28 February 2012

Eyes on Spring Training: 2B, Andino and Antonelli

Eddie Stanky
With Brian Roberts out for most of 2011, Robert Andino was unexpectedly elevated from the utility infielder spot to take an everyday line-up spot (mostly at second, though he filled in at third and short on occasion). Overall, he was adequate if unspectacular, posting a 1.8 fWAR season while upping his walk rate to 8%. Coming into 2012 it seems like Andino would be the default option at second, but with Matt Antonelli being signed to a major league contract, it's possible that that isn't the case.

I certainly like the on-base skills Antonelli showed at the minor league level, but to expect him to get his first real extended amount of playing time in the majors for the first time at age 27 and out-produce Andino seems... doubtful. Here is the whole list of second and third base-man to get 300 plate appearances in their first season at ages 27-28 who beat Andino's 2.0 rWAR from last season:
Ron Theobald (1971), 452 PA, 2.4 rWAR
Spider Jorgensen (1947), 506 PA, 2.4 rWAR
Coco Laboy (1969), 616 PA, 2.3 rWAR
Akinori Iwamura (2007), 559 PA, 2.2 rWAR
Eddie Stanky (1943), 616 PA, 2.2 rWAR
That's it - five guys. And one could argue that Iwamura shouldn't count, given his time in Japan. It's certainly possible that Andino won't repeat his 2011, but it seems more likely that he'll do so than that Antonelli is good enough to do what very few other players in baseball history have been able to.

In his time at Triple-A, Antonelli hit .237/.347/.369. That doesn't inspire a great deal of confidence, though part of that was a low BABIP (~.275). Maybe that will carry forward, but in any case, he'll need to continue taking walks (13% rate at Triple-A) to produce enough with the bat to make up for what sounds like a below average glove. How many of those older first-year infielders posted even a 10% walk rate? Six:
Eddie Stanky (1943) - 14.9%
Spider Jorgensen (1947) - 11.4%
Ike Rockenfield (1905) - 11.4%
Al Rubeling (1940) - 11.2%
Spook Jacobs (1954) - 10.4%
Akinori Iwamura (2007) - 10.4%
The thing is, though, these types of player don't tend to get chances at all. There are only 23 second/third-basemen who had their first season at ages 27-28 and got any significant playing-time (because players who are good enough to start in the majors are usually good enough to show up earlier). Just getting 300+ plate appearances would be something for Antonelli - if he does, it's probably a clue that he's playing pretty well (or there have been some injuries).

It's good that the Orioles were willing to take a chance on a potentially undervalued player. Relying on him to reach his ceiling as part of Plan A would be slightly less good. We'll see how it plays out.

27 February 2012

Arrivals and Departures: February 27, 2012

Sorry, this has been overdue for a while.  Here is an update of the Orioles' 40 man roster and options.
  • January 24, 2012 - Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom were added to the team when they came over from the Colorado Rockies for Jeremy Guthrie.  Clay Rapada was DFA'd.  He later signed a minor league deal with the Yankees.  Neither Hammel or Lindstrom have options for use.
  • February 6, 2012 - Wilson Betemit was signed and Rick VandenHurk was designated for release.  VandenHurk is now a Blue Jay on a minor league split deal.  Options cannot be used for Betemit.
  • February 10, 2012 - Luis Ayala was signed on a 1+1 deal.  He has no available options.  Matt Angle was DFA'd, passed by every AL team, and was claimed by the LA Dodgers.

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.

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.
Ayala, Luis
Options Remaining: 0/3
Reason: Ayala's last option was used in 2009.

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.

Betemit, Wilson
Options Remaining: 0/3
Reason: Betemit long ago had his options exhausted.

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.

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.

Hammel, Jason
Options Remaining: 0/3
Reason: Last option used with Tampa.

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.

Lindstrom, Matt
Options Remaining: 0/3
Reason: Houston used Lindstrom's last option.

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.

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: 0/3
Reason: Last options used on 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.

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:

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, L. Ayala, B. Bergesen, E. Chavez, W. Chen, C. Davis, D. Eveland, K. Gregg, J. Hammel, R. Flaherty, J. Hardy, T. Hunter, J. Johnson, M. Lindstrom, N. Markakis, J. Miller, T. Patton, N. Reimold, M. Reynolds, B. Roberts, A. Simon, T. Teagarden, T. Wada

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

23 February 2012

With Braun, MLB and Media Make Mistakes

Ryan Braun won his appeal on a 2-1 vote.  The only vote going against him was made by MLB.  MLBPA and the important one, the arbiter, ruled for the appeal.  It has been explained that the appeal was based on an improper chain of custody.

Yahoo Sports Writer Jeff Passan tweeted that Braun escaped due to using a loophole.  This is lazy reporting and should really be an embarrassment.  A loop hole is an ambiguity in the rule of law that can be exploited to avoid the intent of that law.  In no way could this be considered a loophole.  Braun was in no way responsible for the broken chain of custody.  In order for a loophole argument to be made, Braun would have held some responsibility.  Passan decided to go further and second a statement that Braun won on a technicality as if there was no reason why a chain of custody exists.

Second, his tweet acts like a chain of custody is not important.  I think it is rather safe to say that if a piece of evidence could effectively damage someone's reputation and affect his future earning potential on the field and through sponsorships off the field, the integrity of that biological sample is quite important.  A chain of custody is a guarantee of the identity and integrity of the sample.  This means that not only was the sample not tampered with, but that the sample is handled in a way that would not affect the protocols for testing the sample.

I typically like the work Passan does, but I find his disregard for the scientific integrity of a sample to be rather distasteful.

There are reasons why these rules exist.

The real story here is why was MLB so hell bent to use bad evidence to go after Ryan Braun in what was surely to be a rather public case.

22 February 2012

Predicting WAR from FIP and IP

This is more or less a somewhat uninteresting way to determine fWAR in a messy shorthand way.  I ran a regression with FIP and IP as my variables and WAR as the y.  For those who do not often pay attention here, the following definition might be useful:
FIP - Fielding Independent Pitching is a metric that tries to isolate aspects of a stat sheet that the pitcher directly affects. It is calculated using this formula:

        FIP = coefficient + (HR*13 + (BB + HBP - IBB)*3 - K*2) / IP.
The objective of this post is merely to show how FIP and IP relate to fWAR.  I will be using this messy number from time to time over the next couple weeks.  It is also important to recognize that the numbers are league dependent, so an AL and NL equation is needed.

Again...this is just a fast an easy way for me to generate rough fWARs.  You should use the real thing.

21 February 2012

Scouting the 2012 Draft: Ryan Ripken

We begin our 2012 Draft coverage with a name with which all Orioles fans will be familiar. Ryan Ripken, son of Cal, is a senior first baseman at Gilman Academy and is elgible for the MLB Rule 4 Draft this June. Ryan is committed to the University of South Carolina, should he choose to forgo pro ball this summer.

Ryan Ripken / 1b / Gilman Academy (Baltimore, Md.)
Ht/Wt: 6-5/190
B/T: L/L
Age at Draft: 18y11m
College Commit: Univ. of South Carolina
Views: 4 (in person); 2 (video)

Grading Out
Now (Future)
Hit: 20 (40/45)
Power: 20 (50/55)
Speed: 25 (30)
Arm: 40 (50)
Defense: 30 (50/55)

*Description of 20/80 scout scale: The Scouting Scale works from 20-80, with 50 being Major League Average. The scale operates loosely on a bell curve, so the further you move from 50 the fewer grades you'll find among ML players (e.g. Justin Verlander's fastball, Mike Trout's speed, Mark Reynold's power, and Albert Pujols' hit tool would all be 80 grade). A 60 grade is sometimes referred to as plus and a 70 grade is sometimes referred to as plus-plus.

Physical Description
Ripken is a long and projectable athlete that should add a significant amount of strength over the next few years. He can struggle with body control, which is expected of a big-bodied high schooler in the midst of a heavy growth period. Despite some clunkiness in actions, he is clearly a solid athlete and shows excellent flexibility. A below average runner, he should pick-up his first step as his coordination and strength round out.

Ripken provides a large target for his infielders, reads throws well, and makes good use of his reach and flexibility. His range is fringy right now, but should improve as he matures and improves his first step. His hands are better than he will sometimes show. He could easily develop into an above-average glove at the three-spot. His arm strength is solid.

At Bat
Ripken has the offensive aptitude that you would expect of the son of a Hall of Famer. He has a good feel for the strikezone and a more advanced approach than many of his contemporaries. Ripken often does a solid job identifying secondaries and is generally ahead of the curve at picking-up pitcher patterns. His physicality, however, is currently lagging behind his mental approach. While Ripken delivers the barrel fairly well, he lacks the "now" strength to drive the ball. He struggles against better velocity -- particularly up in the zone -- and lacks the bat speed to compensate for late starts when he is looking off-speed. There is some ceiling here, including potential for a solid hit tool and above-average pop, but he is still a ways away from realizing that potential.

Ripken is currently best suited for college ball, where he'll have an opportunity to continue to refine his game while he finishes growing into his frame. Coach Tanner and the USC staff work well with young hitters, and it is easy to picture a scenario where two years under their tutelage (Ripken will be draft eligible again as a sophomore, due to his age) could result in his reemergence as an early-round prospect in 2014. Ripken has the make-up, bloodlines, and smarts to succeed as a pro -- he just needs his body to catch-up with the rest of him. Area scouts will check-in on him throughout the summer to gauge his physical progress, his bat speed and the development of his power. Barring a jump in physicality over the next three months, the new collective bargaining agreement (which limits teams' ability to give mid-six figure bonuses outside of the first few rounds) will likely make Ripken's decision as to whether to enroll at USC an easy one.


20 February 2012

Orioles Will Be Forced to Spend Less on Draft than They Did '08-'11

Baseball America released their projected bonus caps for the 2012 draft.  You will notice that the Orioles have the 11th greatest allotment even though they were the 4th worst team last year.  You will also see that the allotments given to twelve teams, including the Orioles, will be the lowest they have spent on the draft when looking at the past four years.  This includes the Rays who are one of the poorest teams in the league, least capable in competing for free agents, and they have the fourth least amount of money to spend in the amateur draft.  Um, progress?

Team  2012 2011 2010  2009  2008 
Nationals  $4,436,200 $15,002,100 $11,927,200 $11,511,500 $4,761,500
Pirates  $6,563,500 $17,005,700 $11,900,400 $8,918,900 $9,780,500
Blue Jays  $8,830,800 $10,996,500 $11,594,400 $4,895,200 $4,359,500
Red Sox  $6,884,800 $10,978,700 $10,664,400 $7,095,400 $10,515,000
Indians  $4,582,900 $8,225,000 $9,381,500 $4,943,000 $6,984,500
Orioles  $6,826,900 $8,432,100 $9,159,900 $8,730,200 $6,916,500
Rangers  $6,568,200 $4,193,000 $8,487,800 $4,684,200 $7,388,300
Angels  $1,645,700 $3,318,100 $8,095,300 $6,792,900 $2,728,500
Dodgers  $5,202,800 $3,509,300 $7,992,900 $4,037,100 $4,442,500
Tigers  $2,099,300 $2,878,700 $7,301,400 $9,395,100 $3,742,000
Astros  $11,177,700 $5,545,800 $7,275,530 $4,212,800 $6,544,500
Rays  $3,871,000 $11,482,900 $7,150,800 $4,004,500 $9,921,000
Royals  $6,101,500 $14,066,000 $6,697,000 $6,657,000 $11,148,000
Cardinals  $9,131,100 $4,554,000 $6,692,200 $5,388,500 $5,542,000
Yankees  $4,192,200 $6,324,500 $6,652,500 $7,564,500 $5,122,000
Reds  $6,653,800 $6,378,900 $5,739,300 $5,855,400 $4,801,000
Athletics  $8,469,500 $3,067,300 $5,022,400 $6,439,400 $6,522,000
Mariners  $8,223,400 $11,330,500 $4,942,500 $10,945,600 $4,295,000
Rockies  $6,628,300 $3,967,900 $4,785,700 $7,924,300 $4,157,000
Cubs  $7,933,900 $11,994,550 $4,727,100 $4,044,200 $5,545,000
Mets  $7,151,400 $6,782,500 $4,721,200 $3,134,300 $6,460,000
Diamondbacks  $3,818,300 $11,930,000 $4,399,300 $9,328,200 $4,493,500
Marlins  $4,935,100 $4,135,000 $4,380,500 $4,142,800 $5,377,000
Padres  $9,903,100 $11,020,600 $4,262,000 $9,139,000 $5,449,000
Giants  $4,076,400 $6,266,000 $4,102,900 $6,289,000 $9,080,000
White Sox  $5,915,100 $2,786,300 $3,930,200 $4,178,600 $4,663,500
Phillies  $4,916,900 $4,689,800 $3,927,900 $3,229,500 $6,740,500
Braves  $4,030,800 $3,735,700 $3,925,100 $4,400,500 $5,091,500
Twins  $12,368,200 $5,902,300 $3,511,300 $4,694,100 $7,330,498
Brewers  $6,764,700 $7,509,300 $2,432,200 $6,759,500 $8,395,800
Total  $189,903,500 $228,009,050 $195,782,830 $189,335,200 $188,297,598
Average  $6,330,117 $7,600,302 $6,526,094 $6,311,173 $6,276,587
It may well be that the 189.9MM draft pool does not hit that number.  Several teams have relatively high cap values in comparison to what they normally spend.  It will be interesting to see if there is pressure to get near their cap value.

If you are more of a graph person: