Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Transaction Recap: Yankees, Dodgers, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Phillies, Mariners

Yankees:

Won the rights to negotiate with SP Kei Igawa for about $25 million

You can talk about the sorry state of the Yankees starting pitching, or how they needed to keep up with the Joneses over in Boston, but the bottom line is that the Yankees overpaid just like Boston did, but received a lesser prize from the gumball machine. Though Igawa's Japanese numbers aren't bad, his peripherals and scouting reports lag well behind those of Daisuke Matsuzaka, and he projects as a number 3 or 4 starter rather than a staff ace.

Though the eventual numbers may add up to something like 4 years and $50 million, it's important to remember that the Yankees avoid luxury tax payments on the posting fee, which adds up to a savings of $7 million on the total deal. 4 years and $43 million isn't horrible for a number 3 starter with some upside, but it's hard to believe the Yankees couldn't have done better than this.

Igawa is just 27, and he posted some solid strikeout rates in Japan, but while Matsuzaka's first few years in the States could look like Hideo Nomo's, Igawa's MLB stats are more likely to resemble Kaz Ishii's.

Dodgers:

Signed SP Randy Wolf to a 1-year, $8 million contract with a club option for 2008

The loophole on pitchers returning from injury has officially been closed. Gone are the days when teams could sign a recovering Chris Carpenter or Ryan Dempster for $2.5 million over two years, replaced by these types of contracts. Though Wolf is one year further in his rehab than either of those two, there's little doubt that had he hit the market last year, he would have received a more lucrative offer than Carpenter's or Dempster's.

Wolf looked very rusty in his comeback last year, but given the timetable for recovery from Tommy John surgery, this was to be expected. All in all, I like the gamble. Even if he is totally ineffective, it's only an $8 million loss, and the Dodgers are in a great position to load up for next year, what with the weak state of the NL in general and the NL West in particular.

Blue Jays:

Re-signed C Gregg Zaun to a 2-year, $7.25 million contract

It's always questionable making a multi-year commitment to a 35-year-old catcher, but Zaun has proven effective at the plate and passable behind it for the past few years, so it's good to see him collect on it, and the Blue Jays won't be hurt too badly if he turns back into a pumpkin.

The Jays were reportedly close to signing Rod Barajas before pulling out for mysterious reasons, perhaps a failed physical. It will be interesting to see how this affects Barajas' market value.

Cardinals:

Signed 2B Adam Kennedy to a 3-year, $10 million contract

Signed SP Kip Wells to a 1-year, $4 million contract

Kennedy is the early front-runner for best signing of the offseason. It's simply mind-boggling that Kennedy, who has been a better player than Mark DeRosa every year of his career and his a year younger to boot, received less money to play the same position in the same division. Give proper credit to both Walt Jocketty for his shrewdness and Jim Hendry for failing to look at the other available options before committing to a very questionable one.

Wells represents a reasonable gamble, and the Cardinals shouldn't be above taking chances, since they are nowhere near a legitimate World Series contender for 2007 yet. There is very little downside in the contract, and the Cards are certainly better off trusting Wells than Jason Marquis.

Phillies:


Signed SP Adam Eaton to a 3-year, $24 million contract

Eaton is clearly a talented pitcher, but he hasn't posted an ERA below league-average since 2000, and it's questionable whether a pitcher with his flyball tendencies is really well-suited for Citizens Bank Park. The move is in many ways reminiscent of the Reds' signing of Eric Milton two years ago, and we all know how that one worked out. Eaton should be better dthan Milton when healthy, but $24 million is a lot to shell out for a guy who's only taken about 60% of his scheduled turns on the mound in his career.

Mariners:

Re-signed UT Willie Bloomquist to a 1-year extension through 2008 for $950,000

Bloomquist's name is something of a running joke on sabermetric websites, in that he's a player who doesn't really do anything well, but always seems to have a job because Seattle likes him.

I don't really have much to add to this analysis, which seems spot-on for a utilityman who doesn't field particularly well and isn't proficient enough with the stick to profitably pinch-hit for anyone. Given that the Mariners rated poorly in defense from both second base and shortstop last year, you'd think they would look for a more reliable backup middle infielder.

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