Monthly Archives: December 2013

Burke Badenhop …

After reading yesterday’s post on Edward Mujica, Marc pointed out that I missed the Burke Badenhop signing.

On November 22, the Red Sox traded LHP pitching prospect Luis Ortega to the Brewers for Badenhop. Badenhop was drafted by the Tigers in the 19th round of the 2005 amateur draft. Since then he’s been traded, including this most recent trade, four times. He was a part of the Miguel Cabrera deal in 2007, then in 2011 he was traded to the Rays for Jake Jeffries, and in 2012 he was moved to the Brewers for Raul Mondesi, Jr. He will be reunited with his former Tiger teammate and trade partner Andrew Miller, also a part of the Miguel Cabrera deal.

As an aside here (and a pretty lengthy one at that … we’ll get back to Badenhop in a moment), you have to wonder about how some teams go about developing pitchers. Andrew Miller is a prime example. He was drafted by the Tigers with the 6th overall pick in the 2006 amateur draft out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. That same year Daniel Bard was drafted by the Red Sox in the first round. Oddly, Bard started off well and then lost his control, while Miller started off poorly with bad control and has now seemed to have found himself.

Miller was quite the college star. He set numerous UNC records, received the Baseball America National Player of the Year award after a fine junior season when he was also awarded the Roger Clemens pitcher of the year award beating out Eddie Degerman, Tim Lincecum and Brad Lincoln. His junior year Miller threw 123 innings, gave up 100 hits, walked 40 and struck out 133. I’m sure many major league teams hoped the Clemens parallel might hold true.

He was drafted by the Tigers (one pick ahead of Clayton Kershaw and four picks ahead of Tim Lincecum – imagine a Tiger rotation of Kershaw, Verlander and Scherzer!) and signed on August 8, 2006. He was sent to the Tigers high A minor league Lakeland team where he made three appearances, tossing five scoreless frames. He made his major league debut on August 30, 2006 at the age of 21. He appeared in 8 games, tossing 10 1/3 innings in which he gave up 8 hits, 10 walks and allowed 7 earned runs. In essence, he wasn’t ready for major league caliber hitters. At the start of the 2007 season he was ranked the #10 prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America. The Tigers sent him back to Lakeland to start the 2007 season. He moved rapidly through the system, from high A to AAA, making 13 minor league starts amassing 78 innings with 2.77 ERA and striking out 61 batters before a major league recall where he made 13 more starts for the Tigers going 5-5 with a 5.63 ERA. In 64 IP he gave up 73 hits, walked 39 and struck out 56. It seemed that he still had a lot of work to do.

Then, he was traded to the Marlins, who over the next three years bounced him back and forth between the minors and majors. With each passing year, his major league participation dwindled from 107 IP in 2008 to 80 IP in 2009 and then 32 IP in 2010. He was given scant minor league development time by the Marlins. In 2008 he tossed 19 innings between rookie and AA ball, in 2009, 28 IP between rookie and AAA ball, and then finally in 2010 he got a bit more time in minors throwing 101 innings between high A and AA. Really, the development scheme here was non-sensical and surely a detriment to Miller.

Finally, the Marlins, in part due to the fact that Miller had been bounced back and forth between the minors and majors and was out of options as well as the fact that he was probably due a raise from his $1.79 million salary, shipped him off to Boston after the 2010 season for Dustin Richardson. In 2011, the Sox started Miller at AAA Pawtucket. There he made 12 starts, went 65 IP, had a WHIP of 1.173 and struck out 61. One had to wonder if the Sox had helped Miller discover how to control his stuff. He was called up to the big club and promptly returned to his old erratic ways. He started 12 games, threw another 65 innings, but this time with a WHIP of 1.81 and an ERA of 5.54.  There was still more minor league work to be done.

There was a problem though. Normally Miller would have to clear waivers since he was out of options. How would the Sox send him back to the minors without losing him? The thinking was that there were still many teams who would take a chance on Miller. Ah, the wily Red Sox had the year before hatched a plan and, to Miller’s credit, he agreed to it.

The Sox non-tendered Miller just after getting him in the 2010 trade from the Marlins. Miller and his agent then examined his options – some of which included teams that would give him a major league contract. In the end, after much deliberation (hat tip to Alex Speier for his excellent article on Miller back in 2011), Miller decided that he needed more development and agreed to a minor league deal with the Sox. In order to avoid losing Miller if he had to head back to the minors, the Sox and Miller came up with a plan. In their deal with the Miller, the Sox included a clause where a $3 million dollar option for 2012 automatically kicked in if he were claimed on waivers by another team. A poison pill clause … too painful to swallow for most teams.

So, in 2012 the Sox put Miller on waivers in order to send him back to the minors. Just as planned, he went unclaimed. Miller headed to single A Greenville. He only pitched 2 innings there before going to AAA Pawtucket. At Pawtucket it was a short 11 inning stay before he was recalled to take Aaron Cook’s spot on the roster. While at Pawtucket, he was nothing but erratic, walking 14 and striking out 23.

Miller managed though to stick with the Sox for the rest of the year, throwing 40 innings of 1.19 WHIP ball with a 3.35 ERA. His 2013 was going along pretty well before he hurt his foot. He appeared in 37 games, often in the early part of the season as a lefty situational guy. Of his first nine appearances, on four occasions he faced only one batter. As the season wore on, though, Farrell grew to trust him more and his role increased. Before he got hurt, his outings were more often of the four to six out variety. In his 30 innings of 2013, Miller had an ERA of 2.64 and WHIP of 1.37 with 48 Ks. While still not totally perfect, his walk rate of 5 per 9 is troubling, things are looking up for Miller and the Sox. Miller turns 30 this year. It’s been a long road, but I’m sure he’d rather have his route then the one traveled by Daniel Bard.

Okay, back to Badenhop.  He’s an above average relief pitcher (ERA+ over the last five years: 115, 104, 96, 128 and 114); he came up with the Marlins primarily as a starter in 2008, but since then moved to the pen. He’s thrown 62 to 72 innings each of the last five years. He is pretty darn dependable. His last two years have been remarkably similar.

IP H BB SO WHIP GB/FB ratio
2012 62.1 63 12 42 1.203 1.17
2013 62.1 62 12 42 1.187 1.16

Where the major league average is an 0.81 GB/FB ratio, we can expect the double play tandem of Bogaerts and Pedroia to get extra work when Badenhop pitches. Badenhop has Super 2 status (according to Baseball Prospectus and Cots Contracts, Badenhop has 5.116 years of service time) and is up for arbitration. We can assume he will get an increase from the $1.55 million he played for in 2013. This is another nice acquisition by Cherrington.

Edward Mujica Signing

Ben Cherrington has, for the most part, avoided any splashy big name signings. In fact, many of the local talk shows and beat reporters are upset that he hasn’t done more. So far this off season, he opted to sign AJ Pierzynski for one year rather then giving Salty a three year deal, he re-upped with Mike Napoli for two more years and signed reliever Edward Mujica for two years. Ellsbury left for New York and Stephen Drew remains lost in the free agent wilderness. Right now the Sox would have Jackie Bradley, Jr. in center and a left side infield pair or Bogaerts at short and Middlebrooks at third. The media pundits are gnashing their teeth – “you can’t rely on up the middle youth!”, “what if they fail, what’s the back up plan?” I’ll get to the youth movement in another blog post, but right now, I’d like to focus on the Mujica signing, because that was a coup.

Mujica pitched for the Cardinals last year in his age 29 season and pitched very well. He appeared in 65 games, tossed 64 2/3 innings, had a WHIP of 1.005, an ERA+ of 131, and a SO/BB ratio of 9.20. Not of great importance to the sabermetric minded fan, he saved 37 games for the Cardinals and made the All Star team. Mujica, however, fell apart in September and October, when he gave up 18 hits and 9 ERs in 7 1/3 IP. In two of his last three outings he pitched only a third of an inning and gave up three hits and two runs in each. It was reported later that he was suffering a groin injury when he lost the closer’s job. He was buried and forgotten by Mike Matheny thereafter. He made two playoff appearances – a ninth inning mop up job against the Pirates and once against the Dodgers in Game 5 where he entered in the bottom of the sixth with the Cardinals down 4-2. He got the last out of the sixth, but then gave up a home run to AJ Ellis in the seventh, pitched to one more batter and was never used again by Mike Matheny.

The Red Sox signed Mujica to a two year deal worth 9.5 million. To put that in perspective, Craig Breslow, if the Sox pick up his 2015 option, will make 7.825 million over the next two years, Koji is only signed for 5 million through 2014, and Junichi Tazawa is still in his arbitration eligible days – he won’t be eligible for free agency until 2017. Other notable relief signings this off-season? LaTroy “They Invented Carbon Dating for Me” Hawkins signed a one year deal of 2.5 million, Javier Lopez got three years and 13 million, Joe Nathan agreed two years and 20 million, Joe Smith signed for 3 years and 15.75 million, and Brian Wilson netted a one year deal at 10 million. Can’t say Mujica is that out of whack with the market.

What can we expect? Some pretty good relief pitching. Mujica will duke it out with Breslow and Tazawa as the eighth inning guys. Here is what Mjica has done since 2010. He’s one of only four relief pitchers with a WHIP under 1.025, 200 IP, ERA+ over 120, and SO/BB ratio over 6.0:

Rk Player WHIP SO/BB ERA+ IP Age G SV H R ER BB SO ERA HR
1 Rafael Betancourt 1.024 6.31 142 211.0 35-38 232 56 177 80 76 39 246 3.24 24
2 Edward Mujica 1.001 6.16 123 275.2 26-29 261 39 239 100 95 37 228 3.10 37
3 Sergio Romo 0.913 6.37 177 225.2 27-30 267 53 165 55 51 41 261 2.03 18
4 Koji Uehara 0.702 10.92 219 219.1 35-38 218 35 128 49 47 26 284 1.93 25

It’s great to see him in a group with Koji. He has given up a few more home runs then the others, but his 1.21 career HR/9 rate is acceptable. I would note, however, that he has a worrying trend of an increased GB/FB ratio over the last few years – since 2008, 0.42, 0.62, 0.79, 0.97, 1.05 and then last year he dropped back down to 0.83. Junichi Tazawa, for example, had a GB/FB ratio last year of 0.51, evn though I always perceived Tazawa as giving up a home run to the first batter he faced. Obviously not true, but pretty damn close.  Of his nine home runs given up last year, 4 were to the first batter he faced upon entering the game. It just goes to show that when you watch your team all the time you get a warped perspective. I expect Cardinals fans feel the same way about Mujica who also gave up 9 HRs and allowed 4 to the first batter he faced.

Overall, though, Mojica’s peripherals were pretty similar to Tazawa’s in 2013.

Mujica

  • ERA+ – 131
  • IP – 64.2
  • Slash Line Allowed – .245/.262/.412
  • HR alllowed – 9

Tazawa

  • ERA+ – 130
  • IP – 68.1
  • Slash Line Allowed – .265/.294/.447
  • HR alllowed – 9

The set up triumverate of Mujica, Tazawa and Breslow should be formidable before handing the ball over to Koji.  When you add in a possible return of Andrew Miller, who seemed to find himself in the bullpen – lest you forget Miller had an ERA+ of 154 and 48 Ks in 30 2/3 IP before breaking his foot, you’ve got the makings of a very good bullpen.

I like the Mujica signing. The Sox bullpen should be a bright spot again in 2014.

Harold Reynolds on CC

I’m fixated on Harold Reynolds and what I perceive as his idiocy. I can’t imagine how intelligent co-hosts stand him and how Brian Kenney manages to host a show with him without lighting his hair on fire. Most recently, I was zoning out to an MLB winter meeting show that had Harold as one of the talking heads. He said something along these lines:

“CC Sabathia’s best years are ahead. His next five will be better then his last five.”

I immediately texted my friend Marc with this gem, expecting confirmation that Harold was insane. Yet, and this may have been the inaccuracy of texting, Marc seemed to agree with Harold. I value Marc’s opinion – he likes the analytics but many times he will have a Harold Reynolds gut moment.  Was this one of those, I wondered? Off to Baseball Reference, Baseball Prospectus and Fangraphs I went.

First thing – CC will turn 34 during the 2014 season, so Harold is saying that from age 33-37 CC will have his best years. Without looking at anything other then his age, I say “Bu#$*&it.”

A little financial/contract background on CC. He was signed by the Yankees as a free agent in 2009. The deal was for 7 years and 161 million dollars with, importantly, an opt out clause in 2011. In October 2011, just hours before CC could have exercised his opt out clause, the Yankees and CC agree to extend the contract. The parties agreed to add on a one year extension at 25 million for 2016 with a vesting option for 2017 worth another 25 million based on some health clauses or a 5 million dollar buyout. The odds are good that CC will be a Yankee through 2017, his age 36 season.

CC started his Yankee run, conveniently, five years ago.  How has that gone?

Year Tm W L ERA IP H R ER HR ERA+ WHIP SO/BB
2009 NYY 19 8 3.37 230.0 197 96 86 18 137 1.148 2.94
2010 NYY 21 7 3.18 237.2 209 92 84 20 136 1.191 2.66
2011 NYY 19 8 3.00 237.1 230 87 79 17 143 1.226 3.77
2012 NYY 15 6 3.38 200.0 184 89 75 22 125 1.140 4.48
2013 NYY 14 13 4.78 211.0 224 122 112 28 85 1.370 2.69
NYY (5 yrs) 88 42 3.52 1116.0 1044 486 436 105 122 1.214 3.20

His WAR over that 5 year period has been 6.2, 4.6, 7.5, 3.5 and 0.3 for a total of 22.1 WAR over the first five years of his contract or about 110 million dollars. Per his contract, the Yankees have paid CC about 110 million. So far, a fair deal. I tend to doubt the Yankees will get anywhere near the possible 96 million (about 19 WAR in player performance) they could owe CC through 2017.

Harold suggests that CC will be worth more then 22 WAR over the next five years, his age 33-37 seasons. Let’s see which starting pitchers have managed that feat since integration in 1947.

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/15/2013.

CC has been a pretty durable pitcher over the years. How has he matched up with other pitchers of similar durability and quality? Here is the criteria I set up – WAR 50+, IP 2700+, GS 400+, during a pitchers career up to age 32. That turns out to be a pretty select group of five players: Don Drysdale, Robin Roberts, Bert Blyleven, Steve Carlton and CC.

All but CC are in the HOF. How did this group do after their age 32 season?

  •  Drysdale was done at age 32.
  • Roberts pitched until he was 39.  From 33-37:
    • ERA+ was 97, 69, 133, 104, 124.
    • IP totals: 237, 117, 191, 251 and 204.
    • His WAR for that period was 13.7.
  • Bert Blyleven pitched until he was 41. From 33-37:
    • ERA+ was 144, 134, 107, 115, 75.
    • IP totals: 245, 293, 271, 267, 207.
    • His WAR for that period was 21.9.
  •  Steve Carlton pitched until he was 43. From 33-37:
    • ERA+ was 126, 106, 162, 151, 119.
    • IP totals: 247, 251, 304,190, 295.
    • His WAR for that period was 26.4.

Even if we give CC this impressive company, he most likely, unless he is Steve Carltonesque, will not meet the 22.1 WAR of his last five years. This company does suggest, however, that he has a decent chance to pitch pretty well over the next five years. I’d expect one down year, one or two strong  years with an ERA+ over 120 and two medium years with ERA+ in the 105-115 range.

Verdict? Harold is a bit optimistic when it comes to CC, but not as far off base as I first thought. I don’t think CC is going to be better then his last five years, but CC might come pretty close.  Interesting.

A flower in the clubhouse?

Jacoby Ellsbury was introduced by the Yankees yesterday in a press conference. While Harold Reynolds gushed about how classy the Yankees are in everything they do, including press conferences, I was not that impressed.  Jacoby repeatedly said how excited he was to be a part of the Yankees and how excited he was about this next step in his career. He seemed to answer every question the same way – that he was really excited. I found it pretty dull and milk toast.  The press conference even got a bit weird when Joe Girardi spoke. He beamed that Jacoby would no longer be a thorn in his side but a flower in his clubhouse. It was pretty gag worthy. While the Sox can get pretty corny and choreograph things way too much, this Yankee press conference made me want to cover my eyes.

Anyway, as the press conference wrapped up, I noticed that the number on the back of Ellsbury’s press conference jersey was 22. Clearly, he can’t wear number 2, that’s Jeter’s number. I assume that 22 is a doubling of his former number 2 and that will be Jacoby’s number in 2014. Clemens wore that number with the Yankees from 1999-2003 and then again in 2007.

Here are the #22 Yankees since 2000:

  • 2013 – Brennan Boesch, Travis Ishikawa, Thomas Neal, Vernon Wells
  • 2012 – Andruw Jones
  • 2011 – Colin Curtis, Greg Golson, Brian Gordon, Aaron Laffey
  • 2010 – Chad Huffman, Randy Winn
  • 2009 – Xavier Nady
  • 2008 – LaTroy Hawkins, Xavier Nady
  • 2007 – Clemens
  • 2006 –
  • 2005 – Robinson Cano
  • 2004 – Jon Lieber
  • 2003 – Clemens
  • 2002 – Clemens
  • 2001 – Clemens
  • 2000 – Clemens

Other notable #22s on the Yankees:  Lefty Gomez (1930), Tommy Henrich (1937), Jimmy Key (1993-1996), Jorge Posada (1997), Allie Reynolds (1947-1954), Red Ruffing (1945-1946).

Other notable #22 in baseball: Bill Buckner, Steve Buechele, Brett Butler, Jack Clark, Will Clark, David Eckstein, Billy Hatcher, Ray Knight, Dennis Leonard, Mike Matheny, Jim Palmer, Johnny Podres, Brad Radke,  Walt Weiss and Richie Zisk.

Good bye, Jacoby. After yesterday’s press conference it won’t take much effort to root against you.

The most important question though has gone unanswered. What number will Vernon Wells wear next year and is he feeling disrespected? He wore 22 at the end of the 2013 season (he started off wearing 12). Is this wishful thinking on the Yankees part? If they give away Vernon’s number, they can get him to go away as well?

It’s not that his salary is awful for the Yanks. While it is $21 million, $18.6 million of that is being paid by the Angels. It’s Wells’ slash line that appalls.  As an Angel  in 2011, it was .218/.248/.412 and in 2012 .230/.279/.403. With the Yankees in 2013 it was just as bad – .233/.282/.349. I hope the Yankees keep throwing Vernon out there, but I fear they won’t have to suffer with him much in 2014.

I wondered, since the Yankees are so concerned about the luxury tax threshold, does Wells’ 2014 salary count against it or does only the amount the Yankees are paying count toward their threshold? A quick examination of the 2012-2016 CBA indicates that the $18.6 million paid by the Angels is counted against the Angels’ competitive tax balance threshold and only the remaining $2.4 million counts against the Yankees’ threshold.  If interested see Article XXIII, Section C(2)(b) – cash consideration.

Bartolo Colon is a Met

The Mets signed Bartolo Colon to a two year contract worth $20 million dollars.

No, that’s not a headline from 2004. That’s from yesterday. I find it hard to believe that Bartolo Colon would get that kind of money on a two year deal during has age 41 and 42 seasons.  That sounds like crazy time from Sandy Alderson.  Is it?

Back in 2004, a 31 year old Colon signed a 4 year $51 million dollar deal with the Angels. That came after a durable and decent 2003 season which saw him make 34 starts, amass 242 IP, and toss a league leading 9 complete games. The Angels must have also seen that Colon’s ERA+ for the previous three years (2002-2004) was: 172, 129 and 120 and that he started 33, 34 and 34 games each of those years while amassing 683 IP.  Colon was one of eight pitchers with more then 650 IP from 2002-2004. The others: Mark Buehrle, Livan Hernandez, Ben Sheets, Barry Zito, Tim Hudson, Javier Vazquez, and Curt Schilling. Colon won 53 games during that stretch, the most among that crew of 8.

The 2004 free agents from that band of 8 were Curt Schilling (Red Sox/5 years/60 million), Javier Vazquez (Yankees/4 years/45 million), Mark Buehrle (White Sox/3 years/18 million) and Colon. Colon’s deal with the Angels was not that far out of line, despite his age.

As an aside, one does wonder why a 22 year old Mark Buehrle got so much less then his older counterparts. It must have been that he was only 22 with one season under his belt. Here is the career WAR for all 8 players:

  • Buehrle 54.6 (14 seasons)
  • Colon 44.6 (16 seasons)
  • Hernandez 25.2 (17 seasons)
  • Sheets 26.1 (10 seasons)
  • Zito 33.9 (14 seasons)
  • Hudson 55.3 (15 seasons)
  • Vazquez 43.3 (14 seasons)
  • Schilling 80.7 (20 seasons)

Schilling is a likely hall of famer what with his post-season heroics and bloody sock. The rest are not, though some might argue that Hudson’s 200 wins should give some juice with the BBWA voters. No crying for Buehrle though, as he accumulated earnings north of $141 million during his career.

My research surprised me a bit about Colon. He has had a more impressive career then I thought. Perhaps his rotundness makes me think less of him. Aside 2 – there have been only 5 pitchers in major league history that are six feet or shorter and weighed more then 250 pounds – Colon, Rich Garces, Jose Mijares, Garland Buckeye, and Jean Machi. Weird how four of these guys are from Central America – three are from Venezuela, Colon is from the Dominican. And, Colon is really the only starter.

Back to present day Colon and his 2 year/$20 million dollar deal with the Mets. Are the Amazing’s nuts?

Most analysts suggest that 1 WAR is worth $5 million dollars. The Mets, if considering the financials even a little, are hoping that Colon will be worth 4 WAR over the next two years.  Is that reasonable thinking on Sandy Alderson’s part?

Since expansion in 1961, there have been 30 players to start in the majors in their year 41 and 42 seasons. Of those 30 only 9 were worth 4 WAR in those two seasons (a players age is figured as of June 30 of that year – Colon was born in May). Here are those players with their two year WAR and career WAR in parenthesis:

  • Roger Clemens 13.2 (139.4)
  • Warren Spahn 9.6 (92.6)
  • Randy Johnson 7.4 (104.3)
  • Dennis Martinez 7.2 (49.5)
  • Nolan Ryan 7.1 (83.8)
  • David Wells 5.8 (53.5)
  • Phil Neikro 5.1 (97.4)
  • Tim Wakefield 4.9 (34.5)
  • Don Sutton 4.3 (68.7)

A group of four hall of famers and two likely hall of famers (Clemens and Johnson). Martinez, Wells, and Wakefield being the non-royalty. Apart from Wakefield, whose longevity as a knuckleballer makes him more of an outlier, this is a pretty select group. Does Colon belong here? Maybe beside David Wells?

Lets look at the twenty-one other guys who started and pitched in their 41 and 42 seasons since expansion and had a two year WAR under 4.0:

  • Gaylord Perry 3.6
  • Kenny Rogers 3.6
  • Jerry Koosman 3.5
  • Greg Maddux 3.1
  • Charlie Hough 2.9
  • Jamie Moyer 2.8
  • Andy Pettite 2.5
  • Orlando Hernandez 2.5
  • Tom Seaver 2.5
  • Early Wynn 2.4
  • Tom Glavine 1.8
  • Rick Reushel 0.7
  • Tommy John 0.6
  • John Smoltz 0.4
  • Danny Darwin 0.4
  • Bert Blyleven 0.3
  • Luis Tiant -0.3
  • Joe Niekro -0.8
  • Tom Candiotti -1.0
  • Orel Hershiser -1.8
  • Steve Carlton -2.3

I’m more inclined to see Colon in this second group of players. Despite the chorus of “good signing” comments from numerous baseball people, do we really see Colon continuing with his post stem cell extraction rejuvenation?  As a Met fan, who would your rather have on a short term deal during the 2014 season when you won’t have Matt Harvey? Colon or the eighty pound lighter and soon to turn 30 Scott Kazmir (signed by the A’s for 2 years/$22 million)? Billy Beane says Kazmir. I’d have to agree with him. Maybe the Mets are just biding time with Colon since Harvey probably won’t be back to snuff until 2016 (if he returns to form at all).  But, if that were the case, why not Dan Haren on a one year deal?

Does this Colon signing excite the Mets fan base and give them hope for the future? If I were a Mets fan I’d rather take a flyer in Kazmir.

Off Season Comments

I am back.

Who cares, you say?

That would be justified. But, I’m back anyway. With the offseason, I will try to post my thoughts on different baseball topics – recent signings, rumors, historical baseball stuff, whatever moves me.

Another go at the blog.