Friday, December 28, 2012

The AL East conundrum.

           Overall, the AL East has been an incredibly difficult division to compete in over the last decade or two, and with the Jays having made huge splashes in acquiring roughly one third of the talent in the NL East, the Red Sox signing two more catchers, and the Yankees resigning some of the most important pieces from their post season run last year, while letting two other pieces walk away without so much as a finger raised by Cashman, one would be forced to assume that the division has changed some this year.

           The division has changed significantly; there is no baseball mind who would argue that the landscape in the AL East is changing for 2013. Not necessarily the standings though. Many analysts are still painting the Yanks as a 1st place team, despite losing Russell Martin, Nick Swisher, and letting Rafael Soriano walk away. I don’t know exactly how accurate that is, Martin is an excellent backstop, both for his framing abilities and the fact that he brings some power and on base percentage to the equation that many replacements wouldn’t offer. Francisco Cervelli will be a fine replacement, offering less power but similar defense as well as the ability to play third base if need be. Chris Stewart has a pretty light bat and while he’s cited as a defensive specialist, that is a tag given to him more due to his light hitting than his actual (and slightly dubious) defensive abilities. Austin Romine is the biggest wildcard of the three, having very little major league experience. He projects to have a weaker than average bat at the position, but provide solid defense. Swisher is perhaps the hardest of the three to replace in earnest. Ichiro Suzuki will replace him in right field, but Swisher provided a balanced approach between average defense, above average power, and high on base percentage, Ichiro’s game hinges on his potentially gold glove worthy fielding, his speed on the base paths, and his unbelievably high contact rate at the plate. Soriano, who stepped in to replace an injured Mariano Rivera was largely expendable however. That is not to say that someone of Soriano’s particular skill set is not valuable to the Yankees, but because of their otherwise very strong bullpen and the number of cheap middle innings relievers, moving everyone up one spot in the depth chart would not hinder the Yankees in a practical sense. With plenty of time to acquire a more powerful outfield bat to help rest the light hitting Brett Gardner and Suzuki and/or a game changing catcher the Yanks certainly remain a very dangerous team despite the turnover.

           The Red Sox have spent half of last year and the bulk of this offseason retooling the entire team, from trading Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, and Carl Crawford to the Dodgers for several pieces and salary relief, to their recent trade for Joel Hanrahan the Red Sox have shown no particular sentiment toward their own players. This may well play to their benefit; the Sox have retooled well so far, having acquired yet another catcher, and potentially will finalize their deal with Mike Napoli soon. The Sox have a potentially very powerful rotation, despite last year’s utter failings. Jon Lester and Clay Bucholtz are both extremely good pitchers, whether they showed it last year or not. Combining their talents with the overall value of their lineup the Red Sox should be notably more competitive than they were one year ago.

           The Orioles have made almost no moves this year, and the kind of statistical anomaly that allowed them to reach the postseason last year doesn’t seem as likely without making any real push at another piece or two. Letting Mark Reynolds walk away isn’t immediately addition by subtraction. His strikeout rate was atrocious, but he does put the ball in the seats and that’s not a bad talent to have. He’s a hack 3rd baseman for sure, but he can handle first just fine, and there’s certainly value in a player like Reynolds. That said, the Orioles can still make moves this offseason, and may surprise me, but I’d call for them to regress given the improbability of their record last year. Having scored only 7 more runs than they allowed for the year while winning 93 games. That’s some serious statistical outlier material there. If the O’s don’t make some serious headway on that run differential, I could see them sliding back to being a .500 team this year.

           The Rays haven’t made any great strides forward either, though trading James Shields and Wade Davis isn’t exactly as devastating as some have made it seem. While Tampa did give up an exceptional starter they are also a pitching machine, and seem to churn out starters on an annual basis. The team could use a bit more pop, and losing BJ Upton isn’t going to help them there, but with such a strong starting rotation I find it hard to believe that they’ll fall out of contention early. The Rays may be looking at 3rd in the division again this year, but it should be awfully difficult to count them out.

           The Blue Jays are, well, better. They’ve traded for roughly half of last year’s Marlins team, RA Dickey, and signed Melky Cabrera all in about a month. Between Dickey and Buehrle their rotation has instantly become very solid while they have also added two (potentially) very strong multi tooled players in Jose Reyes and Cabrera. The questions surrounding Cabrera’s PED use give me some pause in saying that he will be a very effective addition, but even as a league average bat he will provide solid defense in any of the three outfield spots, though his range is probably best suited to a corner. Reyes, while a very capable shortstop, is an injury risk. That certainly won’t be made better by playing 82 games on the fake turf of the Rogers Center. The Jays have a chance to really take a step forward within the division, I won’t argue for even a moment that their rotation isn’t better now, but their other additions are questionable to me. I don’t think that they have the right pieces in place to be a real postseason run, but they should make the AL East a more interesting division for the next few years, especially if this is how Alex Anthopoulos plans to really move the team forward over the next few years.

           As per Bob Dylan, “The times; they are a changing.” I see the division shaking out to still see the Yankees in the playoffs, whether the division or a wildcard I don’t know. The Red Sox I feel will miss the post season again, while the Blue Jays make a push for a playoff berth. The Orioles are poised to regress significantly, while the Rays are a serious question mark to me, They’re worse right now than they were last season, but they have a track record of being surprisingly competitive regardless of the moves they make/miss. It’s certainly a different world when the Yankees are concerned with their spending and the Blue Jays have transformed their team by taking on large contracts.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Good Idea/Bad Idea: The Great Closer Debate

Yep, two in a day.  I'm on fire!  And if I were, I'd have to call a Fireman.  And in baseball, the term "Fireman" refers to a closer, or a shut down reliever.  Are there any on the ballot for this year?  You betcha! Let's take a look at the controversial idea of Lee Arthur Smith being in the Hall of Fame.

Most of the decision about Lee Arthur has centered around what most people consider to be how to judge relief pitchers.  Currently in the Hall of Fame, there are  5.  Hoyt Wilhelm, Bruce Sutter, Rollie Fingers, Dennis Eckersley and Goose Gossage.  All of them probably deserve to be inducted.  The question people have is does Lee Arthur belong in that group?  A lot of it also comes down to how we plan to use the save stat.  As I've opined on here before, it is a terrible stat.  And Lee Smith led the world in saves until Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera came along and blew his number out of the water.  So how does the argument shake out for and against Lee Arthur?

Good Idea: The fact is that saves are a bad stat and it is very easy to accumulate them over the course of a long career.  But Lee Arthur was a great reliever.  He has a higher K/9 than any other reliever in Cooperstown and the best HR/9 as well.  It's tough to do a full comp on him with other relievers in the hall because there are only the five of them and the RP position has evolved greatly in recent times.  While saves may not be a great stat, he did gain almost 500 which was the most for a long time.  He was a great reliever that shut down offenses.

Bad Idea: He struck out a lot of batters, true, but he also had the fewest innings when compared to the HoF relievers except for Sutter, fewer strikeouts too.  He also walked a lot of guys and had a mediocre WHIP, almost 1.3.  In fact, he never had a season where his WHIP was below 1.1, which means that teams had a lot of opportunities to score against him.  It's a testament that he was able to even get all those saves with the baserunners he was allowing, but the fact remains that he was allowing them at a fairly high clip.  Good reliever, worthy to be part of a good team's pen, but not Hall of Fame worthy.

Verdict: It's hard to do a calculation for relievers because there aren't that many in the Hall of Fame.  But, for what it's worth, his score came to 126, which was 2nd best for a reliever to Eckersley.  I don't know what has kept him out, if it's just that stuff I was talking about at the top about closers and relievers and how effective they are, etc.  I would put him in, especially since it tells the story of how relievers have evolved over the years.  Think about it, the best reliever of the pre-closer era was Wilhelm, and then we had guys like Fingers and Sutter and Gossage give way to guys like Eck and Smith, which led to guys like Billy Wagner, Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera to be great closers.  And it isn't like he is an indefensible choice, like some people currently in the Hall are.  He's a good choice and should be inducted.

Good Idea/Bad Idea: Riding a Trammell

Next up on our tour of the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot is Detroit's own Alan Trammell.  Trammell is one of those that always seems to fall in between the cracks for the most part.  A lot of people forget he's on the ballot.  The ones that don't, mostly don't think that he belongs.  Most of them probably think that since Lou Whitaker, Trammell's double play partner, isn't in the Hall, then Trammell shouldn't be either, and you really can't think of one without the other.  He only had about 36% last year, so I doubt he'll ever make it (this is his 13th ballot), so there must be no case for him, right?

Well, lets look a little closer:

Good Idea: Trammell was a great defensive SS, with a +76 rating for his career from FG.  He played his whole career with the Detroit Tigers which means he spent it in a big park (Tigers Stadium was huge).  For a SS, he had a 352 career OBP, which is fairly good.  He had a wRC+ of 111, which is good for a SS.  He seems to fit the profile of a HoF SS, and was seen as the team leader of a good decade for the Tigers.

Bad Idea: Remember when I said Rock's stats looked just OK?  Well, the same thing applies here for Trammell.  While his stats are very good, there isn't anything that really jumps out of the page at me.  He was a league average hitter or slightly above for most of his career, which I suppose is good for a SS, but not for a HoF bat.  If he were to make the HoF with his offensive numbers, he'd have to be an Ozzie Smith level defender, and he isn't quite there.  I love Alan Trammell, he was one of my grandfather's favorites, but a HoF player he is not.

Verdict: Not really.  Trammell doesn't look that great against other SS that actually belong in the HoF, and that is a small and exclusive class.  I can see why people would vote for him, a lot of his rate stats look like Yount's, and Dave Cameron makes a compelling case for him at FG using Yount as a comp, but Yount's career is much better on the whole because he had more power.  Yount played 600 more games and switched positions to help his team, but he still was at least a decent MLB player.  His worst years (based on WAR) were .9 (18 years old), .3 (19), 1.1 (35) WAR each. Not great numbers, but decent given his age at each season.  Trammell's were -0.6 (19), -1.1 (38) and 0 (36) respectively.  Yount at his worst (early on in his career mind you) was a replacement level player but never really cost his team with his play.  Trammell at his worst cost his team 2 or 3 wins in his career.  So, their peaks are similar, but Yount was able to maintain better than Trammell, which makes Yount a HoF player, and Trammell not a HoF player.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Good Idea/Bad Idea:It Was a Big Rock

Welcome to a Christmas Edition of my Hall of Fame Good Idea/Bad Idea series.  The player I want to look at today is none other than a man named for a certain type of white powder.  No, his nickname wasn't snow, it was Rock.  That's right, we're looking at Rock Raines.

Before we get started, let me say that Raines was probably undervalued during his time because he wasn't very flashy.  I have a feeling like if he played today he would be looked at differently.  And I'm not just talking about the cocaine thing.

Good Idea: Rock stole a lot of bases, but did so at an extremely high rate.  He stole over 800 bases at an almost 85% rate, which is nearly unheard of.  He also got on base at a 385 clip and has the best rate for any player that has more than 15 years in the bigs.  He had a 126 wRC+ and a 361 wOBA, which are pretty good numbers, especially for a guy that didn't hit for a ton of power.  Certainly a better choice than Andre Dawson IMO.  His biggest comp, obviously, is going to be to Rickey Henderson.  Lets look at them really quick:

Raines- 85% success rate at steals, 126 wRC+, 361 wOBA, 385 OBP
Rickey- 81% success rate at steals, 132 wRC+, 372 wOBA, 401 OBP

Rickey had a little higher in most stats, but it was pretty close.  Rickey was more powerful, no doubt, but otherwise were fairly equal hitters.  If Rickey's in, Rock should be in.

Bad Idea: All of Rock Raines' stats seem to be...ok.  If he were to be elected, he would be in a class with left fielders.  He would be included in a class with Ted Williams, Ralph Kiner and Carl Yastrzemski.  He doesn't quite belong with those guys.  He might be better than Brock and a couple of others, but that doesn't mean he belongs.  He had a lot of PA, but still didn't get 3000 hits, or 1000 RBI.  I know he was a leadoff hitter, but you'd think he'd have more RBI just due to the fact he played over 20 years.  Want a better stat?  Fine.  After 20+ years, he was only worth about 70 WAR.  Which is around 3.5 a year.  It's good, but not that great.  Sorry, no dice.

Verdict: No.  He gets a -39 on my scale, absolutely the lowest for a LF.  Sorry Rock, you were an exciting player, but not an all time great.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Does Schilling's Bloody Sock make him a HoFer?

My father and I discuss baseball frequently.  There are quite a few times that I agree with him.  This is one issue that we strongly disagree over.

Curt Schilling is probably the last big name starting pitcher that I wanted to look at for this upcoming ballot.  What Jack Morris and Andre Dawson represent to the traditionalists, Bert Blyleven and Curt Schilling represent for the SABR crowd.  Here are the viewpoints as I see them:

Good Idea: Curt Schilling was a very underrated pitcher in his career.  He struck out a ton of batters and didn't walk many which gives him the best K/BB in history.  He had a better WHIP than Clemens, and struck batters out at a faster rate than the Rocket.  Rocket may have been more valuable (due to the innings difference, and granted there's a big gap) but Schill was just as good, if not better, in the innings he threw.  His win total isn't high, but that can be attributed to a lot of things, teams with poor run support (esp after the WS run with the Phillies in 93), bad bullpen (Wild Thing Williams was a terrible closer), or just random bad luck.  He's a great choice, and shouldn't have much trouble making it in.

Bad Idea: He didn't throw a ton of innings, only won 216 games and was never really the best pitcher in the league.  His ERA is a tad too high, and was really prone to the long ball.  The innings thing is huge I think.  He was a closer for a bit early on, and again after that injury in the 04 playoffs, but it does hurt his overall value.  One of the big things a starter needs to be able to do is throw a good amount of innings.  A bunch of 5 inning starters hurts a rotation and a team because that increases wear and tear on the bullpen pitchers.  He was a very good pitcher, especially in the post season, but he isn't quite good enough.  Not an all time great.  Sorry.

Verdict: Schilling gets in my Hall of Fame easily, with a score believe it or not nearly equal to Nolan Ryan's.  Now, before everyone jumps on me and thinks I'm saying that Schill was as great as Ryan, take a step back and lets look at them:

Ryan struck out a large amount of batters, but also walked about half as many.  Which gives a slight advantage to Schilling I would think.  Ryan has a better raw ERA, but when you correct it for the home park (remember all the years that Ryan pitched in the big ol Astrodome?) Schilling comes out ahead, but not by much.  Ryan has more wins, but pitched 27 years and averaged 14 a year.  Schilling averaged 13 a year.  Ryan also has more losses a year than Schilling, 13 to 9.  Ryan beats him handily in innings, but the quality is roughly equal to Schillings when you factor everything in.  Schilling doesn't have the no-hitters that Ryan has, but other than that Schilling is Ryan's equal in almost everything but innings (which helps a lot of the non rate stats like K's).  He belongs in without a question.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Good Idea/Bad Idea- Does Morris Make It?

Ya know, in recent years the HoF has taken quite a hit to its credibility due to a couple of the writers' newer picks.  Jim Rice and Andre Dawson are probably the poster children for that lack of respect, with the latter being moreso.  I have a couple of theories as to why this may be:

1) Some of the older writers are trying to revolt against SABR stats, which clearly indicate that some of these guys are not that great, again Dawson especially.

2) More writers are going against looking at numbers and going by how much they remember a player.  Hence why Rock Raines doesn't get much respect (always second fiddle to Rickey), and why Morris is still on the ballot after all this time (That one game man.)

I believe it's a combination of both.  So, lets talk about a pick that will probably happen because the writers are getting dumber every year.....Jack Morris.

I can't believe part of me is going to defend putting him in the HoF...I'm gonna have to take a long hot shower after this post...

Good Idea: Morris definitely was considered a top pitcher of his era (pre SABR era).  He's a 2 time 20 game winner, was on a few WS winning teams, threw almost 4000 innings in his career.  He's a big game pitcher, going 7-4 with a 3.8 ERA in the playoffs.  And hey, that one game against Smoltz, instant classic bro!  His career stats may be a bit depressed because he hung on for a while, but he should be at least considered.

Bad Idea:  Yeah, definitely feel like crap after posting that.  Wins for pitchers are stupid, but I'm of the belief that for a whole career they are slightly less stupid.  Not much, but still slightly less so.  However, Morris' career ERA is 3.90.  That is incredibly high.  One or two years don't inflate a career ERA that much.  In fact, in the last 7 years of his career he ONCE had an ERA under 3.50, and one other time had an ERA under 4.00!  That is crappy to a whole extra level.  His career WHIP is 1.30.  Do you realize that league average is usually around 1.30?  57 pitchers last year had a better WHIP than he did!  That's the highest for any pitcher that would be in the HoF from his era.  Morris' ERA would also be the highest ever, from any era, inducted.  There are zillions of reasons to not vote for Morris.

Verdict: Absolutely not!  He is NOT a great pitcher, and I don't care who you compare him to!  He doesn't belong, and I don't blame people for losing respect for the BBWAA if they vote him in.  The Hall is the institution, and cannot do anything about a player being inducted other than what the committee says.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Good Idea/ Bad Idea: Piazza Delivery?

There's no point in doing a summary on whether Bonds or Clemens belong in the HoF without looking at steroids.  It's a waste of time because the answer is yes.  So, lets look at a guy that I've heard some debate about in Mike Piazza.

I was kinda shocked that there was debate about him.  I know he was mentioned in Radomski's book, but I don't really trust him.

Good Idea: When thinking of Mike Piazza, the term "Best Offensive Catcher in History" is usually right behind.  As it should be.  His 141 wRC+ blows away any other catcher's number, including Bench and Fisk.  He also trumps all other HoF catchers in: Slugging, OPS, HR, ISO, and wRAA.  And a lot of the other stats (OBP, wOBA, AVG, etc) he may not be at the top, but he's pretty close to it.  I don't see a reason why Piazza should NOT be in the Hall of Fame.

Bad Idea:  Anyone else remember Piazza trying to play defense behind the plate?  It was a comedy of errors.  In fact, his TZ rating is the worst for any HoF catcher, as is his Fld+Pos score (which takes into account the difficulty of the position in that era).  He was a great offensive catcher, but was not a defensive one and that is probably more important for his position.  If he were a LF, we wouldn't be having this discussion.  He doesn't belong.

Verdict: Mikey gets the highest score ever for a catcher.  Better than Bench, better than Berra.  His offense was that good.  Best offensive catcher in history.  That's all the writers need to think of when it comes to voting for Piazza.  Best.  Offensive.  Catcher.  In.  History.  Put him in.

The only question should be: Dodgers cap or Mets Cap.  I pick Mets cap, mostly because of this one moment:

Probably his biggest HR of his career.  It was a glorious moment and I was glad I got to watch it happen.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Good Idea Bad Idea-Sammy Sosa Edition

Well, with one half of the HR Derby of 98 looked at, lets look at Smiling Sammy.

Most of you (like the one person who read my McGwire post) probably think that I hate Sosa, because he battled Mac for the HR record.  Well, while I'm not the biggest fan of his, I certainly don't hate him.  I'm more indifferent towards him.  I thought he was a good player, and certainly would be good in a lineup with Mac.  I did think his whole smiling act seemed phony, but thought it was good for the game.  He definitely should NOT have been the MVP of the league in 98, but the writers are dumb when it comes to MVP voting sometimes (Morneau, Mo Vaughn, Anytime a closer has been voted, Maury Wills, etc).  Anyway, here is my schizophrenic view of whether Sosa should or should not be inducted into the HoF.

Good Idea: Sammy, of course, is one of 7 now to have over 600 HR in his career.  He was also one of the most dominant HR hitters of all time from 98-02.  I don't think people realize that he was still pretty good in years before 98, where he was usually a 30-40 HR hitter, and in his younger years was a really good fielder. He carried a 370 career wOBA and a career 123 wRC+, both really good numbers that might indicate how offensive the environment was during the 90s.  And, for a power hitter, he carried a good number of total hits (2400+, Mac wasn't even close to that).  He was a premier player during his era and should be recognized as such.

Bad Idea: Disregarding steroids, Sosa was an OK ball player.  People think Mac was a free swinger, yet his OBP was 50 points higher than Sosa's, and his wOBA was 45 points higher.  That's a huge difference, and those that want to compare the two, you can't.  Sosa struck out more often (23% of the time) than Mac, which I know doesn't mean much, but also walked much much less frequently than Mac did (17% for Mac, 9% for Sosa).  What does that mean?  It means that Sosa was much more of a free swinger than Mac was.  So I don't see the comparison between the two.

Looking at it from a not Big Mac perspective, his 123 wRC+ is good, but for the best HoF RF. it's well below their average of 141.  His wOBA is good, but a typical HoF RF will have one of 399.  His career OPS is 878, which is like Ryan Ludwick's last year, and that's close to the OPS for a HOF RF, but it's inflated due to his high slugging and terrible OBP.  Are you starting to see what I'm getting at here?  He was a good player that played for a long time, and did one thing really well (Hit flat footed HR in Wrigley), but not good enough.  Sorry, he's out.

Verdict: I am kinda shocked at how well he scored, but I guess he does comp well with the guy he tied.  He scored as high as Reggie Jackson, who is someone I think is Sosa's best comparison. Both were free swingers, both really only hit HR and didn't provide much else on offense.  Sosa had a bit more power, Reggie could work counts better.  So, if you disregard steroids with Sammy, and see my point on steroids with Mac in my previous article, and you think Reggie is a HoF hitter, then you'd have to agree with Sosa.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Good Idea Bad Idea: a Hall-Mac Card

You can always count on me to drum up an awful pun.

I'm a McGwire fan.  No amount of steroids or self righteous angst from the writers can make me forget the joy that he brought me in 98 when he hit 70 HR, nor should it.  But, I'm not here to debate whether or not steroids should preclude someone from induction.  I'm here to determine if someone is statistically viable for the HoF.

Good Idea: The man almost single handedly brought people back to baseball and the sport to prominence.  Ripken's streak started it, but I believe that brought back long time fans.  Mac brought people that were new fans to baseball.  The sight of his swing resulting in HR after HR and hitting over 500 ft is incredible to me.
Statistically, people point to his low batting average.  While it's true that he only hit about 260, most of his career that was above league average.  More importantly, since batting average is a terrible stat, he OBP'd 394 for his career, and had an OPS+ of 163.  Think about that for a minute.  For his entire 15 year career, he was roughly better than 63% of the league according to this one decent but crude calculation.  He also had a wOBA of 415 and a wRC+ of 157.  That wRC+ is 11th all time, and 4th best for a right handed hitter, behind Hornsby, Pujols, and Foxx.  He's probably the best pure power right handed hitter of all time, as evidenced by his 325 ISO which trails only Babe Ruth on the all time list.  Put him in.

Bad Idea: We all know that Mac used steroids.  We know that his numbers may be slightly tainted.  I do question how much effect roids have on a player's stats, but also recognize that they may help you play through minor injuries more than you would have been able to without juicing.  It's a tough call and if the writers say they aren't equipped enough to answer those questions then I don't have much of a problem with him not being in the Hall.  Statistically, he was a poor defender at the easiest spot on the diamond, and was never a good baserunner.  Also, the low BA does suggest that he was almost an all or nothing hitter, as his BABIP in his career was 255 (well below league average).  He struck out 20% of the time and only had about 7600 PA.  His career wasn't that long due to injuries (which possibly could be tied to steroids), and there are just too many questions surrounding his numbers to put him in.

Verdict: I'm too biased, so I'm going to let my friend Foment come up with a verdict.  However, I will say that he scores at roughly the same level as a Johnny Mize type player on my list, who was inducted by the VC and should have been in by the writers.  I believe that without roids he'd be in, and I honestly believe he had the talent and smarts to play well.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Hall of Rage

OK, the new player in the Hall of Fame is Deacon White.

Do I agree with this pick?  In a word, no.  I don't think any of the players on the ballot were that worthy this year, and I think we've got enough of the pre 1800 guys in already, although I think we probably shouldn't have as many of them as we do, maybe in a separate part where we honor the initial greats that gave way to the Ty Cobbs and Babe Ruths and Hank Aarons of the world.

Deacon White was a catcher and third baseman (which he was more of) in the very early years of baseball.  He wasn't too bad, an OPS+ of 127, but had an OBP of 346 and a SLG of 392.  He averaged roughly a HR a year, which was probably average back then.  In fact, I'd imagine that all of his stats are fairly typical for a decent hitter in his time.  His 127 OPS+ is like 200th all time (no joke).

That's the thing, when I look at his numbers, he looks mostly like a typical guy from his time and nothing really stands out for me.  Where is the dominance?  Where is the greatness?  He was a fine player in his day, but so were guys like Harold Baines and Fred Lynn.  Is anyone arguing for them to be inducted?  I hope not.

This guy cannot be an all time great.  This is why I've been slaving over the data for half a year looking at every Hall of Fame Player.  We've got to strive to be better than that.

I've read plenty of articles that say he was a superstar of the 1870s.  The venerable Bill James even thinks he should be inducted.  But, lets be real here for a moment.  The 1870s were a long time ago.  I agree that the Hall has a duty to honor the past.  But is he one of the greatest of all time?  I don't think he is.  He definitely has his place as an important person in the history of baseball, but not as a legendary player.  If you do, good, I just think there are better players that aren't in the Hall yet.

Edit: If the HoF puts him in as a Pioneer or something along those lines, then I fully agree with that decision.

Do You Ever Feel Like a Plastic BAGS?

With one career Astro down, lets look at the other one in Jeff Bagwell.  I know it’s going to sound strange to hear, but I had the utmost respect for Bags when he was playing.  Despite the fact that it seemed like he carried a bat designed specifically to torture the Cardinals pitching, he was a classy player.

So lets take a look at Mr. Bagwell:

Good Idea: Bagwell was the premiere first baseman in the NL in the 90s (until Mac showed up at least).  Despite playing a long time in the power suppressing Astrodome, he managed to rack up 449 career HR in 7797 AB for an average of 1 HR every 17.4 AB.  For reference, that’s better than Mel Ott, Joe DiMaggio and Ernie Banks, as well as lots of other HoF bats.  We’re talking great power numbers here.   He was a solid baserunner (6.5 BsR from Fangraphs-not huge, but good for a big guy like him), great defender (59.1 Tzr) and of course was a great hitter (405 wOBA and 149 wRC+ and 297 AVG for those who care about those things).  He played 15 years, and only once did he have a full season that is less than 4 WAR, which was his second to last year.  That means he only once had a mediocre full season, and played nearly every day for those 15 years.  There is no statistical reason for which he shouldn’t be inducted.

Bad Idea: Bags did play in the steroid era, so all of his numbers and especially the power numbers are suspect.  His rate stats are beautiful, but his raw totals are small due to playing only 15 years, and him being hurt for the last few of his career.  So it’s hard to endorse a power hitting first baseman that only had 449 HR, when some other guys like Gehrig, Foxx and Musial are first basemen in the HoF and all had many more HR than Bags did.  Part of it is the Astrodome robbing him of some, but he’s also 37th in SLG, below guys like Carlos Delgado and Lance Berkman who were both contemporaries of his.  He’s good, but maybe not quite good enough for induction.

Verdict: I don’t care about supposed steroid users.  Either they used (Mac, Palmeiro, Clemens, Bonds, Sosa) or they didn’t.  Yes, we don’t know and will never know for sure.  However, I don’t think it’s a bad thing to induct roid users.  The Hall is a place that remembers its history.  Do we really want to forget how much fun we had in the Summer of 98?  I sure don’t.  I had loads of fun, roids or not, and most of you did too.  If we aren’t going to induct the best of the best from that era (with mentioning the era on their plaques), then we induct no one.
Beyond that, Bags has a score of 183 on my calculator, which is no doubt automatic induction.  By my mark, that would make him the 4th best 1B in the Hall.  The only reason why he isn’t in is due to bullshit steroid speculation, which as you may be able to tell, I’m tired of.
Here’s what I propose for steroid users: If it’s known, put it on their plaque so future generations can judge them accordingly.  If there is no proof and only speculation, vote normally.  If a player is revealed as a steroid user after induction, set up a committee to vote on whether or not he should remain inducted.  If the consensus is No, then ceremoniously remove his plaque.  Otherwise, just vote like normal.  Please.  It’ll be less stressful on all of us.

And, it looks like there's a new player in the Hall.  I'll look closely at this guy next couple of days and get a report on him.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

David Wright, the Golden Boy in Blue and Orange.

There have been rumors of the Mets tossing out contract offers to David Wright trying to extend their 29 year old 3rd baseman. He had a great year offensively as most would expect. His power wasn’t exactly overwhelming, but he did have 21 knocks with a .306 batting average and a .391 OBP. The question I’m posing is, in Wright’s shoes, why/why not accept a solid offer from the Mets? The comparables are obvious with Ryan Zimmerman and Evan Longoria having both signed six year 100 million dollar extensions in recent memory. Both were however multiple years from free agency, and on winning franchises.
Wright is for better or worse, the face of the New York Mets for at least one more season. He does control how much longer he is part of that dumpster fire however, and could opt to take his show on the road after the season, possibly parking himself in a city where a .500 record isn’t a monumental achievement, but is instead a disappointment of the highest order. Hell, he’s already in a city that follows that mantra he just happens to be in the wrong borough. Wright has been almost as rock solid as a player can be, having only missed significant time once in his career. He also plays well above average defense at 3rd, which isn’t exactly amazing, but when coupled with his above average bat, and his solid pop makes Wright an incredible threat. Wright could very easily decline to talk contracts with the Mets until they show dedication to making the team competitive, or the season is over.
The debate for Wright will hinge squarely on how much he values the stability of the new contract vs the potential for a bigger contract with a contending team. Obviously the Yankees, Nationals, Tigers, and Rays are locked into long term 3rd base commitments, however the Dodgers, Phillies, Red Sox, Orioles, Angels, and White Sox could all be potential suitors for the impending free agent. Wright has stated his intention to play his entire career with the Mets, and that in and of itself is commendable, however he will be sacrificing money, and potentially his chance at winning a world series to play for the city’s junior team. Wright may also be somewhat burned by the fact that so much has been written about what he has stated as his preference to be private negotiations between him and the team. Some if not all of that may be the team jockeying to get the contract negotiations handled quickly, it may also be Wright’s agent trying to find a way to gain leverage with the team, this has only served to ruffle Wright’s feathers however, and may not positively impact the negotiations regardless of who has made the information public.
Ultimately I think Wright will resign with the Mets, though I question whether or not he would be willing to take less money over the life of the contract, or take significant deferrals to keep the annual spending limit more reasonable for the team and see them spend at another position of need. Wright would find himself a very lucrative contract on the open market, there’s no doubt there, but how much is enough from the team that he’s played with his whole career? Will Wright be more concerned with his pay check, or his team’s long term flexibility is yet to be seen, however Wright may be saying all the right things publically but is secretly preparing himself for the free agent market next season. the 7 year extension he’s reportedly seeking is certainly possible given his history of durability and reliable play but whether or not he’ll price himself out for his current team is ultimately a very real possibility. The Mets are not contenders right now and signing a few players long term may not be the correct path to take for a rebuilding team. If Wright takes a contract from the Mets I’d expect it to run longer than the 6 years his comparables have received given his proximity to free agency but I doubt that the Mets front office is smart enough to frontload the contract and may hamstring themselves down the road with an aging third baseman on a big money contract. 7 years, 120MM is certainly possible but that doesn’t leave the team with as much payroll flexibility as they need to compete.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Good Idea, Bad Idea-Biggio And The Hall of Fame

Wow, it’s been a while.  There’s practically dust on here it’s been so long since I’ve done a post.  But, enough of that, let’s get to what I know really well, the Hall of Fame.

Since we last spoke, I revamped my study and took many things into account when looking at each and every player in the HoF.  Not to toot my own horn, but I feel as if I am an expert in the field compared to others, mostly because I have studied the numbers a lot and dove very hard into the analysis of every player.

This ballot coming up is an exciting one.  Here are the first time eligible players on the 2013 HoF Ballot:
 Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Craig Biggio, Curt Schilling, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza, Kenny Lofton, David Wells, Julio Franco, Shawn Green, Steve Finley, Roberto Hernandez, Jeff Cirillo, Jose Valentin, Reggie Sanders, Jeff Conine, Jose Mesa, Royce Clayton, Bob Wickman, Ryan Klesko, Aaron Sele, Woody Williams, Rondell White, Mike Lieberthal, Tony Batista, Mike Stanton, Sandy Alomar Jr., Damian Miller, Todd Walker

Boy, are there some big names on that list.  And that is just the new guys.  Obviously, it’s an exercise in futility to go through each name to determine hall worthiness.  I plan on going over the first 7 guys on this ballot, along with some returning guys, before inductions are announced.

And, given the fact that there is currently an article on about him discussing his chances for the Hall, let’s start with Craig Biggio.

Go here to find his stats, both standard and advanced.

Good Idea: I’ll just get the big one out of the way, he had 3000 hits.  3060 hits to be exact.  He also had a good average, played multiple challenging positions (most famously catcher and second base).  As a second baseman, he had really good secondary abilities (good OBP and really really good SLG) so he was a top offensive second baseman in his time.  I’d probably say that, outside of Ryne Sandberg, I don’t think there was necessarily a better offensive second baseman.  Maybe Kent, and I’d probably give you that one, but he should have been playing first base most of his career.  It’s probably because of guys like Biggio and Sandberg and Kent that we have guys like Cano and Utley as big time hitters at second base.  He created a lot of runs, and did so at a pretty high frequency for a guy at secondbase and catcher.

Bad Idea: Why does everyone bring up the 3000 hits?  It’s a nice round number, but it took him 12000+ PAs to get there!  That’s a long time to get there, and it was pretty obvious his last few years that he was just trying to get to that number.  His OBP was good, but also 10 points below that of a HoF second baseman.  His career WAR compares nicely to 2B (despite being 4 fewer than typical), but he only had a few GREAT seasons (years with 5+ WAR), and one outstanding year (had a 9+ season once).  He was a really good player for a long period of time, but not a great player.

Verdict: In my new system of grading for the HoF, he would get a B against all second basemen, ranking just slightly ahead of Jackie Robinson.  When it comes down to it, Biggio created a lot of runs, played tough positions, and played a long time.  While I’m not fond of that last attribute, the other two are more important to me.  I’d gladly let Biggio into the Hall, from either a SABR or a traditional standpoint.  I just wouldn’t use “3000 hits!” as my opening line.

More to come soon folks.  This felt great.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Jason Giambi: Manager?

So Jason Giambi says he’s willing to hang up the spikes if he gets a crack at the manager’s office. It’s an interesting proposition to be sure, some will paint him as an oaf with a bat in his hands which I feel is a bit harsh, and others will question his lack of experience to wit there is no argument here. Something I truly believe is that the superstars have a harder time adjusting to the managers chair, they expect that others, like themselves, are able to just go out and “do it”. There are many players on major league rosters who must work tirelessly to earn their keep, and while Giambi made his mistakes, he also had significant gaps in his game and has made a reasonably successful transition to a bench role.

Giambi isn’t necessarily a student of the game in the truest sense, he was a masher who played adequate defense at first base. His struggles however are the things that could help him become an effective if not stellar manager. Having played under Joe Torre could even have taught him how not to use your bullpen. Giambi has played the part of the quiet leader for a while in his baseball career, and if he’s given the opportunity to manage he could bring the same stoic even handed approach to coaching. How much he understands about the more situational aspects of the game is debatable though, Jason may be more of a players manager, but given his background as a masher would he be one to recognize the occasional need for smallball plays? Bunting runners over, pinch hitting for the pitcher, etc wouldn’t necessarily be his strongest points, but if he’s seriously considering management he may have been quietly studying all of this for years.

I have trouble seeing a player like Giambi making the comment that he’d like to be given the opportunity to be a manager without having put some serious thought into it. Just because outwardly he’s not a brilliant baseball mind doesn’t mean that the cogs aren’t spinning inside. Former Yankees teammate Robin Ventura has successfully transitioned into the managerial position, though his White Sox missed the playoffs they did out perform expectations and it came down to the last few games of the year for them to fall out of the playoff picture. There has also been talk of former Oakland A’s teammate and current Yankee Eric Chavez developing an interest in becoming a manager. Chavez, I think, would make a better manager than Giambi, he’s had to battle a lot of injuries in his career, he’s a very well spoken player, and from what I have read he has been discussing tactics with Joe Girardi with some great frequency. For his part though, Giambi is a smarter man than the media may allow one to see, and I cannot believe he would make a push to become a manager if he weren’t fairly well prepared. The real question would be execution, and for that we’ll need to see if he gets the job.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Jeremy Guthrie's Next Contract

Trying to make sense out of Jeremy Guthrie is almost like trying to explain the color red to a blind man. Guthrie was drafted by the Mets, wouldn’t sign, drafted by the Pirates, wouldn’t sign, and finally is the 22nd pick of the 2002 draft. He couldn’t put it together in three short seasons with Cleveland, they give up on him and let him go to Baltimore where he promptly turns it on for two years, follows it up with an inexplicable stinker in ‘09. Has a great year after that, then a weaker, but still respectable year in 2011. They sent him to the Rockies for two effective pitchers in Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom. He was so bad that he was traded after ½ of a season for Jonathan Sanchez. He emerges as the replacement for Sanchez in the KC rotation and turns it on again.

It appears that Guthrie really flourishes when people give up on him. He can really turn it on, just concentrate on pitching, but not until he makes himself a burden first. He is a free agent after this season, and the market is thin on top flight pitchers. Guthrie was truly awful in the first ½ this season, just terrible, So much so that he was relegated to the bullpen to limit the damage he could do in a given week.  In all fairness, the time in Colorado was the worst he’s been for any extended stretch in his professional career, and a lot of it can be attributed to his home starts in Coors field, the thin air ruins the break of a curveball, and in 7 starts and 2 relief appearances at Coors this year, he gave up 14 home runs and 20 doubles over 41 and ⅔ innings. By comparison he’s made 8 starts at Kauffman Stadium this year and has given up 5 doubles, 3 homers, and pitched 12 & ⅓ more innings.

He is also a flyball pitcher, so that much cannot be excused, if you’re letting opposing hitters put the ball in the air in Coors field you may as well just let them put it in the seats and jog around the bases. All in all, the first ½ of this season could be considered a wash for Guthrie who was all but set up to fail from the onset. Poor decisions made by the Colorado Rockies front office may well negatively impact Guthrie’s next contract unfairly.

Looking at the 2013 free agent class for starters we’re faced with a near formulaic grouping: There are a few excellent starters coming off strong years in their late 20s/early 30s looking to sign a big multi year deal (Zack Greinke, Jake Peavy, and to a lesser extent Edwin Jackson), there are older pitchers who are still productive enough to look for a multi year contract, but are realistically going to receive a one year contract (Hiroki Kuroda, Kevin Millwood, and Ryan Dempster), effective innings eaters (Joe Blanton, Joe Saunders), reclamation projects (Francisco Liriano, Daisuke Matsuzaka), and guys who aren’t living up to their potential (Ervin Santana, Dan Haren, arguably Carlos Zambrano). There’s no particular group that Guthrie fits into, he was terrible for ½ of a year, and he’s been an ace for ½ of a year. What do you do with that?

I think that many teams will be wary of the hot and cold nature of Guthrie’s performance but some are bound to be enticed by his potential. He’s got a successful track record, but has had bouts with ineffectiveness that have made his ace like potential difficult to count on. I am unsure of whether Guthrie will receive a multi-year contract, he’s 34 so counting on a 3+ year contract is unlikely, but maybe a 2 year contract somewhere around an annual value of 8 Million is not out of the question, but many teams may offer more on a 1 year contract with a 2nd year team option, maybe 10 million with a 2 million buyout and a 10 million 2nd year? Someone may be willing to overpay for his services given his track record but this season has certainly made it difficult to assess his true value to an acquiring team. There will certainly be suitors who are willing to give him a shot, possibly someone in the NL west, or the rebuilding Astros. In his position I may be one to look for a chance at the playoffs though, possibly accepting a 1 year deal with the Rays, White Sox, A’s, Yankees, Nationals, Braves, etc. would be in line with getting a chance at the championship. The Royals may make a play to keep the Stanford grad in their rotation, and there may be some interest in the NL Central from teams like the Cubbies, a pitcher like Guthrie can be valuable trade bait at the deadline if his contract is reasonable, so he may be a good gamble for a team that won’t likely be in the playoff hunt, but is looking to compete in a few years time.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Second NL Wild Card and the Teams that Want It

Something of a departure from the AL wild card picture, where all of the teams that are in the wild card race are close enough together that either/both of the spots could change hands at a moment’s notice, the NL is a totally different ballgame. Seven games separate the Braves and the Cardinals, and every team that’s chasing the cards are closer to being .500 teams than they are to being true playoff contenders. Also in a strange turn of events, just about everyone in the hunt for this last playoff spot is facing a reasonably tough schedule down the final stretch with not a single team in the mix having less than 6 games against current playoff bound opponents.

The Cardinals are in line for seven more games against sub par competition before closing out the season with three games against the Nationals and three more against the Reds. The four remaining games against Houston, and three against the Cubbies should have the Redbirds looking good going into that final stretch, and if ever there was a time to try to put some distance between themselves and the pack, it would behoove them to do so now.

The Brewers are two and a half games behind the Cards and have a marginally harder schedule to combat to actually make the playoffs this year, Currently in the midst of a three game set against the even .500 Pirates, they are also facing up against three games with the Reds and a four game set with the Nationals but they close the season with three against Houston and then the Padres, the Brewers need to gain ground during this last tough stretch and hope they can strike while the Cards are closing out the season against two playoff locks.

The Dodgers having split yesterday’s doubleheader are now two behind the Cards for the final playoff spot and aren’t exactly looking at a bunch of pushovers in the next few days to help them make their playoff push. They finish up a three game set against the Nats today followed by three games against the Reds. They get a six game respite from playoff bound opponents with three and three against the Padres and the Rockies but finish the season with a three game set against the Giants who, despite losing Melky Cabrera’s juiced up bat, gone 22 - 9 since the Melk Man’s forced vacation. The Dodgers certainly have enough talent on the team to make it through to the playoffs, but they will have to play their asses off against some stiff competition just to have a shot.

The Phillies are mathematically in the race, and if they had a cushy schedule to close the season, it might be a totally different story here, but with six games against the Nationals and three against the Braves in their last 13 I’m gonna have to call it for Phillies’ fans, there is no postseason this year, at least the Eagles are 2-0 so far.

The Pirates are similarly mathematically still involved but they’ve really only got the next eight games to make up ground before closing the year with three against the Reds and three against the Braves. The Pirates have been streaky enough to rattle off a few wins quickly, but they’ve faded over the second half and they might need another year or two to get over the hump and really make a postseason push.

Given the upcoming schedules for these postseason hopefuls, I don’t see too much reason to write the Cards out of it, honestly the Dodgers are just massively underperforming and while the Brewers have been hot of late (seriously, they haven’t lost two games in a row since before August 20th) it may just be too little too late.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

AL Postseason Hopefuls and the Schedules That Could Break Them

The AL wild card race is getting pretty serious down the stretch now, and we’re seeing that while the playoff picture is being painted at this point, we’re looking to see the season come down to the last game or two again this season. With that said, it appears that the last 15 or so games will make a good bit of difference. Of teams that are fighting for playoff berths outside of the AL Central (I have both already covered it, and both teams have worse records than the bulk of the wild card hopefuls). 

The Athletics have looked great this season, pitching especially has carried the team. It appears in fact that they may have a second and possibly third MLB quality rotation sitting between AAA and AA. They do however have a very difficult schedule going forward. Of their last 15 games, they have 12 against teams with a winning record and only three against the Seattle Mariners. Contrasting that, the Angels have eight of their last 14 against winning teams and six games against those same Mariners. Those 3 additional games against a last place team could certainly make a notable difference for them trying to get into the postseason.

In the AL East, the Tampa Bay Rays are apt to have the hardest time getting into the postseason, not only because of their record at this point, but because they are going to finish the season with seven straight games against teams that are currently in position to make the postseason, four against the White Sox and three games against the Orioles to close out their season. The Orioles and the Yankees are currently tied for the division lead after the Yankees were rained out yesterday. Both teams have 3 games left against postseason contenders, and are otherwise facing teams fighting to avoid the basement in their divisions. They have a pretty equal schedule at this point, and it’s somewhat hard to give the edge to either team given the A’s and Tampa are both very strong teams, and it’s hard to point to one and declare them the “better” team given their respective schedules but I’d probably give a slight edge to the A’s, which would give the Yankees the marginally harder schedule.

There’s a lot going on over these last two weeks of the regular season. Given the difficulty of the A’s remaining schedule, the Angels may surprise us and overtake them for a postseason berth, the Orioles may be in the midst of making a worst to first switch, showing everyone yet again that Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette are both still capable of turning a team around at a baseball moment’s notice. Without a real push, the Tigers will miss the postseason after making it to last year’s ALCS, and the AL Central will have a different division winner for the third year in a row.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The AL Central Lynch Pin

The Detroit Tigers have made their share of big moves in recent years, acquiring Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis from the Marlins, signing Jose Valverde, trading for Doug Fister, and this year’s signing of Prince Fielder but despite their frequent additions, and the hope that Fielder would push them over the edge this year and make them a World Series team, it appears that they may just be enjoying the postseason from their homes this season.

That said, the Tigers are poised to strike here, today’s game against the White Sox could be the most important game of the regular season for Detroit, They are 2 games in back of the White Sox and if they can narrow that to 1 game with only 3 of their last 16 games coming against a team with a winning record, and their final 13 coming against the Royals and the Twins. Contrasting that Chicago has 3 against the LA Angels and 4 against the Tampa Bay Rays in that same stretch. It will be a tougher fight for the White Sox to hold onto first than it will be for Detroit to overtake them, but it’s all a moot point if Chicago can keep winning games.

Detroit has the decided personnel advantage, but it now becomes an argument about heart and the kind of players you want on your team. Chicago has gotten a great deal of production out of some unexpected sources, A.J. Pierzynski has up and become some type of masher behind the plate, Alex Rios is contributing in a big way, Adam Dunn is the mold from which all 3 outcome hitters are cut, Paul Konerko has been rock solid, and despite his notable decline, Kevin Youkilis has been a productive addition. The White Sox also have themselves set up with a potentially very formidable 3 man rotation for the postseason, behind Jake Peavy, Chris Sale, and Jose Quintana the White Sox have a very dangerous rotation, and though their bullpen isn’t exactly a lockdown quality, it’s certainly serviceable enough behind those 3 pitchers.

Contrasting that the Tigers have a strong enough lineup to be competitive, but their middle infield is tragically anemic and their right field/DH are somewhat below average. That doesn’t take anything away from the potential the lineup has to burn an opposing pitcher, Fielder, Cabrera, and Austin Jackson have been spectacular, but with Fielder and Cabrera go the team’s offense, and that’s a lot to rest on two men’s shoulders down the stretch of a pennant race. The rotation is nothing to sneeze at, but Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Fister aren’t quite the same type of dominant trio that has been helping carry the heavy load in Chicago. There is however, no denying the stronger bullpen in Detroit, while Brett Myers helps sure up the late innings in Chicago he doesn’t quite do the job Valverde, Joaquin Benoit, Phil Coke, and Co. have been able to lock in for Detroit.

Today’s game pits Quintana against Fister, in what could be the most pivotal game of their team’s seasons. Both young pitchers have had very good years, though Quintana has been struggling of late his last outing (also against Detroit) was an impressive 7 & ⅔ inning affair so he may have turned the corner after battling some fatigue late in the season. Both teams understand exactly what’s riding on this game, and I’m nearing certain that this is will be the real decider here, coming out of this game with momentum and a 3 game lead in the division, Chicago will be looking much better than Detroit, though if the Tigers can pull within one, Jim Leyland et. al. recognize their easier schedule and most certainly will look to capitalize on such.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Why are the Cardinals still bunting?

Remember earlier when I said that Matheny hasn’t made many wise moves?  This is the sort of thing I’m talking about.

7th inning and you’re up a run, 0 out and a runner at first (David Freese for the record).  The Dodgers go to a lefty to counteract Skip Schumaker and Daniel Descalso coming up.  Matheny pinch hits Pete Kozma for Skip Schumaker.  Kozma, for the record, was a very reviled and derided first round pick in 2007.  He plays SS and fields his position well, and was probably going to replace Skip for defensive purposes later in the game anyways.  He’s not a great hitter by any stretch, but he’s on a decent streak right now (7/20 for the month), and he is probably a safer bet against the lefty coming in than Schumaker.


He tries to drop down a bunt.  Not once, but twice.  Fouls both off.  Winds up lining into a DP.  While I’m not nearly as upset at the end result as you’d think, I’m just upset at the methods that it came to.  I have a few reasons why.  Care to indulge me?  Why thank you!  You’re so sweet.  Remind me to buy you chocolates for your next birthday.  Anyways, here we go:

1) If you’re going to pinch hit, you should go up there to hit.  Not burn an out intentionally.  If you were going to do that, why not let Skip try there?  It changes nothing really, both ways are close to wasting an out, and Skip probably would have hit it on the ground (if he did at all) and potentially at least would have resulted in a runner on base somewhere.

2) If you were planning to waste an out, at least put Beltran up in that spot.  He has some power and his bat looks lately like it is returning to life.  If Beltran could have put you in a position to score multiple runs with the one AB he is probably going to get, might as well do it when you first get the chance.

3) The pitcher is fresh into the game and I think you’re more likely to get at a reliever when he is first inserted and trying to find the strike zone and gauge his stuff, especially early in the count.

4) The team as a whole, position players and pitchers included, have looked terrible at bunting this year, and I don’t think this is the time to be trying to bunt often.  If they want to bunt, they need to do a lot more bunting drills.  I would rather that time be used to increase their ability to hit for power, but if Mike is going to pull an Ozzie Guillen and try for small ball all the time, at least practice it more.

It wouldn’t be as bad if it was the first time in the same game that he tried something like this.  First two men reach in the 6th (score was tied at this point), Matt Carpenter facing a tiring Joe Blanton.  Matt Carpenter is a left handed hitter, who in utility plus play (not really an everyday guy but not a bench rider either) is hitting 303/368/496 for a tidy 135 OPS+ entering play.  He doesn’t make an out at a very good 36.8% of the time.  And, in a big spot with Holliday and Craig coming up behind him, he calls for the bunt TWICE.  Again, both failed and Carpenter ended up striking out.  Holliday hit into a forceout, so now with 2 outs and 2 on (only one in scoring position), Craig had to come through with a hit to score.  Of course he did because Allen Craig is an awesome hitter, but trying to take the bat out of Carpenter’s hands like that seemed to be a bad idea from the go.  In 310 PA in the bigs, Carpenter has never had a sac hit.  This didn’t seem like a good time to get his first.

All in all, two spots in a crucial game against the Dodgers that could have been used to set up for a big inning were ruined because Matheny had to play small ball.  It’s called small for a reason, you don’t score many runs.  I really hope they start swinging the bats like they should soon.  This team is too talented on offense to be relying on those tactics.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Molina's Mistake

Yadier Molina is my favorite catcher.  No joke, I think he’s great.  I’ve never seen someone fire missiles like he can from behind the plate.  And, over the past few years he has turned into a decent hitter and is having his best year currently with the stick.  I rarely can find fault with a catcher providing tremendous defense and hitting 313/366/490 with a wRC+ of 138.


Top of the 9th in San Diego, NO ONE OUT, runner at second, he drops down a sacrifice bunt.  Good old fashioned NL style smart ball right?  Right?

No.  It isn’t smart or the right play in that situation.  Why?  Well I’m glad you asked.  Here’s the situation:

1) You’re on the road down by one.  You can’t play to tie on the road, you have to play to take the lead.  Especially with as poor and leaky as the Cardinals’ pen has been this year.  If you get a chance to take a lead, you go for it, but not taking the chance to tie.

2) The runner is already at second base, so getting him to third with one out is stupid.  With no outs and a runner at second, the run expectancy is 1.170.  You’re almost guaranteed to score more than one run.  With a runner at third and one out, the expectancy is 0.989, meaning that you are most likely but not nearly guaranteed to score the one run, but a big inning isn’t nearly as likely.  So, you’re wasting a precious out, one of three remaining mind you, for...nothing.

3) Adron Chambers came in to pinch run for Allen Craig following his leadoff double.  That means that even if the game gets tied, you’re down a big run producing bat in Craig which will make it way too difficult to take the lead in the later innings.

4) Molina is one of the best hitters on the team, and it’s a team that is struggling to score runs lately.  Taking the bat out of his hands is like telling one of your great pilots in the air force to become a Kamikaze bomber.  Or like taking the sword out of your best knight and tell him to protect a lesser knight with his chest.

Following the game, Molina and Matheny said that the bunt call was Molina’s.  Matheny said that he has earned that right.  Ugh.  Look, Yaddy, buddy, you haven’t earned that right.  Albert Pujols had earned the right to call plays on his own because he is a no doubt first ballot hall of fame player and hits the ball hard and well.  He has done that for the better part of 12 years now.  You, my squatting friend, have been a good hitter for only 4 or 5 years now.  You have NOT earned that right.  But with the boneheaded moves that Mike Matheny has made this year (might do a post on that later), I can see why you would do that.  But please, grow a brain and never do it again.  I’m begging you.  I still love you, but I might have to divorce you if you ever try something like that again.

Forward to the future!

While I was taking a brief hiatus due to my move and just a recharge of my batteries, lots of weird and interesting things happened in the world of baseball, though I suppose none weirder than the fact that as of this writing the ORIOLES ARE IN FIRST PLACE OF THEIR DIVISION!  Just nucking futs as the kiddies say.

Well, as such I’m going to take some time to comment on a few items I find the most interesting in a small brief segment I like to call “Around The League In Eighty Days”  Editor’s note: It won’t actually be 80 days.  More like 3 or 5.

Topics I plan to cover include:

Poking fun at Bobby V!

Taking My Favorite Catcher to Task!

Dodgers/Sox Mega Waiver Deal!

Strasburg’s Shutdown!

And more.

Hopefully I can find my groove again.  If there are any other ideas for topics, give me a heads up.

By the way, according to Toyota, Eli Manning is GOD!  Who knew?