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Let’s see what we’ve got going on today in a potpourri-style format.
As predicted, Eric Byrnes was non-tendered last night. I can’t possibly think of a better way for the Cubs to turn the Jacque Jones signing into a positive. If you sum up Byrnes and Jones’ salaries, you’ll be getting solid stats from RF for the price. Assuming Dusty Baker understands what a platoon is and how all that works.
Of course, it’s probably one more roster spot than the Cubs wanted to use on this type of thing since they already have John Mabry. But Mabry can back up Aramis Ramirez, and the Cubs can carry one less pitcher and make it work. I put a word in to a Cubs source of mine, and he agreed that the idea makes sense (who wouldn’t agree) and mentioned that the Cubs have liked Byrnes in the past.
UPDATE: Just talked to a second Cubs source, and he echoed the sentiment held by many readers of the site: Hendry didn’t give Jones $16MM to platoon him. He’s a full-timer for the most part.
Kirby Arnold reports that the Mariners offered Gil Meche to the Cubs for Corey Patterson. At first, I said, "Sure, why not." But then I looked at Meche’s numbers, and I realized there’s no way he can help the ballclub. When a pitcher loses his ability to strike batters out, as Meche may have, he has to counter the increased hits he’s surrendering with good control. Or the ability to keep the ball in the park. Meche appears to have none of these traits, and would be a frustrating spot starter who would allow tons of baserunners. I might rather have Josh Fogg at this point. There’s got to be something slightly better out there for the Cubs.
Alfonso Soriano won’t move off second base for the Nationals and is pretty much raising a stink about being dealt to Washington. Let’s see here, are there any teams with GMs dumber than Jim Bowden who might make a trade for Sori? Dan O’Brien’s club doesn’t have a need for a 2B; Placido Polanco is firmly entrenched in Detroit…maybe Littlefield is interested?
Is Millwood really getting a five year deal from someone? Insane. Incredible timing to have your 2.86 ERA season. Best timing award for the NL: Todd Jones.
My Mets guy is saying the club is still talking to the Dodgers about Jeff Kent, but right now it’s a "pipe dream." Doesn’t seem like the two teams will agree on anything. The Mets still have some faith in Victor Zambrano (or maybe they’re just trying to save face), but Omar feels that after adding Julian Tavarez his bullpen will be pretty much set.
The Mariners seem desperate to get rid of Jeremy Reed after pushing hard to obtain him for Freddy Garcia. I guess they don’t understand that center fielders are hard to find and Reed will get better. After the masterstroke that was the Johjima signing, Bill Bavasi has taken a step backward with Jarrod Washburn.
The Yankees snagged center fielder Johnny Damon for four years, $52MM, making the winter splash we’ve come to expect from them. I had Damon as the 12th best free agent on the market, but I guessed wrong that he’d re-sign with Boston. I will give myself a minor pat on the back for coming within $2MM of his contract, however.
Back in mid-October, I explained why I thought Damon at four years was going to be a bad signing. His defense is slipping big-time, and his bat isn’t far behind. In 2008 and 2009, the Yankees might have another Bernie Williams-type liability on their hands.
That said, it’s the Yankees. If they want to treat Year 4 and maybe Year 3 of this deal as sunk costs, they can do that. He’s still the best option for 2006 (given that they already tried Kenny Lofton) and this type of thing is expected from the Yankees.
One last thing – it’s really cool to see an article of mine up on Fox Sports. Thanks to all those who read what I write and have given me opportunities.
Randy Johnson and Mark Prior both had disappointing seasons in 2005. Johnson didn’t meet high expectations based on his past performance, and Prior’s season has caused some to question whether he’ll ever be an ace. I’ve done my best to project both pitchers’ 2006; check it out at RotoAuthority as a sneak peek before my 2006 Fantasy Guide becomes available.
The Cubs cornered the market on guys who sound like they’re French but aren’t by signing Jacque Jones to a three-year, $16MM deal to play alongside Juan Pierre. Rounding out the French wannabe All-Star team are Alexis Rios, Joaquin Benoit, and Xavier Nady.
I’m guessing Cubs fans will be less than thrilled with this signing based on the initial reaction. That the deal was for three years only adds to the anguish. Here’s how lboros at Viva El Birdos put it:
"Encouraging news out of the Windy City, per Sun-Times: the Cubs reportedly have made an offer to Jacque Jones. A double gift — like having a tornado just barely miss your house and instead tear the roof off your obnoxious neighbor’s place."
Yep, that pretty much sums it up from a Cards fan point of view. I’m trying to find a silver lining here for Cubs fans. Jones was exactly as good as Jeromy Burnitz in 2005 – tied for the 9th best RF in the game. Slight positive note: Jones is a slightly better player once you even out their playing time. I’m really grasping here, but if Jones somehow returned to his 2002 level – .300/.341/.511 – that would be on par with what Jorge Posada and Jorge Cantu did in 2005. OK, that was weak.
The best Cubs fans can hope for is that Jones gets platooned at some point in the near future. Here’s his line against righties for each of the last three seasons:
So that’s tolerable. Let’s see here, are there any available lefty mashers who can play the outfield? Here’s a short list of available outfielders and their lines against lefties in 2005.
Kevin Mench .296/.380/.600
Craig Monroe .303/.360/.549
Preston Wilson .262/.336/.571
Eric Byrnes .344/.406/.599 (2004)
Byrnes might be non-tendered tonight by the Orioles; why not take a flyer on a fun, hardworking player who can hide Jacque’s inadequacies? Such a move would greatly redeem Hendry in my mind, and he’d look less dumb too.
According to 2005 WARP (a Baseball Prospectus stat that combines offense and defense), Coco Crisp was the game’s 8th best left fielder in 2005. He won’t be a free agent until after the 2009 season, according to Unofficial Major League Baseball. For a Cleveland club in need of an additional bat, trading Crisp away doesn’t seem reasonable. For the price, Crisp is a nice guy to have around.
Nonetheless, a couple of sources are saying the Indians are definitely entertaining offers and the Cardinals have inquired. As useful as Crisp is, it’s never a bad idea to entertain offers.
Via the trustworthy Hawg Wild, Viva El Birdos confirms the Cards’ interest. Lboros has the scoop on some other Cards buzz going around as well.
I can’t vouch for this link, which comes via the grapevine and has a story with it.
Jason Marquis for Crisp would seem to be an even swap, but that’s just speculation. You can check out Baseball America’s top ten prospects for the Cardinals here; it’s possible a package of a few of the non-Reyes guys could entice Mark Shapiro. More likely he wants a Major League starter in return.
Update: A lot of folks have contested my comment above that Marquis-Crisp would be an even swap, and rightfully so. The biggest difference is less in talent level than in the contracts of each player. Anyway, for the most thorough and insightful discussion of Coco Crisp trade possibilities, check out lboros’s post today over at Viva El Birdos.
I’m kind of new to this whole feeds thing, I have to admit. I threw some links in the sidebar under Syndication; let me know if these suit your needs.
Kevin Towers made a great trade today, acquiring promising youngsters Chris Young and Adrian Gonzalez (plus Terrmel Sledge) for Adam Eaton and Akinori Otsuka. I didn’t think a deal was imminent yesterday, but I also didn’t think Jon Daniels would surrender a comparable, younger pitcher in the trade.
In what way is Adam Eaton better than Chris Young? Putting their numbers side by side, I’d say Young is already the preferable pitcher. Their strikeout rates are comparable, and Young’s superior control results in fewer baserunners. Young’s durability is an unknown, but it couldn’t be much worse than Eaton’s. Eaton’s had a nice assist from Petco, while Young threw well in his initial exposure to the pitchers’ hell that is Ameriquest. Throw in the fact that Young is four years away from a big payday while Eaton is right around the corner, and this looks like Jon Daniels’s first misstep.
What’s more, Adrian Gonzalez is a better bet than Akinori Otsuka. Gonzalez hit .338/.399/.561 in his third crack at Triple A this year. He never stuck with the Rangers, but only received 192 at-bats in the Majors. He’s a useful player at his current level, and at 23 years old he can certainly improve.
Otsuka showed some serious signs of decline in his second Major League season. He’s 33 years old and had a dangerously bad walk rate in ’05. Strikeouts were down as well. He still may be helpful to the Texas bullpen, as he appears to keep the ball in the yard. But keep in mind that’s based on just 66 non-Petco Major League innings.
The Otsuka-Gonzalez part of the deal is still fairly reasonable in light of each team’s needs. Replacing Eaton with Young, however, heavily favors the Padres.
A new Cubs trade rumor found its way into my inbox this morning courtesy of loyal reader Derek. Yesterday, Jim Williams wrote a column for the Washington Examiner suggesting the Cubs might deal Kerry Wood for Jose Vidro and Ryan Church this spring.
He mentions the health issues surrounding both Wood and Vidro and that both players would have to be ready to play. Williams also says Wood’s huge contract could be a concern. Looking at the numbers, Wood makes $11MM in 2006 and has a $13.5MM option for 2007 with a $3MM buyout attached. Vidro will make $7MM in ’06, $7.5MM in ’07, and $8.5MM in ’08. Church makes the minimum, having played just 132 games in the bigs.
I talked to three of my Cubs sources to see if they thought this rumor had any validity. One called it "totally absurd." The another said that given Wood’s blanket no-trade clause, the rumor’s not feasible. I haven’t been able to find Jim Williams’s email address to ask him about that aspect of the deal. A third source called the rumor sounded "shaky," saying that Wood would probably approve a deal to the Astros or Rangers, but not the Nationals. He mentioned that Wood will need more than spring training to prove his shoulder is healthy, and a July trade wouldn’t be a surprise.
My thoughts on the players: Vidro’s decline is coming on fast and he may never be completely healthy again. Church will be a solid Major Leaguer if he gets the opportunity. Wood seems destined for the bullpen in the long-term, perhaps with a Gagne-like run in the cards.
The Jeff Kent to the Mets rumor first surfaced in early December. Now it’s rearing its ugly head again, this time courtesy of Gotham Baseball. According to author Mark Healey, Anderson Hernandez would be involved and the deal could happen soon. I asked my Mets source for his take on the Kent possibility.
He told me the deal isn’t nearly as close as the article might imply. He said the Mets are willing to part with Anderson Hernandez, but the catch is that the Dodgers have to take Kaz Matsui too. No money would be exchanged. My source thinks this is simply a proposal the Mets put out there to get the ball rolling; Ned Colletti would never make the trade as described.
My source puts the ultimate chances of a deal at 50/50, and mentioned that ditching Matsui and adding one more 100 RBI bat at the same time would definitely be a feather in Omar’s cap. However, even as a cash-saving move, this doesn’t make a lot of sense for the Dodgers. I’ll keep you posted as further permutations leak out.