Thursday, March 05, 2009

Manny Being Manny: Good Riddance

A reader commented on another post that he's glad the Manny dance is over, that it was such a distraction, particularly since we weren't even close to signing him.

Well, I wasn't distracted, it was misguided fans who were getting impatient with the rebuilding process who were in love with getting Manny, particularly one fiery on-air sportstalk personality.

Hello, the Giants Are Rebuilding

People need to get it in their heads: the Giants are rebuilding. Rebuilding teams often (and usually) lose a lot, most have at least 4-6 losing years, if not more. Spending $20+M on a player for 2 years don't make much sense when you are rebuilding, particularly for a 37 year old player, particularly since he might not be motivated and carries an attitude to boot, particularly since we are not that close to contending and going for winning the World Series.

Heck, all the arguments people have been giving about the Giants and losing (worse streak in SF, 1974-1977, 4 year skid, plus 1983-1985 and 1994-1996 3 year skids; franchise worse was 4 year skid 1899-1902 plus the SF 4 year period), are probably similar to what Braves fans were saying about GM Bobby Cox after the Brave's 4th year of losing. He didn't even have his Cy Young award yet (though they came soon enough afterward in Glavine and Smoltz) nor did he draft Chipper Jones yet. In fact, he lost (and horribly so, not like what the Giants have been doing, they were epic losing, worse in the majors type of losing, like the Rays recently) for another two years, for a total of 6 whole seasons.

Had they chose to listen to the fans and stop rebuilding after their fourth losing season and/or fire Bobby Cox, and just acquire a bunch of free agents in hopes of returning to competitiveness quickly, they would NOT have had their long stretch of success on the field because Chipper Jones would have been drafted by some other team (he was the #1 pick overall that year, which was the pick they earned for their putrid 5th year of losing), and a major cog of their long success would not have been around.

He has been a major offensive weapon for them. He had the team's best OPS in 8 of the past 13 years, when they went 909-709 during that period, and winning 10 division titles in that period, and the NL twice. Since he joined the Braves, they have won their division 12 times in those 16 seasons, the NL three times, and the World Series. You cannot understate his importance to the Braves offense during those years.

Are You With the Program?

So fans have to decide: do you like how the Giants are developing? If you do, let them do what they feel they need to do to keep developing the team. And if you don't, then what do you have against Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Lowry, Wilson, Romo, Hinshaw, Sadler, Matos, Bumgarner, Alderson, Sosa, Martinez, Pucetas, Barnes, Quirate, English, Pichardo, Casilla, Lewis, Sandoval, Ishikawa, Frandsen, Velez, Burriss, Schierholtz, Bowker, Posey, Villalona, Rodriguez, Noonan, Gillaspie, Kieschnick, Crawford, Guzman, Adrianza, Tanner, Joaquin, Schoop, Fairley, McBryde, Neal, Downs, Downs, Culberson, etc.

Use any analogy you want, where you need to exercise patience or risk ruining things: souffle, cooking in general, raising a child, detailing a car, developing a photograph, getting yourself ready for a marathon, marching downfield for a touchdown...

And that is good one, perhaps, Bill Walsh showed how effective a team can be in scoring by patiently moving downfield and moving the chains every 10-15 yards. Getting a Manny is equivalent of a Hail Mary pass, it could work out spectacularly but you can also ruin a good scoring chance by taking such a risk.

Why risk jeopardizing the rebulding effort? We have a really nice thing going right now, why risk that by spending gobs of money on an aging slugger, with a horrible body type (not like Bonds at all), with horrible LF defense (people critized Bonds' defense, but even in his last season, his UZR/150 was -14.7; from 2005 to 2007, Manny's UZR/150 was -15.5, -24.8, and -27.1, until he inexplicable (other than motivation) improved to a -3.0), and with a horrible attitude and varying motivation? At least with Bonds, you never had to doubt his motivations, he was there to win.

Not Worth the Money: Last Gasp Manny

And, according to Fangraphs, Manny's monetary value in wins for the past 7 seasons was under the $22.5M he will average for this contract if it goes the two years for every season except for 2008, when he went crazy for the D-gers for three months. To put his 2008 season into perspective, his career BABIP is .339 and his BABIP for 2005-2007 was around .320, but he bumped up his BABIP in 2008 to .370. The last time he had a BABIP that high was in 2002 when he only played in 120 games, 518 PA, when it was .373.

His 2008 BABIP was approximately the BABIP he had from 1997 to 2002, when he was 25-30 years old. It is highly unlikely that at 37 he suddenly figured out how to hit so much better consistently. Even Bonds couldn't do it, he had one peak year in BABIP, about 30 above his career BABIP in 2002, in his late 30's, but otherwise it was about average or at the end of his Giants career, much worse. So the Manny the D-gers just bid all in on is unlikely to be the Manny they saw in 2008, but more like the Manny of 2004-2007: still a very good hitter, still one of the best in the majors, but not the offensive dynamo they caught in a bottle late in the 2008 season, and not worth the money he's being paid, at least according to Fangraph's calculations.

Giants Probably Won't Have a Losing Record in 2009 Anyway

I wonder how symbolic or prophetic the headline I saw, the day he signed, was: "Dodgers lose to Giants on day Manny signs." Most projections have the Giants scoring a lot more runs than last season, and they were not outrageous projections regarding what the young unproven players might do in 2009, they were reasonable given their success in the minors and briefly in the majors. Same for the starting pitchers.

And that should give us approximately a .500 record for 2009. If we get some upside from Lewis or Sandoval or Sanchez, or return to past performance from Rowand or Renteria or Howry, we should have a winning record. Be happy with progress, be happy with development, this is preparing us for a golden age from 2010 to perhaps 2020, if players work out the way they project out to be and we are able to keep them long-term.

NL West NOT LA's Yet

They can't win just on offense, and they lost a major cog in their pitching from 2008 in Lowe. They haven't replaced a 3.24 ERA, 211 IP, 34 start pitcher with any of their pickups yet. Randy Wolf, Jeff Weaver, Jason Schmidt? Please, talk about throwing Jell-O at the wall. And to expect that good of a year out of Stultz, Kershaw, or McDonald is to be a fanboy having a nice fantasy. Only Kershaw is capable of that, but at only 21, it is not likely that he's going to duplicate Lowe's performance in 2009, perhaps in the future. Plus both Stultz and McDonald are middle rotation guys. And their bullpen after Broxton and Kuo is nothing to be scared of, unless you are a LA D-ger lead.

Plus Manny won't be repeating his 2008 performance, as I noted above. They actually had a losing record his first month, 13-16, before they had their nice run in September, going 17-8, to finish 30-24 with Manny. That's like a 90 win season.

However, it wasn't all him leading to that record. Even with Lowe's great ERA, the team was only 19-15 with him starting, but he turned it on in the last two months and greatly helped out, it was not all Manny, with a 2.27 ERA, 6-2 record, which could have been easily 8-2 with some better support offensively. So he was also significantly responsible for the D-ger's success during those two months, as the team was +4 in the win column in his decisions during that period and was +6 overall.

Another way to look at it is to compare each of their contributions in terms of wins. According to Fangraphs, Lowe contributed 5 wins to 2008, so Manny will roughly cover that with his addition, basically Manny 2009 is equal to Lowe and Manny 2008 in LA. And the D-gers, was .500 when they acquired Manny, meaning if Manny replaces Lowe's production then they end up with the same 84-78 record, assuming the rest is the same.

Any way you look at it, the loss of Lowe is a huge blow to the D-ger's efforts, because he's unreplaced by anyone, plus Manny will be a notch or two below what he did for LA in 2008. This should push them into the low-to-mid 80's win area.

That's a recipe for roughly .500, particularly since they have many young unproven players in their lineup. You don't know exactly what they are going to produce, particularly Loney and Kemp (though Ethier looks like a breakout; imagine the A's couldn't use him now?), who both look like 2007 is the fluke, and not growth from 2006.

So the D-gers are a middling team, in a division of middling teams. Injuries and unexpected good performances will be the determinants of who win in the NL Worst in 2009. And the Giants should be right in the mix of things this season.

16 comments:

  1. I think you grossly underestimate the Dodgers, especially in this division.

    Their offensive lineup is so stacked that Orlando Hudson may bat eighth. If the Giants had him, he might be a candidate for the leadoff position. Look at this lineup:

    Furcal
    Ethier
    Martin
    Ramirez
    Kemp
    Loney
    Blake
    Hudson

    Even their pitching staff is not as bad as you are portraying it. Billingsley is a top-flight starter. Kuroda is a very serviceable #2 or #3 guy. Kershaw has the potential to be just as good as Lincecum. He's just not there yet. McDonald has a lot of ability, but is unproven at the ML level. Wolf is just as good as any other team's 5th starter, including especially the Giant's Zito. Their bullpen is very strong & deep. This is more than a 85-87 win team, especially in this division.

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  2. I meant to say the Hudson would be a candidate for the cleanup position on the Giants, not the leadoff position.

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  3. One last thing I forgot to mention is about Kemp. You seem to pooh-pooh him as an unknown.

    What is wrong with a 25 year old player that hits .290, 18 HR, 76 RBI, .799 OPS and steals 35 bags? The Giants would give their left nut to have a player of that caliber on their roster.

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  4. Now that Manny is off the market I hope it restores some sanity to KNBR Talk Radio. I can't quite figure if Damon Bruce is an idiot or just plays one on the radio. To hear him ranting and raving about the merits of Manny would lead one to believe Manny would not only lead the Giants to the West title, but the World Series, and then would spend the offseason solving the global economic crisis and forge peace in the Middle East. What Damon and his adoring pro-Manny callers seem to overlook is that the Giants are still rebuilding, and that once Manny got a taste of losing he would go back to being just Manny.

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  5. Listening to talk radio is your first mistake. The collective intelligence of the moderator and the callers wouldn't add up to Mike Tyson's IQ. Overexposure to talk radio has been medically proven to cause deterioration in the grooves of a human brain.

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  6. I think I made myself pretty clear. II think you breezed over what I read because all your "points" about where I got it wrong was addressed in my post.

    I didn't say that the rotation was bad, I said that there's no way those pitchers replaces Lowe's production.

    I even noted that only Kershaw was capable of replacing Lowe, just not 2009. So why bother mentioning it?

    I didn't pooh-pooh Kemp's nice production, only that he's not as good as advertised by his 2007, and that his 2008 could be more his playing level (which is about what could be expected out of Fred Lewis, which I haven't seen anybody get to excited over). Much like how a lot of people overhyped Francoeur after his first nice season.

    I will admit that I didn't include Hudson's production when thinking about the offense, but my premise was that the addition of Manny for a full season would be negated by the subtraction of Lowe from the rotation and not being adequately replaced. I still think that's true and you didn't address that at all in your comment.

    Still, I don't see Hudson improving much on LA's 2B production of 2008: 18 HR, 84 RBI, .281/.340/.419/.760.

    Casey Blake is the better bet for improvement, LA's 3B in 2008 only hit .245/.321/.376/.697 with 16 HR and 69 RBI. Still, not a huge improvement.

    And you like their bullpen? I never said anything was wrong with Broxton or Kuo, it is the rest of the bullpen that will be worse. They are missing two of their top relievers of 2008, Saito and Beimel.

    Another big contributor, Wade, up until 2007 was a nothing prospect, had a great year in 2007 as an overaged 24 year old in advanced A-ball and AA, then had nice success in the majors in 2008 with very little experience (14 IP) in AA up to that point. I think he will do nicely, but not another low 2 ERA, he's going to regress big time.

    Now they have a bunch of washed up vets hoping to do well again in the bullpen, Mota, Brazoban, Vargas, and probably some of the vet starters too, Schmidt, Weaver, and maybe some youngsters.

    You like that bullpen?

    That cancels the plus of Blake at 3B and puts the Dodgers around where they were when they acquired Manny: .500

    And the Giants should be around .500 all season in 2009 and there is a good chance they could be above .500, I think people are underestimating what some of our players can do.

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  7. I do agree that listening to talk radio is your first mistake. Sadly, Ralph seems to be losing his senses or maybe he's just getting desperate, but his Manny-love was embarrassing this off-season.

    I've stopped listening to evening sports talk for years, KNBR has had a bad string of talk show hosts for years now (and I am a big sports fan, I used to watch golf and bowling in the days of Nicholas and Anthony, when few paid attention; I used to listen to games into the night with the radio under my pillow, listening to Ken Dito).

    I respect a difference of opinion, but the KNBR evening hosts regularly would get simple facts about the Giants wrong. I don't expect them to know everything off the tip of their tongue, but to get simple facts wrong, that any casual fan should know, is inexcusable for a talk show host.

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  8. I didn't say you got it wrong. I don't agree with your assessment of the Dodger team. It is a lot stronger than you are characterizing it. It is clear that they are the class of the NL West. They are a lot closer to a 90-92 win team than they are a .500 team.

    Yes, I think the Dodger bullpen is a lot more solid than the Giants bullpen and is a lot more solid than any other team in the NL West. In case you didn't notice, Saito was a missing person in the Dodger bullpen for much of the year last year. They did just fine without him. Losing Park & Beimel weakens them somewhat, but they have some talented young relievers like Wade & Troncoso to step in. This is another area that is easily addressed for the stretch run.

    Frankly, the Dodgers only weakness resides at the back of the rotation. Don't be surprised if they don't shore that up with a mid-season trade.

    Kemp is leaps & bounds beyond Lewis

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  9. If you don't agree with my assessment, you are saying I got it wrong. :^)

    I guess we are not that far apart. I agree the D-gers are the class (if you can call it that) of the NL West. I disagree and think that 81 wins is closer to their ending wins than 91 (90-92 that you said).

    You never addressed the loss of Lowe. With Lowe, they were basically .500, PLUS he was just as responsible for the D-gers doing well after getting Manny, as Manny was. There's nobody replacing his production and you admit as much with your agreement that Kershaw is not ready to do that yet.

    Saito still pitched 47.0 innings with a 2.49 ERA and Beimel 49.0 innings with 2.02 ERA. In addition, Cory Wade had a lucky year with the ERA of 2.27 with 71.1 innings, when his projections for 2009 is 3.74 at CHONE, and his FIP was 3.72 in 2008 (xFIP was 4.07). Plus, Kuo delivered 80.0 innings of 2.14 ERA, but never did that before and is projected by CHONE for a 3.00 ERA.

    That's 247.1 innings of low 2's ERA that is most probably replaced by at least 3-ish ERA, if not 4+ ERA because they didn't sign any reliable relievers and have a bunch of washed up relievers and starters, plus a couple of young unproven prospects.

    The bullpen is OK for protecting a very late lead, but not so good for games where they are close, maybe tied, but not leading. Plus, only one good reliable set up man puts a lot of pressure on starters to go 7 innings, else you are going to all the poor relievers in the bullpen. And you note Troncoso, who CHONE projects for 4.20 ERA, not very good for a reliever of a good pen, OK for a so-so pen.

    Also, a 90 win team will be defending a lot of late leads, and I would think Kuo and Broxton will need nights off sometime, they won't be able to go every day for any long stretch.

    So, no, I don't agree, their bullpen is messed up, certainly not as good as the Giants currently has with Wilson, Affeldt, and Howry, and if Romo can deliver (or Valdez is healthy), we will have a very solid bullpen. Romo, BTW, is projected for a 3.50 ERA by CHONE.

    Perhaps, but Kemp in 2008 was not leaps and bounds beyond Lewis, nor was he in 2006 either. He will have to be if the D-gers are to top the NL West. CHONE only has him at .829 OPS, which is not much better than Lewis.

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  10. The big difference between you and I is that you tend to give more credence to projections than I do. I tend to believe more of what I have seen in the field over the last 40 years of playing and watching baseball, looking at statistics for verification of those observations, and not giving as much credit to projections when they don't jive with current results.

    There's no doubt that the Dodgers will feel the loss of Lowe, but that is more than made up by the fact that they should be reaping the benefit of having Furcal, Manny & Hudson for an entire season. You can gloss over that as much as want, but that is a lot of offensive firepower they have added.

    I would stack up Broxton, Kuo & Wade against Wilson, Affeldt & Howry any day. Wilson has a lot of saves, but his peripherals are not that great. Affeldt has been very up and down over his whole career, although seeming to have a fair amount of talent. Howry has seen his better days some time ago. All 3 of the Dodger counterparts compare more than favorably to the Giants trio.

    Romo is a huge unknown and may not be medically able to answer the bell. Based on current reports, the Dodgers are still in the running to either bring back Beimel or sign Wil Ohman as a situation LOOGY.

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  11. Well, I will admit that you have an advantage over me in that you get to observe players and I'm doing everything via analysis, because I don't have your option.

    That said, I can see now that I've confused you by occassionally noting the Giants in comparison. My analysis about the D-gers being around .500 (albeit in the mid-80's win range) is solely by looking at the D-gers alone, comparing their 2009 with their 2008; the comparison with the Giants are a separate issue, at least for me.

    Regarding the D-gers, you seem to choose to trust your eyes and not what they have done so far in their careers, which is a valid point. However, there have been many players in the history of baseball who look great and yet don't figure things out when they make the majors.

    Let's go through the points I think you are missing, particularly on the statistical side.

    I've clearly made the point that the addition of Manny roughly makes up for replacing Lowe, probably with some leftover, which I'll grant.

    But with Lowe but no Manny, the D-gers were .500 last season; only together did they finally climb over .500. You point out Furcal and Hudson as putting them over.

    In Furcal's case, I agree that when he's on the field where you can see him, he's a great addition. However, you overlook the fact that Furcal has not played over 140 games the past two seasons, and only put in 36 games last season. He'll be 31 this season, which is about the age Durham went from never being on the DL to being on it every year with us.

    So yeah, he would be a good addition, if he plays a full season, but if not, and he looks like a candidate for not doing that, they don't have much of a replacement for him in-house, DeJesus just went down for the season, Hu didn't fare well in his first try in majors (and wasn't that hot a prospect in the minors either, offensively, until late, much like Ochoa for us).

    Maybe I'm underestimating him right now, but 1) he's never been that great a hitter at SS, about that of Renteria, and 2) he's been health challenged two years in a row, during what is considered a player's prime health years, age 29 and 30, so I don't think the odds favor him being that healthy in 2009.

    In Hudson's case, D-gers 2B hit .281/.340.419/.760 with 18 HR, 88 runs, and 84 RBI in 2008. Hudson in three seasons with Arizona, has not reached 88 runs, 18 HR, or 84 RBI in any of the seasons. In his time there, perhaps you remember his roughly low .800 OPS in his time there.

    What some may not realize, without looking at his career record, is that he was roughly a mid-plus 700 OPS hitter with the Blue Jay's previously and suddenly blossomed to 800 OPS with AZ. However, if you dig deeper, it shows that he has enjoyed a huge home advantage while with the D-backs, something he won't enjoy hitting in D-ger stadium, one of the worse pitcher's parks in the majors.

    Here's Hudson's road numbers with AZ, which are very similar to his overall numbers in Toronto:

    2006: .254/.313/.421/.734, 8 HR in 299 AB
    2007: .286/.370/.369/.738, 3 HR in 294 AB
    2008: .288/.337/.381/.718, 2 HR in 226 AB

    That's very much in line with his career stats in Toronto, BTW. And he won't be playing half his games in AZ anymore.

    I would also note that his statistical record shows that besides 2006, he has shown up in roughly 135-140 games per season, or roughly 500 AB each season, with 2008 as his low point since becoming a regular, as he played only in 107 games, 407 AB. He's 31 this season, that poor health nexus area, so the odds of him even playing 135-140 games is problematic just based on his career so far, compounded now by his age issues, because if he has trouble getting into 140 games when he's in his mid-20's, he's probably not going to get healthier in his early 30's.

    Plus, as noted, his road numbers don't even compare with what the D-gers got from 2B last season, so how is he that great an improvement, at least offensively? Defensively, I can see him as an improvement, but his road and Toronto numbers are Neifi-ish in comparison, and we all saw how much Neifi's defense contributed to our team when his offense wasn't that good.

    Regarding the bullpen, Wilson's peripherals are actually OK, so I'm not sure what your point is. A 9.7 K/9 is great, as is a 2.4 K/BB, which is the minimum you would want out of a closer. He walks a little too much, but studies have shown that a high strikeout rate and high K/BB ratio negates that, in fact, those types of pitchers are actually better than pitchers with similar K/BB ratio but much lower K-rate.

    But I'll grant you that Broxton is better than Wilson, as I noted, I seem to have confused with you my noting the Giants bullpen.

    You never even once tackled the 800 pound elephant in your comment: the D-gers had 247.1 innings of low 2's ERA, how are they going to replace that in 2009?

    Broxton and Kuo, OK, let's give them that, despite projections, which covers roughly 150 IP, leaving another roughly 100 IP to replace.

    You say I rely too much on stats, yet you ignore the simple fact that most pitchers don't outpitch what they did in the minors, nor do they deviate much from DIPS, particularly RHP like Wade. I've covered above how badly Wade performed in the minors. Wade's BABIP at the major league level was .224 in 2008, when most pitchers regress to the mean of .300, meaning he should give up a lot more hits in 2009. In addition, he has to rely on guile and control because his K-rate is a low 6.4 K/9, OK but not good, it was his low walk rate and abnormal BABIP that contributed to his low 2 ERA. The statistical record says that he won't repeat that, and if he's not an overwhelming strikeout artist, then he's most likely not to repeat that, as his stats will depend greatly on his defense.

    I don't see how Romo is a huge unknown, when he's as known as Wade is, particularly since Romo has a long history of doing well in the minors, whereas Wade only has 2007 in the minors and 2008 in the majors, plus had the huge BABIP concern for 2008.

    And, I'm not saying Wade won't be a good reliever, he just won't be low 2 ERA good, more like mid-3 ERA good, which is a huge difference still. For the roughly 18 games worth of innings (172 IP) that Wade and Kuo throws, that works out to an additional 20-30 runs above the 37 they gave up in 2008, around 50% more runs, if they end up with mid-3 ERAs. That's going to hurt their bullpen immensely relative to 2008.

    And in terms of bullpen comparison, I think I would take the duo of Wilson/Affeldt over Broxton/Kuo. I agree that Broxton is better than Wilson, but I think Affeldt is better than Kuo. Affeldt was highlighted by a number of analysts as closer material, and gives us the potential of a closer-duo situation, with Affeldt taking the 8th inning and Wilson the 9th.

    If you read any studies on relievers, many of the sabers believe bullpens are mis-used in that the best reliever, typically the closer, gets to pitch in non-pressure situations, wasting his usage. That won't be true with SF this year, Affeldt is clearly better than Wilson, but will be pitching in the 7th and 8th most of the time.

    And you complain about Romo's first career injury making him a question mark, yet dismiss Kuo's long history of injury problems. 2008 was one of the few years he has had good health, at age 26. The 80 innings he threw in 2008 was the second most innings he has ever thrown as a professional, he had 59.2 IP in 2005, 112.2 IP in 2006, 50.1 IP in 2007, and 80.0 IP in 2008.

    Prior to that, he missed the entire 2001 and 2003 seasons, and from 2000-2004, never pitched more than 14 innings.

    Plus, given their starting pitcher issues, there is a possibility that he'll end up in the starting rotation if the washed up players they have competing, including Schmidt, Estes, and Jeff Weaver, aren't compelling enough to replace Lowe.

    So, no, I don't think their bullpen will match what they did in 2008 - when they went .500 with that bullpen until they had Manny and Lowe (which they won't have in 2009) - and thus offset at least some of the positives they get for adding Manny.

    You then add Beimel, but 1) he's not on the team, 2) his 2008 at age 31 was his best by far, his ERA for the three previous seasons was 3.40, and 3) his strikeout rates have been abysmal, talk about bad peripherals, since you mentioned that for Wilson, Wilson is worlds away better than Beimel.

    There is no way the D-gers bullpen duplicates their 2008 performance overall, and if not, then that takes away from the record they can expect with Manny around.

    Worse rotation, worse bullpen, and the addition of Manny is mostly offset by losing Lowe, and they were only .500 with their current team with Lowe and minus Manny. Any addition from Blake and Furcal is mostly offset by the poor back of the rotation and the worse bullpen. .500 is a probable range for them, though I admit that they most probably end up above .500 whereas the Giants are still up in the air on their over and under on .500, though I think they will ultimately be over.

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  12. Let me start by clarifying one thing, as I think it is an important distinction. I said that you put more reliance into projections, not statistics, than I do. Projections are very different from statistics in that they are not a record of what one has done, but a potential outcome of what might be done based on statistical analysis. A player's statistics are a record of past accomplishments.

    The big issue with projections is that one must realize that they are not fact. Many times players deviate wildly from projections. That is why I put more trust in evaluating talent and looking at statistics to see if trends back up what evaluation is telling me. I don't ignore projections, but I tend to put less emphasis on them that a lot of others do.

    Furcal has most assuredly had injury issues over the last 2 years. There is no doubt about that, although starting in 2002, he managed to play in 154, 156, 143, 154, 159, 138 games respectively until hsi injury shortened 2008 year of 38 games. Now, there is also no doubt that, when he is on the field, he is a game-changing talent at the top of the lineup. Pitchers pitch differently when he's on base. Defensively, he has great range and a cannon of an arm. He's amongst the best of the game at his position, not at the very top, but definitely in the top 20%. Even if he plays in only 135 games in 2009, it will be a huge upgrade for the Dodger offense. I think you are underestimating his impact.

    I don't disagree with your point that Hudson should basically provide about the same level of production as what the Dodgers had last season. The key point here is that most of that production came out of the 4th spot of the lineup (Kent). Hudson could very well be hitting 8th in the current lineup. If he duplicates last year's 2B production, that would be another big upgrade to the Dodger lineup. Add that to the fact that Ramirez & Blake will be around all year and you have a very significant improvement in the Dodger offense, not just a marginal improvement.

    Defensively, they are solid at every position, except one, and we all know which one that is.

    When I talk about Wilson and his periperals, he gives up way too many baserunners and too many runs for the role that he is filling. Last season, his most successful to date, he allowed 1.44 Walks + Hits per inning on the average. That is not a good number for a guy that is supposed to be your closer. Furthermore, his 4.62 ERA number shows that a lot of these guys are scoring, which is also not a great trait for a closer. What is really maddening about Wilson is that he has the stuff to do a lot better than that, but he absolutely refuses to pitch to the inner part of the plate. Hitters know this and they do not even worry about being busted in on the hands. They know that he is going to try to pound the outside part of the plate over and over and over again. Most good ML hitters will get that timing down after seeing that pitch a couple of times.

    Affeldt has definitely improved over the last 2 seasons. He will be a huge improvement over the what the Giants have been running out there in the 7th & 8th innings over the last couple of years. There is no point of disagreement there. However, if I have the pick of either Affeldt or Kuo to fill the same role, it's Kuo by a landslide. All you have to do watch Kuo pitch a few times and you will agree with me. He has absolutely electric stuff. It's no accident that he struck out 96 batters last year in 80 innings (1.2 per inning) while only allowing 1.01 Walk + Hits per inning and logging an ERA of 2.14. Similar numbers for Affeldt were 80Ks in 78.333 innings (1.02 per inning) while allowing 1.31 Walk + Hits per inning and posting a 3.33 ERA.

    I acknowledge that their starting pitching is not what it was last year and agree that their bullpen may be a little worse (but not as bad as you think). However, pitching is an area that can be easily addressed at mid season as teams do their salary dumps. Ownership usually tries to get by with marginal 5th starters in the early part of the season and shore up if they are in the race. Don't be surprised if that is exactly what the Dodgers do this year. I'm not convinced that they are not going to sign one more reliever before the season starts. If they do, it will most probably be Ohman, who was very good against lefties last year, once his price comes down.

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  13. Thank you for clarifying my misunderstanding on what you meant by stats vs. projection. True, projections don't come close to being true, but the point of projections is to get a general ballpark idea of what that player is capable of, based on prior accomplishments, some just on MLB performance, but many now include MLEs from minor league experience, particularly upper levels. Studies have shown the efficacy of such evaluations. So, to be clear, I use projections as an idea of what a player is capable of, based on past performances.

    I see your point on Furcal now, you are right he would be a great addition to the offense, assuming he puts in 135+ games and not 38 games. Last year they got .244/.310/.367/.677 out of their SS position and his career average has been .286/.352/.412/.764, and a bit higher for the period 2003-2006. Still, I think that is offset by the decline of the bullpen.

    While I agree that Hudson batting 8th would be an upgrade overall, that is an upgrade based on Manny hitting 4th, he's still a similar (if not worse) replacement for what Kent (and DeWitt) provided at 2B in 2008, meaning 2B is not upgraded, though 8th place hitting is upgraded. But that is part of the overall upgrade the lineup gets from having Manny in the lineup, not from getting Hudson.

    About Wilson, what you are not accounting for is that he did a lot of his bad pitching when in non-save situations, which Affeldt and Howry will probably take this season. When in a save situation, Wilson had a 1.26 WHIP, which is pretty good, with a 3.72 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 48.1 IP and 2.8 K/BB, which is excellent, almost elite. Also, as we all know, scoring by relievers is often at the mercy of the relievers behind him, so ERA has to be either taken with a grain or salt, or examined more closely to see what is happening.

    Sure, you want the Kuo of 2008 over the Affeldt of 2008, but my point all along is that you cannot rely on getting the Kuo of 2008 in 2009, which was your point about Romo, because injury could strike Kuo, as it has for many years now plus he's just as unknown as Romo, and probably even more unknown because he has a history of high walk rates in the minors (unlike Romo). So either you are wrong about Kuo or wrong about Romo, as they are both in similar situations in terms of production and health. Electric or not, he was unable to harness it in previous years, so we cannot tell if 2008 was just a lucky year for him, due to small samples for relievers. However, here's an interesting fact, he had a great first half followed by a good, but not equally good second half:

    H1: 1.69 ERA, 10.6 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, .279 BABIP
    H2: 3.04 ERA, 11.1 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, .303 BABIP

    Also, looking at his 2008 monthly stats, he only pitched in 3 games, 3.2 IP in September, which is a pretty sure sign that he was injured in some way, and thus wasn't used when he was needed most, in the heat of the pennant race. I am thinking more and more that if anyone is relying on him to deliver for you when the team needs you, he could be gone on the DL.

    In any case, I'm not saying he won't be good, I'm just saying that he's not going to be as good as he was in 2008, and that will be a decrease in performance by the unit as a whole. You are guilty of projection here because you think he is going to repeat his 2008 in 2009 just because he has electric stuff, but as I showed, the league was figuring out his electric stuff in the second half, plus he wasn't that great a performer in the minors despite his electric stuff, you would think he could take on minor leaguers easily if his stuff was that good, yet he walked a lot of batters down in the minors.

    OK, by discussing twice the need of the D-gers to add starting pitching and relief pitching, it seems to me that they are not, in your mind, that much better than a .500 team like the Giants unless they acquire more pitching. Else why bother, the Giants and other NL West teams are not going to be much better than .500 in 2009. You seem to be pinning a lot of hopes on the D-gers acquiring more pitching mid-season in order for them to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. And per your excellent point about projections being way off sometimes, the same thing can happen to the D-gers too, bringing them down to the Giants level.

    And regarding the D-gers acquiring more pitching, I could say the same about the Giants and their lineup, or even their bullpen.

    ReplyDelete
  14. How about this? I will set the line at 88 wins for Dodgers. I take the over and you take the under. We put up $5 to make it interesting. If the Dodgers win 87 games or less, you win. If the Dodgers win 89 games or more I win. If they win 88 games, no one wins. You on?

    ReplyDelete
  15. I'm not a betting man, but what I'm willing to do is post with the headline, "Boof is a smarter man than I, I am just a Goof" if you are right, and post a link to this comment. I get enough pleasure being right that you don't have to do anything.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Sounds good to me. Frankly, I hope you win, because I would like nothing more than seeing the Dodgers go in the tank. I just don't see it happening in this division.

    ReplyDelete

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