December 12, 2019

"I Wish To Subscribe To Your Newsletter"

Tim Marchman:
I respect the Yankees holding the line at nine years for the sweaty guy who was a league-average pitcher all of two years ago. That’s how you do business in the modern, efficient major leagues.


and


Rick Porcello signed a one-year contract with the Mets for $10 million.

The Red Sox signed infielder José Peraza, 25, for 2020 at roughly $3 million and claimed infielder Jonathan Arauz from the Astros in today's Rule 5 Draft.

Peraza spent the last four seasons with the Reds. He's not much of a hitter, putting up a .288/.326/.416 line in 2018, his best full season, which was a bit under league average.

Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich, The Athletic:
Major League Baseball's investigation into the Astros likely will not be completed until after the new year, sources with knowledge of the investigation told The Athletic.

The league's department of investigations has 76,000 emails to examine and has already conducted 60 interviews, commissioner Rob Manfred said Wednesday ... The league also has a store of instant messages to sift through as well, Manfred said. ...

A report shown to be incomplete after the fact would be a wart on the league's credibility ... a point that may underscore Manfred's deliberate approach.

In Wake Of Cole Signing, Red Sox Are Watching And Waiting

In the wake of the MFY's signing of Gerrit Cole to the largest contract ever given to a pitcher, Boston's chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom says the Red Sox have no imminent moves. Trusting the methodical processes he has brought to Boston, Bloom knows making a purely reactionary move would not be a smart decision for a team with a long-range view.
Look, we want to beat the Yankees as badly as anybody — trust me. I think it's just a question of us being able to step back and say, "What is the best approach for us to do that?" The more we feel like we're being reactive to other teams' moves, I think the more we're playing their game. We might be pushing ourselves further from that objective rather than helping ourselves. ...

Having had the good fortune of being in this division for a long time, I'm kind of used to seeing the Yankees, and the Red Sox for that matter, do things over the years. It didn't change things that much in terms of how I reacted to that [with the Rays]. I think it's one of the great things about the challenges of being in, what has been over the course of time probably the toughest division maybe in all of pro sports. You expect the standards to be very high and you expect your rivals to be constantly looking to improve, constantly find ways. The approach from team to team might vary, but you expect them to constantly be doing things to make themselves better. It's important to not get distracted by that. It's important to focus on your own club and how you can accomplish your goals. ...

I think it's been very consistent with the way the group thinks about things, is to really make sure you're not unprepared for any possibility. With that, I think comes at least considering to some degree a wide variety of guys who are out there. You hope that as you get more information that you obviously only have so much focus. You only have so much bandwidth to look into players to really feel like you understand them well.
The Post's Joel Sherman: "Boston probably knew it wasn't better for 2020 than the Yankees, maybe not the Rays either. Then Cole showed up in the AL East." ... His colleague Ken Davidoff takes a more measured tone: "We know how random, how cruel October can be. Cole in pinstripes guarantees nothing. Cole in pinstripes falling short, though? That guarantees more of the same first-world questions and scrutiny that have hovered over this first-world franchise for a decade."

Several teams have expressed an interest in David Price, according to several reports. MLB.com's Ian Browne writes that Boston's payroll is currently projected at about $220 million, a bit more than the Competitive Balance Tax threshold of $208 million the front office would prefer to be at going into 2020.

Browne mentions the Angels and White Sox as possible destinations for Price, who had surgery on his left wrist in September. Red Sox general manager Brian O'Halloran said Price "typically starts his throwing program in early to mid-December and that's the same this year. He's recovered well from wrist surgery and we expect he'll be ready to go like normal at the beginning of spring training".

Bloom: "I don't want to get into specifics of really any trade conversations that we're having. But I think you can see just by looking around the league that pitching has been the story of the week."

December 11, 2019

Yankees Sign Gerrit Cole To Nine-Year Deal Worth $324 Million



George A. King III, Post:
In the type of move George Steinbrenner lived for, his Yankees and son Hal Steinbrenner are back on top of the baseball universe after signing stud right-hander Gerrit Cole to a record-setting, nine-year contract worth a staggering $324 million Tuesday night.

The move sent shock waves through the lobby of the Manchester Grand Hyatt, where the winter meetings are being held, and ... immediately stamped the Yankees as the team to beat in not only the AL East but the American League and the favorites to win the World Series for the first time since 2009.

Cole joining the Yankees turns a good rotation into the best in baseball ... [Cole turned 29 last September]

[I]t took less than a dozen hours to finalize the largest contract ever given to a pitcher and the fourth-highest in baseball history to any player. There is no deferred money and Cole will make $36 million a year. He can opt out after the 2024 season.
Kristie Ackert, Daily News:
The deal obliterates the day-old record set by Stephen Strasburg, who agreed to a contract of $245 million over seven years with the Nationals on Monday afternoon. Cole's average annual value is an eye-popping $36 million.

The Yankees payroll for their 40-man roster was at $209.9 million before the deal and they are already looking for ways to shed excess costs elsewhere. ...

Cole has always been the Yankees priority for improving the front-end of their rotation. ... Having drafted him in 2008 and then having failed in an attempt to trade for him when he was with the Pirates, the right-hander has always been just out of their grasp. ...

[Cole] instantly becomes their ace and brings their rotation into the upper echelon in baseball. Last season, Cole ... led the AL in strikeouts (326) and ERA (2.50) over 212.1 innings pitched in 33 games started. He also had the best fielding-independent pitching rate in the AL with 2.64 and highest strikeout per nine innings pitched (13.8).

December 8, 2019

Marvin Miller Elected To Hall Of Fame; His Family Will Not Participate In Ceremony

"If they vote me in after I'm gone, please let everyone you know it is against my wishes and tell them if I was alive I would turn it down." — Marvin Miller (1917-2012)
Marvin Miller, the legendary executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, was elected to baseball's Hall of Fame on Sunday. Miller was chosen to lead the newly-formed players union in 1966 and he served for 16½ years.

The recognition of Miller's stature by the baseball establishment comes decades too late. This was Miller's eighth time on a Hall ballot. The fact that Miller received the bare minimum for induction (12 of 16 votes (75%)) makes it seem like the Modern Era Committee offered grudging acknowledgement: Okay, we'll finally let him squeeze in, but he's not getting even one vote more than necessary.

In 2013, Peter Miller wrote:
No one in our family will attend or speak at any HOF ceremony regardless of the outcome of the HOF vote. It's important for union members and the media to understand why, so that the story does not get misrepresented as "sour grapes," personal pique, or anything of the sort.

My father felt that the essence of the honor, if any, was in celebrating the MLBPA's accomplishments in changing Baseball from a management-dominated industry to one characterized by an equal labor-management relationship, a change resulting in a vastly more competitive game, fan interest, and increased wealth for all, including the owners of baseball clubs.

These changes were brought about by the concerted action of union members, the baseball players themselves. Although he enjoyed the recognition, my father did what he did not for fame and glory, but for justice and for equitable labor-management relations. To treat that as something incidental, as of lesser value than personal fame, is really to dishonor him and the players.

My father's wishes, stated in writing, and reaffirmed to me in person many times, and for the last time within weeks of his death, were that he did not want to be on the HOF ballot. In a 2008 letter to the Baseball Writers Association, he wrote:
"Paradoxically, I'm writing to thank you and your associates for your part in nominating me for Hall of Fame consideration, and, at the same time, to ask that you not do this again. The anti-union bias of the powers who control the Hall has consistently prevented recognition of the historic significance of the changes to baseball brought about by collective bargaining." ...
The May 29, 2008 Baseball Prospectus blog quoted my father on what he regarded as his family's role in carrying out his intentions:
"If considered and elected, I will not appear for the induction if I'm alive. If they proceed to try to do this posthumously, my family is prepared to deal with that."
Our course of action couldn't be clearer. I'm sure there will be those who want to "do the right thing" out of guilt, or because of some newly discovered perception of historical accuracy. But nobody needs the HOF to understand my father's place in baseball and labor history. The historical record is widely available on the Web and in the Marvin Miller archive at NYU. His portrait is at the Supreme Court in Washington DC, which is more accessible than Cooperstown.
Susan Miller said of her father's induction: "It would have been a great honor 20 years ago."

December 3, 2019

Red Sox Trade Sandy León to Cleveland

The Red Sox traded catcher Sandy León to Cleveland on Monday for minor league right-hander Adenys Bautista.

ESPN/Associated Press reported:
Bautista, 22, went 1-1 with a 7.79 ERA in 14 relief appearances for the In----ns in Arizona Rookie League in 2019.
ESPN made five errors in that short sentence:
1. Bautista was born on August 6, 1998, so he's 21. He won't turn 22 until next August.

2. Bautista made 7 relief appearances (not 14) in the Arizona Rookie League in 2019 (July 26 to August 26).

3. Bautista had a 0-0 record in the Arizona Rookie League in 2019 (not 1-1).

4. Bautista had a 10.13 ERA in the Arizona Rookie League in 2019 (not 7.79).

5. The word "the" should be inserted before "Arizona".
Bautista's 1-1 record came in the 7 games he played in the Dominican Summer League (June 5 to July 20). His stats from both leagues combined equal 14 games and a 7.79 ERA.

Ian Browne (mlb.com) had no problems reporting the correct information:
The 21-year-old Bautista pitched at the Rookie level in 2019, compiling a 7.79 ERA in 14 relief appearances in the Dominican Summer League and the Arizona Rookie League.
The Red Sox also did not tender contracts for 2020 to infielder Marco Hernandez and reliever Josh Osich. Last week, pitcher Brian Johnson was placed on outright waivers; he's still with Boston, but not on the 40-man roster.

Chris Sale was given the all-clear sign to begin throwing, after seeing Dr. James Andrews last week.

December 1, 2019

The Best Players & Games Of The 2010s (And A Couple Of Best-Of Red Sox Lists)

Jayson Stark looks at the Best Of The 2010s:
The five best players of the 2010s

1. Mike Trout — You were expecting maybe Rusney Castillo? Trout just crushed this field in pretty much every category that didn't involve counting — and even a few categories that did. But the biggest headline was this: According to Baseball Reference, his 72.5 Wins Above Replacement in the '10s meant he was worth 18.3 more wins than any other position player in the sport, despite the fact he essentially gave everyone else a two-year head start! And there has never — we said never — been any player who blew out the field in WAR by that crazy a margin in any — we said any — decade. The old record was 16.3, and that was set by Honus Wagner over 100 years ago (1900-09). ...

2. Joey Votto — Only two players in the sport had a .300/.400/.500 slash line in the '10s. One was Trout. The other was Votto (.306/.428/.516). This guy has been way too underappreciated. More on him later.

3. Adrián Beltré — There were just four players who were worth at least 50 wins in the '10s, according to the Baseball Reference WAR computations. Beltré was one of them even though he didn't play a game in 2019. Did you know that only one player in baseball finished in the top 10 on the offensive and defensive WAR leaderboards for this decade? Yep, that was Adrián Beltré. ...

The five best pitchers of the 2010s

1. Clayton Kershaw — Let's debate Kershaw's October struggles some other time, OK? That's because we're talking about a man who had an ERA under 2.00 for 197 consecutive regular-season starts between 2011 and 2018. That's amazing. And we're talking about a man whose 164 ERA-plus is the greatest by any starter, in any decade, since Walter Johnson hung a 177 in the first quasi-decade (1913-19) after earned runs became an official stat in 1913. That's mind-blowing. And if we use 1,500 innings as the minimum, we're talking about a man whose ERA (2.31) was 72 points lower than the next-best pitcher of this decade. And that's unheard of. Just a reminder that Clayton Kershaw in his prime was something special.

2. Max Scherzer — Scherzer led the sport in strikeouts (2,452) and wins (161) in the '10s. And he's about to make his seventh top-five Cy Young finish in a row. The only other pitchers in history who can say that? Greg Maddux and Kershaw.

3. Justin Verlander — Verlander is going to finish with five top-two Cy Young finishes in this decade. That's dominance. And if we use WAR as a measuring stick, nobody had more 6.0-win seasons (six) or 7.0-win seasons (four) in the '10s than Justin Verlander did.

4. Chris Sale — What Votto is to that hitters' list, Sale is to this pitchers' list. A better ERA (3.03) than Verlander. A better strikeout rate (11.08 per nine innings pitched) than Scherzer. A better WHIP (1.03) than anybody except Kershaw. ...

MOST WINS ABOVE REPLACEMENT, PITCHERS, IN THE 2010s

Kershaw, 59.3
Verlander, 56.2
Scherzer, 56.1
Hamels, 46.2
Sale, 45.4
Greinke, 44.0
Price, 38.6
Kluber, 33.2
deGrom, 32.7 ...

Best postseason pitcher of the 2010s: Madison Bumgarner

Based solely on the pure raw numbers, maybe you'd give this to Stephen Strasburg, the guy with the 1.46 career postseason ERA. But just when I started mulling that thought, I looked back on MadBum's epic October of 2014, his shutouts in two wild-card games, his absurd and unprecedented 0.25 career ERA over four World Series starts. And I thought: Will we ever see anybody do that again? Did you know that in those four World Series starts, Bumgarner gave up a total of one run? Did you know that in his 16 career postseason starts, he has allowed zero runs in six of them (not even counting his five shutout innings in relief in a Game 7 you might remember)? Did you know that he and Randy Johnson are the only two left-handers since Sandy Koufax to throw multiple shutouts in the same postseason? Did you know that in the Giants' three championship runs, MadBum made at least one postseason start of at least seven innings and no runs in all three of them? Oh, and he gets like a billion extra-credit points for basically winning the 2014 World Series all by himself. (All other Giants starters in that World Series combined for a 9.37 ERA and got through only the third inning twice in five starts.) So one more time, let's ask: Will we ever see anybody do that again? ...

Best pitcher who never won a Cy Young: Chris Sale

Not only is Chris Sale by far the best pitcher who never won a Cy Young in this decade, but he's also a contender for best pitcher who never won a Cy Young, period. For instance, Sale's WHIP for the '10s was an awesome 1.03. Ready for a list of all the other pitchers in the last 100 years who had a WHIP that low in any decade (with at least 1,500 innings)?

Clayton Kershaw, 0.96 (2010s)
Sandy Koufax, 1.01 (1960s)
Juan Marichal, 1.05 (1960s)
-That's a wrap –

It was Kershaw who dominated this decade. But it was Sale who finished in the top two in ERA, strikeout rate, opponent average, opponent slugging, opponent OPS and FIP — among other stuff. He has six top-five Cy Young finishes to show for it but no trophies. Juan Marichal and Curt Schilling feel his pain. ...

BEST ON-BASE MACHINE OF THE 2010s — Votto walked 1,046 times in this decade. Only one other player — Carlos Santana — was within 200 of him. Only four other players — Santana (944), José Bautista (812), Trout (803) and Andrew McCutchen (769) — were even within 400 of him!

BEST WORKHORSE OF THE 2010s — Verlander faced 8,635 hitters, just in the regular season, in the '10s. Only two other pitchers — Scherzer (8,300) and Lester (8,236) — were within (gulp) 500 hitters of him. We continue to show way too little appreciation for pitchers who provide that much volume, especially when it comes with Verlander-esque domination. ...

What goes up must come down — except possibly at the Trop. So lastly, here's to the men who "led" the '10s in all those departments they'd rather we never looked up!

LOWEST BATTING AVERAGE (min. 3,000 PA) — Danny Espinosa, .221

LOWEST OBP — Adeiny Hechavarría, .290

LOWEST SLUGGING PCT. — Billy Hamilton, .326 ...

MOST STRIKEOUTS — Chris Davis, 1,597 (most by any player in any decade in history)

MOST LOSSES — Rick Porcello, 109

MOST GOPHERBALLS — James Shields, 262 ...
Jen McCaffrey: The 10 Most Memorable Red Sox Games Of The 2010s

Chad Jennings: The 10 Most Significant Red Sox Decisions Of The 2010s

Tim Britton: The 20 Best MLB Games Of The 2010s

The Athletic: The Athletic's MLB All-Decade Team
Right field
Mookie Betts (19/28)

From 2010 to 2019, 1,838 position players made at least one plate appearance in the major leagues. Of those, only 742 stuck around long enough to log just short of a season's worth of plate appearances (600). Within that group, 14 position players earned the sport's greatest individual honor, the Most Valuable Player award. But none could top Betts' MVP campaign in 2018. When measured by FanGraphs' version of WAR (10.4), it ranked as the most valuable single season in the entire decade. That edged out Trout's 2013 (10.2), and Posey's 2012 (10.1). In an era in which some of the best players in the league can be classified as one-dimensional, Betts has become a star by excelling in every aspect of the game, a tribute to his athletic versatility. In high school, Betts was a standout star in basketball, baseball and bowling. He has participated in the World Series of baseball (2018) and the World Series of bowling (2015 and 2017). Among right fielders, Betts' 42.0 WAR for the decade, according to Baseball-Reference, ranks ahead of Stanton's 39.9. And Betts reached that total despite playing in 368 fewer games and swatting 169 fewer homers, a testament to his defense and baserunning.

Betts in the 2010s: 42.0 WAR, .301/.374/.519, 2018 AL MVP, four All-Star selections, four Gold Gloves, 965 hits, 229 doubles, 139 homers, 25 steals

The quote: "To come up as a second baseman and turn himself into the type of right fielder that he is just shows how athletic he is, for one, but also how dedicated he is to making himself better. Offensively, he's the MVP, but he runs the bases really, really well, he plays a Gold-Glove right field and puts up video-game-like numbers in the box. He can do it all." — Former Red Sox player Brock Holt