For those of you who don't know, my day job is Ph.D. student in economics. One of the cool things about big grad departments is they tend to bring in people from all over the world.
My friend, lets call her Lajja, can't stand baseball but loves cricket. You can feel her excitement when she shares stories of her favorite bowler from her native India going up against the Australians.
In her 3rd year, Lajja needed to teach a class on statistics. To give the students an example that they could relate to, she wanted to talk about baseball. Knowing nothing about the sport, and afraid that she may make a fool out of herself in front of her first class, she spent about an hour learning the basics of the game. With a lot of focus, she managed to master batting average, ERA, OBP. She was ready to go.
She walks into the classroom, introduces herself, and says, "Okay, so which country does America play in the World Series?"
I now need a transition to talking about free agent pitchers. So, speaking of foreign conceptions of American baseball, the Cubs lost out on Masahiro Tanaka. However, there's still talk that the Cubs might get involved with guys like Bronson Arroyo. That would be good for this year. However, an interesting situation is developing in Cleveland. Talks between Justin Masterson and the Indians about a long term extension broke down on Monday, with both sides now focused on his arbitration case.
If an agreement with Masterson can't be hammered out, the soon-to-be 29 year old will hit free agency this winter. Masterson was masterful for the Tribe last year, putting up a 3.35 FIP and striking out over a batter an inning. He would be in the middle of his prime and set for a long term deal with a similarly dominant season this year. The Cubs would have the financial flexibility to make a move if the front office likes what they see in him. It's a situation that bears watching as we move forward.
Around the League:
- According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, A.J. Burnett will pitch again this season and will test the open market. This comes as a bit of a surprise to the Pirates who were expecting the decision to come down to Pirates or retirement. THURSDAY UPDATE: The Orioles are "all in" on Burnett according to Gammons. This makes a lot of sense as they need pitching and Burnett comes relatively cheap and without any draft pick compensation. The Rays are also involved.
- Scott Baker, who spent most of 2013 on the DL for the Cubs, signed a minor league deal with the Mariners. Baker is trying to salvage his career following Tommy John surgery in 2012 which, to this point, has robbed him of his former velocity.
- Interesting article by Jim Callis looking at the signing bonuses of the Top 100 prospects. Keeping with the new emphasis on player development, the Cubs have #1 (Jorge Soler) and #2 (Kris Bryant) on the list. However, they also have #99 (Arismendy Alcantara) and #97 (CJ Edwards, though that was obviously paid by the Rangers).
- Ken Rosenthal has a story pointing out that former Yankee Vernon Wells could lose money by playing in 2014. Wish I could earn $21 million by sitting around playing video games all day...
- Jim Bowden has the Mariners in big on free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz, with an offer possibly coming today (Thursday). This is an interesting signing for the Mariners. Cruz's power will almost certainly decline moving from the launching pad that is Arlington to Seattle. It also costs them another draft pick, putting them completely all-in. Does that mean they may trade some of their non-Walker pieces for another starter?
- Michael Young has decided to hang up his glove. He finishes his 14-year career with a .787 OPS and 185 home runs. All but his final season were spent with the Rangers.
- Jeff Todd at MLBTradeRumors.ccom has an excellent piece on salaries over the last seven seasons. Well worth a read.
- The Marlins have signed ex-Cub Reed Johnson to a minor league deal. Johnson really struggled for the Braves last season, finishing with a .652 OPS, causing the team to decline his option.
- The Rangers picked up Daniel Bard. Bard was an excellent setup man for the Red Sox early in his career, but injuries and control problems have made him a reclamation project for the Rangers.
- Interesting tweet from Ken Rosenthal: the Orioles plan to add at least $15 million more to their payroll before the season starts. That would seem to be enough room to put them in free agents Nelson Cruz, Ervin Santana, and Ubaldo Jimenez.
Filed under: Uncategorized