Friday, January 22, 2010

Ah, The Pirates; Ugh, The Royals

  • Ah, the Pirates:

The Pirates are in a league of their own when it comes to cluelessness.

What other explanation can you formulate for a team that needed offense desperately and decided that Akinori Iwamura and Ryan Church were the answers to this problem? For a team that needed a veteran starting pitcher to mentor the youngsters and have yet to get one in a favorable market? For a team that had a decent bullpen last year and chose to spend their limited resources to overpay for a journeyman (Brendan Donnelly) and a veteran who struggles when he closes (Octavio Dotel)?


Never mind the fact that they intend to give Dotel a chance to close when they already have a closer with All Star stuff in Joel Hanrahan; never mind that they non-tendered their erstwhile closer, Matt Capps; nor that they felt that Iwamura and Church were upgrades for a lineup that was last in the Majors in scoring----ignore all of that. All you have to do is take a look at what the successful teams who have limited resources do to fill the holes the Pirates think they "filled" and you'll see how backwards things are in Pittsburgh.

The Marlins and Rockies never spend lavishly on the bullpen, yet are consistently finding fill-ins to get the job done cheaply and effectively. Is this an accident? Spending a lot of money on middle relievers and mediocre-to-bad closers never works; it's always a mistake. Even teams with money like the Yankees are shying away from bringing in the Mike Gonzalez-type of pitcher who absolutely would've been a perfect fit for them.

So why are the Pirates so insistent of signing Donnelly, who has use for a contender, but not for the Pirates and not for a guaranteed $1.5 million? And Dotel for $3.5 million when they already have someone who can close (Hanrahan) and cut loose another pitcher who could close (Capps)?

Oh, and I have news for the Pirates----Hanrahan is better than Dotel!!! For what reason do the Pirates, with no chance whatsoever at contention, need to use Octavio Dotel to close when they must have a look at their in-house options like Hanrahan?

Any team spending on the bullpen needs to spend on the closer; get a good set-up man; and bring in fill-ins who have shown a propensity for getting outs once through the lineup or have one pitch that can dominate for a short burst. Spending as they have on Donnelly and Dotel; trading for Iwamura and signing Church aren't moves designed to improve the club on the field; they're moves to have trading chips at mid-season as the club stays on the road they've been on for the last seventeen years, that being the road to nowhere.

That's why they're the Pirates.

  • Ugh, the Royals:

Rick Ankiel?

The Royals didn't learn their lesson in one-dimensional players who do little other than hit the occasional homer after they traded the golden arm of Leo Nunez for Mike Jacobs (and subsequently non-tendered Jacobs after his horrific 2009) and decided to bring in someone worse than Jacobs in Rick Ankiel for $3.25 million. For what?

The Royals starting pitching has great potential; they needed bullpen help and a bat. They've gotten no bullpen help; for bats and they've brought in Ankiel and Scott Podsednik. For what?

There's no explanation for this other than shopping just to shop; other than seeing something what's been sitting on the shelf for so long----and that no one in whom any team with half-a-brain had interest in----and grabbing it just because it was there; and they paid said item well with over $3 million! If they were getting Ankiel for $800,000, why not? Take a risk on him; but for $3.25 million?


  • Doing the "right" thing isn't always doing the "smart" thing:

Let's see if I understand this correctly.

The Phillies couldn't afford to keep Cliff Lee, but they're going to pay Joe Blanton and Jamie Moyer nearly $15 million for 2010? And they've locked up Blanton through 2012 at $8 million per?

I have no problem with Joe Blanton; but he's a mid-to-back-of-the-rotation innings eater. He throws strikes; he guts his way through; but his stuff is average. He's okay; no more, no less; and when he's not on his game, he gets blasted. Is Moyer even going to be able to pitch this year? Or is that going to be another sunk cost like the Adam Eaton disaster from a couple of years ago?

The Phillies also signed a contract extension with Shane Victorino for a 3-year extension at $22 million. This is the latest in a winter of bizarre and ill-thought-out decisions by the Phillies.

Placido Polanco? $18 million guaranteed.

Jimmy Rollins? Declining and had his contract option for 2011 exercised out of fear of his mouth more than anything else----$8.5 million for 2011.

Danys Baez? Guaranteed $5.25 million through 2011.

Just add all these dollars up and you start to wonder why they were so insistent that they didn't have the money to sign Lee and trade for Roy Halladay.

There's showing guts and doing something outside the box; and there's doing weird and safe things to keep intact a club that has holes. Phillies young GM Ruben Amaro Jr is looking increasingly overmatched and afraid to do what's right over what looks good and is more easily explainable. From the end of the season onward, he's made one questionable move----financially and practically----after another.

And the Phillies are going to pay for them-----financially and practically.


  • I said this stuff already, Part II:

In case you missed it yesterday, Buster Olney was a month behind me in putting into writing my confusion at the Phillies decision----The Phillies Sign Their Own Death Warrant----to trade Lee for Halladay; and if you'd like to hear my "sexy raspy voice" (not my words) expressing said bewilderment, check out my Podcast appearance on SportsFanBuzz last week and I said the same thing.

  • Viewer Mail 1.22.2010:

Jeff (Underboss) at Red State Blue State writes RE the Phillies and Joel Pineiro:

No doubt on the Phillies' death warrant! Last night on the MLB Network, Heyman, Verducci and Rosenthal got into a discussion about this... so I wouldn't be surprised if Olney was rippin' from those guys! Ha! What a doof...

I have to disagree on Pineiro though. In my opinion, the man IS a Dave Duncan reclamation product and that's just based on what I've seen plus his stat lines. Before last year, you have to go to the 2001-2003 stretch with the Mariners to find comparable, good seasons.

I could care less how Lackey does in Boston, but I would be very surprised if he didn't have a better year than Pineiro.

What good is an opinion if it's expressed a month after the fact? They're just lazy or idiotic at ESPN and I've had enough of it. Consensus out of convenience is for the weak.

With Pineiro, there was a foundation of a good pitcher prior to his involvement with Duncan; Duncan refined Pineiro into what he was last year and, in opposition to the likes of Jeff Suppan and Kent Bottenfield----who weren't any good before or after Duncan----I think Pineiro will be able to transfer that success to the Angels. He'll at least repeat the majority of his numbers from last year and I think more.

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Jerry Hairston Jr:

Jerry Hairston Jr. had his big moment in the sun when he lucked out and won a WS with the Yankees. He can dine out on that for years, but to comment publicly on any team's plans is a little much.

I doubt we'll be hearing too much out of Jerry Jr in the coming months. I can't imagine he didn't hear about that from Brian Cashman and others he saw fit to discuss out of school.

Gabriel (Capo) writes RE the Mets:

I wanted to tell you that the Mets should pursue Barajas. He handles pitchers very well (excellent years for Tallet and Romero) and he can hit.

I think Lackey will be hit hard during the first months in Boston. I don't think the Sox's defense is up to par with Angels'.

The problem with Barajas is that he'll cost a first round pick. I don't think he's worth that.

I like Lackey, but Pineiro will be a fine replacement for him; and that "off" feeling I'm getting with the Red Sox extends to the Lackey signing.

Kyle Johnson writes RE the Angels:

With the addition of Joel Pineiro the Angels now have five quality No. 2 & 3 pitchers, but no dominate ace in the staff. Could this lack of a "go to guy" become a problem durring the final push for a play off spot or in the play offs themselves. Where do you think the Angels starting rotation ranks amongst the other top organizations?

The Angels have never had that dominator at the top of their rotation and have functioned fine. Their playoff failures have had more to do with bullpen meltdowns and lack of execution than anything else. They've always been a "sum-of-parts" team than rather than one that was top-heavy with stars.

I'd prefer to have the Angels rotation of Jered Weaver, Joe Saunders, Ervin Santana, Scott Kazmir, Pineiro than what the Diamondbacks have (for example) with Brandon Webb and Dan Haren or the Mariners with Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee----and questions following them. I'd definitely feel more comfortable with what the Angels have than what the Red Sox are planning with a back-rotation including Daisuke Matsuzaka and Tim Wakefield.

The one team whose rotation appears stronger----apart from the Yankees----is the White Sox. Jake Peavy followed by Gavin Floyd, John Danks, Mark Buehrle is tough to beat in-season and in a short series.

Those that are counting out the Angels due to the flashy moves of the Mariners and the rise of the Rangers are doing so at their own risk and ignoring what it is the Angels have built. Their template and consistency should be respected by now, yet in some circles it isn't----to the peril of those that choose to ignore it based on numbers.


She-Fan said...

Congrats on Gary Matthews Jr. I guess he'll be a nice bat for the Mets, although he didn't get much playing time with the Angels, did he? And you forgot the biggest deal of all for the Royals: Wilson Betemit! LOL.

Bravesbloggerinlawschool said...

So you've correctly went on a few times about how teams value questionable prospects perhaps too much these days to their detriment. Also, how the "super-prospect label" gets applied to far too many players in the minors.

So when I read these minor league stats and scouting reports I thought "now that is a real prospect"

First full season in the minors, 18 years old, single A: .277, .372 OBP, .512 SLUG, 41 doubles, 5 triples, 25 homers, 104 runs, 100 RBI, and 56 SB. Also, a scout was quoted about his defense "best defensive player in MiLB, regardless of position. Could be best defensive OF in MLB, right now. Best CF arm in minors, best OF range in minors, best CF instincts in minors, dives for ball better than any player I've seen at any level ever. Has bigger impact on game from a defensive standpoint that any player I've ever scouted.

Then the next year, 19 YO, 2nd full season in minors: began that season in Class A, where he had 17 homers, 16 stolen bases and a 1.024 OPS in 86 games.

After being promoted to Double-A that summer, he played even better, hitting .369 with 12 homers, 37 RBI and 12 steals in 38 games, with a 1.107 OPS.

And after being promoted to Triple-A five weeks later, hit .378 with five homers, 12 RBI and a 1.213 OPS in 12 games. (ie not only did he tear it up, he improved in a single year every time he went up a level in the minors).

Player? Andruw Jones

Has there ever been a borderline HOF player who possibly didn't live up to his potential?