Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Well, a few weeks ago, I was planning to do a piece on whether or not we could expect Gary Matthews, Jr. to repeat the unprecedented offensive success he experienced last season. That's a piece I still intend to do, but it appears I may have been scooped by the district attorney of Albany County, New York.

As I'm sure you have heard, Matthews is listed as a client of a Florida pharmacy accused of distributing steroids and other PED. Matthews is issuing highly comforting statements like "Until we get more information, I just can't comment on it" and "I will address [my name being on the client list] at [the] appropriate time".

What does this mean, if anything? Who knows. Though it's natural that suspicion would fall on a 31-year-old having a career year in this day and age, at this point we don't really have any real evidence linking Matthews to PED use, and even if it were proved that he had used in the past, the actual effects of such usage on quality of play are somewhat nebulous.

Depending on the legs of the story, it could, however, provide as unneeded distraction and side circus for our team, which isn't optimal. But for now, we should wait and see, and hold out hope that Matthews' involvement with this pharmacy, if any, was legit.

Labels: , ,

Monday, February 26, 2007

Around three weeks ago, I broke down all of the Angel sacrifice bunts in 2006 to determine whether or not successful sacrifices were actually counterproductive and hurt the team. As I mentioned in that piece, limitations in the data prevented me from exploring the topic any further.

That limitation has already been transcended, as Baseball Reference's tremendous Play Index has a new feature that allows one to search for bunting attempts in addition to successful sacrifices. (And if you're not a subscriber to PI, you're just living in ignorance of the finer things in life.)

To wit, here are the 31 successful sacrifice bunts laid down by the Halos last season, and here are the 40 bunt attempts.

Now, I'm not 100% sure that this covers all attempts; the notorious Adam Kennedy attempt on May 18 is not listed, for instance. Also, any time a bunt attempt was called for early in a count, but then taken off, would not be included. But this should still give us close to a complete picture of Angel bunting last season.

So, as you can determine from the above, there were nine sacrifice attempts that resulted in something other than a sacrifice. Of these nine, one led to an out with no advancement, one turned into a double play, two advanced a runner but were not counted as a sacrifice as there was one out, and five were singles.

As you may recall, I discovered that the sacrifice bunts that were laid down "cost" the Angels -.080 wins, using the win expectancy chart and adjusting for the handedness of the pitcher and batter. I was expecting (and hoping) that adding in these nine additional attempts would allay that, but in fact it goes down slightly to -.091 (though one of those appears to have been a clear bunt-for-hit attempt by Reggie Willits, though removing that would only make it -.086, and the Kennedy attempt I reference above would probably knock that down further).

However, there is one particular bunt call that lays waste to all the others. As you may recall, and I discuss this in the link to my entry on the Kennedy bunt above, in that same game Mike Napoli was asked to lay down a squeeze bunt. Mike Napoli, a power-hitting batter who had successfully executed only three sacrifice bunts in his entire professional career.

The result was predictable: a pop-up double play to end the inning. As the game was tied 4-4 at that moment, this was incredibly crucial, and markedly disastrous. By the win expectancy chart, this cost the Angels -.249 wins; their chances of winning the game stood at 74.9% before the play and 50% after. No other bunt play last year from the Angels came close to matching this swing, either in a positive or negative direction. Take out that bunt, and the team was helped to the tune of .158 wins over the course of the season.

Still, I concluded in my earlier piece that Mike Scioscia seems to have a good grasp of when the bunt is a good play and when it is not, in general, and I still hold that conclusion. It's just that last year, when he made a bad call that completely mis-fired, it was a total doozy.

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

So, as linked at Halos Heaven, Brandon Wood is going to be taught how to play third base.

This does not, according to the Angels, signal a position shift -- they're just expanding Wood's skills.

As you know, it has often been speculated that Wood would outgrow shortstop and have to be moved to third. This may yet be, but all the reports as of now are that Wood is still doing just fine at short, thank you, and as such I think any permanent move to third would be premature.

Of course, the Angels have, as predicted when Orlando Cabrera was signed, a positional logjam. Cabrera in the majors means that Erick Aybar stays at AAA (which in and of itself is fine, as he is not ready to hit in the major leagues), which means that Brandon Wood, who put up a 123 OPS+ in AA last year, has nowhere to go. (And even if you wanted to idiotically stunt his development by keeping him at AA, what do you do with Sean Rodriguez?)

Of course, as Aybar is considered an even better defender than Wood, it's Aybar who will stay at short while Wood learns the hot corner, and very possibly may be playing third at AAA this year.

There are several things I don't like about this:

1. I think that if you have a real hitter who can play a competent or better shortstop, you keep him there until he proves that he can't play it.

2. Brandon Wood is a better offensive prospect than Erick Aybar:
         Age  Level  AVG  OBP  SLG
Wood 18 R 288 348 471
Aybar 18 R 326 395 469

Wood 19 A 251 322 404
Aybar 19 A 308 346 446

Wood 20 A+ 321 383 672
Aybar 20 A+ 330 370 485

Wood 21 AA 276 355 552
Aybar 21 AA 303 350 445

Wood 22 AAA ??? ??? ???
Aybar 22 AAA 283 327 416
Wood has outperformed Aybar from the High-A California League on up.

3. Wood's value might be neutered at third base. This is a guy that projects to be a low-average slugger, like a Dean Palmer in his prime. A shortstop with power can carry the low OBP better than a third baseman can.

4. Erick Aybar likely has a decent trade value.

Anyway, that's my thinking. Of course, Wood could always go to third for a year and come back to shortstop. I'm just hesitant to see him at a corner before it's probably necessary.

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, February 15, 2007

As you probably know, Steve and Rex have been cut down to 100 games this year, with Jose Mota and Mark Gubicza taking over for the other 50 (Rex reacts here.

I practically never talk about the announcers here because ... well, I have this theory that I should only write about a topic if I have something new or (hopefully) interesting to say. I don't want to tell readers something they already know. (This is why I sometimes have large gaps between posts of late; it's hard to generate new and interesting material all the time.)

Anyway, every Angel fan already knows everything about our announcers, and I think we're pretty much in agreement about them. Suffice to say that I look forward to the new team's 50 games.

Labels: , , , , ,

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?