On Brian Wilson and the etiquette of being different.
As you no doubt know by now, the San Francisco Giants opted not to tender a contract to their All-Star closer, Brian Wilson. He was due a league-mandated minimum of just under $7 million, and was probably hoping for something closer to $10 million. Apparently the Giants decided he wasn’t worth it, and Wilson is now a free agent. News reports have described Wilson as “angry” that the Giants chose not to re-sign him and he is likely to sign elsewhere. It remains to be seen what kind of deal Wilson will get on the open market. On the one hand, Proven All-Star Closer; on the other, those peripherals, and coming off Tommy John surgery. Intriguing hot-stove action!
When the news came down about the Giants' non-tender, there was some recrimination among San Francisco fans, but not a ton. He was the guy on the mound when they won it all in 2010. His numbers in 2010 were eye-popping: a 2.18 FRA and 1.7 WARP to go along with his 48 saves and World Series ring. He was really good. But then the Giants won the whole thing again in 2012, without Wilson, thereby “proving” that he wasn’t necessary. I heard and read the same thing over and over from Giants fans: Many/most/all said that, while they loved him as a player, they “wouldn’t miss his act.”
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Investing in top non-closers now could save you loads of money next draft day.
For the past five years, as the season winds down, I’ve made it a habit of discussing one of my favorite keeper league strategies: stashing potential closers. This, of course, isn’t viable in every single keeper league based on format, depth, and rule quirks, but in leagues where it is, it can be a powerful way of accruing cheap value for your 2013 squad before the 2012 season even ends.
As I discussed the strategy in detail last season, I’ll simply repost for those who are new to BP:
Ian loves two things. These are those two things, as one thing.
Everyone who has seen Brian Wilson pitch has had two different, concurrent reactions. The first is to recoil in horror at the black alien life-form consuming his face; the second is to make a Beach Boys joke.
What most people don’t do, however, is take the next step: wonder if they could field a baseball team composed entirely of rock-star namesakes. But I am not most people; I am a weird baseball-slash-music obsessive. I took the names of rock and roll legends and scoured Baseball Reference to find players by the same (or nearly the same) name. This was both more stupid and more fun than you might have imagined.
Brian Wilson experiences more elbow soreness, Carlos Marmol's MRI comes back clean, Zach Britton gets good news about his shoulder, and Orlando Hudson's groin continues to keep him off the field.
Brian Wilson, San Francisco Giants (Right elbow soreness)
After finally appearing to be over his 2011 elbow problems, Wilson developed soreness in his right elbow, which has to have everyone concerned. He missed over a month last season due to a strain of the flexor muscle mass on the inside aspect of his elbow. In addition to contributing to force reproduction levels necessary to throw the ball in the upper 90s, the flexor mass is an important stabilizer to the ligament, made famous by Tommy John (with an assist from Dr. Frank Jobe).
Velocity is one of the factors that have been associated with injuries to this ligament in throwers. Whenever a pitcher experiences multiple bouts of elbow pain within a year’s time, there has to be concern about some underlying cause, whether it is ligament, cartilage, or tendon damage. Wilson was able to throw in a minor-league game on Thursday and kept his velocity in the upper 90s. He’s not out of the woods yet, but for now, he’s day to day.
Where will CJ Wilson's next contract take him, and how much money can he expect?
With CC Sabathia staying put, this winter's free-agent market for starting pitchers is a particularly thin one, no pun intended. Unlike last winter, there's no rotation ace equivalent of Cliff Lee, nor is there even a frontline starter who offers the track record that the 2009-2010 winter's belle of the ball, John Lackey, did—a reminder that big-ticket items carry big-time risks. The pitcher drawing the most interest is 31-year-old lefty C.J. Wilson, who has spent all of two seasons in the rotation, converting following a rocky tenure in the bullpen that included some time spent as a very hittable closer.
Do early-season phenoms fade once the rest of the league learns to stop giving them pitches to hit?
Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.
It's a series that will feature superb pitching staffs, and one team will come away with a long-awaited title.
In baseball as in literature, archetypes tend to be formulaic, proof that fiction falls short of reality when it comes to the power to describe any one thing in shorthand. The need, indeed one of the great benefits of the human mind is to identify patterns, and to peg things that fall within those patterns, or to re-evaluate the pattern as a whole to create some new rubric, some new way of explaining things. Take our current post-season slate: instead of a much-anticipated rematch between the Evil Empire and the Phillies' a-bornin' senior-circuit dynasty, last week we got the pleasure of witnessing imperial ambitions utterly overthrown in both leagues.
The Rickey conversation takes new turns, answering who's least like the speedster among active players, and most like him historically.
Rickey Henderson's much-anticipated Hall of Fame induction speech may have disappointed those who yearned for a proclamation of all-time greatness, perhaps accompanied by a bronze plaque hoisted high overhead. Instead, Henderson took his place among the game's greats with a performance on Sunday that balanced humor and humility, with nary a third-person reference to be heard.
The Transaction Analysis you have been waiting for. Saunders. Izturis. Guzman. Cormier. Hernandez. Reyes. The names are all here, and only Christina can sort out the right from wrong, and the stupid from the just obtuse.
Jeff wonders if fantasy owners should stock their farm system with young hitters or young pitchers.
Is the same true of a fantasy farm system? I've always believed so, and my experiences in keeper leagues have only reinforced that point of view. Take the RotoWire Staff League as an example. We now have three years under our belt, in an 18-team league where each team starts the year with a 10-man minor league roster. In those three years, I've drafted 19 minor leaguers (because some of those draftees were retained, I didn't have the full complement of 10 picks each season) and traded for three others: