Adrian Gonzalez running

UPDATE: Padres, Red Sox agree on Adrian Gonzalez trade

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UPDATE: The negotiating window for the Red Sox to complete a deal with Adrian Gonzalez expires at 2 p.m. ET tomorrow, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.

12:36 PM: According to Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com, Adrian Gonzalez has already completed a physical with the Red Sox. McAdam was told that Gonzalez’s surgically-repaired right shoulder “should be just fine,” but that there are “minor tests” that still need to be completed.

12:00 PM: Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com hears that Adrian Gonzalez wants a “Howard-type contract.”

If so, that would actually be a pretty sweet deal for the Red Sox. Howard signed a five-year, $125 million extension with the Phillies in April, which includes a $23 million option for 2017. It’s a bad deal for the Phillies because Howard will be 32 years old before the extension even begins in 2012. It would be quite a coup to lock up Gonzalez at those terms before he turns 30 years old.

11:30 AM: Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that in addition to right-hander Casey Kelly, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and outfielder Reymond Fuentes, the Padres will also receive a player to be named later from the Red Sox in exchange for Adrian Gonzalez.

One wonders if the PTBNL could be someone from the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, as such players are ineligible to be traded until June of 2011.

11:20 AM: Jon Heyman of SI.com writes that there is still work to be done on a contract extension and that the process may take a day or two. We have seen MLB approve 72-hour windows in the past — the Johan Santana trade, for example — so they have some time to hammer out an agreement.

For what it’s worth, Heyman guesses they will add seven years and roughly $165-170 million to his $5 million option for 2011, which was already exercised by the Padres. If true, it would be a comparable deal to the eight-year, $180 million contract Mark Teixeira signed with the Yankees in December of 2008.

10:17 AM: Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com reports that the Padres will receive right-hander Casey Kelly, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and outfielder Reymond Fuentes from the Red Sox in exchange for Adrian Gonzalez.

Baseball America recently ranked Kelly as Boston’s top prospect, while Rizzo was third and Fuentes (who is cousins with Carlos Beltran) was sixth.

10:09 AM: Jon Heyman of SI.com confirms that Gonzalez is in Boston and that negotiations on a contract extension should begin shortly. He also writes that top pitching prospect Casey Kelly is in the deal, which backs up a report by Dan Hayes of the North County Times last night.

According to Alex Speier of WEEI.com, multiple Red Sox prospects rumored to be involved in the deal say they have yet to hear anything from the team.

9:01 AM: Buster Olney of ESPN.com tweets that Gonzalez has arrived in Boston.

8:20 AM: Oh baby. It looks like the Red Sox have gotten their man.

According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, Adrian Gonzalez is expected in Boston today for a physical, which should be one of the last hurdles before a trade with the Padres becomes official. Major league baseball has also approved a negotiating window for the Red Sox to work out a contract extension with Gonzalez, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com. Of course, the physical can’t be completely overlooked, as Gonzalez underwent surgery on his right shoulder last month, although he is expected to be ready for the start of the season.

OK, so who’s in this deal, anyway? Well, the Padres are expected to receive “three or four prospects from the Red Sox, including one who is major-league ready.” According to Cafardo, talks have centered around prospect first baseman Anthony Rizzo and prospect right-hander Casey Kelly. Buster Olney of ESPN.com writes that all players have been agreed to.

This one isn’t official yet, but the Red Sox have effectively thrown down the gauntlet just before the winter meetings. Your move, Yankees?

Did Tony La Russa screw Jim Edmonds’ Hall of Fame candidacy?

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Yes, that’s a somewhat provocative question. But it’s still an interesting question, the relevancy of and merits of which we’ll get to in a second. I pose it mostly so I can tell you about some neat research a friend of mine is doing and which should make Hall of Fame discussions and the general discussion of baseball history a lot of fun in the coming years. Bear with me for a moment.

There has long been a war between metrics and narrative. The folks who say that so-and-so was great because of the arc of his story and his career and those who say so-and-so was not so great or whatshisface was way, way better because of the numbers. Those views are often pitted as irreconcilable opposites. But what if they weren’t? What if there was some data which explained why some players become narrative darlings and others don’t? Some explanation for why, say, Jim Rice is in the Hall of Fame while Dwight Evans isn’t despite having better numbers? An explanation, that isn’t about voters being dumb or merely playing favorites all willy-nilly? What if there was some actual quantitative reason why favorites get played in the first place?

That’s the thesis of the work of Brandon Isleib. He has just finished writing a very interesting book. It’s not yet published, but I have had the chance to read it. It sets forth the fascinating proposition that we can quantify narrative. That we can divine actual numerical values which help explain a player’s fame and public profile. Values which aren’t based on some complicated or counterintuitive formula, but which are rooted in the very thing all baseball fans see every day: games. Wins and losses. The daily standings. Values which reveal that, no, Hall of Fame voters who made odd choices in the view of the analytics crowd weren’t necessarily stupid or petty. They were merely reacting to forces and dynamics in the game which pushed them in certain ways and not others.

“But wait!” you interject. “Jim Rice and Dwight Evans played on the same dang team! How does Brandon distinguish that?” I won’t give away all the details of it but it makes sense if you break down how the Red Sox did in certain years and how that corresponded with Rice’s and Evans’ best years. There were competitive narratives in play in 1975, 1978 or 1986 that weren’t in play in 1981 or 1987. From those competitive narratives come player narratives which are pretty understandable. When you weight it all based on how competitive a team was on a day-to-day basis based on how far out of first place they were, etc., a picture starts to come together which explains why “fame” works the way it does.

From this, you start to realize why certain players, no matter how good, never got much Hall of Fame consideration. And why others’ consideration seemed disproportionate compared to their actual performance. All of which, again, is based on numbers, not on the sort of bomb-throwing media criticism in which jerks like me have come to engage.

Like I said, the book won’t be out for a bit — Brandon just finished it — but in the meantime he has a website where he has been and, increasingly will be, talking about his quantification of narrative stuff, writing short articles posing some of the questions his book and his research addresses.

Today’s entry — which is what my headline is based on — isn’t really numbers-based. It’s more talking about the broader phenomenon Brandon’s work gets at in terms of trying to figure out which players are credited for their performance and which are not so credited and why. Specifically, it talks about how Tony La Russa, more than most managers, gets the credit for his success and his players probably get somewhat less than they deserve. In this way La Russa is kind of viewed as a football coach figure and his players are, I dunno, system quarterbacks. It’s something that is unfair, I think, to guys like Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen and will, eventually, likely be unfair to players like Adam Wainwright and Matt Holliday.

It’s fascinating stuff which gets to the heart of player reputation and how history comes together. It reminds us that, in the end, the reporters and the analysts who argue about all of these things are secondary players, even if we make the most noise. It’s the figures in the game — the players and the managers — who shape it all. The rest of us are just observers and scribes.

Corey Seager tops Keith Law’s top-100 prospect list

Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager warms up before Game 1 of baseball's National League Division Series against the New York Mets, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
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Yesterday it was the top farm systems, today it’s the top-100 prospects from ESPN’s Keith Law.

As Law notes, there’s a HUGE amount of turnover on the list from last year, given how many top prospects were promoted to the bigs in 2015. Kris Bryant seems like a grizzled old veteran now. Carlos Correa too. Eleven of the top 20 from last year’s list have graduated into the bigs. Are we sure it’s only been a year?

So, obviously, there’s a new number one. It’s Corey Seager, the Dodgers’ infielder. Not that everything has changed. Byron Buxton is still number two. This will obviously be his last year on the list. If you want to see and read about the other 98, go check out Keith’s excellent work.

And yes, like yesterday’s farm system rankings, it’s Insider subscription only. There were comments about how much you all hate that and I am sure there will be many more of them today. I get that. No one likes to pay for content. I was somewhat amused, however, by comments that said things like “hey, maybe if we don’t click it, they’ll have to give it to us for free!” Maybe! Or, more likely, the content simply will cease to exist!

It’s good stuff, folks. There aren’t many paid sites I say that about.

Ozzie Guillen to manage again. In Venezuela

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With Dusty Baker getting back into action with the Nationals and with there being at least some moderate sense that, maybe, inexperienced dudes might not be the best choice to manage big league clubs, I sorta hoped that someone would give Ozzie Guillen another look. Nah. Not happening.

Not that I’m shocked or anything. I can imagine that, under the best of circumstances, a guy like Guillen is hard to have around. He tends to find controversy pretty easily and, unlike some other old hands, Guillen never claimed to be any kind of master tactician. He famously said that he was bored during games until the sixth or seventh inning when he had to start thinking about pitching changes. Refreshing honesty, yes, but maybe not the sort of dude you bring on to, say, be a bench coach or to mentor your younger coaches or to show your hand-picked manager the ropes. Nope, it seemed like Guillen was destined to stay in broadcasting with ESPN Deportes or someone and that his days in uniform were over.

But they’re not over! Guillen was hired yesterday to manage the La Guaira Sharks of the Venezuelan Winter League next offseason. It’s not the bigs, but it is is first on-field gig since he was canned by the Marlins in 2012.

 

Guillen managed the White Sox from 2004-11 and was voted AL Manager of the Year in 2005, when Chicago won the World Series. He may be a bit of a throwback now, but he knows what he’s doing. While I can’t really say that a major league team would be wise to hire the guy — I get it, I really do — a selfish part of me really wants him back in the bigs. He was fun.

Angels ink Javy Guerra to minor league deal

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Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Javy Guerra. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.

Guerra was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball last July after testing positive for a drug of abuse. That suspension is now over, though Guerra is probably ticketed for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2016 season.

The 30-year-old made just three major league appearances in 2015 for the White Sox before getting outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster. He does own a 2.87 ERA in 150 1/3 career innings, but it has come with bouts of inconsistency and unreliability.

Maybe he can get everything going in the right direction with Anaheim.