Tuesday, December 8, 2009

More Reaction To The Granderson Trade

As the opinions pour in on today's three team trade, the Diamondbacks are getting universally branded as the deal's big loser. Here's another opinion that's much the same.

In case you didn't hear earlier, longtime ESPN baseball analyst Peter Gammons will be leaving the network following the Winter Meetings (more on this later). As such, ESPN is already holding auditions for Gammons' replacement. First up is current ESPN NFL analyst Mark Schlereth. Fack Youk has received an exclusive transcript:

"Look. This is a BAD TRADE for the Arizona Diamondbacks. You DO NOT succeed in MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL without a bona fide left handed reliever in your bullpen. If I'm Josh Byrnes, I have to go out and GET MYSELF another LEFT HANDED relief specialist to replace MY SON Daniel Schlereth and his EIGHTEEN innings of relief work this year.

This kid is a BASEBALL PLAYER. And he throws STRAIGHT GAS. This kid goes out and BLOWS BATTERS AWAY. Look, the Diamondbacks finished LAST in the NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST last year, and they're not going to get any better by going out and trading young FIREBALLING FLAME THROWERS!

Schlereth is a hard hat, lunch pail kind of guy who is gonna go out and PUNCH BATTERS IN THE MOUTH when THE GAME IS ON THE LINE!"

Thanks Mark; we appreciate your insight. Don't quit your day job.

Speaking of day jobs I've been absolutely inundated at the office today. And it's hard to get any work done when Google Reader is handing 15 new "rumors" every five minutes. I'll be back later tonight with more thoughts on the Granderson deal.

(Photo courtesy of The Sports Hernia)

What's Being Said About The Granderson Trade

Since the trade is seemingly official, it's time to round up some reactions for the deal that saw the Yankees give up Austin Jackson, Ian Kennedy and Phil Coke, the Diamondbacks surrender Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth and the Tigers deal Edwin Jackson and Curtis Granderson. MLBTR weighs in with the salary implications and when the dust settles, here's where they all end up:
  • Yankees get Granderson
  • Diamondbacks get Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy
  • Tigers get Austin Jackson, Max Scherzer, Phil Coke and Daniel Schlereth
It's sad to see Austin Jackson go but I don't think we are going to miss Ian Kennedy or Phil Coke all that much. Kennedy was not likely to start for the Yanks anytime soon and Coke - although he was solid for long stretches - was victimized by his high HR rate.

Granderson is not without his flaws, namely abysmal production against LHP, but he's relatively inexpensive for a player of his caliber. I would personally love to see Granderson play LF in the Bronx. Teams like the Rays and Mariners have stashed players capable of playing CF at corner OF positions (Carl Crawford, Ichiro) and seen good results, but most of the talk has assumed Granderson will be playing CF. For what it's worth, UZR hasn't thought very highly of his defense in CF over the past two years and the Yankees have a serviceable duo in CF already. Should Granderson want to take over that slot, it may require further maneuvering.

Now for some other reactions...

Dave Cameron absolutely loves the deal for the Yankees:
From the Yankees perspective, this deal is almost too good to be true. Heading into his age 29 season, Granderson is a legitimate +4 win center fielder signed to a bargain contract for the next four years. I ranked him as the 22nd most valuable asset in terms of trade value in baseball over the summer, and the Yankees are getting him for a variety pack of role players. He instantly makes their team better, giving them a legitimate all-star center fielder who should thrive in Yankee Stadium. For as much as the Yankees have a payroll advantage, they continue to win because Brian Cashman targets the right players. Granderson is a fantastic acquisition for them.
Matthew Pouliot from Circling the Bases agrees that they made out well.
Granderson's defense has slipped a bit and it looks like he'll always be a liability against lefties, but he still brings quite a bit to the table and he should put up some big numbers in center field for the Yankees. His contract is also manageable, as he's due $5.5 million next year, $8.25 million in 2011, $10 million in 2012 and then $13 million or a $2 million buyout in 2013.

Perhaps the Yankees should have just signed Mike Cameron instead, but the price for Granderson was right. Austin Jackson was the only piece they gave up likely to play a big role going forward.
Joel Sherman analyzes the loss of Austin Jackson:
The tough player for the Yankees to lose in this swap was Austin Jackson. In recent years, the Yankees have protected Jackson when, for example, the Nationals asked for him in July 2006 for Alfonso Soriano and Seattle asked for him last July for Jarrod Washburn.

But the reality is, if Jackson maximizes his talent, he probably would be just a cost-efficient version of Granderson.
Greg Fertel at Pending Pinstripes thinks a rebound is likely for Granderson:
Curtis Granderson had somewhat of a down year in 2009, posting a wOBA of .340 compared to his career mark of .358, but he plays a good center field and should be able to rebound. The short porch in left field should allow him to improve his power numbers and a rebound on batted balls in play should make his overall hitting like look quite a bit better.

In 2009, he hit only .276 on balls in play. Due to his speed, he has been able to maintain an above average mark of .323 for his career. Even though he hit markedly more fly balls in '09, it is unlikely that he posts a BABIP as low as .276 in the upcoming seasons.
More on this later, obviously.

When Twitter Is Too Much: The 2009 Winter Meetings

There are times when Twitter can be a useful tool - an advantageous manifestation of technology that can help people relay information where other forms of media can not keep up or go at all. And then there are situations like Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings where the frequency of communication far exceeds the amount of information and those fishing for the latest tidbits from Indianapolis are coming up with a lot of old boots.

Let's assume that the 2009 Winter Meetings ultimately produce the same amount of trades, signings and other types of announcements that this summit yielded in each of the past couple of years. Maybe slightly more or, if you read the first-person accounts from the first day this year, slightly less - but we'll call it even. Given this assumption, what function does Twitter serve?

It has become the central source for breaking news. Within that though, the sources are fragmented, with Joel Sherman, Ken Rosenthal, Jon Heyman, Tim Brown and Buster Onley leading the way, countless others at a second tier and the untamed masses below that hungry for any dispatch the above can provide. There is an inherent power structure and it gives reporters the ability to post news essentially as soon as they find it out.

Once that news item gets stuffed into 140 characters (and somewhat mangled in the process), it gets passed around infinitely faster. Tweets get re-tweeted and shortened and re-tweeted again, echoed and dissected, posted to blogs and commented on. So in the time that it used to take reports to file a blog post back in the old days - 10 or 15 minutes, say -that tidbit has already traversed Twitter, reaching far more people that it previously would have and is going to be up on MLBTR very shortly.

However, there isn't any more news than there has been in the past, remember? So much of the messages that get tumbled through that cycle above are half-truths, speculation or worst of all, intentional misinformation.

The instantaneous nature of the media also produces the typical results of a game of telephone as shown by our friend Joe at RAB yesterday. The originating source says one thing, and since each person who discusses the rumor feels the need to rephrase it so as to not to simply regurgitate what was already said, and things that were intentionally vague at first become more and more certain without regard to the actual probability of occurrence.

In a way, this is similar to the quest for intelligence in preventing terrorism. We don't know what we're looking for; we just assume that there are bits of information that need to be uncovered which will predict things that are going to happen. Giving every CIA agent the ability to continuously feed information back to headquarters isn't necessarily going to lead to better information, just more of it.

At the Winter Meetings, there isn't just the ability to feed information, there is the pressure to do outdo every other reporter there. So ultimately (at least on the baseball side of this analogy), we spend more time overreacting to things that were never going to happen than analyzing the things hat actually do.

Kevin Kaduk from Big League Stew did a good job of summing it up this morning:
Not to sound too crotchety here, but it used to be that reporters had an entire day before the next edition — or at least a few hours before the next blog post — to sift through all the B.S. and decide which passed muster and which didn't. The result would be a piece that would float a few possiblities that we'd be able to consume and mull over.

Now we have a conflicting wall of noise that's often hard to translate. Want to write a blog post that takes an analytical look at the pluses and minuses of a proposed deal from your local beat reporter? Want to chew it over with fellow message board posters? Better make it quick, because by the time you even write a title, there'll be 18 additional tweets that will make your item obsolete before you hit publish.
Ironically, I started brainstorming for this post yesterday afternoon, so even writing about Twitter is subject to this reality.

But I agree with 'Duk's larger point in that sometimes the quest for instantaneous information is actually detrimental, particularly when there is little in the way of actual news and an incredible amount of white noise to wade through. In this case, the hunger for information is leading to more of it, while the amount of worthwhile tidbits remains the same.

Obviously, the Twitter train is already roaring full speed ahead and it's going to take a while for this dynamic to change. Our buddy Jason suggested that reporters rate the validity of their rumors on a scale of 1-10, and that might work in a perfect world, but people aren't going to want to attach a number rating to a rumor that might get thrown back in their face eventually. If you read between the lines, they already hedge their bets by using non-definitive wording like "possibly" and saying that teams are "in talks".

My solution to this problem is to follow from a distance and at the risk of not being the first person to discuss possible deals, not waste time fretting over spurious rumors. Your mileage may vary, but I'll trade the continuous ups and downs of reeling in the line - whether it be for boots or lunkers - for the certainty of cutting into the fish once it's on my plate.

News And Notes From Day One

Good morning Fackers. My head is spinning already. If you didn't brave the murky rumor waters flowing from the Winter Meetings in Indianapolis yesterday, we've reduced the day's worth of rumors, lobbytalk, hearsay, near trades and actual transactions into bullet point form:
  • Early yesterday afternoon, there was a rumor that the Yankees were close to acquiring both Edwin Jackson and Curtis Granderson from Detroit. Joe at RAB did a nice job of debunking that one based on the dubious source and ambiguous wording, but a similar one popped up late last night. Ken Rosenthal reported that the Yankees, Diamondbacks and Tigers were trying to orchestrate a three way deal that would have sent Granderson to the Yankees along with a couple of prospects from Arizona, Ian Kennedy and Jackson to the D-Backs and Max Scherzer, Phil Coke, Michael Dunn to Detroit. However, Joel Sherman later reported that the talks were all but dead as both the Yanks and Tigers thought their prospect cost was too high. Although apparently, as of this morning, it still might be a possibility.

  • Mark Feinsand of The Daily News tweeted yesterday that the PTBNL in yesterday's Brian Bruney deal will be the Nats' top overall pick in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft. Unlike picks in the Amateur Draft, Rule 5 picks can be traded. That's how the Rangers landed Josh Hamilton two years ago. Still, as Greg Fertel at Pending Pinstripes noted yesterday, this is an uncommon move for the Yankees, as the nature of their roster doesn't easily allow them to carry a Rule 5 player all year. So perhaps they plan on flipping this pick elsewhere as part of another deal, or they may have someone specific in mind. Don't forget, the Yankees wanted to pick Joakim Soria three years ago but the Royals beat them to the punch. They'll have the pick of the litter this year.

  • Also from Feinsand, apparently the Yankees did not extend the rumored $10M offer to Andy Pettitte, and "they don't intend to lowball him".

  • The Yankees apparently got in contact with Kelvim Escobar's people who might pitch in Venezuela this Winter to show that he's healthy enough to pitch. Escobar has been very effective when healthy, notching a 3.60 ERA in his time in Anaheim over 658 innings but only threw 5 innings last year and didn't pitch at all in 2008 due to shoulder surgery. File him under the "high risk, high upside" group with Rich Harden, Eric Bedard, Ben Sheets and the like.

  • Marc Carig of The Star Ledger tweeted that the Yankees spoke to Mark DeRosa's representatives. As Ben at RAB pointed out last week, DeRosa could be a useful supersub if the Yanks choose to use a DH by committee next year. But Mike at RAB pointed out several potential red flags with DeRosa yesterday.

  • Cashman apparently also spoke to Jason Marquis' agents. Circling the Bases explains why this would be a bad idea.

  • Jorge Arangure tweets that Aroldis Chapman now may sign for $20M or less. That's a price that I'm more comfortable with than what was initially rumored, but still more than I'd want to see the Yankees commit to him.
Those are some of the loose ends from yesterday. I'm sure today will bring a whole host of new "news".