Archive for November, 2009
Super-duper busy around my place this time of year, so I haven’t even had the desire to sit down and write, let alone the time. However, I have been reading. I’ve noticed that there seems to be a lot of hand-wringing about the fact that Lincecum beat out the two St. Louis players, especially around the voting of two of the newest BBWAA members (Will Carroll and Keith Law). Now, while it seems to me that what happened was obvious, that the two players from the same team split the vote, it appears clear that nothing about what happened was obvious to everyone. I just read Bill James’s terrific analysis of the Cy Young Award voting, and he and I are in complete agreement (very convenient, no?), and he’s much more eloquent and detailed than I will ever be:
…. (Brian) Burwell, writing for a St. Louis audience, is trying to smear sabermetrics by saying, in essence, that we were responsible for taking the award away from St. Louis pitchers. Setting aside the position that it may be better not to personalize the debate, is that even what happened? Isn’t what happened here more like two St. Louis pitchers split the vote and allowed the San Francisco pitcher to win it?
…. exactly like the American League MVP Award in 1954, when two Cleveland Indians split the vote (Larry Doby and Bobby Avila), and allowed a Yankee to win, or 1965, when two Dodgers split the vote and allowed Willie Mays to win, or the Cy Young vote in 1970, when three Baltimore Orioles split twelve first-place votes and allowed a Minnesota Twin to win with six. Et cetera.
Well, yes, exactly.
He then expounds, as he is wont to do, for about 15000 words, and finally comes to this:
…. here’s what I would say. In the National League, the vote was split three ways, it was a very close vote, and it’s been a controversial vote. In the American League Greinke won easily, and this vote has been uncontroversial, and this vote has been celebrated by the analytical community as a victory for reason and logic.
But actually it seems pretty clear to me, under the most careful analysis that I can do, that Lincecum was the best pitcher in the National League and deserved the award—whereas in the American League, under the most careful analysis that I can do, it is unclear to me whether Greinke or Hernandez is more deserving.
I love Bill James.
UPDATE: Rob Neyer gives us even more thoughtful analysis:
…. I’m not going to run through every basic statistic (and yes, K/BB is a basic statistic), nor will I run through every advanced metric. I will say that according to FanGraphs, the most valuable pitcher in the league was Lincecum, the second most valuable was Vazquez, and the third most valuable was Haren.
Which isn’t necessarily how I would have voted. Value-wise — as theoretically measured by dollars — there’s virtually no difference between Haren, Wainwright, Carpenter, or (gulp) Ubaldo Jimenez and Josh Johnson. My point is that among the five candidates who wound up on at least one voter’s ballot, only Lincecum’s fundamental performance truly stands out.
Lincecum edges Wainwright and Carpenter in the closest vote ever. Makes history as first to win Cy in first two full seasons.
More this weekend…..
It appears that Pablo Sandoval has dedicated himself to you:
…. For the first time in his life, Sandoval is lifting weights. He’s eating vegetables. He is meeting every Wednesday while he’s in Scottsdale with a nutrition professor from Arizona State University, who is teaching him about healthy food choices and portion control. He and his brother, who Sandoval brought with him for motivation and support, are eating catered meals – delivered to the Giants complex every morning in a cooler — of low-cal entrees like broiled chicken or salmon, and lots of salads, veggies and fruits.
There is no going out to restaurants or bars. The strongest beverage in Sandoval’s diet right now is green tea. Mostly he drinks water – 12 to 15 bottles a day. In the evening, after eating their prepared meals, the Sandoval brothers take a walk on a bike path near their rented apartment or play basketball to keep their metabolism up.
With the five pounds he lost during the past week, Sandoval has lost 10 pounds so far….
Just about the best news coming out of Giants camp since…. well, since I don’t know when. Gets me dreaming….
Here’s my Christmas wish list:
Sign Holliday (how about 6 years, $100 million?), give the keys to Buster Posey (bye bye, Rally Killer), Sandoval in monster shape at the start of the season, re-sign Brad Penny to a two-year, $12 million dollar deal, and everybody else just does what they did last season. That’s a 90-plus win team, right there, even with a hundred-year old double play combo, and nothing out of first base. By the way, if Uribe sticks around, he could screw this up until Renteria gets injured; because Sandoval needs to be left alone at third. Stop fucking with the superstar, the best player on the team. Leave him at third, period, and move the shit-heads around to accommodate the lack of performance, health, or whatever.
My lineup would be Rowand leading off, Sanchez second, Sandoval third, Holliday fourth, and whoever in whatever order Bochy can imagine the rest of the way. Even if Sanchez’ OBP is that low, even if he hits an empty .305, between him and Rowand, there oughta be at least one guy on base for Sandoval every other first inning, and that’s all you can really ask for from the top two guys anyway.
I mean, we’re not gonna get a whole new team.
So the best, the absolute best we could hope for is that the Yankees decide to keep Matsui and Damon, leaving them out of the Holliday sweepstakes. Sabean reimagines himself as competent (yeah, right), and swoops in and lands Holliday for, well, frankly, I could care less. Sign him, make a mistake here if you have to, because we are on the cusp of greatness with two, possibly three young pitchers, and we need to start seeing these guys in the posteason –for that matter, they need to start seeing themselves in the postseason– or they’re gonna think twice about sticking around to watch the playoffs on TV every year.
UPDATE: A quick look at Holliday shows the following three year road split: .303/.385/.475 .860 OPS 845 AB 54 2B 29HR 109 BB 167 SO. His Coors numbers are obscenely inflated, in only about 50 more at-bats, he has 25 more doubles, 25 more home runs, 75 more RBI, and the jump in his rate stats is outrageous: 346/.419/.630 1.049 OPS. That’s not even the same player, really.
So, OK, he’s nowhere near Texeira. He is, however, better than anyone the Giants have now, and, outside of Jason Bay, who is over 30, he’s better than any other free agent hitter available. He’s better than anyone they might see come out of their system over the next three seasons, and arguably without trading one of the big two. What other choice does Sabean have? Are you telling me you want to see the Giants give 3 years and $25 million to Rick Ankiel and hope he actually is ready to be an everyday player? He’s practically the only other free agent under 30 years old who’s done any hitting at all in his career.
Sabean failed again and again to address the power and on-base deficit, now there’s a free agent who plays top flight defense, is still only 29 years old at the start of the season, and would probably add 25 home runs, 100 walks, and countless quality at-bats to the offense.
What’s that guy worth? We just pissed away $55 million dollars on Randy Winn. We’re in the process of pissing away the same amount of money on Aaron Rowand. You’re telling me we can’t piss away twice that on a player who, at worst, is 50% better than either of those two, and at his best, is well over twice the player than either one of them is at their absolute best?
The Giants have championship-caliber pitching, right now. RIGHT NOW. Another year of hoping we can squeak out 88 wins with a bottom 10% offense, while our young stud pitchers waste another stellar performance cannot be considered acceptable. You cannot just keep letting years go by, telling yourself that it’ll be better next year. Sometimes you gotta jump. We shoulda gambled THIS year, and we didn’t. Who knows if Cain and Lincecum can keep going, year after year? Who knows if Affeldt and Sanchez keep improving? I’ll tell you one guy who doesn’t know. Brian Sabean.
Brian Sabean does not know if he’s gonna get another year of pitching like the one he just wasted like he’s got fifty of ‘em in his back pocket.
UPDATE: Uggla would fit Sabean’s player acquisition profile perfectly, and I don’t mean that as a compliment. We just signed a shitty second baseman, so why not trade some of our good, young prospects for another stone-handed second baseman, especially since Florida already announced to the world that they are trying to dump salary? Sure, let’s get taken advantage of! Scared? I’m always scared when it comes to Sabean.
History made tonight. Matsui becomes the first Japanese-born player to win a World Series MVP, and a World Series, period.
Congratulations to the Yankees.
UPDATE: As I said yesterday, today’s game was all about Pettitte commanding the strike zone, and even though he walked five tonight, in the actual game situations, he was putting the ball exactly where he wanted to. Joe West was a bit inconsistent with his ball and strike calls, but Pettite refused to give in, and, in the end, with the early three-run lead, he was able to make sure that the pitches the Phillies swung at, the pitches that the Phillies hit, were the pitches he wanted them to swing at, the pitches he wanted them to hit. The pitches he wanted to them to hit, were thrown to the hitters he wanted to allow to have a chance to hit. All in all, the difference in the game was that Andy Pettitte commanded the strike zone, and by doing so, he won his 18th postseason game.
By the way, any talk about the Hall of Fame for Andy Pettitte (229-135 regular season record) must now consider the 40 postseason starts ( a whole extra seasons worth of work), and the 18-9 postseason record –which would raise his overall record to 257-144– was compiled at the highest, most demanding, pressure-filled level. Andy Pettitte has now won 5 postseason series clinching games. He’s now won 3 World Series clinching games. To suggest that he is the same pitcher as Jack Morris, as I read several times this week, is absurd. He’s had more than three times as many postseason wins as Morris, and he’s now won five –FIVE– World Series Championships.
Andy Pettitte did, in fact, command the strike zone, and, as I predicted, the Yankees did get to Pedro Martinez; and, as I predicted, if a Yankee hitter had an otherwordly game, he would steal the MVP from Mariano Rivera; and, as I predicted, if those things happened, the Yankees would be World Champions. And, they are.
Just the penultimate moment of the World Series, and Fox immediately cuts to a commercial instead of staying with the Sandman moment as Mariano comes in. Disgraceful.
Just writing that gives me bad mojo…..
Apparently, Girardi doesn’t want to swap A-Rod and Texeira in the lineup, not one article or report has mentioned the possibility. The NY Daily News says that Tex has been taking extra batting practice. It was also noted that most of the switch hitters in the Series are doing poorly, suggesting that the long delays between games, as well as the constant switching back and forth may be making it hard for the switchies to get in a rhythm. Makes sense to me.
So, starting with that, Girardi ought to switch the two hitters, to ensure that A-Rod gets as many at-bats as possible. I noticed it Monday night in the first inning, when Texeira failed to even advance Damon, let alone get a hit. I thought that the situation would arise later in the game when an inning would be extended or ended in Texeira’s hands. I didn’t think it would be the ninth, as the tying run, but it was, and Texeira looked terrible in failing to get the game into A-Rod’s hands. The time has come to make the change.
As for Pettitte going tonight, well, that decision was made when the Yankees went with Sabathia in Game Four. Once you do that, there’s no going back. They messed with Chamberlain until he completely lost command of his pitches, they have no trust whatsoever in Gaudin, and there’s nobody else. I think the Yanks get to Martinez tonight, but the game is in Pettitte’s hands. If he can’t keep the Phillies at bay, we’re gonna see a Game Seven.
The first two innings will be key. If Pettitte cannot command the strike zone, the Yankees are in trouble, because, other than the three starters and Rivera, there’s no one Girardi trusts anymore.
….for the Yankees.
Bad game for AJ Burnett. Didn’t anyone on the Yankees think the Phillies would swing earlier in the count, after Burnett went 22 for 25 first pitch strikes?
Bad game for Girardi. What the hell was he doing having Texeira in the third spot batting .063? Why didn’t he pinch run for Matsui in the ninth?
Bad game for the relievers. How many home runs can these guys give up?
Terrible postseason for Texeira. Easily the goat if the Yankees don’t close these guys out. Easily.
Well, except for Robinson Cano, who looks so lost at the plate, he might as well be playing for the Giants.
Great game/series/postseason for Alex Rodriguez. Need I say more?
Great game for Johnny Damon. Moving into series MVP conversation.
GREAT game for Chase Utley. Does he do anything other than hit the ball hard and far?
Back to the Bronx.
…. Meulens holds a .288 career OBP in the majors. Yes, he played mostly before the offensive explosion of 1993, but .288 is still poor. I’d feel better about the Giants if they hired someone who knew how to get on base to teach their players how to get on base.
Update: I was a little flippant in that last paragraph. Poor hitters do go on to be good coaches.
Yeah, but a .288 OBP isn’t poor, it’s abysmal. It’s a league-worst performance most seasons. Meulens was a flat-out terrible hitter, managing to stay in the majors for only about 180 games. In all honesty, he was so terrible, he makes Neifi Perez look like an All Star.
Carney Lansford, by comparison, was Mike Schmidt. His career OBP was .343, 55 points better. Put another way, Lansford had almost as many home runs as “Bam Bam” had games played. There is no question that this move is pointless, and in fact, should be viewed simply as a reflection of the mindset of an organization operating with an almost willful ignorance of the refinements and changes in the modern game. Watching the Phillies and Yankees only serves to remind me that it is possible to put together a team that that can execute a game plan, can take pitches that aren’t strikes, and that can win despite a lack of all-around production.
And don’t give me any of the bullshit about the Yankees buying a title. You either compete or you don’t. The 2009 Giants had the pitching to handle either of these teams this year, and our GM, our ownership group, and our organization failed, failed completely in their efforts to take a shot at a title.
A couple of real hitters would have made a huge difference, maybe would have been THE difference. Instead, they fire their hitting coach the day he buries his father, and hire one of the worst hitters in baseball history to coach their anemic offense. Sure, maybe it’s true that you can’t teach hitters knowledge of the strike zone, to be selective, as Michael Lewis suggested in Moneyball. But, if you can, it’s hard to argue that a guy who walked a total of 42 times in seven seasons is the guy to teach it.
Or maybe, just maybe, you reach out to an icon, who knows just a little bit about hitting.
The Yankees are 27 outs away from their 27th World Series championship. They’ll send AJ Burnett tonight to face Cliff Lee, who has dominated like few in history this post season. Odds are likely the series heads back to the Bronx for at least one more game, but should it end tonight, it seems like a tough choice for MVP. It seems like Damon has been involved in a lot of the scoring in Philadelphia, (but in reality, he’s been hot the last game and a half) Derek Jeter has the best batting average and the most hits in the Series, and A-Rod has made the most of his two safeties.
I think it’s gonna end up being Rivera. There’s no chance Burnett goes the distance, so without question, if the Yankees win tonight, Rivera will be getting the last three outs. If that happens, he’ll have three saves, allowed no runs, and basically saved the season with his two inning save in Game 2. Unless one of the two superstars singlehandedly wins the game, it’s gonna be the Sandman.
UPDATE: So much for that. It looks like Cliff Lee could be the MVP, whether the Phillies come all the way back or not. As for the Yankees, this is the first game of the postseason that they had a starter get knocked out early.