Wednesday, December 30, 2009

DeRosa to SF and the Mets FINALLY make a splash

Two teams finally made moves this past week in signing much needed free-agent talent. The San Francisco Giants signed Mark DeRosa and the New York Mets signed Jason Bay. Let me touch on the DeRosa move first.

The Giants signed utility player Mark DeRosa to a 2-year 12 million dollar deal that will place DeRosa primarily at 3B. Now as I've told my friend Justin many times, that the Giants need a power bat to compliment Pablo Sandoval. Sorry to say that DeRosa does not provide that bat. But he provides something else. Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle describes as DeRosa as "He is going to be, as it turns out, a mega-Juan Uribe with a slightly more selective eye - put in any number of positions to protect and defend whatever offense the Giants have in them. He'll be a principal part of Bruce Bochy's daily Rubik's Cube lineup game, morphed around Pablo Sandoval in an attempt to reduce the automatic outs from a lineup that has teemed with them". To read more of Ray Ratto's article click here

DeRosa is currently 35 years old and recovering from wrist surgery. Last season with both the Cleveland Indians and St. Louis Cardinals, DeRosa had an combined average of .250 in 139 games where he had 129 hits (23 2B, 1 3B, 23 HR) and 87 RBI. DeRosa struck out 121 times and walked 47 times, had an OBP% of .319 and a SLG% of .433 for an OPS of .799 and a fielding percentage of 1.000 with no errors at a total of 6 positions (LF/RF/CF/1B/2B/3B). So he's not the second coming of Barry Bonds, but what DeRosa brings to the table is a veteran who can play almost anywhere on the field which gives the Giants more depth that they have had in the last few years. Financially he's not too much of a burden on the Giants who seem to be reluctant to pursue big name free-agents since the Barry Zito signing. We'll see how this signing plays out for the pitching rich Giants.

To all my friends who are Mets fans out there you can all now breathe a little easier. I guess the Mets still do have some money to spend. Announced yesterday on SNY, the Mets signed OF Jason Bay to a 4-year 66 million dollar contract with a vesting option for a fifth year pending the passing of a physical examination by Bay. As you can see by the photo, the Mets previously had Bay in their farm system, having traded him to San Diego in 2002 in the deal that brought Steve Reed and Jason Middlebrook to the Mets. So what does this mean for the Mets. Bay brings a solid bat to a lineup that was decimated by injuries this past year. Bay hit for an average of .267 in 151 games where he had 142 hits (29 2B, 3 3B, 36 HR) and 119 RBI. Bay struck out 162 times and walked 94 times, had an OBP% of .384 and a SLG% of .537 for an OPS of .921 and a fielding percentage of 1.000 with no errors in the field. The Mets get not only a bat to protect David Wright in the lineup but also a player who plays with injuries unlike the complaints that were heard by the Mets faithful concerning a number of their players who spent considerable time on the disabled list. Bay is also a solid fielder who will release the pressure that the Mets' pitching staff have dealt with in seasons past due to shoddy defense. This signing brings up another question. Why didn't Boston resign Bay.

To hear some Red Sox fans that I know, they spoke of Bay as if he was the second coming of Ted Williams. Bay suitably filled the void left in both the lineup and the field with the trading of Manny Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The "Anti-Manny" was beloved by the Red Sox nation so why wasn't he resigned. Amelie Benjamin of the Boston Globe states that "In his year and a half in Boston, Bay hit .274 with 45 home runs and 156 RBIs, including a .267 average with 36 homers and 119 RBIs in 2009, Bay also struck out 213 times in 715 at-bats and was extremely streaky last season at the plate". Bay's health seemed to be the sticking point along with his demand for a guaranteed 5th year which the Red Sox were hesitant to offer. I firmly believe that Mike Cameron can't replace Jason Bay in the lineup. Cameron is a decent player but Bay was a perfect fit for the Red Sox even with his hot and cold streaks. He'll surely be missed by Red Sox nation. To read more of Amelie Benjamin's article click here.

In a separate move, the Mets signed RHP Kelvim Escobar. Escobar has had an injury plagued last two seasons with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Escobar missed the entire 2008 season and pitched only 5 innings this past season. By signing Escobar to a 1-year deal, it looks like he'll be a possible 8th inning setup man to his former Angels teammate Francisco Rodriguez. Escobar last pitched in 2007 where he finished 18-7 with a 3.40 ERA as a starter.

The Mets also plan on signing C Benjie Molina formerly of the San Francisco Giants and RHP Joel Piñeiro formerly of the St. Louis Cardinals. I think the Mets need more than these two players to claim a successful offseason. But there really isn't much left out there that the Mets can sign. I'll wait to see what else the Mets do before deciding if the preseason was successful or not.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Vasquez/Cabrera Trade and Nick Johnson's Return to NYC

So after a week of pondering the trade between the New York Yankees and the Atlanta Braves here goes my take. First the trade: the Yankees send OF Melky Cabrera, RHP Mike Dunn and LHP Arodys Vizcaino (along with cash considerations) for P Javier Vazquez and RHP Boone Logan. Now anyone that knows me has heard me say that outfielders are a dime-a-dozen. Only a choice few like the Angels Torii Hunter and the Mariners Ichiro Suzuki not fall under that category. That doesn't mean that I'm not without emotion with this trade.

As much as I feel that you can easily replace outfielders, a home grown player is ideal. Cabrera was exactly that. In prior posts I said that the Yankees outfield was complete with Cabrera, Granderson and Swisher with Gardner as the backup. But knowing how much of a premium starting pitching is I see the value of trading for Javier Vazquez. Though to Yankees fans like myself, the last image of Vazquez in pinstripes was of the 6 RBI scored by Johnny Damon in the game 7 of the 2004 ALCS. Melky Cabrera had an average of .274 in 154 games where he had 133 hits (28 2B, 1 3B, 13 HR) and 68 RBI. Cabrera struck out 59 times and walked 44 times, had an OBP% of .336 and a SLG% of .416 for an OPS of .752 and a fielding percentage of .990 with only 3 errors. I loved the infectious energy that Melky brought to the team but in the game of baseball, there are only a few players that are truly untouchable. With Cabrera at the age of 24 the Yankees trade a potential superstar in the making and two minor league pitchers.

In return for Cabrera, the Yankees get Vazquez, with a 15-10 record with an ERA of 2.87. with 181H, 75 Runs (70 earned runs) 238 K's 46 BB(2 IBB) for a WHIP of 1.026. The Yankees also get Boone Logan who with the Atlanta Braves was 1-1 with an ERA of 5.19 with 21H, 12 Runs (10 earned runs), 10 K's 12 BB (3 IBB) for a WHIP of 1.731. Vazquez brings to the Yankees a starting pitcher who will compliment C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettite and match up solidly with the Boston foursome of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka. The trade also gives the Yankees the option of making either Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes the permanent 8th inning option or the 5th starter. Logan replaces the traded Phil Coke in the Yankees bullpen.

In a separate move, the Yankees signed 1B Nick Johnson who with the Washington Nationals and Florida Marlins in 2009 hit for an average of .291 in 133 games where he had 133 hits (24 2B, 2 3B, 8 HR) and 62 RBI. Johnson struck out 84 times and walked 99 times, had an OBP% of .428 and a SLG% of .520 for an OPS of .942 and a fielding percentage of .989 with 12 errors. I've always said that I hated to see Nick Johnson traded to the Montreal Expos prior to the 2004 season (along with Juan Rivera and Randy Choate for Javier Vazquez). I always believed that the Yankees were better off resigning Tino Martinez after the 2001 season and having Johnson apprentice under him than signing Jason Giambi. If Johnson stays healthy, he gives the Yankees depth not only off the bench at 1st, but also at the plate as a DH who fits the profile of the patient Yankees hitters. But staying healthy is the key. I'm not sure if the trade for Cabrera opens the door for Johnny Damon's return but if his agent is willing to lower his demand... We'll see.


Friday, December 18, 2009

The Milton Bradley Circus Moves to a New Town

So the Milton Bradley era is over in Chicago. I can assume that the fans of the lovable losers are dancing in the snowy streets of Chicago's Northside. I think the Chicago Sun-Times sports website heading for the announcement of the trade says it best "Cubs unload Milton Bradley on Mariners for pitcher Carlos Silva". (Photo Credit: AP Photo)

So I guess filling a need in LF is more important that the negative effect that Milton Bradley will bring to Seattle. And he will bring the negativity. Why would we believe otherwise. He's done it in all his previous stops. Even in Texas, where it was minimal (at least for Bradley) he was still a distraction. But in Bradley's case, his numbers often cloud the issue for those signing him.

For example, the Cubs could have resigned Jim Edmonds for a reasonable amount to play OF for the Cubbies. But instead, they chose to sign free agent Bradley to a 3-year 29 million dollar deal to raised eyebrows of Cubs fans. Whether the problems with Bradley and the Wrigley faithful were attributed to one side or the other at this point is irrelevant, Bradley's attitude and reputation once again rose to the forefront over his talent. Don't get me wrong, the man is talented.

In 10 seasons, Bradley is a career .277 switch-hitter with a career best 2007 (with the Rangers) where he posted a batting average of .328 with 22HR, 77RBI, 32 Doubles and an OBP% of .436 and a SLG% .563 for a total OPS of .999. For the Mariners, the numbers speak for themselves as Bradley fits a need in the lineup as well as in the field. As the article in the Seattle Times sports website states:

Zduriencik (Mariners GM) sees Bradley as a middle-of-the-order bat who will see time at both left field and DH. We've told you for some time the M's have looked for a righthanded bat to play in left field -- everyone from Mike Cameron, to Jason Bay to Johnny Damon, etc. -- and now, they've got a switch-hitter as their man at substantially lesser cost than any of those options. Bradley is a better right handed hitter, posting an .806 OPS vs. .764 as a lefty last season and a .993 vs. .863 the past three years (though the majority of his ABs came from the left side. In other words, he's capable of being an everyday player with good platoon splits.)

On the Chicago side, in return for Bradley, they receive right-handed sinkerball pitcher Carlos Silva. Silva is a career 60-64 with a career 4.72 ERA who has struggled since signing a four-year, $48 million deal with Seattle before the 2008 season. Silva has has $25 million left on his deal. Bradley has the same two years, at $22 million left on his contract. To round out the trade, Seattle includes $3 million in the trade up front with another $6 million to come over the next two seasons.

So the Mariners will bank that their "Positive Environment" will be the key to Bradley's temperament and production. Here's to hoping that maybe Bradley can change. I wouldn't bet on it. But in the game of baseball, who knows.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

California Dreamin'...or is it

It seems to me that California baseball is truly in a funk. Where it looked like in years past that teams like the Angels and the Dodgers made important moves in the offseason, they now seem to have let the Jones' pass them by rather than keeping up with them. Let's take each team individually.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
I know I spoke about the Angels in yesterday's post and I apologize for rehashing but I'm still amazed that the Angels let both Lackey and Halliday slip away. We may have seen Lackey's exit from Anaheim quite clearly on screen when Sciosica took Lackey out kicking and screaming during Game 5 of the ALCS. It just seemed that the Angels did nothing to retain the services of its ace similar to the manner that they did nothing to retain the services of their previous closer, Francisco Rodriguez. I can see letting injury prone Lackey go if the Angels figured prominently to acquire Roy Halliday from the Blue Jays. But after all the rumors and speculation the Angels were left holding an empty sack while their division rivals, the Seattle Mariners improve significantly with the aquisition of Cliff Lee, the signing of Chone Figgins and the ability to sign Jason Bay.

Los Angeles Dodgers
There is certainly an air of forboding covering Chavez Ravine. The martial issues of the McCourt family have left the Dodgers in limbo. Losing Randy Wolf to the Brewers (3-years 29.75 million) without a peep in negotiations or arbitration means that they get nothing back from the Brewers, It also means that there is a big hole in the rotation that contains Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsly and Hideki Kuroda. The rumors have mentioned Yankees castoff Chien Ming Wang as a potential addition to the rotation. But will the Dodgers get the two-time 19 game winner or the two-time season ending injury pitcher. The Dodgers also traded OF Juan Pierre to the Chicago White Sox for two prospects to be named later. The Dodgers will also pay 8 million of the 18.5 that is owed to Pierre. Maybe the prospects will become major leaguers but it seems to be that the team is just idling making small moves to just stay on the radar..

The San Francisco Giants
My friend Justin says (in much more colorful language) that the Giants are sitting around doing nothing and I agree with him. Aside from the bright spots of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Pablo Sandoval the Giants are very mediocre. The team can pitch but is hard pressed to score runs. Whatever supporting punch they had with Sandoval is all gone with the free agent departures of Juan Uribe and Ryan Garko. What I thought would have been a good fit is no longer available. I believed that 3B Pedro Feliz (who signed with the Houston Astros for 1-year 4.5 Million) would have provided an economical bat to play along side Sandoval who could move to 1B. If the Giants wanted to keep Sandoval at 3B, they could go after free agent 1B Nick Johnson who (if healthy) can provide not a power bat in the lineup but a steady and reliable hitter. At the very least, the Giants should make a run for 3B Adrian Beltre before the Red Sox snap him up. But it seems that the Giants are content with just sitting by and see what players happens to fall in their lap..

San Diego Padres
After a 70-92 last place finish in the N.L. West and a season that saw ace Jake Peavy traded to the Chicago White Sox there's really not much more to say about the Padres. Most of the news surrounding the Friars concerns the potential trades of 1B Adrian Gonzalez and 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff. Though all the news coming out of San Diego is negative. The Padres did resign their best starter, Kevin Correia to a 1-year deal worth 3.6 million. Correia led the team with 12 wins and 190 innings pitched. It seems that the Padres will continue to utilize their farm and keep the team young and energetic. But will the youthful exuberance be enough to retain the look of the team that finished the season 37-25 or will they go through the bumps and growing pains that a young team tends to go through.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Big Baseball Day on 12-14-2009

So there was a tremendous amount of activity in the landscape of MLB. Here are my impressions of the important points:

The Philadelphia Phillies
It seems to me that the Phillies trade of Cliff Lee for Roy Halliday doesn't solve a thing for the Phillies. For arguments sake, why trade an ace who pitches superbly in Philadelphia. We see what he brings by how he shut down the Dodgers and the Yankees in the last postseason. Maybe by not including Cliff Lee in the deal it becomes an impossible transaction but if you're the Phillies GM, why not take the chance and spend the money to have 3 studs in your starting rotation. Not that the Phillies take a step back by trading Lee for Halliday. Realistically, it was believed that Lee wanted a contract similar to the amounts signed by C.C. Sabathia last season. The Phillies believe that starting pitching over 30 years of age should not be signed for more that 3 years. At 31 years of age, Lee wanting 5 to 6 years in a new contract would not be acceptable to the Phillies.

According to Jayson Stark on, The Phillies would receive Roy Halliday, who would agree to a 3-year extension through 2013, with a vesting option that could lengthen the deal by another year or two, one source said. The extension is expected to guarantee Halladay in the neighborhood of $60 million, plus the $15.75 million he would make in 2010, the final year of his current contract. In turn, the Phillies would send outfielder Michael Taylor, Phillies catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud and a Phils pitcher -- either Kyle Drabek or J.A. Happ -- to Toronto. To finalize the Lee deal with Seattle, the Phillies would receive they would receive Seattle's top pitching prospect, Phillippe Aumont and one other prospect -- believed to be 21-year-old outfielder Tyson Gillies.

The Seattle Mariners
The Mariners sure are making waves this offseason. By shedding 50 million in expiring contracts from the payroll and a determination to reinvest in the team, they show Felix Hernandez their commitment by trading for Cliff Lee and signing Chone Figgins. My prediction is that they will also sign Jason Bay, whose idol Edgar Martinez's name graces the street where Safeco Field is located. By making these moves, the Mariners with their perennial MVP, Ichiro Suzuki leapfrog the Angels as the favorites in the A.L. West. Maybe Ken Griffey Jr., changes his mind and comes back for one more year and a last chance at a ring.

The Boston Red Sox
Boston improves tremendously by signing John Lackey. By adding Lackey to their already formidable rotation of Josh Beckett, John Lester, Daisuke Matsusake, Clay Buchholz and Tim Wakefield the Red Sox remain in the top 3 of American League teams. The Red Sox also signed OF Mike Cameron to a 2-year deal. The big question for the Bosox is how do you replace Jason Bay. As I predicted, he'll be going to Seattle. By trading Mike Lowell to the Texas Rangers, 3B is opened for free agent Adrian Beltre. I think the best course of action for the Red Sox is to resign Bay, move Youkilis to 3B and sign Nick Johnson to platoon at 1B with Victor Martinez when he gets a breather from behind the plate. By Varitek taking his option, it muddled things up a bit since as Captain he'll get his fair share behind the plate. But Martinez is the catcher of the future for Boston. Depending on how Ortiz plays this year, maybe Varitek can DH more letting Martinez to get his playing time behind the plate.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
I have one thing to say to Arte Moreno, owner of the Angels. Que haces con su equipo hermano (What are you doing with your team brother). So you let Lackey, Figgins and Guerrero walk. You fail to trade for Halliday thereby falling to second best in the A.L. West. Where's the aggressiveness that allowed you to sign free agents in years past like Torii Hunter. I expected more from the Angels, but things are not all negative for the Angelinos. They resigned Bobby Abreu who was pivotal in their run into the ALCS. Also, rumor has it that the Angels will sign Hideki Matsui for 1 year 6.5 million dollars to replace Vlad at DH. At this stage of the game, I believe Matsui is a better hitter than Guerrero since he is a more disciplined batter. Vlad can still scare opposing pitchers but his skills are diminishing and so have the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

If I Was the GM of the New York Yankees

So I had this blog post written up with what I would do if I were the GM of the New York Yankees during this offseason. I was ready to post it when the big 3-team deal was announced involving the Yankees, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Detroit Tigers. So some changes were necessary. I'll post it as I wrote it with the additions reflecting the trade. Here goes.

1. Thank the team for winning the World Series and by default saving my job.

2. Re-sign Andy Pettitte. This more than anything else is the most important thing that is needed by the Yankees this offseason. Pettitte provides a balance in the rotation behind Sabathia and Burnett and a reliable buffer in front of Chamberlain and whomever is the #5 starter. He’s a pitcher that you can count on to give you his all every 5th day and the fact that he wants to pitch in New York is important.

3. Re-sign Hideki Matsui. Never mind his MVP performance in the World Series, I’ve always said that if you were to teach little leaguers the art of playing the game you should start with Matsui. He is the model of professionalism. Matsui never showboats on the field. He never complains at pitches and is respectful of his teammates and opponents alike. Though he has been injured the last few seasons, like Pettitte, he is someone that you can count on to give you all he can when needed.

4. Let Johnny Damon walk/Make Brett Gardner a starter. Well, here the post is changed with the big trade but I’ll give my opinion pre-trade and address the trade at the end. Damon was a big part of the Yankees since he came over from the Red Sox. Similar to Matsui and Pettitte, Damon is a professional who gave his all for the team. Realistically, time and age has started to catch up to him. Though his power seemed to rejuvenate in the new Yankee Stadium and his loss of speed has been minimal his loss of arm strength is a major weakness to both Damon and the Yankees outfield. Opposing players ran at will against Damon on anything hit in the outfield often scoring on plays that Damon would have made 2 seasons ago. Brett Gardner provides similar speed and a developing bat that can more than replace Damon giving the Yankees a younger outfield than they’ve had in a number of years.

5. Resolve the Joba/Hughes rotation/bullpen issue once and for all. I personally believe Joba should be the heir apparent at closer for the Yankees. Having Joba start has tempered his emotions since his fist pumps have virtually become non-existent. His stamina is an issue since it seems as if he loses it after the 5th inning and even though in today’s baseball a 5 inning starter seems more the norm than the exception, the Yankees need someone with more depth as the #4 starter. That’s where Hughes comes in. Though Hughes performed admirably during the season as the 8th inning reliever, his repertoire is wasted in the bullpen. Hughes has 4 or 5 pitches and a nasty curve that when its on, is virtually untouchable. As been mentioned many times, Hughes has the stuff of either a number 1 or 2 and he should be on that path rather than in the bullpen. Damaso Marte should move into the 8th inning role.

6. Let Jose Molina walk/Promote Francisco Cervelli. As well as Molina played for the Yankees the last number of years, its time to promote Cervelli. His youth and exuberance fits the demeanor in the Yankees clubhouse. He’s earned his opportunity to play on the big team by not only his performances with his glove but with his bat. He has a take charge attitude as was seen earlier last season with his dugout interactions with Sabathia, Burnett and Pettitte but he provides the Yankees with a suitable replacement for Posada to get more rest either in the DH slot or an off day.

7. Re-sign Jerry Hairston Jr./promote Shelly Duncan. Duncan in specifically is important, as it seems that he’s wasting his talent away in Scranton-Wilkes Barre. He’d also provide suitable options at both 1st as a backup to Teixiera and in the DH slot and outfield. Hairston also shows his value with his versatility by playing the outfield as well as 2nd, SS and 3rd base.

8. Do not trade for Roy Halliday, or sign Jason Bay, John Lackey and Matt Holliday. Don’t rock the boat and utilize the youth that the team has as was done in previous championship years.

Now, here’s the trade. The Yankees, Tigers and Diamondbacks have agreed on a 3-team 7-player deal that would send to the D-Backs: P Edwin Jackson (DET)and P Ian Kennedy (NYY). The Tigers would get P Max Scherzer (ARI), P Daniel Schlereth (ARI), P Phil Coke (NYY) and OF Austin Jackson (NYY). The Yankees would receive OF Curtis Granderson (DET). Granderson hit .249 with 30 home runs, 71 RBIs and 20 stolen bases in 160 games for the Tigers in 2009 and provides the Yankees with more than enough speed, power and defensive skill to replace Damon. At the age of 29, Granderson is signed for the next 3 years being owed $5.5 million next season, $8.25 million in 2011 and $10 million in 2012. Granderson would take over CF for the Yankees while Melky Cabrera moves to Damon’s old position of LF.

Also the Yankees traded RF Brian Bruney to the Washington Nationals for a player to be named later, showing that the Yankees are making a big effort to change their bullpen for next season.