Which of last season's contending teams have been least active this offseason, and why?
With only 50 days remaining until the first February report dates—and 100 until Opening Day—most teams have already crossed off the majority of the items on their winter to-do lists, and only a handful of the top 20 free agents are still looking for work. But while many of baseball’s best clubs have stayed busy bringing in new players or bringing back old ones, a few of the teams that made (or came close to making) the playoffs last season have been quiet. Here’s a look at four teams with more tumbleweeds than transactions this winter:
Biggest move they’ve made: Re-signing Nate McLouth to a one-year contract Why they haven’t been busier: The Orioles went from last place to the playoffs without making many major moves last winter, and they didn’t stop tinkering after Opening Day. Unlike the Yankees, who’ve spent much of the winter trying to keep or replace free agents, the O’s entered the offseason with most of their important players under team control for 2013. However, they will have to pony up for arbitration raises, which restricts their financial flexibility. Will they wish they’d done more? The Orioles’ run differential didn’t prevent them from making the playoffs last season, but the odds aren’t good that they’ll be able to replicate their 29-9 regular-season record in one-run games. Balitmore can hope for better health and better production from their young players, but with their division rivals all active since October, the O’s run a real risk of falling prey to the Plexiglas Principle and losing ground to the teams they leapfrogged last season. What might they still do? Last winter, Dan Duquette waited until January to sign Wei-Yin Chen and February to trade for Jason Hammel, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he took the patient approach again. This year, Joe Saunders is the most likely late entry to the rotation. It’s a long shot, but the O’s have also been linked to Adam LaRoche, who’d fit in nicely at first with Mark Reynolds off the roster.
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How to be unhappy about every move your favorite team makes.
It's been a frustrating offseason thus far. There haven't been any moves that have been so outrageously silly that I’ve felt the need to skewer the offending team. For the most part, the moves that I've seen this winter have been of the "I get it" variety.
Kevin ranks all 43 prospects traded during the month of July.
While it wasn't exactly a star-studded trade deadline, it was certainly a busy one, with ten trades featuring a total of 15 prospects on the final day alone. All in all, 43 prospects (as defined by Rookie of the Year eligibility) changed teams in the month of July; since people like rankings, I consulted with scouts and front office personnel, and here's how I line up the prospects who moved:
You already love Transaction Analysis. Now you'll get to love Baseball Prospectus' new transactions database.
When you grow up in a military family, change can sometimes feel like the only consistent thing in your life. For me, while bouncing between stations up and down the Eastern Seaboard for much of the '90s, consistency also came in the form of my regular Wednesday routine where, no matter what part of the country I was standing in, I was able to track down a newspaper stand, gas station, or commissary that carried Baseball Weekly (renamed Sports Weekly when they added football to their coverage in 2002). After reading Bob Nightengale’s latest and checking my position in the Clubhouse Fantasy League, I usually found my way to the team-by-team transactions, where the story of a given team’s season could be told in unbiased stock language. That’s where my fascination with roster mechanics began and, based upon the comment threads of our Transaction Analysis articles, I’m guessing many of you share that same interest.
That’s why I’m pleased as Punch (but not as smug) to unveil Baseball Prospectus’ new Transactions page. Let’s take a look around, shall we?
Catching up on the injuries affecting playoff teams and offering a quick season-in-review.
With the playoffs upon us, injury news has slowed significantly. That’s certainly a good thing for the teams, but it doesn’t make for good stories. There is some news, however. Even though Matt Holliday was able to make a pinch-hitting appearance over the weekend, things didn’t go as planned. After the game, he let on that the pain was actually worse. When the flexor tendons of the hand are injured, it becomes difficult to grip things, especially things with torque like a baseball bat. Holliday decided against a cortisone injection because it would have shut him down for a few days, but now he may not be able to start at any point during the NLDS.
Additionally, Albert Pujols is battling heel pain but so far has managed to stay in the starting lineup. Kyle McClellan was left off the NLDS roster due to a dead arm.
A graphical look at player moves shows that transactions season never really ends.
In baseball, transactions can be many things. Some border on the banal. Others are more momentous: a fading star declares retirement, a blockbuster trade becomes official, a high-priced free agent or draft pick signs with his new team. When one of the latter deals goes down, baseball writers spring into action, devoting ink and pixels alike to analyses of its principal players and ramifications. In a very real sense, transactions make the baseball world go ’round, ebbing and flowing like a circulatory system of athletic talent.
Rather than focus on any one signing or swap, let’s pull back our perspective and take a look at the sum of the sport’s transactions. Retrosheet, the baseball analysis gift that never stops giving, publishes an annually updated downloadable database of player movements from 1873 onwards, broken down by transaction type. With a little coaxing in Excel, we can use this data to construct a visual record of each and every move made over the course of a season. I may be stretching a metaphor that wasn’t the strongest to begin with, but if transactions are baseball’s circulatory system, this is its EKG: