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Thanks to Andrew Edwards for this item at Baseball Prospectus about the top-of-the-line outfield at AA New Haven this past season. Most of what's there will be familiar to regular Bauxites, but writer David Cameron provides a detailed and intriguing breakdown of various stats, concluding that Gabe Gross, rather than Alexis Rios, is the safest bet for major-league success (though he readily admits that all three have terrific upside). It would be good to see someone tackle all the Ravens' stars in 2003, which included at various times these three players as well as Guillermo Quiroz, Russ Adams, David Bush, Dustin McGowan, and Tyrell Godwin. A more talented bunch the Jays' system may never see again on one roster.
Some smart person elsewhere asked what happens if the Red Sox try to assign Manny to the minors if he passes through waivers, and he refuses.
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We're starting a new feature on Batter's Box today, called "Ask Craig About the CBA". Essentially, I will take any and all questions you have about the CBA, the Uniform Player Contract, or the MLB Rules (not the Official Rules of Baseball, but how waivers work and so forth), and I will do my level best to answer them. Anything transaction-related or the like is welcome as well. I can't always answer these - the MLB Rules, for example, are secret and I can only work from public sources - but I'm always willing to give them a shot.

E-mail me at with your questions. I will answer about one a week, more if I get lots or if anything is time-sensitive.
Congratulations to Carlos Delgado for winning his third Silver Slugger award as the AL's best hitter at first base, and to Vernon Wells for the first of many as an outfielder. The voting is done by major-league managers and coaches, though they can't vote for their own players. In the Toronto Star this morning, Allan Ryan also reports that Roy Halladay was the best player in baseball in 2003, according to the Elias Sports Bureau rankings.

Elias' complicated formulas gave Halladay a 98.476 rating on a scale of 100. Boston outfielder Manny Ramirez was second at 98.293, down from last year, when he became just the fifth player with a perfect 100. Los Angeles reliever Eric Gagne, a Montreal native, was third at 97.347.

The ESB rankings are used to determine free agent compensation, and as I expected, Kelvim Escobar is a Type A player, because he was ranked as a reliever. Harder to believe, until you remember it's a two-year ranking, is that Cory Lidle is also Type A, meaning he was in the top 30% of free agent pitchers. The Jays can be sure of two draft picks now by making a qualifying offer to Escobar, but it would be foolish to go to arbitration with Lidle and pay him another $5 million, so he'll almost certainly be non-tendered.
Manny Ramirez has been placed on irrevocable waivers. Any team with a spare $20 million in payroll for the next five years can get their very own superstar, free. From the story by Michael Silverman in the Boston Herald:

The Red Sox grew fed up with Ramirez' defense and his man-child moments of inattention and immaturity this season, and the team clearly is positioning itself for greater payroll flexibility this winter, as it faces several critical decisions on players signed through next season only.

This is a risky move by Epstein and company. If Ramirez isn't claimed by tomorrow at midnight, they have further alienated a guy who is already a head case. If he is, they can sign a free agent hitter at 5-10% of the cost and spend the rest of the money on guys like Colon or Millwood. It's entirely possible that this is a ploy by the Sox to get Manny into pinstripes and get the Yankees out of the Guerrero sweepstakes. Who else can afford him?
Here's a list of the players potentially eligible for major league free agency. I will update this list throughout the offseason when I get the chance; once various deadlines pass, the information will be updated.

Feel free to use this thread to discuss anything free-agent related!
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The end-of-season minor-league wrap-ups continue, and today's contestant (thanks to Jonny German!) is an interesting site called On Deck Baseball Prospects. The site rates organizations from top to bottom, which is very unusual: most places don't pay attention to any teams below High-A (here are the league rankings), let alone go into the depths of each organization (I mean, that's more than 200 individual clubs to keep track of). The site also has the right idea about contextualizing the results: players receive bonuses or demerits if they're young or old for the league, account is taken for leagues that are more power-friendly than others, strikeouts for hitters are not punished, and extra points are awarded if the player is close to the majors. All sensible approaches to incorporate into a minor-league review.
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A friend at work asked me yesterday if any manager had been fired after a season as successful as the one Grady Little just enjoyed. The answer, of course, is yes. But what has happened, historically, after playoff teams have gone in a different managerial direction?

It hasn't always been a cure-all. Since 1901, twenty-two teams have started a season with a new manager, fresh off a playoff berth (Boston will be the 23rd). Of the 22, thirteen missed the playoffs the next season and nine returned. Since the advent of the Wild Card, four of the seven have missed the playoffs.

But three managers have stepped in and immediately led an inherited playoff team to a championship: Ralph Houk (NYY '61), Alvin Dark (Oak '74) and of course, Joe Torre (NYY '96).

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A little CanCon over at Baseball America today. First of all, the newest off-season Prospect Hot Sheet positions Syracuse and Team USA outfielder Gabe Gross at #6, with this commentary:

In case you missed him, Gabe Gross is back; he ripped 39 doubles and drew 83 walks between Double-A New Haven and Triple-A Syracuse this season, then added a .343 average and .686 slugging during Team USA play in the AFL.

The PHS isn't so much a ranking of actual prospect status as it is a "Who's Hot, Who's Not" list of minor leaguers. That list would not include Russ Adams right now, who struggled with a .179/.289/.256 line for the Javelinas of the AFL. Mind you, this is in 39 at-bats, which is as useful a sample size as the Sheila Copps Leadership Committee.

Also at BA, the Montreal (for now) Expos' top ten prospects receive the Post-Season Wrap-Up treatment. We're going to be adding more Expos content in the near future, so this is a nice introduction to their system.
Today's BBLVPA awards are the Rookie Hype of the Year awards, intended to go to the rookie in each league whose performance is the most disappointing compared to his pre-season or in-season hype.
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He couldn't stay away...

Frank Catalanotto has re-signed with the Blue Jays, a one-year contract worth $2.3 million. This is according to The Globe & Mail. Thanks to Steve Z for the tip!
OK, so you believe you know exactly what move(s) every GM in baseball should make in order to be next year's version of the '03 Marlins or '02 Angels.

Now's your chance to prove it with Da Box's One Move Challenge. Read on, make a move, mock the moves of others ... play along.

A former Jay in Beantown? A Hall of Famer headed to Wrigley? A salary dump DeepInTheHearta? You betcha. It's all in the magic of the Hot Stove's ONE MOVE.
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Continuing the BBLVPAs after an unfortunate delay, today we are proud to bring you the Allan Travers Awards. As we said in the opener, if you don't know why these awards (the BBLVPA version of the Cy Young Awards), a glance at the entries for Al Travers on Baseball-Reference or the Baseball Library should clue you in.
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Thanks to R Billie for alerting us in another thread. Kelvim Escobar is among 35 players who wasted no time filing for free agency. This doesn't mean he's gone -- yet -- because he can still negotiate with the Jays, along with every other club. But it suggests that the "fair" offer J.P. currently has on the table isn't going to be enough to keep Escobar in Toronto.

Teams must offer salary arbitration by December 7, or they lose the right to negotiate with their former player until May 1. Players must respond by December 19. If they accept, the arbitration process is binding. If they decline, there's a window (until January 8) during which they can still work something out with their current club. From, here's the complete list of 230 players eligible to file over the next two weeks.
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The good folks at Rotohelp are running a series of post-2003 prospect reports on the major- and minor-league fortunes of each ballclub. Yesterday's edition concerned the Blue Jays, but it was rather disappointingly brief and, if I may say so, shallow: not much insight into the players closest to the majors and nothing at all on the prospects in the lower minors. Rotohelp spends more time on some franchises than on others, and it looks like the Blue Jays lost out this year. But I pass it on for your reading interest anyway. This is the first of what should be a number of such organizational overviews that will issue forth this off-season: the ones from Baseball America and ESPN will be the best of them until BP 2004 arrives and the Baseball Primates produce their excellent pre-season analyses.