Friday, November 27, 2009

Why Would D-Backs Want Nick Johnson?

Now, I get it. Why wouldn't the Diamondbacks want a hitter who has posted these OBP's in the past four seasons: .408, .428, .415 and .426?

The question isn't so much why would the Diamondbacks want Nick Johnson, but rather, is that the best way for that team to spend their money with Conor Jackson healthy again?

Arizona has numerous holes on their roster. Their current everyday second baseman has a career OPS of .646 against right-handers. Their rotation consists of Dan Haren, Max Scherzer, the rehabbing Brandon Webb, and two other question marks. The back of their bullpen consists of Chad Qualls, Juan Gutierrez and Aaron Heilman, which shouldn't exactly excite anyone.

The Diamondbacks already have their outfield set with Justin Upton, Gerardo Parra and Chris Young, and that leaves first base wide open for former top prospect Conor Jackson. You know, the same Conor Jackson that posted a .363 wOBA in everyday playing time during 2007-2008 and a 3.5 WAR in 2008? He missed most of 2009 with Valley Fever, but apparently he looked good in the Arizona Fall League and I don't see why Jackson wouldn't deserve everyday playing time if he's back at 100% for 2010.

I get that the Diamondbacks need to improve and first base is essentially the only spot in the lineup where they could get it. But what about hoping for continued development from Upton, Parra, Stephen Drew and Miguel Montero? Repeat season from Mark Reynolds and Ryan Roberts? Quality returns from Young and Jackson?

Given that Arizona's offense is flush with talent and offensive upside, albeit with large risk attached as well, I think that the Diamondbacks would be better off trying to address the holes in their pitching staff with the limited payroll flexibility that they have, pursuing pitchers that can eat innings rather than an injury-prone first baseman with a similar skill set to a younger first baseman that they already have.

Blue Jays Prioritizing Middle Infield Defense

With the resigning of shortstop John McDonald and the addition of former Red Sox shortstop Alex Gonzalez on a one-year, $2.75M deal, it appears that the Blue Jays' search for an MLB shortstop is over for the offseason. Certainly, the Blue Jays will still pursue young shortstops in talks for right-hander Roy Halladay, but it seems almost assured now that the team's previous everyday shortstop, Marco Scutaro, will depart as a free agent.

While the Blue Jays have essentially decided to punt the idea of getting offense from their shortstops, the McDonald/Gonzalez combo along with incumbent second baseman Aaron Hill, a two-time Fielding Bible award winner as the best defensive 2B in the game, should provide the Blue Jays will excellent defense in the middle infield. Both Gonzalez and McDonald have routinely been regarded as two of the best defensive shortstops in the game, and that's been supported by metric statistics, McDonald has a +3.9 UZR/150 for his career, while Gonzalez has an even more impressive +6.9 mark.

Unfortunately, defense is where essentially all of the value lies for these two guys. McDonald has a career line of .238/.276/.317 and a .264 wOBA in 1862 PA, and Gonzalez has a career line of .247/.294/.395 with a .295 wOBA in 4776 PA. McDonald showed some improved power in 2009, but he also walked just once in 156 at-bats, he really doesn't belong on a major-league roster if he's not playing his usual plus defense.

Gonzalez not only has the superior defensive metric numbers, but he's shown far more on the offensive side as well. He posted a solid .284/.316/.453 line in 44 games with Boston, and as recently as 2007 he posted a .340 wOBA with Cincinnati, although that was in a hitter's park in the easier league. He's certainly not an offensive weapon, he's not much of an asset offensively at all, but he's less of a liability than McDonald, and should at least provide a wOBA around .290-.310 before all is said and done, which is at least tolerable if you're a shortstop playing plus defense.

Clearly, Gonzalez is the superior hitter and likely the superior defender at this point as well, so he's clearly Toronto's everyday shortstop going into next season. The shortstop will likely be manning the nine spot in Toronto's batting order next season, but at the very least, Blue Jay pitchers should feel better knowing that they have one of the best defensive middle infields in the game behind them.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Who Would Want Miguel Cabrera?

While it's been made clear that the Tigers are trying to shed payroll this offseason in some way, there had been little discussion about the possibility of the Tigers dealing superstar first baseman Miguel Cabrera until this morning, when Lynn Henning of The Detroit News discussed the topic after comments made by Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski.

Moving Cabrera, 27 next April, could make sense for the Tigers if they don't believe that they're World Series contenders next season, given that Cabrera is due $126M through 2015 and is relatively limited by the fact that he's relegated to first base or designated hitter and there are some small character issues. But on the flip side, few hitters have accomplished more before turning 27 than Cabrera.

Cabrera has a career .311/.383/.542 line and a .389 wOBA in seven seasons with the Tigers and Florida Marlins, getting time at third base and left field before settling in at first base in 2008. He's had at least 65 extra-base hits in each season, four seasons with a BA above .320 and an OBP above .385, and four seasons with a wOBA over .399, with an ISO above .219 in every season. He's an elite hitter showing no signs of slowing down, he's played in 157+ games in every season since becoming an everyday player at the age of 21, and he even posted a solid, above-average 3.1 UZR as Detroit's everyday first baseman in 2009, although the sample size was small. To put it simply, Cabrera is one of the very best hitters, and players, in the game.

But still, you can essentially limit trade partners to big-market teams with a hole at first base or designated hitter, and that cuts out a major part of the market.

The Yankees likely can't fit Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez AND Miguel Cabrera on their payroll, given that A-Rod could very well end up at DH within a few years, and you're not putting Teixeira or Cabrera in a different spot on the field. The Cubs have Derrek Lee for 2010 and very limited payroll flexibility, they're more likely to pursue Curtis Granderson in trade talks with Detroit. The Angels could be a landing spot, but they also are already set at first base long-term with Kendry Morales. The Phillies have Ryan Howard, the Astros have Lance Berkman, and the Rangers have Justin Smoak, which pretty much knocks them all out of the running.

That leaves you with the Dodgers, White Sox, Red Sox, Giants, Mariners, Braves and Mets as the only realistic trade partners for Detroit.

The Braves, Dodgers, Giants and White Sox aren't particularly likely to pursue Cabrera, either. Atlanta probably doesn't have the money, for the White Sox, neither team probably don't want to trade that kind of talent within the division, the Giants probably don't want to have Cabrera and Sandoval around long-term due the defensive issues it would create, and the Dodgers are more likely to pursue help for the starting rotation than focus on Cabrera.

So realistically, it would be between the Mariners, Red Sox and Mets.

The Mariners could presumably start a package with Carlos Triunfel, Phillippe Aumont, J.P. Ramirez and one of the outfielders (Halman, Saunders, Raben). Basically, anyone but Dustin Ackley. But one major concern with the Mariners adding Cabrera is the impact that it could have on their efforts to retain Felix Hernandez, presumably the player that they would much rather have.

The Mets would likely have to start a package with Ike Davis, Fernando Martinez and Brad Holt, I'm not sure if the Tigers could ask for both Wilmer Flores and Jennry Meija if they expect the Mets to take on the entire contract. I think that the Mets could be a fit if they can afford the money.

The Red Sox are the other good fit, they have the hole at DH long-term and the need for an impact bat, can easily afford Cabrera's contract, and have talent that would definitely interest Detroit. A package could presumably start with Clay Buchholz, but even if Boston didn't want to surrender him in an effort to win-now, they could likely get Detroit's attention with a package based around Casey Kelly and/or Ryan Westmoreland, with other prospects like Michael Bowden, Josh Reddick, Ryan Kalish, Michael Almanzar, Yamaico Navarro, Oscar Tejeda, Anthony Rizzo, Lars Anderson, and Derrik Gibson.

Realistically, I think that Cabrera either lands in New York or Boston (shocker), and trading him probably wouldn't be the worst idea for Detroit if they can get an impressive package. While he's a great player, he's expensive, and the Tigers could build a dominant team around Justin Verlander (who needs to be paid after 2011, when he's due to hit free agency) when all of the bad contracts finish after 2010 and 2011.

Monday, November 23, 2009

AL MVP Ballot Oddities

Today, the BBWAA announced that Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer was voted American League MVP. While his victory was unsurprising, he just posted a .438 wOBA as an above-average defensive catcher and he received 27 of 28 first-place votes, there were numerous other surprises to keep us entertained. Let's dig into the ones I saw:

Bobby Abreu: 2 fifth-place votes, 9 votes overall, 23 points

Listen, I get that Abreu's patient approach supposedly transformed the Angels' slap-happy, energetic offense into a pitch-taking, on-base machine, but how is a below-average defensive right fielder with a .365 wOBA (which takes SB/CS into account) one of the five most valuable players in the league?

Carl Crawford, who posted an identical wOBA while playing elite defense and stealing 60 bases, didn't even receive ONE vote on a single ballot, but Abreu gets votes on nine different ballots? Yeah, Abreu gets bonus points for being on a playoff team and the whole "nice story" thing, but how is Abreu remotely as valuable as Crawford?

The guy with the 13th-best wOBA among everyday AL outfielders while posting a -11.0 UZR was really an MVP candidate?

Aaron Hill: 1 fourth-place vote, 8 votes overall, 23 points

Just like with Abreu, I get how a well-regarded defensive second baseman who hits .286 with 36 home runs, 37 doubles and 108 RBI might garner some MVP votes. But at the same time, how do you ignore the numerous flaws in his candidacy?

Hill's 5.8% walk rate was the worst of his career and led to a very mediocre .330 OBP, which combined with his lack of value in terms of stolen bases, adds up to a .357 wOBA. While that's certainly an impressive mark, it's still only fifth among everyday AL second baseman, behind Ben Zobrist, Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler and Robinson Cano.

And while UZR certainly has its flaws, especially in a sample size of only 156 games, it's certainly worth acknowledging his -2.3 UZR from this season, and the possibility that his defense won't quite return to the level that it was at before the major injuries of last season.

Hill is a great player, but unless you're only using traditional manners of evaluation (BA, HR, RBI, Runs, etc.), he just hasn't been one of the 10 most valuable players in the AL.

Placido Polanco: 1 ninth-place vote

Essentially every player that got an MVP vote is a great player, it's just that some great players had more valuable seasons than others, obviously. With Placido Polanco, I just don't get what's going on.

How does a second baseman with a .285/.331/.396 line garner even one MVP vote? Even if he's pretty good defensively, Polanco is not much more than a solid everyday player, and it's not even like his team made the playoffs this season.

I would just really love to know the explanation behind that one, because I'm sure that it must be exceptionally warped.

And finally: Where's the lack of love for Zack Greinke?

I know, I know, pitchers generally aren't considered in MVP voting, even though they're allowed to be, and how could Greinke be so valuable if the Royals were so awful?

Well, according to WAR, Greinke was easily the most valuable player IN THE GAME, his 9.4 WAR, Rays 2B Ben Zobrist finished second with a 8.6 WAR and Albert Pujols was third with an 8.4 WAR. Mauer certainly would have finished with a better mark than his 8.2 WAR if UZR actually rated defense for catchers, because Mauer is regarded as above-average and UZR, and WAR as a function of that, assumes that all catchers are league average defensively.

I know that WAR has numerous flaws, but wouldn't it seem that the guy that posted the highest WAR in baseball in 2009 would deserve more than one fifth-place vote, one sixth-place vote, one ninth-place vote and one tenth-place vote?

Luckily, the voters got the biggest part of the voting process right, and that was that they recognized that Joe Mauer was the most valuable player in the AL.

Omar Vizquel Signs With White Sox

The Chicago White Sox and 42-year-old shortstop Omar Vizquel agreed to a one-year, $1.375M contract this morning, Scott Merkin of reported this morning.

Vizquel, who turns 43 in April, is likely to slot in as the team's back-up infielder, presuming that they go into the season with Gordon Beckham at second base, Alexei Ramirez at shortstop, and recently added Mark Teahen at third base. While Vizquel is still a complete zero with the bat, he's one of the best defensive shortstops in the game, he has a +7.2 UZR/150 for his career, and he posted a massive +20.6 UZR/150 in his last full season in 2007, while also receiving similarly impressive marks in other metric systems and from numerous scouting reports. While he's obviously not going to be 20 runs above average defensively again, he's clearly still an asset with the glove, and more than a solid bench piece in that aspect.

Vizquel was never much of a hitter, and he showed substantial decline from 2006 to 2008 before having somewhat of a rebound season in Texas in 2009, posting a .266/.316/.345 line and a .301 wOBA, his first over .300 since 2006. While his 2007/2008 numbers were greatly impacted by low BABIP's, he's also began to hit less line drives and more flyballs, which certainly is a factor in the decrease in his BABIP. The other major concern with Vizquel is that he's so dependent on his ability to make contact offensively, but in 2009 he posted the highest strikeout rate (15.3%) and lowest contact rate (87.8%) of his career, while also swinging at significantly more pitches outside of the strike zone. Given how infrequently Vizquel walks and his utter lack of power, if he's not making contact, then he's essentially completely worthless as a hitter.

Still, given the fact that Beckham is trying out a new position (again), Teahen is regarded as a below-average defender at third base, and Ramirez hasn't exactly established himself as a brilliant defender at shortstop, it seems that the White Sox could certainly use a versatile, plus defensive infielder, and Vizquel is exactly that, even if he's a liability offensively. Not to mention that he may even have a few pointers for the less experienced everyday players that are likely to get time in front of him.

Seeing that his cost was relatively low for a versatile premium defender, it seems that Kenny Williams has made a decent move here, adding a solid, usable bench piece at a relatively low price. Vizquel seems like a clear upgrade on former top prospect Brent Lillibridge, the apparent internal alternative to Vizquel and whose career has stalled in AAA after impressive showing in the lower minors. Lillibridge isn't nearly the defender that Vizquel is, and while he would likely offer more walks and better value on the bases, he has a similar lack of power and has shown little ability to make consistent contact on quality pitching.

Vizquel shouldn't be expected to play everyday, and a wOBA over .300 would be a pleasant surprise, but there aren't that many shortstop options out there, and Vizquel at least gives the White Sox a late-game defensive replacement for their everyday infield at a pretty low price.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Possible First Base Option: Daric Barton

A top prospect since being a part of the package that landed Mark Mulder in St. Louis, Daric Barton hasn't quite taken hold of the first base job in Oakland as expected. But people certainly shouldn't write off Barton, because he still has a chance to be one of the better first baseman in the game. The bigger question is whether that could happen in Oakland, given that Brett Wallace, Chris Carter and Sean Doolittle should be ready to contribute at the major league level very soon.

This leaves the Athletics with a nice problem, as they have to figure out what to do with all of those bats, as Wallace tries to stick at third base and Carter tries to adjsut to left field, neither of which is likely to work out particularly well. If the Athletics consider trading Barton to make room at first base for one of those guys, which is really more of a when rather than an if, then he could be a very appealing piece to any team in need of a solid first baseman with good OBP skills.

Barton's biggest flaw has always been a lack of power for someone on his side of the defensive spectrum, but he makes up for it with excellent contact skills and a very developed, patient approach at the plate. Barton was given the everyday job in Oakland in 2008 and struggled, posting a .226/.327/.348 line in 523 plate appearances, but he still posted a strong walk rate, and was pretty unlucky with balls in play and converting fly balls into home runs. He rebounded quite well in 2009, with a .261/.386/.458 line in 313 plate appearances with AAA Sacramento, and an improved .269/.372/.413 line in 192 plate appearances in Oakland.

He's consistently posted great walk and strikeout rates in the upper minors while flashing solid gap power, and he's also a plus defender at first base, an observation supported by both scouting reports and defensive metrics. He could certainly find a place as a first baseman in the Nick Johnson/Lyle Overbay mold, churning out doubles with a high OBP and above-average defense.

I'm not saying that the A's should shop Barton because he'll never be helpful to them, but it's not clear how he fits into their long-term plans and he's a guy that they would presumably consider moving. If Oakland is willing to deal Barton in order to get playing time for more highly touted young players, they're not exactly a contender in 2010 anyways, for teams like the Mets, Indians, White Sox, Orioles, and Mariners, Barton could be a great fit. He's not the 40-homer masher that you ideally want at first base, but he could definitely be a nice addition for someone with a hole there.

Cubs Throw More Money Down The Drain

You would think that Jim Hendry would have learned after he gave so much money to Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Zambrano, Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee, Ted Lilly, Ryan Dempster, Kosuke Fukudome, Milton Bradley, and Aaron Miles. Especially Aaron Miles.

But of course, Hendry set his eyes on a player, and when that happens, Hendry gets his man. He just stops caring about the price. Obviously, I'm talking about the signing of left-handed reliever John Grabow, a perfect reflection of how teams still consider ERA a legitimate way to evaluate a pitcher. Now, not only does ERA have its numerous flaws, the statistic is extremely context driven and dependent on factors that are essentially out of the pitcher's control, but those flaws are magnified when you're talking about exceptionally small sample sizes, and relievers don't exactly rack up innings.

For whatever reason, the Cubs determined that Grabow was worth giving $3.75M in each of the next two seasons, in spite of his consistently mediocre performance. We're talking about a guy that's practically fungible, and could likely be replaced for near the league minimum. Grabow doesn't have great stuff, his fastball sits 88-91 and doesn't have great movement, if he's not locating the pitch then it's very hittable, and he lacks the kind of out-pitch that you would expect from a marquee reliever.

Now, the Cubs are stuck paying relatively big money to a guy who hasn't posted an xFIP under 4.72 in the past two seasons and has shown an increasing walk rate for three years running. The only reason that he's posted such pretty ERA's is because hitters have posted BABIP's of .251 and .279 in the past two respective seasons, and he had the benefit of a 85.5% strand rate in 2008 and a 5.7% HR/FB ratio in 2009, each of which are exceptionally flukish and due for regression.

The Cubs certainly could use some help in their bullpen, they have about three established relievers and their projected closer walked 65 guys in 74 innings last season, but overpaying a mediocre lefty just isn't remotely the right way to go about fixing the issue.

If the Cubs were willing to spend pretty solid money on a reliever, why not go after a potential stud closer that would take a one-year deal (Billy Wagner!!), or at the very least try to go after cheaper (and better) options, like maybe Joe Beimel or Kiko Calero.

It's just another questionable allocation of resources by Hendry and the Cubs, who have had a nasty habit of doing that in the past couple years.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Angels Not Interested in Matt Holliday

After numerous writers and bloggers speculated that Matt Holliday could be a good fit with the Los Angeles Angels, Bill Shaikin of the LA Times reported that Angels owner Arte Moreno said that the organization isn't interested in pursuing the veteran outfielder.

As far as I can tell, Moreno's comment makes a lot more sense than those of the writers and bloggers of the baseball world. Certainly, the Angels could use a cornerstone position player to replace Vladimir Guerrero, but it's pretty questionable if Holliday is capable of being that kind of player in the AL.

After struggling in his tenure with the Oakland Athletics in the first half of 2009, many speculated that the issues were because of the change in ballpark, as Coors Field is a hitter's park and the Coliseum in Oakland is a well-known pitcher's park. But this was hardly reflected in what Holliday did in Oakland:

Home: .286/.383/.494
Road: .287/.373/.416

Rather than struggling in Oakland, he was actually much more productive at home, and his biggest issue was a lack of power production away from home. As far as I can tell, the problem wasn't the change in ballpark, but rather the change in leagues. Obviously, it's established that the AL is more competitive than the NL, but the impact that the change in leagues had in Holliday was fairly substantial.

Routinely one of the best fastball hitters in the NL, when he moved to the AL, his numbers against fastballs plummeted. After posting wFB/C (the number of runs above or below average that a player offers against a given pitch, per 100 pitches) marks of 1.17, 1.37 and 2.00 in 2006-2008, the mark dropped down to 0.18 with Oakland, before skyrocketing back up to 2.45 in his time in St. Louis.

I know that the sample size is small, only 400 plate appearances, but given how radically different Holliday's production was in Oakland compared to what he did in Colorado and St. Louis, it seems that spending huge money on this guy to expect him to thrive in the AL West would be misguided. I'm just not really sure if Holliday is capable of being an impact hitter worth giving $15M+ per season in the American League, and if he's looking for at least five years on a deal, then to me that just seems like a risk not worth making.

Cy Young Voters Get It Right

I'm not going to spend too much time on this. But let me just say that for once, I can happily say that the Cy Young Award voters actually voted for the best pitcher in each league, rather than the pitcher with the most wins.

In the American League, Greinke was the best pitcher, and it wasn't even close. His 2.16 ERA and 2.33 FIP were miles ahead of the rest of the league, and his 3.36 xFIP was behind only Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay and Boston lefty Jon Lester, both of whom lacked the other statistics necessary to challenge Greinke. His 9.4 WAR was easily the best in the game, and the guy who placed second, Tigers ace Justin Verlander, posted an 8.2 WAR, paling in comparison to Greinke. He showed brilliant command and control, walking just 51 in 229 innings, and missed lots of bats, only Halladay posted a better K/BB ratio, thanks to Doc's shockingly good walk rate this year. Overall though, in spite of pitching on one of the worst teams in the league, Greinke quietly was the best pitcher in the American League, and it's nice to see that voters were able to look past his W-L record and the general suckiness of the Royals, which wasn't remotely Greinke's fault. I think that there's pretty good merit to the argument that Greinke just had the best season by a pitcher since Pedro Martinez in 2000.

My AL Cy Ballot: 1. Zack Greinke 2. Justin Verlander 3. Felix Hernandez

As for the National League, it was a bit tighter, with Lincecum, Cardinals aces Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright, Atlanta ace Javier Vazquez and Arizona ace Dan Haren all having pretty great seasons. Lincecum was just a bit ahead of everyone else though, his 8.2 WAR easily beat out Vazquez's second-place 6.6 WAR. He posted the best strikeout rate, the third-lowest home run rate, the sixth-best K/BB ratio, and his 2.34 FIP easily outpaced Vazquez (2.77) and Carpenter (2.78). Vazquez posted a slightly lower 2.89 xFIP compared to Lincecum's 2.94 mark, but those were still the best two marks in the league, and Lincecum was harder to hit and that was reflected in his ERA and batted ball percentages. Vazquez could have challenged Lincecum if he didn't have those extra three losses, but he just never stood a chance with a 15-10 record given the performances of the other candidates. Certainly, Carpenter and Wainwright had seasons that would be worthy of Cy Young recognition, but at this point, it's pretty clear that Tim Lincecum is the best pitcher in National League.

My NL Cy Ballot: 1. Tim Lincecum 2. Javier Vazquez 3. Chris Carpenter

Glad to see that arguably the two best pitchers in the game got the recognition that they deserved, Lincecum and Greinke should be among the best for years to come.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mets' Farm System

Well, the Baseball America, John Sickels and Kevin Goldstein Prospect Lists have begun to come out, so I think that it's time to dive into some prospect talk.

The Mets have a pretty solid farm system, with a combination of talented pitchers and an assortment of high-upside position players, although overall the system doesn't have much pitching depth. The Mets have pitchers Jennry Mejia, Brad Holt and Jonathan Niese leading the way, along with a solid group of positional players, highlighted by Fernando Martinez, Ike Davis, Wilmer Flores, Jefry Marte, Josh Thole, Ruben Tejada and Reese Havens. Only Martinez, Davis, Niese and Thole are remotely ready to play in the majors, and the team saw rough performances from Flores and Marte in the lower minors, so there's still a lot of projection in this system.

Certainly, the clear problem with New York is that they don't choose to take advantage of their financial power in the draft. They made nice choices lately with Davis, Holt and Havens, but they've consistently chosen to spend their big money on Latin prospects such as Martinez, Mejia, Tejada, Flores, Marte, Jose Reyes, Carlos Gomez, Francisco Pena, Anderson Hernandez and Deolis Guerra.

While that has worked out fairly well for the Mets, they've failed to take advantage of their massive advantage is resources in one of the easiest places to do that, the draft. They have a solid farm system because they've made a couple of nice draft picks and a couple of the the Latin signings have worked out thus far, but there's a lot of projection in the system and the Latin American talent well could run dry if they go through a run of bad luck.

The Mets could have a consistently great farm system like Boston's if they were willing to spend big money in the draft, and for whatever reason, Omar Minaya and company have chosen not to do that. Personally, I'd love to know why.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cubs Shouldn't Trade Castro for Granderson

In his blog post today, ESPN's Keith Law (Insider only) suggested that the Cubs could easily land Tigers center fielder Curtis Granderson if they were willing to deal shortstop Starlin Castro and third baseman Josh Vitters in the same package.

I, for one, am very against such an idea for the Cubs. While that deal would certainly improve the 2010 Cubs, given their long-term contractual obligations, they simply shouldn't be looking to deal those kinds of players. The Cubs already owe significant money to Zambrano, Ramirez, Soriano, Dempster, Fukudome and Bradley, and they need a productive farm system to fill in the gaps.

Castro, 19, is the Cubs' best prospect and arguably the best shortstop in the minor leagues. He could potentially take over as Chicago's everyday shortstop in 2011, enabling them to move current everyday shortstop Ryan Theriot to second base, improving the team at two positions.

While Vitters, 20, hasn't developed as quickly as Castro since being picked third overall in the 2007 Rule IV draft, he's still one of the best pure hitting prospects in the game. His biggest flaw is a developing approach at the plate, he rarely walked in A ball in 2009, although his relatively low strikeout rate reflects his impressive hitting ability. He's not great defensively, but he should be able to stick there if his bat develops properly.

Given that Granderson is a pretty flawed player, he's essentially only playable against right-handed pitchers, I just don't see how the Cubs can afford to gut their farm system to get him, especially if it means including Castro, the kind of piece that the Cubs should build around.

At the core though, the Cubs need to focus on keeping Castro. Vitters still has a lot of development left, and if his bat doesn't pan out then it's not likely that he'll offer very much, compared to Castro, who's already good enough to play in the majors defensively.

If the Cubs could tempt the Tigers without including Castro or top pitchers Andrew Cashner and Jay Jackson, then I could certainly see a deal working out. The Cubs have other young shortstop prospects, Hak-Ju Lee, Ryan Flaherty and Junior Lake, specifically, that could entice the Tigers, and certainly Detroit could have some interest in using Jake Fox in the DH role.

Could the Cubs interest Detroit with an offer based around Vitters, Lee, Fox and a pitcher, such as Esmailyn Caridad, Jeff Stevens or Aaron Shafer? The big idea though, is to keep an eye on Starlin Castro.

McCutchen Should Have Won NL ROTY

The BBWAA announced today that they voted Florida left fielder Chris Coghlan the National League Rookie of the Year. While Coghlan had a great year, posting a .321/.390/.460 line and a .372 wOBA in 565 PA, he wasn't quite the best rookie in the National League.

That would be Andrew McCutchen.

Coghlan definitely had an impressive offensive campaign, he set the NL record for hits in a month in August, but he was also an absolutely awful defender in left field, posting a -14.5 UZR/150 and getting poor marks from numerous other fielding evaluations.

Meanwhile, Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen matched Coghlan's offensive performance, and did it while playing a solid center field. He posted a good .286/.365/.471 line and a .368 wOBA in 493 PA while posting a much lower BABIP than Coghlan, and he went 22 for 27 on steals, compared to 8 for 13 on Coghlan's part.

Given that McCutchen was worth approximately 16.7 runs offensively, compared to 20.7 runs by Coghlan (not to mention that Coghlan was luckier) it's clear that this was the criteria on which the BBWAA voted for Coghlan. Because had they shown any attention to defense, then there's no way that Coghlan would still win. Coghlan struggled to adjust to left field after coming up through Florida's system as a second baseman, while McCutchen showed off the athleticism that made him an elite prospect even before he was drafted, and it was reflected in his solid defensive metrics.

When you have two guys that offer similar offensive value, and one plays a very poor left field while the other plays a solid center field, then I don't see how you take the left fielder. That is, unless you just ignore the defense.

Reds Re-sign Ramon Hernandez

Earlier today, it was reported by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that the Reds re-signed veteran catcher Ramon Hernandez to a one-year deal worth $3M, with a 2011 option worth $3.25M that vests if he plays 120 games in 2010.

For a team that's supposedly considering trading star players Brandon Phillips, Aaron Harang, Francisco Cordero and Bronson Arroyo, spending $3M on Hernandez seems fairly odd. Considering that the Reds already have Ryan Hanigan on their roster, who has posted a .363 OBP in 402 PA in Cincinnati and is regarded as an above-average defender behind the plate, it seems that the money could be better spent elsewhere.

The Reds are currently planning on using Paul Janish at shortstop, but he has a career wOBA of .268 and a line of .205/.290/.292 in 381 PA. While Janish is arguably playable given his impressive defensive ability, he's an absolutely zero with the bat. They could also use some help in their starting rotation, which has a hole behind Arroyo, Harang, Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey, and it's unclear if guys like Micah Owings, Matt Maloney and Travis Wood can be the answer.

A big reason for why the Reds retained Hernandez is likely Hanigan's horrid finish to the season, he posted a .160/.264/.226 line in his final 40 games, posting 18 of his 31 strikeouts during that period. But given that Hanigan has a track record of getting on base and playing solid defense, Hernandez isn't clearly an upgrade on Hanigan, even if Hanigan has little to no power.

Unless the Reds believe that pitchers will start to pound the strike zone all the time on Hanigan, forcing him to swing his relatively weak bat and bring down his walk rate, it seems very questionable that this is the best way for the Reds to use that $3M, especially if they're calling around the league to try to dump other big salaries.

Mariners Re-Sign Jack Wilson

Late last week, the Mariners resigned shortstop Jack Wilson to a two-year, $10M contract, one that will keep him as their everyday shortstop through 2011. Certainly, Mariner fans should be happy after watching the disaster that was Yuniesky Betancourt, and even if Wilson can't continue his pattern of having a good offensive season every three years (2004, 2007.. 2010?), his defense alone should make this a solid deal for Seattle.

Although Wilson has posted a very weak .263/.301/.355 line in the past two seasons, while playing primarily in the weaker league, he's also been arguably the best defensive shortstop in the game, posting UZR/150's of 16.7 in 2008 and 20.4 in 2009, and he won the 2009 Fielding Bible award as the best defensive shortstop in the game.

Certainly, it will be tough for him to be anything other than the #9 hitter in their batting order, but his lack of offensive value is tolerable given his defensive prowess, especially for a reasonable salary like $5M per season. According to FanGraphs, he's been worth $15.6M over the past two seasons in spite of his offensive performance, and while he certainly wouldn't garner that kind of money on the open market, and it's questionable to trust the calculations used by UZR, WAR and FanGraphs, he's clearly a solid investment for a team that greatly values defense.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Tigers Should Sell High on Edwin Jackson

Rumors have been making rounds that Tigers right-hander Edwin Jackson is being made available in trade, and given that he's coming off an impressive 13-9, 3.62 ERA season, his trade value should be quite high as he should be relatively cheap until he's a free agent after the 2011 season.

You would think that moving Jackson, who supposedly established himself as a solid #2 behind Justin Verlander this season, would be a mistake given his talent and improvement in 2009, but at this point, the Tigers may have a great opportunity to sell high.

His 4.28 FIP and 4.58 xFIP don't support his impressive superficial statistics, and rather than continue his improvement into an elite starter, he's more likely to regress next season, as his ERA was helped by Detroit's quality defense and some good luck.

If the Tigers can market Jackson as a young top of the rotation starter that's finally coming into his own after years of hype as a top prospect, then they could potentially land a massive haul, even though it's likely that Jackson's 2010 ERA is closer to his 4.42 mark from 2008 than his 3.62 mark from 2009.

The only problem with dealing Jackson would be Detroit's short-term rotation, which would likely consist of Verlander, Rick Porcello, Jeremy Bonderman, Armando Galarraga and Nate Robertson if Jackson is dealt, and that rotation likely wouldn't be enough to contend, even in the AL Central.

But freeing up some cash from dealing Jackson could land the team some good young prospects, something that the organization is lacking in, and then the team could pursue a starter on the free agent market. Given how much money the Tigers have coming off the books after 2010, moving Jackson for some young guys that could be ready to make an impact by 2011, could put the team in a great position to build around Miguel Cabrera and Verlander.

Brewers Don't Let Looper's 14-7 Record Trick Them

This morning, the Brewers declined their $6.5M team option on right-hander Braden Looper, instead choosing to pay him a $1M buyout, as reported by Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Let's just say that disaster has been averted, as the Brewers made the smart decision not to waste $5.25M on a pitcher that essentially has one asset: durability. Late in the season, there was talk about whether the Brewers would exercise his option, and it blew my mind, right up until I saw that he managed to post a 14-7 win-loss record.

Then, my mind was blown by something totally different, and that was the fact that Looper went 14-7 in spite of pitching at the level that he did. He misses very few bats, posting a sub-5.00 strikeout rate for the third consecutive season, gives up lots of home runs (1.4 HR/9 in the past three seasons), and his command is solid but it would need to be extraordinary in order to make up for his other substantial flaws.

Looper tried to incorporate a split-fingered fastball into his arsenal this season, and the result was that his other pitches absolutely suffered. According to Pitch F/X data, he threw the splitter 34.1% of the time in 2009, up from 18% in 2008 and 10% the year before. In turn, he's thrown his four-seamer much less, throwing it 49.5% of the time in 2009, compared to 63.8% of the time in 2008.

While the split-finger was an above average pitch, with a +2.4 pitch value mark for the season, but his other pitches totally fell apart, as his fastball posted a -14.2 mark and his slider posted a -13.7 mark, compared to -0.5 and 1.0 marks, respectively, from the previous season.

Unless Pitch F/X is misdiagnosing four-seamers as splitters, it appears that he's tried to use the splitter in order to make up for his declining velocity, and it's made him far more prone to giving up home runs, posting HR/FB ratios over 10% in each of the past three seasons, after posting a mark above 10% just once from 2002-2006.

And the numbers appear to have some correlation as well:

2007: 10.4% SF, 10.2% HR/FB
2008: 18.4% SF, 11.7% HR/FB
2009: 34.1% SF, 15.8% HR/FB

Looper just doesn't have the ability to miss bats or avoid home runs anymore, and his command is good but not at the level necessary to excel in spite of his other numerous issues. Given that the Brewers are already wasting $14.5M on Jeff Suppan for next season already, exercising Looper's option would've amounted to spending $20M on two pitchers that probably don't even deserve rotation spots.

I can't imagine that the Brewers considered his option that seriously, but given some of the talk around the game, now Brewer fans can rest easy knowing that they won't have to watch Looper and Suppan go back-to-back again.

Granderson to the Angels?

Earlier today, Ken Davidoff of Newsday reported that the Angels and Tigers have discussed a deal that would send star center fielder Curtis Granderson to Los Angeles.

While Granderson could certainly be an impact addition for the Angels, I find the interest to be rather odd. The Angels could certainly use Granderson's power in their lineup, and an outfield of Granderson/Hunter/Abreu with Rivera at DH is superior defensively than their current alignment, but I'm not sure if the upgrade is worth what the Tigers will likely expect in a deal.

The Angels' farm system doesn't really compare to what it once was, their best prospects, Jordan Walden, Trevor Reckling, Hank Conger, Peter Bourjos, Mike Trout and Randall Grichuk, among others, all have numerous flaws, none would be considered among the best in the game.

The Tigers would likely want some players that can immediately have an impact in return for Granderson, so it may be likely that the Angels would have to include either Mike Napoli, Brandon Wood or Erick Aybar in an offer to Granderson in order to make it work. At that point, I seriously question whether the deal is worth making for LA.

Certainly, Granderson is an above-average all-around center fielder, but he's not nearly as valuable if he's being moved to left field, and he's also essentially worthless against left-handed pitchers. Look at his splits from 2007-2009:

RHP: .301/.378/.562 in 1350 at bats
LHP: .202/.261/.309 in 446 at bats

I just don't see why the Angels would go out of their way to spend talent and money on Granderson when they already have a solid outfield, and some of the best prospects in their farm system are outfielders, too.

If the Angels decide that they're willing to give up some of their best young pieces to add an impact player, they should probably target someone that's a better all-around hitter, and someone that won't be forced to move from an up-the-middle defensive position to a corner spot, where his value isn't as high. Why not target someone like Josh Johnson or Adam Dunn if they're interested in adding an impact player, those guys seem to better fit their short-term needs?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Matt Joyce Should Be Playing Everyday

Certainly, most people will consider the Tigers to be the winner of last winter's Edwin Jackson-for-Matt Joyce swap, given that Jackson finally was able to get a handle on his impressive power stuff and have the breakout that analysts had been talking about before he was legally able to drink.

But people seem to be quickly forgetting that Matt Joyce is actually an awfully good player. In 2008, after posting a .270/.352/.550 line in 227 PA in AAA, he was called up to Detroit and posted an impressive .252/.339/.492 line in 277 PA. He had some trouble with strikeouts, but his walk rate was solid, and he's an above average defender in right and left field.

In spite of this, after being traded to Tampa, he was quickly demoted to AAA, where he would toil for the majority of the season, getting only 37 PA with the Rays. His offensive performance wasn't as impressive superficially, he posted a .273/.373/.482 line with Durham, but he improved his walk rate while cutting down on his strikeout rate, and he still showed plus power, so it's tough to argue that Joyce regressed in any way.

I just don't see how this guy can still be in the minor leagues any longer. Not only is he a patient hitter with some pop, but he's an above average defender that's had success at the ML level for a relatively significant period of time, and he's continued to thrive in AAA.

Considering that he's not due to become a free agent until after the 2014 season, he could be a great addition to some team if he doesn't get a spot on the Rays. Given that Ben Zobrist will likely take over as Tampa's permanent everyday second baseman next year, I wouldn't be surprised to see Joyce as Tampa's everyday right fielder to start next season, with an eye on moving him to left field when Desmond Jennings is ready and Carl Crawford departs, whether that's through a trade or free agency.

But if the Rays aren't willing to commit to Joyce as an everyday outfielder now, then he could be a great acquisition for some team that's in need of a long-term solution in a corner outfield spot.

Please, somebody give this guy an everyday job.

Should Cubs Non-Tender Fontenot?

News came out this morning that Cubs second baseman Mike Fontenot reached Super Two status for this offseason, meaning that he'll now be arbitration eligible for 2010, along with the expected 2011 through 2013 seasons. This means that, in spite of his disappointing season, Fontenot is in line for a raise from his $430K salary for next season, possibly into the $2M range.

Given that the Cubs have extremely limited payroll flexibility (especially if they flush dollars down the drain on John Grabow.. ugh), it's questionable if Fontenot is worth keeping around. Obviously, the Cubs should release Aaron Miles first and foremost, he should have been released the day after he was signed, but retaining Fontenot is no longer as obvious as it once was.

He's a good defender at second base, and he has solid plate discipline, but he has a big platoon split, and it's pretty questionable if he's a capable everyday player at this point. When he was making around the league minimum, he was certainly worth keeping around, but given that the Cubs already have Jeff Baker on the roster, it's questionable if Fontenot is still worth keeping around if a raise is necessary. But given that Baker has a platoon split as well, it doesn't appear that the Cubs have a legitimate everyday second baseman on their roster.

I wouldn't be remotely surprsied if he was kept around or let go, but at this point, I think that the Cubs are more likely to look elsewhere for a second baseman going into 2010. There are numerous options that could fit if things play out right (guys like Orlando Hudson, or even Luis Castillo), but the Cubs should probably focus on the outfield more so than second base.

One possible solution: a platoon of Fontenot versus RHP, and Baker versus LHP. Fontenot has posted a .273/.348/.436 line against righties in 729 at bats in past three seasons, and Baker has posted a .275/.332/.509 against lefties in 222 at bats over the same time period, so between those two they could potentially have a solid second baseman platoon, keeping the price tag at that position relatively low, even with Fontenot's raise.

Orioles should stay away from Uggla, DeRosa

Word has been going around baseball that the Orioles are looking at external options at third base, in order to fill the hole left by the departed Melvin Mora. While top 3B prospect Josh Bell isn't quite ready to jump into the majors, he's close enough that spending money to add one of the marquee third basemen on the market would be a mistake.

Certainly, the Orioles could use help at third base in the short-term, going into next season with Ty Wigginton at third, Michael Aubrey at first and Luke Scott at DH isn't exactly ideal, especially considering that Wigginton is a horrid defender at third, with a -16.4 UZR/150 in 566 games at the position.

The lack of options would make one think that adding someone like Dan Uggla or Mark DeRosa could be a good addition, filling the hole until Bell is ready. But realistically, there would be few benefits to adding one of those guys. The Orioles are highly unlikely to contend in 2010, their rotation is greatly dependent on the volatile Jeremy Guthrie, a repeat of Brad Bergesen's breakout season, and the continued development of stud prospects Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman.

Given the competition in that division, it seems highly unlikely that improvement at third base would make a legitimate difference in the short term. So what exactly would the Orioles gain from spending valuable resources on a player that wouldn't bring them particularly closer to contending, while blocking arguably their best prospect in the upper levels of the minors?

Bell already has a very developed approach at the plate, he posted a 13.0% walk rate in AA, while flashing plus power and the ability to be above average defensively at third base, although he's not there yet. Given his developed approach and the likeliness that he'll stick at third, it seems that the Orioles should be planning on having him as their everyday third baseman by 2011, with the idea of spending that extra payroll to fill in other holes in the lineup, like the massive gaping hole at shortstop and depth in the starting rotation.

No need for the Orioles to add a marquee third baseman, they already have one with those kind of capabilities in AAA that should be ready within a year.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Could the Mets Trade for Aaron Harang?

Clearly, the Mets are in need of another high-end starter behind Johan Santana, so that Mike Pelfrey, John Maine, Oliver Perez and Jonathan Niese can figure out the back of the rotation. The lack of high-quality pitching in the upper levels of their farm system was abundantly evident last season, and pitching is obviously one of their primary targets for this offseason.

One suggestion to fix that issue is to trade for Reds right-hander Aaron Harang. It's likely that the Reds are listening on Harang given that there have been reports that the Reds are considering dealing their highest paid players, Harang, 2B Brandon Phillips, SP Bronson Arroyo, and closer Francisco Cordero, in order to gain payroll flexibility.

Harang should appeal to the Mets not only because his price is relatively reasonable, he's due $12.5M in 2010, plus a $12.75M option for 2011 with a $2M buyout attached, and that price tag should keep the return that Cincinnati expects to be relatively low.

Harang has consistently been one of the better starters in the NL, in spite of his volatile ERA, posting xFIP numbers of 3.96, 4.39, 3.81 and 3.89 in the past four seasons. A lot of issues come from being a flyball pitcher that's in a hitter's ballpark, and moving to CitiField could immediately bring his numbers back to their 2005-2007 level, making him a fantastic number 2 behind Santana.

A move to CitiField could definitely help Harang, and playing with an improved defense behind him could make a difference as well. If the Mets are desperate for a legitimate 2/3 starter and they don't want to give John Lackey a long-term deal, then making a deal for Harang could make a lot of sense.

Considering Jose Reyes' injury issues and his free agency looming, the Mets may not want to deal shortstop prospect Ruben Tejada, who should likely be ready by the time that Reyes would be able to depart in free agency, but he could possibly interest the Reds as a centerpiece, they don't have much at shortstop, with Janish in the majors and Chris Valaika struggling in AAA.

Randy Winn Deserves Attention

Randy Winn certainly isn't one of the marquee free agents of the 2010 offseason, but he should end up being an awfully solid signing for somebody.

Given that he's coming off a relatively poor offensive season, he likely won't be asking for big money or multiple years, but he should still be expected to play at a high level for somebody. He's a plus defender in the outfield, especially in right field, where he has a +16.4 UZR/150 in 516 games at the position.

And his offense should bounce back some next season as well. He doesn't have much power, but he does have solid gap power, he hit over 50 extra-base hits in every season from 2002 to 2008, and his home run total should go back up next season, that 1.4% HR/FB ratio isn't remotely sustainable, it's due for some regression into the 8-10% range.

Given that he's a plus defender, an above-average baserunner with the ability to steal 20-25 bases at a high rate, and a hitter with the ability to get on base and hit doubles at a decent rate, he should probably be targeted by numerous teams this offseason that don't want to spend big money on Holliday or Bay, or even mid-ranged money on guys like Mike Cameron or Marlon Byrd.

He could be a good fit on teams like the Cardinals, Mets, Cubs, White Sox, Braves or Mariners, among other teams that are looking at outfielders, and I don't think that he would be able to land more than a one-year deal at this point.

Kila Ka'aihue has nothing left to learn in AAA

Last offseason, the Royals made a very questionable series of trades, moving young relievers Ramon Ramirez and Leo Nunez in separate deals for Coco Crisp and non-tender candidate Mike Jacobs. While the Crisp deal was at least defensible on some level, the Royals certainly were in need of a consistent, solid center fielder, but the Jacobs deal was awful.

Not only did the Royals give up a hard-throwing young reliever for a 1B/DH that was coming off a .299 OBP season, but in doing so, they blocked 25-year-old first baseman Kila Ka'aihue. While Ka'aihue doesn't have a lot of power potential, he does an excellent job of taking pitches and getting on base, and he's flashed enough power to get by given his other skills. In 2008, the season before the Jacobs deal, Ka'aihue posted a .314/.463/.624 line in 376 PA in AA, with a 21.8% walk rate, and a .316/.439/.640 line in 114 PA in AAA, with a 17.4% walk rate.

Clearly, Ka'aihue was ready to get at-bats at the major league level, but the Royals chose to overpay in talent for a power threat that doesn't get on base and can't play defense. Jacobs would post a .305 wOBA and a -0.7 WAR on the season, reinforcing the poor evaluations within Kansas City's front office.

Turning 26 in March, Ka'aihue definitely deserves an everyday shot somewhere, whether that's with the Royals or somewhere else, like Cleveland, San Francisco, Atlanta, or New York. While he wasn't able to repeat his impressive power production and contact ability in AAA in 2009, he still had an impressive eye, with 102 walk and 85 strikeouts in 555 PA, and a very impressive 18.8% walk rate. He may be limited in terms of raw power and he's not much of a defender, even at first base, but the bat should still play at the designated hitter spot because of his ability to get on base.

The Royals have started the offseason off surprisingly well, as they've already made smart moves in declining the options on Crisp, Olivo and Yabuta, and the Teahen for Fields/Getz trade added two potentially solid pieces to the organization. Now the Royals just need to non-tender Jacobs, give Ka'aihue the DH spot, and let Fields back up Ka'aihue, Butler and Gordon. No need to play around at those positions anymore.

Curtis Granderson Available in Trade?

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Detroit Tigers have let teams know that star center fielder Curtis Granderson is available for the right price.

Granderson has been one of the better center fielders in the game since emerging in 2006, and his 2007 performance was among the best of the decade, as he posted an astonishing 38 doubles, 23 triples, 23 home runs and 26 steals, accumulating to a .395 wOBA from a plus defender in center, and a 7.4 WAR for the season.

Granderson is realistically more of a 3-4 WAR player, but his combination of upside and a relatively cheap long-term contract make him probably the most attractive piece that the Tigers will consider moving this offseason. The major concern with Granderson is the apparent change in his approach, as he began to hit far more flyballs.

While the change in approach led Granderson to hit 30 home runs for the first time in his career, he also posted a .249 BA and a .327 OBP, underwhelming for someone that was considered a cornerstone of the organization fairly recently. He posted a good walk rate, his .276 BABIP is certainly due for some regression considering his line drive rate, and his 13.0% infield fly rate is very flukish as well.

Granderson is still an impact bat and a solid defender in center, so he's certainly a big time trade piece when you consider his reasonable contract, which pays him $23M through 2012 with a $13M team option that has a $2M buyout attached to it.

Certainly, any team with a hole in center field will look to see what the price is on Granderson, because guys like him rarely hit the market with a reasonable price tag attached to them.

Another big question is who would replace Granderson if he's dealt? Presumably, the Tigers would give Wilkin Ramirez a try in center field, but it's questionable if he's ready given that he posted a .326 OBP in AAA in 2009, in spite of posting a .347 BABIP mark.

As far as I can tell, if the Tigers are forced to deal Granderson because of financial issues, then the front office should really consider replacing Dombrowski. His track record of big-money signings and extensions (Sheffield, Willis, Robertson, Guillen, Ordonez, Robertson, Bonderman, and at times, Inge) is pitiful, and the majority of the impact prospects that the team has developed are ones that were added through big-money draft bonuses, guys like Verlander, Porcello, Maybin and Miller.

Lyle Overbay to the Mariners?

Recently, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports reported that the Mariners and Blue Jays are discussing a deal that would land 1B Lyle Overbay in Seattle.

Certainly, such a deal could make sense for the Blue Jays, who have been looking to shed payroll for a while now, even after ridding themselves of Scott Rolen and Alex Rios. Overbay isn't really overpaid at $7M for 2010, but he lacks the top-notch power that is generally expected from the first base position. He makes up for the lack of home run power with good plate discipline (14.9% walk rate in 2009) and decent gap power (30+ doubles in each of the past six years), he's durable, and he's solid defensively, so he's certainly worthy of everyday time.

I'm not sure that he fits into the Mariners' lineup perfectly, they really lack impact power in that lineup, especially with the departure of Adrian Beltre, but the Mariners could certainly use every good bat that they can find, especially if you consider that they resigned Ken Griffey Jr. earlier this afternoon.

I wouldn't be remotely surprised to see the Blue Jays deal Overbay this winter, not only to free up payroll, but also some playing time. Assuming that the Jays tender Edwin Encarnacion a contract, they'll have to find playing time for Encarnacion, Vernon Wells, Travis Snider, Adam Lind, Randy Ruiz and Jose Bautista between first base, third base, the outfield, and designated hitter.

Overbay is a nice piece, but realistically, the Jays aren't going to be contending in 2010, and trying to get some value for him now could be a nice first move by Alex Anthopolous.

Opening Post

Hey to anyone who actually stumbles upon this site, I've just started it as a hobby, but I'm pretty excited to see how this goes. Hopefully this blog can lead to some nice discussion, and I think that somebody out there is bound to be interested in what I write. I may not be Dave Cameron, Keith Law or R.J. Anderson, but I hope that I have something to contribute.