Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Click-Bait Worthy MLB Predictions pt.3

A Visit to the Mound

Baseball fans over-analyzing an over-analyzed game
Image result for mound visit
But Coach, I only sent that pic to one girl.
A Visit to the Mound is regularly updated series of emails touching on a wide range of baseball subjects. 


I think on a very direct player for player, in a vacuum style of evaluation, the Dodgers won this trade.  The 2 big prizes for the Sox in that trade, Webster and De La Rosa, were turned into Wade Miley, a guy expected to be a serviceable #4 and nothing else.  A Gon is in the heart of the Dodgers order and a huge key to their success.  However, things don't exist in a vacuum and the Sox won this trade in the big picture purely for the financial relief it gave them. The Carl Crawford signing was a black eye on the Theo Epstein era, it was as if The Eagles decided to end their career on a salsa covers album.  Despite all the amazing things they accomplished, recency effect is a real thing and people only remember the beginnings and ends of things.  This trade got the team out from under the majority of that contract.  As much as all Sox fans love Josh beckett for 2007, his surly attitude only works when he's pitching well. He had worn out his welcome in Boston.  The biggest benefit of this trade was of course the financial bailout that came with it, the scale of which we haven't seen since the financial crisis. With the Dodgers playing the role of the federal government,the money saved allowed the Sox to go on a unique spending spree, one of value and volume, that lead to the 2013 World Series....and then finishing last place in 2014.  The Ben Cherington era has been all or nothing so far, and this year it appears as if he's going all in on the "all" part again.  

Uncle Bones

In the end it would seem to me that the "Great Dodgers-Red Sox Swap of 2012" was one of those odd baseball trades where every one was a winner, but for different reasons. It shows how much the financial aspects of the game are as much of a factor when it comes to roster building and player movement as the actual talent of the player. Basketball has it to a certain extent, but now have a system in place for bailing out owners and GM's who lose their minds on contracts. I'm sure hockey has something... I mean the shut down the whole sport because ownership thought players were making too much... And the NFL, my God. Those players make peanuts compared to what baseball players make, can be cut at a moments notice AND football the most profitable sport in America.

But none of that in baseball. You sign a contract and that money is guaranteed and you typically stay on a roster until the contract is over (although sometimes a team will each money for a year). Thats one of the things that makes the Red Sox current approach to roster building so fascinating. They clearly have a plan and they are sticking to it.

Without rehashing the Red Sox moves of the last the years I'm gonna hone in on the recently announced Rick Porcello deal. Understanding this whole deal starts with Jon Lester around this time last year when he had turned down what seemed to be a low ball offer from the Sox for something around 4yrs/$70 mil. I believe that Red Sox when they say that this was just a starting number, but I also don't blame Lester's team for tabling the whole thing. He knew he'd make way more money than that and even if he blew his arm out on Opening Day, the Sox would still likely sign him for that.

So on it went, with the Sox falling out of contention and ultimately dealing an age 30 Lester to Oakland for Yoenis Cespedes who I also believe that the Red Sox were interested in retaining (at the right price). I also think that they were curious in feeling out Cespedes with the impending bidding wars for other Cuban players like Rusney Castillo, Yosmany Thomas, and Yoan Moncada on the horizon. They had just missed out on sensation Jose Abreu and they didn't want to be left holding the bag again. Then by the offseason w/ Ramirez and Castillo in the fold, Betts on the horizon, and Victorino still kicking about, the Red Sox traded Cespedes for Rick Porcello. Porcello who has great peripheral numbers and who thrives with a great defense behind him. Porcello who will be 26 this season with the kind of easy delivery that typically avoids the DL.

The Red Sox then gave Porcello the same money they wanted to give Lester except now they are paying for all of his years up to age 30 instead of all of the years after 30. And while that seems like a shocking number at first, watch what Jordan Zimmermann (30 in 2016), Johnny Cueto (30 in 2016), Ian Kennedy (31 in 2016), Jeff Samardzija (31 in 2016), David Price (30 in 2016), Mat Latos (28 in 2016) get next off season. The list is huge, I could go on. The Red Sox already have 3 rotation spots locked up for next year (assuming they pick up Buchholz's option and that Joe Kelly isn't starting next year; either way) with atleast 2-3 pitchers at Triple A who could fill the void. Or they could take a short term plunge on any of the starting FA's who miss out next year's on bonanza.

The Yankees have no such options. They are already down one starting pitcher, the 35 year old Chris Capuano, are stuck with a broken CC Sabathia, and a more than likely TJ bound Tanaka. Then again they've got Pineda & Nova, 2 pitchers under 30 who have yet to pitch a whole season. Oh and Nate Evoldi who might want to just sign baseball's before he throws them as they could make great collector's items as they fly over the right field wall at Yankees stadium. They are going to have to sign at least one or two of the marquee pitching FA's if they are serious about contending and they will probably pay sticker only to be left to 2 broken down 35 year old pitchers 5 years from now.


All valid points.  The Yanks have been in "should have rebuilt" mode for a few years, and now are definitely in that mode. That is not a fanbase that is necessarily comfortable in a rebuild.


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