August 06, 2003

The Armando Experiment ends quickly : as the Yankees ship Benitez to the Mariners... for ex-Yankee Jeff Nelson. I wasn't a Benitez-hater like most, but I smiled when I saw this. Nelson was a great pitcher and important piece of the puzzle in the championships (albeit a jerk) and it's good to have him back. Any chance the Mets will field offers for Mike Stanton now?

posted by Bernreuther to baseball at 04:38 PM - 30 comments

btw, sorry for the generic "you've already seen it" ESPN link, but I'm lazy and in a rush out the door...

posted by Bernreuther at 04:40 PM on August 06, 2003

How can a "trade" occur after the trading deadline? The story says "Each team actually claimed the other player, permitting them to make a deal only with each other." Can anyone explain how this works?

posted by dusted at 07:36 PM on August 06, 2003

My best guess: The deal between the teams is done "in principle" prior to the deadline and submitted to the league office. If the players clear waivers, its a go. This "clearance process" takes a period of time that usually extends beyond the regular trade deadline. This is the closest reference I could find. Or I'm wrong. Damn

posted by lilnemo at 08:12 PM on August 06, 2003

July 31 is the "trading deadline" because it's the last day where traded players don't have to clear waivers before they switch teams. After July 31, teams must place players that they wish to trade on waivers, where they can be claimed by any other team in baseball - not just the team they wish to trade with. The Yankees and Mariners each claimed the other team's player off of waivers.

posted by mbd1 at 08:13 PM on August 06, 2003

I understand the waivers part, but how come the Yanks also sent cash? Benitez is making $6.75 million this season, while Nelson is making $2.65 million. According to Cashman, the cash being sent to the Mariners will cover "a significant portion" of the salary difference for the remainder of the season. Both players are free agents after this season. These guys might see eachother in the playoffs, so it seems odd to me to be dealing with eachother.

posted by usfbull at 08:46 PM on August 06, 2003

What the F.......? Everybody's dealing! I get it now. With the passing of the July 31 trading deadline, all players involved in a trade must now clear waivers. Because the Padres have the worst record in the National League this season, they would have first dibs on any player put through waivers and they could claim Giles immediately. Due to his contract, it is believed Kendall would clear waivers and may have already. However, the Pirates, with the fifth-worst record in the NL, will not have a shot at claiming Jarvis, Perez and Nady unless they first make it past the Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets and Cincinnati Reds.

posted by usfbull at 08:49 PM on August 06, 2003

The Mariners didn't want to pay the bulk of Benitez's salary, and the Yanks have tons of cash anyways. It happens all the time. As a side note, aren't relievers the most overpaid players in today's game?

posted by mbd1 at 08:53 PM on August 06, 2003

Some might say shortstops, but I agree with relievers.

posted by lilnemo at 08:58 PM on August 06, 2003

hm, at first that article said that the Yankees received cash. And ESPN's player profile lists both of their salaries in the same range. So much for accuracy. Then again, they also have a headline about Drew Henson that reads "Benson" and it's been that way for days... I don't understand the waiver process entirely, but yeah, we'll see "trades" like this between now and the end of the month. It could be end of the year, but you have to be on the roster at 8/31 to be post season eligible. I believe one year Willie McGee switched teams to help a team into the playoffs, but missed the playoffs because of this. (Not sure... could also have been the year he won a batting title in the league he was traded from. My memory is hazy.)

posted by Bernreuther at 01:18 AM on August 07, 2003

Crap! i wanted to see Benetiz give up homeruns at the end of games for the Yankees.

posted by corpse at 07:40 AM on August 07, 2003

This was pretty big news hear in Sea town for a few reasons. One, because Nelson has been a squeaky wheel about the M's needing to do a deal. Naturally there has been speculation that they unloaded him as punishment, which I don't believe. Two, because the road to the series likely goes through New York and now the pitchers might each face their former teams which is compelling. I think the M's brass is focussing on just making the playoffs, and Nelson always struggles mightily in August and that's a big factor in why they got rid of him. Nobody can say right now who got the better deal because nobody can say for sure what Benitez has left in the tank. Shit, even Jose Lima is 7-0. BTW the most overpayed ballplayers are .500 pitchers with 4.50 ERA's that give you 200 innings a year.

posted by vito90 at 08:09 AM on August 07, 2003

Seriously, vito? The ERA for the majors is something around 4.50 or so. The pitcher has only a small amount of control over his record, and 200 IP is not insignificant. I'm not saying that you should throw money at those guys, but they just aren't as overvalued as relievers. 200 innings out of one average starter is going to be much cheaper than 200 innings from a middle reliever, a setup guy, and a closer.

posted by mbd1 at 08:48 AM on August 07, 2003

My understanding of the waiver wire post-trade deadline is that while teams with the worst record to best have the option of claiming a player of waivers (as after July 31 they are essentially free game when placed there) things like contract value and term eliminate a lot of teams and then there is the 'understanding' amongst the others that this is, for all intents and purposes, a trade and being the jerk team that claims the player will ensure that other GMs won't deal with you. Kind of a low grade collusion. In 1991 the Jays got David Cone with 2 or 3 years left on his deal in mid-August this way.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 09:30 AM on August 07, 2003

Most overpaid position in baseball - closer. Maybe a half dozen guys really make a difference - the rest are interchangable. Benitez may be one of the most overpaid guys in ball.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 09:34 AM on August 07, 2003

I used to think that too, but the closer by committee that the Red Sox employed was a disaster, yet Smoltz in Atlanta seems to be money in the bank. Maybe it just needs to be reviewed on a case by case basis. Or maybe it's just psychological. I think this guy makes some good points.

posted by usfbull at 10:04 AM on August 07, 2003

Every week, teams in August submit players to the waiver list. Sometimes it's legitimate as those players might need to go through waivers for the following reasons: to send them down to the minors, to release the players, to drop them off the 25- or 40-man rosters. Sometimes, it's to see if they can slip a good player through and make a trade after the July 31st deadline. It happened in 1992 when the Jays got Cone from the Mets. Toronto had listed a bunch of players to go through waivers, including Ryan Thompson and Jeff Kent. The Mets listed a bunch of minor leaguers and sub-par players as well. However, they also listed David Cone in the MIDDLE of the list. None of the Jays' competitors noticed his name there and when he went through, the Jays/Mets trade was finalized. Lots of August deals have been squashed in the past years because of alert GMs (or assistant GMs) spotting an unusual player on the waiver wire and making a claim. Jose Canseco was picked up by the Yankees in August when Tampa Bay tried to put him on the waiver wire to make a trade (with some other team). The usual result is that the original team will then remove the player from waivers and try to make a deal with the team making a claim. However, Tampa wanted to ditch Canseco's contract and decided to let NY have him "for free" (since NY didn't really want him and made the claim to stop him from going to another team). In this instance, the claim backfired on NY and they were forced to take Canseco. Nowadays, it's hard to slip a good player through the waivers in August UNLESS he has an intolerable contract situation. The reason that it's difficult is that there are new GMs that won't let the "good old boys" network get away with it. For an example of this, do a search on Theo Epstein and Kevin Millar: Theo (the Red Sox GM) put a claim on Millar when Florida tried to slip him through waivers to sell him to a Japanese team back in the winter. It was considered "bad form" for Theo to make the claim as it broke the gentleman's agreement among other GMs.

posted by grum@work at 11:14 AM on August 07, 2003

usfbull I didn't mean that the position isn't important - but it is overrated. Paying a guy more than $6 million a year for 65 innings is, frankly, a case of the marketing getting one over on itself. San Fran, The Yanks (for most of the season), the Red Sox, The As (who have had a revolving door on the closer locker), have all done pretty well without a dominant type of guy. People always say how much of a shambles the Boston pen was before they got Kim - yeah, but that was because the pen was a shambles - Kim didn't set them right, Kim plus Williamson, plus a few other guys just made them better - and they were still winning anyway. Look at the best closers out there - outside of Smoltz, almost none of them will be in the post season. Gagne is unhittable - but he can't make or break a pennant. Closers don't win games and more often than not - they simply end games already won. Starting pitching, defence and line-up are all more important in my book.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 12:04 PM on August 07, 2003

For an example of this, do a search on Theo Epstein and Kevin Millar: Theo (the Red Sox GM) put a claim on Millar when Florida tried to slip him through waivers to sell him to a Japanese team back in the winter. It was considered "bad form" for Theo to make the claim as it broke the gentleman's agreement among other GMs.

posted by jerseygirl at 01:38 PM on August 07, 2003

Gagne is unhittable - but he can't make or break a pennant. He can't make it, but if he blows 8 saves instead of 2 and the Dodgers end up 3 games out, you could make a case that he broke it by not finishing games they should have won. Also, A-Rod can't make a pennant either. No one player ever will. Closers don't win games and more often than not - they simply end games already won. Sit through a Blue Jays game or two and realize that these "already won" games are not won without a good closer. Toss John Smoltz in there, they are probably fighting for the wild card race. That's what a closer can do. He finishes wins, not letting them lead for 8 innings and lose. It's not only detrimental in the standings, but also to morale. If you don't believe me, let's see the last 10 World Series Champions: 2002 - Anaheim - Troy Percival 2001 - Arizona - Byung Kim 2000-1998 - NYY - Mariano Rivera 1997 - Florida - Robb Nen 1996 - NYY - Mariano Rivera 1995 - Atlanta - Mark Wholers (at his best) 1992, 93 - Toronto - Duane Ward (fantastic closer in his day) Seems like a pretty good pattern to me. All of these teams had exceptional closers. The last team without a good closer that won the pennant was the '88 Dodgers, who had 2 average closers in Jay Powell and Alajendro Pena. The point is that World Series winners have good closers. It doesn't matter whether or not you can make the playoffs without a good closer, it's whether or not you can win the World Series without one, and it hasn't been done in 15 years, so it seems to me they are pretty damn important. Oh, and I like comma splices.

posted by therev at 03:22 PM on August 07, 2003

Theoretically Gagne could make or break the pennant. If the Dodgers had the bats the red sox have had in their lineup... whole different story. Run support baby, run support.

posted by lilnemo at 05:12 PM on August 07, 2003

2001 - Arizona - Byung Kim If I remember correctly, they won that World Series despite his contributions. Well, in the Series itself that is...;) And he wasn't really in the "closer" role as he only got 19 saves in 78 pitching appearances. It was the one-two punch of Schilling/Johnson that got them to (and won) the World Series. And 2002 wasn't Troy Percival, it was setup man Francisco Rodriguez that won it for them in the playoffs. Double the innings, 0.90 ERA lower and pitching in far more critical situations. Example: Game 2 - FRod throws 3 shutout innings (6,7,8) giving the Angels a chance to come from behind. Percival pitches just the 9th (with a 2 run lead) and gives up a HR to Bonds (remember that one? I think it just came down last week...). And to finish off the nitpicking hat trick, Tom Henke was the closer in 1992 for the Jays, and Ward was the setup man (even though Ward was more valuable than Henke by throwing double the innings and having a sub-2.00 ERA). In conclusion, grum no-likey closer role and paying excess money for it. grum feel that best pitcher in bullpen should be used in close games ANY time, not just the 9th. grum feel that "save" is silly stat as man who pitches two innings in middle of tie game gets less money than man who pitches in 9th with 3 run lead.

posted by grum@work at 06:11 PM on August 07, 2003

mbd1 agree with grum. If these closers are such great assets to their teams, aren't they being underutilized? Or is there such a psychological edge to being the "closer" and only pitching in save situations? And I'm suspicious that it's a which came first, the chicken or the egg situation. Are they used as closers because they are great pitchers, or are they great pitchers because they are used in low risk, high counting stat situations? There's no doubt that they are excellent at what they do - I just think that what they do is overvalued, payroll-wise.

posted by mbd1 at 06:36 PM on August 07, 2003

So you guys read Moneyball too?

posted by usfbull at 08:15 PM on August 07, 2003


posted by mbd1 at 08:21 PM on August 07, 2003

I started reading it Sunday.

posted by jerseygirl at 09:12 PM on August 07, 2003

You guys are cheating - Rickey Henderson day doesn't start till friday. As it is now technically friday, Dave will dip into Rickey Speak (and hereby makes the rule that all fridays will be Rickey Henderson fridays from now on) appropriately. None of you should have been expected to know the rules of a weekly holiday on one of Dave's other message boards. Anyway, Dave just ordered Moneyball and will receive it within the week, but he has always thought that the closer was overrated. And this comes from a Yankees fan (Dave hates Rivera and thinks he is a waste of money). If Boston ran closer by committee now, with a good staff, they would be just fine, and no better or worse off than having one guy doing the closing. It's really not that hard to throw one scoreless inning if you're a good pitcher. Coming in against a team that is used to seeing someone else is not that hard... and Dave would be willing to bet that none of these uber closers would be all that great if they had to face a lineup more than once in a game... just as any starter now ought to be just fine if they only have to face a few people, all for the first time. Definitely overrated. And in keeping with the theme, Mo was far more valuable as a 2 inning setup man for Wetteland in 96 than he has been as a closer since... though no other Yankee fan in the world would admit that...

posted by Bernreuther at 01:22 AM on August 08, 2003

therev - Yeah, boy sure are a lot of those great closers out there on World Series winners. Some had long careers some had short ones - are they the best there are? Or just better than the average? So does the closer make the stats, or do the stats make the closer? Roughly how many saves are truly earned? It's not that it's unimportant - it's that it's overrated. And Kim in Arizona is a terrible example - how many saves did he blow in the World Seriies? And the Dbacks still WON. Look at the saves in the AL this year - leading the league is Texas followed by Baltimore. Blown saves? Kansas City. Toronto is among the last in the league in both saves and save opportunities - they can't get there and they can't close - however, they beat Baltimore and Texas in overall record. It's an overrated stat, and an overrated position. Thanks for pointing out my comma splices. Classy.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 08:48 AM on August 08, 2003

I wasn't pointing out yours, I was pointing out mine. It's plagued me since junior high and only now have I accepted that it's going to keep happening forever.

posted by therev at 09:59 AM on August 08, 2003

Sorry - I'm touchy today.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 10:26 AM on August 08, 2003

Here's a point I think everyone is missing - how many times do managers lift pitchers from games simply because the book says to go with your closer, or go to a long reliever? All this bullshit about how pitchers' arms aren't strong enough to go nine innings anymore, or how situational relievers make a team more competitive is, in my eyes, a self-fulfilling prophecy. You have a good starter, you leave him in there until he obviously can't go anymore - not until his lame ass looks in the dugout because some third-of-an-inning lefty can come in and face Bonds. I don't know if there are stats one way or the other for this, but I do know I roll my eyes to the heavens every time a manager trots out to relieve his starter after he gives up a leadoff hit or walk in the seventh or eighth. A lot of times, he's just relieving the guy of the victory. As for the history of closers, I haven't been able to find very much. This guy is pretty much acknowledged as the first real "reliever," but you'll see even his stellar 1950 season, he averaged nearly two innings an outing and sometimes threw four. How that degenerated into pitching one inning every three days is beyond me.

posted by wfrazerjr at 12:04 PM on August 08, 2003

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