NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A person familiar with the contract tells The Associated Press that versatile infielder Jeff Keppinger has reached agreement with the Chicago White Sox on a $12 million, three-year contract.
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — David Wright wore a shirt with blue. His tie was bright orange.
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A person with knowledge of the negotiations says the Arizona Diamondbacks and infielder Eric Chavez have agreed to terms on a $3 million, one-year contract.
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A person familiar with the deal tells The Associated Press that free agent outfielder Jason Bay has reached a one-year contract with the Seattle Mariners.
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Bill Petti of FanGraphs looks at how teams have done at optimizing their batting lineups: Optimizing Batting Orders Across MLB | FanGraphs Baseball
At an aggregate level, the league hasn’t learned much. The best hitters at avoiding outs are primarily hitting third, while lesser on-base hitters occupy the first and second spots. If we looked at this by team, I’m sure we’d see greater variation. Perhaps some teams recognize the advantage (however slim) of placing greater value on out-avoidance at the top of the order? Still, the league-wide data make clear that those teams are in the minority.
Matthew Kory of Over the Monster explains why the Red Sox recent acquisitions actually may make sense: On Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, And Having Options - Over the Monster
The reason the Red Sox can "explore" like this is because Victorino can play center field if Ellsbury isn't on the roster. We've talked about whether or not dealing Ellsbury now is a good idea in this space before, but no matter which side you come down on, the ultimate arbiter will be the return.
Hudson Belinsky of Baseball Prospectus discusses scouting in Canada: Baseball Prospectus | Scouting the Great White North
Every organization now has scouts who cover Canada. Just about every young player, even those with a remote interest in baseball, can find a place to play the game. The talented players are on everyone’s radar. One such player is Cal Quantrill, a projectable Stanford commit who can run his fastball into the low 90s. Cal’s father, Paul, enjoyed over a decade of playing in the big leagues.
Shane Tourtellotte of the Hardball Times takes a look back, with a sabermetric eye, at the history of double-headers: An incomplete history of the double-header--THT
Back in "The Double-Header Hangover Effect," I found that for each double-header a team played, it lost an extra three-fourths of a game over the next month. Okay, that's pretty close. There may be something I haven't taken into account: hangover effects might last longer than 30 days, for instance, or there might be a multiplier effect when you play a lot of twin-bills. For a back-of-the-envelope check, though, it's good enough to see that the new numbers are, ahem, in the ballpark.
Originally a third round draft pick out of high school, Derek Dietrich chose not to sign, instead attending the Georgia Institute of Technology. The Rays drafted him in the second round three years later, finally signing him to a $457,200 bonus.
The 6-foot-1 left-hander garnered attention in 2011 by batting .277/.346/.502 for the Bowling Green Hot Rods. He also hit 22 home runs, the most of any Rays prospect that year. Some evaluators expressed concern that Dietrich merely feasted on bad Class-A pitching, but he helped address those questions by putting up a .282/.343/.468 line in the Florida State League this past year. The Rays saw fit to promote him to Double-A, where held his own in 34 games, hitting .271/.324/.429. The Marlins will likely start him again in Double-A, with the expectation that he will move up to Triple-A mid-season. If Dietrich crushes the ball, he could be playing for the Marlins by the year's end.
Dietrich projects to be an average hitting third basemen or an above-average hitting second basemen, not unlike Washington Nationals second basemen Danny Espinosa. Neither player have strong on-base skills, but they do possess solid power for middle infielders. Dietrich's minor league numbers are mildly reminiscent of Espinosa's too. In his age 22 season, Espinosa put up a 134 wRC+ in high Class-A Potomac, just a bit higher than Dietrich's 128 wRC+ last season. While he will likely never match Espinosa's major league 7.8 percent walk rate, Dietrich strikes out less than Espinosa and hits for a higher average.
Unfortunately, Dietrich lacks Espinosa's prodigious athleticism and defensive abilities. He came up through the Rays system as a shortstop, but was later moved to second base to make room for prospect Hak-Ju Lee. Reports indicate that Dietrich is a below-average runner and doesn't display much range on defense. His arm and glove are said to be adequate. My feeling is that Dietrich would make an average defensive third basemen or a below-average defensive second basemen. I cannot make a definitive judgment until I see him play, however.
While the the front office's systematic dismantling of the major league roster has dramatically improved the farm system, the minor league talent is concentrated in the outfield, catching, and pitching. Prior to this trade, the only infield prospects to speak of were Zack Cox, Austin Barnes, and Noah Perio - all of whom come with serious question marks. Adeiny Hechavarria technically remains a prospect, but he will start at shortstop for the Marlins next year. The acquisition of Dietrich will partially resolve the franchise's lack of minor league infield depth, although the organization would be wise to seek additional infielders in the First-Year Player Draft.
I've been remiss in getting an article up on this for the last couple days. Check back, because I will update as events unfold.
Last weekend, we were asked to participate in a Mock Winter Meetings exercise hosted by our SB Nation sister site, Royals Review. I was lucky enough to jump on last minute to serve as the Co-GM of the Houston Astros with Royals Review contributor KCTiger. KCTiger and I have been swinging deals and signing free agents for the last couple days. Next week, we will collaborate on an article talking about our experience as Astros "GM" for the week.
For now, I'll list the moves we've made so you can discuss them. I will explain our goals and reasoning behind the moves in the next post. We operated under a budget of about $35 million, not including the $5 million owed to Wandy Rodriguez.
Boy, did KCTiger and I love this trade, and our acumen was validated by the immediate outrage of Royals fans on the message boards. There was a lot of early action on Norris, and we were able to use that to maximize our return.
Francoeur's inclusion in the Royals deal was at the insistence of the Royals. The Cubs trade was a salary dump. As a bonus, we added a guy whose last name is "Jokisch."
We struck early when Jurrjens was non-tendered, and it's a good thing we did. The pitching market went nuts shortly thereafter. We saw deals like Brandon McCarthy for 4 years $55 million, and Zack Greinke signing for 6 years, $175 million. We liked the risk that Jurrjens would bounce back to be the almost 2-WAR pitcher he was in 2011.
And we have our DH. There are mixed opinions on Raburn, but we liked his price, positional flexibility (OF, 1B, 2B, 3B, DH), and we truly believe he's closer to the guy who hit .280/.340/.475 in 2010 than the guy who only hit .171 last season. With the budget so tight, we feel like this was a strong catch.
This is another trade I love. Lopez' value is at its peak, and F-Rod is one year away from arbitration. The inclusion of F-Rod allowed the return to be two of the Phillies' top 10 prospects. Valle was the prize here - he is the #7 prospect catcher in all of MLB according to MLB.com. He immediately is the top catching prospect in the Astros' system, and has a ceiling as high or higher than Jason Castro's. Walding is a powerful young 3B who has a major league future.
Our biggest priority was a rotation anchor, and we landed one. Marcum is actually a very reasonable cost for this sim, though he has injury worries. We felt the injury thing overblown, as he has averaged 173 innings per season since missing all of 2009. Marcum hasn't posted an ERA over 4.00 since 2007 (4.13).
The deals will continue through the end of the week. What do Astros fans think of these moves so far?
This week, the annual MLB Winter Meetings will be taking place in Nashville, Tennessee. Once again, fans and the baseball world are looking forward to what happens. The Orioles, as we all know, flew high during the 2012 season, winning 93 games, regaining a fan base and delivering a world of possibilities that few could have dreamed of.
Now that we are in December, the Orioles have to do more with their roster if they plan to win again like they did in 2012. The organization has a good core of players at the major league level and the minor league system looks to be improved ? somewhat; however, team needs a bat and perhaps another arm despite the success of a patchwork rotation and diamonds in the rough like Miguel Gonzalez, plus the emergence of Chris Tillman.
The Red Sox and Blue Jays are retooling, but what are the Orioles planning to do? Quite a few players will be getting raises either through their contracts, or arbitration, so the payroll will probably be going up. Then again, will the team rebuild through trades, or make a splash on the market.
We all know that Mark Reynolds was not tendered a contract by the Orioles and is a free agent. While he did come through big at the end of the summer at the plate, and also defensive at first base ? frankly, he is not worth $9 million. While I like his grit, the Orioles could do much better on the market, or spread the money between multiple players. He could be re-signed at a lower rate, but I?d personally like to see the team get a much more productive hitter before even re-considering Reynolds for 2012.
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The AL East is shaping up to easily be the most competitive division in the American League. With the Yankees aging and the Red Sox looking weak for the foreseeable future the power in the American League looks to be moving out west. I think it is very likely that the top two records in the AL are coming out of the west, especially seeing how the Rangers and Angels will get to beat up on the Astros for a year.
With the former powers stepping back the rest of the AL East by default takes a step forward. The Orioles proved that last year with their improbable run. Going into 2013 the world is different and the AL East will be a slugfest, mostly because of massive changes north of the border.
But first, The Tampa Bay Rays.
The Rays finally showed they are willing to spend money and commit long-term to the face of their franchise, third baseman Evan Longoria. And it is a great thing for that franchise. The Rays have spent the better part of their existence as a minor league outfit for the rest of the major league. The cash-strapped Rays simply have not been able to lock up their star players they develop, Longoria changes that. But with one locked up another is lost as the Rays? center fielder BJ Upton left for greener pastures in Atlanta.
One can argue the worth of Upton, a player who never really took the next step in his career with Tampa, but the Rays simply can?t afford to lose offense. With Longoria out the Rays? offense took a nosedive last season and it showed in their inability to make it to the playoffs at the end of last season. Through May, June, and July the Rays (as a team) failed to bat over .680 OPS (.676, .642, .662) and in two of those months they barely got on base at a higher than .300 clip. The Rays have the arms, there is no doubt about that. Hell, anyone who has followed baseball over the last five years knows that the Rays simply do nothing else other than produce amazing pitching talent. It is that pitching talent that will carry the Rays and serve as the foundation for their franchise?s continued success.
To augment that pitching the Rays will most certainly be looking to improve their offense. To do that the Rays will most likely have to deal from their core of young pitching. Still, a down Rays team barely missed the playoffs and won 90 games last season. Unless they make big moves this winter, and they go badly ? which is rare for the Rays, there is no reason to expect them to be significantly different next year.
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The weather is getting colder and we in Baltimore are staring down December awaiting snow, the Mayan apocalypse and the approach of Nimburu; although only one of those is likely to happen. And if that opening sentence wasn?t evidence enough the offseason has been rather boring so far for the Orioles. Yes, they picked up Alexi Casilla and traded Robert Andino but the electrons that have been spent on those two moves already total too much.
There just isn?t much to talk about regarding the Orioles right now. There are rumors and rumblings, whispers in the dark of names like ?Hamilton? and ?Greinke,? but largely for an enterprising blogger to sink their teeth into. SO let?s take a, very early, look at the AL East and what could happen in the coming months.
The New York Yankees
The Yankees are older, streakier and weighed down by massive contracts and commitments to legendary players. But they are also one word that I have used to describe them before: Endless. They simply have no end, they are always there and someone always comes back, has an inexplicable season or a deal is made to propel the Yankees to where they are accustomed. 2013 will see the Yankees dealing with the looming awful of Alex Rodriguez? horrendous contract, Derek Jeter?s ever diminishing ability to field, a massive hole at catcher and right-field and another hole in the rotation is Andy Pettite decides to re-retire. Still, they won 95 games last year. Still, they won the American League East. Still they went to the ALCS.
The Yankees are in a weird position this offseason. They may have finally reached the bottom of the money pit. With the financial albatrosses of A-Rod, CC and Tex hanging around the team?s neck they don?t look to be much of a player in the high-priced free agent market. BJ Upton has not been linked to the bombers, nor has Josh Hamilton. Still the Yankees will find a way to shore up the team before 2013 and as much I would love to think that the particularly feckless playoff performance the Yankees produced is a sign of things to come there is little reason to think the Yankees won?t win 90 games next year. Sure, the age could finally catch up with this team and the keg of Yankee-majesty could finally tap out bringing them back to the realm of more mortal squads but until it actually happens you can?t simply assume that it will.
The Boston Red Sox
I really shouldn?t take as much pleasure in the collapse of the Red Sox as I have. I mean I really shouldn?t ? but I do. It wasn?t always like this. There was a time at the peak of New York Yankee hegemony where I felt a kinship with Red Sox nation. I rooted hard for the Sox every time they played the Yanks. Then something shifted in ?the nation,? at some point the fans that began to invade Camden Yards became the most insufferable group of malcontents that I have ever experienced. Then they won the World Series a couple time and became completely unbearable.
That is why 162-2011 was such an amazing moment for Baltimore fans. If you haven?t been here for that long you don?t get it, you can?t get it. So watching last year?s systematic destruction of the Boston Red Sox warmed my soul. That being said the Red Sox are in trouble.
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