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TSN reports that the deal is official - 1 year, $4.5 million, with a mutual $7.5 million option or a team $500,000 buyout. The AP reported that the $4.5 million Molina is getting this year is broken out into a $1.5 million bonus and a $3 million salary.

Here are Molina's career rate stats.

Year	AB	  BA	 OBP	 SLG
1999	101	0.257	0.312	0.337
2000	473	0.281	0.318	0.421
2001	325	0.262	0.309	0.351
2002	428	0.245	0.274	0.322
2003	409	0.281	0.304	0.443
2004	337	0.276	0.313	0.404
2005	410	0.295	0.336	0.446

Note that the Angels park factor for runs and home runs is 94 in recent years which deflated his numbers a bit. Molina ranked 5th among all catchers last year in Baseball Prospectus' EqA (Zaun was 11th).

Molina's signing and contract seem to indicate that he'll get the majority of the starts for the Jays which will push Gregg Zaun into a backup role. If I were to guess, barring injuries, I'd expect Molina to start about 100-110 games with Zaun getting the remaining starts, especially against the tougher right handed pitchers.

The other ramification of the signing is on Guillermo Quiroz. He's out of options and will have to clear waivers to be sent to the minors. Given his history the last two years, and his winter ball performance this offseason, the chance of Quiroz clearing waivers is better now than before, but probably no better than 50/50. I could see a team like the Marlins, who can afford to carry a prospect on the major league roster, picking him up.

I'm mixed about the signing. The upside to the deal is that Molina improves the team, is on a one year contract, and didn't cost anything in terms of draft picks or players (although Quiroz may be lost as a result). And of course, there likely will be more 'Too Many Molina' episodes.

The Jays payroll right now, assuming that they lose both the Walker and Hillenbrand arbitration cases, is approximately $74.5 million which is close to the $75 million the team has publically stated was their payroll for this year. (Note - assuming the Jays lose in arbitration is not my opinion, just a 'worst case' scenario. The payroll if the Jays win both cases would be a shade over $72.5 million.)

The cost of a win I believe has been estimated at $2 million and it's very possible that Molina is worth 2.5 wins to the Jays. Also, given the Hernandez signing (4 years, $27 million) and the LoDuca trade where the Mets are paying the entire salary, Molina appears to be a relative bargain.

However, I'm not certain that this was the best use of $5 million. Said another way, I don't think the difference between Zaun/Quiroz/Phillips and Molina/Zaun is that great and the money could have been better used in a different spot during the season. This of course assumes that the Jays are unwilling to add payroll if they're in a pennant race. They haven't said anything publically but I don't think it's unreasonable to expect the team to loosen the purse strings if they were in contention. If that's the case I don't see much downside, if any, in the move.

Jays Sign Bengie Molina | 189 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Mike Green - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 02:29 PM EST (#140606) #
Molina is 30 years old, but has caught only 685 games in his career. For catchers, games caught is probably a more important number than age.

His improvement last year was not a fluke, in my opinion. He improved his W/K without losing power.
kpataky - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 02:37 PM EST (#140607) #
So if Quiroz is picked up on waivers by another ML team, he would have to be carried on their Major League (25 man) roster. That team would then have to put him through waivers to get him to their AAA team? Is that correct?
Brent S - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 02:42 PM EST (#140608) #
I'd like to see what type of option the contract stipulates. If it is a mutual or team option, I like this deal. If it's a player option, JP has added another dose of future risk to this off-season. It seems to be the trend recently around these parts, so I'm not really surprised.

As Pistol mentioned earlier, this move costs nothing in the realm of compensation. Plus, it's not a completely unreasonable sum for a catcher in this marketplace. So, if Zaun is performing well and Quiroz is kept aboard, Molina might be flipped for something nice. Consider it the Terry Adams Effect.

rtcaino - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 02:43 PM EST (#140609) #
He may help, but I wouldn't have signed him.
melondough - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 02:46 PM EST (#140610) #
I know that some people will not like this signing but I love it. My biggest concern going into the season was having to watch Phillips and/or Quiroz replace Zaun as a regular if he got injured. If this signing actually happens then it will allow the Jays much more of a chance to win the games against speedy teams like CWS and ANA.

I am thrilled...BUT I will want to first wait and see if this actually gets done.
Gerry - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 02:52 PM EST (#140611) #
I think the Jays valuation of Quiroz was key to this deal. Quiroz has not looked like a strong major league performer over the last two seasons. Much of this is due to injury but the down-time hurt Q's defense as much as his offense. I think that Q would have been a .220 hitter with below average defense in 2006, unless he lost 25 pounds in the off-season.

For those reasons I think this is a significant pick-up both for performance and predictability.
DeMarco - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 02:59 PM EST (#140612) #
This deal makes the Jays immediately better, by how much we will have to wait and see? Molina's offensive numbers are not overwhelming, however they are much better than the Ken Huckaby/Jason Phillips/Qurioz's of the world. Zuan will be better without the big workload and it's hard to hazard a guess how much this will help the Jays pitching staff.

Since this deal doesn't cost anything other than money, it's a good deal. However I'm just not that overly excited about it.
Jim - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 03:05 PM EST (#140613) #
The Jays have put themselves in a place where 2-3 wins might be the difference between going home and going to the playoffs. I like this move for a few reasons.

A. Molina/Zaun is more then 2 wins better then Zaun/Quiroz
B. Molina/Philips or Zaun/Philips is better then Quiroz/Philips if there is an injury

This of course assumes that Philips will go to the minors when he doesn't make the team now out of ST.

Exit - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 03:07 PM EST (#140614) #
Finally. I think this may be the best move the Jays have made this offseason. Call me crazy, but having only Zaun was not something I was looking forward too, any lengthy injury would have left a serious hole in the lineup.

A good catcher is rare; Molina is one of the premiere catchers in the league.
CaramonLS - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 03:24 PM EST (#140615) #
He might help a touch, but that 5 million is better saved for something of Value next season.

Molina is worse than Zaun is at hitting RHP. The only good thing Molina can do is crush LHP. We just signed a guy (Jason Phillips) who can hit LHP very well (although not to the degree Molina can), but the difference isn't significant.

Also, Phillips can provide superior defense to Molina, which at best makes it a wash in talent.

A 5 million dollar wash.

What a complete waste of resources. Not to mention, I'm not convinced that Molina's year, which was well above his career averages was not just an aboration.
Jonny German - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 03:30 PM EST (#140616) #
I've said it before, I say it again: Molina's line against righties in 2005 was ridiculously good, and to me screams "fluke".

Bengie Molina vs. Lefties:

Year	Age	AB	AVG	OBP	SLG
2001	26	101	.218	.298	.347
2002	27	125	.248	.278	.328
2003	28	114	.289	.322	.544
2004	29	103	.252	.291	.398
2005	30	122	.393	.430	.648
His 2003 was also very good. Is his 2006 OBP versus lefties more likely to be over .400 or under .300? His SLG over .500 or under .400? I'll take the under on both, and even if we split the difference at a tidy .350 / .450... it's 120 at-bats! And don't kid yourselves, he ain't giving you anything in his at-bats versus righties. To wit:

Bengie Molina vs. Righties:

Year	Age	AB	AVG	OBP	SLG
2001	26	224	.281	.314	.353
2002	27	303	.244	.272	.320
2003	28	295	.278	.296	.403
2004	29	234	.286	.323	.406
2005	30	288	.253	.295	.361
Blah. I'll be very surprised if he out-hits Zaun in 2006, and though we probably won't get to find out I doubt he'll outhit what Jason Phillips would have done in the majors. Maybe there's not a better way to spend $5M right now, but that doesn't mean spending it is better than saving it for later.
J Mc - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 03:34 PM EST (#140617) #
It's odd. It seems like only a month ago a buddy and fellow Jays fan felt the asking price of Molina was too much and assumed that Jason Philips was the back-up catcher. Quiroz hasn't perfomed well enough to warrant the duties as back-up catcher. I'm pretty sure that's why the JP got Philips. To challenge Quiroz or provide stability at catcher position in the system. I've said all along that I would be happy if the Jays got 20+ HRs and 80+ RBIs from the catcher's spot. With Molina in mix (110 starts ?) the likelihood of this happening has definitely increased. Of tantamount importance is how Molina handles the Jays staff. Hopefully, Molina shows up to camp and develops a rapport with the Jays staff very early. Listen to me, I'm talking like this is a done deal...Rosenthal is usually reliable. For the record, I obviously like Shea and Pete on the team, however, I don't no exactly what the payroll will look like based on the arbitration outcome. Exit is right, an injury to Zaun would have left a hole in the line-up and I don't like Philips or Quiroz (yet ?) taking up the slack.

Mike
Brent S - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 03:35 PM EST (#140618) #
I have a question for Mike or Craig (or even Coach if you're out there):

What did you think of Molina's defence last year? How much of a decline did he experience with regards to years past?

AWeb - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 03:37 PM EST (#140619) #
I love what the Jays have done with the catcher position this offseason. Going in, they had a 35 year old catcher who, while above average overall, has shown signs of being unable to last a whole year as the primary guy. The backup was an injury prone 24 year old with potential, or a 35 year old with, well, a pulse and a nice smile. Now they have Molina, a top-ten catcher in the majors (10th according to Win shares last year), and Zaun (14th in win shares) as the backup. Jason Phillips in reserve in case, who at worst is still better than Huckaby and Quiroz have been in the majors.

My expectation for this position goes way up if they do sign Molina, Bengie.
kpataky - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 03:42 PM EST (#140620) #
Just wondering if anyone has an answer for this question I posed earlier in the day?
Alexander - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 03:43 PM EST (#140621) #
I dont understand why so many folks are anti-Molina. Hes not a hall of famer - but if he does become a Jay hes arguably the best all around catcher the Jays have ever had. And even if he has experienced a decline defensively, hes won 2 more gold gloves than Zaun ever will.
VGeras - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 04:09 PM EST (#140624) #
So if Quiroz is picked up on waivers by another ML team, he would have to be carried on their Major League (25 man) roster. That team would then have to put him through waivers to get him to their AAA team? Is that correct? Yes, the team would have to put him on the 40 first, and then if they want to send him to the minors must put him once again through waivers since he is out options....Bottom line he must clear waivers before he can play on ANY Triple-A team
Ducey - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 04:10 PM EST (#140625) #
I don't get why people are against signing him either.

Has 2004 and all the injuries suffered faded so completely from everyone's memory? Something wrong with depth? The Jays will have three cathers at or near the major leagues. At least one should have a good year and stay healthy. If all three play well JP can trade one. I am sad GQ will be moving on but he may never make it.

Molina is sure to add some value. It may not be $5 million worth of value but who cares?

I am leary of the option - if it is a player option (I can't believe it would be given Molina's lack of bargaining power) then I would not be for the signing.
Geoff - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 04:11 PM EST (#140626) #
This only makes sense if Molina provides top-notch defense and handling of the pitching staff. Unless they have some fabulous advice for his hitting approach, his offense is not a great asset to the team.

I'd be more concerned with a catcher getting the most out of a pitching staff anyway than him doing a lot of damage with the bat. I'd only worry that jays' pitchers would choose preferences and create any controversy over which catcher deserved preference.

If harmony and decent hitting can be achieved, good for J.P. and his staff. If no pitcher is comfortable with Molina, let's hope the Dodgers would trade for him.
Pistol - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 04:14 PM EST (#140627) #
"So if Quiroz is picked up on waivers by another ML team, he would have to be carried on their Major League (25 man) roster. That team would then have to put him through waivers to get him to their AAA team? Is that correct?"

That's my understanding.
Mike D - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 04:23 PM EST (#140628) #
What did you think of Molina's defence last year? How much of a decline did he experience with regards to years past?

Published scouting reports and my Advance Scout notes generally agree on the state of Bengie's glove. He is a superb receiver and shows good hands despite a tricky staff to handle (plenty of split-finger types). His arm has declined from great to merely average, but it was average in '04 and didn't really deteriorate in '05.

He calls a very intelligent game and was trusted to do so by Scioscia. The one defensive skill in significant, ongoing decline relates to fielding short grounders; unlike, say, Zaun, Bengie's put on some pounds and is not nearly as athletic in the field as he once was.
Ryan B. - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 04:33 PM EST (#140629) #
I'm on the fence with this one. On one hand Molina provides quality defence and a slight improvment to the batting order. On the other hand he is very, very slow and has taken $5M from the Jays which could have been used at the deadline to rent a player like Barry Zito for the stretch run. I'm also worried that the option year may be a player option in which case the Jays are going to be in a tought position to retain both Halladay and Wells.

It's not crazy to suggest Vernon could be moved at the trade deadline.
Newton - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 04:36 PM EST (#140630) #
If we're shoring up positional depth how about a veteran middle infielder in the Mike Bordick mould to protect against twin sophmore jinxes in the middle infield.

A - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 04:39 PM EST (#140631) #
Molina running to first might be the best 60 seconds in sport.

Regardless, the money seems a little high but one aspect to this deal I like is that we'll have a very capable switch-hitting catcher on the bench. That alone presents us with many more options than last season.

For now I'll just take an uncomfortable seat on the fence and make a judgement based on which way the wind is blowing some time around May.
Mike Green - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 04:43 PM EST (#140632) #
Here is Molina's DT card from Baseball Prospectus. Translated to a neutral park, he's hitting approximately .290/.330/.450 over the last 3 years. Phillips is all right, but nothing like that.

As for defence (I don't know if I am the right Mike), he's throwing out fewer runners on a percentage basis than he did 3 years ago, but fewer runners are attempting to steal than before. He is much better in this respect than Phillips or Zaun. Zaun is, of course, a fine handler of pitchers. So, reputedly, is Phillips.

The interesting thing is the increase in Molina's passed balls. Both Lackey and Shields had large increases in the number of wild pitches they threw last year. Whether this was due to a change in repertoire or usage, pure bad luck or a decline in Molina's ability to block pitches I do not know. What is clear is that the Angels have had an effective pitching staff for several years; it's usually fair to give some of the credit for this to the catcher.
Mike Green - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 04:49 PM EST (#140633) #
Mike D gave the better defence answer, but the statistical markers and Mike's observations are in concert. Presumably Molina's loss of mobility contributes to the passed balls and wild pitches. This might be a particular problem with Burnett on the mound.
Mike D - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 04:51 PM EST (#140634) #
If Bengie consistently struggles to handle A.J.'s stuff, there's no harm in making Zaun a "personal catcher" for Burnett.
Jordan - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 05:01 PM EST (#140635) #
If the Jays sign Molina, you think anyone in the mainstream press will note that they added a Latino player? That's not entirely a jab ... with Batista dealt, Chacin and Rios are the lone Latinos and they're both young. Another veteran Hispanic player in the clubhouse sure can't hurt, especially since the organization is counting on these two youngsters' continued development.

Molina's not all that great, but then again, neither is Zaun. Zaun's .251/.355/.373 line last year is close to his career average. So the Jays would have two average-to-decent catchers rather than just one; nothing wrong with that. Interestingly, for all the sense that Zaun is the grizzled vet, he's caught only 103 more games in the big leagues than Molina has. I'd be happy to see Molina come on board.
R Romero Vaughan - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 05:05 PM EST (#140636) #
While clearly not the rationale behind this move, assuming good seasons form the likes of SS LOOGY, Lilly, Cat, Molina, Hillenbrand, Speier: we may be in a position to win a record number of supplementaries/picks in 2007

On another note, I hope that based on net present value the $210 payroll may now be $215 (given $50m was spent in year 1)
Andrew K - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 05:06 PM EST (#140638) #
JP was clearly listening to what I said yesterday http://www.battersbox.ca/comment.php?mode=view&cid=140576
and has acted upon it.

It's probably not a bad move, but whether it is good or neutral remains to be seen. In terms of insurance/risk-avoidance it really does make sense. The risk in having only Philipps or Q as backup was too great. It does seem to that Rios is likely to get another chunk of time to prove that he is a major league hitter, since there's no remaining money to upgrade in RF.

I do hope, with Zaunie relegated to backup catcher and Hudson gone, that the team's hard playing ethos doesn't change.
Mike Green - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 05:12 PM EST (#140639) #
If Bengie consistently struggles to handle A.J.'s stuff, there's no harm in making Zaun a "personal catcher" for Burnett.

Agreed.
MattAtBat - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 05:23 PM EST (#140640) #
If we're shoring up positional depth how about a veteran middle infielder in the Mike Bordick mould to protect against twin sophmore jinxes in the middle infield.

John McDonald was re-acquired with that exact purpose in mind. He will do the "protecting" this season.

binnister - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 05:25 PM EST (#140641) #
www.tsn.ca

A report on the Fox Sports website said the sides were near a $5-million US, one-year deal with a $7.5-million option for 2007, but Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said that was premature.

''We're still talking to him,'' Ricciardi said Monday. ''At this point we don't have anything yay or nay from him. If we get something done we'll let you know.''

Mike D - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 05:34 PM EST (#140642) #
Another veteran Hispanic player in the clubhouse sure can't hurt

And if he makes his old friend Troy Glaus feel more welcome, so much the better. He should also be able to knowledgeably tell management during spring training whether Ben Weber has anything left in the tank.
Ron - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 05:35 PM EST (#140643) #
The big question is do you feel better having Molina in the Jays lineup than GQ or Phillips. The answer is a big yes.

I'm not worried about the payroll if the Jays are still in contention near the trade deadline. Considering Rogers has opened up his wallet, I have a hard time picturing him saying no to a deal that would improve the clubs chances of reaching the post-season. Especially if it involved a soon to be FA, since most of his salary would have already been paid for by his previous club.

Now only if the Jays could do something about RF..........
Keith Talent - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 05:36 PM EST (#140644) #
Ken "Astros in 7" Rosenthal

But would be sweet if it turns out to be true.
VBF - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 05:43 PM EST (#140645) #
We're still talking to him,'' Ricciardi said Monday. ''At this point we don't have anything yay or nay from him. If we get something done we'll let you know.

Where have we heard that before?

Glevin - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 05:47 PM EST (#140646) #
I am unsure about this move. It probably helps the Jays marginally, but I am not sure this is the best use of resources. 5 million is a lot of money for a mediocre platoon player. Molina is definitely better than Phillips or Quirez but last year just screams career year. If the option is team or mutual, it may be OK. If it's a player option, the move is abysmal. Also, this move, if it indeed happens, would take away any payroll flexability the Jays have and need.
greenfrog - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 05:55 PM EST (#140647) #
If it's a one-year deal, I like it. It's low-risk, provides needed depth at catcher, would reduce Zaun's workload to an optimum level for the team, and gives us some more playoff experience. I like Jordan's point about adding latino presence to the roster.

There is some downside. Molina is slow, doesn't walk, and may have had a career year in 2005. His defense (his throwing, anyway) may be declining to league average. By most accounts, though, he's a very solid receiver.

On a side note--who is going to start at catcher for the Jays in 2007? Thigpen?
HollywoodHartman - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 05:55 PM EST (#140648) #
Thats ridiculous that you're basing his credibility as a reporter on his WS prediction. Not many people predicted a ChiSox sweep. If you've been paying attention Rosenthal has been amazing this offseason. He's broken many stories such as the Glaus trade, and I can't remember any story where he's been flat out wrong (except his WS pick obviously).
Mick Doherty - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 06:07 PM EST (#140649) #
That's Benjamin Jose Molina, kids, and in keeping with the Burnett and Ryan acquisitions, let's go with "B.J. Molina." (Although "T.E. Glaus" doesn't really work as well.)
actionjackson - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 06:09 PM EST (#140650) #
According to The Associated Press via Rotoworld, the salary breakdown is: a $1.5 million signing bonus; a $3 million 2006 salary and a $7.5 million MUTUAL option for 2007 with a $500,000 buyout. That means only $5 million is guaranteed, and only $3 million counts against the payroll (if you subscribe to the new Blue Jay math). Now I don't feel so bad about this deal, should it go through. We'll still have a little wiggle room for a deadline deal. Any Bauxites got the exact payroll figure (should this go through) including Hillenbrand (he's goin' down) and Walker?
Glevin - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 06:10 PM EST (#140651) #
"John McDonald was re-acquired with that exact purpose in mind. He will do the "protecting" this season."

Which is a huge problem. The Jays offense (like virtually every other in baseball) is not good enough to cover for a guy with a career .593 OPS and a 58 OPS+. He is almost exactly equally inefficiant against lefties and righties so there is no real split there. If he serves as a defensive replacement and gets at most 100-150 ABs, the Jays can live with that. If he ends up getting a lot of ABs, the Jays are going to be in big trouble.
TamRa - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 06:11 PM EST (#140652) #
Question: Is putting Quiroz through waivers in the spring like doing so in August - that is, can you put him on revocable waivers to see who has interest and then try to work out a deal for him beofre just losing him for nothing?
joemayo - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 06:16 PM EST (#140653) #
Ken "Astros in 7" Rosenthal

can we give this a rest already?? if so-called baseball experts were fired for every wrong prediction they made, there'd be no experts.

it's not like he went way out on a limb with that prediction anyways. the only more "on the fence" prediction than "astros in 7" would have been "sox in 7". enough.

as for the possible signing, i like it. $5 million is not an outrageous amount to spend on a legitimate starting catcher. and like others have already stated, when the inevitable injury to Zaun occurs, i'd much rather have Molina behind the plate than Philips or Q.

Andrew K - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 06:23 PM EST (#140654) #
Remind me of the terminology here. A mutual option is one where both team AND player would need to agree that they wanted it to take effect? In other words, either side can back out?
Mike D - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 06:24 PM EST (#140655) #
Exactly right, Andrew K. Either side has the right to decline the option after the season.
Andrew K - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 06:27 PM EST (#140656) #
Thanks. It's a rather weak sort of thing, then -- the only time a mutual option would come into effect is when the player and team would have agreed on that price anyway, so it might as well not exist...
melondough - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 06:29 PM EST (#140657) #
The associated press reports it will be a $1.5 million signing bonus and $3.5 million salary. The Jays also have an option to buy out yr #2 for $500K. Maybe this will appease some of you nay sayers.

Does this mean team payroll would stand at $73.5 million assuming Hillenbrand and Walker win their cases?
http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/5311794
melondough - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 06:30 PM EST (#140658) #
Sorry...just saw actionjackson's posting.
Geoff - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 06:36 PM EST (#140659) #
It has more meaning than that for Molina: if the Jays decline to pick it up, the buyout price is reported to be $500,000.

Anytime the team has an option, there is usually a buyout price. If the player declines the option, there is no buyout (as you may expect).
TA - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 06:37 PM EST (#140660) #
Situated in the "signing is good" camp, I think the question that should be asked is how many catchers out there would you rather have than Molina?

Off the top of my head I would say that Posada, Varitek, and Rodriguez, are all superior (albeit aging) players who consist of the top tier...

Victor Martinez and Joe Mauer would be more attractive because of their youth...

And then I think Molina sits nicely in a group with Kendall, Lo Duca, Pierzynski, and Barrett, that are all quite capable of being above average players most seasons (for their position).

Furthermore, while I love what Zaun has done for the team so far it's playing with fire to predict that he will keep this play up. Remember how quickly Darren Fletcher's skills deteriorated around age 34-5.
budgell - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 06:45 PM EST (#140661) #
Wow, serious offseason overhaul continues. New players at first, third, second and now catcher.....and the subsequent batting order changes as well as pitching changes It too much to ask a team with that many changes to "gel" sufficiently that they become contenders in the first season post changes....or would that be too much emphasis on something as "feely" as gelling/familiarity/comfort level?
Pistol - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 07:32 PM EST (#140662) #
"Molina would receive a $1.5 million signing bonus and a $3 million salary this year under the agreement, and the deal would contain a $7.5 million mutual option for 2007 with a $500,000 buyout."

Given that the second year isn't guaranteed I would think that the enitre bonus and this year's salary ($4.5 million) would all go on this year's payroll and the buyout ($0.5 million) would go on next year's payroll.

If the bonus was split over this year and next it'd be $3.75 and $1.25.

Assuming that the option is indeed mutual I can't imagine a scenario where it would be exercised by both the Jays and Molina. If the Jays were willing to pay Molina $7 million it means he had a really good year. In that case Molina would want to sign a long term contract. If Molina were willing to exercise the option it means he likely isn't worth $7 million and the Jays would decline.
rocococo - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 07:34 PM EST (#140663) #
It's official, one year 4.5 million deal with a 7.5 million 2007 option and a 500k buyout

http://www.tsn.ca/mlb/news_story.asp?id=153864
Jim - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 07:37 PM EST (#140665) #
Feel free to delete the unformatted comment...

Blah. I'll be very surprised if he out-hits Zaun in 2006,

You'll be very suprised if a 31 year old who has gone 100/86/110 OPS+ the last 3 years in ~1250 PAs outhits a 34 year old who has gone 68/94/94 in the last 3 years in ~1100 PA?

Very suprised?

RhyZa - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 07:51 PM EST (#140666) #
^ Exactly ^

It's a great move in my opinion for many reasons, not the least of which is that it protects against a possible decline/off year from Zaun. And it's almost a bargain, considering the dearth of catchers around the league (see the contracts and trades involving catchers, both backups and starters, they fetch a not too shabby return).
Wildrose - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 07:53 PM EST (#140667) #
I wouldn't be surprised if the mutual option (which is sort of like kissing your sister) was insisted upon by Molina. If the Jay's exercise it fine, but if Molina declines, the Jays would not have access to arbitration rights which normally follow such a player. If Molina has a reasonable 2006 he'd be a class-A free agent after the season, worth 2 draft picks to the Jays, but this would be a drag on Molina's value on the open market, so I believe the mutual option may be a way around this issue.(I'll have to do more research on this).
zaptom - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 07:58 PM EST (#140668) #
Who will be comming of the 40 man roster now that we have signed Molina? G.Q. perhaps...?
Wildrose - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 07:58 PM EST (#140669) #
Molina was not offered arbitration by the Angels, so the Jays do not need to compensate the Halos.

Jim - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 08:01 PM EST (#140670) #
Ryan Houston maybe?
melondough - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 08:11 PM EST (#140671) #
On second thought I am quite upset. After all, what reason do I now have to check out Rotoworld after I wake up in the morning? I guess I will just have to wait for more rumours.

This immediately makes the Jays a tougher team to play against. I will definately sleep well tonight.
Jonny German - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 08:43 PM EST (#140672) #
Very suprised?

Maybe not quite "very", but yes, I will be surprised if the career .273 .309 .397 hitter out-hits the career .251 .342 .375 hitter. OPS+ is a poor choice if you want to legitimately compare these two - Zaun's value will always be more about OBP, Molina's more about SLG, and OPS+ does not account for that properly.

The good news is that they'll help each other - Zaun will be better for more rest, Molina will be better for facing fewer righties.

Oleg - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 08:53 PM EST (#140673) #
Along with Hillenbrand, those are a lot of double plays the Jays are going to be hitting into.
melondough - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 09:06 PM EST (#140674) #
So because of his speed (or lack there of) where should he hit? If you hit him 9th then you will likely get speed hitting after him which may not be the best idea.

Due to his fantastic ability to make contact, I think the Jays need to position him in the order so that he will be given as many opportunites as possible to hit a runner in from third or to move the runner from second base to third. It would also help if he was slotted where the fewest number of circumstances arise of having a runner standing at first base ahead of him (i.e. avoid the double play). Could this place him at #7?
eeleye - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 09:32 PM EST (#140675) #
Wouldn't you guys have rather had Mike Piazza instead? Piazza's average last year was worse, but he knocked in a few more, like 4 more dingers. But he's locked for about 20. But Piazza aside, Molina is younger and is possible for him to repeat his "career" year from last year.
GeoffAtMac - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 09:58 PM EST (#140676) #
Re: zaptom's question about who will be dropped from 40-man

I think it is time to drop Pete Walker -- why not call up a rookie to take his place? Walker was good, but not necessarily great.

I think we might be able to get similar production from another pitcher, and save the $800 K we will be paying PW.


On another note, I think it has been a bad day for Jason Phillips and GQ.
Gerry - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 10:28 PM EST (#140677) #
My guess for the 40 man drop.....John Hattig.

Hattig was injured last year and is a fringe prospect anyway.
kpataky - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 10:29 PM EST (#140678) #
I guess my point is, how does it benefit a player if he is placed on waivers, claimed by another team and then assigned to their Triple-A team rather than being assigned outright to the original teams's AAA? If some other team makes a waiver cliam, you would think they would be obligated to carry that guy on their 25 man or have to give him back or place him back on waivers before having the ability to send him to their AAA. The idea being he ultimately sticks on someone's 25 man roster.
mistermike - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 10:42 PM EST (#140679) #
I'm surprised by the number of people who don't like this trade. Have you all forgotten how painful it was to watch Ken Huckaby try to hit while Zaun was injured or needed the occasional day off? (Quiroz would not have been any better.) That is not a situation you want when you're potentially within games of winning a division.

Good signing, in my opinion. Now if only the Jays could locate that elusive power-hitting corner outfielder that has eluded them for years in free agency... ;-)
mistermike - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 10:46 PM EST (#140680) #
Another thought... the Jays bench becomes a lot stronger with Zaun as the primary pinch hitter. Any possibility of carrying three catchers -- Molina to start behind the plate, Zaun to pinch hit wherever needed (frequently), and Phillips as the third emergency reserve to give Gibbons the ability to pinch-hit with Zaun at any point in the game?
Jim - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 10:49 PM EST (#140681) #
OPS+ is a poor choice

OPS+ is a poor choice if you want to try and make the claim that Zaun is a better offensive player. OPS+ takes out the huge park advantage he has had his entire career.

Kansas City to Houston to Colorado to Toronto is like going through the Diamondbacks system with those offensive parks.

H Winfield Teut - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 11:01 PM EST (#140682) #
Can you drop Walker? He goes to arby sometimes soon, I imagine some bad scenarios could come of designating him.
Jobu - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 11:11 PM EST (#140684) #
I was surprised to see him sign after holding out for so long.

But let it be known that if Dan comes back to TSN broadcasting while Molina's a Jay, I'll have to retire from Too Many Molinas! as it would be provided live on TSN games anyways.
Jonny German - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 11:44 PM EST (#140685) #
OPS+ is a poor choice if you want to try and make the claim that Zaun is a better offensive player.

Also true, but it doesnít mean that OPS+ is a legitimate way to compare these two. They are not the same type of hitter, and OPS+ burns Zaun for that.

Letís consider something that doesnít overvalue SLG relative to OBP, but does adjust for park. Molina had 8.1 hitting Win Shares in 2005 (449 PA), compared to 8.6 for Zaun (512 PA). Very close to equal, and very different than the 110 to 94 advantage OPS+ gives to Molina. Because I believe Molinaís success against righties in 2005 is totally unrepeatable, I expect Zaun to out-hit him in 2006. We shall see.

rIbIt - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 11:48 PM EST (#140686) #
1st thought? Waste of payroll. Zaun's a warrior and his effort has never been questioned.

The more I think about it - and the more I read other opinions - this is a solid pickup. Was Ryan overpaid? Maybe. But when one considers how much is invested in Doc (and later on Burnett), it's a necessary investment. Same seems true of Molina.

As an afterthought, the casual fans will eat this up, like a cherry on their sundae. The Jays did what??? Again???
If that damn Dome is not 3/4 full next year then this town has lost their minds.
Wildrose - Monday, February 06 2006 @ 11:58 PM EST (#140687) #
I did a bit more research on the arbitration situation and I may be wrong.

Esteban Loiza declined a $4.5 million mutual option for 2006 with the Nationals this past season, then entered the open market, signing with the A's. In an interview with an A's blog, Beane mentioned how upset the teams scouts were with him for losing a first round draft choice for signing Loiza.
rtcaino - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 12:00 AM EST (#140688) #
""OPS+ is a poor choice if you want to try and make the claim that Zaun is a better offensive player. OPS+ takes out the huge park advantage he has had his entire career.""

-I don't think that is what he was getting at. Though OPS+ adjusts for park factors, it still overvalues SLG. EQA, is a better measure, as it adjusts for park factors, and properly weights OBP and SLG. It has already been said that Molina was 5th, to Zaunís 11th last year. I wonder what the three year split would look like?

Molina posted 253, 244 and 268 in the past three years. Zaun's are more difficult to calculate because his 2003 stats were split between Houston and Colorado. in 97 and 35 outs respectively, he posted a 216 in Houston and a 253 in Colorado (I'm not sure how BP would consolidate that into a single stat?). That was followed by 258 and 254 in 04 and 05.

Zaun has a career mark of .248 vs. a .239 for Bengie.
Wildrose - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 12:09 AM EST (#140689) #
What does this mean for the Jays?

Well, Molina is on track to be a class A free agent after 2006.

If Molina plays well, the Jays stand a good chance, albeit with many variables, of flipping this fellow for some pretty valuable draft chips ( this however, entails no changes in the expiring CBA) .

Glevin - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 12:50 AM EST (#140690) #
"Hes not a hall of famer - but if he does become a Jay hes arguably the best all around catcher the Jays have ever had. "

Ernie Whitt was clearly better despite the difference in eras. Even Pat Borders early in his career was better. Molina is a decent player, but his career high in BB, set last year is 27. He was under 20 the previous four years. (Including 9 IBB in that period). He'll be a good upgrade over Phillips though. The Jays could have some OBP problems. This sure isn't a moneyball kind of lineup.

Molina-.309 career OBP
Adams-.329 career
Rios-.321
Hinske-.335
Wells-.330
Hillenbrand-.327
rtcaino - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 01:20 AM EST (#140691) #
I really do not understand the motivation behind changing this aspect of the CBA. Anybody know the specifics?
Geoff - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 01:33 AM EST (#140692) #
declining an option isn't the same as declining arbitration as you mentioned before about Molina's case -- so I wouldnt see why the Jays would lose a pick.
MattAtBat - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 02:49 AM EST (#140694) #
Ken Rosenthal's latest article on the Jays is a bit of a buzz-kill for me. Or maybe after "Astros in 7", he's just hedging his bets.

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/5312490
eeleye - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 03:12 AM EST (#140695) #
Rosenthal says: "Teams that undergo dramatic overhauls often take time to jell, and sometimes become distracted by internal matters. Hillenbrand must adapt to being the primary designated hitter. Hinske must learn to play the outfield. Zaun almost certainly will be unhappy about losing time to Molina."

Uh - I think he is just creating non-existent problems because he is a writer in the media and he is trying to sell headlines. How hard is it for Hillenbrand to switch to DH? It's not - he just keeps doing what he's doing. Hinske learning outfield is his own private challenge that can be regulated by the team and doesn't affect the team as a whole other than the numbers he puts up. Zaun has been a back-up catcher his whole career and will probably still start some 50-60 games, a decent amount.

Rosenthal continues: "The pressure experienced by players who sign big contracts poses another potential problem. Burnett, 29, and Ryan, 30, should be in the primes, but who knows how they will react to added scrutiny? Burnett faces the dual challenge of moving from the NL to the AL and from a pitcher's park in Florida to a slight hitter's park in Toronto. Ryan never has closed for a club expected to contend, and now he'll be face right-handed behemoths like the Yankees' Gary Sheffield and Red Sox's Manny Ramirez in pennant-race conditions."

While some first year's of a big contract cause choking (ex:Beltran), it does not seem to be a proven rule otherwise no one would sign big contracts. There are pluses that will help Burnett too: he has Arnsberg and Halladay to look up to and a good team. And pitching in the AL is not THAT difficult of a transition - he's still the same pitcher, but his ERA may be .4 higher. Big whoop. BJ Ryan has already faced the Gary Sheffield's and Manny Ramirez's anyway.
Named For Hank - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 03:19 AM EST (#140696) #
Letís consider something that doesnít overvalue SLG relative to OBP, but does adjust for park. Molina had 8.1 hitting Win Shares in 2005 (449 PA), compared to 8.6 for Zaun (512 PA). Very close to equal, and very different than the 110 to 94 advantage OPS+ gives to Molina. Because I believe Molinaís success against righties in 2005 is totally unrepeatable, I expect Zaun to out-hit him in 2006. We shall see.

There's a Zaun jersey vs. Molina jersey bet to be made here somewhere.
Pistol - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 08:07 AM EST (#140697) #
http://torontosun.com/Sports/Baseball/2006/02/07/1429501-sun.html

JP talked that it's possible that Molina would DH and Zaun would catch against tough lefties, thereby getting a full RH team out there.

That strikes me as odd as you would seemingly need a third catcher. However, I suppose you could take the risk that Zaun doesn't get hurt, but if he does you could slide Molina to catcher and just give up the DH the rest of the game.
dp - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 08:33 AM EST (#140698) #
While some first year's of a big contract cause choking (ex:Beltran)

Beltran had a leg injury all season that really hampered him. He played through it as much as he could, and probably some of that was due to his contract size, but to say he "choked" really isn't accurate. It would be like saying Doc choked when that line drive when off his leg.

I'm disappointed by this move b/c it just didn't seem necessary. Was there no way to upgrade RF with the $5 million? The easiest way to upgrade the offense is just to remove Rios and replace him with an average RF. This late in the offseason, I know there isn't much of anything left, but the Jays don't have any kind of reliable contingency plan- banking on Hinske to learn the OF isn't a great idea. It should be one of those "gravy if it works" things but not your alternative to getting SS production from a corner OF. JP has made a lot of bold moves, but also done a lot shuffling to fill holes that didn't exist and created some question marks in the process. With all the money spent, not getting a RF seems like a mistake.
Paul D - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 08:34 AM EST (#140699) #
Molina had 8.1 hitting Win Shares in 2005 (449 PA), compared to 8.6 for Zaun (512 PA).

Are Win Shares supposed to be used in this context though? I thought they didn't have much predictive power, as they take into account clutch hitting and other variables that you'd expect to fluctuate from year to year.

CeeBee - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 08:37 AM EST (#140700) #
Maybe the Jays intend to carry Quiroz this season rather than risk losing him on waivers?
Jim - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 08:39 AM EST (#140701) #
<i>I don't think that is what he was getting at. </i><p>

Don't worry, I know what he was getting at. I was just trying to have a little fun with the word <b>very</b>. Molina has better numbers over the past 3 years and is 3 years younger - to me that makes him the favorite to have a better season. Can Zaun outhit Molina in 2006? Of course he could, I just think it's a 65/35 proposition in Molina's favor.

Leigh - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 09:23 AM EST (#140702) #
Baseball Prospectus' EqA, as noted above, is a good offensive catch-all stat. It corrects for all conceivable context.

EqA
Catcher   2004     2005     2006*
Molina    .250     .282     .257
Zaun      .264     .265     .265
Phillips  .224     .233     .252
Quiroz                      .250

*PECOTA

PECOTA figures that Zaun will be the best hitter of the four in 2006, and I agree.

In this next table, you can see what different combinations of starter of backup would do, based on their PECOTA projections. I have weighted the starter at 65% and the backup at 35%.

Starter/Backup      EqA
Zaun/Molina        .262
Zaun/Phillips      .260
Molina/Zaun        .260

Not much difference, really.

kpataky - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 09:37 AM EST (#140704) #
Maybe the Jays intend to carry Quiroz this season rather than risk losing him on waivers. Keep him in the wings as a third stringer. Mold him under Molina, a fellow Latin catcher. Of course Zaun's deal with the team expires after this season. And Molina only signed a 1-year with an option, right?

They might keep Zaun, Quiroz and Molina through Spring Training - maybe Molina or Zaun gets injured. Or maybe they can package Quiroz in a trade if he shows up in good shape and performs. Nothing says Quiroz has to be waived now or up to the start of the season.
Craig B - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 09:46 AM EST (#140705) #
I imagine that one of the reasons PECOTA doesn't like Molina is that Molina has absolutely no speed, and traditionally slow players and catchers did not age well at all.

Interestingly, PECOTA's top comp for Molina in 2006 was Javy Lopez in 2002. Lopez, as many will remember, had an awful 2002, leading to a lot of jokes about burnt toast. So PECOTA's "trend marker" for the Lopez comp is "down".

Of course, in 2003, Lopez bounced back to have one of the two or three best hitting seasons by a catcher in baseball history. :)

The next one is Sandy Alomar in 1998; that trend marker also points down, because Alomar had a bad '98, but he hit quite well in three of the next four years.
Jim - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 10:08 AM EST (#140707) #
PECOTA quite likes Quiroz's future as well.

A .281 EQA at age 28? 265/343/476 in 2010?
Wildrose - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 10:51 AM EST (#140708) #
Blair's take on the Molina signing.
Mike Green - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 10:58 AM EST (#140709) #
I don't agree with PECOTA at all on this one, but then we have a broader information base than PECOTA does. We know that Quiroz struggled in the AFL and in the Venezuelan Winter League. Bearing in mind his very limited playing time in the past 2 years and his recent struggles, projecting an EqA of .250 is not reasonable for him. In fairness, the PECOTA projections must be made on data available earlier. I also do not agree that Molina is at risk of significant regression, any more than any 29 year old catcher might have. The key is mileage on the knees, and Molina is a low mileage catcher.

Molina/Zaun with Phillips in Syracuse (Quiroz passing through waivers would be a bonus) is a nice catching arrangement. The price is right, too. Two thumbs up on this acquisition.
Jim - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 11:31 AM EST (#140713) #
I'm not quite sold on the Phillips PECOTA projection. I know the numbers make it look like he's been a bit unlucky the past few years but that is quite a jump to that weighted mean.

kpataky - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 12:05 PM EST (#140716) #
Quiroz batted .294 in the AFL - was actually at .312 until the final day. I'm curious why you think he struggled? I mean, they only played him in 15 of the 32 games - never in consecutive ones. He did have 2 errors and 3 passed balls (2 in one game) though.
DepecheJay - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 01:06 PM EST (#140719) #
What are the chances that the Jays decide to carry 11 pitchers rather than they're usual 12 and let Pete Walker go? Does the fact that they are awaiting an arb. case with him automatically mean that he is basically assured a roster spot? The Jays don't need a 2nd long guy out of the pen, seeing as how Downs was actually pretty damn good last season and they have Dustin waiting in the minors in case there are injuries. Besides, Walker was miserable towards the end of last season.

If the Jays cut down to 11 pitchers, why not carry GQ as a 3rd catcher? I know he would get little to no playing time and that his development might be stunted, but if Molina plays well enough you can eventually deal Zaun. The Jays are in the position where they either stash Quiroz on the roster or lose him as he probably won't make it through waivers.

Thoughts on what everyone thinks should happen with GQ, Pete Walker, etc.
Marc Hulet - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 01:43 PM EST (#140721) #
With veteran catchers Jason Phillips and Mike Mahoney at triple-A, my guess is that the Jays will designate Quiroz for assignment to make room for Molina. Then they will work out a deal with a team, perhaps Florida, for a low-level, mid-tier prospect who does not need to take a spot on the 40-man roster.
Pistol - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 01:52 PM EST (#140723) #
How often do players like Jason Phillips, who sign minor league contracts, actually play in the minors if they don't make the team? It seems to me that they get released more often than not (although I certainly could be wrong).

--
Interesting (subscriber) article at BPro today regarding the need for starting pitcher depth.

"57.8% of teams with 90+ wins had six or more pitchers make at least 10 starts."

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=4747

And this is probably one of the reasons why both Walker and Downs are on the team as they can step in and spot start if needed.
Pistol - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 02:01 PM EST (#140724) #
"If the Jays cut down to 11 pitchers, why not carry GQ as a 3rd catcher?"

Quiroz has no value to the 2006 Jays as a third catcher. He can't pinch hit for anyone, he can't pinch run, and he's not a defensive replacement for anyone. It's simply a waste of a roster spot.

The risk of losing Quiroz is a cost of trying to contend.
Wildrose - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 02:57 PM EST (#140726) #
I'd have to give this deal thumbs up as well ( especially if Ricciardi can somehow finesse Molina into a first rounder/and a supplemental first round choice in 2007), a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, an injury on a plate collision to Greg Zaun, would essentially have destroyed the 2006 season before this latest move. Now we have depth.

I'm a bit old school when it comes to catchers. Measuring catcher defence is extremely difficult to do, can they control the running game, do they block balls in the dirt, can they frame pitches well, are they bright enough to digest a complex game plan, can they communicate well with those bizarre creatures called pitchers? All these factors are very difficult to quantify, and given that your catcher is literally involved in EVERY defensive play, you'd better believe in the guy behind the plate. Moving forward the Jays now have two guys they can trust at this crucial position.
Gwyn - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 03:01 PM EST (#140727) #
For those disappointed with Rosenthal's column mentioned above, Tom Verducci's latest will cheer you up. He lists Burnett and Chacin amongst his Top 10 breakout pitchers for 2006.
Wildrose - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 03:30 PM EST (#140729) #
Frankly, depth is a strong point with the 2006 Jays.

They have 13-14 major league ready arms, 5 outfielders rotating through 3 slots, 2 good catchers and in Hillenbrand a reasonable option at third and first.

Some have voiced concern over the middle infield spot, but I actually quite like John Macdonald. I consider him to be a modern day Mark Belanger. He's an atrocious hitter by any measure, but he's an absolute marvel with the glove at a crucial defensive position . According to Dave Pinto's PMR he's amongst the best in all of baseball fielding groundballs, measuring 22 runs above the average shortstop if a regular at this position (I have some qualms about Pinto's work and how it measures the outfield and corner infield spots, but it seems to do a good job with middle infielders in particular, strongly correlating to other defensive metrics at this spot, according to Dave Gassko).

Macdonald gives away a lot on offence, but he's way ahead of the pack defensively, I'd even argue that with extreme grounballers like Halliday and Burnett,you may want to give him some starts.

Mike Green - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 03:33 PM EST (#140730) #
Quiroz went .294/.333/.412 in 51 at-bats in the AFL. That sounds respectable, but the AFL was a super-charged hitter's environment this year. I don't know what the International League equivalency would be, but I'm guessing that you'd have to knock 50 points off all the numbers at least. In the Venezuelan League, he hit under .200 without power in over 100 at-bats.

If Quiroz had put in full or almost full seasons in 2004 or 2005, then one would reasonably ignore these numbers in making a projection. As it stands, the PECOTA projection undoubtedly places great weight on his 2003 season because of the smaller samples in 2004 and 2005. Projecting future performance is never easy, and Quiroz' case illustrates it.
Mike Green - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 03:45 PM EST (#140731) #
Using statistics from under 1/2 a season to evaluate defence is not recommended by central casting. McDonald's career defensive statistics at short are somewhat above average, but nothing like Belanger's. I seriously doubt that McDonald is better with the glove than Juan Uribe, say.

That's why McDonald has been a utility player all his career whereas Belanger was a regular for many seasons.
Mike Green - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 04:26 PM EST (#140733) #
ZiPS likes Molina quite a bit in Toronto.
HollywoodHartman - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 04:28 PM EST (#140734) #
Buster Olney believes the Jays should come flying out of the gate, possibly setting the tone for the rest of the season. http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?name=olney_buster#20060207&lpos=spotlight&lid=tab1pos2
MatO - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 04:42 PM EST (#140735) #
I think the fact that Belanger was a regular is based more on context. In the 1970's it was accepted that a SS with a career .228BA .300OBP .280SLP was OK as long as he could field his position. There's no way that he gets to play 2000 ML games in the 1990's and 2000's in a high run scoring environment and with greater hitting expectations from the SS.
VBF - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 04:46 PM EST (#140736) #
Scott Carson, Sportsnet man (and lurking bauxite apparantly) checks in on his reasonably optimistic thoughts of the latest big move in Blue Jays Land.
MatO - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 04:57 PM EST (#140738) #
The Molina signing is a good but not great deal. It certainly solidifies the catching position for 2006 but it'll be back to square one in 2007 as Quiroz is likely going to be traded and both Miolina and Zaun will likely be FA's. Let's hope Thigpen makes a big leap forward this year.
Wildrose - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 05:06 PM EST (#140739) #
That's why McDonald has been a utility player all his career whereas Belanger was a regular for many seasons.

I disagree. What Macdonald hasn't had is a strong personality, unfraid to question the orthodox, like Earl Weaver, who appreciated his defensive abilities and gave him a chance. Granted, measuring his defensive value is difficult across different eras and given his relative lack of playing time, still, having seen both of them play, I find the comparison apt.

Wildrose - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 05:14 PM EST (#140740) #
As Matt mentioned, fielding first shortstops in the 70's, were not quite the anomaly they would be in Today's modern game, even then, many questioned Weaver using such a poor offensive player. I guess if your an Earl Weaver apologist, as I am, you don't see this as being a problem.
Glevin - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 06:08 PM EST (#140742) #
"As Matt mentioned, fielding first shortstops in the 70's, were not quite the anomaly they would be in Today's modern game, even then, many questioned Weaver using such a poor offensive player."

But there is a massive difference in the game now. In 1973 (halfway through Belanger's career), the starting SS in the AL hit 34 HRs in total!!! That's an average of under 3 per starting SS. The leader was Frank Duffy with 8. 3 teams had starting SS with zero HRs.The average SS last year, even including many who had very few ABs, hit 11.5 HRs. Macdonald is one of the worst hitters in baseball and I have a very difficult time believing any defense would make up for that.
Anders - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 06:44 PM EST (#140743) #
But there is a massive difference in the game now. In 1973 (halfway through Belanger's career), the starting SS in the AL hit 34 HRs in total!!! That's an average of under 3 per starting SS. The leader was Frank Duffy with 8. 3 teams had starting SS with zero HRs.The average SS last year, even including many who had very few ABs, hit 11.5 HRs. Macdonald is one of the worst hitters in baseball and I have a very difficult time believing any defense would make up for that.

What exactly is the point of your cross era comparison? Shortstops hit more home runs now. Ok. So does everyone else. Reggie Jackson led the AL in HR's in 1973, and he hit 32. Only 3 AL players broke 30 HR's back then. For comparison, 3 Yankees hit 32+ home runs last year, led by Arod, who almost hit 50.

Clearly McDonald isnt an offensive superstar, and shouldnt play everyday, or even that regularly. Ok. He's a great defender, and when he played for the Jays, wasnt Huckibian.

Wildrose - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 06:45 PM EST (#140744) #
Well obviously were going to have to disagree. I'm quite a strong believer in PMR as it pertains to middle-infielders and it does show Macdonald to be quite valuable run wise, and yes there's some pretty questionable sample size issues with my opinion, but basically I'll say this, he must be pretty good with the glove to stick around in the majors as such an atrocious hitter. As a back-up utility infielder I think he brings good value to the team ( and yes I place a premium on shortstop defence).
Wildrose - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 06:52 PM EST (#140745) #
I'm also a pretty strong proponent of catcher defence, I stumbled across this article that gives mixed reviews on Molina, but does a good job explaining some of the issues around measuring this area.
eeleye - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 08:14 PM EST (#140747) #
By Just looking on ESPN.com blogs and sporting news predictions and such, not one American thinks the Jays will finish above third place. For example,

http://sports.espn.go.com/chat/sportsnation/story?page=thepulse060207

Prove them wrong boys, prove them wrong!
Glevin - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 08:51 PM EST (#140749) #
"What exactly is the point of your cross era comparison? Shortstops hit more home runs now. Ok. So does everyone else. Reggie Jackson led the AL in HR's in 1973, and he hit 32. Only 3 AL players broke 30 HR's back then. For comparison, 3 Yankees hit 32+ home runs last year, led by Arod, who almost hit 50. "

So? If the comparison on the table were about two OFers, I would have done the cross-era reference on OFers. The thought was that Belanger was similar to McDonald while I pointed out that Belanger was actually close to being an average SS, (in very rough terms, but if anyone cares enough about this, I can do more stats,) while McDonald is an atrocious offensive player at any position and therefore the comparison doesn't work in my opinion.
Matthew E - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 09:14 PM EST (#140750) #
Something nobody's commented on.

I heard Ricciardi (I think) say at one point this offseason that the Jays were going to request another option for Quiroz, because he's been so hampered by the injuries that he needs another year of development time. Apparently this is a relatively rare thing to happen, but there is precedent.

Does anybody know the status of this?
VBF - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 09:28 PM EST (#140751) #
Yes, it hasn't been granted and I don't believe they think it will be in the future. It had to do with the fact that Quiroz had played in the Majors and AAA in every year since his initial injury and lacked the amount of time off that would merit an extra option.

I cannot recall where I read it, but I believe that was the just of it.
Matthew E - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 09:55 PM EST (#140752) #
Oh.

Sour.
Craig B - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 10:34 PM EST (#140753) #
I heard Ricciardi (I think) say at one point this offseason that the Jays were going to request another option for Quiroz, because he's been so hampered by the injuries that he needs another year of development time. Apparently this is a relatively rare thing to happen, but there is precedent.

There is precedent; unfortunately the precedent usually applies to players who miss the entire year or very nearly the entire year with an injury. GQ has played more than a handful of games in every year.

Wildrose - Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 10:54 PM EST (#140754) #
I actually believe , the waiver was requested, and granted, on Rosario, not Quiroz.
Leigh - Wednesday, February 08 2006 @ 08:40 AM EST (#140757) #
By Just looking on ESPN.com blogs and sporting news predictions and such, not one American thinks the Jays will finish above third place.

Any set of polls in which only 13.2% of respondents selected Oakland as the team most likely to make the playoffs after missing them in 2005 can be summarily dismissed.

TA - Wednesday, February 08 2006 @ 09:37 AM EST (#140760) #
VGeras - Wednesday, February 08 2006 @ 10:59 AM EST (#140762) #
The 4th option was only talked about with Rosario, never with Quiroz. Quiroz has played substantial time in every of this three years while under the 40. The 4th year can only be granted for players who never played in the majors, and who have missed an ENTIRE season.

The Bone - Wednesday, February 08 2006 @ 11:23 AM EST (#140763) #
If we won our hearing against Hillenbrand, we could a decent return for Shea at 5 million plus Rios, couldn't we?

Hinske + Molina as a DH platoon?
Marc Hulet - Wednesday, February 08 2006 @ 11:35 AM EST (#140764) #
The Jays have designated Brian Tallet for assignment to make room for Molina, according to Insidethedome.com.
Jim - TBG - Wednesday, February 08 2006 @ 01:29 PM EST (#140766) #
We've added a Molina roundtable at http://www.torontobaseballguys.com

I don't see the Jays lack of middle infield depth as a huge hindrance. MacDonald is a serviceable backup, and there will be guys available in case of injury. Frank Menechino didn't cost much when he was acquired. The lack of catching depth was a much more glaring hole.
Newton - Wednesday, February 08 2006 @ 02:30 PM EST (#140769) #
I shall say it again, ditch Hillenbrand and sign Durazo.

If Shea wins his arb, which I doubt, he'll be grossly overpaid.

If Shea loses the Jays will have compellingly demonstrated, in Shea's presence, how mediocre he really is.


Mike Green - Wednesday, February 08 2006 @ 03:07 PM EST (#140770) #
BP released its PECOTA projections for catching prospects. The evaluations of Thigpen and Quiroz are interesting.
Mike Green - Wednesday, February 08 2006 @ 03:48 PM EST (#140771) #
More handicapping. MGL projects the Jays for 87 wins and third place, and has their reasonable floor at 80 wins. Those are also the numbers that I have written down, but the optimist also has a 94 win ceiling. I agree with all his comments, except that I think that Hill will make more of a contribution and Burnett less.
John Northey - Wednesday, February 08 2006 @ 04:04 PM EST (#140772) #
Funny how Hillenbrand, the great guy who was leading the new Jays last year is now Hillenbrand the outsider, the guy who isn't really a part of the team, doesn't want to be here.

Money does change everything eh?
Glevin - Wednesday, February 08 2006 @ 04:42 PM EST (#140773) #
"More handicapping. MGL projects the Jays for 87 wins and third place, and has their reasonable floor at 80 wins. Those are also the numbers that I have written down, but the optimist also has a 94 win ceiling. I agree with all his comments, except that I think that Hill will make more of a contribution and Burnett less."

I agree with most of what MGL says but I think his win totals are way off. He has Baltimore in fourth place at 86 wins. That in itself, with an unbalanced schedule is going to be difficult to do especially because Tampa Bay did win 65 games last year and is more likely to improve than decline (A young team who went 40-43 after June). I also believe a lot of people are ignoring the quality of teams in other divisions. The Indians, White Sox, Angels, and A's all have teams capable of winning and the Twins, Tigers, and Rangers are all very competitive. This leaves Kansas City who are still terrible and Seattle who are slightly better. I just don't see four teams in the east above 85 wins.
Chuck - Wednesday, February 08 2006 @ 04:44 PM EST (#140774) #
Just plugging a book that I've not yet read, but have ordered.

I recall reading the Hidden Game of Baseball in the 1980's and enjoying it for the eye-opener it was (even after having Bill James open my eyes with his annual Abstracts).

eeleye - Wednesday, February 08 2006 @ 05:59 PM EST (#140777) #
I always wondered, and maybe its in this book - if "playing the percentages" and putting an opposite handed batter or pitcher in is really THAT effective. Like where do you draw the line between that advantage, or between how good a hitter is overall?
Geoff - Wednesday, February 08 2006 @ 06:06 PM EST (#140778) #
Hinske + Molina as a DH platoon?

Huh? You must be thinking Molina will crush lefthanded pitching again and never DH against righties, leaving that to hero Hinske.

Otherwise, using Molina as a DH is insane. The man has value primarily for what he can do with a mitt and a pitching staff, not the bat. He had an exceptional year against lefties last year, which could easily change. There's no reason to think that he would be anything but the worst DH in the league based on his record. Might as well call up Winfield and ask him to compete for the DH job. Or Rance. Would they be less fleet of foot?

dmac - Wednesday, February 08 2006 @ 06:26 PM EST (#140780) #
MGL's prediction is off. He claims the Blue Jays will struggle to post 80 wins if either Halladay or Burnett or Ryan loses their form or gets injured. Last year we won 80 wins with Halladay being injured, and Burnett and Ryan not even being on the team.
eeleye - Wednesday, February 08 2006 @ 07:20 PM EST (#140781) #
or troy glaus.
Mike D - Wednesday, February 08 2006 @ 07:36 PM EST (#140782) #
If Shea loses the Jays will have compellingly demonstrated, in Shea's presence, how mediocre he really is.

Sigh. Newton, I hate to call you out, but you have an deeply unrealistic notion of what "mediocre" means in baseball. If Shea Hillenbrand was "mediocre" last season, then someone like, say, Reed Johnson was...I don't know, "wretchedly abysmal?"

Which he wasn't, of course. But hey, an OBP fueled by batting average plus gross hyperbole can turn anyone into a mediocrity, I guess.
Mike D - Wednesday, February 08 2006 @ 08:21 PM EST (#140783) #
Actually, let me back up for a minute. No need to be combative when I can maybe try to make my point constructively.

One of Bill James' most persuasive recent arguments is his view of the value of the average ballplayer. (I don't think that Shea's durability, defensive versatility and OPS+ of 108 make him "average," but for these purposes I'll assume he's totally average. I'll also assume that by "mediocre" you mean "average" as opposed to the "below-average" connotation that sometimes accompanies "mediocre.")

James argues that it doesn't make sense to rate players on a scale where average players score zero, above-average players score a positive number and below-average players score a negative number. The implication is that average players have a thoroughly neutral effect on their team.

But that's not true; if the Jays just ditched Shea, there isn't a freely available 7th- or 8th-best DH in the league lying around. Thus, average players have value. A better benchmark, James argues, is replacement-level players. If you compare players to the replacement level, average players help a good deal. They don't help as much as above-average players, but they help more than below-average players.

Back to the present situation, consider that the Jays posted an 88-74 Pythagorean record last season with a team OPS+ of 95. If they matched Shea's arguably "average" 108 as a team, they likely would have contended in 2005.

And as for Durazo...it doesn't give you pause that Billy Beane has given up on his Holy Grail?
eeleye - Wednesday, February 08 2006 @ 08:50 PM EST (#140784) #
Yahoo Fantasy rankings rank Shea as the 165th best player in baseball, and 130th last year. How many players are there in baseball? Like 800? We talk about the best players all the time but most players are the ones that just merely fill the line-up.
Keith Talent - Wednesday, February 08 2006 @ 08:52 PM EST (#140785) #
Ken "Astros in 7" Rosenthal

Sorry guys, it's a mantra and it's hear to stay. I am compelled to refer to KR this way from last fall on. That he is "never wrong" will only make it stick faster. Try a little levity!
eeleye - Wednesday, February 08 2006 @ 08:54 PM EST (#140786) #
PS: The nationls just offered Sosa a deal. But they want Soriano to play the outfield because they have Jose Vidro already at 2b. I smell a trade soon, and I know a team that MAYBE could need a 2b come trade dealine.
Oleg - Wednesday, February 08 2006 @ 10:14 PM EST (#140788) #
Chalk me up as not liking the deal. Pecota has:

Molina 306/397
Zaun 342/368
Phillips 311/381
Quiroz 296/397

Both Quiroz and Phillips are close to Molina's numbers and Zaun's numbers are clearly superior.

To those who say the Jays needed depth, prior to the Molina trade they had three okay catchers. Sure, if they had no glaring weaknesses anywhere else, it wouldn't be so bad to spend on Molina. However, right field is a complete black hole and that money would have been much better spent upgrading there. Hell, saving it for the draft to sign a kid who fell due to bonus demands would have been a better use.
VBF - Wednesday, February 08 2006 @ 11:04 PM EST (#140791) #
Does anyone know where you can view the Blue Jays revenue numbers as well as the Argos or even it's possible to obtain such info?

I'm just interested to know how much the Argonauts make every year relative to the Jays.
Jim - Wednesday, February 08 2006 @ 11:18 PM EST (#140793) #
Both Quiroz and Phillips are close to Molina's numbers and Zaun's numbers are clearly superior.

To those who say the Jays needed depth, prior to the Molina trade they had three okay catchers. Sure, if they had no glaring weaknesses anywhere else, it wouldn't be so bad to spend on Molina. However, right field is a complete black hole and that money would have been much better spent upgrading there. Hell, saving it for the draft to sign a kid who fell due to bonus demands would have been a better use.

It's probably a good thing that they play the games on the field then.

There isn't anyone to upgrade right field with. They have a chance to win in 2006, the Yankees and Red Sox are as flawed as they will probably be for a decade so using the money in the draft isn't going to help them make the playoffs now. They shouldn't have any issues with bonuses in the draft anyway since they don't have picks in the 2nd or 3rd rounds.

To say that Quiroz or Phillips is a better offensive bet for the coming season can only be done if you completly ignore every bit of objective evidence available.

VBF - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 12:26 AM EST (#140794) #
Press Conference scheduled for tomorrow morning.
Oleg - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 01:01 AM EST (#140795) #
"It's probably a good thing they play the games on the field then."

I'm not sure what you mean by this.

"There isn't anyone to upgrade right field with."

Perhaps not now (though I might take a flyer on Hidalgo if the price was right), but a decent hitting corner OF is bound to become available in the middle of the summer from a non-contender.

"To say that Quiroz or Phillips is a better offensive bet for the coming season can only be done if you completly ignore every bit of objective evidence available."

One, I never said either of them was a better offensive bet. I said "are close to Molina's numbers."

Two, I'm, um, using PECOTAs. As far as I know, Nate hasn't found time to build into it the Scout or Fanboy module to add that long awaited subjective element.

And speaking of objective evidence, you provided a great deal. Thanks!
Jacko - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 01:43 AM EST (#140796) #
Then Pecota (and ZIPS) are on crack.

Phillips hasn't cracked a .400 SLG or a .300 OBP since 2003.

Quiroz hasn't done anything since his breakout season at AA in 2003. Let's see him put together a few hundred solid AB at AAA (and not hurt himself) before declaring him to be at or near Molina's level.

Molina may be fat, but he's managed to stay healthy and post a .750 OPS in the majors over the past three seasons (something Quiroz and Phillips cannot claim).

I cannot explain why the computer models think Phillips and Q are going to break their respective downward spirals, but I'll believe it when I see it. I think those projection tools are engaging in a serious case of wishcasting. Something that the Jays cannot afford to do in 2006.
John Northey - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 07:56 AM EST (#140797) #
The press conference link leads to telling us that left-handed pitcher Brian Tallet has been designated for assignment. Bit odd. Just got him in January. I thought it was very strange reading the stats the Star lists, but checking TSN http://tinyurl.com/dbggf I see that his stats really aren't that good (ERA over 4 in AAA both last year and the year before, 7.71 ERA over 4 IP in the majors this year, 4.03 ERA lifetime over 35 IP with 15 BB and 16 K). In that case it makes more sense, but still seems odd to give up that quick on someone you just got, unless he is to be part of a trade later today (doubtful).
melondough - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 08:03 AM EST (#140798) #
Speaking of Molina being "fat", I had to laugh out loud when I read Thinkfactory earlier this week. Specifically this part written by Dan Szymborski:

"Another year isn't going to get Molina that money - he's too old for that to happen and given his growth pattern, his Pop Tart-infused buttocks will need two first class seats by the start of the 2007 season. Molina isn't a major upgrade over Zaun, but he has more power, which the Blue Jays can always use, and is a very good defensive catcher as long as the plays involve him not having to do that whole "movement" thing. Only a single season makes this a good signing for the Jays."

I am sure the rich "poor guy" has heard this before. I am sure by now he has a hard exterior when it comes to this kind of talk.

More importantly, I agree with the last part about only a one year deal makes this a good deal. I for one am in Bengie's corner no matter what + size he wears!
Pistol - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 08:07 AM EST (#140799) #
LeCroy signed with the Nationals for 1 year and $850k. http://tinyurl.com/c4rj9

Only two players remain in the free agent contest - Jeff Weaver who should sign soon and Durazo who apparently is too hurt at the moment for anyone to take a chance on.
Named For Hank - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 08:19 AM EST (#140800) #
Phillips 311/381
Quiroz 296/397


Seriously, where do these numbers come from? Can anyone explain to me what would lead to this kind of forecast? As a non-numbers person who respects the numbers, I am totally flummoxed by this idea -- most of the time I get where the numbers are coming from.

Oleg, you put a lot of stock in them -- can you explain to me why? Has this method been a really strong predictor in the past?
Named For Hank - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 08:33 AM EST (#140801) #
Keith Talent, please drop me a line -- the e-mail address you registered with isn't getting to you and the other address I had in my book doesn't work anymore.
Pistol - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 09:19 AM EST (#140802) #
PECOTA takes a lot of factors into account with their projections - primarily historical stats (with adjustments for environment), age, height, weight and comparisons to similar players.
Named For Hank - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 09:36 AM EST (#140803) #
PECOTA takes a lot of factors into account with their projections - primarily historical stats (with adjustments for environment), age, height, weight and comparisons to similar players.

Right -- I'm more wondering how PECOTA came to those conclusions. They just don't seem reasonable to me, but as a non-numbers person I can't really tell you why.
Maldoff - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 10:15 AM EST (#140804) #
Don't know where else to post this....

On ESPN.com, Phil Rogers tried to predict the "Next Derrick Lee". And guess who is #3 on the list? Yes, that's right, LYLE OVERBAY. Here's the exerpt:

"An excellent hitter with emerging power, the 29-year-old Overbay was traded to Toronto to open up first base for Prince Fielder in Milwaukee. It is the second move of his career, so it shouldn't cause too big of an adjustment.
That's especially true because the Rogers Centre will continue his career trend of playing in retractable roof stadiums. While Miller Park is also a good hitter's ballpark, the Rogers Centre suits left-handed hitters a little better.

Overbay is driven; his batting average actually dropped 25 points in 2005, perhaps because he was looking over his shoulder at Fielder. He could play with a clear head this season and will hit in a good spot next to Vernon Wells and Troy Glaus. He's expected to be a complementary player, but he has the tools and patient approach to emerge as the cornerstone piece, just as Lee did with the Cubs. "

Wow!

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=rogers_phil&id=2321392
Leigh - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 10:44 AM EST (#140806) #
Sigh. Newton, I hate to call you out, but you have an deeply unrealistic notion of what "mediocre" means in baseball. If Shea Hillenbrand was "mediocre" last season, then someone like, say, Reed Johnson was...I don't know, "wretchedly abysmal?"

Which he wasn't, of course. But hey, an OBP fueled by batting average plus gross hyperbole can turn anyone into a mediocrity, I guess.

Congratulations, Newton. You have now joined the elite fraternity of "Targets of Mike D.'s Hillenbrand-Related Vitriole". We meet on Tuesdays at my place, hope you can make it. Please adhere to Club transportation rules: take a plane, take a train, take a cab, just don't take a walk.

I kid, Mike.

Seriously, I am not going to rehash all of the arguments about how walk-heavy OBP is more repeatable than hit-heavy OBP, the double plays, the lack of plate patience, the reliance on unsustainable batting average on balls in play, etc.

Hillenbrand was average or better in 2005. No question. My position - and I would be willing to guess that it is Newton's as well - is that the 2005 results do not indicate future success. The results in 2005 were good, but the process (about one walk per week) does not inspire confidence.

On the plus side, Hillenbrand has increased the gap between his batting average and OBP. This can be attributed to getting hit by significantly more pitches than in the past. Maybe Hillenbrand has developed this skill - Reed Johnson and Craig Biggio have. If so, then the future is not as bleek. If not, though, you have a player who has to rely on hitting .290 to keep his OBP from dipping below .330 (his career numbers are .288/.327).

We have been through this before, Mike D. I don't think that you agree with the above paragraph and that's okay and perfectly reasonable.

I went through the MLB depth charts in order to find the 42 players who, at present, figure to be starting at either first, third or DH for an AL club in 2006. I looked up the ZIPS RC/27 projections and PECOTA EqA projections for each.

Hillenbrand beats the following seven of those players in both categories/projection systems: C. Kotchman, S. Burroughs, B. Williams, A. Boone, B. Inge, T. Batista, J. Crede.*

Hillenbrand beats the following six players in one category/projection system, but not the other: D. Mientiewicz, J. Conine, M. Teahen, A. Beltre, C. Everett, E. Hinske.#

Hillenbrand falls short of the following twenty-nine players in both categories/projections systems: C. Figgins, J. Rivera, L. Overbay, T. Glaus, T. Lee, J. Gomes, M. Mora, J. Lopez, K. Youkilis, M. Lowell, D. Ortiz, J. Giambi, A. Rodriguez, B. Broussard, T. Hafner, M. Sweeney, C. Shelton, D. Young, J. Morneau, R. White, P. Konerko, J. Thome, D. Johnson, E. Chavez, F. Thomas, R. Sexson, M. Teixeira, H. Blalock, P. Nevin.

*Mientkiewicz beat Hillenbrand in ZIPS, but not PECOTA. The others on the list beat Hillenbrand in PECOTA, but not ZIPS. The PECOTA numbers are neutral, but the ZIPS numbers are in park context, which might explain why ZIPS has Hillenbrand ahead of Beltre.

#If Hillenbrand was tied with a player in one projection system, I deferred to the other for slotting purposes (in lieu of creating two extra categories).

Anyway, I think that it is clear that Hillenbrand is an inadequate starting DH. However, he does have that versatility and is apparently a 'character guy', which make him more valuable.

I believe that Hillenbrand is the perfect bench player at about 2.5 million per season or so. Good teams need players like Hillenbrand for their versatility, character and power. Hillenbrand is a superior hitter to players like Gabe Kapler and Ruben Sierra; used in roles similar to those players, he provides a clear advantage for the Jays over their primary rivals.

Pistol - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 10:44 AM EST (#140807) #
"he has the tools and patient approach to emerge as the cornerstone piece, just as Lee did with the Cubs"

Except that Lee is a flyball hitter and Overbay is a groundball hitter. In fact Overbay was one of the most extreme GB hitters last year.

Overbay could certainly improve, and indeed 'breakout', but it'll be nowhere near the level that Lee did (although you can safely say that about 99% of all players). If Overbay improves this year I think it'll likely be batting average driven more than anything else (after factoring for the park).
Jim - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 11:25 AM EST (#140808) #
<i>'I'm not sure what you mean by this.'</i> <p>

It means that although I like and respect PECOTA those projections are nonsense for those 4 players.

Jim - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 11:27 AM EST (#140809) #
PECOTA is a work in progress.

Dustin Pedroia
300/365/458

That is just one example of many, these aren't gospel.
Chuck - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 11:41 AM EST (#140810) #
From the Phil Rogers piece: his batting average actually dropped 25 points in 2005, perhaps because he was looking over his shoulder at Fielder.

Funny how you can use competition to serve whatever agenda you're wielding. Fielder's presence pushed Overbay to loftier heights. Fielder's presence made Overbay nervous and press too hard.

This is similar to post hoc explanations regarding a particular pitcher's run support. When Halladay pitches, the Jays are confident and their hitters can relax and focus. When Halladay piches, the Jays are confident and their hitters over-relax, knowing they don't need to score many runs.

Leigh - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 12:37 PM EST (#140811) #
Jim, notice how when Mike Green criticizes a particular PECOTA projection, he provides evidence?

If you want your criticisms to carry any credibility, you have to do better than "these four are nonsense".

For my part, I'll trust PECOTA over last season's results (or any seasons' results) because it is unbiased, objective and sophisticated. There are, sometimes, logical explanations for PECOTA's inaccuracies, but in order to be valid, they have to be (a) not based on stats and (b) objective. Oftentimes, these types of things relate to injuries or some other circumstance that makes the player too unique to be evaluated by his PECOTA comparables.
Named For Hank - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 12:46 PM EST (#140812) #
I'll bug you about it, then, Leigh -- do you think those four predictions are reasonable? Do you think the Jays are really nuts not to play Quiroz this year?

And more importantly, how can we turn this into a bet? There must be some way to compare Quiroz and/or Phillips' minor league performances to the major league performances of Molina and Zaun throughout the season.
Flex - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 12:59 PM EST (#140814) #
"How can we turn this into a bet?"

Something tells me those were the last friendly words spoken over dinner by Janet Jones to Wayne Gretzky.
Ryan C - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 01:02 PM EST (#140815) #
I'll trust PECOTA over last season's results (or any seasons' results) because it is unbiased, objective and sophisticated

Those are great characteristics, but does it have a proven track record? That's what I want to know when evaluating something that's predictive. If my neighbour's gut feeling is proven right more often than the stats then I'll trust my neighbour's biased, unobjective, unsophisticated gut feeling.

That being said I have no idea how accurate PECOTA and ZIPs have proven to be in the past. If they've got a good track record then that lends alot of weight to their predictions for me. Does anyone have a link to a study or anything that might show how accurate of predictors they've been in the past?

Jonny German - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 01:08 PM EST (#140816) #
How advanced do you feel PECOTA is, Leigh? I'll buy that it's the most advanced projection system that's publically available and that it's respectably accurate when you look at overall results (i.e. hundreds of player projections rather than individual players), but I don't think it's yet at the level where it could beat, say, Coach at fantasy baseball. Actually, that'd be a good idea for Prospectus if they're not already doing it - a baseball version of Kasparov versus Deep Blue.
Jim - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 01:24 PM EST (#140819) #
If you want your criticisms to carry any credibility, you have to do better than "these four are nonsense".

And the benefit of proof is on me and not Nate Silver because......

Ok, Let's start with Phillips:
EQA
2004 - .224
2005 - .233
2006p - .252

Ok, EQA should remove the Dodgers Stadium/RC bump that Phillips will get in his raw stats. PECOTA probably likes Phillips because he looks like he's been hit unlucky for the last 2 seasons. That's 850 plate appearances where he hasn't sniffed a .252 EQA. I don't see how you can't be skeptical of this number.

Here is what Quiroz has done the past two seasons:
2004 SYR 288 PA .228 EQA
2004 TOR 57 PA .184 EQA
2005 SYR 94 PA .237 EQA
2005 DUN 43 PA .222 EQA
2005 TOR 39 PA .194 EQA
2006p .250 EQA

Ok, so in the past two seasons he hasn't been able to stay on the field and hasn't been within a cab ride of a .250 EQA. Throw in a mediocre AFL and a horrible winter league. Again, call me skeptical.

I shouldn't have said all 4 are nonsense. Zaun's projection is legitimate. A .265 EQA smells a bit high for me, but is reasonable.

Molina is similar to Zaun's - mostly reasonable. .257 seems a bit light to me, but it's in the ballpark.

I was one of the first ones on this site to call for the signing of Phillips. It's just not reasonable to say look at PECOTA and say that Zaun/Quiroz or Zaun/Phillips is a better combo then Molina/Zaun. Baseball players are not perfectly valued by teams - but Molina turned down a 3 year/$24MM offer, Phillips signed as a minor league free agent and there is probably at least a 50/50 shot that Quiroz could clear waivers. Is PECOTA really that much smarter then every major league GM?



Glevin - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 01:37 PM EST (#140823) #
"Hillenbrand beats the following seven of those players in both categories/projection systems: C. Kotchman, S. Burroughs, B. Williams, A. Boone, B. Inge, T. Batista, J. Crede.*

Hillenbrand beats the following six players in one category/projection system, but not the other: D. Mientiewicz, J. Conine, M. Teahen, A. Beltre, C. Everett, E. Hinske.#"

This makes no sense to me. Kotchman was 22 last year and, albeit in limited time, had much better numbers than Hillenbrand wheras I would wager that Hillenbrand will be better than Teahan and Mientkiewicz (who has sucked in his 30 and 31 seasons). When making player comparisons, I strongly believe it is best to use stats which show objectively how good the players have been. Predictions, no matter how complicated are flawed. Pecota, last offseason claimed that the worst free agent signing was actually the best. Pecota LOVED the National's signing of 4 years and 17 million to Christian Guzman. Quite honestly, I don't think Pecota's predictions are worth anything more than the average informed fan's.


Leigh - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 01:44 PM EST (#140825) #
I think, NFH, that PECOTA is reasonable in terms of the order of productivity this season: Zaun, Molina, Phillips, Quiroz.

The other 'pillar of projection', ZIPS, has the order at: Molina, Phillips, Quiroz, Zaun.

One of my favourite projection methods is to use 3 years worth of BPV (courtesy of Ron Shandler), a formula that measures batting eye, power and (less so) contact. The formula is much more "forward looking" than something like runs created or win shares. That is, it focuses on skills moreso than results.

Just to give you an idea of the BPV scale, here are some Jays numbers from last season: Catalanotto 63.7, Hillenbrand 51.5, Hinske 45.6, Hudson 42.6, Hill 48.1, Adams 43.5, Johnson 39.9, Koskie 34.3, Rios 33.9, Wells 55.0. It is a rate offensive index, off course, so there is no accounting for defence or playing time.

I did the 2003, 2004 and 2005 numbers for the catchers in question and weighted them according to plate appearances. Then I weighted them on a 3-2-1 scale (3 weight for 2005, etc.). If I were doing something comprehensive, I would weigh them something like 3-2-1-1 with the final '1' being the league average... but for the purposes of comparing the three catchers, Zaun, Molina and Phillips, I didn't bother because it is the rank that we are concerned with, not the proportion. I used BP's translated stats instead of raw ones in order to account for park factor and schedule strength

At any rate, I get a score of 51.5 for Molina, 39.6 for Zaun and 28.5 for Phillips. Insufficient data on Quiroz.

I'd probably take Molina over Zaun right now, as two of the three methods suggest it. Also, as Mike Green points out very early in this thread, Molina has improved his patience and eye, which is reflected in the decent and improving BPV numbers (38.6 in 2004, 59.7 in 2005).
Glevin - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 01:46 PM EST (#140827) #
"How advanced do you feel PECOTA is, Leigh? I'll buy that it's the most advanced projection system that's publically available and that it's respectably accurate when you look at overall results (i.e. hundreds of player projections rather than individual players), but I don't think it's yet at the level where it could beat, say, Coach at fantasy baseball. Actually, that'd be a good idea for Prospectus if they're not already doing it - a baseball version of Kasparov versus Deep Blue"

In the book I just finished reading, in 2004, Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus (using Pecota one would assume) finished 7th in A.L tout wars right behind a guy who used instinct and a note-pad to draft and BP also finished 7th in the N.L. Last year, they finished 2nd in A.L. and 12th in N.L. An average finish of 7th hardly makes Pecota seem like a superior system for predicting. (I know fantasy baseball is not the same as real baseball, but the predicting factor is the same.)
Frank Markotich - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 02:07 PM EST (#140830) #
I'm not convinced that a weighted similarity score method (i.e. PECOTA)is especially valid for projection purposes. A couple of years ago, Nate Silver did an article comparing his PECOTA results to other projection systems, and it "won", but there was actually very little difference in any of the systems as far as accuracy was concerned. Silver used OPS as the measuring stick, which you may or may not agree with. I haven't seen any comparison results since; whether that's because Silver didn't get around to it or whether PECOTA didn't do so well, I don't know.

For established players, you can get just as good results by projecting a player to perform at his career norms, tweaking a bit for age and maybe a new park.

The true test of a projection system's value, in my opinion, is how it deals with players with little or no major league track record. I haven't seen any studies comparing performances of projection systems for this group.

Another test is projecting those candidates most likely to break out or fall off a cliff. Again, I haven't seen any work on this aspect in comparing projection models.

Lauding PECOTA as the best projection system because it is "sophisticated" is just an act of faith at this point.
Jim - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 02:21 PM EST (#140833) #
I think PECOTA's biggest use is for the rate stats. AVG/OBP/SLG I trust the results. The roto stats like HR, RBI and SB I completely ignore.

I know they leave the defense in to project WARP but they should scrap those translations until they develop a PBP defensive metric.

I did really like the article yesterday, I thought the whole concept of that was very interesting.

Leigh - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 02:22 PM EST (#140834) #
Lauding PECOTA as the best projection system because it is "sophisticated" is just an act of faith at this point.

I did say 'sophisticated', but I never said 'best'.

Wildrose - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 03:28 PM EST (#140840) #
I know they leave the defense in to project WARP but they should scrap those translations until they develop a PBP defensive metric.

Watch it Jimmy your going to have your head handed to you... we can't even agree how to measure/predict offence, let alone measure something as nebulous as defence. I agree by the way 100% as to your concerns regarding DFT'S.

Oleg - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 03:32 PM EST (#140841) #
"It's just not reasonable to say look at PECOTA and say that Zaun/Quiroz or Zaun/Phillips is a better combo then Molina/Zaun."

This is the second time now you've misrepresented what I said. I didn't argue that they were better, but that they were not far enough apart to justify spending 4.5 million on such a small upgrade. My point had to do with the utilization of resources.
Wildrose - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 03:47 PM EST (#140842) #
I don't necessarily disagree with the viewpoint that the Molina money should have been spent elsewhere ( i.e. as in right-field) But as in most things in life timing is everything. I think plan A was Giles, plan B, Wilkerson. These (and perhaps other gambits) never came to fruition, the team had $5 million bucks in its pocket,surprisingly saw a reasonable player out there in Molina at a thin position, with no R.F. options viable,decided to move in that direction. I can live with that, especially if money becomes available later in the season to address pressure points.
Named For Hank - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 03:50 PM EST (#140843) #
Okay, so Oleg, you buy that Quiroz is going to have an out-of-nowhere great season? Why?

I'm not trying to be argumentative, I really am just trying to get my head around all this. I don't buy that there's only a small difference in performance between Molina and either of Phillips/Quiroz, but I'm not basing that on statistical analysis. That's why I want someone who does buy it to explain it to me.

I think you also need to take into account that in Molina/Zaun, Molina is the starter with Zaun getting a couple of starts per week, where in both other scenarios Zaun is the starter -- will the lessened workload make for a better second half for Zaun?
VBF - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 05:14 PM EST (#140854) #
My point had to do with the utilization of resources.

Now with Paul Godfrey basically saying that if they're in contention they'll spend whatever they have to spend mid-season, does this opinion change?

Anders - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 06:47 PM EST (#140862) #
Gregg Zaun
A: Had a .655 OPS after the all-star break last year.

The common perception was that he was playing too much. Now, maybe I'm just crazy but, if signing Bengie Molina means that

A: He will not be worn out after the all-star break
B: We're not screwed if Zaun gets injured

then the horribleness of this whole thing is? Clearly, the resource allocation will not destroy the Blue Jays. Zaun should have a better year, and the Jays productivity in the catchers spot should improve quite a bit
Glevin - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 07:54 PM EST (#140871) #
"Gregg Zaun
A: Had a .655 OPS after the all-star break last year.

The common perception was that he was playing too much."

Either he was playing too much, or just declining. Either way, Molina helps.
Frank Markotich - Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 10:01 PM EST (#140879) #
I have this little tidbit for the Molina thread.

I attended an annual function for Blue Jay season ticket holders tonight. In a Q & A session, JP said that before the signing, three of the team's pitchers had called him and asked him to do everything he could to get Molina signed.
HaloBrad - Friday, February 10 2006 @ 01:24 AM EST (#140899) #
just a word from an avid Angels' fan: I have watched B Mo play day in and day out his whole career. Downside is that his style makes him vulnerable to injury. Upsides are that he calls a strong game, pitchers love him, runners fear him, and you can count on him driving in the big run repeatedly. Don't judge him by his numbers; in 40+ years watching this game, I have seen very few more clutch. Toronto fans will love him.
Mike Green - Friday, February 10 2006 @ 09:46 AM EST (#140908) #
It's a few months from Father's Day, but Molina pays the ultimate tribute to his Dad.

"He was there every day...he never hesitated to practise with us. He never complained. He sacrificed his whole life, all his free time with his friends ó all his beer time ó for us."

It brought a tear to my eye. Jobu, where are you? There is another episode of Too Many Molinas waiting to be shot.
Mike D - Friday, February 10 2006 @ 04:09 PM EST (#140931) #
And the benefit of proof is on me and not Nate Silver because......

Honestly, I couldn't agree more with Jim about this. Oleg, I side with Jim on this one because I think it's entirely legitimate for him to challenge you.

Your use of PECOTA as the sole predicate for your subsequent arguments is a major problem, I think. Let's imagine I stated an argument like this: "Because Switzerland will be the stiffest competition for the hockey gold medal in Torino, Canada should do the following..." You'd be entirely correct not to engage my arguments on my subsequent ideas for Team Canada. "Um, Switzerland?" should be the first thought that comes to mind.

If I were to run a simulation of the Olympic Hockey tournament and it came out that Switzerland won the gold medal (because, for instance, my program predicted that Aebischer or Gerber have excellent success against the skaters picked for the Olympics), that would be an "objective" result, but realistically a dubious and unlikely projection.

Let's face facts here -- Quiroz played sparingly and atrociously, while Molina played often and well. Phillips played about as much as Molina, but poorly. And defensively, despite a subpar year by Molina's standards, Bengie nearly tripled Phillips' defensive win shares. (Phillips played a little less behind the plate, but also played a few games at first). And as Jim pointed out, Phillips and Quiroz were both lousy in 2004, too.

I don't want to misrepresent your points, Oleg, but when you say that it's "such a small upgrade" from Q to Molina, or that Phillips' numbers are "close to" Molina's, it's not based on anything observable, or indeed anything that has actually happened. It's hard to evaluate your argument as to Bengie's salary when there is no data to support your underlying premise other than a weighted comparables projection system. Rob Neyer ain't exactly Scouty McFanboy, and he believes, as most do, that Molina is no less than a huge upgrade for the Jays. Zaun is only "clearly superior" if you ignore defence, ignore slugging and follow PECOTA blindly.

I'm not even talking about subjective evaluations, which are even more lopsidedly in Bengie's favour.
Mike D - Friday, February 10 2006 @ 04:13 PM EST (#140933) #
I should point out that I'm not picking on Oleg exclusively here. Baseball Prospectus cited PECOTA numbers that forecast major collapses by Adams and Hill, and then blithely referred to the "expected decline" of offensive production for the Jays' middle infield in '06. It's only "expected" because a projection system that is sometimes close and sometimes far off made rather unlikely collapse forecasts for both expected starters.
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