Torii Hunter via Twitter
I'm back. First of all I want to apologize for not having a simple Hot Stove Update during some of the biggest happenings this off-season. Things are busy around here as me, Wade and Tommy deal with all the things that are keeping us busy and our minds occupied like finals, jobs and Los Angeles baseball teams. But since everyone knows about breaking news from mostly other sources (like, c'mon, did you really hear about the Greinke signing from The Full Count?), we'll stick with mostly in-depth analysis and opinion here while trying to make it as readable and entertaining for you as possible. We'll also go waaaaaay deep into analysis for the baseball junkies in us all. Where else are you going to find a Scott Feldman trade recap? This blog is for you!
There's been a lot happening this week and we've been scrambling to get some analysis, figure things out and try to find out what happened. Today, I'll do a quick week recap on some of the biggest move (and trust me, there were some BIG moves) and other quick hits.
Prepare yourselves for a big week next week as we all break down some of these moves.
I guess we might as well start with this: Josh Hamilton ended weeks of speculation by agreeing to a 5-year, $125 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels. Not wanting to be overshadowed by their crosstown counterparts when the Dodgers nabbed Zack Greinke, the Angels receive the most coveted position player in the free agent market to join a lineup that will feature Albert Pujols and Mike Trout. Damn.
- That makes Los Angeles baseball two for two in top free agents. Baseball free agents be lovin' that beach and these owners be willin' to spend. Both clubs payroll will push their budgets to record highs but both will be below the luxury tax threshold.
- The Rangers (who I incorrectly predicted would keep Hamilton) are pretty upset at the way this worked out as apparently Hamilton and his agent never gave the Rangers a heads-up to match the offer. They probably wouldn't have done it, but it's common courtesy to at least communicate something like that to your former employer.
- While the casual Rangers' fan is probably pretty upset with management (mostly GM Jon Daniels), from a financial perspective, $125 million and five years is a LOT to give to a player with as many red flags as Hamilton. My gut reaction? Probably a smart move by the Rangers, long-term. It's like that shiny BMW in your favorite color that a dealer is trying to sell you, but please don't pull up the Kelley Blue Book...oh and it's $20,000 out of your price range but we have great financing available.
- On the Angels side? Probably a smart move, short term. Immediately the Angels become a favorite to win the American League and fans will definitely come out to the stadium. While Hamilton's price tag is high, the Angels are clearly in win-now mode and money never seems to be an issue with owner Arte Moreno and if Hamilton's the piece that pushes them to a title or two, this will clearly be a win.
- It also doesn't hurt that the Angels just gave a giant middle finger to their division rival by stealing their top player. Now Texas will be scrambling to make some big moves of their own to play catch up. Which may not matter anyway because doesn't everyone get the feeling that Oakland will still somehow win the A.L. West.
- While it may suck to be a Ranger's fan, it doesn't suck as bad as being a Houston Astros fan (or a member of the Astros pitching staff). "Oh, hey Houston, welcome to the AL. Now go ahead and pitch to Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, Mike Trumbo and Josh Hamilton. Oh, and we have a DH here, so you can go ahead and pitch to him too." I am buying ALL the outfield tickets at Minute Maid when the Angels come to Houston next season.
- What I don't understand is that the Angel's lineup was pretty good (including the outfield) so it's not like this fills a huge hole for them. On surface it seems like an impulse buy and other executives are echoing that sentiment as no one seemed to think Los Angeles was pursuing Hamilton hard. But like Albert Pujols last year, the Angels make big things happen out of nowhere again Expect the Angels to do more wheeling and dealing this off season to address some of those needs they still have.
- In addition to pissing off Texas, LA also probably pissed off Seattle who was rumored to be pursuing Hamilton the hardest. Pujols already has a history of pissing off the Astros and Oakland plays like they're pissed off all season. So that's all of the teams in their Division playing pissed off at Los Angeles. Expect a lot of beanballs and fireworks in the AL West this season as the Angels will have a $200 million-plus sized target on their back.
- Let's get away from Josh Hamilton and go to some other big news coming out of baseball the past few days. Big news from the Bronx as former Yankee slayer Kevin Youkilis agreed to a one-year, $13 million contract to fill in for Alex Rodriguez on the DL. This is what you already know. But how will a former member of the hated Red Sox get along in a clubhouse with, say, Joba Chamberlain, who was once suspended for throwing at him? Only time will tell, but I can tell you now that I can't wait to see Youkilis step up to bat at Fenway for the first time as a Yankee.
- Ichiro will also stay a Yankee as the free agent as the two sides were close to a two year deal worth around $12-13 million. Ichiro may be in the twilight of his career but the man can still hit. Expect it to be a New York outfield of him, Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner giving the Yankees plenty of speed and capable gloves.
- The Red Sox stepped up to the plate to counter the Yankees moves by signing both OF Shane "The Flyin' Hawaiian" Victorino and P Ryan Dempster for 3/$39MM and 2/$26MM respectively. While not as flashy as the Hamilton-Greinke signings, Victorino provides a solid, switch-hitting option in the Sox outfield, while the veteran Dempster should help anchor the Boston rotation. While the insane Sox fans (aka 90% of them) are mad they lost out on the sexier free agents, this is a good move to infuse veteran leadership and talent on a squad that seemed lost at times in 2012. Given the relative shortness of either contract, I chalk this up as a good move for GM Ben Cherington.
- Anibal Sanchez was almost a Cub, then almost wasn't, then was almost a Tiger, then almost wasn't. Sanchez wrapped up a day of craziness and even crazier reports from Twitter by agreeing to a $80 million, five-year deal with the Detroit Tigers. Shrewd moves by Sanchez's agent as it was reported first that Sanchez was going to the Cubs. All that did was ignite a fury over the internet and confuse the heck of me all day when I was driving. In the end, it seems like the Cubs were just being used as leverage to start a bidding war and as a result, Sanchez stays a member of the Tiger's rotation, just a much richer one. I also want that agent to come with me next time I need to buy a car.
- I don't think Sanchez was ever serious about going to Chicago. There, he would be the ace of the staff, pitching in a tough NL Central in a home park that is located in the "Windy City" known to be a nightmare for pitchers. The pressure would have been enormous. In Detroit, he still will get paid a crap-ton of money (probably his ultimate goal this off-season anyway) while getting to be the world's best #4 starter behind Verlander, Scherzer and Fister (depending on which of the three after Verlander you think is better). As long as he was getting paid what he wanted, it was going to be tough to beat out Detroit.
- Having said that, even as a Tiger's fan, I do think we overpaid a lot for him. If Sanchez can replicate his success he had towards the end of last year and help us win our first title since 1984, then obviously it's a good signing. But not being a fortune teller and trying to look at it from a neutral perspective, I can't feel that good about this long term. $80 million is a lot of money to throw at one guy, a year removed from Prince Fielder's massive contract. Then again, by the time Sanchez's contract is up he will only be 33. Owner Mike Ilitch clearly has no issues with shelling out a part of his estimated $2.1 billion fortune and Tiger's fans everywhere know that Ilitch wants to win the World Series very badly and he will spend money to try and do it. And it's not like the Red Wings are playing right now anyway.
Ten people voted, which like, I can't even believe ten people read the stuff I put up. From our "massive" pool of voters, it appears most of you guys put Strasburg's health over the National's potential postseason run. So I know those five people are totally not team player's (kidding).
Personally, I would have voted for the "stupid move" as I think innings limits are pointless. Strasburg could just as easily blow out his arm in spring training and the Nationals could have wasted a magical season on nothing. That doesn't mean I'm not concern about the kid's health. I think Strasburg is a special player and clearly his health comes first but there were ways of still keeping him rested and healthy throughout the season. Skip a start every month. Rest him as soon as you clinch.
But again, that's just my opinion. I'd love to hear your opinions too though, so as always, I encourage you to comment. Even though none of you do. And when you don't it breaks my heart. Waaaaaah. Okay, I'll stop.
See ya soon baseball freaks, I'm out.