Despite many factors pointing toward increased spending, baseball's salaries haven't seemed much more inflated this winter.
Late this season, Major League Baseball completed new broadcast deals with ESPN, Fox, and Turner Sports that will roughly double the amount of money the league receives from those three networks beginning in 2014. Couple those contracts with increasingly lucrative local TV deals, the highest regular-season attendance since 2008, the success of MLB Advanced Media, the new CBA’s restrictions on how much teams can spend in the draft and on the international market, the trend toward locking up young players before they become free agents, and the Dodgers’ apparent willingness to make their fans forget Frank McCourt by becoming big-time buyers, and the stage appeared to be set for significant offseason inflation.
It’s been less than three weeks since Sergio Romo struck out the AL MVP looking to end the World Series, and only a few prominent players have signed. However, the players who ink early have the potential to help dictate what the next few months might look like, and if an influx of cash were burning holes in baseball teams’ pockets, we would expect to see the new market rate reflected in the early returns. While it’s too soon to say with any certainty what the rest of the winter will look like, we can examine the first few signings for any evidence that a new spending boom has begun. Here’s a selection of deals signed so far compared to the contracts comparable players commanded last winter:
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The punches keep on coming for the Mets, while other players deal with various sprains, bruises, and soreness.
David Wright, New York Mets (Partial Rectus Abdominis Tear)
Things just got worse for the Mets. After further tests, Wright was diagnosed with a partially torn rectus abdominis muscle toward the left side of his abdomen, which is in the same areas as the obliques. The treatment won’t be much different from oblique treatment; Wright will initially focus on rest and modalities like ice and gentle motion. Wright will then move to strengthening exercises and, eventually, baseball-related activities.
Wright’s soreness lingered longer than expected, so he had an ultrasound-guided injection to help calm the inflammation. The third baseman feels like he should be back in time for Opening Day, but that might be overly optimistic when you consider his comps are Ryan Zimmerman (who needed surgery) and Kevin Slowey (who didn’t). Both missed a little over two months’ time because of their partial tears, but the range of a “partial tear” is quite large. It looks like Wright will be back before the two-month mark, but we need to keep the extended timeline in mind. Both hitting and fielding can aggravate the injury, so we will have to wait and see how he responds to those activities.
A look at why Scott Baker, Brandon Beachy, Anibal Sanchez, and, yes, A.J. Burnett can be value picks in 2012 drafts
It’s a fun time of year, isn’t it? Pitchers and catchers have reported to camps across Arizona and Florida, Frank McCourt is set to be exiled on a rocket into the sun—from what I understand—and fantasy drafts are really starting to get moving. Remember, it’s fun to look for the big trade as the deadline approaches over the summer, but the overwhelming majority of leagues are won and lost now, when keepers are decided upon and draft strategies are solidified. Here’s a look at four starting pitchers who may not be first round picks but should be on your mind when draft day arrives. As always, feel free to suggest others in the comments.
Minnesota Twins pitchers tend to be a lot like Brad Radke.
Last week, the Twins signed Brad Thompson to a minor-league contract. Two weeks earlier, Jason Marquis signed a major-league contract with the Twins. Jason Marquis pitches to contact, gets ground balls, strikes out few. Brad Thompson pitches to contact, gets ground balls, strikes out few. Some people are stars long before they get famous, and some people are artists long before they pick up a brush, and some people are Twins long before they become Twins.
Generally speaking, we all know what a Minnesota Twins pitcher looks like. He’s got a strikeout rate a tick below six per nine innings. (Even the movie Twins has 5.9 stars on IMDB.) He survives this limitation either by walking nobody—no-body—or by keeping the ball on the ground, but either way he’s not looking to coax a strike three out of anybody, and he’s not all that concerned about allowing a home run as long as there is nobody on base. He’s a veteran, and if he’s not a veteran, he’s just a future veteran in early but advanced development. He might be a lefty, but you don’t really think of him as a lefty. He’s a No. 4 starter with aspirations of being a No. 2.5 starter. He’s draftable only in the geekiest fantasy leagues. He once threw a ball 91 mph, but it was at one of those county-fair game booths and nobody believes him, even though he has a certificate of achievement that the booth operator gave him. If everything breaks right, he’s Brad Radke. If a few things break right, he’s Rick Reed. If things just break, he’s Boof Bonser.
Last Friday's faceoff between Tony LaRussa and Dusty Baker could lead to a good old-fashioned managerial feud.
Compared to football, or even basketball, “manager-vs.-manager” is rarely part of the hype surrounding a baseball game. There’s not really a personality-clash equivalent of, say, Bill Belichick’s team going up against Rex Ryan's, at least not these days. There are plenty of baseball managers who are still characters—hi, Ozzie!—but relatively few who really impose their personality or style on a team in a dramatic, Billy Martin sort of way. Some run more than others, some leave pitchers in longer than others—but ultimately, over the course of a season, a manager is usually not a huge factor in a team’s success or failure.
I started thinking about this last week, when two very different dugout fixtures went up against each other more directly than is typical these days. Last Friday night, the Reds were paying the Cardinals, and with rain predicted, La Russa decided to sit scheduled starter Kyle McClellan and start the game with reliever Miguel Batista. Dusty Baker, meanwhile, had Edinson Volquez warmed up and ready to go before a two-hour pregame rain delay hit, after which he instead stuck Matt Maloney in the game. The Cardinals went on to win, 4-2.
What can James Shields, Ricky Nolasco and Scott Baker teach us about extreme strike throwers and their fantasy value?
My friends have called me “Moonlight J” since my days in college because I always had a night job. I was not exactly a model student in my prep days, so I had to pay my way through school because I resisted taking out loans as long as possible. Even after I began my teaching career, I would hold night jobs to help make ends meet, and one of those jobs was DJ’ing weddings. That made it only natural that I would take requests from my friends for my debut article for this site.
It's red-on-red violence between two founding franchises, but who'll wind up dead?
Back in the '70s, the Phillies and the Reds were half of a quartet of clubs that basically owned the National League. Dial up National League post-season action, and you'd get the Reds or the Dodgers from the old NL West, and the Pirates or the Phillies from the old NL East. That foursome won nine pennants and 18 of the 20 playoff slots from 1970-79; get picky and run from 1971-80, and it's still niine of 10 and 17 of 20. Yet for all that, this will be just the second time two of the league's founding franchises get to square off. You have to be a fan of a certain age or owe a bit to Joe Posnanski to have much memory of the 1976 NLCS, which was the Big Red Machine's stepping stone to its second (and last) pennant—they had to go through crushing the Phillies first, sweeping three in the best-of-five, with the third game decided in Cincinnati after an exchange of blown saves.
With Opening Day a little more than a week away, here is a look at the projected rosters for each of the 14 American League clubs following conversations with club executives and media members. National League lineups are here. You can also look at the fantasy depth charts at any time to see our latest updated projections.