Archive for the ‘Trade and Free Agent Analysis’ Category

The Mets Look To The Far East Again, Sign Hisanori Takahashi

February 12, 2010

The New York Mets dipped into the far east once earlier this offseason when they signed relief pitcher Ryota Igarashi, so they figured why not take another shot at it later in the offseason.

According to various sources, the Mets have signed Japanese left-handed pitcher Hisanori Takahashi to a one-year, minor league contract. The contract will be worth $1 million if Takahashi makes the team and he can earn an extra $2 million in incentives.

Takahashi, 34, pitched for 10 seasons with the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants. He posted a career record of 79-66 and last year he had a 2.94 ERA in 25 games. Takahashi could pitch in relief or could compete for the fifth starter spot in the Mets’ rotation.

I have no idea what Takahashi will bring to the table in 2010. He could be Hideki Okajima or he could be Hideki Irabu, I have no idea. But here is what I do know–the Mets need all the starting pitching help they can get.

Outside of Johan Santana, the Mets have a bunch of question marks. As I mentioned before, the Mets starting rotation in 2010 is a lot like the Boston Red Sox rotations of the late and early-2000’s.

Those rotations consisted of Pedro Martinez and a bunch of clowns. Unless one of the quartet of Oliver Perez, John Maine, Mike Pelfrey, or Takahashi step up, then the Mets are facing the same situation as the Red Sox did back in the day.

It’s really hard to win that way. That type of rotation really puts a lot of stress on the bullpen and by the end of the year, the bullpen is usually warn out.

Takahashi could compete with Jonathan Niese for the fifth starter spot.

Here is a look at Takahashi via YouTube:

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

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Mets Sign Mike Jacobs, Find Their First Baseman?

February 11, 2010

For those of you Lost fans like myself, do you ever just watch the show season and after season and ask yourself “How is this all going to come together?” I think if you religiously watch Lost, you probably ask yourself that question all the time.

I am starting to get the sense that New York Mets fans are starting to ask themselves that question in regards to the Mets’ offseason. How on Earth is this puzzle going to come together at the end?

Well, just when you think the Mets had all the pieces to their puzzle, they go ahead and add another piece to throw their fans off.

Jacobs is returning to the Mets

According to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick, via Twitter,  the Mets have signed first baseman Mike Jacobs to a minor league contract. The deal would pay Jacobs $900,000 if he makes the majors as well as an additional $1.15 million in incentives.

The Mets already have Daniel Murphy and Fernando Tatis on the roster, so my initial take on this signing is that the Mets are hoping that Jacobs can be a left-handed power hitter off the bench against right-handed pitching for them in 2010.

Other than that, I have no idea what he can do for the Mets because he doesn’t do anything else particularly well. He can’t run, he can’t hit for average, he can’t get on base, he can’t hit lefties, and he can’t field.

Jacobs hit a healthy .178 against left-handed pitching last year. .178!!! He is an automatic out against lefties, so he can’t be an everyday player in the major leagues. He did hit 18 of his 19 home runs and his OPS was 258 points higher against righties last year with the Kansas City Royals.

I will say this about the Mets’ first base situation–Murphy better have his act together in spring training. If Murphy doesn’t hit well during the spring and Jacobs does, it wouldn’t shock me to see Jacobs as the starting first baseman against righties in 2010. Tatis would presumably play against lefties.

This scenario would lead to two things.

First, if Murphy loses out to Jacobs, his career in New York is over. There is no way he could have a career in New York after that.

Last year the Mets front office hyped up Murphy as a future star. Now a year later he gets beaten out for a job by Mike Jacobs? He would get kicked out of New York like Gregg Jefferies was years ago.

Second, if Jacobs is the Mets starting first baseman headed into the 2010 season, then the Mets are admitting they have given up on their season before it even starts. I already think the Mets have given up on the 2010 season, but this would really put the final nail in the coffin.

Jacobs has played five years in the major leagues and has a career .254 average with 99 home runs, 114 doubles, and a .313 OBP with the Mets, Florida Marlins, and Royals.

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

Padres Ink Veteran Catcher, Sign Yorvit Torrealba

February 10, 2010

There were probably a lot of teams that could have used a catcher like Yorvit Torrealba this offseason. Off the top of my head, I could think of at least eight-10 organizations that could have benefited from signing Torrealba.

I know in that first paragraph I am making it sound like Torrealba is Johnny Bench. Trust me, he is not. But I do believe he is a very good catcher and has a lot to offer a team.

Torrealba is headed to San Diego

Thanks to the MLB Package (something I highly recommend everyone purchase), I have had the opportunity to watch the Colorado Rockies and Torrealba the last couple of years. I really like the way he handles a pitching staff during a game.

A catcher’s primary responsibility is to call a good game and be a mentor to the entire pitching staff. Torrealba has done a good job in his tenure with the Rockies doing that.

The San Diego Padres are hoping that Torrealba can help mentor their young pitching staff in 2010. The Padres have signed the 31-year-old catcher to a one-year, $1.25 million contract. The deal also includes a mutual option for 2011.

The Venezuela born catcher is expected to share the catching duties with Nick Hundley. This is something that Torrealba should be used to as he shared the catching duties with Chris Iannetta in Colorado.

Torrealba hit a career high .291 last year in 64 games. He also had a pretty good series against the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLDS last year hitting .357 in 15 AB’s.

Here is what was fascinating about the catching market this winter. How does Brian Schneider get a two-year deal, but Torrealba and Bengie Molina only got one-year deals? Doesn’t make much sense to me.

Torrealba will be entering his 10th season in the major leagues and has a career .255 average with 38 home runs and a .315 OBP with the San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, and Rockies.

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

New York Yankees Add Marcus Thames

February 9, 2010

With the New York Yankees’ lineup and roster pretty much set, they didn’t have many holes left to fill. If they did need something, it would be a right-handed hitter off the bench.

GM Brian Cashman, not leaving any stone unturned this offseason, found his potential right-handed hitter off the bench yesterday.

According to SI.com’s Jon Heyman, the Yankees have signed OF Marcus Thames to a minor league contract. If Thames makes the team, the deal would be worth $900,000.

Thames was signed by the Yankees

Thames, 32, hit .252 with 13 home runs and a .777 OPS in 87 games for the Detroit Tigers in 2009. The year before with the Tigers, Thames hit 25 home runs in 103 games.

What attracted the Yankees to Thames is Thames’ ability to hit left-handed pitching. For his career, Thames has a .516 slugging percentage against lefties.

With the recently signed Randy Winn and Brett Gardner still on the roster, I don’t expect Thames to get much playing time in left field in 2010. It’s not like Thames is Carl Crawford out there anyway. He has a -16.7 UZR in left for his career.

This will be Thames’ second tour of duty with the Yankees. He was drafted by the Yankees in the 30th round of the 1996 draft and had a cup of coffee with the big club in 2002. He hit .231 with one home run in 13 AB’s.

For his career, Thames is a .243 hitter with 101 home runs and a .306 OBP in eight seasons with the Yankees and Tigers.

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

The Five Best Free Agent Pitchers Left On The Market

February 7, 2010

While everyone is getting ready for the big game, I am writing about baseball. Such is the life I have chosen.

Yesterday, I wrote about the five best hitters left on the free agent market, so today I will focus on the five best pitchers who have yet to find a home for the 2010 season.

Here are the top-five free agent pitchers left on the market:

1. Kiko Calero, Relief Pitcher. At 35-years-old you would think that Calero has been around for forever, but he hasn’t. Kalero has only been in the majors for seven years and perhaps his 2009 season was his best.

In 60 innings pitched with the Florida Marlins, Calero had a 1.95 ERA, 69 strike outs, and only allowed 36 hits in those 60 innings. Those are some impressive numbers.

What was just as impressive was that Calero was equally effective against righties and lefties. He held lefties to a .187 batting average and righties to a .176 average.

Calero would be a valuable addition to any bullpen. The Chicago Cubs and Tampa Bay Rays were rumored to be interested earlier in the offseason.

2. Jarrod Washburn, Starting Pitcher. Washburn was off to a fast start in 2009 and then he was traded to the Detroit Tigers at the trading deadline and things fell apart.

Washburn may be forced into retirement

Washburn suffered a knee injury down the stretch and stumbled to a 1-3 record with a 7.33 ERA with the Tigers. His last start was Sept. 15 against the Kansas City Royals and lasted an impressive one inning and gave up four runs.

Washburn is 35 now and is now even considering retirement if he can’t get an offer from either the Minnesota Twins or Seattle Mariners.

3. Joe Beimel, Relief Pitcher. Beimel is the youngest of any pitcher on this list (32), but his value is not really strong. He is coming off a year where he had a 3.58 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP with the Washington Nationals and Colorado Rockies, which is not bad at all.

However, there is one is problem with Beimel–he doesn’t do anything particularly well.

He doesn’t strike anyone out and as a left-handed pitcher, he isn’t that effective against left-handed batters. Lefties actually had a higher OPS (.781) against Beimel than righties did (.741) in 2009.

A lefty who can’t get left-handed batters out is like a pass rusher, who can’t sack the quarter back. Beimel is like the Vernon Gholston of baseball.

4. Chan Ho Park, Relief Pitcher. It seems like Park has been around forever. It was a really long, long, long time ago that Park was an up-and-coming pitcher with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Park is 36 now and is coming off a year where he had a 4.43 ERA in 83.1 innings with the Philadelphia Phillies. He was actually used as an old-fashioned swing man last year. He was used in relief and made seven starts.

Park is much better suited to be a reliever at this stage in his career. Park had a 2.52 ERA last year in relief and pitched rather well for the Phillies out of the bullpen in the playoffs. He had a three ERA in nine innings during last year’s World Series run.

I wouldn’t trust him in a big spot to save my life, but he should find a home pretty soon.

5. Braden Looper, Starting Pitcher. Looper went 14-7 with the Milwaukee Brewers last season, but don’t be fooled by those 14 wins and his 194.2 innings pitched. Looper was pretty bad last year.

Looper was not impressive with the Brewers in 09'

Looper led the National League in runs allowed (113), home runs allowed (39), and finished fourth in hits allowed (216). He also had an ERA of 5.52. It was like he was going for the anti-triple crown of pitching.

I think Looper will have a hard time getting a major league contract and will most likely sign a minor league deal with incentives.

That’s all for today. Enjoy the Super Bowl everyone!!!

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

Mariners Bring Back Erik Bedard

February 7, 2010

Erik Bedard is one of the great teases in baseball. He is a left-handed pitcher with a ton of talent. There are very lefties in the game that have the stuff that Bedard has.

The problem is, he is always hurt. Not only is he seemingly always hurt, but some–including myself–have questioned his mental makeup. I believe he is one of the pitchers that would rather win in a small market than win in a big market.

Bedard has been a tease in Seattle

Bedard was involved in one of the most lopsided trades in recent years when he was sent from the Baltimore Orioles to the Seattle Mariners for Adam Jones, George Sherrill, Kameron Mickolio, and Chris Tillman. This trade has set the Orioles up for years to come, while Bedard has been a disaster in Seattle.

In two seasons, Bedard only made 30 starts and has gotten hurt every year. This is why Bedard is a tease. When he has been on the mound in a Mariners’ uniform he has pretty good for them.

In those 30 starts, Bedard had a 3.25 ERA, a 1.26 WHIP, and averaged 9.8 K’s/9. Not bad at all.

Bedard’s 2009 season ended at the end of July because of a shoulder injury. Bedard eventually needed shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum.

The injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for Bedard. He was entering his free agent year and at 30-years-old, Bedard could have been inline for one more big pay-day.

Bedard didn’t get the big payday because his injury will sideline him until at least May. However, he will be returning to the place that I didn’t think he would return to.

According to Marc Brassard of Le Droit, Bedard has re-signed with the Mariners. The deal is for one-year and 1.5 million plus incentives with an $8 million mutual option for 2011.

If Bedard reaches all his incentives in 2010, he could earn around $8.5 million.

I am really surprised Bedard is returning to the Mariners in 2010. After his two injury plagued seasons, I didn’t think the Mariners would bring him back.

Then I got to thinking, the Mariners need all of the pitching help they can get. The Mariners actually needed Bedard.

Yes, I know Seattle has a lethal one-two punch at the top of their rotation in Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez, but what do they have after that? Ian Snell? Ryan Rowland-Smith? Doug Fister?

None of those guys strike fear in anyone. If the Mariners go into a three game series with those three pitching, they would be underdogs in all three games against most teams in the American League.

Now you can tell me that the Arizona Diamondbacks won the 2001 World Series with really only two starters and you would be correct. Outside of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, the Diamondbacks had nothing that year.

However, there is one big difference between what the Mariners have and what the Diamondbacks had in 2001–offense. Whether it was legit or not, Luis Gonzalez did hit 57 home runs that year and finished third in the MVP voting.

They also had Reggie Sanders who hit 33 home runs that year and Matt Williams, when healthy, was still capable of hitting the long ball. Mark Grace also hit .298 with .386 OBP.

Those players were able to bail their bad pitchers out because they could score more runs than their opponents. I don’t see that with this Mariners’ lineup.

If and that is a big if, Bedard can come back around mid-season, he would give the Mariners the third pitcher they need and a big lift as the season goes on.

Bedard will be entering his eighth season in the major league and has a career record of 51-41 with a 3.71 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP with the Orioles and Mariners.

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

The Five Best Free Agent Hitters Left On The Market

February 6, 2010

Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in less than two weeks. Can you believe it!!! It seems like yesterday the World Series was being played.

Despite the fact that spring training starts in less than two weeks, there are still a lot of quality major league hitters who still have not found a home. Due to the economy, teams are trying to wait out players as much as possible (unless you are the Houston Astros, who gave $15 million to Brandon Lyon).

Everyone is looking for a bargain these days.

Here are the five best free agent hitters remaining on the market.

Hitters

1. Johnny Damon, OF. Damon hit .282 with 24 home runs, 36 doubles, 12 stolen bases, and .365 OBP in 143 games for the New York Yankees last year. Damon priced himself out of New York and now his options are limited.

Damon is a terrible defensive outfielder and his power numbers were just a product of playing in a ballpark perfectly suited to his swing. His agent Scott Boras is trying to get the Detroit Tigers to bite on Damon, but I see the Atlanta Braves as a darkhorse for his services.

2. Felipe Lopez, 2B. It’s pretty remarkable that a guy who is only 29-years-old and is coming off a season where he hit .310 with 9 home runs, a .383 OBP, and played outstanding defense (7.8 UZR) can’t find a job. That is the dilemma that Lopez is facing right now.

Lopez should find a home soon

You don’t hear too many teams in on his services, but this guy is too good not to have a starting job in the major leagues. The St. Louis Cardinals might be a landing spot for him, if they don’t feel comfortable with David Freese at third.

3. Hank Blalock, 1B/DH. Blalock hit .234 with 25 home runs and a .277 OBP in 123 games in 2009 for the Texas Rangers. The 123 games were the most Blalock played in since 2006.

Blalock can hit a home run, but other than that, he doesn’t do anything else particularly well. He doesn’t get on base, he is injury prone, he is not a good defensive player, and he faded in the second half last season.

He did hit 19 of his 25 home runs off of right-handed pitching, so maybe a team can use him like Mike Scioscia did 2003 All Star Game. That being a left-handed power hitter off the bench.

4. Russell Branyan, 1B/DH. Coming off of a career year, Branyan thought he would finally get paid. So far this has not been the case.

Branyan could end up with the Marlins

Branyan hit 31 home runs last year in just 116 games, but teams have been mostly scared off by Branyan’s back. A 34-year-old with a bad back and no track record prior to 2009 is not attractive to most teams.

I thought he would end up back with the Seattle Mariners at some point, but now it looks like the Florida Marlins might be interested in him.

5. Jermaine Dye, OF. Dye has finished in the top-15 in American League MVP voting two out of the last four years, but his market has been really quiet this winter.

Dye hit .250 last year with 27 home runs and a .340 OBP. Which isn’t the worst hitting line in the world. However, there are a couple of things working against Dye this offseason.

He is 36-years-old, he can’t field a lick anymore, and he is coming off a second half where he hit .179 with just seven home runs. His options are limited, so he might end up on a team as a fourth outfielder or DH-type player.

Tomorrow, I will cover the five best remaining pitchers on the free agent market.

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

Blue Jays Sign Kevin Gregg

February 6, 2010

I love when teams make pointless signings. When I say pointless, I mean a signing that really doesn’t fill a need for the short or long-term.

For instance, the Washington Nationals signing Adam Kennedy in my opinion was pointless. Another pointless signing was the one that the Toronto Blue Jays just made.

Gregg was a pointless signing by the Jays

According to multiple reports, the Blue Jays have signed RHP Kevin Gregg to a one-year, $2.75 million contract. The Blue Jays will have ten days after the 2010 World Series to choose between three options:

  • Allow Gregg to become a free agent
  • Pick up a $4.5MM option for 2011
  • Pick up an $8.75MM option for 2011-12

Have the Blue Jays ever watched Gregg pitch? More importantly, have they ever watched him pitch in August when his teams need him the most? Gregg handles pressure like the San Jose Sharks do in the postseason.

During the month of August the last two years, Gregg has an ERA of 8.44. He is also coming off a year where he gave up 13 home runs in 68.2 innings. Not the most ringing endorsement.

Not only is Gregg not a quality pitcher in my opinion, I have no idea where he fits in on the Blue Jays. Toronto already has Scott Downs, Jason Frasor, Jeremy Accardo, Jesse Carlson, Josh Roenicke, and Shawn Camp in their bullpen.

The Blue Jays didn’t need another reliever and they didn’t need a reliever who makes $2.75 million.

If indeed Gregg was signed to be their closer, I don’t see how he is better than Downs or Frasor, who are Toronto’s already existing options. If Gregg is closing games in Toronto, then I feel worse for Blue Jay fans than I already do.

The Blue Jays are in rebuilding mode and will most likely finish last in the American League East. There was no point to signing a pitcher like Gregg.

Now on to another sport.

The big game is one day away and everyone has been asking me for my Super Bowl prediction. My initial thought when the New Orleans Saints beat the Minnesota Vikings, was that the Indianapolis Colts would crush the Saints.

I still think the Colts will win, but I don’t think it will be a blow out anymore. Dwight Freeney’s injury really changes things for me.

Colts win 27-23.

And if you want some awesome recipes for Super Bowl Sunday, be sure to check out GourmetDude.com. Pete has some great recipes for chicken wings, meatballs, cookies, and more.

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

Nationals Lose Out On Orlando Hudson, So Turn To Adam Kennedy

February 5, 2010

Adam Kennedy’s future was mostly dependent on Orlando Hudson. Hudson was the premier second baseman left on the market and teams weren’t going to move on Kennedy until Hudson was signed. Kennedy essentially became the fallback option.

Now that Hudson has found a home with the Minnesota Twins, the Washington Nationals have found their fallback option. According to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson, the Nationals have signed Kennedy to a one-year, $1.25 million deal. The deal also includes a $2 million club option for 2011.

Kennedy was a fallback option for the Nats

Poor Adam Kennedy. If Hudson had signed with the Nationals or Cleveland Indians, he could be in Minnesota with a chance to play in the playoffs in 2010. Now he is going to Washington and to probably a last place team next season. It’s like being rejected by your dream job and settling for a job that pays 25 percent less and has no long-term growth.

However, the reality is Kennedy is even lucky to have a major league job in 2010.

Kennedy was released by the St. Louis Cardinals in the winter of 2009, then signed a minor league deal with the Tampa Bay Rays, and then was traded to the Oakland A’s for Joe Dillion. Kennedy had an up-and-down year for the A’s in 2009.

He got off to a rip roaring start, hitting .390 in May, but then dipped to .218 in June, got back on track in July hitting .296, stumbled again in August hitting .224, and then ended the season on a tear hitting .349 in September. Kennedy ended the season hitting .289 with 11 home runs and a .758 OPS in 128 games.

I don’t expect Kennedy to come anywhere close to his 2009 numbers in 2010. Especially his power numbers. As a matter of fact, I don’t even know why the Nationals signed Kennedy in the first place.

Why are the Nationals signing a 34-year-old second baseman? I don’t mind when a team signs a veteran for one year as long as it doesn’t prevent a young player from getting a shot. With this signing, the Nationals are preventing a young player from getting a shot.

With Kennedy in the fold, Cristian Guzman with his surgically repaired shoulder and poor UZR will remain at short and Ian Desmond is out of a starting job. Desmond hit .280 with four home runs in 82 AB’s last year. I know it’s not a great sample size, but what can Kennedy do that Desmond can’t?

Bill James predicted a .282 season from Desmond with 13 home runs and a .770 OPS. Now he will be sitting on the bench while some veteran who has no long-term future with the club gets his AB’s.

I appreciate the fact the Nationals are trying to put a competitive product on the field. In this economy, a team has to do whatever it can to sell tickets, but they are going about it the wrong way. They should try to win with guys like Desmond, not have him sit on the bench or go down to the minors.

The Nationals would have been better off investing this money in their bullpen. Kennedy was a poor investment by the Nationals.

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

Twins Continue To Improve, Sign Orlando Hudson

February 5, 2010

Going into the offseason, everyone knew the Minnesota Twins needed an upgrade at three of the four infield positions. The Twins were set with Justin Morneau at first, but needed to improve at second, short, and third in order to get to the next level.

Back in November, the Twins stole JJ Hardy from the Milwaukee Brewers for Carlos Gomez to upgrade their shortstop position and yesterday they upgraded at second base.

Hudson is an upgrade at second for the Twins

According to Joe Christensen of the Minnesota Star Tribune, the Twins have signed second baseman Orlando Hudson to a one-year, $5 million contract. The deal has no incentives and no option for 2011.

Hudson is a clear upgrade over last year’s starting second baseman Nick Punto. Here are their stats from last year:

Hudson: .283/.357/.417 with nine home runs in 146 games.

Punto: .228/.337/.284 with one home runs in 125 games.

Punto is a nice little player, who does a lot of things right. He is a guy that every team should have on their ball club. But he shouldn’t be starting for a team that has World Series aspirations.

Hudson will certainly lengthen the Twins’ lineup. Here is a possible Minnesota lineup against right-handed pitching:

1. Denard Span, CF

2. Orlando Hudson, 2B

3. Joe Mauer, C

4. Justin Morneau, 1B

5. Jason Kubel, LF

6. Michael Cuddyer, RF

7. Jim Thome, DH

8. JJ Hardy, SS

9. Brendan Harris, 3B

That is one stacked lineup. These are no longer your father’s punch-and-Judy Twins’ lineup. This lineup can flat-out rake.

Of course against lefties, the Twins can go with Delmon Young in left and put Kubel back at DH. That’s still a pretty good lineup.

With the additions of Hudson, Hardy, Thome, and with their above average rotation and solid bullpen, I believe the Twins are the clear favorites in the American League Central.

Their closest competition in the Central will come from the Chicago White Sox. But with a suspect lineup and very mediocre defense, I am not sure the White Sox have what it takes to overtake the Twins in the division.

Now that the Twins have added Hardy and Hudson, don’t look for them to sign a third baseman as well. I think the Twins are done spending this offseason.

They will most likely go with Harris at third in 2010. Punto and Matt Tolbert could see some time at third as well.

Hudson will be entering his eighth year in the major leagues and has a career .282 average with 77 home runs, 50 stolen bases, 50 triples, and a .778 OPS with the Toronto Blue Jays, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Los Angeles Dodgers.

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