Saturday, November 09, 2002
Year AB AVG OBP SLG HRWhat would you think about the player that created those numbers?
7 total seasons.
A high in batting average of .281.
A high in on-base % of .338.
A high in slugging % of .414.
6 out of the 7 years with an OBP of .320 or less.
6 out of the 7 years with a SLG less than .380.
Again, what would you think about that player?
Ever since my two-part article on the Minnesota Twins was published on BaseballPrimer.com last month, I have gotten a ton of feedback from people regarding the various Twins related issues that I touched on in the article.
Far and away, the issue that I receive the most feedback on is Luis Rivas and what I wrote about him in the article.
For those of you that missed it or have forgotten, here is exactly what I said about Rivas:
During most of this season and particularly this post-season, I, and I suspect many other Twins fans, generally referred to the Twinsí starting second baseman as "[Firetrucking] Rivas."
For most of the 2001 season, Rivasí first full year, I had high hopes for his future.
He was 22 years old, looked athletic, showed some speed, occasional power and generally appeared to have a somewhat bright future. Then he suffered a broken hand after being hit by a pitch during the first week of this season and missed significant time. Somewhere between the time he returned to the lineup and the start of the post-season, I lost all hope for Luis Rivas becoming a quality Major League second baseman.
You see, Rivas is that so-called enigma wrapped in a riddle and after seeing him this season, I am certain that I do not want to spend the time and waste the at-bats trying to solve the riddle.
He is young and athletic, but he is a horrible defensive second baseman. He has trouble on any ball that is hit to his right and he isnít much better going to his left. In fact, his range is so bad that, among everyday second basemen last season, he ranked 19th out of 20 overall and dead last in the American League in Zone Rating, with a pathetic .781. For reference, Adam Kennedy led MLB 2B last year with a .888 ZR.
This season, Rivas missed too much time to place him among everyday second basemen, but if you take his Zone Rating (.803) over the 93 games he did play and compare them to the actual everyday second basemen, he ranks 15th out of 19 total and, once again, dead last in the American League.
So, he is 23 years old and has played in two full major league seasons in which he showed, at least according to Zone Rating, the worst range of any second baseman in the American League. I donít have any scientific studies to back this up, but I am going to take a wild guess and say that most second basemen that stink defensively at 22 and 23 donít start improving as they get older and their speed and athleticism decrease.
So, Rivas stinks on defense, but what about his offense? Iím sorry you asked.
Rivas showed some promise offensively last season. While he didnít hit for a very good average or much power, he did have a somewhat decent walk rate for a 22 year old rookie and he did pretty good job stealing bases.
This season, Rivas continued to hit for a low average, but he did improve his power slightly. But that slight improvement in power was more than offset by his regression in plate discipline and his lack of stolen bases.
Basically, Luis Rivas has one thing going for him, his age. On the other side of the ledger, you have his wretched defense, a low batting average, regressing plate discipline, tons of strikeouts to go along with very little power, and vanishing stolen base abilities.
Rivas might be young and he might have some talent, but personally, I have seen enough. If this team were in a complete "rebuilding" mode I might be willing to stick with Rivas and see if his defense or plate discipline could be improved or if his power would develop further, but the Twins are contenders right now and they canít afford a black hole at 2B.
The biggest area of concern and the spot that the Twins need to upgrade the most is without a doubt second base, but the problem is, they have essentially nothing as far as second base prospects go. That being the case, the Twins main concern for this off-season should be locating and acquiring a new starting second baseman. Doing so would not only be an upgrade over their current "situation," but would also allow them to trade Luis Rivas for whatever they could get for him, which I suspect would be something of at least decent value.
The Twins need to do something to solve their problem at second base.
Since I wrote that I have received a constant supply of emails.
A few of them agree with me, but the vast majority of them basically think I am nuts.
There are a couple of main themes that the "arguments for Rivas" center around:
1) His youth and potential.
2) His defense is far better than any numbers will tell you.
I will try to deal with these two issues the best I possibly can.
1) His youth and potential.
Scroll back up to the top of this entry and take another look at those year-by-year stat lines that I showed.
Those are the stats for Luis Rivas' entire career.
Luis Rivas has not shown any ability to be a good hittter, whether he was at Single-A or the Major Leagues.
He has had 1 season out of 7 with an OBP above .320.
He has had 1 season out 7 with a SLG above .380.
At what point does he actually have to start to hit a little bit to start showing this "potential" that everyone talks about?
I am not asking him to hit like Jeff Kent or Alfonso Soriano every year, but how about a few seasons with an OBP of .350? Or a batting average over .300? Or a slugging % over .400?
Give me something, anything on which to base this "potential" on and I with Luis Rivas 100%.
But, there just isn't anything.
He has never hit for a high batting average.
He has never taken a lot of walks or gotten on base at a high clip.
He has never hit for power, home runs or otherwise.
Luis Rivas is still young and, as I said in the original article, that is pretty much his only asset right now.
But youth only helps if you have shown some sort of actual progress or a glimpse or two of something special to come.
And Luis Rivas has shown neither.
His power has not improved in 7 seasons in the Twins organization.
His plate discipline has not improved in 7 seasons in the Twins organization.
2) His defense is far better than any statistics will tell you.
I have a little saying:
If you can't hit, you better field.
If you can't field, you better hit.
And if you can't do either, you better get the hell off my team.
I believe that Luis Rivas' minor league and Major League history shows that he simply is not a good hitter.
He looks to be a .260-.270 hitter with a .300-.330 OBP and a slugging % under .400.
And, quite frankly, that is nothing special.
So, if you go by my catchy saying, he better field.
That's the problem with Rivas, he doesn't.
Luis Rivas has been at the bottom of Major League second basemen in fielding statistics for the last 2 seasons.
Defensive stats have flaws, that is for sure, but they do provide a basis by which to go by.
And a guy that is at the bottom in Zone Rating 2 seasons in a row is not real likely to be a good defender.
That said, I would never "rip" a guy's defense as much as I did Rivas' unless I had seen him play defense with my very own eyes.
And, believe it or not, I have seen the Minnesota Twins play about 250 times over the last 2 seasons and Luis Rivas has been their second baseman in about 200 of those games.
If he has some skills that go beyond what statistical evidence shows, I just do not see it.
He is extremely weak going up the middle (to his right) and he is mediocre (at best) going to his left.
He does a decent job turning a double play.
One common theme of the "Pro Rivas" comments in regard to his defense is "Scouting Reports."
Many people claim that the "Scouting Reports" on Rivas' defense say he is exceptional.
I find this laughable.
Not so much that the reports say that, but that the people who claim they do have access to such reports.
When is the last time you had access to a Major League baseball team's Scouting Report?
By "Scouting Report" I assume most people are talking about what the media (Peter Gammons, Harold Reynolds, LaVelle Neal, Dick Bremer, Bert Blyleven) tell them.
I would be absolutely shocked and amazed if Gammons and Reynolds watched 2 dozen games (or the majority of a game) in which Luis Rivas played second base.
They are watching the "Web Gems" just like you.
You can choose to believe what you hear on Baseball Tonight or what you hear during a Twins telecast, but I choose to believe what I see with my own eyes and what the statistical evidence supports.
Which is that Luis Rivas is a bad defensive second baseman.
Luis Rivas has not shown anything in his entire 7 year career with the Minnesota Twins that would jump out at you and say he has this "potential" that everyone talks about.
You may read these "Scouting Reports" or hear Harold Reynolds talk about him during Twins highlights, but, at some point, actions and performance have to start speaking, if not louder than words, at least loud enough to be heard.
Batting averages of .259, .239, .281, .254, .276, .266 and .246 aren't speaking very loudly.
On-base percentages of .320, .301, .302, .309, .338, .319 and .300 are pretty much silent.
And slugging percentages of .343, .322, .374, .378, .414, .362 and .379 are...well, you get the point.
His offense and defense have both been very bad at the Major League level during his 2+ seasons with the Twins.
And there is nothing in his 5 year minor league history that would suggest he has the potential to be a MUCH better hitter than he has been, which is what he would need to be to be of value.
The only thing Luis Rivas has going for him right now is his age, but there are plenty of middle infielders that are younger than him and some of them even have minor league track records that show they can actually hit a little bit.
Waiting around for years and wasting thousands of at bats on a pennant contending club while hoping a young second baseman starts hitting better than he has ever shown the ability to hit and starts fielding better than he has ever shown the ability to field is just not a good idea.
I think fans and particularly Twins fans, have a tendency to want to just stick with what they already have.
It might be fear of the unknown or it might be something else, I have no idea.
For a team like the Twins, sticking with what you have, when what you have is simply not very good, is a bad idea.
They are ready to compete right now, not in 2007 when Luis Rivas is 27 years old and maybe finally hitting .280/.340/.400.
"Potential" is only worth waiting for when there is some kind of sign that it is likely to actually arrive at some point and be worthwhile.
I don't see that sign in anything Luis Rivas has done since 1996.
Friday, November 08, 2002
Again with the articles?Ladies, gentlemen and children of all ages...I would like to direct your attention to something new, exciting and wonderful...
Yes, that's right...my newest article for BaseballPrimer.com is published and available for everyone to read!
To become a part of this exciting new development, all you have to do is click on this:
The article is titled: Top 40 Prospects: A Year In Review.
In it, I compile a consensus list of the top 40 prospects in baseball by combining the lists of 6 of the top minor league sources around.
Then, I take a look back at how the 2002 season treated each of the players on the list (injuries, trades, bad performance, good performance, etc) and decide whether or not their "stock" went up, down or stayed the same.
Please head over to Baseball Primer and check out my newest article.
Print off a few copies of it and give it to everyone in your office, put one in your kid's lunch box or go door-to-door in the your neighborhood and hand them out.
Or, just click on the link to the article that I provided and read it off the computer screen in the privacy of your own office/cubicle/room.
I am told my articles make wonderful reading material for the bathroom and when you're done you can use it to...nevermind.
As always, feel free to let me know what you think about the article by sending an email to: AaronGleeman@aol.com
Wednesday, November 06, 2002
The Big UnitRandy Johnson won his 4th straight (and 5th overall) Cy Young Award yesterday.
That wasn't really much of a surprise, as Johnson was pretty clearly baseball's best pitcher in 2002.
The surprising part, to me at least, was that Johnson received every single first-place vote.
He deserved to get all of them, but I just figured there would be a couple of Phil Rogers type sportswriters (read: idiots) that would either give their 1st place vote to Curt Schilling or even John Smoltz.
But, I seemed to have underestimated the voters for once.
It seems to me that the big question with Johnson now becomes what his place among the all-time great starting pitchers is.
He still has, what would seem to be, some very productive years left in his arm, but at the age of 39 it is definitely late enough to start looking at his career.
I have been looking at it tonight, and it is pretty damn impressive.
Randy Johnson was drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 2nd round of the 1985 draft.
He pitched a total of 418 innings in the Montreal minor league system:
IP ERA W L SO BB H HR SO/9 BB/9 H/9Now, those are some interesting numbers.
Randy struck out more than a batter per inning.
He also walked nearly a batter per inning and gave up fewer hits than walks!
I am not quite sure what I would have thought about Johnson as a prospect if I would have been thinking about such things in 1985 (I was 2 at the time, so it probably wasn't real high on my priorities list).
Nick Neugebauer, a rookie for the Brewers this season, had very similar minor league numbers the past several seasons and I am pretty skeptical about him, so I would suspect I would have been about Johnson too.
Randy Johnson made his Major League debut with the Expos in 1988, making 4 starts and going 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA.
He pitched another 30 innings for Montreal in 1989 and then was traded to the Seattle Mariners, along with Brian Holman and Gene Harris, for Mark Langston and a PTBNL that turned out to be Mike Campbell.
Campbell never pitched an inning and Langston ended up making a grand total of 24 starts for the Expos (all in 1989) and spent the majority of the rest of his career with the California/Anaheim Angels.
So, what did the Mariners gets for 177 innings of Mark Langston?
I think they did okay.
Brian Holman pitched a total of 545 innings for the Mariners over the course of 3 seasons.
He went 32-35 with an ERA right around league average and was out of MLB in 1991, at the age of 26.
Gene Harris pitched 94 innings in a Mariners uniform, all in relief.
Randy Johnson pitched a total 1,838 innings over 10 seasons in Seattle.
He won 130 and lost only 74 (a .637 winning %), had a 3.42 ERA and racked up 2,162 strike outs.
And, as if that weren't enough, the Mariners received several valuable players (mainly Freddy Garcia) from the Astros when they traded Johnson to Houston in the middle of the 1998 season.
Johnson only started 11 games for the Astros that year, but he made them count.
He pitched 85 innings, won 10 games, lost only once, struck out 116 batters and had a 1.28 ERA.
The Astros won the NL Central Division after going 36 and 16 with Johnson on the roster (but only 26 and 15 in games he didn't start).
RJ left Houston in the off-season and signed a long-term deal with the then 2nd year Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Big Unit won his first National League Cy Young Award in his first season with the D-Backs and led them to a 100-62 record, which was a massive, 35 game improvement over their 1st season.
Johnson has won the Cy Young Award in all of his seasons in Arizona and the D-Backs have had a winning record in each of those years.
Here are his combined #s in 4 seasons as a D-Back:
GP IP ERA W L SO BB HNot a bad free agent signing!
He has pitched in exactly 35 games in each of the 4 seasons.
Won 17, 19, 21 and 24 games.
Struck out 364, 347, 372 and 334 batters.
Pitched 272, 249, 250 and 260 innings.
Had ERAs of 2.49, 2.64, 2.49 and 2.32.
And won 1 World Series Championship.
Plus, at 39 years old, he is as dominant as ever.
Randy Johnson's career totals:
G GS IP ERA W L SO BB HThe Big Unit ranks 4th in the history of baseball in strikeouts.
He is #1 all-time is strike outs per 9 innings (by a pretty huge margin).
6th all-time in hits allowed per 9 innings.
9th all-time in career winning percentage.
Back in August I put together a list of my top 20 pitchers of all-time.
I ranked Randall David Johnson 14th overall.
Being the 14th greatest pitcher in the history of baseball is a pretty amazing accomplishment, but I have a feeling that, when all is said and done, Johnson will be a lot closer to #1 than he is to #14.
Tuesday, November 05, 2002
Ho humJust another boring off-season day.
The Rookies-of-the-Year were announced and they both matched my picks.
Eric Hinske won in the AL and Jason Jennings in the NL.
Jim Thome is apparently being heavily courted by the Philadelphia Phillies.
Thome is one of my favorite players and an extremely good hitter, but the Phillies don't need to be spending $10 million or more per season on him.
They already have a very good hitter on the roster that is capable of playing first base for much, much less money.
Thome hit .304/.445/.677 this year and he is 32 years old.
Jeremy Giambi hit .259/.414/.505 this year and he is 28 years old.
Add in the fact that Thome would probably cost the Phils about $50 million bucks and it is an easy call to make.
The Phils are also pursuing David Bell.
The one thing that I think teams should never do via free agency is pay for middle of the pack talent.
David Bell is a nice player and a good guy to have on a team, but he is nothing special and there is no way someone should be attempting to sign him to multi-year deal for millions a season.
Other than that, there just isn't much else to report on in the World of Baseball.
I just put the finishing touches on my third article for BaseballPrimer.com and it should be available for everyone to check out sometime later this week.
I'll make sure to let everyone know when and where to find it.
Also, I would like to announce that my Diamond-Mind baseball team, the Minnesota Gophers, have clinched a playoff berth by winning the Three Run Homer League (TRHL) AL Central Division title.
This was my first year playing DMB and I took over a team that had been abandoned by its previous owner.
I was looking 100% to next season and beyond, so making the playoffs this year was a real shock.
I'll keep everyone posted on how I do in the post-season (not that anyone cares).
Monday, November 04, 2002
Quick hitsIf you haven't already (or even if you have) please make sure to check out the article containing my picks for the various 2002 awards.
I have gotten a lot of good feedback (both positive and negative) from readers already on my picks, although, surprisingly, few of the emails begin with "Aaron, you ignorant slut..."
This blog just went over the 10,000 visitor mark!
The site meter is at the very bottom of the page.
Not too shabby for a site that started almost exactly 3 months ago.
About 3,300-3,400 visitors a month.
I would like to get that number up over 5,000, so tell all your friends!
You may have noticed the lack of an annoying advertisement at the very top of this page.
Blogspot, in exchange for this wonderful free space, requires that everyone have a advertisement on their site, unless, of course, you pay them to take it off.
So, you can thank "Mark C." for the new ad-free environment at Aaron's Baseball Blog.
Mark (who requested his last name not be used) is a loyal reader of this site who graciously ponied up a small amount of his hard earned cash to help support the site.
So, thanks a ton Mark, it is much appreciated.
And to anyone else who enjoys the site and might be interested in donating a very small amount of money (or a big amount!) to help support the site, just drop me an email at AaronGleeman@aol.com and let me know.
The Yankees and Rockies are apparently discussing a deal that would put Mike Hampton in pinstripes.
Unless the Rockies are going to ask for nothing of value in return AND pay almost all of Hampton's salary throughout the life of his contract, I don't see why the Yankees would possibly want to do a deal like this.
And, if the Rockies don't want anything in return and they are willing to pay that much of Hampton's salary, why wouldn't they just keep him?!
If a good pitcher ever signs a long term deal with the Rockies again, he should be forced to a wear a dunce cap for the rest of his natural life.
New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon has decided that Mo Vaughn needs to lose some weight.
According to ESPN.com, Wilpon is "threatening to terminate the first baseman's remaining two-year, $32 million contract if Vaughn does not drop pounds before spring training."
It's a great idea Fred, but there is only one problem: MO VAUGHN WAS FAT LAST YEAR TOO!
It might have been a good idea to try to talk Mo into getting into shape when you first acquired him, instead of waiting until now.
Also in the article was this quote: "Vaughn was listed at 275 pounds in last season's Mets media guide."
In a related story, I was listed at 150 pounds in my junior high basketball league's media guide.
Chris Kahrl from BaseballProspectus.com has an article on ESPN.com about the off-season questions facing each team in the AL Central.
Nothing really earth shattering, but some interesting stuff.
On Thursday I told everyone how I don't like to get involved in the yearly Pete Rose discussions that are bound to occur.
I am going to stay true to my word and not discuss anything involving Rose.
However, Derek Zumsteg, also of Baseball Prospectus, has written an extremely good article that looks at various aspects of the Rose situation, including a breakdown of Bill James' semi-famous discussion of Rose from his New Historical Baseball Abstract.