Ten Stray Thoughts On A Friday

For many, Friday represents the end of a long work week that was filled with heavy doses of sludging and drudging. It’s my hope that at the end of every week during the baseball season, during that point of the day on a Friday afternoon when it’s too far away from closing time to leave work early, but too late in the day to start anything new, you’ll join us here to check out some random observations and contribute your own opinions to my ten stray thoughts on a Friday.

So, without further ado:


The unanimously wonderful MLB Trade Rumors featured an article today about contract issues facing the Blue Jays ahead of next season. Likewise, yesterday at DJF, the mighty Drew Fairservice looked at the specific future of Edwin Encarnacion. On the same day, the new collective bargaining agreement, which calls for one year qualifying offers to be offered to prospective free agents by teams seeking compensation if they sign elsewhere, was released to the public.

Coincidence? I think not.

I’m wondering, if the Blue Jays don’t sign Encarnacion to an extension before he becomes eligible for free agency, would they offer him a qualifying contract to get their free agent compensation? First of all, there’s no way that he’d get a one year $12 million contract, what such a qualifying offer is likely to cost, on the open market. However, he could get a contract offer for more years on that same open market that would theoretically be more appealing than a one year deal.

My knee jerk reaction would be to not offer him a qualifying offer, but then the more I think about it, the more I like the move. Overpaying for one year of Encarnacion is far better than overpaying for multiple years from him, and putting myself in a situation where that’s the worst case scenario is exactly the type for which I’d look. It’s not as though Encarnacion at designated hitter and occasionally filling in at first base is blocking anyone. And, if he goes to another team for a multiple year contract that Toronto wasn’t willing to offer anyway, the team will collect it’s draft pick and begin its maniacal laugh.

Soft Spot

Whenever there’s news about Chris Ianetta, David Pauley or Tim Stauffer, I take a more active interest than I would if their MLB equivalents were to be mentioned. That’s entirely due to their inclusion in Jim Collins’ book The Last Best League, which I read about six years ago. At the time, I hated it. The nostalgia nonsense was overwhelming. Over time, my stance has probably softened, but not to the point where I’d recommend the book.

Nonetheless, I have those players stuck in my memory banks, and I can’t help but root for them a little bit, simply because of reading about their pre-professional baseball origins years ago.

The. Worst. Trade. Ever.

There are quite a number of worst trades ever, and I don’t think for a minute that this is the actual worst ever. It’s just that with the emergence of James McDonald as an All-Star starting pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Los Angeles Dodgers allegedly (based on my own allegations) playing over their heads, I’ve often been reminded this season of a particular deadline deal in 2010.

To The Los Angeles Dodgers:

  • Octavio Dotel
  • Cash

To the Pitsburgh Pirates:

  • James McDonald
  • Andrew Lambo

On the date of the deal, the Dodgers were 5.5 games back of the Wild Card. A month and a half later, they were 11.5 games back of their division leaders and 13 games back of the Wild Card. They turned around at dealt the recently acquired Dotel to the Colorado Rockies for a player to be named later. The Rockies at that point were only a game back of the division lead and three back of the Wild Card.

I wonder if the Dodgers will be willing to make a similar mistake this season with a sizeable lead in the National League West. For their sake, I hope not. With the true talent of the National League West being so low, all the Dodgers really need to do to make the playoffs is to play .500 baseball for the rest of the season, which is likely a more accurate record for the team they’ve assembled. If they do that, the second place San Francisco Giants would need to go 65-52 (.556 winning percentage) the rest of the way to beat them in the standings.

In other words, the Dodgers can play like the real Dodgers, and the Giants would have to play like the Cardinals to catch them. I doubt that’s going to happen.

Two Things Spotted From Today’s Photos

San Francisco Giants reliever’s bravery wasn’t highlighted enough earlier. That indeed is a Miami Marlins fan cutting Romo’s hair prior to last night’s game against his favourite team.

… and …

Yes, that most certainly is a tattoo on the side of the streaker’s torso, and it most definitely does say, “Hakuna Matata.” And yes, that picture just became even better.

Adam Jones Lessons

The most shocking thing that I learned from the Adam Jones contract extension is that in the history of baseball, he is the only player with the name Adam Jones. I also learned that people like making hyperbolic comparisons. So, to those, I’d like to humbly offer that Adam Jones is not Vernon Wells. Nor is he Matt Kemp.

If you want to find a comparison, what about looking at how the Toronto Blue Jays bought out the first four years of Alex Rios’ free agent eligibility? At the very least, the $49 million they paid for those four years in 2008 is closer to the $75 million the Orioles are paying Jones in 2012 for his first five years of free agent eligibility than the $127 million that the Blue Jays spent on Vernon Wells or the $160 million that the Los Angeles Dodgers spent on Kemp.

What concerns me is that given both players’ past performances coming into their respective deals, I think you can make a better case for spending that kind of money on Alex Rios than you can on Adam Jones. Rios was coming off a 5.0 WAR season when he signed his deal, while Jones is coming off a 2.9 WAR season in the midst of a year that projects to 5.8.

As the amount of money given in contract extensions increase, this deal isn’t likely to handicap the Orioles too horribly down the road. However, the situation that surrounds the extension (new managment, career year from talented player and a team playing way above its head) is almost a perfect storm for such a deal not to work out.

The Unwritten Rules Abide

There seemed to be a measure of disappointment this week when figurative  fireworks weren’t lit off during Cole Hamels first start against Bryce Harper and the Washington Nationals since not only hitting him with a pitch in his first plate appearance against him, but also brazenly admitting his intention to the press afterwards. However, anyone expecting retaliation probably forgot that the matter was already dealt with later in the very same game of the plunking when Jordan Zimmermann hit Hamels with a pitch.

According to the strange unspoken rules of baseball, that incident closed the matter out.

Personally, I think people really, really want there to be some sort of rivalry between the Nationals and Phillies given the proximity of their respective territories. However, it appears as though just as the Nats have gotten good, the Phillies have been terrible, thus nullifying all of our hopes and dreams.

Popular Players

Yesterday’s five most popular player profiles at Baseball Reference were:

  1. Kerry Wood
  2. Albert Pujols
  3. Alex Rodriguez
  4. Derek Jeter
  5. Justin Verlander

Over at FanGraphs, the last 24 hours has seen these player profiles visited the most:

  1. Albert Pujols
  2. Dan Haren
  3. Adam Jones
  4. Brandon Beachy
  5. Roy Halladay

Shameless Self Promotion

Have you guys subscribed to the Getting Blanked Show on YouTube yet? All the cool kids are doing it because all the cool kids want to watch our daily video show where we talk about each other and the Minnesota Twins in a derogatory manner.

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Yesterday, I wrote about something other than baseball for The Score. It’s sort of about hockey and sports broadcasting in Canada, but mainly about the use of gender stereotypes. I’d appreciate it if you gave it a read.

Special Project

I’ve started a Pinterest board for pictures of baseball bloggers. There’s no epic ambition attached to it, or anything like that. I merely thought it would be cool to have a better idea of what the writers I read and people I interact with through social media look like. If you write a baseball blog and want to be included, send me an email with your picture or a link to a picture you want used and the address of your baseball blog. I’ll happily include anyone who wants to participate.

The Chone Figgins Thing

With some recent roster shuffling in Seattle due to the return of Miguel Olivo, it was thought that maybe, finally, the team would put itself out of the Chone Figgins business. We all know how terrible Figgins has been since coming to Seattle, but did you know that since the 2010 season, there are only three Major League regulars with a negative cumulative number of wins above replacement. Over that time Figgins is tied with Adam Lind as the worst regulars in all of baseball with an entire win below replacement.

Of course, at the end of last week, Lind was surprisingly demoted to Triple A. I use the term surprising, not that the demotion itself was that unexpected, but because most people had forgotten that the awful first baseman still had options remaining.

Figgins will make $9 million this year and $8 million next year, while Lind only has $12 million remaining on his deal including this season’s salary and a team option buyout. It took far too long for the Toronto Blue Jays to do something about Lind, and it’s still taking too long for the Mariners to do something about Figgins.

The third player on that list of negative WARs over the last three seasons is Justin Smoak, also of the Seattle Mariners.