November 20, 2009 at 12:23 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Links
Today’s post is dedicated to Jack Zduriencik, who just last year pulled perhaps the greatest magic trick a GM has pulled since 1991. Zduriencik took a team that won 61 games the previous year, a team that was 13th in the AL in scoring runs and 11th in the AL in allowing runs, and a team that the sabermetric community hated because they were losing for all the wrong (and easily avoidable) reasons (dependence on aging, overpaid players; mis-allocation of resources; crappy OBP’s; bad defense; and a bunch of finesse pitchers) and turned them into an 85-win team. Furthermore, they went from 11th in the AL in runs allowed to 1st in the AL, and they did it with basically the same group of pitchers. Furthermore they did it spending zero money because defense is basically free on the open market. He turned a pair of aging, overpaid relievers and a fringy, tweener OF into 1) arguably the best defensive player in the game and valuable enough to be in the conversation for the MVP* under team control for many years, 2) many service years of an interesting back-end rotation lefty, 3) their future 1B, 4) an additional pair of legit prospects, 5) Endy Chavez (who cares at this point they’ve cleaned so much house. Keep in mind, they’ve sacrificed a pair of overpaid relievers and a fringy OF. Basically, they’ve sacrificed nothing of value to them, and they’ve already netted this much), and 6) Aaron Heliman, whom they turn into one of the best defensive 2B’s in the game (Ronny Cedeno, who also can’t hit, but he’s still valuable for his defensive contributions) and a younger, higher upside lefty with fewer service years.
*Franklin Gutierrez was actually 6th in the AL in WAR. He hit .283/.339/.425, which I suppose is moderately good for a CF’er, but he was an astonishing (and league-leading) 29.1 runs above average as a defender at a premium position. Both of those things Zduriencik basically got for free. Anyway, here’s the AL’s top-10 in WAR:
1. Zorilla™ – 8.6
2. Mauer™ – 8.4
3. The Captain™ (The Yankees one, I think the Red Sox have a captain too, but he sucks) – 7.4
4. Longoria™ – 7.2
5. CHONE™ Figgins – 6.1
6. Franklin Gutierrez – 5.9
7. Rick Porcello’s Bitch – 5.6
8. Ice Cream Paint Job – 5.5
9. Drunk@theWhiteSoxGame – 5.4
10. Mark Teishithead – 5.1
- Today marks the first day of Free Agency. Of course, you won’t see any Type-A Free Agents signed until wheneverthefuck the deadline to offer a player arbitration is, so we’re still mostly in the speculative phase of the off-season. Ken Rosenthal has some buzz. First, and nothing we didn’t know, the Braves are trying to trade Derek Lowe. They’re having a hard time doing so, thus far, because of the fact that he is owed $45 million over the next three years. These are things that are simply obvious to me. I could have written them in this blog and they’d be taken seriously by nobody (and rightfully so), why do we consider it newsworthy when Ken Rosenthal reports it? On the other hand, Ken Rosenthal does say that the Braves and Brewers discussed a Corey Hart for Derek Lowe, but the Brewers nixed it due to financial concerns. But wait! Here comes Bowman to re-assure us that Ken Rosenthal is full of shit. I’ve had enough of Rosenthal.
- Right-handed power news: Bob Nightengale of some shitty news site (USA Today, I think it’s called) says The Yankees have made Nick Swisher available. If this isn’t a complete horse-shit rumor (I think it is), I really hope Frank Wren makes the call. By the way, his twitter page is funny as shit. It’s just a series of bullshit rumors, all preceded by #mlb. Must be MLB Trade Rumors’ favorite twitter feed of them all. Rosenthal says the Braves are interested in Josh Willingham. I like Willingham, I always have, I thought the Braves should have traded for him even before he went to Washington, then again after he was in Washington, and even still now. Granted: it’s a Ken Rosenthal story, so I don’t really put any stock into it.
- The Braves prepared for this year’s rule 5 draft by adding 5 pitchers to their 40-man roster. Today was the deadline to do so. These players would’ve been eligible to be drafted in the rule 5 draft had they not been added this morning. I generally trust the organization with these type of things and I happen to agree that all 5 (Jonny Venters, Kyle Cofield, Lee Hyde, Jeff Lyman, Jose Ortegano) are worthy of keeping. All 5 have a shot at competing for a bullpen role at some point in 2010. Not a lot of people outside the organization have taken notice, but there’s a fairly good crop of relievers coming out of the Braves system within 2 years. It’s going to be valuable in that a) the Braves will have the luxury of building a cheap, effective bullpen, which is what every mid-market team strives for, and b) there will be some nice trade pieces.
- Ben Nicholson-Smith does his best to rip my heart out.
- Michael Fierman is writing again.
- The Hawks are back. If you would’ve told me 2 years ago that the Hawks would be the most successful Atlanta franchise this year I’d have said you were crazy. They’ve got a pretty good chance to be. And in case you haven’t watched, they’ve got a pretty damn good team, too. Mark Bradley chimes in, too. Mark Bradley is a must-read for Hawks season.
- I’ve been meaning to get into the NBA saber-ish stuff, but I haven’t really had the time with so many baseball things to study. But this is a summary of the saber-ish things happening in college basketball right now. Perhaps not right now, but in the not very distant past, I would assume.
- JC Bradbury reminds us that wins suck.
- Prospect Project has a quote from Freddie Freeman on his elbow injury: “I got an injury right now that every time I swing, I seem to hyperextend my elbow, and I can’t swing because if I do it the pain is just so intense, I can’t do it.”
The AFL regular season came to a close yesterday. Sad, I know. The Sags finished 3rd (of 3 teams) in their division, so their players are done. That concludes the fall-league season for Freddie Freeman (who hadn’t played in a week), Brandon Hicks, Mike Minor, Craig Kimbrel, Jeff Lyman, and Lee Hyde. Heyward’s had been ended earlier after some injury. Here are the 6 remaining participants final statistics:
Lee Hyde – 12.0 IP, 7 H (1 HR), 7 BB, 4 R (4 ER), 13 K
Craig Kimbrel – 10.1 IP, 7 H (1 HR), 16 BB, 13 R (12 ER), 18 K
Jeff Lyman – 14.0 IP, 18 H (4 HR), 6 BB, 11 R (11 ER), 11 K
Mike Minor – 16.2 IP, 23 H (3 HR), 6 BB, 10 R (9 ER), 12 K
Freddie Freeman – 12-45 (.267), 3 2B, 1 HR (.400 SLG%), 4 BB (.353 OBP), 15 K
Brandon Hicks – 27-87 (.310), 5 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR (.425 SLG%), 14 BB (.423 OBP), 17 K
Freeman’s campaign was largely hampered by injury. Lee Hyde’s campaign was a success, I’d say. The Braves saw something they liked in Lyman, seeing as they added him to the 40-man roster today, but the numbers don’t look too good. Craig Kimbrel reverted to his 2009 Myrtle Beach form. Mike Minor’s numbers were pedestrian, though there were some positive scouting reports. Brandon Hicks had a very successful campaign. He got ~100 PA’s, made consistent contact, lowered that K rate, increased his BB rate, and showed some pop.
Let’s not take these numbers too seriously, though. In the grand scheme of things we’re talking about a league that is, by design, different in several facets from regular season minor and major league baseball, and an extremely small sample size thereof. What the scouts think, as with most amateur and minor-league players, is a much better indicator of future value than their numbers. Remember this, numbers only tell us what a player has done. Players playing in the lower minor-leagues or college or high school or whatever, they’ve got to get a lot better than they currently are to be able to make it as a regular in MLB. Numbers can’t tell us who will get better, only what they’ve done.