Deals will get done in Orlando, but here's a half-dozen possible exchanges for clubs looking to trade from unwanted depth.
As I gear up for my latest dose of fun with the TSA and fly to Orlando for next week's Winter Meetings, it's easy to anticipate all sorts of stuff that might happen. However, unlike last year's get together in Indianapolis, this time around there aren't a big backlog of unsecret, telegraphed moves we know won't go down until everyone checks in—like last year's non-shocking Chone Figgins signing, for example. Instead, this year we've had a ton of early winter activity, as teams have moved quickly before picking their 40-mans, and before non-tendering potential arbitration cases. We've had some early re-signings, with Brian Sabean the most noticeable recidivist in securing Aubrey Huff's services already, while Ruben Amaro Jr. managed to avoid the temptation this time around.
It was a disappointing season and they may go into full rebuilding mode.
Kiss 'Em Goodbye is a series focusing on MLB teams as their postseason dreams fade—whether in September (or before), the League Division Series, League Championship Series or World Series. It combines a broad overview of this season from Buster Olney, a take from Baseball Prospectus, a look toward an immediate 2011 move courtesy of Rumor Central and Kevin Goldstein's farm system overview. You can find all the teams on one page by going here.
As the trading deadline looms, some bullpen-challenged squads may be best-served by looking inward to address what ails them.
Around this time each season, close followers of baseball begin to pick up on a rapidly-swelling chorus of plaintive cries from teams in desperate need of relief—relief from ineffective relievers, that is. While out On the Beat this week, John Perrotto surveyed the majors and rooted out a number of teams’ ongoing efforts to sure up their weaknesses in the bullpen department. These clubs are choosing to dangle their trade bait in a fairly confined body of water; the pool of dependable bullpen arms isn’t deep to begin with, and the subset of those arms available at midseason is shallow enough to merit “No Diving” signs posted around its perimeter to discourage overexuberant GMs from taking a fatal plunge.
Trading for relief help is a risky proposition. A team that deals for a short reliever at the end of July can expect no more than 30 innings of work in return, and that’s assuming both that those innings go smoothly (and unmarred by the wild fluctuations in luck that can derail a reliever’s short season), and that the stretch run results in a playoff appearance. Granted, a key effective inning of work can make all the difference to a team’s playoff odds, as well as its fortunes in October, but the chances are good that most clubs that send away for a reliever won’t be unwrapping impact players upon receipt.
A look at the best available starting pitchers and the potential impact they could have on a team.
If this year's free-agent crop of starting pitchers were a graduating high school class, their prom theme would have to be "Risk and Reward." Having passed the November 20th commencement ceremony, after which members of the class can be hired by prospective employers, one market aspect has become increasingly clear. Aside from valedictorian John Lackey, the student body consists of one of two types: either the troublemaker with the potential to achieve, or the consistent yet unnoticed pupil whose lack of flakiness tends to overrate his attributes in relation to the former archetype. Essentially, teams are going to dole out lucrative contracts to mid-pack starters, else they decide to diversify their risk amongst those voted "most likely to spend time on the disabled list," signing a couple to incentive-laden contracts in the hopes that at least one will pan out and reach his potential.
Two tight games later, and we're back to being spoiled by great October action.
This postseason becomes a bit more ridiculous with each passing day. Counting the AL Central playoff, we've had 21 games since the regular season ended on October 4. Five have gone to extra innings. Three saw the lead change hands after one team was down to its final out. In 14 games, the tying or tie-breaking run has come to the plate in the ninth inning. Yesterday featured six lead changes, two extra innings, and the Phillies winning a game that they trailed through 26 outs-for the second time in just six games. It was a day that could make baseball fans out of people who had never heard of the game, or just remind the devoted of why they keep coming back.