Friday, January 10, 2003
A 3-way, a hot stove and a moron
The Marlins, Reds and Expos seem fairly close to completing a pretty large 3-way deal.
As far as I can tell, here are the official particulars:
The deal is apparently being held up because the Reds "want to review Penny's medical records."
To break that deal down by team...
The Reds get Brad Penny and give up Luke Hudson and Ty Howington.
The Expos get Hudson, Blaine Neal, Adrian Gonzalez and Don Levinski and give up Bartolo Colon.
The Marlins get Colon and Howington and give up Penny, Neal, Gonzalez and Levinski.
It looks like it would be a deal that is pretty good for all 3 teams.
The Expos need to cut payroll and they are almost certainly going to deal Colon this off-season, so getting 3 young pitchers and a very good first base prospect is a pretty good haul.
The Reds get a young, established starter - albeit one with some injury problems - for 2 pitching prospects.
The Marlins acquire a #1 starter and a very good pitching prospect and give up a starter with some injury concerns and one of their better hitting prospects.
That said, I really don't understand the Marlins sometimes.
A couple days ago they were saying that they had reached their budget cap and they sold off one of their best players to Japan.
And now they are about to acquire Bartolo Colon and his big salary?
For purely on-field reasons, it's not a bad deal, but I don't understand it financially.
A 1-2-3 rotation of Colon, A.J. Burnett and Josh Beckett could be damn scary though.
It's too bad they got rid of Kevin Millar because if they could find a way to put together a decent offense to go with those pitchers, they could win quite a few games in 2003.
Of course, it's possible that this 3-way deal may never get done and it's also possible that, if it does get done, the Marlins will ship Colon somewhere else (Boston?) soon after they get him from the Expos.
ESPN.com is running "Hot Stove Heaters" for every team, starting with the Twins last week and ending with the Dodgers in the middle of February.
They are basically "state of the team" reports, mid-way through the off-season.
The actual content of the articles are pretty lacking, which is disappointing, but I read yesterday's "Heater" on the Cleveland Indians and, as Twins fan, it made me feel really good.
For what seems like my entire baseball-watching lifetime, the Cleveland Indians have been kicking ass and taking names in the AL Central.
They won the division from the time I was 12 (1995) to the time I was 16 (1999), skipped a year, and then won it again when I was 18 (2001).
Check out their projected lineup and pitching rotation (as decided by ESPN.com):
CF Milton Bradley
SS Omar Vizquel
LF Matt Lawton
DH Ellis Burks
RF Karim Garcia
1B Travis Hafner
3B Ricky Gutierrez
C Josh Bard
2B John McDonald
As a prospect nut, I really like a lot of Cleveland's prospects and I think they will be quite good in a few years.
But right now, that lineup looks awful and so does the rotation.
Milton Bradley is going to be a nice player - good center field defense and something along the lines of .270/.340/.440 at the plate.
Omar Vizquel is still a decent player, although his defense is slipping and his offense has never been great.
Matt Lawton is a former Twin with some injury problems, but he'll hit if healthy.
Ellis Burks will hit til he's 50 or his knees completely disintegrate.
Karim Garcia has a lot of power, but I wouldn't expect great things from him.
Travis Hafner is actually a favorite of mine and I think he has a shot at being one of the AL's best 1B.
Ricky Gutierrez is old with a lot of injury problems and he'll be one of the worst hitting 3B in the league.
Josh Bard is a good defender, but he can't hit and the same goes with John McDonald.
They also may end up with Brandon Phillips at 2B and they just signed Shane Spencer to play somewhere, but neither of those guys will do anything significant in 2003, although I do like Phillips' future potential.
That lineup will have trouble getting above-average production from more than 3 or 4 spots and McDonald and Bard have the potential to be complete black holes on offense.
The rotation looks even worse.
C.C. Sabathia has some potential, but his strike out rate dropped way down last year and I don't think he will ever be an upper-level starter.
Brian Anderson and Jason Bere will have trouble pitching 150 innings or keeping their ERAs below 5.00.
And Ricardo Rodriguez and Cliff Lee are very nice prospects, but extremely young and untested.
The Indians also went and made arguably their best pitcher, Danys Baez, into a closer, meaning instead of giving them 200 innings a year, he'll be good for about 60.
Basically, the AL Central is a 2-team race, which I guess I suspected all along.
Seeing what Cleveland is planning on putting out on the field in 2003 really drives that point home.
A lot of the Twins fans that I talk to seem extremely confident that the Twins will have a pretty easy time repeating as division champs in 2003.
It may just be me being pessimistic, but I don't see it being very easy at all.
I think the White Sox were a little unlucky last year (as their pythagorean W-L record and record in 1-run games would indicate) and the Twins were probably a little bit lucky too, at least as far as the pythagorean W-L record goes.
Twins fans point to the injuries to Joe Mays, Eric Milton and Brad Radke and hypothesize that the team will be better because those 3 guys will be healthy.
The devil's advocate in me would say that Joe Mays isn't a very good bet to repeat his 2001 season, healthy or not, and counting on Rick Reed to pitch 190 innings with a sub-4.00 ERA in 2003 isn't the safest thing to do.
I am certain that as we come closer to opening day I will go into the AL Central race in a lot more depth.
At this point though, I would make the Twins the favorites, but not by nearly as much as most of the Twins Nation is expecting.
The good news for Minnesota and Chicago is that the other 3 teams in the AL Central have a chance at being truly awful and that might enable the 2nd place team in the division to compete for the Wild Card.
On the other hand, there are two teams in the AL East that look like 100-game winners to me, so that point may be moot.
Bud Selig, one of my least favorite human beings and the same person that brought us inter-league play, tried to put an end to the Minnesota Twins and is still working on getting rid of the Expos, has a brand new brilliant idea: He wants to give homefield advantage in the World Series to the league that wins the All-Star game.
This is all because of how the All-Star game was botched last year, in no small part because of Mr. Selig.
Suffice it to say that I think his newest idea is a really bad one.
The All-Star game is becoming less and less important, but that doesn't mean we should go ahead and tack on to that problem by deciding which team gains a significant advantage in the World Series according to whether or not their league wins an exhibition game played in unique circumstances by players from 14 or 16 different teams, most of whom already know they won't be in the World Series by the time the All-Star break rolls around.
And guess what Bud? One of the main reasons why no one cares about the All-Star game anymore is because of your brilliant idea for inter-league play. Why should we think it is a big deal to see the best AL players play the best NL players when we have seen that for weeks at a time during each of the past several regular seasons?
I mean, we already have the idiotic 1-player-per-team rule in place.
Do we really want some guy from the Devil Rays and the best player on the Tigers going against the "All-Star" from the Brewers to determine whether or not the Yankees get homefield advantage over the Giants come October?
The All-Star game is a nice thing and every year for the week before and the week after the game, people get all excited about something related to it, whether it is a player that didn't make the team or a controversy with the actual game.
But guess what? Two weeks later, no one cares.
There is no reason to mess around with the most important event in all of baseball just because Bud Selig thinks the All-Star game should be more important.
If you want to make the players play harder and take the game more seriously, offer $100,000 bucks to each player on the winning team and zero to the losers.
You'd be surprised how hard millionaires will play for an extra hundred thousand and I bet the young guys on the team making close to the minumum might be willing to pull a Pete Rose and run over Mike Piazza or Jorge Posada for 100 grand.
But please Bud, don't f@#% with the World Series.
Over at "Mike's Baseball Rants," Mike (you know, the guy that rants?) is doing a really in-depth look at the history of relief pitchers.
Click here for his latest entry on the subject.
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****
Thursday, January 09, 2003
Strolling through the headlinesLot's of stuff going on, so let's get right to it...
In one of the stranger events of the off-season, the Marlins sold the rights to Kevin Millar to the Chunichi Dragons of the Japanese League.
Yes, that's right - the same Chunichi Dragons that Tom Selleck played for in the epic film Mr. Baseball!
Looking at those two pictures, Kevin Millar kinda looks like Tom Selleck, except he has the mustache on his chin and it is vertical, not horizontal.
I have to say, I flat out do not understand this at all, from anyone but the Dragons' point of view.
Kevin Millar is a very good hitter and could help a lot of teams, including the Red Sox, whom I read earlier were interested in acquiring him.
Check out his numbers from 2000-2002:
2000 = .259/.364/.498
2001 = .314/.374/.557
2002 = .306/.366/.509
Those numbers were good for EqAs of .289, .312 and .300.
To put that in some context, here are some 2002 EqAs:
Ichiro! = .302
Nomar Garciaparra = .304
Alfonso Soriano = .304
Eric Chavez = .296
Derek Jeter = .296
Miguel Tejada = .300
Jeff Bagwell = .310
Mike Piazza = .303
Those are some impressive names, although that is not to say that Kevin Millar is as good a player as any of them.
But, purely for hitting ability, Millar is certainly right up there.
As a first baseman, left fielder or designated hitter, he would probably be among the top 5 players at his position in whichever league he was in.
And now, he'll take his .300 EqA to Japan.
Like I said, this is just very confusing to me.
I don't understand why Millar would want to go to Japan at this point in his career, after struggling through years in various independent leagues and now finally starting to become an everyday player in the Major Leagues that teams are interested in.
I don't understand why the Marlins would sell him to Japan, instead of trading him to a Major League team for some prospects or something, or (gasp!) actually keeping him and batting him in the middle of their lineup.
I guess it is sort of nice that some good players are going to Japan, since we seem likely to take most of their star players within the next several years.
The Twins and Torii Hunter are in negotiations on a contract extension.
I wrote on this subject in some depth all the way back on October 15th and, since it's in the news now, I figured I would give everyone a chance to read (or re-read) what I wrote about it.
So, for my take on Torii Hunter and a possible contract extension with the Twins, click on this link: "That's Torii With Two Eyes"
ESPN.com had a couple of "chats" with two of my favorite writers in the past couple days.
To check out Rob Neyer's chat, click here.
To go to John Sickel's chat, click here.
No real earth shattering revelations in either chat, but those guys are 2 of my favorite writers and I always enjoy their chats.
Christian Ruzich over "The Cub Reporter" has decided to do his own "Keltner List" article on Ryne Sandberg.
I really enjoyed writing and researching the two Keltner articles that I wrote for Baseball Primer (on Murray and Dawson) and I was shocked at Sandberg's low vote total, so I had a good time checking out Christian's look at Ryno.
Go check it out and a) see if you agree with Christian's answers to the Keltner List questions and b) see if it changes your mind about Sandberg or just strengthens your opinion on him.
It's a good read and "The Cub Reporter" is one of my favorite blogs.
Livan Hernandez was arrested Wednesday after getting into a fight with an "elderly man" in the street and attempting to hit the man with a golf club that came out of the trunk of Livan's car.
Two things immediately came to mind as I read the story:
1) Can you imagine Livan Hernandez playing golf? Seriously, try to picture it in your mind. You laughed, didn't you?
2) According the article, Livan Hernandez is 27 years old. Is there anyone in this entire world who has watched Livan Hernandez pitch at least 1 time that believes he is within 3 years of 27?
What does it say about Livan Hernandez that, not only would he get into a street fight with an "elderly man," but that he would feel the need to use a golf club against the guy?
Livan is listed at "6-2, 240" and I don't know that I believe "240" any more than I believe he is 27.
I am guessing Livan is 30 and is closing in on 3 bills, depending on what he had for breakfast before he attacked the old guy.
I'll also take a guess that he is a 31 handicap.
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****
Wednesday, January 08, 2003
Hall-of-Fame wrap upBefore I get to today's ramblings, I want to let everyone know that my newest article for Baseball Primer is posted and ready for everyone to check out.
Remember my last article, my look at Eddie Murray's Hall-of-Fame candidacy by way of Bill James' Keltner List?
Well, this article is a look at Andre Dawson in the same way.
Murray was a lock for the Hall, which was confirmed by yesterday's voting results (more on that later), but Andre Dawson is a much tougher case, so the Dawson article is a little more interesting.
Anyway, make sure to head over there sometime today and give it a read.
Steady Eddie, The Kid, Ryno, and The Rest: Andre Dawson
The voting totals for the Hall-of-Fame were announced yesterday.
First of all, congratulations to Eddie Murray and Gary Carter, the two newest members of baseball's Hall-of-Fame and two men greatly deserving of the honor.
Last month I wrote an article about all of the 33 Hall-of-Fame candidates on this year's ballot and I gave my vote to Murray and Carter and I am glad the majority of the real voters felt the same way.
Along with those two guys going in, there were also a few surprises.
Ryne Sandberg failed to even reach 50% of the vote, checking in with only 49.2%.
Along with Carter and Murray, I also gave my vote to Sandberg and I really feel as though he is a fairly easy choice for the HoF.
In my opinion he is, without a doubt, one of the top 8-10 second basemen in baseball history and anyone that can say that should be a Hall-of-Famer.
That said, I believe Sandberg will get the necessary 75% of the vote eventually, probably within the next 3-4 years or so.
Those of you that read my Bert Blyleven/Jack Morris rant from yesterday may be wondering how those two pitchers did.
Blyleven received 29.2% of the vote and Morris received 22.8%.
I feel a little better knowing that the entire group of voters did not feel as Jayson Stark did, but it bothers me a great deal that Bert Blyleven is still not even close to being elected and he and Morris are so close in the voting.
Another former Twins' pitcher, Jim Kaat, received only 26.2% of the vote and was dropped from the ballot because this was his 15th and final year he could appear on it without being elected.
I also gave Kaat my vote, although I feel he is probably a borderline candidate.
That said, he should absolutely have received far more than 26.2% of the vote.
The man about whom my most recent Baseball Primer article is about, Andre Dawson, received exactly 50% of the vote.
He didn't get elected this year, but, like Sandberg, I think he will eventually be a Hall-of-Famer.
I wouldn't vote for Dawson, but he is another borderline candidate.
For more on him, check out my article (have I said that enough yet?)
3 closers each received over 40% of the vote.
Bruce Sutter got 53.6%, Lee Smith got 42.3% and Rich Gossage got 42.1%.
That order - Sutter, Smith and Gossage - is exactly the opposite of how I would rank them.
I wouldn't vote for any of them, but Gossage is the closest to a Hall-of-Famer in my mind.
Aside from Blyleven's paltry totals, the biggest travesty on this year's ballot was the 14.1% of the vote that Alan Trammell received.
I gave Trammell my vote and it amazes me how little respect he gets from the voters.
His longtime teammate and double-play partner, Lou Whitaker, was dropped off the ballot after only one year because of his low vote total, so perhaps it shouldn't be so surprising. Whitaker is definitely a borderline Hall-of-Famer and has a much better case than a lot of guys that get pretty high vote totals.
Sadly, I don't think Alan Trammell will ever be a Hall-of-Famer, unless the Veteran's Committee makes a good decision in 20 years or so.
Another player that got way fewer votes than he deserves is Keith Hernandez.
Hernandez is yet another borderline Hall-of-Famer and he only received 6.0% of the vote, narrowly avoiding being left of the ballot in the future (5% is the cutoff).
The players that will be booted from the ballot are: Darryl Kile, Vince Coleman, Brett Butler, Sid Fernandez, Rick Honeycutt, Tony Pena, Darren Daulton, Mark Davis, Danny Tartabull, Danny Jackson, Mickey Tettleton, Mitch Williams and Todd Worrell.
Among those players, I think only Butler and Pena deserve a longer stay on the roster, although neither is a Hall-of-Famer certainly.
By the way, whichever idiot gave Mark Davis a vote should not only have his voting privilages taken away immediately, but should also be banned from attending any baseball game ever again and probably should be beaten to a bloody pulp by large men with bats.
In other news...
I actually played baseball yesterday.
For those of you in the south or the west, that might not sound like such a big deal.
But here in Minnesota, it has been below 30 for much of the last couple months...which is actually a lot warmer than most winters.
Usually, by this time of year, there are several inches of snow on the ground and the temperatures are nearing zero.
But, it was about 45 degrees at around noon today and my uncle and I played a little 1-on-1 baseball.
He stormed out to a 12-5 lead early, but I scored an amazing 9 runs in the top of the 9th inning, to take a 14-12 lead.
Sadly, my bullpen (which would be me, of course) couldn't hold the lead and he won the game with a walkoff 2-run homer.
It was really a lot of fun.
I got a chance to break in the new glove I got for my birthday last week and I also managed to hit 2 home runs, which is very rare for me.
I think we played about 50 games during the spring/summer/fall and I am pretty sure my home run total was somewhere between 6-8.
The jet streams were really working to left centerfield today though, and I managed to hit an absolute bomb to left center and then another one that bounced off the top of the fence in the left field corner, popped straight up in the air and then miraculously landed on the other side of the fence.
Of course, I also gave up 2 home runs and lost the game, but in this case I think I will take personal accomplishments over team performance anyday.
After all, I managed to hit 2 homers and score 12 runs, it's not my fault if the stinking pitching staff (which, once again, is me also) stinks and can't hold a 7 RUN LEAD!.
One of the Diamond-Mind keeper leagues is currently searching for a new owner to take over one the teams in the league.
It is a 20 team league with a lot of really great guys, so if you are a Diamond-Mind veteran and have an interest in joining a new league, please let me know.
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****
Tuesday, January 07, 2003
Do you have a toothpick? I've got something stuck in my crawSome people are really strange.
What I mean by that, of course, is that I'm really strange.
Ocasionally, something I read or see will make me really upset.
There doesn't even have to be significant reason why it makes me mad and the issue doesn't even have to be an important one.
Yesterday, I was cruising the ESPN.com baseball page, like I do every single day, and I happened upon Jayson Stark's article about who he voted for in the Hall-of-Fame balloting.
Stark voted for the maximum allowed amount of players, 10, and then explained his selections.
The following got me a little heated:
8. Jack Morris
He didn't even get 100 votes last year -- and he can blame it all on his 3.90 career ERA, which would be the highest of any pitcher in the Hall. But Jack Morris wasn't defined by the ERA column, friends. He was defined by the Wins column.
Maybe 254 wins didn't used to be enough to make a guy a Hall of Famer. But these are different times. And Morris is, essentially, the first product solely of the five-man rotation to be a serious Hall candidate.
All you can do is compare a man to his peers. And in his 14 peak seasons (1979-92), Morris won 41 more games than any other starter of his generation. In that same period, he outwon Nolan Ryan by 65 wins (233-168).
But above all, Morris was a clear-cut No. 1 starter for almost his entire career. He pitched a no-hitter. He started three All-Star Games. (Since the '70s, only Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson have done that). He was The Main Man on three World Series pitching staffs. And his epic 10-inning Game 7 shutout in 1991 Series was the ultimate example of what people mean when they use the word, "ace."
One of the things that I really dislike in a sportswriter is the tendency to use facts or statistical evidence solely to help support you opinion.
Let me try to explain what I mean by that.
Let's say I am writing an article about whether I would rather have Jim Thome or Jason Giambi as my starting first baseman.
And let's say I go into it with a clear preference, which is certainly understandable.
The thing I have a problem with would be someone saying "Jim Thome hit .342 with runners on 2nd base after the 7th inning last year, which puts him over the top when it comes to any comparison to Giambi."
Or "Jason Giambi drove in 367 runs over the past 412 games, which is 27 more than Thome."
Those are examples of someone using a "customized" or obscure fact or stat to help support something.
Instead of coming up with a question and then using facts or stats to form an opinion, many people often come up with a question to which they already have an answer they believe to be correct and then simply find whichever facts or stats help support that answer.
And that is something I get sick of really quickly.
Of course, no one is completely innocent of such things and I am sure there have been times and there will be times where I am guilty of the exact same thing, but I do try to avoid it whenever possible.
In Jayson Stark's case, he was given the question, "Who would you vote for in the Hall-of-Fame balloting this year" and he clearly felt that Jack Morris would be a worthy recipient of his vote, which is perfectly fine.
So Stark needed to find things that helped support his vote for Morris and he went out and chose a bunch of somewhat random and incomplete facts and stats.
First he states the fact that Morris' ERA would be the highest of any Hall-of-Famer, which is true.
But then he goes on to try to "wipe away" that fact by saying "Jack Morris wasn't defined by the ERA column, friends. He was defined by the Wins column."
First of all, anyone who believes that the amount of runs a pitcher gives up can be secondary to the amount of ball games he wins is no friend of mine!
The main issue I have with that line of thinking is that he is completely forgiving Morris for being less than spectacular in one very important area of pitching by pointing out that he was very good in another, less important, area.
It is sort of like saying "Joe Carter never had a very good batting average, a high on-base % or a great slugging %, but he drove in a ton of runs and that is what he is defined by."
Well, okay, Morris was "defined" by winning games, but so what? Why does that make the fact that he would have the highest ERA of any pitcher in the Hall-of-Fame irrelevant?
Let's move to the next statement...
"Maybe 254 wins didn't used to be enough to make a guy a Hall of Famer. But these are different times. And Morris is, essentially, the first product solely of the five-man rotation to be a serious Hall candidate."
I really don't know whether or not Morris is truly the first candidate to pitch entirely in the 5-man rotation era ever to be a serious HoF candidate and I don't really care enough to do the research on it.
To me, this is very similar to saying "Mark Grace had the most hits of anyone in the 1990s." Or even "Sammy Sosa has the most homers in baseball since the expansion to 30 teams."
Does that make Grace the best hitter of the 1990s? Or does it just mean that, unlike guys that were a lot better than him, Grace's career began in 1988 and thus he was a full-time player for every season during the 90s?
Does that automatically mean that Sosa was the best home run hitter of his era, or does it simply mean that his peak coincided with a certain time frame?
Does it make Morris a better player because other pitchers saw their careers overlap with the era of the 4-man rotation and the 5-man rotation when Morris happened to break into the league right at the beginning of the 5-man rotation era?
Of course not.
Okay, moving on to the next statement...
"All you can do is compare a man to his peers. And in his 14 peak seasons (1979-92), Morris won 41 more games than any other starter of his generation. In that same period, he outwon Nolan Ryan by 65 wins (233-168)."
That pair of sentences has a whole lot of problems.
Stark singles out a set period of time (1979-1992) that is the most beneficial to Jack Morris.
If he includes 1978 he includes a year that Morris had a 4.33, if he includes 1993 and 1994 he includes ERAs of 6.19 and 5.60.
Then he compares Morris' performance for that period of time that was specifically tailored to show Morris in a good light to the performance of another pitcher during that same time frame.
He is taking Morris' best years and comparing them to Nolan Ryan in the same time frame, which spans from Ryan's age 31 season to his age 45 season.
What does it really prove that Jack Morris was better in a handpicked set of seasons than Nolan Ryan was during his late 30s and 40s?
And I am even leaving out the fact that Stark is using wins to make this ridiculous comparison, which is very problematic itself.
"He started three All-Star Games. (Since the '70s, only Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson have done that). He was The Main Man on three World Series pitching staffs. And his epic 10-inning Game 7 shutout in 1991 Series was the ultimate example of what people mean when they use the word, "ace.""
Why pick 3 All-Star Games as the cutoff? Why not 2 or 4 or 5? Obviously because 3 is the best possible number for making Morris look the best.
And then Stark uses the example of a single game to show that Morris was an "ace."
I am Twins fan and one of my first memories of baseball is of that game in 1991, but whether he went 10 innings or 50 innings that night has nothing to do with whether or not he was an "ace" during the rest of his career.
Don Larsen pitcher a perfect game in the 1956 World Series, does that make him an ace?
Mariano Rivera gave up the hit that lost the World Series for the Yankees 2 years ago, does that make him a bad closer?
Of course not.
One spectacular game is certainly a very nice "bonus" for a career and Morris will forever be remember for it, but it has absolutely no effect on his performance in the other 500+ games he pitched in.
His great 1991 World Series makes him no more of an "ace" than his awful 1992 World Series makes him less of one.
Okay, as you can see, something as insignificant as 4 measly paragraphs in a Jayson Stark column can get me all riled up.
I calmed myself down and continued reading the rest of the article, which is when I came upon this:
"Sorry, not this time...Jim Rice, Bert Blyleven, Alan Trammell, Steve Garvey, Tommy John and Don Mattingly."
To quote the great George Constanza, "Whoa, back it up, back it up. Beep, beep, beep."
Jayson Stark went through all that trouble to help build his case for voting for Jack Morris and then he a) fails to vote for Bert Blyleven and b) completely fails to give Blyleven any sort of mention in the article beyond "Sorry, not this time."
Before I go any further, I should point out that I feel that Bert Blyleven should be a Hall-of-Famer and I do not feel as though Jack Morris should be.
Because of that, I am in danger of doing exactly what Stark did in his column, which is manipulate the facts and stats to fit my argument.
I will try to avoid doing that, so bear with me.
Let's take a look at Jack Morris and Bert Blyleven and (hopefully) objectively decide which one is a more deserving Hall-of-Famer.
In judging a pitcher's long term performance, I look at only 2 main things - the rate at which they prevented the other team from scoring runs and the amount of innings they pitched.
That is really all a pitcher can do.
From Pedro Martinez and Omar Daal to Bert Blyleven and Jack Morris, a pitcher has no control over the amount of runs his teammates score for him or the ability his team's relievers have holding a lead, so the only control over wins and losses is the amount of runs he surrenders himself and the amount of innings he pitches.
It's pretty simple, right?
Basically, if a pitcher pitches 7 innings and allows 3 runs, whether or not he wins the game depends on if his team's offense scores 0-2 runs or 4+ runs and/or whether or not the bullpen can hold the lead, right?
Career Innings Pitched:
Blyleven = 4970
Morris = 3824
Big advantage to Blyleven here. He pitched about 30% more innings than Morris did.
This stat might be misleading however, because, as Jayson Stark pointed out earlier, Blyleven was asked to pitch every 4 days for the first several years of his career, while Morris was asked to pitch every 5th day.
However, looking at their stats, the significance of that does not seem particularly large.
Jack Morris regularly started 35+ games per season.
A strict 5-man rotation would mean that a team's #1 starter would make 33 starts per year.
So, in most seasons, Morris' team skipped the #5 starter and gave Morris extra starts several times.
35 games 4 times.
36 games 2 times.
37 games 2 times.
Morris debuted in 1977, so I guess we will treat anything prior to 1977 as the era of the 4-man rotation, just to completely go along with what Stark said.
Prior to 1977, Bert Blyleven started...
40 games 1 time.
38 games 2 times.
37 games 1 time.
36 games 1 time.
35 games 1 time.
Is that really all that significant?
In Blyleven's time pitching in the 4-man rotation era, he did manage to start 40 games once and 38 games in 2 seasons.
But then his next best totals were 37, 36 and 35, which are totals Morris reached several times in his career, which was spent, according to Jayson Stark, pitching completely in the era of the 5-man rotation.
The bottom line is that Blyleven pitched over 1000 more innings than Jack Morris did and that is extremely valuable no matter what kind of spin you want to put on it or what time frames you want to associate with it.
That inning total is a cumulative one and that might be misleading as well, so let's compare their individual seasons...
Innings pitched per season:Pick a cutoff: 100 innings? 150 innings? 175 innings? 200 innings? 225 innings? 250 innings? 275 innings? 300 innings?
Blyleven had more seasons with whatever that "magic" amount of innings you decided on than Morris did.
If it is 200 innings, Blyleven wins 16 - 11.
225? Bert wins 14 - 11.
250? Bert wins 9 - 7.
275? Bert wins 7 - 1.
300? Bert had the only between them.
Bert pitched 4 more seasons and 1000 more innings and that has quite a bit of value.
He also had more seasons of (insert whatever # you like) innings pitched than Morris.
Okay, so we covered the whole "innings" portion of their careers.
Let's move on the "preventing runs" part.
Blyleven = 3.31
Morris = 3.90
Wait, I'm not done yet!
Just looking at the ERAs is extremely misleading if you do not consider the era they pitched in (which is better, a 3.00 ERA in the 1980s or a 3.00 ERA in the 2000s?) and the ballparks they called home (which is better, a 4.00 ERA in Dodger Stadium or Coors Field?).
Adjusted League ERA:
Blyleven = 3.90
Morris = 4.08
What that stat above means is that during Blyleven's career, the leagues he pitched in had a 3.90 ERA when you adjust for the ballparks Blyleven pitched in.
And during Morris' career, the league had a 4.08 ERA.
So, for his career, Morris pitched in an environment that was about 4.5% percent better for scoring runs.
Which essentially means that if Blyleven's career ERA was about 4.5% better than Morris', they would be essentially even.
But they are no where close to even.
Blyleven's career ERA was 3.31 and the leagues he pitched in had a ERA of 3.90, which means his career ERA was about 18% better than the league.
Morris' ERA was 3.90 and the leagues he pitched in had a 4.08 ERA, which makes his career ERA 5% better than the league.
I am going to steal Jayson Stark's line here and say: That, my friends, is a big difference.
Blyleven pitched 1000 more innings than Morris.
He pitched 150, 175, 200, 225, 250, 275, 300 - whatever cutoff you want - innings in a season more times than Morris did.
And he prevented runs about 18% better than the leagues he pitched in, while Morris prevented them about 5% better.
I may be falling into the same trap as Stark did, using certain statistics to help my cause, but if I am I don't see it.
I am using innings and run prevention, which are the 2 most important things for a pitcher.
Heck, if you are one of those guys that is a huge believer in wins being the biggest thing for a pitcher...
First of all, you are wrong and I am sorry you feel that way.
And second of all, Jack Morris won 254 games...and Bert Blyleven won 287.
True, Jack Morris had a better winning percentage than Blyleven, but that is completely due to his teams being much better than Blyleven's were offensively and if you don't see that, I doubt I will ever be able to convince you otherwise.
I don't object to Jayson Stark voting for Jack Morris, although I do disagree with it.
What I do object to is Stark manipulating things to suit his argument for Morris and then both not voting for Blyleven and not giving him more than a passing mention in the article in which he devoted 4 paragraphs to the Jack Morris lovefest.
My objection became even stronger after I read another article on ESPN.com that asked "ESPN.com's staff of baseball experts to tell us who they voted for on this year's Hall-of-Fame ballot."
The experts were Stark, Peter Gammons, Jim Caple, Tim Kurkjian and Phil Rogers.
All 5 of them voted for Jack Morris, while only Kurkjian and Rogers voted for Blyleven.
Geez, I feel kind of strange actually siding with Phil Rogers on an issue we are in the minority on, but oh well.
You know, I thought I would feel a little better after getting all of this off my chest, but I really don't.
It is sort of like the feeling you get when someone does something bad to you and then appologizes for it later.
You might accept the apology, but you aren't going to forget what happened and you probably won't even feel better about it.
Jayson Stark said something to which I took offense.
My writing about it and giving my opinion is sort of like me receiving an apology.
And I don't feel any better about it than I did 3,000 words ago.
Plus, I just made a really stretched analogy about apologies and Jayson Stark and I feel sort of bad about that now too.
For more on the Blyleven/Morris "debate" please check out Charlie Saeger's awesome article over at BaseballPrimer.com.
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****
Monday, January 06, 2003
Coming back to bite me in the...Thanks to all the advice I received in regard to my Diamond-Mind keeper league team from everyone last week, I decided I would try to make some trades.
Most people felt that I should try to unload Carlos Pena, so I decided to do that.
I was in the middle of trade discussions with a team and the deal we were discussing was Carlos Pena, Olmedo Saenz and Mike Fetters for Johnny Damon.
I was trying to convince him to leave Olmedo Saenz out of the deal and give me Damon for Pena and Fetters.
After a couple of minutes of negotiating with the other guy, let's call him "Matt," this is what transpired:
MATT: I don't know if I want Carlos Pena.
ME: Why not?
MATT: I read an article on Baseball Primer a while ago that wasn't very high on him.
MATT: Here is what it said about him, and I quote:
"Pena is still a good bet to be a very good player, but if the average keeps dropping, the walks keep disappearing and the strikeouts keep piling up, he is going to be just another low average, good power, decent walk first baseman, which would make him a huge disappointment."
Wanna take a guess as to who authored the article that the Pena quote appeared in?
That would be none other than yours truly!
"Matt" went on to say that he was pretty sure I was looking to "dump" Carlos Pena.
I really wasn't.
I think Pena will be a very good player, but I was looking to trade him, which I told Matt.
After a few more minutes, I gave in and included Olmedo Saenz in the deal, he accepted the trade proposal, we had a deal and I had Johnny Damon as my starting center fielder.
I am pretty sure the only reason he brought up my article and what I said about Pena was because he wanted to get Saenz from me too.
And I can't blame him, because it definitely worked.
I guess that is why real General Managers don't write articles for baseball websites, huh?
The lesson here is that no one in either of my Diamond-Mind leagues should be allowed to read any of my various writings.
So, to Vinay, Craig, Chris, Joe and especially Matt, you are no longer allowed to view this blog or any of my Baseball Primer articles!
And, just for future reference, I think that all the players currently on my roster have incredible futures and will do nothing but improve every year.
And, contrary to what you may read on this web site, I am not a big believer in the greatness of Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds, so if I happen to inquire about their availability in trade talks, you will not be able to squeeze every last decent player on my roster out of me in a trade for them.
Speaking of websites...
Geoff Young has some great stuff going on at his website, "Ducksnorts."
Geoff is a big Padres fan and Ducksnorts in the best Padres-related blog on the internet.
Currently though, Geoff is publishing a little study he did in regard to minor league prospects.
He took John Sickels' minor league scouting notebook from 1996 and figured out the Win Shares totals for each and every player in the entire book, through 2002.
Then he calculated the average Win Shares for the guys Sickels gave A grades to and C grades to and all that.
It is really an awesome study and I know I was really interested in finding out the results when he mentioned to me that he was doing it last month.
So, go check it out and tell him I sent ya.
My birthday entry generated a massive amount of emails.
Most of them were people showing me what their "birthday team" looked like.
I have to say that pretty much every single one of the 364 days of the year that aren't my birthday make up a better team than the January 3rd guys.
A few of my fellow bloggers even followed my lead (which was really Jay Jaffe's lead originally) and came up with their birthday teams.
Cristian Ruzich, aka "The Cub Reporter," features none other than Cy Young (and Billy Beane!) on his birthday team.
While the world famous John Perricone from "Only Baseball Matters" has a great #1 starter (Bob Gibson) and a hell of a manager (Whitey Herzog) to lead his November 9th squad.
Eliot Shepard, the author of the always witty and entertaining "Darn Sox" blog had a lack of middle infield depth among players sharing his birthday, so he inserted himself as second baseman and even included his little league stats (and calculated an OPS+ for himself too!).
Also, I just found out that my team's starting catcher, Darren Daulton, recently got arrested on a DUI charge!
So I might be elevating Chico Hernandez into the starting role, which is good news for everyone but my team.
The last line of the Associated Press story on the Daulton arrest reads as follows:
"He served as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' bullpen coach in 2001."
Yeah, I could see where that could drive someone to drink.
Let's run through a couple of the recent free agent signings...
The Mariners signed Greg Colbrunn to a 2 year deal worth approximately $3.6 million.
Colbrunn will likely serve as a pinch hitter off the bench and spot starter against lefties (in place of Olerud possibly), but he really deserves to be a lot more than that.
Check out his numbers over the past 3 seasons:
vs Righties = .317/.398/.531 (309 ABs)
vs Lefties = .313/.387/.566 (288 ABs)
That's a guy that deserves a chance at a full-time 1B or DH job and will be under-utilized as a bench player.
There are at least a half dozen teams that Colbrunn would be a huge first base of DH upgrade for and he obviously could have been had very cheaply.
Very good move for the Mariners, particularly if Edgar Martinez misses significant time again this year, which is probably fairly likely.
The Twins signed Chris Gomez to a 1 year minor league deal and invited him to spring training as a Non-Roster Invite (NRI).
Chris Gomez is obviously no great shakes (which, incidentally, is one of my favorite sayings) but if the Twins are in need of anything, it is middle-infield depth, at all levels.
Everyone reading this probably knows about my feelings towards Luis Rivas, and Cristian Guzman hasn't been reminding anyone of Alex Rodriguez lately, so adding a capable backup shortstop/second baseman is always good news.
Actually, having Gomez and Denny Hocking as the team's 2 backup infielders is a perfect fit.
Gomez does reasonably well hitting against right handed pitching and stinks horribly against lefties.
Hocking does well against left handed pitching and less well against righties.
So, if either Rivas or Guzman goes down with an injury, a Hocking/Gomez platoon wouldn't be too bad.
Here are Gomez's #s from 2000-2002:
vs Righties = .275/.319/.425
vs Lefties = .208/.245/.290
That's a really strange platoon split because Gomez is a right handed hitter.
.275/.319/.425 probably doesn't look great and it certainly isn't, but it is better than Luis Rivas hit last year (or in 2001).
Plus, unlike Rivas, Chris Gomez is a capable defender at either second base or shortstop.
In case you're wondering, here is what Hocking did from 2000-2002:
vs Righties = .264/.327/.363
vs Lefties = .280/.361/.369
A platoon of .275/.319/.425 against righties and .280/.361/.369 against lefties is actually pretty productive for second base.
Overall, a very nice little pickup for the Twins, which is basically all a Twins fan like me can hope for - a nice little pickup.
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****