The waiver wire awaits a number of players if they don't make the big-league roster.
Within a fortnight, pitchers and catchers will report for duty, thus marking the beginning of the spring and starting the countdown until the league-wide roster crunch. As difficult as picking the best 25 players can be, the occasionally arcane roster rules add even more complications to the equation. Options are the most notorious and popular forms of restrictions placed upon the teams. The goal is simple: to limit talent hoarding and to assist players in finding opportunities.
Despite the notoriety, options remain shrouded in mystery. Thomas Gorman’s primer from early 2006 remains an indispensable resource for those seeking deeper understanding. The casual observer should keep three rules of thumb in mind when thinking about options:
Lima Time as a standard for evaluation, reinforcing the Red Sox, the Tigers slip by an Inge, and more.
Using a pitcher's rate of SNLVAR, Kazmir's season has been a disaster of massive proportions, one that rates about 4.8 on the Keough scale, something that for the moment suits my purposes for describing starting pitcher inadequacy, using Matt Keough's appalling 1982 season as a baseline for starting pitcher-related terrors visited upon a team's unhappy fans over a full season. This isn't really especially fair of me, in that Keough doesn't hold the single-season low for a starter with 30 starts in a campaign, but 1982 was a horrifying disappointment, and the man was beaten with a regularity that made me think that he was the drum, and the entire American League was Keith Moon.
Saving the West for last, a few exciting fights for position-playing roles, plus the usual mulling of aspiring fifth men.
To complete my perhaps overly terse-for me, at any rate-series review job battles for starting jobs in the majors, we now turn to the NL West. Admittedly, part of the exercise here for me was to make sure that I turn over to positions and considerations that, too often, do not comprise core considerations for Transaction Analysis: the guys who get punted from Triple-A and back again, the damned and doomed who need to adapt to a shuttle-born existence between the dubious glory of third lefty-dom, spot starting in the rotation because some high-maintenance thirtysomething needs skipping, or the outfielder who plays because somebody's hammy's barking or the like. That's the stuff that, admittedly, is relatively minor stuff, the endless churn that I can't help but find fascinating on one level, but also have to admit impacts a season, a team, or your fantasy squad very little, if at all. Or, as another way to put it, if you're concerned about the whereabouts of Doug Slaten, you're with me in the ranks of the few, the proud, the players in the deepest of leagues, or the folks who don't play Wii in their spare time.
Some of the choices involved are generating noise, while others are merely noisome.
It's now time to turn to the National League's camp battles-and to perhaps also turn a Nelsonian blind eye to a good argument for why some of these combats are less significant than others-starting with the NL East. What's really at stake as opposed to effectively already set in stone?
Kinsler and Utley lead the way as our fantasy expert looks at players at the keystone.
Yesterday we introduced the first of our fantasy rankings for 2010, using the new tiered system built from reader feedback from the past few months. Given it is still early, there are some additions we could implement-I'll do my best to retroactively adjust the older rankings via Unfiltered to compensate for those changes. For now, continue to give me feedback and we'll work in what we can.
If you missed the first base rankings, you can find them here. Now, here are the changes to this year's ranking system:
Why mutual options in contracts aren't as pointless as they may seem.
Last week, Buster Olney reported that Russell Branyan had been signed by the Cleveland Indians to a one-year, $2-million deal that included up to $1 million in incentives and a $5-million mutual option for 2011. Two weeks ago, the Mariners signed Erik Bedard to a similar deal (one year, $1.5 million plus incentives with an $8-million mutual option for 2011). Over the years, many have wondered about the usefulness of mutual options. What are mutual options, and why would teams and players agree to them?
There are three ways an option can be structured: player, team, or mutual. Player options must be exercised by the player to take effect; team options must be exercised by the team. (For the interesting result that team options at the end of long-term contracts are exercised unpredictably, see Dinerstein 2007 (PDF)). Mutual options, however, must be exercised by both the player and the team to take effect.
Evaluating single high-profile signings against more scatter-shot solutions to team needs.
In the first twoparts of this series, I explained my new approach to contract valuations and whether MORP should be linear with respect to WARP. Basically, this entailed asking the question of whether Matt Holliday, perhaps a six-win player, could be just as easily replaced by signing two three-win players or three two-win players. The issue is roster space and playing time. The alternative argument to doing MORP linearly is that a team can sign Holliday and concentrate all six of those wins on one spot of the diamond, and then they could improve themselves more by filling their other openings with decent players as well.