With the calendar ready to flip to December, MLB Free Agency has started picking up as expected. B.J. Upton has been the biggest name to switch teams thus far, and his deal may set the market for outfielders.
Upton landed a huge, 5 year, $75 million deal with the Atlanta Braves, signaling their moving on from Michael Bourn, and really setting a precedent for outfielders in this free agent market. I mean, Upton is a nice player with some upside and is about to hit his prime, but $15M/per for a guy who hits .240 and doesn't carry an OPS over .800? Granted, he's a skilled defender in center, and does have 20+ home run power, but he was hitting in a live yard in Tampa and never really hit like everyone expected he would. With Hunter getting $13M a year earlier this month from Detroit, and now Upton getting this deal, it certainly helps out Angel Pagan's status. Maybe he will find that 4 year/$50M deal he's been reportedly seeking after all. He doesn't have the power potential that Upton has, he does everything else as well or better than B.J.With the way things are shaping up, I am getting an even stronger feeling that the Giants will end up signing Shane Victorino. I mean, as far as skill sets, Michael Bourn really isn't that far off from Gregor Blanco, whereas Victorino is a little more potent offensively and still has that speed on the base paths and excellent range in the outfield. Not to mention, he can hit in different spots in the order.
Now, whether it's Bourn, Pagan, Victorino or someone else we've yet to mention, the Giants need a center fielder/leadoff hitter. That's not the only help this team could use in it's outfield though. They have to be looking at corner OF options as well. They essentially need two starting outfielders right now, and with their lack of trading resources, they'll likely have to do it via free agency. That's been the tough spot for Sabean in recent years, dating back to the bad deal he gave Zito. Even if they sign one of those three mentioned to play center, they need they're reigning Champs and need to start improving rather than penny-pinching. There are two really intriguing options out there though in my mind, and those two are Nick Swisher and former Giant, Cody Ross. As far as the non-Giant free agents go, Swisher would probably be my top target if I were Sabean, but as the top corner outfielder on the market, and seeing what the others have gotten thus far, he's going to get a huge deal. I could really see Swish fitting right in with San Francisco though, and thriving here. I mean, how sweet would a Swisher-Pagan/Victorino-Pence outfield be!? Ross makes a lot of sense as well, seeing his history with the Giants and the way he rebounded from his injury-plagued 2011 season.
We're also approaching the arbitration deadline which is in mid-December, and should start to see other names hit the market that may be viable options for the Giants in the outfield. One of which already has been non-tendered, former Giant Andres Torres. I'd take Torres back in a second, not as a starter and he really only makes sense if the Giants have some more right-handed power on the roster. If they went into next year with a Blanco-Torres-Pence starting outfield, they'd be in trouble. However, if they found a very good left fielder (Josh Hamilton anyone?), then I could even live with a Blanco/Torres platoon in center.
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Much of the offseason drama for the Miami Marlins has likely come and gone, as J. Lo's crew counts down the days until spring training and actual games are being played. And while the "hot stove" in Miami has been as cold as ever in recent days, today we finally learned a new rumor/tidbit, courtesy of Fox Sports national baseball columnist/bow tie enthusiast, Ken Rosenthal:
How 'bout that, y'all? The Marlins have their eye on a center fielder! From outside the organization! Exclamation points!
In all seriousness, a trade for Peter Bourjos, as Rosenthal points out, would in fact be highly unlikely given the state of Miami farm system and that Bourjos wouldn't be an upgrade that would put the club in contention for a playoff spot by any means. But then again, anything with this team is possible and I like to imagine this was a tweet from Rosenthal's draft folder until the Toronto deal:
@Ken_Rosenthal: Uh, by the way, #BlueJays need a SS, LHP, IF, and RHP. Would love to trade for #Marlins' Reyes, Johnson, Buehrle, and Bonifacio in the same deal (impossible), or maybe sign some FAs.
The best part about Rosenthal's real-life tweet, though, was the response he received from the Marlins' real-life current center field, Justin Ruggiano:
@ken_rosenthal no we don't. I got this.— Justin Ruggiano (@justinruggiano) November 29, 2012
The response drew rave reviews from Rosenthal and others around the Twitterverse, going viral rather quickly.
On the field in 2012, Ruggiano was injury-prone but still managed put up a solid line of .313/.374/.535 in 91 games for the Fish. His absurdly-high .401 BABIP and high strikeout / low walk rates indicate that he's likely due to regress next season, but he may still have a point. With the amount of turnover Miami has experienced in just a few short weeks this winter, there's no point in investing resources (whether it be money or prospects) in players for the heck of it, and the club may as well give Ruggiano a shot to hold down the fort in center until he proves that he can't.
Justin Ruggiano may not be the long-term answer in center field but he's at least got a sense of humor, something that has become an necessary tool for Marlins fans over the last few months.
It's fairly clear the Arquimedes Caminero is the most inconsistent, yet interesting and talented Marlins pitching prospect. Standing 6'4'', Caminero has a nasty fastball that can touch up to 98 MPH, but he's been held back by injuries his entire career. Caminero had a very impressive but short 2012 season in which he pitched for High-A Jupiter and Double-A Jacksonville. Now, at the age of twenty-five, Caminero is proving to Dominican hitters how consistent he can be.
Caminero's 2012 season officially started on June 2nd in Jupiter. Coming off of a season in which Caminero pitched in only one inning in rookie ball, few thought Caminero could make it through a whole season without getting injured. After all, he hadn't done that since 2010, the only time Caminero pitched for the majority of a year since being since by the Marlins in 2005. Well, Caminero did it. In a season when one major injury could end his professional baseball career in the United States, Caminero stayed healthy and resurrected his career.
So far, in 12.1 innings pitching for the Toros del Este, Caminero has allowed six hits, and only one earned run. He has a 10/4 K/BB ratio. Simply put, in a limited amount of time, Caminero has left his mark on the Dominican Winter League. I'm not sure as to whether or not to hope that Caminero gets more innings or more rest. With more innings, he could develop his offspeed pitches. On the other hand, he probably has not thrown this many innings in one calendar year before in his life. Hopefully, the Marlins are in contact with the Toros del Este and making sure Caminero is getting the right amount of work.
If everything goes right, Arquimedes Euclides Caminero could be pitching in the Marlins' bullpen by the All-Star break. He will likely start out the year at Double-A Jacksonville. Caminero has always had a ton of talent; whether or not he can stay on the field and learn to develop one of his offspeed pitches is what will determine whether he will be successful or not. Caminero's impressive numbers in the DWL is a good sign that he is going to continue the consistency he had in 2012 into the next year.
Frank Robinson 2012 Topps Update ‘Blockbusters’ I love the thought of the ‘Blockbuster’ set that Topps included in their 2012 Update set. The theme is fantastic and I really like the look of the newspaper theme that Topps used for … Continue reading →
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CHICAGO (AP) — The Cubs have hired Scott Harris as their director of baseball operations.
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington Nationals have acquired outfielder Denard Span from the Minnesota Twins for minor league pitcher Alex Meyer, giving the reigning NL East champions a leadoff hitter and center fielder.
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Let's just say the Royals owner is now officially his own worst enemy.
"We don’t have a hard number on anything."
I’ll buy this. And amazingly, it makes a wonderful amount of sense. Professional sports teams should all operate with a "soft" cap where they set a target and have the flexibility to move past that target by something like 15 percent. This is something Glass has stated time and again that when the time is right, he will allow the Royals to move payroll beyond a "soft" cap amount. He kind of sort of did this back in 2003 when the Royals were in the race late in the season.
While they don't have a "hard" number, they most certainly have a target. They most certainly do.
"I would tell you that for us to break even, our payroll has to be in the $70 million range. But as we’ve discussed before, we will react based on what our opportunities are."
And there you go. $70 million it is.
Obviously, Glass will never, ever open his team’s books but this is as cut and dry as you can make it. He is claiming the break even point is close to $70 million.
Except, according to the numbers from Forbes, that's not close to being correct.
They say, when the Royals had a $70 million payroll back in 2009, they had an operating income of $8.9 million.
"Look, you might have a $65-to-$70 million payroll, but then you go out and spend $25-$30 million in amateur bonuses. Everyone says, ‘Well, your payroll is less than some of the other teams,’ but those other teams were spending less than $10 million in amateur bonuses."
The smoking gun...
First, the idea the Royals have spent upwards of $30 million in amateur bonuses is highly suspect. JJ Cooper from Baseball America (who has been doing an outstanding job covering this in the limited spectrum that is Twitter) notes the most the Royals ever spent on a draft was in 2011 when they drafted Bubba Starling and committed a total of slightly over $14 million. That year, according to Baseball America, they spent $6.8 million on the international market. That's a commitment of just under $21 million. Not even close to the $30 million floated by Glass.
To top it off, that was the year the Royals committed to The Process and had an Opening Day payroll of $38.2 million. So in that season the payroll and bonus expenditure was roughly $59 million.
In the interest of fairness, let's flip the numbers and look at a year when the Royals had a high payroll. In 2010, Opening Day payroll was a club record $75 million. That year, the Royals spent $2.7 million on the international market and committed $6.7 in draft bonuses. That's a little above $84 million.
Further, in 2009 payroll was $70.5 million. That year the Royals spent $6.7 on the draft and various estimates put them at over $6 million on the international market. That's a little above $83 million.
We can say with confidence the most the Royals have ever spent on payroll and amateur bonuses was under $85 million. Yet Glass says they have had years with a $70 million payroll (true) while they went out and spent $30 million on bonuses. (Not so true.)
Besides, for Glass to bring up amateur bonuses is a total non-starter now because of the CBA. Glass is either A) deliberately misleading, or B) out of touch with the economic realities of the game.
Neither option is promising.
"In a number of those years, if you add what we’re spending on amateur bonuses to our (major-league) salaries, we’re spending a lot of money."
We've already established the bonus numbers are suspect. Now is the time to dive deeper into the Fuzzy Math.
The new collective bargaining agreement effectively places a cap on the amount teams can spend on amateur bonuses. According to Baseball America, last year the Royals spent $6.2 million on the draft. This number will vary from year to year based on draft position and other factors. (Yes, the Royals can exceed the draft bonus cap. However, the penalties for going over the limit are exceptional. We're talking forfeiture of draft picks for going over by as little as five percent. There is no reason for the Royals to top their limit.) Additionally, the club was further capped internationally to the tune of $2.9 million. Baseball America says their total bonus expenditure was $7.6 million.
Remember how Glass mentioned they've spent $30 million in the past in this area? If that's true, the Royals, because of the limits of the new CBA, have around $21 million in cash that is available. So why not sink that into payroll? Why, if they added that bonus money into the "soft cap" of $70 million, the Royals payroll could come in around $90 million.
These are Glass' numbers. He says the payroll has to be at $70 million for him to break even. Those numbers make it seem like he has an extra $20 million in his pocket from the capped bonus pool. Therefore, it only follows that he can spend $90 million. These numbers just don't add up.
Of course, no one believes Glass is only breaking even. No one believe the Royals ever spent $30 million in signing bonuses.
After talking to the Star, David Glass doesn't have a shred of credibility remaining.
"The thing being discussed that borders on ridiculous is the $70 million payroll," Glass said. "I’ve always said that whatever money the franchise generates, we’re willing to put it all back in — whether it’s in amateur bonuses or payroll or scouting.
Again, that's not what Forbes says. But David Glass says Forbes doesn't have accurate numbers.
Baseball owners are a tight-knit fraternity. They will never, ever voluntarily open their books. However, as JJ Cooper noted the Florida Marlins made similar claims that the Forbes numbers were incorrect. Yet when their financial documents were leaked to Deadspin, it showed they were spot on.
"I’m even willing to go further and subsidize it at a time when we’ve got a chance to win our division or really be competitive. We’re at that time, so now you get to the point where it depends on what’s available."
You can't see me right now. But I'm playing the world's smallest violin.
At least he senses The Process has opened a slight window of opportunity. Given the market size and the poor judgement shown by the major league talent evaluators, they are only going to get one shot.
"So now you get to the point where it depends on what’s available," he said. "You say, ‘Go spend it.’ Well, what do you spend it on? Unless you get something that is going to help you beyond this year … I don’t want us to have a one-year approach."
This is some good news. The fear (which is very real, in my opinion) is that Dayton Moore knows his job is on the line. And when a GM is fighting for his job, they will sacrifice the long term. It's human nature. Hopefully, this means they aren't going to do something foolish... Like a Wil Myers trade for two years of starting pitching.
David Glass is trying to justify his budgets. Except the numbers we have at our disposal, don't help his cause. The Process has gotten us to this point. Now it's time for the Royals to be bold and make a move. Waiting serves no purpose. The money is there. It must be spent. And it must be spent wisely.
This week we’re looking at the Defensive Catching Statistics Stolen Base Runs Saved (rSB) and[...]
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His FIP says he is not this good, but 400 innings into his career, the young narwhal continues to keep the luck dragons at bay.
Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated gives an overview of the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot: New Hall of Fame ballot weighty in talent and controversy | Hit and Run - SI.com
Debate over the propriety of holding their alleged transgressions against them in this context will suck up much of the available oxygen, deflecting attention away from other impressive first-timers such as Craig Biggio, Curt Schilling and Kenny Lofton. Meanwhile, a trio of holdovers (Jack Morris, Jeff Bagwell and Lee Smith) have crossed the 50 percent threshold, suggesting they’re on their way to eventual enshrinement, while others such as Tim Raines, Alan Trammell and Edgar Martinez are still trying to get similar attention from the voters.
Also in Hall of Fame news, Tom Tango and Jonah Keri's Tim Raines site is fantastic: TIM RAINES - HALL OF FAME, 2013
Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus lists off the top 10 prospects in the Red Sox system: Baseball Prospectus | Prospects Will Break Your Heart: Boston Red Sox Top 10 Prospects
After two straight disappointing seasons that have ended in turmoil and the late August blockbuster trade that saw Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, and Carl Crawford shipped to Los Angeles, the organization has entered a retooling phase focused on a combination of more disciplined acquisitions and an infusion of younger talent. The crown jewel of the system, Xander Bogaerts’ star shines bright, highlighted by his impact bat potential that will play at any spot on the diamond. Bogaerts’ easy bat speed and lightning-quick wrists enable him to consistently barrel offerings up with authority to all fields
Eno Sarris of FanGraphs looks at relievers who throw a low percentage of fastballs: The Reliever Without a Fastball | FanGraphs Baseball
Sort the 2012 relievers by fastball usage (minimum 10 innings pitched), and then click it again, and you get a proxy for the worst fastballs in bullpens last year. You’ll also get a list of players that includes Burns (fourth-fewest fastballs with 31.7%) and Storey (17th-fewest, 37%). You have to go all the way down to 25th on the list — Mike Adams, with 39.8% fastballs — before you see a player that might sign a multi-year major league contract this season.