Archive for the ‘Boston Red Sox’ category

Those Dodger Deals

February 11, 2020

The dust has settled, and two of the three big Dodger deals have been completed.  The Bums get Mookie Betts, David Price and half of the $96M still owed to Price in exchange for Alex Verdugo and two prospects, middle infielder Jeter Downs and Connor Wong.  It seems to me like a modest price to pay for one season of Betts and three seasons of Price, particularly when the Dodgers are desperate to win a World Series.

I can’t help but feel that the whole purpose of this move from the Red Sox side of things was to get under the salary cap amount for a year in order to re-load in 2021 or 2022.  Don’t be surprised if the Red Sox are in the running to pay Betts a huge free agent contract next off-season, once the Red Sox have resolved their salary cap issue.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers also traded Kenta Maeda, $10M on Maeda’s remaining contractual guarantee, and 20 year old catching prospect Jair Camargo to the Twins for pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol, corner outfield prospect Luke Raley and the 67th pick in the 2020 draft.  In Graterol and the draft pick, the Dodgers will get some prospects to replace Downs and Wong, and the Twins will get a good major league pitcher for $650,000 a year plus significant bonuses that Maeda earns only if he pitches a lot of innings for the Twins.  Except for the loss of Graterol and the draft pick, it’s almost a no-lose proposition for a Twins team looking to go deep in the play-offs in 2020.

The Red Sox wouldn’t take Graterol despite the obvious talent, because he’s already had one major arm surgery and he’s overweight.  He has closer stuff, however.  Maeda was obviously expendable after the acquisition of Price, and the Dodgers could essentially buy a very good, if not great, draft pick from the Twins with money the Red Sox sent along with Price.  Don’t be surprised if the Dodgers pay half of the money they will owe Price in 2021 and/or 2022 in order to trade him off a year or two from now, when the Dodgers will trying to get under the salary cap for a season before re-loading again.

Reports have it that the Joc PedersonRoss StriplingAndy Pages for Luis Rengifo deal with the Angels has fallen apart, but why exactly no one seems to know.  If the Angels thought the deal would make them better a week ago, I’m not sure why they’d decide against it simply because they had to wait a week for the other Dodger machinations to play out.  Rumors have it that Angels owner Arte Moreno was upset about having this deal put on hold, and it wouldn’t be the first time Moreno has inserted himself into player acquisition issues to the detriment of the team, in that Moreno is supposed to have a major driver of the Albert Pujols deal that turned out to be a disaster for the Halos.

There have also been reports that the Dodgers nixed the Angels deal because the final pieces of the Betts-Price deal were different than expected.  This doesn’t make much sense either, as the Dodgers now have one highly-paid outfielder too many and could assumably still use another young middle infielder.  Maybe the fact that the Dodgers beat Pederson in arbitration, thereby saving $1.75M in 2020, is the reason trading Pederson no longer seemed like a great idea.  The Dodgers may also have realized that throwing in Andy Pages, who had a 1.049 OPS as an 18 year old rookie leaguer in 2019, was too much without a second legitimate prospect from the Angels in return.

All that said, it’s still quite possible that a variation of this deal centered around Pederson and Rengifo goes through before Spring Training starts.

The 2020 Giants Won’t Be Good, But They’ll Be Familiar

February 8, 2020

The SF Giants signed Hunter Pence for a reported $3M plus incentives, and they just brought back Pablo about a week ago.  We’ll see if Hunter has one more year in him, and while I’m not too excited about the Panda, I like the fact that the Gints signed all-around infielder Wilmer Flores for his age 28 and 29 seasons at a total of $6M.

Signing Flores is a good move, but it’s not a great move.  It’s more of a signing I’d expect to see from the Royals or the Marlins.  Makes the Giants just good enough not to lose 100, maybe.

I’m actually hoping the Dodgers complete the Mookie Betts, David Price deal.  Even without them, the 2020 and 2021 Giants aren’t likely to compete with the Dodgers the next two years.  In 2022, David Price will be two years older, and Mookie Betts will be gone or an extremely pricey part of the Dodgers’ salary cap considerations.  It’s a win now, pay later strategy, and the Giants won’t be any good until later.

Best Foreign Pitching Prospects for Taiwan’s CPBL 2020

January 21, 2020

Last off-season I had fun writing a post on the best foreign pitching prospects for Taiwan’s CPBL.  Henry Sosa was the one of many players I name-checked in the article, and I predicted he’d sign with a Mexican League team.

The point is there are so many pitchers available with the right talent level and potentially in the CPBL’s price range that it’s kind of a fool’s errand to try to predict who exactly CPBL teams will sign, unless you are reading reports out of Taiwan in Chinese coming from sources that actually work for one of the CPBL’s four teams.

Nonetheless, it’s still fun to identify some pitchers most MLB fans have never heard of but who still have enough left they could be stars in the CPBL earning at least $150,000 to start if they can last a full season. There were a flurry of foreign pitcher signings in the CPBL last week, but there still appear to be as many as four remaining roster spots available for foreign pitchers as I write this.

Former foreign KBO pitchers are always very popular with CPBL teams.  Christian Friedrich (32 years old in 2020), Joe Wieland (30), Deck McGuire (31), Felix Doubront (32), Pat Dean (31), Ryan Feierabend (34), David Hale (32), Tyler Cloyd (33) and Scott Copeland (32) are all over age-30 former KBOers who are still looking for a contract somewhere.

Christian Friedrich is my favorite as a potential CPBLer.  He hasn’t pitched in the MLB-system since 2017 due to an arm injury.  In 2019, he split the season between the Atlantic League and the KBO and pitcher very well in both places.  He’s not returning to the KBO to start the 2020 season (all the KBO roster spots for foreign pitchers are now filled), and at age 32, he might find it hard to get a call from an MLB organization.

Also, by my calculation Friedrich only earned about $160K last season, which is an amount a CPBL team could easily afford.  Almost all of these pitchers would be a good bet for a CPBL team, so long as any of them are willing to pitch in Taiwan for what the Rakuten Monkeys or the 7/11 Uni-Lions are willing to pay.  The ChinaTrust Brothers and the Fubon Guardians spent big on foreign pitchers this off-season, but their roster spots are now filled.

I like Feierabend too, because as a knuckleballer, he could still potentially pitch for years in the CPBL even though he’s already 34.

Pitchers who pitched well in the Caribbean Winter Leagues are a good bet for CPBL teams.  Teddy Stankiewicz (26) , who pitched well at AAA for the Red Sox last year and in both Mexico and the Dominic Republic this winter, would be a great prospect, but I expect an MLB organization will eventually get around to signing him.  David Kubiak (30) pitched so well in the Dominican Republic this winter, he deserves another shot in the CPBL.

Eric Stout (27), Jason Garcia (27), Justin Nicolino (28), Jake Paulson (28), Giovanni Soto (29), Mitch Lambson (29), Forrest Snow (31), Joe Van Meter (31), Hector Santiago (32) and Mitch Atkins (34) round out a list of pitchers who were good this winter and are still looking for summer 2020 jobs.

CPBL teams like AAA pitchers who have aged out and didn’t quite pitch well enough the previous season to receive a contract for next season.  The current possibilities include Dan Camarena (27), Dillon Overton (28), Tyler J. Alexander (28), Ryan Merritt (28), Parker Bridwell (28), Daniel Corcino (29), Drew Hutchison (29), Dietrich Enns (29), Erasmo Ramirez (30), Kyle Lobstein (30), Seth Maness (31), J.J. Hoover (32), and Logan Ondrusek (35).

I still like Tyler Alexander and Kyle Lobstein, whom I listed last off-season, as potential CPBL pitchers, but any of these pitchers would be good bets.  J.J. Hoover pitched in the Australian Baseball League this winter, which is great back door to the CPBL, because it’s easier and cheaper for CPBL teams to scout players Down Under than in the Americas.  Thomas Dorminy (28) and Rick Teasley (29) are two former CPBL pitchers pitching in Australia this winter, who, I bet, would jump at the chance to pitch in Taiwan again at CPBL salaries, even at the low end.

CPBL teams like Mexican League pitchers too.  Matt Gage (27), Andre Rienzo (31) and Dustin Crenshaw (31) are current Mexican League pitchers who might be available this off-season.

Needless to say, many of the pitchers I’ve listed will get minor league offers between now and the end of Spring Training, or they will elect to pitch in the Atlantic League or the Mexican League in the hopes of working their way back to the MLB system.  Even so, there are lots of options out their for CPBL teams, if they are willing to turn over every stone and kick a few tires.

Yomiuri Giants Sign Veteran Outfielder Gerardo Parra

November 20, 2019

NPB’s Yomiuri Giants today announced the signing of Gerardo Parra for a guaranteed $2 million in 2020, plus $500,000 in performance incentives and a vesting option for a $3M contract for 2021.  The deal is a no-brainer for Parra, who was looking at a minor league contract from any MLB organization in 2020.  It’s a little less clear why Yomiuri is willing to make this significant a commitment to a player about to enter his age 33 season.

This signing definitely feels like a throw-back to 30 or 40 years ago, when NPB teams frequently signed successful MLB veterans at the ends of their careers, hoping they could squeeze another productive season or two out of them in Japan.  In recent years, however, we have seen fewer and fewer or these kinds of signings, as NPB teams now almost always sign players who will be 31 or younger in their first NPB seasons.  NPB teams are fully aware that the foreign players available to them are almost all on the steep decline starting with their age 32 seasons.

The Rakuten Golden Eagles brought in Andruw Jones in 2013 for his age 36 season and Kevin Youkilis in 2014 for his age 35 season, but these are the exceptions rather than the rule.  The Yomiuri Giants got two strong seasons from Casey McGehee, starting with his age 34 season in 2017, but McGehee had already proven his NPB chops with a strong season for Rakuten at age 30 before returning to MLB for three seasons.

Parra has been a below MLB replacement level offensive player in three of the last four seasons.  He’ll add some power in Japan, at least if he’s fully healthy, but it is as yet unknown just how much.  His outfield defense is still good, but he’s going to be expected to hit to hold a job in NPB, particularly where teams like Yomiuri maintain a surplus of foreign players good enough to play regularly in the NPB majors just in case someone holding one of the four foreign player major league roster spots gets hurt or struggles to perform well.

Is It Worth Tanking to Improve Your MLB Draft Position?

September 25, 2019

My team, the SF Giants, are currently in line to get either the 13th or 14th pick in the 2020 June Draft.  Gints fans will remember that the team made deals at the trade deadline, but they were kind of push.  The team sold on a couple of relievers, but also made trades designed to help the team going forward in 2019.  The Gints still had an outside shot at making the play-offs at the trade deadline, and they play in a market large enough to make total rebuilds relatively expensive.

Is it worth tanking, at least once the team has realized it has no reasonable chance of making the post-season, in order to get a higher selection in the next MLB draft?

I looked at the first twelve draft picks from the June drafts starting with 1987 (the first year the June draft was the only MLB amateur draft conducted for the year) through 2009 (which is long enough ago that we should now know whether the players drafted were major league success stories).  Suffice it say, with the first 12 draft picks of each June draft, the team imagines it has drafted a future major league star in compensation for sucking ass the previous season.

In order to keep things simple, I used baseball reference’s career WAR totals to determine whether each drafted player was a major league success.  Not precise, I’ll admit, since what drafting teams really care about is the first six-plus major league seasons of control.  However, I don’t know how to create a computer program to figure out the years-of-control WAR for each drafted player, and I’m not sure I’d be willing to spend the time to do so even if I knew how.  Career WAR seems a close enough approximation.

Also, for purposes of my study, no player is considered to have lower than a 0 career WAR — you cannot convince me that a drafted player who never reaches the majors is worth more than a drafted player who played in the majors but had a negative career WAR.  A player reaches and plays in the majors 9 times out of 10 because he is the best player available at that moment to take the available roster spot.  The tenth time, he is worth trying to develop as a major league player because of his potential upside.

As a result, I did not bother with averages.  Instead, I looked at median performances (i.e., for the 23 players picked at each of the first 12 draft slots during the relevant period, 11 players had a higher career WAR and 11 players had a lower career WAR than the median player.

Also, if a player was drafted more than once in the top 12, because he didn’t sign the first time drafted, I still counted him as his career WAR for each time he was drafted.

Here we go:

1st Overall Pick.  Median player:  Ben McDonald (1989, 20.8 Career WAR).  Best Players drafted with the No. 1 pick: Alex Rodriguez (1993, 117.8 career WAR); Chipper Jones (1990, 85.3 WAR); Ken Griffey, Jr. (1987, 83.8 WAR).  Odds of drafting a 15+ WAR player = 61%.  [Examples of 15+ WAR players are Mike Lieberthal (15.3 WAR); Gavin Floyd (15.6 WAR); Eric Hosmer (15.7+ WAR); and Phil Nevin (15.9 WAR).]  Odds of drafting a 10+ WAR player = 65%.  [Examples of 10+ WAR players are Rocco Baldelli (10.2 WAR); Shawn Estes (10.4 WAR); Todd Walker (10.5 WAR)  ; and Doug Glanville (10.9 WAR).]  Odds of drafting a 5+ WAR player = 70%.  [Examples of 5+ WAR players are John Patterson (5.0 WAR); Mike Pelfrey (5.3 WAR); Billy Koch (5.4 WAR); and Sean Burroughs (5.5 WAR).]

2nd Overall Pick.  Median player: Dustin Ackley (2009, 8.1 WAR).  Best Players drafted with the No. 2 pick: Justin Verlander (2004, 70.8+ WAR); J.D. Drew (1997, 44.9 WAR).  Odds of drafting a 15+ WAR player = 35%.  Odds of drafting a 10+ WAR player = 43%.  Odds of drafting a 5+ WAR player = 70%.

3rd Overall Pick.  Median player:  Philip Humber (2004, 0.9 WAR).  Best Players drafted at No. 3: Evan Longoria (2006, 54.2+ WAR); Troy Glaus (1997, 38.0 WAR).  15+ WAR player = 22%10+ WAR player = 35%5+ WAR player = 43%.

4th Overall Pick.  Median player: Tim Stauffer (2003, 3.8 WAR).  Best Players drafted at No. 4: Ryan Zimmerman (2005, 37.7+ WAR); Alex Fernandez (1990, 28.4 WAR).  15+ WAR player = 17%10+ WAR player = 26%5+ WAR player = 39%.

5th Overall Pick.  Median player: zero value.  Best players drafted at No. 5: Mark Teixeira (2001, 51.8 WAR); Ryan Braun (2005, 47.7+ WAR).  15+ WAR player = 30%10+ WAR player = 35%5+ WAR player = 39%.

6th Overall Pick.  Median player: zero value.  Best players drafted at No. 6: Derek Jeter (1992, 72.6 WAR); Zack Greinke (2002, 71.3+ WAR).  15+ WAR player = 9%10+ WAR player = 13%5+ WAR player = 26%.

7th Overall Pick.  Median player: Calvin Murray (1992, 2.1 WAR).  Best players drafted at No. 7: Frank Thomas (1989, 73.9 WAR); Clayton Kershaw (2006, 67.6+ WAR).  15+ WAR player = 30%10+ WAR player = 39%5+ WAR player = 48%.

8th Overall Pick.  Median player: zero value.  Best players drafted at No. 8: Todd Helton (1995, 61.2 WAR); Jim Abbott (1988, 19.6 WAR).  15+ WAR player = 13%10+ WAR player = 26%5+ WAR player = 39%.

9th Overall Pick.  Median player: Aaron Crow (2008, 2.6 WAR).  Best players drafted at No. 9:  Kevin Appier (1987, 54.5 WAR); Barry Zito (1999, 31.9 WAR).  15+ WAR player = 26%10+ WAR player = 26%5+ WAR player = 48%.

10th Overall Pick.  Median player: Michael Tucker (1992, 8.1 WAR).  Best players drafted at No. 10: Robin Ventura (1988, 56.1 WAR); Eric Chavez (1996, 37.5 WAR).  15+ WAR player = 39%10+ WAR player = 48%5+ WAR player = 52%.

11th Overall Pick.  Median player: Lee Tinsley (1987, 1.7 WAR).  Best players drafted at No. 11: Max Scherzer (2006, 60.5+ WAR); Andrew McCutchen (2005, 43.6+ WAR).  15+ WAR player = 13%10+ WAR player = 17%5+ WAR player = 22%.

12th Overall Pick.  Median player: Bobby Seay (1996, 3.0 WAR).  Best players drafted at No. 12: Nomar Garciaparra (1994, 44.2 WAR); Jared Weaver (2004, 34.4 WAR).  15+ WAR player = 26%10+ WAR player = 39%5+ WAR player = 48%.

What do I conclude from all of the above number-crunching and name-dropping (and my cursory review of the Nos. 13-15 draft picks during the relevant period)?  It’s worth tanking to get the first or second pick in the June Draft or to get one of the top ten picks.  Since teams bad enough at the trade deadline to have a reasonable shot to get the No. 1 or 2 picks will be tanking no matter what, the only real lesson is that teams that have the 11th to 15th worst record in MLB approaching the trade deadline and realize they have no reasonable shot to make the post-season should SELL, SELL, SELL in order to get one of the top ten draft picks the next June.

The second lesson I take from my study is that teams should ALWAYS draft the player they think to be the best available/remaining if they have a top 12 or 15 draft pick and PAY what it takes to sign the player, unless the potential draftee has made it clear he will not sign with the team under any circumstances.  After the two best players in any given draft, there is too much uncertainty for teams not to draft the player they think is the best available.  Drafting a player the team thinks is a lesser player in order to save $2 million to throw at a high school player drafted in the 11th round is going to be a bad decision in most cases, particularly in the current regime where teams get a finite budget to sign their first ten draft picks, and the draftees know the cap amounts.

I see no obvious difference in the results for the third through tenth rounds, because, I assume, after the first two consensus best players in any given draft, teams have different opinions about the merits of the next, larger group of potential draftees, to the point where it more or less becomes a crap shoot.  After the first two rounds, and with the notable exception of the 10th round, the median player drafted with the third through 12th pick isn’t really worth a damn, and the odds of selecting a 15+ WAR player, a true star, are considerably less than one in three.

As a final note, I don’t like the fact that post-trade-deadline waiver deals can no longer be made.  I don’t see the downside in allowing losing teams to dump their over-paid veterans after the trade deadline (but before the Sept. 1st play-off eligibility deadline) in exchange for some, usually limited, salary relief and prospects, while play-off bound teams get to add veterans so they can put the best possible team on the field come play-off time.  I hope MLB can find a way for these deals to resume in the future.

Is Adam Wainwright a Hall of Famer?

September 24, 2019

I saw a post on mlbtraderumors.com today about Adam Wainwright earning all or most of the performance incentives ($8M, compared to only $2M guaranteed).  I looked at Wainwright’s career stats, and it got me thinking about his Hall of Fame chances.

Wainwright is currently 161-94 for his career, giving him a terrific .631 career winning percentage.  He’s never won a Cy Young Award, but he’s finished 2nd or 3rd four times (2009, 2010, 2013 and 2014).  He’s earned one World Series ring (he didn’t pitch in the 2011 Cardinals Championship season as he was recovering from Tommy John surgery) and played on two pennant winners.

Wainwright led his league in wins twice (with 19 in each of 2009 and 2013) and won 20 in a third season, he led the Senior Circuit in innings pitched twice, in shutouts twice and complete games once.  He struck out at least 200 in a season three times.

Wainwright’s strong 2019 campaign means it’s likely he’ll pitch in 2020.  I wouldn’t put it past him to still be pitching in 2022, his age 40 season.  It does not hurt his chances that he will be remembered as one of the best hitting pitchers of his era.

In my mind, 191 wins is the magic number for starting pitchers who started their careers after 2000, at least so long as they have a career winning percentage over .600.  It’s no guarantee that Wainwright will reach 191 wins, but if he reaches 175, his career is going to look pretty good to Hall of Fame voters between 2025 and 2040.

Right now, I would put Wainwright on the bubble.  His chances are certainly a lot better than Tim Lincecum or Jake Peavy, both of whom have at least some arguments in their favor as HOFers.

Pablo Sandoval’s Major League Career Likely Over

August 25, 2019

It was announced today that Pablo Sandoval will be undergoing Tommy John surgery in early September.  I hope Pablo has saved some money from that ginormous contract the Red Sox gave him five years ago, because his major league career is likely over.

Pablo turned 33 about two weeks ago, so it’s unlikely he’ll recover sufficiently to play again before the 2020 winter baseball season.  It definitely takes longer for players Pablo’s age to recover from elbow ligament replacement surgery than it does for players still in their 20’s, and in any event it almost always takes at least a full year.

Losing a year’s playing time at Pablo’s age usually is a career death sentence regardless of the cause, particularly for position players.  If government relations with Venezuela have improved enough a year from now, Pablo could assumably try to make a come-back in the Venezuelan Winter League in late 2020 or he could try playing in the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico, but anyway I’m highly doubtful that Pablo will play well enough to interest a major league team for 2021.  Add to that the fact that Pablo’s waistline is likely to be considerably bigger by March 2021 if he isn’t able to play baseball regularly.

Pablo had his career, made his money, lived the good life, and won some World Series rings.  He was at times or at least in his best moments a great player.  If Pablo’s career is over, I won’t feel too sorry for him.  You have to figure that if it hadn’t been his elbow tendon, it probably would have been his knee or his back that gave out at some time between now and the end of the 2020 season.