Mistake Made?

I have been wondering if I made a mistake in regards to Russell Martin. I didn’t think the Yankees should offer him arbitration and while they “took” my advice, we have learned tonight that the Pirates have signed him to a two-year deal for $17-million.

I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if the Yankees had offered Martin arbitration? For $13.3-million in 2013, I imagine he would have accepted. The Yankees would have kept their starting catcher, but avoided a payroll commitment beyond 2013. Furthermore, even if he had rejected it, I find it hard to believe that Martin would have gotten the deal he got tonight,

But, that ship has sailed. Now the Yankees need to figure out what to do next. I vote for nothing. The Yankees have Cervelli, Stewart and Romine under contract. Considering the options out there, why not just let that trio head to camp and battle it out? Yes, I imagine they won’t get the same production as they would have from Martin, but they just might find their catcher of the future (Romine) or a decent substitute (Cervelli). Either way, at this point there is no reason to spend 2014 salary on catching. The best choice is off the board.

Opportunity Cost

The word is that Andy Pettitte will return next year for $12 million. The rumor is Mariano will shortly do a similar deal.

As a Yankee fan, there is probably nothing more that I want to see than Mariano take the mound again in 2013. Watching Pettitte pitch is somewhere behind that, but not too far behind. The problem is, I am not sure these are very good baseball moves.

Now in the old days, George would have signed these two guys and wouldn’t have attached those costs to the budget. The problem is, these aren’t the old days. For the last few years we have repeatedly heard Hal and Cashman talk about a budget and how they had to stretch to get to that budget. Well, if there is a similar budget for 2013, the Yankees just made a big mistake.

The fact is Andy Pettitte is 40-years old and hasn’t thrown more than 129 innings in the bigs since 2009. He was brilliant in 2012, but his brilliance was only over 75 innings. Yes, it was a freak liner that put him on the DL, but in 2010 it was his groin. These are risks you could take when he made $2.5 million, but at $12 million this is a very expensive gamble.

And that brings me to Mariano. He is the last guy I would bet against, but the fact remains that he is 43 and coming back from a major injury. Giving him $12 million is another very expensive gamble.

Now none of this matters if there isn’t really a budget for next year. But, if we hear Brian Cashman say that he had to expand the budget or couldn’t make a move because of the budget, I hope some reporter asks him why he spent almost $25-million on two pitchers with big question marks hanging over them.

Gomes

Update: Done deal, Gomes on board for 2 years at $10 million total.

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MLBTraderumors is reporting that they Red Sox and Jonny Gomes are set to sign a two year deal.

Gomes, who is going to replace Cody Ross, doesn’t have overwhelming numbers. He has decent power, but lacks plate discipline and hits for a mediocre average. Ideally he’ll be used in a platoon as he has hit lefties at a .894 OPS vs. righties at a .732 OPS in his 10-year MLB career. I say he will replace Ross, but you never know they might end up signing Ross too.

This isn’t a major signing (assuming it comes to fruition) but Gomes can be a useful player for the Red Sox in 2013.

Step One

Buster Olney is reporting that the Yankees have reached an agreement with Hiroki Kuroda on a one-year deal for $15-million plus incentives that are less than a million. This is very good news.

Now the Yankees know they head into the season with Kuroda and Sabathia atop their rotation. They will probably bring back Andy Pettitte and they still have Hughes, Nova and Phelps all ready to go as well. This gives them options. They could dangle Hughes in the trade market and see if someone will give them something good back. They can bring Pettitte back and go into camp with six starters. (Not a bad idea as we saw this year.) And, when Swisher and Soriano leave, which is almost a certainty, the Yankees will rack up two additional draft picks.

Florida Fire Sale- UPDATED

Interesting news out of Miami where the Marlins have reportedly traded away most of their remaining big contracts. By doing this, the Marlins have now only $16 million committed to their 2013 payroll, not including their arbitration-eligible players.

Now there are two things that this brings up in my mind.

1- The citizens of the Miami area just shelled out a lot of money to build the Marlins a new ballpark. People in Miami were not at all happy with the way this ballpark was financed out of their pockets and these moves will only increase the perception that they have been fleeced.

2- A lot of MLB owners are already upset that Jeffrey Loria received support from other MLB teams when he was making plenty of money. How will this trade make those owners feel?

To me Bud Selig should invoke the “Best Interests of Baseball” clause and block this trade. The Florida fans have been sold out time and again and this latest betrayal could be the death of baseball in South Florida. (We can debate if baseball should be played in South Florida another time, but they spent $650 million on a new stadium so they are stuck with baseball for now.) This trade is a betrayal of trust. Loria destroyed the Expos, are the owners and the Commissioner wiling to let him destroy another team?

UPDATE Keith Law said it really well and added a great word (limicolous) in his assessment of the trade:

Those limicolous owners are the greatest joke of all in this deal, rooking Florida taxpayers for a publicly funded stadium, only to make one half-hearted attempt to fill it with a contending team, then surrendering after the season to return to their old business model, playing a skeleton-crew lineup while pocketing all of their revenue-sharing money. This isn’t a bad baseball deal for Miami; it’s not a baseball deal at all — it’s a boondoggle, perpetrated by owners who have pulled one stunt like this after another, with the implicit approval of the commissioner’s office. It’s time for baseball to rid itself of Jeff Loria and David Samson by any means possible. Miami, the state of Florida, and the sport in general will be better off without them.

OBP

Remember when the Red Sox line-up made life difficult for the opposing pitcher? Remember? Red Sox/Yankee games would last 4+ hours because neither team gave away an at bat.

The Red Sox line-up that ended the 2012 season was not that kind of line-up. They did give away at bats and didn’t know how to battle as a whole. It is this reason I believe the Red Sox are poised to trade Jarrod Saltalamacchia away. Salty provided some nice pop last year, but his sub .300 OBP was a virtual blackhole in the line-up. With the signing of David Ross to a two-year deal yesterday, the Red Sox have the depth to move Salty.

Now while giving the catching duties to Ryan Lavarnway and Ross is a bit risky, both players will make like more difficult for opposing pitchers than will Salty. Lavarnway struggled in his call-up last year, but his minor league hitting suggests a batter who has much better plate discipline than we say in 2012.

Ben Cherington’s co-main goal this off-season should be to improve the overall OBP of this team (the other being starting pitching). While OBP is down around the league over the past few years, the Red Sox .315 team OBP was good for 21st in the Majors. 21st. The Yankees were 2nd at .337. The Red Sox had OBPs of .349 in 2011, .339 in 2010, .352 in 2019 and .358 in 2008, all good for top 4 in baseball or better.

OBPs in 2012:

Ortiz – .415
Pedroia – .347
Middlebrooks – .325
Ellsbury – .315 (it’ll be very interesting to see how Boros spins this come free agency for Ellsbury)
Ross – .326
Gonzalez (while here) .343
Crawford (while here) .306
Aviles – .282
Saltalamacchia – .288
Ciriaco – .313
Loney – .264

In fact it is amazing to see how they could have had such a poor team OBP with Ortiz getting on at a .415 clip. Wow. No matter what they did last year, the 2013 Red Sox have to get on base more. And the next batting coach(es) will play a role in that.

The Red Sox need to be hard to pitch to and need to get the starting pitcher out of the game by the 5th or 6th inning each night. Sadly, without some major moves, the Red Sox probably don’t have the horses to get this done next season, but I’ll let Cherington surprise me with his moves as he too much surely know things can’t stay the same.

David Ortiz

The Red Sox wrapped up David Ortiz for 2 years at $26mm. That is a big price to pay a player who just hits and is 37 years old. But the Red Sox have the financial flexibility and Ortiz was very productive when healthy past year.

It is a risky signing, especially since Ortiz’s motivation to come to camp in great shape has been greatly diminished seeing as this could be his last deal. Given the lack of free agent alternatives I have no problem with this deal.

There are rumors swirling that the Red Sox might make an offer for Dan Haren. One scenario had the Red Sox swapping bad contracts with the Angels in Vernon Wells for John Lackey with the Red Sox sending whatever else is necessary to pry away Haren.

To echo Peter’s thoughts, all the best to those who got clobbered by Hurricane Sandy. If you haven’t already, please give generously to the Red Cross. www.redcross.org.