- Indians sign Carl Pavano to a 1-year, $1.5 million contract (with incentives that could push it to $6.8 million):
This is the type of low-risk/high-reward maneuver for the Indians and Mark Shapiro that has paid huge dividends in the past with the likes of Juan Gonzalez and Kevin Millwood; if Pavano has any motivation at all to stay healthy, pitch well and possibly get himself another long-term contract at season’s end, he could be a viable number three starter (as this NY Times Story asserts), but if he’s starting the year as the number three behind Cliff Lee and Fausto Carmona, the Indians have more problems to address if they want to rise to the top of a very flawed division.
I don’t think anyone can possibly know if Pavano is going to be able to stay healthy after his series of pratfalls during his time with the Yankees that bordered on the ludicrous, but that’s just half the concern. Even after he returned to the Yankees rotation for the final month-and-a-half of the 2008 season, his stuff wasn’t exactly blistering—-in fact it was, at best, mediocre. His velocity and location were average; his movement was slight and trackable; and his breaking pitches lacked bite.
Obviously, a guy returning from Tommy John surgery who hadn’t pitched in the big leagues on a regular basis in three years was going to be rusty, but after a full spring training and basically singing for his supper with a contract heavily weighed toward incentives, the Indians should know relatively quickly whether they’re getting anything close to the Pavano that earned the Yankees contract with two good seasons for the Marlins, or the guy that was trying to get by with diminished stuff and show a team (like the Indians) that he was worth a big league contract and financial gamble in 2009.
I can’t imagine the Indians are really thinking that Pavano’s going to be their third starter in 2009. In a best case scenario two or three from the following—-Zach Jackson (acquired in the C.C. Sabathia trade); Aaron Laffey; Jeremy Sowers, Anthony Reyes; or Scott Lewis—-will develop enough to make anything they get from Pavano a bonus. He’s not their third starter; he’s a mutually advantageous signing for player and team and they’re hoping they get a similar return as they got from Millwood and Gonzalez, nothing more.
- Athletics sign Jason Giambi for 1-year, $3.5 million, with an option:
Even through all the PED allegations and admissions; calls for his “firing” and over-the-top ridicule he received (some of which was just plain mean), Jason Giambi acquitted himself far more classily than any of the “baseball giants” Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds ever could have. On the field, he was pretty much what the Yankees knew they were getting when they signed him; he was always well-liked and respected by his teammates and generous and kind to fans. All things being equal, Giambi may have been better off had he never left the Athletics to begin with. Now he returns and one has to wonder how many DHs a team can realistically win with in one lineup.
In addition to the stone gloved Giambi, they have Jack Cust (for whom it may be time for A’s boss Billy Beane to sell high after replenishing Cust’s career to a remarkable degree after he washed out in four different organizations); and Eric Chavez, who is still an unknown as to whether his surgically-repaired shoulder will allow him to make the throws from third base if he plays at all. Giambi will hit for the A’s and he’ll get on base, so they’re going to get good bang for their buck in that respect.
Another question is what they’re going to do with the heralded prospect Daric Barton, whose 2008 was a disaster on and off the field. People are under the mistaken belief that the key to the trade that sent Mark Mulder from the A’s to the Cardinals was Dan Haren, but in reality, Beane wouldn’t have made the trade if he wasn’t getting Barton. Barton is going to have to stay healthy and replenish his image as a prospect over the first half of the 2009 season and I doubt Beane’s going to just give up on him. He played some third base (poorly) in the minors, so maybe they could add a fourth DH to their lineup in some configuration. Here’s something I don’t get; Rob Neyer wrote the following about Barton in his blog today:
Still, I can’t help but wonder what’s to become of Daric Barton.
A year ago he was Oakland’s No. 1 prospect. Now if he doesn’t get
traded he’s probably headed back to Sacramento for the fourth time. You
know, the Orioles could really use a guy like Barton.
So, the Orioles need another prospect who didn’t live up to expectations and is diminished to the point that he’s possibly even available to begin with? They whiffed on Mark Teixeira and are going to ignite their disgusted fan base with…Daric Barton? A Billy Beane castoff? In that division? I don’t get it.
- Mets current lineup isn’t going to cut it:
Mike Francesa was talking about the Mark Teixeira signing and how the Yankees have stolen the spotlight from the Mets again with their wheelbarrows of cash; then he mentioned how Manny Ramirez is available and would cement the Mets as not only division favorites, but league favorites. The Mets brass (aside from Omar Minaya and probably Tony Bernazard) want nothing to do with Manny financially or to run the risk of his moodiness negatively influencing and affecting the rest of team (specifically Jose Reyes and Fernando Martinez), but Francesa brought up a good point in that Manny would be a perfect addition to the Mets lineup to fill the hole in left field.
I’d be in favor of signing Manny if his price drops, but even without that, the Mets lineup as it’s currently constructed is not going to cut it no matter what they do with the pitching staff. The days of the Mets doing as they did in the late 60s and early 70s and getting by with a superior pitching staff and low-scoring games are over. That won’t work in today’s game and in the NL East. They’re going to do something to bring in a run producer; the Mets lineup as follows isn’t nearly good enough to overtake the Phillies or hold off the Marlins:
- Jose Reyes, SS
- Daniel Murphy/Fernando Tatis, LF
- Carlos Beltran, CF
- David Wright, 3B
- Carlos Delgado, 1B
- Ryan Church, RF
- Brian Schneider, C
- Luis Castillo, 2B
I was a harsh critic of the idea that the Mets were expecting anything out of Fernando Tatis and he proved me woefully wrong by producing clutch hits, behaving in an exemplary manner on and off the field, and winning Comeback Player of the Year; but who knows when the clock is going to strike midnight on Tatis’s comeback story?
Church is a question mark physically, is said to be uncomfortable in New York, and was terrible in September. Schneider is what he is at the plate and Castillo has expressed a desire to redeem himself, but there may not be much left physically to come through on that desire.
I’m not saying they should sign Manny at the terms Scott Boras wants, and the Mets concerns with him are legitimate; but this current lineup isn’t going to scare anyone. I’m no fan of Abreu, but if his numbers fall enough that he’d come to the Mets on a 2-year contract, then he’d fit perfectly in that two hole to get on base in front of the big hitters; the same with Adam Dunn. Then there are the trade possibilities like Jermaine Dye, Gary Sheffield or Aubrey Huff. Either way, the Mets have to do something about that lineup or run the risk of reliving their 2007-2008 fate not because of a collapse, but because they don’t have the personnel.