Monday, December 20, 2010

Grienke Gets Traded

It was reported yesterday by Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that a trade between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Kansas City Royals had been completed. The centerpiece of that deal was the 27-year old 2009 American League Cy Young Award Winner Zack Grienke who had to waive his no-trade option to complete the deal. The Brewers receive Grienke and SS Yuniesky Betancourt. In exchange the Royals get SS Alcides Escobar, CF Lorenzo Cain and pitching prospects Jake Odorizzi, Jeremy Jeffress and $2 million in cash. So what does this trade mean to the two teams.

While the Brewers rotation doesn't have the success of the San Francisco Giants' group of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Johnathan Sanchez and the golden allure of the Philadelphia Phillies rotation of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels, I believe the trade puts the Brewers as the third best rotation in the league. Some Cardinal fans will disagree with me. Granted, do I think that Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter are a better and proved combination compared to Grienke and Yovani Gallardo (who are believed to be the one-two punch for the Milwaukee rotation) but the Brewers signed Shawn Marcum who pitched in the AL East against some of the toughest lineups game in and game out and Randy Wolf is a veteran pitcher that has pitched in many different situations. I believe the trade gives the Milwaukee Brewers a chance to make a serious run on the National League Central Division title with their core group of Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, Casey McGehee and Rickie Weeks. Betancourt is another situation. (GRAPH COURTESY of Anthony Witrado of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

This is his third team in three years (Seattle Mariners 2008-2009, Kansas City Royals 2009-2010) and he has not lived up to the potential take Will McDonald's comments from his article Could 2011 Be Yuniesky Betancourt's Last Year With the Royals? from RoyalsReview.com dated November 28, 2010:

Yuniesky Betancourt's "breakout" year in 2010 took some heat off of the embattled Royals shortstop. I mean, anytime you get a .288 OBP out of a guy over 588 PAs, with horrible defense, you take it. No questions asked. And with a monstrous .400 slugging percentage fueled by a career spike in HR/FB %, you've got a true cornerstone.

Nevertheless, might 2011 be the final year Yuni-bomb spends with the Royals?


Well, we know that he will never get the chance to play in Kansas City for the 2011 season but the projections don't look good. For McDonald to settle for Bentancourt's numbers as a scenario of the "lesser of two evils" says something about Betancourt's playing abilities. Mind you, he was playing for the Royals and McDonald was comparing Betancourt with the rest of the talent at SS with the Royals. The Brewers also re-signed Craig Counsell who provides a dependable security blanket for the team in case Betancourt doesn't work out.

In terms of the Royals, I refer to the wisdom of Joe Posnanski of Sports Illustrated. In his blog post from December 19th simply named The Greinke Trade Posanski had the following to say about the trade:

The Royals got prospects from Milwaukee, but that in and of itself means nothing. See: Prospects mean nothing. Every team has them. The question from Kansas City’s perspective is this: Did they get PLAYERS who can help them win? I have spent the day asking baseball friends that very question. The answers are mixed. This trade, from Kansas City’s perspective, is complicated and foggy and, in the end, probably pretty unsatisfying (if you’re a Royals fan). We’ll get to all that in a minute.

The trade from Milwaukee’s perspective, I think, is easy to categorize. It is glorious. Yes, they did deal four interesting young players — 24-year-old shortstop Alcides Escobar , 25-year-old (in April) centerfielder Lorenzo Cain, 23-year-old reliever Jeremy Jeffress and 21-year-old (in March) pitcher Jake Odorizzi — and yes, they now appear stuck with Yuni Betancourt as their everyday shortstop, and yes, their farm system is now utterly depleted (though I’ll bet they still have 30 prospects in the Baseball America book).


We see what side of the trade Posanski feels benefited from the deal and it is the team from the AL Central. To be perfectly honest, I have no idea who these players are that the Royals received in exchange for Grienke and Betancourt and I'll post Posnanski's review of the players to give you some information on them:

- SS Alcides Escobar: He’s by all accounts a gifted athlete with above-average speed and brilliant defensive ability. There are even those who think that he will eventually hit. He was a good enough prospect last year that the Brewers dealt away J.J. Hardy and made him their everyday shortstop. But in his first year, he did not hit a lick (.235/.288/.326). His 67 OPS+ — well, not many hitters in baseball history have rebounded from that to have a good offensive career. Ozzie Smith did. Terry Pendleton did. Not many others. Escobar also did not put up especially good defensive numbers, if you put any stock in those. The upside for Escobar is as a superior defensive shortstop who will get on base enough to steal bases and be an offensive plus. But that’s certainly no guarantee, and his future is further clouded as numerous scouts question his work ethic and motivation.

- CF Lorenzo Cain: Nobody questions Cain’s motivation; he seems to be a terrific athlete with even better makeup. The two names I heard most often in comparison are Denard Span and Torii Hunter, a couple of Twins centerfielders whom the Royals have jealously gawked at the last few years. Cain, though, turns 25 in April, and his minor league march has been slow and uneven and injury-plagued. He has only played 22 games in Triple-A. He has shown absolutely no power and only average plate discipline. He has the speed and instincts to be a fabulous defensive center fielder, which he could really show off in the enormous outfield at Kauffman Stadium.

- RHP Jeremy Jeffress: has a great arm — he has been clocked at 100, and he works at 94-to-98 mph. His problem has been control — both on and off the field. He has twice been suspended for testing positive for marijuana. You can pass your own judgments on that, but at the very least the second positive test suggests a player who has not taken his career very seriously. One more positive test, and he’s banned for life. And in the minors he walked 188 batters in 306 innings, though his command came on enough in 2010 that one baseball executive said it “improved dramatically.” He appears to be a reliever now — especially because he has not found an effective third pitch. You never know exactly how relievers with great stuff and questionable command will do.

- RHP Jake Odorizzi: is probably not worth spending too much time on right now — he’s still years away. He pitched well in Low A ball, and some of the people I spoke with like him, think he projects as a No. 3 starter. Others aren’t excited by his stuff and think he will struggle as he moves up in competition. There’s no telling for sure with a pitcher in Class A.

So there you go. It seems that in the short term the Brewers are the clear winners in the Grienke trade. They help their team tremendously in trying to win now before they might lose some young hitting due to salary increases. Give credit to Milwaukee's ownership for stepping up and showing its fanbase that it will do what is necessary (within means) to put a winning team on the field. For Kansas City, well lets say that the team is not only far removed from the 83-win season of 2003 but it seems like it is light-years away from the glory years of the mid 1970's to the mid 1980's. We'll see if the additions of Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francouer can at least help keep the Royals competitive this upcoming season.

FH

For Further Reading:
- Click Here for Zack Grienke's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- Click Here for Yuniesky Betancourt's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- Click Here for Alcides Betancourt's career statistics from BaseballCube.com
- Click Here for Lorenzo Cain's career statistics from BaseballCube.com
- Click Here for Jeremy Jeffress' career statistics from BaseballCube.com
- Click Here for Jake Odorizzi's career statistics from BaseballCube.com
- Click Here to access Tom Haudricourt's article Brewers pay high price to nab pitcher Greinke from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel website dated December 19, 2010
- Click Here to access Tom Rosiak's transcript of the interview given by Zack Grienke on meeting the local press dated December 20, 2010
- Click Here to access Joe Posnanski's blogpost The Greinke Trade from SI.com dated December 19, 2010
- Click Here to access Joe Posnanski's follow-up to his article on the Grienke trade called Uh-Oh from SI.com dated December 20, 2010
- Click Here to access Bob Dutton's article Royals trade Grienke to Brewers from the Kansas City Star website dated December 19, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Many Signings and Trades

Since there have been many signings and one trade since I last posted, I'm going to be brief in listing who signed where (former team in parenthesis):

- RP Bobby Jenks (Chicago White Sox) signed a 2-Yr $12 million deal with the Boston Red Sox
- OF Josh Willingham (Washington Nationals) traded to the Oakland Athletics for RP Henry Rodriguez/OF Corey Brown
- RP Kerry Wood (New York Yankees) signed a 1-yr 1.5 million deal pending physical with Chicago Cubs
- IF Tsuyoshi Nishioka (Chiba Lotte Marines) signed a 3-yr $10 million deal with the Minnesota Twins
- SP Chien-Ming Wang re-signed with the Washington Nationals for 1-yr $1 million with incentives to reach $5 million
- OF Maggio Ordoñez re-signed with the Detroit Tigers for 1-yr $10 million
- 1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion re-signed with the Toronto Blue Jays for 1-yr $2.5 million with club option for 2012
- RP Jesse Crain (Minnesota Twins) signed a 3-yr $13 million deal with the Chicago White Sox
- P Rich Harden (Texas Rangers) signed a 1-yr $1.5 million deal with incentives with the Oakland Athletics
- RP Matt Guerrier (Minnesota Twins) signed a 3-yr $12 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers
- C Gerarld Laird (Detroit Tigers) signed a 1-yr $1-million deal with the St. Louis Caardinals
- P Mark Prior signed a minor-league deal with the New York Yankees
- RP Matt Albers (Baltimore Orioles) signed a 1-yr deal with the Boston Red Sox
- IF/OF Xavier Nady (Chicago Cubs) signed a 1-yr deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks
- 1B Lyle Overbay (Toronto Blue Jays) signed a 1-yr deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates
- C Russell Martin (Los Angeles Dodgers) signed a 1-yr deal with the New York Yankees

For these and other signings/trades information click on MLB.com's Fantasy Player News and Updates Webpage

FH

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hideki Matsui and the Oakland A's

With the baseball world starting to settle down from last night's crazy flurry of excitement due to the Cliff Lee drama coming to an end there have been moves to report on. As I alluded to in one of my last posts, one of my all-time favorites would be signing with a new team. Joe Stiglich of the Oakland Tribune reports that the Oakland Athletics will hold a press conference today to announce the signing of their new designated hitter Hideki Matsui.

In 2010 Matsui, formerly of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, batted .274 with 21 HRs and 84 RBI. In 482 at-bats, Matsui had 132 hits (24 2B/1 3B/21 HR) with 98 strikeouts and 67 walks. His OPS was .820 (.361 OBP%/.459 SLG%).

Stiglich makes the following statement about the Matsui signing:

Improving an anemic offense tops the A's priority list, and with Matsui, they finally found a middle-of-the-lineup caliber hitter willing to call the Coliseum home.

How much impact Matsui can make remains to be seen, as he's certainly on the downside of his career. He's hit .290 with 161 homers over eight major league seasons -- the first seven with the New York Yankees. He was 28 when he left Japan to join the Yankees.

One major league scout, who requested anonymity, said Matsui "at one time was a very good player who could do a lot of things. He's not that guy at all anymore."

But Matsui's numbers last season -- a .274 average with 21 homers and 84 RBIs -- represent a significant upgrade over anyone from Oakland's 2010 lineup.


I remember how the Yankees were supposed to get this big slugger from Japan who hit 50 homers in his last season for the Yomiuri Giants of the Nippon Professional Baseball League. In his 10 seasons in Japan, Matsui averaged 32.8 homers a year and was seen as being the next in the line of Bronx Bombers of Yankees lore. But what the Yankees received was something better. Matsui was an all around player who was not just a bopper but a complete hitter. Matsui could drive in runs with timely hits accompanied with the occasional power hit. In 7 seasons with the Yankees, Matsui had four seasons of 100 RBI or more while he only hit a maximum of 31 homers in 2004.

Out of the many moments that stood out for me about Matsui wasn't one at the plate but rather one on the field. This was on May 11, 2006 when Matsui dove for a ball in a game against the Boston Red Sox. In diving for the ball, Matsui broke his left wrist. What impressed me the most was that instead of rolling around in the grass as you'd expect someone to do with an injury of that type was that Matsui finished the play. He caught the ball, threw it back to the infield and then motioned to the bench that he was hurt. A true professional all the way.

I believe that Hideki Matsui will be a positive force for the Oakland A's both on the field and in the clubhouse. He will bring a winning presence to a group of young players who after Cliff Lee signed with the Philadelphia Phillies might just be the favored team in the AL West.

FH

For Further Reading
- Click Here to access Hideki Matsui's career NPB and MLB statistics from the BaseballCube.com

- Click Here to access the Hideki Matsui page from JapaneseBallplayers.com
- Click Here to access Joe Stiglich's article Former Yankees and Angels slugger Hideki Matsui to sign with the Oakland A's from the Oakland Tribune's website dated December 14, 2010
- Click Here to access Susan Slusser's article A's, Hideki Matsui agree to 1-year deal from the San Francisco Chronicle website dated December 14, 2010
- Click Here for an interesting About.com page on the wrist injury sustained by Hideki Matsui in May of 2006

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cliff Lee signs with the Philadelphia Phillies

The Baseball side of the Twitter universe blew up with the news from MLB.com writer T.R. Sullivan and Joel Sherman of the New York Post that The Philadelphia Phillies have signed free agent pitcher Cliff Lee to a 5-year $100 Million-ish deal. Sherman on his twitter feed says that Lee was offered by the Yankees:

#Yankees offered Lee $23m for 6 yrs ($138M) plus a $16m option for a total of $154M over 7 yrs

So obviously his signing with the Phillies wasn't about the money. This makes the Phillies rotation look as such: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels. Simply amazing.

UPDATED 12/14/2010 1:40am

T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports that:

The Rangers' last offer was for $138 million over six years with an option for a seventh season.

So both the Yankees and the Rangers offered the same base salaries through the actual amounts that Lee could have earned would have depended on the tax rates he would have had to pay. In the end Lee agreed to a five-year deal with a vesting option for a sixth season that could bring the total to $120 million. Lee apparently took less years and less money to re-sign with the Phillies.

As I said before, Simply amazing.

FH

- Click Here for the AP report of Cliff Lee's signing with the Phillies from the Philadelphia Daily News website
- Click Here for T.R. Sullivan's article Phillies swoop in and bring back Lee from MLB.com dated Deember 14, 2010
- Click Here for Alden Gonzalez's article Yanks miss out on Lee as lefty heads to Philly from MLB.com dated December 14, 2010

More Signings to Report

Since the end of the Winter Meetings down in Orlando, a bunch of new signings have been announced. Here goes:

- Scott Downs to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
According to Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim signed relief pitcher Scott Downs to a 3-year $15 million dollar deal. in 2010 Downs, formerly of the Toronto Blue Jays, compiled a 5-5 record with a 2.64 ERA in 61.1 innings pitched. In 67 appearances for the Blue Jays, Downs struck out 48, while walking 14 and giving up 47 hits for a WHIP of 0.995.

Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times describes the signing as being one that:

adds balance and depth to the bullpen and probably ends speculation the Angels are pursuing free-agent closer Rafael Soriano...Downs has been one of baseball's most dependable relievers over the last four seasons, compiling a 2.36 ERA, the fifth-lowest mark among relievers, and 84 holds in 262 appearances.

Consider now that the Angels have a good left right combination in the bullpen with Downs and Takahashi. This gives them an advantage leading up to the 8th without a real closer to finish off the game. Maybe they will make a move for Rafael Soriano for that role.

- Click Here for Scott Downs' career statistics from Baseball Reference.com

- Jay Bruce signs an extension with the Cincinnati Reds
According to Jerry Krasnick of ESPN.com, the Cinicinnati Reds have signed OF Jay Bruce to a 6-year $51 million dollar extension with a club option for a 7th year.

In 2010, Bruce hit .281 with 25 HRs and 70 RBI. In 509 at-bats, Bruce had 143 hits (23 2B/5 3B/25 HR) with 136 strikeouts, 58 walks and 5 stolen bases. His OPS was .846 (.353 OBP%/.493 SLG%). Defensively, Bruce made only 3 errors in the outfield with 7 assists for a fielding percentage of .992.

In three seasons with the Reds, Bruce has improved in each year and at the age of 23, teamed up with NL MVP Joey Votto, the Reds' fortunes seem to be very bright.

- Click Here to access Jay Bruce's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com

- Miguel Olivo Returns to the Seattle Mariners
According to Goeff Baker on his Twitter feed:

Olivo confirms 2-yr, $7 million with M's. Says he's been told he's No. 1 catcher.

In 2010, Miguel Olivo, formerly of the Colorado Rockies, batted .269 with 14 Hrs and 58 RBI. In 394 at-bats Olivo had 106 Hits (17 2B/6 3B/14 HR) with 117 strikeouts and 27 walks. His OPS was .765 (.315 OBP%/.449 SLG%). Defensively, Olivo had 9 errors behind the plate for a .990 fielding percentage and he threw out 42% of runners who tried to steal on him (33 of 45).

Having previously played for Seattle for parts of the 2004 and 2005 seasons, it is believed by Goeff Baker that:

(Seattle Catching prospect Adam)Moore's status remains a mystery. He does have minor-league options left, and the team could -- in theory -- trade Olivo at midseason if Moore suddenly breaks out.

But team officials, while not saying so publicly, are clearly concerned about the ability of Moore to lead the team behind the plate going forward.


Will we see a scenario reminiscent of the Bengie Molina/Buster Posey dynamic in San Francisco? We'll have to wait and see.

- Click Here to access Miguel Olivo's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com

- Melky Cabrera signs with the Kansas City Royals
Dick Kaegel of MLB.com reports that Melky Cabrera has signed a 1-year $1.25 million dollar deal with the Kansas City Royals. With Cabrera's signing with the Royals, he was immediately made the team's center fielder to play alongside Jeff Francouer, the team's other free-agent signing.

During the 2010 season with the Atlanta Braves, Cabrera hit .255 with 4 HRs and 42 RBI. In 458 at-bats Cabrera had 117 hits (27 2B/3 3B/4 HR) with an impressive 64 strikeouts to 42 walks with 7 stolen bases (out of 8 attempts). His OPS was .671 (.317 OBP%/.354 SLG%). Defensively, Melky made only 4 errors while playing all three outfield positions with 8 assists for a fielding percentage of .982.

I'm not sure why Cabrera was let go by the Braves. Maybe he just didn't live up to the numbers that he put up while playing for the New York Yankees from 2005-2009. Its possible that a return to the American League will help his numbers return to form. Melky is a dynamic player who I believe will only aid the Royals.

- Click Here for access to Melky Cabrera's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com

Ok folks, that's all for now. I believe that I'll have a post possibly tomorrow concerning one of my favorite players of all-time: Hideki Matsui. Looks like Godzilla will find a new city to destroy.

FH

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Baltimore and Minnesota trade players

According to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun the Minnesota Twins and the Baltimore Orioles have made a multi-player trade. The Twins shipped infielders J.J. Hardy, Brendan Harris and $500,000 in cash to the Orioles for minor league relievers James Hoey and Brett Jacobson.

In 2010 Hardy hit .268 with 6 HRs and 38 RBI. In 340 at-bats Hardy had 91 hits (19 2B/3 3B/6 HR) with 54 strikeouts and 28 walks. Defensively, Hardy had 11 errors for a fielding percentage of .972. Harris hit .157 with 1 HR and 4 RBI while playing 1B/3B/2B/SS/DH for the Twins.

According to Connolly:
Hoey, a 27-year-old right hander, had a combined 6-0 record with a 3.25 ERA in 42 outings between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk. He made 35 appearances for the Orioles during the 2006 and 2007 seasons, going 3-5 with an 8.13 ERA. He missed all of 2008 with a right shoulder injury. The Orioles drafted him in the 13th round of 2003. He was put back on the 40-man roster earlier this offseason.

Jacobson, 24, went 8-1 with a 2.79 ERA in 34 relief appearances for Single-A Frederick. He was dealt to the Orioles in August 2009 in the trade that sent Aubrey Huff to the Detroit Tigers.


In terms of what the deal looks like for the Twins along with the anticipated signing of Japanese infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka, La Velle E. Neal III of the Minnesota Star-Tribune gives his views on the deal:

1. Nishioka can play: One NL East scout saw Nishioka late in the season and called him another Kaz Matusi, which isn't good. But others think he can play in the majors.

2. Casilla will hold down a spot. It's time for Casilla to prove he can be an every day player. I will say this, Casilla might need a hug sometimes instead of tough love if he makes a mistake in the field.

Injuires to either player puts Matt Tolbert or Trevor Plouffe in the lineup.

The benefits are that the Twins have better speed and a tad more range up the middle. The money they save should help them re-sign Carl Pavano. And they get two hard throwers in Hoey and Jacobson. They also rid themselves of Harris and $1.75 million.

If Hoey and Nishioka perform well,it's a good deal. Hoey needs to throw more strikes

An interesting point-of-view on the Twins side of the trade comes from Jesse of the Twinkietown.com website:

But the money isn't for Hardy. The money is for Brendan Harris; about one third of what he'll be paid in 2011.

Instead, this is a deal about Hardy and the two arms the Twins are receiving in return: Brett Jacobson and Jim Hoey. Two career minor leaguers, two power arms, two guys who aren't getting paid more than the Major League minimum. Hoey, who will be the one who plays for the Twins if either of them do, offers a mid to upper-90s fastball as well as a changeup and slider. We talked this morning about his strikeout track record in the minor leagues: it's amazing. It looks like it's Anthony Slama-type amazing, but they're good numbers nevertheless. Jacobson, meanwhile, is projectable but 24 and about to pitch in double-A for the first time.

It's obvious that the Twins didn't like something about Hardy. If I can make it ever more plain: the Twins just didn't value Hardy. As an organization, they were clearly looking at the future and decided that Hardy wasn't going to be in their plans beyond 2011.


I'm not sure my friend Topper from Curve for a Strike blogpage would agree with this assessment. As it is he says on his Facebook page: Nothing really leads me to believe that either Alexi Casilla or Tsuyoshi Nishioka will be better than JJ Hardy this year. I don't think I'm on board with this move...

First things first Nishioki needs to be signed by the Twins. Rumors has it that Nishioki is on his way to the Twin Cities for his physical so the signing is imminent. Whether or not this signing benefits the Twins.

FH

For Further Reading
- Click Here for access to J.J. Hardy's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- Click Here for access to Brenden Harris' career statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- Click Here for James Hoey's career statistics from BaseballCube.com
- Click Here for Brett Jacobson's career statistics from BaseballCube.com

Carl Crawford signs with the Boston Red Sox

Scratch one big name free agent off of the list. Ian Browne of MLB.com announced that the Boston Red Sox signed outfielder Carl Crawford 7-year $142 million dollar deal. This signing gives the Red Sox a multiple of advantages.

Most importantly Crawford gives the Red Sox a stellar outfielder who will solidify an outfield that was decimated by injuries during the 2010 season. Mike Cameron, Jacoby Ellsbury and J.D. Drew all spent time on the disabled list causing the Red Sox to dip into their minor league system and rely on various players to fill the gaps. The signing further depletes the Tampa Bay Rays who have already lost Carlos Peña, Juaquin Benoit and Dioner Navarro to free-agency, Jason Bartlett to a trade and Rafael Soriano remains unsigned. To most of the Red Sox nation, the most important part of the signing is that the hated New York Yankees will not get Crawford.

In 2010, Crawford batted .307 with 19HRs and 90 RBI. In 600 at-bats Crawford had 184 hits (30 2B/13 3B/19 HR) with 104 strikeouts, 47 walks and 47 stolen bases. His OPS was .851 (.356 OBP%/.495 SLG%). Defensively Crawford made 2 errors in the field with 7 assists for a fielding percentage of .994. Crawford was an All-Star this past season and earned his first Golden Glove and Silver Slugger award.

In nine seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays, Crawford has a .296 batting average with 104 HRs and 592 RBI. Crawford has 1,480 hits (215 2B/105 3B/104 HR) and 409 stolen bases. Defensively, Crawford has a career .991 fielding percentage. Crawford is a 4-time All-Star and has led the American League in triples and stolen bases four times each.

I believe the key to the Red Sox next season is staying healthy. The moves of signing Crawford and trading for Adrian Gonzalez will definitely help but the team has to stay healthy in order to make the postseason. Here is the lineup from where I see it:

C Jarrod Saltalamacchia/Jason Varitek
1B Adrian Gonzalez
2B Dustin Pedroia
SS Marco Scutaro
3B Kevin Youkalis
LF Carl Crawford
CF Jacoby Ellsbury/Mike Cameron
RF J.D. Drew


Add the pitching rotation of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Daisuke Matsuzaka to the mix and the Boston Red Sox move to the top of the list of teams to beat in the American League.

FH

For Further Reading
- Click Here to access Peter Abraham's article Sox sign up Crawford for $142m from Boston.com dated December 9, 2010
- Click Here to watch Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe talk about the Crawford signing
- Click Here to access Ian Browne's article Red Sox fire another salvo, add Crawford from MLB.com dated December 10, 2010
- Click Here to access Toni Massarotti's article Red Sox speak loudly, carry big sticks from Boston.com dated December 9, 2010
- Click Here to access Carl Crawford's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com

Winter Meetings Day Three Part Three

Feel asleep soon after coming home from my Rockefeller excursion so here goes:

- Koji Uehara re-signs with the Baltimore Orioles
Jeff Zrebiec and Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun report that the Orioles have come to terms with relief pitcher Koji Uehara on a 1-year deal with a vesting option for the 2012 season which is pending a physical, includes several escalation clauses that will kick in depending on how many games Uehara finishes. Originally a starter for the Orioles during 2010, Uehara came off the disabled list and eventually became the team's closer for the final month and a half, converting 13 of 15 save opportunities. In total Uehara compiled a 1-2 records with a 2.84 ERA in 43 games. He struck out 55 batters while walking only 5 and giving up 37 hits for a WHIP of 0.955.

According to Zrebiec and Connolly Uehara set a franchise record by not walking a batter in 32 consecutive appearances spanning 34 innings. He ended the season with a streak of 44 strikeouts since his last walk allowed. So keeping this quality pitcher in the Orioles bullpen for the 2010 season will be a plus for manager Buck Showalter.

- Click Here to access Koji Uehara's career statistics (including Japan) from BaseballCube.com

- San Diego Padres trade for shortstop Jason Bartlett
The Friarhood.com reports that the San Diego Padres and the Tampa Bay Rays made a trade during the Winter Meetings. The Rays sent shortstop Jason Bartlett to the Padres in exchange for pitchers Adam Russell and lefty Cesar Ramos.

In Bartlett the Padres get a good shortstop who hit .254 with 4 HRs and 47 RBI. In 468 at-bats Bartlett had 119 hits (27 2B/3 3B/4 HR) while striking out 83 times and walking 45 walks with 11 stolen bases. Defensively, Bartlett made 11 errors in 1104 innings at shortstop for a fielding percentage of .977.

Tampa gets in Russell a reliever that went 0-0 with a 4.02 ERA in 12 appearances while Ramos went 0-1 with an 11.88 in 14 appearances.

While Bartlett fills a hole in the Padres' infield, I'm not sure if Russell and Ramos will fill the gaping hole in Tampa's bullpen created with the loss of Juaquin Benoit and Rafael Soriano. I think the Padres got the better end of this deal.

- Click Here for Jason Bartlett's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- Click Here for Adam Russell's career statistics from BaseballCube.com

- Click Here for Cesar Ramos' career statistics from BaseballCube.com

- The Milwaukee Brewers sign catcher Wil Nieves
Tom Haudricourt on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel announced on his twitter feed that the Milwaukee Brewers had signed catcher Wil Nieves to a contract. The terms were not disclosed as of yet.

In 2010 Nieves, formerly of the Washington Nationals, batted .203 with 3Hrs and 16 RBI. In 158 at-bats he had 32 hits (8 2B/0 3B/3 HR) with 29 strikeouts and 8 walks. On the defensive end, Nieves threw out 24% of base stealers (10 of 31).

Haudricourt says that the Nieves signing was done for the following reason:

it puts another guy in the mix to battle for the backup job behind young starter Jonathan Lucroy. The Brewers still have last year's backup, George Kottaras, on their roster and not too long ago signed former backup Mike Rivera to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training. The Brewers also added minor-leaguer Martin Maldonado to their 40-man roster over the winter.

It was also pointed out to me that Lucroy probably will catch at least 120 games, so the backup isn't going to play a tremendous amount. And I was also told that the report on Nieves is that pitchers like throwing to him, which is an important component.


We'll see if Nieves catches on after Spring Training or ends up wearing a different uniform during 2010.

- Click Here to access Wil Nieves' career statistics from Baseball Reference.com


- Dioner Navarro signs with the Los Angeles Dodgers
According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com the Los Angeles Dodgers have signed catcher Dioner Navarro to a contract pending the result of a physical. Navarro previously played with the Dodgers in 2005-2006 before being traded to Tampa Bay where he was through 2010.

In 2010 Navarro batted .194 with 1HR and 7 RBI. In a limited 124 at-bats Navarro had 24 hits (5 2B/0 3B/1 HR) with 20 strikeouts and 12 walks. Defensively Navarro threw out 39% of base stealers (12 of 19). His playing time was greatly diminished in favor of John Jaso and Kelly Shoppach getting time behind the plate.

Gurnick says that Navarro will compete with A.J. Ellis as backup to starting catcher Rod Barajas who recently signed a $3.25 million dollar contract. For the Dodgers this means that former catcher Russell Martin probably moves on for the 2010 after coming off of a fractured hip.

- Click Here to access Dioner Navarro's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com


It seems with the last few days that the Tampa Bay Rays are back at the starting block in terms of putting their team together. Since the end of Game 5 of the ALDS, the Rays have lost Peña, Benoit and Navarro to free-agent signings, Bartlett in a trade and Soriano is still unsigned (and as I will report with my next post, the big name of Tampa's free agent's has reportedly signed elsewhere).

FH

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Winter Meetings Day Three Part Two

More signing, more signings and more signings:

- Paul Konerko re-signs with the Chicago White Sox
Not to be outdone by their Northside rivals, the Southside White Sox re-signed their captain (in a negotitation much less contentious than the New York Yankees' negotiation with their own captain. Take notes boys, this is how it is done) Paul Konerko to a 3-year $37.5 million dollar deal.

According to Dave van Dyck of Chicagobreakingsports.com Konerko, will receive $12 million in each of the next two seasons, then $6.5 million in the third year. The rest will be paid in $1 million installments for seven years.

The longtime White Sox had a very productive 2010 season. Konerko batted .312 with 39 HRs and 111 RBI. In 548 at-bats, Konerko had 171 hits (30 2B/1 3B/39 HR) with 72 walks and 110 strikeouts. His OPS was a career high .977(.383 OBP%/.584 SLG%). Konerko's effort resulted in his being voted 5th in the American League MVP race.

The White Sox look offensively impressive with Konerko and Adam Dunn sharing first base and DH duties. Look for these pair of slugging teammates to put a hurting on opposing pitching.

- Click Here for Paul Konerko's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com

- Kansas City signs Jeff Francouer
Bob Dutton reports on his Twitter feed that outfielder Jeff Francouer has signed a contract for the 2011 season with the Kansas City Royals. According to Dutton, Francouer will receive $2.5M for 2011, with $500K in incentives, and a $3M mutual option for 2012.

Sharing time with the New York Mets and the Texas Rangers in 2010, Francouer batted a combined .249 with 13 HRs and 65 RBI. In 454 at-bats Francouer had 113 hits (18 2B/2 3B/13 HR) with 30 walks and 81 strikeouts with 8 stolen bases. His OPS was .683 (.300 OBP%/.383 SLG%)

- Click Here for Jeff Francouer's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com

- Jack Cust signs with the Seattle Mariners
Goeff Baker reports on his blogpage that he has spoken to Jack Cust who confirmed that he in fact signed a 1-year $2.5-million deal plus incentives with the Seattle Mariners.

In 2010 Cust, formerly of the division rival Oakland Athleticcs, batted .272 with 13 HRs and 52 RBI. In 349 at-bats Cust had 95 hits (19 2B/0 3B/13 HR) 68 walks and 127 strikeouts. His OPS was .834 (.395 OBP%/.438 SLG%).

Baker attributes the following as the reason that Cust chose to sign with the Mariners:

Cust told me his priority is signing was to find a team that appreciated what he could do as a player -- make that, a full-time player.

"From what it sounds like, I'm going to be in there both way (versus lefties and righties) and that's the way I like it," he said. "I've always been able to hit lefties pretty well."


- Click Here to access Jack Cust's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com

Ok folks, I guess that's enough for now. Have to get ready to head down to Rockefeller Center to see the tree and find a Santa to take our yearly family picture with. Later.

FH

Winter Meetings Day Three

A few of these transactions were reported after I signed off. So here goes day Three:

- Carlos Peña signs with the Chicago Cubs

Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated reports that the Chicago Cubs and Carlos Peña have agreed on a 1-year $10 million dollar contract. Peña, formerly of the Tampa Bay Rays, is coming off of a disappointing season at the plate. In 2010, Peña hit .196 with 28 HRs and 84 RBI. In 484 at-bats he had 95 hits (18 2B/0 3B/28 HR) to go along with 87 walks and 158 strikeouts. His OPS was .732 (325 OBP%/407 SLG%).

From 2007-2009 Peña averaged 39 HRs (144 in the last 4 seasons) and 108 RBI with 95 walks and 157 strikeouts so we know he can be an offensive force from the left side of the plate. His signing with the Cubs fills a need for the team since Derreck Lee was traded last season to the Atlanta Braves. Peña joins Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez in a lineup that has the potential to be potent. The question remains whether or not one or all of these players can stay healthy and play at their potential.

- Click Here for Carlos Peña's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com


- Matt Diaz signs with the Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates continued with their very active showing at the Winter Meetings by signing outfielder Matt Diaz. Pirates beat reporter for MLB.com Jen Langosch reports that Diaz, formerly of the Atlanta Braves, signed a two-year agreement for "approximately $4.25 million.".

In 2010 Diaz batted .250 with 7HRs and 31 RBI. In 224 at-bats, Diaz had 56 hits (17 2B/2 3B/7 HR) with 13 walks and 44 strikeouts.

Langosch says the following about Diaz in relation to his role with the Pirates:

The Pirates have been looking for someone who can be a threat against left-handed pitching, and Diaz is exactly that. He batted. 273 against lefties last season and is a career .335 hitter against southpaws.

Diaz played primarily in left while with Atlanta, but his fit with the Pirates would be in right. He has played 78 career games as a right fielder and batted .305 in his five-year stay with Atlanta.


I'll be honest when I say I don't know much about Diaz. Guess I'll have to track him in the box scores to see his progress.

- Click Here to access Matt Diaz's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com

That's all for now. I'll be back soon with (hopefully) some more news and signings.

FH

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Winter Meetings Day Two Part Two

So continuing with the trend of highlighting the signings during the Winter meetings, here goes:

- Scott Olsen signs with the Pittsburgh Pirates
William DePaoli reports on the InsidePittsburghSports.com website that the Pirates and pitcher Scott Olsen have agreed to the framework of a 1-year $1 million dollar deal with incentives that seem to not have been agreed to by both sides.

Scott Olsen, formerly of the Washington Nationals, has had an injuries limit his pitching the last two seasons. In 2010, Olsen compiled a 4-8 record with a 5.56 ERA in 17 games, 15 of which were starts. He struck out 53 while walking 27 and allowing 93 hits in 81 innings pitched for a WHIP of 1.481.

Maybe Olsen can stay healthy and join a rotation that seems to be full now with the acquisition of Kevin Correia yesterday by the Pirates and Maholm, McDonald and Ohlendorf. If so, the Pirates might have one of the better young rotations in baseball.

- Click Here to access Scott Olsen's career statistics at Baseball Reference.com


- Tony Gwynn Jr. signs with the Los Angeles Dodgers
Tony Jackson of ESPN Los Angeles reports that the Los Angeles Dodgers have signed Tony Gwynn Jr., to a 1-year deal after being non-tendered by the San Diego Padres last week.

After a productive 2009 season for Gwynn, 2010 was a bit of a let down. Gwynn batted .204 with 3 HRs and 20 RBI. He had 59 hits (9 2B/3 3B/3 HR) in 289 at-bats while striking out 50 ties and walking 41 times and stealing 17 bases out of 21 attempts.

I believe that Gwynn will play a similar role with the Dodgers as he did with the Padres. He is versatile by playing all three outfield positions as well as having the speed to be a pinch runner.

- Click Here to see Tony Gwynn Jr's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com

- New York Mets Sign Two Players
Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that according to sources the New York Mets have agreed to a one-year, $1.3 million contract with catcher Ronny Paulino and a two-year, $2.5 million contract with reliever D.J. Carrasco. Both deals are pending physicals.

Ronny Paulino, formerly of the Florida Marlins, was suspended for 50 games in late August after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. His suspension ran for 42 games last season and will be in effect for the first 8 games of the 2011 season. Up to the time of the suspension, Paulino was batting .259 with 4 HRs and 37 RBI. In 316 at-bats, Paulino had 82 hits (18 2B/0 3B/4 HR), striking out 51 times and drawing 25 bases on balls.

D.J. Carrasco, played with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Pittsburgh Pirates during the 2010 season compiling a 3-2 record with a 3.68 ERA in 63 games. In 78.1 innings pitched, Carrasco struck out 63, walking 34 and giving up 68 hits for a WHIP of 1.302.

It is believed that Paulino will platoon at catcher with Josh Thole while Carrasco will try to bring some stability to a Mets bullpen that lost Hisanori Takahashi and Pedro Feliciano to free agency. For a small price the Mets have plugged two critical holes within their team.

- Click Here for Ronny Paulino's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- Click Here for D.J. Carrasco's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com


Well, day two of the Winter Meetings was a bit anti-climactic since there wasn't any news concerning the main free agents Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford. There's always tomorrow.

FH

My Impressions of the Derek Jeter Contract Press Conference

I just finished watching the Derek Jeter press conference and came to a realization: We've just seen the transformation of Derek Jeter. Sure he had the cool demeanor we have grown accustomed to seeing in Jeter. But we saw something new out of him: Anger.

I thought that there were a few statements that he made that seemed to stand out more than others. When asked about what if any frustration he felt at the negotiations, Jeter said:

Honestly the thing that bothered me the most was how public this became..This was a negotiation that was supposed to be private...It was an uncomfortable position that I was in...it was not an enjoyable experience...throughout the years I have prided myself on keeping things out of the papers and out of the media and this became a private thing...This was something I was not happy about...I'll let my feelings be known this situation this free agency thing, I never wanted to be a free agent, it was the situation that I was in...I'd be lying to you if I said I wasn't angry at how some of this went

When asked by Sweeney Murti of WFAN on who he was angry at Jeter responded (after an attempted moment of levity directed towards Murti):

I'm not sitting here pointing fingers at anyone...You see we're one big happy family here up at the podium...I was more angry at the process and how I was portrayed...You know there was alot of things said out there...I try not to read the papers and try not to listen to the stories...No matter how you look at it your friends and family are filling you in...I was angry at how I was portrayed through all of this...I've heard greed...I've heard all of a sudden I have ego and arrogance...I don't think that was portrayed correctly because this was a negotiation and from my understanding of a negotiation, one side makes and offer the other side makes an offer and you try to come to an agreement...All the statements of salary demands I'm in no position to demand anything since I basically said this is where I wanted to be, what can I demand...It was just a matter of coming to an agreement between sides...I just thought it was portrayed incorrectly.

Those of you who know me are familiar with how I stand in respect to the whole Derek Jeter contract negotiation. I felt the haughty public stance taken by the Yankees was wrong for a player of Jeter's caliber. Sure he is getting older. He's not the same fresh faced player that we saw come up with the team in 1996. But from what I understood from his words, his stance and his mannerisms, the fire to succeed has not been diminished in any way from then to now. I think the negativity that surrounded his contract renewal will serve to ignite him even more, though he has way too much class to be public about it.

I've never seen Jeter with that look on his face and to be honest I'm glad to see it. I hope he goes out and puts up an MVP type season and shuts the critics up. For all of you out there with your metrics and statistics that are used to measure up players, knock Jeter all you want. At the end of the day, I'll take the Yankee Captain to play the #6 position on the field of Yankee Stadium. If I wasn't a Jeter fan before today, I am now.

FH

- Click Here to access the video footage of the Jeter press conference from the YES Network website

- Click Here to access the video footage of the post-press conference interview with Derek Jeter done by Bob Lorenz and Jack Curry from the YES Network website

Winter Meetings Day Two

Well, the sun has risen over Orlando, Florida signaling the beginning of Day Two of the MLB Winter Meetings. Already moves have been made, so here goes:

- Ty Wigginton signs with the Colorado Rockies
Tracy Ringsolby of Inside the Colorado Rockies webpage has reported on his Twitter page that Ty Wigginton, formerly of the Baltimore Orioles, has signed a 2-year $7.5 million contract which includes a $500.000 buyout on an option for the 2013 season. As to how Wigginton will fit into the Rockies plans, Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post describes Wigginton as so:

Wigginton is a safer bet after batting .248 with 22 home runs and 76 RBIs last season for Baltimore. He started 98 games at first base, 40 at second and 22 at third. The 33-year-old made the all-star team last season but hit .244 in the second half after getting tired and exposed in a weak lineup. Colorado tracked Wigginton over the final three months of last season, believing he improved significantly at first base.

The Rockies have been busy as of late having acquired infielder Jose Lopez from the Seattle Mariners late last week, signing Troy Tulowitzki to that mammoth extension (signed through 2020 season for $157.75 million in guaranteed money). They are also rumored to be looking at Jorge Cantu and Jeff Francouer as possible free-agent signings so look for Colorado to make a few more moves before the meetings end later this week.

- Click Here to access Ty Wigginton's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- Click Here to access Inside the Colorado Rockies website for more news on the Rockies

- Vicente Padilla re-signs with the Los Angeles Dodgers

Buster Olney of ESPN reported on his Twitter feed that the Los Angeles Dodgers have re-signed Vicente Padilla to a 1-year $2 million dollar contract. Ken Gurnick of MLB.com adds the following to the Padilla signing:

Padilla, who missed time with arm and neck injuries, would essentially become the sixth starter and long reliever, capable of spot starting, pitching multiple innings of relief and even providing insurance for the late innings should closer Jonathan Broxton struggle as he did in the second half this year

In an injury plagued 2010, the opening day pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers compiled a 6-5 record with a 4.07 ERA in 16 starts. Padilla struck out 84 batters while walking 24 and giving up 79 hits in 95 innings pitched for a WHIP of 1.084. Padilla is a crafty veteran that can start, pitch long relief and close a game. He's the equivalent of a utility player that can play multiple positions.

- Click Here for Vicente Padilla's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com

Aside from the Managers tribute and the Derek Jeter press conference, the second day of the Winter Meetings seem to have slowed down. I'll post again after the Jeter presser.

FH

Monday, December 6, 2010

Winter Meetings Day One Part Two

Here are some more baeball transactions that occured (or didn't in some cases) during Day One of the Winter Meetings:

- J.J. Putz signs with the Arizona Diamondbacks
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal on his Twitter feed announced that the Arizona Diamondbacks have just signed reliever J.J. Putz to a 2-yr deal with club option, pending physical. Prorumors.com says the deal breaks down in the following manner:

Ken Rosenthal says that Putz will be paid $4 million in 2011, $4.5 million 2012, and there's a $6.5 million club option or $1.5 million buyout in 2013.


After having a horrible 2009 with the New York Mets, Putz returned to form with his 2010 campaign with the Chicago White Sox. Putz compiled a 7-5 record with a 2.83 ERA in 60 appearances. In 54 innings pitched, Putz struck out 65 batters while walking only 15 and giving up 41 hits for a WHIP of 1.037. Putz saved 3 games for the White Sox. The signing of Putz will bring a stable arm to a bullpen that was very ineffective for the Diamondbacks this past season.

- Click Here for J.J. Putz' career statistics from Baseball Reference.com

- Aaron Harang signs with Padres

Follow the Padres on their Twitter feed announces that Aaron Harang, formerly of the Cincinnati Reds, has signed: a One year, $3.5 million plus a mutual option. Working to get terms of option. During the 2010 season for the Reds, Harang compiled a 6-7 record 5.32 ERA in 22 games. He struck out 82 batters and walked 38 while giving up 139 hits for a WHIP of 1.585. Harang seems to have fallen off from his successful years of 2006 and 2007 when he went 16-11 and 16-6 respectively. I seem to be repeating myself but as with Mark Reynolds and the pitchers traded for him in that deal earlier today, maybe the change of scenery and some hometown cooking will do him good.

- Click Here for Aaron Harang's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com

- Dan Johnson re-signs with the Tampa Bay Rays

The Tampa Tribune has reported on their Twitter feed that the depleted Tampa Bay Rays have re-signed 1B/DH Dan Johnson to a one-year contract. I believe this is an important move for the Rays since their first baseman of the last few years, Carlos Peña, is a free-agent and not seen as returning to the Rays. After spending the 2009 season with the Yokohama Bay Stars of the Nippon Professional Baseball League, Johnson returned to the Rays for the 2010 season. Spending the majority of the 2010 season playing for the Durham Bulls of the International League before being called up. (PHOTO CREDIT: Steve Nesius/Associated Press)

In very limited but important action for the Rays, Johnson batted .198 with 7HRs and 23 RBI. Though the numbers don't seem very impressive, Johnson played four positions for the Rays last year (1B/3B/LF/RF) and his versatility is needed and respected on a team such as Tampa's. I saw this kid hit two homers in a pivotal division game against the Yankees which was overshadowed by the now infamous Derek Jeter faked hit by a ball trick. This game propelled the Rays back into first place and I daresay it may have cost the Yankees the division title. I believe that we'll see more of Johnson this upcoming season in a much more expanded capacity.

- Click Here for Dan Johnson's career statistics from BaseballCube.com

- The Athletics/Iwakuma Negotiations Fall Through
In what comes to no surprise, the A's were not able to come to terms with Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma. The rights to Iwakuma go back to the Rakuten Golden Eagles and the $19.1 million dollar posting fee is returned to the Oakland Athletics.(PHOTO CREDIT http://cardsandgraphs.blogspot.com)

The story was reported by both Susan Sussler of the San Francisco Chronicle and Jane Lee of the MLBlogs network. Lee states the following as being the position of both Iwakuma and the Athletics during the negotiations:

Iwakuma and his agent, Don Nomura, were reportedly asking for a contract that would average $12 million per season over three years -- numbers that reflect the earnings of fellow Japanese pitchers Hiroki Kuroda (three years, $35.3 million) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (six years, $52 million).

However, the A's were said to have offered $15.25 million over four years -- factoring in the posting fee cost -- as a "take it or leave it" approach. By leaving it, Iwakuma will stay in Japan and become a free agent at the end of the 2011 season.


Sussler also reports in her Twitter feed that:

#Athletics made it clear to Iwakuma that they'll have interest in him next year when he is a free agent.

Whether or not Iwakuma would be interested in playing for the Athletics next season when he becomes a free agent is unknown. Without burning any bridges I would imagine that he would not want to after being quoted as saying "the Athletics really didn't want me." . This leaves a hole in the Athletics' rotation since they traded starter Vin Mazzaro to the Kansas City Royals for Jose DeJesus earlier in the offseason. We'll see where they go from here.

- Click Here for my prior post A's Win Bidding for Iwakuma. Why Bid? from November 8, 2010

- Kevin Correia signs with the Pittsburgh Pirates
According to ESPN's Jerry Krasnick on his Twitter feed, starting pitcher Kevin Correia, formerly of the San Diego Padres, has reached agreement with Pittsburgh Pirates on a 2-year, $8 million deal, pending a physical. Correia compiled a 10-10 record with a 5.40 ERA. In 26 games for the Padres, Correia struck out 115 while walking 64 and allowing 152 hits for a WHIP of 1.490.

In joining the Pirates, he joins a young rotation that is already made up of Paul Maholm, James McDonald and Ross Ohlendorf.

- Click Here for Kevin Correia's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com

That's all that I am posting on the first day of the Winter Meetings. If anything happens from now into tomorrow, I'll post it later.

FH

Winter Meetings Day One

The Winter Meetings are in full swing in Orlando and there are a few deals that have gone down. Here goes:

- The Milwaukee Brewers get Shaun Marcum from Toronto
The Milwaukee Brewers get 29-year old starting pitcher Shaun Marcum to bolster their pitching staff in exchange for top prospect 20-year old second baseman Brett Lawrie. Marcum had his most productive season for the Blue Jays last season by going 13-8 with a 3.64 ERA. In 31 games started, Marcum struck out 165 while only walking 45 and giving up 181 hits in 195.1 innings pitched for a WHIP of 1.147.

Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel describes Marcum as being the following type of pitcher:

He is not an overpowering pitcher, usually throwing his fastball in the 87-89 mph range. But Marcum has an excellent changeup, a dependable slider and also mixes in curve balls on occasion. Thanks to that repertoire and his excellent control, he has been a strikeout pitcher (7.3 per nine innings) despite not being able to overpower hitters.

Marcum recovered nicely from his Tommy John ligament replacement surgery in his right elbow that kept him out of the whole 2009 season. Marcum is a good pitcher who kept the Yankees at bay a few games that I saw him pitch against them. I believe that he will compliment Yovani Gallardo in the Brewers rotation.

In return for Marcum, the Blue Jays get British Columbia native Brett Lawrie. In his second season in the minors with Double A Huntsville of the Southern League, Lawrie batted .285 with 8 Hrs and 63 RBI. He had 158 hits (36 2B/16 3B/8 HRs) and showed very good speed and aggressiveness on the base paths with 30 stolen bases while being caught 13 times. Jordan M describes Lawrie in his blogpost The Brett Lawrie for Shawn Marcum Trade at the BrewCrewBall.com webpage:

I've been on Brett Lawrie's bandwagon since he was drafted, and he's a talented hitter who put up a great year as a 20-year old in AA. But if anyone was expendable, it may have been him. I always felt that Lawrie would hold his own as a hitter even if moved down the defensive spectrum-- as a third basemen or corner outfielder, he would likely be an above-average offensive producer down the road. The problem is that right now, the Brewers have 5 players who fit that description (and yes I'm counting Mat Gamel). Lawrie's value to the Brewers was tied in his ability to stick at second base-- and the Brewers' willingness to trade him, I think, speaks about their confidence that he could do so. I think it also speaks about their confidence to get a deal done with Rickie Weeks, and possibly says something about how highly they think of Scooter Gennet.

Both teams seem to benefit from the deal though the Brewers seem to have the edge in benefiting from the deal in the here and now. We'll see how it plays out in the long haul.

- Click Here for Jordan M's article The Brett Lawrie for Shawn Marcum trade from BrewCrewBall.com dated December 6, 2010

- Click Here for Tom Haudricourt's article Brewers to Get Toronto Pitcher Marcum from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel webpage dated December 5, 2010
- Click Here to access Shawn Marcum's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- Click Here to access Brett Lawrie's minor league statistics from BaseballCube.com

- Mark Reynolds traded to the Baltimore Orioles

The Baltimore Orioles made a move to improve their offense from the right side by trading right-handed relievers Kameron Mickolio and David Hernandez for Arizona's Mark Reynolds. In Reynolds, the Orioles get a batter who can hit for power and score runs but is heavily prone to striking out. In four major league seasons with the Diamondbacks, Reynolds has averaged 35 HRs with 100 RBI with 221 strikeouts and 75 walks. Reynolds has lead the league in strikeouts three years running with 204 in 2008, 223 in 2009 and 211 in 2010 while lowering his batting average from .260 in 2009 to .198 in 2010.

In return Arizona gets 6'9" right handed power pitching reliever Kameron Mickolio and minor league reliever David Hernandez. In terms of the relievers Baseball Musings.com describes them as so:

Mickolio strikes out a ton of batters, but he’s wild. In the minors, his walks were high but okay. In the majors so far they are out of control. Hernandez is pretty much in the same boat. If Reynolds can get his batting average back up again, this trade will be a steal for Baltimore.

I guess if he can get his average back up in the .260 to .280 range then the deal will work for the Orioles. Maybe a change of scenery for all the players involved will be beneficial. Have to say this about Reynolds move into Baltimore, he is being traded into a division with some high powered pitching in Sabathia, Price, Beckett, and Lester to name a few and maybe Cliff Lee. He might feast on all the power pitching for the O's or he might just starve on his steady diet of Special K's (sorry couldn't help that one, LOL).

- Click Here for Dan Connolly and Jeff Zrebiec's article Orioles acquire Mark Reynolds from Diamondbacks from the BaltimoreSun.com dated December 6, 2010
- Click Here to access an interesting analysis on Mark Reynolds' at-bats from Baseball Musings.com
- Click Here to access Mark Reynolds' career statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- Click Here to access Kameron Mickolio's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- Click Here to access David Hernandez minor league statistics from Baseball Reference.com

- Melvin Mora signs with the Arizona Diamondbacks
Not waiting to fill their hole at third, the Diamondbacks signed veteran Melvin Mora to a 1-year $2 million dollar contract. In his 2010 season with the Colorado Rockies Mora batted .285 with 7 HRs and 45 RBI. He had 90 hits (12 2B/5 3B/7 HR) in 354 at-bats and struck out 53 times while drawing 35 walks. Mora will bring some stability to the infield and a good head at the plate than his predecessor. The strikeouts will decrease significantly and I believe that Mora will be more of a table-setter than a slugger for the Diamondbacks. (PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images)

- Click Here for Melvin Mora's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com


Ok folks, that's it for now. When I hear of any other moves and trades at the winter meetings, I'll post them.

FH

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Jayson Werth Signs with The Washington Nationals

It was announced today that the Washington Nationals signed 32-year old OF Jayson Werth formerly of the Philadelphia Phillies to a 7-year $126 million dollar deal for an average of $18 million a year. Manny Ramirez (8-year $160 million in 2000) and Alfonso Soriano (8-year $136 million in 2006) are the only outfielders to sign larger contracts than Werth. So what does this do for the Nationals.

First it causes the Nationals to create a big splash on the eve of the MLB Winter meetings. To be perfectly honest, of the teams that I had read that were interested in Werth the Nationals did not even come up in the conversation. For the Nats to sign a top free-agent from a division rival is key. The signing also helps to ease the loss of slugger Adam Dunn who signed a 4-year $56 million deal with the Chicago White Sox last week. 

Second, it gives the National some stability in the outfield and a veteran presence that has played on winning teams in the young clubhouse. This can already be seen with the Nationals in the case of Ivan Rodriguez who has had a definite positive effect on the Nationals. Sometimes a team on the cusp of moving up to the next level needs some experience. I think Werth can fit that role. And that's it for the positives. 

I think that for the splash made by the Nationals, they gave Werth way too much in terms of years. At the end of the contract, Werth will be 39-years old. Can he be productive at that age? Absolutely. Look at his former teammate Raul Ibañez for an outfielder to be productive at an older age. My question is how will Werth be after possibly three, four or five years of not being competitive. He has been used to playing with the Phillies who for the last four seasons has been in the post-season with two back-to-back World Series appearances in 2008 and 2009. Will he play the same on a team that (let's say for argument sake) is out of contention by August each year? Only time can answer that question.

I can't positively answer this next point but I think that we can take the Nationals out of the Cliff Lee race. They were mentioned early on as one of the possible teams that Lee might play for this upcoming season. As the San Francisco Giants proved this past season, productive pitching can overcome deficits in offensive production behind them. A rotation anchored by Cliff Lee and Stephen Strausberg with Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman providing some thunder from the offensive side makes the Nationals intriguing to say the least. Who knows, maybe the ownership behind the Nationals have a few more cards up their sleeves and pull out the trump card in the form of Cliff Lee. We'll know soon enough.

As for the NL East? Well the Werth signing is an example of the rest of the division gaining ground while the Phillies lose ground. The Braves are stronger with the pick up of Dan Uggla last month. The Marlins will remain pesky in the division. The Mets are something of an unknown as we won't know how Beltran, Bay and Santana come back from their injuries. What we do know is that the Phillies are a year older with a big hole to fill in the outfield. Are Domonic Brown and/or John Mayberry ready to play at the major league level? Thankfully Spring Training is only a few months away so we won't have to wait too long to see what happens. Plus, the winter meetings start tomorrow. There should be more fireworks in store.

FH