The Greatest Game

Saturday, February 14, 2004

ARod update #2 

It looks like we're even going to get to keep Navarro, our catching prospect:
That's excellent news! I know we have one or two decent pitching prospects down there deep in our system. Any ideas who it probably is?
# posted by shawn : 2/14/2004 10:49:00 PM -

ARod update - good news for Yankee fans 

CBS Sports reports that
Does this mean that Contreras is not part of the deal? That would be great from the Yankees perspective because there really isn't any out there this close to Spring Training to replace him with. I know he's the Yankees' #4 or #5 pitcher, but still. Maddux is out there, but it's doubtful that he'd switch leagues this late in his career, plus the Yankees would probably not want to pay him what he wants to get paid. That would leave a big hole in their staff.

It's weird to think that Soriano is only 2 years younger than ARod. I hope him the best, but he really needs to learn to layoff that low outside pitch for him to start improving.

Oh, and this article at Fox Sports says that the deal is already done with only a few minor details left to work out.

And here's another thing to think about. Imagine an infield of ARod at short, Jeter at third, and Cairo (who has a fantastic Range Factor at 2B) and Travis Lee at first. That's a great infield! Of course, you're limiting the infield offense by playing Cairo (do the Yanks really need any offense out of the second baseman now?) and, to a certain extent, Lee, though he posted a .807 OPS last year, and had an OPS+ of 111 - probably below average for a first baseman, but not embarrassingly so. Now that I look at it, he was 9th in the AL for first baseman with 13 WS. All of a sudden Kevin Brown is dying a slow death when all the small dribblers roll through the infield for base hits. The problem with this is that Bernie and Lofton will have to figure out who's in centerfield. Bernie is better offensively, if he's healthy, but Lofton was signed for a reason - to give us a league average fielder in centerfield and improve the outfield defense overall, which will need all the help it can get with Sheffield out there. I'm not sure if this new lineup will work, but I would expect Torre to use something like it this season. Of course this all depends on whether Jeter wisens up and steps aside for ARod at shortstop. And I think he'd be crazy not to. He's a smart, relatively egoless ballplayer. He has to know that ARod, a Gold Glove winning shortstop, is a better fielder than he is.

I wonder what the Red Sox think of all this.
# posted by shawn : 2/14/2004 10:20:00 PM -

And the ARod rumors begin! Again! But this time with the right team. 

The NYPost has ARod to the Yankee rumors:
Apparently the Rangers shot down the deal, though it seems like a better deal then what they were getting from Boston (Manny), since they desperately need pitching and even though Soriano isn't as good offensively as Manny, he's an infielder and he's much younger (and he is getting paid MUCH less and isn't eligible for free agency for a while). Then Cashman starting talking about meteorology:
Of course this doesn't mean that a dialogue isn't now open between the Yankees and Rangers. I was thinking about speculating about the trade (i.e. would Jeter move to 2B or 3B? who replaced Contrares in the rotation? How much better does this make the Yankees?) but I think I'll hold off a bit on that. It's way too early to start in with that kind of thing (though it sure is fun).

- Addendum -
ESPN.com has an article on the trade rumors, too, saying:
Hmmmm...very interesting. "Late into the night" has the connotation that there was something worth talking about. Maybe this rumor has a bit of legs to it after all. The the question remains: Why the hell would they move a Gold Glove shortstop to third base while keeping the no-field Jeter to man the position??? Of course ARod, Jeter, XXX, and Giambi is way better than XXX, Jeter, Soriano, and Giambi. I'm sure we can find a fill in second baseman easier than a fill in third baseman. Shoot, with ARod in the lineup, I say just stick Cairo at second base and bat him 9th and call it a day. Keep Lamb on the roster as backup 3B (and actually backup SS, too since if Jeter got hurt ARod would move over). And keep Travis Lee as your backup 1B. All set! Let's start Spring Training!
# posted by shawn : 2/14/2004 11:36:00 AM -

Friday, February 13, 2004

Jack Wilson is getting HOW MUCH?!?! 

Apparently Jack Wilson, the very same Jack Wilson who is in the Top 10 Outs/Plate Appearance for the past 3 years, won his arbitration hearing and is going to be paid $1,850,000 for the 2004 season. Say WHAT?!?! That's INSANE!!! According to Lee Sinins, his RCAA (Runs Created Against Average) for the past 3 years are -35, -28, -27. And that's worth HOW MUCH??? $1,850,000. You don't think that the Pirates could have brought someone up from the minors (or traded for someone else's minor leaguer), pay them $300,000 and put up comparable numbers? I see that he put up 11 Win Shares last season, enough to rank him 10th in the NL and about 20th overall. But, damn, that's a lot of money for a money-strapped ballclub to be paying to someone to suck everyday.
# posted by shawn : 2/13/2004 11:36:00 AM -

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Random, Daily Stats 

As you may have noticed, I've been posting some stats that I've gleaned from Lee Sinins wonderful Sabermetric Encyclopedia. Today's stat is Outs/Plate Appearance. As a batter, an out is the worst thing in baseball. A team only has 27 of them, and if you commit an out, then your team is one step closer to the end of the game. So I decided to see who commits the most outs per plate appearance. Just take a look to the right and you'll see the worst culprits over the past 3 years. If you take a closer look at them, you'll notice that most of them have switched teams at least once over the past 3 years. I guess one team figures out that they have an out machine and dumps the player on a less suspecting team. There are a some players over there that have survived with the same team for 3 years: Barrett, Wilson, Molina, Rivas. The other thing is that most of them play SS or C. Of course there is Vinny Castilla who, at 3B, plays a position typically associated with offense, but somehow he's been allowed to commit out after out - he's riding the coattails of his good seasons at Coors Field where he hit 40 HR 3 years in a row. And don't forget Luis Rivas, who plays mainly, as Aaron often laments, a very poor 2B.

I know most, if not all, of these names are familiar to everyone, but it's just nice to see them in a nice, neat list over there to the right.

Tomorrow night I'll post the same stat, but in reverse order.

Oh yeah, I'm going to be gone for a week for a trip to London, so posting will be sparse starting on Monday. If anyone wants to write a guest column, let me know. I'll try and post a couple times while I'm over there, but I'm not going to have the best access.

- Addendum -
Scott from Yankees, Mets and the Rest has pointed out that 3B has not historically been an offensive position, but more of a combination position with a leaning towards defense. That made me wonder why I instinctively thought that it was an offensive position? Could I have a soft spot for third basemen? Could I have been a third baseman in a past life? So I hopped on over to Baseball Graphs' Win Shares Page and added up all the players last year with more than 10 Offensive Win Shares, and with more than 8 Offensive Win Shares (infielders only). Why did I pick those numbers? Totally arbitrary. I added the two leagues together and this is what I got:
    OWS(10+)    OWS(8+)
C 8 13
1B 22 26
2B 13 20
3B 17 20
SS 12 14
As would be expected, catchers have the least amount of offense-oriented players (using this crude metric), at least partly due to the number of games played by catchers. Shortstops also had a low amount. And like we'd all expect, first basemen had the highest number of offense-oriented players. Third basemen had the 2nd highest number of players with more than 10 Win Shares, but when I lowered the standard to 8 Offensive Win Shares, third basemen are tied with second basemen. I was a bit surprised here, but when you think about players like Soriano and Todd Walker, well, maybe teams are putting more offense-minded players at 2B and hoping the other players around him in the infield will help pick up for his defensive shortcomings.

Keep in mind that my numbers were purely arbitrary, but I think that they give some basic sense of which positions are more offense-oriented than others. I also found it interesting that the National League had a large majority of the better hitting third basemen. They had 11 players with at least 10 OWS, compared to 6 for the AL. In every (infield) position, the NL had more players than the AL at both cut-off points. I wasn't going to post this, but what the heck:
   AL(10+)   AL(8+)  NL(10+)   NL(8+)
C 4 6 4 7
1B 11 12 11 14
2B 5 9 8 11
3B 6 8 11 12
SS 6 7 6 7

- Addendum 2-
Since I'm changing the Random Stat this morning, I thought that I'd display the Outs/PA leader right here in the blog entry:

Top 10 Outs/PA - 1000 PA min (2000-2003)

Vinny Castilla
Deivi Cruz
Royce Clayton
Luis Rivas
Neifi Perez
Einar Diaz
Alex Gonzalez
Michael Barrett
Jack Wilson
Bengie Molina
# posted by shawn : 2/12/2004 07:24:00 PM -

Jason Giambi - 3B 

I was just looking at some Baseball Prospectus Player Cards, and I was looking at Jason Giambi's card when I noticed that he played 3B for the A's in 1995 and 1996. That's more recent than Sheffield (who last played in 1993) - maybe Giambi should offer to platoon with Shef over there. ;)
# posted by shawn : 2/12/2004 11:56:00 AM -

Brewer's Roundtable 

I found this link on Baseball Musings, and I thought that I'd share it with all of you. It's a roundtable about the Brewers at Al's Ramblings.
# posted by shawn : 2/12/2004 10:09:00 AM -

Look out Aaron, here comes Offerman! 

Aaron over at Aaron's Baseball Blog slams the Twins for their signing of Jose Offerman to be a veteran presence off the bench. The funny thing is that his third blog post ever in August 2002 was all about the Red Sox finally getting rid of Offerman and how bad Offerman was. Now, a year and a half later the Twins get an even WORSE Offerman. Aaron, I feel for you. At least Tony Clark is supposed to be a really nice guy. Oh yeah, and he's really tall.
# posted by shawn : 2/12/2004 09:58:00 AM -

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Novarro+ for Beltre? 

According to the NJ Star Ledger, the Yankees are still looking at trading for Beltre to fill their hole at third base. And what a crowded hole it would be. Lamb, Houston, Almonte, etc.
Of course Beltre can field 3B like a demon, which the others can't do.
Do we really know that he's 25? "Top prospects in the game"? This is his 6th full year in the majors. Is he still considered a prospect? Look at his OPS over the past 4 years: .835, .721, .729, .714. Not the best trend. I know that he's been hitting in Dodger Stadium which is skewing his numbers a bit, but is he worth the last couple good prospects in the Yankees have?

He did come up with 15 Win Shares last year (10 offensive, 5 defensive), which isn't bad, but his OPS+ over the past 3 years was 93, 98, 89. A bit below average, and no real sign that he's going to improve. He is still young (if he is only 25) so there is time for improvement. And his fielding would definately improve the Yankees defense (but so would a lump of coal and a can of tuna).

I'd love to have Beltre on the Yankees, but at what price? Novarro+? I'm not quite sure.
# posted by shawn : 2/11/2004 10:53:00 PM -

Crazy King George 

There is a good article on Steinbrenner's importance to MLB on espn.com. I'm sure some of you have read it already, but I thought that I'd mention it here on yet another slow news day (unless you count the Yankees possibly signing Travis Lee news). The article doesn't really tell us anything that we don't already know. Most people hate Steinbrenner and how he throws money around. But, we Yankee fans argue, he's just sinking the money he makes on the Yankees back into the Yankees - that's the hallmark of a good owner. That, and he CARES about his team. It's not a money making team for him, it's a vehicle to increase his prestige.
As for me, a lifetime Yankee fan, I've become relatively at peace with George. Is he going to do bonehead things (like sign Kenny Lofton)? Yeah, he sure is. But is he willing to dump more money into the team to sign more and better players? Hell yeah. It's a double edged sword. We Yankee fans view George similarly to how opposing GMs view him - he's good for baseball (the Yanks are the best road team draw in baseball), but he's still a pain in the neck who is also bad for baseball (by driving up salaries). They have to take the good with the bad. Just like us fans. The good with the bad. I know that my team's owner cares more about the Yankees winning the World Series than anything else. Does he want it to make him look good? What do I care? All I, as a fan, care about is that he is dedicated to winning. That's more than I can say for Carl Pohlad (who has WAY more money than George does) or some other owners (hello Commissioner Selig, I'm talking to you).

Back to the article. There are a couple good quotes that I'd like to share with you:
Ha! You tell 'em Brian! Cashman is completely aware that there are different ways to win in baseball. He's fully aware that Billy Beane wins as many, if not more, games during the season than the Yankees with less than 1/3 of the salary. GMs and owners around the league should put up or shut up. Stop bitching about having the short end of the stick and start figuring out how to win with the short end. It's your end of the stick, get over it and use it to your advantage.

Is George crazy? Yeah, of course. And he's probably getting crazier every passing day. Check out Bronx Banter and Alex's quick view of the article and George.
# posted by shawn : 2/11/2004 10:41:00 PM -

Travis Lee - Yankee 

It looks like I'm finally going to get my wish and Travis Lee is going to be a Yankee. Is this move going to push the Yankees over the top? Probably not, but you never do know when you're in the same division as the Red Sox. If you look back at the archives of Baseball Musings and Bronx Banter you'll see my pleading for Travis Lee (or Eric Karros) to back up Giambi at 1B. And we ended up with Tony Clark. But like Scott says, Tony sure is tall.

Lee's OPS+ puts him right around average for a hitter, give or take (2001:101, 2002:98, 2003:111), and his best season was definately last year. Hopefully he'll make the team instead of Clark.

- Addendum -
Here's the reason why the Yankees didn't sign Travis Lee sooner:
# posted by shawn : 2/11/2004 02:41:00 PM -

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

No takers for MLB's overpriced online broadcasts 

It looks like MLB is having a hard time finding a sucker to cough up all the money they're trying to extract for online broadcast rights.
Apparently they are trying to get "substantially more" than the $6.3 million that RealNetworks paid for exclusie access last season. Ah, more heavy-handedness from MLB. Hey Bud, here's a hint, if all the major portals decline to even negotiate with you and they are laughing at you behind your back, then maybe you should think about lowering your price.
# posted by shawn : 2/10/2004 09:31:00 AM -

Monday, February 09, 2004

Neyer clarifies his explanation of platoon splits 

Rob Neyer has a new article up that helps explain his previous article on platoon splits. In case you missed it, I commented about the article here. Here is a portion of his explanation:
Go ahead and read the article.
# posted by shawn : 2/09/2004 08:35:00 PM -

Baseball Blogs 

John Perricone has updated the design of Only Baseball Matters and it looks fantastic. Very sharp!

I added a some blogs to my right nav and I thought that I'd mention them here. I'm sure you've seen and read some or all of them, but it's about time that I posted them on my site.

First, the raindrops - "Thoughts about the baseball doings in and around Big Shea." And to stay with the theme, there is The Eddie Kranepool Society. I have a (relatively) soft spot for the Mets considering I'm a Yankee fan. As I've mentioned here before, my father is a Mets fan (he had to find SOMEONE to fill the void in his heart after the Dodgeres left town). I went to a bunch of games when I was a kid and I loved Eddie Kranepool and Rusty Staub. I'll always remember the time Dave Kingman was at bat and my father leaned over and he jokingly said, "I think he's going to bunt," and of course he crushed a HUGE home run. Then there is Mike's Baseball Rants. I know my list is short, but I'm sure I'll be adding more soon.
# posted by shawn : 2/09/2004 08:16:00 PM -

Villone is going somewhere 

Back on January 31 I responded to Vinny's post at Yankees, Mets and the Rest about how the Yankees should sign Ron Villone. I pretty much said that there is no way that the Yankees should sign Villone because he's not any good.

Well, according to Lee Sinins, Ron Villone is close to signing with the Seattle Mariners. Wow, with the moves that they made this offseason, that is definately one team that the Yankees aren't going to have to worry about. Though I have to admit that it is a bit sad to see the slow decline of a formerly strong franchise, which not only survived the loss of ARod and Randy Johnson but in fact thrived without them. Now the M's are making bad moves, weakening a one-time powerhouse, in one of the strongest divisions in bsaeball. It looks like 3rd place is in they're very near future. At least they have the Texas Rangers in their division to cushion the fall through the ranks.
# posted by shawn : 2/09/2004 09:20:00 AM -

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Maddux running out of time 

There are four teams who are interested in Maddux: Cubs, Dodgers, Cardinals, and Orioles. The Cubs are the only team with an offer on the table, but it's way less than the $10M/yr that Maddux is looking for. Greg better rub the 2000 offseason from his eyes and realize that the market is not there.

If the Cubs signed him, they'd be a shoe in for 1st place (and probably the World Series) in all the preseason predictions. They'd have a phenomenal pitching staff, but does Maddux want to go back and pitch in windy Wrigley? Especially for the amount of money they are offering him?

The Dodgers already have excellent pitching, and I can only imagine them signing Maddux (who should want to sign with LA because the large stadium would lower his stats so that he'd probably get an extra season out of his career if he pitched there, thereby increasing his already Hall of Fame worthy numbers even higher) to allow them to comfortably trade one of their other pitchers (hello Odalis) for some offense. Since there is really no offense left on the free agent market (can you say "Raul Mondesi"), the best plan for them is to sign the last good player out there and then trade from strength. I just wonder if the Dodgers can come up with the asking price.

The Cardinals need to sign Maddux so they can keep pace with the Cubs and the Astros. I think they're probably a bit desperate at this point and find that they need to sign an impact player soon. They already traded JD Drew for some pitching prospects (I admit Drew isn't all that great, but he's good for some offense, and if he's healthy, even more offense, but let's just assume he's NOT going to be healthy, since he never has been to this point), but none of those prospects will have near the impact that Maddux would have. They have a good 1-2 punch with Matt Morris and Woody Williams (again, if they can stay healthy), but they don't have much throwing the ball after those two. Their offense is excellent (Edmonds, Pujols, Renteria, Rolen, etc.), but they really need at least one more pitcher. They should try and find a way to sign Maddux, but considering there are rumors about a Pujols for Soriano type trade, one can only wonder if they can't find money for Pujols, where are they going to dig up $8M/yr for Maddux? Though I do remember reading something about Edmonds and some other players offering to defer some of the money in their contracts to sign someone (Maddux?). I can't seem to find the article right now, but if anyone has the link, send it to me, or post it in the comments).

The last team is the Orioles. They really packed in the offense this offseason, even though they missed out on Vlad and IRod. One would think that they'd have some money left over after missing those guys. But they do have one huge thing working against them. They are in the American League. I can't imagine that Maddux would switch leagues at this point in his career. He's one of the smartest pitchers around, and a lot of his talent comes from knowing the hitters he's pitching against. If he switched leagues, he'd have to start over from scratch. Of course the Orioles could offer him a contract closer to what he's looking for than the other teams, so I won't say that Baltimore isn't completely out of the question, but I think it's a remote possibility.

For what it's worth, here is my list from greatest chance of signing Maddux, to least: Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals, Baltimore.
# posted by shawn : 2/08/2004 06:58:00 PM -

Me and Nomar 

As much as I hate the Red Sox, I have to admit that I like Nomar. Part of the reason that I like him is that we went to college together. OK, I'm using the word "together" a bit loosely here. Our time at Georgia Tech overlapped by a semester or so, and we never crossed paths once that I know of. But I followed the Yellow Jackets baseball team very closely the couple years after I graduated and was heartbroken when we lost the College World Series to Oklahoma in 1994. There were some great players on that team: Nomar, Jay Payton, Jason Varitek, and Brad Rigby to name just a few. It's nice to see as many of them make the majors as they did - it has to be a pretty rare thing to have 3 starters of a college team make it to the majors as successfully as Nomar, Varitek and Payton did (I know someone will argue with "Payton" and "successful" being used in a sentence together, but when you look at the big picture, he's been successful.) It makes me a little bit proud that my alma mater produced such talent so close to my graduation.

Another reason to like Nomar: I just read about how he bought his wife Mia a 1959 Corvette and had it overhauled for her. (I can't find the blog that I read it in, so let me know so I can link to it.) He's #5 and she's #9, hence the '59 Corvette. Pretty slick thinking there, Nomar. Unfortunately they were both too nervous to drive it so they ended up selling it. What a waste. If anyone is interested in buying the car, you're too late:
Now all that needs to happen is for Nomar to leave the Red Sox, which has gotten off to a good start this offseason with his team alienating him to the n'th degree. Of course I'd love it if he came to the Yankees, but realistically I'll take any of the other 28 teams.
# posted by shawn : 2/08/2004 06:02:00 PM -