|"Big" Joe Blanton|
My Grade: B (No, not B for Blanton, but B for average, which is the exact title this signing entails)
Cubs sign Nate Schierholtz to 1-year 2.25 million contract: I won't spend much time on this other than to say that my gut is telling me that Nate Schieholtz won't be a Cub come August, 2013. Nate was non-tendered by the Phillies after they received him in the Hunter Pence Deal. The Phillies need outfielders and didn't resign him, but did so to the chagrin of the Cubs. According to both PECOTA and Bill James' projections, Schierholtz is in line for a bounce-back season in which he'll probably provide league average offense form the outfield. From a fielding point of view, Schierholtz's range seems to be declining a bit in addition to his ability to make plays that average outfielders can't make. So, Wrigley Field could make Schierholtz look better than he is. If so, he will be moved at the trade deadline for some prospect that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer most likely already have in mind.
My Grade: B+ (Can only be good for the Cubs, and for Schierholtz it didn't matter where he signed, he needs to put up good numbers to be coveted at all next offseason)
My Grade: A (The Phillies get exactly what they want, the Twins get a substantial return, it is a win-win)
Red Sox sign Koji Uehara to a 1-year $4.25 million contract: Koji Uehara spent the last two seasons in Baltimore and Texas, doing a good job out of the pen. Koji has sported an average of 1.7 wins per season over the last 4 seasons, which is fairly substantial for a relief pitcher given the minute number of innings relievers throw in comparison to starters. Uehara dominates right-handed batters, and fairs incredibly well against lefties due to his split-fingered change up. Here are Uehara's splits from last season:
My Grade: A- (Good deal for both teams, only issue is that teams who are more likely to be in playoff contention missed out on Uehara. If the Red Sox don't project to make the playoffs by the trade deadline, look for Ben Cherington to trade Uehara to a team in need.)
Braves resign OF Reed Johnson to a 1-year contract, financials unknown: Without the dollar amount given, the analysis cannot be as accurate, but I'll give it a whirl. Reed Johnson is the perfect 4th outfielder. He plays hard, is great in the clubhouse, and has been worth an average of ~ 1.1 wins per season throughout his 11 year career. The Braves have 2/3 of their outfield settled, and Johnson makes a great signing to platoon at that third third of the outfield. Johnson was originally acquired by the Braves via the Chicago Cubs along with Paul Maholm at the 2012 trade deadline, and the Braves saw enough to want to keep Johnson around. Johnson is the older form of Nate Schierholtz, and if the Braves have given him a similar contract, they are probably getting a good deal. The most interesting thing about Johnson is that, according to pitch f/x data, he doesn't have a problem hitting any pitch in the strike zone at an average rate. Oftentimes, batters are susceptible to pitches in certain parts of the plate, but Johnson seems to hit pitches all over the strike zone at the same rate (about 57%). This makes for a good pinch-hitter.
My Grade: B (Good for both sides, but not great.)
So, day 4 of the Winter Meetings didn't prove to be exciting, or even as exciting as the first three days. The Phillies/Twins trade proved to be the most interesting move of the day, and in all honesty, it wasn't mind blowing. The surprising part of that deal was Ruben Amaro's willingness to make a sensible move instead of a flashy move, something that should make Phillies fans happy, hopeful, but still a bit skeptical. Hamilton, Greinke, and Michael Bourn remain free agents, but there is a lot of offseason to go before pitchers and catchers report. Once Zack Greinke signs, the other pitchers on the market like Ryan Dempster, Anibal Sanchez, Kyle Lohse, and Shaun Marcum should sign quickly, but until Zack decides, those pitcher will most likely remain unemployed.
The winter meetings this year were not filled with the huge moves of the past, which were replaced with ridiculous and constant rumors. Will Justin Upton be traded? My guess is yes, but never attempt to predict what Kevin Towers will do, he's proven to be unpredictable in the past. The winners of the winter meetings have to be the Boston Red Sox who have signed multiple players that could all be valuable in the next 2-3 years, which isn't an unreasonable timetable for the Sox to become relevant once again. Overall, it's been a fun 4 days, the hope is that the next 2 months will prove just as fascinating.