The Greatest Game

Saturday, January 10, 2004

State of the AL East 

I know that I said that I was going to right up the State of the AL East, but I'm waiting for the last shoe to drop. Rumor is that Florida is the new front-runner to land Vlad, even if it's just for one year. Once he signs, and Palmiero signs (probably with the O's), I'll talk more about the AL East.

When I first started this blog a week or so ago, I fully expected to blog a good portion about the Yankees (maybe half the time) and the rest about baseball in general. Well, it turns out that I've been blogging maybe 25% about the Yanks, maybe even less. It's very interesting to me. Maybe not so much to all of you, but it definately is to me.
# posted by shawn : 1/10/2004 06:27:00 PM -

Can Brett Tomko be a bargain at any price? 

I read this article this morning, and I just had to chuckle to myself. The jist of the article is that the Giants got a bargain in signing Brett Tomko to a $1.5 million contract, of which $1 million is deferred to 2006. The article goes on to say, Tomko for $500,000 in 2004 money is clearly a great and wonderful deal for the Giants. Is it? Is it REALLY? Let's take a look at Tomko's numbers, shall we? Let's focus on his past 3 seasons, though Tomko was out most of 2001. Here are his raw numbers for the 2001-2003 while playing for Seattle, San Diego, and St. Louis, 3 home parks that are VERY friendly to pitchers :


And that was in 3 pitchers' parks. So let's take a look at his Home/Away splits:


OK, I couldn't find his 3-year OPS for his home/away splits, but I did find it for 2003, and they are:

Home OPS for 2003.703
Away OPS for 20031.008

Keep in mind that Tomko is now going to be pitching half his games in PacBell, which I thought was very friendly to hitters, but is actually about average for hitters and pitchers.

And another stat that shows how bad he was against the league, is ERA+, which is a park adjusted stat where 100 is average. Brett Tomko averaged an 81 over the past 3 years. AN 81!!! And this guy is a bargain? Yeah, he's a bargain. A bargain for the other teams in the division who are going to pound the bejeebers out of him.
# posted by shawn : 1/10/2004 12:01:00 PM -

Friday, January 09, 2004

Vlad? For $10M/yr? Are you joking? 

An article here says that the Mets offered Vlad a 3 year $30 million contract. Are you joking??? Even the O's offer of 5yr/$65M is crazy. We're talking about one of the best players in baseball. A true 5 tool player who actually USES all his 5 tools. I don't even have to go into his numbers over the past few seasons, but an OPS of over 1.000 in 3 of the past 4 seasons is all I'll say. Before last year he played in no less then 154 games in a season since 1997. OK, his home park (both of them combined) was one of the best hitters parks in baseball, but his Road OPS has still been outstanding (.975, .971 the past 2 years).

But $10M/season? $13M? There isn't ANYONE out there that is willing to pay a little more to have one of the best players in the league? Is Vlad really that reluctant to go to a big city team? Has he, or his agent, scared away so many teams that the only choice he has is between the O's and the Mets? I know Vlad has stated that he'd like to play in Florida. You'd think that the Marlins would jump at the opportunity to even TRY and lure him to Florida. Maybe even a one year deal like they gave IRod.

I guess we'll just have to wait and see, but as a Yankee fan, I don't relish the thought of going to either the O's or the Mets.
# posted by shawn : 1/09/2004 07:21:00 PM -

Tigers get Carlos Guillen, M's get Aurilia 

The Tigers made a good move yesterday, trading a spare part and an A-baller for Carlos Guillen. I have to admit, I kinda like Guillen, and I don't see why the M's were so looking forward to getting rid of him. He's 28 years old all next season, and his numbers have increased the past 3 seasons: OPS of .689, .719, .753 from 2001-2003. Plus he can play 3rd or SS. He was out for a good portion of the year with an inflamed pelvis, so that probably needs a little looking out for. One of the impressive things about Guillen was his 52 BB in 388 AB last year. Mind-blowing? No, definately not, but it seems like he's learning to take a walk, and since he's not a big-bopper, learning to talk a walk is all that more important for him. He played half his games in one of the worst hitter's ballparks, but he's moving to Detroit, which isn't exactly known for it's home runs, either (I can't find the park effect numbers, but I'll post them in a bit when I do find them). Oh yeah, Guillen is a switch hitter, too, and better against righthanders, which is always nice since there are so many more of them around.

Hmmmm, I just checked out the Park Factors on Baseball-Reference.com and it seems that last year, Detroit (95/95 for batting/pitching) had a worse Park Factor than Seattle (97/98 for batting/pitching). Very interesting. Both parks opened up in 2000, and over the past 4 years, Safeco Field has been, on average, worse (93/95 vs. 96/96).

Back to Guillen and Aurilia. My problem with the essential trade of Guillen for Aurilia/Santiago is that Aurilia, while he had a great season in 2001, he's been a bit below average for 2002 and 2003, making 2001 look like a big fluke. Not only did he put up .718 OPS in 2002 and a .735 OPS in 2003, but his home/road splits show that he was WAY better at home, which is probably going to translate in some horrible numbers at SafeCo Field. Here are his splits for last year:


That REALLY doesn't look good for Aurilia in 2004.

And one more thing, according to David Pinto's Probabilistic Range for Shortstops, Guillen was a MUCH better shortstop last year than Aurilia. Guillen rated a 0.00241 PR, while Aurilia came in below average at -0.00490.

The more and more I look at this deal for the M's, the worse it gets. Bavasi is underwhelming me to the extreme this offseason.
# posted by shawn : 1/09/2004 12:06:00 PM -

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Orioles interested in Palmiero 

Tejada, Lopez.....and Palmiero? Palmiero didn't have the best of years last year, though his raw numbers look impressive enough: 38 HR, 112 RBI. But it was the first time since 1997 that his OPS was under .900 (it was .867 in 2003). But still, he'd be another formidable bat in the O's lineup.

And of course they're still going after Vlad, though the Mets are throwing their hat into the ring.

So after all the smoke clears here's the possible additions (and additions by subtractions) for the O's:

+ Tejada
+ Lopez
+ Palmiero
+ Vlad
- Deivi Cruz
- Tony Batista

Wow, that's a pretty impressive +/- for the O's! Now, if they could only find someone to pitch...
# posted by shawn : 1/08/2004 11:15:00 AM -

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):

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 -