Just a bit outside

Atlanta Braves RP Luis Avilan gave up five runs on four hits in an inning of work. SP Ervin Santana worked six innings, struck out 11, walked two and allowed a solo home run to Phillies 1B Ryan Howard. 

There’s really something wrong with that equation. 

Indians SP Salazar has historic night of extremes and what it says about his future

   Cleveland Indians SP Danny Salazar is amazing when he’s on and awful when he’s not. Against the Chicago White Sox at home Thursday night, he was both.

   Salazar struck out 10 hitters. From the first to second inning, he recorded all six outs by way of the K. White Sox 1B Jose Abreu homered. Otherwise White Sox hitters looked as off-balanced as David Bowie and Mick Jagger’s video for “Dancing in the Streets.” They looked like they were dancing. 

   It got stranger and historic.  

   Salazar recorded all his outs but one* through the punch out. Before the fourth inning, Salazar had done what no other pitcher since 1914 had done — record 10 or more strikeouts without throwing a single pitch in the fourth inning. Only Seattle’s Felix Hernandez had struck out as many batters in less innings (10 Ks in 4.0 innings, one earned run, four walks in a 3-2 win against the L.A. Angels of Anaheim). 

   The 24-year-old was yanked with one at bat left in the fourth inning. He had allowed five runs on six hits and two walks, with two HRs and a double. He’d thrown 93 pitches and allowed three fly balls and three ground balls. In his first start against the Minnesota Twins on April 4, Salazar allowed 14 fly balls to four ground balls. For the season he’s got more home runs allowed (3) than starts (2).  

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Freddy Garcia Gets Fingered

 “Thank God we signed Freddy Garcia.”

— Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez

Signing Freddy Garcia at this stage in his career constitutes no such victories. But when you’re managing a team that lost its two best young pitchers to second TJ surgeries, you’ll be kneeling in front of whatever higher power for sending Garcia your way. 

Oh, and Mike Minor and Gavin Floyd won’t be ready until late April to early May. Ervin Santana signed late and might miss a couple of weeks as he gets up to game speed. 

If there’s a team who momentarily needed any body that’s half-breathing, it’s the Braves. But Gus Schlosser will take Garcia’s spot instead. 

Who?

The Braves cut ties with the 37-year-old crafty righty after it was clear that they had no intention of promoting him to the big league roster. 

Garcia was average in 2013, going 4-7 with a 4.37 ERA / 94 adjusted ERA for the Baltimore Orioles and the Braves. He was pretty good with the Braves. Or pretty lucky. He threw 31 innings over three starts and six appearances, with a 1.65 ERA. He also started Atlanta’s most important game last season, Game Four of the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was a must win. He gave up two runs over six innings. The Braves were winning. The Braves lost. 

Garcia was set to make $1.5 million had he made the big league roster, but Atlanta instead chose the 24-year-old Schlosser. The right-hander flashed dominant stuff in the low minors, having back-to-back 8.00 plus strikeout-to-walk ratio. That hasn’t translated Double A Mississippi, striking out six batters per nine innings. Still, he flashed a sub 3.00 ERA and did well in five spring appearances, including two starts. He struck out more than eight batters per nine innings, worked 13.1 innings and carried a 2.03 ERA. 

Atlanta has a Golden Goose that shits out starters. 

Gonzalez will go with Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, David Hale and Schlosser to start the season. Atlanta won’t likely need a fifth starter until mid-April, and by then Santana will most likely be ready. 

No, they didn’t need Garcia after all. 

Santana, Johan not Ervin, inks deal with the Baltimore Orioles

For all purposes, Johan Santana gave his left nut to the Minnesota Twins, and was completely castrated by the time he left the Mets. 

Don’t feel bad for Santana, once the best pitcher in baseball. In his career Santana has cleared close to $160 million in earnings, and was once baseball’s highest paid pitchers. He averaged $25 million a year in his last two seasons with the Mets* before the team bought him out for $5.5 million

*Santana missed the entire 2013 season. Because Mets. 

Despite initial scouting reports that pegged his fastball at 81 mph tops, Santana was signed to a $3 million minor league deal by the Baltimore Orioles. He’s not just the highest paid minor leaguer thus far, but he can earn $5.05 million if he pitches enough games for the mothership. 

It’s no less responsible than the Angels signing Mark Mulder to a minor league deal that could have topped out at $6 million. After all, Santana was pitching in 2012, and is one year younger. 

Santana’s fastball-changeup combo won’t work, not in the American League East and its smaller stadiums, if he can’t get his velocity back up. He’s not quite the Santana Orioles fans were lusting after. Ervin might just have to wait longer, until the Blue Jays snap. Baltimore may be done shopping. The Duke don’t pay $3 million base salaries to guys he expects to stash in the minors for perhaps the entire season. 

That belief could turn into fool’s betting odds.Santana enters his age-34 season having lost two of five entire seasons. He hasn’t made more than 30 starts since 2008, the last year he was good, the last year The Killers held any significance. There’s scores of college kids fucking and drinking who think The Killers is a retro act. 

It doesn’t take Sloan-sold formulas to figure out the state of Santana. His fuel tank blew in service of a then non-existent Mets conceit of having a pitcher throw a no-hitter. 

Baltimore would have been better off stealing Ervin Santana now, especially since the team’s core has until 2015 before another turnover. If they’re really done spending, Joe Saunders would have been a better option. 

But weirder things i.e. Bartolo Colon has happened in the near past. Santana’s former team is gambling that Colon happens again. So why not Santana in a new team? You kinda wish he stayed in the National League while avoiding Colorado at all costs, but there’s also a creeping sensation that it might not matter in the end. 

Astros sign RHP Williams, a case study in effective dumpster diving practices

The Houston Astros look mighty smart this off-season, and you could even forgive them for signing Scott Feldman to a long-term pact because $10 million a year is affordable for any team, more so to one that owns its own cable network. 

GM Jeff Luhnow built his front office chops by honing St. Louis’ scouting and talent development into the juggernaut that reached the World Series twice in three seasons, so no one’s really surprised at how Houston shifted from being results oriented to being process oriented. 

The Astros agreed to an incentive-laden one-year deal with swingman RHP Jerome Williams Monday. It’s an underwhelming move by all accounts. But the principle behind it isn’t. 

After returning to pitch stateside in 2011 for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, he’s compiled a 19-18 record in 79 games* and in 351 innings has allowed a 4.46 ERA / 85 adjusted ERA / 6.0 k/9 / 2.22 K-to-BB ratio. 

*More than half of which came as a starter. 

There’s almost no saving grace, except an extreme 50 percent ground ball rate, decent ERA independent of fielding and keeping a once troubling walk rate** that chased him out of the league under control.

*Comparable to Feldman’s. 

**He sported an 8.0 B/9 rates in his last stint with the Cubs, and that didn’t really go down after moving to the Washington Nationals. Taiwan and Far Eastern medicine fixed all that. 

   There may have been troubling developments in 2013 that made the Angels blush at paying the veteran about $4 million after arbitration. His line drive and fly ball rates are up and his ground ball rates are down. But his velocity actually increased a mile an hour each for his four seamer (92 mph), cutter (89 mph), curve ball (79 mph) and change-up (85 mph).

   I’d much rather bet on Williams, as the Astros have done, than wager on a 36-year-old whose career ended five seasons ago, because of shoulder problems. Or one more round with Joe Blanton in any role.

   Because here’s the thing where common sense kicks in.

   Call it the Dan Duquette Doctrine. When asked what made him think Wei Yin Chen could succeed in the Majors during the 2012 season, the Duke had a simple answer — he’s a lefty, he throws more than 90 mph and he’s good at hitting his target. Replace “lefty” with “extreme ground baller” and you’re pretty much operating on the same no-shit principle.   

  Ground balls won’t always deflate homeritis. Sometimes it doesn’t matter. Williams is sometimes.

   In three seasons, Williams never had a GB rate below 47 percent, and yet he averaged more than a home run per nine innings, with below league average HR/FB rates that never went below 13 percent* and it’s more than bad luck. Williams relies on a cut fastball as his most used secondary pitch. Thing is, if the ball doesn’t cut, it’s a batting practice cock shot. If Williams’ cutter was any more effective, I doubt we’ll be talking about him being non-tendered, or finding gainful employment with any other team but the Astros. 

*I’m cheating. Kind of. Williams’ lowest HR/FB ratio was 12.8 percent, and that’s when he pitched just 44 innings in his first season in Anaheim. While on the subject, Williams plays in a notorious run suppressing environment. 

   Contrast that to Chen, an extreme fly ball pitcher (career 36 percent) with essentially the same strikeout, walk and home run rates as Williams, but has a better HR/FB ratio and is less prone to hanging meatballs over the plate. That basically comes out to about half a run allowed a game over the course of one season. If you think, oh, that’s hardly a difference, let me give you an illustration:

   Pitcher A posts six Ks, 2.5 walks and 1.12 HR per nine innings. At the end of the season, assume he throws 140 innings and ends up with a 4.56 ERA. 

   Pitcher B has the same peripherals, throws 140 innings and ends up with a 4.04 ERA. 

   That half-run difference valued Chen at two wins. Williams meanwhile was worth less than half-a-win. 

   But a process that works takes more than one step. Identifying pitchers like Williams, who owns the sort of tools few people in the world possess isn’t by any means an end point. Consider how well a pitcher did last season. Plus points if he actually pitched. Subtract points if the pitcher last saw action five years* ago. Add points if the pitcher is a no-name projected to prevent runs as effectively as free agents Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana. 

*I badly want need Mark Mulder to succeed, and I’ve settled that bar low to accommodate my selfishness: seven to 10 games, 5.00 ERA thereabouts. Fuck, one Major League start is a rousing success. But I’m not betting my Cup Noodles stash, even if I have the opportunity to double it, with an added incentive of winning a gigantic bottle of Tapatio and a month’s supply of limes.  

   Using Steamers’ equation, here’s a comp for five pitchers and how they’re projected to do in 2014:

- Williams: 4.28 ERA / 3.93 FIP in 96 innings.

- Santana: 3.96 ERA / 3.71 FIP in 192 innings.

- Jimenez: 4.03 ERA / 3.79 FIP in 186 innings.

- Feldman: 4.35 ERA / 3.99 FIP in 173 innings.

- Bronson Arroyo: 4.49 ERA / 4.25 FIP in 202 innings.

In case you’re into torture porn and get high on schadenfreude, here’s ZiPS’ projections for Blaton and Mulder:

Blaton: 118 innings, seven K’s and a shade under two walks per nine, 76 adjusted ERA.

Mulder: 10.2 innings, more than five K’s and three walks per nine, and a 75 adjusted ERA.  

   So of course the Angels hang on to Blanton and pursue Mulder while allowing Williams to play for division rivals. 

   The likelihood of Williams appearing in 170 effective innings isn’t as great. He’s probably best suited to start some games, and come in long relief on others. Barring injuries, Jimenez, Feldman and Santana are worth more wins, and are clearly better pitchers when everything’s taken into account. 

   But signing Williams shouldn’t be viewed in a vacuum of other variables. Come hell, they’ll be comfortable giving us more Bo Porter faces. At this stage, however, Luhnow has assembled a young first four — Feldman, Jarred Cosart, Brett Oberholtzer and Brad Peacock. Behind them and arranged for a competition for a fifth spot in spring, including Williams, Dallas Kuechel and former first round pick Alex White. Sometime soon Mark Appel and Mike Foltynewicz could be big league ready. 

   Dumpster diving is firstly a numbers game. The Astros have learned to rummage the right way. 

A.J. Burnett will pitch in 2014, and why he’s more valuable than we initially think

A.J. Burnett will pitch in 2014. More than that, he’s a free agent. 

Meaning Pittsburgh won’t get a hometown discount. Meaning Burnett, who mulled retirement as a Pirate. Somewhere in that narrative we heard that if he were to pitch at all, it would be in Pittsburgh. 

We believed it. 

Burnett is pushing 40, has been on two World Series teams, and by any measure has had a long and outstanding career. What better way to cap a standout career than to be on the staff of the first Pirates team to make the playoffs after a decades long absence. There was an illusion that Burnett was the staff’s ace. The more myth-inclined who relish on the occasion and the backstory will give enough credence to support that non-fact. 

It turns out Burnett was playing hard to get, and the Pirates didn’t seem to want him bad enough. 

Burnett will test the open market, and will probably get a two-year deal in the $24 million to $26 million range. He won’t take less even if the O’s are his only option, and it won’t come to that because Bartolo Colon just got paid. 

His ERA has been sparkling since moving to the weaker NL Central, but Burnett was really somewhere around league average. And he could still strike plenty a batter out, even leading the NL in strikeouts per nine innings with 9.8. That always helps a pitcher’s cause, and give or take a 4.40 ERA to 3.80 ERA depending on how the wind blows and in what stadium, with maybe two runners on walks, it sort of doesn’t matter where Burnett pitches at this stage in his career. 

He’s not as good as Kuroda, but it’s reasonable to expect at least 180 innings of strikeout stuff. The rest is up to the baseball gods and the other parts your team’s constructed with. 

Like, if the Texas Rangers signed A.J. Burnett as insurance, it would do a whole lot more good than Burnett going to the Houston Astros. Or to a lesser extreme case, the Baltimore Orioles. 

And more probably, interest in him is highest in the National League, where he revived himself to Blue Jays-like levels, at least superficially, than the two putrid years in New York that served to at least temporarily kill his value in the American League East. 

So a word to the Orioles — Burnett won’t solve anything, if your problem is how to get to the postseason. He’ll offer a nudge. Based on past performance in the division, he’s just as likely to be a liability. 

The Reds have an impending need to keep up in the arms race, and Burnett is a token figurehead that could let Tony Cingrani ease into the rotation. There’s always a need for a sixth starter — and at this point, Burnett is probably more efficient if you let him peak towards August and not before. 

But he’s a competitor yada yada, and he’ll want to pitch the full season, and I get it. He still vaults past innings-eating Bronson Arroyo because of the strikeouts, and because Burnett has historically been better than Arroyo. 

If there’s one lesson Bartolo Colon can teach us, it’s that older pitchers who were above average when they were younger tend to be good bounceback candidates. I hope they instill more stringent medical records so we can avoid spectacles like Ramon Ortiz’s arm snapping like it was runover by a possessed NASCAR. 

In an even argument, I’m taking Burnett over Arroyo. 

And if Burnett takes less years, he could be as valuable as four years of Ervin Santana or three years of Ubaldo Jimenez. 

The Red Sox have applied this principle with position players. And to a degree, they were successful with Jake Peavy and John Lackey, and Lackey especially stepped up through a full season and the entire playoffs. On the same principle, Toronto enjoyed success with a bounceback from Mark Buehrle, proving that to certain pitchers, a switch in leagues don’t matter much. 

There are fair questions of health as the pitcher pushes 40, and the multi-year commitment and market price annual average value tied to such a volatile age. Burnett’s arm isn’t as immune to wear and tear than Arroyo’s, and so you have to balance those expectations in a way that can rationalize giving Arroyo the same kind of money.

The two veterans will likely sign for the same years and amount. 

But it’s not like Burnett can blow up like Joe Blanton all of a sudden, not if he’s pitching healthy, and at least not in 2014. 

He might even take it year-to-year, increasing his value even more. 

The good bet is he signs with Baltimore because it’s closer to home. There is a need to hit a jackpot, and it sure beats signing Delmon Young and shopping for the empty or open roster spots with Bubbles Depo discount items. 

But he’ll sign in Seattle because they’ll give him that one year, and it’s chill enough for him to be his quirky self. 

Or the Dodgers. Never count out the Dodgers.

There is in short more risk

What’s in store for the four teams that SP Tanaka spurned

The decision is in. Free agent starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka agreed to a seven-year deal with the New York Yankees. 

Up until today, at least five teams were reported to be finalists for Tanaka’s services, including the two Chicago teams, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks. 

Here’s what’s in store for the runners up, and the remaining free agents who waited Tanaka out.

Los Angeles Dodgers

   So they’re saying Magic Johnson’s money has limits after all? No, not really. 

   When someone from the Dodgers organization claimed that the team won’t be outbid for Tanaka’s services, he wasn’t exactly blowing smoke. 

   But the generous estimates had Tanaka making $120 million to $140 million, excluding the posting fee. Signing Tanaka to $155 million, however, means that they’ll be paying more for an untested major leaguer than to Zack Greinke, a former Cy Young winner still in his prime. 

   The concept of pragmatism may have hit the Dodgers in the early stages of extension talks for SS Hanley Ramirez, by far the team’s best hitter in 2013. Losing Ramirez to a broken rib after getting beaned by a 95 mph Joe Kelly fastball was a bigger factor in the team not reaching the World Series more than its lack of pitching. 

   As it is, the Dodgers will enter 2014 with two aces (Clayton Kershaw, Greinke), an above average Hyun Jin Ryu (who pitched like a nominal ace but is a candidate for regression that nonetheless projects him as a solid mid-rotation starter), three potential bounce back veterans* and stud pitching prospect Zach Lee**.

*Chad Billingsley is recovering from Tommy John surgery and could be available by June. Josh Beckett could break camp in the rotation after thoracic outlet syndrome, though his chances aren’t as good. Chris Carpenter, Noah Lowry, Shaun Marcum and Matt Harrison are among the high profile athletes who suffered from a condition that leads to numbness of the finger tips, leading to weakened grips. At this stage in his career Dan Haren is a back-end starter. But here’s a lesson for us — past production is still the most accurate gauge for determining success. 

**Lee posted his best season as a 21-year-old in Double A, maintaining his stingy walk rates and above average strikeout rates. It should surprise no one if he makes the team out of camp, or by the end of May. 

   And you know what’s stopping the Dodgers from signing two (or fuck it, even three) of Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza and Ervin Santana? 

   Nothing. 

Chicago Cubs

   President Theo Epstein has sounded regretful at times for taking a job he didn’t realize was this challenging. 

   While Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer built up the club’s once depleted farm system, the Cubs remain dangerously low on incoming pitching prospects after stocking up on outfielders. Javier Baez, the team’s top prospect, is a shortstop. 

   Adding Tanaka might have accelerated Chicago’s process, but it has no reason to bring in over-30 starters like Santana, Garza or Jimenez. 

   Look for Epstein to be active in mid-rotation types like Paul Maholm and Jason Hammel, the types of assets who could be of some value if the Cubs aren’t in contention by the July non-waiver trade deadline. 

  Jeff Samardzija could also be available, but Chicago has talent to make a play for David Price as well. 

Chicago White Sox

   Entering the Tanaka sweeps wasn’t really a surprise given how active the club’s been and GM Rick Hahn’s pronouncement that 2014 will not be spent rebuilding. 

   The White Sox have been aggressive this winter, complimenting the smart acquisition of OF Avisail “Mini MIggy” Garcia with Cuban slugger Jose Abreu, 3B prospect Matt Davidson and defensive wunderkind CF Adam Eaton.

   But they’ll need more pitching after beefing up the bullpen with Scott Downs and Ronald Bellisario. Some of it could come in house, with prospects Erik Johnson and Daniel Webb speeding through the minors. 

   Their aggressiveness in the Tanaka derby could nudge them to sign one of the three best remaining free agent pitchers I’ve mentioned ad naseum. 

   For the first time in years the White Sox are counting on a young pool of talent that could help it secure one of two available wild card spots.

   I’m calling it now — they’ll be aggressive on Ubaldo Jimenez. 

Arizona Diamondbacks

Speaking of aggressive …

   GM Kevin Towers has made another flurry of risk-reward bets in the off-season. He’s far from done. 

   The Dbacks went as high as they could on Tanaka — and CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that none of the five finalists bid under six years and $120 million — so the money’s there. 

   Arizona will also receive a huge boost from a new TV deal. 

   Towers could avoid the remaining free agent pitchers — the fallout from Tanaka’s record deal could mean that Garza, Santana and Jimenez are in line for $100 million plus deals, though the Dbacks could flinch on Garza. 

   Having Archie Bradley on the pipeline could also mean A) an ace in the making, or B) the most attractive type of asset to loosen a team’s grip on David Price, Cliff Lee or Homer Bailey. 

Unless the Mariners contract the Yakuza, free agent SP Tanaka will have but one place to go

Major League Baseball rigged the posting system agreement with Japan to give teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals a plausible shot at landing an expensive import. 

After agreeing to cap bids at $20 million, a move that essentially makes coveted Japanese right hander Masahiro Tanaka a free agent, MLB also revealed that winning bids will be paid in four installments. That’s a better deal than a Sears layaway microwave!

Even pro baseball’s poor and immigrants have a chance at giving Tanaka the American dream. No one will be surprised if there are more teams who bid than those who don’t. 

Tanaka, 25, hasn’t pitched a major league inning but turnt up Nippon Baseball with a 24-0 record and a 1.24 ERA, impressive enough numbers that combined with his youth and a lack of a stateside big name veteran to make him the best available free agent starting pitcher. 

If you don’t believe me, look at Matt Garza, Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez, all waiting on Tanaka to get signed before resolving their employment status. 

But the teams favored to sign Tanaka are all flush with cash, and for good reason. Tanaka is expected to break the $100 million barrier, one Daisuke Matsuzaka and Yu Darvish would have likely reached had they not been attached to more than $50 million each, money that didn’t go to their pockets. 

The Yankees, Cubs, Dodgers, Angels and Mariners have the cash. The Diamondbacks have the motivation to revenge piss on the Dodgers’ metaphorical pool. The White Sox have accelerated an unintentional rebuilding process. 

Expect to see surprise bidders — the due diligence teams who either don’t need Tanaka, or have better things to do with $100 million plus, or are out and out poor as fuck.

Don’t be surprised to see the Padres, Reds, Red Sox, Brewers, Royals and Blue Jays scoping out a potential ace well under 30 years old. Be surprised if one of these teams land him.

The Mariners spent a lot of money on 2B Robinson Cano, an expense that could go to waste because they need more than a superstar second baseman to even scratch the surface of the AL West. Hisashi Iwakuma was Ace 1 to Tanaka’s 1B when both played for the Rakuten Golden Eagles. Seattle is a destination city for Japanese players. Aside from the culture (And the bomb seafood), it’s the only Japanese (and foreign-controlled) MLB team. Like the Yankees, they have an ownership stake on a regional sports network. 

The Cubs are a few breaks short of making the playoffs, and have been judicious with its payroll after getting rid of Jim Hendry’s mistakes. For now Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo’s 2013 season is an anomaly. Jeff Samardzija was unlucky. Edwin Jackson slapped a gypsy. 

New York just spent more money this off-season than the government of Haiti in its existence. If Alex Rodriguez loses his appeal, his salary won’t count against the Yankees’ luxury tax threshold. Rodriguez will likely lose his appeal. 

Arizona has made Tanaka its No.1 target and would get really sad if they have to settle for Jimenez. 

But come on.

Magic Johnson’s money speaks volumes.

The Dodgers haven’t spent much this off-season, so I’d take their promise/threat to not get outbid for Tanaka’s services. Zack Greinke’s $150 million plus deal times two is petty cash for the Dodgers, and a threshold amount for any other team not named the Dodgers (or Yankees). 

Through all their recent riches, no one from the Dodgers has uttered the phrase “we’re going all out.”

Be afraid. Be very afrain. 

Tanaka will end up with the Dodgers on a seven-year $145 million deal. 

Bank on it.

Fuck.

Empire Building in the American League West: Three free agent starters for sale, and why three teams out West need to spend some more

In case you’ve been under a 1960s-era bomb shelter, you know about the arms race in the American League West. 

It’s like the natural progression of America, an inherent need by the individual to keep walking and walking, because due West lies the garden that shames Eden. 

To a point. We do have homeless people here, and only a third of the coast has great weather. 

But the money and the industry that drives America — oil and silicon (har har) have invested themselves on these shores. Baseball is merely an outgrowth of that westbound ethos that owns its roots when the Giants and Dodgers left New York to rekindle their own rivalry in a time-zone cleaved by three hours from the rest of the country. 

Hang on. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

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Seattle might feel tempted to trade for SP David Price. Here’s why they shouldnt.

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Here’s a popular argument that somehow goes together with signing a small country away so Robinson Cano can play second base in Seattle — Don’t just stop there. Get more big names. 

Like that ever solved it for the Miami Marlins, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Toronto Blue Jays. Then again money solved all of the Dodgers’ ills lately. That one year the Yankees didn’t make the playoffs constituted on a lot of savings, if you count paying for Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira as savings. 

Aside from haphazardly gaining their fans’ love again, acquiring Cano in and of itself won’t suddenly propel Seattle in front of the competitive American League West. It’s like trading Wil Myers for James Shields knowing Detroit had a lock on things.

The Hot Stove’s biggest spenders this year were compelled to spend because of one shared illness that have separate causes.

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