Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Spring Training Load Out

We've really taken to this free-flowing style of writing, since clearing our notebook a couple of days ago.

Before we get to any reading, a quick heads-up, our next rotoprofessor post should probably be posted sometime this evening, but I really don't know.

Spring Training is just about over. Teams are packing up their equipment and shipping them back their cities. The six/seven month odyssey that professionals in baseball endure each year can be trying, rewarding, and undoubtedly life-changing. As the 25-man rosters are getting set around the land, many players are losing their jobs or being forced to go to the Minor Leagues for more seasoning. This moment in time reminds me of the Jackson Brown description of life on the road:
We got time to think of the ones we love
While the miles roll away
But the only time that seems too short
Is the time that we get to play
Okay, as the first of many digressions, leading off...

Nice reaction, dude.
Did anyone notice that the Mariners cut Josh Wilson? He's not much of a hitter, but he's always been sure handed. We live in a world with a shortage of capable Major League shortstops, so he should have at least a suitor.

Where will Josh Wilson land?

The Cubs have a whole at 2nd base... it would be great to see them try to improve their defense, but Wilson is almost an automatic out. As a fan, I hope the Cubs pass. St. Louis has a bunch of junk sharing the infield with Pujols. Maybe they'll be interested. I could see a reuniion with the Pirates if they choose to cut ties with Ronny Cedeño and bring back an old team leader. I guess outside of Wilson's agent, friends, and family, I'm basically the only person in the world who cares about this right now, so let's just move on.

*~*~*~*~*~*

No pressure, but we're
all counting on you!
For all you innings counters out there, Andrew Cashner's workload will be monitored this year. The most innings he's ever thrown in a season were the 111 he threw last year

While it does matter the number of pitches and effort per inning, we can expect that Cashner won't get much beyond 120 or 130 innings this season.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Who is the one current set up man who looks likely to become the new closer of his team? I think to be thorough, we have to say that these are the closer/setup men for each team:

Orioles: Gregg/Uehara
Red Sox: Papelbon/Bard/Jenks
Yankees: Rivera/Soriano
Rays: McGee/Farnsworth/Peralta
Blue Jays: Francisco/Rauch/Dotel/Frasor
White Sox: Thornton/Santos/Sale
Indians: Perez/Sipp/Perez
Walden is ready to roll.
Tigers: Valverde/Benoit
Royals: Soria/Tejeda
Twins: Nathan/Capps
Angels: Rodney/Walden
A's: Bailey/Fuentes/Balfour
Mariners: Aardsma/League
Rangers: Feliz/Ogandi
Braves: Kimbrel/Venters
Marlins: Nuñez/Hensley
Mets: K-Rod/Parnell
Phillies: Lidge/Madson/Contreras
Nationals: Storen/Clippard
Cubs: Marmol/Wood
Reds: Cordero/Chapman
Astros: Lyon/Lopez
Brewers: Axford/Saito
Pirates: Hanrahan/Meek
Cardinals: Franklin/Motte
D'backs: Putz/Hernandez/Gutierrez/Demel
Rockies: Street/Lindstrom/Betancourt
Dodgers: Broxton/Kuo
All it takes is a little muscle tweak
from Huston Street to make
Matt Lindstrom relevant again.
Padres: Bell/Adams/Gergerson
Giants: Wilson/Romo/Casillas

Now, that we've thought it through, we feel the most promising ones are Bard, Walden, Madson, League, Matt Lindstrom, Wilton Lopez, (maybe Chapman), and Fuentes or Balfour. I sense a new poll coming soon.

*~*~*~*~*~*

It sounds like Mike Scioscia is leaning towards starting Howie Kendrick at 1st base a lot, while Kendry Morales is out, leaving Mark Trumbo out of the lineup. Kendrick, who normally plays 2nd base would have an infield of Macier Izturis, Erick Aybar, and Alberto Callaspo around the horn. I don't see where the offense is going to come from in that lineup with Wells, Hunter, Abreu, and Mathis providing the rest of the pop.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Opening Day makes Arnold
Jackson feel like Christmas.
The excitement of Opening Day is palatable. I get about as excited as a hid on Christmas Eve. In fact, I think I get more excited than Arnold Jackson looks in the Christmas picture to the left. Opening Day harbors all the feelings of hope and renewal that each new day, new year, and morning is really supposed to bring to humanity. For me, it just happens more on Opening Day than January 1st, Easter, or the first day of Spring.

Someone else who should be looking towards Opening Day is one of our favorite Canadian ballplayers. Yes, we're talking about Justin Morneau. He was having an excellent first half to the season last year, before a terrible concussion knocked him out for the year. In fact, he was unable to do baseball activities during most of the offseason because of his concussion problems. They can be a very scary injury, and we hope for the best. For what it's worth, Morneau recently says that he's feeling much better. It would be great to see him come back and put up more Jimmie Foxx type numbers.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Getting back to the closer/setup-man discussion for a moment again, maybe Joaquin Benoit of the Tigers is a good bet for full-time closer this year. In this Dave Birkett piece, we hear that Jose Valverde's arm hurt for much of last season. Jim Leyland gives him credit for not complaining, but it'll be fans and fantasy owners complaining if Valverde ends up on the DL this year.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Carlos Carrasco yesterday against the spring training Cubs pitched six innings, allowing one run to score on three hits, with no walks and five strikeouts.

Carrasco went to Cleveland, without much else, in the Cliff Lee deal. If he doesn't return some success to the Tribe, they could be looking at a disastrous trade in retrospect.

If you're in a deep roto league, now may be a good time to beat your friends to Carlos Carrasco.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Getting back to the Tigers for a second, it's unclear whether the Motor City has V-Mart Fever, but Lynn Henning reports the the Tigers are seeing a surge in season ticket sales. It looks to be an entertaining summer for baseball fans in Detroit. Best of luck to them defeating the unpleasant South Siders.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Hey, you're not Barry!
I don't really think the details of this Barry Bonds trial are exciting enough right now to scream "Screenplay!", but we all know that one day or another we will be watching this unfold like Eight Men Out did about 69 years after the Black Sox scandal.

Personally, I thought the initial reporting on the Balco discovery was fascinating, while these trial stories are quite boring. I still read them, though. Mostly for quotes to extract that probably no-one finds funny but me, quotes like: "At the defense table, Bonds was spotted trying to hide a grin."

In closing, I'm reminded of a silly joke:

-- Why does California have so many lawyers and New Jersey has so many toxic waste dumps?
-- Because New Jersey had first choice.


Thank you! Tip your waitress. We'll be here all week.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Ranking Pitchers by Win Projections

Awesome reader Gavin emailed a question in today. He writes...
In a real simple season long pool. All it is, is u take 20 pitchers, u get 1 point per win and whoever has the most accumulated wins at the end wins.
Have you seen the Halladay/Ruiz ad?
Any suggestions on the 20 (particularly sleepers)?
People can own the same guy, so likely everyone will own CC, Halladay etc.
I'm not going to spend much time shouting about why predicting pitcher wins is such a crapshoot.

Briefly, it's so unpredictable because luck and unknown future circumstances are such key factors to pitching results, especially with Wins. Not only does a pitcher have to pitch relatively well, on average, but he must also receive enough support from the team's offense, defense, and bullpen to gain a Win.

He may not look like it
here, but Felix is the King
As a recent example, simply look at how well Felix Hernandez pitched in 2010 to win 13 games, compared with how much worse John Lackey or Jon Garland pitched winning 14.

To really do the work, it would be important to factor in a team's projected run support, and maybe assign some value to their team defense projections - if there are such things.

Keeping things simple, what I did for Gavin was averaged out the projected Win totals from Bill James, ZiPS, Marcel, RotoChamp, and Fangraphs fan crowd-sourcing.

Here are the results, remember this is just for pitcher Wins - not overall roto value, in a Top 50 format...

  1. Roy Halladay: 18 wins
  2. C.C. Sabathia
  3. Jon Lester: 17 wins
  4. Justin Verlander: 16 wins
  5. Tim Lincecum
  6. Cliff Lee
  7. Ubaldo Jimenez: 15 wins
  8. Felix Hernandez
  9. David Price
  10. Zack Greinke: 14 wins
  11. Matt Cain
  12. Dan Haren
  13. Jered Weaver
  14. Roy Oswalt
  15. Tommy Hanson
  16. Cole Hamels
  17. John Danks: 13 wins
  18. Clay Buchholz
  19. Clayton Kershaw
  20. Josh Johnson
  21. Francisco Liriano
  22. Tim Hudson
  23. Ricky Romero
  24. John Lackey
  25. Yovani Gallardo
  26. Chad Billingsley
  27. Trevor Cahill
  28. Max Scherzer
  29. Colby Lewis: 12 wins
  30. Ted Lilly
  31. C.J. Wilson
  32. Derek Lowe
  33. Phil Hughes
  34. Mark Buerhle
  35. Carl Pavano
  36. Ricky Nolasco
  37. Matt Garza
  38. Randy Wolf
  39. Gavin Floyd
  40. Gio Gonzalez
  41. A.J. Burnett: 11 wins
  42. Carlos Zambrano
  43. Anibal Sanchez
  44. Dallas Braden
  45. Josh Beckett
  46. Randy Wells
  47. Wade Davis: 10 wins
  48. Brett Myers
  49. Clayton Richard
  50. Brett Anderson
We purposefully omitted Mat Latos and Chris Carpenter due to future injury concerns. If you like one of them, feel free to consider them for yourselves.

We did not penalize Zack Greinke and expect him to have a very strong season after sitting out the first few weeks.

Thanks to Fangraphs and Baseball Think Factory for the statistics!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Clearing the Notebook

Here is a quote I read that struck me as a poignant piece of advice to writers, particularly if you're like me and you have an idea, think about it, read about it, maybe write a little bit about it, then leave it. And, it never comes back to life. I was telling my friend, Josh, the other day, when he asked me how the ol' blog was coming along that it's frustrating to start something and not finish it. I told him I was sitting on over 3,000 words about Albert Pujols. Yeah, believe it or not, with all the sometimes pointless junk that gets posted on this space, I do occasionally censor myself out of pure boredom and insignificance. Okay, before I abandon this piece, here is the quote, taken from the fascinating Still on the Road, by Clinton Heylin.
"The thing to do, as soon as you get into [writing], is to realize you must get out of it. And unless you get out of it quickly and effortlessly, there's no use staying in it. It will just drag you down. You could be spending years writing the same song, telling the same story, doing the same thing... The best songs to me - my best songs - are songs which were written very quickly... Just about as fast as it takes to write it down is about as long as it takes to write it."
--- Bob Dylan, to Paul Zollo, January 1991
Heylin's two-part series, Revolution in the Air and Still on the Road, are must-have's for anyone interested in poetry and/or songwriting.

We're using the excerpt here as an suggested device to lose some inhibitions and clear the notebook, even if there is no point or conclusion to the thought. It's been about 20 months since we've cleared the notebook, and away we go...

Leading off, who is the best Shortstop in the American League? There are a couple of weeks left to vote in the poll, if you haven't already, at the top of the page. We nominated Andrus, Asdrubal, Jeter, Alexei, and grouped everyone else. The poll results are not surprising, but a few numbers I looked at were hard to believe.

Apparently, when considering a players' wOBA, Power/Speed Number, WAR from Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference, OPS+, and UZR, for the past season and the past three seasons, then factor in the wOBA projection from Marcel, the rankings are as such:

Perhaps, we should expect
more from Jed Lowrie.
1. Jed Lowrie
2. Derek Jeter
3. Alexei Ramirez
4. Yunel Escobar
5. Marco Scutaro
6. Cliff Pennington
7. Asdrubal Cabrera
8. Erick Aybar
9. Elvis Andrus
10. Orlando Cabrera

Anyway, I thought that was really interesting, especially for Red Sox Fans. This is a pretty cockamamie formula, but I was considerate enough to give some numbers more weight than others, as well as average the Power/Speed per 600 PA's to try to make everything a rate stat.

Mike Aviles, who's not a Shortstop for the Royals but could probably still play there, ranked 4th in between Alexei and Yunel.

*~*~*~*~*~*

I'm glad the Cubs cut their losses and won't be wasting any real innings on Carlos Silva. What worries me is that maybe there's some truth to his griping that Mark Riggins, and/or presumably Mike Quade, hadn't earned his respect. I do not have Silva's back. I never wanted him on the team, but I'm just worried that the Cubs are running the show with what some people view is a Triple-A manager, a minor league pitching instructor. More importantly, are there pitchers on the staff who feel that way? I'm going to try not to worry about it. Quade is earning more points than demerits in my book lately.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Late, Late Pick Pitching Projections
Just in case any of these guys are on your fantasy radar, here are a few projections numbers we put together:

Carlos Carrasco (ADP: 318)
Bill James: 159 ip, 4.47 ERA, 8.0 K/9, 1.42 WHIP
Marcel: 85 ip, 4.45 ERA,7.0 K/9, 1.39 WHIP
ZiPS: 173.6 ip, 4.87 ERA, 6.7 K/9, 1.45 WHIP

Justin Masterson (ADP: 386)
Bill James: 180 ip, 4.10 ERA, 7.6 K/9, 1.41 WHIP
Marcel: 148 ip, 4.23 ERA,7.4 K/9, 1.39 WHIP
ZiPS: 183.3 ip, 4.37 ERA, 7.5 K/9, 1.44 WHIP

Andrew Cashner (ADP: n/a)
Marcel: 52 ip, 4.24 ERA,8.0 K/9, 1.38 WHIP
ZiPS: 68 ip, 3.84 ERA, 7.8 K/9, 1.41 WHIP

Wade Davis (ADP: 326)
Bill James: 163 ip, 4.09 ERA, 7.3 K/9, 1.38 WHIP
Marcel: 148 ip, 4.01 ERA, 6.6 K/9, 1.31 WHIP
ZiPS: 177.3 ip, 4.52 ERA, 6.4 K/9, 1.42 WHIP

Cory Luebke (ADP: n/a)
Marcel: 60 ip, 3.98 ERA, 7.8 K/9, 1.32 WHIP
ZiPS: 124.3 ip, 4.71 ERA, 5.9 K/9, 1.42 WHIP

Erik Bedard (ADP: 378)
Bill James: 66 ip, 3.55 ERA, 8.9 K/9, 1.27 WHIP
Marcel: 68 ip, 3.71 ERA,7.9 K/9, 1.28 WHIP
ZiPS: 55.3 ip, 3.58 ERA, 8.8 K/9, 1.30 WHIP

*~*~*~*~*~*

From the non-News department, Kerry Wood is throwing a cut fastball. He started throwing it a long time ago, and learned much of how to throw it last season, working with Mariano Rivera. Like I said, it's not news, but it's been on my mind, and I think as Cubs fans there are few things to genuinely be excited about. The 8th and 9th innings, with a lead, could be a lot of fun this season.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Bob Dylan (to Leonard Cohen): "How long did it take you to write 'Hallelujah'?"
Cohen: "About two years... How long did it take you to write 'I and I'?"
Dylan: "Fifteen minutes."

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

To wrap things up, we will foreshadow the sharing of some terrific stories from the Negro Leagues. It's been an interest for most of my life and I've been exposed to more literature lately, so how could I not share it with the five or six of you who have gotten to this point in this rambling essay.

Two prizes, please comment, which version is better? The first or second? Thanks!



Root for the Local Kid: Mark Trumbo

An awesome reader on Rotoprofessor, named John, left an enlightened comment on our Rookies post. He writes:
"What about Mark Trumbo? Had a good spring. Has an opportunity. Any chance he sticks with the Angels after Morales is healthy?"
This is really becoming quite a habit. It feels like every time I do a post on a group of players, I'll omit at least one person worth discussing. I wanted to check Trumbo's backstory, but first responded to John on with the following:
"Excellent point, John. Mark Trumbo certainly looks like he deserves an opportunity. Last season in AAA he went .301/.368/.577, with 70 extra base hits (36 HR’s). It’s a good hitting environment, but doing that as a 24-year old is impressive.
To answer your question, though, I don’t think he will get everyday AB’s after Morales gets back. LF, RF, 1b, and DH will be taken by Wells, Hunter, Morales, and Abreu.
Maybe Trumbo will get a lot of playing time if he rotates into those four positions as the veterans get days off or have injuries of their own to deal with.
Trumbo’s projections don’t jump off the page, so roster him with cautious optimism.
Bill James: .270 BA, .318 OBP, 18 HR
ZiPS: .248 BA, .298 OBP, 21 HR
Marcel: .253 BA, .324 OBP, 5 HR"
Finding that Trumbo is a local kid helps with rooting factor.

Too bad Trumbo can't play 3rd
He was a high-school kid from nearby Orange, CA, when the Angels drafted in the 18th round.

The reason he was available so late in the draft is not because of questionable tools or abilities. In fact, he was an enticing dual-threat, as a player who could hit for power and pitch in the low-to-mid-90s. He wasn't selected any earlier because teams were certain that it would take a lot of money to lure Trumbo away from his commitment to a USC scholarship. Rolling the dice, the Anaheim Angels drafted and signed the kid with a $1,425,000 signing bonus.

Good for them. It's always good to have truly homegrown talent on the Major League roster. It's very organic.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Inaugural Post on Rotoprofessor

Hey folks, so we've never done this before...

The Braves are reloading, and
Freddie Freeman is a big part of it.
I wrote a fantasy article, for Rotoprofessor.com, taking an in depth look at the projected 2011 Major League rookie class. We didn't want to just rate upcoming rookies, or tell roto players whom to target in drafts. Instead, the idea was to look at which appealing rookies are the ones to stay away from. Too many times in the past, I've had a rookie, or four, on my roster who just weren't ready for prime time, so to speak. So, it's not like we're staying safe and saying "Don't draft Darwin Barney". Rather, we're trying to stay disciplined by avoiding upside hype because some high-prized prospects aren't ripe for the picking.

If you get a minute, please check out the post here on Rotoprofessor and let me know either here, or there, if you have any feedback.

Spoiler alert!

The details are in the Rotoporofessor column, but these are basically the groups we put the players in...

Draft (all leagues): Jeremy Hellickson, Freddie Freeman and Craig Kimbrel

Draft (most leagues): Aroldis Chapman, Danny Espinosa, Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Mike Minor

Watch (pick up if given opportunity): Mike Moustakas, Brandon Belt, Julio Teheran, Jesus Montero, Tyler Matzek, Manuel Banuelos, Desmond Jennings and (with a bit more trepidation) Lonnie Chisenhall and Dustin Ackley.

And... drum roll please...

Intriguing but Avoid: Chris Sale, Kyle Drabek, Domonic Brown, Michael Pineda, J.P. Arencibia, Brett Wallace, Chris Carter, Cory Luebke, and Matt Dominguez.

Note: Mike Minor and Cory Luebke are slowly moving into the Watch list from different directions.

Cory Luebke keeps sounding like a better and better option.
If we don't share again until next week, have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Today's Birthdays vol 2

We got such a positive response to our birthday post last week, and today is a monumental birthday, that we decided to do it again. This is going to be a long one, September 23rd is a monumental day for the great game of baseball; check it:

We remembered Bo Diaz in this post.

Old School South Siders may remember Bruce Howard.

Happy Birthday, Chile!!!

Chris Turner of the California Angels

I wonder if Osh knows Danny Coombs

Dan Shannon
looked better
in person.

Doc Smoot, no relation

Farmer Weaver looks like a bad mother ------.

Frank Parkinson is one of many
Philadelphia Phillies born today.

George Scott played in 3 All-Star games,
won 8 Gold Gloves, and was the 1966
American League Rookies of the Year.

Gavvy Cravath had a remarkable career.

Jack Meyer is representing The ILLadelphia.

Jim Lemon played for some really bad teams.

This is Joe Gunson of the 1889 Kansas City Cowboys

Joel Peralta is looking good in LIFE Magazine

Johnny Logan made four All-Star teams.

Not that he would have ever known, but
Johnny Moore had a nice 110 Career OPS+.

Lee Andrew May turned 68 today.

I saw Mike Remlinger at Mia Francesca a few hours
after a game once. He seemed like a really nice Dad.

How awesome does Mike Smith look?

Pat Bourque primarily played for the A's and Cubs.

This is the old baseball card for
Peaches Graham of the Boston Doves

Ramon Ortiz is 38 and still trying to play.

Ray Kremer's first name was Remy. For his
career, he played 10 seasons, all in Pittsburgh,
and went 143 - 85 with a 3.76 ERA.

Sam Bowens looks like he's not there to mess around.

This is Tony Pena, Jr - former Royals Shortstop,
current minor league relief pitcher. (exciting!)

Danny Moeller looks like he enjoyed DC a hundred years ago.

Mark Buerhle turned 32 today. Perfect.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Notes Flying to Hong Kong

The following is a collection of notes that I typed into my blackberry a couple of weeks ago amid a 30+ hour trip to the first stay of our trip in Nusa Dua, Bali. Earlier today, my friend asked for details about the flight which reminded me that I jotted some of my thoughts down into my blackberry. If you're interested, at all, please feel free to peruse the mindless thoughts of a mildly stressed, red wine infused, and cramped traveler:

I'm sitting on an airplane, flying halfway round the world to my honeymoon in Bali, and reading about the Negro Leagues. (I know. I know. If you had a nickel for every time you heard that one.)

Kids, ask your teachers
about Turkey Stearnes.
The Negro Leagues are fascinating. Somehow, I'll find a more efficient and entertaining way to share the best of what I read over this trip.

I don't mean to get off track here, but it has been a long flight, and we're not even halfway there.

Some good news, Cathay Airlines is pretty sweet. They have outstanding, genuinely friendly people as flight attendants. The in-flight entertainment system here is outstanding.* There are about 90 movies to choose from, including some Hong Kong classics. Cathay has New Releases like The Social Network and Morning Glory, as well as modern day classic films like Miller's Crossing and The Big Lebowski. There are current and older TV shows, children's programming, and interactive games. The system are hundreds of music CD's, and you can save songs or entire albums to playlists. I currently have a playlist lasting 8 hours and 17 minutes, which is not bad for having about 7 hours left on the flight.

*If it works.

Now that's a good flipside song.
Oh jeez, music just transported me mentally from 'here' to 'there' in less than two minutes. Bob Dylan got to me again. This has been the umpteenth thousandth time that I've heard Queen Jane Approximately, and yet I was blown away again only about 1:45 into the tune.

It has been obvious to me for years and years that I am growing up to become a full blown curmudgeon, especially musically. Most of the music I like is older than I am, but I generally like about one or two new songs each year. In my playlist, I have relatively recent contributions from Florence and the Machine and Mumfred and Sons. Where are the Avett Brothers?

Tonight, let's close out with the maestro:

Then take me disappearin’ through the smoke rings of my mind
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves
The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow


Monday, March 14, 2011

Today's Birthdays

In our most recent latent form of narcissism, here's a quick glimpse at people who share a birthday today.