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Posts posted by Frobby

  1. You have a luxury that the Baltimore Orioles most certainly don't.

    So the Rangers can pay $10 mm a year for Vicente Padilla and the Orioles can't afford $4.75 mm for Trachsel?

    I'm far from blind to Trachsel's faults, his age, and the statistics you cite that indicate he could fall off the end of the earth. But I also have a hard time ignoring the fact that this guy is (probably) about to complete yet another season with a sub-5.00 ERA -- for the 13th time in 15 major league seasons and the 8th season in a row. He's going to pitch enough innings to qualify for the 11th time in the last 12 seasons. If he was 32 and had good peripherals, he'd be making Padilla/Meche/Lilly money for that. The $4.75 mm is a salary that takes into account all of the risks you mentioned.

    I'm not yet advocating that the Orioles should exercise the option. First, there is a month to play, let's see how he's looked after 162 games have been played. If he's really been as lucky as you think, maybe he'll get bombed in his 6 remaining starts.

    Second, it depends on the overall plan for next year. If we are in rebuilding mode, and aren't even trying to compete, then go ahead and let Olson and Penn take their lumps with no safety net other than a bunch of other unproven pitchers. That's not a bad strategy in the right circumstances.

  2. As ugly as Trachsel's peripherals have been this year, the records of players like him in year X+1 are downright hideous.

    Here's everyone in the expansion era over 35, with 140+ IP, < 3.5 K/9, and > 3.5 BB/9:

    1961-2006AGE >= 35INNINGS PITCHED >= 140STRIKEOUTS/9 IP <= 3.5WALKS/9 IP >= 3.5RSAA                          YEAR    RSAA      IP     SO/9 IP   BB/9 IP   1    Phil Niekro              1986       -4    210.1     3.47     4.06   2    Claude Osteen            1975      -10    204       2.78     4.06   3    Bob Knepper              1989      -30    165       3.49     4.09   

    Their ERAs the next year were 6.30, out of majors, and 5.68 (in 44 innings). They were all retired before year X+2.

    If you lower the innings threshold to 100 you get Mike Cuellar's last year in Baltimore. The next season he pitched three innings, allowed seven runs, and retired. You also get Bob Forsch in '89, and he retired immediately after the year. And you get Wilbur Wood in 1977. In '78 he actually pitched 168 innings, but to a 5.20 ERA in a league with a 3.68.

    What Trachsel is doing right now is at the very edge of what's possible. Continuing that next year would be historically unique. If they pick up his option I'll be bitterly disappointed.

    Isn't this just a variation of what you said (1) before this season started based on last year's numbers, and (2) back in May when Trachsel had a good start? Yet here he is, with the ERA of a no. 3 starter.

    I wouldn't go in to 2008 with a plan that gives me 5 viable starting pitcher opitions, one of whom is Trachsel. But if he's one of about 7-8 options, that's fine. Make Penn and Olson prove they are worthy. Make Loewen prove he's healthy and not too rusty. Make Cabrera prove he can take a step forward instead of running in place.

  3. And the Orioles apparently won't take a random AA arm for him. Oh well, maybe he'll net us a compensation pick if he signs elsewhere.

    I think the Orioles are justified if they decide to exercise the $4.75 mm option they have on Trachsel. He has been good a lot more often than he has been bad this year. We don't know what to expect from most of our young guys, and we need a viable alternative of one or more of them isn't ready to step up, or gets hurt. Trachsel gets no respect, and you can make all the K/BB, xFIP, DIPS and age arguments you want, but he has done a good job this year and has been a consistent performer for a very long time.

  4. This is one of the best, if not the best group, of prospects that the Orioles have ever sent. All of these players are still prospects. In years past, we have sent scrubs.

    Of course, Reimold and Fiorentino both played in the AFL last year, putting up numbers that initially were great but they both faded as the AFL season progressed. As repeaters I'd be deeply disappointed if they were not among the league leaders this time around.

    I'm especially glad Penn and Johnson will be there.

  5. No, I'm saying that I think that is our best chance at competing over the next three years.

    With only one good FA signing in CF to replace Patterson (say Rowand), re-sign Millar, promote Reimold, use House as back up catcher as our only moves this offseason.

    I would put the chances of us winning the division next year at less than 5%.

    I would put the chances of us winning the wild card next year at less than 20%.

    I would put the chances of us competing for the wild card and having a shot in mid-September at about 45%.

    If we sign another good offensive player, good reliever, and get good value for Tejada, I think our chances are significantly better. I think our chances get significantly better in 2009 regardless of what else happens since our young guys should be nearing maturity. We should have pretty darn good pitching in 2009 unless things go horribly awry.

    The Orioles' option on Millar becomes a vested option after 475 PA's. He's sitting on 436 right now, so that option is going to vest.

    I think your odds are very optimistic. The team has underperformed, but at best it is a .500 as currently constructed. The additions you mentioned wouldn't get it to 90 wins absent having just about everything go right.

  6. I'm going to be honest -- I don't know what this team should do. They need to rebuild, but frankly, they aren't in a very good position to do so. They only have 3-4 players who can bring back quality prospects, and even if all those guys are traded, the prospects we receive, plus the ones in the pipeline, won't be enough to form a championship level team in a few years. The free agent market seems to get thinner and thinner the last 3-4 years, with people bidding up mediocre players to astronomical levels and very few franchise-changers on the market.

    I really feel we may be damned if we do and damned if we don't.

  7. One problem with this analysis of Tejada's defense is the assumption that a good shortstop would have made all the plays Tejada makes in addition to the ones he screws up.

    There are 11 qualifying shortstops who have a lower fielding percentage than Tejada. Derek Jeter is one of them. So is Jason Bartlett, Julio Lugo, Yuniesky Betancourt, and Carlos Guillen, and all six of those players are on contenders.

    How is it that there are at least six shortstops on serious contenders who make errors at a higher rate than The Most Awful Shortstop in the History of Baseball?

    What I was talking about specifically was Tejada's defense since returning frm the DL, not his defense overall. The numbers don't lie here:

    6 errors in 69 games pre-DL

    5 errors in 24 games post-DL

    ZR has dropped from .862 on 7/31 to .845 now.

    BP's Rate/Rate2 has gone from 99/100 on July 31 to 92/92 now.

    No matter how you slice it he has played bad defense this month.

  8. Tejada's errors have come mostly on routine plays that he has just f'ed up on..Plays that he(and every other SS) makes 98 times out of 100.

    I think his play on defense has been the same and maybe even better since he came back.

    He has made a lot of really nice plays and has shown better range IMO.

    I can think of 3 plays, in addition to his five errors, that he hasn't made since his return that a good SS would have made. And that's only in the games I've seen or listened to. I was on vacation for a week and missed a bunch of other games.

    Even going back, in April he made 5 errors and then he went about 6 weeks without an error and showing very good range, up to his injury. I don't know why he's so streaky as a defender.

  9. The last few weeks have been pretty extreme. Tejada had 6 errors in 2.5 months when he got hurt, 5 errors in the month since he returned. He had 7 homers when he got hurt, 7 HR's since he got back. He's really framing the argument. I've always defended his defense, but it has not been good at all since his return. Meanwhile, he's been knocking in a run per game, including a lot of clutch hits.

    Bottom line is that I wouldn't want a shortstop who makes 5 errors per month no matter how well he hit. But Tejada doesn't average 5 errors a month. His defense has been oddly inconsistent and its perplexing.

  10. Right. Thanks for confusing my Otherwise-Excellent-And-Perhaps-Instructive-Example with actual facts ;-)

    Your overall point is still pretty good. Sorry if I distracted from it. Certainly the OF in general (rather than one specific spot) has been a trouble area for a long time.

  11. The O's haven't had a very good LF for, well, jeez... how long? For the sake of argument, let's just pick a number like, say, "10 years".

    Actually, if you go back before 2005 the situation wasn't that bad. In 2004, the combination of Newhan, Bigbie, Surhoff and others produced a .788 OPS in LF. In 2004 we had Mora and Bigbie splitting LF and they (with Surhoff and others) produced an .862 OPS.

    Frankly, in that time period a lot of us were thinking Bigbie could hold down that spot for a while. He was only 26 at the end of the 2004 season and had put up OPS of .821 and .768 in those two seasons, both times playing especially well in the second half. It was only in 2005 that LF became a disaster area.

  12. You can criticize me if you want.

    But don't lie and that's what you did.

    Boys, boys, boys.....

    Look, SG, vatech already backed off his initial statement that you "never" give the front offcie any credit, even though I wouldn't call it a "lie," just a bit hyerbolic. The truth is, the question of whether (and ot what extent) our front office has done a bad job, or whether it is competent, is a matter of opinion, not fact. vatech holds the opinion that, even though the front office hasn't done a great job overall, they still know a lot more about certain things than the rest of us do, and are in a better position to judge those things. You hold the opinion (or at least it seems you do) that the front office has done such a bad job for such a long time that their judgment can't be trusted on virtually any issue. That's all this debate is about.

    On this particular issue, I'm with vatech. We've never seen House behind the plate, whereas the front office sees him in person and gets daily reports from their farm teams. If they have decided that House simply cannot serve as a major league catcher no matter how well he hits, my guess is they are probably right. It's not like the other teams he played for didn't know he could hit, and yet they never gave him a serious look at backup catcher, either.

    At the same time, there has been room for House as a DH/corner IF/emergency C from day one, even if he is Matt LeCroix II behind the plate.

  13. Let me just weigh in here, as I've missed this whole debate.

    I think the issue here is longevity and risk. Erik Bedard is having a season that Carlos Zambrano probably will never match. But Zambrano is working on his 5th straight 200 IP, sub-4.00 ERA season, and he is two years younger than Bedard. He's much larger and goes deeper in games. If I had to place bets on who is better from 2008-2012, my bet is on Zambrano. Not by much, but by enough to make the choice clear.

  14. That's what a lot of us have been saying for a long time. This is a 75-ish win team, with Paul Bako filling the role of backup catcher. Absolute worst case JR House catches a dozen games, allows 25 steals, they lose a few of those games they might not have with Bako, probably win a few with his bat they wouldn't have, and you figure out you probably want a different #2 catcher for '08. No real harm, and you have actual, real major league games for JR House to base opinions on.

    That's all I've been asking of the Orioles for years - take these guys who're playing well in the minors and give them a chance. Every year August and September is junk time for the O's, playing out the string with any number of players who clearly won't be around the next time the O's crack .500. It won't hurt a thing to let the Houses and Knotts try.

    I think House will get his AB, it's just a matter of whether he's used at backup C or at DH. Gibbons' injury opens an opportunity for him even if he never dons the mask.

  15. This is something we have a very good idea about. Here's the 2007 Run Expectancy Matrix:
    #	YEAR	RUNNERS	EXP_R_OUTS_0	EXP_R_OUTS_1	EXP_R_OUTS_21.	2007	000	0.52681	0.28144	0.109052.	2007	003	1.39815	0.98806	0.393313.	2007	020	1.16461	0.71666	0.35354.	2007	023	2.13081	1.44391	0.627295.	2007	100	0.91272	0.53155	0.23436.	2007	103	1.80339	1.20412	0.507587.	2007	120	1.48621	0.88028	0.465378.	2007	123	2.31803	1.57854	0.79511

    From this you can figure out the average value of a stolen base, based on real 2007 major league data. For the purposes of this exercise let's assume the runner is stealing 2nd base (it looks like the value of stealing third is pretty similar anyway, and I really don't want to get into all the permutations of stealing with other runners on). With no one out the difference between a runner on 1st and a runner on 2nd is about 0.25 runs. With one out that's 0.18 runs. With two outs that's 0.12 runs. So on average that's about 0.18 runs/game.

    On the offensive side of things BP has a stat called marginal lineup value. It measures the difference between the player in question and an average player, in runs per game played. As of today Paul Bako's value is -0.213. This means a team that scores 5.00 runs per game would score about 4.8 per game substituting Bako for their average-hitting catcher. Ramon Hernandez is sitting at 0.005, meaning in 2007 he's been almost exactly an average-hitting catcher. Hernandez, as we all know, is not having a particularly good year, putting up a .696 OPS. But even at that, his offense more than makes up for the estimated number of runs you'd lose by allowing an extra stolen base every game.

    My assumption is that JR House would OPS .696 pretty easily. His career minor league OPS is .870, while Hernandez' was .837 (although that's not apples-to-apples since Hernandez has been in the majors since he was 24). House's 2007 weighted mean PECOTA is for a .765, which seems to match up fairly well with his .828 in an extreme pitcher's park in Norfolk.

    Thank you. This is the type of analysis I find very helpful. As I posted earlier in the thread, there is a lot more to playing catcher than preventing SB's, but at least we now have some idea of what preventing SB's is worth.

  16. Honestly, I'd take that trade off compared to Bako's pathetic offense. I feel like some people (not saying you Frobby) have no idea just how bad he is.. The man has 7 RBIs. 7. That's 1 RBI every 20 ABs. He has an OPS of 566. I'm pretty sure my 4th grade niece could come close to that. And, with RISP, he's even worse. How does a 391 OPS with RISP sound? And yes, that's OPS...not OBP. This has to be one of the worst offensive seasons I have ever watched. And, if all I have to give up is 1 extra SB and a pass ball now and then to replace this pathetic excuse for a hitter with a potentially solid hitter...sign me up.

    Well, this is what I am asking. I really want to know, from our sabermetricians, how bad do they think defense has to be to make up for 100-200 points of OPS. Can we have some metrics here?

  17. There are people who have no connection to major league baseball who know more than folks who've been employeed by MLB for 30 years. For a very long time, continuing into today, baseball has been run as a old boy's network that actively discouraged innovative thinking. It's taken 30 years for a lot of people to get on board with OPS as a beter metric than batting average - and that's far from universal.

    You'll lose a lot of bets assuming all old baseball guys, and all employees of the Baltimore Orioles, are smarter than everyone who doesn't draw a paycheck from MLB.

    This is probably a true statement, but I feel you fall back on this far too often. All the available evidence -- statistical, anecdotal, and inferential -- is that House would be a very poor defensive catcher by major league standards. And I will agree with you that the statistical evidence also shows that House would be a very good hitter for a back-up catcher, certainly way better than Paul Bako. So it basically becomes a defense vs. offense trade-off. How you weigh that trade-off depends on a lot of things, but mostly, how bad will his defense be and how good will his offense be.

    Can we start with this question: assume House would allow one extra SB per game. What is that worth? Then we can go from there.

  18. Great post, TommyD. It is so easy to pile on Bako, or to say that our front office must be blind to prefer Bako to House. But these guys can read a stat sheet just like we can, and they have a lot of input we don't have.

    I'm glad House is up here and I hope he gets a lot of AB in the next 6 weeks, but the Bako-trashing is overblown.

  19. True. But, I think it still hints that House as a backup C would not be some irreversible disaster destroying our team from within until Bako jumps on board to save the day.

    While I am inclined to agree with you, there are so many different facets of a catcher's defensive responsibilities, and I know so little about them, that I'm always a bit reluctant to assume that you can just look at passed balls, errors and stolen bases/caught stealing and know everything there is to know on this subject. Consider the following:

    MLB.com: This clubhouse seems a lot looser these days. Why is that?

    Millar: I think it's just the whole mix of guys they've got here, and I think it's the great job that Jim Duquette and Mike Flanagan did in the offseason as far as changing nine or 10 players.

    Paul Bako's a huge reason -- they brought in a guy who's a leader as a backup catcher and who has a good feel for how to handle a clubhouse.



    "Bako took charge of the game," Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said. "He took a couple trips to the mound because he wanted certain pitches and Trachsel was shaking him off. He told Trachsel, 'Trust me I know what I'm doing here,' and I think Trachsel put the game in Bako's hands."

    At the start of the game, it looked like it was going to be a long afternoon for Baltimore's starter. Trachsel surrendered three runs on five hits over the first two frames of the game, which set the table for a potential Jays blowout. But when Trachsel came out to start the third inning, he looked like a different pitcher. After a couple of visits to the mound by Bako, Trachsel found a groove and began to regain control of all his pitches.

    "He wasn't sharp early," Bako said. "He was up with everything and wasn't finishing his pitches. He made a nice adjustment and worked down. That was the only thing I asked him to do -- work down with all his pitches -- and when you do that, good things happen."

    It's not unusual for a veteran catcher like Bako to take control of one of his pitchers' outings. The 10-year veteran says that's the type of working relationship he's tried to build with the entire staff.

    "I take a lot of pride in that," Bako said. "Hopefully by now, a lot of the guys do trust what I'm trying to do back there, and I think Trachsey did that a little bit today. Instead of just throwing the pitches I was calling, he started making those actual pitches."


    Now, is all that back-up catcher "veteranosity" and "clubhouse leadership" actually worth something in the W/L record? Beats the heck out of me. But I think it's dangerous to be completely dismissive of it, when so many GM's, managers and players seem to put stock in it.

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