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Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Players crying foul?

NEW YORK (AP) -- Baseball's salary spiral has slowed, and concerned players may be crying foul.

The average at the end of the 2003 season was $2,372,189, the players' association said Tuesday in its annual study obtained by The Associated Press.


While the amount was a record, it was just 3.3 percent above last year's average of $2,295,649. The last rise that low was in 1996, when the average increased by just 0.8 percent in the aftermath of the 1994-95 strike.

The players' association has spent more than a year investigating whether there has been collusion among teams in their dealing with free agents, and a top union lawyer sent a memo to agents Dec. 8 asking for assistance.

The union hasn't decided whether to file a collusion grievance over actions following the 2002 season and is looking closely at the current market.

''We have shared with you our serious concerns about the clubs' conduct in last year's market,'' Michael Weiner, the union's No. 3 official, wrote in the memo. ''Already, this signing season, we have received several reports of troubling conduct by club officials.''


The union assigned three lawyers to communicate with the agents representing free-agent players.

The existence of the memo was reported Tuesday by ESPN.com, and a copy was obtained by the AP.

A year ago, the union asked agents to keep detailed records of negotiations, and on Jan. 23 it filed a request for management documents.

''They met with us,'' Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, said Tuesday. ''Absent their coming forward with some demonstrable evidence, we were of the sincere belief that there has been and will be no violation of the collective bargaining agreement.''

Baseball's labor contract prohibits teams from acting in concert with regard to free agents. Arbitrators found the teams violated that provision following the 1985, 1986 and 1987 seasons, and the sides settled the cases for $280 million.

Since 1990, the collective bargaining agreement has contained a provision for triple damages.

''It continues to be disappointing that the union fails to recognize a robust market when it sees one,'' DuPuy said. ''There is absolutely no evidence or suggestion that there has been any improper communication among clubs.''

As for 2003, the New York Yankees had the highest average salary for the fifth straight season, finishing at $4,687,002.

Los Angeles was next at $4.2 million, followed by Boston ($3.6 million), Atlanta ($3.5 million), Seattle ($3.4 million), the New York Mets and San Francisco ($3.1 million each) and the Chicago Cubs ($3 million).

Florida, which beat the Yankees in the World Series, was 19th at $1.9 million, up from 24th in 2002.

Tampa Bay was last for the second straight season at $776,775, the lowest in the major leagues since the 2000 Minnesota Twins finished at $601,680.

Final management calculations, which are slightly different, are not yet available.

First basemen were the highest-paid players at an average of $5.2 million, followed by outfielders ($4.9 million), shortstops ($4.2 million), designated hitters ($4 million), catchers ($3.7 million), starting pitchers ($3.3 million), second basemen ($2.7 million), third basemen ($2.6 million) and relief pitchers ($1.6 million).


Comments:

*I see nothing illegal or immoral at this point that would indicate any inside dealings between the inner-workings of MLB teams that would indicate collusion. 3.3% is a substantial increase that is very similar to the other major sports, which unlike MLB has a strict salary cap. I applaud teams for using financial wisdom rather an open check-book, looking at long-term projections rather than short-term "treats" which cause team to go into a downward spiral like Baltimore has been in for the past 5 years. Teams showing greater financial awareness is a positive sign that the game will improve, it will allow smaller market teams to maybe keep a Jose Vidro or a Brian Giles. I would like to say thank you to the teams of MLB who are re-thinking their way as how to use intelligence when building a team.*

*One more note, why is 1B the most expensive position in MLB? Are there not enough medicore DH types like Fullmer/Stairs floating around to balance the contracts of Giambi/Thome/Delgado/Helton/etc., to where a team can allocate money towards typical greater needs like SS, C, 3B? I assume this will be the next trend, where pure offensive players at purely offensive positions like the corner OFs/1B will be paid less and there will be greater emphasis on spending more on positions where offense is hard to come by.*



Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Improvements, Improvements, and more Improvements.

This is a little look into the improvements an already good staff has made by both addition and subtraction. Using RAA by Baseball Prospectus and the player's 2003 numbers.

2003 Numbers (RAA):
Prior +35
Wood +27
Zambrano +18
Clement +2
Estes -36

Total: +46

Borowski +14
Farnsworth +5
Remlinger +5
Guthrie +7
Alfonseca -7

Total: +24

Last Year: 70 runs above avg.

Current Situation:

Prior +35
Wood +27
Zambrano +18
Clement +2

Total: 82 runs above avg.

Hawkins +23
Borowski +14
Farnsworth +5
Remlinger +5
Mercker +4

51 runs above avg.

Total: 133 runs above avg.

Assuming the #5 starter/6th reliever produce at an average rate, the '04 pitcher staff will be 63 RAA better than last year. This will more than likely outweigh the impact that Lee, Walker, Barrett, Patterson (for a full season), and Ramirez for a full season.





Monday, December 22, 2003

Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald has been kind enough to answer a handful of questions that I and a few others have posed to him. I would like to thank Mr. Miles for taking the time to answer these questions as well as those who submitted questions.

Q: Were you to guess, what would be your odds that *any* of our current starters would get traded or replaced this offseason? (Alex, Cruz, Clement, Alou...)

[Bruce]The Cubs had sought to trade Damian Miller from the beginning of the off-season. They were moderately to very happy with his defense and somewhat disappointed in his offense in 2003. They feel they have an upgrade in Barrett, who suffered through a down season with Montreal. Injuries played a key part in that. It's highly doubtful other starters will be traded. Alou and Gonzalez have contracts that are prohibitive. I've heard talk that if the Cubs were to sign Greg Maddux, they'd trade Clement. I don't see one following the other. They'd likely keep both.

Q: Any insights into how the Cubs think about Clement? Any chance they'll shop him at all? Any chance that they'll extend him this winter? To a fan, seems like if you don't extend him now, odds are modest that you will next winter either. Either he won't do well, in which case you won't want him back. Or he will, in which case he'll be too expensive to retain. Any chance the Cubs would like to transact him now into some value that will last more than the season?

[Bruce]The Cubs had wanted to extend Clement by two or three years, with the first year being of lesser value than the $6 million his option called for. An extension is still certainly possible, but with the depth of pitching in the system, the Cubs won't rush into it. Even if they lose Clement to free agency next winter, they feel they have enough to cover such a loss.


Q: Given the team as it stands, what does would you envision the order of the lineup and rotation?

[Bruce]As it stands today, I'd see the lineup as Grudzielanek, Patterson, Sosa, Alou, Lee, Ramirez, Gonzalez, Barrett and the pitcher. It's possible the Cubs might try something creative _ such as Alou or Lee hitting second _ but that's purely my own speculation. The rotation, as I see it, is Wood, Prior, Clement, Zambrano and Cruz. That would change if the Cubs could get Greg Maddux at a cut rate in January.


Q: Have the Cubs given any indication or anything that can be implied that they are specifically targeting players with higher on-base percentages?

[Bruce]No, the Cubs rarely cite any one individual statistical category when targeting players. They look at on-base percentage, but they factor in a number of other variables, as well. These include "intangibles" such as attitude and leadership. They also look at versatility.


Q: Do you think the Lee/Choi trade was an appropriate move in the context of matching the Cubs' needs to their resources?

[Bruce]The Lee-Choi trade effectively came out of nowhere. My own feeling is that they may be paying a higher price at first base than they might need to be paying, given their budget, but they felt Lee's potential to produce at Wrigley Field would be worth the risk.

Q: Hendry seems inclined to hold back over the Winter in favor of making mid-season moves next year. Would you agree that's part of his plan?

[Bruce]Not necessarily. People seem to be looking for the one big "splash" move and then characterize a GM's off-season activity by that splash move. Hendry has been quite active this winter, re-signing Grudzielanek and Goodwin, trading for Lee, trading for Barrett and signing Hawkins, Hollandsworth and Mercker. If the Cubs are in contention next summer, as I suspect they will be, he won't hesitate to make a move or moves then.


Q: While it appears they have found a situational lefty for the 5th spot in the pen, are the Cubs likely to give the 6th spot in the pen to one of the younger pitchers (Sanchez, Wellemeyer, Mitre)?

[Bruce]Its looks as if Sanchez, Wellemeyer and Mitre will get every opportunity to compete for the final bullpen spot. So will Jon Leicester. Non-roster men Jamey Wright and Gary Glover also will get look-sees.

Q: In your opinion, next off-season will the Cubs likely pick-up the '05 option for Moises Alou, given the shift in the market and the potential development of Jason Dubois and David Kelton?

[Bruce]I doubt very much the Cubs will exercise Alou's option for 2005. The development of Kelton and Dubois will figure into the equation. Remember, also, that past 2004, the Cubs have very few long-term obligations outstanding. They should be well positioned financially to fill several needs from the outside, if they so choose.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Contributing Top 30 list.

Since I will be going out of town and unable to update the Blog for approx. 6-7 days, a friend of mine has been gracious enough to give me his Top 30 list as a nice comparison to my ongoing rankings.

Top 30:

#30 Rich Hill (LHP)

#29 Ronald (Bear) Bay (RHP)

#28 Luis Montanez (2B/SS)

#27 Mike Nannini (RHP)

#26 Buck Coats (SS)

#25 Jason Wylie (RHP)

#24 Billy Petrick (RHP)

#23 Carmen Pigantiello (LHP)

#22 Matt Craig (3B)

#21 Reynel Pinto (LHP)

#20 Jon Leicester (RHP)

#19 Sergio Mitre (RHP)

#18 Brian Dopirak (1B)

#17 Felix Sanchez (LHP)

#16 Francis Beltran (RHP)

#15 Jason Dubois (OF)

#14 Ricky Nolasco (RHP)

#13 Luke Hagerty (LHP)

#12 Nic Jackson (OF)

#11 Todd Wellemeyer (RHP)

#10 David Kelton (OF)

#9 Jae Kuk Ryu (RHP)

#8 Ryan Harvey (OF)

#7 Brendan Harris (3B)

#6 Chadd Blasko (RHP)

#5 Bobby Brownlie (RHP)

#4 Andy Sisco (LHP)

#3 Justin Jones (LHP)

#2 Felix Pie (OF)

#1 Angel Guzman (RHP)

An Interview with David Pinto.

David Pinto is the author at Baseball Musings and had spent the last 10 years as the lead reseacher for Baseball Tonight at ESPN, and hosted Baseball Tonight Online at ESPN.com last year. I would like to thank David for taking the time to answer these 10 questions and I hope you take the time to view his outstanding site.

1)When a team has a significant jump in wins or losses (20+), if the roster and rate of injuries are very similar, in your opinion, will the random team likely continue the trend or divert from it?

[David Pinto] That depends on which was the random event. It's quite possible that the +20/-20 is the team returning to its normal performance, in which case, yes, it's likely to continue.

I believe in regression to the mean; that in general, over time, teams, players coaches return to a normal level unless constant adjustments are made.

2)Given OBP, Slg., BB/PA, HR/H, Contact Ratio, SB/(1B+BB), K/PA. In the order of importance, list the 3 attributes you look for in each spot of the batting order (leadoff, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7-9)?

[David Pinto] OBP is the most important stat for any slot in the lineup. OBP acts like a compound interest rate in terms of runs; each increase in OBP theoretically leads to an even larger increase in runs. So it's always worth it to get that extra .001 in OBP. For the top two slots, I'd have to pick BB/PA 2nd. People who draw a lot of walks tend to work the count, and wearing out starters early is important. I'm not fond of SB/(1B+BB), but if you had SB%, I'd probably take that as third.

For heart of the order (3-4-5-6), slugging would be the next most important stat for me, followed by HR/H (although they really measure the same thing). Basically, you don't want to waste power at the top of the lineup. You want those players to get on base so your power hitters can drive them in with long hits. 7-9 Probably the same. Try to get on base for the next guy, or try to get a long hit to drive someone in.

3)I've been asked this several times and I usually divert the question, but what do you think is the best way to get into Baseball (administrative/executive/broadcasting) via the Majors, Minors, or Indy Leagues?

[David Pinto] Actually, looking where GM's are coming from these days, the Ivy League may be your best bet. I really don't know enough to give you a good answer to this question.

4)In your opinion, did Moneyball by Michael Lewis help or hurt sabermetrics as far as giving it a false definition to those who were unfamiliar with them before they read the book?

[David Pinto] I think it helped. I don't think it gave a false definition, it may have given a misleading focus. But I'm sure more people know what Sabermetrics are than they did before, and that's a good thing.

It did seem to reinforce the idea that sabermetricians don't like SB. What we don't like is CS.

5)List your favorite hitting, pitching and defensive stat (either team or individual)?

[David Pinto] Hitting wise for teams it's runs per game. That's what we are really trying to measure. Things like OBP and Slugging just tell us how the runs were scored. For players, however, we can't get directly at a player's run contribution, but we can measure their OBP and Slugging directly, so I like those two stats for a hitter. For pitchers, ERA is my favorite stat. It measures runs directly, which again is what we need to know. After that K/9, which seems to tell you a lot about a pitcher's ability.

For defense, defensive efficiency gives you the best snap shot of a team. I'll throw out range factor for players, but with the caveat that range is still ill defined.

6)I recently did a study of the top 150 (20%) players in MLB in 2003, the study concluded that roughly 60% of them were from drafted out of College. I was wondering, what alterations would you make when drafting a player out of college compared to drafting a player out of High School?

[David Pinto] The studies I've seen make it pretty clear that you shouldn't draft pitchers out of high school. So if you have to take a high schooler, take a hitter. College players spend less time in the minors, so all-in-all development costs should be lower for college players.

7)There has been much debate on Voros McCracken's Defense Independent Pitching Stats (DIPS), how do you value his extensive research, do you feel that pitchers can dictate balls that are put into play (BAPIP)?

[David Pinto] I think his research was very important. If nothing else, it shows that the effect of pitchers on balls put into play in most cases is small. In the case of Win Shares, it's led to a whole new way of evaluating defense. Certainly pitchers try to dictate where the ball gets put into play; that's why players move if a pitch is going to be inside or outside. But there is a lot of randomness in a ball coming off a bat. So the better your fielders are at covering the area where a ball is likely to travel, the more outs you (as a pitcher) are going to get.

8)How much value do you add or subtract to a particular positional player if they are or are not associated with clutch hitting?

[David Pinto] I don't believe in clutch hitting. Good hitters are clutch hitters. If you look at a long enough time period, the best hitters will have the best averages in "clutch" situations. So I don't make an adjustment.

9)While on subjective values, how much does a catcher's ability to call a game impact his overall value?

[David Pinto] I don't know how many catchers call a game these days. A lot are called from the dugout. But catcher still need to make adjustments. It's said that Yogi Berra would watch for subtle changes in the position of the feet of hitters and call pitches accordingly. Someone like that is extremely valuable.

10)Final question, how do envision MLB 10 years from now from a structural standpoint (payroll, executive/MLBPA relations, contraction) and more importantly how do see the League from a societal frame of mind? Will MLB reverse the decreasing numbers in urban environments and younger fans in general?

[David Pinto] What I want or what I think will happen? What I'd like to see is a partnership between the owners and the players. I'd like to see the players have a role in choosing the commissioner (and pay some of his salary). I'd like to see both sides working to enrich the game and each other.

As attendance grows, there will be higher salaries. The one thing that's true about baseball is it's universal appeal. Other sports may take over from time to time as the major sport in the country, but after a while you realize that all those games are the same. Baseball is always different. In baseball, the 25th man can be the hero. I'm not a big guy, but people smaller than me are everyday baseball players. Except for place kickers in football, that's not really true in other sports. If baseball can ever settle the animosity between owners and players, I believe you will see great growth in the fans of the game.

Once again, thanks to David for contributing in this interview.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Talking Baseball!




Tonight on ESPN 1000 they hosted a 2 hour long show on baseball for each side of town. I will list the general notes from Bruce Levine and an interview with Dusty Baker. I've never been a fan of Levine, but I find his opinions interesting nonetheless.

Levine:
Winter Meetings next week might not be as active as far as trades are concerned b/c of the 250 Free Agents and the wait for the key Dec. 20 as far as arbitration is concerned.

The Cubs payroll will likely be between 85-90mil

Mentioned that the defense doesn't have to be as good as other teams due to the high strikeout ratios.

It is still too early to judge the overall off-season moves or lack thereof.

Levine mentioned Pudge would be the right fit, he would not be surprised if the Cubs offered him a contract next and would not be surprised if he accepted it. Much depends on the moves of Balt. w/Lopez and Anaheim w/Vlad. He has no sources as far as the Cubs offering a contract. Mentioned Kendall salary as the main stumbling block, did not mention Pitt. absorbing a % of his contract.

Cubs still need a leadoff hitter, mentioned the impact Lofton had after the trade.

Said the Cubs will likely add a LH bat and that Simon will likely not be back via non-tendered on 12/20 or a trade if possible.

Said the 5th will likely be Juan's to lose, said Guzman might not be ready to compete for the 5th spot.

Said that Hendry is that concerned as far as adding a LH to line-up if the RH hitters are productive.

Denies the Cubs made an offer to Foulke.

Mentioned SD as the likely destination for Maddux, would not doubt if the Cubs made an offer of 5-6per, IF they had some leftover payroll. Mentioned Maddux intelligence as a positive for the rest of the staff and would be a great 5th starter.

Vidro trade highly unlikely as he doutbs the Cubs could allocate the 9mil salary of him, mentioned Todd Walker as a possibility despite the signing of Grudzielanek and have Mark shift to a utility role, mentioned Walker as a possible leadoff guy that would hit well at Wrigley.

Cubs did not want to commit the money per or the years to Thome, mentioned how Lee basically fell into their laps after he could not come to an agreement w/Balt. Mentioned how Lee will probably have 5-6 very good seasons with the Cubs.

Hendry offered a huge package to Minn for AJ Pierzynski that included Cruz, Wellemeyer, and another pitching prospect Minn. liked. SF just made an offer that appealed to Minnesota more than the Cubs.

Comments: No major surprises, I find the interest in Pudge somewhat surprising, I think it be an ideal situation if Balt. signs Javy Lopez and Anaheim commits to Vlad, that would likely leave Hendry a perfect situation to sneak in and make a splash w/Pudge.

Baker:

Exciting 1st year, it is just the start of things to come, success is measure by the ability to do it back to back to back to get to the point they want to be at.

Feels like a Chicago Cub, no more indirect affiliation with the Giants any more.

Didn't expect the success he had the 1st year, the 1st is always the toughest.

Dusty see the Cubs moving forward, trying to keep the core together and improving upon that.

Likes the pro-active approach of Hendry, mentioned that Hendry keeps in consistent contact with him during the off-season.

Says MLB like the NFL is shifting to a "win now" atmosphere.

Mentioned that Pudge has plenty left to offer, teams will likely chance with his health, one of the best Cs of all-time, depends on the budget and other needs as far as the Cubs are concerned.

Lee and Hawkins, younger players (for a veteran lover) with plenty left to give with still room to improve, great acquisitions that have been on winning teams, mentioned Hawkins as a premiere set-up guy, Farnsworth did a great job last year and Hawkins gives them great options.

Comments: Typical Bruce, good to see the relationship between Hendry and Baker going strong, despite the rumors of conflict. Talk about polar opposites, Hendry as the hyperactive GM and Baker as laid back as any manager in the game.

Keith Foulke, RHP



"Dec. 8 -- The Red Sox are still awaiting word from the free agent closer, whom they recently offered a three-year contract. The Oakland Tribune reports that Foulke is expected to choose between the A's, Red Sox and Cubs within the next 48 hours, but other reports have said that Foulke has asked for more time before making a decision, which could delay his signing until the Winter Meetings. Foulke was offered arbitration by the Athletics before Sunday night's deadline, which means he can negotiate with them until Jan. 8."

Talk about trying to corner a market, are the Cubs looking to obtain every solid RH reliever avail?

The current state of the bullpen.
Hawkins 248 ERA+
Borowski 161 ERA+
Farnsworth 129 ERA+
Remlinger 116 ERA+

Foulke 205 ERA+

Like last year, Hendry has made the bullpen a priority and has done so by adding Hawkins, who was one of the best avail. Now, Borowski was well above avg. at 161, Farnsworth was above avg. as was Remlinger, at what point does a team say the improvement are less than the payroll that could be used on other areas.

Foulke is my fav. reliever in baseball, his '04 ZiPS projections are outstanding at...

Keith Foulke cl 31yo 2.96ERA 7-3 70G 79.0IP 64H 28R 26ER 18BB 76K 7HR

But, the Cubs are at the point where the bullpen is going to be improved from Hawkins and his likley 77IP replacing Alfonseca's 66IP of last year.

I think Francis Beltran can be more than adequate to replace Veres, I know there will be control issues as the 6th guy out of the pen, I hope the workload can be enough to help him progress with his control without sacrificing wins in the process. If not Foulke, I have been advocating Brad Clontz as a side-arm RH, who gives low amount of HRs (despite pitching in Colorado Springs last year) and has been very productive against RHs and is a 6yr minor league FA, who can signed without compensation. Another 6yr minor league FA I like is Josue Matos out of Seattle's organization, who starred at AA, but has great stuff and can dominate RH hitters.

Here are Beltran's '04 ZiPS projections...

Francis Beltran CHN mr 24 3.80ERA 3-4 34g 45.0IP 41H 20R 19ER 19BB 33K 2HR

That leaves the 5th spot of the rotation which should be designated for a LOOGY capable of retiring LHs, Sauerbeck and Rincon are possibilities if the Cubs are willing to sacrifice a prospect or a draft pick to get them. Gabe White is another possibility. The Cubs basically used 5 relievers last year w/Veres and Welly/Cruz used very seldom, I expect a similar trend except that instead of 3 productive relievers there will be at least 5, which is a dramatic improvement even w/out Foulke.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Show me why?



I'm missing the fascination with Maddux possibly returning to the Cubs, when did sentimental values replace the value of creating the best team under a budget?

Greg Maddux has been a great pitcher, a certain HOF inductee after he retires, the only problem is that he has been a great pitcher and currently is not one. I doubt he will be worth what he will command in the FA market, there are better options out there, who were more productive last year, and likely to command less. One name that comes to mind is Miguel Batista, but why spend the amount of money that will likely be needed to lock Batista and especially Maddux, with Boras as his agent when there are much cheaper options within the system.

Maddux will be 38 in April, there has a incline in H/9, HR/9, and a decline in his K/9 the past 3 years. He allowed 24HRs in a pitcher friendly home park and NL East. He has admitted to not being the pitcher he once was and given these circumstances with the Cubs having greater needs, it becomes an issue as to why the Cubs would show interest in him, beyond mutual respect. His ERA+ had become average last year and is not likely to improve beyond the avg. status of '03.

The Cubs still have greater needs at SS, C, LH reliever, and the bench, they should be willing to give Cruz a chance as #5, given the financial advantages as well as his talents, Cruz should become the fav. to lock down that final spot.

Maddux deserves respect, he has been one of the greatest pitchers of the past 30 years, he will become an outsanding instructor if he decides to go that route. It is simply a sound business move to realize it would be poor judgment to allocate the necessary resources likely needed to sign him given the most important issues that haven't been addressed.


Saturday, December 06, 2003

A detailed review of the possible FA 2B.

In this study, I will look at 4 possible candidates at 2B that are likely being considered or have been considered for the spot next year. Those 4 players are Mark Grudzielanek, Adam Kennedy, Todd Walker, and everyone's favorite Fernando Vina.

I will use 9 different stats from 2002 and 2003 years to compare them by using a point system, those 9 are:

OPS+
Rate (defense)
OBP
BB/AB
BB/K
SB per 162 games
SB%
AB/DP
OPS w/runner in 1B

I will also factor in the players' age and their contractual expectations (amount of money and years prob. needed to sign, avail. of player, demand of player from other teams, and other considerations) which I will call "player factors".

OPS+
Kennedy 107.5 (4)
Walker 97.5 (3)
Grudzielanek 93.5 (2)
Vina 82 (1)

Rate 2 (click for defintion)
Kennedy 112.5 (4)
Grudzielanek 103 (3)
Vina 94.5 (2)
Walker 89 (1)

OBP
Kennedy .3445 (4)
Walker .343 (3)
Grudzielanek .335 (2)
Vina .321 (1)

BB/AB
Walker 12.235 (4)
Kennedy 17.46 (3)
Vina 17.91 (2)
Grudzielanek (1)

BB/K
Vina .839 (4)
Walker .753 (3)
Kennedy .427 (2)
Grudzielanek .358 (1)

SB per 162 Games
Kennedy 22 (4)
Vina 14.5 (3)
Grudzielanek 6 (2)
Walker 4.5 (1)

SB%
Grudzielanek 77.5% (4)
Kennedy 76% (3)
Walker 56% (2)
Vina 55.5% (1)

AB/DP
Kennedy 79.46 (4)
Vina 54.57 (3)
Walker 51.27 (2)
Grudzielanek 35.81 (1)

OPS w/runner on 1B
Walker .872 (4)
Kennedy .838 (3)
Grudzielanek .734 (2)
Vina .603 (1)

Age
Kennedy 26 (4)
Walker 30 (3)
Grudzielanek 33 (2)
Vina 34 (1)

Player factors
Grudzielanek (4)
Vina (3)
Walker (2)
Kennedy (1)

Totals:
Kennedy (37)
Walker (27)
Grudzielanek (24)
Vina (22)

I will quickly the list the pros and cons of each player.

Kennedy

Pros:
Highest OPS+ of the 4
Highest OBP the last two years
Best defensive 2B of the 4
Best Speed of the group
Only 26yo
Lowest DP ratio
Hit well with runners on 1B
Improving BB ratio

Cons:
Still under contract with Anaheim
Likely will seek a multi-year deal
Expensive among the 4
Likely to be in demand by other teams

Walker:

Pros:
Best pure hitter of the group
Most power of the group
FA that would like to come to Chicago
Solid OBP among the 4
Best hitter w/runners on 1B
2nd youngest among the group

Cons:
The worst defensively
The slowest among the group
Looking for a multi-year deal
Likely the most expensive of the group
Demand for several teams

Grudzielanek
Pros:
Possible hometown discount
Familiar environment
.366OBP on '03
Best SB% of the group
Prob. will only get a 2yr deal at most
Cheaper than Walker or Kennedy
Still could be offered arbitration
Not as much demand

Cons:
Was '03 a fluke?
Does not do well as taking BBs
Only RH of the group
Highest DP ratio of the group
Will have to be offered arbitration by Dec. 7th
Slower than most at 2B
Lowest BB/AB of the group

Vina

Pros:
Probably the cheapest of the group
Will prob. sign a 1yr deal
Least demand of the 4
Decent Speed
Best BB/K ratio of the 4
Played for a divisional rival

Cons:
Obviously declining
Old
Worst OBP of the group
Lowest SB%
Lowest OPS+
Lowest OPS w/runners on 1B
Least productive of the 4

Based on this study, if Anaheim was to non-tender Kennedy, he would be my 1st choice to play 2B next year, followed by Walker, Grudzielanek, and Vina (who the Cubs have thankfully seem to be cooling off on).




Friday, December 05, 2003

Let the Kendall rumors begin!


In the an article titled Cubs GM Hendry going shopping in the Dec. 5th issue of the Chicago Sun-Times there is finally a mention of the name that many who worships OBP and a position not typically geared for offense drool over. This is further emphasized by the lack of offensive production that plagued the Cubs from the Catcher position in '03.

In the article, Mike Kiley writes "He already has delved into exploratory talks with the Pittsburgh Pirates about catcher Jason Kendall's burdensome contract", then mentions the stumbling block that is the reason why Kendall is avail. and why he hasn't been traded. Kendall is a very good player and a difficult position to get offensive production, the Cubs haven't had a good offensive season from a C since '93 when Wilkins had one of the most flukish seasons in recent history. Obviously, the Cubs and their supposed payroll are running out of financial flexibility with the recent acquisitions of Lee amd Hawkins, as well impending contract negotiations with what should be "must keep" intention with Kerry Wood.

There is some light at the end of the tunnel, Pitt. is well aware of the poor contract situation and necessity to trade him and will likely be willing to absorb some of the contract and I assume that figure will depend on what is being offered in return. If I'm the Cubs, I do go after Kendall before Vidro (who was also mentioned in the article) b/c of that supposed financial stability of having for the next 4 years, compared to Vidro who will be an UFA. I think the Cubs can get enough FA at 2B from like Grudzielanek, Todd Walker, and A. Kennedy for next year, which I can not say they would get from Miller at this point.

While the spare change jar at 1060 W. Addison, might be running low, the expectations are not, and neither is the desire to improve one of the 2 dormant offensive holes from the last year (C/SS). The addition of Lee will be a dramatic improvement, going from Miller to Kendall would be even more dramatic as the Cubs' offense would likely go from below avg. to above avg. in a little over a couple weeks.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

2003' review of which of the top players were drafted out of High School, College, or International Free Agent.

Intro: In this study, I have figured out the top 20% of Major League players at each position. The total numbers of players is equal to 150 players, here is the positional breakdown:

60 Starting Pitchers
30 Outfielders
10 Catchers
10 1B
10 2B
10 SS
10 3B
10 Relievers

Method: I used 3 different statistics to grade each of the positions; for the starting pitchers I used Wolverton's (SNWAR), for the positional players I used Bill James' Win Shares, and for the relievers I used Wolverton's (ARP).

Study:

Starting Pitchers (60):
25-College
21-High School
14-International

Outfielders (30):
12-High School
10-College
8-International

Catchers (10):
4-High School
4-International
2-College

1B (10):
7-College
2-High School
1-International

2B (10):
7-College
2-International
1-High School

SS (10):
6-International
3-High School
1-College

3B (10):
4-College
4-High School
2-International

Relievers (10):
5-College
4-International
1-High School

Totals (150):
College-61 (41%)
High School-48 (32%)
International-41 (27%)

Conclusion:
The players who played in collegiate programs had the highest number of players in the top 150, they did better as far as pitching, but there was not much of a difference between the % of pitchers and positional players.

The players who were drafted out of high school were pretty consistent throughout, almost 1/3rd of the starting pitchers and 1/3rd of the positional players went directly from HS into pro ball.

Of the International players, it is worth mentioning of the two most demanding positions (C & SS), they were able to become 50% of top players at each position, depsite being outnumbered at every other position.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

The 04' ZiPS pitching projections.

Francis Beltran CHN mr 24yo 3.80ERA 3-4 34G 45.0IP 41H 20R 19ER 19BB 33K 2HR

Comment: That would be an outstanding season from Beltran and indicate that he would be 100% healthy. I don't think Beltran would be that comfortable with ML hitters to where he would have that low of a BB total for him. I also like the low HR totals. I assume Beltran is a cand. for the 6th spot of the pen, if he could produce numbers similar to this, I would be estatic if he was in the bullpen.

Alan Benes CHN sp 32yo 5.11ERA 6-11 29G 22GS 141.0IP 145H 88R
80ER 63BB 94K 19HR

Comment: While it is impossible that Benes would get 140IP with the Cubs, he might still be a use for a team in desperate need of pitching. Benes has some personal meaning for me, having grown up in Lake Forest and being 5 years younger, he was the one player I wanted to be like when I would get to HS. I wish him well, I think the projections are fairly accurate.

Joe Borowski CHN cl 33 3.33ERA 3-3 70G 81.0IP 68H 33R 30ER 23BB 82K 7HR

Comment: Predicting another solid season from Jobo. I'm not too concerned about the rise in ERA as he is a reliever, I do like the projections of low BB total, high Ks, and a decent HR total. I think he can maintain an ERA around 3.00 and keep the same DIPS numbers as last year.

Scott Chiasson CHN mr 26yo 4.57ERA 3-4 56G 61.0IP 59H 34R 31ER 23BB 51K 8HR

Comment: Hard for me to comment on these predictions as I doubt there is anything with a predictive value as far as using a P coming major ar surgery. I wish I could predict that Scott would stay healthy for '04.

Matt Clement CHN sp 29yo 4.13ERA 10-13 32GS 32GS 192.0IP 169H 96ER 88R 82BB 180K 19HR

Comment: Similar numbers as last year, still needs to reduce the BBs and increase the K totals that he had in '02, to get to that same level. It is a contract year for Clement, he still gets with a great amount of talent and should be one of the better #4s around.

Juan Cruz CHN sp 25yo 3.67ERA 6-6 34G 12GS 98.0IP 82H 44R 40ER 40BB 96K 7HR.

Comment: Predicting the breakout of Juan Cruz! Hopefully that occurs with the Cubs & if Cruz can produce those numbers as a #5, the division is likely over and the Cubs would have another very good starter. I want Cruz to get a shot in the rotation, he will likely be more valuable than who they would trade him for.

Kyle Farnsworth CHN cl 28yo 3.42ERA 4-4 70G 71.0IP 53H 29R 27ER 30BB 91Ks 7HR

Comment: It appears that if the prediction is close, Farnsy will have another outstanding season in set-up or coming in the 7th inning. Those are similar numbers as last year and it would be argue his production if he could strikeout more than the baserunners he allows.

Angel Guzman CHN sp 22 4.17ERA 5-6 21G 20GS 123.0IP 120H 62R 57ER 45BB 81K 10HR

Comment: While I expect Angel to start at AAA, I would not be surprised if he could put up those numbers in his 1st major league season if his shoulder is 100%. He has good enough stuff and control to be effective, I just want them to be cautious with him at this point.

Jon Leicester CHN mr 25yo 4.25ERA 3-5 39G 8GS 91.0IP 78H 47R 43ER 46BB 88K 8HR

Comment: I have to admit I am surprised by this, I would like to see Leicester make the improvements at AAA, to make these predictions a little more valid after a season at Iowa.

Sergio Mitre CHN sp 23 4.44ERA 8-6 28G 26GS 156.0IP 176H 84R 77ER 42BB 73K 11HR

Comment: I think will be the type of pitcher that will surrender a higher amount of hits b/c he does avg. stuff, I think his control will allow him to limit the damage. Like most pitchers who haven't been to Iowa, that is a great test before reaching the majors.

Mark Prior CHN sp 23 2.33ERA 17-5 29GS 29GS 197.0IP 144H 56R 51ER 37BB 247K 14HR

Comment: Well, it predicts that the best P in the NL has very good change to become the best in baseball. Shows an improvement in H/9 and just a nasty BB/K ratio and 66 more strikeouts than baserunners allowed.

Mike Remlinger CHN mr 38yo 3.91ERA 4-5 73G 69.0IP 55H 33R 30ER 32BB 80K 7HR

Comment: I like the drop in HRs compared to last year, I think having Farnsy likely replace Remlinger will drop that ERA. Remlinger still needs to lower the BBs to maximize his talents. It also would not hurt using him effectively.

Felix Sanchez CHN mr 22yo 4.57ERA 2-3 33G 8GS 65.0IP 61H 37R 33ER 36BB 52K 6HR

Comment: As a long-shot to become a LOOGY for Baker, it would wise to let Sanchez work at Iowa.

Kerry Wood CHN sp 27yo 3.66ERA 12-11 31GS 31GS 199.0IP 150H 89R 81ER 81BB 254K 20HR

Comment: Similar numbers to last year, I think will be better than the predicition as I think Wood is at the point where there will less BBs than what is mentioned. I'm not concerned with the win total, which has no validity unless they include team factors, which they don't.

Carlos Zambrano CHN sp 23yo 3.77ERA 10-10 33G 28GS 184.0IP 159H 85ER 77R 83BB 157K 8HR

Comment: I'm hoping Carlos can improve his control for next year and keep similar HR totals as last year. Carlos will likely have strikeout totals close to the projections. I think will be fairly accurate, I do think Carlos will do better though, especially with a better defense.

Monday, December 01, 2003

The New '04 ZiPS projections are up!

Hitters:

Moises Alou CHN lf 37yo .264avg .345obp .438slg 516ab 136h 37db 1tr 17hr 64r 74rbi 5hbp 59bb 59k 4sb 1cs

Comment: The decline appears to be increasing with Moises' projection, hopefully he can stay healthy and maintain the large # of XBH. I think he will hit for a slightly higher avg. that what the projection says and would be happy with 81 point difference between his avg. and obp next year, of course if he hits for higher than .264 it becomes more difficult.


Paul Bako CHN c 32yo .222avg .300obp .333slg 198ab 44h 12db 2tr 2hr 19r 17rbi 1hbp 21bb 44K 1sb 1cs

Comment: Appears to be fairly consistent with his career numbers, I don't think there will be flucuation from the previous year. I'd hate to see his '04 projection if he did poorly against Cincy in '03.


Nate Frese CHN ss 26yo .226avg .307obp .323slf 288ab 65H 11DB 1tr 5hr 31r 28rbi 3hbp 31bb 66k 1sb 1cs

Comment: For some reason Nate is included in the projection, I think he produce those types of numbers with above avg. defense. Some team should sign him and hope for the best.


Alex Gonzalez CHN ss 31yo .233avg .300obp .394slg 563ab 131h 33db 2tr 18hr 66r 73rbi 5hbp 49bb 131ks 5sb 7cs

Comment: Predicting a drop in avg. with an increase in BBs and similar power numbers, he is the easiest to predict in MLB because the recent years have been indentical and he is at the stage of his career where it is most likely to repeat year to year. Counting down the days till he is off the Cubs projection.

Nic Jackson CHN cf 24yo .241avg .297obp .365slg 411ab 99h 15bs 3tr 10hr 48r 45rbi 4hbp 29bb 91ks 10sb 7cs

Comment: Obviously even before this prediction, Jackson should repeat AAA after a poor '03 campaign at Iowa. If he improves at Iowa in '04, his '05 projection should jump rapidly.

David Kelton CHN lf 24yo .257avg .335obp .433slg 471ab 121h 20db 3tr 19hr 62r 68rbi 4hbp 51bb 120k 6sb 4cs

Comment: Somewhat of a bold prediction, giving DK similar projections as his actual numbers in a hitter friendly AAA. Also worth nothing, only a .015 difference in OPS compared to Alou/

Derrek Lee CHN 1b 28yo .285avg .394obp .512slg 576ab 164h 36db 4tr 29hr 94r 100rbi 13hbp 91bb 141k 16sb 8cs

Comment: Projects that Lee will get over the .900OPS mark, lower HR total than I expected, but the +.390obp would be a welcomed change.

Damian Miller CHN c 34yo .225avg .325obp .376slg 338ab 76h 24db 0tr 9hr 33r 42rbi 3hbp 47bb 86k 0sb 0cs

Comment: Those numbers would be an improvement over Damien's '03 numbers, I would love for Miller to have alomst half of his hits be XBH, I would love for him to get more hits though. There isn't much diff. between this projection and his career numbers.

Corey Patterson CHN cf 24yo .284avg .319obp .458slg 489ab 139h 22db 6tr 17hr 65r 68rbi 4hbp 21bb 104k 17sb 4cs

Comment: This is the one I have the greatest disagreement with, I can't project a drop in BB/AB and HR/AB for Patterson, he has shown a gradual incline as far as BBs, I hope that Patterson will have more SBs, if he is on 1B 95 times next year. I expect a better season than what is projected for Patterson despite his inability to draw BBs.

Aramis Ramirez CHN 3b 26 .282avg .340obp .478slg 613ab 173h 37db 1tr 27hr 73r 101rbi 12hbp 42bb 100k 3sb 2cs

Comment: Gradually improving his OBP and is avg., similar power numbers as 03', nice amount of XBH, and similar career BB and K totals.

Randall Simon CHN 1b 29yo .293avg .325obp .454slg 423ab 124h 21db 1tr 15hr 45r 64rbi 4hbp 16bb 33k 0sb 1cs

Comment: Amazing what they can project if you swing at everything, I don't see it, I can't imagine him having a slg. % closer to .5 than .4. Hopefully, the Cubs won't find out if he can come close to his projection.

Sammy Sosa CHN rf 35 .278avg .382obp .594slg 532ab 148h 31bb 1tr 45HR 104r 124rbi 5hbp 84bb 143k 0sb 1cs

Comment: It would be great to get this type of season out of Sosa, +80bb (thanks DJ) would be outstanding, espec. with the addition of Lee who should likely hit behind Sosa as well as Alou and Patterson. Hopefully, he can fight off the natural decline that happens on the wrong side of 30, I hope he can remain healthy which would boost his chances of reaching these projections.

Tomorrow, I will list the pitchers...



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