As you all probably know, it’s the American Thanksgiving holiday this Thursday, so we Canadian writers are holding down the fort, having celebrated our Thanksgiving this past Oct. 12 (We canuckleheads are a crazy bunch).
Anyway, your friends to the north are not the only ones working during this holiday time. Some Major League Baseball teams have been busy working the transaction wire, including the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Padres, Kansas City… and the White Sox, as you learned with Dave’s recent post discussing the signing of Andruw Jones with the White Sox.
The Boston Red Sox made a minor move by acquiring infielder Tug Hulett from the Kansas City Royals for a player to be named or cash. Hulett had been designated for assignment recently. The move brings in some infield depth on the 40-man roster. The infielder, who never got a fair shot in KC, moves on to a club that should truly appreciate his ability to get on base, while providing depth at multiple infield positions. His defense is nothing special, but Hulett is an offensive-minded infielder with a career minor-league on-base average of .393. He also has the ability to hit 10-15 homers and steal just as many bases if given full playing time, which is unlikely to happen. In deep AL-only fantasy leagues, Hulett could offer short-term value if an injury occurs to a Boston starter. Just you watch… Kansas City will now go out and give a veteran bench player $1 million to fill the role that Hulett could have done for the league minimum. Frankly, I think he would have been a nice pick-up by the Jays organization.
I won’t completely condemn the Royals. Like Hulett, Buck Coats is one of those minor-league players that I would have grabbed for depth if I was a big-league GM. The Kansas City organization signed the outfielder as a minor-league free agent after he spent the past two season in triple-A with Toronto. Keeping in mind that Coats played in one of the best triple-A parks to hit in, he managed a triple-slash line of .302/.361/.415 with 25 steals in 32 attempts. His strikeout rate was just 12.8%, yet he has never gotten on base enough (8.6 BB%) to take advantage of his speed. Coats could settle in as a nice fourth outfielder with arguably more offensive upside than Josh Anderson, Mitch Maier, or Willie Bloomquist (and for less money). If Coats does make the opening day roster, keep him in mind for possible steals in AL-only leagues.
The Toronto Blue Jays were expected to ink veteran shortstop John McDonald to a one-year, $1.5 million contract, but instead it turned out to be a two-year, $3 million deal, making the decision even worse than it was. Yes, Marco Scutaro is on his way out of town (for two much-needed, high draft picks) but the club could have found a better way to spend $3 million. Although the sample size is small, UZR suggests McDonald is no longer a gifted fielder, and that he’s still getting paid based on his reputation from years past. And offensively, he’s a black hole. If he ends up getting the starting – or even a platoon – gig in Toronto, do not – under any circumstance – consider him in your deepest of deep fantasy leagues. His 0.7% walk rate from ’09 is good for a chuckle, though.
Perhaps the most intriguing move of the day was the waiver claim of Radhames Liz. The hard-throwing right-hander was picked up by San Diego from Baltimore, which was obviously having Daniel Cabrera flashbacks. The 26-year-old Liz has a killer fastball, in terms of velocity, but he has troubles finding the plate on most nights. This past season, he threw well in eight double-A starts, but imploded in triple-A and the Majors. He had three shots at the Majors with Baltimore over the span of three seasons and failed them all, compiling a 6.26 FIP (7.50 ERA) along the way in 110.1 innings. Despite sitting around 92-94 mph, Liz has never had success in the Majors with his heater – or his 84 mph change-up. His slider has shown the most promise in limited showings, with a rate of -0.2 wSL. San Diego, which plays in a cavernous park, could be the best thing to happen to Liz in his pro career. If he can show enough command/control in spring training, he could develop into a power arm for the bullpen… But it is a big “If.” Liz is certainly not a fantasy option at this point, but don’t forget the name just yet.