Forging Genius

November 30, 2005 · Filed Under General baseball · 6 Comments 

Forging Genius (affiliate link) is the story of how Casey Stengel grew into being a great manager. Steve Goldman writes the Pinstriped Bible column and blog for the Yes Network’s website, and also writes for Baseball Prospectus.

It’s an enjoyable read, and I recommend it. Goldman’s done an outstanding job researching and writing the book, and it’s entertaining and enlightening. There are funny Stengel anecdotes, but what really comes across is how smart Stengel was beyond that sense of humor, and how even when he was losings and losing badly he was picking up things that might serve him later.
Read more

Today’s insane market news

November 30, 2005 · Filed Under General baseball · 137 Comments 

Konerko stays with the White Sox with a 5 year, $60m deal. This is crazy. And some of the stories floating around would have you believe that there was a 6 year deal from another team on the table.

Also, some reliever guy got some huge contract.

If Konerko gets 5/60, Giles… well, he’s not going to be a Mariner, folks.

Update! Giles re-signs with San Diego, reportedly for 3 years at $30 million. Compared even to Konerko’s deal, that’s low. Wow.

BP book event

November 29, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 22 Comments 

Tired of waiting for that stove to re-heat? Well, fire that bad boy up with a joint Baseball Prospectus/USSM event to herald the release of Mind Game. The ever-suave Jonah Keri will be in attendance to preview BP 2006, and so will I.

Regardless of what that announcement says, there will be no regaling, and Evil Rick is almost guaranteed not to appear. But we’re chasing other special guests. Perhaps even as special as the guest Derek and I have planned for next year’s USSM gathering.

Join us, won’t you?

Sat. Dec. 17, 6:30 pm
Third Place Books
Lake Forest Park Towne Centre
17171 Bothell Way NE
Lake Forest Park, WA 98155
Tel: 206-366-3333

The Market and Guardado

November 29, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 79 Comments 

Match the relievers to the contracts!

Player A: 77.2 IP, 1.51 ERA, 87 K, 20 BB
Player B: 70.1 IP, 2.43 ERA, 100K, 26 BB
Player C: 56.1 IP, 2.72 ERA, 48K, 15 BB
Player D: 68.1 IP, 2.63 ERA, 65K, 26BB
Player E: 73 IP, 2.47 ERA, 48K, 16BB
(not adjusted for home park)

1 year, $6.5m
4 years, $43m
3 years, $11m
3 years, $12m
5 years, $47m

And it’s not as if those guys all had perfect health records, either.

I wonder if all the time Eddie was complaining about the team not calling him there were two M’s front office people arguing in a conference room (“There’s no way he doesn’t pick up the player option!” “There’s no way he does!” “No way we can trade him at six-and-a-half!” “Of course we can!”) until finally someone broke the news that $2m wasn’t all that much money in the grand scheme of Mariner roster construction, and their attention was needed to come up with Plans B-ZZ for building the rotation.

Loaiza to the A’s

November 28, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 176 Comments 

You can cross one part of my offseason plan off the list. The A’s today signed Esteban Loaiza to a 3 year deal with a team option for a fourth believed to be worth $21 million guaranteed with possible total value of $30 million.

I suggested signing Loaiza for 3 years, $18 million, and that’s pretty darn close to what he got. I definitely would have gone 3/21, and it’s a very good signing for the A’s. I have to believe this means Barry Zito is going to be traded, meaning Beane decided he’d rather have Loaiza and what he gets for Zito for the same price as he could have kept Barry. And, considering that the market for Zito is going to be absurd, I think he’s absolutely right.

Yet another good move by the A’s. Shocking, I know.

Run Values

November 28, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 44 Comments 

I got my copy (okay, copies, since I’m a geek who plans on giving out a couple to friends…) of the Hardball Times 2006 Annual today. I’ve mentioned before that I have an article in the book, so there’s little objectivity involved when I tell you to buy one. Actually, buy more than one. Buy as many as you’d like.

But, don’t worry, this isn’t just a plug, though it obviously is that too. I’ve only had a chance to read a couple of the articles so far, and because I’m fascinated by the batted ball data that they provide, I jumped right into one of the articles by Dave Studenmund called “What’s a Batted Ball Worth?” Since they purchase exclusive batted ball type data from Baseball Info Solutions, they have some really interesting numbers that you can’t get anywhere else. And this article is full of those types of numbers.

There’s one table in particular that jumped out at me, and I think it illustrates pretty well why we believe some of the things that we do and are often questioned about. Below are the average run values for each type of possible outcome.

Line Drive: .356
Hit By Pitch: .342
Non-Intentional Walk: .315
Intentional Walk: .176
Outfield Fly: .035
Groundball: -.101
Bunts: -.103
Infield Fly: -.243
Strikeout: -.287

This is particularly of interest as it relates to pitchers. Strikeouts are clearly the best outcome they can hope for in an average at-bat, though obviously, there are circumstances where a ground ball (which could lead to a double play) would be more beneficial. Walks are abysmal for pitchers. Inducing a groundball is better than giving up a flyball, even though the flyball has more chancees of being caught.

So, looking at the run value chart, the ideal pitcher would be a extreme groundballer who also strikes out a lot of batters and gives up almost no line drives while limiting his walks. Like, say, King Felix.

Just for fun, I took the percentage outcomes for these four outcomes and created a quick and dirty formula to create one “effective percentage”. (GB%+K%)-(LD%+BB%). Basically, how many more groundballs and strikeouts do they get on a per-batter ratio then they give up in walks and line drives. Here’s the list of the top 40, using a minimum of 300 batters faced, and I’ve highlited some of the names of interest to M’s fans:

Hernandez F.	52%
Halladay R.	47%
Rivera M.	47%
Lowe D.	46%
Webb B.	45%
Westbrook J.	42%
Williams T.	42%
Wang C.	42%
Carpenter C.	41%
Gordon T.	41%
Shields S.	39%
Burnett A.	39%
Cook A.	38%
Loe K.	38%
Santana J.	37%
Johnson R.	36%
Duchscherer 	36%
Qualls C.	36%
Mulder M.	36%
Reitsma C.	35%
Peavy J.	35%
Clemens R.	35%
Pettitte A.	35%
Silva C.	34%
Hudson T.	33%
Maddux G.	33%
Oswalt R.	33%
Street H.	33%
Rincon J.	33%
Martinez P.	33%
Dempster R.	32%
Sabathia C.	32%
Johnson J.	32%
Colon B.	32%
Haren D.	32%
Pavano C.	32%
Frasor J.	32%
Mussina M.	32%
Wells D.	31%

By evaluating batted ball type rather than outcome, we’re evaluating more what the pitcher could control and less what is influenced by his fielders. I’m not offering this as anything other than a fun toy, but I do think the list is interesting, if nothing else.

Today’s red-hot Mariner rumor

November 28, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 60 Comments 

There isn’t one. Slow period for baseball news, yup.

More Johjima stats

November 25, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 33 Comments 

BP’s latest Prospectus Notebook has a bit on Kenji Johjima, and includes this long-awaited tidbit:

Johjima 2000-2005 Translated Statistics with Fukuoka

2000 311 6 83.3 293/351/428 .272 43
2001 551 13 75.0 256/288/361 .226 50
2002 438 12 72.7 286/351/411 .265 57
2003 561 13 72.7 296/367/430 .277 80
2004 436 15 71.4 300/381/459 .289 69
2005 424 11 42.9 290/350/439 .272 59

A projection based on his three-year average production would be .295/.366/.442, which is a lot different than the .300/.340/.500 I came up with using a harsher version of Clay’s older estimations of NPB strength in a post last week. It looks like in the intervening years, Clay’s revised the translations again to try and project the difference in power numbers based on what we’ve seen from 2002 through last season.

Even if you knock it down for age and his new home park, that still would make a great line to get from our catcher, and if he really is as advertised defensively, all the better.

Jeff Manto, hitting coach

November 25, 2005 · Filed Under General baseball · 26 Comments 

Being a great hitter doesn’t always help a player become a great coach. It may even be a liability. The Mariners have run through a series of hitting coaches lately, and none seem to have done the team any good, and few seem to have done any player any good.

Paul Molitor’s in the Hall of Fame, he was here for a year and then left.
Don Baylor had over 2,000 hits and some great years as a hitter. He got a year, too.

Pentland, who replaced them, has no major league experience but is highly regarded for his work as a hitting coach. So major league success isn’t a requirement for being a hitting or pitching coach, but it certainly does get players to listen, while at least in that way, coaches without credentials have to work harder to establish that they can offer something to a player.

Which brings me to Jeff Manto, who by the hand of fate, was hired as the Pirates hitting coach.

Manto was a Mariner in 1996 and played in 21 games as part of his long, seemingly random career. He played here and in Japan, in many different organizations, he hit well, and really badly, and in the later part of his career he hung around Buffalo, playing for the Indians’ AAA team, knocking the snot out of the ball, sometimes getting a couple at-bats for a major league team, and sometimes just wowing International League fans.

As a player, he’s an anti-Molitor, almost: a long career (1985-2000), but with most of his playing time in the minors, often a spare part when he was carried on a roster at all.

It’ll be intersting to see if Pentland can get any better results than the hitting stars the M’s have had lately, and if Manto, as a hitting coach with a different background than either Pentland or Molitor and Baylor, can find success with the Pirates.

Johjima interview

November 24, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 38 Comments 

For your Turkey Day enjoyment, the Mariners MLB site features a translated Johjima interview.

Next Page »