Wednesday, December 13, 2006

In which the author will not mention a certain lazy hurler formerly of the B-word Sox ...

OK, out the window with the baseball argument, your side of which has become so convoluted that it's difficult for my poor traditional logic-and-reason-loving brain to follow. A few ancillary points:

1. You drop the "straw man" line about once a month, and yet you have never pointed out a legitimate straw man in your opponent's argument. You use it like most people use "begs the question" (meaning improperly, which, I believe, is a pet peeve of yours). Also, the most common phrasing is "attacking straw men," because of the origin of the metaphor (something military, I think). "Standing on straw men" is a mixed metaphor. Unless you're trying to innovate by making a cliche more fresh, in which case, sir, I commend thee.

2. Correlation certainly does imply causality. It doesn't prove it, but it sure as hell can and does imply it. Especially when you're talking about a nearly universal correlation in a sample size of roughly 150 starting pitchers, league-wide.

3. Joe Morgan seriously wrote Baseball for Dummies? I had no idea. And now I'm speechless. I wonder if it's too late to cancel the other Christmas present I was going to send you...

(spoiler: it's a huge man made of straw. I stole the straw from the Winterhaven hay rides that are currently clogging up every street within a square mile of my house and I made it myself. So I guess it's actually a hay man. Sorry.)

Dear pot, it's the kettle

I'll admit, my post was poorly organized and executed, which was the product of me spending roughly 30 total minutes on it spread over three days. I've been busy, which is having an adverse effect on my argumentation, which means I need to work less. But I find it funny that you felt my argument was so bad that you'd go ahead and prove it yourself.

So you're clearly right. Wins don't mean anything, Randy Johnson is average, and the entire Indians, Yankees, White Sox and Phillies pitching staffs -- including guys like Mussina, Contreras, Vazquez, Sabathia, Myers and Hamels -- are below average.

No, I don't think Mussina, Cotreras, Vasquez, Myers or Hamels are average at all. They're all above-average to really good pitchers. That's borne out by their statistics. And what did they all have in common? Low winning percentages. And what did Randy Johnson and Jon Garland have in common? Neither pitched as well as the guys you listed above, yet both won more games. Which, essentially, proves my point completely. Thank you; I was struggling to make it quite that concise.

Or maybe wins do mean something, because only good pitchers -- even with a good offense -- win 17 games. You're right about the "good pitchers with bad records" argument. But show me a statistically significant amount of bad or mediocre or average pitchers who win 17 games, regardless of offense.

I bet you can't. Which means wins are a good -- not the best, maybe, but a good -- indicator of a pitcher's value.

Correlation does not imply causality. Ignoring my pointing this out doesn't mean my argument doesn't exist. I actually stated this very clearly, with reference to wikipedia. When you were done mocking the form (cleverly, I admit) you should have actually read the entry.

You also originally argued that Freddy Garcia would "suck pretty hard" for the Phillies because Citizen's Bank is a bandbox.

I did indeed. And I believe he will, though I suppose "sucking" is relative, since you're going to look only at his win total and I'm going to look at only those things that have to do with how Garcia pitched. But, I'll make you a bet on your terms: Garcia wins more than 15 games, and I'll buy you a copy of this. I'll even get it signed, if he doesn't smell the computer on me from 100 yards out.

I hope we're done here.

Tired of standing on straw men? Yeah, we can change the subject.

From where the sun now stands ...

I shall talk no more about Freddy Garcia forever. This is tiresome.

But, since you insist on presenting your argument in the form of a poorly considered English 101 paper -- beginning with a dictionary definition, citing wikipedia, etc. -- I will present my counterargument as if I were grading your paper.


You clearly put a lot of effort into this assignment, and your paragraph organization is very strong. However, your thesis seems to have gotten way off-track at some point in the paper's writing -- wasn't your original argument that Freddy Garcia wouldn't succeed in the Phillies' new ballpark? You must have changed it when you realized how untenable your position was, which shows that you've paid attention during class discussions about the important of revision.

Unfortunately, your current argument about wins has some issues as well. You promise early on to somehow explain how wins don't reflect value to a team, but you deal with that only briefly, and your argument in that paragraph is weak. Saying that contributing to a team's "winning expectancy" is somehow more valuable than providing actual wins defies logic and good sense. You can contribute to your blackjack winning expectancy by playing smartly, but unless you actually win some hands, you're not getting any value.

Another thing I noticed is that you continue to imply that there is not a clear difference in meaning between the words "mediocre" and "average." You may want to consult a dictionary on that one: mediocre means "barely adequate" or "rather poor or inferior," while average means that something is close to the mean of a data set. They are similar in meaning, but the denotations are slightly different, and the connotations are significantly so.

Your next-to-last paragraph was a good example of effective argumentation. Solid effort on this draft. A few more revisions and it may have "A" potential.


I think I can briefly wrap up my take on this entire situation -- Freddy Garcia's potential performance and the role of Ws in determining a player's value -- with a couple more statistics.

You argue that Freddy Garcia won 17 games because the White Sox averaged 5.36 runs, meaning an average pitcher should win that many games. You also originally argued that Freddy Garcia would "suck pretty hard" for the Phillies because Citizen's Bank is a bandbox.

Well, the Phillies scored 5.34 runs per game, and their park is actually less of a factor than Garcia's old park, according to Park Factor. So there is absolutely no valid reason to be found via either statistic as to why Freddy Garcia will "probably suck pretty hard." In fact, Mr. Statman (is that "Scatman" song playing in anybody else's head right now?), the prediction those stats should be suggesting is that, given strikingly similar offensive support and a more favorable park, he will do as well or better than last year.

But I want to briefly address Doyle's Take 3.0, that whole argument about an average pitcher being able to win as many games as Freddy Garcia with a similar offense. Well, the Phillies had an almost identical offense -- a difference of three runs scored over the course of the entire season -- and Brett Myers led the team in wins with 12. The White Sox and the two teams with better offenses, the Yankees and the Indians, had a combined total of three pitchers who won as many games as Garcia:

Chien-Ming Wang (19)
Randy Johnson (17)
Jon Garland (18)

What does that tell us? Well, by your logic, every one of those teams has an entirely below-average pitching staff except for those three guys (who must be average), since they're the only ones who managed 17 wins with such great offenses.

So you're clearly right. Wins don't mean anything, Randy Johnson is average, and the entire Indians, Yankees, White Sox and Phillies pitching staffs -- including guys like Mussina, Contreras, Vazquez, Sabathia, Myers and Hamels -- are below average.

Or maybe wins do mean something, because only good pitchers -- even with a good offense -- win 17 games. You're right about the "good pitchers with bad records" argument. But show me a statistically significant amount of bad or mediocre or average pitchers who win 17 games, regardless of offense.

I bet you can't. Which means wins are a good -- not the best, maybe, but a good -- indicator of a pitcher's value. As for your ridiculous argument about what "value" means to a team, I addressed that earlier.

I hope we're done here.

Dear Members of the Flat-Earth Society

It bothers me a great deal to think that such a large percentage of my prospective wedding party still believes in the legitimacy of win-loss records and RsBI. But I once argued, in earnest, that Christian Laettner was the best college basketball player ever. So, it's not like I haven't said dumb things about sports.

But, for fuck's sake, I just don't get it with you people. But I'm going to take the stance of a biology teacher in Kansas here: Whether you rubes like it or not, I'm teaching evolution.

From wikipedia's entry on causality:
  1. "Causality postulates that there are laws by which the occurrence of an entity B of a certain class depends on the occurrence of an entity A of another class, where the word entity means any physical object, phenomenon, situation, or event. A is called the cause, B the effect.
  2. "Antecedence postulates that the cause must be prior to, or at least simultaneous with, the effect.
  3. "Contiguity postulates that cause and effect must be in spatial contact or connected by a chain of intermediate things in contact." (Born, 1949, as cited in Sowa, 2000)
I bring this into the conversation because it has very much to do with the nature of wins and losses as a measure of a pitcher's value. I'll get into the definition of value, as it pertains to baseball, in a second. But first, it's important to notice that, judging by these very logical conditions for causality to exist, a pitcher should not be held solely responsible for a win or loss.

A starting pitcher, in the eyes of many, has the ability to control what happens in half of the innings he pitchers (removing the element of a pitcher going to bat in the NL, which doesn't really serve anyone's argument at this point). But that's not really the case at all. A pitcher really only has singular control over three possible outcomes that can take place on his watch:

1) A strikeout
2) A walk
3) A home run

Anything else that can possibly happen while a pitcher on the mound (save a balk or a wild pitch, but again, that's not serving anyone's argument here) requires the presence of a variable outside of a pitcher's control, with the two leading candidates being the defense around him and luck. Yes, luck. There's an extended amount of research done by people who live in the basement of their parents' houses (literally) that proves that a pitcher has little influence over what happens to a batted ball once it's hit. Some years, guys have an inordinate number of bingles fall against them. The next year, every line drive conveniently gets hit directly at an overpaid corner outfielder. And, obviously, there are degrees in between those two extremes in which the vast majority of pitchers exist. That's simply the nature of the position.

However, judging pitchers is far from a coin toss, provided you view them with respect to what it is they do regardless of whether or not they have an infield of Todd Walkers or Omar Vizquels. Pitchers who have high strikeout numbers have an advantage because they rely on fielders less. Pitchers who walk fewer batters have an advantage because there will be fewer people on base if they get unlucky or give up a jack (see: Curt Schilling). And pitchers who give up a lot of home runs are pretty much fucked, unless they do a lot of other shit awesome.

Judging a pitcher using other measures isn't wrong; it's just that you have to accept that you cannot judge them without taking into account their setting. So, often, it's more beneficial to try and remove as many outside variables as possible when judging a pitcher's value, particularly if you're judging them with the idea of trading for them or signing them to a free agent contract. And this is where Freddy Garcia comes into the conversation.

It bears mentioning that I never said Garcia was a bad pitcher; I said, simply, that he was mediocre. Justin has argued with me that I'm saying mediocre when I should be saying average. I don't see much of a distinction, but I'll acquiesce. Freddy Garcia is average, as demonstrated by his season in 2006.

The one stat in which Garcia was above-average, however, was wins. He had 17. That's great. But what does it mean? Mostly, it means that Garcia played for a pretty good team, one that many years would have earned a Wild Card berth. The White Sox scored, on average, 5.36 runs per game. So, it was clearly an above-average offense, which means that an average pitcher can expect to win the majority of his starts. So, does Garcia's 17-win season indicate "value," as Justin would suggest? I fail to see how.

In 2005, Roger Clemens put together an all-time season, without question the second-best of his career. His 1.87 ERA and 1.01 WHIP were totally sick. He struck out a ton of guys. His G/F ratio was 1.41, well above league average. In short, he did everything you could possibly ask a pitcher to do, and he didn't suffer from any bad luck, either. He had as close to a "perfect" season as a pitcher could hope to have.

Yet he had 13 wins. Thirteen fucking wins. And, if I'm to believe certain people who read and/or write in this blog, I'm supposed to believe that wins are an indication of value? That's one totally dumb way to define value.

Value, for any player, has to do with how much he contributes to a team's winning expectancy. There was no pitcher in the major leagues that year, with the possible exception of Santana, that gave his team a better chance to win, consistently, than Clemens did. He did everything he possibly could. His value was that he gave a horseshit team with a horseshit offense the opportunity to win while scoring only two runs, on average. The worst offense in the major leagues that season, the Washington Senators, scored 3.94 runs per game. Someone tell me what's wrong with this picture.

And Clemens isn't the only example of how a great pitcher can have total shit luck when it comes to W/L records. Look at the three leaders in the NL Cy Young race this year; you telling me those guys didn't put up the kinds of numbers one would expect to lead to 20 wins? But none of them had a higher win total than Garcia, who possessed downright pedestrian stats otherwise.

Is this starting to make sense? I sure hope so, because if it doesn't, then I'm convinced you're retarded.

As for Ryan's red herring, "How many bad pitchers win 17 games?" (emphasis mine). Simple: not many, because it's easier to earn a loss than it is a win. If a pitcher gives up seven runs, he's probably going to lose, unless his offense totally bails him out. So, it's plainly obvious that bad pitchers can't really be expected to do much of anything good. But proving the contrapositive does not prove the positive. I don't think I really need to explain that further.

I'm tired now. How about the Meche signing? Now the Eaton deal is only the third-worst free agent pitcher signing of the offseason.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

I also enjoy your wrongness.

Well, I'm sorry to disappoint you with my lack of vitriol. Perhaps it's because I'm so clearly right that I don't feel I need it to make my case. I'll try to be more harsh. Bitch.

Re: swapping an uncertain future for a mediocre present, I find it hard to believe that you really think Freddy Garcia isn't better than Gavin Floyd, the only other person in the trade who might realistically contribute in the major leagues in 2007. I think you're just being argumentative for the sake of it. If you'd like to even attempt to support that with any statistics, however esoteric or bizarre, I'm all ears.

In fact, I still have yet to see you really support this "Freddy Garcia is mediocre" argument. He gives up 1.3 homers a game. OK. But that stat by itself doesn't mean anything. In the best 2-year stretch of his career, during which he finished 2nd in the Cy Young voting both years, Curt Schilling had a 1.15 HR/9. Does that make him mediocre? No. Know why? Because he went 45-13 during that time.

But I forgot: WINS ARE A TEAM STAT. THEY ARE A POOR INDICATION OF A PITCHER'S ABILITY. Right. We should all judge pitchers solely on HR/9 innings and Park Factor instead. Let's just make those the Cy Young criteria.

While wins might be a poor indication of a pitcher's ability, quantifying ability independent of value to a team is perhaps the most asinine pursuit possible. And wins are the best indicator of a pitcher's value to a team. I know I'm stealing RF's argument, but name me a good pitcher who doesn't have a winning record. Then name me a bad pitcher with 17 wins. You can't do either. Freddy Garcia won 17 games last year. He's not a bad pitcher.

I'll even try to answer for you: Eric Milton, a bad pitcher, went 14-6 in 2004. Except he wasn't a bad pitcher that year. His stats were slightly worse than average -- not the same as mediocre, BTW -- but he won a lot of games. That indicates that he pitched well enough to win (which brings us back to your inconceivable argument, long ago, that pitchers will not pitch any differently in different game situations, but I digress). If that's not a pretty decent year in your eyes, then you need to stop doing so much accounting. That doesn't make him a good pitcher, but it's a good year. He was valuable to his team.

We've been through this approximately 100,000 times now, but this all comes down to the same thing all our arguments come down to: you grossly overstate the importance of isolated sabermetric or modern or advanced or whatever statistics, while simultaneously overstating the unimportance of traditional stats. The stats you love to rely on -- ERA+, park factor, HR/9, VORP, or whatever it is this week -- are probably better at quantifying a player's ability. But neither statistics nor ability are worth anything in a vacuum.

Yes, wins are a team stat. Baseball is a team sport. The only value a player has is value to a team. And wins are excellent at quantifying a pitcher's value to a team. So, in response to your ridiculous assertion that Freddy Garcia wasn't good because of his HR/9 innings, I will say the following:

Freddy Garcia won 17 games for his team last year. In his career, he has won 62 percent of his decisions.

That's all I need to say.

As far as the team improvement thing, that's another example of where pure stat-crunching comes up short. Comparing Garcia to the average MLB pitcher does no good whatsoever for the Phillies, because that's making the erroneous assumption that if you removed Garcia, the Phillies would otherwise be starting an imaginary pitcher who embodies averageness. Not the case. They'd be replacing him with Gavin Floyd or somebody similarly bad. So it's indisputably an improvement.

There's a difference between averageness and mediocrity. And if your best argument for saying Freddy Garcia is a bad pitcher is that he was slightly above average in some stats and slightly below average in others, that's a pretty shitty argument. His stats were average and he won 17 games. He's a good pitcher. Case closed.

Incidentally, Moyer's performance for the Phillies last year, while a small sample size, also undermines your use of him as an example of somebody who's going to suck for them.

Friday, December 08, 2006

This is fun

I was a little shocked by the tone of your response; your lack of vitriol (comparitively) suggests you know, deep down, that I'm pretty much right. But I'll address the challenges.

- When I said I didn't care what the Phillies were giving up, I misspoke. I didn't care about the guys the Phillies were giving up, as in, I don't think they're anything all that valuable. And while I appreciate the fact that, since you think Garcia is actually good, the Phillies got over, I'm inclined to think that neither team won on this trade. The Phillies swapped an uncertain future for a mediocre present. In my opinion.

- As for Park Factor: I don't see how you can feel this way, being a fan of a team that plays in a hitter's park. You point out that odger Stadium was ranked as a hitter's park this year, which is true and very strange. But it's also an aberration, which you'll notice if you go back (Chavez is usually well into the bottom third of the chart). Unless there were some structural changes made to the park that I'm not aware of, I think it was just variance. But, for the most part, there's a consistent trend of teams with hitter's parks having another thing in common: Pitchers getting absolutely blasted. I can take the time, if you want, to list off the scores of good pitchers who went to hitter's parks as free agents and paid for it, but I don't need to. You know that the phenomena exists, and has a real effect on expected outcome for the individual players and teams.

However, you're quite right that Garcia is actually coming from one of the few parks that rates better for hitters, so I suppose we should't expect a drop-off. Which'll be good for the Phillies, since there isn't a lot of room for Garcia to drop off before he becomes downright shitty. I should have driven home this point more with fellow flyballer and soft-tosser Moyer, who's coming from an extreme pitcher's park and will likely get the living snot kicked out of him making half his starts in Citizen's. It's worth noting that low-hanging-fruit Adam Eaton also sucked in a bandbox.

- Hamels: A WHIP of 1.25 is not fantastic. It's good. But he could stand to take that down. A WHIP of 1.20 or lower is where you start talking about excellence, or at least I do. I know Hamels wass a rookie, blah blah blah ... he's awesome. I agree. But, if there were one thing I would say he needs to work on, it's the WHIP. That's all I'm saying.

- Milton in 2004 = 4.75 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. If that's not a "bad" pitcher in your eyes, then you need to stop driving immediately. But I sense that your defense of Milton is based on the one "stat" you use to defend Garcia. Which brings me to the larger point:


I'm shouting because that's what you do to people who are smart yet decide that it's important to continue saying dumb things.

Was Freddy Garcia good last year in Comiskellular? Yes.

No, he wasn't.

Garcia, 2006: 4.53 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 1.0 HR9, 5.6 K/9
American League Average: 4.56 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 1.1 HR9, 6.44 K/9

Pleasepleasepleaseplease justify your position that Garcia is a good pitcher. His ERA was barely below the very definition of mediocrity, his HR/9 was in the same boat as his ERA, and his Ks were well below league average. His WHIP was the only thing that, when held against league average, could be considered "good."

CAVEAT: Garcia pitches a ton of innings, every season, and appears to have the constitution of an alpha bison. I didn't consider this the first time around. It is important. Usually, I would say you don't necessarily want a mediocre pitcher out there for 210+ innings, but in the case of the Phillies, you want anyone but those relievers in the game.

You did point out one factor that I was not considering, however, when judging Gillick's pitching moves: Comparison to 2006. Yes, this rotation is better than last season's, which isn't saying a whole lot but in the world of batshit baseball offseasons nonetheless important. Gillick has upgraded the staff, though his unwillingness to concentrate on the pen (unless the non-deal for Turnbow somehow indicates concern instead of contempt for the bullpen) is a little baffling. So, unlike the odgers, who will be a worse team in 2007 because of their idiot GM, the Phillies will probably be better because at least Gillick didn't make the team worse, and you've got to expect that the young guys will be better for having another season under their belt. But I still can't help but wonder why Gillick targeted the guys he did, because they seem so ill-suited to play in Citizen's, where you want ground-ball, strikeout guys to offset the gophers. That's really what I was saying, in essence.

LATE EDIT: I have been citing Garcia's HR/9 rate as 1.0, incorrectly. It's actually 1.3. Which is way worse than league average.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Let me get this straight ...

so your claims about this trade, both explicit and implicit, include:

1. It doesn't matter whom you trade for somebody when evaluating a trade.
2. The fact that Garcia has a slight disposition toward fly balls and gives up slightly more HRs per 9 than average means he's not going to do well for his new team. Somehow, this is because of park factor.

Well, in response to the first, it does matter. When you trade a raw 21-year old and a 24-year old bust who has proven that he can't contribute to your team for a durable, reliable front-of-the-rotation starter who just won 17 games and has a track record of postseason success, it matters. The Phils gave up very little to add a guy who would have probably commanded $13M/year or more (for a long time) on the free-agent market.

As for the second, park factor doesn't make that much of a difference. It's not going to turn good pitchers into bad pitchers, especially not when a good pitcher has already spent three successful years in a park that's worse. Was Freddy Garcia good last year in Comiskellular? Yes. Is there reason to believe he'll be just as good, if not better, in CBP? Yes.

I'm not even sure what the rest of your argument is, but here are some others places where you're wrong, just for kicks:

Cole Hamels has "WHIP issues" at 1.25?

Eric Milton is your example for the worst fly ball pitcher (probably apt), which in turn is your reason for saying these pitchers won't succeed in CBP (not so apt). Except Eric Milton was the Phillies' best starter his only year in CBP. He won 14 games and was nearly an All-Star despite giving up 43 home runs, the most of his career. So he's not such a great example of how giving up fly balls and home runs makes you a bad pitcher for the Phillies.

If Park Factor is so telling, why is Dodger Stadium -- usually called a pitcher's park -- rated almost exactly the same as CBP?

In other words, I think Park Factor is overrated. And I think the Phillies have a better rotation now than they did at any point last year, when they were trotting out the likes of Ryan Franklin, Eude Brito, and Gavin Floyd while they waited for Wolf to get healthy and Lieber to get fatter.

However, the Eaton signing looks worse and worse with each day that passes and does not bring us relief pitching help. If they don't upgrade the 'pen, all of this is moot, because they won't contend next year.

Oh, and if Keith Law is usually right, how do you explain the fact that he used to work for the Blue Jays?

Pat Gillick: Crazy Pills

I actually don't mean to be piling on Gillick all that much, but since no one in our cohort is a Dodgers fan (quite the opposite, actually), there's no real point on bringing up the fact that Ned Colletti clearly has down syndrome. But I am wondering if, in between fondling his Jays World Series Rings and complaining about how innappropriate Moneyball was, Gillick actually got around to watching the team he ostensibly runs actually play a game last season. Because, I'm convinced, if he actually had watched them play he wouldn't have traded for Freddy Garcia.

Three qualifiers, before I get into it:

- ESPN's Keith Law, a dude who is very often right, thinks the Garcia deal is good. I respect him, and he offers evidence to back up his point. I think he's ignoring some evidence that points out why a guy like Garcia might get his ass chewed in Citizen's. But, whatver, I'm pointing out that people I don't think are idiots disagree with what I'm about to say.

- I don't care what the Phillies gave up in the deal. I think it became obvious that Floyd was far away from having an impact in the majors after his last stint, and the young guy sounds like he's got a couple of years left himself. And while I generally think it's dumb for teams to move young arms when the A's and Twins are providing daily evidence that there's nothing more important to the prolonged success of a team, that's not the situation for the front office of that franchise, which probably needs to make the playoffs this season to remain intact. So, they're looking for guys that can help them right now. Cool.

- That Lieber for Turnbow/Mench trade is one of the dumbest things I've ever heard of in my life. I'm not going to get into it in the rest of this post, because it sounds like it might not happen now. But I challenge anyone to tell me why a contending team would need a reliever that can't get anyone out or an outfielder that hit, like, four fucking home runs in the second half of last season. At least Lieber has been good at some point in his career.

OK, onto the meat.

Freddy Garcia is a flyball pitcher (G/F ratio = 1.07, against a league average of 1.2). He gave 32 home runs, which works out to exactly one per nine innings. Now, that's not Eric Milton bad, but that's not very good, either. And while New Comiskey (or whatever the fuck it's called now) is a bit more of a bandbox than Citizen's, it's not by much. Now, considering that Citizen's has established itself as a hitter's park that eats flyball pitchers alive, one would think Gillick would target guys who are at least a little above league average when it comes to keeping the ball on the ground (particularly since the Phils are pretty solid up the middle, with Rollins and the underrated Utley, defensively). Instead, this is what next year's rotation, right now, looks like, broken down by GB/FB, HR/9, K/9, and WHIP, which I think are the best indicators of future success in a hitter's park. (2006 stats)

Myers: 1.25/.9/8.4/1.30
Moyer: 1.03/1.0/4.5/1.32
Garcia: 1.07/1.0/5.6/1.28
Hamels: 0.97/0.9/9.6/1.25
Eaton: 0.98/1.1/6.0/1.57

The only one of the bunch that is even above league average at drawing ground balls is Myers; the rest are actually pretty extreme flyball pitchers. All three pretty much give up at least one home run per nine innings, which is a hair below league average. And none of the five are spectacular when it comes to keeping runners off base, though only Eaton is worse than the average major league pitcher (1.40) in that category. But the thing that stands out for me here is the strikeout figures: I expect Myers and Hamels will be fine, because they're both high K guys that have an ability to negate some of their WHIP issues. Plus, you expect high-K guys to be flyball guys (Myers is actually a little strange in that respect). Moyer, Garcia and Eaton, on the other hand, have almost nothing going for them. And the numbers I've chosen to omit don't paint them in a better light. I'm really at a loss as to why the Phillies, considering their park, have decided that the three pickups they've made since late last season and will pay a little less than $23 million to are somehow going to help the cause. Because the chances are they're all going to suck pretty hard.

I really need to stop writing this much about the Phillies.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Ah, what the hell...

I'll take the bait on this contract debate. I'll bust a rhyme while I'm wasting time. I'll defend Pat Gillick ... um ... and make Doyle look ... idiotic?

But before I begin, I'm sounding the biter alert. Doyle's homoerotic KT post is totally a ripoff of my homoerotic Gillick-fluffing post from last year, right after he traded Thome. With Hawaiian Sophie fame, you kept my name in your blog posts.

So I can see that it is not working, and by "it," I mean my ploy to deflect attention away from the Adam Eaton signing -- I'm finally beginning to accept that it was an iffy move, though I would argue it for different reasons than just the salary -- and toward Vicente Padilla, whose contract is roughly equivalent to somebody paying a "retired" journalist lots of cheddar and a sweet-ass new car in order to, like, manage property or whatever.

I like the Maddux signing. Not sure it's as groundbreaking as you seem to believe, but it's pretty much unquestionably a good deal. I still maintain that if we look at the major recent pitching deals (the calculating guys notwithstanding, since we don't know anything about them [because they're mysterious by nature, those ones]), Eaton is far from the worst move.

Let's take a look at the ones we've already mentioned in terms of pros/cons:

1. Padilla -- Absolutely heinous. Almost $12 milly a year for 3 years for a guy nobody else really wanted who's three years removed from his two-year flirt with above-averageness. He's 29 in Nicaraguan years, which are sort of like dog years, only adjusted for machetes, kidnappings, and gasoline attacks. He's also an alcoholic. Speaking of dangerous Latin American countries, alcohol, machetes, kidnappings, and gasoline attacks, where's Ugueth Urbina these days? Oh, right, in a Venezuelan prison, waiting for a cellmate. Don't count out Padilla for that role; 36 milly buys a lot of Toña. But I don't think anybody's really debating the badness of this signing. The last contract he signed with the Phils was one year, $4.4 million. Apparently one decent year and a DUI earns you a pay raise of 200% (or would it be 300%? I don't know these things.)

At least the Rangers were desperate for starting pitching, which makes it slightly less bad. Slightly.

2. Wolf -- $8M for a starter who's averaged 90 innings pitched in the last three years, just came back from Tommy John surgery, and grossly underperformed the last time he was signed to a big contract. Best year was four years ago. Only reason it's not a very bad signing is because it's a one-year deal. But what if he has a good season? Are they going to pay him much more than that?

Actually, don't answer. The way this offseason is going, he might make $15M in 2008. Worth noting that the Phillies chose to sign Adam Eaton instead of paying Wolf. That either says something about the Phillies talent evaluation, or it says something about Wolf. We'll see.

3. Maddux -- $10M for a one-season rental of one of the greatest pitchers ever. He's on the downslope of his career, but he's a reliable starter who eats innings, doesn't walk many batters, and has lots of postseason experience. He also provides what amounts to a second pitching coach and will help a couple of good young pitchers develop. Hell, he may even help turn Jake Peavy into the kind of pitcher Doyle thinks he already is. Could put the Padres over the hump. Pretty good signing, all around -- by far the best of the bunch.

4. Eaton -- I initially thought this was a good move. I heard that the Phils signed Adam Eaton and thought, "Hey, didn't he used to be good for the Padres?" Then I took a cursory look at his career stats and realized that the answer was, "not really."

My beef isn't with the salary. Amazingly enough, $8M/year for a mediocre starter doesn't seem all that outrageous anymore. He's a mostly disappointing former high draft pick by the Phillies, is 29 years old, and has missed a lot of time to injuries and arm surgery. In other words, he's Randy Wolf, but right-handed. Which means Gillick & Co. essentially took a look at Wolf and Eaton and said they'd rather have Eaton for the same price. They know both of them pretty well -- both came up in the organization -- so I'm willing to believe that they know something I don't. Maybe it was just that Wolf's arm surgery was last year, while Eaton's was five years ago. I have no problem viewing the two as interchangeable (for now), which means that the Phils actually shaved some money off their payroll, since they paid Wolfy more than $9M per the last two years to start a grand total of 25 games.

Would I have rather gotten Maddux? Of course. I'd also just as easily take Wolf instead. But the sad reality of being the Philadelphia Phillies -- the losingest franchise in professional sports history, in a miserable city known for its hostile fans -- is that not everybody wants to play here. Supposedly the Wolf deal came down to him wanting to go to SoCal, where he's from. How much more do you think a 41-year-old Maddux would have wanted to go to Philadelphia instead of San Diego? Don't answer that -- it's rhetorical (seriously, how great was that rhetoric conference?). I'd also have preferred Lilly or Meche, except it sounds like they're looking for 4 years/$40M. If I had my pick, I'd have paid double for Jason Schmidt. But I don't think Philly has that kind of spending power until and unless Burrell's gone. We might have gotten an Ohka or a Weaver for a little cheaper, but then again, that would leave us with an Ohka or a Weaver.

So, all options considered, I don't think Eaton was that bad of a signing.

My primary issue is that fifth starter should have been about the fourth priority for this team. We have no middle relief to speak of, no starting catcher, a subpar outfield and (still) nobody to protect Howard in the lineup. Adam Eaton ain't helping any of that.

UPDATE: Apparently Schmidt just signed with the Dodgers, which means Brad Penny might be available for a bat. Hey Coletti -- I know just the guy:

Kevin, sweetie, I really didn't mean those things I kinda said

Hey Kevin Towers, it's me, Diesel. It's no secret that I'm a Padres fan, and that I'm also one of those faceless internet pricks who sits there and second-guesses everything that's happening in the baseball offseason this year. And, unfortunately, I even started criticizing you for a move that you didn't end up making. It's clear to me now that you were testing me, seeing if doing something crazy like signing a 37-year-old utility player who had an OBP of .327 last season to a multi-year, multi-million-dollar contract, was going to drive me away. I should have seen it for what it was, but I was spooked by all the other batshit stuff that GMs have been doing this offseason. So, I'm sorry. I should have never doubted you. Here, I brought you coffee this morning. The broad at Starbucks said it was Sumatra. A dollop of honey, just how you like it. Are we cool? I hope so.

Because I am tempted to offer to clean your fucking toilets for the next season after the Greg Maddux signing. I never thought I would want to hug someone after hearing the Pads signed a 40-year-old pitcher to a $10 million contract, but it's nothing short of a masterstroke. One year, with an option for $7 mil in 2008? Pat Gillick isn't even worthy of rimming you.

Some might wonder why I think this is an awesome deal for the Padres. No, I did not smoke peyote this morning, and imagine that I've time-warped back to 1995, when Mad Dog put up one of the sickest pitching seasons of my lifetime. I realize that this the dude who hasn't had a defense-adjusted ERA under 4.00 since 2002. I know this is a dude who barely struck out more than five hitters per nine innings last season. I know he's at best a No. 3 at this point in his career, and on the Padres he's no better than the No. 4 starter. But I don't care.

Here is why this deal, Kevin, is the best of the offseason (not that I'm telling you anything you don't already know, because you're awesome and you read Moneyball without having a seizure and you have fine taste in pseudo-Hawaiian shirts that are somehow still respectable in a professional setting):

- Maddux is still good for 200 innings a season, which is not something that can be said about many pitchers his age. Rubber-armed pitchers are manna from heaven for a team that relies so heavily on its pen.

- Maddux still sports a GB/FB ratio of close to 2:1. That's still pretty damn good.

- 2006 OBP against: .301. Not great for him, still pretty damn good all things considered.

- Eckstein-Counsell Grittyness Quotient (ECGQ3.2): 79.7. The league average is a paltry 14, mainly because most of the players aren't short white dudes. But Maddux is still off the charts on this scale, even though some pundits dismiss it since he's actually talented at playing baseball.

But here's the best part about your deal with Mad Dog, Kevin: It's only a one-year commitment. Everyone's been focusing on the salaries being paid this season, but that's missing the point. It's the years. That's why, surprisingly, the Dodgers got it exactly right with the Wolf signing, and the Phillies got it all wrong with the Eaton deal. And the Rangers got it wrong with Padilla. And the Mets, probably, with Barry Zito. In this market, playing ball with free agents means accepting annual salaries that would have made George Steinbrenner blush three years ago. But that doesn't mean you have to swallow long-term deals (especially ones with no-trade clauses ... you hear me Astros?) and retarded salaries. If Maddux ends up sucking, it's really no harm, no foul for the Pads. In a year, he's gone with a buyout, and everyone's happy. When Adam Eaton is two years into his deal, the Phillies are going to be waxing poetic about being under Burrell's contract, because at least he was above replacement level. And that kind of pain won't even come close to the hurting that Zito is going to be putting on a team in year four of his deal.

So, in conclusion, Kevin, this is one dude who wants it to be known that he loves his GM very much. And, wants to make it clear to certain members of the blogging population with overactive thyroid glands that there's a reason the Pads will be in the playoffs again this season, and the Phillies will not despite the fact they have Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. It's because Pat Gillick is a douche, and KT is clearly not.


Monday, December 04, 2006

Thank God for the Rangers ...

and for Lito Sheppard!

But seriously, folks, let me never again hear how the Phils overspent for Eaton. Never mind the ridiculous Wolf contract the odgers divvied -- now that the Rangers spent 34 MILLION DOLLARS ON VICENTE PADILLA! .

Yes, that does deserve the rare bold-italic-caps. Vicente Padilla, everybody! 34 million dollars! 3 years! 12 million more than we paid for Eaton.

Bless you, Texas. Bless you. Now I don't have to torture myself over the fact that the Phils overpaid for a 5th starter when they needed two relievers and a catcher far worse.

I hope nobody really plans on arguing this. That Padilla contract might be the worst signing I've seen since the 'gers inked Chan Ho.