Baseball Toaster Mike's Baseball Rants
Monthly archives: April 2005


Double 300, The Hard Way
2005-04-29 21:45
by Mike Carminati

Greg Maddux and the Cubs beat Roger Clemens and the Astros tonight, 3-2, in the first matchup of 300-game winners since 1987 and the first between National Leaguers in 113 years.

From ESPN:

Before Friday, there had been only four matchups of 300-game winners in the modern era, all between June 28, 1986 to Aug. 4, 1987, all involving California's Don Sutton in the American League. Sutton made two starts against Phil Niekro and one apiece against Tom Seaver and [Steve] Carlton.
The last time two NL pitchers with 300 or more victories faced each other was in July 21, 1892, between Philadelphia's Tim O'Keefe [Mike: actually it's Tim Keefe, not O'Keefe] and St. Louis' Jim "Pud" Galvin.

Continue reading...
Stark Twilight for Phils
2005-04-28 22:23
by Mike Carminati

Jayson Stark takes a look at the 2005 Phils and sums up the raisin d'etre thusly:

Basically, it's win now – or find themselves in a pit even darker and deeper than this one.

And you thought Vets Stadium was the pit of despair?

Continue reading...

Brett's Maverick 2005
2005-04-27 22:13
by Mike Carminati

Brett Myers pitched seven shutout innings tonight as the Phils topped the Nats, 3-0 with three runs in the ninth. Unfortunately, Myers again got a no-decision, his third in five starts, against a 1-1 record. He did, however, lower his ERA to 1.35, he recorded seven strikeouts in those seven innings, and he allowed only four hits.

This comes after a devastating season in which Myers went 11-11 with a 5.52 ERA, 21 percent worse than the park-adjusted league average. Myers' career ERA was 4.84 (14% worse than average) entering the season though he had a 29-25 career mark.

Now, I am doubtful that Myers can go the entire season with a sub-2.00 ERA, but it is encouraging that he has lowered his ERA by over 6 earned runs from his April 2004 totals (7.36). His ERA so far in 2005 is 4.17 earned runs lower than it was in 2004. He also has raised his strikeouts per nine innings by 3.25 to over nine.

Can a pitcher lower his ERA by over four runs in just a season? Has anyone ever done that, especially at age 24, Myers' age? And what does it mean for his career?

Continue reading...
Smells Like MBBR Spirit
2005-04-27 12:48
by Mike Carminati

Yes, it's plugs week, here at Mike's Baseball Rants.

Jeff Angus used some of my research on what offensive stats correlate well to scoring runs in a piece for the Seattle Times. The original post was called "Running on Empty" and it appeared here.

Time Has Come Today
2005-04-26 18:42
by Mike Carminati

I feel psychodelicized!

Open up your May 2nd edition of Time magazine, the one with the new pope coquettishly recreating Dewey Oxberger's appearance on the cover of Tiger Beat magazine's "Love and Kisses" edition, and turn to page 91. Look under "Top Baseball Blogs" and guess what you'll see: Nine sites on the Dodgers, Cubs, Yankees, and others

Not bad, eh? MBBR falls under the "and others" rubric, but c'mon it's freakin' Time magazine for goodness sake! No word yet on when BT will get a mention in Tiger Beat, but I'll keep you apprised.

What the A-Rod?
2005-04-26 18:25
by Mike Carminati

Alex Rodriguez has three home runs and ten RBI through six innings in the Bronx tonight. He just singled to center to drive in a run, and I was disappointed. He'll get at least one more at-bat and could tie the record for home runs (4) and RBI (12)in a game . Jim Bottomley and Mark "Hittin'" Whiten set the RBI record. Former Yankee Tony Lazzeri set the AL record at 11 in a game in which he had two grand slams and three homers in total on May 24, 1936.

Good Bye, Mr. Wilson!
2005-04-26 17:45
by Mike Carminati

With Earl Wilson, who once threw a no-hitter and won 22 games in 1967, passing away the living home run leader for pitchers becomes Bob Gibson (i.e., players who pitched in at least half their career games).

Here are the current living leaders (and Wilson, the erstwhile champ). Mike Hampton is the active leader:

NameCareer HR
Earl Wilson35
Bob Gibson24
Jack Harshman21
Milt Pappas20
Gary Peters19
Jim Kaat16
Don Cardwell15
Don Newcombe15
Joe Nuxhall15
Johnny Antonelli15
Pedro Ramos15
Rick Wise15
Clint Hartung14
Don Larsen14
Mike Hampton14
Tommy Byrne14
Don Robinson13
Fergie Jenkins13
Steve Carlton13
Blue Moon Odom12
Bob Forsch12
Lew Burdette12
Sonny Siebert12
Tom Seaver12

Where's Del Unser When You Need Him?
2005-04-25 22:02
by Mike Carminati

When you carry just four outfielders on your roster, this is, I guess, one of the possible end results.

The Phils started Placido Polanco, a career second and third baseman, in left field tonight, replacing injured Pat Burrell (groin). Was it Polanco's first start in the outfield? Well, it was Polanco's first appearance in the outfield in his major-league career. He's played every infield position (except catcher), but never the outfield in seven-plus years in the majors.

He handled all five chances his way, but it brought back memories of "The Bull" at his best (or Manny Ramirez at his worst). Every ball hit his way was an adventure.

But the strategy worked. The Phils got both of their second basemen, Chase Utley and Polanco, both of whom have been among the Phils' best offensive players this year, in the lineup. And they went 3-for-8 with one run and three runs batted in to help the Phils edge the Nats, 5-4.

The Phils had led 5-1 but had to withhold a near-meltdown by Billy Wagner in the ninth. Wagner allowed two hits with two outs but got Jose Vidro to fly out to end the game and keep his record perfect for 2005.

Though they won, the scars are really beginning to show. What do they do the next time an outfielder is injured? In this case, oddly, Kenny Lofton was not used even though the Nat starter, Day, was a righty. What happens if it's a lefty next time? How can they keep getting ABs for both Polanco and Utley. Considering how they have screwed up every young player that the organization has spit out since Jimmy Rollins, I guess, I'm not optimistic.

Lieberthal is DOA. And yet there isn't a viable catcher option below the age of 30 in the organization, at least above Double-A. He appears to have nothing left at all.

Corey Lidle survived but did scatter eight hits in six innings. Worrell gave up his daily run. Wagner showed some of the shakiness that plagued him last year.

But there was a bright spot: Jose Offerman, pinch-hitter extraordinaire, got a hit, his third of the season, to up his average to a cool .200. The Phils are wasting a roster spot on the superannuated Offerman, whose best defensive position is pinch-hitter, even though the Phils have better, younger options, who could potentially play defensive position but are languishing in the minors.

The Burning of (The Phils' Bats in) Atlanta
2005-04-24 22:01
by Mike Carminati

The Phils got swept by the Braves today in those ugly red softball uniforms, but that's not the end of it: they lost on average by a 7-1 score. The Phils led for one half inning, 1-0 in the top of the first in game one of the series.

The one positive, as we watch the Phils' season, unravel, is that it's happening early enough in the season this time so that it will be enough disavow anyone involved in or even watching this team of the belief that this is a playoff-caliber team.

Continue reading...
Sign o' the Times
2005-04-24 10:40
by Mike Carminati

Jon Weisman informs me that my research on the Dodgers and their (once) 12-2 record got a mention from Steve Henson in The LA Times yesterday. That was great, but couldn't they have at least given me a plug?

Hitless Wonders, Mach 2
2005-04-23 23:45
by Mike Carminati

The White Sox are ran their record to 14-4, by beating the Royals today, 4-3 in ten innings. Oddly, the Sox were a team that many had written off (including me) after their young pitching prospects failed to develop, for the most part, and they picked up a couple of ex-Yankees (Orlando Hernandez and Jose Contreras).

They also entered the season with the putative best offensive player Frank Thomas on the DL and Magglio Ordonez left in the offseason as a free agent. If anyone was told that they would have just a .707 team OPS through 18 games and that only two regulars have OPS's over .775, they would shrug and say that this fit their expectations. However, they would also think that the Sox would be more likely to be 4-14 than 14-4. This was a team with a 4.91 team ERA last year, for goodness sake!

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Nationals Pride
2005-04-21 21:50
by Mike Carminati

Even though the relocated Washington Nationals lost to the Braves tonight, 2-1, after giving up two runs on a Cristian Guzman error in the ninth, they remain in first place in the NL East, tied with the Florida Marlins at 9-7. Neither team has ever won the division in any full season.

The Nats are trying to complete the dual task of going from last to first while switching homes from Montreal to DC in the process. One has to wonder if shuffling off the baggage with which they'd been laden north of the border, not to mention their alter ego as the San Juan Expos, is enough to buoy this team into a pennant race. Or maybe it was losing Omar Minaya, who seemed more concerned with pleasing his former employers, the other owners, than in constructing a viable team in Montreal.

The Nats/Expos were 67-95 for a .414 winning percentage last year. They trailed the Braves by 29 games. Very few people picked them better than fourth this year in the East.

Is this just an early season fluke or can the Nats really contend? How have past relocated teams fared?

Continue reading...
Artful Dodgers?
2005-04-21 11:24
by Mike Carminati

With the one true Los Angeles team starting the season 12-2 after an offseason that saw they GM being vilified by just about every baseball analyst in the country and with the arch-rival Giants missing the best player on the planet for the foreseeable future, should Dodger fans be confident of another playoff berth in 2005?

Let's ask Mr. Owl….

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Had My Phil
2005-04-20 22:18
by Mike Carminati

So I went to my first game at Citizen's Bank Park in the post-inaugural era and I have to say that the highlight was the free Turkey Hill ice cream before the game—It was Tastykake Chocolate Cupcake, after all, a combination of things that will make any true Philadelphian have to change his undies about now.

As for the game…in the bottom of first my cousin-in-law, Yankee fan he, turned to me and dejectedly said something like, "This isn't a very good ballgame, is it?" And I sort of shrugged my assent in a "welcome to my world" kind of way.

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Mr. Roberts
2005-04-19 22:32
by Mike Carminati
I realize in wartime they have to scrape the bottom of the barrel, but where did they ever scrape you up?
—Mr. Roberts in "Mr. Roberts"

Two weeks into the season and no Barry Bonds…So who's the best player in baseball? Brian Roberts, of course.

Roberts hit his sixth homer of the season tonight after collecting just 12 all of last season. He's scored 16 runs, driven in 17, is 6-for-7 in steals, and has ungodly ratios (.421/.507/.860/1.367).

If that weren't enough, his stats project to 69 home runs 197 RBI and 185 runs. His career totals for those stats at the start of the season were 12, 122, and 232, respectively.

Can he keep up that sort of production? Is there such a precedent?

Continue reading...
Dropping Dime
2005-04-18 21:20
by Mike Carminati

The Yankees scored 13—count 'em--thirteen runs in the second inning tonight en route to a 19-8 shellacking of the D Rays. This was just one behind the AL record shared by the 2003 Red Sox (6/27 against the Marlins) and 1950 Indians (6/18 vs. the A's).

However, the Yanks weren't the only ones running up the score tonight. The Tigers beat the O's 13-3, the Cards beat the Pirates 11-1, and the Red Sox beat the Jays 12-7. Meanwhile the Braves beat the 'Stros 1-0 in 12. Go figure. In 15 slated games, three were won by at least ten runs, and two are still in progress. In one the Long Beach Angels lead the M's 6-0 in the sixth, so it may be four games before the night's through.

Continue reading...
2005-04-18 13:04
by Mike Carminati

The Yankees acquired a big-name, surefire Hall of Famer in the offseason. They picked up the ace from a former World Series winner. And yet through 12 games were just 4-8, and to add insult to injury, they gave up eight runs to a division rival to lose their eighth.

It sounds pretty dire, but of course, that team went on to win the first of two consecutive World Series.

If you thought I'm talking about the 2005 incantation of the Yankees, you'd be wrong.

Continue reading...
Angry Beaver?
2005-04-18 07:53
by Mike Carminati

Chris House, the Red Sox "fan" who apparently was trying to remove a schmear of mustard from Gary Sheffield's face when Sheffield went into the corner for a ball Friday night, seems to have trouble dealing with anger in general.

According to this article in MIT's "The Tech", House was an assistant coach with the MIT football team, the Beavers, and had some trouble with a linesman in a 2001 game:

MIT's hopes did not die without some controversy, however, as Curry [College] took a delay of game penalty when they had possession with about 3 and a half minutes left. The game's officials allowed the clock to run even after the penalty had been called. Assistant coach Chris House ran on the field, and grabbed the linesman to alert him. Startled, he assessed a 15-yard penalty against MIT (thereby granting Curry a first down). As the linesman walked away, House called him a "fat boy" and another 15-yard penalty was assessed.

House "ran on the field", "grabbed the linesman", and "called him a 'fat boy'" after the call did not go his way. It's interesting that after each outburst, his side was assessed further penalties. The Red Sox are, to their credit, looking into stripping House of his season tickets. It seems like it won't do much to teach House a lesson, but at least opposing right fielders won't have to worry about his presence when they go into the corner to retrieve a ball.

I wonder if the guy's fiancé, who was sitting next to him at the game, is still defending him.

[Thanks to Alex for the link.]

Whencegoes Metsgoes?
2005-04-17 11:20
by Mike Carminati

The New York Mets have all of a sudden gone from 0-5 while being shut down by John Smoltz to whom they struck out 15 times to 6-5, after winning their sixth in a row, 4-3, over the Marlins yesterday. The streak includes two shutouts including an improbable one-hitter by Aaron Heilman.

The Mets are now tied for second with the Braves, one game behind the surprising Nationals. So can a team that starts off the season with a sweep at the hands of the lowly Reds turn its season around and possibly win the division?

Continue reading...
Marlins Off the Hook
2005-04-14 11:58
by Mike Carminati

I swear if the Phils an Marlins played an entire season against each other, the Marlins would finish 162-0 and the Phillies, 0-162. At least that's how it seems in the roller coaster world which is to be the 2005 Phils season.

Yesterday, Dontrelle Willis D-railed—are we sick of this yet?—the Phils offense, shutting them out, 4-0, on only three hits (all singles) and a walk while striking out seven. This was an offense that entered the game with the most runs in baseball. It was Willis's second straight shutout to start the season.

It was the fourth shutout and fourth complete game for the Marlins in nine games (though one shutout was a team shutout, not a complete game). I am of two minds on this: First, I thought that if the Marlins could get their young starters to gel, they would be the team to beat in the NL East. Second, I think "Don't Call Me Trader" Jack McKeon is going to Billy Ball the arms off the starters by the All-Star game.

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Oh, K Correl.
2005-04-13 21:58
by Mike Carminati

Last week Toaster-mate Will Carroll posed to the group the musical question:

"I was thinking ... they showed the all-time K leaders on tonight's game and all of them were modern era, all playing into the 80s. There's probably a simple answer to this. In context and era-adjusted, how much are Clemens and Johnson's K stats 'inflated', like most think modern home run stats are.

"Better, is there any connect between climbing K rates and HR rates?"

Never one to back down from a challenge, when it doesn't require me to get up off my duff and turn off the TV, I investigated.

Sure enough, there are more than two times as many strikeouts per plate appearance today than in 1920 (actually 2.15 times in the AL and 2.23 in the NL). Also, homers per plate appearance correlate to many strikeouts per plate appearance surprisingly well when compared to other statistics (with a coefficient of .779).

Here it is compared to other ratios (based on per-league data) correlated to strikeouts per plate appearance. The higher the correlation, the better. A correlation of 1.000 (like BA) would be perfect. A negative correlation means that the statistic correlates inversely, i.e., goes up when strikeouts go down and vice versa:


I guess it's not much of a surprise that batting average and on-base percentage are negatively impacted by high strikeout totals. However, it might be surprising that walks though not correlated to K's all that well, do increase as strikeouts increase. Also, though homers correlate the best to K's, slugging percentage does not, indicating that the other components of slugging are not affected positively by the big swing that might lead to a K.

One other correlation of note, home runs and walks (per plate appearance) have a coefficient of .577. Yes, it's better than the ratios, but not by much (especially when one considers that most of them top out at around 1.000). However, it does indicate that even though there might be years with big swings for the fences, it doesn't mean that it leads to fewer walks.

Continue reading...
Free to Be... Bonds and El Tiante, Part III
2005-04-12 21:51
by Mike Carminati

After looking at the performance of individual free agents, let's now turn to how well teams have down throughout their history in acquiring free agents.

For this study I have culled more than free agent transactions. Also, included are the players who "jumped" their contracts with a team in one league to join another team in different league. The team that loses the player gets their team totals decremented by what the player does with his new team. Also, teams that grant free agency to their players get their totals decremented accordingly. Finally, the short-lived free agent compensation picks (remember how Tom Seaver ended up on the White Sox) are also taken into account, helping their new team and hurting the old.

OK, this is a quickie, but before I reveal the winner, see if you can figure out who it is. Here's a hint, it's not the Expos/

The franchises are sorted by the net Win Shares Above Baseline (WSAB) for that franchise (or lost after leaving that franchise) for players acquired in a free agent transaction. The total WS and WSAB for the teams free agents prior to joining and after leaving the team are also listed. For fun, I threw in the Federal League clubs from the 1914-15 season, many of whom benefited from contract jumping:

FranchisePre Career WSPost Career WSWSAB Pre CareerWSAB Post Career WS Team WSAB Team
New York Yankees5235250419141171 2,890.47 1,337.52
San Francisco Giants228610791258283 2,423.51 1,144.56
Boston Red Sox239116181046727 2,388.05 1,130.61
Oakland Athletics22442052451856 2,182.31 947.61
Baltimore Orioles505020231814589 2,247.51 934.74
Detroit Tigers263425436911109 2,036.95 914.32
Chicago White Sox537211432559290 1,867.66 817.51
Atlanta Braves600-320453-11 1,433.58 658.70
Anaheim Angels452614981501412 1,632.14 598.47
Cleveland Indians565610312439177 1,293.97 557.98
Chicago Cubs4032-2081699-548 1,375.39 528.02
Texas Rangers4940775181137 1,222.10 478.36
Los Angeles Dodgers919-138191-655 1,067.62 446.65
Minnesota Twins25377641213220 1,103.38 392.00
Cincinnati Reds222575296-164 931.24 389.45
Seattle Mariners132877047971 1,108.32 385.20
Houston Astros143269580690 1,030.71 373.29
Philadelphia Phillies3519-5081087-574 967.70 342.92
Toronto Blue Jays-11225-540-57 787.05 337.43
St. Louis Cardinals2384-403202-618 855.51 303.00
New York Mets-275170-21267 752.94 285.26
Montreal Expos661-21458-148 656.99 274.71
Milwaukee Brewers1475-80806-136 704.17 273.67
Kansas City Royals34116601395154 794.49 271.67
Arizona Diamondbacks1425790553323 602.44 269.14
Pittsburgh Pirates2886-579931-714 832.20 258.61
San Diego Padres3050479985-67 674.89 253.01
Colorado Rockies1652917527289 658.07 248.97
Newark Pepper17929188160 291.59 160.91
Florida Marlins1357855584353 400.22 149.95
Chicago Whales-742172-432121 257.90 147.30
St. Louis Terriers153127125107 256.39 145.13
Buffalo Bisons721008037 237.22 130.20
Pittsburgh Rebels1712074195 216.43 105.36
Kansas City Packers71265-36105 188.58 99.71
Baltimore Terrapins380443154216 201.00 97.48
Brooklyn Tip-Tops51116024141 156.36 81.79
Tampa Bay Devil Rays2526622902139 194.18 58.77

Other entries in the Trade Series:

Mike: I'll Take Manhattan: Baseball's Most Lopsided Trades: Parts I, I (revised), II

A Quick One (Happy Mike)

Lee Even Stevens: Parts I, II—The Sexy Version

Cain and A-Rod—A Bling-Bling Rivalry: Parts I, II

Kansas City Blues: Parts I, II

Baseball's Most Lopsided Trades—The Revenge of Glenn Davis

Awe-Phil?: Parts I, II, III

Gone With the Draft

Organizational Skills, Part I, II

The Best of Drafts, The Worst of Drafts

Free to Be... Bonds and El Tiante, Part I, II

Studes: The Best and Worst Teams of the Trade

Smoltz for Alexander

The Biggest Deals of All Time


Sean Lahman's Baseball Database

Retrosheet's Transaction Data

Free to Be... Bonds and El Tiante, Part II
2005-04-11 22:15
by Mike Carminati

We've already seen who the best free agents were based on player performance after signing with a new club. However, I don't think that tells us the full story. When a team signs a free agent, the assumption is that he will perform based on his past performance and the compensation he derives is based on that assumption.

Sure, Barry Bonds has been ungodly since signing with the Giants but he's made between $4.5 and $18 M since signing. Are the some more moderately priced free agents whose performance, though not as high as Bonds, turns out to be a better bargain?

I took the data from the last entry and added the salary data from Doug Pappas' research. His data are only from 1985 on so the turn-of-the-century "jumpers" from the last study and early free agents get short shrift. However, it does allow us to measure every free agent contract over the last 20 years.

Continue reading...
Harbinger Binge
2005-04-10 12:39
by Mike Carminati

The Phils won a game yesterday that, if this team does anything of consequence this year or if anything is to come of them in future seasons, this is the game that might have started it all.

First, Gavin Floyd was amazing, unhittable. His big change froze a number of batters. It may be the best weapon that a Phils pitcher has commanded since Lefty Carlton cominate the opposition with his fall-off-the-table slider. He retired 19 batters at one point. Floyd didn't start strong—he gave up a run in the first and had to strike out Rolen to avoid further damage—and seemed to lose it all at once—he was lucky to escape the seventh after giving up a single to Edmonds and hitting Grudzielanek. If Floyd can continue to pitch this well even Charlie "I Need A" Manuel isn't stupid enough to keep him out of the rotation once Vicente Padilla returns.

The Phils need Floyd to become a big-time pitcher and Wolf and Padilla to return to their previous path to success after an injury-plagued 2004 season. Floyd, Madson, and Hammels are the Phils rotation future as far as I'm concerned.

The other good omen was Chase Utley's homer in the fourth to put the Phils up, 4-1. Utley has to prove himself to Manuel, or rather Manuel must be convinced that Utley's power at second makes him indispensable.

Finally, Pat Burrell was out of his mind going 4-for-5 with a monster shot in the eighth that put the Phils up, 10-1. Burrell took the NL lead in RBI on the hit and ended the night batting .550 for the year. Burrell is an extremely streaky batter. However, if he starts the season on a good streak, maybe the pressure that he, the Phils management, and the fans dump on him because of his massive contract will be lessened a bit.

Also, Jose Offerman, pinch-hitter extraordinaire, got his second at-bat of the season flying out for the pitcher in the ninth with the Phils up 10-1. Maybe someone somewhere in the organization will realize the insanity of keeping a superfluous has-been like Offerman on the bench while the entire outfield is being backed up by just Jason Michaels. Then maybe Marlon Byrd Phase IV might re-start and maybe he could even resurrect his moribund career.

I know, I shouldn't get carried away.

Free to Be... Bonds and El Tiante
2005-04-09 22:24
by Mike Carminati
Free labor has the inspiration of hope; pure slavery has no hope.
—Abraham "Nunez" Lincoln

You call yourself free? I want to hear your ruling thought and not that you have escaped a yoke. Are you such a one as was permitted to escape a yoke? There are some who threw away their ultimate worth when they threw away their servitude. Free from what? What is that to Zarathustra! But your eyes should announce to me brightly: free for what?
—Friedrich "Fat Freddie" Nietzsche

Free agency, we are told, was engendered by Curt Flood's staunchly refusing to report to the Phils, then seen as an unfriendly team towards African-American players, after an October 7, 1969 trade with the Cards. Flood's refusal led to the end of reserve-clause slavery, and eventually to Jay Bell's ludicrous contract with the Diamondbacks in their inaugural year.

Of course, there were free agents before Flood. They just couldn't declare themselves free on their own. They had to get the team to let them go, which wasn't always the best career move. In the primordial history of the game, players would sign one-year contracts and "revolve" to another at the end of the year. Or he would just "jump" one contract for another. As the reserve clause took hold and rival leagues signed agreements to honor each other's contracts, jumping became less of an issue. However, it would crop up every so often when a new rival league would appear, and one time—the Players' National League in 1890—the players actually organized the league themselves.

Anyway, Retrosheet has data on free agents and contract jumpers going back to the launching of the American League as a major league. Given the new tools that Studesand I developed for studying transactions, we can take a look at the best free agents of all time. So without further ado…

Continue reading...
Organizational Skills, Part II
2005-04-08 19:55
by Mike Carminati

As promised, here's the player development data per team per decade.

A few things to keep in mind: All franchises are labeled as of their current iteration. So no comments that the Twins didn't exist in the Thirties, OK?

Also, the data are extremely sketchy prior to the Fifties. Therefore, I have added the year ranges for each decade to illustrate how sketchy.

Finally, the data since 2000 is even more sketchy. Therefore, I rolled all post-2000 data into the Nineties.

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Circuit Breakers
2005-04-07 22:29
by Mike Carminati

My friend Mike shot me an email on opening day that Pedro Martinez had nine strikeouts through four innings. Being a diehard Yankees fan and a putative Mets fan, he was conflicted as to the rooting protocol for the ex-Red Sock. Being a Phils fan myself who grew to hate the Zimmer-tossing, Posada-baiting, dwarf-loving, daddy-seeking pitcher even before he pitched for the Mets, I was conflict-free.

However, being a baseball fan first and foremost, I would root for the devil himself (or a Ray Walston-ian equivalent) if he were pitching a perfect game. So when Pedro ended up with twelve Ks in six innings, I felt a slight twinge of sorrow (among the uproarious laughter) that he got a no-decision for his efforts as the Mets lost 7-6 after Braden Looper gave up three runs in the ninth.

It did get me to think about the affect that pitching in a new league has on a pitcher. Look at Clemens resurrection upon becoming an Astro last year.

So what does a league change do to an average pitcher? Does he become a world beater? Are the batters, many of whom may never have faced the pitcher before, completely overpowered? Do strikeouts-per-nine-innings ratios go through the roof?

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The Best of Drafts, The Worst of Drafts
2005-04-05 20:37
by Mike Carminati
I am the vessel. The draft is God's. And God is the thirsty one.
—Dag "Atlee" Hammarskjöld

I am come, young ladies, in a very moralizing strain, to observe that our pleasures of this world are always to be for, and that we often purchase them at a great disadvantage, giving readi-monied actual happiness for a draft on the future, that may not be honoured.
—Jane Austen "Kearns"

What was the best draft in baseball history? What was the worst?

What team drafted the most talent in one draft class? The least? Has any team ever had a draft so bad that none of the players drafted ever contributed at the major-league level?

After sifting through the data for developing talent at an organizational level, it occurred to me that the statistics that Studes and I developed could be used to evaluate individual drafts.

Continue reading...

Organizational Skills
2005-04-04 21:14
by Mike Carminati
Your organization is not a praying institution. It's a fighting institution. It's an educational institution right along industrial lines. Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living!
—Mother "Ruppert" Jones

After reviewing the Phils' ineptness in drafting and developing pitchers, I thought it might be fun to look at how all organizations have fared in developing talent overall. First, I must warn you that copious tables are to follow.

The first set of table deals with how well each team has done based on the three basic avenues that are used to acquire minor-league talent. Those three are the amateur draft (instituted 1965), amateur free agents (and so-called "bonus babies"), and minor-league acquisitions from other teams (Rule V draft picks, minor-league draft picks, first-year waiver picks, and first-year draft picks).

For each Win Shares and Win Shares Above Baseline (WSAB) are listed based on the players' entire careers and also on their performance with that particular team only. Those values are averaged per draft class. Finally, the ratio of team WS/WSAB as compared to the overall career values is listed. Those ratios show how well teams retain and develop talent.

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Ryan's Hope or Wade's Waterloo?
2005-04-04 18:55
by Mike Carminati

Minor-league slugger and Bill Conlin's idol Ryan Howard, who was sent down by the Phils in one of their final cuts, has requested a trade. He has also requested a personal valet, not that it will matter all that much.

Howard hit 48 home runs last season in Double-A (mostly), Triple-A, and with the Phils. However, after a failed shift to the outfield, Howard remains stuck at first base behind Jim Thome and DH demand are light in the NL. The value for Howard, 25 years old and stuck in Triple-A, is at its zenith, one would think.

However, after failing to move Howard last year to fill holes on the major-league roster, Ed Wade now seems to be holding onto him to have some ammunition at the trade deadline. Of course, whatever the Phils get then will be worth about half what it is today to the team in 2005.

Howard should have some disgruntled company in Scranton with incumbent starting center fielder Marlon Byrd getting sent down as the last cut of spring. And remember that the peerless Charlie Manuel has already reduced Chase Utley's time at second base. Should Utley slump, he might join Howard and Byrd in the Phils' form of purgatory.

Tomorrow the least promising of all the Phils' young players, Brett Myers, starts against the Nationals after getting promoted to number two in the rotation.

God, I miss Larry Bowa already. And I hated Larry Bowa. Ed Wade and his minion manager are doing everything to make Bowa look like John McGraw. My only solace is that when the Phils fade this year, Wade will have nowhere to hide.

Utley Ridiculous
2005-04-03 18:55
by Mike Carminati

Well, the Phils' have yet to open the season and they have already committed three errors in the last twenty-four hours. After demoting incumbent center fielder Marlon Byrd and his .390 spring average and moving the execrable Brett Myers to the number two spot in the rotation for balance (?), Charlie "I Need a Managerial" Manuel has decided to split time at second base between Placido Polanco and Chase Utley.

All three decisions affect young players, and of the three Myers is the one that I have the least confidence in especially after this spring and yet he is the one that gets the nod. Watching Utley and a couple of the young pitchers develop was about all I was looking forward to this season.

Polanco was the starting second baseman for most of last season but was seemed to be on his way out of Philly given he was a free agent and the end of the year. Not only did the Phils not trade him to shore up some of their holes last year, the brought him back ostensibly to sit on the bench this year.

Utley was supposed to be their second baseman of the future. He about half a season last year, he had 13 homers and 57 RBI. He was very streaky (especially when he was yanked in and out of the lineup and for a time moved to first) and ended up with less than stellar ratios. However, he is now 26, and if the Phils ever expect to get anything out of him, now's the time. There aren't that many second baseman that can offer 30 HR/100 RBI potential right now.

What does the troglodytic Manuel have to offer regarding the situation?

"I wish I could play both of them, but that's how it is," Manuel said. "I feel like I've got two regular second baseman and that's not all bad. I feel like it makes the team stronger. I know both of them want to play. It's up to us to work it out."

Sure, why not create controversy at as many positions as possible?

The reality is that the ever-fragile David Bell will probably miss at least half the season allowing Polanco to shift to third and leave second to Utley. But the decision is going to leave a bad taste in Utley's mouth for some time to come. I've got the juicy pre-taste of third place in my mouth right now.

Given the Byrd…Again!
2005-04-02 22:14
by Mike Carminati

It's one day until the opener, and the Phils have already sealed their fate as also-rans this season. The devil's in the details: the Phils' final decisions of spring dealt with two young players And in both case the made the wrong decision.

The lesser of the two decisions was to move Brett Myers to the number two spot in the rotation, instead of number four (with Randy Wolf at number two). Myers had a 5.52 ERA last year, 21% worse than the park-adjusted league average. He also owns a 7.66 ERA in 22.1 innings this spring, the second highest in the mediocre at best rotation. He is just 24 and won 14 games two years ago (albeit with a 4.43 ERA), but that's not enough to outweigh his recent history.

However, manager Charlie Manuel, Ed Wade's lackey, according to the Philadelphia Daily News, wanted to show Myers "that he had confidence in him after his struggles the past season and a half." Said Manuel:

"I kind of like it that way [Myers second]- even before we had Padilla get hurt. It kind of gives the rotation more balance."

Yeah, it sucks from top to bottom.

OK, maybe with an aging team like the Phils, perhaps it is best to give your young players a boost, which brings me to Exhibit B, Marlon Byrd. Byrd was supposed to be the Phils' starting center fielder and potential leadoff hitter even after they signed aging Kenny Lofton ostensibly as a backup playoff and spot starter.

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