Let there be news – Volume 2

In case you missed Volume 1 last week, Let There Be News is a recap of the most interesting stories from the previous week.

A lot of the value in this column resides in linked content. I would like to reference non-mainstream writers whenever possible. It would be easy for me to link to Ken Rosenthal, Dave Cameron or Buster Olney every week and call it a day, but that doesn’t expose a lot of the good writing hiding in corners of the internet.

The problem is that the good writing hides from me, too. That’s where you come in. If you see something (or write something) that you think is worthy of link, send it my way. My contact info is in my signature below. No promises, but I will look.

No. 4: The year ended

Which story would you rather read—Mark DeRosa“>the Nationals sign Mark DeRosa or Jason Frasor“>the Blue Jays acquire Jason Frasor? How about some of my favorite memories of the year instead?

Manny Ramirez got caught with his pants down (metaphorically) and opted for retirement over a 100 day PED suspension. Now he’s back?

Jose Bautista was an absolute beast. In addition to mashing, he’s the first player to walk in over 20 percent of his plate appearances since Barry Bonds. As spectacular as he was, Bautista’s performance was closer to vintage Albert Pujols than Bonds.

The best day of baseball ever. Need I say more?

How the hell did the Cardinals win the World Series? And squirrels?

A new Collective Bargaining Agreement was signed with all kinds of new bells and whistles.

Five stories I probably won’t remember.

Unfortunately, I saved the worst for last: those who passed away in 2011. The deaths of Greg Halman and Shannon Stone were perhaps the greatest tragedies of the 2011 season.

No. 3 Melvin Mora retires

Mora was one of those rare late bloomers. He signed his first professional contract as a 19-year-old, finally broke into the big leagues at age 27, and reached a brief two-year peak in 2003 as a 31-year-old.

Matt Klaassen of Fangraphs does an excellent job covering some of Mora’s career highlights. Joe Soriano of Call to the Pen gathered some great quotes from Mora on his decision to retire.

No. 2 Padres acquire Carlos Quentin

Last week, the White Sox re-signed John Danks in a move that created some confusion. Weren’t the White Sox supposed to be rebuilding?

A week and some days later, White Sox GM Kenny Williams once again donned his “rebuilding” hat. Quentin was traded for pitching prospects Simon Castro and Pedro Hernandez. The interesting thing about this trade is that none of the parts seem to fit at first glance.

Quentin features near elite power, the kind that can make Petco park look like a normal stadium. In that sense, the Padres have acquired a traditional cleanup hitter to help generate offense. However, he comes with some major warts.

His defense, never considered a strong suit, has been suspect in recent years. Plantar fasciitis hurt Quentin’s mobility in 2009. That could also help explain the heinous negative 24 Ultimate Zone Rating he accrued in 2010. A variety of defensive metrics rate his 2011 season as roughly league average.

Injuries—a fractured wrist in 2008 and plantar fasciitis in 2009—have limited Quentin’s ability to stay on the field. He is also known for being hit by pitches, a trait that invites further injury.

In return for Quentin, the White Sox acquired two suspect prospects. Castro was once considered one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, but skills regression and a rough 2011 campaign have turned him into a bit of a reclamation project.

His velocity fluctuated from the mid-80s to the mid-90s in 2011, which is worrying. Baseball Prospect Nation notes that he’s now viewed as a back of the rotation starter or middle reliever. Kenny Williams thinks his people have identified how to get him back on track.

Hernandez is a fringy lefty. He limits walks but none of his other skills stand out. Baseball Prospect Nation (linked above) views him as a swing man and notes a change-up that has plus potential.

From the Padres’ perspective, this deal seems to be about trading two mediocre pitching prospects for a bona fide major league power hitter. They will probably hope to re-trade him at the July trade deadline for a better prospect. The risks are obvious: Injury and/or bad defense could leave the Padres short two prospects and approximately $8 million.

The White Sox’ motives are clearer. They dodge Quentin’s final season of arbitration and receive two prospects who may be able to contribute at the major league level. Castro in particular still has some prospect luster if the White Sox can help him improve his consistency and control.

No. 1 Red Sox acquire Bailey and Sweeney

After months of rumored negotiation, the Red Sox and A’s agreed to a swap that sent Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney to Boston in return for Josh Reddick, Raul Alcantara and Miles Head.

This one is easy to evaluate. The Red Sox are focused on finishing the season under the luxury tax threshold after accruing $3.4 million in taxes in 2011. The Red Sox certainly can afford to pay some tax, but there are tax percentage escalators for teams that finish above the threshold multiple seasons in a row. The Red Sox would like those to reset.

With that in mind, it’s not surprising that the Red Sox were keen to find a closer on the trade market. Ryan Madson and Francisco Cordero are among the best names available in free agency, but neither would come cheaply. With Bailey and Mark Melancon, Boston has a revamped, cost-effective bullpen.

Sweeney is an interesting addition to the trade. With Ryan Kalish set to begin the year on the disabled list and Reddick headed to Oakland, the Sox will turn to Sweeney as the strong half of a right field platoon (Darnell McDonald or Mike Aviles will see the rest of the action). Sweeney is a defense-first outfielder, but as Marc Normandin notes, his work against right-handed pitching is acceptable.

Reddick is the prize of the deal for the A’s. He’s athletic in the outfield, which allows him to contribute above average defense. He features solid power and contact skills but will have to contend with an unfriendly home park in Oakland. He’s not terribly patient at the plate, but has shown signs of improving. Since he doesn’t have any standout skills, some analysts have labeled him a second division starter. Oakland may be a third division team at this point and Reddick should stand out as one of its best players in 2012.

The prospects involved are both of the longshot variety. Alcantara is projectable but nowhere near the big leagues. Head is an advanced hitter, but may not have a defensive home that matches his bat. John Sickels has more details on the pair.

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  1. Fred said...

    Nice job putting a list of 4 together in a week where the baseball world was on hiatus.  When Mora retiring is the 3rd best story, the article must have been a struggle.

    I gotta say, once Bailey went to the Bosox, all I could think was “where the hell does Madson eventually sign?”.  I still have very limited hopes that he comes back to Philly as a well-paid set-up man on a 1-year deal, but that is likely a pipe-dream.  If he did, that would make for a dynamic pen with him, paps, stutes, tony, d-train, and maybe even contreras as well as kk as the long-man.

  2. Brad Johnson said...

    I feel bad for Madson, he was such a good solder for the Phillies all these years and now he’s left out in the cold despite being in his prime.

    I doubt the Phillies re-sign him unless he gets very cheap. The Phils will still get two draft picks for him. If he re-signs with the Phillies – even on a 1 year deal – those picks are forfeited. And with the new CBA, they won’t be available in the future.

  3. Fred said...

    I would rather him in the 8th for one year than those two draft picks, but I know long-term, that isn’t a smart move.  Those picks will be the sandwich and then a 2nd rounder I believe?  I hear this is a deeper draft than some in the past.  Either way, the Phils get something positive.

  4. Brad Johnson said...

    I wouldn’t say it isn’t a smart move, draft picks aren’t terribly valuable, but it is nice to get two in return for a reliever.

    The pick could be a first rounder still depending on who signs him. Madson was something like the 5th ranked free agent, but so it just depends who signs him.

  5. Fred said...

    Wait, I thought it was already decided that he doesn’t get “A” status (previous)?  I thought it could only by a sandwich and a 2nd?

  6. Brad Johnson said...

    The Phillies will not receive the signing team’s pick, but they will receive the pick after the one they would have received. So for example, if they would have received the 22nd pick in the past, they would now get a pick inserted after the 22nd pick.

  7. carter said...

    Very enjoyable reading, please keep it rolling! I especially like that you are looking for sources outside the mainstream.
    Thank you

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