There's a vast conspiracy underfoot and you're not even aware of it. The world is large and the universe even larger, so it was awfully self-important of us to think that we were the only sentient creatures in this galaxy. So open your eyes sheeple, because the threat is already here. Our baseball fields are being overrun by the grey creatures from the skies and and our government is already complicit in the colonization of earth.
This weekend, Frank Thomas said that he was unaware of all the steroid use going on during his career because, and I quote, it was "a secret society. I had no idea. I think I was the one guy that when they were having that conversation they would stop quickly when I walked in the room."
History is important. It teaches us critical things like who won the Civil War and why it's a bad idea to drive around on a flat tire and how to get fired as a manager of the Yankees.
Today, we'll simply log the player for each team with the longest tenure with that franchise -- who is currently under contract with that team. It's a relatively simple exercise, but maybe we'll find something interesting here. Or maybe not. Look, no one's got a gun to your head.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Howie Kendrick (debuted April 26, 2006)
Howie Kendrick is one of three players currently on the Angels who debuted in 2006, including Erick Aybar and Jered Weaver. That's not too bad of a haul, and kind of similar to the situation at the other L.A. team.
Houston Astros: Wesley Wright (debuted March 31, 2008)
Of course it's Wesley Wright. Wait, what?!
Oakland Athletics: Daric Barton (debuted September 10, 2007)
Barton, who has done everything possible to lose the first base job in Oakland, also almost lost this title to Jerry Blevins. Hey, sometimes you just get Blevins'd.no comments
With less than 22 days before Spring Training officially starts, a few high-profile free agents still haven't signed with major league teams. Players like Kyle Lohse, Shaun Marcum, and Joe Saunders* are still looking for contracts, probably at least in part due to the new rules about draft pick compensation. But the best player available is still probably former Phillies / Astros / Braves center fielder Michael Bourn.
[ * Note -- I guess Joe Saunders counts, but I don't like it.]
Bourn had a tremendous season in 2012, posting a .274/.348/.391 slash line, good for a 104 wRC+. And while the hitting line isn't world-beating, the defense and running ability is. According to UZR, Bourn was worth 22.4 runs above replacement as a fielder, more than two wins just with the glove. And beyond that, his preternatural speed allowed him to rack up 6.6 runs above average as well. The total package, then, appears to be worth 6.4 wins above replacement, which was good enough to make him the 13th most-valuable position player in baseball via this metric.
So how does Bourn not have a job right now? Well, the short answer is probably that he possesses a skill set that may be undervalued, but signing Bourn will probably cost a signing team a first-round draft pick in the upcoming Rule 4 Draft. In addition, teams might be wary that his fielding and defense might not really make him as valuable as advanced stats / WAR values might reflect. Single-season defensive numbers can be a little sketchy in terms of true talent level. While there's no real question that Bourn is a good defensive outfielder, perhaps teams don't think his defense *really* adds two wins, or that his speed is worth more than half a win.
So, today Michael Bourn is unemployed. There's literally thirty possibilities as for the major league team that he ends up on next season. For whatever it is worth, here are the five most interesting fits I could see for Michael Bourn. Keep in mind that this is pure speculation, and not based on any discussions with any front office sources. Primarily because I currently do not have any front office sources.
Writer on The Platoon Advantage, conscientious citizen, and (more importantly) our friend Michael Clair has a bit of a big thing going on this weekend, as he does his second annual Blogathon on his own site, Old Time Family Baseball.
Mike’s going to be posting up there every half hour on Saturday with fresh (not pre-written) content. I have no idea how he’s going to do that. God knows I have enough trouble writing 3-4 pieces a week, but God love ‘im, I have faith in Michael Clair’s ability to do 48 in one day. Like any great athlete, I hope he stays well hydrated and paces himself. Then, while he presumably rests on Sunday, he’s got a number of guest bloggers lined up to provide content, including all the other TPA contributors (me, Bill, Cee, me, Jason, Bryan, me, David, and me) and many, many other (probably better) writers.
But Michael’s not just doing this for his health, he’s raising money for Doctors Without Borders, the excellent non-profit that sends clinicians and other medical professionals to some of the most desperate regions in the world, where medical help is otherwise in essentially no supply.
So please, visit his site this weekend, donate to Doctors Without Borders (which, by the way, will enter you into a raffle for all kinds of cool prizes), read a bunch of cool stuff written by Mike and his friends, and lend your support to the Kenyan long-distance runner of baseball blogging.
Good luck, Michael!no comments
With spring training still a month away, and nothing to occupy my time otherwise (what am I going to do? Go to sleep? Read a book? Exercise? I think not), I decided to spend my time searching through FanGraphs pitching stats. A few of the nuggets I came across:
- According to FanGraphs' Zone%, RA Dickey threw the second highest percentage of pitches in the strike zone last year, coming in behind only Cliff Lee. RA Dickey is a knuckleballer. This is crazy bones.
- Since 2011, among pitchers with at least 240 innings, Blake Beaven actually has the lowest BB/9 rate with 1.41. This is .01 lower than Cliff Lee. Of course, Beaven also has the lowest K/9 ratio in baseball in that time, so it's kind of necessary for him.
- Henderson Alvarez had the second highest HR/FB percentage in baseball last season despite the fourth best GB%. One of those should give next year. Should Miami's park play similarly to last year, that should help. Marlins Park ranked 26th in home run factors, Rogers Centre was 15th.
- Clayton Kershaw's fastball was 26.2 runs above average, nearly doubling the value of Justin Verlander's 13.8 mark. Kershaw's fastball value has topped 20 in three of the last four years.
- Justin Verlander lead the league in pitches last season with 3,768. It's the third time he's lead the league in pitches thrown since 2009 and he nearly captured the 2010 crown when Dan Haren threw three, count 'em, three more pitches.
- Jeff Karstens' pitch face. This has nothing to do with anything. I just think it's amazing.
- While there is no UZR for pitchers, Mark Buehrle lead the league in Defensive Runs Saved with 12. He was fourth in 2011 and first again in 2010 and 2009. He may be one of the rare men whose gold gloves actually match up with performance.
- Think Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera's infield defense didn't impact the Tigers? Why not ask Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello who posted the two highest BABIPs in 2012. Meanwhile, Jered Weaver and Ervin Santana posted the two lowest ones in the sport, though Santana was surely aided by giving up a home run on nearly a fifth of his flyballs allowed.
- In 171 innings between 2010-2011, Jonny Venters allowed three home runs. In 58 innings in 2012, he allowed six. Relievers are weird, is all.
- Livan Hernandez's ERA matched his K/9 at 6.42. Oddly enough, it was Hernandez's highest K/9 since 2004 when he was a member of a team that no longer exists, the Expos.
- Daniel McCutchen was the only pitcher to appear in a game last season and not record a single out. His line on the year: 0-1, infinity, 1 H, 1 BB, 0 SO, 1 HR, 2 ER. I'd imagine he'll skip checking out his baseball card next season.
We all love talking about the big deals that take place during the offseason. In fact, I'd argue that Hot Stove Season is much more fulfilling for fans of certain (read: bad) teams than the actual season itself, sometimes. Nevertheless, there are always a few transactions that are less important than others, or that fall through the cracks of analysis.
Today, I'd like to distract myself from all the Hall of Fame talk by focusing on the good: specifically three under-the-radar transactions from this offseason that I consider "fun" for completely subjective reasons.
#3 -- The Cleveland Indians trade Esmil Rogers to the Toronto Blue Jays for Mike Aviles and Yan Gomes
I'm less interested in whom the Indians received than who they gave up: promising reliever Esmil Rogers. Rogers, who was sold* from Colorado to Cleveland mid-season. Rogers had an okay season by the ERA standard, posting a 4.69 ERA in 78 and 2/3 innings.
[ * Note: Sold? What is this, 1915?]
But the right-hander also struck out 23.9% of batters faced during that period, while posting a higher innings total than many relievers. Rogers was often used in stints over a full inning, certainly a relic of the years he spent as a starting pitcher. In fact, in the two seasons Esmil has spent primarily as a reliever (2010 and 2012), he's posted nearly identical FIPs of 3.44 and 3.48, respectively. Those aren't half bad!
It's Announcement Day (hide your wives and daughters, hide your computer and anything else that'll connect to Twitter!), and it's time for another tradition of mine (started in 2011, and here's 2012): there are throngs of players who are eligible for the Hall of Fame this year -- they played in at least ten seasons, and retired in 2007 -- but did not make the ballot, and ten (or more) years in a professional sport is by itself a pretty great accomplishment, so I like to say a little something about each of those guys.
Antonio Alfonseca: Six fingers, as you know. He led the league in saves in 2001 for Florida, picking up 45 of them despite a subpar-for-a-reliever 4.24 ERA.
Tony Batista: It's a bit surprising that a guy with 221 homers didn't make the ballot, but of course that was just about all Batista was. That, and the best batting stance (non-Julio Franco Dvision) in history.
Mark Bellhorn: Among Bellhorn's ten "seasons" are years in which he played nine, 11, 13, 38 and 68 games. He really only had two seasons, but they were good ones: 2002 for the Cubs (27 HR, 133 OPS+, about three wins above replacement) and 2004 for the Red Sox (107 OPS+, another three wins and a World Series ring).
Hector Carrasco: Just another guy who went out and got his job done; rarely had impressive-looking numbers thanks to the crazy offense, but did wind up with a 113 ERA+. He sat out all of 2004 and then starred for the inaugural Nationals of 2005: 88.1 innings and a 2.04 ERA (200 ERA+).no comments
(The following is adapted from Senator Joseph McCarthy's famous Red Scare speech in Wheeling, West Virginia from February 9, 1950. I wouldn't want any of you to think I was trying to pass someone else's work off as my own. Wink.)
Ladies and gentlemen, today as we celebrate the one hundredth birthday of one of the greatest men in American history, I would like to be able to talk about what a glorious day today is in the history of the world. As we celebrate the birth of this man who with his whole heart and soul hated corruption, I would like to be able to speak of ethics in our time—of dirty pool being outlawed—and of world-wide honesty. These would be truly appropriate things to be able to mention as we celebrate the birthday of Richard M. Nixon.
Ten years after winning the war on PEDs, men’s hearts should anticipate a long peace—and men’s minds should be free from the heavy weight that comes with war. But this is not such a period—for this is not a period of peace. This is a time of “the cold war.” This is a time when all the world is split into two vast, increasingly hostile camps.no comments