Around the SaberSphere 12/10: Wil Myers/James Shields, Zack Greinke, Closers Aging

J. Meric

Monday's edition of sabermetric linkage includes analyses of the latest Royals/Rays trade, Zack Greinke to the Dodgers, how closers age and more...

R.J. Anderson and Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus give a very realistic recap of the Royals/Rays blockbuster deal: Baseball Prospectus | Transaction Analysis: The Shields/Myers Blockbuster

Secondly, and most importantly from a scouting standpoint, Myers doesn’t project to be a superstar, at least as far as I’m concerned. Again, highly skilled and one hell of a prospect, but the offensive tools aren’t so crazy that Myers was considered untouchable or a slam-dunk MVP candidate at the highest level. A realistic projection might peg him as a first-division talent or perhaps as an All-Star in his peak years.

Baseball America got six AL pro scouts' thoughts on the same trade: BaseballAmerica.com: Majors: Trade Central: Royals Deal Minor League POY, Others To Rays For Shields

Inside the game, the response is much more measured. In checking with six pro scouts, none saw the trade as one-sided, and all were convinced that the chorus of criticism of the Royals for making the deal is misplaced.

Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs discusses the Dodgers and their latest signing, Zack Greinke: Dodgers Sign Zack Greinke, Spur Market | FanGraphs Baseball

The Angels might serve as a useful example, as it happens. The Dodgers, right now, are in line to open 2013 with the highest payroll ever, and it’s hard to imagine them stopping with the spending spree. But they do have limits, even if they haven’t reached them, and the free spending can’t continue forever. After acquiring Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson last offseason, this offseason the Angels have focused on the lower tiers. It’s going to be interesting to see if and when the Dodgers become more responsible.

Russell Carlton of Baseball Prospectus asks the question of whether or not closers age differently than other relievers: Baseball Prospectus | Baseball Therapy: Do Closers Age Differently Than Other Relievers?

Maybe we've got something else at work here. Closers are not chosen at random. In fact, they are chosen specifically because they are good pitchers. Leaving aside the usual arguments about the inefficiency of the modern closer role, managers do usually try to pick their best reliever for the job, ideally one who's not going to fall apart very quickly. Maybe these results are an indicator that managers are simply good at picking that guy out. They are baseball subject matter experts, after all. We know that for hitters, there are different developmental trajectories, with hitters who debut earlier peaking later. Perhaps there is a similar effect for relievers. The good ones get to be closers, and they also follow a nicer career trajectory.

Scott Spratt of the Hardball Times discusses the Red Sox and the issue of positional flexibility: The price of positional flexibility--THT

The Red Sox wanted a culture change. If the new manager and the lack of long-term contracts are evidence of their new course, I would speculate that Victorino and Napoli are evidence, as well. Neither player is a likely All-Star, but each is versatile. Might these signings allow Boston the position flexibility it will need to cover for potential injuries? If 2012 was an indication, such flexibility would serve the team well.

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