Monday, March 31, 2008

Opening Day (The Late Game)

Jake Peavy started out slowly in the first, but is really dealing in the second. His fastball is up into the low 90's from the 88-90 it was.

Roy Oswalt had a good first inning, ending it with a K on a good curveball.

I don't understand why Brad Ausmus is starting - he's the inferior option compared to JR Towles.

The Padres outfield looks pretty bad. They may put up OK numbers on offense, but I don't know how they are going to cover the expansive outfield at Petco Park.

Jake Peavy helping his own cause with a sac fly. 1-0 Padres. Then he goes out and continues to pitch well. He ends the inning by freezing Lance Berkman with a pitch right on the outside corner.

Oswalt is pretty much matching Peavy pitch for pitch. Another great pitcher's duel. That low 90's fastball / 70 mph curveball combo is pretty sick.

Tejada put a good swing on a high fastball and doubled to the opposite field, but Peavy comes back to get Mark Loretta with another high fastball at 94.

And again, Jake Peavy puts a run on the board - this time with an RBI single. He had 7 RBI in 2007, and has 2 already in 2008. That makes it 2-0 Friars.

Oswalt has been good, but Peavy has just been better. He has all of his pitchers working pretty well.

A line drive single to center by Adrian Gonzalez plates another run. The way Peavy is cruising, a 3-0 lead may hold up.

I wish I could stay up through the end of this one, but I just can't make it. I also wish I had seen that Pirates-Braves game. It looked like a good one. It looks like it'll be another exciting baseball season.
Read more ...

Opening Day ("Extra, Extra Innings" - Hey, It's Joe)

YES! Joe Morgan is commentating the Angels-Twins game. This is gonna be fun.
"Carlos Gomez taking over for the great Torii Hunter here in Montreal." - Joe is in mid-season form, and the game hasn't even started yet.

Carlos Gomez shouldn't be in the majors, let alone hitting lead-off. Even with the double he ripped down the line I still stand by what I said. Joe Mauer lines the ball into right-center for an RBI single.

[Erik Bedard gives up a first inning run on a solo shot by Texas' Michael Young.]

I will say that Joe Morgan does give some interesting commentary. The problem is the number of things he says that are wrong or don't make any sense.

Mike Lamb with an RBI single to center; 2-0 Twins in the 4th.

Jon Miller: "With the clutch RBI" - how is a RBI single with one out and a runner on second in the fourth inning clutch? That isn't even consistent with their own notions of "clutch".

The Angels get on the board when a double-play scores a run. And Chone Figgins with a "clutch" RBI to drive in a runner from third with two outs.

Though his bat isn't ready, Carlos Gomez does have a lot of range in center field.

Cuddyer singles through a drawn in infield to score Gomez. 3-1 Twins.

Apparently, Delmon Young (and his .316 OBP) was "clutch" last year. That's at least three mentions of clutch hitting in 5 innings.

[Seattle has taken a 2-1 lead, but Bedard has been taken out of the game. 5 IP 3 hits, including a solo home run, 4 walks and 5 K's - not bad at all, but the low innings and high walks isn't a great sign. Last year Bedard had a complete-game 15 K shutout against the Rangers.]

Brendan Harris gets a double on a "Bermuda Triangle" bloop.

Pat Neshek looks good holding the 3-2 lead in the eighth. Then Joe Nathan comes in to shut the door in the ninth and the Twins get their first win of '08.

Not a bad job by Jon and Joe (relative to their usual standards).
Read more ...

Opening Day ("Extra Innings")

This Cubs-Brewers game is still scoreless into the eighth. Apparently, Big Z had a forearm cramp. I hope, for the Cub's sake, that he's OK.

Watching the Giants makes me feel better about the O's. As bad as Luis Hernandez is, it's nice to see that San Fransisco's staring shortstop was in single A last year.

The Nationals are putting up some runs against the Phillies. With four runs in the top of the ninth they now have a 11-6 lead. They go on to win by that score. The Nats are 2-0.

The ChiSox have come back to tie the Indians at seven. The Indians though, behind a a bases loaded double by Casey Blake go on to win 10-8 and tie KC for the Central lead.

Back to the Cuns - Ryan Theriot batting lead-off is still silly. Wow - Fukudome is two-for-two, while the rest of the team is 0-23 through the eighth. With Weeks on second and one out, the Cubs decide to intentionally walk Prince Fielder to get to Ryan Braun. And it comes back to bite them (as it often does) as Braunie singles to center to score Weeks. It's 1-0 Brewers. Corey Hart adds a two-run double, and goes to third on the throw home. It looks like the Brew Crew is going to take a lead in their race with the Cubs. [The Central is pretty much between those two teams.]
Unless, of course, Eric Gagne implodes. The first two runners have reached base. Wow. Kosuke Fukudome is having no trouble with American pitching as he hits a game tying three-run home run. He's three-for-three with a walk, and a triple away from the cycle. Felix Pie shows some power as he rockets one deep but foul, but Gagne gets out of the inning. It's time for extra frames again. Craig Counsel pinch-hits and doubles to lead off the 10th inning. Jason Kendall will probably bunt, and does. Runner on third with one down for Rickie Weeks. It'll be Gwynn coming up as Weeks gets hit with the pitch. A sac fly to center gives the Brewers a 4-3 lead. A single be Fielder sends Weeks to third. The Wrigley wind keeps Soto from catching a Ryan Braun pop-up. Ryan pops out to right instead. It'll be the top of the Cubs line-up in the bottom of the 10th. What a great game - a pitching duel early and some offense in tight spots late. And the Brewers do indeed hold on to win the first game of the season. Go Brew Crew!

The Giants are down 5-0 and actually get a baserunner. He is promptly picked off. James Loney steals second in the bottom of the eighth. The commentator said "Is 5 enough?" and to that I say "YES!!!". One is enough. The Giants offense looks really, really bad. It might as well be a 20-0 game, and if a guy stole a base in that situation he would be criticized by the media for being unsporting. I guess refusing to not steal with a five run lead because you think it's unsporting is itself unsporting. And the Giants go down in sad fashion, getting shut out on opening day.
Read more ...

Opening Day (Inning Nine)

Top of the ninth:
[It looks like Carlos Zambrano hurt his hand, and is leaving the game. That's a shame for the Cubs, as it looks like runs will be at a premium.]

*Brian Burres comes in for Matt Albers. Burres shows good movement on his curveball but falls behind 3-1 on Nathan Hayes (hitting for Navarro) who lines a double down the third-base line
*Bartlett grounds back to Burres, who looks back the runner before firing to first.
*Iwamura flies out to Scott in left.
*Crawford is first pitch swinging and grounds to Roberts.

Bottom of the Ninth:
[A one-out single by Fukudome results in Sheets being taken out of the game. This one will be decided by the bullpens, which gives the edge to the Cubs.

*KAKES! Slices the first pitch to left, but Crawford is on his horse and makes the catch.
*Millar also swings at the first pitch and pops out to first. It's like they just want the game to end.
*Aubrey Huff actually takes a ball before fouling a couple pitches off. Huff lines one down the line - Pena makes a great diving stop but Dan Wheeler can't hold on to the throw and Huff is on.
*Ramon Hernandez is up and trying to keep the Oriole Magic alive. I'm predicting a strike-out on a ball in the dirt or a groundout to short. I was wrong - it's a fly-out to left to end the game. The O's lose, 6-2. Eh. The Rays are the better team. Read more ...

Opening Day (Inning Eight)

Top of the Eighth:
*Another grounder to Millar. Nice job by Albers coming in in relief of Guthrie.
*And another easy grounder - this time to short. Two out.
*Called strike three to end the inning. I'm liking this Albers kid.

[Pujols...yard work. 5-1 Cardinals over the Rockies.]

Bottom of the Eighth:
*James Shields is done for the day, but not before really settling down after the first inning and keeping the O's bats quiet. He is a real quality starter. Jay Payton comes in to pinch-hit for Luis Hernandez and pops out to second. Hey, it's further than the ball Hernandez put in play.

[Sheets is still rolling in Chicago. Going to the top of the seventh there, still 0-0.]

*Roberts is on base for the fourth time today with an opposite field single. Just don't get caught trying to steal again. Time for a pitching change by the Rays.

[Braun pops one up a mile high and Zambrano actually makes the play himself.]

*One-for-one on Orioles Trivia with the correct answer of Paul Blair as the last Oriole outfielder to win a Gold Glove. Al Reyes in to face Melvin Mora, and falls behind 2-0. Mora works a full count. Ahhh! Roberts runs as Mora takes a called third strike. Then, inexplicably, Mora steps in front of the catcher and so Roberts is called out on interference, even though he had the bag easily. Even when the O's avoid grounding into a double play, they still manage to shoot themselves in the foot. End of inning, with Markakis standing in the on-deck circle. Read more ...

Opening Day (Inning Seven)

Top of the Seventh:
*Carl Crawford golfs on into medium center field - Jones is there for the out.
*Pena hits a sharp grounder to first - Millar falls and gets it, and tosses to Albers for the out.
*A sharp curveball fouled off by Upton. He hits a slow roller in front of the catcher, who throws to first for the out.

[The Cubs-Brewers remains a pitcher's duel through five. Both teams have no runs and one hit.]

Bottom of the Seventh:
*Ramon lines the first pitch to the right fielder.
*Luke Scott gets jammed a little bit and pops out to third.
*Jones puts a good swing on the ball and hits a liner to deep right-center, but it's caught to end the inning.

[Tony Gwynn Jr. bloops a single to left, with Prince Fielder coming up. I thought that Zambrano threw harder - he's been 88-91. Fielder hits a monster shot foul. Fielder then gets jammed and grounds out. I'm excited to see Braunie next inning.] Read more ...

Opening Day (Inning Six)

Top of the Sixth:
*A mighty swing, and a miss, by Cliff Floyd. He follows it up with a line-drive double to right.
*Aybar grounds to second to advance Floyd to third with one out.

[Cubs-Brewers is back on. I'm happy to see it, but this is some baseball overload.]

*Guthrie falls behind Hinske 3-0, and ends up walking him on a pitch way inside.
*Navarro, at least, is a double play candidate. This is probably Guthrie's last inning, with Matt Albers warming up in the pen. Damn it Hernandez. He couldn't handle the grounder (though it was a tough play) resulting in another run.

[Going to the bottom of the 11th in Detroit with KC up 5-4. It's Soria time.]

*And Bartlett singles to left - 6-2 Rays. And that's it for Guthrie. Albers will come in to try to save the bullpen in what I'm expecting to be the first of 90 or so losses on the season.
*Albers starts out his O's career with a strike. And another. If he can keep up this pace, he may go to the Hall of Fame. Iwamura grounds to Mora at third, who throws to B-Rob at second for the force. They couldn't turn two, though.
*Nice hook to Carl Crawford for a swinging strike two. Wow - an attempted double steal doesn't work. Hernandez (Ramon) throws to Hernandez (Luis) at second - not in time to get the runner - but Luis guns down the guy trying to make it home to end the inning.

Bottome of the Sixth:
[The Giants are down 0-1 in the bottom of the first - this may be an insurmountable lead. Zito is throwing some really slow pitches.]

*KAKES! Takes a ball, low. And a second. He has a good eye - I wonder why he doesn't walk more. Just as I say that Nick walks on four pitches.
*Millar is first-pitch swinging and flies to short center field.
*Huff launches his own shot, but just foul. Then he grounds to the pitcher for a double-play. Yaye O's offense!

[Jeff Kent with a two-run shot. It's 3-0 Dodgers, and the Giant's offense is in a big hole.]
[Congratulations to Kansas City on their first victory of the season. They now lead the AL Central.] Read more ...

Opening Day (Inning Five)

Top of the Fifth:
*Carl Crawford grounds out to first. Guthrie is settling back down.
*Pena line softly to Roberts.

[Lastings Milledge gets hit on the elbow to load the bases for the Nationals against the Phillies for Ryan Zimmerman.]

*Nice fastball on the outside corner to strike out BJ Upton. If Guthrie can hold the Rays down for a couple more innings, it'll give the O's bats a chance to get them back into the games.

Bottom of the Fifth:
[Zimmerman flies out to right to put the Nats on the baord. 2-1 Phillies.]

*Luis Hernandez grounds weakly to his defensive counterpart.
*Roberts has been on base both times, and gets ahead in the count 3-0. On 3-1, Roberts takes a close pitch for ball four. Both O's walks are by B-Rob.
*Roberts takes off again, but Mora fouls the ball off. Roberts runs again, and Mora fouls it off a second time. Another impressive looking drive falls short (and into the glove of LF Crawford).

[Austin Kearns with a two-run hit.]
[And Mark Teahan gets thrown out at home in the top of the 11th in Detroit. Good at-bat by Tony Pena - he's battling Denny Bautista well, and then singles to center to drive in the go-ahead run. 5-4 KC.]

*KAKES! Doesn't get to hit as Roberts is thrown out trying to steal second. Read more ...

Opening Day (Inning Four)

Top of the Fourth:
[The KC-Detroit game is going into extra innings - hard to ask for more on Opening Day.]

*Forget what I said about the ball not carrying - Hinske launches one into the right field seats. Markakis doesn't even make an effort. 4-2 Rays.
*Navarro grounds out to Brian Roberts for the first out.
*Guthrie is not looking good - everything is either in the middle of the plate or a ball. Diving catch by Luis Hernandez - he gets a reprieve from me making fun of him for two innings.
*A strike-out of Iwamura ends the inning.

[Nice play an a slow roller by Arizona third-sacker Mark Reynolds. Brandon Webb's sinker should be illegal. Nothing going 93 mph should move that much.]

Bottom of the Third:
*Shields using that good change against Huff, but he ends up lining a single to center. He didn't get boo'ed that much this time.
*I called a double play grounder by Ramon to short, but it actually went to third. That erases Huff.

[99 mph fastball on the outside corner by Detroit reliever (and former Oriole) Denny Bautista to wring up Jose Guillen.]

*Luke Scott works the count full and single through the right side.

[Jim Thome homers for a second time in Cleveland. 7-4 Indians. Thome has been all of the Sox offense.]

*Adam Jones strikes out on three pitches, chasing a low pitch for the K. Read more ...

Opening Day (Inning Three)

Top of the Third:
*Guthrie starts out by giving up a single to right by Dionar Navarro.
*And follows it up by hitting Jason Bartlett. Runners on first and second.
*Awesome! Iwamura bloops one over Roberts, but Markakis is able to throw to second to force Bartlett. Runners on the corners with one out, but it could have been worse.
*And the Rays have their first run as Melvin Mora can't handle the slow roller by Crawford.
*The offense continues as Carlos Pena singles to right field to load the bases.
*Now the Rays are up 3-2 as Upton gets ahead in the count 2-0 and singles past a diving Luis Hernandez.
*Floyd flies out to to Jones in center - two out.

[I was told to mention that I am in fact watching these games on two televisions.]

*Luke Scott catches the low liner to end the inning. It was a rough one for Guthrie - no one hit the ball that hard, but he was unlucky and they fell in.

[Arizona is up 3-0 on Cincinnati - apparently on a pair of home runs.]

Bottom of the Third:
*B-Rob hits a single to center to lead-off the inning.
*Mora pops out to center - one down.
*KAKES! Good eye - takes a pitch outside for ball one. 3-0 count. Gets a pitch in the middle of the plate and hits a fly ball to center . It looks like the ball isn't carrying well today.
*Millar flies out to end the frame.

[7-2 Indians ahead of the Pale Hose, but it sounds like Victor Martinez may be hurt.] Read more ...

Opening Day (Inning Two)

Top of the Second:
[Sheets seems to pitch around Geovany Soto to get to Felix Pie with Fukudome on third and two out. It works as Pie strikes out.]

*Guthrie gets ahead of Cliff Floyd 0-2. Floyd then hits a slow grounder to Millar at first. One out.
*A bloop hit by Willy Aybar, but Guthrie still looks good.
*And Guthrie has another easy inning as he gets Eric Hinske to ground to Millar for a 3-6-1 double-play.

Bottom of the Second:
*Luke Scott makes his Orioles debut, and grounds out to first base.

[Brett Tomko looking good out of the bullpen for KC in holding their 4-3 lead. Until Carlos Guillen makes the game four-all with a solo shot.]

*Adam Jones follows suit with a grounder to short. Two out, and Luis Hernandez coming up.
*Hernandez looks awful in striking out.

[Looks like the Cubs-Brewers game is going to another rain delay.] Read more ...

Opening Day (Inning One)

I'll be live blogging the O's-Rays game (with commentary about other games). Here we go.

Top of the First Inning:
[The Milwaukee Brewers line-up is shown, and pitcher Ben Sheets is indeed hitting 8th. I hope they stick with it all year. It may only mean 5-10 runs, but then one win may mean the difference between a play-off birth and a trip home.]

[Come on Royals. It looked like Justin Verlander was rolling - his change-up looked very good - and that 3 runs would be more than enough, but KC has made a nice comeback.]

And the O's game starts.
*One out. Good fastball by Guthrie on the outside corner to get a slow roller back to the mound.
*Crawford lines the pitch into center field - he may look to run.
*Quality change-up to Pena - got him a little out in front. Man, that was scary. But Jones is there at the wall and makes the catch. Two outs.
*Line drive by Upton, but right to Markakis.
*Good first inning for Guthrie: gives up a single but gets quick outs.

[KC does indeed tie the game at 3 on a single by John Buck off of Jason Grilli. And then takes the lead. Go KC!]

Bottom of the first:
*Roberts works Shields for a lead-off walk. Great job by B-Rob to take some close pitches.
*Mora up next. Shields starts him off with a couple of balls. Ball three. Kakes with a first inning three-run home run? Roberts is hopping around at first base and the announcers are making a much bigger deal of it than it should be. Mora flies out to left.
*KAKES! Bloop single for Markakis - a little anti-climactic, but I'll take it. Two on with one out for Millar.
*Double steal! Great job by both runners. Maybe Nick will steal 20. Wow, and Millar drives one deep to left that goes off of Crawford's glove. Two run double for Millar, and the O's take a 2-0 lead.
*And Aubrey Huff strides to the plate to a chorus of boo's. Bad swing by Huff an a good change-up away.

[Kosuke Fukudome has his first hit in MLB.]

Huff flies out, to more boo's.
*The O's are really making Shields work in this inning. Ramon flies out to left to end the inning. Read more ...

Sunday, March 30, 2008

PTO% = Dominance (Or Ease of Outs)

SaberScouting is an interesting new site that I've found that mixes the statistical analysis of sabermetrics with a keen scouting eye. One of the interesting concepts developed there was for Pitches Towards Outs, or PTO%. This statistic looked at the percentage of pitches that directly contributes toward an out - be it a pitch that was grounded to short or the three pitches that resulted in a strike-out. By looking at PTO%, one can get an idea of how efficient a pitcher is or, as Frankie Piliere suggested, it can be seen as a measure of dominance. The two post on it are here and here.

I decided to use the formula - PTO%=(((IP*3)-SO)+(SO*3))/Pitches - on the Orioles starters. I didn't see the pitch totals for the minor leagues, so I went with what I could find.

Daniel Cabrera (2007) - 26.5%; this would rank him between Gil Meche (#28) and Dontrelle Willis (#29) amongst the 30 #1 starters (each team's ace) from 2007)
Jeremy Guthrie (2007) - 28.8%; between Justin Verlander (#18) and Roy Halliday (#19)
Adam Loewen (2006 & 2007) - 26.0%; between Dontrelle Willis and Kevin Millwood (#30)
Steve Trachsel (2007, O's and Cubs) - 22.3%; way below any ace.
Brian Burres (2007) - 25.2%; a bit below Millwood (25.6%)
Matt Albers (2007, Astros) - 24.9%
Garrett Olson (32 IP) - 23.6%
Hayden Penn (2006, 19 IP) - 17.8%
Radhames Liz (24 IP) - 22.3%

For comparison's sake;
Seattle's Miguel Batista (2007) - 25.9%; below the "worse" O's starters Cabrera, Loewen, and Guthrie.
Jarrod Washburn (2007) - 24.9%; tied with fifth-starter loser and current long-man Matt Albers.
Carlos Silva (2007) - 25.6%; tied with Kevin Millwood and below the O's "big three" (hey Guthrie at 6'1" is easily the shortest - that's pretty big to me).
KC's Brian Bannister (2007) - 24.9%; come on Brian, you can do it!
Nationals #1 starter Odalis Perez (2007) - 23.1%; and people are complaining about the O's rotation.
A's #1 starter Joe Blanton (2007) - 27.9%; between Jeff Francis (#23) and Brad Penny (#24)
White Sox #1 Mark Buehrle (2007) - 26.8%; about in line with his complete opposite as a starter, Daniel Cabrera.
Cardinals #2 starter for this year Kyle Lohse (2007) - 26.9%; also near Cabrera

It seems that the O's have a chance to have a mildly dominating top of the rotation in 2008. Read more ...

Gone, Gibby, Gone

Jay Gibbons has been released by the O's. The team is responsible for paying the amount remaining on his contract, but it was still a good move. The contract was bad to begin with; it was based largely on his 100 RBI in 2003 when he was the team's clean-up hitter. At this point, Gibbons had no position - the O's have players for LF, RF, 1B, and DH - and so if his bat couldn't carry him (likely, no, it couldn't) then it didn't make sense to waste a roster spot. I think it was the correct call, but I am kind of surprised that it was made. I guess MacPhail does have control of the team.

This decision was made easier by the quality play by Scott Moore. Though he won't hit for a high average, but be should still be an asset at the plate (projected 258 / 337 / 451) when you take into account his position flexibility. If Moore can become competent at second base, then four players (Moore, Fahey, Redman/Payton, Quiroz) can cover all of the positions as back-ups. I don't think it's 100% necessary to keep a 12-man bullpen, and if the rotation can prove that it can go 6-7 innings semi-consistently, then I can see an arm getting traded without another pitcher taking his place. The position players aren't that great overall, but there is a good deal of flexibility. Trembley can get an extra lefty into the line-up by playing Moore at third for Melvin Mora or first for Kevin Millar. Aubrey Huff can go to first or third without too large of a defensive drop-off. Both Moore and Fahey should be OK at second if Roberts needs a day off. In fact, if Roberts is eventually traded without a second basemen coming back in the deal, then it might be a good idea to see if Moore can handle second all the time. When the Atlanta Braves needed a second baseman, they brought Kelly Johnson in from the outfield, which has worked out very well. Moore isn't the stereotypical slick-fielding no-hit 2B, but his bat would definitely be a plus their and his defense - with plenty of practice - should be manageable (he used to play shortstop). Read more ...

Fan Fest '08

The Orioles annual Fan Fest was held on Saturday at Camden Yards, and it was a great experience - even though it didn't do anything to increase my hopes for the season. Andy MacPhail and Dave Trembley gave a State of the Orioles Address, which is described well by Paul Folkemer of Orioles Hangout. It was often a "political" type talk with questions only being half-answered and the truth (the team is gonna finish in last place almost surely) being obscured with jokes and cliches. This was mostly by Trembley, but it's not like I would expect him to come out and say "Yeah, we're not going to be very good." MacPhail said a lot of the right things about international scouting and player development, and overall I think it went OK - that it looked like many of the questions were scripted not withstanding.

The various question/answer sections held by the coaches seen on the new HD display (it did look better I guess) was a little more ridiculous. Hitting coach Terry Crowley talked about how the offense would be good because of it's good batting average (betraying a lack of understanding of what actually results in scoring runs), but this part was easily ignored.

The autograph session started at 11:00, and we had already been waiting in the Nick Markakis (and Jay Payton, Eider Torres, and Greg Aquino) line for an hour and a half. Skipping over Payton (I did pick up the "bad" player's signed cards that they had, but I didn't keep them) I handed Markakis my copy of the Baseball Prospectus 2008 Annual and asked him to sign on his entry. Nick did a double-take, then looked at the book like he didn't know what was going on. He did put a nice signature over is text blurb. We weren't sure if we would have time to get through any more lines, but there were a lot fewer people there than I expected.

Next up was Daniel Cabrera and Adam Jones (and Chris Heintz). Cabrera signed his entry, thankfully without reading it (it said some pretty harsh things about his lack of production as well as his attitude). I wished him luck on his season, and he wished me luck on whatever I do. He then signed the table he was sitting at - I guess he was in auto-sign mode and didn't realize there wasn't a card there. Adam Jones followed suite, though he didn't look to be in the best mood. Daniel was smiling and looked like he was having a good time, but Adam seemed very quiet.

Because we still had a little time, we got into the Jamie Walker, Aubrey Huff, Jeremy Guthrie line. Though these weren't the autographs I wanted most, it provided the best part of the day for me. We got down to the table just before time ran out. I gave Jamie the book and he signed his entry. As he was handing me the book, he pulled it back and asked if he could read his entry. Then he asked me what SN/WX is. I told him that it was a statistic that took game situation into account - that because he pitched in more important situations, he was given extra credit. He seemed to understand (kind of). Aubrey Huff signed his entry and told Walker that there were a lot of statistics out there these days. Jeremy Guthrie gave a small signature next to his name, and asked my opinion of the book. I told him that it was very good. Maybe Guthrie will be the next Brian Bannister (in terms of looking for an edge using stats). Guthrie was a lot more natural talent, so he could really help himself out. He did go to Stanford, and seems like a pretty smart guy in general.

I'm not usually big on autographs, but I had a lot of fun. It was really nice to be close to the field, and to see all of the players. I'm excited for Opening Day, and may look into going to more Fan Fests in the future. Read more ...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Blame Brian Sabean

The San Fransisco Giants have an absurdly horrible offense. Let's take a look, using the fantasy 411 composite projections.

The "Line-up" (predicted):

Dave Roberts - 402 AB, 268 / 342 / 366, 3 HR
Randy Winn - 539 AB, 287 / 342 / 430, 12 HR
Aaron Rowand - 534 AB, 280 / 328 / 443, 16 HR
Bengie Molina - 441 AB, 276 / 309 / 427, 16 HR
Ray Durham - 417 AB, 256 / 334 / 404, 12 HR
Rich Aurilia - 341 AB, 269 / 324 / 417, 10 HR
Jose Castillo - 339 AB, 253 / 297/ 377, 7 HR
Omar Vizquel - 462 AB, 252 / 316 / 318, 3 HR
Pitcher - 500 AB, 100 / 120 / 150, 1 HR (I estimated, but that looks about right)

Rajai Davis - 305 AB, 269 / 334 / 356, 2 HR
Justin Leone - 248 AB, 228 / 313 / 363, 7 HR
Nate Schierholtz - 344 AB, 280 / 315 / 435, 9 HR
Dan Ortmier - 348 AB, 256 / 304 / 408, 10 HR
Fred Lewis - 252 AB, 267 / 348 / 398, 5 HR

I know this isn't a good position break-down for the bench, but these are the only guys that had projections for the Giants. Replace Justin Leone's name with that of the back-up catcher and the stats should be pretty similar

This total offense is expected to produce a line of 252 / 307 / 375 with 113 HR. The Runs Created estimation is 617, or 3.8 runs per game. I guess that's not historic, as the 2004 Arizona team scored 615 (and lost 111 games). Still, it is very bad. Even with the poorer pitching, I find it hard to believe that the O's will have a worse record. They are going to score about 150-175 more runs than the Giants. Even if San Fransisco repeats its 4.19 ERA from last year, the O's would have to not improve at all from their 5.17 line. [In that case, the Giant's should go 69 - 93 and the O's should go 70 - 92]. If the offense doesn’t see any individual collapses and the pitchers do what they are capable of then the Giants would still only win 70-75 games. The O’s though, would win 75-80. They can’t be the worst team in baseball Read more ...

Most Steals Of Home: Tie (Everyone With 0)

Lot's of people do standings and MVP/Cy Young predictions. Braves Journal takes it a little bit further.

"Carlos Delgado: .210/.299/.340, 84 games"
- I'll take the over, but not by that much. Maybe .262/.339/.402, 102 games

"First manager fired: Ned Yost"
- Yost has some good qualities and some bad qualities. If the Brewers start out poorly because of the way Yost manages the bullpen, then I could see this coming out right.

"Dusty Baker throws Homer Bailey under the bus: April 17
Dusty throws Joey Votto under the bus: May 22
Jay Bruce: June 11"
- Later on Homer as I think his first couple starts will be OK. (In fact, I think his whole year should be OK).
Later in Votto, as I don't think he'll get enough chances to start to be "thrown under the bus" that early.
Later on Bruce, for the same reason as Votto. If the Reds want to delay his service clock (and thus have control of him for an extra year), then starting Jay in the minors is fine. This team thinks it's a contender however, and that means putting your best players on the field from day one. (Bruce > Corey Patterson on that day, and Bruce >> Patterson by day 100).

"Dodgers’ most usual starting outfield, left to right: Juan Pierre, Andruw Jones, Delwyn Young
Number of times media points out that Joe Torre doesn’t know what he’s doing: 0
Number of times media will say that the Yankees would be winning with Torre: too many to count"
- Not a chance, if they think they'll win the division. Ethier, Jones, Kemp is a very good outfield.
Not zero - maybe 2 or 3 total for the year (all by the same guy, probably).
I think the Yankees will be winning anyway, so this may be moot.

"Best year nobody will notice because the team sucks: Roy Oswalt"
- Oswalt's K/9 has been trending downward, and his BB/9 isn't improving. I think he'll have a good year (and may be an All-Star) and people will notice, but there should be a better player for this category - I just can't think of who off the top of my head. (It's hard for me to judge, because if someone is having that good a year then I'll probably notice.)

"New record: JJ Putz, 59 saves"
- Not unless the M's win 100 games (which they won't - 99.3% sure). Nick Markakis has a 178 game hitting streak? There are always new records set (times getting hit by a pitch on a Thursday with no one on base) but 59 saves is pretty excessive.

"Should have been a new record: Dusty benches Adam Dunn with two weeks to go, with Dunn trying to break the 200 strikeout plateau. Oh, and with 47 homers."
- As I said in the post on Baker - this wouldn't surprise me. Maybe 41 home runs and not 47, but still.

"Worst team: Giants, 59-103"
- Thanks for no saying the O's. If Lincecum and/or Cain go down, it's going to be a long year in San Fran. I'll look at what could be a historically bad offense soon.

"Best team: Red Sox, 100-62"
- I don't think the Sox are even the best team in their own division, but 100 wins isn't a huge number. It's unlikely (they led the majors with 96 in 2007), but possible. I'd be more likely to say Yanks, 96-68. (Man, I hate that I think the Yankees are going to be so good. It's not fun be objective. O's win 107 en route to a World Series crown!)

"Surprise team: Nats, above .500 until late July"
- Well, I would sure be surprised. I think this team doesn't clear .500 in any month. If the O's win 75, would that count? Or if the M's win 75? Or Tampa Bay winning 85? None of those would surprise me, but they might count.

"Worst race: Cubs win NL Central by 12 games… with 87 wins"
- The Brew Crew should be there with them all year. Weeks - Braun - Fielder - Hart is a scary top of the order.

"Best race: Braves, Phillies, Mets divided by three games"
- Yeah, OK. I think the NL West will be better, since it'll be four teams (sorry Giants) where only one may make it (opposed to the East, where second place may mean a Wild Card birth).

"Most tediously overcovered race: AL East"
- Stupid Yankees/Red Sox bias.

"Rangers finally turn catcher over to Saltalamacchia: Sept. 17"
- He should be up earlier, and I could see him being the primary catcher before then. If Laird is traded, it'll be before the deadline (end of July) so he would take over then.

"Worst token All-Star: Brian Wilson, Giants
Over/under on ESPN Beach Boy jokes about Wilson: 62 1/2, not counting repeats"
- Not if Melvin Mora represents the Orioles.
Wilson does play in California. Read more ...

Line 'Em Up To Knock 'Em Down

Dave Trembley has announced his staring line-up for Opening Day (and beyond).

(Projected Stats)
Brian Roberts (.285/.370/.430, 12 HR )
Melvin Mora (.268/.336/.402, 13 HR )
Nick Markakis (.297/.365/.500, 25 HR )
Kevin Millar (.263/.355/.416, 13 HR )
Aubrey Huff (.273/.336/.447, 18 HR )
Ramon Hernandez (.267/.333/.437, 15 HR )
Luke Scott (.269/.367/.511, 26 HR )
Adam Jones (.269/.327/.464, 19 HR )
Luis Hernandez (.245/.279/.309, 2 HR)

What jumps out at me is that two of the top three HR hitters on the team are hitting 7/8, while the clean-up guy has about as much power as the lead-off hitter.

Though the order in which the players bat is far less vital then which players they are, I'd go more along the lines of:

Brian Roberts (.285/.370/.430, 12 HR ) - clearly the lead-off man. Very good OBP, plus speed and average, and some pop.

Kevin Millar (.263/.355/.416, 13 HR ) - yes he's slow. He also should be third in OBP and is still good at hitting line drives - that beats Mora's ability to steal 10 bases and bunt (usually for outs).

Nick Markakis (.297/.365/.500, 25 HR ) - the team's best all-around hitter. Consensus #3. If the O's had a better line-up, he would be great at #2.

Luke Scott (.269/.367/.511, 26 HR ) - most power on the team. Having a .511 SLG when the guys in front of you don't get on base (.336 and .333 OBP, respectively) is a waste. I don't especially like that he and Markakis are both left-handed, but they've handled lefties OK in their careers, so it isn't much of an issue. The extra OBP he provides will be useful even in the four-hole, as the guys behind him don't provide too much extra offense, other than a some power.

Adam Jones (.269/.327/.464, 19 HR ) - that's right, #5. I didn't want to put the lefty Huff here, but having Jones hit right in front of Luis Hernandez seems like a bad idea. He doesn't have great plate discipline, and so pitchers wouldn't need to throw him many strikes anyway. Combine that with a complete lack of fear of walking him (as Luis would be up next) and that spells trouble (even if it would only have a very small impact). Plus he has more power than Huff or Hernandez.

Aubrey Huff (.273/.336/.447, 18 HR ) -- he's just a little bit better a hitter than Hernandez in every respect.

Ramon Hernandez (.267/.333/.437, 15 HR ) - has more power than Mora, but less than Huff.

Melvin Mora (.268/.336/.402, 13 HR ) - as an impact third-baseman, Mora is pretty much done. Scott Moore could (should?) take this spot also.

- Can they just play with an eight-man line-up? Maybe the pitcher can hit. Does the DH have to be designated as hitting for the pitcher, or can that go for any position? Eh, I shouldn't be so hard on him. He might be able to hit second for the Giants.

So, great line-up... or the greatest line-up? Actually, it's not bad and should be a little better than average. Remember, the Giants have Bengie Molina hitting clean-up. Read more ...

KC Not In Last Place?

The future for Kansas City is looking up. They've got a strong (and young) set of quality hitters (Alex Gordon, Billy Butler should be a solid 3-4 for a lot of years). There's some pitching (Zach Greinke, Gil Meche, Brian Bannister, Joakim Soria) and a good general manager. This year they've also added a smart guy to be in charge on the field - former Japanese league manager Trey Hillman. Hillman is not only preaching the necessity of fundamentals (and he isn't afraid to publicly yell at his guys when they make four base running mistakes in a spring training game); he also understands the importance of on-base percentage. When asked about his opinion of OBP he replied "OBP is a no-brainer...Get on base and have guys drive you in. Be aggressively disciplined in the strike zone, but take your walks. After that, it depends on what you’re talking about...If you’re talking about the middle of the lineup, which I consider three through seven, then I look for run production. So I go to slug (slugging percentage)." Even better, apparently he said it "like it should have been the most drop-dead obvious thing in the world to anybody that cared." The original article and the commentary on it. Read more ...

Hey, I Was #1 In The League (In Grounding Into Double Plays In 2003)

In an article from the Baltimore Sun: "Payton says he just wants to be given opportunity to win starting outfield job."

Payton then goes on to complain (though not nearly as much as when he was with the Red Sox) about how he is relegated to being a fourth outfielder without having a chance to prove himself, as he's a veteran and the other guys aren't

It seems to me that people (should) know what kind of played Jay Payton is by now. He hits for a little average with a poor OBP and little power while playing poor defense. Unless Payton, at the age of 35, is going to have a non-Coors Field inflated career year (and probably even if he does) he has no place in an outfield with Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, and Luke Scott. In 2007, Scott had a year (.255/.351/.504, 119 OPS+) that was better than any year Payton has ever had (best was .303/.351/.488, 115 OPS+ with half a year in Colorado). If Jay Gibbons gets a roster spot, then Scott Moore would have the right to complain. If Luis Hernandez is the starting SS ahead of Brandon Fahey (they're both bad, but Fahey is playing better now) then Brandon could complain. Hayden Penn wasn't given a complete chance to compete for the fifth starter spot - he could complain. None of them has. Jay Payton needs to shut his mouth and do what he's told (and collect his $5 million). Read more ...

B-Rob Stays An O (For Now)

With Andy MacPhail's recent comments, it sounds like Brian Roberts is going to stay on the team for the foreseeable future. I've said (multiple times) that the Orioles wouldn't be a much worse team if they got back a package that included Ronny Cedeno and Eric Patterson (probably no more than one win, maybe two).

I have very little reason to not trust MacPhail's decision making, and if Roberts is traded later for more than Cedeno, Patterson, Sean Gallagher, Matt Murton, and a C+ prospect then I'll forgive his (maybe excessive) patience. If Roberts plays out two years and leaves, or has his value drop due to age/injury/luck/etc... then waiting will have been a mistake. I would trade him now, but I'm not the GM. Read more ...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A's Lead West In Wins

Congratulations to the Oakland A's on getting their first win of 2008, with their victory over the Boston Red Sox in the second game of their opening series in Japan. After blowing a save in game one, and having the Red Sox win in extra-innings, the A's, behind a strong and very encouraging start by Rich Harden (6 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 9 K, 1 R, on a Manny Ramirez HR) took game two 5-1. Former Oriole Jeff "Screech" Fiorentino delivered an RBI single. I don't understand why the O's gave him up for nothing - he isn't worse than Tike Redman. Rookie first-baseman (and darkhorse ROY candidate) Daric Barton is hitting third and picked up another walk, to go along with the three from the opener. He may walk more times this series than Corey Patterson will all year. The A's offense is filled with rookies and cast-offs and declining veterans (former Royals star Mike Sweeney is batting clean-up) and they've scored 5 runs in each game - they only have 16 hits, but they've walked 11 times. Getting on base makes up for a lot of other problems a line-up may have. Another congratulations goes out to reliever Keith Foulke, who's made his way out of retirement to pitch in each game (both times 1 IP, no walks or hits, and he struck out a batter). I hope he does well this season.

Hmm, steady #1 starter who has pretty good control but doesn't strike out too many and gives up his share of hits... #2 starter who has a lot of talent but can't be counted on to produce on the field (injuries vs. inconsistency) [you see where I'm going with this?]... a bunch of young starters with some potential but lacking quality results at the major league level... a bullpen with a strike-out closer, a veteran lefty-righty tandem, and a bunch of hard-throwing unknowns (plus a lefty longman who didn't have much success as a rookie starter last year)... an offense without big-time star, but with some potential at a few positions and a quality out-field prospect arriving soon [how about now?]... some not too great veterans filling in at a few does sound awfully familiar. The A's are a better team than the O's, but you can see what I mean.

Many projection systems have the A's, and not the Mariners, as the #2 team in the AL West. I have both teams winning 77 games, but I think it's more likely that the A's win 90 (and the division) while the M's lose 90 than the other way around. I don't see why injuries to the Angels starters only help Seattle - the A's are in just as good (better?) a position to capitalize on them. Read more ...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Apparently, The Nationals Have Some Pitching Depth

John Patterson has been released by the Washington Nationals.

"Patterson, the Nationals' Opening Day starter in 2007, was limited to 15 starts in 2006 and '07 because of a series of nerve problems in his right arm and elbow... Patterson's velocity, though, was noticeably down in his last two spring outings... Patterson, 30, has a career record of 18-25 and a long history of injuries. He has only once made 30 starts in the majors, and has never thrown 200 innings... This opens a spot in the rotation for either Matt Chico or John Lannan."

It's a pretty surprising move, but mostly because his name is "John Patterson". The guy has exactly one season with more than 100 IP. If the loss in velocity is going to keep his K/9 down (4.4 in '07, 9.2 in '06, (both in a small number of innings), 8.4 in '05 (his 198 IP season)) and his BB/9 up (6.4 in '07, 0.9 in '06, 3.0 in '05) then he shouldn't have a spot in the rotation - especially when he can't be counted on for innings. I think that the potential he showed in 2005 isn't going to come back, but he could be a useful #4 type starter if he avoids the injury bug.

The O's could always take a chance on him - he can't be worse than Steve Trachsel. If he's (relatively) healthy and (relatively) productive in the first half, he could be traded for a prospect or two at the deadline. If he gets hurt again, they don't really lose anything. It's low-risk, medium-reward. It's also the kind of thing a team with money to burn can do to improve its long-term success. Why not pay all of a guy's contract to get better players in a trade? Sign a guy cheaply that may do well (with low probability), and then if he does, send him packing; if not, cut him. A few years ago, I had an off-season plan that would have netted a Ken Griffey Jr. - Alex Rodriguez - Jason Giambi middle of the order without giving up much more than cash (and the O's would only have had to pay about 1/2 of their contracts). Buying low on guys with quality skills, but poor seasons, who have large contracts is a way to improve a team when you have the payroll space. Signing Griffey on the free-agent market to 7 years 120 million dollars is crazy. Trading a middling pitching prospect for Griffey at 3 years 45 million dollars is getting pretty good value (not great, but he is still a legit middle-of-the-order bat); especially when that 45 million would otherwise just be going into the owner's pockets. If the O's could have gotten JR Towles from Houston by paying all of Tejada's remaining contract, then they should have done it. [Yes, I know they have Wieters on the way, but Towles could keep the spot warm for him for a couples years, and then be traded before he's even arbitration eligible for a good return.] Read more ...

He's No Weaver

From Roch Kubatko's Sun blog: "Manager Dave Trembley pulled Jon Tucker out of the group before the pre-workout stretch and commended him for bunting yesterday with the Orioles trailing. That’s the way the game is supposed to be played, Trembley said, before apologizing to Tucker for embarrassing him in front of the team." I assume that Jon Tucker is therefore an atrocious hitter, as bunting would otherwise not be the way the game is "supposed" to be played. It just happens to be the way the game is played. I don't have the play-by-play, but judging from the box score, it appears that the bunt occurred in with one out in 8th inning with the O's down by 2 runs. The next batter, Luis Terrero, struck out to end the inning. It's still better than Sammy Perlozzo bunting when down by 3 in the 6th. Stupid "small-ball". I can't believe O's managers forget there most famous predecessor, Earl Weaver. "Pitching, defense, and the three-run homer." And how do you hit three-run homers? By getting goes on base. And then hitting a homer. It just makes sense. Read more ...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Brian Bannister: SABR Pitcher

I have to say that I honestly did want the O's to trade for Brian Bannister when he was with the Mets (as far back as 2005, when he was still in the minors). He had good control (2.3 BB/9) and could strike some people out (8.3 K/9) while not giving up too many HR (0.6 HR/9). From what I had heard, his "stuff" wasn't that great, but he seemed to be able to pitch. He spent a little bit of time in the majors in 2006 with New York and was able to post a 102 ERA+ even with too many walks (5.2 BB/9) and few strike-outs (4.5 K/9) by still limiting home runs pretty well (0.9 HR/9) and not giving up too many hits (8.1 H/9). His BABIP was a low 0.242, which was a bit concerning.

After being acquired in a trade by Kansas City for reliever Ambiorix Burgos, Bannister posted a 121 ERA+ in his rookie season. He got the walks down (2.4 BB/9) but the strike-outs dropped further (4.2 K/9) while the home runs and hits stayed about the same (0.82 HR/9 and 8.5 H/9). His BABIP was 0.262 (lowest in the league), which implies that he was once again lucky, but is Bannister due for a big regression?

There are really two issues with his performance: the low strike-out rate and the low hit rate.

The low strike-out rate is explained by Bannister himself - “I know how to strike people out. I just save that for when I need it. I’m purposely NOT trying to strike people out when there’s nobody on base. I want them to hit it.” I have one issue with this at first glance, and it's that a lot of "contact and control" pitchers say this same thing, but that doesn't necessarily make them more effective. I decided to see if his starts actually back up his claim by looking at when his strike-outs occurred. Since 77 was too many to look at individually, I decided to break them down by situation. I went through all of his game logs for 2007 and kept track of how many men were on base and the number of outs before each strike-out (except for one - I missed one somewhere and I'm not going through it again). With no men on he recorded 18-13-10 (0, 1, and 2 outs). With a runner on first it was 4-5-13; runner on second: 2-0-4; runner on third: 0; runners on first and second: 0-0-3; runners on first and third: 0-1-1; runners on second and third: 0; and with the bases loaded: 0-1-1. Though I didn't keep track of how many of each situation there was overall, that about 82% of his strike-outs came in the lowest pressure situations (none on, or a runner on first) whereas there were very few when it would have been most useful.

[Edit: After I did this I found a place that actually has the splits in different game situations, which I used for the next part.]

I didn't like the idea of basing my conclusion (even though I stated that it wasn't a sure thing) on just his own data without any points of reference, so I decided to check the strike-outs of another rookie right-hander who has pretty good control, a not so great K rate, and gave up less hits than he should have - Jeremy Guthrie. I looked at their strike-outs per plate appearance in different game situations. Then I divided that rate by their overall rate so that we're comparing apples to apples (even if it's Granny Smith to Fuji, or whatever). With runners in scoring position (second and/or third) Guthrie K'ed at 95% of his usual rate, while Bannister was at 80%. With RISP and 2 outs it was 115% - 128%; men on at all: 102 - 123; late and close (Late & Close are PA in the 7th or later with the batting team tied, ahead by one, or the tying run at least on deck.): 86 - 52; tie game: 100 - 52; one run difference: 107 - 120; two run difference: 88 - 112; three run difference: 100 - 138; four run difference: 122 - 207; more than four runs: 61 - 129; and with no men on base: 98 - 100.

What does this all mean? Well, while Guthrie's adjusted K/PA stayed about the same when the score differential was less than four - dropping only for >4, but that was in a small number of PA (he just couldn't catch a break, score-wise - more on this later) Bannister's adjusted K/PA was lowest when the game was tied, and highest when the score differential was large. He did strike guys out better when there were runners on the bases, (but not in scoring position - except with two outs). Guthrie was pretty consistent all of the time, but it seems that Bannister actually may try to strike guys out more in certain situations; those that don't appear to depend on the score. This seems a bit odd, as with a larger lead a pitcher should "go after" hitters more in an effort to reduce pitch count, as a solo home run won't make too much difference. Since Bannister's "stuff" isn't that great, if he goes after hitters more that should result in more balls in play - not more strike-outs. I don't buy into the statement that Bannister could substantially increase his strike-out rate if he wanted to. It may go up some, but I doubt to becomes even league average. Some guys with good control have good strike-out rates in the minors, but that doesn't translate to the majors because hitters are more patient and their "stuff" is quite as good, relatively speaking. Could he K six per nine? Sure. He doesn't have to to be effective, but it wouldn't hurt.

In part of his interview with MLBTradeRumors, Bannister said that the low BABIP isn't all luck because "so far... in my career I have been able to get a Major League hitter to put the ball in play in a 1-2 or 0-2 count 155 times, and in a 2-0 or 2-1 count 78 times. That’s twice as often in my favor, & I’ll take those odds." This claim was researched by Mike Fast and he found that for 2007, Bannister actually pitched in favorable counts (0-2, 1-2, 2-2) 63% of the time, while the league average is 66%. He does pitch less often in bad counts (3-0, 3-1, 2-1), which outweighed the other counts by a little bit, but not enough to explain how he gave up less runs than he should have. Not only did he not pitch in good counts more often, he didn't induce batters to put the play in play when he had those counts more often. He went on to look at how batters handled each of Bannister's pitches and what happened to those balls that should have been hits. It seems Brian was able to get right-handed batters to ground his fastball to the shortstop (excellent defender Tony Pena Jr.) more than normal (so the BABIP in that situation was lower than expected) and that he may have been a bit lucky with the curveball as some line drives turned into fly balls. I would have to say that while Bannister can be an effective major league pitcher, I have a hard time seeing that happening if he repeats his performance from 2007. Either the K/9 has to go up or the BB/9 has to go down (though there isn't too much room for that) because the hits and a few home runs should show up that weren't there before.

I certainly hope that he is successful, because it is extremely pleasant to hear that an actual player looks over the advanced stats in this manner. At the very least, he should make one hell of a pitching coach one day. Read more ...

Nathan A Rich Twin

The Twins have signed their ace closer Joe Nathan to a extension keeping him in Minnesota through 2011 (or 2012 if they exercise his option). The contract will pay Nathan an average of $11.25 million a year. There's also a limited no-trade clause.

It's not a bad deal for a closer of Nathan's caliber in general, as Fransisco Cordero (ERA+ of 150, 124, 136 the last 3 years with 3.1 K/BB over that time) just got a comparable deal from the Reds and Nathan is the better pitcher (230, 283, 165 ERA+ with 4.7 K/BB). The problem is that the Twins are a low-payroll team and so it doesn't make much sense for them to allocate such a substantial portion of their pay-roll to a pitcher who only throws 70 innings a year. It might have made more sense for them to add $50 million on to their contract offer to Johan Santana and then trade Nathan for prospects. With the players that they got from the Mets for Santana, they might have been able to get a similar return from a team in need of a closer. Read more ...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sweet Lou's Sour Line-Up Construction

I guess Lou Pinella is pushing for the Cubs to trade for Brian Roberts. Perhaps he told the GM, "If you don't get me B-Rob, I'll bat Ryan Theriot lead-off; I swear to God I will. I don't care how many times he grounds weakly to short, he'll bat first unless you get Roberts."

Lou has announced his line-up, and Theriot (projected .272/.337/.357) is indeed batting first. Following him will be Alfonso Soriano (.280/.330/.534),
Derrek Lee (.302/.384/.524),
Aramis Ramirez (.299/.357/.546),
Kosuke Fukudome (.282/.375/.479),
Mark DeRosa (.278/.351/.419),
Geovany Soto (.277/.348/.463), and
Felix Pie (.278/.333/.440).

DeRosa, though he doesn't have as much speed, would make the better lead-off man. Fukudome's on-base skills aren't being put to full use in the five spot, especially when it's unclear as to exactly how much power he'll show. That Soriano claims to not hit as well out of the lead-off spot is ridiculous, as he really is only guaranteed to bat first in an inning once per game. [He does hit better than usual when leading off an inning (via OPS), as well as in the one-hole vs. #5 and with men on vs. no one on. The differences are mostly because of different batting averages (which is more a product of luck) so there isn't much to support his statements.]

This line-up would better utilize the player's skills:
DeRosa - gets on base and has a little pop (Not much worse than B-Rob, actually)
Fukudome - gets on base very well and may have good power (depending on how it translates from Japan)
Lee - team's best all-around hitter; hits for BA, OBP, and SLG (he won't hit 46 HR again, but did you know he went 30-20 (HR-SB) as a first basemen in 2003. You don't see that very often.)
Ramirez - has become a very consistent middle-of-the order bat, hitting for average and power
Soriano - lots of power, but still doesn't walk much
Soto - has some Rookie of the Year chances, with good power for a catcher
Pie - the Cubs need to give Pie a full chance to establish himself in center
Theriot (actually, Ronny Cedeno (.270/.314/.397 with much better defense and substantially higher upside would be the better choice here)

This Cubs team looks very good - the line-up, starting pitching, and bullpen may all end up being the best in the division. Read more ...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Tiger's Miggy Gets A New "Fat" Deal

Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers have apparently agreed to an eight-year $153 million contract. The deal will keep Cabrera in the Motor City until at least 2016. This is a great deal for the Tigers, as Miguel should easily have cost over $20 million annually on the open market.

Just 24 years old, Cabrera already has 138 HR and is a career 313 / 388 / 542 hitter (and he is still three years away from a player's traditional peak years). His VORPs for his career are (starting in '07 and going back) 71.4, 78.7, 68.5, 43.7, and 9.3 (half-season). The most similar player (via Similarity Scores) to him through age 24 is Hank Aaron, followed by current/future Hall of Famers Ken Griffey Jr., Frank Robinson, Orlando Cepeda, Al Kaline, Mickey Mantle (and maybe Andrew Jones and Vlad Guererro). That is some pretty elite company, and it could be argued that Miguel deserves a contract closer to the one A-Rod got. Alex is the better talent, and the better defender and base-runner, but paying Cabrera $25 million for his age 32 season seems safer than paying Rodriguez $30 million for his age 40 season.

The contract disappoints me, as I was hoping the Tigers would lose him to free agency (and preferably to the NL) since the Indians are my team in the AL Central. He may go down as one of the all-time great hitters, and should be in the MVP debate for years to come. Read more ...

NCAA Tournament - Second Round

Stanford vs. Marquette:

Stanford's "Twin Towers", Brook and Robin Lopez really lived up to the hype. Both guys, particularly Brook, dominated inside with and without the ball. Marquette's Jerel McNeal played very well, especially late in the game, but it didn't make up for the repeated easy twos in the paint for Standford. Even though the game went to overtime, and came down to another last second do-or-die shot (that's three in the tournament so far) from Brook, it never really crossed my mind that Stanford would lose the game.

Pittsburgh vs. Michigan State;

The first half of the game was pretty boring. Neither team was scoring that well (actually Michigan's Drew Neitzel was the only guy putting up many points with his threes - the guy is small and very quick, and looks like a very good shooter). Pittsburgh stayed in the game with free-throws (8 of them) but just couldn't hit from the field (9 for 31). If they can get their act together in the second half, then they should be able to win the game as they are only down 30-28. Both defenses are playing quite well, though.
[Edit: The second half was more of the same. Neitzel continues to lead Michigan (with help from Goran Suton and Kalin Lucas), while Pitt stays in the game via free-throws. When Levance Fields (19 pts) went down for Pitt with about 1:30 left, it was pretty much game over. Pitt just couldn't make shots.]

UCLA vs. Texas A&M:

I only was able to catch bits and pieces of this game, but UCLA doesn't looks as balanced as the other #1 seeds I saw. Kevin Love is a very good player, particularly on the defensive side (plus is a very good shooter for a big guy),and Darren Collison did a good job hitting threes, but that was pretty much it. Texas spread the ball around well, and just shot better than UCLA, which allowed them to hold a lead for a large part of the game. UCLA came back though, and Texas just couldn't keep the scoring up while holding the Bruins down. It was close, but the #1 seed pulled it out at the last seconds. Read more ...

Friday, March 21, 2008

NCAA Tournament - First Round

UNC vs. Mount St. Mary's:

This is the first time I've watched a whole UNC game, and they are extremely impressive, even against a 16 seed. All five guys can do more than the average player at their position. They're fast and strong, and can all shoot. The defense doesn't look that impressive, but considering they're playing a fast-paced game and are on pace for over 100 points (a little ways into the second half), it can be excused. The Mount is clearly over matched, but they look like they at least belong in the tournament. I would have picked UNC to go to the finals, if I hadn't had Kansas winning it all. [I found it kind of amusing that the UNC B-team is 5 white guys, who were put in with 4:30 left and the score 101-58. Have some fun out there guys. From that time, UNC was still only outscored by 4]

Gonzaga vs. Davidson:

I picked Gonzaga to win this game, but Stephen Curry made me a Davidson fan. The guy was unbelievable; scoring 40 points and going 8 for 10 on three-pointers. He would catch the ball a few feet behind the arc, turn, and shoot off of his back foot - all in one motion. Every Davidson player, coach, and fan should get in line to thank him for the performance, as there is no way they would have beaten the Bulldogs without him. It was an exciting game, pretty much from start to finish.

Drake vs. Western Kentucky:

I picked Drake (to win two games, actually) and things looked bad in the first half as the (other) Bulldogs were down by 9. WK even had a 16 point lead at one point. Drake managed to make a comeback though, leading to an exciting finish. After going to overtime, Drake had a one point lead with 5.7 seconds left after a couple of free-throws. WK's Ty Rogers then hit a last second 3-pointer with three Drake defenders right in his face. I didn't get to see the shot when it happened, but the replays made clear why everyone was yelling - it was an amazing last-second play. now WK will actually be the favorite, as 13 seed San Diego upset UConn.

Connecticut vs. San Diego:

I didn't get to see all of this game, but the ending was fantastic. Even though UConn's #1 scorer AJ Price left the game with an injury, San Diego lost players late in the game to foul trouble and Brandon Johnson played hard (though I wouldn't say heroically, as the commentators did) through a injury. This game went to OT too, and also ended on a last second do-or-die shot - even if it wasn't quite as impressive looking. So instead of a #4 vs. a #5, it'll be a #12 vs. a #13. Who would have thunk it?

Georgetown VS. UMBC:

The first ten minutes really got my hopes up. The UMBC team was giving up a good amount of size, and some athleticism, but the got some turnovers and dominated on the rebounds (especially the offensive boards) and managed to even hold a couple of leads before Georgetown pulled away by the half. Jay Greene really had no business being on the court. He probably caused more harm than good because he was constantly in a bad position and couldn't do much to set up his teammates. He also only scored 6 points on two late threes. UMBC couldn't score inside, but since Georgetown knew that, they could compensate by doing extra to cause poor shots from the perimeter. That left UMBC in a no-win situation and, overall, they looked unorganized on offense. To win the game, UMBC had to play at the top of their abilities for all 40 minutes, which is too much to reasonably expect from any team. When they did that, they kept up with one of the very best basketball teams in the nation. This NCAA appearance should help UMBC's recruiting, and it wouldn't surprise me to see them back next year. Georgetown didn't look terribly impressive, though. If UMBC was a bit bigger at each position then they could have kept the score close for longer. At least I can always say "Hey, you remember that time UMBC was beating Georgetown?" That was awesome. I was a bit upset at myself, as all seven times I said "No" as a Georgetown player shot the ball it ended up not going in. If I had been doing that all game, who knows what could have happened. (Probably the exact same thing, but I would have been wrong a bunch of times so there would be no sense of regret.)

General note: There are a lot of teams that are the "Bulldogs" - Drake, Georgia, Mississippi State, Gonzaga, and Butler. There's also a bunch of "Wildcats" - Arizona, Kentucky, Kansas State, Davidson, and Villanova. That's 10 out of 64 teams with those two names. Kind of odd. Read more ...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Why Pay $5 When You Can Pay $10 For Less Production?

Apparently, the Chicago White Sox waived 2B/SS Juan Uribe. That means that any team can claim him (and his $4.5 million contract) for nothing (well, $4.5 million). I've read that the Orioles are interested in him.

I don't understand this at all. Uribe is projected to hit about .249/.299/.420. Almost all of his offensive value is based on those home runs he hits to left field. The problem is, Orioles Park isn't quite as conducive to that as the Cell in Chicago. That means the O's would basically be paying him $4.5 million to be a quality defensive middle infielder.

Why didn't they just sign Adam Everett for $3 million to hit .240/.281/.330 and provide even better defense. Or (and I know this sounds crazy) have the Cubs include Eric Patterson in the anticipated Roberts trade. I have rarely heard his name mentioned, but it's pretty clear that the Cubs don't have a place for him so he could be added as a "throw-in". Then he could outhit either guy at .267/.335/.420 for the league minimum. I obviously don't know what is really going on in the trade talks, but if a trade is completed without Patterson coming over I will be both confused and a little upset.

I've also heard that the O's are interested in Houston's Mark Loretta. I wouldn't take him and his $2.75 million contract (and projected .268/.339/.357 line with below average defense) if the Astros gave him away.

[Note: Uribe was not actually waived, and Roberts was not actually traded.] Read more ...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

If Joe Knows, He Isn't Telling

One of the things that I am most excited about regarding the upcoming season is the start of more Joe Morgan chats on ESPN - they are a source of extreme amusement for me.

[I don't hate Joe Morgan. I think that some of the things he says based on his intimate knowledge and experience with the game are very interesting. It's just that a lot of the other stuff he says is kind of dumb. I will admit that he was one of (if not #1) the top second basemen of all time. He also was a proponent of the importance of getting on base before it became "hip".]

Let's remember the good times, with "Joe Says" 2007 edition:
[Keep this quote in mind: "I'm just like every other fan - I watch every game. I check the box scores and check the stats like everyone else. I'm as interested in the Kansas City Royals as I am the Yankees or Red Sox. I'm a baseball fan. I just like to watch everybody."
Also keep in mind that this man has won awards for his broadcasting.]

Joe not making a statement he'll stand behind / not answering an asked question:

(On the Mets' chances of winning the division)
"I expect them to win the division...But that's why they play the games. No one knows for sure."

(On Ken Griffey Jr.'s legacy)
"He'll be elected into the Hall of Fame. He's one of the greatest players in the history of the game...
difficult question to answer...I'm not sure what his legacy will be."

(Will A-Rod win the MVP?)
"This year, I'm not sure. There is so much riding on every pitch, every at bat, every ground ball he fields, I'm not sure how he'll react. I think we'll have to wait at least a month into the season before we get a reading."

(On Derek Jeter's defense)
"I won't say someone's overrated because I don't see him every day."

(On the Tigers' chances of winning the division)
"I actually feel like Detroit might win the American League again. Obviously it's early, so I can't make a real prediction."

(On Roger Clemens signing somewhere)
"I know Roger pretty well, but I'm not going to predict what he will do."

(Who will win the AL West?)
"If Vladimir has another great year, I think the Angels will win... A's are very close... My darkhorse in that division are the other two - Mariners and Texas. I think either one could get hot and win." [So the answer is: someone who plays in the AL West. Very true.]

(Will the Indians win the AL Central?)
"There will be a lot of teams involved in deciding who goes to the playoffs this year."

(What's wrong with Bobby Abreu?)
"I don't see him enough to make that evaluation"

(Can Colorado have a .500 record?)
"They have a chance of being a good team...this may get them to a level above .500."

(What's wrong with Grady Sizemore?)
"I haven't seen enough of him this year to give a real good opinion."

(Who plays for the Yankees if Jeter gets hurt?)
"Jeter's the captain of the team...If you take anyone out, they'll suffer. It will depend on who plays SS in his stead."

(Can A-Rod keep hitting HR like he has?)
"Pitching is the key...You can only outscore the average teams....But the Yankees need him in order to have a good year."

(How good are the Marlins / Who's their closer?)
"I think they should be better anyway...I talked to Tony Perez and he said they have some good young players there."

(Does Felix Hernandez have a shot at the Cy Young?)
"Dwight Gooden is the best young pitcher I've ever seen. He was better than all of them at a young age."

(Were the Cardinals the worst World Series champs ever?)
"I can't answer if they're the worst ever, because I didn't see all of the others that didn't win."

(What are you looking forward to seeing this season?)
"I'm looking forward to a lot of teams playing well and a lot of players playing well...Then watching teams perform...I just look forward to all the things that can happen during the season."

(How can the Reds turn things around?)
"things haven't gone well the last two weeks, so they'll need to straighten it out."

(Is Sam Perlozzo in trouble?)
"It's tough for me to answer that question from afar, because I don't see how they go about their business on a day-to-day basis."

(How good can Phil Hughes be?)
"I don't know how good he can be, since he hasn't pitched enough games."

(Do you think the Yankees players are mad about Clemens' special contract clauses?)
"I can't answer that because I don't know what they think individually."

("Joe, I know it is still very early in the season, but does it appear the AL Central is developing into a 2 team race?")
"It's early is the proper answer, and I believe it is going to be at least a four team race before it is over." [Out of 5 teams.]

(Who (pitcher) do you think the Mets will trade for?)
"You always need some pitching. But I cannot say who they will get."

(Can the Dodgers contend?)
"Well everyone can use an extra bat or pitcher."

(What's wrong with the White Sox?)
"I'm not close enough to the situation to put my finger on the exact cause."

(Can the Reds contend?)
"That's a very good question. I don't think I'm equipped to answer that question. But it's a very good question, because I've been asking myself the same question. I'm not as close to the situation as I have been or should be, but I've talked to the owner and he wants to win."

(Should Boston trade for Mark Beurhle?)
"I have no idea where he's going"

(What could the Mariners get for Ichiro?)
"I really do not know"

(What kind of trades will the Reds make?)
"I am not sure what they will do."

(Any ideas to improve inter-league play?)
"Not really."

(Do you think Teixeira will be traded?)
"I am not sure he will be traded."

(Can the Tigers make a run at the World Series?)
"That is hard to say because you never know who is going to step up. "

(Could Tony Gwynn have hit .400 in 1994?)
"Well that is very hard to answer."

("In your opinion, who is the best hitter in baseball?...And defend your position.") [Doesn't he know who he's dealing with?]
"Well hitting is hard to define... But that is a very hard question to answer, because first you have to define what you think a good hitter is."

(What's in store for the Cardinals next year?)
"I don't know"

(Will the Tigers pass the Mariners to make the playoffs?)
"Well I think everyone has a chance right now...We are in a situation where there are a lot of teams that have a chance."

("How do you see the NL Central shaping up?")
"Like everyone else, I have no idea who will win."

(What's up with Eric Gagne?)
"I can't answer what's up with him"

(What are the chances that the DBacks make a big deal (like for Sanatana)?)
"That's out of my realm."

(What could/should the Red Sox give up for Jermaine Dye?)
"I have no idea what they'd have to give up for him"

(Who would you rather have, Roger Clemens or Randy Johnson?)
"I could cop out a little bit by saying it depends on the team I'm on...You can't go wrong picking either one."

(Who wins the NL West?)
"Well I do not have a crystal ball."

("And the World Series Teams are? And the winner is?")
"I don't have any predictions, because there are too many variables. There aren't many great teams out there. Every team has a weakness. We'll see which team's strengths show up."

Joe makes no sense:

("Do grittier players like David Eckstein do better in the cold weather?")
[I assume this is a joke question. Pretty funny.]
"No. I don't think there's any specific type of player that will play better in the colder weather... I think the player that can focus better will do better in the adverse weather." [That's a direct contradiction there.]

(How important are managers?)
"I think you have to have playoff type players before you can make the players."

(Impact rookies?)
"Dice-K is considered a rookie, but I don't buy that... if I had to pick an actual rookie, I'd have to say Dice-K."

(Can the Brewers recreate what the Tigers did last year and reach the post-season?)
"I think they can reach the post-season, but I do not know if they can recreate what the Tigers did last year."

[This one's in this section because of the Angelos comment.]
(What can the O's do to be better?)
"I'm not as caught up on the owner being the problem there." [!!! - That's also his whole answer, pretty much.]

(Can Colorado keep winning?)
"The Rockies seem to be manipulating the balls in their stadium--one day it's 13-1, and one day it's 1-0."

("Does it help [Holliday] that he plays three series here a year?) [HR Durby. This wasn't in an ESPN chat, but it is still worth mentioning.]
"No, I don't think so. This is a home-run-hitting contest, not a... place where you get accustomed to the view, and so forth."

(Can Seattle make the playoffs?)
"As I have tried to point out, starting pitching is still the most important part of pitching"

(Does Cleveland need to win the next two games vs Detroit?)
"You expect to win those games when you have Sabathia in the first game."

(Who wins NL MVP?)
"The MVP award doesn't say "most valuable on a winning team", it says "most valuable". I will contradict myself here by saying that if the Phillies make the playoffs, I would pick Rollins, and if the Brewers do so, I would pick Prince Fielder."

Joe mentions "consistency":

" Mauer will be consistent."

"Ortiz... hasn't been consistent."

"I'm not convinced they're (Boston) going to be consistent."

"The Indians need to be more consistent."

"They (Atlanta) haven't proven they'll be consistent

"He's (Adam Dunn) not a consistent hitter"

"He (Renteria) is very consistent."

"The Angels, if their pitching doesn't stay consistent, will not have the power to be the best team in the AL."

"Their (Yankees) offense isn't consistent... It's a lack of consistent play."

"Good teams have consistency."

"Reyes, Beltran, Castillo, Delgado, Wright and Alou are a little more consistent when they are all healthy."

"I think the Yankees are like three or four other teams, but can they stay consistent."

"He's (Vlad Guerrero) the only consistent power hitter on that team."

"It's a long season, you can't stay consistent for that long."

"He's (Moises Alou) the most consistent hitter on that ballclub."

"Milwaukee has not been consistent."

"They have a chance, but these teams need to get more consistent and right now none of the Wild Card teams are consistent."

"But again, everyone else (Tigers not named Sheffield) is inconsistent as well, so it is hard to tell."

"Peavy has been the most consistent"

"I think they (Brewers) can win it next year, but they need to be more consistent."

"The Rockies have more good hitters/consistent hitters than Cleveland."

"They (Astros) had no consistency in that lineup outside of Lee...They need to be able to score runs consistently."

"The one thing I have noticed is that I don't think the umpiring has been as consistent in these few games that I've seen. I'm not used to it being this inconsistent. The umpring has been a little erratic in the games that I've seen, though I have not seen each and every game. Even some of the calls on the bases have not been consistent." [That's three in four sentences.]


(On Derek Jeter's defense)
"Obviously, if he's won 3 consecutive Gold Gloves, he has to be pretty good."

(Are home/road records important?)
"It depends on how you play at the time... Regardless of where you're playing, if you play poorly you'll lose, and if you play well you'll win."

("Now that the always consistent Gary Sheffield is on the DL, do the Tigers -- even if they play the game the right way -- have a chance to make the playoffs? Or is it too early to tell?")
[This question just presses all of the right buttons with Joe. You've got "consistency", "Gary Sheffield" (who Joe loves), "playing the game the right way", and even gives him a usual out, "too early to tell". Bravo.]
The answer says that Sheffield is responsible for lifting them from 4th-5th in the league to 1st as a team. That's kind of silly on its own.

"But it comes down to the individual and his ability to concetrate. Right now the Mets are not concetrating"
"I do not see him everyday, but for him to be a superstar he needs to keep a high level of concetration, and some people seem to think he does not always concetrate as much as he should."
[Concetrate? This is in separate weeks.]

("I like Boston because they have the best run differential in baseball and their pitching top to bottom has been statistically the best all year. What do you think?")
"Well the run differential means nothing. It is like OPS, it mean nothing in the grander scheme of things."

(Prince Fielder in MVP discussion?)
"You are 100% correct. Today's my birthday and I am older and I went blank. I agree with you 100%."

("Joe -- can the Rockies overcome the 8 day layoff (and the snow)? Seems like it could be a challenge to bring the proper concetration and consistency, after their break.")
[Another great joke question, hitting both consistency and "concetration".]
"What they need is for two or three guys to step up in Boston to help the team get their timing back." [
What timing does the team have?]

(With Sheffield coming back, can Detroit win the Central in '08?)
"It is hard to say, but Detroit with Sheffield is a much better team. I think that is a very good question, but you never know in basbeall. A team may emerge out of nowhere."
[Loves Sheffield.. "you never know"..."a team may emerge out of nowhere". Nowhere is limited to Kansas City, Minnisota, and Chicago, by the way.]

(Todd Helton in the Hall of Fame?)
"You could answer the question yourself"
[There was more to it, but he didn't actually say yes or no, or give any reasons.]

("Mr, Morgan in your opinion what two teams will clash in the AL for the title? and why?")
["and why?" - is this guy on crack or something?]
"That's a very difficult question...Every team going in has a lot of ''ifs"...We'll just have to see who comes through."
[Joe Morgan's list of "opinions" is basically: there are no more great teams; everyone from the "Big Red Machine" should be in the HOF; Gary Sheffield is (still) one of the best hitters ever; Billy Beane wrote Moneyball, a book about how hitting home runs and walking is all that matters; consistency means the same thing as "good"; black managers (like Dusty Baker) are discriminated against.]

"I think the playoffs are going to be like the season - very unpredictable. Fun, but enjoyable to watch."

[I wish Joe held these chats daily. It's not like it would be hard for him. Or would it?]
Read more ...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Up By 10 With A Minute Left - 94% Chance Of Victory?

Bill James is an amazing individual. I really started to get into the statistical side of baseball after reading his Abstract in the freshman year of college. The guy has a knack for asking interesting questions, and then finding answers and making them sound interesting too.

He has found a formula that tells what chance a basketball team has of winning a game based on the score, time left, and who has the ball. I'll test it out while watching March Madness, but it seems to work pretty well.

An explanation, and a handy victory calculator are found in the article here. Read more ...

"Great Moments In Brian-Roberts-To-Cubs-Trade-Rumor History"

I don't really have any comments, as this speaks for itself. It's pretty amusing/annoying, and I hope a deal gets done soon. I do think it'll happen, and I'm hoping for Gallagher, Cedeno, Patterson, Veal and/or Ceda coming back. Murton would be OK too, if the O's could get rid of Huff / Millar. Read more ...

2008 Orioles Projections (Part 1 - Offense)

I had previously done my own Orioles projections and averaged them out with all of the other ones that I could find to get an idea of how things were going to go this season for the team. I recently found a place where someone did the averaging himself, so I think it might be good to post an easy to follow projection for each of the players instead of the hard to read excel sheets it was done in. I tweaked the online projections where I saw fit, and added commentary to each player (also where I saw fit). These are not going to be exactly the same as the previous ones, but I think that the overall picture should be close. I'm actually using the line-drive % to get a better idea of the individual player BABIP numbers.
Today is some offense - tomorrow, pitching.

For quick reference:
C: Ramon Hernandez - .267/.333/.437, 15 HR
1B: Kevin Millar - .263/.355/.416, 13 HR
2B: Brian Roberts - .285/.370/.430, 12 HR
3B: Melvin Mora - .268/.336/.402, 13 HR
SS: Luis Hernandez - .245/.279/.309, 2 HR
LF: Luke Scott - .269/.367/.511, 26 HR
CF: Adam Jones - .269/.327/.464, 19 HR
RF: Nick Markakis - .297/.365/.500, 25 HR
DH: Aubrey Huff - .273/.336/.447, 18 HR
C: Guillermo Quiroz - .237/.288/.344, 3 HR
1B/3B: Scott Moore - .258/.337/.451, 12 HR
OF: Jay Payton - .273/.319/.403, 5 HR
OF: Tike Redman - .269/.317/.372, 3 HR
UTIL: Brandon Fahey - .246/.304/.309, 2 HR

Total: .269/.337/.427, 789 runs, 4.9 runs / game.

C: Ramon Hernandez - Projected: .268/.328/.425, 412 AB, 22 2B, 1 3B, 14 HR, 34 BB, 61 K
I say it should be more like .267/.333/.437, 412 AB, 23 2B, 1 3B, 15 HR, 38 BB, 63 K. He has a solid walk rate and I think some of his power should come back.

1B: Kevin Millar - .260/.352/.411, 407 AB, 22 2B, 0 3B, 13 HR, 56 BB, 74 K
He hit line-drives all over the place so a line of .263/.355/.416 seems more in line. He is still good at taking a walk, but the average and power aren't there anymore. He would make a great bench player, but is no longer a good starter at 1B.

2B: Brian Roberts - .285/.366/.423, 585 AB, 37 2B, 4 3B, 12 HR, 73 BB, 85 BB
I think that he could add a couple doubles and some walks for .285/.370/.430.

3B: Melvin Mora - .267/.332/.398, 476 AB, 22 2B, 1 3B, 13 HR, 43 BB, 85 K
I'm not sure why everyone's walk rates are lower, but .268/.336/.402 seems like Mora's 2008. I don't think he can be a starter in 2009.

SS: Luis Hernandez - .243/.283/.304, 391 AB, 14 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 17 BB, 56 K
Since the glove hasn't even been that good in spring training, I hope that he (gets lucky and) beats this projection. They guy just plain can't hit. He may walk into an extra HR, but I don't think he'll walk quite this much. .245/.279/.309.

LF: Luke Scott - .267/.355/.492, 406 AB, 28 2B, 4 3B, 18 HR, 53 BB, 91 K
I'm looking for more of everything, as I think he'll get more playing time. Houston is bad for left-handed power so I'm thinking more along the lines of .269/.367/.511, 506 AB, 36 2B, 4 3B, 26 HR, 75 BB, 110 K, 3 SB

CF: Adam Jones - .269/.325/.451, 457 AB, 24 2B, 4 3B, 17 HR, 35 BB, 115 K
This is for Jones in Seattle - a pitcher's park. Moving to Camden I think he'll get a bit more playing time, and produce a bit more. Something like .269/.327/.464, 475 AB, 28 2B, 4 3B, 19 HR, 38 BB, 115 K. The plate discipline isn't there yet, but he does have some power. 25 HR wouldn't be terribly surprising.

RF: Nick Markakis - .295/.360/.487, 589 AB, 38 2B, 3 3B, 23 HR, 58 BB, 99 K
Markakis is the real deal in right field. That line is only a small improvement over 2007, but I'm expecting a little more. .297/.365/.500, 610 AB, 43 2B, 3 3B, 25 HR, 63 BB, 95 K, 12 SB.

DH: Aubrey Huff - .276/.341/.451, 513 AB, 31 2B, 1 3B, 18 HR, 48 BB, 81 K
His LD% wasn't great, but I do agree with the increase in HR. .273/.336/.447.

Bench: For the bench guys I decreased the AB totals to fit into a reasonable team number.

C: Guillermo Quiroz - .237/.288/.369, 166 AB, 9 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 9 BB, 37 K
One less HR drops it to .237/.288/.344.

1B/3B: Scott Moore - .245/.320/.431, 275 AB, 15 2B, 1 3B, 13 HR, 30 BB, 88 K
Moore hit very well in AAA last year (in a hitter's park) so .258/.337/.451 makes sense with his high LD% and the low HR/FB rate he had in the majors last year.

OF: Jay Payton - .272/.312/.397, 245, 13 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 13 BB, 26 K
Payton should face lefties more this year so a small bump to .273/.319/.403.

OF: Tike Redman - .271/.321/.365, 260 AB, 12 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR, 17 BB, 27 K
Trading a touch more power for some average yields .269/.317/.372

UTIL: Brandon Fahey - .242/.309/.312, 272 AB, 9 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR, 24 BB, 45 K
Fahey hits the ball on the ground too much for much power, and I'm not sold on such a high walk rate. .246/.304/.309.

Team totals: .269/.337/.427, 5600 AB, 316 2B, 30 3B, 169 HR, 544 BB, 977 K

Using the Runs Created formula: 5600 * .337 * .427 / 1.02 (<- for the over-estimation effect) gives 789 runs scored or 4.9 runs / game.

The average line in the American League last year was .271/.338/.423, and 4.9 runs / game. The slightly above average slugging percentage, along with an average OBP yields a pretty good run scored number. Just using the projections (though adding a few AB to Luke Scott) yields 4.8 runs / game, mostly because of the lower SLG. Perhaps I am looking too much at the HR/FB numbers, but I don't think any power projection of mine is too high. Scott can replace Tejada, and upgrading from Patterson to Jones should make up for the small drop-offs elsewhere. The power should be up (I'm hoping). Baseball Prospectus isn't included in the projections, as far as I know, and they're down on the offense (.262/.329/.414 - 748, 4.6 / game). They have tended to undercount the various players on the team in the past so maybe a happy medium? 4.75 runs / game - 770 total? We'll see who's closer at year end. The main difference may be the at bat totals. If the injury bug doesn't hit the offense too hard (mainly the outfielders, as that's where the drop-off is largest) then I think I will be close.
Read more ...

So Many Arms, So Little Time

Apparently, the Orioles are doing some scouting of Bryan Corey, a Red Sox reliever. If he's released by Boston then he might me an interesting arm to bring aboard. Even though he is 34 years old, he was very effective in AAA last year: 2.6 BB/9, 8.9 K/9, 0.8 HR/9. It does appear to be in a pitcher's league, though not in too much of a pitcher's park. A low 90s fastball and a quality change-up allow Corey to be effective against left-handed hitters. The O's bullpen is already pretty full, so I don't know where he would fit in. If he would accept playing in AAA for a while then I think it wouldn't hurt anything to take a flyer on him. At least it further shows that MacPhail knows how to build a pen. Read more ...

Billionaires Cry Poor

"I don't want these teams in general to forget who subsidizes a lot of them, and it's the Yankees, the Red Sox, Dodgers, Mets. I would prefer if teams want to target the Yankees that they at least start giving some of that revenue sharing and luxury tax money back. From an owner's point of view, that's my point."
--Hank Steinbrenner

I don't have many issues with the revenue sharing system - it helps to balance the playing field overall. I don't think we'll ever see a salary cap in baseball, and that may not be a bad thing. The main problem is that some teams (like Florida) actually spend less on their team payroll than they get from revenue sharing. The richer teams are actually paying the Marlins to beat them - that shouldn't happen. A salary floor would solve that problem. I haven't done even close to the research necessary on the subject (or as much as many others have done), but I think that requiring teams to use all of the revenue sharing that they receive on the team, or all of their total profits (sharing + tickets + etc. - payroll - stadium - etc) in order to continue receiving the sharing money, would be beneficial to the sport. If this went along with a restructuring of the player compensation system (6 years of team control, 3 years of arbitration, etc.) that would be excellent, though I doubt the player's union is too keen on that now. As it is, teams pay for a player's best years (say, age 24-30) while getting their decline phase (31-36) on the free-agent market. The young players are therefore payed less then they deserve first, and then more then they deserve later. It's starting to lead to problems as teams are figuring this out a locking their young stars up early, drying up the free-agent pool and thus increasing the prices for lack of supply. Baseball is in a period of unprecedented prosperity, and something is going to have to be done about the fair distribution of that money sooner or later. Read more ...

I'd Do It For Free

Some Spring Training Quotes:

"They're killing me. They're killing my family, my coaching staff, and the White Sox fans. I hope they care the way we care. I'm tired of seeing this shit every day."
--White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen on his team's spring training performance.

"I like my ballclub. Some people don't like it, but that's baseball. That's why people have different opinions. I am happy with what I have, and I feel good about this ballclub. Hopefully we can play the way we want to and win some ballgames. I think we should be in the pennant race."
--Guillen (Jesse Sanchez,

"Trust me, if this thing takes the wrong direction early on like it did last year, I swear to God, if it reaches that point, I'm going to Jerry and saying, 'Look, don't let my contract make it so I'm holding you hostage; we can talk about something different. You can rip up my contract and do a new one, less years. You won't have to pay me for this.'"

I don't think Ozzie's a good manager - I think that he thinks "small-ball" or "smart-ball", as he calls it, actually does a lot to help the team score runs. I don't have much confidence in the team's ability to make a race of it in the AL Central with the Indians and the Tigers. Guillen also tends to over exaggerate when he gets emotionally charged talking about his team. All that said, I think the third quote is cool. If it would actually turn out that way (and I think Guillen will have his chance to follow through) I would gain a new level of respect for him. People just don't do that kind of thing in sports. We may find out by the All-Star break. Read more ...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Said Earl Weaver - He's "lucky he's in f****** baseball."

Who remembered that as recently as 2003 Deivi Cruz (and his .269 OBP and 14 HR (career high!)) was the Orioles starting shortstop? I guess I blocked that one from my memory. Brook Fordyce was the #1 catcher and Tony Batista started at third that year and had 26 HR and 99 RBI to go along with his .270 OBP. Anyone still think RBI are important?

I found this out while doing a little bit of research. I read an article about how Terry Crowley shouldn't be the O's hitting instructor any more. His philosophy of an aggressive approach, and the poor results that followed, are usually cited as the reasoning behind a change. I completely agree that the offense hasn't been very good recently, and a better hitting instructor (one who preaches patience, working the count to get a good pitch to hit, and not swinging at every first pitch) should be found as soon as possible. Doing the same thing over and over again (keeping the Crow around) and expecting different results (an improved offense) is kid of crazy. The whole "aggressive approach" thing may not hold that much water, though. I went through the O's teams over past few years to check out the walk and strike-out rates of players that came over to the O's from other teams (and in some case, left again) or were here before and after the Crow. If Crowley is having a big impact on making the hitters more aggressive when they get here, it seems that such a thing would show up in their BB/PA and K/PA. I also took age into account, as players tend to walk more as the get older. There was no complicated math done - I just eye-balled the numbers to draw some conclusions. [I only picked players who were with the team for at least two years, which actually eliminated a lot of people.]

Ramon Hernandez: BB/PA improved a good deal but K/PA got a bit worse.

Kevin Millar: His BB/PA has been trending upward for years but it really went up after joining the O's. The K/PA is in the same neighborhood. He is getting older though, which is when this is expected.

Miguel Tejada: The BB/PA is about the same, but the K/PA (which had been improving) has started to regress some.

Corey Patterson: Corey's BB/PA is about what it was before, but he's been able to cut his K/PA a lot (if you can actually believe that).

Jeff Conine: The BB/PA worsened a little, but the K/PA got much better.

Javy Lopez: The BB/PA regressed a bit, but the K/PA was about the same.

BJ Surhoff (Crow became coach in his 4rd year in Baltimore): His BB/PA got worse (and then better after going to Atlanta and when he came back). The K/PA also got much worse at first, but imporved after going to Atlanta and coming back.

Tony Batista: As bad as he was for the O's, he actually improved both his BB/PA and his K/PA after joining the team.

Brook Fordyce: There was pretty much no change here.

Mike Bordick (Crow became coach in his 3rd year): His BB/PA dropped and his K/PA went up.

Delino DeShields: BB/PA went up with only a small increase in K/PA.

David Segui: Segui's BB/PA and K/PA both went up a good deal.

Albert Belle: His BB/PA was about the same, but he cut down his K/PA.

Cal Ripken Jr (Crow became coach in his 19th year): Cal's BB/PA and K/PA were both falling before 1999, but the BB/PA fell of a cliff and the K/PA went up. This was the end of the line for him, though.

Brady Anderson (Crow became coach in his 12th year): Like Millar, his BB/PA was already trending upward steadilly (about .010 BB/PA a year increase) which was not altered by Crowley. His K/PA only went up a little. [Speaking of Brady, Voros McCracken did some research to find the "flukiest" home run seasons ever (well, since 1920) - he compared a players career home run rate with their rate for their big season. Brady Anderson's 1996 50 HR explosion ranked #1. I remember being at school and hearing someone one the radio say that he had hit number 50. It was a very exciting time for the O's, as they made the playoffs that year (it was elementary school). At least they're not the Pirates, who haven't even had a winning season in 15 years (and that doesn't look like it'll end any time soon).]

Overall: This is certainly a small sample size, and it suffers by not identifying how much Crowley actually worked with each hitter. I would say that regular aging progressions are more responsible for the increased BB/PA and K/PA that is seen on average, and that while the Crow isn't particularly good at what he does, he isn't doing too much to harm the offense. It may just be a matter of getting better hitters on the team to improve the offense (duh). I would like a new hitting coach who may actually be a benefit, but I don't think it's that big of a deal. It is possible that Crowley's attitude contributed to guys like Jack Cust not being comfortable here and not getting much of a chance. If that's the case, then I think that that is the better reason to ship him out, as opposed to the bad offenses he has coached. Read more ...