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TRANSACTION ANALYSIS


For the love of God! Where is Transaction Analysis?!? Please Chris,
take mercy on my soul and post a new Transaction Analysis!

–AC


Well, it should hopefully warm your heart to hear that TA is gearing up for
daily coverage of the trading deadline action, starting on Friday. Sorry
about the quiet period, but a road trip to the SABR convention kept me out of
commission, and while some of my cohorts urged me to attempt a well-liquored
"TA on the Road" segment, I thought the better of it.

–Chris Kahrl


The Mets
need outfielders, yes
. Bubba Trammell and Rickey
Henderson
? How about Manny Ramirez or Gary Sheffield? They
needed a bopper and they didn’t acquire one.

Case closed on a season of well-pitched 3-2 losses.

–SC


While I agree that Gary Sheffield and Manny Ramirez would be pretty handy,
you do have to take into account that players who have
the freedom to choose can choose to go wherever they please, and neither
Sheff nor Manny seemed inclined to take the Mets seriously.

While I’m probably faster on the draw than most when it comes to flogging
Steve Phillips for mistakes past and present, I try to restrict myself to the
decisions for which he had some responsibility. Trammell and Rickey are both
useful near-regulars, and Phillips had control of both. Despite not having
any viable alternatives, he frittered them away to address questions of ego
and an already-strong bullpen, and this after plunging an awful lot of cash
into two unproductive players, Todd Zeile (relative to his peers) and Rey
Ordonez. Now, I hope he wasn’t taking Timo Perez’s press clippings seriously,
but unfortunately, it looks like he was. Phillips could have gone with what
worked in ’99–a collection of outfielders who could contribute at
varying levels–but he stuck with the same idea (no expensive outfielders)
without finding good bit players, and foregoing any top-notch pickups. So he
artificially limited his choices, and then made certain he made bad choices.

Oh well, there’s always a next (Steve Trachsel-less) year.

–Chris Kahrl


I
don’t disagree with your evaluation of Barry Larkin
, but please
don’t assign his contract to Jim Bowden. Bowden was ready to let Larkin
walk after last season, or at most only extend him year-to-year. But,
as
this article points out
, Reds CEO Carl Lindner decided he wanted to keep
Barry around, and essentially signed Barry to an extension against the
advice of his baseball folks.

–Erick Metzger


There’s no other way to put this but: point taken, and conceded.

–Chris Kahrl


How can you say that

Tomokazu Ohka pitched poorly at Triple-A because he was frustrated
?
That kind of rank speculation is beneath your usual fine analysis. This is
just your anti-old-Red Sox-pitcher bias at work.

Ohka pitched poorly his last three weeks for the big club, apparently during
his entire Triple-A stay, and in his first start back. Maybe those scouts I’ve
seen quoted anonymously in various columns who thought he projected out to
nothing more than a fifth starter were right. Face it, David Cone is
a better option right now.

As a postscript, your Cone reply about his quality-start ratio was
hypercritical, in my opinion. He was on a strict pitch count early on.
He’s well on his way to being a little more than serviceable down the
stretch. And there’s a decent chance he can be significantly better than
that. But we shall see. I bet you’re eating Cone, er… crow, on that
one by season’s end.

–MS


Well, in the original article I did not state a causal relationship, I
merely pointed out that Ohka’s performance at Pawtucket after his
demotion had to make you wonder about him. This is what is called
"lilly-livered temporizing," and while I’d like to say it’s an
occupational hazard, TA is my pastime, not my occupation, so I am
guilty and innocent, all at once.

Meanwhile, I cannot help but notice that Coney is still the worst Sox
starter not named Tomo Ohka, so I doubt I’m going to have to eat anything
that might give me West Nile Virus.

–Chris Kahrl


There
should be next to no demand for Rick Helling
?

He has been very solid from 1998-2000, with ERAs in the mid-4.00s despite
pitching in The Ballpark in Arlington, and after a rough start, has pitched
well for the Rangers the last couple of months. Plus, there is a very
reasonable club option on him for next season.

Kenny Rogers and (especially) Darren Oliver, I can
understand, but I don’t see why you think no contender would be interested
in Helling.

–Adam J. Morris


There’s a lot of scouty bias against Helling from the get-go, because he
isn’t a speed gun kind of guy. That and his awful start to this season
should keep him off of all but the most confident of GM’s shopping lists.
Would I take a chance on him? Sure, if I was the Braves or the Indians or
the Astros, I would. Will they? I really doubt it.

–Chris Kahrl


THE REST


Your mid-season award balloting
got me feeling cantankerous enough to send off an e-mail. My problem:
an apparent double standard in evaluating
batting an pitching performances. My evidence: Freddy Garcia.

Garcia was missing from every single ballot. His raw stats are almost
identical to Tim Hudson‘s. Before anyone brings up Safeco Field, he’s
performed a bit better on the road than at home. He’s 3rd in the league in
opponents batting average. Looking at VORP, Garcia is more than 31 runs better
than replacement level, better than Tim Wakefield, Mike Mussina,
Mark Buerhle, Eric Milton and Roger Clemens. He
goes deeper into games than the rest of the Mariners starters, helping keep
Jeff Nelson, et al fresh; Jamie Moyer, Paul Abbott, and
this month’s fifth starter are averaging less than six innings before
Piniella turns to the bullpen.

Should Garcia win the Cy Young? No. Should he get consideration?
Most definitely. He’s working on a great year (perhaps the best season from
a Mariner starter not named Randy Johnson) for an excellent
team, contributing as much as Jeff Nelson without the freakish strikeout
stats. While John Halama didn’t bring a lot to the table, give
Aaron Sele and Garcia some credit and don’t ignore them out of hand.

I feel better now, and don’t even get the urge to ask about Darryl Kile
or how a voter-not-to-be-named could include Ellis Burks on their
ballot ahead of Edgar Martinez or how two relievers and a part-time starter
made it onto another AL ballot or…

–JD


I voted before Garcia’s last pre-ASB start, and I downgraded him primarily
due to the ballpark effects. Even with the second shutout, his ERA was only
sixth in the league before ballpark adjustments, which would probably drop
him to tenth (he wasn’t too far ahead of #9, Mike Mussina). He also only
ranked tenth in opponents’ OBP, behind all five guys I listed on my ballot.

If I have a bias, it’s towards pitchers who keep men off base. There was no
anti-Mariner bias at play that I know of.

As for your backhanded reference to my inclusion of Burks and omission of
Martinez, Burks was ahead in offensive stats at the time and unlike Edgar has
actually used a glove this year. I’m also slightly biased against hitters,
particularly older ones, whose values are heavily weighted towards the base
on balls, a la Mark Grace (a more extreme example). I should have
ranked Burks lower, in retrospect. This was more of a judgment call; Garcia’s
omission was pretty clear-cut to me.

–Keith Law


Why is it hard to take "veteran leadership" seriously? Because of
things like Mark Grace‘s performance against the Mariners today.
Because you never heard about the other side of the coin, when
so called "veterans" should know better. Because Mark Grace can
double, slide past the bag, and get called out without anybody
taking him to task. Because he can later, in the same game, get
thrown out trying to advance on a throw without anybody taking him
to task. If veteran leadership is so valuable, why does the
consummate veteran leader still make rookie mistakes?

–JB


Joe Sheehan
has
already mentioned Mark Grace’s excellent offensive performance this season
,
something that has us pretty surprised.
It’s possible that Grace is reading his own press–"geez, even the
Baseball Prospectus has something nice to say about me"–and
he may have decided that with the stick he’s swinging this year,
being a "veteran leader" is more trouble than it’s worth.

After all, veteran leadership is what keeps decrepit players like
Terry Pendleton and Ozzie Guillen in uniform long after the
last vestiges of actual effectiveness have gone the way of Gary Condit’s
career. The way he’s hitting this year, Grace can goof around on
the basepaths like a much slower, much paler version of Chuck E.
Carr
and it’ll never get reported.

–Dave Pease


I’ll admit that I have an odd fascination with Juan Pierre. As a
Homer Bush, high average, no power, low walk, Coors Field hitter,
I was sure he would be vastly overrated both by the media and my
fellow roto owners on auction day.

Consequently, it was with supreme confidence that I announced at our
auction "Juan Pierre, $20." I knew I had started a bidding war
during which I could sit back and snicker at my foolish compatriots. But,
to my surprise, chirp, chirp, giggle, giggle. People got up to use the
facilities, to get a beer, to shake their heads, to thumb through
Fantasy Baseball Insider to determine the identity of this unsung
French-Hispanic-American. (Wherein, I believe, Keith Law said something to
the effect of "Juan Pierre sucks.") So, I had Juan Pierre for $20.
The problem is, I still have him. Even with a gazillion steal lead. You see,
I’ve figured out the problem: NOBODY IS TALKING ABOUT JUAN PIERRE. At least,
nobody but me.

Pierre is hitting .326, with a .380 OBP. He is stealing bases like, well,
like he has a bobblehead Whitey Herzog as his first base coach. "Should
I go Whitey?" Bobble yes, bobble yes. He has struck out a mere 10 times
in about 350 plate appearances. He is Ichiro-lite. And, the most amazing
thing, he is hitting .337 on the road, with a .390 OBP and a .438 SLG.
He isn’t even a Coors Field creation.

Does the media mention any of this? A near-rookie hitting .326? Stealing
bases? Playing center field? With a French last name? Of course not. Are
there legions (legionnaires?) of French press standing in Juan’s driveway,
sending half-naked locker room photos of Pierre back to gaggles of screaming
teens in sweet Paree? No. I’m leading steals by about four frickin’ billion
and I can’t even trade the SOB because Gammons won’t mention him, Kurkijijiajajjkan
won’t mention him, Stark won’t mention him. Even you guys won’t mention him,
even mockingly. How about some help here? Ron Shandler is the only guy
singing his praises, and nobody listens to Ron Shandler…. How ’bout you
help
a brother out?

–JLR


You paid twenty bucks for Juan Pierre?

–Dave Pease

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