One Hundred Sixteen
Featuring Mariners-related rants, raves, and analysis.
Thursday, February 26, 2004
The Ranger's Michael Young has decided to take one for the team and move to shortstop, making possible an easier transition for Soriano. My esteem for Young just leapt several notches. Young is one of the top players in the league at his position. The same cannot be said of Derek Jeter, who by all accounts plans on staying at shortstop despite the overwhelming evidence that the team would be stronger with A-Rod in that spot. I'm not sure what Jeter is thinking, but I hope he feels like a heel. As a human being, I'm always disappointed to see an individual put himself first in a team sport. As a Mariner fan, though, you gotta love it.
I'm pretty bummed about Soriano; like Freddy on a good day, his fastball was a joy to watch last season and a source of optimism going into 2004. Let's keep our fingers crossed that it's only a month. Our season may depend on it.
Tuesday, February 17, 2004
A few words on the A-Rod deal: Even my wife, who is about as casual a baseball fan as they come, thought it was outrageous. The Yankees have 110% of the M's attendance, 120% of our revenue (maybe), and twice our payroll not including luxury tax. This doesn't seem sustainable, but then again neither does the NCAA, the UN, General Motors, the Postal Service, or the WTO, and I suspect Steinbrenner will outlast them all.
Do you think anyone on Royal Brougham now thinks the M's should have interviewed DePodesta? I don't--not yet. But they will.
I'd like to write a bit more about the MBSBL but the draft was s-l-o-w today. Major run on top-notch relievers as Cormier, Marte, and Guardado were taken in sequence, still leaving me quite pleased to snag Brendan Donnelly's 1.07 WHIP later in the round.
"Local blogger makes good." Peter White has graduated from blogspot and affiliated with a few other top-notch blogs from around the league. Check out Mariner Musing's shiny new set of wheels.
Finally, Lawrence Ritter died last weekend. He wrote The Glory of Our Times, one of the best baseball history books ever.
Saturday, February 14, 2004
The MBSBL continues to entertain and educate. I finally listened to Optimist and grabbed Podsednick at the end of round 10. He may not have been the best overall CF available (Finley and Everett, among several others, had a higher OPS), but Scott's got speed (43 swipes, caught 10 times), solid D, can play anywhere in the outfield, and .379 OBP. He was the best overall fit for my team and will be batting leadoff. Andruw Jones being picked up by Weekly made this decision much easier.
I grabbed Piazza in the top of the 11th. There are still several solid catchers left (Lieberthal and Phillips have a similar on-base), but I guessed none would be there when I went again in 16 picks or so. So now my position players are mostly set. I need to figure out DH, in concert with a potential platoon in LF for Jenkins, then turn my attention back to pitchers. With only ten teams, there are likely to be many choices for both starters and relievers.
I'm sure we were all thinking of this, but at least San Shin has the decency to feel "a little dirty" about picking one of the low-inning low-ERA starters--if there is any justice, Diamond Mind will have all four of these guys (Alvarez, Jackson, Armas, and Acevedo) get lower-back cramps in the second inning of every start.
Pick evaluations, out of five stars.
--Craig Wilson, by Fire Bavasi, round 10. Lefty-killer swiss-army knife utility guy, likely precursor to forthcoming run on lefty-mashing platoon players. Are you watching Bavasi? You could learn something. I had him pegged for a later round, but still a solid pick. 4 stars.
--Edgar by San Shin, round 10. I would have taken him if he hadn't. 4 stars.
--Contreras by Sodo Oh No, round 11. I had him rated 6th in K/9 and 9th in HR/9. Very solid, would have been my next pick in round 12. 5 stars.
--Mike Cameron by Fire Bavasi, round 11. Better talent available in Finley and Wilkerson, but if your blog is named Fire Bavasi, you're probably looking for ways to make a statement. Pick Colbrunn next. 5 stars for statement, 1 star for pick quality.
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
With this quote, David Andriesen admits the emperor has no clothes:
The team wanted a left-hander to use on a situational basis against left-handed hitters, but Villone hasn't done especially well against lefties.
I'm guessing that's about as critical as a mainstream reporter can get without risking the cold shoulder. Then this, regarding the Mariner's "pursuit" of Raul Mondesi:
After being pinch-hit for in the eighth inning of a July 27 game in Boston, he left the ballpark. Three days later, he was traded to Arizona...
Does this sound like a guy Jamie, Raul, and Dan would invite to the zoo with their kids? I have no faith in Bavasi's ability to negotiate a reasonable contract for the rapidly-declining slugger. I can just see the Finnegan article now. "Signing Mondesi to a 1-year, $6.5 million deal makes fiscal sense too, since it's only half what he made last year." On the other hand, hiring a high-maintenance personality would at least show a sign of refreshing flexibility.
Monday, February 09, 2004
Ahhh, Villone. I know what most of you are thinking: What does the Kev-o-matic defense-independent pitcher analysis system have to say about this? Let's have a look.
Villone was rated #24 is strikeouts per 9 IP, with 7.71. Oh, and his ERA of 4.13 was better than Randy Johnson's. (Optimists should go find their happy place now, since the good news ends there.)
Are they gone? OK.
Villone was ranked 97th in BB/9 with 4.07, and he gave up 1.36 HR/9, good for 92nd place.
These combine for an overall ranking of 84th (out of the 105 starters I looked at.) Certainly not great, but actually better than Freddy, Gil, and Ryan. Of course his planned use for the M's is as reliever, so these comparisons aren't directly valid, but he's not a bad pitcher. As usual, the concern is with his value, and judging by the non-roster invites going out all over the place for "not bad" pitchers, the B-man may have overpaid once again. The contract isn't guaranteed so we can always hope his arm falls off in training and we get the $1 million back. But don't hold your breath waiting for him to get to get cut, since that would involve admitting a mistake.
I like the fantasy stuff better than reality right now.
Friday, February 06, 2004
It sure has been nice to have the MBSBL to fall back on while the rest of the baseball world endures the most boring month of the year. The draft has been fun and thought-provoking, and more entertaining since the pace has picked up quite a bit. I built a little spreadsheet (where would the world be without Excel?) to track the available players.
Hitters I've sorted by position and OPS. Many others must be taking a similar approach, for the draft has mostly been about picking the high-offense guys at each position, with the drama focused around which positions to emphasize, perhaps taking a pitcher, cornering the market on good catchers, or trading a lower OPS in exchange for some versatility. The concept of replacement value by position is of course centerstage, and my spreadsheet is full of columns comparing each pick with replacement level (defined as 10th-best OPS foe this 10-team league), and the difference in OPS if I defer picking that position for 5 or 10 picks. That was how I made Nomar G. my 4th choice. All 75 outfielders on my list have an OPS above .830*; there were only 6 shortstops in that category, including Nomar at .869, with a big drop-off behind him. Although The Safe grabbed Tejada next, subsequent picks were for four straight outfielders, which seem to be plentiful so I’ll admit to not understanding this. Perhaps going 70-90 during our simulated season will set things straight in my mind.
Starting pitchers I sorted by ERA (it's a start) but I've ranked them by DIPS (K/9, BB/9 and HR/9), with a subjective, deeply flawed weighting system (let’s call it the Kev-o-matic) that spits out exactly who my next pick should be with a degree of precision and confidence it has no right to presume. Unfortunately I built this elaborate model AFTER I had drafted Tim Hudson (see the rationale below), for he is ranked a lowly #15 under my system. Josh Beckett, my #5 pick, was the best starter available at the time, ranked #6 in the Kev-o-matic. Josh gets high marks for 9.63 K/9 (ranked 7th overall) and 0.57 HR/9 (ranked 9th). I have no rationale for when to pick a pitcher versus a position player, and haven’t even downloaded the info on relievers and closers yet. Like the others, I'm completely at the mercy of the Diamond Mind programmers so I have no idea if it even pays to have a strategy.
Here’s how the Kev-o-matic rates the M’s starters:
103. Franklin (his 1.44 HR/9 really hurts)
92. Meche (1.45 HR/9, yes, worse than Franklin’s)
88. Freddy (1.39 HR/9)
47. Jamie (note the contrast with his #21-ranked era, which emphasizes how important BABIP is to him)
39. Pinero (low HRs, moderate Ks and BBs)
How is it that three of our starters have terrible HR rates while pitching in one of the least homer-friendly parks in existence? Giving up 385-foot fly balls to center is viable strategy at Safeco, maybe they find it hard to stop when they’re on the road.
The more I think about it, the more I think that being a programmer for Diamond Mind would be a lot of fun.
*As an aside, I find myself amazed at how many outfielders hit for power, and especially (warning: entering pessimist mode) how few of these talented individuals are on the roster of the Seattle Mariners. Seriously, out of the top 60 outfielders (actually the top 20 at each OF position), there is not a single Mariner. Unless The Safe just goes nuts building his Mariner fantasy team, we won’t see another drafted in the MBSBL, either.
Wednesday, February 04, 2004
A hearty 116 welcome to Dead Reckoning, a new Mariners blog-about-blogs, that will, if he keeps it up, become a great place to scan for brief clips about who is posting what where. The P-I is also adding a similar feature to their well-regarded blog. If only David Cameron's pleas to Bavasi were as well-received as those to the blogosphere....Ah, well. Jeff Shaw, who posted the "worst bench in history?" question to the Times last week, has a new blog called San Shin. Apparently Jeff is a professional writer, so set your expectations high for this one. It was my pleasure to snag Bill Mueller out from under him in the Mariners Blogsphere Simulated Baseball League .
The MBSBL has been fun so far (thanks to the Sodo Oh No guys for sponsoring), and all we've done is draft two or three players each. I've even learned a few things, like "read the rules before you draft." I chose Pujols with the second pick overall, but when I read the rules later and saw "there will be no injuries" I realized I should have picked Bonds. This is a Diamond Mind-based simulation league based on 2003 performances, so there's no danger of fall-off like in the real world.
Tim Hudson was my second pick, based on his best-available OPS-against of .585. While further exploring some of the available material on DIPS (see my post from a few days ago), I uncovered that a good portion of that stellar performance was based on a hardly-sustainable BABIP (batting average for balls in play) of .253, compared to an AL average of somewhere around .290 (please let me know if you have the actual average, I can't find the page right now. Note: see update below). FYI, Zito's BABIP was an even-less-sustainable .239. Before we get too excited projecting a falloff for the A's rotation, note that Franklin was .245 and Moyer .267, so we have our own issues, and some regression to the mean would seem inevitable, even if we hadn't weakened our defense. The question for MBSBL, and assessing the wisdom of picking Hudson so early, is how Diamond Mind handles these factors that are arguably luck but were in fact a part of the 2003 season. We shall see.
Update: I found the DIPS analysis in the Diamond Mind blog; the AL average BABIP was .292; .290 in the NL. Here's a quote regarding Hudson:
Tim Hudson was around the league average in 2002 but is 54 points below the AL this year. Obviously, he's having a very good year, but it's also quite possible that he's this year's version of Derek Lowe. In 2002, Lowe had an exceptionally good IPAvg but has been unable to repeat that success in 2003.
Tuesday, February 03, 2004
I rag on Boras (which spell-checks to "Borax") and Pudge below for taking the money and running, so to speak, off to the baseball netherworld that is Detroit. I would be remiss, though if I didn't mention a recent example of a player doing the right thing, and putting personal happiness above income maximization. Kazuhiro Sasaki signed a contract today that will pay him $4-5 million less than he would have made as a Mariner. He will be closer to his family, living back in Japan, and probably will never miss the money. He will, in short, be happier. How can you put a price tag on that?
Monday, February 02, 2004
The Pudge deal with the Tigers is finally done. I-Rod is apparently content to finish off his career as the biggest, best-paid fish in the smallest baseball puddle. I continue to be amazed at Boras' ability to get players to focus on the dollars attached to a deal at the expense of all other considerations. Will he really be happier in Detroit for $40 million instead of Baltimore for $24? The lifestyle difference is nil, and when he is retired, he'll spend the next 40 years wondering what it would have been like to finish his career playing for a contender. Fanball has a good story here.