Archive for November, 2010

Stat of the Week: The REAL Gold Gloves

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Contrary to what some might think, I agree with most of the Gold Glove awards. However, there are a few that I take exception to. Let’s compare the Gold Glove winners to the Fielding Bible Awards voting.

American League

AL Catcher Gold Glove Winner: Joe Mauer
Should Have Been: Kurt Suzuki

The best defensive catcher in the American League is Toronto’s Jose Molina and he tied A.J. Pierzynski of the White Sox with the most defensive runs saved at catcher in the AL with six, but he didn’t play enough in 2010 to qualify. In the Fielding Bible Awards Voting- AL, I listed Kurt Suzuki as the best in the AL. I stand by that vote, but I have no trouble with Joe Mauer winning the award. Using our enhanced version of Runs Saved factoring in Misplays and Good Plays that we provide to Major League teams, Suzuki and Wieters each had 8 runs saved while Mauer had 5.

Most Points in Fielding Bible Awards Voting- AL
Player Points
Kurt Suzuki 58
Joe Mauer 53
Matt Wieters 37

AL First Base Gold Glove Winner: Mark Teixeira
Should Have Been: Daric Barton

Mark Teixeira is an outstanding first baseman, but he did not have an outstanding year. In the last six years he has done well, saving 25 runs defensively for his teams, but we estimate that he cost the Yankees one run defensively in 2010. Fielding Bible voters liked Teixeira enough to rank him second among AL first sackers, but they really liked Daric Barton, who topped all major league first basemen saving 20 runs this past year. Barton won the Fielding Bible Award for first base and should have won the American League Gold Glove. As we’ll see later on, it takes more time for the Gold Glove voters to recognize defense. But Fielding Bible voters, who are more aware of fielding metrics, discover defensive talent earlier than Gold Glove voters.

Most Points in Fielding Bible Awards Voting- AL
Player Points
Daric Barton 86
Mark Teixeira 52
Kevin Youkilis 40

AL Second Base Gold Glove Winner: Robinson Cano
Should Have Been: Orlando Hudson

With his well-known reputation and four previous Gold Gloves, I would have thought Orlando Hudson was a lock for the AL Gold Glove at second base. He also led second-sackers in baseball with 17 Runs Saved (tied with the Rays’ Sean Rodriguez). Robinson Cano had a very good defensive season saving seven runs for the Yankees, but I think there is a New York conspiracy going on here.

Most Points in Fielding Bible Awards Voting- AL
Player Points
Orlando Hudson 80
Mark Ellis 64
Sean Rodriguez 58
Robinson Cano 50

AL Third Base Gold Glove Winner: Evan Longoria
Should Have Been: Evan Longoria

I imagine that the AL Gold Glove voting between Evan Longoria and Adrian Beltre was close. They got this one right, selecting Evan Longoria for the second straight year. While Longoria lost a competitive vote for the Fielding Bible Award last year, he topped Ryan Zimmerman by one point in 2010. Gold Glove and Fielding Bible Award – that’s real recognition of defensive excellence.

Most Points in Fielding Bible Awards Voting- AL
Player Points
Evan Longoria 92
Adrian Beltre 69
Jose Lopez 31

AL Shortstop Gold Glove Winner: Derek Jeter
Should Have Been: Alexei Ramirez

The New York conspiracy: Teixiera, Cano and Derek Jeter all win Gold Gloves this year when they shouldn’t have. It’s almost like the Gold Glove voters didn’t know who to pick so they simply wrote down the name they know the best. The names Alexei Ramirez, Jack Wilson, and Elvis Andrus are not as well known as Jeter. Jeter now has five Gold Gloves and he should have none. The trio of Teixeira, Cano and Jeter cost their team a total of seven runs defensively in 2010. By comparison, the Oakland A’s trio of Daric Barton, Mark Ellis and Cliff Pennington saved 37 runs. The AL shortstop Gold Glove should have gone to Chicago’s Alexei Ramirez who saved 16 runs defensively, the best total in the league. Compare that to Jeter, who cost his team an estimated 13 runs. It comes down to who makes the plays, and it’s not Jeter.

Most Points in Fielding Bible Awards Voting- AL
Player Points
Alexei Ramirez 69
Yunel Escobar 45
Jack Wilson 39
Elvis Andrus 39

AL Left Field Gold Glove Winner: Carl Crawford
Should Have Been: Crawford or Brett Gardner

This is where the Gold Glove voters are catching up to the Fielding Bible voters. We’ve been touting Carl Crawford’s left field defense for years (three Fielding Bible Awards). Now the Gold Glove voters finally recognized his defensive prowess. While Fielding Bible Award voters voted Crawford second to Yankee Brett Gardner this year, I am absolutely thrilled that Crawford has finally been recognized by Gold Glove voters as well and won his first Gold Glove.

Most Points in Fielding Bible Awards Voting- AL
Player Points
Brett Gardner 96
Carl Crawford 86
Josh Hamilton 40

AL Center Field Gold Glove Winner: Franklin Gutierrez
Should Have Been: Franklin Gutierrez

Another catch-up award. Franklin Gutierrez’s Gold Glove is at least one year overdue. He already has two Fielding Bible Awards. The Mariners’ centerfielder blew away all of baseball last year with 32 Runs Saved and followed it up with 14 Runs Saved this year. While Austin Jackson had a fantastic defensive rookie year (as did Peter Bourjos in only 450 innings) and Houston’s Michael Bourn won the 2010 Fielding Bible Award, Gutierrez is still the top defensive outfielder in the American League.

Most Points in Fielding Bible Awards Voting- AL
Player Points
Franklin Gutierrez 75
Austin Jackson 54
Julio Borbon 38

AL Right Field Gold Glove Winner: Ichiro Suzuki
Should Have Been: Ichiro Suzuki

Ichiro. Ten consecutive Gold Gloves and three Fielding Bible Awards. Enough said.

Most Points in Fielding Bible Awards Voting- AL
Player Points
Ichiro Suzuki 92
Jeff Francoeur 50
Shin-Soo Choo 32

AL Pitcher Gold Glove Winner: Mark Buehrle
Should Have Been: Mark Buehrle

Mark Buehrle won both fielding awards last year, and his Opening Day play probably clinched both for him again this year. While he fields the position well, he also shuts down opposing baserunners better than almost everyone else, saving an estimated 4-5 runs annually in that department alone.

Most Points in Fielding Bible Awards Voting- AL
Player Points
Mark Buehrle 86
Zack Greinke 63
Trevor Cahill 52
Ricky Romero 42

Let me summarize my take on the American League Gold Glove voting. I have big problems with the awards given to the three Yankee infielders, but other than that, I have no problem with the other six. I would probably have awarded Suzuki at catcher over Mauer, but it’s close.

National League

NL Catcher Gold Glove Winner: Yadier Molina
Should Have Been: Yadier Molina

There’s no dispute here: by all accounts, Yadier Molina is the best defensive catcher in baseball. He saved 12 runs defensively for the Cardinals last year, but when we add in his pitch-blocking ability, Molina jumps the rest of the pack to 20 Runs Saved, easily the most in baseball.

Most Points in Fielding Bible Awards Voting- NL
Player Points
Yadier Molina 100
Carlos Ruiz 74
Miguel Olivo 46

NL First Base Gold Glove Winner: Albert Pujols
Should Have Been: Pujols or Ike Davis

While Daric Barton dethroned Albert Pujols for the Fielding Bible Award, Pujols still finished runner-up in the voting and also captured his second Gold Glove. Rookie Ike Davis made a case for himself leading NL first baseman with 13 Runs Saved

Most Points in Fielding Bible Awards Voting- NL
Player Points
Albert Pujols 76
Ike Davis 59
Adrian Gonzalez 41

NL Second Base Gold Glove Winner: Brandon Phillips
Should Have Been: Chase Utley

Chase Utley is the Rodney Dangerfield of defense in baseball. Despite leading the National League in Runs Saved at second base and despite having the highest three-year runs saved total in all of baseball by a wide margin (60 Runs Saved compared to 33 for Mark Ellis), he still doesn’t get any respect from Gold Glove voters. But he did earn respect from Fielding Bible voters, winning his first Fielding Bible Award in 2010. Brandon Phillips led the league in Good Fielding Plays and won the Gold Glove, but the Fielding Bible voters (and the most important numbers) suggest that Utley is the better choice at second base.

Most Points in Fielding Bible Awards Voting- NL
Player Points
Chase Utley 86
Brandon Phillips 62
Freddy Sanchez 13

NL Third Base Gold Glove Winner: Scott Rolen
Should Have Been: Ryan Zimmerman

This was a bit of a surprise. Scott Rolen has been a very good defender in the past and has several Gold Gloves to his credit. Fielding Bible Award voters liked him, just not as much as they liked 2010 Fielding Bible Award runner-up (and 2009 Gold Glove and Fielding Bible Award winner) Ryan Zimmerman. The surprising part was that Zimmerman won both awards last year, but the Gold Glove voters forgot about him this year despite a truly superlative year defensively. Chase Headley also played very well in his return to the position this year, leading all of baseball with 21 Runs Saved. Zimmerman saved 20 runs while Rolen only saved 2. Maybe error totals played a disproportionate role for Gold Glove voters as Zimmerman had 17 to only 8 for Rolen. That’s what worked for Jeter as well, who only had 6 errors compared to 20 for Alexei Ramirez.

Most Points in Fielding Bible Awards Voting- NL
Player Points
Ryan Zimmerman 91
Chase Headley 61
Scott Rolen 57

NL Shortstop Gold Glove Winner: Troy Tulowitzki
Should Have Been: Tulowitzki or Brendan Ryan

Troy Tulowitzki is an excellent choice for the National League Gold Glove at shortstop in 2010. Brendan Ryan led all MLB shortstops with 27 runs saved defensively, but Tulo’s 16 Runs Saved is not too shabby either.

Most Points in Fielding Bible Awards Voting- NL
Player Points
Troy Tulowitzki 97
Brendan Ryan 81
Alex Gonzalez 36

NL Left Field Gold Glove Winner: Carlos Gonzalez
Should Have Been: (none)

Carlos Gonzalez had a breakout offensive season, but the numbers don’t see him as a Gold Glove caliber defender in 2010. He is a good defender and I think he will put up good defensive numbers in the future, but I wouldn’t have picked him for a Gold Glove this year. While several left fielders played well this season, none is a standout Gold Glove contender.

Most Points in Fielding Bible Awards Voting- NL
Player Points
Jose Tabata 62
Gerardo Parra 59
Matt Holliday 49

NL Center Field Gold Glove Winner: Michael Bourn, Shane Victorino
Should Have Been: Bourn, Chris Young, and/or Angel Pagan

Michael Bourn earned every bit of his Gold Glove, also capturing the Fielding Bible Award as the best center fielder in all of baseball. Shane Victorino again played above average defense for the Phillies, but the Fielding Bible Award voters thought that Chris Young and Angel Pagan deserved consideration. Personally, I am fine with Victorino winning his third Gold Glove in 2010.

Most Points in Fielding Bible Awards Voting- NL
Player Points
Michael Bourn 91
Chris Young 59
Angel Pagan 52

NL Right Field Gold Glove Winner: (none)
Should Have Been: Jay Bruce

Jay Bruce finished second only to Ichiro in the Fielding Bible Award voting, and he topped the league with 17 Runs Saved. If an NL right fielder deserved a Gold Glove, it should have been Bruce (despite his memorable playoff miscues). In addition to their contributions at the plate, Mike Stanton and Jason Heyward also had impressive rookie performances in the field; Stanton tied Bruce with 17 runs saved while Heyward had 10.

Most Points in Fielding Bible Awards Voting- NL
Player Points
Jay Bruce 87
Jason Heyward 64
Jayson Werth 44

NL Pitcher Gold Glove Winner: Bronson Arroyo
Should Have Been: Bronson Arroyo

Credit the voters for the Bronson Arroyo selection, though Jake Westbrook and Jon Garland were also deserving candidates.

Most Points in Fielding Bible Awards Voting- NL
Player Points
Bronson Arroyo 38
Jake Westbrook 34
Jon Garland 32

Summarizing the National League, like the AL, I agree with six of the selections. Regarding the other three positions, I don’t have a big problem with Carlos Gonzalez winning a Gold Glove, but Jay Bruce would have been my choice. Ryan Zimmerman and Chase Utley are better choices than Scott Rolen and Brandon Phillips. But none of these three are as bad as the three Yankee infielders winning Gold Gloves.

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

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Chet’s Corner: Rent or Buy?

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Sifting through November baseball news is like wandering through a shuttered fun park.  The rides are all still there but…. “Sorry Folks, park’s closed!”

Occasionally a hot dog wrapper’s worth of news will blow by but outside of that it’s rather stale and vacant.

Which brings me to a tidbit that Joe added to his weekly news column.  Apparently Kosuke Fukudome purchased a home on Lakeshore Dr. making me ask a simple question…….Why now?

Kosuke is in the last year of his four year deal and has been linked to a rumor involving a trade with the Red Sox and his Japanese counterpart, Daisuke.  I guess this sort of squashes that huh? One would think Kosuke is on his way out of town not setting his roots.

So why buy now after renting for three years?  Don’t get me wrong, I get the rent vs. buy mentality for a major leaguer, but why buy in the last year?  It kind of creeps me out and I sort of feel like Hendry pulled him aside and said, “how about another 4 years, yah, something similar to the massive failure we just endured?  Go buy yourself a house in the city, put down some roots, this is your new American home, we are gonna lock you down for good.”  (excuse me, while I clean up the vomit from my keyboard)

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike Kosuke as a ballplayer.  His pinwheel swing drives me nuts but he can bunt and play the field well.  He is worth about 3 million per year in my book.  The first half he is worth 2.5 and the last half of the season he is worth 500K.

I know the housing market is at the bottom but there must be some other reason he rented for three years and now he is buying.  I can’t get past this, I mean, I know it is ridiculous but this is the Cubs after all.  Expect the worst right? (Oh boy, that was the Cubbie Ugly coming out in me)

So what gives? Does he know an extension is coming his way? Does he just love Chicago and has decided he wants some property here? Did he find his dream home after three years of looking and couldn’t say no?  It all just seems odd to me.

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In the News: Fukudome Has A New Home

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

The Headlines

Kosuke Fukudome has purchased a condo on Lake Shore Drive

We’ve talked about the fact that he may get traded this off-season as his salary is not nearly as bad now that his contract is nearing an end. That said, I wonder if the fact that he bought this condo has anything to do with him feeling like he’s not going to at least be shopped this off-season. I have to imagine that Jim Hendry would like to at least entertain offers for him, right? There were rumors that were shot down on Twitter that the Cubs were going to deal him to the Red Sox in exchange for Dice-K. The biggest question to me is whether or not he’ll be the starting right fielder for this team. We’ve seen how hot he can be in the early going and Tyler Colvin didn’t really do enough to be the unquestioned guy in that spot. Thoughts?

Ricketts proposes, but gets shot down

It’s hard the work up the courage to pop the question, especially when that question is of $300 million significance. Nonetheless, Ricketts got up the courage to pop said question the the city of Chicago and the mayor in a plan to help renovate Wrigley Field. I liked Daley’s response when discussing why he rejected the proposal:

The mayor said he likes the concept of a stadium renovation plan that would keep the Cubs at Wrigley for at least 35 years and free up the money the Ricketts family needs to develop a triangle building promised to Wrigleyville residents in exchange for a bleacher expansion.

But Daley said he’s not about to saddle his successor with a deal that requires Chicago taxpayers to forfeit 35 years of amusement-tax growth needed to bankroll basic city services.

“That would deny the next mayor — if I sign the agreement and say, ‘Go ahead’ — of the revenue they need to balance the budget,” Daley said. “And government needs money in order to balance budgets. (Source)

That’s refreshing to see someone do what’s right for the city rather than what’s right for his political career. Rickett’s plan moving forward to make the project happen? Well, let’s just say there wasn’t a plan B.

“if they’re the real Chicago fuckin’ fans, they can kiss my fuckin’ ass right downtown and PRINT IT.”

If you aren’t familiar with that phrase, it’s from one of the most memorable tirades ever in Chicago sports. Lee Elia is the man responsible for it. The 73 year old just signed on to help the Atlanta Braves as part of their baseball operations. Good for him.

Ask and you shall receive

I mentioned last week that Joe Morgan and Jon Miller were out as the announcers on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball telecast. I had hoped the job would go to Dan Shulman, who I like a lot. ESPN announced just that. Shulman will take over duties with Bobby Valentine  and Orel Hershiser as his color men. What I’m curious about is if this officially eliminates Valentine from any managerial consideration. We hear about him all the time and we’ll probably continue to do so until he takes a job managing again.

Return to your roots

After being spurned by the Cubs for the managerial job, Ryne Sandberg interviewed and was hired for the AAA managerial job with the Phillies. You may remember that the Phillies initially drafted Sandberg and traded him to the Cubs. I hate that it came to this, but I wish him the best.

File this one in the ‘uh oh’ file

Jim Hendry, when asked about the off-season,

“‘I’m not worried about the ‘splash’ factor,” said Hendry, who might be looking at a 10 percent drop from the $146 million Opening Day payroll of 2010 once chairman Tom Ricketts gets specific with the budget in the next few weeks. ”I’m worried about getting the right guys that make us better. We’ve already put the fifth-place thing behind us, and we’d like to think we’re going to build off the last two months [24-13 finish]. … It’s really imperative that we have two or three really good moves.” (Source)

I’m not saying it’s a bad thin, but it doesn’t get me all warm and fuzzy to think we won’t even look at big name guys.

The Trivia

As always, what follows below are three clues to consider when guessing the mystery ballplayer. See how many clues it takes before you can correctly guess. Start with clue # 1 and work your way through. Good luck. If you’re interested in more of these, they can be found in the book, Name that Ballplayer by Wayne Stewart

Clue # 1 – This left-handed power hitter, a member of the 500 home run club, was once involved in a brawl at third base, with Frank Robinson. Robinson had complained that the man in question applied a tag on him with too much force. The third-sacker hauled off and slugged Robinson, then asked, “How about that tag?”

Clue # 2 – A teammate of Hank Aaron’s for many year, he later managed Aaron.

Clue # 3 – This Hall of Famer has the initials “E.M.”

Click here for the answer


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GirlieView (11/15/2010)

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Let’s get right to the week in review, but don’t miss our discussion question at the end. Have a great Monday!

Lizzies

  • If he scrubbed any toilets, he has a first hand view of the Cubs next two seasons.
  • I like Hoarders and Intervention…you know from the start that those nut jobs are going to relapse as soon as the cameras shut off.
  • Hope you don’t hate the Cubs forever, but it was better for all parties to not sully your name with what’s coming.
  • Cubbie Cute fans are the ones who hope that Ryne Sandberg will manage and Harry Caray will fall from the heavens and broadcast for the Cubs if only for  just one more summer.
  • Some root with their heads, some root with their hearts, and some do a bit of both.
  • Maybe we can get Fontenot back because his hair was groovy.
    maybe I can tune into ESPN baseball again once in awhile.
  • “No more designated hitter!”
  • Is that all that different than saying his Mom thought it was very nice?
  • Fundamentally sound guys like that always are my favorites.

Lizard

  • In other, more important news, Jon Miller and Joe Morgan are no longer doing ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball!!!

Monday Morning Discussion Question

On Friday, Buddy admirably covered his favorite Cubs of all time and lots of folks chimed in (see it here if you missed it!) so I’m going to piggy-back off that a little bit. Who are your favorite three Cubs on the team NOW? Sorry, I realize this makes it a smidgen more difficult than Buddy’s question. :-) Go figure, I don’t think anyone mentioned any current Cubs as their favorites! (Sneak peak: Next week maybe we’ll talk about our current least favorites. Easier?)


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Who Do You Like?

Friday, November 12th, 2010

I’ve been a Cubs fan for more than 30 years (which doesn’t seem possible). While the last three decades haven’t produced a championship, they have given us a few interesting players to follow. Here are a few of my favorites.

Bill Buckner—Billy Buck never met a pitch he didn’t like, but that didn’t stop me from rooting for him. To be fair, I had no idea what on-base percentage was in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I was simply a young baseball fan who liked how hard he played. Buckner was part of some awful Cubs teams, but he still put up solid numbers. In 1978 he hit .323 in 117 games. Two years later he won the NL batting title. Though he never hit for power, the Cubs 1B was a doubles machine. My fondest memory of Billy Buck was his fight with Gary Carter. I always hated Gary Carter.

Rick Sutcliffe—It’s hard to believe, but in the mid 1980s it was tough to find an American League game on television (at least in Central Illinois). I knew a little bit about Sutcliffe when the Cubs acquired him from the Indians in 1984, but not enough to predict how dominant he would be. His 16-1 season produced a Cy Young Award and a trip to the playoffs. Though he never duplicated that magical season, I always enjoyed watching Big Red pitch (even after the arm injury).

Rafael Palmeiro—I was thrilled when the Cubs drafted Palmeiro out of Mississippi State in 1985, and ecstatic when they called him up one year later. Palmeiro had all the makings of a superstar. To the surprise of many, the Cubs sent him packing in the Mitch Williams deal in December of 1988. The word out of Wrigley was that the Cubs didn’t think Palmeiro would ever hit for power. Oops.

Rick Wilkins—You have to like a catcher who hits for power from the left side. Wilkins mashed 30 home runs in 1993, and at age 26 the future looked bright indeed. Unfortunately, Wilkins was a one-hit wonder. He knocked around the league for eight more seasons, but never came close to his previous production.

Brian McRae—After several decent seasons with the Royals, CF Brian McRae was traded to the Cubs for Geno Morones and Derek Wallace in April of 1995. McRae was a gifted defender with a decent bat, but his style of play was appealing. Plus, he wore a linebacker’s uniform number (56). Hal’s kid was an aggressive player who always seemed better than he actually was.

Ryne Sandberg— I saved the best for last. What’s not to love about the Hall of Fame 2B? Ryno was the perfect combination of talent and work ethic. Of his many great seasons, 1984 is still my favorite: .314/.367/.520, 19 HR, 36 2B, 19 3B, 84 RBI, 114 runs, 32 SB, 7 CS. Six years later, he led the National League with 40 homers. His career fielding percentage at 2B was .989. He played hard every day and kept his mouth shut. Sandberg was everything a Major Leaguer should be.

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