Judging by research Baseball Prospectus published in January, we know what internet commenters are willing to trade for David Price: not much, because that’s what many of them think it would take to get a deal done. Of course, it’s much easier to mock the uninformed, biased evaluations that lead to proposals like “Price for Ivan Nova and Zoilo Almonte” than it is to put together a package that might make professional trade partners perk up. As BP commenter mblthd quite reasonably observed at the time:
We just want to say three words to the Braves: "service time" and "extensions."
When it comes to building baseball teams, it’s generally good to be young, but bad to be the youngest. A young team tends to have fewer players who’ll get hurt or head downhill, which bodes well, all else being equal. But fielding an especially high percentage of young players is often a sign that a team plans to throw in the towel short term, making do with league minimum instead of ponying up for performance.
This is more true on offense than it is on the mound, because pitchers tend to arrive in the majors roughly as good as they’re going to get. Of the 10 clubs projected to have the youngest pitching staffs this season, six made the playoffs in 2013, and seven were winning teams. Of the 10 clubs projected to have the youngest batters, only two are coming off playoff appearances. Which is why it stood out, as I researched the potentially historically old Yankees, that the Atlanta Braves bucked that trend. Here are the teams with the five lowest projected average team batting ages for 2014, based on our depth charts:
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If you think about it, the Royals and Rays, the two teams that completed a massive prospects-for-pitchers trade on Sunday, are a lot alike. Both teams are among the have-nots of the American League, competing with payrolls in the mid-60-millions (last season). Neither one draws well—in the Royals’ case, because of all the losing and because Kansas City is small, and in the Rays’ case, because of all the past losing, the newness of the franchise, and the ugliness and location of the ballpark, where it’s almost impossible to catch a foul ball without some painfuland/orembarrassing consequence. To compensate for the lack of revenue, both teams try to draft, develop, and extend homegrown players as an alternative to paying for wins from free agents, and both have had among the finest farm systems in baseball for the past few seasons.