This offseason has already shown that it pays to cheat in Major League Baseball. But after just a day of heavy trading another fact is clear: It pays to swindle ignorant executives out of their undervalued players.
Monday, the Washington Nationals swiped starting pitcher Doug Fister from the Detroit Tigers for three widely-unheard of players, lefty Robbie Ray, second baseman Steve Lombardozzi, and, most notably, lefty Ian Krol, a National League pitcher who’s only redeemable stat is giving up nine walks in 27.1 innings last season.
It’s as if the Tigers thought the city of Detroit’s bankruptcy meant they had to start selling off the team like your Jnco-wearing uncle at his bi-weekly garage sale. But I’m being hard on Detroit. It’s not like utility second basemen or mediocre relief pitchers are easy to find in this league. Detroit fans are praying one of the two lefties they just acquired turns into something. Sort of like their neighborhood.
Fister, a No. 2 starter on most teams, now finds himself a No. 4 in Washington. He immediately gives the Nationals the best starting foursome in the majors: Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez, and Fister will buckle the knees of National League hitters all season. Bryce Harper is somewhere, saying “That’s a clown rotation, bro,” too cocky to realize he doesn’t have to face them, or knowing deep down that he would hit four bombs off each of them, every time he came to the plate, with or without eye-black, while doing the splits.
Then came Tuesday, when Oakland and 2013 Major League Baseball Executive of the Year Billy Beane added much-needed pieces to their bullpen, first nabbing Orioles closer Jim Johnson for minor league infielder Jemile Weeks, and a player to-be-named.
Weeks was a classic example of recent A’s call-ups dating back to Ben Grieve and Bobby Crosby, rookies who make splashes in their first season and then dive like Greg Louganis in the seasons following.
Beane was also able to get rid of platoon-outfielder-at-best Seth Smith, shipping him to San Diego in exchange for reliever Luke Gregerson. Johnson already more-than-filled the void that closer Grant Balfour’s expired contract had left, but Gregerson will help bolster the overrated A’s middle relievers: Sean Doolittle, Dan Otero, and Ryan Cook. Doolittle and Otero turn into above-average complement pieces now, and Cook’s confidence will continue to spiral down the flushing toilet known as his career after losing the closers gig he so desperately thinks he deserves.
Beane’s next move: Reconfiguring the O.co Coliseum bleachers to sit right above the outfield fence, allowing A’s fans the opportunity to reach over and steal outs away from the visiting team, turning them into home runs in the process.
The A’s also traded away their top minor leaguer, outfielder Michael Choice, and infielder Chris Bostick for Texas Rangers outfield speedster Craig Gentry and right-hander Josh Lindblom. The move is definitely of the win-now variety for the A’s, but the Rangers will look back on this in a few years and feel proud they were one organization to get the best of Beane. Choice is Texan at heart, and may end up starting at a corner outfield spot for the Rangers come July. Gentry will take Seth Smith’s place in the outfield platoon. An obvious improvement, albeit a short-term solution.
The Rays, Reds, and Diamondbacks pulled off a three-way deal, the most action those three teams had seen since September. Closer Heath Bell went from the D-Backs to the Rays in this deal and apparently the Marlins were also involved, sending cash to the Rays (guess they just wanted to watch). The Reds got lefty David Holmberg, a decent minor leaguer who was abysmal in his one-game call-up last season for the D-backs. D-backs fans are wondering why they agreed to a three-way and only got Choate (Justin Choate, Single-A righty) in return.
Lastly there was the Houston Astros getting center fielder Dexter Fowler from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for center fielder Brandon Barnes and starting pitcher Jordan Lyles. Not much to see here. Don’t feel too bad for Fowler. He goes from a hitter-friendly Coors Field to the hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park, although he’s got a fracking train, a hill, and a flag pole to worry about now. Barnes and Lyles are re-examining how they worded their nightly prayers to leave Houston, unsure if Colorado is a “winning organization.”
Trades weren’t the only thing going down Tuesday. Who needs the Winter Meetings anyway?
– Yankees signed former hated rival/injury-prone CF Jacoby Ellsbury to a ridiculous seven-year, $153 million deal because Yankees.
– Marlins signed catcher/sheepdog Jarrod Saltalamacchia to three-year, $21 million deal because Miami needs to replenish its stocks for the next fire sale.
– Red Sox signed catcher A.J. Pierzynski to a one-year deal because you really needed another reason to hate Boston.
– Closer Joe Nathan is also on the verge of signing with Detroit, which just makes a lot of sense.
– And apparently the Mariners are in the race for Robinson Cano because Yankees beat writers need more stuff to write about. Jay-Z isn’t letting his boy go to the Pacific Northwest to play on a fifth-place team.