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Nice guy.  Have some blogs.  Do baseball research.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Hot Stove Stuff.

I alluded to the Prince Fielder for Ian Kinsler trade in this post but did not really comment on the trade:

Thursday, November 21, 2013
Robinson Cano now has somewhere he can you go deep in the heart of Texas.

One unusual aspect of it is that a team traded a long time starting player for a guy the team could have simply signed just two years before.  That is one reason I consider a player who just signed a big multi-year contract to be untradable.  If a team were willing to pay the player the amount for which he signed, then why not just pay him when he's a free agent?  Texas will pay all of the amount due Prince Fielder less $30 million and will be getting Fielder when he is two years older.  Maybe having Fielder these last two years would have given Texas the boost it needed to ... do better.  I cannot imagine a team wanting to acquire Mark Teixeira from the Yankees after he signed.  My general assumption is that the day after a player signs one of those huge deals his value plummets in the trade market because any team could have had him simply by paying him.

Prince Fielder July 9, 2012 Home Run Derby
By State Farm on Flickr [CC-BY-2.0
 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)],
via Wikimedia Commons
Fielder had his worst season since his first: OPS+ 110 in 2006, 120 in 2013; career: 141.  Kinsler peaked in 2008 at 134; 97 in 2012, 105 in 2013; career 110, equal to Fielder's low.  Clearly Detroit is replacing Fielder's bat with one that is vastly inferior.  Even if both continue where they both were in 2013, Fielder is much better in the batter's box.  Outside the box Kinsler is superior in every way, including playing a more skilled position in the field, second base.  However, in 2014 Kinsler will be 32 and Fielder only 30, so it seems more likely that Fielder will bounce back at the plate and Kinsler will deteriorate in his fielding and base running while remaining league average at the plate.

Obviously the trade makes sense for Detroit in that it had three slow DH type players who could really hit well.  The other two were Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez.  Ironically, Cabrera unselfishly accommodated Fielder by moving from first to third base and being voted MVP both seasons that Fielder batted behind him.  Martinez is a former catcher who no longer does that.  Cabrera will probably return to first and Martinez continue at DH.

Something generally ignored in evaluating Fielder's poor fielding is that Texas can play him at DH.  That diminishes his value in that it puts a good field, no hit player at first but there is that option.

Detroit did not really want Kinsler but had to swallow his contract, which is way high for his value, in order to unload Fielder.  Conversely, Texas was willing to pay Fielder after failing to sign him as a free agent in order to unload Kinsler who was no longer needed due to the emergence of young hot shot SS Jurickson Profar who was being bounced around the infield.  Even after acquiring Profar Texas inexplicably signed weak hitting (career OPS+ 84) SS Elvis Andrus to a contract which will pay him $15 million 2015-2020 each season, then $14 million 2021 and 2022, $15 million in 2023 if Andrus plays enough.  Wow!  In that previous post I suggested that Texas could trade Andrus and then sign Robinson Cano but having reviewed the amount of money owed to Andrus, unloading him even though he will only be 26 in 2014 seems very unlikely.

Starting in 2006 Kinsler has played his entire Major Baseball League (MBL) career with Texas.  From 2000 through 2012 Michael Young had played only for Texas until he was traded to Philadelphia; he was sent from there to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  2010 MVP Josh Hamilton left after 2012 as a free agent and signed with the Angels, a division rival.  How do Texas Ranger fans feel about that?  They want their team to be competitive but they also root for individuals.

During the off season players change teams by signing as free agents or by being traded.  Once those teams have their rosters settled they begin to promote the players to sell tickets for the upcoming season, especially to people willing to buy tickets for every game, season ticket holders.  Then if the team does not perform as well as team management would like, a decision may be made to dismantle the team during the middle of the season.  MBL rules far more than NFL or NBA rules accommodate such team mid-season dismemberment.

The current conventional wisdom is that the Boston Red Sox have shown the latest success formula: sign free agents to higher amounts for shorter periods of time and let their own free agent players walk.  This merely contributes to a revolving door roster with players leaving after a couple of years.  That will erode fan loyalty and interest.  I think even the Yankees will move in that direction.  Part of the Yankee attraction the last two decades was that some core players spent their entire careers with the Yankees including Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera.  Also that others spent most or significant parts of their careers as Yankees: Paul O'Neill, Tino Martinez.  Then there is Andy Pettitte who started and finished as a Yankee.  Robinson Cano is currently wrestling with the decision of his professional life, whether to remain a Yankee and be part of the tradition and heritage.

It's fun to speculate about player movement and then to evaluate.  But consider the bigger picture and how that movement impacts your overall enjoyment and appreciation of baseball.

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