Sunday, December 9, 2012

Hot Stove Update: Dodgers Sign Zack Greinke

The Dodger once again flexed their financial muscle and signed Zack Greinke to a 6 year/$147 M contract to bolster a starting rotation that became a liability last year.  There aren't too many ways to spin this as not a good move by the Dodgers.  I am a Zack Greinke fan and I'm disappointed that I will have to root against him now.  I spent the most on him of any of my fantasy pitchers as I had him targeted at the top of my second tier of pitchers. He was solid for me all year, although his mid 3's ERA was not particularly an asset, though not a detriment either.  The Greinke signing gives the Dodgers a nice 1-2 L-R punch at the top of the rotation and takes pressure off Chad Billingsley to be the #2.  It also gives them a hedge against Billz' elbow problems continuing into 2013.

A couple of quibbles:  1. Greinke is more of a #2 starter than #1 and is clearly the #2 in a rotation with Clayton Kershaw, yet is getting paid as a #1.  The problem with that analysis is the Dodgers have clearly made a business decision to spend whatever it takes to get whatever players they want.  Greinke was the best pitcher on the market and there was competition for his services from the Angels and Ranger, two teams who are not afraid to spend money themselves.

2.  Greinke is a bit of an odd duck personality.  On the one hand he supposedly has a social anxiety disorder.  On the other hand, he has the chutzpah to take his own scouting reports into the war room on amateur draft day, and whoever heard of a player doing that? Oh, and his social anxiety disorder didn't seem to get in his way of marrying a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader either.  It remains to be seen what impact, if any, his different ways will have in a clubhouse already inhabited by some guys with a history of issues themselves.

Around the league:

The Phillies traded for Michael Young and plan for him to play 3B in 2013.  Anyone one who remembers his defense at 3B from the 2010 World Series will undoubtedly not see this as a plus for the Phillies.  They reportedly are aware of his deficiencies, but there were essentially no third basemen on the market this winter.

The Twins trading Denard Span appeared to turn over the CF/leadoff duties to Ben Revere, but in a surprising move, the Twins turned around and traded Revere to the Phillies for Vance Worley and pitching prospect Trevor May.  The Twins are apparently determined to fix their pitching and fix it now.  This leaves them without a CF/leadoff guy with MLB experience.  They could go for a low cost bridge to Aaron Hicks such as Andres Torres or they could just jumpstart Hicks' MLB career.  Or, at the rate they are going, maybe they will just trade Hicks for pitching too!  Fallout from the deal is that Michael Bourn's market is shrinking fast.

36 comments:

  1. The money is pretty crazy. Look at Joe Blanton and Brandon McCarthy both getting 2/15MM. I'm going to remember those two examples when the "should the Giants exercise their Zito option to secure his services for 11MM" come out to play. McCarthy has never pitched more than half a season! Blanton is the definition of lumpy 5th starter. Its not just the 7.5/year, its the fact they got 2 years! Zito on a one year might look pretty smooth. Now that is hilarious, and shows how unpredictable baseball can be.

    I like that Revere trade for the Phils. They need a good defender, and I think they have soured on Trevor May's control issues. Worley is a cheap 4/5 starter to give up, but they got back a control piece as well.

    Greinke. I trend towards where you are, I think he is mainly underrated, because he doesn't have a shiny ERA. He gets about 8K/9 and has good control. But his ERA+ since his CY is 100, 103 and 114. Not exactly Ace or even #2. He is a very good pitcher with some issues, and damn expensive. But they just don't care. Ned Coletti is really pushing it because he's running out of places to put people, and its more the years than the money. They just don't have a lot of flexibility, but I don't think they care, they'll just move onto the next one.

    Farm doesn't have a lot of talent though, and teams lock up their best talent. I think that is key to the big spending, they are desperate to get as much top talent as soon as possible. I wouldn't underestimate them, but I also think it has high trainwreck potential.

    Oh, and looking forward to seeing some Michael Young defense in action, for sure!

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    1. Well, you can look at Greinke's numbers in two ways:

      1. He's been unlucky and when things even out, he's going to have a huge season or 3.

      2. There is something in his makeup that causes him to consistently under-achieve. Maybe he loses his stuff or command out of the stretch or maybe he gets anxious with runners on base or there's some reason why he gives up too many HR's.

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    2. Try explaining that makeup part to a saber. Clutch don't exist DrB.

      I would love to see some real ruthless sabermetric analysis of Greinke. He's an interesting case, and in some ways a bit similar to Matt Cain in that he's underrated. And from the same draft class...

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    3. Well, let's take Timmy last year as a case study. His peripheral numbers were much better than his ERA. looking at is superficially, you could easily say he was just unlucky, but we all know from watching him that is not true. There actually is a very rational and sabermetrically sound way to explain Timmy's numbers from last year. He couldn't pitch out of the stretch! That meant the hits he allowed tended to be bunched producing more Runs/Walks + Hits.

      I don't know if Grienke has the same issue, but I am quite sure it's more than just random outcomes in a small sample size. If you look deep and far enough with a critical eye, you can almost always find a cause and effect explanation.

      Now Vogey, on the other hand, when he went through his struggle last year, it was almost surely a case of bad luck and it was apparent from sabermetric analysis.

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    4. Couldn't pitch out of the stretch.

      That's a good explanation.

      But that's actually a great observation and why is that saber particularyly? It seems to be more a scouts thing.

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    5. Because it provides a statistically sound explanation for an outcome that most "sabers" label as due to random chance or luck.

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    6. Still sounds like the scouts are telling the sabers how to look at the world.

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    7. No, because it has nothing to do with scouting. It has everything to do with comparing his splits when pitching out of the stretch with league averages.

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    8. This is he part of your comment that led me to assume it's a scouts thing - "but we all know from watching him that is not true."

      Then you mentioned the saber thing.

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    9. It's something you can see if you watch the games, but it's also something that would show up in a detailed evaluation of the statistics. What you see in the games might be what prompts you to look up the stats or vice-versa. They are not mutually exclusive.

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  2. IMO too much money for Greinke based on his performance and his personality issues. I think it is a mistake taking a guy with social anxiety issues and giving him the pressure of a big contract in a big market team. Mark my words, before his contract is over that is going to be an issue. They overpaid for damaged goods.

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    1. Well, I could see him running into arm problems like any pitcher at any time, but I don't see a whole lot of evidence that the social anxiety disorder is an active problem at this point.

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    2. Also, it may be too much money, but if the Dodgers have a bottomless pit of the stuff, it really doesn't matter.

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    3. That my point Dr B, it hasn't been "active" because for the most part he has been playing for smaller market teams with very little pressure. Didn't it become active after winning the Cy Young award? Maybe the success or pressure of it triggered the episodes. LA is not KC or Milwaukee, and this contract is huge, cannot be good for his condition. I am no doctor but common sense would say this is a big red flag on top of the normal arm problems a pitcher can run into as you mentioned. Much like Josh Hamilton, he's damaged goods. Great talents but risky acquisitions.

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    4. I agree with the risk part. Even if you discount the anxiety stuff, he's still a guy who marches to a different beat. The LA press is underrated in this respect, but they are as vicious as they come. Simers and Plaschke will have a field day at the first sign of any trouble in the clubhouse or any hint of underachieving.

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  3. Another way you can look at it, is that Matt Cain, who in my opinion is a much better club house presence, has more playoff expirience, is a more stable person in general, and is more consistent on the mound, is currently locked into a much better contract than Greinke. It seems like the Dodgers started at Matt Cain's contract and then went up in both AAV and years. I'd love to see them lose Kershaw to free agency because of this. Wouldn't that be nice.

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    1. We might as well accept that the Dodgers are not going to lose anybody to anything because of not enough money for the forseeable future.

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    2. Yeah that's probably right. Just wishful thinking I guess. I'd love to see a hard salary cap put into place in baseball. There isn't much skill to just throwing money all around whenever you want

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    3. The history of teams who try to spend their way to a championship is not stellar. You have to spend a certain amount to be competitive, but that extra something that gets you through 3 rounds in the postseason requires intangibles that money can't buy.

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    4. And the Angels were sure ready to take the AL West last year right? And those 2 time defending AL champs as well right? And the Yanks right? And the Sox right?

      I agree, spending is not the end all be all. I do believe in spending to get top talent, but its always better to develop it within your organization, and then you have the advantage of knowing that player better than any other team in baseball, when it comes time for free agency.

      Big time decisions coming on Timmy. I think we have to just let the chips fall and then address it next year after the dust settles. Either he proves out and you have to bid on him, or he craters and you have to bid on him, and a whole lot of grey in between.

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    5. Maybe the Dodgers will be the Lakers of MLB.

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    6. BLSL,

      With Magic Johnson as the front man with about $300 Billion in backing, you are just now figuring out he wants to use the Lakers business model on the Dodgers?

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    7. I mean like the Lakers not winning right now.

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    8. Yeah, well....Yankees West. MLB Lakers. Money doesn't always make you a winner, but the Lakers did win a lot of championships with a business model based on paying whatever you need to for star players. Magic Johnson has always been outspoken in his belief in the star-based business model. I'm just not sure it's as easy to make it work in baseball as in basketball.

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    9. I was listening to the Colin Cowherd show on ESPN Radio today and he mentioned that he's not sure if all of these overpaid players will be good for the Dodger Clubhouse chemistry.. He questioned whether the team will be hungry enough to do what it takes to win and Don Mattingly has a tough job ahead. I think he has a good point.

      LG

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  4. With the way contracts are exploding, we might look back on this in two years and say it's a solid deal. Think of the some of the deals getting thrown down lately... We might only be a few years away from a Greinke-Type getting a 6/200M deal. Not unthinkable if these trends continue. Giants should take note and get Posey locked up.

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  5. Hyun-Jin Ryu signs. $36 mil for 6 years.

    Will the Dodgers go after Anibal?

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    1. Magic eight ball say: likely

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    2. They only have 8 starters.

      Alberquerque still needs 2 more.

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  6. Enough of all this Dodger talk.

    The Giants moved up to #26 in the draft with this signing.

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    1. I'm pretty sure the Giants were at #27 to start with. If they began at #27, then with the signing of Upton and Greinke they are at #25, with a good likelihood (Bourn, Hamilton, Swisher) of getting to #22 or #21.

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    2. Greinke doesn't net a draft pick, he was traded mid-season. The CBA took that away, a player has to remain on his team all year long for comp. I believe its a direct result of Boston's gaming the system with Julio Lugo and another guy whose name I can't remember a few years back.

      The Braves lose a pick for Upton, unfortunately they are the 28 slot right behind us, so their pick disappears. Like Campanari says, the 3 OFs remaining might be able to get us the jump. The 4 teams that can sign players and not move the needle are the Yanks, Braves, Reds and Nationals. The ten teams with protected picks are: Astros, Cubs, Rockies, Twins, Indians, Marlins, Red Sox!, Royals, Blue Jays and Mets. Of those teams, I think the Indians might be the likeliest to score a FA.

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  7. Big trade going down. Dayton Moore is rolling the dice! I like it, don't know all the details yet, but he's grabbing Big Game James Shields and Wade Davis for Wil Myers and prospects. Classic go grab proven MLB pitchers for the minor league player of the year. Big trade. I am scared of Myers contact rate and am not quite buying into all the hype, and I love Shields, so I say good job Dayton. Don't know all the prospects he's giving away yet, that will most likely get Moore in trouble with most bloggers. But he needed to do something to go compete now, and he did. I applaud that part of it. I'm tired of GMs building the bestestest farm systems in the world. Your job is to go win. Yesterday. Moore's clock is ticking, he just made his move. I like it.

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  8. I agree with your take on this interesting trade between 2 small market teams... Its about time for the Royals to acquire proven MLB pitchers like James Shields to go along with their good young offensive pieces to compete.. Unfortunatly for them, their young pitching wasn't ready to contribute positively for them last year. I watched a handful of their games, and it was sad to watch at times.. A good GM uses his farm system to his advantage by knowing which prospects to keep and which ones to trade away for pieces to help the team win.. This trade has to be tough for Tampa Bay.. While they have a surplus of good young starting pitchers to compete for Shields spot, their staff was #1 in the American League with a team ERA of 3.19, which was a big reason they competed for playoff spots. I would think that losing a veteran of James Shields quality has to be a big loss. I like their manager Joe Madden and the aggressive style they play on the basepaths.. Maybe Wil Myers is the big hitter they've been looking for to go along with Evan Longoria in their lineup.. If that turns out to be true, then maybe the tradeoff of 2 more years of James Shields for a stud rookie hitter might be worth it for Tampa Bay in the long run..

    LG

    LG

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  9. I guess I a lot higher on Myers than either of you guys. Not sure I like this trade from KC's perspective at all. Sounds like maybe the owner got impatient and put Dayton Moore on the hot seat.

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    1. On further reading and reflection, KC did get two pretty good pitchers and have control of them for multiple years, so it's not as bad as my first reaction. I guess it depends on whether you see Wil Myers as a future Miguel Cabrera level hitter, which he is probably not, just because hitters like that are very rare.

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