Monthly archives: December 2005
January, Month of Empty Pockets!
January, month of empty pockets! let us endure this evil month, anxious as a theatrical producer's forehead.
Ah, 2005. I can't wait for the VH1 "I (Heart Symbol) the 2000s" episode on this magnificent year. Ah, redolent 2005 .good riddance.
If you were a Philly sports fan, 2005 was a wasted yearas are most, come to think of it. Our best team was on strike for half the year. 2005 started with the Eagles reaching and then losing only their second Super Bowl and ended with the team gasping for air and Terrell Owens getting the last laugh.
In baseball, the Phils highlights consisted of young players performing well after being pressed into duty. They even somehow stayed in contention until the last day of the season. Actually, it wasn't until they had played (and won) their last game that they found out that they had lost the wild card to Houston (and the Nationals PA announcer was kind enough to inform those of us in attendance as we strode, heretofore, triumphantly to our cars).
The Phils have since seemingly been passed by the Mets as they opened their coffersor at least divvied up the money they had been paying to Mo Vaughn to a new batch of free agents. And a new youth movement in Atlanta bodes well for their future. The 2006 Phils seem a solid bet for third as the Nats and Marlins worry more about stadium deals than actually on-field product (and as the Marlins cut unprecedented 70% or so from their payroll).
Amazingly the White Sox came out of nowhere to ride an up-and-down season (or rather up-up-up-down-and-up season) all the way to a World Series victory, their first championship victory since Julio Franco was a rookie or 1917, whichever was later.
In the real world (or rather the made-up world our wives have created to distract us from baseball), the year started with the president beginning his second term. What a difference a year makes. As Paul Krugman points out a year ago, "Mr. Bush [actually] made many Americans feel safe". And we all expected social security to be privatized and the Alaskan wilderness to be completed plundered by now.
A year ago, no one knew what "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job" meant. Irony, where was thy sting before 2005? It's amazing to me that we could fit everything from Tom Cruise's
Anyway, December typically has ended with some with more business of baseball matters than baseball matters. I expect such matters to take center stage as the baseball world tires of the spate of Miggy Cairo signings and World Baseball Classic reports. Baseball will start to gird its loins for what could be a protracted labor dispute at season's end. I expect increased threats of the Nationals and Marlins being contracted and/or moved unless a new stadium deal is reached.
So as 2005 ends, it might be interesting to review how past years have ended. Here are past December 31st events with a little help from Baseball Library.
You might notice that the matters changed from business being conducted among the owners prior to free agency to matters between the owners and the players:
Merry New Year. Let's just hope that 2006 doesn't join this unhappy list.
Trimming the Garland
On August 7, Jon Garland allowed one run and five hits in 7.1 innings, striking out three and walking two in a 3-1 win over the M's. He pitched so well that after allowing an RBI single to Ichiro Suzuki in the third, he retired the next 12 batters.
In the process Garland ran his record to 16-5 with a 3.29 ERA and was the AL wins leader. The White Sox ran their record to a major-league leading 72-38 and had a thirteen game lead. (By the way, their 72nd win came the day that they christened a life-size Pudge Fisk statue, and he wore number 72 for Chicago).
The last third of Garland's season was not the unalloyed success the first two-thirds had been. His next win did not come until almost a month later (Sept 4). He only won one other game and that was on the last day of the season, in a meaningless game against the Indians.
Meanwhile Chicago's seemingly insurmountable lead dwindled. On September 10th he allowed five runs on eight hits (two of which were homers) in six innings and blew a two-run lead after two innings in a 10-5 loss to the Angels (whose starter Bartolo Colon ran his record to 19-6). It was the third straight loss by the Sox just as the Indians were winning their sixth straight to close the gap to 6.5 games.
On September 21, a day on which Garland was quoted as saying, "tell them [the reporters] I didn't have it," he lost 8-0 to the Indians to trim their lead to just 2.5 games. Trailing 1-0 in the sixth, he threw a ball behind Jhonny Peralta scoring Grady Sizemore. Then after getting out of a jam in the seventh (second and third and none out), Garland allowed a three-run home run to Travis Hafner with one out in the eighth to seal it.
The White Sox were said to be fading and allusions to the '64 Phils abounded. Chicago held on to win the division as the Indians pulled their own fadeaway act. Garland pitched well in his two postseason starts (2.25 in 16 innings) including a complete-game, 5-2 win over the Angels in the pivotal game three of then-tied ALCS. But one has to wonder why he wasn't save to pitch game one of the Division Series instead of pitching the final day just to knock the Indians out of the wild card race.
Anyway, even with an 18-10 record and 3.50 ERA (27% better than the park-adjusted league average), one would have to say that the season was anything but an unqualified success for Garland. He went 2-5 with three no decisions and a 3.97 ERA down the stretch. After running his record to 8-0 with a 2.41 ERA on May 17, he was an even 10-10 with a 3.90 ERA.
At age 25 even that was a major step forward for Garland, who was coming off a 12-11 2004 season with a league average 4.89 ERA. Actually, in his previous five seasons, Garland only once had an ERA under 4.50 or better than the park-adjusted league average (both coming in 2001).
So what is to be believed the five seasons prior to 2005 in which he was largely a league average starter and the 24 starts after May 17 in which he was a slightly better than average pitcher OR the 8-0 start to the 2005?
I would offer this question rhetorically if it weren't for the ludicrous contract to which the Sox signed Garland yesterday. He will make $29M over the next three years. Now, Garland will be just 26 in 2006 and may be able to recapture his early brilliance from this past season, but for my money, I wouldn't gamble almost $10M a season for the next three years to find out, especially when the pitcher in question would not be eligible for free agency for another season. I would have traded him while his stock was high, but then again, it's not nice to disrupt the post-championship euphoria and its attendant attendance boost.
Then again, this about the umpteenthumpeen plus one-th one, to be exactcontract that has caused me to shake my head in disbelief this offseason. When was the last time you heard a mention of collusion, something that was being taken as a given by a few agents the last couple of offseasons?
Garland gets a reported $7M in 2006, $10M in 2007, and $12M in 2008. That puts him second all-time among 26-year-old pitchers in terms of salary by my calculations:
That seems a bit high to me, especially when it's the lowest of the three years in the deal.
Garland had 21 Win Shares in 2005. To put his 2006 salary in perspective, here are all the 25-year-old pitchers with at least 20 Win Shares in the free agent era. For each I have listed their salary in the subsequent season, if available:
Yes, a number of these salaries are not representative of today's market. But even compensating for inflation, could Garland be worth almost two and one-half as much as the average from this group ($7M divided by the average is 2.40)?
If you answered "Yes", you may have what it takes to be a major-league GM. Just trace the picture of Bambi and a pirate that come in the attached brochure, send it in to us, and we'll tell you if you too could enter the exciting world of baseball management (that or gun repair). Just send us $19.99 and a self-addressed, stamped envelope, wait six to eight weeks, and then (to quote the Dick Van Dyke Show) go outside and scream like a chicken!
The Twins had a rather disappointing season in 2005, losing the division crown they had owned for three seasons and falling all the way to third with an 83-79 record. The Twins revamped their lineup with a number of young players (Justin Morneau, Lew Ford, Joe Mauer, etc.). In fact, they had no starting position player over 31 (Shannon Stewart). Unfortunately, they ended up dead last in runs scored in the American League.
However, their pitching staff was very good all around. They finished with a 3.71 ERA and 118 adjusted ERA and had a good young rotation built around three 26-year-olds. They were Johan Santana, arguably the best pitcher in the AL; Kyle Lohse; and Carlos Silva.
Since being traded by the Phils with Nick Punto for Eric Milton in a deal that is true to the execrable Phils' trading history (though nowhere near as bad as the Sandberg and Jenkins deals), Silva has been one of the most surprising young starters in the AL. He won 14 games in 2004 after having started just one game in his previous major-league career. Then in an injury-plagued 2005, he posted a 3.44 ERA, good for fifth best in the AL.
He also did something that has been done just once since 1919, something that I completely overlooked until a message started floating around the SABR-L online news letter. So what did he do? Silva walked as many men (9) as games he won.
Big deal, right? Well, the poster at SABR-L wanted to know if any other starter had performed such a feat, to allow no more walks than games won. And aside from Bret Saberhagen in 1994, no starter since 1919 has appeared in at least ten games and been able to walk fewer men than the games he won (that's 10 games pitched and at least half being games started).
OK, if that doesn't float your boat. He averaged under one-half walk per nine innings pitched (actually .430). No starter has done that over a full season in over 120 years (.433 by Guy Hecker in 1882). And no one has bettered his walks per nine innings ratio in 125 years (.276 by George Bradley in 1880). The last time someone had a better walks-per-nine-innings ratio, the National League had just changed the bases on balls rule from nine to eight called balls (!).
I have not much more to add, but, "Wow." You just don't see something happen all that often in baseball that hasn't been done in 125 years. I guess that's why they haven't happened in 125 years. It sure beats Haley's comet (and destroys Frehley's Comet).
By the way, no one since 1876 has had fewer strikeouts than wins. Of course, they had not yet arrived at the three-strikes-yer-out rule. And for the truly trivia-starved, only eighteen starters have had fewer strikeout and fewer walks than wins.
All of the above is listed below in tabular form for the insomniacs in the crowd:
Saberhagen Plus One
I've seen teams try to emulate another's highly coveted staff by grabbing former members of that staff. Everyone wanted the Mets' rotation in Eighties and the Braves' in the Nineties. But why are Rangers trying to recreate the 2003 Phils' rotation, a staff with a 4.04 ERA, good for 7th in the NL that year?
The traded for the enigmatic Vicente Padilla earlier in the offseason. Now they have signed Kevin Millwood to either a 4-year, $48M or 5-year, $60M offer, depending on who you ask, to reunite the two 14-game winners from the 2003 Phils rotation. Wake me up when they sign Joe Roa.
The details of the Millwood signing are expected to be made public tomorrow after he passes a physical and takes the anti-Chan Ho Park vitamins. I hope for the Rangers' sake, that they sign him for the full five years, since that will give them better odds at getting at least two good years out of Millwood.
Millwood is sort of a David Nied on steroidsexcuse the analogya guy from the highly touted Braves coffers who has been somewhat of a disappointment. Or maybe a better comparison is Bret Saberhagen. For a long stretch of Saberhagen's career, the pitcher would alternate good and bad years, sort of like Star Trek movies ("What does god need with a starship?"Oopha!).
Millwood has produced one good season in every three since coming up with the Braves in 1997. One of the three just happened to be this past one in Cleveland, in which he posted a 2.86 ERA to lead the AL (though he was tied for second in adjusted ERA). The friggin' guy finally had the season that the Phils faithless had hoped for after wading through two years that began with a perfect game and then ran the gamut through mediocrity to just plain awful.
The problem for the Rangers is that he isn't due for another until 2008. Millwood posted a 162 adjusted ERA and won 18 games in 1999, his third year. His numbers in 2002 were 18 wins and a 127 adjusted ERA. And in 2005 though he went 9-11, his adjusted ERA was 143. That's an average adjusted ERA of 143 for those three years
Wow! He looks like a staff ace. Sign 'em up.
Oh, but wait, he pitched six other years in that stretch, and did not have an adjusted ERA better than 104 during the span. His worst was a 90 adjusted ERA in 2004 with the Phils. His average adjusted ERA was just about the league average (100) for these six seasons.
The odd thing is that most of his other ratios besides WHIP stay about the same over the span. Here are his career totals and then his stats divided into his good seasons (1999, 2002, and 2005) and the not-so-good:
I don't know about you, but I'm not paying $12M per season for two years to get the next great season from Millwood. Then again, these are the Rangers. They have to spent that $12M or so that they were handing over to Park for the last few seasons, bless them. (Are they still paying the Padres for taking Park off their hands last year?)
By the way, just to tick off Bill O'-Lie-ly, er, O'Reilly, Happy Holidays!
Oh, and for those who got the Haircut 100 reference in the headline, we salute you. Fire!
Hope Winters Eternal
Yesterday, there were a few moves that smack of, if not desperation, at least an extremely hopeful spirit brought on by the holiday season. But maybe it's insanity clause not Santa Claus that will coming down their chimneys this Festivus.
Witness: The Cardinals signed Sidney Ponson, a man whose scandal last season with the O's was eclipsed by the Rafael Palmeiro steroid circus. After a DUI arrest last August, the O's voided his ludicrous three-year, $22.5 M contract in the middle of the first year (and then said a collective, "Phew!"). He now claims that after a drying process quicker than the Waco Kid's in "Blazing Saddles", he is ready to step back into a major-league rotation. We'll see.
But I would contend that Ponson, DUI or no DUI, isn't the pitcher that I would hang a rotation spot on, or strained metaphors to that effect. The guy had a career year in 2003, and frankly even that year wasn't that great. That year, he won a career-high 17 games, a career-low 3.75 ERA, and career-high 115 Adjusted ERA (along with a 1.259 WHIP, a 5.58 strikeouts per nine innings, a 2.20 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and just 0.67 homers allowed per nine innings pitched), all respectable numbers. For a number three starter. In an average year.
OK, maybe that's a bit harsh but at best Ponson's image got a bit of boost by becoming the trade deadline sweetheart, and eventually was traded to the Giants. By the way, that was an atrocious trade for the O's after so much hoopla. They received three players, only two of which have played in the majors in the last two and one half seasons, and those two (Kurt Ainsworth and Damian Moss) went a collective 1-6 for the Orioles. Neither pitched in the majors in 2005.
But even if we concede that 2003 was the stellar year that the O's thought and apparently the Cards now thinkGM Jocketty said "We signed him based on his past career" it was, Ponson has pitched seven other seasons and has the following career numbers when we remove the 2003 stats: 59-79, 4.99 ERA, 1.470 WHIP, 5.40 K/9 IP, 1.74 K:BB ratio, and 1.25 HR/9 IP in 202 games, 191 starts, and 1,227.1 innings pitched. Those are execrable numbers.
Maybe he would be worth a spring let's-see if he did not have so much baggage as well. Who needs a guy struggling to make the tail-end of the rotation who will be a major distraction? Who needs the press hovering around a marginal player to dreg up his history? And who needs to waste between $1M and $2.5M for the privilege?
That wasn't even the oddest pickup of the day for the Cardinals. They also signed Brian Daubach, who is about four years past his expiration date and is now 34 (!). Besides, this isn't like signing an aging Eric Karros to spell your starting first baseman on occasion or to DH in an interleague game. Daubach never was that good in his heyday. He was a decent guy to threw at first, a corner outfield spot, or DH for about three years in his Red Sox career. Somehow (arbitration?) he landed a $2.325M contract with the Red Sox in 2002, and his career has been careening out of control ever since. At least they did sign him to a minor-league deal.
Finally, St. Louis also signed pitcher John Riedling to a minor-league contract yesterday. "So what?" you say?
Well, Riedling had been the highest-paid Marlin in 2005 to remain a Marlin so far this offseason. He made $750K in 2005, which tied him with Damion Easley for the 16th highest on the team (not including Paul Quantrill and Ron Villone whose 2005 salary, or at least the bulk of it, was paid by another team. Riedling had been listed on the Marlins roster when I investigated the payroll cuts over the past month. Somehow (was he non-tendered?) he became a free agent and signed with the Cards.
All 18 players who were on the Marlins roster in 2005 and who made at least as much as Riedling were already gone by yesterday. Now, the highest salary from 2005 that is still on the roster is Brian Moehler's $400K, just the 20th highest on the team, ignoring Quantrill and Villone (though Moehler re-signed for $1.5M in 2006). Lenny Harris ($425M in 2005) also re-signed, but to a minor-league deal, so he's not on the 40-man roster.
That means that that 69% of the Marlins 2005 payroll has now been jettisoned ($41,308,834 of $60,593,334 by my calculations). I estimate that after arbitration their payroll will be just $18,750,000, just $10M above the mandated league-minimum payroll ($8 M based on 25 players at $320K).
In related news two California teams traded problems. The Giants got 40-year-old Virginian Steve Finley (actually, Tennessean but there are no Steve Carrell references that I could extract from that) for flagging third baseman Edgardo Alfonzo. Talk about a lump of coal in your stocking. Both teams received a proverbial towel from Frank Cross as opposed to the VCR (yes, that was a different era).
A former star in Flushing, Alfonzo's career has been in a funk since joining the Giants three years ago. He is owed $7M from the fourth year of a $26 million, four-year deal he inked with San Fran back in 2002. He has registered Adjusted OPSs of 90, 93, and 79 in his Giant career (maybe David Bell aint so bad).
However, where I am sitting, the Giants got theer, let's say short end of the stick in the deal. Finley is owed $8M in the final year of a two-year, $14 M deal. He was awful in 2005 (73 adjusted OPS) and is nine years Alfonzo's senior. Alfonzo may bounce back but Finley, even with the switch back to the NL, is highly unlikely to do so at age 41.
Besides, Finley is expected to back up Barry Bonds in left, Randy Winn in center, and Moises Alou in right. Given that Bonds is 41 and Alou is 39, it seemed that the last thing the Giants needed to add to the outfield was more aging players.
Alfonzo has a decent shot at starting at either second or third. Both players had seemed to lose their jobs on the old teams with Pedro Feliz apparently set to take over third in San Franat age thirty already: how cautious can the Giants be?and Chone "Kruk's MVP" Figgins set to patrol center in Anaheim of Los Angeles. So basically it was a trade of big-salary players in their final contract year, who had essentially lost their jobs.
In any case, it looks like the Giants aging outfield will make history. There has never been a team who had three outfielders play at least 50 games each and who were at least 39 years old. The most was two by the '42 Braves (39-year-old Paul Waner and 41-year-old Johnny Cooney) and the 1927-28 A's (Ty Cobb, 40-41, and Zack Wheat, 39 in 1927, and Tris Speaker, 40 in 1928). However, in all three of those cases just one player started (Waner and Cobb) and the other came off the bench. The Giants are one injury to Winn away from the first 39-and-over outfield in baseball history. That's a gated outfield. All other outfielders will need to talk to the security guard to have an older outfielder buzz him in.
Then again, it's far more likely that one or more of the elder outfielders will miss time. Alou's 123 games in 2005 were the most in the trio. In any case, expect a spate of triples to rattle around the outfield in 2006 at whatever they call the ballpark in San Fran these days.
BERNSTEIN (to Leland): What's the matter?
The Yankees signed Johnny Damon to reportedly a four-year, $52 M contract yesterday, thereby filling their biggest need, a center fielder who can field and hit above the proverbial replacement level. However, as the Yankees organization unfreezes the cavemangiving him a proper haircut a la Mrs. Howell chasing members of the Beatles ripoff band, the Mosquitoes, with scissors on Gilligan's Island, shaving him, and removing the Brundlefly expectorant from his batting helmetone has to wonder how this erstwhile son of the Red Sox Nation will be received by the Yankee throng.
I guess if he can hit better than Bubba Crosby and throw better than Bernie Williams, the Yankee faithful will chant his name along with the rest of the starting lineup. However, one has to wonder with all if the identities of these two storied franchises and longtime rivals are getting rather incestuously intermingled.
I am reminded of the Star-Belly and Plain-Belly Sneetches applying and removing stars until no one knew "Whether this one was that one or that one was this one. Or which one was what one or what one was who." (and Sylvester McMonkey McBean had all their moneygod, I love Dr. Seuss).
Last year, the Red ox needed a pitcher and picked up an old Bronx favorite, Boomer Wells. The Yankees picked up former Red Sock favorite Mark Bellhorn mid-season. And Mike Stanton's entire career seems to be based on which of the two teams happens to need a lefty short reliever (and throw in the Mets as well, who have identity problems of their own with their big brother from the Bronx).
The big push for Damon seemed to be ratcheted up when the Yankees signed former Boston sinkerballer Mike Myers, and Myers called for the Damon signingas if the Yankes needed the advice.
So next year you might see Boomer Wells pitching for the Red Sox to Johnny Damon, batting for the Yankees. Odd!
This commingling of identities gets all the odder when one considers that one team is considered by many in baseball fandom as the "Evil Empire" and the other is America's sweetheart. I leave it to the reader to determine which team is which in that equation. Of course, that doesn't reflect my opinion, but it does seem to be representative of the opinion of the baseball hoi polloi .
Last year the Yankees had a whopping eight former Red Sox on their roster: Bellhorn, John Flaherty, Rey Sanchez, Tom Gordon, Paul Qauntrill, Alan Embree, Mike Stanton, and Ramiro Mendoza. The Sox had three ex-Yanks: Stanton, John Olerud, and Wells.
A total of eleven turncoats between the two rosters was more than double the number from the previous season (5) and was the highest total in over seventy years (there were 12 in 1933).
This comes after the teams had a rather austere approach to the other team's ex-players for many years. From 1983 to 1992 the two teams had more than one of the other's ex-players just once (Don Baylor and Tim Lollar on the 1986 Red Sox). And for eight of the ten years in this period, there was no more than one player between the two teams who had played for the other team previously.
So what does it all mean? It's only natural for a team to go after players whom they face often and who perform well when the do meet. Perhaps the field gets rather limited for free agents when you consider that they have the two biggest payrolls by far in baseball and both have been extremely active in acquiring players.
So maybe it's a mere byproduct of the economics of the game today, but I have to confess that I have the same reservations that Joseph Cotton had in the quote above. So many players switching sides can't be good for the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry. Many of the fans cheering Damon in my hypothetical at-bat above will probably be wearing an ever-popular Boomer Wells "Hero" T-shirt. The same goes for the Damon-toupee doffing crew at Fenway. And we thought that Red Sox fans needed therapy before?
Here are the years that the Yanks and Sox had the most cross-pollination. It's no surprise that the bulk were in the Frazee years:
Ah, the holidays. Endless checkout lines at the malls. "A Brady Family Christmas", Heat-Miser, and tender family classics about suicides and angels pepper our plasma screens. Pointless lists of stillborn thoughts aboundyou get the idea.
But while we you have visions of sugar plums foxtrotting in your brainand I ponder whose brilliant idea it was to have Christmas and Hanukah on the same friggin' dayMajor League Baseball seems to have visions of contraction pirouetting in their extremely limited gray matter.
The Marlins unloaded the last multi-million-dollar contract they had left on the roster, sending Ron Villone and his $2 M contract to the Yankees for, I believe, a personal appearance from Don Mattingly and Reggie Jackson, or maybe it was another minor-league arm, the umpteenth plus two-eth one that they have collected this offseason. Villone will be another drop in the bucket but in Miami he was the last player not getting league minimum (and last year his contract was eaten by Seattle), at least until Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera go through arbitration.
Meanwhile, Major League Baseball's version of Dick Cheney (with apologies to Cheney), Bob DuPuy, went on the offensive in DC. He said that Baseball and the D.C. area was "at a crossroads", and like Eric Clapton and Robert Johnson, DuPuy expects the entire city to fall down on their knees:
"We used our best efforts to reach closure with the Council to ensure the future of the Washington Nationals in the District of Columbia," DuPuy said in a letter addressed to Council Chairman Linda Cropp. "If the Council fails to approve the lease, we would be at a crossroads."
Hmm what could he mean by "crossroads"? Quoth DuPuy, "The Baseball Stadium Agreement (BSA) requires lease approval by the end of this month If the lease is not approved by then, the city will be in default on its contractual commitments and we will then have no choice but to prepare for arbitration."
Prepare for arbitration? What could that mean
"In arbitration, all prior concessions by MLB would be revisited." Oh, I see. Sayonara Nationals.
Not only that but DuPuy applied the screws to Washington's collective thumbs by setting them up for some sort of compensatory damages lawsuit or at least the threat thereof: "Although not required by the BSA, we agreed to do it [meet a number of demands from the DC council] and to bear the associated costs, which are substantial." The guy is the master of sleaze.
In 2002 baseball threatened to contract two teams, reportedly the Twins and then Expos, though they tried to scare as many fanbases as possible by not truly disclosing the specific teams targeted. At the end of 2006, baseball appears set to explore contracting the neo-Expos and apparently the Marlins out of existence. The Marlins are turning into the Cleveland Spiders Mach II, and the Spiders were one of the teams contracted the last time, 106 years ago--remember? The only plus I see is that the Phils can no longer finish lower than third in the revamped NL East in 2007. Though I'm being a bit selfish there.
At the risk of not just beating, but pummeling to fine pulp, I want to take one final look at the vivisection of the Florida Marlins. I've estimated that the Marlins have sliced off over $57 M of the $60 M they committed to players last season.
Of course, some of the remaining players will get salary increases given the extra year of experience. I estimated that Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera would be bumped up to about $5M each after arbitration. Brian Moehler just re-signed for $1.5M (up from $400K in 2005). All tolled, assuming that the Marlins fill in their remaining roster spots with league-minimum salaries, I estimate that they will have a team payroll of a little over $19M or almost $41M less than last year. It's also only about double the league minimum payroll ($8M based on 25 players at league minimum, $320K).
They will in effect have cut two-thirds of their payroll in one offseason. Has anything like this ever happened before? I can't imagine it.
Unfortunately, most player salaries and team payrolls were not published until about 20 years ago, and most of what we have until recently we have thanks to the late Doug Pappas. I ran the payroll numbers and here are the teams that cut 40% or more of their salary in one year (including only teams with complete payroll numbers):<.p>
Unfortunately, the Marlins are going to have a tough time topping the 2004 Rangers who cut over $48M from their payroll. Losing A-Rod helped, but he only got them halfway there. Of course, the Rangers went from one of the highest payrolls in baseball to around the league average (which was $59,304,725 in 2004). The Marlins are attempting to go from league average (actually about $5M below it) to about $10M less than any other team.
What if instead we looked at the percentage of payroll lost:
It looks like the Marlins are doing something that's never been done beforewell, at least in recent memory and if some like Connie Mack cut two-thirds of his payroll, it was never with salary numbers like these.
I repeat, this looks to be an historic season ahead for the Marlins. Whether the end game is contraction, relocation, the sale of the club, or just to extort a new stadium from the locals, I cannot say. But this team has been thoroughly disemboweled. If there are any fans left in Miami, I pity them, and that's something coming from a Phillies fan.
Fish Gutted and Fried…And Then There Were Three
I took a look at the dismemberment of the Marlins (or is it filleting?) a couple of weeks ago and found that the team had cut their payroll by about $25M from $65M to $40M.
I also looked at the high turnover on the Red Sox going into their second season after winning the World Series. One of the comments on that post asked how the Marlins would compare if we were to extend the study to a third year.
Well, given that the Crazy Marlins have unloaded everything that was not tiedor more to the point every player who was tied down, to a contractI thought it would be interesting to revisit the floundering fish.
As for the team turnover, the Marlins have just three players left from the 2003 championship team: Dontrelle Willis, Miguel Cabrera, and Nate Bump, all of whom were rookies in 2003. Since I wrote the first piece on Florida about three weeks ago they have traded away their starting second baseman for the past seven seasons Luis Castillo (who had been with the team since 1996), their veteran catcher Paul Lo Duca, and their center fielder Juan Pierre.
Miguel Cabrera is the only starting position player from this past season who is still with the team. In fact, of the ten players who had more than 134 at-bats for the team in 2005, he's the sole survivor. Willis and Jason Vargas are the only starting pitchers with at least 5 starts for the Marlins in 2005 to still call Florida their home. In the pen there is just one pitcher remaining who made at least 30 appearances in 2005 (Bump).
The Marlins have no players remaining from the 15 who made at least $1M in 2005. Their two young stars, Cabrera and Willis, could become trade bait after they go through arbitration and get what I would expect are very large salary increases. From an estimated $65M payroll in 2005, Florida has now pared $60,993,334 through trades and free agent departures. That is unbelievable. Until arbitration John Riedling with his $750 salary is the highest paid Marlin.
I wouldn't be surprised if they waived vets Ron Villone ($1,950,000 in 2005 with the M's and Marlins, paid by the M's) and Riedling. That would leave them with no player who made more than $378,500 in 2005 (Willis).
The minimum possible team payroll in 2006 would be $8M (i.e., league minimum, $320K, for all 25 players). I estimate that the Marlins 2006 salary (even with Riedling still in the fold and with the three holdovers from 2003 getting salary bumps through arbitration) being about $18M. If the Marlins complete their housekeeping, they could get below $18M.
This team has been thoroughly gutted with not so much as an "I say!" from commissioner Bud. And let's make no mistake here: this is an historic housecleaning. This is beyond anything that Connie Mack or Charlie O. Finley ever tried.
Here's an update to their team payroll by player:
(Notes: Mordecai is based on 2004. Quantrill's 2005 contract was with the Yankees. Villone's 2005 salary was paid by the Mariners.)
Having only three players remaining from a championship team three years later is the lowest total ever, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Marlins got rid of any or all of the three post arbitration. Here are the worst records of player retention for a World Series winner, three years after a championship (Keep in mind that the average for a World Series champ is about 12 players retained three years later and that the highest was 20 retained by the '86 Mets and the '51 Yankees):
The current Marlins are worse than the Charlie O. A's, the Harry Frazee Red Sox who begot a "curse", war-era championship teamshey, the are even worse than the '97 version of the team reviled for buying a championship and then cutting bait. On average these teams' winning percentage decrease by 120 points, from .626 to .506.
I expect the Marlins to be much worse than that. 120 point worse than their 2003 record (91-71, .562) would be about 72 wins. I think that's high. This team could be among the worst ever even if they decide to keep Cabrera and Willis.
Consider that the current crew of position players has just 851 games of major-league experience. Miguel Cabrera with two and one half years under his belt is by far the most experienced player. He's the only one who has played in at least 162 games, the equivalent of a major-league season and his career total (405) is nearly half the team total (851). They have just eight players with more than 20 games of major-experience. Do I smell a lineup? Here's the rundown:
Baseball has not seen as inexperienced a team as this since foundation of the rival Union Association in 1884. There are 54 teams in baseball history with less than 851 games of experience for its position players. None are from after 1884. On average they have a .396 winning percentage, which translates into a 64-98 record in a 162-game schedule. Here are the least experienced:
All 13 career games for the 1884 Brewers were contributed by catcher Cal Broughton, and all of those came in the previous season.
Here are the teams with the least experience for their position players since the inception of the AL and the start of the "modern" era. None are within 1100 games of the Marlins. This includes teams from short-lived third leagues, from the starts of the AL, and during wars, and the '06 Marlins will destroy them all:
Looking at just the teams from the last fifty years, it gets worse. Note that the closest team has about 1600 games more of experience or about 200% more:
What we are witnessing here is something that's never even been conceived before. It's the near total dismantling of a major-league team. Some of the teams on the list above are very inexperienced but that is because of a young, talented players being given a chance. Usually those players get a short trial to prove themselves and a team makes the plunge.
That's not the case here. The Marlins were a veteran club that was supposed to compete in 2005. They failed to mount a serious postseason challenge. They did not start dismantling and rebuilding during the season. The team remained essentially intact until the postseason, and then boom!
One has to wonder with the owners being allowed to contract after this season without the players say-so, what the end game is here. Of course, the Marlins are looking forand apparently not gettinga new stadium. They have also threatened to leave, and may be cutting payroll to became more attractive, at least financially.
Whatever the cause, I think we have an opportunity to witness something that will make the '62 Mets and the 2003 Tigers seem like amateurs (or is that professionals?). We're talking neo-Cleveland Spiders here. If this team does not lose 100 games, I will be shocked. If they don't break the Mets' "record" of 120, it'll be a crime. Boy, Joe Girardi is really going to miss his cushy Yankee job, if not his cushy Yankee players, by season's end.
Come and listen to a story 'bout a man named Jed....and a man named Ben
Ben Cherington and Jed Hoyer were named co-GMs of the Red Sox Monday, a little over a month after Theo Epstein walked away from the post as well as a decent chunk of change. The lack of a GM didn't deter Boston from making as many deals as possible, however.
The co-GMs rein might be a bit short-lived. There are rumors like this one in the Globe that Theo Epstein will return as some sort of advisor to the budding GMs. He'd be the Liam Neeson character to the young Obewan and Annikan, and we all know how well that turned out. Then again, the Globe is the paper that brought us the "Dewey Defeats Truman" headline that Epstein had signed a three-year deal just hours before he up and quithe did both things.
Anyway, let's assume that the GM'er Twins will be left alone to do what all GMs do, hang out and get snookered with Peter Gammons. How successful can we expect the pair to be?
It reminds me of the fantasy team in every league that starts with two equal partners joyfully approaching each facet of the game and ends with two guys who hate each other, are in last place, and call the rest of the guys in the league to complain about the other guy and delineate how things will be different next season.
They are also the guys you hate to call because no matter how sweet the deal you present is, there is always that moment of hesitation in which they consider whether to consult the other co-GM. And even when they do have the cajones to pull the trigger on a deal, you can hear the apprehension in their voice in the aftermath as they mull over how to present it to the other dude.
Who needs the aggravation?
Well, I also considered looking at something a bit more scientific and a bit, just a bit, less anecdotal. I am putting together a GM register for all teams since the dawn of time or Julio Franco's rookie year, which ever is earlier. I looked at the instances in which the job was shared among two or more men and how it turned out.
The earliest instance I could find was Charles Comiskey II and Johnny Rigney running the White Sox from 1956 to 1958. Their partnership was an outgrowth of the infighting and inbreeding among the various family members running the club after the Old Roman's death. Charles II was the original Comiskey's grandson and Rigney was the husband of his granddaughter (II's sister) Dorothy. II sued Dorothy to get her shares of stock in the club, and eventually the Sox were sold to Bill Veeck. The Sox were fairly successful under the incestuous GM tenure going 257-205 over the span. However, the would win the pennant in 1959 after Hank Greenberg, Veeck's GM, took over.
Next, Jerry Donovan and Spec Richardson were co-GMs for the bulk of the 1976 season for the Giants. It was an uneventful season, as many were for the Giants in this era. They finished 74-88. Spec become the GM thereafter but eventually relinquished the job to his old catcher Tom Haller.
Trader Jack McKeon and manager Jerry "What You Talkin' 'Bout" Coleman shared the GM job in San Diego for a week in July in 1980. After which the Padres realized how silly the idea was and handed the job to McKeon.
The Yankees had co-GMs in effect, later that season when Bill Bergesch (VP of Baseball Opeartions) and Cedric Tallis (executive VP) filled Gene Michael's shoes. This lasted until June of 1983 when Murray Cook took on the more conventional GM role. This was a particularly un-fecund period for the Yankees (229-202) and helped usher in the period over which all Yankee fans (except for the Don Mattingly parts), though I do not know how much can be planned on these two co-non-GMs.
The Phillies, however, in true second-banana style, did try the same thing in 1983 when Paul Owens stepped down from the GM chair to manage full time. Tony Siegle (VP of Baseball Opeartions) /Jim Baumer (VP & Director of Player Personnel and Scouting) at first replaced Owens. Their tenure evolved into a multi-headed beast of a committee that was "headed" (for lack of a better term) by Bill Giles, the genius who brought us Rocket Man.
This conglomeration brought about something even worse, the Ryne Sandberg trade, which Baumer vehemently opposed but which passed by some sort of committee vote. They also brought together a remarkable number of white, thin guys to play for the teamthink Randy Ready. Woody Woodward was named GM of the Phils for the 1988 season ending this arrangement but was fired in the first week of June. Welcome to Philadelphia. Again this little arrangement ushered in an era of frustration (or phrustration) after the best period in franchise history.
Next up is probably the worst pairing in the group, Whitey Herzog and Dan O'Brien in Anaheim. This is complicated. O'Brien was named to fill in for Mike Port who was fired April 30, 1991. His title was VP of Baseball Operations, however. On September 6, Herzog was hired as Sr. VP & Director of Player Personnel. For the next two years, both and neither was the GM. It was dubbed "an experiment in hell".
There are famous stories involving O'Brien's moves getting under Herzog's skin including signing a moribund Alvin Davis without consulting Whitey and trading for the wrong Patterson (Ken, not Bob) in 1993. Herzog took over solo but then lasted about four months before he quit. Their co-tenure led to a 143-181 record.
The last co-GM-ship was by Mike Flanagan and Jim Beattie in Baltimore over the past three seasons, during which the O's failed to break .500. Again one GM (Flanagan) prevailed in the long run.
So what can we expect from the latest dynamic duo? We can expect the situation to be short-lived, two or three seasons at the most, probably much less. We can expect that one will prevail over the other and retain the title minus the "co" prefix while the other becomes a GM in your rotisserie league. They could have their fair share of success, but for some reason (do the dueling GMs ignore the minor-system for quick though more short-term fixes), they tend to be harbinger of bad times ahead for the team.
Of course, Larry Lucchino and his ego (his personal co-executive) will probably help egg these two on to failure. (Where's Grady Little anyway?) And he may have Theo back to help.
I am left wondering why most of America hates the Yankees when these pinheads can't even pick a GM without creating a soap opera.
The Phils today divested themselves of Vicente Padilla and the Flotilla he rode in on, trading their one-time All-Star pitcher to the pitching strapped Rangers for the proverbial player Toby Named-Later. Apparently, Padilla was let go because of a general malaise and, oh yeah, he made $3.2M last year and is due for arbitration.
The Phils don't have many more option than do the Rangers, truthfully. They have Brett Myers, who is coming off a breakout season (122 Adjusted ERA) though he had 4.32 ERA in the second half.
John Lieber was okay (108 Adjusted ERA and 17 wins) and was very good in the second half (3.28 ERA and 9 wins).
Corey Lidle was good in the first half (3.65 ERA) but awful in the second half (6.03 ERA).
Next there's the oft-injured Randy Wolf, the only potential lefty in the rotation, who after three disappointing seasons is basically a big question mark.
Finally, there are youngsters Robinson Tejeda and Eude Brito, who were unexpected successes in limited trials this past season (Tejeda was 8-14 with 5.15 ERA in Double-A in 2004; Brito had a 4.85 ERA in Triple-A before the callup) , and former hot prospect Gavin Floyd, who was a major disappointment last year (6-9 and 6.16 ERA in Triple-A and 1-2 with a 10.04 ERA with the Phils).
There doesn't seem to be a real number one among the lot, just a bunch of maybes. Maybe Myers turned a corner. Maybe Lieber will continue his second half success. Maybe Lidle can overcome his horrific second half. Maybe Randy Wolf can be healthy for a full season and maybe he will again draw comparisons to Tom Glavine (when that was a good thing). Maybe Tejeda and Brito are for real. And maybe Floyd will fulfill the promise the franchise once saw in him.
Then again, maybe not. An unhappy scenario is just as likely if not more likely in each scenario.
Padilla was a blight in the Phils rotation for throughout the first half (6.27 ERA, 4-8), but turned the corner just when the Phillies started to notice. He was a respectable 3.63, 5-4 in the second half.
So what's the end result? Does it make sense to weed a bit of the mediocrity by trading Padilla? Sure. Keep it coming. The Phils rotation problems over the last few years stemmed from an overabundance of mediocrity.
But what's the plan? Is there a plan? Does getting rid of Padilla get the Phils any closer to a real rotation? I don't think so. They need to add to the top of the rotation, not skim from the bottom.
The end result one fewer question mark in the rotation and a few million dollars freed up to sign who? More overprice marginal playerstheir trend this offseason. Jim Mecir AND Dan Miceli are still available after all.
Generalissimo Julio Franco is Still Playing
The Mets, a team that once had two Bobby Jones on its roster (Bobby M. and Bobby J. in 2000, not the defensive specialist from the Sixers though), apparently makes its roster moves as if playing Monopoly. Now the are locking up 47-year-old Julio Franco a year after losing then 43-year-old John Franco. Next, they will re-sign Matt Franco and will start building hotels on their heads.
Franco is so old that he was part of the Fergie Jenkins deal in Sixties (actually, the five-for-one Von Hayes trade but the facts were changed for comedic effect.) However, it is well established that the man keeps himself in tremendous physical condition, but $2.2 M? And a two-year contract, yet? And I thought the B.J. Ryan signing was ludicrous, though it did give added nuance to the connotation for his chosen nickname.
Apparently, Omar Minaya, the Mets GM, was a former minor-league teammate of Franco's or maybe his mentor, and remember that Franco apprenticed at the knee of Alexander Joy Cartwrightget it? He's old! (These are the jokes, folks.)
Can Franco be effective as he approaches fifty? Well, what he did last season was without precedent, so who knows? I don't think I would pay that much to find out, however.
In 2005, Franco played 108 games and maintained a respectable 105 adjusted OPS. No other 46-year-old ever played more than 63 games, No other 46-year-old position player ever played more than 8 games, and none have played in a single game since 1926. Here are all the 46-year-old major-leaguers:
As for players over 46, no one has played over 100 games in total, let alone in a single season. The most were by pitchers, with Jack Quinn's 95 games leading the pack. The only position player to play multiple games in the field past age 46 was Arlie Latham, who played 2 games at age 49 at second base (and four in total).
Here are the most career games after age 46:
Now, here's the breakdown by season. The most games by a player over 46 was 53 by Hoyt Wilhelm in 1970:
Note that there have been just 261 games in total played by men after the age of 46. Franco potentially will double with his new Met contract, if he can 130 games a season in New York. Whatever happens, it can't be a worse deal than the Mo Vaughn signing.
Red Sox Becoming Marlins-esque
The Red Sox traded Edgar Renteria to the Braves today for third base prospect Andy Marte. In the process they have basically overhauled their entire starting infield. They now have newcomers Mark Loretta (2B) and Mike Lowell (3B) plus two players to be named later at short (Alex Cora?) and first (Roberto Petagine or David Ortiz?).
Of the players on the current Red Sox roster, only 11 wore the Boston uni two years ago when they won the World Series. Two of those are Abe Alvarez and Lenny DiNardo, pitchers who are long shots to make the opening day roster. The rest are Jason Varitek, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis, Trot Nixon, Curt Schilling, Tim Wakefield, Keith Foulke, and Mike Timlin. And there are rumors that Foulke and Ramirezaren't there always?won't be on the team by opening day.
There were 50 men on the Red Sox in 2004. That's at best a 22% retention rate two years after winning a crown, which seems a bit low to me.
Let's see how it compares I ran the numbers for all World Series champs. Here are the ten lowest assuming that all 11 Sox make (or at least play for) the team this year:
Wow, the 2004 Sox are already the third lowest and would drop to second lowest if they lose just one more of the remaining eleven by opening day, a likely event. Of course, no matter how many they lose a Red Sox team will have the lowest retention rate. Since the 1918 team (of course) is number one now. If the current Sox lose two players, they wrest the crown away from their forebears.
By the way, here are the teams that retained the highest percentage of players two years after a World Series crown:
The 1917 White Sox and the 1907 Cubs? I think we all know how these guys turned out (the Cubs started their current ring-less, Bartman-filled streak two years later and the White Sox's high retention rate perhaps led to too much comradery two years laterget my drift? Nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more?)
Maybe player turnover isn't such a bad thing after all.(by the way, the average retention rate two years later is 48% on the nose.)
Kevin Towers Loses All-Star in Drunken Game of "Mouse Trap"
In a farcical tale of drunken debauchery and plastic mouse game pieces, the San Diego Padres shipped former All-star second baseman Mark Loretta to the Red Sox for career backup catcher Doug Mirabelli for no apparent reason.
It seems that old buds Padres GM Kevin Towers and Red Sox Sith Lord Larry Lucchino spent a night watching "I Love the 80s 3-D", playing board games, and imbibing Peach Schnapps in Towers' basement.
Said a recuperating Towers the next morning amid hiccups and the pops of little cartoon bubbles:
Of course this is not true, but makes a whole lot more sense than reality.
Loretta had an off year in 2005 but was coming off two monsters seasons. In 2004, he was arguably the best second baseman in the game. Also, he spent the first half of the 2005 season on the DL with a torn ligament in his left thumb. He made $2.75M in 2005 and had a $3.25M 2006 option automatically kick in after 293 plate appearances. He then becomes a free agent.
So was it because his contract is up next year? Was it because $3M is too much to pay even though the Padres re-signed 38-year-old, now so-so closer Trevor Hoffman to a $23.5, two-year deal and had saved by re-signing their best player (Brian Giles) just $30M over three years? Was it because his shoes were too tight? Oops, that's the Grinch.
The Padres are apparently concerned that they won't be able to re-sign catcher Ramon Hernandez. So Mirabelli might split time with Miguel Olivo. Besides they just signed the estimable Geoff Blum and have Bobby Hill and Eric Young on the bench (though Blum was supposed to spell free agent Joe Randa at thirdheck, he can play both positions).
Would you rather have Loretta and Olivo or Hill and Mirabelli? I'd rather have the lion eat the bear as the old adage goes.
Meanwhile, the welfare state that is the Boston Red Sox goes on unabated. One has to wonder now that former Bud Selig compadre Sandy Alderson is running the Padres. Bud has a soft spothis headfor the Sox. Be it plundering a Japanese for itinerate first basemen (Millar), trying to make players accept less money (the aborted A-Rod deal), extending trade deadlines (Schilling), or laundering players via his own personal baseball team/slush fund (Floyd), nothing is out of the question when it comes to his pal John Henry. Heck, he jury-rigged the process so that Henry could lowball a charity in order to get the Sox in the first place. So why not call in a favor with his old bud, Sandy?
Then again, the Towers-Lucchino deal smells of incestuous cronyism, too. Who wouldn't like to help out his boss when he is trying to prove that his former GM (Theo Epstein, in case you forgot) had nothing to do with the team's success? It's trés Scooter Libby.
OK, you're not into conspiracy theories? Maybe drunken debauchery is preferable to gross negligence in allowing oneself to be fleeced by one's former mentor. I'll go back to my original story.
J.P. Puts Jays in Alphabet Soup
What's next, C.J. Nitkowski signed to a $100M contract? Or D.J. Carrasco? Maybe J.J. Putz? T.J. Tucker?
Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi has apparently become so enamored of his new motif based on J-named players, that he is willing to invest Yankee-type dollars in any player who has the highly desirable initial in his name. It's no wonder A.J. Hinch declined a minor-league assigned with the Phils to become a free agent.
After the highly dubious B.J. Ryan signing, next comes the A.J. Burnett acquisition. Five years, $55M. Jay-sus!
Yes, Burnett is a good pitcher. But affectionately labeled A.J. Burnout, he is unfortunately not a hale and hearty pitcher. He has eclipsed the 200-inning mark just twice in his seven-year career. He's never won more than 12 games in a year (yeah, I know), had an ERA under 3.30 or an adjusted ERA better than 23 percent above the league average.
He's been good but not great. And in the five years since he broke into the Marlins rotationremember he just signed a five-year dealhe has started 30 or more games just once and started fewer than 20 games twice. And this was when he was between 24 and 28 (inclusive) years old. I can't imagine he'll improve from age 29 to 33.
Consider as well that the Jays have devoted $12.7 M to Roy Halladay (who at least agreed to change his name to R.J.). And Halladay does pitch well enough to deserve the money. Give Ricciardi a breakit was before he landed on the J motif.
Perhaps the worst Jay (or is it J?) signing was re-signing Ricciardi to a three-year contract. Why can't these saber-GMs actually employ sabermetrics on some level nowadays?
Anyway, the J.'s now become the fifth team in baseball history to pay that much for three pitchers ($12 M, $11 M, and $9 M, if we assume that the two new deals are spread evenly among the length of the contract). Andsurprise! at least one of those teams was NOT the Yankees:
It must be A.J. Pierzynski envy after his Herculean effort in the playoffs for the Chisox. The new plan must be to win via controversial play.
As my hopes for decent GM in Philly were being dashed and my disenchantment for Pat Gillick grew at the end of last week, a rumor was circulating that the Phils were shipping Bobby Abreu to the Red Sox for Manny Ramirez.
The enlightened fans in Philly responded in kind. Of course, they supported the man who has been the best player in town since probably Mike Schmidt, right? I mean, it is an intriguing deal, two of the better players in the game still in t heir prime each with a hefty price tag attached. It makes for nice reading during Hot Stove time, but we've got to support our guys, right?
Ah, no. They reacted as if the Abreu was the T.O. of the Philly baseball nine (by the way, has anyone notice that the 1-2 since they cut Owens and our losing to the Seahawks 35-0 at the half as one can literally see them passing the mantle of NFC champ to other puky green team).
Witness this bit of drivel in the free rag called the Metro, whose international syndication makes USA Today's McPaper seem downright provincial. They know the right buttons to get the local yokels all frothy:
I include the estimable Mr. Ranaan's email in case you want to drop him a little love-gram. This appeared in the December 4 edition of the Metro, right next to an item on the Phils signing 34-year-old Sal Fasano to back up Mike Lieberthal, who'll be 34 this summer. I guess at least he's five years younger than the old backup, Todd Pratt. It would be nice to actually have someone back up our aging catcher who'll still be in the game the next time they replace their GM.
Fasano is the second free agent they have signed who had been out of the majors for the previous two seasons, reliever Julio Santana being the other. Indeed Gillick is doing his darnedest to lock up as much replacement-level talent as he can even before the first snowfall of the offseason. Fasano had 11 homers and a 111 OPS+ in 2005 but should one trust his 160 at-bats this past year or his previous seven years and 669 at-bats of pure suckage? Santana did have 49 Ks in 42 innings, but his 4.50 was 6% worse than the park-adjusted league average. Abraham O. Nunez, the apparent heir apparent at third as David Bell slowly dissolves into oblivion (or Kansas City, whichever is worse) in the final year of his ill-conceived contract, had a career year this past season and still had an OPS that was 16% worse than the park-adjusted league-average. Wherefore art thou, Charlie Hayes?
These are the types of players you invite to camp as an afterthought, as a contingency plan, as a non-roster invitee, as a celebrity photo-op (if they were once Magnum P.I. or a chubby country singer). They are not the ones that you sign a month after the World Series right at the start of a new GM's term.
And yet that is the direction in which the Phils are headed, while the press fulminates over Abreu's Gold Glove award. It's a wonderful thing being a sportsfan in a second-class (or is it fifth-class?0 sports city. And Abreu remains on the trading block
Anyway, if the Abreu-Ramirez trade had gone through, I believe it would have been the biggest two-man trade of all time. Abreu has 230 career Win Shares and Ramirez, 310. There has been only one other trade involving a 300-Win Share player and a 200-Win Share player. That was:
December 13, 1907: New York Giants trade Bill Dahlen with Frank Bowerman, George Browne, George Ferguson, and Dan McGann to the Boston Doves for Fred Tenney, Al Bridwell, and Tom Needham.
Dahlen had 372 WS at the time and Tenney had 214. Here are the only trades involving two 200-WS players:
The Yanks signed Kelly Stinnett, career backup catcher to, well, back up catcher Jorge Posadawhat else?
Stinnett is the ultimate backup catcher for Joe Torre, a man who despises backup catchers. He has never played over 92 games in a season in his twelve years in the bigs, and the year he did play 92 games was with expansion Diamondbacks in their inaugural season. He has played an average of slightly over 55 games a year.
What a great excuse for Torre to run Posada into the ground by September '06!
Oh well. But it did make me wonder if his record of utility futility was unique in baseball history. Could someone have played at least a dozen seasons and appeared in fewer games let's see
As it turns out there are a few whose tuckuses collected even more splinters than Stinnett. Most were career backup catchers. Actually, it's quite an impressive collection of them:
And Moe Berg is the icing on the cake.
This is my site with my opinions, but I hope that, like Irish Spring, you like it, too.
About the Toaster
Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
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