Baseball Wiseguys

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Release the Hounds!

Around the Majors
Baseball's arbitration deadline passed yesterday, which typically marks the start of impact free agents signing with new teams. As you might expect, a lot of deals were signed yesterday, all around the league.

The Cubbies re-upped their double-play combo for one more year, signing Todd Walker at $2.5M and Ramon-spelled-backwards at $8M. I think the Nomar deal is win-win for both sides involved (forgetting for a moment the fact that Nomar turned down 4yr/$60M last winter) and am interested to see how 2005 turns out for him. Despite being a Yankee fan, I've always respected Nomar, and it was disappointing to see how he and the Sox both seemingly quit on each other last year. It was an ugly scene, so maybe a healthy '05 and a playoff berth can put a little shine back into his star. He's still only 31, and a possible 2005 projection for him, if healthy, could look like this (I am doubling his '04 stats since he played about half as many games as he normally does.)

Nomar02 635 197 101 24 120 63 41 .352 .528 .880
Nomar03 658 198 120 28 105 61 39 .345 .524 .869
Nomar04 642 198 104 18 82 60 48 .365 .477 .842
Proj05 646 198 109 22 96 61 44 .356 .501 .857

Brad Radke stayed on with the Twins for two years and $18M, and Matt Morris sticks with the Cards at one year and $2.5M plus possible incentives. And the market for FA pitchers grows thinner...

Yankee News
A lot of news late yesterday, as the Yankees inked Jaret Wright to a 3yr/$21M deal and Tony Womack for 2yr/$4M. I gotta say, this is certainly an interesting turn of events. I think I am going to rename the new 2B to Tony Woeful, because he seems to be just that. Yes, he is capable of stealing a base now and then, but he is basically the anti-Moneyball leadoff hitter, with a career OBP of .319. Yuck. He's basically an older, slightly faster version of Miguel Cairo, whom it seems the Yankees have cut ties with by not offering arbitration yesterday. Two years, for a 35 year old second baseman? Doesn't make any sense to me unless the Yanks are planning on signing someone like Polanco and use Womack as the back-up.

The Wright signing is interesting. It most likely paves Lieber's way out of town; he is rumored to be headed to Philly for a 3 year deal. As much as I liked Lieber, he is a good deal older than Wright, so if the Yankees are going to throw a KrisBensonDeal at anyone, I'd rather it be someone younger. There are a couple of huge concerns with Jaret however. Can he stay healthy after years of injury struggles? And can he be the same pitcher away from NL hitting, and away from the stellar Atlanta pitching gurus? He pitched 186 innings last year, his highest total by far since the late 90' will be interesting to see if 2004 was the year he put it all together, or if the Yanks just pissed twenty mil down the toilet...

With one of my sleeper FA picks heading to NY in Jaret Wright, the Nationals will now turn to other starters on the market, possibly Odalis Perez. He's entering his prime years, and has throw three straight seasons of 180-220 innings, without any real sign of injury risk. Not much other on-field news involving the team, though I am still anxiously awaiting the availability of fitted Nats hats in local stores.

With all the bitching and moaning about the BCS of late, it looks even more absurd when you consider the fact that all of the lesser divisions of college football play a well constructed playoff system. I know the money is of another scale entirely, but there's still gotta be a way to make it work.

The big game this weekend will be played on Friday night, as the JMU Dukes travel to Williamsburg to take on the Tribe in the 1-AA semifinal. W&M edged JMU on a late FG to beat them last month, and the two teams tied for the Atlantic 10 Conference title. The two teams could hardly be any different, as W&M features a passing attack that rolls up nearly 300 yards a game, while the Dukes more resemble the old power Giants teams, focusing on a strong defense and over 200 yards per game rushing. They are calling for rain on Friday, whch could force both teams to the ground...Go Dukes!


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