Tag Archives: Joey Votto

Greinke saga takes a new turn

Posted by Steve

Things were starting to seem like they were going in the right direction. Zack Greinke said he wouldn’t need an agent unless he “had a reason to get one.” Why would he have a reason to get one unless talks with the Brewers were progressing? When he hired Casey Close, speculation among baseball media members was that they were on their way to working out an extension. After not hearing anything for a week or so, yesterday evening news broke that the Brewers and Close have “suspended” talks.

“I talked with Casey Close and we decided to let it rest for now,” said Melvin. “That doesn’t mean we won’t talk again at some point but we’re going to let it rest right now.”

Hmm. So much left open for interpretation. “We” decided to let it rest? Who? You and your staff? You and Close? And just as important, why is it “resting” all of a sudden?

With the caveat that this is just conjecture on my part, here’s what I see as most likely:

-Greinke and the Brewers were talking throughout spring. Talks were going relatively well to the point that Greinke found it necessary to start interviewing agents.

-Around the time he settled in on Close, Matt Cain signed his massive deal–a record for a right-handed pitcher. It was about $15 million more than I think anyone expected.

-Shortly after that, other crazy deals started flying around. Obviously there were Votto and Cain’s, but in recent days, we’ve seen Ian Kinsler, Brandon Phillips, John Niese, Carlos Santana, and even smaller ones like Alcides Escobar and Jonathan Lucroy.

-At this point Greinke (or most likely Close) started looking around and seeing the crazy money that teams are throwing around. They can point to the Reds and say, “If those clowns are going to commit $300 million to Votto and Phillips until their late 30s, why shouldn’t I hold out for more?” And you know what? They’re exactly right.

There are reports that teams are spending all this money because there will be a new national television contract for MLB after next season, and it will likely result in a lot more revenue for all teams. It makes sense, because how on Earth else can the Reds spend this money? Their attendance is consistently not good, even when they won the division a couple years ago.

(Aside: New television contract or not, what the hell are the Reds doing? Do they have a plan?  $72.5 million for Brandon Phillips is insane. Just crazy. How much of a bargain does the 4-year, $38 million dollar deal that Weeks signed look like right now? Plus, Phillips is 31 in just a couple months, so he’s older than Weeks. Do the Reds realize that these two players have been a core to a team that’s just about .500 the last three seasons? In other words, they’ll have to add pieces in the future to be a true contender. How do they plan on being able to do that with all that money committed to these two players? It’s good for them short term, as in the next three or four years, but after that? Think about how bad the contracts to Todd Helton and Alfonso Soriano look like right now. In six years, the Reds will have the equivalent of both of those players on one team.)

So, back to Greinke. I’m guessing all these recent contracts resulted in the Brewers and Close being way too far apart at the moment. Breaking off–sorry, suspending talks–seems to be a negotiating ploy, but whose ploy is it?

I actually think it’s more likely that it’s the Brewers. Put it this way. What would Greinke get on the open market? In this climate, I’d say at least $150 million. So if Close is asking for, say, $120-130 million, it’s still a discount by definition. But of course, the Brewers can’t pay that.

Greinke has been saying he likes it in Milwaukee. It’s possible that Melvin is saying, “Alright Zack, we’ll see just how much you like it here.” It would be an understandable move. The Brewers simply can’t afford a $120+ million contract. If Greinke really does want to stay here, it’s likely they’ll lower demands a bit. If he likes it here the way Prince Fielder liked it here (he liked it but not so much that he’d take a discount to stay, which is totally understandable), then he’s probably gone.

This certainly isn’t a good sign, but I’m not losing hope. Before this, and especially before the Cain contract, I felt it was a better than 50% chance Greinke would sign. Now, it’s probably less than 50%, but I wouldn’t say it’s a lot less.

Again, this is pretty much just all my own speculation, so don’t think I’m claiming it’s anything more. But the writing’s on the wall, and this is what it spells out to me.

Extensions Abound

Posted by Steve

Two monster extensions were signed today in the National League. Joey Votto signed for a reported $200 million, and Matt Cain signed for $112 million. Both are pretty alarming.

First let’s look at Votto. This one is is crazy, because $200 million for a player who is not a free agent is basically unheard of. Unless I’m forgetting someone, the only player who has signed a bigger extension in baseball history is Alex Rodriguez. On one hand, when you compare it to the two $200 million contracts signed this off-season, I’d take Votto and his contract. Votto is better right now than Prince Fielder, and probably better than Albert Pujols as well–if not, certainly his age makes him more valuable.

On the other hand, the fact that Votto is not a free agent makes this huge. Teams are supposed to get discounts by giving a contract ahead of time, but it certainly isn’t much of one. Votto likely would have gotten around what Fielder did if he was a free agent this past year. Secondly, the fact that Votto plays the easiest position on the diamond makes it tough to justify. Finally, I wasn’t aware the Reds could afford a $200 million player. They have a lot of talented players around Votto, and you have to imagine it will be tough to keep many of them now. Certainly, Brandon Phillips will be gone now (not that that’s a massive loss, but still).

Bottom line: Very good deal for Votto, not as sure for the Reds. And of course, not a great deal for the Brewers to have the best hitter in the division (at least other than Braun) stay in the NL Central for life.

Even though the Votto extension is within the Brewers’ division, the Cain extension probably affects them more. It’s because along with Cole Hamels, Cain was the biggest barometer for a Zack Greinke extension. In case you missed it, I discussed the Greinke situation at length at Reviewing the Brew fairly recently. I’ve been over why I thought guesses of $80 or $85 million for Greinke were low, and I hoped he’d sign for $100 million or so. I’ve also been over the fact that Greinke has been a better pitcher than Cain. That all adds up to the fact that this contract is not the best of news from a Brewers’ perspective.

It sure seems like Greinke is  open to staying in Milwaukee, and there were reports yesterday that he is close to hiring an agent (which likely means talks are progressing), but he also isn’t stupid. This will of course have an effect on what Greinke asks for. Any hopes of keeping him for less than $100 million are toast.

They’ll probably have to match Cain’s contract, or at least come close. That makes the decision a lot tougher, as that is about as high as the Brewers should go on any pitcher, but I would still probably do it. Either way, the Brewers front office can’t be thrilled at all about this contract.

How to Misread Numbers 101

Posted by Steve

The Brewers almost got burned by Joey Votto/Jay Bruce again, and it was because Ron Roenicke is still clueless when it comes to bullpen management.

Sure, I’d be shredding Roenicke if the Brewers had lost. It doesn’t mean that just because it (barely) worked out, it wasn’t the wrong decision. So, I shred anyway. I’m nothing if not consistent.

In the eighth inning, the Reds were sending Votto, Brandon Phillips and Bruce to the plate. To any manager, that would call for a left-handed pitcher. To a manager who had been burned by Votto launching a mammoth home run off a righty reliever late in a game already this season, it would scream at the top of his lungs for a left-handed pitcher.

Old Runnin’ Ron isn’t any old manager, though. Here was the reasoning from last night’s JS article on using Hawkins that inning instead of Zach Braddock.

“It was a matchup for ‘Hawk,’ ” manager Ron Roenicke said. “If we would have done it a little different, it probably would have been (lefty Zach) Braddock.”

Hawkins entered the game as something of an anomaly, limiting lefties to a .162 average.

Oh my Yost, this is incredible. Hawkins this season, for whatever reason, is holding lefties to a .382 OPS. Alarmingly impressive, right? Sure, until you realize lefties have had exactly 38 plate appearances against him. That sample size is virtually meaningless. Let’s look at the career numbers, which span 17 seasons and 2,591 PAs: .809 OPS against. That clearly indicates that this season is an anomaly.

Meanwhile, lefties have a .489 OPS against Braddock (!) over his career. Yes, his career spans just parts of two seasons and 95 plate appearances against lefties, but his minor league numbers show the same thing. Plus, he’s actually lefty, and lefties are generally, you know, better against left-handed hitters.

I’m actually unsure whether to be encouraged or discouraged by this. On one hand, we know Roenicke actually is using splits. For a while, it was difficult to even tell whether he was. On the other hand, he’s using the numbers so incorrectly that it isn’t even helping. That’s now twice late in close games against the team expected to battle the Brewers for the division that Roenicke has misread splits and sent the wrong pitcher to face the best left-handed hitter in the game.

All Star Comedy

Posted by Steve

The All-Star selections have been the talk of baseball for the last day and a half, and for good reason–the job Charlie Manuel did of selecting the team might be the worst of all time. I don’t generally like to make a big stink over the All-Star teams, because it doesn’t really mean anything, and there are mistakes all the time, but this was so bad that I had to post about it.

I quickly checked yesterday, and the first thing I noticed was Ryan Howard making the team over Joey Votto. That in itself is a joke. My vote for MVP so far this season is Votto. He leads the National League in weighted on base average, while Ryan Howard is tied for eighth….  Among first basemen! Check out this buffoon’s explanation for Howard over Votto.

“Both of them are having big years,” Manuel said. “Both are standing right there. Howard’s my guy, and the fact that their numbers are very close, I had to go with my guy.”

Read more: http://www.philly.com/inquirer/sports/20100705_Ryan_Howard__Roy_Halladay_on_all-star_team.html#ixzz0squxWXCg

Charlie Manuel saying that Votto and Howard’s numbers are very close is like that time Bill Schroeder said a good WHIP was somewhere between 1 and 1.5.  First basemen who deserved a spot over Howard include:  Aubrey Huff, Adam Dunn, Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez, and Gaby Sanchez. “I had to go with my guy” is simply an unacceptable reason.

That would have been bad enough, but when I quickly glanced at the team yesterday, I somehow overlooked the truly shocking selection of Omar Infante. If you’re looking for a laugh, Google “Charlie Manuel Omar Infante.” You’ll find a slew of articles reacting to the bizarre pick. I won’t bother explaining why it’s a terrible pick, as there are probably hundreds of articles that have done that already. I did want to post one link though, just because my thought was, “What was Infante’s reaction?” If I’m a player who’s having just a decent season and I make the All-Star team, I’m going to be pretty caught off guard. Well, his reaction was pretty priceless.

I got a call from [General Manager] Frank Wren, and the first thought I had was that I got traded,” Infante said through an interpreter. “I was kind of nervous and choked up. By the time Frank told me I was going to the All-Star game, I thought he was joking around. It took, like, five minutes for me to realize I’m going to the All-Star game.

Q: How do you know whether you’ve made a terrible All-Star selection?

A: The player thinks he’s been traded when you try to tell him!

In all honesty, I was hoping Rickie Weeks would make the team, but I’m not surprised he didn’t. He deserved it, but I just didn’t see them putting four players from a bad team on the All-Star team.

Also, my initial reaction to Yovani Gallardo’s injury is pretty said. After thinking too bad that he’ll miss the All-Star Game, my thought was that at least if he misses a month the team might not delude itself into thinking they’re contenders.

Finally, I see FS Wisconsin is planning another weekend at the Dells for Brewers Live. We can only hope for something this awkward.