Saturday, December 16, 2006

Vernon Wells signs 7 year $126m contract

Yesterday, Vernon Wells signed a 7 year 126 million dollar deal with the Blue Jays:

The extension calls for a $25.5 million signing bonus, payable in three $8.5 million installments each March 1 in 2008, 2009 and 2010. He will receive a salary of just $500,000 in 2008 and $1.5 million in 2009, but his salary jumps to $12.5 million in 2010 and $23 million in 2011. Wells receives $21 million in each of the final three seasons.

In Net Present Value terms that works out to be worth about $83 million., or $10 million cheaper than the NPV of the Daisuke Matsuzaka deal for one more year.

Wells is a good player, according to PM-SLWTS, he was the 22nd best player in baseball last year, and third best centerfielder. Wells who will be 28 next year was far better with the bat last year 29 runs better than average, than he was in the previous two years. However, he was a heck of a hitter in 2003 as well when he was 31 runs better than average.

Going forward, Chone likes him, projecting him to hit .282/.340/.501 for a wOBA of .364 or about 20 runs better than average.

Seems like a very good move, as Wells is the face of the Jays franchise, and as the organization tries to rebuild and expand it's fan base this is the type of move they need to make. They can't allow young Star talent to walk away, and expect the fans to have an emotional attachment to the next guy at that level, if they just expect him to walk out that door as well.

I'll say this, I don't think JP Richardi is a very good GM - but he is very good at spending money. Brian Cashman would be proud.

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Red Sox add Relievers Donnelly and Romero

Yesterday, the Red Sox added a couple of additional arms to their bullpen trading for veteran Brenden Donnelly and signing JC Romero.

Romero, signed a 1 year deal for $1.5m, and Donnelly was acquired from the Angels for minor league veteran Phil Siebel. Siebel is actually a some what interesting arm. One year off of TJ surgery he locked very good in the minors, and his CHONE projections aren't bad. He is an interesting guy to have stashed, and with the Angels track record for finding arms out of no where he might end up as something. Donnelly is likely a better and safer bet though, for a team like the Red Sox who have major issues with their pen.

Here is the Red Sox projected bullpen and CHONE projections:

K Rate +BB Rate +HR Rate +Hit Rate +

Brendan Donnelly107%92%104%96%

JC Romero113%131%80%94%

Mike Timlin80%70%75%110%

Manny Delcarmen118%119%77%101%

Julian Taverez83%94%86%109%

Nick DebarrRule 5 - No Projection

Hideki OjajimaImport - No Projection

Devern Hansack97%93%101%105%

Craig Breslow113%108%80%96%

Craig Hansen98%126%77%103%

Now, pitcher projections aren't great, and the fact that these all of these pitchers are relievers, and all of them have limited MLB experience so they are being translated, makes the error bars even larger. But none the less that is an ugly set of projections, so it makes sense that the Sox are adding pitchers. Though I'm not sure if Romero is the right guy to add unless he is used strictly as a Looguy. Donnelly is a good addition to this pen, but it makes sense for the Angels to drop him for a guy with options who has some upside, since their pen is much better defined than the RedSox pen.

Geeknote: The pitcher stats listed are K+, BB+, HR+, Hit+, are projected stats based on Chone Smiths projection system called Chone and adjusted and expressed as a percent of league average. So you want K+ numbers above 100% and BB+, HR+, and Hit+ numbers below 100%. They are not park adjusted.

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Team Ages

Clay Davenport has a great article titled: Team and Organizational Ages on baseball prospectus today.

The methodology is sound, and the findings are:

Youngest Org to Oldest org. I'm cutting out the data, since it is a pay article.

Clay also posts the ages of the MLB teams. Personally I'd like to see it broken out so that we can also just see the aggregate minor league data.

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Rays sign Akinori Iwamura - 3 years $7.25m

Yesterday the Devil Rays came to terms with 27 year old Akinori Iwamura, a gold gloving winning thirdbase man who looks to be the Rays the starting starter for next season at the hot corner. The dollars are reasonable, and Iwamura projects according to CHONE to be around a league average thirdbaseman with the stick, which will be a nice addition to the Devil Rays.

In Japan, his typical line looks a lot like what Garret Atkins posted last season for Colorado - .300/.390/.550, translated to the American League in 2007 that looks something like: .270/.330/.430, which by itself isn't great but if the glove is good, and it's a position of need (which it is) then its a good pickup.

The only concern would be if this blocks Evan Longoria, at all. Longoria is a hard hitting thirdbaseman drafted out of Long Beach State who tore through the minors last year, and might be one of the 5-10 best hitting prospects in baseball. I'm not too concerned with this potential conflict as Longoria isn't likely going to be ready until opening day 2008, and because Iwamura has positional flexibility, since he can supposedly play passable secondbase and centerfield.


What are the odds?

Bodog has released early odds on who wins the world series. Without doing the math, my early thoughts are that anything better than 12-1 is a suckers bet. The Rangers, Indians, Twins, Marlins, Brewers and the NL West look attractive, though I need to think about the collective odds of the AL central.

Team Odds
New York Yankees 4/1
New York Mets 6/1
Boston Red Sox 8/1
Chicago White Sox 8/1
Los Angeles Angels 10/1
Detroit Tigers 10/1
St Louis Cardinals 10/1
Chicago Cubs 12/1
Los Angeles Dodgers 15/1
Oakland Athletics 15/1
Toronto Blue Jays 15/1
Philadelphia Phillies 15/1
Cleveland Indians 20/1
Minnesota Twins 20/1
San Diego Padres 22/1
Houston Astros 25/1
Florida Marlins 28/1
Atlanta Braves 30/1
Cincinnati Reds 33/1
Milwaukee Brewers 45/1
San Francisco Giants 50/1
Texas Rangers 50/1
Diamondbacks 60/1
Colorado Rockies 70/1
Seattle Mariners 70/1
Baltimore Orioles 80/1
Pittsburgh Pirates 80/1
Kansas City Royals 90/1
Devil Rays 100/1
Nationals 150/1


Thursday, December 14, 2006

More Matsuzaka

This article on fox sports puts the payout structure of the Matsuzaka deal at:

Matsuzaka gets a $2 million signing bonus, $6 million next year, $8 million in each of the following three seasons and $10 million in each of the final two years.

Using the good old HP12c calculator which has gotten me through many tough nights has puts the NPV at $92m.

More projections:
Dan Szymborski's ZiPS system checks him in at: 186 innings, 3.44 ERA.
Nate Silver's Pecota system checks him in at: 187 innings, and 4.01 ERA.
Chone Smiths's Chone systen checks him in at: 187 innings, 3.46 ERA.

Dan and Chone's projections are damn close. Even Nate has the innings the same, but the ERA is half a run higher. However, keep in mind Pecota is generally more conservative on pitchers AND he estimates Boston, in the AL, in 2007 is a pretty tough place to hit. For example - Nate also projected these star pitchers in Fenway, in the AL in 2007 and came up with these ERA's:

Chris Carpenter, 3.95
Carlos Zambrano, 4.08
Roy Oswalt, 4.20
Barry Zito, 4.96

Also, former major league 3b Mike Pagliarulo, who runs a scouting service specifically dealing with Far East talent said this in a Boston Globe article today:

"In the end the Red Sox have given Matsuzaka a very fair contract," Pagliarulo said. "The Red Sox probably could have saved themselves some money, but I think their offer was a fair gesture of good will given the quality of the player.

"And that's not to disrespect Scott Boras because I respect what he's done for players so much. It's not that Mr. Boras had no leverage. He had the leverage of having a very good player and talent that the Red Sox really wanted to sign. I wasn't privy to any of the negotiations so I don't know what took place. But in the end I think common sense prevailed based on what's in place for a posted player."

Pagliarulo has watched Matsuzaka closely the past few years. "I only scouted him when the proper matchups were in place," he said. "If you're scouting him haphazardly against any hitter or team, you're wasting your time. I wanted to see how he reacted against top hitters and I analyzed his strikes in the strike zone. The thing about him is he wants the baseball. He wants to pitch in the biggest stage and in the biggest game.

"If you beat him, he's not fazed by that. He comes right back at the next hitter. He's a winner. He's tough kid on the mound and I think that should translate very well to the majors."

But will he struggle at first?

"He's a rookie," Pagliarulo said. "He's going to go through his growth spurts. But this is a kid who adjusts very quickly. The major leagues is different than the Japanese leagues, but he has command of his pitches and that should get hitters out anywhere."

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Trade: Jose Vidro for Chris Snelling and Emiliano Fruto

Last night a head scratchier of a trade was made as the Nationals sent 32 year old, and $8m dollar second baseman to the Mariners for 23 year old pitcher Emiliano Fruto and 25 year old Man of Glass Chris Snelling. The reason this is a head scratchier is taking Vidro away from the Nationals leaves them zero secondbasemen, and now gives the Mariners a second player at the Key Stone to add to Jose Lopez.

Sticking with that theme for a moment, I would guess that means that Vidro will DH or play 1b and Richie Sexson will find himself on a bus out of town. From the Nationals perspective I'd guess this means they are handing the SS reigns over to free agent bust Christian Guzman and with Felipe Lopez shifting over to 2b.

Fruto has a great arm, and could contribute as a reliever or a starter He has the pitches to either and can generate enough swings and misses to be a first class reliever, or middle rotation starter, of course he needs to gain command of the strike zone for that to happen.

Snelling is a very talented AAAA outfielder, who for 3 years now has been on the cusp of being a a major league regular. Unfortunately injuries have side tracked him.

A lot of the Internet is screaming about how bad a trade this is from Seattle perspective, but before I do that I want to see where the chips land. It isn't unreasonable for Vidro to hit more as a DH than as a 2b and it, with Snellings recurring injury woos it wouldn't shock me if he just turns into a left handed version of Jason Werth. This deal could also make the Nationals are shedding 8m dollars and a 2b who can't field, unless the reinvest the money and find a middle infielder to pair to Lopez this deal could conceivably hurt them as well. I'll stick by my label head scratchier.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Matsuzaka: Done Deal

Jon Heyman from is reporting that the Daisuke Matsuzaka negotiations are complete, and he will pitch for the Boston Redsox next six seasons for $52m, which brings the total cost to the RedSox for 6 years equal to $103m.

What does $103m dollars buy you? According to Chone - the 4th best starting pitcher in baseball for next year:

Pitcher Team IP* H* HR* BB* SO* ERA RSAA

Santana,Johan MIN 212 166 23 42 233 2.76 42.94

Carpenter,Chris SLN 204 187 20 43 168 3.26 29.99

Peavy,Jake SDN 196 168 21 57 219 3.35 26.85

Matsuzaka, Daisuke BOS 187 177 15 52 171 3.46 23.34

Zambrano,Carlos CHN 205 173 21 87 196 3.6 22.39

Sheets,Ben MIL 158 143 17 29 167 3.31 22.35

Clemens,Roger FREE 172 157 14 54 134 3.46 21.46

Oswalt,Roy HOU 210 214 20 43 163 3.68 21.07

Webb,Brandon ARI 210 204 19 61 158 3.69 20.84

Smoltz,John ATL 191 185 19 46 153 3.62 20.44

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Jason Jennings to Houston

The Rockies very well may have just made the best trade in the history of their franchise. They just sent Jason Jennings to the Houston Astros for Jason Hirsh, Taylor Buchholz and Wily Taverez.

Jennings, who will be 28 years old heading into next season was a wonderful pitcher for the Rockies last year and has 1 year remaining on his contract which is set to pay him $5.5m next season. Jennings pitched 212 innings last year and prevented 23 runs more runs than the a league average pitcher, and was very likely one of the top 20 or so starters in Major League Baseball last season. Jennings, a fly ball pitcher may struggle as the outfield defense of the Astros is likely to be especially porous and may also find life more difficult with out aid of a humidor.

Last year, was Jennings break out year and previously I would categorize him as an ok number #3 starter or very solid number #4 pitcher. A good innings eater, whose run prevention skill hovers around league average. So the question, is how much of Jennings improvement is sustainable? His Chone projection does think much of it is:

Player K+ BB+ HR+ Hits +

Jennings 86% 106% 77% 108%

He is projected as a middle rotation starter, though the upside for top of the rotation results is definitely present. Considering the current state of the Astros rotation after the defection of Andy Pettite to the Yankees and the unknown status of Roger Clemens, Jennings looks like a solid pick up. Oswalt, Jennings, Williams and Nieve are pretty strong foursome heading into the season.

Now, what did the Atros give up for Jennings? A lot. The Wily Taverez will likely take over as Colorado's starting centerfielder, though nothing special Taverez is a solid defender and a brilliant base runner both in terms of running the bases and stealing bases. With Chris Burke likely ready to man down centerfield for a year as he waits for second base to open up and Hunter Pence to finish developing. The loss of Taverez is not a concern. I also wouldn't lose sleep over including Taylor Buchholz in the deal who while a nice young pitcher is a tremendous injury risk whose stuff is far from overwhelming, even when healthy.

Now, to the potatoes. Jason Hirsh, an outstanding pitching prospect in my estimation one of the top 10 pitching prospects in baseball. A commanding mound presence, with three good pitches including a heavy 91-93 mph fastball that top outs at 96, that is coupled with a solid slider and change. The only concern with Hirsh is if one of his 3 pitches has enough life to generate swings and misses at the MLB level. The Chone projections certainly thinks so:

PlayerK+BB+HR+Hits +


Heck, that projection is significantly better than Jennings, though his downside is considerably more as he hasn't had the success that Jennings had this year.

In conclusion, I think the trade completely hinges on two things:

From the Rockies perspective: How well Hirsh's stuff translates to the majors. If it translates as well as a typical pitcher then, this is a great move for them.

From the Astros perspective: If they can lock up the 28 year old Jennings to a long term contract, at or below the market rate. As the NL central looks winnable it makes sense for the Astros to be resistant to going into the season with 3 young pitchers in the rotation. As it stands now, they look like a much better bet.

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Last night the following players were not tendered contracts:

American League
Angels: Jason Bulger, RHP.
A's: Jerome Williams, RHP.
Mariners: Joel Pineiro, RHP.
Orioles: David Newhan, OF; Aaron Rakers, RHP; Todd Williams, RHP.
Rangers: Mike Wood, RHP.
Rays: Damon Hollins, OF.
Royals: Scott Dohmann, RHP; Brandon Duckworth,
RHP. Tigers: Alexis Gomez,
OF. Twins: Luis Rodriguez, INF; Willie Eyre, RHP.
White Sox: Eduardo Sierra,
RHP. Yankees: Aaron Guiel, OF.

National League
Braves: Marcus Giles, 2B; Chris Reitsma, RHP.
Cardinals: Rick Ankiel, OF; Jorge Sosa, RHP.
Cubs: Jose Reyes, C; Adam Harben, RHP.
Dodgers: Toby Hall, C; Jayson Werth,
OF. Mets: Victor Zambrano, RHP.
Padres: Jon Knott, OF.
Reds: Brandon Claussen, LHP; Miguel Perez, C.
Rockies: Chin-hui Tsao, RHP

While Marcus Giles is the name that jumps out on the list, and really the only player to have a good chance of being a major contributor, there are a couple of interesting relievers who weren't tendered contract offers.

The other position players, are guys who top out as role players. Luis Rodriguez is a reasonable utility infielder, Knott and Hollins reasonable 5th outfielders and pinch hitters with a bit of pop. Werth an injury risk, but good week side platoon mate with upside.

Here are some thoughts on some relief pitchers some of whom are not not well known, but may end up having some value where ever they land.

Geeknote: The pitcher stats listed are K+, BB+, HR+, Hit+, are projected stats based on Chone Smiths projection system called Chone and adjusted and expressed as a percent of league average. So you want K+ numbers above 100% and BB+, HR+, and Hit+ numbers below 100%. They are not park adjusted.

Jason Bulger: Minor league, vet and little used reliever projects to be pretty solid if given regular work. Should have a good K rate, and keeps the ball in the yard, and does a good job of missing bats. Suffers some from control problems, but would be a solid 4-6 reliever in most pens, with some upside.

PlayerK+BB+HR+Hits +


Scott Dohmann: Live arm that with great strikeout track record that has not yet been able to harness his stuff, the odds aren't high but if he could get a handle on the strike zone he could end up a good end game arm. He projects to strong K rates, but a walk rate 25% worse than average.

PlayerK+BB+HR+Hits +


Chris Reitsima: Despite a brutal year last year, this guy still projects to be a pretty good reliever. He commands the strike zone, and keeps the ball in the park. He doesn't miss bat, but would be a pretty good middle reliever in the right circumstance.

PlayerK+BB+HR+Hits +


On the starting pitching side of the ledger, none of the starters who were non tendered have remotely interesting projections, though a few have interesting stuff and or performance histories specificly Claussen, Pinerio, and Williams. Williams and Claussen are failed prospects, and Pinerio is an enigma who looked very promising a handful of years ago, but whose performance has gone into the dumper.

All in all, not much of a crop this year.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Eric Gagne to the Rangers

Ken Rosenthal is reporting that Eric Gagne has signed a $5m dollar deal, plus incentives to pitch for the Texas Rangers in 2007.

Gagne, is a top tier short reliever when healthy, however, he hasn't been healthy in 2 years - throwing only 15 innings combined between 2005 & 2006.

From 2002-2004 Gagne was brilliant with a highly levered 32, 45, and 28 RAA. Assuming no residual trades Gagne will join Akinori Otsuka, as twin stoppers for Rangers pen filled out with:
Rick Bauer
Ron Mahey
Wes Littleton
CJ Wilson

While not the best pen in the league, certainly the makings of a solid to better pen, assuming Eric can stay off the DL.

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The Power of Dingers in the post season...

David Gasko at the Hardball times in his recent article Lineup Balance made the following comment in the conclusion section of the article:

Teams that are reliant on home runs actually do a little better in the regular season, and a lot better in the postseason. Thus, it is always a good thing to be reliant on home runs, given a choice between two equal offenses.

Meaning, that in the regular season your team will out perform your expected runs scored when a higher percentage of your offense comes from home runs.

I'll have to do some original research to confirm it, however, I believe it to be true as Mike Emeigh has made a similar claimed for a number of years on BBTF. The more your take and read Mike, the more your learn to believe what he is telling you. His theory is that in the playoffs you want more short sequence offense, rather than long sequence offense.

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