Sunday, November 29, 2009
I didn't want to write a post about the "10 worst contracts in MLB", or anything like that. It has been done more than once in recent weeks. By now, everyone knows that Vernon Wells is probably the worst contract in all of baseball. In most circles, it is well known that Alfonso Soriano, Dontrelle Willis, and Barry Zito have albatross contracts. I thought of a couple of angles that peaked my interest. If we looked at every team, what would their #1 bad contracts be? Who would be each team's best valued player? Since no-one wants to read 20,000 words on and some 75 player references for this idea, I'm going to break it up into parts. For Part 1 of our Best/Worst Contracts series, we shall examine the best contract and worst contract for the three "A-Teams": the Angels, Astros, and Athletics.
Most of the Angels good, young players are arbitration eligible this year, so this is an important offseason for them. Looking ahead at their future payroll, their best value is probably Kendry Morales for $1.2 million in 2010 and arbitration starting in ‘11.
On the other side of the spectrum, Gary Matthews, Jr. lives in a fantasy world where a team that will give him a starting job exists. He requested a trade a couple of weeks ago because he wants to play every day. Even if the Angles agreed to pay his entire salary, $11.4M in 2010 & $12.4M in 2011, I don’t think a team is foolish enough to give him 600 at bats.
If Bud Norris or Tommy Manzella contend for 2010 NL Rookie of the Year, they’ll be doing it at/near league minimum salary.
While the Astros probably don’t want to pay Kaz Matsui $5.5 million for next season, the $19 million they are paying Carlos Lee in each of the next three seasons is probably their worst contract.
The poster boys of the Moneyball phenomena have been extremely limited with long-term commitments to players, as evidenced by having only two players with non-arbitration guarantees for 2010. Eric Chavez will get $12.5 million for 2010, probably not play a single inning, and then collect a $3 million buyout for his 2011 buyout.
Oakland’s best 2010 investments will be whichever player performs the best out of this gaggle of guys being paid the minimum: Andrew Bailey, Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, Daric Barton, or Dallas Braden. It could even be recent free agent pickup Dallas McPherson. Our prediction is that Brett Anderson will be the best of the bunch in 2010.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Anyway, I can't believe we I forgot this in our Top 50 Free Agents column, but here are our predictions for where we think our top free agents may land. One point of caution: I don't expect many of these to be correct. Would getting 20 out of 50 be considered successful? I guess we'll find out. Still, do NOT go to Vegas with any of these predictions.
- Matt Holliday = Red Sox
- John Lackey = Mariners
- Jason Bay = Angels
- Chone Figgins = Cubs
- Aroldis Chapman = Yankees
- Andy Pettitte = Yankees
- Rich Harden = Twins
- Randy Wolf = Dodgers
- Jose Valverde = Astros
- Noel Arguelles = Mets
- Adrian Beltre = Twins
- Nick Johnson = Mets
- Felipe Lopez = Dodgers
- Rafael Soriano = Braves
- Mike Cameron = Yankees
- Mike Gonzalez = Yankees
- Vladimir Guerrero = Mariners
- Orlando Hudson = Nationals
- Ben Sheets = Rangers
- Mark DeRosa = Phillies
- Jermaine Dye = A's
- Miguel Tejada = Phillies
- Johnny Damon = Yankees
- Adam LaRoche = Braves
- Marco Scutaro = Red Sox
- Joel Pineiro = Rockies
- Jason Marquis = Mets
- Brad Penny = Giants
- Rafael Betancourt = Cubs
- Orlando Cabrera = Indians
- Erik Bedard = Orioles
- Hideki Matsui = Royals
- Billy Wagner = Red Sox
- Jon Garland = Mariners
- Fernando Rodney = Tigers
- Yorvit Torrealba = Giants
- Hank Blalock = Tigers
- Kelvim Escobar = Red Sox
- Placido Polanco = Padres
- Marlon Byrd = Giants
- Carl Pavano = Brewers
- Bengie Molina = Mets
- Jarrod Washburn = Mariners, Dodgers, or retirement
- Chan Ho Park = Phillies
- Darren Oliver = Angels
- Jim Thome = White Sox or retirement
- Pedro Feliz = Orioles
- Aubrey Huff = Royals
- Rany Wynn = Cubs (ugh)
- Adam Everett = Tigers
The comment section awaits your brilliant arguments. Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
This hot stove league looks a bit warmer on the trade front than free agents. Scott Boras will talk about Matt Holliday's place in history and Johnny Damon's genetic disposition until he's blue in the face. That doesn't change the fact that there is no sure thing that all 30 teams are pursuing.
Without further ado, here is our list of Top 50 Free Agents to keep you warm this winter. Happy Thanksgiving!
1. Matt Holliday
We do not fear that he is just a player who can mash National League pitching. His struggles with the A's were symptomatic with adjusting to a new league for the first time and moving from a home park in Colorado to a cavernous football stadium in Oakland. Given time, protection of a good lineup, and a home ballpark like Fenway, Holliday will put up near Blake Street numbers - at least for a few more years.
2. John Lackey
Lackey has been consistent, when healthy. He used to be durable - whatever that means. And, a couple of years ago when checking to see if he was over the hill for fantasy purposes, I was shocked to see that he was still in his late 20's. He'll turn 32 during the 2010 World Series.
3. Jason Bay
Bay’s terrible defense "drops" him to third on this list. I would not want my favorite National League team to invest in him.
4. Chone Figgins
He'll be 32 in January, and his best asset is his speed. I'd be concerned that the legs are the first to leave a player, but we’ve recently seen guys stay in condition to run into their mid 30's (see: Damon, Abreu). Figgins has also made himself a much better hitter in recent years, as his advanced metrics suggest more solid contact & line drives than his first few years in the league.
5. Aroldis Chapman
If Matsuzaka had performed well this season, Chapman would be at the top of a few lists. The Yankees can win the bidding war easily, then trade Chamberlain and/or Hughes in mega deals for someone like Doc Halladay or King Felix.
6. Andy Pettitte
Why wouldn't the Yankees throw 8 to 10 million at this guy? He seems to settle down everyone's nerves in the playoffs, which is worth more than a few miles per hour on his cutter. Plus, you know he'll take a shot in the behind for his teammates.
7. Rich Harden
I'd rather go for talent, upside, the best stuff on the market… just don't spend all your money on this guy, and get another innings eater, while you're at it.
8. Randy Wolf
Randy Wolf will probably want to cash in on his '09 success and sign early, and maybe the team that signs Harden should sign him, too. It can be a challenge for any team to sign two of the Top 10 free agents in one offseason, but look at what the Yankees did last year. They signed the three biggest free agents on the entire market for BIG dollars. This offseason, no-one is going to make the kind of money that Sabathia & Teixeira got - not Holliday, Lackey, Bay, or anyone. But looking at it on a smaller scale, why couldn't a mid-market team sign the two Top 5 free agent pitchers this season? Staying away from Lackey & Chapman makes everyone else relatively "affordable".
9. Jose Valverde
Papa Grande can bring da heat. He's a little bit crazy, but he can solidify the back end of your bullpen in a hurry. We've always liked him and think he's been underrated by playing in lower-exposed markets. If you need a closer this offseason, you should trade for one on the cheap. If you have nothing to trade, sign Valverde. On game days, cook him up some rice 'n' beans, and tell him to settle in until the 7th inning.
10. Noel Arguelles
Another Cuban flamethrower. He doesn't have the buzz that Chapman in getting, but he's only 19 and already throws in the low 90's in his long, lean, and athletic frame. He should sign for about 8 million dollars. (Paging Jim Hendry, please stop giving $7.5 million to guys like Josh Grabow, when you can get guys like this for $8 million. Let's get younger, not more mediocre.)
11. Adrian Beltre
There are a lot of star 3rd basemen in baseball, like Longoria, Arod, Wright, Zimmerman, & Chipper. That being said*, Beltre is a world class defender, terrific athlete, and good hitter. He won't get fat on another mega deal, but he'd be a great pickup on a one or two year deal.
12. Nick Johnson
He's very valuable when healthy. As a perenial leader in On-Base Percentage, Johnson proves to be one of the toughest outs in baseball. His injury history will limit him to a 1 or 2 year deal, and his lack of power & speed should limit him to 4 to 6 million per year.
13. Felipe Lopez
Lopez should still have a couple more "prime" years left. Let's see which team helps him cash in.
14. Rafael Soriano
Soriano is another flame throwing right-handed reliever. He is more injury prone than Valverde, but a little less crazy. I still think he's crazy, but not as crazy. Personally, I like my relief pitchers to be as crazy as possible without going over to Julian Tavarez land.
15. Mike Cameron
Some people see the Yankees coveting Cameron to take over Centerfield until Austin "Action" Jackson is ready to be anointed as the next Yankee great. I could see that happening, too. Why not? They can get anyone they want.
16. Mike Gonzalez
The Yankees requested medical reports on Gonzalez and Soriano from the Braves. My money is on Brian Cashman choosing the more sane option, who also happens to pitch from the left side.
17. Vladimir Guerrero
I'm rooting for Vladdy Daddy to have a resurgence. He doesn't perform at a superstar level anymore, but he's still got something left.
18. Orlando Hudson
I thought Hudson was having a good year, but Joe Torre gave his position away to Ronnie Belliard at the end of last season. Some think that he has slowed down in his swing and his legs, and he has a lot to prove in 2010.
19. Ben Sheets
We could swap Sheets and Harden on this list because they both have no-hitter stuff and long injury histories. I'd love for the Cubbies to get him.
20. Mark DeRosa
DeRosa is coming off wrist surgery, which could diminish his power for a year or longer. His versatility still has more than a handful of teams interested in his services. I see him signing relatively soon with a good club.
21. Jermaine Dye
Dye is still a dangerous hitter. He's been underrated in certain circles, but I still see and hear him hit the ball squarely all the time.
22. Miguel Tejada
Miguel's home/road splits and advanced aging process show he needs to be in a hitter's park. The fact that he can still bang close to 200 hits every season, shows he has some value.
23. Johnny Damon
The Yankee Stadium wind tunnel helped Damon's Homerun totals, but he also had a very good OPS+, which tries to negate ballpark effects. He's gotta be an HGH guy, right?
24. Adam LaRoche
LaRoche is a notorious slow starter, who mashes right-handed pitching. He may need a platoon partner versus tough lefties, but a guy who can hit 20+ HR's in 400 AB's vs right handed pitching has value to many clubs.
25. Marco Scutaro
I just don't believe in gambling on guys who have career years at age 34.
26. Joel Pineiro
The most hittable pitcher in baseball doesn't walk people because AB's rarely last 4 pitches against Pineiro. His groundball tendencies can lead to successful longevity, but I wonder if this is the next coming of Dave Duncan's Jeff Suppan. How's that working out for the Brew Crew?
27. Jason Marquis
The pride of Staten Island wants to go back to the city. I think he grew up a Yankee fan, but the way he can hit makes him perfect for the National League. How perfect? His teams have gone to the postseason in every season of his 10-year career. Prize to anyone who can show cause & effect for this.
28. Brad Penny
The White Bartolo Colon is going to try to have a productive career in his late 30's by throwing heavy fastballs, high heat, and enough breaking pitches to get quality starts.
29. Rafael Betancourt
I think Betancourt has a chance to blossom into a fine closer. At the very least, he should be able to be a bridge to a closer for a more established bullpen.
30. Orlando Cabrera
His defense is slipping, but he's still a leader who guys like to play with. If he moved to second base, his defense would go from average at shortstop to very good at second.
31. Erik Bedard
I don't think Bedard can be counted on for much of 2010, but if he can project to value in 2011, teams may want to sign him now with at least a club option.
32. Hideki Matsui
He can only play DH. That is limiting, even for a World Series MVP. Could his Japaneseness make him a Mariner? Do the Angles want him? I could see the A's want him, but he'd likely go back to Japan before taking a huge paycut to play in Oakland.
33. Billy Wagner
Showed he had something left last autumn. He may not be an All-Star again, but I think he'll be effective and overpaid.
34. Jon Garland
Garland can be overpaid, or a bargain. He has a lot at stake this year and may have to settle for another 1-year deal hoping for a better economic marketplace next offseason.
35. Fernando Rodney
Rodney is an interesting free agent. He doesn't strike out a ton of guys and he walks too many. Yet, he is a young guy with 70 career save and even closed for a very talented Dominican Republic bullpen in the WBC. I think he wants to stay with the Tigers because he (like us) loves Jim Leyland.
36. Yorvit Torrealba
Torrealba seems like one of those late-blooming, defensive catchers who will have a great influence on his teammates. Perhaps, I'm confusing him with someone else, but I'd rather have him than Bengie Molina.
37. Hank Blalock
It seems that Blalock's problems have been with staying healthy. Since moving to DH, his health has improved and the production (at least against RHP) has been valuable. He's like a younger, and less accomplished Jim Thome. I wouldn't mind it if my favorite American League team gave him $5 million and 400 AB's as a DH.
38. Kelvim Escobar
The comeback trail is a long and filthy road for some. In the past few years, Kelvim Escobar has spent enough time in trainer's rooms and rehab sessions to last five careers. Everyone prefers a healthy arm to one with injury history, but sometimes I feel like guys who've been out for so long, but haven't lost their velocity, are due and will finally have a great year.
39. Placido Polanco
Talk is he might move to 3rd base, but I don't see him improving on his power. How much longer can this guy remain effective in the batter's box?
40. Marlon Byrd
Byrd's stock is at an all-time high after banging 20 HR's last season. Unfortunately for him, he is only good in Texas' ballpark, as his Home/Road OPS shows: .873/.740.
41. Carl Pavano
I really do not like Carl Pavano, but he proved last year that he can be effective when motivated.
42. Bengie Molina
Molina will probably never bat cleanup again and probably won't even get 400 AB's again. But, he could be a good mentor for a young catcher, cough, cough, Buster Posey.
43. Jarrod Washburn
Last year showed that Washburn can be good in a big ballpark with excellent outfield defense. Unfortunately for Washburn, dozens of fly-ball pitchers fall into that category.
44. Chan Ho Park
His value remains only if he stays in the bullpen. There have been rumblings out of Park's camp that he wants to start again, but that would be about as effective as having Mike Harkey start games for the Yankees.
45. Darren Oliver
Oliver reinvented himself once focusing on the bullpen. He was almost out of the game a couple of years ago, but now he is eagerly anticipating a large payday as a free agent. He may be able to get a Grabow contract, but regardless I expect him to return to the Halos.
46. Jim Thome
All DH all the time. I hope he doesn't have to retire, but he may have to follow the footsteps of Frank Thomas and get his Hall of Fame speech ready.
47. Pedro Feliz
Feliz couldn't hit when he was a young player. The fact that he can still play above average defense at the hot corner means that he will find work somewhere. His World Series ring and "leadership"/"intangibles" will make him more appealing to someone.
48. Aubrey Huff
Huff was so bad for the Tigers, that he might be forced into an early retirement. Seriously.
49. Randy Wynn
Wynn is not going back to San Francisco, but who's going to throw away over 3 million dollars per year to sign him? His power has disappeared. His Career Homerun to Flyball percentage is 7.8%, and that is AFTER last season's HR/FB% of 1.4%.
50. Adam Everett
Some team is going to give Everett a million bucks to play gold glove shortstop. Unfortunately, he's better suited for the American League because he's too weak a hitter to combine with a pitcher.
So, that rounds out our Top 50. Anyone we left out? Let us know in the comments section. Any Mark Hendrickson fans out there? Ronnie Belliard? Who's overhyped? Who are the best bargains out there? As we said before Happy Thanksgiving!
Friday, November 13, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
The Early Story
"How about a shout out for Tommy Manzella of Tulane fame. Finally made it to the show and got a hit in his first at bat. Rumor has it that he might be Adam Everett 2.0" -- Brillian Reader Osh - Sept 17, 2009
"GM Ed Wade when asked about Tejada: “At this point, we’re prepared to commit to Tommy Manzella playing shortstop." Tejada could return at 3B" -- the Twittering thumbs of Brian McTaggart - Nov 6, 2009
More Wade, via McTaggart: "Tommy is ready to play in the big leagues, and we think Miggy is capable of playing third base. That's been discussed last year, and we didn't feel it was right to make the move at that point in time. [Geoff] Blum was playing well at third and did a good job and Miggy was doing well at shortstop. It didn't make sense to walk down that path last year." - Nov 6, 2009
According to the Tulane Official Athletic Site, Thomas Samuel Manzella, Jr. was born in New Orleans and sports a hometown of Chalmette, Louisiana. While Tommy was conceivably growing up in Chalmette, the town hosted what I can say with experience was one of the most unique and colorful Mardi Gras parades, Shangri-LA. The Mystic Krewe of Shangri-LA become such a hit in the late 1990's that they were invited to move the parade to New Orleans. With the tough economic times, they had to scale back this year to an "Imperial Stroll" through the French Quarter. If any of our readers have the crazy idea of attending another Mardi Gras, see if Shangri-LA coincides with your trip. The true spirit of Mardi Gras should be firmly embraced by this krewe.
Where were we? Oh yeah, well Manzella was a terrific student and he hit .360 with 3 HR's in his Senior Year. That is showing no power.
His Freshman season at Tulane produced an empty .296 batting average. He only managed 8 walks in 192 plate appearances, again flashing no power with only 6 doubles, 3 triples, & 3 HR's. Tommy did not steal bases particularly well, with 4 steals in 7 attempts.
The next three seasons at Tulane were more impressive. For three straight seasons, from 2003 - '05, NCAA pitchers could not seem to cool him down. His worst batting average those seasons was .311, and he muscled up to hit 80 extra base hits. He never raised his proclivity to walk to an acceptable level, as his college career high of 20 walks came his Senior year in over 310 plate appearances.
I want Tommy to be a good major leaguer, but minor league slash numbers of .268/.321/.374 do not lead to great hitting success in the major leagues. Other than showing more doubles power and having sporadic success on the basepaths, Manzella's numbers never suggested adjustments in his hitting approach for improved plate discipline. He even showed less ability to avoid strikeouts as a professional, with a couple of alarming campaigns with 80 and 99 strikeouts.
Indications scream that Manzella will be given a chance at the everyday job for Brad Mills' 2010 Houston Astros. Defensive metrics aren't so available at the minor league level, but you'd think that a guy who can't hit minor league pitching with authority would be a great defensive player. When considering that Manzella is an old rookie, at 27 years old in 2010, a projection of Adam Everett 2.0 may be considered Tommy Manzella's best-case scenario.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
And the best game finishing pitcher of all time brought the parade to a close. With all respect for Matsui, Rivera is our pick for 2009 World Series MVP. As Harry would say, "They're DANCING in the streets of Panama City."