Monday, December 27, 2004

       G   AB  H  2B  3B  HR  SO  BB  SB  CS  AVG  OBP  SLG  OPS+  EqA  ZR(2B)

2004 148 577 171 22 17 5 94 49 34 13 296 350 419 101 .254 .808(6)
Car. 148 524 154 20 13 3 87 44 31 13 294 346 402 98 .261 .873
Pro. 100 371 109 15 9 3 59 32 21 9 294 348 404 99
What will happen to The Legs when Adam Kennedy returns from injury? Your guess is as good as mine.

Figgins settled in pretty well to a starting role last season, at least with the bat. His OBP and SLG continued to climb, and he stole a career-high in bases with his highest success percentage to boot. He was about as good an offensive player as Adam Kennedy last year, maybe a bit better with the stolen bases accounted for.

But Figgins' main problem is one of position. Where will he play? Obviously, he will play second until Kennedy returns. But what happens then is unknown. It is unlikely that a healthy Kennedy would lose his job to Figgins for the simple reason that teams generally don't like to displace injured starters upon their return without even giving them a chance. And as Kennedy is about as good a hitter and a better fielder, it is hard to see Kennedy losing his job through poor play, unless the knee injury proves debilitating.

The quality of Figgins' defense is something of a wild card. He was passable at his time at second last year, and had been excellent in prior years. However, all of those marks come in small sample sizes, so I would be wary of trusting his defensive numbers too religiously. The Legs often struggled at third last year, and has raw talent but poor instincts in center.

I think the problem is that he is moved around so often -- which is valuable -- that he never attains familiarity with and a comfort level for any one position. Second base was his natural position, but he seemed out of sorts when he returned to it in September, almost certainly because he hadn't played there in awhile. And he did seem to improve at the hot corner as his time there moved on. I happen to believe that he would be at least an average defender at most positions, if he were only given the opportunity to play one position and stick with it.

My endorsement would have been for him to move to short; he has superior raw tools to David Eckstein, and Eck fared quite well at short. But that possibility has been removed, and unless injuries have haunted the club prior to Kennedy's return (a fat chance, I know) Chone will find himself without a starting role.

Even as a supersub, Figgins is likely to get a few starts a week. What I would like to see, upon Kennedy's return, is a platoon arrangement at second base:


Legs A.K.
vs. RHP 738 754
vs. LHP 768 662
Yes, Adam is a better defender, but the difference shouldn't be so great that the Angel defense will suffer tremendously when they are facing a southpaw. And Figgins, if he continues his improvement, will break his way into the lineup on other days to stay fresh.

Now, there is always the possibility that The Legs will be so outstanding that Kennedy will be the man without a spot when he returns. If Figgins can maintain his offense and be an equal hitter to Kennedy, and if his defense improves upon getting more reps at the keystone, the Angels would be faced with a cheaper, almost-as-good player as an alternative to their veteran. Of course, if you wanted to move Kennedy, you'd have to play him to demonstrate that he's healthy, so who knows ...

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

I really don't have anything else to say about The OC. And it's the holiday season, so I'm feeling charitable ...

... I'll try this again: Have a great Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 20, 2004

Um, where the hell did this come from? What the hell are we going to do with Figgins when Kennedy comes back? Figgins, I believe, would be a good defensive shorstop if given the time and training to develop; the only problem with Figgins' defense is he moves around from position to position and never gets settled.

So, instead of teaching Figgins short -- and he has more physical tools for short than Eckstein does, and Eckstein is a very good defender -- and putting Eck at second until Kennedy returns, they tie up the shortstop job for four years, blocking out one of Kennedy and Figgins, either of which is a good bet to outproduce Cabrera at the plate for the next four seasons.

Don't believe me? Adam Kennedy has a career OPS+ of 91, which actually understates his value, as since he's hit is prime he's been a league average hitter practically every year.

Cabrera's career high in OPS+ is 95, and his career mark is 83. Also, Kennedy is a year younger than The OC.

Then, over here, we have Legs Figgins, younger than both of them, who was as good a hitter as Kennedy last season. While Cabrera is due to make $8M a year over this deal, Kennedy makes under $3M per year. Figgins makes under a million.

Kennedy and Figgins were -1 and +5 RCAA last year, per Lee Sinins. Cabrera was -21.

Kennedy and Figgins had OPS+'s of 98 and 101; Cabrera: 79.

Kennedy and Figgins had 13 and 20 Win Shares (and WS underestimates Kennedy's defense because it overestimates how many groundballs were hit against the Angels); Cabrera had 12.

Kennedy was -1 WSAA (which is BS because of the defense, if you ask me), Figgins was +4; Cabrera was -6.

WARP1: Kennedy 3.8 (BPro screws up his defense, too; he led the league in ZR and had a high UZR, and all these clowns are walking around saying he was below average: poppycock), Figgins 3.6. Cabrera: 2.1.

So, that's worth paying $8M, I think, to get a guy no better than one guy who makes under a million and one guy that makes under three. Well done, Stoneman, I'm glad we didn't waste that money on Carlos Beltran or Pedro or anyone like that ...

(The above were my initial comments I posted at BTF upon hearing the news ... I should be up with more later ...)

With the holidays coming up, and nothing going on with the Angels right now, and with me wrapping up some work stuff for the rest of this week, I'm gonna go ahead and take a break for seven days. Sure, I'll chime in if the Angels do anything ... but otherwise I won't really have anything to say until next week, if then.

So have a great and safe holiday season, everybody ...

Friday, December 17, 2004

But it's fine: we have Steve Finley, Paul Byrd, and Esteban Yan.

Here are three minor league pitchers, and their totals in the minors. Age is of April 1, 2005:


24 389 .225 .152 .011 .192 5.00
24 451 .187 .100 .013 .209 3.69
26 631 .151 .067 .025 .255 4.58
So that middle guy seems okay. A few more walks than you would want, but he's generally fine. You'd keep that guy around, see what could happen. He's not blowing you away, but he's worth a look.

The top guy: kind of intriguing, obviously unhittable, but with little clue of where the ball is going. Seems like he has some talent you can harness.

That last guy ... what's his deal? Hasn't really succeeded much, just about the only thing he can do is keep the ball in the strike zone -- where it pretty much gets bashed around. He's 26, can't be a whole lot left there, right?

I'm sure you've guessed that the top pitcher is Bobby Jenks, and you may have guessed that the bottom guy is Chris Bootcheck. You may not have guessed that the middle pitcher is Tim Bittner.

Now, let's take what we know about Jenks' injuries out for a moment. Looking at their performances, if you had to keep two of those guys, which one is out of luck? Pretty obvious, right? Bootcheck is the oldest and the least appealing.

But, as you know, the Angels voted Bobby Jenks off the island, and now he will toil in the Chicago White Sox organization. This leads me to believe that the Angels have zero confidence in Jenks coming back from his injury. They've been very patient with him, so it doesn't seem likely that his status as a purported headcase is the source of his dismissal. It must be that they feel he will never be ripe physically.

Still, it's sad to see Jenks go, and I wish him the best. But, on the bright side, the Rockies picked up Alfredo Amezaga, the biggest challenge to Coors Field since Kirt Manwaring. Remember, it was the Rockies whence Legs Figgins came to the Angels in a minor-league exchange for Super Sucker Kimera Bartee. So: Figgins no, Bartee and Amezaga yes. That mile-high air must do wonders for your player evaluation abilities ...

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Both the A's and the Mariners have taken some big gambles over the past few days.

First, Seattle. They have signed Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre to corner their infield. Sexson is a big injury risk, obviously; he's coming off some big hurts last year and hasn't demonstrated that he can come back at full strength.

If he's healthy, Sexson should be good for an OPS+ above 120 at the worst, a big improvement over their production last season. Whether or not he can come back healthy is beyond my powers of understanding.

Beltre is a risk because he's had one good year in the last four. But I think this is a pretty good gamble: (1) Seattle will have him for his peak, (2) he's a superb defensive player, and (3) they signed him at a very reasonable price. I have zero belief that he's gonna hit a 163 OPS+ again, but he doesn't have to to earn $13M per year in this market.

I don't know that these moves vault Seattle back into contention, but they should be a lot stronger in 2005. My amateur projections for Sexson and Beltre (and to what small degree, if any, you trust them, realize that the raw totals have not been adjusted for park, but the OPS+ projection has):

         G   AB  H  2B 3B HR SO BB SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPS+

Sexson 105 392 104 19 1 27 99 56 1 0 266 358 529 128
Beltre 154 572 163 29 2 33 91 44 6 2 285 336 513 125
(Remember, Sexson's hitting environments have been much more favorable than Beltre's, so what that means is that raw line would be a 128 OPS+ for Sexson over those years in his environment, where Beltre's would be 125 in his. Given Sexson's injuries, obviously take his with an even larger grain of salt than usual.)

In the meantime, Oakland has dispatched Tim Hudson for Juan Cruz, Dan Meyer, and Charles Thomas. Thomas was a very good fourth outfielder last year, but the prizes here are Meyer and Cruz.

Cruz has been relegated to the bullpen in the past couple of years, but still has the potential to start. Whether the A's see him in the rotation or as a cheap successor to Octavio Dotel is unknown. He is a very intriguing pitcher either way.

Meyer is a fantastic prospect; he had a 2.49 ERA between AA and AAA last year, whiffing 146 batters in 126 1/3 innings against only 37 walks and 7 home runs. A 6'3'' lefty, Meyer turns 24 in July.

So while Cruz and Meyer project well, remember it's only that -- a projection. Young pitchers are very risky, and Meyer has all of two innings thrown in the major leagues.

The A's have dispatched Hudson and Mark Redman from their rotation, and are looking to the group of Meyer, Joe Blanton, and possibly Cruz, Seth Etherton, and Kirk Saarloos to pick up the slack. Replacing Redman shouldn't be too tough, but asking these guys to pick up for the loss of Hudson seems like a tall task for 2005 (though if Rich Harden steps up, maybe they just have to fill in for him).

So I think the A's have been weakened a bit for 2005 (though they're not out of it at all), but have taken a pretty good gamble on the following few years.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Off he heads to Cincinatti for minor league pitcher Dustin Moseley.

I don't know Moseley from Adam. A starting pitcher, he was the Reds' first-round draft pick in 2000, and turns 23 this Boxing Day. His record is not that of an overpowering pitcher, with 6.50 K/9 IP above A, and a K/BB ratio of 1.95 at those levels. He has been a starter exclusively throughout his minor league career.

Well, Ortiz was gone, anyway, so at least we've picked up someone that might have some potential.

I don't really have any strong feelings about this; I figured Ortiz was a goner I we would get nothing in return, so I guess Stoneman has done well to even get a player.

Ken Rosenthal now claims that the Angels, continuing to make big impact acquisitions that will demoralize the A's and leave potential postseason opponents quaking in their boots, have signed Paul Byrd to a one-year deal. Financial consideration is not yet reported.

Paul Byrd had a solid 110 ERA+ last year, but only managed 19 starts and just over 114 innings. This was coming off a 132 ERA+ in 228 1/3 innings in 2002, far and away Byrd's best year -- and surgery rehab in 2003. [I screwed this up earlier and fixed after reader comments.]

By itself, I'd say signing Byrd is an okay move; he's had an ERA+ over 100 practically every year, though durability has been a big problem for him.

In the meantime, Rosenthal also alleges that the Angels are still targetting Matt Clement, and now seek to trade Ace Washburn.

So the money saved from signing Father Time has been spent on Esteban Yan and Paul Byrd, and maybe Matt Clement, if everything goes right.

Any resemblance to the 2004 San Francisco Giants is purely coincidental.

A couple of years ago in a fantasy league, I was dying for saves, and Yan was the closer for, who knows, Tampa Bay or something, so I picked him up ... needless to say, disaster.

This guy's a reliever and doesn't even have a career ERA that's better than average. Come on. Relievers have an advantage in ERA (Bill James discovered it was around .15 or .20), and he still is 10% worse than average? Yikes. He's had a couple of nice years, but when he's bad, he's bad, like French fire siren bad.

Somehow, we need to spend a bit over a million per year for some guy who's probably not gonna outperform Matt Hensley, or Hensley Meulens, for that matter.

Esteban Yan sucks.

Monday, December 13, 2004

News and rumors about free agent pitchers:

-- An unknown and heretofore unexpected team has jumped into the Matt Clement bidding, pushing his price up -- a price that was already due to go up with Carl Pavano apparently off the market. We're still looking at three years, reportedly, but about $7M-$9M a year, with one rumor going so high as 4-$40M. Stoneman is apparently unconcerned about market value: the linked article reports "Stoneman said having to pay more than perceived market value for a starter 'isn't an issue, and isn't going to be.'" Other teams reportedly in the hunt are the Dodgers, Indians, D-Backs, and maybe the Cards (plus this unknown team, perhaps).

-- And maybe the Red Sox. The Boston Herald is reporting that Pedro Martinez is due to sign a 4-year-$56M deal with the Mets. That will put the Sox in the hunt for another starter; they might enter the Tim Hudson or A.J. Burnett sweepstakes, but they'd have to lose Brandon Arroyo to do so, mose likely.

Signing Finley kind of puts the onus on Stoneman to make another move, otherwise it takes away the point of saving that money. The Angels might have to go overboard to get Clement; the only other free agent pitcher out there is Derek Lowe, which is uninspiring, his postseason notwithstanding. And, of course, The Big Unit still waits ...

Sunday, December 12, 2004

The LA Times reports that the Lads might sign Matt Clement to a three-year, $21M deal today or Monday. This is the going rate for middle-of-the rotation starters, which Clement, even under the tutelage of Bud Black, projects to.

With Carl Pavano apparently destined for the Bronx, Clement easily took over as the best non-Pedro pitcher on the market. I have considered Clement a better bet for the future than Pavano, but it's really close and I think you can make the argument the other way. But Pavano was way over his head last season, in my opinion, and Clement has been more consistent the past few seasons:

                 Matt Clement                              Carl Pavano

2002 205.0 .251 .099 .021 112 2002 136.0 .149 .073 .031 79
2003 201.7 .201 .093 .026 103 2003 201.0 .157 .058 .022 94
2004 181.0 .245 .099 .030 123 2004 222.3 .153 .054 .018 137
587.7 .232 .097 .025 112 559.3 .153 .060 .023 107
Just breaking down their numbers, you can see how their styles differ. Clement is more of a power pitcher; Pavano is into control, finesse, and keeping the ball in the ballpark. (He has been aided in this the last two seasons by pitching in Florida, which in 2004 decreased home run production just a bit, especially in comparison to Clement -- Pro Player's HR Factor as reported by ESPN was .987, while Wrigley's was 1.329, second-highest in the majors to their cross-town rivals.)

Interestingly, though Clement has a higher groundball-to-flyball ratio than Pavano, in 2004 only 31% of Clement's batters faced hit groundballs, where for Pavano it was 37% (the major league average was 32%; thank you, Hardball Times Baseball Annual). It's because Clement takes care of more outs himself via the whiff, where Pavano relies more on his defense -- a sketchy proposition given recent Angel developments.

Once you take the parks out of the equation, Clement gains ground on the homers, and Pavano only has the walks. Pavano was close to a win better last year, but given their peripherals over the past few years, Clement seems to have at least as much of an upside. Also encouraging is the fact that, as the Times notes in their salivating article linked to above, many scouts still feel Clement has not fully realized his potential.

This, if true, is made to order for Bud Black, who performed nicely with another such pitcher last season: Kelvim Escobar. If Clement can turn in a year as good as Kelvim last year, that's pretty valuable. I don't know if the Lads really preferred Pavano and are just jumping at Clement now that Pavano's unavailable, but I think $7M per for Clement is a tremendously better value than the ~$10M per that has been rumored for Pavano.

The Angel rotation is the part of the team most due for improvement in 2005, I believe. The only performer who did better than we might have expected was Kelvim Escobar, and even that was fairly predictable given his talent and the fact that he was being assigned one role for just about the first time ever. John Jekyl and Lackey Hyde's ERA+ of 98 was close to his career mark, but we witnessed woeful underperformance from Ace Washburn and The Big Mango, Bartolo Colon. Colon bouncing back to a merely league average performance would be worth at least one win (he was 10 runs below average last season, but if he were pitching well, he would have more innings and be even more valuable), and if he can return to his career ERA+ (116) it could be at least a win-and-a-half and probably more. Clement should also be a solid improvement over the batting practice pitchers that were shuffled through the 5 slot in the rotation; his +18 Runs Saved Above Average last year (which I think is a fair expectation of his talent level) bests the Sele/Ortiz combination by 23 runs, so there's another two wins or so.

So we're looking at another three or four wins just from the rotation, without accounting for possible improvement from Lackey and Washburn. I'd still like to acquire Pedro or the Unit, if the price is right, but if the Clement signing goes down, it's a solid, if unspectacular, move.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

The other day, I mentioned that I would prefer one of Randy Johnson and Carlos Beltran to both of Steve Finley and Matt Clement/Carl Pavano/et al. I figured I should explain why I think that, and why I'm unenthused about the Finley acquisition.

The Hardball Times Baseball Annual, which you should all buy from their website, publishes Lee Sinins' calculations of Runs Created Above Average (for hitters) and Runs Saved Above Average (for pitchers). Here's some people from last season:

Player   2004 RCAA/RSAA

Johnson +50
Beltran +46
Pavano +27
Clement +18
Finley +3
Now, I'm pretty sure that's not park-adjusted, but you can mentally adjust them all by a run or two and it doesn't really change things. Oh, what the hell, I'll just do it for you, using the park factors from BB-ref:

Johnson  +52

Beltran +47
Pavano +26
Clement +19
Finley +3
Oh, well there's a big difference. But I did it, so there it is.

I think that's really self-explanatory -- especially when you consider that the above does not account for defense at all, where Beltran pretty much kicks Finley in the patootie. Here are the total Win Shares and Win Shares Above Average for those guys for 2004, as reported by the Hardball Times website, and total Wins Above Replacement (1) from BPro:

Player      WS    WSAA  WARP1

Johnson 25 13 11.0
Beltran 31 13 8.4
Pavano 20 9 8.3
Clement 11 2 5.5
Finley 18 0 5.0
In terms of absolute wins, Pavano plus another guy looks good, but remember that this is a banner year for Pavano, who had nearly twice as many WARP1 last year as he had in any other single season of his career. You wanna bet on that happening again?

I just don't think that Anderson-Finley-Guerrero is going to be a better offensive outfield than Guillen-Anderson-Guerrero, and I don't think that Anderson-Finley-Guerrero is going to be a better defensive outfield than Guillen-Anderson-Guerrero. Just looking at these guys in 2004:

                2004 OF                      2005 OF

Guillen 21 6 5.2 Garrett 15 4 2.5
Garret 15 4 2.5 Finley 18 0 5.0
Vlad 29 12 9.2 Vlad 29 12 9.2
TOT. 65 22 16.9 62 16 16.7
The 2005 outfield will struggle to perform as well as the 2004 incarnation -- but the above demonstrates that while I do not like it, I'm not going to go all Cassandra on it. Even if Finley declines, Garret should be a bit healthier and improve. We would hope.

At first I thought the OF was also a bit more expensive, but I'm not sure. Finley makes $4.5M more than Guillen; Garrett, I believe will actually be making slightly less this year (at least per Dugout Dollars) and the same goes for Vlad (signing bonuses and the like, I believe). So maybe it's about the same. I don't know about paying $7.5M to a guy that was essentially an average contributor last year, even though there is value in being average, but maybe, if everything breaks right, Garret will pick up the slack between Guillen and Father Time, and the outfield production will be about the same.

And that's what I object to -- signing at Finley, at best, makes us the same. We need to get better.

Friday, December 10, 2004

So they had a press conference and everything. It's for real. Let's take a look at the regular lineup, and how the Win Shares would shape up if we had this year's lineup in 2004:

         2004                    2005

Pos Player WS Pos Player WS
C Molinas 16 C Molinas 16
1B 4-3/Kotch 17 1B 4-3/Kotch 17
3B Figgins 20 3B McPherson 1
MIF Kennedy 13 MIF Eckstein 9
MIF Eckstein 9 MIF Figgins 20
LF Guillen 21 LF Anderson 15
CF Anderson 15 CF Father Time 18
RF Guerrero 29 RF Guerrero 29
DH Glaus/Fish 12 DH DaVanon 10
IF Quinlan 8 IF Quinlan 8
OF DaVanon 10 OF Rivera 14
Okay, so McPherson should be good for more than 1 Win Share. And Kennedy will hopefully return in time to improve the middle infield picture. But as bad as this signing is, as long as McPherson does all right and everyone can stay reasonably healthy, the team shouldn't be too much worse off.

Of course, whether or not Finley can really put up 18 WS again is a matter of debate. If he declines just a bit, maybe Garret Anderson can bounce back and pick up some of that slack.

The real wild card is, of course, Kendry Morales. There are many "if"'s and "whether"'s involved.

Well, I'm just trying to take a look at the bright side. If I had my druthers, the opening lineup would be:

1. Figgins, SS
2. Eckstein, 2B
3. Vlad, RF
4. Garret, DH
5. Father Time, LF
6. Kotchman, 1B
7. McPherson, 3B
8. Molinas, C
9. Erstad, CF

So if Morales tears up spring training, I don't know what I would do. Maybe he gets the first base job and Kotch gets traded. And I'm not so sure a LF platoon of DaVanon and Rivera wouldn't outperform Finley with the bat and glove ... or maybe Morales would DH and Garret would go to LF. This is, of course, in my fantasy world where Finley doesn't have to start.

That's what I hate about the Finley signing the most, probably. It blocks a lot of spots, but does so with a guy who, all evidence indicates, can't even handle his purported position very well anymore.

Anyway, as this will never happen, if the roster doesn't change at all, I predict:

1. Figgins, MIF
2. Erstad, 1B
3. Garret, LF
4. Vlad, RF
5. Father Time, CF
6. DaVanon/Rivera/Morales, DH
7. McPherson, 3B
8. Molinas, C
9. Eckstein, MIF

Oh, well, it could be a lot worse ...

Well, the LA Times is reporting the Steve Finley signing is for real, so I guess I'd better get my head out of the sand so I can puke in a sanitary manner.

Per the Times, Finely's being inked to a two-year deal (with an option on a third year -- pshaw) worth between $15M and $20M total. This gives the Angels flexibility! Yes, we are now flexible enough to put either Finley or Anderson in center and suck hard either way.

Here's a howler from the article: "Though the left-handed-hitting Finley will turn 40 in March, he is in excellent shape and hopes to play for another four years." Hardy har, 40-year-old that can't play defense have great track records ... also pathetically comical is the notion that this gives the Angels one of the most "formidable" outfields in the game, as though this is 1997 or something.

I don't know what the hell a two-year deal does for us, anyway. Let's say everything goes terribly wrong with the prospects, and Casey Kotchman and Kendry Morales aren't ready until 2006. Kotch goes to first, Erstad goes to left because Finley's in center, Anderson goes to DH because he has arthritis, and Morales goes ... where, exactly? Of course, I'm sure Kotchman is on his way to Arizona now, so he and Glaus can be a rockin' corner infield combo for a few years ...

This gives the Angels the financial flexibility to waste money and effort on the likes of Carl Pavano. Whoopee. I'd rather have one of Beltran and Randy Johnson than both of Finley and Pavano. Maybe that's just me, I don't know ...

It's a good thing we have only one left-handed pitcher, because the left-center gap next year is going to be a free-doubles zone.

And here's another thing ... last offseason, Jose Guillen was signed for a two-year deal at $3M per. Now we're signing Finley for a two-year deal at at least $7.5M per. Do you really think Finley at this point is $4.5M better than Guillen, no matter what the off-field nonsense is? Guillen was kind of a butcher in left on range, but he had a great arm and an OPS+ of 119. Finley is eleven years older than Guillen, had an OPS+ of 110, and was a butcher in CF without the arm (5 assists total last year). I'm not saying we shoulda kept the malcontent, but oy ...

Morales better be &(#*ing good to make up for this.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Ken Rosenthal claims we are closing to signing Steve Finley.

Two years.

$10 million per.

This can't be for real?

Can it?

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

In a shocking revelation, the LA Times informs us today that Carlos Beltran is the Angels' number one target this offseason.

What is new, and disturbing, is the fact that Steve Finley is the back-up plan. This is true of practically every team chasing Beltran, of course, but I'm not too excited about the prospect of Finley in Angel red.

Look, Finley had a pretty good year with the bat last year. He had a 110 OPS+ and ranked 10th amongst CF in the majors with 28.9 Runs Above Replacement. He had a total of 18 Win Shares last season, which is solid.

The knocks against Finley are these: he's Methuseleh and he can't play defense anymore. Let's look at the defense.

From 2000-2003, Mitchel Lichtman's UZR ranks him as a total of -63 runs against average with the glove. MGL hasn't published, and likely won't be publishing, UZR for 2004, but his .855 Zone Rating last season was mediocre, ranking 15th out of 20 major league qualifiers at CF.

In 2003, he was even worse, with his .837 ranking next-to-last. He was mediocre again in 2002, and next-to-last again in 2001.

Clay Davenport's figures are a lot more moderate than Lichtman's, with -16 runs since 2000. Finley had a poor year in Defensive Win Shares last year, too, which I got from the Hardball Times Baseball Annual, which I heartily recommend.

So, at best he's mediocre in CF, and at worst he's horrible. Add that to the fact that he'll be 40 in March and his bat is in likely decline, and you have to wonder what the big deal is, especially given that he wants a two-year deal.

Other names mentioned as potential targets, and none of which are a particular surprise, are Carl Pavano, Matt Clement, and Orlando Cabrera.

I am not sold on Pavano. Last season, at age 28, was the first time he had an above-average ERA since he was 24 -- and he only pitched 97 innings that year. He's an innings-eater, an okay guy to have in the middle of a roatation. But don't we have enough of those guys? Are we trying to be the St. Louis Cardinals or something? Let the Orioles take him and his no-taste Eminem-loving ways.

I have more belief in Clement, but only barely. He's been a bit better than Pavano over the last three years, with ERA+s of 112, 103, and 123. But he's already 30, and that stretch served to drag his career ERA+ up to 98, still short of Pavano's lifetime 100. But where Pavano has managed 423.3 IP in the last two years, Clement has 382.7. You add that up, and Pavano has prevented 21.1 more than average in the two years, and Clement 20.0. I'm slightly more confident in Clement's track record for going forward, but it's almost a coin flip.

I mean, over the last two years, neither of these guys is has been as good as Kelvim Escobar. I like Kelvim, but shouldn't we be trying to get guys better than him? I know it's tough ... but, honestly, there's a reason that Pedro and Unit make the money they do. Pedro was +23 last year alone, in a bad year, which is roughly what Kelvim has done over the last two years combined and just ahead of the other guys. And as old as he is, Randy Johnson was +50 in 2004*. He was about as much better than average in one year as Kelvim Escobar would be in four!

I honestly don't think the Angels would be all that well-served to get another decent pitcher. Adding an impact starter would be a great thing for the club. Yes, you have to pay (in money for both, and in players for Randy), but that's how life works.

As for Orlando Cabrera ... it seems to me that you only get a SS if you can't get a CF. I'm willing to bet The Legs can learn SS, as he has enough raw tools for Alfredo Griffin to work with. Or maybe Maicer Izturis will be ready.

The Angels could make some Blah moves this winter, and they could make some Wow moves. I think the Boston series revealed that we need to be better to make it in the post-season, and you don't get better by making Blah moves and picking up decent middle-of-the-rotation starters. Bill Stoneman: wow us.

*I'm using the figures at Baseball Reference to make these calculations, by the way. Randy Johnson had a 2.60 ERA last year in the context of 4.44, so he was 1.84 better than average for nine innings. Divide that by nine to get .20 per inning, and multiply by his 245.7 innings to get 50.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Steve Andrade is a 26-year old right-handed reliever. In 2003, at the age of 25, Andrade pitched in AA, and pitched extremely well:


51.0 .374 .096 .010 2.65
So, in 2004, he goes to AAA:


13.7 .266 .125 .016 4.61
Okay, so it's not that great, but pretty solid peripherals despite that ERA. Apparently, that means you go back to AA for the rest of the year:


48.0 .306 .062 .021 2.44
Apparently this means you get to go on waivers and get picked up by the Toronto Blue Jays.

Does anyone have the first clue just what the hell the Angels are doing here? It is said that Andrade just has okay stuff, and succeeds through his repertoire more than blowing people away. However he does it, it works: he has struck out 286 men in 200 minor league innings.

Andrade is exactly the sort of guy the Angels can find value in; his numbers at Arkansas are better than Brendan Donnelly's were, and Andrade is younger than he was at the time.

What am I missing here? Does anyone know? I think Toronto has made a pretty savvy pick-up, and with the bullpen one man short this year, it just seems like we should be keeping as much depth as we can. What gives?

(Sean's on the case, and he doesn't know, either.)

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

As you know, the Angels have signed "21-year-old" Cuban switch-hitting "slugger" Kendry Morales.

I mentioned this a bit last week ... Morales is a powerful hitter, and projects as a first baseman or left fielder (or DH, of course). What does this mean for the Angels?

I believe it makes Casey Kotchman expendable.

Morales will take over the Angel 1B future, meaning Kotchman is free to be included in a deal for Randy Johnson. I'm not sure this is really the best thing -- if Morales is for real and can play LF -- two big "if"'s -- a future of Kotch at 1B, Erstad in CF, Morales in LF, and Garret DHing sounds pretty appealing.

But there are so many unknowns in all of this that it's really hard to comment. We don't know that he's really 21, we don't know that he can really hit in the majors, and we don't know what positions he can play well, if any. Eddie Bane is convinced that the paper documentation of the age is legit, and he would know better than me ...

... there is speculation that this might spell doom for signing Jered Weaver, which would be an unfortunate side effect. Might his contract (financials are undisclosed as I write this) cut into the possibility of signing Carlos Beltran? I don't know these answers ... I feel pretty useless because I literally know nothing you don't on this subject. We could be looking at something very exciting for the Lads -- or a instance of momentous folly.

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