Friday, August 29, 2008

Daily Links - 8/29/08

I'm really not sure what to think about the Pedro Alvarez situation with Pittsburgh. On one hand, it appears as if Scott Boras is (again) trying to game the system, but on the other hand it is his job to advocate for his client to the best of his abilities. I think I'm going to have to go against Alvarez on this one because he is going back on his agreement with the team. This article is subscription only at Baseball Prospectus, but it does a really good job of going over all the details and possibilities of the situation (and besides, why don't you have a subscription to BP - don't you like baseball?).

Here is Tangotiger's take on rule changes. I don't exactly agree with him here (some of his hypothetical rule changes would not sit well with me, and not from a "watched Field of Dreams too many times" standpoint, but from the standpoint that they seem arbitrary and would not advance the purpose of finding a clear winner on the field), but he makes some interesting points, especially regarding HR review (which I do agree with).

Here is an interesting use of fielding metrics to analyze players over the last five years.

John Heyman gives his opinion on what teams will do this offseason with several high priced players that have team options for next year.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Daily Links - 8/28/08

First, a post from Joe Posnanski (TBSWIA) regarding how to determine good pitching performance. Then, a post from the Fire Joe Morgan guys about judging pitching performances against standards set long ago. These posts don't exactly disagree, but Joe comes close to saying some things that the FJM guys would throw a fit about.

Joe and FJM definitely agree on the value of a 'Win' as a pitching statistic.

The Hardball Times continues its excellent series of breaking down players from the most recent draft.

This is one of the cooler things on baseball on the internet: using the wisdom of crowds to scout baseball players. If you've watched some games and have opinions on players - go fill out a form.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Building the 2009 Washington Nationals

The Washington Nationals are really bad. They are on pace to win only 57 games this season after winning 73 last season. The interesting thing about the team, though, is that they really aren't in bad shape. Ok, that's an overstatement - they are in bad shape, but things could be a lot worse - they have no players that are making more than $10M a year and they have no contractual obligations that extend past 2010 (and there are only a couple that go past 2009). So, while the roster is pretty bad right now, the team is in a position to make moves and turn over as much of the roster as they desire.

The Nationals best player is Ryan Zimmerman, who is a fantastic defensive third baseman and has been a terrific hitter in the past, although he has slumped this season to a line of .268/.315/.403. The team has surrounded him with a group of talented hitters that, either through injury or attitude problems, have failed to live up to their billing. Imagine what this lineup could do if they could all stay healthy for a full season:

Christian Guzman
Lastings Milledge
Ryan Zimmerman
Nick Johnson (or Dmitri Young)
Austin Kearns
Wily Mo Pena (or Elijah Dukes)
Ronnie Belliard
Jesus Flores
Pitcher Spot

So, while the Nationals have done a good job of accumulating unrealized talent, it has been their misfortune that none of these guys have had a breakthough. You would think that at some point one of these "projects" would end up working out and turn into a very good major league ballplayer.

The pitching staff, unfortunately, doesn't even have the upside that is present in the offense. John Lannan is the only starter they have that has value going forward and he is probably best suited to be a #3 starter. To add insult to injury, the Nationals have taken polished college starters with thier first pick in each of the last two drafts and the 2007 pick, Ross Detwiler has struggled in the minors and the 2008 pick Aaron Crow did not sign and will go back into the draft pool next season.

As opposed to their hitting, however, the Nationals didn't fill out their pitching staff with high potential offcasts, instead they signed no-upside retreads like Odalis Perez and Tim Redding. They, predictably, received mediocrity in return which would have been a decent temprorary fix if their offense had broken through, but instead they have become the worst team in baseball.

The Nationals 2008 team salary is about $55M. After offsetting some salaries that are coming off the books with some built-in increases, it looks like the Nationals will have about $20M to spend in free agency this offseason (while keeping their budget the same as in 2008). I think they should continue the strategy of investing in high potential players that can be acquired cheaply - eventually one of these guys will be an impact player. They should extend that strategy to pitchers as well and try and accumulate talent for the pitching staff.

But the best way to spend the money they have available would be on a free agent starting pitcher. They have a lot of holes in their pitching staff, many of which can be filled by dumpster diving, but you usually cannot get a staff ace that way. The Nationals will almost certainly never attract Ben Sheets, CC Sabathia or anyone at that level, but if they can get one or two solid pitchers that can be quality major league starting pitchers- similar to the way the Royals grabbed Gil Meche in 2007 - they will take a big step towards respectability. I think the Nationals should spend what it takes to get Kyle Lohse and Oliver Perez. Combined with John Lannan, they would have three solid major league pitchers. If they dumpster dive for some other young pitchers, they would have a respectable starting rotation.

Then, whatever money is left should be spent on the medical staff so they can try and keep their talented young hitters healthy and on the field. The road to respectability isn't as long as it may seem.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Building the 2009 Royals

With most of the focus turned to the playoff race, I thought now might be an intersting time to look at some teams that are far out of the race in an effort to see what they can do to be in the race next year (or, in the near future). First up is the Kansas City Royals.

The Royals began the season with as much hope as they have had since 2004, when they were coming off a 2003 season in which they were over .500 for the first time in a long time. The reasons for hope this year were different: they had a GM in Dayton Moore who seemed like he knew what he was doing, the team had spent big bucks on a free agent acquisition for the second off season in a row and fans were expecting some of the promise of the minor league system to finally turn into production.

As it turns out, the team has not quite lived up to the preseason hope of the fans. They are on pace to win 70 games, one more than they won last season. There are signs of long term hope, however. Zach Greinke has matured into a solid major league starting pitcher, Gil Meche continues to be worth the big free agent deal that he was signed to in 2007 and Joakim Soria has turned into one of the best young closers in all of baseball.

On offense all of the positives carry caveats: David DeJesus will never be a superstar, but he is a solid major league ballplayer; Alex Gordon has not yet lived up to the hype (and has paled in comparison to Ryan Braun, who was selected after him in the draft), but he has become solid and shows signs of the talent that made him the first overall draft pick; and Billy Butler has shown a lot more power since he was recalled at mid-season.

The negatives are numerous. First is that they still owe $24M over two years to Jose Guillen, who, aside from one scorching hot month, has been one of the worst outfielders in baseball. I didn't like the signing at the time and it looks worse now. Additionally, Brian Bannister has regressed, as many thought he would (to his credit, he foresaw this also and tried to adjust his game this season to compensate - he just hasn't found the right adjustment). So, while Bannister was thought to be a credible #4 starter at the beginning of the season, he has turned out to be a disaster more often than not. Finally, Mark Teahen has never regained his form from the last half of 2006, when it looked like he would become a quality power bat as a right fielder. Now, with Guillen on board he has shifted to left field and has batted like an "all glove" middle infielder.

From the looks of things, the Royals might have about $20M to spend this offseason. So what can they do to contend in the future? They are set at 3B, DH, CF, closer and 40% of their pitching staff. Anywhere else on the field that they can get better, they need to.

Between Bannister, Kyle Davies and Luke Hochever, they should be able to cobble together a decent back end of the rotation, but none of those guys should be counted on as a top 3 starting pitcher. One place they should be looking to improve is the starting rotation. Of course, without upgrade in other positions, spending a lot of money on a high dollar free agent pitcher would be pointless, so guys like CC Sabathia, Ben Sheets and even Jon Garland are out of the question (if they would even consider Kansas City in the first place). The Royals should be looking at guys like Anthony Reyes, who was acquired on the cheap by Cleveland because he'd worn out his welcome in St. Louis. Young scrap heap pitchers with upside is they way to go for the Royals until they can solidify the rest of the team (then spend big on pitchers).

As for the offense, the Royals have holes at 1B, 2B, and Shortstop. For first base, they have a 24 year old minor leaguer named Kila Kaaihue who should be given every opportunity to win the starting job next year. He tore up AA this year and has continued his success at AAA since his promotion. He hits for power and has good plate discipline, but he doesn't exactly have a long track record of success in the minors, so this season could be a mirage, but the Royals need to find out. At shortstop, the Royals have been playing Mike Aviles, a 27-year-old rookie that is having his best season of his career. Even if he can't duplicate his .332/.357/.500 line (and I wouldn't expect him to), playing him for a full season would be a huge upgrade over giving 201 shortstop at bats to the worst everyday player in baseball (Tony Pena, Jr.).

That leaves scond base, which is where I think the Royals should spend their money this offseason. I would target Orlando Hudson as priority #1 for the Royals in their free agent quest. Hudson is a very underrated hitter, .305/.367/.450 before getting injured this season, and is one of the best (if not the best) defensive second basemen in all of baseball. Having him on the team would not only give them a bat in the top 3 of the lineup, but he would make all of their pitchers better with his fielding.

The Royals have the makings of a decent team. Greinke and Meche give them the beginnings of a respectable rotation; Soria and Ron Mahay provide the foundation for a solid bullpen; and DeJesus, Gordon and Butler have the ability to be part of a good offense. Adding Orlando Hudson will not allow them to contend, but I think his acquisition would be the best way for the Royals to spend their money this offseason (getting lucky with a couple of low cost upgrades to the rotation and having some of their young players take full strides forward would be helpful, too).

8/25/08 Daily Links

I didn't post at all last week because an illness that kept me isolated in an oxygen bubble all week (not really, but close). I did read a little about baseball during that time, though, including this article by Tom Verducci that I found fascinating. I am really interested in pitchers' health and proper mechanics, so I will be curious to see how Lincecum's career continues.

Also from last week is this post by TBSWIA, Joe Posnanski - his final from Beijing - as he ponders the meaning of a Tony Pena, Jr. bobblehead.

This article discusses poor starts to outstanding seasons.

Here is yet another example of a team getting bitten by trading prospects for a 'proven veteran'.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Daily Links - 8/15/08

Here is an update on the unsigned first round draft picks. The Aaron Crow thing is a mess - it's too bad that he signed with an agent or else he could have gone back to Mizzou for his senior year. Instead he's signed with an independent league, should negotiations fail to result in a deal.

Should Tampa fans be worried now that Longoria and Crawford are hurt? Here's a look at some simulations to predict the Rays future.

The Hardball Times 'Remains of the Season' series hits the New York Yankees.

Here is a quick look at the top five picks in the last five drafts and what they are doing today.

A scary thought from Rob Neyer: the Yankees payroll will be increasing next year.

That's all I've got for this week. Enjoy the weekend.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Pitch f/x: Randy Johnson

I really wish that Pitch f/x had been around in the late 90's and early 2000's so we could look at what Johnson did back when he was absolutely dominant, but it has only been around since 2005. Still, it is interesting to take a brief look at his pitch selection since he turned 40 years old.

The first thing that I noticed is that there is a clear delineation between the first two years, when Johnson was with the Yankees, and the second two years since he re-joined the Diamondbacks. With the Yankees he was very consistent: 56% fastballs both years, similar slider numbers and asmall percentage shift from a curveball to a splitter between the first and second season.

Then, when he moved to Arizona and the National League, the number of fastballs dropped to 51.5% (which he has maintained over both seasons) and the number of splitters jumped from 6.7% to 11.7%.

The second thing that jumps right out at you is the decrease in velocity. Even through last season he was still averaging 92.3mph on his fastball, but this season it has dropped to 90.8mph.

So the shift is clear: as Johnson has gotten older and his fastball has lost a tick or two he has had to become more of a crafty veteran, throwing more splitters. Where he used to overpower hitters, now he has to decieve them.

Daily Links - 8/14/08

This blog post by Will Carroll is the second reference I've heard to CC Sabbathia winning the NL Cy Young in the past couple of days. He has certainly been amazing since getting picked up by the Brewers, but something doesn't seem quite right about it. I can't really put my finger on it, because the award goes to the best pitcher in the league that season, and if Sabbathia only requires 60% of the season to prove that, then why not? But it seems a bit fortuitous that Sabbathia's sub-par start to the season gets to be disregarded because the best part of his season came after the trade.

The famous Fetch, from Major League Jerk, writes about the rough start for Team USA in Beijing. I didn't see the game, but I agree with Fetch: when I looked at the box score and saw that John Gall had led off for the US, I did a double-take. What was that all about?

The results are in on the poll presented last week on the Hardball Times regarding ethics and baseball.

Here is a first hand account of the crazy game played at Fenway on Tuesday night.

This is a quick look at closers vs. set up men in terms of which are used in more important situations. The standard pattern of 'closer' usage in baseball has been one of my pet peeves for a while now. Interestingly, the Cardinals have used rookie closer Chris Perez in a save situation in the eighth inning twice this week and allowed him to finish the game.

Daily Links - 8/13/08

Joe Posnanski: even with the room spinning he's TBSWIA.

Dak seems to be a little tired of writing for Fire Joe Morgan (which must seem like banging your head against a wall at times when the same crappy articles keep coming up), but it is entertaining nonetheless.

The Major League Jerks weigh in on the Adam Dunn trade. I'm not sure I agree with the comment towards the bottom of the article from a reader - Dunn is a 29 year old outfielder that is in the prime of his pitcher-bashing career, I can't imagine that he would accept arbitration and forego the opportunity to test the free agent market. Hef's response, though, that Arizona would probably take him on a one-year, arbitration determined salary, is right on the mark.

mgl at Inside the Book does not like the Red Sox acquisition of Paul Byrd. Emphatically.

JP Ricciardi in Toronto is proud that he has stocked his team with "character guys", but they don't have much of a winning character, do they?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Daily Links - 8/12/08

Ken Tremendous at Fire Joe Morgan checks in with a JoeChat.

Christina Kahrl breaks down the Adam Dunn trade and provides an interesting nugget that I hadn't seen (or maybe 'noticed' is the right word): Cincinnati also paid Arizona $2M to take Dunn. I thought Arizona was getting a great deal before I realized that fact and that just seems like piling on.

Baseball America answers a question about the unsigned draft picks as we come up on three days left before the signing deadline.

Here is a look at Randy Johnson's peak of dominance. I would have never thought that Johnson would continue to be successful this long. He clearly isn't dominant, or even a #1 or #2 pitcher anymore, but he is still effective as a #3 for Arizona, which is amazing at age 44 for a guy that always was high effort in his delivery.

An interesting roundtable discussion here with Paul DePodesta.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Trade: Adam Dunn to Arizona

I'm more than a little befuddled by this. Mainly I can't believe that Adam Dunn made it all the way through waivers to Arizona. Every other team in the National League with a worse record than Arizona had a chance to claim him. Dunn was playing this year on a $13M extention and he will be a free agent after the season. So, pretend you are the Washington Nationals (I know, it's painful). You could have claimed Adam Dunn on waivers and then either the Reds would try and work out a trade with you (which you probably wouldn't have tried too hard to pull off), the Reds would have pulled Dunn back off waivers (which costs you nothing) or the Reds could have just let you assume his salary for the rest of the year. In the first two cases you are out nothing and in the third case you get Adam Dunn for two months of the season at a prorated cost of his salary (which is pretty reasonable for his production) and then he leaves at the end of the year and you get two draft picks as compensation. Why wouldn't they take the chance?

But no one claimed Dunn until the Diamondbacks (meaning eight teams passed on him). So then, the question becomes whether the package of prospects that Cincinnati received were more valuable than the two compensation picks that they would have received if they had held onto Dunn. The primary player the Reds received was Dallas Buck, who was a third round draft pick in 2006 and was currently pitching at single A after having Tommy John surgery. They will also receive two players to be named later, which could mean that they have either been drafted too recently to be traded at this point or that they compensation will depend on Arizona's results (i.e. if they make the playoffs they get two guys out of group A, if they miss the playoff they get three maple bats and a dozen balls). It will be impossible to evaluate the cache the Reds received until we know who the players to be named later are, but if Buck is the centerpiece, I'd be a little disappointed.

As for the D-Backs, Adam Dunn gives them a huge lift in the middle of their order. Dunn is a monster: he gets on base at a great clip (.373 on the season) and hits for immense power (.528 slugging percentage, 32 home runs on the season). He is undervalued by some that focus on traditional statistics because he strikes out a lot and never hits for a high average (only .233 on the season), but Dunn will immediately step into the cleanup role for the Diamondbacks and will provide a big veteran bat down the stretch to go along with all the talented youngsters already in the lineup.

The cost for Arizona is clearly worth it. They have answered their rival Dodgers' acquisition of Manny Ramirez and given themselves a great chance to make the playoffs. When the cost is three low level prospects, which will be partially replenished by the two compensatory draft picks they should receive when Dunn signs elsewhere in the offseason, it seems clear that they got a great deal.

Daily Links - 8/11/08

There is more from Joe Posnanski (TBSWIA) on Albert Pujols after someone irrationally accused him of padding stats by only coming up big when it didn't matter. Apparently said person doesn't watch Albert regularly. I think Joe's method of calculating his new stat is a bit flawed, but give him a break, he's watching synchronized swimming in Beijing.

Here's another article, this one from John Perrotto at Baseball Prospectus, that lists out some players that might move this month before the waiver trading deadline.

Baseball America has a roundup from the Aflac high school all american game.

Miguel Cabrera for MVP? Before the season it would have been eminently reasonable, mid-season it would have seemed impossible and now Sky makes a credible argument for it playing out just that way.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Profile: Vernon Wells

In the winter after the 2006 season Vernon Wells signed a seven year, $126M extension to stay with the Toronto Blue Jays. He turned 28 years old that same winter and was a year away from free agency. He was seen as a perennial fringe MVP candidate that was just entering the prime of his career. In 2006 he put up a .303/.357/.542 line with 32 homeruns and 17 stolen bases and he seemed to be on the verge of superstardom.

Since Wells signed that contract, however, he has played a season and a half of very mediocre baseball. Now the Blue Jays are looking at paying Wells and average of $18M a year for the next five years and he may be the most overpaid player in baseball. So what happened?

The first thing to note is that there were signs before 2006 that Wells might not be the superstar that many thought him to be. He had an MVP caliber season in 2003, putting up a .317/.359/.550 line, which was very similar to his 2006 season, but his other three full major league seasons (2002, 2004 and 2005) weren't nearly as good. He failed to hit better than .275, get on base better than .337 and slug better than .472 in any of those three seasons. Also, prior to 2006 he had never had double digits in steals. So, while he had flashes of brilliance, he had not been consistent in his performance throughout his career.

In fact, this season when he's been healthy (he's only played in 64 games on the year), his numbers have been very comparable to the rest of his career. His line this season is .287/.339/.449, which is right in line with his 'down' years. But his 2007 was an unmitigated disaster. His line was .245/.304/.402 with 16 home runs in 149 games.

Perhaps Wells got lazy because he was making the big bucks, or maybe the put too much pressure on himself to live up to the contract - or maybe he was just unlucky. Wells' BABIP was .265, well below league average and also the lowest of his career and his line drive rate was also the lowest of his career, while his home run per fly ball rate plummeted to 7.3% (his career rate is 12.3%). Regardless of the reason, all of those numbers point to one thing: 2007 is the anamoly in Wells' career.

So, while injuries have hidden it to a certain extent this season because the accumalated numbers aren't there, Wells has returned to his career averages. I am sure that the Blue Jays had hoped that Wells would take a step forward in his 28 year-old season instead of having the worst season of his career, but the truth is that Wells has not performed too far below his established level since signing his big contract. The answer, then, to the question posed above, what happened to Vernon Wells, is: nothing. He hasn't performed like an $18M ballplayer, but there wasn't a real good reason to bet that he would improve to that level in the first place.

My guess is that Wells will get healthy and have a nice season, perhaps even back to the 2006 level, sometime before his contract expires. Given his career to this point it should be expected that he will perform at that level again. He will almost certainly never live up to the huge contract that he signed prior to 2007, but you can't blame Wells for the Blue Jays' willingness to overpay him.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Daily Links - 8/7/08

Well, it was bound to happen and it has: Joe Posnanski (TBSWIA) wrote a post dedicated to the best player on my favorite team - Albert Pujols. It is a great post, as always. Today is my lucky day.

Here is a post (with scouting video) about a player that could be drafted three years from now. Wait until you read the superlatives about him before you decide that it is too early to be thinking about the 2011 draft.

Waiver wire intrigue - a mystery team claimed Brian Giles.

Here is a contrary opinion to the near-universal (at least by internet analysts) dislike for Juan Pierre batting leadoff for the Dodgers. As a bonus, the author takes a shot at Joe Sheehan's logic towards the end.

This is a really interesting study about ranking baseball's ethical transgressions and a link to allow you to rank them. Also, the Hardball Times continues its series of projecting the rest of the season by taking on the Cardinals.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Daily Links - 8/6/08

This is one of the best running bits around: Baseball Prospectus' transaction roundup. Christina Kahrl does a great job of providing analysis to all the moves made around the league.

The ongoing mess that was Jose Vidro's performance as Mariner's DH has finally come to an end. He has been terrible this season and it was borderline lunacy to continue to play him everyday as the DH.

Joba is going to see Dr. Andrews. That's not a good sign. It seems to me (and I haven't don't any research on this, so it's just a baseless impression) that shoulder woes are more difficult than elbow problems. If it's an elbow problem they just do Tommy John surgery and the pitcher comes back in 18 months, better than ever. But shoulder problems seem to linger and the pitcher is never quite the same again (see: Mark Mulder). Hopefully Joba doesn't have any serious issues with his shoulder.

I haven't delved into this too much, but if Sky says that there is a stat that is better than VORP for valuing a player in-season, then it is worth looking into. Note that the team rankings at the end have the Cardinals #1 (which makes me somewhat skeptical of the stat since they have given far too many at bats to guys like Cesar Izturis and Chris Duncan this year).

More speculation about Mark Cuban and the Cubs here. There is a valid point in this about the anti-trust exemption. If the exemption were repealed it would change the landscape of professional baseball. It would be a shrewd move for Cuban to threaten it as a way to strongarm the other owners into approving the sale of the Cubs to him.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Trade: 2005 Shortstop Carousel

Watching the Blue Jays game yesterday and seeing David Eckstein play second base for Toronto reminded me of one of the more intriguing player movements in recent history. After the 2004 season, three teams switched starting shortstops. The Red Sox signed Edgar Renteria, who had been with the Cardinals, to a four year/$40M contract. The Angels signed Orlando Cabrera, who had been with the Red Sox, to a four year/$32M contract. And, after the Angels waived him, the Cardinals signed David Eckstein to a three year/$10.25M contract.

It was a unique situation because all three played the same position, all three were the same age (30 years old at the time), and all signed brand new contracts. These factors make the comparisons pretty straightforward.

Renteria and Cabrera are now in the last year of their contracts, and Eckstein's expired after last season. One telling fact to start with is that neither Reteria or Cabrera stayed with the team that signed them through the life of the contract, while Eckstein did. Renteria lasted only one year in Boston before he was traded to Atlanta for two years and then traded to Detroit before this season. Cabrera lasted three full seasons with the Angels before getting traded to the White Sox before this season.

I am going to use WARP (Wins Above Replacement Player, described here) as a way to compare these three players and determine which team got the best of their deals. I like WARP for this purpose because it takes fielding into account.

Here are the cumulative WARP totals for the 2005-2007 seasons:

Eckstein - 15.6
Cabrera - 17.4
Renteria - 15.8

Based on raw numbers, Cabrera was the best of the three, followed by Renteria and then Eckstein. But let's add the salary component. For Cabrera and Renteria we will just consider the pro-rated portion of their salary, since the contracts actually continue through 2008. With that in mind, here is how many dollars each of their teams paid for each win added (according to the WARP system):

Eckstein - $657,051
Cabrera - $1,379,310
Renteria - $1,898,734

From this perspective, Eckstein was clearly the better value. Of course, if the marginal difference between Eckstein and Cabrera or Renteria was the difference between making the playoffs and not making the playoffs, the calculation of value might be different. But, in 2005 all three players made the playoffs with their teams, in 2006 Eckstein's team made the playoffs while Renteria's and Cabrera's did not (so clearly the extra expense was not worth it that year) and in 2007 Cabrera's team made the playoffs while Eckstein and Renteria's did not. The Angels won their division in 2007 by six games. Cabrera had a WARP that season of 7.3 while Eckstein's was 3.8, a difference of 3.5 games. So, if Eckstein had played for the Angels instead of Cabrera they still would have won their division by 2.5 games.

Of course, real life doesn't exactly work that way. You can't just take one player off of a team and swap statistics in from another player and assume that everything would have fallen exactly the way it did otherwise. But by almost any calculation you can come up with, David Eckstein was clearly the best value of the three shortstops that changed addresses before the 2005 season.

Daily Links - 8/5/08

Baseball Prospectus gives us the weekly quotes from around the league.

The esteemed Hef (not the guy with the mansion and all the half-naked women lying around - well, actually I've never seen his place, so he could have the same set up as Hugh Hefner, for all I know) breaks down the effect that the deadline trades will have on the playoff races.

Now that the Dodgers have Manny Ramirez, they have five outfielders that have been starters for most of their career (I had to write that carefully to avoid saying that they were all good enough to start). Joe Torre has said that Juan Pierre will continue to start and play center field while Andre Ethier sits - so just how bad is that decision?

This article argues that the Red Sox are better with Jason Bay than Manny Ramirez (and it also includes some nice scouting video of Bay's swing). This is an argument that resonates with me. I've always liked Jason Bay and I tend to think that playing in Feway and in a big media market like Boston, will make him a super star. Also, the Hardball Times continues its series by looking at the Brewers outlook for the rest of the year.

This article is an interesting look into the sale of the Chicago Cubs and the staggering price tag that will be attached. If my favorite team were for sale and it looked like Mark Cuban was the favorite to buy it, I would be excited. He can sometimes come off as a bit of a clown (like running on the court at NBA games and the whole Dairy Queen stunt), but the man is passionate about his team, is involved in team and league management and he puts his money where his mouth is (which takes quite a bit of money in his case). He would certainly bring a fresh face to the stogy 'old school' owners in the MLB, which is probably overdue.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Watched: Oakland @ Toronto - 8/4/08

I wanted to check out Sean Gallagher, one of the main pieces Oakland received when they traded away Rich Harden. At the time of the trade, some analysts insisted that Gallagher would win more games in the next five years than Harden and some others went so far as to claim that Gallagher might even win more games in the rest of this season than Harden will (of course, predictions like those are easy to make - if you are wrong no one remembers, if you are right you can quote yourself in a later column to show that you are a genius). So far Harden and Gallagher are even at 1-1 since the trade. Of course, wins and losses don't tell the whole story. Gallagher has made five starts since the trade (including tonight) and has thrown 25.1 innings in those five starts, and while he has struck out twenty seven men, which is excellent, he has also walked nineteen batters and has an ERA of 4.26. Harden, on the other hand, has made four starts since the trade, lasting 24.1 innings in those starts. He has only walked eight, while striking out thirty nine batters and he has an ERA of 1.11.

Anyway, I wanted to see what Oakland got in Gallagher and the numbers above were indicative of his performance. He clearly has good stuff, but he needs to learn to reign it in a bit. His fastball seemed to top out at about 92 and he had a good sharp slider, which was his strikeout pitch. He was very inefficient with his pitch count and only lasted three innings on the night. During his brief appearnace he was able to accumulate four strikeouts and four walks. He also hit two batters.

Clearly, Gallagher did not pitch well enough to win, and with an average of about five innings per start, he's really not giving his team much of a chance to win when he's on the mound. But Gallagher is only 22 years old and he seems to have the talent to become a solid major league pitcher. There are innumerable stories of pitchers with great stuff that never learned to harness their abilities and burned out without ever making an impact in the major leagues. Gallagher could easily become one of those guys, or he could mature into his talent and make himself into a solid #2 or #3 starter.

Daily Links - 8/4/08

The first game I attended at the most recent incarnation of Busch Stadium in St. Louis was a gem pitched by Chris Carpenter in 2006. It was against the Pirates on September 1 and it was the most dominating pitching performance I have ever seen. Carpenter allowed three hits and only struck out eight, but was just unbeatable that night, getting ground ball after ground ball (15 ground outs, 8 strikeouts and 4 fly outs). The game only took 1:54 to play. Joe Posnanski (TBSWIA) writes about a similar experience watching Greg Maddux pitch in 1997.

Baseball Prospectus has some new reports for translated minor league statistics. Here is their explanation of what is available.

The Twins finally resolved the Francisco Liriano situation by calling him up to the big club. If healthy, he's probably the best starting pitcher that they have. It was a little strange keeping him down on the farm.

The Hardball Times looks at what the rest of the season has in store for the Cubs and the Phillies.

Now that we are past the non-waiver trading deadline, Keith Law looks at who he thinks might and might not make it through waivers to be traded this month.

Manny has certainly enjoyed Los Angeles so far, but Buster Olney thinks that he is miscalculating his value for his next contract.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Daily Links - 8/1/08

The trading deadline is over and Manny Ramirez is a Dodger. There is so much analysis out there about the trade already that I'm not going to bother with a whole post about it. I'll just say this: the marginal difference between Bay and Ramirez isn't that great and this trade is good for the Red Sox in the long run, bad for the Dodgers in the long run unless they win the World Series this year and pretty good for the Pirates both now and in the future. Here is Keith Law's analysis of the trade.

Every team has a bench guy that performs so well that fans clamor for him to start - then when he does start, the fans are sorry that he does. Here is Joe Posnanski (TBSWIA)'s take on the topic.

Hef, from Major League Jerk, has been writing a semi-regular piece on The Big Lead and takes on the differences between traditional and "new" statistics.

Was the trading deadline top heavy this year?

It's probably a little early to really tell, but what the hell: trade deadline winners and losers in two parts - Part 1 and Part 2. Without putting a lot of thought into it, I agree with the writer on the Royals, Yankees, Rockies, Mariners, A's, Brewers, Cubs, Marlins, Astros, Reds, Pirates, Rays, Indians, Dodgers and Red Sox and I disagree on the Angels, Tigers and Braves.