Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday Lightning 11.22.2009

  • Bay vs Holliday for the Red Sox:

With Jason Bay looking to cash in and numerous reports of him having rejected the Red Sox offer of 4-years and close to $60 million, you'd have to believe that the club isn't going to sit around and wait for Bay to sift through the offers before getting back to them; this turns the focus on Matt Holliday.

Which would be a better signing for the Red Sox?

Bay, who's 31 (a year-and-a-half older than Holliday); has handled Boston performing in an exemplary fashion on and off the field; and puts up the same numbers year-after-year? Or Holliday, who struggled adapting to the American League in his half-season with the Athletics and is represented by Scott Boras?

Naysayers on Holliday say that he was exposed when he left the friendly confines of Coors Field, but I think he was hurt more by number of obstacles in front of him in 2009. The change in ballparks; his impending free agency; playing for a bad team; and the new league were greater factors than any "exposure" of flaws. Despite his meltdown offensively and defensively in the NLDS after being sent to the Cardinals, Holliday is still going to get paid. His hot run after joining the Cardinals replenished his image.

To me, Bay is the better all-around player but his contractual demands are likely to be more reasonable than those of Holliday and Boras. The issue the Red Sox have to grapple with is what they're willing to do to fill their hole for a big bat and whether they're willing to wait for Bay.

The ancillary factors of both players----average defense being first and foremost on the list along with financial demands----aren't as important as one would believe they are in a home park like Fenway. The park itself should allow Holliday to come close (not replicate, but come close) to putting up similar numbers as he did in Colorado. He's more of a straightaway hitter than anything else, but he'd find a security blanket in the Green Monster. With the way the Red Sox get on base and hitting behind J.D. Drew and Kevin Youkilis, Holliday would drive in 130 runs.

Defensively, I don't believe there's an accurate way to quantify how well or poorly even the weaker and slower defenders would handle Fenway Park. There's such a short amount of ground to cover for a left fielder there that what's more important than range is how said outfielder learns to deal with the quirks and caroms off the wall and in the corners. Even Manny Ramirez could play solid defense out there when was sufficiently spurred on by whatever it is that motivates Manny on a given day. Carl Yastrzemski played the wall better than anyone; Jim Rice handled the wall; Holliday would deal with it. Work ethic wouldn't be a factor with him; he's always played as if his life depended on each and every play. He'd learn the nuances of the Wall.

Bay could be counted on in a similar fashion, but if Bay is intent on testing the free agent waters, the Red Sox might be better served to make the splash, go after Holliday aggressively and get him in quick strike fashion. This type of maneuver wouldn't preclude them from improving the offense further by going after Adrian Gonzalez as well. That would transform their lineup immediately back into a force.

I have a hunch Holliday's going to end up with the Red Sox sooner rather than later; that they learned their lesson from the dealings with Boras and Mark Teixeira last year; and watching the Yankees celebrate a World Series will have the same affect that the lost year of 2006 did as they dove into free agency like they were leaping from a burning building. It's the right move.

  • A customary lull for the Marlins:

Although the credit for my picking the Marlins to win 90 games this year and seeing them win 87 was on a level with Nate Silver's much ballyhooed pick of the Rays making a vast leap into contention 2008, credit and acknowledgment for me has been either reluctant or non-existent for everyone other than my loyal followers; the truth now is that with the way the Marlins are shopping many of their name players, the inevitable lull in on-field success is coming for the best-run team in baseball.

Aside from Hanley Ramirez, it doesn't appear as if anyone on the Marlins roster is off-limits. And I guarantee, if a massive enough package (and it would have to be MASSIVE) came back for Ramirez, he'd be in the discussion as well. Dan Uggla will be traded, as will Jorge Cantu. Nick Johnson won't be back and Cody Ross could be moved too. Josh Johnson was in discussions for a contract extension to preclude his approaching arbitration and free agency after 2011; but it doesn't look like it's going to happen now, which will make Johnson available.

How many teams would be after Johnson? One of the best pitchers in baseball? It'd be easier to list the teams that wouldn't be interested in Johnson. The argument could be made that the acquisition of Johnson would be more worthwhile than teams going after Roy Halladay from the Blue Jays. Johnson will be 26 early next year; Halladay will be 33. Johnson already went through Tommy John surgery and has far less wear on his tires than Halladay. And as great and durable as Halladay has been, his workload has been heavy since 2002 and he missed substantial time in 2004-2005 with injuries. Plus whoever acquires Halladay has to worry about signing him after next year. They'd get a big year from him in 2010, but after that? Johnson might be a better investment.

Johnson's price tag would be steep; we're talking at least two blue-chip players along the lines of Ramirez/Cameron Maybin/Andrew Miller and a probably more; the Marlins always know what prospects to target.

The 2010 Marlins won't be contenders if they clear out the house. With their young pitching, they'll be competitive, but it will be a year or two before they repeat the process that had them contending under a minimalist payroll in 2008-2009; they'll be back, but it's a cycle; and next year will be a downturn for them.

  • What was the point again?

I have no idea whether the Yankees are going to make a big play for John Lackey. My instincts say no. But if they again spend big money for a starting pitcher, you have to wonder what happened to the idea of developing their own pitchers instead of lavishing fortunes on outsiders. It's amazing how quickly a plan is abandoned.

The Yankees young arms Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy----advertised as the John Smoltz, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine of the new generation----didn't live up to the hype (putting it mildly). Now the expectations have been tamped down by reality of how hard it is to develop and contend simultaneously. There's still hope for Hughes as a starter, in fact, I think he's going to be quite good; Chamberlain should be in the bullpen; and Kennedy? I was never particularly impressed.

To sign another big name mercenary like Lackey would be tossing the whole plot into the trash. There are plenty of cheaper alternatives the Yankees could import who would gobble innings and function as a fourth starter (Jon Garland, a healthy Randy Wolf) rather than sign Lackey for the same money it cost to get A.J. Burnett.

Wouldn't Lackey be a reversion to what it was that GM Brian Cashman specifically wanted to get away from after all those championshipless (Paul's word) years? I say yes.

  • Viewer Mail 11.22.2009:

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes:

Why would the Twins want Pedro Martinez? He should stay in the NL where it's a lot more comfy.

I think Pedro's just looking for work at this point, so any and every team (including the dregs like the Nats and Padres) would be interested in bringing him in. Why not the Twins? I'm not saying it's a good idea for either side, but not insane either. They're a good young team that could use his wisdom if he can still drag himself out to the mound.

Jeff at Red State Blue State writes RE the NL Cy Young Award:

Yeah, I am biased, but I still really believe Wainwright was better than Lincecum this year. He was a horse. Great numbers AND win totals. If he wins that last game to get to 20 wins on the season we aren't having this conversation. The writers are in love with Timmeh and that's fine... but dissin' Waino (and Carp to some extent) like that is still pretty shocking.

The consensus is that the missed 20th was the deciding factor in many voters looking at other aspects in casting their vote. I still would've gone Lincecum, I think.


Joe at Statistician Magician writes:

Keith Law is a god amongst mere mortals.

So Joe, you disappear for four months into some bizarre state of suspended animation; ignoring uncharacteristic wonderment on my part (I wouldn't say concern----I know nothing of such things) of your whereabouts via email; and you only resurface when I mention Keith Law?

You're going to have to go a bit further than this to re-enter the good graces of my Family. Jeff already wants to bring down the hammer. I'm vacillating. You have until the end of January to redeem yourself. Use the window wisely.


Jeff said...

The Red Sox can have Holliday. Would the Cardinals be a player in the Bay sweepstakes?

Joe -- Use the window... wisely.

She-Fan said...

I'm not in favor of the Yankees signing Lackey for many reasons, not the least of which is his dismal record at Fenway.