BP.com's original column launched in 1996, TA has been where Christina Kahrl ponders the implications of recent roster moves, their impact on managerial tactics or how they reflect organizational behavior. Plus a few too many references to things that have nothing to do with baseball.
Disappointments about in all three instances, but is there any good news to be found?
Obvious Good Move: You want a good move from a team that is giving Mike Hampton a last chance? It used to be that this sort of desperate effort to hang on was the butt of jokes in venues as obvious as Tank McNamara, when it made light of Steve Carlton's unwillingness to give up 25 years ago. OK, let's see... how about cutting Bobby Crosby? I figure a few A's fans might get a contact high from that.
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Michael Jong covers the catchers in Boston and St. Louis, along with the second basemen competing in Cleveland.
It seems the plight of Mike Lowell is affecting more than just the third base position. The inability to trade Lowell has forced the Red Sox to play him as a backup corner infielder. This saps the playing time that generally would go to starting catcher Victor Martinez, who usually backs up first base on his catching off-days. This practice has helped keep Martinez healthy and playing; Martinez has gathered 600+ PA in four out of the last five seasons. Heater expert Evan Brunell expects Martinez to pick up that slack playing more behind the plate at the expense of the husk of Jason Varitek. However, there is a risk with this move: Will Carroll mentioned in Boston's Team Health Report that Martinez' injury risk (he stands at "yellow" as of the report) is tied to his playing time behind the plate. Increased catching time may haunt the Red Sox, Martinez, and his fantasy owners.
While a big part of Martinez's appeal is his longevity, another major aspect is that he's just a good hitter. Outside of an injury-riddled 2008 season, Martinez has been consistently among the best offensive options at catcher. You can pretty much count on him posting an average around .300 because he is excellent at avoiding strikeouts; since 2004, Martinez boasts a superb 88.9 percent contact rate. PECOTA's 50th percentile projection of .286 is fair, but don't be surprised if he once again tops .300, as the 60th percentile on up has him hitting that mark. Martinez does not boast the best power, as his "Bash" (TB/H) are about average for a catcher. However, hitting cleanup OBP machines like Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia should generate excellent RBI numbers. Martinez has reached 20+ homers four times in his career, but he is more of a ground ball hitter and will only reach that mark if he gets his maximum playing time as shown here. Varitek has shown little appeal for two seasons now, and PECOTA does not expect much change. Unless he begins starting regularly, you should avoid him.
Oops. In itself, the deal with the Angels isn't a bad thing, it's just that it doesn't fit in very well with the initial decision to keep Juan Uribe for $4.5 million, and there's the irony that the exchange might have also encouraged the Halos to upgrade on Gary Matthews Jr. and go get the center fielder Kenny Williams so clearly wanted for his own club.
Derek tackles a Sheets-Harang duel, and one pitcher gets the better of it in the return of Prospectus Game of the Week.
The Reds, who lead the wild card race and are within scratching distance of the Cardinals for the lead in the NL Central, started off the major trading by dealing their starting shortstop (Felipe Lopez) and their starting rightfielder (Austin Kearns) to the Washington Nationals for a gift basket of middle relievers--Gary Majewski, Bill Bray, and Darryl Thompson--along with infielders Royce Clayton and Brendan Harris. The big trade was an acknowledgment of the weakness of the Reds bullpen--even now, with their new, improved bullpen, the Reds are still tenth in the league in WXRL, and fifteenth in Adjusted Runs Prevented--and a decision to emphasize defense. Still, that doesn't change the fact that the Reds surrendered two youngish full-time position players, one of whom was an All-Star last year, for three no-name relievers and a couple of role players.
Nate takes a look at those players who outperformed their PECOTAs by the most, and those who didn't come close to their projections.
Will Carroll, Paul Swydan and I were batting around various types of BP-branded All-Star teams on our internal listserv this week--look for more of these coming soon--and naturally the idea of an All-PECOTA team came up. The idea is to identify those players who have most exceeded their PECOTA projections ("Beat PECOTA"), as measured by actual VORP, less VORP as projected in the very last iteration of our preseason depth charts. In some cases, these will be players who had ridiculous fluke seasons, in others, guys who made some important changes in their game, and in others still, players whom PECOTA went short on and simply got burned. We'll also want to look, of course, at those players who most underperformed their PECOTAs--what I call the Beaten Down by PECOTA Team.
The Cubs shuffle through pitching options, the Brewers have one of the most interesting rosters in the game, and the Dodgers fight through injuries as they try to stay in the race. This and much more in Transaction Analysis.
The Angels and Reds retain their starting catchers for the same price. Jim Bowden flushes a bunch of money down the drain in Washington. Chris Kahrl pledges allegiance to Mike Rose. These and other happenings in today's Transaction Analysis.