Jeremy Heit's Blog
Saturday, February 21, 2004
 
There are two things that have been bothering me lately...

1. There is concern about Javier Vazquez "succumbing to the pressure" and sucking like Jeff Weaver

There are two major difference between the two pitchers.

-Vazquez has a high K rate, Weaver does not. High K rate keeps balls out of play.
-Vazquez is a flyball pitcher, Weaver is a neutral pitcher. The OF defense is at least average, meaning he won't be hurt nearly as much as Weaver was. Jeff Weaver's BABIP was .343 last year. His DIPS ERA was 4.33 and I firmly believe he would have done better, but his confidence was shot has way through the year.

Therefore, Vazquez should be fine. Him and Johan Santana are my 1-2 in the AL Cy Young race this year.

2. Cameron is going to hit his .278/.364/.510 line that he has put up on the road the last three years

First off, he's on the wrong side of 30 and the last three years he's had declining OPS numbers...

2001: .833
2002: .782
2003: .775

Secondly, he's had declining road numbers (i. e. neutral factors, unlike Safeco) the last three years (OPS again)...

2001: .983
2002: .854
2003: .789

Finally, his home numbers, while getting better, aren't going to go through the roof. Yes, he is getting out of Safeco. Yes, Safeco is especially death on right handed hitters. Yes, he apparently didn't like the backdrop. But guess what... Shea still is a pitcher's park... and this number doesn't help him...

0.87

That's his career G:F ratio. He's a flyball hitter coming into the park where flyballs go to die.

So, yes, its nice to look at his three year road numbers and dream, but don't expect those numbers. Expect great D and about a .260/.350/475 line.

And here are a couple of links you should look at...

Go to the bottom of this Vinny post and check out Erickson's quote. It is good for a laugh.

Joel Sherman is at it again, this time stating that Sorinao could have stayed a Yankee and not been part of the A-Rod deal.

A major-league official who speaks regularly to the Rangers told The Post that Texas was so financially desperate to get out of the bulk of A-Rod's contract they would have done the deal without getting Alfonso Soriano in return.

That's nice, but that's not why I linked the article...

I did because it discusses other deals the Yankees tried to to do involving Soriano... here is my favorite...

They once nearly moved Soriano to Seattle for Jose Paniagua and Brett Tomko.

That just makes me laugh. That would have been one of the worst trades in the history of baseball. I bet the deal didn't go through because Gillick didn't want to make a deal either... But just look at the other deals they had discussed...

-There had been a completed deal to Houston for Moises Alou in 2001, but Alou invoked his no-trade rights.
-Before the 2000 season, Yankees officials were bitterly split about turning Soriano into Jim Edmonds.
-The Yanks agreed at one point to a three-way trade that would have netted them Matt Clement and B.J. Surhoff before it fell apart.
-Held serious discussions about sending Soriano to Toronto for either Kelvim Escobar or Roy Halladay.
-And shunned the Cubs' request to include him in a huge package for Sammy Sosa.


Some of those deals aren't great, but at least there is talent there. But Tomko and Paniagua... what was Cashman smoking there?

Friday, February 20, 2004
 
We all know I believe Chris Reitsma is being used wrongly. But this... this is disgusting...

Graves is Reds closer

He doesn't have to fight for his job. At all. Despite the fact that he sucked (and that's a nice term to describe it) last year. You know what, the fact that Graves got the job doesn't disturb me so much. Even the fact that he doesn't have to fight for it doesn't disturb me... You know what does?

Chris Reitsma and Ryan Wagner will both be pitching as set up men in the Reds bullpen next year.

Can't wait to see what JD has to say about this...

 
Not around all day, then plugging in a DVD player... but I'm here now and late on most stories, so this will be a quick one...

Vinny completely covered the article I wanted to talk about here, but I still have a few comments....

He does go over all the 5th starters, very nicely I might add, because the article states that Erickson is the frontrunner. I just keep telling myself that he's a groundball pitcher with a hot wife that might show up at Shea a few times. But then again, at least he's not this guy

Jeff Wilpon should never open his mouth. Competition for the fourth and fifth spot? What? Jae Seo's not gonna get his spot? I only think he's going to be the best Mets pitcher next year. But Duke relieves us all...

"It's Jae's job at this point," Duquette said. "We expect him to be a solid fourth starter."

Thank god for Jim.

Also, go check out Rooftop Report, a new Cubs site. He has some very interesting analysis up about the Cubs and Astros pitching. And tell him I sent ya...

I'll see you all tomorrow, where hopefully I won't be playing catch up on the news (and I may decide on looking at Stark's article that Billy Wagner is the most important thing for the Phillies this year)...

Thursday, February 19, 2004
 
Not home all afternoon (won't be tomorrow either) and I'm playing a little catch up on the blog scene. So not much now...

Where is Rick Ankiel?- That article is your answer. A guy I just want to see get back and make it big again. I watched the final stage of the meltdown against the Mets, and as I've said before, I really, at some point, just wanted it to stop. He was so young (he's only 25 now!) and you could see him spiraling downhill. Hopefully he'll make it back and be successful again (Found at Redbird Nation).

At the bottom of this Journal News article by Peter Abraham that gushes about Scott Kazmir, we find this note...

James Baldwin checked in a day early. The veteran right-hander, in camp on a minor-league contract, is trying to win a job in the rotation. Baldwin threw in one of the bullpens and did not look particularly sharp, failing to locate his off-speed pitches.

I love good news...

Wednesday, February 18, 2004
 
ESPN SPORTS NATION has a poll and this is question nine...

Who is the greatest pitcher of this era?

Roger Clemens
Randy Johnson
Greg Maddux
Pedro Martinez


And here how the fans respond...

44.0% Roger Clemens
26.4% Greg Maddux
15.3% Randy Johnson
14.3% Pedro Martinez

There is a lot to be said for durability, but, I voted for Pedro and can't see how he's that far down. Here's a look...

Roger Clemens- 239.2 IP (162 game AVG), 3.19 ERA
Greg Maddux- 235.1 IP, 2.89 ERA
Randy Johnson- 236.1 IP, 3.10 ERA
Pedro Martinez- 219.2 IP, 2.58 ERA

Something can be said for the fact that he averages about 20 less innings per season, but look at this...

Career ERA+
Roger- 140
Maddux- 143
Johnson- 143
Pedro- 174

Pedro is way ahead of the pack. In fact, he's the all-time leader in ERA+. Second? Lefty Grove, at 148. What else?

He's third all-time in (BB+H)/9IP with 9.121. Maddux is 34, Clemens is 95, Johnson is 96.
He's second all-time in K/9, right behind Randy Johnson.

He might not be the best pitcher of the era, based on durability. But he might be the most dominant... and he certainly shouldn't be that far down percentage wise...

EDIT: As I published, I remembered this article on Rocket and Pedro by Rich Lederer. It states that Roger is better based on rate and total stats, but given Pedro's age, he could get up there. Of course, that relies on durability and his rate stats not slipping. But it also proves that Roger and Pedro aren't far apart.

 
Found at the bottom of this Klaspich article

One major league executive said the Mets could have afforded Rodriguez, and have only themselves to blame for the Yankees' coup.

"Why didn't they pick up the phone and try to trade (Jose) Reyes?" said the executive. "He's going to be a great player and costs a lot less than (Alfonso) Soriano. One guy is making $5.4 million, the other is making $300,000."

Do the math: With the $9 million (the Rangers are picking up) in deferred money, Soriano will cost $14 million. Next year he'll make $9 million in arbitration. Throw in the other $9 million and now Soriano will cost $18 million.

"I don't think that's such a great deal for Texas," the executive said. "Reyes might have made more sense if someone had been smart enough to think of it."


All other things aside, let's get to the base of that...

Reyes for A-Rod with A-Rod's contract being reduced to the 16-17 million dollar level... do you do it? To me, its a no brainer. I do it every time. I tell Matsui that the best player in Japan is not the best player in America and that he needs to move to second.

But what about you? Do you think its an easy no brainer like me? Put your thoughts in the comments...

 
I got my provisional driver's license (Its what you get when your 17... NJ has rules for between 17 and 18) today. So I'm happy.

The Mets signed Randy Keisler- The Mets should really find the Greek Olympic team and kidnap Clay Bellinger and have him fight to the death with Joe McEwing for the last roster spot. Are the Mets really trying to corner the market on Yankee throwaways?

I would trust the AJC over my local ABC station- And so should you... let the best rotation debate begin.

Thank you Gleeman for ripping Bill Plaschke apart- His column in yesterday's LA Times was terrible. And it was even better when he went on ESPNNEWS and was made a fool of by Brian Kenny (who knows an extremely good amount about baseball... "WHO KNEW?")

Vinny and Scott are interviewed by Seth Stohs- Vinny and Scott are from The Mets, Yankees and the Rest. I've talked to Vinny online myself, but not this in-depth. It's a good interview to get to know a little bit more about the guys.

And go check out their blog too. Good commentary with comedy...

Tuesday, February 17, 2004
 
Bryan Smith compiles a list of his top 50 prospects

Here are the two Mets prospects on the list...

14. Scott Kazmir- LHP- New York Mets
The Mets took it very slow with Scott Kazmir this year, as the 2002 first-rounder only threw 4.37 innings a start. There have been prior concerns about injury, likely due to his short build and high-torque delivery. Kazmir wasn't as dominating as Cole Hamels, but had better peripheral numbers after a promotion to the FSL. Kazmir throws a great fastball, and some scouts say he depends on it too much. He draws the inevitable Billy Wagner comparisons, but they may be fair as he could end up closing in Flushing.
*- New York will continue to baby Kazmir, whom they invested $2.15M into. Barring injury that should pay off, whether or not he's starting. Expect him in Shea regularly by 2006.


15. David Wright- 3B- New York Mets
In terms of prospect status, the AFL helped David Wright considerably. During that time, Wright jumped over Dallas McPherson as my #2 3B prospect, and climbed into the top-15. There isn't a lot to not like about Wright, he's got power, patience, and speed. Some are worried that he's yet to dominate a level, but the Mets have very high hopes for his 2004 Eastern League performance. I'll second Mike Gullo's comparison to Scott Rolen, Wright's got the total package.
*- New York is another team who could have great success if they mix veterans and prospects well, as they have both the money and the system. Jim Duquette is counting on Wright to nudge out Ty Wigginton next year.


Knowledge is power. (Three posts in one day already. I really love being home from school...)

 
In my attempt to get away from the Yankees, we have this...

Cedeno Charts- Avkash is at work again. UZR, PMR, Rate2 and WS all in one chart. Backs up Cedeno as not being that bad defensively in RF and is an interesting read all around. Interesting how Jose Reyes looks good in two metrics and bad in two others... but that could be sample size...

Yesterday, Norm took a look at the table setters for the Mets. He believes they will be the best in NL East, even better than Furcal/Giles. These are the numbers he came up with...

Reyes- .305/.340/.450
Matsui- .306/.340/.482

Then he combined them together to get...

Together- .306/.340/.466

Now, he made a mistake when he just added the totals and divided by two, but for arguement sake, let's say they got the same number of ABs and PAs to make this work. I still think this projection is way too high. I see them being the third or fourth best group in the NL East depending on a few things.

1. If Luis Castillo waits a few years to fall off a clip. 1 and 2 hitters should get on base. If they combine for over a .360 clip, even if they slug .390, they are more valuable. They are not getting out, which is a big key.
2. If Frank Robinson realizes Brad Wilkerson and Nick Johnson shoul dbe the one and two batters. They might combine for a .390-.400 OBP. They would then be more valuable then Giles/Furcal.

Giles and Furcal will be more valuable, the Expos could be if they put the right people up there and the Marlins might, depending on how good Castillo and Pierre are. I would probably say the Mets will be second, because I think Pierre/Castillo won't be as good with their OBP and because I don't think Robinson will bat Wilkerson/Johnson 1-2.

Oh yeah, my projection, since this is what I'm basing the above analysis on. Well, I'm putting Norm's, then ZIPS, then mine.

Reyes
Norm- .305/.340/.450
ZIPS- .291/.341/.393
Mine- .310/.349/.428

I don't think Reyes will slug .450. Too much of a slap hitter in a flyball death park to go that. On the hand, I have him batting .310, which could be a little high. I still don't think his plate disclipline is very good and I have him at .057 BB/PA. I think ZIPS is a little down on his power, but that seems to be the big point of disagreeing here. And I'm somewhere in the middle.

Matsui
Norm- .306/.340/.482
ZIPS- .284/.349/.445
Mine- .260/.308/.390

I think .482 won't happen. You know how many NL SS slugged .482 or over last year? None. How many in the whole league? Two. Nomar and A-Rod. That projection just seems too high. I also think ZIPS might be a little high on his disclipline, but my numbers are probably too low. I don't think I'm giving him enough credit average wise and that would bump his SLG up a little. My numbers are biased on the fact I don't think he'll be as good as people say, but taking park effect into the projection of .275/.325/.425 that I like, it should probably read .270/.320/.415. But, I'm shooting a little low. I think he'll struggle a lot early on. He'll probably hit somewhere in between what I and ZIPS have to say.

And here are the projections together...

Norm- .306/.340/.466
ZIPS- .288/.338/.420
Mine- .285/.329/.409

Me and ZIPS are fairly close. I'm a little bit more down on the disclipline, since I believe both Matsui and Reyes will have to adjust early on when pitcher's are not giving them their ideal pitches to hit. I think they will be a little over agressive early on and do better a the season goes on. That especially rings true for my Matsui projection above. I see a very bad hitting line in April. Hopefully the fans won't get down on him.

Something in the .285/.330/.415 range for this duo I think is very possible. My big disagreement with Norm is for how much power they'll hit for. I just don't see that .466 number. A .415 number, with a .330 OBP will be solid. And both guys are still young (especially Reyes), so they could only get better numbers from there on.

 
This is what happens when I have a week off from school...

The bottom line on ESPN2 is reporting that a local New York City station W-ABC is reporting that the Yankees are on the verge of signing Greg Maddux (I hope that makes sense... basically Maddux will sign with Yankees).

I can only see three reasons for this...

1. They don't trust the starting pitching the way it is

This is possible. There are injury concerns and Jon Lieber is coming off TJ. Contreras was very inconsistent and maybe they were impressed with his domiant bullpen performance in the playoffs. But if its for this reason, then I just think its Steinbrenner wanting to make his very good pitching staff even better (Which brings the question of who would go to the pen. I think they would prefer Contreras, but they are paying 8 million, so I think Lieber would be the odd man out).

2. They want to go to a six man rotation

This is something I would consider. Think of it this way. You have two guys who are massive injury concerns (Lieber and Brown). You have two guys getting up there in age (Maddux and Mussina). You have a guy who could be 30, 40 or 50 (Contreras). And you have a guy who has been worked for a ton of innings the last few years (Vazquez). If you can find six quality starters, then not why pitch them all and have a better chance to keep them all healthy.

3. They want to trade a pitcher for a 2B

This is possible. Granted, Brown, Vazquez, Mussina and Maddux can't be moved for contract reasons. They would probably have to pay off part of Contreras' contract. Leiber, financially, would the easiest to trade. Package him, the catcher prospect dude and another prospect (if that exists) for Counsell, Spivey, Roberts, Hariston Jr., etc. Using this deal with Maddux to trade a pitcher for a 2B is very possible.

I find it amazing that the Yankees are getting a sixth starting pitcher and these are the only reasons I can come up with.

Monday, February 16, 2004
 
I did not know this about Grant Roberts...

"And because he is out of options, he is assured of a spot on the club, whether it's in the bullpen or the rotation. Roberts has also been injury-prone the last few seasons but he views that more of a by-product of his move to the pen." From this article on MLB.com

He's out of options... well, if he doesn't win the job, it looks like the bullpen is set. Looper, Franco, Weathers and Stanton are guaranteed. I think Dan Wheeler is all but in. If Roberts loses, he's the 6th man. And when Strickland comes back from TJ (and if one of the big old 3 aren't injured), say goodbye to Dan Wheeler. If just might be better if Roberts wins the rotation job (my pick for the sixth spot would be Jason Anderson, but that's just me) just to make the bullpen a little easier to manage.

As an aside, does anyone know when Strickland is due back? I'm not sure myself...

 
DePodesta really is Dodgers' GM

There was a little doubt, but now its done. Great great move for the Dodgers. How long until DePodesta picks up a bat from the A's (I'm thinking Koonce, but it could be Scutaro. It shows you how bad the Dodgers middle infield is that he would be a massive upgrade there)? I don't see Odalis Perez leaving (anyone believe Darren Dreifort will stay healthy?) because he would be breaking up a great staff. I'm sure he'll figure something out to get some offense for the team (Giambi for Marby!). Be warned... they will now be the challengers to the Padres in that division.

In all seriousness (since that last paragrpah was just... strange), the Dodgers are in great hands for the next good number of years. And expect those three way JP-Billy-Paul trades very soon...

 
Avkash, Vinny and Steve are right. Now all the newspaper people have to shut up.

Click on any blog on the left (EDIT: The blogs are on your right, aren't they?) to get input about the trade. You'll get anti-Yankee sentiment, pro-trade sentiment and everything in between. If you didn't stop by yesterday (though it seems a lot of you did), you can see my quick trade breakdown here and my in house suggestion for 2B here. If they get Vidro, I'll scream. Though I really don't see who they can offer.

Apparently the Cubs upped their offer to Maddux (who would have known with all the other stuff going on). I still say the Yanks might make a run, just to get another pitcher and feel safer. Best bet for the Yanks would actually be Maddux going to LA so they could trade for Odalis Perez, a lefty. But I don't think Maddux is going to LA. It would be nice to see him back in a Cubs uniform, where he started.

That's all for now. If anything happens tonight that's worthy of a post, I'll be back. Otherwise, tomorrow, with a look at Norm's breakdown of the Mets tablesetters. Let's just say I disagree a little.

Sunday, February 15, 2004
 
Second basemen... who needs 'em? Well, apparently baseball teams do, so who exactly will be playing there for the Yankees? Well, out of the in house candidates, my pick would be Homer Bush. Wha? Yes, I know he didn't play baseball in 2003, but he did get a minor league contract with them this spring. Hear me out on this...

We have four candidates... Enrique Wilson, Erick Almonte, Miguel Cairo and Homer Bush (Tyler Houston can't play second and Mike Lamb would be a total disaster at 2B, so they are both eliminated).

Age (according to Baseball Reference)
Bush: 31
Cairo: 30
Wilson: 30
Almonte: 26

Almonte, by age, obviously has the most upside. Homer Bush, especially with 2003 off, has the least.

Career OPS+
Bush: 76
Cairo: 75
Wilson: 68
Almonte: 86 (81 last year)

Almonte by far has the best, but its in 104 ABs. The second best is Homer Bush, though Miguel Cairo is right there.

UZR (Using Tango's True talent Chart from the pervious post) at second
Bush: +5
Cairo: -7
Wilson: -11
Almonte: not listed (or at least I can't find him)

Almonte had a .906 FPCT%, 4.14 RF and .647 ZR at SS in 252.1 innings.

Homer Bush is by far the best defensively and is the only one who makes a positive contribution on defense (I don't think Almonte would with those numbers, even if they are at short). And that's why he wins.

Think of it this way. None of them can hit. The only one with an ounce of upside is Almonte and I don't think there is much there. So, since the offense is going to stink, you should put the best defensive player out there. And the best in house option is Homer Bush.

 
A-Rod for Soriano and A-Rod says he'll play third

Reaction 1: I really really hate the Yankees.
Reaction 2: Are the Yankees stupid enough not to move Jeter?
Reaction 3: The Yankees have the worse set-up payroll in the history of sports.

Let's start with the Yankees. The Yankees will keep Jeter at short, move A-Rod to third and put their stockpile of crap over at second. Anyone think that the Duenas signing makes more sense now? If he can play great D and hit a tiny bit (because they really don't need the hitting), he'll be a good 2B. Then Kevin Brown won't spend nights after games crying (Pokey Reese would have been ideal, but the Sox have him).

The lineup might score 1,000 runs. They are that good. The defense is going to stink but since the pitchers are good enough (and strike out enough people), they'll probably make the playoffs. Injuries are a concern, especially with pitchers, but somehow I think the offense is too good for them not to make the playoffs. The only concern injury-wise in the lineup is Jason Giambi and Travis Lee (assuming Boras realizes that Travis Lee is lucky to be getting 2 million dollars) isn't a horrible replacement.

Looking ahead to the Yankees payroll, assuming the Jeter/A-Rod combo play SS and 3B, they will have $48 million dollars locked up in the left side of their infield in 2010 (not including bonuses and other stuff like that). Here is a chart of the Yankees payroll and here is A-Rod's contract (scroll down a little). That would be what they are paying 9 players over the next few years. And they still need 16 others to fill out a roster.

As for the Rangers, this is clearly a salary dump and it looks like Tom Hicks just wants some money back. Unfortunately for them, they are locked up in Chan Ho Park until 2006. They will have between 10-15 million dollars freed up from the trade and most fans hope they will use it for pitching in either a trade this year or the free agent market next year.

As for what to do now, well, it looks like Soriano could either play 2B with Michael Young moving to short or he could play CF with Young and Young (Eric and Michael) playing the middle infield. Looking at this from a purely defensive aspect, let's see which combo would be better. I'm going to use Tango's True Talent Fielding Level study, which attempts to predict how many runs a player would be worth defensively playing every position (I'm assuming league average (0 runs) in center for the one where I have Soriano and Young playing the middle infield because I don't know who would be starting in center).

Soriano at 2nd/Young at short/League Average CF
Soriano- -2
M. Young- -14
CF- 0

Total is -16 runs.

Soriano in center/E Young at 2B/M. Young at SS
Soriano- -5
M. Young- -14
E. Young- -2

Total is -21 runs

Who would be more valuable overall? Well, I think Soriano would be above average at both CF and 2B and Young would be at least average at SS. It would really depend on who the CF is in the first situation, but my feeling would be that Soriano at 2B, Young at short, and some CF would be a better combo.

While we are having fun with this chart, let's take a look at the difference between A-Rod at short with Jeter at third and Jeter at short with A-Rod at third.

A-Rod at third/Jeter at short
A-Rod- +10
Jeter- -23

Total is -13 runs.

A-Rod at short/Jeter at third
A-Rod- +7
Jeter- -14

Total is -7 runs

The difference is 6 runs (also remember Jeter has been regressing at short lately and I think A-Rod has been fairly consistent if not getting better. Moving Jeter to third might stop that decline a little). Plus, A-Rod would be the best shortstop in the league and Jeter has a shot to be one of the top 3B in the league. The other way around Jeter is one of the better SS and A-rod is the best 3B in the league. But I think the difference between A-Rod and Chavez is less than the difference between A-Rod and Nomar/Tejada, meaning A-Rod is that much more valuable at short.

This is one of biggest trades in baseball history. The Yankees have made themselves even better (even with Jeter still playing short) and the AL East competition is going to be great to watch this year. But wouldn't it be sweet if the Blue Jays won the division?


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