I don’t necessarily want to over-dramatize or exaggerate this point, but it is quite possible that the Arizona Diamondbacks made what easily could turn out to be the best move of the offseason so far.
According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN, the Diamondbacks have signed right-handed starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy to a two-year contract worth $15.5 million when you include the $2.5 million signing bonus.
In 2013, McCarthy will earn $4 million and the remaining $9 million will be paid the following year.
Of course, now I have to justify why this could easily be the best deal of the winter.
McCarthy has struggled with injuries throughout his career, but when he is on, he has the potential to lead a rotation. Over his entire career in the American League, he has posted a combined 4.02 ERA. When you factor in the fact that ERA is normally about one run higher on average in the American League, his roughly equivalent ERA in the National League would be probably below 3.50.
The past two seasons in Oakland have been particularly strong with a combined 3.29 ERA.
Obviously, ERA is not the only measure of a pitcher’s success, but it is a good place to start. Ultimately, it is the statistic that matters the most. If the pitcher is not allowing runners to cross the plate, something is going right.
McCarthy is not an overpowering pitcher, but he has demonstrated exemplary control over the past two seasons. He has been averaging under two walks per nine innings during his tenure in Oakland. Also, he did not surrender very many terrible pitches that resulted in home runs as shown by the fact that he gave up less than a home run per nine innings pitched.
When a pitcher is not allowing runs and also limiting the amount of runners he puts on base, things will go well.
Of course, this deal is not without risks. McCarthy was unfortunately hit in the head last season by a line drive, and he even missed the entire 2010 season due to injury. With his past, his market value is understandably lower.
However, with all of the upside in this contract for the 29-year-old right-hander, if everything goes according to plan, the Diamondbacks will have easily gotten the best bargain of the winter at least so far.Posted in Arizona Diamondbacks, Columns | Leave a comment
BJ Upton signed with the Atlanta Braves, and now the Washington Nationals have traded for Denard Span formerly of the Minnesota Twins.
Of course, with these two roster moves, you have to wonder what the Philadelphia Phillies are going to do to keep up.
Obviously, Josh Hamilton would be the biggest name on the market, but it does not seem like that would be prudent. The Philadelphia Phillies are so highly invested into a few players like Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels already that they cannot allow that trend to continue. They need to try to diversify their risk by signing less-expensive short-term players who will complement their star players.
By similar logic, it is probably not a good idea to sign Michael Bourn either. He will command a less expensive but still substantial contract. Also, with Jimmy Rollins at the top of the line up, it’s probably not a good idea to invest in another low on-base percentage leadoff type hitter.
Consequently, you have to wonder where they’re going to next.
The answer is probably going to come in the name of Shane Victorino or Angel Pagan.
Both of these men are talented. Both of them are fast and play solid defense in center field.
The main difference is the Victorino is coming off of a bad year while Pagan is coming off one of his best. Victorino hit .255 with 11 home runs, 55 RBI and 39 stolen bases. Pagan hit .288 with eight home runs, 66 RBI and 29 stolen bases to go along with a National League-leading 15 triples.
Both of these men can hit behind Jimmy Rollins and provide a cost-effective option to play centerfield. Pagan will probably have a little bit more bargaining power because he is coming off probably the best year of his career, but at their best, their production is roughly comparable.
If the Phillies are unable to bring in a center fielder off the market, what other options do they have?
One obvious option would be giving the position to John Mayberry Jr. Last season, he hit .245 with 14 home runs and 46 RBI. He does have a tendency to strike out a lot (111 in 441 at-bats), but of the three options mentioned so far, he easily has the most power potential.
The key word there is potential. He should be able to hit with more power if he developed as well as he should be able to, but there is a lot of uncertainty there.
It seems somewhat obvious that the Philadelphia Phillies are going to try to do something relatively soon. They are not going to let the market on center fielders get much smaller. Also, they will want to keep up with both the Braves and the Nationals as the arms race in the National League East continues to develop.Posted in Columns, Free Agency, Hot Stove, Philadelphia Phillies | Leave a comment
Andy Pettitte is still not sure whether he wants to pitch in 2013, but according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, he is expected to decide by the end of next week.
If this really is the end for the 40-year-old left-hander, it is interesting to think about what his legacy will truly be.
On one hand, he was a very strong pitcher for a very long time. His 3.86 career ERA may not seem overwhelming on the surface, but it is worth remembering that he pitched 14 of his 17 seasons in the American League where the ERAs are naturally higher.
He also managed to win 245 baseball games which might be inflated because of all the run support he received from the New York Yankees in particular, but it obviously takes a lot of talent to win over 100 more games than he lost during his career (245-142).
It is kind of ironic that he was a two-time 21 game winner, but he never was able to win a Cy Young Award. He was the runner-up in his sophomore season as a 24-year-old, but he was defeated by Pat Hentgen of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1996. He never came that close again though.
Despite all of this success, he was wrapped up in some difficult situations.
He admitted to using human growth hormone to recover from an elbow injury in 2002. Whenever the shadow of performance-enhancing drugs comes over a player, it is incredibly hard to shake. Even though he only says that he used them twice in a very limited timeframe, the suspicion will always be there.
On top of that, in this past year, he told a jury that he wasn’t quite certain about whether or not Roger Clemens used human growth hormone. He said that his memory was “50-50” and essentially got Clemens off the hook. That did not win very many fans who are sure that he lied to cover up for his friend.
If Andy Pettitte really calls it a career within the next few weeks, it will be interesting to see the reaction. He was a great pitcher, but in this era of seemingly unlimited steroid suspicion and the fact that he admitted to using them during a short period of time will surely damper the good feelings that would normally accompany a retirement like this one.Posted in Columns, New York Yankees | Leave a comment
How could I possibly write an article today without talking about Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout? Before that though, I like to congratulate Cabrera on his victory. He has a lot to be proud of.
That being said, if I had a vote, it would have gone to Trout. The main argument for Cabrera is that he made history. He won the first Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. 45 years of history is a lot to overcome and he deserves a ton of credit for doing that.
Trout made history of his own though. At 21 years old (and actually eight days younger than I am), he is the youngest player to ever hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in a season. That is something that has never happened before.
On top of that, he is one of the most well-rounded players in baseball right now. He hit .326 with the aforementioned 30 home runs, a league-leading 129 runs scored, 83 RBI and 49 stolen bases. His defense and arm in center field are definitely assets as well.
That is what should have made him the Most Valuable Player. He really has all five dimensions that great players normally have. Cabrera is a great player and is obviously unmatched at the plate, but in terms of speed and defense, Trout has the advantage.
That must have been the factor that created such a blowout. Apparently, the voters value performance at the plate far above having all five tools. There is nothing wrong with that, and Cabrera was dominant with his .330 batting average, 44 home runs and 139 RBI.
Cabrera is most definitely a deserving candidate, and I don’t mean to belittle him whatsoever. However, because of his all-around brilliance, if I had been given a vote, Mike Trout would have gotten one more.Posted in Columns, Los Angeles Angels | Leave a comment
Freddy Galvis made an early impression with the Philadelphia Phillies last season as he was the primary second baseman due to the injury of Chase Utley.
He ended up hitting .226 with three home runs and 24 RBI in 33 games. While I know that that is not much of an offensive impression, he played slick defense and helped the Phillies fill a hole.
However, his debut season was cut short because of a 50 game suspension on account of performance-enhancing drugs. Even after he served the rest of that suspension, he didn’t play the rest of the season on account of a fracture in his back.
Now that he has finally made it back to the field and has hopefully put all of those problems behind him, the results are looking good.
Galvis is playing for Aguilas del Zulia in the Venezuelan Winter League and is currently hitting .330 with three home runs and nine RBI. Granted, this competition is not as good as it would be in Major League Baseball, but there are also many highly talented players gaining similar experience in Venezuela right now.
It is also encouraging to see that he is having success against right-handed pitchers. He is currently hitting .375 with all three of his home runs and six of his RBI against them. The Phillies are already strong against right-handed pitchers thanks to left-handed sluggers Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in the middle of their lineup. However, Galvis might be able to add to that advantage against the much more common right-handed pitchers.
On top of this pleasant development, Galvis might be able to fill a convenient role for the Phillies this season. They definitely need help at third base, and Galvis could easily have the versatility and defensive prowess to handle that transition. He would not be a stereotypical third baseman who has quite a bit of power. However, maybe he could become the type of player that Placido Polanco was in his prime.
The Phillies must be encouraged by this sign out of Venezuela. Freddy Galvis seems to be on his way back to the major leagues, and if he is able to complete the comeback, he could be a very useful player.Posted in Columns, Philadelphia Phillies | Leave a comment