Showing posts with label Mark Teixeira. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mark Teixeira. Show all posts

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Braves smartly investing in young core

A tip for frugality that gets passed around from time to time is to shop in your pantry for dinner instead of buying all new ingredients for that night's meal. Find something you can use that you've already got, and work from there.

Andrelton Simmons tells reporters
how awesome it is to be rich.
The Braves have decided to do something similar this offseason. Instead of focusing on the free agent market, they've instead worked to sign some of their young players to big contract extensions to keep them in Atlanta for years to come.

The latest in the line of extensions was the seven-year, $58 million deal for young shortstop Andrelton Simmons. The Braves decided to go all-in on the 24-year-old after only one full season in the big leagues.

This move came after locking up closer Craig Kimbrel (4 years, $42 million, plus a team option), first baseman Freddie Freeman (8 years, $135 million) and starting pitcher Julio Teheran (6 years, $32.4 million, plus a team option).

These are all big investments in players already on the Braves' roster, and looking at each one individually, each also has its risks.

Simmons is pretty light on experience and hasn't even shown he's an average hitter yet. Freeman has posted only one monster season, his most recent, yet his contract was among the biggest given to a player with his service time. Teheran and Kimbrel are both pitchers who could get hurt. Teheran, like Simmons, also only has one full year of experience, and as good as Kimbrel has been, he's still only a closer expected to throw around 70 innings a year.

Atlanta is definitely agreeing to fork out more money the next few years than it would by going year-to-year, renewing the contracts and taking these players to arbitration when they accrue enough service time for that. 

But here's the way I look at these deals, and I'm sure how the Braves do, too:

Simmons is already an amazing defender and a nonzero with the bat. If he never gets any better, the Braves will get a good value out of this contract. If he makes adjustments and becomes an average or better hitter -- which his minor league track records suggests he can -- then this contract is a massive bargain.

Freeman's huge 2013 came after two good-but-not-great years for a first baseman. But it's hard to fault Freeman for being the best first baseman in the organization as a 21- and 22-year-old. Now just 24, he's already more accomplished than Mark Teixeira was at the same age. Unless something goes wrong, the Braves will be paying much less for the very best years of Freeman's career than the Yankees paid ($180 million) for Teixeira's last great year, three decent years, and what might be four awful, useless years.

The same goes for Kimbrel, who will cost less than other closers such as Joe Nathan, Jonathan Papelbon, Francisco Cordero and ... hold your breath ... B.J. Ryan ... have cost teams on contracts signed over the last decade. Kimbrel could have even eclipsed this total by going to arbitration with his gaudy save and strikeout totals.

Having Teheran under control means not having to plug a rotation hole with an unproven or more expensive player.

And don't forget the pay scale in baseball is only going up right now.

The Braves do lose some flexibility with these deals. If any of these guys gets hurt, or just becomes awful, Atlanta can't just nontender them and walk away. But that's the case when teams choose to sign a player from outside the organization to a huge contract as a free agent. (Too keep it close to Atlanta here, don't you think the Braves wish they could flush Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton and the rest of their contracts down the memory hole?)

Even if the total dollars in these contracts seem eye-popping right now, they still pale in comparison to some of the deals given to players not under team control.

The Braves are climbing on the hook for some big paychecks here, but in return they're keeping the pantry stocked without paying free agent prices, which means they stand to put a good team on the field and save money in the long run.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Does anyone want these five MLB free agents?

Ubaldo Jimenez
Does your favorite team still need a starting pitcher? Well, there are two free agents out there who might interest you. Both of them had ERAs of 3.30 or better last season -- in the American League, no less.

How about a middle-of-the-order hitter? There are two free agents available who can almost certainly give your team 20 home runs and about 75 or 80 RBIs.

Need defense? The starting shortstop from last year's World Series championship team is available, too.

The Super Bowl is over, and it's almost time for spring training to begin. However, pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana are without contracts. Also without a job are first baseman Kendrys Morales, outfielder Nelson Cruz and shortstop Stephen Drew.

All five players were given qualifying offers to return to their 2013 teams on a one-year, $14.1 million deal. All five declined and elected free agency. Here on Feb. 4, the waiting game continues for each player.

Why? Phil Rogers explained it in a recent column on Any team that signs one of these five guys would have to give up a first-round draft pick to that player's former team.

These days, teams are a little slower to part with those draft picks. Remember when the St. Louis Cardinals lost Albert Pujols in free agency? Don't cry for the Cardinals because they used the compensatory draft pick they received from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to select pitcher Michael Wacha, who was last seen helping the Cardinals to the 2013 NL pennant.

And don't cry for the Angels either. When they lost Mark Teixeira in free agency after the 2008 season, they received a compensatory draft pick from the New York Yankees and used it to select outfielder Mike Trout, who is probably the best young position player in the sport today.

So, if you're wondering why decent major league players like the five listed above are still looking for work, look no further than the rules about compensatory draft picks. GMs are now figuring the loss of a valuable draft pick into the "cost" of signing these free agents, and accordingly, they aren't willing to give as much money to guys like Ervin Santana. Clubs are going to wait until the last minute to sign these players, once the price comes down to bargain levels.

Eventually, these five players are going to get a contract with somebody. You won't need to cry for them either, because they won't go hungry. But they probably aren't going to get the money they believe they're worth, and they may not even get the $14.1 million they could have had by staying with their 2013 teams.

Most -- if not all -- of these players would already be signed if they weren't tied to draft pick compensation. But this is the gamble they took when they refused those qualifying offers, and here they sit on Feb. 4.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Joe Girardi to the Cubs? Idiotic speculation or a real possibility?

New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi's contract is up at the end of the season. You know what that means. It is time for renewed speculation that Girardi will "come home" to manage the Cubs.

Chicago Tribune columnist Phil Rogers is leading the media charge with his piece in today's paper.

Rogers and others have reported the Cubs are open to the possibility of replacing manager Dale Sveum, who frankly has had no chance to win the last two years with the crappy rosters he has been handed. But, perhaps Cubs brass is unhappy with Sveum because supposed core players Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro and Jeff Samardzija have all taken a step backward this season.

My opinion on Sveum? Take him or leave him. I don't think he's anything special as a field boss, but the truth is no manager ever born could have coaxed the Cubs teams of the last two years to anything close to a .500 record, let along playoff contention.

As for Girardi, I'd be stunned if the Yankees don't offer him another contract. Even though New York will likely not make the playoffs, Girardi has done an unbelievable job of keeping a mediocre roster in contention deep into September.

Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson have barely played this season. Alex Rodriguez, as usual, has created a circus around that team. C.C. Sabathia has had the worst season of his career. New York's pitching, statistically, is worse than both of the woeful Chicago baseball teams this year. Despite all that, Girardi is going to squeeze 85 to 87 wins out of a team that had to give way too many at-bats to guys like Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay and Eduardo Nunez. Girardi's a good manager. He's better than Sveum. There's no denying that.

But would he leave New York for Chicago? What would be his motivation to do that? His local roots, I suppose. He's from Peoria. He attended Northwestern, and he played seven of his 15 MLB seasons on the North Side. I can't imagine money would be a motivation. Whatever the Cubs can offer, the Yankees could surely match. I don't think the Cubs can offer Girardi a better on-field situation than what the Yankees have. New York contends every year. The Yankees will find a way next year, too, regardless of who the manager is. They'll open up their pocketbook this offseason and address their holes. They always do. The Cubs, in contrast, are at least another two years away.

Are the local ties enough to pry Girardi out of New York? I don't know, but that's really all the Cubs have to offer. And, if Girardi is sick of New York and ready for a change, he would have other options than Chicago. I hear Washington is looking for a manager, and the Nationals have a team that should be ready to win. Attractive jobs could come open in Texas and Anaheim, as well.

When it comes to the Cubs, it's always hard for me to tell whether some of the local reporting is legitimate news, or just cheerleading from the press box. When I read some of these articles, it almost strikes me as if the Cubs reporters are trying to woo Girardi to Chicago themselves. In the coming months, it will be interesting to see whether that story has legs, or if it's just another round of idiotic speculation at the end of another lost season on the North Side.