thoughts on the Mariners, MLB draft, and more homelinksdraftabout me

2012 Hall of Fame Ballot

This might be the last post of 2011, we'll see. I'm hoping that if I say enough times "this is the last post of 2011," the Mariners will make me look foolish by completing some big move. I also find it ironic that the last post of this year has next year in the title.

I digress. As a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, I have the privilege of filling out a Hall of Fame ballot. It does not count in the real HOF vote, but it does count for the BBA voting. I am curious to see how my fellow BBA bloggers vote, and whom we would elect if we were the BBWAA.

I won't drone on and on about how I decide who is a Hall of Famer, but I do put some thought into my standards. I believe the Hall of Fame's primary function is to preserve what baseball looks like in its highest form. This generally means accumulating remarkable statistics, but that's not everything, as you will see with my ballot. More than anything, I see the hall as where we acknowledge and define what baseball at its best ought to look like.

Because I am a fan of transparency (and ready-made blog posts), here are the players voted yes for, in alphabetical order:

Gio Latest To Go

image taken by deb roby on Flickr
I feel like I'm maintaining an A's blog right now. Another week, another mega deal involving the M's foes from the bay area. The latest sent shipping is LHP Gio Gonzalez, to the Nationals for RHP Brad Peacock, LHP Tom Milone, RHP A.J. Cole, and C Derek Norris.

Gonzalez, in my eyes, is a good but not great pitcher. That's not meant as a slam on him - good is good in my book. He has posted 3+ WAR the past 2 seasons. For me, on an ideal pitching staff, that's a number 3 starter. Gonzalez gets more than his fair share of strikeouts, which is nice, and his numbers across the board suggest that he is hard to square up. However, Gio also has a small penchant for walks, his biggest blemish. What I am interested to see is how Gio's move from a pitcher's park to a more neutral one will impact him. His home run rate allowed has been below league average, but perhaps that has more to do with the park than him. We'll have a better idea a year from now.

Reds Acquire Latos

Photo taken by SD Dirk on Flickr
The most significant trade of the offseason (to date) happened today. The Reds acquired RHP Mat Latos from the Padres for RHP Edinson Volquez, 1B Yonder Alonso, C Yasmani Grandal, and RHP Brad Boxberger. It's hard not to like this deal for both sides.

Cincinnati's end is quicker to write about, so I'll start there. Latos is a 24-year-old budding star. He's already good, and is young enough to think that he might become great. The mid-90s heat and 6'6" frame Latos possesses certainly make it easy to dream of greatness. Still, even if Latos is a finished product, he's an upgrade for Cincinnati. He is a bona fide top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher.

I doubt the Padres really wanted to give up Latos, but this was a trade they couldn't refuse.

Everyone Wins Cahill Deal

Trevor Cahill
Image taken by mwlguide on Flickr
This is old news now, but the Athletics seemed to throw in the towel on 2012 a day after the Angels signed Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. They dealt starting pitcher Trevor Cahill, along with lefty reliever Craig Breslow, to the Diamondbacks for pitching prospect Jarrod Parker, outfielder Collin Cowgill, and relief prospect Ryan Cook.

The timing is interesting, but probably coincidental. As much as the A's look like they gave up, this deal was likely in the works at the winter meetings. It probably would have happened no matter where Pujols signed.

Let's take a look at who the Diamondbacks acquired:

Why The Angels Stink

Photo taken by SD Dirk on Flickr
When a team signs a guy like C.J. Wilson for 5 years, $77.5 million, and that's completely overshadowed, that team has had a big day.

The Angels had a big day. They landed Albert Pujols for the cool price of a quarter billions dollars or so, spread over a decade. It's the kind of deal that's so big it's hard to comprehend. $100 million feels like an eye-popping threshold. Albert just got two and half times that, plus a little more on top.

Or how about this: Jayson Werth got the biggest free agent deal last offseason, and it's total worth ($126 million) is a little less than half what Pujols just got ($254 million). For even more perspective, A-Rod's contract is still worth $21 million more total than Albert's. Talk about getting paid.

Still, I bet Pujols will be able to find an apartment in his price range, even in the greater Los Angeles area. No need to come straight outta Compton*. Maybe he and Wilson can be roommates to pool costs, if it's a real issue.

*Unrelated to baseball, but an interesting article on the influence of gangs in amateur athletics.

Even as a realistic Mariners fan, it's hard not to feel demoralized. The M's probably weren't about to be serious contenders in 2012, but Wilson and Pujols combined for 11.0 WAR last year, and they are bringing those wins to a division rival. That stinks. I shouldn't resent the Angels for making themselves better, because that's what a good, competitive team looks to do. Moreover, it's not exactly as if they got a discount, or used some sort of loophole. Maybe C.J. Wilson gave a bit of a hometown discount, but not much of one.

However, these are the Angels, and I hate the Angels. Not in the way I hate the Yankees (and I do hate the Yankees), but a hatred nonetheless. In fact, I'd say that I hate the Angels more than the Yankees, and how can I not hate them even more after today?

Rays Are Picking Machines

When the Rays traded John Jaso to the Mariners, I wondered who their starting catcher would be. I didn't see a strong candidate on their roster, though they had options. A day after trading Jaso, they signed Jose Molina, and Rays GM Andrew Friedman had this to say:
Jose has been one of the best defensive catchers in baseball over the past decade, and his presence will bring even more stability to our defense, and he will, of course, be a great asset to our young pitchers.
(you can check this article to confirm he really said this)

Now, it's not like a GM will ever come out when they sign a guy and say, "well, he has limited offensive upside thanks to huge holes in his swing, but he's adequate." There's always some gamesmanship when commenting on an acquisition. You want people to feel good about the player just acquired.

Still, when Friedman says someone is a good defender, he knows what he is talking about. Friedman took over the Rays in 2006, and under him the Rays clearly made defense a priority, right around the 2007 offseason. The following is a list of Tampa Bay's defensive efficiencies (which is simply the percentage of balls in play that turn into outs) since 2006, along with their rank in Major league baseball that year:

Signing Ford a Minor Deal

photo via Aunt Juli on Flickr
The Mariners made a small move, signing OF Darren Ford to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. Geoff Baker sees this as a precursor to some major deals, and he may be right. The Mariners are in on Prince Fielder, and that would be a major deal.

Well, I take that back. Geoff Baker isn't right. The Mariners might be on the cusp of a major deal, but signing Darren Ford has little to do with it.