Monday, January 31, 2005

Cubs and Orioles lineups

In support of Nick's post, here are the numbers:

2004 Roster
CMichael Barrett50631.0
1BDerrek Lee68843.3
2BTodd Walker42425.0
3BAramis Ramirez60659.6
SSRamon Martinez2981.5
RFSammy Sosa53927.9
CFCorey Patterson68727.9
LFMoises Alou67551.5

2005 Roster
CMichael Barrett35011.6
1BDerrek Lee57037.4
2BTodd Walker37817.7
3BAramis Ramirez56725.9
SSNomar Garciaparra50438.8
RFJerry Hairston32712.8
CFCorey Patterson55526.2
LFTodd Hollandsworth1979.3
LF2Jason Dubois23513.2

There's a considerable playing time difference, which I've partially offset by including a shared job at LF. Still, there are a lot of fragile players in there, and someone's going to have to pick up a lot of PA's. Looking at the roster, there's not a lot of hope there, which isn't too shocking when your starting corner outfielders are Hollandsworth and Hairston. Sorting by projected VORP, the next 3 guys are prospects that I've never heard of, Richard Lewis, Kevin Collins, and Brandon Sing, and the guy after that is Ben Grieve. Ouch. I think we'll all agree that committing 5 years to Magglio would be a ridiculous risk, but they need some help. If I were Jim Hendry I'd seriously consider putting together a ridiculously lucrative one year offer to Magglio and see if he wants to go the Nomar route and prove he's alright before testing the market again.

So how do the Orioles fare?
2004 Roster
CJavy Lopez63856.3
1BRafael Palmeiro65126.4
2BBrian Roberts73622.2
3BMelvin Mora63673.6
SSMiguel Tejada72573.0
RFJay Gibbons380-1.7
CFLuis Matos359-8.1
LFLarry Bigbie53114.8
DHDavid Newhan41224.5

2005 Roster
CJavy Lopez49631.9
1BRafael Palmeiro50321.7
2BBrian Roberts58919.4
3BMelvin Mora52239.2
SSMiguel Tejada64750.6
RFSammy Sosa44025.3
CFLuis Matos42713.2
LFLarry Bigbie47212.8
DHDavid Newhan46014.4

The trade helps, but does it help enough? PECOTA doesn't seem to think so. For a pretty stable roster, there's a lot of decline going on. I suppose that's to be expected when last year's crop of free agent signings all had great year's and are past the traditional peak and/or require medication to get erections. On the bright side, Luis Matos was horrendous last year, so they can hope for some improvement with him.

Slamming Sammy and the Rediculous Deals.

Obviously one of the bigger baseball stories right now is the impending trade of Sammy Sosa to the Orioles. The Cubs would get back Jerry Hairston, Jr. and a couple of borderline minor leaguers. Sosa abandons his team and disrespects not only the Cubs, but an entire city. Now they have to turn around and unload his big name and declining skills for pennies on the dollar. If I had to guess, I would say Hairston takes over as the Cubs right fielder, considering that Todd Walker's Iron Skillet Mitt is firmly entrenched at second (lord knows you don't want him playing any other positions). Hairston had a decent season last year, despite being injured and the emergence of Brian Roberts. The injuries are a bit of a question mark (he's only played over 150 games once in 6 seasons ) but he's still relatively young. If he puts it together in his “prime” years, he could be an alright leadoff/number 2 hitter. A potential lineup:

CF Corey Patterson
RF Jerry Hairston
SS Nomar
1B Derrek Lee
3B Aramis Rameriez
2B Todd Walker
LF ????
C Michael Barrett
P Whatever black hole takes the mound that day.

Seems a little underwhelming, but I'll let Colin's eventual mathmatical breakdown of the roster prove or disprove the validity of that statement. At inital glace though, I would argue that the loss of Alou will hurt the Cubs more than replacing Sosa with Hairston. As a Cubs fan would you feel comfortable with him hypothetically taking Sammy's place? I would, if only because Sammy shouldn't be getting by on his rep anymore. The guy has been in a steady decline over the past three years (I know you love the VORP, so here's some evidence: 2001 - 125.4, 2002 - 69.5, 2003 - 42.1). I would even go so far as to say that Kevin Millar was more valuable than Sosa last year, albeit while playing 25 more games. Wicked awesome home run hops aside, would you want .383/.474/.857 at $3.3m or .332/.517/.849 at $16.9m? (Look numbers!) That's not even taking into account that Millar was shit until just about the all-star break. All things being equal, he opens his stance up earlier and I think the case of Millar over Sosa last year becomes even more cut and dry.

To me, the Orioles make this move because it’s a big name move and they really haven’t done much else this offseason. They lose out on Delgado so they go get what Delgado will be in 2 years. They go into the season with what could be a potent lineup, but their pitching still seems suspect. Even with the $10m the Cubs are rumored to throw in, in my opinion this trade is going to end up being garbage for both sides. For all the people bitching initially that the Sox traded Nomar for less value on the dollar; take a look at how much worse it could have been.

Also in other news, the Tigers reportedly have thrown out a figure of 5-years, $50m for Magglio Ordonez. The same Magglio Ordonez who had to have controversial treatment on his injured knee in a foreign country. The only person pumped about this deal is Bill Bavasi, since inking this deal makes Richie Sexson look like a sound investment.


I was just admiring our blog and I noticed that we have a link to Doug Pappas' business of baseball page. I'm not sure if everyone is aware or not, but Doug passed away in 2004. I just clicked on the link to his page and apparently no one thought to take it over, update it, or even put some kind of indication that it is done. It's kind of sad. RIP DP.

Friday, January 28, 2005

The Mets offense and (more importantly) a new tool for blogging

This morning I was thinking about how I can divert myself from work for a bit, and I remembered that last year I built a template to do a hot stove analysis of each team. I ended up doing a grand total of two teams. Well, I got to thinking of edits I could make to the thing to make it a little more interesting, and then in typical fashion I kept working on it til I had something. Not so good for my productivity at work, but it should lead to some interesting articles. So here is the first one. You're probably wondering why I would do this for the Mets. No real reason except that I commented on the Mets offseason earlier so they were on the brain a bit. Also, I'm getting sick of the same old analysis of the AL East every year. Let's get on with it.

I now present to you, the Mets offense:

2004 Roster
CJason Phillips412-5.3
1BMike Piazza52829.9
2BJose Reyes2295.2
3BTodd Zeile3960.4
SSKazuo Matsui50923.7
RFRichard Hidalgo3597.4
CFMike Cameron56227.0
LFCliff Floyd45720.0

2005 Roster
CMike Piazza38924.2
1BDoug Mientkiewicz39312.7
2BJose Reyes44312.7
3BDavid Wright47232.4
SSKazuo Matsui53525.9
RFMike Cameron43724.4
CFCarlos Beltran60751.6
LFCliff Floyd43123.1

I think at this point we're comfortable enough with VORP that I don't have to explain it too much, but basically it's a measure of runs over replacement level, the key point being that you can compare 2 years and get an idea of how many runs scored we can expect this year versus last year. The 2004 VORP's are actual and the 2005 VORP's are from the PECOTA weighted average forecast. After adjusting for the disparity in plate appearances (which isn't necessarily required, since a better offense will come to the plate more, but anyway), it looks like the Mets have increased their offesive potential by 84 runs, which is a lot. Getting Mike Piazza back behind the plate will allow them to play everyone's favorite baseball hoarder, Doug Mintyfreshkevitzski, at 1st base and stick sinkhole Jason Phillips on the bench. Speaking of sinkholes, 86 year old Todd Zeile got the most plate appearances at 3B on the team last year, and hit like a AAA player. Putting David Wright in full time will be a big boost, as he had a great year in limited playing time in 2004, posting a VORP of 21 in under 300 PA's. Lastly, the biggest single impact will be felt in the outfield, where Carlos Beltran takes over in CF, pushing Mike Cameron to RF (probably), and Richard Hidalgo back to the state of Texas. Carlos is good for half of the boost in scoring all by himself. It's a shame he got sent to a pitcher's park, cause I'd sure like to see the raw numbers he could put up otherwise. It also sucks for him that he's now in a league with Bonds and Pujols.

Before any hypothetical Mets fans get all excited, their pitching staff looks like it's headed for a nice decline. I didn't format the chart for that yet, but PECOTA predicts big declines for Glavine and Trachsel and basically treading water for Benson and Zambrano. Pedro's got a nice forecast, but unfortuantely he's replacing a great year by Al Leiter. On the whole the rotation will give back 40 or so of those runs.

Assuming the bullpen and bench are a wash, that's a net gain of around 40 runs. Their "3rd order" record (which is based on all their peripherals and is generally a better predictor than the real record) was 77-85. Based on my rough analysis, I'm sorry to report that all their big signings and money spent amount to about a .500 season for 2005. So much for all the stories about them stepping up to be an elite team.

I should probably actually do some work today. Hopefully I'll use this template to analyze some more teams before the season starts, but no promises. If the other bloggers want a copy, let me know.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Admitting my non-hatred of all things Yankee.

I was going to start a bit of a "thing" where I would try to convince all of the other bloggers on here to pick a baseball signing and break it down in regards to contract, performance, impact, fuckability, etc., but I'm apparently still too in football mode.

There has definitely been some notice taken with the dismantling of the Colts and Steelers in regards to the individual players on the defense. Especially Teddy Bruschi, who deserves the underrated mantle, much, much more than Tom Brady. I guess me perpetuating the underrated stereotype is from the regular season media coverage. Back when they were racking up wins and every week the mediots would tell me that they are lucky and have good schemes and mediorce talent, etc. Why do I even listen to what their retards say? It's beyond me.

In reference to Law's ego: he has a huge one and that's why he's gone. He probably would have been gone before the year started if he didn't eventually calm down and shut his mouth. This is a perfect example of the way the Pats do business. Law has become bigger than the team, even going so far as to call Belichick a liar, and he will be jettisoned this offseason. Without a doubt, now that he hasn't shown up for any of the playoff games. The Yankees on the other hand are stuck with a shell of an MVP who admitted to using steroids. This, however relates to guaranteed contracts, which is a whole other, completely irrelevant conversation. I can see the similarities between the '96-'00 Yanks and the '01-current Pats. There I said it. I'm no less of a Boston sports fan for it either. I can't speak for anyone else though, as I once mentioned the Jeter/Brady analogy to a friend and he just about killed me. By the way, I would also like to state that I understand and agree with Colin's point that the backlash is the same in both team's cases, which goes double for my "they're the esessence of a team how could you hate them" argument. It's just nice to be in that role for once.

As a side note: I can't believe Jimmy Key actually started 2 games in the 1996 Series for the Yankees. I can't even picture that guy without a huge set of glasses, pitching for his weight in Toonies.

NFL comments

As an avid reader of Football Outsiders and discusser of football for a solid 2 and a half weeks, I am now clearly qualified to write in depth commentary on the Patriots, the Super Bowl, and the sports media vis a vis the NFL. Prepare to be awed by my intense knowledge.

In response to Nick's blog of this morning, I have a few comments, some of which support his observations and some of which are a little different. I kid about my total lack of knowledge of the sport prior to a few weeks ago, but it is true that I don't watch a lot of football during the regular season. I do, however, attempt to keep up with the Patriots and have some idea of who the best teams in general are. With that, here are some opinions.

Nick hit the nail on the head when he talks about how the Patriots' opponents have a tendendcy to understate their dominance. The past 2 games have been very telling in that regard. Going into the Colts matchup, the general media line was that no one could stop the Colts or Peyton Manning, coming off what may possibly be the best offensive season ever. The Pats never trailed in the game and held said offense to 3 points. All of a sudden the line changes and the Colts were a severely flawed team that was too reliant on the long passing game and had a shitty defense. The snowy weather gets credit and Peyton Manning is a choker. There's one guy (I think an Eagles fan) on the Outsiders site who wont shut up about how the Pats defense didn't really dominate the Colts, the offense did with a long drive that ate up most of the 3rd quarter. All the excuses and revisionist justifications fall short of recognizing the truly great game plan and execution that the Pats showed. It was a balanced team effort to hold the Colts to 3 points and it will be that way whenever they are on. Basically the Pittsburgh game is the same story. Before the game, the naysayers went on and on about how great the Steelers' running game and defense was, and that the Pats had never faced such an all around good and balanced team. After the Pats serious dominance in that game (on the road no less), people went on and on about how Pittsburgh has a flawed and one dimensional offense, Bill Cowher sucks, Rothlisberger was an overrated rookie, and the Pats got lucky with turnovers and good field position. The same Outsiders guy claims that the Pats defense won the game and the offense didn't do a lot. Hogwash. The Steelers were 16-1 and had schooled both Super Bowl teams earlier in the year. They are a great team, the Pats are just better. They make other teams make mistakes and they are amazing at capitalizing on them, which looks like luck if you're desparate for an excuse.

The parts I disagree with Nick on sort of fall into the "intangibles" camp. As a Yankees fan, I can 100% relate to the mass non-NE fan backlash against the Patriots. Before you jump on that, let me explain a few things and remind you that although the Yankees team of the past few seasons has had an infusion of less than likeable personalities and steroids scandals, they were a very respectful and likeable group (circa 1998 for example). As Aaron Schatz has cleverly pointed out, Tom Brady is the Derek Jeter of the NFL. It's really only your own biases that makes one admirable and one hated. The Patriots defense is famous for their "no respect" image, despite vast amounts of media coverage and accolades for guys like Bruschi, Law (no ego?), Seymour, and Harrison. Speaking of Rodney Harrison, from what I've heard he's pretty much uniformly disliked around the league, trash talks constantly, and has been accused of cheap hits repeatedly. In summary, the Patriots are a normal professional sports team in terms of personality and ego. They are coached well enough and they win enough that it might look otherwise, but I think a lot of people misread the causality relationship on that one. They are the 1998 Yankees. People hate them and their fans simply because they win a lot, and they make up other reasons to justify it.

As for the Super Bowl, last night's Outsiders article is pretty entertaining. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

Twelve days until kickoff, and otherwise sane educators have turned into Vizzini from The Princess Bride. But the television pundits are no better. “The Patriots know how to prepare.” “The Eagles are hungrier.” “The Patriots are trying to become a dynasty.” “The Eagles are just happy to be here.” “The Patriots are satisfied after two championships.” Lazy conjecture, meaningless hypotheses, amateur psychoanalysis masquerading as football knowledge, all foisted on the public by Skip Bayless and Sean Salisbury, Dan Marino and Tony Kornheiser, Larry King and Star Jones. Everyone’s talking football; no one’s saying anything.

“It will take a minor miracle to beat the Patriots,” Berliner intones. Two Super Bowls and one World Series was all it took to turn Boston commentators into strutting New Yorkers.

My take on the Super Bowl is that the Eagles are a great team. They have no obvious weakness (you'll hear conflicting stories about both their rush defense and rush offense, but the trends and stats bear out that they are pretty solid in both areas), a great QB, solid players on both sides of the ball, and a great coaching staff. Despite all of that, my gut tells me to take the Pats to cover the 7 point spread. Why? Basically because of the reasons I posted above. The Pats have a recent history that shows that they just out prepare and out execute virtually everyone they face, especially in big games. The Eagles will be tough, but so were the Colts and the Steelers. The Eagles haven't been tested and they have a history of choking in big games. The concept of "clutch" may not exist over the course of a 700 plate appearance baseball season, but a one game contest that's watched by millions and scrutinized mercilessly is another story. I wouldn't be shocked if it was a close game, and the Eagles do have a chance to win, but my gut tells me the Pats will win comfortably, again.

Title: Eye dun dough no shit.

I've been thinking about the Patriots quite a lot lately, given that they are poised to join some of the greatest teams in history in about 11 days (although you could argue that they are already there.) The Patriots have basically been dominating the league for about 3.5 years know, but yet no one really seems to have realized just how dominating they've been outside of New England. These last two playoff games seemed to have changed public opinon a bit, but there is still that theory that the Pats have been lucky or worse, cheated to get where they are today. The facts are there: 2 out of the past 3 Super Bowls, the longest consecutive winning streak including the playoffs in NFL history, and arguably changing the way a team can be run. The cheating thing is rediculous. Are you upset that they pushed the rules as far as they could go, or are you really just pissed that your team didnt'? This is a team that people who are disgusted with athletes should love. No big egos, everyone has their place, no infighting and bitching, just results. Then again those results usually mean that your favorite team just got owned and you're grasping at everything to rationalize how your team got dismantled by a bunch of "nobodies". I will definitely agree that they have been come so underrated that they are now overratedly underrated, but that's what happens when you're winning the way they do. They don't win flashy, they very rarely blow a team out and if you were to just look at final scores you would think that they barely won. That's what makes this team so successful: they take your gameplan and use it against you. Reggie Wayne of the Colts said after the first round that the only reason they lost was not that the Pats were better, but that they didn't play their game. There's a perfect summation. No one plays "their game" against the Pats defense. It's not allowed, they don't let you. The key to their success on the other side of the ball is that they don't have a game. Everything changes week to week and it always changes to what they think you're not planning for. Example: first game of the season, first start since the Curtis Martin era that the Pats have a stud running back. First drive is nothing but passes. This is the same thing that will happen in Jacksonville. I'm going this way for two very important reasons: 1. The Patriots have done nothing since 2000 to make me think that they won't win any big game they participate in. 2. I really, really hate the city of Philadelphia and want nothing but failure for their sports teams.

After finishing this I realized this is the biggest "tell me something I don't know" post of all time. Did you know I have a huge crush on Corey Dillon? Well okay then.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

son of a bitch!

This website and/or my browser just ate a long blog that I made. How incredibly frustrating after a 5 month hiatus. Rest assured that it would have been the most insightful and hilarious blog to date. Motherfucker.

Reader's digest version:

  • It's been 5 months but I'm bored today, emails were exchanged on fantasy baseball, PECOTA 2005 values are out, and I quit the Shizz at work. This adds up to more potential blogging for me.
  • Red Sox won the World Series. Happy for good fans, nothing I can do about the annoying ones. Season tickets = good. Went to 1 game in each ALDS, ALCS, and WS.
  • Yankees offseason deals: Wright = bad; Womack = bad but short; Pavano = not good, but not as bad as Wright; Johnson = good considering the circumstances that the team has made for itself; Martinez = irrelevant.
  • Red Sox offsesason deals: Clement = pretty good considering the market; Miller = good; Renteria = not so good; Varitek = overpriced but important to fans; Minky = good; Not giving in to Pedro = good.
  • Other offseason deals: Mets got 2 good players fora shit load of cash but are still the Mets. Marlins and Phillies should also be decent. Atlanta always finds a way. Therefore NL East will be interesting.
  • I've been watching football and reading a ton of I'm 6-0 vs the spread in the playoffs (from when I started paying attention). I'm leaning towards the Pats (-7) in the Super Bowl but that's a big spread. I'll be in the Bahamas for the game and the parade. Poor me.

Trust me, the original was better.

long time no