Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Chase DeJong...Climbing the Blue Jays Prospect Ladder

The Blue Jays traded away most of their top prospects this off-season. In the process of doing so, they fell from the #1 ranked farm system in 2012, to the 22nd for the upcoming season(Minor League Ball ranks). Ever since AA first built that great minor league system, it has been built on strong pitching, not  the toolsy position players who are very raw and would need to mature quite a bit to become top prospects that AA drafted. So, now that 2/3 of the famous Lansing 3 are gone, new names are rising up the ranks in the Jays system. One of these faces is Chase DeJong. Chase was a 2nd round draft pick by your Toronto Blue Jays last June, and scouts say he projects to be a mid-rotation starter with three above average pitches. I'm not going to go further into detail regarding his stuff ect... because Isaac covered him(Click HERE for the link) in our top prospect list, where he ranked 17th(he was 13th on the aggregate list). Chase will go into camp in a few weeks with uncertainty as where he'll end up in 2013 is a mystery right now, but one thing is for sure. If he can repeat his 2012 performance, he'll be right up there with the likes of Nolin, Stroman, and Sanchez come prospect ranking time next year. Oh, I forgot to mention that I had the chance to interview him a few days ago. Here it is. Enjoy!

First off, how did you enjoy your first season(albeit a short one) this past year, pitching for the Blue Jays in the Gulf Coast League?
I enjoyed everything about playing in the GCL. I knew going into the season I wasn't going to get called up because I was a high school sign and because of the large inning total I brought with me from my senior season (Area Codes, Team USA, high school season, pro scout workouts). So in light of that, I set goals for myself when I first when down to Florida accordingly. I went down there just trying to get used to the 5 day rotation that comes with being a starter and to work hard enough to get invited to fall instructional league. I knew what to expect from the physical side of developing as a baseball player, but I really enjoyed being able to pick the brains of all the minor league coaches and coordinators during instructs. 
The Blue Jays top pitching prospects going into this off-season were the members of the "Lansing 3". They climbed the lower levels of the minor league system together, and grew into the top prospects they are now, with each other. Do you feel this is how the club will handle the first stages of your minor league career along with that of Tyler Gonzales and Matt Smoral? 
To be honest, I have know idea how much that was intentional on the club's part or if that is just what happened with the Lansing 3 because of the decisions based on their individual efforts. There are a lot of pitching prospects in the Jays minor league system right now and I'm sure that the administrators plan to get each of us ready according to what we need and what is most beneficial for our club. If that turns out to be what happens with us, that's great but we have no idea of their intention at this point. My job is to take the mound with determination to dominate every hitter I face. That's every pitcher's job and it's the administrations job to decide where each of us will do that. 
What pitches do you throw? What are the speeds you throw at? What is your best pitch, and what type of pitcher are you(strikout, groundball,fly ball)?
I think the success of my pitching has more to do with how I pitch then what I throw. When I first started pitching my dad told me that I was not going to be a thrower, I was going to be a pitcher. He made sure I understood the value of locating my pitches even at an age where just throwing the ball hard would get the batter out. That advice was invaluable and I think that's why I'm not limited by having one or two pitches. I can throw all of my three pitches (fastball, curveball, and change up) in any count to a variety of locations. As far as my speed goes my fastball can be anywhere from 88-94 consistently low 90's upper 80's on two seams. My curveball and change up are the two pitches that set me apart because right now I have a big league average fastball. I mix my pitches as much as i need to and it has resulted in me being a strike out pitcher. It does drive my pitch count up but that just comes with the territory it also hold me more accountable for my walks and endurance. 
Have you been told where you'll be pitching this year(at least to start the season)?


What are your goals for the 2013 season?

I have not been told where I will be pitching next year. I will know at the end of spring training.  My goals for the 2013 season consist of breaking camp with the Lansing team and pitching in the 5 man rotation up there. Also I'm working on gaining velocity on my fastball but more importantly gaining down hill plane. 

In a small sample size of 12.0 IP in 2012, you didn't allow a home run. Is this normal, or do you tend to be hurt by the long ball? 
I haven't been one to give up too many home runs but I do understand that making 20 plus starts in a year a few home runs will be inevitable. It's my job to limit the number of those by being in control to make sure that my team always has a chance to win when I take the ball.
You just turned 19 a few weeks ago, so you're quite young still. Do you feel this could be an issue if you're to pitch in Vancouver or Lansing this season, facing college level talent, or do you view it as an opportunity to show your ability? 
The reason why I'm not nervous about pitching against older, more established hitters is that I have done it before and I have been successful in the past. If I was worried about not being able to get them out it would have been better for me to go to college to learn how to get them out for three years and then come play pro ball. I believe that if you want to get better, you need to compete against the best. I love the challenge, I love to work hard, I love to learn and the difficulty of this process is exactly what I signed up for. Facing better hitters is a good thing for a pitcher because it keeps you accountable for every pitch that leaves your fingers and again, I love that responsibility.

I'd like to thank Chase for taking time to do this interview with me, and wish him all the best for the coming season!

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

George Kottaras - Baseball's Rodney Dangerfield

George Kottaras... Baseball's Rodney Dangerfield  

    Anyone who happens to follow me on Twitter (@Mentoch, cheap plug!!) knows that I have an unhealthy obsession with Canadian backup catcher George Kottaras.  In my mind he is the most underrated player in all of baseball, and that became even more clear in the past few days, when he was claimed off waivers by the Kansas City Royals.  I'm going to use this space to both extol his virtues, but also to explore some of the reasons why he seems to get no respect.

Let's start this off with 3 blind resumes from 2012.

If you aren't familiar with any of the stats I use here, I'd direct you to the Fangraphs glossary...


Player A - .351 OBP, .415 Slg %, 114 wRC+, 17.7 BB%, 23.0 K%, .205 ISO

Player B - .365 OBP, .420 Slg%, 120 wRC+, 14.9 BB%, 16.6 K%, .168 ISO

Player C - .352 OBP, .384 Slg%, 104 wRC+, 14.1 BB%, 14.1 K%, .142 ISO

    Player A there is my beloved Mr. Kottaras, Player B is the Clevelands star catcher (and sometimes first baseman) Carlos Santana, and Player C is Tigers starter Alex Avila.  While those lines aren't identical, they share a lot in common. All three players are left handed (Santana's actually a switch hitter), have well above average walk rates, strong power in their bat, and middling defensive reputations.  However Santana's bat is regarded well enough to play 1st base on his days off, and Avila is one of the most entrenched starters in the majors.  Kottaras on the other hand has switched teams twice in 6 months for either no, or next to no compensation.

     When we look at why Kottaras gets treated so differently, I think it boils down to a very simple stat.  One that I thought the industry had largely moved past, and that's batting average.

Kottaras - .211 (2012), .220 (Career)

Santana - .252 (2012), .247 (Career)

Avila - .243 (2012), .261 (Career)

    Of course, Kottaras's .211 batting average is VERY poor, however he more than compensated for it by posting the 2nd highest walk rate in the league (behind fellow Canadian, and Superman impersonator Joey Votto).  That more than compensates for his deficient contact rate.

    I don't want this to be construed as me suggesting that Kottaras is some kind of elite talent, who deserves a starting job, like Santana and Avila do.  He is not a starting calibre catcher, because he certainly has his flaws beyond his contact rate.  He defence can be a bit erratic, specifically throwing out base stealers.

    However, Kottaras is exactly what I look for in a bench player, and that is skills in certain areas that can be used as a weapon.  His left handedness is one of those skills since the majority of starting catchers are right handed.  His elite on base ability is another, allowing him to pinch hit late in a game when you need a baserunner to get a rally started.  Finally his above average power is another late game weapon if one swing could change the game.

    From a Blue Jays perspective, I think we should look at him going to the Royals as a major plus.  I was very concerned when he became available that he would wind up in the division on either the Rays or Yankees.  With the Yankees apparently going into the season with Chris Stewart, and Francisco Cervelli (or possibly prospect Austin Romine) behind plate,  Kottaras would've represented a significant upgrade.

     The Rays on the other hand appear set with pitch framing ace Jose Molina entrenched as the starter, and while Kottaras wouldn't be likely to unseat him in the starters role, as I previously mentioned, he'd be a valuable piece off the bench.  That being said he could've been an excellent offense/defence time share, and been a massive upgrade on Jose Lobaton in the backup role.

    One last aspect to this story could be its impact on the Canadian World Baseball Classic team.  Kottaras was a notable omission on the initial roster that was released last week.  Presumably this was because he needed to go to camp to ensure his spot on a major league roster.  Hopefully with him going to a team like the Royals, who seem almost assured to start him on the club that may free him up to join Russell Martin behind the plate clad in red and white.  Its still a bit of a long shot, but I've got my fingers crossed.

    I'll close things out by wishing my favourite player the best of luck in Kansas City.  He's become one of baseball's vagabonds the past year, and he deserves a chance to settle in somewhere.  Regardless of where he goes, know that your #1 fan is always in your corner.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Budget Fantasy Baseball League

Budget Fantasy Baseball League

Back in 2009, ESPN did a fun project where they asked 4 of their "experts" (Scare quotes included because of Steve Phillips participation) to put together a 25 man roster with just a budget of $40 million.  Below is the link to the fist 5 rounds along with the rules they used.


After seeing this, I thought it would be a brilliant idea to base a fantasy league around, so myself and 7 other people started, and we've run a variant of that league for the past 4 seasons (adjusting budgets according to how many people were included).

Our scoring has changed from year to year from a basic roto league, to one using raw WAR, and some variations in between. Its been scored manually by my co-commissioner (who you can follow @JJJJShabado), and the draft was done in slow online fashion.  Meaning you'd have 8 hours to make your pick, and it would snake back to you.

This year I'd like to expand the league to 12 teams (and maybe more depending on interest), and with likely only 6 of us returning I'm using this blog as a way to garner prospective new owners.
I'm debating the way that the league will be scored this year, right now I'm thinking of doing it 5x5, but with advanced stats, however we could go with the basic WAR route.  All of the details are still up in the air, and will be finalized when the league owners have been confirmed.

If this sounds like something you'd be interested in please contact me via email (Ewandonaldross@gmail.com), and please put "Budget league" in the subject line.  Spots will be limited, and I'm not even sure how many are available to begin with.

For reference, below is a link to the variation that Beyond the Boxscore ran in 2011(not sure if they still are)


Hope to hear from many of you, and whether you are selected or not, I'll contact you to let you know.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Jays sign DeRosa, Make me look Good...

The best feeling in the world is being right. AA fulfilled my wish/prediction of signing Mark DeRosa to be the 25th man on this 2013 team by agreeing to a 1 year MLB contract worth $750K, with an Anthoption for 2014 at the same value. Sam Dyson was DFA'd to make room for DeRosa on the 40-man. My words on DeRosa from January 10th...

Lastly, Mark DeRosa. He is the best of the 2(in my opinion). At 37, he is getting up in there in years, and has stated that he isn't certain what his future holds for him(although he has also stated he'd prefer to re-sign with the Nats). Throughout his career he has been on base against lefties over 36% of the time, and, in 2012, that number was close to 33%, not so bad for a bench player. He can do everything a utility infielder needs to do, and, once John Gibbons gets fed up with Adam Lind's inability to hit a southpaw, he can be a nice platoon partner with him. He can play basically every position on the diamond(nobody said he can do it well), so defense isn't much of a problem with him either. I like him.
After starting with 15 possible names, I've narrowed it down to 2 players who are a fit for the Blue Jays' 25th roster spot(of course, there are minor league free agents and players signed to teams that I didnt look at). AA said what he wanted, and after that whole process, Mark DeRosa makes the most sense as the utility infielder/platoon partner for Adam Lind in my opinion. 
Basically, Mark DeRosa will play very few games in 2013.He's the 25th man  for a reason. he is a good bat to platoon with Lind if needed, and, theoretically, Gibbons can even play Melky Cabrera in center versus lefties, with DeRosa playing left. This would allow Colby Rasmus to avoid lefties, something he needs to do almost as much as Adam Lind does.

Honestly, for the 25th man, he's great. If he truly is a great "clubhouse guy", who cares how he hits? I know I don't, and I'd gladly pay to see him against lefties rather than Lind or Rasmus. Marginal victories are worth a lot, and DeRosa might just be the guy who gets us some.

The Jays are going to play meaningful games in September, do you actually care if the 25th roster spot is occupied by Mark DeRosa? The answer should be no.

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Friday, January 18, 2013

What would an Extension for Former Blue Jay Aaron Hill Look like?

Hill also showcases brilliant defense
to go along with his offense
 that appeared again this season.
Reports surfaced recently that the Diamondbacks and second baseman Aaron Hill are discussing a contract extension. The 30 year old was acquired in August of 2011 along with SS John McDonald for fellow second baseman Kelly Johnson, and is scheduled to be a free agent at the end of the 2013 season.. The trade was supposed to be a fresh start for the centrepieces(Hill/Johnson), but unfortunately for us Jays fans, it didn't pan out like that. Johnson tied a Blue Jay strikeout record in 2012, and is likely only going to get a minor league deal as a free agent in the next couple of weeks, while in Arizona, Hill rediscovered himself and was worth 6.2 fWAR this past season, his highest total of his career  So, given Hill''s inconsistent past, how much will he be able to fetch from the D-Backs in a contract extension?

Recently, Ian Kinsler of the Texas Rangers and Brandon Phillips of the Reds, both second baseman, signed contract extensions. Kinsler was 29 when he was extended, and Phillips was 30, so they both fit quite well if you want to compare the 3. From the time they became regulars in the MLB, to when they were extended, both Kinsler and Phillips played 6 years in the majors. In those 6 seasons, Kinsler produced a fWAR of 26.7, good enough for an average of 4.0. Phillips was worth 27.9, for an average of 4.7 per season. Hill, in his career, which spans 7 seasons(Not counting his 2008 year where he was injured for the season in May), averages 2.9 fWAR per season.

From there it seems like Hill is 1-1.5 wins worse than Kinsler and Phillips career wise, but it isn't so. 2010 and 2011 were horrible years for Hill, but they had more to do with his BABIP outage, then him not producing.

In 2010, a year after taking home the AL Silver Slugger for 2nd base and signing a new extension with the Blue Jays, Hill experienced his worst season of his career. But, Hill was not to blame. Luck was. Aaron was still driving the ball(26 home runs), but his BABIP was a ridiculous .196. That's close to 100 points below Hill's career norm, which is the mean in the MLB. So, we can discount 2010 because of how much it was effected by BABIP. Finding his new WAR average with the changes listed above, it is much closer to Phillips and Kinsler, as he is worth around 3.2 fWAR. A little closer to Phillips and Kinsler, so we'll compare them now.

The following chart is Kinsler/Phillips' 6 years averages that they were starters before their respective extensions, and Hill's 6 years that don't include his injury plagued 2008, and his BABIP driven 2010.

Aaron Hill
Brandon Phillips
Ian Kinsler

From that chart, we could see that the 3 are actually very similar, although the best comparison would be with Phillips(even though he is worth more 1.5 wins per year more). So, lets look at the extension Phillips got, and then determine what Hill will likely get if the Reds and Hill do come to an agreement. 

Phillips signed last spring for $72.5MM over 6 years(AAV of $12MM), covering his age 30-36 seasons. Hill will be 32 when his possible extension will start, so I wouldn't expect anything more than a 3 year contract with a team option attached to it for his age 36 season.

1 WAR these days goes for around $5 MM per year. But, given Hill's age, his lack of durability(compared to Phillips at least), his declining defense (which was once the best in the game at his position), and his relative inconsistency, we'll set it at $3.5MM per WAR for Hill. Now, assuming he regresses at a rate of 0.5 WAR per season, he'll be worth around 12 WAR in a 3 year contract. So, that comes out to a contract in the range of 3 years at $42 million($14 MM AAV). 

If these contract talks do progress, which I'm sure they will, Hill will be in for a nice payday, but it all comes down to the amount of risk the Diamondbacks are willing to put into the contract. $42 million is a lot of money to give to a player that has had 1 good year in the last 3, especially because of his injury history, and because he's on the wrong side of 30. But, if a 3 year contract in the range of $35-45 million gets done, I think both sides would be pleased(although Hill would get more on the FA market). 

Aaron was one of my favourites to watch while he was a Blue Jays, and the di-cycle second baseman will never be forgotten in the hearts of Jays fans. Now lets see if he can agree to a nice payday that he has earned!

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Analyzing the Offseasons of the AL East

With Spring Training right around the corner, (pitchers and catchers report in less than a month) it would appear that most teams are done making major moves. This is why I think it's fair that we can now analyze the offseasons of the AL East, as even if any AL East teams do sign one of the 3 remaining major free agents, the team doesn't change enough for my opinion on how the offseaon has gone for that given team. I will go through each team and tell you what they did, show you their projected lineup and rotation, give you my thoughts, and give an overall verdict and grade. I will go in order, based on the standings from 2012.

New York Yankees 
2012 Record: 95-67 
Key Acquisitions: Kevin Youkilis via free agency (1 year, $12 million), Russ Canzler (Waiver Claim from Indians) 

Re-Signed: Andy Pettite (1 year, $12 million), Hiroki Kuroda (1 year, $15 million), Ichiro Suzuki (2 years, $13 million), Mariano Rivera (1 year, $10 million). 

Key Departures: Nick Swisher (to SEA), Russell Martin (to PIT), Raul Ibanez (to SEA), Rafael Soriano (FA) 

Projected Lineup and Rotation: 

1. RF Ichiro Suzuki
2. SS Derek Jeter
3. 2B Robinson Cano
4. 1B Mark Teixeira 
5. CF Curtis Granderson
6. 3B Kevin Youkilis 
7. DH Eduardo Nunez (sometimes Russ Canzler) 
8. LF Brett Gardner
9. C Chris Stewart

1. LHP CC Sabathia
2. RHP Hiroki Kuroda
3. LHP Andy Pettite 
4. RHP Phil Hughes
5. RHP Ivan Nova 

CP- Mariano Rivera
SU- David Robertson 

The fact is, the Yankees didn't get any better this offseason. They didn't upgrade at a single position. I do give them credit for re-signing numerous free agents that are keys to the team, but I don't think it was enough. Losing Swisher and Martin are the 2 biggest blows to the team, especially since they don't have any players to fill in at both DH or catcher (until Gary Sanchez is ready). Having Nunez and Stewart or Romine in the lineup every day should prove to be a huge disappointment. I don't think that Youkilis will be as bad of a signing as people say he will be, and once A-Rod comes back, their offence should get a huge boost.
The Yankees got worse. The offseason has been disastrous. With that being said, the Yankees are still a very good team. The Yankees didn't need to do much, but it would have been much better if they made a move for a catcher, or possibly a better DH. Every year we say that the Yankees haven't done enough, and yet they still find themselves playing meaningful baseball in October. I still expect them to be contenders to win the AL East.

Offseason Grade: C-
Overall Team Grade: A-

Baltimore Orioles
2012 Record: 93-69
Key Acquisitions: Alexi Casilla (off waivers from MIN), Trayvon Robinson (via trade from SEA), Danny Valencia (via trade from BOS).

Re-Signed: Nate McLouth(1 year, $2 million).

Key Departures: Mark Reynolds (to CLE), Joe Saunders(still a FA), Robert Andino (trade to SEA), Jim Thome (still a FA) 

Projected Lineup and Rotation: 

1. LF Nate McLouth
2. SS J.J. Hardy
3. RF Nick Markakis
4. CF Adam Jones
5. C Matt Wieters
6. 1B Chris Davis
7. DH Wilson Betemit
8. 3B Manny Machado
9. 2B Brian Roberts (or Ryan Flaherty) 

1. RHP Jason Hammel
2. LHP Wei Yin Chen
3. RHP Chris Tillman
4. RHP Miguel Gonzalez
5. LHP Zach Britton

CP- Jim Johnson
SU- Darren O'day
SU- Pedro Strop


I get it. If you use logic, you would think that if the Orioles had a successful season in 2012, that it would make sense for the O's to stay put in the offseason. Unfortunately, the 2012 season for the Baltimore Orioles completely defied logic. The O's do have some good pieces, but the fact is, they were really, really lucky last season. Based on this, I would say that the O's should have made some more moves, maybe to bring in some starting pitching or long relief help, or an upgrade at second base or left field. I like the Casilla waiver claim, but all he'll do is be a replacement to what they had in Robert Andino.


Just not enough. The Orioles just don't have enough talent to compete this year. Most of the time, when you're lucky one year, the next year you'll come back down to earth. The O's will do exactly that. The only way I can see the O's competing is if Dylan Bundy emerges onto the scene and instantly becomes a star, which isn't something completely crazy, but it usually doesn't happen, even with the best of prospects (Mike Trout was special).

Offseason Grade: D+ 
Overall Team Grade: B- (borderline C+) 

Tampa Bay Rays
2012 Record: 90-72
Key Acquisitions: Yunel Escobar (via trade from MIA), James Loney (via FA 1 year, $2 million),
Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery (all via trade from KC), Roberto Hernandez (Fausto Carmona)((via FA 1 year, 3.25M))

Re-Signed: Joel Peralta (2 years $6 million) 

Key Departures: B.J. Upton (to ATL), Jeff Keppinger (to CWS), J.P. Howell (to LAD), Carlos Pena (to HOU), Luke Scott (still a FA), Kyle Farnsworth (still a FA), James Shields, Wade Davis (Both traded to KC)

Projected Lineup and Rotation: 

1. CF Desmond Jennings
2. SS Yunel Escobar
3. 2B Ben Zobrist
4. 3B Evan Longoria
5. RF Matt Joyce
6. LF Wil Myers
7. 1B James Loney
8. DH Ryan Roberts (Maddon will use numerous players in this role) 

9. C Jose Molina

1. LHP David Price
2. RHP Jeremy Hellickson
3. LHP Matt Moore
4. RHP Jeff Niemann
5. RHP Chris Archer

CP- Fernando Rodney 
SU- Joel Peralta
SU- Jake McGee

** The Rays lineup and rotation is hard to predict right now, as a lot of it will be determined in Spring Training. You could see Alex Cobb or Jake Odorizzi in the rotation instead of Archer or Niemann, and it's unclear if Wil Myers will make the team out of camp, if not, the Rays will go with a platoon of Sam Fuld and Brandon Guyer in LF.


The Rays' moves in the offseason have been very well received in the baseball world, and rightfully so. In what was an incredibly lopsided trade, the Rays stole the Royals 3 top prospects in exchange for James Shields and Wade Davis, a trade that will surely work out very well in the long-term for the Rays, and it was possibly a trade that determined that they will be a contender in 3-5 years from now, unless Myers, Odorizzi, and Montgomery are complete busts. An under-appreciated trade that they made was the trade for Yunel Escobar. They got him for practically nothing, and many feel that he could bounce back in a big way offensively, to go along with his already stellar defense.


The offseason has been a success for the Rays. They have yet to make a move that I question. What I think is forgotten, though, is that they lost multiple impact players in James Shields and B.J. Upton. Short-term, I actually don't think that they got any better, but they certainly didn't get any worse. The best way to explain it is that they got the best out of a not-so-great situation.  Well done, Friedman.

Offseason Grade: A
Overall Team Grade: A-

Toronto Blue Jays
 2012 Record: 73-89
Key Acquisitions: R.A. Dickey and Josh Thole (via trade from NYM),  Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio, and Mark Buehrle (via trade from MIA), Melky Cabrera (via FA, 2 years, $16 million), Maicer Izturis (via FA, 3 years, $10 million), Esmil Rogers (via trade with CLE), Jeremy Jeffress (via trade with KC), Henry Blanco(via FA, 1 year, $750k.) 

Key Departures: Kelly Johnson (still a FA), Travis d'Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, and Wuilmer Beccera(all traded to NYM), Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria, Jake Marisnick, Justin Nicolino, Henderson Alvarez, and Jeff Mathis(all traded to MIA), Jason Frasor (to TEX), Omar Vizquel (retired), Brandon Lyon (Free Agency), Carlos Villanueva (to CHC). 

** Also a completely new coaching staff, that includes John Gibbons as the manager.

Projected Lineup and Rotation: 

1. SS Jose Reyes
2. LF Melky Cabrera
3. RF Jose Bautista
4. 1B Edwin Encarnacion
5. 3B Brett Lawrie
6. CF Colby Rasmus
7. C J.P. Arencibia
8. DH Adam Lind
9. 2B Maicer Izturis/Emilio Bonifacio

1. RHP R.A. Dickey
2. RHP Brandon Morrow
3. LHP Mark Buehrle
4. RHP Josh Johnson
5. LHP Ricky Romero

CP- Casey Janssen 
SU- Sergio Santos
SU- Delabar/Loup/Lincoln/Rogers (all will be used in a set-up/middle-relief role) 


Yes, this is a Blue Jays blog, but, I am not stating a biased opinion when I say the Blue Jays had the best offseason in the AL East, and possibly in Major League Baseball. All you have to look at is who the Jays got, and who left, to see that this is by far the most improved team in the Major Leagues. It isn't debatable that they got much better. I have heard an argument that the moves they made didn't help them out in the long-term, but the thing is, the Jays only have one player (Josh Johnson), who is due to be a free agent in 2014. The players that they acquired are long term players, with major league success. Many get too over-attached to the prospects, and don't understand that proven MLB talent defeats all.


The Jays are good. Really good. The only thing that they might need to work out is the bullpen, but that need can be addressed when it is a need. So what I am trying to say is that if the bullpen is struggling mid-season, they can look to trade for one more dominant relief pitcher to put them over-the-top. As for right now, the Jays will stay put.

Offseason Grade: A+
Overall Team Grade: A 

Boston Red Sox
2012 Record: 69-93

Key Acquisitions: Shane Victorino (via FA, 3 years, $39 million), Jonny Gomes (via FA, 2 years, $10 million), David Ross (via FA 2 years, $6.2 million), Stephen Drew (via FA, 1 year, $9.5M), Ryan Dempster (via FA, 2 years, $26.5 million), Koji Uehara (via FA 1 year, $4.25 million) Mike Napoli (not finalized, but had agreement, looks like 1 year deal), Joel Hanrahan (via trade with PIT) 

Re-Signed: David Ortiz (2 years, $26 million)

Key Departures: Cody Ross (to ARZ), James Loney (to TBR), Ivan Dejesus Jr (Traded to PIT), Stolmy Pimentel (traded to PIT), Mark Melancon (traded to PIT)

**Also a completely new coaching staff, with John Farrell becoming the manager. 

Projected Lineup and Rotation: 

1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
2. LF Shane Victorino
3. 2B Dustin Pedroia
4. DH David Ortiz
5. 1B Mike Napoli**
6. 3B Will Middlebrooks

7. SS Stephen Drew
8. RF Jonny Gomes
9. C Jarrod Saltalamacchia 

1. LHP Jon Lester
2. RHP Ryan Dempster
3. RHP Clay Buchholz
4. LHP Felix Doubront
5. RHP John Lackey

CP- Joel Hanrahan
SU-Andrew Bailey
SU- Koji Uehara/Junichi Tazawa


The Sox were handing out contracts like they were flyers this offseason. Any time you hand out lots of contracts to high profile free agents like they did, your team is bound to get better. And yes, the Red Sox did get much better. The question that must be asked is "is it enough to compete?" My answer to that question is yes, but just for 2013. With all of the talent that they have compiled, it would be hard to think that they won't at least be in the hunt for a wild card spot.


The Sox got better for the short-term, but not for the long-term. Many of the contracts that they gave were to players that are either on the back-end of their primes, or already completely out of their primes, and by the time their contracts are expiring, it's hard to believe that any of them will be 2+ WAR players, which just isn't worth it, considering the money that they spent.

Offseason Grade: B
Overall Team Grade: B

My final offseason grades: 

1. Blue Jays- A+
2. Rays- A
3. Red Sox- B
4. Yankees- C-
5. Orioles- D+

I hope that you enjoyed the article. If any other significant moves are made in the AL East, I will update this article and keep you posted.

You can follow me on Twitter, @IsaacBlueJays.
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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Interpreting the Ninja: 25th Man Style

Alex has many nicknames...
The Jays are contenders. The Jays have 24 men on their roster(projected). The Jays need a 25th man.

After the R.A Dickey press conference on Tuesday, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos spoke to the media about some team related things, and one of them, was the state of the 25th man on the roster. I'll let MLBTR do the quoting.
The Blue Jays are looking at ways of adding a right-handed bench player capable of playing multiple infield positions. That said, they’re considering leaving the spot open because players will inevitably become available toward the end of Spring Training when teams need roster space and out of options players get traded.
So, I decided I'll look into the remaining "right handed bench players capable of playing multiple positions" on the free agent market. Using the MLBTR database, I came up with 15 infielders (not catchers) left on the market. Then, I took away the player likely to retire(Scott Rolen), and all first baseman who don't play other infield positions(Carlos Lee, and Juan Rivera). The list is now down to 12. To narrow it down even more, lets take away all infielders who only play one position(infield position). This eliminates another 4 candidates (Jason Bartlett, Alex Gonzalez, Freddy Sanchez, and Bill Hall), bringing our total down to 8. 

The remaining candidates that fit AA's criteria are Ronny Cedeno, Alberto Gonzalez, Yuniesky Betancourt, Ryan Theriot, Ryan Raburn, Brandon Inge, Mark DeRosa, and Miguel Cairo. The problem with some of those free agents is that they will cost money, money that the Jays don't have apparently. AA has stressed that they are past their budget, and signing a FA to a major league contract isn't likely to happen. So, we can also eliminate players who are likely going to receive a major league contract. Out of those 8, I could only say that I'm confident that Brandon Inge will get a major league contract, which I'm not even certain will happen because of his terrible 2012 that was filled with injuries, and not performance. So, let's just remain at 8. Now, lets analyze the remaining players, and see which could be fits for the Jays.

AA wants a right hander for the simple reason that they usually can hit lefties, something that Adam Lind struggles mightily at. So, lets get rid of Ronny Cedeno, Alberto GonzalezYuniesky Betancourt, Brandon Inge and Ryan Raburn because they possess the same talent (or lack their of) as Lind. That leaves us with 3 players: Theriot, Cairo and DeRosa. Cairo is 38 and had a horrible year last season, so lets knock him away as well. Down to 2.

Ryan Theriot is a 33 year old second baseman from Louisiana that also plays shortstop and could roam left field if needed. He spent 2012 with the Giants putting up decent numbers offensively,and his defensive numbers were way off his career average, so there might be some reason to worry that his defensive is falling from how it used to be(league average). His speed is nothing special, although he would be a nice 2nd pinch runner off the bench behind Rajai Davis. Definitely a good option for the final spot.
Is DeRosa the best fit as 25th man?

Lastly, Mark DeRosa. He is the best of the 2(in my opinion). At 37, he is getting up in there in years, and has stated that he isn't certain what his future holds for him(although he has also stated he'd prefer to re-sign with the Nats). Throughout his career he has been on base against lefties over 36% of the time, and, in 2012, that number was close to 33%, not so bad for a bench player. He can do everything a utility infielder needs to do, and, once John Gibbons gets fed up with Adam Lind's inability to hit a southpaw, he can be a nice platoon partner with him. He can play basically every position on the diamond(nobody said he can do it well), so defense isn't much of a problem with him either. I like him.

After starting with 15 possible names, I've narrowed it down to 2 players who are a fit for the Blue Jays' 25th roster spot(of course, there are minor league free agents and players signed to teams that I didnt look at). AA said what he wanted, and after that whole process, Mark DeRosa makes the most sense as the utility infielder/platoon partner for Adam Lind in my opinion. He would likely only require a minor league deal(although it will likely have to be incentive laden), and fits the exact criteria laid down by the Ninja himself.

Have a different name in mind? Let me know your opinions below in the comments section!

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

What To Expect From Kyle Drabek In 2013 And Beyond

Guest Post by: FanDuel

With all that has happened involving the Toronto Blue Jays this offseason, it is easy to forget about one of the more hyped prospects the team still has under their control. The Blue Jays have certainly not given up on Kyle Drabek, and fans should also keep faith as he continues to recover from Tommy John surgery for the second time in his career.

Drabek has been a hyped prospect ever since the flame thrower hit high school in Texas. As the son of 1990 National League Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek, people knew he was destined for big things. The Phillies took him in the first round of the 2006 draft, but the Blue Jays acquired him as one of the major pieces in the Roy Halladay trade 3 years later. Toronto fans anxiously awaited his debut in 2010, but since then, he has not done a lot to get the fans too excited.

Going 8-15 with a 4.94 xFIP, it's his control and lack of strikeouts that have done him in. His K/9 of 5.93 and his BB/9 of 5.77 are two horrific numbers, and his command needs to be worked on big time. With the Jays big acquisitions this winter filling out the starting rotation, does the righty Drabek hold any value to the Jays?

With newcomers R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson and Mark Buerhle joining forces with Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero, it appears as though the Blue Jays have a set starting rotation that could be one of the best in the league barring injury for opening day. However, Drabek won’t be back until the middle of the summer at the earliest, so it is all about where he is then. His plus stuff, past arm issues and build all seem to indicate that his future could be in the bullpen, and because of that he will not feature highly in many 2013 fantasy baseball drafts.

At 25 years old, Toronto might not be ready to change him just yet, but Drabek seems like he could develop into a nice closer or top reliever. He has a fastball that can sit in the mid-90s, and he can compliment it with three other solid pitches. Perhaps ditching the curveball and sticking with the cutter would help him cut down on walks if he moved to the bullpen.

It's a long shot that Drabek, coming off of his second Tommy John surgery will be a valuable starter in major league baseball. But, if the Jays can fix his control issues, he could develop into a top tier reliever who sits hitters down like he did as a starter in the minor leagues!

Fans might be fed up with the lack of production from Drabek so far in his career, but he has the track record in the minors and a solid blood line to make things work when he is healthy. Any type of positive production from him in 2013 would be great, although hopefully he just gets fully healthy first.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Remaining Platoon Options

There are not many holes on the Blue Jays roster. At the end of the day, if the Jays enter 2013 with the personnel that they have right now, they would still be considered favourites to win the pennant. In my opinion, there is only one thing that needs to be improved, and that is the DH spot. Many have turned on Adam Lind, the club's current DH because he hasn't been a productive hitter since his Silver Slugger winning 2009(-1.5 rWAR since 2010).What people fail to realize, is that Lind would be a very serviceable player , if he were to only face righties. This year, he had a 116 wRC+, and a .343 wOBA vs right handed pitchers, both of which are both well above average. Unfortunately, Lind is among the worst hitters in the MLB when it comes to facing lefties (48 wRC+, .245 wOBA). In order to utilize Lind the best way possible, you would have to get him a platoon partner, to start at DH when the Jays come up against a left handed starting pitcher. In this article, I will explore the options that the Jays have in terms of acquiring someone to platoon with Lind, whether it be via free agency, a trade, or a waiver claim.

Option 1 would be to take the internal route, and use someone who is already in the organization. This option actually wouldn't be too bad. The choices you'd have are: Rajai Davis and David Cooper. First, let's explore Davis. Davis, similarly to Lind, is accused of not being able to hit. When you look at his stat-line, the accusation is understandable. But the fact is, the only reason his stats look so bad is his inability to hit righties(and a breaking ball). Against lefties, Rajai has been great, boasting a 114 wRC+ in 2012, which is superb, to those not familiar with the stat. I would have no problem with Rajai being slotted into the DH spot vs LHP. 

The final option would be David Cooper. I really like Cooper. He is a pure hitter who has shown the ability to hit for gap power, and I feel that if Cooper is in the lineup, his bat could help you win day in and day out. With that being said, for this situation, I would rather use Davis, as he can use his legs to make things happen on the base paths. Cooper is the guy that I would use if Lind struggles vs RHP, or if Lind gets hurt. Sometimes it's impossible to put out the ideal lineup though, so Cooper will probably be used in this spot sometimes as well. (If he even makes the MLB team out of Spring Training.)

If the Jays do decide to go this way, I think it'll actually make a nice rotation. The 2 players' (Davis,Cooper) average career wOBA vs LHP is .334, which is actually quite above average.

The Jays could also sign a free agent for the role. The only free agent that really makes sense for the Jays is Scott Hairston. He is known for being able to crush lefties. His career wOBA vs LHP is .353, and sports a wRC+ of 119 as well!

The Jays are stuck with Lind because nobody wants him, and his salary is too big to just stick in the minors. By only using him against righties, the Jays can at least get some value out of him. Combining him with a player like Hairston would create the best possible scenario for a team in this situation. 

Potentially, the Jays could get their man via trade, and I am not saying it can't happen happen, but I have learned that trying to speculate about what trade will happen when AA is your team's GM is just too hard to do. 

If you guys think I missed anyone (FA, or internal), feel free to let me know in the comments. I am always welcoming feedback. I hope you enjoyed. Go Jays! 

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

History of Trades for Top Pitchers

Don't be so quick to judge AA when he
gave up 2 of the Jays top 3 prospects.
     When the Blue Jays acquired starter R.A. Dickey as the final piece in their new rotation a couple of weeks ago, in addition to the Royals trading for James Shields, I was intrigued to see how similar acquisitions had worked in the recent past.  The goal was to see the success rate of teams which had traded away prospects in order to get a player who was perceived to be a “top of the rotation” starter. 
          There were 3 qualifications I used when looking for similar trades. 

1.    The team had to be acquiring the pitcher for at least a full season.  This eliminated deadline day rentals such as C.C. Sabathia to the Brewers, and the final Cliff Lee trade to the Rangers (though other Cliff Lee trades are included)
2.    The pitcher being acquired had to be viewed as a #2 pitcher or better.  This eliminated such trades as Doug Fister being acquired by the Tigers, & Shaun Marcum going to the Brewers. 
3.    I also didn't include Trevor Cahill on the list either for two reasons.  One, I feel he is closer to the likes of Marcum, and Fister than the pitchers listed below, and two I was having a tough time analysing that trade, and thought it might be too soon to do that.
       I came up with 13 trades that were comparable to the Dickey trade over the past 5 years.  Its important to note that I'm only analyzing these transactions from the perspective of the teams acquiring the pitcher.  When I say that the trade was a "win" for the buying team, I'm not saying that it was a "loss" for the seller, though in many of the examples that is the case.  
            These are the examples I came up with in chronological order…

Date – 2008, February 8th
Player Traded – Johan Santana
Teams - Min to NYM
Traded for – Carlos Gomez, Deolis Guerra, Phil Humber, & Kevin Mulvey
Contract Signed – 6 Years // $137.5M
Result –
         The Johan Santana trade, has much in common with the Roy Halladay trade.  Both trades were executed by a first time GM, forced in his first move to trade away the best pitcher in franchise history.  In this case it was the newly promoted Bill Smith being thrown into the hornets nest.
            Much like the Halladay trade, Santana was largely controlling the situation, and steered himself to the Mets, like Halladay did to the Phillies. In this situation the package of players they gave up was very highly regarded at the time, but none of them ever emerged into much of anything at the major league level. 
            Once Johan arrived in Queens, he picked up right where he’d left off in Minnesota.  In his first year as a Met, he finished 3rd in the NL Cy Young balloting, with a sparkling 166 ERA+.  Even despite the injury issues he has run across after that first season, when he’s been healthy he’s been very effective. 
            The Mets not making the playoffs in any of Santana’s seasons in New York doesn’t matter, since every player they gave up flopped in relatively spectacular fashion.
Verdict – Clear win for the Mets

Date – 2008, February 8th
Player Traded – Eric Bedard
Teams – Bal to Sea
Traded for – Adam Jones, Kameron Mickolio, George Sherrill, Tony Butler & Chris Tillman
Contract Assumed 2 Year // $14.75M
Result –
           In a word, Disaster. 
           The Mariners were tricked by an overachieving 2007, and were fooled into thinking they had had a better chance at winning than they actually did.  At the time it appeared they were getting a pitcher coming off a truly elite year, as he’d led the entire MLB in K% the previous season. 
            The Mariners thought they would be getting a pitcher to pair with Felix Hernandez atop their rotation, however his checked injury history never allowed that to happen.  He only managed to throw 160 innings in his two years in Seattle (before missing all of 2010).  Not only did Bedard fail to live up to expectations, but the rest of the team fell back to their normal level.  GM Bill Bavasi was fired within the year.
            The package of players the M’s gave up has also emerged into almost exactly what you hope doesn’t happen.  Adam Jones has become the face of the Orioles, and is now a perennial all-star centerfielder, George Sherrill gave the team a couple capable seasons as a low cost closer, & Chris Tillman has become a major league starter, if a somewhat disappointing one. 
            When you think of a trade blowing up in your face, this is exactly the worst case scenario you could imagine.
Verdict – Clear loss for the Mariners

Date – 2009, July 29th
Player Traded – Cliff Lee
Teams – Cle to Phi
Traded with – Ben Francisco
Traded for – Carlos Carrasco, Lou Marson, Jason Donald, & Jason Knapp
Contract Assumed – 1 Year+ // $8M
Result –
            Lee was acquired at the trading deadline by a Phillies team looking to ensure that they would have a strong chance to repeat as World Series champions.  To this day I really cant figure out why the Indians were so eager to move Lee.  They had him signed for another year, at a more than reasonable rate, I could’ve understood moving the reigning Cy Young winner if you’d gotten an overwhelming package but this was anything but that.
            Even though Lee had an up and down second half in Philadelphia, he really emerged come playoff time. The Phillies would go on to win all 5 starts he made in the playoffs, including 2 complete games.  Regardless of what the Phllies sent to the Indians, in exchange for Lee, this would’ve been a win for them. However, considering just how woeful the package they sent back was, I really imagine a trade working out much better.
            Now, if only they hadn’t stupidly shipped him to Seattle the following winter, but we’ll get to that in a little bit…
Verdict – Clear win for the Phillies         

Date – 2009, July 31st
Player Traded – Jake Peavy
Teams – SD to CWS
Contract Assumed – 3 Years+ // $52M (4th year option for 22M)
Result –
            At the time this trade was made, White Sox GM Kenny Williams was pilloried for gambling on Peavy.  He’d just signed a very lucrative new contract (which didn’t even start until the following year), and had been suffering from elbow and shoulder problems that season, which limited him to just over 100 innings.  The general opinion of the industry at the time was that taking on almost $20 mil per season was a lot to begin with, to say nothing of the prospects the White Sox were required to part with, which featured the White Sox top-pitching prospect at the time, Aaron Poreda. 
            Even despite Peavy posting relatively pedestrian production in his first two seasons in Chicago, the trade was already looking good for the White Sox because of how poorly the prospects sent the Padres way had performed.  However Peavy then returned to his old self in 2012, and was unfairly snubbed for an all-star appearance.
          He was good enough last year to convince the Sox he was worth a 2 year & 29 million dollar commitment. The fact that the White Sox were willing to extend him, shows rather obviously this trade worked out well for the pale hose.  
Verdict – Win for the White Sox

Date – 2009, December 16th
Player Traded – Cliff Lee
Teams – Phi to Sea
Traded With – Mark Lowe
Traded for – Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gilles & J.C. Ramirez
Contract Assumed – 1 Year // $8M
Result –
            This move is clearly the strangest and most inexplicable trade on this list.  Soon after Cliff Lee had finished putting in a playoff for the ages, and on the same day they had just finished acquiring Roy Halladay from the Blue Jays, the Phillies decided to ship lee cross country to the Mariners.  This trade made very little sense at the time.  Yes, the Phillies claimed to be at their budget, but it hardly seems like Lee’s 8 million dollar bargain was the one to send away. 
            The Mariners envisioned Lee teaming with Felix Hernandez atop the rotation for a team they thought would be a contender in 2010, coming off a surprising 86 win season.  Lee lived up to everything the Mariners could hope for and then some.  The 13 starts that Lee made in Seattle green was a half season for the ages.  The 14.83 Strikeout to Walk rate he posted was the highest of all time, and his 1.5 Walk % was the 2nd highest of all time (humorously behind Carlos Silva of all people).
            In the end, none of this mattered.  The talent around Lee & Hernandez fell apart in spectacular fashion.  The Mariners would go on to trade him once again to the Rangers at the trading deadline, in another disastrous trade (which isn’t being featured here because it was merely a rental) featuring them getting a rapist (Josh Leuke) back in return. 
            All in all, Cliff Lee had a very strange 18 months, when you think about it.
Verdict – Win for the Mariners

Date – 2009, December 16th
Player Traded - Roy Halladay
Teams – Tor to Phi
Traded for – Travid d’Arnaud, Kyle Drabek, & Michael Taylor
Contract Assumed – 1 Year // $20M
Contract Signed – 3 Years // $60M
Result –
            On the same day that the Phillies were trading away one ace in Cliff Lee, they were reloading the rotation with the pitcher considered to be he best in baseball at the time, Roy Halladay. 
        Halladay was brought on board to be a legitimate ace starter, and Doc would go on to essentially be the best pitcher in the National League for the next two seasons.  In 2010 he would lead the league in Complete Games, Shutouts, Innings, Strikeout//Walk rate and wins, and if that wasn’t impressive enough he went on to throw a no-hitter in his playoff debut. 
         The true brilliance of this trade, was that not only did the Phillies get their ace, but they only got him to sign a dramatically undermarket contract, that was only for 3 years guaranteed.  That took all the risk out of the acquisition.  In my mind this is the prototype of a deal for an ace.
Verdict – Clear win for the Phillies

Date – 2010, July 25th
Player Traded – Dan Haren
Teams – Ari to LAA
Contract Assumed – 2 Years // $25.5M – 3rd Yr Option for 15.5 (Bought out for $3.5M)
Result –
          This trade is one of the more difficult to analyse on the entire list.  At the time this trade was made, the Diamondbacks just got crucified for trading away a pitcher at the top of his game, in exchange for 3 unknown prospects, and an innings eater in Joe Saunders.  It was especially poor, when it was unveiled that the trade was mandated by new owner Ken Kennedy. 
          Now 2 and a half years later this is a much closer trade than perceived at the time.  Skaggs has emerged as a very elite prospect, who could make a major impact this season, and Corbin has already made the bigs, even if he seems destined for a bullpen or swing man role.
          However, despite Skaggs development, I still view this deal as a win for the Angels.  Down the stretch in 2010 Haren threw almost 100 IP, with a sub 3.00 ERA, as the Angels narrowly missed the playoffs.  The next year, Haren was his normal dominating self, over 230 Innings, and finishing top 10 in Cy Young balloting.
          Even despite him falling off in the final year of his contract, the two previous (especially at below market price) makes it worth the risk that Skaggs turns into a stud.
Verdict – Win for the Angels

Date – 2010, July 29th
Player Traded – Roy Oswalt
Teams – Hou to Phi
Contract Assumed – 1 Year+ // ~$20M
Result –
            In the days leading up to the 2010 trade deadline the Phillies, who had been to the last two World Series, were sitting 2.5 games back of Atlanta Braves for the division lead, and also 1 game back of the Padres for the Wild Card.  At that point, Ruben Amaro decided he needed another elite pitcher to pair with Cole Hamels & Roy Halladay.
            They found that player in Houston stalwart, Roy Oswalt.  In the 12 starts that Oswalt made down the stretch, the Phillies won 10 of them, which catapulted them over the Braves and into the division lead.  The subsequent year he was somewhat up and down, and at times derailed by a back injury, but he still provided loads of value to the a Phillies team in the middle of their mini-dynasty. 
Verdict – Win for the Phillies

Date – 2010, December 19th
Player Traded – Zack Greinke
Teams - KC to Mil
Traded with – Yuniesky Betancourt
Contract Assumed – 2 Years // $27M
Result –
            In the winter of 2010, Brewers GM Doug Melvin clearly decided that he had to maximize his team’s chances to win, given that star first baseman Prince Fielder was about to hit the open market.  Melvin decided to cash in the remaining chips in a farm system that was already looking rather poor to plug the team’s deficiency in starting pitching. 
            First he started by acquiring Shaun Marcum from the Blue Jays, and followed that up less than 2 weeks later, by getting the ace he needed if the Crew was going to be legitimate contenders.  Even despite Greinke missing the first month of the season after suffering an injury playing basketball, he managed to put up a very effective season.  He went on to lead the National League in strikeouts per 9 innings, and the Brewers won 21 of the 28 starts he made that season.
        This plan worked perfectly for Melvin in every way.  In Fielder’s final season, the Brewers made the playoffs for just the 2nd time in almost 30 years, and got to the NLCS before bowing out in game 6.  The following year, with the Brewers out of contention they were able to flip him again and recoup a portion of the prospect resources they expended to get him in the first place.
Verdict – Clear win for the Brewers

Date – 2011, January 8th
Player Traded – Matt Garza
Teams – TB to CHC
Traded With – Fernando Perez
Traded for – Chris Archer, Hak-Ju Lee, Sam Fuld, Brandon Guyer & Robinson Chirinos
Contract Assumed – Traded before his 2nd Arbitration Year.  3 Years of Control.
Result –
          At the time that Garza was acquired by the Cubs, it was a clear case of Moral Hazard.  GM Jim Hendry was coming off two very disappointing seasons, and it was fairly obvious that unless things turned around the following year Hendry would lose his job. 
         Even though none of the prospects have truly emerged yet, this trade has turned out quite poorly for both the Cubs, and Hendry himself.  The first year Garza had in Chicago, even despite him having a typically good year, the Cubs bottomed out and by the end of the year Hendry would be shown the door.
        So, despite the package that the Cubs gave up not being quite as impressive as the others listed here, because of the situation that the Cubs were in.
       This trade offers a clear lesson for teams, that timing is as important as the details of the trade being made. 
Verdict – Loss for the Cubs

Date – 2011, July 30th
Player Traded – Ubaldo Jimenez
Teams – Col to Cle
Traded for – Drew Pomeranz, Alex White, Joseph Gardner & Matt McBriar
Contract Assumed – 1 Year + // $4.2M (2nd & 3rd option years for $5.75M & $8M)
Result –
            This trade had a strange smell to it the minute it was made.  The circumstances were very suspicious right from the start.  The Rockies had the rare pitcher who had proven he could be effective at altitude in Coors Field, and not only that, had him signed to an astoundingly cheap contract with just 1 more year guaranteed, but with 3 well below market value options tacked on.  When the initial reports of them shopping him came out, GM Dan O’Dowd had promised that only a “Herschel Walker type offer” would pry Ubaldo loose from the Rockies grip. 
            So when it was unveiled that the package he was traded for included just 1 prime prospect, and he was a pitcher no less (Pomeranz), to go with a prospect who’s almost certainly a reliever (White), and two total non-prospects (Gardner & McBriar) the initial reaction was that the Indians had just robbed the Rockies blind. 
            At the time the Indians acquired him, they were just 1.5 games back of the Tigers in an unlikely run at the playoffs.  The design was that Ubaldo could provide a boost to their starting pitching that year, and hopefully catch the Tigers, and then ideally for years going forward. 
            Unfortunately, none of that happened however.  From the minute Ubaldo set foot off the plane in Ohio, he was a totally different pitcher.  His velocity dipped (Over 3 MPH since his glory season in Denver), his control regressed (including leading the league in wild pitches last year), and somehow, despite leaving Coors Field, his HR rate went through the roof.
            Even though the Indians gave up a rather modest package to acquire him, there’s no way I can call this one anything but…
Verdict – Loss for the Indians

Date – 2011, December 17th
Player Traded - Mat Latos
Teams – SD to Cin
Traded for – Yasmani Grandal, Yonder Alonso, Brad Boxberger, & Edinson Volquez
Contract Assumed – Traded before eligible for arbitration
Result –
          Coming into 2012, it was fairly obvious that the Reds were going to make a trade.  They had two surplus assets that had significant value, but were blocked on the roster.  The first was 1B Yonder Alonso, who was Major League ready, but blocked by 2010 MVP Joey Votto.  The other was one of their two elite catching prospects, Devin Mesoraco (ranked 24th by BP), or Yasmani Grandal (ranked 38).  They just needed to decide which.
           The player they decided to target was Mat Latos from the Padres, and he was a player who came with some red flags.  He'd dealt with some shoulder issues the past year, which always concerns you more than elbow problems, and he was also pitching in PETCO park, which can disguise an average pitcher as great. 
         In his first season Latos put a good deal of those fears to bed.  He made all 33 starts up and successfully transitioned to Great American Ballpark (posting a 3.85 FIP).  He slotted in nicely behind Johnny Cueto on a Reds rotation that led them to the playoffs.  Also as a cherry on top, Latos is both controlled long term (2 more years) and inexpensive (only first year arbitration eligible. 
           The one aspect you could criticise the Reds for, is choosing the wrong catcher to keep.  Mesoraco was the higher regarded coming up as a prospect, but struggled in his first exposure to major leaguie pitching, posting a sub .300 OBP.  Grandal on the other hand, exploded out of the gate in San Diego posting both an On Base %, and Slugging % more than 100 points higher than Mesoraco did. 
         Even with the players ths Reds traded away establishing themselves the acquisition of a young anchor in their rotation makes this a...
Verdict – Win for the Reds (at this point)

Date – 2011, December 23rd
Player Traded – Gio Gonzalez
Teams – Oak to Was
Traded For – Derek Norris, Tom Milone, AJ Griffin, & Brad Peacock
Traded With – Robert Gilliam
Contract Assumed – Traded final year before arbitration
Contract Signed – 5 Yrs // $42 M (Bought out all Arbitration years & 2 FA years)
Result –
          Before the Nationals made this trade, they were seen as fringe contenders behind the Phillies, and Braves.  Gonzalez immediately gave them a complement at the top of their rotation along side youngsters Jordan Zimmermann, and Steven Strasburg.  In his first year in the nations capital Gonzalez achieved everything Mike Rizzo and the rest of the Nationals front office could've hoped.  He led the National League in K/9, and finished 3rd in Cy Young voting. 
        However the real brilliance of this trade is that this is as much a play for the long run, than just a move for now.  The Nationals control Gio for four more years after this one (ostensibly his entire prime, ages 27-31) for less than 40 million.  After seeing the prices being paid for pitching this offseason, thats looking even more attractive than it did when it was signed.
       While the package the Nats paid included some very impressive pieces, none of them will really be missed.  Derek Norris has a chance to be an above average catcher, but the Nats seems set behind the plate foe years to come with Wilson Ramos, and the 3 pitchers vary in quality, but with Gio, Strasburg, and Zimmermann atop the rotation, they can probably afford to give away pitching.
Verdict – Clear win for the Nationals

Final Tally -
10 Wins – 71%
3 Losses – 21%

Final Thoughts -
        I came into this project without preconcieved notion of where it would lead me.  I assumed that since pitchers are such a unpredictable when it comes to both performance, and injuries, that trading for then would be about as risky as they come. 
       Coming out of it, I'm frankly stunned by the results.  Having a 70% success rate is impressive enough as it is, but I can make the case that all 3 of the losses was largely because the acquiring team wasn't in correct position to take advantage. 
       This clearly isn't the most scientific of studies, and it isnt the largest of sample size, but I know that going forward I'll certainly think longer and harder about criticising similar trades going forward.

Post script: This piece is a bit of a departure for me, and as you've just read, is considerably longer than most pieces both by me, and on this site.  I'd be very eager to read feedback, as to whether you like this approach, or any other thoughts you have on the piece.

As always you can follow me on Twitter @Mentoch, or reach me via Email - Ewandonaldross@Gmail.com
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