Saturday, April 09, 2005

 

David Wells Imploded

I figured since Wells got hit hard today I would follow up the Yankee rotation post with the Sox one. Here goes:

Baseball Rants
1) Curt Schilling 3.71
2) Matt Clement 3.87
3) Bronson Arroyo 3.97
4) Tim Wakefield 4.23
5) Wade Miller 3.91
6) David Wells 4.77

PECOTA
1) Curt Schilling 3.76
2) Matt Clement 3.97
3) Bronson Arroyo 4.22
4) Tim Wakefield 4.57
5) Wade Miller 4.44
6) David Wells 4.60

ZiPS
1) Curt Schilling 3.26
2) Matt Clement 4.38
3) Bronson Arroyo 3.83
4) Tim Wakefield 4.80
5) Wade Miller 4.33
6) David Wells 4.17

I could be overly optimistic where Wade Miller is concerned, especially when you look at PECOTA and ZiPS projections. I think ZiPS was way off on Wells, especially after his first two starts showing us he might be on his last legs. Overall, I like PECOTA's Clement projection and ZiPS' Arroyo projection, and my Miller one. If somehow the Red Sox can mix and match these three projection systems, they would be incredibly difficult to beat. Schilling could end up anywhere on those three projections and it wouldn't matter if the production from Arroyo, Clement and Miller was as I want.

 

Jaret Wright Imploded

I ran my projected ERA's for the Yankees starters a few articles back, but I want to throw the PECOTA and ZiPS projections at you as well with mine next to it. I made mine way before I checked out PECOTA and ZiPS projections, so I'm going to find out how close (or way off) I am now at almost the same time as you.

Baseball Rants Projection
1) Randy Johnson 2.83
2) Mike Mussina 4.04
3) Carl Pavano 4.30
4) Jaret Wright 4.89
5) Kevin Brown 4.27
6) Tanyon Sturtze 5.01

PECOTA
1) Randy Johnson 2.83
2) Mike Mussina 4.14
3) Carl Pavano 4.51
4) Jaret Wright 4.57
5) Kevin Brown 4.00
6) Tanyon Sturtze 5.00

ZiPS
1) Randy Johnson 3.10
2) Mike Mussina 3.73
3) Carl Pavano 4.36
4) Jaret Wright 4.28
5) Kevin Brown 4.22
6) Tanyon Sturtze 5.29

I find it interesting (and slightly exciting) I came out to the same ERA on Randy Johnson as PECOTA, and I was also 0.01 off on Tanyon Sturtze. PECOTA sees Johnson, Brown and Sturtze as better than ZiPS projection, while ZiPS sees Mussina, Pavano, and Wright as better than PECOTA's. I am much harsher towards Jaret Wright than the other projection systems, but that might be because they do not account for Leo Mazzone. I'll have to ask Nate Silver at BP next time he does a chat. Of course, I could be wrong as well, so that could be the reason I'm projecting him for worse. Honestly, I hope ZiPS is not correct, because that would give them two ace-caliber starters in Johnson and Mussina. I would much rather see my projection or PECOTA's come through to avoid that from happening, with ERA's over 4.00 for Mussina, even with Johnson doing slightly better. I might run this projection idea through with a few other rotations; I'm thinking Oakland, Chicago, Atlanta, Minnesota, Boston, and a random one, like the Reds.

This is not the only article today, but I didn't want to bore non-Red Sox fans with a Sox minor league report. If your interested in that, it is below the picture of the 2004 World Series Ring...Also, over at Heads/Tails today I give my take on the Mariano Rivera "situation"...be sure to check it out!

 

The Future...Now?

The Red Sox mid-levels have some really good prospects in them, with players like Hanley Ramirez, Dustin Pedroia, Brandon Moss, Jon Papelbon, and hopefully someday Charlie Zink. I thought it would be interesting to constuct a team comprised of current young Red Sox players, a few Paw Sox players, and a couple of Portland Sea Dogs, and then gauge its performance using some projections.

C - Kelly Shoppach (C-)
1B: Ian Bladergroen (B-)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (B)
SS: Kenny Perez
3B: Kevin Youkilis
LF: Brandon Moss (B+)
CF: Hanley Ramirez (A-)
RF: Chris Durbin

SP#1: Jon Papelbon (B+)
SP#2: Jon Lester (B)
SP#3: Abe Alvarez (B-)
SP#4: Anibal Sanchez (B)
SP#5: Charlie Zink (go knuckleballer go!)
SP#6: David Pauley (C+)
SP#7: Manny Delcarmen (C+)

The grades are from John Sickels' latest prospect book, and since I trust his judgment, I'm excited about all the B-range players in the system.

I put seven starting pitchers, thanks to the wonderful TNSTAAP (Theres No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect, another Sickels' invention) making me nervous about not all of these guys reaching the majors for one reason or another.

Just wanted to create a starting 9 and a rotation of prospects and younguns for the Sox. If I wanted to push it I could throw Bronson Arroyo in the rotation, but by the time this team would actually be realistic Arroyo would be over 30; not exactly a youngun anymore.

As far as the lineup goes:

1) Dustin Pedroia (Projected VORP of 31.7 for 2005)
2) Kevin Youkilis (.271/.383/.415 PECOTA projection for 2005)
3) Brandon Moss (hit .422 .339 in Augusta last year for a EqBA of .294...his .422 in Sarasota was a .373 EqBA)
4) Ian Bladergroen (.293/.336/.496 EqBA/EqOBP/EqSLG in the Sally League last year)
5) Hanley Ramirez (Excellent defensive player; will a switch to CF increase his value as a Sox?)
6) David Murphy (PECOTA isn't optimistic after two-subpar minor league campaigns: .231/.289/.327)
7) Chris Durbin (BP says defense is the key to his value, and there is nothing wrong with that if you hit a little)
8) Kenny Perez (Pressure from below after failing to develop more power or patience)
9) Kelly Shoppach (Shoppach probably curses the Varitek contract daily at this point).

Kenny Perez is here because I was only talking about Double-A and Triple-A players; Luis Soto is a talented shortstop prospect who will spend time in the lower levels of the minors this year.

You take the core of this team: Pedroia-Youkilis-Moss-Bladergroen-Ramirez and fill in the rest with free agents or guys like Durbin and Shoppach who are available and have strengths, and you will have yourself a pretty good team. Add a mix and match rotation from the 7 starters listed above and you are good to go.

Let's take a look at the core hitters projected performances using the weighted mean VORP scores:

2005
Pedroia: 31.7
Youkilis: 18.1
Moss: 90th percentile of 18.6...not his time yet. Another season and Moss' score should greatly improve.
Bladergroen: 9.6
Ramirez: 6.9
Durbin: 0.0 VORP at 75th percentile, 9.0 at 90th.

2006
Pedroia: 37.9
Youkilis: 12.1
Moss: 3.6
Bladergroen: 10.5
Ramirez: 10.0
Durbin: 4.9

Serious improvement for Durbin, Ramirez, and Moss, with additional improvement from Pedroia.

2007
Pedroia: 44.1
Youkilis: 15.4
Moss: 5.3
Bladergroen: 14.4
Ramirez: 13.2
Durbin: 5.3


The reason these numbers remain so low (besides Pedroia) is because players like Moss and Bladergroen had their breakout seasons last year and PECOTA deals with the past three seasons to determine worth. If Moss and Bladergroen are able to build on the previous years success you will see great improvement in the VORP department. Pedroia's projection makes me giddy, even if it is based on a small sample size. It would be great to see him live up to it, even if I'm not so sure he will. Just know I'll buy a shirt the day they are avaible just incase. Durbin's VORP is low since most of his value is tied up in his defense, but if he can play above replacement level with great outfield defense it would be a plus, unless of course another Sox outfield prospect takes the spot more effectively. I can always check in on performance again next year to see what improvements have been made and link to this article.

As for the pitchers VORP:

2005
Papelbon: 13.5
Lester: 7.8
Alvarez: 14.4
Pauley: No PECOTA Card
Delcarmen: No PECOTA Card
Zink: 1.7
Sanchez: 15.8

2006
Papelbon: 11.0
Lester: 5.9
Alvarez: 10.3
Zink: 2.5
Sanchez: 12.0


2007
Papelbon: 12.4
Lester: 7.9
Alvarez: 10.0
Zink: 0.9
Sanchez: 10.4


Pitcher projections are kind of iffy, mostly because many pitchers breakout late, and these guys are all youngsters, and also because of TNSTAAP. As far as improving VORP, the sample size/playing time rules apply here as well as they do for the hitters.

Charlie Zink's VORP is so low across the board because he is a knuckleballer. He was on Baseball Prospectus 2004 Top 50 Prospects List, but got hammered in the minors. As he learns to better use his knuckler (which hopefully he will) you can expect to see a higher VORP out of him. Tim Wakefield went from being a rookie with lots of potential to released to Cy Young candidate to rotation filler to bullpen help to important cog in the rotation to #4 starter...and he has been throwing the knuckler for a lot longer than Zink. To put it bluntly, knuckleballers can be extremely erratic, and no one season should be used against Zink. With time he should improve just from repetition. The future looks bright for the Red Sox, and with Theo Esptein snagging low-cost high-reward free agent deals as well as opening the purse strings combined with the homegrown talent Boston has so sorely missed, they may be a force to be reckoned with for many years to come. Or atleast there is improvement, because it isn't Brian Rose. Not that the Sox have had trouble developing pitching during the entire Duquette Regime (Pavano, Armas, and Ohka are all good starting pitchers) but they never kept any of them. Hopefully that changes with the new guys.


 

That...is sexy. Posted by Hello

Friday, April 08, 2005

 

The Ray Lankford Wing of the Hall of Fame

The Ray Lankford Wing of the Hall of Fame is a place for the "no real shot at the Hall of Fame, but a great career nonetheless" players, like Lankford. This was inspired by Lankford's entry in the Baseball Prospectus 2005 book, and many individuals and books helped make this project of mine come to a close:




And with that, here are the members of the Ray Lankford Wing of the Hall of Fame, updated every time there is a new inductee:

Catchers
Mickey Tettleton, C, 184 WS, 50.3 JAWS
Wally Schang, C 245 WS, 48.8 JAWS
Darrell Porter, C 222 WS, 59.35 JAWS
Jim Sundberg, C 200 WS, 59.15 JAWS
Fred Tenney, C 249 WS, 50.75 JAWS
Bob Boone, C 210 WS, 51.55 JAWS
Sherm Lollar, C 209 WS, 51.55 JAWS
Gene Tenace, C 231 WS, 57.15 JAWS
Thurman Munson, 206 WS, 60.0 JAWS
Joe Torre, C 315 WS, 71.45 JAWS
Bill Freehan, C 267 WS, 58.3 JAWS
Elston Howard, C 203 WS, 51.2 JAWS
Lance Parrish, C 248 WS, 68.1 JAWS
Ted Simmons, C 315 WS, 70.85 JAWS

First Base
Mo Vaughn, 1B/DH, 200 WS, 49.15 JAWS
Don Mattingly, 1B 263 WS, 71.55 JAWS
Cecil Cooper, 1B, 241 WS, 52.4 JAWS
George Scott, 1B 216 WS, 50.75 JAWS
Keith Hernandez, 1B 311 WS, 69.8 JAWS
Harry Stovey, 1B 265 WS, 50.65 JAWS
Gil Hodges, 1B 263 WS, 58.6 JAWS
Wally Joyner, 1B 253 WS, 52.3 JAWS
Steve Garvey, 1B 279 WS, 60.65 JAWS
Bill Buckner, 1B 226 WS, 41.3 JAWS
Fred McGriff, 1B 341 WS, 70.45 JAWS
Mike Hargrove, 1B 212 WS, 49 JAWS
Boog Powell, 1B 282 WS, 48 JAWS
Ed Konetchy, 1B 287 WS, 52.35 JAWS
Mark Grace, 1B 294 WS, 62.2 JAWS
Joe Judge, 1B 270 WS, 46.55 JAWS
Jake Daubert, 1B 263 WS, 49.45 JAWS
Will Clark, 1B 331 WS, 72.95 JAWS
Mickey Vernon, 1B 296 WS 53.65 JAWS
Dolph Camilli, 1B 224 WS, 57.65 JAWS
Norm Cash, 1B 315 WS, 68.6 JAWS
Dick Allen, 1B 342 WS, 68.15 JAWS
Andres Galarraga, 1B 251 WS, 41.7 JAWS
Kent Hrbek, 1B 230 WS, 57.7 JAWS
Ron Fairly, 1B 269 WS, 50.6 JAWS
Bill White, 1B 209 WS, 50.3 JAWS

Second Base
Frank White, 2B, 211 WS, 54.9 JAWS
Buddy Myer, 2B 258 WS, 49.55 JAWS

Bobby Grich, 2B 329 WS, 81.4 JAWS
Willie Randolph, 2B 312 WS, 72.2 JAWS
Joe Gordon, 2B 242 WS, 63.2 JAWS
Dick McAuliffe, 2B 241 WS, 44.85 JAWS
Lou Whitaker, 2B 351 WS, 78.75 JAWS
Larry Doyle, 2B 289 WS, 42.25 JAWS
Davey Lopes, 2B 240 WS, 51.6 JAWS
Cupid Childs, 2B 238 WS, 53.35 JAWS
Del Pratt, 2B 242 WS, 52.85 JAWS
Hardy Richardson, 230 WS, 54.05 JAWS
Buddy Myer, 2B 258 WS, 49.55 JAWS
Joe Gordon, 2B 242 WS, 63.2 JAWS
Chuck Knoblauch, 2B 231 WS, 58.6 JAWS
Lonny Frey, 2B 208 WS, 52.85 JAWS

Third Base
Todd Zeile, 3B, 217 WS, 43.35 JAWS
Bob Elliot, 3B 287 WS, 62.25 JAWS
Matt Williams, 3B 241 WS, 59.35 JAWS
Tim Wallach, 3B 248 WS, 60.85 JAWS
Sal Bando, 3B 283 WS, 55.75 JAWS
Robin Ventura, 3B 266 WS, 71.95 JAWS
Ken Boyer, 3B 279 WS, 70.05
Gary Gaetti, 3B 249 WS, 58.75 JAWS
Eddie Yost, 3B 267 WS, 47.45 JAWS
Ken Caminiti, 3B 242 WS, 59.25 JAWS
Graig Nettles, 3B 321 WS, 69.8 JAWS
Deacon White, 3B 180 WS, 61.15 JAWS
Harlond Clift, 3B 216 WS, 58.35 JAWS
Darrell Evans, 3B 363 WS, 75.55 JAWS
Deacon White, 3B 190 WS, 61.15 JAWS
Toby Harrah, 3B 287 WS, 59.1 JAWS
Bobby Bonilla, 3B 267 WS, 59.65 JAWS
Stan Hack, 3B 316 WS, 65.85 JAWS
Jimmy Williams, 3B 207 WS, 49.75 JAWS
Carney Lansford, 3B 244 WS, 51.3 JAWS
Ron Santo, 3B 324 WS, 84.25 JAWS
Heinie Groh, 3B 272 WS, 61.25 JAWS
Travis Fryman, 3B 199 WS, 52.55 JAWS
Buddy Bell, 3B 301 WS, 73.75 JAWS
Ron Cey, 3B 280 WS, 65.45 JAWS
Lave Cross, 3B 278 WS, 53.3 JAWS
Larry Gardner, 3B 258 WS, 45.2 JAWS
Bill Madlock, 3B 242 WS, 45.25 JAWS
Don Money, 3B 197 WS, 47.2 JAWS

Shortstop
Jim Fregosi, SS, 261 WS, 53.25 JAWS
Bert Campaneris, SS 280 WS, 61.4 JAWS
Dave Concepcion, SS 269 Win Shares, 69 JAWS
Jack Glasscock, SS 261 WS, 64.1 JAWS
Bill Dahlen, SS 394 WS, 79.15 JAWS
Art Fletcher, SS 218 WS, 49.7 JAWS
Dick Bartell, SS 252 WS, 63.65 JAWS
Alan Trammell, SS 318 WS, 81.3 JAWS
Maury Wills, SS 253 WS, 54.9 JAWS
Jay Bell, SS 245 WS, 62.4 JAWS
Tony Fernandez, SS 280 WS, 70.25 JAWS
Dave Bancroft, SS 269 WS, 53.35 JAWS
Dick Groat, SS 225 WS, 55.2 JAWS
Hughie Jennings, SS 214 WS, 58.85 JAWS
Chris Speier, SS 206 WS, 55.4 JAWS
Vern Stephens, SS 265 WS, 59.3 JAWS

Left Field
Ray Lankford, LF, 227 WS, 52 JAWS
Roy White, LF 263 WS, 59.85 JAWS
Greg Luzinski, LF 247 WS, 44.65 JAWS
Jim Rice, LF 282 WS, 63.15 JAWS
Joe Jackson, LF 294 WS, 55.6 JAWS
George Foster, LF 269 WS, 62.9 JAWS
Jose Cruz Sr., LF 313 WS, 63.75 JAWS
Frank Howard, LF 297 WS, 55.6 JAWS
Brian Downing, LF 298 WS, 62.75 JAWS
Minnie Minoso, LF 283 WS, 59.3 JAWS
Sherry Magee, LF 354 WS, 56.05 JAWS
Charlie Keller, LF 218 WS, 55.5 JAWS
Albert Belle, LF 243 WS, 69.75 JAWS
Kirk Gibson, LF 218 WS, 52.5 JAWS
Joe Carter, LF 240 WS, 47.65 JAWS
Dusty Baker, LF 245 WS, 52.85 JAWS
Tony Phillips, LF 268 WS, 69.85 JAWS
George Burns, LF 290 WS, 54.5 JAWS
Augie Galan, LF 263 WS, 55.25 JAWS
Bob Johnson, LF 287 WS, 66.4 JAWS
Jimmy Sheckard, LF 339 WS, 59.85 JAWS
Bobby Veach, LF 265 WS, 56.35 JAWS

Center Field
Ellis Burks, CF, 260 WS, 55.7 JAWS
Willie Davis, CF 322 WS, 65.2 JAWS
Brett Butler, CF 295 WS, 74.14 JAWS
Andy Van Slyke, CF 231 WS, 59.15 JAWS
George Van Haltren, CF 344 WS, 56.66 JAWS
Jimmy Wynn, CF 305 WS, 63.2 JAWS
Brady Anderson, CF 214 WS, 56.4 JAWS
Fred Lynn, CF 280 WS, 64.95 JAWS
Devon White, CF 207 WS, 57.4 JAWS
Reggie Smith, CF 325 WS, 61.65 JAWS
Cesar Cedeno, CF 296 WS, 64.7 JAWS
Amos Otis, CF 286 WS, 60.3 JAWS
Lenny Dykstra, CF 201 WS, 51 JAWS (VOTED IN)
Curt Flood, CF 221 WS, 55.8 JAWS
Roy Thomas, CF 260 WS, 52.7 JAWS
Dom Dimaggio, CF 220 WS, 57.7 JAWS
George Gore, CF 250 WS, 63.05 JAWS
George Grantham, CF 245 WS, 55.6 JAWS
Paul Hines, CF 249 WS, 61.65 JAWS
Fielder Jones, CF 290 WS, 59.35 JAWS
Tommy Leach, CF 328 WS, 52.6 JAWS
Chet Lemon, CF 265 WS, 64.7 JAWS
Al Oliver, CF 305 WS, 55.65 JAWS
Vada Pinson, CF 321 WS, 62.5 JAWS
Jimmy Ryan, CF 316 WS, 57.3 JAWS
Willie Wilson, CF 237 WS, 55.4 JAWS

Right Field
Eric Davis, RF, 224 WS, 55.2 JAWS
Bobby Bonds, RF 302 WS, 66.25 JAWS
Ken Griffey Sr., RF 259 WS, 48.8 JAWS
Roger Maris, RF 223 WS, 44.35 JAWS
Rocky Colavito, RF 273 WS, 57.85 JAWS
Mike Tiernan, RF 251 WS, 47.45 JAWS
Rusty Staub, RF 358 WS, 67.45 JAWS
Babe Herman, RF 232 WS, 50.9 JAWS
Jack Clark, RF 316 WS, 59.2 JAWS
David Justice, RF 233 WS, 49.2 JAWS
Darryl Strawberry, RF 252 WS, 53.85 JAWS
Dwight Evans, RF 347 WS, 77.5 JAWS
Andre Dawson, RF 340 WS, 71.5 JAWS
Paul O’Neill, RF 259 WS, 67.7 JAWS
Pedro Guerrero, RF 246 WS, 50.8 JAWS
Tony Oliva, RF 245 WS, 50.95 JAWS
Johnny Callison, RF 241 WS, 55.65 JAWS
Felipe Alou, RF 241 WS, 45.95 JAWS
Bobby Murcer, RF 277 WS, 52.9 JAWS
George Hendrick, RF 237 WS, 51.25 JAWS
Bill Nicholson, RF 223 WS, 56.55 JAWS
Dave Parker, RF 327 WS, 60.35 JAWS
Ken Singleton, RF 302 WS, 65.45 JAWS
Dixie Walker, RF 278 WS, 52.55 JAWS

Designated Hitters
Hal McRae, DH, 230 WS, 46.7 JAWS
Don Baylor, DH 262 WS, 52.9 JAWS
Harold Baines, DH 307 WS, 65.75 JAWS
Jose Canseco, DH 272 WS, 61.2 JAWS
Chili Davis, DH 285 WS, 57.4 JAWS

Starting Pitchers
Kevin Appier, SP 189 WS, 66.2 JAWS
Vida Blue, SP 202 WS, 55.05 JAWS
Bert Blyleven, SP 339 WS, 91 JAWS
Harry Brecheen, SP 173 WS, 50.55 JAWS
Ted Breitenstein, SP 212 WS, 51.9 JAWS
Tommy Bridges, SP 225 WS, 54.35 JAWS
Lew Burdette, SP 178 WS, 50.5 JAWS
Tom Candiotti, SP 158 WS, 52.15 JAWS
Eddie Cicotte, SP 247 WS, 53.5 JAWS
David Cone, SP 205 WS, 62.4 JAWS
Danny Darwin, SP 182 WS, 54.5 JAWS
Paul Derringer, SP 231 WS, 54.3 JAWS
Murry Dickson, SP 204 WS, 62.45 JAWS
Wes Ferrell, SP 233 WS, 62.2 JAWS
Chuck Finley, SP 213 WS, 67.15 JAWS
Larry French, SP 218 WS, 50.05 JAWS
Bob Friend, SP 207 WS, 61.15 JAWS
Ned Garver, SP 166 WS, 59.3 JAWS
Dwight Gooden, SP 187 WS, 59.15 JAWS
Mark Gubicza, SP 141 WS, 52.35 JAWS
Ron Guidry, SP 174 WS, 53.5 JAWS
Mel Harder, SP 234 WS, 56.55 JAWS
Orel Hershiser, SP 210 WS, 66.4 JAWS
Charlie Hough, SP 233 WS, 65.15 JAWS
Larry Jackson, SP 225 WS, 61.9 JAWS
Tommy John, SP 289 WS, 69.2 JAWS
Jim Kaat, SP 268 WS, 63.55 JAWS
Jimmy Key, SP 188 WS, 61.5 JAWS
Jerry Koosman, SP 240 WS, 57.65 JAWS
Mark Langston, SP 184 WS, 60.1 JAWS
Dutch Leonard, SP 233 WS, 61.7 JAWS
Mickey Lolich, SP 224 WS, 56.35 JAWS
Red Lucas, SP 194 WS, 50.75 JAWS
Dolf Luque, SP 241 WS, 50.15 JAWS
Dennis Martinez, SP 233 WS, 65.1 JAWS
Carl Mays, SP 256 WS, 51.1 JAWS
Jack Morris, SP 225 WS, 62.85 JAWS
Don Newcombe, SP 176 WS, 50.7 JAWS
Bobo Newsom, SP 237 WS, 56.9 JAWS
Claude Osteen, SP 201 WS, 54.3 JAWS
Camilo Pascual, SP 175 WS, 56.15 JAWS
Claude Passeau, SP 189 WS, 57.7 JAWS
Jim Perry, SP 205 WS, 51.8 JAWS
Billy Pierce, SP 248 WS, 62.9 JAWS
Jack Quinn, SP 287 WS, 52.45 JAWS
Rick Reuschel, SP 240 WS, 74.55 JAWS
Steve Rogers, SP 182 WS, 51.05 JAWS
Eddie Rommel, SP 209 WS, 53.6 JAWS
Nap Rucker, SP 177 WS, 52.05 JAWS
Bret Saberhagen, SP 193 WS, 66.25 JAWS
Urban Shocker, SP 225 WS, 57.5 JAWS
Curt Simmons, SP 210 WS, 52.35 JAWS
Dave Stieb, SP 210 WS, 67.25 JAWS
Frank Tanana, SP 241 WS, 74.1 JAWS
Luis Tiant, SP 256 WS, 65.9 JAWS
Virgil Trucks, SP 198 WS, 50.8 JAWS
George Uhle, SP 231 WS, 51.95 JAWS
Fernando Valenzuela, SP 168 WS, 54.15 JAWS
Frank Viola, SP 187 WS, 59.6 JAWS
Bucky Walters, SP 251 WS, 66.7 JAWS
Lon Warneke, SP 220 WS, 56.85 JAWS
Bob Welch, SP 188 WS, 54.2 JAWS
Wilbur Wood, SP 190 WS, 60.5 JAWS

Relief Pitchers
Rick Aguilera, RP 147 WS, 45.5 JAWS
Steve Bedrosian, RP 119 WS, 34.35 JAWS
Dave Giusti, RP 118 WS, 34.3 JAWS
Goose Gossage, RP 223 WS, 59.45 JAWS
Tom Henke, RP 140 WS, 41.4 JAWS
Mike Henneman, RP 98 WS, 33.55 JAWS
Willie Hernandez, RP 109 WS, 35.75 JAWS
Mike Jackson, RP 124 WS, 36.6 JAWS
Mike Marshall, RP 146 WS, 47.65 JAWS
Tug McGraw, RP 158 WS, 40.7 JAWS
Stu Miller, RP 154 WS, 44.5 JAWS
Greg Minton, RP 111 WS, 35.35 JAWS
Jeff Montgomery, RP 134 WS, 45.3 JAWS
Robb Nenn, Rp 120 WS, 41.85 JAWS
Gregg Olson, RP 98 WS, 35.3 JAWS
Jesse Orosco, RP 140 WS, 44.45 JAWS
Ron Perranoski, RP 125 WS, 35.55 JAWS
Dan Plesac, RP 113 WS, 36.15 JAWS
Dan Quisenberry, RP 157 WS, 47.1 JAWS
Dick Radatz, RP 84 WS, 33.55 JAWS
Jeff Reardon, RP 157 WS, 41.9 JAWS
Lee Smith, RP 198 WS, 56.15 JAWS
Bob Stanley, RP 149 WS, 46.3 JAWS
Bruce Sutter, RP 168 WS, 44.4 JAWS
Kent Tekulve, RP 159 WS, 46.6 JAWS

John Wetteland, RP 130 WS, 43.65 JAWS

Here are the links for posts regarding the RLWHF (just know the first few reached their sell by date during the project itself):


 

Some Things Just Drive Me Crazy

Sorry I did not post yesterday, I was loaded with schoolwork prior to class and didn't get the opportunity. Before I get going today, I'd like to recommend this article at The Hardball Times by John Brattain for everyone reading today. I plan on running this type of exercise with a few players soon, possibly Tim Raines since his time is coming soon (even though we know he's HOF caliber, we are not sure if the voters will notice) and maybe a few guys still playing today who have a HOF caliber peak or are in the midst of one.

How can some clubs and managers still not understand the value of on-base percentage? Honestly, it boggles the mind. Here is the latest example: Adam Everett is leading off in Houston. Adam Everett, owner of a .315 career OBP; Adam Everett, who last year had 17 walks in almost 400 at-bats. Baseball Prospectus says the league OBP in the NL was .329, and Baseball-Reference says it was .341, but either way, Everett is far from it. Baseball-References' definition for lgOBP is "league's on-base percentage (pitchers removed) with the same home field." so that has something to do with the difference, getting rid of all of the auto-outs. Either way, Everett is not qualified to lead off. Garner's reasoning, broken down, is that 1) Everett is fast and 2) Biggio is a better hitter...all right. Let's break that down. Everett is fast, so Garner assumes Everett will steal bases (of course that hinger on his being on base). Everett had all of 13 steals (with only 2 caught stealing, at least he has a great percentage at 87%) in his in 485 plate appearances...so we could say he'll steal roughly 20 bases give or take a couple in a full season. Are those 20 steals worth having your leadoff hitter get on base only 32% of the time? Probably not...and this is my thinking:

If Everett, who does steal bases at a good percentage, although not many of them, was going to be used in the offense as a speed weapon, the best place for him is NOT the leadoff spot. Rather it would be the 8th spot. If you are a team that is going to continue to play small ball and steal bases while bunting, then you should let your stolen base "threat" Everett bat in the 8 hole. Why? Well, the pitcher is coming up after him correct? Everett could get on base (31-32% of the time anyways) and the pitcher could try to bunt him over after a steal of second, or Everett could just get a good jump on the bunt. Instead of trying to force runs where runs would be created with a correctly setup top of the order (Biggio-Lane or something to that effect), why not try to make runs where runs don't happen at the bottom of the order? Also, when you pinch hit for the pitcher later in the game, this would help setup the hit and run more effectively, with the speedy Everett on base. I am not saying this is the optimal plan to end all plans, but for a team like Houston who has lost a great deal of offense, it is a good idea I believe. Houston cannot afford to waste outs at the top of the lineup, and would be much better served trying to create runs down at the traditional black hole at the bottom of the order rather than making two separate ones. Now this is not to say that you should bunt early on in the game just because Everett is on first and the pitcher is up. Teams do not correctly use the small ball skills to score runs, as they kill rallies before they even have a chance to get going by wasting outs and the like. Later in the game where one run is all you need then it is ok to play some small ball and work the runners over; early on just because you want to squeeze a run in for the sake of a run is not the time to do it.

Here is another thought concerning this situation: are pitchers more prone to hitting groundballs than flyballs, making the steal more valuable in order to avoid the double play? We will look solely at Houston's pitchers for now, in order to avoid generalizing based on a small sample size. This way we can focus on this one scenario regarding Everett in order to make our decision, and maybe at some point come back to this as a whole. I will focus on the starting pitchers as well, just because they pitch and hit the most.

2004 GB/FB Ratio; GIDP
Roy Oswalt: 37/11 = 3.36; 1 GIDP
Roger Clemens: 23/9 = 2.56; 2 GIDP
Andy Pettitte: 9/5 = 1.80; 1 GIDP
Brandon Backe: 5/2 = 2.50; 0 GIDP
Brandon Duckworth: N/A

2003 GB/FB Ratio; GIDP
Roy Oswalt: 16/6 = 2.67; 0 GIDP
Roger Clemens: N/A (AL)
Andy Pettitte: N/A (AL)
Brandon Backe: N/A (AL)
Brandon Duckworth: 13/3 = 4.33; 1 GIDP

It should be noted that some of the career rates are higher than these few seasonal stats, but the GIDP's are scarce. This is a tough analysis considering Clemens and Pettitte spent their whole careers in the AL, and Backe has not even had much of a career yet.

Considering the ratio of groundballs to flyballs here, we can assume that there were many at-bats with no one on base or no one on first since there are an extremely low number of GIDP's here, especially for guys who do not run out groundballs hard in order to retain stamina. We can check their at-bats with runners on base though just to make sure, but sadly I can't seem to find them anywhere. If someone knows where to find this information please tell me.

Looking to drum up some support from people who are smarter than I, I stumbled across this statement by Joe Sheehan from BP in early 2004:

"The batter at the plate is much more likely to score the runner from second than he is from first. Teams will often use their best base stealers at the top of the lineup, even players with low on-base percentages, in front of their most powerful batters. In fact, they should be using those players lower in the lineup, in front of their least powerful hitters. Risking an out to advance from first base to second base is much more important when the guy at the plate can't get the runner home from first base."

Bingo. Everett was born to hit in the 7th or 8th spot (I say seventh because it just dawned on me that Brad Ausmus also plays for this team, creating a vacuum of offensive suckitude in spots 7-9), and the pitchers were born to get out behind him trying to advance him or simply because of their inability to do anything but. The leadoff spot is not for Everett or his ilk in the major leagues, but who should leadoff for Houston? Let's look at their starting 8:

C - Brad Ausmus (No..never.)
1B: Jeff Bagwell
2B: Craig Biggio (the traditional pick)
3B: Morgan Ensberg/Mike Lamb
SS: Adam Everett (you know my thoughts)
LF: Luke Scott
CF: Willy Tavares
RF: Jason Lane

Biggio's OBP dropped to .337 last year, but he had an increase in power. Whether the power spike sticks around to offset the drop in OBP is the real question surrounding his performance. An interesting little piece of information: Willy Taveras had a .402 OBP in 2004 in the minors, which came out to an EqOBP of .355. BP claims he needs more seasoning in Triple-A before coming to the majors, but also says that they need him to get Biggio out of center. Well he did, and he is here minus the seasoning, but if he is capable of fulfilling his PECOTA projected stats for 2005 (.252/.330/.334) then he would be a better choice than Everett even before he starts to improve. Even if he regresses to his 2003 Eq form, the line was .261/.343/.341...better than Everett once again. Not to mention he has stolen 54, 57, and 55 bases in the last three minor league seasons. Of course, putting Taveras in the #1 spot would go against everything I have said thus far concerning putting your fast guys in front of the lightweights. But with the number of lightweights Houston has, maybe this is a necessary evil. Are you going to put Adam Everett in the 6th spot, followed by light hitting (understatement alert) Brad Ausmus, and follow it up with Taveras in the 8th spot to steal in front of the pitcher? That would not be the best idea, because it would stretch an already thin offense. Maybe they should stack the deck up front with Taveras and Biggio and try and play small ball at the back end with Everett and the pitcher or Everett and Ausmus. Ausmus' GB/FB ratio by the way is not as large as the pitchers (career 1.49), but his double play rate (probably the result of being an aging catcher) is large: 13, 30(!), 8, and 13 respectively since 2001. Maybe the lineup should look like this:

1) Taveras
2) Biggio
3) Bagwell
4) Berkman
5) Lane
6) Ensberg/Lamb
7) Everett
8) Ausmus
9) Pitcher

Granted, you are giving up on the 8-9 spots, but you have to work with what you have, and making Everett more valuable out of the 7 spot should be a lot less damaging than what they plan to do with the leadoff spot. Of course, Mike Lamb does sport a .340 career OBP (.356 in Houston last year, to go along with 14 homeruns in 278 AB) if Morgan Ensberg doesn't pan out again.

One last thing. Joe Sheehan also said that the worth of a man on first in runs with 0-1-2 outs is 0.9116, 0.5348 and 0.2349 respectively. If the runner goes to second, those numbers go up to 1.1811, 0.7125, and 0.3407. For a guy like Ausmus, who cannot drive a guy in from first without some help most of the time, having Everett go to second on a steal (remember the 87% success rate, with a career rate of 89%) would increase Ausmus' chances of driving in a run, thus bringing up his value slightly. Anything that can make Ausmus and Everett more valuable offensively, even slightly, would be a huge boost for a Houston team that all of a sudden lacks true multiple threats.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

 

Should Some Lineups be Tweaked Already?

Due to spring training samples, or a reluctance to go with youth at a certain position, there are many position battles that I would not consider finished even though the season has started. I'll explain my take on these in detail, as well as throw a few hypothetical ones in there for kicks at some point.

Let's start off with Mark Ellis versus Keith Ginter in Oakland for the second base job. Ellis is the superior defended, but Ginter is the superior bat. How many runs would each be worth then, since defensive and offensive performance have to be put together to define their true value. Using Marginal Lineup Value Rate (MLVr) we can see the difference between the two offensively. MLVr puts the player into a lineup along with 8 league average hitters to determine how much of an effect this one player would have on runs scored. A league average hitter's MLVr would be 0.00. Keith Ginter's 2004 MLVr was .101, and Mark Ellis' was not available due to his missed time last year. So obviously we can see Ginter would win using his 2004 MLVr on the strength of his bat alone, but we want to project the future, so let's take a look at their PECOTA Projections. Ginter projects, as a weighted mean, to a .005 MLVr; a huge dropoff from 2004, but that probably has to do with his rising strikeout and falling walk rates, and the fact that to be above average he needs to slug homeruns (his 90th percentile projection has 21 homeruns and an MLVr of .181). Ellis', on the other hand, only MLVr on the positive side of the spectrum is at his 90th percentile projection, and is .096; less than what we could expect from a 2004 Ginter repeat (of course, Ginter may not repeat 2004 unless he corrects those falling rates).

I'm using Keith Woolner's formula found on the BP Statistic Glossary, which can be found here if your interested. You plug the hitter into the #5 spot in the lineup, because they are hypothetically supposed to get 1/9 of the total plate appearances; being in the middle makes this closer to the truth in the formula.

League Average = .270/.340/.440

League Average Runs and Runs Per Game: 847 runs, 5.2258 runs per game.
That figure for some reason seems rather high, but I'll go with it for now since this will all be relative. If someones knows what might be the matter, please comment. Even if whats the matter is my head isn't on straight today.

Team with Keith Ginter (weighted mean projection): 846 runs, 5.2230 per game (-.0028 from League Team).

Team with Mark Ellis (weighted mean projection): 833 runs, 5.1420 per game (-.1018 from League Team)

It was known Ginter was the better bat, but now we see by exactly how much over the course of a season: 13 runs if they both play to their weighted mean projection. How about their gloves though? Ginter projects to -8 Runs Above Average at second base, while Ellis projects to -1 Runs Above Average. That would make Ginter's run contribution over Ellis 6; a slim margin. Now to make things more confusing, the Oakland Athletics defensive ratings are different than BP's, and they view Ellis as a superior defensive second basemen. So now it depends on who you believe: BP or Billy Beane. Ginter is only 6 runs better than Ellis total if you use the BP method, so maybe trying Ellis out and hoping for increased plate production and the A's defensive ratings is worth a shot. If the A's are right, the slim 6 run margin disapears quickly and Ellis is clearly the superior player. This is how the Athletics are thinking at the moment, and they also like Ginter's ability to play third base (he's no Eric Chavez over there defensively, but he was at -1 Runs Above Average in 40 games from 04'). So after doing this, I guess I would take Ellis even though Ginter seems to provide more to the lineup based on his positional flexibility, power coming off the bench, and the fact that Ellis very well maybe an excellent defender depending on who you listen to.

On to the next roster battle of importance: Russell Branyan versus Wes Helms in Milwaukee. They are platooning, with Branyan getting the bulk of at bats against righthanders. Without the same calculations as last time, because you will see they are absolutely unnecessary. Russ Branyan's projected MLVr is .101, with Wes Helms at -.063. Obviously this won't be as close as the Ginter/Ellis battle, and even when you throw in defensive ratings Branyan is the superior, with a -5 Runs Above Average at third against Helms' -7. For a few interesting numbers, Branyan's Secondary Average (SecA) from 2004 was .424 (considering Secondary Average can be compared to regular average in order to determine effectiveness, you should all be bowing to the leader of the Three True Outcomes) and his Isolated Power (IsoP) was an impressive .291. He also had a .280 EqA...so he is the opposite of Alex Sanchez, owner of an extremely empty batting average.

Here's the kicker though: Helm's batted .306/.398/.444 against southpaws last year, while Branyan hit .167/.212/.267. Helm's 3 year splits against lefties (including a horrid 2002 that looks kind of like Branyan's 2004 against lefties) are .274/.365/.467. That is pretty good for a platoon, considering Branyan's three year splits of .227/.333/.465 versus righties (with 34 homers in 571 at bats, to go along with 90 (!!!!) walks). Branyan isn't some Tony Batista wannabe; he is a valuable player waiting for a starting job, and even if the strikeouts drive the fans crazy the souveniers will more than make up for it. Platooning Branyan and Helm's is a very smooth move by Doug Melvin and manager Ned Yost, as they now have a third basemen (when combined) that should hit well above league average and provide great production from a traditionally weak hitting position (try and remember Joe Randa and Bill Mueller and others man the hot corner as well as Scott Rolen and Alex Rodriguez; not everyone is a serious bopper.) Speaking of platoons...

Calvin Pickering deserves to be the starting DH for the Royals...but does Ken Harvey deserve to platoon? The Royals are already platooning at both outfield corners, and manning three platoons is difficult, so I think they may be banking on Pickering learning to hit lefties. Hopefully this turns out more like Eric Chavez 2004 (.306/.412/.481 after years of struggles) than Trot Nixon's career (.220/.293/.348 versus southpaws) as far as hitting lefties goes, if not this year than maybe next. Harvey's three year splits against lefties: .306/.347/.489 are much better than his righty numbers over the same time (.263/.316/.382). Pickering has hit .214/.250/.310 against lefties over the same time, while smashing righties for .263/.378/.600(!). Obviously this team could use another platoon split in order to hit better, but with the two platoons in the outfield corners (Terrence Long and Eli Marrero in left, while Matt Stairs and Emil Brown platoon in right) it makes it difficult, unless you carry 11 pitchers. Why any team is carrying 12 pitchers is beyond me, unless your the Rockies, but that is a whole different matter I can address another time. If the Royals would carry 11 pitchers then they would have 3 platoons and good production out of three controlled environments. Maybe later in the year when Pickering struggles against lefties than "Grimace" can come up from Omaha to lefty mash. By then maybe one of the outfield platoons will be unnecessary, or the DH platoon would just have more benefit. I'm hoping for it, because Harvey does need to be used in the role he is suited for, and as much as I love Pickering on the roster Harvey's place is not in AAA.

Note: Right before I went to publish this article, I saw this on ESPN.com. Hopefully nothing is seriously wrong with Tito and he'll be back soon; make sure you send some good vibes out Tito's way.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

 

I've Got It!

With my partner Matt Kizner taking over the ranting portion of the website, I have decided that I am going to lean heavily on statistical articles for awhile and see how it turns out. That way, the baseball fan who does not always want to see numbers alone has something to read as well as the stathead that hides in each and every one of you...except Buster Olney.

Matt and I will do our best to both post daily, and if that is not possible, at least intertwine our posts in order to give you something to read everyday. I just might have to work a bit longer on my articles considering the statistical nature of them. This is being done for a reason, which might be explained in the future.

You will still see the same sarcasm and anti-whoever sentiment from me, but I'll use stats often and sometimes try to find new ways of thinking about things...I did not say I would invent a new stat or stats, but atleast apply them usefully (I hope).

This is not really a shift in direction for the site, but more a shakeup for which of us writers is doing what in order to give both of us a feel for specifics rather than banking on random topics. As hard as it may be to believe, it is much easier to write in the offseason than in-season, but we will do our best to keep you entertained on all levels. I feel I need a sense of structure, especially since I am splitting time at Heads/Tails as well as Baseball Rants.

Thank you for reading, and please come back often!

-Marc Normandin

 

Obligatory Rantings

As part of my new, what I intend to be weekly columns, I'm going to be filling the role of the obligatory ranter. A lot of things happen over the week, and I'm going to take the time to address them here in as long winded and caustically sardonic fashion as humanly possible.

Now, not to get off on a rant, but am I the only one sick of the apocalypse talks after 2 losses to the Yankees? I didn't even want to get out of bed on Monday morning for fear of reading headlines like "Who's your daddy, and 2004: Long gone". It was 2 freaking games, both hinging on just one player on either side. Arguably, Matsui won the first game more than David Wells lost it (robbing the home run and hitting a homerun), and he won the second game with 3 hits and another homerun, regardless of Jeter's walkoff. So I'm not crying the end of the world because Wells looked shaky, and Johnson looked good, or because Pavano was consistent, and Clement got no run support.

With that said, I appreciate Edgar Renteria doing his best to make me look as intelligent as possible for saying he was a bad pickup. 2 errors that arguably cost the Red Sox the game, 0 for I believe 8 so far in Yankee Stadium. When you come to Boston, you're greatness is measured in 2 ways. How well you perform, and how well you perform against the Yankees. Booting balls and leaving runners on base is a surefire way to get the Boston media to love you. Love nomar, hate nomar, he was there when you needed him.

And what's with Francona leaving in Trot Nixon to face Mike Stanton. We know Trot can't hit lefties to save his life, it's why you started Jay Payton yesterday, so why would he be able to do it with 1st and 3rd and the game on the line? Why not pinch hit Payton, and let Torre either leave Stanton in, or bring in Quantrill? At least at that point it's a crap shoot, and not a preordained out from Trot.

What in the name of God was Braden Looper thinking last night? Did anyone else watch that at bat against Adam Dunn? Dunn absolutely tattooed the first 2 fastballs he saw foul. Why, in the name of all that is holy, would you throw him a third fastball? Say what you want about Adam Dunn, but he's not going to miss the same meatball three times in a row, and he didn't; he destroyed the pitch, and Looper made the same mistake to Randa one pitch later. So who do you blame? Looper for throwing it, Piazza for calling for it? I blame Omar Minaya, and you should too.

38 minor leaguers positive for steroids, including a 3rd time offender for Oakland, and Damian Moss, former fantasy darling for the Atlanta Braves. Our image of what a steroid user might be is evolving, and as it evolves, it moves away from the sluggers, and toward your everyday players, and that's just going to make it worse for baseball.

Seriously, I hate this apocalypse talk, but if it is coming, I know i saw the first sign yesterday. Skip Bayless picked the Red Sox to win the world series.

If I were you, I'd stock up on the canned food...

Monday, April 04, 2005

 

Baseball Rants Welcomes John Sickels

John Sickels of minorleagueball.com , Down on the Farm, and The Baseball Prospect Book series fame agreed to do an interview/Q&A for Baseball Rants. The questions come from both Matt and I, as well as a slew of reader questions. I recommend John's work for anyone who does not already enjoy it daily; I catch myself looking through my copy of The Baseball Prospect Book 2005 everytime I want to look up some prospects in an article.

Marc Normandin: With Johnny Damon's free agency on the horizon, the Sox centerfield job might be open. Where do you see Hanley Ramirez fitting into that picture in 2006, or possibly 2007? Or do you think he will end up being traded by the deadline this year?

John Sickels: I really have no idea. I know the Red Sox like him a lot, and he’s obviously one of the premier prospects around, but whether he is trade bait or something else, we’ll just have to wait and see. He certainly has the athleticism to play center field if they want to go that route; he’d need more experience of course.

MN: Dustin Pedroia was projected for a 33.1 VORP by PECOTA for 2005, the highest among players with no major league experience. Not only that, but he trails Renteria by 4.2 points of projected VORP. Did the Red Sox possibly make a mistake committing this much money to Renteria over the next 4 years, or do you think PECOTA might have simply made a mistake?

JS: As good as Pedroia played last year, PECOTA or any other projection is only as good as the sample size, and a sample size of 42 games in A-ball is not enough for me. Now, understand, I love Pedroia as a prospect. I think he’s going to be an excellent player. But I can’t take something specific like a “33.1 projected VORP” seriously based on a 42-game sample, not at this point. That said, the Renteria signing does open up some questions about roster management for the Sox as this question and the Hanley question show. But it’s better to have too much talent clustered at that end of the defensive spectrum than not enough.

MN: Picture 2007: Matt Clement, Bronson Arroyo, Jon Papelbon, John Lester, Abe Alvarez. What do you think of that with run support that is slightly less than it is now in Boston?

JS: I think the Sox are well-positioned for the next few years, certainly. There should be some barnburner races with the Yankees, and heck, maybe even the Blue Jays and Devil Rays. The only team in that division that really has no chance to be interesting in the near future is the Orioles.

Matthew Kizner: With Joe Mauer already being touted as one of the best hitting catchers to ever grace the major leagues, and no room at 1B in Minnesota (thanks to Justin Morneau), what do the twins do with the apparently injury prone Mauer? Do they ride him out and let him catch, or do they let him DH, displace Lew Ford, and possibly alter their outfield?

JS: I’d let him catch until he proves he can’t. It looks like they have third and first covered for the future as well. But Mauer’s bat is so good that if he can’t catch, he will push someone aside. . .not Mauer, but possibly Ford. Or maybe Jacque Jones?

MK: I’ve heard varying reports on Jeremy Reed, from a surefire RotY candidate, to SAFECO hurting him, and some say he may not even be the real deal. What’s your take on Jeremy Reed?

JS: I like Reed. I think he’s a solid .280-.290 hitter with good contact ability, lots of gap power, and some steals. Safeco will suppress his power development, but he’s not a huge home run guy in any park.

Baseball Rants Readers: Whats your preference for the 2005 Red Sox 3B: Bill Mueller or Kevin Youkilis? If you like Mueller for 2005, who would you rather have in 2006?

JS: I’d probably play Mueller, hoping he has a good season so I can flip him, then give Youkilis the job in ’06.

BR: Whats your take on Chris Narveson, who the Sox got in the BK deal with the Rockies?

JS: Projects as a fourth starter, decent stuff lefty, needs to have good command, doesn’t have a huge margin for error.

BR: I think the Cleveland Indians have a real good chance at taking the American League Central from the Twins. Do you think their young hitters and pitchers can continue to improve, stagnate, or go backwards?

JS: I agree, the Indians are close to being ready to challenge the Twins. The Twins have more pitching depth and I think they’ll hold the Tribe off this year, but starting in ’06 there should be some excellent races in that division. The key for Cleveland will be turning a large group of live arms into successful pitchers.

BR: I'm going to see a lot of Colorado Springs Sky Sox baseball this year. What are your thoughts on Justin Hampson and Mike Esposito, two pitching prospects that figure to start at that level? Do they have what it takes to succeed at altitude in terms of stuff? Also, where does Jed Lowrie figure to end up in the draft this summer?

JS: I’ve heard Lowrie rumored as early as the supplemental round, but more likely in the 2nd-3rd round range. Hampson and Esposito are both Grade C guys. Their stuff is OK, not spectacular, but good-enough when their command is on. Both could be useful major league pitchers, neither will be an ace. I worry that the thin air will be hard for them to adapt to, particularly Esposito.

BR: What is your favorite minor league ballpark to take in a game? Ever been to Pawtucket?

JS: I do most of my traveling in the Midwest. My favorite current park is Cedar Rapids.

BR: Who do you think is comparable to Brandon McCarthy at this point?? Anybody jump to mind?

JS: The White Sox like to compare him to Jack McDowell, and I think that is apt.

BR: Did anybody really know about Ian Kinsler or Jason Kubel before last year??

JS: Kinsler was a huge surprise. I saw him play in college ball at Missouri, he looked OK but nothing like a top-notch prospect. I think he took everyone by surprise, even the Rangers. Kubel was someone who showed a good hitting track record in the low minors, and I’ve rated him as a sleeper in past seasons, so he wasn’t as big a surprise.

BR:What would Roberto Petagine's line be if he was given a full year in the bigs?

JS: He’s old now….I’d say .260/.340/.475 now. If someone gave him a job four years ago, it would have been more like .280/.375/.510.

BR: Have you seen Macier Izturis play? Is he as good as his numbers would indicate? Do you question the sanity of Jim Bowden?

JS: I saw Izturis play last year for Edmonton, and I do think he made legitimate improvements at the plate. He has a nice level swing and decent plate discipline. Not a lot of power, but if he maintains the discipline he should post a good-enough batting average and OBP. And his defense is pretty sharp. The PCL inflated his numbers some last year, but he should be at least as good as his brother and maybe better.

As for Bowden, there are lots of other weird things he’s done…that trade was one of the minor ones.

BR: Mike Restovich... do you think he'll succeed against major league pitching?? I'd give him a 35% chance of doing well enough this year to start next year. Is that too harsh?

JS: Yeah, that’s too harsh. He’s not going to hit .300, but he should hit .260-.270 with enough power production to stay in the lineup.

BR: Would you favor Las Vegas getting a MLB team?

JS: No, I’m not in favor of any further expansion for at least another decade. By the time the game is ready to expand again, say 2020, the water tables out west will be dried up, and people will be abandoning Las Vegas and Phoenix as uninhabitable.

BR: Matt Thornton and Bobby Madritsch: Buy or Sell?

JS: I like Madtrisch. I don’t like Thornton.

MN: Thanks for your time John, I appreciate the answers to the many questions we received for this Q&A. IF anyone out there has not purchased a copy of John Sickels
The Baseball Prospect Book, 2005 you should definitely put away some cash and buy it immediately, as well as visit his new website, Minor League Ball. It is a daily read of mine, and should be part of your internet travels as well.

Link
 

Alex Freakin' Sanchez huh?

This is too good to be true in a way, when it is guys like Alex Sanchez who get officially caught redhanded in the present tense as a steroid user. Sanchez received a 10 game suspension, and MLB's new steroid policy is officially in effect. Sanchez of course is fighting the decision, but why shouldn't he? His career slugging line hasn't cracked .350 yet, and you all know how much I love his "skills". He's so ineffective he could use his career stats as his defense and win. But like I said, in a way this is good. So far connected to steroids (or accused of use) are Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Jose Canseco, Ken Caminiti, Mark McGwire, Jeremy Giambi, Manny Alexander, and Alex Sanchez...wait what the hell are those last three people doing on the list? Giambi, Alexander, and Sanchez aren't exactly known for their bats. In fact, Jeremy Giambi is best known for his ability to take a walk, or in Boston, to lose his spot in the order to David Ortiz with no one really caring. They don't exactly meet the stereotypical juiced up slugger image, which brings me to an idea I want to share, and please, criticize me as much as you want.

What if steroids don't actually enhance your performance as much as advertised by the media, since all they essentially do is make you stronger, i.e. overly muscular?

Geez, the media overhype something? Noooooo way. Isn't it possible, especially with the excellent (and seriously, who is better at this than Bonds and the Elder Giambi) batting eyes of many of these linked-to-roids' sluggers, that it is honestly a natural talent that is bringing them along, and much like the corked bat theory (that it doesn't actually enhance performance) it is all a mirage? Do we have huge guys hitting homeruns due to steroid use that would normally hit homeruns as slightly smaller guys? Granted, a few flyballs might go over the fence due to the extra muscle, but wouldn't some of that be negated by say, balls that should be shallow outfield singles or doubles turning into flyball outs? If muscles were everything to the game, wouldn't Gabe Kapler and Brad Fullmer hit 72 homeruns in an off-year (by the way, don't ever do a Google search for Brad Fullmer or Gabe Kapler unless you plan on seeing Chippendales like pictures...I was surprised and now don't want to link images up). Wouldn't David Ortiz and Calvin Pickering, two monsters of men, each share some of the homerun crown? They naturally have what steroid users have to purchase and inject. Adam Dunn is another really big player; what happens if he hits 57, 58, maybe even 60 homeruns some year? Do we accuse him automatically? What about the 50 homerun season of toothpick Shawn Green, whose swing was likened to Ted Williams, who also was not the biggest guy with a bat in his hands.

It is obvious by the cases of players such as Jeremy Giambi and Alex Sanchez that natural talent is necessary in the steroid equation, if there is even such a thing. Maybe this will force people to realize that steroids do not automatically make you a slugging homerun threat, and that they are more of a health risk than an improvement to your game. Maybe between this discovery of Sanchez's use and "The Juice" by Will Carroll showing the health risks of steroid usage, the countries eyes will slowly open up to some more truth. Of course, the saddest part of all of this is that Alex Sanchez's chances to be a first ballot Hall of Famer are all but gone now...

Note: This doesn't merit its own column, but former Red Sox pitcher Brandon Lyon has been named the closer in Arizona...desperate for a closer, I quickly snagged him off free agents for my fantasy team. Lyon was dominating in the spring, but as we all know, that doesn't always promise success. Expect Lyon to get enough saves to help your fantasy team without hurting your rate stats too much in Arizona if he can stay healthy.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

 

Opening Day!

The day is finally here...its Opening Day! I've been waiting since the World Series ended for this, so I'm pretty excited damnit. On that note, I want to discuss the Yankees rotation.

Steve Phillips at ESPN believes the Yankees have the best rotation...and the Braves have the second best. I'm reading this and my head wants to explode to be honest.

1) Randy Johnson 2.83
2) Mike Mussina 4.04
3) Carl Pavano 4.30
4) Jaret Wright 4.89
5) Kevin Brown 4.27
6) Tanyon Sturtze 5.01

That is my projected ERA for the Yankees rotation, but I'm not an expert who ran a Mets team into the ground, so forgive me (Yes I realize a lot of the blame is Fred Wilpon's too, but still). Most expensive rotation...Definitely. The best? Well in terms of wins, possibly, but does that really mean they are the best, or that the offense helped them? Obviously its the latter, and if you think differently, then well maybe you can write columns regarding the best rotation in baseball too.

As for the Braves as the second best, I don't buy it.

1) Tim Hudson
2) John Smoltz
3) Mike Hampton
4) John Thomson
5) Horacio Ramirez

Ok, let's assume Hudson o5' is like Hudson 04'. Good enough...John Smoltz isn't going to pitch 200 innings I don't think, so I don't see him as a true co-ace. Mike Hampton isn't as good as John Thomson, but Thomson isn't good enough to be a #3 guy, and Ramirez's peripherals still bother me, sans his minor league track record anyways.

I do appreciate Phillips saying the White Sox will have the biggest falloff in the American League this year though...damn you Steve for winning back my ranting heart! As for his Sammy Sosa hitting 50 homeruns idea, that may be the kind of past-your-prime-but-still-producing-like-it-(right?) mentality that got you a cushy seat on ESPN rather than in a front office.

Who are my #1 and #2 rotations in baseball you ask? The Cubs (if healthy) and the Twins (if Lohse would just you know, not suck).

Chicago
1) Mark Prior
2) Kerry Wood
3) Carlos Zambrano
4) Greg Maddux
5) Glendon Rusch/Ryan Dempster

Twins
1) Johan Santana
2) Brad Radke
3) Carlos Silva
4) Kyle Lohse
5) Joe Mays

If Mays can soak up league average innings, this rotation will be golden. He is capable, and has done it in the past, so hopefully for the Twins sake he does it again. They will absolutely need him to if Kyle Lohse falls apart again. Even with the question marks the Twins have, I would put them ahead of both the Yankees and the Braves. Even the Cardinals have a better rotation than the Yankees and Braves due to actual depth rather than perceived "we paid a lot of money for this guy to perform" depth. If you want a real indicator of whose better, the Cubs have a legit Big Three with a real good #4 in Maddux and especially good for #5 guy in Rusch. The Twins have two of the biggest two around, with Silva soaking up innings without causing damage. The Yankees? They have the Big Unit, which for some writers, is just enough.


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