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Well, the most interesting story of the day award goes to T.J. Quinn, a former New York Daily News reporter who is now with ESPN.
It was 10 years ago today when Quinn, then at the Daily News, broke the story of Bonds' grand jury testimony in the BALCO scandal. He was never supposed to hear the testimony, of course, but he did nonetheless.
How did he do it?
Well, a little luck ... a little quick thinking ... and the rest is history.
He revealed the entire story through a series of tweets. Deadspin has already captured them, so we won't bother to do the same.
But trust us: go have a look-see.
But as big of a deal as that news conference was Tuesday afternoon, there was a reality check less than 24 hours later. The Yankees once again opened their giant checkbook and reportedly agreed to terms with free agent outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury on a 7-year, $153 million deal. This makes Ellsbury the next Johnny Damon when it comes to Beantown Betrayal.
It also represents more than triple in total value what the Twins paid for Nolasco, and nobody really bats an eyelash when the Yankees do it.
All of this, too, while the Yankees are reportedly trying to cut payroll.
Then again, the Yankees' version of cutting down means getting just under the $189 million luxury tax threshold. Even if New York wound up at, say, $185 million for next season, they would still dwarf the Twins and many other teams.
This isn't news, just review -- and a reminder that on a day the Twins spent twice as much as they ever have on a free agent, it was learned the Yankees have committed to spending more than three times that pumped up figure. We wrote a couple months back about spending vs. winning and the correlation. Again, what it comes down to in our mind is this: If the Twins are wrong about Nolasco and he flops, that is a devastating blow to their hopes. If the Yankees miss on a guy like Nolasco, they can always buy another one.
Ricky Nolasco (4 years, $49 million) and Phil Hughes (3 years, $24 million) represent the two richest free agent contracts ever given by the Twins to outside players.
Here are three thoughts on each pitcher:
1) This is no sure thing, of course. His best season in the majors was 2008. His next-best was 2013. In-between were four adequate years, but nothing that would light the world on fire. That said, his career rate of 7.4 strikeouts per 9 innings looks much nicer when placed against the context of the Twins' pitch-to-contact staffs of recent years. Basically, by being adequate or better, he will be an upgrade.
2) The best thing about Nolasco aside from his decent strikeout totals is his durability. He's made at least 26 starts every season from 2008-13, and he'll be 31 when the season starts -- meaning we could reasonably expect him to make a lot of starts over the length of his contract.
3) At his best, he should be a more strikeout-capable version of the 2010-11 Carl Pavano who gave the Twins a lot of innings and was a reasonable option to start big games. At his worst, he will be an overpaid strikeout-capable version of Kevin Correia, more of a No. 3 or No. 4 starter eating innings. Either way, he's an upgrade.
1) We're actually more excited about this signing than the Nolasco deal because we think it has more value, Hughes potentially has more upside and as the second domino to fall in the rotation it gives the starting five a very viable feel. His career splits trend very nicely on the road. Whether it's the Yankees' ballpark or the pressure of pitching in New York, a change of scenery could be what Hughes needs to put it all together. Career at home: 4.96 ERA and opponents have a .807 OPS. On the road, those numbers dip to 4.10 and .690. Pitching at Target Field should be a very good thing for him.
2) That said, if it was the bright lights of Yankee Stadium that hurt Hughes, he could be one of those pitchers that crumbles in big games. The Twins don't figure to be in a pennant race immediately, but it's something to monitor. It could be the ballpark. It could be something else.
3) The biggest risk with Hughes is durability. He's made at least 29 starts in three of the past four years -- including seasons with 16 and 18 wins -- but he's never topped 191 innings. But he's still young (27) and averages 7.6 strikeouts per nine innings. The price the Twins paid felt neither cheap nor too much.
Your thoughts, please, in the comments.
Todd Jones has more than 300 career saves, two of which he collected in a brief stint with the Twins in 2001 as the Get To Know 'Em crew came up short in their bid to win the division.
But everyone in their right mind knows Todd Jones is not a Hall of Fame caliber pitcher -- even if he did find his way onto the ballot.
Apparently that includes Jones himself. We love these tweets from Jayson Stark, and we'll send you out into the holiday (no posts tomorrow) with them:
Here's his "official Todd Jones release: "The HOF is for greatness...No one w the nickname `Roller Coaster' should ever be considered..."— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) November 27, 2013
Rest of Todd Jones' "official release" says: "The only thing the HOF will let me in for is to use the restroom." My take: Humility is cool!— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) November 27, 2013
We're always looking for context in this day an age, when numbers and information are plentiful. MLB Trade Rumors has a nice breakdown of the recent four-year, $32 million contract the Royals gave lefty Jason Vargas -- who is the very definition of an average, or even slightly below average, starting pitcher based on ERA+.
In some ways, it makes the Twins' contract for Kevin Correia last season -- a similar pitcher, albeit a righty -- seem like a relative bargain. Correia got two years and $10 million total. He was coming off a four-year stretch with a 46-43 record and a regular-old ERA of about 4.5. Vargas is 42-44 over the last four seasons with an ERA right around 4. He's slightly better than Correia, but we're not sure he's two years and $22 million better than Correia.
If you want to look in the other direction -- future, not past -- it could spell trouble when it comes to the Twins and what they are willing to spend in free agency.
Pitchers are available, of course. It's just a matter of how much Minnesota is willing to pay. If there's one thing we know, it's that Terry Ryan certainly likes value. We always trickle back to this passage from La Velle E. Neal's story in September:
Ryan contends that the signing of Josh Willingham to a three-year, $21 million contract before the 2012 season — a record deal for a Twins free agent — is evidence that he will take a plunge into the rich end of the free-agent pool. “I think you are mistaken when you don’t think $21 million is huge,” Ryan said.
If that's the framework -- and again, we're just going by what Ryan said there and conceding that times and people can change -- we really do wonder if the Twins will make a serious play for anyone better than Vargas (AKA anyone better than average) or if they'll continue to look for relative bargains and wait for their own prospects to develop.
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