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FanGraphs Audio: Dayn Perry Is Sick and Awful

by Carson Cistulli - 12/19/2014 - Comments (5)

Episode 515
Dayn Perry is a contributor to CBS Sports’ Eye on Baseball and the author of three books — one of them not very miserable. He’s also the very ill guest on this edition of FanGraphs Audio.

Don’t hesitate to direct pod-related correspondence to @cistulli on Twitter.

You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or other feeder things.

Audio after the jump. (Approximately 44 min play time.)

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Marlins Exchange Nathan Eovaldi for Depth

by Jeff Sullivan - 12/19/2014 - Comments (32)

A move that wasn’t a Padres move happened Friday.

Yankees send to Marlins:

Marlins send to Yankees:

German is a prospect. Eovaldi has three more years of team control, while Jones has one. Prado has two more years of team control, and Phelps has four, although he’s a Super-Two asset. The way it’s being phrased, the Yankees are chipping in $3 million in each of the next two years to partially pay down Prado’s salary. But if you’d like, you can mentally cancel out the $6 million and German. Now, German is actually an intriguing, live-armed prospect, so his value is probably a little north of $6 million, but they’re close enough to being even. This is mostly about the major-league players, and the one who grabs your attention is Eovaldi. That’s the guy with the big, big upside.

From their end, you can see what the Marlins are doing. They didn’t need Eovaldi, and Phelps is useful enough, and Prado can play all over the place. But from the other side, the Yankees might well be ecstatic. Theirs was a roster in need of help in the rotation. It’s not often you can land an arm like Eovaldi’s without paying through the nose. It was this very player who, a few years ago, got traded for Hanley Ramirez. Eovaldi’s not even 25 years old, and he can run it up to the triple digits.

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Foreshadowing the Padres Spending Spree

by mileswray - 12/19/2014 - Comments (19)

For the first time since perhaps lovable Tony Gwynn Sr. was swattin’ singles around the yard, the San Diego Padres have commanded the full attentions of the baseball world. The architect of these numerous wheelings and dealings, first-year General Manager A.J. Preller, would be hard for even dedicated fans to pick out of a crowd simply because he has been on the job for slightly over four months (and one of those months was the thrilling playoffs, when nobody was too concerned about the Padres).

Today, let’s get to know Preller a little bit via the stray scraps of video interviews that have been released since his hire. Personally, count me a fan of his simultaneously methodical and relaxed demeanor. More importantly, let’s comb through this unofficial archive in search for any clues that the Padres would dramatically reshape their team this offseason. Presented in chronological order:

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One Way to Get Excited About Nathan Eovaldi

by Eno Sarris - 12/19/2014 - Comments (46)

There are plenty of ways to poo-poo Nathan Eovaldi. Dude has thrown 300 changeups and they’ve been bad, for the most part. Dude has gas, but his four-seamer gets only gets average whiffs. Dude’s thrown almost 500 innings and been league average. Dude’s done this in pitcher-friendly parks and leagues and now is headed to Yankee Stadium. Dude.

There’s at least one way to get excited about Eovaldi. By arsenal shape, speed, and peripheral results, he’s pretty much Garrett Richards.

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Job Posting: TrackMan Analytics/Operations Intern

by Paul Swydan - 12/19/2014 - Comments (12)

Position: TrackMan Analytics/Operations Intern

Location: Stamford, Conn.

Description:
Join TrackMan’s team as an Analytics/Operations Intern for TrackMan Baseball, a US based sports technology firm. You will take on a critical role in a small, fast moving entrepreneurial company that is breaking new ground in sports.

In this position, you will primarily be responsible for reviewing TrackMan data from a significant number of MLB, Minor League baseball and NCAA stadiums during the 2015 baseball season. You will also have the opportunity to perform statistical analysis as directed.

The internship starts in mid-February and wraps up at the conclusion of the Major League baseball season. Candidates with only summer availability will also be considered for a shorter term internship.

This is a great opportunity for someone who wants to break into the baseball community and get experience with data available exclusively to professional baseball teams.  Full training is provided and you’ll have the opportunity to work closely with all members of the TrackMan staff and interface with our partner teams.  Weekend and evening availability is important.

Requirements:

  • Excellent knowledge of baseball
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Excel
  • Ability to work independently and collaboratively
  • Strong attention to detail and ability to work well with others

Desired Skills and Experience:

  • Bachelors or Masters degree in Statistics, Mathematics or a related field.
  • Strong knowledge of databases, SQL, and R statistical software
  • Experience working with large baseball related data-sets.
  • Python or other scripting language experience is a plus.

Compensation:

$12.50 an hour

To Apply:

Send a resume to nba@trackman.dk.  No phone calls please.



FG on Fox: Getting Ready for Jung-Ho Kang

by Jeff Sullivan - 12/19/2014 - Comments (36)

What if I told you there’s a shortstop in his 20s, available for presumably less than Ervin Santana money, coming off a year in which he hit 40 dingers with a four-digit OPS? It’s true — all of those things are true. The shortstop’s name is Jung-Ho Kang, and he really did have such a season. It just didn’t take place where you were looking.

It did take place where several different major-league organizations were looking. Maybe you can try to think of Kang as the Troy Tulowitzki of Korea, and while that’s a stretch, it’s pretty damn promising, at least until the “of Korea” part. There’s no debating Kang’s record; the 27-year-old just batted .356 while slugging .739 for Nexen in the KBO. He owns a career OPS of .886. In 2012, he finished second in the league in OPS. In 2013, he finished ninth. In 2014, he finished first, by dozens of points. The real concern is simple: Kang is trying to become the first KBO position player to reach the major leagues. So such a transition would be unprecedented.

It’s true, we have Hyun-Jin Ryu, but then Ryu was (and is) a starting pitcher. As far as Korean hitters are concerned, Shin-Soo Choo and Hee Seop Choi have each had success, but then they were raised within big-league organizations, so they didn’t come over from the KBO as vets. That’s why so many people wonder about Kang’s potential. This is why he could be a bargain, and this is why he could be a bust.

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Breaking Down the Prospects in the Justin Upton Trade

by Kiley McDaniel - 12/19/2014 - Comments (39)

The Braves are sending rightfielder Justin Upton and a yet-to-be-named-publicly low level prospect to the Padres for for pitcher Max Fried, center fielder Mallex Smith, infielder Jace Peterson and left fielder Dustin Peterson.  It’s an interesting way for Atlanta to get a very high upside player not usually available in a package for a one-year rental.  As I did with my breakdown of the Wil Myers trade, I’ve ranked the pieces in order of my preference, with a note where there’s a virtual tie.

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The Padres Forefathers: Slugging Outfields of the Past

by Dave Cameron - 12/19/2014 - Comments (50)

This week, the Padres have acquired Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, and Wil Myers. There is a chance that they keep all three and play them side by side as their 2015 outfield. It would be an experiment in testing the limits of the offense/defense balance, essentially betting that fielding matters very little in relation to hitting the ball over the wall yourself. If the Padres keep all three in the outfield, they’re likely to have one of the best offensive and worst defensive outfields in baseball next year.

They wouldn’t the first team to try this, however. For fun, I decided to look back through the years for which we have UZR data and find teams that have punted outfield defense to maximize their own HR totals. To do this, I took all the team seasons since 2002, and looked for teams who ranked at the top and bottom of the league in home runs and UZR in the same season. Here are three examples of teams that have tried this same strategy in the last 13 years.

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2015 ZiPS Projections - Washington Nationals

by Carson Cistulli - 12/19/2014 - Comments (38)

After having typically appeared in the very hallowed pages of Baseball Think Factory, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections have been released at FanGraphs the past couple years. The exercise continues this offseason. Below are the projections for the Washington Nationals. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other Projections: Atlanta / Chicago AL / Colorado / Los Angeles AL / Miami / Milwaukee / Oakland / Tampa Bay.

Batters
The Nationals featured eight field players who produced a 1.2 WAR or better in 2014. All eight of them, with the exception of Adam LaRoche, appear in the depth-chart image below. All eight of them — again, with the exception of Adam LaRoche — are projected to produce a 1.8 WAR or better in 2014.

The weak point for the club remains the second-base position. Danny Espinosa is a defensive asset there and has above-average power (especially relative to the position), but his plate discipline has eroded almost entirely. According to ZiPS, middle infielder Wilmer Difo (1.6 WAR in 507 PA) is probably the club’s best option at second in terms of wins — although, insofar as he’s just barely played at High-A, that he’d play an important role at the major-league level appears unlikely.

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The International Bonus Pools Don't Matter

by Kiley McDaniel - 12/19/2014 - Comments (19)

International baseball has been in the news often lately with the ongoing saga of Yoan Moncada (he’s in America now), the signing of Yasmany Tomas and yesterday’s news that Cuba-U.S. relations could be getting much better.  In recent news, at the yearly international scouting directors’ meeting at the Winter Meetings last week, sources tell me there was no talk about the recent controversial rule change and no talk about an international draft, as expected.

So much has been happening lately that you may have temporarily forgotten about last summer, when the Yankees obliterated the international amateur spending record (and recently added another prospect). If the early rumors and innuendo are any indication, the rest of baseball isn’t going to let the Yankees have the last word.

I already mentioned the Cubs as one of multiple teams expected to spend well past their bonus pool starting on July 2nd, 2015.  I had heard rumors of other clubs planning to get in the act when I wrote that, but the group keeps growing with each call I make, so I decided to survey the industry and see where we stand.  After surveying about a dozen international sources, here are the 11 clubs that scouts either are sure, pretty sure or at least very suspicious will be spending past their bonus pool, ranked in order of likelihood:

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The Padres and A's Keep Doing Things

by Paul Swydan - 12/18/2014 - Comments (20)

If I had to sum up the offseason for the Oakland Athletics and San Diego Padres, it would be thusly:

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Does Projected Team WAR Actually Mean Anything?

by Jeff Sullivan - 12/18/2014 - Comments (65)

I think it’s safe to say we lean pretty heavily on projections here. Now, it’s important to understand we’re all always kind of making projections. The Padres acquired Wil Myers on the basis of a positive internal player projection. When we think about our favorite teams adding, say, Dee Gordon or Nelson Cruz, we’re considering what we expect them to do in the season or seasons ahead. Our enthusiasm for the coming year is based in part on a mental projection of the quality of our team. We all project, and the only real difference is that, around here, we lean on the projections by Steamer and ZiPS, instead of doing things in our heads. FanGraphs makes things really easy. What do the projections think about next year? There’s a tab you can click on. It’s a starting point.

But while projections are handy, it’s only natural to wonder: do they matter? How important are they, actually, with regard to predicting the short-term future? Tons of people have tested individual player projections, but here we also include team projections, based on manually-updated depth charts, and if there’s error in each given player projection, how much error might we see with team projections as a whole? It’s a perfectly reasonable question. It can’t even be answered conclusively, yet. There’s not enough data in the FanGraphs post archive. But I can give you at least a little bit.

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Burch Smith and the Problem of Holding Velocity

by Carson Cistulli - 12/18/2014 - Comments (8)

Right-hander Burch Smith has been traded from San Diego to Tampa Bay. “Will he start or not?” is a question a person might reasonably ask about that. What follows is an attempt to answer the question — in part, if not in whole.

At some point during during April or May of 2013, after the latter had produced some conspicuously excellent numbers with Double-A San Antonio, the present author developed a fascination with then-Padres right-hander Burch Smith — including that pitcher, for example, in multiple editions of the Fringe Five.

When Smith was finally promoted to the Padres, it was not unlike Christmas on May 11th. And even after Smith conceded six runs over a single inning in his debut, I remained curiously enamored of him.

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Assessing Steve Pearce's Breakout

by Drew Fairservice - 12/18/2014 - Comments (11)

The Baltimore Orioles are good at many things. Their greatest skill is probably confounding expectations. The rest of the league zigs and then the O’s zag their way into the playoffs, twice in the last three seasons.

While the rest of their division — the rest of baseball, really — gears up for a run at the playoffs, the Orioles sat back. Their off-season to date can best be described as “somnambulant”, They lost Andrew Miller, Nick Markakis, and Nelson Cruz to free agency, declined some options and added, um, Wesley Wright? That’s it.

Considering the state of their disabled list at the end of the season, returning Matt Wieters and Manny Machado from injury (and Chris Davis from suspension) will go a long way to improving their club. But there’s another reason the Orioles haven’t rushed out to apply quick fixes to their club – the unlikely emergence of Steve Pearce.

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The Biggest Remaining Lineup Needs

by Eno Sarris - 12/18/2014 - Comments (43)

The Winter Meetings revelry has passed. We’re still waiting on a few big trades to finally ‘consummate,’ but the list of free agents is less attractive by day. Before you turn down a chance at glory with the guys left waiting for a team, it’s probably a good idea to look at how badly you need them. This is not dating advice, but it sort of feels like it.

To that end, I’ve taking our depth charts and calculated a quick stat for ‘neediness.’ By averaging team WAR over 13 roster spots — the portion of the 25-man roster usually used for offense — and then looking at the difference between that average WAR and each position WAR, I’ve found a way to show where the biggest remaining lineup holes are.

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Eno Sarris Baseball Chat -- 12/18/24

by Eno Sarris - 12/18/2014 - Comments (4)

11:21
Eno Sarris: See you soon! In the mantime, it’s about the music, not the words.
11:56
{“author”:”TheClientele96″}:
12:01
Comment From Art Vandelay
I think the most important thing from all this Kemp physical drama is learning that his agent is MFing JUNIOR SPIVEY!
12:01
Eno Sarris: A world championship was not enough for the man. A world-class nickname was not enough for him. Rhyming with spidey was not enough for him.
12:01
Comment From Bill
Wait I had a question. Are the Cubbies done this off season?
12:02
Eno Sarris: I’ve got a piece going up today about biggest needs, and their corner outfield situation was on it. I think it’ll get filled with Kris Bryant.

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Of Course Rene Rivera Is Going to the Rays

by mileswray - 12/18/2014 - Comments (7)

Last month, not only did the Tampa Bay Rays cut Jose Molina, but, as Jeff detailed, no other Major League team was or has been interested in picking Molina up, even for the smallest of prices. As somebody who has always had their interests piqued by pitch-framing, this tiny morsel of a transaction nonetheless triggered a miniature existential crisis on the significance and value of pitch-framing. Have the estimates of framing value been, in fact, comically optimistic? Have savvier umpires begun to render this skill a moot point? Is there some other factor about the nature of the catcher position that we, on the outside, simply don’t know?

Some of those things may very well be true, maybe even all of them. But before we use the Rays dumping Molina as an example of the preacher turning pagan, let us consider yesterday’s big trade between the Rays, Nationals, and Padres. Somewhere amidst this flurry of new forwarding addresses, defensive-minded catcher Ryan Hanigan went from Tampa Bay to San Diego, while defensive-minded catcher Rene Rivera went from San Diego to Tampa Bay. The catcher swap was the minor part of the deal for the public, but perhaps the Rays don’t see it that way. In fact, if they still believe strongly in the value of catcher defense, perhaps the Rays didn’t even consider themselves as selling low on Wil Myers, given the potential value that Rivera might provide.

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The Impact of Normalized U.S.-Cuban Relations on Major League Baseball

by Nathaniel Grow - 12/18/2014 - Comments (65)

Following yesterday’s historic announcement by President Obama that the United States will re-establish full relations with Cuba, many baseball fans have been speculating what impact this news is likely to have on Major League Baseball. Cuba, of course, is a baseball hotbed, producing a number of impact MLB players in recent years (Jose Abreu, Yasiel Puig, Yoenis Cespedes).

In the long-term, normalized relations with Cuba could potentially result in a significant influx of Cuban talent into U.S. professional baseball, while also opening up other lucrative business opportunities for MLB. In the short-term, however, yesterday’s announcement will likely have little immediate impact on professional baseball in the United States, and if anything, might even temporarily decrease the flow of players defecting to the U.S. from Cuba.

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The Royals Spending Poorly Wisely

by Jeff Sullivan - 12/18/2014 - Comments (46)

The main good thing about reaching the World Series is that it means you won your league. When you win your league, people like you a lot, and it’s a good feeling. Builds community. Another, bigger-picture good thing about reaching the World Series is that it brings in revenue, especially if you haven’t been real good for a while. New streams of money begin to flow, and preexisting streams of money flood their banks, as more people express interest in the product and other people express more interest in the product. Basically, if you get to the World Series, it’s a good thing for more than just the day or week of.

When the Royals came out of nowhere to come within a few runs of the championship, it stood to reason they’d reap an enormous benefit. An area love affair was re-kindled, as Kauffman Stadium became one of the loudest and most popular environments in the game. Estimates varied, but there was no question the World Series appearance would mean, for the team, some additional tens of millions of dollars. How much could that money mean, if re-invested in the roster? What would Dayton Moore be able to pull off, given greater financial flexibility?

The Royals re-signed Luke Hochevar for a couple of years, which seems like a good deal even given Hochevar’s operation. But lately the Royals have spent bigger money. They committed $17 million to Kendrys Morales. They committed $11 million to Alex Rios. And, most recently, they committed $20 million to Edinson Volquez. This is what the World Series has meant, in a way. It’s rather underwhelming.

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Trea Turner: Shortstop Prospect on the Move

by David Laurila - 12/18/2014 - Comments (4)

Trea Turner has his sights set high. The 2014 first-round pick wants to be more than the starting shortstop for the San Diego Padres [or, if last night's reports are accurate, the Washington Nationals]. Turner wants to be a star.

He could have been a Pirate. Pittsburgh drafted Turner out of high school in 2011, and the now-21-year-old had no trouble picturing himself in black and gold. He told me the Pirates personnel he spoke to during the draft process were “awesome” and that he still keeps in touch with the area scout. Turner said he’d have “loved to be a Pirate,” but “needed to go to college and make myself better both mentally and physically.”

Turner enrolled at North Carolina State, and excelled. In three seasons with the Wolfpack he hit .342 and stole 110 bases. His junior year, he won the Brooks Wallace Award as the best shortstop in college baseball.

Along the way, he received plenty of attention from scouts.

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WAR: Batters
Mike Trout7.8
Andrew McCutchen6.8
Michael Brantley6.6
Anthony Rendon6.6
Alex Gordon6.6
WAR: Pitchers
Corey Kluber7.3
Clayton Kershaw7.2
Felix Hernandez6.2
David Price6.1
Phil Hughes6.1
WPA: Batters
Mike Trout6.88
Giancarlo Stanton5.18
Andrew McCutchen4.90
Buster Posey4.81
Jayson Werth4.68
WPA: SP
Clayton Kershaw5.47
Johnny Cueto4.67
Adam Wainwright4.17
Chris Sale3.90
Max Scherzer3.46
WPA: RP
Dellin Betances4.19
Wade Davis3.74
Huston Street3.61
Jonathan Papelbon3.32
Zach Britton3.27
Fastball (mph): SP
Yordano Ventura96.9
Carlos Martinez96.5
Garrett Richards96.3
Wily Peralta95.8
Tom Wilhelmsen95.7