19 February 2009

On the links . . .

Another National screw up.
Esmailyn Gonzalez is not the 19 year old who broke out in his second year of the GCL. He is actually Carlos Lugo who at 23, repeated the GCL and tore it up pretty well. He was, on average, 5 years older than his competition. It is unclear who perpetuated this fraud. Jim Bowden was adament to Stan Karsten back in 2006 to sign this kid/adult to make a cannon shot letting baseball talent in the Latin America know that the Nationals meant business. They gave him 1.4MM as a signing bonus (twice what rival Rangers were offering) and he immediately became one of their best minor leaguers. We had him rated 8th this past offseason. With this new knowledge . . . he is off our top 30. Bear in mind the Nats also have a thin farm system. A 23 year old repeating GCL just is not that impressive. This fraud case may have a deeper story coming out as the top brass of the Nationals were investigated for embezzling last year though nothing concrete has come out of that. Add that to the Aaron Crow debacle and senseless recharacterization of that ordeal . . . Washington does not seem to be the place to be at the moment.

Pitching Injury
This one slipped through the cracks a few weeks back, but I thought it was interesting enough to hit it. The guy at Razzball has developed criteria to identify pitchers at risk:
1. % of Curves+Sliders. The idea being that the more you rely on your breaking balls, the more strain you put on your arm. A third of pitchers who threw more than 27% C+S wound up pitching less than 2000 pitches the following year. A fourth of them saw an increase in their FIP (defense independent ERA) by 0.50.
2. An increase of 700 or more pitches from 2007 to 2008. This is a variation of the 30 inning increase rule. Pitchers over this level rated the same as those who threw more than 27% breaking balls.
3. Rookies throwing more than 2,700 pitches in their first year. The idea behind this is that extensive throwing at a higher level of competition could tax an arm. The numbers from 2007 and 2008 show that a third pitch less than 2,000 pitches their second season and that a fifth see their FIP rise 0.50.
Razzball IDs these as the top 5 guys to worry about:
1. Armando Galarraga - the reason why I hope we let Chris Tillman take his time to reach the majors.
2. Ricky Nolasco
3. Gavin Floyd
4. Brett Myers
5. Ryan Dempster

Baseball Prospectus' Baserunning Indices
The Orioles best base runner last season was Jay Payton. He was ranked 67th in the league. Overall . . . the team was pretty awful on the basepaths. In fact, we only had four starters who were above average:
Adam Jones (0.83 runs; pretty average at everything)
Brian Roberts (0.7; slightly above average at making most of his stolen base opportunities, his other baserunning skills actually produce a negative value)
Melvin Mora (0.47; awful at stealing bases to the tune of over 3 runs a season . . . decent with regard to advancing on base hits)
Luke Scott (0.2; OK at all things)
Markakis (52nd worst), Millar (13th worst in baseball), and Hernandez (23rd worst) were in total responsible for wasting about 15 runs or 1.5 wins last year. Markakis' probably is that he seems to get caught stealing at a decent clip.

Top three baserunners?
1. Ichiro 12.7 runs (a gain of over a run per season due to his base running skills)
2. Willy Tavares 11.9 runs
3. Ian Kinsler 9.2 runs

Bottom three?
Dionnar Navarro -8.0 runs
Magglio Ordonez -8.0 runs
Prince Fielder -7.1 runs

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