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.
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)
Ben Ozur is an absolute baseball guru. He is a huge Mets, Jets, Knicks and Islanders fan whose life revolves around fantasy sports.
By Josh Halilej
After winning the American League West and making the World Series in back to back years (2010-11), the Texas Rangers have been in a period of regression these past two seasons due to an increase in competition with the emergence of Billy Beane’s not-so-underdog Oakland A’s, and the massive spending from the Angels. In 2012, the Rangers managed to stay afloat with a wild card worthy 93-69 record, but they lost their grip of the top of the division to Oakland, who bested them by one game. While this one game may not seem like a big deal, the Rangers were forced to play the first ever one game wild card playoff against the Baltimore Orioles, where they lost 5 to 1. Ron Washington and company vowed to come back next year with a vengeance, and after some offseason moves like trading away Michael Young, they seemed fine, until star player Josh Hamilton abandoned ship to go take his talents to the city of Angels. This season, the Rangers tried to cope with the loss of Hamilton who was their offensive rock, but ultimately could not make the playoffs with a record of 91-72. Someone could look at the loss of Hamilton and assume that the Rangers’ problem was largely offensive-related, but with stellar performances from Adrian Beltre and pre-suspension Nelson Cruz, in addition to receiving Alex Rios from the White Sox, I would have to disagree. Their problems lie within the pitching staff.
Pitching wins ballgames. It’s that simple. A solid rotation that can go out on to the baseball diamond with a different threat every game will wear out opponents in a series and make it that much easier to achieve baseball immortality. Having only two pitchers register more than 20 starts (Derek Holland and Yu Darvish) is not going to strike fear into opponents’ eyes. Aside from Darvish (who put up ridiculous strike out numbers this season with 277Ks in 209 innings pitched) and Holland, three of the next four pitchers who had the most starts on the team were eligible rookies. No disrespect to them, but consistency is key in a pitching rotation because you want to have the same guys out there that you had all year to rely on in situations where the team needs it most. That being said, the Rangers definitely need to address pitching this offseason.
I suggest that the Rangers don’t have to go after some of the ‘bigger’ names in the pitching market this year, but maybe make some trades with the wealth of young talent they have and add consistent veterans to the rotation. I think Scott Feldman, a Ranger from 2005-2012, could potentially be a good fix on the cheaper side because he gave a solid 30 starts to the Orioles/Cubs this year with an ERA at a respectable 3.86. On the pricier side, there is Ricky Nolasco, whose 199.2 innings last year and 33 starts for both the Marlins and Dodgers make him the #7 ranked free agent this season according to ESPN. Possible trades that the Rangers could approach almost always include trading either highly touted prospect, Jurickson Profar or starting Shortstop Elvis Andrus. However, they have been in talks with the St. Louis Cardinals about a possible trade involving Cardinals rookie sensation Shelby Miller, Oscar Taveres or Matt Adams for either Profar of Andrus.
I think that the moves that would give the Texas Rangers the best possible chance to succeed would be performing the trade with St. Louis, making a play for free agent centerfielder Chris Young to fill in the vacancy of Nelson Cruz, and signing Ricky Nolasco to a 4 year, 42 million dollar deal. Maybe with that, the Rangers will make a playoff push and possibly make a title run like they did in 2010 and 2011.
Josh Halilej is a die hard fan of both the Jets and the Mets, and is an avid fantasy sports player. He participates in leagues for baseball, basketball and football. You can follow him on twitter at @Mrmet2323
By Dan Lagnado
At this moment two seasons ago, many MLB analysts predicted that the Miami Marlins would be a team to be reckoned with in the NL East. Now two full seasons later, we will be discussing the dire need for MLB caliber players. After the fire sale of 2012, the Marlins were left with very few players form their seemingly talented roster at the beginning of that season. In 2013, the trade of Ricky Nolasco completed the reboot of the old stars in favor more young, raw talent. The one big name that this team has left is Giancarlo Stanton. However, even he, one of the most prolific power hitters in the league, had a season in which he missed time due to injury and so he did not provide the statistics many people expected him to. Stanton hit only .249 with 24 homeruns and 62 RBI. He led the team in every offensive category except for stolen bases, despite only playing in 116 games. The Marlins’ starting lineup was a bit like musical chairs this season, with players coming and going. Over the course of the season, the Marlins used: five catchers, five first basemen, four second basemen, three third basemen, and nine outfielders. Many of these players were journeyman veterans such as Austin Kearns and Casey Kotchman, or prospects rushed to the majors, such as Christian Yelich, Jake Marisnick, and Derek Dietrich. Most of the veteran leaders such as Juan Pierre and Placido Polanco will move on to other teams in free agency causing the Marlins to rely even more heavily on their young players. If nothing is done in free agency the Marlins could have an infield consisting of Ed Lucas, Adeiny Hechavarria, Donovan Solano and Logan Morrison. There aren’t many pitchers who will fear that combination.
Where this team does show promise is the pitching staff. Despite the departure of Nolasco, this young rotation showed the ability to shut down hitters on a somewhat consistent basis. Jose Fernandez is a candidate for both Rookie of the Year and the Cy Young Award after posting a 12-6 record with a 2.19 ERA and 187 strikeouts. Henderson Alvarez (5-6) also showed he can develop into a top-notch pitcher with his no-hitter that he threw the last game of the season. In addition to the two top guns, some capable veterans like Nate Eovaldi and Kevin Slowey also support the rotation. Miami’s bullpen is spearheaded by closer Steve Cishek (34/36 saves, 2.33 ERA), Ryan Webb (2.91 ERA), AJ Ramos (86 K in 80 innings, 3.15 ERA) and Mike Dunn (72 K in 67.2 inn, 2.66 ERA).
It remains to be seen what actions owner Jeffrey Loria and General Manager Dan Jennings choose to take but it is safe to say that it is in the best interest of the team to go out and sign at the very least, a few low risk veteran players on in order to beef up the offense and sure up the back end of what can become a very solid pitching rotation. However I do not believe that a solution to the Marlins’ problems is imminent. It will take a few years but as young players begin to develop and some bigger, longer-term free agent contracts start to be signed this team’s future can be as bright as the summer sun in South Beach.
Dan Lagnado is studying communications, law economics and government at American University. He’s a fan of both the Mets and Jets and has been writing about sports for four years. You can follow him on twitter at @dlag1995