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WeekEnd HaloLinks: The FA Market Is Just Fine, ThankYouVeryMuch

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This winter is saying more about the relative quality of the current class than it is about any structural problems with Free Agency

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Orioles v Angels
THE highest career fWAR as 3B for the Los Angeles Angels
Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB via Getty Images

THE HOT CORNER - HOT STOVE OBSERVATION

It’s not hard to find observers noting that this year’s Hot Stove season is different from the recent past. Mostly, they are those who were clamoring about injustices during the 2017-2018 and the 2018-2019 offseasons. Like this. And when management steps up and proclaims that everything is all fine, is still more “hey, wait until all is said and done before you proclaim me wrong” stuff.

These guys were not granting that benefit the past two winters. Instead, the entire notion of waiting WAS their evidence that things were broken. I have always been, and I remain, of the opinion that except for a few especially significant names, the past two FA communities were pretty shitty in depth and quality. So the market responded in kind.

It was not a surprise, either. I was not alone is projecting up to a couple of years in advance of 2017-2018 that things were going to get bad, and MLB teams signing away and locking up stars in advance of these two target offseasons only made the talent crop worse. I was saying all along that our big FA opportunity for the next 3 FA hot stove seasons was coming up in 2016-2017 and the players available aligned with our needs then very well. Our failure then has haunted us ever since and I was writing that during the 2017 season.

This year’s group was well-known to be extremely strong and front-loaded with guys still with excellent prime years of service to contribute. And the market, again, has responded as we should expect. The long view up to this point is that the only thing that has really changed has been the quality/quantity of the FA classes.

Going forward, though, there is a problem with the middle class. As revenue does rise, overall payroll declines and the middle class is what is being hit. That needs a solution. And the recent spate of locking up very young guys to pre-arb long-term deals will create a much more significant issue in about 5 years. Those guys will be in their middle-class years and they will be locked into then-stale salary levels. And they will not be joining the FA classes making those markets pale in comparison to even the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 markets. And when we get there, those people complaining today will be complaining again, but still about the wrong things.

THE HOT CORNER - GERRIT COLE THE NOT ASTRO AGAIN

So I had this whole essay written about Gerrit Cole for yesterday morning, but it’s always dangerous to sacrifice a good deal of time on such things during Winter Meetings when major news will tend to strike late in the evening and render all that work a needless distraction. It’s kind of the same risk the daily masthead writer assume when they decide to jump the gun and do a post-game write-up in the 8th inning, risking something magical happening in the 9th and blowing away all the work. It’s a risk that comes with the territory. (It took all damned day before the page view count of Thor’sLinks finally caught up with that of the previous day’s Rendon Reaction page!)

While we bask in the positive advancement of signing Anthony Rendon and moving the franchise forward into a position where it’s still probable to improve the rotation and end up with one hell of an improved roster, the Cole thought still counts. I just won’t do the whole essay. We have other things to have fun with but we can still consider the main point as we observe Gerrit Cole going forward.

The Gerrit Cole that has been pitching in Houston the past 2 seasons is nothing like the Gerrit Cole that was rising within the Pittsburgh organization. It. Is. Not. Even. Close. Exactly how much of that improvement was Houston magic? How much of that will Gerrit Cole be able to retain while working under a non-Asstros staff? And, for how long? And, in the case of the Yankees, whose pitching coach is now Matt Blake (who zoomed his way from high school coach through the Cleveland Indians and over to the MFY in only 4 years), how far behind the Asstros system are they? Are they behind? Is it all as simple as changing his pitch repertoire?

One thing for certain: it’s extremely likely that the only thing that would prevent Rendon from not delivering on the opportunity for a huge production uplift at the 3B position is injury, and that can happen to anyone, any time. And if the injury bug strikes the LAA 2019-2020 roster upgrades, it’s better that it happen to a $245MM guy than to a $324MM guy.


ANGELS

Interesting observation when looking at teams most impacted by the Angels signing Anthony Rendon. “It is now possible that their superstar third baseman (Matt Chapman), their perpetual MVP candidate, their best player right now and moving forward ... is the third best third baseman in the division.”.............

Trea Turner is not as happy as you are about losing his infield buddy..........Neither is fellow ex-teammate Sean Doolittle..........That’s OK, guys. You can hello when you come to Anaheim for a visit in May.

Hmmm. Trout, Rendon could be baseball’s new best duo. Well, Mike Trout is so good he annually laps all but one or two guys who peg their career years. So you could almost say this thing about Trout and any other guy every year. And the CORRECT way to look at this is stop forgetting about Shohei Ohtani, and realize that ‘Trout+Ohtani+Rendon could be baseball best trio’.

But, yeah, it’s gonna be good. Rendon certainly is Mike’s new best teammate..........

I am not jumping on the Rendon Makes Angels Instant Contenders bandwagon, though. They finished 24 games out of the 2019 Wild Card due to pitching woes and losing Trevor Cahill to Free Agency is not gonna fix all that..........

With Rendon on the roster, all eyes turn to what does that mean for getting Mike trout into the playoffs. It means that the Angels are not done and they still need to fix pitching and everybody knows it, that what. Articles to that effect littered the Internet yesterday. Thanks, Internet. My fave though, the only one I deem worthy of sharing, comes with this winners/losers of the Rendon deal article from CBS Sports. Winner: the LAA lineup. Loser: The LAA pitching rotation. Oh, and the City of Los Angeles. “Score one for Orange County.”............ ($$) - Oh, and in this round table reaction, I am going to go out on a limb and say that this NL executive who is quoted as saying “...it feels a little too much ‘like they were making a big move whether it was the best thing for their club or not’ “ would be Andrew Friedman of the Dodgers. LOL..........

This is a good catch. The Angels now have 5 of the top 23 players in BB/K% (since the start of ‘18). Trout, Rendon, Simmons, Fletcher, La Stella. The lineup is going to be really difficult to pitch to. We could out Oakland the A’s for once...........

Rendon in Anaheim might be even better than Rendon in D.C...........Somebody might want to inform Bill Shaikin of the LA Times that we are in the launch-angle era of baseball..........

Who needs WAR? Signing Rendon improved the LAA playoffs odds from 30-1 to 2—1 just like that............

Ex Boston Red Sox consultant turned cranky old stat legend Bill James is not a fan of the LAA franchise...........

Ok. We got another Garret. Because the Giants owed us so much for all that is Zack Cozart...........


HOT STOVE ACTION AND OTHER RUMORS

It’s true. The Angels are sniffing around Corey Kluber. Kluber or David Price, who ya gonna go after?..........

The Mets signed RHP Rick Porcello. 1-year, $10 million.............

I am amazed that the Brewers have Josh Hader available for trades. The guy has been nearly the best reliever in MLB in 2019, and in 2018-2019, and in 2017-2019, even 2016-2019, adding another year to the rest of MLB while Hader was still in MiLB. Are the Brewers thinking that The Clock of Volatility is about to strike on Hader? Are the Brewers closing their own window?..........

We swept the rug out from under the Ranger’s Rendon celebration. (Vengeance for Adrian Beltre is what I say.) And the icing on the cake is that they won’t be bringing Josh Donaldson back to the AL West to haunt us, either...........

The Tigers sign C Austin Romine. 1-year, $4.15 million..........

The Yankees hold on to OF Brett Gardner. 1-year, $12.5 million..........

Red Sox sign IF Jose Peraza. 1-year, $3 million. For a team looking to shed payroll, they could have held on to Brock Holt for all that.........


ASSTROS NUTZ

The Asstros cheating mess is making the off season public interface for MLB just one awkward marketing nightmare after another.....This, friends, is the role that I was fearing the Halos would play during the non-baseball-game-every-day months of winter as the media might want to feed on the LAA Front Office opioids involvement issue. The Asstros being caught out could not have come at a more propitious time.........


BASEBALL THINGS IN GENERAL

Food For Thought: earlier this month it was announced that Arte & Co. are in agreement with the City of Anaheim to purchase an entire MLB stadium AND all the parking lot land around it and own it forever, all located smack in the middle of prime North-Central OC real estate and just a couple of miles from Disneyland, USA. The price for all this was $325 million.....This week it was announced that the New York Yankees would sign one guy, Gerrit Cole, to pitch every 5th game or so and face about 800 batters a year for a period of 9 years. The price for all this was $324 million.............

The Rule 5 Draft was yesterday. Teams even had an extra roster spot with which to play. 11 guys got drafted, and the Angels neither took anybody nor lost anybody. The Astros lost 3 guys (another consequence of having a large inventory of resources not spread out over enough years, which will happen with tanking). Here is how the guys chosen project..........

I keep forgetting how Roberto Clemente was a Rule 5 Draft guy, rescued out of the Dodgers organization..........

Well, OK now. Let’s keep the fire to the feet of MLB concerning the baseball used in the game. Jay Jaffe is already on the case, talking with Dr. Meredith Wills who has been doing independent scientific research and has been a major driver in proving that the, contrary to what Rob Manfred wanted everyone to believe, the baseballs are truly messed up. This FG article roars with the promise that this is nowhere near case closed. For starters, I learned that we do have people calling bullshit and pointing out that the manufacturing process must have changed, regardless of the degree of hand-made fallibility (which was something I called out earlier this week). But Dr. Wills really goes after the lack of transparency, if not outright falsehoods, in the official MLB science panel findings. It’s good stuff. I hope more outlets pick up on this and go right back at MLB..........

An ADA “David” takes on the Wrigleyville “Goliath”, and is winning. The Rickets family renovated Wrigley Field and purposefully hosed disabled fans, and is now caught and entangled in the hot burning laser stare of Federal ADA reviewers. This isn’t the case of people using Google Earth to spy down on hotel swimming pools to verify wheelchair lifts so they can file money-grabbing lawsuits. This is about a long-time fan who was caught up in the hose job and had the commitment to his fandom sufficient to call bullshit on his favorite team...........

The new MLB/MLBPA Joint Drug Agreement, with opioid testing and free Marijuana use for MiLB players, is officially in effect..........

WTF? Teams of very well-paid MLB execs descending upon a swanky hotel in one of the great cities in America and putting themselves in very nice suites, and they hole themselves up in their rooms and get junk food slid to them underneath the door?..........

The MLB June Draft is not something that has been around forever. It only came into being in the 1960’s (blame Gene Autry, by the way). International players are not subject to a draft although MLB and MLBPA seem eager to put them under that thumb of control. But what if we went the other way? Instead of adding international players to a draft system, what if we freed domestic players from the current draft system? How would that work? Different, and somewhat messy with all that manipulation of pool moneys and everything, but totally doable............

One-time sports media hero Jonah Keri is a bigger dick than previously known. Just a reminder that sports journalists are not merely obsequious hordes of athlete worshippers and insider-wannabe’s. They are people with real power, who are just as prone to leverage that power for purposes of abuse as any other.........


STUFF

I agree with this writer. I want to see that “contraption”, too!.............This list of MLB Oppo names wins the Internet for the day. Keep in mind that the redditer who ranked their list and put LAA on top and LAD on bottom, is a Dodgers fan.........Gerrit Cole “coming home” was always overrated. We should know...........It’s a good day to be a not-Dodger fan..........I’m gonna put this down here. I know this, which is why I never fail to inform you that I am well aware of just how old I am...........Scott Boras just made himself a lot of money. And to do that, he neither has to pitch to Mike Trout nor bat against Gerrit Cole.........That redditer who made that awesome list of inverse MLB team names, has now made the logos..............