Statistics in baseball are great. They give us a number, or multiple numbers that allow us to evaluate a players talent, without having to watch him play every day. This is very convenient, as even the most ardent baseball fan cannot watch every player in baseball play, every day.
- Adrian Beltre
- Robinson Cano
- Josh Hamilton
- Felix Hernandez
- Cliff Lee
Hall of Famer Derek Jeter wipes his cleats with players like Yunel Escobar. Not literally, of course. But Jeter is a classy player, who seemingly never lapses mentally. He commands respect from fans, teammates, and everyone else that has ever seen him play. And he has produced numbers that rival only the greatest shortstops to ever play this game.
1) Boston Red Sox: Like the Yankees, as some may have heard, the Red Sox have an advantage, in regards to money. It isn’t quite in the same class, but is above most other teams. They can cover up mistakes like Julio Lugo and Wily Mo Pena. And they can go out and pay $10 million for a guy like Adrian Beltre, all but admitting they overpaid by a year or two with a player like Mike Lowell.
But the emphasis on the Farm, and the ability to let veteran players walk –typically — has helped this team find a lot of success in recent seasons. They have not only brought up players such as Pedroia and Lester, they have locked them up to very club-friendly contracts. And their free agent acquisitions have been mostly positive outside of Julio Lugo, since the 2006 season ended (A year in which they learned a lot).
Theo Epstein is given a lot of credit, but the organization as a whole, is what deserves to be praised.
And three straight years with at least 95 wins doesn’t hurt either.
2) St. Louis Cardinals: Say whatever you want about the Cardinals, but they know how to get things done. Seven of the past ten seasons, they have experienced postseason play. And in one of those years, they won a World Series.
Granted, that team might be the worst team to ever win a World Series, and is probably the best example of the negatives that the Wild Card system beholds. But this came right after a couple seasons in which the Cardinals were a force — including one season where they won an MLB high, 105 games.
Another positive is that they do not spend a ton of money doing what they do. They are definitely not a large market team, or at least do not exercise their “large market” muscles.
But if there is a weakness, it is a relatively weak Farm system, as they emptied it out for veterans last year.
But this franchise is a very successful one. And even the back-end of Matt Holliday’s should not slow them down too much.
3) New York Yankees: The Yankees have a competitive advantage. Anyone who denies that is oblivious. But it is so difficult to weigh in how much of their success is attributed to that “advantage,” and how much of it is due to simply being smart at all matters that are baseball. For example: This season, they made two smart trades, on paper. But both of those trades had something to do with acquiring a player — albeit a good one — that was simply not financially suitable for the team that originally controlled them.
On the other hand, the organization has been very smart lately, in proving that they care about the Farm system. Keeping Phil Hughes, Joba, and a few others has not paid immediate dividends, like they would have hoped. But they at least displayed an ability to stress the importance of a strong system. Because the highest payroll AND prospects that are waiting for their shot, well, that is how you build a superpower.
4) LA Angels: Forget their identity crisis, the one that involves changing which city they wish to represent. This franchise is pretty much as good as it can get. They have combined the lost art of “small ball,” with what seems like a new found “ability” to care about On base percentage. They were smart about letting free agents Chone Figgins and John lackey walk. As they chose to shed some payroll, and get younger. Not that either of those players were poor signings for their current teams, just that an organization has to make unpopular decisions sometimes. And neither of those players, while good, were truly great by any means.
Their constant abuse of Jeff Mathis — which continues, by letting him hit — is somewhat bewildering. But they believe in what they believe in. And when you are talking about success Every. Single. Year. Then I guess stubbornness can be beneficial.
Their Farm isn’t great. And as Keith Law describes it, most of their upside guys are residing in the lower levels. But one accumulates talent by gaining draft picks. And that is what the Angels did this season, by letting their free agents walk.
You could make a case that the organization could be getting even better, by emphasizing draft picks, letting players in their thirties walk more frequently, and acquiring patient hitters that can get on base more often.
But the practice seems good. The future, however, will explain if they apply this consistently or not.
5) Minnesota Twins: Forget the statistics, this organization knows how to win. I am on board with the Sabermetric generation. But that is not the only way to make the playoffs. And the Twins seemingly make the playoffs every year.
Proof to those hard-core stat lovers, that numbers aren’t everything. Which means, the Twins are perfect for a guy like me. I love the numbers, and they show me why there is more to baseball, than simply formulas.
The Twins made what looks to be a gaffe in trading Matt Garza for Delmon Young. And they definitely did not get enough in return for the best pitcher in baseball at the time in Johan Santana.
But they simply find a way to get things done. And now since the organization is willing to spend more than the average team, they can actually entertain the idea of locking up their own stars. Something that will make winning much easier in the future. But with this newfound ability to spend, they cannot make poor decisions. It is easy to spend when the money is there, it is not as easy to spend wisely.
6) Philadelphia Phillies: Although I disagree with letting Cliff Lee get away, via their own decision to trade him. I have to give credit to the Phillies for having been so successful in recent seasons. They have, of course, been to the World Series in back-to-back seasons. And there isn’t much evidence against them returning for a third time. After all, they are still as good as any team in the National League. And, although flawed, they are still good enough to play at a very high level.
Their farm is definitely much lower than a front office would want though. They are as “win-now” as it gets. And that is why keeping Cliff Lee would have been a smart move. But they didn’t keep him, and now they are not as good as they could have been, AND the farm is still somewhat weak, comparatively.
One thing they did well, was making sure that if they traded away young, cheap talent for Roy Halladay, that they were damn well going to keep him long-term. And that was one of the important aspects of the tr
ade. Make sure that Halladay is wearing a Phillies uniform beyond 2010.
7) Tampa Bay Rays: I am not as high on the Rays recent success, as many others are. Mostly due to the fact they have only had two years of actual success. They drafted high, and it paid off. Being bad paid off. But it wasn’t all luck, give them credit for picking players that can actually play. After all, the Royals haven’t turned their failures into this kind of success.
The organization also rid themselves of potential distractions with players like Delmon Young, Elijah Dukes, and Josh Hamilton. They have displayed a cutthroat attitude with personalities, kind of like the Red Sox have shown — but with aging veterans.
It is one thing to let a guy like Manny Ramirez linger around in the clubhouse. A guy that is a Hall of Fame player, and one the team will suffer greatly without — in most cases. But it is a completely different scenario when the player in question has never done anything relevant at the big league level AND has shown a knack for being a cancer in the intangibles area.
8: Florida Marlins: The Marlins might be the most difficult team to rank, in all of baseball. They appear to be successful overall, two championships in merely seventeen years of existence. And they happen to have the lowest payroll in baseball most years.
But the fact is that they have not even made the playoffs since 2003. So while they deserve some credit for doing more with less, and ultimately bringing home World Series trophies in two different years. They also deserve some blame for missing the playoffs every year.
Nevertheless, their body of work is impressive. They win games — not enough — but they win. And to say that money doesn’t affect their overall success level, would be a fallacy.
This front office is great at acquiring young talent. And they are particularly great at knowing how to rid of their stars at the right time.
Sure, they could lock up a player like Miguel Cabrera if they wanted to, I suppose. But they know that he will take up way too much money, hindering their surrounding moves. Therefore, they dispose of him, trying to stock up the Farm system even more.
The Marlins are a great story, for sure.
9) Oakland Athletics: One of the A’s great strengths, are also one of their weaknesses. They have a knack for dispersing their money well — in a sense — where they avoid overpaying on the back-end of contracts. But that same “strength” can also be frowned upon, as they always seemed to be missing that one guy that could get them over the hump. Not to mention, they many times avoid paying a lot for a known good player, and instead pay much less for a gamble. But Eric Chavez could be why they have not spent big in some time, as the funds simply may not be available to take on a potentially disastrous contract.
One of the knocks on Beane has been for his inability to develop a hitter. And that is a very good point. But he is awesome at finding and acquiring young pitching. Brett Anderson being another example of a guy that could soon dominate.
The A’s can not be summed up in Beane alone, as they seemed to be credited to Beane alone when things were going well in the early part of the decade. He had help then, and he has “help” now. The problem that many small market teams have — And I continually will stress this — is that the well willrun dry. Prospects will be harder to find within the system, and draft picks will not turn into gold as often as the once did, or once will. If the money isn’t there, then the solutions aren’t as easy to find.
But after a while, Beane, who is a good GM, will have to start taking the blunt of the blame. And the Coco Crisp’s of the world are nothing more than complementary players.
Either someone’s wallet must open, or something must change in the way they develop and draft.
10) Colorado Rockies: The Rockies are actually very good at this baseball thing. They went to a World Series just a few years back, and now have one of the better Farm systems in baseball. Not to mention, they have a lot of talent at the Major League level. They have not won it all, ever. But they know what they are doing.
They have built a solid foundation, with Tulowitzki, Jimenez, and others used as anchors. And the org has avoided making disastrous decisions of late, something that many other teams cannot avoid, even teams higher on this list.
11) Atlanta Braves: The Braves took a lot of criticism for not making the playoffs for four consecutive seasons…After appearing there 14 straight seasons in which, you know, the seasons were actually completed (1994).
Now, after facing failure, they are back near the top again. They have a very strong farm system, and have enough talent at the highest level to compete for the time being. Locking up Chipper Jones was very questionable, but it isn’t difficult to understand why a team throws more money than they should at the face of the franchise.
The Braves however, are far from mistake free. Take the Chipper extension out, and they still traded multiple prospects for only a few months of Mark Teixeira — in a year that Tex wouldn’t be able to compensate for the lack of talent, that the big league club employed. They signed Derek Lowe, and ultimately had to trade Javier Vazquez to dump salary, in part because they signed Lowe in the first place. Although to be fair, Lowe isn’t a bad option. It wasn’t as though they were downgrading from Vazquez to Tim Redding. But Vazquez > Lowe.
But the point is, teams will experience down times. The Braves were on top for seemingly forever, then they were down — not miserable. And now, with the right moves, they can continue to trend upward once again.
12) Cleveland Indians: The Indians are going through what the A’s taught us every small market will go through: They will rebuild. The team actually did exactly what they should have done this off-season’s free agent market; they stayed away.
See, their division counterpart — The Royals — would have tried to make a splash, when a splash wasn’t needed — or wasn’t even present for that matter (See: Jose Guillen and Kyle Farnsworth).
Mark Shapiro knows what he is doing, and he knows that more pieces must be present in order for the Indians to do something. Something worthwhile. They traded two of their three best, most accomplished players just last August. There was no room for an impatient GM, one that would have tried to make an impactful move or two, when they weren’t really in the teams financial structures. Or philosophical structure for that matter. There was nothing realistically available on this free agent market to turn the Indians into serious contenders. They either could not afford to cough up the money, or the prospects (via trade).
All of the prospects they have been accumulating, from past trades, will help the organization. Some of them will fa
il, but every club suffers from the “prospect-fail” syndrome. They now have some young talent, and really only one albatross contract to deal with.
The worst thing to do would be to panic. And based on what has been done, the front office doesn’t look like they will be doing that any time soon.
13) Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers have a lot of success. But their avoidance of pitching is almost embarrassing. They have a rotation mixed up of veteran journeymen and young, promising arms. The problem is that no one knows what to expect out of Kershaw and Billingsley this year. And everyone knows what to expect out of Padilla, and Weaver, and others that shall be nameless.
They needed a pitcher. They failed to get one. Sure, the division is weak, but the team failed this offseason.
The club doesn’t have a great farm, and they have a good, but flawed Major League club. That is how I justify this ranking.
14) Texas Rangers: The Rangers have come a long, long way. They now have baseball’s best Farm System. And they have some money to spend, when they need to. The money part has been around, for the organization, for quite some time. But the ability to have players coming up at seemingly every position for the next few years, well, that was definitely not available four or five years back. And of course, it may not be available five years from now. But right now, this team is loaded for the future.
The reason they are lower, even with such a strong farm, is what have they accomplished? They have set themselves up for future success, but they have not actually done anything, other than win more games than they lost last season. They can’t be put extremely high simply because they have a bunch of good prospects. Winning at the Major League level matters a lot as well.
With that being said, there are few teams I would like to be for the next few years, then the Rangers. Will I be saying that in five years though? Because I definitely was not saying it five years before this…
15) Chicago White Sox: Say what you will about this franchise, but they have found success in being different. Their moves never seem to make sense, until hindsight is allowed to take over.
Take, for example, their absorbing the contract of Alex Rios. Everyone around baseball, and its surrounding areas, questioned the move. Why would they want to pay for a player with so many questions? But this is the kind of move Kenny Williams has thrived upon during his tenure.
The club always finds guys that can pitch some, and seem to make them even better. And we know that their ability to teach the “Cutter,” is one reason for this.
They mix and match good players, players any club would want, with other players that no one would touch. Carlos Quentin is good, and they brought him in when he was a questionable acquisition — albeit, a very talented one. And they have John Danks, Jake Peavy, etc.
But who really wants Juan Pierre starting on their team? I know that if I were a GM, I would not. Even as a fan, I would not. Nothing more than a 4th outfielder.
The one aspect of building a team that they seem to be failing at, currently, is down on the Farm. Their “Farm” is far from impressive and in the lower tier.
This must change, one would think. But the team will find a way. Whether it is thinking outside the box, or whatever, they will probably find a way to stay afloat.
Unfortunately, “afloat’ isn’t great for Kenny Williams’ job security. So a few good years must be mixed in. And if the team runs dry, they only have themselves to blame.
16) Seattle Mariners: The Mariners are everyone’s darling lately, and rightfully so. But for every Franklin Gutierrez, there seems to be a Mike Sweeney mixed in. And for each Cliff Lee, there is a Ken Griffey Jr.
But the two DH options mentioned, are rumored to be preferences of the higher-ups, even higher up than the GM happens to be.
The organization, fundamentally, has done a very good job since they rid of the past decision makers. We will not mention his name. They stress defense, locking up young players brought up through the organization, who are, more importantly, skilled as well. And they of course value pitching. One might think they don’t care about as offense as much as they should, but that is ludicrous. They just don’t have the options that they should have. This because of mistakes a few years back, which have little to do with Jack Z. (And I say little, because unfortunately, they do affect him now). The Mariners attempted to solve part of their offensive problem by trading Carlos Silva, who was close to useless, for Milton Bradley. Whether that works out or not, is yet to be seen. But the move was a good one, because Bradley’s upside is much greater than Silva’s — who simply did not have any upside.
If the organization is limiting Zduriencik’s power, by forcing him to play these aging vets, then that needs to “cease to exist.” When a team goes out to find someone to do the job of a general manager, then they need to actually let him do that job. Having Bradley play in left, while AB’s are wasted, well, there is no excuse for that.
17) Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers do one thing well, they play within their means. You probably won’t see them overpaying for anyone, because they lack the funds, and choose not to do so. But their system is, according to Keith Law, lacking in pitching. And since their current rotation is lacking in quality arms, one wonders where they are going to come from. They could trade Prince Fielder, but that would set the club back now. Or they could lock him up and hope the right free agents fall into their lap, at the right price.
Either way, they must choose a direction to go in. Because they are kind of in limbo right now.
18) Detroit Tigers: The Tigers have been made a mockery lately. They seem to be intrigued by guys that can throw hard, especially relievers. They are actually underrated in the defense-first era (A rebirth), that seemed to start with the Mariners. But remember, the Tigers were the ones that traded Edgar Renteria and replaced him with Adam Everett. They fielded one of the better defensive infields in baseball at the time. Being efficient defensively, was the route they chose.
Financially, they have made far too many mistakes to be any higher on this list. The Dontrelle Willis extension was completely unwarranted. They had what looked like a decent fifth starter when they bought low on Willis. It turned out much worse. But regardless, the contract was one of the worst decisions in recent memory.
Magglio Ordonez wasn’t as big of a disaster. But right now, he is proving why too many years, and too much money can be a very bad id
ea. At least Ordonez gave them some good years, however. Something that Willis never did do.
It’s easy to say they are a failure of late, because of the money committed to players that are not all that great anymore. But it is also easy to overlook the fact the organization has actually been a success the latter half of the this past decade.
19) New York Mets: The Mets struggle for a large market team. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2006, and fundamentally, they are flawed. They do, of course, have a very good core, and are keen at locking those type of players up. But that core isn’t enough. And the organization is sub-par at building around this core.
For example: They traded for Luis Castillo in 2007. Ok. The trade wasn’t that bad, as they needed someone to fill the position. But then they went and extended his contract, which at the time was a bad move, and became even worse as more time passed.
Their avoidance of filling out rotation spots, with quality, is just another problem, in what is a long line of problems. The logical next step for the organization would be to clear the front office and start over. And even a guy like Carlos Beltran could be used as trade bait, as great as he is, because the Mets couldn’t surround him well enough during his prime in New York.
20) San Francisco Giants: Pitching, pitching, pitching. They definitely have it. But they don’t address the offense properly. Lincecum, Cain, and Sanchez is nice. But Pablo Sandoval, and well, that’s it, isn’t so compelling.
The Giants are still feeling the effects of mistakes past; Barry Zito, trading away young talent for veteran pieces. But they are okay at the Major League level, and okay at the lower levels. It could be worse I guess.
Just remember, Barry. This team suffered for you. They are still feeling the negative impact of building around you, year after year…
21) Chicago Cubs: Staying with the high priced, yet failing organization theme…
Everyone wants the Cubs to do well. Well, everyone that isn’t a fan of one of their rivals. The problem is that they do not know how to run a franchise properly. Alfonso Soriano was a mistake the day he signed, and it is only going to become more and more evident every single year of his contract. They overpay for questionable veterans; Fukudome, Bradley. And they trade away prospects for guys that simply are not impact players.
They now are paying Soriano, Carlos Silva, and Fukudome big-time money, for not being big time players.
They now have started to replenish the Farm (Hopefully it turns out well). But they now must play the waiting game. .500 ball isn’t too far off their true talent level, and they have albatross contracts to deal with. It could be worse, as they could be in the Astros position. But given their distinct financial advantage over most teams, it could be much better.
22) Cincinnati Reds: The Reds might be higher…if they had made the playoffs even once since 1995. The club is making strides in the right direction. But they must continue in doing so.
The next step must be to rid of Dusty Baker. Look, I know that it is fun to point the finger at Baker all the time in the Sabermetrics community, but this is serious. They have a lot of young arms, and Baker has the most questionable track record — in regards to young arms — in the biz. If one does not agree with Baker’s philosophy on how to score runs, then that is something different. It is understandable why this is, but they are simply differing philosophies.
Bring in a manager that has a keen sense for younger players. And bring him as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, if Baker wasn’t fired before the season, he probably won’t be let go until after. Because when managing this current crop of talent, it should not be expected to have anything more than limited success. And by limited I mean 81-84 wins, realistically.
23) Arizona Diamondbacks: The Diamondbacks have depleted their system acquiring players such as Dan Haren. They made a mistake by signing Eric Byrnes, and they have a team that is decent, but is very flawed in certain areas.
What the team did in 2001, has virtually no baring on what they should be ranked now. They have some solid pieces, but what Justin Upton and Dan Haren do, isn’t what the team will do. In other words, those guys should do what they do, and do it very well. But two players having success doesn’t translate into enough wins to make the playoffs. If their Farm was better, then they would be higher. But it isn’t better, and they are questionable as to how good they are at the Major League level anyway.
24) San Diego Padres: The Padres are a tough one. They are bottom-feeders now. But they have a promising farm system, and won 89 games just three seasons back. Plus, they employ all of our favorite stat-buddies, which makes us think they will turn the franchise around eventually.
Whether they trade away Adrian Gonzalez probably doesn’t make a huge difference, not like some of us think it does. The most important thing is to draft right, accumulate picks, and accumulate prospects. If they keep Adrian Gonzalez, then worst case scenario, they have a really good player making millions of dollars. One could argue either way, as to what they should do.
Jed Hoyer was a great acquisition. But just because he was part of a successful front office, does not necessarily make him a shoe-in to do his current job well. We have seen other GM’s have success, allow their helpers to get away, only for those “helpers” to have a tough time out on their own. This could happen again.
But it is much better than the direction they could have headed, that is certain.
25) Baltimore Orioles: The Orioles, under the current regime, have made great strides these past few years. They traded a veteran pitcher for a very good, young, and cheap return. And they have stocked up on young pitching. They also showed a willingness to make smart decisions. See: Nick Markakis extension. They have avoided any potential contract disasters lately. And now seem to have shown the propensity to try and build, rather than try and spend with clubs they will never be able to spend with.
Three of the four up the middle positions, are under contract for multiple seasons. Showing that they might be adept at concentrating on the middle of the field, which is always a good idea.
But to be honest, their moves at the corner infield spots have been nothing short of perplexing. Maybe they saw potential trade bait when brining in Tejada and Atkins. I see two players that really don’t have all that much ability to play this game a high level anymore, especially Atkins.
Nevertheless, they are a team trending upward, and have the ability to make some noise in the coming years.
26) Toronto Blue Jays: Ricciardi put the Blue Jays in a precarious situation. They had a team that could compete, but couldn’t compete well enough. His tenure was not bad, necessarily, but it could have been better.
As many have noted in the past, the club, because of its front office, had sort of an identity crisis. They spent on free agents, and made the kind of mistakes a large market team could make, but they simply could not absorb these mistakes, as other teams could. Vernon Wells is a prime example. They had the right idea, up-the-middle player, solid hitter = lock him up. But the money and years were way, way out of their price range for a player that was never really a truly great player to begin with. And because the previous regime made the mistake of inking Wells for too much, the current employees now have to deal with that.
They traded Doc Halladay. They traded Alexis Rios. And both are great moves — undisputed great moves. Rios was to shed payroll, and he wasn’t all that good to begin with. And Halladay was to avoid future payroll, and allow the team to acquire young talent, which should help the 2012-13 teams — teams that should be better built for the long haul.
The Jays currently lack that “identity crisis.” They have a new identity, and it is in their rebuilding. And that is the best thing the org could have done after failing to build properly via free agency, in past years.
27) Houston Astros: The Astros are a prime example of a team with money, that does things the wrong way.
They had some success in the front half of the decade, but now they suffer from a depleted farm system, and a Major League team that is full of veterans, who just aren’t good enough to make any noise. The idea is to spend money, when you have it, but also to have a solid core that will one day help bring success. Win now, win later. Pretty simple. But the Astros do not win now, and unless they unload near untradeable veterans (No trade clauses) then the future will be rough as well.
Seriously, the only thing that will save this team is if they move Oswalt, Lee, Berkman, and others. Then absorb some of the money from those players, and hope the prospects in return pan out.
The team has a lot of work to do. And it may — yet again — be only a clearing of house to do what needs to be done.
28) Washington Nationals: The Nationals were an embarrassment just a few years back. They had just relocated, because Montreal didn’t care enough for a baseball team. And they had arguably the worst GM in the game.
Not to mention, they were terrible.
But things have changed. They are still terrible at the Major League level. But they have started to put together a foundation, a solid one at that. The club has had a knack for taking on risky players; Milledge, Dukes, to name a few. But none have worked out. However, they didn’t give up much to get those players. And they were definitely risks worthy of being taken, for a team so far out of contention that golfing sounded like more fun than baseball.
Stephen Strasburg is not a savior to the franchise. But he could be a large part of saving future embarrassment, if they surround him with the right parts.
They now have to decide what to do with players like Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham. Because flipping them to a contender makes a lot of sense, for a non-contender.
29) Pittsburgh Pirates: Really, the only debate with the Pirates is which spot they should occupy out of the last three.
The org has traded away good, Major League players, and really doesn’t have too much — this side of Andrew McCutchen — to show for it.
And as a matter of fact, I have had no problem jumping from depth chart to depth chart, via ESPN, during the writing process. The only team that didn’t load properly, was the Pirates on their first try. For a second, the “Worldwide Leader” didn’t even know they existed.
But seriously, the Pirates have been dismal for a long, long time. The things they do well? Not much, to be honest. But they are at least able to part with veterans, even though they haven’t really acquired much to replace them. But buying low on prospects, can only bring them so far. They need guys that have actual value. Guys that will most undoubtedly turn into solid Major League players. They have done okay recently, compared to how they were doing before. But they have a long way to go, philosophically.
30) Kansas City Royals: The Royals franchise needs to desperately step back and take a look in the mirror. They have some nice pieces, mostly pitchers, but they are far from being continuous threats, year in and year out. The don’t emphasize On base percentage, which is the way a team scores runs. And they overpay for mediocrity — sometimes even overpay for bad.
Jose Guillen is a prime example for an organization that just doesn’t know what they should be doing. They bring in a head-case, who is a corner outfielder, that isn’t very good, on a team that is terrible. And the guy just came into the season after being named in ‘The Mitchell Report,” and was now going to help mentor young players?
This was easily one of the worst moves that I have ever witnessed.
But aside from that, they try and build a team through the free agent market, more than they should. The farm should be stressed more so for all teams, especially the teams that aren’t capable of spending in the top few tiers. The Royals made some strides in this area, but they keep wasting on money on free agents — in particular, the wrong free agents.
The club either needs to learn from their mistakes very soon, or change the personnel that resides overhead. Unfortunately, based on what we’ve seen, a change will probably be the only thing that can fix what has been a dismal franchise for several seasons now.
This is the one small market front office that I really don’t feel all that bad for.
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If there were any truth to this rumor, is would be a fireable offense on the Cardinals side of things.
Rumors are just that, rumors. Okay, I know that, you know that. Pujols and Ryan Howard know that. Everyone around baseball knows that.
But the thing is; why would this even be entertained? Even if it were real, why would the Cardinals want to do this?
It would be one thing if say, the Cards were pessimistic getting an extension done with Pujols, who had a year left on his contract. So they came up with this scenario where they could trade for Howard who has three years left on his agreement.
But that isn’t the scenario. Pujols has one season at $16 million, and a club option for 2011 at another $16.
Howard on the other hand, will be paid $19 million in 2010, and $20 mill in 2011.
So what they would be doing is exchanging one of the greatest players ever, for an inferior but still good player, who is MORE expensive.
Granted, part of the reason this would be an option, is because Howard would be able to be extended for less money than Pujols, therefore, keeping him more in the Cardinals financial range.
So let us say, the trade goes through, and part of the agreement is that Howard will extend his contract a few extra seasons. Maybe the Cardinals end up with Howard for five seasons vs. two with Pujols.
Maybe that makes it a little more understandable…
Except for this, as mentioned by someone on Twitter. After 2011, Howard is a free agent. Adrian Gonzalez is a free agent. Prince Fielder is a free agent. And the odds are, that one or more of those guys is actually STILL a free agent when the time rolls around.
So the Cardinals would be costing themselves wins for the time being, the next two years in particular. And they would have an opportunity to address the 1B position anyway, as there will be so many options by that time.
So yea, this rumor seems even stupider when examined further.
Trade hometown hero, who is the best player on the planet. And receive someone of the inferior, who is much more replaceable in the future.
It isn’t out of the question to trade Pujols if negotiations are going nowhere (Unless it is related to Matt Holliday in any way). But it IS out of the question to ever make a trade like this.
The idea of realignment in baseball has been floated around often, of late. And quite frankly, it is nonsense.
Not that it is nonsense, in the sense that it couldn’t happen. But that it is not needed. The reason one considers the divisions being shifted, mixed and jolted, is because of the more urgent issue: The Salary cap.
Major League Baseball would be trying to correct one problem, that is created because of another problem. Why not just correct the first problem?
Well, it isn’t that easy. I understand that. The players will not give in without a fight, as they don’t want to lose out on having sushi seven nights a week.
I kid, I kid.
But seriously, the players will obviously fight it, as they will take the hit financially.
But the reason, that say, The Orioles, need to change divisions, at least in some people’s eyes, is because they cannot compete with the Red Sox and Yankees. But this is because the Red Sox and Yankees have a load of money to spend, helping them (Not ensuring necessarily) find success.
The Orioles of course have money to spend, so I don’t really feel bad for them. But when compared to the top payrolls in the game, they still fall well short.
Now, before I go any further, I must address the Rays. The Rays are an example, in this particular division, that happen to have a small payroll and have competed in recent years. They have competed, that is a fact. Even won a division merely two seasons ago.
But they will run out of resources eventually. As great as their system is now, they will eventually run out of great, upcoming talent. The Red Sox and Yankees and can hide behind those “dry runs.” But the Rays won’t be able to. They will not always have Desmond Jennings’ waiting in the wings when Carl Crawford’s are about to leave. They can make all the right decisions they want, but drafting lower, and sheer luck will hinder their ability to have a monstrous farm system at all times.
And trust me, their system will get worse. And then it may get better again, but it WILL get worse.
The Red Sox don’t need to have a player waiting, although it is most logical to have this route as an option. As much emphasis as they do, and should put on having a strong farm, they don’t need it to be as strong all the time, as smaller market teams do.
If they were to lose a Carl Crawford, they can go get another player that is close to his talent. Whether it be at the same position, or at another position of need.
The Yankees can do the same thing, with even more ease.
So back to the subject at hand…Rather than shift all the divisions around, compromising even the smallest of rivalries, simply implement some kind of spending limit. It doesn’t have to be a number that is accessible by EVERY team. But it has to protect other teams from having to deal with the outliers.
For example, around $150 million would be a good “cap” for 2009. And eventually, teams will feel more comfortable throwing more money at players, if they know they won’t be blown out of the water by large market teams. With inflation, the “Cap” would go up, of course. But that is inflation, as we know, not anything of the unfair sort.
Moving the Orioles out of the AL East is not the right decision. Nor is it right to move anyone else around unless they are being moved because of their geography or whatever. Fix the more important issue, and this “realignment” issue, given time, will fix itself.
So Derek Jeter is potentially a free agent after the world shook a dozen times in the past few days. Now, after that constant shaking, and open discussion, everyone knows outside of Yankee land, that Jeter is a free agent after the upcoming season (as of now).
And I am sure that each and every Yankee fan is on board with giving him whatever he wants to keep him town. Whether that be four years, six years…Even the most logical Yankee fan might initially frown upon six years and tell Derek to take a hike. But would they really? Would they really rather him walk than pony up for six years, if that is in fact what Jeter required to stick around?
So, I get it. Not entirely, for I am not a Yankee fan. But I get why they want their captain to stay until he washes his uniform for the last time. Well, not him necessarily, as I expect people making as much money as Jeter does, don’t actually do laundry. But hypothetically, Jeter, when he “hangs up his cleats” (again not literally, as someone else will probably do it for him), he might be imagining his laundry being attacked by detergent one last time, ridding of the remnants of base-paths past.
But there is a serious, logical, and rather important question to be asked: How much is too much? Even for the Yankees, there must be boundaries on the amount of money they pay a single player, especially when a player is clearing their mid-thirties for most of the potential contract, right?
Put in a position of power, everyone within 20 feet of Derek Jeter for the past decade will probably give him everything he desires.
I wouldn’t. But maybe that is because my subjective hasn’t been tainted. However, in this case, that is probably a good thing. You throw this guy on the free agent market, and no one comes close to entertaining a six year offer. And anyone who reaches a four-year offer, outside of the Yankees, would most likely be hindering their club with the amount of money they would be dishing out.
Simply put, Jeter means a lot more than to the Yankees than he does to anyone else. He probably wouldn’t be worth more wins,, no matter where he plays, but there is more to this situation than that.
He is close to 3,000 hits, something that wouldn’t be the same in another uniform (something that wouldn’t be forgiven by Yankee fans either, if they had to watch it happen somewhere else). He was the biggest reason they won five World Series,’ at least from an individual standpoint. And he still has a distant — very distant — chance of reaching 4,000 hits. Oh, team leader, Mr. intangible, clubhouse god, all that good stuff.
Not to mention, Jeter will most likely throw a few good years our way, possibly great ones. And any fan that lives in the Bronx, or bleeds pinstripes, will be furiously saddened by watching anything he does well, in another uniform.
Speaking of ‘Bleeding Pinstripes.’ We need to sign a petition to get Geoff blogging again for the upcoming 2010 season. Sure, his opinion pissed me off a ton, and he lacked the statistical understanding that I believe in so much. But there was not a more entertaining blog, in my opinion. His writing was great, and although his opinion was partial to the Yankees, maybe too much for my sake. His blog was the best around.
So, this current situation being taken into account (Jeter) is more unique than any other in the game. Seriously, as Paul Lebowitz writes, there is no one that means more to an organization than Jeter.
Mauer is very important, but lacks the “history” that Jeter has accrued in his time in the big leagues. And of course, moving forward, Mauer will accumulate many more wins than Jeter. But just from a standpoint that losing Mauer is more understandable than losing Jeter, given respect to the teams being discussed. Money matters more in Minnesota.
Pujols is vital to the Cardinals. But he still falls a notch below Jeter, as far as what it would mean to lose him. Again, when money means more, there is more of an excuse.
Dustin Pedroia means a lot to the city, the fans and the organization. but come on, he has been a Major League player for three full seasons. Not to mention, we are fairly sure he finishes his career elsewhere, for that is just the way the Red Sox do business. And I am fine with that, although it is disappointing watching star players leave. It seems to be the best for business however. And winning exceeds any individual player.
With a payroll like the Yankees, it won’t really hinder their ability to win. But even with that, how much does one want to pay a player once they reach age 40?
From where I am sitting, no way I go over four years for The Captain. And even that, I seriously dwell on. But there is no pressure from where I am sitting. I am a fan of another team…and I write a blog. I don’t have to deal with the pressure coming from the ticket-holders. I don’t have to suffer the backlash watching “The franchise” walk away. And I definitely don’t have to deal with the New York media ripping me apart day in and day out, which I am sure takes its toll.
And after all that, I don’t have to watch the guy that has been the most important to his team for 13 years, and a guy, that by all accounts is a near-saint in between the lines. I wouldn’t have to watch him play elsewhere, as Cashman would have to.
So it really is a moot point. No one else will offer for even four years, for the amount the Yankees will. So of course, Jeter will be staying put, in the Bronx, where he belongs.
But that doesn’t mean that the other side of the spectrum should not be explored. After all, this is A LOT of money we are talking about…
Look, I know that I beat the “subject” of JD Drew into the ground, but I believe it is of baseball importance to do so.
But I just can’t get past the thought of some, and by some, I mean Rob Neyer and crew, advocating that JD Drew may become enshrined into Cooperstown, beside Willie Mays and Hank Aaron, among others.
Seriously, this debate has crossed my mind numerous times ever since I discovered the career ‘WAR’ numbers.
And those numbers suggest that Drew has an outside chance at gaining A LOT of support by the Sabermetric crew. And that crew is generally very smart, in that they tend to rely on evidence and what they believe in, the numbers.
However, if JD Drew accumulates, say, 3.0 ‘WAR’ a season, on average, for the next six years. Then he will end up with about 62 total wins. And that, my friends, is McGwire and Raines territory.
Now, with much evidence against Drew’s body actually holding up as he ages, we of course do not know if he will be able to average 3.0 ‘WAR’. Or for that matter, even be able to play another six seasons of 120-130 games a season.
And even if he plays, it is far from certain that he can average a 3.0 ‘WAR,’ although it is far from out of the question too.
But the fact is, Drew has 44 ‘Wins above replacement’ at this point in his career. That is a fact.
Now, less factual of course, is what that actually means. Many, including myself, feel it does mean a heck of a lot. And that number suggests that Drew has probably been underrated by many throughout his actual career, rather than his theoretical career. And by “theoretical,” I am referring to the one that many envisioned him as having. You know, 40 bombs a year, .3oo average, plate discipline that rivals the best to ever play, good defense, sufficient arm, etc, etc, etc.
But Drew didn’t turn out like that. He turned out to be a guy that does have some of the best plate discipline in the game, however probably not historically great — although that is not a fact by any means. He hits 20-25 homers, and doesn’t bat .300. Of course, his defense is well above-average at a corner spot in the outfield.
Many stat-guys might actually think more of him than I though. Because, well, the subjective is not present. Even from an expert standpoint, one cannot expect too many games to be seen for each team. It is is just too difficult to do. So my subjective nature will inherit somewhat different of an opinion. I see the guy day in and day out. I see that, although he is good, he simply is not great. In my opinion anyway.
But of course, saying “I see him every day” amongst the statistical community is merely unlocking a door to mockery. Because as I fully understand, seeing a player every day doesn’t really matter much when comparing all players. And for that reason, my preference would be to adhere to the statistics.
But I JUST CAN”T do it in this particular case, not if those statistics are going to tell me the Hall of Fame should be calling. No way.
And is it really so wrong, to let my subjective do some of the arguing? Is it wrong? No, because that is what makes this game so much fun. The game outside the game. Some use the “game within the game,” as being what makes baseball so intriguing and complex. And that too is important to the sport’s greatness. But the game outside of the game has meaning to me. And to me that means what goes on outside the lines. The debating at the “water cooler,” or in my case the beverage station. And even more so, much more so actually, the debating that happens in between my web cam and my mouse. If that makes any sense…
So I don’t think Drew is a great player. Maybe a few years of greatness, but nothing of historical sense. And nothing even close to being Cooperstown quality.
And know this, I am not using this as an argument for Drew based on Andre Dawson and Jim Rice. Because they are in, so be it. If Drew were compared to only the lowest, his case becomes more compelling. But my standards have nothing to do with Rice. He shouldn’t be in, not in my opinion anyway.
This however, has everything to do with what kind of Hall of Fame I believe in. And it should consist of only great players. I guess it is unrealistic to completely stray away from comparing candidates to those that are enshrined. But, and there should be a large period at the end of this next statement: A player must be great to be inducted, PERIOD.
So excuse me if I don’t believe in Drew’s greatness.
Anyhow, we know he won’t gain votes from the Jayson Stark’s of the world. We know Buster Olney doesn’t think much of JD. And in this sense, the RF is underrated. But, but, there will be guys checking the box next to the name of this fragile outfielder.
And that I cannot say I agree with.
Not at all.
But two “pieces” on this subject have probably exhausted the “subject” already 🙂
So I guess since I am a Red Sox fan I should address the Victor Martinez situation…
Look, signing players beyond 30 is always questionable. Luckily, the earlier they are in their 30’s, the less questionable it becomes.
But for example, giving Derek Jeter a 6 year, $100 million contract, would be stupid. He is turning 36 during this upcoming season. Never would I ever give a 6 year contract to a 36 year old player. And frankly, I do not care who the player in question is. From Albert Pujols to Alex Rodriguez.
But some have, rather seriously if I recall, entertained the idea that Jeter receives a contract of that nature.
But how about if the player we are speaking of is only 31?
Well, the scenario changes drastically. And because this player, Martinez, is a catcher, his body is less likely to hold up over time.
Regardless, the contract should not even sniff six seasons, nor should it. Theo will make sure it doesn’t. Trust me on this. But that was never considered as it is.
But three years? Sure, that sounds like a very realistic accusation. But even so, why should they even worry about it right now? Martinez, a very solid player, and a very good hitting catcher, isn’t going anywhere until the end of the year.
Maybe the idea of an extension should be entertained, but it should definitely not be “worried” about.
According to ‘WAR,’ which probably knows less about a catchers defense than the average fan According to IT, Martinez has been worth an average of $15 million a season for the past three years.
We know that V-Mart was injured in 2008, and that obviously gave his overall value a huge, huge hit. So that really shouldn’t be held against him. However, maybe it should be accounted for. At such a stressful position, one must account for the injury aspect for a player in his thirties (and definitely the decline).
Would it be wise to extend Martinez for say three years, $45 million? That would be close to the definition of “paying for past performance.” But with no real catching option in sight, and the payroll of a bonafide large market team, there may not be a better route.
Victor Martinez is a proven commodity. No one else in there system is. Well, except for Jason Varitek. And aside from the absolute fact that Varitek is worth 5 wins because of his game-calling alone (joking), all he has proven late in his career is that he is finished as an everyday catcher.
Now, like the beginning of last season, they could consider trading away a few prospects for their catcher of the future. But if they do that, they again would receive somewhat of an unknown. Not to mention, something would have to be surrendered.
So the way I see it, Martinez could be a very solid guy to sign for the next three years (Although I would prefer only two). However, I must reiterate, why not wait? Give the pitchers a full season to work with him behind the plate, and see how they like him. I have heard mixed reviews about the way Martinez works with pitchers. Although have heard nothing bad about his character (Which is always a good thing).
But the Red Sox, being able to see if Martinez and his pitchers coexist 60 feet apart for a season, may not be all that bad of an idea. They can subjectively consider whether or not they do in fact want to guarantee $45 mill in salary to all that is known as Victor Martinez.
And I say “all that is known” because we know he can hit. He is one of the best hitting catchers in all of baseball. And five of the past six seasons we know that Martinez has been an extremely good ballplayer. Not great, but very good.
But anywhere else on the diamond, a veteran player is pretty close to what his statistics will tell you. But the one exception, is behind the dish.
So would it be smart for the Red Sox to see what they have for at least a few more months before they sign their star catcher?
Seems wise to me…
But what do I know, I am just a blogger… 🙂
The other day, an analyst, or expert, whatever one wants to refer to them as. Well, anyway, this “expert” stated that ‘Moneyball’ wasn’t simply showing us how to find that a slow, un-athletic player that can draw walks has value. It was showing simply how to find an “undervalued” player.
At the time of course, Scott Hatteberg proved to be undervalued.
Scott Hatteberg would not however, be undervalued in today’s game.
So it isn’t that ‘Moneyball’ doesn’t work anymore, it is simply that it has changed. There will always be ways to find cheaper contributers in the game of baseball.
The writer then went on to explain that defense is a lost art or whatever. And eventually, it will be something else that general managers overlook, except for a select few.
‘Moneyball’ is still very real. The perception that statistics are the only way to find baseball players, well, that is very false.
I am starting to understand more and more that Michael Lewis was simply a writer, not an expert on the game of baseball.
But did he have an “agenda” as some speak? Or was he simply ignorant to the fact that there were other ways to win baseball games, not just Billy Beane’s way. I mean, someone that isn’t exactly of expertise value on a subject, sits down, they learn things one way, and they might adopt it as the ONLY way to do things.
After all, it was the only style of baseball that was hammered into Lewis’ head for a long period of time. I doubt Lewis has ever come close to any other style of baseball as much as he did with Billy Beane’s style.
The fact is, is that the book was a great, great book, which opened many of our eyes. Anyone that said, “Statistics are the only meaningful way to evaluate baseball players.” Or, “Athletic players are useless.” Even perhaps, “Walks are more important than hits.”
Any of those above quotes would be completely and totally wrong. And the point of ‘Moneyball’ the style, rather than the book would have been lost.
I for one, value players that are cheap AND effective. Who doesn’t? There is a very valid point to comparing Josh Willingham to Jason Bay. It is not to say that Jason Bay is the inferior player, it is just to state that maybe a team could have used their resources better by grabbing Willingham instead of Bay. But then again, in this day and age, with the internet available, that comparison isn’t much of a secret to begin with.
But for example, 20 years ago, people would have most likely chosen a player like Mike Jacobs over a Hatteberg, because he has the ability to hit the ball out of the park more often.
Nowadays, however, we realize that Hatteberg was the more valuable guy. Getting on base was simply not looked at as much back in the day.
…And Mike Jacobs sucks.