Archive for November, 2006

Nice try!

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

The Red Sox’ deal with Daisuke Matsuzaka appears dead in the water now that Major League Baseball has decided that posting money given to Seibu cannot be returned to Boston to be used as salary for the Lion’s pitching sensation. It’s possible, however Boston could take this decision to the courts.

At first it looked like a brilliant decision by Boston – obtain exclusive negotiating rights by offering an unreasonable posting sum, then negotiate in earnest with Scott Boras to find out Matsuzaka’s true price as a player. Then go back to Seibu and say “hey, we’ve got ourselves a problem, Daisuke isn’t budging – we need you to cough up $15 million of the posting fee or we aren’t going to get a deal done…”

Seibu then has a hard choice; either fork out the money or get nothing. If Matsuzaka isn’t signed within thirty days then all bets are off and the Seibu Lions have to refund the money AND pay for the player’s 2007 salary.

It will be interesting to see what happens next; the Yankees overpaid yesterday to Hanshin for the rights to negotiate with Kei Igawa.

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Breaking down the Soriano Deal

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

I have found two nice posts about the Soriano financials.

  • Suite Deal: Soriano’s filled with perks – AP
  • Present Value – The Hardball Times

    Here are the highlights from both for those that are link lazy.

    Soriano’s deal gives him a complete no-trade provision and guarantees a suite on Cubs road trips, according to contract information obtained by The Associated Press. In addition, Soriano is guaranteed six premium tickets for each home game during spring training, regular season and the postseason — and for the All-Star game if he is selected.

    Soriano receives an $8 million signing bonus and will get a $9 million salary next season. His salary increases to $13 million in 2008 and $16 million in 2009, then goes up to $18 million from 2010-2014. Soriano, who turns 31 in January, will be 38 in the final year of the deal.

    There are also plenty of incentives for the five-time All-Star, who will be the Cubs leadoff hitter. He gets $250,000 for collecting most All Star votes, $350,000 if he is selected the World Series MVP, $250,000 for the league championship series MVP, $300,000 for the MVP award and $75,000 for a Gold Glove.

    As another provision, Soriano will donate $25,000 annually to United Way and $25,000 annually to Cubs Care foundation.

    Many complaints about Soriano’s contract have focused on the fact that he received more dollars than Carlos Beltran did two years ago, despite not being nearly as good a player. Well, in fact, this is wrong. If we translate Beltran’s deal into 2007 dollars, Beltran got $110 million, $10 million more than Soriano, for one less year. In present day value, Beltran is being paid $3 million more per year.

    But that presents us with two questions: Is Beltran worth $3 million more per year than Soriano, and is Soriano worth $12.5 million a year? Well, according to my calculations, Soriano has an established performance level of about 3.0 wins above replacement; Beltran had an established performance level of about 3.4 when he was signed. In that case, Soriano is being paid a little over $4 million per marginal win, while Beltran got paid $7.5 million per marginal win over Soriano. On the other hand, Beltran has blown away his previous established performance level, and is now at about 4.4 wins above replacement, which translates to just over two million dollars per marginal win over Soriano.

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  • You paid how much?!? For WHO?!?

    Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

    I decided to take the week off from recapping the drafts. The series will continue on Monday with the 1993 draft, which features a HUGE number one pick. Instead, I’d like to try to make the case for what many believe is the most ludicrous signing of the off-season to this point. In case you’ve been living under a rock, former Cub, Gary Mathews Jr. was signed by the Angels to a deal worth $50 million over the span of five years. Just about everywhere I read, people are up in arms about this signing. Can it really be that bad? I say no, and i’m going to make my case.

    Reason # 1The Free Agent Market Got Inflated
    Blame whoever you want on this one (Jim Hendry), but the fact of the matter is, with the signing of Alfonso Soriano early in the off-season, the tone was set and there was no going back. The Angels got it in their head that they needed a CF. With Soriano, not a proven CF anyway, off the market, it left Juan Pierre, Gary Mathews or some old farts like Dave Roberts and Kenny Lofton. Pierre and is not an upgrade and neither are the other old men. Mathews, assuming he duplicates the numbers he put up last year fills the need the Angels want to fill. I’m sure $10 million per season is not ideal for them, but when Soriano falls early, what other price can you expect to pay? The bar was already set.

    Reason # 2Free Agency is Better than Plan B
    Yes, the Angels did have a plan B. All last season, the Angels made no secret that they were in the market for a “top notch” outfielder. The biggest names on their list were Carl Crawford and Miguel Cabrera. They were prepared to deal a huge package of talent to get one of those guys. Luckily for the Angels, no one took them up on the offers that were floating around the rumor mill. One of the biggest rumors I heard was the following:

    Ervin Santana – SP
    Scot Shields – MR
    Brandon Wood – SS

    For Carl Crawford or Miguel Cabrera.

    For those of you who don’t follow the minor leagues, Brandon Wood is a MAJOR prospect. In 2005 playing for high A ball, Rancho Cucamonga, Wood put up monster numbers:

    43 HR with 115 RBI and averages of .321 / .383 / 1.055

    When you have a SS prospect putting up those kind of numbers, you DO NOT offer him in any kind of deal. By going out and getting an OF like Mathews via free agency, rather than dealing guys like Wood and Santana, you assure yourself of a future, even if your $50 million investment turns out to be a bust. What do you think?

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    Maybe Manny?

    Monday, November 27th, 2006

    Word on the street is that Manny Ramirez will be dealt by Boston this week. I know I know, there’s always rumors about Ramirez!

    I could easily see the Cubs hooking up with the Bosox on this one. Izturis, Prior, Pawelek and Murton for Ramirez and a top Boston prospect would be real do-able from my standpoint. There’s all kinds of combinations/permutations that one could consider…

    Imagine this batting order: 1. Soriano, 2. DeRosa, 3. D-Lee, 4. A-Ram, 5. Manny, 6. Barrett, 7. Theriot (SS,) 8. Pie (CF)….if the Cubs signed Igawa for third starter and Maddux for fourth I’d pick the Cubs for the division AND league!

    What do y’all think about trading for Manny? If you like it what would you give?

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    I Like it….IF

    Saturday, November 25th, 2006

    The Chicago Tribune is rumoring that the Cubs are pursuing teams to move in and trade for Jacque Jones. If the Cubs can move Jones, i’d be fine with it on one condition. We should trade Jacque Jones only if we go out and get Julio Lugo.

    Getting Lugo would give the Cubs the option to move Soriano to RF, which is a lot less scary. Then, you shift Lugo out to CF and keep Murton in LF for one more shot. His OBP should ring well with Piniella. Once Felix Pie is ready to go, shift Lugo to SS, where he’s most comfortable and put Pie in CF. What do you think?

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    Rule 5 draft is December 8th

    Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

    I’m wondering who’s eligible this year, my guess is that Ryan Harvey will be, as will Mike Fontenot, Jake Fox, Kerry Ligtenberg, Casey MaGehee and Carmen Pigniatello. I’d like to see the list of eligible Cubs if anybody has access to it; the Cubs have at least six to seven guys that can be dropped or traded from the current 40 man by my reckoning (Angel Guzman, Adam Harben, Jose Reyes, Brian Dopirak, Glendon Rusch, Roberto Novoa and Freddie Bynum.) You have to figure that they will use three or four of those spots for free agents, perhaps we can trade some of the others…

    UPDATE: All of the names mentioned above ARE eligible. I’m not all that worried about losing any of them though. Pigniatello would be the only one I may consider protecting. He pitched well last year in AAA and is pitching well in Arizona this winter. Couple that with the fact that he’s a lefty and it means someone will give him a shot. Here is the criteria for being Rule 5 Eligible.

    Any player that has played professional baseball for more than 3 years (or more than 4 years if signed at the age of 18 or younger) is eligible for the draft, provided he is not on a team’s 40-man roster. (The new Collective Bargaining Agreement approved after the 2006 season would extend those limits to 4 and 5 years, respectively.)

    If chosen in the Rule 5 draft, a player must be kept on the selecting team’s 25-man major league roster for the entire season after the draft–he may not be optioned or designated to the minors. The selecting team may, at any time, waive the Rule 5 draftee, such as when it no longer wishes to keep him on the major league roster. If a Rule 5 draftee clears waivers, he must be offered back to the original team, effectively canceling the Rule 5 draft choice. Once a Rule 5 draftee spends an entire season on his new team’s 25-man roster, his status reverts to normal and he may be optioned or designated for assignment. To prevent the abuse of the Rule 5 draft, the rule also states that the draftee must be active for at least 90 days. This keeps teams from drafting players, then “hiding” them on the disabled list for the majority of the season. For example, if a Rule 5 draftee was only active for 67 days in his first season with his new club, he must be active for an additional 23 games in his second season to satisfy the Rule 5 requirements.

    ~ Wikipedia
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    Book Review – Behind the Scenes Baseball

    Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

    About two months ago, Acta Sports publications sent me a copy of a great book to review. Behind the Scenes Baseball by Doug Decatur, met all my expectations and then some. Generally, I don’t plug a book unless I really enjoyed it and this one fits that category. The book is broken into three distinct parts. Each part is very different from the others. It’s also broken into short snips, which make it very convenient for the casual reader.

    Part I – Stories from a life as a statistical consultant.
    The author brings some humerus and insightful stories of his time as a consultant for teams like the Cubs. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. “The Cubs look at stats? Who would have though?” This was back in the Tom Treblehorn days with the great pitching coach, Moe Drabowski. In fact, one of my favorite stories is one about Moe and his pitching charts that determined who was able to pitch on a given day. What made the story the funniest was the confrontations he had with Jose Bautista. The story talks about how Bautista would get confused with all the different color codes on the chart and always tell Drabowski that he was unavailable. It’s really a lot more humerus when you read it, but I don’t want to spoil it for you.

    The author also muses on working with the Reds and Pete Rose during his managerial tenure. The first part of the book is a very solid read.

    Part II – GM IQ Test
    This is the main reason I was excited to read this book. It’s a section that contains 100 questions ranging from Multiple Choice to Formulas. It’s designed to test your baseball knowledge when it comes to the value of statistics and other areas. They have a scoring scale at the end that tells you where you rank. I scored a 62 out of 100, which put me at the minor league manager range. I was satisfied with that, especially because I don’t consider myself a stathead. Here is a sample of what they have in the IQ test section.

    Question One
    Which team would be expected to win the most games?

    (A) a team which scores 1000 runs and allows 900 runs

    (B) a team which scores 800 runs and allows 700 runs

    (C) a team which scores 600 runs and allows 500 runs

    (D) all teams will win the same number of games

    Question Two
    True or False: Almost all good young pitchers with strikeout rates below 4.00 per game disappear quickly.

    Question Three
    True or False: On the average, closers pitch worse in “non-save” situations than they do in save situations.

    Question Four
    Which free-agent strategy works best:

    (A) sign to “fill a need”

    (B) sign the “best free agent” on the market

    (C) “whole-scale” signing

    (D) let all your players become free agents and then blame your 100 loss season on the size of your market

    Question Five
    Calculate ERA for a pitcher with the following statistics: 180 innings pitched and 90 runs allowed including 10 unearned runs allowed.

    Question Six
    Late August 2004. The Reds decide to dump Barry Larkin. They have two choices for the replacement shortstop: Felipe Lopez or Andy Machado. Should the Reds immediately make a decision on who should play shortstop, or should they alternate each player, giving them 20 starts each the rest of the season and make a decision based on those 20 starts?

    Want the answers? Too bad, you gotta buy the book.

    Part III – An In-Depth Study of the 2004 Houston Astros
    This section was hard to read as a Cub fan because of how sour the 2004 season made me feel. Nevertheless, the things Decatur talks about how he got the job working for the Astros as a consultant to Phil Garner. He would E-mail recommendations to Phil and that in turn would lead to changes in the lineup. His suggestions made sense to me, even with looking at it using hindsight. I know there are some people that thinks stats have no value in evaluating and making decisions, but I think they do have a value in the game today. It’s time people realize that and start using it to keep up with the Joneses.

    If you are interested in this book, I highly recommend that you go pick it up. The publisher has it available right on their website and it’s only $14.95. Here is the link to Acta Sports where you can go to buy it.

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    Maybe Maddux?

    Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

    According to the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, talks are not going well between the Dodgers and Maddux, and Maddux has said he wouldn’t mind playing in Chicago again. Given this year’s free agent offerings, I for one would love to see Hendry sign him as a fourth starter – you know he will chew up innings and he’d (again) be a great guy to have on the bench. Last year Gil Meche was 11-8 with a 4.48 ERA; Maddux on the other hand won 15, lost 14 and finished with a 4.20 ERA. And he played the better part of the season for a last place team…

    What do y’all think?

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    1992 Draft – Part III

    Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

    Here is where the meat of the draft comes. Not in the first round, but the later rounds. This draft produced a good number of serviceable Major League starters in the later rounds, including one hall of fame player.

    21. Jamie Arnold – P (ATL / Stats) – Born on my birthday, March 24th if you plan on sending me a present, Arnold did not get his first shot at the bigs until 1999 with the Dodgers. He was eventually traded to the Cubs for Ismael Valdez.

    22. Rick Helling – P (TEX / Stats) – Helling competed for the United States at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, and went to Stanford University. His days are virtually over as a starting pitcher. He’s pitched lately out of the pen for Florida and Milwaukee and done a serviceable job. In his career, Helling has a career 93-81 record with an ERA of 4.68

    23. Jason Kendall – C (PIT / Stats) – This is my favorite catcher in the game today. He also ranks very high on my list of overall favorite players of all time. I love his true grit attitude behind the plate. He always leads the majors in games caught and continues to hit the ball well as well as run. He is also almost always among the league leaders in hit-by-pitch. A three-time All Star, he has been in the top ten in batting three times. The year 2006 is his first year on a division-winning team. In my mind, there is no question that he will be a hall of fame inductee.

    24. Eddie Pearson – 3B (CWS) – Never reached the majors after poking around in the Sox farm system for awhile.

    25. Todd Steverson – OF (TOR / Stats) – Drafted out of Arizona State University. Only had 43 AB’s in the major leagues. Last I checked, he spent some time coaching with the Peoria Chiefs.

    26. Dan Serafini – P (MIN / Stats) – Drafted out of high school. Played for the Cubs for one year. Career ERA of 5.98 in his major league career.

    27. John Burke – P (COL / Stats) – Rockies first pick gives them two bad years and is never heard from again. Not a good start. I’m not sure why Colorado and Florida were given the last two picks though.

    28. Charles Johnson – C (FLA / Stats) – Everyone raves about CJ, but it’s certainly not for his bat. His 162 game average as a Catcher is .245 / .330 / .433 with 23 HR and 78 RBI. His strength has always been his fielding. He’s a 4-time NL Gold Glove winner, winning from 1995 to 1998. He was also part of the 1997 World Series winning Marlins team.

    ********** Other Notable Selections **********

  • Johnny Damon – Picked in the supplemental 1st round by the Royals
  • Jon Lieber – 2nd round by the Royals
  • Jason Giambi – 2nd round by the A’s
  • Todd Helton – 2nd round by the Padres (Did not sign)
  • Jose Vidro – 6th round by the Expos
  • Frank Catalanotto – 10th round by the Tigers
  • Bobby Higginson – 12th round by the Tigers
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