I wonder how motivated teams are to sign players before midnight of a given year for tax purposes?
Obviously, in the big business of sports, that has to be a factor in signings. But I swear, much like Diane loves reading "People" magazine when she gets her nails done, I find the transactions page to be so delicious it is hard to resist.
Surely, I have written enough "Life and Death in the Transactions", and now the newish "Rotobituaries" columns to more than hint at this fascination.
But, as I was pondering what to write on the fun and light side this first Saturday of the new year, I could not resist looking at what the Major League clubs did during their final business cycle before the calendar and the new season start to truly sync.
Scott Kazmir: Almost 32, no one has resurrected himself in the Majors as efficiently as Kazmir, who truly has learned to pitch where he used to throw. The Dodgers actually got a decent price tag ($18 million for three years) but I fear Kazmir is not the cog the team needs to make things work. Aside from being lefty heavy, a hard thrower--from the right side--is where I would spend my bucks were I the Dodgers. Or, I would groom from within. Kazmir will go 12-12, 3.98, which is ok, but not worth $18 mil.
Mike Leake: It is an understatement to say I was unimpressed with Leake's brief tenure in San Francisco. He is four years younger and around $4 million a year cheaper than Kazmir, and has pretty good WHIP totals (1.271 over 1083.6 innings). Going to the smart Cardinals, Leake will be under contract until he is Kazmir's present age. That seems like a better deal to me.
Michael McKenry: Hmmm. The Rangers have a 31-year-old right-handed hitting catcher in Robinson Chirinos who has a .232-24-81 line over 204 games, with a .301 OBP. So, they sign a 30-year-old right-handed hitting catcher who has a .239-29-103 line over 308 games with a .319 OBP. Maybe there is an archetype the front office understands that is beyond me. Truth is, I am OK with Chirinos as a $2 number two backstop in an AL-only league, but, well, I guess these two are interchangeable Lego parts?
Tim Stauffer: The Diamondbacks signed Stauffer, who has done nothing but promote hope in fantasy owners since 2011, to a minor league deal. I hope they did do this as insurance in case Zack Greinke, Shelby Miller, or Patrick Corbin struggle, because I think they will be disappointed.
Alexi Ogando: It seems teams' confusion about what to do with Ogando (not to mention health) has provided the same issue with fantasy owners. Is he a starter or reliever? Could he be a closer? Well, despite two relatively crappy seasons, Ogando probably fits in with the Braves as a set-up guy, and somehow, I think he becomes a good deal for a buck you can dump, as necessary. Ogando's strikeout numbers were moving up, and chances are he will not pitch in pressure situations and the righty does have a 1.205 WHIP over 471.3 frames.
Jerry Sands: Remember in 2011, when Sands hit .288-29-88 for Albuquerque and was the Dodgers' next big thing? Six years later, the White Sox grabbed him off waivers. Good luck with that.
Nate Schierholtz: Schierholtz is a guy I saw a lot of scoring Giants games, before he became a platoon banger with 21 home runs for the Cubbies in 2013. The magic dust wore off in 2014 as he split the year between the Cubs and the Nats and then it was a year in Japan. Now he's in line for a reserve gig in Detroit. The outfielder, who will be 32 next month, has one of the best arms in baseball, and can be way streaky. But in a substitute role with the Tigers, Schierholtz might be a nice cheap $1/reserve pick, at least for as long as the hot streak lasts.
Henderson Alvarez: Billy Beane is as good picking talent from the island of lost players as anyone, and Alvarez is a savvy crapshoot. Alvarez sucked (and was hurt) most of last year, but at 25, a year removed from a fine 12-7, 2.65 season, Alvarez might fit in just fine in any number of roles in Oakland. Jury out: will return a verdict in March.