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Saturday, April 05, 2008

Friday Night Links: Clutch Project, Reds' Service, Salaries, and Pete Rose

The Great Clutch Project is Live!

Voting is closed on Tom Tango's clutch project, which I've talked about on this blog here and most recently here. And the project is now live!

As expected, Adam Dunn did not win the fan's vote for The Guy They'd Most Want At the Plate in a Key Situation. Instead, as Tom Tango tells it, there was a very close race between Encarnacion, Griffey, Hatteberg, and Phillips...all of which placed well ahead of Dunn. In the end, Eddie got the nod, so he will face off against Dunn in the Reds' representatives in the project.

You can see the current leaderboards here, and I'm also including a link to it near the top of this page so that you (and I) can find it all year long. Currently, with just ~60 PA per group, the Unclutch group has a lead of almost a full win (according to WPA) vs. the Clutch group, despite Edwin's walkoff homer (+0.67 wins by itself) counting toward the Clutch group's total. It'll be fun to watch. :)

Reds Customer Service

Being a displaced Reds fan, I don't interact with the club much on the level of customer service and community relations. But I don't like hearing about things like this, responding to whether or not Cincinnati is a good baseball town:
Maybe at one point it was. It has lots of history. And a really good team in the Big Red Machine that they can continually run up the flagpole. They still skip work every Opening Day, and have a parade through downtown, which is pretty cool. But Opening Day is their only sellout, and they spend the rest of the season screaming at their best players.

Aside from the local media, who are about the worst I've seen, management of the team has not improved much under Krivsky. And I don't mean player management, I mean day-to-day management of a ballclub. I mean promising season-ticket holders first crack at buying extra single-game tickets (such as for the Red Sox series this year), but then opening the sales to everyone, and letting the scalpers take them all.

I mean holding a special "come watch batting practice at GABP" the Sunday before Opening Day, but then not allowing anyone to sit in the outfield. Seriously, ushers prevented anyone from going into the bleachers and catching homeruns. They didn't sell beer. They gave away hot dogs for free, and cans of pop, but all they had was Diet Pepsi and they had nowhere to recycle the cans.

Speaking of groaning at bunting, the decorative bunting in the stadium was pathetic. It consisted of about 20 half-moons, each about 6 feet long. That's all. For the entire stadium. When I saw it during the BP fiasco, I said "that can't be the decorations for tomorrow. That looks like the remains of whatever survived the winter, whatever is still up from the last day of the season." Nope. Came back the next day, that's all there was, 20 pieces of bunting.

The bunting may a fitting metaphor for the team. Whether it's Encarnacion or the decorations, the end result is a half-ashed effort and poor execution in just about everything they do.

Hat Tip: Tom Tango.

Maybe this is just another case of Internet Fan Sour Grapes. But I'd like to hear from you folks on this. What do you think of the Reds' customer service? Their effort level towards fans? Have things changed since Bob Castellini et al. took over? Or is it just more of the same? If it's more of the same, is that a bad thing?

Reds Salaries Announced

With a hat tip to John Fay, USA Today published '08 opening day payrolls. I've updated my payroll spreadsheet with that info.

There are some differences between the numbers I already had and the numbers in the USA Today tally.. I'm pretty confident in most of my numbers, so if there's a discrepancy, I'm sticking with my data. Heck, Javier Valentin doesn't even appear in the USA Today set, so clearly it's not flawless. I'm also keeping Stanton, plus his $500k buyout on the list this season, despite his recent DFA...that money still exists.

Patterson is apparently making $3 million this year. I pegged him as a $6-8 million player, so I still think this is a fine deal.

Was Pete Rose a lousy infielder?

I'm not much of a Pete Rose fan. I think he's overrated as a hitter and a rather unlikeable person. But I've never heard this knock against him, so I thought I'd bring it up to see how it matches folks' perceptions. Dan Fox's SFR system, which is essentially the same thing as Sean Smith's TotalZone (and usually is a few months behind Smith in development), rates Pete Rose as follows at his infield positions:

Year  Pos       Balls Runners    Diff     SFR    Rate
1963 Second 605 122 -15 -10.7 0.88
1964 Second 458 103 -5 -3.7 0.95
1965 Second 625 112 -4 -2.4 0.97
1966 Second 613 131 -19 -13.9 0.85
Third 59 12 -3 -2.2 0.77
1967 Second 135 27 -2 -1.5 0.93
1968 Second 2 1 -1 -0.4 0.49
1969 Second 1 1 -1 -0.5 0.26
1975 Third 397 92 -23 -18.0 0.75
1976 Third 486 101 -6 -4.4 0.94
1977 Third 430 85 0 -0.1 1.00
1978 First 3 0 0 0.3 2.67
Third 441 95 -9 -7.3 0.90
1979 First 307 38 -2 -2.1 0.94
Third 14 4 -1 -0.5 0.84
1980 First 291 43 -2 -1.9 0.94
1981 First 212 30 0 -0.2 0.99
1982 First 339 47 -4 -3.1 0.91
1983 First 201 30 -1 -0.9 0.96
That's a total of -73 runs below average. Rose ranks in the bottom-10 since the 1950's at both second base and third base. I've seen Rose's arm rated as plus, so I'm particularly surprised that he (apparently) struggled so much at third base. Thoughts?