Archive for December, 2009

Mets Go Shopping In The Bargain Bin Again, Sign Kelvim Escobar

December 26, 2009

Update: Escobar’s deal is for $1.25 million. Escobar can make an additional $125,000 for making the team. an additional $2 million based on the number of games pitched, and an additional $1 million based on the number of games finished in 2010.

Original Post

The New York Mets signed a player on Christmas Eve, but it wasn’t the type of present Mets fans were expecting. Mets fans were hoping for a Jason Bay or Matt Holliday under their tree.

Instead they got a low-risk, high-reward signing.

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Mets have signed RHP Kelvim Escobar to a one-year, major league deal. No terms of the deal have been disclosed as of yet.

The Mets signed Escobar

Escobar has pitched a grand total of five innings over the last two years, but Mets’ GM Omar Minaya felt that was good enough to give Escobar a major league deal. I am not sure why Minaya would give him a major league deal and not a minor league deal, but I don’t understand a lot of things Minaya does.

Escobar has missed the last two years because of a shoulder injury. Before that, he was a very effective starter for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim–for one year at least.

In his last healthy season with the Angels, Escobar went 18-7 with a very respectable 3.40 ERA. The 18 wins was good for sixth in the American League that year.

However, the Mets will not be asking Escobar to start, they will be asking him to come out of the pen. The Mets are hoping Escobar can compete with recently signed Japanese import Ryota Igarashi to be the eighth inning set-up man for closer Francisco Rodriguez.

Escobar does have experience coming out of the pen as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2002. However, despite having 38 saves that year, Escobar had a very mediocre 4.27 ERA and WHIP of 1.53.

I really have my doubts as to whether or not Escobar can step in and be an effective set-up man right off the bat. For a pitcher not to have pitched in two years against major league talent and be expected to come in during a pressure situation on the first day is a lot to ask.

My guess is Escobar ends up pitching the sixth or seventh inning and Bobby Parnell ends up being the bridge to Rodriguez.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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The “Duke Of Hurl” Returns To Oakland

December 26, 2009

The Oakland A’s bolstered their rotation on Thursday by bringing back one of their own.

According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle the A’s have signed RHP Justin Duchscherer to a one-year, $2 million contract. Duchscherer can make an additional $3.5 million if he reaches certain incentives.

Duchscherer is returning to Oakland

Good signing by the A’s.

Duchscherer was an All Star in 2008 going 10-8 with a 2.54 ERA and a ridiculous 0.99 WHIP in 22 starts for the A’s. It was the first time in Duchscherer’s major league career he was a full-time starter and it looked like he was going to make a successful transition from reliever to starter.

But 2009 proved to be a disaster of a season for the “Duke of Hurl.”

Duchscherer was experiencing discomfort in his elbow during spring training and eventually had to undergo elbow surgery. He was expected back in late June or early August.

However, after making a couple of rehab starts, Duchscherer was shut down for the season because of a non-baseball related issue. Duchscherer was shut down because he was diagnosed with clinical depression.

Duchscherer is healthy now both physically and mentally. For $2 million plus incentives, this was well worth the risk for the A’s.

The A’s have a very young rotation and Duchscherer should fit in nicely between Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, and Dallas Braden.

The A’s have the makings a very good starting rotation and bullpen, but really need to find some offense in order to compete in the much improved AL West.

They recently signed Coco Crisp, but he is not nearly enough to improve an A’s offense that finished ninth in the American League in runs scored. The A’s have been looking at 3B Adrian Beltre recently and he would be a good start in improving the offense.

Duchscherer is a two-time All Star and has a career 3.14 ERA in seven major league seasons with the A’s and Texas Rangers.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Chan Ho Park Wants To Get Paid

December 26, 2009

There have been a lot of bizarre stories in baseball this year, but this one might take the cake.

Chan Ho Park is a free agent this offseason and wants to get paid. But he doesn’t want to get paid by a team first–he wants to get paid by a former teammate.

In a story released by the Associated Press, Park is suing former Los Angeles Dodger teammate Chad Kreuter for failing to fully pay off an unpaid loan.

The suit claims Park loaned Kreuter $460,000 in October 2005 to be repaid a year later with interest. Park alleges Kreuter paid back $290,000 in April 2007 and the unpaid balance has grown, with interest, to $281,869.73 as of Dec. 1.

This is so great on so many levels.

First, according to Baseball-Reference.com, Kreuter made over $8 million in his career, so why on earth is he borrowing $460,000 from Park? And why $460,000? Seems like such an odd figure to me.

Second, how can we get this settled on the People’s Court? That would easily be the most watched episode in the long history of the show.

Two ballplayers going at it–one barely speaks English–and the other is a guy from California. Who wouldn’t watch just to hear Park try to defend himself. That would be high comedy.

I will definitely be updating this story once more information comes out.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Merry Christmas Everyone!

December 25, 2009

No posts today. I will talk about the Kelvim Escobar and Justin Duchscherer signings and the bizarre Chan Ho Park story tomorrow.

I just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holidays!

Enjoy your day everyone!

Nationals Find A New Closer, Sign Matt Capps

December 24, 2009

Last week I wrote a post titled “Brian Bruney Strikes Fantasy Gold.” The reasoning behind the post was that with no other options in Washington, it looked like Bruney would become the Nationals’ closer in 2010.

Whoops!

That’s what the kids call these days as “Jumping the gun.” Bruney’s reign as closer in Washington lasted maybe two weeks.

According to Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com, the Nationals have signed former Pittsburgh Pirates closer Matt Capps to a one-year, $3.5 million contract. Capps can earn another $425,000 based on the number of games finished.

Capps is the new closer in DC

So far this offseason, the Nationals have added a solid starter in Jason Marquis, an eighth inning set-up man in Bruney, and now their closer in Capps. I won’t mention the Ivan Rodriguez signing because that was a terrible move.

But overall, the Nationals have had a very active and productive offseason. The Capps signing was a good move for both clubs for a couple of reasons.

For Capps, he had offers from the Chicago Cubs and the New York Mets, but chose the Nationals because they give him the best shot to be a closer and to re-establish his value for next offseason.

After having solid 2007 and 2008 seasons, Capps really fell off in 2009. Capps had a 5.80 ERA and registered the highest BB/9 rate of his career (2.8/9).

He also registered the highest K/9 of his career as well (7.6/9). Perhaps Capps just needs a change of scenery. The Nationals will give Capps that change of scenery in 2010.
For the Nationals, this is another move to help try to improve upon a disastrous bullpen in 2009. I don’t mind a rebuilding team signing veteran players as long as A. It doesn’t block a prospect from getting a shot and B. the contract doesn’t become an albatross in the future.
The Capps signing doesn’t do either.
Capps will not block Drew Storen’s development as the closer of the future and Capps only signed a one-year deal. No harm, no foul.
Plus, if Capps does have a bounce back year, the Nationals could always trade him for prospects in July or August. Contending teams always are looking for bullpen help down the stretch.
Capps will be 27-years-old next year and has a career 3.61 ERA in five seasons with the Pirates.
You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Coco Crisp Heads To Oakland

December 24, 2009

If you need any further proof that baseball is making a dramatic shift from building a team with slugging DH-types to pitching and defense, all you need to do is look into what the A’s are doing in Oakland.

As we all know, A’s GM Billy Beane was the focal point of the book Moneyball. The “Moneyball” philosophy was to build a team around sluggers, who walked a lot and of course, hit for power. Speed and defense was not part of the equation.

Now that is all changing. Beane is building a team in Oakland that is becoming–in a word–athletic.

Crisp will be throwing punches for the A's in 2010

Recent case in point–the signing of OF Coco Crisp. Yesterday, the A’s signed Crisp to a one-year, $4.75 million contract. There is also a club option for $5.75 million for 2011.

Crisp, along with speedster Rajai Davis and Ryan Sweeney should give the A’s a very athletic outfield in 2010.

I had the opportunity to watch Crisp play every day as a member of the Boston Red Sox from 2006-2008 and I really felt sorry for the guy.

Crisp looked like a breakout star in 2005 when he hit .300 with 16 home runs and 15 stolen bases with the Cleveland Indians. Crisp really started to look like a breakout star when he got off to a great start in Boston hitting .333 in April.

Then Crisp broke his finger and it was all down hill from there.

Crisp never recovered from that broken finger in Boston and he never lived up to expectations. Jacoby Ellsbury started to emerge as the center fielder of the future in Boston and Crisp was shipped off to Kansas City for reliever Ramon Ramirez.

Crisp’s one year stay in Kansas City was uneventful as best. Crisp played in only 49 games for the Royals hitting a pedestrian .226. His season was cut short when a shoulder injury ended his season.

Crisp is healthy now and should be the A’s starting center fielder in 2010 with Davis moving to left. Scott Hairston will either move to the bench or be traded. There doesn’t seem to be a spot for him on the A’s roster right now.

Crisp will be 31 next year and has a lifetime .277 average with 137 stolen bases in eight major league seasons

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Angels Miss In The Bullpen Again, Sign Fernando Rodney

December 23, 2009

In my opinion there are five divisions for closers.

There is the Dennis Eckersley division which is your very top-tier closers like Mariano Rivera and Joe Nathan.

There is the Tom Henke division which are just under the top-tier closers, but are very solid like Francisco Cordero.

There is the Jeff Montgomery division which are your no frills and no thrills closers, but usually get the job done like Huston Street.

There is the Armando Benitez division for closers who will put you through the ringer and are much suited to be eighth inning guys like Carlos Marmol.

Lastly, there is the Al Reyes division which are for closers who are thrust into the closer job because the team they are playing for has no other options. They become the closer by default like Fernando Rodney.

Lets stick with Rodney here for a second shall we?

I have never been a fan of Rodney. I don’t know the guy personally, but it really comes down to the fact that I have never thought he was good pitcher.

Rodney doesn't make the Angels better

Last year, Rodney moved into the Al Reyes division of closers because the Detroit Tigers really had no other options going into the season. Their best option other than Rodney was Brandon Lyon and as we all know, he can’t close.

Rodney was able to rack up 37 saves, but posted his usually mediocre ERA in the mid-four’s (4.40 to be exact). Over the last three years, Rodney’s ERA is 4.48, which is nothing special.

However, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim thought Rodney was special today. The Angels signed Rodney today to a two-year, $11 million contract.

You know in football when they say if you have two quarterbacks going into training camp, you really have none? Well, the Angels have two closers now going into spring training, but really have none.

The Angels now have Rodney and Brian Fuentes at the back-end of their bullpen and neither of them should be closing games on a World Series contending team. Rodney doesn’t solve the Angels’ bullpen problems–he adds to it.

Just because a guy racks up a lot of saves, doesn’t make him a good pitcher. If the Angels wanted to bring in a mediocre right-handed reliever, they would have been better off signing D.J Carrasco or Seth McClung.

Either of those pitchers would have cost the Angels less money.

And is one more thing I learned about Rodney today. He is 32-years-old! I had no idea he was that old. His age makes this signing even worse for the Angels.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Baseball, Umpires Come Together On A Contract

December 23, 2009

Trying to avoid a situation like in 1999 where 22 umpires lost their jobs, baseball and the umpires union came together on a labor agreement yesterday.

According to the Associated Press, Major League Baseball and the umpires union agreed on a five-year contract that will run through December 2014. The old deal expired on December 31st.

One of the main sticking points of this deal was that baseball wanted more flexibility in assigning umpires during the postseason, and in expanding instant replay.

Under the old agreement an umpire couldn’t work the World Series if he had already worked one of the League Championship Series. That literally makes no sense.

Major League Baseball should put out the best umpires for every playoff series–no matter what. It makes no sense that perhaps the best umpire could only work the ALCS, but not the World Series. If he is the best, then he should be umpiring the most important games of the season.

As far as expanding instant replay, I have my doubts about that. I just think baseball is opening up pandora’s box with expanding instant replay to safe/out calls or fair/foul calls.

Baseball using instant replay on safe/out calls would be like hockey using instant replay to see whether or not the puck left the offensive zone. It would just cause major problems.

Instant replay really works in the NFL because if a coach is wrong with his challenge, his team loses a time-out. As we all know, time outs are very valuable to a coach in the NFL.

What happens in baseball when a manager is wrong about a safe or out call? What can baseball take away that would be hurtful to a manager? That answer to that question is–I have no idea.

If baseball starts taking away balls, strikes, or outs then baseball becomes to0 “gimmicky.” This is Major League Baseball, not the XFL.

The owners and the World Umpires Association (the negotiating arm for the umpires) hope to ratify the agreement next month during the Owner’s Meetings next month in Scottsdale, AZ.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Braves Get Thier Right-Handed Bat, Sign Troy Glaus

December 23, 2009

Update: According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Braves will pay $2 million plus incentives in 2010. Are you kidding?

This is such a steal for the Braves. I hate to keep picking on the New York Mets, but put this deal in this prospective.

The Mets are paying Alex Cora $2 million in 2010 to be a nice guy. The Braves are paying Glaus $2 million in 2010 to be their starting first baseman and hit 20-25 home runs. Unreal.

It’s a safe bet to say Glaus will give the Braves over $2 million worth of production in 2010.

Original Post:

The Atlanta Braves needed a right-handed power bat and a first baseman. In one signing today, they accomplished both.

According to FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, the Braves have signed Troy Glaus to a one-year contract. Terms of this deal have not been disclosed yet, but it seems to be a very incentive-laden deal.

Glaus is the Braves' new first baseman

I really like this move by the Braves.

I had Glaus as my second best low-risk, high-reward hitter of the offseason. Here is what I wrote about Glaus in my free agent primer:

“Glaus is relatively young at 33 and just two years ago hit 27 home runs and had an .856 OPS. Can he play third at this point in his career? Probably not.

But he can probably play first or DH and still be a power threat at a very low-cost.”

Glaus will play first for the Braves and be the right-handed power source they have needed in that lineup. Glaus has only played six career games at first base in his 12 career, so there is some risk on whether or not Glaus can make the adjustment from first to third.

However, I have a theory on that. My theory has always been if you can play third, then you can play first and if you can play second, then you can play short.

I don’t foresee a problem with Glaus making the adjustment.

The signing of Glaus ends the Adam LaRoche era in Atlanta, yet again. The Braves didn’t look into re-signing LaRoche because he was reportedly asking for too much money. I think LaRoche and his agent really messed this one up.

Atlanta was LaRoche’s best chance on getting what he determined as “fair market value.” Now that Atlanta is out of the picture, where is he going to go where a team is going to pay him what he thinks he is worth? I don’t see it happening.

My guess is LaRoche is going to wait and wait and end up signing a one-year deal with a team he has very little interest in playing for. LaRoche really overplayed his had with this one.

I will say LaRoche ends up with the Kansas City Royals to replace the departed Mike Jacobs.

Glaus is a career .255 hitter with a .359 OBP and 304 home runs in 12 seasons with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Arizona Diamondbacks, Toronto Blue Jays, and St. Louis Cardinals.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

The Ghost Of Moonlight Graham One Year Later

December 23, 2009

When John Calipari took over the UMass Basketball program in 1988 he said he wanted to “Create a love affair with the community and their basketball team.” Many people thought he was nuts. Afterall, he was essentially starting from scratch.

Seven years later, Calipari took UMass from a start-up to one of the best basketball teams in the country.

I reference this because exactly one year ago today, The Ghost of Moonlight Graham was launched. My goal was to create a love affair between the baseball community and the site.

The UMass Basketball program wasn’t built in a day and neither was The Ghost of Moonlight Graham, but the strides that were made in the first year can not be understated.

In one year, The Ghost of Moonlight Graham:

Has appeared on MLBTradeRumors.com eight times.

Has appeared on FOXSports.com, CBSSports.com, and Rob Neyer’s SweetSpot on ESPN.com.

Has written 584 articles in 365 days.

Is currently the No.1 baseball writer for BleacherReport.com.

Ranks 149 in the baseball category on BallHype.com. I started out over number 500.

Has appeared on the Frankie The Sports Guy show on WGBB 1240 AM New York. Great experience.

Is a member of the Baseball Blogger’s Alliance.

Has had site traffic increase 10 out of the 12 months this year.

The last fact is the fact I am most proud of. A site is nothing if people aren’t clicking on it.

Whether you have agreed with what I said or completely disagreed, I would just like to thank everyone who has stopped by to say hello over the last year.

I plan on making 2010 even better. I am currently working on a re-design of the site, which will allow me to produce even more baseball content. I am also working on some business development deals as well.

Again, a big thank you to everyone for reading The Ghost of Moonlight Graham.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg