November 20, 2003

Warming Up The Stoves

Brian Sabean got a jump on defending his Executive Of The Year title at the Winter Meetings, picking up an All-Star catcher for (as usual) a bunch of pitching prospects. Trading away your best right-handed reliever and two brightest pitching prospects (who are the top prospects because he already traded away the top-top guys during the season) when you already have a solid and cheap guy at catcher isn't a huge win at first glance, but Sabean has an almost impeccable record in trades. So he gets the benefit of the doubt for now. Good thing, too, since they haven't exactly done much to develop in-house talent, especially on the offensive side.

On the flipside (of the Bay), Beane's been hard at work sticking fingers in the dike trying to plug the holes while fitting everything under budget. He's already traded his best pitcher (for the last half of the season, anyway) for a reasonably young (i.e. cheap) outfielder with good on-base skills and a little pop. Still working on trading his All-Star Catcher just so he can have the privilege of dumping Terence Long and his contract to the Padres for their own underperforming outfielder (or maybe I'm just bitter because we kept Kotsay on our fantasy roster for 90% of the season as I kept trying to convince Sam that he'll come around once his back healed and he never did). Still being held up by the money and a MRI report on Kotsay's back, but it's done in principle. Not a win on talent, but it's good for financial flexibility and Beane's selling high and buying low.

Whatever you may think of these moves. At least they're defensibly intelligent acts based on a building principle (Giants: win now before God stops playing on your team, A's: save pennies for Chavy and Huddy). Compare to the other moves made during this time period:

Signed C Brad Ausmus to a 2-year contract, re-signed IF Jose Vizcaino to a 1-year contract worth $1.2 million.

After trading their awesome closer to free up money, this is what they do with it? José was an adequate placeholder IF when he was with the Giants, and that was seven years ago. Ausmus was by far the worst-hitting regular catcher in MLB last year, and catchers aren't known for improving with age, either.

Signed Raul Ibañez to a 3-year deal in the neighborhood of $13 million.

"Normally, a corner outfielder entering in his 30s with a career high OPS+ of 116, a career OPS+ of 99 [ed: OPS+ of 100 is average], and is an A-type free agent wouldn't merit a lot of consideration for a team that's interested in things like winning. That doesn't apply to the Mariners, apparently, who just couldn't *wait* for the opportunity to downgrade the outfield defense, the outfield offense (Ibanez has been better than Cameron offensively exactly one time in his career and even that was close), give up a first-round draft pick, and spend more than $4 million in one fell swoop."
Thank you for that excellent summary, oh wise Transaction Oracle.

In other news: Dodgers re-signed Tom Martin, Red Sox re-signed Mike Timlin, Toronto signed Pat Hentgen, and Tampa Bay went out and got Paul Abbot and John Halama.

All in all, I think our guys come out looking pretty good in comparison.

Posted by mikewang on 08:36 PM