October 27, 2006
St. Louis Cardinals
Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals on winning the 2006 World Series Championship.
Now that the season is over, teams can start their rebuilding process. Again, for reference, visit Cot’s Baseball Contracts for key dates for the off-season.
The first thing we will see is a flurry of players filing for free agency.
Let the fun begin.
October 24, 2006
You might have missed it, but the Boston Globe reported on Tuesday that Mike Timlin will return for another season. The deal is reportedly worth $2.8m with a chance for more via incentives.
Timlin’s 2006 salary was $3.5m.
Moving down the line of possibly available talent, let’s look at Carlos Lee, a free agent.
31 or more HRs the past 4 seasons
Averaged 158.5 games played over same period.
99 or more RBI the past 4 seasons.
Wrong side of 30 (dob – 6/20/76)
6′ 2" 240lbs
Career .835 OPS.
Lee has proven to be a consistant power threat since 2003. In addition, he has shown speed on the bases. Not just with his sb totals but his success rate. He is durable and despite a trade deadline address change in 2006, hemaintained a hot bat.
Lee, however is about ready to exit his prime. His weight has increased over the past few years and the combo of weight and age rarely leads to good things. Now before you get on my case about David Ortiz and his extra heft, I understand some players handle weight better than others, but that in the long run it is a concern. That is no different for Ortiz.
Lee is coming off of a career season. I just worry that he is a signing similar to the trio Tampa Bay signed in 2000, Greg Vaughn, Jose Canseco and Vinny Castillo. All three were coming off of boffo years in 1999. In 2000, Castillo turned 32, Vaughn 34 and Canseco 35. None of them produced anything close to what was hoped for by Tampa Bay.
If I were running the show, I’d consider Lee strongly, but I wouldn’t commit more than 3 years and I’d set a budget and refuse to break it. My guess is Lee will get $11m-$12m per season. I’d give him $9m or $10m max, which means I probably wouldn’t get Carlos Lee for 2007. All of the variables with Lee lead me to believe his signing will not necessarily produce the average of his prior 4 seasons. Maybe this falls into the catagory of "hunch," something the Red Sox probably disdain. Or perhaps my hunch is based on similar type players and their career paths.
What’s your take?
October 21, 2006
Nothing in the way of rumors here, but I did read on a message board the idea of Boston acquiring Adam Dunn. For discussion sake, I ask, would it be a good move?
First, is Dunn a player who could be acquired without mortgaging the future? Well, some in Cincinnati are souring on his performance. In 2006, he was down to a .855 OPS. Not bad, but well off of is high of .957 in 2004. In addition, he struck out 194 times (one shy of the record…that he holds). It seems Dunn has fallen off of his superstar pace and become something less than most had hoped.
So yes, I think Dunn could be had without offering up Jon Lester or all of the Red Sox minor league talent.
But, the question remains, is Dunn a good player? Is he an all-star? Is he a superstar? Is he good enough to hit 5th in the Red Sox line-up or 4th should Manny Remirez get dealt? Well, I don’t think he is a superstar (whatever that means), but he seems like he might be an all-star. Let’s look at the numbers over the past 3 seasons. I’m not trying to swing the argument by showing limited info, it is just that I’m too lazy to post it all of his stats. If you want his complete history, baseball-reference has it.
2004 – .266/.388/.569/46 HR/102 RBI
2005 – .247/.387/.540/40 HR/101 RBI
2006 – .234/.365/.490/40 HR/92 RBI
Good power and production, but his average is very low. A low average and tons of K’s makes some think of Mark Bellhorn, but K’s and a low average aren’t the worst things in the world. Additionally, his OBP and SLG have declined the past 3 seasons. Dunn is about to turn 27 years old, so he has accomplished a fair amount in his career at such a young age. But, Dunn is big and seems to be getting bigger. At 6′ 6" 275 lbs, he might be eating his way out of baseball. Or maybe he just needs a little discipline.
No matter, Dunn has proved a productive hitter so far. He walks a ton (108, 114, 112 walks from 2004-2006), strikes out a ton (195, 168, 194 from 2004-2006) and hits a bunch of home runs. He gets on base nicely and is young.
The negatives are that he is getting bigger, plays a lousy outfield (12 error in LF last year) and is limited in where he plays (108 games at 1b with a fld % of .986 vs. league average of .993).
Dunn has tremendous power and probably can be had for a reasonable price. If Boston were to get him, could new hitting coach Dave Magadan cut down his strikeout rate, not in itself a terrible thing, but frustrating to most fans.
Dunn’s performance is heading in the wrong direction, but he has tons of power and walks a boat load, 2 things the Red Sox like. Finding a position for him and figuring out a way to get him to Boston might prove too challenging, but I’d like to see him in Boston.
Make it happen!
October 19, 2006
This postseason has been tough. The Mets and Cardinals are down to game 7 while the Tigers have been in the World Series for what seems like a month now.
While I don’t mind the teams currently in the World Series mix, I am frustrated waiting for the Red Sox rebuilding plans to commence.
Given the fact that the baseball season hasn’t ended, the Red Sox are limited in what they can do. In the meantime, the Red Sox have made a few minor moves:
Adam Stern traded to Baltimore to complete the trade for Javy Lopez (c).
Bryan Corey and Mike Burns signed minor league deals and were assigned to Pawtucket. This gives them some emergency, major league tested (and failed) arms for 2007.
Carlos Pena, Ken Huckaby and Alajandro Machado are now free agents.
The Red Sox also switched minor league affiliate at their high A level. Actually their minor league high A team ditched the Red Sox leaving the Red Sox in a bind. They decided on a team in the California League, the Lancaster JetHawks. This is not ideal given any players heading to or from Lancaster are guaranteed jet lag. Look for the Red Sox to search out a better option in 2 years.
The Boston Globe reported in their Sunday addition that there are rumors that Kevin Millar might find himself in a Red Sox uniform again. Interesting and maybe annoying.
Lastly, I saw a Red Sox message board plea to sign Barry Zito. I know, why do I read such nonsense? Well, if you look at Zito’s performance at Fenway, Yankee Stadium, Tropicana Field and the Rogers Centre, you’ll see a pitcher that isn’t great. At Camden Yards, however, he is an ace.
But given his struggles at the other 4 fields, perhaps Boston should let Zito find another home (not that he wants to pitch in Boston). Maybe Zito signing with New York would be a good thing.
More news as it becomes available.
October 11, 2006
No Joy in Mudville
Peter Gammons had an interesting comment in his most recent post (subscription required). By the way, welcome back to PG, I was thrilled to see him on ESPN a few weeks back. He hasn’t missed a beat and his love of all things baseball is still intact. Back to his comment. He said "What did anyone expect to see when the Yankees were losing Saturday night? With the Yankees, and a growing extent the Red Sox, childish joy is not a part of the equation."
Is he right? I can see it with my own eyes with the Yankees. The game is more business than fun. Is it happening to the Red Sox too? Did Kevin Millar mean more to the Red Sox than we care to admit? Johnny Damon and Alan Embree too?
Baseball is a mix of many things. Skill, hard work, fundamentals, coaching, willingness to be coached, power, quickness, the list goes on.
There also are intangibles. Things like fulfillment, joy, love of baseball, happiness again, the list goes on.
Just how much do these intangibles factor into performance? If baseball as a job is anything like other career choices, it must help to love what you do. Having a good work environment (it is different for everyone) must be a plus too. Your co-workers/teammates have to play a big part in it, right
Just what makes a good recipe? We’ve heard it countless times over the past week, the Yankees spent $200m this year and have nothing to show for it. Well the Red Sox, despite spending 30% less than the Yankees, still spent $130m. That is a ton of cash and proves that payroll alone guarantees nothing. All-Stars 1-9 mean nothing by themselves. There is more to it.
I wonder if Bill James has a formula or equation for this. Perhaps a personality profile of each player on every championship team. What combination turned into a successful mix? Would that be too hard to do? Certainly personality mix alone couldn’t mean everything otherwise the next World Series winner might consist of guys like Bob Uecker at every position.
As for the Red Sox, isn’t David Ortiz capable of childish joy? Aren’t there plenty of character guys on the Red Sox (or weren’t there in 2006)? Someone figure this out, please.
Edit: The news yesterday of Cory Lidle’s passing stinks. My thoughts to his family.
Which Way to Go
I was thinking about how the Red Sox could improve their starting pitching the other day. It dawned on me that free agent studs (this year’s class anyway) might not be the best method. I’ve identified Andy Pettitte, Jason Schmidt and Barry Zito as the 3 available starters as the most likely to command the highest dollars.
Let’s assume the Red Sox signed all 3. This is purely for sake of my conclusion as I know there is no way they’ll sign all 3 and most likely, any of them. But again, let’s assume they sign all 3.
Just what can we expect in 2007 for these guys?
Pettitte is the only one with intense AL East experience, but he had some injury concerns in 2004 and despite pitching in the NL Central in 2006, posted a 4.20 ERA while going 14-13.
What price would you pay for Pettitte? The asking will probably be around $10m a year.
Schimidt is going to be 34, but has pitched fairly well over the past 5 years. His 2005 was a step back from his unbelievable 2004 season, but he rebounded to start 32 games in 2006 going 11-9 with a 3.59 ERA. But again, that ERA (4.40 in 2005) is in the NL West. How will that hold up in the AL East, especially for a career NLer.
I say he gets $8-9m a year.
Lastly there is Zito. Zito has been super durable over his first 7 major league seasons. There are a few concerns that I’ve noticed. First off, he has pitched 200+ innings isnce he was 23 years old. His former teammate Mark Mulder is now experiencing a breakdown possibly (just a guess) as a result of such a high workload at an early age. Additionally, his ERA, once in the 2.70-3.50 range, has been at 4.48, 3.86 and 3.83 over the past 3 years.
His strikeout to walk ratio has gotten worse (fewer K’s, more BB’s) and for those believing in the value of a good win-loss record, he has gone 55-45 over the past 4 years. Not bad, but a far cry from his 47-17 record the 3 years prior.
He will probably get the most of this trio because of his age (29 in 2007). Perhaps $13-$14 per.
So let’s say the Red Sox get all 3.
Is it fair to include an ERA penalty for joining an AL East team for each? Let’s say so.
Pettitte – 4.00ERA
Schmidt – 4.20 ERA
Zito – 4.25 ERA (he has gotten pounded by the Yanks and Red Sox in his career).
These are off the top of my head guesses. I penalized Zito, or rather, gave him the lowest ERA because he has done it before in the AL East, but if you look at his ERA’s while with the Yankees from 1995-2003, they look like this: 4.17, 3.87, 2.88, 4.24, 4.70, 4.35, 3.99, 3.27, 4.02. So that might be generous, but so what.
Are those ERAs for the three mentioned above going to get you excited? Are they going to translate into good win totals? Perhaps those ERAs are not likely as many players have imploded upon joining the Red Sox.
I guess my point in all of this is that there is too much unknown involved with each player to be committing such resources. None is a guaranteed stud like Pedro Martinez was (was), or perhaps a Randy Johnson was (was).
I think the best course of action is to acquire players that prove low risk in terms of cost while holding potential upside. The key is finding those guys. They don’t grow on trees and certainly their upside isn’t readily apparent. Scouting and statistical analysis will be bigger than ever before this offseason.
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October 07, 2006
This Could Be Bad
The Yankees early exit from the playoffs might be a really bad thing. Some Red Sox fans might find this a time to rejoice. The Yankees, like the Red Sox, were a flawed team. Their offense was fine, but their pitching had holes.
The Yankees had 2 starter arms they could count on coming in the post-season. Johnson was ailing and beyond that, they had concerns, Jaret Wright being one of them.
So now that they’ve left the playoffs so quickly, expect that the Yankees "wrath will be terrible, their retribution swift."* That is to say they are going to spend lots of money on lots of free agents.
They are going to identify trade partners and secure better pitchers than they had in 2006. It could get ugly for the Red Sox. The last thing Boston needs is the Yankees in on every one of their free agent targets.
I don’t know exactly what this means of course. George Steinbrenner has proven to be a bit of a different man these past few years, but history suggests this will be a very uncomfortable off-season for Brian Cashman and Joe Torre. Enough so that they, especially Cashman, will work harder than ever.
As for the Red Sox, there is much baseball to play, so don’t expect more than rumors at this point to satisfy your hot stove cravings.
Here is a cut/paste from MLB.com of important dates:
November 13-17, 2006 – General managers meeting, Naples, FL
December 4-7, 2006 – Winter Meetings, Orlando, FL
Wow, those are the only 2 entries MLB has on it site for off-season date of importance. Fairly weak.
For a much better site that has all of 2006 AND 2007 dates check out this page on Cot’s Baseball Contracts.
* Yes, I am a nerd.
October 02, 2006
Hitting and Pitching
The Red Sox ditched hitting coach Ron Jackson and pitching coach Dave Wallace today. Give the Red Sox credit, they didn’t waste any time making this decision.
In addition they announced Jonathan Papelbon will join the rotation in 2007. As you might know, I like lists, so here is a list of the potential starters for 2007:
The others that might be in the mix include:
Hansack (he of the 5 inning no-hitter yesterday)
The first 4 look solid enough assuming they stay healthy (big assumption, I know), but the 5th isn’t as certain. It would be really nice to get a bonafide starter in the mix because as we know, you can never have enough starting pitching.
Anyway, the news is certain to come in fits and spurts and I’ll do my best to get it relayed.