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Intrepid correspondent Brent Steinacker takes on the thorny task of ranking general managers. Help him out!


With two new GMs entering the field (Ruben Amaro, Jr., in Philadelphia and Jack Zduriencik in Seattle), it's a good time to look at how they all stack up.

The columns in this table are: World Series Rings Won, Expected Wins (Rank), Payroll (Rank), Expected Wins / Payroll (Rank) and Sum of Ranks (Final Ranking).


AL (avg. # wins needed to win Wild Card (last 5 yrs): 95.4)

AL East (avg. # wins needed to win division (last 5 yrs): 94.6)


TeamGMRingsX-wins RankPayroll RankX-wins/PayrollFinal
BaltimoreAndy MacPhail
23139= 45 (15)
BostonTheo Epstein2 rings22426= 52 (17)
NYYBrian Cashman3 ringsT103030= 70 (28)
TampaAndrew Friedman
522= 9 (1)
TorontoJP Ricciardi
T31815= 36 (7)


AL Central (avg. # wins needed to win division (last 5 yrs): 90.4)


CWSKen Williams1 ringT62324= 53 (20)
Cleve.Mark Shapiro
141212= 38 (12)
DetroitD. Dombrowski2 rings182829= 75 (29)
KCDayton Moore
T2467 = 37 (10)
Minn.Bill Smith
T644= 14 (2)


AL West (avg. # wins needed to win division (last 5 yrs): 88)


LAATony Reagins
92123= 53 (20)
OaklandBilly Beane
T2033= 26 (4)
SeattleJack Zduriencik
292928= 86 (30)
TexasJon Daniels
T2079= 36 (9)


NL (avg. # wins needed to win Wild Card (last 5 yrs): 90)

NL East (avg. # wins needed to win division (last 5 yrs): 88.2)


AtlantaFrank Wren
172622= 65 (27)
FloridaLarry Beinfest
1611= 18 (3)
NYMOmar Minaya
T62727= 60 (23)
Phil.Ruben Amaro, Jr.
T31716= 36 (8)
Wash.Jim Bowden
30118= 49 (16)


NL Central (avg. # wins needed to win division (last 5 yrs):88.2)


ChCJim Hendry
12221= 44 (14)
Cin.Walt Jocketty 1 ringT241414= 52 (18)
HoustonEd Wade
191519= 53 (22)
Mil.Doug Melvin
T10913 = 32 (6)
Pitt.Neal Huntington
T2755= 37 (11)
St.LouisJohn Mozeliak
13 1920= 52 (19)


NL West (avg. # wins needed to win division (last 5 yrs): 86.2)


ArizonaJosh Byrnes
1586= 29 (5)
Col.Dan OíDowd
221011= 43 (13)
LADNed Colletti
T102525= 60 (24)
SDKevin Towers
T272017= 64 (26)
SFBrian Sabean
261618= 60 (25)


As you can see, Cash and Theo have more rings between them than the rest of the current GMs combined. Having top payrolls definitely helped. Jockettyís Cardinals were one of the most unimpressive winners ever. Most people believe Ken Williamsí was mostly due to luck. Dombrowskiís first win was ďboughtĒ while the second was pretty legit. I was obviously too dismissive of these GMs, but I donít think that too many people were impressed in a lot of these instances.

I used expected wins instead of wins because we are looking at the GMs, and they donít play the games. The next column is their cost-per-win ranking. Next, they are ranked based on dollars per expected win. Adding the totals produces the final GM ranking.

After reading this, you must be thinking, how can Cashman come out as such a bad GM? Well, last season was bad for a team with a payroll like that. This is just a snapshot of last year. Also, a large payroll will pull down a GM's ranking.

How much difference is there between the divisions? Any AL East GM tied in score with another in a different division should be considered as better. The AL Central should be ranked next, while the rest will be considered similar.

The real questions at hand are:

Who are the worst GMs, the ones at risk of being fired? (Bavasi for Seattle ranked last and is already gone (Welcome, GMZ!).) Another bad season from Cashman (28), Dombrowski (29) or Wren (27) could mean a firing. Even Colletti (24) or Sabean (25) could be gone (as most people seem to hope). Bowden, being last in expected wins, is also a likely candidate.

Who are adequate? Most GMs' faults are hidden by small payrolls which really do make it hard to judge them. The quality of GMs has also been going up over the years.

Who are the top GMs? If I took the top 5 from this list, would it be outrageous? A combination of Beane, Byrnes, Beinfest, Friedman and Bill Smith (one year after Terry Ryan, who was also highly regarded) would seem pretty solid.

I havenít heard of any SABR guy with the definitive method for properly evaluating GMs. The real debate, then, is about drafting, adding the right players at the right time, et cetera. This ranking is just to get the discussion started.

Pinch Hit: Ranking General Managers | 180 comments | Create New Account
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christaylor - Wednesday, January 28 2009 @ 12:56 AM EST (#195907) #
Rather than measuring the "best" GM all this ranking accomplishes is ranking the GMs who are the best at maximizing wins per dollar spent, or, in other words, the most frugal GMs. Not at all the same thing as "best" or even "good".

It would be just as easy to argue that the best GMs are those who've been on the job the longest (survival of the fittest) or those entrusted to the largest payroll (because those hired to manage the most money could be run through the most challenging hiring process). It all depends on the definition of "good" used to do rankings and I suppose I just don't particularly buy the particular definition of good advanced by this post.
TamRa - Wednesday, January 28 2009 @ 01:23 AM EST (#195908) #
A combination of Beane, Byrnes, Beinfest, Friedman and Bill Smith (one year after Terry Ryan, who was also highly regarded) would seem pretty solid.

The problem here, of course is - apart from Beane - how many of these guys are top notch and how many are the benificiaries of the work of their predecessor to some degree because of the sample size issue?

Bill Smith in particular. Of course, I think both he and Ryan are well regarded mostly because of Ron Gardenhire. Ryan's work was entierly unimpressive for 7 years then he hired RG and succenly he's a coveted guy.


TamRa - Wednesday, January 28 2009 @ 01:27 AM EST (#195909) #
It all depends on the definition of "good" used to do rankings

This is true. Good/Great GM is a HIGHLY subjective  description.

In fact, one might be able to argue that there are no "great" GM's so much as there are "normal" GM's and "bad" GM's

those who are percieved as "great" are very often the benificiary of circumstances as much as of their own actions.
brent - Wednesday, January 28 2009 @ 03:12 AM EST (#195910) #

I am fully aware of the limitations of this, Chris. This is just a starting point to begin the discussion. Of course the Twins were built by Ryan (as I meant that he was a top GM).

Let's start with the first question- who should be fired?

Glevin - Wednesday, January 28 2009 @ 03:22 AM EST (#195911) #
"Rather than measuring the "best" GM all this ranking accomplishes is ranking the GMs who are the best at maximizing wins per dollar spent, or, in other words, the most frugal GMs. Not at all the same thing as "best" or even "good"."

It's even worse than that IMO. It counts "rings" as the only measure of success beyond wins. Being in contention is a big deal, making the playoffs is a big deal, advancing in the playoffs is a big deal. Also, any team with a high payroll will never have a high ranking GM in a system like this. Cashman has a lot of money to work with,  but there is no way he is near the worst GM in baseball. Theo Epstein has been a GM for 6 years, and they have made the playoffs five times including 2 WS wins.  He has been the most succesful GM in baseball over that period and is ranked 17th. The job of a GM is to win and the fact that every GM who has one a WS as a GM is ranked 17th and lower is absurd. The only proper way to rank GMs is to rank their trades, drafts, and free agents signings. Even that is not perfect, but it would be closer than this.
Paul D - Wednesday, January 28 2009 @ 07:45 AM EST (#195912) #
Most people believe Ken Williamsí was mostly due to luck.

I don't think this is true anymore - Williams seems to be pretty well respected.
Ozzieball - Wednesday, January 28 2009 @ 10:09 AM EST (#195915) #
Can't really take seriously any measure that says that Bill Smith is even remotely competent as a GM.

His only actual major effect on the team was trading Johan Santana for table scraps, a move that actually kept the Twins out of the playoffs. His draft was terrible. His moves this offseason have been terrible. He is not a good GM.

Then again Terry Ryan was also pretty awful, so I guess the key to be considered a good GM is "don't be in the AL East."

AWeb - Wednesday, January 28 2009 @ 10:21 AM EST (#195916) #
The rankings need to account for the relative ease of winning the first 50-70 games. I would think anyone of the posters here (no offense, I know I'd be a lousy GM) could manage to put together a team that could win 50-60 games a year, even on a low budget. No credit should be allocated for the first, say, 60 wins. Even Tampa for all those years managed that most of the time. Low budgets seem to be overly critical in this first pass at the rankings.

Extra credit should go to finding extra wins in the critical "contention" area, say 85 wins and up. The 86th win is worth a lot more than the 72nd, in terms of playoffs and ring possibilities, and it also tends to cost more.

New GMs shouldn't get ranked at all like this...no one would consider Tampa and the Cubs among the top 5 franchises, but they are 5th and 1st in expected wins (one assumes because they only get counted for one year), and so the GMs look a bit too good.

Mike Green - Wednesday, January 28 2009 @ 10:21 AM EST (#195917) #
Terry Ryan was awful? Really?

The Twins did have a pretty fair record, with pretty severe payroll restrictions, under him.  Some years, the AL Central was arguably the best in baseball.  And he did manage that cute Pierzynski for Bonser/Liriano/Nathan trade.  It's true that Sabean was on the other end of that doozy, but usually it's not the awful GMs who make perhaps the most one-sided trade of the decade.

SheldonL - Wednesday, January 28 2009 @ 11:32 AM EST (#195920) #
I think the best way to measure a GM's success is to divide the total amount of payroll in his tenure by the number of wins in his tenure. That tells you how much each win cost him.

I know the Moneyball haters will not like this purely because Michael Lewis used this stat to determine Beane as the best GM.

But I truly think this shows the value of a GM. High payroll teams can sufffer blunders like Carl Pavano, Jaret Wright, Julio Lugo, Matt Clement, etc, etc... but teams that must watch every single penny are the GM's with more of a workload.

That being said, I would expect Terry Ryan and Beane to be among the leaders of such a stat. As for Ricciardi, he would have fared well in 2003 but not since... I think he's really mismanaged a lot of money; I love the guy but I really don't think the B.J. Ryan deal was needed... and the small contract blunders like Bautista and Johnny-Mac.
Greg - Wednesday, January 28 2009 @ 12:12 PM EST (#195921) #

I was having this conversation on BTF yesterday oddly enough

I can see a lot of criticisms of JP, but him not getting the wins he should out of his payroll isn't one of them

2008: 7th in payroll, 7th in wins
2007: 8th in payroll, 7th in wins
2006: 8th in payroll, 7th in wins
2005: 11th in payroll, 8th in wins
2004: 10th in payroll, 12th in wins
2003: 8th in payroll, tied for 6th in wins

That looks like a guy who is slightly above average in the win-$$ ratio department.  Only 2004 was a negative value.

Chuck - Wednesday, January 28 2009 @ 12:13 PM EST (#195922) #
I think the best way to measure a GM's success is to divide the total amount of payroll in his tenure by the number of wins in his tenure. That tells you how much each win cost him.

A 25MM payroll could probably still get you 50 wins, for a cost per win of 0.5MM. That would almost certainly be the best in baseball, but so what?

And what is a GM's job, to win games or help maximize ownership's profit? You're looking at this entirely from a fan's perspective. An owner might be very happy with a GM who can field an 80-win team (with the appropriate corresponding resultant revenue) on a 60MM payroll.
Ozzieball - Wednesday, January 28 2009 @ 12:34 PM EST (#195923) #
Terry Ryan was awful? Really?

Yes, really. Remember, this is the guy who cut David Ortiz because Big Papi didn't bunt/grit/hustle enough for the way Ryan thought the game should be played. He fell backwards into Joe Mauer: remember that Mark Prior was the consensus #1 that year and the Twins only took Mauer because he was cheaper and they thought they could get an additional hometown discount. Johan Santana was a scrap heap pickup for the second time that offseason. The Twins only had to trade for him because they neglected to pick him up for free the first time around.

Heck, the Pierzynski trade wasn't even that bad at the time of the trade, and it still wouldn't have been particularly bad if the Giants had decided to resign Pierzynski. Bonser is a mediocre-at-best pitcher who seems to have a future in long relief, Nathan is only a closer, and Liriano's arm is made out of lime jello. Nathan might even be considered a negative for the Twins, since he now takes up so much of the payroll that even BJ Ryan blushes at the thought of his contract.

The Twins have succeeded entirely in spite of terrible management. I hope Terry Ryan stays the hell away from the Blue Jays - JP Riccardi at the very least recognizes that John McDonald is an awful offensive player.
Mike D - Wednesday, January 28 2009 @ 01:17 PM EST (#195924) #

With all due respect, Brent, I think these (subjective) rankings hit a bit closer to the mark.

Most people believe Ken Williams' was mostly due to luck.

See, this makes me mad.  As difficult as it can be to admit, there is a huge difference between "success smart people did not predict" and "luck."

And as overblown as invocations of Moneyball can get, I really do think there is a lingering bias against Kenny because of his portrayal as a hapless rube on draft day in the book -- a GM every bit as wrongheaded in his approach to the draft as Beane was visionary.  Of course, a few years later, prior to Beane taking the (wise and necessary) step to gut his big league roster for prospects, Oakland's farm system was much, much worse than that of the White Sox.

TamRa - Wednesday, January 28 2009 @ 01:23 PM EST (#195925) #
 
That being said, I would expect Terry Ryan and Beane to be among the leaders of such a stat.

Can't see how you figure that. Ryan's teams averaged 68.5 wins per 162 games in his first 6 seasons at the helm. Even if you add in the successful years the Twins average 79 wins a season over his career.

Ryan is an example of how circumstances make a GM's reputation. the real genius in Minnesota was and is Ron Gardenhire. If you really look at the teams that won in Minnesota, most of the kep players were not even Ryan acquisitions.

I agree with the comment above that it's the marginal wins that you look for. I'll bet some math whiz could come up with a relative value of wins that gradually increased from 70 through 100 and then dropped off quickly after that.

If such a system could be devised, then you could more accurately judge at least the records of the teams a GM put together in terms of relative value.

But even then it wouldn't be a completely accurate measure because a GM of a low-budget team that has to rebuild every 4th or 5th year is going to have his overall precentage skewed by the poor results in the re-build year.






Mike Green - Wednesday, January 28 2009 @ 01:46 PM EST (#195926) #
Maybe I don't get around enough, but I haven't seen "genius" and "Gardenhire" in the same sentence written by a Twins' follower, save for the usual sarcastic comments after a managerial blunder.

As for Ryan, under whose watch was it that the Twins signed Johan Santana as a Rule 5er?  Was Gardenhire behind this signing or was it some other genius?  Look, I am not saying that Ryan was as good as Branch Rickey or Pat Gillick in his days here.  He definitely made mistakes.  But, if you look at his overall record and the resources at his disposal, he's got to be at least average, and probably better than that.

TamRa - Wednesday, January 28 2009 @ 02:07 PM EST (#195927) #
With all due respect, Brent, I think these (subjective) rankings hit a bit closer to the mark.

And even that list is flawed right off the top. why is everyone putting Friedman in the top ranks so qwuickly?

the writer points to the staked minor league system but the big majority of the highly regarded prospects were drafted by Friedman's predecessor. and the two most noteable, Longoria and Price, were hardly tough calls on draft day. He also calls it a "stacked major league team" but the 2008 Rays had only these (prominant) players who were acquired by Friedman:


Navarro - good trade, props
Garza - when you are trading a #1 overall pick and top prospect in the majors, you SHOULD get good return
Jackson - throughly ordinary guy
Zobrist - role player (for one of his best trade chips)
Pena - blind luck, he wasn't even the first FA 1B signed (to a minor league deal) that off-season. NO ONE, least of all Friedman, saw 47 HRs comine
Iwamura - mediocre player
Hinske - another bit of dumb luck. Mench was coming off a 127, Hinske was coming off a 74...het Hinske hit 20 HR and mench hit 0.
Gross - mediocre supporting player, no more a stroke of genius than, for instance, Scutaro

Percival
Howell
Balfour
Wheeler - He built a good bullpen - who else do we know who did that.?

So...he got two top three draft choices right, he made trades for two good players, he got lucky with a couple of minor league free agents, and he built a good bullpen. Oh, and he let Josh Hamilton get away.

THIS is a guy who rates with Epstien and Beane?

Not from where I sit.

He's also got Brian Cashman in the second tier, as if writing checks is a special skill. Cashman has been a HORRENDOUS drafter over his career. and very few of the Yanks internally developed players are key contributors who were signed and developed by Cashman's regim.

He ranks Dan O'Down in the same group with doug Melvin in the thierd tier, and O'Dowd has been a train wreck of a GM

He then says this about the Jays:

"but the Yankees stumbled last year and the Jays weren't anywhere near able to capitalize."

Really? Having the 4th best run diffirential in the majors isn't "anywhere near"? Finishing 3 games behind the Yankees isn't "anywhere near"?

Subjective?

Oh yes.

TamRa - Wednesday, January 28 2009 @ 02:14 PM EST (#195928) #
Maybe I don't get around enough, but I haven't seen "genius" and "Gardenhire" in the same sentence written by a Twins' follower, save for the usual sarcastic comments after a managerial blunder.

I'm not concerned with what Twins fans are saying, honestly. He took the same team Tom Kelly struggled with and won the division - repeatedly. If the Twins fans don't appreciate him then by all means there's a job in Toronto I'd like to see him have.


As for Ryan, under whose watch was it that the Twins signed Johan Santana as a Rule 5er?

You can't build any GM's reuptation on one or two savvy moves. He took a flier on Santana and it worked out, props for that. but he also was very poor at the draft table and took seven years to post a winning record - and that we all find disappointing when the Jays do it (85 wins)

Look at the record of acquisition of the players on the team that finally won the division in his eighth season. the great majority of the contribution came from players he inherited from McPhail.

  Was Gardenhire behind this signing or was it some other genius?  Look, I am not saying that Ryan was as good as Branch Rickey or Pat Gillick in his days here.  He definitely made mistakes.  But, if you look at his overall record and the resources at his disposal, he's got to be at least average, and probably better than that.

I'd say he's probably average - 90% of all GM's are. But he's not at all as good as his reputation.

Mike D - Wednesday, January 28 2009 @ 02:15 PM EST (#195929) #
WillRain, I do agree that the writer I linked to is unduly harsh on JP.
AWeb - Wednesday, January 28 2009 @ 02:18 PM EST (#195930) #
Also important is that GMs, like the players and the rest of us in other jobs, possess the capacity to improve at their jobs. Ryan may not have been very good starting out, and simply got better over time. Managers have been shown to have a "peak performance" like players, except of course it happens later, in their 50s, if I recall correctly (hardball times perhaps for the study, I do remember reading it but can't find it right now).  GMs should have a learning curve at the beginning, just like any other managers/directors/executives. It is demonstrably untrue that given long enough even a bad GM will certainly stumble across good teams (hello Pittsburgh for the past 15 years), so I don't think it should be controversial to state that GMs can get better (or worse, of course) at their jobs.

It's also very important, as mentioned above, to factor in the goals of the GM when deciding if they did a good job. Most GMs are working on a more-or-less set budget and told to turn a profit for the team. A good GM from my perspective (running a WS winning team) is not a necessarily a good GM from a business perspective. Arizona's WS win - I seem to recall they lost a lot of money doing that, and suffered for years as a result. That's bad GM-ing, even if one championship resulted.
SK in NJ - Wednesday, January 28 2009 @ 02:36 PM EST (#195931) #

Heck, the Pierzynski trade wasn't even that bad at the time of the trade, and it still wouldn't have been particularly bad if the Giants had decided to resign Pierzynski. Bonser is a mediocre-at-best pitcher who seems to have a future in long relief, Nathan is only a closer, and Liriano's arm is made out of lime jello. Nathan might even be considered a negative for the Twins, since he now takes up so much of the payroll that even BJ Ryan blushes at the thought of his contract.

Nathan is "only a closer"?

From 2004-08
Player A: 350 IP, 1.83 ERA, 199 SV, 5.89 H/9, 11.03 K/9, 2.52 BB/9, 0.51 HR/9
Player B: 374 IP, 1.93 ERA, 199 SV, 6.86 H/9,  8.47 K/9, 1.61 BB/9, 0.39 HR/9

Player A is Joe Nathan and Player B is Mariano Rivera. That's not only "only a closer". That's elite level at his position. A straight Nathan/AJP swap would have been a steal for Minnesota. Add Liriano and it's highway robbery.

Ryan is far from perfect, but his teams have averaged nearly 89 wins over the last eight seasons and that includes four playoff appearances and four 90+ win seasons. He took a while to get there, but he got there. Although I do agree releasing Ortiz has to be the worst decision in baseball over the last 10+ years, if not one of the worst of all-time.

greenfrog - Wednesday, January 28 2009 @ 05:31 PM EST (#195933) #
WillRain, that's attributing an awful lot of Friedman's success to blind luck and happenstance. I guess one's person's blind luck is someone else's astute pickup. After all, any of the other 29 GMs could have signed Pena on the cheap. Or his bullpen acquisitions. And some of the other moves involving inexpensive average-ish players--Hinske, Bartlett, Iwamura, Aybar--helped shore up the team offensively and defensively at a few positions. (JP definitely gets props for Scutaro, but what about LF and DH? A couple of average Friedman-type players at those positions would have made last season much more interesting.)

As for Young-Garza, I think it was just a good deal for both sides. The Twins assumed some risk, in that Young seldom walks (as Keith Law noted recently, positional prospects rarely make great gains in OBP). On the other hand, Young still has tons of potential (some of his age-22 comps: Carl Yastremski, Roberto Clemente, Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli). For his part, Friedman bought low on a young power pitcher who had had outstanding peripheral numbers throughout the minors, and who had stumbled a bit in the majors in his age 22/23 season (similar to Doc at the same age and stage). It was a worthy gamble because of the premium in MLB on talented young starting pitching. As it happened, the deal paid off nicely for the Rays (and still might for the Twins).
TamRa - Wednesday, January 28 2009 @ 06:37 PM EST (#195936) #
Also important is that GMs, like the players and the rest of us in other jobs, possess the capacity to improve at their jobs. Ryan may not have been very good starting out, and simply got better over time.

A very good point, and, BTW, one which mitigates against most fans' tendency to have a "quick trigger" on a GM. I've paid so much attention to Ryan particularly because of the convergence of time frames - that is, going 7 years without a playoff appearance (and only one winning season) is exactly the same time frame JP has been allowed before the near unanimous call for his firing (and a great many fans insist it is as much as two years overdue). If the premise that a GM can improve over time is valid - and i believe that it is on its face - then ought this not be a factor when evaluating whether JP has worn out his welcome?

 Managers have been shown to have a "peak performance" like players, except of course it happens later, in their 50s, if I recall correctly (hardball times perhaps for the study, I do remember reading it but can't find it right now).

Tangent here - am I the only one that fully expects that sometime down the road gibbons is going to be a well regarded (probably NL) manager? whatever his faults here, I think there's a lot of potential to succeed in his next manager opportunity.

  GMs should have a learning curve at the beginning, just like any other managers/directors/executives. It is demonstrably untrue that given long enough even a bad GM will certainly stumble across good teams (hello Pittsburgh for the past 15 years), so I don't think it should be controversial to state that GMs can get better (or worse, of course) at their jobs.


Which, of course, just makes the whole question of whether or not a GM deserves praise or derision that much more difficult. for instance, for how long is it valid to rag on JP because he (for instance) got Prokopec, or drafted Adams, or whatever your pet pony is?

Conversely, how much credit does an otherwise poorly regarded GM get for an early good move. For instance (not that this was an early move in the man's career) - how long can a guy coast on stealing Kazmir  for Zambrano?

I think the art of evaluating a GM might be more difficult than finding a good fielding stat.

Ozzieball - Wednesday, January 28 2009 @ 06:50 PM EST (#195938) #
A straight Nathan/AJP swap would have been a steal for Minnesota.

What in the?

It doesn't matter how good a closer is, a closer is still just a closer. 70 innings a season when the team already has the lead. Every pitcher who is a closer is always "only a closer," because the closer is not only far less valuable than any position player or starting pitcher, because of how they are used they are arguably the least valuable pitcher in the bullpen. Yes, "only a closer."

Pierzynski on the other hand filled the hardest-to-fill position in baseball, and hit well for that position. At the time of the trade, AJ was coming off of back-to-back 100 OPS+ seasons. As a catcher. And at 26 was just entering his prime. That is very valuable. Much more valuable than a pitcher who throws 70 innings a season. No matter how good those innings are.

Ryan is far from perfect, but his teams have averaged nearly 89 wins over the last eight seasons and that includes four playoff appearances and four 90+ win seasons.

I wish I could access the adjusted pythags from more than just the past year, but last year provides good enough evidence. The Angels won 100 games, but had a strength of schedule adjusted pythag of 84 wins. The Twins had 88 wins and a strength of schedule adjusted pythag of 82 wins.

Lucky breaks with Mauer and Santana, and lucky with games in general. Bill Smith is an awful GM, and Terry Ryan was pretty bad himself.
TamRa - Wednesday, January 28 2009 @ 07:02 PM EST (#195939) #
WillRain, that's attributing an awful lot of Friedman's success to blind luck and happenstance.

Not so. Read carefully. i attribute only Pena and Hinske to blind luck. Want me to be fair? Jessie Carlson was blind luck too. Gregg Zaun, back in the day was a lucky strike. Joe Inglett? Luck.

 I guess one's person's blind luck is someone else's astute pickup.

I suppose - but only if you apply the same terms no matter who you are talking about. If you prefer to call Pena and  Hinske astute, and you also call Inglett and Carlson astute, then at least you are being fair.

 After all, any of the other 29 GMs could have signed Pena on the cheap.

Absolutely. And they didn't, which tells you EXACTLY how UNremarkable Carlos Pena was in that off season. You know what else tells you? Friedman himself signed Hee Sop Choi months before he signed Pena. if Pena was an astute pickup, why was it so late in the off-season before he was signed? Why was Choi signed first?

If Jason Lane has a comeback year and hits 35 HR in 2009 will that be because JP was smarter than the folks who passed on him? Not from where I sit.

 Or his bullpen acquisitions.

Which I gave him full marks for - only noting that I could point you to someone who'd done the same thing only better.

And some of the other moves involving inexpensive average-ish players--Hinske, Bartlett, Iwamura, Aybar--

Nothing wrong with such moves, but it wasn't Aybar and Iwamura and Bartlett that put the Rays in the World Series. Any more than Scutaro, McDonald, and Inglett are ever going to put the jays there.

...helped shore up the team offensively and defensively at a few positions. (JP definitely gets props for Scutaro, but what about LF and DH? A couple of average Friedman-type players at those positions would have made last season much more interesting.)

Again, if you are sitting here on the same date in 2008 and you can sign Erik Hinske or Kevin Mench, the only - ONLY reason for taking Hinske is because you want the platoon split to be up vs RH instead of the reverse. ANY objective observor would HAVE to feel more confident Mench would give you more offensive value than Hinske.

But he didn't. Was that smarts, or luck?

Or consider this - Friedman is smart because he signed a guy who wouldn't have played anywhere else (Floyd - whom I lest off my list above) and Floyd surprised with a 109 OPS+...but it's considered a marginal move that JP picked up Matt Stairs under almost identical circumstances in 2007 and got a 138.

the only difference? Friedman's move is magnified by the fact that Floyd played on a chamionship team.


As for Young-Garza, I think it was just a good deal for both sides.

I do too, for the most part, though the Twins are apparently going to need more patience.

The Twins assumed some risk, in that Young seldom walks (as Keith Law noted recently, positional prospects rarely make great gains in OBP). On the other hand, Young still has tons of potential (some of his age-22 comps: Carl Yastremski, Roberto Clemente, Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli). For his part, Friedman bought low on a young power pitcher who had had outstanding peripheral numbers throughout the minors, and who had stumbled a bit in the majors in his age 22/23 season (similar to Doc at the same age and stage). It was a worthy gamble because of the premium in MLB on talented young starting pitching. As it happened, the deal paid off nicely for the Rays (and still might for the Twins).


Sure. I wasn't questioning the move. Just saying that if you are dealing a Delmon Young, you don't have to be a top tier GM to come away with a quality player.

greenfrog - Wednesday, January 28 2009 @ 08:44 PM EST (#195941) #
WillRain: JP put together a good team last year: great starting and relief pitching, sound defense, some savvy role player acquisitions. But while JP made some of the right moves last year, Friedman made all the right moves. Based on '08, at least, Friedman deserves the higher GM ranking. Here's why:

- Based on your reasoning, every under-the-radar acquisition (Pena, Hinske, Carlson, Zaun, Inglett, Scutaro) is by definition lucky, because they performed better than most observers might have anticipated. To me, this is circular logic. It's like saying that Warren Buffett's track record of finding undervalued stocks is really just luck. But everyone in the market could have invested in those companies, and most investors chose not to buy them. Was Buffett just lucky? Yes, some luck is involved. But luck is involved in *every* personnel decision. The point is that by doing your homework, you can tilt the odds in your favour. That's what characterizes the best GMs.

- The key difference between Pena and Carlson/Inglett (to compare the out-of-nowhere acquisitions) is that the Rays landed a bona fide cleanup hitter (and good defensive 1B). The Jays have done very well at finding undervalued role players, but Friedman pulled off a coup. You can call it luck, others might call it an intelligent low-risk, high-upside investment.

- As for the inexpensive, average-ish acquistions comparison (Hinske/Aybar/Iwamura/Bartlett/Gross/Floyd versus Wilkerson/Stewart/Mench/Inglett/Scutaro/McDonald), the key point IMO is that the Rays used these complementary players to build a complete team. Collectively, they were effective (despite being at best average) because, unlike the Jays, Friedman didn't leave any gaping holes at key positions. Inglett, Scutaro and McDonald were wonderful role players to have around, but the Jays ultimately fizzled because they couldn't find average players to play DH and LF. JP relied instead on Wilkerson (OPS+ 70) and Mench (OPS+ 81)--both of whom had just been released by their respective clubs for underperforming--as well as Stewart (OPS+ 69) and Stairs (OPS+ 96) for a total of about 870 AB. That pretty much sums up why the Rays made the playoffs and the Jays didn't.

- Finally, Friedman didn't have to be a top-tier GM to acquire a quality player in return for Young, but the point is that he acquired a doozy in Garza--who had just logged the second of two faltering stints in the majors, and who some people were beginning to think was overrated. It was a bold move that worked. More luck? Or astute player evaluation? It was also exactly the kind of move--dealing for a front-rotation starter--that JP has been unable to pull off during his tenure.
TamRa - Wednesday, January 28 2009 @ 11:57 PM EST (#195942) #
Based on your reasoning, every under-the-radar acquisition...is by definition lucky... To me, this is circular logic

Ah but wait - I gave you the option of calling them all luck, or all savvy. i don't care which as long as you/I/the writer are consistant.

The point is that by doing your homework, you can tilt the odds in your favour. That's what characterizes the best GMs.

Conceded...but I move the previous question - if Friedman discerened something via "homework" that no one else knew concerning Pena, then why was pena signed late in the off-season? AFTER another guy (who failed ultimately) was signed before him?

others might call it an intelligent low-risk, high-upside investment.


As a superficial assumption, they might. Those same people would probably not have noticed Hee Seop Choi having been signed before, or Travis Lee (twice) in the same sort of process without success. That looks much more like trial-and-error upon examination, rather than "intellegent investment"

but the Jays ultimately fizzled because they couldn't find average players to play DH and LF.

And yet the opened the season with players at these positions coming off seasons in which they posted OPS+ numbers of 138, 125, and 101...only to see those same players turn in, respectively, of 96, 71, and 69.

Was it reasonable for the Jays to have anticipated that? By contrast, Friedman signed an 83 and got a 107, and he signed a 102 and got a 109.

Wilkerson (OPS+ 70) and Mench (OPS+ 81)--both of whom had just been released by their respective clubs for underperforming

I have no defense for Wilkerson other than to point out that was an emergency move AFTER the well-laid plans failed. But mench was NOT, in fact, released by the Rangers...the signed him for depth and he was stuck in AAA and we bought him from them.

you can certainly argue that the jays should have went out and made a trade for some good help when Wilkerson and mench failed, and in that I would agree and that is an obvious strike against JP.

BUT

Just because they jays saw perfectly good plans (Thaomas and Stairs) inexplicably fall apart and failed to adaquately replace them does NOT make Friedman smarter or worthy of more admiration. since his "take a chance" moves DID work out, he didn't have to consider the option of a mid-season acquisition. So yes, I agree. JP deserves criticism for sticking with failed options. But Friedman get's no corresponding credit.

I still maintain that if you ask every exec in the game, including Friedman, who they'd rather have in their lineup last opening day, every last one would have taken Thomas and Stairs over Floyd and Hinske.

It was a bold move that worked. More luck? Or astute player evaluation? It was also exactly the kind of move--dealing for a front-rotation starter--that JP has been unable to pull off during his tenure.

It was a good move, full marks. But he get marks for doing what you SHOULD do...in much the same way that picking David Price #1 was what you should do...he would get slamed if he had made such a deal and screwed it up but he didn't. As for JP not having done so, since JP never had a chip like that to put on the table, how is it a fair comparison?


Here's something else:

Friedman is getting props all over for building a great bullpen - when his 2007 bullpen had an ERA of 6.16!

Is he a genius now and a moron a year ago (in terms of bullpen creation)?

But laying that aside, he went out and addressed that pen by adding-
1. an oft injured pitcher coming off a 121 ERA+ and got a 224
2. a failed starter coming off a 60 and got a 200

Could anyone have reasonably expected these outcomes a year ago? Or did Friedman catch a lot of breaks?

Look, don't get me wrong. I've been impressed with Friedman - in a SMALL sample - so far. But besides thinking 3 years is too short a time to make an adaquate judement in the first place, I don'tthink he's remotely earned a "top tier" evaluation yet.

I maintain those who rank him there are judging superficially.

Mylegacy - Thursday, January 29 2009 @ 01:12 AM EST (#195944) #
OFF TOPIC

BUT...

YOU'VE GOT TO READ THIS ABOUT LOEWEN!!!!!

http://www.nationalpost.com/sports/story.html?id=1223457

zeppelinkm - Thursday, January 29 2009 @ 06:56 AM EST (#195948) #

"Just because they jays saw perfectly good plans (Thaomas and Stairs) inexplicably fall apart"

You can claim it was a perfectly good plan that inexplicably fell apart, but both Thomas and Stairs were entering their age 40 season. I recall lots of grumbling about these two guys being who we were placing all our bets on. JP did and lost hard. It was what I would call a medium sized mistake on its own that he compounded it into a HUGE mistake by attempting to replace their production with Mench and Wilkerson. Shannon Stewart was a bad signing from day 1 - you can cite his 1 year performance at age 33 (101 OPS+) to decide how you build teams and say his decline was unexpected, but I'll take the previous 3 years and use that in making my decision (OPS+ of 88, 89, 101). Lots and lots of people thought that was a bad signing from day 1, and it was. And finally - Hinske was 29 when he was signed by the Rays. That's in the middle of his prime. Carlos Pena was 28. Cliff Floyd was 34 - clearly the old man of the group, but at least his prior 3 year performance looked like this: 126, 88, 102.

And I strongly disagree with the notion that if you asked every GM in baseball prior to the season who would they rather have, Thomas and Stairs or Hinske and Floyd, and that everyone single one without question would take Thomas and Stairs. There is nothing to suggest this is the case - why would every single team in baseball want 2 DH's for a combined 12+ million over 2 more versatile players that cost only 3.5 million? In the name of good and honest debate, I challenge that this statement is without any real evidence. I could just as easily make the exact opposite claim.

And finally, why do we have to assign a blanket assessment to all of these moves? Why does every single one have to be labled as either lucky or astute? That's poor logic, IMO. Unforunately and as cumbersome as it is, each and every move has to be evaluated on its own, or in consideration with another corresponding/complimentary move. But to just say "every move made of this nature was luck" or every move of this nature was brilliant, is just plain wrong.

greenfrog - Thursday, January 29 2009 @ 09:01 AM EST (#195949) #
'That looks much more like trial-and-error upon examination, rather than "intellegent investment"'

Actually, I think a trial and error approach can be a sign of intelligence. Trial and error allowed Friedman to land Pena in addition to Choi, which in retrospect was prudent diversification. In a way, JP's reliance on Stewart, Mench and Wilkerson for months and months was exactly the opposite approach. He tried. The trial failed (i.e. all three players badly underperformed, contributing to the Jays' falling out of the race early on). But JP never really admitted the error and moved on. With regard to Delmon Young, Friedman gave him about 771 AB in the majors (during two rebuilding seasons) and when he underperformed (his BB:K ratio was 27:151 with an OPS+ under 100), he moved on while Young still had trade value, and netted a very good young pitcher.

All GMs use trial and error. Sometimes you fish and sometimes you cut bait. Luck is definitely involved, but it isn't the only factor. Is it too early to evaluate Friedman as a GM? Yes. But the early returns are promising. On the other hand, I would be wary of always finding excuses for the team that never makes the playoffs. Ultimately, performance is what counts.
SK in NJ - Thursday, January 29 2009 @ 09:24 AM EST (#195950) #

It doesn't matter how good a closer is, a closer is still just a closer. 70 innings a season when the team already has the lead. Every pitcher who is a closer is always "only a closer," because the closer is not only far less valuable than any position player or starting pitcher, because of how they are used they are arguably the least valuable pitcher in the bullpen. Yes, "only a closer."

Pierzynski on the other hand filled the hardest-to-fill position in baseball, and hit well for that position. At the time of the trade, AJ was coming off of back-to-back 100 OPS+ seasons. As a catcher. And at 26 was just entering his prime. That is very valuable. Much more valuable than a pitcher who throws 70 innings a season. No matter how good those innings are.

I realize there are still some out there who view closers as "overrated" or "easily replaceable", even though stat-oriented GM's like Beane and Epstein have long accepted the importance of a closer after previously dismissing them, but it's clear that a relief ace is needed for any team to win. Nathan and Rivera have been very similar the past five seasons (as the stats indicated). Are you implying that Rivera's importance to the Yankees is not as great as an above average position player's? You would be hard pressed to find one person who agrees with that. A mediocre closer vs. an above average position player clearly favors the latter, but when you are dealing with elite level closers, it's more complicated than "he only throws 70 innings". Finding a reliever who can be dominating for more than one season is not easy.

I never said Pierzynski was a bad player. However, let's face facts: 1) He was blocking Joe Mauer and 2) he was about to get expensive. Trading him for a relief ace and a potential #1 starter (even though the latter was a bit of a surprise) is only a bad deal if you REALLY like AJP or are related to him in some way. Seriously, how can anyone trash that move knowing how it turned out?

I honestly don't know what you are arguing. Would you have preferred that Ryan keep Pierzynski, block Joe Mauer, and not have Nathan/Liriano/Bonser? Or are you saying that Ryan made a bad deal that looks better in hindsight, and he should have held out for more? I disagree with both scenarios as I doubt AJP would have netted any more than what he did, despite his good numbers pre-trade, and clearly Mauer was the better player so blocking him would have been ridiculous. If anything, Ryan should be praised for selling high on AJP and maximizing his value when he had a better replacement in-house already. If only Ricciardi were "dumb enough" to realize that with Wells and Rios.

I wish I could access the adjusted pythags from more than just the past year, but last year provides good enough evidence. The Angels won 100 games, but had a strength of schedule adjusted pythag of 84 wins. The Twins had 88 wins and a strength of schedule adjusted pythag of 82 wins.

So why even have the playoffs or divisional formats? Just give the trophy to the team with best pythag. If the Jays won 100 games in 2009, but their "adjusted pythag" was 83, are you seriously going to complain about it? At what point does actually making the playoffs take greater importance than an artificial number? The Twins won 90+ every time they made it. It wasn't like they won 82 and got in. Maybe they wouldn't have won if they were in the AL East, but reality is, they were not in the AL East. They shouldn't be penalized for that.

92-93 - Thursday, January 29 2009 @ 12:23 PM EST (#195952) #
"On the other hand, I would be wary of always finding excuses for the team that never makes the playoffs. Ultimately, performance is what counts."

I would be wary of equating performance with making the playoffs in a sport where approx. 25% of the teams make the playoffs.
John Northey - Thursday, January 29 2009 @ 02:54 PM EST (#195955) #
A good question is what would it take to win the AL East since JP came here vs what it would've taken in the AL Central and AL West (I'll ignore the NL for now).

Total wins for leader from 2002 to 2008...

AL East: 103, 101, 101, 95, 97, 96, 97 = 98.6 wins
AL Central: 94, 90, 92, 99, 96, 96, 89 = 93.7 wins
AL West: 103, 96, 92, 95, 93, 94, 100 = 96.1 wins
Wildcard: 99,95, 98, 95, 95, 94, 95 (W,E,E,E,C,E,E) = 95.9 wins

In the Jays history (from Gillick to Ash to JP) the top 7 total wins...
99, 96, 96, 95, 91, 89, 89 = 93.6 wins (1985, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1991, 1983/1984/1989)

So, in the Jays entire history we've seen enough wins to beat the average required since JP came into town once.  Yup.  Just once have the Jays won enough games to beat the AL East average these past 7 years.  Just three other times have the Jays won enough to win the AL East at any point these past 7 years.

Thus, asking the Jays to win the AL East lately is a task even Saint Gillick would have trouble doing.  The Central - not so hard as 8 times the Jays have reached the lowest win total with the Jays best 7 being almost identical in average to the Central's past 7.  The west is a bith tougher but with 3 out of 7 below 95 would certainly be winnable.  The wildcard has been out of the east 5 out of 7 years, with the lowest total being 94 wins (4 times in Jays history they have reached that total). 

Ugh.  This has been a tough division to make the playoffs out of.  Anything less than 95 wins and you aren't making it with 2007 being the only year 94 would've got them in (for a one game playoff). 

Now, some will say that means the Jays should do super high risk methods (ala the Rays) where they suck for years in hopes of getting a few years of 95+.  Years of zero hope, praying that everything aligns just right for a 2-3 year window and if it doesn't  then blow it up and start again.  However, don't forget that is exactly what Gillick had and he only got over 96 wins once, reaching 95 just 4 times, one of which wasn't even a playoff appearance (although it would be under todays rules). 
TamRa - Thursday, January 29 2009 @ 03:51 PM EST (#195957) #
You can claim it was a perfectly good plan that inexplicably fell apart, but both Thomas and Stairs were entering their age 40 season. I recall lots of grumbling about these two guys being who we were placing all our bets on. JP did and lost hard.

h sure, i thought they would decline too - I figure JP did. But there's a difference in an expected decline and watching 138 and 125 turn into 96 and 71 If they had dropped off to, for instance, 115 and 110, that would have been not only a reasonable expectation, but still good enough that they'd have taken up all those ABs that went to Mencherson.

Shannon Stewart was a bad signing from day 1 - you can cite his 1 year performance at age 33 (101 OPS+) to decide how you build teams and say his decline was unexpected, but I'll take the previous 3 years and use that in making my decision (OPS+ of 88, 89, 101)

Oh no, I hated the Stewart signing, I STILL count it as a horrible decision, and I argued loudly last spring that the 80's were more representative. I only mentioned him at all as a comparison to picking up Hinske. both were guys you shouldn't expect much from but the Rays actually got something out of Hinske.

Why would every single team in baseball want 2 DH's for a combined 12+ million over 2 more versatile players that cost only 3.5 million?

I was speaking of expected production, not salary. i should have been more specific. also, of course, the NL teams would have to be assuming they had a DH to work with (for either set because Floyd wasn't really an OF anymore)

But to clarify - the point was the expected production - even out of two 40 year olds - based on the past couple of years - would have clearly favored Thomas and Stairs, IMO. that's not so much that they wouldn't have declined, it's that Hinske and Floyd were complete crap shoots.

In the name of good and honest debate, I challenge that this statement is without any real evidence. I could just as easily make the exact opposite claim.

Conceded, you could. It's obviously impossible to verify objectively.

But to just say "every move made of this nature was luck" or every move of this nature was brilliant, is just plain wrong.

I agree. And likewise for any GM.


Actually, I think a trial and error approach can be a sign of intelligence. Trial and error allowed Friedman to land Pena in addition to Choi, which in retrospect was prudent diversification.

Again, we agree. And again, I'll I'm asking for is consistancy. Nevertheless, signing 5 minor league relievers and one of them turns out to be Jesse Carlson v.2008 is still the result of an element of chance. If it was pure skill, the other four wouldn't have been signed.

Same with Pena. YES it's good practice to sign low cost guys with potential, as many as you have room for (which, by the way, JP routinely gets snide remarks made about it when he picks up some minor league gamble) - but that still doesn't speak to anything but basic good practice. the sort of think you find fault with if it doesn't happen, but not the sort of thing that makes you "top tier"

In a way, JP's reliance on Stewart, Mench and Wilkerson for months and months was exactly the opposite approach. He tried. The trial failed...But JP never really admitted the error and moved on.

Agreed. I don't see how anyone can defend that - especially in the case of Wilkerson (Stewart spent so long on the DL he's a non factor and Mench's sample size was so small that it was hard to complain too much about keeping him around) The fact that Wilkerson got so very many at bats in 2008 is a black mark on not only JP but on both managers. Heck, Buck Coats would have been worth a gamble at some point. In isolation, as a comparison of just the two guys, that's a strike against JP.  But even then, Wilkerson got 202 at bats in 85 games and had a 68 OPS+, while on the Rays, Johnny gomes played in 77 games, got 154 at bats, and posted a 73 while bringing nothing on defense.

So how much difference in the two is there, really?

On the other hand, I would be wary of always finding excuses for the team that never makes the playoffs. Ultimately, performance is what counts.

I agree that over time it becomes too coincidental. but given that the Jays have only been TRYING to make the playoff under JP for three seasons now, I think it's reasonable to suggest thatthings can go wrong three times in a row. Or that the first try simply wasn't good enough and then things went wrong twice in a row.

That's not the same as making excuses for the whole 15 years.


greenfrog - Thursday, January 29 2009 @ 04:36 PM EST (#195959) #
It's not just that the Jays haven't made the playoffs under JP (or over the last 15 years). It's that they've never really been in serious contention during his tenure. There are some important factors involved beyond JP's control, such as payroll limitations, injuries, and the state of the competition. I'm actually sympathetic to JP's situation, and I think he's made some good tactical moves. I also think he's improved as a GM. But being unable to contend even once over 8+ years--it's tough to perceive that as a successful tenure, especially when the farm system, while improved, still only ranks in the middle of the pack.
Mike Green - Thursday, January 29 2009 @ 04:37 PM EST (#195960) #
John Northey,

The chart you've posted overstates the difficulty of winning the AL East to some degree from 2002-04.  Because Tampa particularly was so consistently terrible, and the Orioles were pretty consisently bad, and the Jays were no hot shakes, it was easy for Boston and New York to run up win totals somewhat beyond the quality of their teams.  The unbalanced schedule changes the dynamic. 

Anyways, the relevant period is 2005-08, and during that time the AL East hasn't been too much different from the other divisions.  Going forward, though, it looks like the AL East will be truly a beast, with Tampa, Boston and New York being very good and Baltimore and Toronto being average teams. 

Ron - Thursday, January 29 2009 @ 04:50 PM EST (#195961) #
Now, some will say that means the Jays should do super high risk methods (ala the Rays) where they suck for years in hopes of getting a few years of 95+.  Years of zero hope, praying that everything aligns just right for a 2-3 year window and if it doesn't  then blow it up and start again

I sure hope you're not talking about the Rays having a 2-3 year window. The Rays are one of the youngest teams in baseball and the majority of their core players are 30 and under and years away from becoming a free agent. The Rays are built to contend now and well into the future.

While the Jays are unlikely to spend as much as the Red Sox and Yankees, they should be heavily investing in the draft and international rookie/free agents. The signing bonuses the draft picks and international "rookies" receive are peanuts compared to what free agents get. To be blunt, the Jays have virtually no shot of making/contending for a playoff spot under their current plan/regime.


Leigh - Thursday, January 29 2009 @ 05:38 PM EST (#195962) #
I think the problem with many methods of GM evaluation is the focus on results.  Processes and results are different things - a bad result can be the product of a good process and a good result can be the product of a bad process.

If I buy a lottery ticket, it was a bad investment whether I win the lottery or not.  My winning or not winning the lottery is irrelevant - the quality of the decision exists independently of the result.

Was letting Burrell go and signing Ibanez a good decision for the Phillies?  No, it was objectively a bad one - they got the worse player for more money.  If Burrell slips in the bathtub tomorrow and Ibanez suddenly becomes a truly great player - it was still a bad decision.  What happens after the decision is irrelevant - what ought to have happened after the decision based on the best information and processes available is the relevant factor.

TamRa - Thursday, January 29 2009 @ 06:57 PM EST (#195963) #
The chart you've posted overstates the difficulty of winning the AL East to some degree from 2002-04.  Because Tampa particularly was so consistently terrible, and the Orioles were pretty consisently bad,

Since the advent of the wild card, the average number of wins of the following teams:

4th place in East - 72.82
5th place in East - 64.55

4th place in Central - 70.45
5th place in Central - 61.73

4th place in West - 67.36

It's a myth that having two punching bags skews the AL East winner to a higher win total. The two bottom feeders in the central since '98 have, on average, been even worse.

(I've had this disagreement before and luckily saved my research)

TamRa - Thursday, January 29 2009 @ 06:59 PM EST (#195964) #
Leigh:

Hear Hear!

Well said!


SheldonL - Thursday, January 29 2009 @ 08:26 PM EST (#195965) #
Yes, it certainly is pure luck if you wish to completely remove the agency of an acquisition from the GM's hands.

But that's sort of ridiculous. Why bother signing guys like Jason Lane or Adam Loewen, etc if you don't hope that they'll pan out. That's all you can do, you can just hope for the best because quite frankly it's all providential.
But you can't say the GM did a bad job if his gambles didn't work. You can only blame a GM if he never tries gambles.

And, yes, you can certainly applaud the GM if his gambles do pan out! That's not because he was certain it would work but because he gave himself the best chance to succeed by acquiring these fellows.

I'm not upset with J.P's gambles in the past (Thomson, Ohka, Wilkerson, Stewart, etc...). If any of those guys did work out, we wouldn't be having this discussion.
My only problem with these pragmatic decisions is that sometimes J.P. doesn't know when to quit. He did well to quit on the Thomson/Ohka experiment because guys like Litsch, Marcum and McGowan started to show that they were for real.
I was not pleased that we didn't end the Stewart/Wilkerson/Mench charade sooner. I mean, after a few weeks it was obvious that Stewart would never hit .300 again, Wilkerson would never approach the 35 homers he hit in Montreal, and Mench would not become the solid power hitter we expected.

I would have loved to see J.P release all 3 and go out and acquire other "sleepers" mid season. Nelson Cruz was tearing up the PCL, Willy Mo Pena was injured somewhere, Greg Dobbs was relegated to pinch-hitting duties in Philly... it's not like the possibilities weren't there.

But all in all, I'm pleased with J.P's creativeness to bring in guys like Lane and Loewen... I am hoping that Russell Martin is right and that Loewen become as good a hitter as Morneau!
Mike Green - Thursday, January 29 2009 @ 09:46 PM EST (#195966) #
We've had this discussion before, Leigh.  If you look at any one decision, results are relatively unimportant.  But, if you look at a cumulative record over a period of time, the results (in context) do matter in the evaluation.  That is true whether you are speaking of evaluating players, managers or general managers.  So, for instance,  we will say of a player who has a good swing at a strike and hits a line drive which is caught, that he has had a good at-bat, but at the end of the season, we are likely to pay a lot more attention to his slash line than the number of line drives he hit.
TamRa - Thursday, January 29 2009 @ 10:10 PM EST (#195967) #
I agree in principle and quibble with the details. Stewart - and to be clear I HATED the idea of bringing him in - sucked in April. And if you only want to give a guy a month before you cut bait then you could have done that. But then he had 4 weeks in May where he hit almost .780...JP would have been justified in taking that as a good sign. then he sucked for 8 games before getting hurt and he never played for the Jays again.

So I don't think there's a big beef with how long he took on Stewart. It's really not practical to ask him to give up on a guy after April.

Similarly, Mench got 65 lousy at bats before the All Star Break. That's not the sort of sample size that tells you much. One hot week can turn that into a nice line.

In fact, Mench went through 4 phases, he was aweful for 22 at bats, then he was pretty good (.795) for 43 at bats (from May 27 until the break) He slumped for 28 at bats (more than a month in his limited role) and then from August 23 until the end of the season, his OPS was a sizziling .917

So in terms of looking up and saying "Should I release this guy?" your choices are to release him after his first 22 at bats - which everyone would have ripped him for...or let him go based on a 28 at bat slump in late August. In my view, Mench wasn't taking up enough at bats to have a significant negative impact.

Mench's season OPS was .678, right? give him ONE game in which he goes 4/5 with a double and a homer and it's .751. Give him two games in which he goe 6/9 with 2 doubles and a homer and a walk and it's .772 and we're not even including him in a discussion of deadweight.

So while I consider the original choice to bring in Stewart a big mistake, I don't think either of them staying as long as they did was another mistake.

Wilkerson, however, was an inexusable mistake. no later than the All-Star break, at the most generous, you HAVE to give up on him. My suggestion would be you could have made a better offer for Casey Blake than the Dodgers did (with the added benifit of having someone to cover for Rolen when he went on the DL)

So, I know this is a glorified nitpick, but still I think it's an important point....once the season started JP had an irrational attachment to just one bum - Wilkerson.



greenfrog - Thursday, January 29 2009 @ 10:18 PM EST (#195968) #
I agree. The other problem with focusing on individual decisions (either the process or outcome) is that sometimes a poor GM gets caught up in a particular dilemma that a good GM might have avoided altogether. By focusing on the dilemma, it's easy to miss the larger issue of why it occurred in the first place. In other words, by thinking proactively--and this applies in so many aspects of the job--a strong GM can prevent certain kinds of problems before they start.

The Johnson/Stewart/Mench/Wilkerson fiasco is a good example. Had JP lined up a more productive LF in the first place--or built a deeper farm system-- he might have avoided the initial Johnson-Stewart debate (when in fact neither was a great choice as a starting LF) as well as the subsequent problem of having to replace Stewart during the season. I've often heard JP on The Fan 590 saying to fans--somewhat belligerently, in my view--"Fine. Tell me what you would have done. Who would you have signed instead?" To me, this sidesteps the real issue, which is what the GM should have done to avoid the problem in the first place.
greenfrog - Thursday, January 29 2009 @ 10:20 PM EST (#195969) #
That is, I agree with Mike Green's post.
TamRa - Thursday, January 29 2009 @ 10:23 PM EST (#195970) #
But, if you look at a cumulative record over a period of time, the results (in context) do matter in the evaluation.

Well yes, I agree with that but where I was agreeing with Liegh was that people tend to be unable to view a move without the currupting influence of hindsight.  For instance, people look back and moan that the Jays took Prokopec instead of insisting on Gagne. But at the time of that trade, Prok was a perfectly reasonable choice. One might have had a prefeance even then, but it's not like you had a choice between Scott Richmond and Brett Cecil and took the wrong one.

But because Prok flamed out the choice is magnified out of proportion. I prefer to judge a move based on information available the day the deal was made.

Maybe that's not what Liegh was saying.

ayjackson - Thursday, January 29 2009 @ 10:32 PM EST (#195971) #

We've had this discussion before, Leigh.  If you look at any one decision, results are relatively unimportant.  But, if you look at a cumulative record over a period of time, the results (in context) do matter in the evaluation. 

Yeah but what's the period of time to evaluate a GM.  I think it's closer to 15 years than 5.  I think luck plays a huge role in the outcome of a trade, draft pick or free agent signing.  The logic of a decision may not always be agreable, but for most GMs, most of the time, it is defensible.  And whether one player develops and one doesn't, or one gets injured and another doesn't, is usually a product of luck in the near term and, in my opinion, it's only over a very long term that you begin to get a sense of most GMs' competance.

 

TamRa - Thursday, January 29 2009 @ 11:06 PM EST (#195972) #
I've often heard JP on The Fan 590 saying to fans--somewhat belligerently, in my view--"Fine. Tell me what you would have done. Who would you have signed instead?" To me, this sidesteps the real issue, which is what the GM should have done to avoid the problem in the first place.

Even if you go back though, the answer isn't clear. Looking at Retrosheet at the transactions last winter, working backwards, here are the possibilities (players who actually moved) for low price of help.
(working backwards from ST)

Corey Patterson
Jerry Hariston
Trot Nixon
Brady Clark
Scott Podsednik
Bobby Kielty
Eric Hinske (platoon bat)
Brad Wilkerson
Luis Gonzalez
Mark Kotsay (via trade and making a lot of money IIRC)
Mike Cameron ($10 mil a year and under suspension)
Nick Swisher (if you have a Gio Gonzalez to deal)
Darin Erstad
So Taguchi
Josh Hamilton (obvious choice but at what price?)
Geoff Jenkins (platoon bat)
Jim Edmunds (didn't touch lefties even in Chicago)
Milton Bradley (I wanted him, but would his health have held up in LF every day?)
Elijah Dukes (I don't think we want this thug)
Carlos Quintin (right place right time?)
Jose Cruz
Jacque Jones

So, unless we're going to hang it all on the notion that he shoulfd have beaten KW to the punch on Quintin (how sweet would that have been?) there's not really a lot of good arguments there for what JP should have done to keep from being in that situation.

I could see the Bradley signing (I argued for it back at the time) and depending on whether we had a pitcher that would have made it work (would it have taken Marcum?) Hamilton. But either cost or a poor track record. wipes out almost everyone else there.

Yes, of course, you can go back further and talk about the return for various trades or who shey should have drafted in the 4th round 4 years ago or whatever, but before long it becomes very contrived.

Every team has holes and it seems to me to be over-thinking the problem to go back years and say (for example) "if he'd only got a real OF prospect for Gaudin then he wouldn't have had to sign Stewart and we would never have decended to Wilkerson.

It's much more direct to just say "He screwed up by not dumping Wilkerson in time to help the team"


Mike Green - Thursday, January 29 2009 @ 11:07 PM EST (#195973) #
More than 5 definitely, but after 7 or 8 years,  I feel pretty comfortable at results.

Now to something more fun.  This Monday is Feb 2nd.  It is Travis Snider's (and my mom's) birthday, so without further ado, the 2/2s:

Manager- Red Schoendienst

C-   Walt Kuhn
1B- Pat Tabler
2B- Red Schoendienst
SS- Adam Everett
3B- Max Alvis
LF- Don Buford
CF- Roy Dewitt
RF- Travis Snider
DH- Melvin Mora

Bench- Hub Hurt (C), Buddy Biancalana (MI), Willie Kamm (CI), Jack Reed (OF), Bill Abstein

SP- Wes Ferrell
SP- John Tudor
SP- Orval Overall
SP- Scott Erickson
SP- Sheldon Jones

RP- Warren Brusstar
RP- Manny Sarmiento
RP- Dale Murray
RP- Pat Clements
RP- Paul Kilgus

If Snider hits like he could, this might be an acceptable offence- Buford, Schoendienst, Mora, Snider, Tabler, Alvis is not bad as one's top 6. The infield defence is excellent, as is the starting pitching.  The bullpen is OK and the bench is pretty bad. 

Glevin - Thursday, January 29 2009 @ 11:16 PM EST (#195974) #
"With all due respect, Brent, I think these (subjective) rankings hit a bit closer to the mark."

I agree they look much better although still with some things I really disagree with.

"But, if you look at a cumulative record over a period of time, the results (in context) do matter in the evaluation.  That is true whether you are speaking of evaluating players, managers or general managers. "

Bingo. Unless a GM comes in and makes some terrible or fabulous moved immediately, it takes a few years to really judge him. That said, even after a couple of years you can often get a general idea of a GM. Most GMs will make some bad moves, but the best GMs will make some great moves as well.  The problem with J.P. is not bad luck. Seven years with not a single great trade, a single great free agent signing, or a single great player to be drafted is long enough. I am not a huge fan of Kenny Williams who has made so horrible trades (Lee for Podsednik) but he he has also made some great trades (Quentin for a prospect, Floyd for nothing, etc...) In fact, I doubt there are more than a few GMs who have been around for more than a few years who have worse best moves than JP.  What's JP's best trade? Getting Hillinbrand a mediocre DH and a jerk in a salary dump? His best free agent signing? Getting Zaun a pretty good catcher for cheap? Who is the best player that J.P. has drafted so far? Aaron Hill? Jesse Litsch? It's actually quite pathetic when you compare his records against other GMs. Forget the guys who are near the top, take Jim Hendry for example. He took over in 2002. He managed to get Aramis Ramirez for nothing. He got Derek Lee for Hee Sop Choi.  He paid Ryan Dempster under $20 million for 5 years. Kevin Towers got Adrian Gonzalez and chris Young for Adam Eaton and Otska. You can disparage Friedman, but he has already made more astute moves than J.P. has in seven years. The defense of a GM so clearly among the bottom third in baseball reminds me of the way some Tigers' fans used to defend Randy Smith before he got fired.
TamRa - Thursday, January 29 2009 @ 11:46 PM EST (#195975) #
What's JP's best trade? Getting Hillinbrand a mediocre DH and a jerk in a salary dump? His best free agent signing? Getting Zaun a pretty good catcher for cheap? Who is the best player that J.P. has drafted so far? Aaron Hill? Jesse Litsch? It's actually quite pathetic when you compare his records against other GMs.

That's a pretty convenient selection to trash him with.

Best Trade? Troy Glaus for an easily replaced 2B and an overpaid underperforming pitcher? that's WAY beter than Hillenbrand. The Overbay deal is considerably better too. Ted Lilly for Bobby Kielty? Much better.


Best signing? AJ Burnett. Or, if you prefer the cheap find, Scott Downs, Jese Carlson (so far) Matt Stairs (the first time)....why cite Zaun?

Best draftee? Shaun Marcum ain't half bad. Travis Snider isn't established in the majors but being a top 5 prospect in the majors ought to count for something.

Your choice of examples, with all due respect, betrays your bias.

That's not to say that the choices i offered make him a top tier guy, but the choice you offer are cooking the discussion to get a pre-determined conclusion.

greenfrog - Thursday, January 29 2009 @ 11:58 PM EST (#195976) #
"Yes, of course, you can go back further and talk about the return for various trades or who shey should have drafted"

WillRain: you and I have a completely different perspective. My point isn't so much that we should be looking at the off-season before 2008 to unravel the Shannon Stewart saga, or going further back to dissect dozens of transactions involving left fielders. All I'm saying is that the GM charts the course for the team, and is therefore ultimately responsible for the team's performance over time. Simple. His or her decisions accumulate (ideally based on some basic strategy or vision for the team), which in turn have consequences that necessitate further decisions.

In my view, often when you look at a dilemma in isolation (such as Stewart/Johnson/Wilkerson/Mench), you're missing the larger point: why was this even an issue? It's like focusing on Lehman Bros' investment decisions in the summer and fall of 2008 instead of looking at its overall strategy and lending practices over the previous five or ten years. Which approach do you think provides the best way to evaluate its performance? In contrast, the media doesn't much bother with banks (like at least one Canadian major) that steered clear of the subprime debacle, because there's nothing much to debate. They made good proactive decisions. End of story.
TamRa - Friday, January 30 2009 @ 12:08 AM EST (#195977) #
I sure hope you're not talking about the Rays having a 2-3 year window. The Rays are one of the youngest teams in baseball and the majority of their core players are 30 and under and years away from becoming a free agent. The Rays are built to contend now and well into the future.

You set me off on one of my multi-hour time wasters.

If you look at the Ray's prosect list it's heavily skewed to pitchers. And yet their rotation is full and so the benifit of depth is only useful to the extent you can trade it for something that pans out.

But just looking at the maintence of the present team...

The 2009 team is going to cost them about $70 million

the 2010 team faces a hole to fill in LF (re-signing Crawford is going to start at $12 mil per probably, maybe more, or else losing him and signing or trading for someone likely not as good)

They also will have to solve closer (my guess is they let Balfour close if he has another good year and put neimann in the pen) ; they will need two bench players and two more relievers. They might deal Sonanstine and promote Davis, or alternately trade Davis to fill a hole. If the bring back Crawford they are gonna get up around $75 million

As they look ahead to 2011, they will have to fill 1B, DH, and re-sign Balfour or find another closer. Hellickson might be ready which would maybe allow them to deal the Arb-eligible Sonanstine. The will also have Upton, Garza, Iwamura, Navarro, Bartlett, and a couple of other players in arbitration. To keep the same squad together would run them up around $90 million which means almost certainly the team is going to have some holes where they have to cut costs.

In 2012 you can figure probably Beckham has taken over SS anf Brignac has established himself at 2B but even so their 11 most expensive players add up to easily over $50 million without counting whatever they spent to address LF, 1B, and DH in prvious seasons.

and that's just the next three years.

I seriously don't get the Rays-worship among Jays fans. Their biggest strength is the same as our biggest strength - more SP than they can use. both teams stand to have great rotations for years and excess pitchers to trade. We have a better pen now and one that projects into the future better (including younger pitchers and prospects).

Both have a young offensive potential star (Longoria/Snider)

Both have 2 veteran hitters possibly leaving after 2010

The rest of the offense is certainly compareable (Upton could potentially go off the charts but otherwise, the Jays are probably better)

I respect the Rays, they are definately in our weight class, but over the next say, five years, i'm not remotely intimidated by them.

 
TamRa - Friday, January 30 2009 @ 12:13 AM EST (#195978) #
All I'm saying is that the GM charts the course for the team, and is therefore ultimately responsible for the team's performance over time. Simple. His or her decisions accumulate (ideally based on some basic strategy or vision for the team), which in turn have consequences that necessitate further decisions.

Absolutely.

why was this even an issue?


Because no GM does the job perfectly over a period of time. Why was CF an issue for the Red Sox in 2008? Or catcher? why was CF a problem in NY? Or the rotation? Why did the mets have to resort to Fernando Tatis? Why did the Indians have issues at 2B? Or in their rotation?

All teams have issues, even those run by the top tier GM.

it's the nature of the game.

greenfrog - Friday, January 30 2009 @ 12:51 AM EST (#195980) #
"Why was CF an issue for the Red Sox in 2008? Or catcher? why was CF a problem in NY? Or the rotation? Why did the mets have to resort to Fernando Tatis? Why did the Indians have issues at 2B? Or in their rotation?"

Interestingly enough, all playoff teams within the last few years.
zeppelinkm - Friday, January 30 2009 @ 07:25 AM EST (#195981) #

JP Riccardi didn't need to sign any of those potential guys for LF last year. He should have just put Lind out there to mash against RHP and Johnson to mash against LHP and to spell occasionally in CF/RF for Rios/Wells.  I never liked the Stewart signing from day 1. I came around to it after much well laid out reasoning was provided, but all off season I was harping about how the Jays should be giving Lind a chance. Would he have been their savior? Certainly not, but his output was significantly better then what we got out of LF.

Riccardi doesn't seem to ever have faith in kids until he is literally forced to put one in and see if he sinks or swims. He almost always, without fail, would rather give opportunity to a "proven-vet". I think Ohka, Zambrano, Stewart, Wilkerson, and Mench, just from the last 2 years, when he had viable in house candidates which were younger, indicate this preference pretty clearly. 

At least this year he's singing the right tune... 

zeppelinkm - Friday, January 30 2009 @ 09:11 AM EST (#195982) #

After looking back at some of Riccardis earlier years, maybe his veteran fetish is a more recent phenomenon. And to start 2008 I realize that the Jays had Thomas slated in as DH and Stairs needed to play somewhere, but at the very least when they did release Thomas, Lind should have been given the full time job at that time (approx April 19th).

 

Chuck - Friday, January 30 2009 @ 10:11 AM EST (#195984) #

Lind should have been given the full time job at that time (approx April 19th).

If you suffer from masochistic tendencies, you can dig into the archives and wade through the innumerable "Free Adam Lind" threads from last season. Let's hope that this off-season's sluggish news cycles don't serve as a reason for all of us to head down that old path again. I'm sure it's just a matter of time before we find something new to obsess about and flog to death. Maybe Ricciardi can sign another retread for the AAA roster.

John Northey - Friday, January 30 2009 @ 10:34 AM EST (#195985) #
I think a key item is for the GM to set up backup's for as many positions as possible.  Ideally (perfect world) you would have top prospects at all positions in AA (ready to step in if someone goes down long term) and AAAA guys in AAA ready to step in for a short term replacement.  Realistically that ain't gonna happen, even with a budget like the Yankees have.

The Jays backups...
CA: JPA, Jeroloman, Thigpen - all in AAA, 2 prospects and one very suspect to go with vets Barajas/Barrett
1B: Dopirak (AAA), Cooper (AA) plus Cannon (AAA if still here) and any other DH/1B types backing up Overbay
2B: Hill/Inglett/Scutaro/McDonald cover the majors nicely with Campbell in AAA playing at 3B as well
3B: Campbell in AAA, Aherns and others in low minors, Rolen/Bautista in majors
SS: After Scutaro/McDonald it is a long way down for prospects - red flag spot
OF: Lind/Wells/Rios/Snider are here for years to come (unless traded) which is good as I don't see anything close to the majors

Pitching we all know is backed up and fully used this year for starters, with Cecil/Ray/Romero's/Mills filling the AAA rotation along with recently added guys on injury rehab (Maroth, Clement).  The pen is so deep there aren't enough roster spots for them all.

JP has filled in the pitching hole - we'll see how well in April with McGowan & Marcum out and AJ gone.  The lineup has backups for CA, 2B, 3B (sort of), potentially at 1B (depending on Dopirak and Cooper) but not any depth for OF/SS if anyone goes down (one player added to the OF/DH though would provide Snider as backup rather than counted on).  SS is the biggest worry as if Scutaro goes down we have McDonald everyday again and with his bat that is just scary and if both are down things could get ugly fast (unless Hill can move over and do the job). 
Ozzieball - Friday, January 30 2009 @ 11:06 AM EST (#195987) #
I think Ohka, Zambrano, ..., when he had viable in house candidates which were younger, indicate this preference pretty clearly.

Buwwha?

Ohka/Zambrano/Thomson were brought in for the exact reason that Riccardi didn't want to enter the year relying on both Marcum and McGowan for 200 innings. Throwing either M into the rotation from day one would have been a cataclysmically dumb move, so Riccardi picked up a couple of shlubs to throw against the wall to make sure that either McGowan or Marcum would not only be able to handle the reduced workload, but also to make sure that they would be ready. As it stands Marcum ended up with a fatigue-related injury.

It's like Reed Johnson all over again: Riccardi is getting jumped for making the right decisions.
Mick Doherty - Friday, January 30 2009 @ 12:50 PM EST (#195988) #

why was CF a problem in NY?

Because after DiMaggio, Mantle, Murcer and B. Williams (not to mention Rickey for two years), the expectations for a CF in the Bronx are preternaturally high.

TamRa - Friday, January 30 2009 @ 01:04 PM EST (#195989) #

Interestingly enough, all playoff teams within the last few years.


That wasn't a coincidence.


John Northey - Friday, January 30 2009 @ 01:50 PM EST (#195992) #
An interesting side note.  FanGraphs had a story about guys getting shots before turning 21 (Snider had 80 PA's, the article is focused on 100+).
http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/justin-uptons-future/

It shows a list of the 20 players who reached the majors and had 100+ AB's before their 21st birthday since 1980 (includes former Jays Lloyd Moseby, Roberto Alomar, and Ruben Sierra).  Of those 20 just 1 (Jose Oquendo) didn't make an All-Star team while 3 are locks for the HOF and 2 others are listed as likely HOF'ers.  Wow. 

While Snider doesn't qualify for that group (and I don't have time to adjust it to guys with 50+ AB's) it sure is interesting and gives one hope.

Mylegacy - Friday, January 30 2009 @ 02:12 PM EST (#195993) #
Snider turns 21 on Feb 2nd 2009. If that was April 16th just two and a half months later - Snider would have his 100 at bats and be in that group.
John Northey - Friday, January 30 2009 @ 03:59 PM EST (#195994) #
Pulling hair out over some work stuff so break time!

Since 1980 there have been 144 guys who made the majors during their age 20 or earlier season (using July 1st as the cut off date).  Cutting to just those who made it at 20 we have 115 players (hard to make it pre-20) 66 of whom were mainly hitters plus Rick Ankiel (242 IP, 672 AB).  Of those 66, 24 made the All-Star game at least once.  15 of the 49 pitchers made it to the All-Star game at least once. 

15 hitters had over 5000 AB's (14 of those made the All-Star game), 38 over 2000 (23 All-Stars), 50 over 1000 (24 AS) plus Greg Maddux with 1591 AB's.

The hitters include some who were actually 21 when they played like John Olerud (age 20 season, called up in September after turning 21) but it does give a nice quick view of the potential.  This quick and dirty method suggests a 36% shot at Snider being an All-Star just by virtue of making the majors in his age 20 season. 

For those saying 'so what'...
Age 21: 185 hitters, 62 AS = 33.5%
Age 22: 321 hitters, 80 AS = 24.9%
Age 23: 475 hitters, 63 AS = 13.3% (big drop)
Age 24: 496 hitters, 56 AS = 11.3%
Age 25: 388 hitters, 11 AS =  2.8% (big drop)
Age 26: 238 hitters, 8 AS = 3.4%
Age 27+: 319 hitters, 8 AS = 2.5%

So to be an All-Star level player you pretty much have to make it for at least a cup of coffee by age 24.  To have a shot at greatness you gotta be there by 22.  21 and younger makes you as close to a lock as it gets in baseball.
John Northey - Friday, January 30 2009 @ 04:09 PM EST (#195995) #
Note: for the age 27+ guys 3 are from Japan - Ichiro, Fukudome, and Hideki Matsui.  Melvin Mora is the only 27+ outside of Ichiro & Matsui to appear in more than one ASG.

Of the 14 guys to make it to 10+ ASG who started since 1980 we have 3 teenagers, 2 20 year olds, 2 at 21, 4 at 22, 1 at 23, and 2 at 24.  Ichiro will be added to this list most likely in 2 years (8 times so far) but outside of him the highest ASG total is 4 for Paul Lo Duca and 3 for Sabo, Kruk, and Varitek.  5 others have 2 appearances. 

Just a bigger emphasis on how vital it is (for hitters) to make the majors young.

Oh, FYI, 17 teenagers made it as hitters.  8 had 5000+ AB's, 4 more were 1000+, just one was under 100 (Ricky Seilheimer).  7 were All-Stars (41%) with 4 HOF locks (Griffey, Sheffield, I-Rod, A-Rod = 23.5%).
John Northey - Friday, January 30 2009 @ 04:20 PM EST (#195996) #
Yeah, yeah, should've wrote an article.

12 teenage pitchers - 5 all stars, but no HOF'ers (Valenzuela & Gooden both looked like locks but fell apart).  10+ ASG for 3 guys aged 21, 21, and 24 (Glavine, Clemens, Johnson).  For guys with more than 1 ASG appearance Kazuhiro Sasaki is the only one who debuted over age 26 (he was 32), then Roberto Hernandez at 26 with everyone else 25 or less.  6 guys over 30 made it to the ASG (3 were Japanese, 2 were Cuban I think plus Brendan Donnelly).  Another Japanese player made it who came up at 28, 3 guys at 27, 7 at 26, with the rest of the 232 AS's being 25 or less (20 were 25).  Just 2 pitchers who debuted after age 25 made it to 2000 IP, 14 over 1000 IP.

51 pitchers debuted at 30+, 536 at 26+ with 1704 coming up at 25 or less.

Age isn't as vital for pitchers but it is a big factor none the less.

robertdudek - Friday, January 30 2009 @ 04:24 PM EST (#195997) #
I'm not intending to pick on Will Rain - many of the participants in this thread do similar things -  but here are two of the many statements he/she makes in this thread:

Best signing? AJ Burnett. Or, if you prefer the cheap find, Scott Downs, Jese Carlson (so far) Matt Stairs (the first time)....why cite Zaun?

Pena - blind luck, he wasn't even the first FA 1B signed (to a minor league deal) that off-season. NO ONE, least of all Friedman, saw 47 HRs comine

My question is... why is one signing luck, while another (e.g. Carlson or Downs) a candidate for "best" signing? I don't know about you but I didn't see Downs or Carlson's performance in 2008 coming - and I doubt there were many baseball people that did.

It is one thing to systematically offer opinions (about every move, not selected ones) before the fact and then allow the results to be judged; it is quite another to offer opinions with the benefit of hindsight, using whatever lens of interpretation that one needs to "support" one's opinions. The latter exercise is little more than sophistry: one can shift the criteria of judgment as one pleases.

In my view there are only two legitimate options:

A) Results speak. You do not opine that a particular move was lucky or that it was the result of well thought out design. Something works out - someone gets the credit. Something doesn't work out - someone gets the blame. If you have a sufficiently objective method (though I haven't seen one yet for judging GMs), you can tally up all the good and bad and come up with a summation.

B) You build an evaluation system that is forward looking, i.e. predictive in nature. The system would be objective and based on generally accepted principles. I've yet to see anything that is remotely adequate to the task of evaluating a complex job such as the GM of a baseball team.

So where does that leave us? Nowhere.

But even before we create a scale to judge GMs, there has to be a lot more work done in defining and weighing the relative importance of the various tasks a GM faces. Even then - widely divergent contexts may render any sort of comparison meaningless. It is simply impossible to compare the work of the Yankees GM and the Pirates GM because the two jobs have little in common and this fact colours every decision they make. In a sense, the performance of  Cashman and Epstein can only be compared to each other, since no one else has close to the resources to build a baseball team that these two do.








Mike Green - Friday, January 30 2009 @ 04:49 PM EST (#195998) #
Yes.  Worse yet, we lack the information to make any reasonable objective judgment about many important moves (at the time of the moves).  For instance, the Wells extension of 2006 provides for annual salary (including bonus) of over $20 million beginning in 2010.  The advisability of this move is significantly affected by commitments, or lack therof, between Ricciardi and ownership regarding long-term payroll. 
greenfrog - Friday, January 30 2009 @ 05:10 PM EST (#195999) #
I think it's OK to debate individual moves. Most people realize that this kind of informal evaluation isn't a science--there is clearly a lot of hindsight and subjectivity involved (which is what makes it fun--and sometimes tedious--to debate). On the other hand, I'm skeptical of "scientifically" evaluating a GM by aggregating dozens (or hundreds) of transactions. There is so much (and so much behind the scenes) to successful leadership of an organization. And, as I've already noted, a good GM may create better opportunities for himself over time (by making prudent decisions earlier in his tenure), which is hard to quantify.

For me, a team's on-field performance is ultimately the most important factor (one reason I admire Pat Gillick--the man gets it done), while allowing for the limitations a GM can face (such as limited payroll, excessive injuries, and stiff competition). I also think it's possible for a GM to succeed over time despite some losing/rebuilding seasons: I would rather cheer for a team that loses 100 games for three seasons, then wins 95 games for three seasons, than a perennial 86-win team.

I would also factor in whether a GM improves the general state of the organization--front office talent, coaching, prospects, scouting (in North America and internationally), etc. There's a big difference between a .500 team with a farm system in the bottom third and a .500 team with top-flight prospects.
brent - Friday, January 30 2009 @ 06:50 PM EST (#196000) #
Everyone debates JP's moves here endlessly, so this is a chance to look at more than just the AL East. Who should be fired? I think Colletti and Sabean should be first to go. We complain about JP throwing away a few million on role players; these guys burn tens of millions on bad choices.
TamRa - Friday, January 30 2009 @ 07:23 PM EST (#196001) #
Best signing? AJ Burnett. Or, if you prefer the cheap find, Scott Downs, Jese Carlson (so far) Matt Stairs (the first time)....why cite Zaun?

Pena - blind luck, he wasn't even the first FA 1B signed (to a minor league deal) that off-season. NO ONE, least of all Friedman, saw 47 HRs comine

My question is... why is one signing luck, while another (e.g. Carlson or Downs) a candidate for "best" signing?


The context of the point being replied to. I said in the Friedman discussion that I didn't really care whether you called Pena/Carlson luck or skill, as long as you were consistant. Why would you think i am now, in the very same thread, being inconsistant about that? i think I specifically said in one of those posts that i considered Carlson, downs, Zaun, and similar player acquisitions to be luck.

In the context of the Friedman discussion, I obviously think that whatever measure applies to Pena applies to Downs.

BUT

In the context of a person saying "What was JP's best signing?" the question on the table is NOT "which is luck and which is skill?" the question on the table is "Which was the best acquisition via free agency?" The question of whether signing Downswas dumb luck or skill is irrelevant to the fact that it was a better signing than Zaun (the signing that he pointed to) - in point of fact, I think Zaun was luck too.


It is one thing to systematically offer opinions (about every move, not selected ones) before the fact and then allow the results to be judged; it is quite another to offer opinions with the benefit of hindsight, using whatever lens of interpretation that one needs to "support" one's opinions. The latter exercise is little more than sophistry: one can shift the criteria of judgment as one pleases.

I absolutely agree and have made the same point many times myself . Again, in fact, (I think) in this very thread (or maybe in the other active one) when I referanced the hindsight opinions applied to Prokopec/Gagne.

I am human and do fail but my goal is to always speak to a move in terms of what it looked like based on the info available at the time.There are deals that actually worked out, or were a loser for both sides, that I hated at the time and hate now because, in my own evaluation, what was publicly known at the time argued against the deal (albeit one has to allow for the possibility that information existed the fans couldn't have known about)

An example of that is Felipe Lopez. At the time of the deal, i hated it. Based on what we could have known at the time, I hated it. In the interveneing years it was reported he wasn't a hard wroker and had coachablity issues and so forth and to a degree my opinion has softened - but not because of hindsight (he hasn't been the player I thought he would be) but because information came out that JP had that I didn't have.

That aside, you are playing my song.

In my view there are only two legitimate options:

A) Results speak....
B) You build an evaluation system that is forward looking


I try - admittedly imperfectly - to stick with B.

I've yet to see anything that is remotely adequate to the task of evaluating a complex job such as the GM of a baseball team.

Admittedly.

But even before we create a scale to judge GMs....


I won't quote the qhole paragraph, but I think there is much sense in what you said there. It seems  to me that even if you cam up with an adaquate system...even one that someone factored in 30 different situations...you still wouldn't get wide acceptance of it because fans are notoriously subjective.

what that ends up being is that most default to a bastardized (non-objective) version of (A) which is, IMO, whollyly lacking in credibility.


TamRa - Friday, January 30 2009 @ 07:35 PM EST (#196002) #
Everyone debates JP's moves here endlessly, so this is a chance to look at more than just the AL East. Who should be fired? I think Colletti and Sabean should be first to go. We complain about JP throwing away a few million on role players; these guys burn tens of millions on bad choices.

I don't think those are bad choices.

I have long thought Dan O'Dowd was way over-rated but that World Series run likely bought him a few more years. Jim Bowden is probably an obvious choice. I'm personally not impressed by Cashman but how much skill does it take to write checks.

I suppose one might argue that Kevin Towers has done more bad that good for a few years now.

One problem I have with such an evaluation is that I don't think ANY GM unless he is a complete unmistakeable train wreck (Bavesi, for instance) should be fired in the first five years.

That takes seven of the other 13 AL GMs off the table, and 8 of the 16 NL general managers.


TamRa - Friday, January 30 2009 @ 07:45 PM EST (#196003) #
I would rather cheer for a team that loses 100 games for three seasons, then wins 95 games for three seasons, than a perennial 86-win team.

This is a seldom referred to but very relevant divide among all sports fans. I take the opposite position (because I think it's easier for chance and circumstances to leverage the 86 win team into the playoffs in any given year than it is to turn a 100 loss team into a 95 win team regularly) but the point is - people with you view and people with my view are very seldom going to agree on the state of a team.

greenfrog - Friday, January 30 2009 @ 09:26 PM EST (#196004) #
I think this divide is exacerbated in the AL East, where the difference between an 86-win team and a playoff spot (typically 10 wins or so) has become a veritable chasm. It seems to me that gaining those extra 10 wins requires a big leap in talent, as the Jays have discovered during the Ash and Ricciardi regimes. These days, being tolerably good in the AL East doesn't even get you into the playoff race.
John Northey - Saturday, January 31 2009 @ 08:41 AM EST (#196005) #
Of course, the Jays have only been at 95+ wins 4 times (1985, 1987, 1992, 1993) with just 1 time being over 96 wins (1985 with 99 wins).  Getting over 95 wins is not an easy task and requires both talent and luck.  Staying over 95 for years at a time requires talent, luck, and a killer payroll. 

The 'glory years' for the Jays was the 1983 to 1993 period.  During that stretch the worst the Jays did was 86 wins, getting total wins of 86-89 6 times and 90-99 wins 5 times (just once over 96).  The last 3 years (viewed as the years JP & the Jays were actively trying to make the playoffs ) the win totals have been 87-83-86.  Safe to say the Jays are a notch below that glory era, but if Snider is for real and can add 5 wins vs the mess in left these past few years (2 year of sub 100 OPS+) this team would be back to the level it was for that glory era.

greenfrog - Saturday, January 31 2009 @ 10:28 AM EST (#196006) #
Some more context: Pat Gillick was the Jays' GM from 1978 to 1994. Under his direction, while he was slowly transforming an expansion team into a contender, the Jays initially lost big: in his first five seasons, the team lost 102, 109, 95, 69 (in a strike-shortened season when the team went 37-69), and 84 games.

Over his remaining 12 seasons as GM, Gillick managed 11 straight winning seasons in which the Jays won 86+ games every year and 91+ wins five times, made the playoffs five times, and (of course) won the WS twice.

So sometimes it's worth it to suffer through some losing seasons, at least if you have a GM that knows how to build a championship-calibre team.

Payroll was definitely a factor later in his tenure, when the Jays had the highest (I think) one in baseball, but still: what a track record. Consider also that in the 11 years since he retired as the Jays' GM, he has brought three teams into the playoffs a total of six times (the Orioles, Mariners and Phillies). That's 11 playoff appearances and 3 WS wins in 27 years, all for teams other than the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets and Dodgers. Remarkable.
jgadfly - Saturday, January 31 2009 @ 02:16 PM EST (#196007) #

"That's 11 playoff appearances and 3 WS wins in 27 years, all for teams other than the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets and Dodgers. Remarkable."

  So Greenfrog , does this not beg a question ?  a topic ?  ...  HOF yes ?  HOF no ? ... my apologies if this has already been discussed somewhere previously but I don't recall it being so ...

Dave Till - Saturday, January 31 2009 @ 06:28 PM EST (#196008) #
But even before we create a scale to judge GMs, there has to be a lot more work done in defining and weighing the relative importance of the various tasks a GM faces.

Yep. And what makes it even worse is that so much of what a GM does is done behind closed doors. If J.P. Ricciardi doesn't sign a player, we'll never know whether he (a) doesn't like the player, (b) didn't think of signing the player, or (c) was told by the player's agent that his client doesn't want to play in Toronto.

I've always maintained - semi-facetiously - that J.P.'s greatest weakness as a general manager is that he just isn't lucky enough. The 2008 Jays were actually a pretty good team, when all is said and done: despite all the injuries, the bad luck, and the sudden (though not surprising) aging of Thomas and Stairs, they won 86 games. And should have won more, if Pythagoras is to be believed. And, had they won or come very close, they might have drawn enough extra fans to pay for A.J.'s return, or to sign somebody to fill his spot. But that didn't happen.

While I'm here: I hereby predict that the Yankees ("The House of Steinbrenner's Travelling Legends of Baseball") will not win anything in 2009. Sure, they'll finish ahead of the Jays, and they might pass the ex-Devil-Rays (who won't have all five starters stay healthy next year). But they won't beat Boston, and they won't win the wild card. The problem: their core lineup is old, old, old. They're on a treadmill; some of their core players - Jeter, Posada, Rivera, Mussina, Pettitte - are well into their thirties or even forties. Unless they can sign three free agents a year, they're in trouble.
Chuck - Saturday, January 31 2009 @ 07:27 PM EST (#196009) #
Dave, Mussina retired.
greenfrog - Saturday, January 31 2009 @ 07:31 PM EST (#196010) #
Last year was definitely a "what might have been" season. Although Tampa and Boston both fielded excellent teams--the Jays could have won 94 games and still missed the playoffs. But when I think about the slew of injuries to Janssen, McGowan, Rolen, Wells, McDonald, Hill (I might be missing one or two others), plus the Pythagorean thing...

With better health, a bit more luck, and an average-to-slightly-above LF and DH, the Jays might well have won 95+ games.
Glevin - Saturday, January 31 2009 @ 08:01 PM EST (#196012) #
"Best Trade? Troy Glaus for an easily replaced 2B and an overpaid underperforming pitcher? that's WAY beter than Hillenbrand. The Overbay deal is considerably better too. Ted Lilly for Bobby Kielty? Much better."

"Best signing? AJ Burnett. Or, if you prefer the cheap find, Scott Downs, Jese Carlson (so far) Matt Stairs (the first time)"

You have to be joking. You are trying to classify these pretty mediocre moves (Glaus for Hudson and Bautista was a wash and I think almost all GMs would take Bush straight up over Overbay right now) as excellent while downplaying other GM's genuine excellent moves as easy or lucky...(Never mind that signing relief pitchers who turn out great is something every GM does and actually is largely lucky).

"That's not to say that the choices i offered make him a top tier guy, but the choice you offer are cooking the discussion to get a pre-determined conclusion."

The examples you give are no better. I will say this again without  any Jays examples. Ricciardi has not made one great trade, made one great free agent signing or drafted one great player after seven years. The Jays have not got a Carlos Quentin, a Travis Hafner, or a Carlos Guillen for nothing. Ricciardi has not signed a David Ortiz or Carlos Pena or Frank Thomas for next to nothing. The Jays have not drafted a Nick Markakis, a Dustin Pedroia, or a Curtis Granderson. The great moves that almost every other GM will make seems to elude Ricciardi. I am not talking about getting a pretty good player for another pretty good player. I am not talking about drafting a guy that is a useful major leaguer. I am not talking about signing a decent reliever. I am talking about great moves.
TamRa - Saturday, January 31 2009 @ 08:37 PM EST (#196014) #
Meh. I still say it depends on your definitions. It's a preconcieved conclusion looking around for arguments to support it.

For one simple example, you point to Markakis, Pedroia, whoever...and refuse to acknowledge the potential that Snider is the player you are talking about.

Besides that point, is it better that the sum total of your moves works out to the positive side of the ledger, or is it betther that you draft one GREAT player and waste a lot of other picks....trade for one GREAT player and lose on most of the rest of your deals?

An example - Tampa's previous GM stole Kamir from the mets - a GREAT player acquisition by any measure...but was he a good GM? Did his teams win? did it make any of his other player acquisition moves better?


zeppelinkm - Sunday, February 01 2009 @ 08:01 AM EST (#196015) #

Glevin I really don't think you can call picking up Glaus for a good 2B and an extremely average pitcher a bad trade. Sure, it's not highway robbery, but that was a great trade for the Jays. Both Batista and Hudson were redundant and expendable players for the Jays.

The trade allowed them to plug one position with an elite level player - Glaus has appeared in 4 AS games, won 2 silver sluggers and has a career OPS+ of 121.  With Hill in the wings ready to take 2B Hudson was very expendable.  Infact it's exactly the kind of trade a lot of posters on here say would never happen - "You can't just add in quantity and expect to get a quality player", when in reality that is what this trade really was. Hudson (I will bet my life savings) will never have another season as good as any as he's already had whereas Hill has already posted one season as good as Hudson's career year, and at a considerably younger age to boot. You could have done much, much, worse then that. Calling that trade "medicore" is really selling that one short.

And WillRain: In evaluating GM's you talked about how Friedman shouldn't get credit for doing what he should have done and gotten a good player in return for Young. I disagree with this, just because often times just DOING the right thing is the hardest part - many GM's could have been in that position and done nothing at all and held onto Young.  Taking that risk and "doing" the right thing deserves credit just for being done.  There is no guarentee that either player would pan out, but Friedman definitely took a gamble and it paid off.

 

jerjapan - Sunday, February 01 2009 @ 10:46 AM EST (#196016) #
Ricciardi has not made one great trade, made one great free agent signing or drafted one great player after seven years. The Jays have not got a Carlos Quentin, a Travis Hafner, or a Carlos Guillen for nothing. Ricciardi has not signed a David Ortiz or Carlos Pena or Frank Thomas for next to nothing. The Jays have not drafted a Nick Markakis, a Dustin Pedroia, or a Curtis Granderson. The great moves that almost every other GM will make seems to elude Ricciardi. I am not talking about getting a pretty good player for another pretty good player. I am not talking about drafting a guy that is a useful major leaguer. I am not talking about signing a decent reliever. I am talking about great moves.

Glevin, you nailed it on this.  As far as I'm concerned, outside of the box / aggressive thinking is required to hit those homeruns you are talking about - and while Riccardi has some strengths, he's a conservative GM in a division that requires an aggressive visionary or a huge budget - or both.  Here's hoping Travis Snider breaks that trend.
Glevin - Sunday, February 01 2009 @ 11:37 AM EST (#196017) #
"Glevin I really don't think you can call picking up Glaus for a good 2B and an extremely average pitcher a bad trade. Sure, it's not highway robbery, but that was a great trade for the Jays. Both Batista and Hudson were redundant and expendable players for the Jays. "

I never said it was a bad trade, but to call it a great trade is absurd. Glaus had two years with the Jays were he was a good offensive 3Bman and a poor defensive one while Hudson had 3 years with Arizona where he was an above average hitting 2Bman an an excellent defensive one. Combine that with 200+ useful innings from Batista before netting Arizona a 2nd round draft pick and the trade looks not bad. Now, combine that with a few other factors.
1) Arizona had Chad Tracy waiting to play 3B and no 2Bman.
2) Arizona paid Hudson and Batista around $17 million for 4 total years while the Jays paid Glaus $20 million for 2 years
3) The Jays had Koskie, Hillenbrand, and Hinske anyway and didn't particularly need a 3Bman. They then had to trade Koskie for nothing while also eating most of his salary because of this deal. So, the Jays paid something like $25 million dollars e over 2 player years while Arizona paid $17 for 4 players years.
4) Freeing up money allowed Arizona to sign Eric Byrnes the same day.

So, clearly, the move fit into Arizona's plans smoothly while the Jays were forced to adjust on the run.

I have problems with VORP as I do with many statistics, but if you want a quick glance at player value it is worth looking at.
In 2006-Hudson was 71st in MLB, Glaus was 75th
in 2007-Hudson was 65th, Glaus was 122nd


Even if the money was equal (which it wasn't), how exactly is this a great trade as this doesn't even include defense where Hudson won gold gloves in 2006 and 2007 and Glaus was at least below average defensively?

SheldonL - Sunday, February 01 2009 @ 12:21 PM EST (#196019) #
J.P. came in with a platform to compete with a $50 mil payroll; and at the time he would have been able to because inflation in baseball has really picked up since but we all forget that he had a huge albatross in Delgado's contract. People also fail to realize that our stars from the 2001 season really stank after that for the rest of their careers. Shannon Stewart had a couple of good seasons and has since fallen off the map. He definitely wasn't worth the $6 million a year that he then thought he was worth. Brad Fullmer (who I love!!) absolutely stank after 2002. Jose Cruz won a Gold Glove with SanFran but did absolutely nothing with the bat ever again. Alex Gonzalez likewise had his career crumble. I remember being very upset when we paid the hated Yankees some $13 mil to take Mondesi, a move that possibly burned any bridge between Ricciardi and Cashman! It was similar to paying the bank $50,000 to foreclose your mortgage!
Billy Koch imploded after we dealt him for Eric Hinske which turned out to be a hell of a deal!

J.P. currently has a pretty good core of young prospects in Arencibia, Cecil, Snider, Jeroloman, Purcey and Lind. Catchers are hard to develop so we really shouldn't expect the world out of either Jeroloman or Arencibia. But his inability to produce a major-league calibre catcher mustn't be considered a failure since hitting catchers are very rare let alone those who can also field well!

He's drafted some very capable MLB players in Hill, Marcum, Janssen and an incredible pick in Litsch who are currently major parts of the current roster.
He also parlayed some of his picks - Bush, Adam Petersen, Zack Jackson - in trades for Overbay and Hillenbrand.
So yes, he's hasn't drafted a player of Markakis' abilities but I think Marcum and Hill are superb picks so the argument that he doesn't draft well is moot.
As for the Overbay and Glaus trade, you needn't rip off the other GM in trades because that burns bridges for future acquisitions. I think Milwaukee is extremely pleased with the 2 very good seasons they've gotten out of Bush and I think we should be pleased with the one phenomenal season we got out Overbay. Both players could be very good but even this late into both players' career, they are still rather inconsistent. As for Glaus, we desperately needed a power bat and believe it or not, Wells would not have had the seasons he had if not for Glaus. At that stage in his career (perhaps still), Wells needed a major power hitter hitting behind him to produce. No clear winner there... btw, Miguel Batista hasn't provided 200 quality innings since his first go-around with the D-Backs.

J.P's also done a good job of signing young players. Somehow, he's done the impossible by convincing Roy Halladay to be with us this entire time at a below-market price. He signed Wells and Hinske to very payroll-friendly deals in 2002. One panned out enough to negate the loss of the other. Since, he's locked up Rios and Hill to very good deals.
So that dismisses any charges of a lack of creativity!

In his forays into the FA market, he's signed Burnett to what turned out to be a very good deal, he's also signed vital role players like Speier, Miguel Batista, Catalanotto, Bengie Molina (one electric year for our catchers; and Bengie was pretty good too), Dave berg and Mike Bordick.

People seem to talk ill of his trades but he's made some pretty good ones. He traded Adam Petersen for Shea Hillenbrand when Delgado walked; and although Hillenbrand was no David Ortiz, he produced enough for the price $2.6 mil and given what we gave up for him. Without Hillenbrand just imagine how bad that offence would have been.

He had to deal Orlando Hudson before arbitration made us pay through the nose for him so he packaged him and Batista for Glaus who provided us with 2 very good years.
Glaus was subsequently dealt for two years of Rolen and granted so far we haven't gotten what we've paid for but Rolen does have two more years to either become J.P's biggest bust or another gem.
The Kielty for Lilly deal was absolutely genius and very good for us.

The staff has also done a good job giving a guys like Reed Johnson, Josh Towers, Joe Inglett and Chacin a chance. Yes, they had their horrible years but they also had some very good seasons for us.

J.P's biggest impact has been bolstering the bullpen. Carlson came out of nowhere this year; Downs came out of no where to be a very good starter in 2006 and one of the best relievers in the game the past two years; Tallet and Wolfe have ben phenomenal too.

Now, we'll discuss some of J.P's more questionable moves. But thankfully, unlike some really bad GM's of years past (i.e. Cashman, New York Islanders' Mike Milbury, Sabean) there aren't too many given the number of years of J.P's reign.
Frank Thomas was an impulse buy and in very bad taste in retrospect. Especially considering we paid a very hefty sum for a season and change. Koskie was a bad contract for a team on a $50 mil budget but thankfully we got Tallet out of that mess.
In retrospect, letting Escobar and Delgado go were bad choices. Both had spent 10 years+ in the organization and we very willing to re-sign. Escobar wanted a 3 year $18 million deal and he turned out to pitch extremely well for that period but given the payroll and the enigmatic career of Escobar, it was a risk that would have been ill-advised.
Delgado's departure hurt the most because only one year later, Rogers announced $210 million for the next 3 years! Delgado was very willing to compromise for a deal in the $11-3 million range but I guess we're not sure who to blame here Rogers Inc. or Ricciardi/Godfrey.

But I think that given everything, J.P has been a good GM. I won't say excellent because we don't have a ring to show for it or an uber-great signing/trade. Nevertheless, he's been good and has always put forward a team capable of winning around 80-85 games and with a little bit of luck could have pushed for 90 games and a wild card berth.

I think that as Jays fans, we have to really temper our expectations and understand that we're a mid-level team with hope but that there are plenty of such teams and so we can't do anything but sit on pins and hope for the best!
92-93 - Sunday, February 01 2009 @ 12:50 PM EST (#196020) #
Thoughts on Matt Murton? He seems to be out of options, and may be useful in spelling Lind and Snider vs. LHP. Maybe Beane-Ricciardi can get together for another classic, my excess junk for yours type deal.
Glevin - Sunday, February 01 2009 @ 01:26 PM EST (#196021) #
"Thoughts on Matt Murton? He seems to be out of options, and may be useful in spelling Lind and Snider vs. LHP. Maybe Beane-Ricciardi can get together for another classic, my excess junk for yours type deal."

Sounds good. I liked the Lane signing as a low-risk one with upside and would love to see that complimented with some other similar players. Murton would not be my first choice (Chris Dickerson!) but he could be a good pickup.
TamRa - Sunday, February 01 2009 @ 02:13 PM EST (#196022) #
And WillRain: In evaluating GM's you talked about how Friedman shouldn't get credit for doing what he should have done and gotten a good player in return for Young. I disagree with this, just because often times just DOING the right thing is the hardest part - many GM's could have been in that position and done nothing at all and held onto Young.  Taking that risk and "doing" the right thing deserves credit just for being done.  There is no guarentee that either player would pan out, but Friedman definitely took a gamble and it paid off.

Let e be very specific. I'm not saying he deserves NO CREDIT. What I am saying is that it is not the sort of move that gets one a "superior" rating. It was a good solid move, and yes, it involve an element of risk. But as we saw with JP's willingness to deal Rios for Lincecum (which was in many was an exact replica of the Garza deal) being willing to trade a good hitter for a good starter is the less bold move than the reverse.

But I'm not trying to say "meh, big deal" - it was good work. it just wasn't one of those "spereate the men from the boys" type moves.


Even if the money was equal (which it wasn't), how exactly is this a great trade as this doesn't even include defense where Hudson won gold gloves in 2006 and 2007 and Glaus was at least below average defensively?

Very simple. We got something we needed desperately (a power bat) for two parts that we could EASILY afford. In my mind, it has nothing to do with how it worked out for the D'Backs (how IS Chad Tracy working out, btw?) it has to do with the price we had to pay to get what we needed.

For instance, let's say JJP hardy was available and the Jays were trying to deal for him next fall.

If JJ Hardy costs us Travis Snider, that's not a good deal not just because Snider is younger and cheaper, but because we NEED Snider and there's no ready replacement for Snider at hand.

On the other hand, if that deal cost us, for instance, Lesse Listch and Scott Downs, as good as those two players are, it's a great deal bercause we have the ability to replace those two without missing a step. We are dealing from excess.

 Maybe your definition of "great deal" is when you rob the other team blind as in kazmir. My definition of "great deal" is how much you helped your own team and at what cost, if the other team does well also, so be it.

Jays2010 - Sunday, February 01 2009 @ 07:10 PM EST (#196023) #

I've always maintained - semi-facetiously - that J.P.'s greatest weakness as a general manager is that he just isn't lucky enough. The 2008 Jays were actually a pretty good team, when all is said and done: despite all the injuries, the bad luck, and the sudden (though not surprising) aging of Thomas and Stairs, they won 86 games. And should have won more, if Pythagoras is to be believed. And, had they won or come very close, they might have drawn enough extra fans to pay for A.J.'s return, or to sign somebody to fill his spot. But that didn't happen.

The 2008 Blue Jays, IMO, had above average injury luck, not below average. Sure Marcum and McGowan missed some games, but their impact will be felt far more in 2009 than 2008. The top 6 (or even 7) starters for the Jays made virtually all of their starts, and Purcey was allowed to dominate in AAA before having to step into the rotation full time. Even when injuries hit, they came in decent spots where we had depth some of the time which minimizes the impact. Hill missed the year, but Inglett filled in admirably. Accardo gets hurt and Carlson (though he's LH) stepped in and pitched well. Sure Wells only played 108 games, but at least AJ was healthy. So was BJ. Jannsen gets hurt in spring training and it gives Litsch the stronghold on the fifth starter job. Rolen missed some time but Scutaro wasn't horrible over there. As a whole, I think we were luckier than other teams for once.

Now I've already gone over how the Jays were actually a top 8 MLB team (they simply play in the AL East in which 4 of the top 8 teams in 2008 resided) and, of course, they had an excellent run differential (much more of a product of a good GM than actual W-L record, IMO). But to say we had bad injury luck is kind of an exaggeration. Frankly, we need this kind of luck going forward.

And this "best JP move(s)" game is obviously going to make JP look like just about the worst GM in the league. If we played the "worst JP move(s)" game, JP would look like around the best GM in the league because his mistakes are never that bad. He is basically a lazy (i.e. he is ridiculously inactive in terms of transactions that could make a significant impact), stubborn GM who learned on the job to become fairly competent but he has far too much belief in himself and the moves he made when he was a poor GM (specifically in the way he defends his early drafting). I'd keep him for another year, because I think we are close to becoming a contending club, but the years of futility are starting to wear on me....

SheldonL - Monday, February 02 2009 @ 06:50 PM EST (#196051) #
Whoever's Baltimore's GM should be knocked up a few notches thanks to his Rich Hill trade!

Go Orioles! Hill and Guthrie should make things interesting!
TamRa - Monday, February 02 2009 @ 07:07 PM EST (#196052) #
I dunno, I'm thinking if Hill was actually available that cheap, that maybe my opinion of Hll needs knocking down a few notches.

Not that i don't think McPhail is fairly good, and not that the O's don't seriously need to find SOME competence for their rotation...

But the Nationals never got in (as far as we've heard) or the Royals or Texas or Florida or Colorado...?

How good could the scouts think he is?


Glevin - Monday, February 02 2009 @ 07:43 PM EST (#196054) #
"Whoever's Baltimore's GM should be knocked up a few notches thanks to his Rich Hill trade!"

The O's front office had been terrible for years, but it's been very good over the last year. They just picked up Pie and Hill from the Cubs for virtually nothing. Now, both of those guys may not pan out, but they are exactly the kind of low risk/high reward moves teams not in contention need to make.
92-93 - Tuesday, February 03 2009 @ 10:26 AM EST (#196057) #
Ty Wigginton just signed a 2/6 deal. There better not be another word around here defending JP's decision to offer Bautista arbitration.
Mike Green - Tuesday, February 03 2009 @ 10:56 AM EST (#196058) #
Wigginton hits lefties well enough to be a platoon DH.  Bautista doesn't.  That shouldn't be a shocker, because Wigginton is a much better hitter.

Whether the Wigginton deal makes sense is another matter.  It depends on what the Orioles plan to do with their payroll in 2010.  As it stands, they are going to be able to field a good offence and defence in 2009, with Scott/Wigginton sharing the DH role and Markakis/Jones/Pie in the outfield most days and Izturis/Roberts down the middle of the infield.  They've got Zaun around to teach Wieters. 

The O's had a stable of excellent young pitching prospects in double A Bowie last year, Matusz on a 4 year major league contract for 2008-11, plus Rich Hill.  It looks to me like this will be a building year for them, and they will be attempting to compete in 2010.  For the first time in over a decade, you can see a reasonable plan. 

92-93 - Tuesday, February 03 2009 @ 11:14 AM EST (#196059) #
It makes sense for them because it means they don't need to pick up Mora's option for next year and will probably save 7m or so there. Also, the deal is small enough that at the very least he should retain considerable trade value throughout.

On another note, it scares me that the Orioles have a better offense than the Jays do.
John Northey - Tuesday, February 03 2009 @ 12:43 PM EST (#196060) #
Wow, nice deal for Baltimore.  Ty's defense is nothing special from what I've read (haven't dug into it too much) but at $3 mil per for a guy who hit 285/350/526 last year and 270-330-460 lifetime that is pretty nice even if he is on the wrong side of 30 (entering his age 31 season).  Bautista has never cracked a 100 OPS+, 239-324-398 lifetime, 238-313-405 last year.   I suspect Bautista's upside is to reach the average for Wigginton while Wigginton's downside is Bautista's average. 

I think the market has really, really crashed this winter to a degree few expected.  Teams with cash at the moment are laughing.

92-93 - Tuesday, February 03 2009 @ 01:50 PM EST (#196061) #
"Teams with cash at the moment are laughing."

I wonder what Beane has left. Last year he cut payroll from 79m to 48m, and even after signing Giambi and trading for Holliday they are still probably under 55m. I'm a little surprised he shelled out the dough for Springer, but the As realistically could add Orlando Cabrera and Ben Sheets and be right there as division favorites with the Angels, who have done nothing to address their offensive issues this offseason.
TamRa - Tuesday, February 03 2009 @ 01:57 PM EST (#196062) #
Ty Wigginton just signed a 2/6 deal. There better not be another word around here defending JP's decision to offer Bautista arbitration.

So you are saying that JP should have known in Mid-December how badly the FA market for that kind of player would collapse?

Based on what?

Hindsight is easy. Yes, BTW, if my budget was as thin as JP's I would have non-tendered Bautista, Frasor, and Camp. I think that was an error based on what information I have. But I don't base that on what Wigginton is getting paid...I base that on the reasoning that a tight-budget team ought to be paying less at the margins.

Wigginton hits lefties well enough to be a platoon DH.  Bautista doesn't.  That shouldn't be a shocker, because Wigginton is a much better hitter.

Yr - Age - ABvLH - OPS - sOPS+

Wiggy-

2008 - 30 - 103 - 1.055 - 169
2007 - 29 - 166 - .935 - 131
2006 - 28 - 130 - .897 - 127
2005 - 27 - 73 - .814 - 108
2004 - 26 - 108 - ..699 - 80
Career - .878 - 122

Bautista -

2008 - 27 - 108 - .885 - .125
2007 - 26 - 121 - .788 - 98
2006 - 25 - 113 - .944 - 139
Career - .814 - 125

Relative to age, I don't think the distinction vs LHP is that great. (compare JB at 26 and 27 to TW at 26 and 27)
Yes he spiked very high in 2008 but surely no one thinks that is sustainable.
I don't see an argument here that Bautista couldn't be a platoon DH (or whatever other position, when only offense is considered)



Mylegacy - Tuesday, February 03 2009 @ 03:15 PM EST (#196064) #
There were 100 posts in this thread before mine. 101 - not sure if that's my age or IQ - either way it's icky.

I wasn't going to post here because I'm partly ambivalent, partly bemused and partly half baked. I've been a fairly consistent supporter of JP despite the fact I've never forgiven him for sending the O'Dog down for calling him a "pimp." Bearing in mind that in the O'Dog's neighbourhood - pimps were to be looked up to - and the Dog meant it as a compliment.

On balance, I think JP has been satisfactory. Am I damning with faint praise? A bit.

As to the flurry of signings by everyone but the BJ's and Ramirez turning down 25 large...I think the baseball economy may be - belatedely going over the same cliff the rest of the economy is already well over and flying earthward in a death defying free fall.

As to spring training (how's that for a segway)... last year we drafted three POSSIBLE impact bats. Cooper, Thames and...wait for it...Brian Van Kirk (21st round). Brain is my "sleeper" pick for 09. At Oral Roberts he went 417/511/750 with 18 homers, 73 rbis in 228 bats. At Auburn in 181 at bats he went 282/394/425 with 4 homers and 37 rbis. A R/R he is 6' 1" and 195 pounds. He was a college senior and starts 09 at 23 years of age.

greenfrog - Tuesday, February 03 2009 @ 05:06 PM EST (#196068) #
Maybe the rest of the AL East could show some mercy and let Toronto and Baltimore combine the best of their rosters for a few years. This would be a reasonable lineup and rotation that would compare nicely to the rest of the East:

Roberts (2B)
Markakis (RF)
Rios (CF)
Wells (LF)
Huff (DH)
Wieters (C)
Overbay (1B)
Rolen (3B)
Hill/Scutaro (SS)

Halladay
Guthrie
McGowan
Litsch
Purcey/Cecil

The bench would look pretty solid with players like Wiggington, Snider, Barajas, Scott and Jones. The 'pen would consist mainly of Toronto pitchers, although someone like Sherrill or Johnson might make the cut. Yep, looks like a complete team to me.
92-93 - Tuesday, February 03 2009 @ 10:01 PM EST (#196073) #
Love the team. I'd probably permanently swap Markakis and Rios in the order, and bat Huff 4 vs. RHP.
greenfrog - Tuesday, February 03 2009 @ 10:26 PM EST (#196074) #
The combined payroll ($164M, based on last year's figures) would be competitive with those of the Yankees ($209M) and Red Sox ($133M), too.

Not that it's really a fair comparison (for one thing, the Jays/Orioles squad would have had double the draft picks and a lot more roster protection), but I think that the merged ballclub would be the best team in the division. Outstanding lineup, brilliant defense, solid rotation, deep bullpen, great bench. Nice balance of experience (Huff, Rolen, Roberts, Wells, Halladay) and youth (Wieters, Markakis, Hill, Snider, Guthrie, Litsch, Purcey).

OK, I may be getting carried away with this thing. But I've gotta say, I think the two teams are a natural fit. Somebody call the commissioner!
ayjackson - Tuesday, February 03 2009 @ 11:13 PM EST (#196075) #
I think we could probably take a complete pass on their pitching staff and be no worse for wear.  Just give me Markakis and Wieters and stuff the rest.
92-93 - Wednesday, February 04 2009 @ 12:35 AM EST (#196077) #
"Outstanding lineup, brilliant defense"

Izturis carries a nice glove, and would really cement the defense with an above average defender (if not gold glove calibre) at every single position. I'm thinking we go with him as the everyday SS and add Hill to the bench - there's no need for Scott on a bench carrying Jones and Snider.
Glevin - Wednesday, February 04 2009 @ 01:05 AM EST (#196078) #
"Maybe the rest of the AL East could show some mercy and let Toronto and Baltimore combine the best of their rosters for a few years. This would be a reasonable lineup and rotation that would compare nicely to the rest of the East:"

The crazy thing is that I don't know if this team would finish better than fourth in the division. It just goes to show how strong the AL East is.
zeppelinkm - Wednesday, February 04 2009 @ 02:27 AM EST (#196079) #

Speaking of GM'ing and taking crazy risks...

So apparently the Yankees are interested in Hudson. David Pinto speculates that maybe they might be gearing up to try and package Cano with someone and try to get a true CFer.

Now, all this hedges on what you think of Cano and whether or not you think he just lost it or whether or not you think last year was just a fluke and he's a pure hitter that is about to enter his prime.

Do you think the Jays would be better off trading V Wells for R Cano straight up? You would shift Rios into CF and shift Hill to SS. Use the money that is going to be saved on Wells to sign Dunn/Abreu/Rameriz (Ok.. maybe Rameriz is out of the Jays price range) to DH. Lind in LF and Snider in left.

The infield defence is weaker. Maybe just DH Cano and keep Scutaro/Hill as your middle infield? Or no - don't ever do a deal like this, it's horrible? I'm curious. I don't know if I'd have the fortitude to make a move like this, given the PR aspect and the fact that well, if Cano doesn't return to form, then you're getting fired within a year or two.  But I thought I'd ask this question in here, given the debate about GM's and making great moves/risky moves.

It's not just the effect of getting Cano and losing Wells that you have to consider, but what you can do with the money you save. The defence is worse - are the gains in offence worth it? Would the Yankees even consider this? We know realistically that the Jays never would, but, let's just pretend for a minute...

Glevin - Wednesday, February 04 2009 @ 07:11 AM EST (#196080) #
"Do you think the Jays would be better off trading V Wells for R Cano straight up?"

Without any hesitation A) Yes B) not going to happen.

The Yanks wanted the Brewers to pick up some money in the Melky for Cameron swap, so it's hard to see them being OK with picking up 20+ million for the next few years. I can see someone like Rich Ankiel making sense.
greenfrog - Wednesday, February 04 2009 @ 08:35 AM EST (#196081) #
"I think we could probably take a complete pass on their pitching staff and be no worse for wear. Just give me Markakis and Wieters and stuff the rest."

I agree that those are the two stud players on their roster. But I would definitely take Guthrie (ERA+ of 125 the last two years and threw 190 IP last year) and Roberts (now 30 with an OPS+ of 139, 96, 112, 117 the last four years). Huff may have had a career year in 2008, but he's still only 31 and hit 304/360/552 last year (career: 287/344/483). Nothing wrong with those numbers. You could start the year with Huff and let Snider hit AAA pitching for a couple of months to see how things play out. :)
SheldonL - Wednesday, February 04 2009 @ 01:05 PM EST (#196083) #
Cano makes $6 million this year, $9 million in '10 and $10 million in 2011. Then he's got team options of $14 mil and $15 mil in 2012 and 2013. If we don't pick up each, it's $2 mil a piece as a buyout.
So if we keep him for just 3 years, it's $29 mil. If we keep him for 5 years, it's $54 mil.

Wells makes $10 mil in '09, $21 in '10 and $23 in '11 for a total of $54 for 3 years.
There's no way imaginable that he leaves $63 mil on the table for the remaining 3 seasons. So it becomes a cost of $117 for 6 years.

Yes, we seem to save $63 million but note that we give the Yankess a solid power hitter who historically has proven to be Sliver Slugger worthy when placed in potent offences/with protection so no doubt, the Yankees will be formidable with 3-4-5 hitters Tex,A-Rod, V-Dub. So we're really creating a monster here. His Gold Glove defense has been argued much here but I think he will be exceptional for years to come.
And what do we get? Cano for around $10 mil a year and at best he's Aaron Hill with batting champ potential, and at worst he's Jose Bautista.

I think I'm happier with Wells in a Jays uniform and the Yankees handicapped at second base for the next 3-5 years!
TamRa - Wednesday, February 04 2009 @ 01:53 PM EST (#196084) #
There's no way imaginable that he leaves $63 mil on the table for the remaining 3 seasons. So it becomes a cost of $117 for 6 years.

As I've waxed verbose about on numerous occasions, that is simply a gross overstatement.

It IS less likely given the market reversal this offseason, but all market reversals in the past have been one-year pnenomena and often lead to an increase in inflation in subsiquent years.

But given baseball inflation, 21 million in 2012 is NOT the same as 21 million in 2008.

furthermore, and much more importantly, Wells will be "leaving $63 million on the table" but he will be 32 and looking for a five year deal. If he stays with the three years, he will hit the FA market again at 35 with dramatically less earning potential and having risked injury or declining production in the interveneing years.

So his options are more like this-

Stay: 21 - 21 - 21 - 12 - 12 - 12 = 99

Go: 18 - 18 - 18 - 18 - 18 - 9(?) = 99

But in the latter case 90 ins guaranteed instead of 63 - and guaranteed money wins.

That's IF you think his salary will be reduced if he opts out which is not at all a given.

To go back and, again, reference the Hunter deal, signed 4 years earlier than Wells' opt out, for a player of a similar age and skill set, he got $18 per. If Wells only got 18 4 years later it's a considerably cheaper deal relative to the baseball economy.

In fact, apply 4% inflation to Hunter's deal (WELL below the typical rate in MLB) and it's a $21 million deal 4 years later.

So there's every chance he can opt out of 3/63 and find a five year guarantee that's worth $100-110 million...not because he's that good but because of baseball inflation.

"No imaginable way"?

Not hardly. If his production at the plate stays in the 120 neighborhood (OPS+) it's very possible, if his defense in CF returns to at least league average levels, it's a lock (assuming health)

the only reason - beyond health or loss of production - that wouldn't happen is if all the monied teams already had expensive occupants for his position(s).


christaylor - Wednesday, February 04 2009 @ 01:56 PM EST (#196085) #
On Wells: I think the idea of trading him (for Cano or someone like Cano) is more/less appealing depending on how pessimisstic/optimistic one is about where a) the payroll will go b) how competitive the team will be over the next 3 years.

If either of: the Jays payroll increases to more than $120m, Wells matches his 2006 performance in multiple seasons come true, there's zero reason to trade Wells. If the Jays are competitive for a playoff spot in any of the next 6 years, I can't see Wells being anything but an asset.

I guess what I'm getting at is simply this: I don't think it is obvious that the Jays ought to trade Wells if they get the opportunity to do so, despite what many think about his contract.
92-93 - Wednesday, February 04 2009 @ 03:12 PM EST (#196087) #
"Not hardly. If his production at the plate stays in the 120 neighborhood (OPS+) it's very possible, if his defense in CF returns to at least league average levels, it's a lock (assuming health)"

If all the "experts" are right and Wells is no longer a good CF, this is going to represent a problem. Jays management will want Wells' value to stay as high as possible so they will keep him in CF to increase the chances he opts out. Many of you already believe Rios should be in CF (I don't agree), but it's really not smart if they don't make a switch they believe in because they are praying Wells retains CF value for 4 years.
TamRa - Wednesday, February 04 2009 @ 06:14 PM EST (#196092) #
^^
Wells isn't a gold glover anymore but i doubt SERIOUSLY he'l repeat a year like he had last year defensively anythime soon. he had declined from his peak the previous two years but, IIRC, he was right around average...2008 represented a STEEP decline which was, I expect, an anomaly.
If I'm wrong, though, you are right that the Jays may have to face facts on that point.


Mylegacy - Wednesday, February 04 2009 @ 06:39 PM EST (#196093) #
In 08 it seemed to me that Vernon had problems "reaching up" when running back . Remember he had shoulder surgery in Sept 07 - that could explain why he was off a bit defensively in 08.

When we signed him for the 126 million - my concern at the time was that he'd have to move to left or right mid-way through the contract and that could be a real distraction. If our total payroll in 10 and 11 is going to be the mid-70's (which it just might) 20+ million to Vernon and 14+ million to Halladay  will eat up 50% of the total payroll - YIKES!

I hope the rest of the guys like to play for "the love of the game" 'cause they sure ain't gonna make much money.


christaylor - Wednesday, February 04 2009 @ 07:47 PM EST (#196094) #
If the payroll in 11 is in the $70M range, there's no way the team will have Halladay on it and the only reason that team would have Wells on it would be if Wells' value crashes and he's unmovable. Yikes is right.

I still believe that the payroll will be closer to $120M in 2010 than $70M... forget "believe"... I really hope, as if I recall there's already about $83M committed for 2010.
Glevin - Wednesday, February 04 2009 @ 08:08 PM EST (#196095) #
"I guess what I'm getting at is simply this: I don't think it is obvious that the Jays ought to trade Wells if they get the opportunity to do so, despite what many think about his contract."

The Jays just simply cannot afford Wells' contract. This is a guy who over the last 5 years has averaged an OPS+ of just under 109 and whose defense is no longer elite (at a minimum). This is a climate where superior offensive players are having a hard time getting any interest. Wells is making something like 1/4 of the entire payroll which is absurd for a player who is not in the upper echelon in baseball.

Austin Jackson is maybe the Yankees #1 prospect and should be ready to play CF within a couple of years so I don't see the Yankees giving a long-term commitment at one of the highest salaries in baseball to a guy whose bat is unimpressive for a corner OFer. There are just so many options out there that make much more sense. Then again, it is the Yankees.
Glevin - Wednesday, February 04 2009 @ 10:34 PM EST (#196096) #
The Jays claim Brian Burres off waivers and designated Thigpen for assignment.
Thomas - Thursday, February 05 2009 @ 12:03 AM EST (#196097) #
John Parrish has signed a minor league deal with the Orioles. It would have nice to have him back on a similar deal to next year, but it's not a surprise to see him head back to Baltimore, where there may be more opportunities in the bullpen. In other ex-Jays news Vinnie Chulk signed a minor league deal with the Indians yesterday.

christaylor - Thursday, February 05 2009 @ 12:23 AM EST (#196098) #
There's no way that an OPS+ is 109 is a true assessment of Wells' offensive abilities at this time even though it matches his career OPS+. Using OPS+ from the last five years is just cherry picking your end points as it conveniently excludes his best season and includes a year that we all know was the result of a shoulder injury sapping his power. Wells put up OPS+ in the 120s in his last two healthy seasons. Not star corner OF numbers, but more than good enough for a player who can play CF better than adequate (when not hobbled by a hamstring injury).

Whether the team can afford him or not is another matter... he's not expensive in 2009, so the team can definitely afford him now. If he puts up another 03, 06 in 09 (even with average defense) his big pay days in the next few years will seem more palatable/affordable, but I do agree the team can't afford him if they expect to keep the payroll south of $110-120M.

Your response is in line with my previous post, you're pessimistic about the payroll and so are negative on Wells. There's absolute no certainty that the payroll will be $80M when Wells starts making his $20M+ paydays, whether the player is in the upper echelon or not, it is absurd for a team with an $80M payroll to carry one player at $20M+.
greenfrog - Thursday, February 05 2009 @ 12:54 AM EST (#196099) #
I find it depressing when fans endlessly debate ways of mitigating the Jays' economic problems by gauging ways to cut salary (I confess to getting caught up in this tendency too). I mean, would trading Wells for Cano *really* improve the team? Do we really want to be a feeder team for the Yankees? Have we been so cowed by the playoff drought and payroll setbacks that it's come to this--figuring out the best way to dump players so we can have a lean, mean, fourth-place team? Besides, it's not as if having a $20M V-Dub for a few years down the road is going to dent the Yankees' playoff chances. In the meantime Wells would help them quite a bit. Do we want to be the 21st-century colony to the Yankees' empire?

Let's face it. If Rogers maintains the current payroll level, the Jays aren't going anywhere anyway. Right now Jays fans need to kick up a fuss about a higher payroll--that's the most important aspect of getting the team on track. That, and dealing with the front office uncertainty (president and GM). It would make Wells less of an issue, allow the team to extend Halladay, and create a reasonable salary structure. At the moment the front office seems to be devoting all its resources to shopping at baseball's equivalent of the Dollar Store. Which is fine if you think Brian Burres, Mike Maroth, Jason Lane, Bryan Bullington, Randy Ruiz, Brandon Fahey, Michael Barrett, and Matt Clement are a sensible approach to building a competitive AL East team.
TamRa - Thursday, February 05 2009 @ 01:13 AM EST (#196100) #
If our total payroll in 10 and 11 is going to be the mid-70's (which it just might)

I'll believe that - and worry about it - when i see it. Beeston talks just the opposite story and until he's proven a liar, I'm gonna take his word for it.

YES, IF the Jays cut payroll further they can't afford Wells. But it's foolishness to ASSUME that that run of events happens. In complete frankness, if the jays payroll falls to $70 mil or less, they can't contend regularly anyway so having Wells or not really doesn't matter to the win total that much.

Ron - Thursday, February 05 2009 @ 01:23 AM EST (#196101) #
If you look at the Ray's prosect list it's heavily skewed to pitchers. And yet their rotation is full and so the benifit of depth is only useful to the extent you can trade it for something that pans out.

I consider 3 of their top 5 prospects to be position players (Beckham, Jennings, Brignac). The Rays leveraged their pitching depth this off-season by obtaining Matt Joyce for Edwin Jackson.

But just looking at the maintence of the present team...

The 2009 team is going to cost them about $70 million

the 2010 team faces a hole to fill in LF (re-signing Crawford is going to start at $12 mil per probably, maybe more, or else losing him and signing or trading for someone likely not as good)

The Rays have a 10 million club option for Crawford in 2010.

They also will have to solve closer (my guess is they let Balfour close if he has another good year and put neimann in the pen) ; they will need two bench players and two more relievers. They might deal Sonanstine and promote Davis, or alternately trade Davis to fill a hole. If the bring back Crawford they are gonna get up around $75 million

As they look ahead to 2011, they will have to fill 1B, DH, and re-sign Balfour or find another closer. Hellickson might be ready which would maybe allow them to deal the Arb-eligible Sonanstine. The will also have Upton, Garza, Iwamura, Navarro, Bartlett, and a couple of other players in arbitration. To keep the same squad together would run them up around $90 million which means almost certainly the team is going to have some holes where they have to cut costs.

In 2012 you can figure probably Beckham has taken over SS anf Brignac has established himself at 2B but even so their 11 most expensive players add up to easily over $50 million without counting whatever they spent to address LF, 1B, and DH in prvious seasons.

and that's just the next three years.

Thereís simply no denying the Rays are in a position to win now and in the future. The Rays are one of the youngest teams in Baseball and their core of young players (Kazmir, Garza, Shields, Sonnanstine, Navarro, Longoria, Crawford, and Upton) are already established at the big league level. The Rays have the best collection of young players in all of baseball and you wonít find another team that has so many young players under contract for so long. The Rays have smartly locked up a lot of players with long term deals with a club option(s) attached. The Rays have options on Kazmir, Crawford, Iwamura, Wheeler, Shields, and Longoria.

I seriously don't get the Rays-worship among Jays fans. Their biggest strength is the same as our biggest strength - more SP than they can use. both teams stand to have great rotations for years and excess pitchers to trade. We have a better pen now and one that projects into the future better (including younger pitchers and prospects).

Itís ludicrous to suggest the Jays have more starting pitchers then they could use if youíre talking about quality starters. Thereís a chance Purcey and Richmond will both start the season in the Jays rotation and even washed up veterans like Clement and Maroth have been told they will be given a legitimate shot at joining the Jays rotation. The future of the Jays rotation isnít all roses. Halladay is a free agent after 2010 season, McGowan is going to come back from 2 serious injuries, and Marcum had TJ surgery. The Rays starting rotation to start this season is miles ahead of the Jays and Iíll venture to guess they will still be better next season. Itís hard to find a better rotation 1-5 than Kazmir, Shields, Garza, Sonnastine, and Price.

Both have a young offensive potential star (Longoria/Snider)

Longoria is already a star while Snider is unproven.

Both have 2 veteran hitters possibly leaving after 2010

The rest of the offense is certainly compareable (Upton could potentially go off the charts but otherwise, the Jays are probably better)

You seriously believe the Jays offense is probably better than the Rays? You probably wonít find one non-Jays fan that feels the same way. The Rays offense isnít just a shade better, itís miles better than the Jays. They have more guys with the ability to hit the long ball and speed on the base paths.

I respect the Rays, they are definately in our weight class, but over the next say, five years, i'm not remotely intimidated by them.


The Rays are in the Jays weight class if the range is 150-300 pounds. The Rays have the better Major League roster, better farm system, better front office, and an owner that is actually committed to winning. The Jays have been on a path to nowhere since they last won the World Series while the Rays are on the hunt for the championship.

I actually feel sorry for the hardcore Jays fans that are out there. You and I deserve better than this.

Let me leave you with the fact of the day: The Jays are the only club to not sign a free agent to a major league deal this off season.
Glevin - Thursday, February 05 2009 @ 01:34 AM EST (#196102) #
"There's no way that an OPS+ is 109 is a true assessment of Wells' offensive abilities at this time even though it matches his career OPS+. Using OPS+ from the last five years is just cherry picking your end points as it conveniently excludes his best season and includes a year that we all know was the result of a shoulder injury sapping his power. Wells put up OPS+ in the 120s in his last two healthy seasons. Not star corner OF numbers, but more than good enough for a player who can play CF better than adequate (when not hobbled by a hamstring injury)."

So, by me taking his last five years of stats or his career stats, it's cherry picking, but you picking out two out of his last five years and saying that those are true indicators of his ability is not? Wells has had seven seasons as a full-time player. He has had an OPS+ of 105 or under in four of them and an OPS of 121 to 132 three times. How does that tell you that he is a 120 OPS+ guy? Even with his year last year being the third best of his career, he was still really no better than a bunch of other guys like David Dejesus, Jim Edmonds, Marlon Byrd, and so on. Considering that OBP his Wells' weakest suite, OPS+ is perhaps even slightly kind to him. Vernon Wells is simply not a star player who is going to be paid like one of the top-10 players in baseball over the next six years.  If he has a great year (which is a possibility), the Jays should try to get anything they can for him. The Jays will have to pay $21.3 million every single year for the 2010-2014 stretch and Wells has about 0% chance of being worth close to that.
TamRa - Thursday, February 05 2009 @ 05:55 AM EST (#196103) #
I consider 3 of their top 5 prospects to be position players (Beckham, Jennings, Brignac). The Rays leveraged their pitching depth this off-season by obtaining Matt Joyce for Edwin Jackson.

YOU consider? In any case, 2 of those three are as far away as players like Jackson  and Eiland are for the Jays.

and beyond those three, it's almost all pitching which was my point. The Jays have hitting prospects which number greater than three and their top three are not slouches.

The Rays have a 10 million club option for Crawford in 2010.


So the same thinking applies a year later. And $10 million is not the sort of salary the Rays are used to paying.

Itís ludicrous to suggest the Jays have more starting pitchers then they could use if youíre talking about quality starters.


I consider Doc, Dusty, Listch, Janssen, and Purcey to all be quality pitchers, and then there's Cecil on the verge, and marcum coming back next year, and Mills ready in little more than a year...and that's assuming players like Romero and Richmond fail.

and even washed up veterans like Clement and Maroth have been told they will be given a legitimate shot at joining the Jays rotation.

The only person who believes Maroth has a legitimate shot is Maroth and I suspect he has some doubts. Clement has a chance to the extent he can out-pitch one of the good young pitchers I listed above. If he out-pitches someone like Purcey or Janssen, it will be evidence he's not "washed up", not evidence the young guys weren't good.

But he won't.

The Rays starting rotation to start this season is miles ahead of the Jays ...

"To start this season"? Yeah. That's a very limited claim but they have more certainty in hand at the moment because we are not sure about the recovery curve of McG and Janssen. But even then "miles ahead" probably overstates it. But I won't quibble that detail. The thing is, I wasn't just talking about "to start the season", I was talking about the next 3-4 years.

Itís hard to find a better rotation 1-5 than Kazmir, Shields, Garza, Sonnastine, and Price.


Lovely how the Jays fans simply ASSUME Price will step in and succeed. (An assumption they don't make about, for instance, Brett Cecil)

Shall we review the list of great young pitchers who were going to step in and blow everyone away in their first year (and didn't) over the last few years?

Longoria is already a star while Snider is unproven.

Case in point - you assume Price makes up part of a great rotation, and in the next breath dismiss Snider as "unproven." Mind telling me how "proven" David Price is?

The Rays offense isnít just a shade better, itís miles better than the Jays. They have more guys with the ability to hit the long ball and speed on the base paths.

Oh? Pena, Longoria, Burrell and....? As Opposed to Wells, Snider and...Rios? t Who will hit more homers, Hill or Iwamura? Lind or Joyce? Barajas or Navarro?
Speed? Yeah, they got three guys who can run and we have one. That's not the basis for "miles better" I hope.

You probably wonít find one non-Jays fan that feels the same way.

And? Shallow analysis is legion among fans.  Even in your reply, you seem to think I am arguing for the overall offense when what I actually said was  OTHERWISE...other than Upton, specifically, but still, the overall point is that those who point to the Rays as better ASSUME the Rays reach their upside and the Jays don't.

Want to assume Crawford Bounces back? Then you have to assume the same for Rolen. Want to assume Upton does, then ditto for Rios. Want to cut some slack for Longoria's injury, then do likewise for Wells.

But that's not what the Rays Ra-Ra crowd does....they assume the Jays will fail to step up and the Rays certainly will.

The Rays have the better Major League roster, better farm system, better front office, and an owner that is actually committed to winning. The Jays have been on a path to nowhere since they last won the World Series while the Rays are on the hunt for the championship.

I don't even know how to reply to this...they have better managment - based on three years of work you know this? They have ownership commited to winning...based on their 10 year history this is obvious? (and I know the team has changed hands but still, there's been no dramatic change of philosophy)...

I suppose at the end of the day all we can do is agree to disagree polightly, but with all due respect, what I see here is not a compelling case of objective facts, but a skewed preception driven by negative emotions. Emotionalism often produces an irrational conclusion.

I'm sure that from your perspective my views are colored by homerism. That's a common cop-out but one that is a self-supporting claim because it can't be disproven unless the homer gets on the negativist Bandwagon too.

So there we are - impass.

But I tip my hat to you and respect your reply.
I don't want to come off as sounding hostile.

zeppelinkm - Thursday, February 05 2009 @ 07:53 AM EST (#196104) #

Will, it's obvious you think out your posts and take them seriously, they are good for the debate.  But I will question things I don't agree with (you happen to post a lot so you expose yourself more often :P )...

But if we are going to assume Crawford bounces back then we have to assume the same for Rolen? Really? Crawford is 27. Rolen is 33 - this is significant.  And I don't understand the cutting slack for Longoria and Wells. What does this mean? V Dub and Longoria simply aren't in the same category as hitters. Longoria posted a 125 OPS+. If we cut him some slack for his injury, what does that mean? He might post a 140 OPS+ this year? He very well might. If we cut slack for Vernon's injury, what could we reasonable expect for a full season, a 125 OPS+? I don't think that's unrealistic or low-balling him.

I will agree though, I think Rios bounces back in a huge way. Sadly, I do think Upton does as well. The one aspect of your debate against the Rays you are failing to consider is the ages of the respective starters for both teams.

Age of the Rays first, Jays second by C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, LF, CF, RF, DH and then the 5 expected SP's. I just took whatever their seasonal age was in 2008 and added 1 to show what their age wil be during 2009. From Baseball-reference.com

C   - 25 versus 33
1B - 31 versus 32
2B - 30 versus 27
SS - 29 versus 33
3B - 23 versus 34
LF - 27 versus 25
CF - 24 versus 30
RF - 29 versus 28

SP (Shields, Garza,Kazmir,Sonnastine,Price) 27, 25, 25, 26, 23
SP (Doc, Listch, McGowan, Purcey, Richmond, Jannsen), 32, 24, 27, 27, 29, 27

AVERAGES: of starting lineups: 27.7 versus 29.2
AVERAGES: of rotation: 25.2 versus 27.8
ALL starters: 26.8 versus 28.1

The Rays have older players at 2B (definitely the Jays advantage here), LF (definitely the Rays advantage here - Crawford is simply superior to Lind), and RF (Definitely Jays advantage here with Rios versus Gross). However, I just remembered the Rays picked up Matthew Joyce who will probably play more RF then Gross, and he's only entering his age 24 season, which negates the Jays age advantage here, although I do think that Rios is pretty clearly a better player then Joyce, the gulf is not as great as Rios > Gross.

Thomas - Thursday, February 05 2009 @ 09:05 AM EST (#196106) #
Want to assume Crawford Bounces back? Then you have to assume the same for Rolen.

As Zeppelin points out, this is simply laughable. Crawford is entering his age 27 season with OPS+s of 105, 111, 113 and 117 in his age 22-25 seasons. Scott Rolen is entering his age 34 season after struggling with serious shoulder injuries to various extents over the past three seasons. His past 4 OPS+s have been 84, 126, 89 and 107. There is simply much more evidence to believe that Crawford is capable of returning to his previous heights than Rolen.

I consider Doc, Dusty, Listch, Janssen, and Purcey to all be quality pitchers.

Also, I'm not sure how you can consider Purcey to be a "quality starter" given that he put up a 5.54 ERA in 12 major league starts following two seasons in between Double and Triple-A where he had ERAs over 5.30. He did well for Syracuse last year and he might well turn into a decent major league pitcher, but it's a bit much to count a 26-year-old who had 20 good starts at Triple-A as a quality starter when his last good season in the minors was in 2005.

On a side note, a healthy Janssen is a quality pitcher. However, he's coming off labrum surgery and I'd like to see him pitch before deciding whether we can pencil him into the rotation or bullpen for the next few years. It's no guarantee that he'll return as good as he was before.

Lovely how the Jays fans simply ASSUME Price will step in and succeed. (An assumption they don't make about, for instance, Brett Cecil)....Case in point - you assume Price makes up part of a great rotation.

Sure, Price might fail. But, Price is a former first overall pick who puts up a 1.89 ERA in Double-A as a 22-year-old (in only 9 starts, admittedly) to go along with great scouting reports and who is a consensus Top 10 prospect in baseball before the season began. There are reasons to think that sustained success is more likely for Price than it is for Cecil or Purcey or Mills, but I don't see anyone arguing we should annoit him as the next Johan Santana. Furthermore, that's not really the poster's original point. Price doesn't have to be an above average to excellent starter this year to be part of a very good rotation, he can simply be average or even slightly below average. That's because an average number 5 starter (even average in comparison to other MLB number 5s) would combine with the other four pitchers to make a strong rotation. At least on paper, obviously caveats about injuries and the unpredictability of pitchers apply.
Mike Green - Thursday, February 05 2009 @ 09:48 AM EST (#196107) #
If you want to simply root for the home team, it's easy to do.  They have got to get through the first two months likely without significant contributions from McGowan, Janssen or Cecil, and then hope for recovery from the first two and development from Cecil.  Last year, the Rays started off the season without Kazmir or Longoria, and were 7-10 early but then started winning a lot of improbable 1 and 2 run decisions like this one. Sorry.  If the Rays were a better club than the Jays in 2008, it wasn't by much. But in 2009, with the Rays likely getting a full season from Price and Burrell and the Jays missing Marcum and Burnett, the talent levels of the two clubs are not really comparable. 

The frustrating part is that the Jays could beat their Pythagorean by 8 games in 2009, win 89 games and finish third.
John Northey - Thursday, February 05 2009 @ 11:02 AM EST (#196109) #
Always interesting to compare teams.

Rays in 2008, when everything went right (if a team wins 97 games after never winning 70 everything had to go right).
Offense: OPS+ 99 - 8 guys over 120 games played
Pitching: ERA+ 116 - all 5 regular starters over 100 for ERA+ with 27+ starts each

Blue Jays in 2008
Offense: OPS+ 95 - 3 guys over 120 games played, 1 more over 110, 4 in the low 100's
Pitching: ERA+ 122 - 4 starters with 25+ starts, just 8 starters used

So, from this we quickly see the Jays were in eyeshot of the Rays in offense despite Wilkerson & crew in the lineup.  The Rays had almost a full lineup play 75% of the season while the Jays had just 3 do so.  The Jays rotation was very healthy, but the Rays even more so. 

The elephant in the room though is the age.  The Rays are young and cheap, the Jays a bit older and more expensive.  Of course, that can be a plus (higher potential) or a negative (less established, could drop quickly).

Still, for the Jays I think the big key in 2009 is health & avoiding odd choices (ie: Lind in AAA).  If the rotation is healthy, if the lineup has good health (120+ from Wells/Rios/Lind/Overbay/Rolen/Hill/Scutaro/Snider) then the Jays could have a major jump.  Imagine instead of Shannon Stewart in the lineup for 52 games that we had Lind in it (shifts from 88 games for Lind to 140).  Imagine instead of Thomas/Wilkerson we had Snider for 125 games (including the 24 Snider played).  Lots of potential there for improvement if we just have those two in the lineup instead of the dead weight that was used in 2008.

Of course, flip side is AJ is gone, replaced by who knows what at the bottom of the rotation (Litsch/Halladay just fill their own slots) and Marcum's 126 ERA+ over 151 IP will be tough to replace.  On the plus side is that Purcey should be better than the 77 ERA+ he put up in 2008 and McGowan only had a 98 ERA+ while AJ was at 105 so doing as well as those figures for 53 starts (basically league average) will be the Jays challenge while hoping that McGowan can come back early and match Marcum's 2008.  The pen also will be a challenge as odds are we won't have the top 9 guys used with ERA+'s over 100 again no matter how good (or plentiful) they are.
christaylor - Thursday, February 05 2009 @ 11:07 AM EST (#196110) #
If you think Wells is  "no better than a bunch of other guys like David Dejesus, Jim Edmonds, Marlon Byrd, and so on." There's no way we can do anything but agree to disagree. There's no major league scout that would make that comparison. They compare Wells to players like Beltran and Hunter and slot Wells in between. Just using stats you get Winfield, Dawson, Bell and Carlos Lee on Wells' comparables through age 29. The comparisons that you've suggested are ridiculous. I've never disagreed that Wells will be overpaid during the years when he will make $20M+ but your perception of his talent level is throughly skewed.
Mike Green - Thursday, February 05 2009 @ 11:43 AM EST (#196111) #
Wells is nothing like Beltran or Winfield, due to his much, much lower walk rate.  He's halfway between Hunter and Dawson as a hitter, and is perfectly capable of posting an OPS+ of 130-35 as a corner outfielder in his 30s.  It would be really nice if he became more patient, but usually you'll see evidence of that before a player turns 30. 
92-93 - Thursday, February 05 2009 @ 12:44 PM EST (#196112) #
"Wells is nothing like Beltran or Winfield, due to his much, much lower walk rate."

And a much, much lower K rate. Their ceilings are both around .360/.550, so while they might not get there the same way, they aren't "nothing alike".
Mike Green - Thursday, February 05 2009 @ 01:45 PM EST (#196115) #
Beltran already has 3 seasons with an OBP over .375; for his career, he's 14 points over league average.  Wells' season best is .359; for his career, he's 6 points under league average.  20 points of OBP is a big, big deal. In Winfield's case, he played most of his 20s in San Diego, where the park-adjusted OBP was .320.  Winfield's career OBP as of age 29 was .357.  There is no comparison between him and Wells.

Mick Doherty - Thursday, February 05 2009 @ 02:28 PM EST (#196118) #

Calling Price unproven is silly. Yes, yes, small sample size alert and all that, but more than half of his limited (19+) big league innings have come in the post-season. Overall, combining his regular season and playoff stats, the guy has put up this big league line:

10 games (1 start), 19.1 IP, 1-0, 1/1 saves, 1.88 ERA, 8BB, 20K

Criminey, Balfour shouldn't close, he should be setting up Price! I know, Price is -- and should be -- bound for the rotation eventually, but right now at 22-going-on-23, he's positively Eck-esque.

MatO - Thursday, February 05 2009 @ 03:11 PM EST (#196124) #

he's positively Eck-esque.

8BB in 19IP?  I think Eck would beg to differ.

Price certainly didn't blow them away in the minors so I think he needs some time in AAA or long relief in the majors.  He reminds me a lot of Andrew Miller.  Big lefty with a great fastball but inconsistent breaking stuff and Miller was pretty awful in a pitcher's park in Florida in 2008.

John Northey - Thursday, February 05 2009 @ 03:19 PM EST (#196125) #
I'm sure Mick is doing a bit of overkill there.  19 IP is not much of anything to judge a player on, and a walk per 9 IP rate of 3.7 is extremely far from Eck-esque.

Price just started pro ball in 2008.  He had less than a K per IP in AA/AAA/ML and was at 9.6 in A+.  Not counting playoffs he threw 123 2/3 IP with 101 hits allowed, 36 BB, 121 K.  Very good and he should be viewed as a top prospect but he is hardly proven.  His high water mark for IP in college was 133.  Thus in 2009 he shouldn't go more than 160 innings unless Tampa likes taking big risks.
Timbuck2 - Thursday, February 05 2009 @ 03:27 PM EST (#196126) #
One thing to keep in mind about Price's performance is the fact that all the hitters he faced in the playoffs had never faced him before.  In that situation the pitcher always has the advantage. 
TamRa - Thursday, February 05 2009 @ 04:17 PM EST (#196127) #
Forgive me, all, for selective quoting but there's a lot to respond to:

Really? Crawford is 27. Rolen is 33 - this is significant.

Yes, it is. But my point is that, short of an obvious health question (McGowan is the obvious example) if you are going to "assume health" in your (generic "your") projections then do so across the board. If rolen is getting corterzone shots in ST (or Crawford) then I modify that position.

I don't understand the cutting slack for Longoria and Wells

It simply means both missed time and the missed time impaced their teams respectively. If a projection assumes the Rays benifit from EL playing 155 games instead of 122, then one must also assume likewise for Wells.

Longoria posted a 125 OPS+. If we cut him some slack for his injury, what does that mean? He might post a 140 OPS+ this year? He very well might. If we cut slack for Vernon's injury, what could we reasonable expect for a full season, a 125 OPS+? I don't think that's unrealistic or low-balling him.

Well, again, I wasn't referring to potential upside. That would be a different factor in the calculation, I was speaking of playing time. but since you mention it, saying Longoria "might" post a 140 is valid. But it's also valid of Upton, and Rios, and even Snider. That is a more subjective area of projection and obviously opinions will vary.

you are failing to consider is the ages of the respective starters

Let me modify your list a bit, as I see it, considering not just 2009 but the next 3-5 years:

C   - 25 versus 33 / 23 - JPA is the presumed future and likely as good a hitter as Navi at a minimum
1B - 31 versus 32
2B - 30 versus 27
SS - 29 versus 33
3B - 23 versus 34
LF - 27 versus 25 / 22 Snider is the LF, Lind is the DH
CF - 24 versus 30
RF - 29 versus 28
DH - 32 versus 25 < you didn't mention DH at all

So on the hitters, we have the advantage at LF, DH, and 2B - they have the advantage at CF, 3B, and - for 2009 - catcher.

I don't see a distinct advantage. They do have a younger rotation but no pitcher under 30 is in any danger of getting old, and Doc is an exceptional 32 year old i'm sure we agree.
----------------------------
There is simply much more evidence to believe that Crawford is capable of returning to his previous heights than Rolen.

I would agree that if you are betting on one of them, bet on Crawford. But the point remains that you either assume health, or you don't. that's all I was saying. Unless a player is coming into the season nursing injury, you assume health. I'll give you a non-homeristic example. A lot of people look at the Yankees and rationalize away their rotation because "AJ is bound to get hurt and probably CC too"

Do I think AJ will likely have an injury? Yeah. but when I do projections for the Yankees, I ASSUME he's going to make 32 starts. There's already so much speculation involved in projecting that trying to guess the impact of injuries just andds another leayer of guesswork. I don't mean this when it comes to projections like CHONE or ZIPS...i mean it on an intuitive level. It seems to me that if you say "is team X better than team Y" that you HAVE to approach it from an "all other things being equal" point of view. Because while you know other things WON'T be equal, you don't know HOW they will be inequal.

Also, I'm not sure how you can consider Purcey to be a "quality starter" given that he put up a 5.54 ERA in 12 major league starts

A figure noteable skewed by the spot starts. From the time Purcey got a regular turn, until he ran out of gas late in September (40+ innings past his previous career high) HIS ERA was in the low 4's with solid ratios. If he's the fifth best in that group he's going to be better than 90% of the fifth best starters on major league teams.

On a side note,

Admitted. But if he fails, or Purcey does, there's Cecil, and others, ...it's not like we default to Josh Towers anymore

There are reasons to think that sustained success is more likely for Price than it is for Cecil or Purcey or Mills

I agree. I wasn't questioning his long term value, just his first year impact (see Buchholz and many others). More to the point, I was questioning the posters assumption granted to Price that he did not then grant to Snider (who can make all the same arguments Price can)

That's because an average number 5 starter (even average in comparison to other MLB number 5s) would combine with the other four pitchers to make a strong rotation

In the context of 2009, that's quite true - and just as true of David Purcey as of David Price.
-------------------------------------------------

The frustrating part is that the Jays could beat their Pythagorean by 8 games in 2009, win 89 games and finish third.


Give their pytag was 92 last year, I should think that if we assume this year's team has more difficulty with the run differential then the pythag this year may well be just about where we finished in 2008 - mid 80's. which is to say that according to pythag we would be a worse team, but if we played to the pythag level the win total wouldn't drop much.

and that's without noting that - as you said - we could reverse last year's karma and be an 86 win team that won 92.
(albeit that depends a lot on how things break with the competition)







Ron - Thursday, February 05 2009 @ 04:35 PM EST (#196128) #
WillRain, I read your reply and it's obvious our opinions are vastly different. The only thing we can agree on is that we both have a passion for the Blue Jays.

On another note, Jon Heyman from SI is reporting  Andruw Jones turned down a minor league contract from the Yankees. It wasn't long ago that Jones appeared to be a near lock for the Hall Of Fame as long as he stayed healthy. I don't remember the last time a player of his calibre and age dropped off this quickly.

CeeBee - Thursday, February 05 2009 @ 07:53 PM EST (#196139) #

" I don't remember the last time a player of his calibre and age dropped off this quickly. "

Maybe his age really isn't his age? Otherwise I'm baffled too.

christaylor - Thursday, February 05 2009 @ 08:07 PM EST (#196142) #
I used Beltran and Winfield as examples because I've heard the Beltran comparison out a scouts' mouth more than once and the Winfield comparison because it is on Wells' baseball-reference page. I would agree that both are superior players to Wells but I'd also assert that they are better comparisons that the players that were listed in the comment I was responding to.
SheldonL - Thursday, February 05 2009 @ 08:34 PM EST (#196144) #
oooh, we should get Andruw Jones to play left field versus lefties! And maybe he'll get his power stroke and we'll have a solid power hitter for the cleanup spot. and then we'll have Snider at DH and Lind at 1B. It's just going to cost a minor league contract, c'mon, J.P! What good's a bad economy if we can't load up on such talent for such low prices.

I must backup WillRain here. David Price pitched 19 innings mostly in relief in lefty-lefty situations and facing hitters for the first time.
Tampa Bay is in for a rude awakening when the kid is struggling well into May. He's not more accomplished than Cecil as both jumped several levels with same levels of success.

As for lineups, both lineups will feature scary offenses; I know it sounds ridiculous to say so but the entire AL East save for Baltimore will annihilate pitchers. You've got A-Rod and Tex leading the NYY offense with wildcards in Cano, Swisher and Matsui. Despite deadweights like Lowell and Varitek, Boston features Pedroia, Youkilis and Bay with the ultimate wildcard in David Ortiz.
As for Tampa Bay, Crawford had an injury-plagued off-year and he's no doubt going to bounce back. Upton is way too talented and young not to improve on last year and pace himself much closer to 2007 stats; Longoria missed a month and he looks like he's for real. Carlos Pena will also be healthy and will be a solid power hitter for them.
Toronto will likewise be a force... shhh, don't gasp so loud!
Rios is going to regain his power stroke. Wells is much better than people here are painting him to be. People are criticizing him for a shoulder injury that robbed him off any strength in 2007, they refuse to look at 2008's tremendous power and solid average, they forget the terrific 2006 season he had, they point to subpar seasons in 2004-05 but fail to recognize the lack solid protection in the lineup and the fact that he was 26 and 27 in those years, they omit his incredible 2003 season and his very impressive 2002 season. Tsk, tsk!
We're going to have a healthy Aaron Hill and hopefully a healthy Rolen, and we're going to have full seasons from Lind and Snider. This is going to be a different offense where there are no blackholes such as Brad Wilkerson/Kevin Mench/Shannon Stewart.
Expect big things, Jays fans!
Glevin - Friday, February 06 2009 @ 08:36 AM EST (#196149) #
"If you think Wells is  "no better than a bunch of other guys like David Dejesus, Jim Edmonds, Marlon Byrd, and so on." There's no way we can do anything but agree to disagree. There's no major league scout that would make that comparison. They compare Wells to players like Beltran and Hunter and slot Wells in between. Just using stats you get Winfield, Dawson, Bell and Carlos Lee on Wells' comparables through age 29. The comparisons that you've suggested are ridiculous. I've never disagreed that Wells will be overpaid during the years when he will make $20M+ but your perception of his talent level is throughly skewed."

First of all, I never said he "is no better" than those guys. I said "last year offensively" he was no better, which is the truth (although Edmonds is going to end up with a much better career as well). I think Wells is actually very similar albeit slightly better than Hunter (and nowhere near Beltran noris he  a similar player). Vernon Wells is someone who could easily bounce back and be a very good player for the next five years or so, but up to this point, he has been overrated as almost everyone who hits HRs and doesn't walk inevitably is.  He's 30 and has had only two years where he was a legitimate middle of the order hitter. I think some people think of him as a great hitter who had a bad year because of injury, but he averaged an OPS of 101.67 in 3 of his first four seasons. He's had more poor to average offensive seasons than he has had good ones. People talked very highly of Garret  Anderson too (Wells is better in virtually every facet of the game), but that doesn't mean he was ever a very good player.
Glevin - Friday, February 06 2009 @ 08:56 AM EST (#196150) #
"Do I think AJ will likely have an injury? Yeah. but when I do projections for the Yankees, I ASSUME he's going to make 32 starts. There's already so much speculation involved in projecting that trying to guess the impact of injuries just andds another leayer of guesswork"

You are assuming that all players are equal and they are not. Yeah, maybe John Lester will hurt his shoulder, but you have to project him to throw his regular starts as he has not proven injury prone. Now, Rich Harden will be hurt. I can guarantee that because he is always hurt so I would never pencil in Harden for a full season. The same goes for dozens of other situations. It's an educated guess. So, when you look at Carl Crawford who is 27 and coming off an injury-filled year after five straight 140+ gp seasons, you cannot compare that to Rolen who will be 34 and has played 140+ only once in the last four years. Now, maybe Crawford will have a set-back and maybe Rolen will be healthy all year, but an educated guess will say that Crawford is much much more likely to bounce back.

"I don't see a distinct advantage. They do have a younger rotation but no pitcher under 30 is in any danger of getting old, and Doc is an exceptional 32 year old i'm sure we agree."

Here is the distinct advantage. Bill James lists Tampa third in his young talent inventory. The Jays are listed at 28th. The Rays have a top-3 farm system. The Jays are in the 15th-20 range.
Chuck - Friday, February 06 2009 @ 09:59 AM EST (#196152) #

I know it sounds ridiculous to say so but the entire AL East save for Baltimore will annihilate pitchers.
Toronto will likewise be a force...

While any post that promotes the possibility of Andruw Jones batting cleanup is one that betrays an unabashed optimism that we iconoclasts have little appetite for, I wish to comment on the claims of batting prowess in the AL East.

Last year's runs per game:  Bos 5.2, NY 4.9, Bal 4.9, TB 4.8, Tor 4.4. League average: 4.8.

The Yankees have added Teixeira and Swisher and lost Giambi and Abreu. Cano figures to improve. Nady and Jeter figure to regress. All of this looks like a wash at best. The wildcard is Posada. If he can't play or can't hit well, pitcher annihilation is not clearly forthcoming from this team and they could well be middle of the pack, as they were last year.

TB could well move beyond league average this year. But annihilation may be a ways off.

I see Toronto's offensive ceiling as league average, and I'd consider that a decent 2009.

It's funny that the one team that won't annihilate pitchers, Baltimore, ranked tied for second in runs last year and their major castoffs have been players with OPS+s in the 80s.

christaylor - Friday, February 06 2009 @ 10:34 AM EST (#196154) #
"I see Toronto's offensive ceiling as league average, and I'd consider that a decent 2009."

I agree, but if the team hits that ceiling, they'll easily be in the playoffs... such is the benefit of run prevention.

"While any post that promotes the possibility of Andruw Jones batting cleanup is one that betrays an unabashed optimism that we iconoclasts have little appetite for..."

...funny, I'd call the people who are optimistic about the Jays the iconoclasts - it seems that those who are pessimistic about the Jays chances are those who hold their beliefs with religious fervor who follow a prophet filled with folly named Richard Griffin.
zeppelinkm - Friday, February 06 2009 @ 11:53 AM EST (#196157) #

Our run preventation from last year, that is.

I think people are underestimating how difficult it will be for for the Jays to replace the 372 innings of 114 ERA+ ball that Marcum and Burnett threw last year. (I took a weighted average of each of their innings thrown to calculate the combined ERA+).

What combination of pitchers is going to step up and deliver us 375 innings of pitching this good? Purcey, Richmond, Jannsen? Is that realistic at all? No. Purcey is not an established MLB pitcher, and we would be DAMN thankful if he gave us 150 innings of average ball. Same with Richmond. Actually, if we got 300 average innings out of Purcey and Richmond I think everyone here would be thrilled.  But still 300 average innings from those guys still represents a significant step back from the quality of the innings Marcum and Burnett gave us. This means our runs allowed will go up, all else being equal. And what if Litsch regresses, even just a little bit? He could improve - it is very possible given his young age. However, he could just as easily regress to being a league average pitcher given his peripheral statistics.

Look, I am as optimistic as they come as a rule of nature. However, Tampa Bay has improved their team. NYY have improved their team. Boston has improved their team. Heck, even Baltimore has improved their team. The Jays have for all intents and purposes stood still, while losing their 2nd best starter from last year (Marcum), and a guy who gave them 221 innings of slightly above average ball (which I think is selling him short - he was unbelievably good in the 2nd half but his 'average' numbers are skewed by how bad he would be in some starts which doesn't matter as much - losing is losing). How can you reasonably expect their run prevenation to be as good as last year?

Chuck - Friday, February 06 2009 @ 12:27 PM EST (#196159) #

...funny, I'd call the people who are optimistic about the Jays the iconoclasts - it seems that those who are pessimistic about the Jays chances are those who hold their beliefs with religious fervor who follow a prophet filled with folly named Richard Griffin.

What you call pessimism I call skepticism (which is not the same as cynicism, for those inclined to interchange the two).

China fan - Friday, February 06 2009 @ 01:14 PM EST (#196162) #
Chuck, the point is that you cannot praise yourself as an "iconoclast" when you're simply echoing the conventional wisdom about the Jays.  The pack consensus about the Jays in 2009 is that they will not be a contender.  To be an "iconoclast", you would have to challenge that conventional thinking -- but you're not.  The definition of an iconoclast, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is:  "A person who attacks settled beliefs or institutions."  The settled belief about the Jays is that they don't have any hope of contending this year.  If you want to be an iconoclast, you need to be an optimist, like one of the small handful of people on this site who have suggested that the Jays might indeed have a chance this year.
Chuck - Friday, February 06 2009 @ 01:33 PM EST (#196165) #

To refer to oneself as an iconoclast is not "praise" (nor is it the opposite). And one can go through life considering oneself to be an iconoclast without necessarily opposing every single traditional viewpoint on absolutely everything. That's what a contrarian would do.

As for the context of my remark, there is much fanboyism at this site masquerading as critical thinking.

 

christaylor - Friday, February 06 2009 @ 01:46 PM EST (#196167) #
"How can you reasonably expect their run prevenation to be as good as last year?"

One reason why I expect the run prevention to be similar (perhaps a bit worse, but that'll be offset by not being historically bad with RISP for two months) because of the defense.

A second reason - look at Marcum's peripherals in 2007 and 2008. ERA+ really isn't the best measure of how good he was in 2008. He was the essentially the same pitcher in 2007 and 2008.

People forget how terrible AJ was for much of the year. In his first 20 starts, he gave up 8 runs 3 times, 7 once, 6 once, 5 twice. That's 47 of the Jays 610 runs... right there. AJ himself was on the mound for 8% of the total runs given up by the Jays for the entire season in his first 20 starts. There's no way the team gives any of their "project pitchers" (I include Cecil, Romero, Bullington, Clement and now Burres in the list that you provided) that much time to fail - it is possible that none of them can be league average but I'd bet that the Jays will be able to find one pitcher capable of being league average before any of the "projects" give up 47 runs.

I agree that TB, NY and BOS have improved. I agree that the Jays have an up hill climb in 2009. I just don't think the losses the Jays have suffered are that great, nor do I think the improvements TB have made anyway ensure that they'll get the same luck that they got in 2008. NY's replacements have filled positions vacated by very good players in 2008 (Mussina, Giambi). BOS is still good, but PECOTAs recent projections have made me feel better about how good they'll be...

...this has been a frustrating off-season, no doubt, but I think there's been too much Chicken Little in Jaysland. I'm willing to eat my words if the team is behind where the were in June 2008 come June 2009, but I'm fairly sure they won't be... at that point, it'll be up to JP to find a way to convince Beeston to "give back" AJ's (and Thomas', perhaps) 2009 money to the ML payroll.

This has been the first year in three that we've not heard "the Jays will compete in the upcoming season" but truth be told, I'm more optimistic about this team's chances than I have been about any of the past 3 teams. Sure that's out of step, sure a healthy skepticism is good... but I see more to like about this team than any other JP team. That said, if the team pulls another dumb decision a la leaving Lind in AAA last year for Stewart/Wilkermench then everything is off... but we'll see... bring on next week!
christaylor - Friday, February 06 2009 @ 02:34 PM EST (#196171) #
Your comments read as if you're still missing the point - one is no iconoclast on the matter of the 2009 Jays if one is merely spouting the prevailing opinion. I'm not sure you see yourself as doing that, but others certainly do. This is no slight (just as I'm sure you did not mean iconoclast as praise).
Chuck - Friday, February 06 2009 @ 02:42 PM EST (#196173) #

Optimism isn't the prevailing sentiment in these parts???

Perhaps we need a poll forecasting the team's number of wins this year. I may be misreading the general concensus, but I don't read the prevalent mood as non-optimistic, at least if the ratio of words-by-poster to sentiment is employed.

China fan - Friday, February 06 2009 @ 04:18 PM EST (#196180) #

Chuck, the vast majority of Bauxites who have expressed opinions on the 2009 season have clearly said that the Jays have little chance of contending.   This is obviously the conventional wisdom here.  (It doesn't matter how many words are posted by WillRain -- he is just one person, and he's clearly in the minority on this site.)   The point remains:  you can't call yourself an "iconoclast" if you are expressing a majority view.   It's very nice that you consider yourself an iconoclast, or a skeptic, or whatever -- but the true iconoclasts (by the dictionary definition) are those who express an unpopular minority view.  

 A poll would be a good way to prove the point, but I read the Box every day and only three or four people have suggested that the Jays have a serious chance of contending for the playoffs in 2009.   They are the real iconoclasts.    It doesn't take any courage at all to predict that the Jays will finish 4th.  It's a boring, conventional viewpoint.  I'm much more interested in the scenarios that suggest the Jays might have a chance.

Chuck - Friday, February 06 2009 @ 04:33 PM EST (#196181) #

It doesn't take any courage at all to predict that the Jays will finish 4th.

Predicting anything other than a 4th place finish takes courage? Really? Courage?

Juan Pierre will win the homerun title. Am I courageous now?

China fan - Friday, February 06 2009 @ 04:40 PM EST (#196182) #
Chuck, you're a nit-picker.  Forget the word "courage."   Explain why you think you're an "iconoclast."  But check the dictionary definition first.
Chuck - Friday, February 06 2009 @ 04:43 PM EST (#196183) #
Maybe I can look up iconoclast while you are looking up courage. And then you can remember who nitpicked first.
Mick Doherty - Friday, February 06 2009 @ 05:02 PM EST (#196184) #

Perhaps we need a poll forecasting the team's number of wins this year.

Good idea. But as I noted in the Alomar/Kent thread, for some reason, post-a-poll is not working for me right now. Maybe one of the other intrepid Bauxite roosters will have better luck.

Mike Green - Friday, February 06 2009 @ 05:07 PM EST (#196185) #
Bauxite roosters

With all the pecking going on, maybe all the roosters are chicken...

/bad mid 60s comic

christaylor - Friday, February 06 2009 @ 06:17 PM EST (#196187) #
I don't know if this helps at all, but I can't even see the poll right now - it is missing from its usual place in the left hand "frame". Perhaps something more general wrong with the polling than just posting.
TamRa - Friday, February 06 2009 @ 09:39 PM EST (#196193) #

Predicting anything other than a 4th place finish takes courage? Really? Courage?

Juan Pierre will win the homerun title. Am I courageous now?


Are you saying the odds for each are generally equal?

I would disagree with that in the strongest terms.



TamRa - Friday, February 06 2009 @ 09:42 PM EST (#196194) #
the true iconoclasts (by the dictionary definition) are those who express an unpopular minority view. 

HEY! I resemble that remark!!

Nyuk, nyuk!

TamRa - Friday, February 06 2009 @ 09:50 PM EST (#196195) #
What combination of pitchers is going to step up and deliver us 375 innings of pitching this good?

One question. If I asked you on February 6, 2007 - "How much do you expect the  Jays to get out of Dustin McGowan, Shaun Marcum, and Jesse Listch as major league starters this season?"

What would you have said?

christaylor - Friday, February 06 2009 @ 11:12 PM EST (#196197) #
I know the question wasn't directed at me (even though it looks that way in the threading) but I don't think anyone can anything other than "not much". In Feb 07 McGowan was a failed prospect, Marcum had one memorable start on the last home game of the season against BOS (if I recall) and Litsch was better known for being a bat boy than a pitcher (I jest).

The question raises a good point - these were the prospects who emerged during "worst farm system in the majors" (I exaggerate, but not by much) years. In 2007, Brian Bullington coming back from arm injury was more touted by some than (at least two of) the trio listed in Feb 2007.
SheldonL - Saturday, February 07 2009 @ 12:20 AM EST (#196198) #
When Henri Bergson said that people only perceive what's interesting and not the entire picture, he wasn't kidding!

Chuck, if you read my post with any sort of awareness, you would have read that I wasn't advocating for Andruw Jones to hit cleanup but merely to take a low risk incentive based gamble on a guy who might regain his power stroke in which case he would be a godsend as a cleanup hitter.
They guy hasn't hit less than 26 homers in a full season. Before his struggles (i.e. before 2007) he'd only slugged less than .500 in a full season 3 times and it was never below .463. That's pretty damn good.

As for Glevin, it's funny how Wells has only been a middle of the order hitter just twice (I'm assuming 2003 and 2006 here); did you not notice last year?
2007 was a wash because of the injury but please, Glevin, explain to me where Wells would have fit in our batting order in 2004 and 2005!
If you're going to criticize a guy(Wells, not me), at least do us all some respect and present a well-defended argument.
Chuck - Saturday, February 07 2009 @ 07:51 AM EST (#196201) #

Are you saying the odds for each are generally equal? I would disagree with that in the strongest terms.

Insofar as I didn't say that, you can safely infer that I didn't say that. No need for the whole straw man thing.

Glevin - Saturday, February 07 2009 @ 08:30 AM EST (#196202) #
"As for Glevin, it's funny how Wells has only been a middle of the order hitter just twice (I'm assuming 2003 and 2006 here); did you not notice last year?
2007 was a wash because of the injury but please, Glevin, explain to me where Wells would have fit in our batting order in 2004 and 2005!
If you're going to criticize a guy(Wells, not me), at least do us all some respect and present a well-defended argument."

I didn't mean he wasn't a middle of the order type of guy for the Jays, just that he has only had two years where he'd be a middle of the order guy on a contending team... Jose Loipez is a middle of the order guy but that says more about Seattle than it does about him...and  I can also include last year where his SLG-heavy OPS+ of 121 was borderline middle of the order calibre. The OFers in the AL with 400+ PAs who had OPS+ between 118-123 (2 each way from Wells' 121) last year were Damon, Abreu, Wells, Kubel, DeJesus, and Byrd. I realise that "middle of the order kind of guy" is subjective, but would you have any of those guys hitting third or fourth on a contending team?

In comparison, OFers whose OPS+ were in the range of Well's 03 and 06 seasons (129-132, let's make it 128-133...) were Bay, Dye,  Sizemore, and Vlad.
zeppelinkm - Saturday, February 07 2009 @ 09:25 AM EST (#196203) #

WillRain: Do you mean Feb 6, 2008? Going into last season?  I'm a huge McGowan fan and after his strong finish to the season in 2007, I thought he was going to emerge as the true #2 on this team and eliminate the need to worry about Burnett opting out. Heh, good thing I don't bet on these things .  So I would have pegged him for around 175 high quality innings and then Marcum/Litsch providing 200 average innings certainly doesn't seem crazy. Marcum's success didn't surprise me, but Litsch's did. 

 

 

zeppelinkm - Saturday, February 07 2009 @ 09:49 AM EST (#196204) #

Say it was Feb 07, I don't think it was nearly as bad as you describe Chris. It was during that off season that McGowan figured out he had diabetes and that he was finally at a proper weight and his conditioning was good as a result of adjusting his diet accordingly. There was a lot of hope and optimism around him, but it was carefully guarded because of how often he had failed to live upto expectations before.

My assessment of Marcum then? Actually, this is kind of funny. I was a fan of Marcum because of Mike Green's undying assessment that he is/will be a good pitcher which he has been saying for years on this site. One good start the year before is selling him short. There was potential there. Litsch was the true wildcard, and what we need is someone from the group of Richmond/Cecil/Mills/Romero to go all Jesse Litsch on the league in 2009. In other words, one of the guys that is really under the radar to break out (and not that Cecil is under the radar, but he's still so young and fragile, relatively speaking). And then we NEED Purcey to be average for a good number of innings and McGowan to finally emerge, in late May, as our true #2.  This is what our rotation needs, and I do agree it is not an insane proposition, there are just a lot of things that have to break right.

All that being said there were fans who did like and predicted success for Marcum and McGowan, if not Litsch, in Feb 2007. McGowan was not yet a failed prospect, and Marcum was on more than just one persons radar.

TamRa - Saturday, February 07 2009 @ 01:12 PM EST (#196212) #
Do you mean Feb 6, 2008? Going into last season?  I'm a huge McGowan fan and after his strong finish to the season in 2007, I thought he was going to emerge as the true #2 on this team and eliminate the need to worry about Burnett opting out. Heh, good thing I don't bet on these things .

And your expectations were perfectly valid based on the track record you were looking at. You can hardly use unexpected (by definition) injuries as a comparison to what I am claiming. Any time you "bet on these things" you are gambling against injury but we're not talking about injury here, we're talking about the normal development curve for young pitchers. Any fool knows that anyone - including Doc - can get hurt and thus fail to meet reasonable expectations.




All that being said there were fans who did like and predicted success for Marcum and McGowan, if not Litsch, in Feb 2007. McGowan was not yet a failed prospect, and Marcum was on more than just one persons radar.

True. And there are fans that like and predict success for Purcey and Janssen this year - why are we worthy of less regard than those who liked McGowan and Marcum two years ago? Do you REALLY think I'm the ONLY fan (or professional) who has Janssen "on his radar"?

No less a person than the General Manager of the team believes as i do, if I am not mistaken. If he were not coming off an injury he'd be the "sexy pick" among most fans i expect.

In both cases, M&M and J&P, there was/is admittedly a high degree of uncertainty, but also solid reason for optimism. Yet in hindsight, their optimism was okay because it worked out, while mine is worthy of skepticism.

that seems to be a double standard IMO.

I think sometimes people try so hard to mitigate against homorism in their opinions that they over-compensate and correct too far in the other direction.

Chuck - Saturday, February 07 2009 @ 01:33 PM EST (#196213) #

If he were not coming off an injury he'd be the "sexy pick" among most fans i expect.

Agreed, but the surgery changes everything.

I think you'd have found a full Janssen bandwagon on the heels of his superb 2007 season. But the man is returning from surgery for a torn labrum. That's pretty serious and that is causing many to temper their expectations for Janssen in 2009. It's not a shot against him or his potential. It's simply the recognition of the uphill battle that he faces to re-establish himself. I'm sure we'd all be nervous about what to expect from Halladay a year removed from that same surgery.

92-93 - Saturday, February 07 2009 @ 03:09 PM EST (#196219) #
On the topic of this middle of the order calibre debate - in 1992 and 1993 Joe Carter's OPS+ was 119 and 113.
zeppelinkm - Saturday, February 07 2009 @ 04:49 PM EST (#196223) #

Chuck: Exactly. Will: I would love to be wrong! Trust me... and it's mostly because of the different circumstances. Jannsen was a guy who quickly became a favorite of mine with his driving leg kick and aggressive "go get em" pitching style. But he's coming back from a major surgery - i'm tempering my expectations. Maybe this is the double standard I'm guilty of - continually having high expectations for McGowan despite his injury riddled past and tempering expectations for Jannsen because of his surgery.

I just think the upside of M&M was higher before they become established as MLB regulars then what I thought the upside of Jannsen/Purcey is. I've always thought McGowan could be an ace, and therefore have high expectations for him every year. I think Janssen/Marcum/Purcey all have similiar potential upsides - best case scenario for all of these guys would be good #3 pitchers. Worst case scenario is they flame out and the success any of them has already achieved is their MLB career.

Glevin - Saturday, February 07 2009 @ 10:27 PM EST (#196230) #
"On the topic of this middle of the order calibre debate - in 1992 and 1993 Joe Carter's OPS+ was 119 and 113."

And Carter was the fourth or fifth best hitter on the team in each of those years. He really was more of a 5th place hitter. Cito's lineup construction in those teams was quite poor as Devon White was a terrible leadoff hitter as well.
92-93 - Saturday, February 07 2009 @ 10:55 PM EST (#196231) #
And yet those lineups worked, Carter drove in more than 100 runs on a yearly basis, and the Jays were a championship calibre team for years. All of that may have happened despite a bunch of poor lineup decisions, but it's irrelevant. Your point was that a team can't be championship-calibre if it has such a low OPS+ like Vernon hitting in the heart of its order, and that isn't correct.
Glevin - Sunday, February 08 2009 @ 12:23 AM EST (#196232) #
"Your point was that a team can't be championship-calibre if it has such a low OPS+ like Vernon hitting in the heart of its order, and that isn't correct."

This is like the fourth time on this thread that people have refuted something other than what I was arguing. I didn't say a team "can't" have a hitter like Vernon in the heart of the order, just that he is not a middle of the order calibre hitter on a contending team. There have been teams with much worse middle of the order hitters who have won the World Series. (Of course, not with a team whose best offensive player is the calibre of Wells) Perhaps, I will simplify this argument so it cannot be misconstrued.

Wells in seven years has been a great hitter twice, a good hitter once, an average hitter three times, and a poor hitter once. So many people on this board seem to think that Wells is a great hitter and while he definitely has the potential to still turn things around, Wells for his career has been an above average offensive player. His career OPS+ is the same as Frank Catalanotto's or Sean Casey's. Yes, he is capable of putting together a great year, but he is as likely to have an OPS of .780 as he is an OPS of .900. Wells has also been helped a lot by the Rogers Centre/Skydome featuring an OPS of .773 on the road over his career. (.853 at home). He is not like Rios or Lind, he is 30 and has had seven full major league seasons which seems sufficiant to judge what type of hitter he is. I expect roughly a return to last year's numbers for the next couple of years (with missing some time with injuries) before a move to RF in maybe 2011 and a gradual decline in offense. I don't see any way that Wells will be worth anything near what the Jays are going to pay him. (And worth to the Jays is very different than what he would get as a free agent). If they can trade him, they must.


""And yet those lineups worked, Carter drove in more than 100 runs on a yearly basis, and the Jays were a championship calibre team for years."

Bob Brenley did the worst job managing I have ever seen in my life in 2001 and they still won the WS. Managing just isn't that important in baseball. Carter drove in so many runs because he had so many opportunities.
TamRa - Sunday, February 08 2009 @ 02:10 AM EST (#196234) #
(Of course, not with a team whose best offensive player is the calibre of Wells)

Do you mean in the championship year, or on their career?

Wells at his best is maybe a 130 OPS+ guy

the 2008 Phillies were led by Utley at 135
2005 White Sox - Kenerko 136
2003 Marlins - Derrik Lee 131
2002 Angels - Salmon 133
1997 Yankees - Sheffield 134
1996 Yankees - Jeter - 131

So yeah, Wells would have to equal his best year to not be the worst "best hitter" to lead his team to the WS, but the difference in his best years and the guys I listed is not a huge gulf to overcome.


TamRa - Sunday, February 08 2009 @ 02:15 AM EST (#196235) #
""And yet those lineups worked, Carter drove in more than 100 runs on a yearly basis, and the Jays were a championship calibre team for years."

There might be a lesson there about over-thinking lineup construction....but then those hitters were SO good they could overcome some screwups too so maybe not.

zeppelinkm - Sunday, February 08 2009 @ 05:52 AM EST (#196236) #

I think a lot of the success for 1992 Jays had to do with 6 starters who had these OPS+: 137, 129, 126, 124, 119, and 109.

1993's top 6? 186, 143, 141, 115, 112, 108.

Carter was the 119 in 1992 and the 112 in 1993.

Those are a couple of elite offensive teams.

The 2008 Red Sox (2nd in AL in runs) top 6 from starters looked like this: 143, 137, 136, 123, 122, 103.
The 2007 Rockies  (2nd in the NL in runs, first in numerous categories): 150, 133, 129, 112, 111, 108
The 2008 Cubs (1st in runs in NL, first in other categories like OBP/SLG): 136, 128, 121, 120, 118, 110

I'm not sure what my point is... other than when you have 6 above average hitters in your lineup, it probably doesn't matter how you order them. As long as they are grouped together they are going to score a pile of runs.

Just of note... that Cubs offence in 2008 is ridiculous. After those 6 guys you have Fontenot on the bench who posted a 131 OPS+ over 243 AB's, and the 3 other players who got the bulk of playing time were Reed Johnson, Theriot, and Fukudome who posted OPS+'s of 99, 93, and 90 respectively. Not a single "black hole". The lowest OBP of any of the 10 guys who played the most for them was Soriano at .344. Fortunately, he slugged .532 to make up for not pulling his OBP weight.  What an offence. A quick look at the pitching staff makes you really appreciate the beauty of the 7 game series, and just how random it is.

 

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