Thursday, November 30, 2006

News from here and...there

Well well well...lots of differing opinions about yesterday's signing but encouraging signs that JP is trying to completely stock his pitching staff. If he gets two starting pitchers, the rotation would look like Halladay-Burnett-SP1-SP2-Chacin, leaving a whole lot of young pitchers out of a job. Let's see if he signs both what he would do. I think a trade involving Chacin or a couple of the young arms may be coming, hopefully for some impact position prospects (hopefully in the middle infield). In this article, it is mentioned that Russ will start the season at AAA as I expected. I did some more work on the free agent database to add the latest signings, I found some interesting tidbits offensively...

  • Clayton and Counsell both had negative VORP years last season, have very similar 3 year VORP avgs and are relatively the same age. Counsell got two years, $6 million while Clayton got a one year commitment from the Jays for $1.5 million. The difference may come in Counsell's better defensive numbers last season...but still looks like JP got a relative bargain in this market, Clayton's $/3 year avg VORP is the 3rd lowest of all free agent signings
  • Zaun is another terrific bargain when looking at both last year's VORP and the 3 year avg VORP, he's under $250,000 per run for each category.
  • Adam Kennedy is an amazing bargain in this market, as was talked about when he signed that contract

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

the Jays have a new Shortstop

Well I thought I wouldn't miss too much if I took a personal day but the Jays decided to sign another free agent: Royce Clayton! Ken Rosenthal reports that it's a done deal, 1 year, $1.5 million. Clayton is not the most impressive signing but comes cheaply and has great hair! Seriously though the guy brings a good glove but not much of a bat as you can tell by looking at his OPS+ of 66 last year and his total VORP of -1.9. It will allow the Jays to keep Adams at AAA to help him find whatever he lost while they carry McDonald and Clayton as 2nd and 3rd middle infielders. Clayton is a pure SS while McDonald can play both middle infield positions and has played SOME 3b. I wouldn't be surprised to see McDonald practice a bit more at 3B to make him Glaus' backup.

  • Bigger news may be in this article, where it is stated that the Clayton signing is to allow money to go to TWO starters, not just one...Lilly and Meche? WOW!
  • The full story on Barajas
  • The Jays heavily courted Meche yesterday and would love to end up with him. Hentgen and Thomas entertained him as well as the staff
  • In this article, it is stated that Wells is not being used in 2007 promotional material, just in case
  • The Yanks have won the rights to the second Japanese pitcher to hit the market, paying $25 million. This should decrease their interest in one Theodore Lilly.
  • Kevin Millar will rejoin the Orioles who have spent a lot of money in free agency as of yet on their bullpen, 1b and backup catcher. Rosenthal speaks of the bullpen "upgrade".

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Book Corner: Freakonomics

I've decided that I will start a bi-weekly(or-so) column about different litterature that I recommend, mostly baseball books that you may have skipped over or that people don't know about yet. This time however I am starting with a book which isn't about baseball *gasp*. It's a book I recently completed and it's called freakonomics. I know the name sounds strange, however the book is written by an award winning economist who uses his knowledge to explore social issues instead of the same old economics issues.
It's a great read and written simply (because of the influence of a co-writer), and surprisingly not as dryly as I was expecting. In one chapter, the book explores the inside workings of a drug dealing gang and finds out that their inner workings are very much like that of a big company with a board of directors, 'district managers' and then the underpaid grunts. I found this chapter to be absolutely fascinating. In another, he examines a conspiracy of match fixing in sumo wrestling along with cheating teachers who help their students perform well on state exams to keep their positions. Throughout the book, there is a heavy usage of statistics which is one reason I recommend it to readers of this page. But it is an absolutely fascinating read and I truly recommend it to everyone to read something entertaining and that may make you explore new ways of thinking. Click on the title to be brought straight to the amazon page, i believe it's on sale for under $20...

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

  • Also, JP Ricciardi missed an interview on the FAN tonight because he was entertaining a free agent. The mystery man is Gil Meche who was at the Leafs game tonight!
  • Updates on the hat below!

A new hat!

Well the Toronto Blue Jays are unveiling a new hat today at the Frank Thomas press conference! It's a black hat with a scripted "T" in the gray/blue scheme. This hat will most probably replace the grey hat that the team stopped wearing last year. A pic of the new hat (and new DH) to the right..News from the press conference:

  • They came to terms with Gregg Zaun at "midnight last night", he "was the first choice all along"
  • Overbay gave up his number and Thomas said "he'd do something special for him". Thomas enjoyed his convo with Lyle and mentioned that Lyle was considering going back to number 11
  • No payroll yet, or at least they won't reveal it

    Now look at this jersey, it was suggested that we should compare the T's...and sure enough the T from the Toronto in the jersey does not match the T on the hat. So hopefully the hat won't be worn with the jersey that says Toronto and only with the Black 'Jays' jersey. I can't believe they did not use the same script....And confirmation from the star that the Jays will no longer wear their grey caps and will alternate between the black hats. Godfrey was quoted as saying that the fans and players like them most.

There's gotta be a morning after

Ok well...the Jays catcher next season will be....Gregg Zaun! According to Jeff Blair, the Jays have re-signed their catcher to a 2 year, $7.25 million deal that includes an option for a third season for $3.5 million based on games played. So the two sides conceded a bit of their demands to come to an agreement. It seems that Rod Barajas did not show up for the physical because there was pressure from the MLBPA to ask for more money than what he took. The deal would have paid him less annually than he made last year, something not appreciated by the rest of the Players' Association. He fired his agent and will now be looking for a new deal with a new team with a new agent. Buster Olney meanwhile suggests that maybe the Jays are covering for Barajas and that he failed his physical, unlikely but you never know. More as details break...

Monday, November 27, 2006

WTH??? Zaun on the verge of re-signing?

Apparently, Zaun is on the verge of re-signing with the Blue Jays. This is completely out of left field.... There's no word on the Barajas deal but I'm guessing it's not official yet...Could JP have used the Barajas leverage to drive Zaun's price down? Or did he just sign two FA catchers to give him incredible depth at the position? Apparently, the Jays deal with Barajas deal broke down. Barajas allegedly cancelled his trip for his physical...More as soon as more breaks honestly... Jeff Blair reports that a source told him "One of these guys is going to be the Blue Jays catcher," and Ricciardi has said that there is no deal with anyone at this time and that he hopes to have a deal with someone done this week, no comment on Barajas. Newsday in NY reports that the Jays HAVE re-signed Zaun and that he was due to fly to New York to meet the Yanks' management but that has "been put on hold".

Jeff Blair has his latest article about John Gibbons and still no further news on the signings. He does however speculate about the lineup and shares the possibility of Wells hitting second. That would be one fearsome lineup if they did that.

Something we do know is that there should be a press conference for the Thomas signing tomorrow, where JP will probably avoid all catcher questions.

Sportsnet News at 10pm reports that Rod Barajas was not signed by the Jays...and that it COULD be that Zaun is CLOSE to re-signing with Toronto.

If EVER both are's their splits over the last three seasons
Barajas : vs LHP .712 OPS, vs RHP .746 OPS
Zaun: vs LHP .809 OPS, vs RHP .752 OPS

So I believe Zaun would get all the at-bats vs LHP if both are signed with them mostly splitting time vs RHP.

Free Agent Review

As of yet in free agency, teams seem to be paying incredible amounts for hitters. Looking at Value Over Replacement Player and the salaries handed out during free agency is a good way to measure what teams are paying for the production received in free agency. Obviously, it is very basic and does not factor in defense or any personality characteristics such as leadership. The data can be found HERE. Of the 19 hitters who were given contracts worth over $1 million a season as of Sunday; teams are handing out an average of $479,680.77 per run in VORP, according to the 2006 statistics. When looking at the hitters’ VORP averaged out over the last three seasons, the amount increases to $509,906.71 although this is heavily affected by the contract given to Scott Spiezio, when this contract is removed the average team is giving out $319,312.99 per run in VORP.

It seems most teams are looking at long term statistics and not just last year’s production, as 11 of the 19 hitters signed had a worse year, according to VORP, than their 3 year average. Spiezio is one of the exceptions, he cashed in on his first positive VORP in 3 seasons (possibly because of the move to the National League) and his contract looks good if only taking in only last season’s numbers.

So as of yet, the worse signing according to VORP is Alex Gonzalez who was signed more so for his defense than any offensive production he could provide. Impressively Kaz Matsui and Wes Helms are the best bargains this season according to the stats. I’m honestly surprised Kaz did not get more attention for playing a difficult position and being better than the replacement player.

The Cubs *GASP* overpaid for their free agents except Aramis Ramirez although if you look at the 3 year average, Pierre may actually be a comparative bargain compared to the other signings. The fat contract handed out to Gary Matthews Jr. is an overpay (again in this year’s market) but only if you look at the 3 year average. If you look at only the 2006 VORP, the contract may be a comparative bargain.

Finally, Jays fans may be interested to know that Frank Catalanotto is a comparative bargain in this year’s market as he is paid less than the average per VORP for both the 2006 seasons and the three year average. Frank Thomas is a comparative bargain also as he is vastly underpaid according to alst year’s numbers and is right around the average when utilizing the three year average numbers, that includes his injury riddled 2005 season.

As for Rod Barajas, if he is signed for two years, $ six million? Well if you only look at last year’s numbers, it’s not pretty…but if you look at the three year average VORP, he’s right around the average also.

Early Morning news

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Depodesta's Reign Part 2: Trade Deadline Fun

Here's part two for your reading pleasure, the article will most probably be posted Tuesday if not earlier. I'm also working on a free agent review for the hitters as of yet utilizing *gasp* sabrmetric statistics.

9: Traded Paul Lo Duca, Guillermo Mota and Juan Encarnacion to Florida for Hee Seop Choi, Brad Penny and minor leaguer Bill Murphy

This was THE trade completed by Depo. In the end, people will point to this trade as the most significant deal he made. He traded lifetime Dodger and catcher Lo Duca, a fan favorite however overrated he was, along with fire-baller Mota and outfielder Encarnacion to a Marlin team that was very much in the race for the NL East title. In return he acquired a player that, for critics, would come to represent the fault in sabrmertic logic; walk machine Choi along with starting pitcher Brad Penny and a minor league player. Unfortunately, Depodesta didn't factor in his manager's feelings about the trade, and Jim Tracy often took his anger out on Choi, even benching him in favor of Jason Phillips. Choi was lost on waivers to Boston after the Nomar signing, but for a minimum salary for parts of two seasons, he provided the Dodgers with a total Value Over Replacement Player of 10.1 and an OPS+ in his first full Dodger season of 110. Penny meanwhile is the gem of this trade, he is the only player still playing for one of the teams and has performed well for the Dodgers. In the past two seasons he's won a combined 23 games and has posted ERA+ of 104 and 106 with VORPs over 30 in both seasons. However, he was injured in 2004; barely threw for the Dodgers during their playoff run, and threw only one inning in the playoffs.

LoDuca performed well for the Marlins until his trade to the Mets before the 2006 season. He's a below average hitter (OPS+ of 82 and 92) but brings a better value than a replacement player (VORPs of 4.2 and 21.5) along with leadership for pitchers. Mota regressed upon his arrival to Florida ; after a 2003 ERA+ of 204 (with an ERA of 1.97 in 105 innings) and an ERA+ of 193 in his 63 innings with the Dodgers in 2004, he posted an ERA+ of 85 with Florida after the trade. The following season, he threw 67 innings and managed only an ERA+ of 85 before being traded to the Red Sox. Encarnacion would not help the playoff chase either with an OPS+ of 85 and VORP of 1.9 but would perform well the following season with an OPS+ of 113 and a VORP of 28.3 before leaving Florida as a free agent.

As previously stated, this is the trade that critics will point to when talking about Depo. The sabrmetric beauty that was Choi did not work out as planned (although he did give good production for his salary) and pundits say Depo was stupid to trade so much for him. But, he acquired a starting pitcher who has been effective for the Dodgers and is still on the team without giving up anyone with a larger statistical value. It can also be argued that Choi almost played as well as Encarnacion in the season following the trade!

10: Traded Koyie Hill, Reggie Abercombie and minor leaguer Bill Murphy to Arizona for Steve Finley and Brent Mayne
Originally, according to some sources, the deal with Florida was to pick up pieces in order for the Dodgers to acquire Randy Johnson. Obviously that trade did not happen and instead the Dodgers acquired Finley and Mayne from the D'backs to help improve their playoff bound team. Both would only spend the remainder of the season as Dodgers with very different productions during this time. Finely would perform well as evidenced by his VORP of 12.2 and his OPS+ of 112 and helped the Dodgers fill a void in centre field in their playoff chase. Mayne would bring some experience at catcher after the loss of Lo Duca but horribly at the plate (-6.3 VORP, OPS+ of 29). Both Hill and Abercrombie would be plucked off waivers from the D'backs with Hill only getting 114 at bats in Arizona and Abercrombie getting none. Murphy has not made the Majors to this date and is not ranked as a top prospect from any list I've seen.

11: Traded Tom Martin to Atlanta, Received minor leaguer Matt Merricks
*Yawn* Tom Martin threw 19.3 total innings for the Braves before being released in 2005, although he did post a VORP of 3.8 in his short time there in 2004, while Merricks hasn't made the Majors.

12: Traded Dave Roberts to the Red Sox, Received minor leaguer Henri Stanley
I can't quite remember if Roberts had an impact on the Red Sox during the 2004 season…it's really just not coming up! OH WAIT. Roberts would perform well in his partial season with the Red Sox with a VORP of 1.7, OPS+ of 94 and 5 stolen bases. He will be forever remembered for the steal in the ALCS that changed the Red Sox' fortune and being traded for a loot including Jay Payton immediately after the World Series. Legend has it, that the trade involving Roberts and Payton was actually negotiated during the World Series. Stanley has not made the Majors and is not a top prospect to my knowledge.

the Milwaukee/Arizona trade

So if you haven't heard of it there was a trade yesterday involving Milwauke and Arizona, a six player deal that is quite interesting and may be one of those trades where both sides win...

To Milwaukee:
Johnny Estrada: A 31 year old catcher who last season had an 91 OPS+ in over 100 games and had asked to be traded by Arizona when they wouldn't sign him long term. He had a VORP of 14.3 last season and will replace the aging Damian Miller as the everyday catcher.
Greg Aquino: A 29 year old reliever who last season had a 107 ERA+ in 48.3 IPs after horrible 2005 along with a VORP of 6.2.
Claudio Vargas: A 29 year old starting pitcher who last season had his highest ERA+ since his rookie year: 99 ERA+. He also had a career high 167.7 IP along with a VORP of 13.4.

To Arizona:
Doug Davis: A 31 year old starter who last season had a 91 ERA+ (lowest since first full season in Majors). He has pitched over 200 innings for 3 straight years, had a VORP of 18.8 and will be a free agent after this season.
Dana Eveland: A 23 year old LHP with a 55 ERA+ in 27.7 IPs in the Majors. He was much better in AAA with 2.73 ERA, 110 Ks in 105 IPs.
Dave Kryznel: A 26 year old CF, currently playing in AAA where he had a line of .213/.314/.359 with 23 stolen bases

I think there's a better chance that Milwaukee would get the better end of this deal than Arizona. Davis has been a good pitcher and they badly needed someone behind Brandon Webb but Vargas comes off a career season. Hopefully for them it's buy low (Davis), sell high (Vargas), however they could lose Davis after this season. Meanwhile, Estrada will be replaced by 25 year old Chris Snyder and a prospect. The prospects acquired in this deal weren't found in any top ten lists although Eveland seems interesting as a LOOGY and possibly more. This seems like a good baseball deal on all sides, the future will determine it...

  • JD Drew is close to being a Red Sox according to some sources
  • Look below for the first part of the Depodesta article about his trades in his 2 years as general manager. The second part should be posted tomorrow.

Depodesta's Reign Part 1: One busy off-season!

As promised Part 1 of the Article on Depo...enjoy!

Hired by the Los Angeles Dodgers in February 2004, Paul DePodesta was viewed as the next great young General Manager in Major League Baseball. Unfortunately, it did not work out and he was fired in October of the next season. During that time period he completed 17 trades, a number that is even more impressive with the knowledge that all these transactions were completed in a year's span between March 29, 2004 and March 31, 2005. So was he that bad a General Manager to be fired after his second season? Was it a problem with management that led to his firing? In this article, we will examine his trades with a closer look to attempt to identify why the prodigal son was fired so quickly.

1: Traded Jason Frasor to Toronto in exchange for Jayson Werth
Just before the season, the Jays figured out that although they had no room for Werth on the roster, he had impressed enough through spring training that he would not be able to get through waivers. The Dodgers were interested and willing to give up young reliever Jason Frasor in what would be DePo's first trade as General Manager. Both players were earning the minimum in their first season and produced well with VORPs over 15. Frasor continued his solid pitching for the Jays throughout the next two seasons while Werth was not on the Dodgers roster in 2006. The Dodgers were able to get a good reserve outfielder for a reliever that they didn't feel they had much use for, although he has been quite solid as a Blue Jay.

2: Traded Steve Colyer to Detroit for Cody Ross
Cody Ross barely got a chance to play for the Dodgers (39 at bats) before being shipped to Cincinnati in 2006. The left-handed Colyer came out of the Detroit bullpen 41 times, even winning a game while establishing an ERA+ of 70 and a VORP of -1.7. Pretty inconsequential trade all around.

3: Traded Andrew Brown and Franklin Gutierrez to Cleveland for Milton Bradley
The slap hitting Gutierrez had 137 at bats with Cleveland in 2006 with an OPS+ of 69 while slugging only .360 and achieving a VORP of -3.6. Andrew Brown, 23 years old, threw 10 innings for Cleveland in 2006. Bradley had two good seasons with the Dodgers, with OPS+ of 108 and 121, a total VORP of 49.2 along with 29 total win shares. He was traded to Oakland before the 2005 season with Antonio Perez for outfield prospect Andre Ethier.

4: Traded Jolbert Cabrera to Seattle for Aaron Looper and Ryan Ketchner
* Traded Aaron Looper to Seattle for Glenn Bott
Looper was designated for assignment to make room for Bradley, Seattle was interested and he was traded back to Seattle soon after for Glenn Bott. Unfortunately, neither player would ever play in the Majors again; actually Jolbert Cabrera was the only player involved that would following the transaction. He would play 7 different positions for Seattle in 2004 while achieving an OPS+ of 87, a VORP of 7.5 and driving in 47 runs.

5: Traded Jason Romano to Tampa Bay in exchange for Antonio Perez
Jason Romano's stay in Tampa Bay lasted only 4 games before he was plucked off waivers by Cincinatti. Perez had a solid 2005 with an OPS+ of 104, VORP of 15.7 in 259 at bats before being traded with Milton Bradley for Andre Ethier. This is definitely one of the better trades of the off-season, acquiring a player who would help out the team in the present and was then used as a piece to acquire a good young player with a bright future.

6: Traded Rick White to Cleveland in exchange for minor leaguer Trey Dyson
After signing Rick White in the off-season, he was quickly shipped to Cleveland in exchange for a minor leaguer who would never see time in the Majors. White, meanwhile, would pitch adequately for the Indians; in 78 innings he had an ERA+ of 86 and a VORP of 2.7.

7: Traded Tanyon Sturtze to the Yankees for Brian Myrow
Mynow would barely play for the Dodgers with 20 at bats in 2005 while Sturtze became a mainstay in the Yankee bullpen although he never threw exceptionally well. His ERA+ was of 82 in 2004 and 94 in 2005 in over 150 total innings between the two seasons while establishing a total VORP of 9.1 during his three season with the Yankees.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Reported Friday Night Signings

This may be the last time I go out during a Habs game, standing at the bar I found out that the Canadiens came back and won against the best team in the division with one second left in OT, and that there were many reported signings including new info on Rod Barajas. BTW for those looking for the Beane Count wrapup, look lower and there will be a new article posted most probably tomorrow on another that didn't last two years in his job...

  • Jeff Blair has more specifics on the signing that will most probably happen on Tuesday stating that Barajas has a 2 year, $5.5-6 million contract. It seems that Zaun rejected their offer and is currently looking at offers to be a backup(?!?) and that Ricciardi wanted a catcher before showing up to the Winter Meetings. If Zaun signs with another team and is offered arbitration by the Jays, that will mean one more sandwich pick for the team.

    Barajas doesn't have a good bat (OPS+ of 78, career high of 99 the year before) but does have the potential for a bit more pop than Zaun and is 5 years younger. The Jays will lose a clubhouse presence but should improve their awful catching defense and maybe catch a few runners this season! Last season they allowed 130 steals while only catching 32 runners (19.75% rate), Barajas caught 19 of the 57 steal attempts against him last season (33.3%). If runners are scared of this arm, they will also attempt to take the extra base less often, which would be huge for the Jays pitching staff.
  • The Giants are close to signing two free agents: Rich Aurilia and Dave Roberts. The Aurilia deal is said to be a 2 year deal worth $2-3 million per season while the Roberts deal is said to be 2-3 years at $5-6 million per season. Gotta say, I'm surprised that Roberts will not be making more after the ridiculous Pierre signing. If Roberts can reproduce his godly stolen base ratio of 2006 (or 2004), two seasons where he combined to be caught a total of 9 times with 79 steals, this signing is a steal...He seemed to be comfortable in San Diego also as he put up his first two seasons of OPS+ over 100 so maybe this trend can continue in the spacious AT&T park.
  • Saturday trade: Check it out, analysis tomorrow when I actually have time

Friday, November 24, 2006

Carlos Lee takes a trip to Houston...

and gets a 6 year, $100 million deal for it. Not bad at all for Carlos who had a career year last year with 37 home runs, .540 slugging and an OPS+ of 125. This is a guy who's combined VORP (47.3) was lower than Gary Matthews Jr. (50.0) last season and he'll be earning more than $16 million per year for playing a corner outfield position (and not especially well at that). I think Ricciardi really saw where the market was headed and was smart to strike on Thomas quickly so that the price would not go up, nor would he be stuck giving extra years to a player like Lee.

Night Update:
It appears the Jays may have signed Rod Barajas with this coming from ESPN Insider MLB Rumors:
"Oh, Canada!

Nov 24 - Free-agent catch Rod Barajas, formerly with Texas, is expected to sign with the Blue Jays next week, if he passes a physical early in the week."

As soon as more details break, they will be here. The good news of this signing would be that we would probably gain a sandwich pick from Zaun leaving, which would be our 5th draft pick in the first two rounds gained of the offseason.

Beane count posted, wrapped up!

Well the entire Beane Count has now been posted, hopefully it’s not another slow news day today, however the market is very much like Ricciardi predicted, quiet in between the meetings…

Of the 29 trades analyzed in the Beane Count:
12 were Player Acquisitions in which Beane gave up prospects for a more polished player

9 were baseball deals in which players of similar talent levels and contracts were traded for each other

3 were role player dumps and 3 were Dumps of bigger salaries

2 were role player acquisitions

An interesting fact is of the 3 big salary dumps, Beane actually acquired players that ended up being more productive than the players traded while ridding the A’s of over $11 million. This is mostly because of Terrence Long, however Oakland acquired a total of 13 VORP runs by means of these trades and that does not include the fact that Long was flipped for Mark Kotsay, who is still with the team. The role player dumps were not as successful as the players traded saved the team around $2 million and the loss of VORP was of 17.3. The 2 role player acquired trades made up for this however, as the players acquired cost about $2 million and the gain in VORP was of 18.3. The Ron Gant trade excluded from this observation for entertainment purposes was an acquisition of around $1 million in salary for a VORP of 4.4.

The baseball deals ended up with a BIG advantage in VORP in Oakland’s favour of almost 250 runs. The difference in salaries, from what I could find, was to Oakland’s disadvantage as they picked up around $8 million in salary (after withdrawing cash traded). But imagine, 9 trades made by Billy Beane and he added 250 runs of VORP while adding only $8 million in payroll! There’s also the added value of these trades by later trades of Terrence Long (Kenny Rogers), 4 first round picks (Izzy, Damon), and Ted Lilly (Carlos Pena). All in all, Beane seems to have dominated when making baseball deals.

Beane paid a hefty price to acquire players that could help his team win now as he ended up losing almost 100 runs in VORP in these types of trades while paying over $10 million more in first year salaries. The losses of Karsay, Bonderman and Hinske really skew these numbers but sometimes you have to pay a hefty price to win now.

In the end, it seems that Beane really did have some success with trades in his first five season, more success than Ricciardi...

So there you have it, the Beane Count in all its glory! Read it if you'd like, stay tuned, the next analysis is already being worked on. Check out the Ricciardi Project parts if you haven't already...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Beane Count Part 6

The before last part of the Beane Count is up today since it's a slow news day as of yet, let's hope the action picks up later on!

Trade number 22: Mark Bellhorn to the Chicago Cubs for Adam Morrissey
Bellhorn, a former 2 nd round pick, was deemed expendable because of two emerging youngsters at his positions, Mark Ellis and Eric Chavez. The 27 year old was shipped to the Cubs in exchange for Morrissey, who would never have a meaningful impact in the Majors. He exploded onto the scene in his first season at Wrigley Field, establishing an OPS+ of 133 and VORP of 42.1 , with 27 home runs in 445 at bats. He regressed in the following season with an OPS+ of 69 in 139 at bats with Chicago before being traded in-season for Jose Hernandez (who was later utilized with a minor leaguer and Bobby Hill in the package to acquire Aramis Ramirez and Kenny Lofton). All in all, Beane gave up a player making near minimum salary who gave another team good returns for nothing.

Trade number 23: Eric Hinske, Justin Miller to Toronto for Billy Koch
After letting his assistant, J.P. Ricciardi leave the organization to take over as general manager of the Blue Jays, Beane was nice enough to complete Ricciardi's first trade. In the process, he acquired a closer to replace the departed Izzy. Koch saved 44 games in Oakland in his only season, establishing a VORP of 24.2 and an ERA+ of 142 in over 90 innings of work. Miller barely threw for the Jays, however, Eric Hinske had an incredible season at third base in his first season, winning the Rookie of the Year award and establishing a VORP of 55.4. He would be signed to a long term extension and would never produce at the same rate again. Koch meanwhile was trade in the off-season along with Neil Cotts for closer Keith Foulke. All in all, this was a good trade by Beane giving up a good prospect who was blocked by Eric Chavez and an average pitcher for a needed commodity in Koch.

Trade 24: Mark Guthrie, Tyler Yates to the Mets for David Justice and $1.2 million
Apparently, Justice was not to be served at Shea Stadium. A week after acquiring the veteran outfielder from the Yankees, the Mets shipped him and some cash to Oakland for two pitchers. In Moneyball, it is stated that the Yankees picked up an additional sum so that Oakland only paid $3.5 of the $7 million owed to Justice. The outfielder was referred to as an “experiment” by Oakland assistant GM Paul Deposteta, whose study found that aging players were most likely to retain their ability to get on base than anything else. In his final season, Justice showed that he could still get on base (70 walks for an OBP of .376) and he established a VORP of 18.4, and an OPS+ of 106. The pitchers traded by Oakland both only spent one season in New York for a total VORP of 9.4. This may have been the experiment that made Oakland take a chance on Frank Thomas in 2006, something that paid off immensely for the team.

Trade 25: Jason Hart, Gerald Laird, Ryan Ludwick, Mario Ramos to Texas for Carlos Pena and Mike Venafro
Sometimes teams are just looking to swap prospects which is exactly what happened in this trade. Beane had long coveted Texas ' 2 nd best prospect Carlos Pena and was able to acquire him along with left-handed reliever Mike Venafro. The deal with Texas was completed with former Oakland scouting director Grady Fuson who had overseen the drafting of the four prospects traded to Texas . Unfortunately, none of the prospects have made very significant contributions as of yet for Texas . The only prospect who had a season above replacement level was catcher Gerald Laird, who in 2006 had a VORP of 12.2 with an OPS+ of 102. Also, Ryan Ludwick was traded to Cleveland in a deal that saw Shane Spencer and Ricardo Rodriguez come to Texas . But these were not the returns the Texas organization was expecting from 4 of Oakland 's top 12 prospects at the time (according to Baseball America ) including their top two prospects. Meanwhile, Pena struggled as an Athletic and was shipped to Detroit by mid-season in a three-way trade we will examine tomorrow. Venafro spent one season with the Athletics and never contributed significantly in the Major Leagues after the trade.

Trade 26: Luis Vizcaino to the Rangers for Justin Duchscherer
After two seasons of under average pitching from Vizcaino, Oakland shipped him off to Texas in exchange for reliever Justin Duchscherer. Texas flipped him to Milwaukee for Jesus Pena almost immediately and Vizcaino thrived with the Brewers; throwing 81 innings with an ERA+ of 134 and even gathering five saves with his 2.99 ERA. Pena never threw in the Majors again after the trade, leaving Texas without anything valuable. Duchscherer started three games in his first season with Oakland before becoming a reliever in 2004. He has been a positive contributor coming out of the A's bullpen with ERA+s of 129, 143, 204 & 152, along with VORPs of 4, 30.2, 30 and 19.6 in his four seasons in Oakland while earning near league minimum for everyone of those seasons. His ERA+ of 204 in 2005 was second on the team to closer Huston Street . This has been a great trade by Beane and co. by trading a reliever who had been effective for one that has been very effective for the team while earning near the league minimum.

Vernon Wells

He is a special player who utilizes every one of the 5 tools. He had a career year last season hitting in front of Troy Glaus and could this year hit in front of Thomas and Glaus. He is also the Jays most valuable trade chip and is being talked about A LOT this off-season. It's tough to say whether the team is better with or without him, however the Angels are trying to make that decision easier for Blue Jays management. It seems that for a big hitter such as Wells, Jones or Manny they are starting the package with Ervin Santana and Scot Shields, two inexpensive quality arms. The Angels may not be getting much action from these packages because it seems they are close to a 5 year, $50 million contract with Gary Matthews Jr. to play Centre Field.

Ricciardi and co. are afraid of how much Wells could cost in free agency next year or how much he could cost in an extension right now. I'm not convinced that he would get as much as thought in an open market after next season. As of right now, there would be 5 full-time centre fielders on next year's free agent market including three who are near the top of the class (Wells, A. Jones and Hunter), the other two being Mark Kotsay and Aaron Rowand. There would be more players for teams to spread their money around and therefore there may be less money for Wells. All that is important is that Ricciardi better make his decision soon and know that this decision, maybe more than any other, will be looked back upon the most.

  • This isn't baseball related, however it is football related, there's a high schooler who is absolutely incredible. On this page, there are two videos of him, one of him hurdling an opposing player and the other of an incredible run where he just can't be tackled!
  • Forget the Angels in the Wells sweepstakes. They have signed Gary Matthews Jr. to a 5 year, $50 million deal. This also impacts the Jays in compensation for Justin Speie, because Matthews is higher ranked than Speier, the Jays will now receive a sandwich pick along with a second rounder instead of the first rounder.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Congratulations Morneau

Well, it looks like a Canadian has won the American League MVP for the first time. Minnesota Twins' first baseman Justin Morneau was named AL MVP today, narrowly beating out Derek Jeter. He's only 25 and last season he hit over 30 home runs, gathered over 120 RBIs and had a batting average of .321. This gives Canada the reigning MVPs in three of the four major league sports (Steve Nash in the NBA and Joe Thornton in the NHL being the others).

5 years, $45 million???

5 years, $45 million. $9 million a year! I wanted to write about this last night, but I just knew that I would not get any intelligent thoughts on paper aside from outrage. You know that baseball teams have found new sources of revenues when Juan Pierre just received that fat contract. Pierre is a 28 year old leadoff hitter who can get hits (.292 BA last year) but isn’t able to draw walks (32), who steals bases (58) but gets caught way too often (20), adding barely 5 runs to his team’s totals with his stolen bases. He has only had one OPS+ over 100, the benchmark for being average. All in all, Pierre is a good player (18 VORP), just maybe not a player who should be awarded $45 million deals. The market has simply gone crazy and it really makes you wonder who will be next to receive an incredible deal. At the beginning of the off-season, I thought it would be a smart strategy to trade Vernon Wells and sign a mid-level free-agent like Pierre or Roberts to leadoff and replace Wells in the outfield.

Now, Roberts should be demanding a short-term deal for about the same amount of money. He’s a smarter base stealer (49 steals, 6 caught stealing) and is recognized for changing the face of the ALCS when the Red Sox were down 3-1. He’s better at drawing walks (.360 OBP last year) and actually had OPS+ of 100 or over in the last two seasons and had a better VORP last season at 22.2. Originally, I thought he’d make $5 million over 3 years, I wouldn’t be surprised if he receives a deal similar to that of Frank Thomas’. So what’s going on this off-season? The pitchers aren’t even signed yet and already the deals seem incredibly high. It really puts a premium on growing your own talent in-house.

So are the Jays ahead? They could receive 4 draft picks in the top 50 for the loss of Speier and F-Cat unless
Texas and Anaheim sign higher ranked free agents. If someone signs Molina before December 1st, there’s a possibility of two more high draft picks, allowing Ricciardi to re-stock a farm system which is lacking in quality prospects. This could be the off-season that makes Ricciardi’s career as a general manager with signings, trades and draft pick compensation.

Buster Olney has this quote on his INSIDER column today:
"Our guys think it's going to be a very, very good high school draft," said J.P. Ricciardi, the Blue Jays' GM. "What this will allow us to do is to maybe draft some high school kids, and then give them some time to develop. When we first came in here, we really were in a position where we had to draft college kids. Not next year."

  • Over at Batter's Box today they have a review of the Jays' prospects that are playing in the Arizona Fall League, it's a good read.
  • Top Prospect Alert has a Top 100 prospects for the next season, note worthy for Jays fans is Adam Lind at 29 and 19 year old Travis Snider at 64.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A tale of three designated hitters

Frank Thomas - Blue Jays
Age 38
2006 season: .270/.381/.545, OPS+ of 141, 41.3 VORP (with Oakland)
2007 Salary: $1 million (+$4.56 million from signing bonus)

Jason Giambi - Yankees
Age 35
2006 season: .253/.413/.558, OPS+ of 154, 47.4 VORP
2007 salary: $21 million (+ $500k bonus)

David Ortiz - Red Sox
Age 30
2006 season: .287/.414/.636, OPS+ of 164, 76.8 VORP
2007 season: $13 million

Well the Jays obviously get the biggest 2007 bargain as Thomas’ contract will only count for about $5.5 million, his 2008 figure will be near Ortiz’s $13 million. All three are slow SLOW players and shouldn’t be counted on to steal any bases. It seems that all three AL East teams have decided that to win the division you’re going to need one heck of a good bat at DH which is smart. Why have a DH when he can barely hit better than an average player (like Hillenbrand)? The importance of the designated hitter comes in him being one of your best hitters because that is the only thing he needs to worry about. These three men will have a huge impact on the division race and as we saw in the division battle, it's important to have one steady DH.

Sunday night news

Well good evening, hope everyone had a great weekend. There's some action going on today, some that impacts the Jays and one HUGE signing in Chicago

  • The Cubs have signed Alfonso Soriano to a monster 8 year, $136 million deal, the fifth biggest package ever given to a MLB player. They are as of yet not commenting on the signing but it looks like he may be their new leadoff hitter and centre fielder. He had 46 home runs to go along with 41 stolen bases last year and is an incredible offensive threat who also had an OPS+ of 136 last season. Gammons thinks it's a good move.
    Think the Cubs want to break the curse? As of yet they've signed Aramis Ramirez, Mark Derosa, Kerry Wood and Wade Miller along with trading for starter(?) Neil Cotts and hiring Lou Pinella.
  • The Jays have apparently picked up four big draft picks today. Free agent reliever Justin Speier signed on with the Angels have a few effective season as the Jays setup man. That gives the team the Angels' first round pick(24th), as long as the Angels don't sign a higher rated free agent along with a sandwich pick between the first and second round. Frank Cat has also left the team, signing with the Texas Rangers. This would give the team the Rangers 1st round pick(16th) and a sandwich pick, the first round pick is again contingent on the Rangers not signing another higher rated free agent.
    IF the picks stay with the Jays and the team has as bad a system as critics are saying, that should change next year when they pick 5 times in the first 40 or so picks.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Weekend news

Big football game today, I think the GMs and agents are watching instead of working...

Friday, November 17, 2006

FRANK THOMAS, It's official!

Well the Jays have answered the pace set by the Red Sox as they have now signed Frank Thomas to a 2 year, $18 million contract with an option for a third year at $10 million. He's a type B free agent and that means the Jays don't lose a draft pick!!! The press conference is at 2:30pm. That's a big amount, certainly for someone who has been injury prone however Thomas proved last year that he could lead and provide a very significant bat to the lineup. 39 home runs would look good in the Jays lineup and so would his .381 OBP. However this is a big percentage of the payroll and I truly believe that JP has more money than he has alluded to. If not, there may be a trade ready for Vernon Wells which would see pitching coming back the Jays way. But this is definitely a move made to make this team competitive now and that's a good thing...the guy was a beast on the road last year putting up a line of .302/.417/.549 with 23 of his 39 home runs! Also the move from Oakland to Toronto improves his home runs by 42% according to Park Factor which means around 22-23 home runs at home for a total of 45ish if he keeps his pace from last year. Plus he'll be better protected in this big lineup for the Jays. He's also sitting at 487 home runs, so the Jays should have a good ticket-selling heartwarming moment when he becomes the 21st player to hit 500 home runs. If he hits 46 in his first season he would move into 15th on the all time list.

Oh and here's a little comparison of Designated Hitters:
Player A: 11.4 VORP in 319 appearances
Player B: 41.3 VORP in 559 appearances
Player A is Shea Hillenbrand, Player B is Frank Thomas. The guy should add about 5 wins on his own to this team if he stays healthy.

JP made a decision that Lugo was too expensive and that he'd rather sign Thomas' proven bat for similar money and without giving up the first round pick that he would have had to give up for Lugo. At this point, they need to rebuild that system so that's a good call. It feels as though just like last year, JP is not waiting for the market to be set but is setting it himself, he is very proactive and moves fast when he knows what he wants...let's hope it works!

Two important quotes...From the Star's article
"It would send another message around the league that we're right there and getting better," said Wells, signed for the coming season but still waiting on talks about a contract extension to heat up. "That's a huge bat."

"It definitely perks my interest," said Lilly, a guy the Jays would definitely like to re-sign but one that has attracted inquiries from, by his reckoning, 12 to 14 teams."Getting Thomas would be great to see."

Looks like the guys are happy...goes to my point that this signing may attract other players cheaper.

Oh and Rosenthal has some thoughts on the signing as well as insight on Lilly's situation and the Jays still being in the market for him.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Beane Count Part 5: Enjoying three ways...

Trade number 17: Randy Velarde to Texas for Aaron Harang and Ryan Cullen
In his first trade of the 2001 off-season, Beane trade Randy Velarde and his $3 million salary in exchange for two youngsters. Cullen never spent significant time in the Major leagues, but Harang did, pitching in parts of two seasons for the Athletics before being trade to Cincinatti. During these two season segments, Harang pitched just above replacement level before being utilized in the deal that brought Jose Guillen to Oakland. Velarde did not last a season in Texas as he was traded mid-season to the Yankees. In his 296 at bats as a Ranger, he established a VORP of 16.5 and had an OPS+ of 117. His Oakland replacement did not fare as well; Frank Menechino had an OPS+ of 101 during the 2001 season.

Trade number 18: Matt Stairs to the Cubs for Eric Ireland
After a subpar 2000 season, designated hitter Matt Stairs was deemed quite expendable by the Athletics and traded to the Cubs for minor leaguer Eric Ireland. Ireland never did anything significant at the major league level. Stairs meanwhile raised his OPS+ to 114 in 2001, up from 93 in 2000, and established a VORP of 10.5 while earning a salary of over $3 million. All in all, this was an effective salary dump by Beane and co.

Trade number 19: Miguel Olivo for Chad Bradford
Looking for undervalued players as always, Beane and co. targeted Bradford from the Chicago White Sox. The love for Bradford is described in Moneyball if you haven’t yet read it, it’s the chapter entitled Anatomy of an Undervalued Pitcher. To acquire the minimum salaried reliever, the Athletics gave up prospect catcher Miguel Olivo. Olivo would spend a couple unspectacular (VORPs of -5.1, 7.8 and OPS+ of 70 and 102) seasons with the White Sox before being shipped to the Mariners in the Freddy Garcia deal. Bradford would spend 4 seasons in the Oakland bullpen, always pitching above replacement level (VORPs of 11.3, 18.1, 24.2 and 9.2) and with ERA+ of 161, 150, 140 and 106. He was then traded to the Red Sox in July 2005 in exchange for Jay Payton. All in all, this was an effective use of the prospect Olivo, for a reliable reliever who was then traded for an outfielder still with the team.

Trade number 20: Ben Grieve, AJ Hinch, Angel Berroa for Cory Lidle, Johnny Damon and Mark Ellis
Oakland management completed another three way trade, this time to acquire a leadoff hitter, starting pitcher and a young second baseman. Grieve and Berroa were seen as top young players, however Grieve regressed after the trade with VORPs of 13.5, 11.2 and 2.3 that could be explained by shrinking home run numbers (from 27 in 2000 to 11, 19 and 4 the next three seasons). He went from being one of the next great power hitters to a below average hitter with an over-inflated contract. Berroa seemed to live up to expectations in his first full season as a Major Leaguer in 2003, winning the Rookie of the Year and establishing a VORP of 34. However, his OPS+ was below average at 96 and unfortunately, Berroa has not been able to match his performance of his first season. Hinch was a negative producer in parts of two season; with a combined VORP of -1.7.

As for the players received, Damon was actually not as good as advertised during his only season as an Athletic, establishing a VORP of only 4.7 while having an OPS+ of 85 and being caught stealing 12 times on 39 attempts. He was let go as a free agent at the end of the season and the Athletics would receive two picks (17 and 39) for their loss, one of these picks would be utilized to select Nick Swisher. Mark Ellis would become a regular major leaguer in 2002 and play above replacement level for the 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2006 seasons with a career high OPS+ of 125 in 2005. Finally, Cory Lidle would give the Athletics two consecutive seasons of over 180 innings pitched above replacement level with VORPs of 34 and 29. He had a combined record of 21 and 16 in his two seasons with Oakland and ERA+ of 121 and 119. All in all this was a good deal by the Athletics as they dealt a commodity that was overvalued in Grieve along with one average young player for big returns.

Trade number 21: Todd Belitz, Mario Encarnacion and Jose Ortiz to Colorado for Jermaine Dye
Another almost three-way but this was really two pure trades as Dye was traded to Colorado straight up for Neifi Perez and afterwards traded to Oakland. In exchange for Dye, the Rockies got Belitz (who would throw 9 innings with the Rockies), Encarnacion (62 at bats before being claimed on waivers) and Ortiz who would accumulate almost 400 at bats through two seasons with a total VORP of -6 and OPS+ of 89 and 54. These guys probably were not the return that the Rockies were looking for.
Dye meanwhile spent 3 and a half seasons with the Athletics, establishing himself as a regular in their outfield. He had 3 very solid seasons (VORP: 21, 15.7, -20.6, 23.3) and one sub-par season (VORP: -20.6). After his acquisition in July 2001, he caught fire with 13 home runs in 232 at bats and an OPS+ of 141 to go with his line of .297/.366/.547, helping the team make the playoffs and subsequently, gasp, be eliminated in the first round.

Rod Barajas

Anytime there's a Thomas update, that thread will be bumped back up here...but news coming out today is that Barajas is the next player interested in being paid by the Jays. His agent actully approached the Jays because he knew they had a difficult situation with their catchers. The guy is a below average bat(best OPS+ of his career is 99, career .240 hitter, .280 OBP, .410 slug) so let's hope this wouldn't be a big signing and he wouldn't be the number one option...

In that same article, there is mention that the Jays could have interest in Mark Mulder with an incentive-based contract. That would be nice...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Night tidbits...

Well the division rivals are getting busy importing players from Asia...

The Devil Rays have won the bidding on infielder Akinori Iwamura. Early word has him playing 3b in place of BJ Upton or playing 2b with Cantu playing 1st.

The Red Sox won the bidding on Daisuke Matsuzaka as expected...however the amount was larger than anyone thought...$51.1 million!

As of yet the Jays are rumored to be speaking with everyone, Lugo is rumored to want 4 years and $32 million and it is rumored that the Jays have no(!) interest in Counsell but have expressed interest in Gil Meche. Looks like it will be one EXPENSIVE market. The next part of the Beane Count will be coming soon, somehow a file got corrupt so I need to do a re-write...

Monday, November 13, 2006

Beane count Part 4: A playoff appearance but only three trades

Trade number 14: Jimmy Haynes for Justin Miller
This trade was actually part of a three way…the Athletics ended up with cash from Milwaukee and Miller from Colorado. Haynes had made his way through 3 inconsequential seasons with the Athletics where he gave them a lot of league average or below average (ERA+: 102, 90, 76) innings. He continued to do the same in
Milwaukee, throwing over 170 innings for the next two seasons with ERA+ of 84 and 91 along with a record of 20-30. The 22 year old Miller would never throw a pitch for Oakland but would be traded to Toronto in 2001 in a package with Eric Hinske (acquired for Miguel Cairo) for Billy Koch.

Trade number 15 : To Kansas City: Brett Laxton, Received Jeremy Giambi
One Giambi apparently wasn’t enough for the Oakland Athletics, as Billy Beane went out and acquired Jeremy to play with his brother Jason. The plump outfielder was a somewhat effective hitter during his three seasons with the Athletics establishing VORPs of 2.7, 27.6 and 11.2 with OPS+ of 96, 125 and 125 before being traded during the 2002 season to the Phillies in exchange for John Mabry. The trade is talked about in Moneyball as not as much a trade for something the A’s coveted as much as it was to help cleanse the locker room.
Laxton never became a regular major league of any significant value for the Royals.

Trade number 16: To Tampa Bay: Jesus Colome, Received Todd Belitz and Jim Mecir
In need of some bullpen depth and only 4 games away from the lead in their division, the Athletics trade 22 year old prospect reliever Jesus Colome in exchange for veteran reliever Jim Mecir and young pitcher Todd Belitz. Colome would join the
Tampa bullpen the next season and was a mainstay until his release in 2006. He was inconsistent as shown by his VORPs and ERA+:
VORPs: 2001: 9.7, 2002: -14.1, 2003: 13.1, 2004: 12.8, 2005: 0.1
ERA+: 2001: 135, 2002: 54, 2003: 101, 2004: 136, 2005: 95
Mecir stayed with the A’s until the end of the 2004 season and would give them above average performance coming out of the bullpen. His VORP was never below replacement level for those seasons and his ERA+ dipped under 100 only once. His performance for the 2000 team that eventually made the post-season made this trade a great one as he gave the Athletics 35.3 innings out of the bullpen with an ERA+ of 169 and an ERA of 2.80. He also did not allow a run in over 5 innings during the post-season against the Yankees that season. Belitz would only throw 3.3 innings for
Oakland before being packaged with two others in the Jermaine Dye deal.

Early week look around

Well there's different tidbits going around right now...

  • Dontrelle Willis is on the market, whether anyone will match the Marlins price is the question
  • The Jays are somewhat interested in Randy Wolf and may compete with the Yankees for him
  • Marcus Giles is on the market, could the Jays be interested? He'll make $5.5 million next season and had a sub-par season last year
  • The Yankees are stocking up prospects...there are two schools of thought on this. First, they're tired of signing free agents at huge prices for low returns(Pavano, Wright) and will now try to grow their own starters. Two and perhaps LESS scary...they're stocking up for a trade for a veteran pitcher from the ChiSox or Dontrelle...

    Look for Beane Count Part 5 later tday

Sunday, November 12, 2006

We have our first free agent signing

The Cubs are the first team to sign a player...although it is a re-signing of third baseman Aramis Ramirez. They re-signed their man for 5 years, $73 million after he opted out of the last two years of a 4 year, $42 million contract. He was third last year amongst third basemen in RBIs in the Majors and was expecting a big pay day if he left Chicago...more to come!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Beane count Part 3: Trade deadline 1999!

Trade number 11: Jeff Davanon, Elvin Nina and Nathan Haynes to Anaheim for Omar Olivares and Randy Velarde

In need of an upgrade at 2b over incumbent Tony Phillips and chasing down a Wild Card spot, Oakland pulled the trigger on a deal that brought in second baseman Randy Velarde along with pitcher Omar Olivares. Velarde performed very well for
Oakland; in 255 at bats he had a line of .333/.301/.378, an OPS+ of 125 and a VORP value of 25.7. He returned the next season and was not as good but performed adequately with an OPS+ of 95, VORP of 23.3 in a full season with the Athletics, he was later dealt before the 2001 season. Olivares performed above average in his 74.7 innings with the A’s; winning 7 games while posting an ERA+ of 111 and a VORP of 8.7. He struggled after signing a $4 million contract with Oakland during the 2000 off-season with an ERA+ of 70, a VORP of -12.6 and a record of 4-8 and he was sold to Pittsburgh before the 2001 season.
Out of the three minor leagues the Athletics traded for these two players, only one spent significant time in the Majors: outfielder Jeff Davanon. The youngster did not spend significant time in the majors until he turned 29 in 2003. He spent three years with the Angels’ big club with VORPs of 17.3, 13.3 and -3 in those three seasons. His performance was above average during those three seasons although it declined every season as evidenced by his OPS+ of 118, 107 and a below average 81.

Trade number 12: Jeff D’Amico, Brad Rigby and Blake Stein for Kevin Appier
Beane and co. also went out to acquire a starting pitcher at the trade deadline and struck a deal with Kansas City who was struggling through a season of averageness after an injury plagued 1998. The 31 year old came over to
Oakland and performed below replacement value (-2.6 VORP) while establishing a 7-5 record and an ERA+ of 84. He came back the next season and pitched better with a 25.2 VORP and an ERA+ of 105 while going 15-11. He was unable to be the missing piece for the 1999 playoff chase however and that is where the value was hoped for.

The three players traded for him were all pitchers 26 and under. D’Amico never became a regular major league pitcher while Brad Rigby was awful in two short stints in the majors for KC with ERA+ of 69 and 31. Blake Stein gave effective innings to the Royals while putting up an ERA+ of 120, 108, 103 and 65. None of the pitchers really became anything of value for the bad Royal teams.

Trade number 13: Billy Taylor for Jason Isringhausen and Greg McMichael
After finally being given a good shot at the Majors, and the closer’s job, at the age of 34, Billy Taylor spent three and a half years as the Oakland closer until this trade. At the time of the trade,
Taylor had an ERA+ of 121 and 26 saves, however he didn’t perform as well in a setup role for the Mets; in 13.3 innings he had an ERA above 8 and an ERA+ of 54! What did the Mets give up for this performance? A closer and a bullpen arm!

Jason ‘Izzy’ Isringhausen was given the closer’s job upon his arrival in Oakland and flourished, finishing the year with 8 saves and an ERA+ of 226. He continued his steady play over the next two years with 67 saves, VORPs of 13.5 and 21.3 and ERA+ of 125 and 164. He was then allowed to walk through free agency in exchange for two first round picks that Beane coveted so. McMichael was ok as an Athletic, throwing 15 innings for a VORP of 2.3 before he was granted Free Agency at the end of the year.

How about that? Three updates in three days! We're hours away from the start of free agency, don't expect any updates until Monday but you never know when I'll have some time to access the laptop!

Friday, November 10, 2006

The off-season is officially ON!

Well the Arms race has started in the American League East is coming in fast and furious

So this has been one BUSY Friday for transactions already. I think the Yanks got a great deal, the Red Sox will probably get stronger and kept the pitcher away from their biggest opponent and that Aramis Ramirez will be overpaid. I'm on vacation but I have posted Part 1 and 2 of the Beane count and will probably post Part 3 Monday if not earlier. Stay tuned true believers...

Beane Count Part 2: Trading places

Trade number 7: Adam Robinson to Cleveland for Tim Worrell
After exchanging spare parts, Billy Beane went out and acquired a reliever to help upgrade his bullpen in July. Oakland traded for 30 year old reliever Tim Worrell in exchange for minor leaguer Adam Robinson, who never spent any significant time in the Majors. Worrell threw 36 innings for the Athletics in the 1998 season with an ERA+ of 114 and a VORP of 7.1 while making a salary of $1 million. He returned the next season, with a salary of $900,000, and provided the Athletics with 69.3 innings of effective pitching with an ERA+ of 116 and a VORP of 10.1.

Trade 8: Scott Rivette to Toronto for Ed Sprague
With Mike Blowers struggling to replace the departed Scott Brosius, the Athletics attempted to upgrade their third base position by acquiring 30 year old Ed Sprague from Toronto in exchange for minor league Scott Rivette. Sprague was absolutely awful in his short time in Oakland with a VORP of -7.4, OPS+ of 16(!) in 87 at bats. He wasn’t exactly what Beane and co. were looking for in an upgrade, however they did not give up anyone of consequence. They however would have probably been better off signing a bottom barrel mid-season free agent to save money and get similar production.

Trade 9: Jay Witasick to Kansas City for Scott Chiasson
Witasick just didn’t show enough to be kept on the 25 man roster so Billy Beane shipped him to Kansas City where he would spend one and a half seasons as an inning eater establishing VORPs of 4.4 and -1.1, and ERA+ of 88 and 82.

Trade 10: Kenny Rogers to the Mets for Terrence Long and Leo Vazquez
The gambler
took another trip, this time to New York for half a season in an attempt to help their playoff pursuit. He won 5 of his 12 starts with the Mets, establishing a VORP of 15.3 and ERA+ of 109. However, he struggled mighitly in the playoffs. In exchange for Rogers, the A's received 23 year-old outfielder and former first round pick Terrence Long and a career minor leaguer by the name of Vazquez.

Long joined the Oakland major league roster in 2000 and was a main stay until the end of 2003 when he was traded to the Padres for Mark Kotsay. Long was second in Rookie of the Year voting in 2000, a season in which he had an OPS+ of 102, 18 Win Shares and a VORP of 30.2. Unfortunately, these numbers would be the highest of his career as he regressed in the three following seasons as shown by his VORPs of 21.7, 5.6 and -8.5 and Win Shares of 17, 12 and 11. All in all, it was a nice salary dump for Beane and co. as they acquired a valuable piece of their outfield for the next few seasons in exchange for half a season of Kenny Rogers.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Beane Count Part 1: Giving his chips to the Gambler, folding a good hand and shuffling the deck.

1st trade: To NYY: Scott Brosius, Received: Kenny Rogers
In his first trade as General Manager, Billy Beane executed a classic baseball deal of sorts, trading away 31 year old third baseman Scott Brosuis to the Yankees for veteran starter Kenny Rogers. He also negotiated a payment from the Yankees to the Athletics worth half the amount owed to Rogers ($5 million) to make this deal happen. In his first year, Rogers led the Oakland staff in innings (238.7), wins (16) and posted a career best ERA+ of 144. The next year, he started 19 games as an Athletic, winning only 5 with an ERA+ of 112 up till July when he was traded at the deadline for Terrence Long and a career minor leaguer. His Value Over Replacemt Player for his two seasons in Oakland combined for 80.4 while he had 19 Win Shares in 1998.

Scott Brosius had an excellent first year with the Yankees; it was the only season in his career where he was an All-Star and he topped it off by being named the World Series MVP. The third baseman had career highs in Runs Created (91), Runs (86) and had only his second season of a .300 batting average. He had a first year VORP of 38.1 and 26 Win Shares. His production declined throughout the next 3 seasons with VORPs of 6.6, -6.1 and 22.6 although his salary went up. All in all this deal worked out for both sides, Rogers was the more productive player of the two, and was dealt for another productive player in Long, however Scott Brosius was an important part of the 1998 Yankees World Series team as well as being part of the 2000 World Series champion team.

2nd trade: To Cleveland: Steve Karsay, Received: Mike Fetters
In what was actually his third trade (the second one was a minor deal with no significant impact on either team), Billy Beane might have dropped the ball. He dealt 26 year old minimum salaried pitcher Steve Karsay for veteran bullpen arm Mike Fetters. Fetters appeared in 48 games for the Athletics, pitching 47.3 innings with an ERA+ of 114 before he was dealt for money to the Angels.
Karsay struggled in his first season with the Indians, pitching in only 11 games and posting an ERA+ of 81 with a VORP of 0.5. He became an effective reliever in his second season with the Indians with an ERA+ of 169, VORP of 26.5 and Win Shares of 33. He continued to pitch well in his next two seasons with VORPs of 21.5 and 22.6, along with ERA+ of 134 and 363(!!!). The Indians traded him during the final year of his contract (June of 2001) with Steve Reed for beleaguered closer John Rocker and a minor leaguer. Half a season of Mike Fetters was not worth trading away Steve Karsay and this can be seen as a trade where Beane did not win.

3rd trade: To Florida: Eric Ludwick, Received: Kurt Abbott
This trade almost didn’t make the list; Ludwick threw uneffectively in one year with the Marlins; establishing a VORP of -11.5, an ERA+ of 55. The slap hitting shortstop Abbott had 123 at bats with the Athletics establishing a VORP of 3.5/ He was dealt for a minor leaguer in season. Beane won this minor deal by trading away a guy who was below replacement level for a player who gave just above replacement level at bats off the bench.

Trades 4-6: Greg Hansell, Shane Mack, Kurt Abbott, Jason Wood for Mike Macfarlane, Ara Petrosian and Bip Roberts
These are all lumped together because none of these players had a real significant impact with the teams they were traded to or the Athletics past their first season of acquisition. Here's the contributions by the players traded and received:

Mike MacFarlane: 6.9 VORP, $725,000
Bip Roberts: 3.3 VORP, $2,300,000

Kurt Abbott: -4.2 VORP, $1,000,000
Shane Mack: 7.6 VORP, $450,000

In the end, Beane ends up gaining in VORP but it cost him money in Bip Roberts $2.3 million salary. Let’s call these deals shuffling the deck…

There's some news around the league...the Matsuzaka bidding is over and we'll find out which team has negotiating rights in the next 24 hours. And there was a young stud trade between Cleveland and San Diego yesterday that involved son of former Blue Jay Josh Barfield. This is actully gonna help the Jays in their free agent search for a middle infielder as they will no longer have to compete with the Indians. And the DBacks new unis were unveiled yesterday! They look much better in my humble opinion. Part 2 should hopefully be up tomorrow, if not it shall wait until Monday as I have a trip this weekend.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Wednesday News

Well, the Canadian Media isn't only talking about the NHL for once

  • The Globe and Mail have an article about the Jays and the plans for the off-season. In this article, it is stated that the payroll should be around $90 million(which is about $20 million). There's also mention of holding onto Vernon Wells even without the extension (which I agree with)
    This would give the team the option to trade him at the deadline if they are struggling or making a playoff run that could make Wells want to re-sign here.
  • Peter Gammons talks about the top 10 trade possibilities, in this article he states that he believes Vernon will be traded.
  • The Oakland A's are possibly moving to Fremont(between Oakland and San Jose) now that stadium plans are going through..

    I have some job interviews that have kept me busy along with planning a trip and ending my time at a certain store. But I think I'll post part 1 of the Beane count either today or tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Early morning news

Two main things today:

  • Baseball Prospectus' Transaction Analysis talks about the Jays first signing of the off-season Jean Machi. He seems to have a lack of control, however according to BP "he generated more than twice as many groundball outs than flyouts" Click up top to read the article.
  • Ricciardi spoke to the Boston Globe and had this to say: "We knew what was going or not going to be available, so maybe we paid a little more, but I think what we did is we established that Toronto is a good place to play baseball, and by finishing second in a tough division, we established ourselves as a team that's going to contend. I think it's really going to help us moving forward." This was about last year's signings and clearly states that last year's signings was seen as a plan not only to move Toronto to contending in the AL East but also to hopefully attract future free agents.

    That is all, the Beane count is coming fast, I'm really working on refining as I write so that's why I haven't posted any sections YET.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Jays 2nd best prospect is their latest 1st rounder?

I'm not sure if this speaks of how well JP chose his man in the last draft or how bad the farm system is these days but Travis Snyder is the 2nd best prospect in the Jays farm system according to baseball america. Here's the top 10:
1. Adam Lind, of (also named Best Hitter for Average)
2. Travis Snider, of (also named Best Power Hitter)
3. Ricky Romero, lhp (Best Changeup)
4. Ryan Patterson, of
5. Curtis Thigpen, c (Best Strike Zone discipline)
6. Francisco Rosario, rhp (best Fastball)
7. Brandon Magee, rhp (best slider)
8. Jesse Litsch, rhp
9. David Purcey, lhp
10. Balbino Fuenmayor, 3b
I'm not surprised by anyone in the top 3 as this has been pretty much the top 3 in any prospect report lately. Romero seems like at best a very good reliever and there's three outfielders amongst the top 4 prospects. Hopefully Thigpen is given another year to grow. There has been a lot of talk about the Jays farm system and it's weakness through out the last few months. This is something Ricciardi has to correct if the Jays are to be seen as a permanent threat.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Defensive Statistics

Baseball Think Factory is an excellent site for anyone that likes sabrmetric analysis. Although sometimes complicated for the average fan, they always have interesting articles evaluating some fascet of the game. Just recently, Write Chris Dial posted an article utilzing the Runs Saved by Position statistic, that he has worked on for a while, to analyze defense in the American League. The calculations for the statistic may be difficult to understand for the average reader, but click HERE if you want to look at his methods. Anyway, according to this statistic, this is how certain Jays players fared defensively this past season:

Bengie Molina
Lyle Overbay
Aaron Hill
Troy Gluas
John McDonald
Reed Johnson
Frank Catalanotto
Vernon Wells
Alex Rios
The RSpt is Runs Saved by Position which essentially is a statistic utilizing defensive innings at position, avg number a team plays in a season, the zone rating avg for that position and a few others. CLICK HERE for the article! The Jays had 4 players in the American League top 5 of their positions according to this statistic: Aaron Hill (1st), Reed Johnson (4th), Vernon Wells (2nd) and Alex Rios (1st). Actually pretty interesting is the fact that the Oakland A's players including Gold Glover Eric Chavez did not rate that highly in this statistic even with all the talk of how great their defense was. They had three top five players however in Mark Ellis, Bobby Crosby and Milton Bradley.

News from around the land

Sorry for the lack of updates, I've been completing my last week of work and writing reference letters for employees along with planning two trips. I have been working on the Beane count and will hopefully start posting it Tuesday if not earlier. Here's some news flying around today:

The Yanks are expected to take on Sheffield's option today and then trade him at some point. Rumor has it that the Orioles have offered Kris Benson + a reliever and that there are many teams interested.

Ex-Blue Jay Orlando Hudson won his second gold glove and there's a nice article here where he credits Brian Butterfield for part of his success.

Some people have asked for definitions of VORP and Win Shares. The best article about VORP that's available on the internet to my knowledge is here by Keith Woolner. As for Win Shares just use wikipedia here. Late on today, I'll update this with some defensive stats (later on today = after going to see Borat, during the football games)