The Texas Rangers recently signed Matt Harrison to a five-year extension, worth $55 million, keeping the All Star left hander in Arlington through 2018. The first two years of the contract, which buy out his remaining years of arbitration, will net Harrison $13 million combined. While the final three years of the contract will earn him $13 million a season.
Harrison, 27, led the team in wins last season at 18. He has proved he can stay healthy and consistent which has plagued many of his teammates in the rotation. Over the last two seasons he has pitched nearly 400 innings, setting a career high in 2012 with 213 1/3 innings, with a 3.34 ERA.
The Rangers now have a core rotation with ages of 27 (Harrison), 29 (Ogando), 26 (Darvish), 26 (Holland). Three of which are signed through 2016.
Last offseason the Rangers won the bidding rights for 25-year-old right-handed pitcher Yu Darvish who they then signed for 6 years. Then right before the start of last season they agreed to a five-year contract extension with left hander Derek Holland who was slated to become a free agent after the 2015 season.
The Rangers have had an extremely hard time of bringing in free agent pitchers in the past and locking up their younger pitchers has been of extreme importance in recent years. So having Darvish, Harrison, and Holland locked up through what should be the prime of their careers should lead to rotation stability for the next few seasons.
I’m not saying that all or any of these guys will be in the rotation in 2016 but having that much stability is something this franchise has been desperately missing for many years. Knowing what their rotation has for the next few seasons affords this team much more flexibility than it has previously had.
A lot of players on this team are the same guys who came within one strike, TWICE, of winning the World Series. So locking up as many of these young players should be the franchises first priority. Next that needs to be signed is Elvis Andrus.
It’s that time of year again. That time when you realize your resolution to lose 30 pounds failed – in fact, we gained 30, didn’t we? When your declaration that your vampire novel would finally be finished and sent to the publisher, never got off the shelf.
Or that your dream of visiting Tahiti ended up being a shady motel for a weekend in Oakland on business.
Now that we’ve set a bleak mood, here’s the point: It’s New Years resolution time. We will all be making them, whether it’s private or public. And likewise, our favorite MLB teams must have one resolution they are aiming to accomplish in 2013.
Since we survived the apocalypse for now, here are Three Up, Three Down’s resolutions for every MLB team:
Texas Rangers – Make a new friend – The Rangers either shopped in the wrong place or got screwed over for every player on their Christmas wish list. It’s not too late to snag Justin Upton from the D’Backs, though it gets less likely with each passing day. Texas should be going after the powerful right fielder hard in January.
Los Angeles Angels – Make a little money – Hear me out. Everyone knows that Arte Moreno and his Angels are filthy rich, but do they really have enough left over to re-work the decimated starting rotation? Trading for Jason Vargas was a nice touch, but will Vargas, Joe Blanton and Tommy Hanson really replace Zack Greinke, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana?
Oakland A’s – Move to a better ‘hood – Lew Wolff is fooling nobody. Because everyone and their mother knows that o.Co Coliseum is not a viable venue for a professional baseball team. Wolff claims he wants at least another half-decade in Oakland, but I’m calling his bluff. Their resolution should be to get OUT, and fast.
Seattle Mariners – Bulk up – No, not on the Bartolo Colon diet. The M’s took a good first step toward that workout regimen by trading for Kendrys Morales. But just because that punch-less offense now benches the bar doesn’t mean opponents will quiver with fear. The M’s need to go out and get some more power to legitimize those playoff hopes.
Houston Astros – Graduate – It’s no secret that the ‘Stros are a big work in progress. Moving to what was last year’s best division in baseball isn’t going to help things. While the other four teams in the division are – at the very least – grown men, Houston is struggling to graduate from a student to a serious businessman. Can they take that step in 2013?
Detroit Tigers – Learn to close – Take this as you may. There are thousands of frat boys in America resolving to improve in the same fashion next year. But I meant it as a nod to the Tigers getting handled in a sweep in the World Series in 2012. Adding Torii Hunter and bringing back Anibal Sanchez were big steps, but 2013 will be a failure without redemption.
Kansas City Royals – Become a “cool kid” – Oh, don’t pretend like you weren’t aspiring to be one your whole academic life. The Royals got some nice clothes and a haircut over the winter vacation, and are looking to butt their way into the “in” crowd. In baseball speak, that means they are aiming to be the new playoff darlings after adding much-needed pitching.
Cleveland Indians – Get along with Dad – The relationship wasn’t that bad before, but the Indians sure would like to impress new skipper Terry Francona in 2013. Cleveland is loaded with untapped potential, and they are hoping to play well for a full season to show their manager and fans that they are serious about this job.
Chicago White Sox – Prove everyone wrong – Wait, didn’t they do that last year? Sure, but people like me are still unconvinced. Their numbers were unexpectedly good, but that just makes the boss curious. Can they repeat? Do they actually deserve the promotion? The Chisox sure would like to move on up, but they will have a tough road.
Minnesota Twins – Get back on their feet – Plenty of people have to resolve to do this every year. Whether it be an economic downturn, family problem, or injury, some years are just destined to be awful. The Twins know they won’t contend in 2013, but they can start the grueling process of getting back to a stable place.
New York Yankees – Forgiveness – They better learn how, because former public enemy number one, Kevin Youkilis, will be manning third base for the Yanks in 2013. What this really means, is that if Youk bounces back and has a good year, the Yanks will forget all about their problems, and likely return to the postseason.
Boston Red Sox – Get cleaned up – This kind of resolution is usually reserved for a junkie of some kind, but it’ll fit nicely with the BoSox here. Boston got so far off track last season that they traded away millions of dollars in bad contracts for below-average prospects. Once they finish cutting out the rot, the Sox might contend again, even in this division.
Toronto Blue Jays – Build an empire – Such a wish is much more foreboding when applied to business in the real world, but opponents of the Jays should really be terrified of the changes this team has made. Their one and only goal with so many major acquisitions must be to not only make the playoffs, but to dominate everyone on the way.
Tampa Bay Rays – Try something crazy – I want to go skydiving, or hike a volcano, or start a band. The Rays, however, should do a whole different kind of crazy. Start Wil Myers in the big leagues, and see if it takes off. The kid is ready, and the lineup needs a boost. Anything remotely good from Myers may mean a playoff berth for Tampa.
Baltimore Orioles – Update the security system – In this day and age, you can’t be too careful with home security. I’m not talking a drawbridge and moat, but we’ve learned that the best teams are thriving because of good pitching staffs, to protect any other weaknesses they may have. Baltimore NEEDS a couple starting pitchers.
Los Angeles Dodgers – Give to charity – I swear, this isn’t even a “rich ownership” joke. Okay, it kind of is. But with all the money this team has shelled out over the past ten or so months, why isn’t their most deserving commodity seeing any of it? They keep talking about an extension for Clayton Kershaw, but show the fans you mean business!
San Francisco Giants – Share with friends – Not the World Series title itself, although this Dodgers fan would appreciate them passing that honor along next season. I’m talking about the Giants sharing with their San Francisco cohort, the 49ers. As the new year starts, the 49ers will be in contention for a title of their own, and any advice would be great.
Arizona Diamondbacks – Cut ties with a family member – Sometimes it’s just necessary. You hate to see anyone secede from the clan, but signing free agent outfielder Cody Ross makes it inevitable. Will it be Upton? Adam Eaton, Jason Kubel or Gerardo Parra? One will need to go, and it’s only a matter of time before they get dumped.
Colorado Rockies – Get health insurance – I know, I know. It’s not affordable in this country anymore. That’s one thing I won’t argue! But you have to think, given the regularity of major injuries to Colorado’s best players (Michael Cuddyer, Troy Tulowitzki, etc.) they would find any way to keep everyone off the DL.
San Diego Padres – Earn a promotion – Any opponents who take the Padres lightly in 2013 are foolish. With Chase Headley, Alexi Amarista and Yonder Alonso backing an underrated pitching staff, San Diego could be the A’s of 2013. They will have to fight and scrap their way to get there, though.
Cincinnati Reds – Follow through – This is a tough one for any given person to accomplish. We make all sorts of promises to ourselves that oftentimes go unfinished. The Reds have made a silent pact to be even better than they were last year, and finally achieve what they’ve been on the brink of for years now. They might be the team to beat in the NL next year.
St. Louis Cardinals – Rekindle the flame – In a non-romantic way, of course. One of the reasons the Cardinals were able to shock fans everywhere and make that insane title run in 2011 was the clutch gene. They weren’t missing it last year, but everything was just too inconsistent in St. Louis. If they rediscover their balance and passion, watch out everyone else.
Milwaukee Brewers – Be a good parent – Confused? Good. The Brewers almost clawed their way all the way back into a Wild Card slot in 2012 after a dismal, bullpen-failure-laden start to the year. With a loaded lineup and above average pitching staff, this should not happen again. So their resolution is to help tutor young shortstop Jean Segura into a star.
Pittsburgh Pirates – Improve their grades – The Pirates were so close to being eligible last year. Not for the playoffs, or any nonsense like that. But to finally getting over the hump. Pittsburgh needs a 2.0 to be eligible – in this case, they need 81 wins – to be taken seriously. Will they reach the .500 mark? A slight improvement in 2013 will do it!
Chicago Cubs – Change their image – There really is no changing an entire image built around loss and devastation, as Cubs fans have known all too well for over a century. But even a slight uptick in wins and a breakout season from one of their young stars (Brett Jackson, maybe?) will at least give people hope that they can change.
Washington Nationals – Make up – Adam LaRoche needs to be back in D.C. for 2013. All he wants is one extra year on a contract he has more than earned. Without a doubt, he was the most consistent hitter on the best team in the league in 2012, and should get paid as such. My New Years advice to the Nats is to make up with him. Sign the guy for three years.
Atlanta Braves – Learn acceptance – I remember being taught in psychology that the standard grieving process goes Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Braves fans and any good fan anywhere are surely coming out of the Depression stage right now (I know I am) and trying to transition into Acceptance at the fact that Chipper Jones has retired.
Philadelphia Phillies – Become more patient – This is easier said than done for anyone, but it’s especially pertinent in Philadelphia. From an outsider’s perspective, I thought Philadelphia was caving into a sinkhole given the fans general reaction to last season’s debacle. Patience, Phillie fanatics. Your team is still very, very good. They are close, too.
New York Mets – Have more fun – I presume life as a Mets fan hasn’t been very enjoyable for the past three seasons – well, at least after the All-Star break. But they re-signed poster boy David Wright and gained some really solid prospects in the R.A. Dickey trade. Everything is headed in the right direction, Mets fans. Just calm down and have a little fun with it.
Miami Marlins – Make amends with people – Strange, you say? Au contraire! The smaller fan base that follows the Marlins are no doubt let down by the shocking fire sale that took place this winter. No more executive-speak, front office. Give it to the fans, and your best remaining player Giancarlo Stanton, straight. What is the plan? Honesty will take you far.
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
In today’s edition of Grade That Trade! we have three very young, talented teams swapping players. It looks like the Marlins got sick of Heath Bell thinking that walking OTHER people would help burn calories. But that contract was surely burning a hole through Jeffrey Loria’s pockets.
Bell was shipped off to Arizona, to join a bullpen that actually didn’t need that much help. Miami ate $8 million of the $21 million left on Bell’s contract, and received a highly-ranked third base prospect, Yordy Cabrera (no relation to Miguel – I checked), from the Oakland A’s to complete their end of the deal.
Aside from taking on the behemoth contract of Bell, the D’Backs snatched middle infielder Cliff Pennington from the A’s, and sent outfielder Chris Young to Oakland. Whew, that was a doozy. Let me break this down for you:
3B Yordy Cabrera (Single-A)
RP Heath Bell
SS/2B Cliff Pennington
OF Chris Young
This trade has a lot of question marks surrounding it, a lot of bad contract cash flowing through it, and plenty of very interesting theories because of it. For example, who the hell is Yordy Cabrera? According to friends of the organization, he is “pretty damn good.”
When looking at his stats, I have to question if my sources were tailgating for college football all day – Cabrera’s best season was 2011, when he hit .231 with 6 homers, 47 RBI and 23 stolen bases (he also had 21 doubles and 5 triples in 359 at-bats). His on-base percentage was below .300 and his OPS was a staggeringly-low .664 that year (.625 in 2012).
I can’t deny that on paper, the kid has potential. At 6’1″, 205 pounds, only 22 years old with gap power and speed, you’ve got to like what he could become. But he better play some solid defense if he’s not going to develop into a serviceable Major League third baseman some day.
If Cabrera has his head on straight, you could be looking at a player who turns the doubles into homers, cuts down on strike outs and steals 30 bags a year. That could equate to a mid to high-.200’s hitter with 15 homers and 30 stolen bases. Time will tell, but the Marlins could have turned Bell in for scrap metal if Cabrera doesn’t pan out.
The most interesting question for me is what the A’s are going to do now with such a crowded, talented outfield. My gut says there is no way they can cut ties with the heart and soul of that lineup, Coco Crisp. He was a spark plug down the stretch and proved that when healthy, he’s one of the best leadoff hitters in baseball.
That being said, with the immensely talented (yet always hurt or underperforming) Chris Young on board, there are four starting outfielders for three spots. We know Billy Beane isn’t crazy enough to trade away Josh Reddick or Yoenis Cespedes, but is he possibly thinking of swapping Young back to someone for some prospects?
Oakland could use a few infield bats to develop, as their outfield looks set for the near future. But the A’s have question marks at catcher and second base (depending on how Jemile Weeks bounces back), and could use a solid, every day first baseman. One thing this move means for sure, is that Stephen Drew will likely be sticking around in Oakland with Pennington out.
As for Arizona. Oh, Arizona. I’m not sure I understand the moves they made at all. Not only did they take on $13 million of an overweight, over the hill relief pitcher’s contract, but they paid part of Young’s contract to send him to Oakland. They essentially swapped Drew for Pennington (the A’s picked up Drew from the D’backs in the middle of the regular season), which is a huge down grade. AND they lost Young, who has 30/30 potential if he can play a full, healthy, focused season.
Not only do the moves puzzle me, but I don’t see how they made the Diamondbacks a better team at all. Maybe Arizona has some tricks up it’s sleeves, because they usually make very savvy moves. Justin Upton could be the next outfielder out the door, leaving an outfield of Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra and Adam Eaton in the desert.
Sure, it’s not a bad outfield – but it was a lot better with Young and Upton there (assuming Upton gets moved). Either way, I have to grade this trade on what has happened, not what might happen. And for that, I give the following marks:
Oakland A’s: B+
The A’s now have a crowded outfield with a lot of options, and plenty of curious fans. What comes next for Billy Beane? Getting rid of Pennington was a long time coming, but now they are short on infield depth. If Yordy Cabrera does pan out, they might kick themselves down the road. Then again, this team proved it can win now. So I applaud the move to bring in immediate help.
Miami Marlins: A-
Sure, they got a Single-A infielder who got on base at a worse clip than Juan Uribe does, but he is only 22. There is plenty of room for Cabrera to turn into a great player. It depends how they develop him. Getting rid of Heath Bell and his ridiculous contract is reason enough for the Marlins’ front office to celebrate.
Arizona Diamondbacks: D+
I just don’t get it. Trade away an outfielder who could have star potential, just because you’re tired of waiting. In return, take on a big contract for an old, declining reliever and a slick-fielding, yet offensively inept middle infielder? Unless G.M. Kevin Towers has some tricks up his sleeve, this will remain a head scratcher.
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)