Posts Tagged 'MLB'

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.

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…

Hot Stove League Update

It’s still early on and we are approaching the lull that will take place before the Winter Meetings but stuff is still happening…

  • Curt Schilling did his little song and dance about saying goodbye to Boston and then less than a week later is back with the Red Sox with an incentive-laden contract. At $8 million base salary it’s an good move for the BoSox. Schilling slots as the #2 or #3 starter, behind Beckett and possibly Dice K if he can turn the corner. With Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz waiting in the wings this is definitely it for Schilling in Boston. Injury notwithstanding, Schillling was solid last year.
  • The Chicago White Sox declined Juan Uribe’s option before signing him for $1 million less. Uribe is bad. I look at The Hardball Times and Win Shares and he is a lot worse than I thought. He is a surprisingly solid fielder, earning 9.3 win shares as a fielder. Only Troy Tulowitski earned more in the field. Unfortunately he only earned 3.9 as a hitter. To put it into perspective, Hanley Ramirez led all shortstops with 25 as a hitter. 3.9 win shares means that as a hitter, Juan Uribe is worth less than 2 wins. At $4 million it’s not a horrible move. Uribe seems to be declining in a hurry though.
  • The Philadelphia Phillies went out and traded for Brad Lidge. Supposedly so they could move Brett Myers back to the rotation. I think the playoffs were a big wakeup call. Other than Hamels they have no starting pitching and what good is a closer if you can’t hold a lead? Lidge’s reputation has been tarnished after Albert Pujols took him deep in the 2005 playoffs. Lidge has only been in the league 5 full seasons. He went from setup man in 2003 to lights out closer in 2004. He will was awesome again in 2005 before the playoffs. Despite a horrible 2006, he actually had a pretty solid 2007 even though he lost his closer’s job. I never understand the shock of Lidge’s decline. He wasn’t that established and it’s not like he’s been in the league 10 years. Take a look at the guy he replaced, Octavio Dotel. He had a similar path of setup man, to closer, to getting injured/burning out (somewhat).

The Hot Stove is lit

Editorial Note: I vow to make this blog as A-Rod Free as possible until he gets some serious offers.

It didn’t even take 24 hours for the Hot Stove action to get going and it almost seems like it’s full steam ahead already. Of course we all know there is the knee-jerk post-World Series activity (managers fired/hired, quick trades, players filing for free agency) but we probably have another week at least before things heat up.

The Yankees fired Joe Torre and have already replaced him with Joe Girardi. This wasn’t much of a shock to anyone. Girardi has been the likely replacement since before he took the Marlins job last year. In fact, I am convinced he just said “screw it” in Florida and did whatever he wanted because he knew the Yankee job was his when he wanted it. He’s a Northwestern guy, so I can’t hate. I think he will be a good manager but he has one of the toughest acts ever to follow.

Meanwhile it looks like Torre wants to manage again. The Dodgers seem interested and I could see it being a job he would take. If not, he takes some time off and waits for the right job. ESPN is reporting that Grady Little has resigned paving the way for Torre. It should be interesting.

Elsewhere:

  • Unsurprisingly Torii Hunter and Curt Schilling filed for free agency. It’s my belief that Schilling will be back with his former team and Hunter won’t. I am really crossing my fingers that my White Sox don’t make a play for Hunter. While I acknowledge he is a solid fielder, he is vastly overrated as a hitter. His career OBP is .324 and he will get your 100 strikeouts. The fact that he is 32 is a sign that he isn’t on the rise and if he gets a 5-year deal he will be 37 when it’s over. You don’t think we can find an above average fielder who can give us an OBP of .324? I think we can for much cheaper.
  • The Brewers declined the option on Geoff Jenkins. At $9 million it was a reasonable option, but it seems like time to cut ties with Jenkins. After his first two full seasons Jenkins looked like a star on the rise. But his career average is .277, he hasn’t eclipsed 30 home runs since 2000. Surprisingly his career OPS+ is 116 and he has been over 100 every season since his rookie year. I suppose that means Jenkins is slightly above average. His most comparable player is Torii Hunter (of course that doesn’t include defense) who is about to get a huge payday. Jenkins is significantly better against right handers and I think he will be a good righty only LFer for another team in the NL.
  • Lastly the Detroit Tigers acquired Edgar Renteria from the Braves. MLBTradeRumors seem to like the deal for the Braves. This move will allow the Tigers to move Carlos Guillen to 1B. I have to be honest though, this is a curious move. The Tigers only had one regular position player under 30 last year (Curtis Granderson). This team has an incredibly young pitching staff so maybe they feel like they can get by with an older offense. Renteria is coming off a great season but he isn’t getting any younger. This is definitely a win now move. I don’t think it’s a bad one though.

Another anti-climatic World Series

Over the past 10 years the team that loses the World Series have won a combined 10 games (or an average of 1 per year). Five of those ten were sweeps. FIVE!! The World Series has seriously become boring. We haven’t even had a Series get to the 6th game since 2003. What is the reasoning behind this? Is one league that much better than the other? Let’s take a look and see what we can find. I am going to remove the 2001, 2002 and 2003 World Series (all of those went at least 6 games) and concentrate on the other seven. In case you forgot here are the results (the team with the better record is in bold):

  • 2007: Boston 4, Colorado 0
  • 2006: St. Louis 4, Detroit 1
  • 2005: White Sox 4, Houston 0
  • 2004: Boston 4, St. Louis 0
  • 2000: Yankees 4, Mets 1
  • 1999: Yankees 4, Atlanta 0
  • 1998: Yankees 4, San Diego 0

Now some stats (mostly useless I am sure):

  • AL wins vs. NL wins: 6-1
  • Team with a better record: 3-4
  • Home Field Advantage: 5-2
  • Winners average league rank
    • OPS+: 4.4 (3.7 if you remove the worst team)
    • ERA+: 3.3 (2.3)
  • Losers average league rank:
    • OPS+: 6 (5 if you remove the worst)
    • ERA+: 2.9 (2.5)

Those stats don’t show a lot, but my point was to determine whether one team had a significant advantage over the other. Home field advantage played in there bit but doesn’t that occur within all World Series? Is the AL just that much more dominant? I know that everyone thinks the AL has dominated but they are only 8-5 in the Wild Card era. I don’t know what to make of all of this. It’s kind of sad because the rating for the World Series get worse and worse, excitement-wise. I am convinced there isn’t anything that jumps out at me why these series have been so lopsided. Part of me wants to say that the whole concept of the team with a better regular season record cruise through their league’s playoffs and aren’t as prepared, mentally, to win it all. That is probably crazy talk though.