Today’s Trivia contest is one of those special grab bags- which means, don’t you dare[...]
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The Houston Astros are making their AL West debut in 2013, and they'll be doing so with a few more players who are used to the division. The Astros swung a trade with the Oakland Athletics on Monday, and the team will send shortstop / third baseman Jed Lowrie and reliever Fernando Rodriguez to the Athletics in exchange for first baseman / designated hitter Chris Carter, pitcher Brad Peacock, and minor league catcher Max Stassi.
As usual, I'll break down this deal for each team ... but up front, I'll say this: I think both teams benefit from the deal. The Athletics needed another player who can handle the left side of the infield, and one who can play at a high level in 2013. The Astros need lots of players, especially impact bats and solid starting pitchers, and they may have gotten one of each in this deal.
It's possible (probably) that the A's snagged the best player in this trade, in Jed Lowrie. Lowrie had quite good performance in 2012, especially on a rate basis. Jed slugged 16 homers in 387 plate appearances, and posted a .244/.331/.438 triple-slash line. For any regular, that's a pretty great season ... but for a shortstop, that's actually quite excellent. A wRC+ of 111 not only is great for a shortstop, but it was one of the better rate stats for his entire team in 2012.
Lowrie's versatility and bat make him a valuable commodity, especially on a team with as many infield question marks as the Athletics. Unfortunately, Jed comes with a question mark of his own: health. Injuries follow Lowrie around like a puppy follows its master. The Athletics seem to want to use Lowrie as a super-utility player, which is a great idea in theory, given that Lowrie hasn't shown the ability to put a full season together anyways. Jed is also looking to hit his final year of arbitration in 2014, so he'll only have two years of control for the Athletics. But the Athletics seem to be pushing towards another playoff push in 2013, and with that in mind, and a little luck and health, Lowrie could be a big part of the A's team and offense this coming season.
In addition to Lowrie, the Athletics add strikeout artist Fernando "Don't Call Me K-Rod" Rodriguez to shore up their bullpen. The last two seasons in Houston haven't resulted in great ERAs (4.89 career ERA), but the strikeouts have been there for F-Rod. Fellow BtBSer Glenn DuPaul listed Rodriguez as a player to watch for improvement in 2013 over at The Hardball Times, due in no small part to his impressive strikeout totals. Over his career, he's got a 24.9% strikeout rate, which is pretty darn good and shows that he has potential to eat high-leverage innings. If he can limit walks and homers (always a question), he could be a substantive addition to the Oakland 'pen.
In this deal, the Athletics targeted a position of need (middle infield and third base) and struck quickly, acquiring a player who is an injury risk, but is very productive when healthy. To me, this is very much like the John Jaso and Chris Young trades: deals designed to improve the team in the short term (next 2-3 seasons) in exchange for giving up some of the team's prospect depth. If the A's are able to really surge and return to the playoffs this year or next, I see these deals as being completely worth it. And if the team tanks, they can always try to re-deal their new "veterans" like Lowrie and Jaso.
In exchange for Lowrie (and Rodriguez), the Astros are getting back three substantial players. The biggest immediate impact should come from Chris Carter, who broke out in a big offensive way in 2013, posting a killer 137 wRC+ in 67 games, including 16 homers. Carter grips and rips, and though he punished left-handed pitchers more than righties, he posted solid numbers against each ... even though he actually faced more right-handers. Carter is really the prototypical three true outcomes hitter, if he can repeat 2012: huge power, a strikeout rate above 30%, and a phenomenal 15% walk rate. That's the kind of hitter that any team can get behind, and Carter would have been the best hitter on the 2012 Astros by a huge margin.
Unfortunately, Carter's glovework was, uh, abysmal according to the major defensive metrics. Despite spending only about 470 innings at first base, Carter gave away several runs with the glove: -7.2 according to UZR and -5 according to DRS. Baseball Prospectus's FRAA, a metric that is constructed a little differently than the other two, actually had Carter as slightly above-average (0.5 FRAA), but I'm not sure anyone would consider him an average defensive player. So Carter slots in immediately as the new DH for the Astros, presumably ... especially given that the team has never had a DH before.
Brad Peacock came to the A's as part of the Gio Gonzalez deal, but didn't pitch in the majors in 2012 ... despite the fact that just about every other young starter in the A's organization did. In terms of ERA, Peacock really tanked in 2012 (6.01 ERA at Triple-A), but his underlying peripherals weren't quite that bad. His heat and curveball can still get strikeouts, but it's reaching put-up-or-shut-up time for the 25-year-old in the majors. But given that there's not much competition for the major-league staff in Houston, Peacock should get every chance to break camp with the big league rotation.
Finally, Max Stassi is a prospect that's close to my heart, as I was a big advocate for my favorite team, the Mets, to pick him up in the second or third round of the 2009 MLB Draft. Stassi wound up popping a large bonus after being drafted by the Athletics in the fourth round, but he hasn't exactly lived up to the promise he showed before 2009. In 2012, Stassi put up league-average offensive performance in High-A ... which is not exactly what the team was looking for from an offense-first catcher with real power potential. Stassi still has time and the ability to improve, to refine his hitting approach, and to cut down on strikeouts, but he's probably not a top-tier prospect -- especially in a deep system like Houston's.
The Astros added three pieces that have a chance to be starters in the future: a hitter, a starting pitcher, and a catcher, in exchange for a reliever and middle infielder who probably won't be an important part of the next
great good halfway-decent Astros team.
All data from FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus.
Hank Aaron Is A 3-Time Gold Glove Winner Often overshadowed due to his lack of flare and desire to be in the spotlight, Hank Aaron was a very solid outfielder over the course of his career. And from 1958-1960, he … Continue reading →
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Dave Cameron responds to Jim Caple's article on WAR: What WAR Is Good For | FanGraphs Baseball
We care about stats that answer questions that we care about. And there is perhaps no question in baseball that is asked more frequently than "how good is that player?" Whether it’s at the bar talking with your neighbor or discussing a blockbuster trade at the winter meetings, the question of a player’s overall worth is everywhere. And, at its heart, this is the question that WAR seeks to answer.
Anna McDonald talks to Cardinals GM John Mozeliak about sabermetrics: How the Cardinals use sabermetrics - SweetSpot Blog - ESPN
On the bookshelves in John Mozeliak's office, several books with a dark background and bright red letters on the spine stand out. The shelves hold many items, some pictures and many baseball books, but it is the red letters the eye gravitates toward. They read, "Bill James Handbook."
Chris Jaffe looks back on some of the most memorable moments of last season: Memories of 2012, from the odd to the end (Part 1) | The Hardball Times
Well, we’re still stuck in the long months of the offseason. Baseball is still months away—and even spring training is weeks off. In times like this, it’s nice to have some pleasant baseball memories. So let’s look back at some pleasant memories of the 2012 season. Oh, it would be pointless to go over the biggest and best of them. Those are the memories that are still so fresh and so widely known that recounting them would be pointless. Instead, let’s go through some of the out-of-the-way ones, the little juicy nuggets you might’ve missed during the season that were part of what makes baseball interesting.
Rob Neyer analyzes the career of one of the greatest sinkerballers in the modern era: How good was Brandon Webb? | Baseball Nation
How good was Brandon Webb? Over those six seasons, he ranks second in Wins Above Replacement (Baseball-Reference.com's version, or rWins+) in the majors. Only Johan Santana fares better. He's third in innings, and third in ERA+. You can make an excellent case that he was third-best pitcher in the majors over that span, behind only Santana and Roy Halladay.
Sam Miller, Jason Wojciechowski and Ben Lindbergh discuss Chase Headley: Arbitration Showdown: Mock Hearing: Chase Headley | Baseball Prospectus
Trying to lead the league in an offensive category at Petco is like giving everybody else a one-month head start. Last season, though, Chase Headley did what no Padre had. He led the National League in runs batted in, while also leading all NL third basemen in home runs, runs scored, and games played. That he did it in the offense-strangling environment of Petco puts his performance among the best by a third baseman in the past decade.
Rob Castellano looks at some of the best pitches by Mets pitchers (with GIFs!): The Top Five Mets Pitches of 2012 | Amazin' Avenue
A couple weeks ago we looked at the five longest Mets home runs in 2012. Today, we'll look at the other side of the coin and review the five pitches that most affected the Mets 2012 campaign.
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In today's edition of Sabersphere, Josh Weinstock looks at some factors that could impact whiffs on breaking balls: Inducing Whiffs: Breaking Balls | Beyond the Box Score
What makes a breaking ball nasty? As a knowledgeable baseball fan, you would probably answer that a combination of movement, location, and velocity all contribute to making a breaking ball nasty. Today I will examine how accurately we can predict nastiness using these three variables, where nastiness is defined as whiffs per swing.
Hank Aaron’s Spectacular 1954 Topps Rookie Baseball Card Very few players have baseball cards that continue to maintain or increase in value after retirement, after Hall of Fame enshrinement, and after their lofty records fall. Very few players can measure … Continue reading →
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Last off-season, the Miami Marlins farm system was ranked as one of the worst in all of baseball. Last January, John Sickels ranked the Marlins organization 29th out of 30 teams. This is what Sickels had to say last year: 29) Miami Marlins: Relatively even balance between hitting and pitching, but not a lot of [...]
Happy Birthday Henry Louis Aaron!!!! That’s right, today is ‘Hammerin’ Hank Aaron’s 79th birthday. And I plan on celebrating Hank’s birthday in grand style!! The day will be full of posts celebrating the major league career of one of the … Continue reading →
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New York, the city and the sports fans are not exactly known for their sportsmanship. It is no secret that losing doesn?t bode well here in the Big Apple. That cannot be so surprising considering the city?s divine right to win is considered an unwritten[...]
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I’ve got Inside Information to share with you tonight!
And here it is. Anyone in my line of work who EVER advertises they have inside information is a liar. The only exception to this absolute is if the person or company in possession of this info is dumber than mud.
I don’t want to turn this into a novel, so here’s the simple skinny on inside information. If you are willing to share with it everyone, whether for a fee or gratis…then it’s NO LONGER INSIDE INFORMATION! So the entire process of promoting that you have inside info is a total sucker play.
I’ve gotten some great inside information over the years. I once got info on a ringer running in the first race at Narragansett on some bleak winter day back in the 1970′s. The info came from the jockey, who happened to be in substantial arrears with his local sports accountant and thought this would be a good way to wipe away the deficit. It was gold, and the horse (listed as Conistical but in reality a much higher grade horse out of NY) won in a romp at about 7/1.
I got accidental inside info once in the press room at some fight from a manager. Funny story. I don’t recall the fighter’s name, but the opponent was one of the Ruelas brothers. The fighter I cannot remember was from Minnesota. Anyway, this is about three hours prior to the event, and this guy comes into the press room with a record album in tow. He wants to know who he’s supposed to give the music to for his guy’s ring walk. I’m the only one in the press room at the time, and I’m curious as to how this guy is so clueless. Turns out he’s a bio-technician in some lab back in Minny, and he’s acting as the manager because the fighter really doesn’t have an actual manager. He also tells me that his guy is scared stiff and just wants to go back home. I wish him good luck, give him the name of the fight p.r. guy he needs to give the music to, and say goodbye. I spend the next half hour or so betting as much as I can on Ruelas at anywhere from -350 to -400 and clean up. Huge win.
I used to do a network show on Sunday mornings that featured live on-site reports from a beat writer at each NFL home stadium. I’m talking with the Chicago insider, and while we’re in a commercial break, he tells me he’s standing ankle-deep in mud at Soldier Field. The drainage has always been lousy there, but this was worse than usual. Basically, he says the field is unplayable. As I’m reasonably savvy on these things, it occurs to me this might be a really good Under bet. I believe the final score was 6-0.
These are a sample of inside info tidbits. They absolutely exist. But they’re mostly few and far between…and when you do get hold of a morsel, you keep it to yourself. NO ONE with actual inside info is going to advertise it unless they’re remarkably stupid. So the next time you hear an ad on my station (ESPN1100/98.9 FM in Las Vegas) or one in your town where some “investment group” is claiming to have “information” no one else has, immediately conclude that they’re lying. Call only after purchasing that prime oceanfront land in Pahrump. It’s pretty much going to get you to the same financial place.
Here’s Tuesday’s comp.
02/05 04:00 PM CB (521) BOSTON COLLEGE VS (522) MIAMI FLORIDA
Take: (521) BOSTON COLLEGE
Miami has gone from what was a pretty well kept secret to a contender to roll deep into March. The Hurricanes are good and they’ve got a savvy vet running the show in Jim Larranaga. The long ago Providence College star was under the radar for years at Bowling Green and George Mason, but got famous when he guided the amazing Colonials to the Final Four a handful of years ago. The ‘Canes are 17-3 against a spectacularly tough schedule and they have a legit shot to be a #1 seed in March. They are also the vastly superior team here. Boston College is a nondescript entry and their most positive trait is grit. The Eagles are the second best team on the court in virtually all ACC games, but they fight tooth and nail almost every night. As a result, BC has been a pretty good spread team. Tonight’s game is not close on paper. But it’s a dead spot of sorts for Miami, as the ‘Canes are off a vital road win at NC State with a big date against North Carolina on deck. Clearly, this is a plus scheduling spot for the underdog. The bad news is that the oddsmakers are just as smart as us bettors think we are, and they’ve input these dynamics into the number. The game power rates to Miami -17, but it opened -15 and got bet down to -14. That said, it’s also a spot where Miami figures to not be at its sharpest, so I’m still siding with the dog. Just let it be said I’m doing so with the knowledge I’m not getting full value in the process. But Boston College plus the points still gets my vote to hang within the spread.
Happy Birthday Roberto Alomar!! Roberto Alomar celebrates his 45th birthday today! Roberto Alomar has a lot to be thankful for as he celebrates his birthday today… He had a fantastic career that was peppered with tons of individual and team … Continue reading →
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