The O’s have something to look forward to in little Mike Fontenot. Colorado is more or less stuck for the time being. And Jose Reyes has been showing some nice development over the past few months for the Mets. All this and much more news from Baltimore, Colorado, and New York in your Wednesday edition of Prospectus Triple Play.
Among serious contenders this season, Boston’s Theo Epstein is the only freshman GM. And since the Red Sox have roughly a 97.6% chance of winning the Wild Card, perhaps it’s time to divvy up the plaudits. Boston’s erstwhile GM, Dan Duquette, put together the bulk of this team. While that’s fairly ipso facto for an exec only 18 months or so removed from the job, it’s worth asking to what degree Duquette’s fingerprints are on this year’s model. One obvious way to do that is to take a cumulative, all-encompassing metric and see what percentage the Epstein-era acquisitions are contributing. Let’s first take a look at the offense using Value Over Replacement Player (VORP). Players traded for or signed by Epstein are indicated by an asterisk (*) following their names:
This probably happens to everyone. After I filed my column for Tuesday, I started to think I’d missed something, that there was one more thing I’d forgotten to look at. The next day, I had the same feeling, so when the column went up, I went back again and there it was, staring me in the face. I started this follow-up immediately, and considering the amount of e-mail I normally get I was stunned that I was able to dive into it a couple hours before a reader sent feedback that nailed the problem exactly: I found your latest Breaking Balls (“Cheaters”, in case it takes a week for you to get to this e-mail) quite interesting. But I also find your conclusion a little odd, especially considering the Red Sox splits at home with RISP. The reason for the drop-off is right in your article: “Some teams have supposedly gone to always using more complicated signs usually reserved for runner-on-second situations when facing the Sox.” Since RISP usually means a runner on second, teams will switch to the more complex signs. Anyone stealing signs would be more likely to screw up and relay the wrong pitch, or be unable to relay any information at all, either way one would expect a decrease in the hitter’s effectiveness. In fact, one could argue that Boston’s poor performance in those situations is evidence that they rely heavily on stealing signs. Not that I blame them, it’s not cheating after all.
With the White Sox eliminated, they’ll try to keep something positive working by giving Esteban Loaiza a couple shots at winning 20 games by pitching him twice this week on short rest. Word from the south side has the Sox with a quick hook, positive or negative, in his first start and letting him control his destiny for the last. Loaiza has been handled very well this season–another positive reflection on Don Cooper’s work.
I’m just stunned at the comeback of Jose Guillen. With a broken hamate, his swing looks unaltered and effective. He’s obviously subject to pain tolerance and immediate relapse, but the A’s have to like having a guy who can play under such circumstances. They’re also smart enough to let another team overpay for him. Is Jose Guillen this year’s Jeffrey Hammonds? Maybe.
The Padres are beginning to figure out how the pieces go together for 2004. As expected, Ryan Klesko will move to the outfield with Phil Nevin being a bit protected from diving injuries (we hope) at first base. With Brian Giles normally a left-fielder, the immediate thought is that Klesko would move to right, but with the new park showing some odd dimensions, the Pads will have an open mind when it comes to positioning their outfield.
One of the weird things about this gig is that people who aren’t familiar with BP or my work assume that I go to a lot of baseball games. I don’t, actually. While I love live baseball, I also love my Extra Innings package and the 10-15 games a night it brings into my home. Given a choice between attending one and watching 15, I often choose the lazier of two paths.
If anything, I’ve gotten worse about it with each passing season. I’ll have to make a greater effort next season, maybe set a goal of N games or to catch one game of each series.
Last night, however, I dragged my sorry ass down to Anaheim to catch the Angels/Mariners game with BP’s Jason Grady. I’d been wanting to see the Mariners, anyway (and will do so again today), because their repeat of 2002’s second-half fade is an interesting story that I’d like to cover. More on that tomorrow.