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Archive for November, 2007

Delmon Young/Matt Garza Deal: Overrated, Anything but Blockbuster

Friday, November 30th, 2007

              Delmon Young       Matt Garza

I’ve been following the baseball pundits for the past few days as they trumpet the Delmon Young/Matt Garza multi-player Minnesota, Tampa Bay deal as a blockbuster.  But the deal is anything but a blockbuster, not even on paper.

Let’s look at the main attractions in the deal; Minnesota gets centerfielder Young and Tampa Bay cops Garza.

Delmon Young’s numbers look like this; 186 hits, 645 ABs, .288 BA, 13 HRs, 93 RBIs, 65 Runs, 10 SB, but check this out - 127 strikeouts, only 26 BBs, .316 OBP and .408 SLG in his first full MLB season.

Let’s compare Young’s stats for 2007 with a few other regular centerfielders;

Carlos Beltran, Mets;
153 hits, 554 AB, .276 BA, 33 HRs, 112 RBIs, 93 Runs, 23 SB, 111 Strikeouts, 69 BBs, .353 OBP,.525 SLG.

Melky Cabrera, Yankees, 149 Hits, 545 AB, .273 BA, 8 HRs, 73 RBIs, 66 Runs, 13 SB, 68 Strikeouts, 43 BBs, .327 OBP, .391 SLG.

Johnny Damon, Yankees, 144 hits, 533 ABs, .270 BA, 12 HRs, 63 RBIs, 93 Runs, 27 SB, 79 Strikouts, 63 BBs, .351 OBP, .396 SLG 
 
Torii Hunter (formerly with Twins) Angels, 600 AB, 172 hits, .287 BA, 28 HRs, 107 RBIs, 94 Runs, 18 SB, 101 Strikeouts, 40 BBs, .334 OBP, .505 SLG

Aaron Rowand, Phillies, 612 ABs, 189 Hits, .309 BA, 27 HRs, 89 RBIs, 105 Runs, 6 SB, 119 Strikeouts, 47 BBs, .374 OBP, .515 SLG

While Young’s upside potential is tremendous, it is so far only on paper. And while his defensive powess is noted in Wikipedia, so is the controversy which followed him in the minor leagues via run-ins with umpires including possible violence in disputing calls.

Now let’s look at Tampa Bay’s Marque in the deal, Matt Garza who had been up and down with the Twins and used sparingly during his first
two MLB seasons.  He finished 2007 with a 5-7 mark with a 3.69 ERA, striking out 67, walking 32 in 83 innings and 15 starts and 1 finish; that’s roughly 5.1 innings per start.  In
one appearance against the Cleveland Indians in July, he walked 3 and struck out 11 in 6 innings in by far his best start of the season and got a no-decision for his efforts.  Again, tremendous upside potential and again, so far only on paper.

Tampa Bay’s St. Peterbury Times notes;

The Rays also gave up INF Brendan Harris and minor-league OF Jason Pridie.

The Rays get Garza, who will go right into their rotation, and  [Jason] Bartlett, who becomes their starting shortstop. They also get minor-league RHP Eduardo Morlan, a 21-year-old who was 5-3 with 18 saves and a 3.10 ERA with Class A Fort Myers and Double-A New Britain. He struck out 99 in 69 2/3 innings.

The key piece to the deal is Bartlett, who would step into the [Devil Rays] team’s starting shortstop role, and Garza, a talented 24-year-old right hander who likely would become the Rays’ No. 3 starter.

Harris, in his first full MLB season in 2007, actually put stats together which bettered Young’s in some categories.  With 149 hits in 521 ABs, .286 BA, 12 HRs, 59 RBIs, 72 Runs, 92 Strikeouts, 42 BBs, .343 OBP and .434 SLG.  Bartlett’s inclusion and the exchange of infielders aced the deal. Once again, these guys have great upside potential but, on the whole, this deal is hardly a blockbuster.

The true blockbusters will come when we finally see who wins the Johan Santana Bowl, whether the Phillies sign their free agent centerfielder Aaron Rowand and when other high-profile multi-player deals fall into place.  But this deal, No way is it a blockbuster.

 

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A-Rod and Yankees: Unparalleled Money-Making Marriage

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

       Alex Rodriguez      Alex Rodriguez    Alex Rodriguez

After the upstaging, the opting-out and all of the one-upsmanship, posturing and the circuitous route travelled toward an upcoming 10 year marriage, 3rd baseman Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees finally seem to be walking the isle in easily the most mutually lucrative deal in all of organized professional sports history.

The deal; $275 million for 10 years, plus another $30 million if he cracks  Barry Bonds’ all-time home run record.  But that is just the simple take on the depth and breadth of this deal.

Vince Gennaro, noted MLB consultant, author of “Diamond Dollars: The Economics of Winning in Baseball” and former billion-dollar CEO  provides insightful glimpses behind this deal and it’s structuring.

Gennaro writes;

The true economic value of A-Rod is based on the Yankees’ revenue growth and asset appreciation that we can attribute to him. Economists call this a player’s marginal revenue product, but I’ve expanded it beyond revenue to include the marginal value of the Yankees’ assets – their ownership stake in the YES Network and the value of the franchise.

Rodriguez has two sources of value: performance and marquee. Performance value is determined by the impact of his playing performance on the Yankees’ win total and the resulting financial gains from the team being more successful because of his contribution We derive marquee value from A-Rod’s persona, image and even the more tangible value of drawing fans to watch him chase future personal milestones.

By adding his performance and marquee values for each year, we can assess the full 10-year value of A-Rod to the Yankees and prove why the $275 million salary with the potential for $30 million more in incentives negotiated by Rodriguez made a lot more sense than the $350 million his agent, Scott Boras, originally postulated.

Now, all A-Rod needs to do is to produce, both in the regular season and in the post-season; he’s not exactly been Mr. October, and avoid Bond’s alleged fix with steriods. 

To read the full piece on the dimensions of the A-Rod, Yankees deal, click here.

 

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Reliever Cordero Signs with Reds, Outfielder Torii Hunter to Angels

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

                       Francisco Cordero         Torii Hunter

MLB.com reports that the Cincinnati Reds and free agent former Milwaukee Brewers closer Francisco Cordero have come to terns on a four-year, $46 million contract with a with a $12 million club option for the 2012 season and a $1 million buyout.  The signing is pending a physical to take place this week.

With the deal, the Brewers will need shore up a bullpen which has lost one of the NL’s top closers and, as reported by Yahoo sports as cited in a report on Ticker, “are close to also losing free-agent righthander Scott Linebrink to the Chicago White Sox.”

The Yahoo report also notes;

Cordero, 32, enjoyed a terrific 2007 campaign with the Milwaukee Brewers, going 0-4 with a 2.98 ERA and 44 saves in 66 games. The Dominican righthander was named to the National League All-Star team and finished second in the league in saves.

In Cincinnati, Cordero will replace David Weathers as the Reds’ closer, a move which figures to shore up one of baseball’s weakest bullpens over the last few years. Weathers was solid for the Reds last season, going 2-6 with a 3.59 ERA and 33 saves.

On the West Coast, the AL West champion Los Angeles Angels have more than solidified the middle of their batting order with the signing of free agent centerfielder Torii Hunter to hit behind rightfielder Vladimir Guerrero in the lineup.

Hunter, a 10 year veteran who has played his entire career until now with the Minnesota Twins, hit .297 with 28 homers and drove in 107 runs for them in 2007.

According to AP sports writer Ken Peters’ report for Yahoo sports, Hunter and the Angels;

Agreed to a five-year, $90 million deal Wednesday…. subject to Hunter’s passing a physical.

Although Hunter’s arrival seems to make last season’s center fielder, Gary Matthews Jr. odd man out in an outfield with Guerrero in right and [Garret] Anderson in left, Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said it would give him more options.

He plans to rotate players at DH and use Matthews to spell Guerrero and Anderson.

“Torii is going to be in center field virtually every day. Gary will be in the outfield almost every day, so the other two guys will split up the DH,” Scioscia said in a conference call.

“We want all four of those bats in the lineup.”

With Hunter gone, the low-budget, weak-hitting Twins’ are left with a huge void in an offense which, after 1st baseman Justin Morneau and outfielders Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel, is awfully lean. 

28 Year Old Lefthanded Pitcher Kennedy Passes Away Friday

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

                              Joe Kennedy

Journeyman lefthander Joe Kennedy passed away early on Friday morning at his in-laws’ home in Hillsborough County, Florida.  Medical tests to determine cause of death have begun and will take 6-8 weeks to complete.

The death has caused shockwaves throughout the baseball world, particularly with the teams with which Kennedy played.

AP Writer Rob Gillies provides background for Yahoo sports;

Kennedy spent seven years in the majors, playing last season with Oakland, Arizona and Toronto. He also spent time with Tampa Bay and Colorado and had a 43-61 career record with a 4.79 ERA in 222 appearances.

“We were terribly shocked,” Blue Jays president Paul Godfrey told The Associated Press. “From what we understand he was in Brandon … to be the best man at a wedding today.”

“Obviously, when a 28-year-old man dies, ballplayer or not, it’s a terrible, terrible thing,” he said.

After going to bed early, Kennedy woke up at about 1:15 a.m. Friday and collapsed as he was leaving a bedroom at the home of his wife’s parents, Hillsborough County sheriff’s spokeswoman Debbie Carter said. Hillsborough County Fire Rescue took Kennedy to Brandon Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, she said.

Craig Weissmann, the Tampa Bay scout who signed Kennedy, described him as a fierce, determined competitor.

“He really dedicated himself and was really on a mission to become a major league pitcher,” Weissmann said. “You wish as a scout and a major league organization, you wish every kid could develop that fast.”

Godfrey said Toronto was interested in bringing Kennedy back.

Kennedy made his major league debut in June 2001 and made his last appearance in relief on Sept. 29 in a 5-3 win over Tampa Bay.

“We had every intention to speak to him,” he said. “We had him on our list to talk to.”

Rockies team president Keli McGregor extended his sympathies through a statement released by the team.

“Joe was a great husband, father, teammate and friend to so many in our organization and throughout the baseball world,” McGregor said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, wife, his young son and all those whose lives were touched by Joe over his life.”

That family meant everything to Kennedy, Weissmann said.

“He was a great father. He loved that boy and his wife both more than anything in the world. That son of his was the apple of his eye,” Weissmann said. “He just was really looking forward to everything that a father shares with a son.

Rollins Wins NL MVP Over Holliday, Rivera Re-Ups with Yanks for 3 Yrs

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

              Jimmy Rollins      Mariano Rivera

Diminutive 5′ 8″ Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who walked the walk Big Time to back up the talk — his bold February prediction about the Phillies winning the NL East, was awarded the NL MVP award in a close contest with  Colorado Rockies leftfielder Matt Holliday.

MLB.com’s Ken Mandel provides the voting results and background;

Of the 32 ballots submitted by two writers in each league city, Rollins was listed first on 16, second on seven, third on four, fourth on four and fifth on one for a total of 353 points. Holliday’s breakdown was 11 first-place votes, 18 seconds, one third, one fourth and one sixth for 336 points.

The 17-point differential between Rollins and Holliday made the 2007 election the 20th closest overall and ninth in the NL since the current format was adopted by the BBWAA in 1938.

Rollins gives the Phillies their seventh MVP award, joining  Chuck Klein (1932), Jim Konstanty (1950), Mike Schmidt (1980, 1981, 1986) and Ryan Howard (2006). With Howard, the Phillies become the first club with back-to-back MVPs since San Francisco’s Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds in 2000 and 2001.

Everything Philadelphia accomplished in 2007 focused on Rollins, starting with his January boast that the Phillies were the “team to beat” in the NL East. That disregarded the  Mets, who captured the division the previous season and the  Braves, who won it seemingly every year before that.

Despite taking flack after Philadelphia’s 4-11 season-opening stumble, Rollins remained at the center of the Phillies’ resurgence. He batted .346 (28-for-81) with six homers, 15 RBIs and 15 runs in 18 games against those Mets and started all 162 games at shortstop, playing all but 17 innings. Batting in the leadoff spot for most of the season, he kept the offense churning.

He committed just 11 errors, enough for his first Gold Glove, though his fielding percentage was second to Colorado’s  Troy Tulowitzki.

When closer Brett Myers hurled his glove in the air following a called strike three against Washington’s Wily Mo Pena — securing a 13-4 finish that earned the Phillies their first postseason appearance since 1993 — Rollins’ MVP credentials were cemented.

Rollins became the first player in history to collect at least 200 hits, 25 homers, 15 triples and 25 steals in a season. Overall, the switch-hitter batted .296, with 38 doubles, 20 triples, 30 homers, 94 RBIs, 41 stolen bases, 212 hits and 139 runs scored.

The 139 runs scored and 88 extra-base hits were league records for a shortstop. He also set a Major League record with 716 at-bats, and became the third shortstop in history to have at least 30 homers and 30 stolen bases in a season, after Barry Larkin in 1996 and Alex Rodriguez in 1998.

Holliday, meanwhile, captured the league’s batting and RBI titles, and led the Rockies into the postseason for the first time since 1995. The left fielder was the focal point of the team’s 15-1 run to get there, batting .442 with five homers and 17 RBIs.

Overall, he batted .340, with 50 doubles, 36 homers, 137 RBIs, 216 hits and 120 runs scored. He also led the league in hits, total bases, doubles and extra-base hits.

The statistics only told part of the story. The voters went with the player who backed up a bold prediction. On a team with Howard and Chase Utley, who himself had an MVP campaign despite missing five weeks with a broken hand, Rollins simply was the team’s most valuable.

So now, Rollins adds the most coveted NL MVP award to his other 2007 booty; Golden Glove and Silver Slugger awards.

Milwaukee Brewers slugging first baseman Prince Fielder came in a not- so-distant third in the balloting, despite his huge 50 HRs, 119 RBIS and .288 BA, with five first-place votes and 284 points.

Jimmy, thanks for some great 2007 thrills and memories.  Let’s go in 2008 — Phillies; NL East champs and beyond.  Don’t let up!

*****

Yankees closer Mariano Rivera apparently has accepted the team’s $45 million, 3-year deal pending the standard results of a physical.  The Yankees are the only club Rivera haas played for in his  year career.

AP Sports reporter Ronald Blum notes for Yahoo sports;

Rivera, who turns 38 on Nov. 29, gets an average salary more than $4 million above what any other reliever currently makes.

Rivera was coming off a three-year contract that paid him $31.5 million. He had hoped for an extension before the start of this season, but the Yankees decided not to discuss contract extensions with any of their players until after the 2007 season was over.

“Mariano is obviously someone that we can’t live without because he’s one of a kind and he’s so unique in what he does for us,” Rodriguez said during a conference call after he won the AL MVP award for the third time. “He’s such an unbelievable force in our clubhouse. In many ways he’s kind of the voice for a lot of people in there.”

“I was certainly hopeful,” Steinbrenner said. “It’s a good offer and an offer that was made because I wanted him back.”

***

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A-Rod Wins AL MVP, 2 Free Agent Signings

Monday, November 19th, 2007

     Mike Lowell   Alex Rodriguez    Tom Glavine

While 3rd baseman Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees are apparently dotting the “i’s” and crossing the “t’s” on a new 10-year — $275 million deal to replace the remainder of the $252 million deal which his agent  Scott Boras opted him out of during the World Series,  A-Rod was the decisive winner of the AL MVP.

AP’s Ronald Blum reports on the MVP results for Yahoo sports;

A-Rod won his third AL MVP award Monday, easily defeating  Detroit’s Magglio Ordonez after compiling an astounding season at the plate. Rodriguez received 26 first-place votes and 382 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, while Ordonez had two firsts and 258 points.

There’s not very much one can say about this one;  A-Rod’s 2007 stats speak loudly for themselves; 54 HRs, 156 RBIs, 143 runs scored, .314 batting average, 24 stolen bases.  Although rightfielder Ordonez put up some mighty 2007 numbers; 28 HRs, 139 RBIs, 117 runs scored and a .363 batting average, they didn’t compare with Rodriguez.  Enough said!  The only suspense left is about who will win the NL MVP, Colorado’s leftfielder Matt Holliday or Phillies’ shortstop Jimmy Rollins.  

*****

3rd baseman and World Series MVP Mike Lowell ended his free agency today by apparently  reaching a a three-year, $37.5 million deal with the Red Sox.

If true, Boston will be positioned to try for a repeat with all their key players from 2007.

AP Sports reporter Jimmy Golden notes for Yahoo sports;

In the three weeks since winning their second championship in four seasons, the Red Sox have re-signed their two biggest free agents, Lowell and pitcher Curt Schilling, and picked up options on Tim Wakefield and Julian Tavarez.

Lowell, a 33-year-old third baseman who made $9 million this season, was seeking four guaranteed years and might have gotten it elsewhere.

Lowell hit 21 homers this season while reaching career highs with a .324 average and 120 RBIs.  Lowell moved into the fifth spot in Boston’s powerful lineup behind David Ortiz and  Manny Ramirez.

Lowell batted .400 (6-for-15) during Boston’s four-game Series sweep of the Colorado Rockies, with four RBIs, three walks and a team-high six runs to earn MVP honors.

*****

Veteran lefthander and former free agent Tom Glavine, winner of 303 career games officially bolted the New York Mets to sign a one year, $8 million deal with the Atlanta Braves for what would appear to be the final season of his career.

Glavine spent the first 16 seasons of his 21 year career in Atlanta before jumping to the Mets where he spent the 5 years between 2003-2007 and where his ERA skyrocketed to 4.45 in 2007 in a 13-8 season for the Mets who blew a big NL East division lead to the Phillies over the final weeks of the season.  Glavine got no-decisions in 2 decisive Mets’ losses to the Phils in the last month of the season.

AP Sports Writer Paul Newberry provides background for Yahoo sports;

Atlanta believes the crafty left-hander, who will turn 42 before next season, can help them get back to the playoffs after a two-year hiatus.

“Starting pitching has been our Achilles’ heel. We just didn’t have the depth we had in past years, and we wanted to address that,” new general manager Frank Wren said. “Tommy was our No. 1 target.”

This was an easy one to hit.

After turning down a $13 million option with the Mets for 2008, taking a $3 million buyout, he turned his attention toward the Braves. He gave Atlanta a hometown discount, agreeing to an $8 million, one-year deal that was the lowest he was willing to play for and wasn’t available to anyone else.

The Braves jumped on it quickly, wrapping up the negotiations in less than a week. No one else — not even the Mets — were ever in the mix.

“Sentiment goes a long way,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said, “but we all think Tommy can still win at the major league level. That’s the bottom line.”

Proving you can go home again, Glavine and the Braves got over the bitterness that accompanied their negotiations after the 2002 season.

During his 16-year tenure, Glavine had five 20-win seasons, captured Cy Young Awards in 1991 and ‘98, and helped the Braves win the first 11 of their unprecedented 14 straight division titles. He was MVP of their only World Series championship during the run, pitching eight scoreless [1 hit] innings in the deciding game of a 1995 victory over  Cleveland.

“No place I ever went to as a visiting player was ever as remotely strange as coming here as a visiting player,” Glavine said.

Which is probably why his wife teared up when he tried on his Braves cap and jersey in the training room before the news conference.

And that’s probably why [GM Frank] Wren couldn’t stop smiling when Glavine buttoned up his No. 47 jersey with “Braves” written across the front and modeled the red-and-blue hat with an “A” above the bill.

“Looks good, doesn’t it?” Wren said.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien adds;

Washington and Philadelphia were among a handful of teams that expressed interest in Glavine, though the pitcher told his agent, Gregg Clifton, to let teams know that he wanted to first give the Braves an opportunity to get a deal done before he considered any other offers.