Pair of Deals and lots more
Busy day in the Majors, as I've got two trades and a signing to discuss. ESPN was quick to report a Mark Kotsay for Ramon Hernandez and Terrence Long deal, as it is yet to be finalized. But my guess is that it will be, so my comments are going up today. And if you haven't seen Christian Ruzich's new blog, you shouldn't be calling yourself a baseball fan.
In the proposed deal, the Padres would be netting the catcher Kevin Towers wanted, and a left-handed bat for the outfield. I talked about San Diego's claim of Henri Stanley a couple of days ago, but the Long acquisition ruins Stanley's, and Todd Sears' chances of making the team. Before I go too far into it, let's look at a few numbers:
Wow, Long is bad. Long can hit right-handers a lot more than left-handers, and he can play left and center. That will be the extent of his playing time in San Diego. He was terrible away from Alameda, and he was God-awful after the All-Star break. He'll never get 400AB again, but with the Padres now going with a terrible outfield, he'll come into games late.
Hernandez, on the other hand, shows very promising numbers. His slugging percentage was .488 away from home, and it was .471 after the break. He actually showed a backwards platoon split, although it was the first time in his career in which that held true. I think he has the ability to top a .500 slugging percentage in San Diego, although it's unfair to expect a .350OBP. He's durable and powerful, and won't have problems behind San Diego's big guns.
So, as I see it, San Diego has shored up their 2004 starting lineup. It will look something like:
1. Mark Loretta- 2B- RH
Although, let me say I love Jonah Keri's idea of trading Nevin or Klesko for starting (Odalis?), and then going after Mike Cameron to play center field. That would really improve this team, and I would then be ready to hand them the divisional crown. After Sabean beat Towers to Pierzynski, it was essential for Kevin to make a quick deal. I think Hernandez will outperform A.J. in terms of OPS next season, and right now the Padres might be favored to win this division.
Oakland got Mark Kotsay in this deal, and landed Bobby Kielty in exchange for Ted Lilly. Let's look at the two hitters that Billy Beane has landed:
I banked on Kotsay this season, probably overdrafting him in a few fantasy leagues. A bad back led to me later releasing him, and to him putting up only decent 2003 numbers. It's important to look at the platoon split, as Oakland has a few (Chavez, Durazo, Hatteberg) left-handers already. Eric Byrnes is going to platoon here, as he slugged .524 off southpaws last year. The numbers Kotsay posted after the break are indicative on his performance, and there is a strong likelihood that Kotsay is the 2004 Oakland A's leadoff man. There goes my Kenny Lofton idea.
J.P. Riccardi worked with Billy Beane a long time, and has noticed a flaw. He likes people too much. He chose Jeremy Brown in the first round, when he could have had him in the 8th. And with Kielty, he ended up paying a lot for a guy who didn't have a good season. But I like Kielty as well, so I think this will eventually work out for Beane. Kielty hits left-handers very well, but if he continues to hit so poorly vs. RH, Billy McMillon is going to steal some at-bats. He will be a major piece of the puzzle in 2004, and Beane is counting on him, and fellow "holy grail" acquisition Erubiel Durazo to lead them to the playoffs.
And let me go off on a few Oakland tangents. To anyone saying Oakland will use Jeremy Brown next year: you are an idiot. I think Minnesota's rushing Joe Mauer too much, and he's the Majors top prospect. Brown, he ain't in the top 50. Oakland is prepared to use Melhuse, and don't be shocked if they sign Todd Pratt, who slugs lefties and walks a lot. Also, I was re-reading Moneyball. Hatteberg, the supposed posterchild of the book, is now the antichrist. If the book is about spotting inefficiencies and managing resources, why sign Scott to an extension. Graham Koonce has the patience and power philosophy Oakland loves, at an eighth less the cost of Scott. God, Beane is SOOO overrated.
With this, Beane is done fixing that offense. It needs little tweaking, so you'll see some variation of this:
Oakland vs. RH Oakland vs. LH
OK, finally, moving onto Toronto. I'm going to team the acquisition of Pat Hentgen ($2.2M) into this, and analyze Riccardi landing two pitchers. Let's see those numbers (W-L ERA H/IP K/BB):
Lilly: 12-10 4.34 179/178.1 147/58
Hentgen: 7-8 4.09 150/160.2 100/58
Lilly was another player I chose in my fantasy draft, but he proved a little too wishy-washy for my fantasy needs. He's a great pitcher and I love watching him, but is it ever going to completely come together? It did in the second half, which seems to be Riccardi's motives behind both of these moves. Lilly's ERA will suffer a bit moving to the Skydome, but I think he'll be a better pitcher than 4.34. He'll have a 4.00 ERA next year, when he would have had a 3.50 in Oakland.
Hentgen is an interesting addition, and a little expensive as well. If J.P. waited on this, he probably could have saves 700K or something along those lines. Hentgen had a disastrous first half that was even worse than the numbers, because there are 22 effective relief innings in that 5.25 ERA. He really got his stuff back in the second half, and became the Hentgen of old. He was virtually the same inside and outside of Camden Yards, so I would ignore that. I can't call him an innings-eater, just another Riccardi gamble. He's a decent third starter, and will do a helluva lot better than Cory Lidle last year.
In case you didn't realize it, this really does mean Escobar and Lidle are both gone. Kelvim is said to be deciding between Philly and Anaheim, and should be on a team in days. Lidle might be a tiny one-year deal, my guess with the White Sox, who coveted him a year ago.
Continuing on with rumors, the Reds have finalized their list of managers to 4: Dave Miley (interim), Jerry Manuel (ex-manager), Brian Graham (Player Development guy for Pittsburgh) and John McLaren (Pinella's bench coach). My guess? Miley and Graham will be eliminated, and O'Brien's first decision will be down to Manuel and McLaren. I would urge not to go after Manuel, but it probably will be the former Manager of the Year.
And finally before I get to the OPS numbers, let me say something about a pair of shortstops. Kaz Matsui is not going to the Yankees nor the Mets, and Alex Rodriguez isn't going anywhere, much less the Mets. Matsui will go where he can play shortstop, and that is disputed with the New York teams. Ultimately, Little Matsui's decision is between Baltimore, Anaheim, Seattle, and Los Angeles. Texas is not going to trade A-Rod, and they really should stop bitching about it. John Hart ultimately has $50 million for 24 players, and A-Rod. I don't think Billy Beane would be bitching with that situation.
OK, to continue my look at OPS numbers, here are the 3-year trends for NL West players, which are a little over 30 players:
San Fran G-Men
The Airless Boys
OK, recap. Here are those precious few NL West sluggers with positive indicators:
A.J. Pierzynski- C- Giants
And that is it. Pierzynski's numbers will decline in Pac Bell, Payton will be abysmal outside of Denver, and I don't think it is possible for Loretta to top .813. So that just proves the NL West is a very old, and diminishing division. Here's some more proof, those with negative indicators:
Paul Lo Duca- C- Dodgers
Of those, expect Lo Duca, Finley, Long, and possibly Walker to really feel the heat. McGriff should be better in a hitter's park, Green could bounce back, and Walker should be more motivated after Clint Hurdle verbally tore him to shreads.
That's it for today. Pray for more trades in the next 24 hours, and send me an e-mail! I would love suggestions for articles you'd like to see, or your list of favorite baseball books. Thanks a lot!