Baseball Twitter, like most sub-sets of the micro-blogging service, can be a very weird place. Just ask our own Tim Ryan. Better yet, follow him to enjoy the fun.
In the offseason, Baseball Twitter, goes to a stranger place. Or specifically this week it heads to Orlando, Fla. for the General Manager meetings. It meant if you follow more than one or two baseball writers or news accounts on Tuesday your feed was slammed with about 432,012 different updates on Marlon Byrd’s eventual two-year $16 million deal with the Phillies.
Marlon. Frickin’. Byrd.
Talk about being as the kids say these days, “thirsty.” It was almost like a bunch of sailors getting who’d been out at sea for six months waiting for the first bit of actual news.
Things were even zanier late Tuesday night when a report from Philly linked Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista in a trade for Dom Brown.
In a sense, you can’t blame the baseball media for working themselves into a tizzy over such a minor move as Byrd or one questionable rumor. This year’s free agent class, for lack of a better word, stinks.
The top player on the market is Jay Z’s best buddy, Robinson Cano. Everyone assumes he’s going back to the Yankees. We don’t know for how much money for how many years, but it appears the Bombers will be bidding against themselves unless, say, Tigers owner Mike Ilitch decides he wants to throw even more money toward winning that illusive World Series title.
After that the market includes baseball’s self-appointed sheriff, Brian McCann, Matt Garza — a No. 2/3 starter — and Japanese hurler Masahiro Tanaka whom few Americans have ever seen throw a baseball. Other marquee free agents include the likes of Carlos Beltran, Curtis Granderson and Ubaldo Jiminez. Exciting?
Consider how skewed the market is going to be this winter. Granted baseball revenues continue to rise across the board, but take what Shin-Shoo Choo and Ervin Santana are rumored to want in free agency.
Choo, 31, reportedly wants a deal in excess of the seven-year, $126 contract the Nationals gave Jayson Werth in 2010. Take nothing away from Choo, who posted a sparkling .423 on-base percentage with the Reds in 2013. Still, do you want to commit a large salary to a player who hit just .215 vs. lefties last year? In a baseball sense Choo is a very useful player, but do you want him to be your highest-paid player on your team? I’m not so sure about that.
Even more baffling are reports Ervin Santana wants a five-year $112 million contract this winter. Santana had a nice year for the Royals last year (3.24 ERA) but has a lifetime 4.19 ERA. Santana isn’t a “bad” player by any means but handing him all that money sounds might end up as a repeat of the terrible Darren Dreifort deal a few years ago. The price to sign a slightly above average pitcher like Santana is why teams are trying to emulate the Cardinals and develop their own pitching through the farm system.
There are certainly some useful names on the market, Mike Napoli, Tim Hudson, Joe Nathan, Grant Balfour, Stephen Drew, Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta, etc. Even so, there aren’t a lot of guys who by themselves are going to change the balance of power in a division.
Looking at the market, if we’re going to get a major shake-up or something that will drastically alter the baseball landscape heading into 2014 it’s going to be via a trade. The Marlins say they won’t deal Giancarlo Stanton. Plenty of whispers have circulated about the Cardinals trading one of their vaunted young arms for a shortstop, be it the Rockies Troy Tulowitzki or either Jurickson Profar or Elvis Andrus from the Rangers. The Tigers seem more willing to deal probable American League Cy Young winner Max Scherzer each passing day. Wednesday the LA Times reported the Dodgers would consider moving one of their outfielders, including Yasiel Puig.
Otherwise, try to get excited about a continued parade Byrd-esque deals between now and March. If it doesn’t excite you, don’t worry — the baseball media will pick up the slack. There’s always A-Rod, too …