Hope everyone is enjoying Opening Day! Lots of interesting things going on, and lots of Home Runs being hit by guys who seem to have something to prove, with Jason Heyward going deep in his first Major League at-bat in an attempt to silence anyone questioning the Braves decision to make him a starter at age 20, and Garret Jones hitting two round-trippers for the Pirates in an attempt to silence everyone saying there is no way he could sustain the 40 HR pace he showed last year. Of course, it's only Game 1, and big days from these guys may not mean anything, but that's what's fun about Opening Day, speculating what could become of these guys' seasons.
Any way the real reason for this post are the two interesting moves by Front Offices I noticed today, one of which I really liked, and the other I really questioned.
Let's start with the one I liked:
Josh Beckett signed to a 4-year, $68 Million Dollar Extension
I think this is a really good move for the Red Sox, and a good move for the player as well. Beckett got to be the highest per-year pitcher in the Red Sox organization by a few hundred thousand dollars. Word was that Beckett's agent was trying to get a John Lackey-esque contract (5 years, $82.5 million) but the Red Sox were unwilling to give the fifth year, and compensated by paying him more per year than they had agreed to pay Lackey. I feel this is a good move for the club because Beckett has performed very well for the Red Sox in the pressure cooker of the American League East, and the number of really good free agent arms coming up in coming seasons is quickly diminishing.
It is also difficult to gauge how some players will adjust to playing in Fenway Park, which does not favor extreme fly-ball pitchers. Josh Beckett is a known entity for the Boston Red Sox, a known entity who has won 65 games over the last 4 seasons with a sub-4 ERA. They are also very aware of his health and how to manage him, something that is not always completely evident with free agent pitchers (see: Carl Pavano). It is also worth noting that this contract means that the "Big Three" pitchers in the Red Sox organization are all locked up through 2014, meaning that the Red Sox know for a fact that Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, and John Lackey will be at the front of their rotation for the next few years, also allowing them to know how they will allocate money for other parts of the club.
Now, for the move I didn't like:
Oakland Athletics Designate Jack Cust for Assignment
This move completely puzzled me. I know the Athletics have more depth than they know what to do with in the Outfield, but Jack Cust should be in the every day DH spot. The reasoning behind the move is that they plan to move Eric Chavez into the every day DH spot, which makes some degree of sense because he has become so injury prone. However, it seems like they could have released one of their all-glove no-bat outfielders (especially since Coco Crisp broke his finger) instead of releasing Cust who (as the article notes) has hit 84 Home Runs over the past 3 seasons, which is in the top 5 for all Outfielders. In addition to that, Cust's lowest OBP the last three seasons with the Athletics was .356, and the fewest Walks he has ever drawn in a full season is 93. Those are great numbers, especially for a guy who is getting $2.65mm per season. He may have a problem with Batting Average, but when you can put up a good OPS every season that doesn't matter so much, just look at Carlos Pena.
Now, I know that the new sexy stat in place of OBP is suddenly Defense, with guys who are all-bat and no defense (see: Jermaine Dye, Vladimir Guerrero) either not getting signed or getting underpaid, and Cust is certainly no defensive wizard. I can understand the change teams are making towards defense, but, even WITH Cust I don't see the Athletics scoring a whole lot of runs, so cutting your biggest power threat, barring a return to form by Eric Chavez, just seems illogical.
On a related note, Eric Chavez has also publically stated that he is completely baffled byt he move, especially because they had him working on playing 3B all Spring Training. The rest of the clubhouse is probably also a little concerned about the situation and the lack of communication.
What do you think of these two moves? Let me know!