Monday, June 4, 2007

Transactions Analysis: Avignon Edition

On this date 702 years ago, Bertrand de Goth was elected Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church after a 1+ year interregnum with no Pope because of a dispute between the rival French and Italian Cardinals. Despite being neither Italian nor a Cardinal, Monsieur de Goth became Pope regardless by allying himself with powerful King Phillip IV of France. Upon learning of his election, he took the name Clement V, and demanded that he be coronated at Lyon, whereupon he elevated 9 French priests to the position of Cardinal. Within 5 years, not only was the Papal throne relocated to Avignon for the so-called "Babylonian Captivity", but Clement V took the sensible step of rounding up the Knights Templar and finding them guilty of heresy and sodomy, capital crimes under the Church. (They were later exonerated.) Clement V died in 1314, and while his body was lying in repose for viewing, a lighting bolt struck the church holding his corpse. According to the Inferno, he has been damned to the 8th ring of hell, somewhere between Brutus and Denny McLain.

And what, pray tell, does this have to do with the Wankdorf league? Well, outside of the fact this is probably more interesting and useful than a single thing to follow below, it's worth bearing in mind that name-calling from a faux seat is a precarious position. Just because a bunch of Francs decided that Bertrand de Goth was the heir to the Papal throne for kicks in the early 14th century didn't give him the right to start naming the honorable Knights Templar sodomites and heretics. So if my apartment is struck by lighting this week and my bearded collie is incinerated on the spot, I'll stop doing TA's. Until then though, the glorious reign continues. (El Angelo)

One of the downsides to taking the brakeman position in a TA is an occasional utter inability to come up with a way to segue out of my worthy colleague's lead-in. This week's edition finds that particular downside in full flower. I'll settle for simply noting that if Denny McLain came to rest in the 8th circle of hell, Ty Cobb must have ended up as a toilet plunger at Hitler's place in the 9th circle. (Teddy)

Ed Rooney's Office
  • Signed Brad Hawpe, OF, Colorado; Released Adam Lind, OF, Toronto [7/1]
Wow, I have to start off with this crap? The Nose-Picking Principals swap the 39th best OF for the 40th best OF. That'll carry the day boys! (El Angelo)

Incremental progress, my boy. Adam Lind appears en route to nailing down the Erubiel Durazo Award, given annually to BP's most over-hyped AAA call-up, so I had to send him away to a farm in the countryside where he can run free and be happy (honestly, Timmy). The real news for me this week is that I reduced my store of DL's players from 6 to 3. Again, incremental progress. (Teddy)

Hand Banana
  • Released Sammy! Sosa, OF, Texas [5/30]

  • Signed Brad Hennessey, RP, San Fran; Released Henry Owens, RP, Florida and Bronson Arroyo, SP, Cincy [6/1]
  • Signed Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Boston; Released Salomon Torres, RP, Pittsburgh [5/3]
I was almost going to write an Ode to Armando Benitez after his balk-a-rific finale as Giants' closer last week (which was possibly my favorite baseball sequence in the last 3 years), then they cut his useless ass and beat me to the punch. Do you realize he's given up EIGHT postseason home runs, and has blown FIVE postseason save opportunities? He's nothing shy of abominable, and outside of the brief stint he had as O's setup man in '96, has never been good enough to warrant a starring role. And he has a fine propensity to implode at the absolute worst fucking times. (No, I'm not bitter about Game 1 in 2000.) Good riddance, Armando. Hennessey, do better. It won't be hard. (El Angelo)

I love Dustin Pedroia more than Josh Hancock loved the sight of an ice-cold beer nestled snugly in a cup-holder. Pedroia gives hope to slow, short guys everywhere. Given that, and given my admittedly imperfect knowledge of the physiognomic makeup of the league's owners, I'm suprised it took this long for someone to grab DP. He's recently been bumped up to the #2 slot in the batting order in Boston, so he should score a ton of runs from here on out hitting in front of Papi and Manny. This is a nice complementary pickup of the type that HB has specialized over the past few years.

As for the Benitez balkaplooza, well, that pretty much made my month. Keep in mind that a balk is, in essence, a failure to stand still correctly. The fact that a professional athlete was unable to stand still on command twice in a five-minute period is staggering. Even Pedroia has sufficient physical gifts to stand still, for chrissakes.

And, lastly, regarding Bronson Arroyo: I called it. We will, for these purposes, overlook the fifteen other predictions I made in that article that have already been misproven by June. (Teddy)

It's Enrico Palazzo
  • Signed Fernando Rodney, RP, Detroit; Released Kevin Millwood, SP, Texas and Jose Vidro, 2B, Seattle [6/3]
Remember Teddy's shock and surprise last week at Mark DeRosa being on someone's roster? I have roughly the same reaction here: Jose Vidro? WTF? He's got an aight OBP, he actually has scored a few runs in that middling Seattle lineup this year, but he contributes NOTHING in the other 3 categories whatsoever. So what the hell was the reason for having him at all? Oh wait, he qualifies at first base too. That must've been it. (El Angelo)

I have nothing to add here except the fact that the folks at USS Mariner have christened Vidro "Turbo" for his utter lack of footspeed and propensity to liberally lace his scoreline with GIDPs. I do like the Fernando Rodney pickup in the wake of the continued decay of Todd Jones, whose A.L. championship ring should be available on eBay any day now. (Teddy)

Le Dupont Torkies
  • Signed Kevin Slowey, SP, Minnesota and Orlando Cabrera, SS, Anaheim; Released Bobby Crosby, SS, Oakland and Carlos Ruiz, C, Philly [6/1]
A double-punch that's nothing shy of fantastic for the Defending Champs; sneaking in Kevin Slowey before the rest of us caught on was a tremendous call and great turn of foot (hand? fingers?) demonstrated by a guy who obviously needs an extra starter. I actually like the Cabrera/Crosby swap even better; Cabrera, I would wager, is probably squarely on the line of Replacement Level for a fantasy shortstop, and he can actually steal bases. Crosby, by contrast, don't do shit. The only real "downside" here is that Carlos Ruiz is now filing for unemployment. I say that not because I feel bad for Ruiz, but because we're now actually staring at a team without an active catcher, which I suppose isn't illegal, but is kinda screwy. (El Angelo)

It was interesting to see the entire league stare at OCab's quick start and talk themselves out of going after him. I still maintain that he can't and won't keep this up, but for an FA pickup it's certainly worth a shot. Heck, in past years in this league somebody would have picked up OCab on April 25th or so, and started shopping him around to other teams by May in a package deal with Eric Hinske.

The no-catcher approach is intruiging. Given that there's only one rate stat on the offensive side, a guy has to be pretty bad before you'd sacrifice whatever marginal counting stats he could give you in the other four categories. Query whether it's worth it over even the medium-haul. (Teddy)

Nigerian Gentlemen
  • Signed Pat Neshek, RP, Minnesota; Released Clay Hensley, SP, San Diego [6/2]

It's getting to the point with Neshek that I should just have autotype for his strengths and weaknesses, as he's destined to become this year's Guillermo Mota by hitting everyone's roster by Bastille Day. In fairness, perhaps we've been underrating relievers in these TAs, as they do have increased value in a daily rosters system, unlike one with weekly changes, where they just sucked away spots from your starters. Still, can Neshek be anything resembling the difference between 3rd and 6th for this team? It's not like he's in line to close anytime soon. (El Angelo)

We've had 7 post-draft TA's so far this year, and Neshek has now appeared in 6 of them. He's the runaway leader for the Pewter Parachute, which I don't think anyone saw coming back in April.

At left: Half of you have signed this man.

In some ways, Neshek is the converse of the Torkies' no-catcher plan. Neshek essentially only provides value in the rate stats, and little or no value in the counting stats. However, because there are two rate stats for pitchers, and because most pitchers only contribute to 2 of the 3 counting stat categories (it's almost impossible to get lots of Wins and lots of Saves), the move is more defensible.

The real problem is that middle relief performance is so variable from week to week that these types of guys almost always wear out their welcome pretty quickly. Thus the Mota-ization of Neshek, and the concomitant fact that at this rate the GRBG will have added "Neshek" to "Gowanus + Baseball" and "Torkies" in its stash of bizarrely high Google listings. To which I note that Ang's Preakness Preview nosed its way on to the front page of Google results for Preakness + preview. Mazeltov! (Teddy)

President Skroob

  • Signed Shawn Marcum, SP, Toronto [5/30]

  • Signed Akinori Otsuka, RP, Texas and Edwin Encarnacion, 3B, Cincy; Released Mark Reynolds, 3B, Arizona and Brandon McCarthy, SP, Texas [6/1]

It's fair to say that the Brandon McCarthy gambit has worked out about as well for me as it did for Jon Daniels---he stinks. By contrast, Aki Otsuka at least has a passable shot at closing at some point in time and racking up garbage stats, either for trade bait again (a la Kevin Gregggg) or for '08 as a 12th man closer/keeper. Also, while I despise the Yankees, I note that whatever form of bubonic plague or dengue fever they're carrying around is spreading; Marcum goes out and pitches a gem against their lineup, and is immediately injured. Thanks, fucksticks. (El Angelo)

Edwin Encarncaion for Mark Reynolds sure seems like an upgrade at 3B as well. If Cincy ever left that kid alone he'd turn out just fine, especially playing half his games in that bandbox. Those young Toronto pitchers seem like good ideas, but going forward I think you have to assume that there will be three elite offensive teams in the same division. Combine that with the SkyDome park factor, and you have to be pretty damn good before you're worth playing (let alone keeping) as a Toronto SP. Gustavo Chacin looms as a cautionary tale--and let's not even mention Josh Towers.

The Sex Cannons
  • Signed Jason Varitek, C, Boston; Released Johnny Estrada, C, Milwaukee [5/29]

  • Released Jarrod Washburn, SP, Seattle [5/31]

  • Signed Kenny Rogers, SP, Detroit and Matt Morris, SP, San Fran; Released Touchdown Tim Wakefield, SP, Boston [6/2]

  • Claimed Mark Reynolds, 3B, Arizona off waivers; Released Ryan Doutmit, C, Pittsburgh [6/4]

My mistake is Elders' reward, as I was a tad hasty on the trigger finger with Reynolds, and The Commish rights a wrong. I still don't think he's going to keep it up for particularly long, but we've seen worse gambles at the hot corner this year, including but not limited to a Chris Sabo reference. The pitchers are all fungible messes around the edges, so I'll pose the question to our fearless leader: if you know that Teddy will have every worthwhile fringe-level BoSock out there that's worth keeping, why bother with 'Tek? (El Angelo)

Ah, but you're forgetting that I already have VMart at catcher. Otherwise I'd have been all over Tek. After a terrible April, he's kicked the shit out of the ball for a month. He, along with Pedroia, sort of got hidden in the Yahoo rankings because of their slow starts, but over the past 5 weeks or so they've been incredibly valuable. Tek's a guy you're going to want to bail out on sooner than later--35 y/o catchers figure not to fare well at the tail end of a long season--but as a short-term plug it's a great move. (Teddy)

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