“Clarification on something I reported earlier. The Mariners want Ellsbury or Choo plus a starting pitcher. Not in on Napoli, but will seek RH bat.” Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports
Wendy Thurm at FanGraphs did a piece related to the additional income clubs will get from the new national media contracts and its relation to 2014 payroll obligations on their books. She states that the Mariners have $37,800,000 in current obligations for the 2014 season. She compares this to the team’s $84 million in payroll costs for both 2012 and 2013.
Meanwhile Jeff Todd at MLB Trade Rumors has analyzed all teams payroll obligations going forward after the 2014 season. He shows the Marines’ ongoing commitments to be $27.56 million in 2015, $35.86 million in 2016 and $26.86 million in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Most of the long-term money is owed to Felix. The team’s additional income from the new national media deal will be $25-$26 million a year starting next year. The income they receive from their new regional network deal with Root Sports NW will supposedly go from $45 million a year (according to Wendy Thurm) to $117 million (according to Forbes). What is not known is when the new regional payments commence. What is also not known is how the team financed its purchase of a majority interest in Root Sports NW. Did they use cash on hand, a loan, cash call on owners or are they committed to paying for part or all of it out of future income? Lacking clarity regarding these questions means that nobody outside of the team’s inner circle can realistically forecast what the team’s payroll can or should be. However with all the money off the books and the additional $25-$26 million in national media income, they should be able to commit to a payroll of $100 million or more for 2014 and significantly more than that going forward.
AL West Commentary
The Rangers re-signed Geovany Soto on Tuesday and made it clear they intend for him to be the regular catcher in 2014.
It only heightens the attraction between them and top free agent Brian McCann. After agreeing to a one-year deal worth a base of $3.05 million for Soto to be the “primary” catcher, general manager Jon Daniels outlined two options for filling the other spot. “One would be a traditional backup,” Daniels said. “Or we could have a guy who has his bat in the lineup every day in different spots. There are not a whole lot of guys out on the market that we were really interested in. You don’t want to ignore what’s there right under your nose.” Asked if the Rangers could invest significant dollars and years in the player if the role is as something more than a traditional backup, Daniels said he “wouldn’t rule that out.” That is about as close to a resounding yes as the poker-faced Daniels discloses come free-agency time.
The described situation might work perfectly for the Rangers and for McCann. If the Rangers are going to invest $75 million to $80 million over five years and surrender a draft pick for a hitter, they want to be as sure as possible that said hitter will be productive throughout the length of the contract. The best way to reduce the possibility of the hitter’s long-term productiveness: play him every day at catcher with its inherent physical risks and its heavy burdens on the back and knees.
The Rangers, however, also need a power-hitting left-handed hitter in the middle of the lineup every day. If McCann splits time for 60-70 starts behind the plate, he could get to 70-80 starts at DH. Add it up and you get at least 140 starts, a threshold McCann has never reached, but perhaps could reach with half his starts requiring just three-to-five short strolls to the batters’ box. The fit works perfectly for the Rangers. It should work well for McCann. All that’s liable to stand in the way is money. And now it’s time for the Rangers and McCann to get serious about that. —Evan Grant at the Dallas Morning News
So they said
“The young managers being hired today are all said to be ‘good with the media’ and categorized as ‘a players’ manager.’ Duh. Might as well add ‘breathing’ to the list of things they do well.” —Tom Verducci at Sports Illustrated
Mariner’s potential off-season targets
Jeff Sullivan at FanGraphs, in a post titled Masahiro Tanaka: The markets best starter, compares Japan’s current best pitcher to others like Yu Darvish, Hiroki Kuroda and Hisashi Iwakuma that have preceded him to MLB. It’s a good piece of work and well worth a read. He closes with: “Tanaka will follow his own unique path toward numbers that other people have posted before. But all Hiroki Kuroda has done since arriving in the majors is post an 85 ERA- that ranks him with guys like Jon Lester and Tim Hudson. Tanaka has Kuroda’s splitter, and he has Kuroda’s location, so there are reasons to expect him to have something like Kuroda’s success. It just so happens that Hiroki Kuroda is one of baseball’s very most underrated starting pitchers. Masahiro Tanaka probably isn’t going to fly under the same radar.”
Some free agents may be impacted somewhat because some teams are philosophically opposed to giving up draft picks and won’t consider the likes of Shin-Soo Choo, Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez, but those players are expected to make out just fine. (A couple of executives estimated Monday that Choo will wind up with a five-year deal in the range of $15 million per year). Carlos Beltran may have his market limited in a more significant way by his age and his defense—or lack thereof. Some evaluators say that his range has diminished dramatically in recent seasons—his UZR/150 ranking was the second-worst among all MLB outfielders in 2013—so the offers to him may mostly come from American League teams who could use him at DH. —Buster Olney at ESPN
Phil Hughes (RHP Yankees – Age 27): Once counted on to lead a wave of young pitching for the Yankees, Hughes and Joba Chamberlain will be departing with nary a whimper this winter. Hughes simply must find his way to a ballpark that’s move forgiving towards his flyball tendencies; he’s allowed 39 homers in 177 innings at Yankee Stadium the last two years, compared to 20 in 160 innings on the road. Given his youth and durability, he should have his pick of three-year offers to choose from, or he can gamble on a one-year deal with the hopes of getting a bigger payoff next winter. As long as his arm feels good, he should go the latter route. 2013 starts: 4-14, 5.19 ERA, 121/42 K/BB in 145 2/3 IP —Matthew Pouliot at Hardball Talk
Baseball Best Practice
“Buck Showalter of Baltimore, for instance, sees details others don’t. He is the only manager who teaches his players on first base, when a grounder is hit that brings the second baseman into the baseline for a tag-and-throw double play, to slide into the second baseman, thus breaking up a double play the same way a runner would if the fielder were at the second base bag. I have no idea why all other teams don’t do this.” —Tom Verducci at Sports Illustrated
Whether the Twins make a strong play for Korean right-hander Suk-min Yoon remains to be seen. What seems clear is that Yoon, an international free agent represented by powerful agent Scott Boras, is on their radar. “He’s got some talent,” Twins general manager Terry Ryan said recently. Mike Radcliff, Twins vice president for player personnel, added recently that the team was “fully engaged” in the Yoon process after watching him pitch numerous times in Korea and on the world stage at such events as the Olympics and the World Baseball Classic. Yoon, who would not require a posting fee, would be the youngest established starting pitcher on this year’s free-agent market, a month younger than New York Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes. However, Yoon is coming off a season in which he was plagued by shoulder woes in the wake of the WBC.
“Is it a concern? Yeah,” Radcliff said. “He would have to pass a physical. He pitched as a reliever this year,” Radcliff said. “Could he start again? We’d have to determine that before, during and after the process.”
Slightly built at 6 feet and 187 pounds, Yoon posted a 4.00 earned-run average in 87 2/3 innings and 30 appearances (13 starts) this season. He struck out 7.8 batters per nine innings while walking 2.9. In his Korea Baseball Organization MVP season of 2011, Yoon threw only 172 1/3 innings while posting a 2.45 ERA. Even Boras, in a recent interview with the New York Post, admitted Yoon’s is “not an overpowering arm,” placing his fastball in the 91-92 mph range. Yoon’s fastball was reportedly down a tick or two this season, but he makes up for that with a hard slider and an above-average changeup.
“I don’t know if he’s lost velocity,” Radcliff said. “He only throws a few batters or innings. He’s used to being a starter and going six or seven innings. He can still throw a pitch as fast as ever. The questions are his durability and stamina and innings. That’s the assessment each and every team has to make.” —Mike Berardino at the Saint Paul Pioneer Press
By The Numbers
The Dodgers became the fourth club to finish in first place after being in last place on July 1 or later and the fourth team to win a division in a season in which it was at least 12 games below .500. They were the third team to rally from at least 9 1/2 games back to win by at least 10 games. Included in the comeback was a 42-8 run, the best 50-game stretch in franchise history, beginning on June 22. At one point, the club won 15 consecutive road games — becoming the first NL team to do so since 1957 — and went unbeaten in 18 consecutive series. —Ken Gurnick at MLB.com
Over the past four years combined, there have been only 101 saves in which a reliever was asked to get six or more outs — fewer than in 2000 alone (128). From 1990 to 2012 the number of six-out saves dropped from 320 to 19. —Tom Verducci at Sports Illustrated