Monday, March 30, 2009

Olney May Not Know Defense, But Somebody Does

Buster Olney may not understand a thing about defensive metrics, but luckily there are reporters who at least care enough to look into them. Geoff Baker recently wrote an article and a blog for the Seattle Times on the subject. He talked to everybody from Raul Ibanez(who was surprisingly informed about their short comings) to John Dewan and Mitchel Lichtman about the various fielding metrics available. If you don’t know a lot about defensive stats, Baker provides an excellent crash course for you to learn about them. And if you do know a lot about defensive statistics, it’s nice to see that this kind of article found its way into a newspaper.

These are the kind of reporters the baseball community needs more of. Geoff doesn’t know the most of any writer out there, nor is he a top notch analyst, but he gets as much information about a subject from as many diverse sources as he can and puts out a product that can be digested by the average fan. It’s writers like him that are going to bridge the gap between the VORPies and the majority of the baseball watching crowd. Enough effort put forth by those people and we may just start seeing stats like UZR creeping their way onto ESPN.

Another Reason Why Olney Should Stick to Reporting

This week, Sportscenter is doing a preview of each division. Today, they just did the AL West. His call for best fielder among those in the AL West? Torii Hunter.

Now I should add that according to The Fielding Bible II, Hunter has robbed the most home runs over the past three seasons see page 6 of the excerpt. That and the 8 Gold Gloves is likely why he made the decision. Despite his assurances, it's not the obvious choice that Mr. "every bad team will lose over 105 games" will have you to believe. According to TotalZone, UZR, and Plus/Minus (-7 over the past three years, below average in throwing), he's been below average in center the past few seasons. The Fan Scouting Report metrics are kinder to him. Even so, he's still nowhere near the obvious choice when considering '09 AL West mates like Ichiro Suzuki, Adrian Beltre, Mark Ellis, Franklin Gutierrez, and Endy Chavez.

Buster, keep on getting those scoops us at ATH could only dream of having. In the meantime, let others take up the analyst reins.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Did You Know?

Remember when they used to do those "Did You Know?" segments at the end of each SportsCenter broadcast? That's what this feels like. Anyways,


That at the end of this season Phil Jackson will have coached nine seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, which is just as many as he coached with the Chicago Bulls?

I know. Weird. Trust me, though, I looked it up and Phil Jackson hasn't coached for the Bulls in over TEN YEARS! Did anybody else know the 90's were that far away? No? It was just me? This whole post was for nothing?

Perhaps this is why they removed the segment from the show.

Friday, March 27, 2009

"Johan Santana pitched with more pressure, therefore he was better than Tim Lincecum"

Listening to Harold Reynolds and Jon Heyman on the same panel of "expert analysts" is probably one of the most frustrating things a human being can endure.

I hope Matt Wieters disposes of them soon.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Um. . . what the hell is this?

You know. . . other than a Japanese baseball fan sitting at the World Baseball Classic disguised as Michael Jackson and holding what a appears to be a tiny sword?

Buster Olney Doing What He Does

First mistake: I'm watching Baseball Tonight.

Don't ask me why. In any case, during a Spring Training highlight of the Astros and the Marlins, and Karl Ravech makes the off-hand comment that the Nationals rotation looks "formidable this year."

Buster Olney -- a fantastic reporter but an awful analyst, something ESPN is oblivious of -- tops that innocent statement by saying, "no question about it, best rotation in the National League East." A shocked Karl Ravech prodded him on it a few more times through the next several highlights, and Olney just dug in his heels.

Well now. I think there might be a question about that.

So does PECOTA, which puts them at 821 runs allowed, good for last in the division (100 behind the Mets). Sure, that includes fielding, but still. The starters' ERAs range from 4.01 to 5.17 (meh stat, but give me a break). No VORP projected above 30, only one above 20. VORP is kind of lazy, but CHONE gives them about the same sort of performance in Runs Above Replacement, in fact a bit more dire. Though the ERAs are better, I still contend those don't look like the ERAs of a rotation that's unquestionably the best in a division, but who knows, it could happen. PECOTA and CHONE are wrong often. I'm sure Buster Olney doesn't have a history of being made to look stupid by the two systems because of silly, bold predictions.

It seems as though he just gets totally caught up in the story--"the Orioles are going to be really bad; how bad? well look, I'm going to predict they lose 106 games!"--without realizing how silly it is to make such extreme predictions.

Oh. . . my. . .

Well how about this?

I really can't stress enough how funny it is that Olney does worse than just using previous year's record. It's at least closer with the increased sample size--he beat the '06 record by a good deal in '07--but it's still quite pathetic. Here's a guy who probably follows baseball as closely as anyone on the planet, and he isn't adding an ounce of information to least year's records with his predictions. It's kind of incredible, really.

Sooooooo. . . there's kind of a history of this.

You might want to back off of your bold statements of unquestionable facts there, Buster.

All is Not Right With the World

I give you: Bizarro Scioscia.

Scioscia sees 'alarming trends.' Angels manager worried about lack of plate discipline.

Is this where stem cell research has led us?

Vladimir Guerrero is hacking his way to the Hall of Fame with a let-it-fly zone extending from his nose to his toes.

Silly writer, he's always done that. The Scioscia we know and "love" approves. What's your angle?

But Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he sees "some alarming trends" among the organization's young players when it comes to a lack of plate discipline and "it has been addressed … organization-wide" with evaluations over the past three years leading to a greater emphasis on working counts, taking pitches and pitch recognition.

. . . that doesn't sound right. . .

It's not necessarily just drawing walks. It's getting into hitter's counts," Scioscia said. "There's a lot of things we look at. Yesterday's game (Monday against the Rockies) we had 16 hitting counts and that's terrific. The result of that is going to be drawing some walks.



Four Simple Concepts

-Jimmy Rollins is better than Derek Jeter.
-Derek Jeter is a worse hitter than Adam Dunn.
-Shane Victorino and Curtis Granderson are very good defensively.
-Adam Dunn is a worse fielder than all living humans.

If Davey Johnson would have comprehended any of these four concepts, Team USA may have faired significantly better in the WBC. Instead, we're forced to just wait another few more years before we get to see Matt Weiters catch and throw a perfect game against each team while speaking in tongues about each and every opponent's mother.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I don't think I can listen to Digger Phelps anymore. Why?

Because he can't go through an entire statement without asking a question only to answer it immediately himself. What's that mean? It means he thinks he's encountered a "clever" trope he likes and thinks he improves his speaking by abusing it to death. What's the result? He sounds really stupid.

Am I exaggerating? Definitely not. Every other sentence, almost literally, ends with a question mark.

Don't believe me? Watch for yourself. And you'll start noticing it and getting annoyed just like when you watch Unwrapped and start noting Mark Summers's random, misplaced dramatic pauses.

The AtH Final Fours

Since I realized I haven't posted this yet.

Skye: Louisville, Maryland, Texas, Oklahoma
Goose: Louisville, Memphis, Pittsburgh, Oklahoma
Andy: Louisville, Memphis, Villanova, North Carolina
Grif: Louisville, Memphis, UCLA, North Carolina

Championship Picks
Skye: Texas (over Louisville)
Goose: Louisville (over Pittsburgh)
Andy: Louisville (over UNC)
Grif: UNC (over Memphis)

It looks like the decision will probably be made by who wins the East.

Why Dusty Baker Should Not Be Allowed to Manage A Professional Baseball Team: Reason #2

He saw fit to play Corey Patterson in 133 games last season.

-0/9 UZR
48 OPS+
.250 WOBA
-1.2 WAR
.205 EQA
-11.9 BtWin
-29.9 BtRns

This man put up these numbers over the course of ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY-THREE GAMES! During the midst of this impressive .238 OBP campaign, Baker allowed Patterson to have 155 plate appearances (32 starts) in the leadoff spot as well. I guess I know why Dusty isn't a fan of those "base-cloggers", he prefers the players that presume not to get on base AT ALL.

I wonder if he encouraged the GM to make a push for Scott Podsednik over the winter.

Why Dusty Baker Should Not Be Allowed to Manage A Professional Baseball Team: Reason #1

As of right now, this is what the Cincinnati Reds lineup is slated to look like:

1. Willy Taveras
2. Jerry Hairston Jr.
3. Joey Votto
4. Brandon Phillips
5. Jay Bruce
6. Edwin Encarnacion
7. Ramon Hernandez
8. Alex Gonzalez

Granted, the Reds have a pretty shitty offense to being with (at least OBP-wise), but does anybody really think it's even a remotely good idea to have a guy leading off that had an OBP 40 points below league average last year? I mean someone that knows absolutely nothing about baseball can understand the simple concept that the person who bats first in a lineup will get the most at-bats. Why would you want someone who specializes at not getting on base receiving the most at-bats? Oh wait, I know... Because he's fast.

The notion that speed is essential for a leadoff hitter has been blown way out of proportion throughout the game of baseball. Sure, it's nice to have, but in no way should it take precedence over getting on base. Dusty Baker does not know this, hence the first reason why he should not be allowed to manage a professional baseball team.

After the first round. . .

Still no fancy bracket pictures, but I do bring more updates on the AtH bracket challenge. After the first round, our standings are:

  1. Skye 25/32 (154 Points Remaining)
  2. Andy 24/32 (158 Points Remaining)
  3. Goose 23/32 (152 Points Remaining)
  4. Grif 21/32 (156 Points Remaining)

So not much separatin yet, with Andy looking to be the front runner so far. I lost on last second shots over Tennessee and Utah State in the span of a couple minutes, a melt down by West Virginia and two over-time games, and I know I wasn't alone, so that was frustrating. I lost my first two sweet 16 teams in the final games thanks to a 13 over a 4 and FSU's poor shot selection. Oh well.

Wrong Picks

  • Skye: Wake Forest, Boston College, Temple, Steven F. Austin, VCU, FSU
  • Andy: Utah, WVU, BYU, Utah State, FSU, Butler, Illinois, Clemson
  • Goose: OSU, Wake, WVU, BYU, Cal, Clemson, Illinois, Butler, Tennessee
  • Grif: OSU, Wake, WVU, BYU, Utah State, Cal, Tennessee, FSU, Butler, Illinois, Clemson

As mentioned, I lost my first two sweet 16 teams in the last group of games in Wake and FSU, while Skye lost the same two as well as Cinderella attempt Steven F. Austin. Andy is in the best shape, losing only Utah out of his teams to survive the weekend. Goose only lost two in Wake and WVU, but he had WVU making it to the Elite Eight.

It's sad to have the best two days of the best weekend in sports gone. I have no clever remarks.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

March Madness Day 2 Live Blog

AtH Bracket Competition Day 1

Not much to report today in the AtH contest to see who can correctly guess the random outcome of a single elimination tournament involving 63 games played by college kids. Especially since day 1 is pretty insignificant in the grand scheme.

Skye, as girls tend to do, takes the early lead, having picked 14 of 16 games right today. She tripped up on picking VCU in the upset and, just like everyone, Butler over LSU. Andy went 12/16 while Goose and I both went 11/16. None of this really matters, though, since a 3 point spread is tiny and none of us lost a single Sweet 16 team. Though I pushed it with my "I don't want to be boring" UCLA Final Four pick getting pushed to the wire.

I was going to post pictures, but it didn't want to work and I'm tired.

There will be another live blog tomorrow.

Good night, everyone.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

March Madness Day 1 Live Blog (Noon Eastern, 9 A.M. Pacific)

Well, since this is the first day we have the blog for the Single Greatest Day in All of Sports, I thought I'd see how a live blog goes. I make sure to always keep my schedule open for the first round of the tournament, so I'll be here all day if anyone is stuck at work and has any questions or just wants to read my ramblings.

Should be good times! Come on in and bother me if you're around.

Moments in Strange Modeling

No, not that. I will let others speak on that front. I'm referring to this video from the LA Times (got this from "Awful Announcing"):

This man has no respect for himself or the newspaper industry.

Matt Wieters Can Slam a Revolving Door

If you didn't know already (which is blasphemy), Matt Wieters, a man who has never taken an at-bat above AA in his life, is projected by PECOTA to put up a .311/.395/.546 line this season. That would, um, lead the league. As a rookie catcher.

That is, of course, amazing. Less amazing, however, if you don't understand Wieters. See, one of the many flaws of PECOTA -- besides not having gray hair -- is that it doesn't tell you about the player's real life story. It's just a bunch of ridiculous stats. If one actually knew the background of Matthew McGillicutty Atticus Finch Numbers Leviticus Britney Joe Wieters III, Esquire, then PECOTA's projection for him would just be obvious fact, not stunning guess.

Fortunately, we have the commenters at Baseball Think Factory to fill us in on the facts of Matt Wieters. Forgotten on this list are the facts that Matt Wieters is the money you could be saving with Geico, that he knows the exact location of Carmen Sandiego, that he is the reason Waldo is missing, and that Carl Everett does not believe in Matt Wieters.

Still, they did a pretty good job:

  • Wieters' PECOTA is so good they are trying to figure out a new WIETERS projection system.

  • I loved the top comps: Alex Gordon and Ben Grieve. I mean, imagine the nerve of someone to compare Alex Gordon and Ben Grieve to the greatest ballplayer of our generation.

  • There are no sports curses, only teams that Matt Wieters doesn't like.

  • When a pitcher plunks Matt Wieters, the ball is awarded first base for enduring the pain.

  • According to Matt Wieters' calender, there are actually TWO Octobers.

  • Matt Wieters is accepted by the U.N. as a sovereign nation and will participate in the 2013 WBC.

  • Matt Wieters took batting practice this morning. There were no survivors.

  • Matt Wieters taught Sparky Lyle how to throw a slider, Hoyt Wilhelm how to grip a screwball, and revived Charlie Hough's minor league career by showing him a pitch he had invented just moments prior called the knuckleball. All "knuckleballs" thrown prior to that moment were actually figments of collective imagination. While filling in the gaps in the space/time continuum by creating false memories of 1940s knuckleballs, Wieters accidentally revealed the curveball to Candy Cummings in a dream. And from that moment on, the Law of Unintended Consequences became The Law of Whatever the Hell Matt Wieters Says Will Fucking Happen.

  • The so-called Large Hadron Collider? Just Matt Wieters facing off against Stephen Strasburg.

  • Every love song ever written is about Matt Wieters. Good thing Matt Wieters is a switch hitter. Does that mean Matt Wieters swings both ways? No. Both ways swing Matt Wieters.

  • Matt Wieters is so damn good that even his intangibles are tangible.

  • Once, when his team was losing by four runs in the bottom of the ninth, Matt Wieters hit a six-run homer to win the game. He didn't think anyone would believe a five-run homer.

  • Matt Wieters can make an omelette without breaking any eggs.

  • Bob Gibson admits that the inside of the plate belongs to Matt Weiters.

  • Matt Wieters was once drafted #2 in a fantasy league. The team drafting #1 was immediately kicked out of the league for collusion.

  • Matt Wieters drank Daniel Day-Lewis' milkshake.

  • Matt Wieters knows who Karim Garcia is.

  • Matt Wieters remembers all the names of Rickey Henderson's teammates, including the two guys who wear helmets in the field.

  • I had something hilarious to say here, but Matt Wieters thought of it first.

  • The mere thought of Matt Wieters can cause a Weeble to fall down.

And, of course, the absolute cream of the crop: Matt Wieter's mother's basement is so big that you can actually go to a baseball game in it.

Not to be lost is this little gem, not a fact as much as a pitch:

Hi, it’s Vince with Mattwow! You’ll be saying WOW every time you use this catcher! He’s like a chamois! He’s like a towel! He’s like a sponge. A regular towel doesn’t work wet - He works wet or dry. He is for the house, the car, the boat, the RV! Mattwow! holds twenty times his weight in liquid. Look at this! He just does the work! Why do you want to work twice as hard? He doesn’t drip, doesn’t make a mess. You wring him out, wash him in the washing machine. He is made in Goose Creek, you know they always make good stuff. You can cut him in half, use half of him as a bath mat, drain your dishes with the other half, use him as a towel. Olympic divers, they use him as a towel. Look at that! Completely dry! Put a wet sweater, roll it up, he dries your sweaters. Here’s some cola, wine, coffee and pet stains. Not only is the damage gonna be on top - there’s your mildew. That is going to smell! See that? The most absorbing We’re gonna do this in real time! Look at this! Put him on the spill, turn it over! Without even putting pressure, fifty percent of the cola right there. You follow me, camera guy? The other fifty percent, the color starts to come up. No other catcher's gonna do that! He acts like a vacuum! And look at this - virtually dry on the bottom! See what I’m telling ya? MATTWOW! You’ll be saying WOW every time!

This is Clearly a Man Who Hates Baseball

And this is clearly a team participating in an exhibition they don't take seriously.
Photo courtesy of

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Breaking News: Woody Paige Says Something Smart

As I’m sure you’ve heard over ESPN and countless other sports media, Jay Cutler wants out of Denver. The situation is ridiculous on multiple levels. First off is McDaniels willingness to trade Cutler for Cassel. Why do this? Jay Cutler is one of the best young quarterbacks in the league, and put up a pro bowl season last year after leading the AFC in passing. He wanted to establish his presence as the head coach and show the team who‘s the boss. Unfortunately, you probably don’t want to do it by alienating your offensive star.

Cutler isn’t innocent in this either. While its understandable that he was angered by the trade talks, what he has done since the initial report came out is unacceptable. He has said he loves playing in Denver, so now why does he want out? Wouldn’t it be the ultimate form of “I-told-you-so” to stay in Denver and show McDaniels he shouldn‘t have tried to trade him for Cassel? Cutler doesn’t actually want to leave Denver, he just doesn’t want to back down because he has a head harder than steel reinforced carbon fiber.

Cutler doesn’t want to look like he gave in to McDaniels and make it seem like he thought the trade talk was alright, and McDaniels doesn’t want to make it look like he backed down from Cutler’s challenge. Yesterday on Around The Horn, Woody Paige put it fairly accurately when he said, “There’s too much testosterone in the room. Everyone wants to think they won.” He’s right(Which is really scary. I was expecting Ragnarök or Revelation after he said it). McDaniels and Cutler need to let the entire thing be and come back when they’re ready to stop acting like stubborn children.

"No Shit Sherlock" Video of the Day

That's right, folks. Believe it or not, walks with no outs and nobody on base can actually be more damaging than walks with two outs and nobody on base. I know, mind-boggling.

Man, I really miss FJM.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Stay Tuned

And That Happened will be officially embarrassing itself via bracket challenge.

Good times!

My secret Final Four of Cleveland State, Utah State, Butler and American is the key to victory. Goose, I believe, uses a dart board and Andy is well known for his love of certain mascots ("The more feathers the better, I say.") Rook just uses alphabetical order, which works out far too well.

Some day, Xavier. Some day.

Oh, there will also probably be a live blog.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Fidel Castro: A Man After My Own Heart

Not only the dictator thing or the inability to die, but this awesomeness:

The game between the teams from Japan and South Korea, Cuba’s strongest opponents, took place on Monday March 9. The score was 1-0 in favor of the latter and Japan only had two more opportunities to bat.

The dangerous and emblematic Ichiro, who had already failed on three occasions, hit a single.

The Japanese coach ordered a bunt from the second – and without doubt first-rate – batter of the team, and as a result, presented the opponents with their second out.

I am sure that, for our experienced team, that would seemed an error whichever elemental way it is analyzed.

Fidel Castro: Communist, Dictator, Immortal and Crusader Against the Making of Useless Outs.

Photo courtesy of the Onion.

Paragraphs are Great...

Unless you're Mr. Plaschke in this article about Andruw Jones:
"Are you saying you're sorry?"

For being below replacement level in '08 in under half a season? I'm sure Andruw does. If not, he needs a lesson in humility.
Later this day at Surprise Stadium, he will stroke through a fastball from new Dodger Claudio Vargas, driving it off the left-field bullpen roof for his first home run of the spring.

A nasty bite of the hand that still feeds him $22 million.

This is spring training right? The monetary loss hurts, no doubt. Even so, I highly doubt the McCourts are going to rue that home run.
"Are you saying you're sorry?"

He's not hard of hearing, Plaschke!
Are you sorry for showing up at spring training looking like a blue manatee? Sorry for not working hard enough to fix that weight? Sorry for ripping the fans who booed you for that weight? Sorry for asking to be put on the disabled list so you could disappear from those boos?

Unless I've heard otherwise, he did have a legitimate knee injury. The extra weight didn't help but let's not create phantom injuries. Did you even ask all that?
The first thing you notice about Andruw Jones this spring is the one thing you don't notice.

No belly.

Did that really need to be its own sentence? Heck, that's not even a sentence. I appreciate that you reporters get to do stuff most bloggers are unable/unwilling to do but let's not take that for granted. ;)
"Oh, I lost quite a few pounds," he says. "Somewhere in the 20s."

I need your diet plan, Mr. Jones. Tell me the secret!
Now he loses the weight. Now he hits the home run. Now he is being paid $500,000 plus incentives, the deal of the year if he performs. Wonderful.

You act shocked. Why? Humiliation will do that to people.
He had been the centerpiece winter signing, a slugger who could play a Gold Glove center field and swing a World Series bat, and I even wrote he was a bargain.

I admire the symbolism but what in the world is a "World Series bat"? In theory, if a team makes the World Series, the hitters, no matter how bad, will have a "World Series bat."

Oh, you mean this? Perhaps I underestimated you, Bill. Maybe I should not be so hard on you.
Although he has denied using performance-enhancing drugs, his weight gain and power decrease are classic symptoms of steroid users who suddenly stop.

Oh, never mind. When did weight gain become a "classic symptom"? Weakness, sure. As much as I disagree with his stance on PEDs and the Hall, at least Tom Verducci looks as though he has done some decent research. Where are you?
In his first plate appearance, in a matchup straight from Colletti's worst nightmares, in a duel that represented potentially 83 million lost Dodgers dollars, Jones faced a guy named Jason Schmidt.

Who struck him out looking[sic]

Apology accepted.

I got to use a sic! If this was improper, just notify me.

Somewhere, Rook is undecided who raises his ire more: Plaschke, Andruw, or me.

Geek Out

Remember that video I took of the MLB Network and put up on this blog?

Well, I went by it today and saw 633 new clicks in "statistics," and when I looked at the URL. . . it was none other than the best baseball writer himself! Joe Posnanski linking to my video that I merely ripped from TV using a digital camera!

Okay, it's a small thing, but I still think it's awesome. And, more importantly, Joe broke down and addressed the video far better than any of us could. So you really should read his take.

You should also read his story on Albert Pujols in this week's Sports Illustrated.

Side Note: there are 85 clicks from this blog. Do we really have 85 readers? Why are you people not commenting?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Live Blog: USA vs. Venezuela Pool C Final

For all of you folks who don't have the MLB Network, thought I'd see how this goes over.

Bang for your Buck: Seattle Mariners

2009 Projected Lineup

C- Kenji Johjima
'09 Salary: $8.0 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $1.4 Million
1B- Russell Branyan
'09 Salary: $1.4 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $5.3 Million (50 Games)
2B- Jose Lopez
'09 Salary: $1.6 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $10.4 Million
3B- Adrian Beltre
'09 Salary: $12.0 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $18.8 Million
SS- Yuniesky Betancourt
'09 Salary: $2.0 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $0.9 Million
LF- Ken Griffey Jr.
'09 Salary: $2.0 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $0.7 Million
CF- Franklin Gutierrez
'09 Salary: $0.4 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $10.3 Million
RF- Ichiro Suzuki
'09 Salary: $17.0 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $17.5 Million
DH- Jeff Clement
'09 Salary: $0.4 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $0.9 Million (66 Games)
SP- Felix Hernandez
'09 Salary: $3.8 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $17.1 Million
SP- Erik Bedard
'09 Salary: $7.75 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $4.7 Million (81 Inn)
SP- Jarrod Washburn
'09 Salary: $10.35 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $5.7 Million
SP- Carlos Silva
'09 Salary: $11.0 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $6.6 Million
SP- Ryan Rowland-Smith
'09 Salary: $0.4 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $3.6 Million
CL- Mark Lowe
'09 Salary: $0.4 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $0.5 Million

-Of These 15 Players-
Total Player Salaries: $78.5 Million
Total Player Dollar Value: $104.4 Million

Best Contract
Jose Lopez- 4 years/$6.07M (2007-10)
It was a little tougher to find a "best" contract on this team, per se. Adrian Beltre and Ichiro Suzuki both have good contracts, but in both cases they're isn't really much of a disparity between their real intrinsic value and what they are being paid. Lopez, on the other hand, is making a total of about $6 million over four years when just this past season he was worth $10.4 million. What he does over these next couple seasons will prove whether this contract merited any kind of significance at all, but given the fact that he's young and plays second base with above average power, it seems reasonable to believe that he'll at least be considerably more valuable than the $1.52 million average annual salary given his contract. His OBP needs some obvious work, though.

Worst Contract
Carlos Silva- 4 years/$48M (2008-11)
Contrary to popular belief, Silva's '07 season was pretty decent and ended up being worth roughly $13.4 million. So the Mariners weren't completely insane for giving him such a lucrative deal. However, if 2008 was any indication, the remainder of this contract isn't going to be a very fun ride for Seattle. He finished 28th in the AL in FIP and was worth about $6.6 million. He's due to receive about $11 million annually over the next three years. He's only been worth that much once in his career, and he turns 30 next month. I definitely wouldn't put this as one of the worst contracts in baseball. There's certainly many more out there that make this actually look like a good deal. On Seattle's ballclub, though, this is probably the worst one you'll find.

2009 Outlook
It's a small sample size, but so far the Mariners easily have the worst discrepancy as far as salaries and dollar value. Whereas the Angels and Rangers both saw their clubs being worth about twice as much they're bing paid, the Mariners don't come close to matching that same mark. According to '08 production and dollar values, the Mariners players will produce roughly $26 million more than what they're being paid. I guess you can say that as long as the disparity is positive, it's good. But you must also keep in mind that this includes players (such as "King Felix") who are under control and getting drastically underpaid. So to only be $26 million ahead while considering facts like that puts things in perspective a bit. As far as "bang for your buck" goes, it looks like the Mariners will be giving out plenty of the latter without receiving much of the former.

Next up: Skye's Oakland Athletics!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bang for your Buck: Texas Rangers

2009 Projected Lineup

C- Jarrod Saltalamacchia
'09 Salary: $0.410 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $3.8 Million (61 Games)
1B- Chris Davis
'09 Salary: $0.406 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $5.4 Million (80 Games)
2B- Ian Kinsler
'09 Salary: $3.0 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $20.3 Million
3B- Michael Young
'09 Salary: $16.0 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $11.6 Million
SS- Elvis Andrus
'09 Salary: N/A
'08 Dollar Value: N/A
LF- David Murphy
'09 Salary: $0.414 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $7.6 Million
CF- Josh Hamilton
'09 Salary: $0.555 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $18.6 Million
RF- Nelson Cruz
'09 Salary: $0.408 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $7.2 Million (31 Games)
DH- Hank Blalock
'09 Salary: $6.2 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $3.1 Million (65 Games)
SP- Kevin Millwood
'09 Salary: $11.0 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $15.3 Million
SP- Vicente Padilla
'09 Salary: $12.0 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $7.3 Million
SP- Scott Feldman
'09 Salary: $0.434 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $4.2 Million
SP- Matt Harrison
'09 Salary: $0.405 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $3.0 Million
SP- Brandon McCarthy
'09 Salary: $0.650 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $0.7 Million
CL- Frank Francisco
'09 Salary: $1.6 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $6.9 Million

-Of These 15 Players-
'09 Total Player Salaries: $53.44 Million
'08 Total Player Dollar Value: $115.0 Million

Best Contract
Ian Kinsler- 5 years/$22M (2008-12)
This may be a bit premature, but if Kinsler can produce anything close to what he did last year over the course of the next few seasons, he will be overwhelmingly more valuable than the average annual salary of $4.4 million that he's scheduled to make. Through his first three seasons Kinsler has made a combined total of $1.4 million, while being worth more than $30 million.
Another contract that deserves at least an honorable mention is Kevin Millwood's 5 year/$60M deal (2006-2010). To those who just look at ERA this may look like one of the uglier contracts in baseball. In 2008, for example, he ranked 36th in the AL with a 5.07 ERA. However, if you look at more valuable statistics, such as FIP, he ranked 19th (4.03 FIP), right behind Mark Buerhle and ahead of players such as Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joe Saunders, and John Lackey--just to name a few. In the three years he's been with Texas, Millwood has made $28.1 million, while being worth $45.5 million.

Worst Contract
Michael Young- 5 years/$80M (2009-13)
This contract probably isn't quite as bad as some people would make it out to be, but it's still pretty awful. His offensive value has deteriorated rather significantly in each of the last four seasons. It also doesn't help that he's moving to a position (third base) with a much higher demand for offensive production than his previous position. He's 32 years old, he'll be making roughly $16 million each of the next five seasons, and his best season ever as a shortstop saw him being worth about $12.7 million. I take it back, this contract probably is as bad as most people make it out to be. Young was wise in ultimately deciding to accept the move to third base, because chances are that he won't come close to being worth the ridiculous amount their paying him for the next five years.

2009 Outlook
I was a little surprised to see just how well the majority of the Rangers' contracts are structured. Aside from Michael Young, most of these deals are at least reasonable, if not very good. They obviously need some help in the rotation as far as production goes. Padilla hasn't been awful, but he's not really the kind of pitcher you want as your number two. Andrus is a question mark at shortstop as well. He has good speed on the bases (54 SB last year in AA) and decent range at short, but his other offensive numbers are rather suspect. It wouldn't be much of a surprise to see Young back at short before the season's end.
As far as getting the most value out of your players, though, the Rangers will in all likelihood fair extremely well. With players like Hamilton, Davis, and Murphy making next to nothing, your payroll's going to look pretty good. Of the 15 projected regulars, based on '08 production the Rangers will be worth roughly $61.56 million more than what they're getting paid. Not too bad for a ballclub who's payroll isn't very high to begin with.

Next up: Andy's Seattle Mariners!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Just an Observation

Adam Dunn sure does hate baseball.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Friday, March 6, 2009

Bang for your Buck: Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim

Man, I really hate that name. Keep in mind that the values and dollar figures are based off of 2008 production and salaries.

2009 Projected Lineup

C- Mike Napoli
'09 Salary: $2.0 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $14.1 Million
1B- Kenry Morales
'09 Salary: $0.6 Million
'08 Dollar Value: -$1.3 Million
2B- Howie Kendrick
'09 Salary: $0.465 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $6.4 Million
3B- Chone Figgins
'09 Salary: $5.775 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $10.6 Million
SS- Eric Aybar
'09 Salary: $0.46 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $8.0 Million
LF- Bobby Abreu
'09 Salary: $5.0 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $6.8 Million
CF- Torii Hunter
'09 Salary: $17.5 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $10.5 Million
RF- Vladimir Guerrero
'09 Salary: $15.0 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $11.0 Million
DH- Juan Rivera
'09 Salary: $3.25 Million
'08 Dollar Value: -$3.0 Million
SP- John Lackey
'09 Salary: $9.0 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $8.9 Million
SP- Ervin Santana
'09 Salary: $3.8 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $26.1 Million
SP- Joe Saunders
'09 Salary: $0.475 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $12.4 Million
SP- Jered Weaver
'09 Salary: $0.465 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $15.2 Million
SP- Dustin Moseley
'09 Salary: $0.42 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $2.6 Million
CL- Brian Fuentes
'09 Salary: $8.5 Million
'08 Dollar Value: $11.1 Million

-Of These 15 Players-
'09 Player Total Salaries: $72.71 Million
'08 Player Total Dollar Value: $142.4 Million

Best Contract

John Lackey- Even with his down season last year (due to injury, mind you), this is still one of the best contracts in baseball. He signed a 3 year, $17.01 million in 2006. Since then, he has been worth a total of $53.9 million, which comes out to about $37.5 million more than what he has earned. Lackey also had a $9 million club option for '09 that was picked up this offseason, which is the most he's ever made for one season. Although, chances are he will still be worth more.

Worst Contract

Gary Matthews Jr.- Here's the facts:
-5 Years, $50 Million
-Total salary over first two years of contract = $15.0 million
-Total value over first two years of contract = $1.2 million

This guy is going to make $33 million over the next three years, while probably not even being worth half of that. Half would actually be good. Chances are that Matthews won't even have a spot in the Angels lineup anytime soon. Many people wondered what the Halos were thinking when they signed this contract. Luckily, the Angels made up for it with another ill-advised deal the following year with Torii Hunter.

2009 Outlook

As far as getting the most "bang for your buck", the Angels will probably fair pretty decently this year. Other than Guerrero, Hunter, and Matthews Jr., virtually everyone else on the roster is likely to perform better than what they are worth. If the aformentioned players perform as they did in 2008, their projected lineup (15 players) will be worth roughly $69.94 million more than the sum or their total '09 salaries. Obviously, that's assuming that a lot of things go right. And of course, as I finished this post I found out that Ervin Santana just suffered an injury. Oh well.

Next up: Grif's Texas Rangers!

Best Bang for your Buck

I decided that I'm going to take a look at each team's salary and players in order to try and determine how much "bang for their buck" each ballclub receives. The guys over at Fangraphs are smarter than I could ever be, so I will primarily be using their "dollar" win values to gauge the respective value of teams and players.

I'll start it up shortly with the ever so exciting AL West. Enjoy.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Ozzie Smith: Plus Offensive Player

I cannot convey how sick I am of hearing "Ozzie Smith is in the Hall of Fame despite his offense, which was bad," or something to that extent. While the voters may have thought that way, the implications are that either Smith was a mistake or all other all-glove/no-stick players should get in and that Smith was a liability on offense.

He was not. Ozzie Smith was an asset on offense. Not a world-beater, but an asset.

Simple stats just for some simple context, first. Ozzie didn't have a lot of contact ability, average .262 for his career and hitting .300 once, or power, never slugging .400 and going .328 for his career in a .390 league. He was, however, a good on-base player, getting on at a clip of .337 in a .328 league for his career, and, as with all things and all players, better in his all-important peak. And what he lacked in power, he somewhat made up with an ability to steal bases; 580 at a 79% clip for his career, in fact, being over 80% almost every season.

So, in an era of low offense, Ozzie was above average at avoiding outs and helped add bases himself to partly make up for his deficiency. Now for something a little more advanced.

First, EqA by Baseball Prospectus. Remember: league-average is always .260. Ozzie, for his career, was a .262 player. Average. Not bad. Average. And that's career, including a pretty bad decline. Let's look at his peak 10 years.

1983: .257
1984: .277
1985: .279
1986: .278
1987: .289
1988: .284
1989: .273
1990: .252
1991: .294
1992: .287

That's pretty damn good. No worse than almost average other than once, and well above average many others.

Now, via FanGraphs, we'll look at wOBA and wRAA in those same years.

1983: .304/-7.1
1984: .325/2.7
1985: .327/4.4
1986: .329/4.0
1987: .357/18.6
1988: .331/9.4
1989: .323/4.7
1990: .301/-8.0
1991: .352/16.6
1992: .339/9.9

About the same look: never that great, but usually about average and occasionally very good. For his career, Oz was a .311 wOBA guy with -73.6 wRAA. Subtract his awful last four seasons and his first three seasons, though, and you get 23.1 runs above average for his career, and that's with a pretty bad -19.7 fourth year still included.

So, Ozzie Smith was pretty much close to an average offensive weapon, and in his peak pretty well above average.

BUT that's average for a Major Leaguer and Ozzie Smith was a shortstop. Average at shortstop is a plus offensive player. The average shorstop EqA'd .237-.248 from 1983-92, and only three years ('88 .248 and '91-'92 .247 each) were above .243 (and, in fact, six of the ten seasons were exactly .243, this stuff is pretty constant). So, while Ozzie was EqAing typically in the mid .270s or better at his position in his prime and was a .262 for his career, the average player at his position was around .240. So he was not just an average offensive player in Major League terms, WHICH IS NOT BAD, he was well above average for the expectations of his position.

In summary: the next time someone calls Ozzie Smith a liability on offense or anything similar, slap them, tell them to do their home work and about league context, base running and positional value. For most of his career, the Wizard of Oz was a valuable asset on offense. Couple that with mind-bending defense, and he's easily a Hall of Fame caliber player. Maybe not because of his bat, but definitely not despite his bat.