Tag:Jason Bay
Posted on: February 28, 2012 9:43 pm
  •  
 

Spring primer: New York Mets

Terry Collins

By C. Trent Rosecrans
The Marlins made headlines with their offseason spending spree, the Phillies still have the game's most intimidating rotation, the Nationals have some of the game's biggest young talents and the Braves are a sleeper team that shouldn't be written off because of last season's late collapse. And then there's the Mets. Last season the team finished fourth in the division and went 77-85, and then they lost their best player. To say there's a lack of buzz surrounding the Mets would be an understatement.

Major additions: CF Andres Torres, CL Frank Francisco
Major departures: SS Jose Reyes, RH Chris Capuano

Probable lineup
1. Andres Torres CF
2. Daniel Murphy 2B
3. David Wright 3B
4. Ike Davis 1B
5. Lucas Duda RF
6. Jason Bay LF
7. Josh Thole C
8. Ruben Tejada SS

Probable rotation
1. Johan Santana
2. R.A. Dickey
3. Jonathon Niese
4. Mike Pelfrey
5. Dillon Gee

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Frank Francisco
Set-up: Jon Rauch, Ramon Ramirez, Bobby Parnell

Important bench players
OF Scott Hairston, IF Justin Turner

Prospect to watch
The team's top prospect is right-hander Zack Wheeler, acquired in the Carlos Beltran trade, but if he sees Citi Field this season, it'll likely be near the end of the year when the team's fate has already been decided. Outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis could contribute immediately. The 24-year-old missed the second half of the 2011 season with a torn labrum in his non-throwing (left) shoulder, but has been swinging the bat at full strength since last month. Before his injury, he was hitting .298/.403/.505 with six homers in 221 plate appearances for Triple-A Buffalo. A solid all-around player, Nieuwenhuis can play any of the three outfield sports, but center field may be where he could make his mark. The Mets have the 34-year-old Torres as the its starter in center and the 31-year-old Hairston backing him up, so it's not much of a stretch to see Nieuwenhuis get a chance sometime this season.

Fantasy sleeper: Lucas Duda
"From July 15 (about the time he took over for a departed Carlos Beltran) to the end of the season, Duda hit .322 with 10 homers and a .957 OPS -- numbers that jive with his minor-league track record. And that was at old Citi Field, complete with its big gaps, tall fences and ability to crush David Wright's spirit." -- Scott White [Full Mets fantasy team preview]

Fantasy bust: David Wright
"Over the last three seasons, he has a .284 batting average and .828 OPS, which are solid numbers but less than elite even for a third baseman. True, his struggles began the same year the Mets moved to spacious Citi Field, but that doesn't explain why his numbers have lagged on the road during that time. Thus, you can't assume the team's decision to move in the fences this year will be Wright's miracle cure. It'll help, but it won't eliminate the injuries, the perpetually rising strikeout rate and the curious home-road splits." -- Scott White [Full Mets fantasy team preview]

Optimistic outlook
Santana returns to Cy Young form and Niese takes a step forward, as the Mets pitching staff rounds into form. The new dimensions of Citi Field make a huge difference for the team's offense, with Wright and Bay returning to form, while Duda becomes a star. Even in this perfect world, the Mets could have trouble leapfrogging the Phillies, Marlins and Braves. But Bud Selig could always add another eight playoff spots, giving them a spot in the postseason.

Pessimistic outlook
Santana's injuries continue to haunt him and nobody steps up to take over at the top of the rotation. Davis isn't the same player that he was before his injury and Duda suffers from a sophomore slump, as the offense struggles overall. And then there's the chance that the problems on the field pale in comparison to the ownership problems. The worst-case scenario (well, for 2012, it's may be the best-case scenario for the long term) has a repeat of the Dodger fiasco.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: February 2, 2012 7:43 am
Edited on: February 2, 2012 7:55 am
 

Baseball's worst contracts, Part II: OF/DH



By Matt Snyder


As we continue our look at the most cumbersome contracts in baseball, today we'll look at outfielders and designated hitters. We covered the infield and catchers Wednesday and will look at pitchers Friday. As a reminder, we're looking at what is left on the contract, not what the player has been paid through the duration of the deal.

Left Field

Worst: Vernon Wells, Angels
Remaining contract: 3 years, $74 million

Man, this was a tough call because it's a crowded field (see below), but we'll go with Wells because the average annual value remaining on the contract is insane. He hit .218/.248/.412 last season and had a negative WAR, meaning a replacement-level player was better than a guy making over $25 million for the season. At age 33, he could certainly bounce back, but it's hard to see him all of a sudden becoming worth as much money as he's making.

Honorable Mention

Carl Crawford, Red Sox: There are six years and $128 million left on the deal, and I feel like many will argue that Crawford's remaining contract is worse than Wells'. I'm willing to give the 30-year-old Crawford a mulligan for his catastrophic first season in Boston. Next year at this time we'll know a lot more.

Alfonso Soriano, Cubs: Amazingly, he still has three years and $57 million left. Wow.

Jason Bay, Mets: In two seasons for the Mets, Bay has hit .251/.337/.386 (what an ugly slugging percentage for a supposed power hitter) with just 18 homers in 218 games. He still has two years and $36.25 million left, too, in addition to a $3 million buyout should the Mets not pick up his option year.

Center Field

Worst: Alex Rios, White Sox
Remaining Contract: 3 years, $38.5 million

While his teammate got much of the blame last year in terms of the White Sox's shortfall -- and you'll see him below -- Rios was pretty awful himself. He hit .227/.265/.348, which was good for a 65 OPS-plus (if you don't know what that is, trust me, it's embarrassingly bad). He actually posted a negative 1.5 WAR, meaning -- according to the stat -- that he single-handedly cost the White Sox a win and a half just by being in the lineup when he was. And now, thanks to that contract, he's untradeable.

Honorable Mention

Actually, I've got nothing here. Once one-time center fielders' contracts get too big they are usually shoved to the corners. The big-money guys here (Matt Kemp, Curtis Granderson, etc.) are fairly compensated.

Right Field

Worst: Jayson Werth, Nationals
Remaining contract: 6 years, $116 million

Very easy choice. I fully expect a bounce-back season from Werth this year, as several things didn't go his way last season. That being said, the Nationals are paying Werth like he's a superstar all the way until the season in which he turns 38. He wasn't even a superstar his last year in Philadelphia, when he was 31.

Honorable Mention

Nick Markakis, Orioles: There's a reason you only hear about other teams asking for Adam Jones in a trade and not Markakis. The latter is due $43.05 million over the next three seasons while he hit .284 with 15 homers and 73 RBI last season. You need more offense than that from a corner outfielder in order to pay him almost $15 million a year.

Designated Hitter

Worst: Adam Dunn, White Sox.
Remaining contract: 3 years, $44 million

Another easy one. Like Werth, I also expect Dunn to bounce back, but there's no way he can be good enough to earn his full contract over the next three years, especially considering how bad he was last season. He was historically awful with the bat -- there's really no need to rehash the gruesome details at this point -- and that's all he does. And if he does field, his value actually decreases because he's such a butcher with the glove.

Honorable Mention

Travis Hafner, Indians: Nitpicky here, but Pronk will make $13 million this season. He's only averaged 91 games per year the past four seasons. No one else really warrants mention, because Big Papi, for example, is still worth the big bucks.

On the Other Hand ...

Justin Upton, Diamondbacks: Thanks to an early Longoria-type extension, Upton is set to make $46.109 million over the next four seasons. He made just under $4.5 million last season, when he finished fourth in a crowded NL MVP field. Since Upton is only 24, the D-Backs will have to pony up again -- and probably in huge fashion -- to lock him up through his prime, but for now this is a very team-friendly contract.

Special Cases

Bobby Bonilla, Mets: This is both hilarious and sad at the same time. When the Mets bought out Bonilla's $5.9 million contract in 2000, they agreed to repay him with interest starting 11 years later. Beginning July 1, 2011, the Mets are paying Bonilla an annual salary of roughly $1.2 million until 2035. Or around $35 million in all. In 2012, the Mets will pay Bonilla more than the following regulars/rotation members: Daniel Murphy, Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, Josh Thole, Ruben Tejada, Jonathon Niese and Dillon Gee.

Manny Ramirez, Dodgers: We'll ignore that the Red Sox are paying Manny B. Manny $2 million per year until he's 54 because he helped bring them two World Series titles. But the Dodgers are paying Ramirez $8.33 million in 2012 and 2013. Assuming Clayton Kershaw gets more in arbitration, that means Manny will be the Dodgers' sixth highest-paid player this season. Of course, Frank McCourt is still going to make a billion dollar profit, so ...


Part I: Infielders and catchers
Part III: Pitchers, coming Friday

Source for all figures was Cot's Baseball Contracts

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.

Posted on: December 12, 2011 11:49 am
Edited on: December 12, 2011 11:56 am
 

Homegrown Team: Nationals/Expos



By Matt Snyder


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

We continue the series today with the Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos. Yeah, remember them -- the best team in baseball in 1994 before the strike ended the season without a World Series? If you don't, you'll need to be reminded of a certain Bartolo Colon trade, which ended up being awful for the Expos, who got 17 starts from Colon after coughing up three future All-Stars for him. What we see is a team that looks pretty good, but has loads of young talent either already developing in the bigs or soon to be arriving.

Lineup

1. Grady Sizemore, CF
2. Brandon Phillips, 2B
3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
4. Vladimir Guerrero, RF
5. Jason Bay, LF
6. Danny Espinosa, 1B
7. Ian Desmond, SS
8. Brian Schneider, C

Starting Rotation

1. Cliff Lee
2. Stephen Strasburg
3. Jordan Zimmermann
4. Javier Vazquez
5. John Lannan

Bullpen

Closer - Drew Storen
Set up - Bill Bray, Craig Stammen, Collin Balester, Miguel Batista
Long - Armando Galarraga, Brad Peacock, Tom Milone, Ross Detwiler

Notable Bench Players

Bryce Harper, Chris Marrero, Wilson Valdez, Anthony Rendon, Jamey Carroll, Orlando Cabrera, Geoff Blum and Roger Bernadina.

What's Good?

The starting rotation is really good, especially if you start to think about the future. Much like the real Nats, Peacock, Milone and Detwiler all have the potential to break through and really make this a strong top-to-bottom rotation. Here, you have a perennial Cy Young candidate sitting at the top, too. The batting order definitely has the potential to be good, but there are a lot of question marks, so we can't really be overly excited about it. But, much like with the rotation, there is some serious potential on the way in Harper and Rendon. Finally, the bench is really good. This team has depth.

And in case you're curious, the three All-Stars the Expos gave up for Colon were Sizemore, Phillips and Lee. None of the three had made their major-league debut at the time of the trade.

What's Not?

If we were really going to stick Vlad in right field, we'd have to pray no one hit the ball out there. Should I have gotten more creative and put Vlad at first, moving Espinosa out to right? Maybe. We could move Vlad to 1B and throw Harper into the fire, play Bernadina in the outfield and move Vlad to first or just bench Guerrero. I'm open to any idea, but the idea I used was to maximize the offense. Hey, it worked when the Cardinals put Lance Berkman in right this past real season, right? Also, Schneider is a pretty bad catching option at this point, but there were zero other options on current 40-man rosters or in free agency in the MLB (which is what we used to build these rosters). Finally, the bullpen is very thin in front of Storen in the late innings.

Comparison to real 2011

The real-life Nats are just on the cusp of breaking through, though it'll be tough in the stacked NL East. These Nats would be a bit better with the legitimate ace Lee and a great bench. Maybe mid-80s in wins, but with tons of help on the way. Much like with the real Nats, it's kind of a "watch out next year" type deal -- with the likes of Harper, Rendon, Peacock and Milone waiting in the wings while Strasburg, Zimmermann, Storen, Espinosa et al continue to get better.

Next: Boston Red Sox

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 14, 2011 7:05 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 7:07 pm
 

Rookie award may not predict future success

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Rookie of the Year awards are unique among baseball awards in that they are somewhat less about an individual year's performance as much as they are for the hope of better things to come. A Rookie of the Year win is a footnote on any Hall of Fame argument, not a bullet point. Meanwhile, any Hall of Fame argument will start with MVP wins for position players and Cy Young trophies for starting pitchers. If you have those, you have an argument, and if you won Rookie of the Year, that's nice.

Rookie of the Year
Miller
The Rookie of the Year award voting went exactly as Scott Miller predicted.
Read>>
Related links

No, Rookie of the Year is something to dream on -- there's the potential and what a player could become based upon a solid rookie year.

Jeremy Hellickson and Craig Kimbrel may end up being the best players of the 2010 rookie class, but it wouldn't be a real shock if they don't.

With that in mind, I wanted to look back on the past Rookie of the Year winners and what players had the best careers after winning the award and which ones peaked in their first year. Because this particular argument needs time for perspective, I've broken up the last 20 years in five-year increments. Below are the winners of the awards each year for both leagues, as well as their Wins Above Replacement (from Baseball-Reference.com) for both their rookie year and their career, as well as a decision on the best player in retrospect, the worst and the best duo from one year.

 

2006-2010 Rookie of the Year
Year AL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR NL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR
2010 Neftali Feliz 2.3 5.0 Buster Posey 3.1 4.4
2009 Andrew Bailey  3.9 7.2  Chris Coghlan 2.1 2.8
2008 Evan Longoria  3.8 24.1 Geovany Soto 4.1 10.1
2007 Dustin Pedroia  4.3 24.3 Ryan Braun  1.5 21.8
2006 Justin Verlander  3.7 27.2 Hanley Ramirez  5.2 29.3

Best: This is where we need perspective -- and time. Right now it looks like you could go with any of six candidates -- Justin Verlander (AL 2006), Hanley Ramirez (NL 2006), Dustin Pedroia (AL 2007), Ryan Braun (NL 2007), Evan Longoria (AL 2008) and Buster Posey (NL 2010). In 10 years this may be easier to pick, but right now it's just way too close to call. Of the group, Ramirez has the highest career WAR.

Worst: Again, this is still way too early to call, but Chris Coghlan (NL 2009) may take this dubious honor. There's plenty of time for him to turn it around, but he finished 2011 hitting .230 at Triple-A New Orleans.

Best duo: Another toss-up -- 2006 had Ramirez and Verlander, while 2007 featured Pedroia and Braun. Check back in 10 years and this may seem to be an easier choice, but right now it's too close to call.



2001-2005 Rookie of the Year
Year AL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR NL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR
2005 Huston Street 3.2 10.7 Ryan Howard 2.4 23.1
2004 Bobby Crosby 1.4 5.0 Jason Bay  2.2 19.7
2003  Angel Berroa 4.0 3.3 Dontrelle Willis 3.7 13.0
2002 Eric Hinske  4.0 10.3 Jason Jennings 1.7 7.4
2001 Ichiro Suzuki 7.6 54.5 Albert Pujols 6.9 88.7

Best: Albert Pujols (NL 2001). He may be the best player of our generation and best right-handed hitter of all time. With apologies to Ichiro Suzuki (AL 2001) and Ryan Howard (NL 2005), it's Pujols and it's not close.

Worst: Oh, Angel Berroa (AL 2003). Acquired in the deal that sent Johnny Damon and Mark Ellis to Oakland, Berroa last appeared in the big leagues in 2009. The Royals shortstop won the award over Tampa Bay's Rocco Baldelli and Hideki Matsui, earning the scorn of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. 

Best duo: Pujols and Suzuki would be a heck of a Hall of Fame class, not to mention a rookie class. Suzuki won not only the Rookie of the Year in 2001, he also took home the American League MVP.

 

1996-2000 Rookie of the Year
Year AL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR NL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR
2000 Kazuhiro Sasaki 1.5 4.0 Rafael Furcal 3.6 33.1
1999 Carlos Beltran  4.4 60.8 Scott Williamson  2.7 8.2
1998  Ben Grieve 2.5 6.7 Kerry Wood 3.7 24.9
1997 Nomar Garciaparra  5.9 42.5  Scott Rolen 4.5 66.2
1996 Derek Jeter 2.6 70.4  Todd Hollandsworth 1.3 6.5

Best: Scott Rolen (NL 1997) and Carlos Beltran (AL 1999) have had fantastic careers, but Derek Jeter (AL 1996) is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and a baseball icon. Jeter also has the highest career WAR among the group of rookies.

Worst: This one is tough, if you guy by WAR, it's Kazuhiro Sasaki (AL 2000), who had just a 4.0 career WAR. However, Sasaki was 32 when he started in the United States and played just four seasons in the majors. In addition to his Rookie of the Year, he made the All-Star team in 2001 and 2002, recording 129 saves in four seasons. I'm going to take Ben Grieve (AL 1998) slightly over Todd Hollandsworth (NL 1996) based solely on Hollandsworth holding on longer (12 years to nine) and finding his late-career niche as a pinch hitter, while Grieve did appear in the majors after his 30th birthday -- and just 17 after his 29th birthday.

Best duo: How about Rolen and Nomar Garciaparra (AL 1997)? Garciapparra never quite lived up to the rival to Alex Rodriguez and Jeter as the greatest shortstop of his generation, but he was in the conversation for a time there. While each year from 1996-2000 had at least one pretty good pick, 1997 was the only one to produce two players that finished with double-digit career WAR.



1991-1996 Rookie of the Year
Year AL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR NL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR
1995 Marty Cordova 3.0 6.4 Hideo Nomo 4.5 50.6
1994  Bob Hamelin 2.5 2.4 Raul Mondesi  2.2 27.2
1993  Tim Salmon 5.2 37.6  Mike Piazza 7.0 59.1 
1992 Pat Listach  4.5 3.9  Eric Karros 0.3 9.0
1991  Chuck Knoblauch 2.3 41.2 Jeff Bagwell 4.7 79.9

Best: WAR likes Jeff Bagwell (NL 1991), the Hall of Fame will like Mike Piazza (1993). Either way, it's tough to go wrong. Unlike the Hall of Fame voters, I'll take Bagwell over Piazza, but can see both sides of the argument. I"m in the camp that Bagwell is one of the more underrated players of his generation. 

Worst: Yet again, the award goes to a Royal. Bob Hamelin (AL 1994) had a 2.5 WAR in his rookie year and 2.4 for his career. Pat Listach (AL 1992) also has a lower career WAR (3.9) than single-season WAR for his rookie season (3.9), but the be speckled Hamelin did less in his career than Listach, even if most of Listach's value came from his rookie season.

Best duo: Again it comes down to the 1993 choices (Piazza, Tim Salmon) and 1991 (Bagwell, Chuck Knoblauch), with 1991 taking the crown. Knoblauch and Salmon both had good careers, with Knoblauch winning four rings and Salmon one. Knoblacuh was a four-time All-Star, Salmon never appeared in the game. Knoblauch also won a Gold Glove, despite his woes throwing later in his career. Going by WAR, the 1991 duo beats the 1993 pair, 121.1-96.7.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 13, 2011 3:56 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2011 6:17 pm
 

Baseball's worst contracts, zombie-style

Werth, zombie

By Evan Brunell

What are the worst contracts in baseball?

Some of them are pretty easy. The names of Vernon Wells and Barry Zito, for example, have been synonymous with horrible contracts. Others aren't as easy to ferret out, but here's one man's look at the 10 worst contracts currently in baseball. To help us figure out which contracts are awful, I turned to a TV show that knows all about things awful: The Walking Dead. Because obviously, trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic, zombie-infested world is completely comparable to the onerous contracts some teams are saddled with.

There are three categories below, inspired by scenes from The Walking Dead that are linked for your viewing enjoyment and quotes, which aren't necessarily tied to the scene in the video. (Don't worry, no spoilers, but if you haven't seen the most recent episode, skip the scene in the last category anyways.) Be warned: If you are squeamish, it's best if you don't click through. Unless you're interested in giving your wastebasket the remnants of your most recent meal.

STILL KICKING

Walking Dead scene
"It's a waste of time, all this hoping and praying." -- Daryl (season 2, episode 2)

These players are nearing the end of their awful deals, like a zombie with no legs. Just like a zombie with no legs would keep crawling along trying to eat humans alive, so do these players keep on kicking. While their contracts don't look too bad given they're of the short-term variety at this point, there's no denying that these players are still of the undead. The years remaining on the contract to qualify for this list is two or less seasons. Also, this list does not include players who were released and are still owed money, such as Aaron Rowand, due $13.6 million by the Giants in 2012.

BayJason Bay, Mets
Contract: 4 years, $66 million, $16.5 million AAV. Remaining: 2 years, $39.25 million (includes 2014's $3 million buyout)

The Red Sox thought they had Bay locked up to a deal to stay in town, but Bay balked at medical contingencies in the contract, designed to protect Boston in case Bay's knees went. That allowed the Mets to swoop in on a deal they quickly regretted, as Bay's bat vanished in Citi Field, then struggled with concussions as his batting line in 2011 sank all the way to .245/.329/.374 with 12 homers in 509 plate appearances. Even though the club is set to move in its fences, it's tough to see Bay bouncing back and earning the rest of his deal which could potentially stretch through 2014. If Bay can reach 500 PA in 2012 and '13 -- a cinch as long as he stays relatively healthy, or 600 PAs in 2013, a $17 million club option vests. That would make this deal look even worse.

LeeCarlos Lee, Astros
Contract: 6 years, $100 million, $16.67 million AAV. Remaining: 1 year, $19 million

The Astros' impending move to the AL East for the 2013 season is coming one year too late. Lee's contract is finally due to expire next season, and one has to imagine that Lee will be the last man in a long time to receive $100-plus million for being such a one-dimensional slugger that can't even hit bombs anymore unless the Crawford boxes in left help him out. At this point, Lee is taking up space that could be better allocated to young players on a rebuilding club. Lee should have been dumped in a deal by now, but he has no interest in leaving Houston and has no-trade rights.

SantanaJohan Santana, Mets
Contract: 6 years, $137.5 million, $22.9 million AAV. Remaining: 2 years, $55 million (includes 2014's $5.5 million buyout)

Santana's never really bandied about as a person with a lousy contract, but the numbers are simply stunning. After the Mets gave up a bounty (of nothingness, as it turned out) to acquire the best starter in the game from the Twins way back in 2008, Santana has given the Mets one season of transcendence. Since then, it's been a whole bunch of injuries, causing the lefty to sit out all of 2011. That means over the last three seasons, Santana's contributed just 54 starts. And it gets worse, as his deal is backloaded for an incredible $55 million coming the next two years, and no guarantee Santana can even approximate the pitcher he once was after undergoing surgery to repair an anterior capsule tear in his left shoulder. New York holds a $25 million option for 2014 that can become guaranteed based on innings pitched and finish in award voting.

ZitoBarry Zito, Giants
Contract: 7 years, $126 million, $18 million AAV. Remaining: 2 years, $46 million (includes 2014's $7 million buyout)

This contract is so bad, even the buyout of Zito's team option in 2014 is horrible. The Giants might be paying Zito $7 million simply to go away. Being paid like an ace, he's been the team's No. 5 starter the last two season and will hold that role again in 2012. The selling point to Zito, despite the regression back to being a league-average player, is the fact he can chew up innings. One problem: the 2014 option vests automatically if Zito pitches at least 200 innings in 2013 or 400 between 2012-13. That's very feasible if the Giants keep him on his regular turn through the rotation, so he might have $18 million in 2014 headed his way.

NOT SO PRETTY

Walking Dead scene
"You don't know what it's like out there. You may think you do but you don't. It's only a matter of time. There's too many of those things. My boy, my wife, I never told them what I really thought. I never even hinted, just, just kept it in, kept us moving, kept it in, kept us moving." -- Rick (season 1, episode 6)

Little girls are cute... except when they're trying to tear your flesh off. Just as in the Walking Dead, baseball has its share of onerous, undead contracts that once looked pretty but now eat up as much payroll space as they can. Here are the worst deals left with less than five years remaining.

LackeyJohn Lackey, Red Sox
Contract
: 5 years, $82.5 million, $16.5 million average annual value (AAV). Remaining: 3 years, $47.85 million

Even though he has yet to reach the halfway mark of his deal, this contract already ranks as one of the worst in baseball history. The Red Sox thought they were getting a fiery, innings-eating No. 2 starter. Instead, what they've received is one of the worst pitchers in the game who shows up his teammates on the field. And now he'll be missing all of 2012 due to Tommy John surgery. That means, through three years of the deal, Lackey will have given Boston a 5.26 ERA in 61 starts. The only saving value to this deal is the surgery will kick in an additional year at the league minimum Lackey must play at, which will drag down his AAV and give Boston a couple extra million below the luxury tax to play with.

SorianoAlfonso Soriano, Cubs
Contract: 8 years, $136 million, $17 million AAV. Remaining: 3 years, $57 million

Soriano has kept up his home-run production since moving to Chicago, but his bat has slowed to the point where he's lucky if he cracks the .250 barrier in batting average. That wouldn't be such a big deal if the man knew how to take a walk once in a while, but he doesn't, as evidenced by his .289 OBP. New Cubs president Theo Epstein is going to be taking a lot of heart medicine these next three seasons as he watches Soriano clank balls in left field and stifle rallies with his inability to draw a walk. The Cubs appear as if they're going to enter a retooling period, so at least Soriano isn't holding them back from contending. But then again, that's exactly what he's done to Chicago the last couple years.
 
WellsVernon Wells, Angels
Contract: 7 years, $126 million, $18 million AAV. Remaining: 3 years, $72.96 million

Patience, Jerry Dipoto. Just keep telling yourself it's just three years. Dipoto, the new Angels GM, will have a challenge to build a winning club that includes Wells and his yoke of a contract that doesn't even tell the full story. For crying out loud, Wells is slated to receive $24.6 million each of the next three seasons. For comparison, only Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Howard will earn more on a AAV basis than Wells will receive through the end of his contract. Back when the deal was signed, Wells was poised to be one of the best players in the game moving forward. Now? He's essentially Alfonso Soriano, but with a much worse deal. How someone can have an OBP under .250 and still collect over 500 plate appearances is baffling. It will be a shock if Wells can finish out the deal without being released.

GUTS EVERYWHERE

Walking Dead scene
"Good thing we didn't do anything stupid like shoot it." -- T-Dog being sarcastic (season 2, episode 4)


These contracts are the worst of the worst. It's almost like being a zombie stuck in a water well for weeks, then finally getting dragged out of the well only to split in half and spew its guts everywhere. In other words, fans of these teams have nothing but good things to look forward to.

HowardRyan Howard, Phillies
Contract: 5 years, $125 million, $25 million AAV. Remaining: This deal kicks in for 2012.

Howard was once a very, very good player that had his career held back due to the presence of Jim Thome in town. When he finally earned the right to play every day, he started mashing and just wouldn't stop. So what did GM Ruben Amaro do? Simple. He gave Ryan Howard one of the richest deals in baseball history... two full seasons before it was set to kick in. And what's happened in those two full years? Well, Howard's essentially become a platoon player who can't field and whose bat has slowed to the point where he can't be considered an elite first baseman anymore. And this is someone who will miss the beginning of 2012 thanks to an Achilles tear that could torpedo his career. His lucrative contract, which will leave him behind just Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez for the highest AAV in baseball history, is just beginning. By the way, he has a 2017 team option for $23 million that will hand him a whopping $10 million in a buyout.

RodriguezAlex Rodriguez, Yankees
Contract: 10 years, $275 million $27.5 million AAV. $30 million due if he hits home-run milestones. Remaining: 6 years, $143 million (plus milestones)

There's no question Rodriguez has been a fantastic player, steroids or not, and he'll retire as one of the best players in the game of baseball. But his 10-year deal with the Yankees was silly when it was signed and it's even sillier now. Coming off what A-Rod called the worst season of his career, the Yankees are suddenly staring at $143 million over the next six years being given to a DH who is lucky if he can reach 30 home runs and 100 RBI. Rodriguez is simply not the same player he once was, and instead of being in his own class these days, he's now merely "very good." And you don't want "very good" from a player earning millions through age 42.

WerthJayson Werth, Nationals
Contract: 7 years, $126 million, $18 million AAV. Remaining: 6 years, $115.4 million

Here's one number to avoid in baseball: 126. That's exactly how much money (in millions, of course) Zito and Wells are receiving to be money drains for the club. And now Werth gets to be a money drain, and he still has so much more due to him after playing 2011 at $10.6 million. You can't blame Werth, who also (of course) has a no-trade clause, for accepting such a deal. It was obviously a gross overpayment that no one was going to match, but it's hard to envision what the Nats were thinking. Yes, they wanted to make a statement. But was someone set to play 2011 at age 32  with notable platoon splits really the man to make a splash with? The right fielder will likely bounce back from his .232/.330/.389 line set in his first year with Washington, but he will never justify this contract.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
The Walking Dead photo courtesy the show's download page available to public.
Posted on: November 6, 2011 6:44 pm
 

Wrong time for Mets to deal Wright

David Wright

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The hot stove sometimes takes a little while to warm up and the first couple of weeks of November are often more of a lukewarm stove -- and the kindling that is a David Wright rumor shouldn't stoke the flames too much.

On the surface, it's the type of rumor that should draw newspaper headlines -- the Mets "listening" to offers on Wright, the fallen star in New York. Sure, the Mets will obviously listen on offers for Wright, they'd be fools not to listen -- especially with a number of teams needing a third baseman.

The Angels, Cubs, Phillies and Rockies could all be searching for a new third baseman. So could the Brewers, Marlins and Tigers. Wright won't be 30 for another year and he already has four All-Star Games, two Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers on his mantle. There will always be a demand for a player like Wright -- especially in a free-agent market that has just one top-flight third baseman available.

The problem is, now is certainly not the time for the Mets to deal him -- listen, sure, but not pull the trigger. You don't sell low, and right now Wright is low, lower than he's ever been. He's coming off his worst offensive season of his career, hitting just .254/.345/.427 with 14 home runs and missed 58 games due to a stress fracture in his lower back. His 102 games played were the fewest since his rookie year of 2004 when he was called up after the All-Star break. Anyone taking Wright now is doing it for a steal -- and salary relief for the Mets.

A National League executive told Andy Martino of the New York Daily News that Mets general manager Sandy Alderson would have to be "bowled over" to deal Wright this winter. That's unlikely to happen.

Wright will make $15 million in 2012 and the Mets have a $16 million option with a $1 million buyout for 2013. Wright can void that option if he's traded, making him little more than a rental if he's traded during the season. That would hurt his value at the deadline, but nothing like the questions surrounding his health and recent production coming off his pedestrian 2011.

Despite the talks of Wright being on the market, the Mets first move for 2012 was a giant flashing sign saying they'll keep Wright. Last week the team announced that not only will they move the walls in at Citi Field, they'll also lower them. The changes, whether the Mets will say so or not, are meant to help Wright.

In the three seasons since Citi Field opened, Wright has hit just .279/.377/.449 with an average of just more than seven home runs a season at home. At Shea Stadium. Wright hit .318/.403/.555 and averaged 29 homers per season from 2005-08, with at least half of those coming at home. The most he's hit in a season at Citi Field is 12, when he hit 29 total homers in 2010.

"You'd be lying if you said you enjoyed hitting at Citi Field," Wright told ESPNNewYork.com last week. "I don't think anybody would say they enjoyed hitting in such a pitchers' ballpark. I don't think we ever looked at the field and it intimidated us. But obviously it's frustrating at times when you hit a ball good and you don't see the results that you want to see." 

Of course it's not just Wright, Citi Field allowed just 1.43 home runs per game, the lowest in the majors over its first three years. Other Mets can benefit (notably Jason Bay), but the Mets could benefit the most from an increased offensive output from Wright. If Wright flourishes in the new park, then his stock could would be much higher than it is now. If he doesn't put up significantly better numbers, that trade value is unlikely to change from where it is now.

Wright can still be one of the premier third basemen in baseball, but right now he's a .254 hitter with 14 homers -- that with a $15 million price tag doesn't bring back elite prospects. If Wright finds the new Citi Field to his liking, he can be an impact player for the Mets -- and their future. Wright won't be a Met forever, but he should be one on opening day.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 31, 2011 2:18 pm
Edited on: October 31, 2011 5:59 pm
 

Mets bringing in, lowering Citi Field wall



By Matt Snyder


Moving the outfield walls in to make Citi Field more hitter-friendly has been discussed pretty much since the ballpark opened and started sucking the power from the Mets' lineup. Whether it was among fans, sports talk radio or people who actual have decision-making power, the dearth of home runs has long been a subject when it comes to how Citi Field plays. And it's all about to change.

The Mets announced Monday they are moving in the walls in several areas and the new wall will be blue. Check out the graphic above, which was provided by the Mets. The blue lines are where the new walls will be, while the orange lines depict the position of the original walls.

From the press release:
The Mets will erect a new wall in leftfield starting between the New Era and Caesars signs and angled to the Citi sign in left-centerfield (see attached renderings). The new wall will be closer to home plate by approximately 4 feet in leftfield and up to approximately 12 feet in deep left-centerfield.

A new wall will start in right-centerfield and extend toward the bullpen, and be as much as approximately 11 feet closer to home plate. The fence in front of the Mo’s Zone/Modell’s Clubhouse will move in approximately 10 feet. The distances from home plate to centerfield and the foul poles in leftfield and rightfield will remain the same.

“We wanted to make Citi Field fair to both pitchers and hitters,” said Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson.

“After conferring with Sandy and all members of his staff, Ownership concurred with the recommendation to change the dimensions at Citi Field,” said Mets COO Jeff Wilpon. “We decided to change the outfield wall from black to Mets blue, which many of our fans have wanted.”

As a result of moving the walls in, the Mets will create a unique seating section in leftfield between the new and existing wall to accommodate about 100 fans. The club will also expand the Modell’s Clubhouse in rightfield to incorporate an outdoor seating area for approximately 40 additional fans.
Citi Field was last in the majors in home runs during its first three seasons with an average of 1.43 per game.

One player in particular has gotten tons of attention for his lack of power: All-Star third baseman David Wright.

Wright averaged 29 homers per year from 2005-2008. He hit just 10 home runs in 2009 and 14 last season (in just 102 games). He did hit 29 homers in 2010, but 17 of those came on the road. So he's seen a dip.

"Any time you talk to a hitter about making a park more hitter-friendly, it's a thing that we're all for," Wright said about the changes to ESPN New York. "I very briefly looked at the pictures and those dimensions and everything. It just looks, obviously, fair.

"You'd be lying if you said you enjoyed hitting at Citi Field," he added. "I don't think anybody would say they enjoyed hitting in such a pitchers' ballpark. I don't think we ever looked at the field and it intimidated us. But obviously it's frustrating at times when you hit a ball good and you don't see the results that you want to see."

It's not just Wright, though. What about Jason Bay, for example?

Since signing with the Mets as a free agent, Bay has fallen apart. He hit 36 home runs with 119 RBI and a .921 OPS for the Red Sox in 2009. For the Mets he has 18 home runs, 104 RBI and a .723 OPS in 218 games.

Obviously the move will alter the ballpark and benefit opposing hitters as well -- not to mention that there are other factors at play for the likes of Bay and Wright -- but I've got to believe this helps the psyche of the Mets' position players. It would be awfully hard to play in a park where fly balls go to die for 81 games a season. Just ask the Padres.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 22, 2011 9:48 am
 

Heating up in October

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Which players are hitting better in October than in the regular season? Our David Fung wanted to know, and did this graphic.



Get more of Fung at fungraphs.tumblr.com and on Twitter at @cobradave.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com