Longtime readers of this site may remember a series I used to do called the "Transaction Report" (example). I did it several times over the summer, recapping moves that the team made and then commenting on them, all in one piece. Well, after a long hiatus, I have decided to bring this concept back, with a little tweaking.
First of all, this will now strictly be an opinion piece. I realize that trying to judge in a poorly formatted piece which statements are written to inform and which are my opinion is tough, and it generally does not make for good writing. Also, the presence of R.J. on the staff has meant that the number of stories I "break" on this site will be minimal. And thus, when he writes a piece concerning a news item it makes no sense for me to repeat the informative remarks. The creation of this piece, unique to me, gives me my own regular forum to sound off on transactions, in a writing style that will often differ depending on the move, and allows me to easily track down my opinion on a move in the archives. With all of that out of the way, I greet you with my opening piece, chronicling my opinion about the Rays' most recent bundle of transactions today. A subsequent one either tomorrow afternoon or later this evening will focus on the Rays' other move of the week, the signing of Carlos Pena to a minor league contract.
Transaction Report 1/22/07
The Move-The Devil Rays signed free agent RP Scott Dohmann to a major league contract, terms were not disclosed.
My (Not So) Humble Opinion:
My opinion on this matter is not any hidden secret, as I made my thoughts on the matter very well known in this piece earlier this month, railing against the possibility of signing Dohmann. I was even skeptical about the possibility of signing Dohmann to a minor league contract, much less a major league one.
Needless to say, my opinion on the matter has changed absolutely not at all, and several further factors have contributed to my disliking of it even further. While the salary Dohmann agreed to, $420,000, is certainly not unreasonable, it really isn't the focus of my criticism. The focus of my criticism is the fact that we are giving a player with as dubious a track record as Dohmann a major league contract. This, to me, seems to imply that the team is weighing making him part of the major league bullpen.
Sure, you can point to his high strikeout rates as evidence of potential and good stuff, as he has a 9.19 career K/9 may attest. However you can also point to a 9.55 career H/9, which may indicate that he is merely laying too many hittable pitches out over the plate, getting hit hard, and lucking out with the few batters who do strike out looking or otherwise. This isn't quite being supplemented too well, as he has similarly horrible home run and walk rates to boot.
I just don't understand how this could warrant a major league contract. In lieu of Dohmann, wouldn't why not add Andy Sonnanstine to the 40 man roster? He will be in Triple A this season, will get the call eventually anyway this season, and you will have to add him later, so why not do it now?
The fact is, Dohmann is simply not deserving of a major league contract, it is just that simple. His performance the past two years has been horrible, and Andrew Friedman's comment that he "wants to see if Jim Hickey can harness his potential" would seem to indicate that he will be working with the major league staff. In no way, shape, or form will you ever convince me that Scott Dohmann deserves a major league roster spot over any of the following possible members of our bullpen:
Dan Miceli (EVEN DAN MICELI!!!!!)
It can be argued that Scott Dohmann deserves a chance to compete in spring training, and that would be correct. However the fact that he is deserving of the ability to compete does not lend itself to contractual status as a member of the 40 man roster. Based on merit, he has to start below all of those named above, which would include 10 people. He is not on equal par with those named, all members of the 40 man roster. I don't know enough about Dohmann to judge whether his stuff or pure luck contributed to his high strikeout rates, but they do merit us taking a chance on him. But a guaranteed major league contract is far more than the "chance" that would be appropriate.
This is no different from the signings last offseason of similarly older, veteran, journeymen relievers with mediocre track records, and is in many cases worse considering that those relievers had better statistical track records. The fact that the Rays were unable to complete deals with Octavio Dotel and David Riske considering their reasonable deals with Kansas City disappointed me a little, but very little. I got over it, that was fine. In some facets, I respected the fact that the organization seemed to be devoting most of its attention to the pitchers on staff. However signing yet another Dead End Veteran® is a complete reversal of my theory on what they were doing, I thought we had moved past this point. We are not obligated to create room for a veteran in our bullpen every year. If that veteran is mediocre (or in Dohmann's case, worse), he brings nothing to the table in terms of "experience for the young pitchers to rub off on".
The major league contract afforded to Scott Dohmann disappoints me. While there was not a pressing concern to move another member of the minor league prospect base onto the 40 man, that spot should not have been filled with Scott Dohmann. Do I view him as expendable and could he be dropped without prejudice later this spring? Absolutely, but Dohmann at best is a long term project, and even if this is a temporary roster-filler, such projects don't really seem that important if you are just going to expose that person to waivers at some later point. Why skip over a minor league deal? I can't imagine the competition for Dohmann was fierce, I very much imagine he would have signed one. It just seems very unnecessary to pass over a prospect with a much better chance at permanency on the 40 man roster for a pitcher with a dubious track record in Dohmann.
Now, Dohmann of course is not a shoo-in to make the final roster, I realize that, and for our sake I hope he doesn't. I look forward to learning more about him, and seeing if our organization can harness the potential in him that was mentioned by Friedman. But I'm not holding my breath.
Is this deal harmful to the team? Not at the moment, and don't get me wrong, I am not arguing against this because I think that this makes Dohmann a shoo-in for the final roster. I am well aware it does not, but the mere possibility of it and the easy way in which he could waltz on through his roster status does concern me a little. Spring statistics are worth about as much as Confederate money (see Waechter, Doug and Kazmir, Scott; 2006), and it will concern me greatly if Scott Dohmann ends up sitting under the Adidas bullpen tent at Yankee Stadium come April 2nd.
Transaction Recap 1/22/07
The Move-The Devil Rays re-signed RP Shinji Mori to a minor league contract less than a week after he was released and dropped from the 40 man roster.
This move, on the other hand, was sound. The presence of Shinji Mori on the 40 man roster was no longer necessary (though I wish a better replacement had been picked), considering the prolonged state of his recovery after blowing out his shoulder last May. While the chances of Mori ever becoming fully healthy and an effective major league pitcher at this point are slim to nil, it doesn't hurt to keep him on staff just in case. He had a 3.39 career ERA in Japan, so he has the track record to succeed if he ever gets healthy again. Further, what really is there to lose with this deal? For all the money and trouble associated with helping a Japanese player assimilate in the United States, the Rays might as well maintain a small chance that he may pitch well for them.