Thursday, December 6, 2012

Last Night of Winter Meetings

This can be one of the best nights of the offseason. The following is our attempt to document the evening for posterity. 

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According to this Jeff Wilson piece in the Fort Worth Star Telegram, Nolan Ryan thinks there's a chance the Rangers could sign Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton. Needless to say, that would be an offseason coup on par with the Angels landing C.J. Wilson and Albert Pujols last season. Of course, the cautionary tale is that the Angels were left on the outside looking in at the postseason a couple of months ago.

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Jeff Keppinger signed with the White Sox this morning. There were whispers the Yankees offered more, but Jack Curry of YES Network tweeted that the Yankees neither made an offer for Keppinger nor Eric Chavez, who signed with the Diamondbacks.

Although Brian Cashman would never appear this way, the Yankees are desperate for a third baseman. They must operate under the assumption that Alex Rodriguez will miss the entire 2012 season, since even the most optimistic outlooks have Arod playing less than 80 games this season. Unfortunately for the Bronx Bombers, options available in trades or the free agent market are underwhelming. Would they look at signing   Kevin Youkilis, knowing that he's expensive and also dealing with the physical limitations of a 30-something? Could the artist formerly known as Scott Rolen get it together for another 400 quality plate appearances? The Padres can get more for Chase Headley from other teams, besides the Yankees. Mike Olt, the Rangers prospect, is an available free agent, but the Yankees want someone who can flourish right now, not learn on the job in 2013. How would Yankee fans feel about going through the Luis Valbuena experience? Mark Reynolds? I'm beginning to think the Yankees will end up with Mark Reynolds. They are reportedly interested in Jack Hannahan. This section has no punchline.

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The Mariners signed Jason Bay, reportedly to a seven-figure salary. What home ballpark is worse for a right-handed hitter like Jason Bay? Here's a guy who flourished in Fenway and slumped in Citi. According to this Baseball America study on 3-year Park Factor splits, Fenway Park is the best ballpark in baseball for right-handed hitters' Batting Average, On Base Percentage, Slugging Percentage, and Batting Average on Balls in Play. Citi Field is the worst ballpark for right handed hitters Home Run rates. Why would Jason Bay go to Safeco, which ranks lowest in terms of right-handed hitters OBP and Isolated Power? Wouldn't it have made more sense for him to rebuild his value by taking less money in a situation conducive to smacking a few more extra-base hits? It's likely that he had no other options, but if that's the case, why would the Mariners pay so much salary? At least, for Bay's sake, he's not going back to San Diego.

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God Help Rany Jazayerli. The rumor that his Royals might, as Jim Bowden put it: "be willing to go to third year w Ryan Dempster @ $13m per yr" has Rany's blood pressure rising. What's worse, the talk that Kansas City is looking to trade top hitting prospect Wil Myers for James Shields have him, understandably, on edge. Two expensive years of James Shields is not as valuable as six bargain years of Wil Myers. That point alone has most Royals fans seeking comfort in other places, especially when scribes, like Bob Dutton and Jon Heyman mention that the Royals are deciding on how much more they are willing to give up for Shields. It's an exciting time to be a Rays fan!

The best player acquired this Winter may be Wil Myers

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The Angels signed Joe Blanton, noted innings and eclair eater, to a 2-yr / $16m deal. They have room for Blanton and Greinke, with a rotation of Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, the newly acquired Tommy Hanson, and a couple of spots where they'd like to upgrade over Garret Richards and Jerome Williams. Angels fans better pray they team is not settling for just Blanton and rolling with those homies.

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In another example of The Cubs Now Know What They're Doing, they won the "bidding war" on Nate Schierholtz, with a 1-year contract for $2.25 million, plus incentives. We heard he had an offer from another team in the 2-yr/$5m range, but he chose to go the 1-yr route, looking for a bigger payday next winter, presumably after a nice season in 2013. In the current economics of baseball, there are no bad 1-yr contracts. Much like signing Scott Feldman and Scott Baker, if Shierholtz proves valuable, the Cubs could fetch a decent return for him in a July trade.

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The estimable Ben Badler tweeted out this evening that he'd been hearing "Rule 5 chatter on Rays LHP Braulio Lara. Would bet he gets popped tomorrow http://t.co/AsTZkzMk"

The statistics in that link, show a rough season for Lara in 2012. Interest must be coming more on the scouting than stats side on this guy.

One Rule 5 guy who looks like a better bet to stick around the big leagues next year could be James Simmons, who pitched pretty well across Double and Triple A in Oakland's system this year.

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Carrie Muskat reported earlier that "Teams have approached #Cubs about acquiring No. 2 pick in Rule 5 Draft tomorrow. Hoyer says they'll study options tonight"

My first instinct was to think, "nothing like cramming!" In reality, though, the importance of up-to-the-minute data, insights, and ever changing circumstances make last-minute evaluations critical to tomorrow's Rule 5  decisions.

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John Arguello, who does great work over at Cubs Den, is leaning towards the hope that the Cubs draft Braulio Lara. His statistics do not jump off the page in a good way, but as Arguello put it here: "Lara is a rare commodity in that he's a LHP who can hit the high 90s. He's pitched well in relief this offseason but there's nothing to say the can't return to starting down the road. The potential is there for 3 pitches."

When you put it that way, let's take our chances on Lara!

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In spite of late night rumblings that the Phillies are about to get even older, by trading for Michael Young, this seems like as good a time as any to call it a night!

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