Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Off In LA LA Land

I know that I'm not breaking any news by telling you that over the past few seasons, the Dodgers rank among one of the worst run franchises. With the massive, but illogical and sporadic, payroll cutting that has occurred as Frank McCourt prepared for his inevitable little-less-painful-than-Tiger payout for his divorce, I have surprised no one with my first sentence. That last run-on, however, maybe surprising to some, as you can clearly tell I lost my train of thought a good seven or eight times. Work with me, I'm shaking off some of the writing rust.

I understand the cost cutting initiative McCourt has forced upon his less than genius GM, Ned Colletti. There's certainly nothing wrong with it, it's a part of the business and/or divorces. The problem is that if they are going into a cost cutting mode, don't you think that the Dodgers should be doing a better job of it?

They only have to look down the road (I know it's kind of far because California is unfathomably huge) to see the model of re-building and cost cutting Billy Beane and the Athletics accomplished in Oakland. Now, I realize that things like sabermetrics, numbers, math, and logic may be out of Colletti's range of comprehension, which makes the Athletics model tough for the Dodgers.

That's why they could have seen what the Florida Marlins have done essentially every year in their existence and copied accordingly. There's certainly nothing terribly difficult about trading off the good players and huge contracts a team currently has for a boatload of random young players and hoping something happens, right? I mean, I feel like a chimp throwing darts against a wall could accomplish this task while saving money and fielding a team of (hopefully) humans.

But getting rid of the current, large contracts on a team is not the only part of cost cutting. The team also has to use their money wisely in the offseason and make smart free agent pickups. And it would be hard for one to argue that this is the strategy the Dodgers have taken so far.

Just look at the contracts that the Dodgers, who are supposed to be cutting money, signed this offseason:
Rod BarajasC
1year   $3.25MM
Juan CastroSS
1year   Minor
Dana EvelandSP / RP (Left-Handed)
1year   Minor
Jon GarlandSP
1year   $5.00MM
Jay GibbonsLF
1year   $0.65MM
Matt GuerrierRP (Right-Handed)
3years   $12.00MM
Tony GwynnCF
1year   $0.68MM
Hiroki KurodaSP
1year   $12.00MM
Ted LillySP
3years   $33.00MM
Dioner NavarroC
1year   $1.00MM
Vicente PadillaSP
1year   $2.00MM
Juan Uribe2B
3years   $21.00MM
Eugenio VelezLF / CF
1year   Minor



On the surface, most of those signings look alright. The Velez/Gwynn/Gibbons/Eveland/Castro signings seem fine since they are simply filling organizational depth. However, they have to spend that money because of terrible decisions in the past that gutted the team's minor league system (ahem, the Carlos Santana throw-in). That undernote makes those signings hurt in the end.

Then you have the idiotic Barajas signing. Please note this point, teams trying to cut payroll/turn the corner: do NOT spend $3.5 million on a pudgy, old catcher who can't stay healthy simply because he played better than your oft-injured but extremely overrated young catcher. Especially since Barajas became completely unnecessary once Navarro signed his contract later.

Now on to the glaring bad spots of the offseason:
1. WHY THE HELL ARE THE DODGERS PAYING $12M FOR HIROKI KURODA NEXT YEAR!?!? When I first learned of this signing in the offseason, I knew that the recession was officially over.
2. Let's hand another $33M to an aging left-hander in Ted Lilly. The left-handed starter pool of free agents was extremely shallow this year, but I think I established that the Dodgers are trying to save money and sudo-rebuild. Handing $33M to Lilly isn't going to help either of those causes. Although I do think that Lilly is a solid starter, a team with clear and realistic intentions of competing next year should have been giving him a contract, not the Dodgers.
3. Matt Guerrier is seriously the worst contract handed out this entire offseason. Hands down, a replacement-level reliever should never ever be given $12 million guaranteed.
4. What's the plan with that Uribe signing? Do they really see him being productive in the last two years of that contract, because I certainly don't. I get the feeling that it was a move to block the Giants from re-signing him. Revenge signings are not an intelligent move for teams that need to learn good roster management skills.

All in all, the signings were not good for the Dodgers this offseason. But they also should have been attempting to dump some of their current payroll. Between Rafael Furcal and Casey Blake, you have to think they would be able to find a suitor for one of the two players. In fact, I bet the Red Sox would love to have both, and they don't give a fuck about money, so they may pick up the tab, too. This is where the Florida Marlins strategy of turning a starter into a handful of minor leaguers could ultimately benefit the Dodgers right now.

After sifting through all of this Dodgers information, I think it is possible for the Dodgers to compete in their rather weak division while also cutting money. If they had the right people running the show, things could get turned around. However, it seems more likely that they are using the McCourt divorce and corresponding cost cutting as a scapegoat for their failures, which are supposedly so crippling that they couldn't have overcome them. But ultimately, the Dodgers will not be competitive in the NL until they realize that there is a lot more overhauling that needs to be done with this team other than cost cutting.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

FJM: Strange But Horrible

I haven't done this for awhile, mainly it takes quite a long time to sift through baseball writings and find complete shit thrown at a page just to meet a quota. While finding a writerhorrible views on every sport take complete control of sports. While Jayson Stark isn't the bottom of the barrel over at ESPN, he has a tendency to compile some horseshit, which ESPN always puts on their front page. I'm not going to go through the entire piece, but trust me when I say this, every single section begins with the worst most translucently contrived statement Stark could possibly write. By the third section I'm sharpening my knife for some stripper murdering. who consistently writes complete crap isn't all that difficult, I would much rather spend my time reading articles with thought- on Fangraphs- than mindless space filling dribble. And then there is ESPN. They openly allow people with horrible views on every sport take complete control of sports. While Jayson Stark isn't the bottom of the barrel over at ESPN, he has a tendency to compile some horseshit, which ESPN always puts on their front page. I'm not going to go through the entire piece, but trust me when I say this, every single section begins with the worst most translucently contrived statement Stark could possibly write. By the third section I'm sharpening my knife for some stripper murdering.

Hitting some strange patches in 2010


A Molina brother hit for the cycle. A Pirate got tagged out in the middle of a home run trot. And the same baserunner stole third -- and got caught stealing third -- in the same inning. And if all that could happen in one year, it's just more proof it was another Strange But True kind of season. So what better excuse to look back at the Strangest But Truest Hitting Feats of 2010.

So, you are saying that weird things sometimes happen in baseball???? I am completely flabbergasted by this revelation. Please Jayson tell me more. (Side Note: Is there any better way for parents to ensure that their child ends up as a douche bag than inserting an unnecessary "y" into their child's name? Side Bet: First writer to do this to their child is Mr. Anonymous, whose third child will be named Karyn. Female douche spelling.)

The Very Strangest But Truest Hitting Feat Of The Year


Here is the segment which forced me to FJM this...

Every once in a while, a stat erupts in baseball that's so mind-warping, it feels like it must have been dreamed up by the guys who created "Lost." But there's a reason we crank out these Strange But True columns every darned year. And it's all because stuff like this happens, in real life.

Everything about these three sentences is terrible. Please do not dirty a fantastic program like "Lost" by using it in your shitty column ever again.

So here it comes, a little tidbit we've broken out before. Heck, we confess we've even broken it out before this week. But every time we type it, we still have trouble believing it. So we're rolling it out there one more time.

Preface: the players he compares and expects you to be shocked about will be completely un-shocking you will begin looking for your old timey revolvers.

Please note that JaYson decides to start his first informative sentences with the following words: So, Heck, But, and So. I am not a terrific writer, however, that is a complete shit storm.

It involves our man Ichiro Suzuki.

He got the most hits in the American League last season. No shocker there.

Yet he still, somehow, scored fewer runs than the man who got the fewest hits in the National League (among players who qualified for the batting title).

Ok, maybe that is interesting. I don't know the player in the NL who had the fewest hits, so this could be surprising.

Seriously.

Totally.

It makes no sense, but it's a 100 percent true fact.

I like my facts to 100 percent false facts, but I will concede to your higher education that true facts may be better than false facts.

Ichiro: 74 runs, 214 hits
Mark Reynolds: 79 runs, 99 hits

Is baseball the Strangest But Truest sport ever invented, or what?

Um, no. This isn't strange at all. Ichiro played on a horrible team that scored a historically low amount of runs. Reynolds is the definition of a 3 True Outcomes player (Home Run, Walk or Strike Out) and he hit in the middle of the Diamondbacks order for the most of the year. I would expect him to have a low amount of hits and high amount of runs. That is why Runs are a bad individual stat. Runs are a good team stat, just like RBI's. Theya re a terrible individual stat for this exact reason. None of this screams strange, but thank you for wasting my time and doing it in the absolute least journalistic way possible.

The rest of the article is bad, but here are some things that make you wonder how JaYson Stark got to this level of journalism...

Strangest But Truest Trip Around The Bases Of The Year


On Aug. 11, Astros sprint champ Michael Bourn pulled off a feat we've never heard of. You should try it on your Xbox 360 sometime -- except, of course, that you should be aware there's an excellent possibility it might blow up.

Zingers. I fucking love zingers.

Strangest But Truest Home Delivery Of The Year


We're still not sure how this happened.

I'm still not sure why you are insisting on introducing every "Strange" feat with disingenuous shock.

On Sept. 9, September call-up -- and emergency pinch-runner -- Chris Nelson almost single-handedly won a game for the Rockies in which he never batted and never wore a glove.

By doing something he'd never done before in his life.

Dramatic pause...

By pulling off a straight steal of home.

Dramatic pause...

To score the winning run.

Dramatic pause...

In his team's final at-bat.

Dramatic pause...

For the first stolen base of his career.

Dramatic pause...


Pretty amazing feat. But there's more.

Dramatic pause...

It was Nelson's only steal of the year, in 17 games in the big leagues.

Dramatic pause...

He stole only seven bases in the minors. And five the year before that. And six the year before that.

Wait, we are done with the 1 sentence paragraphs?

And he'd never stolen home anywhere, any time, not even in T-ball.

Zingers.

Oh, and he was the first player in 25 years to steal home in a game in which he never batted or played the field. (Gary Pettis was the last, on June 11, 1985, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.)

So how strange was that? But still as true as it gets.

Remember the last time something shocking happened to you and you were like, "Heck, man, that is as True. As. It. Gets." That is SHIT compared with the truth that was just laid before you.


Strangest But Truest Cyclist Of The Year


Never get tired of mentioning this.

How would you even classify these? Rhetorical comments? Let's just call them Steaming Piles of Stark.

Strangest But Truest Debut Of The Year


It was the most heartwarming Strange But True tale of 2010.

HOW STRANGE BUT TRUE WAS IT??????

In September, the Dodgers called up 33-year-old rookie John Lindsey, after 16 years in the minor leagues. And on Sept. 8, he made his long-awaited big league debut.

By playing in a game he never played in.

True.

No. This must be false. I can not even believe that this is true. This is so wacky... No! So, Strange, that it must be true. HOLY FUCK I get it now, "Strange but True". You've done it again JaYson.

If you want to read a bunch of crap typed one sentence at a time because the brain dead writer does not know what a fucking paragraph is, there are plenty more fragmented sentences for you to enjoy. Oh, please don't forget...

Coming Friday: Strangest But Truest injuries of 2010.

Where the fuck is that revolver?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Which NL Rotation is the Best?

With the Brewers acquisition of Zack Greinke the Brewers now have one hell of a rotation. Their top 3 starters can compete with any rotation in the league in a 5 game series- yes, that includes the Phillies. With all of this movement of National League starters, I think it would be interesting to compare some of the rotations. Since the Phillies have clearly cheated this offseason and now have Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton as their 4-5 starters, I'm only going to compare the Top 3 starters for each team. Let's face it, the Phillies rotation is unmatched when you look at all 5 of their starters.

So let's start out with the favorites:

Philadelphia Phillies

Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Roy Oswalt. Sure an argument could be had that Hamels is better than Oswalt, but Cole's status as a mental midget moves him into the 4 slot in the rotation. They have 3 Cy Young's split between the first 2 starters and all 3 of these guys are Cy Young contenders every year.

Let's get their career stats out of the way, all of these will be respective to Halladay/Lee/Oswalt:
Career Wins: 169/102/150 (about 16 wins a year average for each of them)
IP/162 games: 235/218/221
K/162: 175/168/183
Career ERA: 3.32 (lots of time in the AL East)/3.85/3.18
FIP: 3.42/3.77/3.34
Projected 2011 WAR: 6.8/6.7/4.1

Each of these guys has put up absolutely insane career numbers, we can all agree on that. They are all on the back side of their careers though, which is the big negative against them. Will these guys be producing at the same level 3 years from now? Most likely not. There is sure to be some regression, especially in Oswalt's case, from their career numbers. These guys are also making a ton of money with a committed $253 mil will be made between them after the lives of their current contracts.

After you look past their negatives and just look at what they will do on a baseball field, this front 3 may be one of the best ever. Look at those projected WAR's (all roughly similar to what they produced last year). Other teams in the NL East may just want to start playing for the Wild Card right now. Halladay carving up the opposition with pinpoint control and dazzling pitches, Cliff Lee's utter dominance from the left side, and Oswalt's mix of power and control will make this a tough series every time you face the Phils this year.

San Fransisco Giants

Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Jonathan Sanchez. These 3 showed their ceiling in this year's playoffs. They each beat some of the best pitchers int he game in a heads up matchup. Hell, I think they actually beat every pitcher from the above rotation head to head. Oh, and don't forget they are all young and signed fairly cheaply. Now a look at the numbers:

Career Wins: 56/57/34 (16/11/10 for 162 averages)
IP/162: 225/218/162
K/162: 252/181/170
Career ERA: 3.04/3.45/4.26
FIP: 2.86/ 3.84/ 4.08
Projected 2011 WAR: 6.9/4.6/3.2

Sure their numbers are not what the Phillies' staff boasts, but you can not argue with their production from last postseason. Also, this staff may be the most fun to watch out of any. The electric stuff that each pitcher has is dazzling. They may not be as good as the Phillies but they are almost there. Seeing that each of these guys is under 29, the Phillies may want to watch out in the upcoming years.

Milwaukee Brewers

Zack Greinke, Yovani Gallardo, and Shaun Marcum. A prediction before I even look at the numbers: these guys won't even be on the same planet as the staffs of the Phillies and Giants. However, the jump in numbers from going to the NL from the AL (especially the East) for these starters should not be undervalued. Shaun Marcum pitched exceptionally well against the Yankees, Red Sox and Ray all year last year. How do you think he is going to fare against the Reds, Pirates and Cubs? Greinke has gotten some of the least run support of all time the past 2 years. Now he has Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun hitting for him. The numbers:

Career Wins: 60/36/37 (11/15/12 for averages)
IP/162: 199/184/187
K/162: 167/214/151
Career ERA: 3.82/3.67/3.85
FIP: 3.59/3.51/4.46
Projected WAR: 6.3/4.6/3.6 (Gallardo's was last years WAR numbers)

Actually, my prediction was a little bit off. The only category that the Brewers' staff pales in comparison is in the Innings Pitched. I believe that most of these guys have been limited by youth and their innings purposely limited. Now that they are all getting to the middle of their careers and their peak years, I would expect those numbers to increase. I'm also not sure if the projected WAR's factor in the shift to the NL. Logically, they should, as facing the pitcher slot and a host of inferior talent should provide a boost to one's value. Although WAR may just be based on FIP which already takes those into account. Pardon me for my lack of knowledge on the subject.

Regardless of the WAR debate, surely their numbers will improve from their career numbers. Facing worse competition (Marcum), having better offensive support (Greinke), and not having to face the opposition's #1 (Gallardo) will surely help their Win numbers (I know it is a bad stat, but the influence of those outside forces are the reason it is a bad stat). I may not put them on the Phillies level, but I would definitely be wary of this pitching staff next year.

St. Louis Cardinals

Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, and Jaime Garcia. While Wainwright and Carpenter have had some injury riddled pasts, it should not exclude them from this discussion. These two have proven to be some of the best in the game, when healthy, and deserve to be mentioned on this list.

Career Wins: 66/133/14 (Average: 15/15/14)
IP/162: 198/220/182
K/162: 164/167/142
Career ERA: 2.97/3.80/2.96
FIP: 3.36/3.89/3.74
Projected WAR: 6.6/4.1/3.2 (last year's numbers)

None of these guys are as electric as most of the pitchers listed before, but Carpenter and Wainwright have proven they can do the job and Garcia is an interesting young pitcher. While they, too, are not on par with the Phillies, they should be very interesting to follow. (Side Note: with the addition of Big Puma's mammoth... um... bat, I would expect the Cards to score at least 3 runs more per game than last year. Yeah, that is how good Puma is.)

Overall, none of these teams can match the Phillies, but it looks like the NL is about to face another year of offenses putting up dismal numbers.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Kerry Wood!


He's back with the Cubs. I'm so happy I won't care if they lose 100 games next year.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Always Sunny and Von Hayes

I was recently watching the latest episode of Always Sunny in Philadelphia when Mac (the second biggest Chase Utley fan I've ever seen-that story is for later) began a tirade about the likes of Mike Schmidt and Von Hayes. Now, we all know who Mike Schmidt is, but I'm here to enlighten you on the career of Von Hayes.


That man knows how to wear eyeblack.

Von Hayes played from 1981 to 1992, coming up with the Cleveland Indians then moving to the Philadelphia Phillies, where he spent the majority of his career patrolling the outfield at The Vet. He had 8 exceptionally productive seasons with the Phillies in which he posted an above average WAR, peaking in 1989 with a 5.1 WAR and an All Star selection. Remarkably, Von was traded to the Phillies in a 6 player deal which netted the Indians a slue of talent including Manny Trillo, George Vukovich, Jay Baller, Jerry Willard, and Julio Franco. (Copied and pasted directly from Wikipedia).

Some interesting facts about Von is that he is the first player ever to hit 2 home runs in the first inning of a game. Hayes was hit by a pitch against Houston hurler Tom Browning. A pitch that would end up breaking his fucking arm and ending the productive portion of his career. A tidbit that I feel compelled to throw in here: well known douche bag Chris Berman's nickname for him was, you would never have guessed this...

Von "Purple" Hayes

I continue to be amazed at how Chris Berman has had a job for so long.

I would be ashamed if I didn't give you any of his stats, so here we go...

Career: 11 seasons, 1,495 G/1,402 H/143 HR/767 R/696 RBI/253 SB/.267 AVG/.354 OBP/.416 SLUG.

I think it is safe to say that Hayes would have been a pretty good top of the order guy. I have never seen him play, and have no idea where he batted in their lineup, but with above average on base numbers and he clearly displayed good speed throughout his career. Actually, analyzing his numbers a little more, his career goes through several quick shifts. Early on he was purely a speed guy, stealing 48 bags in 1984. Then he quickly transitioned to an on base percentage machine in the '85 and '86 seasons, posting .376 and .404 OBP, respectively. Then in the last two years, he displayed power to the tune of 26 HR in 1989 and 17 HR in 1990.

As far as his career is concerned I'm not sure if I would label him as a consistent player his BB%, K%, and SLUG were all quite erratic, but none the less he produced each and every year in a different way.

Well my curiosity was piqued by Always Sunny, and I'm glad I got to take this trip into Christmas Past with Von Hayes.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cubs Moves Open Thread

The Cubs stupidly signed Carlos Pena to a huge deal. Let's discuss. Leave your comments below.

Big Puma Open Thread

The Cards signed Big Puma! I love the signing. Cooly hates it. Let us know what you think.

White Sox Signings Open Thread

Since we've all been on a huge Twitter binge, I figured we should move this to our blog. Seeing that our other followers are getting angry at us, and we have this blog for a reason.

So leave your comments about the White Sox moves in the Comments Section. Big things going down with the Dunn and Konerko signings.