Sunday, January 30, 2005

Sosa To the Orioles 

The Baltimore Orioles acquired Sammy Sosa for two mediocre prospects and their second best 2nd baseman. They will pay him just $7 million.

Now, I want to say that a lot has to go right for the O's to contend. But think about it. Isn't it likely that Luis Matos and Jay Gibbons will each be better than their below-replacement level 2004's? And isn't it likely that Sidney Ponson will improve upon his 2004 numbers? And don't you think Sammy should be able to post an .875ish OPS? So those are kind of the given improvements for the Orioles. They do have some bigtime regression candidates in Melvin Mora and Javy Lopez but let's just say for shits and giggles that every Oriole replicates his 2004 except for the aforementioned, who all improve.

The Orioles posted an 82-80 Pythag in 2004 but even that doesn't tell you how unlucky Baltimore was. Their W3% (Clay Davenport of BP's creation) was 86-76. The slobbering dolts will tell you differently but the real story of this trade is that the Orioles have an outside shot at contention while the Cubs, in letting the wildly overrated Dusty Baker pull the strings, have revealed themselves to be far more poorly run than I ever realized.

What's worse, being myopic or moronic?

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Stuff That Doesn't Interest Me 

1) The Minky-baseball story.

2) T.O.

3) Who the most exciting baserunner is.

On the other hand, Dustin Pedroia's PECOTA projection interests me in a big way.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Vintage Jaffe 

Go check this out.

If the Yankee front office had any of the wit, thoughtfulness or sagacity that its bloggers (Goldman, Jaffe, Belth, Corcoran, Mahnken) had, we as Sox fans would be in a whole lot of trouble.

Thankfully, they don't and we'll get to watch Ruben Sierra, Doug Glanville and Bubba Crosby log a combined 500 at-bats in 2005.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Sox Sign Tomori 

While I took a look at the Red Sox' lineup and starting staff yesterday, I omitted what at this point appears to be its biggest weakness, the bullpen. While Keith Foulke, Alan Embree and Mike Timlin all return, each is a bit older and likely to regress a bit. Further, the Sox received about 90 quality innings last year from three guys that won't be returning, Curtis Leskanic, Ramiro Mendoza and Scott Williamson. Replacing those innings will not be easy. John Halama and his 2.64 ERA as a reliever since 2002 should help, and so should the odd starter out when Wade Miller is healthy. A strong Byung-Hyun Kim would do wonders.

Still, there was just enough uncertainty out in that pen for the Sox to sign 37 year-old Denny Tomori, a Japanese, sidewinding fireballer whose strikeout numbers are excellent but home run numbers are not. I imagine Theo et al determined that the home run totals may have been a bit inflated by Tomori's home park. If not, I can't imagine that a pitcher that serves up bombs in Japan wouldn't continue to do so here in the States.

Perhaps the front office thought it was a worthy one year flier because it would take Major League hitters some time to grow accustomed to Tomori's unorthodox style (think Hideo Nomo in 1995). Maybe Tomori has 75 good innings in him before hitters catch onto his delivery. However it turns out, it was a low-risk move by the Sox and a good sign in that they accurately identified a potential weakness.

Should be interesting to see how the local press and fanboys take to him. Remember the last Asian side-armer we acquired?

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Spring Training Must Be 'Round the Corner 

Boys n' girls, Nate Silver of Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA projections are out. If you aren't a subscriber, I'll give you a little sneek peak but really, if you're reading this site you ought to be a subscriber over at BP.

It's tough to really put my finger on why these get me excited but PECOTA always inspires some reaction, be it bewilderment, affirmation, excitement or anger. I thought I might present the Sox and Yanks' respective lineups and rotations. A few caveats: I am listing the 9 players I expect to receive the most playing time for each club. In this department, the Yankees have a small edge in projected VORP, due to relatively few at-bats forecast for Trot, Mueller and Millar. The Yankees also have some at bats to fill in from their bench. It is because of this that, despite the Yanks' apparent offensive edge, I am not that worried. Whereas the Sox will fill in injury, platoon, off-day and late-inning at-bats with Jay Payton, Doug Mirabelli, Kevin Youkilis and Ramon Vazquez, the Yanks will do so with Rey Sanchez, John Flaherty, Bubba Crosby and gosh I dunno, Doug Glanville? Without further ado...

New York Yankees
Player VORP
Rodriguez: 60.3
Sheffield: 49.9
Jeter: 46.6
Posada: 39.5
Matsui: 33.8
Williams: 27.9
Giambi: 26.5
Martinez: 15.8
Womack: 5.6
Total 305.9

Boston Red Sox
Player VORP
Ramirez: 55.5
Ortiz: 46.9
Renteria: 37.7
Damon: 33.8
Bellhorn: 31.8
Varitek: 27.8
Nixon: 20.5
Millar: 18.9
Mueller: 18.6
Total: 291.5

I would say Trot, Millar and Mueller have ridiculously low projections due in large part to PECOTA low-balling their playing time. Still, what sticks out is that the Yanks still have one hell of a formidable lineup. With more competence from management this past off-season, the Bombers' lineup could have been a total wagon. Replace Bernie with Beltran and Womack with Polanco and the lineup's bananas. Instead, they'll settle for being a perfectly fine 875-run club.

On the pitching side, there isn't much need for explanation. PECOTA projects what it projects.

New York Yankees
Player VORP
Johnson: 64.6
Mussina: 31.5
Brown: 24.7
Pavano: 21.3
Wright: 16.5
Sturtze: 6.0
Total: 164.6

Boston Red Sox
Player VORP
Schilling: 56.0
Clement: 38.6
Arroyo: 31.4
Wake: 24.4
Miller: 20.2
Wells: 15.6
Total: 186.2

As you might expect, the Sox have a slight edge as PECOTA hates Wright and Pavano.

The two teams look even, though Boston appears to have a clear depth advantage. As the season draws closer, more in-depth analyses will come but for now, pony up for a BP subscription and enjoy PECOTA!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Delgado to the Marlins 


I have two thoughts.

1) The NL East is going to be a bona fide 4-team race. Philadelphia, Florida, Atlanta and even the Mets all appear to have a crack at a division crown. Jim Bowden, however, does not.

2) I expect the Millar-Minky shoe to drop pretty soon since the Mets lost out on Delgado. Hopefully Theo has a bit more leverage.

Oh and I would like to encourage everybody to go support Larry Mahnken, a terrific guy and one of the blogosphere's best. He's encountered some misfortune.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Our Own Little Rat Pack 

Chris Snow is taking the Globe sports page by storm. Though his Minky-Millar statistical analysis was far from perfect, it was clear he had done some work and even clearer that he was interested in arriving at a conclusion based upon objective analysis. Now comes a feature length piece in which he does even more - gasp - work, interviewing four key figures in the Boston Red Sox front office, Peter Woodfork, Galen Carr, Jed Hoyer and Brian O'Halloran.

They're an intrepid group, all between ages 28 and 33. Two are married. None has kids, though one has a child on the way. They are among Theo Epstein's most valued employees, all situated just feet outside the general manager's office at desks, cubicles, or small work stations.

"Officles," Epstein prefers.

They work until 7 most nights, sometimes until 2 a.m., sometimes all night. They are representative of the zeitgeist that now pervades Major League Baseball: young, analytical, and armed with broad skill sets. They favor black sweaters over shirts and ties, pickup football and basketball over more passive pastimes.

Can't you just picture the CHB shoulder-bumping Snow in the hallways like Union workers trying to intimidate the high school kid without his Union card for working too hard on a construction job? "Take it easy kid, that's not how we do things around here." Well let me just say that I think Snow is doing one hell of a good job. He has brought a renewed sense of what truly good journalistic work is to a Globe sports page that was in dire need of somebody of Snow's hardworking and objective ilk.

I would also like to once again point out how fortunate we are to be rooting for this organization. While (save for a few teams) fogyism pervades MLB and so many executives address the press like there isn't anything in baseball that they don't know, Boston's baseball club employs youthful and energetic intellectuals that crave information.

So kudos to Chris Snow and the front office of the Boston Red Sox. Something tells me that what we are seeing from both is just the tip of the iceberg.

Thursday, January 20, 2005


Bryan Smith has pegged promising Red Sox shortstop Hanley Ramirez 18th on his Top 75 prospect list over at Wait Til Next Year.

18. Hanley Ramirez - SS - Boston Red Sox- 21
Everyone I read says that Hanley Ramirez will hit for power one day, and I don’t deny that fact at all. The more and more removed from the shoulder injury, the more and more power Hanley started to hit. Six of his eight FSL doubles were in his last fifteen games there, and his Eastern League performance was solid. What was interesting about his power in the Eastern League was that it was confined to an 11 game stretch in the middle in which he hit seven extra-base hits, and in his last six games, with six extra-base hits. In the other 15 games, all you have to show is one double. Hanley has consistency with his average, strikeout numbers (about 16-17%), walks, he just now needs the power to be consistent. He’ll always be more gap power than anything else, but 15-25 home runs a year is definitely not out of the picture. Now the Red Sox must decide whether they want that at second base, or want the fruits of what trading Hanley would provide.

Go check out the rest of the list. Bryan has done some excellent work.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Millar-Minky Comparison in Globe 

While I have already covered the topic, Chris Snow - new to the Globe - offers up this piece in today's edition. Good stuff.

I think Mientkiewicz's defense more than makes up for Millar's slugging advantage but the difference is negligible enough that I imagine whatever player yields more will be the one to go.

Arbitration Avoided 

The Red Sox avoided arbitration with Bronson Arroyo and Mark Bellhorn by signing the pair to one-year deals worth $1.85M and $2.75M respectively. Both are good deals wherein the Sox should receive fantastic value and the players can enjoy handsome raises. I don't think I need to go into why Arroyo's deal is a good one but I want to present a little evidence to illustrate why Bellhorn's deal is so favorable. The two figures are 2004 OPS+, followed by 2005 salary.

Bellhorn, 107, $2.75M
Loretta, 136, $2.5M
Kent, 124, $7.5M
Soriano, 98, $7.5M
Durham, 115, $6.5M
Vidro, 116, $7.0M
Giles, 112, $2.7M*
Womack, 93, $2.0M

* figure he is requesting in arbitration

Only San Diego and Atlanta appear to be getting better deals on their second baseman than the Sox.

I wonder what the "Pokey's better" crowd thinks about Bellhorn's new contract?

Tuesday, January 18, 2005


Bryan Smith has posted the first two installments of his Top 75 prospects over at Wait Til Next Year.

He has posted numbers 70-45 and so far, Jon Papelbon and Jon Lester have both appeared. I have made the point I am about to before here but I want to reiterate it because too few have mentioned it in mainstream circles. What this off-season has screamed out to me more than anything else is that Boston's front office has enormous faith in the health of its farm system. The only justifiable explanation for Jason Varitek's and Edgar Renteria's respective contracts, especially when you consider Manny Ramirez's growing-more-God-awful-by-the-minute deal, is that there will be enough bargain basement home-grown talent on the roster by 2007 or so to allow for continued pursuit of top-echelon talent - even with $40-$50 million tied up in dubious deals.

That Papelbon and Lester have received some recognition from a trusted source like WTNY says to me that this front office may very well have every right to bank a good amount of the fututre on what hitherto had been a barren and even laughable Minor League system.

Pleading the Fifth 

There remains little uncertainty with respect to the composition of the 2005 Red Sox 25 man roster but one unresolved item appears to be the fifth outfielder position, manned last season by eternal folk hero Dave Roberts. The Red Sox have two candidates for the role in former A’s reserve Billy McMillon and Rule V draft acquisition Adam Stern.

McMillon has made a career of the role, never amassing more than 153 at-bats in any one season despite having seen Major League action off and on since 1996. He is what he is – an OK fielder and an acceptable reserve hitter, capable of piecing together a good at bat but never with enough consistency to justify regular action.

I find Adam Stern to be pretty compelling. While many, like Bryan Smith of Wait Til Next Year for instance, believe that Stern has little chance of sticking with the Sox, I am not so sure. He had 27 stolen bases last season, plays a solid outfield and can get on base - all characteristics I want in a reserve outfielder. A native of Ontario, a former Nebraska Cornhusker and soon to be 25 years old, the Red Sox believe Stern to be a late bloomer. While his 2002 and 2003 left quite a bit to be desired, he fully recovered from a hamstring injury in 2003 to post a .322/.378/.480 line with Double-A Greenville this season. That line was good enough for a better EQA than Greenville teammate and Atlanta uber-prospect Ande Marte. Granted Marte is a third baseman and Stern an outfielder but the point is instructive. Stern has the potential to be a Major League contributor.

Friday, January 14, 2005

I've Been Taken to Task...Kinda 

Check this out.

This blogger decided to take my piece as though I were delivering the Sabermetrics manifesto, the be all end all to Sabermetrics when I was only trying to outline the very most basic tenets - that an individual's contribution to winning baseball can be extracted with reasonable accuracy.

My favorite quote of the piece is when he declares that Sabermetrics is "horribly flawed". It's funny because he is trying so hard to portray me as one of the unwashed masses late to the Sabermetric party that blindly accepts common misconceptions like that on-base is the only important stat in baseball. But given that Bill James has defined Sabermetrics as "the search for objective knowledge about baseball", I would love Julien to delve a little deeper than he/she took the time to in order to describe specifically how "the search for objective knowledge about baseball" is flawed.

Julien then goes into an entirely unsupported diatribe about the value of contact hitters and defense and how SABR overrates power hitting. Julien the mathemetician makes some sense here but he seems to forget two things: first, that he probably ought to provide some numbers to show that it would behoove one to eschew power hitting in favor of defense and contact hitting and second, that the team that struck out more than any team in the American League just won the World Series.

So go check Julien out. He's much smarter than you and not afraid to fall flat on his face trying to show it.

Say it Ain't So 

If the Mets sign Carlos Delgado and the following is their lineup and rotation…



…is there any way they won’t be really good?

I just don't see any way that team wins less than 85 games.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Thought This Was Funny 

Let me just preface this by saying that I generally enjoy Larry Mahnken's work. But I couldn't help but chuckle at this excerpt in his running item over at The Hardball Times, Rivals in Exile. Mahnken writes...

Still, I say the Yankees have the edge on Boston next year. I don't expect much of a drop-off from anyone next year except maybe a small net decrease at second (remember, Wilson played for much of the season). I expect A-Rod to be better, Giambi to be better, Tino to be an improvement on Clark and Olerud, Johnson to be a big improvement on Vazquez, Pavano to be no worse than Lieber, and Wright to be as good as or better than Loaiza and Contreras were. I expect Mussina to bounce back big, and Brown to bounce back a little. The bullpen is deeper, and should be fresher in October. I think they have a better team than they did last year, although with more risk. I think the Red Sox are about the same, with much less risk. Over the course of the season that should even out for a close race, but in October I don't think Schilling/Clement/Wells/Arroyo can match Johnson/Mussina/Pavano/whoever.

I thought I would try my own version.

Still, I say Boston has the edge on the Yankees next year. I don't expect much of a drop-off from anyone next year except maybe a small net decrease in center field (Damon had a huge year in 2004). I expect Renteria to improve the overall production at short, Nixon to be better, Payton to be an improvement over Kapler and Roberts, Wells to be a big upgrade over Lowe, Clement to be no worse than Pedro and Miller to be as good or better than what the Sox got from their back end last year. I expect Wakefield to bounce back big and Arroyo to improve a little. The bullpen is deeper, and should be fresher in October. I think they have a better team than they did last year though with less risk. I think the Yankees have spun the living hell out of their wheels and taken on more risk. Over the course of the season, I'd be surprised if the race were even close though it's possible. But in October, I don't think Johnson/Moose/Pavano can match up with Schilling/Miller/Clement/Wells/Arroyo/Wakefield.

Aren't assertions fun?

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Beltran and the Yankees... 

In the comments section, there has been some spirited debate lately, and a Reds fan, of all teams, posted something pretty salient. Enough so, that here it is:

In the first post of the section, from Jon: I also find it interesting that Yankee fans seem distressed that they didn't sign Beltran.

RobinRed's response:
Well, I have said this already on other blogs but:

2004 VORP:

Beltran 74
Williams 31

Beltran was worth 30.7 in 309 PA with KC--Williams was worth that in 651 PA.

Beltran is probably not a truly great hitter, but he:

--has a broad base of skills so is likely to age well
--is durable
--is in his prime
--plays a position the Yankees need filled
--is one of the greatest percentage base-stealers in baseball history

I think he would be worth 4-5 games to the Yankees, would make them tougher in the 2005 post-season, and would help them in the 2006-2011 window as well.

Not getting him was a major mistake by Steinbrenner and good news for Boston fans.

BIll James, writing about the late 80s Yankees, said the"early (and largely successful) Steinbrenner" strategy with FAs was to get the best guy available, regardless of need--like getting Gossage after Sparky Lyle had just won the Cy Young. Overpaying and over-committing to mediocre or inconsistent players based on perceived need is the way to make big mistakes on the market. I am not as convinced as some are the Wright and Pavano signings will not work out, since both guys are talented, but the Yankees are not loading the odds in their favor with them. The Red Sox, by contrast, have a slightly better and cheaper bet in Clement (as opposed to Pavano) and a much cheaper and somewhat better bet in Miller (as opposed to Wright).

I personally don't like using VORP for the whole stat ownership thing I talked about in a previous post, but I agree with red's central thought.

Good, great stuff.

Unit to the Bronx 

Well the Yanks got their man. Yesterday, The New York Yankees introduced their new ace, Randy Johnson, to the New York press. You know it's funny but I am decidedly at ease with the acquisition. No doubt Johnson is one of the best and he improves their pitching staff but when you consider the opportunity of cost of acquiring and extending Johnson, I am not sure that this wasn't really a best case scenario for Sox fans. Seems to me it was really a knee-jerk offseason for the Bombers. Alex Belth has an insightful post on the acquisition over at Bronx Banter. I would love to hear what folks here think about the Yanks' off-season.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Tuesday Links 

- We got a nice shout-out from David Pinto over at Baseball Musings. I have been reading David's blog for some time now and I credit him with a portion of the inspiration for my enhanced interest in performance analysis over the last few years. Thanks, David!

- Jay Jaffe has some exciting news that folks here will most definitely want to check out. Steven Goldman, Pinstriped Bible writer, has been editing a book to be released by Baseball Prospectus about how the Red Sox were able to win the World Series this year. Jay has contributed a couple of pieces to the book. Granted both are Yankee fans, but they are two of the very best scribes on the internet. Jay's Futility Infielder combines wonderful prose and rock-solid analysis while Goldman's clearly well-read and is quick with an historic metaphor. Jay has this to say about Goldman and I don't disagree with any of it;
Goldman is -- and I say this with as little hyperbole as I can muster, even with the fact that I count him as a personal friend -- quite possibly the best baseball writer in the country, at least among those who have sprung forth in the era of the Internet. No partisan hack or house organist, he's been able to carve out a niche writing a column that takes an objective eye to the Yanks, and done so on George Steinbrenner's nickel. As he consistently reminds irate Yankees fans whose butts chafe at his criticisms of sacred Yankee cows such as Derek and Tino and hoary baseball myths like the importance of RBIs and pitcher Wins in player evaluation, the PB is an argument about winning baseball. Those of you who come here to enjoy smart commentary, whatever your rooting interests, have much to gain not only by making the PB (Pinstriped Bible) a weekly stop, but by getting a daily dose via his blog.

Good luck, guys. You can bet I will be frequenting Goldman's new blog and purchasing a copy of the new book.

- This is just my first season of 24 but man am I hooked. What a fantastic show.

- To be perfectly clear, I think Surviving Grady is a fun site and any Red Sox fan would enjoy it. The guys clearly love the Sox and that's really what all this blogging is about - our love for the game and our team. I fear I may have come off a bit condescending in a few of my remarks but it is only because I feel as though anybody smart enough to put pen to paper as well as those guys do over there will, in time, see the SABR light. I consider my inability to expedite the process a personal failure, and an indication that I probably need to enhance my own understanding of some very basic principles.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Baseball and the Internet Conspiracy 

Both have conspired against me to insure that I never really get any work done.

Case in point: A discussion topic is thrown out there, and rather than do something like double check finances so we know money isn't missing, I create a trending chart.

For those of you who don't know, a trending chart is basically taking a value (could be anything from K's to weight), and expresses it over a period of time, using a line graph. I'm a big fan of them as they pertain to baseball. Baseball stats are just a form of accounting. If you can measure the accounting with any reliability, you can predict the future. It's fun really, especially if you call it your gut calling. "My gut tells me Bellhorn will put up an OBP of about 370 this year..." I made 10 bucks on that call.

I digress. Trending charts are useful in player to player comparisons. If you have two similar players, say Keith Hernandez and Mark Grace, and they have similar charts, you can make up "rules" along the lines of career length for high-OB%, ave-slug, good D first basemen.

Usually, with these charts, the value I use is actually from Clay Davenport. Normally, I hate using numbers I don't figure out myself, simply because I like the accountability that goes along with them. However, Davenport does two things that I haven't or are unable to do. The first is adjust his numbers for all time (park and era). The second is he has codified defensive numbers.

The best way to see these numbers is to go to Baseball Prospectus's web site (BPro), enter a player into the search bar, and click on DT cards.

To find the numbers I use, scroll down to Advanced Batting Statistics, look to the right where it says "Adjusted for all time" and use BRAR (batting runs above replacement) and FRAR (fielding runs above replacement). Add those two together and you get a raw run value. I like that because it puts all players on an even ground in which to judge. I use PRAR (figure it out) for pitching.

Why is this all relevant? Well I took two players that I wanted to compare over 4 years. Player A was a 27 year old rookie who is currently playing. Player B is a Hall of Famer. Here is their trending chart for their Age 27 to Age 30 seasons:

Now the astute among you might know who these two are. I won't reveal them yet.

Since this takes park/era/defensive prowess into account, you would have to assume that player B would be far and away the better hitter, and the more likely to have the longer career.


Because through his prime, B played at a higher level. They right now are being judged using the same (adjusted) criteria.

In other words, Ichiro isn't nearly the player Wade Boggs was.

This special type of accounting that people who love baseball use is an odd thing. The exact same number can be used to lionize and demonize the same player. Not only that, the numbers are conveniently ignored with respect to some factors, such as Boggs being called a "guy who only walks and singles" when he had legit power, something Ichiro hasn't shown in Major League Baseball yet.

Sometimes a picture is better than words.

Friday, January 07, 2005

The Earth is Flat Goddamit!! 

Man. When Dale and Neumy start talking about OPS and Peter Gammons touts the importance of On-Base percentage, I always think to myself that Sabermetrics has altogether infiltrated mainstream baseball fandom. But then I experience something like I did yesterday with the readers of Surviving Grady, a well written but light-on-analysis Red Sox blog. If I can give you an SAT-style analogy, Surviving Grady is to prose what Boston Dirt Dogs is to large headlines. If you’re convinced you already know everything about baseball, these sorts of sites are for you. I refuse to pick on such low hanging fruit but if you subscribe to and understand sabermetric principals to any degree whatsoever, go check out the debate I had yesterday over there to gain a new appreciation of just how far ahead of the average fan you are in your understanding of the game.

I played baseball up until the age of 20 at some pretty high levels. I was thought of as a coach-on-the-field type, a heads-up player that possessed a sort of innate understanding of the game. And so I bought into my reputation. I would have debates with my friends and adamantly stake out my position on a particular topic by evidencing intangibles or batting average or RBI’s. I fancied myself a baseball authority and after all, I had played over 500 baseball games in my life. Why not? The irony was that I didn’t have any real understanding of the game and after I read the The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, I began to realize that, like an 18 year old punk arriving at Basic Training, I needed to be entirely broken down so that I could build up again my understanding of the game – only this time I would gain an appropriate understanding. And so I read anything and everything I could get my hands on. SoSH, Baseball Primer, Baseball Musings, Baseball Prospectus, older Bill James, Rob Neyer, Pete Palmer and slowly, things started making sense. And when you actually take a second to stop and consider what the crux of Sabermetrics has been to date, it really is no more complex than this:

- Extensive research has shown that a team’s win-loss record correlates quite closely to its differential between runs scored and runs given up.
- Extensive research has also shown that certain offensive events can accurately predict the amount of runs a team has scored and conversely, the prevention of such offensive events can accurately predict how effectively a team prevents runs.
- Given this, you can apply these same formulas to individuals to predict how well they, individually, create runs.
- Because the run prevention side is truly a team effort, a combination if pitching and defense, boiling it down to individuals is a bit more complex.

Just equipping yourself with that much knowledge gets you a long way to understanding the game. It’s just so damn logical that I cannot believe how venomous some become when confronted with it. Now I am no mathematician and consider myself more of a Sabermetrics salesman than any sort of pioneer but this all makes sense to me and I can grasp it. You won’t find me blazing any new trails in the field but you can bet I will be analyzing the game itself through the application of what I have learned in the last couple of years.

It’s funny but I can’t think of another subject matter other than sports, and baseball in particular, in which so many are so convinced that they know so much. So if you read this site and I reference a stat that doesn’t make sense to you, ask in the comments section and I will clarify. If you disagree vehemently with a conclusion I draw and don’t understand how I arrived at it, ask. And if you have a deeper grasp of Sabermetric principles than I do (countless baseball fans do) and I stray somewhere, please point that out to me. I don’t ever want to stop learning.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

For A Good Time 

Check out the comments section for this post over at Surviving Grady. I am in the midst of taking on the fanboy sect of Red Sox Nation.

Millar or Minky 

While the Red Sox roster appears to be set, there does remain one item of business. You see, the Red Sox currently employ two good first baseman, a luxury to an extent but less so when you consider that neither has all that much interest in being a part-time player. While I am not a big chemistry guy, better to have people happy than not and more to the point, better to fetch value for a talented individual than have his abilities waste away in your dugout. So I’d like to take a look at Kevin Millar and Doug Mientkiewicz, determine which would be better to keep and which to trade. I am not going to entertain the possibility of landing Delgado, tantalizing though it may be.

Millar and Mientkiewicz are both good first basemen. On the whole, both perform at a level that sits comfortably above the league average and simultaneously well below the upper echelon of premiere first-base talent. In consideration of their respective salaries, Millar makes $250,000.00 less than Mientkiewicz but his contract would also come off the books for 2006. Mientkiewicz is signed through 2006. If you were to factor in money, you would give a slight nod to Millar. But Millar is also a year older than Mientkieicz and sports the classic quick-decline slugger body type. So with respect to age and durability, a slight edge goes to Mientkiewicz. The external factors don’t really give a clear edge to either player so let’s take a look at performance.

Three Year Splits
Millar: .292/.365/.484
Mientkiewicz: .268/.364/.401

WARP3 (Wins Above Replacement Player over 162 games) Totals since 2001:

2001: Millar – 5.4, Mientkiewicz – 7.6
2002: Millar – 5.3, Mientkiewicz – 4.5
2003: Millar – 5.5, Mientkiewicz – 6.4
2004: Millar – 5.3, Mientkiewicz – 0.7

I use WARP3 because it incorporates fielding ability, something that narrows by a long way the significant edge Millar holds when you consider hitting ability alone. There’s a lot to consider here. Off the bat it is clear that Millar is the better hitter, Mientkiewicz the better fielder. And it is also clear that Millar is a damn consistent ballplayer. He hits a bit each year and doesn’t kill your club in the field. Five wins is nothing to sneeze at, being able to pencil in five wins without blinking is phenomenal and paying $3.5 million for a virtually guaranteed five wins is a true luxury. But what of Mientkiewicz? Eliminate 2004 and he stacks up quite favorably to Millar. Should we put a lot of stock in his 2004, a year in which he battled injuries, was Pipped by rookie sensation Justin Morneau and played sparingly for the World Champs? I am not so sure.

I think the Red Sox’ decision is easy. Float both names out there, see what the market would yield for either player and pull the trigger on which player fetches better spoils, or in Arizona’s case, plunder.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Wade Boggs Elected to Cooperstown 

Wade Boggs will be enshrined in Cooperstown this summer, a fitting tribute to one of the best ball players ever to wear a Sox uniform. I have belabored Boggs' case in this space so no need to go into it further but just for kicks, take a look at his 1987 season; he batted .363/.461/.588 for an OPS+ of 173 and an RC27 of 10.78. And he was a pretty good third baseman!

That's all I got at the moment though I plan to be back soon with Millar-Mientkiewicz analysis. In the interim, my girlfriend Johanna (a Cubs and Ryne Sandberg fan) and I have a trip to Cooperstown to plan.