By Matt Spiegel-

The Pitcher, & The Talker, Returns

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Jake Peavy locked himself in to the South Side yesterday, quickly and decisively.

Once the Sox bought out his option year, Peavy could have tested the market and found more money than what he got for returning.

He comes off a season in which he made more than 30 starts for the first time since 2007.  He hadn’t even exceeded 111 innings since 2008.  The free agent starting pitchers list is fairly thin towards the top; another club, especially a National League one, would probably have given him three years and $34-38 million.

But Peavy likes it here, values Don Cooper, trusts Robin Ventura, Kenny Williams, Jerry Reinsdorf and Rick Hahn.

So while guys named Greinke, Anibal, and perhaps even Lohse will get those multi-season deals, Peavy stays put for two years and $29 million.  I bet that deal falls in line more with what someone like Edwin Jackson, or perhaps Ervin Santana, will get.

Peavy, like Paul Konerko, helps out the club by setting up some delayed annuity payments.  Peavy’s $4 million dollar buyout will be paid in $1 million dollar increments between 2016 and 2019.  That’s some relief for a payroll that Hahn told us last week would stay right around the same total it hit this past season.  Konerko deferred $7 million from his last contract in similar fashion.

So the rotation sets up with Chris Sale at the front; we’ll all be eager to measure his velocity come spring after months of rest.  Peavy remains the happy, elite level No. 2.  A theoretically healthy John Danks will be one of the highest paid No. 3 starters in the league.  Gavin Floyd had his $9.5 million dollar option picked up, and won’t be traded; pencil him in as the No. 4.  And if Jose Quintana provides anything close to what he did in 2012, he’s a tremendous No.5.

Gavin drives us nuts, as he often pitches like a man who doesn’t have the confidence in his stuff that everyone else does.  But he’s made at least 29 starts and pitched at least 160 innings in each of the last 5 seasons.  His numbers are pretty average, but there’s great value, at the back end of the rotation, in simply showing up.

It was a good day for Hahn, answering some big questions at decent value.

Now he can focus on catcher and third base.

Youk Is Gone

The Sox are not inclined to bring Kevin Youkilis back.  He had that great burst of energy and goodness, winning several games on his own after the coup of a trade, but faded badly.  After seeing a larger body of work, a man his age, health and production is not worth investing a couple years in.

And, he’s probably fine with that.

Remember these quotes from October 4:

“[In] Boston, you are used to a sold-out crowd every night. That’s just a way of life,” Youkilis said. “It’s very surprising to see with us winning that we were still second fiddle to the Cubs. I thought we had a lot of fun and brought a lot of enjoyment to the fans. There was a great fan base that was there. It seemed like the same people that showed up every night to cheer us on, the diehards.

“That was the one surprising thing for me, of down the stretch still being that second team in Chicago. I think these guys here are a great bunch of players and go about their job professionally and do the right thing. They’ve got a good team.”

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He’ll choose a better fit; for his family, his wallet, and his needs for a frenzied, populated ballpark.

We All Know Gold Gloves Are A Crock

With every season Derek Jeter beat out Alexei Ramirez (and others), this knowledge solidified.  When yesterday Adam Jones was announced as a winner over Mike Trout, you end up sneering and turning your head away.  Hell, go back to the 70’s and note Steve Garvey’s four gold gloves, and then ask a worthy observer who watched him play.  Garvey had miniscule range, a weak arm, and cautiously avoided most of the difficult plays.

And yet there were so many breathlessly tweeting about the Gold Gloves last night, reacting passionately, granting them legitimacy.

The players value them.  They smile broadly when accepting theirs, understandably feeling a decades long kinship with their predecessors. The GG remains the highest public defensive honor, and the standard to be brought up in Hall of Fame conversations today and tomorrow.

But hopefully they won’t be the standard forever.  The Fielding Bible awards are arrived upon through a far better process, and yield a better list.

Here’s the skinny on who won the Fielding Bible Awards this season, and the panel of experts that vote on them.

The Gold Gloves are voted on by managers and coaches alone, and they’re not compared to their counterparts in any real objective way.  They just pick a “winner,” and a small group of finalists are cobbled together and announced.

Fielding Bible panelists vote for a top ten at each position, like MVP voting, and then a consensus is tallied together.

GG’s are far too often awarded with offensive excellence as a pre-requisite for consideration.  Seriously, AJ Pierzynski was a finalist for the AL catcher gold glove, on the strength of his 27 home runs.  AJ improved a bit this year under the tutelage of Mark Parent, but come on.  He struggles mightily to block pitches, still has trouble with the transfer from glove to hand, and threw out fewer than 27% of attempted base stealers.  That was 16th in his league, and 2nd on his team.

There are other examples from yesterday.  Andrew McCutcheon beats out Michael Bourn, on the strength of his triple crown stats.  Sometimes, it’s not offense that seems to decide, but experience and reputation.  Jones is solid in centerfield, but Trout was breathtaking.  Rookie or not, passing up what was probably the best fielder at any position is absurd.

Darwin Barney gets one for second base in the NL; the rare player actually being awarded for his defense alone.  His claim to fame is that amazing errorless streak at a premium position, a feat well-known, publicized, and too gaudy to ignore.

The biggest benefit of last night’s activity is the opportunity to talk about defense.  The metrics available (used only as a portion of the grading by Fielding Bible panelists) should be taken into account, but eyes matter. Scouting,and watching is valued.

Defense is fun and hugely important.  We’re three days removed from the Giants winning a second title in three years partially on the strength of it.  So, the conversational nudge is appreciated, Rawlings, but you’ll have to excuse me as I look to your rival.

The Fielding Bible Awards should be the honor we dissect, and the winners those we applaud.

Barney deservedly won that award too.  He had a tremendous season, and count me among those not actively scouring free agent lists for his replacement.  The Cubs can win with him.


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Listen to Matt Spiegel on 670 The Score weekdays from 9am–1pm CT on The McNeil & Spiegel Show and Sundays from 9am–Noon CT on Hit And Run.