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It's the rubber match.  On paper it's a mismatch, Hiroki Kuroda faces Todd Redmond.  Kuroda has been the Yankees best pitcher this season while Redmond has gone from "good candidate for the number 5 starter next year" to "will he make another start?".  It's time for Redmond to bounce back but he faces a tough opponent.

Goins is back in the number 2 spot in the order.  Gose plays against the righty.  Sierra and Davis get the nod over Pillar, Sierra likely becuase of his three hits last night.
Game thread - 8/28 vs New York | 68 comments | Create New Account
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smcs - Wednesday, August 28 2013 @ 06:11 PM EDT (#278485) #
Mark Reynolds is starting at 2B for the Yankees tonight.
smcs - Wednesday, August 28 2013 @ 07:39 PM EDT (#278486) #
If that K-PB-E2 sequence had happened to the Blue Jays, it would be evidence that Gibby should be fired. Just the same if Davis. Had been thrown out at the plate. These issues of 'fundamentals' happen to every team, but we only focus on the ones that happen to the Jays.
Magpie - Wednesday, August 28 2013 @ 07:48 PM EDT (#278487) #
These issues of 'fundamentals' happen to every team

Yes, but the issue is the frequency with which they happen. Said frequency was at least as big an issue in 2012, of course. I don't think Gibbons was the right guy to hire if you wanted to solve the problem. But I don't think that's why he was hired anyway.
Richard S.S. - Wednesday, August 28 2013 @ 09:14 PM EDT (#278489) #
A.A. doesn't think John Gibbons should have been fired when he was last time. So he's going nowhere now.

He's made that motley crew of pitchers called a Bullpen into prominence. As much as they were needed, I'm surprised they are still effective. That's Gibby's strength.

Ball Players after three years have established Career Norms. When they don't perform up to those standards, it's their fault and no one else's.
Magpie - Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 07:53 AM EDT (#278497) #
From Davidi's game story:

During the fourth inning Wednesday, [Goins] took a perfect throw to the cut-off man from Anthony Gose in centre field (no need to pinch yourself Blue Jays fans, that actually happened) and fired a relay home so strong and accurate that J.P. Arencibia barely needed to move to tag Alex Rodriguez for the out....

The two plays felt like a-ha moments, providing a glimpse of what proper defence there actually looks like.

“We haven’t had a lot of those,” manager John Gibbons of the 8-4-2 putout. “Was it the first?”

That such a question can be reasonably asked gives you an idea of how low the bar has been set.

I am happy to answer the manager's question. Yes, it was the first 8-4-2 putout by the Jays this season; it was the team''s second successful outfield-infield  relay this season, the other being a Cabrera-Kawasaki-Arencibia play to get Markakis at home back on May 26.

Last night's play was the third BaseRunner Kill by a Jays centre fielder, the others being Davis 8-4 forceout last week when his catch was ruled a trap. Rasmus doubled a man off first base on July 6, for the only out he's contributed..

In LF, Cabrera caught two men 7-4 trying to stretch a single into a double, along iwth his relay to home. Davis and Pillar both nailed a man at home 7-2.

In RF, Bautista has thrown out four men trying to score (9-2), caught three men off first for 9-3 double plays (9-3) and thrown out one man trying to go to third (9-5).  Davis also threw out a man trying to score (9-2).
Magpie - Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 09:15 AM EDT (#278498) #
Ball Players after three years have established Career Norms. When they don't perform up to those standards, it's their fault and no one else's.

I agree with roughly half of that. If players don't perform up top their established standard, it's probably not the manager's fault.

But Edwin Encarnacion had a very well established career norm after seven years and almost 800 games in the majors. I don't think it applies anymore, and I think it's because John Farrell relieved him of the stress of playing third base. Marco Scutaro and Jose Bautista had both been around for more than five years. No one believed they were much more than bench depth until their paths intersected with Cito Gaston. And now they're millionaires. Those things happened right in front of us, in the last five years. It's a key part of what some managers can bring to the table, with hitters or pitchers or fielders.

It's not always the manager himself who's directly responsible; sometimes it's a coach he brings with him from gig to gig. Like Art Fowler with Billy Martin, Dave Duncan with Tony LaRussa.
92-93 - Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 09:19 AM EDT (#278499) #
You can just come straight out and say Gibbons need to go, Mags.
Gerry - Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 09:48 AM EDT (#278501) #
Even though Gibbons is safe you have to wonder about some of the coaches.  With the struggles of the pitching staff Pete Walker has to be worried, particularly with a potential successor in the bullpen.
Magpie - Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 09:55 AM EDT (#278503) #
You can just come straight out and say Gibbons need to go, Mags.

I'm not there yet. Really. I bring the snark, I know. But hey - everyone connected with this organization richly deserves every ounce of snark I can muster. And with respect to Gibbons, have I mentioned that the most disappointing seasons in recent team history are 2006, 2008, and 2013?  Oh, I doubt that Gibbons is the solution. But I don't think he's the problem, either. And I'm not sure that the solution to the team's problems is going to come from the manager, whoever that may be. Maybe, maybe not. Not sure.

When Gibbons was brought back, we put up the Manager's Box for him again, and this was what I said about him towards the end:

Gibbons has no interest in using the game to show how clever he is - the decisions he makes are almost bland in being a general expression of either common sense or conventional wisdom. He doesn't really try bring his own vision to the table - he functions as a dugout extension of the GM.

He's an organization man. He'll do what the organization wants, He'll work with the coaches the organization hires. He won't fight with his GM to impose his own ideas about baseball. He'll manage the games for you. And that's what I think he was hired to do.  And If the organization knows what it's doing, and gives him the right tools, I don't see why he can't be successful. But if the organization doesn't do that for him, he's cooked.  He doesn't have a ghost of a chance. He's not the guy to make chicken salad out of some less appetizing ingredients. Unfortunately, that's what the job required this year - a world-class Problem Solver, a Fixer. That's not Gibbons' strength - but it's never a situation you want your team to be in, anyway.. So one hopes that next year will be different, and he can just manage the games. I think he's pretty good at that part of the job.
Wildrose - Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 10:08 AM EDT (#278505) #
No one believed they were much more than bench depth until their paths intersected with Cito Gaston.

Yet one of the first things AA had to do after replacing Ricciardi was put down a club house mutiny ( In Detroit I believe ) brought on by Cito's ( and to large degree his prime lieutenant Gene Tenace's ) poor communication skills with the entire team ( from Jeff Blair's book).

Yes, Cito had his strengths, but managing today's modern athlete at his age as a group apparently wasn't one of them. I'll say this about Gibbon's, nary a word about the clubhouse being in disarray ( and believe me in the Toronto media market we'd hear about it).

I do agree that Walker may be in trouble. This is only his second year as a pitching coach ( 1 year in the minors) and I could see them wanting a more experienced hand.
Wildrose - Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 10:18 AM EDT (#278506) #
He's an organization man. He'll do what the organization wants, He'll work with the coaches the organization hires. He won't fight with his GM to impose his own ideas about baseball.

In other words he's Walter Alston, who managed the Dodgers quite successfully I might add, for 23 years on a series of one year contracts until retirement. This is how I would run things if I owned a team. Talent in my opinion wins, as they are fond of saying in the sport of Queens," when was the last time you saw a jockey carry a horse across the finish line? "
ogator - Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 10:28 AM EDT (#278507) #
Was it a coincidence that the 8-4-2 put out of Rodriguez at home came the day the outfield practiced in the afternoon? Who knows? What I think needs to be talked about is the negative effect that ego has on the culture of the team. Would Gibbons have dragged Bautista, Rasmus and Melky out in the afternoon to practice relays? I don't think so. I think one thing that needs to change about the team is the sense of entitlement that many of the current players bring. Veteran presence is supposed to mean knowing how to play baseball. It is not supposed to mean missing cut-off men, arguing with umpires about balls and strikes and avoiding the kind of practice that leads to sound fundamentals i.e. hitting cut-off men, making sure that one knows how to bunt when that strategy is absolutely necessary, knowing how to hit the ball in a hit and run situation, and hitting to right field to advance a runner. I think ego seems to make some of the current players feel that they are above practicing such skills and I think that ego is costing the team games. I think the team needs a manager who has the cojones to address such issues. He doesn't have to be willing to brawl with players in the tunnel. He does have to say, "this is the way we're going to play."
Magpie - Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 11:24 AM EDT (#278509) #
nary a word about the clubhouse being in disarray

Oh, whoop-dee-dam-doo.

Really. When the team sucks, I want a little clubhouse unhappiness. I think it's appropriate. I don't want Chuck Tanner, all happiness and good cheer, and 20 games out of first place.

I didn't think the famous clubhouse mutiny was that big a problem for Anthopoulos. There were only two days left in the season when he took over on a Saturday. Problems in the clubhouse? Well, the clubhouse is going to be empty on Monday. Who cares? I haven't read Blair's book, so I hadn't heard anything about Tenace being near the centre of things. At the time Rosenthal, who broke the story, said it was veterans "unhappy about reduced playing time." It was always my own impression that the centre of discontent was in the bullpen, where they were unhappy with how Gaston had thrown B.J. Ryan off the train. But I find it very easy to believe. Tenace was always very tough on young players. That's when he wasn't being actually brutal. He was always like that. I heard those sort of stories about him when he was coaching in the NL back in the 1980s. The man was a bully. (I always assumed that was one of the reasons Gaston liked having him around.)

That said, I completely agree that Gaston didn't do a good job in 2009. He did a terrible job. He got frustrated, lost interest, and phoned it for the last three months. In my now-annual Report Card - coming soon to a Batters Box near you, and it won't be pretty - I gave Gaston a richly deserved E for his work in 2009. I can pretty well guarantee that Gibbons is going to get better than that from me this year. Despite the fact that the 2013 team is likely to have a worse record with more impressive talent than the 2009 team.
Magpie - Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 11:30 AM EDT (#278510) #
managing today's modern athlete

Is an interesting subject. It's the veterans, by the way, who are the difficult ones. Not the young players.
dalimon5 - Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 11:42 AM EDT (#278511) #
Everyone's hitting the nail on the head. Great thread.

It seems there's a general agreement that the issues are on the players but a better manager can do more to at least better the situation.

I find the problems with the veterans telling.

Changing gears...why oh why is Aaron Sanchez taking so long to develop? I'm sure there's plenty of other young pitchers his age in the minors but how many other top prospects with elite potential are there who are still toiling away in the low minors?

I looked at his minors numbers and age relative to guys like Harvey and Fernandez (who was ranked behind him before this year) and it looks like they just have better numbers than him. Especially telling is the consistency.

Magpie, any intel at all here?
Gerry - Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 11:53 AM EDT (#278512) #

Matt Harvey is 24.  Aaron Sanchez and Jose Fernandez are 21.

Sanchez is on pace to be in the major leagues at age 22 or 23.  I don't see a problem.

Wildrose - Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 11:58 AM EDT (#278513) #
Really. When the team sucks, I want a little clubhouse unhappiness. I think it's appropriate. I don't want Chuck Tanner, all happiness and good cheer, and 20 games out of first place.

I doubt the players are " happy " with the current situation, what you don't want is total chaos.  I mean most of us have worked in a totally dysfunctional workplace. It's not a pretty environment, hatred of the boss, back biting and cliques among the employees. It's not very conducive to success. It's especially bad on a baseball team where you spend an inordinate amount of time traveling with one another. Given that the core of the team is returning next year I'm glad they don't have those kind of problems.

What they need is more health and more talent.
Beyonder - Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 12:04 PM EDT (#278514) #
Looks like Rowdy Tellez was waiting for me to refer to him sarcastically as the Crown Jewel of the 2013 draft before actually playing like it. Another home run for him today, this one a grand slam.

Unfortunately, the crown jewel of the 2012 draft, Matt Smoral, continues to struggle (3 innings, 2 ER, 2 hits, 2 walks, 1 hit batter). On the bright side he actually lowered his ERA.
Magpie - Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 12:11 PM EDT (#278515) #
Magpie, any intel at all here?

Never, never ask me about the prospects. I'm not the guy. The next time I have something helpful or useful to say about one of them will be the first time that's ever happened.

I guess you don't want too many actual fistfights in your losing clubhouse. But I really don't mind a little bit - or a whole lot - of moaning and complaining. Worries me a little if it's not there. Losing teams should be miserable teams.
China fan - Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 12:20 PM EDT (#278516) #
"....On paper it's a mismatch, Hiroki Kuroda faces Todd Redmond...."

Just a reminder of how little we can predict about baseball.
China fan - Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 12:30 PM EDT (#278517) #
"....He'll do what the organization wants.... He won't fight with his GM to impose his own ideas about baseball...."

To be fair, we don't actually have any evidence on either side of this question, because we don't know what goes on in conversations between Gibbons and Anthopoulos. Neither one of those two is indiscreet enough to blab about their debates and disagreements, if there are any. For all we know, Gibbons could be more influential than we realize, or he could be attempting to push Anthopoulos in a different direction. Ultimately he is outranked, so the final decisions (and the burden of responsibility) belong to Anthopoulos, or even Beeston. But I don't think we have enough evidence to conclude that Gibbons is merely an obedient Yes-man. I'll wager that he has a shrewder eye for baseball talent than Anthopoulos, in terms of their on-field performance, and I don't think he'd remain silent in the back-rooms if he sees a personnel screw-up.
Magpie - Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 01:30 PM EDT (#278518) #
I don't think we have enough evidence to conclude that Gibbons is merely an obedient Yes-man.

Yeah, that's not what I mean. Although it's probably what I implied. True, we don't exactly how the Gibbons-Anthopoulos relationship actually works. But I would be shocked if Gibbons wasn't offering his input on what the team has and what he thinks it needs.

It's an interesting subject is because Anthopoulos is entirely typical of most modern GMs. He didn't play pro ball. Very few of today's GMs did. For a long, long time this was rather unusual - most GMs had some on field experience in pro ball. It was the ones who didn't, like Harry Dalton (who hired Weaver in Baltimore) who were more likely to be the exceptions. I think the trend went the other way in the 1980s, after Sandy Alderson and John Schuerholz were so successful. But it's not a new thing, it's just the pendulum swinging back. The man I regard as the greatest GM in history never played pro ball either.

But it's just a very different thing. It's got to be impossible for someone like Anthopoulos or Gord Ash - or Brian Cashman or John Schuerholz - to look at someone playing baseball and make an assessment with the same degree of complete confidence in his own judgement as someone like Gillick or Ricciardi, who played pro ball and have some first-hand knowledge of what that requires in their bones. (Not that this helped Gillick or Ricciardi make better decisions on Draft Day than Gord Ash. Because they didn't.) It's got to be just a little difficult for your modern GM to argue about baseball with his field manager. He knows the manager understands things that he, the GM, does not understand. It's very uncomfortable to argue with a guy like that. How are you going to place your vision of what a baseball team needs above a guy like Weaver? Or LaRussa, or Bobby Cox? Or, perhaps more to the point these days, Mike Scioscia? Kenny Williams could cope with Ozzie Guillen - they met on the same level. No one else could. No one else even wants to try.

I strongly suspect John Farrell was a guy like that - and Farrell also had experience in other areas directly related to the GMs own job, like player development. And no prior relationship with the GM, which is probably important here. (He does have a long history with Ben Cherington.)
China fan - Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 02:05 PM EDT (#278519) #
I agree with you, Magpie. It's clear that Anthopoulos wanted a manager who was more in tune with him than Farrell -- someone like Gibbons who wouldn't fundamentally challenge his authority -- but the fact remains that Gibbons must still have a lot of influence. Ultimately any manager should be able to disagree with his GM on occasion, and persuade him to change some of his decisions or tendencies, and I think Gibbons can do that.

I think AA is still so young and relatively inexperienced that he's still figuring out the best way for a GM to operate. For example: he said a year ago that he wished he was less cautious and trusted his gut instinct more often. He said this in connection with Aroldis Chapman, admitting that he didn't bid high enough for Chapman because he hadn't seen him in person sufficiently to feel confident in bidding for him. So it's quite possible that Anthopoulos went to the other extreme at the end of the 2012 season, becoming more aggressive and taking more gambles (in trades and acquisitions) than he should have taken. It's an approach that paid off at the box office (big rise in ticket sales) but didn't pay off in game performance. Anthopoulos still has a couple years (or more) to get it right -- to figure out a smarter approach to trades and acquisitions, to figure out the right balance between aggression and caution, the right balance between acquiring veterans and sticking patiently with prospects. Let's hope he figures it out.
greenfrog - Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 02:27 PM EDT (#278520) #
I disagree with the "reminder of just how little we can predict about baseball" sentiment with regard to Kuroda/Redmond.

In head-to-head matchups, the better starting pitcher will come out ahead a certain percentage of the time (higher still when he plays on the better team). Just because the inferior pitcher wins some of the time - say, two or three or four times out of ten - doesn't make baseball some kind of mystical, utterly unpredictable game. It's just probabilities, which in turn explains why the Jays are where they are in the standings.

dalimon5 - Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 02:39 PM EDT (#278521) #
Gerry you're right re: Harvey vs Sanchez.

I guess I'm guilty of being impatient. It's hard not to be when you see the success a guy like Fernandez can have. I mean, he's destroying the NL, pitching like an ace. It's so unpredictable how a pitcher like him can do that while Gausman gets lit up.
Magpie - Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 03:15 PM EDT (#278524) #
It's just probabilities

For no real good reason (maybe just because I've been catching up on his website, I'm reminded me of something Bill James once wrote. Something I've always sworn by:

Statisticians often forget that percentages represent not the complexities of a single at bat, but the probabilities in a large number of at bats, which tend to balance distortions and create a neutral mix.

In any given game - never mind any given at bat - anything can happen. It's far more true of baseball than any of the other sports.
Magpie - Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 03:19 PM EDT (#278525) #
It's so unpredictable how a pitcher like him can do that while Gausman gets lit up.

No mystery at all. Which team does Jeff Mathis work for?!
China fan - Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 04:33 PM EDT (#278526) #
"....It's just probabilities, which in turn explains why the Jays are where they are in the standings...."

How do the laws of probability explain where the Jays are in the standings today?

I'd actually argue, given the historical performance of pitchers like Romero and Dickey and Johnson from 2010 to 2012, that the most statistically probable outcome for the Jays in 2013 was a much stronger rotation and a higher place in the standings.

I'm not arguing that baseball is "mystically" unpredictable. I'm just saying that it's not as statistically predictable as some people think.

Chuck - Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 05:28 PM EDT (#278528) #
How do the laws of probability explain where the Jays are in the standings today?

The probability of an "innately" 90-win team winning 72 or fewer games is about 0.45%. The probability of an innately 86-win team winning 74 or fewer games is about 4%.

We can debate the team's innate ability and how many wins they figure to ultimately win, but there's no doubt that the probability of them performing as poorly as they have this season has been extremely low. But it hasn't been 0%. "Shit happens" is a just a way of acknowledging that low probability events sometimes happen. And probability theory accounts for that.
China fan - Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 05:40 PM EDT (#278530) #
Chuck, that's interesting, but I don't see how it answers the question. Without knowing the "innate ability" of a team, how can anyone estimate the probability of its wins? Anyone trying to analyze the "innate ability" of the Blue Jays in March 2013 would probably have been wrong.

In any event, I'm not rejecting the rules of probability, or even the insights of projection systems such as ZiPS. A crude projection could have been made for 2013 based on the performance of the current roster in 2012 (or the 2010-12 period or whatever you like). But those projections would have been wrong. So the projections might be helpful in understanding the likelihood of various scenarios, but their error rate is too high to be reliable in any way.

More to the point: I was really just querying Greenfrog's comment, which I found a little vague and unclear. He said: "It's just probabilities, which in turn explains why the Jays are where they are in the standings." He seemed to be implying (if I read it correctly) that the Jays were always likely or probable to finish at the bottom of the standings. If I've misread him, he can correct me. My question remains: how did probabilities "explain" the poor performance of the Jays this year?
greenfrog - Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 05:56 PM EDT (#278531) #
What I disagree with is the idea that Redmond's beating Kuroda yesterday is an example of baseball's "unpredictability." That's the case only if you assume that that matchup "predicted" a win for Kuroda and/or the Yankees. I would argue that it did no such thing. If the Yankees win that game, say, 55% of the time, the fact that they lost doesn't mean that "baseball is unpredictable" and hey, maybe (by extension, for an optimist) the Jays could have been in the playoff hunt, had more of these unpredictable events gone their way.

Just because anything can happen on any given night doesn't mean that outcomes are unpredictable over a larger sample. I would argue that in general (not always), the cream rises to the top over time.
China fan - Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 06:30 PM EDT (#278532) #
What about one-run ballgames, and all those Baltimore one-run wins in 2012? Was it just a case of the "cream rising to the top" or did luck play a big factor? (I'm not being argumentative, I genuinely would like to know the answer to that question....)
Chuck - Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 06:32 PM EDT (#278533) #
My question remains: how did probabilities "explain" the poor performance of the Jays this year?

The gods of baseball looked at AA's roster and then handed him two dice. They told him that the Jays would be competitive unless he rolled snakes eyes. Which he then rolled.
Chuck - Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 06:35 PM EDT (#278534) #
What about one-run ballgames, and all those Baltimore one-run wins in 2012?

Showalter bought a lottery ticket and won. The media attributed the win to strong moral fiber.
greenfrog - Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 07:04 PM EDT (#278535) #
China, as I said, in general (not always), the cream rises to the top over time. There is room for outcomes such as Baltimore's performance in 2012. Usually, that type of outcome doesn't happen, but it can.

The Jays got Baltimore'd in 2008, when they were +104 in runs (best run prevention in the league by a country mile) and finished 86-76, while Tampa was +103 in runs and finished 97-65.

This year, the AL divisional standings mesh pretty well with the RS/RA ratios in those divisions, as you would expect.
Gerry - Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 09:20 PM EDT (#278539) #

Sanchez looked good tonight. Check the minor league thread to see what Manny Acta thought about him.
smcs - Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 11:16 PM EDT (#278543) #
What about one-run ballgames, and all those Baltimore one-run wins in 2012? Was it just a case of the "cream rising to the top" or did luck play a big factor? (I'm not being argumentative, I genuinely would like to know the answer to that question....)

Magpie did a gigantic study of 1-run games awhile ago, and the basic conclusion was that success in 1-run games is due more to luck than to team skill. Basic google searches are giving me a micro version of half of the 2005 season and a look at famous managers and their success in 1-run games. For the record, Baltimore is 14-24 in 1-run games this year. They are probably going to out-perform their Pythag from last year (82-80), but their playoff hopes don't look that good.
dan gordon - Friday, August 30 2013 @ 12:02 AM EDT (#278544) #

Bonifacio, since the trade to KC, is hitting .306 with a .404 OBP and .791 OPS.  He's 8 for 8 stealing bases and hasn't made an error while starting games at 2B, 3B and OF.    Where was this guy for the first 4 months of the season?  Couldn't handle the pressure of playing for a team that was supposed to be a big winner?  In any event, his KC numbers look a lot like his 2011 season, when he was an excellent leadoff man for the Marlins.  I thought he'd be a really nice addition to the Jays and was perplexed by his terrible performance.  Looks like he just couldn't get it done here for some reason.

Yan Gomes is having quite a season for Cleveland.  I always liked him as a prospect, and it was disappointing to me when they traded him.  In 200 AB's, he's hitting .289/.339/.483/.822 and has thrown out 48% of attempted base stealers.   For comparison, JP is "hitting" .214/.248/.403/.651 and has thrown out 25%.  Also, Gomes has 2 errors and 2 passed balls vs 9 and 13 for JP.  Gomes has 37 assists in about half as many games as JP, who has 39.  How many mlb catchers this year with at least 200 AB's have put up an OPS over .820 and thrown out 45% of basestealers or better?  I bet Gomes doesn't have much company there.

China fan - Friday, August 30 2013 @ 04:23 AM EDT (#278545) #
Before we get too excited about Bonifacio's numbers in KC, remember that it's a sample of just 57 PAs. After a similar number of PAs at Pittsburgh this year, Travis Snider had an OPS of .832 and some people here were wondering why the Jays traded him. Today, after a much bigger sample size, Snider's OPS is down to .609 and it's clear why the Jays traded him. It might be worthwhile to wait for a bigger sample in KC before concluding that his poor performance in Toronto was the fault of the Jays.

Looking at players that the Jays have traded away over the years: a lot of them were complete busts with their new teams. Others have thrived and improved. Not sure if there's a pattern there.
adrianveidt - Friday, August 30 2013 @ 10:25 AM EDT (#278546) #
Chuck, isn't it far more likely, based on your own probability numbers, that rather than extremely bad luck, this team just wasn't nearly as good as people thought? That was what I argued months ago. It's also the simplest explanation. Untalented teams lose a lot of games.
Chuck - Friday, August 30 2013 @ 10:46 AM EDT (#278548) #

isn't it far more likely, based on your own probability numbers, that rather than extremely bad luck, this team just wasn't nearly as good as people thought?

Sure, that's absolutely possible. Maybe they really were "innately" an 85-win team that has underperformed. Or maybe an 81-win team. Then the odds of them underperforming as badly as they did look more like 30% rather than 3%.

Gauging a team's innate ability is no mean feat. Probably the best strategy would be to estimate reasonable performances for each player (and there are certainly many models that do this) and then add up all the player performances into a team performance. Formally or otherwise, this is what most prognosticators surely did, including Las Vegas, when branding this team a top shelf competitor.

Now, there are surely several players who underperformed even the most reasonable expectations, due to poor play or time lost to injury. Morrow and Johnson for sure. Probably Dickey. Izturis and Bonifacio likely. Lawrie (his undperformance has been mitigated by a hot streak but even he has lost more time to injury than is reasonable -- or perhaps reasonable for the seemingly injury prone Lawrie needs to redefined).

Of course, there were some performances that exceeded expectation as well: Rasmus, Lind, the bullpen. So it wasn't all bad news.

I would say that the Jays entered this season with a very real chance to compete, but that there were enough red flags for this whole thing to come crashing down. Johnson and Morrow had injury histories. Dickey was a strong candidate to regress from his Cy Young performance. Buehrle (who has proven otherwise) looked to be due for some beatings in the AL East. Lawrie was always an injury waiting to happen. Arencibia had been regressing from the start of his career. Neither Rasmus nor Lind could be counted on to turn their careers around. Bonifacio had been terrible save for one anomalous season. The organization was not deep in position players or pitchers making them vulnerable to injuries.

hypobole - Friday, August 30 2013 @ 11:34 AM EDT (#278549) #
I don't know how many prognostication models take defensive play into account, and I'm guessing Vegas wouldn't much because few betters would either. Of the position players taken north, only 2, Rasmus and Bautista, have positive UZR ratings. Even Lawrie is a minus this year.

That brings me to my other point, the coaching staff. I believe very member is an MLB rookie at the position they are in. Boston also has a rookie pitching coach, but he was Don Coopers understudy for more than a few years. Walker was Walton's understudy. Also, Hodgie has implied that the 2 coaches taken to Boston by Farrell bore a large part of the responsibility for last years disaster, but one could easily argue (and with more merit) without them results would have been even worse. Butterfield's work with the infielders and his aggressive defensive positioning in particular saved us more than a few runs. Lawrie's defensive numbers are down quite a bit this year. I'm sure part is due to SSS and coincidence, but I'm also sure part is due to the loss of Butterfield.

China fan - Friday, August 30 2013 @ 11:53 AM EDT (#278550) #
"....there were enough red flags for this whole thing to come crashing down...."

It's true that a lot of Jays had a red flag attached to them, for the reasons that you mention (injury risk etc). What was improbable, in my view, is that so many of the worst-case scenarios would happen for so many players in the same season. The Jays did a good job in building a good bullpen, and their offense was probably adequate. But the rotation was crucial to their chances in 2013, and most of their top-six starters were hit with worst-case scenarios (or just straight under-performance). Morrow, Johnson, Romero and Happ all suffered the worst-case scenario, or close to it. Buehrle performed as expected, while Dickey under-performed. So of the top 6 starters, 4 were at the absolute bottom of reasonable expectation (or worse), and another one under-performed. None of the 6 over-performed (vs expectation), and only one of 6 was even close to a normal season. (I'm assuming that Dickey's normal is the 2010-12 period.)

So, in summary, none of the top 6 starters was able to over-perform, and only one was as good as projected, and the rest were under-performers or were worst-case scenarios. That, to me, seems improbable. Not impossible, but I would have predicted that there was only a 5 or 10 per cent possibility of this worst-case scenario at the start of the season. Yes, there were "red flags" for most of them, but probability theory would surely have suggested that only 1 or 2 of those red flags would have come to pass -- not 5 out of 6.
Chuck - Friday, August 30 2013 @ 12:14 PM EDT (#278551) #

but probability theory would surely have suggested that only 1 or 2 of those red flags would have come to pass -- not 5 out of 6.

Just a minor quibble over semantics here. When you say "probability theory", I think you really mean "what a reasonable forecast could have been". If so, I agree.

My concern at the start of the year was that a team that could win 90 games with everything going right (not career year right, just reasonable expectations right) was at a decent risk of winning just 83, say, should some of the red flags come to pass. And then given all the red flags that have actually come to pass, we go from 90 wins to what looks like a 73-win season.

hypobole - Friday, August 30 2013 @ 12:14 PM EDT (#278552) #
There was discussion earlier as to what played the largest part in the Red Sox resurgence - improvement of the holdover pitching or free agents. Pitching may well be the correct answer, but the FA's have played a good part as well.

greenfrog listed their FA's WAR and the one thing that struck me was that every one was a positive number. By contrast, here are the 3 most expensive FA signings during AA's tenure:

F. Cordero 2012, 1 yr, $4.5 million, -0.4 WAR
M. Cabrera 2013, 2 yrs, $16 million, -0.9 WAR
M. Izturis 2013, 3 yrs, $10 million, -2.2 WAR
China fan - Friday, August 30 2013 @ 12:28 PM EDT (#278553) #
"...When you say 'probability theory', I think you really mean 'what a reasonable forecast could have been....'"

Yes, that's what I meant. But in layman's terms, in ordinary language, I think "probable" means the same as "reasonable forecast." (I shouldn't have added the word "theory" which made me sound pseudo-scholarly....)
Hodgie - Friday, August 30 2013 @ 12:38 PM EDT (#278554) #
"Also, Hodgie has implied that the 2 coaches taken to Boston by Farrell bore a large part of the responsibility for last years disaster, but one could easily argue (and with more merit)...."

I argued no such thing hypobole and you seem to have missed my point completely. My supposition is that the impact of coaching at the major league level is completely over-stated, both positively and negatively. I wondered how a coaching staff that couldn't produce desired results in Toronto was now being showered with accolades in Boston when there is little evidence they have done anything of impact. Boston's defensive numbers are actually a bit worse than last season and their improved offense has no doubt benefited from a return to health of Ortiz and Ellsbury. Outside of Victorino somehow having a career year at the age of 32, better health and a pitching staff returning to career norms has more to do with Boston's success this season than anything Farrell, Butterfield and Lovullo could have brought to the table.

Truly great coaches are rare and their success is repeatable. I have little doubt that Don Cooper and Dave Duncan are those rare coaches, but how many more are there? How many great coaches are simply a product of their environment? This isn't hockey or even football where coaching can actually win games. In baseball, coaches make for convenient scapegoats when things go badly and compelling narratives when the opposite holds true.

hypobole - Friday, August 30 2013 @ 01:36 PM EDT (#278556) #
Hodgie, sorry for misconstruing your earlier post, but I still have to argue that coaches can sometimes make a big impact, hitting and pitching coaches in particular. Friedman consults Hickey when acquiring pitchers, targeting those Hickey believes he can fix. Rodney went from a combined negative WAR his 3 seasons prior to a total 3.2 WAR this season and last. Aaron Hill had wOBA's of .292, .290 and .259 his last 2 1/2 yrs with the Jays. Baylor helps him with some adjustments and Hill's wOBA's are .383, .375, .392 with the DBacks.

Not all is the coaches doing of course and not all players are fixable. But when a coach has multiple successes, I would argue they do have a great impact on a teams success.
Eephus - Friday, August 30 2013 @ 02:02 PM EDT (#278557) #
How many great coaches are simply a product of their environment?

I always wondered if this was the case with Leo Mazzone. After all those seasons in Atlanta, building up a reputation as a magician for starting pitchers (the dude got a 15-8, 3.28 season out of Jaret Wright, fer cryin' out loud.) Mazzone is finally lured over to another city, Baltimore, and doesn't enjoy anywhere near the same level of success. I don't believe whatever ability he possessed just simply regressed like the range of an aging shortstop.
greenfrog - Friday, August 30 2013 @ 03:00 PM EDT (#278559) #
During his tenure, one of the best things AA did was to beg, borrow and steal prospects through trades, extra draft picks, and relatively low-end IFA signings (netting Lawrie, d'Arnaud, Syndergaard, Sanchez, Osuna, Barreto and others). He did a nice job of dumping salary and rebuilding the farm system by exploiting inefficiencies in the system, some of which were eventually eliminated under the new CBA.

Things haven't been so rosy over the last couple of years, though, what with:

- the Hill trade
- missing out on the pricier-but-highly-talented IFAs (Darvish, Cespedes, Soler, Puig, Iwakuma et al.)
- the FA "misses" (as hypobole notes)
- trading a lot of prospects (the farm is probably now bottom-third) for an uneven return
- the amassing of significant future payroll obligations without a lot of corresponding performance, at least to date
- Losing Butter

How will AA do during Act III? Stay tuned...

Hodgie - Friday, August 30 2013 @ 03:40 PM EDT (#278562) #
Those are good examples that kind of illustrate my point hypobole. Is Tampa pitching good because of Hickey, or is Hickey good because Friedman has ensured his pitching staffs have had an incredible amount of talent and depth? Does he get extra credit for bullpen performance when (no-one's golden child) Pete Walker has a non-descript bullpen that has been better? Baylor may seemingly have helped Aaron Hill, but why are the Diamondbacks a bottom third offense and two former cornerstones of their franchise (Young and Upton) now ply their trade with other teams after not developing as people has hoped?

Closer to home, Cito Gaston has always been regarded as a good hitting coach, and he does have many individual successes. Are the many failures under his watch his responsibility as well? By all accounts, Bautista and Encarnacion have become elite hitters not because of advise from Cito and company but rather advise imparted by Vernon Wells and Luis Mercedes.

More than any other team sport I can think of, baseball is reliant on the culmination of hundreds of isolated, individual skill executions each game. I know this is blasphemy, but in that way it is similar to golf. Coaches have their place and certainly can impact individual performance, but rare is the coach that can impact the performance of a significant number of individuals with divergent skill sets and aptitudes at the highest levels of their profession and do so consistently enough that it is not simply a confluence of favorable circumstances.

Mike Green - Friday, August 30 2013 @ 04:11 PM EDT (#278563) #
I am just back from San Francisco where I saw a last place team that looked serious about winning.  This team does not, and it reflects badly on everyone. In Toronto, we have had two years of this mush, following 18 playoff years. 

I have no desire for a new Walter Alston, as we have not had Branch Rickey at the helm for many years building up a healthy organization at all levels.  Anthopoulos is definitely not Branch Rickey...

Mike Green - Friday, August 30 2013 @ 04:14 PM EDT (#278564) #
Correction. 2 mush years, following 18 non-playoff years.
Magpie - Friday, August 30 2013 @ 04:43 PM EDT (#278566) #
Bautista and Encarnacion have become elite hitters not because of advise from Cito and company but rather advise imparted by Vernon Wells...

The case of Bautista probably illustrates how complicated that is. It wasn't that Vernon Wells said something one day and a miracle happened. Three past and present hitting coaches told Bautista the same thing about his swing for a year. Bautista accepted that - he'd been told the same thing for most of his professional life. One of them (Murphy) worked specifically on his hitting mechanics, and finally Wells offered Bautista an idea about the best way to put it all into practise. A way to think about it.

Bautista's an extremely unlikely story. You don't expect that kind of impact from coaching, that degree of improvement. You'll be happy enough with much smaller gains.

On the one hand, the margins between success and failure are microscopically small. The differences between the best player and the worst ones are negligible, in broad human terms. In these circumstances, the question isn't "how does coaching make a difference?" The question is "how could it not?" But teaching is the same everywhere. No matter how talented and well intentioned the teacher, no matter how small the classroom - and 13 guys is a small enough classroom - no single teacher can reach every pupil. Even with the best will in the world on both sides.
Richard S.S. - Friday, August 30 2013 @ 05:07 PM EDT (#278567) #
The Miami deal got us Jose Reyes, which is a great acquisition. He got hurt and wasn't totally healthy upon his return, so we never experienced how good he can be. I'm not worried about him. We also acquired Mark Buehrle, who is as good as advertised, and won't change much. Reports on this site of his pitching demise are hugely premature. We also acquired a very valuable asset which was used in a subsequent trade.

On the other hand, we got a big bodied dominant Pitcher who forgot how to pitch, got hurt and still can't figure out what happened (he got "Romero'd"). Anibal Sanchez recommended Emilio Bonifacio to A.A. as did others. Some people can't play on turf.

So I consider the Miami trade a big win for us.

The N.Y. trade got us a Knuckleballer the Team doesn't have to hit against, which is a big win for us. R.A. Dickey said he's no longer using his "rising pitch" at Rogers Center/Skydome. It was a very good pitch for him last year. It looks like he's figured things out, my only question is why it took him so long. We also got a Catcher for the Knuckleballer. Josh Thole does well, but then he doesn't hit well. Full time Catchers seldom adjust well to part-time work. And we got someone named "who" who can also catch the K-ball but really doesn't hit well. This Deal was a win for Toronto. We won't know by how much until next season

The Hill trade was always going to happen. He's happier in Arizona. He also plays better for that Team - as a result?

greenfrog - Friday, August 30 2013 @ 05:55 PM EDT (#278570) #
Richard, you seem very confident in your predictions about the players you mentioned. But if I recall correctly, you were similarly confident before the season that the Jays should preemptively lock up Josh Johnson to a big multiyear deal. So how does your confidence level compare to your preseason confidence about JJ?

I like Reyes, but am somewhat concerned about his health, the extent to which his defence offsets his offensive contributions, and his healthy-sized contract.
Hodgie - Friday, August 30 2013 @ 06:25 PM EDT (#278571) #
Have I ever mentioned my man-crush on Joey Votto? Read this piece and tell me who really needs a coach, hitting is so simple! My favorite quote might be:

“I’d like to continue to reduce the amount of balls I swing at outside the strike zone,” Votto said. “I’ve been told I have a really low number, one of the lowest percentages in the game, but there’s no reason it shouldn’t be the lowest. Beyond that, being even more particular in the strike zone, taking it from not just the strike zone to within the strike zone, being more particular. There’s only a certain percentage of the strike zone that you can do extra-base hit, barrel damage with the ball. Just because it’s in the strike zone doesn’t mean you have to take a cut at it.”

Sigh, I can't believe this man is being wasted on Dusty Baker.
Richard S.S. - Friday, August 30 2013 @ 06:41 PM EDT (#278572) #
I was wrong about the Josh Johnson we got in the Trade, but was the one that came over the real Josh Johnson or someone else. No one falls off the table as much as JJ, he fell off a cliff. I doubt he ever gets back to what he was.

I assume I see, read and hear everything that everyone else does - and that's patently nonsense. I'm naturally optimistic but easily to piss off.

A lot of really good players learned how to play, and play well on turf. As long as Lawrie plays 3rd Base and assuming A.A. acquires the 2nd Baseman he wants, Reyes' defense won't be an issue. He's better to his right with Lawrie vacuuming up anything he can reach. That cuts down the range Reyes has to cover by at least 20%. As for his health, it comes and it goes.
Magpie - Friday, August 30 2013 @ 08:46 PM EDT (#278576) #
No one falls off the table as much as JJ, he fell off a cliff.

It happens all the time. I think of it as the Change of Life; it happens to RHP in their late 20s. Their stuff isn't exactly what it was before, and it regularly takes them a year or so to figure out what they have now and how to make it work for them. And there are usually injury issues, just because there are usually injury issues with pitchers.

What happened to Johnson wasn't quite as dramatic as what happened to Dave Stieb at the same age, when he went from the best starting pitcher in the majors to one of the worst. Johnson's ERA+ dropped by 41 (108-67); Stieb's dropped by 82 (171 to 89). Tom Seaver had a similar crash at same age (175 to 112). Jim Palmer went through the same thing a year earlier, dropping by 50 (155 to 105) when he was 28. Freddy Garcia. Even Roy Oswalt and Tim Hudson went through something similar.
uglyone - Friday, August 30 2013 @ 09:31 PM EDT (#278578) #

2013: 28gs, 6.4ip/gs, 3.92era
2012: 31gs, 6.5ip/gs, 3.74era
2011: 31gs, 6.6ip/gs, 3.58era

how much does that guy get if he's an FA this year?
Richard S.S. - Friday, August 30 2013 @ 11:48 PM EDT (#278579) #
As Owner's go, the Owner of the Miami Marlins, despite only 30 MLB teams, would be ranked in the 48-50th range. That Idiot always backloads his Contracts so he can look good with all the money he gives Free Agents and then dump them before the get expensive. Even if the Marlins won the World Series, he'd still trade them.

Mark Buehrle signed a 4 year - $58.0 MM contract prior to last year for an average of $14.5 MM per year. So what's he worth this Offseason after proving he CAN pitch in the A. L. East? Two to three years at $14.0 - $15.0 MM per year is about market value. So about $7.0 MM less than he actually earn. He has a deferred signing bonus of $4.0 MM. (Cheap Miami Idiot). A.A. did receive $8.5 MM to cover the bonus and John Buck Salary, which is now unneeded. $7.0 MM - $4.5 MM leaves Buehrle an overpay of just $2.5 MM over the next two years. That's not that significant.
Eephus - Saturday, August 31 2013 @ 01:45 AM EDT (#278581) #

2013: 28gs, 6.4ip/gs, 3.92era

2012: 31gs, 6.5ip/gs, 3.74era
2011: 31gs, 6.6ip/gs, 3.58era

To quote a dictionary that does not exist:

Mark Buehrle: see Consistency.
Consistency: see Mark Buehrle.
Intricated - Saturday, August 31 2013 @ 01:54 AM EDT (#278582) #
Buehrle may have done much better pitching for an AL East team, but his 2013 performance against the AL East got me to splice some numbers.  Coming into his recent KC win:

Versus AL East: 13 GS, 1-6 W-L, 5.33 ERA, 13 HR, 1.43 WHIP, 6.1 SO/9, 2.3 SO/BB, 6.4 IP/GS
Versus Rest: 14 GS, 9-1 W-L, 2.92 ERA, 7 HR, 1.21 WHIP, 7.0 SO/9, 3.2 SO/BB, 6.4 IP/GS

A lot of the AL East bullying of Buehrle came earlier in the campaign: 4 starts in a row vs. NY/BOS/TB with 1 good, 2 bad, and 1 terrible through to the May 6 game in which he gave up 7 runs in the third inning and zeroes through the sixth and generally considered his turning point.

Since then, he's had 9 more starts against the East, pitching better. Averaging per start: 6+ innings, 3.3 runs, 7.2 hits, 2 BB, 4 SO, 106 pitches, but almost zero average WPA (-0.164 cumulative) and ended up with a 1-4 record (team went 3-6 in his games).  As 5 of the starts were of the quality nature (6+ IP, <=3 ER), including the last 3, and the team didn't win the other 4, with a little luck, maybe he and the team should have been 5-4 or 6-3 in those games.

Didn't check pre-2013, but I recall discussions on how Buehrle had struggles against the AL East throughout his career.  Maybe if he can "shake off" the early season rust (he's "old" after all) and keep his recent AL East success going, we got ourselves a pretty good #3. 
I'd translate that into roughly 3 WAR (which Buehrle has NOT done only twice since 2001, and on track to get there this season); that's *almost* worth his 18M price tag IMO.
eudaimon - Saturday, August 31 2013 @ 09:55 AM EDT (#278583) #
For the record I don't have too much faith in pitcher WAR scores. Fangraphs, for example, bases their calculations on FIP, which while having value is not without it's flaws. Buehrle, for example, is like Matt Cain in the sense that he consistently pitches better than FIP or xFIP predicts. This is probably because his pitching style is based on inducing poor contact and not striking people out (which FIP loves, by the way, and is why Javier Vazquez has around 5 more WAR for his career than Buehrle despite having a career ERA of 4.2 vs Buehrle's 3.8 while pitching roughly the same amount of innings).

Buehrle's ERA is .3 below his FIP projections over his career. I figured his "real WAR" is under-rated as a result.

Magpie - Saturday, August 31 2013 @ 12:33 PM EDT (#278586) #
bases their calculations on FIP

The idea that a strikeout is better than a popup to second base in the game you just watched is... what's the word... insane. Unless the more accurate word is stupid. In some rather important ways, a strikeout is worse than a popup to second. Unless somebody figures out how to strike out a guy on one pitch.

The notion confuses indicators of possible future goodness with here-and-now actual goodness.
Chuck - Saturday, August 31 2013 @ 01:45 PM EDT (#278590) #
I believe BBRef's pitcher WAR is based on here-and-now actual goodness. FG's pitcher WAR is seemingly designed to measure possible future goodness.
uglyone - Saturday, August 31 2013 @ 03:33 PM EDT (#278598) #
The thing I try to remember about stats like FIP xFIP SIERA, etc. are that they are most useful in trying to give you more information as to whether a short-term ERA is fluky or not, and allow you to make better predictions of future ERA than small-sample ERA will give you.

But even the creators and adherents of these stats will admit that once the sample size is large enough, then ERA itself becomes a better predictor of future ERA than any of the FIPpy stats.

And with Buehrle, we have an absolutely massive sample size which tells us that his ERA has always been notably lower than his FIP, so at this point we can take his ERA at face value and safely conclude that FIP underrates Buehrle. Though it's not a massive underrating, because his FIP ain't all that bad either.

And as the creator of fangraphs went on about at length this past offseason, FIP will almost always significantly underrate a knuckelballer as well, because a knuckleballer will consistently give up more but weaker batted ball contact, which FIP cannot ever see.

Before today's game, Dickey's FIP was at 4.71, which is what his fWAR was based on, but the other three major stats all indicates somethig else: 4.39era, 4.35xfip, 4.27siera. I think it's safe to ignore the raw FIP number (and so does fangraph's creator), and also conclude that fWAR underrates Dickey as well.
uglyone - Saturday, August 31 2013 @ 03:35 PM EDT (#278599) #
p.s. the FIP users would cringe at the notion that it's just a "future goodness" indicator - in their eyes, it is a better measure of how well a pitcher has actually pitched in the here and now.
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