Tag Archive | "Glimpse"

We Will Not Waiver

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We Will Not Waiver

Posted on 05 September 2012 by Dennis Lawson

President Selig

President George Bush said this.  Actually, he said something slightly different, and he was not speaking about baseball or revocable waivers.  However, he had a good idea, if you change the words and apply them to MLB.

“We will not waver, we will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail. Peace and freedom will prevail.” -George Bush in 2001

MLB’s revocable waiver period represents a rather illogical extension of the non-waiver trading period.  Teams play a rather ridiculous game of cat-and-mouse using this period after the pseudo-trade deadline expires to dangle players, rid themselves of bloated contracts, or just tease opposing teams with a glimpse at what could be.  The travesty of this lies in the way teams play this demeaning game and in doing so also game the system.

Consider first a scenario in which a team has already concluded that contending for a playoff spot falls into the realm of “pipe dream”.  The team has a few high-profile players signed to deals that run for another 3-4 years.  If they make overtures to trade said players, they risk offending the players as well as the fan base.  If they try to quietly make it know that players “A” and “B” could be had for the right price, someone will inevitably let that information slip to some media person who will tweet the information before concluding the conversation with the “high-placed, reliable source within the organization”.  Get the drift?

Then contemplate a second scenario in which the same team waits until past the trade deadline to make a few calls (or send texts/emails/candygram).  Both players “A” and “B” get quietly placed on revocable waivers.  When someone finally realizes that both players have hit the waiver wire, the GM or a patsy acting on behalf of the GM can always say the move was a strategic one to smoke out potential buyers and better assess weaknesses other teams have.  Also, the team owns some oceanfront property in Arizona and a bridge that it deems fit for sale.

Of course, the waiver process involves teams making claims (or not) which get prioritized from the bottom of one league to the top and repeated from bottom to top in the other league, if no team makes a claim.  This highly sophisticated form of calling “dibs” on a waived player amounts to a lot of sound and smoke that typically signifies absolutely nothing.  Some teams simply use the opportunity to cast off roster fodder in hopes someone else will pick up the tab.  Other teams scour the waiver wire for a guy like Randy Wolf who can handle giving the team a good 6-8 losses by the end of the season.  Then you have what the Dodgers and Red Sox pulled off recently.  Almost a quarter of a billion in payroll changed from one set of books to another.  No issue with that here, but it merits mentioning that under a slightly different system of rules, that deal may have been put together sooner.

That’s not to say that the Dodgers “deserve” to have the services of one Adrian Gonzalez for an extra month, but for another team in another time a similar deal could make a huge difference.  Why not consider either pushing the non-waiver trade deadline back, or changing some of the trading rules to make the waiver period much longer and easier to navigate?  Make this whole process a bit more exciting by making a few not-so-subtle changes, too.

  • All players without no-trade or limited no-trade protection clauses get to create 3 tiers of trade preferences.  Each tier consists of 10 teams.  If the player gets traded to a team in the 1st preferred tier, he gets a pat on the back and plane ticket out of town.  If the player gets traded to a team in the 2nd preferred tier, he gets a bonus equal to 10% of his base salary for the season.  If the player goes to a team in the 3rd preferred tier, he gets a bonus of 20% his base pay and a coupon to 20% off his next meal at Olive Garden.
  • Either the trade deadline gets moved to the end of August, or the entire period from opening day to August 31st becomes a really long, revocable trade period.  Move the trade deadline back, and teams can push off the “fight or flight” decision about playoff legitimacy until the races really take shape.  Go with the waiver plan, and teams have more flexibility to be active without inviting public relations nightmares to surface.

Why all the trouble?  Legit question.  The current system worked fine for a while, and few would complain about keeping it a while longer.  However, the addition of 1 more wild card spot in each league completely changes things.  Maybe the first wild card spot projects in mid-July to go to a team that hits 91-92 wins.  Under that condition, a lot of teams hovering close to a .525-50 winning percentage have to seriously consider whether to buy, sell, or hold.  Let us then say that the 2nd wild card spot projects to go for around 88 wins.  That brings a lot of potential contenders back into the conversation.  Unfortunately, mid-July and early October are separated by an awful lot of games on the schedule.

What if a team decides on August 1st that it can really make a run with just a little added help?  The current system makes it very difficult for that team to finagle a #3 starting pitcher or a middle infielder who can hit .270.  Seems like a real shame to me.  Give the waiver/trade system more flexibility, and maybe the redistribution of talent will increase the number of games that “count” later in the season as more teams than ever before consider themselves contenders.  What is there to lose?  Sure, the gap between the “haves” and “have nots” could widen at first, and the 2012 Dodgers might be the case study for that happening.  However, the 2015 Dodgers might produce the case study for how talent redistribution via the exchange of bloated contract obligation tranches brings down a franchise for years.

Let the big money players make the same moves big money players have always made, but give the small market teams more chances to dump contracts onto them.  It could help effectively level the playing field without altering the luxury tax system or the revenue sharing process.  Think about it.

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R.A. Dickey, New York Mets, sell his stock!

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Fantasy Baseball Stock Watch: R.A Dickey…Buy?

Posted on 23 July 2012 by Patrick Hayes

Fantasy Baseball Stock Watch – R.A. Dickey, Tommy Milone and Yovani Gallardo

Welcome back to another edition of Fantasy Baseball Stock Watch. This week I am featuring three starting pitchers who have had varying levels of success in this 2012 year. I want to prefix by making note that I currently do not own any of these three, but I wish I did for the reasons below. On with the stock watch!

R.A. Dickey – SP, New York Mets

R.A.  Dickey, New York Mets, sell his stock!

#2 on ESPNs 5×5 Player Rater for SPs

R.A. (Robert Allen, in case you were wondering) has been one of the most surprising and intriguing stories of the year thus far. With an ADP of 298, he has been your waiver-wire goldmine to date. His WAR ranks 5th of SPs at 3.4, t-1st for wins with 13, ERA of 2.84 for 10th and a WHIP of 1.01 for 5th overall. Needless to say, he has been stellar thus far.

On the flip side, his season K/9 of 8.91 is considerably higher than his career average of 6.01 which indicates he is playing with house money at this point. His last 34 1/3 IP have been of the rocky-road variety, and I’m not talking about the delicious ice cream. Yielding 20 Earned Runs in his last five appearances (ERA of 5.24, WHIP of 1.37), it seems that a switch may have been flipped. Couple this with the atrocious Mets defense and an ugly skid of losing 9 in 10 games and you are left with a glimpse of reality that doesn’t have a favorable future. Now is the perfect time to include him in a trade to an owner that will gobble up his stats so far this year while hoping the past few outings are just a hiccup in a stellar year.

My verdict: Perfect Sell High Candidate

Tommy Milone – SP, Oakland Athletics

Tommy  Milone, Oakland A's, buy this pitcher!

#29 on ESPNs 5×5 Player Rater for SPs

Tommy Milone on the other hand, has been stellar of late. In his last 32 IP he has only walked two batters, while striking out 34 and yielding four earned runs. He also has been a key ingredient to Oakland’s still-baffling success this year. While he doesn’t fair quite so well outside of The Coliseum (5.69 to .91 road to home ERA), his BABIP is down this year to .282, which is closer to his career average. However, four of his next six starts will be at home.

Bottom line, I love how he isn’t giving many free passes to base runners and being effective in his outings (could throwing his change-up more often be part of this reason?). Don’t expect him to fan 10 each time he goes out, just like he did versus the Yankees, but play him with confidence knowing that you will get six of seven innings pitched while giving up a few hits, but your ERA and WHIP will be lower because of it. In my eyes, he would be a good player to secondarily target in part of a bigger trade, or while positioning yourself next year if you are out of the playoffs and are looking for a bargain keeper in dynasty leagues.

My verdict: Buy Low Candidate

Yovani Gallardo – SP, Milwaukee Brewers

Yovani  Gallardo, Milwaukee Brewers, must frustrating pitcher ever?

#40 on ESPNs 5×5 Player Rater for SPs

Mr.Galalrdo has been a frustrating pitcher to many owners throughout the course of this 26 year-old’s career so far. The only consistent aspect to his pitching each year is the inconsistencies, seemingly without reason. This year is more of the same, brilliance one start(7 IP, 14K’s, 4 H, 1 ER vs PIT on July 15th) and then aggravation the next (5 2/3 IP, 1 K, 9 H, 4 ER at CIN on July 21st).

He has all of talent in the world (career K/9 north of 9.05) but continues to struggle with his control (career BB/9 of 3.49). Because of this, he may never grow into the ace pitcher role on any staff, but will always be considered a solid number two option in any rotation. Taking all of this into consideration, he is still a pitcher on your team, but will require patience and tempered expectations. If/when he ever turns that corner and increases his control, you will be glad you have him on your staff.

My verdict: Hold while crossing your arms in anxious angst.

Reactions and opinions are always welcomed. Find me on twitter: @pf_hayes

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The Roy Oswalt Watch

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The Roy Oswalt Watch

Posted on 24 May 2012 by Dennis Lawson

Oswalt Watch

Roy Oswalt hath descended from the mountaintops to declare himself available to pitch for the right team and presumably, the right price.  Thank goodness, because I was just sitting in a bean bag chair wondering exactly what baseball would do without Ol’ Roy.  Honestly, the kind of impact this guy could have might be measured in World Series championships.  He practically dwarfs the comeback of Michael Jordan to baseball with the manner in which he could affect a team, nay a whole division or even all of baseball.  He might just be that important.  Or not.

When baseball fans last got a glimpse of Oswalt throwing off of a real pitcher’s mound in a real game, he was not exactly about to run off with a trophy named after Cy Young.  Oswalt finished his version of 2011 with a career high in ERA (3.69), WHIP (1.338), H/9 (9.9) and a career low in SO/9 (6.0).  Pitching effectiveness aside, Oswalt’s health was the biggest issue in 2011, and it should also be on the minds of anybody interested in signing RO.

Oswalt has thrown for the Phillies and Red Sox, and he has already declared his intention to be a starter and not a reliever.  He potentially makes sense for a number of teams, and the 2 teams that met in the last World Series are among them.  Is he worth the risk?  If so, what is he actually worth to a potential contender?

If the various sports outlets were abuzz with “Oswalt can no longer pitch” rumors, then this article would not be worth the 11 minutes taken to author it.  However, no such news abounds, and Oswalt probably looked about normal for someone who would likely require a month or more to be prepared to throw a pitch that really counts in a game.  That said, he almost has to be worth the risk to some team desperate for another arm just to eat up some innings.  Despite the fact that he basically pitched just 2/3 of a season in 2011, he still managed 2.0 WAR for the Phillies.  If he can manage anything close to his “bad” numbers from last season for about half a season in 2012, he conservatively could provide a team with 1.0-1.2 WAR.  A reasonable guesstimate puts his payroll number at around $4-5M for a few months of renting the little “O”.

Then again, there exists no law, bylaw, or principle that dictates MLB teams or even players have to be “reasonable”.  Just think in terms of all the teams within 5 games of the wild card lead and the corresponding payrolls for each of them.  For some it might be reasonable to take on Oswalt and the associated salary bump in order to try to catch lightning in a bottle.  For others, the risk might be deemed too great or the price too high.  Which is which, though?

The AL

  • Angels (5 games back) – $151.7M
  • Mariners (4.5 games back) – $79.5M
  • Tigers (3 games back) – $132.5M
  • White Sox (2.5 games back) – $95.9M
  • Red Sox (2.5 games back) – $173.1M
  • A’s (2 games back) – $54.5M
  • Yankees (1.5 games back) – $207.2M
  • Blue Jays (2nd in AL WC) – $82.1M
  • Rays (leading AL WC) – $63.2M

The NL

  • Astros (4 games back) – $59.0M
  • Pirates (4 games back) – $50.9M
  • Phillies (3.5 games back) – $173.1M
  • Mets (1 game back) – $91.6M
  • Giants (1 game back) – $129.4M
  • Reds (.5 games back) – $81.3M
  • Marlins (2nd in NL WC) – $99.7M
  • Braves (leading NL WC) – $92.7M

Granted, Oswalt has expressed a variety of preferences since last season.  At different times, he has specifically gone on record as favoring a contending team, a team relatively close to home, an NL team, a team that allows sock puppets in the club house, and a team that will pretty much guarantee him a starting role.  Just go ahead and toss out those preferences for a moment.  Does anybody really think that Oswalt would turn down a huge payday to go to an AL team, located far from home as long as that team is contending?  After all, we’re really only talking about 3 months plus the playoffs at most.  That said, here is my top 5 list in descending order of handicapped chances.

  1. Phillies – He has already done the dog and pony show for the Phillies, and the team stands only 3.5 games back of the WC lead.  Oswalt’s familiarity with the team, the city, and especially the primary catcher could sway him back to the City of Brotherly Love.  Also, the Phillies may have noticed that the clock is really ticking on their window of opportunity, and adding Oswalt wouldn’t be a huge addition to the opening day payroll.  The recent injury to Vance Worley might even make Oswalt more attractive than he was before the injury.
  2. Rangers – Despite looking like the best team in the AL, the Rangers have to remain concerned about the starts they have been getting from both Matt Harrison and Derek Holland.  Although they have other options, it would be a shame to move Ogando from what currently figures to be one of the top shutdown bullpens in the league.  Maybe the Rangers were just doing their “due diligence” in checking on Oswalt, but that might be another way of saying “looking to sign”.  Also, signing Oswalt keeps him from the competition, and bringing that factor into play would be a savvy move right now.
  3. Blue Jays – Despite having the best run differential in their division, the Blue Jays find themselves looking up at both the Orioles and the Rays.  Adding Oswalt to basically replace the #5 starter would cost the team a hefty amount compared to the current payroll, but this might be the year to ride Brett Lawrie, Kelly Johnson, Yunel Escobar, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, and J.P. Arencibia all the way to the playoffs.
  4. Red Sox – The Sox have not made the playoffs since 2009, and they haven’t tasted any playoff success since 2008.  If Oswalt can provide a steadying influence in Boston, he might be worth the gamble.  After all, the Red Sox have nothing to lose, since they currently dwell in the AL East’s basement.
  5. Reds – The Reds sit at 23-19 which puts them 2 games above their projected Pythagorean record.  The team’s lack of quality starting pitching has been masked by late game comebacks, but likely regression could end that trend at any time.  It’s not that I don’t have faith in their offense, but not many teams can keep it rolling when the bullpen has almost as many wins (10) as the starting rotation (13).

Of course, nobody knows exactly what Oswalt will do, but based on all considerations, the 5 listed above seem the “best” destinations, even if they do not seem the likeliest at first inspection.



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The Carlos Pena Effect

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The Carlos Pena Effect

Posted on 19 March 2012 by Dennis Lawson



The Tampa Bay Rays may very well get to opening day with a team payroll of around $70M which is quite admirable for a team that competes with the likes of the Yankees and the Red Sox.  Maybe that is why I find it fascinating to watch how the Rays operate.  The opportunity to get a glimpse of the collective thought process may be rare, but it seems that such an opportunity has been afforded to those following closely enough to notice.

Ask yourselves why a team that plans to spend around $70M would dedicate over 10% of that amount to a free agent who hit .225 last season and costs twice as much as the guy he will replace.  Seriously give that some consideration.  Casey Kotchman played 1222 1/3 innings at 1B for the Rays last season and committed 2 errors.  The only other guy to give the Rays double digit games at 1B last season was Dan Johnson, and he hit a paltry .119.  On the other hand, Kotchman hit .306/.378/.422/.800 with 10 hr and 48 rbi.  Despite the really solid season (2.9 WAR), Kotchman was not invited back to the Rays and found employment with Cleveland ($3M for 2012).

Obviously the Rays are looking for more power at first base, and they secured it in the form of Carlos Pena for $7.25M.  The same Carlos Pena hit .225/.357/.462/.819 last year for the Cubs.  Of Pena’s 111 hits 28 were home runs, though.  Pena possesses an abundance of power – the application of which he finds to be somewhat of a challenge  at times.  Basically, he makes contact with the ball with a great infrequency.  Pena struck out 161 times in just 493 at-bats in 2011.  That practically makes him the left-handed Mark Reynolds who struck out a league-leading 196 times last year.

The all-or-nothing approach combined with a good eye for pitches outside the zone makes him strangely yet ideally suited for the Rays.  As a team, the Rays need more offensive punch, and they must absolutely be efficient with the scoring opportunities they have.  They finished 15th in all of baseball with 707 runs scored last season.  The ranking seems respectable until you realize that their division competition includes the 1st (Boston – 874), 2nd (Yankees – 867), and 6th (Toronto – 743) most prolific scoring offenses in the game.  The Rays ended the 2011 season 10th in the league in home runs, and again they trailed the Yankees (1st), Red Sox (3rd), and the Blue Jays (5th).  The Rays simply lack the “big bombers” the competition has.  No problem, right?

If you truly believe that a walk is as good as a hit, then Pena is your guy.  He walked 101 times last season which helped prop up his on base percentage at .357.  That sounds relatively unspectacular, but a guy named Albert Pujols only topped that by 9 points.  Sure, Pujols hit 37 hr to Pena’s 28.  Pujols also collected 99 rbi versus Pena’s 80.  However, Pujols did also hit into 29 double plays while Pena only hit into 6.  On average, Pujols will cost the Angels roughly $24M per year for the next decade.  Pena will cost the Rays $7.25M for just one year.  In this apples versus expensive oranges comparison, I find it difficult to imagine Pujols will really be worth over 3x what Pena will be worth.

The actual apples to apples comparison pits Kotchman versus Pena.  The cost differential between the two players theoretically buys more power which translates to lineup protection as well.  The intangible value of having someone that opponents “fear” in the batter’s box may not be some intangible after all.  The Rays have basically placed a dollar value on it.  It is not so much “bang for your buck” as it is the “Carlos Pena Effect”.

FYI – Carlos Pena’s batting average on balls in play (BABIP) in 2011 was .267 while Pujols had a .277 BABIP.  Kotchman will make less in 2012 than either player, and his BABIP was .335.  The lesson here?  As Hall of Famer Wee Willie Keeler famously said, “hit ‘em where they ain’t”, and there “ain’t” nobody playing on the backside of the bleachers.

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