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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Madden: Moves by Rays, Athletics make them hot stove winners with Yankees

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The additions of Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran more than offset the loss of Robinson Cano from the lineup — assuming they all stay healthy — and, if nothing else, thrust the Yankees into the winter “winners” category as one of the clubs that did the most to improve themselves. Problem with the Yankees was they had a whole lot more improving to do than most of their rivals, and even with their Tanaka-McCann-Ellsbury-Beltran booty, they remain a team with major question marks at all four infield positions, the bullpen and still the starting rotation, unless you really believe Tanaka is going to step right in and pitch like a $155 million ace.

...The Red Sox, seemingly resting on their laurels from last year’s smashing offseason, lost one of their most important players, Jacoby Ellsbury, along with Drew and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia to free agency and so far have signed only creaky-kneed Grady Sizemore as a hoped-for platoon center fielder. However, we’re still betting Drew goes back to them on a two-year deal. The Orioles, who badly need starting pitching, a closer and another bat, have done nothing this winter other than back out of deals with players failing physicals. After Baltimore did just that with Balfour and then outfielder Tyler Colvin last week, why would any free agent dare to engage the Orioles? The Blue Jays, despite having the worst starting pitching in baseball last year, were not in on Tanaka and have been curiously passive with all the other free agent starters.

The Cubs kept their bankroll in their pockets all winter, anticipating they would win the Tanaka sweepstakes, and now that they’re left empty-handed, their Opening Day starter, Jeff Samardzija, is again expressing a reluctance to sign long-term with them. Wrigley Field attendance has been gradually declining with each succeeding last-place season — to a 15-year low of 2.6 million last year — and now figures to drop even lower in 2014. As for the Reds, whose most notable offseason acquisition has been utilityman Skip Schumaker, it’s a wonder if maybe they’re feeling choked by the $225 million Joey Votto contract, just as they were years back by Ken Griffey Jr.’s. How else to explain not even making Arroyo, the most durable starter in baseball over the last decade, a qualifying offer?

Repoz Posted: January 26, 2014 at 10:50 AM | 29 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mlb

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   1. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: January 26, 2014 at 11:30 AM (#4646431)
I guess I don't understand why the Yanks wouldn't go all out for Drew at this point now that they have blown the 189 plan up. Sign him, slot him in at 3rd, put Johnson and second and you have the makings of an acceptable infield.
   2. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 26, 2014 at 12:07 PM (#4646441)
I guess I don't understand why the Yanks wouldn't go all out for Drew at this point now that they have blown the 189 plan up. Sign him, slot him in at 3rd, put Johnson and second and you have the makings of an acceptable infield.

Maybe Drew's holding out for a starting SS gig?
   3. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 26, 2014 at 12:17 PM (#4646445)
I guess I don't understand why the Yanks wouldn't go all out for Drew at this point now that they have blown the 189 plan up.


They're probably at something like $208M with roster filler and benefits. If Jeter and Teixeira come up lame again and they're in last place in June, they could theoretically still get under $189 by trading Kuroda, Gardner, Ichiro, Soriano, Kelley, and Thornton before the deadline, assuming that they didn't have to eat too much salary in those deals. Those guys are costing New York around $38M and aside from Suzuki, are on pretty fair deals. Shedding half of that salary gets them pretty close.

Maybe Drew's holding out for a starting SS gig?


There have been reports that Drew's agent says he'll play other positions.
   4. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: January 26, 2014 at 12:25 PM (#4646448)
I guess I don't understand why the Yanks wouldn't go all out for Drew at this point now that they have blown the 189 plan up.

There's still a tangible, albeit small difference between paying a 40% penalty on $20M versus $30-32M.
   5. KronicFatigue Posted: January 26, 2014 at 12:29 PM (#4646449)
There are only two ways you can trade Ichiro: Eat money or package him with a cost effective player. I can't imagine a "buyer" needing both Gardner and Ichiro. Plus, the PR hit from a firesale would be worse than if they started the season "rebuilding".

They're going to sign Drew. It's rare that someone who costs as little as Drew (relatively speaking) happens to fit such a hole so perfectly. Yankees have question marks in three positions and he fits all of them!
   6. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 26, 2014 at 12:37 PM (#4646451)
There's still a tangible, albeit small difference between paying a 40% penalty on $20M versus $30-32M.


They're paying 50%.

There are only two ways you can trade Ichiro: Eat money or package him with a cost effective player.


There are reports that they're trying to dump Ichiro now. Presumably more because they don't really have a role for him than to save a third or so of his $6.5M salary.
   7. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 26, 2014 at 12:57 PM (#4646458)
I feel like the A's just are just struggled to stay level this offseason and became more expensive in the process. Not sure how that makes them a hot stove winner. They improved on their 4th outfielder and Punto is an upgrade for utility infielder. Maybe added a touch of depth to the pen. The gains are just on the margins, though.
   8. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: January 26, 2014 at 01:11 PM (#4646468)
I feel like the A's just are just struggled to stay level this offseason and became more expensive in the process. Not sure how that makes them a hot stove winner. They improved on their 4th outfielder and Punto is an upgrade for utility infielder. Maybe added a touch of depth to the pen. The gains are just on the margins, though.

It's all relative, Shooty. When your club is coming off of another division title and 96 wins, making incremental improvements while not suffering the Red Sox's personnel losses should qualify for "hot stove winner" consideration.
   9. KT's Pot Arb Posted: January 26, 2014 at 02:22 PM (#4646481)
Can't see how Yankees are hot stove winners.

Lose their best position player (7.6 WAR) in free agency.

Pay a ton of money to sign a marginally better center fielder so they can cut the playing time of their second best position player (4.2 WAR) or play him in a sub-optimal defensive position.

Spend a bunch more for an aging outfielder who despite his good bat is now a poor defender and will clog up your DH spot even more.

Do nothing to address huge holes at second/3rd.

Signing Tanaka should fill a huge hole in the short run, no matter how awful the contract/option is guaranteed to turn out in the end. But does that make the off season a positive? I see a net loss of effective WAR.
   10. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: January 26, 2014 at 02:38 PM (#4646486)
9-I think you're forgetting about the McCann signing which probably swings them to a marginal net gain. But yeah, this hasn't been a especially great offseason for the bombers.
   11. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: January 26, 2014 at 02:38 PM (#4646487)
...The Red Sox, seemingly resting on their laurels from last year’s smashing offseason...


At no point were the Red Sox every going to pay Ellsbury more than $20 million a year, or any amount of money for seven years. Honestly, for the price the Yankees just paid for Ellsbury, the Red Sox can pay Lester a long-term extension, play Bradley, Jr. in CF, and still have money left over. Then, they let Drew go, pick up a draft pick, play Bogaerts every day at SS, and save another $12-$14m a year. Then, they let Salty walk, get a one-year replacement, and have two very good catching prospects ready to compete for the catching job in 2015 (Swihart and Vazquez).

There is a difference between "resting on their laurels" and "having a legit plan that doesn't involve overpaying for free agents".
   12. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: January 26, 2014 at 02:39 PM (#4646488)
I feel like the A's just are just struggled to stay level this offseason and became more expensive in the process. Not sure how that makes them a hot stove winner. They improved on their 4th outfielder and Punto is an upgrade for utility infielder. Maybe added a touch of depth to the pen. The gains are just on the margins, though.

Addison Russell got another year closer to the big leagues. WIN.
   13. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 26, 2014 at 02:45 PM (#4646489)
The 2013 Yankees got less than 1 WAR each from C, DH, and two of the three OF positions. Adding two above average OFers and an above average C just might be a slightly bigger upgrade than you're giving it credit for. Also, Beltran has managed 600 PA each of the last three years playing in the non-DH league, and given that NYY DH's put up a combined 189/276/307 line last season, clogging up the DH position is probably not something they're losing a lot of sleep over.

EDIT: Of course, none of that is really a defense of Madden's characterization of the Yankees as hot-stove "winners." It's just to point out that despite the fact that there are very legitimate criticisms of all of their off-season moves, these signings in total still are likely to make the Yankees a considerably better team than they were last year.
   14. cardsfanboy Posted: January 26, 2014 at 02:54 PM (#4646492)
There is a difference between "resting on their laurels" and "having a legit plan that doesn't involve overpaying for free agents".


Agree, leading the league in wins, means you probably don't have much room to make improvements. Panic moves due to the loss of one player isn't the answer. I think that there is a very real possibility that the teams that lead the league in wins last year will repeat that feat.

I'm somewhat surprised that the article didn't even mention the Cardinals. They had a gaping hole at shortstop and plugged it, improved defense by getting rid of Freese, moving Carpenter to third and giving Wong the everyday job at second with Ellis ready to jump in if there is still a learning curve needed by Wong. The outfield defense was going to be improved even if they didn't replace Jay, as Jay is a better defender than what he was last year, but instead they added an elite defender at centerfield with Bourjos. They are still suspect defensively on the corners with Holliday(lf), Craig(rf) and Adams(1b) getting the majority of the play there, but their bats should compensate for that. Rotation wise a full season out of Wacha, Wainwright, Miller, Kelly, with Lynn, Rosenthal, and Martinez vying for the last spot should be a pretty impressive pitching staff.

Of course the article is massively AL tilt, only NL team mentioned was the Mets, Cubs and the Reds.
   15. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 26, 2014 at 03:14 PM (#4646499)
I'm somewhat surprised that the article didn't even mention the Cardinals.


Really? Did you notice the byline? You're surprised that Bill Madden would gloss over large swaths of the MLB landscape?
   16. Dale Sams Posted: January 26, 2014 at 03:19 PM (#4646502)
At no point were the Red Sox every going to pay Ellsbury more than $20 million a year, or any amount of money for seven years. Honestly, for the price the Yankees just paid for Ellsbury, the Red Sox can pay Lester a long-term extension, play Bradley, Jr. in CF, and still have money left over. Then, they let Drew go, pick up a draft pick, play Bogaerts every day at SS, and save another $12-$14m a year. Then, they let Salty walk, get a one-year replacement, and have two very good catching prospects ready to compete for the catching job in 2015 (Swihart and Vazquez).

There is a difference between "resting on their laurels" and "having a legit plan that doesn't involve overpaying for free agents".


No argument about Ellsbury. But trading out Salty for a 37 year old worse player? Letting Drew walk when he can easily be afforded? Overpaying for free agents is an advantage the Sox have over other teams. Bradley, WMB and Bogaerts all posted OPS+'s under 88 last year. I have no faith that WMB can stick. I'm sure Bogaerts will be fine, but would rather have him at third while Drew does his thing at SS.

But I'm just nitpicking. I just don't think it's a good idea to let Drew leave and replace Salty with AJ.
   17. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 26, 2014 at 03:26 PM (#4646504)
Letting Drew walk when he can easily be afforded?


He hasn't walked yet.
   18. Dale Sams Posted: January 26, 2014 at 03:34 PM (#4646507)
He hasn't walked yet.


I don't think the Sox even have room on the 25 man *right now* unless they went with one less BP pitcher. That's not even counting the possibility that both Sizemore and Bradley do well in camp.
   19. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: January 26, 2014 at 03:34 PM (#4646508)
But I'm just nitpicking. I just don't think it's a good idea to let Drew leave and replace Salty with AJ.

For next season, I would agree. But giving Salty and Drew 3 year contracts, or however long it would take to sign them, makes them a much worse team in 2015/16.

And signing big FA's isn't the only way to leverage your financial advantage. They can take on salary dumps during the year to fill holes. Payroll flexibility is a good thing. And they can extend their own prospects to long term deals, while they are still young, and get a better ratio of prime years to junk years in those deals.
   20. JJ1986 Posted: January 26, 2014 at 03:38 PM (#4646509)
I don't think the Sox even have room on the 25 man *right now* unless they went with one less BP pitcher.


They could plan to option Middlebrooks if they sign Drew.
   21. TerpNats Posted: January 26, 2014 at 04:33 PM (#4646517)
Acquiring Fister for minimal cost and signing McLouth to boost what had been a weak bench should make the Nationals one of the winners.
   22. buddaley Posted: January 26, 2014 at 05:51 PM (#4646536)
"But trading out Salty for a 37 year old worse player?" (Dale Sams)

I think this is debatable. It is true that Saltalamacchia is much younger, but so far there is no evidence that Pierzynski's age has hurt his performance. In fact, while Salty has had 386, 448, 470 PAs the past 3 years, Pierzynski has had 500 or more PAs for 11 consecutive years (ok, he had 497 once in that span) and 500, 520, 529 the past 3. And his numbers the past 3 years are as good or better than ever.

Saltalamacchia probably has more power, although again, Pierzynski has hit more homers the last 2 years. That may be due to being in Texas, and his power will probably be diminished in Fenway. Still, their offensive production has been reasonably close whether using batting lines, OPS+ or WAR. I don't think either has a particularly strong defensive reputation. Their dWAR on BB-Ref is pretty close over the last 3 years.

It is entirely possible that Pierzynski will perform just as well as Saltalamacchia in 2014 and that the one year commitment to Pierzynski will serve Boston just as well or better as a bridge to a more long term solution to catching than giving 3 years to Saltalamacchia would have.
   23. KT's Pot Arb Posted: January 26, 2014 at 07:58 PM (#4646555)
The 2013 Yankees got less than 1 WAR each from C, DH, and two of the three OF positions. Adding two above average OFers and an above average C just might be a slightly bigger upgrade than you're giving it credit for. Also, Beltran has managed 600 PA each of the last three years playing in the non-DH league, and given that NYY DH's put up a combined 189/276/307 line last season, clogging up the DH position is probably not something they're losing a lot of sleep over.


these are good points, i totally forgot McCann which filled a very real need. But DH was already going to be clogged more with Texiera and McCann, and a strong defensive shortstop to rest Jeter before Beltran.

I just like Yankees offseason better if it's Beltran/Cano/Tanaka/McCann
   24. Brian Posted: January 26, 2014 at 09:19 PM (#4646571)
The only way the Yankees can win the Winter is if they can get Jeter to move to 3B and play Ryan at SS (Or sign Drew, but I'm fine with Ryan as his defense would be such a change). Unfortunately, that is not happening.
   25. Select Storage Device Posted: January 26, 2014 at 11:53 PM (#4646600)
This is a Rays off-season on Adderall. Typical, but expertly shrewd mixed with some over-zealousness.

I love it.

   26. Select Storage Device Posted: January 26, 2014 at 11:54 PM (#4646601)
The only way the Yankees can win the Winter is if they can get Jeter to move to 3B and play Ryan at SS (Or sign Drew, but I'm fine with Ryan as his defense would be such a change). Unfortunately, that is not happening.


Does BBREF track Winter Wins?
   27. GregD Posted: January 27, 2014 at 12:01 AM (#4646603)
Does BBREF track Winter Wins?
Yes, right alongside Winter Pythagorean Wins, just to square the count
   28. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 27, 2014 at 12:08 AM (#4646604)
That Tanaka picture makes him look like he throws like my sister.

I'm somewhat surprised that the article didn't even mention the Cardinals.


I like their moves, but adding Peralta, Ellis and Bourjos and losing Beltran and WS HERO David Freese is going to be seen by MSM writers as a net loss. Don't expect any more nuance or deeper analysis than that from Bill Madden.

   29. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: January 27, 2014 at 10:04 AM (#4646658)
I started reading this thinking it has been written by Joe Maddon. I was surprised at his candor.

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