Less than a week away from Christmas, plenty of teams are more than willing to open their gifts early. In what follows I’ll touch on a few of the players who have recently decided where they should send their holiday greetings from.
Rick Ankiel: The Nationals took a chance on Monday and signed Rick Ankiel to a 1-year deal worth $1.5 million (there are performance bonuses built in to the deal – reportedly up to $1.25 million). Ankiel will likely battle with Roger Bernadina for playing time in left field, though if Nyjer Morgan doesn’t turn his life around and perform better on the field, the defensively gifted Ankiel could also see time in center field. Ankiel hit .264 with 25 homers in 2008, but over the past two years he has batted a meager .232 with 17 homers. There are plenty of holes in his swing leading to a bushel of strikeouts (once every 3.69 at-bats), but the power is legit. Ankiel has hit a homer every 22.8 at-bats in his career which would equate to 18 homers over the course of 400 at-bats. He’s worth keeping a close eye on in NL-only leagues.
Zack Greinke: I always do what I can to mooch off Ted Carlson, he’s a smart guy and a wonderful writer, so I’m gonna point everyone to his full review of the Greinke to Brewers move in From Blue to Brew. My thoughts? Good for the Brewers. They can now team Greinke with Yovani Gallardo and Shaun Marcum for a fantastic top-3 that rivals the best in the NL. I know I’m gonna hear it from Phillies and Giants fans, so let’s do a side by side comparison of each teams top-3 hurlers based on their 2010 numbers.
Brewers: Zack Greinke, Yovani Gallardo, Shaun Marcum
Phillies: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt (sorry Cole Hamels)
Giants: Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez
Brewers: 37-29, 3.90 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 8.19 K/9 in 600.1 IP
Phillies: 46-32, 3.04 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 7.96 K/9 in 674.2 IP
Giants: 42-30, 3.22 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 8.77 K/9 in 629 IP
OK, maybe the Brewers threesome didn’t quite matchup, but admit it, it’s a lot closer than you though it would be other than that unsightly ERA, isn’t it?
Austin Kearns: Signed a 1-year deal with the Indians. I joked earlier at the BaseballGuys’ Twitter account that Kearns seems to always fool someone into given him 300 at-bats. Looks like it will be the Indians chance this season. I’m not going to deny that Kearns has some talent, but com on now. He is always hurt and frequently doesn’t contribute much of anything above a replacement level type bat, a fact that can clearly be seen when you place his career slash line (.257/.353/.423) against that of the league during his career (.268/.339/.429).
Ricky Nolasco: The Marlins and Nolasco finally agreed on a deal that will buy out his final two years of arbitration and his first year of free agency. His haul comes to $26.5 million over three years. While that seems like a whole lot of cashola for a guy who has posted ERA’s of 5.06 and 4.51 the past two years, I think it’s a great signing for the Marlins. Some facts that cover the last three years (minimum 480 innings pitched).
(1) Nolasco has allowed 10.99 base runners per nine innings, the 16th best mark in baseball and ahead of guys like Matt Cain (11.07), Jon Danks (11.36), Justin Verlander (11.51) and Clayton Kershaw (11.57).
(2) Nolasco has the seventh best K/9 rate in the game at 8.56, better than Dan Haren (8.53), Josh Johnson (8.51), Zack Greinke (8.37) and Ubaldo Jimenez (8.23).
(3) Nolasco is fourth in baseball with a 4.44 K/BB mark. The major league average the past three years is just 2.07.
So how in the world does he have a 4.31 ERA the past three years? Great question, especially when his FIP mark has been 3.77, 3.35 and 3.86 the past three seasons signifying that he is indeed performing at a very high level. Bad luck maybe?
I’ll tell you this. If you asked me where would I draft a guy with a K/9 rate over 8.50 and a K/BB rate of nearly 4.50, I would tell you top-20 amongst starters for sure. In fact, I’d probably be able to make an argument for at least including that arm in my top-15, and that’s exactly why I think the Marlins did so well here – there just aren’t that many pitchers in baseball of baseball who can post a K/9 mark of 8.50 and a K/BB rate of better than 4.40 to one. In fact, over the last three years there have only been two men who have accomplished that feat – Mr. Nolasco and Mr. Haren.
Chan Ho Park: The 37 year old righty is likely done as a big league pitcher after signing a deal with the Orix Buffaloes of Japan. Park, who once allowed two grand slams to Fernando Tatis in one inning (April 23, 1999), would retire from the big leagues with 124 victories and 1,715 strikeouts in just under 2,000 innings (1993). Hopefully he will be content pitching closer to his homeland of Korea.
By Ray Flowers