Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ken Griffey Keeps Clean Legacy With Injuries

Ken Griffey Jr. is ready and ripped for this season. On a personal level, I do want him to succeed. I'm not going to analyze his season last year or his projections for this year. One thing that caught my eye, however, was this comment from crazyjdawg91 in the comments section:

"and just think if, he had stooped to the level of AFraud, Barroid, and McWired, who knows how many fewer injuries he would have had and how many home runs he would have had. Kudos for Griffey keeping his legacy clean and place in baseball history intact."

According to crazyjdawg91, Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire were bad people because they took steroids to stay on the field.* He would rather see superstar Ken Griffey Jr. on the disabled list than on steroids and out on the field producing and helping his team. Interesting logic...

*While I appreciate McGwire admitting steroid usage, I don't buy that he took steroids to stay on the field. That doesn't make sense to me. I would think that he should be going to a doctor to get treatment and not receiving treatment from a gym spotter.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Yankees Waste $2 million on Randy Winn

The New York Yankees signed Randy Winn to platoon with Brett Gardner and replace Johnny Damon. Certainly one year of Randy Winn is better than three years of Johnny Damon, but zero years of Randy Winn is better than one year of Randy Winn.

Sure, the Yankees can afford to throw away $2 million, but this is the day of making good moves. Jack Z! That is, unless you are Dayton Moore, Omar Minaya, Ned "The Mustached GM" Coletti or Brian Sabean. (If you click on the link, you get to see one bad move they made this off season). Let's put it this way: Randy Winn was so bad last year that even Sabian wouldn't sign him.

Rob Neyer does a good job outlining the bad of this trade. Here are the key points from his article:

"...He's been almost exactly league-average, as a hitter, in his career, and at (almost) 36 he's not going to suddenly become better than average. So there's your baseline: Slightly below average."

He then adds:

"Unfortunately, it is might slightly more than slightly. Winn's spent the last four seasons in the National League. Two of those seasons were slightly better than average, two were substantially worse. He's older and he's moving to the tougher league and he's leaving a good hitter's park for one that is good for power hitters . . . and Winn's not a power hitter."

Winn was ridiculously bad last year with split stats of .262/.318/.353 and a 75 OPS+. At 35, he was starting his downhill trend. He has never been a superstar and has posted two good hitting seasons in his career. As an everyday outfielder, there is no hope for him to be average, and it is more likely that the atrocious numbers would, at best, replicate. He's not going to be an everyday outfielder. Can the partnership work?

Well, last year Damon .282/.365/.489 line with a 126 OPS+. Winn's really bad hitting stats came against left-handed pitching. Against right-handed pitching, Winn had a .292/.354/.397 line. Gardner overall was .270/.345/.379 and a 93 OPS+. Against left-handed pitching he hit .291/.381/.400. Looks nice, but then you realize that was in only 65 plate appearances.

You're looking at a very weak hitting left field spot with okay on base skills. They won't be able to replace Damon, but one year of below average play in left field is better than overpaying for a few years in Damon, who is not exactly a spring chicken. Besides, the Yankees are going after Carl Crawford next year, right? In the meantime, this signing looks pretty pointless. Might as well just let Gardner play full time.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Ed Wade Does Not Sign Miguel Tejada

In a surprising move, Houston Astros General Manager Ed Wade does not sign Miguel Tejada to a ten year extension. Finally Wade does something smart. Instead, the Baltimore Orioles bring back Tejada for one year at $6 million.

I get that Tejada will be a body to hold down third base until prospect Josh Bell takes over. I would also get this move if Tejada was signed for $1 million because if he somehow puts up okay numbers, he could be flipped for a B+ prospect. Hey, maybe the Los Angeles Dodgers, whom I am shocked didn't sign Tejada to a multi-year deal to begin with, would trade another nice prospect, a la Josh Bell. At $6 million, even at one year, it just seems like a waste of money. Who else wanted to sign him?

With the Houston Astros, where Tejada aged two years in one year, he put up horrible numbers. Don't let the two all-star appearances and the .313 batting average and 86 RBI fool you, like it fooled Orioles General Manager Andy MacPhail. Last year, he put up a 109 OPS+ and posted a 92 OPS+ the year before. In 2008, he had a .314 OBP, but he did improve to a .340 OBP last year. So last year, he had a .313 batting average and a .340 OBP. So we know that his on base skills are batting average heavy these days. He has a career .289 batting average, which is only .006 points above his 2008 batting average. What does this mean? It means that he is unlikely to post a .340 on base percentage at age 36 in the American League East. He will probably put up numbers closer to his 2008 rate stats.

If I was Chris Berman, I would nickname Andy MacPhail, Andy Mac-Epic-Phail. This signing, as it stands, looks bad, but if Casey Blake goes down for the Los Angeles Dodgers, I think MacPhail might be able to get another prospect from the Dodgers...

Vinny Del Negro Still Coaching the Chicago Bulls

On December 28, 2009, ESPN reporter Chris Broussard posted this story on its Web site declaring that the Chicago Bulls have already decided on firing head coach Vinny Del Negro. The announcement was not made because they were waiting on a head coach. Today is January 24, 2010, and Vinny Del Negro is still the head coach of the Chicago Bulls.

Look, I'm not saying that what Broussard reported was false. The problem is, whatever happened (if anything), the writer wrote a story insinuating that Del Negro was gone, and almost a month later, he's still drawing up plays.

This is one of the problems with sports reporting. There is too much reporting on rumors than actual events. This is a huge example, obviously, but it happens all the time. Last year on the trade deadline, ESPN had a big banner speculating that the Phoenix Suns were going to trade Shaquille O'Neal to the Cleveland Cavaliers. When I saw that, I emailed my contact with the Suns to see if that was true. She replied back within five minutes saying that there was no truth to it at all. At the end of the day, O'Neal was still in a Suns uniform.

Currently, there are reports that Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner is leaning towards retirement. Is it bad to actually wait until he makes a decision?

Monday, January 18, 2010

When Using the Word FEAR Goes Wrong

A quick hit:

I just linked to a story where Eric Byrnes has interest in playing for the San Francisco Giants. I only cared about the first part since it was relative to the post. I read a little bit further and found this wonderful quote from Randy Winn about Aubrey Huff:

"This is a tough park to be a home-run hitter, to put up 30, 40 home runs, but I think he can hit 20 home runs and, more importantly, be a feared RBI guy," Winn said. "I think that's more important. I know he didn't have a good year last year, but he's been a guy who's driven in 100 runs."

First off, I don't expect Winn to know that RBI is a stupid stat to measure a hitter. But feared RBI guy? Aubrey Huff? You want Aubrey Huff to be a feared RBI guy? Even Jim Rice and Andre Dawson are laughing. Can I start the Aubrey Huff hall of fame campaign now?

Well, let's take a look at Aubrey Huff, Hall of Fear career:

The Slash Stats: .282/.340/.472 with a 113 OPS+

Last Four Seasons OPS+: 81, 137, 103 and 108

Huff is a guy who will start the season at 33 and coming off an 81 OPS+ and a .310 OBP. Granted, he shouldn't be as bad as those numbers, but it would be absurd to think he will have a 137 OPS+ season. The Giants are getting an average hitter. Average hitters are not feared.

The D-Backs Young, Awesome Outfield

The Arizona Diamondbacks agreed to terms with first baseman Adam LaRoche. Ho hum. Until you realize that this move did two things: Conor Jackson will move to left field, and the Diamondbacks released left fielder Eric Byrnes.

LaRoche is an offensive upgrade over Jackson. The last four seasons, LaRoche has put up a 122, 122, 109 and 130 OPS+ with an on base percentage of .355, .341, .345 and .354. LaRoche is 30 years old and his peak years are behind him, but he is by no means an old man. It would not be far fetched to say that he will contribute 20 home runs and a .350 OBP. If the Diamondbacks can find a decent platoon partner to hit the left handed pitchers, they might have a real force at first base. Check out LaRoche's numbers versus right handed pitchers.

Jackson gets on base more than LaRoche, but he has less pop. He will move to left field in place of Byrnes and whoever else they trotted out there last year. Jackson was injured last year, but the three seasons prior, he sported a 109, 109 and 103 OPS+ and got on base at a .376, .368 and .368 clip. He figures to only improve on those numbers as he enters his prime years. Since Byrnes signed that big three year contract after the very nice 2007 season, he did not have an OBP higher than .272 or an OPS+ of 67. Incredible. He was also injured, which was unfortunately his best offensive contribution.

Jackson turns 28 this year, and easily the Diamondbacks have a very nice, young outfield. In addition to Jackson, the disappointing but entering his peak Chris Young will play center field and the breakout MVP candidate Justin Upton will play right field. If Young is going to have a future in this game, this will be the year he shows his talent. He will start the year at 26. So far, he has proven that he can take a walk, but he can't make much contact with the ball. When he was a rookie and made contact with the ball, he was hitting moonshots. His home runs have dropped from 32 to 22 to 15 in each of the last three years. Upton was an emerging super duper star with slash stats of .300/.366/.532. Those numbers are great, but he hasn't even tapped into his awesomeness. He will only be 22 years old to start the season, and you can only expect those numbers to go up each year.

And if this is true, the LaRoche signing has added a whole new level of awesomeness. So the Diamondbacks get rid of Byrnes AND he goes to the division rival San Francisco Giants? Sure, at this point, the interest is one-sided, but you know if GM Brian Sabean picks up the paper and sees that column, he will begin to draft a two year contract with a player option third year.

Men's Fashion: Glowing on the Dance Floor

Yesterday I was online window shopping. I checked out the usual sites, read through some blogs--not looking for ideas--but looking for links, brands and stores I've never seen.

One of my favorite places to buy t-shirts is Express because they are comfortable, look nice and are usually at a decent price* When looking at the latest designs, I saw a Black Light Graphic Tee. Oh no! For as much as I like the graphic t-shirt for wearing around the house, complimenting layers or wearing out when I'm wanting to scrub it, it has made the new-age man lazy. You see herds of men wearing the latest $120.00 Ed Hardy t-shirt (or $60.00 on sale Ed Hardy t-shirt for the men making $30K a year or less). It's like they think that buying an expensive vibrant colored t-shirt is fashion** It's not.

I have a feeling that the glow-in-the-dark t-shirt will be popping up at clubs everywhere. It is another lazy fashion idea. The good news is now it will be easier to spot the tool.

*Express used to sell t-shirts for $20.00. With increased demand, they have increased the price to $30.00. Sometimes they will have gimmicks like buy one, get the second half off. While I appreciate the business side of it, I have a hard time spending more than $25.00 for a standard t-shirt. There are lots of other sites and stores that sell quality t-shirts in the $15.00 to $20.00 range.

**I like Ed Hardy's use of colors and think if worn correctly can really make your attire pop. The problem is most people I see just wear the t-shirt. The colors really need to be worn in layers--blacks and grays. My other problem is I just can't see how spending more than $50.00 (let alone $30.00) and up to $125.00 for a t-shirt is a good value.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mark McGwire Apologizes His Way to a Hall of Fame Case

I don't know if you heard, but Mark McGwire, admitted taking steroids, apologized and gave a nice detailed history of his use. First off, before I go further, does anyone else find it funny that Jose Canseco is as the number one similar batter. Anyway. Apparently the admission and apology raised some eye brows and opened the book for his hall of fame case. Regardless of use, do his numbers merit an induction to the hall of fame? There are three areas where one can excel as a non pitcher baseball player: defense, hitting and base running.


Like Andre Dawson in the previous post, we have to go by "what they say" in regards to defense because the advanced measures are nonexistent. He won one Gold Glove in 1990 and was considered an average defensive first baseman.

Base Running:

McGwire stole 12 bases and was caught stealing eight times in his career.


We already knew going into building McGwire's hall of fame case that defense and base running were not going to be favorable points. His non home run counting stats would make a hyper kid on a pixie rush yawn. 7,660 plate appearances, 1,626 hits, 252 doubles and 6 triples. You look at the hits and think, "Well, so what if he had 582 home runs. He's another Dave Kingman."

But is he?

I left out one key non home run counting stat. He walked 1,317 times. In 7,429 plate appearances, Kingman had 1,575 hits and walked 608 times.

McGwire is no Kingman. Of course we don't look at counting stats for building a case. I brought them up to diffuse the argument that he didn't get enough hits and was only a home run hitter. The big three rate stats: .263/.394/.588 for a 162 OPS+--62% above the average hitter during his time. As a hitter--and I stress hitter--the recently elected Andre Dawson had a 119 OPS+ for his career.

The more traditional slash stats and the home run and walk counting stats are hall of fame numbers. If you look a little deeper and look at some more advanced stats, you will see he had a career WARP of 69.5--meaning he was 69.5 wins better than a replacement player.

For good measure, I will finally take a look at the seasons McGwire did not admit steroid use. From the story, "He said he first used steroids between the 1989 and 1990 seasons, after helping the Athletics to a World Series sweep when he and Jose Canseco formed the Bash Brothers." Let's assume that he is telling the truth and 1987, 1988 and 1989 are his only clean seasons. What kind of hitter was he then? He hit a rookie record 49 home runs in 1987 and then followed that up with 32 and 33 home run seasons. Okay, we know the guy can mash. He had seasons of 164 OPS+, 134 OPS+ and 129 OPS+. He did have a very disappointing .339 OBP in 1989. Still, those seasons do not give indication that he was a scrub.

The Fear:

I think it's funny that Jim Rice and Andre Dawson's campaigns were built around fear instead of actual numbers. Let's just use that subjective word and put it on McGwire. Would it be fitting? McGwires 162 game average for the, what I would consider, fearsome stats is 50 home runs and 114 walks. Jim Rice's 162 game average in the fearsome stats are 30 home runs and 52 walks. Dawson's 162 game average for fearsome stats is 27 home runs and, gulp, 36 walks. I know, different eras, used counting stats, etc. But if people are going to build a player's case around fear, that's no different than me coming up with my own definition of fear.

The Verdict:

Mark McGwire is not getting in the hall of fame on defense and base running, and as a first base man, that's not necessary. The question is, was he a hall of fame hitter? At first glance, there's an argument against his hit totals. That argument is killed based on the number of walks. Most times when he got a hit, he made the most of it: 589 home runs. The rate stats tell the story of a hall of famer. His slugging and getting on base skills made him 62% better than the average player. It's not like the man was average in his early years. He is clearly a hall of famer.

The Fall Out:

The big question is: will writers vote for him now that he has admitted and apologized to steroid use? My question: why does that matter? This isn't the hall of fame of honesty and fake tears. I think that a few more voters will check his name, but it will be years until he even has a chance. It might be a case where McGwire is on the ballot for the 12th year, and a St. Louis columnist starts a FEAR campaign while other voters jump on board. While probably appropriate, sometimes all it takes to make it to the hall of fame is a strong verb.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Andre Dawson Elected to the Hall of Making Outs

Andre Dawson was the only member to be enshrined into the baseball Hall of Fame yesterday leaving behind seven more deserving baseball players.

For Dawson, I do not believe he is a hall of famer, but I at least get his case unlike last year's inductee, Jim Rice. Baseball players have three areas to excel: offense, defense and base running.


Dawson has eight gold gloves. What does that mean? It means he was probably a good or great defensive player for some of the earlier seasons. As people often write, the horrible turf in Montreal took a toll on his knees and ruined his great defensive range. I will buy that because after 1983, he did not steal more than 20 bases in a season (more on that in a second). Four of his eight gold gloves came after 1983, which were likely due to reputation--see Rafael Palmeiro winning a gold glove in 1999 despite playing 28 games on the field. Unfortunately, we don't have much to go by statistically.

Base Running:

Much like defense, Dawson put up some nice stolen base numbers early in his career. Overall, he had 314 stolen bases and 109 caught stealing. He was successful stealing bases 74% of the time. After 1983, however, he was a non threat on the base paths, topping off at 18 stolen bases in 1986.


Dawson ended up with nice career counting stats. He had 2,774 hits, 503 doubles, 98 triples and 438 home runs. Dawson's slash stats are .279/.323/.482. He had a career OPS+ or 119, but posted an OPS+ of 122 in 11 seasons with Montreal Expos and an OPS+ 125 in six seasons with the Chicago Cubs.

The Fear:

Jim Rice was selected to the Hall of Fame last year based on the notion of fear. Instead of hearing logical reasons for his candidacy (there weren't many), voters started campaigning his ability to strike fear into opposing pitchers. Recently, I have seen articles about Andre Dawson being a feared hitter.

The Verdict:

Dawson is one of the rare baseball players who has a nice slugging percentage but could not get on base. His on base percentage is anorexic to say the least. Lou Brock had the previous low for on base percentage for an outfielder at .343. Dawson is .020 lower! Let's flip that around and say that for every time he went to the plate, he made an out 67.7% of the time. On base percentage is all about not making outs, which is the objective 99% of the time when a batter is at the plate. Not making outs is done two ways, taking a walk or getting a hit. When he did get a hit, he made it super productive, but he just didn't get enough hits to make his overall production hall of fame worthy. Dawson put up some nice stolen base numbers early in his career and persumably had a few years of good to great defense mixed in with some, most likely, average to below average years. Considering the fact that he played in the outfield and not shortstop, second base, third base or catcher, I would not have elected him into the Hall of Fame. With everything considered, he is one of those guys that is borderline, however, when the border was moved south last year because of Rice, he is someone who makes it.

The Fall Out:

Even though I would not use my pretend vote on Dawson, I can see the argument because he did some really good things. The thing that strikes me is that there were other candidates who were much better. If I was told that only one person made the Hall of Fame this year, I would have said, "Oh, Roberto Alomar." If I were told to keep guessing, I would have thought Bert Blyleven, Tim Raines, Mark McGwire, Barry Larkin or Edgar Martinez. I think all six are clearly hall of famers, though, I can see arguments against McGwire, Larkin and Martinez. I do not understand how Dawson stood out against those six candidates. Voters seem to be voting on stupid stuff like FEAR instead of actual performance. Actual performance is what drives fear, right? With Rice and to a lesser extent Dawson making Cooperstown on FEAR, this should bode well for another FEARSOME but not hall of fame worthy, Jack Morris.

The other thing is that yes, Dawson is much better than Rice. If we are to say that Rice is a hall of famer, then Dawson is a hall of famer. If Rice and Dawson are hall of famers, then so are Dale Murphy, Dwight Evans, Darrell Evans, Albert Belle, Dave Parker and others in that same mix. Dwight and Darrell Evans and Belle are not on the ballots. Parker and Murphy both received less than 20% of the vote. What makes Dawson (and definitely Rice) better than Parker and Murphy?