Ten Stray Thoughts On A Friday

For many, Friday represents the end of a long work week that’s filled with heavy doses of drudging, sludging and other words that don’t actually exist but rhyme with “udging” and connote menial and tedious tasks that are ultimately distasteful. It’s my hope that at the end of such misery, at that moment in time that only occurs 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 read some random observations about baseball and contribute your own thoughts on the subjects that are broached.

So, without further ado, I present this week’s Ten Stray Thoughts On A Friday:

An Honor Befitting A King

If an entire generation of Canadians owe their interest in baseball to the Toronto Blue Jays winning back-to-back World Series Championships in the early nineties, they must also pay a vigorish to Carlos Delgado for cultivating that interest through the lean years of baseball in Toronto that followed. He was everything to baseball in this city, often the only reason to watch the Blue Jays play for more than an entire decade.

His name being included among the other Blue Jays greats on the Level Of Excellence at Rogers Centre is as overdue as it is deserved. Principled and generous, Delgado is the first person that I think of when the subject of athletes as role models is discussed. I’m thrilled, not only that King Carlos will be honored on July 21st in Toronto, but also that I’ll be able to express my gratitude and admiration in the admittedly meagre fashion of standing up and banging my hands together.

I’m sure that every team’s fan base has a player like Delgado, who was undeniably excellent and wholly appreciated by the supporters, but most likely falls short of Hall of Fame consideration. In a way, this makes honoring the player in this fashion, something for which I’m eager, a little bit more meaningful.

Nothing Competes With Hindsight

A year ago, the Los Angeles Angels bolstered their roster in challenge to the Texas Rangers with the additions of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. They committed $317 million to do it. In their first season with the two players, the Angels finished four games out of a playoff spot, and five games back of the division winners. That they were even that close had more to do with the incredible impact of Mike Trout than anything that Pujols and Wilson provided.

Today, Los Angeles General Manager Jerry Dipoto admitted that his team was essentially priced out of acquiring Zack Greinke, who is expected to become the highest paid pitcher in baseball history when he signs a free agent contract. Given concerns over the decline stage of Pujols’ career and evidence that Wilson just isn’t very good, I think I’d rather have Greinke on my team at his record breaking price than the two players with the contracts that the Angels signed last year.

Making matters even worse is that the Angels traded for Greinke mid-summer, paying the additional cost of Jean Segura, John Hellweg and Ariel Pena for an ultimately meaningless run.

While these represent missteps, it doesn’t mean that their process in pursuing these options was bad, and they will always be able to console themselves with the knowledge that they control the best player in baseball at a reduced cost for the next six seasons. So there’s that …

Rising Salaries

The average Major League Baseball salary was $3.2 million in 2012. That represents a 3.8% increase over the previous year. The Consumer Price Index in the United States indicates that the annual inflation rate currently sits at 2.2%. The difference is likely due to the minimum salary being increased by 16%, in addition to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers both dramatically increasing the average salary of players on their teams. As we see the further effects of additional cash from regional sports network agreements and national television deals, it will be interesting to see how the contracts being signed right now influence the average salary in comparison to general inflation next year.

Baseball. The. Best.

I very much like that baseball had a hand in making this happen.

Baseball. The. Worst.

The next time a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America expresses disdain for allowing Hall of Fame admittance to an accused steroid user, please feel free to remind them that their little organization has not only maintained the status of an accused child molester, it hasn’t reversed its decision to give him their highest honor.

Please read this.

Just Like A Daffodil

Michael Young has become something of a punch line in recent years. Over a dozen year career, he’s been a valuable baseball player, offering thirty wins above replacement. During that time, whether deservedly or not, he’s established a reputation for being the type of player that managers want in their clubhouse. Young, who turned 36-years-old in October, is coming off the worst season of his career, and it seems that if he wants to allow it to happen, he could be playing in a new city next season.

According to rumors, the Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies have worked out a deal that would send Young to the National League East, presumably for a little bit of salary relief on his $16 million salary. Dave Cameron of Fangraphs wrote a piece suggesting that this could be a good fit. I’m not so sure that the Phillies can expect a whole lot more production out of Young than Kevin Frandsen, who played exceptionally well at the hot corner in a brief audition last year. That, by the way, says a lot more about Young’s decline than it does about personal expectations surrounding Frandsen.

This is Young’s ISO over his career:

And here’s his batted ball data:

Young has experienced a major drop off in his power, and while that was covered up in 2011 by a high line drive rate and a correspondingly high BABIP, he didn’t manage to find the same success this past season. That being written, I still don’t think Young is the waste of space he’s often presented as.

He remains a better than average bat against left-handed pitching who can fill in at multiple positions defensively, some more adequately than others. While success against southpaws might possibly be the least marketable skill in the game of baseball, where the majority of batters hit from the right side and the majority of pitchers throw with their right arm, it’s still something.

In fact, it’s the type of luxury that would fit in well with a competitive Rangers team, assuming they can use the player in a reduced role, as opposed to allowing him to block Mike Olt. Unless there are significant savings for Texas in trading him to Philadelphia, it’s hard to understand a motivation for the move beyond eliminating a broken tool from manager Ron Washington’s carpenter’s belt.

There Are No Outfielders In Minnesota

Upon learning that the Minnesota Twins had traded Ben Revere, my first reaction was to ask who was going to play center field for the team. This is the Minnesota Twins’ depth chart:

And so, my question remains, “Who is going to play center field for the team?” And also, second base, shortstop, and right field? And also, who’s going to comprise the other half of the pitching staff?

How does this happen to a team? I remember suggesting that we shouldn’t count out the Twins at the beginning of 2012, because they missed so much time from Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer in 2011 and they made a great pick up in Josh Willingham. All those things remained true for them, and they were still awful last season. This coming year is going to be especially trying considering that the Houston Astros have a more recognizable roster.

The Cost Of Dickey

Much has been made of the New York Mets’ supposedly high asking price for R.A. Dickey, with talk of two top prospects going the other way being dismissed as a delusional fantasy, evidence that the team is going to actually extend the Cy Young Award winner or merely a typical shoot for the moon as a means of getting the discussion going. While all three of these elements might exist in some fashion, two top ten prospects doesn’t seem that outrageous to me.

Earlier in this piece, I wrote about that the Angels paid for acquiring Zack Greinke. That was for half of a season, with no potential compensatory return if he signed elsewhere in the off season. Why would the Mets ask for less than that for an entire year of Dickey, plus compensation if he doesn’t sign back with the team acquiring him?

The Texas Rangers Will Be Good Forever

I’m not much of a prospect guy. I half-heartedly follow along, but it’s unlikely that I could name more than three prospects in the Minor League system of a randomly selected Major League Baseball team. The fact that I’ve heard or read something about 80% of Baseball America’s Top Ten Prospects for the Texas Rangers likely means they’re a cinch to be named as the best system in baseball by the experts before the season begins.

Here they are:

  1. Jurickson Profar, ss
  2. Mike Olt, 3b/1b
  3. Martin Perez, lhp
  4. Leonys Martin, of
  5. Justin Grimm, rhp
  6. Luke Jackson, rhp
  7. Luis Sardinas, ss/2b
  8. Cody Buckel, rhp
  9. Jorge Alfaro, c/1b
  10. Joey Gallo, 3b

Should Of Kept Jaso

Even when push moral obligations aside, is there a legitimate explanation for the Tampa Bay Rays trading John Jaso to the Seattle Mariners for Josh Lueke last season? Once again, Tampa Bay is looking to acquire a catcher to platoon with strike zone framing extraordinaire Jose Molina, reportedly looking to acquire Devin Mesoraco from the Cincinnati Reds after a disappointing rookie campaign.

While no one would mistake Jaso for being a defensive dynamo behind the plate, the catcher put up the third highest wRC+ among players at his position last season. The only two catchers who could be called better hitters were Buster Posey and Carlos Ruiz. Jaso has been quietly phenomenal, and now with Miguel Olivo gone, and Jesus Montero seemingly destined to be a designated hitter, he’ll be the starting catcher for the Seattle Mariners next season.