Friday, May 23, 2008

Transactions Analysis: Brooklyn Bridge Anniversary Edition

Yesterday, May 24th, was not only my wife's 30th birthday, but it also marked the 125th anniversary of the opening of arguably the greatest engineering feat in American history, the Brooklyn Bridge. To celebrate the momentous occasion, we're dedicating this Transactions Analysis to all things Brooklyn, undoubtedly New York's finest borough. I was going to call in David McCullough to write the TA, but he's knee-deep in researching, of all moronic things, a book about Americans in Paris. So instead, you're stuck with a pair of Brooklyn wise-asses, me, a former resident whose entire paternal family hails originally from either Flatbush or Williamsburg, and Sir Teddy, current denizen of Park Slope. Unlike McCullough, we at least know what OBP is and don't think that Billy Beane wrote Moneyball. (El Angelo)

I proposed to my wife on the Brooklyn Bridge, so I guess I have to try to step it up for this TA theme. Jesus, what were the odds back when we started these things that there would be two spousal references before the first Ryan Dempster joke? (Teddy)

Wu Tang Financial
  • Signed Clint Barmes, MI, Colorado [5/14]
  • Signed Hong Chih Kuo, RP, Los Angeles; Released Derek Lowe Face, SP, Los Angeles [5/18]
We start this week's edition with a player near and dear to my heart: The return of prized hunter Clint Barmes, who lost all usefulness after his tragic hunting accident in 2005. It appears that he's back to that exponentially high level he showed in early '05, what with a .375 OBP and .571 SLG? Well, not quite. He's at roughly his 98% PECOTA level, and he still hasn't learned how to take a walk, meaning those numbers are going to come crashing down at some point. Still, given his role here is just to replace Rafael Furcal during his injury time, it's a nice snag for the current leaders. (El Angelo)

Once more for posterity: in this league I once traded Barmes straight up for Mariano Rivera. I'm going to end up like Dan Duquette, who spends his half of his days mumbling on his porch about the time he traded Heathcliff Slocumb away to Seattle in return for Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe, and the other half feebly protesting that Theo Epstein gets too much credit for the Red Sox World Series titles.

Feebly Related Brooklyn Bridge Fact: Although credit for the supervision of the bridge's construction is often assigned to Washington Roebling, he was an invalid during much of the construction. During this period it is widely believed that his wife Emily was really running things. (Teddy)

Matsui's Fissure
  • Signed Jesse Listch, SP, Toronto; Released Chad Qualls, RP, Houston [5/14]
I first thought this was former ROY winner Pat Listach, but research revealed otherwise. Since there's really nothing interesting or funny to say about these transactions, I'll instead give a shout-out to my favorite Brooklyn restaurant, the incomparable Bamonte's. It's been open for about 100 years, and they've yet to change waiters since their inception, and the veal is quite good. Yes, dinner can take about 2 1/2 hours there. That's part of the fun. If you're in the mood for baked clams, mussels marinara and cavatelli, it's where to go at about half the price of most places on the other end of the L train. (El Angelo)

It ain't classy unless it's got big ol' chandeliers, right Ang? I asked to make a substitution once at this restaurant and came within an inch of getting three fingers amputated at the table. (Teddy)

Feebly Related Brooklyn Bridge Fact: Bridge designer John Roebling lost several toes to an accident during the early days of the bridge's construction. The toes were initially crushed in the accident and later surgically amputated without anesthetic. Christ. (Teddy)

clemens the pederast
  • Signed Mark DeRosa, Jack of all Trades, Quakers and Eric Hinske, 3B, Tampa; Released J.J. Hardy, SS, Milwaukee and Eugenio Valez, 2B, San Fran [5/14]
Not to pour it on the Healer...but the only guy on this list with real upside that could potentially help you is J.J. Hardy, and he's the guy you cut? I suppose I see the argument that he's the NL's answer to Bobby Crosby, but as Teddy will attest, Mark DeRosa is only good for Natty Lites. At least they came to their senses and rid themselves of Valez, who'd have trouble improving the Trenton Thunder. Though if they're in a quest for the top lottery pick, then perhaps they should have kept him. (El Angelo)

Eh, I don't mind the Hardy dump--his positive rep is based on 3 hot months in AA 3 years ago and 6 hot weeks in the bigs last year. More to the point, I cannot believe that 7 years after I picked him as a joke in the inaugural league draft, DeRosa is still hanging around on rosters. Does anyone still have Doug Glanville tucked away somewhere as well?

Feebly Related Brooklyn Bridge Fact: The weight of the Brooklyn-side bridge tower is equal to the weight of 181,818,000 empty Natty Light cans. All hail Google calculator. (Teddy)

Christmas Critters
  • Waived Russ Springer, RP, St. Louis [5/13]
  • Signed Scott Downs, RP, Toronto [5/16]
Fun fact about Russ Springer: he's the lone active player from the vaunted 1992 Jim Abbott deal, which sent Abbott to the Yankees in exchange for Springer, J.T. Snow and the immortal Jerry "Not Connie" Nielsen. If you had taken Springer as the last man standing from that deal at anytime prior to, I dunno, September 2006, you would have profited handsomely. Something tells me we won't be writing the same about Scott Downs in 2024, when he's back saddling horses in Louisville. (El Angelo)

Proposition: A retired (and presumably still one-armed) Jim Abbott is still superior to Russ Springer Spaniel. Discuss.

Feebly Related Brooklyn Bridge Fact: On the same day in 1901 that a runaway horse caused a panic on the Brooklyn Bridge, the New York Times reported that a Japanese Spaniel in Hoboken was murdered by a Saint Bernard which was jealous of the attention lavished on the spaniel by the dogs' joint owner. I am not making this up. (Teddy)

Frank the Tank
  • Signed Ryan Ludwick, OF, St. Louis, Mike Mussina, SP, New York (AL) and Daniel Cabrera, SP, Baltimore; Released Matt Albers, RP, Baltimore and Edgar Renteria, SS, Detroit [5/14]
  • Signed Jayson Werth, OF, Philly; Released Chad Gaudin, RP, Oakland [5/20]
  • Signed Jose Contreras, SP, Chicago (AL); Released Colby Rasmus, OF, Memphis Redbirds [5/21]
There's some playing with the margins on the pitching staff here that's somewhat notable, but as the team's already sporting Haren-Beckett-Shields at the top of the rotation, this is a lot of searching just for K's and relatively harmless innings, along with crossing of the fingers that Greg Smith doesn't implode the second time around the league.

What's really notable is that our resident Cardinal guru has cut bait with Colby Rasmus, which speaks volumes as to either how much he's playing for win now or how badly Rasmus' stock has fallen in the minor leagues. (By contrast, if I were on the fringe of contention but had Fernando Martinez, I'd still hold on to him, out of fear of jinxing the already sucky Mets.) Curious to see if he gets picked up by someone else, because if the man who knows the team best doesn't want him, why should you? (El Angelo)

It's striking how few of the chosen prospects look like they'll make an impact this year (with the obvious exception of the lightning-struck Joey Votto), though I want to focus on another of the commish's moves. A brief word of praise for the signing of Baltimore's Daniel Cabrera is in order, as the big guy is a the very least on a nice run, and might have even finally turned the corner. With pitching upside in short supply at the moment, it's a nice move for the Bed Bath & Beyond-ers.

Feebly Related Brooklyn Bridge Fact: There is a Brooklyn in Baltimore as well, and it too is connected to the wider city by bridge, though the Baltimore version could politely be called the lesser known of the two Brooklyns. (Teddy)

54°40' or Fight!

  • Traded Paul Konerko, 1B, Chicago (AL) to The Fighting Isaiahs for Micah Owings, SP, Arizona [5/19]
  • Signed Aaron Laffey, SP, Cleveland; Waived Salomon Torres, RP, Milwaukee [5/19]
When you're competing for 2009, part of the exercise is to separate who will and won't help you for next year. Paul Konerko, while still useful, has about zero chance to be part of the next winning team from Chappaqua, hence dealing him for a pitcher with upside. I'm still fairly happy with the Aaron Laffey pickup, but can't fricking believe that Salomon Goddamn Torres became closer about an hour after I released him. Still, I can't see that lasting too long. He's bad. (El Angelo)

Micah Owings now becomes the second-best hitter on the roster; whether that speaks well for the trade or poorly for the team's last draft is left to the reader's sound judgment. (Teddy)

Feebly Related Brooklyn Bridge Fact: The bridge took some 13 years to build; by that clock, this franchise is well ahead of schedule. (Teddy)

Le Dupont Torkies
  • Signed Mike Gonzalez, Broken RP, Atlanta; Released David Riske, Sucky RP, Cleveland [5/14]
Wow. If you take a peek back at our last TA, you'll note that Teddy chastised Sir Tucker for picking up Riske and I quibbled with the discarding of Gonzalez. It appears the 2006 champ is for some reason, listening to our sage wisdom. I think this has to be good news for the rest of the league, right? (El Angelo)

Those who can, do; those who can't, TA. (Teddy)

The Spam Avengers
  • Signed Darrell Rasner, SP, New York (AL); Released Boof!, SP, Minnesota [5/20]
Rasner joins a fantasy rotation with Cliff Lee and Andrew Miller, giving the Spammers the monopoly on Stunningly Good Starting Pitchers. There's nothing wrong with losing Boof, and I guess there's nothing wrong with riding the Aaron Small of '08 train until the wheels come off or Joba Chamberlain officially hits the rotation. Though frankly, the way Kennedy and Hughes have pitched this year, Rasner may be the 3rd best starter for the Last Place Yankees. Man, it felt good to type that. (El Angelo)

I've expressed my opinion on premature Yankee burials in the past, so I'll let that slide. I guess a team could try to ride Rasner until the wheel come off, but he sure needs to be watched--there's nothing in his past performance to indicate that he can handle the stress of a permanent rotation slot.

Feebly Related Brooklyn Bridge Fact: Approximately 2/3 of the way through construction, it was realized that the steel cable used to hold the bridge up had been improperly manufactured. The cables had to be re-spun at great expense. Sound familiar, Cashman? (Teddy)

Decatur Commies
  • Signed Billy Butler, OF, Kansas City; Released Manny Parra, RP, Milwaukee [5/13]
  • Signed Masa Kobayashi, RP, Cleveland; Released Carlos Silva, SP, Seattle [5/15]
The damage line from the Carlos Silva Era: 10 innings, 12 earned runs, 21 baserunners, and a whopping 2 strikeouts. Not to say I told you so, but.... (El Angelo)

I officially have the Reverse Midas Touch with pitchers this year--whatever I touch turns to crap.

Feebly Related Brooklyn Bridge Fact: Carlos Silva should be hunted down with dogs and publicly flogged. Arguably this isn't even feebly related to the bridge, but I don't care. (Teddy)

It's Enrico Palazzo
  • Signed Jake Westbrook, SP, Cleveland [5/14]
  • Signed Milton Bradley, OF, Texas [5/16]
Keeping on the Springer theme of guys in Yankee trades, Jake Westbrook first became a Yankee along with Theodore Roosevelt Lilly in exchange for Fat Toad Irabu in '99, and was shipped off to Cleveland along with Ricky Ledee for David Justice in 2000. Personally, I find it amazing that Hideki was able to net 2 solid starters, albeit two guys that did nothing for the Yankees. However, it will no doubt warm the cockles of my co-author's heart to read that Westbrook first arrived on the 'Spos in exchange for....Mike Lansing!

In terms of relevancy to the Defending Champs, I presume he's only there to join John Smoltz and Jake Peavy on the DL, just so it's 3 guys with first names starting with "J". Because if he's a cog in the contending wheel, you're not repeating. (El Angelo)

The DL stash is an old and valued move in the league, so points to the champs for assembling what is undoubtedly the league's most impressive roster of broken people.

Feebly Related Brooklyn Bridge Fact: While it's not known how many people were DL'd as a result of the bridge's construction, 27 people shuffled off to the Thurman Munson Memorial Dead Zone as a result of construction injuries. (Teddy)

The Fighting Isaiahs
  • Signed Joey Devine, RP, Oakland; Released Santiago Casilla, RP, Oakland [5/16]
  • Trade Micah Owings, SP, Arizona to 54°40' or Fight! for Paul Konerko, 1B, Chicago (AL) [5/19]
  • Released Devine and Barry Bonds, OF, California Penal League; Signed Edgar Rentablowjob, SS, Detroit and Randy Wolf, SP, San Diego [5/21]
  • Released Wolf; Signed Armando Galarraga, SP, Detroit [5/22]
  • Released Galarraga; Signed Salomon Torres, RP, Milwaukee [5/23]
This team now has on their roster David Ortiz, Paul Konerko, Todd Helton and Nick Swisher. How are they not in last in steals? (El Angelo)

Never mind that: Barry Bonds just got cut! I know he's not in the bigs anymore, but that's a big milestone--I think he's one of only a few Original First Rounders to get cut. Hey, that's a fun
idea for a column some time this summer--whatever happened to the OFRs. Anybody have a complete list of who was taken? Lemme know in the comments. (Teddy)


El Angelo said...

I had that list somewhere, but can't find it now. Here's what I recall:

Angelo: Piazza
Tucker: A-Rod
Chad: Guerrero
Matty: Mariano
Val: Nommar

Somebody else I know took Alomar in the first round. That was funny. Off the top of my head I can't recall the others, but I know I have this around somewhere.

Anonymous said...

I had Ichiro, who stuck with my team for three years but I decided not to keep with Beltran, Oswalt and Gagne also on my roster at that point.

I may have the original draft list at home. I'll post tonight if I do.


Sahil said...

i had helton...hung around for 3 years, i think.

El Angelo said...

Disturbing snapshot of 6 years ago.

Scott (who?)....Roberto Alomar
Matty...........Mark Mulder (Mariano Rivera with the next pick)
Val.............Nomar Garciaparra
Teddy...........Vladimir Guerrero
Angelo..........Mike Piazza
Sahil...........Todd Helton
Tucker..........Alex Rodriguez
Dave............Pedro Martinez
Mike (who?).....Chipper f***ing Jones
Corey...........Randy Johnson
Andy............Sammy Sosa