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Hot Stove Strategery: The Arbitration Deadline and the Rule 5 Draft
2005-12-07 23:00
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

One of the many reasons I love baseball more than any other sport is the strategy. Not that there isn't strategy in other sports, but constant-action games such as basketball, hockey, soccer and tennis don't provide moments of stasis in which the viewer can think along with the coach or the players. Football comes close, with the breaks between downs giving fans a chance to contemplate a run versus a pass, how to manage the clock, or what to do on forth down (which is why it's my second favorite sport), but the playbooks are top secret and I can't remember ever hearing a football fan scream in anguish "agh! They should have run a reverse there!" To oversimplify somewhat, it seems the only time football fans truly get to make the call is when the coach is deciding to kick or not to kick.

Baseball is different. The tuned in fan can call pitches, advise the batter on what to look for and whether or not to swing, position the fielders, send or hold the baserunners, get a reliever warmed up, make a pitching change or send in a pinch hitter or runner, issue an intentional walk, even choose where a fielder should throw a batted ball. It's a game of constant contemplation, strategy, logic, discussion, and argument, which is exactly why it appeals so strongly to scholars and writers.

The offseason is no different. Take for example the events of last night and today. On their face, the arbitration deadline and the Rule 5 draft couldn't be more boring, but when one considers the strategy involved in each, they suddenly become extremely compelling for the hardcore baseball fan.

Let's look at the arbitration deadline first. Teams had until midnight last night to offer arbitration to their eligible free agents or lose the ability to re-sign them until May 1, a full month into the 2006 season. Given that statement alone, one would be tempted to say that teams should always offer their free agents arbitration so as to keep their options open. But it's not that simple.

Once a team offers a player arbitration, the player must decide by December 19 to accept or reject it. If the player rejects it, the team is still has three weeks (until January 8) to resign the player if it so desires. If the player accepts arbitration, however, the team is required to sign the player to a one-year deal at a salary decided by an independent arbiter that is no less than 20 percent of their salary from the previous season.1 Thus, the threat of an undesired or previously overpaid free agent accepting arbitration eliminates the "offer arbitration to everybody" strategy.

Given the threat of a player accepting arbitration, one is tempted to say that teams should offer arbitration only to the free agents they plan to resign. But there is still more to this. When another team signs a free agent away from his former club, the new team is required to compensate the former team with draft picks2 in the upcoming amateur draft if and only if the former team offered the player arbitration. Teams do not receive compensatory draft picks for players not offered arbitration.

As the Yankees seem to have finally learned, one cannot sustain a winning ballclub without inexpensive homegrown talent acquired via the annual amateur draft. Thus, compensatory draft picks are extremely valuable. Oakland's Billy Beane figured this out years ago and developed a habit of trading for players in their walk year with the intention of offering them arbitration but not resigning them, thus loading up on draft picks, several of which were used on some of the younger players who arrived last year to form the backbone of what just might be the next great A's team (see also: Cleveland Indians).

Thus, when making its arbitration decisions, a team must get inside the heads of its free agents and their player agents, much like a hitter must get inside the head of a pitcher, to accurately gauge whether or not the player will be tempted to accept arbitration rather than test the market, and must also accurately gauge the market to determine whether or not a player determined to test the market will find the market wanting and return to his former team, hat in hand. In recent years the Braves and Phillies guessed incorrectly when offering arbitration to Greg Maddux and Placido Polanco respectively, both of whom wound up accepting arbitration much to their team's dismay (the latter after being criminally undervalued by the Yankees among others).

Then there's the rare situation in which the player and team have an under the table agreement that the player will not accept arbitration if the team is willing to offer it to extend the negotiating period. That appears to be the case with Bernie Williams and the Yankees, as Bernie was one of three players the Yankees offered arbitration at the deadline last night. The other two were Al Leiter--whom Brian Cashman has said he would be interested in retaining on a minor league or incentive-laden deal with an eye toward using him as a LOOGY in 2006--and Ramiro Mendoza.

Mendoza is an interesting case. A non-roster invitee to spring training last year, Mendoza was signed by the Yankees despite the fact that they knew he'd have to sit out the first half of the year following rotator cuff surgery, then spend a couple months in the minors getting back into game shape. Indeed, Mendoza didn't throw a pitch in competition until August 5. He then allowed just one earned run in 17 innings across ten appearances for the Gulf Coast Yankees and Columbus Clippers in August, earning a September call-up. Mendoza made his first major league appearance of 2005 against the Mariners on September 1, facing five batters, two of whom scored on a two-out Jose Lopez home run (hint: one of them was Jose Lopez). That was also Mendoza's last appearance in 2005. Coming off a season like that, Mendoza poses no threat should he accept arbitration, though it is surprising to see that, after refusing to give him a second chance in 2005--albeit during an intense pennant race--the Yankees have an interest in retaining him for 2006. If Mendoza does re-sign it would likely be another minor league deal.

None of the three players the Yankees have offered arbitration is a type-A free agents (players in the top 30 percent of Elias's rankings2 who thus net their former teams two draft picks, as opposed to the solitary picks awarded teams who lose type-B and C free agents who make up the next 30 percent of the Elias rankings). The Yankees only had three such free agents this winter: Tom Gordon, Matt Lawton and Mark Bellhorn. The Yankees will receive two picks from the Phillies for Gordon, who was signed before the Yankees had a chance to offer him arbitration (which they likely would have done as they had hoped to re-sign him). Lawton, however, was too big a risk to offer arbitration as he is coming of a season in which he earned $7.75 million and thus would have had a minimum salary of $6.2 million had he accepted the Yankees' arbitration offer, which, given his poor second half performance and impending steroid suspension, he was very likely to do. Bellhorn, who earned $2.75 million last year was a less obvious call. His is likely a case in which the additional cost of two draft picks might have scared other teams away from signing him, resulting in his accepting the Yankees' offer and the Yanks thus owing him a minimum of $2.2 million for 2006 when they had no interest in retaining him at any price.

For his part, Leiter earned $7 million in 2005, but is also seriously contemplating retirement and thus likely also agreed to decline arbitration should he and the Yankees fail to come to an agreement on a low-cost contract by December 19.

With all of that out of the way, we may now join the Yankees in saying a fond farewell to the rest of their free agents, whom you can now find in the "Recently Departed" section at the bottom of the sidebar. Among those who will plague us no more: Kevin Brown, Alan Embree, John Flaherty, Felix Rodriguez and, miraculously, Ruben Sierra. Pardon me while I pause to bask in the glory of their departures.

[bask . . . bask . . . bask]

That brings us back to Bernie. Brian Cashman, who to my delight really does seem to be running things this winter, has said that he'd be interested in bringing Bernie back in what has been termed "a Ruben Sierra role." From MLB.com:

"I see there's a role, I see his willingness to stay," Cashman said. "So while I can't say he's going to return for another year, he's going to have the opportunity to say yes or no."

Williams made more than $12 million in 2005, so he would have to take a significant pay cut to return to the Yankees next season. Sierra earned $1.5 million last season, and the Yankees would likely try to sign Williams in that same range.

"We've defined the role; now we have to define the economics of it," Cashman said. "This is a signal that we're both agreeing that, at some point, we'd like to get something done. There's a willingness and a hope to try to get something done and bring him back for one more year, assuming we can work out the economics for both sides that make sense. . . . There's a lot that goes into this decision. Bernie means a lot to this franchise, and he's given a lot to this franchise. Someone like him, you make sure you take the extra time and care as you walk through the process. That's all we're doing."

While I'm glad that Bernie's Yankee career didn't come to an end with a cold shoulder at the arbitration deadline, I hope Cashman takes the extra negotiating time he's bought himself to talk Bernie into retirement. There's a case to be made that Bernie Williams was the sixth greatest Yankee position player of all time, if not the sixth greatest Yankee of all time, but he is no longer an asset to this or any other ballclub. Consider this:

.249/.321/.367
.239/.320/.390

Quick, which is Bernie Williams' 2005 season and which is Kelly Stinnett's career line?

Stinnett is just barely acceptable as a back-up catcher earning $650,000 and in line for about 140 at-bats. Bernie is a poor defensive outfielder/DH, never mind that any contract he'd agree to would likely be for at least $2 million or that Joe Torre is liable to give him a minimum of 250 at-bats. Bernie deserves a proper send off, but part of that requires recognition on the part of both Williams and the Yankees that his continuing to play would be a disservice to both parties.

Rule 5 (Not Rule V)

There's a different sort of strategy involved in the Rule 5 draft. Though it took more than a decade to evolve into a recognizable form and has undergone many rule revisions since, the Rule 5 draft, originally designed to prevent independent minor league teams from hording talent and now serving the purpose of preventing major league teams from hording talent in their affiliated minor league systems, has existed in one form or another since 1892.

In its current form, the draft allows teams with available space on their major league 40-man rosters (the Yankees, for example, have four empty spots at the moment) to draft minor leaguers with a certain amount of experience3 who are not on their franchise's major-league 40-man roster. There is a small fee that a selected player's new team must pay his former franchise (currently $50,000), but the real catch to the Rule 5 draft is that drafted players must spend the entirety of the ensuing season on their new team's 25-man major league roster (though exceptions are made for stints on the disabled list). If a team wants to demote a Rule 5 pick, they must first offer the player back to their original team at half price ($25,000).

As a result, the majority of Rule 5 picks are made by weaker teams who can afford to spend roster spots on players who may not be major league ready but could prove to be valuable in the near future as part of a rebuilding effort. Recent examples include the Tigers' Chris Shelton, who would have been a Rookie of the Year candidate this past season if not for the Rule 5 requirement that robbed him of his eligibility in 2004, and Johan Santana, who, amazingly, was drafted from the Astros by the Marlins, who then flipped him to the Twins the same day for Jared Camp and cash.

Of course, those are special cases and, along with Roberto Clemente, George Bell, two of a very small group of impact players who changed teams via Rule 5. Last year's big Rule 5 splash was Andy Sisco, selected out of the Cubs organization by the Royals, with whom he made a successful jump from A-ball to the majors and from starting to short relief.

Because they are constantly in contention, and thus need to make the most of every roster spot, the Yankees usually don't bother making Rule 5 selections (though that doesn't stop them from employing the Enrique Wilsons and Tony Womacks of the world).4 Rather the Yankees usually look at the draft from the other side, making sure to protect their eligible players who are most likely to be selected by adding them to the 40-man roster when rosters are frozen in late November.5

Indeed, when the major league and minor league reserve lists were filed on November 19, there were five new names on the Yankees' 40-man roster. Here's a quick look at these new faces, some of whom may just pass through the Bronx in 2006:

Kevin Thompson A speedy center fielder, the 26-year-old Thompson cracked triple-A for the first time this past July after tearing up double-A to the tune of .329/.432/.565 in 313 at-bats. While that's encouraging news for a team in desperate need of a center fielder, Thompson has shown a career-long trend of needing two cracks at each new level before catching up with the league. Indeed he hit just .249/.335/.359 in his 209 at-bats with the Clippers last year. What's more, he actually spent the bulk of three seasons in Trenton before mastering double-A (though his .281/.362/.444 in his second double-A season wasn't awful and his continued improvement in his third season there was very encouraging). Still, he doesn't project to make any sort of impact at the major league level before 2007, at which point he'll be 27 years old.

Matt DeSalvo A slight right-handed starter, the 25-year-old DeSalvo is the Yankees dark horse pitching prospect. Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2003, DeSalvo continues to be overlooked because, much like Colter Bean, he doesn't throw hard. All he does is get guys out. Here's his composite minor league line from three seasons split between single and double-A:

22-14, 2.62 ERA, 322 2/3 IP, 238 H, 328 K, 131 BB, 14 HR, 1.14 WHIP

If DeSalvo has a weakness it's that he walks too many guys, which could be trouble for a pitcher who relies on location and deception. That said, it's interesting to note that when his walk rate has dipped, his strikeout rate has dipped along with it, suggesting that his stuff just moves so much that it's hard to keep in the zone. DeSalvo, who's not dissimilar from Chien-Ming Wang in terms of confidence and his ability to keep the ball down in the zone, would seem to be the next in line for any openings that might be created in the major league rotation. (see also Steven Goldman's interviews with DeSalvo, his Trenton pitching coach Dave Eiland, and teammate Ben Julianel here)

Jeffrey Karstens Another right-handed starter, the 23-year-old Karstens spent all of 2005 in the Trenton rotation alongside DeSalvo. Unlike DeSalvo, however, there's not a lot of reason to get excited about Karstens. Only one thing sticks out out his stat line. Fortunately, it's the most important: his K/BB ratio. At 3.54 in 375 minor league innings and 3.50 in double-A in 2005, Karstens K/BB is promising, but until he can post an ERA below 4.00 in a full-season league, there won't be much reason to get excited.

Matt Smith Not to be confused with the 6' 5" reliever in the White Sox organization who goes by the same name but is right-handed and ten months his senior, this 6' 5" lefty relieving Matt Smith finally showed improvement after being moved to the bullpen in his fourth season in double-A, earning a late-June promotion to Columbus, where he continued to excel, posting a 2.60 ERA and striking out 10.73 per 9 IP in 25 relief appearances. Smith's control is an issue, however, as he walked 4.23 per 9 IP in Trenton and has a 4.60 BB/9 on his minor league career. Also of concern is the fact that Smith got lit up in the Arizona Fall League in October.

Anyone lobbying for Smith to start 2006 as a part of the Yankee bullpen should consider the following: Smith and Jason Anderson were born six days apart. Both were drafted by the Yankees in 2000. Both began their minor league careers as starters before converting to the bullpen (though Anderson switched in 2002). Both pitched in relief for the Clippers in 2005. Here are their lines:


PlayerPeriodERAH/9K/9BB/9K/BBIP
SmithAAA 20052.607.8110.734.232.5427 2/3
AndersonAAA 20052.665.857.982.393.3467.2
SmithCareer*4.639.767.884.601.71287 2/3
AndersonmL Career3.258.047.932.513.16490 2/3 IP

*Smith's 2003 season appears to be missing from the Baseball Cube's stats

T.J. Beam A 25-year-old righty drafted out of the University of Mississippi in 2003, Beam has yet to pitch above A-ball, but that's about to change. Moved to the bullpen in 2005, he dominated the Sally League and pitched admirably with single-A Tampa, striking out 27 men in 17 1/3 innings. He then went to town on the Arizona Fall League, posting a 10:1 K/BB ratio and a 1.53 ERA in eleven appearances. It seems Beam has finally found his calling. He should start 2006 in double-A and could find himself in the Bronx before September if he continues to dominate.

* * *

1. "The exception here is that if a player won an arbitration award the prior year that resulted in a 50% or greater salary increase, there is no maximum paycut allowed in the proposal. A player with a non-guaranteed contract or an arbitration award may be released up until the 15th day of spring training with 30 days' pay or from the 16th day of spring training until the opening of the season with 45 days' pay. When a player is claimed on waivers, the new team takes on the contract." (Source)

2. The secondary condition for receiving compensatory draft picks is that the player lost to free agency rank in the top 60 percent of a statistical list compiled by the Elias Sports Bureau. The number and location of the picks is subject to another series of rules, all of which are explained as clearly as is possible by Baseball Prospectus's Thomas Gorman (yes that's his real name) here.

3. Players are eligible if this is the third Rule 5 draft of their major league career and they signed their first professional contract after their 19th birthday, or if this is the fourth Rule 5 draft of their major league career and they signed their first professional contract before their 19th birthday. A good primer on Rule 5 can be found here

4. Technically this is inaccurate. In addition to the major league Rule 5 draft there are triple-A and double-A stages to the Rule 5 draft, and the Yankees have indeed been known to make selections in those portions, but as Alan Schwarz notes, those stages almost never produce major league players and are used simply to fill out minor league rosters. Felix Escalona was a minor league Rule 5 pick going from the Astros' organization to the Giants' organization in 2001, but has never appeared in the majors for either.

5. The catch here is that once a player is added to the 40-man roster, their three-year option period begins. Players are eligible to be optioned to the minor leagues only during the first three seasons after they were first added to the 40-man roster. In the fourth season, they must clear waivers in order to be sent down. Bubba Crosby, Jorge DePaula and Jason Anderson will all be out of options when the 2006 season begins.

Comments (53)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2005-12-08 03:40:44
1.   Shaun P
Great, great article, Cliff. Thanks for the info about the guys recently added to the 40-man roster. Looks like Jason Anderson will have to be in the 'pen all year next year, no?

Any speculation on what the Yanks will do with the 4 empty roster slots? I'd be surprised to see them make a Rule 5 pick, or sign 4 free agents . . .

2005-12-08 04:05:45
2.   singledd
"All-Star second baseman Alfonso Soriano was traded by the Texas Rangers to the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night for Brad Wilkerson, Terrmel Sledge and a minor league pitcher. It appears the Nationals would want him to move to the outfield after losing two outfielders in the deal. Eligible for arbitration, he almost certainly will get a substantial raise next year, and he can become a free agent after the 2006 season."

Hmmmmm... there's 1 potential OF'er in next years market who is relatively young, fast, powerful and ??? on 'D'. I confess that will all his downpoints, he was one of the most exciting guys to watch. I could certainly see him in pinstripes in '07.

2005-12-08 05:09:17
3.   Alex Belth
Cliff C is back in full effect! Great work, partner.

You know as far as Bernie goes (and whether it makes good baseball sense or not, I'd be pleased with him replacing Ruben Sierra), I had to chuckle at this line of bullshit from Cashman in the morning papers (this one coming from the Times):

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/08/sports/baseball/08yankees.html

Brian Cashman does not like to speak for George Steinbrenner, the Yankees' principal owner. But Cashman was comfortable stating the obvious late Wednesday night, after the Yankees had decided to continue negotiating with center fielder Bernie Williams.

"He's always had a soft spot for Bernie Williams, as we all do," Cashman, the Yankees' general manager, said of Steinbrenner. "He's seen a lot of special moments from Bernie, and a lot of fun he's provided for us."

Yeah, I guess that's why the organization repeatedly hard-lined Williams early in his career when it came to contract situations. I mean, ultimately of course, it was Bernie who had the last laugh with his $87 and change million deal (which was less than the $91 million the Red Sox were reportedly offering and considerably less than the $100 plus the Rockies were apparently willing to give him).

Funny how if you stick around long enough, everything can be seen through rose-tinted glasses.

2005-12-08 05:14:04
4.   Alex Belth
More on Bernie--a somewhat amusing piece from Bob Klapisch:

http://tinyurl.com/c2hew

Here's the skinny:

"According to two major league executives, both sides have already agreed in principle to a one-year deal that will include a massive pay cut for Williams and an understanding of reduced playing time, too."

2005-12-08 05:28:28
5.   rbj
Soooo, sign Rocket for a year?
2005-12-08 05:36:32
6.   Rob Gee
Indeed, great write-up Cliff. It reminded me why this is such a great Yankee site. One disagreement on the cross-sports analysis though - In basketball the constant motion requires emerging assessment (e.g., can Kobe handle T-mac defensively? Is AI taking Billups off the dribble? Do we need to double Shaq?). So the coach's decisions in the rotation of players, on and off the bench and on the floor, can be just as strongly lamented, but it might take a quarter of two for it to become obvious.

Alex, I thought the exact same thing with that Cashman quote. It's like saying he gets all weepy-eyed when Georgie thinks of Pettite. Makes me realize you have to love Boras for how well he does his job. If he don't really play the Sox against the Yanks in 1998, Bernie goes boom in Boston and we may not have the 1999 and 2000 titles, and well, I shudder to think...

2005-12-08 07:06:10
7.   tommyl
rbj,

I initially had the exact same thought, but it'll likely be very expensive and he's definitely injury prone at this stage.

Still the geriatic punch of RJ and Clemens as a 1-2, followed by Moose, Chacon and Wang would be a fearsome rotation when they are all healthy (which is likely to be true on the first day of spring training only). Then you get rid of Pavano, keep Wright and Small around in relief and fill in starters, could work.

What do others think?

2005-12-08 07:16:23
8.   murphy
clemens would be a bad idea. we already have one too many "starters" and there is no need to add another quesiton mark to the list.

also:

singledd, we are on the same page about wilkerson. would the rangers, who are looking for pitching, not be interested in pavano and some cash?

2005-12-08 07:20:11
9.   rsmith51
I don't see how the Yankees even make the playoffs in 2000 without Bernie's .957 OPS.
I am OK with Bernie being on the team as long as the Yankees have a starting CF(and not Crosby). There will be too much temptation to put Bernie in if Crosby struggles.

Hopefully Bernie can learn to play LF and 1B so he won't be useless in the field.

2005-12-08 08:02:20
10.   Knuckles
As a displaced Yankee fan in Arlington, VA I was caught by surprise with the Soriano news. All my buddies around have different favorite teams but we pull for the Nats a bit because they're local, and we enjoy having a 'hometown' team for the time being that we don't all hate (Redskins, etc). Here's what I wrote them regarding the Sori trade:

At first glance it looks like a good trade for the Nats, but looking deeper, I think it's horrible, and continues to prove that Bowden's an idiot. Soriano definitely has tools but he's living on name only. It'd be like hearing a Frank Thomas for Rondell White trade- sounds great for either side, depending on what year in the past you're living in.

I like Soriano a lot, mainly because I remember how exciting he was as a rookie, and if they'd traded him for anyone lesser than A-Rod I probably would have been pissed at the time. But here's his drawbacks:

He's aged 4 years in the last 2. Career OBP of .320, so if you bat him leadoff you're probably retarded. Was completely exposed in the 2003 playoffs as a bad ball hitter who has less than zero concept of the strike zone. Still turns doubles into long singles by watching them as if they're gone, despite 2-3 years of being told NO by people like Torre, Jeter, Showalter, etc. And most of his value comes from putting up power numbers at 2B. I hear the Nats may keep Vidro and use Soriano in left. This, plus putting him in a pitchers park, is gonna drop his value like a rock. He's a bad defender anywhere they put him, while Wilkerson can play all 3 OF, and 1B. Wilky's not a great hitter but he can work a walk. Sledge is just another version of Juan Rivera, a decent guy to have as a 4th OF.

Soriano avg'd 33HR in his 2 years in Texas. But that park is a joke. Here's some other HR totals for Rangers in the past few years:
Dellucci 29, Mench 26,24, Jurassic Carl 18 in half a season. WOuld you really want any of those guys to be a power hitter on your team other than in a hitter's park?
For what it's worth, Baseball America called the minor league pitcher in the deal the Nats 5th best prospect.
I love watching Soriano, bc he's got the craziest strong wrists in baseball, but I think Washington's gonna regret this one.

2005-12-08 08:26:51
11.   alterity
Rent to Atlanta for Marte, according to Gammons.

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2252297

Anyone want to explain to me why the Braves want a guy who didn't look very good last year for the amount of money he was being paid so much that they would give up what I understand to be a well-regarded prospect. Anyone know why the Sox would want a third base prospect when they have two third sackers already (not counting if they want to bring back Mueller). Manny to Anaheim for Cabrera? Or are they going to flip Marte to TB for Lugo?

2005-12-08 08:34:06
12.   debris
Alterity,

The feeling is that Renteria will perform much better out of the pressure cooker in Boston. The Sox are apparently eating about $3 M per year of Renteria's contract.

Rumor has it that Marte will be packaged with Arroyo and Shoppach to Tampa Bay for Lugo and Huff.

2005-12-08 08:35:13
13.   Shaun P
I bet Clemens decides to go back to the Astros post-May 1. It lets him go 'all-out' in the WBC and then rest up for the season. For 5 months last year (April-August), Clemens was unbeatable. Imagine if he only pitched 4 months next year, after getting extra rest too?

Clemens seems to be about pitching for 'fun' now. But if he came back to NY (or Boston), I bet the 'fun' would disappear after his inevitable first slump. After the numbers he put up last year, expectations would be through the roof - and it would be nearly impossible to meet them, given how much harder it is to pitch to AL lineups vs NL lineups.

Bernie coming back scares me, for all the reasons rsmith gave in 9 - 'cuz I think Bubba will be the starting CF.

2005-12-08 08:43:31
14.   alterity
"Rumor has it that Marte will be packaged with Arroyo and Shoppach to Tampa Bay for Lugo and Huff."

Did they dislike Rent that much? Must be, because it seems to me a lot to give up (former all start SS, useful to good pitcher, well-regarded catching prospect) for a couple of no-time all stars. And if we consider Lugo and Rent to be rather similar (albeit certainly not identical) players, the trade rumor you allude to would amount to Arroyo, Shoppach, and $3 million/year for three years for Huff, and that hardly seems right to me.

2005-12-08 08:44:35
15.   wsporter
That's a nice deal for the Braves, Renteria is a NL guy through and through. I love Lugo in Boston. I think Stoppach is going to be a good one but you gotta give if you're gonna get. They are really giving that team a nice little face lift. Debris you've got to be happy. Me, I hate it.
2005-12-08 08:46:49
16.   Shaun P
No team is able to get rid of junk and get gold in return like the Red Sox. It sickens and amazes me at the same time. Renteria and $$ for Andy Marte? Mirabelli for Mark Loretta? Hype and an A-ball live arm for Beckett and Lowell?

This is almost as bad as the deal that sent two cases of Sam Adams and a kettle of Legal's clam chowder to Arizona for Schilling.

2005-12-08 08:56:27
17.   Start Spreading the News
Womack is gone! Long live the Yanks!

WFAN is reporting that Womack is traded to Cincinati for a minor league player.

2005-12-08 09:00:27
18.   wsporter
Shaun P.
Common man, nothing in the history of American Commerce has ever been as one sided as the Schilling deal, alright maybe the Louissiana Purchase. Ok maybe Sewards so called Folly. But that's it that's the list. Boston is doing a great job. I guess nothing will focus Larry Lu like being embarrassed by Theo, he's kicking ass.
2005-12-08 09:02:21
19.   debris
wsporter,

I'm quite happy with this. The Sox aren't loading up on stars but:

Huff is better than Millar 2005
Loretta is better than 2/3 Bellhorn, 1/3 Tony G.
Overall, with defense and speed, Lugo is an upgrade over Renteria, who just couldn't handle Beantown.
Lowell should be at least equal to Millar.
Pitching is much improved.

If Manny stays, the team should be considerably better. If Manny goes, another story entirely.

2005-12-08 09:07:42
20.   debris
Boston Globe is now reporting that the Sox plan to keep Marte and pursue other avenues to fill shortstop.

Mets are signing Julio Franco for two years. He'll need one more year after that to make 50 in the bigs. And the man can still play.

2005-12-08 09:10:43
21.   wsporter
Debris:
I just don't see why they would trade him now. They've accomplished everything they could have hopped to in a deal that would have moved Manny WITHOUT HAVING TO MOVE HIM. They have, I hate to admit, approached this off season brilliantly. Christ move Manny out to Shirley or up to Lynnfield if he can't stand being in town just don't trade him. By the way that's me putting the Malocchio on you guys cause this is killing me.
2005-12-08 09:10:50
22.   Nick from Washington Heights
god, the Sox are having a great off-season.

Start Spreading the News, that's great news! You earned your name today.

2005-12-08 09:12:22
23.   wsporter
Wait didn't see that last post. No Lugo, no Huff I take it all back. What does the Globe know, have they gotten one right yet?
2005-12-08 09:16:42
24.   sabernar
I'm not upset at the Yankees holding off for the right moves, but I can't believe that the Red Sox are essentially stealing players away while also reducing payroll. Beckett & Lowell, getting rid of Renteria for Marte, one of the top prospects in all of baseball, and getting Loretta for essentially nothing. How are they able to do this, and without a GM to boot!

I don't think that the Sox are necessarily better than the Yankees right now (esp. if the Yanks' SP are healthy), but it pains me to see the Sox improving as much as they have at virtually no cost at all.

Renteria for Marte? Renteria has had one good year in the last 4 years and he he's been below average defensively 3 of those 4 years, too. And 2 of those years he was HORRIBLE defensively (Rate2 of 87 and 92 I think). Atrocious. And they got one of baseball's best prospects? Couldn't the Braves package Marte for Abreu or something like that? Shoot, even for Mensch on the Rangers is better than Renteria (then again, Womack actually isn't any worse then Renteria was last year!!!). Ouch.

2005-12-08 09:22:16
25.   Rob Gee
Ok, I've reached the "What the %#@&?" stage with Cashman in this off-season.

For as bad as he claims the market looks, it's seeming like an empty excuse. And the whole 'disorganized organization' story seems more like a cover for his own unwillingness to pull the trigger.

Two years ago, when we got beat in the Serious, we knew we needed a serious CF. 2004 comes and goes with Lofton not getting playing time. Last year, we trade him (for F(ed)-Rod) and bring Doug Glanville and Damian Rolls into camp. We're about to go into a third consecutive season without a legit CF, and Cash is still waiting...for what? The perfect deal?

Last year we needed a legit DH/ 4th OF. We still need one. And unfortunately Bernie's not the answer there.

You look at Posada the last few years, and we all know the major injury/decline is coming. Where's the next move then?

If Boston can get Marte for Rentaria/$$, we can't get Granderson for Pavano/$$? Or Michaels for Wright? Or Woe-mack for a AA catching prospect? Anyone really think those three didn't show their worth already and why last off-season truly was our worst of the FA era? Correct the obvious mistakes, because the value on those three will only drop from here. Pull the f'in trigger, CASH-man. And, include prospects if you need to, dammit.

[rant over]

2005-12-08 09:22:20
26.   standuptriple
I too am concerned about the Sox making a dollar out of 15 cents on multiple occasions. Is Yankee hatred causing that much blindness?
2005-12-08 09:49:31
27.   Cliff Corcoran
ESPN has a story up confirming the Womack trade, though it remains unofficial and there's no word on what the Yankees will get in return, though really, it doesn't matter, just dumping Womack is enough.

Meanwhile, Rob Gee, I think you're way off base and seriously jumping the gun. The arbitration deadline just passed and I don't recall any desirable CF's trading hands yet this offseason. I think Cashman's playing everything just right thus far. We can revisit this discussion in another month or two, but for now, I preach patience.

2005-12-08 09:52:30
28.   debris
The Sox are eating $11 M of Rentawreck's contract. I suppose that shouldn't bother me too much since I'm not paying for it except in beer, dogs, and my cable bill.

Yeah, they've had a great offseason, but now they have to figure out how to make a team of this. Their infield will be entirely new next year. Is this a problem that it will consist of four guys who have never played together, assuming that the shortstop isn't Gonzalez (who has played with Lowell.) Who will that shortstop be. Would they think of going back to Nomar? Can Nomar play short anymore? Can Nomar stay healthy for two weeks?

2005-12-08 09:58:00
29.   Shawn Clap
Yanks just signed 33 year-old Leftfielder CHRIS PRIETO.

http://mlb.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/team/player.jsp?player_id=408076

So don't panic, everything is going exactly as Cashman has forseen it!

2005-12-08 09:59:22
30.   wsporter
Cliff I believe you preach wisdom, yet wisdom does not always describe a path that is easily followed.
2005-12-08 10:02:25
31.   Zack
And just remember, the people on this team that we would want to trade are untradeable. The contracts prhobit trading many of our players, and at many of our positions, we don't really want to trade. We have a 2b, 3v, ss, lf, 1b who are all firmly entrenched. Our rf is untradable and too productive to trade. That leaves DH, CF, and C, where we are stuck fo rnow anyways, and hardly a bad situation. And as we all know, the DH and CF situations, as Cliff said, beg patience. The pitching is another thing altogether, but going out and signing/trading some peopel is not nec. the answer, that got us where we are now.

The Sox came into this offseason NEEDING to do a lot more than we did. 1b, 3b, 2b, sp, bp were all in shambles or non-existant. They had no 1b, 3b, or 2b, so those were need-based moves, and their sp needed to be upgraded. So knocking Cashman for sitting by while the Sox, granted, made some killer moves, is hardly a problem from our outlook.

2005-12-08 10:08:13
32.   standuptriple
I hate to pile on Cliff (27), but I think Rowand is a pretty desirable CF. Other than that, I agree it is better to make the right moves than to do something for the sake of movement.
2005-12-08 10:11:26
33.   debris
Zack,

I would pretty much agree with your assessment of the two team's needs in the area of position players and how it's played out so far.

However, both teams went into the winter with massive pitching questions. The Sox have gone a long way toward answering theirs, while the Yanks have signed Kyle Farnsworth, more likely the second coming of John Rocker than Scot Shields.

2005-12-08 10:11:48
34.   Cliff Corcoran
Ah, standuptriple got me there. I forgot about Rowand.
2005-12-08 10:22:42
35.   Schteeve
Cashman is not playing follow the leader, not trying to match the sox transaction for transaction. I think he's pretty calmly and pretty singularly focused on doing what's best for the Yankees. Without once again mortgaging the future for a bunch of expensive crapshoot talent.
2005-12-08 10:32:55
36.   Nick from Washington Heights
I have to agree with Schteeve and Cliff regarding Cashman's work thus far. I really don't think he's missed an opportunity this off-season, and I think the moves he's made have been reasonable. He targeted the right reliever (BJ Ryan), harbored no illusions when it became apparent that he didn't want to close for the Bombers, and moved onto plan b. Gordon left because he wanted to be a closer. That's not Cashman's fault, and Cashman was right to try to hold the offer to Gordon to 2 years. Farnsworth (unlike Eyre or Howry) has performed at a very high level for at least one year. He really does have tremendous upside. If Cashman overpaid, it's only because the market for relievers was absurd. I maintain that Farnsworth's contract is more reasonable than Ryan's, Wagner's, Eyre's, and Howry's. Cashman also is rightly jettisoning dead weight such as Womack, Ruben and Tino. He's slotting in Phillips (a cheap and potentially decent option) into Tino's role. He also talked about moving up minor league lefty relievers such as Matt Smith to take on the role of LOOGY. Cash has also avoided the perils of trading for Pierre. What has he done that's been so bad so far?
2005-12-08 11:16:07
37.   Rob Gee
Cliffman,

Normally I'm a pretty paitent guy, but I realized that CF is a problem that's going on, at least, its third year. What was the back-up plan last year after 2003? Womack?Bubba? Rolls? Glanville? Trade for something? What? WHAT? That's not the front office - that's Cashman!

To get something we do need to give something (Chacon, being a lucky exception). It's getting time (maybe not there quite yet) for Cash to pull the f-in trigger. And Pierre and Wilkerson, upgrades but not by much, were traded too.

And this year, I can't imagine how Posada won't either regress further or get injured. That's the new gaping hole all over again. When will Cash address that - 2008?

Fact is, we can't expect in-season trades to help us much anymore like the Justice trades of old. The strategy of 'first two see what you have' doesn't work when other teams are squeezing your nuts and waiting for them to crack when they see you have a need. This past season just reinforces that notion. The value of Pavano and Wright will not get better than it is now (league avg or not). Time to move one of them and eat some of the contract. If folks believe Rent is National guy, then there's some that will believe they're National pitchers. I pray that Dodgers or Phillies think so. We'll have still one rotation safety net and, if necessary, it's much easier to find another back-of-the-rotation starter mid-stream than a starting CF.

2005-12-08 11:25:07
38.   Nick from Washington Heights
"Normally I'm a pretty patient guy, but I realized that CF is a problem that's going on, at least, its third year. What was the back-up plan last year after 2003? Womack?Bubba? Rolls? Glanville? Trade for something? What? WHAT? That's not the front office - that's Cashman!"

Last year, reports said that Cashman wanted to sign Beltran, but Tampa wanted the Big Unit, Wright and Womack instead (OK, that last part was to get a rise out of JohnnyC). But, at least according to the rumors I read, Cashman though Beltran was a bigger priority than the Big Unit. Turns out maybe a lot of people misjudged Beltran's potential. Still, it's not as if he hasn't identified CF as a problem, and as a problem before others in the org came to the same conclusion.

2005-12-08 11:26:44
39.   Cliff Corcoran
I very much had Pierre in mind when I made my comment about no "desirable" CF's changing hands. I won't protest Wilkerson, even though he's never played 100 games in CF in a single season and saw his power vanish in 2005. As for the CF issue in 2003 and 2004, Lofton was a solid pick-up in 2003 that Torre failed to use properly and I believe that Cashman had every intention of signing Beltran last winter and even worked out a deal worth less than the one he signed with the Mets only to have the Boss tell him he didn't want to spend the money. Of course, we'll never know for sure.
2005-12-08 11:53:21
40.   standuptriple
I don't fault Cashman because it seems like whenever the Yanks get involved the price gets inflated and teams use talks with them to leverage other deals. The constant overspending has kind of handcuffed their ability to negotiate.
2005-12-08 12:08:22
41.   Shawn Clap
??? Juan Pierre is a World Series hero. What is more "desirable" than that?

Seems to me that the off-season is a lot like a High School dance. The longer you wait around, the more likely you'll end up dancing with an Ugly Chick.

But who knows? Maybe someone comes busting through the door, dateless in the 11th hour.

2005-12-08 12:34:34
42.   Rob Gee
For all you that want patience, teams lose interest in dealing when they address their needs through other avenues.

e.g., Report that 41 y.o. Kenny "the Kicking Gambler" just got 16 mil/2years from the Tigers.

You're telling me they wouldn't take Pavano/$$ for Granderson at somewhere around the same cost? Shoot, even if the Yanks eat 9 mil of the 30 left, they get a legit, young, cheap CF for 3.3 mil a year plus base and the Tigers get a legit 30 y.o. starter for 7/year. How is that not a good trade for both? There's risk/reward for both but that's the point of any deal. Even if that's just a starting point, you get something d-u-n.

And I don't bemoan the loss of Beltran. That stuff happens. I'm pissed that nothing else got done to address the gaping hole. Nothing! Why trade Lofton at all? The first f'in option they went to was Womack. Then Matsui. Then Melky. Then Kevin Reece. Back to Bernie. Then Bubba. Nothing got done then and yet Bubba's still the back up option!? We know that's crap, the whole league knows, - so get something done, CASH-man.

2005-12-08 12:35:18
43.   Cliff Corcoran
Juan Pierre is Tony Womack waiting to happen. He has no repeatable skills. He has no power, no patience, is a poor fielder and a bad baserunner, despite his speed. He and Dusty Baker are a perfect match. Soon the Cubs will be all Neifi!s top to bottom and all of their young studs will be on the 60-day DL. It's a freakin' crime.
2005-12-08 12:38:17
44.   Cliff Corcoran
Rob, trading Lofton, the way I saw it, was proof that Cashman was intending to go after Beltran. He cleared the spot for Beltran, negotiated a good deal, then got the carpet yanked out from under him (no pun intended).
2005-12-08 12:59:45
45.   mainmanmaitland
Rob -

I think the reason why people are preaching patience the Yankees are in a difficult Catch 22. (They don't have much to trade and there isn't much to buy).

There wasn't much in this year's free agent market that really fills the team's stated needs (and there may be next year with A. Jones and V. Wells hitting free agency which is why patience may be key).

The best way to get a CF, etc would probably be to make a trade but the thing is that the only guys other teams ask for are the guys that we want/need to keep (Wang, Cano,Hughes,etc) and such a trade would open up other holes that would need to be fixed.

2005-12-08 13:07:42
46.   mainmanmaitland
Even with a seeming glut of starting pitchers, it might be the smarter choice to hold on to what we have and wait and see how best to proceed. This may mean keeping Pavano (who I have certainly suggested could bring back something in a trade)until the season starts.

People seem to forget that Wang's arm troubles almost ended his season after the All-Star break last year, Wright had a habit of getting hit by line drives, Mussina's elbow acted up, Randy is 40+ years old and I doubt that Small will ever pitch like he did last year. If this is a large portion of your potential starting rotation (the only guy I left out was Chacon)maybe Pavano needs to be kept until we see what happens with everyone else in the rotation.

2005-12-08 13:09:44
47.   Rob Gee
CC,

He traded Lofton in Dec. because Torre didn't use him. Even if Beltran was a target, you don't trade your only decent option b/c of a maybe. But that's neither, here, there, or anywhere. NOTHING else was d-u-n. How does that happen? It wasn't because Bubba was the back-up plan.

So nothing's changed in the last year. I think I'm now entitled to be impatient, esp. as I see how the value of guys in this market.

The Pavano (and Wright) stocks will only drop when the season starts. Does anyone really doubt this? Trade one and bring in a young, cheap, legit CF. What, we're wanting to pay 13mil/year for the next Braves youngest to hit FA?

2005-12-08 13:20:12
48.   standuptriple
Do you really think Pavano and Wright can be that much worse than they were last year? I find it pretty far fetched.
2005-12-08 13:24:07
49.   Rob Gee
mainmanmaitland,

It's easier to find a #5 than a starting CF, esp. mid-season. That was shown this year with Wang, Small, and Chacon. I saw just as much experimentation with CF with much less success.

And I have a REALLY hard time believing that something couldn't be worked out with the Tigers if they were willing to give Kenny 16mil/2 years. As with any trade you make a sacrifice. To me, trading a back of the rotation guy with talent who had a tough first go of NYC for a young CF with talent is a no brainer.

2005-12-08 13:30:58
50.   Rob Gee
standuptriple,

They'll probably be somewhere in the same neighborhood. But one year, you can 'spin' as NY pressure. Two years starts to look awfully like the player they are.

That's how we spun Vazquez (even though we really overpaid for Unit) and what Boston's doing with Rent. It's not a bad way to go, since someone will take the gamble, esp. if they're the same folks giving Kenny two years at 18mil and Rafael F. 3 at 39mil. You make it even easier when you pick up part of the tab. You're telling me that Pavano at 6 or 7 someone wouldn't do for a top prospect (Granderson)? Or Wright at 4 or 5? Especially in this market (Burnett), that's a very fair deal.

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2005-12-08 13:32:25
51.   Shawn Clap
Rob Gee,
I like the Granderson solution a whole lot better than that Milton Bradley tonic you were selling last week!
2005-12-08 13:48:26
52.   Rob Gee
Shawn,

Too bad the Granderson tonic will be kept in the Tigers cabinet with the downing of the Rogers shot. Reasons not to be patient.

Last I looked Crazy Uncle MIL-ton can still be had for a decent SP and maybe a prospect. Pull the f'in trigger Cash.

2005-12-08 13:59:13
53.   Rob Gee
And Granderson's not going anywhere with the double shot of Todd Jones at 11mil/years!

You're telling me Pavano at 6 or 7/mil wouldn't get Dave D to send Granderson our way!? No more. This is NOT the time to be patient.

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