Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dioner Navarro's 2-game Suspension

This is kind of an extension of an earlier post of mine, but obviously suspensions are a big deal to me. Especially when they are this inconsitent.

This time, Rays catcher Dioner Navarro was suspended for two games. While I do think Navarro deserves a suspension for making contact with an umpire while vehemently arguing with him, I think it further indicates the incosistency of the people in the MLB who deal with discipline. Especially when you consider the fact that Cliff Lee (who is discussed in the post I linked earlier) was looking at a 5-game suspension for hitting a guy in a Spring Training game. And yes, I understand that a 5-game suspension for a pitcher really just means he misses one game, but the inconsitency still drives me crazy. Personally, I think a player making contact with an umpire, especially something as full-blown as a "bump" deserves more than a 2-day suspension.

I really think that the MLB should introduce some kind of rubric where certain offenses have certain lengths of suspension. I know they have it in the event that a player fails a drug test, but they should really have it for everything so that they don't like foolish for things like this.

Poll Results and Comments

Hey everyone, sorry for the infrequency of posts last week, my last semester of undergrad is coming to a close and is of course ending with a massive work load, so I haven't had as much free time as I would like to.
But anyway, here are the results from last weeks poll:

If you were a Hall of Fame voter, would peformance-enhancing drug allegations effect your voting "yes" on guys like Barry Bonds and Mark McGuire?
Yes, I wouldn't vote for them. 8 (61%)

No, I would vote for them based on their numbers. 2 (15%)

I am waiting to see how many other players from their generation turn out to be involved with PEDs to make a decision. 3 (23%)

Obviously, the overwhelming sentiment of the readers of this blog is to not let anyone who is associated with PEDs into the Hall of Fame. I can certainly see people's points in regard to this, especially because various things written about the Hall of Fame talk about how the players in it have upheld the integrity of the game. Certainly people who have done things to improve their numbers that were outside of the rules of baseball go against this. The problem is that the monitoring of steroids during that period were pretty horrible, and a lot of people would argue no actual rules were broken, especially those who used androtestosterone, which was not a banned substane according to the MLB.

It's also important to note that the official election rules for the Hall of Fame don't actually say anything regarding players who do something against the rules of baseball, but then again, it also doesn't say anything about certain types of numbers a guy would have to put up to be put into the Hall. Really, it's all just based on what the electors think, and I don't think there will ever be a rule that says guys who have been attatched to steroids can't be elected. If the electors change their mind about steroids (obviously they have a negative view of them right now because McGuire hasn't been able to get into the Hall) as a whole, guys who have been connected to steroids will get in. The only way guys like that can't be voted on for the Hall of Fame is if they are banned from baseball like Joe Jackson or Pete Rose (and Pete Rose is a whole other blog topic).

I was a little shocked to see so few say they would vote for them based on their numbers, although as I said, I certainly understand the sentiment. There are a fairly large number of baseball writers, such as Buster Olney and Peter Gammons, who try and distance themselves as much as possible from any emotional response they feel in looking at a player's career, and vote for them based purely on their numbers. Both of those men have voted for Mark McGuire every year he has been elligble.

I also thinks it reasonable to have voted that you would have to wait to see how many players turn out to be involved with PEDs. It would be pretty debilitating if guys like Derek Jeter and Albert Pujols turned out to be involved with them. And what about guys who are already in, like Cal Ripken, Jr.? I'm not saying I suspect either of these guys have been involved with them, I'd just like to point out that there was also a time where guys like Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez were believed to be rare great players from the era who never used steroids. That all blew up last year.

Anyway, like last week (and it will be like this every week now) a new poll is up, so vote away!
Also, I'll hopefully be better about blog posts this week.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A couple interesting decisions by the MLB

The MLB Disciplinary Committee guys have done a couple interesting things this week. They have some things in common two. Both involve pitchers who are on the disabled list, and both involve suspensions. That's kind of where the similarities end, though.

The first is The 50-day suspension of Edinson Volquez for violating MLB's drug-use policy. While overall this isn't all that interesting, and might just speak to the fact that PEDs are still an issue, there are a number of things that do make this interesting. The first is Edinson Volquez's excuse, which was that "he received a prescription in the Dominican Republic as part of his treatment to start a family with his wife", according to the linked article. In some ways it's kind of humorous that he would make this excuse, and of course, it may also be the truth. Either way, I think the MLB needs to monitor things in the Dominican Republic a lot better. If no one has noticed, a lot of the recent guys to be attatched to PEDs (Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, DAvid Ortiz, and now Volquez) have spent considerable time in the Dominican Republic, with Rodriguez and Ortiz both claiming that their positives must have come from something they got in the Dominican. The MLB is heavily involved in the Dominican, and could very easily do something to clean up the drug trade there.
Any way, this is also interesting because the MLB is being nice and letting Volquez serve his suspension while he is already on the DL. By the time the suspension is up, he will just barely be ready to pitch again. Essentially (as that article notes) he is just losing some money. Personally, I think that if you are on the DL those suspensions should not be applied, and the next case in some ways indicates that that's how these things usually work.

The second interesting thing that the MLB has done is the overturning of Cliff Lee's 5-day suspension. During Spring Training Lee was told he would be suspended for 5 games once the season started because he ALMOST hit a guy during a game. First of all, it's a freaking Spring Training game. A few years ago there was a flat out fight during Spring Training, and I'm fairly sure no one was suspended. Second, he didn't even hit him, nor had he even received a warning ealrier in the game. He also was not thrown from the game. In general, the suspension was completely ridiculous. Despite this, when MLB rescinded the suspension, they didn't acknowledge that it was egregious, they simply said that Lee's physical problems at the time (recovering from surgery, and an abdominal strain) were understandable reasons for him to almost hit someone in a game. Basically, the MLB is trying to save face for their ridiculous punishment. What makes this interesting, is that right now Cliff Lee (like Volquez) is also on the DL, but would have had to serve his suspension the moment he came off of it, causing him to miss a start. How is that fair at all? How about some consistency MLB.

What are your thoughts on these issues?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Poll Results and Some Comments

Hey everyone, I figured I'd post the results of the poll, and comment on the results as well as my feelings about each of the reforms and my opinions on their likelihood.

Poll Question: Which of the potential reforms that Bud Selig's "special committee" is considering would you most like to see?

Reforms to increase the pace of game - 2 (16%)

Removal of the Designated Hitter in the American League - 6 (50%)

Some kind of change to divisional alignment - 3 (25%)

I don't like any of them - 1 (8%)

Obviously we're only going on 12 votes here (heck, I'm glad I have 12 readers, haha), but I still think this is a very interesting poll, especially if it reflects the general public's view of these potential reforms.

As you can clearly see, half of the voters want the DH removed in the American League. This came as kind of a shock to me, because I know a lot of people who love the DH and the extra runs it produces. So I'm not sure if it indicates the majority of my readers are NL fans, or if there are really lots of AL people who want to get rid of the DH. I can see a lot of benefits to the removal of the DH. The managers would have to work more, bench players would serve more of a purpose and see more playing time, and the speed of American League games would increase. From a GM standpoint, I can see them liking it because it creates an even playing field and more symmetry between the leagues, making it easier to predict what a player will do in one league or the other. It would also probably lead to a decrease in average payroll in the American League. I am interested to see if this type of change would have to pass through the Players Association, because if it does, I could see them not wanting it to happen. A lot of players view the DH as a way of creating more longevity in their careers, and the Players Association might agree. I kind of feel like this is the least likely of all the reforms to happen, but that's just my opinion.

In second place (with 25 percent of the vote) was a change to divisional alignment. I am sure there are some readers whose teams get buried underneath other teams in their division, or some readers who feel the fact that the AL West only has 4 teams is unfair. I can see the point of both of these arguments, because a team like the Marlins or the Rays or the Rangers could really benefit from a change in division. I think if any type of change happens, it will probably be a fairly small one, and not the "floating alignment" that has been rumored on and off, just because I can't see that working. One or two teams may move around (kind of like when the Brewers moved in 1994), but I don't think it will be a major move. I think this is kind of likely, but like I said, only in a small-scale form.

In third place (with 16 percent) was improvements to the pace of game. I can understand wanting this to happen, especially because baseball is apparently losing some audience because of the slow pace of game. I think some reforms definitely need to happen, as I made clear in an earlier post of mine, but i also think it will be pretty difficult to institue some of the rules hat would lead to an increase in pace of game. Despite that, I think that this reform is probably the most likely to happen, in part because I think it's a perfect storm of interest. The MLB would be happy to decrease the length of the games because it will increase their ratings, and the fans would obviously be happy if the games got shorter. It would also be a good PR move, since so many people complain about the length of baseball games.

That's all for now. If you haven't noticed, I have also posted a new poll, and will post my comments on the new topic and the results next week, so vote away!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What a weird day

Today (well, yesterday now) had some pretty crazy stuff happen, didn't it?

Ubaldo Jimenez threw a no-hitter. In my opening night post I said that I view him as a Cy Young caliber pitcher this year. Keep making me look smart Ubaldo!

There was a TWENTY-INNING game that the Mets finally won.

The Red Sox completed a suspended game that went 12 innings, their first suspended game since the 80s, and lost after loading the bases with 0 outs.

Pretty weird day, to say the least. But this is what's great about baseball.

Late EDIT: Somehow I forgot to include that Livan Hernandez pitched a complete game shutout while only striking out 3 and walking 2. It was his first shutout since 2004.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Market Correction

Today I thought I'd talk about the market correction that I have perceived over the last couple of off-seasons as far as player contracts go. The market correction I'm talking about is a shift away from power to defense, youth, and roster flexibility. The value of OBP also seems to have decreased to a degree, more on that later.

Here is the best example from the off-season following the 2008 season:

1. Adam Dunn's 2-year, $20MM contract. Years ago, a guy like Adam Dunn, who is pretty much a lock for 40 home runs a year and is always on base, would have gotten a lot more money that this, and much larger market teams would have gotten in on the bidding. The fact that Adam Dunn is a defensive liability at both first base and in the outfield is the only thing that could have decreased his value. A comparable player from earlier years would be Manny Ramirez who had hitting ability but very questionable defense. He had been locked up long-term by the Red Sox and getting paid $20MM a year in 2001.

Some examples from the off-season following the 2009 season:

1. Jermaine Dye still remains unsigned. Jermaine Dye is a lock for about 30 Home Runs a year, but by many metrics, is the worst defensive player in MLB -- even worse than Adam Dunn. He's also old, and an injury risk because of that. Jermaine Dye offers no roster flexibility because of his inability to play defense at an adequate level, leading to teams not wanting to sign him. In past years, a "veteran guy" with power most definitely would have been signed, but in this knew front office philosophy that is developing, it doesn't seem to be happening.

2. Vladimir Guerrerro's 5.5MM 1-year contract. While it's true Guerrero is getting up there in years and is an injury risk, if he stays healthy in Texas he should pretty easily hit about 30 Home Runs. The problem with Guerrero is, once again, his lack of defensive ability. He will probably only start around 30 games in the field this year (if that), and will mostly be a DH. He doesn't bring any roster flexibility because of defensive inability. In years past a similar player would have been the aforementioned Jermaine Dye, who was signed to a two-year, 10.15MM dollar contract with an option for a third year that was exercised. While he was not getting paid more than Guerrero, he was definitely getting more security. The problem is that the Rangers don't want to commit to having such roster inflexibility more than one year at a time.

There are more examples I could touch on in both years, but I think I should probably get to my point. The players who are getting paid the most these days are the players who are a perfect marriage of offensive and defensive abilities. These players are guys like Mark Teixeira and Matt Holliday. There are also players with much weaker offensive numbers than those listed above who are getting paid much more, with Mike Cameron being the first example I think of. Players who can't play defense but can hit the ball a long way (Russel Branyan and Jim Thome can be added to those players above) are no longer getting paid.

The most interesting thing about all of this is the fact that the original "Moneyball" philosophy was that Defense was only 5-10% of the game. Interestingly, the same guys who are all about the old "Moneyball" philosophies, such as Billy Beane (OAK), Theo Epstein (BOS), and Jack Zduriencik (SEA) all have been making defensive-minded decisions.

For Billy Beane you have the Coco Crisp signing, and the trade for Kevin Kouzmanoff. Both of these guys are considered great defensively at their positions.

For Theo Epstein you have the attempted trade of Lowell, who has become a defensive liablity, the Marco Scutaro signing, the Adrian Beltre signing, and the Mike Cameron signing. Beltre and Cameron are among the best at their positions, and Scutaro is definitely better known for his defense than his offense.

For Jack Zduriencik you have the Franklin Gutierrez extension, the Casey Kotchman trade, and the Chone Figgins signing. Gutierrez, by all defensive metrics, was the best center fielder in baseball last year. Kotchman is known for his glove, and Chone Figgins not only brings solid defense everywhere, but also brings a ton of roster flexibility with his athleticism.

So basically, the point I'm trying to get at is that it seems these three GMs (and probably more than just them, these are just the three that popped into my head) feel that power is over-priced, and defense is undervalued. Obviously other GMs are are thinking similarly, with the value that is being placed on guys like Guerrero and Dunn. Because of this, they are signing free agents accordingly and feeling as if they are getting most of these guys for well under market value, because they seem to now believe that defense means more than was once thought. This indicates a very large shift in the strategy of the game, and does not bode well for aging sluggers with no defensive prowess such as Alfonso Soriano and David Ortiz.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Game Notes: 4/14/2010

Lots of interesting things going on in today's games. Here are a few observations:

1. In today's Pittsburgh Pirates @ San Francisco Giants game the Giants won by a score of 3-0 behind a great performance by Jonathan Sanchez. If Sanchez can be more consistant and solidify his spot in the rotation, San Francisco will be pretty scary. However, that's not what's interesting about this game. What interested me is the fact that all 3 of the runs the Giants scored were on solo homers (one of which was an inside-the-parker). While this isn't all that rare of an occurrence, what makes it interesting is the fact that the Giants had 10 hits in the game, but never hit a home run with runners on in the game.

2. In today's Washington Nationals @ Philadelphia Phillies game, which the Philadelphia Phillies won 14-7, neither starting pitcher made it out of the second inning, giving up a combined 15 baserunners and 13 runs in 3 innings. Ouch.

3. In today's Houston Astros @ St. Louis Cardinals Game, in which the Cardinals won 2-1, there was sloppy defense on both sides, with each team committing two errors. Of the three total runs scored in the game, only one of them was earned. The Houston Astros did not score any earned runs in the game. This may not sound all that rare, but it's pretty weird for 66 percent of the runs in a game to be unearned. By comparison, in today's Atlanta Braves @ San Diego Padres game (which hasn't yet gone final as of this blog post, but is in the 9th inning), there have been 5 errors between the two teams, and all 7 runs that have been scored between the two teams have still been earned.

4. You have probably already heard this one, but it deserves to be noted just because it's so interesting. In today's Cincinatti Reds @ Florida Marlins game Jorge Cantu set the record for most consecutive games with a hit and an RBI to start the season. It was a record that had stood since 1921. Crazy.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Is pace of game really a problem?

Right now pace of game is a really hot topic in baseball, as most of you probably know. And today, for the first time since Joe West's unprofessional comments (in my opinion) about the season-opening Yankees-Red Sox series, the baseball commissioner spoke his mind on the issue.

For the last few years Selig has been talking about how he would like to improve the pace of game, and a few changes have been made, such as fining players who take too long to do certain things. As most people know, Jonathan Papelbon was fined multiple times this year. It's also been known that the "special committee" for baseball that Selig has appointed has been working on the issue, although it has taken a back seat to the idea of changing divisional alignment in baseball. Despite knowing all this, reading Selig's comments about the need for a change of pace of game are interesting. He seems to feel shortening the game will make it appeal to more people, and I can see where he is coming from to a degree, but I think there is a fallacy in his argument.

Firstly, the two teams that most often make their games last 3 and a half hours or more are the Yankees and the Red Sox. There are enough die hard fans of these two teams that love the long games, especially the games between the two teams, that shortening the game might actually take something away for them. For them (and I am speaking of one of them) shortening the game would be like leaving an extremely good movie in the middle of it, or deciding to stop eating a meal they are really enjoying in the middle of it. What I'm saying is, most of the people that really enjoy baseball aren't bothered by the pace of game for the most part, no matter who their team is, they just enjoy watching their team. While I understand wanting to expand the game to become more popular and compete more closely with the NFL and the NBA, shouldn't the main goal be to entertain the fans that really love the game?

The length of the games is also beneficial monetarily, because it leads to more advertising time for sponsors. Additionally, part of the reason for long baseball games are commercial breaks themselves, since teams and pitchers don't really need the amount of time they are given to get ready for the next inning or hitter, and there is definitely no way that ad-breaks are going to be shortened or eliminated from the game because that would mean a loss of money.

I agree that some things need to be done to fix the pace of game. There should be a limit on how many times a catcher can visit a pitcher on the mound in a single inning for sure, and there should probably be stricter limits on when a hitter can ask for time. Most of the time when I see a hitter ask for time, it's actually something that can be pinned on the pitcher, who is holding the ball extra long to throw off a hitter's timing, so you can blame them for getting out of the box? Stepping out of the box for no real reason needs to be stopped though, even though it would be really hard to institute a rule that prevents it.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on possible reforms in pace of game in baseball, what are your thoughts? Also, if you didn't notice, there is now a poll on the right-hand side of my blog that is related to Bud Selig's "special committee", don't forget to vote!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Awards Predictions

Hope everyone is enjoying the end of their weekend. I thought I'd go out on a limb today and make a few more predictions that will probably make me look like a fool by the end of the season. This time with awards predictions, something even harder to predict than teams that will play in the postseason. Once again, keep in mind I am simply making predictions based on who I feel is the most likely to win the award.

Anyway, let's get these predictions out there.

American League

MVP Award Prediction: Mark Teixeira (NYY)

The numbers that Teixeira put up last year would typically be enough to win the MVP. Unfortunatley for him, a certain man in Minnesota batted .365 and won the modern triple crown (Batting Average, On-Base percentage, Slugging Percentage), making it pretty hard for him to win. Barring an unexpectedly great season from someone else, Teixeira seems likely a good bet to win the award. It also helps that he plays in New York, which gets a lot of love from the voters, and pretty much guarantees his team will make the post season. If you haven't noticed, almost every MVP award winner the last 10 years has been on a team playing in the post season.

Honorable Mention: Evan Longoria (TBR)
If Evan Longoria can continue on an upward slope as he has thus far in his career, he could easily put up Teixeira-esque numbers. If Longoria can hit around 40 Home Runs (which he seems perfectly capable of) and manage to help the Rays either win the division or the Wild Card, I could see him winning the award.

AL Cy Young Award Prediction: Felix Hernandez (SEA)

Hernandez has been pretty dominant in his career, and managed to finish second in Cy Young Award voting last year. Kind of like Teixeira, the only reason he didn't win the award was because of a completely ridiculous season out of someone else. Granted, that's usually who wins the award, but I think if anyone has a ridiculous season this year it will be Hernandez. He will only be 24 this year, and even if he doesn't win it this year, there is definitely a Cy Young Award in this impressive guy's future. The one thing that might hold him back this year is a lack of run support from a weak looking Seattle Mariners offense, which might lead to a reduction in Wins for Hernandez. Luckily, it seems like the voters have finally realized that Wins aren't the best stat for evlauting a pitcher, as Greinke's Cy Young win last year indicates.

AL Rookie of the Year Prediction: Wade Davis (TBR)

Wade Davis is part of the reason the Rays felt comfortable in trading Edwin Jackson. Wade Davis has been completely dominant in the minor leagues and has showcased dominant stuff in his time so far in the major leagues. He also has the comforts of a powerful offense, meaning he will be in fewer pressure situations and get more Wins than most rookies would.

National League

NL MVP Award Prediction: Albert Pujols (STL)

Yeah, it's kind of the easy way out, but obviously he has the best chance of doing it. In my opinion Pujols is the greatest player currently playing in the major leagues, and the likelihood of him putting up yet another monster season and winning his fourth MVP award are very high. The scariest thing about the numbers he put up last year is the fact that he actually had some elbow problems that he finally had fixed during the off-season. Could we see 50 homers out of Pujols this season to go along with his typically ridiculous .320+ batting average?

NL Cy Young Award Prediction: Roy Halladay (PHI)

The numbers that Halladay has put up every season in the AL East have been completely ridiculous. Halladay has thrown more complete games in the last 5 years than anyone else, and also has more shut outs. He also Most people feel that the AL East is the strongest division in baseball, and he still put up those numbers. He also managed to win 149 games over the last 10 years despite not always having the best offense behind him, with the Phillies he won't have that problem. Halladay also won't have to worry about facing a DH in NL line-ups. I could see Halladay easily winning more than 20 games in Philadelphia.

NL Rookie of the Year Award: Jason Heyward (ATL)

Heyward's potential seems pretty limitless, and he is drawing comparisons to another 20-year-old starter named Miguel Cabrera. If Heyward can put up numbers like .280/.350/.465 with about 20 homers he should be a lock for the award. It is not unfathomable that his numbers will not be even better than that. Alcides Escobar and Gaby Sanchez are the only other high-ceiling rookies who seem like candidates for the award, and they don't have near the potential Heyward does. Notice I didn't mention Stephen Strasburg, because I don't think he will make enough starts to win the award, if he makes any at all.

It will be interesting to see how many of these I managed to guess correctly come the end of the year (my guess is probably about 1). That's all for now.

Game Notes: 4/10/2010

Here are a couple interesting things that happened in today's games:

1. In today's Toronto Blue Jays @ Baltimore Orioles game Dave Trembley called for THREE intentional walks, two against Travis Snider, and one against Vernon Wells. It's weird enough that he'd intentionally walk Travis Snider twice, in that he has yet to prove himself in the big leagues and has a wopping 11 career home runs. More interestingly, two of the three intentional walks that Trembley called for resulted in a run scoring on the very next play. I've never been a big fan of the intentional walk barring special situations, and this game indicates why.

2. In today's Chicago Cubs @ Cincinatti Reds game the Cubs left ZERO runners on base. This is a very rare occurrence in baseball, and can mean either that a team just got a perfect game thrown against them, or the team was extremely efficient. In this case, the Cubs were extremely efficient scoring 4 runs on 5 hits to win the game. It also helps that they only drew 1 walk.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Minor League Equivalency

I found something pretty interesting for evaluating minor league players on-line today. It's called the Minor League Equivalency Calculator (click here). Basically, it's a tool that lets you put in minor league numbers for your favorite minor league stud in your team's farm system, and spits out a projected batting line for the player in the same number of plate appearances. It sounds like it would be pretty difficult to calculate, and there are certainly flaws, but they use historical ball park information to calculate how a ballpark will effect certain batters, and also accounts for heightened competition level depending on what league they are from in the minor leagues with a pretty accurate algorithm, so it's an interesting tool, albeit one that should not be assumed as always correct.

The calculator also doesn't take account of player progression, and simply shows what a player would have hit in the major leagues had they been playing there instead of the minors for whatever year you are putting stats in for. In other words, if you are putting numbers in for a rookie this year using his minor league numbers for the year before, chances are his numbers will be a bit better this year.

I decided to run a few players through the calculator who are rookies this year to see what I would get:

Note: For those unfamiliar with "slash-lines", i.e, .300/.350/.400, they indicate batting average/on base percentage/slugging percentage

OF Jason Heyward (ATL): Using only Jason Heyward's AA numbers from last year, since it's difficult to get projections for guys who played in three different leagues in a year, I got this:
In 167 AB, .297/.367/.480 with 11 doubles, 5 Home Runs, 4 SB, 24 Runs, and 23 RBIs . Project that out to a full major season of around 600 AB, and you get about 35 Doubles, 17 Home runs, 14 SB and about 75 RBIs while scoring around 90 Runs. Those are pretty impressive numbers for a rookie, and I'm sure Braves fans would like to see that (or more) out of him.

SS Alcides Escobar (MIL): Using Alcides Escobar's full season at AAA-Nashville last year, I got this:
In 439 AB, .263/.306/.349 scoring 61 Runs with 20 Doubles, 4 Triples, and 3 Home Runs as well as stealing 35 Bases. Over a full major league season this would project to about 73 Runs, 26 Doubles, 5 Triples, 4 Home Runs, and 43 Stolen Bases. Once again, pretty solid numbers for a rookie shortstop, although if these projections are right for both Heyward and Escobar, I'm giving the Rookie of the Year to Heyward.

OF Austin Jackson (DET): Using Austin Jackson's full season at AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last year I got this:
Over 513 AB, .262/.310/.346 scoring 53 Runs with 20 Doubles, 7 Triples, 3 Home Runs, 51 RBIs and 21 SB. Jackson's number of ABs is only slightly off what he would get in a full major league season, so his numbers aren't all that different from what they would be in the majors, although he IS batting near the top of the Detroit line-up at this point, so he could get more at-bats and score more Runs. Once again, fairly solid numbers for a rookie, especially if he plays defense like they say he can. The one that that looks like it will really kill him is his projected 131 Strike Outs, which is an incredibly high number for a guy with a .346 SLG. He has a horrible BB/K ratio in the minor leagues, so unless he gets some plate discipline he could be in trouble.

2B Scott Sizemore (DET): Using Scott Sizemore's 71 Games at AAA Toledo last year I got this:
In around 300 At-Bats, .271/.347/.399 scoring 40 runs with 17 Doubles, 7 Homers, 27 RBIs and 12 SB. In 600 At-Bats this would come out to 80 runs with 34 Doubles, 14 Homers, 54 RBIs and 24 SB, very good numbers for a rookie, good enough for Rookie of the Year candidacy. If Detroit can get these projected numbers (or better) out of their two rookies up the middle, they could have a pretty good season.

It will be interesting to see how accurate that calculator is at the end of the year. That's about it for now, enjoy some weekend baseball!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Does David Ortiz deserve the scrutiny he is receiving?

Does anyone besides me think the amount of scrutiny David Ortiz is receiving after starting the season 1-for-11 is ridiculous? The fact that Terry Francona has to announce that he is "standing pat" with David Ortiz before the third game of the season has me completely baffled.
There are players all over the major leagues who don't have a hit yet and they haven't received this kind of scrutiny, and one of them is even in New York, in the form of Mark Teixeira. I know that Ortiz had a horrible start to 2009, but does no one remember how his season ended? Using these ridiculously small sample sizes to judge him is idiotic, for lack of a better word.

As a Red Sox fan, I understand people worrying about David Ortiz's production, but it's gotten to a ridiculous level and I honestly don't blame him for his profanity-laden rant in response to questions about a "slump" after the second game of the season. It should be clear that David Ortiz still has something left in his bat after his June-October numbers last year, where he led the American League in Home Runs. Part of the reason for his poor start can probably be attributed to Francona opting to start Ortiz against Sabathia, which was probably primarily only done because it was Opening Night. Some thought Ortiz should be sat against Pettitte, but Ortiz actually has better numbers than the right-handed Lowell does against Pettitte. And, again, he DID have a hit in the series, against a left-hander no less. And, while he had his bad at-bats, that happens to everyone sometimes. He'll get there.

Anyway, I just don't understand the scrutiny he is receiving, especially because he ended last season on a high-note, not a low one. Give Ortiz at least until the end of April before you make judgments on him and ask him why he hasn't produced yet. It's a little hard to produce after only two games (which is when the question has been asked) in a game like baseball.

While I am mostly positive about Ortiz, I do think that in the event he continues to struggle horribly (which I don't think will happen, but it could) the Red Sox will either need to make Lowell a full-time DH (or at least mostly full time) or make a trade for a big bat like Adrian Gonsalez. The good news is that this year the REd Sox don't have to worry about the fact that they have Ortiz under contract for the next year, because next year they only have an option on him, so if he struggles greatly they will have no problem benching him.

Basically Red Sox fans, I'm saying not to worry about Ortiz yet, either because it's far too early or because the Red Sox will seek a suitable internal or external option to plug any type of hole a prolonged slump by Ortiz would create.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Some notes from today's games

Hey everyone,
I thought I'd post a few notes about today's games.

1. The first Yankees-Red Sox series of the season ended today, and while the Red Sox (my team) lost today, I feel like this three game series was one of the better ones that I've seen between the two clubs in a while, with every game being decided by two runs scored late in the game. Additionally, Pettitte and Lackey responded to yesterday's post where I talked about how poorly the starters had pitched in the first two games in the series by both putting up great starts, so that was enjoyable to watch.

2. In today's Dodgers @ Pirates game Garrett Jones homered for his third time this season, meaning he is on track for a whopping 243 Home Runs this season. Obviously, that's not going to happen, but if he can continue to produce for the Pirates and solidify the middle of that order, the Pirates might be a better team than people are giving them credit for.

3. In today's Cleveland Indians @ Chicago White Sox game the White Sox managed to keep a game within two runs where they were out-hit 10 to 2, managing to score three runs on their two hits. Something always intrigues me about a team having more runs than hits in a game. More interestingly, Paul Konerko had all three RBIs in the game, one coming on a Sac Fly and the other two on a 2-Run home run. On both of these scoring plays, the men on base in front of Konerko got there via the walk.

4. In today's Florida Marlins @ New York Mets game the Marlins won despite a sloppy game from their pitchers. Ricky Nolasco was charged with a ball when he went to his mouth while standing on the rubber of the pitching mound beacuse he misunderstood the rules change that went into effect this year where a pitcher can no go to their mouth on the mound, but only if they are not standing on the rubber, and only if they wipe their hand off before gripping the ball. Nolasco still put up a good game, but lost what should have been his first win of the season because of (among other things) a bases-loaded balk from Leo Nunez. Ouch.

That's it for now. Hope everyone enjoyed today's games!

Observations from today's games

Hey everyone, hope you enjoyed some Tuesday baseball! Not every team was in action today, but enough teams were in action today for some interesting observations. While I only actively follow about one game a day while it's happening (typically the Red Sox game), I check the box scores for every game after they all go final. Tell me I have a problem if you want to (I might), but I almost always find a handful of things that interest me enough to make checking all of those box scores pay off. Baseball is just such a quirky game that almost every day something interesting is happening. Here are the two things that interested me the most that I noticed today.

1. In today's Orioles @ Rays game, two guys who worked in a shared closing role for the Atlanta Braves last year were the pitchers of record for opposing teams, those two guys being Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano.

It would not surprise me if this is the first time in history that two guys who got 10+ saves for the same team the year before were both the pitcher's of record on opposing teams the next season, simply because two guys getting that many saves on the same team is rare, and the chance of both closers being used by opposing teams in a single game is also rare. It might happen more than once too, since these two are in the same division..assuming they can hold on to their positions in bullpen hierarchy.

2. In today's Yankees @ Red Sox game both starting pitchers struggled. This means that the top two pitchers for both of these extremely well-funded organizations, all of whom are getting paid incredibly well, have put up some horrible numbers to begin their seasons, numbers that look even worse when you put all four of them together. As ESPNBoston's Gordon Edes put it "Starting pitching in first two games of series: 20 IP, 26 H, 17 ER, 7.65 ERA, $353.6". Obviously what he means by "353.6" is the millions of dollars that all four of these men's (CC Sabathia, Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, and A.J. Burnett) total contracts are worth. Hopefully John Lackey and Andy Pettitte can put up some good numbers tomorrow, or things will be even more laughable. The chances of all four starters putting up such horrible numbers in the first two games of the season, especially when three of the guys often have "ace" attatched to their name, has to be pretty low.

That's it for now.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Good Move, Bad Move.

Hope everyone is enjoying Opening Day! Lots of interesting things going on, and lots of Home Runs being hit by guys who seem to have something to prove, with Jason Heyward going deep in his first Major League at-bat in an attempt to silence anyone questioning the Braves decision to make him a starter at age 20, and Garret Jones hitting two round-trippers for the Pirates in an attempt to silence everyone saying there is no way he could sustain the 40 HR pace he showed last year. Of course, it's only Game 1, and big days from these guys may not mean anything, but that's what's fun about Opening Day, speculating what could become of these guys' seasons.

Any way the real reason for this post are the two interesting moves by Front Offices I noticed today, one of which I really liked, and the other I really questioned.

Let's start with the one I liked:

Josh Beckett signed to a 4-year, $68 Million Dollar Extension
I think this is a really good move for the Red Sox, and a good move for the player as well. Beckett got to be the highest per-year pitcher in the Red Sox organization by a few hundred thousand dollars. Word was that Beckett's agent was trying to get a John Lackey-esque contract (5 years, $82.5 million) but the Red Sox were unwilling to give the fifth year, and compensated by paying him more per year than they had agreed to pay Lackey. I feel this is a good move for the club because Beckett has performed very well for the Red Sox in the pressure cooker of the American League East, and the number of really good free agent arms coming up in coming seasons is quickly diminishing.

It is also difficult to gauge how some players will adjust to playing in Fenway Park, which does not favor extreme fly-ball pitchers. Josh Beckett is a known entity for the Boston Red Sox, a known entity who has won 65 games over the last 4 seasons with a sub-4 ERA. They are also very aware of his health and how to manage him, something that is not always completely evident with free agent pitchers (see: Carl Pavano). It is also worth noting that this contract means that the "Big Three" pitchers in the Red Sox organization are all locked up through 2014, meaning that the Red Sox know for a fact that Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, and John Lackey will be at the front of their rotation for the next few years, also allowing them to know how they will allocate money for other parts of the club.

Now, for the move I didn't like:

Oakland Athletics Designate Jack Cust for Assignment
This move completely puzzled me. I know the Athletics have more depth than they know what to do with in the Outfield, but Jack Cust should be in the every day DH spot. The reasoning behind the move is that they plan to move Eric Chavez into the every day DH spot, which makes some degree of sense because he has become so injury prone. However, it seems like they could have released one of their all-glove no-bat outfielders (especially since Coco Crisp broke his finger) instead of releasing Cust who (as the article notes) has hit 84 Home Runs over the past 3 seasons, which is in the top 5 for all Outfielders. In addition to that, Cust's lowest OBP the last three seasons with the Athletics was .356, and the fewest Walks he has ever drawn in a full season is 93. Those are great numbers, especially for a guy who is getting $2.65mm per season. He may have a problem with Batting Average, but when you can put up a good OPS every season that doesn't matter so much, just look at Carlos Pena.

Now, I know that the new sexy stat in place of OBP is suddenly Defense, with guys who are all-bat and no defense (see: Jermaine Dye, Vladimir Guerrero) either not getting signed or getting underpaid, and Cust is certainly no defensive wizard. I can understand the change teams are making towards defense, but, even WITH Cust I don't see the Athletics scoring a whole lot of runs, so cutting your biggest power threat, barring a return to form by Eric Chavez, just seems illogical.
On a related note, Eric Chavez has also publically stated that he is completely baffled byt he move, especially because they had him working on playing 3B all Spring Training. The rest of the clubhouse is probably also a little concerned about the situation and the lack of communication.

What do you think of these two moves? Let me know!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Opening Night and Prognostications

I hope everyone enjoyed the Opening Night game tonight. I know a lot of people who aren't fans of the media favoritism that the Red Sox and Yankees get kind of hate the rivalry, but in my opinion tonight's game was pretty representative of every Red Sox-Yankees game. They almost always seem to be back-and-forth games, and you can never really tell who is going to win, and I think that kind of tension is really what makes a slow-paced game like baseball exciting. It was also great to see the new guys on both sides contribute in their first game with their new team. I think a back-and-forth game like tonight's game is a perfect Opening Day game, aside from the fact that you had to listen to Joe Morgan talk for 4 hours. But that's a whole other blog topic.

On another note, I figured I'd go out on a limb and make my predictions for who would win each division and each Wild Card with some short explanations. Remember these are just predictions, and essentially who I think is the most likely to win their respective division/wild card, the way baseball is, this kind of thing is very difficult to predict with any kind of accuracy. Almost any team has a chance of making the post season (obviously with a few exceptions), so don't get mad if I leave your team out.

American League:

AL East: New York Yankees
I think the resources they have, as well as the team they already have in place, especially their line-up, will once again carry them to the post season. Adding Javier Vazquez, if he can perform like he did in the NL, may actually have strengthened their already formidable rotation.

AL Central: Minnesota Twins
Losing Joe Nathan has caused them to not be as much of a favorite as they were, but they have an extremely underrated line-up. a 3-4-5 of Mauer, Morneau, Kubel is just as devastating as what the Yankees have to offer in my opinion, and I didn't even mention Michael Cuddyer. Their rotation, while not overwhelming, is solid enough to excel in the AL Central, and even either Scott Baker or Francisco Liriano can step up, it could be an impressive rotation.

AL West: Texas Rangers
Shocking that I didn't pick the Seattle Mariners or the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim? I am a little too, but this division is pretty hard to predict. The Mariners have great pitching and defense, but far too many question marks in their line-up. They probably won't hit more than 125 home runs this year, which is amazingly low. Cliff Lee's injury also worries me. The Angels have the opposite problem, with really shallow pitching and a solid line-up. The Rangers have a devastating line-up, without even accounting for a likely improvement this year from Josh Hamilton and new addition Vladimir Guerrero, and they have solid enough pitching to win this division. In other words, they are the most well-rounded team in the division.

AL Wild Card: Boston Red Sox
I might be a little biased here, but I think the Red Sox will once again win the AL Wild Card. They have a good line-up that probably won't score as much as the line-up last year did, but they won't have as much of a slip in Runs Scored as some people would suggest. They will still be in the top 5 in Runs Scored come season's end. They also, in my opinion, have the best rotation in baseball as long as everyone can pitch up to their level and stay healthy.

Honorable Mention: Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays could very well surprise everyone and win either the AL East or the Wild Card. I am pretty comfortable saying that their line-up will score more runs than everyone in the AL that isn't the Yankees, and if their pitching can avoid underachieving like it did last year, they are very much in the race.

National League:

NL East: Philadelphia Phillies
I'm kind of taking the easy way out, but that's what this is supposed to be about, I'm picking the teams that have the highest chance of winning their division from my point of view. The Phillies have the best line-up in the National League, and if the Yankees removed their DH and put a pitcher in his spot, it would be an extremely close contest. The Phillies are starting the season with half of their rotation on the DL, but they will be back quickly enough that I don't think it's a huge deal. If they all come back fairly healthy, they'll be fine. The addition of Roy Halladay is impressive, and their pitching after him isn't AMAZING, but their line-up is so good that it doesn't matter.

NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals
Carpenter, Wainwright, Pujols, Holliday. Done.

NL West: Colorado Rockies
I'm officially on the Rockies bandwagon. I think they have a line-up that could quite possibly finish second in Runs Scored to the Phillies, or even surpass them if they have a ridiculous enough year. Their 8th hitter, Clint Barmes, hit over 20 Home Runs last year, which is ridiculous. I think their pitching is underrated and that Ubaldo Jimenez is a potential Cy Young candidate int he NL.

NL Wild Card: Atlanta Braves
I had the Atlanta Braves slated to win the Wild Card before they even decided to start Jason Heyward this year, who looks like he could be an amazing player. I'm also a little skeptical that he will contribute amazingly right away, but if he does they are even more of a lock for the playoffs. They have a better line-up this year than last year, and they have just as deep of pitching as they did last year with Hudson stepping in to replace Vazquez.

Anyway, that's all I have for now. Hope everyone enjoys the first week of baseball!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Welcome to my Blog!

Hey everyone,
As you can see this is the first post in my blog. This blog will pretty much completely be about baseball, and all things baseball. While I will admit that I am primarily a Red Sox fan, and they will probably be featured more than any other team, I will be talking about all the goings-on in baseball from the New York Yankees to the Washington Nationals, if they are topics worth discussing.
You can expect statistical discussion, trade discussion, single-game discussion, and well, pretty much anything that has to do with baseball. Most frequently I think the posts will be about current events in baseball, rather than historic things, although I am sure I will bring those up from time-to-time.
I have created this blog because I no longer feel that simply discussing baseball with people I know is enough of an outlet for my passion for the game, and I need to get to the thoughts that I have about the game out on the interweb. I intend to make a minimum of one post a week, and hopefully I can hold myself to that.

Thanks for reading my blog, you can probably expect an actual baseball-related post tomorrow night or on Monday after the Opening Night game! Hope you enjoy reading.