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Saturday, February 15, 2014

BCB: Fan Foils By The Numbers: Neifi Perez

I miss Neifi Perez…and Wiki Gonzalez.

By the title, you know the player featured as this week’s “Foil.” Neifi Perez was, shall we say, a very limited baseball player. His offensive short-comings will be documented here in a bit.

But Neifi as a “Foil” embodies many reasons the Cubs have stunk for so many years. He was a player with incredibly obvious flaws, brought in by a front office to solve problems he wasn’t capable of addressing, and put in a perfectly predictable position to fail by his manager. We could pretty much call this the “Cub Trifecta of Incompetence.”

So fail Neifi did. Mostly.

...Jim Hendry and Dusty Baker put Neifi Perez in a position to be exposed. In turn, Perez produced an offensive season that could have been ticketed for indecent exposure. In 609 (!) PA, Perez hit: .274/.298/.383. He was the perfect kind of player to fool the then Cub brass: a good defender with an empty batting average. To hit .274 and still not have an OBP over .300 is a nearly amazing feat of futility. But Perez achieved just that by walking 18 times all season. That’s less than once a week. Good old Dusty never had to worry about Neifi “clogging the bases,” that’s for sure. Three of the walks were intentional, so Neifi only walked 15 times thanks to his own effort. So, naturally, Dusty frequently batted Neifi near the top of the order.

...He ended up being “worth” -2.8 WAR over his career. That actually makes the 2005 season Cub fans look back on in disgust as one of Perez’ most valuable seasons.

So what should we make of Neifi Perez and his time with the Cubs? There is a place for good defenders like Perez in the big leagues, but they really ought to be the worst bat in an otherwise strong offensive line-up. They probably shouldn’t be full-time players and should hit at the bottom of the line-up. Those were lesson lost on “old school” Dusty Baker.

We are all hoping (with various levels of conviction) that the current front office has learned from these “Neifi lessons.” And we all hope it results in a winner.

Repoz Posted: February 15, 2014 at 01:45 PM | 28 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history

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   1. McCoy Posted: February 15, 2014 at 02:23 PM (#4657369)
You'd think a site dedicated to the Cubs would do a better job of researching their Cub material.

Naturally, the Cubs' brass thought this is what they were buying (rather than the consistently subpar offensive numbers that Perez had put up during his career) when they turned the shortstop spot over to Perez full time for the 2005 season.

The plan wasn't for Neifi to be the full time SS in 2005. Nomar Garciaparra was supposed to be the full time SS in 2005 but he blew his crotch out before April was even over and Baker and the Cubs turned to Neifi because, well, he really was their best internal option. Before the injury Neifi was platooning with Walker over at second base and only had a couple of starts and appearances at SS. Basically Perez was brought in to fill Baker's need for super-utility guys and they brought him in for a rather cheap amount, a 1 million dollar base salary.

The really stupid move by Hendry was to then give him a multi-year deal after the 2005 season for 5 million overall very early on in the offseason and then made him and Walker the two main second basemen for the season until they both got moved.
   2. Greg Franklin Posted: February 15, 2014 at 02:55 PM (#4657378)
McCoy is right about the initial plan for Neifi in 2005, according to the the actual Wiki Gonzalez page on the Neifinator.

One of my regrets is that someone on the Cubs scrubbed the "unsung hero" article from the Cubs.com site before I could find it again and add it to that wiki. It was ridiculous even then.
   3. zonk Posted: February 15, 2014 at 04:44 PM (#4657414)
I still cannot read anything about Neifi Perez without remembering how truly, truly much I hated him as a player. It's an almost surreal feeling to just cringe, wince, and hate seeing a player on 'your' team gets a hit... but I remember feeling that when Neifi would.
   4. Hal Chase School of Professionalism Posted: February 15, 2014 at 07:33 PM (#4657461)
I still cannot read anything about Neifi Perez without remembering how truly, truly much I hated him as a player. It's an almost surreal feeling to just cringe, wince, and hate seeing a player on 'your' team gets a hit... but I remember feeling that when Neifi would.


I can still remember some random mid-season game where Neifi bunted right back to the pitcher with 2 outs in the ninth to end the ballgame. At that moment, I remember thinking, "Jesus, he knows how overmatched he is in this situation and hoped to catch the bastards napping."

I have visions of Neifi arriving at the ballpark in 2005, seeing his name on the lineup card and throwing his hands in the air as if to say "WTF?"
   5. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: February 15, 2014 at 09:28 PM (#4657476)
I can still remember some random mid-season game where Neifi bunted right back to the pitcher with 2 outs in the ninth to end the ballgame. At that moment, I remember thinking, "Jesus, he knows how overmatched he is in this situation and hoped to catch the bastards napping."


Here is that game
   6. Jose Canusee Posted: February 15, 2014 at 09:58 PM (#4657480)
But Neifi as a “Foil”

I first read that as a "Foli", which turns out to be appropriate, can you tell who is who?
Player A 1403 G .267/297/.375 64 OPS+ (BB-Ref)
Player B 1696 G .251/.283/.309 64 OPS+
   7. Stinky Pile of Neifi Posted: February 15, 2014 at 10:47 PM (#4657487)
He really did redefine the depths of failure.
   8. McCoy Posted: February 15, 2014 at 11:18 PM (#4657494)
I absolutely could not stand when Neifi would come into a ballgame. We'd be listening to the game on the radio at work and whenever Dusty would use Neifi as a pinch hitter I would practically froth at the mouth over it. There was about a month long stretch though, where it seems Neifi could do no wrong when he would be inserted into the game. He'd get a key hit or make an important defensive play to help the Cubs win. Drove me nuts and made my fellow coworkers laugh.
   9. PreservedFish Posted: February 15, 2014 at 11:25 PM (#4657496)
I can still remember some random mid-season game where Neifi bunted right back to the pitcher with 2 outs in the ninth to end the ballgame. At that moment, I remember thinking, "Jesus, he knows how overmatched he is in this situation and hoped to catch the bastards napping."


Down 2 runs with runners on 1st and 3rd. My god.
   10. odds are meatwad is drunk Posted: February 16, 2014 at 01:57 AM (#4657523)
this just angers up the blood, but also let's not forget his partner in awfulness, jose macias
   11. Knock on any Iorg Posted: February 16, 2014 at 02:50 AM (#4657532)
"Neifi Perez on deck. Rivera leading from first, Grace holding on the bag against him. The pitch..."
   12. Bunny Vincennes Posted: February 16, 2014 at 04:07 AM (#4657541)
I still cannot read anything about Neifi Perez without remembering how truly, truly much I hated him as a player. It's an almost surreal feeling to just cringe, wince, and hate seeing a player on 'your' team gets a hit... but I remember feeling that when Neifi would.


I remember having to quit having sex when he hit a grandslam once. It was the wierdest moment ever.
   13. McCoy Posted: February 16, 2014 at 04:09 AM (#4657542)
If I had to guess from which month Neifi really pissed me off by doing well I would guess it happened in August of 2005.
   14. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: February 16, 2014 at 11:28 AM (#4657586)
he blew his crotch out

Yeowch.
   15. Publius Publicola Posted: February 16, 2014 at 11:33 AM (#4657592)
What was weirdest? Perez hitting a slam or you having sex?
   16. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: February 16, 2014 at 01:42 PM (#4657683)
My Neifi memory will always be of him cleverly sneaking home when the Expos demonstrated their ignorance of the infield fly rule, which earned a very memorable and disdainful visit to the diamond by Montreal skipper Frank Robinson.

The benefits of not being a Cubs fan, I suppose.
   17. Sweatpants Posted: February 16, 2014 at 01:57 PM (#4657694)
My Neifi memory will always be of him cleverly sneaking home when the Expos demonstrated their ignorance of the infield fly rule, which earned a very memorable and disdainful visit to the diamond by Montreal skipper Frank Robinson.

The benefits of not being a Cubs fan, I suppose.
Was it really that clever? They could have very easily tagged him out if they'd just known the rules. That was the part of that play that I never got - what was Perez doing down by home plate to begin with? Against pretty much any other team, he gets tagged out and everyone calls him an idiot.
   18. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: February 16, 2014 at 01:58 PM (#4657695)
Neifi had 4 WAR during his three years as a Cub. Total salary $5 million. Never sure where the white-hot anger came from.

And when debating Dusty's talents as a manager, consider that he wrung 4 WAR from Neifi Perez.
   19. McCoy Posted: February 16, 2014 at 02:11 PM (#4657701)
Saying the Cubs and Baker got 4 WAR out of Neifi is like saying McNamara successfully won the Vietnam War by selecting targets from the White House. Just because something is down on paper doesn't make it true.
   20. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: February 16, 2014 at 02:40 PM (#4657719)
Was it really that clever? They could have very easily tagged him out if they'd just known the rules. That was the part of that play that I never got - what was Perez doing down by home plate to begin with? Against pretty much any other team, he gets tagged out and everyone calls him an idiot.


No, he never got close enough to get tagged out until he was slipping in to score. And since the shortstop was covering second, if the Expos suddenly became aware he could have beaten a retreat to the bag. It looked to me like he followed but stayed behind the third baseman (Tatis maybe) as he came in, watched it drop and then made his move when he was sure he could score. And he obviously knew what he was doing because he immediately signaled safe to the umpire when he touched the plate.

It's possible he was a little cloudy at the moment the ball was hit, but at some point it became clear to him what was going on and he exploited it perfectly.
   21. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: February 16, 2014 at 02:59 PM (#4657726)
Saying the Cubs and Baker got 4 WAR out of Neifi is like saying McNamara successfully won the Vietnam War by selecting targets from the White House. Just because something is down on paper doesn't make it true.


So the numbers are all wrong, because your eyes told you something different? That sounds like something blogger Murray Chass would say.

I mean, we all know that defensive WAR is harder to measure than offensive WAR. So let's say he was 'really' worth 2 WAR instead of 4 (though if there is an error, it's as likely to undershoot as overshoot). 1 WAR in 2004-2006 was worth about $4 million. So that means the Cubs got $8 million production for $5 million. Still a good deal.

Heck, just for fun let's say Neifi was completely replacement level on defense. All his value came from offense. He had 0.9 oWAR for the Cubs. That's $3.6 million production for $5 million. Subpar, but still not a firing offense.

   22. McCoy Posted: February 16, 2014 at 04:37 PM (#4657746)
The Cubs got all of his offensive value over 23 games in 2004. They then reup him twice and was a replacement level hitter who also happened to play SS. And, yeah, I don't really buy that Neifi suddenly becomes a very very good defensive SS the moment he becomes a Cub. He wasn't one before and he wasn't one afterwards.
   23. madvillain Posted: February 16, 2014 at 05:02 PM (#4657761)
I don't really buy that Neifi suddenly becomes a very very good defensive SS the moment he becomes a Cub. He wasn't one before and he wasn't one afterwards.


Fielders have hot streaks just like batters, that seems to be one of the key points of advanced defensive metrics.

To quote Gus Haynes, worrying about Neifi Perez on the 2005 Cubs is like worrying about a shingle falling of your roof while the rest of it is on fire. The roster was a dumpster fire, they would have won more games if they got 2.5 WAR out of every player on it, just like Neifi gave them.

I understand the fans' frustration with him, and bunting down two with two outs is just inexcusable, but he was a solid utility guy that was made an escapegoat for the overall team's failure.
   24. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: February 16, 2014 at 05:25 PM (#4657771)
   25. odds are meatwad is drunk Posted: February 16, 2014 at 06:08 PM (#4657786)
And sadly batted in front of derek lee when he had his monster season. Would have been even better if neifi could have gotten on base at an above .300 rate.
   26. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: February 16, 2014 at 06:15 PM (#4657792)
the Derek lee season will be lumped in with seasons like mccovey's 1969 that are forgotten by all but the most dedicated number lovers
   27. McCoy Posted: February 16, 2014 at 06:20 PM (#4657794)
The roster was a dumpster fire, they would have won more games if they got 2.5 WAR out of every player on it, just like Neifi gave them.

Well, the top 8 positional players amassed about two wins short of averaging 2.4 wins so I guess it is technically true that they would have but I also don't really believe the teams would very many extra games if they were all sinkholes offensively as Neifi was. A team scoring only about 550 runs over a full season isn't going to win very many games.
   28. Ardo Posted: February 16, 2014 at 11:30 PM (#4657855)
I have fond memories of Neifi Perez because his up-the-middle diving stop in the 8th inning preserved Justin Verlander's no-hitter against the Brewers a few years back.

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