It's the time for non-tenders. R.J. looks back at last year's giveaways to see which fared the best.
Expect to hear about the non-tender deadline a lot over the next four weeks. Teams must determine by November 30th which arbitration-eligible players to tender contracts to. The players deemed unworthy will experience one of the sport’s oddest existences. Although the players are technically free agents, their market worth is limited. Teams have no incentive to offer this subset of players more than a one-year deal since they retain the players’ rights through their arbitration years regardless. Non-tendered players are almost by definition undeserving of a raise, so they usually take pay cuts on the open market.
Despite the odd existence, the pool of non-tendered players intrigues fans and media alike. Many of these players have a marketable skill or two that could prove useful in the right situation. Everyone likes finding the diamond in the trash. But dumpster diving correctly usually means finding more slime than treasure. That never seems to stop us, so we hunt on, with our hearts full of hope and our pockets full of hand sanitizer.
The latest inefficiencies exploited by the Rays: ice cream and classical conditioning.
The Rays are baseball's hottest team, having run up a 15-5 record in August. Their pitchers, who've posted the lowest team ERA in the American League this month, deserve most of the credit. But their latest victory owed something to a secret more valuable than any of their statistical and scouting skills: the power of classical conditioning.
Jim Thome’s return to the American League leads the new VPs this week as the All-Star break looms ahead.
We’re almost to the traditional midway point of the season, and Value Picks has already alerted you to early-season bargains like Adam LaRoche, Chris Davis, Will Middlebrooks, Matt Carpenter, and Todd Frazier. As the teams meet their own midway points and decide on their near- and long-term futures, we could see more high-profile call-ups like the departing Anthony Rizzo or trades like the one that brought Jim Thome back to the American League. Stay tuned to Value Picks for all the latest developments to keep your fantasy team ahead of the pack!
Jeremy Hellickson gets hit hard and Clay Buchholz impresses in the game of the week, plus thoughts about Tampa Bay's pitching and Bobby Valentine's way with words.
The night before Saturday’s game, the Red Sox scored eight runs against the Rays to turn a relatively normal game into a 12-2 laugher. Actually, there was something abnormal about it, even before the offensive explosion: Rays starter David Price lasted only three innings. He gave up three runs on four hits and three walks while running up an 83-pitch tab. Josh Beckett, meanwhile, suffocated Tampa Bay for eight innings, allowing just one run on five hits.
Michael graduates his first VP of the season, but he still points out plenty of undervalued corner infielders to be found on your league’s waiver wires.
For our nation’s scholars, graduation is just around the corner, but we start things early here at Value Picks, bidding adieu to our first departee. He leaves the list after quickly exceeding ownership thresholds, but I’ve got lots of other players ready to prove themselves to VP readers, including several bubble candidates in Playing Pepper.
Which outfielders and DHs proved to be the biggest black holes in the majors?
Picking up where I left off on Friday, we continue hunting the fish at the bottom of the major-league barrel in search of the positions where teams got the worst production—worse than the Replacement-Level Killers, but without the burden of toiling for a contending team. As with their catching and infield brethren, the following players helped produce tornado-level disasters amid their lineups, often at salaries that represented far more than just soft breezes running through their teams’ bank accounts. These are the Vortices of Suck.
A look at how Carlos Pena and Luke Scott compare to those they're replacing in Tampa Bay, Johnny Damon and Casey Kotchman
“Team identity” is a sugar pill of analytics. It sounds good but means nothing. When a team makes sweeping changes, said identity comes into question. Usually, the vague term is applied to an overall philosophy—is this team all pitching and defense, or do they live and die by the three-run home run sort of stuff. It can also apply to the complexion of the roster and the minutiae that comes with.
Over the past fortnight, the Rays have changed their team identity in at least one way. By adding Luke Scott and Carlos Pena, they have ensured new opening day starters at the positions furthest to the right on the defensive spectrum. The Rays have also tweaked the playing style at those positions. Neither Johnny Damon nor Casey Kotchman, the predecessors at the positions, offered a lot of power, but making a lot of contact can breed fanfare—to the point where many, Damon included, were disappointed to find the Rays pursuing upgrades at the positions.
Michael looks at the implication of the recent Cub trade, along with the newest Ray, Luke Scott, plus two excellent third basemen
Since last week’s column, Chicago hedged its first base bets by acquiring another Triple-A masher, while Luke Scott and Tampa Bay have reportedly come to terms on a one-year deal. But other teams (and fantasy owners) continue to await the fates of bigger names like Prince Fielder, Carlos Pena, Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guererro. Until those long-delayed deals come to fruition, I’ll look at two other fantasy options at the infield corners, one a personal favorite of mine. If you’ve got any faves that haven’t been covered, leave your suggestions in the comments section.