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The Rays Tank: Money in the AL East, worrying mechanics, and the reason for xFIP

Al Messerschmidt

MLB Trade Rumors has rounded up and summed all the free agent signings this year, and the American League West is leading the pack with $467 million spent. The American League East is second with $399 million spent.

Baseball Prospectus released their top-10 prospect list for the Rays (free!) on Friday (timed quite precisely so that I would miss it until now -- proof of anti-Rays bias in the national media). We'll discuss it more deeply elsewhere, but somewhat surprisingly, Enny Romero claims the top spot.

Kyle Boddy of The Hardball Times analyzes (with video!) the motions of the 2013 first round pitcher picks, including the Rays' (#29) pick Ryne Stanek. He doesn't have very nice things to say about Stanek.

Brian Grosnick of Beyond the Box Score has some fun with Steve Staude's previously linked to correlation toolexamining year-to-year correlations between pitching statistics. Of note, HR/FB does a really horrible job predicting itself. This is why we use xFIP (especially for relievers, I think). This is also why we feel good about Heath Bell.

Jeff Sullivan takes a look at what happens (in future years) to young pitchers when their strikeout rate declines. The article pegs to Yovani Gallardo, but also touches on David Price, who's strikeout rate fell 4.1% in 2013 (although he does note that Price almost entirely stopped throwing balls, so he may not fit in with similar cases).

Chris St. John continues his fascinating series on walk and strikeout rate in the minors relative to age, and how to use them to predict MLB success. In this article he looks at double-A. Unfortunately, the Rays have no top hitting prospects in AA.

The Rangers signed Shin-Soo Choo to a seven year deal worth near $130 million. Jake Dal Porto of Beyond the Box Score analyzes with projections.

There were a few neat articles recently from Patrick Newman's NPB Tracker. First there was a discussion of the differences between pitching in Japan and pitching in America, and why statistical projections between the two don't necessarily work well. He also gives a framework for what players coming from other leagues should expect to make in NPB.

Chris Jaffe at The Hardball Times talks about the 1918-1921 Cleveland Indians, a great team that missed out on being considered a dynasty by a few games. It's a good reminder of just how tough it is to win it all in baseball. It's why we celebrate the process.