Monday, December 24, 2012

Andy's 2013 WBC USA Roster

So as I sit here watching Pawn Stars on this fine Minnesotan Christmas Eve, the 2013 World Baseball Classic crossed my mind.  Only Joe Mauer and David Wright have confirmed they will participate in the third-ever WBC.

I put myself in Joe Torre's shoes and tried to think, who would I want on my 25-man roster?  I went back and looked at the roster from 2009 and tried to base my roster on that.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

2012 All B-WAR Team

As we close in on the holidays, I was sitting in my basement bored to death.  So I thought I'd make a realistic roster (a team composed the way a normal team would be) and see what it would look like with the top players based on Baseball Reference WAR.  Here are the results and so you don't have to take out your calculator the team combined for a 141.7 WAR.

And now, the roster:

C  Buster Posey-SF (7.2)
1B  Joey Votto-CIN (5.6)
2B  Robinson Cano-NYY (8.2)
3B  Miguel Cabrera-DET (6.9)
SS  Erick Aybar-LAA (4.0)
OF  Mike Trout-LAA (10.7)
OF  Andrew McCutchen-PIT (7.0)
OF  Ryan Braun-MIL (6.8)

1. Justin Verlander-DET (7.6)
2. David Price-TB (6.4)
3. Clayton Kershaw-LAD (6.2)
4. Matt Harrison-TEX (6.2)
5. Johnny Cueto-CIN (5.8)

C Yadier Molina-STL (6.7)
INF Adrian Beltre-TEX (6.7)
INF David Wright-NYM (6.7)
OF Alex Gordon-KC (6.2)
OF Michael Bourn-ATL (6.0)

1. Fernando Rodney-TB (3.7)
2. Aroldis Chapman-CIN (3.6)
3. Craig Kimbrel-ATL (3.2)
4. Rafael Soriano-NYY (2.6)
5. Ryan Cook-OAK (2.6)
6. Rafael Betancourt-COL (2.6)
7. Nate Jones-CWS (2.5

Will the Diamondbacks and Rangers finally make a deal?

Yesterday, the Arizona Diamondbacks inked Cody Ross to a three-year deal worth $26 million.  The outfield in the desert was already crowded and this deal makes it more packed.  

The Diamondbacks’ payroll is now around $95 million, up from about $75.5 million in 2012 and $56.5 million in 2011, and ownership is not forcing GM Kevin Towers to make a trade to get payroll down, though this seems unlikely.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Dodgers of the East: the New York Yankees

The Dodgers of the East: the New York Yankees

For those who are friends with Yankee fans, as I am, to you I wish my deepest apologies.  It’s difficult to win an argument with a person when they drop the famous line, “THEY’VE WON THE MOST WORLD SERIES EVER!”

Then the conversation takes a turn and the issue of money comes up, something the Yankees teams of the past had no problem spending.  

Well, now the spending has gone west.  The Dodgers have taken on every bad Red Sox contract and have signed the top free agent starting pitcher in Zach Greinke for nearly $150 million.  The Angels meanwhile have signed Albert Pujols, CJ Wilson, and Josh Hamilton in the past two off seasons

The Yankee fans who so proudly fought for their team now are saying the team is not exactly a high spender because they are trying to go under $189 million for their payroll so they can avoid the luxury tax.

Here is an conversation I had with a friend (and Yankee fan) on Twitter.

“Friend”: For everyone that says the Yankees “buy” the World Series, look at what’s going on in Los Angeles
Me: Angels still below luxury tax limit.  Yankees not quite so.  Dodgers are crazy
Me: Yankees hit with $18.9 million luxury tax, 10th straight year they’ll pay a penalty for spending...
“Friend”: I don’t care they are still gonna be better than your Twins and Dbacks
Me: That’s not the point.  Talking about what’s going on with the Angels is a Yankee move
“Friend”: You need to settle down Peter Gammons it’s A Rods fault
Me: Or Yankee management for giving into him? Nah, it’s A-Rod’s fault
*End of Conversation*

This conversation led me to do a quick, simple study about the Yankees payroll.

The first simple study is the team’s payroll and where it ranks compared to other MLB teams (in parenthesis) and how much they paid per win in the past decade. The payroll data is courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

2012: $209, 792, 900 (1); $2, 208, 346.32/win
2011: $207, 047, 964 (1); $2, 134, 515.09/win
2010: $213, 359, 389 (1); $2, 245, 888.31/win
2009: $201, 449, 189 (1); $1, 955, 817.37/win
2008: $209, 081, 577 (1); $2, 349, 231.20/win
2007: $189, 639, 045 (1); $2, 017, 436.65/win
2006: $194, 663, 045 (1); $2, 006, 835.52/win
2005: $208, 306, 817 (1); $2, 192, 703.34/win
2004: $184, 193, 950 (1); $1, 823, 702.48/win
2003: $152, 749, 814 (1); $1, 512, 374.40/win
2002: $125, 928, 583 (1); $1, 222, 607.60/win

That’s a lot per win when teams like the Rays have recently shown that being in the playoffs is possible on a much smaller budget.

The second study is a look at the richest contracts in baseball history.  Taking the top 50 contracts let’s see how many of them have been paid at some point by the Bronx Bombers.

1. Alex Rodriguez: $275, 000, 000
2. Alex Rodriguez: $252, 000, 000
6. Derek Jeter: $189, 000, 000
8. Mark Teixeira: $180, 000, 000
9. CC Sabathia: $161, 000, 000
28. CC Sabathia: $122, 000, 000
30. Jason Giambi: 121, 000, 000
42. Ichiro Suzuki: $90, 000, 000 (mostly paid by Mariners)

If there is one thing we can learn from this, the Yankees have no problem spending money.  With them deciding to cut down payroll though, could this mean the Steinbrenner family is ready to sell the team?  

Only time will tell.

On The Mets and Prospects

My Gawd. Did you see that trade? Sandy Alderson is totally ripping off the Jays! Last year he acquires Zack Wheeler for Carlos Beltran and this year he gets Travis d'Arnaud AND Noah Syndergaard for RA Dickey? Dayum.

Baseball Prospectus recently ranked d'Arnaud and Syndergaard as the top two prospects in Toronto's system, Baseball America ranked them #1 and #3 respectively. (As a side note, it's refreshing to be able to write # signs without the implications of a stupid hashtag.) BP sees d'Arnaud as having All-Star potential behind the plate and Syndergaard as a possible frontline starter. I'd get into what BA thinks, but it's essentially the same. And did I mention the Mets will have these two cost-controlled for six (!) seasons?

Sounds like quite a deal for a 38 year old who is essentially unprojectable and on a one year contract. In fact, almost all of Twitter would agree. Unfortunately, I'm too lazy to look up examples, but they're out there, trust me.

It sure does look like the Mets found themselves a franchise catcher to pair with David Wright, Daniel Murphy and Ruben Tejada. It also appears the Mets are building quite a rotation with Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard. Maybe a nice little run from 2015-2018?

Maybe. But don't forget:
The best laid schemes o' mice and men                                                                                             often go awry
The promise of a prospect is alluring. And when the kids work out, it's a beautiful thing (see Trout, Mike; Longoria, Evan or Posey, Buster). But that's not always the case. For every Trout there's a Brandon Wood. Prospects are far from surefire, all we are doing now is guessing the outcome.

For even more perspective, Ben Lindbergh of BP recently wrote about traded prospects and concluded that traded prospects are more likely to fall short of projection than those who an organization held onto. It makes sense, a team that drafted and developed a player should know more about that player than any other team. Therefore, if a team sees a player's stock is a bit too high in the media or scouting circles, they'd do well to trade high: to cash in on the risk.

It's still too early to say whether the Jays' made a foolish "All In" deal or if they knew something about d'Arnaud and Syndergaard the rest of us, and the Mets, did not. For what it's worth, my guess is the truth is somewhere in between.

The point is, when assessing this or any trade involving prospects, the inherent information asymmetry between the teams and us "the analysts" should lead to at least some temperance of judgement. Sure, the deal looks great for the Jays now and given what we know now, it was a great deal. However, what we do not know is what will make or break this trade.

All In

As if trading for the Marlins wasn't enough, the Toronto Blue Jays acquiring RA Dickey screams from the mountaintops "We're all in."

And why not? The Yankees are looking more and more like a senior league softball team, Boston is still in a transitory phase, Tampa hasn't done much to improve for 2013 and Baltimore is still Baltimore. The AL East is as wide open as ever.

The Blue Jays have never had trouble scoring and it won't be any trouble in 2013. The lineup features three of the top hitters at their positions in the two Jose's (Reyes and Bautista) and Edwin Encarnacion; in addition to a host of players with huge potential in Melky Cabrera, Colby Rasmus and Brett Lawrie. Like I said, barring injuries, offense is not a concern in Toronto; that side of the coin is covered.

(Get into the good stuff below the page break)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Twins Ink Pelfrey

In the second exciting (not exciting) move in a week, the Twins have signed right-hander Mike Pelfrey to a one year deal worth at least $4 million.

I can say this much for certain, Pelfrey is a big dude - 6'7" - and was, at one point, pretty decent. From 2008-2011 he averaged 32 starts, 196 IP, a 4.27 ERA and 1.65 K/BB ratio. He's not a strikeout pitcher, or a pinpoint control guy, but he gets groundballs (48.6 GB%) and should continue to keep the ball in the park at Target Field.

Pelfrey's arsenal, at least in the past, has consisted of a hard sinker in the mid-90's, a 4-seamer at the same speed and a slider and splitter that he throws less than 20% of the time. In 2011, his slider was primarily used as a putaway pitch versus righties and almost never against lefties.

The most important question for Pelfrey doesn't pertain to his stuff or peripherals, however, it applies to his health. After 3 starts in 2012, Pelfrey injured his elbow, requiring Tommy John Surgery. The rule of thumb is that he won't be back for a full year, meaning we can expect to see him back in May. However, with advances in medicine, it's not entirely uncommon for pitchers to return in less than 12 months; according to a tweet from Jon Heyman, the Twins expect him to be ready for opening day. Darren Wolfson tweeted a source that said an opening day return was unlikely, but it should be pretty close. If he has to miss 3 or 4 starts to begin the season, the time missed won't significantly hurt the value of the deal, but it's certainly something to keep our collective eye on.

All that said, if Pelfrey sounds like quite a gamble. That's because he is, but unlike the Correia deal, Pelfrey has real upside and could make an impact on the Twins in 2013 and beyond.

What does this mean for the Twins pitching staff? Well, it now consists of four somewhat established starters in Worley, Diamond, Correia and Pelfrey. There's still Hendriks, DeVries and Gibson who each figure to start a few games. In addition to these options, Heyman notes the Twins are still in the market another starter and Wolfson says possibly two more starters.

I like the idea; stock up on low risk guys and hope they perform well to flip for prospects or lure fans out an increasingly empty Target Field. Going forward, hopefully they can find a guy with a bit more upside than Correia and Pelfrey. But, nonetheless, it's an encouraging move and shows Terry Ryan and co. are serious about putting together a real big league pitching staff in 2013, even if it won't win any awards.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

What would Brandon Webb bring to the Twins?

For the first offseason in a while, the idea the Twins are going for and what I think they should do are in line.

Finding Major League arms who can effectively throw five or more innings a game and do it 30 or more times a year is difficult to find which is why the Twins ought to compile as many cheap starters as possible before the young guns are ready to step up.  Trying to rely on non-prospect pitchers does no good for rebuilding (see Cole DeVries, Sam Deduno and P.J. Walters).

Brandon Webb, the 2006 Cy Young award winner and 2007 and 2008 runner-up, is holding a throwing session after the holidays and the Twins are going to be one of the teams in attendance.  In 2003-2008 Webb produced a b/WAR and f/WAR of 31.7 while Baseball Prospectus had his WARP at 18.3.  

Friday, December 14, 2012

Did the Diamondbacks get enough for Trevor Bauer?

When the Diamondbacks drafted Trevor Bauer with the third overall pick in 2011, they got a pitcher with good current talent and the ability to become an ace at the top of the rotation.

Well after a somewhat bumpy first full season, Bauer Hour has moved and in a somewhat questionable deal.

Many in the baseball media have said the Diamondbacks clearly lost the three-way deal and the return is not significant enough.

The main component coming to Arizona is Didi Gregorious, a left-handed hitting shortstop who is only 22 years old.  

He fits Kevin Towers’ need for a shortstop but he might not be an impact player.  Throughout the minors he has not put up good OBA and has no power or base-stealing ability.

On defense, Gregorious has been highly regarded but it has been reported that some scouts see him as more of a utility type than full-time player.  The ability to defend up the middle is very important and he might provide some value there.

Up the middle, and assuming Gregorious is given the starting role, the defense is strong.  Miguel Montero has been praised for his work behind the dish and pitchers have taken well to his game calling.  Aaron Hill is one of the best defensive (and in 2012 the best offensive) second baseman.  Arizona has given the centerfield job to Adam Eaton, after dealing Chris Young to Oakland, and for being a former 19th round selection, he has hit his entire way up and shows the ability to work a count draw walks.  Eaton has well above-average speed and can play a good centerfield.

With Gregorious, the Diamondbacks have quite a few light-hitting shortstops.  With Willie Bloomquist, John McDonald and Cliff Pennington, there is no clear indication who will provide the best bat.  

Some have thought Pennington will be given the starting role and Gregorious will start in the minors to save service time.  Pennington has never been a slugger but is good with the glove so it could be a rather lateral move.

To answer the question above, the answer is no.  The Arizona Diamondbacks did not receive enough for Bauer and it might have been better to try and package him with others in hopes of getting a better return.

There were reported doubts in the Arizona organization about Bauer and his ability to adapt to Major League Baseball but he could have been the guy to win games for them come postseason time.

Other thoughts:

-With the addition of Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols will have protection behind him and we could see him return to his St. Louis form when he put up eight to nine wins a year.  

-I’d like to see the Twins deal Josh Willingham, but not now.  After the All Star game teams will be seeking power and he will supply it.  He could get them a good return.

-It’s a shame to see Anibal Sanchez back in Detroit.  After hearing he was in agreement with Chicago, I was excited to see the direction of the Cubs and it looked like Theo Epstein had gotten a young, reliable starter to lead them through their rebuilding process.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Rotation Death Match

Two National League rotations stand above all others but got there in completely different fashions. The Dodgers purchased skill and depth using their unlimited checkbook while the Nationals have developed their top arms. 

Los Angeles' rotation is built around a true ace, Clayton Kershaw, that they drafted and developed. Around him is a testament to new ownerships resolution to become 'Yankees East': Zack Greinke, Josh Beckett, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Aaron Harang.

Washington took an inverse strategy, poaching only their fifth starter, Dan Haren, off the open market. The front of the rotation is the product of their deep minor league system; Stephen Strasburg, Ross Detwiler and Jordan Zimmermann were first-round picks and Gio Gonzalez was netted by trading prospects.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Price of a Hurler

  • Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard for one good, not great, front-line starter and one back-end starter.
  • $147 million, AAV (average annual value) of $24.5 million, for one good, not great, front-end starter.
  • Middle to back-end starters on the market are getting contracts with AAV of $5-13 million and multiple years.
  • Jeremy Guthrie has been guaranteed 71.4% of the GDP of Tuvalu (it's a country, look it up).
This is the world we're living in. Pitching is scarce.

In this world, two things are certain. First, major league pitching is no longer cheap. A flyer on a veteran now costs millions of dollars. Second, developing young pitching is more valuable than ever. There is no other way of acquiring affordable pitching, whether the cost is players or cash.

When presented with this context, the Twins recent trades of center fielders for starting pitching looks even better. And both moves were widely hailed in the media. 

Going forward, it will be interesting to see what the rest of the market (guys like Ryan Dempster, Anibal Sanchez and Kyle Lohse) will receive. Will demand for starters continue to be a dog fight or eventually diminish? Are all players becoming more valuable or primarily starters? If nothing else, it's certainly something to keep your eye in the remaining months of the off-season.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Revere Out; Pitchers In

On their final day in Nashville for the Winter Meetings, Terry Ryan and Co. were busy making moves. Sandwiched between poaching Ryan Pressly from the Sawx in the Rule 5 draft and extending set-up man Jared Burton, the Twins made their biggest move of the off-season in which Ben Revere was shipped off for starting pitchers, Trevor May and Vance Worley.

I wrote two days ago about the prospect of trading Ben Revere given the bull market for center fielders and the near MLB-ready options available to the Twins. Everyone loves Revere: he's fun to watch, has a shiny batting average and a winning smile. However, Terry Ryan pulled off a shrewd move selling Ben Revere at his peak value.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Kirby Puckett's Throne

Before seeing this tweet via, I figured that the Twins had made their decision on their future in center field - Denard Span was gone, Ben Revere installed. Revere took the role of heir apparent in 2012, filling in at center when necessary but otherwise biding his time in right field and occupying the second slot in the lineup. He played well too; by all accounts, including that of this handsome blogger, he played an excellent defensive outfield and hit then ran well enough to cover his deficiencies in plate discipline and power. And as of 2 hours ago, it looked like the Twins had made room for him by shipping off Span for sorely needed pitching; inducing a passing of the torch in center field.

But then of course Morosi had to come in and pour a bucket of water all over the figurative torch. The Twins may not see Revere as the heir to Kirby Puckett's throne. Before he even gets a chance to seize the position, Revere could be on the way out. Here's the thing: I'm confident this is the right decision.

(click the jump!)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The 'Adios Denard Span' Podcast

Andy and I chat about the implications of the Denard Span trade. You'll notice our Skype connection led to a couple interruptions, we apologize for that; however, luckily for you, the recording sounds excellent and came in at just over 20 minutes.

Podcast Powered By Podbean

You can check out the podcast page for download right here. And make sure to subscribe on iTunes (right lower side of the page).

Saturday, December 1, 2012

New Podcast Options

Up until now, you've had to stay on the site hear our podcast; but starting now, you can take us on the road. We're moving our podcasts over to where you can stream, download or subscribe through RSS or iTunes (both options on the right hand side of the page).

As of this moment, only our first podcast is up, in which we discussed a few free agents. That one was actually for a school project for Andy and it was our first shot, so it might sound a little more formal than the mood I anticipate for future episodes. Our second podcast, in which we discussed pitching options in the market, will be available later this afternoon/night. And a little sneak preview, we're planning on rolling out PD Pod #3 later tonight, reacting to Denard Span trade.

Have a great day, y'all

EDIT: For now, we'll keep posting the podcast episodes here along with a link to our podbean site.