Tuesday, November 30, 2004

General Transaction Thoughts

There have been a number of recent transactions that deserve some attention.

The A's are at the heart of the action. First, the Brewers signed Damian Miller to a 2 year contract at $3.75 million for two years, then a mutual option for 2007 worth either 3.75 or 2.25 depending on whether the Brewers exercise their part of it or not. I'm not sure how wise this is when you're talking about a 35 year old catcher. Miller is underrated offensively and defensively. The guy's a good player, but I just don't like giving out that much cash to a guy with that many miles on his knees. I'd rather see if the Reds are ready to give away Jason LaRue on the cheap, or maybe take a chance on trying to aquire a Kevin Cash and a rule 5 underdog like Corey Myers. It isn't like the Brewers are likely to compete for anything more meaningful than 3rd place in the NL Central while Miller is under contract. If the Brew Crew is ever going to make the playoffs, it will be on the backs of players like Prince Fielder, Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks, and Ben Hendrickson. Finding a catcher for that group of players rather than the mediocre Geoff Jenkins, Kieth Ginter, Scott Podsednik core would be a worthwhite use of organizational resources. I would have liked to have seen Milwaukee let a notionally competitive team overpay for Miller's services. Of course the other big determinations of how soon the Brewers are relevant again depends on factors like how much of their 2004 performances are retained by Ben Sheets and Lyle Overbay, what they actually DO with Overbay when Fielder makes it to the major leagues, and how Dave Kryznel and JJ Hardy develop.

The other side of this is that the A's again get extra early picks. They get a sandwich pick, and Milwaukee's second rounder (they're 5th in the order, so it is a nice second rounder). So here's the running tally of 2005 draft compensation,. If anybody has an addittion, just let me know through comments.

The Rockies get a pick in the sandwich round and the "Nats" second rounder for Vinny Castilla's ill-advised contract

The Indians get the Giants first rounder (22nd overall) and a sandwich pick for Visquel

The Orioles get a sandwich pick for not signing Wade Townsend

Oakland gets a sandwich pick and the Brewers' second round pick for Damian Miller

The Twins get the Washington's 3rd round pick for Christian Guzman.

In related news, the A's filled their hole at catcher by trading Mark Redman and Arthur Rhodes to the Pirates for Jason Kendall and cash. The net savings for the Pirates (and conversely the net committment from the A's) is reported to be 15 million dollars. This is interesting on the part of the A's because it locks up their catcher position for 3 years, and is a very large financial committment for them. Kendall has become a very typical Oakland player late in his career, as his on-base abilities have really blossomed, while his defense has developed as well. For as much press as the A's get for their offensive philosophies, they're building a very competant defensive squad with Mark Kotsay, Nick Swisher/Eric Byrnes (on an outfield corner presumably), Bobby Crosby, Mark Ellis, Kendall, Scott Hatteburg, and gold glove third baseman Eric Chavez forming one of the best defensive teams in baseball.

From teh A's perspective, I like getting Kendall, but I wish it would have cost less money. Still, 15 million over 3 years is 5 million per, which would be a damned fair yearly wage for a good defensive catcher who carries an OBP of almost .400.

For the Pirates, the deal is a no-brainer. They dumped a millstone of a contract for a couple of smaller, more manageable albatrosses. Redman should be shoppable as long as they're willing to eat part of his contract, and Rhodes is a potential asset in the bullpen, though an overpaid and now fragile one. They save money in the deal. They also have the opportunity to do something brave, like see if Craig Wilson can still catch parttime or see if JR House will ever amount to anything.

Lastly, it looks like the Giants may sign Armando Benitez to a three year deal at 7 mil per. That's a really steep price to pay, with another high draft pick coming as compensation from the Giants, and a very high salary for a reliever. I honestly haven't yet looked up which of the two Giant signings are ranked higher, so I don't know whether the Indians would get the Giants first rounder with the Fish getting San Fran's second round pick, or vice versa. I'll research that when/if the signing is made final.

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