Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Well, the LA Times kinda beat me to this, but I had this post pretty much prepped already, so here we go:

(Per Cot's Baseball Contracts)

2007:  $109,251,333

2008 (in millions):

Guerrero: $14.500
Anderson: $14.000
Rodriguez: $10.000*
Cabrera: $ 9.000
Escobar: $ 9.000
Matthews: $ 9.000
Lackey: $ 7.000
Speier: $ 4.750
Figgins: $ 4.750
Shields: $ 4.250
Oliver: $ 2.000
Quinlan: $ 1.050
Izturis: $ .530*
Santana: $ .500*
Kendrick: $ .425*
Napoli: $ .425*
Weaver: $ .425*
Aybar: $ .425*
Kotchman: $ .425*
McPherson: $ .400*
Murphy: $ .400*
Willits: $ .400*
Moseley: $ .400*
Mathis: $ .400*
Balance: $ 6.080 (16 remaining roster spots x $.38M)

*denotes guesstimate for non-arb players and K-Rod

The Times and I agree that the payroll as of now is roughly $100M. The article also points out that the Angels "could clear $18 million after 2008 by letting Anderson and Cabrera go and free up $4.75 million by trading Chone Figgins." These things are true. But a few other points, just kind of randomly assembled:

1. We also may be able to clear Kelvim Escobar after 2009, depending on the development of young pitchers. That's another ~$9M per year.

2. The strong farm system is a boon to us here, as key players such as Napoli, Kotchman, Kendrick, Willits, Weaver, Santana, Saunders, and Quinlan are all pretty cheap.

3. At the same time, these guys aren't that cheap forever, and at some point the Angels are going to have to look into locking down some of them through their arbitration years and beyond. Come 2009 and 2010, Weaver could be up to $5M or $7M per year, and it's easy to see Kotch and/or Kendrick hitting that level, as well. Still, these guys won't be more than $20M per year between them, and if Brandon Wood can take over for Orlando Cabrera starting in 2009, that would be a big help.

4. The LA Times piece also mentions that the Angels may be in need or want of another starting pitcher, one who might cost money. I don't know if that's speculation or if the team lacks faith in Santana and/or Saunders.

Anyway, what does adding $30 or $35M to this payroll do? One fear is that it reduces flexibility; with nearly $50M per year tied up in two players, that doesn't give you a lot of room to navigate. Let's speculate as to how the above list could look in 2009:

2009 Speculative (in millions):

A-Rod: $35.000
Guerrero: $15.000
Anderson: $14.000
Anderson: $ 3.000 (buyout)
Rodriguez: $12.000*
Cabrera: $ 9.000
Wood: $ 0.400
Escobar: $ 9.500
Matthews: $10.000
Lackey: $ 9.000
Speier: $ 4.750
Figgins: $ 4.750
Shields: $ 5.000
Oliver: $ 2.000
Quinlan: $ 1.500*
Izturis: $ 1.000*
Santana: $ 1.000*
Kendrick: $ 1.000*
Napoli: $ 1.000*
Weaver: $ 1.000*
Aybar: $ 1.000*
Kotchman: $ 1.000*
McPherson: $ .400*
Murphy: $ .400*
Willits: $ 1.000*
Moseley: $ 1.000*
Mathis: $ 1.000*
Balance: $ 7.600 (20 remaining roster spots x $.38M)

If Arte is committed to a payroll in the $130M-$150M range (or above, even), that actually gives him some wiggle room. Of course, as mentioned above, come 2011 or so Kotchman, Kendrick, and Napoli may be worth close to $20M instead of $3M. What if all of our young pitchers wash out, and we need to go out and get one (like we did with Kelvim and Colon), but we're already expending more than $140M per year? Would Arte go for spending more?

I don't know, and that's where our analysis runs into a wall: at some point, Arte has to decide if spending that much is worthwhile to him. No one else can make that decision. I think Alex Rodriguez is a tremendous, once-in-a-lifetime player, and that adding him to this lineup makes the team the favorite in the division for the next few years and a legit World Series contender year-in and year-out. But it's easy for me to say that; it's not my money.

And while money doesn't guarantee you rings, right now the Red Sox are paying out more than $140M in salary, and they've gotten two in the last four years. The Yankees are in a Series drought, but still a formidable club, and their payroll is closer to $200M. If Arte wants to play with the big boys, he may have open his wallet a little wider.



... at LA Angelscast.com. I show up maybe a third of the way through, and then you're pretty much stuck with me the rest of the way. Topics include my heritage as an Angel fan, A-Rod, and Tony Reagins. Thanks to Erica Bardin for interviewing me, it was a lot of fun, and I hope y'all enjoy it.

And, by the way, I was a bit congested that day, so I don't always sound like that.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


(For multi-position players, batting runs are apportioned from seasonal total by percentage of season's games played at 3B. I used games started for 2004-2006 and games played for 2007 [BB-Ref didn't have the games started listed when I went through, but any discrepancies should be minor]. Batting runs figures come from BB-Ref.)

Figgins: + 0.6
Quinlan: + 5.4
Halter: - 3.7
Glaus: + 4.0
McPherson: - 0.4
Amezaga: - 0.3
Angel Tot: + 5.6
Rodriguez: +28.8
A-Rod >: +23.2

McPherson: - 1.5
Figgins: + 0.5
Izturis: - 2.4
Quinlan: - 2.4
Merloni: - 0.4
Sorenson: - 0.1
Angel Tot: - 6.3
Rodriguez: +66.4
A-Rod >: +72.7

Izturis: + 1.2
Figgins: - 2.8
McPherson: - 0.9
Quinlan: + 0.7
Alfonzo: - 5.6
Kendrick: - 0.1
Angel Tot: - 7.5
Rodriguez: +30.8
A-Rod >: +38.3

Figgins: +11.5
Izturis: - 0.4
Wood: - 3.5
Quinlan: - 1.0
Brown: - 0.8
Aybar: - 0.2
Angel Tot: + 5.6
Rodriguez: +69.2
A-Rod >: +63.6

Angels: - 2.6
A-Rod: +195.2
A-Rod >: +197.8

+197.8 runs is approximately +20 wins, or five wins per year. Of course, as it turns out, Angel third basemen over the past few years have been a generally average lot, so A-Rod comparison to our guys isn't too different from his comparison to the average.

A replacement player is about two wins below average, A-Rod over the last four years has been about five wins better than average (offensively only) per season, so he's about seven wins above replacement. How much is that worth?

Luckily, the Angels just happen to have a pretty average player who's about two wins above replacement: Gary Matthews, Jr. How much is he paid per season? It averages out to $10M -- or $5M per win above replacement.

And if A-Rod is seven wins above replacement, and the Angels are paying our $5M per such win, that means that over the past four years A-Rod has "earned" by his performance ...

... $35M per year.

Of course, he likely won't be as good over the next few years as he was over the past contract, and we haven't looked at defense yet. But stay tuned -- we'll get to those topics in the coming days.


Monday, October 29, 2007


OPS+, 2004-2007, at least 300 Games Played
1. Barry Bonds 198
2. Albert Pujols 169
3. David Ortiz 159
4. Travis Hafner 155
5. Alex Rodriguez 154
6. Ryan Howard 151
7. Lance Berkman 149
7. Vlad Guerrero 149
7. Manny Ramirez 149
10. Miguel Cabrera 149

OPS+, Active Leaders, at least 3000 Plate Appearances
1. Barry Bones 182
2. Albert Pujols 167
3. Frank Thomas 157
4. Manny Ramirez 154
5. Jim Thome 150
6. Vlad Guerrero 148
7. Jason Giambi 147
7. Alex Rodriguez 147
9. Lance Berkman 146
10. several 143

Angel League Rank in OPS+ This Century
2000: 4t
2001: 11
2002: 5t
2003: 7
2004: 6
2005: 8
2006: 11
2007: 7t

SLG, 2004-2007, at least 300 Games Played
1. Barry Bonds .644
2. Albert Pujols .626
3. David Ortiz .616
4. Ryan Howard .610
5. Manny Ramirez .581
6. Alex Rodriguez .573
7. Travis Hafner .567
8. Vlad Guerrero .566
9. Aramis Ramirez .564
10. Chipper Jones .560

SLG, Active Leaders, at least 3000 Plate Appearances
1. Albert Pujols .620
2. Barry Bonds .607
3. Manny Ramirez .593
4. Todd Helton .583
5. Vlad Guerrero .579
6. Alex Rodriguez .578

7. Jim Thome .565
8. Frank Thomas .561
9. Lance Berkman .559
10. David Ortiz .559

Angel League Rank in SLG This Century
2000: 1
2001: 12
2002: 6
2003: 9
2004: 9
2005: 9
2006: 8t
2007: 9


Tuesday, October 16, 2007


GM               Years    Seasons   W    L   PCT  >.500   >90W   >95W   Div   WC   WS
Bill Stoneman 2000-2007 8 703 593 .542 6 4 2 3 1 1
Fred Haney 1961-1968 8 614 679 .475 3 0 0 0 - 0
Buzzie Bavasi 1978-1984 7 535 545 .495 4 1 0 2 - 0
Mike Port 1985-1991 7 513 479 .517 4 3 0 1 - 0
Harry Dalton 1972-1977 6 444 520 .461 0 0 0 0 - 0
Bill Bavasi 1994-1999 6 434 473 .479 3 0 0 0 0 0
Dick Walsh 1969-1971 3 233 253 .479 1 0 0 0 - 0
Dan O'Brien 1991-1993 3 208 241 .463 1 0 0 0 - 0
Whitey Herzog 1993 1 6 9 .400 0 0 0 0 - 0

Notes: Mike Port was 10-10 when relieved in 1991 and replaced by Dan O'Brien; O'Brien
was 65-80 in 1993 when replaced by Whitey Herzog.



As you know, Bill Stoneman has stepped aside as general manager, and director of player development Tony Reagins will be assuming the mantle.

There will be time to assess Stoneman's tenure, and we'll probably get to that soon. But suffice to say that in Stoneman's eight seasons as GM, the Angels went 703-593 (.542), won three division titles, one wild card championship, and the championship of the world.

Was he perfect? No one is, but he obviously put our organization in a position of great strength, with a productive farm system supplementing and feeding a successful collection of veterans. The results are unassailable.

Will he be missed? I don't know. He will still be on as a consultant, and obviously has confidence in Tony Reagins' ability to move up. Of course, we don't know what Reagins will be like, and if he shares Stoneman's philosophy of caution. Some assistants make great GMs; some top out at assistant and fail when taking on the big job. But given the strength of the organization, I'll give Tony some doubt. We'll get into what's on Reagins' plate as time goes on.

For now, let's thank Bill Stoneman, a prime architect of the best stretch in our team's history.


Monday, October 08, 2007


Well, I guess the optimism in my "prediction" was misplaced; we did lose to a better team, and, well ...

... that's not quite good enough, is it? Losing to them is one thing; I don't feel bad about having lost to the White Sox in 2004, who were on such a tear, especially as we were the only team to win so much as a game against them that postseason. But I feel that we should have been able to at least, you know, win a game this time. We even had two good starts out of the three. But it wasn't enough, as you know.

A couple of days ago, I talked about expectations. I said that winning the division was the minimum; this is a team that has to compete for the World Championship. We're a strong organization, but it doesn't look like we're there quite yet.

One "problem" with the Angels is that each regular is an average or better player, making finding significant upgrades difficult.

We'll talk about that as the offseason goes on. As for now ... well, it's over.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


Well, that pretty much made me want to take back all the nice things I said in the previous post. But, hey, Josh Beckett was on his game, so let's tip our caps and move on.

But let me say this: Bill Stoneman's first priority this offseason should be getting Erick Aybar off this roster. Nothing against Aybar -- he's a good glove, can probably learn to be a good basestealer, and has potential to be an acceptable hitter -- but how in all the holy heck Mike Scioscia thinks Erick Aybar and his .279 OPB (.259 against righties) should be pinch-hitting for Mike Napoli and his .351 (.344 against RHP) is beyond me. And, believe me, I don't want to hate on Sciosc -- I want him to be our manager for the rest of his natural life (and beyond, depending on technological advancements). But the only time that should be happening is if you need someone to lay down a bunt. Kendry for Willits? I can dig that. But I'd rather see Nathan Haynes batting than Erick Aybar. Heck, I'd rather see Gary DiSarcina pinch hit than Erick Aybar. I don't know what kind of toy Mike thinks Aybar is, but I think he got a faulty description on the box.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


What do we expect from the Angels every year?

This is (more and more) a high-profile team, with a large payroll, centered around one all-time great, an elite pitching staff, and complemented by young developing stars, competent (at worst) veterans, and able bench players who can fill in at a moment's notice. This is a team expected to go places, and win championships.

I think the division title is the minimum goal the Angels should have each year. The other teams in the division are not terribly formidable at this point, and though that can change on a dime, with the base the Angels are working from and the talent coming up the minor league pipeline, in addition to the exorbitant funding provided by Arte Moreno, this is a division the Angels should put a stranglehold on.

Does that mean that years where we don't win are failures? Not necessarily. Last year we lost the division by four games, and it was probably winnable. But we also established players like Mike Napoli, Howie Kendrick, and Jered Weaver as major leaguers, which was a step toward winning this year. One can't be draconian; at the same time, one can't lower expectations unnecessarily.

With winning the division as the minimum goal, that means that the team has higher sights: making noise in the playoffs and being legit World Series contenders. Again, one can't be draconian; while it's not exactly true that the playoffs are a "crapshoot", there is some truth to it, and the best team doesn't always win a short series. A team that fails to win the World Series is not a failure. But you play to gain flags and rings, and this team is at a stage where such victories should be considered attainable, and that winning the World Championship is a reasonable expectation.

In short, I believe the expectations of this organization is to, year in and year out, have a reasonable claim at being the best team in baseball as the playoffs begin -- meaning that the team should be one of the top three or four teams, and that you can construct an argument that they may be the best.

I don't know that we've exactly accomplished this this year; I would say the Angels are definitely, along with the Red Sox and Indians, one of the best three teams in baseball right now. But do we have a reasonable chance of making noise in the postseason? Can we get Arte his ring?

I believe that the best team in baseball is the Boston Red Sox. The only offense definitely better than theirs is the Yankees' (you can also make an argument for Detroit), and the BoSox led baseball by only allowing 4.06 runs per game -- that's right: despite playing in a bit of a hitting park, in the hitting league, Boston, on the strength of a staff ERA+ of 118, allowed the fewest runs in the major leagues.

Does this mean we have no chance? It does not. We certainly do -- but I would say that the Red Sox are the favorites.

But, then again, the postseason is more about front-line talent than depth. Now, the Angels are here because of their depth, but how does their frontline talent compare to Boston's?

As a starting point, let's look at our nine starting players and their nine, just ranked by OPS+:
          Angels          Red Sox
TmRk Player OPS+ Player OPS+
1 Vlad 154 Ortiz 176
2 Kotchman 125 Manny 129
3 Figgins 123 Lowell 128
4 Garret 120 Youkilis 120
5 Kendrick 113 Pedroia 115
6 Napoli 113 Drew 108
7 Izturis 103 Varitek 106
8 Willits 101 Crisp 86
9 Cabrera 100 Lugo 68
TOT 112 105
Eh, what's this? The Angel starting offensive players are better than the Red Sox's? We're not even including stolen bases and other baserunning in this; these Angels are 110 of 148 in stealing bases, a 74.3% success rate, while these Sox are 85 of 107 for a success rate of 79.4%. So the Red Sox gain some there, but I suspect strongly that the Angels are stronger at the other aspects of baserunning, such as advancing extra bases on hits.

(FYI, I cheated and weighted each player's OPS+ by AB instead of PA to get the total. Sue me.)

Let's look at starting pitching:
          Angels          Red Sox
TmRk Player ERA+ Player ERA+
1 Lackey 144 Beckett 139
2 Escobar 127 Dice-K 104
3 Weaver 111 Schillng 118
TOT 129 120
Note that I actually went away from pure team rankings here, so as to show the match-ups next to each other. Once again, we find that the Angels have an advantage at the top of the rotation. John Lackey had a better season than Josh Beckett, and Kelvim blew Matsuzaka out of the water. Jered did struggle at times, but his season isn't particularly worse than Schilling's was.

Back of the bullpen:
          Angels          Red Sox
TmRk Player ERA+ Player ERA+
1 Frankie 154 Papelbon 246
2 Speier 150 Delcrmen 223
3 Shields 112 Okajima 206
TOT 136 224
Uh-oh. Here's a real source of concern: not only because the back of our pen has been so inconsistent, but also because theirs has been so good. This, obviously, helps the Red Sox in close games. In innings 7-9 this year, Boston allowed opposing hitters a mere 218/290/344 line, best in the league. The Angels were a bit better than the league average with a 248/318/384 line allowed, good for "only" fifth in the league.

But wait, look at that again: the main difference there is batting average. If you add 30 points of batting average to the Red Sox line, they're up to 248/320/374. Look familiar?

And then you see it: the Red Sox back of the bullpen allowed a much lower batting average on balls in play: .258 to the Angels .297. The league allowed a .304 BABIP over the course of the season, and the Sox allowed a .286 to the Angels .309.

Now, BABIP is lower in the late innings than it is over the rest of the game, as there are better pitchers and defensive replacements in the game. The league allowed a .294 BABIP in the last three innings, ten points better than the overall average; the Angel improvement from .309 to .297 in such situations is typical.

But the Red Sox drop from .286 to .258 is inhuman. Now, I'm not one of these guys who's all into DIPS and thinking that pitchers have no control over balls in play; the have some, less than we may have thought seven or eight years ago, but they have some. So I'm willing to give some of that to the Red Sox pitchers, but come on:
          Angels          Red Sox
TmRk Player BABIP Player BABIP
1 Frankie .301 Papelbn .216
2 Speier .236 Delcrmn .218
3 Shields .276 Okajima .244
The Red Sox bullpen is excellent, and those guys are possibly the best combo in the majors. But they're not quite as good as their performance suggests, and the gap between them and the Angels isn't as large as it seems at first glance.

Still, I must confess that the Red Sox, on the whole, are the better team. But I must also confess that the gap between us and them in front-line talent that wins playoff series is not very large, and that one can make the argument that we're better-suited to win such a series than they are. (This result is a surprise to me, by the way; I didn't expect to find this when I started typing this post.) And once you start making that argument, you notice that the Angels have a reasonable shot at winning the World Series.

Expectations? They've been met.

Angels in four.


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