Archive for the 'MLB' Category

Billy Beane: Always ahead of the curve

Billy Beane has been called a genius on more than one occasion. Nowadays it seems like a lot of people will say that the whole Moneyball concept was blown out of proportion, but that’s just because it seems so obvious now. Beane was the first guy to seriously look at OBP as a key stat, and I fell in such love with the concept when I am evaluating a player’s worth I key on OBP (that is when better stats like EqA, WARP, etc. aren’t handy). A guy who hits .230 but has an OBP of .410 is more valuable to me than one who hits .320 with a .350 OBP.  He also adopted the small market attitude of drafting slight lower ceiling college players who are closer to the majors vs. high ceiling high school guys who had a lot of growing to do.

It seems Beane is ahead of things yet again. Beane realizes that trading veterans near the end of contracts for prospects just doesn’t happen anymore.  The trend is to trade young stars who have cheap years left for free agents. Like he did with Danny Haren, like the O’s did with Eric Bedard, and like Beane is about to do with Joe Blanton. I am not an A’s fan so I don’t know how I would feel about what Beane is doing. These are the same young future stars that he acquired in previous trades of his stars (Mulder and Hudson) and now he is flipping them for more talent.

Looking back the Hudson and Mulder deals look good. If you use the transitive property the amount of talent he got for those guys is phenomenal. But there has to be a payoff. I understand it’s hard to win in Oakland, and Anaheim and Seattle are primed for runs in the next couple of years. I am sure Beane is positioning himself for a couple years from now, but how long will he play this game? What do A’s fans think?

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Quick thoughts on the Johan trade

I have been planning a more in-depth Hot stove post, but I had to at least post a quick thought on the trade of Johan Santana to the Mets. It’s been said already (by Keith Law) but it looks like the Twins dropped the ball here. They didn’t get the Mets top prospect or anyone with significant Major League experience.

It’s been noted that the Yankees and Red Sox offered better packages so there must be something we are missing. The only theory I have is that they wanted to keep him out of the American League. The Twins are serious about contending in the next few years and with all the talent they are stockpiling they could pull a Clevenland-esqu run off in a couple of years. You don’t want to have to face Johan twice before the playoffs.

As a [White] Sox fan, this works for me. According to Baseball Reference, Santana was 13-6 with a 3.24 ERA against the Sox in his career. I thought he was a lot more dominate but that is actually higher than his career ERA. Still, it’s a good thing not facing him 2-4 times a year.

Edit: When I said Sox in the last paragraph, I meant White Sox. Sorry for the confusion.

My thoughts on the White Sox 2008 lineup

I truly don’t believe Kenny Williams is done wheeling and dealing yet. I believe Joe Crede will be gone by opening day. It’s also possible the rumors are true and Paul Konerko gets dumped by then as well.

As for the current state of affairs, the Sox still lack a true leadoff hitter and the latest guy they traded for, Nick Swisher, fits the #2 spot which Orlando Cabrera likely owns. Here is my prediction with analysis to follow:

  1. CF – Nick Swisher
  2. SS – Orlando Cabrera
  3. DH – Jim Thome
  4. 1B – Paul Konerko
  5. RF – Jermaine Dye
  6. C – AJ Pierzynski
  7. 3B – Joe Crede/Josh Fields
  8. 2B – Juan Uribe
  9. LF – Carlos Quentin

Even though Swisher hit .262 last season, his OBP was .381, better than anyone on the Sox but Jim Thome. He finished 6th in the league in walks which means he is plenty capable of getting on base. Even though he is potential 35 HR guy playing half his games at US Cellular, there isn’t another option for this spot. Better still, where would you put him otherwise? He sees a lot of pitchers which helps the big bats in the middle and if he’s not batting leadoff, 6th is probably the next most likely place. He won’t see anything good to hit there with presumably AJ protecting him the order.

So barring a trade of Konerko that should be it. I think Fields/Crede are interchangeable. I think the bottom two could be as well. Uribe is just an awful hitter but 20 HRs from the 9 hole is fine with me.

Do we owe Roger Clemens an apology?

ESPN was reporting earlier today that Roger Clemens, through his lawyer, that “vehemently denies ever using steroids.” He also feels like his reputation is tarnished and no matter if can prove it or not this cloud will hang over his head. Now first of all, it will be impossible for him to prove without a doubt that he didn’t take them. So the best you could end up with is a strong case against. But more importantly, Mike Wilbon pointed out today on PTI that Clemens denied George Mitchell’s request to speak with him.

Let’s be serious here. Clemens is smart guy. His name has been floated in these rumors before. He knew the Yankees would be (heavily) investigated. Wouldn’t he at least try to do some damage control, speak with the Mitchell report and make his case (assuming he never took steroids)? Wouldn’t he want to be in the report making his case and flatout denying it? Didn’t he know that if he waited until after no one would believe him?

There is no way I am going to believe that Clemens thought his name would not be in the report. No one denies his mysterious surge past 40 that I spoke about yesterday is exactly that, mysterious. As I said his name as come up in these conversations before. He’s perhaps the greatest pitcher of the last 50 years. He has to know that the bigger the star, the bigger the news. How can he wait until after the fact to do damage control and expect fans to understand?

The argument against is that Clemens should be innocent until proven guilty and shouldn’t have to say anything to George Mitchell if he is not involved. The evidence they have is hearsay, there is no doubt about it. I guess the guys who named Clemens could want attention but that wouldn’t make sense. Maybe they were assuming, who knows.  The bottom line is that Clemens didn’t play this very well and we don’t owe him a thing right now.

The Johan derby is picking up steam

So things are pretty crazy for Johan Santana right now. A day after the news broke that the Yankees were in talks, we find out the Red Sox are in talks as well. It’s not a huge shocker because we knew those two teams were probably the front runners. Both have the young talent to trade and it is just a matter of who is going to blink first. The Twins are in a great position because the have the two most free spending franchises in history fighting over their guy. They should have no problem getting exactly what they want as they play the two teams off of eachother. I am predicting this is sorted out before the end of the winter meetings. If I was taking bets the Yanks would be the favorite because I think they are more winning to part with more. We shall see though.

The Sox make me crazy…

Back from Vegas and a week behind in posting, there is a lot to get caught up on. The biggest news (for me personally) was Lloyd Carr officially retiring, but a close 2nd was the White Sox making some moves.

First they traded Jon Garland to the Angels for Orlando Cabrera. My knee-jerk reaction to this was that it was a stupid move especially after just resigning Juan Uribe. That was probably a bit off-base. First off, Cabrera was 7th among AL shortstops in OPS last season. He led AL shortstops in win shares with 25 (h/t: Hardball Times), which was 12 more than Juan Uribe, meaning he was worth 4 more wins than Uribe last season. From a fielding perspective, Cabrera just won another Gold Glove, but that doesn’t always mean a lot. He is a better fielder, but I don’t know if he is vastly better.

The Sox gave up Jon Garland who after three almost identical seasons from ’02-’04, had a breakout 18-win season in 2005. He won 18 more in ’06 but his ERA went back up. He seemed to struggle last year as his walks went up and his Ks went down. He’s 27 now and with 6 full seasons as a starter under his belt we have probably seen what Garland is, a respectable third starter who doesn’t have the stuff to be an ace. He should fit in well with the Angels where he will be no higher than third behind John Lackey and Jered Weaver. Pitching closer to home should help as well.

Both players are going to be in the last year of contracts with the Sox saving about $3 million with Cabrera instead of Garland. Obviously this means we have our starting SS for next year. It wasn’t until I did some researching that I found that Juan Uribe has played a half seasons worth of games at 2B and 30 more at 3B (most of both with the Sox in 2004). This means that they could keep him around as a utility infielder. He is a decent fielder but his inability to walk and his low BA and high strikeout rate don’t make him much of a pinch hitter. And he’s not very fast so that eliminates him as a pinch runner.  I personally think that utility guy is a backup plan. They may try to trade him for whatever they can get. He’s not terribly expensive and some team out there might trade a low level prospect for him. So if the Sox wanted to save $4.5 million they might. Otherwise I guess he shares time at 2B with Danny Richar.

That wasn’t the only move the Sox made as they signed reliever Scott Linebrink to a four-year deal (!!!). There is so much wrong with this. First off, the Sox are so hesitant to give a starter 4 years, but have no problem giving a reliever this. What is more disturbing is that apparently the Sox haven’t learned their lesson from last year’s signings of Mike MacDougal and Matt Thornton, both whom got 3 year deals. Linebrink has been pretty good, with an awesome season in 2005. And he has strung together 5 pretty good years in a row. But he has never pitched in the AL and The Cell isn’t a forgiving ballpark. I suspect this will not end well. It also means the bullpen for the Sox is pretty set for the next couple of years, barring anything crazy…

  • RH – Bobby Jenks (by my calculation he is not eligible for free agency until after the 2011 season)
  • RH – Scott Linebrink (signed thru ’11)
  • RH – Mike MacDougal (signed thru ’09)
  • LH – Matt Thornton (signed thru ’09)

Those four guys are sticking for at least the next two years. Scary…

Proverbial nods to Cot’s Baseball Contracts and Baseball Reference for providing me some needed info.

Rookie of the Year..so what?

My best friend in high school used to view college football as like the minor leagues of the NFL. He always thought that the only players that could be considered good were guys who could be good at the next level. He didn’t think guys should be able to win the Heisman if they couldn’t compete at the next level. He was so mad when Eric Crouch won the Heisman in 2001 because he said he would suck in the NFL. The Heisman is not supposed to be a projector of NFL talent. As long as you view the MLB Rookie of the Year as the same was, meaning just a measure of the best rookies and not a projector of greatness you should be good. Ryan Braun and Dustin Pedroia won the awards today, let’s look at the award winners from ’95 to ’04 shall we?

Year AL NL
1995 Marty Cordova (0) Hideo Nomo (0)
1996 Derek Jeter (8) Todd Hollandsworth (0)
1997 Nomar Garciaparra (5) Scott Rolen (5)
1998 Ben Grieve (0) Kerry Wood (1)
1999 Carlos Beltran (4) Scott Williamson (0)
2000 Kaz Sasaki (2) Rafael Furcal (1)
2001 Ichiro Suzuki (6) Albert Pujols (5)
2002 Eric Hinske (0) Jason Jennings (0)
2003 Angel Berroa (0) Dontrelle Willis (1)
2004 Bobby Crosby (0) Jason Bay (2)

The number in the parenthesis is the number of All-Star appearences AFTER their award winning season. I am not a huge fan of using All-Star trips as a measure of talent since it only takes into consideration the first half of the season and you can get voted on, but it’s a quick barometer.

Of the 20 winners, only 11 appeared in a later All-Star game. Only 8 of those appeared in multiple games (I expect Dontrelle to someday add to that). Of the 20 guys, these 5 were not playing in ’07 (Nomo, Cordova, Hollandsworth, Grieve, Sasaki). You could argue that only 7 became excellent players (Jeter, Nomar, Beltran, Ichiro, Rolen, Pujols, Willis is on his way).

The bottom line, re-visit Ryan Braun and Dustin Pedrioia in 5 years. Because until then, we still know nothing…