Some things to talk about while we finally get the chance to fraternize with other baseball websites...
1) Jimmy Paredes is gone
Farewell, sweet prince. We hardly knew ye.
No, that's not right. We knew FAR too much about Jimmy Paredes. We knew he did not hit a lick in nearly 400 big league plate appearances across three seasons. We knew he didn't have a great defensive position outside of second base, where he wasn't playing for a while with Jose Altuve there. We knew he ran well, but didn't have particularly great baserunning instincts.
Oh, and we knew he almost killed Altuve and Jake Elmore (feature below) in the outfield last year.
That last one is unforgiveable.
There's still plenty of upside for Paredes, which is why the Marlins snapped him up as soon as he was placed on waivers. Assumingly, the Marlins will be able to play him at second, which is where he should be at. But, is it clear whether he'll ever hit enough in the majors? His strikeout rate is pretty high and his walk rate pretty low. His minor league track record also doesn't suggest any changes to that script.
Paredes still has plenty of proponents on the TCB staff. Some people still love his tools. He may turn into a good player soon, but the reason why he won't haunt the Astros much is his price. Paredes is close to arbitration and is about to get expensive. With his mediocre production and no position for Houston, it makes sense they let him go. That expense is also probably why no team offered Houston anything in trade for him.
What do you think? How many of you are sad Paredes is gone? Do you think he'll blossom in Miami?
2) Brad Ausmus skippers the Tigers
Do you know why I didn't make this number one? Because I assume all the women who read the blog will storm in as soon as they see Ausmus' name looking for a photo of him, crash the site and then leave, a swath of destruction in their wake. Honestly, I'm ashamed at how all these seemingly well-adjusted women objectify poor Ausmus. Have they no decency?
Anyways, it's about time we discuss Ausmus going to the Tigers. I know many of you have already talked about it in the comments, so I won't try to repeat any points that have already been made. I mean, we know why he chose the Tigers right? A team on the doorstep of the World Series, with a powerful middle of the order and a scary pitching staff. Can you imagine what Ausmus' pitching brain can do with Verlander?
But, I wonder how he would have fit in with the Astros. When Ausmus was a player, he was a leader, but he was a leader behind Biggio and Bagwell. He wasn't outspoken and he didn't immediately take over as the elder statesman when those two left the team. I just think his personality is more laid-back and cerebral than a vocal leader, which Bo Porter most certainly is.
Basically, I think of Ausmus as a professor and Porter as a football coach. Both can teach effectively, just in very different ways. For this Astros team and the ones for the next few years, I think Porter's style fits better than what Ausmus might bring.
3) Qualifying offers set
The free agent qualifying offers have been extended and free agency is now officially underway. Teams can negotiate with any free agent now and sign contracts immediately, though those deals probably don't get done for weeks yet.
Ken Rosenthal posits in a column today that the biggest winners this winter may be Bronson Arroyo, Joe Nathan and Jarred Saltalamacchia:
Well, everyone who did not receive a qualifying offer would fit this description - they are truly free, unencumbered by draft-pick compensation.
Some of those players, though, will benefit more than others. And two teams, in particular, worked the system to their advantage.
Let's forget that he cites Bronson Arroyo's win total and ERA less than 4.00 as signs he's been an effective pitcher. What is this, 1970? Arroyo will probably sign quickly, though, to get in on the market before teams talk themselves into Ubaldo Jimenez and some of the other pricy options. That still doesn't make him effective, even if he gets $5 million a year for the next two.
Same goes for Saltalamacchia, who's a guy at catcher, not exciting but not replacement level either. He provides some pop, but has been inconsistent and will be more expensive than the value he provides to many teams.
Nathan, though, may come out smelling the best this winter. In a deep bullpen market, he's now not tied to any draft pick compensation, which means he can rise to the top of the list for teams looking to an experienced ninth inning guy. He might not get the biggest reliever deal of the offseason, but he's sure to have a better deal now than he would have gotten if the Rangers had extended the qualifying offer.
In all, 13 players received qualifying offers and would require draft pick compensation. We'll explore that issue later today in more detail.