Sunday, June 29, 2008
I will score my predictions utilizing the following formula. If I nail the position of the team, 1 point will be tabulated. If I am off by one place in the division, 2 points, by two places, 3 points, and so on. Whether I was over or under in my prediction will make no difference in this formula. It will be interesting to note if there are any division or league deviations. That is, whether or not I predict with the same accuracy from division to division and league to league.
Note: All standings based up to, and including, June 28, 2008.
In the comment section of this division a reader called me a 'fool'. Good for him. Really, the Jays are the only team to truly disappoint, while the Rays are my pride and joy prediction.
Pre Season Prediction
Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays
New York Yankees
Boston Red Sox
Mid Point Standings
Boston Red Sox (4)
Tampa Bay Rays (2)
New York Yankees (1)
Baltimore Orioles (2)
Toronto Blue Jays (4)
I would look for the division to stay somewhat the same with the Jays passing the Orioles. The Rays are behind the Red Sox by 0.2% and could technically overtake them this coming week as they do have a game in hand.
Division Score - 13
The Indians have disappointed everyone. Injuries and under performances have been the major culprits. While the record is worse then it should be, given the teams run differential, the club hasn't been very consistent.
Pre Season Prediction
Chicago White Sox
Kansas City Royals
Mid Point Standings
Chicago White Sox (2)
Minnesota Twins (4)
Detroit Tigers (1)
Cleveland Indians (4)
Kansas City Royals (2)
Despite following the Central slightly closer then the rest of the American League, the results were somewhat the same. The Twins, a team whom I selected as a surprise team of 2008. The Tigers are making quite the run and will probably shake up the division a little, I still don't see them as a playoff team with that rotation and such a weak farm system.
Division Score - 13
There is a chance I live in the eastern time zone and watch very little west coast baseball. There is a chance that I underrate the Angels because their farm system continues to disappoint once the players make the show. Or maybe I just don't like the Angels of Anaheim in Los Angeles.
Pre Season Prediction
Los Angeles Angels
Mid Point Standings
Los Angeles Angels (2)
Oakland Athletics (2)
Texas Rangers (2)
Seattle Mariners (4)
I truly do not understand what is going on in Seattle. I figured between Bedard and Hernandez the rotation would be excellent and Putz would continue to dominate in the bullpen. My pre season pick to win the Cy Young is performing at a high level, but Bedard has not brought it like he was supposed to and Putz has been awful. Oh, and the Athletics are somehow a very good ballclub.
Division Score - 10
When the Mets acquired Santana most people were writing them into the World Series. Those same people were also wondering if the Marlins could win 70 games without Cabrera. Bizzaro baseball, according to Sports Illustrated, should have been written about the National League East, instead of the American League East when one considers the predictions made by the magazine.
Pre Season Predictions
New York Mets
Mid Point Standings
Philadelphia Phillies (1)
Florida Marlins (4)
Atlanta Braves (2)
New York Mets (2)
Washington Nationals (2)
The Nationals flat out stink and the Marlins are greatly over achieving. If the season was played on paper, looking at runs scored and allowed, the Marlins would be in forth and the Braves and Mets would bump up a slot. In other words, I would be off by the slimmest of margins.
Division Score - 11
Probably the most passionate and outspoken fans come from the the National League Central. I was ripped up after posting this article at The Bleacher Report with comments ranging from 'saddest article', to 'insane'. Interestingly, these same people are nowhere to be found today.
Pre Season Predictions
St. Louis Cardinals
Mid Point Standings
Chicago Cubs (3)
St. Louis Cardinals (2)
Milwaukee Brewers (2)
Pittsburgh Pirates (3)
Houston Astros (1)
Cincinnati Reds (3)
The Cubs are definitely surprising me, although I am confident many of the players are playing above their heads. Although the same can be said for St. Louis I suppose. All of Pittsburgh, Houston, and Cincinnati are terrible teams and are essentially interchangeable. Thus, this is a very winnable division for the Brew Crew.
Division Score - 14
Similar to the American League West, but to an even further extent, this is a division I don't see often. This division is definitely disappointing and at times, tough to watch.
Pre Season Predictions
Los Angeles Dodgers
San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants
Mid Point Standings
Arizona Diamondbacks (1)
Los Angeles Dodgers (1)
San Francisco Giants (3)
Colorado Rockies (1)
San Diego Padres (3)
The Giants are in third? Wow! But outside of that, I will most likely be patting myself on the back all season. The Diamondbacks are the class of the division, with the Dodgers still in search of some legitimate power. Watch out for the Rockies as the club returns to health. A hot start to July could put them, and their deep farm system, in the CC Sabathia sweepstakes.
Division Score - 8
That I predicted the National League West with the best accuracy is extremely surprising. This is by far the division which I follow the least.
American League - 36
National League - 33
In addition to best predicting the NL West, being on the ball with the entire National League is startling. A theory could be that watching so much American League baseball has created a bais with my predictions and projections. Clearly players who come through the Indians system have a soft spot in my heart, little did I know that was true about the American League in general.
At some point this week I will take a look at my award predictions and work through some updated predictions.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Keep in mind, the old addage which states that a manager never trades a starting pitcher for a hitter. Especially young, high ceiling pitchers.
Immediate Dividends - Pitchers for Hitters
The Tampa Bay Rays acquire Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett, and Eduardo Morlan from the Minnesota Twins for Delmon Young, Brendan Harris, and Jason Pridie.
As of 48 hours ago, this was a much closer trade. Garza was having a fine, yet unspectacular season. He has spent some time on the disabled list with what sounded like a serious elbow injury. This led to Garza having a brutal April where he walked more hitters then he struck out. The time off has clearly done wonders for Garza and he has had two of the best months of his professional career.
At 24 years old, the kid is legitimizing the high praise he received as a minor leaguer, where he rated as high as an A prospect according to John Sickels at Minor League Ball. Additionally, Keven Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus last rated Garza as an 'excellent' prospect, the best in the Twins organization entering the 2007 season. Seems like sufficient praise to me and all signs pointing to future ace.
Owning a 4.25 FIP, which is mostly due to a terrible April, Garza is heading in the direction of stardom. If he can remain healthy, he will undeniably give the Rays the best 1 thru 3 in the majors. Watching him own the Marlins on Wednesday was a treat.
Adding Bartlett to the puzzle has helped the Rays significantly. A year ago, this team was the worst fielding team in the majors. While Bartlett hasn't been without fault, his range has made the Rays one of the strongest teams up the middle.
Lastly, 22 year old Eduardo Morlan missed a month and a half of action this season and has consequently only thrown 12 innings of relief for the Rays Double A club, the Montgomery Biscuits. It appears as though the injury flared up early in the season, where the Biscuits simply let him rest, however after letting up 5 runs on April 20th, it was only a matter of time before the young Cuban was shut down. In 6.1 innings in June, Morlan has allowed 1 run, with 8 baserunners and two strikeouts. Far from dominant, but far from terrible.
The center piece going to the Twins, and one of my personal favorites, Delmon Young, has definitely disappointed in his second full major league season. At just 22 years old there is still plenty of room to grow for Delmon, but the Twins certainly expected more from the first overall pick, and one time consensus top prospect.
However, the news is not all bad with Delmon. He has taken substantial strides in both his walk and strikeout rates. In fact, his strikeout to walk ratio is bordering on league average and has shown a steady improvement this season. With a brutal home run per fly ball rate, look for Delmon to have a big second half and close the gap that Garza has created.
Following baseball quite closely, it came as a surprise to me that Harris has played in the majority of the Twins ballgames this season. This may be due to Harris, by all measures, being a fairly poor player this season. Essentially, the Twins would be no worse without Harris.
At 23 years old Pridie had a fairly strong minor league season in 2007. Splitting time between Double and Triple A Pridie displayed the numbers of a player poised to be a forth outfielder. A year later, and Pridie would struggle to earn the label "Quadruple A".
Mid-season Grade: While this trade can be reflected upon for the next 4-6 years, at this point, given that the Twins have gotten nothing from Harris and Pridie, and Garza has outperformed Young, the Rays are the clear winners. When one also considers that the Rays truly have nowhere for Delmon to play currently, and Garza has allowed the Rays to take their time with all of the prized pitching prospects, the decision becomes that much more easy to make.
The Detroit Tigers 'give away' Jair Jurrjens and Gorkys Hernandez to the Atlanta Braves for Edgar Renteria.
While the Tigers received a little more name power then the Mets did when they traded away Kazmir, it wouldn't surprise me if the results remained the same. Renteria is a fine hitter and a decent defensive short stop. The move allowed the Tigers to slide the fast aging Carlos Guillen to the hot corner and the growing waste line of Miguel Cabrera to the old man corner. In fact, I would argue that the shifting of positions was the most significant part of this trade.
Renteria has performed at the level everyone outside of Detroit expected. That is, those outside of Detroit saw a hitter whom could not hold his own in the American League. Those in Detroit saw a hitter with batting title potential. The soon to be 33 year old should be counted on for a little more then replacement level production.
Meanwhile, the Braves again cleaned house. That is, consider the Braves moved prospect SUPER bust Andy Marte for Renteria, received two solid years out of Renteria and then sent him packing in the last year of his contract for Jurrjens and Hernandez. Yes Chipper, the baseball gods are sure acting against you!
I recalled watching Jurrjens pitch against Fausto Carmona and the Cleveland Indians last season and thinking to myself, 'wow, this kid looks just like Carmona!' It was everything about him, from his build to his delivery and pitches. The only thing missing was Fausto's nasty grill. Armed with only a slightly slower fastball, slider, change combination, Jurrjens has the same ridiculous movement of Carmona.
The groundball percentage isn't quite there yet, but if last nights dominant performance against the Jays is an indication of things to come, WATCH OUT!
There isn't much to say about Gorkys. He is 20 years old and succeeding while playing at a very advanced level for his age. The power leaves a little to be desired, and he could cut down on his strikeouts, but overall, the kid is doing a fine job at High A.
Mid-season Grade: Had the Tigers sent Hernandez for Renteria this trade probably would have graded out as a wash. The Braves wanted to get Yunel Escobar in the lineup, and rid themselves of Renteria's $10M contract. That the Braves also received the 22 year old Jurrjens is quite the epic heist. Even if Renteria hits the game winning single in game 7 of the World Series, the Tigers overpaid for a players name.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim trade Orlando Cabrera to the Chicago White Sox for Jon Garland.
The Reds-Rangers trade would have fit perfectly in here, but I already reflected on that trade. So I will make do with the Cabrera-Garland trade which came as a surprise to the baseball world. Rare is it to see two teams trade such valuable assets, but like the Braves wanting to make room for Escobar, this was a trade which was required to open up spots on the respective ballclubs.
In Garland, the Angels received an innings eater. There was a feeling after this trade that the Angels made out the better of the two given Garland's move to an easier division and into a more pitcher friendly ballpark. To this point, Garland has posted what is essentially his career averages, with the exception of his home run per fly ball rate. Something that comes as a surprise to everyone.
Garland has been steady, yet unspectacular. Quietly going about his business as the Angels "#3" starter behind Lackey and Weaver. Garland's addition nearly resulted in one of Santana or Saunders not making the club out of Spring Training, however, an injury to Kelvim Escobar allowed for the young duo to make the club. Additionally, Garland's addition has helped the Angels own the majors 5th best ERA by starters, while logging the second most innings. This acquisition will be most notable in the playoffs, when the Angels will have a second veteran in the rotation.
Similar to Garland, Cabrera has had essentially a career average season. Would the White Sox be better off with Uribe as an everyday player? Probably not. And the added depth has definitely helped this team as it leads the American League Central.
Mid-season Grade: This trade grades out as a wash, although if I was pressed to pick a winner, I would take the ChiSox. The move, as mentioned added depth to the White Sox infield. But it also allowed for Danks and Floyd to simply take a job out of Spring Training. Both pitchers have been spectacular and I am certain that not being pressured into succeeding has certainly helped. To the Angels defense, Garland filled a hole that the Escobar injury created. With middle infield deep within the Angels system, they could afford to move Cabrera. Rare is it to find a trade that works out perfectly for both sides, this may be one of them.
Last night at Dunn Tire Park in Buffalo, New York, home of the Triple A Buffalo Bisons, the ballgame was suspended in the bottom of the ninth with two outs. WOW! The score, however, was tied at one run apiece, so the game obviously had to be delayed. At nearly 10 PM EST, delaying the game would have been a terrible idea. However, what would have been most bothersome, is the fact that the "fridaynightbash!" was essentially ruined without the fireworks!
The fog, which should have led to a called game in the 8th inning, essential stole a victory from the Bisons. According to bisons.com,
Unfortunately for the Herd, the heaviest of the fog came a half inning too early. Buffalo led 1-0 from the second inning on before the Yanks used the foggy conditions to their advantage in the top of the ninth. With one out, Matt Carson lofted a deep fly ball that left fielder Jason Tyner never saw. After landing on the warning track, the ball bounced over the wall for a ground rule double.Definitely a tough outing for the Bisons whom have been making a nice run as of late.
Then with two outs, pinch hitter J.D. Closser hit a routine fly ball to center on a 1-2 pitch from Buffalo closer Jeff Stevens. This time it was Brad Snyder who was forced to look through the thick fog and find the ball. Unfortunately, the Bisons centerfielder was unable to and the ball landed behind him for a game-tying double.
Friday, June 27, 2008
You'd figure that the halfway point of a season would be more notable than it is in baseball. There's no real divider, since the All-Star break comes a bit later than normal this season. The 81-game mark is close, but the 81st game seems no different than the 82nd, not unless you're counting. It's no different for injuries—they're not up, actually, it just seems like it. The spectrum is about the same as in any other year. The Cards, Yankees, and Marlins have already lost more than 700 days to the DL, while the Dodgers have spent $22 million on the players they have on the DL. On the other side, the White Sox are leading in terms of general health, losing only 120 days to what are mostly insignificant injuries; they are one of three teams, along with the Royals and Marlins, who have lost less than $2 million so far. I'll wait until the end of the season to see how DXL and Injury Cost work out, since even half a season is too small a sample size to gauge its usefulness in analysis...Wow, the Dodgers have $22M in injuries? While it is obvious that Jason Schmidt is taking up a great deal of that, $22M is a lot of money to have doing nothing for your club.
However, this article is not about Jason Schmidt, rather, it is about Jeff Francoeur, whom Carroll discusses and reflects upon another authors work. Carroll writes,
The interesting part of Francouer needing one contact isn't that he got it done, as detailed well by Dave O'Brien, but that it took this long for the Braves to figure out what he needed and then get it done. It's not clear if Francoeur didn't tell them he wasn't picking up the rotation of the ball, but it's been clear for a while that his odd day/night split had to have some sort of explanation. Optics is one of the lesser-known areas in sports medicine, so a lot of people will be watching Francoeur and checking their stat page for players with day/night splits of their own.And what do these day/night splits say (AVG/OBP/SLG)?
Day - 292/325/520
Night - 267/312/422
As you can see from Frenchy's career line, he is a superior hitter during the day. Most notably from his power numbers. That is, Francoeur's career Isolate Power (ISO) figure sits at 228 during the day and 155 at night. In other words, Francoeur is well above average in terms of power during the day, and right around average at night. A substantial difference for a young hitter.
However, let's discover how Francoeur performs in terms of his strikeout and walk rates during these splits. This should help notice whether he truly is seeing the ball differently. Strikeout and walk rates respectively:
Day - 19.1/4.3
Night - 20.5/5.4
These results aren't exactly what you would call, statistically relevant, however they do begin to tell us a story. Francoeur, undoubtedly strikes out a lot, and definitely too much when one considers the amount of walks he draws. But as you can see, he makes more regular contact during the day then he does at night. Conversely, Francoeur draws more walks at night then he does during the day. Thus, I would wager that he isn't having much of an issue picking up the ball at different times of the day.
All that being said, it appears as if Francoeur does have a noticable difference between night and day and this is clearly not a new occurence. This, despite David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constituion using 2007 as his sample when asserting,
If the vision is causing problems in night games, it's a recent development. Last season he hit better at night — .301 with 16 homers and a .466 slugging percentage in 116 night games, and .273 with three homers and a .390 slugging percentage in day games.Clearly 2006 and 2005 did not make a difference?
As Carroll mentions, it will be interesting to keep note of players whom have interesting day/night splits. I have always been a proponent that certain hitters do in fact have superior warm v. cool weather performances, suggesting it to be natural for a player who grew up in Florida, Texas, California, etc to struggle with the elements we frequent early in the baseball season up north.
Let's keep track of how Francoeur does for the rest of the season. Since Monday, Francoeur has played in 2 night games and 1 day game, here is his line thus far:
Day - 333/500/333
Night - 286/286/286
Too early to tell, obviously!
Update - 06/27/08 - 8:30 PM EST
Frenchy has a beard and according to Turner South broadcasters feels 'refreshed' and 'relaxed'. Apparently he spent Thursday on the links and is ready for the second half. My expert opinion on this, it must be the beard.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
A couple things for everyone to take note of...
The first, I have added a link to my 'Suggested Websites' sidebar called Brandon's BDD Blog. If you head to that link, you will have more up to date access to my blogs at Baseball Digest Daily. Or, you can click here.
The last week was a busy one for me as BDD, and one that I am definitely proud of. Here are the stories that I reported:
- WEEI in Boston reported that Curt Schilling will undergo season ending surgery.
- Taking credit with first reporting the story to the interweb, FAN 590 in Toronto reports that manager John Gibbons and much of his staff will be fired. The replacements were later reported as the coaching staff from the early 90s. An interesting move by the Jays.
- Blogger Awards were given out. MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year were voted on and reflected upon for the American League up to June 15th.
- King Felix hits a dinger and leaves game with an injury. This looked extremely serious and the star power of Hernandez seemed to be worthy of reporting. New reports suggest Hernandez will not miss a turn in the rotation, but at the time, the injury looked significant enough to set him down for some time.
As I mentioned, it was a relatively busy week reporting baseball news for Baseball Digest Daily. It makes it easy when there is a lot of news to report.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
However, on June 19th, The Onion released an article titled, "Fantasy Baseball Owner Rips Team in Media".
Really, the article is self-explanatory and has language which I have chosen to avoid here. To summarize, it is mocking the actions that each and every fantasy owner, in any sport, wants to one day take part in. To pull aside our players and ask them why it was so tough to leg out that triple, or how tough it is to put the ball in play with a runner on third and two outs.
Sam Walker's FantasyLand does touch on this subject, as author Sam Walker utilizes his press privileges to get into the clubhouse and...
In the middle of May, with my team safely ensconced in second place, I reloaded my beat-up wheelie bag for a trip to Toronto. With the Minnesota Twins due to arrive there for three games with the Blue Jays, I'll have nine of my players in the two dugouts, the highest concentration at any ballpark so far this season. This will be my first chance to try my hand at "managing" my team.Check out the article at The Onion, and if you are heading on a vacation, I suggest reading FantasyLand. It is simple and fun, the way fantasy sports were meant to be.
When ex-New York Met manager Willie Randolph was fired much of the scrutiny towards General Manager Omar Minaya was that he did it at 3 AM EST. Everyone knew, however, that the Mets were playing a series in Anaheim of Los Angeles. Which, apparently people have forgotten is 3 time zones 'behind' Eastern Standard Time.
Honestly, I respect The Hardball Times. It is one of the most informative and entertaining websites around. With that respect, comes a manner of expectations. I expect the site to not harp on issues that are irrelevant and brought to light by the mainstream media. However, with yesterday's 'Tuck! sez' weekly rendering, The Hardball Times joined mainstream media in poking fun at a non-issue.
That is, we all know that it was after 3 AM when the news was first reported. And with the lack of Monday Night Football, few people in North America were sitting around watching the sports ticker. But the fact is, Randolph was simply fired after the game in Los Angeles.
The game was scheduled to begin, according to Yahoo! Sports, at7:05 PM PST, or 10:05 PM EST. According to MLB.com, the game ran for three hours and ten minutes. For the sake of argument, I will assume that the game started at the scheduled time. Which puts the time the game ended (ie. the final out) at 10:15 PM PST, or 1:15 AM EST.
According to the previously cited ESPN article, the firing was first "announced in an e-mail at 12:14 AM PST Tuesday". This gives us a time frame of a whopping 2 hours for any post game interviews. A post game recap in the clubhouse. Some celebrations. Really, anything that typically goes on in the clubhouse after a game, and a win specifically.
This also gives 2 hours for Minaya to sit down with Randolph and give him the bad news.
What is the point here? 3 AM is a relative time. 3 AM EST is essentially 2 hours after the average west coast game. Thus, the firing essentially occurred after the ballgame.
Let's take a look at this from a Hollywood perspective, citing the movie Office Space.
Well, when a boss wants you to work on Saturday he generally asks you at the end of the day, right? ...So, all you gotta do is avoid him... on the last few hours on Friday, duck out early, turn off your answering machine... you should be home free, man. (Lawrence)In other words, the firing time was essentially Willie Randolph's fault, as he should have been aware of the firing (as the rest of the baseball world was) and attempted to slip out.
No. No, of course not. We find it's always better to fire people on a Friday. Studies have statistically shown that there's less chance of an incident if you do it at the end of the week. (Bob Slydell)Also, given that firings are typically done at the end of a work week, what is the difference in baseball which essentially has no beginning, nor an end of a work week?
So please, everyone, stop bashing Minaya because he fired Willie Randolph at '3 AM EST'. The team was not on the east coast, and in reality, 2 hours after a ballgame is fairly prompt timing.
Also, keep in mind, I have been one of the biggest critics of Omar Minaya. In February I wrote an article titled How to Make a Met Look Foolish and bashed a few of the recent moves Minaya had done.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
The Big Ones - Starting Pitcher Edition
The New York Mets acquire Johan Santana from the Minnesota Twins for Carlos Gomez, Phil Humber, Deolis Guerra, and Kevin Mulvey.
Obviously when the best pitcher in the game is traded, the trade will be referred to as the biggest of the off season. While other trades have been equally as important, I will start off with this trade as it is one that raised the most eye brows. That is, very few saw the haul the Twins received as equal to what was allegedly on the table. We all remember the rumors of the Red Sox offering all of their top prospects? Or the Yankees dangling everyone in their system? Even I asserted that the Twins received less then the Athletics did in the Haren deal.
Nearly three months into the season, it is difficult to argue with what the Twins received. While Gomez has a long way to go before becoming an All-Star centerfielder, and the Twins wouldn't even argue that they rushed the kid, he has certainly held his own in Minnesota. Improved patience at the plate and some overall growth, should equate to a very productive career for Gomez.
Humber has continued the regression that many people expected out of him. The strikeouts have decreased, and unfortunately the free passes have increased. While Humber made a decent case to make the team out of Spring Training, the Twins were obviously smart in keeping him down. At this point, Humber isn't worth a whole lot.
At the time of the trade, Mulvey was considered the third best pitcher in the Mets organization. As a 23 year old, he has certainly held his own in Triple A, and currently looks like a nice prospect, but nothing spectacular. A handful of starts for the Twins is likely at some point this season, at which point we will have a better understanding of exactly the type of pitcher Mulvey will be.
Lastly, Deolis Guerra, the pitcher with a name I can sadly spell without looking up, has been somewhat of a disappointment. Keeping in mind the kid still is not 20 years old, yet has more then held his own against far more advanced competition keeps his status somewhat high. John Sickels remains optimistic about Guerra simply because of his age and that the kid would be fortunate to be at this level had he been drafted out of high school in 2007.
In return for all of these question marks, the Mets have cruised along with Johan Santana. Despite numbers that are a far cry from that of his early seasons with the Twins, Santana remains an anchor in an otherwise shaky Mets rotation. Consider that Mike Pelfrey (whom was nearly traded to the Twins) has the third best ERA on the team. That said, with the Mets struggling to keep their heads above water, and the club moving to a new ballpark for the 2009 season, this trade is looking more and more in the Mets favor.
Mid-season Grade: Mets. This gap may widen if the high ceiling prospects that the Twins received continue to fall far from their potential.
The Arizona Diamondbacks acquire Dan Haren and Connor Robertson from the Oakland Athletics for Brett Anderson, Greg Smith, Dana Eveland, Carlos Gonzalez, Aaron Cunningham, and Chris Carter.
Only Billy Beane could turn one player (Mulder) into so many highly coveted prospects while saving the organization money and not losing a beat. Many are skeptical of Beane, but the guy knows how to run a business. That aside, there wasn't any way to argue against what Beane received at the time of the trade, and considering the A's performance to this point, it's tough to knock them for what Beane put together after it. Let's see how the players pan out.
Young lefty Brett Anderson has looked solid to this point in the season. Both his strikeout and walk rates have improved this season and Anderson looks poised to make a jump to the next level. At only 20 years old, the Athletics have no need to rush the kid, but they should reward him, despite being fairly unlucky.
Both Smith and Eveland have been better then advertised. Coming to Oakland, neither were considered as top of the rotation starters, in fact, it could be argued that neither were expected to truly make much of an impact in 2008. However, with highly sustainable numbers, both pitchers have proven that as 24, they are here to stay. The rest of the league has to hope that Beane doesn't swing them for another crop of prospects. Keep in mind, neither will be elite pitchers, but both should have some decent staying power if healthy.
As if the three pitchers were not enough, Beane also received underrated and underappreciated Carlos Gonzalez. Gonzalez posted some nice numbers in Triple A, even better when you consider he is all of 22 years old, and has done fine in the majors. The numbers have not been spectacular, but it appears as if he is with the Athletics to stay and should be a nice, although not spectacular, young bat.
Cunningham hasn't been anything overly impressive at Double A, but is fairly young for his level of competition. Displaying a decent walk rate at the plate, Cunningham is that 'typical' Athletic player of the past. The kid probably has the same value today that he had on the day of the trade.
The last piece of the trade is absolutely tearing the cover off of the ball. One of Minor League Baseball's Chris Carter's has 20 home runs in only 74 minor league games. Playing high A ball as a 21 year old, Carter's power cannot be questioned. His plate discipline however, now that is another story. Carter is striking out at a Ryan Howard-esqe pace of over 31%. All that being said, the power is incredible and will definitely be Carter's calling card to the major leagues. His stock has definitely gone up since the trade.
In return, the Diamondbacks made out fairly well themselves. To start, Connor Robertson is doing just fine in Triple A this season. As a reliever, Robertson has a very good chance at making the big club at some point this season. That, however, was more or less a throw-in. Probably the last player on the A's 40 man roster whom they would have been required let go in order to make room for Smith or Eveland.
Haren, is the player whom Josh Byrnes and many other front office executives around baseball were dying to acquire. To this point, Haren has been as solid as could be. Although the strikeout rate has taken a marginal dip, Haren has been extraordinarily stingy with the walks.
The Seattle Mariners acquire Erik Bedard from the Baltimore Orioles for Adam Jones, George Sherrill, Chris Tillman, Kam Mickolio, and Anthony Butler.
Initially, I saw this as a win for the Mariners, figuring this would put them over the top and make them the obvious choice for winner of the American League West. However after the later reports came through of the two additional prospects, I began to call this trade a wash. At this point, even that is pushing it as things certainly have not went as planned, with the Mariners playing some ugly ball and Bedard being less then spectacular with his new team.
Conversely, the Orioles have gotten far more then they ever could have expected despite the struggles of Jones and mediocre performances from the Mickolio and Butler. Keep in mind, I am stating mediocre, I am not writing the kids off, rather, I am asserting that they have not made major steps forward. However, there isn't a major league organization that would not love to have the 20 year old Butler as an A Ball starter.
The big gains have come from George Sherrill and Chris Tillman, who have been equally unreal this season. For Sherrill, the Orioles received a left handed anchor to their bullpen. The 31 year old has continued his impressive play and is being mentioned as a pitcher that will presumably be traded before the July 31st deadline.
The gem, however, is Chris Tillman. As a 20 year old, Tillman looks absolutely incredible in Double A. There is little doubt in my mind that this kid will shoot up essentially every prospect list and will be that player the Mariners regret letting go. As is, Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus (subscription required) is suggesting that Tillman's stock has gone "Way up, because what else can you say for a 20-year-old power arm dominating at the upper levels?"
Mid-season Grade: Orioles by a landslide. I think after Sherrill is moved and if, as rumored, Bedard is moved, for what will undeniably be a lesser amount then the M's gave up, this will go down as one of the biggest heist's of all time.
Monday, June 23, 2008
I return with another, and long overdue edition of Take a Chance on Me over at The Fantasy Baseball Generals. In this edition, I suggest players whom should be added despite their current injury status. Rafeal Furcal, Joey Devine, and Travis Hafner are players I discuss in this issues.
Check it out...
Eternal Image is creating caskets and urns for 'people with passion'. As per the website,
I am sorry, but this is going way too far! First, there should not be exclusive rights to something like this. Second, are people really buying into this?
People have passion. It runs through all we do – who we love, what we do for a living, how we worship and how we spend our free time. So, why, when our lives are so full of passion, do funerals – events designed to celebrate a life - have to be so plain and boring?
The truth is, they don’t. Eternal Image gives people choices. Whether you are pre-planning your own service (as many people do) or seeking a tribute for someone you love, Eternal Image can help you find products that represent the passion of your (or your loved one’s) life.
We are rolling new products out of production, adding new designs for existing licenses and seek new licensing partners.Let us help you celebrate the passions of life. Come see what we have in store...
Apparently the comically named Eternal Image is coming out with a Star Trek series, which isn't so much funny, as it is sad. Allow people to simply pass. MLB, you have already taken the money and time of so many people, why take the last cents and forever brand them with your logo?
What do you think?
Sunday, June 22, 2008
I have already come out and suggested that I do not believe MLB should implement instant replay, to me, it just opens a can of worms. As I mentioned in a previous article, "Where would it stop and how could one justify using this technology for an occasional instance when there is a multitude of other mistakes made throughout a game?"
With that in mind, according to USA Today, MLB is going forward with instant replay on 'boundary calls'. This, according to the USA Today article would "include whether a home run clears an outfield wall or if a potential home run is fair or foul." Yes, only home runs! Why not make it 'home runs which affect the outcome of the game'?
Tom Verducci discusses the issue as if it is a non-issue. But again, he only discusses home runs. Verducci then refers to the laughable response that those against instant replay are worried about robots taking over the game. To me, it is more about opening up instant replay to issues which matter and occur a lot more frequently. Of course, this issue is ignored by those who feel that upwards of ten calls a year need to be reversed and 1 or 2 of 2430 games be altered by a reversed home run call.
The problem is, people are so enamored with home runs, that they agree with Verducci, and others I have sourced (Rosenthal, Chuck). Simply put, do a search on MLB.com for Instant Replay and as of this afternoon (June 19, 2008) there are already 188 News Reports on this topic for 2008 alone. The majority of which are in favor of instant replay being implemented.
Colorado Rockies, for example, are for instant replay because of a few home run calls from last season. According to the report on MLB.com,
None of the Rockies' players interviewed felt replay was a bad idea. Helton said it would probably be smart to wait until next year, but having it would be better than not. The closest to a dissenting opinion was, well, not that close.Although admittedly, those interviewed were uncertain if instant replay would reverse each of the calls. Interestingly, these same players do not say anything about the blown call at home in last year's wild card playoff with the Padres. Remember, when Matt Holliday 'touched' the plate? A play that actually had an affect on the outcome of a meaningful game.
Similarly, Michael Cuddyer and the Minnesota Twins support the decision to implement instant replay. Cuddyer's rationale? Personal accolades,
"I would have had 25 homers and 110 RBIs that season," Cuddyer added. "But who is counting?"Is it safe to say that Cuddyer would be in favor of instant replay being implemented on the approximately 6% of missed strikes or balls from that season? Yes, that would be 150+ instant replays. Would that not make a difference in the outcome of a single game? What about for Cuddyer's personal accolades?
That is to say, Cuddyer is complaining about the result of one call out of 505 balls he put in play. That would make me think it is obvious that he would be pro-instant replay for the 150+ mis-called pitches, right? I suppose it depends whether it was going to have a positive or negative outcome.
Where the story takes an interesting turn is with Mike Jacobs of the Florida Marlins. Jacobs claims that instant replay should be used for what MLB intends to use it for, 'boundary calls'. Laughably, according to Jacobs,
"I don't think they you should do it on plays at the plate, or on the bases. I think there should definitely be a judgment call on that."Why?
Jacobs, too, had the misfortune of having a would-be homer ruled a double. At Dolphin Stadium on May 7, Jacobs had a long drive to right carom off the railing in right-center.Now it makes sense why Jacobs is on that side of the fence, he has had a call negatively affect him. Did it negatively affect the outcome of the game? In a word, no. The Marlins won the game 6 - 2. In other words, the difference between Jacobs getting the home run call and not getting the home run would have resulted in a single run. Which means the Marlins would have won 7 - 2. So instead of never trailing, the Marlins would have been, well, never trailing.
But according to Jacobs,
"Bottom line is those are tough calls. If they are not sure, they need to check."Those are the only tough calls? What about plays at first where the ump is to concentrate on the ball, the first basemen's foot, and the foot of the runner. Admittedly, the umpires more often then not get the correct call, but how many times do we see a player throw his helmet in dismay? Now lets check out each one of those with instant replay, because, I mean, 'we have the technology'.
The voice of reason? Charlie Manuel, manager of the Philadelphia Phillies claims that calls should remain a matter of human discretion. Although Manuel does conclude that the bottom line is getting the call right, and who could argue with that?
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Now this is a fine looking contest, one that I did not hesitate to enter. However, much of the promotion behind the contest is to call David Ortiz's home run. Honestly, I am fine with that, who wouldn't want to call Papi's home run? I would imagine even the most ignorant Yankees fan would have no problem with this.
I do, however have a problem with the logo behind the promotion. If the hitter is intended to be David Ortiz, whom is left handed, and shapely, why is the hitter clearly right handed and obviously fit?
That Ortiz is injured and is highly unlikely to participate in the Home Run derby only adds to the flaws behind this promotion.
In any event, it would be kind of cool to win this contest and win a trip to the City. I also think, that if anyone signs up for this contest because of me, they should be required to at least send me some pictures.
Friday, June 20, 2008
That aside, James offers up an excellent point in a recent column.
I probably shouldn't have posted the entire article, but I figured most wouldn't have access to it. That assumption is based on the fact that Bill James Online has, surprisingly, only 1500 readers. In any event, here is the permanent link.
By Bill James
I had an idea for a new statistic: GTC. Got to Closer. The stat had a half-life of about twenty seconds.
My idea was that, while Complete Games are virtually extinct, we could count something close to complete games by counting how often the starting pitcher got the ball to the closer. Have to define what’s a “closer”, but. .. we can deal with that.
But then I checked how many of these there actually were. Full schedule of games on Sunday (June 8), no complete games. You know how many starting pitchers got the ball to the closer?
Oh, well. .
So apparently it is a done deal. Under two months into the major league season it is a no-brainer. With between 3 and 6 years left to determine the value of a trade, the Dallas Morning News is reporting that the Rangers made the right choice in trading Volquez for Hamilton. Really? Already? It is official that Hamilton has outperformed Volquez to this point and will do so for the duration of the players respective careers within their current organizations?
Obviously we are talking about an article written by an author in Dallas, which is essentially the home town paper of the Rangers (Yes, I know the Rangers are located in Arlington). Sherrington first compares Hamilton and his tools to Alex Rodirguez. Clearly Hamilton deserves that praise as he was once referred to as,
a once-in-a-generation talent with a golden left arm (as a schoolboy pitcher he consistently hit 96mph) and a vicious home run swing (his bat speed was once clocked at a ridiculous 110mph). He was a true five-tool wonder... (SI, June 2, 2008)However, even with that said, it is difficult to compare Hamilton to Rodriguez. Consider ARod has a 40/40 crown to his name. Consider ARod has multiple gold gloves at a very demanding position. Possibly Sherrington simply forgot how incredible the tools that a 21 year old Rodriguez possessed.
All of that is besides the point. Nobody can disagree that Hamilton is an incredible ball player. He is exceeding the expectations that were placed upon him as a prospect. In fact, in 2005, John Sickels of Minor League Ball reflected upon his 2000 prospect rankings where Hamilton ranked as the #32 prospect in baseball. However, this past february Sickels reflected upon both his 2000 and 2001 (where Hamilton was #6) rankings and concluded that Hamilton was 'still developing'.
While Hamilton has always been a top rated prospect with tools that made scouts drool, Volquez, with an electric arm, always had scouts saying 'what if'? What if he could harness his control? What if he was in an organization that was better at grooming starting pitchers? What if?
Well, that 'what if' has come full circle and Volquez is making major league hitters look more foolish then the minor league hitters he was facing the previous five seasons. That is, his current 10.67 k/9 is 1.46 higher then his minor league line.
As a prospect, Sickels rated Volquez as high as a B+ in 2006. However this grade fell to a B in 2007. While a B grade for a starting pitcher is no knock on the kid, this would rate him in the same range as the Red Sox Justin Masterson and the Indians Adam Miller. In other words, he would rate as a top 50 pitching prospect if he qualified.
All that being said, let's now try and figure out if the jury should really be out on this trade. And, if they are, if they would agree with Sherrington.
First, Sherrington attempts to scoff at the idea of comparing a position player to a hitter. He does a nice job in luring stat heads in with his Win Shares reference, however he does so wrongfully. That is, while admitting it is difficult to compare a an everyday player to that of a starter who takes the field once every five days, why would the author utilize a statistic that relies heavily on the accumulation of statistics?
Utilizing Win Shares Percentage, Sherrington manages to adequately compare Hamilton and Volquez, however he does so only briefly. That is, Sherrington goes out of his way in citing where Hamilton sits in reference to the rest of the league in total Win Shares, however ignores the fact that Volquez leads the league in Win Share Percentage when compared with 'qualified' hitters and pitchers.
Sherrington continues reflecting upon the old adage, you don't trade good pitching for hitting:
Yes, Volquez is far surpassing anything anyone projected for him. It probably take an individual half a second to realize that a starting pitching is surpassing projections with an ERA below 2.00. But the thing is, Volquez was always a prospect to watch. It was just a matter of gathering his control and providing some consistency.
Good pitching is generally considered more valuable because it's so hard to come by, a point the Rangers patented. An ace is the most difficult acquisition of all. Besides winning games and stopping losing streaks and eating up innings, the ripple effect he creates – making the back end of the rotation better, saving wear and tear on the bullpen, improving team morale – is incalculable.
Volquez's mid-90s fastball and excellent changeup, both delivered from the same three-quarter arm slot the Rangers tried to change, have been the talk of the NL. The consistency he lacked as the Rangers rushed him along has emerged in Cincinnati, where he draws comparisons to his idol, Pedro Martinez.
Bottom line: Though highly regarded by the Rangers, Volquez is pitching at a level that surpasses anything anyone projected.
Well, Volquez is throwing a tonne of strikes and is forcing a lot of swing and misses. Is it unreasonable to think Volquez will continue to pitch at a sub 2.00 level? Definitely! Is it, however, unreasonable to think that the 24 year old Volquez harnessed his control? DOUBTFUL! Remember, he is all of 24 years old! Thus, while projection systems may not have projected a breakout season, it was far from a foregone conclusion that Volquez would never harness his control.
Alas, the homerism comes out,
And Hamilton? Even as he becomes the fastest player in AL history to 50 runs batted in or hits a 10th-inning, two-strike, opposite-field home run on the road or covers grass faster than any 6-4, 235-pound man should be allowed, his success is no surprise, really."His success is no surprise, really." REALLY!?!
I went over how highly regarded Hamilton was as a youngster, ranking as high as #6 on Sickels' prospect list. I went over how as a high schooler, Hamilton was referred to as a 'once in a generation' player. But really, his success should come as no surprise?
We are talking about a 27 year old whom is just reaching a full season's worth of ML games and at bats. As if that is not enough, the 27 year old has a total of 1100 minor league at bats, or just under 3 full seasons worth of games.
As if that were not enough, coming into this season, Hamilton had all of 418 at bats above high A ball. And even more telling, even fewer as an individual who could legally drink.
All that is to say, the book is hardly out on Hamilton. Scouting reports are just being made on the guy. Teams are still uncertain where his hot and cold zones are.
Furthermore, Hamilton has really never gone through the 'dog days of summer'. He has never had to battle with a serious prolonged slump, nor has he been involved in games that actually matter.
While the Rangers are not a true contender, it is obvious that Hamilton is playing in games that are far more meaningful and stressful then anything he has gone through in his previous playing days.
Thus, while Hamilton was once regarded as this type of mythic talent, to assert that his current production is not a 'surprise' is a joke! Furthermore, what is to say that Hamilton will not have another injury? He essentially had what, one healthy professional season when his body was youthful and limber and without 3+ years of drug and alcohol abuse. Yes, the odds are definitely in favor of him continuing this success!
At least, that is what Sherrington believes,
Given the incredible caliber of play that Volquez and Hamilton have delivered so far this season, maybe the real question should be: Who can keep it up?
If both, the debate lingers. Otherwise, discounting prospects of injury and, in one case, the possibility of relapse, bet on the guy who was supposed to be this good. At least you're sure Hamilton isn't in over his head, anyway.
None of what I had to say was to debate the fact that Hamilton is indeed a legitimate talent. In fact, in December, I reflected upon the Reds-Rangers trade and asserted that the Rangers had come out on top, concluding,
I guess as you can see, I'm definitely favoring the Rangers side of this deal, but not by much. The team was going to have a hole either way you look at it and I suppose getting a nearly certain everyday player for an uncertain pitching prospect is not a terrible trade off. Even though the team could have had Hamilton for nothing - that fact, is what makes this deal close, in that the Reds essentially acquired a top pitching prospect by allowing Hamilton to make the big league roster last April.However, where is the real debate here? Both players are having outstanding starts to their career and subsequently the 2008 season. But the fact remains that one player is at a position which is at the very top of every team's wish list.
Keep in mind, this is not to say that every team would not love to have Hamilton in the heart of their order. Rather, this is simply suggesting that most franchises would throw the farm at Johan Santana before an equal salaried Alex Rodriguez or Albert Pujols.
That is, consider when Manny Ramirez was placed on waivers two or three years ago. Teams opted to stay away from him claiming the headache, cost, and likelihood of a breakdown. Conversely, when Johan Santana and his expiring contract was placed on the trade block this past offseason, teams were lining up to send in their top prospects.
Thus, at this point, I will have to disagree with Sherrington. I will have to go against my previous conclusion. At this point, it is the Reds whom have won on this deal, and not the Rangers. It is the Reds, not the Rangers, whom have put together a nice rotation that will be taking care of the National League for years to come.
Meanwhile, the Rangers will have a potent lineup with Hamilton a regular at the All Star game. However, without pitching, the Ranger will never be a serious contender. They may a strong push and will add pressure to the rest of the American League West, but without starting pitching, the Rangers will struggle to maintain a record above .500. Furthermore, the team will continue to search for that franchise arm which has led to the club overspending on mediocre free agents.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
The focus of this post however is to direct you to Drunk Jays Fans website. Do this for a few purposes in the next 24 hours.
First, that laughter you are hearing from us in the North, thats Blue Jays GM JP Riccardi talking on the FAN 590 asserting that Cincinnati slugger Adam Dunn 'does not like baseball'. Whether this is true or not, the fact that Jays fans want this guy in Toronto only helps prove how little the Canadian 'baseball fan' knows about the sport.
Second, Mr. Prince Fielder hit an inside the park home run this afternoon. While it did not go without controversy, I can't wait to read what the Drunk Jays Fans have to say about Prince rounding the bases. It's too bad I am not certain what the DJF stance on instant replay is, otherwise I could have a good time with that while we wait for the rant.
Third, ex-Blue Jay David Bush nearly no-hit the Jays. He entered the 8th inning with a no-no before Overbay led off the inning with a triple. Actually, wait for Mike Wilner's show tonight to hear Jays fans call in asking why Riccardi gave away Bush.
Lastly, the DJF often lose it when the Jays stink it up. Be it leaving runners on base, or not knocking in a runner in scoring position, or just general knocks about David Eckstein. But either way, the Jays made an outstanding come back this afternoon shaving a 8 run down to a single run in the top of the 9th.
Check out the graph below for the win probability of this afternoons game (Courtesy Fan Graphs):
In other words, the ball game was well over while Bush was no hitting the Jays. DJF were presumably planning a great piece talking about how terrible the Jays were. And rightfully so, Mike Wilner was looking for ways to continually defend the Jays inept offense.
Either way, this should be an interesting 24 hours within the Jays blogosphere.
Better yet, Super Joe Inglett mashed a grand slam!
I'll post updates as they arise.
The first, I have added a link to my 'Suggested Websites' sidebar called Brandon's BDD Blog. If you head to that link, you will have more up to date access to my blogs at Baseball Digest Daily. Or, you can click here.
Next up, with more time, and summer in full gear, I have been able to sit down and watch more ballgames. With that has come the ability to report more news. Over at Baseball Digest Daily I have been reporting injuries as I come across them live and give my opinion/understanding of the injury as it occurs. Here are my most recent entries:
- Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano leaves game with 'right shoulder discomfort'.
- Victor Martinez leaves game early with reported elbow injury. Obviously we have more information now, and Martinez has since gone under the knife.
- The injury woes continue for JJ Putz as he leaves the game with what was later diagnosed as a hyper-extended right elbow.
Finally, this is post #99 of The Outsiders Look. While things here have been sporadic and several of the series' which I was incredibly excited about have faded, I am glad to see that the readership has grown. While I am not in need of my own server anytime soon, having regular readers definitely keeps my motivation high.
With that said, is there anything that you the reader wish for me to add? Anything I should return to doing?
As always, thanks for reading!
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
All that being said, Squawking Baseball is self proclaimed as "Wall Street analysis of Major League Baseball's player market". Furthermore, the stated purpose of Squawking Baseball is,
This is precisely what drew me to Squawking Baseball and has continued to draw me in. That is, the discovery of baseball through an economic perspective. There are plenty of rumor websites, plenty of team blogs, plenty of sabermetric websites, but very few that are dedicated to understanding how and why managers exploit the market-although, isn't the 'why' obvious?
[To]stay in front of the trends, play the cards right, and, hopefully, stay in contention.
That’s where we come in. We are baseball people first and foremost. Despite tender ages (mostly early to mid-20s), everyone on our staff has experience in a Major League front office, as well as outside businesses. Some of us also happen to be Wall Street junkies, consistently beating the stock market by staying ahead of the curve. What we hope to create with this blog is an outlet for us, and others, to look at the market for baseball talent with the same kind of thoughtful, diligent outlook.
This week's article of the week is a look back on Major League Baseball's Rule IV draft. Shawn of Squawking Baseball asks, 'Is the Draft Efficient?'
In this post, the author (Shawn) discusses the merits of baseball's current draft system. Shawn acknowledges the system which allows the players to make up their salary demands, which in some cases results in inferior players being selected due to signability. However, this is only a partial flaw, as for the most part, the best players in the draft are going with the top picks.
But there’s another facet to this that I think is pretty interesting: the draft inherently changes the sport’s incentive-structure, as it rewards the league’s worst teams. In other words, if you’re not going to be good, you may as well try to be awful. Does this lower the quality of play, and therefore hurt the product? It’s very tough to say.While a valid point, the baseball draft is unlike any other of the professional sports. That is, most even the very best draft picks, take several years before they make it to the majors, and even longer before they are truly impact players. Furthermore, when one considers that there is a 2 in 50 chance of selecting a meaningful player in the draft, those best players become even more of a rare breed. While 2 in 50 might be somewhat of an exaggeration, consider that many of the players on a MLB roster were not selected in the draft as they were considered international.
However, the author concludes,
But overall, I think the draft accomplishes its goals. Top-tier amateur talent is distributed to the teams that need it (or value it) the most, in effect allowing bad teams to shorten their success cycles. As we’ve learned from the expanded playoff system, any mechanism that allows more teams to be competitive without shaving significant dollars off of big market teams’ top lines is generally good for the sport.It is tough to argue with this sentiment. While the poor teams will struggle to be annual threats, if they play their cards correctly and make intelligent and timely moves, it is tough to imagine the teams are without hope.