Friday, July 14, 2006

More Rumos. Yippee!

Yanks interested in Jose Guillen (ESPN Insider registration required)

The Yankees have an interest in Washington outfielder Jose Guillen, who has become expendable with the team's acquisition of Austin Kearns from Cincinnati, reports ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick.


I'm not so hot on this, considering Guillen's antics that got him booted from Anaheim. If he's focused and ready, he's quite the player. He may be worth a small risk, but I wouldn't even bid as high as Tyler Clippard for him.

Did anyone else know Kearns was available, by the way? Looking at our outfield situation, he may have fit in nicely.

Thanks to John at Pinstripe Alley for the heads up.

Krivsky's Head

PlayerAge**ABAvgOBPSlgISOOPSRARP (Pos. Rank)*
Austin Kearns26325.274.351.492.218.84316.1 (5)
Felipe Lopez26343.268.355.394.126.74915.8 (7)

*Runs Above Replacement Level. As the moniker suggests, this is the number of runs a player has created compared to a replacement player. League rank is the NL rank at the player’s position.
** as of 12/31/06

Would you trade these two position players for these two pitchers?

PlayerAgeGIPERAK/9BB/9HR/9K/BBWXRL (Lg. Rnk.)*
Gary Majewski264655.13.585.534.070.651.36.021 (123)
Bill Bray231923.03.916.263.520.781.78.398 (59)

*Wins Expected Above Replacement Level. This stat uses WPA to weigh how relievers perform. I personally like it, because I think WPA best applies to relief pitchers. But that’s a column for another day (and probably best left to someone more math savvy). Once again, it’s with the player’s NL rank.

And this hitter?

PlayerAgeABAvgOBPSlgISOOPSRARP (Pos. Rank)
Royce Clayton36305.269.315.348.079.6636.6 (12)


I just don’t understand how this move helps Cincy this year. First and foremost, it leaves a gaping hole at shortstop. Who is going to start now, Juan Castro? Royce Clayton? Neither is particularly swift with the glove, and they both heavily burden an NL lineup. It’s almost like having two pitchers at the end of your lineup.

Furthermore, this move increases the Reds dependence on Scott Hatteberg (.309/.411/.486). All of those averages represent career highs, so at 36 years of age, regression seems imminent. Likewise, this will keep the pressure on Brandon Phillips (.306/.357/.438) to keep up his breakout ways.

The move was obviously consummated because of Cincy’s bullpen needs. But why give up so much value to get two bland relievers? They both don’t have overly impressive strikeout numbers, and both walk WAAAAAAY too many batters. And you know what eventually kills relievers? Walking guys.

If anything good can be said about the duo, it’s that they keep the ball in the park. Oh, wait a second; they’re moving from uber-pitching-friendly RFK Stadium to the Bomb City known as the Great American Ballpark.

A few other players swapped, though none seems like they’ll make much of an impact. Brendan Harris’s minor league stats look impressive at first (.283/.379/.416) for a second baseman, until you realize he’ll be 26 next month.

I don’t want to say that Reds GM Wayne Krivsky threw away the season with this trade, but…

If anything good comes of this, it’s that it paves the way for the exit of Soriano and/or Guillen. Though, a little bird told me that Soriano may be Anaheim-bound.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Fat Pussy Toad, Part II

The guy had one good year. Just one. During it, he was sent as a rent-a-player to San Francisco, and ended up blowing the only game he pitched in the playoffs. Oh, and he was 1-3 with a 4.22 ERA that September. After the season, the Giants marked him “return to sender.” He has yet to impress since.

I’d post his full stat lines, but I’m way too embarrassed. Here’s the abbreviated version.

K: 33
BB: 29
OPS Against: .838

Note to Cashman: Shawn Chacon is better than Sidney Ponson.

A Less Talked About Pitcher

I’ll be honest: of all the trade rumors I’ve heard over the past few weeks, none has made me happier than the mention of Jon Lieber. True, there’s personal bias mixed in there; but when you look at what’s available and the speculative price, no pitcher provide more value.

Of course, plenty of people out there will say, “but Joe! Leiber has been injured this year and he looks a lot worse. I mean, he has a 5.48 ERA in the National League.” Being of the confrontational sort, I’ll take a stab at rebutting such an argument.

You all know I’m big on peripherals. And why not? With all the luck involved in baseball, it seems logical to point to events over which the pitchers have the most control. To this point, Lieber has 5.48 K/9 and a 4.40 K/BB ratio, both of which are within reasonable range of his career averages. And yes, you read that 4.40 figure correctly; he strikes out nearly four and a half times the number of batters he walks, and he only strikes out five and a half per nine. You have to hand it to a guy who has walked only 10 men in 72.1 innings (1.25 per nine).

With these rather impressive peripherals, I’d immediately draw the conclusion that he simply has an inflated batting average on balls in play. Baseball Prospectus, however, has stamped “rejected” on my forehead. His average stands at .301, which is only slightly above the accepted norm of .290. A look to the left in his stats column, however, provides part of the answer: .465 Slg. against.

Ouch. I mean, really ouch. But then it dawned on me that he pitches in quite possibly the worst pitchers park in baseball. That led to a glance at the GB/FB rate, which is an untidy 1.24. Well, it wouldn’t be untidy if he was pitching in Chavez Ravine. But at Citizens Bank Park, it’s a death warrant. And sure enough, his propensity to give up the fly ball has led to his surrendering of 11 home runs, one more than the number of walks he’s issued.

Not surprisingly, eight of his 12 starts have been at home. Of the remaining four, one was at Coors Field, and another at the Great American Ballpark. Ten starts in complete hitters parks. This is reflected in his OPS against at home – .807 – versus his OPS against on the road – .729. Piling on more, he’s given up a homer once every 22.5 at bats at home, and every 34.67 on the road.

Further benefiting the Yankees, he has averaged roughly 6.5 innings per start over his career. The number is lower this year because the increased home runs have forced him out of games earlier, and the fact that he’s been injured. But if this ailment is behind him and he can return to his ways of keeping the ball in the park, I would imagine his innings per start would increase.

It’s most obvious that he needs to get out of that park. In a more pitcher friendly park like, oh, say Yankee Stadium, he could pass with a 1.24 GB/FB ratio. He’d also be the beneficiary of a wholly better defense, as the Yankees convert 71 percent of balls in play into outs, while the Phillies convert 68 percent – good for a tie for fifth place and 28th place, respectively.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Madden Riffs on Abreu, Lieber

Bill Madden thinks Phillies GM Pat Gillick likes the idea of unloading Bobby Abreu and Jon Lieber in the same deal.

Gillick is also looking to unload ex-Yankee Jon Lieber, whose velocity and performance are down considerably this season and is owed $7 million in the final year of his contract next season. The prospect of dumping $27 million in a package deal could be irresistible for Gillick.

The Yankees are one of the few teams making waves here. For the third straight year, there were hardly any GMs at the All-Star Game, and the consensus is it's going to be another "down" market at the trading deadline.


Adding to Madden's credibility on this subject, he mentioned that the Astros were heating up talks for Aubrey Huff...which as you know happened today.

Once again, it all comes down to price tag, of which there's no mention. Sure, $27 million is a hefty sum to take on, even for the Yankees. But to acquire a big bat and a pitcher who has success -- playoff success -- in New York is very tempting.

While Gillick would obviously love the salary dump, he'll be under pressure to get actual value for the two players. Considering their salary, it's unlikely they'd end up anywhere but New York. But given what Cashman looks willing to part with, Gillick may not get his share in return.

Non-Yanks Mid-Season Talk

Jeff at Lookout Landing has posted a rather entertaining Mariners mid-season report. Trust me, this is not like any you've read to this point.

This is highly entertaining, even if you don't particularly like the Ms. There may be a few inside jokes that get lost on non-fans, but it's still a hilarious read.

Props to Jeff, who always comes up with great material. I'm actually kinda following the Mariners because of his site.

How Much Information Can One Process?

Run Values for Pitchers, by SG over at Replacement Level.

Yeah, I need to budget my time better so I can do some crazy in-depth stuff like that.

Looks like today will be a linkage day. So much for the player analyses (so far: zero responses). I figure I'll just get to that when I get home.

It Begins...

Huff to the Astros.

It's a done deal, folks. Not like there was much chance he'd end up in pinstripes anyway.

Minor leaguers Mitch Talbot (RHP) and Ben Zobrist (IF) were the price tag. I'm not in a position to research them at this moment, but I'll be sure to update this post when I get home with their minor league numbers.

Calling All Readers

Okay, guys; I need your help. I'm actually ::gasp:: busy at work today, so I'm not going to be able to compile all the information I'm after.

It's always fun to analyze deadline deals, and as I've stated in recent days past, I'm more interested in small deals that can improve big weaknesses. If you can make a slight improvement on a big weakness and accentuate your strengths, you've got a decent winning formula.

What I'm doing is going through the teams considered out of the playoff picture and seeing what spare parts they may have available. I've been able to go through a few, but it's getting a bit tough. What I'm asking from you, the reader, is that you compile a few of these guys and forward over their information, so that I can publish the report later today. You'll get full credit for anything you submit.

All that I ask is that this is kept within the realm of reason. Guys hovering around 30 years of age are ideal, as I don't expect any youngsters to be dealt. No superstars, no guys having phenom-esque years. Just regular dudes having regular dude years, who may be able to step into New York and take some of the load off. We're looking specifically for starters, relievers, and corner outfielders.

For example, I've got Scott Williamson and Will Ohman down from the Cubs. Those are the kinds of guys I'm looking to analyze.

As for your submission, all I ask you do is go to the ESPN.com player card, and click on 'stats.' From there, copy and paste the headings (G, AB, etc.), and copy and paste their 2006 stats below that. Don't worry if it doesn't line up; as long as you copy and paste the entire stat lines, I'll be able to figure it out.

Thanks in advance for the participation.

Update: In case there's any confusion, send those along to direneed@optonline.net

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Information Overload

SG over at Replacement Level has posted an encompassing article on Yankees run values. Just as a warning, it's long, dense, and full of advanced calculations.

Thankfully, SG makes all of this rather easy to understand. Props, man. Or, should I say, PrOPS?

Note: that's the dorkiest thing I've said all day.

Troubling Trade Rumor

From those crazy cats over at mlbtraderumors.com: White Sox interested in Schmidt.

Let's get a few things straight as a precursor. First, the rumors presented at that site aren't exactly certainties. If they hear a mumble, they post it. After all, these are the folks who suggested that outrageous A-Rod swap.

Another thing is that there is no guarantee San Francisco, in the midst of a pennant race, is willing to part with a Top 8 pitcher. Schmidt's name has been toss around since Opening Day, but to me it would seem that he would fetch a hefty price should GM Brian Sabean decide he's expendable.

Don't rule out anything with Sabean. He is, after all, the man who dished Francisco Liriano, Joe Nathan, and Boof Bonser for A.J. Pierzynski.

This is a tricky trade for the White Sox. Surely they'd like to add another reliable arm to their rotation, since Javy Vazquez, Jon Garland, Freddy Garcia, and even Mark Buehrle aren't performing to expectations. In fact, as things stand now, I'm surprised Brandon McCarthy hasn't usurped Garland's spot. But apparently that's now how Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen roll.

The trade, as suggested, would put Schmidt on the South Side in exchange for McCarthy and rookie centerfielder Brian Anderson. The White Sox would then turn around one of their surplus pitchers for a centerfielder. But that may be looking too far into the future, since I'm not quite sure Williams would pull the trigger on this deal.

Okay, so the White Sox are in prime position to repeat. They have roughly the same pitching staff and an enhanced offensive attack. Problem is, the pitchers of last year aren't performing like they did during the championship run. Buehrle, Garcia, Vazquez, and Garland all have ERAs over 4.00, with the latter three near or above 5.00. Ergo, the presence of a top of the line pitcher would help immeasurably (note: the word immeasurably is used figuratively, for you statheads out there).

My only question: why would Williams dish McCarthy when he may in fact be of service right now? His ERA is close to Buehrle's, and his peripherals are better. I can't see dishing him before giving him a shot to crack the rotation.

But, let's just say Williams is set to make this deal happen. He has Schmidt and no centerfielder. In reality, the only guy who's going to fetch a decent lawn roamer is Garcia. The question remains, however, of who is willing to take on a 30-year-old pitcher making $9 million? Possibly the Yankees or the Red Sox, but neither have a center fielder to give. Perhaps a three-way trade with Atlanta, with Andruw Jones heading to Chicago. While the Jones to Chicago rumor has made its rounds, I still have a hard time seeing anyone ponying up the anticipated asking price.

When it all boils down, I just don't see this making enough sense for the White Sox. To trade your top young pitcher and your rookie centerfielder for a 33-year-old rental seems a bit of a reach. There is always the possibility that the Sox can ink Schmidt following this season, a la Freddie Garcia, but that's far from a certainty. I'm willing to bet that Theo Epstein and Brian Cashman are ready to put a few zeros on an offer this off-season.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Spot On Analysis

This the 18,241,193th reminder that I very much dislike mid-season report cards. However, when such a report pops up with some real insight - i.e. it wasn't covered daily or weekly during the first half of the season - I take particular notice. This week will be dedicated to those reports. I'll try to conjure up a few of my own, but I'm a worn down and beaten man after the past few weeks. I'd like to thank Major League Baseball for having the foresight to schedule the All-Star break at the perfect time.

Anyway, I'll direct your attention to the Baseball Analysts, where Rich Lederer has posted the strikeouts per 100 pitches for every qualified pitcher. Along with the list - which has our beloved Chien-Ming ranked dead last - Lederer provides relevant commentary, which includes a mitigation of Wang.

Some Pre All-Star Banter

Thank some random deity for Jon Papelbon's blown save yesterday. The guy scares the bejeezus out of me, so to see him look a bit mortal was a relief.

It looks like my touting of Kris Wilson was just a bit premature. I can still see him giving the Yankes useful innings, possibly out of the bullpen, but there is no denying that he just didn't have it in him yesterday. He pitched out of a first and third, one out jam in the second, which left the third inning very curious. Did working out of the jam boost his confidence, or was it the base for further frustration if it happened again. And, apparently, it was the latter, as Wilson looked piiiiiiiiiiissed, unable to finish off the side. My only question following the game: if the fifth start after the break comes down to Wilson and Chacon, who do you give it to?

Considering the point from which they had to start, the bullpen didn't do a terrible job. You hate to see Villone give up two run homers, but they're going to happen from time to time. And Proctor, well, I guess we can say that he reacted well to a few bad pitches, striking out the side in the seventh despite surrendering the go-ahead run. Again, he's going to give up a run every once in a while; it's just the timing that sucked.

I'm curious as to what's going on with the roster following the break. I'm logically guessing that Nick Green will be banished once Cano returns, and that Thompson will be back in Columbus once Matt Smith or T.J. Beam spend the requisite 10 days in the minors. Though, the return of Beam and Smith could be delayed should Octavio Dotel return – or at least that's the prayer.

The stove is re-heating as we prepare the countdown to the deadline. None of the high-profile players have really come close to being dealt, though I'm guessing the GMs will have quite a few meetings over the next four days.

Thankfully, there has been more talk recently about the acquisition of Craig Wilson than Abreu and Soriano. Wilson comes much cheaper, and won't be an incredible hindrance if/when Sheffield and Matsui return. Plus, there are other teams with the need for a power hitting outfielder that are better armed in the minor league department. I would expect that if Soriano, Carlos Lee, and Abreu go anywhere, it will be to the Angles (more likely Abreu), Tigers, and Dodgers. Toronto may get into the bidding for an outfielder, too.

The availability of Andruw Jones has been a question of late. With the Braves history of not overpaying for their own free agents, it appears likely he'll be patrolling center field for another team next year. He'll be a half-season rental for any taker, but his price tag will likely exceed what you'd pay for that kind of service. If it's reasonable, I'd expect the White Sox to jump into the bidding. Brian Anderson may be the future, but Jones can help them win now.

This is all just running off at the mouth, though. There is a good chance that none of these players get dealt, and that the deadline will be filled with minor moves for role players. Which, unlike many fans, are the moves I like to see.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Evaluating Wang

Dave Pinto has an excellent analysis of Chien-Ming Wang over at Baseball Musings.

If you aren't a regular reader of BM, I can't recommend it enough. Dave Pinto uses a wide array of resources to provide accurate and insightful analysis.