Longtime reader ECP comments: “C’mon now, Craig, it’s the Braves! It’s your team; you are allowed to add some acerbic commentary! How do you REALLY feel about this?”
I’ll be honest, I feel rather “meh” about it. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you I’m excited about Melky freakin’ Cabrera, because I’m not. He’s a fine player, but his press has been outsized by the fact that he has played in New York. There are a lot of Melky Cabreras out there, and my team just traded a dude who got Cy Young votes for him. But here are some random thoughts that make me feel generally fine about it:
- The regression: Vazquez probably just put up his career year. He’s going to backslide a bit, and I think that even if the Yankees didn’t give up too much for him, they did buy high and will find that Vazquez is a good, but not great pitcher for them in 2010;
- The comeback: By the same token, I don’t think Derek Lowe is done, and I could totally picture him having a bounceback season. Sure, it may be a bit awkward for a week or two with all of that “sorry we were shopping you” and “sorry I was complaining about being shopped” talk, but they’ll get past it. Upshot: the Braves still have a very strong rotation for 2010.
- The alternatives: The Braves could have done way, way worse to fill their outfield hole. Remember Garret Anderson last year? Remember the zombie incarnation of Brian Jordan in 2005-06? At least Cabrera has functioning legs. And having him may allow Cox to slide Nate McLouth over to a corner, giving the Braves some decent outfield defense for the first time in a while.
- The platoon: And maybe you don’t just hand Melky a job. Matt Diaz is still around. Diaz destroys lefties. Melky, a switch hitter, is better against righties in his career (though not profoundly so, and not last year). Keep everyone fresh, let Diaz do what he does best. I could talk myself into this.
- The money: the Braves just saved $10 million for 2010, which they could use to give to Adam LaRoche or some other option at first base. Or to make some other sort of deal. Maybe they trade for Uggla now. That’s certainly not my preference, but the point is that they now have flexibility to add some offense.
- The prospect: I know nothing about him other than what I heard this morning, but Arodys Vizcaino is supposed to be pretty good. He struck out 52 in 42 innings in the New York-Penn League this year with a 2.13 ERA as an 18 year-old. People are tweeting highly of him this morning, most notably Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner.
- The competition. The Braves aren’t gunning for a division title against the Yankees. They’re in it against the Phillies and the Marlins and the Mets and Nats (sorry — I need a laugh this morning). Along those lines, Cameron tweets that the Braves got a better return for their ace than the Phillies did for Cliff Lee. I agree. I’ll also note that Vazquez was not the Braves’ ace. Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson have the best claim to that title going forward, and Tim Hudson may have something to say about it this year.
Would I have rather the Braves received Nick Swisher? Sure. But Nick Swisher is owed $16.5 million over the next couple of years, and the Braves have a habit of doing dumb things when they have guys with contracts like that.
This is not the best deal they could have made. But it’s not the worst, and with the promise of a prospect like Arodys Vizcaino and the chance that Vazquez takes a step back, it could turn out pretty nicely in the long run.
With the White Sox losing Jeff Samardzija to free agency, Erik Johnson will likely get a shot to contribute out of the rotation to open up the 2016 season, GM Rick Hahn said in a conference call on Wednesday, per a report from MLB.com’s Scott Merkin.
“As we sit here today, I think it will be an opportunity for Erik Johnson to convert on sort of the return to form he showed back in 2015 when he was International League pitcher of the year for [Triple-A] Charlotte,” Hahn said. “Obviously, he got some starts in September and continued to show the progress in Chicago he had shown in the Minor Leagues over the course of the last season.
“So if Opening Day were today, then I think Johnson is penciled in to that spot in the rotation right now. In all probability, once we get closer to spring, there will be some competition for him to earn that spot. But if we were strictly looking at today, then I would think Johnson has the inside track on filling Samardzija’s innings.”
Johnson was called up from Triple-A Charlotte in September and made six starts, allowing 14 runs (13 earned) on 32 hits and 17 walks with 30 strikeouts in 35 innings. That followed up an impressive five months in the minors where he compiled a 2.37 ERA and a 136/41 K/BB ratio across 132 2/3 innings.
Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and MLB.com each included Johnson on their top-100 prospect lists, ranking him 63rd, 67th, and 70th, respectively. The right-hander was selected by the White Sox in the second round of the 2011 draft.
It was reported on Friday afternoon that Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was involved in a brawl at a Miami nightclub. Details were scant at the time, but he reportedly left with a bruise on his face.
Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Major League Baseball plans to investigate Puig under the league’s new domestic violence policy for his role in the brawl. Citing a report from TMZ, Hernandez notes that Puig shoved his sister, “brutally sucker-punched” the manager of the bar, and instigated the brawl.
The Dodgers and Puig’s agent have thus far refused to comment on the situation.
Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes was the first player to be investigated under the league’s new domestic violence policy earlier this month, as he allegedly assaulted his wife. Reyes has pleaded not guilty after he was charged with domestic abuse in Hawaii.
As our own Craig Calcaterra pointed out, commissioner Rob Manfred does not need to wait for Puig to plead guilty or to be found guilty to levy a punishment.
Patrick Newman is reporting that the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and outfielder Dayan Viciedo are close to an agreement on a contract. Newman notes that the Dragons are close to signing pitcher Jordan Norberto as well.
Viciedo, 26, has struggled since making his major league debut in 2010 with the White Sox, batting an aggregate .254/.298/.424 with 66 home runs and 211 RBI in 1,798 plate appearances. He spent the 2015 season with Triple-A Charlotte (White Sox) and Nashville (Athletics), hitting a composite .287/.348/.450. While Viciedo can hit the occasional home run, he hasn’t shown the ability to do much else at the big league level. Given his age, he could prove himself in Japan and parlay that into a renewed shot in the majors in the future.
The White Sox signed Viciedo out of Cuba in December 2008, agreeing to a four-year, $10 million deal. The club re-signed him to one-year deals in 2013 and ’14 for $2.8 million each and $4.4 million ahead of the 2015 season.
Update (8:45 PM EST): Per Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, Happ will get $10 million in 2016 and $13 million each in 2017 and ’18.
MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the Blue Jays have signed lefty J.A. Happ to a three-year deal worth $36 million.
Happ, 33, had a rebirth as a member of the Pirates last season after starting the season with 20 subpar starts with the Mariners. He made 11 starts for the Buccos, boasting a 1.85 ERA with a 69/13 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.
Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported this past August that Happ’s newfound success had to do with a delivery tweak suggested by Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage. The Blue Jays are certainly hoping that adjustment is the full explanation for his success.
The Jays’ signing of Happ most likely signifies they won’t be pursuing free agent lefty David Price.
This will be Happ’s second stint with the Blue Jays. The Astros dealt him to Toronto in a July 2012 trade. He posted a 4.39 ERA with a 256/113 K/BB ratio in 291 innings with the Jays, then went to the Mariners in a trade this past December that brought outfielder Michael Saunders to the Jays.