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Nice guy.  Have some blogs.  Do baseball research.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Thou shall not covet thy neighbor's player: free agency, fantasy gambling, World Baseball Classic.

The World Baseball Classic (WBC) tournament starts next week. Players will leave their spring training sites to join various WBC teams, generally for the country of their birth.

The tournament is now played every four years. Past tournaments: 2006, 2009, 2013. In 2013 Robinson Cano was the tournament MVP. Cano played for the winning team: Dominican Republic.

Cano then played the 2013 regular season for his only major league team to that point: the New York Yankees. It was Cano's ninth and final season as a Yankee.

January 5, 2001: Signed by the New York Yankees as an amateur free agent.
October 31, 2013: Granted Free Agency.
December 12, 2013: Signed as a Free Agent with the Seattle Mariners.

Yankee fans wanted the Yankees to sign Cano to a new contract, ensuring that he would soon become the all time Yankee second baseman, supplanting Hall of Famer Tony Lazzeri or, if you prefer, Willie Randolph, both of whom played for other teams after the Yankees.

Cano displayed amazing durability with the Yankees, playing at least 159 games every season from 2008 through 2013. Unfortunately, it was all to evident that Cano achieved this by not hustling way too much of the time, especially running to first base.

Despite that the Yankees offered Cano a huge contract but only for seven years. Cano insisted on ten years. The Seattle Mariners then matched the Yankees annual salary offer but added the extra three years. Cano signed.

Upon his return the following season with the Mariners, Cano was booed in Yankee Stadium.

Was Cano disloyal to the Yankee fans?

Were Yankee fans justified in their rejection of a former favorite who left for even greater riches than that offered by their team?

Cano left because decades ago the players won the right to become free agents and negotiate with any team. The agreement with the player's union was that the player would not be eligible to become a free agent until he had played six major league seasons.

Amateur fantasy baseball had been around for decades also. It was known as rotisserie baseball, which had imaginary leagues, drafts, seasons. However, in the last couple of years legalized gambling has been not only tolerated but actively and aggressively promoted by the sports leagues, including and especially baseball. It takes the form of daily fantasy baseball but it's GAMBLING.

Baseball lends itself to this form because of its detailed stats. Football and basketball have a distinct advantage over baseball in traditional gambling on the outcome games: they have a point spread. Baseball is stuck with odds.

But this new daily test of skills, as gambling is euphemistically explained, allows the gamblers (fans) to select players from any team and bet on their performance in that day's games, based largely on pitcher/batter matchups and current performance (who's hot).

So, do you think Yankee fans who engage in fantasy gambling would hesitate in selecting Robinson Cano if they thought that Cano would help them win their bet?

If some Yankee fans were inclined to support the Dominican Republic team in the WBC tournament next week, do you think that Cano's presence on the team would deter them?

We fans think that we are a loyal lot but we're not. It's a rare exception when we choose sentiment over performance.

Before free agency there were trades and transactions, as there still are.

Babe Ruth

December 26, 1919: Purchased by the New York Yankees from the Boston Red Sox for $100,000.

Rogers Hornsby
December 20, 1926: Traded by the St. Louis Cardinals to the New York Giants for Frankie Frisch and Jimmy Ring.
January 10, 1928: Traded by the New York Giants to the Boston Braves for Shanty Hogan and Jimmy Welsh.
November 7, 1928: Traded by the Boston Braves to the Chicago Cubs for Bruce CunninghamPercy JonesLou LegettFreddie MaguireSocks Seibold and $200,000.

Rocky Colavito

April 17, 1960: Traded by the Cleveland Indians to the Detroit Tigers for Harvey Kuenn. Leaders in Home Runs and Batting Average respectively in 1959.

The first major free agent slugger to change teams as a free agent:

Reggie Jackson

November 1, 1976: Granted Free Agency.
November 29, 1976: Signed as a Free Agent with the New York Yankees.

The two best hitters to change teams as free agents:

Barry Bonds

June 7, 1982: Drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 2nd round of the 1982 amateur draft, but did not sign.
June 3, 1985: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1st round (6th pick) of the 1985 amateur draft. Player signed June 5, 1985.
October 26, 1992: Granted Free Agency.
December 8, 1992: Signed as a Free Agent with the San Francisco Giants.
October 30, 2006: Granted Free Agency.
February 15, 2007: Signed as a Free Agent with the San Francisco Giants.
October 29, 2007: Granted Free Agency.

Albert Pujols

June 2, 1999: Drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 amateur draft. Player signed August 17, 1999.
October 30, 2011: Granted Free Agency.
December 8, 2011: Signed as a Free Agent with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Bonds obviously made the right move. But Pujols could have supplanted Stan Musial as the greatest Cardinal of all time had he re-signed with St. Louis. Instead, Pujols rejected a big offer from the Cardinals and signed with the Angels.

In his final Cardinal season of 2011 the team finished second but won the tournament, defeating Texas in seven games in the finals. Pujols then left.

How upset were Cardinal fans? Probably not that much. The team made a legitimate offer. There does not seem to be the residual animosity that greeted Cano on his return to New York but Albert Pujols will never be welcomed back in St. Louis for a reunion of the 2011 championship team with the same enthusiasm as he would had he remained a Cardinal for life.

Loyalty is a two way street with many unexpected bumps. It continues to be eroded. At some point it will be unrecognizable.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Bozo look-alike contest: Yanks Clint Frazier is a 2017 contender ... if he makes the team.

Clint Frazier is not likely to make the opening day roster for the Yankees. Heck, he's got to learn to hit AAA pitching first. But when/if he does join a major league team and actually play a while, Frazier, both in looks and base running, will be an instant contender.

Image result for clint frazier images

And you thought that the Yankees had grooming standards. Hey, Hal Steinbrenner is trying to appeal to the young fans. That's why he's saving up his hundreds of millions for Bryce Harper, a total asshole, rather than for Mike Trout, who reminds many of us of Mickey Mantle.

deGrom edges Syndergaard in 2016 Bozo look-alike contest. Sunday, May 22, 2016

Jacob deGrom wins the 2016 Bozo the Clown look-alike contest! Noah Syndergaard gets honorable mention for second place. No others are even close. Judge for yourself.

Photo of Jacob deGromImage result for bozo the clownPhoto of Noah Syndergaard

From left to right: deGrom, the real Bozo the Clown, Syndergaard.

I know, it's really difficult to distinguish among them. Metsie fans must be so proud.

Yankees signed Tanaka for 2014, then passed on Lester, Scherzer, Price.

Yankee general manager Brian Cashman is timid. And with good reason, given his record.

Masahiro Tanaka
Position: Pitcher
Bats: Right • Throws: Right
6-3, 215 lb
Team: New York Yankees
Born: November 1, 1988 (Age: 28 and 118 days)
January 22, 2014: Signed as a Free Agent with the New York Yankees.

YearAgeTmSalarySrvTmSourcesNotes/Other Sources
201425New York Yankees$22,000,0000.000contracts
201526New York Yankees$22,000,0001.000contracts
201627New York Yankees$22,000,0002.000contracts
201728New York Yankees$22,000,0003.000may opt out of contract after 2017 season
201829New York Yankees$22,000,000
201930New York Yankees$22,000,000
202031New York Yankees$23,000,000
Earliest Free Agent: 2020
Career to date (may be incomplete)$66,000,000Does not include future salaries ($89M)

2014-2016: 490 innings, 132 ERA+, SO9 8.2

Good signing by Cashman, right? For perspective this immediately followed three disastrous Cashman signings: Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran. All four put the Yankees over the team salary cap, triggering continued "luxury tax" payments and costing the Yankees $100 million in the succeeding years. Oh, well. The three year plan to get under the cap in 2014 was not that serious according to Hal Steinbrenner after the fact.

Over the weekend MLB Network had a one hour program on the ten best starting pitchers today. Jon Lester and Max Scherzer were prominently high on all panelist lists. David Price was number ten on the list of Bill James, who has worked for the Red Sox for about a decade. All three were free agents after the Yankees had signed Tanaka. Lester and Price are lefties, which the Yankees desperately need because they spent one billion dollars on a new ballpark shaped for Babe Ruth who died in 1948.

Jon Lester
Position: Pitcher
Bats: Left • Throws: Left
6-4, 240 lb
Team: Chicago Cubs
Born: January 7, 1984 (Age: 33 and 51 days)

July 31, 2014: Traded by the Boston Red Sox with Jonny Gomes and cash to the Oakland Athletics for Yoenis Cespedes and 2015 competitive balance round B pick.
October 30, 2014: Granted Free Agency.
December 15, 2014: Signed as a Free Agent with the Chicago Cubs.

201531Chicago Cubs$20,000,0008.075contracts
201632Chicago Cubs$25,000,0009.075contracts
201733Chicago Cubs$25,000,00010.075
201834Chicago Cubs$27,500,000
201935Chicago Cubs$27,500,000
202036Chicago Cubs$20,000,000
202137Chicago Cubs*$25,000,000$25M Team Option, $10M Buyout option guaranteed with 200 innings in 2020 or 400 IP in 2019-20
Earliest Free Agent: 2021

2015-2016 with Cubs: 408 innings, 135 ERA+, SO9 8.9. Oh, and Lester pitched well in the tournament for the Cubs, especially in 2016 when they won.

Good signing, right? But by Theo Epstein for the Cubs, not by Brian Cashman for the Yankees. Epstein makes his mistakes, too:

DJ LeMahieu
Positions: Second Baseman and Third Baseman

December 8, 2011: Traded by the Chicago Cubs with Tyler Colvin to the Colorado Rockies for Casey Weathers (minors) and Ian Stewart.
2016: .348 BA, highest in National Conference

Worse free agent signing: Jayson Heyward or Jacoby Ellsbury? Monday, January 30, 2017

Yes, it was Epstein, not Cashman, who signed Heyward. Of course, Cashman didn't sign any free agents that off season. And the Cubs won despite managing by Joe Maddon so bad in the finals that it appeared that the fix was in. Had the Cubs lost, both Epstein and Maddon would have been vilified. Luck absolves.

Max Scherzer
Position: Pitcher
Bats: Right • Throws: Right
6-3, 210 lb
Team: Washington Nationals
Born: July 27, 1984 (Age: 32 and 215 days)

October 30, 2014: Granted Free Agency.
January 21, 2015: Signed as a Free Agent with the Washington Nationals.

201530Washington Nationals$17,142,0006.079contracts
201631Washington Nationals$22,143,0007.079contracts
201732Washington Nationals$22,143,0008.079
201833Washington Nationals$22,143,000
201934Washington Nationals$42,143,000portion of salary deferred through 2028
202035Washington Nationals$42,143,000portion of salary deferred through 2028
202136Washington Nationals$42,143,000portion of salary deferred through 2028
Earliest Free Agent: 2022

Wow, serious buck on the back end. How has he done?

2015-2016 with Washington: 457 innings, 141 ERA+, SO9 11.0

Another good signing, not even counting (multiple and near miss no-hitters) and huge SO games.

David Price
Position: Pitcher
Bats: Left • Throws: Left
6-5, 215 lb
Team: Boston Red Sox
Born: August 26, 1985 (Age: 31 and 185 days)
November 2, 2015: Granted Free Agency.
December 4, 2015: Signed as a Free Agent with the Boston Red Sox.

201630Boston Red Sox$30,000,0006.164contracts
201731Boston Red Sox$30,000,0007.164
201832Boston Red Sox$30,000,000Can opt out of contract following 2018 season
201933Boston Red Sox$31,000,000
202034Boston Red Sox$32,000,000
202135Boston Red Sox$32,000,000
202236Boston Red Sox$32,000,000
Earliest Free Agent: 2023

Gee, more serious bucks. Duh. Free agents! And so old. More duh. That's when they become free agents. Price has pitched only one season for the Red Sox and it's considered a disappointment. Price continued his inexplicable poor performance in the tournament, sort if like Clayton Kershaw.

2016: 230 innings, 114 ERA+, SO9 8.9

It's not just that Brian Cashman did not sign any of these three for the Yankees. Cashman didn't even try. And with tacit approval of Hal Steinbrenner, media, fans, who are seized with indecision, especially about pitchers. There's three ways to get starting pitchers:
- draft
- free agent
- trade.

But fans don't want to do any. Don't want to waste a number one pick on a pitcher who might become injured. See "Bregman" post below. And, oh, those free agents ... so much uncertainty. Trade? What trade those invaluable "prospects" that Cashman has been piling up. Also, see "Bregman" post below.

Here's a trade Cashman wouldn't or couldn't pull off because he didn't have the real deal prospect that the other team wanted.

Chris Sale
Position: Pitcher
Bats: Left • Throws: Left
6-6, 180 lb
Born: March 30, 1989 (Age: 27 and 334 days)
December 6, 2016: Traded by the Chicago White Sox to the Boston Red Sox for Luis Alexander Basabe (minors), Victor Diaz (minors), Michael Kopech (minors) and Yoan Moncada.

201728Boston Red Sox$12,000,0006.061
201829Boston Red Sox*$12,500,000$12.5M Team Option, $1M Buyout
201930Boston Red Sox*$13,500,000$13.5M Team Option, $1M Buyout
Earliest Free Agent: 2018

Gee, he's affordable. And good, too. Moncado is the key prospect traded for Sale. Supposedly the White Sox wanted Andrew Benintendi.  See "Bregman" post below. The Yankees don't have a prospect as desirable as Moncado, much less Benintendi. Both may fail but right now they have value.

Could Brian Cashman have acquired Alex Bregman or equivalent? Sunday, January 22, 2017