This Post is not About Adam Jones

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.

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4 Responses to This Post is not About Adam Jones

  1. Ken says:

    If I am misunderstanding part of your argument let me know. In the end of your article it appears you are alledging that if he got that 4.80RA (his median) he would be an improvement over 44 runs, which means Silva is worth ~4.5 wins. In actuality, I feel Silva should be compared to his benefit compared to the next best alternative. The next best alternative is obviously a debatable baseline, but can we safely assume that somebody, either in our system or as a free agent or cheap trade acquistion could have posted a 5era? Maybe 5.2 if you prefer. Could we assume that this pitcher would be free, or at least darn close? If so, then the marginal gain of Silva over RRS or Dickey or whoever the heck else, is a meager 4 runs (5ra/9*193ip)=107. The marginal cost is probably at least 9-10 million. The first 40 runs of improvement over the Weaver/Ramirez atrocity is pretty darn easy to get.

    I suppose my point is that really, the actual improvement Silva would produce is a lot less than that, since really, we shouldn’t expect all these guys to combine to have an era of 7 next year. In fact the improvement to what we would expect to take the hill next year (assuming, as I am, that somebody in that group can muster a 5era) is almost none.

    Of course that said, he is already signed, it doesn’t really matter what I theorized, time to get over it and hope that nothing else bad happens.

  2. Matthew says:

    Your point is valid; however we’re talking about two separate things. Silva is indeed worth something like 4.5 wins over what we saw in 2007 out of that rotation slot, not over replacement level; which you bring up.

    A quick note here. You understate the difference between Silva and replacement-level because I was noting runs allowed, and you used earned runs allowed. Replacement-level runs allowed is usually noted to be around 6.0, though it would be slightly lower in SafeCo, perhaps 5.75. Either way, Silva’s actually about a 20-5 run improvement over replacement-level.

    Now back to the original point. Why I did this analysis over what we saw in 2007 versus against the theoretical replacement-level for 2008 is exactly because we have already signed Silva. This wasn’t a cost-benefit analysis or anything like that. If I were trying to determine if a move was sound (like, for example, trading for Erik Bedard), then I would have to compare the possible acquisition’s marginal improvement.

    But that’s not the case here. Here we have a move that’s already taken place and I just want to know how much better over 2007 we are likely to be. It’s the same sense as trying to figure out what we’re going to get out of Ichiro next year. Do you compare Ichiro’s projected 2008 against a replacement-level centerfielder? That would make sense for other teams, or if we were trying to compare him to other options, but again, that’s not what we’re doing here. No, comparing Ichiro’s ’08 projection to Ichiro’s ’07 production is what makes the most sense for this case.

  3. SABR Matt says:

    SafeCo Field is a very moderate pitcher’s park in reality. I suppresses run scoring by about 5% ever since they fixed the glare problem with the black hole backdrop.

    The Metrodome is a neutral park that biases toward being a hitter’s park for groundball pitchers (turf is bad for hard grounders). I believe Silva will get a little boost from Safeco but he’s a righty who gets hit hard by lefties so we don’t want to overstate the boost.

  4. Ken says:

    I am aware of what replacement level is, however, I don’t feel it is a very good metric for various reasons. I chose 5 (although you are correct, I did compare ERA (which is an annoying stat anyway) to RA) because I felt very certain that one of the guys we are bringing in, who is our number 4 starter in this scenario, was going to get an era of 5. If we can’t agree on a baseline then everything is irreconcilable anyway.

    I was interpreting your argument that somehow Silva was a good signing in general, seeing as he was 4.5wins over 2007 production, which I felt was wrong, based on opportunity costs.

    So anyway, I misinterpreted you, sorry.

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