Tuesday news: no news for Tuesday

January 23, 2007 · Filed Under General baseball · 18 Comments 


Weekend news, recapped

January 21, 2007 · Filed Under General baseball, Mariners · 45 Comments 

Chase Utley gets a seven-year, $85m deal from the Phillies. Even if we don’t see salaries continue to grow at the current rate, that’s got a pretty good chance to end up an excellent deal for Philadelphia. As usual, the last years might not look so hot, but they may well get the full contract value in the first four/five seasons and the rest is gravy.
Rockies are reportedly close to signing Brian Lawrence
Reds close to signing Guardado to a minor league deal(mlb)
Vern Ruhle died.

Adam Jones’ comparable players

January 19, 2007 · Filed Under Mariners · 42 Comments 

It’s been interesting this winter to see what comes out of the different projection systems. ZIPS, PECOTA, I check them all out because even when I think they’re way off, the way they look at the problem provides a new starting point to think about the player. If I don’t think Jones is well represented by a system, it’s worth considering why, and examining my reasons for thinking my prediction’s better than a fairly good system.

Take Adam Jones. ZIPS thought he was all potential (“all upside”). PECOTA sees the same things, it seems. The card is so weird when it came out I told Dave “I don’t even know where to start talking about this”.

So, to his comparable player list, which illustrates this: it’s the weirdest bunch of player-years ever.

The top two are Elijah Dukes 2006 and Brandon Phillps’ 2003. Carlos Beltran’s 1999 is between Chet Lemon’s 1977 and Rocco Baldelli’s 2003 (which is ahead of Sammy Sosa’s 1990). Jim Fergosi’s 1964 is #12, and Ruben Mateo’s 2000 is #16. #20 is Carney Lansford.

It’s legitimately crazy. And if I really disagree, I think the picture it comes out with is a little skewed. It feels like if Jones puts his game together, he’ll be really good, and if he doesn’t, he won’t be hitting enough to be a regular. I don’t see the middle road in his future.

I’m a fan, and I have faith, but I also acknowledge that when BA writes him up with the concerns for why he might not develop, those concerns are entirely valid, and if he doesn’t turn into what I hope we get to see, that’ll be why.

But if anyone finds a stranger list of comparable players, I’d love to hear about it.

Brian Lawrence probably won’t matter

January 18, 2007 · Filed Under Mariners · 53 Comments 

Whether or not he signs here. Really.

He had shoulder surgery and didn’t pitch last year.
Almost no one comes back from shoulder surgery to retain their former glory.
Fewer still return to be that effective the year after a layoff.
The glory of Brian Lawrence was the perfectly good 2002 in San Diego where he went 12-12, threw 210 innings, didn’t give up many home runs, and put up a pretty nice K and walk numbers. From 2003-2004, he was pretty much the same low-walk, low-K every year, even though his W-L bounced around a lot.

If you get the perfectly healthy and rehabilitated Lawrence-in-decline, he’s overwhelmingly likely to be a below-average starter in the same general vein that Batista/Ramirez are. Healthy, he’d be an upgrade over the current candidates for the 5th starter slot… but probably not.

Of course, standard caveats apply: I’m not a doctor, I haven’t looked in his shoulder, I don’t know how he’s throwing, and so on and so forth. But the odds that he’ll be a significant contributor to any team next year are pretty slim.

Thursday’s news, the Putz deal

January 18, 2007 · Filed Under Mariners · 57 Comments 

This ended up going into yesterday’s Q & A bucket after I collapsed from exhaustion, but the big news is that JJ Putz got a three-year, $13m deal. It’s a good move in a couple of ways: as Dave’s noted, the bullpen’s been getting a lot shakier through this off-season, and it really does help to have someone who can get some outs on the staff. I don’t agree that if you have that guy you only pitch him in the ninth when you’re up 1-3 runs, obviously, but the M’s have the money and the stability gets them somewhere.

The problem I see, though, is that Putz is unlikely to repeat the performance we saw last year. I’m not trying to say that he’s not good, or that his late-blooming development isn’t for real, but sustaining that kind of performance is extremely difficult, and next year, when he’s just really good instead of crazy good, I wonder if we’re going to see people ragging on him for sucking it up once he got the money. That’d be sad.

Money-value wise, as much as I hate to make this kind of rough comparison, look at what the Orioles were paying for relievers this year. Putz at this price, even if you’d agree with us that closers aren’t all that hard to find and make, is still undervalued to a lot of teams, and you could move him if you had to.

I know, that’s not an amazing endorsement, and I’m mixing some pretty lame analysis, but in my defense, I’m a little swamped with work and I really want to sneak off and go skiing.

The USSM QnA for 1/17

January 17, 2007 · Filed Under Mariners · 82 Comments 

A really long set of answers to the questions in 44 comments.
Read more

Advance praise for Cheater’s Guide to Baseball

“Derek Zumsteg should be ashamed to have such comprehensive knowledge of the history of cheating in baseball. Pete Rose gave me two to one odds this book would become a classic.” — Allen Barra, bestselling author of The Last Coach: A Life of Paul “Bear” Bryant

Pre-order now, folks. Your purchase supports me writing for USSM.

The Cheater’s Guide to Baseball

Only $11 – a bargain at twice the price.

USSM Q&A Q collection thread

January 16, 2007 · Filed Under General baseball, Mariners, Site information · 44 Comments 

and not the Q from Star Trek.

I got a lot of positive comments and emails from the last Q&A we did two weeks ago, so I thought we might give this another shot. I don’t know if two weeks between these in the off-season is too frequent, but we’re tinkering, and if it sucks, hey, everyone gets the day’s subscription fees back.

So toss your question in the comments and I’ll run through answer them tomorrow.

2007 PECOTAs are out

January 16, 2007 · Filed Under General baseball, Mariners · 46 Comments 

PECOTA forecasts are out! Sort of. Not the cards, which are the coolest part and aren’t due for another month (on the PECOTA download page) or tomorrow (Nate’s post)

Short version: doesn’t like Ichiro, but never does, doesn’t like Lopez, Guillen, Betancourt, and Vidro’s projection is pretty ugly. But the rest of the infield, including Johjima, gets good reviews.

It’s subscriber-only, so I’m not going to just print the lines here, but it’s interesting stuff. Go check it out if you’re already handing BP money.

Marlins reportedly close to stadium deal, Tuesday’s minor transactions

January 16, 2007 · Filed Under General baseball · 28 Comments 

Crede gets a deal
Endy Chavez gets a raise
Dontrelle Willis gets some money
M’s agree to a one-year deal with Broussard to avoid arbitration
Greg Dobbs claimed off waivers by the Phillies

Most interesting to me are reports that the Marlins may be able to get a new stadium. They want a ridiculous $500m retractable-roof monstrosity, which… whatever. It appears the new governor’s bought into spending money, on the economic benefit canard, and they’re going to get more from city and local sources.

First, the Marlins really do have a horrible lease, and a bad stadium, and they’ve been one of the few teams that could complain about how badly their home hurt them. Sure, their ownership group sucked, but no rational businessman’s going to spend a ton of money when your potential returns are capped extremely low. Of course, no rational businessman would voluntarily get into that situation, especially if the previous guys spent the off-season going around burning bridges. But anyway.

Getting the Marlins into a nice stadium is good for the team and it’s good for baseball’s larger economic healthy. Having crippled franchises in a world where such a heavy amount of revenue is shared helps no one.

The second thing, though, is that MLB won another stadium using exactly the same tactics they used to get the rest of the last wave. They kicked and screamed and threatened, and finally someone caved. That’s not news, right? It is. MLB has, in their not-secret but not-generally-talked-about fund, a colossal sum of money. Selig could have written a check for a new Marlins stadium. Or they could have loaned the money to the Marlins, or financed it themselves.

Now, I understand why they might not have wanted to do those things, especially when they could threaten local governments. But they didn’t have to do that. The reason the Marlins are in such a financial bind is, to simplify too much, all their stadium money goes right to their former owner.

MLB let that go on for years. They didn’t threaten to build a new stadium, or buy the Marlins out of their lease, in order to help renegotiate the lease. They let the team gush money to him for years because it helped make the Marlins more pathetic, and that helped them get public money.

It worked.

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