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Yesterday’s article on pitcher stress
inspired a lot of great responses,
more than I can possibly cover here. The main thrust of many of them,
though, is a point I want to emphasize: we actually don’t know what kind of
stress an individual pitcher feels in an individual situation. What we were
measuring was innings pitched in close games, and while the data is
interesting, to extrapolate too much from it would be folly.

I’d once again like to thank everyone for their interesting feedback. While
I can’t reply to every e-mail, I do read and consider each and every one,
and often bounce them off the rest of the BP group for their input. This is
why many of them don’t speak to me, by the way.

Anyway, while I was reading a bunch of e-mail, the National League West got
a lot more interesting. The Diamondbacks picked up Curt Schilling
from the Phillies and the Dodgers reacquired Ismael Valdes from the
Cubs. While the Schilling deal got a lot more press (for an analysis of the
Phillies’ side, see Jeff Hildebrand’s
NL East Notebook)
the Dodgers helped
themselves significantly as well, and at a much lower price, acquiring
Valdes for journeyman Jamie Arnold and non-prospect Jorge
Piedra
.

The moves don’t exactly cancel each other out, as Schilling is a better
pitcher than Valdes, but the difference between them over two months is
probably much less than people realize. Here are their
Support-Neutral Wins
above Replacement
for the past three years:

                1998     1999     2000

Ismael Valdes 1.89 2.63 1.24 Curt Schilling 5.80 4.25 2.46

Schilling has a reputation as a horse, while Valdes as a reputation as a
head case who never reached his potential. The enormous workload Schilling
has carried has definitely had an impact, though. His performance has
declined since his big 1998 and he’s missed parts of the last two seasons to
shoulder damage.

Given the relative cost, the Dodgers probably made a better deal, but it’s
hard to argue with what the D’backs are doing. They have a very old team
with a narrow window for success, and really have to pull out all the stops
while their core players are still playing well. They didn’t give up anyone
who was going to contribute to their 2000 campaign, and all four players
dealt leave with at least some doubt about their ability to contribute in
the future. It’s a short-sighted move, but remember: flags fly forever.

The real advantage for Arizona will come in the postseason, should they
advance that far. The prospect of facing Schilling and Randy Johnson
three or four times in a five-game series and up to five times in a
seven-game series should send chills through fans of the Braves and
Cardinals.

One final note: those of you who play roto and other fantasy baseball games
are encouraged to visit
RotoNews. In addition to their typically excellent
material, there’s an article by one of the better-looking members of the BP
staff on
late-season strategy.

Joe Sheehan can be reached at jsheehan@baseballprospectus.com.

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