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February 11, 2013

Transaction Analysis

All Up Hill From Here?

by R.J. Anderson

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Claimed RHP Todd Redmond off waivers from the Reds. [2/8]

Designated OF-S Trayvon Robinson for assignment. [2/8]

Redmond came to Cincinnati via the Paul Janish deal. Knowing this, you can guess about his limited upside. Sure, Redmond looks physical and durable; he might be the latter but he isn't the former. His fastball goes average speeds and he relies on mixing speeds and locations. As a cheap no. 6 or 7 starter you can do worse. Just hope he doesn't start more than a few times per season. 

CLEVELAND INDIANS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka to a minor-league deal. [2/10]

Signed DH-L Jason Giambi to a minor-league deal. [2/9]

Matsuzaka reunites with Terry Francona in a lower-stakes environment than the one the two endured in Boston. Everyone knows about Matsuzaka's struggles and tendency to nibble, but what stuck out last season was his inability to put batters away. Opponents had a .605 OPS and .354 BABIP against Matsuzaka in two-strike counts, as opposed to the big-league average of .517 and .291. Even if you discount some of that to luck and random variation, the remainder points to a problem at hand. This is a low-cost arrangement (Matsuzaka can make up to $4 million) and the Indians could use the depth.

Once a feared, tattooed slugger with punk-rock sensibilities, Giambi is nearing the executive phase of his professional life. He almost became the Rockies manager, and is now willing to head to the minors to continue playing. It's not clear Giambi can offer much to the Indians. He tied for the league lead last season in something we'll call Giambi Rate (walks divided by total bases). Only Daric Barton and Mark DeRosa could touch his 0.7 score. Lou Marson and Nick Punto round out the top five. It's not a great class, but you figure the Indians will treat Giambi with respect. Who knows, he might manage them one day.

SEATTLE MARINERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed LHP Joe Saunders to a one-year deal worth $6.5 million with a mutual option for 2014. [2/7]

Designated RHP Shawn Kelley for assignment. [2/7]

Safeco Field helped Jarrod Washburn and Jason Vargas look better than they were. Now it'll try its reconfigured hand in helping Saunders. There is one other catch in those comparisons: the Mariners no longer have an elite defense on paper, at least in the outfield. Still, a good deal of Saunders' success has come from his ability to generate timely double-play balls. Seattle's infield defense should be solid, depending on who plays first, so maybe Saunders will be fine. The mutual option could make him an enticing trade piece at the deadline for a contender in need.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Re-signed 2B-R Aaron Hill to a three-year extension worth $35 million. [2/8]

The frontrunner for toughest deal of the new year to analyze. Hill is as steady and predictive as a drunkard's walk. He's been good bordering on great since arriving in Arizona in mid-2011. What about those inconsistent Toronto years, though? Preferring Jay Bell's stomping grounds to those of Bell Canada isn't enough of an explanation. At the heart of it you figure Hill is a talented, if maddeningly inconsistent player. He could make this extension look savvy just as easily as he could make Kevin Towers break out his sludge merchant techniques in 10 months' time. If we accept Justin Upton and Chris Young were traded, at least in part, due to their volatility, then what does Hill have that they don't? Perhaps it's what he lacks (for now): a disappointing season in Arizona.

MIAMI MARLINS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed UTL-S Chone Figgins to a minor-league deal. [2/8]

From a seven-WARP season to a minor-league deal in three years. As best as I can tell, Figgins is the third to go from a five-or-more-win season to three consecutive replacement-level WARP scores. The other two were Mark Loretta and Roberto Alomar. Loretta still hit during his off-stretch, he just made fun of FRAA in middle school and gets punished for it here. Alomar, on the other hand, fell apart. If Figgins follows Alomar's path he'll end up at the Hall of Fame someday. He'll also retire in camp this spring. 

LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed RHP Mark Lowe to a minor-league deal. [2/8]

Lowe posted the best ERA+ of his career last season. His reward is a minor-league deal with a team heavy on relief arms. Rats. Lowe's arm strength is fantastic; he doesn't need an exaggerated leg kick, or much of a leg kick at all, to sit in the mid-90s. His slider is lethal against right-handed batters, but he doesn't have an effective offering against left-handers. The result is a large platoon split indicating Lowe is best used as a ROOGY. Lowe's command woes hamper his ability to miss bats as often as the stuff suggests he should, and he's missed time due to injury in each of the past three seasons. With all that said, Lowe is still a capable middle reliever. He'll work his way into the Dodgers bullpen.

R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

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