Baseball Wrap-Up

The year of baseball is over. The MVPs were announced and I just wanted to rub it in to everyone who argued for Bobby Abreu (I am looking at you Ryan), that the writers made the smart choice and voted for Joe Mauer. Back when I wrote this post, I made strong points for Greinke, Lincecum, Pujols, and Mauer winning their respective awards and it looks like I was correct.

I also want to point out that, while my friends do not believe in any of the advanced metrics to evaluate players, some writers actually do. Keith Law was on Colin Cowherd talking about how he used the advanced pitching metrics to distinguish between NL pitchers. He also said that he voted Carpenter fourth place because he felt that the Cardinals skipping him in rotation at times to keep him healthy (while smart for the team) hurts his chance at the Cy Young. I just thought that was interesting tidbit.

Now we move to the off-season, and we debate who will sign which free agents and we get excited because the Pirates signed someone. I will ask this question to you all, of the players on this list, which should the Pirates try for? I have some thoughts, but I will discuss them in the comments.

11 thoughts on “Baseball Wrap-Up

  1. ya, abreu really shit the bed for my all my other candidates suck berating…if nothing else he had a very successful season on a very successful team that probably would not have been as good if he weren’t there. But, the Angels had so many players step up this year that…uuuuuuhhhhhhh…josh you were right(do you have any idea how much that hurts)

    As for the Free Agents, I think the Pirates should look at the following and my reasons behind them:

    Catching: Brad Ausmus/Ivan Rodriguez-the pirates need a back up catcher and hopefully they can find one that can manage any pitching staff and has a history of gold gloves…Ivan would be really hard to get.

    Third Base: Adrian Beltre/Nomar Garciaparra: Adrian has pretty much sucked at life since he smashed a(steroid ridden??) 48 home runs for the dodgers before going to the AL. Maybe the Pirates could get him cheaply? My reasoning for Nomar isn’t for the star-factor, because lets face it…Nomars star has fizzled, but I think he could be a solid utility player for cheap and be productive when he plays. He could even fill in a starting role down the road if injuries occur.

    Pitching: Casey Fossum/Rich Harden/Pedro Martinez: Casey Fossum would be a solid left handed reliever for late in the games, and could even take over a closing role in necessary. Rich Harden is only a type B free agent, so the pirates wouldn’t have to give up anything valuable to sign him. Though out of everyone on my list, he would end up being the most expensive. Pedro showed he could still pitch, atleast in the NL. He could be a solid 3-4 type pitcher and offer invaluable veteran leadership and experience our rotation desperately needs. The biggest questions with Pedro are, is he willing to play for a perennial loser and how much money is he willing to accept to play for a small market.

  2. Pedro will not play for the Pirates. Everyone else on your list sets the Pirates back from what they are trying to do. Management loves Jaramillo (as we saw with the superior Diaz being cut) so they won’t sign a backup catcher. I like DeRosa in a utility role but he’ll get too much money from another team. They most likely won’t take any Type A guys because of money and losing a pick. I think they could take a shot on the following players:

    DeRosa, Khalil Greene (from pittsburgh, would probably accept a backup role at this point), Crosby, Melvin Mora, Layne Nix, Ankiel (to hold a spot until Tabata is ready). They will need someone to take Karstens spot as the “white flag”, so I could see maybe Kip Wells or Brett Tomko coming in, and they will probably grab a lefty reliever. I would like Beimel but most experts seem to think he is overrated. I agree that Fossum could work.

    Overall, I doubt they’ll sign too many players, my ideal starting lineup next season would be:

    CF McCutchen
    2B Imwamura
    1B Jones
    C Doumit
    RF Ankiel
    LF Milledge
    3B LaRoche
    SS Cedeno / Greene

    With Alvarez and Tabata coming up in May to take Ankiel and LaRoche’s spots. Also, by then Jaramillo will be starting because Doumit broke a pinky or something, so Alvarez may have to step into the cleanup role very quickly.

    The starters are all but set already:

    Duke
    Ohlendorf
    Maholm
    Hart
    Morton

    Capps as the closer (did you know he is only 26?? Seems like he is 35)

    Then a number of people fighting for bullpen spots in spring training or free agency.

    That’s how I see it so far. Lineup is basically the same as they ended last season for the first few months, so they will most likely have a .150 winning percentage at that point…

  3. Rich Harden is a guy that I had in mind. Lineup wise, Ankiel could be a nice pickup.

    Here is a thought, two thinking outside the box ideas. I want you guys to actually think about them and not just jump to the standard baseball thinking.

    1) Why not sign a guy like Harden and use a 6 man rotation. You cut down on the innings pitched, which helps save arms, and you get guys extra rest and you allow yourself to juggle pitching match ups more.

    2) This is an idea my dad said one time, and it is so far out there, it might just work. Instead of going with a traditional rotation, why not just have everyone pitch 1-2 innings per game. It seems like most guys can be pretty dominate once through a lineup, but then they fall apart. Your “starter” goes innings 1-3, second starter, 4-6, third 6-7, then you bring in your actual relievers.

    Aside from the fact that if you are winning, the guy after the fifth will get the win (you can alternate those spots around).

    I realize it is a crazy idea, but I figured it would be fun to toss around how you could make that work. And no, we do not need to discuss things like when a pitcher comes out and is dominant should you leave him. Screw that, be dominant every game for 2-3 innings, more impressive than one 7 inning shutout then an eighth inning meltdown (I’m looking at you Paul Maholm).

  4. I can’t speak for Ryan, but I think that plan has come across most avid baseball fans’ minds at one point or another. There are a number of problems with that thinking though:

    There is a reason a certain pitcher has been dubbed a “starter” – he simply has the best stuff on your pitching staff.

    According to your method, say you have a 12 man pitching staff, you throw 5-6 pitchers a game meaning a pitcher has to throw every other game. One plan would be to use the “starters” for 2 innings, so if you have 6 starting pitchers throw 3 of them 1 game equaling 6 innings, then 3 relievers throwing 1 inning each game. That’s a great plan in theory.

    However, if any of those pitchers has a bad inning, can’t get out of one, etc, your whole plan is messed up – pitchers will have to throw extra innings. This is also assuming you have 6 relievers that can competently throw 80 innings in a season. Would you feel good with Donnie Veal pitching 80 innings? Our best reliever last year, Chavez, only threw 67. Forget lefty specialists, so you need to spend a ton of money to get all these quality relievers. There are just too many other problems with it as well – injuries, relying too much on crappy pitchers, not utilizing a guy like Ohlendorf who even though he throws 6-7 innings, still has a lower ERA than most of the guys pitching 1, and so on.

    Now, that is not saying there are not other interesting pitching strategies to look at other than the norm, but come on, genius managers such as Tony LaRussa, among others, stick with the conventional system for a reason. Do you actually think a passing thought by fans is smarter than what the coaches have been doing for a hundred years? LaRussa freaking moved a pitcher into the 8th spot in the lineup, do you really think he wouldn’t defy convention if he thought it was a better plan?

    Here is one idea I could think of that might be a little better, using the Pirates as an example.

    1) Have 7 starters on your rotation, 2 very good ones that are unselfish and willing to do anything for the team (unlikely). I’ll call these 2 guys “middles” for now
    2) Have 5 relievers, including 1 solid closer, 1 lefty specialist, 2 solid righties, and 1 “white flag” in case your starter can’t get through the first or second inning
    3) The starting pitcher will pitch through the opposing lineup 2 times. On average, I would say this gets you 4-5 innings. Starters will pitch every 5 days as normal
    4) Your quality middle pitchers will throw every other day. They will pitch one time through the order, which takes you to hopefully 6-7 inning. One of your relief pitchers can jump in if needed to get you to seven innings
    5) Through a combination of your lefty specialist and 2 relievers, get to your closer in the 9th and finish off the game
    6) Give the starter the possibility of pitching further if he is completely dominating, and likewise for your middle guy

    (One issue would be extra innings since you are stretching your staff every night)

    Pirates Example (fyi this plan works MUCH better for a good team, such as the Yankees). This includes a few free agent additions.

    SP Duke, Maholm, Hart, Morton, Lincoln/McCutchen
    MP Harden, Ohlendorf
    WF Jakubauskas
    LS Beimel
    RP Hanrahan, Meek
    CL Capps

    Since the starters are only pitching 4-5 innings each game, you could probably go to a 4 man rotation and add one reliever to handle short outings be the starter/middle combo.

    And all this assumes you have some very unselfish players…

    What do you think?

  5. First, let me say again that I have thought about the second idea multiple times and already came up with the reasoning why it wouldn’t work, like i said, I just like the “thinking outside the box” exercise.

    That being said, I do believe that coaches, GMs, etc…sometimes fall into the conventional thinking and refuse to listen to new ideas. If you go back to the 60s-70s and discuss the idea of a lefty specialist, people would think you were crazy. There are still coaches who think that it is a good idea to have someone bunt a runner over to second when there are no outs (especially a number 2 hitter), when there is data that clearly shows your chances are better of scoring with a man on first, 0 outs, than with a man on second and 1 out…

    I do like this idea. Unfortunately, finding an unselfish pitcher would be very hard. Young pitchers would not be fine with it since renegotiating contracts (especially during arbitration) depends a good bit on statistics…

  6. Haha think about this statement for a minute:

    “there is data that clearly shows your chances are better off scoring with a man on first, 0 outs, than with a man on second and 1 out”

    That data is invalid because the 2 scenarios are not mutually exclusive. Man on second with 1 out is a possible outcome of man on first 0 outs.

    If you changed the statistic to comparing:

    Ho: Chance of scoring with a runner on first and 0 outs, given that runner will not be bunted over to second while the batter is out at first

    Ha: Chance of scoring, given a runner on first was bunted to second with 0 outs, while the batter is out at first

    (Ho and Ha are statistical terms for Null Hypothesis and Alternative Hypothesis, but we don’t need to get into that…)

    The reasoning is that even if the number 2 batter bunts the ball, there are a number of scenarios that could occur other than the runner moving over to second, or the bunter getting thrown out at first, such as bunt strikeouts, bunt basehits, fielders choices, etc.

    That is not saying I don’t partially agree, but I’d have to see the data to believe it. I think you have a better chance of scoring ONE run by bunting a runner over with no outs, and a better chance to score more than one run by choosing not to bunt, but the odds of SCORING ANY RUNS has to favor bunting…Overall, in my opinion, I would think the expected value favors not bunting because…well it’s a formula that I’m not going to get into because this already ran on way longer than I meant it to…

    And I am not trying to be condescending, sometimes I just like putting my masters degree to use since I don’t use it at all at my job…

  7. Well they seem to have disproved my expected value argument. I will accept the study at face value because there is no way I am reading all that. I’m sure I can find a ton of validity issues with it because that is what I spent 2 years doing, but basically no statistical study is perfect, which is why you can never actually “prove” anything by statistics. This seems pretty in depth though and unless they had an ulterior motive – such as really wanting to disprove bunting because they were raped by a bunted ball as a child – it is good enough for me.

    And for the record, if it was the first inning and I had my leadoff hitter on first, I would definitely not bunt. 9th inning down by 1 run with your leadoff hitter on first with no outs and a good bunter hitting 2nd, and a strong #3 guy that matches up nicely…well…to each his own.

    And also, I think managers have gotten the hint because not many bunt nowadays, so it seems. How many bunts did Derek Jeter put down last year? I’m willing to bet it was slim to none. (Looked it up, he had FOUR sacrifice hits (of which bunts are included) in 716 plate appearances)

  8. DAMN IT! I just had a huge comment, and accidentally cleared it.

    I do remember a few games where McLouth led off with a hit, and Sanchez would bunt him over. Why would you take the bat out of the guy who won the batting title’s hands? Basically like saying “we have no faith in your hitting abilities.”

    Yes, bunting for the pitcher, or in a close, late inning situation (I think the tables at the bottom are broken down by inning) are acceptable and smart strategies.

    Damn, I wish that comment would have been saved.

  9. Sorry dude. Sometimes I copy the long ones into notepad since there are always errors with sending.

    And btw, not that it matters because you won anyway (nice job!), but Pierre Garcon had 8 more pts than Manningham, as I suggested.

  10. I usually do copy them before I post, but I was typing, and meant to hit shift something, and hit control something that refreshed the page…

    Yeah, I saw that as well. I tossed it up for many a sleepless night (or 3 minutes), and knew that whichever player I took, I would end up regretting it.

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