Things are quiet here at the lovely O’Hare Hilton, as the GMs are safely ensconced in one room for meetings until about 12:30 Chicago time. After that, they’ll have some time for trade talk before meeting with us media types later in the afternoon.
We have a few Cubs and Sox leftovers from yesterday and some new takes on things:
--The Cubs have an extraordinarily high number of arbitration-eligible players this winter. Those would be players with between three and five years of service and maybe a “Super 2” in Mike Fontenot. They’ll know more on Fontenot Friday. Leading the list is Carlos Marmol, who figures to get a nice raise. I’m sure my agent friend Barry Praver will be looking at the holds and hits-to-innings pitched ratio. From the Cubs side, they might just happen to mention those walks and hit batters. The Cubs haven’t had a case go to a hearing since the early 1990s, so we’ll see what happens this year.
Among the other arb guys are Jeff Baker, Sean Marshall, Ryan Theriot, Koyie Hill, Aaron Heilman and Angel Guzman.
I asked Jim Hendry yesterday if the arb cases could have a big impact on the payroll.
"It could a little bit,” he said. “We have a lot of arbitration guys, but a lot of them are first-timers, too. It's not like when we had significant dollar accounts, like Woody's (Kerry Wood’s) was that time or when Zambrano went up in the double figures. But you do have guys that certainly are going to command an increase in salary, and yeah, you have to factor that all in with your total payroll. We'll see what the numbers look like."
--For my Sox-fan friends, Ken Rosenthal from foxsports.com weighs in on the Mark Teahen trade: “Mark Teahen was a below average defender at third base last season according to two advanced metrics, and one rival GM says he does not hit well enough to justify the $5 million plus the low-revenue Royals would have had to pay him in salary arbitration. The White Sox can better afford Teahen, but a .749 career OPS at third? Hmmm.”
Teahen’s hitting line this year at KC was .271/.325/.408 for an OPS of .734. His OPS-plus was 94, which falls into the “meh” category. And that’s with a batting average on balls in play (BABIP) of .334, which was above average and suggests Teahen hit in good luck.
As for the fielding, take a gander at both fangraphs.com (a favorite site of mine) and baseball-reference.com (another great one), and you’ll see slightly below average numbers for Teahen at third. His UZR, or ultimate zone rating was minus-6.9, and his UZR 150 (for an average over 150 games) was minus-10.9. It just so happened that yesterday, someone asked GM Kenny Williams about his team’s defense and whether it would be better in 2010.
“I don’t have a measuring stick,” Kenny said. “All the measuring sticks that are out there, I’m not in favor of them. I don’t find much validity in them.” Kenny cited the athleticism of his team, which he said will be better next year. He also said Alexei Ramirez will continue to get better at short.
--Here is what Kenny said about third-base prospect Dayan Viciedo: “He’s very much in the plans. How can he not be? The kid’s going to light up the scoreboard when he gets here, and he’s worked his tail off, which I’m very proud of. He became a very good teammate, and from what I understand, a funny teammate. So there’s personality in there, too. Of course, we’re going to have to teach him English, so we can understand the jokes. But I’m sure, in the next couple of years, that’ll happen. He’s going to force his way here. The way that shakes out, we’ll figure it out at that time. I like it when guys force their way here.”
Whether Viciedo can make the jump from Class AA Birmingham to the White Sox will depend on “how we’re configured” on April 1, Kenny said.
--Got to meet Tim Dierkes from mlbtraderumors.com. Check that site out. Tim does a nice job, and if there’s a bad rumor, he’ll take it down. Big-league clubs have that site bookmarked.
--Someone asked on the last blog why the Cubs seem “down” on Ryan Theriot. I don’t think 154 games played constitutes “down.” I think many of the fans are more down on Theriot than anything else. Here is what Jim Hendry said when asked if a middle infielder were a priority this winter:
"Not necessarily. I'm very happy with Ryan. Theriot's a winning-type player. He didn't play quite as well late when we were out of it as he did the previous year, but he gives you 110 (percent) every day. You win a lot of baseball games with him. I thought Baker did a really good job after we got him. He gives you a lot of protection. He plays well at second. I think Mike Fontenot was a guy, he'd be the first to tell you, that he had a disappointing year. We certainly need him to bounce back. We've got (Andres) Blanco, who's a great defender. It's no secret that (Aaron) Miles had just a tremendous hiccup and a poor year after two really good years at St. Louis."