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...