Mauer, Sizemore, Fielder and the 20% Club

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The excellent blog Jorge Says No! has an interesting post up this morning looking at those players who make 20% or more of their team’s total payroll.

By JSN’s count, there are only four members of that club: Michael Young, Barry Zito, Brian Giles and Todd Helton.  Giles back-doored into that club via the Padres’ payroll slashing. Young, Zito and Helton all represent wild to near-wild over-payments by their teams.  The implication here is that having a 20% guy probably means that a low-to mid payroll team made a business mistake.

This is important, JSN notes, because there are three guys who play for such teams who could very easily become 20% guys if they’re retained and if the teams don’t make a commitment to substantially increase overall payroll: Prince Fielder (2012), Grady Sizemore (2012) and Joe Mauer (2011).  JSN breaks each of them down in an effort to see if their teams would make that kind of commitment to them.

I’m going to make you click through for JSN’s results and analysis, but my view is that the Brewers will trade Fielder because (a) he stands to decline a lot as he ages due to his size; (b) Milwaukee can get some pitching for him now, I’d wager; and (c) and they can slot Gamel or Braun in at first base to take up the slack once he’s gone.

I think the Indians will try hard to keep Sizemore because in addition to him being very, very hard to replace, he’s popular with fans in Cleveland in a way that CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee or Victor Martinez never were.

Aaron certainly has more insight into this than I do, but it strikes me that if the Twins don’t lock up Mauer, they may as well ask for relegation to AAA.  Hometown stud catchers who entering their prime as a new ballpark opens are kinda hard to come by.  If the Twins let him dangle, their fans will never forgive them and it will be awful hard for anyone to take the organization seriously.

And yes, you absolutely go over 20% for him.  

Red Sox look to punch their ticket to the World Series tonight

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Thanks to some amazing defense, some big hits and — to continue to beat this horse, a bad call by Joe West — the Red Sox have a 3-1 lead in the ALCS and look to clinch the AL Pennant tonight down in Houston.

If you believe in momentum, you’d have to say it’s on Boston’s side. If you believe that momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher, however, you’d have to say things favor Houston more than the standing of the series would suggest. All of which makes me wish Game 5 was starting right now, because it figures to be a tense and exciting affair.

ALCS Game 5

Red Sox vs. Astros
Ballpark: Minute Maid Park
Time: 8:09 PM Eastern
TV: TBS
Pitchers: David Price vs. Justin Verlander
Breakdown:

If someone told you that you had to win one baseball game against the Martians to save the human race, you could do far worse than calling on Justin Verlander to be your starting pitcher. Among the pitchers still in the postseason, he’d almost certainly be your choice right now.

Does Verlander himself appreciate the situation? This is what he said about that yesterday:

“I mean, these are all must-win games at this point. Every time you take the mound I don’t think there’s any difference whether it’s 2-2 or 3-1.”

Look, we’re asking him to beat the Martians here, not win the National Math Bee, so let’s let that go. The point is that after all of these years he’s still one of the most dominant pitchers in the game and after the exhausting, see-saw battle of Game 4, he stands the best chance of giving Houston what it needs: a quick, quiet and drama-free win.

Not that the Red Sox are likely to roll over for that. They didn’t the first time they faced Verlander in this series. They Astros won, yes, and Verlander limited them to two runs on two hits. But he also issued four walks and wasn’t his sharpest overall. Boston didn’t capitalize on his mistakes as best they could, but he’s not invincible.

For Boston it’s David Price. He allowed four runs on five hits and four walks over four and two-thirds innings in Game 2, not factoring in the decision. That’s not great, but given the talk leading up to that game being all about how Price is a postseason flop, the fact that the Sox won it in the end had to bouy him at least a little. As does the fact that, here, tonight, it’s not 100% on his shoulders. Sure, the Sox want to close this out, but with a 3-1 lead there is less pressure on Price than on his former teammate Verlander. Worth noting, though: Price is on short rest and warmed up in the bullpen last night in case he was needed to bail out Craig Kimbrel. He may not go deep into this game.