Sunday, December 19, 2010

ALL IN

My first reaction was that the Brewers gave away the farm to get Grienke.  Well -- they almost literally did.

I still believe that Alcides Escobar will turn into an All-Star caliber player.

What's the over/under on how many games the Brewers win in 2015?  Maybe 70?

I calculated the average WAR over past two seasons for the projected starters for the Cardinals, Brewers and Reds next season.


ST. LOUISMILWAUKEECINCINNATI
CMolina3.0Lucroy0.0Hernandez1.3
1BPujols8.2Fielder5.1Votto5.4
2BShumaker1.0Weeks2.5Phillips2.2
SSTheriot0.1Betancourt0.0Janish0.7
3BGreen0.0McGehee2.6Rolen4.4
LFHolliday5.3Braun5.5Gomes0.1
CFRasmus2.9Gomez0.5Stubbs2.9
RFBerkman2.3Hart2.5Bruce2.6
BENJay0.4Counsell1.4Hanigan1.8
SP1Carpenter4.5Grienke5.7Volquez0.4
SP2Wainwright6.3Gallardo2.9Arroyo2.3
SP3Garcia1.4Marcum2.6Cueto1.3
SP4Westbook0.0Wolf2.6Wood1.2
CLFranklin1.7Axford1.0Cordero1.1
36.834.827.4

This trade unquestionably makes the Brewers a contender in the NL Central.  That's not just beat writer talk. It doesn't make them the favorite, but it does put them right there.

OVERNIGHT PONDERINGS...

I wonder if any of the excitement expressed by players like Ryan Braun and Corey Hart has anything to do with the departure of Escobar.  I'm not saying he was disliked.  I'm just pointing out that I haven't heard anyone in the Brewers organization say that they are sorry to be losing him or what a great teammate he was, like you often hear when a player is traded away.

When Ron Roenicke was hired we heard about what a great communicator he is with players.  I wonder if this, or any experience he might have had in the past with other players with anxiety issues such as Grienke's, helped set Doug Melvin's mind at ease about making the trade.  I would think that Grienke would find it much more comfortable playing for someone like Roenicke than someone aloof like Ken Macha.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

MINOR VALUE

In his great blog MiLB Prospects, Matt Garrioch ranks the Top 2000 Minor League baseball players for 2011.  Yankees catcher Jesus Montero heads the list at #1.  Outfielder Mike Trout of the Angels is second.  Bryce Harper of the Nationals is third, and it goes from there.

At #9 - there's Brett Lawrie; the chip the Brewers cashed in for Shaun Marcum.  Any other Brewers in the top 10?  Hee, hee, hee - silly me.  How about in the top 20?  Let's see... nope.  In the top 50?  Looking, looking... no again.  How about the top 75?  Ummm... nope.  Top 100???  No again.  The top ranked Brewers minor league player is Jake Odorizzi who is ranked 124th among all minor league players in professional baseball.  Wow.  Given that there are 30 teams, you would expect on average that each team would have four or so players in the top 120.  The Brewers have none.

The top ten minor leaguers in the Brewers organization, per Garrioch's rakings are:

RankNamePOS
124Jake OdorizziP
135Scooter GennettSS
226Caleb GindlOF
296Kentrail DavisOF
323Cameron GarfieldC
372Jeremy JeffressP
394Hunter Morris1B
403Cutter DykstraOF
448Tyler ThornburgP
456James NelsonP

I created a graduated scale formula to assign a value to each player based only on his ranking.  The top player on the list was assigned a value of 50 points.  The 4th ranked player is valued at 40 points.  The 19th best player is at 30 points.  The 116th player gets 20 points, the 907th player gets 10 points, and so on down to the 2,000th player who gets about 6 points.  The values are obviously designed to drop off more rapidly at the top of the list than at the bottom - just like they would if you assigned points subjectively.

Using this formula, I calculated the total "value" of all of the minor league players in each organization.  The top 5 are:

TeamValue
New York Yankees1001
Boston Red Sox963
Cleveland Indians907
Tampa Bay Rays878
Seattle Mariners852

I guess there's more to the success of the Yankees and Red Sox than just money.

...and the bottom five:

TeamValue
LA Dodgers592
Florida Marlins551
Milwaukee Brewers545
Detroit Tigers536
Chicago White Sox528

How the mighty have fallen. The Brewers minor league system, which but a few years ago was the envy of all of baseball has fallen nearly to the bottom of all Major League teams.  Only the Tigers and White Sox have more poorly stocked minor league systems.

And isn't it interesting to see Seattle in the top five?  Don't we know their GM somehow?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

HOME COOKING

Yesterday in my post about the Shaun Marcum trade, I commented how I felt that hometown players tend to be overrated and thus, to the Brewers benefit,  the Toronto Blue Jays over spent for Brett Lawrie.  In the comments, Kyle offered a very compelling rebuttal:

"Being a MN resident Brewer fan I disagree. The money and fandom brought in by Joe Mauer is probably well calculated by the team. They get way more tickets and merchandise with Mauer here. That Mauer value is useless to all other teams besides the Twins but if I own Joe Mauer and am not the Twins I am going to attempt to extract that value when trading him and if I am the Twins I will put it in the equation."
That's keen analysis.  Perhaps there is some collateral benefit of having home town players on your team.  I'm guessing that the Brewers sold more Craig Counsell t-shirts than Joe Inglett t-shirts last year.  Did they sell any more tickets?  Perhaps to his friends.  But still, I can buy into what Kyle is saying.

So then, how large must this collateral benefit be in order to offset - if I'm right - the lesser quality of play that a team is willing to accept from a home town player, compared to a comparable replacement player that they could instead have?  In order to answer that, I must know the difference in the quality of play.

I created a database of every U.S. born hitter who played in the Major Leagues from 1961 to present - the "expansion era".  The list includes over 43,000 seasons and over 2 million games played.  Then I flagged each season as to whether the player was playing for a team in the same state in which he was born.  Here are the compiled results:


BASLGOBPOPSBB/K
Playing at home
0.262
0.403
0.331
0.733
0.62
Playing away
0.258
0.396
0.324
0.719
0.57

I guess I was wrong.  Players who play for teams in their home state actually play a bit better than those playing away from home.  The differences are not large, but with as large a sample size as we have, they are real.  I'm surprised by that.

In my tally, 11% of the games played were by home-state players.  That strikes me as much higher than what you would expect if players were distributed randomly.  There is an apparent concerted effort by teams to acquire locally born players.  I guess we already knew that.

There might be a bit of selection bias in the data.  For example, Cal Ripken played his entire career in his home state.  All of his stats are included in the "Playing at home" row.  Barry Bonds was born in California.  But those two players combined make up less than 3% of that whole row.  There are some good players on the other side too. I don't think the differences would be enough to sway the findings.

I don't know if the same holds true for pitchers.  If I get curious enough, I'll figure it out.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

MARCUM DOWN AS AN ACE



2010WLERAIPHHRBBKWAR
Gallardo
14
7
3.84
185
178
12
75
200
2.1
Marcum
13
8
3.64
195
181
24
43
165
3.8

Dare I say that Shawn Marcum is every bit as good as Yovani Gallardo?  Perhaps a bit better.  Would you trade away Brett Lawrie to get Yovani Gallardo?  Or put it another way - which of the two would you rather loose?  Case closed.  This is a solid trade.

Of course Gallardo has a bigger up side in that he is four years younger.

When the Brewers sign Craig Counsell again and everyone drools all over themselves, I'm going to write a blog post about how I think teams grossly overrate locally born players - as if playing close to where you were born somehow makes you magically better.  I think the Blue Jays fell into this trap and overpaid for Lawrie.

Over his career, despite being right handed, Marcum has pitched much better against lefties than against righties.

Marcum has pitched over 110 pitches in a game only four times in his career (once each in '06, '07, '08 and '10).  In the next game after his 110+ pitch outings his stats were:

IPHitsER
3.153
3.198
122
4107

That's and ERA of 15.43.  I hope someone tells Ron Roenicke this.  Marcum's ability to pitch deep into ballgames will be the same as his ability to record a lot of outs with 100 pitches.

If you look for a down side to Marcum, you will notice that his BAbip's over his last three seasons have been .269, .246, and .280 - well below the norm of .300 and well below Gallardo's .331 last season.  Regression to the mean and a much below average Brewers' defense will be working against him.  But then we don't have the Yankees and Red Sox in our division either.  Marcum is 6-1 with a 3.34 ERA in 10 starts against the National League in his career.

 
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