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The Greatest Game

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

My Promised Seattle Mariners blog 

I promised Easycure that I'd include something about the Seattle Mariners this week, and I have a little free time tonight, so I thought that I'd take a look at some of their moves this offseason and see where my fingers end up from there.

The first thing that pops into mind is Scott Spiezio. I was actually hoping that Yankees were going to sign him to relieve Giambi at 1B and also Boone at 3B when he slumps. It would be a hell of a lot better than Tony Clark, but I'm guessing Scott wanted a starting position, and he seems to have gotten it with the M's, plus he got a 3 year contract. He ended up taking a 30% paycut, but it's been a tough year and he did pretty well for himself coming off a not-so-great year. Spiezio had 12 Win Shares last year, 10 of them Offensive Win Shares. It looks like he's replacing Cirillo & Bloomquist (both of whom had 3 WS, but each only have 1 OWS) at 3B. Cirillo, as it turns out, was just traded for a bunh of flotsam and jetsam from San Diego. According to espn.com, Cirillo is going to become a "$6.6 million 'super utility' infielder" for the Padres. Hopefully "super-utility" translates into "doesn't play much at all, if at all". Of course, the Padres are also getting $4.5 million to offset the cost, so I guess he's more like a $1.1 million "super utility" infielder. Sorry to get off track from Spiezio. I expect him to do a bit better this season, though playing in Seattle will make his numbers look worse. ZIPS forcasts his numbers to look like .255/.332/.409 which, when adjusted for his home park, are probably at least as good as last years, if not a touch better.

The next thing I want to look at is Freddy Garcia. He just signed a $6,875,000 1-year deal with the M's, avoiding arbitration. That's a lot of money for a guy whose numbers have declined as much as his over the past 3 years. I heard a lot about his struggles last year, and not a lot about his successes. Here are some of his declining numbers from 2001-2003:
          IP     BB     SO   W   L   ERA   #P/IP    OPS
2001 238.2 69 163 18 6 3.05 14.8 .625
2002 223.2 63 181 16 10 4.36 16.2 .729
2003 201.1 71 144 12 14 4.52 16.7 .751
Even if you're a Freddy Garcia fan, you have to be concerned about that trend. I wouldn't expect anything much better out of him this year.

I was thinking of writing about the M's exchange of Cameron for Ibañez, but all I can really say is: OUCH! Here is a fantasic blog entry by Aaron Gleeman that shows how great Cameron really has been, I'd advise everyone to go ahead, take a minute or two from my blog, and read this article. Then take a look at Ibañez's numbers real quick. And keep in mind before you flip over to espn.com to take a look at them, Raul played in one of the best hitter's parks in the majors last year. Cameron out Win Share'd Ibañez Offensively - 13 to 12 - while one played in one of the best offensive parks and the other played in one of the worst offensive parks. Oh yeah, Cameron also wins in Defensive Win Shares 8 to 4. While some people think the trade-off between the two isn't all that great, I think it's more of a chasm then a crack.

Everything else looks a bit even-up for the M's. I don't think that they improved their team this offseason at all. Rhodes for Guardado is about an even swap. Edgar is a year older, so there is even less of a chance of him getting his 500 AB this year. Spiezio for Cirillo is a big upgrade. And so is not trading for Vizquel. Oh yeah, Quinton McCracken for Greg Colbrunn? I guess if you need a speedy guy on your bench to not take ABs from the better players, Quinton is as good a guy as any, but he's only had one decent year which looks much more like a fluke than the norm. Here are his OPS's from 1999: .641, .399 (in 15 AB), .588, .825, .547. Which one of these is not like the other? Meanwhile Colbrun has put up these since 1999: .911, .928, .868, .1004, .806. What the huh??? The M's couldn't get anything more for Colbrunn than Quinton? I know these are just numbers, and maybe there was something more to the trade than just trying to upgrade the team. Maybe the M's thought that the missing piece to their puzzle was a speedy reserve outfielder that should never get an at-bat. It could be just a salary dump - it looks like Colbrunn was due a bit of money this year, so they traded him away for some scraps and free up some money for something else. If that's the case, where did the money go? Freddy Garcia? To the Padres to eat Cirillo's contract?

Hopefully, for M's fans, they aren't done making moves this offseason, but so far, it seems like quite the disappointment so far.
# posted by shawn : 1/07/2004 07:01:00 PM -

Vlad to the....Orioles? Mets? 

Lots of news online today about the Mets considering Vlad as an option. Of course it would be a much better idea than running Cedeño out there every day, that's for sure. Right now the Orioles are offering Vlad 5 years at $65 million.

Too bad King George jumped at signing Shef to counteract the Sox's trading for Schilling. If they had a bit more patience, they'd be able to nab Vlad pretty easily for that kind of money. Of course, that all depends on whether Vlad would actually want to play in New York City.

# posted by shawn : 1/07/2004 02:54:00 PM -

This perfectly describes my feelings towards Rose 

Everyone should read this article by Peter Gammons about Pete Rose.
# posted by shawn : 1/07/2004 01:26:00 PM -

Roberto Alomar signs cheap 

It looks as though Roberto Alomar finalized his contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks today. He signed for $1 million, but according to Lee Sinins, $350,000 of it is deferred until 2009. Yes, that is not a mistype: 2009! So his contract, for all intents and purposes, is $650,000. What a bargain! I know Alomar has been way below his career averages over the past couple years, and going to a contender didn't do anything to his numbers like some people thought, but $650,000 today for the chance that he returns to some semblence of his former self is a fantastic deal, in my mind. He's going to be replacing Junior Spivey and Matt Kata in the lineup.

The only problem is that Kata is young and possibly improving from his .257/.315/.420 from last year, and now Alomar is taking his place and possibly stunting his growth. Spivey is currently in Milwaukee and Kata will be moving into Counsell's utility infield position. Alomar was .258/.333/.349 last year. Ouch. And his fielding (according to his Zone Rating) has been down quite a bit, too.
# posted by shawn : 1/07/2004 11:49:00 AM -

Darn, another Rose post. 

I need to stop saying that I'm never going to something again. I just wanted to leave you few readers with this link. It's an article about how Pete Rose's runners are disputing Rose's new "admissions". Essentially they are saying that he did bet on the Reds and he did bet more than 5 times a week. AND that he placed his bets according to his conversations with other teams' managers.

If this is true, he should never be allowed back into baseball. Not only did he violate one of baseball's most sacred rules, but he also (if these allegations are true, and I really see much reason why these guys would lie at this point) essentially used insider information to place these bets. These managers spoke to Rose in confidence, then Rose turned around and tried to use this information for his monetary gain.

But David Pinto says that Hall of Fame voters are now changing their mind. This is excellent news! And Rose only has 2 years left on his eligibility. Hopefully he won't get voted in now that he's confessed.
# posted by shawn : 1/07/2004 08:17:00 AM -

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Juan to KC 

Looks like KC further improved their team today by signing Juan Gonzalez - another solid move by KCs management. I've been impressed by their activity this offseason, especially by not overpaying Ibañez and letting him walk. I'm not as big a fan of his as some are. Yeah, he's an OK player, but he's nothing really to get excited about. I'd much rather have Reggie Sanders or Juan Gonzalez for a season than Ibañez for 2 or 3. In this market, it seems pretty easy to pick up a solid outfielder pretty cheap. Yeah, Juan has had injury problems, but I think it's worth the risk to spend $4M this year (plus incentives that could up his total to about $6M) and possibly get a guy that plays all season with a .950 OPS or so and 40 HR and 120 RBI. He just needs to stay healthy.

I'm not sure who I pick for the AL Central yet, but I can tell you that I'd love to see KC win this year. And this coming from a Yankee fan! I never thought that I'd be rooting FOR KC - I still remember the days of the hated Royals and Georgie Brett, Willie Wilson, Hal McRae, UL Washington, and all the rest. Good luck this year, KC.
# posted by shawn : 1/06/2004 12:45:00 PM -

Where have all the Rose fans gone? 

To paraphrase the great Pete Seeger:

Where have all the Rose fans gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the Rose fans gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the Rose fans gone?
The truth has picked them every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Now that Rose admitted betting on baseball I've read and heard a lot about how he's just confirming everything that all of us - and I mean the realistic baseball fans - have known all this time: Pete Rose bet on baseball. No, he's still not contrite about it all, he's still not very humble over the whole thing - he's just doing this to try to get reinstated. I've also read and heard in several places the question, "I wonder what all those people who were rooting Pete on all these years, who have been standing in his corner adamantly refusing to accept that he ever bet on baseball, I wonder what those people are saying now?"

The funny thing is that I haven't heard word one from them. Maybe I missed an article somewhere or an interview or something, but I really haven't heard from any of them. I haven't heard anyone stand up and support Rose now like they were before he admitted to his baseball gambling.

As a well-known Rose hater (OK, "hate" is a strong word, like my mom always told me, but I still want to use it here), I'm hoping that they abandon him. He's been lying for years and years. Lying to everyone, but especially lying to those people that have been supporting him by denying his gambling on baseball. Well, hopefully this "new" piece of evidence will help shed some more light on Pete Rose the person for all those people.

Well, I've written one more post about Pete Rose then I told myself that I would. The next post will be about something a bit more interesting then Pete Rose, I promise.
# posted by shawn : 1/06/2004 10:02:00 AM -

Monday, January 05, 2004

Texas' Acquisitions 

See, I told you I would post baseball news not necessarily related to the Yankees. The Rangers signed second baseman Eric Young today. My first reaction was "ah, another barely average player to go along with the other barely average acquisitions. Here are the 2003 stats of the 4 players the Rangers signed this off-season (I don't have cumulative 3-year stats for them, but I will add them as soon as I can get my hands on them):

AVG OBP SLG OPS
Eric Young .251 .336 .392 .727
Brian Jordan .299 .372 .420 .791
David Dellucci .227 .313 .352 .665
Brad Fullmer .306 .387 .500 .887

A quick glance at them shows Dellucci was quite below average last year, but he was mostly a spot player and didn't get much playing time, so maybe he'll do better as more of a full-time player, right? Possibly, but from the Rangers' roster, it looks like Dellucci is going to have pretty much the same role next year as he did last year. And just for giggles, his 2002 numbers were .245/.326/.402/.727 in 400+ AB, so it's not like he was tearing it up when he did play more.

Eric Young is also looking pretty average, too, but at least he stole 28 bases (at a 70% success clip) for what it's worth.

Jordan's numbers looked average last year even though he had limited plate appearances due to injury. If you look at his 2002 numbers, they are roughly the same - it doesn't look like he's going to do much better than an OPS of the .780-.800 range, though away from Dodger Stadium his numbers were a more impressive .333/.424/.454/.878, so maybe the Rangers got a decent player. Of course, he still has to stay healthy.

Fullmer's numbers look pretty good, though only in limited plate appearances (206 AB). It doesn't look like he's ever going to recreate his 2000 season in Toronto.

Of course, all these numbers are moot when not comparing them to the players they are going to replace. Fullmer is going to replace Palmiero, who is on the slow downslide of his career. If Fullmer can stay healthy and get the ABs, I think that he'll be an adequate replacement for Palmiero, and at a much cheaper price. This signing looks like a plus.

Where is Eric Young going to play? He's gotta be a reserve, right? With an infield of Teixeira, Michael Young, ARod, and Blalock, where is he going to play? Of the two Youngs, the younger Young - Michael - HAS to get the starting job and as long as he's not going to go into a horrible tailspin, he should be the starter. Michael's LH/RH splits are about even, so there's no need for a platoon. Does anyone know where he's going to be playing?

Jordan is going to probably play RF, and with the Rangers trading Everett last year and losing JuanGone in the offseason, they were desperately in need of an outfielder. Is Jordan the answer? Well, if we look at Jordan as a replacement for the Spencers and Glanvilles and Sierras and Thames, then yes, this looks like a good move. It this acquisitions stunts the growth of the Nixes and other up-and-coming Rangers, then no, it's not a good move. But Jordan for one year doesn't look too bad as long as we always include the standard "if he's healthy" caveat.

And finally the Dellucci signing. This one really makes little sense to me. Can't they find someone out there in their minor leagues to do the things that they signed Dellucci for but much cheaper? The $750,000 doesn't seem like much, especially when compared to the chunk of change they are dropping on ARod and Park, but when you look at it as paying someone to take the place of a younger player that could possibly do better for cheaper, then it doesn't make much sense at all. Maybe if he was a spectacular fielder, he'd be worth signing, but as far as I could see, I don't see any proof of that. This signing looks like a dud - one of those "veteran presences" to help the less "experienced" players.

It looks like they had two decent signings and two not-so-good (i.e. bad) signings. At least that's what I'm seeing from where I'm sitting.
# posted by shawn : 1/05/2004 03:29:00 PM -

Comparing Tony Clark to Nick Johnson??? 

I was skimming through espn.com this morning before getting dressed to go to work, and I saw this quote in the "Offseason Power Rankings" here:

"Tony Clark had more homers than Nick Johnson last season in 70 fewer at-bats."

Ummm...yeah, so what? Is espn.com (or whoever wrote this article, who we will probably never know since there was no byline) trying to tell us that Tony Clark is a better player than Nick Johnson? I know that whoever wrote this could not POSSIBLY think that this is true, but putting that comment in there is deceiving at best. Why not say something closer to the truth like, "Tony Clark is a poor replacement for Nick Johnson - at bat and in the field." Last year Clark was .233/.300/.472 while Johnson was .284/.422/.472. SA were the same, so that totally negates the "more homers in less at bats" argument, and Nick's OBP was 122 points higher! Oh yeah, he's also a better fielder (though that's not really saying much).

OK, I'm glad I was able to get that off my chest. Now it's off to work!
# posted by shawn : 1/05/2004 08:43:00 AM -

Saturday, January 03, 2004

Will losing all their lefthanded starters hurt the Yankees in 2004? 

One of my concerns this off-season, being a Yankee fan, has been the loss of all the Yankees left-handed pitching - Pettitte and Wells - and not replacing them with any left-handed pitching. As it stands right now, the Yankees are going into the season with 5 RH starting pitchers. (I'm going to have to check to see when the last time they Yankees did such a thing, but that will probably be another post.) Now, being interested in sabermetrics like I am, I figured that it didn't really matter which hand throws the ball for a Yankees starting pitcher - what matters is can that hand get the lefties out with a high level of proficiency. The easiest way to do that is, of course, check the lefty-righty splits of last year's starting pitchers vs. this year's starting pitchers. Now, I've heard a number of voices out there that this year's SP for the Yanks are worse than last year's. And I've also heard the contrary from other, more informed, sources. I agree whole-heartedly with the later.

Before I begin, I'd like to say that I know the danger of comparing pitchers stats that are on different teams - park effect, defense, etc. all have an effect on a pitcher's numbers. That being said, I'm going to use them anyway. I think that they sufficiently prove the point that I was trying to make, which is that even though the Yanks don't have any LH starter pitchers, their new pitchers do well enough against lefties that it does not matter. Do they all do great against lefties? No, but they do compare very favorably to last year's staff which included to left-handed starters. Here are the numbers for Wells, Pettitte, and Clemens for 2003:

	         AB     AVG	  OBP	  SLG	  OPS
Wells (2003)
vs. Right 645 .290 .304 .433 .737
vs. Left 201 .274 .305 .473 .778
Total .286 .304 .442 .746

Pettitte (2003)
vs. Right 611 .254 .294 .393 .687
vs. Left 224 .321 .354 .429 .783
Total .272 .310 .402 .713

Clemens (2003)
vs. Right 351 .288 .328 .476 .804
vs. Left 455 .215 .276 .334 .610
Total .247 .298 .396 .694


As you can see, Pettitte pitched like a right-handed pitcher. Because of his cut-fastball, he is much more effective on righties than he is on lefties. Wells is also more effective vs. righties than lefties. And you can see by the number of at-bats against those two, opposing managers didn't have much of a clue - they kept batting their righties against both of them. On the other hand, for Clemens, opposing managers stocked their lineups with lefties, but lo and behold, he was MUCH better vs. lefties even though he is a right-handed pitcher.

Now we can take a look at the three new Yankees pitchers. But before I do that, I just have to say that I used Lieber's 2001 stats - his last full year. Will he pitch that well this year? Probably not, but it gives a good idea of how his lefty/right splits will be. Here they are:

	         AB     AVG	  OBP	  SLG	  OPS
Vazquez
vs. Right 488 .225 .267 .375 .642
vs. Left 377 .233 .288 .387 .675
Total .229 .276 .380 .656

Lieber
vs. Right 485 .219 .242 .330 .572
vs. Left 403 .298 .339 .486 .825
Total .255 .286 .401 .687

Brown
vs. Right 407 .219 .260 .332 .591
vs. Left 374 .254 .314 .302 .616
Total .236 .286 .318 .604


Like I said, I'm not posting these stats and trying to convince anyone that these pitchers are going to repeat these stats with the Yankees - you can check out ZIPS for 2004 projected stats - but what I am saying is that these LH/RH splits are indicative of the types of pitchers these three pitchers are. (And for anyone who is keeping score out there, Brown pitched in a very pitcher friendly park with a great defense, but Lieber and Vazquez did not, they pitched in hitter friendly parks.) Vazquez's splits are about even - he gets lots of batters out no matter which side of the plate they are standing on. Lieber, on the otherhand, should probably not pitch much at Yankee Stadium - he gets crushed by lefthanders but is lights-out vs. righties. But as bad as Lieber was against lefties, he really was only a little worse than Pettitte (.321/.354/.429 for Pettitte vs. .298/.339/.486 for Lieber). And Brown, like Vazquez is equally excellent vs. lefties and righties.

Yes, I know that some of the slant for Pettitte and Wells were because they were pitching in Yankee Stadium half the time and that these three new pitchers will likely see the same effect, but it's nice to know that Brown and Vazquez, at least, are both very effective vs. lefties.

Now, we'll never really know how these pitchers pitch until they don the pinstripes and start throwing the ball. But my mind is eased quite a but knowing that this 100% righthanded starting staff is, at the very least, no worse than last year's 40% lefthanded staff.

Oh yeah, and for anyone who is a little curious, here are Mussina's and Contreras' split stats:
	         AB     AVG	  OBP	  SLG	  OPS
Mussina
vs. Right 388 .247 .272 .394 .666
vs. Left 419 .229 .278 .351 .629
Total .238 .275 .372 .647

Contreras
vs. Right 114 .202 .295 .307 .602
vs. Left 143 .203 .299 .294 .592
Total .202 .297 .300 .597


Well, thanks for tuning in for my very first real post. I know it didn't involve a lot of in-depth number crunching, only comparative stats, but I feel that it was sufficient to get prove my point.

Wow, I guess it ended up a bit Gleeman-length after all, eh? Thanks for listening, and I hope you keep coming back for more.
# posted by shawn : 1/03/2004 03:18:00 PM -

First Post! 

I'd like to welcome everyone to my new blog. I've been a big reader of baseball blogs for some time, mainly Baseball Musings by David Pinto, Bronx Banter by Alex Belth, and Aaron's Baseball Blog by Aaron Gleeman. Now it's time for me to start up my own. Since David Pinto activated his comments on his blog, I've been using them quite a bit to sound off on one topic or another. Lately I've been finding things that I've been wanting to post that don't directly relate to his (or the other blogs') posts. So it's time for me to jump in with both feet and see what happens. Please excuse any of my beginners mistakes.

Right now I'm using Blogger, but eventually, if this is a success, I'm going to pull the blog off of Blogger onto my own server. So please stay tuned for more entries - I have a feeling that I will tend to write lots of smaller entries, as compared to some other bloggers who prefer to write fewer, Gleeman-length posts. ;) This is mostly because I'm sitting in front of a computer all day (and a good portion of the night) so I'm always kept up-to-date on the goings on of the baseball world.

Wish me luck!
# posted by shawn : 1/03/2004 03:16:00 PM -