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Nice guy.  Have some blogs.  Do baseball research.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Your catcher should not be one of your better hitters.

Yogi Berra transitioned to OF
Wikimedia Commons
Conventional wisdom in recent years has been that a team has an advantage if it has good offensive production from a defensive position, generally one up the middle: catcher, shortstop, second base, center field.  The Yankees since 1996 are used as an example: Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Bernie Williams.

However, that only helps if the team has big boppers at the corners, otherwise it's just shifting it's offense.

I now think that it's a mistake to pay too much money to a catcher.  The Jorge Posada model is outdated.

Data derived from baseball-reference.com

Tuesday, November 26, 2013  Brian McCann: is he worth $17 million for each of the next five years?

My general view is that you don't want one of your better hitters to be your catcher because you will over pay for a player who will get hurt or will be rested to prevent him from being hurt even more than he is rested.  I think that the optimal thing is to have two catchers of about equal value and have them split the catching duties.

Here are the catchers to simply play enough to qualify for leadership in averages, which is only 502 plate appearances (PA) in order by OPS+:


201120122013
AvilaPoseyMauer
SantanaMauerPosey
MolinaMolinaSantana
McCannMonteroMolina
MonteroSantanaLucroy
WietersPierzynskiPerez
SuzukiEllisMartin
BuckWietersPierzynski
OlivoWieters

No more than nine in any season and only three qualified each of the three seasons:
Yadier Molina  StL
Carlos Santana Cle
Matt Wieters Bal
_____________________________________

I decided to look at the other fielding positions.


Pos201120122013
G
C98950%
1B20192250%
2B18201750%
SS18161750%
3B11172050%
LF1411875%
CF19181375%
RF20151675%

I used the baseball-reference.com default of 50% of games at the position but I noticed some overlap among the outfielders so I ran those numbers again using 75%.

With the lone exception of left filed in 2013 for the last three seasons catchers have by far the fewest plate appearances (PA) and games.

Using common sense we can figure that a player will have four (PA) per game.  If we divide the required 502 PA by four we get 112 games needed to qualify for leading in batting average, etc.  That's a very low threshold.  It's only 69% of the 162 scheduled games.

That actually fits well with my suggestion that teams use two catchers.  The ideal would be one catcher who hits lefty getting 70% of the games and another catcher who hits righty getting the remaining 30%.

The problem is that teams are paying full time salaries for part time players.  For $17 million the Yankees can get a really good full time player or a really good starting pitcher.  The Giants will be paying Buster Posey $21 million per season as he ages.  The Twins have been paying Joe Mauer $23 million and Mauer will transition to first base in 2014 and get that same pay for several more years.  It's nuts.

Supposedly teams pay about 40% of their payroll to pitchers, 60% to non-pitchers.  If the Yankees get their 2014 payroll down from $246 million to $180 million in 2014 then 60% of that would be $108 million for non-pitchers.  Let's divide that by nine to allow for substitutes.  We get $12 million per player.

So if the Yankees pay Brian McCann $17 million, then they will need to pay significantly less to at least one other position.  The Yankees already have these commitments:
Cano?

And more.  Obviously paying a lot for a 30 year old catcher who has not had those 502 PA since 2011 is silly but it's silly for all teams, even for a young catcher who will age quickly.  In addition, teams are becoming much more concerned about concussions, especially for catchers who absorb most of that type of physical abuse in baseball.


On August 19 Joe Mauer got a single and double in four at bats against the Mets in Minneapolis.  Mauer caught the entire game.  He had 508 plate appearances (PA), more than the 502 required to lead a "league" in an average statistic like batting average (BA).  Mauer's BA was .324.  Mauer's BA is still .324.  That's because Joe Mauer has not played since August 19 and will not play again this season...

In that final game against the Mets Joe Mauer was hit in the head twice by foul balls.  Mauer sustained a concussion.

Austin Romine of the Yankees had his season end the same way but since he is not among the leaders in any batting stat most fans are not aware of his fate.
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Friday, November 29, 2013

Waiting for Godot and Cano.

Baltimore September 9, 2012
By Keith Allison (Flickr: Robinson Cano)
[CC-BY-SA-2.0
(creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]
via Wikimedia Commons
Robinson Cano, when will you know?

Come on, man.  Get off the dime.  Make a decision.  Remain a Yankee or walk?  Can you talk?

If the Yankees drop out of the bidding, Cano will have even less leverage than he does now, which is very little.  Cano has been seduced by some sort of glitter machine and is receiving bad advice.  Very bad advice.

Cano should have signed a new contract before the 2013 season.  Now that he is a free agent and can sign with any team Cano must realize that there are few if any teams other than the Yankees willing to pay boat loads of money for a second baseman, even one as talented as Cano.

Status:
- Cano wants $310 million for ten years
- Yankees offered $160 million for seven years.

Cano is 31 and already the highest paid second baseman of all time.  He wants to be paid double what any second baseman is paid in the next ten years.  The Yankees are offering Cano a 50 percent raise.  Cano wants more than a 100 percent raise.

So far no other team seems seriously interested in Cano, certainly not at Cano's price and not even at the Yankee price.  Once again the Yankees seem to be bidding against themselves.  If Cano cannot get much more from another team, why leave the Yankees?  Cano's position makes no sense.

The Yanks need to set a firm deadline and stick to it.  Cano needs to get his head on straight.

Thursday, July 11, 2013  Cano isn't worth a huge contract.

Thursday, November 14, 2013  Robinson Cano, where can you go?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013  Robinson Cano: is he worth twice his peers?

Thursday, November 21, 2013  Robinson Cano now has somewhere he can you go deep in the heart of Texas.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Should the Detroit Tigers have been punished for the conduct of Jhonny Peralta? Should the team have taken responsibility?

Jhonny Peralta was punished then rewarded.  But his team, the Detroit Tigers, was never punished.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013  Jhonny Peralta: will vigilante players punish him?

Jhonny Peralta ... served a 50 game suspension during the 2013 season and lost $1.6 of his $6 million salary.  Peralta has just signed a free agent deal with the St. Louis Cardinals for fours years $53 million ...

It looks like Peralta made a good business decision. 
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Sunday, August 19, 2012  Melky Cabrera: should his stats be purged and his team's wins vacated?

Melky Cabrera was suspended 50 games by the Major Baseball League (MBL) ...

What about the record of Melky's team?  Without Melky the Giants would probably have won fewer games.  Shouldn't the Giants wins with Melky playing be vacated the way the NCAA does with rules violations in football?  And shouldn't the Giants be banned from the MBL tournament for a couple of seasons?
__________________________________

Melky Cabrera was rewarded with a two year $16 million contract from the Toronto Blue Jays.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009  Black Sox: some thoughts.

Why don't we apply the commissioner Landis standard, which seems to be that of the U.S. military academy honor code:

"A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do."
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Thursday, January 10, 2013  Honor Code: a player will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.

Fans should call for an honor code for Major Baseball League (MBL) players ...

Golfers call penalties on themselves.

Tennis players in juniors call the lines.

Instead of faking being hit by a pitch, +Derek Jeter would decline first base if the umpire mistakenly ruled HBP.  How refreshing would that be?
__________________________________

It's clear that the contract that Peralta signed with the St. Louis Cardinals struck a nerve: cheating pays.  Arizona relief pitcher Brad Ziegler was among those players complaining and asking for stiffer penalties for players.  However, no one is asking for any penalties for others who also benefit: teammates and team management and ownership.  When those others share the punishment then the situation will change, but not before.

I've been recommending an honor code for some time.  About a year ago I was on the war path about this regarding the hypocrisy of Hall of Fame voting.

Now let's consider this in terms of the 2013 season and the obvious lack of interest in this by current commissioner Allen Huber "Bud" Selig.  Selig has not called for an honor code.  I do not know if there is even a corporate code of conduct.

The 2013 team that is analogous to the 2012 Giants is the Detroit Tigers who had the only significant player to serve a suspension and make the tournament.  Tiger Jhonny Peralta served a 50 game suspension for using performance enhancing drugs (PED), which may include steroids.  If that is to be taken literally, the performance of Peralta was enhanced and the Tigers benefited.  That includes individuals like staring pitcher Max Scherzer who won the Cy Young award as best pitcher.  Scherzer won 21 and lost 3.  How many of those wins were due to the enhanced performance of Peralta?

1. Why don't the players suggest that there be an honor code that would also apply to management and ownership?
2. During the period before that occurs, why don't people who want to change the corporate culture of baseball implement such a code for themselves.

Friday, January 11, 2013  Honor code: "not ... tolerate those who do (lie, cheat, steal)".

For those concerned about "clean" players, consider that they benefited from the improved performance of teammates who used steroids, etc.  Why shouldn't players turn in teammates who violated the honor code?  That's how an honor code works.

Most organizations have a code of conduct.  If a member steals, that person would be fired.  If another knew about the stealing and did not report it, that person would also be fired...

teammates of cheaters did benefit, at least those who played different positions and did not directly lose playing time.  Should the cheaters return playoff money earned?  If so, what about their teammates?

And cheating is more than using steroids.  Cheating includes:
- faking being hit by a pitch
- faking catching a fly ball
- faking tagging a runner
- pitcher intentionally hitting a batter with a pitch
- messing with the bat or ball.

With an honor code teammates must report all violations.  Otherwise, what's all the fuss?
_______________________________________________

Mike Ilitch owns the Tigers.  In the absence of leadership by Commissioner Selig, after Peralta was suspended should Ilitch have asked that the league disqualify the Detroit Tigers from the 2013 tournament?  What a powerful message that would have been. An owner taking responsibility and imposing punishment on his own team, including himself.

With the type of honor code that I am recommending, players would be honor bound to report teammates who are engaging in any form of cheating.  So would the following: coaches, managers, general managers, team presidents and owners.

Monday, April 1, 2013  Melky and Buster, an odd couple. And is that TV money guaranteed?

Lest we forget that in 2012 Melky Cabrera had the highest batting average (BA) in the Major Baseball League (MBL).  This despite being suspended for the remainder of the season for violating MBL drug rules ...

Melky's agent last season, to mitigate Melky's suspension on his free agent status, had Melky issue a statement asking not be considered for the honor of leadership in BA.  It's not an honor, it's a stat.  What, you forgot how moronic it was? ...

MBL commissioner Bud Selig was urged by me to vacate Giant wins in games won with Melky playing.  He did not.  I also urged that at the very least the All-Star win be vacated.  It was not.

Instead Melky was banished, to take the brunt of the punishment for his transgression while his team and conference benefited from his rule breaking.

Buster Posey, through no fault of his own, benefited individually from his Giant teammate depriving himself of recognition as conference and MBL leader in BA.  Posey was voted conference MVP.  Leading in BA could only have enhanced Posey's credentials.
________________________________________________

Obviously, teammates and teams can benefit from a player violating the PED rules.  In fact there is no down side for the team.  The team benefits while the player's performance is enhanced.  The team suffers during a suspension but only if the player is caught and let's remember that while Cabrera was caught by a failed drug test in 2012 neither Peralta nor any of the other suspended players in 2013 failed a drug test, including Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez.  They were implicated because of a dispute between two sleazy men involved in that Florida clinic.

If the suspension of Alex Rodriguez is upheld or if Peralta fails a future drug test they are not paid during their suspension and that money does not count against the salary cap for purposes of computing the luxury tax penalty.  That greatly benefits the team.

As a practical matter teams should want their players to enhance performance any way possible, including use of PED.  The only reason to oppose that would be on moral grounds and so far no one has given any indication that they are willing to behave in any manner that is not expedient.  They support the PED policy and condemn offenders but do little or nothing to take responsibility themselves.  Has anyone resigned in disgrace saying that he should have known or done a better job of oversight?  Not even close.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Jhonny Peralta: will vigilante players punish him?

By Keith Allison on Flickr 2011
creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0
via Wikimedia Commons
Jhonny Peralta paid his debt to his society, the Major Baseball League (MBL).  Peralta served a 50 game suspension during the 2013 season and lost $1.6 of his $6 million salary.  Peralta has just signed a free agent deal with the St. Louis Cardinals for fours years $53 million:
2014 $15.5
2015 $15
2016 $12.5
2017 $10.

It looks like Peralta made a good business decision.  He lost $1.6 million but performed well enough to more than make up for that.  Maybe Peralta would have performed that well without performance enhancing drugs (PED), which may have included steroids.  Maybe not.  The gamble paid off for Peralta.

This was the sentiment of multiple MBL players who expressed themselves in no more than 140 characters at twitter.com, the preferred mouth running service of twits everywhere.  Clearly, the players have turned on each other and they can never go back to the solidarity that brought them both financial success and pervasive use of PED.

One of those objecting players is 33 year old Brad Ziegler who pitched 73 innings in 78 games in 2013 for Arizona.  I know.  I looked it up.  I had to.  Never heard of him.  Ziegler was paid $3.1 million in 2013.  For 73 innings.  Ziegler is arbitration eligible in 2014.  Ziegler is concerned that Peralta will be getting paid too much.  Go figure.

Two or more decades ago when players refused to play or were locked out by owners during disputes, some players chose to break with their fellow players and crossed the symbolic picket line.  Those players were ostracized, not only by the other players but also by owners in some cases.  Team management did not want disloyal players.

So who will be considered disloyal now?  Jhonny Peralta or the players who are mouthing off that his situation is unfair?  Will vigilante justice rear its ugly head as it did with virtual impunity during the season?

Monday, August 19, 2013  Coward Ryan Dempster should be suspended 211 games for deliberately hitting Alex Rodriguez.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013  Vigilantism: so is it OK or not? Selig procrastinates.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013  Coward Ryan Dempster suspended: too little, too late.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013  The Dempster hits Rodriguez game: let's give people grades.

Dempster's grade is obvious.  His conduct was unprovoked, cowardly and utterly reprehensible.  F.
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Jhonny Peralta will probably not get much if any rough treatment from the other players and very little from the fans.  I doubt even Ziegler will throw at Peralta, Dempster style.   Peralta and Nelson Cruz are the only two name players among the dirty dozen who copped pleas and served their 50 game suspensions without appealing.  Both Peralta and Cruz were treated like returning heroes by their home town fans after their suspensions had been served.

Right or wrong, Alex Rodriguez was the only suspended player who stood up for himself and fought back.  His appeal is still ongoing.  Rodriguez has an air about him that irritates some people and his huge Yankee contract magnifies that.  Peralta seems more like a working guy ... now working on a $53 million contract.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Biggest bad guys 2013.

Ian Kennedy: head hunter

Alex Rodriguez: unpunished doper

Ryan Dempster: vigilante

Jhonny Peralta: punished doper who cashed in big

Brian McCann: asshole enforcer of unwritten baseball protocol

Carlos Gomez: violator of unwritten baseball protocol

Paul Maholm: Gomez tormentor and instigator

I'm sure there are other worthy candidates but these are a few who easily come to mind.

Brian McCann: is he worth $17 million for each of the next five years?

Brian McCann 2007
By User Chrisjnelson
[Public domain]
via Wikimedia Commons
The deed seems to be done.  Supposedly the New York Yankees have signed free agent catcher Brian McCann for $17 million for each of the next five years; that's $85 million total.  McCann inspired me to develop a new criteria I hadn't realized existed and which McCann immediately failed:

Monday, November 25, 2013  Brian McCann is an asshole and Yanks should not sign him.

This post will evaluate McCann mostly by his hitting but I just saw something on MLB Network Clubhouse Confidential TV program:

Catcher pitch framing runs above average:
Jose Molina 33 Tam
Yadier Molina  28 StL
Alex Avila 27 Det
Derek Norris 24 Oak
Brian McCann 22 Atl

I don't know how this was determined or what to do with it but I thought I'd share in case it's relevant like best first basemen at fooling the umpire by leaving the base early on a close force out of the batter.  What a disgrace.  Eliminate the primordial catcher and determine strikes by hitting a fixed target like a bull's eye.  Geez.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013  Protect Joe Mauer from himself: eliminate the catching position.

In addition to most of the catchers mentioned above let's compare McCann to these:
Buster Posey SF
Joe Mauer Min
Carlos Santana Cle
Jonathan Lucroy Mil
Salvador Perez KCR
Russell Martin Pit
Matt Wieters Bal
Miguel Montero Ari

My general view is that you don't want one of your better hitters to be your catcher because you will over pay for a player who will get hurt or will be rested to prevent him from being hurt even more than he is rested.  I think that the optimal thing is to have two catchers of about equal value and have them split the catching duties.

Here are the catchers to simply play enough to qualify for leadership in averages, which is only 502 plate appearances (PA) in order by OPS+:


201120122013
AvilaPoseyMauer
SantanaMauerPosey
MolinaMolinaSantana
McCannMonteroMolina
MonteroSantanaLucroy
WietersPierzynskiPerez
SuzukiEllisMartin
BuckWietersPierzynski
OlivoWieters

No more than nine in any season and only three qualified each of the three seasons:
Yadier Molina  StL
Carlos Santana Cle
Matt Wieters Bal

McCann only in 2011.  In 2012 McCann was injured and lousy.  In 2013 McCann was less injured and less lousy.  That's what the New York Yankees will be paying $17 million for each of the next five years.

Hall of Fame third baseman George Brett qualified for BA in 1980 with 515 PA in only 117 games.  That helped him get credited with a .390 BA.  It's a pretty low threshold and look how few catchers can do it over a three year period: only three.  The Yankees will be lucky if McCann catches 120 games in any of the next five $17 million seasons.  At DH or first base McCann would be ridiculously overpaid.

The Yankees were also probably doing what they do best in these situations: bidding against themselves.  How many other teams, if any, would not have noticed that McCann was trending down and that he will 30 in 2014?

OPS+
AgeCatcher200520062007200820092010201120122013
29McCann1439913511912412287115
30Molina7053859610084124137131
26Avila781429987
26Posey133116171138
30Mauer107144118134171140102140144
27Santana126121137
27Lucroy 90132114
23Perez105
30Martin10111610888869591100
27Wieters9011010788
29Montero11310212112383

Money in millions
AgeCatcher20112012201320142015201620172018201920202021
29McCann6.711.512.017.017.017.017.017.0
30Molina5.37.014.015.015.014.014.0
26Avila0.40.53.0
26Posey0.60.68.012.516.520.021.421.421.421.421.4
30Mauer23.023.023.023.023.023.023.023.0
27Santana0.40.50.53.56.08.3
27Lucroy 0.40.50.82.03.04.0
23Perez0.81.01.51.82.0
30Martin4.07.56.58.5
27Wieters0.40.55.5
29Montero3.25.9101012.21414

Maybe Joe Mauer didn't give Minnesota as much of a home town discount as people thought.  Both Mauer and Buster Posey will be making plenty for many years.  McCann will continue to be paid more than Yadier Molina.  Who thinks that makes sense?  Mauer will move to first base in 2014 because of general wear and tear from catching plus a concussion, which ended his 2013 season on August 19.

To top it off it's my understanding that the Yankees gave McCann a complete no trade clause so they won't even be able to dump him after a couple of years in a sort of Ian Kinsler for Prince Fielder you take my unwanted overpaid player and I'll take yours and somehow that will make sense.

At least former Yankee manager and current Baltimore manager Buck Showalter can relax.  It doesn't look like the Yankees will be going after his catcher Matt Wieters any time soon as Showalter had feared if Alex Rodriguez loses his suspension appeal and his salary does not count against the Yankee team payroll.