What the Beltre Signing Means for Texas

7 01 2011

After settling for a short-term deal last off-season, Beltre finally gets his big contract.

Posted by BaconSlayer09

You know that saying, “you learn something new every day”?  Well today, I learned that Adrian Beltre doesn’t like to be touched in certain places (don’t know what this is about? See this). And no, I’m not talking about down there. Although it might be interesting to know Beltre did get his left nut obliterated by a baseball once. See you learned two things today and both have to do with Adrian Beltre.

However, the majority of this post will have nothing to do with where Adrian Beltre prefers to get touched or whether or not he still has a testicle remaining. Instead, I’ll be breaking down that nice 5 year $80 million deal he just got from the Rangers and how Beltre will impact the Rangers this upcoming season. It looks like you’ll be learning more than just two things from me today.

Adrian Beltre is one of the premier third baseman in baseball and the contract he got doesn’t really surprise me. Here’s the breakdown of the contract – 2011: $14MM, 2012: $15MM, 2013: $16MM, 2014: $17MM, 2015: $18MM, and a $16 million vesting option for 2016 with a bunch of ways for the Rangers to avoid it. So there’s at least $80 million guaranteed in this deal. By today’s standards at $4.5 million per win, this expects Beltre to an 18 WAR player over the longevity of the contract. However, that’s a very inaccurate figure since we need to take inflation into account. Using Bill James and CAIRO projections for 2011, we can get an idea of how much Beltre will be worth this upcoming season. We will then regress his WAR by .5 each year (since he’s getting up there in age). At the same time, we will inflate the value of a win by 6% each year. This is a rough estimate of his value throughout the entirety of the contract.

2011: 5.0 WAR ($22.5MM)
2012: 4.5 WAR ($21.5MM)
2013: 4 WAR ($20.2MM)
2014: 3.5 WAR ($18.6MM)
2015: 3 WAR ($16.9MM)
2016: 2.5 WAR ($15MM)

From the looks of this rough estimate, Beltre’s value will exceed his contract every season until the last guaranteed year of his contract. He will likely not be worth his $16 million vesting option. Overall, Beltre brings $115 million of value in 6 years and $100 million in 5 years. So the Rangers’ net gain will be around $20 million in both scenarios. Now this is considering Beltre ages well and doesn’t suffer any crippling injuries. I can’t see into the future, but given Beltre’s pretty clean injury history, this should be a fairly accurate model. If these educated guesstimates are what’s going to happen, then the Rangers just got themselves a pretty good bargain on one of the best 3B in baseball.

Enough about five years down the road, the question now is how does he impact the Rangers in 2011? By combining CAIRO and Bill James projections for 2011, I took a look at just how good the Rangers’ lineup will be using Baseball Musing’s Lineup Analyzer.

1. SS Andrus
2. 2B Kinsler
3. LF Hamilton
4. RF Cruz
5. 3B Beltre
6. DH Young
7. 1B Moreland
8. C Torrealba
9. CF Borbon

This lineup averages 5.18 runs per game. If you replace Beltre with Guerrero and swap spots with Nelson Cruz, that lineup would produce 5.25 runs. The .07 run difference per game results in a difference of 11.3 runs per 162 games.

Beltre has been fairly inconsistent as a hitter. He seems to hit extremely well in contract years.

But that’s not all, you also have to take defense into consideration since Michael Young is now a DH and Beltre will be the starting 3B. No matter what the Gold Glove voters tell you, Michael Young is not a good fielder. Tom Tango’s fan scouting reports had Young as a -9 defender last season. Young’s total UZR in the past two seasons at 3B is -13. John Dewan’s DRS hates him the most, giving him a -31 rating over the past two seasons. If you combine these three, Young’s around a -9 defender at 3B.

On the other hand, pretty much everyone agrees that Adrian Beltre is one of the best defensive 3B around. Beltre’s total UZR in the past three seasons is 37.5, his DRS is a +55, and the fans say he’s saved 30 runs over the past two seasons. Put these three things together and Beltre averages out to be a +15 defender at 3B. Therefore, the difference between Young and Beltre on defense is around 24 runs.

In order to evaluate the net impact, we subtract the 11.3 run difference between having Beltre on offense instead of Guerrero from the 24 run difference between Beltre and Young’s defense. In the end, we end up with a number of 12.7, or something around 1.3 wins. Those 1.3 wins are worth $5.85 million in value for 2011. Beltre’s salary is $14 million this upcoming season. Therefore, Beltre’s if we subtract Beltre’s surplus value from his salary, we then end up with the salary that Guerrero should sign for in order for the Rangers to break even for 2011. That specific number is $8.15 million. After Guerrero’s bounce-back season last year, it would not surprise me if a team gives Guerrero $8 million, if not more.

So technically, it’s a wash for this season in terms of money. The Rangers end up gaining 1 win in signing Beltre instead of Guerrero and they also don’t overspend a ridiculous amount this season. If Beltre performs like he is projected this season and then does not regress more than the model I posted above, this is a very good deal for the Rangers in the short term and the long term.

Now, if you didn’t click on the link I posted above, here’s part of what you missed.

Beltre's signing probably means Rangers players shouldn't try to touch his head...

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Revisiting the Cliff Lee Trade: Part Three

7 12 2010

Posted by Teix4MVP

So as Wilchiro and MagicSox have already told you, Cliff Lee has been traded along for prospects and whatnot, and he has performed well everywhere he went, whether it be in Philly or Seattle, or Cleveland. After the addition of Lee to the Mariners, many picked them to win the AL West. However, when the Mariners were quickly smacked out of contention, they decided to trade their second ace, who they would lose to free agency after the season.

It was hard to see Lee go, but M's fans knew it was all for the good.

At first, it looked like the Yankees were going to get him (I remember refreshing the website MLB Trade Rumors every 10-20 minutes just to see if they’d get a deal done) with a package centered around top 5 prospect, catcher Jesus Montero. The deal looked done; that is, until the Mariners opened up conversations with the Rangers again after they apparently didn’t like the package that also included prospect David Adams and probably Zach McAllister (who was later dealt for Austin Kearns) and liked a package centered around Justin Smoak more, along with guys like Blake Beavan, Matthew Lawson, and of course, the now-infamous Josh Lueke. They made the deal, sending Lee (and an out-for-the-season Mark Lowe) to the Rangers on July 9th, So, I’m going to break down the players as they’ve progressed through this year. Let’s start with the player(s) the Rangers got.

The Texas Rangers received:

Cliff Lee (and cash)

The 32-year-old Cliff Lee didn’t perform as well as expected in Texas. He went 4-6, had a 3.98 ERA, and saw his WHIP jump to 1.058 from .945.  His BB/9 went from .5 to 1.0, and his SO/BB dropped from a godly 14.83 to 8.00. His September was pretty good, as he went 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA, but in August he went 1-4 and had a 6.35 ERA. He was a great clubhouse presence for the upstart Rangers, and he led them straight to the World Series in the Playoffs. He defeated two of the best offenses in baseball, the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees, easily, giving up just 2 ERs in 24 innings pitched. He allowed just 14 baserunners (he had just one walk allowed) and he struck out 34 batters. And just like that, Lee and the Rangers had reached the World Series, the first the franchise had reached against the San Francisco Giants. The Rangers looked like the favorites to many, particularly because of their ace, Clifford Phifer Lee, and he was starting Game 1. He was 7-0 in his career during the playoffs, and he looked to improve to 8-0 against the Giants hitters, who didn’t have a 30 HR guy.

Or a 100-RBI guy.

Or even a 90-RBI guy.

They DID end up showing Cliff Lee what it was like to lose, actually handing him 2 losses and a 6.94 ERA. He had an over 10 WHIP, compared to a .375 WHIP against the Yankees and a .688 against the Rays. And just like that, the Rangers had lost their first World Series, and their ace was sent towards his first huge payday and a decision of what team to join next season.

Mark Lowe

This was an interesting addition to the trade. Lowe was out for the season with a back surgery, but managed to make it back at the very end of the regular season, pitching in 3 games but had a 12.00 ERA. In the postseason, he pitched in 2 games, and gave up 5 earned runs. At age 27, he isn’t a prospect player, so he was included in the deal as a probable throw-in, although the Rangers want him. He’s arbitration-eligible, so look for him to  be in the Rangers plans for 2011.

Mark Lowe has a fastball that reaches 100 MPH at times, and he could be an elite pitcher in the Texas bullpen in 2011.

The Rangers’ GM Daniels was widely praised for making this deal, as he greatly improved his team’s chances to make it to the playoffs but also did it without giving up any of his blue chip minors prospects. Lee was the obvious prize of the trade, but look for Lowe next season, as he’s one year removed from 75 appearances and a 3.26 ERA, although that should go up due to the park he’s now pitching in. The Rangers have the financial flexibility to sign the best free agent this year’s class has to offer, although the offer has to stack up against those of the Yankees, Phillies, Red Sox, Angels, and Tigers, among others. The Rangers do have an edge in the Lee negotiations, however, as Texas is close to his Arkansas home. Whoever signs Lee will get an immediate impact pitcher.

Let’s move on to the M’s part of the deal, starting with the centerpiece, rookie first baseman…

Justin Smoak

Smoak came up to replace the struggling Chris Davis at first base on April 22. He struggled in his time with the Rangers, having a slashline of .209/.316/.353, which wasn’t much better than Davis’s mark of .192/.279/.292. But this does not take away from Smoak’s potential. Smoak was a top fifteen prospect entering the season, rated by Baseball America and MLB Network. He has a solid glove at 1B as evident by a UZR of 2.2, and has drawn comparisions to stars such as Mark Teixeira and Lance Berkman in the past. This guy looks like the real deal.

Josh Lueke

Lueke shows a ton of potential and this is shown by an impressive year, going 5-2 with a 1.86 ERA in 50 games. He posted alot more K’s then he pitched innings, and he will likely be utilized in the Mariners bullpen entering the 2011 season. When acquired, the Mariners were not aware of previous problems with rape, and that is why they have begun to dangle him on the trade market.

Blake Beavan

Justin Smoak was the centerpiece of the Lee deal. He has drawn comparisions to Teixeira and Berkman.

Blake Beavan is a solid piece. At 6’7″ 250 pounds, Beavan posted great numbers in three levels with Texas and Seattle this year, going 14-8 with a 3.90 ERA in 168.1 IP. It doesn’t seem like he blows anyone away with just 101 K’s on the season, but this shouldn’t be an issue as long as he is getting the outs. Beavan is currently in AAA Tacoma, and could fight for a spot in the rotation out of Spring Training, depending on the health status of recently re-signed lefty Erik Bedard.

Matthew Lawson

Lawson was essentially a throw-in piece who likely won’t play a huge part in the Mariners future plans, and will likely be used as trade bait, as he is blocked by stud prospects Dustin Ackley and Kyle Seager. He did post decent stats on the year, though, hitting .293/.372/.439 with a solid OPS of .815.

Although it was hard for Mariners fans to see Lee go after such a great offseason followed by a solid 2009, it was evident that a trade was on the way. Jack Zduriencik likely got a maximum return for the lefty, considering the status of his contract and the demands for his salary. This was a trade that worked perfectly for both sides; the Rangers got one of the best pitchers in baseball in Lee who eventually led them in their surge to the World Series, with a fireball arm in Lowe who has a shot as the closer slot if Feliz becomes a starter in 2011. The Mariners got their future 1B in Smoak who fits perfectly with their plans with his left handed bat, solid glove and marginal power, a couple of solid bullpen arms in Lueke and Beavan, and a young 2B in Lawson. This trade was a win-win for both sides.





The Giants are Back on Top of the World

2 11 2010

Opponents feared the beard all postseason long, as Brian Wilson was nearly flawless

Posted by BaconSlayer09

On October 2nd, 1954, the New York baseball Giants finished off a 4 game sweep of the Cleveland Indians for their 5th World Series in a span 50 years. Great moments like “The Catch” by Willie Mays have embedded the Giants into the eternal storybook of the World Series. However, since that fateful October day, the Giants have been kept away from the World Series trophy – until today.

When Brian Wilson (maybe he will begin a new trend of playoff beards in baseball) struck out Nelson Cruz on a high 90 MPH slider in the bottom of the 9th inning of game 5, the futility was broken. The Giants, backed by World Series MVP Edgar Renteria’s 3-run home run in the 7th, are back on top of the baseball world.

Renteria's two home runs were vital in games 2 and 5.

Renteria has been nothing short of awful since 2008 (especially for his $10 million salary these past two years). However, he is not a stranger to postseason heroics (see 1997 World Series). The 34 year old Shortstop came through in this World Series when both Pablo Sandoval and Mike Fontenot proved to be ineffective at 3B throughout the postseason. Manager Bruce Bochy then moved NLCS hero Juan Uribe to third and Renteria to SS. The move definitely paid off, as Renteria hit .412 in the series with two key home runs in two close games. Renteria’s dinger in game 5 was enough for the Giants to hand two losses to Rangers ace Cliff Lee, who was nearly flawless in all of his previous postseason starts.

The World Series victory for the Giants is almost a miracle, as they were far back of the Padres in the standings late in August. Thanks to a 10 game losing streak by the Padres and some incredible pitching, the Giants clinched the NL West on the last day of the season. They then finished off the Braves in 4 and shut down the defending NL champion Phillies in the NLCS.

While this World Series was far from exciting (the Giants outscored the Rangers 29 to 12), it is still the World Series. As avid baseball fans and unbiased spectators of this series, we here at Pine Tar and Pocket Protectors would like to congratulate the San Francisco Giants on their 2010 World Series Championship.

I now leave you with this well done video – Enjoy and to the off-season we go. As a side note, I bet the guy who wears the “Let Tim Smoke” t-shirt in the video is voting yes to Prop. 19 tomorrow.






How Mark Teixeira Built the Texas Rangers

24 10 2010

Posted by Cubs223425

As any baseball fan can (hopefully) tell you, the Texas Rangers are going to the World Series for the first time in the 40+ years of their franchise, now led by pitching great Nolan Ryan. They overcame an enormous payroll discrepancy, the dreaded Yankees offense, and what seemed like a mess of rigged umpire calls (simple physics would tell you that ball hit Swisher).

 

22-year-old Neftali Feliz sealed Texas' first World Series birth with a perfect ninth inning on Friday.

Doing such a thing is no simple feat. Every year, fans of each and every team try to think of reason why they can make the World Series and why others cannot. This year, we have the Rangers taking the place of the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays, being that team that survived the Seattle Mariners’ offseason spending spree and the constant questions of their rotation while building a team on prospects and cunning. Rather than go out and buy themselves a team, they built one.

This whole process took them from the days for Alex and Ivan Rodriguez and Rafael Palmeiro to the days of Josh Hamilton and Neftali Feliz and Michael Young. Over the years, we saw Texas move A-Rod for Alfonso Soriano, and Soriano for a pittance whose best piece is on Detroit (Armando Galarraga). Palmeiro became a PR lightning rod after his career because of his being linked to steroids. Pudge went on to win a World Series with the Florida Marlins. One man who gave Texas a big return on its investment was Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira.

Teixeira was taken fifth in the 2001 MLB draft by the Rangers, and he made his major league debut in 2003. After a somewhat mediocre 2003 season (.259 average, 26 HR, 102 OPS+), Teixeira exploded. From 2004-2006, he managed to hit .288 with 114 HR and a combined OPS+ of 134 , all while winning 2 Silver Sluggers and 2 Gold Gloves. But, as is the case with mid-market teams, a long-term future wasn’t meant to be.

Texas offered its star an 8-year, $140 million extension, but Big Tex said no (he later got 8 years and $180 million from the Yankees). As a result, Texas jettisoned him to Atlanta in July of 2007. Their return? Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Matt Harrison, Beau Jones, Neftali Feliz, and Elvis Andrus. What have those four done since moving to Texas? Well, quite a lot, actually.

  • At the time, Saltalamacchia was seen as the prize of this deal. He was a catcher with power and a strong arm, but it was simply not meant to be for him, it would appear. After appearing to be a rising star in the Atlanta system, Salty began having issues with his throwing shoulder, to the point where even getting the ball back to the pitcher became a journey. He was recently sent to Boston in return for three prospects, making him look like a relative bust in the blockbuster trade.
  • Matt Harrison has struggled in his time in the majors, managing a feeble 5.39 ERA over three seasons. As of 2010, Harrison has been made into a reliever, though he made 6 starts for Texas this season. He has not been on the postseason roster for Texas.
  • Beau Jones has been off and on in the Texas organization, but his 2010 in AA seemed to show some promise. The 24-year-old lefty struck out 62 over 52 2/3 innings, with an ERA of 2.91 and a WHIP of 1.27. He could be bumped up to AAA next season, and possibly make an appearance for the big league club.

Those three have been less than ideal returns for Texas’ former superstar Teixeira, but there were two more names, and they are big ones: Elvis Andrus and Neftali Feliz.

  • Converted from being a starter, Feliz looked like a potential Rookie of the Year candidate with his 2010 season. His blistering fastball carried him to the elite level of closers at just 22 years of age. His 159 ERA+ produced a WAR of 1.8, behind only White Sox fireballer Matt Thornton and Kansas City’s Joakim Soria in terms of wins provided. That’s right–he even surpassed the great Mariano Rivera (1.7 WAR), and he helped send both Rivera and Teixeira packing last night, throwing a perfect ninth inning with two strikeouts and a fastball that registered as high as 100 MPH.
  • Despite regressing in 2010, Elvis Andrus has been a stud in the playoffs.

    Meanwhile, his teammate Elvis Andrus wasn’t exactly a slouch, either. After stealing 33 of 39 bases in 2009, and posting an AL-best 13.5 UZR (among those who qualified), the young shortstop took both an offensive and defensive step backwards in his sophomore season.  His OPS went from a decent .702 to an anemic .643, mostly due to putting zero fly balls over the fence in  2010, dropping his SLG from .373 to just .301. His baserunning suffered, managing just 32 steals in 47 attempts. The stellar defense regressed the most, though, as his UZR fell all the way to a 0.1. Regardless, his play in the postseason has been outstanding; he has managed to hit .333 and steal 7 bases in 8 attempts, including a perfect 4-4 against the Yankees.

That pair of 22-year-old rising stars (born less than 6 months apart) has helped carry the Rangers in the postseason, and they are a big part of why Texas is sitting in the position that it is now–its first playoff series win, its first home playoff game win, and its first World Series birth, all in the same postseason.

And it’s not just THAT Texas won; it’s also HOW the won. Game 6 was crucial, both in the sense of momentum, as well as in terms of rotation alignment. By winning against Yankees righty Phil Hughes, Texas now gets to guarantee a Game 1 start for Cliff Lee, something they will definitely need, whether they face two-time (soon-to-not-be) defending Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum of the Giants, or if they get Lee’s 2009 squad, the Philadelphia Phillies, who could march out a man among men in Roy Halladay, who has managed a perfect game against Josh Johnson, a playoff career debut no-hitter against Cincinnati, and 20 wins–all in 2010, which will likely see him win the 2010 NL Cy Young.

Rangers fans, remember who brought you Andrus and Feliz.

So when all of you Rangers fans are watching Elvis Andrus swipe bases and Neftali Feliz turn the dial up to triple digits, remember to thank the former franchise first baseman that you thought scorned you, because he clearly left you a big present on his way out the door.

Editor’s note: We are deeply sorry that Ron Mahay was not mentioned in this blog post. While Mahay was only a LOOGY who wasn’t good at anything else, he was probably extremely vital in a deal that featured Mark Teixeira. But we must not forget about Ron Mahay, for we do not want to offend him and his family/relatives by not giving him any credit for building this current Texas Rangers team. From the PTP^2  staff.





Back to the Future: Mark Prior

6 09 2010

Posted by cubs223425

My procrastination occasionally causes me great stress. Then there are those occasional times that it benefits me. This time is the latter. I have been meaning to post another article on the 2011 1B option for the Cubs (and I will…eventually!), but I’ve been thinking about school and being lazy. Then, I saw that the Texas Rangers had signed Mark Prior. I knew immediately that the aforementioned Cubs article would have to wait (a bit more on that shortly).

So, I was set to start an article on the reappearance of Mark Prior. Of course, though, I was too lazy. I played Call of Duty. I managed my fantasy baseball teams. I banned TrueBlue (I’m sure there were cheers). Well, it all worked out in the end, because now that I shook off the apathy, I started this article on the perfect day.

If Prior can return to his dominant form and stay healthy out of the bullpen, he could possibly snag himself a deal with another big league club this offseason.

Why is today the perfect day? Because Mark Prior made his debut for the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the PCL (AAA) affiliate of the Texas Rangers last night. When I started following baseball, Prior was the guy I latched onto. He was my favorite player, and will always be, whether he comes back on a white stallion or flames out in the minors and gets hurt again. In his one inning of work, Prior threw 16 of his 28 pitches for strikes, allowing two hits, walking one, and striking out a pair of Omaha Royals (he lucked out of facing Mike Moustakas, thankfully). While the RedHawks ultimately lost 9-1, it was a rare occurrence where you could legitimately claim a moral victory.

Anybody who has followed baseball for more than a couple of years knows the story of Mark Prior. #2 pick (behind Joe Mauer). Can’t-miss prospect (leading to that record bonus; a record Stephen Strasburg broke last year). Savior of the Cubs. Well, it seemed to be that way back then.

Prior came onto the scene in Chicago in 2002, after making the AA and AAA hitters he faced to start the year look like children. He posted a  solid 3.32 ERA in 19 starts, good for a  122 ERA+. The following season, there was no minor league stop to make. It was his time, and everyone knew it.

Working off of his previous season’s success, Prior was a dominant ace for the Cubs, as they worked their way into the playoffs behind a deadly pitching staff (anchored by what was thought to be an unstoppable force of Carlos Zambrano, Prior, and Kerry Wood–plus Matt Clement and Shawn Estes). Even looking now, I wonder how he managed the numbers: 211 1/3 IP, 18-6, 2.43 ERA, 1.103 WHIP, 10.4 K/9, 4.9 K/BB, 179 ERA+*

*Looking into the 2003 Cy Young voting, I saw Prior finished 3rd. Who won that year? Eric Gagne, and his 337 ERA+, 337! Seriously, what happened to him? You don’t forget how to pitch like that.

Of course, if you know the success, you know the failure. No need to go through the stats, but here’s basically how it went:

Steve Bartman robbed Moises Alou of a catch (that he said he couldn’t get, then said he could). Prior and the Cubs imploded in Game 6 after that, then in Game 7. The Florida Marlins won the World Series, one that Chicago could have gotten if they went into a matchup with the New York Yankees with Prior, Wood, and Zambrano. Then the injuries came.

Honestly, I was too young to remember it all. It was just a constant, depressing blur. The shoulder went. Prior came back. It went again. There was the collision that started it all. There was a liner off of his elbow–the one thing I can still vividly remember; seeing it slam off his elbow. Watching Aramis Ramirez dive into foul territory to make the catch (yeah, he was hit so hard he produced a line out in foul territory to third). Knowing he was gone for a LONG time (even someone as young as I was knew elbows don’t survive that).

This was my guy. I followed him almost religiously. He was my first baseball jersey. Heck, he was baseball to me. I watched all of this, and I didn’t wonder if the baseball gods hated him. I wondered if they hated ME.

He made a few attempts to come back in Chicago, but he kept ending up under the knife. Over. And over. And over. Eventually, the magic was gone, and Prior was, too. He made a couple of attempts with the San Diego Padres, but to the same disastrous ends. But he got an indie league to sign him this season.

Prior made a few appearances, totaling 11 innings. He struck out 22 of the 44 batters he faced. His fastball sat in the 90-92 range, close to what he typically threw pre-injuries (according to him; I was too young to care for MPH when I watched him). Apparently, that domination was enough to convince Texas to take a chance. So far, so good.

Now, here we are, more than 9 years after Prior was Stephen Strasburg. He’s turning 30 tomorrow (September 7th), older than the 21 he was when he made his MLB debut, but nowhere near Jamie Moyer.

Sadly, though, he was signed a few days short of the postseason deadline, but that may be for the best. He can finish up the AAA season and throw some side sessions, all at his own pace. Then, next year, he can show up to Spring Training with the chance to earn a roster spot.

He said himself he doesn’t care about where he gets slotted. Of course, he’s not going to be made a starter (maybe in a year or so, he could, but unlikely). He talks of taking a middle reliever’s job, hoping to be given an occasional 8th inning job. Who know? Maybe he can follow in his former rotation-mate Kerry Wood’s footsteps and become a closer.

But no matter what happens, I’ll still be here–awaiting this rehab as eagerly as the first.