Table of Contents

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Razzball preview

I contributed to a Reds team preview for RazzBall a few weeks back, and today they were posted. Here's an excerpt:

1) Jay Bruce. How excited are you about him for 2009? What are you expecting? Feel free to use exclamation points and run-on sentences.

….You know, I’m probably not the best person to ask this. The reason is that, somehow, I’ve never been quite as excited about Bruce as everyone else. The guy clearly has amazing talent, with great ability to hit the ball often, hard, and far. He’s also a solid defensive outfielder with a plus arm. He’s got a great personality, and even has this cool punch thing he does with his left arm to adjust his shirt sleeve when he’s waiting for a pitch. He’s a superstar in the making. But he also is a fairly impatient hitter, walking only marginally more often than Brandon Phillips last year and not a whole lot more in the minors. And he strikes out a lot, mostly because there are times when he’s just up their hacking away at anything. I think he absolutely has an opportunity to be spectacular, and maybe even will do it this year. But it’s also the case that his lack of patience and tendency to strike out (~25% of PA’s in the minors) may make it hard for him to employ all of his talents against major league pitching. Maybe I’m just letting my pessimism about the Reds invade my evaluations of Bruce, though. I sure hope he mashes this year.

Thanks to Grey for the invite.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Reds 0.500 this season?

The last time the Reds got to the 0.500 mark was Junior's first year in 2000, when they went 85-77 and finished second to the Cardinals. What has followed has been miserable. But despite my increasing pessimism, there's some objective reason to think that this year might be different.

First, I got my copy of the THT season preview yesterday (you can buy it here!), which provided the following team projection for the Reds (not sure on methods, but I'd expect that it's based on individual projections + playing time estimates + PythagenPat):
2009 Reds Projections
Record: 80-82
Division Rank/Games Behind: 4th, 9 games back
Runs Scored: 726, 11th in the league
Runs allowed: 735, 5th in the league
Park Factor: 1.02, a slight hitter's park.
As we'd expect, the offense looks to be terrible. But we have quality pitching the Reds' staff at this point in time, and the fielding is clearly better. That's what's carrying the team in this projection.

Ok, that's one projection system. But today, Rally released his CHONE projections for the NL Central (quote includes his commentary):
Cubs 88-74
Cards 83-79
Reds 82-80
Brewers 81-81
Pirates 73-89
Astros 72-90

The big surprise to me is the Reds. I wouldn't have guessed they'd be over .500 but they do have a very talented starting rotation. Arroyo and Harang had off years in 2008, and Cueto has a lot of promise. A strong defense is just what these pitchers need to make improvement more likely.
Again, it's the pitching and defense. Rally's team projections are based on his player projections, plus playing time estimates, and he then uses the 2009 schedule to "play" those projected teams (rather than just using PythagenPat) and establish the records.

I (and others) have talked for a long time about the importance of fielding in a team's success and how that relates to the Reds' struggles. But given how bad the offense has gotten, I'm not sure that I've really been believing that the defense can make up for it, which is a big part of my pessimism. Maybe I should be more optimistic--that's what these projections are telling us.

A 0.500 team isn't great. But given how long it's been since the Reds were even just "average," I'm actually feeling a little bit of optimism about this season for the first time. Key words there are "a little bit," and heck, it is spring...but it sure would be nice to root for a team that would win at least as often as it loses. Baby steps.

P.S. Happy Birthday to Mrs. Inaz (or is that Inpa?)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Spring Training 2009

Happy Pitchers & Catchers Day!

Like last season, I've contributed to a spring training website, Spring Training '09. They have rosters, ticket information, news, photos, and articles on what to expect from each team this season. I wrote the piece on the Reds. Here's an excerpt:
Despite prognostications about Dusty Baker's proclivity to favor veterans over youngsters, I saw little evidence of this last season. Votto quickly earned his starting job (despite not owning it as he should have at the start of the season), Edwin Encarnacion never was threatened with playing time, and once Jay Bruce arrived mid-summer he was always a starter despite struggling badly at times. If a kid has talent, my experience is that Dusty will let him play. For that reason, I think that Homer Bailey may actually have a shot at the rotation despite how badly he's struggled and despite the experienced and still young Micah Owings seemingly having the advantage.

Dickerson may be the one exception, however, because his talent probably isn't all that remarkable. And so pitting him against players like Jerry Hairston or Jonny Gomes might mean that Dickerson could come out of the dust as a bench player. That might be his best use to a lot of clubs, but I'd like to see what he can do in at least a platoon role this year. At the minimum, he'll provide plus defense in a corner slot, walk at a good clip, and show a little bit of power. Whether he strikes out 200 times is another question...
Thanks to Brian Ward for once again inviting me to come on board with his project.

Monday, February 09, 2009

How much are intangibles worth?

Neat post by Tango:

...Cliff Floyd is all about heart, determination, and grit.

[He] is forecast to be a league average hitter. And a league average hitter who cannot (or is not expected to) play the field is the very definition of a replacement-level player. Indeed, the GM of the Padres agrees with this assessment, as his stated role is also the very definition of replacement-level player. That replacement-level player, with ordinary heart and determination, will cost you 400,000$. Cliff Floyd however is going to cost 750,000$.

When people say that you can’t measure the intangibles, remind them that those intangibles are being paid for with tangible dollars. And the value of those intangibles, as determined by MLB, is $350,000. If it was worth more, then some team would have paid more. They didn’t.
So, veteran leadership and a strong clubhouse presence are worth just less than 1/10th of a win per season. I believe that. I also believe that it matters. Overrated by the media and overhyped? Sure. But I have no problem with giving someone a $350k bonus for this sort of value.

Monday, February 02, 2009

A trend


I moved to Phoenix to attend grad school in 2001, and that fall the Diamondbacks won their first world series title when Luis Gonzalez blooped a single to center off of Mariano Rivera to score Jay Bell.

I moved to Altoona for work in 2008, and that winter the Steelers won the Superbowl when Roethlisberger somehow found Santonio Holmes four times in the last 2 1/2 minutes to erase the Cardinals' new 23-20 lead.

There are 30 MLB teams, which means that, all things being equal, the chances of a given team winning in a particular year is ~3%. There are 32 NFL teams, which means that the chances of a given team winning in a particular year is also ~3%.

Therefore, the probabiliy that the Diamondbacks would win during my first year in Phoenix and that the Steelers would win my first year in PA is 3% * 3% = 0.1%.

Just sayin'.

If you're interested in having your own home town team win it all, I'm currently accepting relocation proposals. :)