Tuesday, December 24, 2013

2014 New Year’s resolutions for every MLB team

As each year winds down, people tend to think to the future and promise to fix something in their lives. Yes, it is resolution season. Check out your team’s 2014 New Year's resolution after the jump.

American League East

Baltimore Orioles – We resolve to hire new doctors
Boston Red Sox – We resolve to clean our beards this year
New York Yankees – We resolve to continue to ignore our farm system
Tampa Bay Rays – We resolve to win for our rabid fanbase
Toronto Blue Jays – We resolve to find an identity and stick with it

American League Central

Cleveland Indians – We resolve to provide fans directions to Progressive Field
Chicago White Sox – We resolve to bring back the uniforms with shorts
Detroit Tigers – We resolve to teach Brad Ausmus how to chain smoke
Kansas City Royals – We resolve to stand behind Dayton Moore
Minnesota Twins – We resolve to not expect much from Phil Hughes

American League West

Houston Astros – We resolve to hire more Baseball Prospectus writers for front office
Los AngelesAngels – We resolve to concede the city to the Dodgers
Oakland Athletics – We resolve to ask MLB if we can move
Seattle Mariners – We resolve to admit Robinson Cano isn’t marketable
Texas Rangers – We resolve to ignore Shin-Soo Choo’s platoon splits

National League East

Atlanta Braves – We resolve to keep Dan Uggla off the field
Miami Marlins – We resolve to shock MLB by being pretty good
New York Mets – We resolve to be boring until Matt Harvey returns
Philadelphia Phillies – We resolve to extend Ryan Howard
Washington Nationals – We resolve to begin mapping out parade routes

National League Central

Chicago Cubs – We resolve to hope Theo Epstein delivers
Cincinnati Reds – We resolve to never look back from Dusty Baker
Milwaukee Brewers – We resolve to find a new face of the franchise
Pittsburgh Pirates – We resolve to not suffer the same stretch of losing again
St. Louis Cardinals – We resolve to continue to do it better than everyone else

National League West

Arizona Diamondbacks – We resolve to stay out of the free agent market
Colorado Rockies – We resolve to abandon the humidor during hitting slumps
Los Angeles Dodgers – We resolve to have the first $300 million payroll
San Diego Padres – We resolve to sell low on Chase Headley
San Francisco Giants – We resolve to keep Tim Lincecum until he retires

I’m sure there are readers with much wittier resolutions for their favorite teams. Please leave them in the comments section.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer/editor and the Director of Content Strategy for Sportsideo. Besides his work here, Chris is a New York Yankees contributor for Yahoo Sports. Connect with Chris on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

New York Yankees: A Giant Fork in the Road

What if Masahiro Tanaka is not Posted?

The worst-case scenario may have just been dropped in the New York Yankees' lap.
This article was originally published December 19, 2013 on Yahoo Sports. Click here to read more.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer/editor and the Director of Content Strategy for Sportsideo. Besides his work here, Chris is a New York Yankees contributor for Yahoo Sports. Connect with Chris on TwitterFacebookGoogle+ and LinkedIn.

New York Yankees: Why the clearance rack now?

The New York Yankees turned their attention to short-term, low-cost options Tuesday when they came to agreement with oft-injured second baseman Brian Roberts and aging southpaw reliever Matt Thornton.

After spending $283 million on just three players this offseason, pushing them to the brink of the $189 million luxury-tax threshold, why the sudden move to the free-agent clearance rack in December?
This article was originally published December 18, 2013 on Yahoo Sports. Click here to read more.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer/editor and the Director of Content Strategy for Sportsideo. Besides his work here, Chris is a New York Yankees contributor for Yahoo Sports. Connect with Chris on TwitterFacebookGoogle+ and LinkedIn.


New York Yankees focus on bolstering offense to offset weak pitching

The New York Yankees, despite having already spent $283 million this offseason on three productive offensive players, were still looking to add more bats as the Winter Meetings came to an end Thursday.
This article was originally published December 13, 2013 on Yahoo Sports. Click here to read more.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer/editor and the Director of Content Strategy for Sportsideo. Besides his work here, Chris is a New York Yankees contributor for Yahoo Sports. Connect with Chris on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Monday, December 9, 2013

New York Yankees interested in Jeff Samardzija

According to a tweet from Bruce Levine of 670TheScore.com, the New York Yankees have shown some interest in Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija.

Samardzija, who turns 29 in January, went 8-13 with a 4.34 ERA and 1.348 WHIP in his second full season as a starter for the Cubs in 2013. He racked up 214 strikeouts for Chicago, but continues to walk more than three batters per nine innings.

Samardzija, who throws a mid-90s fastball and has an effective slider, recorded a 1.53 ground ball to fly ball ratio last season. He allowed 1.05 HR/9 in 2013.

The Yankees are in need of a starting pitcher, or two, but likely this is simply a check-in on the right-hander.

Once the Yankees agreed to sign right fielder Carlos Beltran, and officially signed center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, outfielder Brett Gardner became interesting to clubs as a trade option. Most likely, the Yankees would want a starting pitcher in return for Gardner should they decide to in fact trade him.

The Yankees will continue to listen to overtures for Gardner to see what value he has to other clubs and in hopes of avoiding the free-agent market. I would guess that they will want to wait to make any moves until they find out if the Rakuten Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball will post Masahiro Tanaka, who the Yankees and others covet.

In the perfect Yankees scenario, I believe they would rather sign Tanaka and then have a competition for the fifth starter spot between current players on the roster such as David Phelps, Adam Warren and Michael Pineda.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer/editor and the Director of Content Strategy for Sportsideo. Besides his work here, Chris is a New York Yankees contributor for Yahoo Sports. Connect with Chris on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Free agents drop like flies ahead of winter meetings

It sure looks like Disney World might have some extra unexpected guests in amusement park lines next week. Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings are set to begin Monday, Dec. 9 in Orlando and at this rate there could be very few prominent free agents left on the market. Friday’s onslaught of free-agent signings, including the top player on the market, could put a damper on the typical excitement surrounding the meetings.

Friday December 6, 2013 was a banner day for lovers of MLB’s Hot Stove. Fans woke to news that Robinson Cano’s demands to the Seattle Mariners broke off negotiations, seemingly giving the New York Yankees the upper hand. However, just hours after Jay-Z took a beating on Twitter for how he was handling the negotiation process, he got the last laugh as he convinced the Mariners that a 10-year, $240 million contract was a great move for the organization.

There was no last minute counter by the Yankees. Once the contract got beyond seven years, the Yankees bagged out, likely due to the bad taste left in their mouth for the 10-year deal they awarded Alex Rodriguez.

I’ll say as a Yankee fan I’m disappointed that Cano will not be a part of the team, but I can’t blame the Yankees for taking a pass. They reportedly would have offered seven-years, $175 million in the end, which would have been an entirely fair deal in my opinion.

I also cannot feel animosity toward Cano. I venture to guess many people offered a difference of $65 million guaranteed cash would take it and deal with any location consequences should they arise. Allegiances in baseball went by the wayside long ago. See how quickly Cano lost his Yankee cap?

As for the Mariners, while I think they will be hamstrung after five seasons, I won’t say they made a mistake. If Cano is the first piece of the puzzle and the Mariners are able to add some other pieces this season and next, who is to say they cannot put themselves in a spot to contend? The results of the success of this deal is years away from being determined.

The Yankees were very active despite Cano’s departure. The Yankees came to agreement with starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda on a one-year, $16 million deal just before the news broke on Cano. The Yankees signed Kelly Johnson to a one-year contract worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 million. Johnson will likely to act as a utility player, though he could fill the void at second base should the Yankees be unable to grab a more suitable replacement. Then the Yankees reached an agreement with coveted outfielder Carlos Beltran on a three-year, $45 million contract. Beltran’s bat will fit nicely into the Yankees lineup that is slowly developing into a potent one, assuming good health of course. The Yankees will continue to spend this offseason.

On the other side of New York City, the Mets made some noise of their own, settling on a four-year deal with former Yankee Curtis Granderson worth $60 million. Granderson will be very helpful for the middle of the Mets order as a complementary piece to David Wright. The Mets have been waiting for the right player to come aboard and Granderson is a nice additional power threat.

Believe it or not there were other notable accords reached outside of New York. Scott Feldman is headed to Houston on a three-year, $30 million pact. Feldman, a groundball producing machine (49.6% rate) had a fine 2013 season recording a combined 3.86 ERAwith the Chicago Cubs and Baltimore Orioles. Feldman quickly becomes the highest paid player on the Astros. The team has been active this offseason having traded for outfielder Dexter Fowler earlier in the week. They’ve been involved with several other free agents along the way, making it seem they are willing to spend after trimming payroll to incredibly low levels in 2013.

The Washington Nationals will pay outfielder Nate McLouth $10.75 million over the next two seasons, with a $6.5 million option for the third season. McLouth reinvented himself in nearby Baltimore and translated it in a very nice deal. The Nats will seemingly utilize McLouth, who stole a career-high 30 bases in 2013, as insurance for their current outfield spread of Denard Span, Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth.

Lastly, the Boston Red Sox will re-sign Mike Napoli to a two-year, $32 million deal. Napoli launched 23 home runs in 2013 and recorded an OPS+ of 129. Napoli, took to Twitter to announce his coming back to Fenway. Surely the Fenway faithful were elated.
More than $400 million in guaranteed salary was committed yesterday culminating a very busy week which also saw Jacoby Ellsbury (seven-years, $153 million) go to the Yankees, the Detroit Tigers nab Joe Nathan (two-years, $20 million) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia head to the Miami Marlins (three-years, $21 million). There were also several trades made, three alone by the Oakland Athletics in one day!

There are still some stories to be made at this year’s meetings with outfielder Shin-Soo Choo still on the market as well as some quality starting pitchers in Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez. Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price’s name has been tossed around in trade talks which could heat up the meetings. There is also the possibility that Nippon Professional Baseball will come to an agreement with MLB on the posting system as teams await the potential availability of starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.

If this offseason has proved anything, it is that it can be fast and furious. Even with many of the top names off the board, there will surely be some excitement at Disney beyond twists, dips and turns on Space Mountain.

Contract figures were retrieved from MLB Trade Rumors’ free agent tracker.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer/editor and the Director of Content Strategy for Sportsideo. Besides his work here, Chris is a New York Yankees contributor for Yahoo Sports. Connect with Chris on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

MLB trade winds blowing

Two trades highlighted this week’s MLB Hot Stove transactions. One, an all-star blockbuster and the other swapped players of need for both clubs.

The Blockbuster

Will Prince love Arlington?
Photo by Keith Allison
The Detroit Tigers dealt Prince Fielder and $30 million to the Texas Rangers for Ian Kinsler. Fielder, who signed a nine-year, $214 million contract with the Tigers just two seasons ago, fills a void in left-handed power for the Rangers. Kinsler’s arrival in Motown gives the Tigers an all-star second baseman conceivably set to replace Omar Infante who declared free agency earlier this offseason.

It is easy to see both sides of this transaction, and to assign a winner or loser is always in the eye of the beholder. Look each team feels they made their club better. We can debate all we want about who did better or who made a mistake, but it certainly won’t change their perceptions. In this case, my opinion is that each side did well for themselves.

The Tigers relieved themselves of some serious cash when they struck this deal. Watching Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski work is often fascinating. Here he simply owns up to a mistake he made in the initial signing and turned it into something beneficial for the team’s future – gaining more cash in his pocket and one of the few offensive-minded second basemen in the league.

Sure, the Tigers lost some serious money in the two years Fielder manned first base ($76 million including the $30 million they sent to Texas), but they’ve regained wiggle room for further spending either on this year’s free agent market or to use toward signing 2013 American League Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer to an extension. Either way, the deal makes absolute sense at this time for the Tigers.

For the Rangers, they got the bat they needed and while not cheap, they’ll pay Fielder just $138 million over the remaining seven years on the contract. If anything, they should get very good production from him over the next few seasons and by the time Fielder slows, $19 million-plus per season may not be such a hindrance, or so they hope.

The move also cleared a space for prospect Jurickson Profar to place second base in Texas. The Rangers can now see what they have in Profar, who turns 21 during spring training, on a daily basis over a full season. Profar hit .234/.308/.336 in 322 plate appearances in 2013.

This deal also provided the Rangers with some ability to trade either Profar or shortstop Elvis Andrus for top-notch starting pitching, and which would then signal positioning for a go at free-agent second baseman Robinson Cano.

Depth Swap for Angels and Cardinals

The Los AngelesAngels of Anaheim and the St. Louis Cardinals worked a four-player deal Friday which filled voids for both teams in areas where they felt they had depth. The Angels received 2011 World Series hero David Freese and reliever Fernando Salas, while the Cardinals netted center fielder Peter Bourjos and outfield prospect Randal Grichuk.

A fresh start for David Freese?
Photo by Keith Allison
Freese, who had a down 2013 campaign (.262/.340/.381), after a career-year in 2012 (.292/.372/.467) will be reunited with Albert Pujols in Los Angeles. Salas had an up and down career with the Redbirds, netting 24 saves in the 2011 World Series season and then spending half his time in the minors in 2013.

Bourjos, who will turn 27 in March, is an above-average fielder with significant speed and a little pop. He’ll be the everyday center fielder, giving Bourjos a chance to fully demonstrate his abilities. Grichuk was once rated as high as #4 on the Angels’ prospect listings according to MLB.com.

As with the Detroit/Texas trade this one seems pretty well balanced in my view. The Cardinals are able to move Matt Carpenter to third base and hand over the starting second baseman’s job to Kolten Wong with Freese’s departure. Freese was also set to get a salary increase (approximately $4.4 million according to MLB Trade Rumors) via arbitration this winter which the Cards no longer have to concern themselves with. Bourjos, who could earn $1.1 million according to MLBTR, is considered an upgrade over anyone the Cardinals had in center last season. Grichuk adds more depth to the Cardinals system.

The Angels are able to free up their cluttered outfield with Bourjos on the move and pick up an extra bullpen arm that they feel they can work with in Salas. In adding Freese, Los Angelesfills a need at third base which was not going to be resolved via their farm system or a thin free-agent market.

It isn’t often that trades are consummated with major parts where an easy case can be made for both sides and when it is difficult to formulate strong assertions against the trade for at least one side. It happened twice this week, something that kept the hot stove as unpredictable as ever.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer/editor and the Director of Content Strategy for Sportsideo. Besides his work here, Chris is a New York Yankees contributor for Yahoo Sports. Connect with Chris on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Is MLB's spending bubble going to burst?

Major League Baseball is flush with cash and teams are not being bashful with it. Teams are spending loads of money and the big names are not yet off the board. I’m not arguing the value and cost of the deals in relation to gaining wins and I understand teams will receive bumps in revenue from media deals. But, I wonder if there comes a point in time when the owners decide to scale back on salaries?

Here is a list of some signings since the end of the 2012 season through Wednesday's announcements.


Team
Player
Age
Total Salary
Years
AAV
Giants
31
90
5
18
Giants
29
35
2
17.5
Phillies
35
26
3
8.67
Giants
38
23
2
11.5
Phillies
36
16
2
8
Royals
32
13.5
1
13.5
Red Sox
30
13
1
13
Yankees
39
12
1
12
Rockies
33
11
1
11
Padres
30
8
1
8
Note: Salary figures in millions, ages beginning of season

The words and phrases that get tossed around like, “market value,” “safe risk” and “upside” have become commonplace when evaluating contracts. No one says, "Hold on this is crazy!" Per CBSSports.com, the average baseball player made $3.44 million in 2012 when in 1992 the average salary was $1.084 million. A “safe” deal now dwarfs what the top players made in the ‘90s.

It is particularly fascinating to see teams take risks on players like the 38-year-old Hudson, fresh off a gruesome looking ankle injury in late July of the 2013 season. Hudson is no doubt a proven commodity, but coming off the injury and given his age, is a two-year deal worth it? The Giants obviously think so and that either speaks to a lack of talent in the starting pitching market or with the fact that teams simply have a ton of money to spend.

The Giants in particular have already spent $148 million this offseason (including Pence’s late-season deal). They continue to ante up big-time for Lincecum despite recent years of mediocrity. For them, the “risks” are worth the chance to find them back in the World Series in 2014 upon which they can immediately feel a boost of revenue across all facets of their brand.

The Boston Red Sox and the Kansas City Royals made “no-brainer” option signings for Lester and Shields respectively. Two very talented pitchers, but holy cow is pitching expensive these days!

I won't get too much into the free-spending Philadelphia Phillies purchases of Ruiz and Byrd other than to say that their general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. loves old players.

The New York Yankees inked Jeter to a one-year deal when they could have just converted the team option in his contract worth $9.5 million. He played in just 17 games last season. But, he’s Jeter, an icon and the Yankees gave him a “thank you” deal.

But what about teams who don’t seem to be ready to take the next step and make a postseason run? Look at the Padres signing of Johnson, who tossed 81.1 innings in 2013 and is also two years removed from a season in which he made just nine starts. I wouldn't expect the Padres to have a large payroll and after winning 76 games in 2013 they are not likely to find themselves in the postseason in 2014. Yet they felt a deal with Johnson was worth the risk. If the Padres were to raise their total payroll to $80 million in 2013, which would be way up from $68 million in 2013, he'd be making 10 percent of the team’s total salary.

According to the CBSSports.com listing the last time the average salary spend per player shrunk was in 2004 when it decreased by 2.7 percent from 2003. With teams getting more revenue from television deals this season it should not be shocking that some teams would up their payrolls. But, the question remains, will there be a spending bubble burst or will salaries continue to grow without abandon? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Photo courtesy of Art Siegal via Flickr

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer/editor and the Director of Content Strategy for Sportsideo. Besides his work here, Chris is a New York Yankees contributor for Yahoo Sports. Connect with Chris on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.