Saturday, 17 December 2011

No "Bull" About It

With the winter meetings over and 2 months until Pitchers and Catchers report, rosters have begun to take shape. Last season the bullpen was a sore spot for the Blue Jays as they “blew” 25 saves, tied for 3rd most in all of baseball. Since the end of the 2011 season, and even since the Colby Rasmus trade, there has been a lot of turnover.  Gone are Jon Rauch, Shawn Camp, Frank Francisco, Jason Frasor, Mark Rzepczynski, Octavio Dotel, Wil Ledezma, Rommie Lewis, Trever Miller, PJ Walters, and the deplorable Brian Tallet.  Last years assortment of a bullpen went:

While the peripheral numbers look solid (3.88 ERA, 4.00 FIP, 3.93 xFIP, 3.42 SIERA) , the Jays did have some trouble putting games away.  Saves being the awful statistic it is, will be ignored.  Instead we shall look at Shutdowns (SD) and Meltdowns (MD), which is a more telling form of statistic then saves or holds.  In 474 appearances by Toroto’s bullpen, the Jays posted 125 Shutdown appearances (Games in which the reliever added more then a certain mark of WPA, or Win Probability Added) which ranked 15th in MLB.  On the converse of that, Toronto’s 57 meltdowns were 5th best in baseball ahead of only the Mariners, Red Sox, Phillies, and White Sox. 

Of the 57 Meltdowns, 21 came from the brutal combination of Shawn Camp and Jon Rauch. The rest of the team had only 36 with half (18) coming from the Jekyll and Hyde trio of Frank Francisco, Luis Perez and Mark Rzepczynski. Those 5 relievers accounted for over half of all relief appearances (250) and recorded 69 shut downs and 39 meltdowns.  That is less then 2 shut downs for every meltdown.  The rest of the team amassed 56 shutdowns to only 18 meltdowns.  Its telling that of those 5 pitchers only Luis Perez remains on the club.  The best relievers last year: Casey Jansen (18-4 SD-MD), Carlos Villanueva (6-2) and Jesse Litsch (6-3) all return all in the hunt for a spot in the bullpen.

The biggest move of the Jays offseason so far (ignoring the Yu Darvish rumors) was Alex Anthopolous’ acquisition of Chicago White Sox “closer” Sergio Santos.  Santos was once a Jays farm hand, although he played shortstop at the time, has already made a splash as a pitcher in the big leagues.  Blessed with a wicked slider and mid 90’s heat Santos has posted fantastic numbers in his first two seasons (11.58 K/9, 3.29 ERA, 2.97 FIP and 3.20 xFIP).  Santos has been solid by Shutdowns/Meltdowns posting 40 SD and 17 MD.

Currently the internal pullpen options are:

Sergio Santos, Casey Jansen, Villenueva and Litsch all have pretty much secured spots in the bullpen.

Chad Beck, Joel Carreno, Luis Perez, Kyle Drabek, Dustin McGowan, Danny Farquhar, Brett Cecil, Jim Hoey, Trystan Magnuson are all internal options.

External Options (Shutdowns/Meltdowns: David Aardsma (sat out last season, but for his career 96/35), Miguel Batista, (9/6) Francisco Cordero(34/6), Juan Cruz (10-7), Mike Gonzalez(11-6), Jose Mijares (11-8), Sergio Mitre (4-4) , Darren Oliver (17-13), Micah Owings(4-2), Dan Wheeler (5-5), Jamey Wright (18-11) and Joel Zumaya (So many shoulder issues, but hit high 90‘s in showcase for teams, career 69-34).

Personally, I like the options of Aardsma, Oliver, Wheeler, Wright, and Zumaya.

What do you think? Who do you like for next years pen?

Friday, 16 December 2011

What Yu See Is What Yu Get

Rogers has some of the deepest pockets in MLB, but doesn't spend, but yet here we are, middle of December and the Jays are thought to be high bidders for the services you Yu Darvish, the star Japanese pitcher. Of course, if the Blue Jays miss out, there will be public rage that Rogers was being cheap again and that they better go after Prince Fielder. If the Jays don't land Fielder, the irrational berating of RCI will be all over again.

What does Yu Darvish bring to the table.

Arguably the most talented pitcher to ever come out of Japan. His pure stuff blows away any past Japanese pitchers. Matsuzaka, Nomo, Ohka all don't compare. Darvish has been durable, throwing 1174 innings over the last 6 years. While that is alot of innings (196 per season), he is efficient and doesn't get his pitch counts too high in innings.

At 6'5 and 215 pounds, he not only gets good downward plane on his pitches, he has room for projection on his fastball. Currently his fastball sits from 93-95 and touches 97. He also throws a low 80's slider that is a plus pitch, good movement on it. He has a good cutter that has alot of life that hits the high 80's and a slow mid 70's curve that gets slurvy. He does throw a 90-91 MPH splitter, but has smallish hands and has trouble getting his fingers around the ball.

Aggressive in his approach against hitters he attacks hitters and isn't afraid to throw inside. A good athlete, he shows a great ability to repeat his delivery.

Eno Sarris of and other publications did a study here.

Darvish projects as a #3 starter at worst with ace potential. So there is alot of upside there. Could be a bargain of a contract when its all said and done.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Jim Bowden knows best... Right?

    Yesterday it was reported that the Blue Jays along with 3 other teams were “in” on Carlos Beltran. This alone is slightly befuddling with the recent acquisition of Ben Francisco, along with a healthy Rajai Davis and the returning Travis Snider/Eric Thames.

    Beltran is as everyone knows, very familiar with the disabled list and will be 35 by the end of the first month of the season. He has average 96 games played over the last three seasons and hasn’t played 150+ games 2 years in a row since 2004-05.  When healthy, he is a productive player, posting a wRC+ of 126 5 of the last 6 years. To put that in perspective Michael Young posted a 127 mark last season.  Since 2006 he has posted the 15th best wRC+ in the majors.  Despite the production, there is the injury risks which put a real damper on the production.

    Then there is the fact of the playing surface in the Rogers Center would be brutal on his knees and body in general unless you plan to play him at DH (granted he would fill in from time to time for rest).  Given Beltrans past issues with knees wouldn’t be a good fit for fielding duty. There is nothing that makes sense about Beltran to the Jays in this sense. 

    Beltran is looking for a 3 year deal and nothing about that makes sense for the current Jays. There wouldn’t be the years of control, the injury history and the positional depth. Unless Beltran drops to 2 years and less money there isn’t the value there.

    Now, Jim Bowden on XM Radio is saying that the Blue Jays are one of two teams that make the most sense for Carlos Beltran.  Given that Bowden also made asinine comments about the Blue Jays not having the farm system to add a #2 starter.  Its clear that Bowden is just delusional, and every time he speaks it becomes more and more evident why he was fired as a GM.

Pro's, Con's and Prince Fielder

 Following a question by @TDotSportsBlogr, I'll be looking at the Price Fielder quandry.

Why should they sign Prince Fielder? 

Well, Fielder adds an impact middle of the order bat who just produces. Since 2007, Fielder has posted a .399 wOBA, which ranks 7th in baseball behind only Pujols, Cabrera, Votto, Holliday, Braun and Rodriguez. As for arguing that he plays in a beneficial park (Miller Park is one of the best hitters stadiums in baseball), wOBA already adjusts for that.  Fielder would give Jose Bautista some protection in the lineup and make it even more dangerous top to bottom, as anyone who has hit 200 HR’s over the last 5 seasons would. Another fact to note is that he's consistant, you know what your getting (until he breaks down).

Why shouldn’t they sign Prince Fielder?

Fielder is listed at 5 feet 11 inches and (a generous) 268 pounds.  While a better athlete then at first glance, his body type tends to wear down and not gradually either.  Fielder is looking for a 6+ year contract worth around 24 million a season.  If he wears down in year 4 of the deal, how much will it hamstring the team considerably (Note Vernon Wells, Alex Rios contracts).  There is a great chance that he’ll be worth the entire length of the deal by year 4 (using WAR $ as a base), but even then, with the money on the books it will be an issue, and that isn’t good for a team that is looking to be a year in year out contender. 

For the second part of why not, lets look at position.  Fielder plays 1B (not very well I might add) which not only adds stress on the body, but costs the team due to the poor defensive play, to the tune of -27 Runs since 2007 (by UZR).  The Blue Jays play in the AL, which means they could just slot him in at DH, which is the smart move (assuming he can handle thinking about every AB all game)., but with any smart move there is the bad.  There are conflicting reports on whether Fielder is willing to DH for an AL team.

What should the Jays do?

 I say go after him. Give him 6 or 7 year money over the 5 years the Jays are willing to give. At that rate, he wont be a burden in the future should he wear down and proceed into a sharp decline. Maybe you overpay a little per season but I'd would rather overpay for a few seasons then pay him for years after his body breaks down and he's a shell of his former self.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Informing The Masses: Part 1. Fielding Independent Pitching

The first thing I want to do is start off by saying, that this is not meant to insult anyone's intelligence or how informed they are. This is just meant to simply explain these advanced statistics, in a way that makes a rational argument.

Alright. Lets look at the current generic standard of evaluating how a pitcher has performed, ERA.  Looking at ERA, it is a good natured stat, that attempts to remove defense from the pitchers stats but it really doesn't do the job. Errors only account for balls that players get to so a poor fielding shortstop like Derek Jeter, will not be accounted for in ERA because of his lack of range, but someone like Yunel Escobar who gets to alot more balls, therefor makes more errors. 

There are many versions of FIP.  xFIP is a predictive stat, telling what a player will likely do in the future. bbFIP, which is my favourite for evaluating pitchers, breaks it down into what type of contact a pitcher induces.  But I'll explain these versions later.

The FIP Calculation
First off, there are values assigned to Homeruns, Walks and Strikeouts.  How TangoTiger, the creator of Fielding Independent Pitching metrics, arrived at these values was linear regression to find the average value that each true outcome (HR, BB, K).  What he came up with is this.

HR = 13
BB = 3
K = 2

This leads to the formula FIP =  (((HR x 13) + ((BB + HBP - IBB) x 3) - (K x 2)/IP) + Constant to convert to ERA.

This regulates things pitchers have little to no control over, BABIP or Batting Average On Balls In Play.  
The problem with FIP is, it can over value pitchers who give up hard contact without the ball leaving the park, striking out lots and walking few. One such example is Brandon Morrow, as Jays fans know, he strikes out a tonne, walks few compared to how many he strikes out, but gives up lots of hard contact.Another problem is that it doesn't account for home ball park, so pitchers in pitchers parks tend to have a slightly inflated FIP. It also doesn't account for how pitchers do with runners on base.

The top 10 in FIP for 2011 were:

As you can see from the chart, NL Pitchers are definitely favoured by FIP, and that is due to the fact that they face the pitcher once every 9 batters, and the usual likely K. Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Clayton Kershaw, and Dan Haren play in pitcher parks. That is not to say that these pitchers are products of their park. They all combine great K/BB rates and don't allow hard contact.

For tomorrow's installment, I'll breakdown xFIP and bbFIP..


Sunday, 2 October 2011

The Worst Best Play Of October 1st

Game One, NLDS. Brewers at home against the Diamondbacks.

Its the first inning, the talented Justin Upton steps up to the plate. Willie Bloomquist is on second and one out. 

Justin Upton hits a line drive, just out of Yuniesky Betancourt's reach. Bloomquist has to hold up to make sure he isn't doubled off at second if its caught.

One, Two, Three hops. Left Fielder Ryan Braun fields the ball, stopping and losing all forward momentum.

At this point, Braun isn't that deep in the outfield, fairly shallow actually. Matt Williams aggressively waves "Fast" Willie around 3rd.
Braun's throw is on line, but not strong. Bouncing maybe 7 feet inside the 2nd to 3rd base baseline.

One, Two, Three hops. Jonathan Lucroy fields the ball and blocks the plate. He lies in wait for Bloomquist. An easy play at the plate as Bloomquist decides to slide into the catcher rather than running him over and trying to jar the ball loose. 

So this is playoff baseball in the National League.

The abysmal Willie Bloomquist leading off for a playoff team. Attempting to score a first inning run, gets thrown out by a player with a notoriously poor arm. His 3rd base coach waving him around 3rd before the ball even lands in the outfield. A throw that slowly 3 hops to Lucroy, who can somehow just sit and wait for THE Willie Bloomquist to come and make him hold onto the ball with a physical clash at the plate. And Willie decides to quarterback slide into the tag.  Suddenly, I understand why its called the senior circuit. Men who throw like 80 year olds throw out guys who act as if any contact will break their hip as they have decisions made for them by a man who is obviously senile. Good game National League, good fucking game!

Ladies and Gentleman. 

The Worst-Best Best-Worst play of October 1st.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

ESPN Lowering Journalistic Standards Everywhere.

Never before have I seen such a fucking ridiculous slam piece on one of the teams I support. I am a Jays, Raptors, Packers fan, so that might not say much, but still.  For years now ESPN has been known as a Joke between their blatant support of Derek Jeters 3000th hit over Jim Thome's 600th homerun to attemting to sell the world that Derek Jeter does indeed play gold glove worthy defense.  The article is a maniacal hate piece spurred by the Yankee loving ESPN's accusations of sign stealing from Joe Girardi and Russell Martin (Canada's least favourite son).  Lets look at the article.

First off, how can you have more of a hearsay based attack.  "Oh I saw this, and so did 4 of my team-mates". "Yeah, we saw it too!"  "This man always in a white shirt at a game was raising his hands in the air at a game!"   How much more ridiculous can it be to make accusations on this ground.  ITS CALLED A FUCKING SEASON TICKET HOLDER!  And I don't know, maybe raising his arms over his head is called FUCKING CHEERING.  Are baseball players actually that fucking stupid, I would ask the same of ESPN writers, but we all know that outside of Buster Olney and Steve Berthiaume everyone there has proven it. 

The enraged player and his teammates could hardly believe what they had seen in the previous inning. As they sat on the perch above the right-field bullpen at Rogers, they caught sight of a man dressed in white about 25 yards to their right, out among the blue center-field seats. And while the players watched, the man in white seemingly signaled the pitches the visiting pitcher was throwing against the Jays, according to four sources in the bullpen that day.
The players weren't exactly sure how the man in white knew what was coming -- maybe, they thought, he was receiving messages via his Bluetooth from an ally elsewhere in the stadium who had binoculars or access to the stadium feed. But they quickly picked up the wavelength of his transmissions: He was raising his arms over his head for curveballs, sliders and changeups. In other words, anything besides fastballs.

Could this been any awfuller of a section of writing in history?  I mean 340 plus yards isn't that far, but my fucking word, that isn't going to be fucking easy to see in a crowd. Someone doing it from a hotel room would be much more noticeable for Jays, and less so for opponents.   On to the next point.  Someone is supposed to use binoculars to figure out the pitch, quickly send a fucking text and have it go through, and have the other person read it and make a signal.  How is that supposed to happen in the 2-4 seconds between a pitcher getting the signal and throwing the fucking pitch.  I mean Rogers does have decently quick service when you text (I am a customer!), but that is fucking ridiculous.  I mean did any god damn logic at all get used in this piece?  I've seen snapping turtles with better common sense.

"We know what you're doing," he said, referring to the man in white, according to the player and two witnesses. "If you do it again, I'm going to hit you in the [f------] head."
I'm curious, who is this player?  I mean try to have some rational thought.  You are going to beam a player in the head off of the fact that you think someone is stealing signs?  You should beam every single player in MLB then, because every team has tales of assuming someone is stealing signs. 

To the final point, the absolute worst point about it.  The fucking statistics.  From 2004-2009 homerun growth went up .002% at home.  Then over the last two years it goes up .011?  That has nothing to do with the team getting better at all does it?  I mean really.  From 2004-2009 the Jays were all about pitching, and had a neglected offense with such offensive stalwarts as Russ Adams, Reed Johnson, Frank The Cat, Lyle Overbay, John MacDonald, Corey Koskie, Gregg Zaun.  All of those names no doubt frightning. I guess none of it can be attributed to the fact that Cito Gaston and Dwayne Murphy are two of the best hitting minds in recent baseball history.  Then they go on to talk about Home and Road Splits for 2009, how about the fact that as a team the Jays OPS was 9 points HIGHER on the road.  I mean, but really it has nothing to do with the fact that the Rogers center is a launching pad for right handed hitters, for both teams. In the article they mention that the Jays hit 4% HR on the road while the average is 3.6%  How about mentioning how road teams did last year at the Rogers center.  *Pulls out Bill James Bible*

From 2008-2010, the blue Jays have a higher AVG, more doubles, fewer 3B, 60 more HR at home while scoring an equal number of runs on the road as at home.  For 2010 alone, The Jays had 9 fewer extra base hits on the road.  With the fact that Rogers Center has and always will be a hitters park, that number is negligable as fuck.  At home the Blue Jays out homered their opposition 146-81.  On the road they out homered them 111-69.  With the fact that most players play better at home. Its a ridiculous accusation.

ESPN with more slam journalism, its a shame that a broadcast corporation once so highly thought of has devolved into Sports Illustrated.

They are just scared and butthurt that AA keeps ripping off American teams and that the Jays are coming.  Basically @ESPN

Peace out homies.