Kaz Matsui Signs With the Astros

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ESPN is reporting that the Houston Astros will be signing second baseman Kaz Matsui to a 3 year deal, worth somewhere between $15-17 million. We had this story here on Mlb Fleece Factor on November 19th.

It appears Matsui has cashed in on a strong post season with Colorado. His numbers away from Coors field were down right horrible in 2007, however, as he hit only .249 with a .304 OBP. He is serviceable at second base defensively, at best. This signing has “fleece” written all over it.

Pettitte Moving to a Retirement Home?

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According to Rotoworld.com, Jorge Posada has stated that he thinks Yankees’ starting pitcher Andy Pettitte is leaning towards retirement.  Apparently Posada has been talking with the lefy starter at least once a week since the season ended. 

Pettitte would be leaving $16 milllion on the table if he decided to call it quits.  Now I know that Andy isn’t driven by money like most pro athletes, but still, that’s an awfully lot of *guaranteed* cash to walk away from.  And he has already stated that his only options are coming back to the Yanks next season, or retirement.  He will not be pitching for his hometown Astros again.  We shall see where this story goes…

Astros Sign Doug Brocail

brocail.jpgAs noted by Fox 26 in Houston, Texas, the Astros have agreed to a 1-year contract with free agent relief grandfather Doug Brocail.  Brocail, who is 40, pitched to a 5-1 record last season with the San Diego Padres, and sported a 3.05 ERA.  Contract terms were not disclosed. 

With last season’s trade of Dan Wheeler to the Devil Rays, and the trade of Brad Lidge this offseason to the Phillies, Brocail can step right into a late-inning role with the Astros.  And while Doug had a 1.17 WHIP and .228 BAA in 2007, his career numbers in those categories are 1.36 and .263, respectively.  Even given his age, and past health problems, Brocail isn’t a bad one-year signing for the Astros, assuming the money doesn’t get into the $4M range, which I sincerely doubt.    

Great Moments in Fleece History: The Mike Hampton Signing

In light of Mike Hampton’s newest comeback, let’s take a look at his greatest accomplishment, and induct it into the Great Moments in Fleece History.

Even though former Astro and Met Mike Hampton was the prize pitcher on the market that winter, when the Colorado Rockies signed Mike Hampton in 2000, it seemed a bit excessive.  But I do not think anyone imagined the extent to which Hampton fleeced Colorado at the time.  It is a fleece that keeps on fleecing as 3 teams have now been involved and there is still one more year of fleecing to go. 

The Date: December 9th, 2000

The Players:  Colorado General Manager Dan O’Dowd (the fleecee) and Mike Hampton and his agent Mark Rodgers (the fleecers).

The Fleece:  The Colorado Rockies signed 28 year old pitcher Mike Hampton to an eight-year, $123.8M contract which, at the time, was the largest contract in baseball.

The Result:  Well, not so good for Colorado.  Hampton lasted just two years in the Mile High city, posting a disastrous 21-28 record with a disgusting and hideous 5.75 ERA.  (Note to Dan O’Dowd:  This was actually LOWER than Hampton’s career ERA at Coors Field prior to the signing – 6.88!  What were you thinking?  Seriously, were you alright at the time? We need to know.  Because this was just plain awful management, sir.)

After the 2002 season, the Rockies actually paid the Florida Marlins to get Hampton out of their sights.  That same winter, the Marlins then shipped him to Atlanta, who hoped that pitching guru Leo Mazzone could fix him. 

Hampton’s first two years in Atlanta were slightly above average as he won 27 games and posted an ERA close to 4.0.   But he was anything but the $16M per year pitcher he was being paid (mostly by Colorado) to be.   In 2006 and 2007, the fleecing increased even more as Hampton was out for the entirety of both seasons (collecting nearly $32M in the process) with elbow problems.  Hampton is currently rehabbing and hoping to be in the Braves rotation by April so that he can hit the free agent market next winter and attempt to fleece again.

Strangely, Dan O’Dowd (pictured above), who was also fleeced by Denny Neagle that same winter and later by Todd Helton, survived this signing.  He changed his philosophy (although probably forced by management) and lead the team through a rebuilding phase that has recently paid huge dividends in the form of a 2007 NL pennant.   Still, Dan O’Dowd will probably most be remembered for being fitted for a huge fleece by the likes of Mr. Hampton. This fleece was one of the worst free agent decisions of all time.

Mile High Update

 

The Denver Post  has some interesting tidbits on the Rockies offseason.

  • Rockies are close to a deal with middle reliever Matt Herges. Herges was very effective for the Rockies last season, sporting a 2.96 ERA in 35 games.
  • The Yorvit Torrealba saga continues as he is now looking to re-up with the Rockies after Omar Minaya told him that he was not alright. Speculation is the Rockies won’t budge on the 2 years for 7 million offer.
  • Lastly, Kaz Matsui looks to be leaving town as both the Cubs and Astros have offered more loot than the Rox.

Yankees Call to Arms (Bullpen)

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The Yankees starting pitching rotation is currently in flux, with the retirement decision of Andy Pettitte still looming large over their heads.  But the state of the team’s bullpen is also largely in question. 

As George King of the New York Post reports, Yankees brass have stood on both sides of the fence trying to decide where to put Joba Camberlain next season – rotation or bullpen?  In 19 relief appearances last season, Joba had a 2-0 record with a ridiculous 0.38 ERA.  He allowed only 1/2 hit an inning, and had 34 K’s in 24 innings of work.  If Joba breaks spring training in the rotation next spring, the question remains about which Yankee will bridge the gap to Rivera, as Joba so brilliantly did to close the season?  Right now, it has to be considered Kyle Farnsworth.  Ouch!

Which brings me to the topic of free agent relief pitchers.   King’s article mentions that the Yankees are interested in FA lefty relievers Jeremy Affeldt and Trever Miller.  Affeldt went 4-3 for the Rox last season with a 3.51 ERA, but was actually much tougher on right-handed hitters.  Trever Miller had a 0-0 record with a 4.86 ERA for the Houston Astros, but posted a decent .211 BAA vs. lefties.  And as we’ve mentioned here on previous posts, the Yankees also appear to be in the bidding on FA lefty Ron Mahay.  With no current lefty arms in the bullpen, the Yanks will surely overpay for one of these guys.  In addition, the team appears very interested in bringing back Luis Vizcaino (8-2, 4.30) next season, who is also a FA.

Tuesday Morning Trade/FA Rumors

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  • With the Yorvit Torrealba disaster now official, the Mets may be leaning towards the trade route to fill the catching void.   Newsday has the Mets pursuing Orioles catcher Ramon Hernandez as well as Texas backstop Gerald Laird.   Boston is also in on Laird, though, and may be prepared to deal Coco Crisp for him in what you would have to consider a minor fleece for Texas.
  • Mike Lowell apparently received a 4 year, $50M offer from the Phillies, despite Philly’s constant denials.   If true, Philly fans should be sending thank you notes to Lowell for not fleecing them by accepting that offer, which would have left them with limited funds for their horrid pitching staff, as well as a 37 year old, gray 3rd baseman in 4 years.
  • If Kaz Matsui does indeed manage to fleece the Houston Astros into a multi-year deal (Why would Houston sign this guy?), the Rockies may end up looking to the Astros for his replacement.  Chris Burke is on their minds.  To me, Chris Burke is a better player than Matsui, especially factoring in the Coors Field angle.   I don’t know what the Astros are thinking by getting fleeced by Matsui.  Can someone please help me out on this?
  • Kenny Rogers should be back roasting chickens for the Tigers after firing the fleece master, Scott Boras.
  • Two great defensive middle infielders with horrible sticks are drawing trade interest:  Cesar Izturis from the Orioles (dependent on a Tejada trade) and Juan Uribe from the Rays. In retrospect, as pointed out by MLBTradeRumors.com Kenny Williams should have passed on Uribe. At the time, though, I am sure he did not know he was going to be able to trade for Orlando Cabrera. He will now attempt to move the SS and his $4 million+ in order to free up some salary for Torii Hunter, and Tampa Bay could be among the interested parties.