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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Friday Links

A few links on a Friday...

Bruce is gone...

As a Reds blogger, I'm morally obligated to comment on the Jay Bruce reassignment to AAA, right? I guess I'm not that upset about it, simply because it's been the expectation since last season. Krivsky is notoriously methodical and conservative when it comes to promoting his prospects. Bruce was not given a September call-up last season, which, to me, indicated that he was not going to make the opening day squad this year no matter what. I still expect to see him mid-season, though.

Still, I'm shocked to see that Cueto is apparently going to be the #3 starter when the season begins. Very out of character...but it sounds like Dusty might have had something to do with that. Hopefully Baker won't break him.

FWIW, I'm very sure that the Reds as an organization will be pretty careful with Cueto, Bailey, and Volquez... They had a good year last season, and I think they understand the importance of avoiding injury. ... at least, that's what I'll be telling myself until we start seeing routinely high pitch counts on those young guys.

A new blog worth reading

Saber-Scouting is a new blog written by a duo who have direct experience working in baseball. One of the two currently works as a part-time scout, in addition to more media-oriented jobs (scout.com). Their stated goal is to provide a place where "where sabermetics and scouting are melted into a gooey mess." Sounds great to me.

Some of their early work seems similar to Carlos Gomez's pitch mechanics stuff from the Hardball Times last year (Gomez has apparently since been hired as a scout, thus no new articles). These things are always interesting to read, though I have no way of knowing how legit they are.

There's also this interesting post today that notes that AB/BB ratio is a fairly good predictor of league quality. I wouldn't have guessed it would be so clear cut, but it seems to work well when comparing leagues across levels. I'd like to see this same thing over MLB history to see if you see a pattern like that seen with pitcher hitting. FWIW, in 2007, the AL ratio was 10.4350, while the NL ratio was 10.4347. So, in that case, at least, it doesn't work very well, as the AL is widely considered a much better league.

Two more new Reds blogs...

Chris Sabo's Glasses - A blog by chatchi, with humorous commentary to go with the great blog name.

Crosley Field Terrace
- A well written blog with a general focus on the Reds...and yet another really, really great blog name.

I have to say that I still am woefully embarrassed by the utter lack of creativity that went into the name of my own blog. I think I just never expected the blog to take off like it has, so I didn't put much thought into it. Unfortunately, two years later, I still don't have a better idea! Maybe I should hold a contest...

Pizza Cutter on the Reds

MVN's stats guy Pizza Cutter profiled the Reds today. It's stop 24 on his review of the 2007 teams. He does a great job over there, especially given how big a task he has undertaken! Getting through 24 teams in one offseason is quite an accomplishment--I made it through a grand total of 3 teams when doing my playoff team profiles! And I still haven't really wrapped up the 2007 Reds season!!

Dewan on Norris Hopper

Bluzer at Redleg Stats Blog beat me to the punch, but John Dewan profiled the most successful bunters in baseball on his Stat of the Week e-mail this week. He noted that Norris Hopper was the second most successful bunter in baseball, as measured by bunts for base hits, behind only the incomparable Willy Taveras.

I've talked about this before, but I think at least part of Norris Hopper's unusually high (for his LD%) BABIP last season was due to his ability to bunt for base hits with a high success rate. I'm not sure about the degree to which this is true, but Taveras has done this three straight years in his time in the big leagues. I do expect Hopper to regress this season, but perhaps not as severely as you'd expect given his more traditional diagnostic stats.

Dan Fox did a piece this week on bunting too, which is a subject that he hadn't visited in a while. He shows that there may be some reason to include bunting ability as part of a player projection system, though he also speculates that any effect is highly correlated with something like speed. My guess is that, at least for a few players (e.g. Willy Taveras), incorporating bunt performance into one's player projection model it might result in significantly better projections...but it would probably be restricted to only those few players.

Burton's Spring Struggles

Chris at Seeing Reds is concerned about Burton's rather unattractive 10.80 ERA and 2.400 WHIP in spring training. Here was my response:

By my count, Burton struck out six in those five innings and walked none.

The single biggest problem he had last year was his control–when it improved over the last few months, he was awesome. Looks to me like his control is right where it needs to be, and his strikeouts indicate to me that he’s throwing the ball well.

And we know that hit rates can be extremely misleading in small sample sizes–hell, you can get major random departures in BABIP in 200 innings! So frankly, I’m not feeling concerned about him at all after looking at these data.

Jeff Conine to retire

Scott Hatteberg's former right-handed platoon partner at first base has signed a 1-day contract with the Marlins to play in an exhibition game against the New York Yankees on 28 March. After that, he has announced that he intends to retire.

Conine was arguably the most successful selection in the 1992 expansion draft. Over 17 seasons, he hit 0.285/0.347/0.443, with a 107 OPS+, 1982 hits, 217 home runs, and 671 walks. His best season was probably the late-start season of 1995, when he hit 0.302/0.379/0.520 for the Marlins. He also hit reasonably well in the postseason over his career (0.304/0.365/0.382 in 116 PA's), winning both trips to the world series with the Marlins.

B-Ref's salary compilations estimates that he made approximately $32.6 million as a major league ballplayer. Not a hall of fame career, perhaps, but a darn fine career nonetheless.