With the Winter Meetings in full swing, check in with Joe Sheehan to see what won't be staying in Vegas when all's said and done.
Joe Sheehan: Holy heck, I'm tired.
Garrett (Dallas,TX): Any chance elvis andrus turns into hanley ramirez since there minor league stats look alike?
Joe Sheehan: Some. Andrus should be a comparable, maybe a bit lesser player with his offense shaped a bit differently, a little less power. Ramirez's development was a bit strange, so you can say Ramirez is what Andrus' upside looks like.
Mike (SoSH): Thoughts on the Sabathia contract? I know you want to...
Joe Sheehan: Going up shortly, I guess. It's more years than I would ever give a pitcher, and I have significant concerns about his long-term durability.
I didn't get this into the piece...I hated the opt-out at first glance, but thinking about it more, maybe it's inspired. Even if Sabathia has three good years and the last four contract years look good at that point, maybe you would want out anyway, since that's when the risk increases. If this ends up a 3/96 deal...I actually like that a lot.
TonyMollica (Athens, Ohio): Thanks for your time. What team(s) do you see as a sleeper in 2009?
Joe Sheehan: Reds.
Dave (Chicago): With A's seemingly out of the running for Furcal and stuck with Crosby at shortstop, would you start testing the market for Matt Holliday?
Joe Sheehan: Too soon. I mean, you always listen, but there's no reason to panic. Besides, there's such a glut of corner OFs that Holliday's trade value wouldn't be that high at the moment.
Brandon (Charleston): Are you hearing anything about the Reds upgrading the SS position?
Joe Sheehan: No. I think we'll see Keppinger out there, although they're a team that could swoop in, get Furcal and suddenly look like the NL wild card team.
jammingecono (VA): Any chance of the Nats making a splash? And I don't mean trading for Willie Tavarez
Joe Sheehan: The Teixeira thing keeps popping up. I can't see him going there--if you really want to play at home, do so with Weiters/Markakis/Jones/Matusz. The Nats have to stop diddling and get on with rebuilding from the ground up.
Pap Smear (parts unknown): Who was the better pitcher, Mussina or Blyleven? Which one has the better case for the HOF? Do I repeat myself?
Joe Sheehan: Blyleven. There's a big innings gap, about 1400. Both are above the line, Blyleven ridiculously so.
Brandon (Charleston): What are your thoughts on the Reds acquiring Ramon Hernandez?
Joe Sheehan: It only cost them money, as they didn't give up much, and he makes them better. Hernandez is basically an average MLB player, and those aren't that easy to find behind the plate.
jzzskins (Brooklyn, NY): With CC reportedly getting 22.8 M / 7 Does it make Derek Lowe a 15 M / 4?
Burnett 16 M / 5?
Sheets 16 M / 2?
If so is there a bargain among the rest of the free agent starter class?
Hows about one of these teams converting a closer ala Wood into a starter?
Joe Sheehan: I think Lowe is something of a bargain, relative to Sabathia, if that's his number. After that, it will be hard to find bargains. Not sure about relievers making the move...Heilman's often talked about, I guess.
Kevin (San Jose): With the Yankees blowing their stack on Sabathia and the Red Sox about the do the same with Teixeira, what are the chances that nearly every other free agent on the market becomes a bargain after that?
Joe Sheehan: I think the corner outfielders will all come in lower than they might have in other years. The pitchers won't be bargains. Fuentes might.
basicslop (alb): What is the most annoying thing about the Winter meetings? In your opinion?
Joe Sheehan: That most years they're not in Las Vegas.
BL (Bozeman, MT): Your top five right-handed starting pitchers of all time?
Joe Sheehan: Johnson, Clemens, Maddux, Mathewson, Seaver.
tadonovan (Astoria, NY): Any chance the Sox could acquire Teixeira and still hold onto both Lowell and Ortiz?
Joe Sheehan: They'd have to. There's no market for the injured Lowell, and as popular as Theo is, I don't think he wants to spend that on being The Guy Who Traded Papi.
(Folks, I know, and I can't take the question. Sorry.)
Mike (Wilmington, DE): Do you think the glut of corner OFs could drop Burrell's price enough for the Phils to be interested? Or has that ship sailed?
Joe Sheehan: Hell, I would have offered him arb. Cash won't be an issue for them next year, and even 2/28 or something is a good contract for him. He's valuable in that lineup, and there aren't many good replacements available.
Brian (Brooklyn NY): What have you been doing in sin city other than the meetings? Casinos? Shows?
Joe Sheehan: Golf (113 and 102, thanks for asking) and a little poker.
Phil (NJ): Why is Derek Lowe seen as a good FA pickup? Yeah, he had some good years - in Chavez Ravine...in the National League...in a lousy division...with some reasonable defense behind him. This guy got torched in his last AL season. Your thoughts?
Joe Sheehan: That was five years ago, and it seems clear that he's a better version of what he was as a Red Sock. Throw in the durability, and he's safer than most of the guys being signed. He doesn't have the same upside, of course, but he's also 3/100 cheaper than Sabathia.
DKANDREWS1 (Washington DC): Best restaurant you've gone to in Vegas and what did you eat?
Joe Sheehan: Just one nice meal this trip, at Mesa Grille in Caesar's. Had the coffee-rubbed filet, which was fantastic. Favorite restaurant in Vegas is Craftsteak at MGM.
Ameer (Bloomington, IN): I can't be the only one that doesn't know which right-handed pitcher named Johnson you're talking about, right?
Joe Sheehan: Walter. Is there another?
BL (Bozeman, MT): 113 and 102... not the temperatures, I take it?
Joe Sheehan: Wind gusts.
Those are good numbers for me. Crushed my five-wood all day, but had no short game.
tdees40 (Jersey): Francoeur for Greinke. That sounds like a free Greinke to me. Does either side do this trade?
Joe Sheehan: I do it yesterday if I'm the Braves, and I think reasonably highly of Francoeur, for no apparent reason. If the Royals go out and get another low-OBP guy, I suggested we reintroduce the concept of contraction, toss them and the Marlins, and go back to four seven-team divisions. (So no, I don't like the trade for them.)
bctowns (Chicago, IL): 113 and 102? Any chance you want to play a round for a job at BP, Joe? You can choose the course.
Joe Sheehan: I don't bet with a job like that. Let's just say I'll put you at the top of the list if you win.
Steve (NJ): Where do you see Adam Dunn signing?
Joe Sheehan: Lots of AL teams could use him--I kind of like the Indians sneaking in late to grab him. They could float him in three corners and treat him as Hafner insurance as well.
Brecken (Chicago): I know we don't "really" know what's offered... but when I hear what the Cubs are supposedly offering for Peavy (5 for 1?!? didn't SEA prove that to be bad?) and the only hang-up is moving Marquis...
I understand special talent requires giving something up, but gutting your team of depth seems like a fools errand. Can I really expect this to end well?
Joe Sheehan: You trade five singles for a ten-dollar bill, every day and twice on Sunday. The only guy the Cubs have to worry about losing is Vitters. With that said, I don't think they really need to kill for an SP. They have other issues.
Nate (Miami): The Red Sox are reportedly interested in John Smoltz. Do you think he's a good fit for the 5th spot in the rotation?
Joe Sheehan: He'd be a great signing, because he'll either be good or hurt, and he only costs money. The Red Sox have so much pitching that they can make an upside play without relying on him to be healthy. If he shows up down the stretch, great.
Bill (Baltimore): Wieters 2009 = Soto 2008?
Joe Sheehan: Better. Joe Mauer might be the second-best C in the league by 2010.
Bill (NYC): Do you know the first 3 years are 96M on CC? That is 32/year and only leaves 16M per year for the rest of the deal (if its 160M). That does not sound right...
Joe Sheehan: 3/69. Duh.
mgibson (DC): Would you tear down the Giants? This might be a good moment to deal Cain and Molina. The Renteria deal was non-awful at two years, but why bother with such a mediocre team?
Joe Sheehan: Can you really tear down a team without trade value? Or in a division that was just won with 84 games when you have a 78-win team? The NL is such a strange place.
Phil (NJ): Robbie Cano - should the Yankees stick with him or move him for a young Dodger outfielder (if possible)? What's your gut feeling on his production for the life of the deal he signed?
Joe Sheehan: I would trade him the next time he hits .320. Dealing him now is a waste. He's a better-conditioned, slightly-less-talented Carlos Baerga.
Rafael Furcal (The Wilderness): Should I panic yet? Jody Reed appeared to me in a dream last night, and it kinda freaked me out.
Joe Sheehan: Ha. I just used the comp on XTRA in San Diego. The shortstop holes are being filled, and both he and Cabrera are probably glancing around nervously.
Matt (Whippleville, NY): Johan, Pelfrey, Maine, Garland, Niese is not a playoff rotation is it?
Joe Sheehan: Sure it could be. It will provide innings, and the offense can cover the back-end guys. Garland is an NL guy.
Alf (Los Angeles): I gotta disagree with your assessment of the opt-out clause. CC only exercises it if he reasonably believes he'll get more money with a new deal over the last 4 years of the deal. If that's the case, I would imagine that the Yankees would want to keep him under contract. Unless you're saying that the luxury tax would make him that much less valuable to the Yankees than another team?
Joe Sheehan: That's the general interpretation, I agree. In the case of a the baseball market for pitching, though, risk simply isn't factored in strongly enough. Teams pay too much for past performance. So a 32-yo Sabathia coming off of three good, or even one good, year, is going to get a ton of money, but if you can avoid being the one to pay it--while getting the 29-31 seasons--that's a good thing. This is a specific case in which the opt-out could get the Yankees off the hook for an incredibly high-risk deal, the last four years of this contract.
Lou (Philadelphia): Is it just me, or do you see the Wood/Cleveland signing working out better than the K-Rod/Mets signing? Or does the move to the NL cover up any deficiencies in K-Rod's game?
Joe Sheehan: The variance on 70 innings swamps league differences, so I don't know if we'll be able to isolate the latter's effect on his performance. I think he'll be the same guy he's been, but I really would like to see him throw more fastballs.
fantasyking (Atlanta): Are the Braves going to dance with everyone (Peavy, Burnett) but go home by themselves?
Joe Sheehan: As Javier Vazquez sheds a single tear...
Bogomil (Sepulveda Blvd): I'm looking for color here. What is the breakdown of GMs/Front Office BigWigs that (1) enjoy chatting with you, (2) dislike chatting with you, (3) don't know who you are or what BP is?
Joe Sheehan: I'm not really that guy--most of the people I know in baseball are below the level of "BigWig"--but I'd say it's...70/28/2. I'm decent company, pick up my share of rounds, can tell a story. And you can look over my head easily to spot pretty girls.
BL (Bozeman, MT): Any baseball-types out on the course?
Joe Sheehan: Foursome included two writers whose names you'd know, but I don't want to out them here. If you've been to AFL, you'll know who I mean.
Steve (NJ): With this "glut of corner outfielders," why can't the mets seem to find one? Do you think they're putting too much emphasis on getting a right handed hitter and ignoring the Dunn/Abreu class? I don't want to see them trade for Jose Guillen because he's bats right handed.
Joe Sheehan: I'm not clear on the need for a RHB, but I guess if Murphy plays and you add Abreu or Dunn, you list a bit. Only Wright would be a pure RHB. I would sign the best guy and worry about lineup construction later.
basicslop (Alb): Does Furcal, at 4/$44M, makes sense for the royals. From a financial and team stand point?
Joe Sheehan: No. It's the Meche deal--he'd return value for the money in a series of 75-win seasons.
BL (Bozeman, MT): Given the opportunity, how would you restructure the secondary phase of the Hall of Fame selection process, the phase now in the hand of two veterans committees?
Joe Sheehan: I'd shoot it. One track for players, a committee for non-players.
Bagel (San Diego, CA): Any top 5 right hander list without Pedro Martinez is criminal.
In the immortal words of KLaw, 5 dollars.
Joe Sheehan: It's a peak/career question, with some "timeline" built in. Is there any real way to compare Walter Johnson and Pedro Martinez?
mhixpgh (Pittsburgh): Are you looking forward to the World Baseball Classic? Or do you hold it in disdain?
Joe Sheehan: I enjoyed the games I attended, and while I'm still not thrilled with its execution or timing, I think it's a positive thing for baseball. The MLB Network will be showing a bunch of games, which can only help.
gpbarn9 (KY): Do you think Andy Sonnastine can be more than a number 4 or 5 starter? He has been pretty hittable in the majors despite the low walk rate.
Joe Sheehan: No, that's what he is, a high-contact guy whose ERA will bounce around based on his HR/FB rate. Last year is probably close to the high end (good end) of his range.
Zubin ((Athens, GA)): Thoughts on the four internet writers being admitted to the BBRAA?
Joe Sheehan: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/unfiltered/?p=1125
I was waiting until we made it public. Congratulations to Will and Christina, as well as to Keith Law and Rob Neyer, on being admitted to the BBWAA. It's a big step forward for Baseball Prospectus, and a red-letter day for the Association, in my opinion.
lyricalkiller (OC): Joe, it's not that 3/69 is a bad deal for the Yankees; it probably will be. It's that they absorb all the risk that he doesn't opt out. It's all upside for the player, no upside for the team.
Joe Sheehan: In most cases. In *this* case, I think the upside may be Sabathia pitching well and opting out. Normally that would not be the good situation, but in this one, I think it may, because I don't trust Sabathia to age well.
Justin Zeth (PA): Any chance The Most Consistent Hitter in Baseball History© (A. Dunn) lands anywhere besides Washington? The Cubs are talking about 37 year old Raul Ibanez because they want to balance their lineup... but no Dunn?
Joe Sheehan: Fun perception/reality thing there. Ibanez is an awful left fielder, but because he looks more athletic than Dunn, he's not seen as such.
Jordan (Salem): With Wang slotted in the rotation and Lowe possible on the way, is is time the Yankees seriously considered moving Jeter to first and acquiring a SS like Wilson or Furcal?
Joe Sheehan: If Derek Jeter didn't move off of shortstop when the reigning Gold Glove winner and one of the ten best players ever arrived in town, he won't do it because Derek Lowe is signed.
Justin Zeth (PA): Are we really all certain the Angels won't jump back in on Teixeira now that Sabathia's off the market?
Joe Sheehan: I don't believe they've ever been "out" on him. They recognize that he's a key cog in an offense that lacks what he brings. They also appreciate his defense. Remember, though, that the Angels have spent a ton of money the past few years.
Phil (NJ): Any chance at all that Manny gets 5 years?
Joe Sheehan: I'm not seeing it. What's weird is that if I had an AL team, I could see doing it. He'll hit forever.
timoseppa (CT): Do you really buy Sabathia's changed mechanics c. 2006 as the reason he's gone from an Andy Pettitte finesse type 6.5 K/9 to a power/stuff type 9.0 K/9? That is a really radical difference.
Joe Sheehan: No, I think it's why the walk rate dropped and the pitch efficiency improved. I remember that game quite clearly, and noticing the complete change in his mechanics. The east/west wasted movement was gone, and that enabled him to throw more strikes.
nsmith3 (Dallas): Klaw in his Sabathia writeup: "The problem for the Yankees is the so-called "opt-out clause," better understood as a player option. The Yankees gave Sabathia a three-year deal, and Sabathia then has a four-year option worth roughly $100 million. Player options are universally awful for the signing clubs: they cede control of a big portion of a team's payroll to the player, and they represent a pure downside play, since the player will only choose to stay if he isn't performing well or if he gets injured. There's never a good reason to give a player an opt-out clause, and giving a player one as long as four years is (I believe) unprecedented and (I know) a terrible idea."
Joe Sheehan: One more time: I agree with everything Keith said. In *this* case, however, I see Sabathia as such a long-term risk that I don't want his 32-35 years, even if he pitches well enough to make the opt-out a good idea. I would happily take the three good seasons and let him walk, even if the last four years of the contract looked reasonable come November 2011.
Justin (PA): Joe, not that we don't appreciate it, but you're in Las Vegas, man--what are you doing still here chatting with us schlubs? :)
Joe Sheehan: It's +EV.
Josh (Ft Worth): How likely do you think it is that Texas gets seriously involved with Sheets, and how bad will a 3 year commitment to Sheets end up flaming out?
Joe Sheehan: I think the Rangers would be better served to sit this offseason out and gun for a starting pitcher next year. That could be an FA, or that could be a trade, but they could win, and win big, in 2010, so use this season to decide which prospects--and they have many--are your guys and which are trade bait. Don't force 2009.
DCPhilsphan (Washington, DC): Which is the better deal for 3 yrs/$37 million: K-Rod or Lidge?
Joe Sheehan: Wow, great question.
Probably Rodriguez. He's had the better career, is younger, and has enough pitches to lose a little velocity and still be effectie.
Ameer (Bloomington, IN): A follow-up to the earlier Cubs question - is Pie really a single at this point? And I do think that is a lot of depth to give up.
Joe Sheehan: The Cubs' window is right now. That's why this type of trade makes sense. If they don't win the next two years, they have to start over.
Tony (Brooklyn, NY): Is Kerry Wood going to be a huge bargain for some team?
Joe Sheehan: The Indians, apparently. And I think so.
DKANDREWS1 (DC): How will the Braves acquire another outfield bat? Free agency or trade?
Joe Sheehan: This is the market to shop for left fielders. The Rays, the Mets...INdians, maybe...can just sit around and wait to see who blinks first. I suspect that collectively, these teams are going to sign guys like Dunn, et al, in January to good contracts and get nice performances.
Tom (Oklahoma City): Speaking of Texas -- Do either Salty or Teagarden get 500 plate appearances in 09?
Joe Sheehan: Teagraden is going to be the top guy, because his glove is that good. He could miss that figure just based on how they manage him, but he's clearly #1 now.
Phil (NJ): With four more sane opinions on board, does the BBRAA finally enshrine Rock Raines?
Joe Sheehan: None of the new guys would get a vote until 2018. If four will make a difference then, sure.
gpbarn9 (Lex): If tex goes to Boston, what do the Angels do?
Joe Sheehan: I think they give Kendry Morales another shot, and pocket the money for a better time. They probably like Aybar too much to chasae Furcal, and they don't need another corner OF. I suppose they could sign Dunn for 1B.
Jay (vegas): Haha, im a pro poker player myself, where u been playing?
Have u heard this Putz, Ankiel situation? I think my Cards have got to make this move, we arent goin to do better then that, right?
Joe Sheehan: One session each at Mirage and Caesar's. I am really rusty, haven't played well. I don't see why you trade for Putz, who's had one good year and one great one, when you can keep Ankiel and find something that approximates Putz. There's just no reason to trade for 70 innings.
Phil (NJ): 2018?!? What the hell?
Joe Sheehan: It's a rule. The voting pool for the Hall consists of BBWAA members with ten years' standing.
Todd (Jackson, MI): Is Juan Cruz for real? Career year (mostly in AAA) or a true late bloomer?
Joe Sheehan: Career year.
Coming up on some radio (Boston, Indy, if you're out there) so let's move to the lightning round.
basicslop (Alb): So CC signed that means the rest of the "Dominoes" are going to fall now, right? HOw do you see the dominoes falling?
Joe Sheehan: Burnett and Lowe, then one of the outfielders followed by the rest. I think Teixeira plays Hamlet through the bowl season. (Caveat: I am not good at predicting the flow of the market.)
Bob (Lakewood, CO): Lightning round: For 2009, Iannetta or Doumit?
Joe Sheehan: Iannetta. It's close.
ericturner29 (Chicago): A huge bargain?? At $10M for 65 innings? Really??
Joe Sheehan: What's a marginal win for a team like the Indians, close to the postseason $3.5M? Wood's at least a four-win guy.
ericturner29 (Chicago): The ten years standing rule is to ensure the voters are only crusty old curmudgons.
Joe Sheehan: Won't work. Keith will only be 26 when he gets his tenth year.
Charlie (Bethesda, MD): Does Manny to the Yankees make sense? He can play LF and then eventually DH. Then trade Matsui, right?
Joe Sheehan: Matsui's no-trade clause has been a sticking point.
Charlie (Bethesda, MD): Does Manny to the Yankees make sense? He can play LF and then eventually DH. Then trade Matsui, right?
Joe Sheehan: Matsui's no-trade clause has been a sticking point.
TonyMollica (Athens, Ohio): Which Fausto Carmona is for real, 2007 or 2008?
Joe Sheehan: 2007. Skill set is there.
Joe Sheehan: The server is really slowing down, so I'm going to pull up stakes now. Thanks for all the great questions. I'll be back after the holidays to see what's left on the market!