Analyzing and Grading the Free Agent Moves in the MLB before the GM Meetings

By: Jon

Free Agent Signings:

1) Robinson Cano

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10 yr – 240M with the Mariners

Although Cano did not receive the largest contract in MLB history, like he originally wanted, he achieved the third largest contract in history and the largest for a second baseman. Although Cano is one of the ten best players in the league, the Mariners drastically overpaid for his services. Unlike other players who have reached ten year deals, Rodrgiuez and Pujols, Cano has never won an MVP, cannot carry a team through the playoffs, draw fans into the stadium, or manufacture money for his team. In the recent past, many people did not believe that another player would receive another 10 year 200+M deal in free agent because of the past results. Since Rodriguez, Pujols, and Cano have signed similar deals, they should be compared. Unfortunately for the Mariners, they hope that Cano does not have the problems with age. As seen in Anaheim and New York, the two albatrosses are the worst contracts in baseball because the players are not performing like their franchises originally believed when they signed their contracts. While Cano may continue his success for the first three or four years of the contract, the Mariners will be disappointed by the final 6 years of the deal. Unless Cano can draw other free agents or stars to the Mariners, the Mariners will continue to fail and not meet expectations because their offense will be horrible. In Seattle, Cano will not even be the face of the franchise and his future stats should decline because of the stadium and the bad lineup behind him. Instead of filing one hole, the Mariners should have signed multiple players with the $240M they gave to Cano.

Grade: B-

2) Jacoby Ellsbury

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7 yr – 153M with the Yankees

The 30 year old free agent signed the third largest deal for an outfielder, this offseason. While Jacoby Ellsubry is a quality All-Star player, many people believe that the Yankees overpaid by $30 million. The major question about Jacoby Ellsbury regards around his ability to stay healthy and remain on the field. When healthy, Ellsbury is one of the best lead off hitters in the league and has the ability to manufacture runs for the club. Fortunately for the Yankees, Ellsbury should be able to rejuvenate his power production because of the short porch in right field. If Ellsbury can average 20 home runs and 30-40 steals for the first 5 years of the deal, the contract will be deemed as a success for the Yankees. Along with providing speed to the slow Yankees, Ellsbury plays great defense and has the ability to hit .300 while recording 100+ runs. Unfortunately for the Yankees, the deal that most relates to Ellsbury’s deal is Carl Crawford. While Carl played horribly for the first two years of the contract, the last season has been an improvement because he has remained healthy for the past season. If the Yankees can manage Ellsbury and limit his number of steals, Ellsbury should be able to remain a star for most of the length of the contract. If the Yankees can trade Gardner, a lesser version of Ellsbury, for a mid level pitcher, the Yankees should be happy with this deal and look forward to his success.

Grade: A-/B+

3) Ricky Nolasco

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4 yr – 49M with the Twins

For the first time in Twins’ history, the franchise has spent more than 21M on a player in free agency. While Nolasco is a quality pitcher, he would have been able to net nearly $50 without the abundance of TV money that is entering the sport. As seen with many of deals this offseason, the additional money has been given to the players. Last season, Nolasco had the second best season of his career, 13 wins, 3.70 ERA, and 165K. Nolasco became a prominent free agent this offseason because of the success he encountered with the Dodgers, during the playoffs and the stretch run. While Nolasco’s ERA has ranged from 5.06 to 3.52, he has been able to pitch around 200 innings for the past six years with the Dodgers and the Marlins. The Achilles heel of Nolasco over the past few seasons has been allowing home runs. During his worst seasons, Nolasco allowed nearly 25 home runs per season. During the latter half of last season, Nolasco gave up only 6 home runs while recording a 3.52 ERA. In Minnesota, Nolasco’s home run numbers should decline, which will allow him to decrease his ERA and legitimatize his new deal. If Ricky can continue his success in Minnesota, the Twins should be able to improve their horrible pitching staff and make a run out of the NL Central dweller. While other pitcher may net close to $80 million, the deal for Nolasco will look better.

Grade: B+

4) Brian McCann

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5 yr – 85M with the Yankees

The former All-Star and Atlanta Braves has signed the second largest deal for a catcher in Major League Baseball history. McCann has been one of the best power hitting catchers over the past few seasons. Over the past six seasons, McCann has hit over 20 home runs per season, has played above average defense at catcher, and has been voted to seven All-Star games. In New York, McCann should be able to hit 25-30 home runs because of the short porch in right. McCann is has shown in the past that he is great at pulling the ball with power, which fits greatly with the Yankees. Unlike most free agents, McCann is still in the prime of his career and should be able to provide at least 4-5 quality years with the Yankees. Over the next 3-4 seasons, McCann should be able to play catcher at a high level. The Yankees desperately needed a catcher this offseason because they have not had an All-Star level catcher since Jorge Posada. When the Yankees are at their best, they have an above average catcher that can bat in the middle of the order. If McCann cannot play catcher over the last few seasons of the deal, the Yankees should be able to move him to first base or DH, which will allow him to play catcher for a few extra seasons. Along with providing skill at the catching performance, McCann is a great leader and should provide a voice to a locker room that has been lost, since Posada retired. In almost every level, the deal with McCann makes perfect sense.

Grade: A

5) Mike Napoli

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2 yr – 32M with the Red Sox

The beard is going to return to Red Sox for another two seasons, which should be exciting for Red Sox fans. Although Red Sox did not have the most talent last season during their championship run, they had great locker room players and many of the players were clutch down the stretch. One of the two main reasons for the Red Sox’s success is Mike Napoli. Last year, Mike Napoli rebounded because he was healthy for most of the season. Mike Napoli returned to the success he established in Texas, which allowed him to score and drive in multiple runs for the Red Sox. Along with improving offensively, Mike Napoli, surprisingly, became a quality defensive first baseman, which was underrated and under appreciated. The deal with Napoli is similar to other deals that the Red Sox signed over the past years. The Red Sox have decided to give short deals to older free agents with great personality, which has enabled the team to bond together and achieve success. Napoli is a great teammate and should help the young players that are coming through the Red Sox farm system. Over the next two seasons, Napoli will be able to fill the Red Sox first base position and provide All-Star statistics to the middle of the Red Sox order, as they attempt to repeat as champion. At $16M per season, the Red Sox are not breaking the bank for an elder player with talent.

Grade: A-

6) Curtis Granderson

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4 yr – 60M with the Mets

The power hitting outfielder will be traveling across town to the Mets and hopes to provide protection to David Wright. Before a terrible year filled with injuries, Granderson was one of the best power hitters in baseball, after two 40 home run seasons. Last season, Granderson played only 61 games because of two fluke injuries to his wrist, which demolished his whole season. The Mets desperately needed an outfielder that could hit in the middle of a playoff team. Last season, the Mets offense was horrible because they do not have much power and the outfield was especially bad after the trade of Marlon Byrd. While Granderson has sacrificed his batting average and on base percentage, his power numbers and his ability to drive in runs has been great. Over the past two seasons before his injury, Granderson has struck out 350 times. The Mets have overpaid for Granderson because they were in desperate need of a quality outfielder and he had all of the leverage. While Granderson will improve the Mets’ order and should improve the entire lineup as a whole, the Mets needed a top outfielder and a better bat than Curtis Granderson can provide. Curtis will have difficulty maintaining his home run power without the short porch in Yankee Stadium. Also, Granderson will have trouble covering the huge outfield in Citi Field over the latter half of the contract.

Grade: B

7) Jhonny Peralta

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4 yr – 53M with the Cardinals

Even though Peralta was suspended for 50 games, the Cardinals did not hesitate to give him a multiyear deal worth half of 100 million dollars. Last season, the Cardinals may have lost the WS because their shortstop position was one of the worst in MLB. The Cardinals are a large market team and have a chance to win the WS again this season. The addition of Peralta changes the Cardinals shortstop from a weakness to a strength. Although Peralta is not the best defensive shortstop, he is one of the best offensive shortstop and extends the Cardinals offense that was already one of the best in baseball. Also, Peralta was needed to replace Carlos Beltran, who left to New York, since Oscar Taveras is a rookie and an unknown in the outfield, this season. Although Peralta is not one of the top five players in the free agent class, his signing created a lot of controversy and commotion. Many people and baseball loyalist feel that he was not really punished for his use of PED. Also, many people feel that the Cardinals may have overpaid for Peralta since they are wondering if he can replicate his performance without the use of performance enhancing drug. Although it may have been an overpay, the Cardinals desperately needed a quality shortstop and feel that they are one player away from winning the WS in 2014.

Grade: B

8) Carlos Beltran

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3 yr – 45M with the Yankees

The possible Hall of Famer and one of the greatest playoff players in MLB history will be headed to the team with the greatest playoff resume. After replacing Albert Pujols in St. Louis two years ago, Beltran will counted on to replace the offense of Robinson Cano. During the past two seasons, Beltran did perform better than Pujols. Although it is unlikely that the 36 year old will play better than the 31 year old Cano, Beltran will minimize the loss of Cano because he is still a productive offensive force. If the Yankees make the playoffs this season, Yankee fans will see the difference between Carlos Beltran and Robinson Cano. Ironically both players have played in 51 playoff games and Carlos Beltran clearly has the better statistics. Beltran has a line of .333/.445/.683 with 16 home runs and 40 RBI. Cano has a slash of .222/.267/.419 with 8 home runs and 13 RBI. Although Beltran will not have the impact like Cano in the regular season, he will greatly improve the Yankees’ offense during postseason play. Beltran is a switch hitter, which will provide more options for the Yankees so they do not become a solely left handed batting team. Although Beltran can still play an effective right field, he can play DH, which will enable him to hit through the length of his contract. Although Beltran will not continue batting .290/25+HR/95+RBI throughout the three years, he should be an above average hitter or quality platoon man during the last season of the deal.

Grade: B+

9) Joe Nathan

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2 yr – 20M with the Tigers

The active leader in saves will be good pick up for the Detroit Tigers because their bullpen cost them a trip the WS. Last postseason, the starting pitching performances by the Tigers starting staff were some of the greatest performances by a team in playoff history. Although the team experienced great success at the start of games, the team lost because their bullpen was unexperienced and failed during tough situations. Joe Nathan will provide stability to the team, although he is almost done with his career. Over the last two seasons with the Texas Rangers, Nathan has saved 80 games with a 1.80 ERA and made two All-Star games. Nathan will need to replace Benoit as a closer for the Tigers. With the Tigers, Nathan should be able to replicate his statistics. Although Nathan has switched teams three times, he has consistently been success in the bullpen, which has enabled him to finish top five in the Cy Young voting twice. A contract for $10 million per season for an All-Star closer is not considered horrible or an excessive overpay. Even if the Tigers paid more for Nathan than other teams, they may be only one closer or relief player away from making or winning the WS.

Grade: A

10) Scott Feldman

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3 yr – 30M with the Astros

In the one of the biggest overpays of the offseason, the Astros signed starting pitcher Scott Feldman to a three year deal above market value. After the best season of his career, Feldman cashed in on a big deal with the lowly Astros. For the first half of last season, Feldman pitched with the Chicago Cubs and was effective for the Cubs. In 15 games with the Cubs, Feldman was 7-6 with 3.46 ERA and 67 K in 91 innings. After the trade, Feldman was not the same pitcher with Orioles in the offensive AL East. With the Orioles, Feldman had a 4.27 ERA. Before Feldman’s success in Chicago, Feldman was a below average starter with the Texas Rangers. During his years as a starter with the Rangers, he never accumulated an ERA under 4.08 and never pitched more than 190 innings Besides for his quality half season with the Cubs, Feldman has been a below average 4th or 5th starter. However, the Astros are paying Feldman as a number 3 or a very good number 4 starter. The Astros are hoping that Feldman is a pitcher that is better in the NL, without the DH. The Astros also hope that he can remember how to pitch in the NL Central and replicate his success from last season. However, it seems unlikely because Feldman is a bad pitcher and not deserving of a 30 million dollar deal.

Grade: C

Pictures and Stats from ESPN.com

 

A Sleeping Giant: An Analysis of the New York Giants’ Season

By: Josh M.

A city of lights, action, cheers, and now… boos. MetLife Stadium had hosted the losing-ist team in football: The New York Giants. This year’s Super Bowl is set to take place in MetLife Stadium and the Giant’s endeavor was to be the first team to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium. However, as the season started and progressed, that ambition suddenly diminished.

Fumbles, interceptions, and a foreboding 0-6 record. The Giants had not been 0-3 since 1996! Eli Manning and the Giants, a two-time winning Super Bowl team within a four year period, had faced a struggle never seen before in the organization. They had gone the first 6 games without a single win.

QB Eli Manning has had one of the worst statictical seasons in his ten year career Courtesy of USA Today
QB Eli Manning has had one of the worst statistical seasons in his ten year career
Courtesy of USA Today

The Giants’ first game was away against the Cowboys. The Cowboys had never beaten the Giants in their  $1.2 billion stadium. However, the curse was broken this game. The Cowboys had forced 6 turnovers on the Giants including 3 interceptions by Manning. The game was atrocious for the Giants; however, nobody expected such a terrible losing streak.

The Giants then went on to lost the next consecutive 5 games:

Game 2: Giants vs. Broncos- 41-23

Games 3: Giants vs. Panthers- 38-0

Game 4: Giants vs. Chiefs- 31-7

Game 5: Giants vs. Eagles- 36-21

Game 6: Giants vs. Bears- 27-21

The Giants loss to the Panthers included 3 turnovers and was considered the worst loss of the Tom Coughlin Era. Eli Manning was tackled 6 times within the first 17 minutes of the game! The Giants’ dream of playing in their home stadium for the Super Bowl was blocked by an immense obstacle… No team has ever made the playoffs after starting 0-6. The Giants had lost hope, but their division was not strong.

The Giants won their next four games. Suddenly, the Giants were back in the race for the playoffs. Although they were ugly wins, they were wins nevertheless. The games went as follows:

Game 7: Giants vs. Vikings- 23-7

Game 8- Giants vs. Eagles- 15-7

Game 9: Giants vs. Raiders- 24-20

Game 10: Giants vs. Packers- 27-13

Despite Coughlin and Manning having a very successful period ogether, this season has been a major dissapointment Courtesy of Zimbio
Despite Coughlin and Manning having a very successful period together, this season has been a major disappointment
Courtesy of Zimbio

The Giants’ game against the Packers was an upset. A true motivational boost for the Giants. Eli Manning threw for 279 yards, Victor Cruz caught for 110 yards, and the defense forced 3 turnovers. However, a close loss to the Cowboys 24-21 caused an end to the winning streak. Although, it was a deterrent in their playoff hopes, the Giants would take fate into their own hands. The next game, the Giants defeated the Redskins, their division rival, 24-17.Lastly, this weekend, the giants lost to Phillip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers 37-14. The Giants had 3 turnovers, including 2 interceptions thrown by Manning. The Giants were down 24-0 at half time. This enormous deficit led to an inevitable loss.

Being a Giants fan, this season has been a rollercoaster. Highs and lows, ups and downs. However, it has been hard to keep faith in team. In game 15, the Giants were once again shut out. This time, it was the Seattle Seahawks, lead by QB Russell Wilson, who got the best of them. Russell Wilson threw for 206 yards compared to Eli’s weak 156 yards. Andre Brown, the running back for the Giants, only rushed for a measly 17 yards! Lastly, Eli Manning threw 5 interceptions during the game.

In Game 16 against the Lions, the Giants managed to pull out a victory to push their record to 6-9. Eli Manning threw for 256 yards, completed one touchdown pass, and only threw one interception. Furthermore, Giants’ 2011 draft pick Jerrel Jernigan had 6 receptions, one of which was a caught for a touchdown. At the end of the fourth quarter, the two teams pushed the game into overtime with the score at 20-20. The Lions received the ball first, but the giants gained possession by forcing them to punt. After a burst up the field, the Lions put a stop to the Giants’ progression by forcing a 4th down. The Giants’ Josh Brown had a clutch 45-yard field goal and won the Giants the game.

WR Jerrel Jernigan was a bright spot in an otherwise poorly played game Courtesy of Zimbio
WR Jerrel Jernigan was a bright spot in an otherwise poorly played game
Courtesy of Zimbio

In their last game of the season, The Giants played their division rival, the Washington Redskins. In my experience, this could have been the worst game of football I have ever seen. No matter who won the game, it would have been one ugly victory. The teams used the heavy downpour and cold weather as an excuse, but it did not overshadow the terrible play from both teams. In the first quarter, no team had scored. In the second quarter, the score was 10-3 Giants. With about a minute left in the first half, defensive lineman, Chris Baker, sacked Eli. During the tackle, Eli’s leg got caught under Baker’s body and he injured his ankle. After mustering enough strength to stay in the game, Eli threw an interception on the very next play! This interception led to a Washington field goal to put the score at 10-6. Eli then was carried off the field and did not play for the rest of the game. He was replaced by backup Curtis Painter. At the end of the first half with 2 seconds left on the clock, Jerrel Jernigan ran for a touchdown to put the Giants ahead 17-6. He had 6 receptions, had one touchdown, and caught for 90 yards. In my opinion, he was the MVP of the game. In the fourth quarter, Josh Brown kicked a 38-yard field goal for 20-6 lead. On the last play of the season, Trumaine McBride of the Giants intercepted a pass from backup QB for Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins. The game had ended and the Giants had won with a final score of 20-6. The Redskins lost their final game of the season on an 8 game losing streak. During the game, the teams amassed 7 turnovers, 0-5 in Red Zone attempts, and 16 sacks including 4 by defensive end Justin Tuck.

Eli’s first and last passes of the year both went for interceptions! Also, he threw only 18 touchdowns. Along with that, he threw 27 interceptions during the year including at least one interception every game of the season. The year before, he threw 15 interceptions and 26 TD passes. It seems as if the numbers had switched. This terrible season may lead to the loss of free agents like WR Hakeem Nicks and DE Justin Tuck. In conclusion, the Giants were believed to win the NFC East at the beginning of the season; however, the Eagles were ultimately the division leader.

Being a Giants fan, this season has been a rollercoaster. It was hard to keep faith in my team. Remember, this is the same team that has one the Super Bowl twice in the last few years. Moreover, next year looks like one that needs rebuilding. Tom Coughlin, the league’s oldest coach, and Eli Manning, the starting QB for over almost 10 years, have been under close watch. This year has been an anomaly for Big Blue, but with the 2014 NFL draft consisting of some very good players at all positions, their hopes may still be high for next season.