When the package the Royals gave up for the James Shields and Wade Davis was announced, I was surprised, to say the least. I thought, like many others did, that the Royals surrendered way too much for Shields and that the deal would help Tampa Bay for years to come.
The pros and cons of Wil Myers have been discussed ad nauseam, and I will not go into too much detail regarding Myers other than to say that he is a stud prospect. Myers should have been able to net them a much better pitcher, but you've already read that in other places so no need to rehash that.
The next name that caught my attention was Royals pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi. The peculiar thing regarding Kansas City's trading of him is that he is a Major League ready 3/4 starter, meaning that he would have had tremendous value to them and would've prevented them from having to overpay for guys like Jeremy Guthrie and Ervin Santana (oh wait...).
The 22-year old Odorizzi pitched at Double-A and Triple-A this past season, posting FIPs of 2.20 and 4.19 at each level. He made two starts for the Royals in September, posting an ERA of 4.91 in those starts.
A quick look at the small sample of pitch f/x data that is available for Odorizzi shows that he throws his fastball at 91-92 MPH, and mixes in a slider, change-up, and curveball.
Although the sample is small, it appears as though he uses the change-up more against left-handers, while his slider is the pitch of choice for righties. He mixes in the curveball in to keep hitters off balance as that pitch sits around 73-74 MPH. In his two September starts, Brooks Baseball did not identify one change-up to a right-handed hitter, nor did they identify any sliders to left-handed hitters.
It should be interesting to see what Tampa Bay does with Odorizzi, as he uses his slider heavily against righties, and as Jon pointed out the Rays are not the biggest slider fans in baseball.
The Rays also received third base prospect Patrick Leonard, who I had the fortune of seeing on multiple occasions in the Appalachian League this year. He has interesting pop with the bat, with potential to hit 15-20 HRs in my opinion. I don't think he will provide any surplus value with the glove at third, but I could see the defense being tolerable there. I definitely like the addition of Leonard, as he could certainly be of value to the team in a few years.
The final player that was acquired was Mike Montgomery, former top prospect in the Royals' system and current enigma. On one hand it is hard not to see mid-90s heat from a 6'4 left-handed frame and drool, but after pitching so poorly this season he was demoted to Triple-A, his stock has certainly taken a hit.
I personally love the acquisition of Montgomery by the Rays, as they can take a flyer on him and hope they can work their pitcher-magic and get him back on track. Even though it is going to be a tall task reviving his career as a starter, he could always bring value as a reliever, throwing mid-90s and that potentially playing up in shorter stints.
So I think it is fair to say that Tampa probably comes out on top here, but I would like to speak a little bit about the Royals perspective.
Obviously this article doesn't factor in the fact that the Royals got James Shields, and I think that is important. Whether or not people think the Royals gave up too much, they still got back one of the better pitchers in the games, without surrendering any Major League talent to do so. I wouldn't go as far as calling it a desperation move by Dayton Moore, as others have, but I certainly think there is a sense of urgency here. The thing is- there should be, and whether or not the move itself makes sense, I applaud a GM having the guts to cash in on their farm system depth and take a chance.
I can't say how often I would be enraged at the fact that the Mets would balk at the asking price for a big-time player, citing not wanting to give up such "future stars" as Fernando Martinez (no), Wilmer Flores (probably not a star), and Jon Niese (okay you win). Eventually you have to take a chance, and even if it is ill-fated or not you have to credit Dayton Moore for doing just that.
Whether or not it works out, that's for time to tell.
Read The Full Article:
Now, Bichette has returned to Coors Field to don the purple pinstripes as the Rockies hitting instructor, a move that has excited fans in spite of themselves. The Rockies are already marketing their hitting coach, designing a bobblehead of Bichette to distribute next year. It may be a 20th anniversary promotion including other heroes of Rockies past, but if not, it illuminates a potential motivation to bring Bichette into the fold - an easy way to get fans excited.
Dante's image was the furthest thing from student, with his unkempt hair, jaunty smile, and bulging biceps. Yet Dante is a man with a plan and concrete ideas on how to improve, writes Troy Renck. Here are some philosophical quotes from Dante that are applicable to improving Colorado's home/road offense issue:
The secret of getting things done is to act!
He listens well who takes notes.
A mighty flame followeth a tiny spark.
Okay, I lied. Sort of. Those are from Dante Alighieri of Dante's Inferno fame. But our Dante has similar ideas, if not expressed so succinctly.
"We are going to get after it. It's not what you do one day, but what you do every day." - Dante Bichette
By "get after it," he wants to turn the lineup into an intimidating, slugging monster. It would be nice if the Rockies had such a lineup, but Bichette will only have the personnel that Dan O'Dowd and Bill Geivett gives him. That approach may derail the swing path of a few guys whose game is not built on power - Dexter Fowler, Jordan Pacheco, etc.
I do fear for trying to mold players into hitters they are not built to be. The most common mistake teachers make is to use the methods that worked for them and force it on every student, regardless of what works best for them.
One can certainly question whether his ideas are naive, or withhold praise until he proves capable of implementing them. But from his curveball hitting machine on the road, to studying Ted Williams, to coaching his son into a solid Yankees prospect, to being intimately familiar with the inverse Coors efffect, Bichette has much more on his hitting coach resume than just a franchise icon.
Aside from re-engineering the lineup into the image of himself, the biggest canon expressed by Bichette has been about the home park. Bichette has repeatedly stressed his desire to turn Coors Field back into a unique advantage for the Rockies, the kind of intimidating beast it once was.
"I want pitchers to be looking at the schedule worried about when they have to come here. I want us to play with an edge and an attitude."
Or, as Dante Alighieri penned:
All hope abandon, ye who enter here!
Better late than never NL graphs - There are two graphs I want to highlight here. The first illustrates just how different Coors Field played in 2012 than the other 15 NL parks. The third and final graph shows that pitching was only part of the problem. Defense was beyond atrocious and needs arguably as much addressing in 2013.
Are Sacrifice Bunts Less Offensive Now That Scoring Has Dipped? | Chad Moriyama An interesting premise. Perhaps not surprisingly, Moriyama finds that the answer is "yes," but that the sac bunt is still a horrible play most of the time.
Zack Greinke is great, but these deals rarely work out. | SportsonEarth.com : Joe Posnanski Article JoPo isn't in Happy Valley anymore, so the former Kansas City Star wrote about Zack Greinke, reminding us that it isn't 2009 anymore. Rockies fans are well aware of this fact, but Posnanski uses it to both identify the Dodgers' talent acquisition methodology and analyze the large contracts for pitchers.
40th anniversary: birth of the DH and the save as an official stat - Chris Jaffe reminds that yesterday was 40 years that baseball added two loathed apparatuses to the game.
And lastly, take your pick for strangest NL West news of the day...
...The Dodgers sign Korean pitcher Hyun Jin Ryu, and within 24 hours, put him in a Dodgers uniform so he can do Gangnam Style. The official Dodgers' twitter account claims it is standard procedure for physicals.
1973 HEADLINE: Ron Santo Traded To The Chicago White Sox On this day in 1973, Ron Santo was traded from the Chicago Cubs to the Chicago White Sox. After 14 glorious seasons in which he called Wrigley Field home, Ron … Continue reading →
Read The Full Article:
We have been covering the Miami Marlins' desperate need for a third baseman for what seems like forever, as the problem has become chronic much like the team's general woes. But in the above linked article from last week, former Fish Stripes author and current head at Marlins Daily Ehsan Kassim mentioned something that caught my eye.
would probably be Chris Coghlan. It would give the Marlins one final shot to evaluate what they have in him, before he becomes arbitration eligible. Also, how much worse can he be then our other free agent options?
Chris Coghlan would be a decent idea for the Marlins in 2013. If you will recall, Coghlan was a third baseman in college in the University of Mississippi, so the position is at least passably familiar to him. He was moved to second base in the minors, presumably because he seemed to lack arm strength for the position. But since then, Coghlan has been shifted to the corner and center field spots, discombobulating him defensively all along the way. The 2013 season would be a nice year to give Coghlan an opportunity to make good on some of the promise he showed as a Rookie of the Year winner in 2009.
But while the idea of giving Chris Coghlan an opportunity is an obviously good one, it also brings about a more general point about the state of the Miami Marlins right now. With the trade of Yunel Escobar, the Fish once again re-opened the gap at third base. However, the time to acquire replacement third basemen appears to have passed. Mark Reynolds, Jeff Keppinger, and Eric Chavez have already signed with teams for 2013. Kevin Youkilis, the best third baseman in the market, is way out of the Marlins' price range and would likely be uninterested in playing for a last-place team anyway. The Marlins are left with the dregs of the position, rummaging through guys like perennial journeyman Jack Hannahan, declining players like Orlando Hudson or Brandon Inge, or collapsed reclamation projects like Chone Figgins or Jose Lopez.
This is all to say that the options remaining for the Fish are universally poor. At best, a guy like Hannahan or Inge, with known defensive skills, can provide a win or so to the team by saving enough runs to make up for their terrible bats. Perhaps a player like Figgins can prove he is not replacement-level fodder. The overall benefit to such minor gambits on a winning or fringe contention team may be worthwhile, especially given the Marlins' poor options. But on a last place team? The level of usefulness is almost obsolete on a team like the Fish, who are going to hover close to 100 losses with or without a Hannahan or Figgins.
This would not be an issue if either of these players could potentially become trade assets by midseason, but given their current talent level, the odds of that seem highly unlikely. Hannahan was last traded for cash or a player to be named later. Figgins was just released outright because he became less valuable than his roster spot. Lopez had a stint with the Marlins that also led to a demotion and release. Given the level at which these players are starting, it is difficult to imagine a half-season turnaround worthy of picking up a good prospect on a one-year deal.
That point brings us back to the main one: why bother making any signings at all? The Marlins are clearly throwing in the proverbial towel in 2013 after the mega-trade with the Toronto Blue Jays. The Fish have no interest in competing after trading all of those players. Why bother utilizing any of the $5 million cleared up in trading Escobar when it will do nothing for the future of the ball club? The team may have some internal "options" with marginal upside in Chris Coghlan or prospect Zack Cox, but even if the team were barren at the position, adding a small asset would be meaningless. Greg Dobbs can fail at third base all year and the Marlins are already paying him $1.5 million. The team should not need to put in another $1.5 million to have Hannahan do a marginally better job.
Given that the Marlins do have internal options, albeit poor ones, perhaps the team would be wiser just testing them out in this lost 2013 season rather than acquiring a meaningless stopgap solution. With Escobar or a better player like Reynolds, at least the Fish had a shot at turning them into a trade asset. But with the guys available, the benefits do not really outweigh the cost of not testing the team's current assets.
Either that or find some power. At this point in his career, Ben Revere has 1,064 career plate appearances andRead the Rest...
Read The Full Article:
Braves GM Frank Wren, manager Fredi Gonzalez and other top assistants, traveled down to the Dominican this weekend to get an in-person look at a handful of Braves players. The Braves currently have four players on the Tigres del Licey club: Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado, Juan Francisco and Christian Bethancourt. The first three names will [...]
Read The Full Article:
Time for some sabermetric deep thoughts. Maybe not so deep. And more like a couple of unrelated subjects that came to mind. But hopefully not superficial thoughts either. Just sabermetric thoughts.
Glenn DuPaul at Hardball Times listed his top five relief pitchers who could improve in 2013. The Astros' Fernando Rodriguez was on the list, and DuPaul writes:
Despite his struggles with walks and home runs, Rodriguez's peripherals (FIP, xFIP, SIERA, etc.) indicate that he was much better last season than his ERA would reflect.
Rodriguez was a solid reliever in 2011 with similar peripherals, but his 2012 strand rate (65.2 percent) caused his ERA to inflate. I think his velocity, strikeouts and peripherals are a better indicator for his future.
Houston could see Rodriguez return to being a very good reliever next year for very little cost: Rodriguez will make the league minimum.
Rodriguez had some bad moments in high leverage situations last year, and, as a result, doesn't get much love from Astros' fans. As I've written previously, Rodriguez's pitching performance wasn't at bad as we think. As we try to evaluate the 2013 relief corps, it's not unreasonable to project F-Rod as a useful part of the Astros' bullpen.
DuPaul has a simple approach to projecting relief pitcher performance. Reliever performance is notoriously volatile from year to year, in large part because the small sample size. Relievers typically pitch one-quarter to one-half as many innings as starting pitchers. He relies mostly on strike out percentages to evaluate relievers, pointing out that strike out percentage is one of the few statistics to have statistical reliability around the 60 innings mark.
In another Hardball Times' study, DuPaul finds that strike out percentage is a better predictor of future performance for relief pitchers than other measures like FIP, SIERA, and x-FIP that are typically used to project the future run prevention rate. Another surprising finding is that BB% adds relatively little to the prediction capability provided by K%. It's unclear why this is the case. Perhaps relief pitchers are unlikely to stay in the big leagues without showing a minimum level of control. Or maybe the conversion of a relief pitcher's walks into runs is controlled too much by subsequent relief pitchers, which adds to the volatility in predicting run prevention.
Here is a list of the Astros' top five K rate relief pitchers in 2012.
(K % / SIERA)
Storey 26.8% / 2.99
Ambriz 26.5% / 3.59
Cedeno 26.1% / 3.18
Rodriguez 25.2% / 3.53
Wright 24.2% / 2.83
The sample sizes are small (even in the relief pitcher world) for Storey, Ambriz, and Cedeno. Rodriguez is the only one of the five to exceed the 60 inning mark associated with stabilizing K rates. The Astros selection of Josh Fields in the Rule 5 draft is certainly consistent with relying on K% to evaluate relievers. His K rate of 32% and 39% in AA and AAA is really, really good.
Advanced Defensive Metrics vs. Scouting
The advanced defensive metrics, primarily DRS and UZR, evoke criticism in some quarters. When I read an article suggesting that WAR should encompass both scouting and advanced metrics to measure defensive value, I wondered "how different are scouting evaluations of defense compared to play-by-play metrics?"
We don't have the professional teams' scouting reports available to us--and certainly not in a form that can be compared to runs saved metrics. But we do have the fan scouting reports (FSR) collected by Tango, which are conveniently converted by fangraphs into a form which can be compared to UZR and DRS. (Unfortunately the FSR is not available until the next year.) FSR probably can be used as reasonable representation of the "eye test."
I used Fangraphs to develop a defensive leaderboard of 120 players for the period 2009 - 2011. Both UZR and DRS are highly correlated to FSR: for DRS, .73 correlation and .53 R-squared; for UZR, .70 correlation and .49 R-squared. Looking at several different comparisons (including annual runs saved at the team level), DRS usually has a better correlation with fans scouting reports than UZR. Total Zone results are much less similar to FSR (.38 R-squared). Other metrics like errors, RZR, and out of zone plays have little correlation to FSR.
On the one hand, the high level of correlation tells us that DRS and UZR are largely coming to the same conclusions as the "eye test." However, roughly one half of the variation in FSR is not explained by the advanced metrics. I'm not sure that this is surprising or a cause for concern, but it could be. Clearly, FSR and UZR/DRS reach different conclusions about the relative defensive value of some players. And, it's worth noting that UZR and DRS are more closely correlated with each other than they are with FSR.
Furthermore, we don't really know much about the precise reliability of scouting reports like FSR. I have wondered in the past whether FSR respondents are influenced by the UZR/DRS results they have seen previously. Given that scouting reports for each player are dominated by fans of his team, there is a real possibility of bias toward popular or unpopular players. For that matter, even professional scouting reports could be subject to similar biases, though perhaps to a lessor extent.
Update: 1:00 p.m.
Last week, I somehow tripped into the role of co-faux-General Manager of the Houston Astros for the SB Nation Winter Meeting Simulation. The Simulation was conceived and hosted by RoyalsRetro over at our SB Nation sister site, RoyalsReview.com, and the general consensus afterwards was that the exercise was great fun and taught us all a little bit about the complexity of managing a baseball roster on a budget.
The simulation wrap-up can be found here, and I provided a play-by-play throughout the week. Through the process, I traded emails with some very interesting people who write for or are regular readers to various SB Nation baseball websites, and I intend to stay in touch with some of them. Notably, my co-GM Shaun (KCTiger) and I traded somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 emails this week as we bounced ideas off each other, strategized, and fielded or made offers with other clubs. I also exchanged 200+ emails with the Phillies', Royals', and a couple other GM's to work out the specifics of trades.
The rules were simple: we each had total control of our team. RoyalsRetro would act as the agent for all Free Agents (a job he performed admirably, and in some cases well enough to get him hired by players such as Brandon McCarthy, Shaun Marcum, and Jeremy Guthrie), and the GM's would negotiate with him to sign players. The GM's contacted each other directly to work out trades. No 2012 Draft picks could be traded, and contracts had to be average annual value (no front- or back-loaded contracts). Naturally, we all tried to compress the entire offseason into one week, so there were ten times the number of deals and signings as the actual Winter Meetings, but we only had a week to fix our teams and made the most of it.
Here's how it went:
Shaun and I decided that we would work with the Astros' stated budget of $30 million for the 25-man roster, though we decided that payments to non-rostered players (Wandy Rodriguez, for example), would not count towards that. Late in the Sim, as prices skyrocketed beyond a reasonable real-life level, we expanded the budget to $35 million. To my knowledge, we are the only one of the 30 teams that had a budget of less than $50-$60 million by the end of the Sim, and that made our job very interesting. Most teams ended up close to or well over $100 million.
Our strategy broke down into several main goals, under the understanding that we intended the Astros to compete for a playoff spot in 2015 at the earliest:
Over at this post, I detailed the additions/trades that we made through the course of the week. In the interest of brevity, here's a quick summary:
At first, Raburn was intended to be our DH. We liked his upside and he was cheap. But as we started to clear payroll, we realized we had an opportunity to add Kyle Blanks as well. Blanks has suffered at Petco park (mostly due to injury, but also because he is a born DH with no good position and his home park hates hitters in general), and we thought the gamble worth the cost of Batista and Jokisch. I didn't really want to trade Batista, but the addition of Elier Hernandez in an earlier trade (a toolsy international signing with a major league future) made Batista expendable.
Starting Pitcher contracts went crazy pretty early in the sim (4-years/$50 million for Brandon McCarthy, Zack Greinke for 6-years/$175 million, Clayton Kershaw for 10 years/$300 million). As such, there was a bidding war on Marcum, and I was trying to treat this simulation as realistically as possible. I knew it would take an overpay for the Astros to land a rotation anchor, and I really wanted somebody who could help lead the rotation into 2015 and beyond. Marcum has a history of injury, but he has been stellar for several years since his major injury in 2009, and he hasn't posted an ERA over 4.00 since his first full season six years ago. He had several offers on the table (one that I know of for sure was for $40 million over 4 years from a team in contention), so it became clear we would need to up the ante. A frontline starter was the one big expense I was willing to shell out for, and I'm happy with the guy we landed.
Jurrjens, Blanks, and Raburn were obvious fits for the Astros. All three have huge upside and have shown it in the majors in the past, and all three have been in circumstances preventing them from reaching it. These would be the "Lunhow picks" if you want to call them that. All three stand to boost the Astros' chances in 2013, while also being low cost enough to not hurt payroll. If they reach their ceilings (and I believe very strongly in Raburn and Jurrjens at least), they are considerable trade chips later in the season. The deals are also pretty short and will not block top prospects.
The Oswalt signing was a no-brainer to boost attendance in Minute Maid Park, but we also thought he would be a very good pitcher this season, as his FIP last year was only 4.01 with the Rangers. Capps was to add a veteran presence to the bullpen and to replace the loss of Wright, Lopez, and Rodriguez.
Overall, of the prospects we added to the Astros' system, seven of them were listed on MLB.com's list of Top 20 prospects for each organization. In particular, we took advantage of KCTiger's knowledge of the Royals' farm system, as Ventura (#5), Montgomery (#6), Sulbaran (#8), Lamb (#9), and Hernandez (#18) were taken from a system generally considered to be one of the best and added to the Astros' already-improved system. Both of the Phillies' top prospects were from their Top 15, and Valle (#7) would be the top Catching prospect in the Astros' system.
The interesting part of the process was negotiating with other GM's, not knowing if they were using you as leverage to work with somebody else. We spent a lot of time (most of Tuesday) talking with the Phillies about a deal for Norris headlined by pitcher Trevor May, only to have our shot-in-the-dark offer to the Royals almost instantly accepted later in the day.
Also on Tuesday, we were talking to both Co-GM's of the Diamondbacks separately and had two different deals accepted for Jeff Francoeur, only to have both pulled off the table when we tried to get the GM's together to pick which deal that they offered would be the one to go with. I was ticked. Luckily, I already had a handshake agreement with the Cubs in place and was able to fall back on that deal. Thanks to the Cubs GM for being very understanding and waiting on us to try to move Francoeur without cash considerations before accepting his offer.
Some GM's we were able to pull deals with (Wright, Blanks) only took a couple of emails - we both knew exactly what we wanted, and we both were being reasonable. Other trades, such as the one with Philly, were very amicable but took extended conversation to educate each other on the relative values of the players involved.
Every GM wanted to know if Jed Lowrie was available. He absolutely was available but we played it like we thought the Astros really will. We made it clear we wanted multiple top prospects back in the deal, and since we were working with fan bloggers, that was pretty much a non-starter in all cases. A few conversations went beyond the initial few emails, but we did not like the offers we were getting (they were not even close to how we valued Lowrie as an organization). Eventually, Shaun and I decided the best option would be to extend Lowrie to a team-friendly contract that would boost his future trade value while keeping his potent bat in the Astros' lineup for 2013 at least.
First I want to thank Chris for joining me. The commissioner of this league initially paired me with Baltimore, but they fell through, and I was given Houston. Now I'll admit...I'm much more of an AL expert than an NL expert, so the Astro's weren't a complete familiarity to me. (But that doesn't matter anymore because BY THE WAY WELCOME TO THE AL!!!) So I reached out to Chris for some help, and he was tremendous in doing so. I 100% could not have done this without his help.
This was a fun thing. I felt like a semi-GM at some points. Emailing other GM's, turning down trades, fist pumping when we made a good one. I legitimately thought the Houston fanbase would be happy with what their GM Duo has done.
I'm going to focus on one specific deal, because it's coming from my matter of expertise.
Chris told me flat out to put together a deal that would fleece the Royals. It took me probably all of 10 seconds to put together a package that I 100% KNEW Josh, the Royals GM, would turn down. I figured "okay...I'll offer him this and he'll say no and we'll go from there." After waiting a bit for him to get back to me, my eyes split open when he said "take Francouer and it's a deal."
Let me say this... If that trade happened in real life...I would forge my old Royals badge from when I worked there, stand out in front of the front offices at One Royal Way, and stab the very first person who walks through the door. I don't care if it's Dayton Moore or the guy who is in charge of picking what hot dogs Kauffman sells. By the way this very thought crossed my mind on Sunday night when news of the Class A Felony Robbery that the Rays just did to the Royals when we lost Wil Myers.
I think we completely fleeced the Royals in the Norris trade. We got Ventura, a highly highly regarded prospect among Royal fandom. He's a fire throwing #2 ceiling SP who still pretty dang young. Lot of questions about his frame, but I like him long term.
We get a reclamation process in Mike Montgomery. He was ranked as high as #2 on Royals prospect lists. I think he still has the tools, and as long as he isn't being led by Royals pitching coaches (undoubtedly the worst in the league), he can develop it. Just watch what the Tampa Bay Rays are about to do with him. I wouldn't be surprised if he turns out to be a #2-3 guy. (He was projected at one point to be a #1)
I love John Lamb. Probably more than anybody in the Royals system not named Myers or Zimmer. Power thrower. Great tools. Good command. Just everything. Guy has a ridiculous frame and could be a pro wrestler. Went through TJ surgery (as have 8 other Royals pitchers the past 2 years...), but still has a very high ceiling.
Hernandez is a nice throw in. He's still a baby, but has the tools to be an everyday guy. Doubt he'll ever be a star or above average, but could be good enough to start.
If this trade happened in real life, my interest in Astros baseball would increase 10 fold.
- I LOVE the Oswalt deal. I know Houston folk love him too.
- I think we did a decent job on Marcum. Realistically he probably doesn't sign in Houston, but with what we got him for, a year longer than expected, but for this simulation he was a great grab. An awesome piece to "appease" the fans during the turnover.
- I love the club option on Jurrjens.
I don't know what the Astros 2013 team projects win wise now, but I don't think we can expect anything above 75 wins. They're moving from a kinda weak division, to maybe the best division in the MLB. (I like the AL West over the East)
What this simulation does provide is a bright outlook for 2014/2015+. And I think that's what Chris and I were trying to do all along. Never did it cross our mind to spend on Greinke, or trade for Justin Upton or any big impact for 2013. With Singleton, Correa, Springer, Monty, Lamb, Ventura, Cosart, DeShields etc... this makes Houston baseball look great for the upcoming years, and I hope that they shine, unlike a certain team I enjoy.
Thanks to Chris for helping me with. Thanks to SBN for hosting it. And thanks TCB readers for reading. I really hope we made you guys proud, and glad that you trusted us with your team.
In all, I think Shaun and I met our goals completely. There is definitely risk involved with our choices of Raburn and Blanks to play outfield and DH, but for the cost we liked what we had. The rotation was completely revamped and stands to add a significant win total to the 2013 Astros while not blocking any of the best prospects in the long run. We loaded up on extremely high-ceiling prospects (boy were Royals fans at RoyalsReview p/o'ed about the Norris trade), and left our options open for future trades. The trades we did pull off led to some confusion in the bullpen, but the off-season isn't over yet, and plenty of veteran relievers are still available. Until the bullpen is filled (on somebody else's imaginary watch!) we intend to take a closer-by-committee approach.
The SB Nation Winter Meetings Simulation was great fun, and I hope that it will be done again next year - I would definitely want to participate again, and I encourage everybody to look through the comments threads of the various articles related to the event.
"New" Astros 25-man roster (payroll: $32,120,000, plus payouts to W. Rodriguez and the Cubs for Francoeur):
Andruw Jones hasn't been a member of the Atlanta Braves for five years now, but he will always be that kid with the wry smile who thrilled us in center field for over a decade; and most Braves fans still have a love for him as the player they remember gliding effortlessly to many a deep fly balls.
Now that kid is 35 years old, and has bounced around to four different teams since leaving Atlanta, but his next team will be a world away. Per ESPN:
The Rakuten Eagles of Japan's Pacific League say they are set to sign veteran major league outfielder Andruw Jones.
The 35-year-old Jones became a free agent after playing for the New York Yankees the last two seasons, and the Eagles said he is expected to complete a deal after undergoing a physical.
Jones hit just .194 last season, so he certainly seems to be in the latter stages of the decline phase of his baseball career. I loved watching Jones play the field, and I even liked watching him hit, especially during his 51 home run season in 2005. I wish him the best in Japan.