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Nov
02
2011

Fired Up: Getting A Jump On The MLB Hot Stove

The Major League Baseball “Hot Stove” season has begun in earnest and Christopher Carelli has it covered.

Once the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series, MLB turned its attention, and quickly to the offseason. The “Hot Stove” has increasingly become a sport within the sport over the last several years. With numerous media outlets, blogs and the Twittersphere reporting every rumor, the Hot Stove has forged a tie to what was once a long gap between the postseason and spring training.

Let me introduce the newest FanMan Feature, Fired Up. The column will not be a rumor mill aggregate or a prediction generator. What it will provide you is a thorough analysis of free agent signings, trades, and arbitration settlements/cases throughout the Hot Stove season.

The column will feature player profiles, comparable players available to the signing team, estimated future production and worth to the team, and mainly a complete analysis of the transaction. The column will run regularly on Fridays and occasional Wednesdays depending on activity around the league.

Derek Lowe Traded to Cleveland Indians

In an effort to provide an idea of how the column will fold out, I’ll review the trade made on Monday between the Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians. Atlanta traded veteran righty Derek Lowe to the Cleveland Indians for a minor league reliever and agreed to pay $10 million of Lowe’s $15 million salary for 2012. In what is a pure salary dump for Atlanta, Lowe returns to the American League, but in arguably a weaker division than when he last pitched in the AL for the Boston Red Sox.

Derek Lowe Stats Last 5 Seasons

Year Tm W L ERA GS IP WHIP HR/9 BB/9 SO/9
2007 LAD 12 14 3.88 32 199.1 1.269 0.9 2.7 6.6
2008 LAD 14 11 3.24 34 211.0 1.133 0.6 1.9 6.3
2009 ATL 15 10 4.67 34 194.2 1.515 0.7 2.9 5.1
2010 ATL 16 12 4.00 33 193.2 1.368 0.8 2.8 6.3
2011 ATL 9 17 5.05 34 187.0 1.508 0.7 3.4 6.6
15 Seasons 166 146 3.94 356 2515.2 1.313 0.7 2.6 5.9
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/1/2011.

The Indians acquire an extreme ground ball pitcher to add to their already ground ball inducing rotation. He has a 1.65 ground ball to fly ball ratio over the course of his career, compared with a league average of .79. Certainly this is the way you would want to build a pitching staff for Progressive Field, a predominately hitter friendly environment. They also get an absolute workhorse in terms of games started. He has started at least 32 games every season since 2002, when the Red Sox converted him from a closer to starter. Granted Lowe does not miss many bats and is prone to the walk, but he keeps the ball in the stadium as witnessed by his HR/9 ratio (see table above) during his 15 year career. He adds a veteran presence to a young rotation.

In terms of money, the Indians are only paying $5 million for Lowe’s services for the upcoming season, the final year of his 4 year/$60 million contract. Though Lowe turns 39 on June 1, 2012, there are few, if any, players on the free agent market the Indians could have gotten for this kind of money and with no commitment beyond this season. The Indians can expect a better player than Lowe’s ERA showed in 2011. His FIP was 3.70 according to FanGraphs which shows he was let down by inferior fielding in Atlanta. While the Indians infield is by no means great at covering their positions, but they fared better than Atlanta’s infield in 2011.

The Braves received a minor league reliever, Chris Jones, and the relief of $5 million from their payroll. It also allows Atlanta to bring up one of their talented young starters, such as highly regarded righty Julio Teheren to take Lowe’s spot in the rotation. They will be able to reinvest the $5 million to aid in rounding out the roster.

The Options Game

There was a flurry of notable options declined and accepted Monday as well. Players who have become free agents include, SP Roy Oswalt, OF Grady Sizemore, RP Francisco Cordero, and 2B Aaron Hill. The Cincinnati Reds picked up the $12 million option on 2B Brandon Phillips, probably the top player kept by his team Monday.

Top Free Agents

Now that CC Sabathia has decided not to opt out of his contract and accepted a contract extension which keeps him a New York Yankee through at least 2016, the free agent list is down one potential player. Friday’s column will delve into the extension given to Sabathia.

The free agent class is an excellent one even without Sabathia. Albert Pujols, fresh off a World Series Championship, and possibly the best hitter in the game is probably going to test the market, as is fellow 1B Prince Fielder. Two top shortstops, Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins are looking for new contracts. David Ortiz and Aramis Ramirez are among the bigger bats on the market after Pujols and Fielder. Jonathan Papelbon and Heath Bell are the top relievers in addition to Cordero, who still may return to Cincinnati. C.J. Wilson is probably going to be the most sought after starter now that Sabathia extended with the Yankees.

Check back with us as future columns will feature analysis on transactions involving these players as well as others throughout the remainder of the offseason.

Christopher Carelli writes for TheFanManifesto. He can be followed on twitter at @BaseballStance.

Follow the entire FanMan team  on twitter at @TheFanManifesto, or like FanMan on facebook by clicking here.

2 comments

  1. Peter says:

    If he is posted, Yu Darvish could be a big story over the winter break and a potential topic for a future Fired Up column. The general lack of success of Japanese pitchers in the major league has made most fans wary of the next-big-thing coming out of Japan, but I think Darvish could be the exception.

    1. Christopher Carelli says:

      Peter,
      No doubt that Darvish would be a topic for Fired Up. I agree, based on what’s been written about him, he could finally break the mold of Japanese pitching busts. Part of the issue with pitchers coming from Japan, is that by the time they are able to post, they have reached or will soon reach the peak of their career path. If he posts, he will certainly cash in. We’ll see if it works out for the team who wins the bid.
      -Chris

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