Breaking Down The DH Market

8 01 2011

Posted by Brady

This season there are 3 super premium options for the designated hitter role. Two of which will definitely have a job somewhere if they want it, and one….might not. Naturally, I am talking about Jim Thome, Vladimir Guerrero, and Manny Ramirez.  These are three aging future Hall of Fame hitters with limited defensive skills, who can still hit the ball a mile. All three of them have their advantages and their disadvantages. Let’s break it down, shall we?

Jim Thome

Anyone who has read my work on Pine Tar and Pocket Protectors in the past knows that I have always been, and will always be a huge Jim Thome fan. He’s Jim Thome. Who doesn’t love him? In any season where he’s played in 100 games his career LOW in home runs is

His ISO was a ridiculous .282, and at age 39 he just had what you could call a career year.

23.  You know exactly what you’re getting from him every year. Just pencil him in for 25 bombs and let it go. But he does more than just launch baseballs. 1679 walks. That is good for ninth all time and first among active players. He owns a .278/.404/.559 hitting line, and an OPS+ of 147.  His ISO is a ridiculous .282, and at age 39 he just had what you could call a career year.

As far as any issues with Thome, it’s pretty clear. The only man who has been rung up more than Thome is Reggie Jackson. He can’t be nor does he want to be a full time player, and he’s a career .238 against left handed pitchers. He can’t even play an emergency 1B. He hasn’t touched a glove since 2007, and that was only for one game.

Manny Ramirez

His plus side is so ridiculously similar to his former Indian teammate that it’s barely worth talking about. 555 home runs, .998 career OPS, and a 155 OPS+. Everything that Thome can do, Manny Ramirez can do, just a little better. .312/.411/.586 career hitter. The only thing that Manny Ramirez can’t do with a bat better than Jim Thome is pure extra base power. Ramirez only has a .274 ISO. But

The only problem with Manny Ramirez is that he is Manny Ramirez.

over their careers, Manny and Thome have been virtually just as valuable. Thome brings a career 73.5 WAR to to Ramirez’s 72.2

The only problem with Manny Ramirez is that he is Manny Ramirez. Do I really need to recap this? How many problems did he have in Boston? How many problems did he have in Los Angeles? How many problems did he have in Cleveland? I can’t think of many in Cleveland….but that was 10 years ago. Cleveland is his ideal destination. It seems like he wants to finish where he started. Any team looking to sign him better be careful, as he hasn’t had 500 PAs since 2008. He is still a game changer. But only when he wants to be.

Vladimir Guerrrero

How can anybody not what Vladimir Guerrero on their team? Over the course of 162 games he averages 35 home runs.  And while Thome and Ramirez average 40 and 39 respectively, he has one thing that they don’t. An uncanny ability to not strike out. How does

How can anybody not want Vladimir Guerrero on their team?

he do it? He has an uncanny ability to make contact, and good contact, on any pitch in any count, in any situation against any pitcher. The man doesn’t strikeout, but the man doesn’t walk. He his, however a career .320/.383/.563 career hitter. Only Babe Ruth, Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, and Jimmy Foxx have a .320 average and 400 or more home runs.  His ISO is lower than Thome and Ramirez, at .243 but his OPS+ is right in line at 143.  Throughout his 15 year career Guerrero has contributed 61.7 WAR to the Expos, the Angels, and the Rangers.

I’ll be honest, I tried to think of any cons to a team trying to sign Guerrero, other than being old, there isn’t a lot. He doesn’t have a significant injury history. He’s reached 600 PAs every year but one since becoming a full time player. And he is a suitable back up outfielder. Teams start a lot worse (Delmon Young) than Guerrero. In my personal opinion, he is the best option at DH this year.

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What the Beltre Signing Means for Texas

7 01 2011

After settling for a short-term deal last off-season, Beltre finally gets his big contract.

Posted by BaconSlayer09

You know that saying, “you learn something new every day”?  Well today, I learned that Adrian Beltre doesn’t like to be touched in certain places (don’t know what this is about? See this). And no, I’m not talking about down there. Although it might be interesting to know Beltre did get his left nut obliterated by a baseball once. See you learned two things today and both have to do with Adrian Beltre.

However, the majority of this post will have nothing to do with where Adrian Beltre prefers to get touched or whether or not he still has a testicle remaining. Instead, I’ll be breaking down that nice 5 year $80 million deal he just got from the Rangers and how Beltre will impact the Rangers this upcoming season. It looks like you’ll be learning more than just two things from me today.

Adrian Beltre is one of the premier third baseman in baseball and the contract he got doesn’t really surprise me. Here’s the breakdown of the contract – 2011: $14MM, 2012: $15MM, 2013: $16MM, 2014: $17MM, 2015: $18MM, and a $16 million vesting option for 2016 with a bunch of ways for the Rangers to avoid it. So there’s at least $80 million guaranteed in this deal. By today’s standards at $4.5 million per win, this expects Beltre to an 18 WAR player over the longevity of the contract. However, that’s a very inaccurate figure since we need to take inflation into account. Using Bill James and CAIRO projections for 2011, we can get an idea of how much Beltre will be worth this upcoming season. We will then regress his WAR by .5 each year (since he’s getting up there in age). At the same time, we will inflate the value of a win by 6% each year. This is a rough estimate of his value throughout the entirety of the contract.

2011: 5.0 WAR ($22.5MM)
2012: 4.5 WAR ($21.5MM)
2013: 4 WAR ($20.2MM)
2014: 3.5 WAR ($18.6MM)
2015: 3 WAR ($16.9MM)
2016: 2.5 WAR ($15MM)

From the looks of this rough estimate, Beltre’s value will exceed his contract every season until the last guaranteed year of his contract. He will likely not be worth his $16 million vesting option. Overall, Beltre brings $115 million of value in 6 years and $100 million in 5 years. So the Rangers’ net gain will be around $20 million in both scenarios. Now this is considering Beltre ages well and doesn’t suffer any crippling injuries. I can’t see into the future, but given Beltre’s pretty clean injury history, this should be a fairly accurate model. If these educated guesstimates are what’s going to happen, then the Rangers just got themselves a pretty good bargain on one of the best 3B in baseball.

Enough about five years down the road, the question now is how does he impact the Rangers in 2011? By combining CAIRO and Bill James projections for 2011, I took a look at just how good the Rangers’ lineup will be using Baseball Musing’s Lineup Analyzer.

1. SS Andrus
2. 2B Kinsler
3. LF Hamilton
4. RF Cruz
5. 3B Beltre
6. DH Young
7. 1B Moreland
8. C Torrealba
9. CF Borbon

This lineup averages 5.18 runs per game. If you replace Beltre with Guerrero and swap spots with Nelson Cruz, that lineup would produce 5.25 runs. The .07 run difference per game results in a difference of 11.3 runs per 162 games.

Beltre has been fairly inconsistent as a hitter. He seems to hit extremely well in contract years.

But that’s not all, you also have to take defense into consideration since Michael Young is now a DH and Beltre will be the starting 3B. No matter what the Gold Glove voters tell you, Michael Young is not a good fielder. Tom Tango’s fan scouting reports had Young as a -9 defender last season. Young’s total UZR in the past two seasons at 3B is -13. John Dewan’s DRS hates him the most, giving him a -31 rating over the past two seasons. If you combine these three, Young’s around a -9 defender at 3B.

On the other hand, pretty much everyone agrees that Adrian Beltre is one of the best defensive 3B around. Beltre’s total UZR in the past three seasons is 37.5, his DRS is a +55, and the fans say he’s saved 30 runs over the past two seasons. Put these three things together and Beltre averages out to be a +15 defender at 3B. Therefore, the difference between Young and Beltre on defense is around 24 runs.

In order to evaluate the net impact, we subtract the 11.3 run difference between having Beltre on offense instead of Guerrero from the 24 run difference between Beltre and Young’s defense. In the end, we end up with a number of 12.7, or something around 1.3 wins. Those 1.3 wins are worth $5.85 million in value for 2011. Beltre’s salary is $14 million this upcoming season. Therefore, Beltre’s if we subtract Beltre’s surplus value from his salary, we then end up with the salary that Guerrero should sign for in order for the Rangers to break even for 2011. That specific number is $8.15 million. After Guerrero’s bounce-back season last year, it would not surprise me if a team gives Guerrero $8 million, if not more.

So technically, it’s a wash for this season in terms of money. The Rangers end up gaining 1 win in signing Beltre instead of Guerrero and they also don’t overspend a ridiculous amount this season. If Beltre performs like he is projected this season and then does not regress more than the model I posted above, this is a very good deal for the Rangers in the short term and the long term.

Now, if you didn’t click on the link I posted above, here’s part of what you missed.

Beltre's signing probably means Rangers players shouldn't try to touch his head...





The 2011 Montreal Expos!

10 11 2010
Posted by WAMCO

The Montreal Expos moved to Washington DC in time to start the 2005 season. While the popular method to summarize their move was due to lack of support in Montreal, this does not really tell the whole story. The fans of the Expos did not have a chance. It is hard to be a fan of a team when you were more or less told, every year from 1995-onward, that your team was going to move. It is hard to support a team with an owner that abandoned them, and Major League Baseball had to take over. While MLB owned the team, they once famously refused to allow the team to make September call-ups while they were in a pennant race, putting them at a disadvantage. Like I say, the reasons for Montreal losing their team are far more complex than the attendance issues. However, this discussion is for another day.

As the 2011 season approaches, I got to thinking about some of the great players that played in Montreal. Every now and then, watching a ball game, I’ll see someone like Vladimir Guerrero or Carl Pavano and think, “he used to play in Montreal.”

Of course, if the Expos were re-formed, Youppi would be a big part of it. After the Expos moved to Washington, Youppi signed as a free agent with the Montreal Canadiens of the NHL, so he is still active in the community!

How many players who played in Montreal are still out there? I decided to attempt to construct an all-Expos line-up, comprised of active players who played for Montreal at some point (much thanks to baseball-reference.com for assistance with this research!). This includes guys who signed free agent contracts with the Expos, but does not include minor leaguers that were traded before they reached the majors (so, sadly, no Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore or Brandon Phillips for this team). Here goes:

Catcher – This position was a problem. Brian Schneider is the only active catcher to have played a game with the Expos, and quite obviously his best years are behind him. Gregg Zaun signed a free agent contract with the Expos in the offseason of 2003, so for now I am going to cheat a bit and include him as the backup catcher.

Infield – This group will need a lot of luck if they are to avoid the injuries that have plagued their careers. At first base, we have the made-of-glass Nick Johnson. When healthy, Johnson can still provide decent on-base numbers. At second base, Macier Izturis, currently of the Angels, who had a cup of coffee with Montreal in 2004. This team will need him to repeat his numbers from 2009. The shortstop will be Orlando Cabrera. Throughout his career, Cabrera has been mis-cast as a top of the order type. He will continue to be mis-cast in that role here. At third base, the much-traveled Fernando Tatis, who shows how much we are really scraping the bottom of the barrel here. Backup infielders include many serviceable players, such as Geoff Blum, Brendan Harris and Jamey Carroll, who will all be required to help out. Mark Grudzielanek is somehow still eligible for this team, as he had a handful of at bats in 2010, but for now he will be in AAA.

Outfield/DH – The Expos used to play in the National League, but they are getting a DH here, due to the age of the players. Outfield defence will be an issue for this team, but there are some decent hitters available. The left fielder will be Milton Bradley, who started his major league career with the Expos. In center field, Ryan Church will be called upon to make up for Milton’s lack of range. In right field, Juan Rivera, currently of the Angels, will be counted on for his solid bat. Finally, at designated hitter, we are smarter than Ron Washington, and will not subject Vladimir Guerrero to the field. He will be counted on for his productive bat, and will definitely be burning his glove. Fernando Tatis can back up at the outfield corners, and someone will need to emerge as the backup in center (I suppose it would have to be Bradley, that is unfortunate…..).

Starting Rotation – This is definitely the strength of this team. There are many decent-to-good starters currently in the majors that have played for the Expos. The number one starter will be Carl Pavano, who has really turned his career around after his terrible run in New York. The number two starter is Ted Lilly, who did not pitch long for Montreal, but has turned into a solid starter. The number three starter will be Javier Vasquez. Hopefully the 2009 Vasquez shows up, and not the 2010 version. The 4th starter for these Expos will be Livan Hernandez, who was actually good in 2010 (I didn’t believe it either, look it up). Rounding out the rotation will be Shawn Hill, giving the team some Canadian content. Hill pitched well down the stretch in Toronto last year, coming off major surgery.

Bullpen – Another strength for this team, there are several solid relievers for them to go to in the late innings. Jon Rauch, who spent time closing for Minnesota in 2010 will handle the closing duties. Scott Downs, the solid set-up man for Toronto, will handle the 8th inning, with assistance from Miguel Batista, who has had two solid years of relief in a row (I couldn’t believe it, but it appears to be true). Guillermo Mota, Chad Cordero and Gary Majewski are all on the downside of their careers, but can all be effective middle relievers for this team. And when the game gets out of hand, Claudio Vargas can be counted on in long relief.

In summary, here are your 2011 Montreal Expos. Obviously, the line-up has seen better days, but given perfect health, it’s not the worst pitching staff I’ve seen. I think they’d win 70 games with some luck….. what do you all think?

Batting Order:
SS Cabrera
2B Izturis
1B Johnson
DH Guerrero
RF Rivera
LF Bradley
CF Church
3B Tatis
C Schneider
Bench:
C Zaun
UT Harris
UT Carroll
UT Blum
Rotation:
SP Pavano
SP Lilly
SP Vasquez
SP Hernandez
SP Hill
Bullpen:
CL Rauch
SU Downs
SU Batista
MR Majewski
MR Cordero
MR Mota
LR Vargas