08 December 2004

Pitchers Jumping from Team to Team!, SI Goof Payoff For Me...


Hot Stove News

Al Leiter, Jon Lieber, Matt Mantei, Brad Radke, Jaret Wright, Matt Morris and Tony Womack all signed today, and only two are remaining with his original club(s). These were all some very interesting moves, so let's jump right in...

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As if to reinforce my view that I have one of the three best GMs in sports running my team, Theo Epstein and the Boston Red Sox signed free agent closer Matt Mantei to a one year, $750,000 dollar deal. To call this signing a steal would be a giant understatement.

First of all, Epstein signed a deal that was low risk (the dollars are very low, as is the length) and very high reward (when healthy, Mantei is electric). He is often injured, and while that's certainly a concern, to get a pitcher of this caliber for this cheap is a great shot in the arm.

Add to that the fact that he was not offered arbitration, and the Sox do not have to compensate with draft picks. Mantei, if he can stay healthy, would be a more than able replacement for Scott Williamson as Boston's right-handed setup man for closer Keith Foulke. With 97 MPH fastball, a tight slider, and LOTS of strikeouts, this was a very smart signing. He needs to stay healthy though.

K/9 rate, for his career:

1995- 10.13
1996- 12.27
1998- 10.37
1999- 13.64
2000- 10.52
2001- 15.43
2002- 8.78
2003- 11.13
2004- 10.97

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Al Leiter, a man destined for broadcasting greatness at the end of his career, has signed a one year deal with the Florida Marlins, a team he helped pitch to the 1997 World Series title. Leiter won two with the Blue Jays in 1991/ 1992. No report yet on the terms, but there is no option year, Leiter said.

It was pretty obvious the Mets didn't want Leiter at his asking price any longer, and so the owner of the first ever Marlin no-hitter returns to join a pretty talented rotation of Burnett, Beckett, Willis and... someone else, presuming Pavano leaves. Interestingly, Leiter compared rather favorably with Pavano in 2004. To wit:

LEITER
3.21 ERA, 173.2 IP, 117 K, 97 BB, .682 OPSA, 6.06 K/9
PAVANO
3.00 ERA, 222.1 IP, 139 K, 49 BB, .676 OPSA, 5.63 K/9

You'd still rather have Pavano, but make no mistake- he's been fairly overrated this offseason (Pavano). Best of luck to Al.

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Jon Lieber signed a 3-year, 21 million dollar deal with the Philadelphia Phillies today, bolstering the Phillies staff that was consistently underwhelming all year. The seriously disappointing Kevin Millwood is gone, as is Eric Milton; neither were offered arbitration by last evening, and the Phillies will not be saddened to see them go.

So you're Jon Lieber, and the Yankees got curiously frugal on you in the midst of gluttony the likes of which have never been seen in a baseball team. I doubt a guy like Lieber allowed the decision to become "personal," but it was still such a remarkably strange move by New York, especially considering his success in their Holy Grail of evaluation- the playoffs (AND who they signed today to replace him).

Philadelphia's staff is now anchored by a series of solid pitchers- no world beaters or dominators, but then there is still time for their making a move. I'm sure Ed Wade is regretting that David Bell contract right about now...

Randy Wolf, LHP
Jon Lieber, RHP
Vicente Padilla, RHP
Brett Myers, RHP
Corey Lidle, RHP


Little thin around the backend, but you get the picture. Boy, do I still feel stupid about my preseason NL champs pick...

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So here we are. The Yankees have begun a yearly tradition- The Kenny Lofton Annual Give Everyone Else a Chance By Signing a Wildly Overhyped Player(s) Day, or, KLAGEEACBSAWOPD. Today, they signed Jaret Wright, late of Atlanta, to a three-year, 21 million dollar contract (sound familiar?) and Tony Womack to a two-year, 4 million dollar deal.

Womack will replace Cairo, and for some reason the Yankees have decided it would be in their best interest to get worse at 2B, which is certainly their right. One wonders what Cairo did to warrant such a decision, but c'est la vie. I ain't complaining. Last year, at 35 years of age, Tony Womack placed starter career highs in BA, OBP, and SLG. Granted, the deal was not for a significant amount of money... but why on earth do the Yankees feel compelled to give a guy like Womack two years?! His 2004 season, when considering his career path, was a wild aberration. Miguel Cairo, a far superior player, looked to be willing to get a deal done. The Yankees very easily could have had Womack at a year for 2.5.

Here are Womack's OBP/ SLG in his (starting) career, and his OPS+.

1997- .326/ .374; 82
1998- .319/ .357; 77
1999- .332/ .370; 80
2000- .307/ .384; 72
2001- .307/ .345; 65
2002- .325/ .353; 73
2003- .251/ .307; 40
2004- .349/ .385; 93

Keep in mind, these are OBP/ SLG, no BA. Just think about these numbers for a second. Would you give this guy two years at the age of 36? God, me either. Sure he can steal a base, and yea, his glove is decent (though steadily declining)- but he is an out-and-out awful major league baseball player. If he's the Yankee starter, it's a godsend, and with his OBP, if he's the leadoff man, the Yanks are going to be scoring a lot fewer runs.

Next, of course, was Jaret Wright, who had a very fine year for the Atlanta Braves. But he, like Womack, had a great 04- and really stinky numbers from 03 backward. ERA+ numbers for Wright in his career:

1997- 107
1998- 102
1999- 83
2000- 107
2001- 69
2002- 29
2003- 54
2004- 131

The only thing that Jaret Wright has done over his career that Lieber hasn't is suck hard. Lieber sucked early on in his career-- but not very hard. In 2001, for instance, Jaret Wright sucked hard. 2004 was an aberration, and his best year- in which he only managed to throw 183 innings and strike out 159. Who was his pitching coach in 2004? Leo Mazzone. Who will it be in year one of his three year contract? Mel Stottlemyre. Talk about night and day, eh?

I don't think Wright will be terrible, but this should strike fear into the heart of no AL team, least of all the Red Sox. I can hear David Ortiz licking his chops all the way from Manoguayabo.

Interesting note: while flipping through Buster Olney's The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty, I noticed an interesting claim. Olney claimed that Roger Clemens was hated with a fervor by his Yankee teammates before joining them (when they grew to love him) rivaled only by two players: Jerry Hairston of Baltimore... and Jaret Wright of Cleveland. Olney gave no reason, or if the resentment was the lingering type.

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Brad Radke and Matt Morris will stick with their respective teams, signing a two year and one year deal, respectively. Radke's AAV is 9 million, Morris' 2.5 million.

It was pretty obvious from day one that Radke wanted back with Minnesota, and Gammons repeatedly was reporting that his agent was asking for lower than the three years Minnesota was ready to commit to. Word is Radke is looking to retire at the end of the pact.

Morris though, has been declining steeply in recent years and the pay cut he's taking- 10.5 to 2.5- was to be expected. I didn't read about any significant interest from any other teams.

All the arbitration news is now in, and those players NOT offered arbitration have had their tenure with said club effectively ended. Here are some notable non-arbitrationees:

Troy Glaus- Angels
Jeff Kent- Astros
Jermaine Dye- Athletics
Carlos Delgado- Blue Jays
J.D. Drew- Braves
Russ Ortiz- Braves
Moises Alou- Cubs
Steve Finley- Dodgers
Al Leiter- Mets
Eric Milton- Phillies
Kevin Millwood- Phillies
Jeromy Burnitz- Rockies
Magglio Ordonez- White Sox

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Yo, Sports Illustrated totally effed up on this one. I initially wanted to get this "Free Championship Package," so I decided that if it cost a year's subscription to SI, it was Kool and the Gang for me. I was committed not to let money get in the way of World Series stuff.

But a year subscription to SI is over eighty dollars. I was full of shit- that's too much money. So, I called up, cancelled, got back the $80+, and no one was harmed. No biggie.

So when I got a mystery parcel slip in the mail yesterday, I was really curious as to what it could be. When the box read "Sports Illustrated" on the top, I was completely mystified. To open it and find the ball-in-glove faux-trophy part of the free gift was amazingly unexpected. It's chessey, cheap looking and goofy- but it was free, it says "Red Sox," "World Series" and "Champions," so it's peaches and gravy for me.

Now, if I were to get the leather-bound book... man, that'd be fucking retarded great.

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And for all you well-wishers... Wanda, aka Chewbacca, is making a tremendous recovery, albeit a slightly unlikely one. That little pup was real sick, but she is currently bopping around the apartment as we speak. Good stuff.

If you would like to join the Wanda Elaine Fan Club, email Bullshit Memorial and we'll hammer it out. When you join, you get... I don't know, pictures and stuff. She's a fucking beautiful dog.



Do it. Do it.

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