Saturday 29 December 2012

How Did They Do It?

I assume everyone else has also been watching the 1992 World Series, re-airing on Sportsnet over the last couple of days.  Not sure what the fuck else anyone could be doing at this time of year, but that's here nor there.  Seeing as nothing else is going on around the internet baseball community (and I don't want to make it seem like I'm just giving up on writing or anything), I kind of feel like getting my thoughts about the '92 Jays on paper.  I don't really know where I'm going with this piece, but I'll just get everything out there and we'll organize it in to a few coherent thoughts later.

  • I had just turned five at the time, and while I claimed to remember all of the events from those fateful days, watching these games over the last few days makes me realize that no, I really don't remember everything.  I definitely remember Jimmy Key tossing a gem in game 4, and I remember Borders playing out of his goddamn mind, and obviously the Otis Nixon bunt to win it all, but hey-- I was five.  Bed time was like 8pm.  I had school in the morning, and I probably didn't last past the fourth inning without falling asleep on most of these nights.  Don't get me wrong, I definitely made it the whole way for some of these games (aforementioned Key gem, for one, since that game took about 2:05 to complete), because much like age-25, 5-year old me cared about baseball and only baseball.  I think what's happening is that I know that all this stuff happened, and I'm imagining it all in my mind as if I do, in fact, remember it all, when really, it should be a lot more hazy than it really is in there.

  • The big thing that I don't actually have ingrained in my memory is the regular season.  I know all the players, and have a vague idea of what their roles were with the club, but I've only been an internet baseball nerd for about five years or so, so it took me a little while to realize that Joe Carter just wasn't very good, or at least wouldn't be so universally loved in today's world.

  • I remember Carter as being the hero of the team; beyond the leadership qualities that he offered, he was a threat to get hits, HR's and steals, while playing decent defense in RF or LF.  Turns out his career OBP is .306, probably due to his Arencibia-like approach of swinging at practically everything.  Sure, he was that legitimate average/power/speed guy for a few seasons earlier in his career, putting up 5 WAR for CLE in 1986 (130 OPS+, 29 HR, 29 SB), as well as his first season in Toronto (4.5 WAR, 124OPS+, 33 HR, 20 SB), but for the most part, he was league-average at best, and borderline bad at worst.

  • I'm not saying anything here that hasn't been said already-- in fact, Ian at BJH and Tao of Stieb have both really given it to Carter in separate posts on their respective blogs, and Carter may have even responded to Ian about his approach to hitting and what his job was with the Jays throughout his tenure.  Whether or not that's actually Carter answering in that BJH post is kind of irrelevant-- Carter has said many times in interviews that he doesn't care about stats; wins and championships matter, and wins are achieved by knocking in runs.  And Cito.  God, Cito.  From ToS linked above:

3) Joe Carter was The Manager's type of guy: If there is one thing that buoyed Carter's status in Toronto for many of the years that he played here, it was the insistence of The Manager that he hit cleanup, and that he hit like a cleanup hitter. Go up there and drive in runs. Swing the bat, hard and often. And you'll be rewarded by keeping the fourth spot in the lineup for as long as you keep hacking away. {...}Cito loved Carter, and couldn't wait to mould John Olerud into a hack and slash hitter like Joe. And when Olerud couldn't suck like that, they shipped him out of town.

  • Olerud is probably going to make a few HOF ballots, but ultimately miss out (that's my prediction anyway), but he was really fucking good.  61 WAR over 16 seasons for Fangraphs, 53.7 for b-ref.  He had a .295/.398/.465 slash line for his career.  A CAREER .398 OBP!  His 1993 season (which, I'm sure is worthy of another post, probably next offseason) saw him put up a slash line of .363/..473/.599, good for 8.4 WAR.  That's pretty good. 

  • The '92 Jays put up 41 WAR, according to baseball-reference, which indicates that they should have been a 90-91 win team.  Pythag (i.e. run differential) actually has them as a 91-71 team, but they ended up winning 96 games.  A bit fortunate, but nothing ridiculous.  I'm pretty sure pythag and WAR models for team wins kind of go out the window right around the time of the trade deadline, since many teams give up on the idea of putting a respectable product out on the field in exchange for future teams.
  • Jimmy Key was relegated to the bullpen for the playoffs when the Jays opted to go with a shortened rotation, but was ultimately brought back to the rotation to throw game 4, and it was probably the right move.  What the fuck, Cito?  Scroll down and look at pitcher stats.  Jack Morris was 37 years old and threw 240 innings in the regular season, with an ERA over 4.  Key threw 216 innings of 3.53 ERA ball.  Seems whack, right?  I mean, I know FIP wasn't available on the internet back then, but Morris had a FIP of 3.78, with Key's being over 4.  Probably better to have an extra lefty out of the pen anyway.  Something about blind squirrels, since the real motivation was likely Morris' 21 wins, vs. Key's 13-13 record.
  • Just for the sake of referencing it, ERA's, FIPs, innings pitched and fWAR of the pitchers from the season, in no particular order:
    • Cone:  2.55/3.56 over 53 innings.  Had been worth 4.4 WAR (2.88/2.79 over 196 IP) with the Mets, pre-trade.
    • Guzman: 2.64/2.60 over 180 IP. 7.4 WAR.
    • Stottlemyre: 4.50/4.41 over 171 IP, 1.6 WAR
    • Morris: 4.04/3.78 over 240 IP, 4.0 WAR.
    • Stieb: 5.04/4.53 over 96 IP, 0.4 WAR.
    • Key: 3.53/4.02 over 216 IP, 3.0 WAR.
      • Pat Hentgen and David Wells each made 14 starts, with Hentgen being below replacement, and Wells being worth 0.5 WAR, also coming out of the bullpen 27 times.
      • Duane Ward threw 101 innings out of the bullpen, and was worth 2.5 WAR with a 1.95/2.58 ERA/FIP.  Interesting career-- He was really only active for 6 seasons, which isn't a huge surprise given that he was a reliever throwing 100+ innings a year, but he was worth 15.2 WAR over that span.  Good luck finding someone that dominant and consistently available out of the bullpen these days.  Not surprisingly, his career was over  after the '93 season, since I can only assume that his arm literally fell off.  Scaled downa  bit, this, to an extent, is the way the internet baseball community wants to see closers used.  Fuck this 9th inning bologna-- get your best guy in the game in the 7th if that's the highest leverage event of the game.
      • Mike Timlin threw 43 innings to a 2.62 FIP, allowing 0 HR's, but succumbing to a .337 babip against and a 65% strand-rate, leading to an ERA over 4.
      • Tom Henke threw 55 innings, of 2.26/3.48 ERA/FIP ball, good for 0.7 WAR.
  • It's possible that I've seen this referenced before, and maybe that's why it popped up in my mind so immediately, but Pat Borders was worth 3.6 WAR in the 1990 season, and never eclipsed 1.6 WAR in any of his other 20 seasons over his career.  He is regarded as a decent backstop, defensively, thanks to Fangraphs.  Offensively, he had a few outlier seasons as far as babip is concerned, but his career line of .255/.288/.375 seems like a pretty fair assessment of his overall talent.  His career best walkrate is 6.3%, and his career best k-rate is 12.7%.  He never really strayed too far from that, walking in 4.4% of his 3500 PA's, striking out in 16% of them.  Against LHP, Borders was actually quite good for a catcher, with a 267/.308/.403 line.  JP Arencibia hits for significantly more power, and is probably a fair bit worse defensively, but the 6.3% walk-rate and the 28.2% k-rate serves as a not-terrible look at things to come for JPA.  We can talk about the differences between these two guys all we want, but ultimately, JPA has back-up written all over him.

Thursday 20 December 2012

Are we done?

AA mentioned after the Reyes/Johnson/Buehrle trade that his payroll guidelines are currently way, way behind him, and that he wasn't going to be able to tack on any more cash to the budget.  He then went ahead and acquired RA Dickey and extended him for two more years for a total of a $30MM commitment.  He traded away John Buck and his $6MM contract to do so, but still; he added a little more, even when he apparently had none left.

That kind of begs the question: is AA finished for the offseason?  I mean, he told us that he was pretty well done after the Melky signing, but that's par for the course with AA-- he's not going to let anybody know that he's interested in something major, because nothing good can come of something like that.  Having said that, it seems really unlikely that he's going to have another major signing or acquisition, since AA probably isn't lying about the money (assuming he doesn't have a reason to?).

As good as this team looks on paper, there could still be some improvements.  Depending on Darren Oliver's decision, I'd like to see at least one other reliever, preferably a lefty.  I really don't want to have to depend on JA Happ to be the lefty specialist when he's actually the best option we have for a sixth starter, but having Happ replace Oliver isn't the end of the world. Someone who can platoon with Adam Lind against lefties, if not straight up replace him at 1B/DH would be convenient, and another replacement level starter or two, just in case an injury rears.  Whether those pickups come via trade or free agency doesn't make a huge difference, as long as the club can pay the checks at the end of the day.

See, there's a pretty big difference between being broke, and simply having no money left.  AA might not have any money left to spend, but he has plenty of assets that he could sell off.

Assuming there's no money left (or very little, anyway), we're going to have to jettison a bit of salary from the big league roster.  The obvious candidate is Adam Lind and his $8.25MM total salary between now and the inevitable "no thank you" to his club options at the end of the year, but if we're talking about getting creative, Emilio Bonifacio and Rajai Davis are pretty well the same guy, and are both making more than $2MM.  JA Happ is due a raise from his $2.35MM that he made in arbitration last year, but I'd be surprised if the Jays moved him, considering he's the current #6 and might be Darren Oliver's heir apparent as lefty setup guy.

I know what you're thinking: "There's no fucking value in Adam Lind with $8.25MM due between now and December."  Well, yeah.  You'd be right.  There wasn't any value in John Buck at $6MM either though, but he helped get a Cy Young winner.  I suppose you could say that Buck's negative value may have negated the steep price that the Jays paid as far as prospects are concerned.

I'm not saying that it's a good idea to trade Adam Lind, and throw in a nice prospect with him, just so the Jays can find some salary relief, but I'm not saying that it's a bad idea either.  Lind kind of saved himself with his second half last year, but let's not kid ourselves here; Lind can only hit right-handed pitching, which really kills his value to the Jays, both in a trade, and in the lineup.

If the Jays can find someone who can DH (or play 1B) and hit both lefties and righties, I don't see why moving Lind and a nice prospect, rather than eating some of Lind's contract, in order to free up some salary space.  Just because there's no money left doesn't mean that there's no way to pay the players.

Fuck making a new post.

Sergio Santos is going to be ready to start the season.  DJF has more on that.

Jayson Stark is aware that the offseason isn't over yet, but this is good news for Jays fans.

I'm watching "Knuckleball" right now, and it's quite good.  I'd suggest it.

Finally, a little nugget from Keith Law's chat today.
Iain (Toronto)
So where do you rank Toronto's farm system now? 1-30
Klaw (3:06 PM)
I haven't done firm rankings yet, but top of my head I'd say 16-20 range.

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Six Degrees of R.A. Dickey

Have you guys ever heard of the game "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon"?  It's based on the theory that no two humans are separated from any other human by any more than six acquaintances or acquaintances of acquaintances (and so on), but replaces that first person with Kevin Bacon, and all other people with actors who have been in a disaster movie with him.

As it happens, the Blue Jays have AJ Burnett to thank for letting this trade happen.  Would you believe that this trade actually may not have gone down had AJ Burnett decided not to opt out of his contract so that he could sign with the New York Yankees?  I'm being super cereal here.

You see, Noah Syndergaard was drafted in 2010 with a pick that was obtained when the Jays failed to sign James Paxton, their sandwich round pick from 2009.  That sandwich pick was given to the Jays because Burnett was a Type-A free agent when he opted out of his deal with the Jays to sign with NY.  Awesome, huh?

And that's how you play Six Degrees of R.A. Dickey.  Now, I had done something like this before (here, here, and here), but holy shit this roster has changed, and I definitely didn't have a clever name attached to it at the time, so let's have a look at the new guys.

  • R.A Dickey: Acquired, along with Mike Nickeas and Josh Thole, in exchange for Travis d'Arnaud, John Buck, Noah Syndergaard, and Wuilmer Becerra.
    • d'Arnaud was acquired, along with Kyle Drabek and Michael Taylor (later flipped for Anthony Gose) for one Harry Leroy Halladay.  Drabek has been worth -0.4 WAR over 167 innings over parts of 3 seasons, and Gose was worth 0.4 WAR in his brief playing time this past season.
      • Halladay was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 1st round, 17th overall (1-17 herein) in 1995, and was worth 45.6 rWAR over parts of 15 seasons.
    • Buck was acquired as part of a giant clustercock of a trade that I'm going to mention later.
    • Syndergaard was drafted by the Jays in the sandwich round of the 2010 draft.  The Jays were given the draft pick as a result of failure to sign James Paxton in 2009.
      • Paxton was taken in the sandwich round of the 2009 draft as compensation for losing AJ Burnett, who opted out of his contract with the Jays, instead opting to sign with the Yankees for 5 years, $82.5MM.
        • Burnett was signed as a free agent by the Blue Jays before the 2006 season to a 5 year, $55MM deal.  Before opting out after the 2008 season, Burnett was worth 6.0 rWAR over 522 innings (11.8 fWAR sounds an awful lot better).
    • Becerra was signed as an international free agent in 2010.

  • Jose Reyes: Acquired, along with Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck, in exchange for Henderson Alvarez, Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria, Jake Marisnick, Anthony DeSclafini and Jeff Mathis.
    • Escobar was acquired, along with Jojo Reyes, from Atlanta for Alex Gonzalez, Tim Collins and Tyler Pastornicky.  Over parts of three season, Escobar was worth 7.8 WAR.
      • Gonzalez signed with the Jays before the 2010 season, and was worth 3.3 rWAR in 88 games before the Jays sold high on him.
      • Collins was signed by JP Ricciardi as an undrafted free agent, and has since become serviceable in the Royals' bullpen.
      • Pastornicky was drafted by the Jays in the 5th round of the 2008 draft.
    • Mathis was acquired for Brad Mills, in a trade that the Jays somehow won, despite Mathis being the worst hitter in the history of baseball.
      • Mills was drafted by the Jays in the 4th round of the 2007 draft.
    • Alvarez was signed as an international free agent in 2006.
    • Hechavarria was signed as an internation free agent in 2010.
    • Desclafini was taken by the Jays in the 6th round of the 2011 draft.
    • Marisnick was taken in the third round of the 2009 draft, also as compensation for the loss of AJ Burnett.  Thanks bud.

  • JA Happ: Acquired, along with Brandon Lyon and David Carpenter in exchange for Francisco Cordero, Asher Wojiecowski, Kevin Comer, Carlos Perez, Joe Musgrove, David Rollins and Ben Francisco.  He's been worth 0.2 rWAR over 40 innings for the Jays in half a season.  Lyon provided 25 innings of 0.5 rWAR baseball, before filing for free agency at the end of last season.  Carpenter was involved in the John Farrell trade, and has already been DFA'ed by the Red Sox.
    • Cordero signed with the Jays before the 2011 season, and was given entirely too much leash, accruing -0.7 WAR and a staggeringly terrible -1.66 WPA over 34.1 innings.
    • Wojciechowski was drafted 1-41 by the Jays in the 2010 draft as a compensation pick for the loss of Rod Barajas.
      • Barajas had a .275 OBP over parts of two seasons, which exposes the flaws of the compensation system.  Either way, 2.1 rWAR.
    • Perez was signed as an international free agent in 2007.
    • Rollins was drafted by the Jays in the 26th round of the 2011 draft.
    • Musgrove was drafted by the Jays 1-46 in 2011 as compensation for the loss of John Buck, which is kind of ironic.
      • Buck was signed as a free agent before the 2010 season, and was worth 1.5 rWAR in his only season in Toronto, before signing in Miami for 3/$18MM.  He was traded back to the Jays in the Reyes deal, and then flipped in the R.A. Dickey deal.
    • Comer was drafted by the Jays 1-57 in the 2011 draft, as compensation for the loss of Miguel Olivo, who was acquired for cash from Colorado after the 2010 season.
      • Cash was acquired in exchange for the goods and services provided by the Rogers Communications group.
    • Francisco was acquired from Philadelphia in exchange for Frank Gailey.  He got 54 plate appearances with the Jays before being traded.
      • Gailey was drafted in the 23rd round of the 2007 draft, and is still in A+ as far as I can tell.

  • Esmil Rogers: Acquired in exchange for Mike Aviles and Yan Gomes.
    • Aviles was acquired from Boston in exchange for John Farrell and David Carpenter, before being subsequently flipped to Cleveland.
      • Farrell was signed to manage the Jays, and I suppose, technically, that he did so.
      • Carpenter, as mentioned above, was involved in the big 12-player Houston trade.
    • Gomes was drafted by the Jays in the 10th round of the 2009 draft.  He was worth 0.3 WAR over 111 plate appearances for the Jays in 1 season.  He can apparently catch, which is probably the only place his bat will play.
  • Steve Delabar: Acquired from Seattle in exchange for Eric Thames.  He's been worth 0.4 rWAR over 29 innings so far for the Jays.
    • Thames was drafted in the 7th round of the 2008 draft, and was worth -0.9 WAR over the equivalent of a full season.  He's best known for not being Travis Snider.
  • Brad Lincoln: Acquired from Pittsburgh in exchange for Travis Snider.  He's been worth -0.3 WAR over 23 innings since being acquired.
    • Snider was drafted 1-14 by the Jays in 2006, and gave the Jays 1.6 WAR before being dealt.
The real takeaway here is thanks for everything AJ Burnett.

Monday 17 December 2012

Got 'em!

Would you believe that there weren't any versions of that image available on Google's image search?  I seriously just played fifteen minutes of Mario Golf and then took a screenshot on my TV and then imported that to my computer and then photoshopped RA Dickey's face on to Luigi's body.

So yeah, seems as though I've missed something over the last few days.  Pretty busy with work and getting ready for the holidays and trying to sleep, so forgive me if I didn't write anything about the Jays acquiring RA Dickey to this point.  Everybody's already covered this thing rather extensively, so you'll have to bear with me if I'm about to write something that's already been said in a more eloquent manner by someone else out there.

Uh... steep price, huh?

Not so fast-- It cost the Royals Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi and Mike Montgomery to get James Shields (and Wade Davis, I suppose), and Shields certainly didn't just win a Cy Young.  Myers is definitely a better prospect than d'Arnaud is, and Kansas City's return (i.e. Davis) is better for that reason, but the point still remains-- a frontline pitcher with a year left on his contract is worth three good prospects, because prospects fizzle out all the time.

And it's not like d'Arnaud or Syndergaard (or Myers, or Odorizzi for that matter) are bound to be anything more than regulars.  Sure, they might be, but they might fizzle out too, just as Dickey might never come anywhere close to being what he was last year-- it's all part of the risk.  I mean, it's hard to imagine these guys sucking given the amount of hype surrounding them, but as Stephen Brunt (I think?) rather astutely pointed out, this is the equivalent of the 2006-ish Jays giving up Snider and Cecil, and we all know how they turned out.

The fact of the matter is that the Jays aren't really overpaying here, or at least, they aren't overpaying any more than anyone else that's done this exact same trade over the last few years.  The Jays got three of the Phillies' top-10 prospects for Roy Halladay; the Twins got four highly ranked prospects for Johan Santana from the Mets; the Mariners got three nice prospects from Houston for Randy Johnson.  These are just the three trades that are coming in to my head immediately, but there are so many others that probably fit this same mold (Gio, Latos).

The Jays just gave two top prospects and an overpaid catcher for a Cy Young pitcher and throw-ins, and they CUT SALARY, then they signed Dickey to a deal for less money than what he was demanding from the Mets.  The Jays are getting exactly what they want and need here, regardless of price paid.

I dunno, guess I'm just an excited homer.  That rotation though.

Friday 14 December 2012

Weiner Jokes Aside

Update- 11:00 ET
A fake twitter account, run by some guy pretending to be Mike Puma of the NY Post confirms* that the deal is Dickey and Davis for Lind, Gose and d'Arnaud.

*- Fake twitter account means fake trade.

Update- 9:30 ET
Andy Martino of NY Daily News and Mets' beat writerdom tells us that he's hearing that Dickey would sign an extension in Toronto if the trade happened and were the extension offered.  I feel like the Jays wouldn't do the deal without an extension window thingy anyway, but we'll see.

Update again- 9:20ish
I know that it's Jon Heyman, but I took a nap and woke up to the news that Travis d'Arnaud is apparently not out of bounds here.  Not really sure why I was surprised, given the Mets' asking price from day one.  It's just that, I dunno, I wanted to see TDA in our lineup, I guess.

TDA is an awfully big price to pay, but Dickey is a pretty solid fucking pitcher, and a pretty big part of this trade is the upgrade the Dickey presents over not just JA Happ, but a replacement reliever.  More succinctly, starter JA Happ becomes reliever JA Happ, which sounds like a fucking treat if Darren Oliver is riding off in to the sunset, and sounds even better if Oliver comes back.  The biggest worry now becomes a 7th starter, not a 6th, and even then, Dickey could throw on short rest in a pinch.

Based on my twitter feed from the last hour or so, Jays fans are underrated Dickey, and probably overrating
Update- 5:50 ET
Well, nothing yet, an hour later.  There have been a few pretty ballsy statements released by some beat writers who appear to be just dying to break the news first, or at least pick up a few hundred followers.  Either way, a lot of people are saying a lot of stuff without actually saying anything.

Jon Morosi, for example, tells us that the Jays are growing confident in their pursuit of Dickey, as if he's spoken to members of the Jays and that they've answered him about the clubs confidence level.  Like, the club has one big, collective level of confidence.

Meanwhile, if we think that JPA has some hilariously awesome kind of trade value, Dave Cameron shits all over that.

I'll probably in the MLBTR comments, owning morans if anyone wants to come hang out.

4:50 ET (Original Post)
Apparently it's Threat Level: Midnight as far as the Jays are concerned in the RA Dickey talks.  MLBTR is reporting that the Mets are leaning towards trading Dickey, and that the Jays are one of the finalists.

Now, I know that we hear a whole bunch of rumors about the Jays, and so rarely are they true, so let's keep our pants on here, but there does appear to be a natural fit here, and just because the Jays refuse to leak information doesn't mean that the Mets can't.

The Rangers missed out on Zack Greinke, and failed to re-sign Josh Hamilton, but T.R. Sullivan says that the Rangers are currently out on Dickey.

Anthony Gose's name has popped up, according to Jon Heyman, as had JPA's, though he's getting a bobblehead so forget trading him, right?  Now Ken Davidoff is telling us that the Jays believed that they could have Dickey by Saturday night.  I'm not sure how much legitimacy there is to these tweets, if any, but hey, it's always fun to speculate, isn't it?  For the record, I believe that Davidoff tweet is a crock of horseshit.

Let's uhhh... follow this and see where it goes, huh?  More soon!

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Stuff: Johnson, Whiteside, Minors

Hi everybody.

Barry Davis sat down with Josh Johnson recently.  Nice little 20-minute interview.  He seems pretty happy to be in the Jays' organization, so that's always nice. Also at sportsnet, Brett Lawrie is apparently jacked up for the season.

The Rangers have claimed Eli Whiteside off waivers from the Jays.  I'm not entirely sure when or why the Jays DFA'ed Whiteside, so this waiver claim definitely took me by surprise.  Sounds like JP Arencibia still isn't going to get traded.

The Jays have signed a few guys to some minor-league deals with invites to spring training.  Claudio Vargas is probably the most well-known of the bunch, and they'll probably only really show up if there are any injuries or performance fucks or whatever, so we'll just skip this one.

Finally, Bluebird Banter looks at the roster, as it shapes up today, and considers what needs to be done with the rest of the offseason.  For those of you wondering: no, the entire article isn't just the word "bullpen" in big bolded caps.

Friday 7 December 2012

Now That We've Won the World Series...

Hey.  So the Jays have made some improvements this offseason.  I think it's fairly well established that the Jays are going to win the World Series this year, and probably another dozen or so in the near future.  I just kind of feel like pointing something out to anybody who hasn't noticed it yet (for what it's worth, I'm sure a lot of people have noticed this already).

See, Melky Cabrera had a ridiculous stat line over the first 100 or so games last year, before ultimately getting suspended for PED use.  He probably won't ever hit as well as he did last season ever again.  Whether or not it was PED-related isn't really my point though.  Cabrera finished last season with a .379 babip, the sixth highest babip in the league (of players with 300+ AB's).

One of those players was Joey Votto (.404), who had a 30.2% line drive rate, and a 1% pop-up rate.  That babip is probably pretty close to his expected one, though I've never bothered to check.  His career babip is .359, so it may have been a slight outlier.

Dexter Fowler (.390) is another player who ranked higher than Melky.  He has a career .353 babip, and is fast as shit.  Again, lots of liners, and a reasonably low popup rate helped boost the average, but there was probably a bit of fortune there.

Mike Trout had a .383 babip in his first full season, and is probably due a slight regression just by looking at his batted ball profile, but it's tough to say with that sample size.

Torii Hunter had very little change in his batted ball profile, but babip'ed 80 points higher than his career norm.  He's also 38. That was all luck.

That brings us to Melky; he's had back-to-back high-babip seasons, and he's at or around his prime years, so its certainly possible that he's just the kind of guy who gets higher babips than your average player, but with a .309 career mark, inflated by his .332 in 2011, and .379 in 2012, he's probably due to regress offensively, at least a little bit.  Before 2011, his career-high babip was .309, not his career average.

This isn't to say that Melky Cabrera isn't a good baseball player, because that would be silly, but expecting anything even close to his 2012 totals is probably way, way too optimistic.  Bill James' forecast has Cabrera hitting .295/.348/.432, good for a .338 wOBA.  I'm not sure whether or not that's adjusted to the Skydome or not (I don't think it is), but that's a little over league-average for a LF.  He can obviously beat those projections and be worth 4+ WAR again, I just wouldn't exactly count on it based on his career batted ball profile and replacement level for corner outfielders.

Melky is due a regression, but even then, 2 year and $16MM for someone who has put up 8+ WAR in the last two years is pretty awesome.  $16MM in value, these days, is just over 3 WAR (in a single season, that is).  AA might get his money's worth this season alone, and have next year be gravy.

The idea behind this post is to try and temper our expectations, and not to use his prior PED-use as a crutch.  He's probably a true-talent ~3 WAR player in LF, and his .346/.390 /.516 line in 2012 wasn't ever really sustainable whatsoever.  He will regress from that, and it has nothing to do with juicing.

Thursday 6 December 2012

Dick-ey Meeting?

Jon Heyman is at it again, claiming that the Jays are still talking with the Mets about RA Dickey.  He supposes that at least the Rangers and Jays are both still in, but that the Jays wouldn't give up Travis d'Arnaud, suggesting that Anthony Gose could plausibly be available.

I think we all know my opinions on Gose; I don't think he's ever going to hit well enough to justify being in the lineup everyday, no matter how good his defense and speed may rank.

Gose is so far from a sure thing, whereas Dickey is an actual major league pitcher, and a really good one at that.  There's no need to horde prospects at the moment-- Bautista, Edwin and Reyes are at or around their primes, and Johnson might not be around after the end of the season.

I'm in.

What's a Win Cost?

Well, it's hard to say.  We don't ever really get to figure out the cost of a win until after someone tallies it up at the end of the year (and fuck knows that I'm not doing it), but given some of the contracts signed on the free agent market this year, I feel like the charge is going up.  I had been using $5MM over the last 12-15 months, but it would appear that Fangraphs is going with $5.5MM/WAR, which immediately makes using that number sound like a smart idea.

I had actually written elsewhere that the Jays need to get something like 17.5 WAR out of Reyes over the life of the contract to get their money's worth, but that was using a $5MM/WAR valuation.

I feel like Reyes can probably be expected to provide something pretty close to the value listed above, though there's always the worry about how a fast guy without much power will age, especially if he can no longer play SS.  The above expected WAR, it should be noted, isn't a projection, but rather a model that shows how he'll be paid and will need to perform to justify the deal, as if it were a free agent contract, which, in itself, is a misnomer, since the Jays gave up prospects to acquire him, beyond the aspect of writing him several checks over the next five years.

We can certainly make the case that the trade (plus the Melky signing) puts them closer to the 90-95 win sweetspot that gets you in to the playoffs, which makes paying a little more for each subsequent win a little more justifiable.  That means that if Reyes were to be worth, say 15 wins over the life of the contract, the Jays would be paying an extra $900k or so per win (96/17.5 vs. 96/15).

Well, what if we substitute the original $5MM for the new figure of $5.5MM?

Slightly different, but a little easier to reach, no?  16 WAR over 5 years for a guy who's been worth 10.7 the last two years alone?  Bill James has him projected to be have a .295/.352/.434 batting line, which, combined with average defense and slightly above average baserunning, nets somewhere within the 3.5-4WAR area, depending on whether those projections have him playing in Toronto or Miami.

It certainly looks like AA struck before the iron got hot.  Josh Hamilton is probably going to get some hilarious short-term, high AAV deal that will pay him $25MM a season, and Zach Greinke might get the same value over 7 years.  BJ Upton gets 5/$75MM, Shane Victorino gets 3/$39MM despite having an atrocious 2012.  Shit, guys coming off Tommy John surgeries are getting 2-year deals.

The cost of a win is rising, and teams are spending their TV money with reckless abandon.  Seeing some of the free agent deals that have been signed so far this offseason makes me like the Miami trade a little more, especially since Toronto struggles to bring in free agents in the first place.

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Bonifacio we Hardly Knew Ye?

Dave O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Braves have expressed interest in Jays utility man and speedster Emilio Bonifacio.  AA said the other day that he's not expecting to make any more moves, especially at the winter meetings, but that things come up sometimes.

A move here would certainly make sense, seeing as the Braves have quite a bit of pitching depth, which is what the Jays are looking for.  It would be tough to replace a guy that can do everything Boni can, given his speed and defensive flexibility, but at the end of the day, he's going to be an arbitration-eligible bench guy, so it shouldn't take a whole lot of arm-twisting to pry him out of AA's hands.

I'd be all about a trade that brings over another starter good enough to move Happ to the bullpen, especially if Darren Oliver doesn't come back, but a strong relief piece would be nice regardless.

Winter Meetings, Day 2

Looks like a 1 year, $13MM deal that will allow Haren to try and re-establish some value.  Seems like a big overpay for such an injury concern, but Haren has a good track record, and I was kind of expecting him to get multiple years at a lower average annual salary.  As if Edwin Jackson weren't already not coming back to the Nationals, he's probably not coming back to the Nationals.

Haren is entering his age-32 season, so he's probably peaked already.  He didn't have much fun pitching in LA this year, having some injury and performance issues, but he had been a really good pitcher for the previous 7 years.  He threw a career-low 176 innings this year, but had been a model of durability before that, throwing at least 200 innings every year since 2005.

The big issue is his health-- various reports had teams worried about his shoulder, elbow and back, but if he can stay healthy, this will probably be a nice signing for the Nationals, and might even allow Haren to find a multi-year deal next offseason.

11:20 ET
Anthopoulos on the radio with Dirk Hayhurst and Jeff Blair, starting any minute.

11:50 ET
Be forewarned that Jim Bowden is full of shit, but he notes that The Nats' signing of Dan Haren more than likely means that they won't be participating in the Zack Greinke sweeps, and that beyond the Rangers and Dodgers, another team or two could pop up and get involved.  He mentions the Jays, Red Sox and White Sox.  Of course, Alex Anthopoulos was just on the Jeff Blair show and pointed out that they're about done as far as big deals go, and that they're not going to get in to a bidding war with anyone.

1:30 ET (Bumped to the front of the blog)
Ryan Dempster apparently wants something in the $13MM range that Dan Haren got this morning/afternoon.  That's insanity, unless he's looking for a 1-year deal as well, which he apparently isn't.  Dempster is entering his age-36 season, and despite being worth 16-ish WAR over the last four years, there's no way he's getting 3 years at $13MM per.  It's either years or dollars, not both.

He's been really solid and durable since becoming a starter again in 2008 with FIP's in the 3's and 175 innings pitched in all five of those years.  Sort of like a righty Mark Buehrle with strikeouts and walks (actually, fuck around with this, it sort of makes for a decent comp if you look away from k's and bb's).  I don't think anybody is going to pay Dempster as if he's a 3.5 WAR pitcher going forward and give him multiple years, since he's baseball-old, but I guess people are crazy.

Depending on where you look, Dempster was worth 3.3 or 3.6 WAR in 2012, call it 3.5 thanks to the price of pitching and the simplicity of math.  Dempster is said to be seeking three years, so following a standard aging curve, 3, 2.5 and 2 WAR, or 7.5 WAR over the next three seasons. That 3-2.5-2 projection is certainly a back-of-the-envelope one, since it kind of ignores the consistent aging that occurred from 2008 through 2011.  True-talent Dempster is probably below that 3.5 WAR that he was worth this year.

Based on his track record, three years seems fair, maybe with a vesting option based on innings pitched in the last year.  Thanks to being old and still getting three years, I don't see him getting market value for those projectedish 7.5 WAR, especially considering his dropoff in innings this year due to an injury-- a slight discount gives us something like 3 years, $30MM with a $10MM vesting option if he can hit 200 IP in the third year.  3y/$31.5MM to Boston is my prediction, and even that might be an overpay.  He'd need to put up slightly less than 6 WAR to justify that one, and throwing 600 innings of 4FIP baseball certainly gets you there.

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Rays Acquire Yunel Escobar

MLBTR, via Danny Knobler of CBS Sports (or is it the other way around?  Knobler says it, but I'm reading it on MLBTR), is reporting that the Rays have taken their exploitation of market inneficiencies to a new level, acquiring the bigotry of Yunel Escobar, in exchange for Derek Deitrich, a halfway decent infield prospect.  The deal isn't official yet, but it appears as though it's going down.

Escobar, of course, was run out of town after his eye black incident included in the trade that brought over Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes and whomever else we pretend to care about, since there wasn't going to be any playing time for him anyway.

Naturally, with the payroll purge that the Marlins were going through, Escobar was never really going to make it too far with the Marlins, and, as result, has been jettisoned for a prospect to assist with the rebuild.

Escobar hit .253/.300/.344 in 608 plate appearances this past year, and .272/.335/.373 overall in about 2 and a half seasons in Toronto, giving about 7 WAR, and earning himself a 2 year, $10MM extension, complete with 2 club options worth $5MM a piece.  His defense is quite good, ranking as a plus defender at shortstop, so the Rays will probably get their money's worth, given the low replacement level of shortstop these days and Escobar's relatively good track record of durability, save for the odd bean-ball-induced wrist injury, which isn't exactly his fault.  Beyond that, this will allow the Rays to shift Ben Zobrist back to second base, and who knows, maybe Joe Maddon will use Escobar as a bottom-of-the-order bat the way John Farrell probably should have (or more accurately, might have, if he had any better options).

Escobar just turned 30, which is the beginning of the decline phase.  He responded, in his age-29 year, with a drop in OBP, walk-rate, batting average, slugging, and isolated power.  I'm sure the real Escobar is better than what we saw in 2012, and is probably worse than the one we saw in 2011, but there's no reason why he can't be an above-average contributor in Tampa, assuming he can avoid getting suspended or avoid doing something ridiculous again.

As for Deitrich, Tommy Rancel knows more about him than I do.

Andrew Friedman is such a boss.

Red Sox tied to Victorino

Posting this shit from work, so fuck pictures or links or anything that makes concrete sense, but I'm reading that the Red Sox are going to (try to) answer the Blue Jays' big offseason plans by signing Shane Victorino to a 3 year, $37.5MM deal.  Well I'm just shaking in my dirty little work boots now, aren't I?

No.  I'm not.  Because that would be an overpay.  $40MM over four years gets you a younger, better Angel Pagan, and you still want to give 3/$37.5 to a 32 year old coming off the worst year of his career?  Ben Cherington, your dad, Theo Epstein, would be upset with you.

Victo has pretty well no power (big dip in ISO last year), and playing in Fenway should really sap away the triples-speed that he possesses, especially against LHP.  Even against RHP, just play him to pull it in to the big Bermuda Triangle and you should be okay.  Walks and K's have been pretty static for his whole career, but it's not like they're going to trade Jacoby Ellsbury so that Victo can play CF, are they?

If he's playing a corner OF position, they really aren't getting the hilariously low replacement level out of him. I'm off in three hours, maybe I'll clean this up later.

Update: 8:30 ET
Home from work.  I still feel about the same.  I mean, I don't hate it... I just don't like it for the Sox.  Maybe I just don't like the Sox, so the biased cat is rearing his head.

The deal is official anyway; 3 years, $39MM.  Seems like a best-case scenario, especially if he's playing a corner outfield position.  32 years old, decrease in power, so on and so-forth.

Anthopoulos With Blair and Dirk

Just going to make this it's own post instead of putting it in the Day 2 running blog.  You can probably find the audio on later on, but here are the cliffnotes.

11:35 ET
- He doesn't like being called a ninja.
- AA told JPA that he was going to be the starter when the trade happened.  Trades happen, and nothing is promised, but JP is the starting C at the moment.  No no-trade clauses at the moment.
- Dirk asks about AAAA guys and pitching depth being important.  AA says that he doesn't like the winter meetings because of all the interference and the media pressure to make a big splash.  He'd rather work from home, either before or after the meetings.
- AA doesn't see anything that could happen to drastically change the outlook of the team, and that they don't have any deals in place right now.  Depth/bench is significantly stronger at the moment, and the concern is pitching depth.
- re: A-Rod situation, the Yankees got away with missing him.  Yeah, they might take a hit offensively, but they still have a good pitching staff.  Cashman is good.

11:40 ET
- Haven't had any significant trade talks at the winter meetings.  Couple of phone calls, but nothing face-to-face.  Names get thrown around all the time to boost value, and the internet goes fucking crazy all the time with rumors.  Things can change quickly though.
- From a payroll standpoint, they probably won't get in to a bidding war for a free agent.  Payroll is beyond where it was planned to be.  It's not like he couldn't go to Beeston (or whoever) and say "Hey, moar plz," but it's unlikely unless the right player came up at the right price.

Blair and Dirk also had Jonah Keri on this morning.

Overnight Stuff

Your relevant items from the sleepytime period.

The O's are looking to acquire a "power bat" and it's apparently when, not if, and apparently they're willing to move starting pitching to get it.  Michael Cuddyer or Josh Willingham are two names that pop in to my head as players who might be available and fit in to the O's needs, and apparently the D'Backs are willing to move Jason Kubel as well, who is coming off a career-high 30 HR's last season, albeit in Arizona's hitter-friendly confines.

The obvious issue here is figuring out what the O's can actually offer, as far as starting pitching goes.  They won 93 games last season in spite of themselves, and hilarious over-performances from their pitching staff was the main catalyst.  Practically everybody in that bullpen outperformed their FIP's, and of their guys who made 10 or more starts, only Jason Hammel had a FIP below 4.00.  The O's just don't have the pitching quality or depth to be trading from there, especially if the plan is to use Miguel Gonzalez, Steve Johnson or Joe Saunders (assuming they can re-sign him), none of whom are actually any good.

It's becoming increasingly likely that the Rays are going to take advantage of the cost of pitching, and move at least one starter.  David Price and James Shields are both fairly expensive, but Jeremy Hellickson's name has come up quite a bit as well.  Price or Shields could be seen as a better alternative to Zack Greinke, considering age, price, and term commitment.  Shields is under contract for two more years (options), and Price is just 27.  Hellickson is still under team control for four more years, including this season at the league minimum salary.  All three should fetch huge returns.

The Marlins are telling teams that Ricky Nolasco won't be moved, which is probably bullshit.  Nolasco publicly stated that he wants out of Miami yesterday, and it just doesn't make any sense to not trade him if you're the Marlins.  He's due $11.5MM this year, before becoming a free agent at the end of the season.  The only reason the Marlins have to hang on to him is to allow him to rebuild a bit of value before ditching him at the deadline-- he's got ERA's above 4.50 for 4 straight years (FIP's in the mid-to-high 3's though), and has had declining strikeout rates in each of those four seasons.  His profile as a pitcher has changed a bit, and he seems to be pitching to contact a bit more-- fewer strikeouts, more groundballs, declining velocity, more splitters.  He's been fairly durable over his career, throwing 185+ innings 4 times in his last 5 seasons.  You could definitely do worse.

Monday 3 December 2012

Winter Meetings: Day 1 Running Blog

Busy first morning at the winter meetings.

10:50 ET
The Rays have already signed James Loloney to a 1 year deal worth $2MM, and they've also been a part of the first quashed rumor, which apparently had them looking at Michael Morse and Danny Espinosa, in exchange for probably James Shields.  It sounds like a great fit, but apparently there is no traction to those talks.  Personally, I don't see the Rays moving Shields.

The Red Sox appear close to signing Mike Napoli. More on this as it happens, but I can see this one getting hilarious. [Update- Confirmed. Financials not released yet $39MM over 3 years.]

I'll probably be here all day, chiming in my worthless opinion on anything and everything that I see necessary.

11:30 ET
A bit more on Napoli.  Of course, he had a huge 2011 season, hitting 30 HR's and having a .320/.414/.631 batting line over 417 PA's.  At catcher!  There's some first base mixed in there too, but that's a huge season no matter the position.  He took quite a step back last year, coming down to .227/.343/.469, good for a .349 wOBA.  Still pretty good, even if it's a big, big step backwards.

In comparing his 2012 year with his 2011, the two big differences I see on his stats page are (1) a big regression in babip, dropping from .344 to .273, and (2) a huge jump in strikeout rate, going from 19% in '11 to 30% in '12.  The walks stayed static, and his batted ball profile is right in line with his career norms, assuming you correct for parks (Arlington is very hitter friendly, Anaheim most certainly is not).  Bill James' projections have his posting a .359 wOBA in '13, so I suppose his value really hinges on defense.

Fenway plays pretty friendly to a right-handed power hitter like Napoli, and $13MM a season isn't too bad for someone with such a bat, especially when they can handle the catching duties from time to time.  The Sox will only need to get about 6.5 WAR out of him, which is right around league average production.  Depending on how much he catches and if he can stay healthy (he's played 140 games just once in his career), this should be a fine deal for the Red Sox.

12:30 ET
Not much going on right now.  I guess the Red Sox are out on Adam Laroche, which puts Napoli squarely at 1B and less so at C.  Probably better for the Sox to go that way-- Napoli is there for his bat, and not his glove, and the Sox already have Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway kicking around.  Nap at 1B keeps him in the lineup practically everyday, whereas he can't catch 150 games a year.

Laroche, meanwhile, has one less suitor.  My best guess is that he returns to the Nats, and they figure out what to do with Michael Morse later.  Laroche could still find a home elsewhere, which would allow the Nats to put Morse at 1B, since he's pretty well useless in the outfield.  The Rangers are looking in on Laroche, and I suppose, if the market doesn't really develop to the point where he might need a pillow contract, the Jays could tell Adam Lind to go fuck himself, stick Edwin at DH, and let Laroche man 1B.  I doubt that even happens though-- I just wanted to write something, and wanted to include something about the Jays, since there's been nothing on that front yet today.

1:30 ET
Jayson Stark of ESPN is reporting that the Mets are looking to trade RA Dickey, and that the Rangers are the team that makes the most sense.  The Royals are apparently in as well.

Ted Berg, via Dustin Parkes, shows us why the Mets and Jays probably aren't as good a fit as we may think; JP Arencibia just isn't all that much of an upgrade as Josh Thole at the moment, even if they Jays and Mets could work something out.

1:50 ET
The Jays have claimed Eli Whiteside from the Yankees' waivers.  Everything I wrote about JPA not getting traded, thanks to the lack of Bobby Wilson?  Forget it.

4:30 ET
I left for like three hours, what did I miss?  Nothing?  Cool.

It appears as though the Giants have re-signed Angel Pagan to a 4 year deal worth $40MM.  13.9 WAR in the last four years is pretty good, but the Giants are signing him through his age 34 season... definitely risky.  Given the price that it took to sign BJ Upton, however, this is a pretty nice deal.  Replacement level is very, very low for CF's, so I feel like this deal should be fine for the Giants.  They'll need about 7 WAR out of Pagan over the contract, so assuming he follows anything resembling a standard aging curve, the Giants got a decent deal here.

5:15 ET
Sportsnet's Barry Davis tells us that AA is unsure of Darren Oliver's future, and probably won't find out until January.  I CAN'T WAIT THAT LONG!

5:30 ET
Fuck sakes.  Davis also says that Adam Lind is going to be given the chance to hit vs. LHP until he proves that he can't (again).  Stark contrast from what we've heard about him so far this offseason.  Please be bluffing.

In a separate tweet, Davis says that AA is waiting to see him on the mound, but he believes Sergio Santos will be ready to start the season.

In yet another tweet, Davis says that AA is unlikely to pursue another upgrade to the rotation.  Probably Happ, but could always be Jenkins or someone else, depending on how minor league free agency and spring training goes.

7:15 ET
Need a shortstop?  Yunel Escobar is available.  Probably too expensive.  The D'backs and A's come to mind, and with Jeter and ARod both coming off surgery, the Yankees make at least a little bit of sense.

8:30 ET
I've got John Gibbons talking to the media, courtesy of or or something like that.


8:40 ET
Mike Cormack has the transcripts from AA's media scrum, as well as a little video interview.

10:45 ET
Things are moving slowly at the moment.  It's not that there aren't any rumblings, it's just that nothing is really gaining any steam.  We've had a couple of guys sign today, but nothing that was huge news, ruminating for a while-- everything that happened today happened relatively quickly.  I'm talking mostly about the Napoli and Pagan signings here, as everything else has just been rumors that are based more on speculation than anything.  It seemed like everything happened overnight last year, so maybe we'll see something juicy when we wake up tomorrow morning.

Sunday 2 December 2012

Stuff: Catching, Meetings

There's your opening day catcher folks.  The Jays decided to non-tender Bobby Wilson yesterday, ultimately deciding to allow the catcher to walk in free agency.  He was taking up a spot on the 40-man, after being claimed from Anaheim a few weeks ago.

As result, the Jays have JP Arencibia, John Buck, Travis d'Arnaud and AJ Jimenez on the 40-man roster, as far as catchers go.  Only Arencibia and Buck have MLB experience, with d'Arnaud and Jimenez being 23 and 22, respectively.  Neither are going to be thrust in to a role in the majors that will hamper their development, so both are going to start the year in the minors.  d'Arnaud appears to be about ready to take over, but the Jays seem eager to have him start the year in the minors, with the hopes of making sure he's fully recovered from a season-ending leg break.

Had the Jays hung on to Wilson, trading Arencibia would have been a lot more likely, with the intention of having Buck start and Wilson back up until d'Arnaud came along, but moving Arencibia now would create another hole at the catcher position.  I doubt its incredibly hard to find a rental back-up catcher floating around (Bobby Wilson comes to mind), so if the right deal came along, Buck could certainly fake being a regular starting catcher for a month or two.  I just don't see it happening.

Of course, I'm only writing this because Ken Rosenthal reports that the Jays have had chats with the Rays (for Wade Davis) and the Mets (for Jon Niese).  Niese would represent a nice upgrade over JA Happ, but I'd be shocked if a 1-for-1 deal involving Niese and JPA would go down; it's likely that the Jays would need to part with at least a significant (i.e. top-10 prospect) to get that kind of deal done.  Niese is signed to a contract similar to what Ricky Romero signed a few years ago, and has 4 years and $25MM left on that deal, plus two club options for $10 and $11MM for 2017 and 2018.

The Jays had DFA'ed Mike's Mccoy and McDade the other day, as well as Joel Carreno and Cory Wade.  Carreno and Mccoy got through waivers, but McDade was claimed by the Indians.  Carreno and Mccoy have been outrighted to AAA Buffalo.  I'm surprised that nobody took a shot on Carreno, to be quite honest.  Wade rejected his assignment and is now a free agent.

Elsewhere, the winter meetings will begin tomorrow.  I'll be sitting here F-5'ing MLBTR all day and writing about anything I find interesting.