Table of Contents

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Going on break

As I write this, it's about 45 days out from my dissertation defense date. And I still have an enormous amount to do.

So, unfortunately, I think I need to impose about a two-week break from baseball on myself. The rules are (just so that it's official) that I can check scores once a day, I can check my gmail account for e-mails or comments on my blog, and I can check John Fay's blog. But no reading other blogs/news sites, no playing with my baseball spreadsheets, no watching games, and absolutely no blogging.

Sorry about this, but it's something that I really have to do. I'll be back, hopefully in just two weeks or so. In the meantime, play around with this fabulous pitchf/x tool by Jnai/Dan Brooks!

Thursday, April 24, 2008


I'm teaching an evening course Tuesday through Thursday at a community college this semester. It's about a half-hour drive, and there's something about driving through the city at night that puts me into an introspective mood.

Tonight, I was thinking about the Reds. I haven't really considered myself a Wayne Krivsky fan for a while. But I'm more bothered that he was fired today than I would have ever expected.

Somehow, the fact that he's no longer at the helm makes me feel like I don't know this team anymore. It doesn't make any sense, as it's the same set of players and largely the same set of personnel.

Maybe what's happened is that this move crushed the final bit of enthusiasm I still had left over from that exciting time back in early '06 when we got a new owner and a new GM within a month's time. Or, maybe it's just that I don't think that this was the right move for the ballclub--I remember having similar feelings of detachment and general bummitude after The Trade. Or maybe it's just that I'd finally gotten a pretty good read on Krivsky and his operating style, and now I don't have a clue what to expect from Jocketty...

It's nothing that a little winning won't fix, of course. Hopefully the Reds'll go on a little winning streak here and put everyone (or me, at least) in a better mood.

If there's one advantage that Jocketty has, it's that he is through-and-through Bob Castellini's guy. Wayne has seemingly been living on the edge since the Narron firing of last July. But it's going to take a lot more than a losing streak or two for Castellini to start exerting win-or-else pressure on Jocketty. Hopefully that means that Jocketty will be more free to do his job than Wayne may have been...which, for this franchise, means first and foremost continuing to build the farm, steadily moving the youth into leading roles on the big league team, and figuring out what the heck to do about the outfield problem that's coming in the fall.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Krivsky Fired, Jocketty Hired

Wayne Krivsky has been fired. He'll be replaced by former Cardinals GM Walt Jocketty, who was hired in January as a special advisor to Castellini. Krivsky's hiring came just before I started this blog, in February of 2006. So, he survived just over two years in his position.

A lot of Reds bloggers are describing this as unsurprising move. But I'm frankly very surprised.

I think any GM deserves a good three years to make a difference, unless they are obviously and grossly negligent (and yes, The Trade probably counts, but that was several years ago). And five years is not an unreasonable tenure given that GM's often take over a team with a rather sparse major & minor league system (as did Krivsky, Dan O'Brien's two drafts notwithstanding). So I think that it was too early to bring down the axe due to "not winning."

Furthermore, I think it is far too early to read much into the standings, given that there are 141 games left to play in the season and all. And yet, not "starting well" was among the reasons that Castellini cited for the firing. I'm not saying that the Reds will be contenders this year. Just that the first 21 games don't tell us a whole lot, in and of themselves, about who will win this division.

Long-standing rumors of Bob Castellini's reputation for being unnecessarily impatient seem supported.

On Krivsky

I think Krivsky was a decent general manager. Not great, but decent. He continued what Dan O'Brien started in refurbishing the farm system. It is now among the top 25% in baseball, and is going to make Jocketty look good over the next few years with all the talent finally reaching the big leagues. He made several excellent pickups for very little cost: Brandon Phillips, Josh Hamilton, Jeff Keppinger, David Ross, Kyle Lohse, Jared Burton and Scott Hatteberg. He also did a good job of locking up some of the ballclub's core talent, including Harang, Dunn (he'd otherwise be gone by now), Arroyo (that contract isn't as bad as some make it out to be), and most recently Phillips.

The Trade really stands out as the single biggest mistake he's made, and it was unquestionably a complete disaster--even given Felipe Lopez's dive into atrociousness. There have been other mistakes, of course, but none that in my mind (judging from my posts) were particularly terrible moves at the time they were made (Well, maybe the Cormier trade, but whatever).

The other possible problem with Krivsky is his reputation among his employees. It's hard to know much about this on the outside... but some people seem to love him, while others seem to hate him. After his first year, there were two high-profile departures from the front office who left on a bitter note: Larry Barton and Johnny Almarez. Almarez's departure, in particular, bothered me, as he cited some rather bizarre-sounding non-exclusiveness and secrecy on Krivsky's part during the winter meetings as a big part of why he left. Less than a month later, Almarez took over as the Braves' Director of Latin American Operations. He has since been promoted to Director of International Scouting and Operations. So you know he was a good asset. Apparently Paul Daugherty is citing "people skills" as a reason for Krivsky's firing...though I'm pretty skeptical of anything coming out of Daugherty's mouth.

Here's a decent resource: MLB Trade Rumors' summary of Wayne Krivsky's tenure.

On Jocketty

I'm not sure if he'll be all that different. He'll probably be a better public speaker (wouldn't take much), and he certainly has more experience. But my understanding of the guy is that he's a fairly traditional "baseball man" (like Krivsky), with a primary emphasis on scouting (like Krivsky). He did have the services of Sig Mejdal for many years with the Cardinals, though, so maybe he's a bit more open to the input from statisticians than I give him credit for.

There was a nice GM in a Box article about Jocketty in the Hardball Times 2007 Annual, but unfortunately my copy is packed away in storage. What I remember from it: Jocketty built his Cardinals team around Albert Pujols (who was a "lucky" find, more than anything), and some successful trade-and-signs of guys like established Jim Edmonds and Chris Carpenter. It's a fine strategy, but doesn't strike me as a particularly unique philosophy either. I'm also not sure how consistent it is with a team that has the kind of minor league system the Reds have right now.

Jocketty's had success in the past, so hiring him certainly isn't a bad move. But I have a feeling that most of the success that he hopefully will have in the coming years will be built upon the core of young talent that Krivsky has assembled. Such is baseball, though...

Update: Wayne Krivsky's comments, courtesy of Hal's blog:
“It came out of the blue, it really did,” said Krivsky. “Completely shocked. I didn’t see this coming at all. What hurts so much is not to be able to see the job through. I had visions of being in the clubhouse with people pouring champagne over everybody. I’m hugely disappointed I’m not able to finish the job.

“I fought for an hour to keep my job,” he said. “I fought hard for my job. I love it here. I loved my job. And I had laughs. You have to have laughs in this job and I did in two years. I only wish it was 22. It wasn’t my call. But I disagree strongly with the decision. I still think I’m the right guy for this job. But Bob will admit he is an impatient man. I’ll sleep good tonight…well, maybe not tonight.

“Look at an unbiased source like Baseball America, who had the Reds farm system rated 27th to 30th when I got here, now they rank us in the top three or four,” said Krivsky. “In two years? Dam right I’m proud of that. I’m damned proud of that. We’re one of the most respected organizations in baseball and I’m damn proud of that.”
He should be. Building the farm system is definitely Krivsky's #1 accomplishment during his time here. As I said above, any success that Jocketty has over the coming few seasons--and obviously I hope he has a lot of success--will be built largely upon Krivsky's work. It's unfair. ... And that's ok, assuming that Jocketty is an upgrade in that position. I'm just not sure that he is. Time will tell.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Monday Night Reds Monitor - Through 20 April

This is my weekly look at the Reds' season-to-date statistics, with minimal (for me) commentary.

I've tried to include notes below each table about the meaning of some of the more obscure statistics, and many of these stats are discussed in detail in the player value series. But if you have questions please do not hesitate to ask!

NL Central Update
Team W L PCT GB RS* RS/G* RA* RA/G* Pwins W%for90 XtrapW
CHN 12 6 0.667 0.0 109 6.04 83 4.64 11 0.542 108
STL 12 7 0.632 0.5 89 4.67 69 3.65 12 0.545 102
MIL 11 7 0.611 1.0 86 4.79 73 4.07 10 0.549 99
CIN 8 11 0.421 4.5 77 4.06 86 4.53 9 0.573 68
PIT 7 11 0.389 5.0 82 4.55 119 6.62 6 0.576 63
HOU 7 12 0.368 5.5 73 3.84 88 4.63 8 0.580 60
Remarks: RS, RA, RS/G and RA/G are all park-adjusted. Pwins is the PythagoPat predicted wins for each team. W%for90 is the winning percentage a team will need from now on to reach 90 wins. XtrapW is the extrapolated number of wins the team will get, assuming they maintain the same winning percentage.

Tough week for the Reds, who went 2-4.....their extrapolated win total is currently 68--not good, especially with three teams on pace for 99+ wins...plenty of time to turn it around, of course.....The Reds' offense clawed its way out of the bottom of the division (they're now fifth), but the defense dropped to third place--at least they're not the Pirates (6.6 runs allowed/game)!.....The Cubs surged to the top of the division, and Pittsburgh fell a notch....


Keppinger Jeff S 84 7% 5% 19% 0.324 0.329 0.373 0.500 0.171 0.873 0.819 12.7 6.31 5.8
Encarnacion Edwin 74 16% 14% 8% 0.250 0.258 0.378 0.484 0.226 0.862 0.891 11.0 6.28 5.0
Bako Paul 54 11% 19% 26% 0.378 0.313 0.389 0.479 0.166 0.868 0.804 8.7 6.88 4.3
Dunn Adam 75 28% 20% 15% 0.216 0.189 0.413 0.340 0.151 0.753 0.977 9.7 5.80 3.9
Votto Joey D 47 0% 19% 29% 0.314 0.298 0.298 0.553 0.255 0.851 0.888 6.8 5.40 2.5
Griffey Jr. Ken 79 10% 11% 14% 0.259 0.261 0.342 0.435 0.174 0.777 0.822 9.0 4.55 2.2
Phillips Brandon 78 8% 22% 27% 0.333 0.264 0.321 0.389 0.125 0.710 0.731 8.6 4.27 1.7
Patterson Corey 67 9% 6% 15% 0.135 0.186 0.258 0.475 0.289 0.733 0.938 8.2 4.29 1.6
Hopper Norris S 30 7% 0% 14% 0.240 0.240 0.321 0.240 0.000 0.561 0.730 2.6 3.29 -0.1
Valentin Javier 25 8% 20% 11% 0.278 0.217 0.280 0.261 0.044 0.541 0.559 1.7 2.41 -0.7
Hatteberg Scott 33 21% 9% 22% 0.174 0.160 0.333 0.200 0.040 0.533 0.833 2.1 2.50 -0.8
Freel Ryan 32 3% 13% 25% 0.296 0.267 0.281 0.300 0.033 0.581 0.659 1.9 2.22 -1.1
Castro Juan 11 9% 0% 10% 0.000 0.000 0.091 0.000 0.000 0.091 0.647 -0.7 -1.72 -2.0
Remarks: PrOPS estimates OPS based on batted ball data, and deviations between the two are often due to "luck." LWTS_RC are estimated runs created based on linear weights. RAR is runs above replacement player, without a position adjustment (that is done with the fielding data). All runs estimates are park-adjusted.

The Reds' linear weights total is now 82 runs, which tops the actual runs scored (77) by five runs.....Keppinger takes the lead with continued fine hitting.....Patterson's extreme slump this past week took him from 4.5 RAR to just 1.6 RAR...PrOPS still thinks Patterson has been hitting well, fwiw.....Encarnacion's surge this week pulled him all the way to second place on the team in offensive value.....Votto showed similar improvement, but has he really still not walked yet this year? (edit: I see that he finally drew a walk tonight!).....Phillips had a rough week at the plate.....Dunn might be starting to show signs of life, with a nice uptick in his LD% and the highest PrOPS on the team...

Total Player Value (Hitting + Fielding)
Last First Pos RAR Fielding PosAdj TtlValue
Bako Paul C 4.3 2.3 0.9 7.5
Votto Joey D 1B 2.5 5.3 -0.6 7.2
Keppinger Jeff S SS 5.8 0.1 0.5 6.4
Dunn Adam LF 3.9 0.5 -0.6 3.8
Patterson Corey CF 1.6 1.1 0.3 3.1
Phillips Brandon 2B 1.7 0.1 0.1 1.9
Encarnacion Edwin 3B 5.0 -3.5 0.1 1.6
Castro Juan SS -2.0 3.1 0.1 1.2
Griffey Jr. Ken RF 2.2 -0.6 -0.6 1.0
Hatteberg Scott 1B -0.8 1.0 -0.3 -0.1
Hopper Norris S LF -0.1 0.0 0.0 -0.2
Freel Ryan LF -1.1 0.5 0.0 -0.6
Valentin Javier C -0.7 -1.1 0.3 -1.5
Remarks: RAR is the same as above, and is park-adjusted. Fielding is the average runs saved estimate between ZR and RZR. Position adjustments are adjustments of the run value of a player's positions, pro-rated for playing time. Total value is just the sum of all of these numbers, and is an estimate of total run value above a replacement player.

Fielding totals have the Reds as a team ~9 runs above average, which corroborates with a few other metrics I've seen--surprising.....Paul Bako continues to lead a charmed life, with great performances behind the plate and in the field...and to think that I've not yet given him a proper profile.....I still think Votto's fielding rating has to be a bit high, but RZR is loving him so far thanks to his 8 OOZ plays.....Encarnacion's value continues to be badly hindered by his fielding, as it always is.....Valentin has been brutal thus far.....Griffey has to hit to have any value, and thus far he really hasn't.....Believe it or not, the fielding metrics indicate that Castro did enough good in his short amount of playing time to provide value above replacement player, despite going 0/10 prior to being DFA'd today....

Harang Aaron 35.0 7.5 1.8 1.3 13% 37% 0.216 2.83 3.69 0.637 12.7 3.27 10.3 6.6
Cueto Johnny 26.3 9.9 1.0 1.7 17% 39% 0.180 3.42 3.44 0.587 8.5 2.90 8.8 5.7
Volquez Edinson 15.3 9.4 5.3 0.0 0% 51% 0.308 1.17 2.71 0.573 4.2 2.49 5.8 4.5
Cordero Francisco 8.0 10.1 6.8 0.0 0% 29% 0.176 1.13 3.04 0.418 1.1 1.26 4.8 1.7
Lincoln Mike 8.7 7.2 1.0 0.0 0% 54% 0.259 3.12 1.78 0.487 1.7 1.73 3.1 2.6
Mercker Kent 5.7 4.7 3.2 1.6 19% 38% 0.133 3.18 5.13 0.606 1.9 3.00 1.2 -0.4
Affeldt Jeremy 6.7 13.4 4.0 1.3 32% 71% 0.286 2.70 3.18 0.661 2.7 3.68 0.9 0.9
Burton Jared 10.7 15.1 2.5 1.7 19% 56% 0.348 4.22 2.75 0.702 5.2 4.35 0.7 2.0
Coffey Todd 12.3 3.7 2.2 2.2 28% 55% 0.279 5.84 5.87 0.864 7.9 5.79 -1.2 -2.0
Weathers David 7.3 1.2 9.9 0.0 0% 29% 0.300 4.91 6.05 0.817 5.9 7.23 -1.9 -1.3
Arroyo Bronson 21.3 7.6 3.4 2.5 25% 39% 0.313 5.48 5.84 0.954 17.1 7.20 -3.0 -1.1
Fogg Josh 11.0 7.4 4.1 3.3 25% 39% 0.324 13.09 7.10 1.116 11.8 9.69 -4.6 -2.1
Remarks: BsR are base runs for a given pitcher, based on hitting events (not earned runs). RAR is base runs above replacement player, using a different standard for starters and relievers. Relievers with saves get a leverage-index boost in their RAR value. FIPRAR is a DIPS-based estimate of runs above replacement, using Tom Tango's Fielding Independent Runs as the runs estimator.

Overall, the Reds pitchers' base runs total is 81, five shy of their actual total--so by linear weights (82 runs scored) and base runs (81 runs allowed), they're a 0.500 team.....Not much change at the top--Harang, Cueto, Volquez, and Cordero continue to be the standouts.....Jared Burton's FIP is light years better than his ERA--check out the strikeout rate & GB%.....One has to think that the absurdly-high home run rates of Affeldt, Coffey, and especially Arroyo will stabilize at some point...but then again, Coffey did that all last year.....Weathers finally got himself a strikeout, but one has to wonder how he'll be when he returns from the DL.....Fogg justifiably pitched his way out of the rotation, but he might be adequate as a long man...

Thanks to the Hardball Times, who supplied most of the statistics used above. ZR data came from