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I just got way too excited when I saw the headline for this article. This is my favorite BP series.
This probably falls into the category of "unknowable," but if there were only 285 passed balls during the whole season, I wonder how many of those were a result of the pitcher "crossing up" the catcher and are therefore not really attributable as a physical mistake of the catcher but a mental mistake that could be attributed to either the catcher or the pitcher (which one, of course, definitely falls into the category of Unknowable unless one of the players cops to it).
Maybe it doesn't even matter for the purposes of predicting future events, but it seems like a different category from your run-of-the-mill passed balls.
It seems to me that the Royals chances hinge on whether Game Two Cueto shows up or Game Five Cueto shows up in the next round.
Wainwright and Holliday have been out for just about this whole season and the Cardinals have done pretty well replacing their production. I'm not saying that they will continue to have the best record in the league in coming years (as I admitted in my first comment), I'm just saying that it seems to be premature to say their competetive window is closing. They won't need to rebuild like the Phillies or anything. They are still going to be a solid team and with their pitching depth and payroll flexibility, they might be able to do better than that, even.
I was with you right up until you said that the Cardinals "competetive window is closing." While I absolutely agree that the Cubs and Pirates seem to be better looking in the near term, the Cardinals aren't due for a complete rebuild. I would still expect them to be very competetive going forward. There are a lot of solid, young players on that team and not much dead money on the books (and an influx of new t.v. dollars). Holliday and Molina might be on the downside of their careers, but guys like Wacha, Martinez, Piscotty, Grichuk, and Reyes haven't even entered their prime yet. I agree with your conclusion that the Cardinals would probably be the one team that would view a WC loss as a disappointing end to the season, but calling that 'slamming their competetive window shut' might be a bit of hyperbole.
One other option is that Castro really *would* be interested in treatment, but he wasn't about to say so to a reporter and suffer the stigma that many associate with mental illness and treatment.
Not showing up for me. Work firewall must be blocking it. *grumble, grumble*
All that and you didn't embed the gif or did I miss it?
While I would usually agree with your last paragraph - you generally can't judge a trade for prospects until several years later - I don't think that rationale works in this situation. That rationale works when you are trading talent for talent and it takes time to see who was a better evaluator of talent. But in this case, the D-Backs were trading talent for payroll flexibility and I think it is much easier to judge a trade like that immediately. Toussaint is an asset that has a current value and most agree that the D-Backs didn't get an adequate return on that current value. There is no other talent coming back that has a subjective value that requires us to wait and see and just because three years from now Toussaint's value may be drastically different than it is today doesn't mean that today the D-Backs lost an asset that was much more valuable than what they received in return.
I think there is a $2M limit to fines that can be levied by MLB. I read that yesterday, but I don't have the source handy to confirm.
As a Cardinals fan, I find this whole situation ugly and embarrassing. The Cardinals are regularly skewered for the perceived self-righteousness of "the Cardinal Way" and the "Best Fans in Baseball" narrative (that is overwrought and mostly a media creation). This provides more fuel for that fire by adding a layer of hypocricy to the whole situation.
But aside from the public perception issue, I find what the Cardinals did to be distasteful. At best it was a petty and childish act of revenge against a former colleague and at worst it was an attempt to gain an unfair competetive advantage. I hope that the Cardinals take the high road on this and clean house of anyone that was responsible for what happened here instead of covering up and making lame excuses.
I'm not a big fan of Matt's suggested penalties because they will offer a competetive disadvantage to the Cardinals and as a fan that sucks, but I don't disagree that they are probably appropriate. I hope the team steps up and takes whatever punishment MLB determines and doesn't try any appeals or anything.
Finally, on a broader scope, I am weary of all of these sports scandals that happen outside the lines. The Patriots issues in football, steroids, now hacking - I enjoy following sports because what happens on the field provides relief from the noise of the real world. My enjoyment of sports is diminished when the spectre of all these scandals constantly hangs over the play on the field. I might as well think about my job, or politics, or the economy if it's going to be like that.
RE: <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=40963">Jhonny Peralta</a></span> - I thought I read somewhere that his defense rates surprisingly high (I can't seem to find it at the moment, though). I always assumed that he was dreadful at short, but wasn't he towards the top of the list of best defensive SS in the NL last season?
I think it is interesting that the Royals are doing this without Ventura and Duffy performing to expectations yet this year. So if the offense is due for some regression to their true abilities, so is the top of the rotation, which could balance out some offensive regression.
Everyone keeps waiting for the Royals to fall apart, but I think it's a fun team to watch and I hope their success continues. It makes for entertaining baseball.
What about a shift where the second baseman runs up behind the pitcher and jumps around and waves his arms from just behind the arm slot where the batter is looking for the pitch?
Is there any way to take into account sub-optimal management strategies? So if a pitcher gives up a single with no outs and the manager has the next batter bunt - the expected runs for the inning goes down, but that really isn't reflective of any particular talent of the pitcher (other than throwing a buntable pitch). It's probably a miniscule effect anyway, but I think this is an issue anytime you use expected runs as part of a metric.
Once the statistic is available that compares pitchers across eras, I would be interested in seeing a leaderboard with which pitchers have the highest difference (both positive and negative) between DRA and RA/9.
<span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=67022">Tyrell Jenkins</a></span> is no longer with the Cardinals.
If the Yankees are out of it in July, how much of his salary would they have to eat for him to traded at the deadline? I'd guess that, even if he keeps hitting like this, the answer would be: "a lot."
Seems like your recap of the Royals/A's shenanigans is missing a bit.
First, Escobar never "turned to first" as if to turn a <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=DP" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('DP'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">DP</span></a> (the embedded gif shows that). There was no chance for a DP on that play and Esobar was fielding it more like a first baseman because it was going to be close.
Second, Lawrie probably would have been safe if he would have slid normally (and might have been safe anyway, the replays are unclear if he was touched by Escobar's glove as he slid past). Not sure if that all matters, but is an interesting aspect.
Third, I don't think Yost and Eiland were upset about Kazmir's intent to hit Cain, I think they were upset at the different treatment of Ventura and Kazmir. Ventura was tossed with no warning and Kazmir was not, but then a warning was given. Personally, I think there is a difference there, as clearly Ventura did have intent to hit Lawrie, but I think that was Yost/Eiland's issue (plus I think Garber's "don't come out here" hand motion probably irritated Yost and rightly so).
Finally, Hererra later said the point to the head was a motion to "think about it" as in "I'm not going to hit you when we are down a run in the eighth inning." I'm not sure I buy that, but it should be noted, at least.
I suspect that "that choice" is over-agonized about. I haven't done the gory math, but I would guess that in most cases the starting pitcher is about to face a lineup for the third time at that point in the game and his success from there on out starts to deteriorate anyway. So the question of whether getting a pinch hitter into a two out rally is worth giving up your starting pitcher in the sixth inning when things are about to get much more difficult for that starting pitcher ought to be an easy one. That attitude may tax your bullpen a little more than usual, but over the long haul I think you'd be better of pinch hitting every time in that situation.
It seems like (anecdotal evidence warning) every time I see this situation play out the pitcher ends up getting replaced in the next inning anyway. This just happened yesterday with <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=31361">Adam Wainwright</a></span>. He made the last out in the sixth with men on base and then promptly gave up a baserunning in the seventh and got pulled.
Perhaps thinner odds, but a higher payoff. The Cardinals do have some recent history of managing the transition successfully as Wainwright, Lynn and <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=60626">Shelby Miller</a></span> all spent time as set up men/closers in the first years of their careers. Granted, they may not have put in quite so many innings in that role as Martinez has, but that's just a matter of degree. The Cardinals seem to know what they are doing, so I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt on a close call like this.
Slightly off topic, but something that I've wondered for a while: run expectancy tables are often used to argue against certain managerial decisions (like bunting, for example), but since they are based on historical data that includes sub-optimal managerial decisions (which are at times ingrained in the accepted strategies of baseball), isn't the data flawed for that purpose? So when we say that bunting with no outs and a man on first is sub-optimal because the run expectancy is higher with no outs and a man on first than it is with one out and a man on second, the data for run expectancy in these situations is already inclusive of results that are the consequences of that very sub-optimal decision making.
So, while in that particular case we have to presume that the gap would be even wider if the historical data was only gathered using optimal decision making (and therefore the point about bunting in that situation still stands), it makes me wonder generally about the legitimacy of using the runs expectancy data. If certain sub-optimal strategies have been traditionally employed, isn't the whole data set flawed for the purpose of determining what *is* optimal decision making?
"an offer upwards of $50."
I'm not sure why I find this typo so funny, but I do. Especially since fifty bucks would put Oakland and Atlanta out of the running.
I agree. I expect some regression, but 72 wins seems low given the defense and bullpen.
Oof - this reads like a bucket of cold water coming off a World Series appearance.
Where the seats would be located makes a big difference. Also, to spread the risk, you could go in with at least one friend or family member in buying the Timeless Ticket, so each of you only spend $500 and agree to split the 4 tickets. The upside play of selling two extra World Series tickets is reduced because you have to split the profit, but the overall risk is halved, as well. If you really wanted to reduce the risk, you get three friends to invest with you at $250 each and then you can each decide whether to sell your eventual ticket or not.
We aren't talking about crimes, though, we are talking about the validity of accomplishments on a baseball field. There are a number of logical threads that you can go down if you follow the assumptions that you are making: if these players have been "convicted" of a baseball crime, why hasn't MLB punished them (erased their statistics from the recordbook, for example)? Why is the punishment only coming from the HoF voters?; if MLB believes their statistics are legitimate enough to stand in the official books, why shouldn't they be judged on those statistics for HoF purposes?; what is the standard of proof that must be met to "convict" these players? A positive test? Admission of guilt? Unsubstantiated whispers?; Without knowing the true effect of PEDs, how can we possibly fairly evaluate the accomplishments of the "unconvicted" players of the same era? Does Clemens supposed use taint the World Series that Jeter won? Do we have to downgrade Jeter's HoF case because he benefitted from Clemens and A-Rod using?
It's a rabbit-hole that never ends, even it you avoid the question of 'who else was using that we don't know about'.
I don't think the community is unconcerned so much as it just doesn't know what to do with the situation. It seems clear that the known cheaters are really just the tip of the iceberg of all users for a period of time. How can you take PED use into account for Bonds/Clemens/McGwire and not for the unknown users? Even if you could take PED use into account, how much of an effect did it have? These are impossible questions to answer and so instead of just pretending that those players didn't accomplish the things that they did on the field, we have to just acknowledge that they happened and that the whole era was flawed to an unknowable extent and move on.
Why not have a BP Hall of Fame? The Cooperstown HoF is a great museum, but the voting process has led to some ugly results. Why not just start one of your own. You can have a portion of the website devoted to it with each "plaque" containing advanced metrics and links to PECOTA comparables and other fun stuff like that. Every year the BP staff would comprise the voting pool (or, if you really want to make it an interactive undertaking, BP subscribers could be the voting pool just like with the internet baseball awards).
The Vada Pinson chart doesn't have the totals line.
Otherwise, this was a great article - I'd love to see other great players (Ruth, Mays, Musial, etc.).
Happy flight, Oscar. RIP
I think I'd go with the 1987 Twins. They only won 85 games and their Pythagorean W/L was under .500. They had a .358 winning percentage on the road and the most they were ever over .500 was 13 games.
I admit that I am biased, but I really hate when people call the 2006 Cardinals the worst team to win a World Series. They were a really good team that was beset by injuries all season and finally got healthy at the right time. Remember that it was virtually the same team that led all of baseball in wins in the previous two seasons. In the first 100 games they were 16 games over .500 (58-42). Their pitching wasn't great and their big three hitters (Pujols, Rolen and Edmonds) all struggled with injuries throughout the year.
Actually, such a person needs to read *more* BP so they can get a better understanding of how baseball actually works.
Given the Cardinals organizational makeup right now, Piscotty looks like a trade chip and I would guess that his value may never be higher than at this trade deadline. I like his bat and I think he'll be a solid player, but probably not for the Cardinals.
That being said, I think I'd take Almora over him beause of the tools and potential (and because I'm a foolish optimist). It is certainly a closer call than you would have thought before the season, but I'd give the slight edge to Almora.
Has anyone seen Starling in person lately? He's been on a tear and I've read that he's changed back to his high school mechanics, so I'm just curious if he's turned a corner in his development or if it's just a statistical blip.
I'd almost given up on Jenkins as a prospect; I'll be very interested to see the first hand report on him.
I agree and I think one of the primary factors here is player compensation. Most players are playing for their next contract and they are very aware that a season where their team deploys a strategy that will inhibit their ability to reach certain statistical standards (pitchers' wins, saves, etc.) will damage their overall value. Arbitration and free agency is still very reliant on those kinds of traditional measures and if a player has a season in his history that doesn't look right statistically, it can hurt his value.
I think that player revolt/players association troubles would be a real issue for any team that wanted to test these theories at the big league level.
Not really, though. They had a six man rotation, but they weren't piggy-backing starters or anything like that.
I like the idea of having a "piggyback" rotation of six "starters". Your #1 pitches 4 innings of game 1, then your #4 pitches the next 3 innings of game 1 and then you turn it over to your standard bullpen. The pattern is repeated with the remaining starters until game 4, then #4 starts and pitches 4 innings and your #1 pitches the next 3 innings. That way, each of the pitchers gets about 7 innings of work every six days, which should conserve them over a full season and no pitcher should have to go through a lineup more than twice.
This would, of course, screw up traditional statistics and the pitchers would likely rebel, but I'd be interested in seeing if it would work.
I believe you have Marco Gonzalez' team mixed up (Palm Beach isn't the Cardinals AAA affiliate).
Well, there is definitely reason to be excited, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. I'd like to see him against advanced pitching before we start talking about him and HR records.
I'm not sure if Grichuk profiles as a CF long term, though. So if Piscotty and/or Taveras are called up, Grichuk could move to a corner to make way for Ramsey. Of course, your primary point is a good one - "among the first names called by the Cardinals if they have an injury" is probably overstating it since all three AAA guys are ahead of him in line.
It always seems a bit rude when commenters mention typos and I hesitated to point it out. Is there a less-public way of making these things known to you?
Terrance Gore of the Kansas City Twins?
"Smutty changeup" is a fantastic description. Thanks for the excellent work, as always.
Let's just say that Halladay worked out and rehabbed and got in shape by July. Then he signs a one day contract and pitches a game for the Phillies just to show he's healthy and is lights out. Imagine the bidding war that would ensue for each of Halladay's remaining starts (if he chose to go one day contracts at a time) if the Red Sox and Yankees were fighting it out for the last playoff spot in the AL.
The "think smarter, not harder" line is absolutely sublime.
5 SS in the top 7 - while they all might not stick there, the league could use an infusion of young talent at that position.
I'm not disagreeing about who won the trade, but I've heard comments like this several times - that the Royals could have just gone out and spent money in free agency instead - but who would they have gotten? Greinke probably wasn't going back to KC and they would have had to outbid the Angels. They could have gotten Kyle Lohse, I suppose, if that floats your boat. It's easy to say that the Royals should have just kept Myers and spent $30M on a free agent pitcher, but there has to be a quality pitcher that actually wants to go to KC for that to work out and that's not quite as easy as it sounds.
Myers has been great and would have filled a position of great weakness for the Royals, but Shields has been great for the Royals, too, and starting pitching is always a need for all teams. In the long run I suspect they will regret trading Myers, but the free agency alternative for pitching isn't quite as easy as people try to argue.
Unless, of course, the Cardinals decide to trade Freese instead and move Carpenter back to third base. I'm really not sure which scenario I would prefer and Freese hasn't made it easy with his slightly disappointing season.
Interesting that the Cardinals system was seen as the top system in baseball entering the season, but they haven't really been talked about much during the season. I suspect that's because they've graduated so many of their players to the majors (at least for short stints) and their #1 guy, OT, has been injured for much of the year.
I'm actually a little surprised that they weren't on the Five Farm Teams on the Fall list since their #2, #3, #4, #5 and #8 prospects have all played in the majors and at least three of those five won't be eligible for the list next year.
Thanks for the information. Is there any way that we could get a birthdate for each player?
Yep. I was watching the Cardinals game on my computer using MLB.tv and when I heard that Darvish was perfect through 8, I put the Rangers game in the PiP screen until the bottom of the inning, then I switched the pictures to watch and listen to Darvish try and close it out in the bottom of the ninth.
MLB has had its missteps as a league over the years, but they have done a better job embracing technology than any of the other major sports leagues.
I think part of the problem is that he's trying too hard to be weird and it seems transparent. There's a difference between guys whose goal is to win games and they happen to be quirky and guys whose goal is to be quirky. I'm not saying that Wilson isn't trying to win, but his first goal seems to be being quirky.
Late to the game on this, but I was wondering about the comments on Zack Wheeler. It seems that "setting up batters" is attributed sometimes to the pitcher and sometimes to the catcher. To an extent (and certainly more often, I would assume, in the minors) neither the pitcher or catcher are calling the pitches - that comes from the manager in the dugout. So how much can we really evaluate this as a skill in a minor league pitcher and/or catcher? And how do you determine who should get the credit?
Have you heard anything about the rumor that there is "something" not injury related that is scaring KC off of Zimmer?
This was great, thank you! I recognize that there have to be limitations (and that everyone wants to hear "just one more" for their favorite team), but I would have loved to read a review of a sixth player for the Cardinals organization for Trevor Rosenthal.
Any idea when the PECOTA spreadsheet will be available for download?
I can't seem to change my selections now. Every time that I go in to make a change, after I hit 'continue' after the first step it takes me to my full ballot.
Why would Oakland want to trade for a first baseman when they have Chris Carter (who they can't seem to find any playing time for)?
The Meche signing wasn't that bad. He was pretty good for the first two years and they ended up paying him about $4.45M per win (in the WARP sense) over the life of his contract, which is decent.
What is your gut instinct on the Cardinals 3B situation going forward? Given the choice between Carpenter and Cox, who do you think gives them the most value?
Well, Rolen did sort of famously complain his way out of Philadelphia earlier in his career and Drew gets similar complaints from Boston fans, but LaRussa seems to be much more willing to air his greivances in public (which damages his teams trading leverage).
My question is whether Rzepczynski has a legitimate chance at being a starting pitcher down the road. If not, all the Cardinals will have after this season is a middle reliever and Type B compensation for Jackson to show for Rasmus.
Is it strange that there is a part of me that sort of misses listening to the old conference call style of the draft?
Well, yeah, but that's not really my point. The point is that the Royals could be costing themselves multiple millions of dollars down the road by bringing Hosmer up now when they have another alternative in AAA if they really wanted to replace Kila in the lineup. Give Robinson two weeks or give him a month to see if he has anything to offer. Whatever - the point is really Hosmer's major league service time.
Maybe you're right - I'm excited to see what Hosmer can do in the big leagues - but if a change was necessary because Kila has sucked, why not give Clint Robinson a two week shot? Like Kila, he's a little old to be a top prospect, but he tore the cover off the ball in AA last year and is off to a pretty solid start in AAA himself.
Sure, it's quite possible that the Royals will no longer be over .500 in two weeks, but I doubt that fans in KC will be any less excited to see Hosmer than they are now.
Any thought that Clint Robinson might get the call to KC instead of Hosmer should Kila continue to flounder, if only to give the older guy his one shot and keep Hosmer from starting his MLB clock?
The thing is, I don't think people are asking you if you *know* when Moustakas (for example) is going to get called up - they want to know your opinion. It's like asking a baseball analyst whether Albert Pujols will win the triple crown - obviously they don't know what AP will do, but they are paid to watch and study the game and their opinion is (theoretically) more informed than the average baseball fan. I would guess the same is true for the people asking you these questions about call-ups - you are an analyst that is an expert regarding baseball prospects, people are interested in what you think about a timetable for a guy based on what you see and what you hear about them. I think it's entirely reasonable, regardless of how bemused that concept may make some front-office guy.
An overall team line of .279/.346/.424? That would be fantastic for the Royals (they put up .259/.318/.405 last year). That kind of improvement just doesn't seem possible with the changes they've made this offseason. PECOTA seems to be predicting that this is the year that Alex Gordon finally becomes a productive player, which helps explain a lot (but might be a touch optimistic given his apparent disinterest in making himself better).
I don't get why the Phillies aren't keeping Lee. Sure, maybe he won't sign an extention and they lose him after the season, but one season of Lee and Halladay in the rotation plus the two compensatory draft picks seem to be better than just Halladay in the rotation and the prospects Philly is getting from Seattle. Lee's $9M for this season can't be the deciding factor, can it?
The Phillies are already one of the favorites to play for the World Series, but with Lee and Halladay in the rotation, they'd have to be *the* favorite - overwhelmingly so. That, to me, is worth the difference between the B level prospects they are getting from Seattle and the compensatory picks.
Chien Ming Wang seems like a perfect candidate for a Dave Duncan revival project in St. Louis.
You mean the 2006 team that was coming off of having the best record in baseball for two consecutive years and was on their way to doing the same until injuries dragged them down in the second half and then got healthy and began playing at their true level at the right time? If the system gave the Cardinals a "gift" in 2006, then do they get credit for having the best regular season teams in 2004 and 2005?
That being said, the 1985 team blew the series on it's own - Dekinger's bad call was a minor piece of that disasterous inning.
Awesome - thanks!
Yankees, 7/161, 12/4
But your argument, then, is that Howard should win the MVP because his teammates are better than Pujols\' teammates. That\'s absurd. Team awards already exist, the MVP is an individual award, so it should be based on what the individual has done.
ScottyB: The Dodgers offense is obviously better with Manny in the lineup than without him, but his presence doesn\'t make Ethier, Kemp, etc. better players. Adding a bat like Manny\'s to *any* offense will make it a better offense - that doesn\'t have anything to do with having a \"straw that stirs the drink\" it just means that adding talent adds production. The rest of the guys in the lineup are the same players as they were before he arrived (which is generally the point of Eric\'s study, I believe).