Sunday, August 29, 2010

Where for art thou Carlos Gomez?

Looking at today's starting lineup and I see Dickerson and Inglett in the starting lineup. I assume this is to get more left handed bats into the lineup, but's Charlie Morton. The splits are somewhat different but it's kind of meaningless when both righties (.908 OPS) and lefties (1.093) absolutely mash against the guy.

I had no internet or cell service in Yosemite this past week so I didn't catch any of the games til yesterday. Has Carlos Gomez gotten any at-bats since returning to the team? It looks like he has most certainly not started at all. Lorenzo Cain is obviously proving himself the starting center fielder of the future and Dickerson is a better 4th option since he has some offensive potential.

So, where does this put Gomez? I'd like to think that Melvin will be able to move Gomez for a bullpen arm as the team rebuilds the entire staff (yet again...) but I'm not hopeful.

For those that think I was too harsh in ridiculing Gomez's incredibly limited intelligence...well.

As for my trip, it was amazing, thank you for asking.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Just A Reminder

Even thought the Packers looked fantastic last night, I thought this would be a good time to remind everyone that pre-season games don't mean much of anything, and that everyone should keep their expectations in check.

While I think this team has the potential to be elite, and somewhere in the neighborhood of 12-4, they also have a much tougher schedule than last year* and I can easily imagine them going 8-8 (or worse) and missing the playoffs. And if that happens it's entirely possible that they are still a good team.

*I've told this to a lot of people and I invariably get back a response to the effect of "How do you know? The NFL is really unpredictable and while this looks like a tough schedule now it may not by the end of the season."

It's true that this schedule may not be as tough as I think it will be, but I feel like people are ignoring last year's schedule, and we do know concretely that that was a truly simple schedule. Perhaps the schedule this year will not be "difficult", but it is hard to imagine a schedule including the Jets, Patriots, Giants, Falcons, Cowboys, Eagles and Redskins will be as putrid as a schedule that included St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Cleveland, and Seattle. (And a resting Arizona Cardinals team.) Detroit will also almost certainly be better (as they say, you can't fall off the floor). So Buffalo is terrible, and maybe the 49ers will regress since Alex Smith is still awful, and maybe the Falcons aren't as good as people think, and maybe either Kevin Kolb or Donovan McNabb struggles, and maybe Chad Henne kills Miami, and Maybe Revis misses the first 8 games.

These things are all possible, but while there was very little chance of St. Louis or Cleveland or Seattle or Tampa Bay (even though they won, they were still terrible) putting together a decent team, there is a good chance the several of the 2010 group will.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Why Defense in Baseball Might Be Overrated

I say “might” because a lot of the people behind stats like UZR and FRAA and whatnot are very good at math and have put far more thought into this than I did driving to work this morning. Defense is a hot topic, and quite a few smart GMs (including Theo Epstein) have made defense a point of emphasis this year in their player acquisitions. This does not seem to be working. Seattle has basically been destroyed by focusing on defense to the detriment of offense. I’ve always been offensively-minded and I enjoy watching players like Adam Dunn and Russell Branyan, which is the mindset that these GMs were trying to cash in on, I suppose. That said, it seems to me that there is a good argument to be made that defense really is far less important than offense. There may be obvious holes in a few of these points (and feel free to point them out), but they seem to make sense to me.

1. The Zero Bound

You cannot hold a team to fewer than 0 runs. Think about a team made up of average pitchers, 5 Ozzie Smiths (assuming that Ozzie would be brilliant defensively at every position. And let’s leave catcher out of this for now.) and 4 average defenders. Say Ozzie plays 3rd, SS, 2b, CF, and RF, and Mr. Average plays 1st, LF, Catcher, and DH (say we’re in the AL). Already this is a brilliant defensive team. Ozzie in center will cover for most of the deficiencies of the LF, and 1B just isn’t that important a position to defend. Maybe this team gives up 2 runs a game where your normal defensive team gives up 3. Maybe a bit better than that, and maybe a bit worse. Now add another Ozzie. Put him in LF.

How much better did you make the team? The CF Ozzie was already helping Mr. Average LF a lot. Most of the field was covered by brilliant defenders. Most bloop hits were caught. Most plays deep in the hole were being made. Now add another Ozzie at 1st base. How this arguably helps even less. On defense, I would argue that except for catcher each additional investment you make helps you less and less. You are in a situation where you are realizing diminishing returns.

Now take a team of 5 Albert Pujols and 4 average batters. So far this year Albert has been worth about .456 runs per game better than a replacement level player. Average does not equal replacement level, but let’s assume that the replacement level 1st baseman (which is Albert’s baseline when calculating his VORP) is about the same as the average player in general. This may not be true, but let’s go with it. If we sub in another Albert for one of the average batters, we add another .456 runs per game. The Alberts do not cannibalize each other. In fact, by creating fewer outs they may actually help each other slightly. In short, adding offense does not have the same problem of diminishing returns as adding defense. You get more bang for your buck.

2. Balls in Play.

Defense is only effective on balls in play. Over the course of a game of baseball it is entirely possible that very few balls will actually enter a defensible part of the field. There will be home runs, walks, strike-outs, hit batsmen, and the occasional balk. In any given game the defense is probably involved in about half of all plays in any serious way. I think there have even been a few games in history where the only plays in the field were taken by the first baseman, unassisted.

3. Even when the ball is in play, most plays are routine.

Lazy flyballs are easy for almost everyone, and make up a large percentage of flyballs. Sharp line drives are usually hits, and are not catchable by almost anyone. Many grounders are soft, and right at players. Sometimes players his harmless pop flies.

4. Not every ballpark is conducive to great defense.

If you play in Fenway, there is no point in paying your LF for his defense. If you pay your LF for his defense and then play a road game in Fenway, you are at a disadvantage. Albert Pujols’ bat plays anywhere.

5. Defensive metrics are still more of an art than a science.

In short, even though great defense will only have an impact on a small number of plays per game, we’re still not that good at measuring that impact. We’re better than we used to be, and at least we understand the concept that being able to get to a ball and possibly committing an error is better (or at least about the same) as not being able to get to a ball and allowing a “hit”. But we still don’t have that one good defensive number.

I think this is right. I think offense is far and away the more valuable commodity and that a smart GM will wedge good hitters into whatever position he can if their bat is good enough. I think the focus on defense is especially ill-conceived for a big money team like the Red Sox who should be spending their money on guys who can hit. And I think Seattle might be bad for a long time.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fangraphs Likes The Edmonds Trade


Overall, this wasn’t that poor of a trade for either team, although Cincinnati may have slightly overpaid for an outfielder who could see serious regression while giving up a much younger outfielder who could be useful in the future, maybe even now. They’re clearly going all out in the NL Central race, which they should, but I wonder if this move was necessary for them, or if the asking price for Edmonds was really as high as Dickerson. Milwaukee comes away with a big plus, acquiring a solid outfielder just because they offered a Spring Training invite to an older outfielder who hadn’t played pro ball in over a year.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Brewers Sell High On Edmonds

He is now a member of the Cincinnati Reds.

The Brewers got some guy named Chris Dickerson for him.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Framing a holdout

It's all about public relations and perception. Favre is apparently absolutely brilliant at playing the PR game. Favre on Javon Walker's hold out in 2005:

“If Javon wants to know what he quarterback thinks, and I would think he might, I’d tell him he’s going about this the wrong way,” Favre told the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “When his agent tells him not to worry about what his teammates think and all that stuff, I’d tell him I’ve been around a long time and that stuff will come back to haunt you.”

Apparently by "going about it the wrong way" Favre meant Walker should have pretended to be injured and leverage an impending retirement and atrocious back-ups to get more money, instead of being honest and saying "I am worth more than you are paying me."

Of course, Walker didn't have friends like Mariucci and Peter King to cover for his every move. JFK could only dream of this kind of media protection.

Terrell Owens nails it: How come Favre isn't a attention whore but we get hell for having fun but he makes a spectacle about coming back its cool? Wtf ..... Child Please!

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Role Of Luck

Nice post by Tangotiger today.

Old Hoss on Corey

From OldHossRadbourn:

Brewers sign C. Hart to an extension, making him the first Neandertal to be so rewarded. He can finally afford a new atlatl and flint tools.

Extending Corey Hart?

This weekend the Brewers played one of the five most depressing baseball series I’ve ever seen. Faced with a Houston club that just traded away their two best players and who had every incentive to throw in the towel, the Brewers managed to score only 2 runs. They saw their own pitching staff get lit up. They saw Carlos Gomez continue to prove that he is the dumbest person in the world.

And to top it all off they gave a 3 year contract extension to Corey Hart. On the surface it doesn’t look too terrible. Hart is playing well and his new deal allegedly pays him about $8.5 million per season.

Well, it is terrible. First of all, you never want to buy high, you want to sell high. The Brewers bought high on Hart. This season is built largely on an unsustainable HR/FB ration (see Jim Breen’s analysis) and Hart is likely to decline back into average (or worse) production from here on out.

But even if he doesn’t, it’s still a terrible deal. The Brewers first and foremost need pitching, and Hart could have brought you pitching if not now, then in the offseason. Moreover, this move sets the Brewer corner outfield positions in stone for 3 years. You have a prospect in Mat Gamel who is going to need one of those corner slots to play in the majors as it looks like there is no chance he can hold down 3rd base at any level. Therefore, this move doesn’t just remove Hart as potential trade bait; it also indirectly hurts Gamel’s trade value by blocking him from the big club.

Hart is a decent enough player. His OPS+ is generally 100 or better and at 28 he is certainly not over the hill, but the Brewers are in desperate need of pitching prospects. Medium-talent players (like Hart) having career years are the perfect trade deadline tools, and choosing to not only not trade him, but also to extend him, hurts the team in the long run.