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Chronicles of the Lads

"It would behoove the Lads to score some runs here." --The late Bob Starr, Angel announcer of many years, said often of the Angels when they trailed late in a game

Updated: 2018-04-23T14:04:42.496-07:00




Like the Second Amendment's vague pronouncements about militias and well-regulation, the BBWAA's MVP guidelines are a conceptual quicksand. The first criterion of the MVP is "Actual value of a player to his team, that is, strength of offense and defense." We don't have to figure out what "actual value of a player to his team" means -- it gives us the definition right there: "strength of offense and defense".

This isn't good enough for the BBWAA, evidently, or at least their proxies in the broadcast media. I saw Harold Reynolds for a bit on the MLB Network today; he rankled at what he characterized as an attitude of arrogance on behalf of those who would use stats to justify arguing Mike Trout as the AL MVP. I only saw a few minutes; I don't know if he was similarly rankled at those who argued that Miguel Cabrera's Triple Crown was cause to elect him MVP. After all, isn't the Triple Crown a collection of stats?

I saw Sean Casey for a bit on the MLB Network today; his entire pro-Cabrera argument was that the Tigers made the playoffs and the Angels didn't. He wasn't considering strength of offense and defense; he was considering strength of teammates. And so we fall into the situation where the "Most Valuable Player" is a player on team good enough to make the playoffs, but not good enough to make the playoffs to easily: Best Player on a Team that Barely Makes It (or, as we learned when Justin Morneau beat out Joe Mauer in 2006, Player with Most RBI on a Team that Barely Makes It).

The notion that the Trout-Cabrera debate is some stats-traditional debate is a monumentally silly one, of course. You can't make a pro-Cabrera argument without resorting to stats, and until a few years ago the "traditionalists" would have supported the defensive/baserunning dynamo over the one-dimensional slugger. But the only tradition the BBWAA seeks to uphold is their own and their own power; definitions and ideologies do not exist -- hell, facts don't exist (Sean Casey, an employee of Major League Baseball hired to analyze major league baseball on television, said today that Mike Trout was "average at best" in September, a month that [plus October] saw him hit 289/400/500 with 7 SB to 1 CS, all with great defense; the MLB Network should apologize to its viewers for broadcasting such ignorant and ill-prepared drivel).

What exists is the need to persist, as any organization's primary directive is survival. We don't need baseball writers anymore, not the kind that formed the BBWAA in our game's Jurassic age. We can see every game we want, when we want it, we have all the stats at our disposal, the databases, the analysis. It's all open and free and we exchange ideas dozens, hundreds of times per day. We don't need writers to tell us who is best, we can decide on our own now. But this is no good for the writers' power, and so they strike back. Everyone knows that Trout was better than Cabrera in 2012, but the BBWAA is pointless if they're telling you what you know, they have to tell you they know better, that they are the true arbiters of value, not any measure of strength of offense and defense. And once upon a time that meant that the light-hitting shortstops and catchers were more valuable than "we" thought (and in several cases they were), and today it means that baseball's story of the year isn't. It's reactionary and perverse.

There is nothing but inertia that gives the BBWAA's votes any more prestige than the determinations of, say, Baseball America, The Sporting News, or, hell, The Internet Baseball Awards. The voters of the BBWAA don't care about their own voting guidelines, and I see no reason to humor them. If they're going to ignore their guidelines, I say we ignore them, and move on and let the dinosaurs consume themselves.



Somewhat. At BTF.



There are two out in the eighth inning. You lead by two. The bases are loaded. Two left-handed batters are due up. The pitcher you have on the mound is right-handed and has a career 7.13 ERA.

If you're not going to put in your multi-million dollar left-handed closer that has only pitched once in the last five days, then why is he even on the roster?



I don't have any words for this. If any of you have been around here for awhile, you know I followed Nick Adenhart from the moment he was drafted:

One intriguing draftee is Nicholas Adenhart, a high school pitcher who measures at 6'4'' (or 6'3'', if you believe Baseball America) and can hit as high as 93 on the gun. The MLB scouting report pegs him as a "definite blue chipper" and a "potential frontline [major league] starter," and BA ranked him as the second-best high school pitcher in the country (he actually held the number one spot for much of the season). Why did he go 413th in the draft? Well, he's having the Tommy John surgery. (The video shows that he has very smooth mechanics, but scouts had idenified him as having a "stiff front side" prior to his injury.) Adenhart has a full ride at North Carolina, and his father speaks glowingly of the chance for him to get an education.

So, is he signable? It will be interesting to see. I would suspect that he'll go to college and up his stock, but you can't blame the Angels for trying, and it may work out.

After he signed, he immediately entered the Watch List I used to do of prospects. And my notices were glowing, as as a pitcher young for his leagues Adenhart always at least held his own or excelled.

I liveblogged his MLB debut last year, which didn't go well, and he struggled when he returned to AAA. I was pretty much out of the blogging game by then, but I wasn't worried -- he was still young for his leagues, and you could see the stuff that he had.

Last night's game demonstrated both his potential and his struggles. He had not yet mastered his command, but had such a live arm, with a good moving fastball, a solid curve, and an excellent change. He had an absolutely marvelous sequence against Jason Giambi with men on base, shocking Giambi and myself with back-to-back changes for a strikeout. I thought it was an absolutely fantastic plate appearance from the pitcher's perspective, and it really indicated to me that this was a kid that gets it. And he was going to get there -- he hit the majors younger than Ervin Santana did, younger than John Lackey did, younger than Chuck Finley did, with for the most part terrific minor league numbers.

I don't mean to be insensitive in talking about his pitching or selfish in referring to my own previous blog entries, but this is the arena in which we as fans knew Nick Adenhart. We forge these connections with people we never meet or see outside of a uniform. And they mean something to us -- it's about us being part of something bigger than ourselves, of joining with others and cathartically sharing their joys and disappointments.

And if this incident has this kind of effect on us, I can't even imagine the effect on his family and friends. To watch this young man battle through injury and work hard and achieve his dream, and demonstrate such improvement and progression in his chosen life of work, to have the effect he seemed to have on those who knew him, and have that all seized by an act of such randomness and horror ... I cannot imagine it.

Even Scott Boras wept.

Condolences to all who knew and loved Nick Adenhart.






As linked at Halos Heaven:

What Teixeira has done, according to Angels hitting coach Mickey Hatcher, is change the culture of hitting in Los Angeles. He's taught teammates to be more patient, to take walks if the perfect pitch to hit isn't there.

"He definitely adds a lot to our lineup with that on-base percentage; a guy that works the count," Hatcher said. "It's good for some of my players to watch that. He's brought that into our lineup. Ever since we got him he's had a lot of big hits for us. He gets on base to help us create more runs. He plays unbelievable defense, and I think that makes our pitching staff that more confident. He's just fun to watch."

Mark Teixeira played his first game for the Angels on July 30. Up until that point, the Angels had walked unintentionally 270 in 3,884 eligible plate appearances (PA minus intentional walks, hit-by-pitch, and sacrifice hits), for a walk-per-PA rate of 6.95%. From July 30 forward, the Angels walked unintentionally 159 times in 2,135 such PA: 7.45%.

Of course, a lot of that is Mark Teixeira, who had 28 UIBB in 226 "E"PA (12.39%). Taking Teixeria's contribution out, the rest of the Angels walked 131 times in 1,909 EPA: 6.86%.

Before: 6.95%. After: 6.86%. Not looking good so far for the Mickster.

But there's one thing to check ... let's take Casey Kotchman out of the equation in the "before" category. 15 UIBB, 390 PA, taking that out gives the Angels 255 UIBB in 3,494 PA, giving us ... 6.54%.

So the rest of the Angels did walk more often after Teixeira was acquired than before. By 0.32% walks per plate appearance. That's a difference of seven walks.

I'm certain Scott Boras will include this in the portfolio he submits to teams seeking Teixeira's services this winter.



So it says here our boys have traded Casey Kotchman and Stephen Marek for Mark Teixeira.

I am both sad and hopeful about this. Sad because I really like Casey and think he's going to be a productive hitter over the rest of his career (I'm betting on his June and most of July this year being an aberration), hopeful because Teixeira is an improvement and Marek isn't a huge loss. I don't really know if I see the Angels re-signing Big Teix after this year, so, Kendry Morales, you better be ready come 2009.



Back when we traded for Jon Garland, I tried to figure out what made him tick, how he got guys out. I got nowhere with this, and put it aside, figuring maybe after watching him a couple times per week I might get it.

After his first few starts, I began to think the answer to the question "How does Jon Garland get guys out?" was "He doesn't", but he's turned it around, and has been taking names all around the league for more than a dozen starts. I've been watching, and I must conclude that I simply have no idea how he's doing it.

But in watching him, I have come to yet another conclusion about Jon Garland: he is the most boring major league pitcher I have ever seen.

What do I mean by this? Well, you know, most major league pitchers, especially quality ones, have something about them that's exciting. A hot fastball, like Ervin Santana. A bendy breaking ball, like Francisco Rodriguez. A hot bendy fastball, like Scot Shields.

What does Jon Garland have? I don't know. A low-90s two-seamer: ho-hum. He throws a curve, but from the footage we've seen on telecasts, it was twenty times better in high school than it is now. I guess he has a change, too, I don't know what he's doing. The guy struck out two men with a guy on third and no outs today, and I literally had no idea it was happening until it was over.

And he doesn't have any personality, either. I don't mean in life, maybe he's the most personable guy there is, I have no idea -- I mean on the mound. He doesn't seem to gesture or show emotion or do anything. Has he ever talked to a catcher or anything on the mound? He congratulated Juan Rivera after his fine throw today, by the dugout, but that's not really on the field. He just doesn't seem to do anything -- except for slow down his pace painfully when multiple guys get on base. Which is boring. And he doesn't seem to being making any kind of impact on local media, either.

Quite frankly, I don't even know what Jon Garland looks like. If he wants to come to my house he better be wearing his jersey otherwise I'm calling the cops about a stranger trespassing.

I was pondering these two Jon Garland facts, as I do, the fact that I don't know how he has success with such non-phenomenal stuff and by striking out no one, and the fact that I've never seen a pitcher so boring, when I finally had an epiphany:

Jon Garland bores opposing hitters to death.

I mean, think about it. When you're facing a big-time pitcher like John Lackey, you're on your game. You have a lot to think about. "Oh, is he going to throw his fastball? What about that curve? What do I do? What does he do?" You think about what's going on. You're engaged. Lackey's still gonna get you, but you know what's happening to you.

And when you face a bad pitcher, like Justin Speier Puts Gas On the Fire over the past month, you're at your best attention: "Now's my chance to get a hit, I gotta focus." You're in the game.

What are you thinking when you're batting against Jon Garland? "Oh, I guess here comes a sinker *YA-AWN* oh hell I better swing" and you tap some week grounder to the second baseman, and then you go back to the dugout and you've already forgotten what happened. And Garland strikes out three guys a game and gives up a not-unusual number of groundballs and ends up with an ERA better than the league average year after year after year. All by being uninteresting.

Well, whatever works.



During the game yesterday, Bob Boone came to visit Rory and Guby in the booth. Boone used to manage Gubicza in KC, and Guby told the story of pitching in a game against the Angels, and he had two outs in the ninth, and Boone came to take him out with Garret Anderson coming to the plate. Gubicza told Boone he'd get Anderson to hit a groundball, Boone believed him and let him stay in the game.

Guby then coerced Anderson to hit a groundball -- which he did for a base hit. And out came Boone to take Gubicza out of the game.

This is exactly the kind of story that doesn't seem to be true at all, but I went into Mark Gubicza's records and ... it happened.

May 9, 1996. Bottom of the ninth, Royals up 8-2, Gubicza enters the inning with 107 pitches. He strikes out Tim Salmon looking on five pitches, gives up a first-pitch single to Chili Davis, but then takes eight pitches to retire JT Snow.

So you can see Boone's thinking, let him finish the game, when the inning begins. But now he's up to 121 pitches, the lefty Anderson is coming up, you got your shot, but Snow took it out of you. He comes out, Guby insists on getting the last out, Boone acquiesces. And then:

G Anderson Single to RF (Ground Ball thru 2B-1B)

And then Boone came out and removed Gubicza, and Julio Valera got the last out.

I guess that's a pretty memorable circumstance for Guby, but that's still over a decade ago, and he nailed it.



Well, that was a disaster. Oh well.



Here comes Big Frank, the greatest hitter Nick Adenhart has ever faced. Fastball way outside, then he grooves one that The Hurt fouls back. Brings the fastball back in a couple of times and Thomas breaks his bat and ground out to third. Some nice action on that fastball, and I like the coming inside against Frank Thomas there.

Emil Brown can't hurt a curveball, so Adenhart starts him off with one. It goes about 55 feet. A fastball evens it up, but there is no doubt in my mind that the Angel advance scouts saw Brown struggle with curveballs and thrive against fastballs, because our guys have just been feeding him charlies all series.

Naturally, on 1-1 Adenhart comes up and in with a fastball and Brown shoots it the other way through the 3/4 hole.

Jack Cust will present another test, with his patience. Takes a fastball away, and then another one that only barely misses. And another one up and away and not close -- this is Adenhart's first PA from the stretch, and it's a four-pitch walk.

Napoli on the mound. I spot a small gesture toward the infielders. Wanna bet the message was "Just keep it down, in the zone, and let them hit it. You've got Erick Aybar out there for God's sake." He hits the outside knee against Crosby for strike one, and Napoli points in encouragement. The second pitch misses just a bit low and the ump gets some catcalls from the stands.

The 1-1 curve goes about 55 feet again, then the next one finishes up and in as he overcompensates on the release point. His slowish movement toward home may encourage him to open up that left shoulder early. This draws out Mike Butcher.

Incidentally, some of the things I'm saying here are being said by Phys and Rex, too, almost simultaneously with my typing, so I'm perfectly willing to admit that I'm wrong on everything.

Napoli does Adenhart no favors by declining to block a fastball in the dirt with this Hannahan character up. Then the next fastball misses way high.

This is not good. He's only thrown one curve in the zone, has missed badly on three, and just threw a changeup up at blimp level. The A's can sit on his fastball, which he now misses with way high and away to issue a walk and load the bases.

Now Chone Figgins will talk to him. How many people are going to talk to this kid? Is it going to help? Send me a chopper, Artie, I'll get out there and talk to him.

He starts off Ryan Sweeney with a curve in the zone. It was the top of the zone, though, not necessarily a pitch you want to throw. And then he misses with two straight fastballs, then a curve just outside. A high fastball walks in a run, and he's walked four straight guys, with a wild pitch (that should have been blocked) thrown in for fun. Moseley gets up in the pen.

Adenhart sticks with the stretch. I'd go to the windup here. It's not like the A's are gonna steal home. Wind up and get back to what you know.

He finally puts a couple heaters in the zone, but the second one Suzuki puts on the ground and it eats Quinlan up. 4-0, and Quinlan is about as graceful as Amy Winehouse out there.

Another two high strikes on curves to Mark Ellis. A third one misses down and away, but in the place where you want to miss. Then the fastball misses away, but not a bad miss on 1-2. A high change gets a force play.

Look, if he gets out of the inning, let him stay in. See how he bounces back from a tough inning. I'm not saying run up his pitch count on the day, but let's see him be resilient.

First pitch to Barton -- and I have to go for now. To be continued.



I have no idea if this will bear fruit, but I typed these observations during the first inning, and here they are. Not that anyone will be following along live, but there may be a huge pause in the middle of the game while I attend to other matters.

#34, huh? Shouldn't rookie Angel pitchers all have numbers like 87 and 74?

First pitch time: fastball hits the outside black at 93. Could be worse.

Second pitch is 92, down and away. Had some good downward movement -- and so does the third pitch, hitting the outside corner at the knee.

Grounder to third for out number one -- Adenhart's major league career is off to an infinitely better start than Ervin Santana's.

In the first PA, I focused on the pitches and not the motion. Looking at it against Ellis, is is kinda funky, with that pause on the forward kick. But only kinda.

All fastballs for the first nine pitches, and now he has Ellis 3-2. Doubt we'll see any off-speed here, but it would be pretty ballsy. Sure 'nuf, he sticks with the heat and draws an F-9. What, a flyball out? Get him out of there!

Starts Barton with a 76-mph deuce for a strike, follows up with a 94 two-seamer to induce the 6-3. So far, I like the action on his fastball, and if he locates it right, he can succeed without a plentitude of K's (though I suspect that they will come in time).

Justin Duschererererererer is a starererererer now? When did that happen?



One of my biggest pleasures in life is watching a baseball game, and come midnight tonight, after an evening out, I was very excited to watch tonight's game (fast-forwarding between pitches, of course). Well, either Time Warner's crappy DVR broke down (this is the most unreliable piece of hardware I have ever encountered; I'd rather have an Amiga in charge of my television watching) -- as it neither played nor fast-forwarded from the beginning, freezing on the pre-game color bars -- or Fox Sports HD's wacky signal (I often have problems with that channel when every other channel is fine) contributed to the nonsense.

So I got to, to see if I can watch it there. I bring it up, and there's the line score on the side, but you have to tell it to not hide the line score. Except when it loads, well, the score is there for an instant. So I see the score. Of course, watching it on is pointless at midnight, I can't fast forward (any attempt to do so brings you back to the beginning of the telecast), and for some reason I can't do the thing where you can skip to a half-inning or anything.

And in my inbox I have an email about a great catch being made! So now I'm watching the tail-end of the replay that started at 11 PM. Ugh. But with no suspense or anything. But I'll record the replay from the beginning tomorrow and watch it just out of spite.

Time Warner is really a catastrophe. This is a cable service that can't even figure out what stations they broadcast. Let me tell you a story:

Last fall, when TBS started offering the playoffs in HD, Time Warner saw fit to offer TBS HD for the first time. Good. Unfortunately, they put it on two different channels -- 417, which was previously unoccupied, and 413, which had previously belonged to Fox Sports HD. Not so cool.

Well, Fox Sports HD doesn't have programming all the time, so I waited about a week, and noted that 413 never switched over to Fox Sports HD. I call Time Warner Cable to explain the problem. They tell me that they have no idea that anyone is supposed to be getting these stations, as it's not listed on the website. That's right -- all the techs know is the channel listing on the website, which hasn't been updated in months. They offer to send out a tech to check it out. I know that won't do anything, but agree, anyway, hoping at least to demonstrate the problem.

The guy comes. I show him how TBS HD is on two channels instead of one channel, and how FSN HD is on no channels instead of one channel.

The guy's solution is to switch out boxes. I tell him to take a hike (politely) -- there's no way the box is the issue.

Within a week, the problem was fixed.

So, for a two- to three-week period, Time Warner was basically broadcasting the wrong channels, and had no way of knowing it. And their only solution was to switch out boxes. This is their solution to everything -- switch out the box. "My cable's out," "Switch out the box." "My DVR freezes all the time," "Switch out the box." "My kid has the measles," "Switch out the box." Inept fools.

And now they've ruined what may end up being the best game of the year. Thanks, cocksuckers.



As you have assuredly noticed, I have been pretty inactive here since the end of the 2007 season, a season which had already been notable for inconstant posting.There are several reasons for this. My recent inactivity is assignable to: a chaotic work schedule, which cuts into my posting time; that much of my sports energy is being spent on college basketball; that since the Torii Hunter signing, there has been little that has been particularly newsworthy -- or, even more importantly, analysis-worthy -- in Angels baseball.By themselves, these aren't reasons. I could always take to posting more from home instead of the office (where I really shouldn't be doing it anyway); I've been just as occupied with college basketball in the previous two years as I have been this year; there are plenty of pieces I could have been working on in this time that have to do with historical Angels content instead of current events.But the underlying reason ... let's step back for a second. One of the reasons I started doing this, aside from boredom, was to get a unique look at all things Angel out there. To paraphrase something Bill James once said, it was to tell readers something they didn't know. By which I don't mean to imply that I have some special store of knowledge I dispense at my leisure; my intent was to look at things in a unique way, a personalized way, and share what I found. Sometimes that meant statistical research, sometimes that meant looking at some minor league stats that maybe my readers never got around to looking up for themselves. But I hoped to always come at things from somewhere different than other people were, at the very least. Very often, I did things to find out an answer for myself, and then I just let you all know what I found.On the whole, I'm pretty happy with how it has turned out, especially given that this is nothing more than a hobby (if it even ascends to that level). I had a nice little series on the 1995 Angels (okay, there are really some stylistic horrors in it, particularly in the first section, but copy editing wasn't high on my list of priorities), I looked at Angel bunting and baserunning, I looked at Casey Kotchman and flyballs, and to the best of my recollection I was the first person in the Halosphere to talk about Reggie Willits and Darren O'Day (I also talked up Steve Andrade, but hey). Hell, I even wrote about DeWayne Buice, in probably my favorite entry that I've done, for whatever reason. Not too shabby.But, at this point, I've been doing this for the Vlad Era, and this many years into it, I think I'm pretty much out of things to say. Rally Monkey's better than I am on the stats stuff, Rob has the minor leagues covered with his daily updates, and I can always count on Seitz to criticize John Lackey's pitch selection or the umpires or whatever. Not to mention that Halos Heaven is about as thriving an online fan community can be. I think my capacity to share with my readership something new, and my devotion and energy to finding new things to share, is at a nadir. And the Halosphere has me covered -- I'm sure my twenty or so readers will manage.Who knows, in two or three weeks, with the season in full swing, maybe something will occur to me. Maybe I'll end up doing one piece per month or something. If you have me in your blog reader, keep me there. If you don't have me in it, well, then you probably aren't reading this anyway. If you don't have a blog reader, you should start using one, they're really convenient.And I'm not going anywhere. I still waste time at Baseball Primer, I still read all the other Angel blogs daily, I'll still be recording every game and fighting off every spoiler unt[...]



The news of Francisco Rodriguez saying that he expects this season to be his last in an Angel uniform has spread through the Halosphere like wildfire. I first noted it at BBTF when this OC Register article was linked, which includes the following passage:[T]he Angels have made numerous multi-year offers to their closer over the past three offseasons. General Manager Tony Reagins confirmed that the Angels did make Rodriguez a multi-year offer this winter. That deal is believed to have been in the neighborhood of $34 million for three years. Coming off three consecutive 40-save seasons with more saves than anyone in the majors over that time, Rodriguez was seeking a deal more like the three-year, $45 million contract extension Mariano Rivera signed with the Yankees this past winter.Rodriguez could be a hot commodity as a free agent. With a less impressive track Crecord than Rodriguez has, former Rangers and Brewers closer Francisco Cordero was able to get a four-year, $46 million deal from the Cincinnati Reds as a free agent this offseason.There are people out there doing good work on how much a player should be paid, based on what he contributes to his team. But let's ignore that for the moment, and look at it from the perspective that Frankie and his representatives will be. They want to know who is similar to Frankie, and what they do get paid, not what they should be, necessarily.As you recall, Frankie became the Angel closer in 2005. Over the past three years, he has saved 132 games with an ERA+ of 197. So let's look at pitchers who, from 2005 through 2007, have at least 100 saves and an ERA+ of at least 170; this will be Frankie's peer group.Here they are. There's only four: Joe Nathan, Mariano Rivera, Billy Wagner, and Frankie. Frankie actually has the lowest ERA+ of any of them, though he has the most saves. But let's see what these guys make:Pitcher Yrs Sal Yr SignedNathan 3 16M 2006Rivera 3 45M 2008Wagner 4 43M 2006Nathan wasn't a free agent yet when he signed his current deal, which gave him $5M per year in 2006 and 2007; the club exercised its $6M option for 2007. Rivera and Wagner, however, are making an average of $12.6M per year over their current deals. Though Frankie isn't quite as good as they, or at least hasn't been over the last three years, with salary inflation and his age, one would have to imagine that this would be at the bottom of the range that Frankie would command on the free market come next winter, presuming he stays healthy and performs at a level substantially similar to what he has done thus far.There are five pitchers one step or more down from Frankie, guys who have had 100+ saves over the past three years, but ERA+ numbers below the 170 mark.Pitcher Yrs Sal Yr SignedIsrinhsn 4 33.75M 2005CCordero 1 6.2M 2008Hoffman 3 21M 2006FCordero 4 46M 2008Jones 1 7M 2008Chad Cordero has never been a free agent, so his salary isn't really relevant here. Isringhausen and Hoffman are both on their option years in 2008. Anyway, of the four free agent pitchers in this group, they're making an average of $9M per year.The Angels have offered Frankie just over $11M per year, so they are trying to pay him at a level close to the Big Boys, but not quite matching them; that's much closer to Francisco Cordero than . His performance thus far would justify that, if that's how you're looking to pay your players. However, I would have to assume that Tony Reagins is not an idiot, and knows that there's no way Rodriguez would go for that, especially not in a world that pays Francisco Cordero, a relie[...]



I just made this post at BTF, reflecting my current feeling on the deal:

The more I think about it, the better I feel about this deal:

1. Hunter is probably good for a +5-+10 season above average, offensively.

2. Hunter is, at worst, an average defensive center fielder, and quite possibly +5 or +10.

3. Add it all up, and he's like 3-4 wins better than replacement. If wins above replacement are really close to $5M as guys like Tango and MGL are saying, his contract isn't out of line.

4. Ceteris peribus, Orlando Cabrera-for-Torii Hunter is an upgrade, possibly of 1.5-2.5 wins.

5. This doesn't really afffect the value of Matthews; sure, he gets the positional knock moving over, but he'll also get a gain in defensive value, which will likely balance out.

The potential problem isn't years 1 and 2, but years 4 and 5 (the same is true of the Matthews deal). In five years, Hunter may be a below-average hitter who can no longer handle CF, and then what are you doing with your $16M? In year 4, both he and Matthews will be in that boat (though Hunter will probably be better while Matthews is cheaper). And during this span you need to re-sign Vlad, Lackey, (hopefully) Howie, Kotchman, etc. ... I'm worried about tying up that much money in two guys in their 30s.

But I do think the Angels are better this week than they were a week ago, and I have to believe that one of the Miguels is on their way.



Torii Hunter? Really? What the hell is going on?



Earlier this week, I tried to crack the riddle that is Jon Garland. Let's take a moment to look at what we've lost in Orlando Cabrera, and what we have in-house to replace him.I was skeptical of the Cabrera signing when it happened (we'll explore the whole 2005 Shortstop Carousel next week -- I initially had a big comparison in this post before realizing it was way off-point, even for me, so I'll put it up as its own thing later), but I grew to like him as a player and as a personality on our team. Offensively, even last year, he was no great shakes. He had an 89 OPS+ for us over the past three seasons; AL shortstops were at 88 last year and 92 in 2006 and 98 in 2005. He was -25.2 batting runs against league average over the three years, and also probably a bit below average as a shortstop -- though this largely due to his poor 2005. His defensive numbers were always solid, no longer spectacular, and this matched my visual observations. He was excellent on the basepaths (though I recall a few gaffes last season), and Mike Scioscia considered him one of the smartest players he's ever been around; finding residue of this sort of thing is forbiddingly difficult, but it's certainly possible that Cabrera's knowledge helped young infield defenders learn their craft.All things considered, I'd guess that Cabrera was an average player for us. There were 26 shortstops who played 300+ games over the past three years; Cabrera's OPS+ ranked 17th amongst them. Add in his defense and baserunning, and I think it's probably right around the middle of that group.The way I see it, there are two in-house options for April of 2008, and it's clear which one is better -- or, at least, which one has been better so far. Regardless, the LA Times implied yesterday that the Angels do not agree with me, with Mike DiGiovanna writing, "As of today, [Cabrera] will be replaced by slick-fielding 23-year-old Erick Aybar." He does add the following: "Utility player Maicer Izturis also can play shortstop, and Scioscia said the Angels are considering moving [Brandon] Wood from third base back to shortstop next spring."Okay, let's just take Wood out of the equation for sec; he's not ready. The decision comes down to Aybar versus Izturis, and I just have no idea how you can look at those two and decide on Aybar. Looking at their respective major league performances thus far:Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS+ SB CS BR BR/600Izturis 1104 273 340 386 90 34 10 -14.2 -7.7Aybar 251 239 274 295 50 5 4 -18.0 -43.0Okay, okay, that's not fair to Aybar. He's young, he's been hurt, played irregularly, etc. How about minor league track records?I'll spare you the numbers, but Aybar has actually out-produced Izturis at each age, which appears to be true even when you account for their ballparks. That doesn't mean Aybar will develop just as Ztu did, of course. But Izturis' age 23 season, at the major league level, was roughly equivalent to what we saw from Aybar last year:Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS+ SB CS BR BR/600Izturis 121 206 286 318 53 4 0 - 8.1 -40.2Aybar 211 237 279 289 50 4 4 -14.6 -41.5Izturis made his offensive leap in the minors that year, hitting .338 at AAA, but would not make his major league jump until his age 25 year. I suspect Aybar may have a similar leap within him, but I suspect that it may not happen in 2008, and as a result I suspect that the better alternative, offensively, for next season is Ztu. I'd expect him to be around -5 runs against average; Aybar could be as bad as [...]



Honestly, I'm so shocked by this that I don't even know how to start analyzing it. First of all, it appears that major league baseball teams have the ability to exchange players with other teams. Did you know this?Joking aside, for the second time, the Angels have traded for pitcher Jon Garland. (Recall that before the 2002 season, a deal was in place to trade Darin Erstad for Garland and Chris Singleton, which was smacked down by Tony TavaresPaul Pressler). This time, the bounty is Orlando Cabrera.Did anyone see this coming?Anyway, so now we have Jon Garland in the rotation. I'd like to tell you about Jon Garland, but the fact is I haven't been able to understand him for years, and I'm not about to start now. What do I not understand? For one, how does this guy get people out? Over the last four years, he's only struck out 12% of the batters he'd faced; the AL K'd 17% of batters last year, so he's been consistently below-average in this regard. Last year, despite pitching over 200 innings, Garland only whiffed 98 batters: this was the fourth-lowest strikeout total in baseball for any pitcher that pitched so much. Yet, somehow, Garland succeeds. Over the last four years, he has an ERA+ of 111, and has been approximately 38 earned runs better than average. (He did give up an immense number of unearned runs last year, but that's been out of his norm. We'll get to that at some point, I'm sure).Is Garland an extreme groundball pitcher? Honestly, I had thought he was, but his groundball-to-flyball ratio was only 55th out of the 80 major league ERA qualifiers last year and his groundballs allowed as a percentage of balls in play ranked 19th. However, this was his lowest groundball rate ever, as well as his highest flyball rate (see it all here).As a groundball pitcher, his success may be highly correlated to how the defense behind converts his groundballs into outs. Let's look at his past four seasons:Year K/BF BB/BF HR/BF BABIP ERA+2004 .122 .082 .037 .275 972005 .128 .052 .029 .267 1282006 .124 .046 .029 .311 1052007 .111 .065 .022 .285 1122006 and 2007 provide an interesting contrast; Garland struck out less people and walked more, but did manage to cut down on home runs. That HR improvement is tantamount to roughly 6 HR; assuming 1.4 runs per HR (the linear weight value), that's a savings of .37 points of his ERA -- which would have left his ERA+ at 103, very similar to his previous year's performance. It appears that the frequency by which Garland allows home runs is even more important than the batting average he allows on balls in play behind him; the correlation between his HR/BF and ERA+ (-.49) is slightly stronger than the correlation between his BABIP and his ERA+ (-.43).You see what I mean? You think have something (oh, he's a groundball pitcher, he's heavily dependent on his defense), then you take a deeper look and it's, like, no, you really have no idea what makes this guy tick.Anyway, there's no doubt that having a good defensive shortstop would be an aid to Garland, and quite frankly I have no idea if we have that right now. I mean, I know we have Erick Aybar, but can Aybar hit? We have Maicer Izturis, a league-average hitter, but can he handle short defensively at this point? Or even maintain that offensive performance over a full season. Brandon Wood's a year away, we're not going to rush him, are we?Not knowing what is to come, it's hard to evaluate this move. Does this mean Miguel Tejada will soon be wearing red? Let's see what [...]





Player             Runs    Runs/365
Ryan Zimmerman 35.8 32.8
Pedro Feliz 25.4 27.2
David Wright 19.3 18.6
Aramis Ramirez 16.4 19.4
Mike Lowell 16.1 18.2
Brandon Inge 15.8 15.1
Adrian Beltre 13.5 13.6
Melvin Mora 13.4 16.2
Joe Crede 9.6 31.0
Alex Rodriguez 8.9 9.8
Scott Rolen 6.7 8.5
Troy Glaus 5.2 8.1
Chone Figgins 4.1 7.8
Maicer Izturis 4.0 15.3
Ramon Vazquez 3.2 7.8
Morgan Ensberg 2.2 5.0
Hank Blalock 1.6 7.4
Chipper Jones 0.6 0.8
Travis Metcalf 0.6 1.9
Nomar Garciaparra 0.2 0.6
Eric Chavez -0.1 -0.2
Abraham Nunez -0.8 -1.5
Akinori Iwamura -1.0 -1.4
Wilson Betemit -1.9 -7.2
Chad Tracy -1.9 -7.2
Jack Hannahan -2.5 -9.5
Alex Gordon -3.2 -3.6
Wes Helms -3.4 -10.2
Greg Dobbs -3.4 -10.8
Mike Lamb -4.6 -14.6
Nick Punto -5.0 -7.4
Edwin Encarnacion -5.6 -6.5
Ty Wigginton -7.7 -14.4
Mark Reynolds -9.9 -17.4
Kevin Kouzmanoff -10.8 -13.4
Josh Fields -14.0 -23.4
Jose Bautista -17.6 -18.9
Casey Blake -21.0 -21.8
Ryan Braun -22.4 -34.2
Miguel Cabrera -25.4 -25.7
Garrett Atkins -38.0 -39.3




Player             Runs    Runs/470
Brandon Phillips 34.6 36.8
Chase Utley 17.4 21.1
Orlando Hudson 17.2 19.6
Robinson Cano 16.8 15.5
Ian Kinsler 15.2 16.3
Mark Ellis 15.2 13.2
Aaron Hill 13.6 11.4
Ronnie Belliard 10.9 15.9
Josh Barfield 10.8 13.3
Kaz Matsui 8.6 12.5
Placido Polanco 8.2 9.5
Jose Lopez 7.8 7.8
Jose Valentin 6.4 20.5
Esteban German 4.5 19.0
B.J. Upton 3.9 10.8
Howie Kendrick 3.8 6.7
Luis Castillo 3.4 4.3
Mark Grudzielanek 3.2 4.9
Tadahito Iguchi 3.1 4.2
Mike Fontenot 2.4 7.6
Alexi Casilla 1.8 6.0
Geoff Blum 0.9 2.3
Dustin Pedroia -0.2 -0.3
Brian Roberts -0.3 -0.3
Kevin Frandsen -1.2 -4.9
Danny Richar -1.8 -5.6
Jamey Carroll -2.5 -7.0
Felipe Lopez -4.3 -15.1
Adam Kennedy -4.7 -8.5
Freddy Sanchez -7.4 -9.0
Aaron Miles -8.3 -20.1
Mark DeRosa -8.7 -17.4
Kelly Johnson -8.7 -9.7
Brendan Harris -11.0 -41.5
Jeff Kent -13.1 -16.6
Marcus Giles -14.3 -17.6
Rickie Weeks -14.7 -21.5
Ray Durham -18.0 -24.5
Craig Biggio -19.1 -29.1
Dan Uggla -21.3 -21.5



As I mentioned in the shortstop entry, please use caution in comparing these to anything before 2005; I'm not actually sure when David added "distance" as a parameter for outfielders, so perhaps even 2006 is the only year one can really use as a comparison.

For center fielders:
Player             Runs     Runs/395
Coco Crisp 22.2 23.2
Ichiro Suzuki 21.3 21.4
Curtis Granderson 15.7 15.5
Andruw Jones 7.7 7.9
Juan Pierre 6.9 7.6
Carlos Beltran 5.9 6.1
Jacque Jones 5.6 11.8
Felix Pie 5.2 18.4
Willy Taveras 5.2 10.0
Gary Matthews Jr. 3.9 4.3
Josh Hamilton 3.1 7.5
Mike Cameron 3.1 3.4
So Taguchi 2.8 9.6
Darin Erstad 2.8 10.8
Ryan Church 2.6 9.1
Nook Logan 2.0 3.3
Johnny Damon 1.6 5.2
Dave Roberts 1.0 1.7
Norris Hopper 0.6 1.9
Torii Hunter -0.1 -0.1
Alfredo Amezaga -0.6 -1.2
David DeJesus -0.7 -0.7
Jim Edmonds -1.2 -2.0
Rajai Davis -1.3 -4.0
Hunter Pence -1.4 -2.2
Ryan Freel -1.6 -4.5
Chris Duffy -1.6 -3.6
Aaron Rowand -2.1 -2.1
Mark Kotsay -3.2 -8.6
Melky Cabrera -3.3 -3.7
Jerry Owens -3.5 -6.4
Vernon Wells -3.8 -4.6
Marlon Byrd -4.1 -13.6
Nick Swisher -4.3 -11.7
B.J. Upton -4.5 -8.4
Grady Sizemore -6.1 -5.9
Nate McLouth -6.4 -16.7
Chris Young -7.4 -8.0
Elijah Dukes -7.4 -31.8
Kenny Lofton -8.5 -16.7
Corey Patterson -12.8 -16.9
Bill Hall -14.2 -17.8



David Pinto has started posting his Probabilistic Model of Range figures for teams and individuals, starting the individuals off with the shortstops. Here are the conversions (there's an explanation in the relevant section of the sidebar to your right, as well as figures from past seasons):Player Runs Runs/490Troy Tulowitzki 38.0 33.0Tony F Pena 23.0 25.1Rafael Furcal 20.9 23.0Jason Bartlett 16.9 18.7John McDonald 12.6 21.0Jimmy Rollins 12.4 11.8Jack Wilson 9.7 10.4Jhonny Peralta 7.3 7.1Omar Vizquel 4.7 4.6Orlando Cabrera 3.8 4.1Julio Lugo 3.7 4.2Yunel Escobar 2.7 9.9Adam Everett 1.8 4.1Alex Gonzalez 0.0 -0.1J.J. Hardy -0.3 -0.3Cesar Izturis -0.3 -0.6Bobby Crosby -0.6 -0.9Stephen Drew -0.9 -1.1Mark Loretta -1.0 -2.7Eric Bruntlett -1.4 -5.0Ryan Theriot -1.6 -2.5Marco Scutaro -1.6 -6.4Royce Clayton -2.1 -5.0Hanley Ramirez -2.2 -2.4Yuniesky Betancourt -2.7 -2.8Khalil Greene -2.7 -2.6Edgar Renteria -3.1 -4.2Jeff Keppinger -4.3 -15.4David Eckstein -6.5 -8.9Josh Wilson -7.8 -25.3Miguel Tejada -7.9 -10.3Juan Uribe -8.6 -8.1Jose Reyes -9.0 -8.6Cristian Guzman -10.5 -39.4Felipe Lopez -14.1 -18.3Carlos Guillen -14.4 -17.2Brendan Harris -14.4 -27.9Michael Young -21.8 -21.1Derek Jeter -30.6 -32.5A few points:1. David, along with the individual totals, listed the team totals, which also means that we have the major league-wide totals. This is great; one concern with the first couple of years of these conversions was that I had to guess at what the league average really was in any given season, as David was using multi-year probabilities. This led to weird happenstances where every third baseman was "above average", which makes no sense, so I had to guess at what the average really was. The last two years, David seems to be using one-year probabilities, and in fact major league shortstops were "predicted" to have made 15,904 outs last year when they really made 15,913. This is a negligible difference, and the predicted DER and observed DER are the same for several decimals. (The MLB total also allows me to properly state the number of predicted outs a SS would have in 150 games, which is 490 [actually 491, so sue me for rounding], and what the second column represents.)2. At some point I need to go back and re-code the various PMR models, but David is using something called the "smoothed visitor model", which is I believe the second version of PMR. He did this last year, as well.3. As such, use caution when comparing these figures to years before 2006. I believe the smoothed visitor model was introduced in 2005, so it's the same version -- but my "re-center" of the MLB average was an estimate and not an absolute. This caveat will apply for every position.4. In 2005, we saw, in addition to these figures, groundball-only figures for infielders. For the past two seasons, the figures have been for every kind of batted ball. Zone rating and MGL's Ul[...]



Over the past couple of weeks, I've been posting about the possibility of the Angels acquiring Alex Rodriguez. Recent developments, long-rumored, present us with another potential option for improving the Angel offense.The Florida Marlins are reportedly willing to put Miguel Cabrera on the market.Miguel Cabrera is a young hitter of astonishing quality and achievement. He doesn't turn 25 until April; here are some stats of Cabrera and two other hitters through the age of 24:Player PA OPS+ HR AVG OBP SLGPlayer A 3173 145 140 .316 .365 .543Cabrera 3072 143 138 .313 .388 .542Player B 3156 142 165 .298 .380 .552Player A is Hank Aaron.Player B is Frank Robinson.There are, however, certain negatives to Cabrera:1. His defense.By all accounts, both anecdotal and statistical, Cabrera is a bad third baseman. Per the Baseball Info Solutions data at the Hardball Times, he was approximately 15 plays below the league average on balls in his zone last year, worth over 10 runs (he also had an unexceptional total of plays made outside of his zone, though this doesn't necessarily mean anything). He was approximately -8 plays, or around -6 runs, below average in 2006.2. His conditioning.Miguel Cabrera is progressively becoming a fatter and fatter bastard. This bodes ill for his conditioning, long-term health, and his ability to play defense and run the bases.3. He will cost a fortune -- in players.The Marlins are allegedly seeking a young third baseman, a young pitcher, and a center fielder.It just so happens that the Angels can offer such a package: Brandon Wood, one of Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana, and -- though he may be older than what the Marlins are looking for -- Chone Figgins.This is a steep price, even for a hitter of Cabrera's talents. But while Brandon Wood is looking like the next Dean Palmer (not a bad thing with good glove at either of his potential positions), Cabrera is a sure bet.Of course, trading one of Saunders and Santana would mean we'd have to go out and get a starting pitcher. Intriguingly, Florida is also looking to shop Dontrelle Willis. Would Florida accept a package of Wood, Saunders/Santana, Figgins, and maybe one more mid-level prospect (not Adenhart) for Cabrera and Willis? I suspect they'd think about it. Should the Angels?Let's break this down:- Is Miguel Cabrera a step up from Brandon Wood? Almost certainly.- With Reggie Willits around to caddy Gary Matthews Jr and Garret Anderson, with the payroll flexibility to bring Juan Rivera back to support the corners, and with Maicer Izturis providing roughly league-average production as a infield backup, is Chone Figgins expendable? I like the guy, and he's coming off a big year, but I can't help but answer "yes".- Is giving up one of Saunders and Santana and getting Willits an upgrade or downgrade, and if it's the latter, is it enough to negate the improvement made by adding Cabrera to the lineup?By BB-Ref's linear weights figures, Cabrera has been +46.3, +56.6, and +45.7 runs above average, offensively, in each of the last three years; he's a good bet to be +50 or so in the next couple of years. Dock 10 runs for his D, he's still a +40 player, roughly 4 wins above average. Chone Figgins, whom Cabrera would be replacing in the lineup, over the past three years has been +1.8, -13.4, and +13.4 (these figures include basestealing, but not other baserunning). Even with his defense, I'd gu[...]