Finally we got some big sparks on the hot stove with the top two names coming off the board and the top starting pitcher landing in the NL. Most of the highest ranked free agents have migrated to the junior circuit so far with still a couple gems available yet and obviously an endless supply of money in Dodgertown. Let’s get it!
Some Action This Past Week from the NL:
- The top ranked starting pitcher in Josh Greinke was picked up by the “endless truckloads of cash” Dodgers to solidify things past Kershaw in the rotation. $147MM over 6 years is not the record setting deal that was talked about, but it is still the second largest ever for a pitcher and 15th largest contract overall. I am still not gone on Greinke being worth that much after being not Cy Young material since 2009, maybe I just am not being fair, but, I do know the best starter on the Dodgers staff doesn’t have a nine figured contract, is younger and better than Greinke, and will be a free agent sooner than later. The Dodger offense should be more then robust going forward, so Greinke will get run support and will still be a really good pitcher, win 15-17 games, have around 200 K and a 3.50 ERA… that’s fine and dandy and is what fantasy owners want, but in the real world you can get better numbers from guys like Gio, Cain, Lincecum (yes it is still true) and Wainwright for likely less…I don’t know, I just don’t buy in for some reason, more to follow below...
- The Cardinals traded long time clubhouse cog Skip Schumaker to the Dodgers for a short- stop prospect to add depth to their infield system. This is a good move for Skip as he will get more ABs in LA as STL builds for the future. Hard to let such a positive clubhouse leader go, but the Cards are good at knowing when to move a player before their investment returns start to decline. The Cardinals then quickly moved to pick up Ty Wigginton for 2 years and $5MM. Not sure what to think of this move, struck me as odd at first to be honest, but having a power hitting right handed bat on the bench who can fill in at 1B, 3B and OF and is an experienced veteran is quite valuable. I doubt he gets 400 at-bats a season, so he will carry very little fantasy value until one of the regulars gets hurt…which at one point every season always happens and we get to enjoy an always short term Wiggy stretch of solid numbers and multiple position eligibility.
- Rumour has it that Mike Adams will sign with the Phillies on a two year, $12MM deal with a vesting option for a third year – Adams would provide a lock down 8th inning before Papelbon improving the bullpen that struggled mightily last season and would allow Adams to maintain his standard fantasy value in H2H and roto leagues that value relievers in other ways than saves, such as holds.
- The Mets have moved R.A. Dickey for the Blue Jays top prospect Travis d'Arnaud among other pieces– good for NY if they can do it, unload a 38 year-old starter with one spectacular season under his belt who wants two years and $26MM for the top prospect in the Toronto system makes sense to me. With Toronto making some big moves this off season, it doesn’t surprise me that they have chased Dickey, but they, like many other teams will be overpaying for starting pitching. Dickey’s value in the AL East is hard to put your finger on right now – Wakefield was serviceable, startable when hot, but Dickey gets way more Ks…approach his draft slotting or draft price with caution either way.
Rants and Ramblings:
The LA Dodgers are, as every sports media outlet now reports, the new “Yankees” with their big spending ways and all their mega star/mega contract acquisitions. Acquiring Adrian Gonzalez was a great move as he is as good as any 1B in baseball and was likely just unhappy with the poisonous clubhouse in Boston. Crawford was simply crushed by the pressure and media in Boston in my opinion under the weight of the albatross of a contract they gave him – not saying he will put up .300+, 100R, 15HR, 90RBI, 45SB a season anytime soon or ever again (he won’t), but he should still have good value in LA once healthy as the pressure will be off him with Kemp, Gonzalez and Hanley in the line-up (expect say .275-80R-10HR-65RBI-30SB for Crawford if healthy… big if…). Beckett is overpaid and won’t be the pitcher he was pre-2010 or even in 2011, but will be a good SP3-SP4 option in 2013 and 2014. The next big piece was Zack Greinke and his six-year, $147MM deal – what intrigues me the most is the effect of this deal on another pitcher who is watching this Greinke situation as he enters the last year of his current deal and is a much better, much stronger pitcher then Greinke ever was or will be – Adam Wainwright.
Adam Wainwright has finally reached the doorstep of his free agency and the big contract he deserves. Wainwright is one of those rare pitchers that has a will and competitive streak so strong it can sometimes carry them past hitters no matter how bad they feel that day (a la Carpenter, Halladay and Verlander for example). The Cardinals are motivated to sign Waino to an extension – and so they should be, very, very motivated. Wainwright has expressed many times his desire to stay in STL for all his career as well and Cardinal Nation does truly believe Wainwright and fully expects him to sign, unlike Pujols.
Coming off Tommy John in 2012 Wainwright had a very good year – after a very slow start with some very poor run support early, Wainwright picked up steam in late May and June, and tore up the NL after the All-Star break, not showing any real signs of fatigue or health issues down the stretch which makes STL brass happy looking forward. 2013 should be a quick return to his 2009-2010 numbers (18-20W, 200+IP, 2.50 ERA and 200+K:50BB) and him being the true ace of the STL pitching staff. With Carpenter returning as healthy as anyone can expect, the leadership factor will not be lacking in the clubhouse which bodes well for guys like Rosenthals, Kelly and Miller who are all up and coming in the system.
Personally, I would (and will in all my keeper leagues) take say 5-6 years of Wainwright for $110MM+, then getting Greinke at 6yr/$147MM any day of the week regardless of Waino being two years older at 31. This is what happens when players hit the open market, which is why STL wants to prevent this from happening with their star pitcher as prices for pitching are way too high compared to the returns now. Tommy John is an everyday thing these days so it is a non-factor, Waino has pitched 400 innings less than Greinke, and he has shown the steely resolve needed to be a top shelf, true-blue, front-of-the-rotation ace in any league and on any team. Since 2008, Greinke’s 123 ERA+ — a measure that compares a pitcher’s ERA against his peers and ballpark conditions with 100 being average — ranks ninth among starters with at least 1,000 innings. Among pitchers with at least 750 innings since 2008 Wainwright's 133 ERA+ ranks sixth. Cain ranks 10th and Greinke 13th for contract comparison purposes (Waino missed all of 2011).
Greinke is far from the pitcher Waino was, currently is, and will continue to be, and Zack will now get paid as if he were one of the best pitchers in baseball. Unless he returns to his 2009 form, he will continue to sit outside my top-10 starters, maybe outside the top-15 in the majors right now in my mind. Wainwright on the other hand will return to top-5 status in 2013 and the Cardinals will likely have him signed by then and will enjoy his services for the rest of his career.
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