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MLB Free Agents – Where Did They Land

Back in early November, I predicted where 30 of MLB’s free agents would sign and how much they would sign for. Now I’m going back to that post and seeing how well I did.

I, like many free agents, agents and GM’s, did not anticipate the economy’s dip hitting baseball as hard as it did. As a result, only five of the thirty free agents signed deals worth more than I predicted for them.

I correctly pegged the teams for 14 of 30 free agents and got the years right for 12 of them. I didn’t get any of the money parts right but was within $5 million for five free agents (Burnett, Bradley, Moyer, Renteria and Affeldt)

Here’s a table outlining my predictions and what actually happened.

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New Yankee Rotation

While not yet official, ’tis the season of letter in the Bronx. CC and AJ will join the 2009 Yankee rotation, for better or worse.

I think they seriously overpaid for both pitchers, but they added two guys who seriously miss bats. The first four starters for the Yankees line up as such:

CC Sabathia
Chien-Ming Wang
AJ Burnett
Joba Chamberlain

For the fifth spot, they’ll probably try and convince Andy Pettitte to come back around ten or twelve million. If that doesn’t work, I assume they’ll fill the fifth spot by an internal competition between the likes of Phil Hughes, Al Aceves, Ian Kennedy and the like. I don’t think they’ll feel comfortable handing a four or five year deal to Derek Lowe or $13 million for another injury risk, Ben Sheets.

I was extremely wary of AJ Burnett, as he certainly isn’t the poster boy for consistency. But he might just be that guy for the “filthy stuff” fraternity. The one thing that makes me a little more comfortable with Burnett’s signing is the fact that the Braves were willing to match the Yankees offer.

If there’s a team that’s better at evaluating pitching talent than the Braves, I’m all ears. Any pitcher Atlanta’s braintrust is confident in, I’ll go along with.

If the Yankees can bring Angy Pettitte back, that will allow Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy to get some much-needed Triple-A innings and Joba Chamberlain to get a start off every now and then to control his innings.

Five years from now we may be asking Brian Cashman what the hell he was thinking, or, we may be praising his genius. Here’s to hoping it’s the latter.

Today’s Idiot: Tom Haudricourt

MLB’s Winter Meetings are currently going on and nearly every baseball mind in the country is in and around the Bellagio in Vegas for the next few days.

An Milwaukee writer, Tom Haudricourt, was overheard saying that he’s looking forward to the Yankees signing both of Milwaukee’s free agent pitchers, CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets because then the Breweres would “get both the Yankees first round picks”.

And that is why there are only a select few baseball writers that I bother to read anymore. Let me explain. Free agents are classified into two levels based on their production the past two years. Type A or Type B. Although I don’t exactly get how these ratings are handed out, that’s how it is.

If a Type A free agent is offered arbitration and signs with another team, then the original team gets the new teams first round draft pick and a sandwich-round pick. If this happens with a Type B, then all the original team gets is the sandwich pick.

CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets (even though Sheets didn’t hit 200 IP the past two seasons) are Type A free agents. So the Milwaukee writer assumed that if the Yankees signed both players, the Brewers would get both of the Yankees picks.

The draft order is set in reverse order of the previous season’s standings, meaning teams only get one first round pick. If a team fails to sign it’s first round pick then it gets a compensation pick in the same place the next year. And this is the case with the Yankees. However, the compensation pick is protected and can’t be lost due to a free agent signing.

You’d think a major league beat writer would know simple things about the game he’s covering.

UPDATE 8:29 – Just added the guy’s name as he was identified. The name sounded familiar, so I googled him. Turns out, Haudricourt is the same guy that submitted NL MVP ballot about a month ago.

He had Philadelphia first baseman Ryan Howard as his MVP and ranked eventual winner Albert Pujols seventh on his ballot. He covers the Brewers and had three Brewers in his top 10, two ahead of Pujols.

Haudricourt says he “credits players for lifting their teams to the post-season or at least keeping them in the race until the very end.”

The very end part is probably why he voted Carlos Delgado three spaces ahead of Pujols. The Mets finished a game out of the wild card and the Cardinals only finished 4 games out of the wild card. Not too much of a difference. The Cardinals weren’t eliminated mathematically until the last week of the season.

Pujols’ numbers in the “stretch run” were also much more impressive than Delgado’s:

Delgado: .308-.392-.626, 47 XBH, 80 RBI (38.2 VORP*)
Pujols: .356-.444-.664, 50 XBH, 73 RBI (98.7 VORP)

Advantage, Pujols, not even taking into account Pujols’ extreme advantage on defense.

My point is that I have no idea how this clown got a job covering baseball. He obviously has no clue about the game apart from what he might happen upon on ESPN or something. Maybe this guy played a part in CC Sabathia’s decision to become a Yankee, and if that’s the case I’m glad this blatantly biased writer continues to apply his trade.

*VORP stands for Value Over Replacement Player and demonstrates how much a hitter contributes offensively or how much a pitcher contributes to his team in comparison to a fictitious “replacement player,” who is an average fielder at his position and a below average hitter