Safe to say Tuesday, December 3rd 2013 will go down as one of the weirdest and wildest off-season days in baseball history. Just a day unlike any other, or so it appears from the outside. Still a week shy of the Winter Meetings with the GM Meetings just a distant memory, a flurry of activity resulted more players and money flying around then even makes sense.
Jacoby Ellsbury is of course the big deal of the day, as well as Joe Nathan moving to the Tigers. Other than these trades, there is plenty to talk about, both good and bad in each transaction, trade, and signing. Even if it means we have these conversations with ourselves.
- Drew – So, Dexter Fowler, eh? He’s a tough nut to crack. Is he good or just a product of Coors Field? His home/road splits are pretty striking, are they not?
- Grof – I dunno, aren’t all players better at home compared to on the road? His road numbers are worse but Baseball Reference tracks splits relative to league average in those splits. Fowler’s 95+ sOPS+ (where 100 is league average on the road) is barely below-league average. Sure, his home numbers are much better but it isn’t as though he’s useless away from Coors.
- Drew – Okay, but isn’t he sort of hurt all the time? And his defense isn’t graded very well…
- Grof – Yes, his health record is a little spotty. But they’re all, um, well, at least some of them are freakish in nature, right? As for the defense, that’s a Coors Field factor as well. So much space to cover, precious few of their outfielders have ever posted positive fielding numbers.
- Drew – So is he any good or what? Why give up on him so easily?
- Grof – Because they’re the Rockies? They need pitching like the deserts need the rain. They didn’t really get much pitching in this deal but at least they can work their oft-injured outfielder even harder!
- Drew – And what of the Astros? Are they doing things now? Is this the beginning of the Astros Age?
- Grof – Nope. Dexter Fowler is just good enough that he might make them look better but he won’t stand in the way as they make another run at 100 losses. Trust the #process, homes.
There is a good chance Dexter Fowler gives the Astros some nice, big league level play in center field for the next year or so. Once the Astros deem George Springer ready to go at the big league level, Fowler will be on his way out of town. Maybe Jordan Lyles will figure out how to spin his curve in Colorado…or maybe he will not. The Rockies have all but given up on developing their own pitching so why not let Jeffery Luhnow and the boys in Houston take care of it?
- Drew – Heath Bell? He’s awful. Ryan Hanigan? He can’t hit. The Rays have lost their touch!
- Grof – Heath Bell was bad for a little while, you’re right. But he sort of figured things out and pitched very well for an extended period of time in 2013. Ryan Hanigan is a great defensive catcher, of which Tampa Bay now has two.
- Drew – But they really, really can’t hit. We’ve been over this before – people love Hanigan’s walk rate seem to forget how many of his walks were issued intentionally. He can’t hit, Jose Molina can’t hit. Is Tampa veering dangerously close to the stars and scrubs mentality?
- Grof – Tampa Bay makes it work. Their internal math suggests pitch framers pay their freight by squeezing extra strikes so let them continue on this way. Plus, Hanigan is going to get lots of opportunity to work on his disgusted home run reactions making his living in the AL East.
- Drew – And Bell? How many more times is the Tampa Bay magic on relievers? (I’m guessing a few.)
- Grof – Nibbly pitcher with degraded stuff meets frame-happy catchers? The hand slips into the glove and the Rays win a bunch more games than they should.
The Rays know things. They haven’t had a good hitting catcher since…John Jaso? He’s the only above-average hitter to suit up in their colors since 2010. But they keep on winning, don’t they? They’re change-up happy ways certainly benefit from the framing abilities of Jose Molina and his ilk. But to what extent? There is a chance this skill is vastly overrated, that sending up offensive liabilities will take away just as much as their game calling adds? They know, we don’t. Let’s defer for now.
The Miami Marlins sign Jarrod Saltalamacchia to a three-year deal worth $21 million
- Drew John, Buck! I didn’t see you come in. Thanks for joining us. This is a great deal for a player who is all but assuredly getting traded, right?
- Grof – Maybe not. There’s a good chance Jarrod Saltalamacchia is the starting catcher for your 2015 World Champion Miami Marlins. He’s pretty good and younger than Buck was when he signed. He’s about a league-average hitter and decent-enough behind the plate. Some team just won the World Series with him as their starter, that’s something, right?
- Drew – It’s not nothing, thought it’s closer to nothing than it is to something. This deal seems like a steal for the Marlins yet it gives Salty the opportunity to re-enter the market at 31. Not bad. He sure strikes out a lot but he has a lot of power. There’s value in that combination.
Plenty to like about this deal for the Marlins. They can easily move Saltalamacchia if the grand 2015 scheme comes down around them. Can and will, it says here.
- Drew – Seth Smith is one quarter of a good baseball players. Luke Gregorson is a good relief pitcher. This is a good deal, yes?
- Grof – Seth Smith is a great player to have a good team, though his arbitration rewards are likely to outpace his value. But he can hit. He can sort of field but mostly he hits. Too bad for the Padres they are not a good team and may never be one again. Maybe they’ll flip Seth Smith for something else down the road.
- Drew – As for the A’s bullpen…that’s really something, isn’t it?
- Grof – Yes. It is. Who needs starters? Let them go through the order twice and then just throw big armed goons at’em until the game is over. This is the future. Your aces are gone but not forgotten.
- Drew – That’s dumb. You’re dumb. This is dumb. [places sizable wager on Oakland to win the World Series]
- Grof – Just when you think you know the answers, Billy Beane changes all the questions.
Seriously. What the the A’s doing? This demands further investigation. They’re getting better, that much is clear. Getting better and taking on money and making a run at it. How very un-Oakland of them.