Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cubs Ink DeJesus.

Theo Epstein made his first move as the Cubs president of baseball operations today. He went out and signed free agent outfielder David DeJesus to a two year, $10 million dollar deal and a team option for 2014. Needless to say this was a very good signing.

Since 2005 DeJesus has been very productive, posting roughly 3 WAR per season. His triple slash for his career is .284/.356/.421. His .339 wOBA is slightly above average for his career. He won't bring the Cubs a ton of power, his ISO is ,137 for his career but he will bring some other solid abilities with him. DeJesus has a really good eye at the plate, he only strikes out 13.4% for his career and walks 8.3% of the time. His 17 K% last year can be considered an outlier becaue his 24 O-Swing% was 3.5% higher than his career average. There's also reason to expect that he hasn't fallen off much either.

Last year he was worth -3.8 against the fastball but that was the first year that he was worth negative runs against the fastball so it's reasonable to expect a bounce back. This leads us right to the next thing. His .274 BABIP was .042 points beneath his career BABIP so a bounce back year is almost certain. He's also a solid defender, the last 3 years he's had a UZR of 16, 2.5 and 7.5.

DeJesus will also gives the Cubs a good left handed bat in a line-up where most of their production comes from the right side. Chicago could still get another lefty bat or two but DeJesus helps the problem a little at least.

At $4.25 million per season ($1.5 million dollar buyout for 2014) DeJesus should easily outperform his salary. He needs to produce roughly 2 WAR per season, something that shouldn't be overly difficult for him. Theo Epstein has always gotten good players with good deals but he's also gotten some bad deals (Carl Crawford, Daisuke Matsuzaka) but as it stands right now Epstein got a good deal.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Texas Rangers Take a Gamble on Joe Nathan.

Yesterday it was announced that the Texas Rangers came to terms with former Twins closer Joe Nathan. The deal was for 2 years with $7 million annually. There also was a team option for 2014.

$7 million dollars is a lot of money to pay a closer, it's especially a lot for a closer who's 37 years old and who had a down year after coming off of Tommy John Surgery. In 44 games last year Joe Nathan was worthe a wopping 0 WAR. That's right, 0 WAR. His ERA, FIP and xFIP were 4.84, 4.28 and 3.96. Not exactly good numbers. His 22.5 K% was 4.1% below career average but his BB% wasn't affected as a result. One thing that is concerning though was the spike in HR/9 that he gave up. For his career he gave up .86 HR/9 but this past year he gave up 1.41, not a number you want to see. Next season Bill James sees Nathan having a bounce back year, posting a 2.35 ERA and 2.97 FIP. While Nathan could do that I think it's more more reasonable to see an ERA north of 3.

Relievers are never a sure thing though. In 2011 the top 5 relievers were as follows:

Craig Kimbrel: 2.10 ERA, 1.52 FIP, 1.94 xFIP

Jonathan Papelbon: 2.94 ERA, 1.53 FIP, 2.16 xFIP

Sean Marshall: 2.26 ERA, 1.86 FIP, 2.50 xFIP

David Robertson: 1.08 ERA, 1.84 FIP, 2.46 xFIP

Mariano Rivera: 1.91 ERA, 2.19 FIP, 2.64 xFIP


Carlos Marmol: 2.55 ERA, 2.01 FIP, 2.83 xFIP

Brian Wilson: 1.81 ERA, 2.19 FIP, 2.85 xFIP

Heath Bell: 1.93 ERA, 2.05 FIP, 2.98 xFIP

Matt Belisle: 2.93 ERA, 2.68 FIP, 2.78 xFIP

Sean Marshall: 2.68 ERA, 2.28 FIP, 2.50 xFIP


Jonathan Broxton: 2.61 ERA, 1.97 FIP, 2.02 xFIP

Matt Thornton: 2.74 ERA, 2.46 FIP, 2.74 xFIP

Michael Wuertz: 2.63 ERA, 2.37 FIP, 2.57 xFIP

Andrew Bailey: 1.84 ERA, 2.56 FIP, 3.20 xFIP

Brian Wilson: 2.74 ERA, 2.50 FIP, 3.18 xFIP

I could keep going but as you can see the top 5 relief pitchers vary year by year for the most part. There are some pitchers that did repeat, in this 3 year span it was Brian Wilson and Sean Marshall. Nathan didn't even crack the top 5 in 2009 in 2011. I'll give him see leeway for 2011 but in 2009 he was totally healthy and didn't crack the top 10.

If the Rangers were that desperate for a closer they should have looked at other options. Some think Jonathan Broxton may be burnt out but on an incentive laden deal he probably would have been a much better option.

$14 million dollars is a ridiculous amount of money for a relief pitcher, especially a pitcher who performed as poorly as Nathan did last year. The Rangers pretty much expect Nathan to return to his early days as a Twin and I just don't think that's possible at this point. The one good thing that comes out of this situation is that Neftali Feliz will finally join the rotation.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Justin Verlander didn't Deserve the MVP

Today it was announced that Justin Verlander is the American League MVP. Many people that aren't in the sabermetric community pegged Verlander as their MVP based on statistics that don't tell us as much as sabermetrics. His 24 wins and 2.40 ERA are nice but he might not have even been the best pitcher in the American League. More on that later though. The other two main competitors for the award were Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury and Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista.

Both Bautista and Ellsbury had great years. Bautista continued right where he left off from last seasona and Ellsbury was out to prove that he wasn't an injury prone outfielder.

Offensively Ellsbury had his best season to date. His WAR was 9.4 but there are other factors that should be taken into account besides WAR. He was never regarded as someone with a lot of power, his previous career highs in home runs and ISO were 9 and .114 which was in 2008. He did have a .155 ISO in 2007 but that was in 33 games. This year, out of nowhere, he had a .230 ISO to go along with 32 home runs. There a few statistics that could be a contributing factor to the increasing power. First is his GB%. In 2008 his GB% was 51.7%, then in 2009 it was 50.1%. This year it dropped by roughly 7%, dropping to 43%. He also saw an increase in his LD%. In 2008 he had a 20.3% and in 2009 it was 17.7%. Fast forward to this year and it was 22.9%. His BB% and K% didn't change much but his OBP was 14 points better than his career average. For the year he had a .376 OBP compared to a .362 for his career. His wOBA was also a career high, .402, .033 better than career average. One thing that really sets Ellsbury apart from everyone else is his defense. This past season Ellsbury had a 15.6 UZR, only behind his 2008 season where he had a 21.2 UZR. The point is Ellsbury is a really good defender.

The other player who had a great season was Jose Bautista. Check out my article I did earlier in the season about why I believe he's the best player in baseball. It may not seem possible but Jose Bautista had an even better season then 2010. He posted an 8.3 WAR and developed into a well rounded offensive player. He saw a sharp spike in his BB% percentage, something to be expected after his crazy power outburst the year before. His BB% jumped from 14.6% to 20.2%. Due to the spike in his walks he saw a sharp increase in his OBP, going from .378 to .447. His ISO went from .357 to .306 but that doesn't take away anything, .306 is ridiculous in it's own right. An observation on why he saw a power drop could be contributed to the increase in GB% that he saw. His GB% went from 31.1% to 36.9%. Despite all of that he actually created runs 15% better then last year. In 2010 his wRC+ was 166 and this past season it was 181. Unlike Ellsbury, Bautista isn't known as a defender. He played the majority of the year in RF where his UZR was -8.6.

Based on the information I have provided Ellsbury is the better MVP candidate, a big advantage Ellsbury that Ellsbury has is his defense.

We're not done though, we still have to look at Justin Verlander. Verlander had an amazing season, I won't take that away from him but he still didn't deserve the MVP. Some would argue that he wasn't even the best pitcher in the American League. At seasons end Verlander had compiled a 7 WAR and 2.99 FIP. One pitcher who was arguably better was Yankee pitcher C.C. Sabathia. Besides ERA C.C. Sabathia had a better FIP- as well as xFIP-. Sabathia's FIP - was 69 and his xFIP- was 75. Verlander on the other hand had a FIP- of 73 and an xFIP- of 77. Besides the FIP and xFIP differentials Sabathia and Verlander were close in a bunch of other stats. Verlander struck out batters 2.4% more of the time. 25.8% to 23.4%. Their walk rates as well as HR/9 were similar as well. One thing that Verlander did have was an extremely low BABIP. Verlander's was .236 compared to Sabathia's .318 BABIP. Verlander was defientely more luck then Sabathia this season. Verlander also has the luxury of pitching in the must easier division.

The AL Central is much, much more easier to pitch in than the AL East. The AL East had three teams that would have been in the playoffs in any other division and a fourth team that could've won a division like the AL Central. Out of 24 of Verlander's wins only 4 came against teams with above .500 records. Verlander also only played in roughly 22% of his teams games, not nearly enough to be considered the MVP. Based on how good the AL East is it should be even more impressive what Sabathia did during the course of the season. If that weren't enough Sabathia had .1 more WAR than Verlander. Sabathia was at 7.1 and Verlander had 7. WAR shouldn't be the only stat you use but it shows how good Sabathia was.

Based on all the information I presented you I would have to say Jacoby Ellsbury should have been MVP. He had an amazing offensive season as well as an amazing defensive season. The most valuable player is the player who gave his team the most value, and this year that was Boston Red Sox center fielder, Jacoby Ellsbury

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Andrew McCutchen: Extension Candidate

In 2009 Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen made his major league debut. Since then he's been one of the game's better outfielders. Last year he began taking the steps towards being one of the games elite.

In 2009 McCutchen gave the league a glimpse of what his potential is. Right off the bat he showed plate disapline, power, the ability to get on base and speed. In the minors McCutchen had what would be a league average BB% for the majority of the time he spent down there. Only once did he have a BB% greater than 10%, most of the time it was in the 8% range. In 493 plate appearances McCutchen walked 11% of the time, a nice surprise for the Pirates. He displayed power throughout the minors but in over 120 games per minor league level he never had an ISO higher than .155. He had a 189 ISO over 49 triple A games in 2009 but that's a pretty small sample size. In his rookie season he posted a .189 ISO and has continued to post ISO numbers over .160. He did and still does do a good job at getting on base. When he came into the league he posted a .365 OBP, right around what he did in the minors. Finally, speed. McCutchen has brought some much-needed speed to a poor Pirates line-up, something he's always had. To top it all off he produced 3.5 WAR that year, for a rookie I'll take that any day of the week.

Looking at this past season McCutchen has kept improving. He posted career highs in BB%, ISO, WAR and wRC+. His BB% was up to 13.1%, his K% did increase to 18.6 % though. Previously he's posted K%'s of 16.8% and 13.6%, but sometimes you gotta take the good with the bad. His ISO was at .198 this year, his previous best was his rookie season. He also saw a 4% increase in his wRC+ from his 2009 and 2010 seasons. His .360 wOBA is generally around the 75th percentile, if he could improve that number he'd be even better. He also had a wRC+ of 125, this past season he had a 129. If that wasn't a testament to how good he was he had 5.7 WAR, a 2.2 WAR increase over the last two seasons. Each season he had a 3.5 WAR.

I couldn't find a great comparison for McCutchen but I did take a look at how he compared to free agent shortstop Jose Reyes. If we look at Jose Reyes and Andrew McCuthen from 2008-2011 you'll realize they're hardly different. I choose 2008 because Reyes was hurt in '09.

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During that span McCutchen has the better BB%, ISO, OBP, OPS, wOBA and wRC+. While the differences aren't huge they are still differences. Both are quite similar players and if Reyes is rumored to want over $100 million and he gets that $100 million that could be a baseline of what McCutchen may be worth in the next year or so.

Now the question is do the Pirates give him that money or do they trade him. This past season the Pirates had a nice run and they were leading the division at one point. In the end they finished 24 games back from first place. In the draft though they got future ace Garrett Cole in the draft last year along with Josh Bell, a really good outfield prospect. They also have pitcher Jameson Tallion from last years draft. The Pirates have their share of prospects but will they pan out in time to show the McCutchen that the Pirates are about winning?

If I'm Pittsburg I sign him in a heart beat. He's 25 years old and still hasn't entered his prime. If they can lock him up for a 5-6 year deal at $14 million a year or so then they have to do it. McCutchen will only improve and as he gets better he'll just keep getting more expensive and as Pittsburg as showed recently, they don't like spending money on their players.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Josh Willingham, not Cuddyer Should be Teams Focus

This off-season the outfield free agents aren't that great. There are some solid ones though like Carlos Beltran, Michael Cuddyer and Josh Willingham. While the two players are nearly identical Willingham is the better player. They both hit from the right side of the plate. Both are in their lower 30s, they both can hit for power. For the most part Willingham has been the more successful player, posting WARs between 2-3 for 5 seasons. Cuddyer has posted WARs between 2 and 3 himself but between those years he's had a ,8 WAR season and 0 WAR season. The 0 WAR season was due to injury but he still played 70+ games that year.

Since 2006 both players have been nearly identical.

Josh Willingham 7713109696   2911.3 %21.0 %.   14.8
Michael Cuddyer 8143446848   409.0 %16.9 %.184.307.275.347.459.351   12.3

Cuddyer has been the slightly more durable player but during the 2004 and 2005 seasons Willingham only played a combined 28 games. Willingham has shown better power, the ISO differential is .032. Willingham also has a higher OBP and BB%. Cuddyer's plate discapline is much better then Willingham's, he struck out 4.1% during that span. The BABIP results aren't that signifacant at all, Cuddyer's .307 BABIP is a sustainable number so nothing can be taken from that. Willingham has also produced more WAR over that time span. Besides Cuddyer's SB, K% and PA Willingham has proven to be the better player.

Why are teams more interested in Cuddyer then? Cuddyer is a much more versatile player then Willingham. Since 2009 Cuddyer has played 1,370 innings at first base, he played 140 innings at second base last season and 107 innings at third base in 2010. He did play 1,154 innings at third baseb between 2004 and 2005 but I doubt he'd play third unless needed. His normal position is right field so he's gotten a ton of innings in the outfield. Besides the offensive production that right there is a big reason why teams may be more interested in Cuddyer.

Willingham will probably prove to be the cheaper option though. In 2011 Willingham made $6 million dollars, Cuddyer made $10.5 million. Cuddyer is rumored to be looking for a 3 year deal worth more than $30 million dollars. Willingham should be able to be had for a 2-3 year deal at $8 million annually. Neither player will transfrom whatever team they go to but both will be solid players who should be able to produce between 2 and 3 WAR a season. Teams that are looking to get a solid outfield option should defiantly take a look at Willingham.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Twins Sign Ryan Doumit

Today it was announced that the Minnesota Twins and free agent Ryan Doumit came to terms to a one year, three million dollar deal. Doumit can play a variety of positions. He can catch, play first, play the outfield and DH. Doumit will be able to give Morneau and Mauer days off during the the season or fill be able to fill in for someone if an injury occurs.

Doumit is known more for his offense rather then his defense. The Twins didn't sign him for his defense but going to the AL which has the DH should help give him a little boost in the offensive category. The Twins will take all of the offensive help they can get. Besides Joe Mauer the Twins got awful production from their catchers last year.

Doumit out produced Drew Butera and Rene Rivera in K%, BB/K, OBP, SLG, OPS, ISO, BABIP, wRAA, wOBA and wRC+. If you look at this table you'll be able to see that Doumit destroyed those categories. Rivera and Butera were really pathetic.

Ryan DoumitPirates2366.8 %14.8 %0.46.303.353.477.830.174 .331 8.3.360129
Drew ButeraTwins2544.3 %16.5 % .194 -23.0.20220
Rene RiveraTwins1147.0 %28.1 % .194 -11.2.19213 

For his career Doumit has been a solid player when healthy. He has decent power, posting a .174 ISO. He does a good job at getting on base, his career OBP is .334. His 104 wRC+ is slightly above league average but Doumit is a slightly above league average player. Like I stated earlier he isn't a good defensive player but makes up for it offensively. Doumit should be able to put up at least 2 WAR this season giving the Twins $10 million dollars of value. If Doumit can come into Minnesota and do what he's good at which is getting on base, hitting for some power and being a versatile player then Minnesota got a good deal.

So far I've liked what the Twins have done this off-season. They got a quality shortstop in Jamey Carroll and a solid versatile offensive player in Ryan Doumit. With about $20 million dollars left to spend they should be able to at least get an outfielder and a decent pitcher.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Did Nick Markakis Peak too Early?

3 seasons ago Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis was regarded as one of the games best players. Since then he's been a little bit better then average. Did he hit his peak early and is now declining or is there something else going on?

In 2008 Markakis had his best season in the majors. He had 6.3 WAR and a .389 wOBA. He also showed that he had solid power, putting up a .185 wOBA. He showed that he also has a good eye at the plate, walking 14.2% of the time. Thanks to his good eye at the plate, among other factors Markakis had a slash line of .306/.406/.491. In 2008 his .350 BABIP was unusually high so there's evidence to suggest that he just wasn't that good. He was seeing the fastball really well, he was worth 25 runs against it. If Markakis was doing so good what caused the decline?

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The first thing that jumps out at you is the declining ISO numbers that Marakis experiences. One of the main factors that can indicate a player is on the decline is if a player's power numbers are down. For Markakis that's been the outcome the last three seasons. In 2008 Markakis' .350 BABIP was highly unsustainable. The second highest BABIP Markakis posted was .331. He did that two times. In 2007 he had a 4.3 WAR and .185 ISO. In 2010 he did it again but only posted a .138 ISO and 2.6 WAR.

If you look even closer you'll notice two stats that could point directly to Markakis' struggles. Those stats are O-Swing% and O-Contact%. These stats tell us how often a batter swings at pitches outside the strike zone and how often he makes contact with pitches outside the zone. Markakis' O-Contact is the disturbing one. For 2010 league average for O-Contact% was 66.5%. The 2011 average shouldn't be too far off. As you can tell Markakis has steadily increased his O-Contact% the last three years. As a result statistics like ISO, OBP and wOBA have declined. I haven't done any tests but I imagine there must be some sort of correlation there. If Markakis can stop making contact with bad pitches he might be able to be back to being a productive hitter.

xBABIP projects Markakis to have a .320 BABIP next season which is right at his .323 career norm. xH (Expected hits) says he'll get 193 hits next season. His xAVG, xOBP and xSLG are .301/.366/.423. Besides the SLG that's right around career average. If he keeps swinging at bad pitches and never gets his power back Markakis will never be a 4 WAR player again. While he could be a servicable player it would be a shame if he peaked too early, he could have been one of the games better outfielders.



Monday, November 14, 2011

Matt Kemp, Dodgers Agree to 8 year, $160 million dollar deal.

Today the baseball world learned that the Los Angeles Dodgers locked up their premiere outfielder Matt Kemp. The Dodgers aren't in the greatest situation at the moment, they currently are looking for a new owner but in the midst of all that they decided to lock up Kemp.

Matt Kemp is a really good baseball player but in the past he has lost motivation and didn't perform to the best of his abilities. 2010 is a prime example. In 602 at-bats last season Kemp managed to post a .323 wOBA and only .4 WAR. There was no reason to suspect that he was declining because his .201 ISO was actually better than the .193 ISO that he posted in 2009. What was the reason for the down year then?

A few possible reasons are his K% and his BABIP. Throughout his career Kemp has posted a higher career BABIP then most. Generally the major league average for BABIP is between .290-.300. In 2010 Kemp posted a .295 BABIP. His career BABIP is .352. That's a .057 differential which is pretty substantial. Kemp was almost guaranteed to regress towards the mean, meaning his 2011 BABIP should return to around his career average. That low BABIP could be due to Kemp facing some tough defenses, luck or general adjustment during the season. Naturally Kemp or any baseball player for that matter can only control where they hit it to a certain extent. In Kemp's case he could have been hitting it right at the defenders. He also could have just had bad luck last season.

Kemp also struck out 2% more than average in 2010. Kemp does get his share of strikeouts but 25.4% is quite a bit. One final thing that Kemp wasn't doing so well with in 2010 was seeing the fastball. Kemp was only worth 6.5 runs against the fastball so there was obviously some problems regarding it.

Fast forward to the 2011 season and Kemp was an all new player. He posted 8.7 WAR and a 4.19 wOBA showing that he was right where he left off in 2009. He continued his power surge, putting up a ridiculous .262 ISO further showing that a we don't have to worry about a decline just yet. His .380 BABIP is not something that will be sustainable but it shows that whatever the problem Kemp had he solved it. That isn't a number you should expect to see every season but you won't see a sub .300 BABIP with Kemp unless something goes wrong. Kemp also fixed his strikeout problem, striking out 23.1% of the time which is right at his career norm. He also had no problem adjusting to the fastball as he was worth 37.9 runs against it this season.

One thing that Kemp will never be good at during the life of the contract is playing defense. In 2010 UZR had him at -25.7 runs and UZR/150 had him at -27.5 runs. He was slightly better in 2011, UZR had him at -4.6 runs and UZR/150 had him at -4.7 runs. Matt Kemp has never been known as a defender anyway.

One player that Matt Kemp compares similarly with his Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun. They both came up around the same time, Kemp in 2006 and Braun in 2007. Both have a ton of power, have speed and aren't known for their defense. With this link you can see a WAR graph from fangraphs, both have had surprisingly similar starts to their careers. WAR Graph.

They also both got ridiculous contracts. Braun signed an 8 year, $45 million dollar deal in 2008 locking him up until 2015 then last year he signed a 5 year, $105 million dollar extension locking him up until 2020. To sum it all up Braun has a $150 million dollar deal, only $10 million dollars less then Kemp. Braun does have the more consistent track record but both are studs.

Looking ahead to next season xBABIP says Matt Kemp should post a BABIP around .345 which is just shy of his career norm. Matt Kemp may never post a WAR over 8 again but during the contract he should post a few 5-6 WAR seasons. The Dodgers may not have wanted to give Kemp $160 million dollars over 8 years which is a huge investment but it was one they had to do. If Kemp even comes close to what he did this past season then the Dodgers did a good job.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Phillies Vastly Overpay for Papelbon.

Yesterday we learned that the Phillies and all-star closer Jonathan Papelbon agreed to a 4 year, $50 million dollar contract with a vesting option in 2016 worth $10 million dollars giving him the potential to earn $60 million dollars making him the richest relief pitcher ever in baseball. Papelbon is a good closer but no closer, no reliever for that matter is worth $50 million dollars.

Last year Papelbon did have one of his best seasons posting 3 WAR and a 2.16 xFIP. Papelbon's .309 BABIP was slightly above his career .275 BABIP, the other two years where his WAR was at 3 or above he had BABIPs of .224 and .293 so he might not be a 3 WAR closer. It wouldn't be surprising to see Papelbon regress and post a BABIP similar to his career BABIP next season. In 2009 when Papelbon posted a .278 BABIP he had a 3.91 xFIP and when he had a .287 BABIP in 2010 his xFIP was 3.56. Just two seasons ago Papelbon posted his highest HR/9 and BB% of his career. .94 per 9 and 9.8% respectively.  

Over the life of the contract I expect Papelbon to post WARs of 1.5, 2, 1.5 and 1 making him worth $30 million dollars. That doesn't mean Papelbon should get that big of a deal but it does mean the Phillies could lose $20 million dollars in this deal if not more.

In 2005 the Toronto Blue Jays made B.J. Ryan the highest paid reliever in baseball paying him $47 million dollars over 5 years. His first season he did very good posting 2.9 WAR and a 2.94 xFIP. After that it went downhill. And fast. In May of 2007 B.J. Ryan got Tommy John Surgery and missed the rest of the year. In 2008 he had a 4.26 xFIP and only .9 WAR. In 2009 he pitched in only 25 games and had a 6.48 xFIP and -.6 WAR. The Blue Jays thought they were getting a premium closer but in the end they got nothing. In fact the Blue Jays actually lost $35.3 million dollars in that deal. Ryan only gave the Blue Jays $11.7 million dollars in value.

Last off-season the Yankees signed Rafael Soriano to a 3 year, $35 million dollar deal and Soriano hasn't lived up to that either. In 2010 Soriano had a 3.62 xFIP and only 1.5 WAR. In 2011 Soriano's xFIP was 4.18 and he posted an abysmal .3 WAR.

As you can see giving big dollars to closers can be a big problem. With that $50 million dollars the Phillies could have improved an area of need such as third base or their outfield. The Phillies are rumored to be interested in Michael Cuddyer, with some of that $50 million and a cheaper closer such as Jonathan Broxton. The Phillies will hope that Papelbon will help anchor a bullpen that probably won't need to work as much due to their amazing rotation but history is defiantly not on their side.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Twins Should Trade for Martin Prado

After signing SS/2B Jeremy Carroll to a two year deal the Twins now need to make a trade for Atlanta Braves 2B/3B Martin Prado. The Twins were decimated with injuries last season and suffered from poor play in the infield, particularly the middle infield. He may not be the prototypical Minnesota infielder but he can make the team much better by being put into their offense.

Last year the Twins got horrible production from second base. From second base they got a .287 OBP and a total of 1.3 WAR which is pretty pathetic. Prado would add a nice right handed bat to the line-up sliding either behind Justin Morneau or behind Denard Span, he wouldn't contribute much defensively though. Before last year Prado put up WARs of 4.4 and 3.2 showing that last year was most likely a fluke. Prado did have a down year but that was mainly due to a case of bad luck. His slash line last year was .260/.302/.385 and his power seemingly went away, he only had a .125 ISO compared to his .141 career ISO. His .296 wOBA was also well below his .337 career wOBA. Compared to his career BABIP of .315 last year's .266 was a dissapointment. The .049 differential is pretty significant and he should see that climb.

 Normally Prado is a pretty good line drive hitter but last year he really struggled with hitting line drives. His career LD% is 18.9% and last year it was only 14.6%. Those line drives turned into ground balls and flyballs. His GB% increased 2.3%, going from 48.5% to 50.8% and his FB% went from 30.5 % to 34.6%.

Let's take a look at what Prado could do next season assuming his BABIP returns to his career average or close to it with this spreadsheet that I made.

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xBABIP has him returning to his normal BABIP of .315 making a bounce back season all the more likely. xAVG, xOBP and xSLG have him at .303/.343/.428 putting him at the production he was giving in 2010.

Financially Prado is projected to make $4.4 million dollars next season and for what he can do that's not very expensive at all. The next two seasons Prado should be able to produce WARs of 3 and 3.5 respectively making him worth $32.5 million dollars in value. For what he's getting paid he'd be a steal. Prado wouldn't be too expensive, probably costing a tier two prospect and possibly a tier three. With only $7.9 million tied up with Carroll and Prado Minnesota would still have a little over $20 million dollars to sign a back-up catcher, outfielder and possibly two pitchers.

In the end, if Minnesota can get Martin Prado, possibly with a package involving one of their outfield prospects they should pull the trigger. xBABIP shows that Prado should make a comeback and if Minnesota can get him when his value is low they need to do it.

Twins, Jamey Carroll Closing in on Deal

The Minnesota Twins and Jamey Carroll are close to agreeing to a multi-year deal. Full details haven't been given yet but I imagine it won't be more then $2-4 million annually. If/when the deal happens I actually like this for Minnesota. Carroll would start at shortstop right away and with Nishioka'a struggles last year it would be a nice upgrade. Jamey Carroll doesn't have any power, totaling 12 home runs in 11 years but does other things very well.

Carroll is a better ball player then he gets credit for. Last year he posted 2.2 WAR. He does have a 3.1 WAR season to his credit as well a 2.5 WAR season which he posted in 2010. Carroll does a good job on getting on base, last season he posted a .359 OBP and a .321 wOBA. For his career he has a .356 OBP and .318 wOBA. He has a good eye at the plate, walking 9.9% of the time for his career and striking out only 13.9% of the time. He even has some speed, stealing 10 bases last year.

Last season his BABIP was .332 in comparison to his career BABIP is .325 so it wasn't too far off his career average. xBABIP says that Carroll will post a .331 xBABIP next season meaning he should have a pretty similar season.

He's also a solid defender, he has a career total 16.4 UZR. If he can be a slightly above average defender for Minnesota they can easily get their money's worth throughout the life of the deal.

I suspect Carroll will post WARs of 2.0 and 1.5 assuming it's a 2 year deal. That means Carroll should be worth roughly $17.5 million dollars. Not bad for a deal that shouldn't be more then $6 million. Carroll does turn 38 in February but he's still a nice player to have.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Giants, Royals Swap Players

Yesterday the San Fransisco Giants and Kansas City Royals swapped players. The Giants sent starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez and minor league starter Ryan Verdugo to Kansas City for outfielder Milkey Cabrera. In short this is a meh trade for both sides. The Royals got a league average starter and the Giants got an average outfielder.

I will admit Cabrera had a solid season last year. He did post a 4.2 WAR and .349 wOBA, both career highs. Let's take a look at what he did this past season and his career statistics.

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As you can see Cabrera is having a career year all across the board. One reason that can be attributed to this was his high BABIP. it was .33 points above his career average. His high BABIP could either be due to luck or the fact that the defense was really bad. The point is Cabrera shouldn't be nearly as good in the National League. If you think otherwise check out how he did when he was in Atlanta. This was with 509 plate appearances.

-1 WAR, .294 wOBA, 79 wRC+, .98 ISO, .288 BABIP. His BABIP was pretty close to his career .299 BABIP. Meaning that Cabrera just isn't that good. Since he isn't that good of a defender in the first place spacious AT&T Park shouldn't help. For the Giants fans who think they got someone good I'm sorry to say you didn't.

The Royals didn't do much better themselves. Jonathan Sanchez can strike guys out. That's pretty much it. He struck out 23% of the batters he faced, good for top 5 in baseball. After that, well it's pretty ugly. He has a huge problem with walks, he walked 14.9% of batters he faced.

His FIP was 4.30 and his xFIP was 4.36. His FIP- and ERA- were exactly the same, 114 to be exact meaning both his FIP- and ERA- were 14% worse then league average. His .272 BABIP was slightly below his .287 BABIP but not low enough to make a huge difference. The disturbing thing was that his xFIP was much better at home on the road meaning he could struggle away from AT&T Park. His xFIP at home was 3.82 and is xFIP on the road was 4.94, over a whole run worse. That isn't what Royals fans want to see. I recommend reading this article by Dave Cameron from Fangraphs about Sanchez's struggles.

In the end neither team really gained anything, they each got average to below average players. The Royals did need a pitcher but Sanchez wasn't the one they should have pursued. Like wise the Giants needed an outfielder but Melky Cabrera won't solve that issue.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Jim Thome signs with Phillies

It's a one year deal and I imagine it's no more then 3 million dollars. He's one of the best power hitters of all time and had some of his best seasons in Philedelphia. He'll mainly come off the bench as a power lefty when needed. Even though he's 41 he still has massive power. Overall it should work out well for Philedelphia.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Top 50 Free Agents

Instead of doing an off-season outlook for a team today I am going to post the top 50 free agents and where I think they will sign.


Albert Pujols: St. Louis Cardinals Others: Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals

Jose Reyes: Milwaukee Brewers Others: Detroit Tigers

Prince Fielder: Texas Rangers Others: Seattle Mariners

C.J. Wilson: Texas Rangers Others: New York Yankees, New York Mets, Washington Nationals

Good Players:

Carlos Beltran: Boston Red Sox

Jimmy Rollins: Philedelphia Phillies

Hiroki Kuroda: Los Angeles Dodgers

Roy Oswalt: Washington Nationals

Edwin Jackson: Boston Red Sox

David Ortiz: Toronto Blue Jays

Aramis Ramirez: Colorado Rockies


Mark Buehrle: Chicago White Sox

Coco Crisp: Toronto Blue Jays

Michael Cuddyer: Atlanta Braves

Jonathan Papelbon: Texas Rangers

Josh Willingham: Minnesota Twins

Javier Vasquez: Retire

Carlos Pena: Chicago Cubs

Kelly Johnson: Toronto Blue Jays

Role Players:

Ryan Madson: Philedelphia Phillies

Grady Sizemore: Tampa Bay Rays

David DeJesus: Baltimore Orioles

Erik Bedard: Boston Red Sox

Heath Bell: San Diego Padres

Ramon Hernandez: Minnesota Twins

Raefal Furcal: St. Louis Cardinals

Chris Capuano: New York Mets

Clint Barmes: Chicago White Sox

Fransisco Rodriguez: Milwaukee Brewers

Paul Maholm: Washington Nationals

The Rest:

Jason Kubel: Los Angeles Dodgers

Freddy Garcia: New York Yankees

Cody Ross: Florida Marlins

Aaron Hill: Arizona Diamondbacks

Darren Oliver: Texas Rangers

Jamey Carrol: Los Angeles Dodgers

Casey Kotchmen: Tampa Bay Rays

Johnny Damon: Retire

Jeff Francis: Houston Astros

Jim Thome: Retire

Ramon Santiago: New York Mets

Bartolo Colon: Los Angeles Angels

Nick Punto: St. Louis Cardinals

Joe Nathan: New York Mets

Mark Ellis: Colorado Rockies

Jason Marquis: Pittsburgh Pirates

Frank Fransisco: Cleveland Indians

Bruce Chen: Kansas City Royals

Andruw Jones: New York Yankees

Jon Garland: Minnesota Twins

List taken from Fangraphs.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Off-Season: Texas Rangers

The Texas Rangers came within one strike of winning their first world series two times. Going into free agency they don't need to do a lot if they want to get back. Two things they could improve on though are starting pitching and first base.

Starting Pitching:

The Rangers had four really good starting pitchers this season. They were C.J. Wilson, Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando and Derek Holland. Combined all four pitchers posted 17.3 WAR. The problem is Alexi Ogando probably won't be that good next season and C.J. Wilson may not even be on the team. Wilson has stated that he would like to return to the Rangers but who knows if that will turn out if the Yankees start throwing cash at him. If he leaves the Rangers wouldn't have a ton of options.

They could look at Roy Oswalt but he's stated in the past that he's a National League guy. Or they could look at Japanese-Iranian sensation Yu Darvish. Darvish is a 25-year-old pitcher who pitches for the Japanese team Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. Darvish is 6'5" and weighs 220 lbs, he can easily put on some pounds. Darvish throws five pitches. He has a 4 seam fastball that is usually between 91-94 mph but can top out at 97 mph. He has a slurve, two seam, cutter, curve, splitter and a change-up as well. In his six year career Darvish has 974 strike outs and 247 walks. For what it's worth he's had an ERA under 2 for the last four seasons. He'll be expensive as well and the Rangers have money to spend. Check out this article by Dave Cameron of Fangraphs about how much Darvish should get paid.  After those two there aren't really ace like pitchers on the market and that's what Texas would need if they lost Wilson. They could also ask Tampa Bay about Shields but he would come at a cost.

First Base:

Texas also could use a first basemen going into next year. Mitch Moreland showed he has power potential (.155 ISO) But his .317 wOBA is dreadful. There just happens to be two very good fist basemen on the market this season. I don't think they'll sign Albert Pujols but I do believe they have a legitmate shot at Prince Fielder. With Adrian Beltre, Nelson Cruz, Michael Young and Mike Napoli all right handed Prince Fielder could slide right in with Josh Hamilton and supply power from the left side. The past 6 years Fielder has totaled 23.4 WAR but one year he only had 62 PA with .1 WAR and the other two he had a combied 3 WAR. This past season he posted 5.5 WAR which was his second highest in his career. His highest was in 2009 when he posted 6.4 WAR. If Fielder posted 5.5 WAR, 6 WAR, 5.5 WAR, 5 WAR, 4.5 WAR over the next five years he'd be worth he would be worth $106 million dollars in value. If the Rangers could get him for 5 years $100 million they'd have themselves a nice deal. At 28 years old Fielder still is well in his prime and should still put up huge numbers. It would probably cost the Rangers 5-6 years at a little over $130 million dollars though.

Overall the Rangers are a really good team and don't have to make a ton of changes. I fthey could get C.J. Wilson back and sign Fielder they'd be right in the mix for a third world series appearance.