Thursday, December 27, 2007

Rocking Horse People Eat Marshmallow Pies

The Astros signed Darin Erstad to a $1M contract as a lefthanded bat off the bench.

The Transaction Oracle is too kind.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Oh, Havana, I've been searching for you everywhere

The White Sox signed Cuban exile Alexei Ramirez, who adds entertainment value to spring training by not having a pre-defined defensive position. A star in Cuban professional baseball, Ramirez supposedly can play second, short, and the outfield. Nobody really knows whether he can hit in the majors; Baseball Prospectus thinks the top Cuban league is akin to short-season A ball (that is, the Sally League). Given that Ramirez is 26 and has only faced serious competition in international tournaments, it's tough to expect anything from him except an option to AA.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

We Never Really Knew Each Other Anyway

Call it sour grapes if you want, but I'm kind of relieved the White Sox failed to land Torii Hunter, Aaron Rowand, Miguel Cabrera, and to a lesser extent, Kosuke Fukudome.

Hunter and Rowand don't project to be worth the money they're being paid. Rowand in particular raised polite oh-dear-god remarks from analysts. Considering that his projected ZIPs numbers aren't really any better than Brian Anderson's projected statistics from PECOTA last year (before the Grinderstad spring training incident and the injury), paying him a guaranteed $60M would have been nuts. I don't know which of Goldilocks, or Jerry Owens, or Ryan Sweeney will outhit Rowand over the next five years, but I bet one of them will, and they all might. I'm comfortable with giving them a chance.

Paying Hunter 50% more than that would have been even more nuts. Torii Hunter is a good center fielder, but dear God that is a lot of Arte Moreno's dinero for a team that already has one overpaid centerfielder with years left on his contract...

And God knows the price for Cabrera was too much to pay, as the Tigers will find out when AARP calls for their lineup in a couple of years.

Fukudome is a tougher call, but we don't actually know if he was even capable of playing a major league center field; a lot of the White Sox buzz tacitly assumed he could step in and play a solid center, and maybe his selection of the Cubs was partly his way of saying, "No, I can't."

Friday, December 07, 2007

So put another record on...

A lot of people love the Tiger deal.

One Tiger fan ran the numbers using Cyril Morong et al's lineup analyzer, which is a fun (if tedious) toy. They got a "tasty" 5.831 runs per game number.

5.831 runs per game is good, almost 950 runs. It's wrong, of course, because of the unstated fallacy that Cabrera (or anyone's) National League numbers translate to the AL. Put in the NL-to-AL translations for Miguel Cabrera and Jacque Jones (per Nate Silver), and you get a sharp drop from 5.831 to a still-good 5.658:

I ran the same numbers using the same source projections (Bill James) for current White Sox hitters (Note: These load real slow!) and got 5.300 runs per game. (Brian Anderson gives about the same result.) I'd be thrilled with this at this point, that's about 850 runs. (It doesn't matter a lot who plays center field. So let's say you put in Fukudome at .375/.500. The mill grinds away and says 5.554 runs per game, an increase of about 40 runs a season. You put BA or RS in center and you get about the same as with Owens.)

The problem is the estimator is, of course, sensitive to your guesses for OBA and SLG. I tweak the numbers a little without making them seem at all "fake" and I get the offense up to 5.580 runs per game:

As for the Tigers, put in some accelerated age-related decline for their geezers and you can get to 5.528.

Yeah, that's right, I said geezers. Their average lineup age is going to be about 32 years old. Gary Sheffield is going to be 39. Granderson and Cabrera are their youth, at least until they make a trade.

So if I put my thumb on the scale ONLY SLIGHTLY I get comparable offenses. (The ballparks aren't really comparable, of course, but never mind that).

Monday, December 03, 2007

He captured it and brought it home

Acquired, for minor league DH-to-be Chris Carter, Snakes' former top prospect Carlos Quentin...

I know Black Betsy is really high on Carter, and maybe with good reason, but right-handed players who play first base in A ball should have huge warning signs on them (since, if they are any kind of athlete, they'll be at third or in the outfield).

So I looked at Carter's minor league fielding statistics, and what did I see? A .977 fielding percentage at first base, which is otherwise known as "Dr. Stoneglove". (Frank Thomas' minor league fielding percentage was about
.987...) While Mike Ward would have loved ripping the poor guy a new one twice a week, I don't want to think about it.

Carter has already been used as a DH in the Sally League, because he can't play defense. So Kenny got a LF from the Snakes -- made extraneous by the Byrnes signing -- for a minor league DH.

As for Quentin, he's a stud prospect who lost his luster in a couple of injury-plagued seasons. Runs adequately (not good enough to play center), righthanded power hitter, threw OK before his injuries... kind of like BA with a penchant for being hit by pitches, more power, more raw talent, and somewhat less fielding ability. Can't play center -- he's a corner outfielder.

This is a very good deal for the White Sox.