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October 28, 2013

Transaction Analysis

Welcome Matt

by R.J. Anderson

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

BOSTON RED SOX
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquired UTL-R Alex Castellanos from the Dodgers for OF-L Jeremy Hazelbaker and cash considerations. [10/23]

Designated RHP Pedro Beato for assignment. [10/23]

Participating in the World Series didn't stop the Red Sox from swapping spare parts with the Dodgers. Castellanos captures imagination with his power and defensive versatility—he's tallied 87 extra-base hits and played five positions during his time in Triple-A these past two seasons—but, like a car without a steering wheel, those parts require others to be effective. This is where Castellanos falls short. He swings hard and likes to drop the bat head on the ball, yet he strikes out too often for comfort; defensively, he plays all over due to necessity, not novelty. The upside here is limited, likely to bat-first super-sub, but that's fine considering Hazelbaker's ceiling is extra outfielder. Should Castellanos hang onto a spot through the offseason, expect to see him take a few cuts for the Red Sox in 2014.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Named Matt Williams manager. [10/25]

Last week, the Reds promoted from within when they named Bryan Price manager. The Nationals—another talented team coming off a disappointing season—had the same opportunity, having interviewed its incumbent bench coach Randy Knorr and third-base coach Trent Jewett for the skipper position. Yet general manager Mike Rizzo opted to go outside the organization by hiring Williams; the Nationals reportedly wish to retain Knorr's services, so you get the feeling this is (perhaps paradoxically) less about new blood and more about familiarity.

Rizzo and Williams have known each other since their days in Arizona. That relationship was enough for a few reporters, Jon Heyman included, to name Williams a hot candidate for the job some two months in advance. (It is worth noting, in light of cronyism accusations, that Williams had interviewed for other managerial openings in the past.) Still, while Rizzo knows Williams as a human being, Williams the manager is an unknown quantity. His lone managerial experience came in the Arizona Fall League, and he's coached for just two seasons.

The former All-Star third baseman has the cachet to lead a clubhouse, and seemingly the toughness, too—as Williams' on-the-field incidents this season evidence—but does he have the touch? There's more to being the top dog than the bark, or as Thomas Boswell wrote, "[For] a century baseball has periodically picked these square-shouldered, crush-your-knuckles types—the so-called Peerless Leaders [...] some, like Chuck Tanner, Torre and Walter Alston, have done well because they understood the heart as well as the cold stare."

Whether Washington's new Peerless Leader understands the heart is to be determined, he does seem to understand the GM and the GM understands him. Organizational harmony is important and useful for reasons beyond the obvious: last year, Colin Wyers considered the new trend in hiring inexperienced managers as a way for front offices to have more input on strategical issues. Whether Rizzo intends to use Williams in a game of telephone is unclear. But, if nothing else, Rizzo can trust Williams—and that's why he hired him.

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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