Thoughts following some moves around MLB

Fan Confidence Poll: December 10th, 2012
The Forgotten DH Opening
(Jeff Gross/Getty)

The Yankees may or may not be close to signing Kevin Youkilis and re-signing Ichiro Suzuki, but for the most part they’ve sat on their hands on the position player side of things this offseason. Other teams around the league have been making moves though, including some rather significant moves this weekend that will indirectly impact New York.

1. I’ve been a Yankees fan my whole life and have grown accustomed to seeing them spend millions and millions of dollars every offseason, especially in the last 10-12 years or so. That said, what the Dodgers have done over the last calendar year is mind-blowing.

The Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten-led Guggenheim Baseball Management group invested more than $200M in two pitchers over the weekend, first signing Zack Greinke for six years and $147M (with an opt-out after three years!) and then signing Korean left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu for six years and $36M on top of the $25.7M+ posting fee. Back in August they absorbed more than $260M in their trade with the Red Sox, and in July they took on Hanley Ramirez’s contract ($35M+) as well. Matt Kemp inked a $160M extension last offseason, but that was under Frank McCourt.

As a baseball fan, this is a blast to watch. The Yankees have gone on similar spending sprees (the 2003-2004 and 2008-2009 offseasons stand out) but I was invested in that as a fan. I looked at the potential risk and reward of each move, how it would impact the rest of the roster, how much it improved their chances, all that stuff. With the Dodgers, I don’t care. It’s fun to watch a team spend like crazy and not worry at all about the consequences should things go wrong. It’s awesome.

2. One thing I don’t believe is being said enough about the Rays-Royals blockbuster is that Tampa is taking a huge risk. We can argue whether Jamie Shields is an ace all day, but he’s an extremely durable top 20-25 pitcher who is capable of having an ace-like year, and those guys are very hard to find. The Rays have a lot of rotation depth and young pieces to plug into his rotation spot, but they’re unlikely to find someone capable of matching his production in 2013. They gave up the sure thing in this trade — Wade Davis is awesome in the bullpen but just okay as a starter, he won’t be nearly as tough to replace — and got back a bunch of guys with no MLB track record. Like I said last night, they’re going to take a hit in 2013 and hope they’ve improved in 2014 and beyond.

(Christian Petersen/Getty)

3. Wil Myers is awesome and there’s at least a small chance he turns into Ryan Braun, but he did strike out 140 times last season (~24% of plate appearances). That’s a lot of whiffs for top two or three hitting prospect. Just to use Jesus Montero as an example (since we’re all familiar with him) — he struck out only 99 times this year and never cracked triple-digits in the minors. He did whiff 115 times split between Triple-A and MLB last year, but that’s his career-high. Myers has a different skillset than Montero (the willingness to actually take a walk, specifically), but having a high strikeout rate like that against Double-A and Triple-A pitching is a red flag for a high-end hitting prospect.

4. As for the Royals, their only real path to the postseason is to win the division. There are too many good teams in the AL East and AL West to count on one of those two wildcard spots, yet the Tigers are such a better team. GM Dayton Moore is clearly trying to win now because his job is presumably on the line, but they need an awful lot more than Shields and Davis and Jeremy Guthrie to make it work. Ervin Santana needs to pitch like he did in 2011 and not 2012, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas need to step up and start living up to their promise, and a whole bunch of other things needs to happen for them to make a serious run at contention. Overall, I don’t think the Myers-for-Shields framework is bad, but the Royals aren’t really in a position to swing that type of deal. They’re not one (or even two) pitcher away yet.

Fan Confidence Poll: December 10th, 2012
The Forgotten DH Opening
  • Robinson Tilapia

    Even with a young core, there’s still a limited window to win before those players start becoming more expensive and get seen as not living up to their potential. I don’t think the Royals have as long as others do before talk or retooling occurs.

    Mike, you were very high on Moutsakas for a long time. Will that core of him and Hosmer and Gordon and Butler and Perez, along with some improved veteran pitching, get it together in time? This is why I like the deal for KC. No matter what Myers may become, I do think the top-of-the-rotation standby is more important for that team than another young player who may, or may not, live up to his billing.

    This is definitely a huge risk for Tampa, probably somewhat mitigated by their probably not re-signing Shields anyway, but they used two years before that possibility to fire this bullet. They must really like this Myers kid, and he better be worth it.

    Spending is easy. Winning is harder. Good luck to Donnie and LA. If it wasn’t for Donnie at the helm, I’d root for them to fall flat on their faces.

    •!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      I don’t love or hate the trade for either side, but if Myers becomes Braun – TB wins. I think that the two years had to be considered in the package they got back. If it’s one year, maybe they don’t get Myers back. But yes, I get your point. As Mike said, Shields is the known quantity here.

      Why would you root against LA? You wanna be like those dudes that hate on the Yanks just because they spend?!

      • Robinson Tilapia

        I’m actually not quite sure how much I like SoCal in general. Much more fond of the Bay Area.

        Wouldn’t it be fun, though, to root against another team for the same reason people root against two of yours (Yanks and Heat, in my case)? :)

        •!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

          SoCal was great. Not sure I could live there full-time though. A little too laid back for me. Never been to San Fran or anything up there, but I’ve only heard good things.

          Well, I hate the Heat, but that’s mainly due to the whole Lebron spurning NY thing. Nah, I typically just dislike the teams that either have players that I don’t like or have an effect on NYY. To each their own though!

          • Laz

            That whole televised decision threw Lebron down the tube for me.

      • MannyGeee (celery cap manager)

        “but if Myers becomes Braun – TB wins”

        Dont forget, there is only a slightly better chance of Myers becoming Ryan Braun than say…. Charlie Sheen becoming Ryan Braun.

        Prospects are prospects. show me something against real ML pitching before we crown him.

        • Laz

          True usually, but look up Baseball America’s minor league player of the year. He is in some very good company there.

          • Mr. Hyperbole

            Not sure an arbitrary award has much predictive power. One could also make a market efficiency argument for voters collectively having a good idea of how a player will do, but being the top player one year doesn’t necessarily make you a top 10 player another.

            • Tom

              Just because something has some degree of subjectivity, it is not “arbitrary” – they are not just picking names out of a hat with no rhyme or reason.

              It’s done mainly by people who make a living covering prospects. It might not be 100% predictive but just because something isn’t 100% predictive it is not rendered meaningless or arbitrary.

              When you look at the past 10 winners – all but one has at least the floor of an average player. Does that mean Wil Myers is 100% guaranteed to be at least an average MLB player or the next superstar? Of course not, but it also doesn’t render it meaningless like some folks seem to want to make it out to be.

              The award may be less predictive of stardom, but it has done a pretty strong job of predicting at least a floor of an average MLB’r.

  • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

    The Rays were never going to sign Shields long term and got quite a haul for trading his 2 years of control. It’s a risk, no doubt, since no one they’re getting back is major league proven but given their revenue and payroll situation, it’s a move they really have to make since they can’t afford to let players like Shields ultimately walk away for just a draft pick.

    As for taking a step back in 2013, that’s probably true but it may not be as big a step as you might think with all of their pitching depth.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      They could have chosen any time in the next two seasons to have traded him, though, and chose this moment, rather early on. They may have gotten even a bigger haul had this been a deadline deal to a certified contended, etc.

      They got a strong prospect who, in the end, is still a prospect. I’m not quite sure why everyone is saying this is that big a haul. That’s exactly the type of player, plus some, James Shields should get you.

      Maybe some folks just don’t think that much of Shields.

      • Curt and Bernie

        They also saved 10 million this year, which presumably they will use to sign a hitter who will improve their team this year. I’m thinking that maybe they’ll use that 10 million and dig a little into their pockets to sign Swisher.

      • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

        The last 4 years he’s been worth:
        2.2 bWAR

        He’s a solid middle of the rotation starter, not really close to elite though.

      • Jake

        Looks at Sheilds’ home/road splits. There’s a really chance that when he is no longer pitching in that ballpark in front of that defense, he is really a 3/4, not a 2. Those guys are valuable, but not worth what the Royals just gave up.

      • Ted Nelson

        I don’t share some people’s belief that Myers is already Babe Ruth, but I also don’t think that Tampa was doing any better than this in a trade.

        • Mr Strawman

          Yeah it is truly unbelieveble how so many people already think he is Babe Ruth.

          • Mr. Hyperbole

            There are millions of them commenting on here.

  • vin

    I think Joe Maddon said it best on Twitter this morning… (paraphrasing) he hates losing Shields and Davis, but this is how the Rays have to operate.

    Count me amond those who dislike the move for KC. It’s nice to have Shields, but I think it would’ve made more sense to try and sign a guy like Anibal Sanchez. Maybe they tried and were rebuffed, I don’t know.

    I think the KC critics have two points of contention with this deal…
    1) they appeared to pay too much
    2) the timing seems about a year premature

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Sanchez is going to cost you MUCH more than Shields, and I’m not sure I’d rather have him, even in the short term.

      • vin

        But he only costs you money… which is what Shields will cost the Royals if they re-sign him. And if they don’t intend on re-signing him, then why make the move now?

        I’d rather buy a starter like Sanchez now, then see where you stand either at mid-season or next offseason.

        I do think there’s a tendency among us to underrate Shields because we’ve seen so much of him over the years, and he doesn’t have the grade-A pedigree of Price, Weaver, Felix, etc.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          He doesn’t? In my mind, he does. I’m sure someone could pull out some stats that say otherwise, though.

          Sanchez, if he gets what he wants, will cost you a whole lot more money for a whole lot less proven value.

          We’ll see where this stands five years from now but, right now, both teams seem like they got what they were looking for. I, right now, like this more from KC’s end.

          • vin

            I would definitely say he doesn’t have the same pedigree as the guys I mentioned. Which is not to say anything about who he is now, but rather how some of us perceive him. He came up when the Devil Rays stunk, and he’s just always been “there.” Then when you thought he had become a top of the line starter, he had a clunker in 2010 (tons of HRs).

            I think you’re underrating Sanchez. He’s 2 years older, and has been quite good for the last 3 years.

          • Preston

            Man I couldn’t disagree more, the Royals are not going to compete this year or next. They were bad at producing runs, 676 runs scored (12th in the AL) and bad at preventing runs 746 allowed(10th in the AL). This wasn’t a good offensive team that needed to get starting pitching to get over the hump. This is a bad team. They have to bridge that -70 runs just to be around .500. They have transformed their pitching staff, but it isn’t elite, more like above average. I doubt that James Shields, a full season of Guthrie and whatever they can get out of Santana and Davis takes off 70 runs. They need an offensive upgrade as well. The easiest way for them to improve their offense was to get rid of the suck that is Jeff Franceour in favor of elite prospect Wil Myers in RF and hope for Hosmer and Moustakas to take a step forward in the next coupe of years. Now they’ve traded away their best chance at an upgrade, and shortened their window to win with this roster to two years. And this isn’t a trade to help them now, and hope that their pitching develops, because they included their two best pitching prospects in the trade too.

            • YanksFanInBeantown

              Exactly, it would make sense if they were a Jamie Shields away from a playoff spot, but they aren’t.

    • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

      I’m not saying it’s right but there has to be some desperation in KC to put a winner on the field. That team hasn’t been to the playoffs since 1985 and has only had 1 winning season in the last 19.

      I love the Yankees but I think I certainly wouldn’t follow baseball closely if they didn’t make the playoffs again until 2039.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        And those guys won’t be young and cheap forever.

        I know I’m certainly not young and cheap anymore.

        • jjyank

          So you’re saying that you’ll give me a discount? An early bird special?

      • Chris in Maine


      • All Praise Be To Mo

        So if the Yankees didn’t make the playoffs for 20 something years you wouldn’t follow them? I hope you and the many other “fans” like this hold true to that threat so I can actually afford to go to a game and get good seats again like when I grew up in the 80’s and we were horrible.

  • Rich in NJ

    Sheilds is good, but not great; it was smart to move him for that they got back. I am far more interested in how the Rays deal with Price.

    • vin

      You mean Future Yankee David Price?

      • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

        More like future Dodger Dave Price.

        • 42isNotMortal

          If the Dodgers somehow made that happen today, I’m guessing they would then have the only 9 man rotation in history.

          Varisty – Kershaw, Price, Greinke, Ryu, Beckett

          Junior V. – C Cap, Billingsley, Lilly, Harang

          Funny part about that is in the cavernous NL West (exception being Coors), I could see the JV crew posting a cumulative ERA under 4.

          • MannyGeee (celery cap manager)

            They would trade Lilly & Harang for a bag of balls each (or stash them in AAA until the deadline where the aforementioned bag of balls deal happens), play Cap as the long man and Billingsly would be the centerpiece of a trade for Joe Mauer or some shit.

            • Dr. Jake Rosenstein

              Lily & Harang don’t have options. They can’t be “stashed” in AAA. FWIW, they’re reportedly shopping Capuano and Harang as we speak.

          • vin

            I agree with your last point. Spending lots of money for a guy to pitch for the Dodgers, is like the Red Sox paying a premium for a RH pull hitter. It’s probably not the best use of a team’s resources. Fortunately for the Dodgers, they have unlimited resources.

  • vin

    Loved reading this from Olney today:
    “One of their new owners told one of the Dodgers’ front office executives that his goal is to have an All-Star at every position, and they are close to making that happen. ”

    We know first-hand that having an all-star at every position doesn’t guarantee a damn thing… but it does make reaching the playoffs MUCH more likely. Unfortunately, in baseball you get diminishing returns.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      If they fall, they are going to fall HARD.

      • MannyGeee (celery cap manager)

        Its gonna be awesome to see. Like, Red Sox collapse Chicken and Beer awesome

        • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

          I don’t hate the Dodgers though so the collapse would never be as enjoyable as with the Red Sux.

        • vin

          Nothing will be as great as that collapse.

    • Dr. Jake Rosenstein

      They very well might win it all…with that pitching staff of Kershaw, Greinke, Beckett et al. Which would in turn shine a very bad light on Cashman and the Yankees braintrust who failed to win with this very formula for all but 1 year in the past decade. The difference is having a young ace like Kershaw. The Achilles Heel for the Cashman regime has always been pitching evaluation. Hopefully we turn the corner on that soon.

      • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

        No. The Achilles heel has always been the ARod contract.

        • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

          Arod contract is the albatross around his neck. Cashman’s lack of acumen in evaluating starting pitching has been his achilles heel.

  • DERP

    I can’t stand the fact that Myers prefers to spell his name as Wil rather than Will.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      “Wil Nieves’s #1 Fan” in 3…2….

    • Dr. Jake Rosenstein

      And that he spells his last name with out 2 E’s.

  • KeithK

    It’s a lot more interesting as a baseball fan to watch a guy like Billy Beane construct a winning roster while working under constraints. Even better would be watching GMs work in a world where all decisions were based on baseball value and not financial. But that’s a pipedream.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Oh, I agree. Where that stops being interesting to me, though, is when those same teams get cut off at the knees because they can’t keep those players they brought up. I like being able to reload, not tear down and build back up again.

      This is what I hope the Yankees are slowly working their way to.

      • KeithK

        Agreed. It sucks when a team can’t team it’s superstar players, the kind of guy who ought to spend his whole career with a team and be the face of the franchise. As a Yankee fan I’m grateful that guys like Jeter and Rivera were never going to go anywhere else.

  • Gonzo

    I understand the trade from both perspectives. Sure the Rays gave up two years of Shields. They probably could have waited until next offseason to trade him. Not mid-season because more than likely they will be in the playoff hunt and that would send the wrong message.

    However, there is a risk of waiting until next offseason for Shields. He turns 31 this month, he has pitched 200+innings the past 6 years in a row, and he had major shoulder surgery early in his career. There is risk for the Rays in holding Shields for the entire season.

    I’d like the deal more for the Royals if they were closer to contention, but seeing how the White Sox competed in that division this season, it’s not impossible to seeing them make a run. I don’t think it’s as close as they think, but that doesn’t matter. Myers is great, but he has risks and I can think of maybe 5 minor leaguers I’d want more than him. Odorizzi might be a 3/4 or he might be exactly what Wade Davis is in a couple of years.

    Gotta give to get. No pain, no trade.

  • Robert

    Its gonna be a long year in the Bronx,Long live the New Evil Empire in The Dodgers of LA.
    Seriously though which one of our Minor league prospects has the best chance to win a Job with a lights out Spring Training Camp. I say Pitcher Mark Montgomery and position player Slade Healthcott!!!!

    • forensic

      Slade heathcott, with zero games above high A, has a shot to make the big team? No chance whatsoever that happens.

    • MannyGeee (celery cap manager)

      I would say its Melky Mesa, Austin Head O’ Lettuce or Chris Dickerson, just based on need of the big club and where they land in the pecking order…. but nah, go with Slade. Great narratives FTW!

    • vin

      Anyone else catch the ironic typo? Healthcott :(

      • Fernando

        “Health”cott. That wasn’t as good as yesterday typo of “celery cap”. Is Austin “Lettuce” Romine part of the celery cap?

        • jjyank

          “celery” wasn’t a typo, that was Big Member.

  • Mike

    Yankees, Angels and Cubs all opt out of StubHub, although it says in the articles you can still purchase tickets off of StubHub.

    Of course ESPN with their headline seems to want to single out the Yankees

    • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

      So where do we go now to buy tickets on the secondary market?

      • MannyGeee (celery cap manager)

        why… through RAB Tickets, of course…

        /shameless plug, you’re welcome RAB!

      • Havok9120

        They are supposedly going to make a deal with Ticketmaster. When that’s going to happen, however….

      • pat

        TicketsNow will likely become the official resale partner. As far as fans are concerned it will function the same as StubHub (including season account integration and fraud protection)in that you will be able to post tickets directly from your account to TicketsNow. This move is almost 100% due to StubHub being unwilling to institute a price floor. Seeing as though TicketsNow is owned and run by TicketMaster they have a face value floor on all sales meaning you won’t be able to find tix cheaper on TN than TicketMaster. StubHub is still basically a free market, but I’m willing to bet that the Yanks and other teams will enforce a hard line “no customer service for StubHub rule” meaning if someone has any sort of problem with a ticket from StubHub they are SOL and will not be assisted at the Yankees customer service window.

        • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

          So in other words, this is bad for us non season ticket holders looking for cheap tickets.

          • pat

            Well, as long as your StubHub transaction goes smoothly and you print up the tickets you should be OK. Ticket holders are still going to post on SH for below face just to get rid of tix so they don’t eat them. You just gotta make sure you print them before hand and hope the account holder didn’t print other copies or sell on TicketsNow directly through their account.

            • pat

              But yeah, it’s basically TicketMaster further trying to take over and monopolize every aspect of the ticketing world. They’ll have team cooperation too.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            This is giving me a headache. I don’t want to think about right now.

            *thinks about something else*

  • matt montero

    Anyone else hoping the Dodgers sign Youk? I just want no part of him (nothing to do with him being a Red Sox, just worried how effective he will be plus injuries).

    • vin

      If the Yanks don’t get him, what do you recommend they do? It seems like Youk is the last girl at the thirdbase bar.

    • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

      Then who do you want to play 3B for the Yankees next year?

    • Gonzo

      I kinda wish the Dodgers sign everyone.

      • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

        That strategy has never been tried. Sign everyone and force your competition to field a bunch of AAA players.

        • Havok9120

          This is brilliant. I demand that someone try this on Out of the Park baseball or something.

          Alternatively, the Dodgers should feel free to try it in real life, as that would be awesome.

        • Robinson Tilapia
          • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

            See how committed George was to winning unlike his offspring tweedle dee and tweedle dum.

    • Laz

      He is their best option at this point, now with Reynolds off the board too. Maybe he isn’t worth the salary, but it is a 1 year deal, and it’s not my money. It won’t affect the payroll, and maybe they get lucky and he really bounces back and gets a qualifying offer.

    • matt montero

      I completely understand he’s the best non-trade option. Honestly, I have no idea what they will do. I just want to see what happens if they don’t get him. They will obviously have to do something. I can’t envision them going into the season with essentially dead-weight at 2 positions.

      Also, it would be awesome if the Dodgers signed him, just to make their offseason and payroll more ridiculous.

  • vin

    Just had probably my most brilliant idea of the day. The Dodgers should make an all-out push for Brian Cashman. He’s under contract for 2 more years, but we’ve seen front office staff move around recently. In all honesty, the Dodgers’ biggest weakness is Ned Colletti. Who has more experience running a mega budget franchise than Cash?

    • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

      Cashman for a C, 3B, and RF.

    • CS Yankee

      Cash for Ker, FTW

      Reality, Cash wouldn’t net their 10th best prospect.

      Keep Cash, sign Hamilton if you want a solid shot at getting to 2013 WS…if not trade Cano & Grandy an net some low costs studs for 2015’s team and they’ll still field a team better than the 2012 BoSox

  • Laz

    I think the trade works out slightly in the Rays favor until you see that it now opens up $13M in 2013 and $17M in 2014 for the Rays. That is some real piece of money for a team that already has a low payroll.

  • Opus

    I was listening to ESPN radio on Friday and whoever the sportswriter was (I think it was Buster Olney) said that a lot of scouts believe that Myers’ numbers will not come close to translating to the big leagues. I saw a Royals blog discussing the trade yesterday and they said Myers would definitely be an everyday player, but most likely would not turn out to be a superstar.

  • Tony_Turdner

    RE Montero:

    “He did whiff 115 times split between Triple-A and MLB last year, but that’s his career-high.”

    Not quite certain what you are trying to say here, as Montero spent all 162 games on Seattle’s 25 man roster last year. He never spent one single day at AAA. (If you are talking about 2011, I get it, but that wasn’t “last year”.)