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Monday, August 06, 2012

Comments

That's good for Erik Kratz. That means he can't go back down. Poor Chooch, having a stellar season. I wore black yesterday, mourning Carlos Ruiz' injury, preventing him from winning a batting title.

If you have a chance to add Fox to the inventory, I'm game. He's versitile and had some pop. We've carried worse 4th catchers in our day, often finding them big league work.

Fox? I'll say!

Fox wasn't much defensively when he was in the Show. To review, the Phils dumped Goosewurst for nothing and then had to bring in an Indy league catcher who's not very good defensively. Better hope Kratz stays healthy.

"Better hope Kratz stays healthy."

Or else what? They might not win 75 games?

JW: I am simply continuing the theme from the end of the previous thread: That the fate of the 2012 Phillies rests on the backup catcher.

Fox is a great move.....for the Riversharks. Oh wait, what the Phillies you say?

Yuniesky is ready by Wednesday.

Small sample, obviously, but have people noticed that Chase Utley is now hitting .264/.368/.509?

The guy can still play when he gets on the field.

The fate of every season. That's how we roll on Backupcatcherleaguer.

Kratz vs. Schneider this year doesn't make a difference given their position in the standings. Next year if this team is pushing for a playoff spot, it very well might mean the difference between a win or two.

In Schneider's defense though, he has been what you would expect offensively out of a backup catcher.

Biggest reason I was against resigning him was the simple fact that he was almost a lock to go on the DL & miss significant time. He did & missed almost 2 months.

Next we'll be signing Pedro Feliz.

Jake Fox: the poor man's Ryan Doumit.

Actually, Fox has hit well in the minors &, even if he's bad defensively, the mere fact that he can play catcher is of value. When June, 2013 rolls around, and he has an .850 OPS at AAA, while Mini-Mart is hitting .143 for the Phillies, I can totally see myself writing daily posts that Jake Fox should be called up.

Anyone else note that the Phils are going with Kendrick to start on Wednesday?

Seems they're perfectly happy to move him out of the bullpen (where he's been quite successful) and back into the rotation (where he has not). Obviously, that doesn't matter very much for this season (I'm not one of those people who thinks Tyler Cloyd is the savior of the rotation--he most likely would not be an improvement over KK as a starter), but it does worry me that they want to use Kendrick in the rotation next season.

Seeing as Kendrick has been one of the few useful bullpen pieces this year, I'd rather pick up an outside starter to complete the rotation (Edwin Jackson, anyone?) and leave KK in the bullpen next season.

Thoughts?

BAP: That was terrific.

Jack, I agree about Utley. He appears to be rounding into "form".

If he had the qualifying number of AB's, his .877 OPS would rank him 2nd among MLB 2B behind Cano, who's having another outstanding year.

bap, please stop.

If you mention again that mini-mart is going to be on the team in 2013 you're going to cause me to have a seizure.

Utley's Lawn Chair would, IMO, be a preferable addition to the bench.

Agreed Jack. KK looks like an entirely different pitcher when he knows he's only pitching a few innings at most. He seems to throw harder and with much more authority when he doesn't have to go long distance. I'd be in favor of picking someone up this offseason. Don't know why we wouldn't at least try to get a look at Cloyd this season though. I'm not overly confident that he will be the answer but I've never seen him pitch either. Wouldn't mind getting a look.

Jack - Wholeheartedly agree about KK's role. There's no secret that he's better out of the pen and maaaayyyyyybbbeee as a spot starter once in awhile. Putting hiim in the rotation long-term scares me.

And, yeah...I noticed that he's starting Wednesday. Couldn't help it as I'm going to that game. Oh well...

Kendrick's role should be exactly what it's been the last two seasons: a swingman. Maybe now more than ever because of injuries. Problem is he's getting expensive. Wonder if the Phils will look toward Cloyd or someone to be that kind of option next season. Nothing wrong with easing a pitcher into the majors that way. They did it with Happ. Swingmen are important.

Yes to giving Tyler Cloyd a shot at this point, and yes to KK being reliever/emergency starter next year, as opposed to 4/5 man.

***The fate of every season. That's how we roll on Backupcatcherleaguer.

Posted by: J. Weitzel | Monday, August 06, 2012 at 10:51 AM

***

I would totally support an official name change to that.

***Seeing as Kendrick has been one of the few useful bullpen pieces this year, I'd rather pick up an outside starter to complete the rotation (Edwin Jackson, anyone?) and leave KK in the bullpen next season.***

I wouldn't mind Jackson at all...the only concern would be his cost. Boras is probably looking for a 3-4 year deal at 8 figures AAV. Something like 3/$30 at a minimum I would bet.

If we were to trade one of our starters this winter, Jackson would be my first choice to replace him.

Can see this shaping up for March.

1. Hamels (give him opening day for the 6-year commitment)
2. Halladay
3. Lee
4. Worley
5. Spring winner between Kendrick / Cloyd / Rosenberg / random FA invitee

Losers to the bullpen.

@JW: I pretty much agree...though I expect a healthy Doc is still our Opening Day guy (much like Myers was the Opening Day guy in 08 despite Hamels being the superior pitcher).

Cloyd won't be called up until September because there is a chance he will be used as a trading chip this month. Bring him up and he needs to go through waivers.

No shortage of FA middle-back rotation guys this year. Joe Saunders, Jackson, Kuroda, McCarthy, Lohse. Joe Blanton will need to settle on a minor league deal. Weird thing is he's not much worse than he was when he got $24 million out of the Phils, just older.

@ J. Weitzel

Assuming the Phillies don't trade Lee in the offseason.

I gotta say, though, that still looks like a really strong rotation for 2013. With a good bullpen and a decent offense...

***No shortage of FA middle-back rotation guys this year. Joe Saunders, Jackson, Kuroda, McCarthy, Lohse.***

That's why Edwin shouldnt get top dollar but he probably will because hes arguably the best choice among those options. McCarthy is too inconsistent, Kuroda is old and Lohse is a step below.

I would bet that Blanton gets an MLB guaranteed deal. It might be something like 1 year, $2-3 million but it will be guaranteed. Pitching is really thin. Look at the Twins for example...he'd be a solid 4/5 guy for them.

Why would Cloyd need to go through waivers if he's called up? He would not.

Hell, I'd take Blanton back at 1 year 2 mill in a heartbeat.

JW: I agree on the FA options. I would take almost any of those guys over Kendrick, and hopefully Amaro is able to pick one up on the relative cheap.

As I've said multiple times, money spent in one of those guys would be a better investment than money spent in an attempt to upgrade the bullpen. I have very little faith in the idea of throwing money at veteran middle relievers.

Cloyd isn't on the 40 man so they'd have to add him. That's pretty much the only impediment to having him on the roster. It'd also start his service clock but that isn't a concern for a guy of his level.

BAP: I think PPP was saying that Cloyd would need to pass through waivers if was to be traded in the next few weeks (though I have no idea who PPP thinks we're trading Cloyd for).

To be called up he would need to be added to the 40-man roster, and the rules are that any player on a 40-man roster must clear waivers before being traded past July 31st. So PPP was saying that if the Phils are considering trading Cloyd in the next few weeks, they can't call him up. It's not that he needs to clear waivers to be called up--it's that he needs to clear waivers to be traded if he is called up.

Though, again, I have no idea who PPP thinks Cloyd is being traded for.

Blanton will probably wind up with the Orioles as a non-difference maker in the mold of Kevin Millwood.

Houston: here's a team that needs a complete rotation remake just to save face in their first AL season. They would be wise to load up on the Blantons, Lohses, Kurodas.

JW: I agree about Kendrick. It seems anecdotally that the swingman role isn't for everyone (they tried to use Worley as a swingman last year and he gave up something like 9 runs in New York in his first start back to the rotation).

Every team needs at least 6 starters. Since Kendrick is a mediocre starter who pitches well out of the bullpen, he is a logical choice for starter #6, with a move to the rotation as an injury replacement inevitable.

I think all of the suggested options for the 5th starter are good: Jackson, McCarthy, Kuroda, Lohse. It depends on what the market is offering each of them.

Edwin Jackson was a really nice pickup for Washington this year. If the GM has the patience to wait until late in free agency instead of obsessing over cost certainty, there is a good chance he'll find a decent bargain still available. There are no bargains when the GM treats free agency like a race.

I'd be the Nats will pay to keep Jackson in Washington, but he'd be an intriguing 4th/5th starter.

JW: Houston is committed to a full rebuild. They seem completely unconcerned with saving face, and rather are interested solely in acquiring assets to be competitive for the future. Which is what you want if your team is rebuilding.

However, I do agree that, since they don't really have much in terms of young pitchers who should be competing at the MLB level, they would be well served to sign a couple of those guys in the hopes that they can be flipped at the deadline. If you can make a $3 million investment in Kyle Lohse, and he pitches well, and you can turn that into a solid prospect at the deadline, that's money well spent.

Prediction: We're not paying $10+ million for our 5th starter. That's what Jackson will cost. After Greinke signs, he's basically the best guy standing for FA pitchers and he has good enough stuff to make a GM hope that such a deal won't be disasterous.

JW, IMO it won't matter much how you order the top 3 in the rotation. What matters the most regarding the pitching staff is their health.


What will probably make the biggest difference, however, is whether or not Utley can sustain his recent peformance next season and Howard can rebound to some semblance of his former self.

Will they look for a free agent CF? Vic? Bourn?

If they sign Bourn does the lineup look like this?:

Bourn CF
Shierholz/RHH platoon RF
Utley 2B
Howard 1B
Chooch C
JRoll SS
Nix/RFD platoon LF
??? 3B

Free Agent Starters (via MLBTR). Many of these guys will not have their options picked up.

Starting pitchers
Scott Baker (31) - $9.25MM club option
Erik Bedard (34)
Joe Blanton (32)
Bartolo Colon (40)
Aaron Cook (34)
Kevin Correia (32)
Doug Davis (37)
Jorge De La Rosa (32) - $11MM player option with a $1MM buyout
Ryan Dempster (36)
R.A. Dickey (38) - $5MM club option with a $300K buyout
Zach Duke (30)
Scott Feldman (29) - $9.25MM club option with a $600K buyout
Jeff Francis (32)
Gavin Floyd (30) - $9.5MM club option
Freddy Garcia (37)
Zack Greinke (28)
Jeremy Guthrie (34)
Rich Harden (31)
Dan Haren (32) - $15.5MM club option with a $3.5MM buyout
Livan Hernandez (38)
Roberto Hernandez (32) - $9MM club option
Tim Hudson (37) - $9MM club option with a $1MM buyout
Edwin Jackson (29)
Hiroki Kuroda (38)
Colby Lewis (33)
Francisco Liriano (29)
Kyle Lohse (34)
Rodrigo Lopez (37)
Derek Lowe (40)
Paul Maholm (31) - $6.5MM club option with a $500K buyout
Shaun Marcum (31)
Jason Marquis (34)
Daisuke Matsuzaka (32)
Brandon McCarthy (29)
Kevin Millwood (38)
Jamie Moyer (50)
Brett Myers (32) - $10MM vesting option with a $3MM buyout
Ramon Ortiz (40)
Roy Oswalt (35)
Carl Pavano (37)
Jake Peavy (31) - $22MM club option with a $4MM buyout
Brad Penny (35)
Joel Pineiro (34)
Anibal Sanchez (29)
Jonathan Sanchez (30)
Ervin Santana (30) - $13MM club option with a $1MM buyout
Joe Saunders (32)
James Shields (31) - $9MM club option with a $1.5MM buyout
Chien-Ming Wang (33)
Kip Wells (36)
Jake Westbrook (35) - $8.5MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout if club declines
Randy Wolf (36) - $10MM club option with a $1.5MM buyout
Chris Young (34)
Carlos Zambrano (32)

Jackson is basically a solid 3rd starter on most ballclubs. He's a 103 ERA+ guy the last 3 seasons and he's got a 112 ERA+ this year. He's nothing exciting but he's solid.

Though, again, I have no idea who PPP thinks Cloyd is being traded for.

Posted by: Jack | Monday, August 06, 2012 at 11:38 AM

I don't have a source...but if Roob claims another player on waivers and the other team would like to have Cloyd in return... it is a possibility.

Saunders is a guy I'd be intrigued with, and whom I'd want to hear scouting reports about, if I were Amaro.

He's a guy who, this season, has upped his K rates and lowered his walk rate. If your scouts tell you they think the improvement is real, I'd consider him on a 1-year deal to be 5th starter. However, you're taking a risk that he turns back into the guy who can't strike anyone out and puts too many guys on base to survive in a ballpark like CBP.

In light of that list, I just don't see a guaranteed contract for Blanton anywhere here. Maybe if he finishes strong.

Ramon Ortiz. Yeesh.

Also wonder what the market for Cliff Lee will materialize the way the Phils might hope. Couple of good arms here, like Anibal Sanchez.

NEPP: I agree w/r/t Jackson. He signed a one-year deal this year to build value while turning down 3-year deals elsewhere. He's not going to do that again.

There is a glut of serviceable back-end arms though, as that list shows. I'll be disappointed if Amaro signs any of them before New Year's. If he is smart, he'll wait, and I bet a few decent arms are available cheaply or on minor league deals. Hell, it could even be Blanton on a 1 year, $2MM deal. I think that would be a great value signing.

Anybody mention the fact the Royals won yesterday on a walk-off error committed by Mike Olt? Grounder to 3rd, easy double-play ball and threw it into Right Field.

Lewis, Marcum, A. Sanchez, Saunders. Those guys are whom I would gravitate towards.

Marcum and Lewis are both good pitchers who have real bad injuries this year. But that makes them cheap and worth a flyer for the 5th sport. We're not talking about signing an ace here, so you don't wanna spend more than $5 million/yr for this guy. A. Sanchez is gonna get a Joe Blanton type contract in the off season, so he'll be too expensive given the need for 1) a CF 2) Bullpen help. Saunders also would be pricey.

Who was it that hinted about a strong rotation, an improved bullpen and offense for 2013??

Exactly. A little more re-tooling, Utley and Howard working their asses off this winter...2012 will be in the rearview mirror getting smaller and smaller

Dh Phils, Worley's blow-up was in his 2nd start back last May.

After that the team won his next 12 starts and he went 7-0 without a loss until September.

Worley is now sportinga 3.63 ERA, with decent peripherals, despite bone chip in his elbow.

Worley has thus far turned out to be a better pitcher than I thought he would be, but he needs to work on his stamina to go longer in games.

His 3.63 ERA for 2012 (3.19 for his career) is #2/3 starter level, not #4/5.

Since last May he's only given up more than 4 runs in 5 of his starts.

If he's able to repeat this performance next season he' be one of, if not the best, #4 in MLB.

Also, if he pitches to a 3.63 ERA next season, they may be able to take the risk of a rookie in the #5 spot.

Blanton is going to get a 1/2 yr deal worth $5-6M AAV.

I would rather have him back next year at $4-5M as a starter than KK at $4.5M.

He's had a solid year but more importantly showed teams he could make 30+ GS/~200 IP.

awh: I agree with all of that. I'm a big Worley fan. I was just trying to point out that the "swingman" role may not be for everyone (although, admittedly, one data point is not enough to prove that, especially when the one data point is questionable, and I can't readily think of other examples).

I still think my point stands: that considering the availability of serviceable arms on the free agent pitching market, Kendrick would be best used as a 6th starter.

I've noticed Utley also and mentioned it in a thread the other night. Enjoying the return of the short, crisp swing that isn't just an upper body slash. Hope he stays healthy, he seems to be rounding into a groove that reminds me just a bit of the St. Utley days.

J's hypothetical rotation above - assuming reasonable health for all and that the Doc going forward is more like Saturday's Doc than the other Doc we've been seeing - is better than a decent rotation. If some gaps can be plugged for the positions, could be exciting.

Lots of assumptions about health of prominent players though, as always for this aging club. Howard, Utley, Worley, Doc are all legit question marks in that regard.

Don't know Fox, but seems like a decent pickup - not like a young Piazza or Bench is around to grab. I'm liking what I've seen of Kratz thus far.

DH, agree. If Worley can repeat and Doc and Lee rebound, then givng a rookie a shot and using KK as the swingman makes the most sense to me.

I'm sure, however, that KK's agent wouldn't like it much.

My belief (and I would like to see if anyone agrees with it) is that "roster balance" is somewhere between overrated and meaningless. It is important from a variance perspective: an unbalanced roster is more likely to have a disaster season like this one, but I don't think the win expectation is any lower with an unbalanced roster vs. a similarly talented, more balanced roster.

For example, if a third base improvement from Frandsen to Izturis is going to cost $6M, and a 5th starter improvement from Cloyd to Marcum is going to cost $6M (and the budget dictates only choosing one), I wouldn't worry about being too starter-heavy. I would take the starting pitcher upgrade because it adds more value than the third base upgrade, even if it means having to use a terrible third baseman.

Kuroda is the guy I'd target, if the Yankees won't make a bid to keep him. McCarthy I liked, until BAP pointed out his home/road splits.

Jackson will cost too much, and with KK already in the fold for 3.5 million, I doubt Amaro will spend that big for a 5th starter.

DH Phils: You would think fans of the Phillies would understand that point more than most, considering the 102-win 2011 Phillies team was led almost entirely by dominant starting pitching.

"...even if it means having to use a terrible third baseman."

Understand the theory and you're probably right, but then I think back to the golden era of Bell/Helms at third and my fan's mind bends. I remember being happy about Nunez playing third. The upside is I guess it's easy for me to be happy, but still...

"I'm not one of those people who thinks Tyler Cloyd is the savior of the rotation--he most likely would not be an improvement over KK as a starter"

Jack- What a Clout-ish thing to say. Is there anyone who believes Cloyd to be a "savior"?

Sidebar from the list of FA SPs (I know they don't fit in the Phils plans):
Think the options will be picked up on Haren, Myers, and/or Peavy? expensive options, but also expensive buyouts...

"Boras is probably looking for a 3-4 year deal at 8 figures AAV. Something like 3/$30 at a minimum I would bet."

Edwin Jackson turned down a three year, $30M offer this past winter to sign a 1 year, $11M deal with Washington. He clearly expects to do better than this based on his performance this year, which is arguably tracking to be his best season in the majors.

Jason W, I work in Houston and I don't have a clue of what the Astros are doing. I don't think they do, either. They've done a salary dump to make the balance sheet look pretty. They play in a nice air conditioned park with real grass, so going to a game is always a fun experience, but the lack of stars = a lot of empty seats.

While driving to work this morning, I was tuned into the Astros flagship station, 740-AM. They had on the Astros President to announce that they are having a contest to hire a field reporter for the radio feed. They are touting it as an entry level position, similar to what Ken Rosenthal does on the Fox broadcasts. This is what they are worried about.

I see a full blown youth movement and some cellar dweller seasons as they enter the AL. They'll probably spend a season learning the difference between the NL and the AL before doing anything to improve the team. I'm glad that I'm a Phillies fan, even with this horrible season, as we know the Phillies will try to improve quickly with none of this youth movement fill the roster with AA and AAA players nonsense.

Kuroda is a guy I have zero interest in. I know he's having a great season despite playing in a very tough park in a tough division but I wouldn't go near him. He's 37 right now and he'll get a multi-year deal. Odds are he'll hit the wall in the near future and you'll end up massively overpaying him.

Chase Utley is still an elite 2B and one of the very best in the game. THe problem will be that he can only be at that level around 120 games a year. We need a FO and a Manager that understands that about him. We cant have him out there every day starting just because he's still an elite hitter.

"[Cloyd] most likely would not be an improvement over KK as a starter"

While I share that view, it would be utterly incomprehensible to me if the Phillies did not call him up for the last 2 months of the season to find out.

Lake Fred: I respect your opinion as a Houston resident, so you probably know the local sentiment and have better knowledge of the team than I do.

But it seems rather obvious what they're doing--trying to rebuild completely, stockpiling young assets, in hopes to develop a strong young core going forward. Isn't this what every bad team should do? What's the point of trying to win 80 games instead of building to be a championship contender in the future? It seems like most people in the baseball industry really respect Luhnow and what he's trying to do.

To me, the Phillies are actually the blueprint for what they should be doing--trying to develop a core like Hamels, Rollins, Burrell, Myers, Madson, Utley and Howard. The core of homegrown young players that turned this franchise around. Other examples include the Rays and Rangers, both of whom have developed sustainable runs of success by developing a ton of young talent themselves. The Pirates have been competitive the last two seasons largely along the same model.

If you're an Astros fan, it seems to me, you should absolutely support the organization trying to build something real like that than simply throwing out mediocre veterans in an attempt to win 75-80 games and appear mildly competitive. It might suck for a couple of years, but it also is really the only way to try and achieve *actual* success, meaning building a championship contender. It might not work, but it has to beat the alternative, doesn't it?

Drew Carpenter had fantastic numbers in AAA too. We might want to withold that annointing oil for Cloyd until he faces MLB hitters.

I think they go internal for the #5 spot next year, or a guy on a minor league deal. KK, Rosenberg, Cloyd, (and Lindblom in my opinion), and then a couple dumpster dives to compete in the spring.

I think Lindblom got moved to the pen out of need for the Dodgers, and should be given a shot to return as a starter with an opening next season. It may turn out that a bigger need is a reliever next season, but you could definitely get mroe value out of him if he can outperform the likes of your other #5 candidates.

alos, unrelated - Gillies demoted to Clearwater? Despite his suspension/injuries, he's putting together a good 2012 in AA. Was he moved down because of disciplinary reasons or something?

What I wouldn't give to be able to pencil Utley in for a logically chosen 120 games next year, emphasizing keeping him healthy and fresh for post season play. The other games use him selectively to pinch hit as needed.

Is that concept so far beyond Charlie and Rube?

***I think Lindblom got moved to the pen out of need for the Dodgers, and should be given a shot to return as a starter with an opening next season.***

Lindblom is a barely adequate middle reliever. He doesnt have the pitches to be a starter.

***Gillies demoted to Clearwater?***

He's doing rehab from his hamstring injury (that he reaggravated the same time as the bus driver incident).

NEPP, to paraphrase Mark Twain:

The reports of Utley's demise may be greatly exaggerated.


espn stat sorter indicates that there are only three 2B in MLB with an OPS >/= .800.

If Utley puts up an OPS of 800+ next season he will still be elite.

Now, if only Howard can fully recover.......

"We might want to withold that annointing oil for (fill in the blank) until he faces MLB (pitchers/hitters)."

"I know he's having a great season despite playing in a very tough park in a tough division but I wouldn't go near him. He's 37 right now and he'll get a multi-year deal."

No one is talking about giving him a 3-year deal. I would be tempted to give him a 2 year contract though. He's dominating in the AL, in one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in the majors.

Marcum is another guy I'd think real hard about, but he obviously has to show that his elbow injury isn't going to be an ongoing problem.

I would put money on Howard being pretty effective in 2013. He wont be worth what we're paying him but he wont be dead weight either.

DH Phils' post at 12:09 on roster balance is incredibly well-reasoned and flies in the face of the conventional wisdom of most of BL ("Too much emphasis on pitching is a bad idea"). He's exactly right, too.

Kuroda and Jackson will both be out of the Phillies' price range, and, frankly, they don't need them.

As I mentioned above, if Halladay and Lee bounce back, Hamels continues his excellence and Worley gets his elbow fixed and puts up another sub-4.00 ERA season out of the #4 spot, the 5th starter on this team will be the least of their concerns next season.

The biggest concerns, IMHO, will be:

1) bullpen depth
2) Howard
3) 3B/OF
4) OF/3B
5) the bench

I think having a legitimate 3B affects us far more than our 5th starter.

Speaking of yesterday:

I have no idea why Upton was playing such a deep RF all day. Yeah the wind was generally blowing out yesterday when it wasn't swirling.

Even when guys like Mini-Mart was up and Young/Kubel moved in yet Upton stayed deep in RF. Made little sense. Not sure if he was ignoring signs or if it was just really odd positioning by the DBacks' coaching staff.

It was stupid defensive pitching in the 9th. Why bring the infield in there to try to cut the run off at home yet leave the OFs deep?

If Upton had been playing swallow, it might have given him a shot at that ball Howard hit. Playing as deep as he was, any ball hit to the OF was going to end the game automatically.

Its almost as if Upton has poor fundamentals...which is so unlike him.

NEPP: I don't think Lindblom is a great option, but I do think he should be given the chance to compete with the junk we will likely plug into the #5 spot. He has good enough command and can throw both a splitter and slider for strikes.

re: gillies

so double A guys rehab in A+ ball? Kind of strange.

Amaro is nuts if he goes out and spends big money on a FA starter. Just not a need. That would be stunning even for Amaro.

I would like to see Cloyd get 7-8 starts though to see if he can be a bit better than what KK might give as a 5th starter next year. Rather see that determined now than instead of spring training.

Rube will sign Greinke to a 7 year, $175 million deal on Day 2 of FA...and then announce that Michael Martinez will be given first crack at the starting job for 3B.

NEPP - Don't think it is poor fundamentals. I really wonder if it is Upton insisting on playing everything deep and then trying to use his speed to catch things in front of him.

Usually fast guys with good range tend to do the opposite - play shallow and then use their speed to run down balls. It was odd.

With Halliday and Lee aging and Blanton gone, it would be foolish to give up on any promising young pitcher in the farm system. Cloyd clearly deserves a look this year. Bring him up in August where more teams will be playing meaningful games.

Re: Howard

He is completely lost at the plate right now. Can't even lay off 2-strike pitches when he is down 0-2 and KNOWS he is not going to get a strike in the next pitch. Those ABs are brutal.

He did that yesterday in the 3rd inning on a slider? that was nearly a foot outside. Got loudly booed and rightly so. When up there with a clueless approach and made himself an easy out.

It hasn't helped then when he is making contact he doesn't have the same power to drive the ball either.

Giving Howard a pass on this season given on where he is at in the recovery process especially in regards to the power process.

Love to see a 2-strike analysis of Howard the last few years and how he sacks up against other power hitters.

Knows he almost is a sure bet not to see a strike 1-2 or 0-2 and yet he seems to swing with frightening regularity. Love to see some numbers to confirm that though and how he compares to other power hitters.

NEPP: You might be right, but I think it depends on the market. A "legitimate 3B" may be a fictional construct. If the choices at 3B are terrible Frandsen for $500K or bad Polanco/Izturis for $6M, and the choices for 5th starter are terrible Cloyd for $500K or average Marcum (or whoever) for $6M, I'd be inclined to upgrade the 5th starter.

We'll have to wait and see what the market looks like, but I believe (more than others, I suspect) that value is value.

awh: I quote DH Phils:

"if a third base improvement from Frandsen to Izturis is going to cost $6M, and a 5th starter improvement from Cloyd to Marcum is going to cost $6M (and the budget dictates only choosing one), I wouldn't worry about being too starter-heavy."

Of course, this would be a different argument if the 3B market wasn't completely void of talent. I think if the White Sox decline Youk's option, Amaro should pursue him. Other than that, what's the point in focusing on an area that, at the most, will only incrementally improve (and possibly cost you 5+ million)?

Like DH said, the potential upgrade of a fifth starter to Marcum is worth much more to the team, if the cost of the upgrades would be equal.

***I think if the White Sox decline Youk's option***

There is not a chance in hell of that happening.

.899 OPS in 150 PA in Chicago now.

Adrian Gonzalez' contract is more of an albatross than Ryan Howard's. Discuss.

Are their rules against paying another team Polanco's salary and buyout to take Polanco off your hands this year and then resign him at a much lower price next year?

White Sox will almost certainly decline Youk's offer. Interesting question on what he gets especially if he continues to hit well for the White Sox.

Easy see him getting a deal similar to what Aramis Ramirez (3 yr/$36M).

Amaro could get creative like the Brewers did with Ramirez and really backload it too.

Signing Youk to play 3B at say $6-7M next year, signing Bourn, and all of a sudden this lineup looks pretty decent again overall.

I don't know why Chicago would decline Youk's option unless he gets a severe injury between now and the end of the year.

I guess this is my argument. Imagine the following team in '13: a rotation of Verlander, Hernandez, Halladay, Kershaw, and Strasburg. The bullpen is Chapman, Kimbrel, Papelbon, Hanrahan, Rivera, and Motte. Meanwhile, the starting lineup is the Houston Astros' lineup from the other day (the one where Ben Francisco batted 3rd).

I would argue that team has the talent of a typical WS team, but terrible roster balance. I would argue that such a team would be a 95+ game winner, despite it's awful offense; that it doesn't matter which positions on the team have the talent/value.

Of course, this is just an opinion, and people are welcome to disagree.

One other option for the 5th starter spot could be Ethan Martin. He's young, but if he learns to command his pitches, maybe he starts sometime in 2013

Good chance the White Sox do decline Youks' $13.5M option.

They already have ~$79M committed next year and their payroll has been about ~$100M or so the last few years. Also need to fill a whole at C and in the rotation since Floyd, Pierzynski are FA and not likely to be back.

The way to test my belief would be to look at teams with especially unbalanced pitching/hitting WAR and see how their actual W/L record compares to the W/L record predicted by their WAR. Maybe if I get a free couple of hours I'll look into it.

MG: then why not exercise the option and try to trade Youk. If you say it's easy to see him getting 3/$36, presumably the Phils or another team in need of a 3b would be likely to give up something of at least moderate value to get Youk on a 1/$13. I certainly would as a GM with a blackhole looming at 3rd.

$13M option with $1M buyout on Youk.

Amaro not trading basically a utility infielder and absorbing just $2M on Youk was a mistake.

Youk is going to make a hell of a lot more than $6-7 million next year.

I could totally see him getting 3/36 if not more.

NEPP - Looked at how Melvin structured Aramis Ramirez's deal.

3 years/$36M (2012-14), plus 2015 mutual option

signed by Milwaukee as a free agent 12/13/11
12:$6M, 13:$10M, 14:$16M, 15: mutual option ($4M buyout)
$6M in salary deferred in 2014

Maybe you make the base $8M instead in '12 and then significantly backload it in '13 and '14 with a buyout option in '15 worth $3-$4M.

Amaro did that same thing with Lee's contract and others.

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