Lots of big transactions today:
-P- The Astros traded OF Luke Scott, 3B Mike Costanzo and pitchers Troy Patton, Matt Albers and Dennis Sarfate for two years of Miguel Tejada.
This reminds me of the enormous deal a few years ago in which the Diamondbacks traded about 30 okay players for one year of Richie Sexson. That deal actually turned out pretty well for the Brewers because Lyle Overbay and Chris Capuano both turned out to be a bit better than expected - the only benefit of these quantity-over-quality deals is that the more interesting players you have, the more chances there are that one of them will turn into something.
The Orioles aren't getting anyone terrific here - Patton is probably the guy with the highest-upside, and his strikeout rate took a serious dive in the high minors this year. Albers will be 25 next year and looks like a back-of-the-rotation starter. Scott is a late-bloomer who has hit well the last two seasons but hasn't faced lefties much. Costanzo is a longshot third base prospect who strikes out all the time but has good power. Sarfate is a reliever with a great fastball but no idea where it's going. All in all, the Orioles get a big grab bag of little Wonka bars, and they'll hope that there's a golden ticket underneath one of the wrappers.
As for the Astros, I'm not sure what they think they're getting here. Tejada's an enormous upgrade over Adam Everett at short, but Tejada still took a big step backward in 2007, slugging only .442. The Astros only won 73 games last year, and Tejada isn't any longer the sort of player who can turn a team like that into a contender. And the 'Stros just traded Brad Lidge to the Phillies for Geoff Geary and a couple of youngsters, so this Tejada deal doesn't look like part of a coherent plan to me. Then again, coherent planning has never been new Houston GM Ed Wade's strong suit - he runs teams like his goal is to win 85 games. Which I guess is better than Dave Littlefield running the Pirates like his goal is to win 75 games, but it's still isn't what you'd want.
-P- Speaking of directionless teams, the Giants signed Aaron Rowand to a five year, $60 million contract. Not that Rowand's a bad player or anything, but he's already 30 and has posted OPSes below .750 in two of the last three seasons. $60 million, while not a surprising number, is quite a lot for a guy who could very well fail to post an above-average offensive season over the entire course of the contract. ZiPS thinks he'll put up a 97 OPS+ next year and descend from there.
And the Giants?! Brian Sabean is really, really, really the wrong GM for this team right now. San Francisco had its third consecutive sub-.500 season last year and finished dead-last in a division full of up-and-coming teams, and this offseason they lost their best hitter by a mile (Barry Bonds). And yet, other than a couple of veteran dumps at mid-season last year, Sabean hasn't shown even a little evidence that he has any idea of the obvious - that the franchise should be rebuilding. Instead, he's spent the last several years shuffling deck chairs and trotting out an unbelievably uninspired team. Somehow, the Giants managed to slug .387 last year with Bonds in the lineup. And they didn't have a single guy in their everyday lineup under 32! Replacing Bonds with Rowand is only going to make their lineup worse.
-P- The Padres signed Jake Peavy to a three-year, $52 million extension that starts in 2010. Peavy makes $15 million in 2010, $16 million in 2011 and $17 million in 2012. The Padres have a $22 million option or a $4 million buyout in 2013.
I'm not normally a fan of these deals that start a couple years in the future, and this deal is very similar in structure to the one Chris Carpenter signed a year ago. I didn't like that deal at the time, and it's looking pretty bad for St. Louis so far. The difference here, to me, is that Carpenter was 31 when that deal was signed, and Peavy's 26 now. So this deal covers Peavy's ages 29-31 seasons, while Carpenter's effectively covers his age 34-36 seasons. (It was a five-year deal, but the Cardinals already had him under contract for the first two years.) Peavy's great and young, whereas Carpenter was great and relatively old, and I think that's the difference between a bargain contract and a dicey one.
-P- The Padres also signed Tad Iguchi to a one-year, $4 million contract. That's not a bad deal at all for a consistently decent second baseman. Iguchi probably qualifies as an underrated player at this point - you never hear about him, even though he's played, and played pretty well, for a couple of high-profile franchises. San Diego badly needed a second baseman - as of this morning, they actually had former Bucs farmhand Craig Stansberry at the top of their official depth chart.
-P- The Cubs have reached a tentative four-year, $48 million deal with Japanese outfielder Kosuke Fukudome. You can check out Fukudome's Japanese stats here. As with most Japanese players, though, you don't really know what you're getting until he plays for a while here. In any case, $48 million no longer seems like a lot to gamble on a player who might turn out to be a star.