Archive for April 2010

Ryan Howard’s Eye-Opening Deal

April 28, 2010

It is not really surprising that Ryan Howard signed a long-term deal with the Phillies, but what is surprising is that he managed to earn 25 million over 5 years starting in 2012. While Phillies management thinks that they are helping themselves by ensuring that they have a powerful bat in the middle of the lineup, all they are really doing is hurting themselves long term. Ryan Howard’s enormous deal begins when he will be in the tail end of his prime years and runs through age 37. For a player that earns most of his value through the long ball and does not have good contact rates, even as a young player, you have to be concerned with the large amount of money that Howard got. In order to live up to his new contract, he will have to have to repeat his 2006 season five times. In 2006, he posted a 6.8 WAR and had career highs in many categories including home runs, wOBA, BB%, and slugging%. Remember, Howard will have to do this during age 32-37 which will not be easy. We know that his 45+ home run power is not likely to be there in his mid-30’s but a glaring concern has to be the lack of plate discipline that Howard has shown throughout his career so far. He swings at pitches out of the zone 26.4% of the time in his career, his contact percentage inside the strike zone is 78.6% compared to around 88% which is league average, and he is only making contact on 39.5% of the 26.4% of pitches that he swings at outside of the zone. This results in a career 32.2% strikeout percentage. So I leave you with this question, if his plate discipline is already sub-par and the decline of his power is inevitable during this contract period, how do we expect him to produce enough offense to live up to this contract? Well, the answer is easy. He won’t. I see this deal being eerily similar to the 8 year/136 million dollar deal that Alfonso Soriano got from the Cubs in 2007.

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He’s baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack

April 28, 2010

Francisco Liriano.

8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 10 K, 1 BB

And for the season…

29 IP, 18 H, 3 R, 27 K, 10 BB

SSS, but so far, so nasty.

Brett Anderson’s New Deal

April 19, 2010

On Friday the Oakland Athletics locked up their young and soon to be ace Brett Anderson. He signed a 4 year/12.5 million dollar deal through 2013. This deal also includes a club-option for 2014 and 2015. This deal was a very smart one by Oakland because Anderson has a lot of potential and upside. Brett Anderson has started out this 2010 season extremely well. He had a little hiccup against Baltimore yesterday but do not expect that to happen that often this season. I know its an extremely small sample size, but he is getting more ground balls (57.1% this year vs. 50.9% last year), giving up less walks per 9 (1.59 this season and 2.31 last season), and his FIP is almost a full run and a half lower in 2010. Another good sign is that he has yet to give up a home run in three starts when he gave up 20 last year in 175.1 innings of work. The Athletics have surprised some so far this year with a 9-5 record which is 4th best in the American League. Oakland has a nice rotation and a good core of young players. Brett Anderson is undoubtedly in my top 5 favorite pitchers to watch and his slider is quite underrated. I would love to see Oakland contend in the AL West again and locking up Brett Anderson will surely help.

Ricky Romero: Arrived

April 19, 2010

In the 2005 MLB draft, Ricky Romero was taken with the sixth overall pick by the Toronto Blue Jays. Sandwiched between guys like Justin Upton, Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun, and Troy Tulowitzki, it seemed like Toronto wasted their pick. While those guys were busy becoming franchise players, Romero was stuck in the minors.

After a solid professional debut at the A+ level in 2006, where he posted a 2.47 ERA and 2.99 FIP in 58.1 innings, Romero began to lose his prospect status. After posting 4+ FIP’s at AA in 2007 and 2008, it appeared as though the lefty was becoming a bust.

But then he burst onto the scene in 2009, throwing 178 solid innings for Toronto. He had a 4.30 ERA, 4.33 FIP, 4.67 tERA, 7.13 K/9, 3.99 BB/9, 0.91 HR/9, and 2.7 WAR. Not great, but not bad for someone who was on the cusp of being labeled a bust.

It’s what he’s done so far in 2010 that has people taking notice of him. Granted SSS, but still. Over 15 innings he has sixteen K’s to just five hits, four walks, and one home run. Yeah.

So what’s been the difference so far? The cutter and change.

In 2009 Romero threw four pitches- fastball, changeup, curveball, and slider, with the change being his best pitch. He threw his low nineties fastball 53.3% of the time, but it was inaffective. It was -11.4 Runs Above Average (RAA). His slider was also relatively inaffective at -2.9 RAA, but he threw it just 9% of the time, the fewest of his four pitches. Meanwhile, his changeup was one of the best in baseball at 9.3 RAA and his curve was 0.2 RAA.

Obviously, as many Jays fans will tell you, he threw too many fastballs and it killed him. The pitch was not very good but he threw it more than half the time, while throwing his best pitch just 22.2% of the time. So he made some changes.

The first change was more change (you like that sentence?). In fifteen innings he’s thrown the changeup 29.4% of the time. He’s also thrown it at the expense of the fastball, which he’s thrown only 34.8% of the time.

But the biggest difference is his new cutter. The cutter is his fifth pitch and does two things for him. 1) It means less fastballs

2) By giving him a fifth pitch, it allows him to mix pitches effectively in order to keep hitters guessing and off balance

Point number two is huge. The dood has FIVE pitches that he has balanced well so far. The result is off balance hitters. He isn’t favoring his fastball like he was in 2009. A side effect is that all his pitches have been above average so far- even the fastball and slider. If he is feeling one pitch one game, he can go with it. He can also use a scouting report more effectively. The development of the cutter looks like it will do wonders.

As Marc Hulet of fangraphs wrote:

He has good fastball velocity for a lefty, and he sat between 89-93 mph with the heater for most of the night, but it was Romero’s ability to keep the hitters guessing that led to his success on the mound.


So far Ricky Romero has been a stud. He’s a ground ball pitcher who can also punch batters out. But as stated before, fifteen innings is a SSS. He is just 26 though and we’ll see if he can continue to balance and mix his pitches over the season.

Why baseball is awesome

April 19, 2010

In the same night, Ubaldo Jiminez hurled the first no-hitter in Colorado Rockies history, and there was a 20 inning game between the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets, where no runs were scored for the first eighteen innings.

I love baseball.

Bullpen mismanagement already

April 6, 2010

Joe Girardi, why was Chan-ho Park higher in the bullpen pecking order than D-Rob Sunday? Please tell me this was just a one time thing. D-Rob is good. Park is not so good. In fact, with Joba’s still decreased velocity, D-Rob might just be our best reliever not named Mo. So please, lets not waste good relievers in low leverage spots. And lets especially not lose because we pitch not so good relievers in higher leverage situations.

Kthxbye

Josh Beckett extending his tenure in Boston

April 6, 2010

After getting rocked by New York on Sunday night, Josh Beckett officially signed a 4 year, $68mil extension with Boston.

I’ll keep this post short and sweet. It’s a good bargain for Boston. Josh Beckett has been one of the best pitchers in baseball the past few seasons, with a WAR of 6.5, 5.0, and 5.3 in the past three seasons respectively. The fact he did so pitching in the AL East is even more impressive.

Going forward, the next four seasons should be no different. He is still on the top of his game, and will just be turning thirty in May. He should average 5 WAR per season over the length of the contract, but to be conservative, lets say he averages 4 WAR per season. That means his market value would be at least $16mil per season. Boston will be paying just over $15mil per. Then add in the fact Beckett is more valuable to a contending team like Boston who needs every win they can get in a tough division, and the contract is a thumbs up from Boston’s standpoint.

As for Beckett, I wonder why he didn’t hold out for the fifth year he wanted. Sure, $68mil is still a lot and maybe he just wants security so it doesn’t loom over him during the season. But considering the contract Lackey got and considering the contracts other pitchers got this off-season, it just makes you believe Beckett could have gotten more. I’m sure the Union won’t be too happy with this discount.