There are a couple of opinions I'm forming that I'm kind of afraid to admit. They don't seem to be on bound with most of what I've read, though a few might agree. Might as well 'fess up.
The first one is that the Mariners didn't get ripped off on the Horacio Ramirez for Rafael Soriano trade. This opinion began forming before I read about Soriano looking like a lost puppy on the mound and topping out at 91.
There's been a lot of Horacio-bashing, and obviously the thought of a soft-tossing bottom-rotation guy doesn't excite the way a flamethrowing setup man does. But some points on Ramirez first. He's left-handed and he just turned 27. He gets groundballs 54% of the time. A concussion, hamstring strain, and torn finger ligament marred his '06 season. He'll give up a ton of hits, but could be good for 32-33 starts, tons of grounders for Lopez and Betancourt, and decent control. I could see a 4.50 ERA from him in 200 innings next season. He's got three years before free agency; league average pitchers make a lot more than $3MM these days. League average guys could cost $10MM in 2008.
I can see how this trade still favors the Braves but it doesn't seem like a huge rip-off to me. The bummer is that Bavasi could've gotten more for Soriano.
On the other hand, I'm not impressed by the Jason Schmidt signing. At least here I have some good backup. I ran my own projection for Schmidt the other day, and arrived at a 3.95 ERA in 198 innings. The ZiPS projection system at Baseball Think Factory came to a very similar conclusion. Schmidt's not an ace anymore, and paying $16MM for the 36 year-old version could be ugly. I don't think the Dodgers made a mistake here; they can afford Schmidt and he makes them a better club next year. I'm just not calling this a bargain or the deal of the winter or something.
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