Tuesday, February 05, 2008

AL Central Round-Up. 2/5/08.

Chicago White Sox

  • The Chicago Tribune does a nice job of making Carlos Quentin appear to be a mental midget. Which is a good fit in the South Side where everyone from Carl Everett to Brian Anderson to Billy Koch, hell, to Ozzie Guillen and Kenny Williams have been questioned for their makeup. When the White Sox swapped low-A masher Chris Carter for triple-A/mlb ready prospect Carlos Quentin they essentially received what they had already had stockpiled: a corner outfielder. The White Sox have Jermaine Dye, Josh Fields and now Nick Swisher, it would seem that Quentin does not have a guaranteed spot. Even manager Ozzie Guillen doesn't know what to quite make of him: "If Quentin plays the way people talk about him, oh, my goodness," Sox manager Ozzie Guillen told the Tribune. "I've got to make my own decision because I've never seen him play." Quentin has been accused of "tinkering" with his swing at the slightest sign of a slump and has employed "mental coaching" as part of his conditioning.
  • What is ironic is what the Sox could have really used is a centerfielder-type like Chris Young, whom along with Justin Upton and Eric Byrnes, was blocking Quentin in the D'Backs organization. Young was acquired from the White Sox in December, 2005 along with Orlando Hernandez and Luis Vizcaino for Javier Vazquez. Last season, for $12.5 million, Vazquez contributed 19 win shares. For a fraction of that ($380,000) Young contributed 16 win shares to the Diamondbacks. This is just one of many trades that Kenny Williams will be regretting.
  • Speaking of regrettable Williams orchestrated trades, here is a whole slew of them that will benefit the Oakland A's come 2010.
  • In a rather minor trade, the White Sox shipped flame-throwing rhp David Aardsma to the Boston Red Sox for two low-A relievers. This might be another case on a team giving up way too early on a decent arm. Despite his wild spells (walk rate of 11.3% in 2007), Aardsma can get the strike out (23.5% strike out rate). His detriment was lack of defense - opponents hit over .400 on balls put in play. If the Red Sox can harness his control, he has the potential to be a lights-out set-up guy.

Cleveland Indians

  • One good thing that may have come from parting with Johan Santana is now CC Sabathia may be priced out of Cleveland. The Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes:

The average annual value of the offer is between $17 million and $18 million a year. Carlos Zambrano's AAV with the Cubs is $18.3 million. Jake Peavy's AAV is $17.3 million for his new three-year extension with San Diego. The Indians' offer fits well there, especially since Sabathia and Peavy are the defending Cy Young winners.

The problem is the six-year, $137.5 million extension Johan Santana signed Friday with the Mets to complete his trade from Minnesota. Santana's contract averages $22.92 million a year.

It's hard to expect the Indians to meet New York prices, but they're probably going to have make adjustments because Sabathia, who compares favorable with Santana in many statistical categories, is a free agent after the 2008 season.

  • You have to admire the frankness of the Indians front office. When pressed by the repercussions of the Santana trade-and-sign GM Mark Shapiro told ESPN: "Recognizing the market we're operating in, we have to be aware of risk and we have to be careful," Shapiro said. "There are people like C.C. who will push the boundaries of our risk tolerance. C.C., because of who he is as a person, as a teammate, as a man and what he can do on the mound, will push the boundaries of our risk tolerance. Frankly, he already has." Assistant General Manager Chris Antonetti echoed Shapiro's sentiment by saying "It varies according to the level of risk. We have guidelines and parameters that are important to us based on the success and failure of previous contracts. But each contract and each player is unique."
  • For those of you who think that a new stadium is a blank check, please reference the statement above and the Indians franchise on the whole. The Jake cum Progressive Field hasn't faced much of a problem selling tickets yet Cleveland will still be hard-pressed to retain the best left-handed pitcher remaining in the AL Central. You can use the "miserly owner" as the scapegoat but in the end it will come back to the market-size and revenue generated. Had Victory Sports Network caught on as the premiere channel to watch Twins games, we might be seeing an escalation in the budget (and the retention of one Johan Santana). This revenue stream has done wonders for Boston and New York. Then again, it has failed in Kansas City where they will be broadcasting on FoxSports instead of their own station.
  • The Indians also signed Jorge Julio to a minor league contract. A right-handed relief arm, Julio had a good resurgence with the Rockies last season as he turned in a 3.93 era in 52.2 innings of work. He finished with a 22.6% strike out rate and a 9.0% walk rate. This is a cheap contract that if Julio is able to regain his 2007 composure, he would be another decent (and inexpensive) option in the bullpen.

Detroit Tigers

  • With the escalating costs of genuine centerfielders, this multi-year contract with Curtis Granderson might have been the best off-season move the Tigers made. Totaling 5-years, $30.25 million, Granderson will make $1 million in 2008 and then $10 million in 2011. Last season Granderson put up nearly identical offensive numbers to the NL MVP Jimmy Rollins (who will be making $5 million next year). He strikes out in 20%+ of his plate appearances but it is hard to argue against a .912 ops. With the kind of ground he covers at Comerica, Granderson should also be considered for an MVP at some point in his career. Plus I love the fact that Granderson is a Northwoods League alum. Kind of makes him "one of us".
  • As the Tigers start emerging as the premier hated big-budget team in the AL Central that has worn out its feel-good story, I will definitely root for Anthony Tomey after reading this Detroit Free Press article about the Tigers farm hand that also owns a Jimmy Johns sub shop. There is something life-affirming when reading that after the on-slaught of the Santana salary negotiations.

Kansas City Royals

  • After giving up on a useful role player like Emil Brown, the Royals re-sign un-useful Esteban German to a one-year, $1-million contract. Joe Posnanski summarized the feelings of the Royals faithful in Brown, who was their Lew Ford type. While German had a solid 2006 hitting .326/.414/.459 in 331 plate appearances, he came back to earth in 2007 finishing .264/.374/.396 in 401 plate appearance. If Brown is the equivalent to Lew Ford, German is the Nick Punto of the Kansas City Royals.
  • Here's something that might make some Royals fans happy: the future (Now in top ten prospect flavor! Still with that great Baseball America taste!).
  • Speaking of Posnanski, since he is the best thing to come out of Kansas City besides I-35, check out his blog yesterday. Solid stuff on the Super Bowl, but great scene in which he riffs the creation of Gilligan's Island.

Minnesota Twins

  • Somebody named Santana was traded.
  • Dear Anybody Who Will Listen At the Twins Front Office: Please do not sign Josh Fogg. At Fangraph, there are plenty of visual evidence why the Twins should not sign Josh Fogg. Including this nugget of oppenent batting average. Yuck.
  • Josh Fogg AVG : Season Stats Comparison Graph
  • You want more? How about a WHIP comparison...
  • Josh Fogg WHIP : Season Stats Comparison Graph
  • I love sifting through archives of local newspapers. That is why I dig the Star Tribune's Yesterday News blog. This article covering the 1976 Bert Blyleven trade is priceless. The caption under the photograph of Bert reads that he is 19-years-old. I have to say that he doesn't look a day under 47 in that. You decide. La Velle took a crack at the new Top Twenty Twins Prospects in lieu of the Santana trade.
  • Seth gives his rundown of the 2008 Twins roster. One thing that is glaring to me is the abscence of Glen Perkins. Yes, he had the arm issues, but I truly think that Perkins will emerge as a solid candidate in spring training.
  • The Gleeman is running down the Top Forty Prospects in the system.
  • According to Jayson Stark, the Mets might take another option off of our table: Kenny Lofton.