield help, which the Jays aren't stacked with.

So there you go kids.  As you can see, there aren't a ton of starting pitching options, nor is there much in the 2B market, so AA is going to have to have to get pretty creative.  There are pieces available, and we all know that he's a ninja; ninjas are very creative.  The Jays have cash to spend, and prospects to deal, so they can make some stuff happen.  We don't always know who is available, or when they're available, so we could get surprised at some point in the next few weeks by a deal for someone that I thought was completely unavailable.  I simply followed a formula that has been true and tested for the last several years: contending teams will acquire players who are more expensive from teams who feel no need to pay them to help win 75 games.  Those teams get prospects in exchange for proven players.

My most likely trade targets from the NL are the Cubs, the Marlins, Padres and the Astros for pitching, and the Reds for other stuff.  The Jays do the due diligence all over the place, and have any potential trade target scouted well enough to know if and what they should pay.

Let's not forget that as of 12 months ago, Colby Rasmus was virtually unattainable, and is now a Bluejay in place of 3 relievers and Corey Patterson.  GM's talk a whole lot of bullshit, and they also change their minds from week to week about what may be best for their team, so people can become available based on many different factors.

Part 3 will focus on the Jays, and which players are more likely to be moved, focusing both on the major league roster, as well as the farm system.  I'll admit, I don't know a ton about a lot of the prospects, but I don't think AA is going to be all that crazy about moving guys who are in A ball, so I don't really care.  We also know that he's pretty devoted to his high-ceiling prospects, but will probably move anybody if he thinks he can improve the team longterm.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Tradeables-- The American League edition

Alright, so I think we all know by now that AA doesn't really want to make a big splash on the free agent market (though I did read yesterday/today in multiple spots that the Jays are still considered to be a favorite for Yu Darvish, look here and here), and that it looks like there will be a trade or two during the offseason for the Jays. As such, let's just explore which teams have some expendable pieces, most notably at starting pitcher, 2B (if needed) and relief, though a 1B/DH upgrade doesn't sound terrible to me if they can find a taker for Lind/Edwin.  We'll divide this in to two parts (parts 1 and 2, for those of you idiots out there).  Starting with the AL:

Tampa Bay
Umm, if AA and Andrew Friedman made a trade, would the world just explode?  I dunno if these intra-division trades even happen, but we can dream.  Obviously, Tampa is stacked with pitching and are poor.  James Shields could certainly be shopped, and Toronto has the prospects, assuming that's what Tampa would want.  Eric Thames would be an upgrade over Sam Fuld for a 4th infielder, and Adam Lind/Edwin Encarnacion could replace Casey Kotchmann at first for Tampa, and TB could use catching too.  Clearly, that's not going to be enough, but I'm sure any of those three could be sent away as a package for a starter of Shields' caliber.  Shields has team options for a pretty good price (3yrs, 28MM), so it would be hefty. Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann could also be had I'm sure.

Assuming Tony Lacava doesn't get the GM job, the Jays might actually be able to find a fleecejob with a guy like Jeremy Guthrie.  He's pretty underrated, and has lost 17 games twice in the last three years [sidenote: HE MUST BE TERRIBLE!], and he's probably going to be making like $7.5MM in arbitration this offseason, so he could probably be had for not much.  Having said that, he's in his last year before free agency, so maybe we could find a better target.

Boston/New York
Meh, those guys are in their own little world.  Obviously they're not trading Pedroia or Cano, and I don't think I'm all that interested in anybody else, nor do I feel overly confident that they'll trade within the division.  They have the most overpayed, underperforming rotation pieces ever, and the cheap guys probably wouldn't ever get moved anyway.  We're not taking A-Rod or Lackey, but... I mean, the post is called "Tradeables" so I'm sure something could happen in theory.  Let's just move on, neither of these teams are buying what we're selling.

Chicago AL
Chicago is in such dogshit shape right now.  They just aren't very good, and they're not good with a high payroll.  Guys like Adam Dunn and Alex Rios are getting paid way too much to not be played, they're getting old, and they have the worst farm system in baseball.  They were also struggling in terms of finances towards the end of this season, so they will more than likely try and trade some of their more expensive pieces for prospects, with the intent of rebuilding.  I doubt Rios or Dunn are going anywhere, but there are some pieces that could be moved.  Between John Danks and Gavin Floyd, there will likely be a rotation-based trade at some point this offseason, especially if Mark Buerhle resigns, though they might not feel good about moving both, despite what they should actually be doing.

If they really wanna tear this team apart, I can see Carlos Quentin, John Danks, and Gavin Floyd all being moved, not to mention any number of the relievers they have out back (Frasor, Ohman, Crain).  If anybody would take on the contracts of Dunn, Rios, or Peavy, I'm sure Chicago would take a bag of carrots in return, but I can't see it.  Alexei Ramirez is signed for a few more years and might fetch a useful package of prospects, but I don't think Toronto is overly interested in another shortstop.

 Part of the reason that Chicago has such a shitty farm system is because a lot of their top prospects came up to the majors either this past season, or the one before (Lillibridge, Viciedo, De Aza, Beckham, Humber, Sale).  Now they just need to get some playing time for them by getting rid of all the guys blocking them.

Again, the Jays have the prospects if they want to go after one of Quentin, Danks or Floyd, and they have the cash to help out if that's what the Sox want too, so if the Jays want any of it bad enough, they could get something done.  Kenny Williams is a goddamn terrible GM too, so that always helps.

The Tigers actually have a lot of money coming off of their books this offseason, so I'd expect them to be trying to improve an already above-average team if they make any trades.  They're definitely not giving up any starting pitchers, and are actually looking to upgrade in pretty much all the same spots as the Jays are.

The Ubaldo Jimenez trade at last year's trade deadline leads me to believe that the Indians think they're pretty close to contending.  If that's the case, I'm not sure they'll be doing much trading for what we're giving up either.  If they were moving pieces, it wouldn't likely be during the offseason.  Fausto Carmona, despite not being all that good, will likely have his options exercised ($7MM for 2012, 9MM and 12MM for '13 and '14 respectively).  He could be moved mid-year if they're out of it.  Ubaldo Jimenez seems broken, but is still really cheap.  He is at his lowest trade value at the moment, but if he turns it around by midyear, he could be worth plenty, especially considering all the prospects they gave up for him.

What a fucking mess.  If Morneau can stay healthy for a while, he could maybe be moved, but that won't be until at least midseason.  Nishioka could become expendable, but that's only because they don't think he's good enough to be an everyday 2B.  I'd be shocked if any of the Twins starting pitchers weren't available, but none of them are particularly good, so it wouldn't be much going the other way.  Pavano is pricey at 1/8.5MM, Liriano just had a terrible year, and Blackburn and Slowey wouldn't be worth getting, since they'd only take away innings from the young guys.  Scott Baker actually had a decent year this year, and at $6.5MM (9.25MM option for next year), doesn't seem like a terrible choice.  Having struck out 8.2/9, and only walking 2.1/9 this year, I don't think he'd be a bad fit for a team that was ready to contend, but I don't think Toronto gives up much for 1-maybe-2 years of control.

Kansas City
I think KC is ready-ish to contend (though they might need one more year), and certainly won't be in the market of giving up starting pitching.  Having said that, they've got Billy Butler at 1B, and Eric Hosmer is already pretty good.  They've got a ton of prospects all over the board, and a bunch more guys who just got in to the league.  Similar to how Tampa Bay always seems to have places to deal from, KC should too.  If the Royals think Butler is expendable once hotshots start coming up, especially at his pricetag, the Jays could be interested, but right now, it's not like money is at all a concern for KC ($39MM payroll last season, shouldn't be much bigger this year, but they've had big draft bonuses).  Butler does have a team friendly contract, so he'd fetch a lot in a trade, but I really feel like KC would be looking for a MLB-ready starter, or at least someone like Drew Hutchison or Nestor Molina, plus more.  Butler's defense is pretty bad, hence the reason he DH'ed all but 11 games this year, so that might drop his value a bit, but it's not like KC has another DH behind him ready to go, so they don't need to trade him, and I don't think AA is planning on moving any of his MLB-ready pitching, especially for a DH, which he'd only need if he could move one of Lind/Encarnacion for a starter.

I think we all know that Oakland loves to stockpile pitching, and I also think we know that they're dirty fuckity poor, so maybe a starter or two could be available.  I doubt Brett Anderson or Trevor Cahill are touchable, but guys like Dallas Braden, Gio Gonzalez, or Brandon Mccarthy could be available, not that any of them are overly impressive.  Braden is set to make $3.35MM in arbitration, but that's after missing most of last season, so that's red flag city.  Gonzalez is about to hit arbitration as well, and would look to make about $3.6MM.  Mccarthy is due a raise in arbitration to ~$2.6MM after a really strong season this year, but he was outrighted by Texas in 2010 and opted to become a free agent, that might be a red flag too.  If Billy Beene wants to cut costs, that might be the way to go.

Oakland has all three of their starting outfielders from 2010 hitting free agency this winter, plus their primary DH in Hideki Matsui, so any trade would probably see MLB-ready outfield offense and/or prospects for any of the guys mentioned above.  With all the financial uncertainty plaguing this team right now (not to mention Texas' success looking sustainable for at least a couple more years), they might just want to give up for a season or two and unload everything until they can find a new stadium to play in. Even if they don't do that, they're going to want cash or inexpensive players who are still early in their careers, which the Jays have plenty of.  I'd have to think that Eric Thames, Adam Loewen, Rajai Davis, Moises Sierra, Adam Lind, David Cooper and Darin Mastroianni are all available in a trade, especially if it were for starting pitching.  Thames is from Oakland!

AA has said that he was going to look to free agency to sign any bullpen help that he needs, but maybe a guy like Brian Fuentes or Grant Balfour could be had in a trade for relatively little, since their contracts are pretty big for relievers.  Much like the Rays and Andrew Friedman, a major trade between AA and Billy Beane could explode the universe.

Let's pretend that the Angels would be okay with trading with AA again after the whole Vernon Wells fiasco of last offseason--  Tony Reagins did resign after the season after all.  Anaheim currently has $102MM in guaranteed contracts for 2012, which doesn't include arbitration raises and minimum salaries, so I'm sure that they'd like to trim some fat.  The problem is, all the fat is with Vernon Wells/Torii Hunter/Bobby Abreu and the other outfielders that are blocking some hotshot prospects.  I don't think they're really going to want to move any of their starting pitching, as it is quite good (Haren, Weaver and Santana all had really good seasons and are relatively cheap in comparison to the value they present), plus they're probably losing Joel Piniero to free agency, so they're not at a position of extreme depth in that regard.

The Angels do have a bit of depth on the infield, however.  Mark Trumbo looks like he stole the everyday 1B job away from Kendrys Morales after a strong rookie season, and Morales hasn't played in a year and a half after breaking his leg jumping on homeplate.  I could definitely see Morales getting moved, and not for much due to missed time.  There's also a bit of a logjam in the middle infield, with Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick, Maicer Izturis and Alberto Callaspo taking up 3 positions, and getting more and more expensive each year.  Kendrick would obviously be the main target, and would probably cost one of the good pitching prospects, but I'm not sure they'll want to move him.  The Jays wanted Aybar when the Angels were customers for Roy Halladay 2 years ago, and while he's naturally a shortstop, I don't think a move to an easier position would be too difficult for him.

I'm fairly certain that whatever new GM is coming in will be smart enough to realize that Bobby Abreu, Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter should all be very available in a trade if anyone were to take them.  Wells remains untradeable, despite being traded last offseason.  Hunter and Abreu are still at least kind of productive, and both are free agents after the upcoming season, so either could be a DH if Lind or EE get moved anywhere.  Obviously there would be some major cash-eating done by the Angels (Hunter makes $18MM this season, Abreu makes $9MM), which would actually be pretty deliciously ironic if you ask me, considering the Jays gave the Angels $5MM in cash to assist with the Vernon Wells deal.  I honestly don't see a deal like that happening, but David Ortiz was rumored to be interested in Toronto; if Toronto was interested in that as well, maybe Abreu could DH if the Ortiz thing fell through.

I don't really think a trade for starting pitching can happen here.  Texas just has a bunch of #2-3 guys making up the whole rotation, and they're probably going to lose their best pitching in CJ Wilson to free agency this offseason, so I can't really see anything going on there.

I'm sure 1B wouldn't be a huge problem to find a deal, as they seem to have more guys than positions: Michael Young, Mike Napoli, Yorvit Torrealba, and Mitch Moreland are all kind of battling for 3 positions now that Adrian Beltre jettisoned Young to the DH/1B role.  Ian Kinsler probably has a 0 chance of moving, but he has 2 years (1 year plus an option that is a virtual lock to be exercised) left on his contract, so if Texas wanted to get crazy and move Kinsler, the return would be huge.  I'm talking 2 of Alvarez/Hutchison/Molina and probably more.  That's an extreme scenario that probably has about 0 chance of happening, because I don't really see anybody who could take over for Kinsler at 2B.

I was pretty close to posting this before realizing that I forgot about the Mariners.  Too bad, because I probably would have been the only one to notice.  Felix isn't going anywhere, and nothing else is at all interesting, save for maybe Michael Pineda.  That cost would be huge, but maybe worth it.  I bet it would take something like one of Nestor Molina/Hutch/Syndergaard, one of Carlos Perez or Travis d'Arnaud, and probably another one of the high rated A-/A+ prospects like Justin Nicolino or Michael Crouse.  That, or there's always cash/taking Chone Figgins away, but the Jays have the prospects and the cash to make something happen if Pineda ever became available.

Seattle could also try to move Brandon League or David Aardsma... I don't think any of the other relief arms are at all interesting.

So there you have it.  The AL looks pretty well set in terms of tradeables; most teams aren't willing to deal their starters unless their names are John Lackey or AJ Burnett.  There are always a few surprises out there, but the real teams I'd be looking at in the AL are CWS and OAK.  CLE and MIN could jump in there as well if they decide that they're not going to contend, but I think most GM's know that you need a solid rotation to contend in the AL, and that you can never have enough starting pitching.

NL edition should be along anytime between tomorrow and Monday.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Jays notes

Fangraphs has a Q&A with Jays-ish 2B Kelly Johnson.  They neglect to ask him whether or not he's signing in Toronto this offseason, which kind of sucks.  Having said that, he's one of the more SABR-savvy players in the game today, so it's cool enough.  He likes walks!

Tom Tango acknowledges the existence of that interview as well, so that comment section should be pretty good, as usual.  He looks in to one of Johnson's answers about approaches to hitting based on the 24 base-out states (bases empty with 1 out, runner on 2nd 0 out, etc.)

Sticking with Fangraphs/Kelly Johnson/2nd basemen, we get a look at the free agent market for 2nd basemen this coming offseason.  Not looking all that pretty...  and you wonder why Alex Anthopoulos wants to look at the trade market instead of the free agent market to fill his team.

Damien Cox of The National Idiot Convention Star thinks that the Cardinals won the Colby Rasmus trade.  I don't know how many times I need to tell you people that this isn't the case, no matter what.  The best result for the Cards is that both teams come out ahead of where they were with this one, but still...  2 months of a reliever and a mediocre starter, plus 3 years of control of another reliever isn't worth a potentially elite CF.

And of course, over at Getting Blanked, Parkes shits all over Cox (note: teehee... shit.... cox....) for being an idiot again.  I mean, I was gonna do that, but I wrote that half-assed World Series preview first, and it cost me.  Parkes shits on idiocy better than pretty much anyone around, and there's no shortage of that coming from Damien Cox.

World Series Preview

That would be a screenshot from Major League Baseball with Ken Griffey Jr. for the N64; a screenshot that I purposely took just for this very day.  It will lead me in to a nice boredom piece for once the offseason really gets going and there's nothing to write about.

Anyway, I don't think that it's a big surprise to anybody that the Rangers got to the World Series, and conversely, it's a giant surprise that St Louis made it.  Not only that, but I think we can pretty much kill the notion that old men like to present when they say "The way to win a World Series is through starting pitching and defense" since neither of these teams have pitched overly well, save for Chris Carpenter in game 5 of the Philadelphia series.  And you know, offense is an equally important part.

I don't think it's going to be a shock that I predict the Rangers to win the series with relative ease.  They're just simply a better team, though it's not like the Rangers haven't lost a World Series to a worse team before or anything.

St Louis has gotten here despite some pretty terrible starting pitching.  Texas certainly gets the nod with regards to pitching, despite not having a real ace the way STL does.  Don't get me wrong, CJ Wilson is awesome, but in the playoffs so far, he's really been the suck with an ERA over 4.  I'm wondering if there just aren't any innings left in that arm until next season, given the fact that he was a closer in 2009, going from a career high of 73 IP, to having thrown 427.1IP over the last 2 years, but maybe that's nothing.  Still, I feel like Holland/Lewis/Harrison is as good, if not better than Lohse/Jackson/Garcia.

The offenses are pretty close, I guess, but I give the edge to Texas with a really balanced attack 1-9.  STL's offense is pretty good, with Albert/Berkman/Holliday, but it just kind of stops there.  David Freese has kind of lit a fire under himself so far in the playoffs, but that can't really last forever, can it?  The best hitter in the playoffs has been Nelson Cruz, and the rest of the Rangers offense has been pretty solid the entire way through.

I seriously don't effing know how the Cards got this far, beating two teams who are so clearly better than they are.  They've played some good baseball over the last month or so, and I suppose they pounced on Milwaukee's dogshit defense.  When we get right down to it, Texas and Philadelphia are/were probably the two best teams in 2011-- I just don't see St Louis getting through both of them in one postseason.  It was wild enough for STL to get to the playoffs, let alone to the World Series, but that's going to be the end of 'er I feel.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Few links about the Toronto's

Hi.  Remember that thing I wrote yesterday about the Colby Rasmus trade?  Well Parkes at Getting Blanked writes pretty much the same idea, albeit more coherently and with a funny anecdote.  I always like it when we have similar thoughts, especially when I get them submitted before he does.  Makes me feel smart.  Little discussion in the comments too.

MLBTR does a little preview of the Jays offseason, as they do with all teams.  And wouldn't you know it, that comment section talks about the Rasmus trade too.

Assistant GM Tony LaCava will meet with the Orioles tomorrow about their vacant GM position. AA says that Lacava would be irreplaceable, especially considering how young AA's staff is.  Worst of luck to Tony.

Aaaaaand the World Series starts tomorrow.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Good tweets.

Twitterers are kicking ass so far today:

Patrick Sull, someone I've never heard of, says this:
Deal Colby Rasmus, qualify for the World Series. Tough day for group think.
Now, I'm definitely not one to condone stupidity, and am typically first to challenge the notion that the ends justify the means.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  Just because you got the intended result doesn't mean that what was done is at all excusable.  I'm talking, of course, about the Rasmus trade, which, from the STL perspective, was fucking terrible. Even if Edwin Jackson and Octavio Dotel weren't going to be free agents at the end of the season, you're still giving up way too much for an average starter and 2 relievers.

Having said that, St Louis did need another starting pitcher (who gave up 4 ER over 2 innings last night!) and bullpen help.  Giving up a 25 year old, potential superstar CF with 3 more years of team control (and what likely end up as cash) is a massive overpay for what they got in return.

So the question becomes this: had the Cards not made the Rasmus trade, do they still get to where they are now?  My answer is a clear "no".  I'm not saying that Rzep, Dotel and Jackson were responsible for the entire 10-game deficit being closed, nor are they fully responsible for even a single win to this point in the playoffs.  But getting here probably doesn't happen if Trever Miller or Brian Tallet or PJ Walters are in the bullpen, and Jackson pitched well enough in his 50-ish regular season innings as a Cardinal to help out there too.  This of course assumes that they would have been in the same 10-game hole that they got in after the trade, but still; there's probably a 1-win difference over the last 2.5 months between [Dotel+Rzep+Jackson+Patterson-0.5 Rasmus+0.5 John Jay-0.5 Kyle Maclellan] and [Tallet+Miller+Walters+0.5 John Jay-0.5 Rasmus+More McLellan starting and less of him in the bullpen], especially the way this bullpen has pitched in the playoffs, if that makes any sense.

Again, at no point does it ever make sense to make that trade if you're John Mozeliak, as there is no way that he actually thought "Well we're 2 relievers and a shitty starter away from getting to the World Series, all we gotta do is give up a potentially elite CF to do it!", but I'm sure if you told him that he could make that trade in exchange for the exact result he got, he, and every other GM in baseball, would probably make it any day of the week.  If the Cards win the World Series, the ends actually do justify the means, because winning the World Series is the only thing that really matters.  I'm sure they mortgaged off a good piece of their future by trading Rasmus, but getting the ring is much more important.  Basically, everyone shit on that trade, but STL probably doesn't get to where they are without it, and thus, we, the people who are the fans of the advanced metrics, the Moneyballers, the critics of braindead GM-ery, have been told by John Mozeliak himself, to politely suck it.

Good tweet #2 comes from @Bluejaysbatboy:
Sox blogs/comments talking about getting Farrell back to manage. For money or prospects, I think the Jays should be very open to this idea.

Umm, shit yes.  I mean, is there really very much value in a manager?  Especially one that, in his rookie season, made a lot of really basic errors, with regards to pinch hitting, lineup selection, bullpen management (I mean AA had to trade away Dotel to get him to stop facing lefty hitters), stealing bases with your best hitter at the plate, etc. And now we have the option of not only letting him manage a division rival, but getting compensation for it?  Man oh man.  I mean, Farrell can't possibly be noticeably more valuable than any other candidate out there, can he?  There's no WAR or WPA stat for managers, out there, but if we could say Farrell is worth Y mWAR, it's not like any other manager that could ever replace him would be worth (Y-1) mWAR-- it's impossible.

 It saddens me that AA said like a week ago that any of his staff could seek other employment without permission, because that might put a damper on *snicker* Farrell's trade value *pfffftttt hahahaha*.  To be fair, that comment AA made was about his scouts, front office management, and any assistants (i.e. LaCava, Wakamatsu, Luvollo) who could go to other organizations and qualify for promotions that they otherwise wouldn't get yet in Toronto, as opposed to Farrell, who, as Manager, probably won't be finding any promotions.  I fucking hope not anyway.  Unless he considers the same job in a different city to be a promotion.

I really don't think there's much of a chance of Farrell getting traded, by the way.  If he wants to manage in Boston, they'll probably just let him, but I doubt they did that big long manager search last offseason only to trade him this offseason.  The irony would just be so goddamned delicious though.

Finally, Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues and MLBTR:
Pffft, I liked Colby Rasmus before AA was anywhere near the GM's seat.
Same.  It just seemed like I always traded for him or eventually signed him when playing MLB The Show in franchise mode.  For what it's worth, I also traded for Roberto Luongo on NHL 2005, as the Vancouver Canucks.

Sunday, 16 October 2011


Jays catcher prospect Travis d'Arnaud tore a ligament in his thumb on his catching hand yesterday, and needs surgery immediately.  Bad news.  Apparently he'll be all set to go for spring training, but that still sucks pretty bad.

Gregor Chisolm tells us some stuff that we already knew about concerning Kelly Johnson.  Apparently Johnson is a free agent and the Jays need to address the second base issue!

Jays' assistant to the Gnereal Manager Tony Lacava has been given permission to interview for the vacant GM job in Baltimore.  AA says that he'll never not grant anybody the freedom of seeking better positions within other organizations, which is friendly, I suppose.  He claims that such a policy should attract better personnel in to the organization, but I can't see it.  I dunno, he's smarter than I am, I suppose.

Buster Olney seems to think that David Ortiz could be a fit in Toronto.  Other than the fact that he's a douche, I don't hate it.  The only real problem I have with the concept is that there's already two guys in the lineup who don't play defense, in Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion.  I guess you could stick Edwin at 1B and DH Ortiz, if you really feel like trading Adam Lind's super team friendly contract when he's at his lowest trade value (well... this past offseason was his lowest trade value, but he's coming off a really shitty final 3 months of the season).  Ortiz, despite being 35, is still a pretty damn good hitter (153 wRC+, 4.2 fWAR in 2011), so that bat fits in the lineup just fine.  It would probably force the Jays in to putting a liability in to the field with Edwin, but the Ortiz production would be nice regardless.  I'm not sure what a 35-year-old, all bat, no glove DH should go for on the market, but I'd be skeptical to give a multi-year deal to him, especially at any significant price.  He made $12.5MM this past season, and I doubt he'd get a raise on that, even coming off a 4+ win season.

Okay, that's enough.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Maholm Update

I'd like to take this moment in time to update something that I wrote yesterday.

Pirates pitcher, Paul Maholm, is probably going to be a free agent soon.  I examined his value in a trade yesterday, and determined that it's pretty tough to justify any team going out there and trading something useful for him, just to exercise an option that is kind of pricey.  Like I said, part of being a GM is trying to squeeze every bit of value from the cash you spend.  Maholm isn't exactly a stud out there, but he's not bad by any stretch, which just kind of sours me at the thought of paying him $10MM for a season.  Having said that, it does appear that the Pirates are going to decline the option, if we read between the lines when we hear that the Pirates are in the market for starting pitching.

Now, what I wrote yesterday was mostly from the perspective of the Jays, who are rumored to be looking for a front-mid rotation guy.  Something I didn't really consider, and this was kind of shortsighted of me, is the fact that the Pirates have a commodity, albeit at a price that is risky as shit.  I went through some options yesterday that the Pirates have regarding Maholm, and figured that they'd exercise and trade him, either now or mid-season. But after thinking about it, if they decline this god damn option, as that article sort of suggests (near the bottom), I might lose my fucking mind.

First, you say that you're looking for starting pitching.  Okay, you can never have enough pitching, that's cool. Charlie Morton, while not that good, is still one of your top-5 starters, and is hurt until at least the start of the regular season, which creates a hole right there, a hole that you can fill with one of your own starters that you didn't appear to want.

Second, after CJ Wilson, there are no lefty starting pitchers available*.  Maholm, as a lefty, is just more valuable to a team than a right-handed pitcher of similar skillsets.  SOMEONE WILL GIVE YOU SOMETHING FOR HIM.  Even if you have to keep him for a month or two, or eat some cash, somebody will give you something useful.

Third, he might end up being worth the contract.  He's not a bad pitcher.  All you need is 2 WAR-- even less if you trade him.  Eat some cash (and fuck knows that Pittsburgh has some money stashed away-- payroll is at like $42MM) and you could even get a nice prospect.

I'll admit, when I wrote what I wrote last night, I was thinking that there wasn't a ton of value associated with Maholm, since his contract is so close to his actual worth, it would be risky for anybody, let alone anybody who's going to give up anything to get him.  But there is fuck all available on the free agent market, and not much else on the trade market.  I still think it's pretty dumb to leak out a remote possibility of declining the option, but this might work out.  Enough teams out there are looking for pitching, and many of them don't want to dish out 5/85 for CJ, or christ knows what for CC and Darvish.  On any decent team, Maholm is a 3rd starter-- and that might actually be enough in this market to throw something useful.

The big problem-- nobody is going to give up starting pitching to get Maholm.  At least not yet.  Nobody's desperate enough.  Come July, someone will be desperate enough to give up something for half a season of Maholm, and the market will be way, way better.  But if they want to find starting pitching, especially today, when people are hoarding young starters, you're going to have to give up one of those position player prospects to get starting pitching.

The Pirates have a bunch of hotshot starting pitching prospects that should be in the bigs by 2014, and they might not be ready to contend until then anyway-- if this is about money, exercise the option or trade his rights, and maybe sign Dana Eveland or Jojo Reyes to mop up some innings.   If this is about Maholm not being good enough to be on a team that is supposedly ready to contend... I'm not sure what more you're looking for.

*- Assuming CC re-ups with the Yankees.  Even if he doesn't, there's a small number of teams who are going to be able to offer CC the money he wants.


That's right folks, I turned 24 years young today.  As result, I purchased a 24-package of beer yesterday, and will consume each of them before the strike of midnight.

I believe Homer Simpson put it best, when he told Marge "Put the kids to bed, I'm comin' home loaded."

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Potential AA target: Paul Maholm

Word broke yesterday that the Pittsburgh Pirates don't intend on paying Paul Maholm $9.75MM next season.  Immediately, people began reading between the lines, claiming that such a report meant that Pittsburgh would buyout the option for $750K.  Neil Huntington, Pirates' GM, claimed that they weren't intending on rejecting the option, however, saying that they would either trade him before the season starts, or during the season.  Obviously, this could just be posturing, since everyone wants starting pitching, and he might try and build some kind of market for a team like the Yankees, but if he doesn't find an offer he likes, he's got a reasonably effective pitcher at a price that might not be great, but certainly isn't bad.

This option projects to be close to a wash.  Maholm was worth ~2.1 WAR last season, so on the free agent market, the $9.75MM is right around what is standard, if we equate 1 WAR to $4.5-4.75MM, and project Maholm to be approximately as effective next season. Part of a GM's job, however, is to get as many wins out of his team without spending a cock-load of money, and at $9.75MM, Maholm projects to be worth right around what he will be paid, and thus, isn't scheduled to provide much of a surplus. (Sidenote-- Maholm wasn't a free agent signing; he avoided arbitration, and was worth ~5 fWAR over the last two years, in which he was paid $6.5MM, which pretty much means that Pittsburgh got some value out of him, though not tons.  Considering his back to back 2WAR seasons, 9.75MM doesn't provide much surplus, but there is some.  If the cost per WAR rises, which it usually does, we could reasonably expect $5MM of surplus value with a 2.1WAR season.)

Something I don't understand is the timing of this announcement.  Given Charlie Morton's recent injury and surgery, and the revelation that he will be out of action for 6 months, I'm wondering why the hell they would decide to make this claim now regarding Maholm.  He's been fairly average for a starter over his career, despite being fairly inconsistent, even if we consider the fact that he's been playing in the NL Central his whole career.  Having said that, he plays for the Pirates, so he hasn't gotten to face the shitty Pirates lineups of the last 6 years, which negates some of the advantage of pitching in the NL Central.  He's had FIP's right around the 4.00 mark each season in his career, which isn't great, and he had 3 straight seasons of descending K-rates, combined with ascending BB-rates, before sort of fixing that this season.  He's also suppressed HR's very well in each of the last 3 years (partly due to playing in pitcher friendly Pittsburgh).

So why am I writing this?  Well, we know that if the Jays choose to add a pitcher, it will be a front-mid of the rotation type of guy, which isn't exactly a description that Maholm represents, but there is an inherent value in his ability to pitch 200+ innings (2 WAR over 200IP > 2 WAR over 170 IP due to bullpen wear and tear).  I'm wondering if the Jays will look in to a guy like Maholm, who was on pace for a career high in innings pitched until missing the last 6 weeks of the season with an elbow issue.  As far as I can tell, however, this is the only time he's missed over the last 3 years.

Maholm's $9.75MM pricetag seems a little high for Alex Anthopoulos, and he's certainly not the first guy I'd think of paying $10MM to.  However, I feel like one of the main reasons the Jays would elect to go after a mid-rotation guy is the ability to throw innings and go deeper in to games so as to alleviate the use of the bullpen, in contrast to this past season.  Maholm can definitely throw somewhere in the 200+ inning range, which would obviously be a help to the bullpen, especially if younger guys like Joel Carreno and Luis Perez will be there.  I'm not sure if AA is interested or not, nor am I overly confident about the cost of 1 year of Maholm on the trade market.

The Pirates have 5 days after the end of the World Series to decide whether or not they would like to exercise Maholm's contract option, which leaves an awful lot of scenarios.

  • Exercise Maholm's option, and move him at the trade deadline to a contending team, assuming PIT is out of  the playoff race by then.  The return will be smaller, but there will be fewer question marks in the starting rotation, and it allows Pittsburgh to determine what they have with their young starters who might not necessarily begin the year in the majors (Jameson Taillon, Stetson Allie, Gerritt Cole).
  • Exercise Maholm's option, and move him before the start of the season.  They do have guys that can start, and don't necessarily need Maholm in that rotation, especially if they don't think they're ready to contend.  I honestly don't think they're too far away, and they started well enough this season to fool me, but I'm not sure they're quite good enough to get the job done in the NL Central, especially if the Astros are moving to the AL, making that division tougher.  Having said that, barring any trades or free agent signings, Maholm would probably be the best pitcher in the Pirates rotation (unless one of the aforementioned draft picks make the team and is awesome, which is very possible).
  • Don't do anything with the option, trade the rights to Maholm before the 5 days are up.  Maholm won't be a type-A or type-B free agent in the event of his option being declined.  As such, there won't be a Miguel Olivo situation like last year, where AA essentially bought a draft pick from the Colorado Rockies.  The return would be next to nothing for the Pirates, but they wouldn't have to worry about having the $9.75MM on their books, or the $750K buyout.
  • Decline the option, allow Maholm to become a free agent.  Seems unlikely to me, but they can open up a big chunk of change if they feel comfortable with their pitching going in to the season.  They can then use that money to spend on free agency or sign draft picks, since they choose 8th overall this season.  The farm system is good right now, but a lot of them will be graduating to the bigs sooner or later.
The first two seem a lot more likely than the last two, for what it's worth.

If the Jays want to make a move on Maholm, they might have a competitor or seven, given the lack of starters on the free agent market.  $10MM might be a little pricey to give up anything of use, so if the Pirates want to get anything of reasonable impact in return, they might have to either eat up a contract, or toss in some cash.  They have a lot of young, decent position players, but there are certainly some positions that could be upgraded.  I assume Pedro Alvarez will get multiple second chances to prove that he could get the job done, as will Jose Tabata.  Alex Presley played well enough down the stretch that they probably wouldn't take AB's from Garrett Jones for anybody else's benefit.  Ryan Doumit is good enough at catcher if he can stay healthy, and Andrew Mccutchen and Neil Walker aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

I'm sure the Pirates are looking for major-league ready-ish talent in this trade, and the only real holes I see are at 1B, SS, and maybe C depending on Doumit's health (which could shift him to 1B).  The Jays obviously have a wealth of catching depth, but I can't see them selling anything there for 1 year of Paul Maholm, especially on a contract that doesn't suggest to offer much surplus.  I don't think the Jays extended Yunel Escobar to a team friendly contract this season just so that they could trade him, especially after the season he just had, and especially when Adeiny Hechavarria is still a question mark, especially for, again, a contract that doesn't offer much surplus over 1 season, and I can't imagine they're cool with moving Hech yet either.

That leaves 1B.  Adam Lind might not be as good as we thought he was going to be 2 years ago; he doesn't walk, he strikes out a lot, and not a very good fielder.  The problem is, his trade value is not very high after having a shitty second half of the season, and he has an incredibly team-friendly contract ($5MM in '12 and '13, with 3 club options of 7, 7.5, and $8MM).  I wouldn't be surprised if the Jays trade Lind at some point, especially if they pick up a big name 1B elsewhere, but again, this is for 1 year of Maholm.

How about David Cooper?  He might still turn in to something, but he doesn't really appear to have much of a spot on this team going forward.  He doesn't field very well, and his bat doesn't really play well at 1B, as he hits for little power.  It was his second go-around at AAA last season, and he did put up really good numbers in the PCL, so Pittsburgh might see some kind of value there.

I'm just kind of struggling on determining the value that Cooper has, especially relative to Maholm.  If I were Huntington, and asked for Cooper for Maholm straight up, I don't think we'd have a deal (nor do I think Huntington would make that offer), simply because I think there would be a better offer from another team.  Maholm isn't good, per se, but he's not tradeable-for-David-Cooper bad either.  The fact that AA has such a good farm system means that he could definitely give up some middling prospect that might make it somewhere someday (i.e. Chad Beck/Danny Farquhar or something) in exchange for getting Huntington to give up a bit of cash to help pay for the $10MM contract (you might even need to go quite a bit higher than Beck/Fark).

Basically what I'm trying to say here is that Maholm and Brett Cecil aren't incredibly different from one another, and Cecil is 4 years younger, probably hasn't peaked yet, and is several million dollars cheaper.  Maholm was definitely better this year, but Cecil clearly had a down year, and the fact that Maholm would cost literally 10x what Cecil costs doesn't really make up for the fact that Maholm would upgrade the rotation by 1 WAR, give or take, especially when you consider that we already have Cecil on the team.  Guys like Cecil, Drabek, Alvarez, and Mcgowan will all need somewhere to pitch next season, and if the Jays get Maholm, only to have him stink... well I just think that's a worst case scenario in terms of the development of a promising young pitching staff.

If Cecil (or whomever) stinks and Maholm is still available next season, and the Jays are still kicking around in the division a few months in to the year, then sure, I'm for it.  Paul Beeston said that money is available for this coming season if they decide that it's a good idea.  I'm not fussy about the idea of getting Maholm if it's going to cost anything of substance, unless the Pirates are willing to throw in some cash, or take Mark Teahen.

The fact of the matter is that, in order to compete this season, the Jays are going to need a lot of stuff to go right for them.  Offense needs to improve (Snider/Rasmus, etc.), nobody in the rotation can have years like Cecil/Drabek had, and other teams will probably need to take a step backwards.  I really feel like the margin of error on the Jays being good enough to win this division can begin and end with the rotation not having fuck-ups the way they did this past year.