Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Baseball Headlines Going into Day One, Game One

Today marks the first set of games for the Major League Baseball playoffs. Besides watching great games, there are a few things I will be looking for.

Rockies vs. Phillies

This one is too obvious. Will the Phillies use Brad Lidge?

If Charlie Manuel uses Brad Lidge in any meaningful situation at all, the game will be really interesting. We're talking high probability of walk-off action interesting. The Phillies will have to be down ten runs in the ninth inning to make me feel like, yeah, okay, Lidge can pitch. We know about the blown saves and the 7.21 ERA. The reason why he has the blown saves and high ERA are the result of three things. He strikes out 9.4 batters per nine innings (nothing wrong with that), but that is down from a career of striking out 12.1 batters per nine innings. He walks 5.2 batters per nine innings, which is up from walking 4.1 batters per nine innings. He is giving up 1.7 homeruns per nine innings, which is up from a career of giving up 0.9 homeruns per nine innings and way up from last year where he gave up 0.3 homeruns per nine innings. This tells me that he has some control problems and has lost some "stuff."

Cardinals vs. Dodgers

Which manager will micromanage their bullpen to the detriment of their team?

Joe Torre likes using relief pitchers. Jonathan Broxton has pitched in 68 games, Ronald Belisario in 66 games, Ramon Troncoso in 68 games, Guillermo Moto in 58 games, James McDonald in 44 games, the oft-injured Hong-Chih Kuo in 35 games. The mustached GM even traded for George Sherrill so Torre can use him in 30 games with the Dodgers. In fact, the Dodgers have used 25 different pitchers this year. Picked up Eric Milton for some games, signed Jeff Weaver, traded for Jon Garland and Vicente Padilla. He even used infielder Mark Loretta for a game. Even more telling, not one Dodgers starting pitcher threw a complete game.

For this game, I am not opposed to Torre going to the bullpen considering Randy Wolf is pitching in game one. Yes, Wolf has had a good season, but he is far from a dominating pitcher. At 32, he has pitched far better than the previous three seasons. The biggest difference is that he has cut down on the walks. He is averaging 2.4 walks per nine innings this year. The last two seasons, he averaged 3.4 walks per nine innings and he has a career average of 3.2 walks per nine innings. While he is walking less, he is striking out less. This year he is 6.7 batters per nine innings. The last two seasons, he struck out 7.7 batters per nine innings and 8.2 batters per nine innings. For his career, he has struck out 7.4 batters per nine innings.

Wolf is a solid number four pitcher starting the opening game in the series against the Cardinals. Should the series go five games, he will pitch, gulp, two games. Torre should use his awesome relief pitchers frequently for this game, but did he burn out those awesome arms from overuse in the regular season? I'm going to say no because The Mustached GM did keep acquiring more arms as the season went on.

Tony LaRussa has allowed his starting pitchers to pitch more innings and deeper into the game than Torre. And he should. LaRussa has two legitimate aces in Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright. LaRussa has used 20 different pitchers this season with five of them pitching in more than 60 games and two of those pitching in more than 70 games. Here's the thing though. If Carpenter and Wainwright are still going strong after eight innings and are not tired, will he relieve them for Ryan Franklin? Don't let the 38 saves and 1.92 ERA fool you. He's not very good. He strikes out 6.5 batters per nine innings and walks 3.5 innings per nine innings. This means that if the game is close and he is pitching, we're in for a great finish.

Twins vs Yankees

A-Rod and CC. The Yankees should win, but the teams that should win don't always win. Usually when the team that should win and doesn't win, it's because the other team has more heart and character which is stupid reasoning. If the Twins win tonight and Alex Rodriguez goes 0 for 4 and CC Sabathia gives up 4 in 5 innings, I can predict a columnists story:

-The gritty gutty Twins with no quit beat the $200 million Yankees. Stealing bases, getting dirty, diving for balls, the Twins trump the Yankees. The unclutch Alex Rodriguez did his part by going 0 for 4 with a strikeout in the 8th inning while CC Sabathia lasted 5 innings and gave up 4 earned runs. Dot dot dot...-

Smart people realize that we're talking about extremely small sample sizes. It's not about heart. Most baseball players have heart. It's not about clutch. Most players perform the same in the first inning as they do in the ninth inning. Sometimes it just doesn't work out. A-Rod and CC need to have a big game to prevent the dull columns from happening.

Tim Lincecum Deserves the National League Cy Young award

I wrote about Chris Carpenter's one-hitter in early September a day after I predicted Tim Lincecum as your NL Cy Young award winner. In the end, I concluded that while Carpenter is similar to Lincecum and deserves a closer look, Lincecum had pitched more innings.

Today, Lincecum and Carpenter still have similar rate stats, but Lincecum has 32.2 more innings pitched on the year. Lincecum and Carpenter appear to be the front runners with Adam Wainwright standing just behind, but Dan Haren and Javier Vazquez are right there. Who is the best pitcher in the National League? Let's parse through the numbers.

Chris Carpenter:

192.2 innings, 185 ERA+, 1.007 WHIP, 0.3 hr/9, 1.8 bb/9, 6.7 so/9, 3.79 so/bb

Tim Lincecum

225.1 innings, 173 ERA+, 1.047 WHIP, 0.4 hr/9, 2.7 bb/9, 10.5 so/9, 3.84 so/bb

Adam Wainwright

233 innings, 158 ERA+, 1.210 WHIP, 0.7 hr/9, 2.5 bb/9, 8.2 so/9, 3.21 so/bb

Javier Vazquez

219.1 innings, 145 ERA+, 1.026 WHIP, 0.8 hr/9, 1.8 bb/9, 9.8 so/9, 5.41 so/9

Dan Haren

229.1 innings, 143 ERA+, 1.003 WHIP, 1.1 hr/9, 1.5 bb/9, 8.8 so/9, 5.87 so/9

Finally, here are the VORP rankings:

Tim Lincecum, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Dan Haren and Javier Vazquez

Looking at the five pitchers before checking out the final stats, that was the order I was thinking. All five pitchers are legitimate candidates and the differences are minute. While VORP is not the end all stat, it is clear that Lincecum and Carpenter are the two best pitchers in the national league. Haren and Vazquez have the best so/bb stats, but they give up the homerun at a much higher rate than Lincecum and Carpenter. Lincecum strikes out more than Haren and Vazquez so less balls are in play and minimizes the damage when he gives up the walks. After parsing through the numbers, my order has changed slightly.

My ranking: Tim Lincecum, Chris Carpenter, Dan Haren, Javier Vazquez, Adam Wainwright

Haren, Carpenter and Vazquez can rank in any order between second place and fourth place while Lincecum is the best and Wainwright is the fifth best. As said in the opening and back in September, Lincecum has done what Carpenter has done but has done it in more innings. And I am now done.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Chris Carpenter Pitches A One-Hitter

A day after I wrote about your Cy Young winners, Chris Carpenter pitches a one hitter in a complete game shutout win against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Since the game just finished, the stats aren't quite up to date. The rate stats do not include today's game But let's go with what we got.

Carpenter has a 0.97 WHIP compared to Lincecum's 1.02 WHIP. Carpenter and Lincecum are virtually equal in strikeouts per walk ratio. While Lincecum averages more strikeouts per 9 innings, Carpenter issues less walks per 9 innings. Lincecum has 4 complete games and 2 shutouts and Carpenter has 3 complete games and 1 shut out. Essentially that's a wash because one more dominating game doesn't make or break a case. Also, there have been times where Carpenter has gone eight innings and given up zero runs. There have also been times when Lincecum has gone eight innings and given up zero runs. Lincecum has an ERA+ of 184 and Carpenter has an ERA+ of 183. Essentially they are the same pitcher.

Lincecum is having the better season because he has started 28 games and pitched 200 1/3 innings; whereas, Carpenter has started 24 games and pitched 166 2/3 innings. Lincecum has done what Carpenter has done and has done it 33 2/3 innings more. Unless Lincecum completely melts down and Carpenter maintains the same pace, Lincecum should win the NL Cy Young award. At least Carpenter, with another dominating performance, has made things interesting down the stretch. If they both maintain their projection and Carpenter has that sparkling record, let's hope that the voters don't mess things up and rob Lincecum...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Look At Your Cy Young Award Winners

Barring a monstrous September meltdown, your AL Cy Young award winner will be Zack Greinke and your NL Cy Young award winner will be Tim Lincecum.

Let's check the stats:

Zack Greinke

197 ERA+

1.08 WHIP

1.9 BB/9

9.5 K/9

5 K/BB

6 Complete Games

3 Shut Outs

Tim Lincecum

184 ERA+

1.02 WHIP

2.5 BB/9

10.5 K/9

4.24 K/BB

4 Complete Games

2 Shut Outs

It's interesting how similar these two pitchers are stat-wise. Zack Greinke is the best pitcher in baseball. Tim Lincecum is probably the second best pitcher in baseball. Let's check back at the end of the season and see how they end up.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The National League Designated Hitter

After writing about the Los Angeles Dodgers essentially trading for a Designated Hitter should they reach the World Series, I thought it would be fun to see the DH's the National League teams have trotted out in the two previous World Series appearances.

In Game 1 of the 2008 World Series, the Philadelphia Phillies trotted out Chris Coste. He played 98 games and had an on-base percentage of .325. Greg Dobbs started Game 2 of the series. While he got on base only 33.3% of the time, he did have some pop with a .491 slugging percentage in 128 games that year. Strangely, manager Charley Manuel pinch hit for Dobbs using the man with horrible slash stats, .217/.297/.297, Eric Bruntlett. What did Bruntlett do? Hit a home run of course!

To be fair, the Rays didn't pencil in a very good hitter in the DH spot for Game 1. Willy Aybar That said, his splits against left-handed pitchers aren't bad. He had slash stats of .266/.350/.444 against the lefties. Lefty Cole Hamels started Game 1 for the Phillies.

To be even fairer, Coste's splits against lefties (and the starting pitcher was lefty Scott Kazmir) was a nice .296/.363/.519. However, taking that into context, he had 92 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers, and we're talking about a 36 year old who didn't make his first big league appearance until he was 33.

Cliff Floyd started Game 2 for the Rays. He hit a 109 OPS+ and sported a .349 OBP. Ho-hum, but at least he hit above average.

The odd thing about the Phillies is that they had a Designated Hitter, who happened to be playing left field. Pat Burrell is a good hitter and a horrible fielder. Why didn't they play Burrell at DH?

Ryan Spilborghs started Game 1 and Game 2 of the World Series for the Colorado Rockies in 2007. He had a 111 OPS+ that year, so he certainly is at least an above average hitter.

The DH for the Red Sox was David Ortiz. He was fourth in MVP voting and had a 171 OPS+. He also led the league in on-base percentage with a sparkling .445.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Mustached GM Makes A Good Move

Just in time, the Los Angeles Dodgers picked up Jim Thome in a salary dump trade with the Chicago White Sox. In the process, Dodgers GM Ned Colletti picks up a solid hitter off the bench while giving up nothing.

Wait. Hold on a second. I am complimenting Colletti for picking up another old past-his-prime player after writing a long story about all the bad signings and trades for old past-their-prime players during his tenure? In that story, I listed the bad players Colletti has acquired. Let's review:

Andruw Jones

Juan Pierre

Luis Gonzalez

Nomar Garciaparra

Jason Schmidt

Esteban Loaiza

Rafael Furcal

Casey Blake

Even the one player whom I applauded, has mixed results.

Yes, Jim Thome is JUST like all of those guys. Colletti has a knack for picking players off the 2001 All-Star team. So why do I like this move? Unlike the other signings, Thome is not playing every day and expected to be the center piece.

The main disadvantage for the National League against the American League is the Designated Hitter. Before picking up Thome, the Dodgers DH could have been:

Designated Pinch Runner Juan Pierre.

Mark Loretta and his 56 OPS+.

Brad Ausmus, who has played 30 games this season and has a career .325 On-Base Percentage.

You might as well just let the pitcher hit. Now, with Thome coming off the bench for pinch hit situations and penciled in the lineup as the DH should they make the World Series, the Dodgers have a more lethal lineup. While Thome isn't the 197 OPS+ hitter he was in 2002, his rate stats are a solid .249/.372/.493.

Of course, Colletti will ruin everything and sign Thome to a three year deal in the off season.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Rob Neyer blogs a fun story about a MVP candidate telling a reporter that he will cut off communication if the reporter votes for a rival candidate.

Buster's reaction:

"A vote based purely on a Sabermetric analysis would have its pitfalls as well. There was one year when a star player told a couple of writers that he would never speak to them again if they voted for a certain rival on their ballots, a situation that threatened to undermine that team's clubhouse; and after confirming that appalling story, there's no way I would've ever voted for that player for M.V.P., a situation that a SABR-like approach would've never addressed."

That is a stupid and immature reaction from the star player, however, Buster essentially said that he wouldn't vote for that play because of his comments. If that player is the best player in the game, jerk or lovable, then he deserves to win the MVP award.

Also, when has an athlete said anything meaningful? Charles Barkley is the only athlete I can think of that you would want to get a quote after a sports game. What do athlete quotes add to a sports story? This is one of the reason people turn to blogs like deadspin because they have no access and don't suck up to athletes.


This parlays into another discussion. Ben Roethlisberger. Deadspin did a nice job discussing ESPN's Do Not Report policy on the Roethlisberger case. Well, until this. The speculation is that they don't want to lose his access. When has he said anything important? When has he commented on a game that was not full of sports cliches?

...interruption ended...

Back to the original post. Neyer throws out his guess of A-Rod or Junior. How about Kent or Bonds? Or maybe Kent AND Bonds? Personally, I think it would be awesome if it was Mark Lemke and Jeff Blauser.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

McLouth trade addressed to Pirate season ticket holders via e-mail has managed to get three days worth of stories out of the Nate McLouth trade.

Day one: the McLouth trade was worthy of front page material.

Day two: Pittsburgh Pirate players (who will most likely be dealt by the trading deadline) sounding off on the trade probably deserves a link in the MLB section.

Day three: the e-mail sent by Pirates general manager Neal Huntington to the season ticket holders should be on a Pirate season ticket holder's blogspot.

Of course I clicked on the link to read the ridiculousness so what do I know? On with the story:

From Huntington via the e-mail:

"I understand why some people, at first glance, may believe this move was financially motivated, but I can assure you that this was strictly a baseball decision. In fact, our owner, Bob Nutting, was as surprised as some of our fans when we sought his approval for this trade. I am grateful that he has the faith in me, our baseball operations staff and the processes we have in place to approve a move like this, despite the risk of public backlash on him personally and the organization as a whole."

Offensively McLouth is having a slightly above average season. His .345 on base percentage is a little bit above average but nowhere near elite status and his 114 OPS+ is good for a second baseman but okay-ish for an outfielder. His defense, on the other hand, is horrible. If you look at the plus/minus indicator from the fielding bible McLouth ranks dead last in fielding for center fielders from 2006 to 2008. This year, his UZR is a -.6, but he boasts a career of -26.6.

Now if you are the Atlanta Braves, this is a good-enough deal. Their outfield consists of a guy who doesn't believe in on base percentage because it isn't on the scoreboard, a 37 year old who has a 67 OPS+ and a a rookie who probably got promoted too soon Too lazy to click on links?

Jeff Francoeur: .249//275/.351 and a 65 OPS+

Garret Anderson: .248/.288/.355 and a 67 OPS+

Jordan Schafer: .204/.313/.287 and a 61 OPS+

Amazing that all three outfielders are more than 30% worse than an average outfielder at this point in the season.

Small sample size?

Jeff Francoeur career: .267/.309/.427 and a 90 OPS+

He's just really horrible. His best value is if a team is down one in the bottom of the 9th, he's a good bat off the bench because if he does somehow make contact with the ball, it has a chance to be an extra base hit.

Garret Anderson 2007: .297/.336/.492 and a 114 OPS+

Garret Anderson 2008: .293/.325/.433 and a 97 OPS+

With or without Nate McLouth, the Pirates are not going to win this year or next year, so they need to trade the players who are at the end of their peak (or past their peak) for young, talented players. At 27, Nate McLouth is what he is: a slightly above average hitter with horrible defense. For the Braves, they upgraded their outfield by a million percent. Funny how a 114 OPS+ is a HUGE upgrade. Maybe I need to review Frank Wren's brief tenure with the Braves next...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Tom Glavine: release from Atlanta Braves is about the money

The Atlanta Braves released pitcher Tom Glavine, traded for Nate McLouth and promoted prospect Tommy Hanson this week. Glavine thinks his release is about the money and not performance based.

From Glavine:

"I told those guys if it's about you have better options, then tell me you have better options. I have listened the last day and a half about how bad I am, how bad I pitched and how I can't get anybody out in the big leagues. I've heard all that stuff. I don't agree with it."

From Braves general manager Frank Wren:

"Our evaluation was he would not be successful."

From Glavine again:

"Based on my performance? Well, my bad, I just threw 11 scoreless innings. Was I supposed to throw a no-hitter and strike out 15? That's never been my style of pitching."

First, in response to Wren, I agree with your evaluation but how did you not come up with that before you signed him for the 2008 season? What did Glavine do the last couple years with the New York Mets that warranted a contract? Look at the stats.

As a 41 year old with the Mets, Glavine pitched 200.1 innings with a 96 ERA+, a 1.413 WHIP, 1.39 strikeout to walk ratio. If anything, he was an average pitcher at best during his last season with the Mets. The Braves signed him to a contract. A maybe-average pitcher turning 42 years old does not equate to success. In his first year with the Braves, he was horrible in the games he pitched and was injured for most of the year. Now at 43 and coming off an injury, he shouldn't be surprised that he is being released. Sure, he pitched 11 scoreless innings in minor league ball, which is nice, but his past two years are better indicators than 11 scoreless minor league innings. He can convince himself that it isn't performance based, but he is wrong. He can probably pitch for a major league baseball team. Ideally, he could be used in long relief and as a spot starter for a contending team looking for pitching depth. Think Justin Masterson of the Red Sox. But his time with the Braves, like Greg Maddux and John Smoltz, is over. It's time for Braves fans to enjoy Tommy Hanson.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Pirate players sound off on McLouth trade

I don't have any analysis for the Nate McLouth trade to the Atlanta Braves because I don't know much about the players the Pittsburgh Pirates got in return, but I am intrigued by the Pirate players reaction to the trade.

From second baseman Freddy Sanchez:

"Wow," second baseman Freddy Sanchez said Thursday of the trade, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I think the biggest thing was the shock factor. It's obviously a tough pill to swallow. Our No. 3 hitter just got taken away, the guy who leads our team in home runs and RBIs, and we were 6½ games out. We could still have been right there. I think we still can. But we're all just kind of wondering right now ... wondering what it is."

From first baseman Adam LaRoche:

"There ain't a guy in here who ain't [ticked] off about it," said first baseman Adam LaRoche, according to the report. "It's kind of like being with your platoon in a battle, and guys keep dropping around you. You keep hanging on, hanging on, and you've got to figure: How much longer till you sink?

"It's fine. Heck with it. We're not the GM. We don't run the team. If they feel like it's the best move for three or four years from now, great," LaRoche said, according to the report. "Unfortunately, that does me no good. I've still got to be in here telling guys it's going to be fine with Nate gone. Well, you can only do that for so long until guys just kind of ... well, they know."

I hate to break it to Sanchez and LaRoche, but they will be traded. They have to be, right? Sanchez is having a very hot streak where his OPS+ is 125 and his rate stats this year are .321/.359/.488. Since he doesn't draw many walks and his batting average is well above his average the last two years, you have to expect those to go down and match his career line of .302/.338/.423. He is 31 years old and would make a nice piece to a contending team. LaRoche has a 114 OPS+ with rate states of .245/.341/.467. He is 29 years old and would also make for a nice piece for a contending team needing an extra bat. So sure it must hurt to lose their friend and teammate, but they can't be surprised. Now if they expect to be Pirates for the next three years, they are just oblivious. I wouldn't be shocked if a team like the New York Mets doesn't give up some prospects to acquire these two because they need a first baseman to replace the injured Carlos Delgado and a second baseman to replace umm whoever.

Also, not to be overly critical but with LaRoche saying, "there ain't a guy in here who ain't [ticked] off about it," is he replying that everyone is happy? Double negatives always get you.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Yes, Sammy Sosa some numbers for the hall of fame

Sammy Sosa will announce his formal retirement from baseball. Really? Do we need to make a formal announcement?

The most interesting quote from the story:

"I will calmly wait for my induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Don't I have the numbers to be inducted?," said Sosa, who presently serves the Dominican government as Special Ambassador For Investment Opportunities."

Yes, Sosa has the numbers to be inducted. Or at least some numbers. The career 609 home runs is impressive. That's elite company. If you look at his rate stats, he posts a mediocre .273 career batting average with a so-so .344 on base percentage and a very nice .534 slugging percentage and a 128 OPS+.

Of course he forgot English when facing Congress about steroids. Then there's the corked bat incident. And finally that Rick Reilly SI piece where Sosa declined Reilly's steroid test offer.

Then again you could make the argument that while circumstantially things don't look good for Sosa, he has never failed a drug test. Also, will the Hall of Fame keep Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez and Roger Clemens out of the Hall of Fame?

The kicker is Mark McGwire The man Sammy Sosa is linked with. Both were a part of the magical 1998 home run chase. Both were at the congressional hearing. One didn't speak English, the other didn't want to speak. Both have never failed a drug test, yet the public and media suspects otherwise. McGwire hasn't even gotten close. Also, McGwire's numbers dwarf Sosa's numbers.

Let's compare:

Sammy Sosa

.272/.344/.534 and a 128 OPS+

Mark McGwire

.263/.394/.588 and a 162 OPS+

Sammy Sosa gets extra points for being a right fielder, but not that many extra points. Before that 1998 season, he was very good at making outs.

On Base Percentages:

1990: .282

1991: .240

1992: .317

1993: .309

1994: .339

1995: .340

1996: .323

1997: .300

That is just dreadful. Steroids or not, Sammy Sosa is truly a borderline case. And with McGwire struggling with the voting, Sosa might not want to actively wait for the call to the hall.

Monday, June 1, 2009

You Wanted Joba to Pitch in the 8th Inning...


You are right, Mike Francesa. Joba Chamberlain should pitch in the 8th inning. What was I thinking? Of course, it's much better when he's working on his 8th inning pitched in that game than coming in the 8th for 1 inning.

It's just one game, but maybe this one game will make fans and media types chill on the Joba to the bullpen movement. Remember, the San Francisco Giants considered doing that with Tim Lincecum during his rookie year. It's hard to win the Cy Young when you're only pitching 60 innings a year...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Steve Phillips says that Carlos Beltran is Not a Winning Player

Former New York Mets general manager and current ESPN analyst Steve Phillips addressed a question during his chat in regards to his comment on Sunday night's baseball telecast on ESPN.

From the chat:

"Beltran Stays (New York): Steve, while I respect your work, I disagree with your statements about Carlos Beltran on Sunday Night Baseball. The guy has done nothing but produce, and name me a CF who's better in the game right now.

SportsNation Steve Phillips: If the Mets don't make the playoffs, I firmly believe they need to reconfigure the core of this team. While Beltran does have talent, I just don't see him as a winning player. Even after my comments on Sunday night, Beltran let a fly ball drop in between himself and Angel Pagan in the Dodger game. I see him putting up numbers but not making plays to win games. I would take Torii Hunter, Grady Sizemore, Curtis Granderson, and Nate McLouth over Beltran, and use the financial difference to improve the team in other ways. Beltran isn't a $17 million dollar a year player. He just doesn't have the kind of impact for that kind of money.

SportsNation Steve Phillips: Many people think that Alex Rodriguez is the best player in the game, but he's never won anything. I look at Beltran in a similar fashion as Rodriguez--a great talent that just doesn't seem to have what it takes to win championships. Maybe the Mets can keep him and add pieces to the core around him and still win. But when you're dealing with a budget and the screams of immediacy in New York, I'm not sure the Mets can wait to piece it together around him. I know there are a lot of people who disagree with me, but it's just the way I see it. Beltran is a very good person and a solid citizen, in addition to being a guy who puts up numbers. I like him, I just don't think they can win with him."

I read something about Phillips making those comments about Beltran during the game, and I appreciate that Phillips took the question and addressed it with his opinion. That said, I see no reason to think Phillips is right.

Baseball is not really a team sport and not really an individual sport. It's a weird mix. On the one hand, it is essentially pitcher vs. batter with a defense behind the pitcher. The batter is not affected by his teammates. The catch is that it is 9 batters going one on one against the pitcher and his defense. Carlos Beltran, David Wright and Jose Reyes do their parts very well.

I'm not going to get into the numbers because we all know Beltran puts up good numbers. Phillips acknowledges this. The point is that Beltran and Alex Rodriguez do their parts really well and do contribute to winning baseball. If we're looking at World Series rings, well, no they have not won a championship.

But Phillips says this:

"I would take Torii Hunter, Grady Sizemore, Curtis Granderson, and Nate McLouth over Beltran, and use the financial difference to improve the team in other ways."

Torii Hunter, Grady Sizemore, Curtis Granderson and Nate McLouth all have zero World Series rings. Coco Crisp has a World Series ring. Want him instead? How about Shane Victorino? Juan Pierre has a ring.

If the New York Mets were concerned about the financial implications of Beltran's contract and their inability to sign contracts, maybe they shouldn't have signed Luis Castillo who made $6.25 million last year or the inconsistent Oliver Perez to a three year $36 million contract.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Max Scherzer goes for win number two tonight

Tonight Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Max Scherzer aims to get his second win in his big league career. It took Scherzer 14 starts and 23 games dating back to last year to notch his first victory last week against the Atlanta Braves in a 12-0 victory. He pitched six shut out innings, but he could have pitched a mediocre six innings of four-run ball. For a pitcher who boasts an impressive 147 ERA+ for his career along with good career rate stats of 9.5 strikeouts per 9 innings and 1.27 WHIP, the fact that it took him 93.2 career innings to notch his first victory shows the flaws in the win-loss stat.

Livan Hernandez was 13-11 last year with the Minnesota Twins and Colorado Rockies. Not bad. Certainly better than Scherzer's career record of 1-7. Look a little deeper and Hernandez had an ERA+ of 69, a WHIP of 1.667 and struck out 3.4 batters per 9 innings.

Looking at Scherzer's game logs this year, you can see why it took him so long to get the first victory. On May 5 against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he pitched six innings and gave up 3 runs (2 earned) in a 3-1 loss. On April 30, he pitched six innings of shut out ball against the Milwaukee Brewers, but the Diamondbacks lost 4-1. On April 19 against the San Francisco Giants, he gave up 1 run in five innings in a 2-0 loss--a game where Randy Johnson gave up one hit in seven innings.

While I know and you know that Scherzer is a pretty good pitcher despite his 1-7 record, Cy Young voters still use the win-loss record as a criteria. While a great pitcher will most likely have a nice win-loss record, sometimes the lack of wins kills a pitcher's chance. Two recent examples come to mind when Chris Carpenter won in 2005 against Roger Clemens and in 2004 when Roger Clemens won against Randy Johnson. In 2005, Clemens had his best ERA+ of 226, a microscopic 1.008 WHIP and struck out 7.9 batters per 9 innings. Carpenter had a great season, but you know the voters gave him the Cy Young because his 21-5 record looked nicer than Clemens' 13-8 record. Perhaps it's justice because while Clemens had a great 2004 year, Randy Johnson was better. Johnson had a 16-14 record which is no indication of how dominating he was that year. He posted a league best .900 WHIP. Nobody was getting on base against him.

While a poor win-loss record may hurt a pitcher's candidacy, a great win-loss record will improve a pitcher's candidacy. Makes sense, right? Russ Ortiz won 21 games with the Atlanta Braves in 2003 to finish fourth in Cy Young voting. Impressive. Of course his ERA+ was 112. While he was above average, he was merely 12% above the average pitcher in earned run average. His league leading 102 walks did not help his cause. What happens when your ERA is only 7% above the average major league pitcher and you post a 1.532 WHIP? You finish 5th in Cy Young Voting. Aaron Sele threw up those horrendous numbers with the Texas Rangers in 1999 along with his impressive 18-9 record. To his credit, he did strike out 8.2 batters per 9 innings. Of course Arlington Stadium is a hitter's ballpark, but ERA+ is league adjusted.

Coming in fourth or fifth in Cy Young voting is nice, but it's not like they won the award. Bartolo Colon won the award in 2005 with the Los Angeles Anaheim California Angels. He had a very nice season. He threw 222.2 innings with two complete games and put up a 122 ERA+, a 1.159 WHIP and struck out 6.3 batters per 9 innings. He had a very good season, but we all know he won the award because of the 21-8 record. Mariano Rivera finished second despite striking out 9.2 batters per 9 innings and putting up a .868 WHIP. He had his usual dominating season. That said, the real travesty was Johan Santana not winning the award. Santana threw 231.2 innings with three complete games and two shutouts along with a 1.55 ERA+, a .971 WHIP and struck out 9.2 batters per 9 innings. He dominated Colon in every category. Of course the 16-7 record for Santana was totally his fault.


After I wrote this, I went to and noticed this little gem from Rob Neyer. He writes about the great Johan Santana, but this is the paragraph that emphasizes my point:

"But while Santana was not robbed of the award in 2008, he most certainly was in 2005 when -- finishing 16-7, just like last year -- he led the AL in strikeouts and finished second (by a hair) in ERA but finished third in the Cy Young balloting because voters are obsessed with wins and losses."

My post was about Max Scherzer finally getting that coveted first win, but I had a deeper theme about how good he is despite his poor win-loss record. Then I used some historical examples to prove my point. I will say that as a young kid, I was impressed with wins and losses. It was Neyer who showed me how meaningless records are in the big picture years ago.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"This Guy" is doing a nice job filling in for Manny B.

In my last post, I callously referred to Juan Pierre as this guy. And while he won't keep this impressive run of games going and definitely won't post a .403/.477/.532 line for the rest of the season, he certainly will be good enough during the 50 game Manny vacation.

In my Manny taking a vacation post, I mentioned:

"At this point there is no mention of steroids. Also, I know it is extremely possible that he juices now and juiced back then. But until we know more, how can I make that giant leap?"

Well, we're almost at that leap. You know there are reporters are digging for more information and trying to link to his past. If he was smart, he would face the press and tell every little detail. Otherwise, something like this will happen.

As for the Dodgers, they don't need a Manny apology, they just need him to be in shape and ready to play once he serves the 50-game suspension.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Manny B. Manny Taking a 50 Game Vacation

I was prepared to write a post today about Mets manager Jerry Manuel and his foolish managing, but I got a text message from my friend Jennifer at 9:00 this morning:

"Manny suspended 50 games for steroids! Ha ha"

I go to and see the headling: Manny Tests Positive.

What? My favorite player. How could this be?

After reading the article with the misleading headline, I see that it doesn't exactly list steroids or performance enhancing drugs. Manny B. says, "Recently I saw a physician for a personal health issue. He gave me a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was OK to give me. Unfortunately, the medication was banned under our drug policy. Under the policy that mistake is now my responsibility. I have been advised not to say anything more for now."

Seems reasonable and considering there is no mention of steroid or performance enhancing drugs, I have no reason to suspect otherwise until more information is uncovered.

Now onto the reader comments:

dthom516 says:

"Another tarnished legacy. Once considered possibly the best hitter of his era, he will now join Bonds, A-Rod, Clemens and the rest of the PEDs users who got caught and saw their reputations slip away so fast...what a shame..."

What? Where's the mention of PEDs in the article? Look it's completely possible that he was taking a drug to mask steroids, but as of now, we have minimal information.


"Not surprised at all.......they all do roids these days, now maybe Arod wont be so dumped on. Sox fans have to be soooo disappointed."

Where was the mention that he did anything with the Sox? Possible but no information linking that. Now I'm thinking that some reporter will go Seleena Roberts on Manny and try to find out as much information as possible. This kind of story just leads itself to that sort of thing. How many books about Bonds, A-rod and Clemens have come out since there names have been linked with steroids?

True, I am slightly biased because he's my favorite player, but I'm also realist. At this point there is no mention of steroids. Also, I know it is extremely possible that he juices now and juiced back then. But until we know more, how can I make that giant leap?

Now of course there's the whole 50-game suspension. No matter how you break it down, the Dodgers are replacing Manny B. Manny with this guy. Fortunately, they still have Russell Martin, James Loney, Andre Ethier, Matt Kamp and Orlando Hudson. Also, they have Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw pitching. Yes, losing Manny for 50 games and replacing him with a guy who has OPS+ 73, 75 and 82 the last three seasons is not a good thing, but the Dodgers have plenty of talent and play in a so-so division. This does give hope to the Diamondbacks and Giants though.

Also, it's funny that I wrote a lengthy post about the Dodgers mustached GM and all of his bad signings. All signings I thought were garbage from the start. And the one move I praised for being high-dollar but short-term might join that list of bad signings. Essentially the Dodgers are paying $25 million (with 50 games prorated) for 100 games. But hey, at least this time it was hindsight

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Mustached GM

Rare is it that you will introduce me to a man with a mustache, and I will leave unimpressed. Unless he happens to be Los Angeles Dodgers GM Ned Colletti.

After checking out Rob Neyer's Friday Filberts, I noticed this wonderful gem about all of the young players the Dodgers have given up on during his time. And let's not forget trading super minor league catcher Carlos Santana for Casey Blake and his career .334 on base percentage.

This prompted me to ask Rob Neyer during his chat this question:

Radical Ryan, Arizona: You linked to a blog that posted Ned Coletti's (sp) history of trading young talent. Couple that with the signings of Andruw Jones, Jason Schmidt, Juan Pierre and to some extent Nomar Garciaparra, how does he have a job? Not only does he trade away good, young talent but he gives gobs of money to has-beens who can't even stay healthy!

And fortunately for me, Neyer selected this question first in his chat and posted a response:

Rob Neyer: Well, yes ... there's also that. At least he didn't have a bad winter, right? Though I suppose Randy Wolf could change that.

I'll get to his response in a second, but I originally meant to write about this topic during the offseason when the Dodgers were negotiating a contract and being "cheap" during the Manny B. Manny negotiations. Yes, the Dodgers were really negotiating against themselves and only themselves and from that perspective, they probably didn't have to offer him more than $15 million for a year. But considering that he makes them slight favorites in the NL West, a shot at the playoffs makes him worth the extra money. And as said, it's not like the Dodgers are going to drop ticket and parking prices, so Dodger shouldn't care about how much Manny makes so long as it is a short-term contract. And it was.

While Dodgers owner Frank McCourt was penny pinching (relatively speaking), perhaps he wouldn't have had to worry about saving dollars if Ned Colletti didn't give tons of money to Andruw Jones, Nomar Garciaparra, Jason Schmidt, Juan Pierre and Randy Wolf.

I'll address Jones, Pierre, Garciaparra and Schmidt based on last year's productioon. Randy Wolf hasn't had a full season with the Dodgers for me to bash.

Andruw Jones made just under $15 million to play 75 games. Of course, during those 75 games, he had this nice line: .158/.256/.249. An OPS+ of 34. Jones got this contract on the heels of his previous season with the Braves where he got on base 31.1% of the time and carried an 88 OPS+ warranted a big money contract.

Juan Pierre made $8 million last year to OPS+ 73 last year. Yes, he's speedy, but when he gets on base 32.7% of the time, his speediness is mostly used running back to the dug out. Pierre got on base 33% and 32.6% during the previous two seasons before signing the big money contract. And now Pierre is really just a pinch runner on a team that has a nice outfield of Manny B. Manny, Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp. Yes, I am surprised that Colletti hasn't traded Ethier for Jim Edmonds and Matt Kemp for Luis Gonzalez.

Wait, Colletti gave Luis Gonzalez more than $7 million in 2007 to play league average baseball. But hey, he was under 40 years old when Colletti signed him!

Nomar Garciaparra made $9.5 million last year to play 55 games. In 121 games in 2007, Garciaparra posted a 78 OPS+ and got on base a stellar 32.8% of the time. He did get a solid 2006 season out of him, but signing an injury-riddled Garciaparra to a three year deal paying him $9.5 million in the third deal is not good business. In his previous two years, he played 62 and 81 games. But hey, he was awesome from 1997-2000!

Jason Schmidt has made more than $30 million for 25.2 innings over two years. Enough said.

All of those bad contracts, and they took so long to lock up Manny B. Manny. Just sayin. Keep in mind, I didn't even mention the $7.5 million paid to Esteban Loaiza last year.

As for Neyer's question, the Dodgers did have an okay offseason. Signing Casey Blake, who turns 36 this year, to a three year $17.5 million contract is eerily similar to past signings of Kent and Nomah. Orlando Hudson is a nice pick-up. Rafael Furcal is nice, but at three years and $30 million, it seems like they overpaid for a guy that played 36 games for them last year. And of course, Randy Wolf. Sure, he had a nice half season with the Houston Astros last year, but in what year since 2004 has he shown he's even a league average pitcher who can stay healthy? Perhaps, Colletti liked him so much from the one year he spent with the Dodgers in 2007 where he pitched 102.2 innings and posted a 97 ERA+. By the way, Wolf's contract that year? $7,477,969

Thursday, April 16, 2009

So much for that Cavs and Celtics Eastern Conference Rematch

According to, Kevin Garnett could miss the entire playoffs.

Offensively, this is meaningless. Sure, Garnett is a good scorer and distributor, but Paul Pierce and Ray Allen can carry the team offensively with Leon Powe playing near the basket. Defensively, this is huge. With Kendrick Perkins, the Celtics had two outstanding defenders that complemented each other. With Superman Howard as a second round match-up, can the Celtics stop him? I just don't see it. While I don't see the Celtics stopping the Cavs in the Eastern Conference finals, you have to admit, the match-up does make for a fun seven-game series. Not only that, but with the Lakers wrapping up the Western Conference (sorry), you would have a potential Lakers and Celtics repeat OR a Kobe vs. LeBron death match. The possibility of Superman Howard and the Hedo Turkoglu's going against the Lake Show, even if it is a longshot, doesn't make for a fantastic finals.

Edit: John Hollinger wrote about this, but he used stats to back up his point.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Papelbon: Manny is a Cancer

Be prepared for a bunch of cliches as Boston Red Sox closer Jonathon Papelbon describes Manny Ramirez and the addition of Jason Bay.

From the article:

"It just takes one guy to bring an entire team down, and that's exactly what was happening," Papelbon said, according to the magazine. "Once we saw that, we weren't afraid to get rid of him. It's like cancer. That's what he was. Cancer. He had to go. It [stunk], but that was the only scenario that was going to work. That was it for us."

I'm not sure if cancer is the right word considering what his teammates John Lester and Mike Lowell have gone through, but he decided to use the word cancer. Unlike basketball, baseball is really an individual sport. Sure, you need your teammates to help you out on unimportant stats like RBIs and Runs, but each player goes one-on-one per at bat. Each player controls his area on defense. You control your own greatness. Even if he was moody, there are lots of moody people. Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds were described as moody, and they led the Giants to the World Series. Manny B. Manny was crucial to both Red Sox World Series runs. He must be benign.

On the acquisition of Jason Bay, he says:

"And after, you could feel it in the air in the clubhouse," he said, according to the magazine. "We got Jason Bay -- Johnny Ballgame, plays the game right, plays through broken knees, runs out every ground ball -- and it was like a breath of fresh air, man! Awesome! No question."

Jason Bay does play the game the right way. Look at that career 131 OPS+ or that .375 career OBP. He even posted a 128 OPS+ in a very small sample size with the Red Sox. Manny Ramirez plays the game the righter way. In his half season with the Red Sox he had a 136 OPS+ and has a career OPS+ of 155 and a career .411 OBP.

I'm sure Jason Bay would not play the game with broken knees, but through the silly hyperbole, I get what Papelbon is saying. Jason Bay probably runs out most ground balls. Manny B. Manny probably does not run out most ground balls. I would say most baseball players don't run hard when they know they will be out. Is it wrong? Maybe a little bit because there's always a chance for an error. But if you were to watch the highlights of that dead story from Boston media and picked up by ESPN, you would see a highlight of Manny taking over five seconds to run to first. And then you would see a package of clips where he didn't run that hard. If you were to believe that, then you would think that this dude doesn't try. Looking at that career .411 OBP, I'm thinking the guy knows what he is doing and does it very well.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Barry Bonds Still a Free Agent

Last week, the second best offensive free agent in baseball signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The best offensive free agent is without a team for the second consecutive year.

Say what you will about his character--which I believe is insanely overblown--but the guy can hit. But let's say this guy is a grumpy man who doesn't sign autographs for the kids. I don't go to baseball games to watch guys with great character who donate blood to the Red Cross and tells jokes at the neighborhood bar. I watch players who are skilled. Look at what this guy did for the Seattle Mariners last season. For a guy who is only supposed to play offense and not defense, he managed to get on base 27% of the time in half the season. Great. And they couldn't offer Barry Bonds a couple million? By the way, Jose Vidro made $8.5 million to not be a good player.

Okay, so it looks like the guy took steroids. But this guy was listed on the Mitchell Report for steroids. Gregg Zaun recently signed a contract with the Baltimore Orioles. Steroids, grumpyness, whatever your excuse, let's just be real for once: Barry Bonds has been blackballed by baseball.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Evolution of Jeans

Have you seen the price of jeans lately? Look, I'm all for men's fashion and looking great, but part of men's fashion is pulling it off. Not everyone can pull it off. So what do you have when you have a bunch of guys wearing True Religion Jeans at a Scottsdale club? You have a guy who just spent at least $200 and looking like everyone else. And look, just because you spent $200 on jeans, doesn't mean you are a fashion icon. It means you have no idea what you are doing.

Any guy in their mid 20s will recall Jnco's Jeans. You don't? Does this help? The baggy jeans with pockets that go from the waist to the heel. Every junior high kid had these jeans. Do you remember how foolish you looked when you spent $100 for these ridiculous jeans? Well, project that same thought on True Religion Jeans ten years from now.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Pog Post

I still have my Pogs; really, it's just part of my childhood museum. It's a reminder of how junior high promotes following trends rather than being your own person. I was in 6th grade when Pogs became hip. When I first saw them, I said to my friends, "I'll never get into that." Two weeks later, I was buying 60 Pogs for a dollar at the flea market. But here's the thing: those Pogs weren't good enough. You had to have the official Pogs with the official Pog markings on the back. They came in packs of four for about $3 or $4. Being the smart, young business man, I loaded up on those 60 for a dollar unofficial Pogs, invested in a heavy slammer and played rich kids for their official Pogs. I had the makings of a C.E.O. But instead, I decided to be a writer and satirize my experience. It's that whole two roads diverged in a yellow wood thing.

Manny Ramirez Signs with the Dodgers

After a winter-long negotiation with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and really only the Dodgers, Manny Ramirez is officially back with the Dodgers.

This move makes the Dodgers a legit contender in the NL West. This sums up my take on the Dodger's improvement with Manny B. Manny in the lineup. Before the signing, the Dodgers and D-backs had a similar lineup. All pretty good to good hitters but neither team having the superstar slugger. Both teams had comparable pitching staffs with Webb and Haren slightly edging Billingsley and the projected numbers of Kershaw. Unless Justin Upton makes the big leap this year, which is a strong possibility but next year is more probably, the Dodgers now have the slight advantage. Regardless, this is going to be a good race and the loser has a shot at the Wild Card. Also, Ned Colletti needs to look at that lineup and see the lack of Juan Pierre. Congratulations Colletti, you have a $44 million pinch runner sitting on the bench.

The other part of the discussion is Manny's greed. I'm not sure why athletes are held to this standard where they should sign for less money and play for the love of the game. I'm sure most athletes love the game, but they also want to get paid tons of money. I love writing and I write for here for free, but I also look to get paid for my writing through magazines. As far as Manny signing for less money, look, the Dodgers aren't lowering ticket prices, concessions and parking. So if you're going to pay that much money, don't you want to see a good team?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

What does Alex Rodriguez have to say?

Imagine waking up Saturday morning and going to to see this.

Talk about unexpected. Of course, immediately, sensationalism comes way of Buster Olney and his rant on A-rod's legacy tarnished. I'm not sure why people are all caught up in legacy to begin with. Let's enjoy the game and not worry about legacies.

The most rational story came from Rob Neyer. We hope he didn't do steroids, but regardless of the outcome, he's still one of the best players. It's rather odd that Barry Bonds and his still massive on base percentage, slugging percentage and head couldn't get a one year contract last year when really bad players like Gregg Zaun, who was mentioned on the Mitchell Report, sign a contract with the Baltimore Orioles.

For some reason we hold athletes and celebrities to some high moral standard. We should not idolize them or be envious of them. We watch them for entertainment. Baseball now has strict penalties for those who get busted. So it would be completely foolish to take steroids (or get caught) these days. Back then, what's the penalty? Illegal? Sure. But if there is no penalty, what's the harm?

Where do we go from here? It should be an interesting next couple weeks. I expect columnist to praise moral values and condemn him. I expect many readers to think they are creative and post reader comments saying "A-roid." I am curious for A-rod's response. I am curious to see the names of the other 103 players. I wonder what Bonds and Roger Clemens are thinking. Stay tuned.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Baseball Hall of Fame Voting

ESPN posted the ballots of their baseball writers who have a vote for the Hall of Fame.

To me, it's pretty simple. Rickey Henderson, Bert Blyleven, Alan Trammell, Mark McGwire and Tim Raines.

I really don't see the debate for Henderson, Blyleven or Raines so I won't address them.

For McGwire, he played in his era and was one of the most dominant players.

If you look at Alan Trammell's stats, they don't look that impressive. His career OPS+ is 110. An OPS+ of 100 indicates an average major league baseball player. At 110, he was a very good hitter. However, you have to take into account that he played shortstop. He wasn't a first baseman, right fielder or designated hitter hitting 110. Taking into account his position, he actually was an impressive hitter. And since most people agree that Craig Biggio is a first ballot hall of famer, as a fellow middle infielder, his stats look similar.

This will mark Jim Rice's final year on the ballot. For whatever reason, he will make it into the hall of fame. His career OPS+ is 128, which is very good. But most legit baseball writers, namely Keith Law and Rob Neyer, will point out that he was a horrible fielder, couldn't run and had bad away stats.

This movement of Jim Rice love has come from this label of "feared hitter." One writer labeled him a feared hitter and now everyone believes it. Under the reader comments of the ESPN ballot, user 4reojr14 has a long post and ends it with "And remember that there was a reason that Rice was feared!" Of course he was.