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Hot Stove: 12/11

This is a must see blog. Over $210 million in free agent signings were made, including the largest contract in history for a right handed pitcher. Nine players also changed teams over two trades.

Stat of the Day: Saves

Abbreviation: S or SV.  All Time Leader: Mariano Rivera (608).  Single Season Leader: Francisco Rodriguez (62 in 2008).  Active Leader: Mariano Rivera (608).  2012 Leader: Jim Johnson (51).

The save is a complicated stat to record.  The pitcher's team must win, he must finish the game, he may not be the "winning" pitcher (i.e. credited with the win), and he must do one of the following: pitch at least one inning with at most a three run lead, enter the game with the tying run on deck at the furthest, or pitch three or more innings.  The most common kind of save is the first option, where he finishes the win by protecting a three or less run lead in the ninth.  Obviously, the closer gets most of the saves.  One interesting point of view of the save came from Bradford Doolittle, who claims that the save is the only stat in sports history to actually create a position.  Indeed, before the save, there was no real ninth inning man for most teams, but now, every single team has one.  Closers will be used only in save opportunities, instead of crucial situations earlier in games.  One defense to the closer's role comes from those who have pitched both as middle relievers and as closers.  They all say that the ninth inning is a different animal.  The fans are on their feet, the game is tense, and every pitch has purpose.  Back in baseball's early days, the save was extremely uncommon due to a lack of relievers.  In 1878, Indianapolis' Tom Healey recorded the only save in the majors that year.  Not a single pitcher recorded as many as six saves in a season until the Giants' Claud Elliott in 1905.  A double digit save season was not even reached until 1911, when Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown saved 13 games for the Cubs.  The first true "closer" was Frederick "Firpo" Marberry, who pitched for the Senators, Tigers, and Giants over his 14 year career.  In 1924, just his first full season, he set a single season record with 15 saves, though saves were not actually recorded at that time.  He repeated the feat in 1925, then smashed his own record in 1926 by saving 22 games.  By the end of his career, he had become the first pitcher in history with 100 saves (he saved 101).  He pitched for the Washington Senators from 1923-1932 and in 1936, chalking up 96 of his 101 saves for the team.  Hoyt Wilhelm, who pitched from 1952-1972, is another one of the game's first great closers.   He recorded 227 saves, and in 1964, he set a career high with 27.  One of the great pitchers who ushered along the development of the save was Rollie Fingers, who pitched for the A's, Padres, and Brewers from 1968-1985.  In 1977 and 1978, he posted back to back 35 and 37 save seasons before finishing with 341 for his career.  Goose Gossage was another one of the pioneers of the modern day save, as he saved 310 games over his 23 year career.  In 1980, he saved 33 games, and he posted seven straight seasons of at least 20 saves from 1980-1986.  Dan Quisenberry of the Royals revolutionized the save in 1983, saving 45 games to become the first pitcher in major league history with 40 saves in a season.  He followed that up with 44 more saves in 1984.  From 1980-1985, he led the AL in saves five times.  Lee Smith, who pitched from 1980-1997, became the first pitcher to 400 saves and did so by a wide margin, finishing with 478.  From 1991-1993, he topped 40 saves three straight times.  Trevor Hoffman proceeded to smash Smith's record by totaling 601 saves from 1993-2010.  In 1998, he saved 53 games, second only to Bobby Thigpen's 58 saves in 1990 at that time.  During Hoffman's reign, Mariano Rivera ascended to the rank of the top closer of all time.  Over his 18 year career, which is still running, he saved 608 games, saving at least 50 games twice.  He has led the AL in saves three times, and from 1997-2011, he never saved less than 28 games in a season.  He also holds the postseason record with 42 saves.  Lastly, Francisco Rodriguez, who has 294 saves to his name, holds the single season record.  In 2008, his final year for the Angels, he saved an incredible 62 games, breaking Thigpen's 18 year old record of 58.  

News

Starter Zack Greinke signed the largest contract in history for a right handed pitcher, valued at $147 million.

Free Agent Signings

Dodgers signed Zack Greinke (15-5, 3.48 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 2013 age: 29) to a six year, $147 million deal ($24.5 million per season).

Dodgers also signed Korean star Hyun-Jin Ryu (9-9, 2.66 ERA, 1.09 WHIP in Korean League, 2013 age: 26) to a six year, $36 million deal ($6 million per season).

Indians agreed to terms with Mark Reynolds (23 HR, 69 RBI, .221 AVG, 1 SB, 2013 age: 29-30) on a one year, $6 million deal.

Reds resigned Ryan Ludwick (26 HR, 80 RBI, .275 AVG, 0 SB, 2013 age: 34-35) to a two year, $15 million deal ($7.5 million per season).

Red Sox agreed to terms with Koji Uehara (0-0, 1.75 ERA, 0.64 WHIP, 1 save, 2013 age: 38) on a one year, $4.25 million deal.

Pirates agreed to terms to resign Jason Grilli (1-6, 2.91 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 2 saves, 2013 age: 36) to a two year, $6.75 million deal ($3.38 million per season).

Tigers signed Brayan Pena (2 HR, 25 RBI, .236 AVG, 0 SB, 2013 age: 31) to a one year deal.

The big gasper is the Zack Greinke deal.  In my opinion, Greinke, who is now the highest payed right hander in baseball history, has also become the second most over payed player in baseball today, second only to Alex Rodriguez.  He may be an ace, but he is not a bona fide ace.  For example, on the Nationals, he would be a 3 or 4 starter.  On the Angels, he would be a 2 or 3.  This kind of money should not go to a guy with 91 career wins and an ERA over 3.70.  Nonetheless, he, along with Hyun-Jin Ryu, now make the Dodgers' rotation one of the most potent in baseball.  Surrounding Greinke and Ryu are Josh Beckett, Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano, and Aaron Harang, a rotation that would be able to go eight deep.  However, this all came at a price.  The Dodgers' payroll is expected to exceed $225 million in 2013, which can be compared to the Nationals' $90 million in 2012 and the Yankees', yes the Yankees', goal to get under $175 million.  Greinke has pitched nine years in the majors, dating back to his debut with the Royals in 2004.  The Orlando native had a good year in 2004, but after a rough 2005, almost quit baseball in 2006 due to an anxiety disorder.  He instead decided to keep pitching, and he had a great comeback year in 2008 by going 13-10 with a 3.47 ERA.  In 2009, he had one of the best seasons by any active pitcher, going 16-8 with a 2.16 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and six complete games, three of which were shutouts.  After a step back in 2010, he was traded to the Brewers, where he rebounded in 2011.  Over 28 starts, he was 16-6 with a 3.83 ERA.  Last year, which he split between Milwaukee and the Angels, he was 15-5 with a 3.48 ERA while making a career high 34 starts.  Of course, based on those numbers, he does not deserve $147 million, but that is what comes with being the top pitcher on the market.  Over his nine years, he is 91-78 with a 3.77 ERA over 272 games (231 starts).

Trades

Rays traded James Shields (15-10, 3.52 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 2013 age: 31) and Wade Davis (3-0, 2.43 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 2013 age: 27) to the Royals for Jake Odorizzi (0-1, 4.91 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, 2013 age: 23) and minor leaguers Wil Myers (37 HR, 109 RBI, .314 AVG, 6 SB at AA and AAA, 2013 age: 22), Mike Montgomery (5-12, 6.07 ERA, 1.62 WHIP at AA and AAA, 2013 age: 23-24), and Patrick Leonard (14 HR, 46 RBI, .251 AVG, 6 SB at Rookie Level, 2013 age: 20).

Rangers traded Michael Young (8 HR, 67 RBI, .277 AVG, 2 SB, 2013 age: 36) to the Phillies for Josh Lindblom (3-5, 3.55 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 1 save, 2013 age: 26) and minor leaguer Lisalverto Bonilla (3-2, 1.55 ERA, .191 BAA, 4 saves at High Class A and AA, 2013 age: 23).

This Royals trade is a blockbuster.  For the first time in years, Kansas City is a buyer.  They added a pair of pitchers for four prospects.  James Shields highlights the list of players moved, as he is a big time pitcher who hasn't seen an inning of minor league action since his first call up in 2006.  Big Game James established himself the next year, going 12-8 with a 3.85 ERA for a struggling Devil Rays team.  In 2008, during their miraculous run to the World Series, Shields was leading the way, going 14-8 with a 3.56 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP.  After a couple of down years in 2009 and 2010, he rebounded in 2011 with the best year of his career.  The 29 year old Newhall, California native was 16-12 with a 2.82 ERA and 1.04 WHIP, completing eleven games and tossing four shutouts.  Last year, he returned to Earth, and went 15-10 with a 3.52 ERA.  Always one to keep a low WHIP due to a low walk rate, his career mark sits at a respectable 1.22.  Shields gives the Royals an ace to head a revamped rotation that could include Ervin Santana, Luke Hochevar, Jeremy Guthrie, and Bruce Chen.  Over his seven years, he is 87-73 with a 3.89 ERA over 218 games (217 starts).  The Royals also acquired Wade Davis, a 6'5" Florida native who began his career as a starter but has since moved to the bullpen.  His best year in the rotation was 2010, when he was 12-10 with a 4.07 ERA at the age of 24.  Last year, out of the bullpen, he posted a 2.43 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP and let opponents bat just .189, including just a .161 mark against lefties.

The main return to Tampa Bay is Wil Myers, the minors' top hitter last year and the Royals' #1 prospect.  The North Carolinian outfielder completely broke out in 2012.  Starting off with Northwest Arkansas at AA, he crushed 13 home runs and batted .343 over the course of just 35 games, so that was that.  Moving up to AAA Omaha, he continued to bash, and hit 24 home runs and 79 RBI in 99 games to go along with a .304 average.  Overall, he hit 37 home runs and batted .314 over 134 games.  Jake Odorizzi, the Royals' top pitching prospect, was another major return.  Odorizzi, who as also a piece of the deal that sent Zack Greinke to Milwaukee, is 34-21 with a 3.50 ERA over his five year minor league career.  Last year was his best, as he was 15-5 with a 3.03 ERA.  He was at his best for AAA Omaha, as the 22 year old went 11-3 iwth a 2.93 ERA over 19 games (18 starts).  By September, he earned a big league call up and tossed 5.1 strong innings in his debut.  Tampa Bay gets Mike Montgomery, a top prospect turned disaster.  After combining to go 13-9 with a 2.39 ERA from 2009-2010, Montgomery has been just 10-23 with a 5.67 ERA over the last two years.  At AA Northwest Arkansas last year, he was just 2-6 with a 6.67 ERA and let opponents bat .299.  Tampa Bay, who is good at developing young pitching, will hope to right his ship.  Lastly, the Rays acquired Patrick Leonard, a 20 year old third basemen with 62 games of professional experience under his belt.  Those games, played for the Burlington Royals of the Rookie Appalachian League, yielded 14 home runs and a .251 average.  He only hit nine doubles, which the Rays hope doesn't mean a lack of power potential.   

-- 
Teams followed in this update: Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, Colorado Rockies

If your team is not included, please leave a comment.

HR: home runs.  RBI: runs batted in.  AVG: batting average.  SB: stolen bases.  ERA: earned run average. WHIP: walks/hits per innings pitched.  K's: strikeouts. WPCT: winning percentage

Zack Silverman

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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