Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Why Kelly Jonso is gonzo

Ummm, does anybody else watch Pawn Stars?  Have you ever noticed how the main guy will always haggle over a tiny percentage of the cost of whatever the shit he's buying?  I've seen multiple times where he'll be trying to get a guy to come down on his final price from $5000 to $4800, just to make that little bit of extra profit. Well we're going to do that with Kelly Johnson today.

For anybody out there reading this who may have some kind of degree in economics or math or intelligence, you'll have to either excuse me, or just simply help me out with this one (I prefer the latter).  I'm going to focus here on the exact reason why the Jays aren't going to re-sign Kelly Johnson this offseason without having him accept arbitration.  It all comes down to the dollar value of having Johnson, versus the dollar value of having those two draft picks that Johnson would be worth in the event of him signing with another team.

**These numbers are not going to be exact, but conservative guesstimates will get the point across just fine.  I also realize that this is imperfect, since the value of picks 16-30 is much higher than the 31-60th picks, and that p[team without a protected first rounder signs Johnson] and p[team with a protected first rounder signs Johnson] are not equal, but without knowing the likelihood of where Johnson signs, it's too difficult to weight the percentages and values.**

With Aaron Hill signing in ARI for 2y/$11MM ($5.5MM average annual value (AAV)), I think we can safely put Johnson's contractual demands in the $6.5-$8MM/year range, and he'll probably get 2 years, if not 3.  Let's just say that, no matter where he signs, he does so for 2/$14MM, for simplicity's sake.  The only real snag is the fact that a few teams have already grabbed a 2B off the free agent market (Infante was locked up before the free agency period began; Hill, Carroll and Barmes have all signed), which obviously limits the market for Johnson a bit, though the Cubs, Rockies and Tigers are all still in.  If Johnson signs with any of those three teams, or any surprise team for that matter, the cost to that team is $14MM, whereas if he were to sign with the Jays, the cost would be the same $14MM, but they would technically be costing themselves 2 draft picks as well, which is worth an extra ~$5MM.

Now, I realize that the link above says that a Type-A FA is worth ~$3-5MM, but I moved the value up to the $5MM figure for a few reasons.  First, that link is from 2009, so the numbers can obviously be changed to reflect today's dollar values relative to the 2008 season/2008-09 offseason (i.e. inflation -- As a point of reference, 1 WAR in 2008 was worth ~$4MM, 2011's WAR value was just shy of 5MM).  We see $3-5MM as the value for a type-A free agent, whereas Johnson isn't technically the Type-A that Wang mentions, as another team isn't giving up a 1st round pick, but rather, are just moving their first rounder down by a single selection, a change that is typically pretty negligible when outside of the first 5 picks of the draft (the top 15 picks are protected).  This makes Johnson's signability much higher, as there is so little downside to a team signing him now, as opposed to when they had to give up a pick.  It doesn't hurt that this year is the final chance to really game the system the way they've done in the last few years with the Type-B relievers and sandwich picks.

Finally, and I think most importantly, the way AA values his draft picks is probably different than practically every other GM in baseball, save for Andrew Friedman, Billy Beane, and any other GM of small market, micro-budget, squeeze-every-penny team, who have to abide by such small margins of error in order to compete.  Teams like the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers seem to value the draft as if it were completely unnecessary, so they could probably use a number closer to that $3MM valuation on those two picks.  Alex Anthopoulos, however, has a massive scouting department, and is constantly focussing on building the farm system to be as deep as possible.  He is more likely than practically anybody to value these picks at a higher price, since he has so much trust in his scouts and minor league system.  I wouldn't be surprised if AA had a higher valuation in mind than the $5MM, especially this year, but for all intents and purposes, $5MM is a nice round number, and is probably close enough to get the job done.

The math isn't exactly easy; Johnson signing elsewhere is still going to cost the Jays something, since they need to find a replacement at 2B, assuming Luis Valbuena/Mike Mccoy isn't the plan as a starting 2B platoon.  We'll know a lot more once the decisions are made regarding where Johnson goes and who plays 2B, and then we'll be able to retroactively do some math.  AA obviously knows more than I do about the current plans for 2B and KJ, so I'm sure he's looking in to some system somewhat along the same vain as what I've got going on here.

I'm currently more interested at looking at this in a vacuum, however.  If the Jays are immediately paying $5MM more relative to all other competitors to sign Johnson (that is, signing Johnson forgoes $5MM of value in picks, plus whatever the contract actually costs), then simply, the Jays need to get a really good deal to make the signing worth their trouble.  If Johnson's market value is somewhere in the realm of 2y/$14MM, the Jays would need to get him for 2y/$9MM to simply break even (more succinctly, they need to get him for [market value minus AA's value of the 2 picks]).  Obviously, it is incredibly unlikely that Johnson signs for such a price.

I think it's too much to assume that only the three teams listed above (Cubs, Tigers, Rockies) are interested in Johnson's services, but at the same time, I think those are the three frontrunners.  The Cubs and Rockies have protected first rounders, which would turn the compensation in to a sandwich pick and a 2nd rounder, something that we would certainly need to consider when valuing the picks.  I'd feel comfortable valuing that at $3MM, based on Wang's numbers for his tier 2 and tier 3 values, plus the variables listed above.  As such, if the market became solely the Cubs and Rockies, the Jays could bump their breakeven point from 2/$9MM to 2/$12MM, and could squeeze extra value by including club options or performance incentives, but at the end of the day, I really believe that if Johnson doesn't see an offer of at least 2/$14MM, he'll just accept arbitration, and this will all be completely moot, and I'll have just wasted your time and mine.

Bob Elliott eats a bunch of mushrooms and hallucinates, calls it news.

I'll be completely honest, I had no idea what Bob Elliott looked like until I googled him 5 minutes ago, but I immediately thought of Carter Pewterschmidt, Lois Griffin's father from Family Guy when I saw him.  I'm pretty sure that Carter's character is based upon the likeness of Ted Turner, but even if he isn't it, doesn't really matter.  Carter's character on Family Guy is completely delusional, understanding approximately 1% of social norms within a society, since he's super rich and feels the need to just do anything he wants, regardless of the consequences, since he just uses his money to get out of any jam he may find himself in.

Bob Elliott not only looks like Carter, but also is a complete idiot who has his own little special way of viewing the world.  Case in point: this article.  The title of the piece is "Jays target closer Bell", which strongly, strongly implies that the Jays are actually looking in to acquiring him.  The second line of the piece is as follows:
“The Blue Jays have the money, their best option is Heath Bell,” said one evaluator familiar with the closing landscape.
So basically, he's saying that since it's someone's opinion that the Jays should go after Bell, despite the fact that AA is a smart guy and isn't going to pay a closer $10MM for 60 innings a season, this all translates to the Jays actively pursuing Bell.  I'm not saying this won't happen, but actively mongering rumors like that isn't really impressive journalism, at least in my books.  Neither is coming up with bullshit trade scenarios, such as:
The New York Yankees are interested in right-hander Kyle Drabek, who made 14 starts in the Jays rotation and the next 15 at triple-A Las Vegas
The Kansas City Royals will start with Lorenzo Cain in centre, but with concerns about whether the 25-year-old (42 career starts) will hit has the Royals looking at Colby Rasmus of the Jays.
First, with the Drabek thing.  Uhh, why??  The Yankees just wouldn't do this.  They have plenty of young starting that they could just plug in to their rotation now.  Drabek probably isn't available, but even if he were, the cost would be really high for such a risky player who is coming off a dogshit season last year, and couldn't find the strikezone to save his life.  Dellin Betances or Manny Banuelos would be equally solid options that wouldn't cost a bunch of good prospects.

As for the Rasmus thing, again, why?  Does anyone really think that the Jays are going to trade Rasmus, after slobbering all over themselves waiting for him to become available for the last 2 years?  I mean, I really think AA is ruthless and would certainly give up Rasmus if the right trade came along, but the right trade, when it comes to KC, includes a first baseman, which is Billy Butler or Eric Hosmer, neither or which will be available in a trade for several years, or Lorenzo Cain himself.  If KC doesn't think Cain will hit, why would AA trade Rasmus for him? There, rumor quashed.

Shut up Bob.


The Royals signed Jonathan Broxton this morning, so the Jays are out of the running on that one.

The Cubs are apparently listening to offers for Matt Garza, who they just gave up the farm to acquire last season from Tampa Bay.  Garza is still under team control until 2013, so the return would be pretty hefty, especially in this market.  Moving Garza would probably signify a rebuild, but apparently the Cubs are still plenty interested in Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols.  The Jays didn't get much of a look last year, since the Rays didn't want to move Garza within the division.  Garza is kind of a douche, but this could be the front-end starter that the Jays are looking for.

As for the closer situation, the White Sox are actively shopping Matt Thornton.  The Sox signed him to a 2 year, $12MM extension (option for 2014) before the 2011 season, but have been trying to shed some payroll pretty desperately for the last 6 months or so.  He throws really hard and strikes out a ton of guys, but is 35, so there could be a red flag attached.

Jon Heyman of SI.com tells us something that we already knew, when he says that the Jays could look in to moving David Cooper.  Neat.

Rotographs expects Luis Valbuena, acquired over the weekend, to get a shot at the starting job at 2B for Toronto this season.  I don't see it, mainly because I don't think AA is done yet, but I guess he pretty much defines "stop-gap", and who knows, he might turn in to something.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Jose Molina signs with TB, and other items barely of note

Well it looks like Jose Molina has finally signed with the Rays.  I say "finally" because it was reported about 10 days ago that they were close to a deal and just didn't do it until this morning.  Molina signed for 1 year and $1.8MM, plus a club option for 2013, giving the Blue Jays a compensation pick in the supplemental round, between rounds 1 and 2 of this season's upcoming draft.

The Rays also made a trade yesterday, sending John Jaso to Seattle for Josh Leuke and a PTBNL or cash.  This one is a headscratcher, as Jaso is under team control until 2015, and Josh Leuke is a guy who whacks off on vomiting females.  This deal doesn't make sense, though I suppose that there is a chance that the PTBNL could make this look a little better.  Players can only be traded 6 months after they are drafted, so I'm wondering if that's the case here, but usually the words "or cash" means that the list of players are nothing special.  Simply, Jaso is going to be pretty useful for the Mariners since, as far as being a catcher is concerned, he's good at everything Miguel Olivo sucks at.  Dave Cameron from Fangraphs/USS Mariner loves this deal for the M's, obviously.

The Blue Jays acquired infielder Luis Valbuena from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for cash over the weekend.  This should be a low-risk option for 2B until Alex Anthopoulos figures out what the hell he's going to do there, but Valbuena should serve as a not-terrible backup infielder now that John Mcdonald isn't coming back.  Cleveland DFA'ed Valbuena on the 18th of November.   Valbuena has had some success in the AAA (albeit, he's spent parts of the last 4 seasons in AAA so that should be a cakewalk to him by now), but hasn't turned it in to anything special in the majors.  He's got a .226/.286/.344 line in 806 major league plate appearances.  This is probably nothing.

It would appear that the Tigers are interested in Kelly Johnson, enough to make him their main target for this offseason.  That would net the Jays a first-round pick in compensation, whereas the other team that I've heard has interest, the Rockies, would have a protected first round choice, and would only net the Jays a 2nd rounder to go along with the sandwich pick.  That link is mostly about Mark Buerhle, who the Jays also appear to be in on.  I might turn this in to a whole post later.

Jays 2010 draft pick Daniel Norris is using his $2MM signing bonus well.  He also looks like the guy from Joy of Painting.

And finally, the Houston Astros have fired President Tal Smith, and GM Ed Wade.  I'm sure they are both absolutely thrilled.  The Astros have a pretty bad team, and a weak farm system, but only have 1 player signed on past this season, so it might not be so bad for whoever takes over.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Way over Yonder, there's rumors a'transpirin'

I couldn't find a photoshopped version of Yonder Alonso in a Jays uniform, especially the new ones, so I suppose I had to go with this.  Anyway, it appears that the Reds are shopping Alonso for a #2 pitcher or a closer.  We've heard, through MLBTR, that the Reds were offered Andrew Bailey in exchange for Alonso, and that it wasn't enough.

Jared from Jays Journal examined whether there is a fit or not for the Jays, if they decide that they want to pursue Alonso, and really, it doesn't look likely, but I'd still like to expand upon what he wrote.

First, you'll remember that I mentioned Alonso in my "Tradeables" series, but I think I may have underestimated, or at least misrepresented, what the Reds would be looking for in exchange for Alonso, when I said that it would cost something like Thames and one of the top pitching prospects.  This was assuming a few things that I am now finding out to be less accurate now that these rumors have come to the surface:

  • The Reds would want, among other things, an MLB-ready outfielder.
  • They would also want prospects (most likely starting pitchers), instead of MLB-ready arms.
In my NL Tradeables piece, my assumption was that between the 7 guys who started 13+ games for them last year, plus Aroldis Chapman, the Reds could find 5 guys to piece together a pretty good rotation, and considering the ages of all but Bronson Arroyo, who should be an expensive reliever from hereon in, it's a relatively controllable group.

As it turns out, they're looking for a #2 starter, which, on this team, is Brandon Morrow, or a closer, which, on this team, is ???????????  If Andrew Bailey wasn't enough, I think we're safe to assume that the Jays don't have a closer that they can offer.  But would the Jays move Morrow?  I have a hard time thinking that they'd do it, with all the potential Morrow has to be a top-tier pitcher.  His numbers are improving, despite his ERA, and his fip of 3.64 this past season is up there with guys like Gio Gonzalez and Jon Lester.  Seriously, if he could just induce the odd groundball...

If this were happening in next year's offseason, there's a much higher chance that the Jays could be players for Alonso's services.  Guys like Hutchinson, Molina, and Mcguire would be another year closer to the majors, and we'd have a much clearer perception of what to expect from guys like Edwin and Adam Lind, the guys who are kinda-sorta blocking a Yonder Alonso trade from happening.  I don't mean that as a way of saying that a trade won't happen exclusively because Lind/EE are there, because if AA thinks Alonso is an upgrade, he'd have no problem pulling the trigger, but if either gets moved, it will be during the season when their trade values become more well-known.

If the Jays can land a pitcher in free agency or via trade, I think the chances of an Alonso trade would certainly go up; right now, Morrow is a clear-cut #2 in a rotation that still has some question marks.  If a Buerhle, Jackson, Gio, etc. type is acquired, Morrow becomes a lot more expendable, assuming the Jays get someone like Travis Wood or Homer Bailey with Alonso.  Even if the acquisition of a pitcher does happen, however, I really feel like the way Jocketty and AA value Alonso and Morrow respectively just wouldn't really match up.

I think a pretty good precedent here would be the Shaun Marcum-Brett Lawrie trade from last offseason.  At the time, Lawrie was a 2B, which is a much more premium position than Alonso's 1B/LF, and I think there was a little more hype surrounding Lawrie.  As for Marcum, even with the past history of arm problems, his value was a bit higher than Morrow's is right now, after coming off an excellent 2010 season.  

Ultimately, I think Morrow and a non-top-10 prospect could get the job done, but what it really boils down to is the Jays having too much faith in Morrow, and not enough faith in the current MLB rotation to make this happen.  If Morrow were to go, I think AA would require another pitcher in return, whether or not it would be at the cost of another player.  I obviously don't know how CIN values their players, but I'm sure they'd want a 1b/2b just in case they happen to lose Votto or Phillips a year or two down the road, and an MLB-ready OF to replace Alonso in the field wouldn't hurt either. This could be a ways off, but something like Morrow, Thames and one of Mike Mcdade/Gustavo Pierre/David Cooper for Alonso and one of Bailey/Travis Wood is the only thing that makes much sense to me.

I don't think I'd do it, mind you, but I think that's a pretty decent beginning to any discussions we might see if the Jays happen to be players in the Alonso sweeps.


MLBTR examines the market for Kelly Johnson, now that the price of signing him is significantly lower than it once was.  They name the Jays, Tigers, Cubs, and Rockies as potential suitors, but since he's the best 2B on the market, I can see another surprise team or two getting in there and having a look.  If Johnson signs somewhere that isn't Toronto, the Jays will get 2 draft picks.

Scott Boras doesn't like the new CBA, but is probably overreacting a bit.

Alex Anthopoulos got fed up with Boston asking to talk with John Farrell about their managerial opening, so he apparently asked for Clay Buchholz in return, which shut those discussions down pretty quickly.  Maybe this is a little convenient, seeing as the Red Sox and Cubs are probably going to need a third party to step in and finish the Theo Epstein-compensation talks soon.  Looks like Garza is headed to the Red Sox! [note: not really]

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Arbitration Notes

I was going to write this a few hours ago, but all of the arbitration decisions just took for-fucking-ever to come to light, and there wasn't really anything else worthy of its' own to put up, so meh.  Anyway, the Jays have offered arbitration to all of their free agents, except for Shawn Camp.

Kelly Johnson, a total lock for an arbitration offer, is almost certain to be gone, based on the market development for second basemen around the league.  He made $5.85MM last season, and would more than likely get a raise in arbitration, but he's almost certain to get a multi-year contract on the free agent market.  Considering Aaron Hill got 2/11, Johnson is sure to find something better than that on the market.  Depending on who signs Johnson, the Jays can get a pick as early as 17th overall in this year's draft, especially now that a team won't have to give up their own first rounder.  Now does anyone think that the D'Backs won the Hill-Johnson trade?

Jose Molina has practically already signed with the Tampa Bay Rays, and was therefore a pretty safe decision.

Frank Francisco had an incredible second half of the season, and could certainly be brought back to the bullpen depending on the way things shake down.  If Frank chooses to accept arbitration, he'll get a raise on his $4MM salary from last year, so it really depends on whether someone will give him a multi-year contract, or a guaranteed contract for more than $4MM a season (though he might just find some guarantee of a closer role and go crazy with that at a discount).  I think this one really depends on how the market shakes down over the next week or so, but if Frank accepts, I can see the Jays being glad to have him back and sticking him in the closer role.

The most interesting case here is Jon Rauch.  I'm fairly surprised Rauch got an offer if Camp didn't.  Camp was a mile better than Rauch, despite not being fantastic last year.  Rauch quickly took the place of Jesse Carlson as the least watchable reliever on the team last year almost immediately.  His career numbers aren't nearly as bad as his 2011 numbers (despite spending most of his career away from the AL East), so maybe there's at least a hope that Rauch can turn things around.  There's always a chance that there was an agreement in place before the contract was signed last offseason that Rauch would decline arbitration, which would definitely be an explanation to why Rauch got an offer, and Camp didn't.

Anyone who accepts arbitration can still negotiate a deal with the team until mid-February, and only 1/6th of the arbitration total is guaranteed money.  Teams can trade or release these players at any time, so a player accepting arbitration is far from the end of the world.

Overall, this means that the Jays can have up to 8 picks in the first 2 rounds of the draft this year: their own 1st and 2nd rounders, plus the 21st overall pick for not signing Tyler Beede, as well potential picks for Kelly Johnson (another 1st rounder if he is signed by a team without a protected pick, and a sandwich selection), and 1 each for Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, and Jose Molina.  This is probably going to be the last season for the Jays to really game the system in terms of scamming draft picks, so I fully expect the Jays to do everything they can to ensure that all those guys reject arbitration and find deals on the free agent market.

Roy Oswalt didn't get an arbitration offer from the Phillies, nor did Brad Lidge.  Rafael Furcal was not offered arbitration by the Cardinals.  David Ortiz, and Mark Buerhle, recieved offers from their teams unsurprisingly, but Juan Pierre got one from the White Sox.

Brian Jeroloman was waived by the Pirates the other day, and has been claimed by the Blue Jays.  I'm pretty sure this means that he's back on the 40-man, and should be exempt from the Rule-5 draft, but I'm not certain about that.  I honestly doubt he lasts long before getting DFA'ed again, so this probably doesn't really matter a whole lot.  For what it's worth, he was a .240/.335/.295 hitter in AAA Las Vegas, and he apparently wasn't worth getting a single AB during his month long vacation in Toronto, sooooooo...

A few signings today: Bruce Chen got 2 years and $10MM guaranteed, which uhhh... yeah.  I'm sure he can put up 2 wins, but this is just kind of like the Aaron Hill deal, though I don't hate it nearly as much.  Chen's never really had front-of-the-rotation inning totals, and he just came off of his best season at age 34, where his fip was 4.39, and he got pretty fortunate with regards to babip and HR/FB ratios.  I'm not fussy.

The Yankees signed former Blue Jayson Nix to a minor league deal as well.  Good luck with that one.

Tom Tango is smarter than MLB, and proves it by showing tiny little flaws in the draft spending budget before it is even released.  Within that Tango post is an article by Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, in which he tells us the budgets for the first 10 rounds and their signing bonuses for this year's draft, which can also be found right here.  Passan was the first to break the top-4 recommended draft slots (7.2, 6.2, 5.2, and 4.2 million).  I know that I saw somewhere that the slots for picks 1-30 would be released... Jon Heyman tells us that pick 30 will be slotted at $1.6MM.

Parkes predicts the new market inefficiencies, now that the new CBA has suppressed the ones Andrew Friedman came up with.

And finally, some guy went and hung out at Kenny Williams' house.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

CBA Outrage, plus some AL MVP Backlash

The details of the new CBA are entirely released, and I, for one, am shocked that the players union agreed to this.  It just goes to show that the players' union doesn't really give a shit about anybody who isn't in the union yet.

Basically, I pointed out most of the changes yesterday, but something that wasn't released until today was the specifics on the caps placed on the draft and international signing bonuses.  From MLBTR:
Teams that spend more than 5% over-slot on the draft will face a 75% tax, according to [Yahoo Sports' Jeff] Passan. Teams that go over slot by 5-10% face a 75% tax and the loss of a first rounder. Teams that go over slot by 10-15% face a 100% tax and the loss of a first and second rounder. Teams that exceed slot by 15% or more face a 100% tax and the loss of two first rounders. MLB wanted the top players to be selected in order of talent, according to Passan. This set of rules will also reduce draft spending significantly, a bonus for owners.
Now, don't get me wrong, there was a pretty silly system of college students demanding $15MM before ever playing a game in the MLB, but these owners are all fucking insanely rich already; they own a fucking baseball team, they don't need to save another million or two on draft signings.

Furthermore, the entire point of going "over slot" is to ensure that a player signs, rather than heads back to college and play football or basketball instead of becoming a professional baseball player.  Now, without being able to go over slot by their own choice, teams are losing the option to ensure that one more athlete comes to professional baseball.

Teams will now have a certain budget that can go towards drafting, and a separate budget that can go towards international signings, which Jeff Passan has heard can actually be used in trades, which is about as close as we're going to come to trading draft picks any time soon.  Still, teams who don't have MLB salaries in the $100+MM range were focusing elsewhere to find talent, whether that be spending more on the draft, or international scouting.

Dave Cameron at Fangraphs pretty much hits it on the head:
With a flat cap for the upcoming year, any advantage [lower payroll teams who can't spend $100+MM on their MLB roster] have has been completely removed, and teams will now all be submitting remarkably similar offers to the best international talents, causing these players to choose which organization to join based on factors beyond signing bonus. No longer will teams be able to create systematic advantages in international scouting, as they simply won’t have the resources available to bring in more than one or two additional significant talents per year.
Basically, to Dave (and I agree wholeheartedly), these changes are going to make spending at the major league level the best way to build a winner, which should basically limit small-market teams heavily.
Congratulations, Major League Baseball, you just screwed every team that doesn’t have the capability of running out a $100+ million payroll, and you just made winning a lot more about Major League payroll size than anything else.
At least one positive from this new CBA: it seems as though instant replay will be expanded to fair/foul balls, as well as catch/trap situations, which is obviously a step in the right direction.  Now all we need are the robot umps behind homeplate.

Something that still doesn't really make any sense to me, mostly because nobody has gotten someone who both knows the answer, and has a twitter account to answer it, is the question about all just who will be worth free agent compensation this year in the free agent market/draft.  Since some of the Type-A relievers have lost their compensation status, combined with all the rumors about Type-B compensation being eliminated, I seriously don't know if the Jays are going to get picks for Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, Shawn Camp, Jose Molina, or Kelly Johnson.  It would seem unfair for Type-A relievers to lose their compensation, but for Type-B's to maintain it.

[Funny I should say that:  Looky here for Type-A changes]


Well everybody who knows how to spell has written at least a little sumpin' sumpin' about the non-votes for Jose Bautista as MVP.  As result, there is absolutely no chance that I'm writing anything more about how wrong everyone is about Justin Verlander winning, though I did really enjoy a few pieces about the subject, even after getting tired of the subject.

Drew at Getting Blanked compares the 2011 seasons of Cliff Lee and Justin Verlander, exclaiming the power of the narrative.  Really well-written.

Mike Cormack of Sportsnet.ca has an interview with Jose Bautista with his opinions about the MVP loss.

Elsewhere, Kevin Gray, prospect guy extraordinaire and writer for the New Hampshire Fishercats (The Jays AA team) reviews the Jays top-10 prospects, being literally the only person in the entire world who has Nestor Molina as the Jays top up-and-comer.  Keith Law, for example, thinks Molina will peak as a #3/4 starter.

Ryan Braun somehow beat out Matt Kemp to win the NL MVP, despite not winning a triple crown or being a pitcher or something.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Jose Bautista: AL 3MVP

That's right folks; the best player in baseball this season was apparently only the third most valuable, as Jose Bautista lost the MVP race today to both winner, Justin Verlander, and runner-up, Jacoby Ellsbury.  I'd have been fine with an Ellsbury win, but this Verlander nonsense is just another reason for me to not give a shit about these awards.  Someone recently accused me of being butthurt at the Aaron Hill trade in the comment section of the post I made when Hill resigned with the D'Backs, and I definitely wasn't at all butthurt at that, but yeah, this MVP thing just kind of gives me the willies.  Fangraphs builds a case for Bautista as the MVP here, and they also have a similar piece for both Ellsbury and Verlander on their front page.

Anyway, apparently Michael Young got a first place vote in the MVP balloting, presumably from TR Sullivan (or whoever gets the Texas vote) [edit: Evan Grant, Dallas Morning News], which officially makes a mockery of this whole thing.  Some people will release their ballot information over the next few days, so hopefully we'll figure out who gave Young a 1st, Bautista a 9th, and Ellsbury a fucking 10th place vote so we can smash him in the head with an iron.  I say "him" since I assume that only one person within a small community of PROFESSIONAL FUCKING BASEBALL WRITERS CAN BE THAT GODDAMN OUT TO LUNCH, but maybe I'm giving the human race too much credit.  Afterall, these are the same people who saw that Justin Verlander threw a no-hitter against a shitty lineup and had 22 WINS OMG!, so they pretty much give him an MVP without paying attention to Jered Weaver or CC Sabathia, both of whom put up similar numbers while facing tougher schedules (Sabathia got two 6th place votes, Weaver got 0 votes, despite allowing 8 fewer runs in 15 fewer innings).


First, I'd like to throw condolences along to the family of Mariners' outfielder, Greg Halman, who was stabbed to death this morning in the Netherlands.  He was 24, and was reportedly murdered by his 22 year old brother.

As for Stuff, I've got this:

Former Jay Brian Jeroloman was DFA'ed again, this time by Pittsburgh, just a few days after being claimed, to make room for Clint Barmes.

The Jays are still rumored to be in on Huston Street, Andrew Bailey and Francisco Cordero.  And now that remaining free agent relievers won't cost a draft pick in compensation (more on that in a sec), you can expect them to look in to Heath Bell, Ryan Madson, Matt Capps, and so on.  Let the rumors fly!

The MLBPA and the owners have hammered out the new CBA, and should be ready to announce it tomorrow afternoon, according to MLBTR.  Among the changes, free agent Type-A relievers will no longer be worth compensation in the form of draft picks, which should allow the Jays to go ahead and still not sign expensive free agent closers.  Instead of random Elias rankings and arbitration, teams will be required to offer 1-year qualifying offers of at least $12.4MM to their potential free agents, based on some formula that they don't give us.  The $12.4MM will be a dynamic number, meaning that it will more than likely change each offseason.  I'm not sure if this is the same with Type-B compensation (if that still exists), but it seems really unlikely that teams like the Jays and Rays will still be able to game the system out of draft picks.

It appears the Colorado Rockies are trying to cut some costs, as they have traded Utility man Ty Wigginton to the Phillies for Cash or a player whose parents haven't named him yet.  This trade will allow the Rockies to save a couple million this year, and will allow at least one prospect to get some more time, while the Phillies get a replacement for Ryan Howard until he returns from his Achilles injury.  After that, I'm sure a platoon/backup/pinch hitter role will get Wiggy plenty of AB's.  This pretty much removes Philadelphia from the Michael Cuddyer sweepstakes.

Sean at Nowhere Plans likens Pujols to Lebron, sort of, and wonders what the outcome will be in STL if Albert leaves.

Friday, 18 November 2011

I liked the Black Uniforms

There, I said it.

The New Jersey'ed Devils


Here is the SBNation writeup as well.  Relax Rob.

Elsewhere, the Jays lost Cole Kimball to the Nationals via waivers, just a day or two after obtaining him from the Nationals through waivers.  Weird, I know...  not exactly sure how this happened, or if it has anything to do with the Jays claiming Andrew Carpenter, also off waivers, from the San Diego Padres.  They have also added Travis d'Arnaud, Nestor Molina, Mike Mcdade, and Evan Crawford to the 40-man roster, protecting them from rule 5 draft eligibility (which is the same reason Carpenter and Kimball were placed on waivers in the first place).

Speaking of waivers, Brian Jeroloman has been claimed off waivers by the Pittsburgh Pirates.  I suppose this means that the Jays outrighted him off the 40-man roster without me noticing.  I honestly thought he'd be a backup for JP Arencibia, but apparently not.  If anything happens to JP this season, Travis d'Arnaud will probably be the callup now, so he must be closer to being ready than I had first thought.

Not that I really thought the Jays were incredibly interested anyway, but it looks like Yoenis Cespedes asking price is going to be higher than we were initially told, which should close the market for us.  I think the outfield is pretty well set at the moment, and signing a longterm deal with an unknown 26-year old doesn't seem like something AA is really all about anyway when there's not a huge hole.  Thames and Snider should get everyday playing time in LF, and Rasmus and Bautista are all but guaranteed everyday time in CF and RF respectively, so this probably isn't much.

Finally, the fine folks at MLBTR linked to a piece that I wrote about Aaron Hill last weekend.  Thanks!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Busy day of stuff

Great big box full of Jays stuff today, so let's hop right in.  Most of this is coming straight from MLBTR  (Scroll down, click "Blue Jays Rumors" on the right hand side).

First off, the GM Meetings were delayed so that the players' union and the owners could try and finish hammering out the collective bargaining agreement, which is apparently pretty close to being done.  Part of the new arrangement is the removal of type-B status from free agent compensation, or at least the current crop of type-B's would no longer give teams compensation, and some of the worse type-A's would become type-B's or something like that.  We can also expect some sort of cap on draft bonuses -- one that wouldn't necessarily prevent a 1st round pick from getting eleventy billion dollars, but taxing a team on total dollars spent over the recommended slot provided by the MLB.  I'd expect those slot numbers to be risen, but for a team like the Jays who like to stockpile draft picks, these changes might hurt a bit.

Having said that, I don't think any of these changes will be made effective immediately, mostly because it wouldn't really be fair to anybody who has been involved in the Kelly Johnson free agency, which includes all teams who have already signed a 2B, as well as the Jays and Kelly Johnson himself.  The same goes for any other similarly ranked free agents.  This should all be settled within a few days though.

Sportsnet's Shi Davidi spoke with AA about offseason stuff, I guess.  Among other things, he explains his lack of action, paired with other clubs action, around the 2B market to mean that there is nobody presenting a head and shoulders best selection.  If there was a clear-cut number 1, things would be different, but he would rather look at all of his options before rejecting anything.  If Kelly Johnson happens to leave the organization, there are other alternatives, and missing the free agents who have signed already isn't the end of the world.

The Blue Jays have been linked to both Mark Buerhle and CJ Wilson so far this offseason, and for good reason... since they check in on everybody and are looking for a front-end rotation arm.  I doubt there's much to see here, since there are apparently upwards of 13 teams interested in Buerhle and probably just as many looking in to Wilson.

The Jays are still looking at closers, and some names I've heard circulating around the Jays more than any others have been Francisco Cordero, Matt Capps and Huston Street.  Capps and Cordero are free agents, but Street is under contract with the Rockies for $7.5MM for 2012 (with a weird mutual option attached for 2013).  Given the pricetag, I can see AA getting Street for next to nothing, or having the Rockies throw in a wad of cash as well.  Conversely, the Jays could give a prospect and Mark Teahen instead of taking cash.  I suppose I could get on board with this one.

Another name swirling around the Jays rumor mill is *cough* proven winner Rafael Furcal, who the Jays and as many as three other teams are looking at to fill the second base void.  This all assumes Kelly Johnson can find a multi-year deal at market value and rejects arbitration, signing elsewhere.  I still think the most likely scenario is that Johnson accepts arbitration and is back in Toronto on a 1-year deal.  The Padres are looking to trade either Orlando Hudson or Jason Bartlett, so if all else fails, there are two other (depressing) options.

The Jays have claimed reliever Cole Kimball off waivers from the Washington Nationals.  Kimball only put up 12 innings this past season, missing a bunch of time due to injury.

Looking at the White Sox, it appears Chris Sale is going to be a starter next season, filling out the rotation with Jake Peavy, Zach Stewart, and Phillip Humber, making it pretty likely the two of John Danks, Gavin Floyd, and Mark Buerhle won't be back.  Look for the Jays to be interested.

Ken Davidoff makes a top-ten list of his favorite GM's in the league, based on possibly nothing.  Obviously I'm biased, because I think Alex Anthopoulos is a genius among men, but all AA gets here is honorable mention, while Theo Epstein makes the list, despite not being a GM anymore.  Also finding spots are Dave Dombrowski of Detroit, for some reason, Terry Ryan, despite 4 years off the job, and Ruben Amaro Jr., despite signing his fat 1B to a 5 year, $125MM extension 3 years before free agency, beginning in his age-32 season, a deal that might go down in history as being worse than the Vernon Wells contract.  Larry Beinfest of the Marlins also makes the list, sliding down from his #4 spot a year ago, and his #2 slot 2 years ago [sidenote: What the fuck?!?!], because it's not his fault the owners of the Marlins are cheap [sider note: WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?]

Finally, from Fangraphs, a piece about players who decline at an earlier age than average.  They use Carl Crawford and Adam Dunn as examples, but I'm sure Aaron Hill could be pegged in here as well.  I'm not sure we can convincingly say that Crawford or Dunn are on the decline after using 1 poor season as a sample, but who knows?

Monday, 14 November 2011

Things I forgot to write earlier, and stuff.

I neglected to mention how the aforementioned Aaron Hill contract affects the Blue Jays, and their plans at second base for the upcoming year.  The Aaron Hill signing, paired with the Omar Infante extension, Jamey Carroll signing in Minnesota, and now today's news of Mark Ellis signing with the Dodgers, the already weak market at the 2B has just become weaker.

At the beginning of the offseason, I was fairly confident that the Jays would bring back Kelly Johnson, either by extending him, or by offering him arbitration and having him accept.  Not only did I think that Johnson would believe that a 1-year deal would be better for him to re-establish value, but I also felt like nobody would give him a raise from the $6MM he made this past season, and would therefore accept arbitration, since he would pretty much be guaranteed a raise.

Now, I'm not so sure.  If Aaron Hill can get 2/$11MM, maybe Johnson will be able to find a raise, even on a 1-year deal.  Johnson is surely a better player than Hill, and is (barely) younger.  The only real problem now is that so many teams have figured out their 2B need already in the last couple of weeks, that only the Rockies and Tigers should be in competition with the Jays if Johnson makes it to the market.  The recent activity on the free agent market could very well force another team's hand if they really feel like upgrading at 2B, and we might see a multi-year offer to Johnson after all.

Apparently, the Jays think paying $50MM for a closer is absurd!  This is good news!  That link also provide some brief info on JP Arencibia, Colby Rasmus, Adeiny Hechavarria, and 2B options.

Related: The Pirates will listen on trade offers for Joel Hanrahan.

The Dodgers have signed Matt Kemp to a great big extension worth $160MM over 8 years.  That actually sounds like a bargain. Joel Sherman tweets a little tidbit about that one.  I'm not sure this will have any bearing on the Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols contract talks.

Jeremy Hellickson and Craig Kimbrel won the Rookie of the Year awards for the AL and NL respectively.  Big whoop.

An awesome read with Michael Lewis, writer of Moneyball, and Billy Beane, Billy Beane of Moneyball.

D-Back's Re-sign Aaron Hill's Warm Corpse

The Arizona Diamondbacks have signed former Jay Aaron Hill to a 2 year, $11MM contract for some reason.  Hill provided a month long offensive boost for the snakes down the stretch, despite being below league average offensively for the last two seasons. I am left shaking my head.  If this was something like 1 year $4MM guaranteed with an option for a 2nd year, I'd be totally fine with it, because that's all Hill deserves.  Instead, despite putting up 5 solid weeks of baseball in the last 24 months, Hill gets 2 guaranteed years, at slightly above market value.

Thanks to Hill's fangraphs profile, we can see that he's been below average offensively, more or less, for his entire career, save for 2007 and 2009, and those two seasons are performances that he has been miles away from in the last two seasons.  Hill will be 30 years old at the beginning of this coming season, which is right around the point in time that the prime years of a typical player's career end, and the decline begins.  It's tough to imagine Hill's best days are in front of him.

Hill was once thought to be an elite defender, and is certainly still good defensively, but I'm beginning to wonder if his offensive struggles and defensive decline are related in some way.  Hill's UZR's since the 2008 season: 1.1 (55 games), -4.9, 3.7, 0.7 (-3.4 and 4.1 pre and post-trade, respectively).  Certainly not the elite defense we saw out of him in his first two full seasons in the league, and really, a combined 1 run above average over 4 seasons isn't exactly anything to run up and down the streets about.  I will give him a pass for his defense this season, since he needed to cover more ground with Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion playing 1B and having little range.

Jack Moore of Fangraphs looks in to this Hill signing, and says that he likes it from both perspectives, and certainly, Hill doesn't really need to be all that good for the D'backs to get their moneys worth.  With the price of a win on the free agent market being in the neighbourhood of $5MM, Hill can go ahead and perform the way he has for the last two years and be pretty close to breakeven for the D'backs with a bit of luck (say, in the HR/FB ratio or babip departments).  Hell, he was worth 1.7 WAR in the 33 games he played in Phoenix after the trade.  Forgive me if I don't entirely believe that a trade to an extremely hitter friendly environment with inferior pitching isn't enough to convince me that he can replicate his career years moving forward.  He needed that 33 game stretch of magic just to get back to a positive WAR total, not to mention an OBP of just .299.

Basically, the point I'm trying to get across here is the amount of risk the Diamondbacks are taking on with this contract.  Hill was good for a 33 game stretch last season, with the odd flash of decency in Toronto as well.  He's never put together a season in which both his power numbers and on-base numbers were good; he's either raising his OBP and sacrificing power, or hitting for more power and getting on base at a well-below league average rate.  This past season, save for his stint in the desert, both of those categories suffered, and he was in the middle of his worst fielding season yet.

Even in a weak market for second basemen, Hill is the exact kind of person that shouldn't get a multi-year contract.  The argument going around is that it's not very hard to produce the 2 WAR and change needed to break even, but I really think that there is some flawed thinking with that argument.  I'm not saying that he's guaranteed to flop, but there's a little too much certainty that he's going to return to his former self, or even a league average producer.  Jamey Carroll has put up more WAR in each of the last two years, gets on base more often, and has recently signed for much less money.  It's pretty easy to find a 1WAR player, especially one who won't cost $5.5MM a season.

Teams with a whole bunch of money can go out and overpay for players and if it doesn't work out, who gives a shit?  Arizona isn't one of those teams though; they were one of the lowest payrolled teams in the league last year, and don't have a whole bunch of extra money kicking around to sign highly volatile players to multi-year contracts (though the John McDonald and Willie Bloomquist signings would lead you to believe otherwise).  Having that extra payroll room essentially allows you to make mistakes and remain successful.

By assuming that Hill can be worth a WAR per season, which is a fair assessment, people are saying that the value Hill provides will be enough to validate the contract given.  But what if he doesn't provide that 2WAR over the contract?  He's certainly shown that he can be below replacement level.  Hill has been worth exactly 2 fWAR (1.3 rWAR) over the last two seasons, his age 28 and 29 seasons, the years that he's supposed to be peaking as a player, and it took a 33 game hot streak to get there.  We were all so certain that he was going to bounce back after his disastrous 2010 campaign, but his '11 offensive numbers for the first 104 games of the season were considerably worse than his '10, and he was below replacement almost immediately, and for the first 3/4 of the season.

If some people are allowed to assume that his production will be at least 1WAR per season, then I think I'm allowed to at least speculate that Hill could possibly be less productive than that, especially given his last two seasons.  Arizona doesn't appear to have the flexibility to withstand Hill being below replacement -- they're not going to just straight up release him, and he'll have no trade value with another $5MM season left on his contract.  This won't be franchise crippling, but that's not the point.  As a GM, especially one with a tight budget, your job isn't to seek out players and pay them what they're worth; the job is to buy wins on the cheap, and try to get a surplus in value from your players.  Arizona did such a fantastic job of that last season, getting more for less than any team not run by Andrew Friedman. Now they're taking 3 guys and tying up $9MM a season to get right around 1WAR, while locking up 3 roster spots.  The Hill signing is probably the best of the three recent D'back contracts of the offseason in a vacuum, but combined, there's something really ugly going on here.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Not so Fast, but Also, Faster

Well, it turns out the Phillies 4year, $44MM extension with Ryan Madson was either fake, or fell through, or something else, and that the Phillies actually went ahead and agreed to terms with Jonathan Papelbon on a 4 year, $50MM deal with a vesting option for a 5th year, at $10MM.  Here's the fangraphs take on it.  Naturally, I'm glad to see Papelbon leave the AL East, since he's pretty good, but also because he takes like 70 years to throw the ball, and has an ugly pig face that I could literally go my entire life without seeing again.

The Phillies, as the Yankees of the NL, continue to just go ahead and throw money at all of their problems... except their problems lie in their almost average offense, not their pitching staff.  I think we've all waxed poetic about how inefficient multi-year contracts when we're dealing with relievers, so I won't do that.  I can't help but think of the Phillies fuckup with Brad Lidge and the 3/36 they gave him a few years back.  So now, they go one more year and more money...

What I will say is that Papelbon, being pretty good, only has to provide about 8WAR over the course of the contract for the Phillies to break even, even less if those 8 WAR will put the Phillies over the top in providing a playoff berth/championship.  Paps has never been on the DL, and has been an elite pitcher in the toughest division in baseball.  He's now moving to an easier division, in an easier league, and will be pitching against easier competition (naturally).  If there is a reliever out there that you can guarantee 4 years to, it's probably Papelbon.  But 8 WAR from a reliever isn't exactly easy to get unless you're Mariano Rivera, and you can look at any number of teams who have found 8 WAR in 5 years from a reliever at a fraction of the cost.

He's also 31 years old, which probably means that he's peaked, and is set to decline.  He's also a max effort, 100-MPH throwing douche, which means that even though he's never been on the DL, he's a prime candidate for the attrition that factors in to most relief pitchers.

This will drive the market up for guys like Heath Bell and Ryan Madson, which doesn't sound great for the Blue Jays (if they actually are interested), or anybody else really, and between the three of those guys, I'm sure at least one of them is going to be an albatross contract a few years from now.

The GM meetings are starting tomorrow, so I'd expect a trade or two this week, but probably not from Alex Anthopoulos, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.  That doesn't mean trades won't happen, it just means that they probably won't happen yet.  He prefers being in his office with all of the player information in front of him.

Yu Darvish might not be posted this winter after all, according to Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated.

Flipflopfly has an opinion about the new Marlins' uniforms.

Apply to work with the Pittsburgh Pirates!

MLBTR tells us that the Phils weren't willing to give a 4th year to Madson, and that the Red Sox weren't willing to give a 4th year to Jonathan Papelbon, but the Phillies were willing to give a 4th year to Papelbon and now I'm guessing the Red Sox will probably sign Madson for 4 years.

On Rookie Managers

Ken Rosenthal has gone ahead and written something stupid again, so now, as someone who has never met him, I will (semi-) anonymously blast him for it on the internet.  First, scan through this article quickly, and try not to absorb much of it.  I'll wait here.  First, I'd like to point out that I know it's Parkes and Stoeten's thing to make fun of Ken Rosenthal, and I planned on just going ahead and letting them do it, but I see that Parkes only wrote a quick blurb about it yesterday on Getting Blanked, and I don't think Stoeten really updates DJF on the weekend, so I really have little choice.

Now, Rosenthal's main thesis is that he doesn't like the idea of teams hiring managers without any prior experience.  It's an opinion, and he's certainly entitled to it.  I'm not claiming that I can just hop in to blogging and start shitting on people who have been involved in baseball since before I was born, but just because he's been doing this for a long time doesn't mean that he should have free reign to write this kind of drivel and still be known as a respected sports journalist.

This article is essentially the exact thing that we need to get away from when it comes to thinking about baseball. I think the Moneyball movie did a really great job of making fun of old people who just spout out random one-liners without actually using their brains and thinking about what might actually matter when it comes to analyzing baseball.  Basically, anytime someone associates RBI's with a player's value, this is what I'm talking about.

This whole manager dilemma that Rosenthal raises just kind of sticks in my craw, I suppose.
The job is too difficult. The game is full of more qualified candidates. The risk involved with hiring a newbie is simply too great.
Is it, though?  What's so tough about it?  If it's so tough, why have writers and analysts essentially proven that bunting is almost never good, that trying to steal bases simply isn't worth the reward that the risk demonstrates, or that it doesn't matter whether a matchup is LHP vs. LHB if the pitcher has reverse platoon splits?  Why do so many managers mess these things up?  Is it because they're so busy doing other stuff that they just miss it?  Probably not, since most every time you see a manager during a telecast, he's sitting on his ass with his arms crossed.

I don't think managing a baseball team would be very hard at all-- the formulae are all out there somewhere, written on the internet for free.  Simply follow everything written down with regards to batting order, lefty/righty splits, and so on.  There's obviously a human element to the game, so you've got to keep your players gruntled (autocorrect is telling me that 'grunted' isn't a word, but it has to be... like, not disgruntled?), but baseball, like no other sport out there, is pretty much mathematically solved.  Basically, don't bunt practically ever, don't steal practically ever, don't bat your third worst hitter in the 4-hole just because he's a lefty with 20+ homeruns when 3 other options would do better.  Really, don't do fucking anything and you'll probably be alright in the longterm.

The difference between posting your optimal lineup everyday and posting your least optimal lineup everyday is worth about 1 win per season, and most managers are a hell of a lot closer to their most optimal than their least optimal.  It doesn't take managerial experience to put up anything resembling an optimal batting lineup though.

We can see from this chart that stealing 2nd base helps a whole lot less than getting caught stealing 2nd hurts us.  We'd like you to stop relying on such small sample sizes (I'm looking at you Joe Girardi).  I'd be shocked if the difference between the best manager ever, and the worst manager in baseball was any more than 2 wins a season, especially if the lineup thing is only worth 1.  Anyway, moving on.

A.J. Hinch, who was hired by the Diamondbacks in May 2009 without any previous coaching or managing experience, lasted just 1 1/3 seasons.
Well maybe if they won some fucking games and had a fucking pitching staff instead of rebuilding the fucking team.  The reason Hinch got the job in the first place?  He was the director of player development before being manager of a team who had 7 of their 8 starters in their farm system as recently as 4 years prior to his hiring.  Hinch wasn't looked at as a manager of the next 20 years, he was there to ensure the development of the young core of the team, who happened to go ahead and win the division this year.  I hate myself for using Bleacher Report as a source, but look at the comparisons this guy makes.  We see marked improvement in Justin Upton, Mark Reynolds (who has since been traded), Gerardo Parra and Miguel Montero.  This year, each of Upton, Montero and Parra were even better, plus the emergence of guys like Ryan Roberts, Paul Goldschmidt and Colin Cowgill (all were in the minors last year) were clearly a boost in the right direction.  Beyond that, there's a lot of volatility in both a team with a bunch of 20-something, and a division with 0 truly good teams.
Matheny and Ventura were more accomplished players than Hinch. They’re both considered great guys. But who the heck knows if they can handle a job that entails so much more than writing a lineup and running a game?
There you go again with that.  Why do you keep saying that it's so hard, or that there's so much work, but not say what it entails of?  Do you have to be a people person?  A stern voice?  A proven leader?  A winner?  I really feel like the only conclusion we can draw from the above D'Backs example is that Hinch must have been a bad manager, and Kirk Gibson must be a really good one, presumably because Gibson is so good at all of those little secret things that Rosey won't tell us about that a manager does, and why it's such a hard job.

Frankly, I find such choices disrespectful to all those managerial candidates who have paid their dues, people like Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin, who is 60 and still waiting for his first full-time opportunity.
Maybe if he wasn't 60 fucking years old he'd get a chance.  There's a reason that a lot of organizations are moving towards a younger generation of management.  It's what Oakland did, and they made a movie out of it.  It's what Boston did, and they broke some stupid made-up curse.  It's what Tampa did, and they've made the playoffs thrice in the last 4 years in the hardest division in baseball, and they did it with a payroll lower now than what the Yankees' payroll was when George Costanza still worked there.  Hopefully it's what the Blue Jays are doing, but that's a story for a little later...  Why can GM's be wunderkinds, but managers can't?

Mackanin soon might get his chance with the Cubs or Red Sox. Sandberg remains a candidate for the Cardinals. And an executive scoffed at my notion of “disrespect” Thursday, saying that teams try to make the best choices and win as many games as possible. 
Well, teams do dumb things.
Well, you're right there.  Tony Reagins had a bunch of experience before being named as the GM of the Angels, and he acquired Vernon Wells on purpose last offseason.  You know who else does dumb things? Bow-tie wearing writers for FOX.  Such as:
And while “dumb” might be too strong a word to describe the hiring of a newbie, I find it difficult to comprehend how teams go to extreme lengths to analyze players objectively, yet frequently make gut calls when hiring a manager.
What, do you think they don't interview prospective managers now?  Teams go through lists of tens of candidates, interviewing them for weeks.  I would be thoroughly shocked if there was anything resembling a "gut call" when a manager is hired.

Rosenthal finally backtracks on all of his comments, negating any real point that he had, by saying:
Joe Girardi, another former catcher, was a bench coach for only one season before he became a manager — and was named NL Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers Association of America in his first and only year with the Marlins.
Well the Marlins finished the season with 84 losses that year, and had a team full of budding stars with the average age of 25.4 years old.  They had a bunch of high-upside starting pitchers, plus Miguel Cabrera, Josh WIllingham, Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla, and rookie of the year Jeremy Hermida when he was still good.  That was a pretty good team, and honestly, they probably underachieved to only win 78 games (80-82 pythagorean record).  He then went to the Yankees, where he had the liberty of an already-championship caliber team and trillions of free agent dollars, and will probably be celebrated as an all-time great manager by casual sports fan worldwide.

So yeah, awesome journalistic integrity there.  Basically, what I got from reading this was that Rosenthal likes the way old men think about baseball, and he's scared of newer ways of thinking.  The Earth was flat for like 80 bajillion years or something, until someone questioned the status quo.

Consider this: Why do you shower every morning?  Is it because you've calculated that your skin secretes oil, sweat, etc. at such a pace that every 24 hours, your hygiene has depreciated enough that you physically need a shower?  Of course not.  It's because mostly everyone in the civilized world showers every morning before work, and has made a habit of it.  We shower everyday because that's what everybody else does and has done for the last few decades since running water and shower heads started happening, so it became a social norm.  Well what if we discovered that showering daily is really bad for our skin?  What if we realized that our hygiene can be maintained equally well if we only showered every second day, since the oils secreted by our skin and hair are actually an evolutionary process designed intentionally by the human body?  What if there was a water shortage, and only enough water to shower every 2 days?  Let's suppose that all three of the above scenarios are deemed true (they kind of are, really); the transformation from 1-day per shower to 2-days per shower obviously wouldn't be instant, but would rather take a little while for word to get across, and for people to be convinced to the point that they could break their routine.  Let's assume that, for whatever reason, teenage males would be the first people to find out about this, and would therefore not shower before going to the bar on a Friday night.  Relative to all the males, prissy teenage girls the world over would be delivered this bit of news only when they see the oily hair of their boyfriends, and would then overreact, saying stuff like "OMG that's soooooo gross."  I'm likening Ken Rosenthal to a prissy teenage girl.

Friday, 11 November 2011

The Fantasy Drafter-- All-star Baseball 2001

I don't really know why I call the Ken Griffey version the 3rd best game for the N64 when the gameplay of the ASB series is so much better.  I must be a shill to the marketing of Ken Griffey Jr.  Anyways, the ASB 2001 is the latest, and clearly best, of the series, and is probably the best baseball video game ever made before the dawn of the XBOX system, other than "Baseball" for the NES, obviously.

The actual baseball gameplay in this game is quite excellent, really, and really outdoes the Griffey series.  The letter-grade ranking system of each player is clearly the worst thing ever though.  Overall, this game isn't terribly unlike the Griffey games, so I'm probably going to have the same-ish strategy that I had in the Griffey draft.  We're not forced to have 15 position players and 10 pitchers in this version, so I'll probably be a bit more mindful of that.  Platoon splits matter in this one as well, so I'll be sure to grab a lefty or two in the bullpen if that has to break a tie, but overall, we're going SP, positions, bullpen, bench in that order, and focusing mostly on guys who will get on base via high contact ratings.

We don't exactly have the ability to fuck around with the system the way we did with the Griffey game.  Technically we can stick whoever we want wherever, but guys aren't listed with multiple positions.

You have a few options in terms of draft type for some reason-- fantasy order seems fair, so I went with that one, but you could rig it and get a really good pick if you wanted.  There's a quick-draft option that is just terrible and may as well be labelled as "Randomize all players".

I went with the Seattle Mariners for no reason in particular.

Round 1-  We got the 12th overall pick here, and went with one of the only remaining A+ starting pitchers, Mike Mussina.  Don't like it?  Fuck yourself.

Round 2- Larry Walker, RF.
Serious?  49th overall pick and he's still around?

Round 3- Al Leiter, SP.
Mostly due to the lack of a fastball.

Round 4- Todd Helton, 1B
There are a lot of 1B's here, to the point that I could really have just waited and grabbed someone else in a later round, going after a position with more scarcity, but whatever.

Round 5- Andy Pettitte, SP
There are a bunch of B+ starters left, so we have the option of going elsewhere if we want, but I'd rather scoop one now and try and scoop another with my next pick

Round 6- Denny Neagle, SP
There you go.  With 4 starters now, we'll take a couple of position players with the next few picks.

Round 7- Warren Morris, 2B
Yeah, I've never heard of him either.  Best middle infield hitter left though.

Round 8- Reggie Sanders, LF
Not quite primetime, but that's cool.

Round 9- Jose Vidro, 2B.
I'm just gonna stick him at SS.  We're really getting in to the useless zone here, as there isn't really much of anything left.

Round 10- Chad Curtis, CF.
Probably should have grabbed him before Vidro, but whatever.  Probably the best-ish left, but there are a few guys at this point that you could justify instead of Curtis.  Mainly, I wanted a CF, which narrowed it down to him, or Daryle Ward.  Jay Buhner is also available for fun.

Round 11- Justin Thompson, SP
Could have taken Roy Halladay, who is almost as good, but we went with Thompson instead.  There is no room for emotion here.

Round 12- Deivi Cruz, SS
We'll round out the infield, and then look for pitching or the catcher.  Cruz is the best defensively out of all the remaining decent-hitting shortstops, so that was the tie-breaker.

Round 13- Darryl Strawberry, OF/DH
Round 14- Brent Mayne, C
Was going to take Gregg Zaun but I got sniped.  Then I was going to go Moneyball and take Scott Hatteberg; also sniped.  Mayne is the best left, I guess?

Round 15- 20
Graeme Lloyd
Jerrt Dipoto
Terry Mullholland
Byung-hun Kim
Matt Clement

Bullpen.  Theoretically, we can draft more starting pitchers, and trade them away for relief help or whatever weaknesses we may have, but whatever.  That's actually what Clement is, but this is a halfway decent pile of relievers anyway, so it's no big deal.

Round 21-24
Wil Cordero
Bubba Trammel
AJ Pierzynski
D'Angelo Jimenez

Filling out the bench and backup catcher spots.  We're getting in to the unnecessary farm system now at times, though I'm sure someone from hereon in will make the team.  We're basically just drafting for hilarity's sake now, whether it be some former suckhole Bluejay, some guy with a funny name, or something else.

Trever Miller
Casey Blake
Chris Woodward (Both John Mcdonald and Craig Grebeck got sniped just before this pick)
Chuch McElroy
Jon Nunnally
Mike Dejean
Bill Pulsipher
Ryan Franklin
Gary Rath
Scarborough Green

Not bad.  Naturally, we're going to create a player in our own likeness, and we're going to stick him right where we have the biggest weakness.  In my opinion, that's either 3B or SS, though CF is certainly a respectable choice as well.  I suggest you find your childhood idol and give your player his batting stance, stirrup socks, and a helicopter followthrough, and we can just move along here.

Under attributes, I'm going to fill my contact and speed meters, empty my bunting meter, take a bit off of clutch and streak, and add to everything else equally.  We need to go to the free agents list to find him, and while we're there, we may as well add anybody useful to our team, since those people weren't draftable for some reason.  Tony Fernandez and Otis Nixon are always useful, especially when we have a bevy of guys that we'll never use.

I traded Clement, Jose Vidro and Trever Miller for Kenny Lofton, and then called up Tramell and Jimenez.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Closer to the Heart

The above photo is of Phillies closer, Ryan Madson, looking like a douche.  The Phillies re-signed Madson today (unofficial, but it's comin') to a 4 year deal with $11MM a season, with a vesting option for $13MM.  Naturally, I'm inclined to laugh, but in reality, the Phillies are one of the richer, higher payroll'ed teams in the league, the Yankees of the NL, if you will, so this really isn't going to destroy them two years from now when Ryan Howard is the worst $25MM a season player in history.  Stick with me, I have a point.

The fact that Madson is going to be the first closer-type to sign on with a team this offseason means that this is going to set the market for relief pitchers.  For example, if you'd like to sign Jonathan Papelbon, you're probably going to have to top the $11MM yearly value, and probably equal the years.  If you're not looking in to Papelbon per se, but do want one of the other top-end closers, the price might have just risen quite a bit.

Which gets me to the point that I was going to make anyway before Ryan Madson and the Philadelphia Philolies agreed to a hilarious deal: according to Buster Olney, similar to what we heard yesterday, the Jays are looking real hard for a top closer!

Now, let's not forget what we heard from Stoeten at DJF (linked yesterday), or the fact that Buster Olney is kind of an idiot who shills out rumors for Scott Boras, or that some of these so-called top closers are going to cost the Jays their first rounder in the upcoming draft, which should pretty much serve as enough information to refute the claim that the Jays are after a top closer.

AA loves his draft picks, and probably isn't going to sign anyone costing a draft pick, I think we all know that.    If AA really feels like going out and finding a closer, he could certainly do it.  Right now, I kind of doubt he's going to be signing any closers, especially after other guys see the paychecks Madson is about to get for the next 4 years, so I guess we're sticking to the trade market if anything happens, which is probably where he would have gone anyway, sooooo.....

Anyway, if this actually does happen (and really, why shouldn't it? 25 BLOWN SAVES LAST SEASON!!!!), a few candidates for trades include Andrew Bailey, the glass-armed closer for the A's, Huston Street of the Rockies, and Heath Bell of the Padres.  Now, there are obviously some positives of having a guy like Bell on the team, assuming he's actually as good as his numbers appear (San Diego baseball stats can be deceiving), but I kind of struggle to believe that the marginally better performance is worth the $8MM a season or whatever the shit he's worth.

I've said it a few times already, but I honestly think that there's enough within the system that the Jays can have an improved bullpen.  I mean, losing Frank (assuming that happens) is going to suck given the way he pitched over the second half of last year, but losing Jon Rauch makes up for that.  If I had it my way, the Jays would just continue to say stuff like "Yeah, we really need a closer big time" to keep idiots happy for a while until they realize that shutdown closers are a thing of the past.  If guys like Juan Carlos Oviedo (a.k.a. Leo Nunez), Joe Nathan, or Jonathan Broxton are kicking around and cheap, then yeah, go nuts.  But really, there's no need to go out there and spend a shit load of money on a guy who plays a position with a huge attrition rate, especially if he's only throwing 60 innings a year.

I feel like the Jays have themselves a talented, young pitching staff, and if they do choose to acquire another starter, there's a decent chance that such a deal would move someone else in to the bullpen.  Villanueva, Janssen, Perez, Litsch, and Carreno are all but locks to be in the bullpen this year, with guys like Beck, Fark, Mcgowan, Cecil, Jesse Chavez, Trystan Magnusson, Brad Mills, and Kyle Drabek listed as maybe's, depending on a variety of factors.  There isn't a huge need for more relievers in the system, especially if this isn't going to be the year for the Jays.

Monday, 7 November 2011


Hopping right in to stuff today, since nothing is really all that major.

The Bluejays acquired Trystan Magnusson from the Oakland A's for cash considerations.  Magnusson, along with Danny Fahrquar, was sent to Oakland from Toronto at about this time last year for Rajai Davis.  Fark was re-acquired for David Purcey early this past season, and then Purcey was turned in to Scott Sizemore.  Purcey was then DFA'ed again, lasting about a month with the Tigers.  So basically, the end result of this little love triangle is as follows:

Detroit gives up Scott Sizemore, a young, controllable infielder with upside; gets in return nothing, a hole in their infield.
Toronto gives up a pretty crappy flop of a first rounder who can't find the strike zone, cash; gets in return Rajai Davis.
Oakland gives up Rajai Davis; gets Scott Sizemore, cash.

If there's anything wrong with this picture, I sure don't see it.

Next, remember the last time I wrote here about Jonathan Sanchez being a tradeable?  Well he got traded to Kansas City this morningm with a prospect, in exchange for CF Melky Cabrera.  The trade addresses a need for both teams; SF needed some bats, especially in the outfield, and Cabrera just had a career year this season after being non-tendered by the Yankees the year before. Sanchez is still under team control for two seasons, and has quite a bit of potential, but really only has one good year under his belt.  The move allows KC to get Lorenzo Cain in to the lineup everyday, and kind of improves their pitching.

Jon Heyman of SI.com says that it is "believed [Jays AGM Tony] Lacava got a raise to stay" in Toronto as if this were common knowledge, without stating a source.  Probably because there isn't one, as this is the first I've seen of this.  Let's just move right along from that one, because I doubt it's true, but if it is, who gives a fuck?

Bill Smith was fired as GM of the Twins.  Should have won more games.  Dan Duquette was hired as the GM of the Baltimore Orioles.  Should have waited another couple days, could have had a shot at the Twins' job.  (Terry Ryan was hired, at least on an interim basis, as Smith's replacement.  He was GM until 2007, when Smith took over.)

The Jays are listed as being interested in Yoedis Cespedes, an international (soon-to-be) free agent from Cuba.  The 26-year old has defected and has been playing in the Dominican Republic for a while now, I guess.  His agents released a 20-minute video with some odd music selections, such as Christopher Cross' sailing, which played in the background while Cespedes mashed taters and then Sammy Sosa'ed his way out of the batters box.  This video has been since taken down from youtube, but we'll try and find it again and get it up here.

The Jays are also apparently getting a top shelf closer! according to a tweet by Buster Olney of ESPN.  Stoeten over at Drunk Jays Fans reads in to this one a little too much, I fear, though he does raise some good points.

Finally, Pat Hentgen has stepped down from his position as bullpen coach, due to a family issue.  Hopefully all is well, but in the meantime, Pete Walker has taken over.  All other bullpen staffers are returning, apparently.  Hentgen will now take on the role of a special assistant of some sort

Saturday, 5 November 2011

A few more tradeables?

As expected, we're hearing about a few more guys who could be had in trade discussions, now that the offseason has begun.  Let's have a look at some of the names who have come up so far this offseason:

Derek Lowe: Traded to the Cleveland Indians.  The Indians got the Braves to eat $10MM of the $15MM he's owed, so a $5MM Derek Lowe is pretty solid.  The Braves could still use a little bit of payroll flexibility, though not necessarily right now.  They have a young core of guys who are going to get pretty expensive throughout the next year or two, which explains...

Jair Jurrjens and Martin Prado:  In my original tradeables series, I said this about the Bravo's situation:
 I don't think they're overly fussy about moving any of their young guys, MLB or AAA, because guys like Derek Lowe and Tim Hudson  are getting pretty old and Jair Jurrjens is only good every 3rd season.
In terms of 2B, I wonder if Martin Prado could be had?  He played LF for most of the year after the Dan Uggla signing, and played a lot of 3B over the last two years with Chipper Jones being injured or needing to go eat at 4:30.

Well, we found out either yesterday or the day before that both Jurrjens and Prado are "kind of" being shopped.  Jurrjens just isn't all that special, and I'd sooner Brett Cecil in the rotation than Jurrjens, especially at that pricetag.  If AA goes there, I guess I could get behind it, but only if he doesn't give up anything of substance, or gets some big salary relief.  Prado hasn't played more than 140 games in a season in his career, and hasn't played a full season of 2B, so he's not a great candidate, but there's not really much out there for 2B's.

I hope we stay away from JJ, but I'd be cool with something like Thames+ a prospect outside of the top 20 in the system for Prado straight up.  I suggested this in the MLBTR comments in the link above, and got kind of laughed at, but Braves' fans seem pretty retarded as a general rule, but I can also see why it would be really, really easy to overestimate Prado's value right now.  His 2010 was really, really good, but he was below average offensively last season, and is an injury concern.  Beyond that, the offer of Thames+ for Prado considers both the fact that Thames (probably) isn't as good as Prado, nor will he (likely) ever be, but we're talking about 6 years of control of Thames in exchange for 2 years of Prado, coming off a down year.  Thames describes what ATL needs in this deal-- a power-hitting outfielder and a cheap one at that.  Thames, in a bit more than half a season, hit 12 HR's, slugging .456 and a .193 ISO, good for 8th among rookies.  I wouldn't be overly surprised to see something happen here, though I'm not too sure how the Jays see Thames right now, especially until we figure out what the deal is with Snider.

Jonathan Sanchez: Someone I didn't really consider in my original piece was Jonathan Sanchez of the Giants, who is apparently being shopped.  He's also in danger of being non-tendered, which makes his trade value pretty hilarious.  He's set to make $5.2MM this year, which doesn't really offer a whole lot of surplus value, explaining the non-tender thing.  SF wants offense pretty much across the board, but I'm not sure if Sanchez is enough to get anything of substance.  Again, Thames is there, but also again, Sanchez only has another 2 seasons of team control left if he's even worth keeping around once his price rises again next year.

Tim Lincecum: Yeah, I know... bear with me though.  I know it sounds absurd, but all the reasons of trading Jonathan Sanchez make a whole lot more sense if the name Tim Lincecum is stuck in there, as Dave Cameron from Fangraphs does here.  The price would be outrageous, but if the Giants think that they can improve, there is absolutely no reason not to do it, especially if they can lock up Matt Cain with the savings.  The big thing from Dave's post, in my opinion, is this:
Even if Lincecum is a +6 win pitcher going forward, the Giants have historically been able to coax +1 to +2 win seasons out of run-of-the-mill arms, and it’s been going on long enough to no longer just be considered a coincidence.
I mean... Ryan Vogelsong?  I know, right?

Here's where I think we're getting started: The Giants are set at C, with Buster Posey, and 3B, with Pablo Sandoval.  Either can play 1B, and the plan might be to eventually get Posey out from behind the plate after his season ended prematurely this year with a broken ankle.  Beyond those two positions, I don't think there are any sure things in SF around the field.  Brandon Belt can also play 1B, but he can be inserted in to the outfield just as easily, which leaves some flexibility here.

Timmy's K-rate has dropped in each of the last 2 years, and his bb-rate has risen, with mostly everything else staying static.  He's been lucky with HR's, thanks to pitching in San Francisco, which explains why he's outperformed his xFIP 3 out of the last 4 years, but when the market for starters is so thin, it's something you've got to at least consider taking.

Dave thinks that Jesus Montero+Eduardo Nunez+cash would be enough; something I don't necessarily agree with, especially with the leverage SF would have, though Dave is a lot smarter than I am.  If that would be enough to get it done, I bet the Giants could have any two of Snider/Lind/Thames/JP/Hech, with a varying amount of cash depending on which they took.  I honestly think we're starting with JP and Snider and throwing in more if this gets done, but the Jays have the prospects and cash to recover from losing something like that, especially if it were to acquire TIMMEH.

Friday, 4 November 2011

The Eye's guide to the Offseason

Update for 2012-2013 Offseason

MLBTR has added some dates for this year's offseason, now that we have some sort of idea of when the actual baseball action will be over.

  • End of world Series: contracts end, free agents are free agents.
  • Three days after World Series: Contract options must be decided upon.  The Jays, for example, have options on Rajai Davis and Darren Oliver.  This obviously includes player options and mutual options as well.
  • Five days after World Series: Qualifying offers must be made.  Any team looking to get compensation picks for the loss of a free agent must offer the player a contract of at least 1 year, $13.3MM and have the player sign with another team.
  • Six days after the World Series: Free agents can negotiate with other teams.  A team has exclusive negotiation rights with their own free agents for the first five days following the world series.
  • 12 days after World Series: Players must decide on whether or not to accept their qualifying offers.
  • Nov 7-9: GM Meetings.  You might see a trade or two here
  • Nov 20: Teams must set their 40-man rosters.  Any player with 5 years of minor league experience who is not placed on the 40-man roster by their big-league club will be available to the other 29 teams in the rule-5 draft.  There is also a minor league rule-5 draft, but who cares?
  • Nov. 30: Non-tender deadline.  Teams must decide whether or not a player is worth offering arbitration to or not.  Most player who eventually get non-tendered will be released in the days leading up to this date as a favor to the player to give him a chance to find another contract.
  • Dec 3-6: Winter meeting.  Think Pujols, Wilson, Buerhle.  Coupla trades, all kinds of rumors, and action action action!  Rule-5 draft takes place here as well.
Arbitration figures typically get exchanged during January, and any hearings happen throughout February, though teams can and do negotiate contracts, typically meeting around the mid-point of the arbitration figures that get exchanged.



I really enjoy this offseason.  I don't really know why, because so far, the biggest piece of news has been... well...  I guess you can take your pick between Henry Blanco, Juan Rivera, or John McDonald finding contracts, but I'm sure I'll be reminded when the real meat of the offseason starts happening. [Note-- CC Sabathia extending in NYY was no surprise at all, so yeah...]

The end of the world series began the 5-day exclusivity period for teams to offer contracts to their own free agents, and that has now come and gone.  After those 5 days, which happened to be Wednesday at 12:01AM ET, free agents could begin negotiations and sign with any team.  That's what we've seen to this point, but what happens next?

Well that's what I'm here for.  Thanks to help from Cots Baseball Contracts, we're going to go over what to expect in the next couple of months, but I'm going to try and dumb down the language a bit and go over just what all of that jumbo'ed mumbo really means.

November 10 and 11-- The end of one waiver period, and the beginning of another.  Waivers are essentially the permission from the commissioner's office to move a player's contract from the current MLB-team, whether it be to another team, to another level (AAA, AA, etc.), or simply to release the player.  Different waiver periods determine different waiver priorities if multiple teams claim a waived player.The very bottom of this link will explain that in more detail.

November 14-16-- GM and Owner meetings.  Look for there to be some trades during this period, or at least some rumors that could possibly lead to trades soon after.

November 19-- Deadline to set 40-man rosters and minor league reserve lists.  Each team must set their 40-man rosters to include any player that they would like to protect from the Rule 5 draft.  More on that in a second.  For teams to participate in the rule-5 draft, they must leave an open spot on their 40-man roster.  Teams may add Major League free agents/traded players to the 40-man roster after this date, but not players from the minor league system.

November 23-- Last date to offer arbitration to ranked (i.e. Type-A and Type-B) free agents with the intention of obtaining draft pick compensation.  If a Type-A or -B free agent signs with another team before this date, there is no need to offer arbitration, the picks become automatic.  Teams will typically wait until this date to sign any major free agents, because it allows them to see whether or not they will be giving up a draft pick, though there are obviously exceptions (Billy Wagner, Jonathan Papelbon).

December 5-8-- Winter Meetings.  Expect more trades and trade rumors.  The Rule 5 draft also occurs during these meetings.  Type-A and -B free agents may accept their arbitration offers before Dec. 7.

Per Cots (same link as Nov. 10/11 from above), players who sign their first professional baseball contract at the age of 18 or younger must be on their organization's 40-man roster within 5 years, while players who were 19+ must be on the 40-man within 4 years.  If these conditions are not applied, the player is eligible in the Rule 5 draft.

Teams will draft in reverse order of W-L record, and any team drafting a player must pay $50k to the player's original team.  The player must remain on the MLB-roster of the drafting team, or waive him.  If selected, that club must keep him on their MLB-roster all season.  If the player clears waivers, the original team can take him back for $25k, or the two teams can work out a trade to allow the drafting team to keep the player and send him to the minors.

There is also a AAA and AA version that works similarly, though dollar amounts are slashed.  The Rule-5 draft is designed to keep players from being stuck in the minor league system of one team when he could be useful to another organization at a higher level.

December 11-- The MLB and MLBPA collective bargaining agreement expires.  I expect a new one to be hammered out by then, and expect it to include some kind of stipulation about Super-2 status, free agent compensation, and draft slotting.

December 12-- Non-tender deadline.  Players who have not been tendered contracts from their clubs will become free agents on this date.  Most clubs will release anybody they plan on non-tendering before this date as a favor to the player, which allows them to explore contract options before this date.  Lyle Overbay and Brian Tallet are two Blue Jays who were non-tendered last offseason.

Typically, the guys who get non-tendered are league-average-ish, arbitration eligible players who don't really deserve a raise, but would likely get one in arbitration anyway, since it's rarely a mistake to take a chance on someone who's terrible but making the league minimum.  We can look at the LA Dodgers for a good example of non-tender candidates: James Loney is about as meh as can be, and is set to make $6.5MM in arbitration. For a team trying to save some money, Loney is the exact kind of player and pricetag that a team might look to shed.

January 5-18-- Players file for salary arbitration. Players and clubs will exchange figures with the MLBPA.  Hearings will take place between Feb. 1-21, but teams and players can still negotiate.

Feb. 15/16-- Waiver period ends/begins.

Feb 19/24-- Spring training begins for pitchers and catchers, and position players, respectively.  This is an optional date, however.  March 2 is the mandatory report date.

March 2-- Players with less than 3 years of service time may have their contracts renewed until March 21.

So those are the main things we can look forward to.  The meetings are always real fun, and there are always a couple of fun signings in the days following the non-tender deadline, but the real fun is going to be in the signings among the current crop of free agents, which usually start towards the end of November, and any random trades that happen intermittently.

It typically takes a couple of weeks, but teams will soon have more information regarding what they want to do in terms of the direction that they want to take their team in.  This information includes, but is not limited to,  whether they can attract free agents, whether they can make trades, and what other teams within their division do regarding trades and signings.