MLB Winter Meetings

The MLB Winter Meetings have concluded, but most of the action took place after they were over. Sean Dolan and Christian Binder, the hosts of 4th and 15, give their thoughts on the deals that went down in Major League Baseball.

Christian Binder: As a Yankees fan, I can’t be upset with what’s been going on. I still don’t know how I feel about the Yanks acquiring Curtis Granderson, but if he puts up numbers like he did in 2007, then he’s a steal. He does give the team a dependable every day centerfielder who can also lead off, but he has GOT to work on hitting left-handed pitching. I was upset to see Austin Jackson, the Yankees’ supposedly untouchable outfield prospect, go in the deal, but Granderson is in his prime and he’s here for the foreseeable future. That’s really the only move the Yankees have made, though, and they really need to find some back-of-the-rotation starters. I mean, let’s face the fact that Joba Chamberlain is not a starter and that Phil Hughes should be. The top three spots are already set with CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Andy Pettitte, but after that, there’s question marks. There are still good pitchers such as Ben Sheets and Justin Duchsherer on the market. Why not give at least one of those guys a shot? Plus, they have to keep up with the Red Sox who signed John Lackey to a 5-year deal. The Sox now have arguably the most talented staff in baseball with Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Lackey, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Clay Buchholz. I know you’re happy, Sean, because your team just got the best pitcher in baseball.

Sean Dolan:  With regards to the Yankees’ offseason moves so far, I must admit that I am surprised they did not make a stronger effort to sign Lackey, not only because he would have added depth to the rotation, but because the Red Sox were the other major contender to sign him.  Granderson was a decent pickup, though.  He will serve as a good compliment to the core players on the team, putting up solid numbers both offensively and defensively.  As for the Red Sox, the Lackey signing solidifies their rotation as one of the most complete in the league.  However, I feel that they spent a lot of money on a part of the team that didn’t require much improvement.  Pitching is not their weakness, hitting is.  Beyond Jason Bay, who has already refused offers from them, and Matt Holliday, there are no real top-tier hitters on the market, though they could still be helped by the likes of Garrett Atkins or Adrian Beltre.  If they can acquire some hitting help with the salary space they have left, the Bosox will compete with the Yankees for dominance of the American League.

Which brings us to the Phightin’ Phillies.  When I first learned that Cliff Lee had been traded away, I was furious.  But the more I learned about the trade for Roy Halliday and the circumstances surrounding it, the more I like it.  First, Halliday is only three years older than Lee, dispelling concerns about age.  Second, trading away Lee was essential for maintaining the farm system.  Since the beginning of last season, the Phillies have traded away seven of their top ten farm prospects.  Letting Lee stay for another season (and ultimately losing him to free agency) would have prevented the team from acquiring blue-chip prospects to replace the ones they have given away.  Thus, the Phillies have re-secured a future for themselves, rather than risking everything on next season.  In the end, the effectiveness of this deal for the Phillies will be determined by how successful the prospects from Seattle are, and, believe it or not, how well Cole Hamels pitches next season, not Roy Halliday.  With Lee gone, Hamels is the go-to left-handed starter again, and if he pitches like he did in 2008 when he was the MVP of the World Championship team, the Phillies essentially regain the ace they sent to the West Coast.  Christian, your thoughts on this trade?

Christian: Let me just say first that Garrett Atkins has signed with the Orioles and it doesn’t look like the Sox are going after Beltre, though I could be wrong.The Sox addressed their outfield issues by signing Mike Cameron, which makes me think they’re trying to deal for Adrian Gonzalez with a package centered around Jacoby Ellsbury. I don’t think Ellsbury really fits what the Padres would need, but there’s always a chance that Theo Epstein pulls of some crazy trade.

Now for the Phillies. I’m still not sure if this was the best move for them. They know what they’re getting in Roy Halladay, but they have to remember that he hasn’t pitched in the National League. That won’t be a problem for him – he’ll probably wind up with a sub-2.50 ERA and 24 wins given the sad state of the NL, but he has to bat now. They have no idea how that will affect him. They got a good return for Cliff Lee, but they lost Kyle Drabek in the Halladay deal. I’m a big believer in building a club through the farm system and I feel like they sold their farm over the past year. Don’t get me wrong, though. They’ve got a complete team with the guys they have in the major leagues now. The lesser talked about trade the Phils made this offseason was signing Placido Polanco, who will play third base for them. The guy is getting up in age, but he was a Gold Glove second baseman for the past two years with the Detroit Tigers. That fills the hole left by departed third baseman Pedro Feliz. Right now, the Phillies are clearly the team to beat in the NL.

Looking ahead, there are still big names without teams. Jason Bay and Matt Holliday remain unsigned. Bay has received offers from the Red Sox and Mets, but he rejected the offer from the Sox. The Mets seem like a suitor, but I’m not so sure he’d want to play for them. Holliday has received an offer from the St. Louis Cardinals and it was a very lucrative deal. However, he has yet to accept it and he hasn’t received any other offers. Realistically, there aren’t many teams that can offer him as much money as he wants, so I see him ending up with the Cardinals. What do you think, Sean?

Sean:  Well, it is finally official.  Jason Bay has signed with the New York Mets, a move that I believe will put them in the running for the National League Wildcard.  I still believe the Phillies have all the pieces necessary to dominate the division again (cue homer bell), but this signing will certainly make the race all the more interesting.  That is, assuming Bay stays healthy, a feat that not many Mets have been able to accomplish as of late.  Matt Holliday, meanwhile, will most likely end up with the Cardinals.  You are correct in stating that not many teams can offer him the money he wants; he turned down a five-year, $82.5 million deal from the Red Sox, so logistically one could eliminate the majority of the league from topping that offer.  The last free agent that I would like to address is Cuban 21-year-old left-handed pitcher Aroldis Chapman, who has been courting the Red Sox, Yankees, A’s, Angels, and most recently, the Blue Jays.  Personally, I see him signing with the Angels, a team that will be looking to fill the void left by losing John Lackey.   I also believe they have the money to land him a good deal and the drive to compete with the Yankees and Red Sox in free agent acquisitions.  Your thoughts?

Christian: Peter Gammons said “Jason Bay would rather play in Beirut than Queens.” So much for that. The Mets were the only team really bidding for Bay and they got him. He does bring some help, but he’s not nearly what the team needed. What the Mets lack is pitching. Sure, they have Johan Santana, but after that, they’ve got absolutely nothing. They should’ve spent more time focusing on guys like John Lackey, Randy Wolf, and Brad Penny, but they were never really in on any of those guys. I can’t see Holliday going anywhere but St. Louis. However, his agent Scott Boras said that he would consider a one- or two-year deal for his client, which opens the door for teams like the Yankees. I honestly think that that’s Boras trying to force the Cardinals’ hand, though. Holliday is worthy of a multiyear deal, but no one has the money to spend on him in these tough economic times. As for Chapman, I’m not sure he’ll play in the majors this year. Everyone knows that the kid can throw, but what he lacks is discipline. Plus he wants a contract that’s crazy. The Yankees screwed up when they signed Jose Contreras to a multiyear deal before seeing him pitch in the majors and teams around the league, including the Yanks, have learned from that. I think if anyone signs him, he should be sent straight to the minors for at least a year to develop. Right now, though, there are no clear suitors for him.

There’s plenty more where this came from. Be sure to listen to 4th and 15 every Thursday from 4:15-5:00 on WSOE 89.3 FM.

Christian Binder


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