Monday, December 9, 2013

Blog Update: A Very Brief Interruption

Howdy, folks. I just wanted to give an update on content this week here at Baseball Arcade.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Team Postmortem: Arizona Diamondbacks

Record: 81-81, -10 Run Differential

Summary: The Arizona Diamondbacks were the big losers of the Dodgers' miraculous comeback season.  On June 22nd, the Diamondbacks were 41-33 with a 6 game lead over in the division and a 9.5 game lead over the Dodgers. The Dbacks ended the year at precisely .500, 9 games back of those same Dodgers. Arizona took a small step backwards this season over last year, where the finished with an identical record but a better run differential at +46. They are still a young team with some very good players, such as Paul Goldschmit, so the season wasn't entirely a lost cause.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Team Postmortem: Los Angeles Angels

Record: 78-84, -4 Run Differential

Summary: The Angels' 2013 season was a disaster. An expensive disaster. Sure, Mike Trout is the absolute best player in the game, but the rest of them team tended to be either mediocre, over-paid, or both. The contracts to Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols are looking to be an even bigger mistakes than the most pessimistic could have predicted. The starting rotation--outside of, perhaps, Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson--was underwhelming. Trout, as talented as he is, cannot win baseball games all by himself. But the devil (in this case, the Angels' GM, Jerry DiPoto) is in the details, so let's take a look.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Team Postmortem: San Francisco Giants

 Record: 76-86, -62 Run Differential

Summary: From 2010 to 2012, the San Francisco Giants won 268 games. They won both their division and the World Series in 2010 and 2012. They were a dynasty in the making. Going into 2013, 35 of 43 experts on ESPN predicted that the Giants would make the postseason. With that in mind, there is no way to look at their losing record and third place finish in the division to be anything to be anything but a bitter disappointment. So what happened to cause the team to go from winning 94 games one year ago to a mere 76 in 2013?

Friday, November 29, 2013

Team Postmortem: San Diego Padres

Record: 76-86, -82 Run Differential

Summary: In terms of the on-field product, it seems like the Padres were standing still this season. They finished with the exact same record as in 2012. However, the year should still be considered a step forward for the San Diego club, as they finally addressed their ownership issues in the preceding offseason and acquired a new CEO and GM, a pair that should hopefully be in place for a while going forward, giving the organization much needed stability. As such, while 2013 may be ultimately a lost year, the team will now have a full offseason to start building towards a new plan for the future.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Rounding the Bases: 11/21 - 11/27

Today, I launch a new feature at Baseball Arcade. Every Thursday, I will be posting a roundup of the previous week's major news stories and transactions in baseball. I will also be posting links to a couple excellent articles from across the baseball 'blog-o-sphere.'


11/21 - Kansas City Royals sign RHP Jason Vargas to a 4/$32 contract

11/22 - Milwaukee Brewers trade RHP Burke Badenhop to Boston Red Sox for mL LHP Luis Ortega
11/22 - St Louis Cardinals trade 3B David Freese and RHP Fernando Salas to Los Angeles Angels for CF Peter Bourjos and mL OF Randal Grichuk
11/22 - New York Mets sign OF Chris Young to a 1/$7.25 contract

11/23 - New York Yankees sign C Brian McCann to a 5/$85 deal with 6th year vesting option

11/24 - St Louis Cardinals sign IF Jhonny Peralta to a 4/$53 contract
11/24 - Tampa Bay Rays re-sign C Jose Molina to a 2/$4.5 contract
11/24 - Los Angeles Dodgers sign Dan Haren to a 1/$10 contract with 2nd year vesting option

11/25 - Kansas City Royals trade C George Kottaras to Chicago Cubs for cash considerations

11/26 - Minnesota Twins sign RHP Ricky Nolasco to a 4/$49 contract with 5th year option

Blog Links

Chris Carruthers (Breaking Blue) wrote an excellent article, "The R.A. Dickey Effect", where he examines the effect batters having to face Dickey and his knuckleball has on the relievers who come in after him.

Bill Baer (Crashburn Alley) reminds everyone that, despite the Tigers escaping from the Fielder contract, Ryan Howard is never going anywhere. Ever.

Bruce Markusen (Hardball Times) takes an in-depth look at the recently recovered footage from Jim Maloney's 1965 no-hitter, with a focus on how the coverage of the sport has changed.

Rany Jayazerli (Rany on the Royals) examines the Jason Vargas deal. Unsurprisingly, he thinks it's a bad move for KC.

Dave Cameron (Fangraphs) looks at how the market is changing and the cost of a Win is on the rise.

For the really bold, Bryan Grosnick (Beyond the Box Score) proposes a new bullpen role: "opener"

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Deadspin Buys Vote, Baseball Arcade Unravels Mystery

It was revealed today that Deadspin had purchased the Hall of Fame vote of a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. The sports and humor website intends to crowd-source the ballot, which the writer will then submit as his own. After the votes are tallied, the writer in question will reveal his/her identity and his/her justification for selling the vote. But waiting is no longer necessary! I'm proud to say that Baseball Arcade has deduced the seller's identity.

Team Postmortem: Toronto Blue Jays

Record: 74-88, -44 Run Differential

Summary: Congratulations to the 2013 World Champi-- What? They didn't win the World Series? Didn't even play in it? Well, the postseason is a crapshoot, they probably just got unlucky. In that case, this season the AL East Champion Toro--Huh? They didn't win the division, either? They finished last? Oh... So, yeah, despite being crowned the easy favorites by just about everyone in the media, the Blue Jays actually finished dead last in the East, with a sub-.500 record. Seeing a window of opportunity, with the Red Sox and Yankees both apparently weakened and the Orioles likely to regress, the Blue Jays pushed all their chips to the center of the table in the offseason, trading nearly their entire farm system for R.A. Dickey and the entire Miami Marlins roster. Unfortunately, everything that could go wrong from that point basically did. Let's take a look.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

On Awards Madness: Addendum

While writing a previous piece about the AL MVP voting, I got to thinking about the other awards. For the most part, I am fine with how they turned out. Sure, I could quibble about a ballot or two, but that would a waste of your time. However, I do want to talk about the American League Comeback Player of the Year. It's certainly the lowest profile of all the major BBWWAA awards, but that doesn't mean the voters can't get it wrong and that Baseball Arcade can't get mad about it.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Team Postmortem: Milwaukee Brewers

Record: 74-88, -47 Run Differential

Summary: When you use 125 different lineups over the course of a 162-game season, it's probably not a very good sign. Well, the Brewers ran 125 lineups out there this season and, sure enough, they weren't very good. They suffered through multiple injuries, a rotation that amounted to mediocrity at best and "praying for rain" at worst, and the suspension of "Face of the Franchise" Ryan Braun for a violation of MLB's steroid policy. Not a good year for the Brew Crew. Let's get to it.

Dodgers Sign Haren, Get Value Without Breaking the Bank

Late Sunday evening, the Los Angeles Dodgers signed free agent pitcher Dan Haren to one year, $10M contract to be their fifth starter. The deal includes a vesting option for 2015 if Haren throws 180 innings in 2014. My initial reaction was that it was a very good deal for the Dodgers. I decided it might be interesting to look at the deal a bit closer in Baseball Arcade's first attempt at analyzing a contract.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Team Postmortem: Colorado Rockies

Record: 74-88, -54 Run Differential

Summary: Well, the Rockies gave their fans hope this season ... for a little while. For the first few months of the year, the Rockies were in contention. On June 17, they were three games over .500 and only a solitary game behind the Arizona Diamondbacks for the lead in the NL West. They would never be that close to the division lead or that many games over .500 again, ending the season in last place in the NL West. Then again, they weren't the only team who saw a similar crash; the entire division saw hopes crushed by the Dodgers' ridiculous surge. It should be noted that the Rockies were incredibly bad on the road in 2013, going 23 games below .500 away from Coors Field. The highlight of the season ended up being a touching and well-deserved farewell to career Rockie Todd Helton.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

On Awards Madness

At Baseball Arcade, I am not above beating a dead horse. Or a live horse. Or even a zombie horse. I'll beat any kind of horse is what I'm saying. With that out of the way, no topic has sparked as much heated debate and spilled more digital ink as the BBWAA MVP Awards have over the past week. It's time for me to throw my hat into the ring.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Team Postmortem: New York Mets

Record: 74-88, -65 Run Differential

Summary: The Mets only won one more game than the our previous team but in reality the Mets and Phillies are franchises headed in much different directions. The Phillies are coming off a run of contention and now looking to be mediocre for a while. Meanwhile, the Mets have been mediocre for years but are looking to have a bright future. For now  though, the 2013 club was mediocre with flashes of future promise.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Trading David Price, or Others Do My Work for Me

Free Agency isn't the only way to improve your team during the off-season. While Jacoby Ellsbury and Robinson Cano unsurprisingly dominate the discussions of the free agent market, the biggest player available by trade is David Price. Price is one of the best starting pitchers in baseball, won the Cy Young in 2012, is 28 years old and has two years of team control left before he hits Free Agency himself. Due to the way the Rays have to run their team, they will not be able to afford to extend him and will almost certainly be trading him for a haul of young talent while he's at what might be the peak of his value, much as they did with James Shields last year. Acquiring David Price will make any team better--even significantly so--but the cost in prospects (and the money to sign him long term) will be extremely high.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Team Postmortem: Philadelphia Phillies

Record:  73-89, -139 Run Differential

Summary: They say baseball is cyclical. The idea certainly has merit. Generally, when a team has had a period of sustained success, there comes a time, as the core of that team ages, that the team declines a bit as it reloads and rebuilds. This can be mitigated or held off if your team has infinite money (the Yankees) or an amazingly smart front office (the Rays). Unfortunately for Phillies fans, while the team has a lot of money, it's not infinite, and their Front Office may be the dumbest in baseball. As it stands, the Phillies are coming off of a terrible season. They are old, under-performing, and laden with ridiculously awful contracts.  We'll start, as always, by looking at the team that went on the field and then we'll tear into GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. a bit.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Team Postmortem: Seattle Mariners

Record: 71-91, -130 Run Differential

Summary: I'll be honest. I've not been looking forward to this one. Too many of the best writers out there (Dave Cameron, Jeff Sullivan) are Mariners guys, and I pale in comparison in terms of knowing the team, writing talent and analytical talent... soooo everything! But here we are. The 2013 Mariners were not very good. In fact, they were a pretty bad team. By Run Differential, they were only a hair less bad than Miami. The sad thing about this is that this was supposedly an actual attempt to have a winning ballclub rather than just another rebuilding year. So yeah, that didn't go well.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

More or Less Scary than J.P. Arencibia, Starting Catcher

So, yesterday I had a small exchange with Dan Szymborski on Twitter. He had done an article for ESPN listing free agents who scare him, then tweeted:
For reference, J.P. Arencibia spent 2013 as the starting catcher for the Toronto Blue Jays. He was, to be kind, abysmal. He hit--and I use that term loosely--.194/.227/.365  with a wRC+ of 57. Look at that OBP! It is not a typo. It's .227. Yet he got into 134 games and had almost 500 PAs. The only thing that kept him from being the worst player in the game was being a catcher and hitting with some power (21 HRs). I asked a pertinent question:

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Team Postmortem: Minnesota Twins

Record: 66-96,  -174 Run Differential

Summary: Let's start with a bit of history. Back when Bill Smith took over as General Manager in 2007, the Twins were a good team with a highly regarded player development system. They had had a great farm system and a solid cheap core of talent. By the end of the 2011 season, Smith had destroyed the farm system, filled the roster with overpriced and under-performing contracts, and, to top it off, had gotten essentially nothing out of the Johan Santana trade. Smith was fired, and replaced--as crazy as this sounds--with his predecessor, Terry Ryan. Ryan immediately set to work rebuilding the franchise from the ground up, letting players like Joe Nathan and Michael Cuddyer leave to Free Agency and trading guys like Francisco Liriano, Ben Revere, and Denard Span. The downside of this is that the Major League team is a bit of a wasteland, basically consisting of Joe Mauer (still awesome) and a bunch of filler players or prospects who are not quite ready yet.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Does Yuniesky Betancourt Possess the X-Gene?

While writing the postmortem for the Milwaukee Brewers, I noticed that they were employing Yuniesky Betancourt. Yuni is one of the worst players in baseball and has been since 2008. He can't hit at all and, lately, plays terrible defense. Despite being a shortstop for the vast majority of his career, the Brewers actually had him playing predominantly first base. He was a .240 OBP first baseman, a fact that is so sad, I can't even begin to process it. However, that's not the point of this article, at least not directly. When I clicked on Yuni's Fangraphs player page, wanting to review his career, I noticed he had played for the Brewers before. Not only that, but somehow he had been employed by the Royals on two separate occasions as well. Betancourt was horrible in each of those stints, yet both teams elected to give him another shot, despite knowing more than most how awful he is. The only reasonable explanation that I can think of is that Yuniesky Betancourt is a Mutant.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Team Postmortem: Chicago Cubs

Record: 66-96, -87 Run Differential

Summary: From one Chicago club to the other. Where the White Sox have only just begun to rebuild, the Cubs started their effort last off-season where they traded almost all their established talent making any money -- and finished the job at the Trade Deadline. What's left is, essentially, a AAA team on a Major League roster. That said, the Cubs are on the right track, but let's start by taking a look at the team on the field.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Team Postmortem: Chicago White Sox

Record: 63-99, -125 Run Differential

Summary: On the plus side, Ozzie Guillen isn't around anymore. On the negative side, this is a bad team. A bad team in a very competitive division. A bad team in a very competitive division with a horrible farm system. The immediate future of the White Sox isn't very bright, but at least their fans can enjoy watching Chris Sale pitch. Let's take a look.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Team Postmortem: Miami Marlins

Record: 62-100, -133 Run Differential

Summary: Oh boy. This team. It will come as no surprise that Miami was horrible again after unloading half their team to the Toronto Blue Jays, who were in Go For It Now mode (more on that when we get to them). Miami lost 100 games, after all. Miami certainly has more potential on the field than the Astros, but as we'll get to, there is far less reason for long term hope in the Marlins' case. First, let's look at the team on the field.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Team Postmortem: Houston Astros

Record: 51-111, -238 Run Differential

Summary: One of the biggest stories of last off-season, whether it got the most print or not, was the move of the Houston Astros to the American League. Teams change leagues rarely, so it was certainly interesting to see how the Astros fared in the transition. Unsurprisingly, not very well, posting their third consecutive 100+ loss season. They finished with a whopping -238 run differential, the worst such number since the 2010 Pirates. (To give you a sense of how uncommon this is, before that you had to go all the way back to the 2004 Arizona Diamondbacks.) So what went wrong?

Team Postmortems: An Introduction

Our first recurring feature here on Baseball Arcade will be the 2013 Team Postmortems. The genesis of the idea came about after I did my Games To Watch feature on the Penny Arcade Forums and went looking for off-season projects in a similar vein to keep the thread active. I remembered when, earlier in the season, I went on a rant on what a terrible GM Ruben Amaro, Jr is. TheScruple responded by saying he looked forward to my analysis on the 2014 Yankees. So I decided I could try my hand at breaking down all 30 MLB Clubs 2013 Seasons as well as their hopes going forward into 2014.

So, Who Am I and What's Going On Here?

So, just in case anyone should should stumble across this blog, I thought a quick word or two on what's going on here may be appropriate.

This blog is (or if you're reading in a future where I'm an incredible wealthy and successful blogger, it started as) a companion blog to the MLB Thread at the Penny Arcade Forums (Future Reader: Just how many PAXes are there now? 15? 28?). The short of it is, I started during the 2013 stretch run to write a daily set of Games To Watch, highlighting two games per day (Future Reader: At the time, there where only two leagues and we didn't have teams from other dimensions) and examining the pitchers involved. It was my first attempt to actually write about baseball and apply what meager knowledge of analysis I'd gained over the years. Turns out, I enjoyed myself and the readers seemed to enjoy it too! As such, I decided to start writing more content for the thread, in order to keep discussion flowing during the off-season, and quickly discovered that the post size limitations were a problem. The ever-wise Minor Incident suggested a blog, so here we are.

So, Baseball Arcade will be a home to my longer-form baseball musings and analysis, predominantly designed to foster discussion in the MLB Thread. (Future Readers: Little did I know the kind of Multimedia Empire I would be launching). Hopefully, we'll get some of the other thread denizens to chime in with guests posts and the like as well.

As for who I am? Well, you should know I'm a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan, but I'll try my best to keep that from biasing any writings on the AL East and, in particular, the New York Yankees (Future Readers: The Yankees were a ballclub that were notorious rivals of the Red Sox before they were contracted).