Author Archive

Delmon Young & Updated Comparisons

Delmon Young walked 53 times in his first 578 minor league plate appearances. Thereafter, he walked 44 times in 974 plate appearances. Whenever a right fielder with a power stroke, good bat control, and a strong arm comes through the minors with a resistance to the free pass like Young, you can be sure that Vladimir Guerrero comparisons will follow. Sure enough, they did. Fortunately, for Young, he managed to live up to those expectations in 2010.
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The Max Scherzer Trade Revisited

Thirteen months ago, the New York Yankees acquired Curtis Granderson from the Detroit Tigers in a three-way trade. Instead of talk about the Yankees or Tigers, most initial reactions focused on answering what the Arizona Diamondbacks were thinking. After all, trading Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth for Ian Kennedy and Edwin Jackson appeared to be a loss on paper. It’s too early to close the book on the trade, but the Diamondbacks’ return looks a lot better with a season under its belt.

Surprisingly, the Diamondbacks received the most WAR of any trade participant in 2010. Kennedy found his prospect magic and delivered 194 innings with a 4.33 FIP. Jackson, despite a poor ERA, chipped in 21 starts with strong peripherals (4.24 FIP). He ultimately found himself on his way to the Chicago White Sox for Daniel Hudson. Jackson and Hudson matched each other in WAR after the trade – two wins apiece – and thus left the D-Backs with 6.2 wins, which was more than Granderson (who had a five-plus win season) produced or the Tigers’ return. Of course, trade analysis is not that simple.

The most common complaint revolved around Scherzer’s service time and cost. He remains cheaper and further away from free agency than Jackson. Given their contract statuses, Scherzer represented the better choice if they were considered equal in talent and performance expectations. No one outside of the Arizona organization knows just how that comparative analysis looked, but the combustibility concerns that surrounded Scherzer may have tipped the scales in Jackson’s favor.

Scherzer has since changed his mechanics and produced at a ridiculously high level from that point on. Whether he would have received the same adjustments within the Arizona system is up to anyone’s guess. My inclination is to think he would not have made similar adjustments, otherwise that tinkering would have occurred at some point during his developmental process. If that is the case and Scherzer would’ve busted – and really nobody knows the probability of either event – then one can argue the Diamondbacks are actually better off now with Hudson and Kennedy than they would be with Scherzer in tow, particularly since Hudson and Kennedy are cheaper and further away from free agency than Scherzer.


Rafael Soriano’s Quest For Treasure

Analyzing baseball players through the five-tool prism is no longer accurate. Some players can do it all, but lack one skill crucial to their playing careers: not playing the offseason game well. Rafael Soriano stands as the next possible victim of this skill set deficiency, and for the second time in as many winters.

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The Jose Bautista Club

The nature of the season brings about a plethora of articles searching for the next ‘something’. Looking for the next breakout is a popular topic, meaning the search for the next Jose Bautista is going to be overdone. The wise Randy Moss provided the most succinct description of Bautista’s 2010 season when he said, “Take the ball deep and take the top off the defense.” Bautista did on 54 occasions, earning his place in history with the 42nd individual season featuring 50 or more home runs. If history is any indication you can call off the search party before nightfall.
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The Pirates’ Blues

Perhaps no division has seen its pitching staffs improve as much as the National League Central. Additions of Zack Greinke and Matt Garza, the re-signing of Jake Westbrook, and the expulsion of Dave Bush should result in an improved state of pitching. As silly as it sounds, the Pittsburgh Pirates have contributed to this pitching renaissance too. Although lacking in star power, the team has made strides to field a rotation that won’t be the worst in the league next season.
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The Padres Waive Type A

The Padres have a strict budget to adhere to thanks to possibly the worst television deal in baseball and an ownership transfer that may last through 2013. Because of that, Jed Hoyer’s team has to approach free agency with creativity if they hope to compete against teams with financial flexibility for the same players. Factor in how their ballpark limits offensive production and Hoyer has to do a great job of selling his team for desirable players to buy in. As it turns out, Hoyer is already using a clever solution by promising not to offer arbitration if his newly inked free agents reach Type A status, according to Corey Brock of MLB.com.

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Tommy Hanson’s Bandwagon

A question without a correct answer: Who is the National League’s version of Brett Anderson? The answer that felt right to me at the time of this writing: Tommy Hanson.

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The Tigers’ Weakness

The Detroit Tigers have a fighter’s chance at winning the American League Central in 2011. Their lineup is going to score runs behind a middle of the order that figures to feature Miguel Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez, and Victor Martinez. Justin Verlander, one of the most dependable pitchers in the game, is joined in the rotation by the above average Max Scherzer and the seemingly progressing Rick Porcello. Once contract quality is thrown out the window, the bullpen lacks noticeable flaws too, leaving the back end of the rotation as the only potential culprit separating the Tigers from late season contention.
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How Will Toronto’s Offense Fare in 2011?

An uneducated expectation is a dangerous weapon. Just yesterday, while looking over the CAIRO projections one more time, I stumbled upon the Toronto Blue Jays’ modest 74 wins. The Jays fooled me last season – I joined in the fray that figured they would finish below an upstart Baltimore Orioles’ club – with an unexpected brand of offensive voodoo that resulted in roughly 750 runs. They hit a lot of home runs (257; 46 more than the next highest total and more than the Seattle Mariners, Houston Astros, and Albert Pujols combined) and they made a lot of outs (fifth lowest on-base percentage in the league). There’s a reason the Jays are the only team in league history to hit more than 250 home runs and score under 800 runs.
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The Playoffs Sweet Spot

Baseball season is officially creeping ever closer with the release of the first CAIRO projections. With the news cycle a little slow, these projections can serve as discussion fodder but shouldn’t be taken as gospel given the premature state of rosters and depth charts. With those necessary disclaimers out of the way, let’s do some exploring.
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Atkins to Pittsburgh

Brad Hawpe wasn’t the only former Colorado Rockies’ slugger to find a new team over the holiday weekend. For the second consecutive winter, Garrett Atkins will attempt to re-establish himself with a perennial cellar-dweller. The Baltimore phase of his mission went stunningly poor, so his new (minor league) deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates couldn’t possibly go any worse, could it?
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Pondering a Platoon

The Milwaukee Brewers re-signed Craig Counsell yesterday to a one-year pact worth $1.4 million. Counsell spent last season primarily at shortstop while seeing time at second base and third base as well. Despite Counsell’s age – he turned 40 in August – there’s a case to be made that he should find himself in the lineup more often in 2011.

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Boston Signs Dan Wheeler

Theo Epstein is determined to upgrade his bullpen this offseason after a season that saw the Red Sox’ unit finish with the fourth-worst WAR in the league. The attempted seduction of Mariano Rivera and successful tempting of Bobby Jenks may draw more headlines, but the signing of Dan Wheeler is another solid addition to a bullpen that appears formidable on paper.

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Examining Why Kansas City Dealt Zack Greinke

The declarations on how Kansas City fared on the Zack Greinke return varies by expert. Kevin Goldstein tabbed himself a fan of the deal while Keith Law and our own Marc Hulet shared the sentiment of quantity over quality. Regardless of the opinions on the return, why did Kansas City feel the need to move Greinke now?

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Bob Feller (1918-2010)

Sad news tonight as Bob Feller has passed away at the age of 92. Others will undoubtedly share fond stories and memories of Feller the human being, but here’s the statistical spin on one of the game’s greatest pitchers.

During Feller’s 18 season career – interrupted for the 1942-1944 seasons due to his military commitments – he tossed 3,827 innings while striking out 6.33 batters per nine innings. A modest rate in today’s league, but back then, Feller’s ratio led pitchers with at least 1,000 innings pitched, and finished third among pitchers with at least 500 innings pitched – with Vinegar Bend Mizell and Harvey Haddix topping him by under a batter per inning pitched.

He led the American League in Wins Above Replacement two times (1939 and 1940) and finished 128th overall for his career with more than 63. He finished first or second in American League Pitcher WAR six times – every season from 1938 through 1941, and upon his return 1946 and 1947. The league’s strikeout (counting) from 1938-1941 and 1946-1948; Feller’s career 2,581 strikeouts rank 26th overall even today.

Feller was the youngest player going in the American League during the 1936 and 1937 seasons (he was 17 and 18), and the ninth oldest in 1956 (he was 37). A lifelong member of the Cleveland Indians, Feller finished in the top five of MVP voting four times; he won 266 games; pitched well enough to amass a career ERA of 3.25 and a career FIP of 3.48 and entered the Hall of Fame in 1962. All of this to say that Feller knew how to throw a baseball by batters in a more powerful and cunning manner than most pitchers who have entertained this game.

Losing a loved one during the holiday season is an unenviable reality of life for the folks around Feller tonight. Please keep those people in your thoughts during their time of mourning.


Wally Pipp: More Than an Afterthought

Wally Pipp is best known for the circumstances surrounding his removal from the New York Yankees’ lineup. Being the player who directly precedes a legend is tough. Oh sure, the tavern reminiscing about when “that guy played for us” is glamorous, but mostly unfulfilling. Playing accomplishments grow lonely from neglect and, in the worst of cases, become irrelevant- head nod and fist bumps for you, Robert Eenhoorn.

Pipp’s a little different than Eenhoorn though. As this graph illustrates, the man could ball:


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A’s Sign McCarthy

The Athletics held a starting pitching surplus early in the offseason. The Vin Mazzaro trade and failed acquisition of Hisashi Iwakuma led to the need for another starter, and that starter seems to be Brandon McCarthy, who agreed to a one-year deal worth a little over $1 million. The length of the deal is a bit misleading, as McCarthy will not be eligible for free agency until after the 2011 season.
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Astros Add Rotation Options

If the season started tomorrow, the Houston Astros would lack a determined fifth starter. The man who made the fifth most starts for the Astros last season – Felipe Paulino – is now Colorado property, leaving the team with Brett Myers, Wandy Rodriguez, Bud Norris, and J.A. Happ as locked-in starters. The season does not start tomorrow – it’s snowing, sillies – and as such the Astros have the ability to collect options and see who catches their eye during workouts and exhibition games. Over the latter part of the week they added two interesting options. Does either have hope?

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Angels Sign Downs

The old adage about death, taxes, and something consistent being the only fixtures in life has a baseball offseason equivalent. The Royals signing a former Braves’ hotshot, the Red Sox making a splash, and the Angels signing a late-inning reliever are offseason givens. The Halos penned Brian Fuentes and Fernando Rodney to a pair of two-year deals over the last two offseasons, and added this year’s version with Scott Downs on Friday night. Unlike his southpaw predecessor and bullpen teammate, Downs received a three-year deal, not two, with the total worth at $15 million.

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Dodgers Grab Gwynn Jr.

Over the last three seasons, the Dodgers have used Juan Pierre, Reed Johnson, and Garret Anderson as reserve outfielders to begin the season. Their newest signing figures to fill the fourth outfielder role, but the only zombie star power relating to his name ends where the “Jr.” portion begins.

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