the dump's sportslog - baseball analysis

National Baseball Day
Over at Athletics Nation, the idea of making the first day of baseball season a national holiday is fleshed out, and a speech is even prepared to make the announcement. I of course love the idea, but baseball is in too sorry of a state to be ready for it. Would National Baseball Day be Tuesday, March 30th when the Yankees and Devil Rays play in Japan at 5:05 in the morning? That is officially opening day, even if there Spring Training games after it takes place. Don't get me started on how ridiculous of a plan that is in the first place, but it complicates matters even more. Then after that is a Sunday night game - April 4th.

I guess the most obvious choice would be the next day. Monday, April 5th. However, a dozen teams don't even play that day, and its the day between Palm Sunday and Passover, when many people are off from work anyway. If baseball really got its act together and had every team playing that day, perhaps even double headers with lots of fanfare to kick off the season, it'd be a perfect day to get off work and come out. They should also do that the day after the NBA finals end and baseball is the only sport around.

The government has always extended a helping hand to baseball, and Bush is certainly a huge Baseball fan. A national holiday is only one thing it could get, and as Kos points out, all he'd really like is a baseball day present - like tickets or a hat? If baseball gets it's act together, it'd be a perfect way to start the season.


Billy Beane's winter-to-date (Oakland Athletics)
The notable moves made by the Oakland Athletics under Billy Beane since the end of the 2003 season. Please send any comments/omissions/questions/feedback here.

10/09/03 -
Claimed Marco Scutaro off waivers from the New York Mets.
Claimed Matt Watson off waivers from the New York Mets.
Designated John Halama for assignment.
Designated Mark Johnson for assignment.

    A couple of astute waiver wire pickups. Scutaro has been a major league ready player for awhile, and never got much of an opportunity in Queens, amassing just 111 at bats over two seasons. It's a shame, since the Mets continued to trot out the likes of Joe McEwing, who while a little more versatile defensively, is not the hitter Scutaro is. He should get a shot as the backup middle infielder in Oakland. Watson's a 25-year old minor league outfielder with a little pop, not a bad guy to have around just in case.

10/21/03 -
Declined option on Chris Singleton ($1.8 million for 2004, $200K buyout).

    A pretty obvious move. While the team had yet to address its outfield deficiencies, Singleton clearly wasn't the answer. He since signed on with the Pirates for awhile and then was just recently released for not passing his physical. I still can't believe he's not Ken Singleton's son.

11/18/03 -
Acquired Bobby Kielty from the Toronto Blue Jays. (with a player to be named later or cash for Ted Lilly)
Acquired a player to be named later (or cash) from the Toronto Blue Jays. (with Bobby Kielty for Ted Lilly)
Signed Eric Cammack to a minor league contract.
Traded Ted Lilly to the Toronto Blue Jays. (for Bobby Kielty and a player to be named later or cash)

    The first step in addressing the team's offensive woes and their getting worse with the impending departure of Miguel Tejada. Lilly's a real nice pitcher and a guy who is probably going to have pretty good success in Toronto behind Roy Halladay and bolstered by an excellent lineup. In Oakland however, he was clearly a back-of-the-rotation guy, and with the likes of Rich Harden, Justin Duchscherer and Joe Blanton coming along, very expendable. Kielty's the kind of guy the A's look for (good power, good eye) - we'll have to see just what he's able to accomplish in a full time role (his career high in at bats is 427). He'll be the team's starting left fielder. I don't think the player to be named (or cash) has been determined, but if I'm wrong on that, let me know.

11/19/03 -
Claimed Mario Ramos off waivers from the Texas Rangers.

    Ramos did some more bouncing around after being claimed by the A's - ultimately settling at AAA Sacramento and, for the moment, in the A's camp - the comment on him is at 02/07/04.

11/26/03 -
Acquired Mark Kotsay from the San Diego Padres. (for Ramon Hernandez and Terrence Long)
Traded Ramon Hernandez to the San Diego Padres. (with Terrence Long for Mark Kotsay)
Traded Terrence Long to the San Diego Padres. (with Ramon Hernandez for Mark Kotsay).

    Conceivably a win-win for both sides. The A's continued here to try to rebuild the outfield, and Kotsay's a step up from the likes of Terrence Long who they had out there in 2003. He's also suffered some debilitating injuries, and while I don't know much about them specifically, it doesn't sound as if he's out of the water in terms of dealing with them in the future. Either way, he's a very good centerfielder right now and can get on base...the question is really whether a) he can stay in the lineup and b) whether his power will return (he slugged just .384 in 2003). While moving Long is a straight dump of a pretty worthless and overpaid player, losing Ramon Hernandez is significant, particularly now that we know who he's being replaced by.

12/08/03 -
Declined to offer arbitration to Jose Guillen.
Declined to offer arbitration to Steve Sparks.
Offered arbitration to Keith Foulke.
Offered arbitration to Ricardo Rincon.
Offered arbitration to Miguel Tejada.

    Offering arbitration to Foulke (who they attempted to resign), Rincon (who they did) and Tejada (who left without much of a fight) was pretty straightforward. Guillen would almost certainly have made more than he's worth in arbitration, coming off what was easily the best season of his career thus far.

12/15/03 -
Acquired Michael Barrett from the Montreal Expos. (for a player to be named later)
Acquired Frank Brooks from the New York Mets. (for a player to be named later)
Traded Brett Price to the Montreal Expos. (for Michael Barrett)
Traded a player to be named later to the New York Mets. (for Frank Brooks)

    Brooks is a Rule V pick out of the Pirates' organization, and will have to stick in the majors all season for him to stick. Since the A's pulled this trick with Mike Neu a year ago, it seems possible that they can keep him on the roster, spot him in low-leverage situations, and keep him around. Michael Barrett would be an Athletic for just one day, moving along to the Cubs for Damian Miller on the 16th. Price is a 24-year old reliever with a nice strikeout rate who has pitched in the California League the past two seasons.

12/16/03 -
Acquired Damian Miller from the Chicago Cubs. (with $800,000 for Michael Barrett and a player to be named later)
Acquired Mark Redman from the Florida Marlins. (for Bill Murphy and Mike Neu)
Signed Ricardo Rincon to a two year, $3.65 million contract. (avoided arbitration)
Traded Michael Barrett to the Chicago Cubs. (with a player to be named later for Damian Miller and $800,000)
Traded Bill Murphy to the Florida Marlins. (with Mike Neu for Mark Redman)
Traded Mike Neu to the Florida Marlins. (with Bill Murphy for Mark Redman)

    So the catcher in Oakland won't be Ramon Hernandez, won't be Michael Barrett, it'll be...Damian Miller. At his peak, Miller was a passable starting catcher, but if his 2003 numbers (.233/.310/.369) are any indication, those days may have passed.

12/18/03 -
Acquired Chris Hammond from the New York Yankees. (with cash for Edwardo Sierra and J.T. Stotts)
Traded Edwardo Sierra to the New York Yankees. (with J.T. Stotts for Chris Hammond and cash)
Traded J.T. Stotts to the New York Yankees. (with Edwardo Sierra for Chris Hammond and cash)

    At this point, Arthur Rhodes wasn't yet signed, and Ricardo Rincon was the only lefty in the bullpen. I read in more than a few places that if Foulke left, Beane would make Rincon the "closer", let him rack up some nice save totals, and move him along. Of course, with the addition of Rhodes, Hammond slides in as just a valuable member of a good bullpen - he was pretty much useless in New York with the additions of Tom Gordon and Paul Quantrill.

12/20/03 -
Declined to offer a 2004 contract to Jeremy Fikac.
Declined to offer a 2004 contract to Frank Menechino.
Declined to offer a 2004 contract to Mark Redman.
Signed Erubiel Durazo to a one year, $2.1 million contract. (avoided arbitration)

    Very reasonable contract for a player like Durazo. Menechino and Redman would both be resigned.

12/21/03 -
Signed Billy McMillon to a one year contract.
Signed Mark Redman to a three year, $11 million contract.

    I'm an unabashed Mark Redman lover, but this seems like a lot. Considering the way the A's have been able to churn out pitchers in recent years, you'd have to believe you'd be able to fill the #5 hole in the rotation (with Harden sliding up to #4) more cheaply than this without sacrificing much effectiveness. That said, Redman should be adequate rotation filler for the life of this contract, whether he's in Oakland or moved elsewhere. McMillon's a nice reserve and bat off the bench.

12/22/03 -
Signed Arthur Rhodes to a three year, $9.2 million contract.

    He's getting up there in years (34 in 2004, 36 by the time this contract expires), but it seems short relievers don't have quite the same decline automatically associated with aging as some of their starting counterparts. Rhodes is coming off a down year, but he's been pretty reliable and effective over the last eight years or so, and especially in two of the last three. I wonder if he'll play all three years in Oakland. He's the nominal closer heading into the season.

01/06/04 -
Designated Jose Flores for assignment.
Invited Joe Blanton to spring training.
Invited Jose Flores to spring training.
Invited Mike Rose to spring training.
Invited Brian Sellier to spring training.
Invited Nick Swisher to spring training.
Outrighted Jose Flores to AAA Sacramento.
Signed Eric Cammack to a minor league contract.
Signed Ramon Castro to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
Signed Wayne Gomes to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
Signed Frank Menechino to a one year, $400,000 contract.

    Blanton and Swisher are both relatively famous, prominent characters in Michael Lewis's Moneyball. None of these guys (with the exception of Menechino, who's got a guaranteed contract) has much of a shot of breaking camp with the team, but Blanton could conceivably be with the team before long. Wayne Gomes is a really nice guy.

01/08/04 -
Invited Brad Sullivan to spring training.
Signed Lou Pote to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.

    Sullivan was a 2003 first round pick, a good looking pitcher out of the University of Houston. There are a few guys waiting for cracks at the rotation ahead of him, but it'll be fun to watch him in camp. Pote was out of the major leagues in 2003, but has had success over the course of his four year career. He'll compete for a spot in the bullpen.

01/12/04 -
Signed Britt Reames to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.

    That 2000 season in St. Louis seems like a long time ago. He'll be 31 later this season and has done nothing during his time in Montreal to convince anyone he's worth anything more than this. Not a good bet to see much time in Oakland.

02/02/04 -
Designated Mario Ramos for assignment.
Signed Eric Karros to a one year, $1.05 million contract with a club option for 2005 ($1.5 million, $500K buyout).

    Karros at this price will help the A's, as his role will almost certainly be confined to crushing left-handed pitching, which he does awfully well. He'll fill the first base and DH spots with Scott Hatteberg and Erubiel Durazo in 2004. Graham Koonce will continue to sit around in the minors.

02/07/04 -
Invited Mario Ramos to spring training.
Outrighted Mario Ramos to AAA Sacramento.

    Ramos's time may well have come and gone...there are younger pitchers on the horizon in the organization now with higher ceilings, so Oakland may not be the place for him to succeed. All he took to acquire was a waiver claim though, and there's nothing wrong (from an organizational standpoint) in stockpiling talent. Ramos could probably start some places around the majors, but certainly not in Oakland.

02/09/04 -
Signed Steve Woodard to a minor league contract.

    At one time a pretty reasonable innings eater, it's hard to see Woodard doing much in this organization with the pitching depth on hand.

02/13/04 -
Signed Chad Bradford to a one year, $965,000 contract. (avoided arbitration)

    A favorite of many due to his insane-looking, dirt-scraping motion, Bradford's a an absolute steal at under a million bucks. If he continues to pitch as effectively as he has - well, his entire career - he's going to make a lot more before too long.

02/20/04 -
Named David Forst assistant general manager.
Named Billy Owens director of player personnel.

    Forst and Owens are the two guys who were promoted when assistant GM Paul DePodesta jumped ship to become GM with the Dodgers.

Beane and company (the entire front office was intact for most of the offseason) made some interesting moves and have changed the look of the team heading into 2004. Obviously, success or failure relies largely on the health and effectiveness of the awesome rotation, which now consists of Hudson, Zito, Mulder, Redman and Harden. While they don't have Miguel Tejada any more, the outfield should be improved, though a lot will rely on a return to form by both Mark Kotsay and Jermaine Dye. As with most teams these days, there are a number of committed and knowledgable A's-focused bloggers out there, including Elephants in Oakland and Athletics Nation. They know an awful lot more about the team than we do, and we encourage you to seek more information at their sites.


Bill Bavasi's winter-to-date (Seattle Mariners)
The notable moves made by the Seattle Mariners under Bill Bavasi since he was hired on 11/07/03. Please send any comments/omissions/questions/feedback here.

11/19/03 -
Signed Raul Ibanez to a three year, $13.25 million contract.

    As the first move in his tenure as GM, Bavasi chose to sign Raul Ibanez to be his starting left fielder - effectively giving up on either Randy Winn (see 12/11/03) or Mike Cameron, who would sign with the Mets in December. Ibanez has been a pleasant surprise in Kansas City the last three years, but this contract keeps him in Seattle through his 32-34 year old seasons - his peak has likely passed. And he moves from an excellent hitting environment at Kauffman Stadium to a decidely tough environment in which to hit in Safeco Field, while also hurting the outfield defense as a whole by replacing Cameron with Ibanez and shifting Winn to center.

12/07/03 -
Offered salary arbitration to Pat Borders.
Signed Shigetoshi Hasegawa to a two year, $6.3 million contract.

    Hasegawa's turning 36 in August, and age is bound to kick in eventually...but there's no getting around the fact that he was terrific in 2003 and has been real good since arriving in Seattle. $3 million plus per year over two years seems pretty reasonable, even if he regresses a bit and ends up somewhere between his 2002 and 2003 seasons. I really don't know what to say about Pat Borders. He's supposedly retiring (though, as you'll see, he's back at spring training this year) why offer arbitration? I have no idea.

12/09/03 -
Signed Eddie Guardado to a three year, $13 million contract. (club/player options for 2005 and 2006, $13 million guaranteed)

    This is really a one year deal with both player and club options...either way, he's guaranteed $13 million and has incentives that could make it worth $17 million. Guardado's a nice pitcher, very durable and reasonably effective, but this is a lot of money for 65 innings a season, especially if the team isn't a contender.

12/11/03 -
Signed Ryan Franklin to a two year, $4.1 million contract.
Signed Randy Winn to a three year, $11 million contract. (mutual option for 2006, $11 million total guaranteed)
    Like the rest of the rotation, Franklin was quite good in 2003, pitching 212 very solid innings. He's coming off basically three solid years in the majors and is old enough (31 this season) that injuries really shouldn't be a big concern. $2 million per for the kind of work he's done thus far is a steal, he's not great, but almost every team could use a Ryan Franklin. Winn was resigned for significantly more money and effectively booted Mike Cameron out the door (he would sign a week later with the Mets). He's nowhere near the centerfielder that Cameron is (offensively or defensively), but his offensive contributions will look significantly better in center than they did in left (he hit .295/.346/.425 last year).

12/14/03 -
Signed Carlos Guillen to a one year, $2.5 million contract.
    Just retained Guillen here, he was nearly traded to Cleveland for Omar Vizquel and finally was off to Detroit within a month.

12/15/03 -
Acquired Chris Buglovsky from the Colorado Rockies. (for Allan Simpson)
Acquired Quinton McCracken from the Arizona Diamondbacks. (for Greg Colbrunn)
Traded Greg Colbrunn to the Arizona Diamondbacks. (for Quinton McCracken)
Traded Allan Simpson to the Colorado Rockies. (for Chris Buglovsky)

    Colbrunn is a lefty masher who can play first base - not a guy you'd want in there everyday, but certainly a productive player if he's spotted correctly. Trading him for Quinton McCracken, who will probably be the fourth outfielder on this team and flat out stunk in 2003, is simply idiotic. I know nothing of Buglovsky other than that he was a passable, 24-year old starter at AA Tulsa last year. Simpson's a 26-year old AAA reliever.

12/17/03 -
Signed Scott Spiezio to a three year, $9.15 million contract with a club option for 2007 ($3.25 million, $250K buyout).

    Signed to be the new third baseman, filling the hole left by the spectacularly disappointing and already on his way out Jeff Cirillo. Spiezio's never impressed me - he's been a pretty average/lousy hitter for a first baseman, not providing near the power you'd like from that spot. As a third baseman, his offensive contributions are a little more valuable, and but you're going to have to live with .265/.330/.450 from him, and for $3 million a season, it's a waste of resources. Expecting any more than than a place holder until someone else is ready would be foolish.

12/18/03 -
Signed Ichiro Suzuki to a four year, $44 million contract extension.

    I know Suzuki's been a very productive player, and I know he had the organization over a barrel, threatening to walk if he didn't have a new, long-term deal heading into the 2004 season. But this still seems a bit excessive. I'm sure he brings in a lot of money through merchandising and Japanese interest, but this is a lot of money and a lengthy commitment to a guy who relies so much on his speed and whose walk rate took such a precipitous decline last year (from 68 in 647 at bats in 2002 to 36 in 679 at bats in 2003). I think this might look bad in a few years.

12/20/03 -
Signed Freddy Garcia to a one year, $6.875 million contract.

    The team supposedly looked into trading him, considered non-tendering him, and then decided to resign him to a one year contract for a pretty sizable sum. The team isn't relying on him as its ace, and has here a pitcher who was damn good as recently as two years ago and is still young enough (28) to turn it around. It's a lot of money (money that could've gone into pursuing guys like Vladimir Guerrero or retaining Mike Cameron), but the Mariners could do worse than taking one more shot with Garcia. Given that the trade market was so unappealing for him over the course of the offseason and that the Mariners don't have as good a team as they have the past few years, maybe he can increase his stock with some good work over the first couple months and the team can ship him elsewhere and move forward. We'll see.

01/05/04 -
Acquired Vince Faison from the San Diego Padres. (with Kevin Jarvis, Wiki Gonzalez and Dave Hansen for Jeff Cirillo, Brian Sweeney and $4.775 million)
Acquired Wiki Gonzalez from the San Diego Padres. (with Kevin Jarvis, Dave Hansen and Vince Faison for Jeff Cirillo, Brian Sweeney and $4.775 million)
Acquired Dave Hansen from the San Diego Padres. (with Kevin Jarvis, Wiki Gonzalez and Vince Faison for Jeff Cirillo, Brian Sweeney and $4.775 million)
Acquired Kevin Jarvis from the San Diego Padres. (with Wiki Gonzalez, Dave Hansen and Vince Faison for Jeff Cirillo, Brian Sweeney and $4.775 million)
Traded Jeff Cirillo to the San Diego Padres. (with Brian Sweeney and $4.775 million for Kevin Jarvis, Wiki Gonzalez, Dave Hansen and Vince Faison)
Traded Brian Sweeney to the San Diego Padres. (with Jeff Cirillo and $4.775 million for Kevin Jarvis, Wiki Gonzalez, Dave Hansen and Vince Faison)

    They really wanted to get rid of Cirillo, and they did - unfortunately, I'm not sure they got much back they'll be able to use. The best player coming from San Diego in this trade is probably Dave Hansen, who can pinch hit, get on base and play first or third in a jam. Wiki Gonzalez is a passable backup catcher, but the team's already got two of those in Dan Wilson and Ben Davis. Kevin Jarvis is okay, but he's overpaid (due $4.25 million this year) and not likely to see a whole lot of meaningful work. Vince Faison is a former first rounder (in 1999) who hasn't done much in the San Diego system. Ultimately, this is a transparent dump of Cirillo (who deserves to be dumped, he's been terrible) and not much more.

01/08/04 -
Acquired Juan Gonzalez from the Detroit Tigers. (with Ramon Santiago for Carlos Guillen)
Acquired Ramon Santiago from the Detroit Tigers. (with Juan Gonzalez for Carlos Guillen)
Signed Rich Aurilia to a one year, $3.5 million contract.
Traded Carlos Guillen to the Detroit Tigers. (for Ramon Santiago and Juan Gonzalez)

    With the signings of Spiezio to man third and now Aurilia, Guillen became expendable and was moved to Detroit for not much. If you remember, Guillen was nearly traded earlier in the offseason to Cleveland for Omar Vizquel, and I guess this is a little better than that would've been. Aurilia's reputation as a good hitter is based on one year (2001, when he hit .324/.369/.572)...the rest of his career has been pretty average. $3.5 million doesn't seem like a ton for average production from short, but all these contracts add up...ultimately, you'd think the money being spent on the likes of Aurilia, Garcia, Suzuki, etc. could've been spent bringing in a big free agent. But no. Santiago is still young, but he was terrible in regular duty last season in Detroit. I have no idea who this Juan Gonzalez, supposedly a shortstop, is.

01/09/04 -
Designated Ryan Anderson for assignment.

01/13/04 -
Outrighted Ryan Anderson to AAA Tacoma.

01/16/04 -
Invited Craig Anderson to spring training.
Invited Travis Blackley to spring training.
Invited Shin-Soo Choo to spring training.
Invited Adam Jones to spring training.
Invited Jose Lopez to spring training.
Invited Mickey Lopez to spring training.
Invited Luis Oliveros to spring training.
Invited Rene Rivera to spring training.
Invited Randy Williams to spring training.
Invited A.J. Zapp to spring training.
Signed Hiram Bocachica to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
Signed Pat Borders to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
Signed Bucky Jacobsen to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
Signed Mike Myers to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
Signed Jose Nunez to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
Signed George Sherrill to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.

    Several interesting players here. A few legitimate prospects in Blackley, Choo, Jose Lopez and Rene Rivera, some borderline guys in Adam Jones and George Sherrill and some who actually have a shot at making the big league roster out of camp in Bocachica and Mike Myers.

01/19/04 -
Signed Joel Pineiro to a three year, $14.5 million contract. (avoided arbitration)

    Pineiro's a terrific pitcher and a joy to watch, so this seems awfully reasonable. He and Jamie Moyer should be 1-2 (in some order) in 2004.

01/20/04 -
Signed Gil Meche to a one year, $1.95 million contract. (avoided arbitration)

    While nobody knows exactly what they're going to get with Meche (whether he'll fufill his once-great promise or not), he was effective and healthy last season, and $2 million is probably a reasonable gamble. If he can make 30 starts again (he made 32 last year, easily a career high), he's certainly worth it.

01/27/04 -
Released Kazuhiro Sasaki. (Sasaki returned to his native Japan.)

    I don't know what options the Mariners had here...Sasaki wanted to go home, so that's it. He had a nice three year run.

01/29/04 -
Signed Yung-Chi Chen to a minor league contract.

02/09/04 -
Signed Mike Colangelo to a minor league contract.
Signed Ron Villone to a one year, $1 million contract.

    As awesome as his name is, Colangelo's not likely to have much impact - after all, he's got the likes of Quinton McCracken, Hiram Bocachica and (if you look ahead to tomorrow) Eric Owens to contend with! Villone for a million bucks isn't terrible, he'll likely operate as a swingman, making spot starts and pitching in long relief.

02/10/04 -
Signed Terry Mulholland to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
Signed Eric Owens to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.

    While both these guys probably have a chance to stick, I'd take Owens over Mulholland if I had to pick, simply because Mulholland's role is filled a couple of times already and he's without a guaranteed contract. Having lefties around really isn't an issue...they've got Guardado, Mike Myers (if they choose to keep him around) and Ron Villone. Basically, Villone and Kevin Jarvis are guys I would imagine operating as long men/spot starters, and Mulholland would likely do the same. He's also already 41, so he's got something to prove in camp. Owens is a lousy fourth outfielder, but is likely to get a shot at getting on the roster as a reserve along with McCracken, just due to the lack of other options.

As you can hopefully see from these comments, I'm not terribly impressed with Bavasi's work in his first few months on the job, and I think this team will be considerably worse than it was last year (when they went 93-69). If you're a subscriber, Baseball Prospectus's Jonah Keri recently did a two part interview with Bavasi in which he explains the rationale behind some of his moves. It's a good read, so if you're a subscriber and for some reason haven't read it yet, take a look. Finally, there are many great devoted Mariners fans and writers out there that know way, way more about their team than we do, so we encourage you to check them out. U.S.S. Mariner is my favorite, but there are many more linked through their site.


Allard Baird's winter-to-date (Kansas City Royals)
The notable moves made by the Kansas City Royals since the end of the 2003 season. Please send me any comments/omissions/questions here.

10/29/03 -
Declined option on Brent Mayne ($3 million for 2004, $250K buyout).

    A no-brainer. Mayne's been stinking on wheat for each of the last three years (.245/.307/.344 in 2003), and spending $3 million on him would've been akin to flushing it down the toilet. Gone to the Diamondbacks, where he'll be a bad backup catcher again.

10/31/03 -
Signed Joe Dawley to a one year, $300,000 contract.
Signed manager Tony Pena to a two year contract extension through 2006.

    There aren't going to be comments for every one of these, but the extension of Tony Pena is probably worth commenting on. It's awfully tough to quantify managerial contributions, so what've we got to go on aside from record relative to talent on hand? Pena's Royals were pretty damn good in 2003, and it's hard to find a good reason to be against keeping him around a little while longer. I don't have financial terms on the extension, but I assume it's nothing ridiculous. I doubt Dawley's much more than minor league filler at this point (he's old and has very limited and crappy major league experience), he obviously isn't costing much - and who knows?

11/06/03 -
Invited Brent Abernathy to spring training.
Invited Brandon Berger to spring training.
Invited Shawn Camp to spring training.
Invited Shane Costa to spring training.
Invited Gookie Dawkins to spring training.
Invited Zack Greinke to spring training.
Invited Mitch Maier to spring training.
Invited Calvin Pickering to spring training.
Invited Dennys Reyes to spring training.
Invited Eric Thompson to spring training.
Invited Mike Venafro to spring training.

    A few interesting names here, and some that you almost certainly know in Zack Greinke (one of the premier pitching prospects in baseball) and Mitch Maier (one of the team's first round picks in 2003, a young catcher). You've then got guys with major league experience like Gookie Dawkins, Mike Venafro and Dennys Reyes and a reasonable prospect in Shane Costa (2003 second rounder). I don't know how good a shot any of these guys have at breaking camp with the team, but the young guys (particularly Greinke) will certainly be able to make an impression. Calvin Pickering will be a guy to watch as well.

11/13/03 -
Released Brent Abernathy.

    That was quick.

11/21/03 -
Signed Kevin Appier to a one year, $300,000 contract.

    The Angels are still paying him through the nose (they released him last year), so the Royals could pick up an old, mediocre pitcher on the cheap. Because the starters aren't great right now, he'll probably open the season somewhere in the back end of the rotation.

11/26/03 -
Signed Brian Anderson to a two year, $6.5 million contract.
Signed Curtis Leskanic to a one year, $1.375 million contract with a club option for 2005 ($1.25 million, $125K buyout).
Signed Joe Randa to a one year, $3.75 million contract.

    Seems like a lot in this market for Joe Randa, but I guess third basemen are hard to come by these days, and he's not terrible. There aren't any ready major league options within the system, and it's only for a year. The other two contracts seem perfectly reasonable, Leskanic will be an important part of the bullpen (he had a nice 2003) and Anderson slots in over his head as the #1 starter.

12/06/03 -
Signed Donnie Bridges to a minor league contract.

12/07/03 -
Signed Jason Grimsley to a one year, $1 million contract.

    One of a ton of one year, $1 million contracts signed this offseason, Grimsley'll be a part of the bullpen again. He hasn't been good since 2001, but I don't know that the Royals are awash in better options.

12/08/03 -
Declined arbitration to Mike DiFelice.
Declined arbitration to Al Levine.
Declined arbitration to Jose Lima.
Declined arbitration to Graeme Lloyd.
Declined arbitration to Brent Mayne.
Declined arbitration to Tom Prince.
Declined arbitration to Rondell White.
Declined arbitration to Jamey Wright.
Offered arbitration to Michael Tucker.

    Pretty easy decisions all the way around. I don't know why you'd offer arbitration to Michael Tucker, but the Giants took care of that - no harm done.

12/09/03 -
Signed Matt Stairs to a one year, $1 million contract.
Signed Scott Sullivan to a two year, $5 million contract with a club option for 2006 ($2.75 million, $300K buyout).

    Stairs can still hit and will play some left and DH. Hauling him in for a million bucks seems like a pretty good move to me. I've read about Sullivan being something of an injury and ineffectiveness risk, but he had a fine 2003 and can be an asset to a bullpen, pitching a lot of innings (relatively, out of the pen) and doing a good job with them. $2.5 million per seems alright.

12/11/03 -
Signed Benito Santiago to a two year, $4.3 million contract.

    He's ancient, but is a major upgrade over the garbage the Royals have trotted out there in recent years. If he's able to replicate his .279/.329/.424 of a year ago (or something like that), he'll help the team. That said, he's far from a long term solution at catcher, but I guess Mitch Maier is on his way.

12/14/03 -
Signed Tony Graffanino to a two year, $2.2 million contract.

    Awfully versatile and relatively cheap. He'll be the backup at second, third and short and do an adequate job at the a Yankee fan, I'd certainly like to have him around.

12/15/03 -
Acquired Rule V pick Rich Thompson from the San Diego Padres. (for Rule V pick Jason Szuminski and cash)
Selected Jason Szuminski from the Chicago Cubs in the Rule V Draft (1st round, 10th overall).
Traded Rule V pick Jason Szuminski and cash to the San Diego Padres. (for Rule V pick Rich Thompson)

    I have no idea whether or not Thompson will stick. I've heard good things about Szuminski, and have no clue why these Rule V Draft day swaps occur.

12/18/03 -
Signed Kelly Stinnett to a one year, $500,000 contract.

    Adequate backup catcher, I don't know what else there is to say. The Royals have drastically improved the catching corps from 2003 (Brent Mayne and Mike DiFelice), and in Santiago and Stinnett, have done so at a reasonable cost.

12/20/03 -
Declined to offer a 2004 contract to Kris Wilson.

12/22/03 -
Signed Mendy Lopez to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
Signed Kris Wilson to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.

    Not offered arbitration because his salary would've been more than the team wanted to pay, it's conceivable that Wilson could be a part of the Royals staff in 2004. He's been pretty crappy through the first 235 innings of his major league career (11.1 hits per 9 innings, 5.32 ERA, 49 homers allowed) but the rotation is pretty weak right now, so a good spring and his versatily (can start or relieve) might allow him to contribute. He's only 27, so maybe there's still something there.

01/06/04 -
Invited Ruben Gotay to spring training.
Invited Donald Murphy to spring training.
Signed Adrian Brown to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
Signed Juan Gonzalez to a one year, $4.5 million contract with a mutual option for 2005 ($7 million).
Signed Wilton Guerrero to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
Signed Erik Hiljus to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
Signed Jimmy Serrano to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
Signed Rick Short to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
Signed Les Walrond to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.

    Murphy and Gotay are pretty decent prospects, but neither is going to impact the Opening Day roster. We're all familiar with the good and bad Gonzalez brings to the table: he's a very talented hitter, but he's moody, frequently injured, and something of a liability in the field. That said, the Royals alternative in right field was probably going to be either Matt Stairs (as an everyday guy, he should still play a lot), Dee Brown, Brandon Berger or maybe, with some shuffling, David DeJesus (which wouldn't have been bad). In any case, this is only for a year...and he's a legitimately productive bat when healthy. He certainly bolsters the middle of the Royal lineup.

01/20/04 -
Signed Carlos Beltran to a one year, $9 million contract. (avoided arbitration)

    You'd certainly like to get him locked up with a long term deal, but Beltran at $9 million is pretty reasonable.

01/23/04 -
Signed Darrell May to a two year, $4.95 million contract. (avoided arbitration)

    The Royals and their shaky staff are depending on May replicating his 2003 success, having pitched 210 fine innings last season. Of course, he's nearly 32 and has had exactly one really good season, so I think it's safe to say that the Royals are playing with fire going with Anderson and May at the top of their rotation, even in the AL Central. $2.5 million bucks a year is far from breaking the bank though, and May's a decent bet to be productive and useful enough to be worth it.

01/26/04 -
Acquired Jaime Cerda from the New York Mets. (for Shawn Sedlacek)
Traded Shawn Sedlacek to the New York Mets. (for Jaime Cerda)

    There's probably some reasoning for this move from the Mets' perspective, but I don't see it. Cerda's had some major league success, is several years younger than Sedlacek, and can actually pitch. Cerda may have a role this year in the Royal bullpen, and will undoubtedly be the more valuable player going forward.

02/06/04 -
Invited Alan Moye to spring training.
Signed Doug Linton to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.

02/13/04 -
Signed Rudy Seanez to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.

    As best I can see it, the Royal bullpen has a few guys who will definitely be there: Mike MacDougal, Curt Leskanic, Scott Sullivan and Jason Grimsley. I suppose D.J. Carrasco is in there too, which leaves us without a lefty, assuming Jeremy Affeldt is going to be in the rotation. This should give some hope to guys like Dennys Reyes and Jaime Cerda - while discouraging the likes of Seanez and Linton. Sure, Seanez can and has been effective, but he's coming off two poor years and trying to break into a bullpen that doesn't seem to have a need for him. Linton has pitched nine major league innings (last year in Toronto) since 1999, and while he was good, it's hard to see him slotting in above those other guys. I suppose there's not much harm in taking a look at camp though.

02/17/04 -
Invited Chip Alley to spring training.
Invited Tony Arnerich to spring training.
Invited Scott Walter to spring training.

    Nothing of note here. Tony Arnerich is exactly three years older than me.

02/22/04 -
Signed Greg Swindell to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.

    Swindell's had a pretty nice career, with success as both a starter early in his career in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Houston and as a reliever over the last decade. However, he didn't pitch well at the end of his run with the Diamondbacks, didn't pitch at all last year, and is 39. He's a lefty, and maybe there's a spot for him somewhere, but he'll have to prove his worth this spring.


GM offseason recaps
Over the course of the next month or so, I'm going to attempt to crudely recap the winters of each of the 29 GMs in the league who have been in place for most of the offseason (Dodgers GM Paul DePodesta hasn't had a chance to do much yet).

This blog is written by two college students with no qualifications. We've done a lot of reading about the game, we've watched a lot of games, and we've developed strong opinions over the course of 21 years, but we're a long, long way from experts. I'm sure I don't need to point that out. Because this isn't my job, there are an awful lot of things I don't know...and that includes some of the roster movement rules as well as some of the more obscure players involved in various transactions. Naturally, I do the best I can in terms of acquiring what knowledge and information I can before I put anything out there for public consumption, but I'm fallible.

I've spent a little while during this hiatus (our last post was 2/24) putting together a list of the transactions made by each GM during this offseason (for a number of reasons), and hope to present them in this space with comments. This certainly isn't meant as anything more than a one stop glance at how teams have changed, but I hope it'll prove useful or at least interesting to you.

There are many minor moves (like shuffling players or management around within an organization) that I've chosen to omit here. If I'm missing anything major, please let me know. My focus going into this was to look at who's coming into and out of each organization, and who's being retained. Spring training invites are also included, as well as a few other things. But you'll see. Obviously, the offseason isn't over, so I hope to update these as we go.

Without much further ado, I'm going to present this in GM alphabetical order, starting later this afternoon with Allard Baird of the Kansas City Royals. Please get back to me with any questions and/or comments, good or bad. Hope you find it useful.