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January 26, 2010

Transaction Action

Sheets, Miggy, and Chooch

by Christina Kahrl

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BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Signed INF-R Miguel Tejada to a one-year, $6 million contract. [1/25]

I don't know what's sillier, touting this as a happy event, or pointing to how one-year rentals of Tejada and Garrett Atkins demonstrates progress as much as nailing down placeholders until real progress can be made. Employing Tejada won't substantively affect where the Orioles finish in the standings, it's just Angelos money trickling down into another wealthy person's pocket, and Miguel Tejada ceased being a big deal a few years ago. If this is cause for nostalgia, what is it nostalgia for, the ill-spent recent past in Orioles history? Putting Tejada in the toughest division in the tougher league isn't going to help him any, and headed into his age-36 season, he's hardly primed for a happy reunion. Projecting him as an Astro for 2010 already involved a likely decline to a .257 EqA, which is playable at short as bats go, less so at third, and you can expect his updated projection to drop once it's made for the AL East, to the point that he may not be a sure thing as far as improvement on Ty Wigginton or Michael Aubrey. While it's probably better to have renewed a relationship with Tejada than ever getting involved with Atkins, doing both isn't progress, it's more like Melvin Mora: The Return by another name, another expensive and underwhelming pantomime of major-league moves while waiting on Josh Bell. (Brandon Snyder's going to have to hit a lot more than he has to really make a good prospect at first base, which is why I find the rumor of Nolan Reimold moving to first so entirely believable.)

The question worth asking is whether or not Tejada will be a good third baseman. The assumption is generally yes when we're talking about a shortstop moving to a less-difficult position, and Tejada's always seemed to have the arm for third base. Evaluations of his performance at short in recent seasons have varied, with FRAA and Plus/Minus suggesting he's been around adequate or so in two of the last three years, and UZR just one; taken together, that seems to dovetail nicely with a general expectation that he's overdue for a move away from short. Even so, I don't think we can take quality work at third for granted; we'll see if he ends up having any A-Rod-like struggles in adapting to the position, but given that it's just a year's worth of the Orioles' time, and that they won't contend anyway, if it goes badly, there's no great loss, and if it turns out well, that's nice for the pitchers in-season and Miggy's next spin with free agency subsequently.


DETROIT TIGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Outrighted 4C-L Jeff Larish to Toledo (Triple-A). [1/25]

This was the belated after-effect of the Valverde deal, as it took MLB that long to sign off on the contract, creating the need for a subsequent move to make space on the 40-man roster. You can wonder whether they wouldn't have been better off outrighting utilityman Don Kelly or an upside-free utility right-hander like Eddie Bonine, but that's picking nits: Larish isn't much of an asset anywhere afield but first base, and his power didn't pop quite enough to make him seem like a useful bench alternative to Brandon Inge at third. Kelly, in contrast, might do enough other things to make a more viable big-league reserve, between his batting lefty, his baserunning, and an ability to play everywhere but pitcher or catcher.


KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Designated SS-R Mario Lisson for assignment. [1/25]

This was the other element from their signing Rick Ankiel, and they're already locked in at 40 on the 40-man. While Lisson has more power than most minor-league shortstops, he's failed to hit with much authority above A-ball these last two seasons, his walk rate's bounced around six percent, and he's no lock to stick at short. Heading into his age-26 season, of course his spot on a 40-man should have been at risk, if not now, then later, whenever a non-roster invite struck Trey Hillman's fancy.


LOS ANGELES ANGELS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Agreed to terms with INF-S Maicer Izturis on a three-year, $10 million contract, avoiding arbitration. [1/25]

Izturis is a lovely little insurance policy to have around, whether against further frustrations with Howie Kendrick, or should Erick Aybar get injured, or just in case Brandon Wood's bid to be a latter-day Matt Williams-type falters. Regardless, he's a good enough offensive contributor to add value whatever the position among second, short, and third, and a good enough defender at any of them to be playable, even with recent statistical suggestions that he's losing ground at short. The Halos now have him under team control through his age-31 season, rather than risk his walking via free agency after the 2010 season. All in all, it's not too shabby a turn of events for a throw-in on Jim Bowden's predictably dumb deal that briefly, regrettably put Jose Guillen in DC for Izturis and Juan Rivera.


OAKLAND ATHLETICS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Signed RHP Ben Sheets to a one-year, $10 million base contract. [1/26]

With reports zig-zagging between $8 and $10 million as far as how much his deal stands to be worth, it's important to keep in mind that this isn't really about signing Ben Sheets to inspire hope and faith in Oakland. In a sense, it's about doing Ben Sheets a favor. Rather than put the comebacking pitcher through the difficulties of sorting through which notional contender he should sign with, his agent has landed his client in the closest contretemps to a sure thing as far as winding up in a playoff race as is possible this late in the signing season: Oakland.

Not because the A's are going to contend, of course. They won't. But rather than do something noisome-say, like signing with the Mets-and guessing which interested team might be a contender this year, and then making a decision he might regret, he's settling for the next-best thing: playing for a team that's sure to deal him to a playoff race. Sure, Sheets is signed for a bunch of money, but it isn't like Oakland's going to be paying all of it. He'll get to spend four months pitching for a club where there no expectations, essentially rehabbing at the big-league level, prior to seeing a third of his season (and many of his paydays) come with the contender he'll be traded to sometime around the end of July. It's easier than picking from among the current suitors, certainly, and with Sheets' career already punctuated by so many injuries and absences, it's probably the canniest way of making sure that, if he's healthy at the end of July, he'll wind up in a pennant race. Why wouldn't you want to bet on Billy Beane's capacity to deal you, rather than pretend to know that the Mets will matter? If the Mets do matter, you might get traded to them, but you won't have shackled yourself to their mast in case they're already sunk by May.

The A's get tangible and notional benefits out of this, of course. They get attached to signing somebody for a good chunk of change, as opposed to trading for someone signed for big money (as they did with Matt Holliday last season), or merely re-upping somebody from within their own house. That ought to help them get taken seriously in future negotiations, regardless of whether or not they intend to keep such a veteran or merely rent him, a la Sheets. Whether or not you want to consider this a new market inefficiency or just a recent iteration of an existing one hardly matters: if Sheets is capable of being an ace-level pitcher again and delivers, you get the direct benefit of that for at least four months. When the standings then dictate that you convert the last two months of Sheets into the best available package of prospects, that's a reasonable conversion: four months of an ace equals goodies you don't currently have, and for the expense involved (say, $5-7 million), you're ideally acquiring somewhat finished products in terms of the prospects. If Sheets does less well, you get worse prospects. The worst-case plausible scenario is that Sheets gets hurt, but if the deal contains a good amount of hedging as far as the total outlay depending on games started or innings pitched, so much the better.

The least tangible element in terms of math or markets is that it isn't going to hurt to have a designated alpha A-one front-end starter in the house. Whether or not there's anything Sheets can impart to Brett Anderson or Dallas Braden, Trevor Cahill or Vin Mazzaro, that's lovely. I doubt this means Justin Duchscherer's headed to the pen, although I wouldn't rule it out; such a scenario would depend on whether or not Sheets is ready to go on Opening Day and all of the kids having great camps. For now, it seems more likely that Cahill and Mazzaro and Gio Gonzalez will all be fighting among themselves to stake claims for the fifth slot, while an idealized front four of Sheets, Duke, Anderson, and Braden are tasked with demonstrating health and readiness.


TEXAS RANGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Designated UT-L Joe Inglett for assignment. [1/25]

HOUSTON ASTROS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Agreed to terms with LHP Tim Byrdak on a one-year, $1.6 million contract, avoiding arbitration. [1/24]

With the Astros poor-mouthing their current lot, it's more than a little amusing to see them then turn around and waste this kind of money on a bad situational lefty. However nice Byrdak's ERA appears to be (3.23), he wasn't especially effective as a situational southpaw, giving up six homers to lefties in 125 PAs (.184/.312/.388 overall), and getting knocked around in tighter contests (contributing to his ugly -0.095 WXRL), rating him among baseball's least-effective relievers when it came to stranding inherited baserunners, all of which contributed to a more telling 4.31 FRA. This is exactly the sort of guy you don't go out of your way to invite to arbitration: he's a filler talent whose performance is easily overrated, and the sort any organization worth its salt should be able to replace from among the ranks of similar filler talents, probably with a few well-selected NRIs. You can be broke, or you can be smart, but either way, you don't want to afford yourself Tim Byrdak at four times the minimum.


MILWAUKEE BREWERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Agreed to terms with RHP David Bush on a one-year, $4.215 million contract, avoiding arbitration. [1/25]

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Agreed to terms with C-R Carlos Ruiz on a three-year, $8.85 million contract extension, with a $5 million club option for 2013 ($500,000 buyout), and avoiding arbitration; signed RHP Jose Contreras to a one-year, $1 million contract. [1/25]

You might mistake Ruiz for a young player-don't. He just turned 31, and he's older than Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino, and Jayson Werth, and only a month or two younger than Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins. So giving a catcher of that age a multi-year commitment of this sort isn't exactly risk-free. Sure, it's sensible, as they bought out his three arbitration seasons for a price that might have been less than he stood to win in three consecutive hearings if he remained healthy and productive. But there's the risk: he'd have to remain healthy and productive to guarantee himself those sorts of paydays. Offered this kind of security plus a tasty payoff for his age-34 season if he's still going strong makes plenty of sense for him, and it's entirely defensible for the cost certainty it provides the Phillies in the meantime.

A different question is whether or not he's really all that. As a Philly Phield-generated phenomenon, he's not really that special as offensive contributors go: his career road hitting clip is .238/.323/.343, with his home park adding a good 80 points of ISO to his clip. His walk rates aren't terrible, but eliminate the team-dependent factor of his getting to hit eighth most of his career (with the intentional freebies that come with the job), and he's drawn walks in 9.1 percent of his plate appearances, and would probably drop even further were he tasked with a more significant role than he has to be as a Phillie. Happily, that doesn't appear to be a problem: snuggled down that low in the order, and backed up with a quality reserve in Brian Schneider, he'll have the benefit of missing the odd tough right-hander, and getting decent rest from the daily grind of receiving. Chooch's offensive numbers should drop from last season's spike, but not all that steeply, since he'll still walk a little and the physical fact of the park should mean he'll continue to hit for power at home. I wouldn't bet against a .400 SLG and an OBP around .340 the next couple of seasons, which is pretty valuable. Whether or not he ages well depends on whether or not he avoids a major injury, but he's a nimble receiver who contributes effectively to deterring the opposition's running game. Because of his age, there's no unrealized greatness, just a fine little player having a nice career, and realizing a worthwhile payday.


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

Related Content:  A's,  Depth,  Tim Byrdak,  Year Of The Injury,  Depth Chart,  A-rod,  Contender

45 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

ScottyB

Sheets won't be traded after his arm falls off in June (and I can't imagine this contract is insured)

Jan 26, 2010 15:09 PM
rating: -2
 
TGisriel

I don't agree with your negativity on the Tejada signing. (I agree with your disapproval of the Atkins signing).

As with all decisions, this decision must be placed in context. The Orioles had an absolute hole at 3B. It was listed as the worst team 3B in baseball in Jaffe's recent article. The Orioles wisely decided not to re-sign Mora. The options were: 1. Bring up Josh Bell prematurely; 2. Play Ty Wigginton at 3B, or 3. Play Atkins at 3B and Aubrey at 1B,or 4. Sign Tejada.

Let's look at those options. 1. Bring up Bell prematurely would be a bad decision because it would both jeopardize his contnued development and start the arbitration/free agency clock running prematurely.

2. Ty Wigginton was terrible last year. His EQA was .239, and he proved he can't play 3B posting a 72 Rate in 39 games.

3. Alkins posted Rates of 95 and 88 when he played 3B full time in 2006 and 2007. His Rates improved in part time play at 3B in 2008 and 2009, but nothing that suggests he is a good defensive 3B. While there is something to be said for Aubrey at 1B (I prefer him over Atkins), committing to Atkins at 3B and Aubrey at 1B is a bad bet. Obviously the O's hope that Atkins rekindles his 30 HR stroke, or that Aubrey develops. Keeping both and hoping (wishcasting) that one pans out makes some sense. Counting on both is foolhardy. Let them both play 1B until one emerges.

4. Tejada is not the force he once was. He's also not getting paid like he once was. Last year he got $14 million. This year he'll get $6 million. The signing is apparently very popular with the Orioles players (Roberts, Markakis and Jones have all been quoted with positive comments). He's a place holder for Josh Bell signed for one year. He won't block Bell's development. I'm aware of the line of thought that the Orioles and teams like them shouldn't sign free agents until they're really ready to contend. Each signing should be evaluated in context. The Orioles needed to fill a hole temporarily. A one year contract does not block the anticipated development of Bell. While Tejada will not be the MVP level player he once was, he will be a significant improvment on last year's performance and on the other options. You have access to the 2010 PECOTA and we don't, but if, as you say the projection for 2010 is .257, it is calling for a decrease in one year of 22 points, and an increase of only one point from last year's PECOA projection when Tejada was coming off an injury marred down year. Apparently PECOA thinks 2009 was a fluke. I'll take the over.

The O's are a better team with this signing. It is a better choice than the other options available to them. Isn't that the best test when evaluating a transaction?

Jan 26, 2010 16:06 PM
rating: 6
 
BP staff member Christina Kahrl
BP staff
(11)

Tom, don't get me wrong, the worst part of this isn't a one-year commitment to Tejada, it's more sort of like the Giants' predicament with signing Freddy Sanchez too soon, in that Atkins is potentially useless and expensive, and not too likely to deliver more than an Aubregginton platoon at first base. I don't see (1) as having ever been all that likely--there's nothing at stake, so there's no reason to call up Bell before he's ready. The rest is just expense while marking time, sort of like a season-ticket package. ;)

Jan 26, 2010 17:07 PM
 
zstine1

what it might be all about is generating some attention for the team. i live in baltimore, and the tejada signing has generated the most baltimore baseball conversation of anything that happened this offseason. if you're going to sign a one year place filler for a non-contending team, he might as well have at least one purpose.

Jan 26, 2010 17:14 PM
rating: 4
 
gregorybfoley

In 2009 Tejada walked in only 2.8% of his PA's. That's the second lowest among qualified batters right in between Bengie Molina and Cristian Guzman.

Jan 26, 2010 18:04 PM
rating: 3
 
LouisArighi

He's a keeper!

Jan 27, 2010 13:12 PM
rating: 0
 
Steve D.

I feel like BP worries far too much these days about how other people spend their money. Maybe if the Orioles were making a playoff push this year and had only limited funds to spend, or if this signing made it less likely that one of the younger guys would get extended, it would be worth complaining about. Neither is the case.

The signing does not affect future expenditures and does not alter the youth plan. If Angelos wants to spend $6MM to bring him back as window dressing, who cares? Was there a better signing to be made that would improve the 2011 team?

Jan 27, 2010 06:06 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Christina Kahrl
BP staff
(11)

Point well taken. I know that I'm less than wildly enthusiastic about Tejada, but that seems a lot less of a bad idea than, say, Atkins, for whom the problem is that much more a matter of cost and anticipated performance. The long-term problem is that the Orioles have had to overpay for some generally unwise free-agent investments (Marty Cordova and the relief trio come to mind), just to show that they too are players in the market. Maybe those moves contributed towards convincing other, more important pieces to stick around (Brian Roberts), and maybe not. Putting Tejada back on the team does seem to have been a PR success, and that's something the club could use, and here again, maybe it helps send a message to free agents and their agents, as well as younger players. Maybe. If Tejada's merely adequate, that's relative improvement, although I doubt it'll translate into a big impact on the club's spot in the standings; that's geography as destiny for you, though. This should be a fun team for all that, and things should be really interesting in 2011.

Jan 27, 2010 08:24 AM
 
CRP13

I have to completely agree, but for another reason. I watched Tejada play with the Astros for 2 seasons, and in 2008 it seemed to me that he put the team on his back and drug them into season-ending competitiveness just by the force of his personality. The guy comes off as genuinely likeable, and from all I've read, teammates love him. The Astros players certainly wanted him back.

As unpopular as the notion is in some circles, yesterday Steven Goldman pointed out that stats aren't always everything and in this case I can absolutely see the Tejada signing as a pick-me-up for a clubhouse that knows it won't contend in 2009, but definitely has a future as the Yankees and Red Sox age un-gracefully. As far as free-agent signings go for teams in a transitional season, I really like this one. The money's not obscene, he WILL contribute offensively to a certain extent, the fans love him, and he could have a 2009 Griffey-esque impact on the clubhouse.

Jan 27, 2010 08:47 AM
rating: 2
 
CRP13

"won't contend in 2010" I meant of course.

Jan 27, 2010 08:50 AM
rating: 0
 
LouisArighi

I'm unclear as to your use of the Steven Goldman article to support your point that clubhouse chemistry is important (my paraphrasing, excuse me if I have misunderstood your point). My reading of the article was that even a guy who had "great" chemistry wasn't worth keeping on the team unless he was also good at baseball.

Jan 27, 2010 13:15 PM
rating: 2
 
Randolph314

How in the world did Sheets get more money than Harden? Or, maybe more to the point - why would the A's give Sheets $10m if they weren't willing to give Harden $7m?

Jan 26, 2010 16:08 PM
rating: 2
 
kterbest

Maybe Harden wasn't willing to sign with the A's...

Jan 26, 2010 17:08 PM
rating: 1
 
Randolph314

Fair point - maybe the A's offered Harden more and he refused (why he would rather pitch in Arlington I have no idea). But even then why would the A's have given Sheets so much money? If Harden only signed for $6.5m it seems unlikely other teams were offering Sheets in the range of $10m. This feels like the A's bidding against themselves.

Jan 26, 2010 17:14 PM
rating: 1
 
zstine1

maybe harden didn't want to be traded mid-year, as we assume sheets will be. there could be lingering resentment over his trade from last year. also, it is possible that the a's medical staff knows something even worse than what we know about harden.

Jan 26, 2010 17:17 PM
rating: 3
 
BP staff member Christina Kahrl
BP staff
(11)

For grins and to see if I can make the formatting work, let's dial it out to three-year comparison, since both of them essentially missed one of the last three seasons:


Sheets GS SNLVAR SNWP BB% K% HR%

2007 24 5.1 .551 5.9 17.9 2.9
2008 31 6.2 .575 5.5 19.5 2.1
2009 -- --- --- --- ---- ---
Harden GS SNLVAR SNWP BB% K% HR%

2007 4 1.0 .622 10.0 27.0 3.0
2008 25 6.9 .651 9.9 30.4 1.9
2009 26 2.7 .488 10.2 28.1 3.8


To some extent, Harden was relatively healthy and relatively mediocre, something he hadn't really achieved before. Sheets can't make that same claim, and is purportedly healthy. Sheets, if healthy, would at least have his former ace cred going for him, plus he's the one of them between the two who has managed a 30-start season in the last five years between the two of them; Harden can now add some element of performance unreliability to an equally long history for fragility. Add in that Harden hasn't managed six innings per start since 2005, while Sheets did that in two of his three seasons since.

I think it's overpaying for the devil you don't know, sure, but I can see some of the arguments in its defense.

Jan 26, 2010 18:10 PM
 
gregorybfoley

Clearly these two are both good pitchers. You could prefer Harden's K's or Sheets's combination of skills but the key in evaluating these two contracts is to know which pitcher is healthier and to know that we would need access to medical records and physical that we don't have.

Jan 26, 2010 21:56 PM
rating: 2
 
Richard Bergstrom

The funny thing is, it's not like Sheets was great at staying healthy before missing last year... $10 million is a lot to gamble that he'll be a tradeable commodity at the midseason mark.

Jan 27, 2010 08:36 AM
rating: 3
 
ferret

I think another consideration is teams want to be seen spending money and not get the notoriety of the Marlins (and Union involvement). This deal makes more sense to me as an "investment" with the return being a young player or two rather than an attempt to win a division.

Jan 26, 2010 17:32 PM
rating: 0
 
Dano

This is a good point since the A's are paying only 10 guys more than $1M this season and 5 more than $3M.

Jan 27, 2010 09:29 AM
rating: 0
 
grover

That was never really an issue. The A's were already on the hook for just under $44 million in payroll this season before signing Sheets, which was ~$9 million more than the Marlins are currently spending with Uggla on the roster. Plus the A's have spent ~$13 million on the draft over the past two seasons. The rules say that revenue sharing moneys must be spent on improving the team; investing in the draft and spending on international amateur talent certainly qualifies.

Jan 27, 2010 17:50 PM
rating: 0
 
Randolph314

Harden struck out about 11 per inning last year, so I don't think you can call him mediocre. His RA was much worse in 2009 than 2008, but that was driven almost entirely by big spikes in BABIP and HR/F.

Jan 26, 2010 18:20 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Christina Kahrl
BP staff
(11)

OK, I could be glib and suggest that he was mediocre at things besides striking people out, except that's not true: his BABIP "spiked" back to the MLB average. If how he pitched had something to do with it, I sort of doubt that his having to pitch in Texas and in the DH league will help matters much, especially not his rate of HR/FB.

Jan 26, 2010 18:37 PM
 
Richard Bergstrom

Or his inability to throw more than five innings a start...

Jan 27, 2010 08:31 AM
rating: 0
 
silviomossa

Maybe it's just the fan in me, but I'm not quite ready to say that the A's aren't going to contend. Things need to break right, sure, especially with regards to health, but I think that's the case for the other four teams too. The ALW looks as wide open as it's been in a long time.

Jan 26, 2010 18:47 PM
rating: 2
 
uncasf1

I agree Silvio. I am a fan too. We have seen other teams seemingly come out of nowhere. Everything with the A's will depend on pitching, the great equalizer. Young pitching is very erratic but occasionally things jell. Sheets looks like a perfect fit as a veteran ace. Of course he is also a perfect gamble given his health concerns but I still like this signing better than a harden deal. Harden has always been the ace in waiting, never the ace.

Jan 26, 2010 19:40 PM
rating: 2
 
IvanGrushenko

Me too, I can envision a scenario whereby the A's win the division, and certainly one where they're within striking distance on July 31, but there is an element of wishcasting there and they're certainly my head's 4th choice in the division.

Jan 27, 2010 00:47 AM
rating: 0
 
hessshaun

I really don't think the A's need to concern themselves too much with pitching. In terms of their bats, that is where they have significant troubles in my opinion.

Also, as a side note, the last sentence of the A's portion reads, "Sheets, Duke, Anderson, and Braden are tasked with demonstrating health and readiness. "

Who the hell is Duke? Is that Justin Duchscherer?

Is that how you pronounce his name? To spare you the detail, my friends and I have been mispronouncing it for a long time.

Jan 27, 2010 08:58 AM
rating: -1
 
BP staff member Christina Kahrl
BP staff
(11)

You hear "Duck-sher" a lot, but per the A's (and their media guide), it's "Duke-sher."

Jan 27, 2010 11:23 AM
 
Dan W.

I've only ever heard DUKE-sher for a long time now, too, but seriously, where does he get away with just abridging an entire syllable of his own last name? Who's ever heard of a silent "-er"?

Jan 27, 2010 14:51 PM
rating: 0
 
elm
(41)

The English? Seriously, look at how Worcester and Leicester are pronounced. Granted, that more of a silent "ce" than a silent "er," but the principle always struck me as the same.

Jan 27, 2010 14:59 PM
rating: 0
 
Ogremace

He probably doesn't do it, lazy speech is the cause of this dropped syllable. People are confused by the "erer" succession and just mumble and clip it to a single muffled "err." Happens all the time.

Jan 28, 2010 09:39 AM
rating: 0
 
amazin_mess

I'm going to vomit if Minaya ends up sending Billy Beane prospects for a player he could have signed on his own. Better buy some Mylanta.

Jan 26, 2010 19:46 PM
rating: 2
 
IvanGrushenko

Well he would save whatever money the A's pay Sheets, and avoids the risk that Sheets breaks down on his 4th pitch of the season, but yeah, those aren't as high priorities for the Mets as keeping their prospects.

Jan 27, 2010 00:45 AM
rating: 1
 
Robotey

Maybe the Mets are doing something right, even if for the wrong reasons. They made reasonable offers to lots of mediocrity--Molina, Pineiro--and came away only with a decent bat in left for a decent price (Bay). Of all the FAs they missed out on only Figgins would have been both a good fit (for OBA) and went at a relatively inexpensive price. If the Mets regulars play like the stars they once were--Reyes, Beltran, Wright--then the Mets can stay close until the break and make a deal to get Sheets--which won't cost much. If they aren't close at the break, Molina and Pineiro or Randy Wolf wouldn't have gotten them there anyway.

Jan 29, 2010 19:11 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

A bit off-topic, but the other day, Nolan Ryan indicated that MLB had been running the Rangers since July. So does that mean MLB allowed the Rangers to increase payroll this season and also wanted that Mike Lowell trade to go through?

Jan 27, 2010 08:29 AM
rating: 2
 
Henry F.

Check Sheets career 1st half/2nd half splits. Beane is going to get maximal value out of Sheets by trading him right before he breaks down, probably suckering Jim Hendry while he does it.

Jan 27, 2010 09:13 AM
rating: 1
 
gaucho777

The trade Ben Sheets analysis makes even more sense when you consider that Josh Outman is expected back sometime in the second half of the season.

Jan 27, 2010 09:22 AM
rating: 0
 
Deadheadbrewer

Back to the Tejada signing--
The problem with it is the same as I've witnessed here in MN in the Twins' non-contending years. Rather than trying to save money when they have no chance at the division, the Twins historically (especially in the 90's) spend $10-20 mil. per year on middling talent and sentimental signings. Those signings might get them from 70 victories to 72 victories, but don't affect the standings or the turnstiles. If teams would resign themselves to being bad when they will be bad, trot out a low-payroll team in those seasons, and then honestly spend those "savings" in the years when they will contend, the bang for the buck is much higher.

The Twins should have been in a World Series in the past decade had they spent nothing in grim years and opened the vault in the contending seasons, but instead they try to field an "interesting" team every season. Baltimore appears to be doing the same thing by spending some real dollars on players who won't move them above fourth this season; they could save that money for 2011 when they just might be very real contenders.

Jan 27, 2010 09:25 AM
rating: 1
 
Drungo

Do you really have any confidence that major league teams have multi-year budgets for free agents that carry over? If the O's didn't sign Tejada, do you really think their 2010-11 free agent budget would go up by $6M?

I think it's a lot more likely that the team's financial performance in 2010 will be the overwhelming factor in how much they spend.

Jan 27, 2010 12:23 PM
rating: 4
 
Schere

Whether they have such budgets or not today, they should consider it for the reasons Deadheadbrewer mentions. It's clearly superior in terms of having a chance at a flag to fly forever. It may be worse in terms of business performance, I don't know. But it's not like these are publicly traded companies that need to meet quarterly earnings targets or face the wrath of an impatient public. If the business case is there for lumpier spending plans, they shouldn't have any trouble implementing them.

Having said that, I would point out that this is not, in fact, where the Orioles are now. But for three months in 2004, they have not been an "interesting" team since 1998 or so. They are still building a competitive core, the pitchers are still likely too green to form a useful core of a contender - PECOTA, for instance, has both Tillman and Matusz with below league average ERAs. So, Christina's right: they're marking time.

Jan 29, 2010 10:13 AM
rating: 0
 
haaser

Thanks for the one-liner on Bush. Can we get a non-Cubs fan to cover some of these things please.

Jan 27, 2010 10:18 AM
rating: -3
 
BP staff member Christina Kahrl
BP staff
(11)

A Cubs fan? That's a low blow, you wound me, but I stand so very falsely accused.

Really, what's to say about David Bush? He's making money, and the Brewers are paying him. That was an absolute certainty from the moment the Brewers elected to offer him arbitration rather than non-tender him, and that isn't recent news. We can talk about how smart it was to not give him a multi-year deal to buy out his first year of free agency, but it's just David Bush; we could just as easily talk about how smart the Brewers were to not give him a five-year, $50 million contract.

That said, there's one thing worth bringing up about David Bush that has nothing to do with his compensation, but which I stumbled across in one of my random data dives: he had the second-highest HBP rate of anybody with 40 IP last year, trailing only wild man Carlos Marmol. Indeed, from the Retrosheet Era, using that 40 IP cutoff, Bush's plunking 2.95 percent of opposing batters ranks 40th. Ratchet it up to 100 IP in a season, and Bush ranks third all-time from the last 50-plus years, behind Jerome Williams' 2004 season and Ken McBride in 1964. Which is sort of neat (as long as you don't have to bat against him), because it isn't like Bush has a big-time rep as a head-hunter.

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/statistics/sortable/index.php?cid=106572

Jan 27, 2010 11:36 AM
 
Jared

I was hoping for a line or two on Contreras, but good explanation on the Ruiz signing. Chooch is a very solid catcher, now hopefully he keeps progressing like he has... especially in the playoffs! He's certainly worth the risk, which isn't excessive anyways

Jan 27, 2010 17:09 PM
rating: 0
 
haaser

Alright well thats information I wouldn't have found anywhere. Thank you very much Chrisitina. "Cubs fan" comment retracted.

Jan 28, 2010 11:37 AM
rating: 1
 
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