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  1. That is an excellent piece of analysis! I suspect the Indians could be THE team that decides the winner of the Central. Though i also expect it won’t be them that does the winning.

    Comment by NickB — February 12, 2013 @ 12:10 pm

  2. Cleveland’s ripping off Beane’s Moneyball 3.0 recipe: All outfielders have be CFs; use as many platoons as possible. Dunno if Cleveland has caught onto the whole “have as much depth as organizationally possible” segment yet though.

    Comment by Forrest Gumption — February 12, 2013 @ 12:12 pm

  3. It’s difficult when you draft as horribly as Cleveland has recently. I’m really impressed with their FO after this offseason though, and I expect good things from them moving forward.

    Comment by Chris — February 12, 2013 @ 12:19 pm

  4. The only way this fails is if those fly balls become dingers. I like this move for them, but boy, do they need pitching.

    Comment by Eminor3rd — February 12, 2013 @ 12:22 pm

  5. Brantley, Bourn, Stubbs vs Trout, Bourjos, Hamilton

    Genuine question, which defensive outfield is preferred?

    Because the Indians’ pitching staff is lacking I think the defensive prowess of this new outfield (at least part time) will have a greater impact than it would most teams simply for the fact that they have more balls in play to catch.

    Comment by JeffMathisCera — February 12, 2013 @ 12:22 pm

  6. Odd that Brett Myers has allowed 1.26 hr/9 while maintaining a below average flyball rate over his long career.

    Comment by ClintC — February 12, 2013 @ 12:27 pm

  7. This is so Rays 2008

    Comment by MakeitRayn — February 12, 2013 @ 12:42 pm

  8. While Myers isn’t a stud and Bauer is kind of an unknown, Cleveland has made significant improvements to it’s pitching staff as well as there offense. Putting in a great defensive outfield is huge for the pitching staff. If they can either extend Cabrera and trade Lindor or promote Lindor and get another solid pitcher for Cabrera, next year the central could get interesting. Add in a developing group of kids in KC and we could see some new blood in the playoffs!

    Comment by SKob — February 12, 2013 @ 12:55 pm

  9. Let’s recall that Oakland during those runs had “excellent” to “very good” starting pitching each time. Oakland has always had the arms, which has allowed Mr. Beane the liberty to mix-match the fielding positions. Even last year, they had the pitching. I think they should have held onto McCarthy for that price, but I’m sure they had their reasons. They seem to have a knack for finding young arms that pan out. Anyone else notice this?

    Cleveland does not have the arms. Looks like a half moneyball to me!

    Comment by Ryan — February 12, 2013 @ 1:01 pm

  10. Great article Dave, I was really surpsied when I kept reading that people were expecting Bourne to displace Brantley or Stubbs but really this article is about pushing them to better DH platoons. I absolutely love this and the Swisher move and am glad that you have agreed.

    Comment by eddiegaedel — February 12, 2013 @ 1:14 pm

  11. That’s not a real question.

    Comment by Oliver — February 12, 2013 @ 1:30 pm

  12. How long is it going to take before teams figure out that they can maximize the effectiveness of their rosters by going away from the Tony LaRussa philosophy of carrying 24 pitchers ,each with a rigidly defined role ,and changing pitchers 3 times in the 4th inning of a 7-0 game ?

    Comment by Dirck — February 12, 2013 @ 1:42 pm

  13. Yeah, because no managers would like to have LaRussa’s success.

    Not that I disagree with you, but we have to stop acting like TLR’s stuff didn’t work.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — February 12, 2013 @ 1:55 pm

  14. Most of it comes from Philly

    nearly 1.5 HR/9 in 472 IP when pitching in Citizens Bank…

    Otherwise his numbers are relatively flat considering fluctuations

    Comment by blahblahblah — February 12, 2013 @ 2:09 pm

  15. But it’s genuine!

    Comment by scraps — February 12, 2013 @ 2:34 pm

  16. Where I can I find that platoon advantage data?

    Comment by Trevor Robinson — February 12, 2013 @ 2:49 pm

  17. I thought the Moneyball 3.0 was a combination of high ISO platoon dudes and a wide selection of super utility infielders.

    Comment by Bab — February 12, 2013 @ 3:11 pm

  18. Loosechangeball?

    Comment by Radivel — February 12, 2013 @ 3:36 pm

  19. The only flaw I see to the argument is the Jason Giambi being the Lefty DH part. He still has a good batting eye as he posted an OBP over 370 last year. Still the 1 homerun in 120 plate apps with the Coors effect in place is kinda scary. At 42 I’m not sure if he can be Thomeesque. Can he really hold up for 350-400 plate appearances as that division is heavily right handed when it comes to starting pitching. However Dave you are correct. That Outfield defense should be swell and help out a young pitcher like Bauer alot. It will be interesting to see if numbers at the end of the year prove some of this true. Cool article and an interesting spin on the same old platoon usages. It seems like the Tribe is trying to maximize the value of the players on the roster by combining strengths by thinking outside the box a bit. When you have platoons that are just the old school lefty vs. righty you can really hamstring the depth on your roster.

    Comment by Spit Ball — February 12, 2013 @ 4:21 pm

  20. So the Indians become the Royals of the AL Central? Lot of offense but no pitching. Wait. What?

    Comment by Travis Marshall — February 12, 2013 @ 4:25 pm

  21. Crap, they’re on to us.

    Comment by B Cashman — February 12, 2013 @ 5:13 pm

  22. Yeah, why didn’t the Tribe just get the real Jim Thome? I’m sure he would have been into it.

    Comment by Steve — February 12, 2013 @ 5:16 pm

  23. As I stated in the other piece, I hope for Cleveland’s sake that Bourn’s arrival pushes Drew Stubbs to the bench. His defense has value, but is it really enough to offset his atrocious approach at the plate? Using him as a late inning pinch runner and defensive replacement would play to his strengths.

    Comment by jdbolick — February 12, 2013 @ 5:35 pm

  24. Circle Change ,the worst thing about the LaRussa-ization of baseball is that he made the game deadly boring . I doubt if anyone goes to a baseball game to watch an ex-lawyer try to prove that he is smarter than everybody else .

    Comment by Dirck — February 12, 2013 @ 5:39 pm

  25. What managers have used defensive platoons based on their starting pitcher? If I recall correctly, mid 80′s Mets, Davey Johnson used Howard Johnson as ss behind flyballers and 3b behind groundballers with Kevin Elster as ss.

    Comment by james revere — February 12, 2013 @ 6:00 pm

  26. not in the least – the Indians didnt vastly overpay for mediocre at best (and one good) pitchers just to give themselves a false sense of upgrading a single flaw…

    …infact, it should be argued the Indians underpaid (to greatly underpaid) everywhere in an effort to upgrade every other aspect of the Game while taking under-appreciated players to simultaneously upgrade their rotation needs

    in total, the Indians will pay their entire 2013 roster (66.2 mil) not that much more then the new Royals 2013 rotation really (41.86 mil in 2013 going to Shields, Santana, Guthrie, Davis, Hochevar, Paulino & Chen)

    And when you consider the Royals have promised 102 million overall to just 1 year of Shields, Santana, Luke, Chen & Paully plus 3 years of Guthrie & Davis – well thats a gigantic chunk of cash (plus prospects, one of which is extreme) for 6 mediocre (at absolute best) and 1 good pitcher

    And in the end, I would still feel much, much, much more comfortable running out (mainly upside/rebound-capable guys) Masterson, Jimenez, Myers, Bauer, McAllister & Matsuzaka in front of that new Defense then the crud + Shields the Royals will sport after the fortune they spent

    I honestly think the two teams become a perfect example of how to try things wisely verses how to cut off your nose to spite your face

    Comment by blahblahblah — February 12, 2013 @ 6:11 pm

  27. Also interesting that Giambi has had a reverse platoon split in 3 of his last 4 years. He has a sub-.700 OPS vs. RHP in those seasons. Combined with his age and the Coors Effect, which also has him sub-.700 on the road, I wonder if he should even make the roster.

    Comment by Tribescribe — February 12, 2013 @ 6:53 pm

  28. Bourn and Stubbs are natural platoon partners, though Bourn’s contract and superior defense will probably keep him in the lineup. The runs Bourn saves over Stubbs might not outweigh the runs he gives away at the plate vs. LHP.

    Comment by Tribescribe — February 12, 2013 @ 6:57 pm

  29. Tout and Bourjos have legitimate shots at being the best fielding CF/LF in baseball this year, but Hamilton is really the odd man out and probably not better than league average in Right. Indians don’t quite have the elite range, but have greater consistency across the board, with all of their guys grading out as top 10-15 CFs

    Comment by David — February 12, 2013 @ 8:41 pm

  30. Good article and interesting points about the Tribe’s willingness to use the platoon advantage. There’s one small problem. It’s sort of assumed in the article that the platoon advantage is always an… advantage. Then you look at the leaderboards and note that they were 13th in the AL in wOBA last year. Which is why they went out and got all these guys. Then again, the RF they traded was a better hitter than any of the guys they just added.

    Oh well, all they have to do is have their pitchers make hitters hit fly balls to Bourn and they’ll win the division. Man, this plan sounds familiar. Did George Costanza propose something like this to Big Stein?

    Comment by Paul — February 12, 2013 @ 9:58 pm

  31. You have to play Stubbs regularly for his defense and speed. He is a good bottom of the lineup guy 15 to 20 home runs and 30 to 40 sb for a bottom three hitter with excellent defense. Who cares about his batting average

    Comment by Brad — February 12, 2013 @ 10:09 pm

  32. yes, that…and also that there’s more to OF defense than catching flys. Granted we can’t really quantify things like cutting off balls to the gap, or even quickly getting to balls ripped down the line into the corner to minimize baserunners advancing, but they still factor in to OF defense.

    Comment by KDL — February 12, 2013 @ 11:10 pm

  33. You have to prove that his, we’ll say, hands-on managing style played a significant role in his teams’ success, before you can use it as a defense of his really boring over-use of relief pitchers.
    There are many managers who have been as or more successful without his All-Star Game style of pitcher use. Did LaRussa stink so badly at other aspects of managing that his relief-pitcher-genius still left him behind these others, but kept him close?

    Comment by KDL — February 12, 2013 @ 11:20 pm

  34. There is nothing to say he won’t continue this approach in the future but…I saw a large % of those 120 PAs last year. Many were in garbage time. Or they were with the Rockies down by 2 with 2 on in the 9th with 2 down (or similar). Tracy pretty much sent him out there to hit a home run. It was rare that he was merely trying to make good contact, or even take a walk. That seems like a pretty easy guy to pitch to.

    Comment by KDL — February 12, 2013 @ 11:25 pm

  35. not sure that youre right in your assumptions – but a very well written view point – thanks for the read

    Comment by rob norton — February 13, 2013 @ 1:04 am

  36. Pagan, Torres, Blanco has to be in this equation.

    Sure, Pence is slotted to start in RF, but you’ll see this alignment regularly in late games with the Giants in the lead. Also, if Pence goes into a prolonged 2012 like slump.

    Pagan is pretty average as a CF, but Torres is amazing, and Blanco is well above average, too.

    Comment by Nivra — February 13, 2013 @ 5:33 am

  37. Drew Stubbs does not have an “atrocious approach at the plate”.

    He is a very patient hitter who swings at bad pitches less than most. He just can’t make contact. Especially on a two strike pitch down the middle. This is why he strikes out so much, poor contact skills not a bad approach.

    Comment by Jeff in Sputhern Indiana — February 13, 2013 @ 6:11 am

  38. I don;t have to prove anything. I was just pointing out that if LaRussa’s teams had lost a bunch and had very little success no one would be crediting his over-managing style nor would anyone emulate it.

    I don’t know if, overall, it’s a significant benefit or not. I pitched in college and I felt our coach’s only really important role was recruiting. That how much importance I put on coaching in baseball.

    To me, it seems that the tough thing in evaluating managers is that each play has such a small effect, so it likely takes a lot of small advantages to add up to something significant and that’s assuming we can all agree on methods, data, definitions, standards, etc.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — February 13, 2013 @ 10:13 am

  39. Did you just go ‘all hail Choo’ on us? Wow! Brantley, Bourn, and Stubbs each make Choo irrelevant on defense. And offensively… really what was the big deal? Stop watching reruns and pay attention.

    Comment by SKob — February 13, 2013 @ 11:42 am

  40. lol i love how you refer to chen, hocevar, paulino, santana etc. as crud…you’re not wrong neccesarily, its just that one of your frontline starters had a worse year in 2012 than Chen and Hochevar and only a marginally better year than Paulino or Guthrie in FIP and WAR…so yeah I wouldn’t go acting like your rotation is so superior to Kansas City’s. Cleveland has more overall potential upside at the top of their rotation (jimenez+masterson) but Kansas City has the best pitcher in Shields and a higher floor overall than Cleveland IMO.

    Also I don’t know how you can argue Cleveland underpaid in their signings of Boourn and swisher. They were both high profile free agents, Cleveland only signed them because they were willing to offer more money + term than any other teams ergo they did not underpay.

    Comment by Jaysfan — February 13, 2013 @ 5:21 pm

  41. I’m honestly not quite sure what you are even talking about; the “floor” for the Royals rotation is that everyone outside Shields could very well be playing their last season as a member of a ML rotation. (and some of them might not even start this year, if there is any mercy)

    Guthrie has the best chance at being a part of a rotation in 2014, almost no matter what he does really, as the amount of money they gave him will probably ensure the chance. But otherwise, who in their right mind other then KC would want Hoch or Chen taking the mound? Paully might not pitch again, or at least outside short bullpen stints. Davis cant start. Santana is a disaster outside West Coast, pitcher friendly Stadiums (.308 wOBA in Anaheim, 3.43 wOBA away; and that includes a .228/.293/.313/.606 line in Oakland and .253/.327/.401/.728 line in Seattle. Infact, of places he has pitched more then 1 game in, he has a career sub 4.40 ERA in only Anaheim, Oakland, Seattle and Boston) — how do you see a high floor here? On the other hand, I can guarantee everyone (baring freak injury) in Clevelands rotation will be starting again next season for at least someone.

    Also, read the actual article – expectations on Bourn were a much higher contract, and the same was expected for Swisher (although to a lesser degree). Circumstances led to them landing in Cleveland, not Cleveland blowing away with larger contract offers (like the one given to Guthrie, for some God knows why reason)

    Comment by blahblahblah — February 13, 2013 @ 7:45 pm

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