Archive for November, 2009

Projected Roster Information & Top 15 Prospects

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

Projected 25 Man Roster

1. Ryan Theriot – SS
2. Milton Bradley – RF
3. Derrek Lee – 1B
4. Aramis Ramirez – 3B
5. Kosuke Fukudome – CF
6. Alfonso Soriano – LF
7. Geovany Soto – C
8. Jeff Baker – 2B

Sam Fuld – OF
Jake Fox – IF / OF
Mike Fontenot – IF
Koyie Hill – C
Aaron Miles – IF

1. Carlos Zambrano
2. Ryan Dempster
3. Ted Lilly
4. Randy Wells
5. Sean Marshall

1. Tom Gorzelanny
2. John Grabow
3. Angel Guzman
4. Carlos Marmol
5. Justin Berg
6. Esmailin Caridad
7. Jeff Samardzija

Other Roster Candidates
(All Stats from 2009)

Robinson Chirinos
Wellington Castillo
Steve Clevenger
Chris Robinson

Corner Infield
Blake Lalli
Micah Hoffpauir
Bobby Scales

Middle Infield
Tony Thomas
Starlin Castro
Darwin Barney
Andres Blanco

Reed Johnson
Tyler Colvin

Mitch Atkins
David Patton
Blake Parker
Neal Cotts
John Gaub
Marcos Mateo
Jay Jackson
Andrew Cashner
J.R. Mathes
Jeremy Papelbon

VFTB Top 15 Prospects
Updated: 11/22/09

  1. Josh Vitters – 3B
  2. Starlin Castro – SS
  3. Jay Jackson – SP
  4. Andrew Cashner – SP / RP
  5. Brett Jackson – CF
  6. Chris Carpenter – SP
  7. Ryan Flaherty – 2B
  8. D.J. LeMahieu – SS
  9. Wellington Castillo – C
  10. Hak-Ju Lee – SS
  11. Tyler Colvin – OF
  12. Sam Fuld – OF
  13. Rebel Ridling – 1B
  14. Kyler Burke – OF
  15. Chris Archer – SP

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Did Adam Jones and Torii Hunter deserve Gold Gloves?

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

Last week the Gold Gloves awards came out and American League center fielders Adam Jones and Torii Hunter were both honored.  Hunter won his eighth Gold Glove and Jones won his first.

However, neither did well in the Fielding Bible Awards.  Hunter finished ninth in the voting among all MLB center fielders.  The four AL center fielders that finished ahead of Hunter were 1-2-3-4 in the voting: 1-Franklin Gutierrez, 2-Carlos Gomez, 3-Curtis Granderson and 4-Rajai Davis. Jones did even worse.  Ten Fielding Bible Award panelists cast 10! 0 votes overall (10 each) for center fielders and Adam Jones received only one ninth place vote.

Interestingly, there is one area where Hunter and Jones are the absolute best in baseball.  And an important area it is, as it is the most valuable defensive play a player can make: making home-run saving catches.  Torii Hunter has the most in baseball over the last three years with five.  Adam Jones had the most this past season with four.  Based on our methods, Hunter saved eight runs over the three years on these plays and Jones saved six in 2009.

That’s impressive.  It’s an important part of the defensive profile of an outfielder, but it is only a part. We also measure two other areas of defense for outfielders, their ability to cover ground and the strength/accuracy of their throwing arm.

Let’s look at their throwing arms first.  Based on our methods, Torii Hunter is nearly the exact definition of average.  Over the last three years he did not hurt or help his team and had exactly zero defensive runs saved, based on how many runners he threw out and how many runners advanced extra bases on plays to center field.  In 2009, Hunter had one defensive run saved. But Adam Jones is a different story. This is another area where he excelled.  Jones saved 12 runs with his arm and was the best in all of baseball in 2009.  Again.  The best outfielder in all of baseball at making home run saving catches and the best outfield throwing arm.  No wonder he won a Gold Glove.  But should he have?

Let’s look at the final area, covering ground in center field. The method we use is the Plus/Minus System.  We measure plays made compared to what an average center fielder would make on the balls hit to each player.  Once again, Hunter is the definition of average.  Over the last three years he saved zero runs defensively covering ground in center field.  His +4 runs saved mark in 2009 was better than the previous two years.  Hunter didn’t make any more plays than the average center fielder, but he performed better on plays that were hit deep into center field.  He saved 17 bases on deeply hit balls, while he cost his team 9 bases on shallow and medium hit balls, for an overall enhanced plus/minus of +8, ranking him 12th in baseball.

Covering ground in center field is not Adam Jones’ forte.  The 11 runs he cost his team defensively in center field was the second worst in the American League (Vernon Wells was the worst in baseball with -17). He was the opposite of Hunter.  He was okay on shallow hit balls with two bases saved (+2), but he was very poor on medium hit balls (-7) and atrocious on deeply hit balls (-16).  That gives him an overall enhanced plus/minus of -20.

Should Adam Jones, being the best in baseball in two areas on nearly the worst in a third, win a Gold Glove? Let’s compare him and Torii Hunter to the three AL players that the Fielding Bible Award panelists like.  Overall, while they came at it from totally different directions, Hunter and Jones had the same number of defensive runs saved in 2009, seven.  That tied them for 11th among all center fielders.  The Fielding Bible panel would have given the AL Gold Glove Awards to Franklin Gutierrez (31 runs saved), Carl Crawford (24) and Ichiro Suzuki (11 runs saved).  Here are their totals by defensive category! :

2009 Runs Saved

HR Saving Catches




Torii Hunter





Adam Jones





Franklin Gutierrez





Carl Crawford





Ichiro Suzuki





I think it is fair to speculate that Gold Glove voters are influenced by defensive plays that look great.  The home-saving catch and, to a lesser extent, the great throw to nab a runner.  But there’s more to defense than that.  It’s like saying the league MVP should be the guy who leads the league in grand slam homers.  It’s a big deal to hit grand slam homers (or to make home runs saving catches), but it doesn’t show the whole picture.

Runs Saved leaderboards can be found in the Bill James Handbook 2010.

“Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®,”

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Jerome Holtzman Baseball Reader

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

The title is: “The Jerome Holtzman Baseball Reader”, a compilation of Jerome Holtzman’s “favorite offerings from five decades of chronicling our national pastime”.

Before I read this book, although I had heard of Mr. Holtzman, I didn’t really know very much about him. Here’s some background:

He was born in Chicago (in 1926) and grew up in an orphanage on the West Side (the Marks Nation Jewish Orphan Home). He spent two years in the marines.

He wrote for Chicago newspapers for over 50 years. Jerome began covering baseball in 1957, following both the Cubs and White Sox. He created the save statistic in 1959, which was adopted as an official statistic for the 1969 season. The save was the first new official statistic in MLB since the RBI was introduced in 1920.

Following his retirement as a newspaper writer in 1999, Mr. Holtzman served as the official historian for Major League Baseball until his death on July 19, 2008.

Here are some excerpts from the book:

– “I contend that any pitcher, win or lose, who pitches nine innings of shutout ball should be given credit for a winning performance.”

In 1946 Bob Feller “led the majors with a one-season record 368 strikeouts. He struck out every regular American League position player with one exception”.

This is all the more remarkable because Mr. Feller spent the previous four years on active duty in the Navy (during WW2). As a matter of fact, Bob Feller spent 34 months aboard the USS Alabama prior to his discharge in August, 1945.

I want to tell you, I’ve been aboard the USS Alabama. (She is a floating museum in Mobile Bay.) It was noisy, hot and uncomfortable. And that was welded to the pier with no one shooting at us.

As an aside, “the Alabama never lost a man in an enemy action, then or later. It was known as the ‘Lucky A’.”

The author quotes Bob Feller: “Every time I went out to pitch I thought about how lucky I was to serve my country and come back with all my limbs,” Feller said. “I did what I thought I should. You’ll never hear me cry about it.”

– “The rules of the game say that the strike zone is between the batter’s armpits and the top of his knees ‘when he assumes his natural stance’.”

The author quotes Ted Williams speaking about Luis Aparicio: “…he was the greatest shortstop of my time….Joe Cronin was a better hitter, and so was Luke Appling. But in that spot, you take a fielder over a hitter.”

On the same subject (Luis Aparicio), the author quotes Lew Fonseca: “There were a lot of good ones, but defensively, Aparicio was the best. And shortstop is a defensive position.”

Speaking about Bill Veeck, who “lost most of his right leg at Bougainville, when he was in the marine corps during World War II”, the author observes: “The only time I recall him mentioning his peg leg, the right leg, was early one morning while he was soaking the stump. It was a daily two hour ritual. Typically, he only saw the benefits, the upside. Because he had to sit, he explained, he had more time to read.”

Speaking further about Bill Veeck, Mr. Holtzman says: “This may be hard for some of the current owners to believe but it was Bill Veeck who came up with the idea that ballplayers should be ‘depreciated’, just like oil wells.”

In a column about Marge Schott, Jerry makes the point: “…I, too, have been fighting the good fight, beginning with two years in the U. S. Marine Corps during the big war: gung-ho for the pursuit of liberty and the freedom of speech, including offensive speech.”

– “Still, the attempt to discipline someone for speech, not conduct, would seem to be a significant danger. Schott didn’t demonstrate and throw eggs or rocks at the police. She did not inflict bodily harm. Nor is she guilty of theft or general dishonesty.”

– “Understand, this isn’t so much a defense of Schott and her privilege of alleged ignorance. Of considerably more importance is the necessity to honor and protect the Bill of Rights against the evils of Big Brother and thought control.”

As you can see from the above examples, this book includes stories about Chicago baseball, and about baseball in general. I’m glad I read it. I recommend it highly.

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GirlieView (11/20/2009)

Friday, November 20th, 2009

It’s usually somewhere around Thursday when I start collecting the potential Lizzies of the week and jotting down my sparkling conversational items for my first paragraph. Yesterday morning while I waited for my bowl of Apple Jacks to inspire me, I wrote this:

Does anyone know whether Aaron Heilman will be back? I fear he will but I am hoping someone knows differently? I’m not a Heilman fan and I hope we aren’t stuck with him. Not a Gregg fan either but I think it’s a safe bet he won’t be back.

Then, just a few short hours later like manna from heaven, I heard about the trade. Yippee! I’m a happy gal!! Even if it spoiled the only thing I had to talk about this week! (Though I really did consider chatting about the Apple Jacks!)

Onto the Lizzies … have a great weekend!


  • The guys you mentioned are pretty good, but let’s not forget about Blanco either.
  • It’s as if the media locks in on one guy each off-season for this team and beats it like a drum until something happens.
  • For the first time in three decades, the players were better athletes than the grounds crew.
  • [Fuld] plays hard, is a very disciplined hitter that draws walks and runs the bases well. He’s an intelligent player that knows the game. He’s paid his dues and deserves the shot Johnson has had over the past two years.
  • I see dead people.
  • I, along with many Cubs fan, tend to like those scrappy players with big heart–like Fuld or Johnson.
  • Alan Rench
  • Saw this headline at MLB Trade Rumors “Yankees Interested In Gonzalez, Soriano?” and I almost wet myself. Unfortunately that’s not OUR Soriano.
  • C’mon Jimmy just a few more to go!
  • Considering that I would have accepted a can of Pringles for Heilman, I’ll take it.


  • in 2014, Soriano won’t be worth 14 million Schrutebucks.
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State of the System: RF

Friday, November 20th, 2009

Morning Roundup

  • Rob G over at the Cub Reporter has some good info on the prospects that the Heilman trade yielded yesterday in LHP Scott Maine and 1B Ryne White. It’s a good read and worth checking out. Ultimately, it’s good to get something for Heilman, considering that he was probably going to be non-tendered this off-season. (The Cub Reporter)
  • The Cubs are not interested in bringing Pedro Martinez (Chicago Tribune)
  • Jason Stark of says “Tampa Bay, Texas and Toronto look like the three most feasible destinations for Milton Bradley these days. But the Cubs are telling teams that (A) they’re not interested in digesting all or most of Bradley’s money (two years, $21 million) just for the sake of moving him, and (B) the hiring of his old hitting coach, Rudy Jaramillo, means they no longer think they have to trade him. So they seem to be zeroing in on clubs that might be willing to swap one messy contract for another. Pat Burrell would be that guy in Tampa Bay, but the money doesn’t match up and the Cubs would have to find a third team interested in Burrell. Lyle Overbay seems to fit that mold in Toronto, but the Cubs would need a third team to take him, too, since Derrek Lee is still occupying first base. And Kevin Millwood might still be a possibility with Texas, but certainly not one-for-one. Potential deals with the Angels (for Gary Matthews Jr.) and Diamondbacks (for Eric Byrnes) look dead at the moment.” (
  • Saw this headline at MLB Trade Rumors “Yankees Interested In Gonzalez, Soriano?” and I almost wet myself. Unfortunately that’s not OUR Soriano.

If you’ve missed the first few editions of the series, here are some links as well as the schedule for the week:

C / 1B / 2B / SS / 3B / CF / LF / RF/ Righty SP (Mon) / Lefty SP (Tuesday)

Contract Info for 2010

Milton Bradley – Signed through 2011 with a breakdown of $9 mil (2010) & $12 mil (2011)

Doug Deeds – Minor League FA

Brad Snyder – Minor League FA

Dylan Johnston – Rule 5 Draft Eligible unless added to the 40 man roster

Positional Summary

We round out the position players in this series with the RF position. It’s a position that has received the most amount of rumors and talk because of the Milton Bradley situation that doesn’t appear to be close to resolution. Let’s take a look at the numbers.

#Bradley, Milton 31 MAJ 473 61 17 1 12 40 2 3 66 95 .257 .378 .397 .775
Taguchi, So 39 AAA,MAJ 316 38 9 1 4 29 4 4 33 36 .249 .346 .335 .681
*Deeds, Doug 28 AA,AAA 379 57 30 3 10 38 5 3 22 78 .281 .328 .470 .798
*Colvin, Tyler 23 AA,H-A,MAJ 479 70 18 9 15 62 8 2 31 89 .282 .328 .468 .796
*Johnston, Dylan 22 H-A 194 19 6 0 4 13 3 1 18 71 .185 .259 .289 .548
*Snyder, Brad 27 AAA,win,ROK 376 54 22 4 19 66 16 5 36 91 .292 .359 .551 .910
*Burke, Kyler 21 L-A 555 93 43 3 15 89 14 2 78 99 .303 .405 .505 .911
*Perez, Nelson 21 L-A,win 497 56 21 6 12 67 3 0 23 138 .263 .300 .412 .711
Ha, Jae-Hoon 18 SS 258 31 15 0 2 37 5 5 6 31 .242 .264 .327 .590
Batista, Xavier 17 ROK 298 42 15 2 8 38 4 2 33 85 .241 .333 .409 .742
Borgues, Smaily 25 ROK 261 39 14 4 5 34 16 12 23 28 .317 .391 .478 .869
Gonzalez, Jasly 18 ROK 214 26 3 5 3 18 4 4 21 49 .178 .280 .297 .577
Morelli, Jesus 19 ROK 157 26 2 3 0 14 8 4 15 24 .279 .365 .338 .704

There are basically two names you need to know in the system for the position, Tyler & Kyler. Colvin and Burke. Both are former 1st round picks in the draft. We’ve talked about Colvin in the past, specifically how many in the scouting circles consider him an over-draft in an effort to allow flexibility in signing Jeff Samardzija in the 5th round. He had a real nice year in 2007 that prompted to rank him as one of the top 50 prospects in the game. Injuries in 2008 basically contributed to a regression, but a stronger 2009 merited a September cup of coffee. Where he goes at this point is interesting. He has the ability to play CF, but a corner spot is more likely for him. Ideally, I’d like to see him play RF if his arm can handle it. He had Tommy John surgery in 2008, so he should come back stronger as a result if history proves itself true. He needs to work on going the opposite way instead of being so pull crazy, but I like him.

I’m also a big Kyler Burke guy. He’s a guy Jim Hendry took a chance on in the 2007 deal that sent Michael Barrett to the Padres. In that deal, the Cubs got Burke and Rob Bowen who was eventually traded to Oakland for Jason Kendall. That’s a deal that, in my opinion, the Cubs won easily. Burke hadn’t really shown any of his promise until last year and as a result, he’s burst onto the scene in the system, winning the minor league player of the year award in the system. He doesn’t really project as much of a power guy as once was expected, primarily due to a change in his approach at the plate. If he can continue to look at making good contact, the natural power will develop. I’d project him at a 20-25 HR guy in the majors if all goes well.

2010 Free Agents at RF
Scott Boras clients in Bold

Jermaine Dye (36) – Type A
Brian Giles (39) – Type B
Vladimir Guerrero (35) – Type B
Joey Gathright (28)
Eric Hinske (32)
Geoff Jenkins (35)
Austin Kearns (30)
Jason Michaels (34)
Xavier Nady (31) – Type B
Randy Winn (36) – Type B

Photo of the Day

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