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MLB Hot Stove Roundup: What’s Happened Since the Fielder-Kinsler Trade?

By Ben Ozur

With the exception of an eventual Robinson Cano signing, this blockbuster trade will most likely end up being the headline of the offseason. But other moves have since been made. Here are the other miscellaneous moves that have been made since the trade (in chronological order):

The Royals sign LHP Jason Vargas. Though many believe this was an overpay (as we will see with other signings later), this was a good move for the Royals. It adds depth to a rotation that already has James Shields and Jeremy Guthrie, and it fills the void of the probably-departing Ervin Santana. He is a solid three-or-four-starter who will give the Royals a veteran who can give innings – something that the Royals find pretty valuable. I think this will set the tone for other KC offseason moves that will allow them to be a real threat for a Wild Card spot this year.

The Mets sign OF Chris Young. See article here.

The Cardinals trade 3B David Freese to the Angels for OF Peter Bourjos. These two guys are both coming off tough years, but these two guys have both showed promise in the past. Also, it fills holes for both teams. The Angels desperately needed a third baseman, after getting the worst third base production in the MLB. However, David Freese was only a league average hitter last year, so it wasn’t a huge improvement. With Peter Bourjos, he brings extra depth to centerfield already occupied by Jon Jay (I assume they will platoon, or maybe Bourjos will get the larger share). They can both afford to part ways with their old players; the Angels have JB Shuck to use in leftfield, and the Cardinals now have room for top prospect Kolten Wong to start at second base (Matt Carpenter will move to third base). This is a close call, but I give the edge to the Cardinals in this trade.

The Yankees sign C Brian McCann. By signing the clear-cut best catcher on the free agent market (and one of the top catchers in the league in general), this was easily the biggest move of the offseason for the Yankees (with no disrespect to the trading of Chris Stewart). He is one of the best offensive catchers in the league, and he has been said to be a good guy to have behind the plate. However, his production, albeit potentially due to injury, has faltered over the past two seasons. Though he is definitely a top catcher in the league, it may be because of the weakness of the position as a whole. He is being paid this much because he is one of the best at what he does, but I don’t think he’s worth that money. Also consider that he will probably be a DH by the end of this deal, which decreases his value even more. Short-term, this deal will probably work out for the Yankees. In two years, I believe it will be a regret.

Brian McCann made headlines last week, signing with the Yankees (Via Bronx Baseball Daily)

Brian McCann made headlines last week, signing with the Yankees (Via Bronx Baseball Daily)

The Cardinals sign SS Jhonny Peralta. Aside from the controversy due to the PED usage, it’s hard to deny the great deal the Cardinals got. Peralta is a well above average offensive shortstop (he has shown that throughout his career, even before his suspension-filled 2013 season) and arguably the best shortstop on the market (close with Stephen Drew). It also fills a gaping hole for the Cardinals, as thy received the worst production from their shortstops in the MLB in 2013 (primarily Pete Kozma). This was clearly a good signing, but of course, there’s the controversy. Though you may not like the rule of how short the suspension is, you have to deal with it. He was told to sit out for 50 games and he did. He served his punishment, and that should be the end of it. Anyway, why should the Cardinals be criticized for the signing? It’s not like they’re condoning his decision to take PEDs. I get that people are still peeved about this, but in terms of this signing, it shouldn’t be seen as a factor of how good it truly was.

The Dodgers sign RHP Dan Haren. A $10M deal for a pitcher who hasn’t had even a league average season for a pitcher since 2011? I get it; he’ll probably be the fourth starter for the Dodgers, and they have all the money in the world to spend. But that doesn’t mean they should just throw it away. They should’ve been more resourceful with that money. There are better pitchers on the market, and they’re probably going to make less (i.e. Bartolo Colon, Paul Maholm, and others on the trade market). Not too good of a signing in my opinion, but still, there’s no such thing as a bad one-year deal.

The Twins sign RHPs Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes. This was certainly a forced issue. Ricky Nolasco – okay, solid pitcher, good fit for the Twins in that ballpark, but for over $11M AAV (average annual value)? Phil Hughes – there is no justification in this signing. He has never posted an ERA under 4 in a season as a full-time starter, and he’s making $8M a year? I get it – the Twins are desperate for pitcher, coming off a year where their starting staff collected a cumulative ERA over 5, easily the worth in the MLB. But the last few times they’ve tried to get pitchers (Vance Worley and Mike Pelfrey, namely), they’ve been disasters. I understand it’s a huge park in Minnesota, but then why are all of their pitchers doing so poorly? Finally, signing two guys to big contracts when they aren’t anywhere close to competing is far beyond me. These signings make no sense whatsoever.

The Athletics sign LHP Scott Kazmir. Nice comeback story for Kazmir last year with Cleveland, after pitching the previous season with the Sugarland Skeeters of the Independent League. His ERA hovered around 4 last year, which is respectable, and he posted nice strikeout numbers for a starter. But can he do it again? The A’s surely think so, considering the $22M contract they gave him. This was a risky signing, but a good risk in my opinion.

(UPDATE: The Athletics have also traded INF Jemile Weeks and a player to be named to the Orioles in exchange for AL saves leader Jim Johnson)

The Tigers trade RHP Doug Fister to the Nationals. There were rumors that it would be Max Scherzer being traded by Detroit, but they chose Fister instead. Fister was arguably the best fourth starter in the MLB (pitching behind Scherzer, the Cy Young award winner; Justin Verlander, a former Cy Young award winner and MVP, and Anibal Sanchez, the ERA champion in the AL). Since coming over to the Tigers, Fister has shown much consistency, maintaining a very respectable ERA of about 3.50 in each of his years there. This will prove to be a major upgrade to an already great Nationals rotation, clearly. The Tigers will not reap the benefits of this trade immediately, as the three players they got back in return (Steve Lombardozzi, Ian Krol, and Robbie Ray) are all fairly young. At least for now, it clears a space for Drew Smyly, and they still have minor league pitching depth; so this wasn’t as big of a loss for the Tigers as it is a gain for the Nats.

Other worth-mentioning notes. The Royals extend GM Dayton Moore for two years. Ted Lilly, the 15-year veteran of 7 MLB teams, has retired. The Mets continue to show interest in Bronson Arroyo and Curtis Granderson. And Finally, the Yankees and Robinson Cano remain $80M apart in contract negotiations.

(UPDATE: The Boston Red Sox have signed catcher AJ Pierzynski to a one year, $8.25 million contract)

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Ben Ozur is an absolute baseball guru. He is a huge Mets, Jets, Knicks and Islanders fan whose life revolves around fantasy sports.

Don’t Hate, Appreciate, Reggie: Comparing Mr. October and Señor Octubre

By Seth Schuster

The Boston Red Sox are World Series Champions once again, thanks to the contributions of “Big Papi” David Ortiz. Ortiz, fresh off of winning his third World Series Championship as a member of the Red Sox, was soon bestowed with an honor that had eluded him twice before – World Series MVP. Ortiz lost out on the honor in 2004 to Manny Ramirez, and in 2007 to Mike Lowell, but there was no doubt as to who was taking home the hardware this October. This time, Ortiz not only had a World Series worthy of discussion for the award, but also as one of the best postseason hitters of all time. His name now graces lists full of great postseason hitters, most notably Reggie Jackson, also known as “Mr. October.” Papi hit a stellar .688 this World Series featuring two homeruns, six RBIs, with a slugging percentage of 1.188, an OBP of .760, while only striking out once in 16 at-bats. This added to his nearly incomparable career World Series resume of a .455 batting average, a .576 OBP, and a .795 slugging percentage. He has 14 RBIs in 14 World Series contests.

David Ortiz certainly has a case to be compared to Reggie Jackson. (Via AP)

David Ortiz certainly has a case to be compared to Reggie Jackson. (Via AP)

Reggie Jackson, “Mr. October,” won five World Series rings over the course of his career, batting .357, with a .457 OBP, and a .755 slugging percentage. Jackson also had 10 homers and 24 RBIs in his World Series career. Jackson’s numbers, compared to Ortiz’s statistics are very close, but fall slightly short of the mark when discussing World Series competition. The only edge Reggie seems to have is the power numbers, where his homerun totals edges Papi by seven and his RBI total bests Ortiz’s by 10. Jackson, however, played in one more WS than Ortiz (Jackson tore his hamstring in the 1972 ALCS, and subsequently did not play in that year’s Series).

Now it’s important to remember that although Ortiz’s numbers may best Jackson’s in the World Series, the moniker “Mr. October” was earned due to Reggie’s spectacular play throughout the entire month.

Reggie hit .278 in his postseason career, tallying 18 homeruns and 48 RBIs in 77 appearances.

Papi is a .295 hitter in his postseason career with 17 homers and 60 RBIs in 82 games.

Ortiz has one less total homerun, and has played five more postseason games, he has 12 more RBI’s than Jackson does on his resume. Jackson hit an average of 0.6 RBIs per game in his postseason career, and even with the added five games his RBI total, would still only be 51, still nine less than Ortiz’s current total. Now, let’s play devil’s advocate for just a minute here. We shouldn’t dub Ortiz “Mr. October” just yet. Although his stats are extraordinary, Ortiz’s name has been linked to Performance Enhancing Drugs in the past.

In 2009, reports surfaced about a failed MLB drug test in 2003. The source was never able to provide any evidence of the failed test, and more importantly, it never reported the drug that Ortiz had allegedly tested positive for. Ortiz, the character guy he his, brushed off the allegations and continued to do the talking with his bat – especially in the postseason. After a name is linked to PEDs, however, it is hard to make that connection disappear even if Ortiz never actually broke any rules. The mere allegation will always linger and serve as a backdrop. The PED link will most likely stay with Ortiz quietly for the rest of his baseball career, whether the rumors are true or not. The connection will most likely be a deciding factor in whether Papi, arguably the greatest Designated Hitter of all time, is enshrined in the baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown somewhere down the road. The only other Designated Hitter who has ever received HOF considerations is Frank Thomas, whose numbers aren’t even comparable to David’s. Could Papi’s postseason statistics drive him up to Cooperstown? It’s might, but we’re not sure. What we do know, however, is that Ortiz “Lives for this,” and it is evident that he does, the man thrives on the crisp October air. The decision on Ortiz’s HOF fate could come down to two deciding factors -PEDs, and postseason play.

He certainly has the numbers to support his case. He certainly has the numbers to be called “Mr. October,” but out of courtesy to Mr. Jackson who said it was “Silly” to call Ortiz “Mr. October.” Let’s call “Big Papi” David Ortiz, “Señor Octubre.” Maybe someday we will call Ortiz “Cooperstown.” He certainly has the numbers to do it. And the numbers never lie.

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Seth Schuster is a student at Blind Brook High School in Westchester, New York. He is an avid sports fan, who knows it all when it comes to the Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics, New England Patriots, and Boston Bruins. Yup, that’s right – a Boston sports fan living in New York! Seth’s favorite all-time athletes include David Ortiz, Tom Brady, and Paul Pierce. Follow Seth on Twitter for all your Boston Sports updates at @redsoxseth