24 January 2012

O's make roster moves and what not to do on Twitter

Monday was a productive day for the Baltimore Orioles as the ballclub decided to release outfielder Kyle Hudson. Hudson, 25, was a fourth round pick in the 2008 draft out of Illinois. The young outfielder was designated for assignment to make room for recently acquired pitcher from Taiwan, Wei-Yin Chen. The Orioles had to trade or release Hudson. The team can attempt to resign Hudson, but he wont be able to play for the ballclub before May 15. In three minor league seasons Hudson put up some decent stats, .296/.375/.336 in 119 games.

The Baltimore Sun reported that the Orioles and free agent switch hitting utility infielder Wilson Betemit have agreed on a 2 year +1 deal, pending a physical. Betemit, who played for the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals last season, will provide the Orioles with some infield depth along with the additions of Ryan Flaherty and Matt Antonelli. Betemit for his career has a stat line of .296/.336/.448 with 63 homers and 243 RBIs in 1,742 plate appearances. Last season between the Tigers and the Royals Betemit went a combined .285/.343./.452 with 22 doubles, four triples, eight long balls and 46 RBIs in 97 games. The signing would be considered an On-Base percentage aisle type signing for EVBOP Dan Duquette. The O's will need to remove a player from the 40-man roster  to make room for Betemit. 

Twitter has become a way to deliver the news whether it be entertainment, sports, or even the weather. News can be distributed so fast on twitter, its hard to keep up with whats current and what is old news. The speed of the news though creates some drawbacks and people will try to boost their credibility on social network sites by reporting false or made up information in hopes of making a name for themselves.
(Everybody wants to be the next Roch Kubatko, who doesn't?)

Recently, Scott Swaim who claims to have ties to MLB, tweeted that top free agent Prince Fielder was close to signing a 8 year deal with the Washington Nationals. None of the reliable and trustworthy news outlets, such as MLB, ESPN, Jon Heyman or Ken Rosenthal followed with confirmation on the Swaims news.

Former Nationals GM and ESPN Radio personality Jim Bowden did some investigating and eventually tweeted the report was untrue and that Prince Fielder hadn't nearly signed a deal with the Nats. My grandfather always told me when breaking news happens to always wait and read everything and to see what the true facts are before making a judgement on something. My guess is Swaim, was trying to stir up the hot stove and get people talking about the top free agent left on the market. I mean what else is there to do on a cold January night? Swaim even has it on his twitter that he was the one who broke the Albert Pujols to the Angels story. We live in a world where its not important that the story is accurate or not, its more important and sexy to just report the story first without any resources to back up what you are reporting. Whatever helps you get more followers and more pats on the back by your friends more power to you. But please think before you post, because when your story comes back and bites you and no one is coming to back you up, you look less credible then you already did. 


23 January 2012

Are O's Still Looking for a Left-Handed Batter?

Note: This column is now outdated with Betemit signing.


Dan Duquette has mentioned in the past he is looking to add a left handed bat to the team.  He has also expressed a desire to add someone with a ".380 on base percentage."  Those two things are a tough combination to find a free agent whether at the beginning or end of free agency.  At it stands, the only player who immediately appears as a fit is Prince Fielder.  Fielder has been a good, but not elite first baseman.  He tends to have on and off seasons that run the inverse of the infamous Star Trek rule (Fielder's odd years have been better than his even ones 17.1 fWAR vs. 6.4 fWAR).  I think over the next eight years or so that Fielder will be a cheaper and better deal than Albert Pujols, but that he is not a great first baseman.  It is on par with players like Mark Grace, Kent Hrbek, and Glenn Davis.  Very good, but not great players.  As such, it is difficult making a good argument that Fielder is worth 25 MM a year.

However, there are other options than Fielder.  These options are not as flashy or dependable as the production that Fielder will provide.  Additionally many of these second/third/fourth choices have issues with them which may explain why they are available at this late date.

Nine Potential Options:

The First Basemen
This position is one of several where the Orioles lack prime production.  The current plan is to open the season with Chris Davis at first base.  Davis, the long time Ranger who had his moments in Arlington, will try to make a home there, but will need to improve upon his contact rate to an acceptable level (producing a .280 to .300 batting average) to be useful to the team.  The only other option there that could lead to league average or above production would be to shift Mark Reynolds back to first base.  As it stands now, Davis is a left handed batter and an additional left handed batter makes little sense with respect to a platoon.  Davis, however, could be a good offensive backup corner infielder.

Russell Branyan
36 years old
1B/DH/fringe 3B
Branyan has been an extreme platoon hitter with a career +.105 OPS favoring his bat against right handed hitters.  His career has been one where teams have seemed to have difficulty fitting him in as he is a solid defensive 1B who was above average against righties and replacement level against lefties.  Such a player is difficult to find a spot on the bench as his role is limited to 1B and DH as well as being a target for a relief switch late in the game.  In 2009 and 2010, Branyan hit quite well against right handed pitching with 905 and 874 OPS in Seattle and Cleveland.  In 2011, the wheels feel off and had a line of 198/293/388 in 133 plate appearances.  Optimism can be found for this year as his BABIP was 50 points below his normal level.  BABIP tends to regress to a player's average BABIP.  The cause for concern though that I see is that Branyan also saw a collapse in his ISO.  He would be worth a Minor League invite.

Casey Kotchman
29 years old
1B
Kotchman has had high expectations placed up him, placing in the top 100 prospects for Baseball America in 2002 (22nd), 2003 (13th), 2004 (15th), and 2005 (6th).  He was known for plus contact, plus discipline, and plus defense.  The hope was that his gap power would play up as he matured.  After a solid rookie year, his hitting sputtered out.  The Angels eventually gave up on him and he moved around to Atlanta, Boston, and Seattle.  Last year, everything came together again playing for the Rays.  He showed a good hit rate (potentially inflated by a high BABIP) and played good defense.  The Rays apparently did not believe his performance last season was in line with his talent level and chose to pay Carlos Pena instead.  Kotchman would probably be a good play if the team did not already have Davis.  I find him an improvement on Davis, but not remarkably so.

The Third Baseman
It is a matter of discussion when trying to determine whether Mark Reynolds is going back to third base because he is best suited there due to his skills or Chris Davis' shoulder.  A platoon might work here with the left handed third baseman taking third and pushing Reynolds to first or DH when facing a right handed starting pitcher.

Wilson Betemit
30 years old
INF/DH
Betemit is likely looking for a starting gig.  He has predominantly played third base and he has defensively played that position quite poorly.  Betemit keeps himself in lineups because he has keep his 800 or above OPS.  He actually profiles as an extremely good platoon player with a career long 817 OPS against right handers and a 684 OPS against left handers.  His defense is no worse than Reynolds', so he might be a decent choice as a 3B or DH against right handers and a left handed bat off the bench in cross handed matchups.  He could also stand in at 2B or 1B in a pinch.  He has never played the outfield.

The Left Fielders
Left Field is another area of some instability for the Orioles.  They have seemed relatively unconvinced that Nolan Reimold was an appropriate solution for the past several years.  The team has tried to play Felix Pie, Corey Patterson, Kyle Hudson, Matt Angle, and now perhaps Endy Chavez instead of using Reimold.  Chavez, a lefty, has been rumored as being used as a platoon player, but lacks the bat to be effectively used.  It may benefit the team more by relegating Chavez to being a backup centerfielder and use a more legitimate bat to pair up with Reimold.

Johnny Damon
38 years old
DH/LF
Damon was signed on the cheap by the Rays last year and was thrust into the lineup as a full timer.  He showed himself to be unable to play the field and that his bat had deteriorated.  The Orioles have been tied to him, but he would likely be an inflexible player who would be a detriment offensively.

Carlos Guillen
36 years old
DH/LF/1B/fringe INF
Guillen has not been a major contributor in the past three seasons.  He still shows a powerful bat and a decent eye, but he no longer appears able to make enough contact.  Pitchers appear to be going after him more directly than they use to.  However, he does show more flexibility than Damon and that means Guillen can stand around poorly defending more positions than Damon.

Raul Ibanez
40 years old
DH/LF
Ibanez is not a adequate defender.  He hasn't been for years.  For the Phillies, he had a good half season and the rest went to pot.  Ibanez still does relatively well against right handed batters.  He is the type of player I imagine that the old Andy MacPhail regime would be interested in.  Ibanez had a down year last year and someone might take a chance that he could find his stroke again.  I doubt he can though.  He just does not have the bat speed anymore.


J.D. Drew
36 years old
RF/LF/DH
Drew suffered from a shoulder impingement and a fractured finger which resulted in an awful season last year.  He has said that he would continue playing only if he found the right, winning situation.  Many players waiting for contracts have said that and it remains to be seen what Drew will do.  If his shoulder is fixed, then it would be an easy decision to sign him and slot him in left field.  Without looking at his medicals, he appears to me as a great buy low candidate.  I would not want to spend more than 3-4 MM on him and would not wish to promise him a starting slot.  The latter contingency may be difficult in convincing him.

Kosuke Fukudome
35 years old
RF/LF/DH
When the Cubs signed Fukudome they expected a superstar.  What they got was a very good season, two average ones, and a mess of a final season.  His numbers in Japan actually translated quite well with a high OBP.  Somehow the frenzy of a top notch foreign player coming to the US escalated the cost beyond reason.  Although he did not perform according to expectations, that does not make Fukudome a worthless player.  Even last year's evaporation of any sense of power, Fukudome maintained an OBP over .350 against lefties.  He could be useful as a 5th outfielder and an OBP focused platoon player against righties.

The Designated Hitter
One thing has remained the same even though there was a regime change: the expressed desire to keep DH duties open to give players rest.  In the MacPhail era, this often unraveled into reserving the DH position to full time players like Aubrey Huff, Luke Scott, and Vladimir Guerrero.  As the Duquette era begins, does he go out and sign a full time DH?  Damon, Guillen, and Ibanez likely would qualify as that.  So would our last option.

Hideki Matsui
38 years old
DH
The Athletics have tried for the past several seasons to take advantage of a cheap way to improve offensive production: strict DH bats.  This included Mike Piazza, Frank Thomas, Jack Cust, and then Hideki Matsui.  This approach has not exactly gone well for the Athletics.  The poor success rate is likely a reason why it is relatively cheap to use this approach.  Before last year, Matsui was a 850 OPS performer against right handed pitching.  Last year, he was at 654.  I don't see him bouncing back.


Conclusion
I see J.D. Drew, Wilson Betemit, or Casey Kotchman as the three targets that would be ideal.  They are players with good reason for optimism and an outside chance of being useful in a deal that would bring back a B level player.  That said, if the sole play is for a B level prospect then the cost at hand should be no more than 5 MM.  Adjust for the probability of these players being tradable and I would be comfortable offering 3 MM with incentives.  The only other one of these eight that I would be OK with offering a MLB contract would be Kosuke Fukudome.  I could see offering him a base pay of 1.5 MM with incentives.  There really are not a lot of great choices.

Arrivals and Departures: Peace and the 40 Man Roster

I have finally found a forum and a website that has given me the opportunity to speak my mind about the Baltimore Orioles. For so long, I have been searching various Oriole message boards and blogs for a place to contribute to the daily news surrounding the ball club and Camden Depot has graciously given me the space to do that. First let me introduce myself, I'm born and raised in Baltimore and have been an Orioles fan since Cal Ripken Jr. made the winning catch in the World Series in 1983. I have been in the radio business for the last ten years working as a producer and reporter for CBS Radio. Throughout my time as a reporter I have covered the Orioles, Ravens, Maryland Terps Basketball and Football for 105.7 The Fan and ESPN Radio 1300AM.

My desire to write about sports began two years ago when I took a fun writing course in college and ever since I have been helping out with writing about Lacrosse for ESPNHS.com and have covered high school sports for The Carroll County Times

I have always wanted to write about the Orioles. I occasionally will go over and chime in on the message boards at Orioleshangout.com. But adding posts and creating threads can get fun for only so long. My passion is to cover the team and bring the latest news coming out of the warehouse to you the reader. With my experience as a reporter and the love I have for the Orioles I feel we will have a lot of fun here on Camden Depot.

----

So lets dive in to what has been going on so far this offseason for the Birds. Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations (wow that is a long title to type out, would you be cool if I called Dan the EVPBO?) Dan Duquette has stepped into Andy MacPhail's role and has made some significant changes to the front office. Since taking the role as the EVPBO, Duquette has brought his own people in from his days when he was with the Boston Red Sox and the Montreal Expos. Its pretty impressive what Duquette has been able to do with the changes in the front office and the scouting department considering the fact that GM candidate Tony LaCava said he wasn't allowed to mess with the cupboard. The hires in particular that stand out to me so far are Rick Peterson, who will be the Director of Pitcher Development and has a lengthy track record of helping pitchers and former Orioles centerfielder Brady Anderson who will be Duquette's special assistant and will oversee the conditioning and fitness of the ball club. Both moves I see will be beneficial for the ball club and have been needed in the organization for a long time. 

But moving along, the Orioles have also made some changes to the 40 man roster and Duquette has made it no secret that he wants to shop in the pitchers aisle and the high on-base percentage aisle. And with the moves so far you can tell he is not leaving a stone unturned. Even though the additions have been made it is also interesting to take into account with the 2012 season approaching, where everyone on the 40-man roster stands with the option years. Orioleshangout poster CrazySilver did a nice breakdown, provided by COTS, on how the options work and where each player stands.

Options
An option (optional assignment) allows a club to move a player on its 40-man roster to and from the minor-leagues without exposing him to the other 29 teams.

After 4 or 5 years as a professional, a player must be added to his club's 40-man roster or exposed to the 29 other clubs in the Rule 5 draft. (A club has 5 years to evaluate a player who signs his first pro contract at 18 years old or younger, but only 4 years to decide on a player who signs at age 19.) For purposes of calculating years as a pro, the counting begins the day a player signs his first pro contract, not the season he begins to play.

When a player is added to the 40-man roster, his club has three options, or three separate seasons during which the club may to move him to and from the minor leagues without exposing him to other clubs. A player on the 40-man roster playing in the minors is on optional assignment, and within an option season, there is no limit on the number of times a club may demote and recall a player. However, a player optioned to the minor leagues may not be recalled for at least 10 days, unless the club places a Major League player on the disabled list during the 10-day window.

After three options are exhausted, the player is out of options. Beginning with the next season, he must clear waivers before he may be sent to the minors again. See Waivers. Additionally, a player with 5 years of Major League service may not be sent to the minor leagues on an optional assignment without his consent.

Counting option years
- If a player is not sent to the minors during a year, an option is not used.
- If a player is on the 40-man roster in spring training but optioned to the minors before the season begins, an option is used.
- If a player's optional assignment(s) to the minors total less than 20 days in one season, an option is not used.
- A player may be eligible for a fourth option year if he has been optioned in three seasons but does not yet have five full seasons of professional experience. A full season is defined as being on an active pro roster for at least 90 days in a season. (If a player is put on the disabled list after earning 60 or more days of service in a single season, his time on the DL is counted.) The 90-day requirement means short-season leagues (New-York Penn, Northwest, Pioneer, Appalachian, Gulf Coast, Arizona Rookie, Dominican and Venezuelan Summer Leagues) do not count as full seasons for the purposes of determining eligibility for a fourth option.

The following is the 40 man roster as it stands.  Again, this list is largely informed by the work mentioned above.

Adams, Ryan
Options Remaining: 2/3
Reason: Adams was brought up to replace Brian Roberts in May 2011. He was optioned after only getting a handful of starts.

Andino, Robert
Options Remaining: 0/3
Reason: The Marlins purchased his contract on 9/2/2005. He was optioned for the first time on 3/25/2006. He was optioned for a second time on 3/23/2007. He was optioned for a third and final time on 5/25/2008. Andino was sent outright to AAA Norfolk at the end of Spring Training 2010 with the acquisition of Julio Lugo from the St. Louis Cardinals. He was later added back to the 40 man roster in September 2010 and remained on the roster over the winter.

Angle, Matt
Options Remaining: 2/3
Reason: Angle was added to the 40 man roster in November 2010. Angle was optioned at the end of ST 2011.


Antonelli, Matt
Options Remaining: 1/3
Reason: Contract purchased 9/1/2008 and optioned on 3/23/2009 and 3/28/2010.


Arrieta, Jake
Options Remaining: 3/3
Reason: Arrieta's contract was purchased on June 11th 2010 to make his major debut against the New York Yankees.

Bell, Josh
Options Remaining: 1/3
Reason: Bell had his contract purchased in November 2009. He was optioned for the first time following Spring Training 2010. He was optioned for the second time following Spring Training 2011.

Bergesen, Brad
Options Remaining: 0/3
Reason: The Orioles purchased his contract on 11/18/2008 to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. He was optioned to the minors for the first time on 3/21/2009. Bergesen was sent to the minors on 4/20/2010 but was recalled on 5/1/2010. Bergesen was optioned to the minors again on 6/14/2010 and remained in the minors for more than 20 days throughout the season. Bergesen was optioned to the minors for four days in 2011, from 4/9 to 4/13 before being recalled for an injured starter. He was later optioned on 5/29/11.

Berken, Jason
Options Remaining: 2/3
Reason: The Orioles purchased his contract on May 26th 2009. Berken was optioned to Norfolk on 5/26/2011 to help him work on his command.

Britton, Zach
Options Remaining: 3/3
Reason: Britton was added to the 40 man roster in November 2010. Britton was optioned on 3/29/2011 but was recalled on 4/3/2011 so an option year was not used.


Bundy, Dylan
Options Remaining: 4/4
Reason: Bundy was added to the 40 man roster upon signing in August 2011.


Chavez, Endy
Options Remaining: 0/3
Reason: Chavez no longer qualifies for options.


Chen, Wei-Yin
Options Remaining: 3/3
Reason: Signed by Baltimore as a Free Agent on 1/10/2012.


Davis, Chris
Options Remaining: 0/3
Reason: Contract purchased on 6/26/2008 and optioned on 7/6/2009, 4/23/2010, and 3/29/2011.


Drake, Oliver
Options Remaining: 3/3
Reason: Drake was added to the 40 man roster in November 2011. 


Eveland, Dana
Options Remaining: 0/3
Reason: Eveland was acquired via trade in December 2011 and is without options.


Gregg, Kevin
Options Remaining: 0/3
Reason: Gregg is in the last year of his free agent contract.


Guthrie, Jeremy
Options Remaining: 0/3
Reason: With the Cleveland Indians, Guthrie exhausted all of his option years.


Flaherty, Ryan
Options Remaining: 3/3 (Rule 5 draftee, cannot use options in 2012)
Reason: Flaherty was drafted in Rule 5 draft in December 2011.


Hardy, J.J.
Options Remaining: 0/3
Reason: Hardy has signed an extension and no longer qualifies for options.


Hunter, Tommy
Options Remaining: 0/3
Reason: Rangers purchased his contract in 2008 and was optioned in each season subsequently.


Johnson, Jim
Options Remaining: 0/3
Reason: The Orioles purchased Johnson's contract on 11/18/2005. The Orioles optioned Johnson to the minors for the first time on 3/16/2006. On 3/12/2007, the Orioles optioned Johnson to the minors for a second time. The Orioles optioned Johnson to the minors in March of 2008, but he spent less than 20 days in the minors so his optional assignment is withdrawn. Johnson was optioned to Norfolk on 5/1/2010 to make room for the returning Brad Bergesen on the major league roster. Johnson was recalled on 5/28/2010 and placed on the major league DL, unfortunately, the final option was used.


Jones, Adam
Options Remaining: 1/3
Reason: Contract was purchased on 7/14/2006 and optioned on 8/22/2006 and 4/1/2007.


Mahoney, Joe
Options Remaining: 2/3
Reason: Mahoney was added to the 40 man roster in November 2010. Mahoney was optioned to the minors for the first time during Spring Training 2011.


Markakis, Nick
Options Remaining: 0/3
Reason: No longer qualifies.


Matusz, Brian
Options Remaining: 2/4
Reason: Matusz signed a MLB out of the draft with options used on 3/14/2009 and 6/30/2011.


Miller, Jai
Options Remaining: 0/3
Reason: Contract purchased on 11/20/2007 and optioned on 3/10/2008, 3/13/2009, and 4/8/2010.


O'Day, Darren
Options Remaining: 1/3
Reason: Contract was purchased on 3/29/2008.  Options were used on 5/13/2008 and on 7/14/2011.


Patton, Troy
Options Remaining: 0/3
Reason: On 8/25/2007, Patton had his contract purchased by the Astros after completing his fourth season in the minors. Patton remained with the Astros throughout September of 2007. Patton was optioned in Spring Training 2009 and 2010. Patton was optioned for a final time during Spring Training 2011.


Phillips, Zach
Options Remaining: 1/3
Reason: Contract was purchased on 11/19/2009 with options executed on 3/17/2010 and 3/12/2011.


Rapada, Clay
Options Remaining: 0/3
Reason: Contract was purchased in 11/20/2006 with options executed on 3/12/2007, 3/30/2008, and 4/1/2009


Reimold, Nolan
Options Remaining: 0/3
Reason: Reimold had his contract purchased on 11/18/2008 to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. He was optioned for the first time during Spring Training 2009. After opening up with a horrendous beginning to his 2010 season, Reimold was sent to Norfolk to work out some of his issues in May and has remained in Norfolk. Reimold was optioned for a final time at the end of ST 2011.


Reynolds, Mark
Options Remaining: 0/3
Reason: No longer qualifies for options.


Roberts, Brian
Options Remaining: 0/3
Reason: No longer qualifies for options.


Simon, Alfredo
Options Remaining: 0/3
Story: Had his contract purchased by the Phillies on 11/19/2003. He was optioned for the first time on 3/13/2004 by the Phillies. Upon being traded to the Giants during the 2004 season, he was optioned for a 2nd time on 3/14/2005. He was optioned for a 3rd and final time on 3/13/2006. He was sent outright to the minors on 7/29/2006.


Strop, Pedro
Options Remaining: 1/3
Reason: Contract purchased on 8/27/2009 and optioned on 3/24/2010 and 5/4/2011.


Teagarden, Taylor
Options Remaining: 0/3
Reason: Contract purchased 7/18/2008 and optioned on 7/21/2008, 4/27/2010, and 3/29/2011.


Tillman, Chris
Options Remaining: 1/3
Reason: The Orioles purchased his contract on 7/29/2009 to make his major league debut against Kansas City. Tillman was optioned to the minors for the first time during Spring Training 2010. Tillman was optioned to the minors on 5/29/2011.


VandenHurk, Rick
Options Remaining: 0/3
Reasons: The Marlins optioned Vandenhurk in 2008, 2009, and 2010. He was acquired by the Orioles for Will Ohman at the trade deadline in 2010 and was consequently sent down to Norfolk.


Wada, Tsuyoshi
Options Remaining: 3/3
Reason: Wada was signed as a free agent on 12/14/2011.


Wieters, Matt
Options Remaining: 3/3
Reason: Contract purchased on 5/29/2009.
 


Four Options Remaining:
D.Bundy 

Three Options Remaining:
J. Arrieta, Z. Britton, O. Drake, M. Wieters

Two Options Remaining:
R. Adams, M. Angle, B. Matusz, J. Mahoney 

One Option Remaining:  
J. Bell, A. Jones, D. O'Day, Z. Phillips, P. Strop, C. Tillman

Zero Options Remaining:
R. Andino, B. Bergesen, E. Chavez, W. Chen, C. Davis, D. Eveland, K. Gregg, J. Guthrie, R. Flaherty, J. Hardy, T. Hunter, J. Johnson, N. Markakis, J. Miller, T. Patton, C. Rapada, N. Reimold, M. Reynolds, B. Roberts, A. Simon, T. Teagarden, R. Vandenhurk, T. Wada


We will be following the option year process with each player throughout the season.

22 January 2012

Cup of jO's: Pita Rona and Kim Sung-min

As many have noted, two of the players the Orioles have signed this week are 17 and hail from New Zealand and South Korea.  I know next to nothing about these players, but have been asked repeatedly about them.  What I know about Rona is that he is an athletic softball player who played in the infield and needs help in refining his baseball mechanics.  Sung-min is a left handed pitcher who was mentioned in a Korean paper as being a top notch prospect.

What does this all mean?

I don't really know.

The odds are long against Rona.  No Kiwi has ever made the climb to play in the majors.  Australia has been able to punch in a baseball player into the bigs on almost a yearly basis, but no one from New Zealand has had the honor.  Toronto's Scott Richmond is often mentioned as the sole citizen of New Zealand to play in the Majors, which he is through his father who was born in Aukland.  Richmond, as best as I can tell, was born and lived most of his life in British Columbia.  In BC, they actually have advanced amateur baseball.  In NZ, softball is the most dominant stick and ball game.  It is pretty difficult to take mechanics learned from softball and seamlessly transition to baseball.

I'd have to say the best baseball prospect New Zealand has yielded has been Scott Campbell.  He was an infielder in the Blue Jays' system.  His calling card was a solid average and strong plate discipline.  However, he tore his groin in 2009 and chose to rehab the injury.  It did not get better, so he had surgery to repair his hip labrum and missed all of 2010.  The next Spring Training, the hip was still an issue.  Further review found that his femur was oddly shaped and would continually tear at his labrum, so he had another surgery and missed all of 2011.  The Jays are hoping that they can bring him along at 3B and see what he can do.

The Red Sox have been particularly active in New Zealand, signing brothers Mona and Boss Moanaroa in 2008 and Te Wara Bishop in 2011.  Mona Moanaroa took three years to emerge from rookie ball, but looked decent in short season A ball if you solely look at the numbers.  He displays good discipline and power.  Boss, on the other hand, appears to be a bit of a free swinger.  I think Bishop was still in the academy last year.  I think a major problem for many of these players acclimating to baseball is probably their swing.  A severe uppercut swing that works in softball does not work well in baseball because the bat moves too quickly through the zone.  The limits the amount of contact that can be produced.

South Korea, on the other hand, is a nation that has produced several baseball players.  However, if the Orioles did in fact sign the best amateur in South Korea...it may not exactly mean much.  There are years where the talent out of Korea is very good and years where it is not.  I think if we compare these nations to the talent produced by states in the United States.  I would compare South Korea to Rhode Island and New Zealand to maybe Wyoming.  That said, the populations of South Korea and New Zealand are greater than those respective states, meaning that the potential to find talent is greater than those states.  The problem is often having the proper infrastructure and instruction in place to develop players who will succeed in the American game.

So, to answer your question about what does it mean that the O's have sign Pita Rona and Kim Sung-min?

I am not really sure.


21 January 2012

For the Post FanFest Hangover

Enjoy!



20 January 2012

Cup o' jO's: Rick Peterson and the O's Arms

Just a quick entry this morning...

Rick Peterson and his pitching lab will apparently be in full effect for the Orioles in 2012.  His analytical technique has been hailed as a major prevention tool against injuries.  I have disabled list numbers of starting pitchers from part of his tenure with the A's and all of his tenure with the Mets, giving us a time line from 2001 to 2007.  I also have disabled numbers of Orioles' starting pitchers in 2009 and 2010.

Rick Peterson
2001 - No starting pitchers visited the DL
2002 - 3 DL visits, 84 missed days
2003 - 3, 60
2004 - 3, 91
2005 - 3, 205
2006 - 5, 382
2007 - 3, 215

I am not sure what to make of the above except to note that much of the injury issues with the Mets were with aging retreads as they tried to fill out their pitching rotation for another post season run.  I look at those numbers and they appear to be quite impressive.  Although, he did have one of the more unfortunate statements to have been uttered during his time with the Mets.  He noted that he could fix Victor Zambrano's performance in "ten minutes" while Scott Kazmir was at least three years from performing in the big leagues.  Zambrano, as many expected, quickly fell apart and Kazmir becames the Rays' ace.  At the time and in hindsight, it was an awful deal and incredibly perplexing.

Now, looking at the Orioles
2009 - 4, 304
2010 - 4, 192

That does not appear to be much different than the end of Peterson's run with the Mets.

In a future post, I hope to get into these numbers a bit deeper.

18 January 2012

Trading Adam Jones: AL Central Edition

The post will focus on a baseline that was suggested by a scout.  So, yes, the opinion of a single professional is how we will value Jones' worth here.  What is that worth?  It was posited that Adam Jones would be worth a top 25 player, a top 50 player, and a top 100 player.  In other words, I would translate this as meaning a A-, B+ and B level player.  One final way of looking at it, a 60, a 56, and a 52.  That means that some in this business think very highly of Adam Jones.  We at the Depot have not thought as highly of Jones in the past, but what matters is who values him the most.

This fourth part will focus on packages from AL Central teams.

Chicago White Sox
Dayan Viciedo, RF
Addison Reed, RP
Gordon Beckham, INF

I think it is often a good exercise to go through and look at each team.  How each team matches up.  The White Sox are obviously a poor fit.  Right now they are going through an Orioles style rebuilding project.  That basically means that are trading away fringe value pieces and inexplicably holding onto their guys with real value.  Their minors is thin which hurts teams wanting young players in return and works against the ChiSox's new goal to beef up their system.  A deal here centers on Dayan Viciedo who is a promising player, but there are questions about his hitting approach with poor discipline and a need for more power.  Much of the hope statistically on him is based on his rapid improvement in walk rate as he faced AAA pitching for the second year in a row.  The other major piece is the struggling Gordon Beckham.  Beckham promising breakout in 2009 is now overshadowed by poor 2010 and 2011 campaigns.  He has developed a habit of chasing really bad pitches.  He is a reclamation project.

Cleveland Indians
Matt LaPorta, 1B
Jason Kipnis, 2B
Michael Brantley, LF

The Indians system thinned out a bit with last year's acquisition of Ubaldo Jimenez.  Otherwise, LHP Drew Pomeranz would have been the target here.  The second target would be Jason Kipnis.  I have always been a big Kipnis fan, lobbying hard in 2009 for Nick to draft him in our Orioles shadow draft.  He logged 150 plate appearances last year and showed a strong bat and the potential to stick it out at second base.  I think the team control on him and his offensive production will make him a hard target to acquire, but one you have to insist on.  The bat certainly looks real, but with his difficulties at second the bat looks not quite as shiny if it needs to be moved to left field.  I also focused on acquiring a couple disappointing prospects and second tier arm.  Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley are two prospects who came over in the CC Sabathia deal and have disappointed.  LaPorta has never shown the power and contact rate he displayed in the minors.  He does not have much more rope left.  In Michael Brantley the Indians have someone who has logged a couple years and is approaching his more expensive team controlled years.  His two major failings in the Majors have been a lack of meaningful contact and an inability to hit left handed pitching.  Adding a little more salt to the wound, his approach in left field leaves one wanting, but he does have the ability to be average if not better out there. Brantley could also be exchanged out for someone like Zach McAllister.

Detroit Tigers
Casey Crosby, LHP
Nick Castellanos, 3B
Andrew Oliver, LHP

The Tigers at first look like a bad fit with Austin Jackson in center.  However, Jones is a clear upgrade to Jackson with the bat and potentially with the glove.  The Tigers could also pay deference to Jackson and shift Jones to a corner position.  However, shifting Jones to a corner position reduces his value to the team and makes him less of an attractive piece to acquire.  Additionally, the Tigers give up good pieces that should be of use to them.  Crosby and Oliver are not far away from potentially providing meaningful contributions to the big league club. Castellanos is a very good prospect who could be developed by the club or dealt for a player that more fits the team's needs.

Kansas City Royals
Wil Myers, LF
Christian Colon, INF
Tim Melville, RHP

This trade almost makes sense if not for the Royals being set in their outfield.  Alex Gordon finally accomplished with his bat what everyone thought he was capable of doing.  Jeff Francoeur had a career year.  Melky Cabrera broke out big in a career year as well.  All of these guys were in their age 26 or 27 year, so it makes some sense that these performance may be real and qualify as what one might expect from their peak seasons.  For a team like the Royals it would make more sense to use any trade chips to beef up their pitching instead of going after Jones. 

Minnesota Twins
Miguel Sano, 1B/LF
Eddie Rosario, OF
Niko Goodrum, SS

Budget issues, Denard Span, and stopgap Ben Revere make this a difficult place for Jones to land.  Add that to the general feeling that the Twins are trying to retool as opposed to push for the playoffs and it just does not seem like a fit.  Sano would be the prize here.  Oriole fans can often be heard gnashing their teeth when hearing of Sano because the Orioles were turned off by his 3.5 MM price tag and instead took that money along with another million, investing it in Garret Atkins.  Good times.  Of course, Sano is still a very raw hitter who strikes out far more than should against not too advanced hitting.  He is young and could develop into a monster bat.

Conclusion
Adam Jones simply does not appear to easily fit for any team in this division.  The White Sox and Indians appear not to be in the market for Jones and their packages rely far too much on reclamation projects with too much service time already used.  I could see the Tigers being interested as they fill out their outfield.  It appears they are set with Jackson in center and Delmon Young in left field.  The Royals have the young talent to offer, but they sport an outfield that is entering into their peaks years and is reasonably priced.  I also simply do not see the Twins choosing to spend so much to fill a position that they already have coverage with the difficulties they face with their budget allocations already.  However, of those deals...I'd like to find something with the Royals and then the Tigers.  It still appears the only logical place so far for Jones to go is Atlanta.

17 January 2012

Kyle Hudson's Draft Excluded Status

In one of his posts, Roch Kubatko wrote the following:
Hudson can't be placed on waivers and outrighted to the minors before March because he's "draft excluded." The Orioles must trade or release him. They can re-sign him if he's released, but he can't play for them before May 15.
Roch apparently believes that surrounding mystery around quotation marked designations improves the beauty of sports journalism, I guess.

What does it mean to be draft excluded?

It is a player who begins the season as a minor leaguer who would be eligible for that December's Rule 5 draft and is added to the 40 man roster between the draft signing date (August 15th) and the deadline for the Rule 5 draft.  This player can be traded at any time during his draft excluded status, but cannot be designated for assignment until 20 days prior to opening day.

Therefore, Kyle Hudson, a draft excluded player by being added to the 40 man roster in September, must pass through waivers and given his outright release.  Apparently, there is a May 15th deadline as well that I did not know was in effect.  This means that Kyle Hudson will not be an Orioles in 2012.  He will sign with someone else assuming the May 15th date is correct.

What is the specific language?

MLR 6 (e)
DRAFT-EXCLUDED PLAYERS. A player who is excluded from selection in a Rule 5 Selection Meeting because the player was promoted to a Major League Reserve List after August 15 of the championship season preceding the selection meeting and remains on a Major League Reserve List through the conclusion of such selection meeting shall be referred to as a "draft-excluded player." A draft-excluded player shall not be directed to perform for, assigned to, or otherwise transferred to a Minor League Club unless the player first receives a trial with the player's Major League Club lasting until 20 days before the opening day of the following Major League season. See Rule 10(e)(6) (Restrictions on Waiver Requests) for rules concerning when waivers may be requested on a player who would become a draft-excluded player and Rule 10(d)(5)(B) (Consideration for Assignment of Player; Selected or Draft-Excluded Player) for rules concerning the waiver claim price for a draft-excluded player.
Rule 10(e)(6)
Assignment waivers may not be requested on the contract of a player who stands to become a draft-excluded player, as described in Rule 6(e), during the period beginning five days following the last day of the World Series and ending 25 days prior to the opening of the championship season of the year following the year the player became a draft-excluded player. If waivers are obtained, no assignment may be made pursuant to such waivers until 20 days prior to the opening of the championship season of said year.
I do not see anything about May 15th.

16 January 2012

Is Reynolds Going Back to Third the Best Move?

Last week it was announced that Mark Reynolds reprieve from third base has ended and he will return to the position that so flummoxed him in 2011.  It was an awful season.  A season where many of us winced when batted balls suggested they were heading to the hot corner.  Over at Camden Chat, Andrew expressed his negative reaction upon hearing the news.  I would be surprised if he was alone in his frustration.  Me?  I shrugged.  I find myself shrugging a lot lately.  In this post, I would like to go beyond shrugging and try to understand what Reynolds did last year and how that informs us on what should be done with him this year given the current roster.

First, it is good to look at the numbers in a historical context.  In 114 games at third, Reynolds' defense was measured as -18 runs there.  That equals what Bob Aspromonte (1967; 144 games), Todd Zeile (1993; 153 games), David Wright (2009; 142 games), and Danny Valencia (2011; 147 games).  Reynolds accumulated that deficit while playing about 30 fewer games than the players he tied.

As you would expect, those with greater deficits typically played fewer games at the hot corner. Worse seasons were Greg Norton's (1999; -19; 120 games), Jim Presley's (1990; -20; 133 games), Joel Youngblood's (1984; -21; 117 games), Toby Harrah's (1979; -21; 127 games), Fernando Tatis' (1999; -22; 147 games), Edwin Encarnacion's (2007; -22; 137 games), Mark Teahan's (2005; -24; 128 games), Joe Torre's (1971; -25; 161 games), Ty Wigginton's (2003; -28; 155 games), Gary Sheffield's (1993; -31; 133 games), and Ryan Braun's (2007; -35; 112).  Braun's season is of special note because his rate of losing a run every 3.2 games is almost twice as unproductive as Reynolds' rate (6.3 games per lost run).  Keep in mind though that in general, a bad defensive third baseman is one who loses a run every 15 games.  Reynolds certainly was not the historically worst third baseman to log significant time in the field, but he was the worst regular with only Houston's Chris Johnson as his only serious competitor.

So...why push him back to third base after such a dreadful, soul crushing year?  Well, Reynolds wanted to go back to third.  A player's wishes only go so far though, so those wishes had to be in concert with what the organization as a whole wanted to do.  Reynolds' 2007 year may be a bit of a career year in terms of awfulness.  He has typically been a player who would give up about 10 runs over the course of 150 games.  That fits neatly with the one lost run every 15 games level of badness.  His ability to take a walk and to force fresh white baseballs into the pitcher's hand for the subsequent batter has typically more than made up for his glove of stone.  You could suggest that his 2011 year was not indicative of his true talent level and that he will regress upward to being bad at third instead of being somewhat historically bad.  You could also suggest that even though the 27-30 age seasons are a time of offensive peaking that this is about the time where defense begins to deteriorate for many players.

For this post, I decided that it might be good to compare how the roster could fill in with Mark Reynolds at a variety of positions.  For simplicity's sake, I used the Bill James projections (which always feel optimistic, but perform just as well as any of the others) available at Fangraphs.  I projected WAR for each player by using the OBP/SLG projections, scaling them over 600 plate appearances, and predicting defensive capability. 

For Mark Reynolds, I projected him as a 1B, 3B, LF, and DH.  You my remember that in the beginning of the off season that I suggested that the Orioles think about sending Reynolds to left.  That never happened, but I can still dream.  I foresaw him being worth -10 runs at 1B, -15 runs at 3B, and -10 in left field.  His WAR would be 2.3 at 1B, 3.2 at 3B, 2.8 in LF, and 2.6 as DH.  The 2.8 WAR in LF with a -10 run defense still says to me that he should be trotted out there.  He has athleticism.

Other options at first base include Chris Davis (2.8 WAR, -5 runs) and Nolan Reimold (1.5 WAR, -10 runs).  I projected the Robert Andino / Matt Antonelli / Ryan Flaherty combination as worth 1.2 WAR.  Other options at third were the combo at 1.2 WAR and Chris Davis (2.7 WAR, a potentially kind -10 runs).  In left field, Reynolds would have company with Nolan Reimold (2.2 WAR, -5 runs) and Endy Chavez (2.1 WAR, +15 runs).  Finally, DH could also be manned by Chris Davis (2 WAR) or Nolan Reimold (1.8 WAR).

Mark Reynolds at First Base
With Reynolds at 1B and earning 2.3 WAR the following is the best setup according to the projections: 3B Chris Davis (2.7 WAR), LF Endy Chavez (2.1 WAR), and DH Nolan Reimold (1.8 WAR).  8.9 WAR

Mark Reynolds at Third Base
Reynolds is slated for 3.2 WAR at third with 1B Chris Davis (2.8 WAR), LF Endy Chavez (2.1 WAR), and DH Nolan Reimold (1.8 WAR).  9.9 WAR

Mark Reynolds in Left Field
We start with a conservative 2.8 WAR for Reynolds with 1B Chris Davis (2.8 WAR), 3B Combo (1.2 WAR), DH Nolan Reimold (1.8 WAR).  8.6 WAR

Mark Reynolds as Designated Hitter
DH Mark Reynolds (2.6 WAR), 1B Nolan Reimold (1.5 WAR), 3B Chris Davis (2.7 WAR), LF Endy Chavez (2.1 WAR).  8.9 WAR

Conclusion

Based on the above projections, the Orioles placing Reynolds at third base gives them 11% more projected production from the current roster.  Even a best case scenario where Reynolds would provide league average defense in left field would not be more productive than the current set up with him at third base.

Additionally, this little exercise made me aware of something else: Endy Chavez is likely to be a full timer this year in left field.  The only things preventing him from doing so would be Nolan Reimold taking another step forward firming his grip on LF, Jai Miller all of a sudden figuring things out, or an injury.

I am shrugging.

14 January 2012

Orioles sign Yoshihiro Doi to a Minor League Deal

With a hat tip to Camden Chat, I noticed that the Orioles signed 35 year old Yoshihiro Doi to a minor league deal.  You might remember Doi from last year when he worked out for a third of MLB in California and displayed his pitches against a few independent league players.  That did not go very well as he topped off at 86 mph and was hit somewhat hard over the course of 30 or 40 pitches.  The Orioles were present for those workouts, but decided not to offer a contract.  Doi, committed to playing in the United States, proceeded to work solely to meet that goal and did not appear in the JPL in 2011.  Instead, he signed a deal with the Lancaster Barnstormers.  However, visa issues prevented him from playing with the club.  This may have been of a benefit to him as he has suffered from chronic shoulder and wrist issues (as far as I can discern from the information I have).

Doi had spent 2009 and 2010 in the Lions bullpen.  In 2009, it appears he was on the disabled list for three months.  In 2010, he opened his season with 2/3 IP and 5 ER against Chiba Lotte.  He followed that with a 2 ER 1 IP outing against Softbank and then spent three months without throwing a pitch.  He came back in July and his first outing was a 3 ER, 2/3 IP effort against Orix.  Then he went 22 outings with only three earned runs.  Those 22 outings constituted 15 2/3 IP.  It appears obvious that Doi was used as a LOOGY (Lefty One Out GuY) by Seibu.  This contrasts to how he was used in Yokohama from 2004 - 2008 where he appears to be an oft-injured, but relatively average starting pitcher.  Before then, from 1998 - 2003, he was a very effective set up man for Seibu.

Stuff
Using Pitch FX, I have data from 2009 and 2010 on Doi when he pitched for the Seibu Lions.  He is primarily a fastball/slider southpaw.  The fastball comes in at 83 mph and has flashed as high as 88 mph.  His slider is 77 mph and appears useful against left handed batters.  It is really his bread and butter pitch.  When forced to throw against righties, he mixes in an apparently inconsistent 76 mph change and low 80s two seamer.  The two seamer sometimes shows up as a show me pitch with lefties.

MLB Translation
Using the same method I used earlier for Yu Darvish, Tsuyoshi Wada, and Wei-Yin Chen, I predicted Doi performance in the Majors over a 50 IP run:
31 K, 21 BB, 8 HR, 5.21 FIP
That will not do in the Majors.  However, it should be mentioned that Doi's 2008 year was used in the translations and that includes time spent starting for Yokohama being exposed to right handed batters.  This inclusion may actually even out as he is going through what you would expect to be age related decrease in talent as well as not competitively pitching last year.  His numbers look better when adjusted to AAA:
39 K, 17 BB, 6 HR, 4.25 FIP
An he appears to be above average in AA:
49 K, 14 BB, 5 HR, 3.34 FIP

Conclusion
Yoshihiro Doi is unlikely to provide much value to the MLB squad.  He appears more as potential LOOGY depth for the Majors, but more in line to provide closer quality outings in Bowie or handed sensitive outings for Norfolk.

In others words, Doi is filler.  I think he is a good kind of filler.  Filler is needed in every organization.  The primary purpose of it is to enable higher probability prospects to put in at bats and innings to get better.  For instance, your young shortstop prospect needs to someone to catch the ball when he throws to first base.  In that simple way of looking at things, that is what filler is good for.  Once that level is met, there are other considerations for filler.  You want a player who wants to be there and will work hard to be there.  Doi fits that model.  He has worked very hard at coming over to the United States and has supposedly stated that if his American tenure is relegated to the minors then so be it.  He will work hard to get to the majors, but will be happy and content competing in the minors.  You really do not want any malcontents if their use is primarily as filler.

Additionally, you want a player who fits in with an organizational goal.  For Doi, he is part of the international expansion of the Orioles organization.  Doi may specifically not be particularly promising, but the trials and tribulations he faces acclimating to the Orioles' system and to the United States in general informs the Orioles how to make the system better to help future signings.  Having a personal trainer at the MLB level is fine because there is more money to throw around.  However, minor league players do not have that luxury.  The Orioles will need to understand how to best help international prospects succeed.

Perhaps with an eye even further on the horizon, Doi appears to be someone who is dedicated to baseball.  He is a 35 year old who has suffered multiple injuries and is trying to prolong his career in the United States.  I do not know his interests, but Doi may be someone who could be indoctrinated into the Orioles system and eventually be converted into someone who could help scouting lower level players in Japan, Korea, etc.  This is a very peripheral objective, but I do think the more the Orioles embrace all levels of foreign players that they will be more comfortable in effectively utilizing foreign talent.

Simply put, Doi is an important signing because it shows investment in foreign-sourced players.

10 January 2012

Jorge Posada, Wally Schang, Jason Varitek, and Chris Hoiles

With Jorge Posada retiring, I wondered how his numbers stack up against the all-time greats.  The easiest and perhaps most effective way to do this is simply to look at the career WAR of a player. 

Every catcher who has been eligible for the Hall of Fame and has a higher WAR than Posada has made it.  Those above him fall into three basic tiers.  You have the best catchers ever according to WAR (66.3-71.3; Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk, Gary Carter, and a not yet eligible Ivan Rodriguez).  The second tier includes one player (Yogi Berra) at 61.3, but will soon include Mike Piazza at 59.1.  The third tier (50.3-54.4) has three players: Bill Dickey, Mickey Cochrane, and Gabby Harnett.  All of these players have been or will be awarded with a place in the Hall.

What is interesting to me though is that Posada comes next at 44.9 during his 17 years playing and is basically equal to the following players: Wally Schang (43.8 during 19 years), Thurmon Munson (43.4 during 11 years), and Bill Freehan (43.3 during 16 years).  All four of these players share one thing in common: none are in the Hall of Fame.  The BBWA elected Roy Campanella in with a 36.2 WAR and the Veteran's committee voted in Ernie Lombardi (39.0), Rick Ferrell (22.9), and Ray Schalk (22.6).  Lombardi fits on the list right at 16th below Joe Mauer and Darrell Porter.  Campanella comes in at 18th right after Jason Kendell. Ferrell is 36th right behind Jason Varitek and Schalk is 41st right behind Ramon Hernandez.

This leaves a question as to whether or not Jorge Posada deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.  If he enters, he certainly will be a lower tier HOFer.  The players after him appear to be all questionable.  Why?  The three Posada is basically tied to have not been admitted.  There has been a bit of discussion about Munson, but I have never heard anyone make the effort for Wally Schang.  For me the sizable difference between the third tier run at 50.3 and Posada at 44.9 appears great enough to make that a line in the sand.  The Hall of Fame is full of arbitrary considerations though and I typically do not care one way or another what happens.  However, we can certainly say Posada was not one of the greatest catchers ever and I doubt anyone was claiming that anyway.

---

As mentioned earlier, Jason Varitek comes in as the 35th ranked catcher with a 23.0 WAR over 15 years.  At 34th with 23.4 WAR over 10 years is Oriole Chris Hoiles.  I have always thought of Varitek as a very good catcher and Hoiles as a notch below.  It appears that I underestimated Hoiles as he put together as valuable numbers as Varitek with 5 less years to play.  That is pretty exceptional.  Without his career ending injury, his bat (never failing) would have put him in Posada territory.  Yes, there are many assumptions here.  However, I think if he was able to catcher 20% more games during his established career his number would be around 28 WAR.  His bat was good enough to pass by at first base on those awful turn of the century Os teams, so maybe he is able to play another six years with a 2 WAR average.  That would put him in at 40 WAR.  My point simply is that outside of the injury, Hoiles was actually heading toward performance on a Posada like level and by that I mean Hoiles was a good catcher and Posada was a good catcher with health.  Neither were exceptional, but both should be remembered.

09 January 2012

Adam Jones' Potential

Well, this site is becoming Adam Jones Depot.  This past week Dave Cameron wrote an article on Adam Jones titled "Adam Jones, Unfinished."  The timing is right with such an article because there is a great deal of disagreement out there on Jones' current and future worth.  At the Depot, we tend to think of Jones as a promising left fielder while many professional view him as a promising center fielder.  I think that distinction is worth about 3-5 MM each season.  To me that means the Jair Jurrjens and Martin Prado deal is about a lower top 100 prospect away from being an even deal or two lower top 100 prospects if you think Jones really is a center fielder.  However, there has been a great deal of backlash from the Braves followers that Jones is not Prado's equal, which seems to be a bit of hyperbole.  Many who follow the Depot appear to be fine with a Jones for Jurrjens deal, which I think is also problematic.

Cameron's article tried to suss out part of Jones' value: his potential.  This was done by making a:
a list of all player seasons from the last 10 years where the hitter was 25 or younger, swung at 50% or more of the pitches they were thrown, and posted an ISO of at least .150 (to eliminate the middle infielders and catchers who are simply in the sport for their glovework). This group is essentially a collection of athletic players who got to the show based on their physical skills, but showed a significant lack of polish early in their career.
This produced 24 players who are rather interesting with respect to their future performance.  So 14 of the 24 players listed are useful regulars or better.  Nine star level players are in the group, including Matt Kemp and Adrian Beltre.  Five good players come in the next tier, which includes Hunter Pence.  Nick Faleris has actually compared the Pence deal to what the Orioles should expect for Jones if he is dealt to a team who sees him as a center fielder.  The tradeoff being Pence's average for Jones' center field.  That trade involved Pence and cash to the Phillies for Jonathan Singleton (top 25/50 1B prospect), Jared Cosart (top 100 pitching prospect), Domingo Santana (raw power OF), and Josh Zeid (maybe middle reliever).  That deal is similar to what has been mentioned on the Depot as a potential trade framework of a top 25, 50, and 100 prospects for Jones.  I would say that Jones currently skirts the role player/good player level.  With respect to the Braves package, I would call both Jurrjens and Prado are role players.

I do find Cameron's method a bit crude, but it is a useful exercise.  The idea is to look over the entire cloud of possibilities and recognize that the tools Adam Jones flashes are tools that may take time to package together.  Torii Hunter didn't learn how to take a walk until he was 27.  Dale Murphy doubled his walk rate at age 26.  This made me wonder what exactly is a decent projection for Adam Jones over the next three years (his two years of arbitration and one free agent year, which would be a good idea for an extension).

I used selected all players from 1961 to 2008 who by the end of the age 25 year had at least 1500 plate appearances, an on base percentage less than .330, an isolated slugging greater than .140, a batting average greater than .260, and an OPS+ less than 110.  This results in the following list of players: Tony Horton, Rich Gedman, Tim Wallach, Dale Murphy, Larry Parrish, Lance Parrish, George Hendrick, Rocco Baldelli, Cliff Floyd, Juan Samuel, Carlos Lee, J.J. Hardy, Stephen Drew, Juan Encarnacion, Zoilo Versalles, Aramis Ramirez, and Juan Uribe.  Due to the special circumstances surrounding Horton's and Baldelli's health, I removed them from the list as an outlier.  Adam Jones, according to batting runs, would rank 10th out of 17 on this list.  Batting runs does not consider position, so it is a good representation of the worth of a bat outside of any context.  Jones, of course, would be worth more when his bat is combined with a glove that can cover center field.  Using rWAR, Jones is the second highest rated player in this group.

What I am interested in for each player is how his batting average, walk rate, strikeout rate, and isolated power changed from his 25 and under years to his 26-28 years.  Those differences may then be able to inform us as to what we could expect from Adam Jones.  The follow are how certain metrics change from those two data sets for each individual in those data sets:
On Base Percentage = 4.7 +/- 10.8 %
Isolated Power = 6.9 +/- 24.2 %
Batting Average = 1.1 +/- 10.9 %
Walk Rate = 26.5 +/- 26.9 %
Strikeout Rate = -0.7 +/- 19.3 %
What is interesting is that as a group, there was basically improvement across the board.  This included marginal improvements for on base percentage and isolated power, but also a substantial improvement in walk rate.  Adam Jones is likely to improve and is pretty much certain not to walk any less.  It also is informative that although walk rate improve drastically, it does not greatly improve on base percentage.  This illustrates how poorly this group earns walks during their under 26 years.

What do the future Adam Jones' lines look like?  The following are three lines.  The first line is if Jones meets the 85th percentile for each metric, the second is if he hits the 50th percentile for each, and the final is if he hits the 15th percentile for each.  I am unsure how linked the metrics are, so obviously these lines do not mean Jones has a 15% chance to be great or a 15% chance to be unplayable.  The range of performance is likely to be far narrower around the 50th percentile line here.

85th: 308/369/520; 18 WAR; ~80MM
50th: 278/334/451; 11 WAR; ~50MM
15th: 248/300/382; 4.5 WAR; ~21MM
As you can see, Jones profiles as a solid center fielder over the next three years and that has a lot of worth.  The key to Jones becoming a superstar involves one of two paths.  The Aramis Ramirez path is thought of as the more likely one and that is to experience a massive improvement in making not only contact, but meaningful contact with the baseball.  He increased his batting average by 17% with a 50% increase in his ISO, decreased his strikeouts by 36%, and also manage to eek up his meager walk rate by 31%.  The second path is the Dale Murphy path, which is to drastically improve your walk rate (47%). Carlos Lee actually managed to up his 71%.  To boil it down, Jones needs to see a significant increase in making meaningful contact and either increase contact in general or improve his ability to earn walks.  The paths are not common, but certainly are not rare.  At worst, Jones is someone over the next three years is a marginal all star.

Now, if you are the Orioles and thinking of an extension, then you would likely look to offer something in the neighborhood of a three years for 40MM deal or a four years for 55MM.  That would cover two years of arbitration and one or two of free agency. 
If you are the Orioles looking to trade Jones...then you are certainly asking for more than Jurrjens and Prado.

A final note: this of course is a statistical exercise using an informed selection process to predict performance and should be treated as such.

03 January 2012

Trading Adam Jones: AL East Edition

The post will focus on a baseline that was suggested by a scout.  So, yes, the opinion of a single professional is how we will value Jones' worth here.  What is that worth?  It was posited that Adam Jones would be worth a top 25 player, a top 50 player, and a top 100 player.  In other words, I would translate this as meaning a A-, B+ and B level player.  One final way of looking at it, a 60, a 56, and a 52.  That means that some in this business think very highly of Adam Jones.  We at the Depot have not thought as highly of Jones in the past, but what matters is who values him the most.

This fourth part will focus on packages from AL East teams.

Boston Red Sox
Xander Bogaerts, 3B
Sean Coyle, 2B
Anthony Renaudo, RHP

Jacoby Ellsbury.  Next.

New York Yankees
Dellin Betances, RHP
Mason Williams, CF
Manuel Banuelos, LHP

Curtis Granderson.  Next.

Tampa Bay Rays
Alex Torres, LHP
Chris Archer, RHP
Drew Vettleson, RF

I find it doubtful that the Rays would deal out one high priced center fielder (B.J. Upton) and plug in another high priced center fielder.

Toronto Blue Jays
Jake Marisnick, CF
Aaron Sanchez, RHP
Justin Nicolino, LHP

Marisnick is one of my favorite prospects.  During our 2009 shadow draft, I pestered Nick to select him probably more than deserved.  Everything he does is above average.  His contact, his power, his speed, his defense, and his arm.  No tool stands out as plus to me, but the package is an excellent prospect and one who could roam center for the Orioles in 2014.  The Blue Jays tinkered with Sanchez and worked on his control.  He has room for growth and works steady in the low 90s with a curve ball that flashes plus.  He is several years out, but looks like a 2 slot pitcher.  Nicolino is another prospect who is several years out, but he shows a fringe plus fastball and a fringe plus change up.  He projects to be a middle rotation pitcher.

Conclusion

None of these deals are good enough and three of the potential trade partners would likely have no interest in Jones.  Toronto has a large number of interesting pieces, but very few of them are show ready.  I could see a Travis Snider being added to the above deal to provide some 'now' value.  Going through the teams so far, I still think the Braves and maybe the Giants match up the best.

29 December 2011

Trading Adam Jones: NL West Edition

The post will focus on a baseline that was suggested by a scout.  So, yes, the opinion of a single professional is how we will value Jones' worth here.  What is that worth?  It was posited that Adam Jones would be worth a top 25 player, a top 50 player, and a top 100 player.  In other words, I would translate this as meaning a A-, B+ and B level player.  One final way of looking at it, a 60, a 56, and a 52.  That means that some in this business think very highly of Adam Jones.  We at the Depot have not thought as highly of Jones in the past, but what matters is who values him the most.

This third part will focus on packages from NL West teams.

Arizona Diamondbacks
Tyler Skaggs, RHP
Matt Davidson, 1B/3B
A.J. Pollock, LF

The is likely just a simple exercise.  Chris Young mans center for the Diamondbacks.  He is, of course, a good center fielder.  Backing him up now is Gerrard Parra, who should be a starting centerfielder on a first division club or a starting left fielder on a second division club.  Adam Jones is just not a player of need for them.

Colorado Rockies
Drew Pomeranz, LHP
Dexter Fowler, CF
Kent Mathes, LF

Dexter Fowler is the Rockies' starting CF.  His defense is less than impressive and Jones might be an upgrade.  Jones' offensive production is also slightly greater than what Fowler is capable of.  This package delivers a top notch pitcher, a replacement in center field with some potential upside, and a left fielder who has a slight chance to turn into something special.  Pomeranz was acquired from the Indians and has a 2 slot ceiling.  He throws in the low 90s with a plus curveball.  He spent some time in the Majors last year, but could be served with some time in AAA.  However, he may be one of those lefties whose stuff is so good and polished that the Minors are just not enough to challenge him to get better.  This is similar to the issue with Matusz as he can take care of AAA hitters, but has troubles at the Major League level.  Fowler has three years of control left and profiles as Adam Jones light.  He does not have the raw power Jones has, but is able to use his speed on the base paths to work extra base hits.  Kent Mathes is a prospect who has had to deal with reworking his swing and staying healthy over the past few years.  He comes into AA as a 25 yo.  There is a good upside there.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Nate Eovaldi, RHP
Allen Webster, RHP
Garrett Gould, RHP

Matt Kemp.  No Benjamins.

San Diego Padres
Anthony Rizzo, 1B
Jedd Gyorko, 3B
Casey Kelly, RHP

They like Cameron Maybin and also have a money issue.

San Francisco Giants
Gary Brown, CF
Tommy Joseph, C
Ehire Adrianza, SS

The Giants need someone like Jones badly.  He could vastly improve their outfield.  However, Brian Sabean has proven reluctant to deal what remains of his elite prospects, Gary Brown.  Brown is a couple years off, but profiles as an average to above average center fielder with a solid offensive profile.  The Giants appear to be so enamored with Brown that they may not see the need to get the 'now' value Jones would provide and instead opt for putting Brown in the fast lane to the Majors.  It may be that the Giants are more comfortable dealing out Brandon Belt than Gary Brown.  Joseph has a plus plus power, but is a bit too aggressive at the plate.  The Giants have Posey and Susac in the system behind the plate and Belt at first, so Joseph may not be as highly valued.  If Belt was dealt then Francisco Peguera would replace Joseph here.  Adrianza would provide a plus defensive option at short stop for the Orioles.  His bat is iffy, but he could be useful if Machado has to shift to third.

Conclusion

This is the division of center fielders.  The Diamondbacks, Dodgers, and Padres are set up the middle for a while.  The Rockies could improve themselves, but have slightly less production at about half the price in Dexter Fowler.  The Giants would be the team to improve the most from dealing for Adam Jones, but the question comes down to whether or not they would be willing to deal Gary Brown or Brandon Belt.  However, doing so would largely remove young cheap talent from their 40 man roster.  In the past, Sabean has not been afraid to go after the "proven" veteran instead of holding on to the prospect.  In light of that, they are probably the only team that might be interested in dealing for Jones in this division and that interest may not be incredibly high as the Giants might believe that Gary Brown could be big league ready soon.

28 December 2011

Expanded Roster: Was Earl Weaver correct about the 3 Run HR?


Sometimes, Camden Depot expands the rosters beyond Nick Faleris and Jon Shepherd.  This enables our audience to speak directly outside of the comment box as well as shine a light on other Orioles writers.  This article is from Danny Black.

Was Earl Weaver correct about the 3 Run HR? 
By Danny Black

Note: This piece was completed before the release of Mike Fast’s Baseball Prospectus article “Spinning Yarn” which examines the hit and run.

Earl Weaver often talked about his preference for the 3 run home run. In his book “Weaver on Strategy”, Chapter Two is titled “The Offense, Praised Be the Three-Run Homer!” Weaver talks about his approach to offense, hitting, and his love of 3R Homers. The question I wanted to examine is weather or not there is a correlation between 3R Homers and wins. The Orioles have not won more than 69 games over the last 5 years. I have chosen this time period to look at the success (or lack thereof) of the 3R HR.

The following list shows the total number of 3R HR hit by The Orioles and their ML rank:

Year            3R HR HIT          ML RK          WINS
2007                  21                     12t                  69
2008                  17                     15t                  68
2009                  19                     10t                  64
2010                    9                     29t                  66
2011                  21                       9                   69

On its surface it would appear that there is no direct correlation to 3R HR totals and total wins. The Orioles went from 29th in the Majors in 3R HRs in 2010 to 9th in the majors in 3R HRs in 2011 but only won 3 additional games. Also, in 2008 The Orioles went from middle of the league to 2009 when they were in the top 10 in 3R HRs. The result was 4 fewer wins with the additional HRs. So is it time to cancel the bronze statue for Earl? Not necessarily. If hitting 3R HRs is good, giving them up must be bad, right Earl?

Below is the same chart as above but showing 3R HR allowed:

Year    3R HR ALLOWED      ML RK       WINS
2007               23                          9t                69
2008               25                          2                 68
2009               26                          2T               64
2010               31                          1                 66
2011               27                          2                 69

Finally a category The Orioles are in the top of the league: 3R HR allowed! This chart is fascinating. Consistently in the top 10 in HR against, there is a correlation between those numbers and Orioles wins. Over the 5 year period of 2007-2011 The Orioles have a net of -47 in 3R HRs while never once hitting more than they allowed. For comparison, The Yankees have a net of +29 and The Red Sox have a net of +28 over the same time frame.

Is Earl vindicated? Maybe. Clearly hitting 3R HRs alone does not guarantee success, but avoiding them avoiding them certainly helps.