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Hot Stove: 12/2

Lots happened since the last update, containing five deals including the Pirates, one of which was valued at $17 million. The Braves and Angels also swapped a pair of top pitchers.

Stat of the Day: Earned Run Average

Abbreviation: ERA.  All Time Leader: Ed Walsh (1.82).  Single Season Leader: Dutch Leonard (0.96 in 1914).  Active Leader: Adam Wainwright (3.15).  2012 Leader: Clayton Kershaw (2.53).

ERA, like many stats, changed dramatically at the end of the Dead Ball ERA.  Before 1920, it was not uncommon for a pitcher to dip his ERA below 2.00 for the season, and Dutch Leonard even brought it down to 0.96 in 1914, his second year in the majors.  Since games were so low scoring, players could have losing records with magnificent ERA's.  In 1910, the greatest ERA pitcher of all time, Ed Walsh, went 18-20 with a 1.27 ERA in 1910, placing what is currently the 13th lowest single season ERA of all time and still having a losing record.  However, the spitballer from northern Pennsylvania was as consistent as it got for ERA pitchers, as he never once posted a full season ERA over 2.60, and pitched five straight seasons from 1906-1910 in which he kept his ERA below 1.90.  Addie Joss, who pitched from 1902-1910, posted a career ERA of 1.89, making him the only other pitcher to hold a career mark under 2.00.  His best year came in 1908, when he was 24-11 with a 1.16 ERA.  In 1920, however, everything changed.  Pitchers saw ERA's explode, and it was evident across the league.  Walter Johnson lead the majors in ERA in 1919 at 1.49, but in 1920, he saw that number jump to 3.13.  Allen Sothoron, who had posted 1.94 and 2.23 marks in 1918 and 1919, watched his ERA inflate to 4.70 in 1920 and never brought it below 3.57 before he retired in 1926.  In 1950, the greatest ERA master of the Live Ball Era came around.  Whitey Ford was 9-1 with a 2.81 ERA in his rookie year, and went on to post a 2.75 ERA over his 16 year career.  He never posted a mark over 3.24, and eight times he posted a mark of 2.90 or lower.  In 1958, he was 14-7 with a 2.01 ERA.  We can't talk about ERA without talking about 1968, though.  That year, known as the Year of the Pitcher, seven hurlers posted ERA's below 2.00, and Bob Gibson set a still standing Live Ball Era record with his 1.12 ERA.  Overall, 49 pitchers had ERA's under 3.00.  If you compare that to 2012, it starkly contrasts the fact that only ten pitchers had ERA's under 3.00.  In 1969, after some minor tweaks to the mound, ERA stabilized, and hasn't changed much since.  Fast forward to today, and a single season ERA record was actually broken.  He didn't have enough innings to set the official mark, but Fernando Rodney posted a 0.60 ERA through 74.2 innings, breaking the record for relievers and thus pitchers entirely (minimum 70 innings pitched).  It may be a while before we see another starter break the 2.00 barrier, as no one has done it since Roger Clemens tallied a 1.87 mark in 2005, and before him, Pedro Martinez at 1.74 in 2000.  

News

The non-tender deadline passed, which means that all arbitration eligible players had to be tendered contracts.  If not, they became free agents.  Here are some of the most notable players to join the free agent market yesterday: Brian Wilson (Giants), Mark Reynolds (Orioles),Jair Jurjens (Braves), Mike Pelfrey (Mets), and Geovany Soto.

The Nationals non-tendered three players: Jesus FloresJohn Lannan, and Tom Gorzelanny, making them all free agents.

The Mets signed David Wright to a seven year, $122 million extension ($17.43 million per season).  It is the richest deal in Mets history.

Free Agent Signings

Pirates signed Russell Martin (21 HR, 53 RBI, .211 AVG, 6 SB, 2013 age: 30) to a two year, $17 million deal ($8.5 million per season).

Cubs signed Japanese star Kyuji Fujikawa (2-2, 1.32 ERA, 24 saves, 1.03 WHIP in Nippon Professional Baseball League, 2013 age: 32-33) to a two year, $9 million deal ($4.5 million per season).

Pirates also signed Felix Pie (missed 2012 season, 17 career HR, .249 AVG, 2013 age: 28) to a minor league deal.

Pirates also signed Mike Zagurski (0-0, 5.54 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 2013 age: 30) to a minor league deal.

The Pirates solidified their catching situation for 2013, signing Russell Martin to a two year deal.  The 29 year old French Canadian looks to start ahead of Michael McKenry next year.  Martin is what one can call an all-around catcher.  In 2007, he hit 19 home runs, batted .293, stole 21 bases, and won a Gold Glove, proving to be the rare five tool catcher.  However, he has slowly declined since that solid 2007, and he barely stayed afloat from 2009-2010.  Joining the Yankees in 2011, his power surged back, and he hit 18 home runs after hitting just 12 over the last two years.  Last year, he set a career high with 21 home runs, but set a career low with his .211 average.  His best month last year was September, when he hit six home runs and batted .256 through 23 games.

Kyuji Fujikawa is arguably the best closer in Japan.  He posted two seasons with ERA's under 0.70, including a 0.68 mark with 17 saves in 2006 and a 0.67 mark and 38 saves in 2008.  Last year, due to rotator cuff issues, he had his lowest innings pitched mark since 2004, as he only made it through 47.2 innings.   He still managed a 1.32 ERA and 24 saves.  His career high in saves is 46 back in 2007, and he saved 41 in 2011.  Over his 12 year career, he is 42-25 with a 1.77 ERA and 220 saves through 562 appearances.

Trades

Braves traded Tommy Hanson (13-10, 4.48 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 2013 age: 26) to the Angels for Jordan Walden (3-2, 3.46 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 1 save, 2013 age: 25).

Royals traded Vin Mazzaro (4-3, 5.73 ERA, 1.68 WHIP, 2013 age: 26) and Clint Robinson (hitless in four at bats, 2013 age: 28) to the Pirates for minor leaguers Luis Santos (6-3, 2.44 ERA, .184 BAA at DSL, 2013 age: 22) and Luis Rico (0-1, 7.04 ERA, .313 BAA at DSL, 2013 age: 19).

Rays traded Burke Badenhop (3-2, 3.03 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 2013 age: 30) to the Brewers for minor leaguer Raul Mondesi Jr. (5 HR, 32 RBI, .231 AVG, 8 SB at Rookie level, 2013 age: 20).

Pirates traded Chris Resop (1-4, 3.91 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 1 save, 2013 age: 30) to the A's for minor leaguer Zach Thornton (4-0, 4.53 ERA, .264 BAA, 16 saves at High Class A, 2013 age: 25).

Pirates also traded Yamaico Navarro (1 HR, 4 RBI, .160 AVG, 0 SB, 2013 age: 25) to the Orioles for minor leaguer Jhondaniel Medina (1-3, 4.14 ERA, .205 BAA, 2 saves at GCL and Low Class A, 2013 age: 20).

The Angels acquired insurance for their rotation in the highly likely situation that Zack Greinke signs elsewhere.  Tommy Hanson has spent his entire seven year professional career in the Braves organization, and was once considered the Braves top prospect.  That was after he went 11-5 with a 2.41 ERA between High Class A Myrtle Beach and AA Mississippi.  He didn't disappoint in his rookie year in 2009, going 11-4 with a 2.89 ERA at just 22 years old.  Since then, he has gradually weakened.  He was 10-11 with a 3.33 ERA in 2010, then 11-7 with a 3.60 ERA in 2011.  As for the great collapse that year, he was 1-3 with an 8.10 ERA after the break.  Last year, he faltered to the point of mediocrity, and was 13-10 with a 4.48 ERA over 31 starts.  Maybe joining his hometown Angels (he grew up outside of San Bernardino in the city of Redlands) will reverse the trend he is moving in.  He will be surrounded back up C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver in the rotation.

Jordan Walden, a Fort Worth area native and childhood friend of Clayton Kershaw, also spent his entire six year professional career in the Angels organization.  The 6'5" righty with a quirky windup turned heads in 2011 as the Angels' closer.  Through 62 appearances, he was 5-5 with a 2.98 ERA and 32 saves, earning an All Star nod.  His injury and Ernesto Frieri's emergence caused him to lose his job as closer last year, but he still posted respectable numbers, including a 3.46 ERA and a .229 BAA.  He will join Craig Kimbrel, Johnny Venters, and Eric O'Flaherty in the back end of the bullpen and could get a seventh inning job.

Waiver Claims

Astros claimed Philip Humber (5-5, 6.44 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 2013 age: 30) off waivers from the White Sox.

Yankees claimed Jim Miller (2-1, 2.59 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 2013 age: 31) off waivers from the A's.

Angels claimed Scott Cousins (1 HR, 3 RBI, .163 AVG, 1 SB, 2013 age: 28) off waivers from the Marlins.

-- 
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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