310ToJoba: December 2009 Archives

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The Best Laid Plans Of Mice and Theo Epstein...

What looked like another smooth move for the Boston Red Sox has hit a major hindrance. The team was all set to unload the overpaid Mike Lowell to the Rangers, but were informed just yesterday that the deal is off because Lowell has an ouchie in his handspot.

Mike Lowell will have surgery to repair a ligament in his right thumb and need six to eight weeks to recover, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. The diagnosis negates--or at least postpones indefinitely--a trade that would have sent the 2007 World Series MVP to the Texas Rangers.

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Lowell is owed $12 million in 2010, the final season of a $37.5 million, three-year contract, and the Red Sox had agreed to pay as much as $9 million of it.

What's up, deal-killing creampuff? In truth, there's nothing to say this deal still can't happen, but it could definitely be axed for good if the Rangers, who are on a limited budget, pursue a free-agent option in that same 6-8 weeks to achieve short-term peace of mind. More importantly though, this might officially put the skids on any potential Adrian Gonzalez trade.

Agents, Players Could Use A Lesson In Economics

Both Joe Urbon (Jason Bay's agent) and Scott Boras (Johnny Damon's agent) apparently realized a bit too late that teams actually are affected by such things as the Xxxxxtreme Recession. Scott Boras being greedy and overzealous? Oh say it ain't so! As a result of these agents' overvaluation of their clients, the two left-fielders currently have no home.

Do you expect a team to eventually cave to either of these player's demands, or do you think that the organizations will win the "hostage situation" and attain the players' valuable services at a nice discount rate?

Your Weekend Writer Still Needs Your Help!

Remember this post? You probably do because that vauge link suckered you into a click. As it turns out I'm still looking for slave labor volunteers to put together a list of players who finished low in MVP races despite having strong WARs. If we can find enough undervalued guys, I was going to do a followup post on this here blog, tentative title: "WAR, What Is It Good For". If you had a player in mind, just leave his name in the comments of the afore-linked post. Thanks!

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Clever WoWies, I think it's high time we, as fans of baseball who appreciate nice, simple things, come up with a nickname for the Mariners GM. This would accomplish two things. First, it would probably save us the trouble of learning how to spell his last name whenever we talk about him. Going hand in hand with this first objective, is the fact that we probably should be talking about him quite a bit, because over the last two years it has become readily apparent the guy knows how to run a good organization.

He's been indirectly lauded through two pieces about players in whom Zduriencik recognized value where others did not. This, when coupled with his bonanza of offseason activity in recent days, including acquiring a Cy Young winner for a song, and fixing one of Bill Bavasi's biggest mistakes while landing a bat that could still have an impact if used properly, reveals that Zduriencik is not one to sit on his hands and hope for the Angels' egregious amount of Pythagorean record luck to run out. Rather, he's out to get them, and has already positioned his team as not only the favorite in the AL West but also the hearts and minds of adventurous gamblers.

Should we be surprised by all the outpouring of love for the M's front-office man? In truth, no. In digging around Wikipedia (WHICH DESPITE WHAT MY PROFESSORS SAY IS NEVER WRONG, EVER), I discovered some things I hadn't known before. Namely, the man's baseball experience is extensive to say the least. The Mariners are his fifth team, and he has had success in a plethora of different roles around Major League Baseball as a scout and executive. He owns the distinction of being both the first (and only) man to win the Executive of the Year award (in 2007) without being a GM, and he is also the first person in baseball history who was apparently not adversely affected by an affiliation with the Mets. In short, if anybody knows baseball, it would probably be this guy.

He deserves a nickname, and we're going to give it to him. Just look at him, momma always told me never to mess with a bald guy who wears glasses for a reason, I suppose. Let's give this guy a place in HTML history that will remembered forever and ever.

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It pains me to no end to compliment Boston's Boy Wonder of a GM, but when he goes out and follows my advice and signs the under-appreciated Mike Cameron, it's hard for me not to give credit where credit is due for an intelligent move. Now the only question is, can Theo Epstein follow through and improve his team even more?

As always, there are reports of the Red Sox being interested in Adrian Gonzalez. You'd have thought with all the interest they're expressing for A-Gon, that the deal would already be in place, but Theo is allegedly balking at the asking price of Clay Buchholz and Jacoby Ellsbury. To the untrained eye, this hesitancy makes total sense. After all, while Buchholz is a bit more expendable because of the signing of John Lackey, Ellsbury had himself one heck of a year: .301 AVG, 114 wRC+ and 70 stolen bases. That isn't the type of player you part ways with on a routine basis, especially considering his age. And yet, Ellsbury only posted a 1.9 WAR last year, a result of some utterly horrendous defense.

Cameron on the other hand has boasted WAR above 4 each of the past two seasons, a more than adequate replacement for the departed Native American. Plus, the Red Sox would be getting Adrian Gonzalez, an often unheralded, yet supremely effective run producer during the latter years of this past decade. Cameron could serve as an adequate short term stop-gap while allowing the Red Sox to bolster their lineup and still have an effective defensive club in 2010. With players like David DeJesus and Carl Crawford entering their primes and looming in 2011 free agency, and with Josh Reddick among others regarded as a viable prospect for CF, the Sox could just as easily reload for the long term in the outfield and not ever have to to think twice about missing Jacoby Ellsbury.

So if you're Theo Epstein, do you pull the trigger on this supposed trade to get A-Gon?



As I note with a bit more substance in this post from that other dark corner of the Internet I usually hang out at while in my mom's basement, I am extremely enthused about Peter Gammons' move to the MLB Network. His Red Sox homerism aside, the move makes me reminisce of the glory days of Baseball Tonight before ESPN wholly jumped the shark with its baseball coverage. Gammons and Reynolds reunited? What shall a man do to celebrate? The above musical tribute, you say? Where did I leave my air guitar?!

Down Ballot Fun From Days Of Yore

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Award season (and the endless debates that go with it) is seemingly all but out of the baseball world's system. We are officially in free agency now. Get your alliterative pants on! However, before you do, let's call on this year's MVP award one last time for a little bit of interactive fun, shall we?

Joe Mauer was the first catcher to win the MVP in quite awhile. You'd have to go back a whole decade to 1999 and Ivan Rodriguez to find another man of his trade being honored with the accolade. Pudge had himself quite the year in 1999: .332 AVG, 35HR, 113RBI, wOBA of .388 and a 6.0 WAR. That's good stuff right there, especially from a position as demanding as catcher.

Why do I bring this up? Well let's take a gander at the balloting for that year. Here is the top 5 in order: 1.) Pudge, 2.) Pedro Martinez, 3.) Roberto Alomar, 4.) Manny Ramirez, 5.) Rafael Palmeiro.

That is quite arguably one of the most loaded Top 5's in MVP voting history. Or the one that has far too many Spanish-Speaking guys, depending on how racist you're feeling. Pedro was so frighteningly good that year, you could argue he belonged in the top spot. But we're not here for Pedro. Rather, we're here to consider the 4th spot, Manny Ramirez. You see, Manny (then on the Indians) had nothing short of a monstrous year himself: .333 AVG, 44HR, 165 RBI, .457 wOBA and an 8.0 WAR.

The point of this post isn't to try and argue that Manny got robbed. Far from it. The vagaries of positional relativism also make this debate impossible (ahem, Pedro). I don't even want to argue that the above order is incorrect, because, in truth, the subjectivity of the award is well-documented, as is the absence of the use of advanced metrics throughout history. Rather, it just blows my mind that Manny Ramirez had the year that he had and finished fourth. An 8.0 WAR player!

This is where you come in, folks. Can you find another player who was that valuable from a WAR standpoint but finished fourth or lower in an MVP race? I would claim, that this phenomenon has never occurred before, but prove me wrong! This fine site offers a WAR index from days of yore, so I would advise you to look there. A word of clarification: The WAR formula they use is slightly different from the one at sites like Fangraphs, so for the sake of consistency, I would limit it to one index or the other, depending on which year you're looking at.

Now go forth and have fun, you little nerds in training!