January 19, 2006

A little hot stovery for a cold winter's day (offer not good in tropical climes): Sports Illustrated writer John Donovan grades out the moves made by American League so far this offseason. Biggest surprise -- I had no idea Tampa Bay went 39-34 during the second half of last season.

posted by wfrazerjr to baseball at 08:43 AM - 27 comments

Obviously, as a Yankee fan, I know full-well how good a team Tampa Bay can be. I know trying to field a playoff-caliber team on the puny budget the Devil Rays have was always frustrating to Pinella, but it seems to me they're making the right strides. Offensively they have a lot of talent, but they need to add a few good arms to move up, and being in the East won't make the chore any easier. I'm also very impressed by the White Sox, and how they made some moves and didn't settle for standing pat. If Thome can stay healthy and have a big season (which everyone know he's capable of), and Konerko and Crede don't slump (which they are prone to), they should remain solid. I only wish Cleveland would make some bullpen moves. How much longer can they rely on Wickman constantly before he breaks down completely.

posted by dyams at 09:25 AM on January 19, 2006

The (Blue) Jays overpaid, sure, but they now have arguably the most reliable rotation in the division. Hmmm. Halladay missed half of last season with an injury, Burnett missed essentially an entire season and a half with an injury not long ago, Lilly is a sub-500 pitcher who routinely collapses in the second half, Chacin was a rookie last year. Josh Towers, good pitcher. Only Halladay has won more than 13 games in a season, though. Does this rotation really qualify as "most reliable?" What exactly can you "rely" on here? A third place finish? Of course, you can't bash Donovan because he used the universally recognized "arguably" disclaimer. I predict that the Thome deal is going to come back to bite the Sox. Rowand was an underrated cog last year. They are going to miss him, especially when Thome and the guy hitting behind Thome finish 1-2 in hitting into double plays.

posted by BullpenPro at 10:10 AM on January 19, 2006

I think that the Blue Jays are going to be a disappointment as they won't live up to the expectations after the offseason. I think the Tigers have potential, but then again it is the Tigers so they will continue to find ways to lose. As for the NL, the Braves will win the NL East, again, just beacuse it's the Braves.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 10:14 AM on January 19, 2006

As for the NL, the Braves will win the NL East, again, just beacuse it's the Braves I don't agree. Leo Mazzone is gone to Baltimore. The crux of the Braves success has been pitching. Admittedly, he has had talent to work with, but what has put the Braves over the top every year is Mazzone pulling someone off the junk pile and making them a solid pitcher (i.e. Kyle Farnsworth last year). I am not saying the Braves will fall completely apart, but I believe we will see some serious decline in their pitching staff with Mazzone gone. Wrigs

posted by Wrigley South at 11:16 AM on January 19, 2006

There are three teams who did not make the playofs that will make it in 2006: TOR, NYM, LA Dodgers.

posted by Joe88 at 11:16 AM on January 19, 2006

I predict that the Thome deal is going to come back to bite the Sox. Rowand was an underrated cog last year. I think that is an excellent point. Pony request: something to track Joe88's predicition success percentage.

posted by yerfatma at 11:41 AM on January 19, 2006

Hey How about something for us National league Fans? There is gotta be a few of us around here.

posted by skydivedad at 12:00 PM on January 19, 2006

I am an NL fan. right here. Go ahead, yerfatma, track my prediction. I'm not going to blow up as bad as you think I will. The Mets are a *playoff* lock. I say playoff, not to offend Braves fans, like my dad. Thome, will not bite the Sox, he'll help them repeat.

posted by Joe88 at 01:11 PM on January 19, 2006

Halladay missed half of last season with an injury To be fair, it was a complete fluke of an injury. He had his leg broken by a line drive. This isn't the same thing as a sore arm or back. His endurance and durability should not be questioned as he still led the league in complete games despite missing half a season. He's a workhorse.

posted by grum@work at 02:22 PM on January 19, 2006

National League Hot Stove Grades Here you go, skydivedad. Who's the "Can't Miss" team in the National League this season? Lets see if Mets fans have as much passion to post as Yankee fans (please, SOMEBODY overtake the Braves).

posted by dyams at 05:44 PM on January 19, 2006

Kind of funny. The Marlins gut their entire team, practically, and get a grade of "B." I'm not sure the fans (and all the empty seats at their games) will agree.

posted by dyams at 05:47 PM on January 19, 2006

Speaking of the Marlins, there's a group of Charlotteans that would like Marlins in Charlotte, NC.

posted by NoMich at 06:08 PM on January 19, 2006

thanks dyams Ok this guy gives the Marlins a B for gutting their team and then gives the Cubs (Henry) a B also, why because we get Pierre (love this move) but lose Furcal. The Cards look like they slip maybe just a little and he goes out and gets f***ing Jocques Jones, you've got to be kidding me, this guys career BA is plunging faster than John Daly's stroke handicap. Who the hell's going to hit 2nd and protect Pierre on 1st. The unproven wonder kid at short (Cedeno)who's platooning with a career utility guy(Neifi Perez). Who in the hell's responsible for the Cory Patterson disaster and then your going to start another unproven rookie (Murton) in LF. Where is the proven starter(s) the Cubs are going to need when Prior breaks down and Kerry Wood is busy in rehab. Hey I love Greg Maddox but he is not Roger Clemons or a fine wine that gets better with age. OK, I'll give you some credit for strenghting the bullpen with Howry and Eyre, but where's the starter. Come on Macphail if you give Henry hence Dusty a 2 year extension for this I've got a bridge in New York for sale. Win the Division and advance in the playoffs, if you can't get that done, get out'a town! It's simple, beat the Cards, win the Division and don't embarrass us in the playoffs, then and only then get an extension. In the mean-time get some players in here who can accomplish the aforementioned! As for the Braves, Mets thing, good luck with that, winning the NL East has been mastered by the Braves until proven otherwise and then don't overlook the Phillies if the Braves should falter. It will be interesting to see if the Mets can manage some team chemistry now that everyone is being overpaid equally. NL West huh they play in the MLB.

posted by skydivedad at 07:16 PM on January 19, 2006

It will be interesting to see if the Mets can manage some team chemistry now that everyone is being overpaid equally. I like that one. Good line. What can you say, though, about the Cubs? Will they ever get it right? Get a full, healthy season from Prior and Wood (very, very doubtful) and you just never know. And I've never really disliked Jacque Jones. Maybe switching leagues will be good for him. Overall, though, some pretty poor grades for most of the NL teams.

posted by dyams at 07:37 PM on January 19, 2006

I give the Marlins an A. Their goal was to slash payroll and begin (again) a rebuilding process. Hard to argue with that approach considering their history. Also, their timing could not have been better -- this was an awful free-agent year, and continues to look worse as more and more mediocre players sign for absurd terms. I also think the Nationals deserve a lot better grade than D. Yes, Russ Ortiz is very bad, but Jim Bowden figured out very quickly that a mediocre pitching staff in a cavernous park like RFK is the same as a really good staff in a normal park, only cheaper. Paying for Loaiza and Carasco after a season of RFK enhanced numbers made no sense when he could be going out and getting other mediocre pitchers elsewhere -- and Brian Lawrence, in my opinion, is a step above mediocre. In Soriano, yes, they got a headache, but they also put some speed in their outfield (yeah, I said it, their outfield -- try saying "No" to Frank Robinson) and on the basepaths. Wilkerson, who at least LOOKS like the slowest outfielder in the majors, is a very good player but not a good fit in center field or at the top of the order. I'm not sure I give Washington an "A," but I certainly upgrade them over Donovan's rating. In sum, though, it's still a little early to be making final judgments. There are still a lot of FAs out there, and lots of deals yet to be made before April.

posted by BullpenPro at 03:58 AM on January 20, 2006

this was an awful free-agent year In sum, though, it's still a little early to be making final judgments. There are still a lot of FAs out there Awful free agents, but signing them will improve some of these poor teams? They must really be poor.

posted by dyams at 07:08 AM on January 20, 2006

Who said anything about improving? The final grades shouldn't come in until all the signing is done -- meaning teams can still get worse by making some more really awful deals like some of those made so far... By the way, save yourself the trouble of reading the report card for the Rockies for the next ten years. Here it is now: "Their offense should be okay, but they've done nothing to address the needs of a woefull pitching staff. C"

posted by BullpenPro at 08:20 AM on January 20, 2006

I'm just hoping a team wouldn't get a hell of a lot worse by signing a free agent. They may not get much better, but it shouldn't make them worse. Trades can be horrible moves and very one-sided, but even a mediocre free agent should provide at least a hope for some upside. It's often the seemingly big free agents that turn out to be busts that make a team worse.

posted by dyams at 08:42 AM on January 20, 2006

There are lots of ways a free agent can make a team worse. In short, if teams can accomplish addition-by-subtraction, then it stands to reason they can do the reverse. Even just the opportunity cost of signing Player X

posted by BullpenPro at 09:10 AM on January 20, 2006

(Sorry, computer freaked) Often the opportunity cost of signing a particular player -- either by preventing a better signing or by inhibiting a good prospect -- can have no upside whatsoever and end up hurting the team.

posted by BullpenPro at 09:20 AM on January 20, 2006

There are still a lot of FAs out there, and lots of deals yet to be made before April. posted by BullpenPro at 3:58 AM CST on January 20 Let's take a look at who's still available on the Free Agent Market. I'm interested primarily in starting pitchers feel free to add additional positions. At the end of last season there were 42 MLB Free Agent Starting Pitchers as of today only 10 remain unsigned with of course Roger Clemons occupying the top spot on any teams list but is he really going anywhere other than back to the Stro's? That leaves 9, for the most part the it's not a high quality list. Pedro Astacia (SD), Jamey Wright (Col), Kevin Brown (NYY), Kirk Rueter (SF) released, Israel Valdez (FLA), Jeff Weaver (LAD), Darren Driefort (LAD), Jose Lima (KC), and the vagabond Scott Erickson (LAD, TR, NYM) not an overly impressive list and they all have performance question marks, I'd like to think that 3 or 4 of them could help any team and all will be on a spring training roster somewhere. Maybe the Cubs can pick 1 that can be useful but I'd still like to see a trade for Zito. I pretty sure he's not going to sign an extension before the start of the season, with Free Agency pending. Looking at the available Free Agents well, slim picking indeed.

posted by skydivedad at 09:53 AM on January 20, 2006

I agree with skydivedad, and in addition, there hasn't been many good pitchers on the market to begin with. Blue Jays fans will disagree, but A.J. Burnett??? Come on. If he is one of the best guys on the market then you know it isn't a very good year.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 10:23 AM on January 20, 2006

The Marlins have some options befroe reahing Charlotte, Vegas, Portland, San Antonio, and Mexico. However, I was reading a sports editorial a few days ago and they were saying that contraction before the 2007 season is a lock. The agreement was that two teams will be contracted. It said that those teams teams will most probably be the Marlins and Nationals. Sorry to deliver bad news.

posted by Joe88 at 02:26 PM on January 20, 2006

Joe could you post a link to that site?

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 04:26 PM on January 20, 2006

Sorry to deliver bad news. It's not bad news because you say it; it's bad news if it happens, but it probably won't. It took thirty-some-odd years for Major League Baseball to return to D.C.; MLB and D.C. are currently in mediation regarding a new stadium; The Nationals drew nearly three million people in their first year in D.C.; But Joe says they're going to be contracted, so forget the future of baseball in our nation's capital, because Joe ain't buying it. So says you, and some mysterious "sports editorial?" You do realize that the term "editorial" doesn't necessarily mean hard, cold facts, right? You seem to be real big on making predictions that have absolutely no basis in fact; has anything you've said come to fruition yet? You're quickly becoming the Cliff Claven of SportsFilter. Let me try this: I predict that 90% of what you say will turn out to be fertilizer. Sorry to deliver bad news.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 10:45 PM on January 20, 2006

The Twins are trying to get out of their Metrodome lease. This means: A. Thrifty owner Carl Pohlad really enjoys playing old-fashioned country hardball with state officials over new-stadium funding. B. Maybe the whole contraction thing isn't dead after all. Between the stadium-challenged Twins, Nationals and Marlins, three prime contraction candidates back in '02, baseball might still have options. And, hey, time is running out on MLB's ability to slice teams without union permission. Just a conspiracy theory. . . That's the only thing in the article you referred to that even mentioned contraction. It's speculation at best, yet you accept it as gospel and even go so far as to boldly "predict" what will happen based on that article? Remind me to never let you invest money for me.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 10:57 PM on January 20, 2006

Why is nobody more pissed about the Deviled Eggs still playing in an old hockey arena in Tampa? And I sincerely hope that more cities start making the teams pay for their own damn stadiums. Finally, FAs making a team worse? Look no farther than Derrick Bell in Pittsburgh.

posted by ryleeys at 08:42 AM on January 23, 2006

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