Thursday, December 27, 2007

Reyes vs. Santana

Should the Mets be willing to part with Jose Reyes to get Johan Santana? NY is apparently unwilling. I don't follow the Mets closely, but it seems to me Reyes for Santana is reasonable. Of course, I root for a team that's traded anything not nailed down, so maybe I'm just freewheeling.

Here are the win share stats for Reyes and Santana, with their MLB rank at their positions, going back to 2004 courtesy of Hardball Times.

2004: Santana 27 (1)
2005: Santana 23 (3)
2006: Santana 25 (1)
2007: Santana 18 (12)

2004: Reyes 5 (38)
2005: Reyes 17 (12)
2006: Reyes 29 (2)
2007: Reyes 24 (5)

The concern would be whether Santana's 15-13, 3.33 ERA and 1.07 WHIP "down year" in 2007 will become the norm as he reaches 29. Also, whether you believe Reyes, in his mid-20s, will still develop into a consistently dynamic game-changing player.

Santana's ERA+ last season was 130 and his career mark is 141. The nearest comparable pitchers through the age of 28 are Tim Hudson, Roy Oswalt, and John Candelaria according to

Reyes OPS+ was 103 last season and his career mark is 97. The nearest comparable modern hitters through age 24 are Edgar Renteria, Jim Fergosi, Garry Templeton and Gregg Jefferies.

If you believe OPS+ and ERA+ are good measuring sticks, then Santana is the better value. Santana could still regularly be one of the three best pitchers in the game, if not the best. Reyes will have to improve to become the best SS in the game, much less one of the top three hitters. So I would give up Reyes for Santana, but I can understand why Mets' fans might be reluctant.

Also, I'll admit I don't know what the Mets have in the way of replacing Reyes, which would be a factor. If the dropoff is significant, it could counteract the benefit of adding Santana.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Another Durbin

The Phils signed former Tiger pitcher Chad Durbin, not to be confused with J.D. Durbin, who already was in Philadelphia. The move doesn't seem to be generating much excitement in Philly, but I think it's a solid signing for the Fightins.

Durbin was awful in his first 3 outings for Detroit last season, but better the remainder of the campaign. If you toss those first 3 games, his ERA was 4.03 the rest of the way. On the downside, he doesn't strike out many batters and has a tendency to give up the long ball, which can be deadly in the Zen.

Generally, he was effect when moved to the bullpen after serving as a starter early in the season. In fact, his 5 later spot starts were generally poor.

Here is a breakdown of Durbin's stats. Through his first 14 games, all starts, he posted a 4.37 ERA. Again, remove the horrendous first 3 and for the next 11 starts he was 6-2 with a 3.06 ERA -- not too shabby.

His five spot starts toward the end of the season resulted in a 6.76 ERA.

As a reliever in 17 games, Durbin posted a 4.18 ERA.

Some of Durbin's late season woes might be from fatigue. He pitched 127.2 inning, which isn't a lot, but was his most in the bigs since 2001. He had only 83.2 IP in the majors in 2002-06. It also could be he didn't adjust well to bouncing between the bullpen and rotation.

Another reason for concern is his BABIP last season was .276, which is low, so he might have had some luck on his side or benefited from Comerica and the Tigers' defense.

Nonetheless, the Phils only committed a year and $900,000 in Durbin, which in my mind makes him a worthwhile signing with what's available. You can't dislike a pitcher that posted a 3.06 ERA during an 11-start span, or a 4.18 ERA in long relief. In 2006, he made 28 starts at Triple-A Toledo and was 11-8 with a 3.11 ERA.

He might be best suited for the pen, but gives the Phils another arm to evaluate for the No. 5 spot. And he's only 30.

True grit

Here is an entertaining post about what makes a gritty player. Enjoy the rankings at the end.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Talking bout Willis

The Tigers have signed Dontrelle Willis to a 3-year, $29-million extension according to the Free Press. This means Detroit's probable Big 3 of Justin Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman and Willis all are locked up through at least 2010.

Signing Willis, now that he's in the fold, was probably a good move and the Tigers probably got to pay less than market value because of Willis' poor 2007 season. The Mariners signed Carlos Silva at about $11 million per year, from what I've seen. Silva, 28, is 55-46 with a 4.31 ERA and has never had a Cy Young-type season like Willis.

Here are reasons to either be concerned Willis might not regain his 2005 form, or to believe he can get straightened out and improve.

First, is his control. In 2005, he walked 2.09/9 IP. In 2006, it was 3.34 and in 2007 it was 3.81. Actually, his 2005 season seems to be the anomaly; he was 3.25 in 2003 and 2.79 in 2004. In 2005, about 65% of his pitches were strikes; in 2007, it was 60%.

Second is batting average against. In 2005, it was .242, which is his best. With the exception of .246 in 2003, the numbers aren't great -- .274 in 2004, .271 in 2006 and .294 last season. The BABIPs aren't anything very unusual, although the .329 last season is a bit high. Still, even if you drop his BAA by 20 points it's right back in that .270-.275 range, which to me just seems high for someone that's supposed to be a dominant lefty. That's Randy Wolf territory -- after surgery. Prior to his arm woes, Wolf held batters to .246, .225, .238 during a 3-year span. Cole Hamels is in the .240 range. Tom Glavine was at .266 and .279 -- after turning 40.

Another thing about 2005, Willis gave up only 11 HR in 236 IP. This ridiculously low. His 4.9 HR/FB was about half of what's normal. His ERA would jump from 2.63 to over 3 if you figured on 11 more HR that year. Last season, Willis gave up 29 HR in 205 IP, which is high.

I'm probably going to eat all these words, but it just seems to me that Willis' 2005 season was the anomoly, not last year. And I'm still not convinced that the Tigers couldn't have done just as well with Andrew Miller or Dallas Trahern .

Friday, December 14, 2007


Being a baseball blog, we must acknowledge the Mitchell Report and its dramatic findings. But in case you were so involved reading the 409-page tome that you missed other breaking news, here are some highlights:

* Scientists determine sun to be "hot, very hot." (If you don't believe it, this is Sun Fact No. 5 from the NASA Web site: DON’T TOUCH THE SUN! IT’S HOT!)

* Study reveals overeating can cause obesity.

* New Jersey politicians are corrupt.

* Rain is still wet.

Now, back to the shocking discoveries in the Mitchell Report. Umm. Well, hmm, I guess Nook Logan was a surprise.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Rowand by the bay

Aaron Rowand is reportedly going to get 5 years, $60 million from the Giants, so his days in Philly are officially over, much to the chagrin of a number of Phillies fans. From the early reports, fans in Philly -- as well as Chicago -- are upset their teams didn't sign Rowand.

Congrats to Aaron for parlaying his career year into a windfall. But in my opinion, there's no way the Phils should be criticized for not going 5 years on Rowand. He's 30, but seems older to me. At this point in his career, he compares to Troy O'Leary. (More below.) His defense is good, but not outstanding. His range-zone rating on Hardball Times was 6th among NL centerfielders. He was second to Andruw Jones in out-of-zone plays, but not much ahead of Chris B. Young, Carlos Beltran or Juan Pierre.

His numbers are sure to drop with the move from the Zen to San Fran. His home numbers in 2007 were .319/.380/.557 while his road stats were .299/.368/.475. He hit 17 of his 27 HR in the Zen and I would figure he probably hits around 7 at home in 2008 in San Fran, where he's slugged .393 in 7 career games.

Rowand's stolen base numbers have dropped annually from a high of 17 in 2004 to 6 last season.

If the Phils could have signed Rowand for three years at a higher annual salary, it probably would have been worthwhile. But 5 years is too many.

Now, here's the O'Leary comparison:

AB: O'Leary 2709, Rowand 2664
BA: Rowand .286, O'Leary .283
OBP: Rowand .343, O'Leary .338
SLG: O'Leary .469, Rowand .462
OPS+: Rowand 106, O'Leary 104

Again, I'm not sure what this truly means, but it might provide perspective, I think. Of course, it doesn't take into account the always valuable "clubhouse presence" factor.

Rowand's career 162-game average season is .286-18-66. Shane Victorino figures to take over as the everyday CF in Philly; his career 162-game average season is .274-10-49. He will be 27 and is a much less financial burden.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


The Free Press reports the Tigers and Pirates are in talks about Brandon Inge. When the Tigers trade him, it will be another sad day, just like when they traded Mike Maroth. It's not because they're necessarily great players (and there's no debating Cabrera has to play 3B ahead of Inge regardless of Inge's otherworldly defense) but because they're great guys who suffered through 119 in 2003 with class.

Someone is going to be very happy to get Inge, even if he is owed $6 million each of the next three years. That's going to seem like a bargain, I think, once he gets straightened out at the plate. One thing about Inge, he's going to be there playing hard every day.

For a while, because of my devotion to Inge, I admit to falling into the "Brosius trap" when thinking about Cabrera. I would laugh when Yankee fans say they would rather have a Scott Brosius -- need a Scott Brosius -- over Alex Rodriguez. I almost did the same thing with Inge-Cabrera, but caught myself.

A-Rod has 2 MVP awards in 4 years with the Yankees. Forget about his postseasons (although they're the most enjoyable part of the year) -- NYY hasn't won a World Series since Brosius left because of its pitching shortcomings, not because of a need for fewer great players and more role players. A-Rod hit more HR this season (54) than Brosius did in 3 seasons with NY (52). Brosius was .261/.328/.422 with NY while A-Rod has been .303/.403/.573 in his 4 years.

Yeah, a Brosius type over A-Rod is just the upgrade the Yankees need.

So I have to say, welcome Miguel. Third base is yours.

Monday, December 10, 2007

More thoughts on Cabrera-Willis

I still don't believe in Dontrelle Willis. I'm not convinced Andrew Miller won't be as good if not better (or that one of the other three arms the Tigers parted with might, as well). I'm also not convinced the Tigers improved themselves in the ways they need to improve for 2008.

But if I view this deal piece for piece as essentially 1) Miguel Cabrera for Cameron Maybin and Mike Rabelo; and 2) Willis for Andrew Miller and throw ins, then I have to say advantage Tigers.

Starting with the pitching, Miller might end up being the lefty version of Carlos Zambrano, as Baseball Prospectus suggested entering this season, but this is probably a push -- at least for the next year or two. I can live with that, I guess.

From a hitting standpoint, Maybin might be a future superstar, but Cabrera IS a superstar. I have no problem with this aspect of the deal. According to, the most similar player to Cabrera historically through the age of 24 is Hank Aaron. I don't know that this means much, but it's fun to look at.

Cabrera and Aaron both had 5 seasons in the books at 24. Aaron had 732 games, Cabrera is at 720. Aaron had 2,895 ABs while Cabrera has 2,694. Here are the numbers:

BA: Aaron .316, Cabrera .313
HR: Aaron 140, Cabrera 138
RBI: Cabrera 523, Aaron 494
R: Aaron 496, Cabrera 449
OBP: Cabrera .388, Aaron .365
SLG: Aaron .543, Cabrera .542
OPS+: Aaron 145, Cabrera 143

Aaron already had an MVP Award by 24. Cabrera has two 5th-place finishes.

I'm pretty sure that no matter how good Maybin is, he won't be Hank Aaron through the age of 24. Other players Cabrera compares to at his age include Ken Griffey Jr., Frank Robinson, Orlando Cepeda, Joe Medwick, Al Kaline, Mickey Mantle, Vlad Guerrero.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Yorman is our man

People are finally coming around to the idea that the Tigers still need pitching to win the World Series. One arm in the bullpen intrigues me. It belongs to Yorman Bazardo. He'll be 24 in July and bounced between the minors and big club in 2007.

In 25.1 IP with the Tigers, made up of 2 starts and 9 relief appearances, Bazardo was 2-1 with a 2.28 ERA and 1.01 WHIP. Those aren't many innings to get a true feel for his ability, but he was a Top 10 prospect for the Mariners before Detroit acquired him last February. Foes batted only .218 against him and he struck out 15 while walking only 5.

From what I've been able to find, he's got a fastball that can reach the high 90s, but he works primarily in the 91-93 range. I saw reference to a hard-breaking curve with good late movement. His slider and changeup are supposedly below average. Still, a fastball and good curve would be enough for success in the bullpen and he's young enough to develop pitches and improve his arsenal. He could be an asset in the middle to late innings.

One reason for concern: the Tigers turned 76% of batted balls against Bazardo into outs -- a high number. It's hard to determine how much of that is a function of the pitching and how much is a function of luck. Bazardo did generate 47% groundballs, which helps his cause.

Friday, December 07, 2007


Here is a look at the prospects given up by the Tigers, posted on the Marlins Web site.

Pitch and moan

Here are offensive numbers for the world champion Boston Red Sox and Tigers from last year:

BA: Detroit .287, Boston .279
Runs: Detroit 887, Boston 867
2B: Detroit 352, Boston 352
3B: Detroit 50, Boston 35
HR: Detroit 177, Boston 166
RBI: Detroit 857, Boston 829
SB: Detroit 103, Boston 96
OBP: Boston .362, Detroit .345
SLG: Detroit .458, Boston .444

Here are pitching numbers for the two:

ERA: Boston 3.87, Detroit 4.58
Hits: Boston 1350, Detroit 1498
BB: Boston 482, Detroit 566
K: Boston 1149, Detroit 1047
WHIP: Boston 1.27, Detroit 1.43
Saves: Boston 45, Detroit 44
BS: Boston 11, Detroit 21

I guess if Willis doesn't rebound, the Tigers' hitting with Cabrera can do more to offset the pitching. It's rather remarkable Detroit won 88 games when you consider the bullpen blew 7 more games in 2007 than in 2006 and Verlander was the only starter who improved on his wins. Verlander was +1, Bonderman was -3, Robertson was -4, and Rogers was -14. That puts the top 4 in the rotation from 2006 at -20. Chad Durbin's +8 helped offset some of that.

Thinking alike

It seems Rob Parker and I share the same concerns about the Tigers.

Meanwhile, it appears that Brandon Inge's days with Detroit are over. I hate to see Inge leave the Tigers. I would love to see him land in Philly, but the Phils reportedly have no interest because of Inge's contract. But Inge would be a great fit there. The fans would love him for his hustle and defense and homers. He would hit 20-25 homers in the Zen, I think, maybe more.

Of course, he also would hit .250 and strikeout a bunch, but it's not like Phils fans aren't used to that on the left side of the field.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


I'll need time to digest this trade between the Tigers and Marlins. At first blush, I'm not as excited as many people seem to be. Cabrera is a talented hitter, no doubt, who seems to put up .320-30-115 annually. It's hard to be upset with those numbers.

This trade will hinge on a few factors. First, can Willis rebound and regain his form of a couple years ago? It seems Willis' ERA was probably a bit inflated by the Marlins' defense, so Willis should benefit from coming to Detroit. The ballpark should help him, too. One plus, Willis won't have to be the ace in Motown; in fact, he could be the No. 3 starter in the rotation and that might be fine. Perhaps the change of scenery and the fact he no longer has to be the face of an organization helps. Of course, he'll still face scrutiny because of the pitching prospects the Tigers parted with.

Second, the Tigers will need to lock up Cabrera and Willis, both in their mid-20s, for the long term. Third, Detroit will need to make sure Cabrera doesn't eat himself into being Mo Vaughn.

Detroit has now traded away 10 prospects to get Sheffield, Renteria, Cabrera and Willis. There is no question Dombrowski has moved all in. The Tigers must win now.

A few random thoughts: Perhaps the Tigers were falling out of love with Andrew Miller and wanted to trade him while he still had value. Where does Cabrera play? If it's third, what do the Tigers do with Brandon Inge? If it's left field, what does that mean for Marcus Thames and newcomer Jacque Jones? I'm guessing another trade for pitching help, particularly in the bullpen, could be made. This move also might be for insurance in case Sheffield doesn't return to form after shoulder surgery; Cabrera certainly should make up for the loss of offense.

In any event, this trade hinges on Willis in my mind. If he flops, the Tigers gave up six players for Cabrera, and one of those players -- Cameron Maybin -- is being touted as an Eric Davis-type talent. I've always agreed with the philosophy that prospects should be dealt to get proven big league talent, but this price seemed high because of my fears regarding Willis.

What moves are made next could be most important. We might have to see how the rest of the offseason plays out to get a better handle on how this trade truly affects the Tigers.

Jose ... Jose, Jose, Jose

Jose Guillen, 31, and the KC Royals reportedly reached a 3-year, $36-million deal. According to Hardball Times, Guillen made $4 million in 2007. He batted .290-23-99 in 593 ABs. His line for BA/OBP/SLG was .290/.353/.460.

His numbers for 2007 were practically identical to Eric Byrnes -- minus the speed (and personality, for that matter). Byrnes got a 3-year, $30-million extension from Arizona during the season.

Guillen's .813 OPS matched Byrnes and also that of --- Ryan Church (.272/.349/.464).

Sorry, I just had to toss that in there.

But Guillen's contract is about more than numbers. It's about the leadership and direction he can provide to the young players on the KC roster. You can't put a price on that.


A brief history lesson including an insult to dogs.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

One more roll of the dice

The Tigers re-signed Kenny Rogers and will need a healthy Gambler to take the mound in 2008. Injuries led to a 14-game dropoff for Rogers last season -- certainly one of the main reasons Detroit was on the outside looking in at playoff time.

Given the lack of quality pitching available on the market, the Tigers needed to bring back Rogers, who seemed to have a positive effect on the pitching staff as a whole. Right now, though, Justin Verlander seems to be the only starter from what once appeared to be a deep rotation that can be counted on. Otherwise, Detroit needs to hope for Jeremy Bonderman, Nate Robertson and Rogers all to bounce back from down years -- plus someone (Andrew Miller?) to step up to fill the rotation.

That's a lot of question marks, but at least the talent is there. Reportedly, the Tigers are also looking at Jason Jennings (thumbs up here) and Kris Benson (thumbs down) to aid the staff. Has anyone lived for so long on the word "potential" than Benson? As frustrated as I get with Bonderman, at least he's got two 14-win seasons to his credit already. Benson has never won more than a dozen and only once has posted an ERA under 4.

It's remarkable that Benson and Matt Clement, two pitchers who missed last year because of shoulder surgery, keep popping up on numerous teams' radars. What a mess.

Church talk

I can understand Mets fans being disappointed about the Milledge trade, but only from the standpoint that they didn't get a much-needed pitcher in return. But I think they're over-rating Milledge and under-rating Church. I think Church will be a solid player for the Mets and should improve in NY's lineup and ballpark.

Church slugged .506 away from RFK, which according to ESPN's ballpark factor ratings was the most difficult in which to hit homers -- about 33 percent tougher than neutral. Church won't turn 30 until next October and should be in his prime. I could foresee him putting up numbers like .280-20-90 with the Mets next season if he gets 500 AB.

Milledge is much younger and could still develop into a star, but I've never been too high on him. He'll need to mature as a hitter, and given his personality to date, he doesn't seem like the maturing type. I don't think you can put him in the offensive category of Delmon Young, which is what it took to get Matt Garza from the Twins, so the market to pry away pitching is tough.