Monday, December 2, 2013

Hot Stove Update: Nationals Steal Doug Fister; Billy Beane Buys High on Scott Kazmir and Jim Johnson

The Hot Stove, which has been crackling away for over a week now, heated up even more today with a flurry of trades and signings.  The day got started with a big trade in which the Nationals acquired dependable starter for a reserve IF and 2 pitching prospects.  Fister does not dazzle people with a lot of strikeouts but he keeps his walks way down and shows a strong groundball tendency.  This has resulted in an accumulation of 15.1 fWAR over the last 4 seasons which is worth over 3 times his projected arbitration salary of just under $7 M.  He has 2 arbitration years left including 2014.

The Nationals did not give up nothing.  In addition to utility IF Steve Lombardozzi, they sent Ian Krol, a lefty specialist and Robbie Ray, a AA pitching prospect to the Tigers.  Krol had a line of 2-1, 3.95, 27.1 IP, 8 BB, 22 K.  His numbers against LH batters were significantly better.  The Tigers certainly could have used him in the
ALCS against David Ortiz!  Now who's overpaying for lefty specialists?

Robbie Ray also throws LH.  He pitched at 2 levels last year at age 21:  High A  6-3, 3.11, 84 IP, 41 BB, 100 K.  AA  5-2, 3.72, 58 IP, 21 BB, 60 K's.

Fister certainly is a guy who would fit nicely into the Giants rotation whose projected arbitration salary, at least for 2014 is not a whole lot higher than what Vogey is guaranteed.  The package the Nationals gave up was roughly the equivalent of the Giants giving up Jake Dunning and Edwin Escobar.  The only problem is I think it is clear that Detroit was desperate to add a lefty specialist reliever after getting torched by David Ortiz in the ALCS and would not have wanted to pay Mijares projected arbitration salary of $2.1 M, so I'm not sure the Giants would have been able to give Detroit what they wanted.

Meanwhile, Billy Beane gave Scott Kazmir a contract for 2 years/$22 M.  Kazmir is coming off a season with a line of 10-9, 4.04, 158 IP, 47 BB, 162 K.  That's not a bad line, but it's the first decent one he's has since 2008.  While it's not a terrible contract from the A's standpoint, it is putting some faith in a guy whose career has been marked by inconsistency and injury.

Billy wasn't done dealing and later acquired Closer Jim Johnson from the Orioles for Jemile Weeks and a PTBNL. Billy basically did not give up anything in Weeks, but Johnson is a poster boy for the fungibility of closers racking up oodles of Saves with pedestrian peripheral numbers.  His MLBTR projected arbitration salary is $10 M.

Of course Dave Cameron and the Fangraphs crowd have found some way to spin these deals as Moneyball undervalued asset stuff, but these seem like very un-Moneyball-like moves to me.


  1. 1. Dunning and Escobar, without further information, but based on the numbers here, seem better than Krol and Ray.

    2. If Cameron and whoever is Fangraph spin it as good moves, they are not following a system, a way, but engaging in a personality cult.

    3. If it's about getting the next Ortiz, out in another ALCS, I don't think Detroit would haggle over $2.1 million and a starting pitcher the caliber of Fister. That's just me. The net difference of almost $9 million though, seems to me to be destined for paying their other stars.

    1. Detroit is definitely shedding money, but I'm also sure that Ortiz left an impression on them and they were looking for lefty bullpen help coming back, so it's part of both.

      Just to be clear, Dave Cameron was only spinning the Kazmir deal as an undervalued asset, but yeah, the point still stands.

    2. OK, I see.

      If he is spinning Kazmir as an undervalued asset, I assume, by that, he means the deal COULD turn out to be undervalued in the future. It doesn't seem to be undervalued NOW, but more likely in line with the current market or even overvalued.

      And if he wants to talk about the future, then, it's also possible it could be overvalued.

      By looking only at one side of the coin, he gives the impression that he's in a personality cult.

  2. BLSL, I'm with you - your point about DET needing $$$$ for other stars on their roster was my first thought. I wish we could have picked up Fister - I think he will make the Nats a far more difficult obstacle to Ring #3 in 2014. That being said, it's Xmas time and I gots lotsa hope for our G-Men!!!

    As for Dave Cameron, I have enjoyed his Mariners observations over the years, but he does have a serious bias vs Los Gigantes and our GM. He did have a serious health scare a few years back (cancer, IIRC), so I am glad that he has recovered. The SABR arrogance is a little too much though. Kudos to all you guys for going over to Fangraphs, USSM and other vitriolic interwebz locales and representin' (as the kids used to say).

    How 'bout them Seahawks?!!! Should be a great game at the Stick next Sunday.


  3. I think these are baseball moves by the A's. Moves intended to fill holes and strengthen the team, not necessarily win the deal or conserve assets. Oakland seems intent on winning and these are moves that can help sustain their recent success. 10 mil for an experienced closer that pounds the zone with a hard and heavy sinker sounds right around the market rate. The Kazmir deal sounds right in line with the current market for pitchers with upside but with question marks.
    Must be nice for Beane that he doesn't have go cheap every time and can pay the market rate for players that still have a chance of being undervalued.

    So is that Beane's finishing touch to the roster or is there more in store?