Last week, I ranked all of the moves in baseball this offseason. When I wrote about the 10 best moves, I already hated the list. Now, several days later, I'm even less enthusiastic. Thing ages like a peeled banana. But while I'm not sure about the exact permutation of the moves now, I'm pretty sure I still hate all of these deals.
10. Dodgers signing Hyun-Jin Ryu
I argued that the Zack Greinke signing was one of the best of the offseason because when it comes to roster-planning, the Dodgers signing him for $159 million was like another team signing him for $100 million. So it should follow that paying $61.7 million for Ryu over six years (including the posting fee) is like another team signing him to a quaint four-year deal.
Maybe. But that doesn't mean that the Dodgers can spend without repercussions. Between Ryu and Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers have spent over $100 million on quasi-controversial players based on nothing more than the ol' eyeball test. Which isn't always ill-advised, mind you, but did the Dodgers do it because they loved Puig and Ryu that much, or did they do it because Puig and Ryu happened to be the players available when the wallet was already out of the pants?
Here's Ryu's first inning of the spring:
I see the general promise in the arm. But for $60 million, I want a near-guarantee of instant gratification that's based on something more than the eyeball test. Ryu struck out 187 in 192 innings for Hanwa last year. Is that good? Does that translate well to the majors? What about the home-run rate of 0.5 per nine innings? Is that good? Did he get Karim Garcia out when they faced off? Should I dock him for being in a league in which Karim Garcia finished fourth in homers? I don't know!
Seriously, I don't have any idea. I'm not sure the Dodgers do, either. The gambles on players like Greinke aren't the ones that would worry me. It's the huge gambles on international players without much of a statistical track record that would make me pause. Those kinds of players remind me of mid-first-round draft picks, and you know how well those usually turn out.
Now that I've written this, he's almost certainly going to go nuts. You're welcome, Dodger fans.
9. The Reds re-signing Jonathan Broxton
I would like to open the case against Jonathan Broxton by telling the story of a reliever named Jonathan Broxton. This reliever was good until he was bad, and then he was hurt. Then another team signed him for really cheap, and he was pretty good again, though not dominating.
That seems like the story of every reliever in the game at one time or another, which is the point. You find the next Jonathan Broxton. You don't sign the actual Jonathan Broxton to a $21 million contract. Not when you have a bullpen filled with hard-throwing candidates to replace erstwhile closer Aroldis Chapman.
Or, to put it another way, three years of Broxton plus two years of Ryan Ludwick is about $8 million shy of four years of Michael Bourn.
8. Diamondbacks signing Cody Ross
It's not that I dislike the idea of Ross in a major-league lineup -- I argued that my team should sign him, at least before I knew how expensive he'd be -- but the Ross move was a leverage leech. Suddenly the Diamondbacks had five outfielders again, and everyone knew they had to make a trade. And earlier in the offseason, they traded Chris Young -- younger, cheaper, and likely better than Ross -- for a no-hit shortstop to add to the other two no-hit shortstops they already had, but not before they traded for a younger no-hit shortstop.
The Diamondbacks had a bizarre offseason. The Ross move was the tipping point into the surreal.
7. Dodgers re-signing Brandon League
I'm irrational when it comes to reliever contracts, especially when they go to relievers who aren't very good. And Brandon League by just about every metric possible -- strikeout rate, walk rate, ERA, high-leverage situations, WPA -- isn't very good. I asked FanGraphs' Jeff Sullivan for a relevant quote on League, his team's closer for a year and a half, and he provided this one:
Baseball's most unheralded mouthbreather
Huh, wonder what he means by …
GAAAAAH. Okay, maybe it's not the worst move in the world for the Dodgers, but I don't like reliever contracts, I'm not wild about League as a reliever at all, and I'm prejudiced against mouth-breathers.
6. Twins signing Kevin Correia
I wrote about this in-depth here, so I won't re-hash it too much, but here's the part that gets me: two years. Okay, so the Twins have a contact fetish, and they don't care if a pitcher doesn't miss a lot of bats, so they were willing to sign a pitcher who hasn't been above replacement level since 2009.
But for two years? What … I mean … where's the risk/reward on that? What's the risk of a one-year deal? That you miss out on the Kevin Correia Sweepstakes? That he has a year so danged good it makes you say, "Awwww, man, should of done a two-year deal, man."
Wait, hold on. I think I see it.
You've taken an IQ test before. You know where that's going. So, yeah, in 2014, when Correia has a 108 ERA+, this ranking's gonna look pretty stupid. #sabermetrics
5. Mariners acquiring Michael Morse from Nationals for John Jaso
Was there a way for the Mariners to get A.J. Cole directly from the A's? You would figure so. And that trade would have made much more sense. Much, much, much more sense. The Mariners should be thinking about 2014, not 2013. Trading anything for Morse on a one-year deal is fine for a team without a DH/1B logjam, and it makes sense for a team going for it in 2013. But for a team in something of a holding pattern that also plans to play him in the field? Gross.
But we're this close to a Jason Bay/Michael Morse/Raul Ibañez outfield, people. Start the letter-writing campaign.
4. Marlins acquiring Jeff Mathis, Yunel Escobar, A. Hechavarria, J. Marisnick, H. Alvarez, A. DeScalfani, and J. Nicolino from Blue Jays for John Buck, Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, and $4M
With this trade, Jeffrey Loria urinated on Marlins fans. Went to each one of their houses, waited until they opened the door, and started urinating on them. Literally. Then, when he was done, he went to the homes of every taxpayer in Miami-Dade county and urinated on all of them, too. And he cackled and chortled and snorted with glee as he did it. He had to drink a lot of water to urinate that much, but he was committed.
Alright, maybe not literally. But I wouldn't be surprised.
3. Phillies acquiring Michael Young from Rangers for Josh Lindblom and Lisalverto Bonilla
A post I never got around to was dissecting Young's defense in the 2010 World Series. The Rangers were up 2-0 in Game 1, and Young made an error to lead off the bottom of the third. The Giant would tie the game in the inning, and they would eventually blow the game open. But it always seemed like a fork in the road to me. If Young doesn't make the error, maybe the Giants still get to Cliff Lee. And even if the Rangers win the first game in the alternate universe, maybe the Giants still win four out of the next six.
The larger point is this: Michael Young is bad at defense. He's bad at first, he's bad at second, and he's really bad at third. He's 36, his power is gone, his plate discipline is trending in the wrong direction, and even if he reverses his hitting free-fall, his ceiling is still limited by his awful defense.
Other than that, the move is pure upside.
2. Diamondbacks acquiring Lars Anderson, Didi Gregorius, and Tony Sipp from the Indians for Matt Albers, Trevor Bauer, and Bryan Shaw
Before the 2012 season started, the phrase "trading Justin Upton and Trevor Bauer" was something you would see in a thought experiment about what it would take to get Bryce Harper. Even if teams knew that Bauer was a putz, he wasn't in legal trouble. Teams will put up with a lot from good pitchers. Heck, the Diamondbacks had Curt Schilling and Todd Stottlemyre on the same team, so there's some history with quality putz-related rotations in Arizona.
But the Diamondbacks felt Bauer was such a personality-related liability, a player so uncoachable, that they had to move him for a shortstop with a questionable bat. And they had to do it RIGHT NOW RIGHT NOW RIGHT NOW. They didn't want to wait until Bauer got off to a fast start in Triple-A, overmatching PCL hitters.
That might have started a bidding frenzy. But the risk with that strategy was that he might not have gotten off to a fast start. He might have gotten off to a slow start, which would have lowered his value to the point where the Diamondbacks could get only a slap-hitting shortstop prospect for him.
1. Phillies signing Delmon Young
He's going to play. Don't give me this no-risk-flyer stuff. The only way Young doesn't play is if he's too hurt to play, or if he's so bad that everyone in the organization realizes it's a good idea to pull the plug.
If you have a player who is awful defensively, but has shown great promise as a hitter, a National League team might be justified in taking the risk.
If you have a player who is an awful hitter, but is adept on the bases and afield, an NL team might be justified in taking the risk.
If you have a player who has had something of an unfortunate off-field history, but has shown important baseball-related skills, an NL team might be justified in taking the risk.
Delmon Young has the bad part of all three of those conditional clauses without any of the good parts.
Looking for the tools because he's a first-overall pick is like signing Brien Taylor to a contract and putting him straight into the rotation. The tools aren't there, man. What's left are 880 games and 3,575 plate appearances of bad. Wait, no. Young had a good season. He hit 21 home runs and batted .298/.333/.493 for the Twins in 2010. He finished with a WAR under two because his defense was so miserable. That's Young's good season, his upside. There was absolutely no reason for an NL team to sign him, much less start him.
Oh, and he was hurt when the Phillies signed him. He had surgery on his ankle in the offseason, which isn't the type of injury that lingers and affects performance, no sir.
Also, I was not in favor of the Phillies' decision to sign Delmon Young.