I’ve spent the last few days watching Erik Bedard’s 2007 starts. They were pretty instructive as to how he works.
- Low-mid 90s fastball with some movement, spotted well.
- High 70s 11-5 curveball, sometimes has difficulty locating.
- Mid 80s straight change. Doesn’t do much.
He gets most of his called strikes with the fastball, working both corners, and he gets a fair amount of swinging strikes on it too. It’s easier to hit than the curve, but still an excellent pitch. He’s especially fond of the outside corner, and you don’t see him elevate the ball that often.
Virtually no called strikes with the curveball, and the catcher’s glove moves a lot trying to follow the pitch around. However, the thing is impossible to hit (I think Jeff Sullivan pointed out to me that there was 7x as many swinging strikes on Bedard’s curve than there were hits). He generally tries to go down and in to righties and low and away to lefties, but the curve has a habit of wandering all over.
The change seems like more of a show-me pitch than anything else. He doesn’t play around with it much when he’s on with the fastball and the curve.
The key to his transformation from pretty good pitcher to legit ace seems to come from a slight change in his curveball delivery. It was easier for batters to pick up before ’07, and therefore they could lay off it for a ball. Not so much this year. Watching batters go against it is amusing – they really don’t know what’s coming out of his hands, a fastball or a curve, and so they’ll swing at pitches in the dirt or, sitting curve, watch a fastball into the corner of the zone. His delivery on the curve has moved more in line with the fastball, which cuts down walks and boosts Ks (in essence because the bad guys are swinging at balls more often).
The best news about it? It’s sustainable. There’s really no reason I can see that Bedard can’t approximate this level of success over the next couple of years. The only worry I have is injury.
Bedard is awesome. Our rotation kicks ass. I may have issues with the trade from a longterm roster construction point of view, but there’s little doubt that we’re better off this year for it.
Incidentally, I have us at 88 wins right now. That won’t be enough, but hey. We were lucky last year, why not repeat it?
Thanks to The Sports Economist we have two great articles on stadium subsidies.
#1. The Atlanta school board is considering granting the area around Turner Field the status of Tax Allocation District. This is taking taxes AWAY FROM SCHOOLS and pumping them into the area around Turner Field to encourage growth.
As Skip Sauer pointed out, the stadium subsidy itself isn’t enough, more is needed. So first you build a $400m stadium, partly because that new stadium will encourage growth in that area and generate tax revenue. Unfortunately, it will only do so if you give even more money to the area, preferably money taken from the public schools.
My favorite quote is by economist Roger Noll
“Sports venues alone are just big black holes that have the ability to depress the neighborhoods in which they’re in.”
#2. Our very own Seattle Times published an article where it is alleged, “If the Sonics leave Seattle, the city’s economy won’t suffer and most people won’t care.” Obviously that was said by the Seattle City Council, right? Nope, that was said by the Sonics. Of course it was not too long ago they were arguing the opposite in the hope of a new publicly built arena.
“The financial issue is simple, and the city’s analysts agree, there will be no net economic loss if the Sonics leave Seattle. Entertainment dollars not spent on the Sonics will be spent on Seattle’s many other sports and entertainment options. Seattleites will not reduce their entertainment budget simply because the Sonics leave,” the Sonics said in the court brief.
I have some morbid curiosity with stadium dealings. I’d love to hear anybody explain why building stadiums is good for the economy, all they do is divert money from a variety of sources to the pockets of millionaires. It is a shame that these owners hold municipalities hostage. These are the same owners that turn public sentiment against the players while they rake in millions.
So, you thought they wouldn’t have me back, eh? Well, alas, after a one month layoff that’s seen it’s share of responsibilities, and other things, I thought I’d bless the blogosphere with something to read, and perhaps a little bit of what I do best: rant.
I hate counting stats. I hate when people use them. I hate seeing them on baseball cards, I hate seeing them on baseball telecasts, and I hate that they’re used to compare players on completely different teams, in different leagues, or from different eras.
So, why? Why do I hate counting stats? Well, here are a few reasons I’ve come up with. Feel free to add some reasons of your own in the comments section, as I’m quite certain I don’t have ALL the answers.
1. Counting stats leave no room for regression.
I suppose this is pretty obvious. Once you hit that 12th home run, you’re not going to regress to 11 again during that season. Pretty obvious. But how can you quantify the inevitable ups and downs of a baseball season in numbers that can’t regress, when a player’s performance certainly can? I don’t believe you can, and I defy anyone to convince me otherwise. Would you rather have Sammy Sosa with 10 bombs in April and none in May, or Barry Bonds with 5 in each month? As for me, I’m probably going to take the balanced effort (if you’re going to make me choose based on counting stats alone, that is…..).
2. Counting stats are an incredibly small sample size
It’s also true; if Justin Morneau hits 30 home runs next year, that’s likely to represent….oh about 4-5 percent of his plate appearances for the season. Why should I care about 5 percent of Justin Morneau’s plate appearances? How can this be considered a good measure of…..anything? Same goes for RBI…at best a player’s RBI total will represent 25 percent of a player’s plate appearances (I’m thinking a ‘fantastic’ total of 150 RBI (and in actuality, there isn’t a single player that pulls in a single RBI each time, so it’s probably closer to 20 percent) in 600 AB/PA, here). Still, how is 25 percent of anything to be considered a reasonable sample size?
More to come……but I thought I’d get off the schnide and make myself useful.
If you’re looking for solid blogs to read, check out http://www.sethspeaks.net and http://www.aarongleeman.com. If you’re looking to talk sports, check out the forums at prosportsdaily.com/forums and give me, brandonwarne52, a shout out!
Thanks everyone for reading!
I’ll bring the discussion that John Bai started on LL over to HR. The topic is Freely Available Talent (or Replacement Players) v. Average players.
A few thoughts:
1. Success is defined in wins and losses, not wins per dollar spent. The second is rigged in favor of teams that spend less money.
2. Superstars rarely hit the open market. When they do they can pick and choose where they want to do. Most of the time they don’t want to go to losing teams (A-Rod being the exception).
3. Freely available talent is freely available for a reason. Greg Dobbs is an excellent example of this. Dobbs actually had a decent season last year, but who saw that coming? Except for Pat Gillick. In order for the Mariners to get a shot at such a player, another team must first decide they are of little value.
4. Billy Beane is a savant. Just because he is exceptional at pulling rabits out of the hat, doesn’t mean that the average GM, can be expected to do this on a regular basis.
5. Freely available talent matters more to small budget teams. Teams like the A’s need to get more out of every dollar than do the Mariners in order to get the same win/loss record.
6. This is a seperate argument than the one about prospects getting major league time. Replacement level players are from the Rick Short pool of AAAA ballplayers. Club controlled guys don’t factor into the freely available pool.
I promise, besides the title and this sentence I am typing right now, Adam Jones will not appear in this post. Instead, I’ll take a brief sojourn into what adding Carlos Silva likely means for our 2008 outlook.
To start, we expect Felix Hernandez, Jarrod Washburn and Miguel Batista to return in 2008. The other four guys to get a start last season were Ryan Feierabend, Cha Seung Baek, Jeff Weaver and Horacio Ramirez. All told, they combined for 367.3 innings and 280 runs allowed. Holy batting practice batman, that’s horrendous. How horrendous? It’s 6.86 runs allowed per 9! Replacement level is usually determined to be something around 6 flat, which would have saved us 35 runs all by itself.
Carlos Silva’s last four runs allowed marks are 4.43, 3.97, 6.49 and 4.41. Boy 2006 sure sticks out huh? To get a quick and dirty projection for Silva for 2008, let’s just gaze at a few ways of using these numbers:
1) Straight average of past four seasons: 4.83 RA
2) 50-30-20 weighting over last 3 years: 4.95 RA
3) High and low regressed: 4.69 RA
Based on these, I’d be comfortable penning Silva for a 4.8 RA mark in 2008, were he to be pitching in MIN again. But he’s not, he’s changing parks, and importantly for Silva, changing defenses. Lets examine the park first. Using this article from Greg Rybarczyk we can see that one quirk that will help Silva is that SafeCo is a lot less friendly to yielding homeruns into the right-centerfield gap than the Metrodome.
And, from BBTF, we have these factors from 2003-5:
Team R H 2B HR BB SO Minnesota 1.06 1.02 1.04 0.98 0.96 1.12 Seattle 0.90 0.92 0.90 0.94 1.04 1.06
These show SafeCo as about 15% tougher run scoring environment over the period in question. Now, that doesn’t mean we want to apply a 15% reduction across the board. For one thing, other park factors, notably those at Baseball-Reference, show that scoring is roughly equal in MIN compared to SEA over the past three years. Since SEA’s defense is worse than MIN, (though the Mariners are getting better in that regard with the replacement of Jose Guillen by Ada–err, some new guy), lets just call park and defense a wash for the time being.
Carlos Silva is durable, averaging 193 innings a year over the past four seasons. Lucky for us, that’s about exactly half of the amount of innings taken up by the fearsome (to us) foursome. Let’s translate some of these into runs over a season to get an idea of how much we are improving.
2007: 6.86 RA * 193 innings = 147 runs allowed
Silva 2006: 6.49 RA * 193 innings = 139 runs allowed
Silva Med: 4.80 RA * 193 innings = 103 runs allowed
Silva 2007: 4.41 RA * 193 innings = 95 runs allowed
So we’re looking at around a 40-50 run improvement if Silva stays healthy and manages not to repeat 2006.
For what it’s worth, if we nabbed Erik Bedard and he took over the remaining 175 innings left from the Hindenburg-like foursome above, and notched a (conservative estimate) 4.0 runs allowed mark, he would net us another 55 runs. If he did something insane like repeating 2007, it would jump to 70 runs.
The opinion has been expressed by some people, notably Geoff Baker, that Brandon Morrow is more valuable to Adam Jones. It is my belief that this statement is false. I think the premise that people who are of this opinion operate under is that Brandon Morrow was successful in relief last year basically right out of college and this portends great things for his future as a starter. I do not buy this.
First off, Morrow was not “very successful” in relief last year. Let us get establish this right away. Morrow may have struck out 66 batters in 63.3 innings, a very good rate, but he also walked 50, a very very poor rate. Morrow did do a commendable job limiting homeruns, but we also only have a small sample on that, so we cannot be sure if this is a repeatable rate or a fluke. Morrow’s low groundball percentage (35.2%) indicates it’s more likely a fluke, though one he could sustain somewhat if he stayed in the bullpen as relievers HR/FB rates are almost always lower than that of their starting brethren.
All told, Morrow had a 4.12 ERA and a 4.09 FIP in 2007. Those aren’t bad numbers by any stretch, but they are not spectacular either. I bet a lot of people are suffering from first impression syndrome. Morrow’s first 20 games at the big league level resulted in a 2-0 record, 22.2 innings pitched and a sparkling 1.59 ERA. Problem is, even then his walks were a huge problem; he had 19 over those first 22.2 innings.
The more pertinent question is: what is Morrow’s future? For that, there’s three separate paths to consider.
PATH ONE: Morrow Stays in the Bullpen
This is basically stasis. Present Morrow stays at 2007 Morrow level, with perhaps a touch of experienced-related improvement, and Future Morrow’s whole development curve is flattened down to whatever improvement Morrow can find while pitching sporadically out of the bullpen in high leverage innings. In effect, very little can be done here. Future Morrow’s value tops out as a very good relief pitcher (nothing to sneeze at in today’s markets) and Present Morrow stays the same as 2007 Morrow, so not much improvement there to the 2008 squad.
PATH TWO: Morrow Learns to Start in Seattle
This would almost certainly be disastrous in the short-term, and likely long-term. Dave Cameron at USS Mariner wrote a post just today outlining Morrow’s deficiencies as a starting pitcher. It is important to hammer home one of Cameron’s main points; starting is vastly different from relieving. I’ll leave it up to the reader to go over to Cameron’s post for a more thorough understanding of why, but if you do not accept that premise then you might as well leave this site, head over to Baker’s blog and join in on the commenting fun there where you can be around people that think like you do.
All in all, Morrow as a starting pitcher in 2008 is going to be bad, like Jeff Weaver bad. So that is not going to net us any improvement. It also begs the question of what struggling this much will do to Morrow’s development as a starter. He needs to be developing offspeed pitches and command in order to reach his full potential, but if his offspeed stuff and slower fastball are getting shelled in the big league rotation, he might resort back to throwing pure gas as long as he can, burning out around 75 pitches but at least being somewhat more effective at getting outs. Problem is, that leaves Future Morrow in the same position as Present Morrow; worthless to the Mariners as a starting pitcher.
PATH THREE: Morrow Learns to Start in Tacoma
He gets a chance to work on all the things he needs to: better command, and improving his offspeed offerings, away from the pressures of attaining good results all the time. This is the best option for Future Morrow, but obviously reduces the value of Present Morrow to 0.
What we end up with is no rational way to expect Brandon Morrow to provide more value in 2008 than he did in 2007 and his future value added is directly tied to him being able to start games somewhere, be it Tacoma, Seattle or Baltimore. Brandon Morrow will not learn how to start by pitching out of the bullpen. The preceding sentence needs something stronger than bold to emphasize it enough. The pitchers that are able to make successful transitions from the pen to the rotation (e.g. Liriano, Santana, Pineiro when he was on the juice) all had massive amounts of experience starting in the minors. Brandon Morrow has none. That’s the key point to remember. It’s so important I am giving it its own paragraph like a newspaper sports writer would.
Brandon Morrow has practically no experience being a starting pitcher.
The only way Brandon Morrow provides significant future value is if he goes back to the minors and works his way back up as a starting pitcher. And that is not going to happen under this regime. Morrow is staying on the active roster come hell or tradewater. That is precisely why Morrow is expendable in the pursuit of Erik Bedard.
If we acquired Bedard, our rotation (Felix, Wash, Batista, Silva, Bedard) would be set for 2008-9. So you’d be keeping Morrow in the pen until 2010. By that point, Morrow has 3 years of service time and still has zero starting experience. The idea that he’ll make a flawless transition to the rotation is retarded no matter if it’s 2008, 2010 or 2015. You can almost surely chalk up 2010 to growing pains, meaning, if everything breaks right you get Morrow as a good starting pitcher for 2011-2 before he hits free agency. Two years. The same two years you get out of Bedard right now.
I have covered Jones’ value in a previous post, but to reiterate, Adam Jones provides an immediate value to the 2008 Mariners (mostly in the form of his defense) and is under club control for six seasons. Removing Adam Jones from the picture means we are certainly doomed to Raul Ibanez’s continued existence in left field and we also have to either use Wladimir Balentien in right field or go find a free agent. This is a tremendous hit to our outfield defense for 2008. (In fact, Bavasi should be looking at a free agent outfielder anyways [Kenny Lofton FTW!] to put over in left field so that we can move Raul’s decaying husk off the field entirely.)
Adam Jones is as essential to our 2008 squad as Jarrod Washburn. Brandon Morrow is as essential to our 2008 squad as Sean Green. Tell Baltimore they can Morrow (and Wlad and Chen and Saunders and Butler and Feierabend and Tui), but they cannot have Jones under any circumstance.