Three quick takes on the notable transactions of this week . . .
A six-year contract for $52 million, bringing Boston's total outlay for Daisuke Matsuzaka to $103.1 million, will look smart in the long run, even if the Red Sox don't make an extra dime in Japan. And they'll make plenty of extra dimes, as I've seen an estimate of $3 million per year by sports economist Andrew Zimbalist and a Red Sox source told me that their business guys think they can make $20 million—in 2007 alone.
With Jason Jennings a year away from free agency, I would have held onto Jason Hirsh if I were the Astros. He'll be a better value over the next six seasons than Jennings will. I don't understand why Houston had to give up Willy Taveras and Taylor Buchholz as well, though I'm not a huge fan of either.
The Jose Vidro deal that's supposed to go down today makes even less sense. The Mariners are picking up $12 million of the $16 million remaining on Vidro's contract the next two years, plus giving him a vesting option to waive his no-trade clause. Getting rid of most of their financial obligation to the declining Vidro should have been enough for the Nationals, but they also get Chris Snelling and Emiliano Fruto out of the deal? Snelling (constant injuries) and Fruto (general flakiness) have their drawbacks, but I'd rather have either one of them than Vidro, even before the money gets involved.
There were just two changes on the free-agent compensation landscape in the past week. Miguel Batista (Type B) went from the Diamondbacks to the Mariners, creating a new supplemental first-round choice, while Guillermo Mota (Type B) re-signed with the Mets. Here's how the draft order stands as of now:
|1. Devil Rays|
|16. Blue Jays (Frank Catalanotto, A, to Tex)|
|17. Rangers (Carlos Lee, A, to Hou)|
|20. Dodgers (Julio Lugo, A, to Bos)|
|21. Blue Jays|
|22. Giants (Jason Schmidt, A, to LAD)|
|24. Rangers (Gary Matthews Jr., A, to LAA)|
|25. White Sox|
|29. Giants (Moises Alou, A, to NYM)|
|Supplemental First-Round Picks|
|31. Cubs (Juan Pierre, B, to LAD)|
|32. Nationals (Alfonso Soriano, A, to ChC)|
|33. Diamondbacks (Craig Counsell, B, to Mil)|
|34. Giants (Alou)|
|35. Mariners (Gil Meche, B, to KC)|
|36. Braves (Danys Baez, A, to Bal)|
|37. Reds (Rich Aurilia, A, to SF)|
|38. Rangers (Lee)|
|39. Phillies (David Dellucci, A, to Cle)|
|40. Red Sox (Alex Gonzalez, B, to Cin)|
|41. Blue Jays (Catalanotto)|
|42. Dodgers (Lugo)|
|43. Padres (Dave Roberts, A, to SF)|
|44. Angels (Adam Kennedy, B, to StL)|
|45. Athletics (Frank Thomas, B, to Tor)|
|46. Tigers (Jamie Walker, B, to Bal)|
|47. Mets (Chad Bradford, A, to Bal)|
|48. Nationals (Jose Guillen, B, to Sea)|
|49. Diamondbacks (Miguel Batista, B, to Sea)|
|50. Giants (Schmidt)|
|51. Rangers (Matthews)|
|52. Blue Jays (Justin Speier, A, to LAA)|
|53. Padres (Woody Williams, A, to Hou)|
|54. Mets (Roberto Hernandez, A, to Cle)|
|55. Giants (Mike Stanton, B, to Cin)|
|56. Rangers (Mark DeRosa, B, to ChC)|
|57. Blue Jays (Ted Lilly, B, to ChC)|
|58. Padres (Alan Embree, B, to Oak)|
|59. Diamondbacks (have yet to sign 2006 first-rounder Max Scherzer)|
|62. Nationals (Soriano to ChC)|
|64. Braves (Baez to Bal)|
|69. Reds (Aurilia to SF)|
|72. Mets (Hernandez to Cle)|
|76. Padres (Williams to Hou)|
|83. Blue Jays (Speier to LAA)|
|94. Mets (Bradford to Bal)|
|99. Padres (Roberts to SF)|
|102. Phillies (Dellucci to Cle)|
|Remaining Compensation Free Agents|
|Bos: Keith Foulke (B).|
|Cin: Scott Schoeneweis (B).|
|NYY: Ron Villone (B).|
|Oak: Barry Zito (A).|
|StL: Mark Mulder (B), Jeff Suppan (A).|
|SD: Ryan Klesko (B), Chan Ho Park (B), David Wells (B).|
Now let's get to a quick question before I get dragged back to work on the 2007 Prospect Handbook, which would make a fine holiday gift, if I say so myself.
He'll rank No. 3, behind outfielder Ryan Sweeney and third baseman Josh Fields. Gonzalez rejoined the White Sox after we ran that Top 10 in our magazine but before our Phillies list was unveiled, so you'd have to buy the Handbook to check out his scouting report.
Because it's the holiday season, however, I'll give you an early gift and present the scouting report written by Chris Kline. Gonzalez would have rated No. 2 on our Philadelphia Top 10.
Gio Gonzalez, lhp Born: Sept. 19, 1985. B-T: R-L. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 190. Drafted: HS—Miami, 2004 (1st round supplemental). Signed by: Jose Ortega.
Background: The White Sox signed Gonzalez for $850,000 as the 38th overall pick in the 2004 draft, and he might have gone even earlier had he not left his high school team in a dispute over his brother's playing time. Chicago packaged him with Aaron Rowand and minor league lefty Daniel Haigwood in the Jim Thome trade following the 2005 season, then reacquired him 13 months later. The Phillies sent him back, along with Gavin Floyd, in exchange for Freddy Garcia. Gonzalez spent 2006 in Double-A as a 20-year-old, holding his own despite erratic command at times.
Strengths: Gonzalez has a fundamentally sound delivery that he repeats well, creating effortless 92-95 mph velocity with his fastball. His low-80s hammer curveball always has been his go-to pitch, and he'll use it in any count. He located his changeup better in 2006, and it shows flashes of being a third plus pitch. Though there were questions about his durability, he pitched a career-high 155 innings and added 16 more in the Arizona Fall League.
Weaknesses: Gonzalez will need better command with his fastball and more consistency with his changeup to succeed at higher levels. He fell behind in the count early and often in Double-A, leading to too many homers and walks. He can get top-heavy in his delivery, which causes him to rush his lower half and leave fastballs up in the zone.
The Future: The White Sox were delighted to get Gonzalez back. He has all the makings of a legitimate No. 2 starter, but they have no reason to rush him. He'll likely return to Double-A at the beginning of 2007.