MIAMI (AP) — Chuck Hernandez has been hired as pitching coach for the Miami Marlins and new manager Mike Redmond.
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ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Braves have agreed to a two-year deal with backup catcher Gerald Laird.
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Joe Posnanski pens the best piece I've read about the aftermath of last night's Most Valuable Player Award announcement: Joe Blogs: MVP (The Aftermath)
But I will say that one thing that seems to happen when it comes to the MVP is that many people first pick the PLAYER they want to vote for and then pick the REASONS after that. With Cabrera, it became apparent to some people after a while that just repeating, again and again, that he won the Triple Crown wasn’t quite getting the job done.*
It's a yearly thing :It’s the 2013 Hardball Times Baseball Annual. If you have interest in baseball or sabermetrics (I'm guessing you do if you're reading this) then check it out. I may or may not have written a few words in it.
As usual, we've tried to include something that will appeal to all people, and lots of things that will appeal to most people. Hard-core sabermetricians will be happy with the articles by Sean, Matt, Dave, Chris, Jeff/Brian and maybe even myself. Historians will find plenty of new perspectives. If you're interested in the business of baseball, we've put a lot of good content in there for you. And if you're just a fan of baseball in general, I think you'll find plenty to make the Annual worth your time and money.
Bill Petti of FanGraphs writes about fly balls (with cool charts!) : When You Really Need a Fly Ball | FanGraphs Baseball
Generally speaking, ground balls are heavily dependent on their vertical location and vertical break. In terms of vertical location, ground-ball rates increase the lower the pitch is thrown. Pitches lower than two feet above the plate induce ground balls at a rate more than 50%
This Rob Neyer piece is linked in our discussion thread. I'm not sure I know how I feel about it, but it's still a must-read: Why I'm retiring WAR (but not what it stands for) - Baseball Nation
It actually makes more sense to round off Win Shares (Shares) than Wins Above Replacement (Wins) because Shares tend to be larger numbers, so rounding leads to less imprecision. But the principle is the same: Decimals imply a precision that is neither real nor credible. According to FanGraphs, Cliff Lee finished last season with 4.9 Wins (or fWins), Wade Miley with 4.8 fWins. Does anyone really want to argue that that's a meaningful distinction?
If there was a perceived weakness in Colorado's lineup entering 2012, it was their corner infielders. Traditionally, a lineup gets quite a bit of production out of its 1st and 3rd basemen, but the Rockies were going to trot out the aging Todd Helton at 1st and a combination of Chris Nelson and Jordan Pacheco (and not super prospect Nolan Arenado) at the hot corner.
The way it played out in 2012 in terms of production from those positions was basically what I figured would happen: those three players got 1,165 plate appearances and combined for 0.9 fWAR. Indeed, those positions remain the largest black holes in Colorado's lineup going into 2013.
While Tyler Colvin and Michael Cuddyer spent time at first base, both were primarily outfielders and will be covered in that section. At third base, Jonathan Herrera and DJ LeMahieu saw time, but they were previously covered, as was Jason Giambi's minimal contributions at first. In other words, I'll be covering Helton, Nelson, and Pacheco in order of their fWAR contribution to the 2012 Rockies.
Todd Helton (0.4 fWAR)
It's indicative of the production Colorado received from the corner infield that the 38 year-old Helton, who only played in 69 games due to a variety of ailments -- but primarily a nagging hip injury he had surgery on in season, was the most valuable. Considering the circumstances, it's hard to consider his season a major disappointment. In fact, his injuries allowed Colorado to get all four of their outfielders' bats in the lineup at the same time.
In 283 PAs, Helton hit a career low .238. Still, Helton's OBP/SLB of .343/.400 elevated his hitting to a level close to league average (91 wRC+). He's still the best pure hitter on the team in my opinion. Helton's position of first base is the easiest according to the advanced metrics -- and the four-time Gold Glover was again a positive defender at the position, making him a rarity on the Rockies.
In 2013, Helton will be 39 and entering the final year of his contract with the team. Even if he remains healthy, he will require ample days off during the season. If he's able to play, he'll be the starter on Opening Day, though I remain doubtful that he'll be more than a decent back-up in terms of production in his farewell season.
Chris Nelson (0.3 fWAR)
I've long been the driver on the Free Chris Nelson bandwagon, so it was more than a little gratifying this season to see him get some consistent playing time towards the end of the year (though his 377 plate appearances were well below Pacheco's). If we were looking only on offense, Nelson's season would be a terrific success. Alas, he was something of a nightmare on defense.
Nelson, the Rockies' 1st round draft pick way back in 2004, played most of his career as a shortstop, so it was assumed by many that he would slot as an above average defender at second or third in the big leagues. Alas, that was not the case, as Nelson's defense had the worst ratings among the advanced defensive metrics -- he was worth -1.6 wins per UZR (fWAR) and -2.1 wins per DRS (rWAR). Considering the amount of time he was on the field, those are truly abysmal numbers.
Remove that part of the game though and the 27 year-old had himself a pretty great year, hitting .301/.352/.458 with a 105 wRC+. Even better, Nelson played his best ball in the second half of the season when his playing time got more consistent -- after the All-Star Break, his line was .344/.381/.500 in 196 plate appearances. That's a superlative batting line, one that was under-reported among the Rockies' myriad woes.
By the end of the year, Nelson seemed to be the primary third baseman for the Rockies, so he'll likely enter 2013 as the favorite for that spot. He'll face some stiff competition from Pacheco and Arenado though -- and if he can't shore up that shoddy defense under the tutelage of Walt Weiss, he won't be anything more than a part-time player next season.
Jordan Pacheco (0.2 fWAR)
Believe it or not, but Jordan Pacheco got the 3rd most plate appearances (505) of any Rockies player in 2012, behind Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler. Interestingly, all three of those players hit over .300 in their trips to the plate. However, unlike the two gentlemen above him, Pacheco was a well below average player in the aggregate, posting just 0.2 fWAR and -0.7 rWAR.
How did this occur? After all, Pacheco's .309/.341/.421 line was wildly successful considering his lack of prospect pedigree. Unfortunately, the relative lack of walks and power meant that Pacheco's successes translated only into a 93 wRC+, or slightly below league average as an offensive player. If Pacheco had been an average defensive player at 1B/2B/3B/C, he could have still been a valuable contributor to the team. Alas, this was not the case.
The 26 year-old had been drafted as a second baseman in 2007, but had been moved to catcher almost immediately in the minor leagues, so how Pacheco would fare at third base was one of the most interesting story lines of spring training. The answer was not very well -- though his -1.1 wins per UZR and -1.5 wins per DRS were better than Nelson, I guess.
Given his offensive profile (excellent contact rate, low power) and his limited defense, the place where Pacheco is most valuable just might be as a back-up catcher if he can handle the position like he did in limited action in 2012. Failing that, he's a serviceable corner utility player due to his bat -- but he should be no more than that in 2013 unless his defense takes a big step forward.
Next week, we'll review the middle infielders and outfielders.
We have spent the entire week here at Fish Stripes discussing the latest in the betrayal of trust perpetrated by the Miami Marlins in their mega-trade with the Toronto Blue Jays. The deal sent some of the Marlins' best players to the Jays for a set of prospects and players with serious questions as major leaguers, prompting the immediate discussion of a "fire sale" within the organization. Based on the observations made here and elsewhere, it seems very clear that a fire sale is exactly what this trade accomplished, and the fans have only Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria to blame.
There is a very good chance that said fans will blame the subsequent disappointment and failure of this ball club on Loria, and rightfully so. Loria is at the center of controversy after going back on his word to the fan base about a new era of change for the Marlins organization. He went back on his word to a number of free agents when he signed them to long-term deals and told them that he wanted them in Miami for the long haul. He turned his back on Giancarlo Stanton and the remaining players on the Fish who are now left to fend for themselves with little talent remaining on the team. While the Marlins accomplished a decent amount in the trade in terms of restocking the organization's barren minor league system, the team also did irreparable damage to the roster, its players' support, and the fans' opinions.
Despite all of this, however, Loria simply will not care. Despite what he says to the contrary, this trade is one that will damage the reputation of the organization enough that it will become more difficult in future seasons to return to prominence, no matter what happens on the field. Even if all of the balls bounce the right way for the Marlins with this return, it will be a while until the fans can heal from this latest purging of the roster. Meanwhile, Loria knows that he can continue to make profits even off of the team's misfortunes. Thanks to revenue sharing and much of the centralization of Major League Baseball's resources, the Marlins can still rake in cash despite not drawing crowds, as Loria once did years ago under a worse stadium lease and harsher baseball economic conditions.
So what are Marlins fans to do? Those of us who have not been completely alienated by the trade and the direction of this ball club are left with a team that is going to be difficult for which to root for the next few seasons. It seems impossible for this Marlins team to compete, and yet we want to support our club no matter what.
I say you do what Marlins fans have often done best: not show up in droves. Boycott the Miami Marlins!
Now, do not get me wrong. If I boycotted the Miami Marlins, I would be out of a blogging job. As angry as I am about the direction of the organization, I cannot pull myself away from this team. I am a diehard fan through and through, more so since taking over as a blogger of the Marlins in 2009. I cannot imagine a baseball season without following the Marlins carefully, because in my heart of hearts, I love this team unconditionally. Call it blind loyalty, but when you attach yourself to a team as a fan and that team delivers some of your fondest memories of sports fandom, it is hard to tear yourself away. Thus, you can bet on me supporting the Marlins and continuing to write about them and analyze them in 2013.
But a boycott in this sense is not one in which you do not show your support for the team you love. The boycott is for you to display your lack of support for Loria and everything that he has done to hinder the organization with his meddlesome decisions as owner. And the only way to do that is not to necessarily cut off your support of the team so much as the financial support of the organization.
This means that, at least in 2013, I advise that you not attend any Marlins games, home or elsewhere when the Fish come to visit. The new Marlins Park is a beautiful facility that I thoroughly enjoyed visiting, but every penny of revenue from the park goes to the Miami Marlins and into the coffers of Jeffrey Loria. After the betrayal of the fans' trust and belief, it should be obvious that the first thing Marlins fans should do is the thing we have done best for many years: not show up at the stadium. Given what we know Loria will likely do with the revenue we provide from showing up at the turnstiles, why give him any more money to pocket? Marlins fans should speak with their wallet and not allow Marlins Park attendance to reach one million this season. If that were to happen, it would be just the second time in team history that the organization could not draw a million fans in a season, and what better year to do it than one in which the product on the field is flawed and could be among the worst in baseball.
But that is not all. Marlins merchandise sold fairly well last season based on reports that we had heard, but those merchandise sales are also lining the wallets of Jeffrey Loria. Boycotting the Miami Marlins in 2013 also means that you should not buy any merchandise from the team. That includes third-party distribution of merchandise in addition to products purchased from the team store. Do not put one bit of your finances into the Miami Marlins next season, including in clothing, flags, or other overpriced gadgets designed to show off your love of the team.
As I mentioned, however, the Marlins should not go unloved, even in public. The boycott does not mean that you do not speak of the Marlins and their 2013 play, nor does it mean that you should not proudly wear the gear you already have. And while this boycott calls for you to forego all purchases of tickets in 2013, it does not mean that you should not watch the team via television or MLB.tv if you have the chance. By all means, you should support the Marlins in any way that would still keep you from spending a dime on this team and giving it to Loria. I know that I will be tracking the team via their telecasts, as a part of that money is already guaranteed centrally to the Marlins as part of a larger fund. The Marlins have their television deals set, regardless of what I do right now, so using the television or radio is the safest bet for you to follow your favorite team without supporting its heinous owner.
Last season, the Marlins got me hooked. I spent the more money on merchandise and tickets last year than I ever spent on the Fish before. I wanted to believe in a new direction for the team, and I did believe. But Jeffrey Loria fooled me like he fooled so many other fans with his talk of change. And I will still support my Marlins, through and through, even if it means I will not be in their beautiful stadium rooting in person. in 2013, I will not support anything Loria does financially. He may very well still turn a profit through manipulation of MLB's revenue sharing system, but Jeffrey Loria will not earn a dime from me next season.
Dwight Gooden & His 1996 No-Hitter!!! As a member of the New York Yankees in 1996, Dwight Gooden threw the eighth no-hitter in the franchise’s history. On May 14, 1996, ‘Doc’ and his Yankees teammates took on the Seattle Mariners … Continue reading →
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DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Tigers have finalized their $26 million, two-year deal with outfielder Torii Hunter.
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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Oakland Athletics have traded right-hander Tyson Ross and minor league first baseman A.J. Kirby-Jones to the San Diego Padres for infielder Andy Parrino and left-hander Andrew Werner.
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This is the latest in a series of articles looking at the Royals position by position in an attempt to see where they might hope to find some offense. I'm doing this within the context of the American League Central, which is all the Royals need to concern themselves with in terms of getting to the postseason.
So who played shortstop for the Royals in 2012 and how did they fare?
*sOPS+ is how the player compared offensively to the rest of the American League third basemen. 100 is about average while 90 is about 90% of average.
Alcides Escobar had a fine offensive season, but oddly not as good as I had expected compared to other AL shortstops. Now, 2012 was a really good year for offensive shortstops, but I'm really shocked that the numbers say Escobar was about 10% above average. Also, in a gross misuse of sample size he was the least productive shortstop on the team on a per at-bat basis. Viva la Betancourt!
Escobar was a superior fielder, a superior bat in 2012, he's still young and under team control. It would be nice to have a player who could do a decent job of spelling him on occasion. Falu, Abreu...whatever. A warm body who can field a lick at SS and you hope Escobar stays healthy. In other words, there's not of need to focus on this position in the near term.
So how did the SS unit compare to the rest of the division?
Not surprisingly, the Royals were at the top of the heap, even if they had to share it with the Indians. Finally, after going through the entire infield we find a single position where the Royals come out ahead of the rest of the division. That's not a good sign considering we still have RF left to go.
The only position on the infield in 2012 where the Royals had the best or at least tied for best offensive player was at a defensive premium position. Don't get me wrong, it's fantastic to have an offensive leader at a position like shortstop. But if I can have one position where the team leads the rest of the division in offense, i want it to be first or third.
Alcides Escobar is a glaring example of something the Royals have done right. They traded away a soon to be free agent in Zack Greinke and got back, amongst other things a premium defender at a premium position who also wields a decent bat. They signed him to a club friendly contract and they can just let the position sit unless there's an injury. That is exactly the way small market clubs should be thinking.
I've done this analysis four or five times now and this year seems like the first one where there aren't a bunch of positions where the Royals must do something now. My god, how long have we been pining for a stable and league average shortstop? We've got more than that now and the Royals should get some credit for that.
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The Texas Rangers are going to defend the Alamo.
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