Twins Replace Cuddyer With Willingham

The Minnesota Twins finalized a 3 year, $21 million dollar deal with outfielder Josh Willingham today, meaning that the Michael Cuddyer era is all but over in Minnesota. The Twins offer to Willingham was roughly $3 million dollars cheaper overall than the offer the Twins submitted to Cuddyer. Cuddyer was the longest tenured Twin but baseball is a business and in the end Willingham was the cheaper (and better) option. During the past three season Willingham has actually been the better player as well as the more valuable player even though he has roughly 400 less at-bats since 2009.

Cuddyer:

ISO: .189

OBP: .341

wOBA: .351

wRC+: 117

WAR: 6.8

Willingham:

ISO: .222

OBP: .360

wOBA: .366

wRC+: 128

WAR: 7.7

As you can see, Willingham has the advantage in every one of these statistical categories. He has much more power than Cuddyer while getting on-base at an impressive .360 clip. According to park factors the Coliseum makes it 20% harder for right handed hitters to hit home runs compared to league average, making Willingham’s power numbers even more impressive last year. Willingham is also producing offensively 11% better than Cuddyer over that span. Both of them are ok defenders, slightly below league average but not much. If anything Cuddyer might have the stronger arm.

Willingham’s contract on the other hand is pretty team friendly. For $7 million dollars a year he needs to average less than 2 WAR, that shouldn’t be a problem given his past success. If he can average between 2.5 and 1.5 WAR during his contract he should be able to give the Twins roughly $28.14 million dollars in value. Moving from Oakland to Minnesota should be a big help in achieving that goal.

By not signing Cuddyer and signing Willingham the Twins also got two compensation picks when Cuddyer signed a 3 year deal with the Colorado Rockies. The Twins aren’t really in re-build mode but when you can get two picks you take it.

Overall, I like this deal a lot for the Twins. They get a power hitting right-handed bat to hit behind Mauer and Morneau and they get him at the right price. If he can stay healthy and produce some pop than the Twins should be very pleased with this deal.

Brewers Add Aramis Ramirez

With Prince Fielder almost a sure bet to sign somewhere else this off-season the Brewers desperately needed someone to replace his production. Ramirez most likely won’t be as good as Fielder was but he should be able to give some production. The contract is for 3 years for a total of $36 million dollars. The downside is that Ramirez is 33 and will be 36 when the deal is over.

Since 2001 Ramirez has been a really good player. He’s had a WAR above four five times and has had a WAR above five twice. When Ramirez arrives in Milwaukee he will bring some above average talents with him. He’s a power hitter and has an above average ISO. His career .358 wOBA is also league average and should help the Brewers much more than Casey McGhee’s .272 from a season ago. Last year he showed that he still can be an offensive producer, his 133 wRC+ last year is a testament to that.  His defensive is horrible though, his career UZR is -30.1. Going back to McGhee, last year he was horrible. His ISO, OBP and wOBA were all about as bad as it gets. Ramirez should step in and be much better.

If Ramirez can have WARs of 3, 2.5 and 2 during the three years of the deal he’ll give the Brewers $35.2 million dollars of value, which is essentially a push. With Ryan Braun also most likely being suspended this is a move that the Brewers desperately needed to make if they want to make the post-season for the second year in a row.

Diamondbacks, Athletics Swap Pitchers

The other day the Arizona Diamondbacks and Oakland Athletics made a trade involving starting pitcher Trevor Cahill and Diamondbacks prospect Jarrod Parker and prospect Colin Cowgill.

From the Athletics perspective I really like this deal. Cahill really isn’t that good. In 2010 many thought Cahill had a tremendous year, his 2.97 ERA and 18 wins are a big reason why people think that. Based on wins above replacement he actually had a better 2011 than 2010. In 2011 he had a 2.5 WAR compared to a 2.2 WAR in 2010. In reality Cahill really isn’t that good though. His strikeout and walk rates are both below league average. Pitching in such a spacious ballpark like the Coliseum you would think that he would do his fair share of keeping the ball in the park but it’s quite the opposite. For his career he gives up exactly 1 home run per 9 innings.

Using FIP- and xFIP- to see how good Cahill’s  ERA should be compared to league average.  His career ERA-/FIP-xFIP- are 95/110/100. Based on that information Cahill is expected to be a below league average to league average pitcher. .He can always improve but I don’t see him being worth more than 2.5 – 3 WAR during his best years.

Cahill really reminds me of Paul Maholm. Since 2009 Cahill and Maholm have had very similar careers.

 

Both Cahill and Maholm have extremely similar K% and BB%, both are also extreme ground ball pitchers. One thing that may surprise you is the difference in WAR during that span. Cahill may have the better W/L but it just goes to show you how irrelevant that statistic is. The Diamondbacks  and their fans will have to get used to the fact that they are getting Paul Maholm 2.0, a pretty much league average pitcher. If he can produce between 2-3 WAR he should be an ok investment though. He has a $30.5 million dollar 5 year deal, he should be able to provide enough value to make it ok.

It might have been in Arizona’s best interest to sign Maholm seeing how he’s pretty much the same pitcher and also would have been much cheaper. One other pitcher they could have looked at was Jeff Francis. Francis is also similar to Cahill. His career ERA-/FIP-/xFIP- is 104/95/102. He also would have been much, much cheaper than Cahill was.

The Athletics on the other hand got some nice pieces. The center piece, Jarrod Parker is a pretty good pitching prospect. Throughout his minor league years he’s had a K% of 20%. He has some control problems, in 2009 when he got promoted to double a he walked over 9% of batters he faced but in A and A+ ball he walked under 7%. His FIP has been under 3.75 in every level he’s been at, in A and A+ ball it was under 3.30. unfortunately he had Tommy John surgery in 2010 so he missed the whole season. He struggled somewhat this year but he has the potential to be a solid pitcher for the A’s. The other main player is outfield prospect Colin Cowgill. He looks like has some power potential and the ability to draw walks but he’s already 25 years old. If he’s going to have a career in the majors this year may be now or never. Other throw ins are reliever Craig Breslow going to the Diamondbacks and reliever Ryan Cook going to the A’s.

Like I said Arizona may have been better off with a rotation of Dan Hudson, Ian Kennedy, Paul Maholm/Jeff Francis, Jarrod Parker and a question mark (Trevor Bauer?) than a rotation of Dan Hudson, Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill and two question marks at the tail end.

C.J. Wilson Makes Angels Rotation Even Better

Right after the Angels landed Albert Pujols, the best free agent of the off-season they went on and added the best starting pitcher, C.J. Wilson. Adding Wilson to the rotation makes the Angels’ pitching even better than it was before the signing. Since converting to a starter in 2010 Wilson has totaled 10.5 WAR and a FIP- of 78, making him one of the best pitchers in baseball. The Angels rotation was already good enough before Wilson arrived. As a starting staff they had 17 WAR (.6 came from Chatwood, he was traded to Colorado in the Iannetta deal. Without Chatwood the starters had 16.4 WAR). Overall, they were 4th in all of baseball with 17.8 pitcher WAR. I didn’t factor in pitchers who only pitched a few games. They were also 5th overall in FIP-, C.J. Wilson should only make them better.

The Angels should also expect to get good value from Wilson during his contract. In 2010 he posted 4.6 WAR and gave the Rangers $18.5 million dollars of value, last year he posted 5.9 WAR and was worth $26.5 million dollars of value. The Angels are paying him $15.5 million a year. Using $4.5/win and accounting for the 5% inflation per year we get the following value numbers for Wilson.

 

Overall, Wilson should give the Angels $98.23 million dollars of value, meaning they get $20.73 million dollars in surplus value, a number like this extraordinary. Before free agency started it was rumored that Wilson was looking for 6 years and $100+, the Angels saved a ton of money while getting value out of Wilson. While Wilson will most likely be the Angels number three starter based on last years numbers he could be the number two, ahead of Haren and has the potential to be the number one.

Pujols, Angels Agree to Blockbuster

Talk about surprising. Yesterday it was revealed that Albert Pujols will be joining the Los Angeles Angels and not the Miami Marlins or St. Louis Cardinals like many expected. The deal was for 10 years and $254 million dollars. The deal also comes with a full no trade clause so Pujols won’t be going anywhere.

We all know how good Pujols is so there really isn’t a need for a huge explanation. He’s the best first basemen in baseball and one of the best overall players. He’s coming off his worst year, posting an ISO of .242, a .385 wOBA, a 148 wRC+ and a 5.1 WAR. Not bad for your worst season. Pujols did suffer from some injuries this season so if he come’s back healthy he should easily post 6.5+ WAR.

Over the first six years of the contract Pujols should be relatively solid, more so the first four. The last four probably won’t be as good but with Pujols the good massively out ways the bad. Let’s take a look at what kind of value Pujols should provide during his tenure with the Angels. The salary is in millions.

For the most part my prediction was fairly accurate. The first five years Pujols is giving the Angels some really good value. You could say he is his sixth year as well but after that he begins to declines, which is only natural. Overall I have Pujols giving the Angels roughly $240 million dollars worth of value, a number that’s ridiculous and given the circumstances the Angels should be ecstatic to get that out of Albert. In Albert’s case overpaying for him isn’t as bad as overpaying for someone of much lesser talent because of how good he is and his potential, so in this case we can call his actual deal and his projected value a push.

Pujols does come with his share of injury concerns though. Even though he has the concerns he’s still managed to play more than 150 games per season except two and has played 140+ games ever since.

Pujols will be a massive improvement over Trumbo next season as well.

While traditional statistics may show that Trumbo had a good rookie campaign, if we dive deeper we realize that he’s essentially league average. His offensive production was only 5% better than league average, his WAR was pretty much league average as was his wOBA. Pujols was obviously much better, something that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

I could keep going on and posting statistics but it would be a waste of time, you all should know (I hope) that Pujols is pretty much a machine. The Angels are easily the winner of the off-seasons, oh yeah they also got C.J. Wilson. The Angels will be a force to be reckoned with next season and shouldn’t be taken lightly at all.

Huston Street on the Move

The Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres agreed to a trade that will send closer Huston Street to the San Diego Padres. For the most part I like the deal. The one downside in the deal is Street’s salary. This upcoming season he’s due to make $7.5 million, the Rockies will pay $1 million of that. In 2013 he’s set to make $9 million dollars but there’s a $500k buyout.

Since Street came up in 2005 he’s totaled 10 WAR, averaging 1.67 WAR per season. His ERA-/FIP-/xFIP- since he’s come up is 71/72/80.  This past season he should have been better then his ERA- and FIP- suggest. This year they were 92/91 but his xFIP- was 81 so he should expect a bounce back year. The statistic SIERA (situational ERA) likes him even better, it was 2.94. Much of this can be contributed to him pitching at Coors which is known to hurt pitchers. One indication of this is if you look at the spike in his HR/9 since he came to Coors. Previously he gave up .9/9 in 2007 when he was still with the A’s. This past season he gave up 1.54 HR/9, his highest of his career.

For his career he’s always had an above average strikeout percentage as well as an above average walk percentage. I see no reason why that should change next year at PETCO.

Contract wise Street shouldn’t have a problem giving the Padres a return on their investment. He’s due to make $7.5 million this season so he needs to get roughly 1.75 WAR, something he shouldn’t have a problem doing. In 2013 he’s due to make $9 million meaning he’d have to get 2 WAR, again something he should be able to achieve especially since he’s going to PETCO. If he isn’t that good the Padres can always cut him.

Finally, he is already joining a solid bullpen. With Heath Bell and Mike Adams gone, the three other relievers who pitched at least 40 innings last year averaged a 3.53 FIP, which is very solid. With Street coming it should be even better. If he isn’t what the Padres imagined they can also trade him at the deadline before or during the end of July.

Introducing New Miami Marlin: Jose Reyes

Yesterday it was announced that the Marlins made their first big splash before moving into Sun Life stadium for 2012 and beyond. The Marlins and Reyes agreed to a 6 year deal worth $106 million dollars. The Marlins headed into the off-season ready to spend money. Reyes, just happens to be one of the best players available and quite frankly one of the best players in all of baseball. Right from the start the Marlins set their eyes on Reyes and in the end got their guy. Why would they want a star shortstop when they already have one though? Like I said, he’s one of the best players in baseball.He’s also had a very similar career to Hanley Ramirez.

Since 2005 Ramirez has had the slightly better walk rate but Reyes is striking out at a better rate then Ramirez. Hanley’s power is much better then Reyes’ as well but Reyes still has above average power. Overall it looks like Hanley is better offensively but their WARs since 2005 (Hanley’s rookie year) are pretty much the same. The slight difference in WAR comes from Hanley’s poor defensive play and Reyes’ above average play at shortstop. For his career Ramirez has a career UZR of -44.1, which is horrible to say the least. On the other hand Reyes is a much better defender, his career UZR is 13.5.

Reyes does come with his share fair of injury concerns though. The last three seasons he’s played in only only 265 games but in those 265 games he has totaled 9.9 WAR, the majority of that came from this past season where he totaled 6.2 WAR. The last time he played over 150 games was in 2008. Dispite the injury concerns he’s been worth $134.5 million dollars since he came up in 2003, meaning he should be able to have a good shot at being worth his $106 million dollar deal, especially since he’s only had one season of his prime. This past season 1 WAR was worth roughly $4.5 million dollars. Let’s take a look at this chart to see the potential value the Marlins should get out of Reyes.

Assuming Reyes plays up to his potential he should give the Marlins $8.75 million dollars of extra value during the life of his contract.

The Marlins line-up was already pretty solid before Reyes arrived. Stanton, Bonafacio, Morrison and Sanchez all had wOBAs over .340. If Ramirez was healthy he also would be on that list. With Reyes they get more speed in the line-up, a potential .360-.370 wOBA player and a stud on defense. Ramirez will more than likely move to third base but with the upgrade Reyes gives you defensively it’s a smart move.

The Marlins offense seems ready for a good year, especially if prospect Matt Dominguez is ready to contribute during the year although it seems much more likely that he’ll be ready for 2013. If the Marlins add a starting pitcher or two (They offered Mark Buehrle a 3 year deal worth $36-$39 mil) they could be ready to content in the NL East. The Marlins are for sure ready for a new era to start in Sun Life stadium.

Marlins, Reyes Agree to Deal.

There are reports everywhere that Reyes are on the cusp of a 6 year deal worth between $109 and $111 million dollars, if the reports are indeed true this is a great deal for the Miami Marlins. Look out for a post in the coming days.

Angels, Rockies Swap Players.

Yesterday the Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Angels swapped Chris Iannetta and Tyler Chatwood. On the surface it looks like a really good deal for the Angels. They badly needed a catcher after getting .191/.253/.301 out of their catchers last year which is terrible. Iannetta on the other hand posted much better statistics, during the season, he had .248/.370/.417. If we dig deeper and look at some splits as well as some advanced statistics we realize that Iannetta was horrible on the road. This shouldn’t come as a total surpise, Coors inflates offensive even if it isn’t as much since the humidor at Coors got implemented.

Throughout his career Iannetta has performed much better at home. Since 2006 you can see how he has performed at home and away from home in this spreadsheet.

 

The two big things that really jump out at you are Iannetta’s big drop offs in power and his wRC+. Coors is one to increase power but when he’s away from Coors he’s hardly above average power wise. When he’s away from home he’s also creating runs 19% worse then league average, Angel fans don’t want to see that. Iannetta can do damage at Coors but when he’s away he’s just not as good.

The Angels got 21 year old Tyler Chatwood. Last year was his first taste of big league experience and he wasn’t that impressive.

In 27 games last year, 25 starts, Chatwood had an unimpressive 4.89 FP and 4.90 xFIP. He doesn’t strike out batters and has a problem walking them. He struck out 11.7% of the batters he faced and walked 11.2% he faced. If he wants to stay in the big leagues he needs to cut down walks by a big margin. He has the potential to be a 3 or 4 in the big leagues but it might be in Colorado’s best interest to let Chatwood start the year in the minors.

In the end, both teams got what they needed. Whether it pays off or not remains to be seen though. If I had to I’d say Colorado got the better deal. They got a young pitcher with potential and signed former Reds catcher Ramon Hernandez to fill their void. I didn’t talk about Hernandez but look out for a post in the near future.