A Holiday on the Links
While golf courses may be crowded around the country on this Monday holiday, the links are wide open on Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT.
Studes, also known to some as Dave, responded to The Art of a Bad Deal by writing a clear and concise article (Player Contract Options) on The Baseball Graphs website.
First, Rich Lederer wrote a dead-on assessment of the opt-out part of the JD Drew contract. Essentially, JD Drew has the option to leave his contract with the Dodgers after the first two years and re-sign with another team if he wants to. It's totally up to him.
Of course, Drew will only invoke this clause if he feels he can make more money with a new contract. In other words, he'll only do this if he has two great years, remains healthy, and figures that other major league teams will be willing to pay him more than $11 million a year.
On the other hand, the Dodgers are on the hook to pay him $11 million a year for five years. They can't get out of this deal if Drew does poorly.
Studes goes on and discusses the risks and rewards of long-term contracts, mentioning that "the Drew deal is different." He also refers to a related article (Option Value in the Beltran Deal) in The Sports Economist that is worth reading.
Rhiannon Potkey of the Ventura County Star wrote an article (Jered, still unsigned after being drafted by Angels, focuses attention on training -- registration required) on Jered Weaver. [courtesy of my son via SG in ATL from Baseball Primer]
There are mixed signals coming out of the camps of Weaver and the Angels:
"It's coming along. I have a good feeling about it," said Weaver about the ongoing negotiations between Boras and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
"Scott and (Angels owner Arte) Moreno met during the winter meetings about things, and that's just one step forward in this long process," said Weaver, who does not wish to discuss financial terms.
But Angels director of scouting Eddie Bane said the club hadn't had any recent conversations with Boras about Weaver's contract as of two weeks ago.
"We have basically developed a no-comment situation. We haven't talked to Scott in a while about anything," said Bane. "But we still believe we are going to get Jered signed. I believe the next big date will be spring training (Feb. 20)."
I find the final three paragraphs of the article somewhat amusing in light of previous comments coming out of the Angels' hierarchy. It's almost as if Bane is saying, "Yeah, we like everything about it -- except for those Mark Prior-like stats because they're going to cost us a lot of money."
But Bane hopes a deal with Weaver will get done this season. He was thrilled when the Golden Spikes Award winner who led the nation in wins (15-1) and strikeouts (213) was still available when the Angels made their first selection.
"We knew it would be a long process, and we knew all along his first year would be 2005," said Bane.
"He is such a good kid. We hear such great things about him, and we did our research. He had a nice career at Long Beach State, but it's time to go out and play some baseball now."
No, it's time to go out and sign him, Eddie. If you do that, then Weaver can "go out and play some baseball."
Jim Caple, a senior writer for ESPN.com, asked a thought-provoking question "Koufax or Blyleven?" in a recent Page 2 column.
Say you are a general manager in an alternate universe and you can choose a clone of either the 19-year-old Koufax or the 19-year-old Blyleven, knowing ahead of time that both will perform exactly as they did in our major leagues. Wins, losses, ERA, innings -- all those stats on the backs of their Topps baseball cards will be exactly duplicated. The key aspect to keep in mind, however, is that free agency is still banned in this alternate universe. In other words, you'll not only get the pitcher for the start of his career, you will have lifetime rights to him (just as the Dodgers did with Koufax). He's your indentured servant for as long as his arm can still pitch.
Who do you pick? The Hall of Fame pitcher who had three 25-win seasons, threw four no-hitters and won three Cy Young awards in a four-year span, but who only won a dozen games six times and was done by age 31? Or the non-Hall of Famer who won 20 games only once and never won a Cy Young award, but who won at least 14 games a dozen times, was still pitching at age 42 and finished with 122 more wins than Koufax?
Well, I'm not sure you could go wrong with either. According to Bill James and Rob Neyer in The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers, you would have the pitcher with the best curveball of all time (Koufax) or the one with the third best ever (Blyleven). Number two? Mordecai Brown. (Brown cheated though. He only had three fingers!)
The book credits Koufax with having the second-best fastball from 1960-1964 and Blyleven the ninth-best fastball from 1970-1974. Sandy is also ranked fifth from 1955-1959 and 1965-1969. Koufax and Blyleven, in fact, are the only two pitchers ranked in the top ten Best Curveballs of All Time and in the top ten Best Fastballs in one of the 25 half decades listed (1880-present).
For those Hall of Fame voters who don't think Blyleven was dominant enough, his curveball and fastball ratings are something you can hang your hat on -- if ranking fifth in strikeouts and ninth in shutouts in the history of baseball isn't already enough.