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— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Devil Rays - Alomar, Bautista Retired, Sanchez Signed

Tampa Bay Devil Rays - Announced the retirements of 2B Roberto Alomar and OF Danny Bautista; signed OF Alex Sanchez.

Nice work as always, Chuck LaMar.  Fortune smiles upon you, giving you an out easy out from two stupid offseason signings, Roberto Alomar and Danny Bautista, and it takes you about half an hour to mess up half of that.  The Devil Rays sign Sanchez, cancelling out the relief from Bautista’s “retirement.”  Jonny Gomes is certainly about 5 times the player Alex Sanchez is, as was Matt Diaz.  Heck, Joey Gathright or even Damon Hollins are better players than Sanchez.  Nice job, Chucky boy.

Amazingly enough, the Devil Rays are lucky in one sense that LaMar is both stupid and comically inept; Jorge Cantu may actually start the season at 2nd if for no reason other than LaMar being too hapless to get his hands on a player he erroneously thinks is better than Cantu.

Dan Szymborski Posted: March 19, 2005 at 11:52 PM | 49 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Sean Sweda Posted: March 20, 2005 at 12:59 AM (#1207399)
Anyone else think the Danny Bautista "retirement" (at 32) is rather odd?
   2. Brandon in MO (Yunitility Infielder) Posted: March 20, 2005 at 12:59 AM (#1207401)
Posted by Jose Lind on March 19, 2005 at 05:28 PM (#1342134)
Sure I'd listen if Tampa Bay called
   3. Kyle S Posted: March 20, 2005 at 01:09 AM (#1207404)
Is there any evidence that Alomar was actually going to start over Cantu (other than whatever idiotic things they said at the press conference announcing the signing)? Given how he played both at AAA and especially up with the rays, I can't believe they would be that stupid.
   4. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: March 20, 2005 at 01:40 AM (#1207432)
Alomar retiring is understandable, but I don't understand why Bautista would walk away from $1.9M. I mean, sure spending a year in Tampa Bay would be miserable, but that's a large chunk of change. I suspect that there's something going on here that we're not privy to...
   5. Sean Sweda Posted: March 20, 2005 at 01:49 AM (#1207447)
How much of that $1.9 million is Bautista giving up by retiring? Theoretically, Tampa could cut him before 3/30 and only owe him 45 days termination pay, right?
   6. pv nasby Posted: March 20, 2005 at 02:18 AM (#1207498)
Who's going to run the Keltner test on Bautista?
   7. H. Vaughn Posted: March 20, 2005 at 02:40 AM (#1207543)
1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? HAHAHAHA Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball? HAHAHAHA

2. Was he the best player on his team? HAHAHAHA

3. Was he the best player in baseball at his position? HAHAHAHA Was he the best player in the league at his position? HAHAHAHA

4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races? HAHAHAHA

5. Was he good enough that he could play regularly after passing his prime? HAHAHAHA

6. Is he the very best baseball player in history who is not in the Hall of Fame? HAHAHAHA

7. Are most players who have comparable statistics in the Hall of Fame? HAHAHAHA

8. Do the player's numbers meet Hall of Fame standards? HAHAHAHA

9. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics? HAHAHAHA

10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame? HAHAHAHA

11. How many MVP-type seasons did he have? ZERO Did he ever win an MVP award? HAHAHAHAIf not, how many times was he close? HAHAHAHA

12. How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? ZERO How many All-Star games did he play in? HAHAHAHA Did most of the players who played in this many All-Star games go into the Hall of Fame? HAHAHAHA

13. If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant? HAHAHAHA

14. What impact did the player have on baseball history? HAHAHAHA Was he responsible for any rule changes? HAHAHAHA Did he introduce any new equipment? HAHAHAHA Did he change the game in any way? HAHAHAHA

15. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider? HAHAHAHA
   8. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: March 20, 2005 at 02:44 AM (#1207553)
Yeah, but everyone knows you're a small Hall guy.
   9. Quinton McCracken's BFF Posted: March 20, 2005 at 02:57 AM (#1207583)
11. How many MVP-type seasons did he have?

5 Top 10's:
(YrLg-Rk-Shr)
1991-AL-6th
1992-AL-6th
1993-AL-6th
1996-AL-20th
1997-AL-22th
1999-AL-3rd
2001-AL-4th
   10. Mike Emeigh Posted: March 20, 2005 at 03:05 AM (#1207603)
Jonny Gomes is certainly about 5 times the player Alex Sanchez is, as was Matt Diaz

This is an overstatement, to say the least. As I have pointed out before, there have been a fair number of players who have hit well in Durham but who haven't hit nearly that well in the majors, and you have to discount those stats accordingly.

Gomes hit .249/.348/.441 in 2003 at Orlando, with 53 walks and 148 strikeouts in ~500 PAs. If you looked at just that performance, you'd conclude that he wasn't much of a prospect. The only real difference between that performance and his 2004 season in Durham was that he added 11 home runs, in a ballpark that is very similar to Fenway in left field. Why would you think that this makes him an outstanding prospect?

Matt Diaz, in 2002 at Orlando, hit .274/.337/.408, with 34 walks and 72 strikeouts in ~500 PAs. Again, you look at that performance and think we're not talking about much of a prospect. He repeats AA at age 25, smokes the league in 60 games, then jumps to Durham - where again, except for adding some home runs, the shape of his performance isn't a whole lot different than it was at Orlando a year earlier. But his numbers LOOK a lot better, and now he's suddenly this hot prospect.

The classic example of what happens to a player at Durham is Toby Hall. Hall, in 1999, hit .254/.277/.451 at Orlando after a .297/.354/.425 performance in the FSL. Like Diaz, he repeated AA in 2000, and smoked the league in his second go-round, then was moved to AAA. In 2001 at Durham, the shape of his performance, again, wasn't much different than his lower league numbers, except for adding home runs. In the majors so far, he's hit .260/.299/.384 - and that's about what you might have expected if you'd looked at his minor league career without looking at what he did in Durham.

Gomes and Diaz are not that good. Their reputations are inflated because of their Durham numbers.

-- MWE
   11. Dan Szymborski Posted: March 20, 2005 at 03:27 AM (#1207643)
Mike,

I really, really dislike Alex Sanchez.
   12. "Catching Dianetics" by Dr. L. Ron Karkovice Posted: March 20, 2005 at 03:45 AM (#1207668)
WOW....That's a pretty fast decline faze for Alomar at a pretty young age....I'll just assume it was the heavy steroid use!
   13. charlie Posted: March 20, 2005 at 03:48 AM (#1207673)
I don't suppose it's possible to say exactly what percentage of veterans finish their major league careers in Tampa Bay, but it's got to be a really large number compared to other teams. I think the last three years have included Alomar, Bautista, Al Martin, Terry Shumpert, George Lombard, Steve Parris, John Rocker, Fred McGriff, Randall Simon and Todd Ritchie (who just retired from Pirates camp). The list may also include Geoff Blum, Brook Fordyce, Midre Cummings, Charles Gipson, and Damian Moss - I'm not sure of those players' whereabouts, though Moss is probably in camp somewhere. There may be others who went to camp with the D-Rays but never played for them.

Greg Vaughn, Rey Ordonez, Jeff Liefer, Mike Venafro, and Damion Easley caught on with other teams for a very short time before hanging them up.
   14. Jim Wisinski Posted: March 20, 2005 at 04:35 AM (#1207747)
Is there any evidence that Alomar was actually going to start over Cantu (other than whatever idiotic things they said at the press conference announcing the signing)? Given how he played both at AAA and especially up with the rays, I can't believe they would be that stupid.

Yes, it was the stated plan ever since he was signed that Alomar would start at 2B and Cantu would be the utility infielder. That began to be called into question by the wide disparities in performance and health during the spring, culminating in Alomar retirng.

According to the article on the official Rays site Bautista has been dealing with ankle pain all offseason and spring and decided he'd rather retire than deal with it this season. If this is accurate I'm assuming that it's because he knows that he'd only have a half-season as a starter then be a backup for the remainder of his career even if he decided to keep playing.
   15. charlie Posted: March 20, 2005 at 04:46 AM (#1207768)
Actually, Venafro seems to be in camp with the Dodgers.
   16. Eugene Freedman Posted: March 20, 2005 at 04:53 AM (#1207783)
charlie-

Add Wade Boggs to the list. Actually, put him first on the list.
   17. Eugene Freedman Posted: March 20, 2005 at 04:59 AM (#1207801)
Explain how Sanchez is better or cheaper than Joey Gaithright.
   18. baudib Posted: March 20, 2005 at 05:04 AM (#1207816)
I would love to see a Crawford/Gathright/Young outfield to start the season.

But I'm kinda rooting for Alex Sanchez, so I'm glad he got picked up.
   19. Robert S. Posted: March 20, 2005 at 05:45 AM (#1207938)
As the man who probably hated Danny Bautista more than anyone else alive I'm glad to see him go. I only pray that he won't try his comeback with Arizona.
   20. mr. man Posted: March 20, 2005 at 06:02 AM (#1207956)
i would at least say bautista was one of the best "right-handed side of a corner outfield platoon" in the majors for a couple years.
   21. baudib Posted: March 20, 2005 at 06:05 AM (#1207962)
Best RH platoon players in history:

Joe Harris
Hank Bauer (not really a platoon player)
Gary Roenicke



ummmm???????? Benny Ayala? Garth Iorg?????
   22. Gavvy's Cravat Posted: March 20, 2005 at 06:21 AM (#1207976)
Isn't it the American dream to move to Florida and retire?
   23. John Lowenstein Apathy Club Posted: March 20, 2005 at 06:54 AM (#1208009)
Gomes hit .249/.348/.441 in 2003 at Orlando, with 53 walks and 148 strikeouts in ~500 PAs... Why would you think that this makes him an outstanding prospect?

Because the year before that, he hit for more power than any other player in the minor leagues. Much more power. Josh Phelps was second, and Gomes was way ahead of Phelps.

That doesn't make Gomes an "outstanding" prospect, but he's definitely a worthwhile prospect. Is Alex Sanchez likely to be on the next contending Devil Rays team?
   24. Quinton McCracken's BFF Posted: March 20, 2005 at 09:29 AM (#1208143)
Hey, where IS John Rocker these days???
   25. catomi01 Posted: March 20, 2005 at 09:30 AM (#1208144)
i think the term "next contending devil rays team" is an oxymoron.
   26. Walt Davis Posted: March 20, 2005 at 06:34 PM (#1208313)
WOW....That's a pretty fast decline faze for Alomar at a pretty young age....

Actually, that's a pretty typical decline phase for a 2B. It's a tough position. Sandberg started crashing at 33. Biggio dropped off around 33-35. Joe Gordon dropped off at 34. Gerhringer at 36-37. Fox was never a great hitter but he fell off a cliff at 33. Evers was done after age 33. Frisch around ages 33-35. Robinson at age 35. Billy Herman went from a 128 OPS+ at 36 to done at 37. Doerr was done after 33 (injury?). Schoendeinst after 34.

Even those who aged well show a somewhat similar pattern. Morgan still hit well, but saw a big drop at 34. Whitaker maintained but was mostly a platoon player after 35. Kent's career is so up-and-down that I hesitate to think what would be "normal" for him, but certainly his age 35-36 seasons are substantially below his age 30-34 seasons.

Mainly it's just those classic old guys -- Lajoie, Collins, Hornsby -- who didn't have an Alomar-like career pattern.

So generally, even outstanding 2B start pretty severe, often career-ending, offensive declines around 33-35. It seems likely they suffer severe defensive declines too.

By the way, b-r.com has added HOF stats by position. Yea!
   27. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 21, 2005 at 04:11 PM (#1209589)
Lombard isn't retired. He's in camp with Boston, fighting with Hyzdu and McCarty for one last roster spot.
   28. Rusty Priske Posted: March 21, 2005 at 04:20 PM (#1209593)
Alex Sanchez is better than you are making out.

I have a real hard time calling him, you know, GOOD, but he is better than you are making out.
   29. Der Komminsk-sar Posted: March 21, 2005 at 05:09 PM (#1209647)
"Gomes and Diaz are not that good. Their reputations are inflated because of their Durham numbers."
Mike, how highly do you think that Primates, prospect gurus, whomever - rate Diaz and Gomes and where do you think they should be ranked?
I think Diaz is a solid platoon guy, Gomes should be in AAA, and would rather have either than Sanchez, who has a negative clubhouse rep and does nothing well apart from hitting for average.
   30. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 21, 2005 at 05:22 PM (#1209675)
"I have a real hard time calling him, you know, GOOD, but he is better than you are making out."

Part of the apparent disparity arises from the fact that Sanchez is (at least notionally) a CF, but that Tampa was in need of a corner guy. Sanchez's bat is limp for a CF, but in a corner, it's staggeringly bad.

[Yes, I know they're planning on Crawford in left, instead of Sanchez. The net result is still the same.]
   31. Dan Szymborski Posted: March 21, 2005 at 05:27 PM (#1209689)
Sanchez is Tom Goodwin without the ability to actually be a plus defensively in centerfield.

I don't see how Tom Goodwin without the defense is better than I'm making out; I barely tolerate the existence of the original Tom Goodwin.
   32. CFBF Is A Golden Spider Duck Posted: March 21, 2005 at 05:55 PM (#1209728)
So the Hudson extension doesn't get an Oracle report?
   33. Mike Emeigh Posted: March 21, 2005 at 06:00 PM (#1209734)
Gomes hit .249/.348/.441 in 2003 at Orlando, with 53 walks and 148 strikeouts in ~500 PAs... Why would you think that this makes him an outstanding prospect?

Because the year before that, he hit for more power than any other player in the minor leagues.


That's right, he did. In the hitter's paradise that is the California League. At age 21, while also fanning 173 times. His OBP was also fattened by 31 HBP (although his walk rate was also very good, to be fair to him). For a comprison: Josh Phelps, at age 21, was hitting .328/.375/.562 in high-A ball, but in the Florida State League, a far tougher environment than the Cal League. A year later, Phelps, too, hit that AA wall, hard enough to be sent back to A-ball. In his major league career, he's hit .269/.337/.480, which is well within what I think a reasonable expectation would have been. Gomes and Diaz would be similar, low-800 OPS types of players.

Mike, how highly do you think that Primates, prospect gurus, whomever - rate Diaz and Gomes and where do you think they should be ranked?

See above. I think Primates look at them as 850-900 OPS types of players. Sickels rates both of them as C prospects (which would be about where I'd have them), and neither makes BA's top 10.

-- MWE
   34. Dan Szymborski Posted: March 21, 2005 at 07:48 PM (#1209881)
So the Hudson extension doesn't get an Oracle report?

Finishing the boatload of projections and organizing preview month. By the time I got to it, there wasn't anything new to say, really.
   35. The Buddy Biancalana Hit Counter Posted: March 21, 2005 at 07:56 PM (#1209891)
Past approval I may have expressed toward Diaz should be taken in its appropriate, Abraham Nunez context.

I would be very pleasantly surprised if Diaz put up an 850 OPS (at the major league level; I wouldn't really be surprised at all if he has the best year of his career and it takes place in Omaha, see Pickering, Calvin (2004)).
   36. Harold can be a fun sponge Posted: March 21, 2005 at 08:29 PM (#1209916)
The list may also include Geoff Blum, Brook Fordyce, Midre Cummings, Charles Gipson, and Damian Moss - I'm not sure of those players' whereabouts, though Moss is probably in camp somewhere.

Geoff Blum is in the Padres camp with a major-league contract. What a waste. Especially since the bench already features Mark Sweeney, Eric Young and Xavier Nady (now playing 3b and CF in addition to the outfield corners).
   37. Walt Davis Posted: March 21, 2005 at 09:10 PM (#1209960)
Alex Sanchez is better than you are making out.

This is true. Sanchez is much better than I am at making outs. :-)

Gomes and Diaz would be similar, low-800 OPS types of players.

Well, there were only 8 qualified CFs in MLB last year who hit better than a low-800 OPS. Only 17 (out of 20 qualified) topped 700. Only 9 teams had a team-CF OPS better than the low-800s. 4 teams were below 700 and another 5 were below 750.

5 teams even had an LF OPS below 750 with KC at 608 (amazing!). 10 teams had an RF OPS below 750.

Tampa's OPS's at those positions were 761 (LF), 726 (CF), and 759 (RF).

If they really are low-800 OPS types of players then (1) they should be starting for Tampa Bay; (2) they are clearly of starting/heavy use ML quality; (3) they're much better than C prospects.

So I'm guessing you really don't think they're low-800 OPS material.

Me, I have no opinion. I don't know nothing about no prospects. I just know an 800 OPS is something to be valued even in this high-scoring wonderland of ours.
   38. Walt Davis Posted: March 21, 2005 at 09:16 PM (#1209969)
Wow, Royals' LFs hit worse than Mike Matheny last year -- by 40 points and an even worse OBP.

Worse than Neifi Perez. Worse than Ausmus. Worse than the career numbers of Mike Hampton.

They did beat Rey Ordonez's career OPS so it wasn't a total embarassment.
   39. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 21, 2005 at 09:27 PM (#1209987)
Wow, Royals' LFs hit worse than Mike Matheny last year -- by 40 points and an even worse OBP.

Can they do it again? Abraham Nunez and Terrence Long say yes!
   40. charlie Posted: March 21, 2005 at 09:35 PM (#1210007)
Lombard isn't retired. He's in camp with Boston, fighting with Hyzdu and McCarty for one last roster spot.

I figured at least one or two of those players I mentioned would be battling for a spot somewhere - baseball players tend to fade away rather than burn out.
   41. Mike Emeigh Posted: March 21, 2005 at 10:33 PM (#1210097)
If they really are low-800 OPS types of players then (1) they should be starting for Tampa Bay; (2) they are clearly of starting/heavy use ML quality; (3) they're much better than C prospects.

I should have made clear that I think that's where they'd be likely to wind up if they produced at the top of their ability.

There's a train of thought that runs through saber sites that suggests that teams should opt for low-risk, low-reward younger players rather than opting for veterans. There is probably more argument about this topic than any other prospect-related topic on sites like this one. I'm inclined to disagree with that position. It's not that I don't believe that the Gomeses and Diazes aren't better today than what the Rays or the Royals have been putting out on the field, but because

-- their ability to develop into "good" players - the type that the Rays and Royals need to get off the treadmill - is limited, and

-- if they post something like the low-800 OPS that they could, they become difficult to replace when those teams DO get players with upside.

I'm unconvinced that the incremental upgrade from 70 to 72 wins is worth it in the long run. You almost never catch lightning in a bottle with these guys, and you risk cutting into the development time for a guy who very well COULD become a stud for you, but can't because there is nowhere for him to play.

-- MWE
   42. Walt Davis Posted: March 22, 2005 at 02:20 AM (#1210371)
-- if they post something like the low-800 OPS that they could, they become difficult to replace when those teams DO get players with upside.

I'm unconvinced that the incremental upgrade from 70 to 72 wins is worth it in the long run. You almost never catch lightning in a bottle with these guys, and you risk cutting into the development time for a guy who very well COULD become a stud for you, but can't because there is nowhere for him to play.


I'm not buying that part of the argument. Here would be my argument ...

any team dumb enough to sign Alex Sanchez when they've got Gomes and Diaz lying around isn't gonna be smart enough to handle their stud prospects right. This is, after all, the team that wanted to use Alomar and is still using Gonzalez to cut into the development time of guys who could become studs. (Or so say the prospect hounds who get worked up about Upton and Cantu).

In short, the team that recognizes the minor value upgrade of Gomes/Diaz or is at least smart enough to avoid Sanchez has a better chance of handling their studs right, even if it means trading/benching reasonably productive players. And having players like Gomes/Diaz might help you keep a young stud developing in the minors if that's what's best (and not starting his arb clock).
   43. charlie Posted: March 22, 2005 at 03:17 AM (#1210425)
I don't really buy this argument either, with all due respect.

It's not that I don't believe that the Gomeses and Diazes aren't better today than what the Rays or the Royals have been putting out on the field, but because

-- their ability to develop into "good" players - the type that the Rays and Royals need to get off the treadmill - is limited


The mere presence of a Gomes or Diaz (or, say, J.J. Davis) on a major league roster does not impede the progress of a Delmon Young until he is ready to make the jump to the big leagues.

-- if they post something like the low-800 OPS that they could, they become difficult to replace when those teams DO get players with upside.

The Diazes and Gomeses are not difficult to replace. You simply stick them on the bench, or trade them, or cut them when the time is right. The only sense in which they're "difficult" to replace it's counterintuitive to want to get rid of a player who's cheap and reasonably productive, whereas it's easy to get rid of a crappy veteran when his one-year contract runs out. But the very traits that make trading a Gomes "difficult" - cheap, productive - should make the player a valuable trade chit. You seem to be advocating making small mistakes now (by playing guys like Bautista, who have no upside and are unambiguously awful, in favor of guys like Gomes, who have a little upside and might be league average or a bit better) in order to avoid making big mistakes in the future (by allowing a 27 year-old, productive Gomes to block someone like Young who might become a star). Why not go with Gomes and promise yourself that you'll avoid making the big mistake later? Also, Walt's right - if a team is smart enough to understand the value of Gomes relative to Bautista, they're also probably smart enough to understand the value of Young relative to Gomes.
   44. charlie Posted: March 22, 2005 at 03:19 AM (#1210430)
Sorry, the third sentence of the last paragraph should be "The only sense in which they're 'difficult' to replace is in that it's counterintuitive to want to get rid of a player who's cheap and reasonably productive, whereas it's easy to get rid of a crappy veteran when his one-year contract runs out
   45. Dreslough Posted: April 04, 2005 at 07:40 PM (#1231805)
Gomes and Diaz would be similar, low-800 OPS types of players.

If we project Gomes at an .835 OPS, use Sanchez' lifetime MLB .791 OPS, and assume a replacement OPS of .780, then Gomes is exactly "5 times the player Sanchez is".

Offensively, at least.

:)

Clay
   46. Dreslough Posted: April 04, 2005 at 07:41 PM (#1231811)
Gomes and Diaz would be similar, low-800 OPS types of players.

If we project Gomes at an .835 OPS, use Sanchez' lifetime MLB .791 OPS, and assume a replacement OPS of .780, then Gomes is exactly "5 times the player Sanchez is".

Offensively, at least.

:)

Clay
   47. Dreslough Posted: April 04, 2005 at 07:42 PM (#1231812)
Gomes and Diaz would be similar, low-800 OPS types of players.

If we project Gomes at an .835 OPS, use Sanchez' lifetime MLB .791 OPS, and assume a replacement OPS of .780, then Gomes is exactly "5 times the player Sanchez is".

Offensively, at least.

:)

Clay
   48. Dreslough Posted: April 04, 2005 at 07:44 PM (#1231828)
FWIW, the Baseball Mogul AI puts Gomes in center, Sanchez on the bench, Diaz in AAA and Gathright in AA.
   49. Greg Franklin Posted: April 05, 2005 at 06:15 AM (#1232914)
The Transaction Oracle is just being a meanie. If you disregard wins and losses, the Devil Rays organization is one of the strongest in the game.

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