Circling the Bases: Winter Meetings
Am I the only one sick and tired of the Red Sox, Yankees and Dodgers being tied to every free agent? Sometimes I think reporters either (a) connecting dots or that they (b) don't vet their sources. I mean really... how could any team be interested in every player? Are the Giants interested in Josh Hamilton? How could they not be? Would they ever sign him to a contract? I'd put the odds of that happening at less than five percent. Heck, it might be one percent. Would it be accurate to say the Giants are “interested” in Hamilton? Strictly speaking of course the answer is yes. However, a reporting linking the two sides, or even mentioning the Giants as a possible landing spot, would be disingenuous at best. Remember that when you read all these reports flying around at the Winter Meetings.
R.A. Dickey has a year and $5 million left on a contract with the Mets. Obviously he's looking to capitalize on his breakout 2012 season that led to the Cy Young award, but it sounds like negotiations with the Mets have hit a rough patch. Common wisdom says if the two sides aren't able to work things out, and quickly, there might be a parting of ways as the Mets would look to move Dickey to maximize the potential return in a deal. I'm all for Dickey getting his big pay day, the guy is 38 years old and for his career has made under $9 million, and he realizes what any sane person should also realize – he has zero chance of ever replicating his '12 effort. Ever. Dickey throws his knuckler 85 percent of the time, and while you can have a long and productive career doing that, you simply cannot sustain the level of success, or dominance, that Dickey flashed last season if you throw a knuckleball. Dickey struck out 230 batters in 233.2 innings folks, and knuckle ballers just don't do that. Here are some of the best knuckle ballers of all-time and their strikeout marks (best season mark, then career mark in K/9).
Joe Niekro: 6.49 and 4.39
Phil Niekro: 7.14 and 5.57
Tim Wakefield: 7.90 and 6.01
Wilber Wood: 5.66 (as a starter), 4.73
No two pitchers are alike, but history has shown us that pitchers who rely on the knuckle ball simply cannot strike out a batter per inning. Even in today's game which is filled with punchouts, it's just not reasonable to look at Dickey as that type of arm. Hell, just look at Dickey's previous efforts. He averaged 5.55 K/9 in his career before last season. Dickey has been very good since he joined the Mets at the start of the 2010 season, but it's just unreasonable for anyone to expect him to repeat his '12 effort, so any team giving him a big money deal would be wise to keep that in mind.
Dan Haren has reportedly inked a 1-year deal for $13 million to join the Nationals (I broke down Haren a month back when it looked like he might be headed to the Cubs in exchange for Carlos Marmol in Circling the Bases). I love the signing by the Nats. They are only committed to one year, so if Haren doesn't reclaim his previous level of glory they won't be paying for his signing for years. It's also great news from a rotation perspective. Are you going to want to face the Nationals in a four game series if they throw at you Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman and Haren? Heck, it's not like Ross Detwiler is a bad 5th option either (for more on Detwiler see his Player Profile).
Wil Myers is the Royals top minor league prospect coming off a dominating season as a 21 year old hitting .314 with 37 big flies, 109 RBIs, 98 runs scored an a .987 OPS over 134 games (he was named the J.G Taylor Spink Award winner and the Minor League Player of the Year by Baseball America and USA Today for his efforts). Obviously it's plain to anyone why teams would covet Myers and his middle of the order, difference making bat. What is less obvious is why the Royals seem to be considering moving Myers. The team brought back Jeremy Guthrie and added Ervin Santana to their rotation, but folks, those are the top-2 arms in the projected rotation (Bruce Chen, Luke Hochevar and Luis Mendoza would appear to be the three other arms). The Royals understand they need more starting arms, and the rumor mill suggests they might be willing to move Myers to get one. My question is – will it matter? Let's say the Rays deal David Price, whom they are said to be considering moving, for Myers. On the surface that's a great move for the Royals as they would be getting one of the best lefties in baseball for a guy who hasn't taken a big league at-bat. However, that move wouldn't make the Royals a playoff contender in 2013, and it would be at the cost of their brightest young bat. Does a rotation of Price, Santana, Guthrie, Chen and Hochevar bring excitement to anyone? That rotation would still be two arms short of being a playoff rotation. Time will tell, but I just don't see how moving Myers is going to help the Royals enough to be worth parting with a player who might be a cleanup hitter in the big leagues for the next decade – and one whose salary will be relatively under control for over half of that time frame.
Ricky Nolasco will not be traded according to reports out of Florida, though it's likely for no other reason than he's due $11 million in 2013. Wait, that means the Marlins would like to deal him, right? Of course they would. But unfortunately for Nolasco, whose agent came out and said his client has no desire to remain in Florida, the Marlins really can't deal him. They need his salary to make it look like they aren't turning the Marlins into a Triple-A club. It's hard to feel sorry for Nolasco given how much money he will make, but still... One last note on the Marlins. If any player signs with the Marlins as a free agent he is DESPERATE. I don't know why any player with anything going for him would even bother taking the Marlins' phone call.
Sean Rodriguez signed a one year deal for $1 million to remain with the Rays to avoid an arbitration hearing. At one point he was thought of as a multi-position player with a nice power speed combo. After three years of middling performances, the hope that he will ever be anything more than a spare part has to be abandoned. The guy owns a .225/.301/.356 slash line through 1,372 plate appearances. I wish I could have a job, not be very good at it, and make a million dollars. No sniping from the peanut gallery either --- I might not be good at my job but I probably don't make any more money than you do so shut it.
Anibal Sanchez wants 6-years, $90 million. The Tigers, like the rest of the world, thought that the years and dollars were far too much so they offered him four years, $48 million. For his part, Sanchez's agent called the offer an “insult.” For a guy who has earned about $14 million in his career, I think a contract worth four times that is far from insulting. It's also obnoxious given the context of the economy in the United States right now, but players aren't always the most socially aware group of folks now are they? Sanchez has never won 14 games. Sanchez has never thrown 200-innings. He has one season of 170 Ks. His three year low in WHIP is 1.27. Those aren't $90 million numbers. He has been a very consistently effective hurler the last thee years though with an average ERA of 3.70, a WHIP of 1.30, a 8.06 K/9 and 2.79 K/BB. Again, solid numbers, but not enough in my mind to warrant a nearly triple-digit outlay of millions.
Joakim Soria signed a two year deal with the Rangers, and all that needs to occur is a physical to make the move official (reports suggest the deal is for around $8-9 million). Soria, coming back from Tommy John surgery, is likely to miss the first month or two of the season, but he figures to slide right into a setup role in front of Joe Nathan as the club intends to move Alexi Ogando back into the starting rotation. The last four years the guy has recorded at least 28 saves each season with efforts of 42 and 43 in the mix. Even last season when his ERA skyrocketed to 4.03 as he struggled with arm woes before going under the knife, he struck out 60 batters in 60.1 innings with a 3.53 K/BB ratio. This signing pretty much kills his fantasy value for 2013, but it's a great move for the Rangers who add, when healthy, a dynamic arm to their bullpen mix.
The Diamondbacks continue to insist they are happy with Justin Upton, but they continue to make it known that he is available (apparently their main target in any deal would be a shortstop). Just end it already. I liken this situation to that band-aid you have on your arm. You know it's gonna hurt like heck for about 10 seconds to pull it off, so you keep delaying removing it. Suck it up and pull. Do the same thing D'backs. I for one, and I'm sure there are legions behind me, have grown exceedingly tired of your lame posturing with Upton. Just deal him. It's clear you don't want to build your franchise around him. If you were Justin, how would you feel about your employers always telling you that things are fine even though you know that there is no way that they are actually being truthful with you?
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Thursday at 7 PM EDT and Friday's at 9 PM EDT. Ray's analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.