Hey now — new Big Board. First one in nearly two months, I believe.
You know the drill… if something doesn’t look right, drop me a line. With the exception of a few guys who were specifically optioned to different levels (Greg Dobbs to AA, Ramon Santiago to AAA, etc.), I haven’t done any guessing as to which players will be where in the minors, even though it’s pretty obvious Travis Blackley won’t be repeating AA. So don’t email me about that sort of thing. But anything else, feel free.
Ahhhhhhhhhh… when I flew back into town early, early this morning (I think I spent 11-12 hours in transit getting back to town yesterday) my plane came right in over Safeco Field and I realized there would be baseball on today.
One thing I didn’t get to because I was out — Bavasi said he didn’t see what good statistical analysis did below the major league level. I imagine him shrugging while he says it, with a “what are you going to do?” expression. Minor league statistics for baseball players are outstanding indicators of a player’s talent and predictors of their future performance at higher levels. They have been since Bill James first looked at the issue, and they have remained ever since. There are very few players who have productive major league careers that you can’t look up minor league stats and find good lines there, too. There are very few players who have stellar minor league careers and flame out entirely (for reasons other than injury) — and in the latter case, scouting can tell you the reason (smart pitchers with decent control and stuff can often get A-level hitters to chase balls, racking up the Ks, but stall at higher levels).
But that Bavasi doesn’t know what minor league numbers can tell him? I… I don’t know what to say. It’s disappointing, for certain, and definately means that they’re not going to be able to run with state-of-the-art clubs like Oakland, etc, who employ minor league translations to find players who are doing well and masked by park effects, and try and get those players as toss-ins in trades… and it’s also a sign one of the reason the team’s going to continue to sign expensive veteran players over products of their own farm system is that they look at a player like Aurilia and see guaranteed production based on a long major-league career, and an equally-talented minor league player will be viewed as a risk because the team has no way to predict that player’s future production beyond licking their thumb and trying to gauge which way the wind is blowing.
Onwards, though —
AL West W L Pct GB RF RA #DIV #WC
Oakland 92 70 .568 - 791 672 56.3 1.5
Seattle 87 75 .537 5 768 720 25.8 2.5
Anaheim 86 76 .531 6 758 700 16.8 6.5
Texas 72 90 .444 20 789 890 1.0
The M’s and Oakland are right about where PECOTA (BP’s prediction engine) had them, but Anaheim comes up a couple games ahead of others.
Which is to say — don’t give up hope. I could be dead-on right about everything I see wrong with the team and there’s still a better than 1-in-4 chance they’ll make the playoffs. We can predict and carp all we want, but this is why we play the games.
Here’s my in-a-nutshell prediction for the team as we head into the season: This is a 85-win team that can swing 5 games either way through your normal in-season luck, and could beat Oakland, who is clearly doesn’t look like a 100+ win team right now. But I don’t think any contending team is better poised for a total, utter collapse than the Mariners: this looks like a team that can win 90 if things break their way and might be scraping for 75 if they go break the other way.
Hey all, I’m in Portland for the BP 2004 North American tour Wednesday:
Barnes & Noble @ 7:30 PM
1720 N Jantzen Beach
Portland, OR 97217
I’d love to meet our Portland readers, and there’s free pizza.
It seems the popular sentiment is that the Indians gave Milton Bradley to the Dodgers on the cheap, including a comment by Steve Nelson equating what the Indians received for him to what the Mariners gave up for Jolbert Cabrera. Steve’s a smart guy, but in this case, he’s not on target. Looper and Ketchner, as discussed below, are fringe prospects. Gutierrez is an upper-tier prospect, similar to Clint Nageotte, in the high-risk, high-reward category. He put up ridiculous power numbers for a 20-year-old in the toughest hitters league in minor league baseball, has showed improved plate discipline, and is athletic enough to be an excellent defensive corner outfielder. Depending on who the player to be named later is, and Mark Shapiro claims it will be “a very good prospect”, the Dodgers likely gave up a better package than if we had offered Nageotte for Bradley. The Indians likely would have been more interested in an arm than an outfielder, of which they have plenty, but getting Gutierrez is a far superior return than Looper or Ketchner. The Indians made a solid move, considering their situation, and I can’t fault Bavasi for not matching the deal the Dodgers made.