Heading out to shop on Black Friday? Be sure to check this list of the best baseball books before you do. Baseball books by Andrew Ball at Beyond the Box Score. You can find that list here.
Comment From Sam: Barring a poor spring, does James Paxton have a rotation spot to lose heading into the season?
Dave Cameron: Yeah, right now he’s pencilled in.
“If people don’t want to come to the ballpark how are you going to stop them?” —Yogi Berra
Mariner’s potential off-season targets
Any chance that the Orioles re-sign Scott Feldman? Yes, there’s a chance. I wondered whether he was in line for a four-year deal after Jason Vargas landed one in Kansas City, but I’ve talked to people who think he will accept a two-year deal with an option. The Orioles like Feldman. Some people in the organization like Vargas more, but not at four years. So, in conclusion, the Orioles are interested in retaining Feldman and he’d like to stay in Baltimore. We’ll see. Source: Roch Kubatko at MASN
The Mets likely will pass on Phil Hughes, the former Yankees starter, who, despite a 4-14 record and 5.19 ERA this past season, is in line for a multi-year deal. “Two years at $15 million isn’t out of the question considering the shortage of starters,” said a scout from a team not in on Hughes. The Angels — who play a bicycle ride away from where Hughes grew up in Orange County, Calif. — Twins, Mariners and Royals have interest in the 27-year-old right-hander, who made $7.15 million this past season. Source: George A. King III at the New York Post
You think this free-agent class is thin? Have you taken a look at next year’s class? “There are some decent arms,” said one exec. “But there’s a chance there’s going to be absolutely nothing out there on the hitter’s market.” The only three potential 2014-15 free agents who hit 30 home runs this year are David Ortiz, Alfonso Soriano and Adam Dunn, all of whom will be age 35 or older. And here are the only potential position players who had a WAR of 4.0 or better this season: Hanley Ramirez – 5.4 – Colby Rasmus – 4.8 – Ortiz – 4.4 – Russell Martin – 4.3 – Chris Denorfia – 4.3 – Brett Gardner – 4.2 “And who knows,” wondered the same exec, who expects the Dodgers to lock up Hanley, “how many of those guys will even make it onto the market?” Source: Jason Stark at ESPN [Insider needed and recommended]
Comment From SK: Should the Blue Jays look to land a starter through free agency (Ubaldo, Kazmir or Nolasco perhaps) or trade away prospects for someone like Samardzija? Wouldn’t it be better in the short and long term to sign a free agent and not further deplete the farm?
Dave Cameron: Yeah, I like a lot of the FA starters, so I’d probably go that route.
Comment From Guest: Any ideas on under the radar signing to improve the Cubs?
Dave Cameron: Roberto Hernandez. (AKA Fausto Carmona)
Comment From Shaun: What’s your prediction for Cano, team and contract?
Dave Cameron: Yankees, 8/220.
Comment From Andy: Do you think the Dodgers will wait until the end of spring training before they decide to trade either Kemp, Ethier or Crawford?
Dave Cameron: No, I think they’ll find a team to take Ethier off their hands in December.
Comment From Sleepless in Seattle: Most likely landing spot for Ellsbury? Do you see the M’s still in the mix or do they have their sights set on a dumber pastures (i.e. Cruz)?
Dave Cameron: Doesn’t sound like anyone is after him that hard, at least not from the rumors, so I could see the Cubs jumping in eventually.
Comment From victoria bc: Should buried Dodger outfielder/firstbaseman Scott Van Slyke be a trade target for the Seattle Mariners (who this week hired his father as a firstbase coach)?
Dave Cameron: Would not be surprised to see them pick him up.
Comment From sam: who do you think is more likely to live up to their contract, ellsbury or choo
Dave Cameron: Ellsbury.
One warning sign is to look at players who had a very divergent ERA and FIP, and Santana was among those with the widest gaps — only seven pitchers had a bigger gap last season. Santana’s 3.93 FIP paints him as more of a league-average pitcher. Another free agent we find with a similar profile is Bronson Arroyo. It is difficult for pitchers who don’t consistently get strikeouts to be consistently good pitchers, and that is because they are always at the mercy of their defense and the vagaries of batted balls. Santana and Arroyo aren’t necessarily bad pitchers, but they come with a lot of risk. And if you are paying them with the expectation that they will repeat their ERA from 2013, you are in for a rude awakening. Source: Paul Swydan at ESPN [Insider needed and recommended]
Baseball Best Practice
The same rule that applies to free agency at any position applies in the outfield — if you’re going to spend, spend for the top tier talent and hope for the best. —Andrew Ball at Beyond the Box Score
Comment From Noah: After signing a bargain in Chris Young, what do you think the Mets will do next in free agency? Continue signing low cost low risk players are try to make a big splash?
Dave Cameron: What’s the point of a “big splash”? Sign players who make your team better for prices that don’t stop you from making other upgrades. Value is value, and that’s what you’re after.
Comment From Adam: Also, can you remind fans in general that they literally shouldn’t worry about contract fees/luxury taxes/any form of money lost by ownership investing in the team? Why does everyone suddenly care about their owners’ own finances as if it will hogtie them in any way?
Dave Cameron: I suggest you Google the phrase “opportunity cost”. It has nothing to do with caring about the owner’s finances, it has everything to do with allocating the resources available in the best way possible. If you sign one free agent, you’re in essence trading another free agent who would have taken that same contract for the player you signed. Just look at it as a trade and stop thinking that it has anything to do with ownership profits.
MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) still don’t have an agreement on a new posting system but agreed to continue discussions in a conference call early next week. According to Nobuhisa Ito, Law Director of NPB, “there was no agreement,“ he stated, but he confirmed that they will continue to talk.” Sources: Dylan Hernandez at the LA Times and Kyodo News
The new spending rules don’t apply to international professional baseball players after a certain age and experience level. That means that MLB teams are free to spend whatever the market allows on players from the Asian pro leagues and talents that come over from the Cuban professional league, so long as they meet the requirements (generally put, players must be over 23 years old and have spent at least 3-to-5 years in the Japanese, Taiwanese, Korean, or Cuban leagues to qualify).
The Asian leagues, including Nippon Professional Baseball and the Korean Baseball Organization, have long had measures in place to discourage young talent from leaving for America before paying their dues and making money for the owners of the local teams. In Japan, the NPB has the famous posting system that required the Texas Rangers to cough up more than $50 million in exchange for the right to even talk to ace starting pitcher Yu Darvish (a system that’s currently up in the air this offseason as MLB angles for more favorable bidding terms). Meanwhile, the KBO has no compunctions about coming down with hard sanctions if the league’s perceived right to the best years of their young talent is abridged — something the Baltimore Orioles found out when they tried to sign then-17 year old pitcher Seong-Min Kim to a contract in early 2012. They found themselves banned from scouting in South Korea indefinitely, and Kim was banned from playing baseball in South Korea for life.
By The Numbers
From 1981-86, Tim Raines stole 454 bases with a 87% success rate. He stole 70+ every year, including 1981, when he played just 88 games. Source: YCPB You Can’t Predict Baseball
Even though he’s only 30, Miguel Cabrera has already finished in the top five of seven MVP votes. Source: ESPN [Insider needed and recommended]
Comment From Kyle: Would it be crazy for a team to go into next year with Mike Carp as their starting 1B?
Dave Cameron: A team? No. The Red Sox? Yes