Random Link Dump

Faith and Fear in Flushing takes a look into what would have happened had the Mets completed a trade for Barry Larkin in 2000 instead of ubercrap rental, Mike Bordick.

Buckshot Mammarybrush doesn't have the same ring to it.

The future is much brighter and Omar Minaya never appears!

Rob Neyer on ESPN takes a guess as to what hat certain players should wear when they get inducted into the HOF. I can see a case made for Piazza wearing Mets or Dodgers and being a Mets fan I would love to see him under that guise, but I can’t fault him for the other choice.

Ted Berg interviews a woman with the hyphenated name Wrigley-Field…and that wasn’t done on purpose.

Perhaps the best name ever or just about the worst name for a product that I don’t want to use.

I like the moxie in paying to sponsor Johan Santana’s Baseball-Reference page when you’re a Phillies blog, but the comments are idiot Phillies fans arguing with idiot Mets fans. Not to mention the “injuries aren’t an excuse” line. Take Pujols away from St. Louis for 75% of a season. Suffer without Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Carlos Ruiz, and an assortment of pitchers for most of a season. Sub .500 is almost a guarantee. Of course that Bay comment is beyond ridiculous.

Top 20 Prospects from Minor League Ball for Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets. Gives you an idea of the full effect of the Lee in, Lee out, Halladay in move. Also, Steve Matz, who appears for the Mets at #17, went to my High School…unfortunately I couldn’t convince my friend that his sister should force Matz into a relationship.

Baseball Projection gives us the CHONE (not Figgins related) projections for players in 2010. Now you can watch as your fantasy picks amount to crap in comparison.

FanGraphs has a hilariously titled article on Casey Kotchman. Besides the title it is well written and well researched.

Global World Series is a Great Idea

ESPN posted this brief article about the idea of a Global World Series.  Actually, what they mean is a series between the winner of the World Series and their Japanese counterparts.

The Players Union would have to agree to this, and no doubt there will be concerns over extending the already-too-long baseball season, travel time, and potential injuries.  I’m not a big fan of fixing what isn’t broken (see: Interleague Play), but I think this is a great idea.

Japanese players can play their style or ours

Baseball has lost its preeminent place in the American sporting scene to football.  Yet it’s the bees knees in Japan.  That country loves baseball, and if the last two World Baseball Classics are proof of anything, they’re really good at it.  Major League Baseball should embrace Japan as a partner in the lovely hobby of baseball love.

Here’s how to go about this.  First, tidy up the MLB season and particularly the playoffs so that the World Series ends in October.  The Japanese league championship is also held in October, so timing works.  Pacific Ocean travel is exhausting and time-consuming, so the 7-game series should alternate years between a Japanese and an American venue.  Because this is an international exhibition, and weather is a problem in November, the American series should not be played in the home stadium of the World Series winner, but rather a rotating venue with little chance of rain or snow-outs.  Baseball can cherry pick its venues (Seattle, Los Angeles) at first to ensure good attendance until the concept gains momentum.

Speaking only for myself, I’d love to watch this series.  I want to know who the best players are in Japan, and I want to see them compete against Americans.  The World Baseball Classic does not reliably set that up often enough.  This might also help stem the tide of Japanese players coming to the US.  As much as I love Ichiro!, America’s money and (allegedly) higher caliber of play is threatening to reduce the Japanese leagues into a farm system.  Letting Japanese players with “the zeal of a challenger” get their fix in this series might be enough to prevent them from bailing on their homeland league.

There are some problems with the idea.  First, it will undermine the WBC’s current monopoly on international baseball competition.  Second, finding an American city interested in a 7-game series between a Japanese team and not their hometown team may be problematic.  But as the 2008 World Series showed, nothing takes the wind out of a series’ sails like horrible weather.  I think it’s worth taking the hit in attendance in order to ensure playable conditions.  Furthermore, I expect the money in this for the MLB is in television rights, not seat prices.  So price it cheaply until it gets big.

Here’s my personal data point: I hate the Yankees, and was very unhappy that they won the 2009 World Series.  Yet if Philly had a domed stadium, I would buy a $50 ticket to watch the Yankees play in Philly against the Japanese champions.  File that away, MLB marketing drones.

I would be surprised if this happens, because I think the Players Union will not like it.  A team that just won the World Series will not want to fly to Japan for two weeks immediately afterward.  But as a fan I’d love to watch that matchup, it contains the potential for great baseball and international bragging rights, and would be an important step in baseball’s embrace of the international baseball community.

Requirements for BBWAA: Inability to Apply Reason and Logic

leave all jokes about women at the door. (you can find my reference)

Andre Dawson flew into the Hall of Fame on just about the flimsiest batting percentages this side of…Jeff Francouer? I’ve heard several arguments for Dawson’s election involving him being ROY, MVP, 400HR-300SB, he played CF on injured knees (oh, the grit). Now we debunk:

Rookie of the Year
1977, a time before anyone knew about OBP and everyone just cared about HR. There were three players deserving of honors and a Floyd Bannister receiving attention.

Player Games Runs HR RBI SB BA OBP SLG
A 146 79 5 32 56 .290 .363 .390
B 139 64 19 65 21 .282 .326 .474
C 99 67 12 65 6 .297 .372 .480

Player A is Gene Richards who didn’t do much else besides put up more of the same types of seasons for a few more years. You’ll notice that Player C had more runs and the same RBI total as Player B in fewer games, but B did hit 7 more HRs in those 40 more games. So yeah, Dawson squeaked by because, surprise, surprise, the BBWAA deemed him better than Steve Henderson (who never did much else, nor hit more than 10 HR in a season following his shun). And hey, Bobby Crosby, Walt Weiss, and Chris Sabo have all been ROY because there was literally no one better than them (and they had worse seasons than Dawson). So yeah, ROY election is a great attribute to mention.

Most Valuable Player
Over the years there have been several players who have had anomalously productive seasons. Andre Dawson had one of those where he hit almost twice as many HR as his career 162 game average and 39 more RBIs.
Writers like to whine about how the MVP should come from a playoff team or at least a contending team. Dawson’s Cubs finished last in their division. So way to go there.
Dawson was ahead of the other considered players in only HR and RBI. 10 players had more Runs, 12 had more SB, 11 had a higher BA, ALL 17 of the other hitters had a higher OBP, 5 had a higher SLG, 2 were better in all five of those categories, and another 4 in four of the five.
There was literally no one else close to Dawson on the Cubs that year (Sandberg and Sutcliffe were distant stars) and I can see a case made for MVPness (say it aloud and at work), but if you harp on disregarding non-playoff contending players for MVP, then don’t use that as a case for HOF when you can look it up and see that they were wrongly (in your stupid, stupid eyes) MVPed (aloud again).
Edgar Martinez was once not given enough attention for MVP in 1995. Reason? People like to pay attention to HR and RBI. By “people” I mean shells of human beings who ply their trade in the sports “writing” industry.

The 400 HR, 300 SB Club
…of which there are two others, Willie Mays and Barry Bonds. Arbitrary stat plateau groupings are fun. A-Rod is about to join that group (3 more SBs) and Carlos Beltran could feasibly make it if he refrains from random injuries and freak head collisions. All four mentioned players are way better than Dawson. Chase Utley could make it if he steals more and David Wright could make it if he hits somewhere other than Citifield. Ryan Braun and Hanley Ramirez also have the opportunity and years ahead of them. Those four players are also way better than Dawson in terms of BA and OBP…plate discipline in general.

Playing CF on injury ravaged knees
…is a good way to ruin them even more. Oh right, after several years of Gold Glove (hey, another arbitrarily voted award, but this time by the managers, who focus more on building and running their team than thinking “that player can really flash the leather”) defense in CF, Dawson had to switch to RF because his knees really sucked and an OF can spend a lot of time sucking in RF without negatively impacting his team as much. So Dawson went and sucked a bunch in RF (where he logged more seasons and innings than he did in CF).
You want admirable? How about a player who wasn’t the greatest fielder so he sacrificed playing time in the field and switched to DH, becoming one of the best hitters in the game. Yeah, Edgar Martinez can swat the crap out of Dawson.

Everything Else
We can take a look at Win Shares, WAR, RARP, FRAR, OPS+ and wOBA to get a better look at the HOF candidates. The first four will be averaged for 162 game average, since Andre Dawson’s balky knees somehow managed to allow him to play 21 seasons giving him extra stat padding over other players. A quick briefing assuming you understand or just read the links attached to those odd looking words: all of these attempt to compile stats into one complete valuation of a player. It is no small surprise that Babe Ruth usually finishes atop all other players (his average seasonal WAR was 11.13!). Some take into account defense or position on the field. The batters are presented in order of HOF voting percentage.

Player WinShares WAR RARP FRAR OPS+ wOBA
Andre Dawson 20.97 3.50 33.42 18.99 119 .352
Roberto Alomar 25.54 4.33 43.85 27.31 116 .365
Barry Larkin 25.79 5.11 53.50 30.02 116 .366
Edgar Martinez 24.04 5.30 48.96 1.73 147 .405
Tim Raines 25.25 4.20 44.81 15.60 124 .374
Mark McGwire 29.56 5.45 56.36 9.34 162 .415
Alan Trammell 22.47 4.72 41.90 33.91 110 .343
Fred McGriff 21.47 3.33 36.02 8.63 134 .382
Don Mattingly 23.87 3.62 29.77 14.07 127 .361
Dave Parker 21.48 2.49 28.12 11.04 121 .352
Dale Murphy 21.87 3.30 34.78 18.28 121 .357
Harold Baines 17.57 2.12 21.64 8.07 120 .356
Andres Galarrage 18.02 1.92 18.09 8.47 118 .363
Robin Ventura 21.20 4.29 30.16 25.56 114 .350

Crapping on baserunners from great heights is also something Alomar could do that Dawson couldn't.


Not one of them has even half of Ruth’s average WAR!

No player trumped Dawson in all six categories, but several players didn’t spend most of their time fielding or were more known for a much more (than Dawson) prolific bat than glove. 11 (of the other 13) players had better Win Shares, 8 had better WAR, 8 had better RARP, 4 had better FRAR, 8 had better OPS+, and 10 had better wOBA (one matched Dawson). 5 players (Alomar through McGwire) were better in five of the six and another 4 better in four of six. The averages hide the fact that some players suffered from short careers or injury trouble (Mattingly had 11 seasons of 162 and McGwire 11.5), but they also reveal just how much a few more seasons or a couple more sets of 162 games can boost a player’s stats. I would like to point out that it is criminal that Baines and Galarraga received more votes than Ventura, none of whom are HOF worthy, but if Baines is due for repeated ballots then Ventura deserves the honor also. Alomar, Larkin, and Trammell get positional boosts to some of the categories, but in all honesty SS and 2B are more difficult than CF and way harder than RF. Fred McGriff is a close comparison to Andre Dawson, albeit with worse fielding (1B, DH) and lower SB, but way better percentages. Tim Raines is a better player than Dawson and it is no coincidence that Dawson’s first 100-plus RBI total (113) matches up with then teammate Raines’ 133 Run season. By the way, Dawson only posted four 100-plus RBI seasons.
His five highest HR totals are: 49, 32, 31, 27, 25 (twice). Huge drop-off? Yup. Despite his combination of high SLG and competent SB his five highest Run totals are: 107, 104, 96, 90, 90. Granted, he played on bad (losing) teams 10 of the 17 seasons he received 400+ ABs.
Let’s mention (limited) postseason experience. In 15 games Andre went 3R, 0HR, 3RBI, 2SB, .186BA, .238OBP, .237SLG. That is a small sample size of sucking. (That’s what she said)

There is a whole slew of BBWAA writers out there defending faulty and misguided opinions (they can be wrong in the face of mountains of evidence) over why Dawson is a HOFer and so-and-so or whosiwhatsit isn’t. Or why Jack Morris is and Bert Blyleven isn’t. And getting made fun of for it. And then basically regurgitating the same story two years later. But more on that later and how one game is all the judgement needed. I have to run the numbers.

WordPress has this spellchecker…that doesn’t contain WordPress apparently, but also dislikes ‘judgement’ in favor of ‘judgment.’ This is just wrong (even though judgment is apparently allowable). The freakin’ ‘e’ is what softens the ‘g.’ Under this spelling, applying English word pronunciation guidelines (yes, not always following stringent rules (look at that g-e combo)), we should say “jud-guh-ment” which could be a nice breath freshener. Fuck you, word bastardizers.

I am always right. Right? Right. OK, lesson adjourned.

Please, Joe Mauer, Stay a Twin (update)

Resident Boston wacko Jonathan Papelbon provides some interesting quotes in Gordon Edes’ recent ESPN column.  The article is mostly about Papelbon’s off season and contract status.  One quote that drew my attention is the following: 

Closers are millionaires too, you know

“But what do I have to give up to be in that marriage? Understand, I’m in the prime of my career. Why would I give up something? I’d give up something if it’s fair to both sides, but I want to do things for my fellow closers, just like Mo paved the way for me. I want every closer out there, man, to get every penny they deserve.”

I have speculated that the Players Union pressures big free agents to follow the most money, in order to inflate the salaries of lesser players.  I don’t know if that is true, but Papelbon provides evidence that such thinking is certainly floating out there.

——-

Also, Roy Halladay, as expected, left the Blue Jays.  However, he took less money in order to play for a contender.  Some ASC props to you, Doc, for being a classy competitor (to the extent that signing a $20 million dollar per year contract can be said to be a classy move).

Edgar Martinez > Dan Shaughnessy

Somebody named Dan Shaughnessy hacked into SI.com on Monday and posted an article about why he’s not voting for Edgar Martinez for the Hall of Fame.  I suggest you read the article now, before it gets taken down by the site admins.

Shawnhessy doesn't like numbers

Oh wait, seems like Dan Shaughwhatever is a columnist for the Boston Globe.  Huh, that’s weird, I thought Sports Illustrated catered to a national audience.  Oh well.

Here is a tasty sample platter of Shoonbussy’s reasoning for not voting for Edgar (with acknowledgement to the Fire Joe Morgan guys for pioneering this style of textual rebuttal):

I just can’t bring myself to put him in Cooperstown alongside Ted Williams, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.
But how about putting him next to Carlton Fisk, Lloyd Waner and Joe Medwick?  They’re all there, too.

Each Hall voter applies his own standards, and mine often references the famous line that Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart applied to pornography. Stewart argued that he might not be able to define what was pornographic, “but I know it when I see it.”
Ah, okay, so you’re making shit up as you go along.  I’m glad you’re in charge of enshrining people.  I’d hate for those hallowed halls to be defined by some kind of rigorous bar against which players are measured.

Edgar Martinez was a very fine hitter, but I never said to myself, “The Mariners are coming to Fenway this weekend. I wonder how the Sox are going to pitch to Edgar Martinez?”
Oh wait, I think we’re getting to the gist of it here.  Let’s keep going.

It was different with players like Eddie Murray and Jim Rice.
The reasoning emerges.  See it yet? 

A lifetime .312 average is impressive and Edgar’s OPS puts him in an elite class. But he wasn’t a home run hitter (309), he couldn’t carry a team, he didn’t scare you, and (sorry) he rarely played defense.... Edgar Martinez was a fine hitter and got on base a lot. But he was a corner infielder who didn’t hit a lot of homers and then he became a guy who spent the majority of every game watching from the bench.

Okay.  So Dan Shooboody thinks that teams weren’t afraid of Edgar Martinez, he didn’t hit home runs, and he didn’t play defense.  Let us address this, as succinctly as we possibly can.

Not photoshopped.

1)  Dan Shudthumper thinks Edgar is not a Hall of Famer because The Red Sox weren’t afraid of him.  I looked up numbers, and that’s valid.  Edgar only hit .299/.395/.469 in 69 games in Fenway.  However, how did The Edgar do against some other teams (in away games)?

Angels (.319/.423/.489) in 97 games
Rangers (.282/.381/.508) in 78 games
Orioles (.327/.436/.574) in 56 games
Red Sox (.299/.395/.469) in 69 games
White Sox (.315/.423/.514) in 68 games
Twins (.371/.454/.610) in 69 games
Yankees (.337/.439/.545) in 68 games

You can bet that sports writers in St. Paul and New York knew when The Edgar was coming to town.  And if one team can get a player out, then surely Jim Rice is not a Hall of Famer, having hit only .264/.305/.449 against the Angels in 148 games.

2)  Edgar did not hit home runs.  Well, he hit 309 in 7,213 at bats, or 1 per 23 at bats.  Jim Rice hit 382 in 8,225 at bats, or 1 per 21 at bats.  The big difference?  Jim Rice hit them in Dan Shankapotomus’s home town

Our boy pulls out the ol’ calculator-hate-card in this article (quoted below), but he does mention Edgar’s .300/.400/.500 career line.  So on the off-chance that he actually knows what slugging percentage means, let’s point out that Edgar’s career was .515.  Jim Rice’s career slugging was .502.  Slugging is a rough measure of your power.  Edgar didn’t hit 500 home runs because he was busy hitting 500 doubles.  Jim Rice hit 73 more home runs and 141 fewer doubles in 1,112 more at bats.

Corner infielder needs to hit home runs, eh?  Perhaps you would have preferred Vinny Castilla, or Ken Caminiti?  Are you suggesting they were more appropriate corner infielders?  That they knew their roles better?

3)  Edgar didn’t play defense.  Yeah, he was a DH for much of his career.  But Paul Molitor, himself a DH and a Hall of Famer, put it nicely.  Speaking about being a DH and under Hall consideration, he said: “They’re not going to hold it against you.  It’s part of the game and should be included as such.”

It’s part of the game.  It’s patently unfair to deny someone membership in the Hall because they played your least favorite position.  To Dan Shawshank, The Edgar’s real sin was not being a DH in Boston. 

Here, again, is David Schoenfield’s great article laying out Edgar’s case for the Hall.  He includes all those numbers which Dan Shawnofthedead thinks are ruining the game (if analysis is ruining the fun of a game for you, you must not like the game that much).  But, as Dan Stickinthemud says,

The stat geeks, those get-a-lifers who are sucking all the joy out of our national pastime, no doubt will be able to demonstrate that Edgar was better than Lou Gehrig and Rogers Hornsby. I’m not buying. Stats don’t tell the whole story.

And for Dan Shouldntbevoingforthehall, the whole story is that Edgar didn’t play in Boston.

Reboot: The Pirates’ Movement for .500

We already know that the Mariners have made a remarkable turnaround following the switch from the dunderheaded Bill Bavasi to this era’s Billy Beane, Jeff Zdurflip. So now we come to face the Pittsburgh Pirates who have suffered losing seasons something like the past 236 straight years. The final straw leading to now-GM Neal Huntington’s hiring was the regime of David Littlefield.
Littlefield left several Buc prospects open for the 2003 Rule 5 draft despite room on the 40-man roster and sure enough 5 of them were gone within the first 6 picks. Other teams had had their eyes on the foolish Pirate’s gems, but had to settle for nothing or something less appealing. Oh, and then the Pirates didn’t even select anyone despite all the ridiculous space they had on the 40. Littlefield also traded away several big-talent players (Aramis Ramirez, Sean Casey) for basically nothing, but also managed to get some gems occasionally (Jason Bay). In the real draft he was apparently given carte blanche to make the most boneheaded decisions ever. Admittedly, he had little money to work with for those Boras-type bonuses, but still, how can you not draft Wieters. From the 2002 draft I will supply you with a list of names and you shall select the lame-o they selected: BJ Upton, Fielder, Swisher, Kazmir, Hamels, Bullington, Cain, Francouer. Success!
Towards the end of the ’07 season someone finally decided this continuing crapfest wasn’t good for business and so Littlefield out, Huntington in. Soon after the team began a transformation…and by transformation I mean most of the veteran starters were traded and hordes of prospects came flowing into the minors. Nealio also managed to convince ownership to at least up the money for scouting, development, and drafting (salary/bonuses) of players. The payroll still remains at one year of A-Rod.
The past two drafts have seen a total of $18.7 million tossed out for young blood including a couple of seven figure bonuses for a 6th rounder and an 8th rounder (hmm, better be worth it). They have also signed a couple of Indians (real ones, not Native Americans) who were winners of a game show so that Pittsburgh can become India’s team (sure!) and a South African, but on the whole have expanded their scouting scope a great deal (for the better).
From December 7th, 2007 through November 3rd, 2009 the Pirates made 15 trades gutting their team of their bigger names in return for promising to not-so-promising prospects. And here they are:

DATE IN OUT TEAM
12/07/07 Marino Salas, RHP
Kevin Roberts, RHP
Salomon Torres, RHP MIL
03/26/08 Tyler Yates, RHP Todd Redmond, RHP ATL
07/25/08 Jose Tabata, OF
Ross Ohlendorf, RHP
Dan McCutchen, RHP
Jeff Karstens, RHP
Xavier Nady, OF
Damaso Marte, LHP
NYY
07/31/08 Andy LaRoche, 3B L
Bryan Morris, RHP L
Craig Hansen, RHP B
Brandon Moss, OF B
Jason Bay, OF (Manny) LAD, BOS
08/21/08 Robinzon Diaz, C Jose Bautista, 3B TOR
12/10/08 Jason Jaramillo, C Ronny Paulino, C PHI
04/15/09 Delwyn Young, 2B/OF Eric Krebs, RHP LAD
06/03/09 Gorkys Hernandez, OF
Jeff Locke, LHP
Charlie Morton, RHP
Nate McLouth, OF ATL
06/29/09 Eric Fryer, OF
Casey Erickson, RHP
Eric Hinske, OF NYY
06/30/09 Lastings Milledge, OF
Joel Hanrahan, RHP
Nyjer Morgan, OF
Sean Burnett, LHP
WAS
07/22/09 Argenis Diaz, SS
Hunter Strickland, RHP
Adam LaRoche, 1B BOS
07/29/09 Jeff Clement, C/1B
Ronny Cedeno, SS
Nathan Adcock, RHP
Brett Lorin, RHP
Aaron Pribanic, RHP
Ian Snell, RHP
Jack Wilson, SS
SEA
07/29/09 Tim Alderson, RHP Freddy Sanchez, 2B SF
07/30/09 Kevin Hart, RHP
Jose Ascanio, RHP
Josh Harrison, 2B/OF
John Grabow, LHP
Tom Gorzelanny, LHP
CHC
11/03/09 Akinori Iwamura, 2B Jesse Chavez, RHP TB

And now we run the numbers:
-19 Players Out, 33 Players In
-9 Pitchers Out: 5 Righty, 4 Lefty
-19 Pitchers In: 18 Righty, 1 Lefty -that is a worrying number.
-1 Catcher Out, 3 Catchers In: I mention this because they drafted a catcher (Tony Sanchez) with their first ’09 pick and he is now their 3rd ranked prospect (Baseball America Org. Ranks).

This is a Gorkys...a jedi?


-Jose Tabata (#2), Tim Alderson (#7), and Gorkys Hernandez (#10) are acquisitions that also feature in the top 10.
-Jose Tabata – Best Hitter for Average, Dan McCutchen – Best Changeup, Argenis Diaz – Best Defensive Infielder and Best Infield Arm, Gorkys Hernandez – Best Defensive Outfielder.
-Andy LaRoche, Brandon Moss, and Delwyn Young all played over 100 games for Pitt in ’09. The extent of their use can be debated, but they still have time on their sides.
-Ross Ohlendorf, Charlie Morton, Jeff Karstens, and Kevin Hart all started 10 or more games for Pitt in ’09.
-Incoming batters (7 of them, not counting pitchers) made 2173 plate appearances for the club in ’09.
-Incoming pitchers (9 of them) threw 523.2 innings for the club in ’09.

Other notables for the future that the Pirates drafted are Andrew McCutchen (deserving of ROY consideration last year), Pedro Alvarez (soon to push Andy LaRoche out of 3rd), Tony Sanchez, and Brad Lincoln (a Littlefield bright spot, nope, they passed on Lincecum). At this point the Pirates minor league system must be busting at the seams with players who all require playing time to sharpen their futures. The Iwamura trade is curious since the Pirates have young players who can play his two positions so you have to wonder if he is trade fodder for sometime later on, say some LHPs come trade deadline time?
The real problem is upside. How many of these players will hit the high point of their upside and is that enough to make the Pirates a real contender some 2-5 years down the line? You can read all the scouting reports you want on a player and come away thinking the world of every single one of them, but the reality is that it could just keep them at the status quo wherein they develop a few bright spots that get traded away for prospects every trade deadline as they wallow in the basement. They have poured more money into the Latin American talent market and this is where they can finally push themselves out into the open (let’s call that .500). Playing in the NL Central is also a bonus, since if you catch a weak Cardinals team then a mid 80’s win record could land you the division.
The sky is the limit with a ton of unfinished prospects, of course the other limit is last place.
At least they have a plan, though.