Thursday, December 31, 2009

Appier vs Morris

I did this last year with David Cone when I felt he was unfairly removed from future HoF voting due to lack of support. I'm predicting Kevin Appier will go the same route. While it wouldn't be the travesty it was with Cone I still think Appier should get at least some consideration. Now of course I wouldn't even shrug about Cone and Appier being one and done if it wasn't for the nonsensical support of Jack Morris, a slightly above average pitcher who won some big playoff games. Voting for Morris over Appier (and over Cone last year) is choosing quantity (wins and innings) over quality. Let's look at the numbers.

WS Rings31
Cy Youngs00

Here is another comparison, the best eight year stretch for both pitchers.
Morris 1979-1986 115 ERA+
Appier 1990-1997 140 ERA+

Appier's ERA+ in the 90's was 131 (min. 1000 IP), seventh best in all of baseball. That ERA+ would have been good for fourth in the 80's, third in the 70's, fifth in the 60's, third in the 50's....well you see where I'm going. Appier was a great pitcher and unfortunately due to his time in KC vastly underrated. He never got any huge cash advances like some.

Likewise Morris, often called the 80's best pitcher comes in 30th in that decade with a 109. Behind such phenoms as Britt Burns (113), Bryn Smith (110), and Steve Rogers (110). He also trailed Bud Black (111), Danny Jackson (111), Mark Gubicza (118), and Bret Saberhagen (128). But hey he was better than Charlie Liebrandt (108), whatever that means. So Morris at his best was nowhere near the best. That 109 would've ranked 38th in the 90's, 33rd in the 70's, 31st in the 60's, 28th in the 50's - again nowhere near the league's elite.

 I'm certainly not campaigning for Appier to be inducted, I just happen to think he's more worthy than Morris.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Andrew Reilly on BA

Only knowing what baseball-reference tells me about Brian Anderson I once again turned to White Sox blogger Andrew Reilly to fill in the details. I'm guessing Andrew didn't mind the trade that sent Anderson to the Red Sox last season.

Here is his take:
BA (that's what we called him; feel free to co-opt our hilariously unimaginative nickname) is a fantastic defender. Objectively speaking, he may be one of the top five center fielders in the American League, and if the Royals want to take a Mariners-lite approach and win through defending, he's a fantastic option. Great reads, perfect routes, laser cannon for an arm.

Unfortunately, his bat is useless. Well, not useless, but he struggles mightily at the plate in a few situations, namely:

- against lefties
- against outside breaking pitches low and away
- with two strikes
- with runners in scoring position
- with a runner on first
- on 3-1 counts

On the plus side, he hit two home runs off of Felix Hernandez in his first major league game. Man, that was awesome. Basically, you're welcoming to town a young Jay Buhner, minus the crazy. And minus the offensive fireworks. Other than that, great pickup by Dayton Moore.

You can read more of Andrew's writing at the 35th Street Review.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

So it's a major league deal

Well that changes my opinion of the Brian Anderson signing only slightly. It's not really something to get overly excited about or all worked up over. I liked it better as a minor league depth type of deal but a one year $700,000 contract is nowhere close to being Moore's worst acquisition. He is essentially a Mitch Maier clone which is one reason why the move initially confused me, I mean we already got one.

Check it out:
2009 - .243/.333/.331/78 OPS+
Career - .249/.328/.324/75 OPS+

2009 - .243/.328/.347/75 OPS+
Career - .227/.290/.370/69 OPS+

The similarities don't stop with the stats - they are the same age (27) and were drafted in the same round (1st) in the same year (2003). Anderson is considered the better defensive player (if only slightly) but I would imagine the sample sizes are too small to be 100% accurate.

Having two players with identical strengths and weaknesses who share the same position is a concern from a roster standpoint. It's a lot like the Olivo/Buck situation except cheaper.

I'm a little confused by Moore's quest to obtain as many mediocre ChiSox players as he can. Anderson is the fourth player from the 2009 White Sox brought into the organization this off-season (Betemit, Getz, Fields are the others). For the record Chicago only won 79 games so it's not like he's dismantling a dynasty. I sincerely hope Scott Podsednik will not be the fifth but I imagine the Anderson signing ended that potential nightmare.

Lesson learned -  Chicago is the new Atlanta.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Brian Anderson

Royals looking at former White Sox CF Brian Anderson on minor-league deal. - Ken Rosenthal

Well why not? He can't be any worse than the first one. This Anderson has 883 major league plate appearances and has put together a .227/.290/.370 line. He was Chicago's first round pick in 2003, drafted 15th overall he was taken ten spots after Chris Lubanski and fifteen spots before Mitch Maier. He hasn't been a legit prospect since 2005 and he is almost 28 years old. So yeah a minor league deal sounds about right which means he will be in centerfield for Kansas City on opening day.

I'd like to see Maier man CF next year as he did have a strong second half (.261/.363/.346) and I fear the alternative is Scott Podsednik. Okay maybe strong is too strong of a word but that .363 OBP is quite impressive. His season .333 OBP was fourth on the team (min. 300 PA's). 2010 is a lost year and the perfect time to see what Maier can do over the course of a full season.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Moore's aversion to OBP

Last August my brother and I went to a Royals game (they lost, shocking) in which Yuniesky Betancourt made three really outstanding defensive plays. My brother left convinced that Betancourt was one of the better shortstops in the league no matter what his UZR was. It is of course the old eyes versus stats debate. And before you commence with the Hey Jeff welcome to three years ago comments just hear me out. Readers of this blog know I am not into the newer stats (save for OPS+ and ERA+) but that doesn’t mean I dismiss them (even though my favorite player of all time had a career 79 OPS+). I think they can be a very valuable tool when evaluating potential acquisitions and current personnel and if I was the GM of a team I would use every resource available into putting the most productive roster I could afford onto the field.

There is an interesting piece up at Royals Review comparing four similar moves by Dayton Moore and Jack Zduriencik (AKA Jack Z for obvious reasons). It’s a good read and it shows why one franchise may enter 2010 as divisional favorites and why the other will once again flounder. Jack Z it seems trusts the stats, Moore trusts his eyes. It hasn’t worked out so well for Dayton but rather than change his mindset he changed the process and the early returns aren’t promising. Moore seems stuck in the 1980’s and I can imagine him thinking, “Let’s see the 1985 Royals had a .313 OBP, we can do that. Hey the 1985 Royals had a 34 year old catcher, who hit .245/.308/.381, I’m sure I can find one of those”.

Unfortunately he did but this isn’t about Jason Kendall (.240/.320/.313 last three seasons), it’s about Moore and his stubborn refusal to trust the stats. OBP is probably my favorite offensive statistic and Moore fails quite spectacularly when it comes to acquiring guys who are above league average. Bert Callaspo is the outlier when it comes to this discussion but Moore has made no secret of his desire to trade him and hand his position to a lesser offensive talent. And OBP isn’t some sort of newfangled stat invented in the last couple years by a computer program, it’s been around awhile.

Here are a few Moore guys from the 2009 roster and their OBP’s before they joined the Royals and their OBP as a Royal:

Jacobs - .318/.297
Guillen – .325/.305
Bloomquist – .322/.308
Crisp – .331/.336
Olivo - .275/.286
Betancourt - .302/.269

Is it a wonder why the offense was so bad? They ranked 13th in OBP and amazingly 13th in runs, it’s almost as if there is some sort of correlation. Now Jacobs, Crisp, and Olivo are thankfully gone and Guillen has just one year remaining so we soon will see if Moore has learned anything when he goes about replacing them.
Kings of Kauffman, which is always full of quality content, has a post up defending Allard Baird's reign as GM. It is a very interesting take and one I agree with 100%.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Who is "everybody"?

“We’ve got a good group of young catchers coming. Everybody in baseball recognizes that. Who is going to mentor them?” Dayton Moore

Well not Jason Kendall since he'll be in KC and Myers and Pina won't unless I'm missing something. I mean Kendall is not going to be a roving minor league catching instructor. This seems like Moore grasping at straws in trying to defend an indefensible signing. I really have nothing else to add as the stats speak for themselves (2007-2009 .633 OPS) so I'll try to accept that this really happened and move on.

I'm not sure how the conversation with Glass went DM when informed him of the Kendall signing but I'd like to think it went something like this.

Moore: Great news Mr. Glass, we got Jason Kendall.
Glass: Is he any good?
Moore: He was fantastic 10 years ago.
Glass: I see, what about now?
Moore: Not really.
Glass: I see. Does it make the team better?
Moore: Not really.
Glass: I see. Does it save me money?
Moore: Not really.
Glass: So what's the point?
Moore: It'll drive the bloggers crazy.
Glass: I see.........I'd like my checkbook back.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Regarding Kendall

I'm starting to get a sense that some fans like the Royals interest in Jason Kendall because they believe that anything is better than Buck. Finances aside that is simply not so. Kendall has really fell off since the middle part of this decade and while he was once one of the top catchers in baseball now he is among the worst, if not the worst (offensively speaking). Of the 22 catchers with 1500 plate appearances since 2005 Kendall ranks dead last in OPS+. He really has had a tale of two careers.

1996-2004 .306/.387/.418/108 OPS+
2005-2009 .261/.336/.321/76 OPS+

Since 2005 Buck has a line of .234/.301/.405/85 which isn't pretty but he did have a .484 slugging percentage last season along with a 103 OPS+. I don't know, given the choice between two catchers with limited offensive upside I'm going to go with the one who is six years younger and is carrying less mileage. I'm leery about the Royals releasing Buck when he might possibly be figuring things out.

 I'm also aware that part of people's desire to be rid of Buck is because of his struggles throwing runners out stealing. He threw out just 16% last season and is at 26% for his career, Kendall's numbers are 20% and 29% - not much better. (For the curious Olivo's %'s are 28 and 34. Mike Sweeney threw out 36% of the runners who attempted to steal against him. No reason to mention that other than I just wanted bring up Sweeney's name one more time.)

I guess if it was a one year deal I could probably handle it with limited criticism but two years to a 35 year old catcher with nearly 2000 games under his belt is a bit mystifying. I can't imagine why a team that isn't in win now mode would go after the veteran likes of Kendall and Scott Podsednik. For that matter I don't know why a team in win now mode would either but that's just me.

Look the Royals offense is weak and this move would make it weaker. Last season Royals catchers hit .270/.310/.504 with 31 home runs and 99 RBI's and they aren't going to match that with a Kendall/Pena combo where Kendall gets the majority of the playing time. I still like Pena and if he comes out raking and takes over the starting job then I don't mind Kendall as a backup. But lets be honest here, if Kendall signs he will start.

Of course I'm still hoping this is much ado about nothing but I have a feeling somebody will be unhappy either way.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dear Dayton

Dear Dayton,

Now normally I cringe when a blogger pens a letter to somebody who will never read it but I don't know I guess I'm willing to give it a shot. You don't me, I'm just an unknown blogger with a little website that does generate a few hits but only because you have a loyal fan base. And right now they are frustrated. You are probably wondering why. (Although you most likely yawned and rolled your eyes.)

I'll tell you why, because of your newfound infatuation with old catchers who are on the decline offensively and defensively. Now I know you may think those guys can contribute (they can't) and that they have a little left in the tank (they don't) but it's time to let it go because I have solved your problem. Sign me to be your catcher. Yes you heard right and I'm dead serious. I think I'm qualified (given what you're looking at I may be overqualified) and I'll give you three darn good reasons to consider it.
  1. I'm 38 years old. Now if that doesn't impress you I should add that most days I feel 48. Years of climbing tanks and dumping 50 pound bags of salt have wreaked havoc on my knees and shoulders. I can't crouch or throw but I doubt that will be a problem. I sense your right eyebrow has raised slightly, you're intrigued.
  2. I'm pretty sure I couldn't hit a Japanese little leaguer so there is no way I'm gonna approach a .300 OBP (thats on base percentage in case you're still confused by those three letters). I know you like your catchers to make a lot of outs - I can do that, I'm telling you I'm your man.
  3. I can't throw anybody out and I'm reasonably certain I can't even get the ball to second base. There may be a few passed balls but anything I don't get my glove on is a wild pitch so those aren't my fault. As long as your pitchers hit my glove I'll do fine (maybe).
So to recap - I'm old, can't hit, and can't field. You have continually shown that you feel past skills equal present skills and I don't want to brag but I was a three time little league all star. (It was over 25 years ago but still...)

Lets get this done today.

Yours til Niagra falls,
Jeff Parker

P.s. Or you could go in a different direction and keep John Buck!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

How does Pudge fit into "the process"?

I've been away for a while and it appears several juicy rumors have captivated Royals nation. I may be late to the party since these have been covered elsewhere (and quite well too) but I'm going to add my two cents anyway.

I like Erik Bedard, always have, and when he's healthy he's among the better left handed starters in baseball. But that's the thing - he is seldom healthy. He's made only 30+ starts once in his career and has never had a 200 inning season. An innings eater he is not. But what few innings he has pitched has been very effective (121 ERA+). So even if KC gets 15 starts from him 2010 it will be 15 games not started by an inferior pitcher. I imagine a combination of 32 starts by Bedard/Davies will probably end up being around league average or above if Davies can rediscover his 2008 form.

The Royals also have an apparent interest in Ivan Rodriguez. Sigh!!!
Fun stat, OPS since start of 2007 season:
Pudge - .698
Buck - .719
Olivo - .721

Pudge will be 38 on opening day, Buck will be 29. Pudge is in decline offensively and defensively and is way past his prime. Buck probably is what he is ever going to be but right now that is better than Rodriguez. I half jokingly suggested on twitter that maybe Royals bloggers should encourage Moore to sign Pudge, you know since he always seems to do the opposite of sanity. Can't hurt. This move really would boggle the mind as KC isn't an Ivan Rodriguez away from contention (you know if they had signed him for the 2003 season they probably win the Central that year), I actually have a hard time believing any team is.

Final conclusion - yes to Bedard, no to Pudge.