WTNYNovember 22, 2003
Tino, Escobar, Appier
By Bryan Smith

As promised, Tino Martinez was traded to the Devil Rays, with the Cardinals sending $7M of the $8.5M Tino is owed through next season. Tampa sent Evan Rust, a 25-year old reliever, and a player to be named later. Let's look at some numbers:

Tino Martinez- 273/352/429
Martinez vs. RH- 281/358/446 Martinez vs. LH- 235/323/346
Martinez at home- 286/372/440 Martinez away- 260/333/417
Before Break- 281/350/455 After Break- 261/356/386

Evan Rust at AA- 1-3 2.65 28/34 35/15
Rust at AAA- 2-2 3.25 32/36 26/10

So, Tino can't hit left-handers, and struggled away and after the break. But hey, he's got that veteran presence we all love. He goes along with Paul Abbott and John Halama under the category of Piniella acquisitions, indicating how little pull Chuck LaMar has on this franchise. He is a yes man, and it's a matter of weeks (in my mind), before Jim Bowden sits atop the D-Rays.

I thought that maybe one bonus Tino had was defense, but the statistics proved me wrong. He was 7th in the National League with 1.79 defensive win shares, thanks to the boys over at www.baseballgraphs.com. And using Dave Pinto's new defensive statistic, Martinez was 12th among first base regulars. Who was top on that list? None other than former Devil Ray, Travis Lee.

Lee is a very similar player that will provide a little less veteran leadership, and a little more on defense. At the plate, Lee hit 275/348/459, which is virtually the same production from the plate. If Lee ends up signing for $1.5M or less, this wasn't the right move. If he gets $3M, than Lou and LaMar have a little defense. Tampa still will sign a 3B (Tony Batista?), and a RF (Carl Everett), so their offense is hardly finished.

While much press has come from St. Louis that Albert Pujols will play first next season, I don't see it happening. John Gall is one of their better prospects, and here are his stats from AAA last season:

John Gall at AAA- 312/368/473 16HR/73RBI

Not bad at all. So Gall will come in and play first base, and we will see the following lineup from the 2004 St. Louis Cardinals:

1. Bo Hart- 2B
2. J.D. Drew- RF
3. Albert Pujols- LF
4. Jim Edmonds- CF
5. Scott Rolen- 3B
6. Scott Renteria- SS
7. John Gall- 1B
8. Mike Matheny- C

Rust is a solid addition, and could pitch in the 2004 bullpen that so far only has Jason Isringhausen, Kiko Calero, and Cal Eldred. Rust will probably battle with the likes of Jimmy Journell and Mike Crudale for a spot. He's a hard-thrower, and him, along with Gall, will make St. Louis forger Mr. Martinez.

Next transaction: Kelvim Escobar signs with the Anaheim Angels for three seasons, worth $18.75M. Let's see the statistics:

Kelvim Escobar as starter- 12-8 3.92 162/163 136/70
Escobar at home- 5-7 5.65 119/95.2 91/43
Escobar away- 8-2 2.76 70/84.2 68/35
Before Break- 5-6 4.72 99/87.2 86/38
After Break- 8-3 3.89 90/92.2 73/40

For his totals I left out about 15 bad relief appearences, although they are included in the home, away, and pre-all star game splits. Escobar finally found his niche in 2003, pitching very well in the Toronto starting rotation. He was very good on the road, and will be moving from the Majors 5th best stadium for hitters, to the 25th.

Escobar throws his fastball 95mph, and can throw a mean breaking pitch. He walks a lot of people, and may join the few and proud of topping the 100 marker over one season. He struck out less people per inning after the break, probably because he didn't have any relief appearences the final three months.

Lee Sinins reports this won't decrease interest in Bartolo Colon, but if the Angels can snag Colon I imagine Jarrod Washburn would be non-tendered. But right now, we are looking at a rotation in Anaheim of:

Jarrod Washburn- LH
Kelvim Escobar- RH
Ramon Ortiz- RH
John Lackey- RH
Aaron Sele- RH

And remember, Ervin Santana and Bobby Jenks are getting closer to Anaheim everyday. The Blue Jays knew this was coming, ever since Kelvim turned down a two-year, $10M offer from Riccardi. J.P. has already added Ted Lilly and Pat Hentgen, and Sinins writes the team will have interest in Ben Sheets. One Batter's Box thread gives a good offer of Jayson Werth, Kevin Cash, and Brandon League.

Good move by the Angels, although the Blue Jays won't be missing too much. And if this ends the interest in Colon, he may have no choice but to sign with New York.

Finally, the Kansas City Royals signed Kevin Appier for the league minimum of $300,000. This isn't exactly an impact signing, after considering Appier's 2003:

Appier in 2003: 8-9 5.40 120/111.2 55/43
Appier with KC: 1-2 4.26 15/19 5/7

Kevin didn't pitch particularly badly with the Royals, although one of his four starts only went two innings, due to a sore elbow. Obviously that has been checked out, and Kevin will be back with average or below-average six inning starts in 2004. Baird can't go wrong here, as 300K is nothing, and Appier can't go wrong, because Anaheim still owes him $12M. Right now, the Royals rotation has Appier, Runelvys Hernandez, Jimmy Gobble, Miguel Asencio, and Darrell May. I'm assuming Jeremy Affeldt will be in the bullpen, pitching very effectively next season.

So that's the transactions I've seen. The Mark Kotsay-Ramon Hernandez deal is still yet to be finalized, and Kevin Towers will take the offer away if Beane doesn't accept it by tomorrow. So, that's an interesting thing to watch out for. Other news and rumors:

- The Baltimore Orioles are close to trading for Derrek Lee, apparently for young pitching. Lee will make about $7.5M in 2004, and the Marlins wish to save their money for Mike Lowell, Luis Castillo, and...

- Ivan Rodriguez isn't close to signing with Florida. Pudge wants 5 years and $50M, the Marlins want 2 years and $15M. I would say that is pretty far off, wouldn't you? Other than Florida, only the Cubs are showing a lot of interest in Rodriguez.

- Tony Graffanino will probably sign with the Red Sox some time next week, and fellow infielder Jeff Cirillo is going to be released this offseason. Boston is planning on non-tendering Jeremy Giambi, and avidly pursuing Adam Kennedy when he is non-tendered. TGraff and Kennedy would platoon at second.

- The Yankees will not pursue Vladimir Guerrero, and hopes David Well's will take a non-roster invite. The Padres remain interested in Wells, and would probably guarantee a contract. Andy Pettite is drawing interest from New York, Houston, and now Boston.

- Guerrero may be left with just the Orioles and Expos, with Baltimore picking up the MLB trash. This would leave Miguel Tejada to just the Angels, Dodgers, or the Cubs. Gary Sheffield wants the Yankees, but is unimpressed with their offer. Supposedly, Atlanta currently has a better offer. If the Braves lose out on Sheffield they'll likely sign Millwood, and the Phillies will trade for Schilling.

- Sterling Hitchcock is gaining interest on the free agent market, notably from the Cubs. Chicago is also interested in left-hander Eric Milton, who may go to the Red Sox. Boston is also pursuing Jarrod Washburn in a trade.

- A few 40-man roster waiver claims: Walter Young (1B) claimed by Orioles from Pirates, Duaner Sanchez (RP) claimed by LA from Pirates, Mario Ramos (LHP) claimed by Oakland from Texas, Edwin Almonte (RP) claimed by Boston from Mets, Matt Guerrier claimed by Twins from Pirates. Pittsburgh has too many players, and left off a bunch from the 40-man. Another interesting one is Chris Shelton, a C/1B who raked in A+ last year. More on potential Rule V picks next week.

Have a good weekend and I'll be back on Monday.