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Monday, September 17, 2012

Holmes: Five biggest disappointments of the 2012 baseball season

Theo’s Mess in Chicago

Last October when Theo Epstein signed a $18.5 million deal to be President of Baseball Operations for the Cubs, he left one storied franchise for another, intent on resurrecting a team that hasn’t won a World Series since 1908. That’s 104 years, and since Theo the Wonderkid helped erase 1 86-year championship drought in Boston, he seems to be the guy for Chicago. But while expectations for his first season were modest (no one expected a pennant in 2012), the year could have gone much better. The Cubs have the second-worst record in baseball – only the Triple-A like Astros are worse in 2012. Epstein has swept away many of the players who were on the roster when he took over, reshaping the club, but some of those old players (Sean Marshall) have helped division rivals, while new ones (David DeJesus, Chris Volstad) have proved to be duds. To be fair, Theo needs some more time, and his best prospect (Anthony Rizzo) is playing well while several young blue chips are close to being ready for Cubs uniforms. In July, though, instead of watching a revived team, Cubs fans watched as Epstein shipped most of the veterans on the team to contenders at the trade deadline. This week, Theo told reporters that ”There might be some tough things we have to tell (fans) along the way, and there might be another trading deadline in our future where we trade away 40 percent of a really good rotation.” That doesn’t bode well for 2012 either, Cubbie fans.

Phat Albert’s production

It would be easy to look at Albert Pujols’ stats through September 15 and say he’s the same old Albert: 42 doubles, 30 homers, 96 RBI. But the fact is that Pujols – like most players in their 30s who aren’t using steroids – is showing signs of slowing down. It started last season in St. Louis when his slugging percentage dropped 50 points from his 2010 level and more than 100 points from 2009. This year he’s slugging 20 points lower again, and his on-base percentage is more than 70 points below his career average. This doesn’t look like a few off-years, it looks like a typical decline for a power hitter. Possibly even a rapid decline. For now, Pujols is hitting home runs at a decent rate for a corner infielder, but the 30 he has so far in ’12 is a dozen fewer than his season average, and remember in April when he didn’t hit a home run at all? And his RBI totals are not much to get excited about, since Albert hits in the middle of a good lineup and should get 100 RBI. Obviously, considering the huge investment the Angels have made in Pujols (10 years for $254 million), the deteriorating production must be a concern. Coupled with the fact that the Halos find themselves in third place, well behind the Texas Rangers, this season has to be a disappointment.

Thanks to Ed.

Repoz Posted: September 17, 2012 at 06:29 AM | 124 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. shoewizard Posted: September 17, 2012 at 06:50 AM (#4237692)
Jose Reyes ranks 3rd in fWAR with 4.3, just .3 behind Desmond, who has the most with 4.6

In bWAR he has 2.7, which is 7th, but just 0.4 behind 1st place Hardy who has 3.1

Whats with bWAR for SS so much lower than fWAR anyway ?
   2. McCoy Posted: September 17, 2012 at 07:06 AM (#4237693)
Well, fangraphs does use a lower replacement level.
   3. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: September 17, 2012 at 07:33 AM (#4237698)
1. Detroit.
2. Detroit.
3. Detroit.
4. Detroit.
5. Did I mention Detroit?
   4. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: September 17, 2012 at 07:38 AM (#4237699)
The Cubs look very out of place on that list. Didn't we all know they were going to suck and they've added a pretty good looking player in Rizzo and for better or worse tied up Castro for an extended period. They aren't great yet but it seems like despite the record they are in better shape than they were 12 months ago.
   5. ColonelTom Posted: September 17, 2012 at 08:20 AM (#4237709)
But the Fightin’ Phils have rapidly turned into the Agin’ Phils this season. Other than Hunter Pence, every one of their regulars is over 30, and they all pretty much looked like it, even Jimmy Rollins.

Missing from the list: the demise of fact-checking in modern media.
   6. McCoy Posted: September 17, 2012 at 08:25 AM (#4237712)
How are the Cubs in better shape than in September of 2011?
   7. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 17, 2012 at 08:28 AM (#4237713)
This list is... interesting.

Pujols's OPS+ (142) is within range of his 2011 OPS+ (149), so how could you be surprised?

Reyes is repeating his career averages instead of his career year, so how could you be surprised?

The Phillies are listed... but they might make the playoffs despite losing Utley and Howard for a chunk of the year.

The Cubs were expected to suck.

The Red Sox weren't, but the fact that Bobby V is a clown was well known.

   8. zfan Posted: September 17, 2012 at 08:33 AM (#4237716)
The Cubs are in better shape because they are out from under several contracts, added a couple of impact prospects in Almora and Soler, and developed Samardzija into a #3 starter. In other words, better position to improve in the next few years, now that this nadir is behind them.

And, regarding the article, DeJesus has hardly been a failure. He has a .356 OBA, quite good for a leadoff hitter these days, and Fangraphs has him worth $7.8M in value, even with a negative defensive WAR, which is a bit questionable to me. He has an .839 OPS against righties, and anyone who thought he would hit lefties hasn't been watching the last few years. He's a lousy fantasy player--no SB, no power, and few runs score in this lineup--but a solid platoon outfielder who brings plate discipline and defense to a team that needed both.
   9. shoewizard Posted: September 17, 2012 at 08:37 AM (#4237720)
Pretty much my thoughts as well Ray. I focused on Reyes because I was being given #### by a guy on a D Backs board a while back because I suggested the D Backs may be better off rolling the dice on a guy like Reyes than giving money and rosters spots to the assorted veteran collection that Kevin Towers seems to favor. Yes, Reyes hasn't repeated career year, but he's been good overall, and STILL can have another great season or two.
   10. McCoy Posted: September 17, 2012 at 08:37 AM (#4237721)
So the Cubs in November of 2011 couldn't plan for 2013 and beyond because Carlos Zambrano had one more year left on his contract?
   11. Greg K Posted: September 17, 2012 at 08:40 AM (#4237726)
The Phillies one may be a bit premature. They still face long odds, but there's a chance to salvage their season yet.
   12. Chris Fluit Posted: September 17, 2012 at 08:42 AM (#4237728)
Agreed. The Pujols comment would have made sense in May but not now.

Reyes Is having a typical year; he's even second in stolen bases at the moment. So the problem is more ill advised expectations than poor performance.

And the Cubs were likewise expected to be bad.

The only ones that make sense are the Red Sox and the Phillies.
   13. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: September 17, 2012 at 08:47 AM (#4237733)
if one is looking at the angels how do you point the finger at albert with santana and haren stinking it up?
   14. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: September 17, 2012 at 08:53 AM (#4237736)
what about the toronto hitting coach? you have a lot of guys with a history of success and a lot of .230ish batting averages.
   15. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: September 17, 2012 at 08:55 AM (#4237738)
But the Fightin’ Phils have rapidly turned into the Agin’ Phils this season. Other than Hunter Pence, every one of their regulars is over 30, and they all pretty much looked like it, even Jimmy Rollins.

Corrected sentence: Other than Kevin Frandsen, Dom Brown, and John Mayberry Jr., every one of their regulars is over 30, and they all pretty much look like it, except Carlos Ruiz, and Erik Kratz. Well, Erik Kratz looks pretty old, because he's bald, but don't laugh because he's our nominee for Rookie of the Year.
   16. DL from MN Posted: September 17, 2012 at 09:01 AM (#4237743)
The Twins pitching staff has been my biggest disappointment. Their top 6 starters going into the season have been either injured or horrible. Scott Diamond has been a welcome addition though he's regressing. It's been a long season.
   17. Greg K Posted: September 17, 2012 at 09:11 AM (#4237753)
what about the toronto hitting coach? you have a lot of guys with a history of success and a lot of .230ish batting averages.

I was about to suggest the Jays belong somewhere on the list...but was worried that maybe that was me being a bit too insular as a Jays fan.

I'm not sure if that's entirely accurate though...
Lind, Arencibia, Cooper, Davis, Thames are all guys who have struggled, but I would argue they're hitting about as well as anyone could reasonably have expected them to in April. The Jays problem has more been the fact that they've played a lot of guys who aren't very good.

Yunel Escobar and Kelly Johnson have had disappointing years - though for both of them these kinds of seasons are nothing new.

Encarnacion has obviously been far better than could have been hoped...Bautista was roughly as good as I expected before he got hurt (good, but not the monster he's been the last couple years). Lawrie maybe undershot the expectations he set at the end of last year, but I think he had an ok season and am not worried.

Rasmus I can see as exhibiting a failure to develop.

The offence has not been good, but I think it was always going to be a "we'll be average if everything breaks right" kind of lineup anyway. They weren't all that great last year (94 team OPS+ in 2011, 92 in 2012), and it was roughly the same bunch of guys (full season of Johnson in for Hill, and more Rasmus at the expense of Thames). I think it's a roster problem more than a coaching problem.

I think the big disappointment in Toronto was the pitching.
Perhaps more injuries than a team normally deals with, but also some real troubling developments from the guys who didn't get hurt. Romero seems to have completely forgotten how to pitch, Alvarez went from low-strikeout rate to no-strikeout rate, Drabek looks less and less like a pitcher every time I see him. The only bright spots were Morrow before he got hurt, Carlos Villaneauva again being great in emergency duty, and Hutchison holding his own during an early promotion.
   18. zonk Posted: September 17, 2012 at 09:35 AM (#4237773)
Agree on both the silliness of including Pujols and the Cubs on this list...

I do think it will bring a bevy of interesting offseason columns if the Pujols-less Cardinals make the playoffs while the Pujols-laden Angels do not -- and yes, I also think that most columnists will completely miss the reason WHY the Angels miss (if they do).

As for the Cubs, the season went about as well as could be expected. With the defensive rise of Barney, the fine first year by Rizzo, and Castro quietly having a better 2nd half than first -- the Cubs figure to have 3/4 of the IF settled for the near term. Even if Castro remains in neutral and stays frustratingly Templeton-esque -- I think the deal he signed is team-friendly and he's certainly a plus player at a premium position. I likewise think Wellington Castillo will transmorgify into Geo Soto without too much trouble. As others have noted, DeJesus worked out just fine. Brett Jackson has shown enough flashes that I'm fine with him in CF - yeah, those Ks are scary high, but he's shown decent power and his BB rate has carried over fairly well. Offensively, the Cubs really look to be only a major-league caliber 3B away from being competently mid-level. If anyone -- or even any two -- of Rizzo, Castro, or Jackson can take a step forward next year, I think the Cubs can be mid-pack offensively.... that's good enough, for now.

It's on the mound that things really look bleak -- at this point, I'm almost inclined to just keep Garza and lock him up. BPJ has rounded into a decent mid-rotation option, yes... but beyond that? Wastelands.... Travis Wood had a decent little late summer run, but he's the only other guy that I see even having a chance of being a rotation option. Russell looks like a solid bullpen lefty and the Maholm toss-in (Jaye Chapman) seems to have a live arm, but I see no more than maybe 5 arms locked in for next years staff (and that includes Marmol). I'm intrigued by Arodys Vizcaino, but figure you won't see him till midseason if at all next year.

Theo got snakebit a bit with a couple of vets vetoing deals and his prime chit being hurt at the deadline -- but I think Christian Villanueva and the aforementioned Vizcaino are both keepers.

I expect the offseason shopping this year will be again in the bargain bin -- I wouldn't mind taking a run at Greinke -- but other than that (pending a few option decisions, most of which I would expect to be picked up), I'd be happy with another that.

I'm happy with Theo's direction - no way I'd call his first year a disappointment...
   19. Tom Nawrocki Posted: September 17, 2012 at 09:49 AM (#4237786)
I can understand why Pujols was included. His 2011 season was the worst of his career up to that point, and there was a lot of discussion as to whether it was simply an off year or the start of his long-term decline. His 2012 season seems to have answered that question in the worst possible way for the Angels.
   20. McCoy Posted: September 17, 2012 at 10:24 AM (#4237815)
I seriously doubt Barney will ever have a season that bWAR likes as much as this one. Basically everything had to go right for Barney on the basepath and on the field for him to look this good according to bWAR.
   21. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: September 17, 2012 at 10:38 AM (#4237828)
There was no reason -- zero -- necessitating a full stripdown of the Cubs. The second wild card was eminently attainable.

Something is going on behind the scenes with ownership. They must want to pocket a bunch of money.
   22. Shredder Posted: September 17, 2012 at 10:38 AM (#4237830)
His 2012 season seems to have answered that question in the worst possible way for the Angels.
Call me optimistic, but I'm not so sure that's the case. I obviously have no evidence for it, but watching him play every day in the first couple months of the season, he just looked like a guy who really wanted to get off to a good start with his new team, and when he didn't he just kept trying harder and harder, and failing more and more. Then people stopped paying attention, the Angels called up Trout who started getting more of the ink, and Albert turned back into Albert for the last four months or so. If you look at what he's done since his lowest point around May 8, he's put up 308/371/592. Better than 2011, not quite as good as 2010. I'm really interested to see what he does next year with a full season in Anaheim behind him.

That said, I wouldn't have put him on this list individually. I would have included the Angels as a team. The starting pitching has been much worse than expected, and the bullpen, as it's been more or less since Bud Black left, has been awful. Combine that with Albert's struggles and a month of Wells over Trout, and this team has been a monumental disappointment.
   23. McCoy Posted: September 17, 2012 at 10:47 AM (#4237841)
There was no reason -- zero -- necessitating a full stripdown of the Cubs. The second wild card was eminently attainable.

Something is going on behind the scenes with ownership. They must want to pocket a bunch of money.


I would think the argument against that is that it isn't likely that both Theo and Jed would have jumped ship if the Ricketts had said they wanted to slash payroll for non-baseball reasons. If the Ricketts are like McCourt or something I doubt they'd take the jobs.

I think for the most part Theo wants to tear down the Hendry team and build his own. The first couple of years he is going to get a pass so he can tear it down and build it up again the way he wants. If he simply went the Hendry route of putting a new coat of paint on the old house he'd likely run into trouble in a few years and wouldn't be allowed to rebuild. It's better to be bad at the beginning then in the middle. Being bad in the middle usually turns the middle into the end real quick.

Having given my theory as to why Theo did what he did that doesn't mean I agree with his approach. I think he could have contended this year and put himself in a position to have a younger and better team for the future.
   24. ColonelTom Posted: September 17, 2012 at 11:13 AM (#4237862)
The author's comment on Rollins is dead wrong as well. 2012 has been a typical J-Roll year. His 97 OPS+ has matched his career OPS+ before this season, he's still an excellent base-stealer (30-for-35), and he's played solid defense. He doesn't get on base enough to lead off, but that's not exactly a new development. He's still an above-average SS who has more than earned his paycheck this year.
   25. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: September 17, 2012 at 11:30 AM (#4237873)
Yeah! Rollins has been good this year! Was that sentence written in June? I guess not, because then he would have counted Juan Pierre as someone who was over 30 but playing well.
   26. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 17, 2012 at 11:41 AM (#4237885)
I can understand why Pujols was included. His 2011 season was the worst of his career up to that point, and there was a lot of discussion as to whether it was simply an off year or the start of his long-term decline. His 2012 season seems to have answered that question in the worst possible way for the Angels.


Ok, Tom, that's fair enough.

I would say then that one can't really be "surprised" at this year from Pujols, but they could well be "disappointed" in it.

If he is now a 145 or 150 OPS+ guy, well, that still plays, and if you're a true 145-150 OPS+ guy you can still bounce up to a 160-165 on occasion.

Or down to 135.

I expect his next 5 years to net a 135-140 OPS+.
   27. zonk Posted: September 17, 2012 at 11:41 AM (#4237887)
There was no reason -- zero -- necessitating a full stripdown of the Cubs. The second wild card was eminently attainable.

Something is going on behind the scenes with ownership. They must want to pocket a bunch of money.


Well, Joe Ricketts wants his own Super PAC, so there's that...

But I absolutely, positively, wholeheartedly disagree about there being "no reason" -- I mean, come one.

The Cubs finished 5th and lost 87 games in 2010. They finished 5th against and lost 91 games in 2011. The core of the team was old and getting older. If that's not a stripdown candidate, than what is? They had a couple of unexpected -- considering age and health -- bounceback years from Dempster (pre-trade) and Soriano, but banking on that this past offseason would have been foolish. Marlon Byrd looked - and turned out to be - cooked. Zambrano continued his slide to Victor flavored Zambrano. DeJesus reasonably replaced Fukudome, but that 'replacement' wasn't exactly earth-shattering. I was a bit surprised that A-Ram proved to be pretty much the same player he's been since his 20s, but I wouldn't have banked on that, either.

What's more -- even if the Cubs had spent their way to a 71-91 to 91-71 turn-around, they would still be a flawed team without a true #1 SP, a bullpen that was highly suspect (Marmol was terrible last year, too), and an offense that even if they had kept A-Ram, wasn't going to frighten anyone.

If that's not a team ripe for rebuild, I don't know what is...
   28. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 17, 2012 at 12:04 PM (#4237908)
Call me optimistic, but I'm not so sure that's the case. I obviously have no evidence for it, but watching him play every day in the first couple months of the season, he just looked like a guy who really wanted to get off to a good start with his new team, and when he didn't he just kept trying harder and harder, and failing more and more.


The problem with this analysis is not that it's not plausible; it's certainly plausible. (I guess. I don't believe that major league players are affected in this way, but I concede it wouldn't be irrational to think so.) Still, the problem is that there are any number of other things that would also be "plausible." Maybe Pujols is going through some personal issues, for example. Etc.

And if he "wanted to get off to a good start with his new team," what explains his slow start in 2011?

The most plausible explanation to me is that he is a player who has declined from his peak. He's not the horrible hitter we saw in April and May, but down stretches like that are going to be coming more often -- even if they don't last for quite as long and are not quite as bad.

Another point which I think is relevant: I think we can fairly conclude that he has declined. I don't think we can fairly conclude yet that he is "in decline," i.e., that he will keep trending down from this point. It's true that his trend for the last few years has been consistently down, but I think he will probably stabilize at this new plateau for a few years, give or take. Kind of like Bobby Abreu came down from his prime and managed to stay at a 120 OPS+ for years thereafter.

The problem for the Angels is not so much that he might now be a 145 OPS+ hitter -- it's that we are not sure whether he simply "has declined" and will stay here, or is "still declining" and things will get worse.
   29. zonk Posted: September 17, 2012 at 12:12 PM (#4237917)

The problem for the Angels is not so much that he might now be a 145 OPS+ hitter -- it's that we are not sure whether he simply "has declined" and will stay here, or is "still declining" and things will get worse.


I hadn't really taken a close look at Pujols since mid-summer, when I assumed he had gotten back to being Pujols... but he's actually having a pretty dreadful September. Sample-size, sure - I have to say that at this point, I'm glad my team doesn't have that contract - even if Pujols essentially puts up a couple of years of ~140 OPS+, followed by a couple 120, then a slow fade in late-stage Abreudom.
   30. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 17, 2012 at 12:14 PM (#4237920)
I hadn't really taken a close look at Pujols since mid-summer, when I assumed he had gotten back to being Pujols... but he's actually having a pretty dreadful September.


Yes.
   31. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 17, 2012 at 12:26 PM (#4237928)
Worth noting that the Angels' home park is playing as an extreme pitchers park right now (92). To put that in perspective, Pujols's .865 OPS gets him up to a 142 OPS+; Trout's .957 OPS gets him up to a 169 OPS+; and Callaspo's .687 OPS gets him around league average, a 97 OPS+.

Meanwhile, just picking a more normal park, Toronto's park is at a 104, and it leaves Encarnacion's .947 OPS good for "only" a 152 OPS+.

My point? I don't really have one :-) No, I guess it's that if the park factor for the Angels' park is a bit low, Pujols's OPS isn't even worth a 142.

   32. zonk Posted: September 17, 2012 at 12:29 PM (#4237931)
He's on track to have his first year since his rookie season with more K's than BB's, too... 48 BBs -- total, too, 15 of those are IBBs -- yikes!
   33. Olaf Posted: September 17, 2012 at 12:31 PM (#4237934)
Well, we all know that the Angels overpaid for Albert, so that is going to get him singled out. It's been a really strange year in Anaheim--several times in the year it looked like they were getting it all together, only to just backslide.

Instead of disappointments, how about out-and-out flops? The writer actually led off with Reyes/Marlins, with BoSox listed fifth. I think the Sox are the biggest disappointment and the biggest flop.

Not clear that the writer is actually ranking 'em. So, guys, what are the "real" disappointments, and how do you rank 'em??
   34. BDC Posted: September 17, 2012 at 12:46 PM (#4237955)
The Angels actually have a better winning percentage in 2012, so far, than they did in 2011. That seems nuts, but it's .544 as opposed to .531, a slight improvement. They've picked up 2½ games on the Rangers in the standings (while losing 15½ on Oakland). It's hard to argue that Pujols's production in 2012 has hurt them any; it's just really difficult to improve a ballclub, even by adding a great player or two. So much else can still go wrong.

   35. AROM Posted: September 17, 2012 at 12:51 PM (#4237964)
Drabek looks less and less like a pitcher every time I see him.


If you've seen him recently my guess is he doesn't look even remotely like a pitcher, being in the early stages of recovery from Tommy John surgery.

1. Detroit.
2. Detroit.
3. Detroit.
4. Detroit.
5. Did I mention Detroit?


How is Detroit, with a chance today to be one back of the division lead, even remotely a disappointment? Sure, Cabrera and Fielder were expected to hit, which they have done while missing few if any games. Did anyone really think this team was going to play like the 2001 Mariners, with a 3B playing short, an outfielder on second, and a pair of DH's at the infield corners?
   36. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: September 17, 2012 at 12:54 PM (#4237968)
Marlins are a clear flop. A massive, massive flop as are the Red Sox. I've been a little disappointed by the Royals in that I thought they would have the season the Pirates are having this year. If they had had a better start maybe they would have brought up Myers for Francoeur and made a run at a winning record. Ah well. I don't like the Royals FO or ownership but Royals fans deserve a winner. The hyped tandem of Smoak and Montero in Seattle has been a bit of a flop, too.
   37. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 17, 2012 at 12:58 PM (#4237976)
I'm with AROM. The Tigers are basically right where I expected them to be. I felt people were overrating them in March.
   38. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: September 17, 2012 at 01:00 PM (#4237985)
Yeah, I don't see where the Tigers have been disappointing. Ryan Raburn and Brennan Boesch have been disappointing. Justin Verlander and Jose Valverde are not going to get as many Cy Young votes as they did last year. That's about it.

Alex Avila is no longer an MVP candidate, but his career year has been replaced by Austin Jackson's career year.
   39. BDC Posted: September 17, 2012 at 01:03 PM (#4237989)
What do people think of the Indians? They've regressed to where they'd been, after nearly reaching .500 last year. I see them a couple of times a year; they have likeable young players and look like a major-league lineup. But I also usually see the Rangers shell their pitching heavily. I guess they can't really be said to have flopped this year; the trend was not all that hopeful.
   40. AROM Posted: September 17, 2012 at 01:05 PM (#4237994)
There was no reason -- zero -- necessitating a full stripdown of the Cubs. The second wild card was eminently attainable.

Something is going on behind the scenes with ownership. They must want to pocket a bunch of money.


Really? Dempster and Soto were traded only after the team fell hopelessly out of it. In the offseason they dealt Zambrano and Marshall, and declined to resign Ramirez and Pena. Pena has been worse than the Cubs 2012 first basemen. Ramirez has been much better than what they've gotten from 3B. Zambrano with an 88 ERA+ doesn't help. Marshall has given the Reds excellent work in his 56 innings.

There's no way this group plus a 3B and lefty middle reliever comes anywhere close to the 2nd wild card. I guess they could have made a run if they kept those guys and broke open the bank for Pujols and Darvish.
   41. Shredder Posted: September 17, 2012 at 01:07 PM (#4237997)
And if he "wanted to get off to a good start with his new team," what explains his slow start in 2011?
His slow start in 2011 actually consisted of about 10 games, so I'll say sample size. From April 12 until he got drilled in the wrist on June 19 he went 300/377/546. Those ten games cost him 20 points of average, 22 points of OBP, and 46 points of SLG. Give him those two weeks of DL time back and he probably reaches 40 homers and 110 RBIs.
   42. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: September 17, 2012 at 01:12 PM (#4238004)

The Tigers are disappointing only in that they're in second place. The rest of the division looked pretty weak coming into the season.
   43. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: September 17, 2012 at 01:13 PM (#4238006)
But I also usually see the Rangers shell their pitching heavily.

Seven Cleveland pitchers have started at least 5 games this year. One of them has an ERA+ better than 80; that one is Zach McAllister, and his ERA+ is 93. Suffice it to say, the Rangers are not the only team to shell the Indians' pitching this year.

The Indians have been disappointing to me, at least, because I picked them to win the Central. Mostly, I did this because I thought the Tigers were being massively overhyped and the Indians seemed like the best alternative. It appears that my thought process may have been partially correct, while simultaneously being hideously flawed.
   44. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: September 17, 2012 at 01:15 PM (#4238012)
The Tigers are an interesting case. The RLYW preseason predictions had them at 86-76, and they're currently on pace for 86 wins. So from that point of view they are absolutely not a disappointment. However, those 86 wins were 4 more than the #2 projected team. So it's disappointing that the Tigers aren't winning the division, but that disappointment is entirely because the White Sox are better than they were projected to be.

And a coke to #39 (edit: and 43) -- the Indians have to be considered a disappointment. The RLYW prediction blowout had them at 82 wins and a 40% chance to make the playoffs. Instead they're a game ahead of the worst record in the league. That's a disaster.
   45. Shredder Posted: September 17, 2012 at 01:16 PM (#4238014)
The Angels actually have a better winning percentage in 2012, so far, than they did in 2011. That seems nuts, but it's .544 as opposed to .531, a slight improvement. They've picked up 2½ games on the Rangers in the standings (while losing 15½ on Oakland). It's hard to argue that Pujols's production in 2012 has hurt them any; it's just really difficult to improve a ballclub, even by adding a great player or two. So much else can still go wrong.
Take salary completely out of the equation and his production has absolutely been a net positive over 2011. It's a sign of how bad their pitching is when take 2011's lineup (which wasn't great, but wasn't awful), you add in Kendrys Morales (+2.2 oWAR), Mike Trout (+7.3 oWAR), Mark Trumbo (+.7 oWAR), (+.8 oWAR), Chris Iannetta (+.9 oWAR over Mathis), and Pujols, yet they're only barely ahead of last year's pace. The rotation (aside from Weaver) and the bullpen have been MAJOR disappointments. Wilson, Haren, and Santana have been brutal (though Haren had a solid first two months). You also have to factor in really, really awful managing.
   46. The District Attorney Posted: September 17, 2012 at 01:29 PM (#4238029)
In the offseason, people did seem to be pretty much taking it for granted that Detroit would win the division. They might not do that, so that would certainly be disappointing. But I think that the fact that they were the one consensus division winner kind of masked the fact that they weren't generally regarded as a powerhouse either. I don't think most people would have been terribly shocked to hear that the White Sox would challenge them.

The Red Sox clearly are a big disappointment. The Marlins are getting less publicity for essentially the same story as the Red Sox (high expectations for team led by loudmouth first-year manager, manager immediately loses the team, bad play & loudmouthing snowballs.) It's certainly not primarily Jose Reyes' fault. They're very young to pick on, but Eric Hosmer and Dustin Ackley have been disappointments this season.
   47. Juan Uribe Marching and Chowder Society Posted: September 17, 2012 at 01:34 PM (#4238038)
matt kemp's injury plagued season is pretty disappointing after his healthy april. he literally ran into a wall a few weeks ago and is like 4-for-60 since.
   48. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: September 17, 2012 at 02:02 PM (#4238070)
But I think that the fact that they were the one consensus division winner kind of masked the fact that they weren't generally regarded as a powerhouse either.

Not here, anyway, but some people thought they were - at least one ESPN talking head (I think it was Kurkjian but wouldn't swear to it) said that he thought they'd score 1000 runs this year. Now, that was obviously laughable for a team with Detroit's corner outfielders, but still, someone said it.

Which of course raises the point that to determine how disappointing something is, you have to control for the expectations of the person answering the question to begin with.
   49. dr. scott Posted: September 17, 2012 at 02:07 PM (#4238074)
Speaking of Hunter P (who my wife now refers to at popop Pence), his rate stats since joining the Giants have been pretty bad (.230/.301/.398). But he apparently picks when to hit quite well..... 34 RBIs in only 38 hits.... That must be some kind of obscure record and I missed the Fangraphs article on it.
   50. McCoy Posted: September 17, 2012 at 02:11 PM (#4238080)
The difference between Aramis and whatever the Cubs have put at third has been pretty large so far this year. It is at least a 60 run difference right there. Prince Fielder over a full season is a 20 run difference. Having CJ Wilson in the rotation and keeping Paul Maholm and Ryan Dempster on the team adds up to a 51 run difference. Add those up and you get a 131 run difference and a pyth record of around 74-72 and who knows what would have happened at the trade deadline. A 74-72 record would put them at 2.5 games back of the wild card if no other records changed.
   51. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: September 17, 2012 at 02:39 PM (#4238113)
Based on this thread I have to imagine that the general Cubs fan reaction to re-signing Ramirez would have been a combination of dismay that the new management team was not changing things, and dismay at Ramirez inevitably missing most of the contract with injuries. A lot of people say they will miss him, but also say it's time for him to go and that they assume the Brewers will be putting him at 1B quite soon.
   52. Tippecanoe Posted: September 17, 2012 at 02:50 PM (#4238130)
Spending $300M on free agents in the hope that you can be 74-72 is pointless. You hire Theo to get you to 98 wins, not 83.
   53. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: September 17, 2012 at 02:51 PM (#4238131)
Also even if they were 1 game above .500 at the trade deadline or whatever, they probably would have traded Dempster anyway.
   54. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 17, 2012 at 02:51 PM (#4238132)
This is the most disappointing disappointing list ever.

And clearly Drabek is most disappointing.
   55. McCoy Posted: September 17, 2012 at 02:58 PM (#4238142)
Spending $300M on free agents in the hope that you can be 74-72 is pointless. You hire Theo to get you to 98 wins, not 83

And that is only possible by losing 100 games a season for multiple seasons?

The point of baseball is to win the world series not win 87 games or 95 games or 120 games. Theo could have put the Cubs into position to possibly win the WS this year and then build on that as well. They could then be in position to win the WS next year as well, and so on and so on. The Cubs are a large market team they are not the Pirates they are not the Brewers. They can build and compete year in and year out. Other large market teams do it and the Cubs could have done it as well.
   56. AROM Posted: September 17, 2012 at 03:07 PM (#4238162)
The difference between Aramis and whatever the Cubs have put at third has been pretty large so far this year. It is at least a 60 run difference right there.


Seems too much. On bbref Ramirez is +25. Stewart/Valbuena/Vitters are combined -23.
   57. Good cripple hitter Posted: September 17, 2012 at 03:12 PM (#4238170)
It's clearly not as bad as the Red Sox or Marlins, but the Jays season has been pretty disappointing. They were projected as a .500 team and they'll finish 8 games or so under that. That's not that much of a difference but there's a long long list of disappointments.

I flipped through ZIPS' projections for this year, the following players underperformed their OPS+ projections:

Bautista (158/136, season ending wrist injury), Lawrie (119 vs 97, also injured), Lind (106/86, demoted to AAA and outrighted off the roster for a while), Rasmus (105/90, played through groin injury), Yunel Escobar (99/73), Kelly Johnson (101/80), Ben Francisco (98/82, traded), Eric Thames (96/75, traded), JP Arencibia (90/86), Anthony Gose (79/65). And that's understating things a bit because their bench for most of the year was horribly constructed and almost completely useless (a three man bench of Mathis, Vizquel, and whoever else managed to get nailed there).

Throw in Romero's imitation of Pat Hengen's 2004 season, the "three starting pitchers on the 60 day DL in the span of a week" good times, the bizarre and embarrassing John Farrell situation, and their slow decline into completely unwatchable baseball, and this has been a disappointing season.

I was reading Bill James' final abstract a month ago, and one of the team essays talks about good organizations being able to have productive losing seasons. Ever since I've read that I've been trying to figure out what the Jays have gotten out of this season, and I can't really think of anything outside of Encarnacion's breakout. I'd feel a lot better about the Jays future chances if Rasmus or Escobar or ever Lawrie had hit better.
   58. dr. scott Posted: September 17, 2012 at 03:12 PM (#4238173)
Spending $300M on free agents in the hope that you can be 74-72 is pointless. You hire Theo to get you to 98 wins, not 83.


Interestingly

A) this is what the dodgers did mid season, and it didn't really work out.
B) if they did get the extra wins some would have come from teams in the wild card chase. given the sorry state of the NL this year they probably make the second wild card 2 games over .500.
   59. Comic Strip Person Posted: September 17, 2012 at 03:20 PM (#4238190)
His slow start in 2011 actually consisted of about 10 games, so I'll say sample size. From April 12 until he got drilled in the wrist on June 19 he went 300/377/546. Those ten games cost him 20 points of average, 22 points of OBP, and 46 points of SLG. Give him those two weeks of DL time back and he probably reaches 40 homers and 110 RBIs.


Except that's not really getting at it, either. You're leaving out the 26 game homerless streak that was most of May. His early season seems to have had two really cold streaks and two hot streaks:

March 31-April 11: 150/222/225
April 12-April 23: 341/388/773. 6 HRs in 11 games, and it looks like Albert is back. His OPS is at 820. But then...
April 24-May 22: 284/368/324. No HRs, and only 4 2Bs, in 27 games. His seasonal OPS is now at 750. And then...
May 23-June 19: 298/383/681. Looks like the real Albert is back. Seasonal OPS now at 855, and then comes the wrist break.

After Albert returned, he went 318/375/579, but more to the point, he didn't have any big dips the rest of the way. The remainder of his season his numbers slowly climb upward.

But Albert didn't start to really look like Albert until late May. I don't know how streaky a hitter he's been throughout his career (he seemed to pretty consistently kill the Cubs), but those two droughts - especially the month of no power, which looks a lot like the start to this season (194/237/269 through May 4, 27 games) - seem like harbingers of doom. DOOM!
   60. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: September 17, 2012 at 03:21 PM (#4238191)

The point of baseball is to win the world series not win 87 games or 95 games or 120 games. Theo could have put the Cubs into position to possibly win the WS this year and then build on that as well. They could then be in position to win the WS next year as well, and so on and so on. The Cubs are a large market team they are not the Pirates they are not the Brewers. They can build and compete year in and year out. Other large market teams do it and the Cubs could have done it as well.


I think the point that they could build and compete at the same time is generally true but I don't think the Cubs were ready for that. It's not like this was a roster that needed tweaks, they needed a massive correction and splashing money like crazy is a high risk strategy that would have been a killer if it did not pay off in year one.
   61. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: September 17, 2012 at 03:23 PM (#4238196)
the bizarre and embarrassing John Farrell situation


As a Red Sox fan this interests me. Around Boston the consensus is that the Sox are going to pursue Farrell in the off-season and that would be the right move. When you throw in a phrase like "bizarre and embarrassing" that evokes thoughts of Bobby Valentine. What has Farrell done to reach that level? (I'm not being snarky, I haven't paid much attention to the Blue Jays this year and when they play the Sox he seems competent enough).
   62. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 17, 2012 at 03:24 PM (#4238197)
I was reading Bill James' final abstract a month ago, and one of the team essays talks about good organizations being able to have productive losing seasons.


I guess he means like playing Scott Podsednik and giving starts to the pitcher who strikes out 2 batters per 9 innings, and continuing to fritter around with a clown manager who shouldn't have been hired and will be fired.
   63. phredbird Posted: September 17, 2012 at 03:31 PM (#4238211)
matt kemp's injury plagued season is pretty disappointing after his healthy april. he literally ran into a wall a few weeks ago and is like 4-for-60 since.


injuries happen, but yeah i guess i'd call it a disappointment before i'd say he flopped.

same with the cardinals; i think they have disappointed this year -- they looked pretty good on paper in april.
   64. McCoy Posted: September 17, 2012 at 03:32 PM (#4238212)
It's not like this was a roster that needed tweaks, they needed a massive correction and splashing money like crazy is a high risk strategy that would have been a killer if it did not pay off in year one.

What they are doing now is a high risk strategy that we know won't pay off in year one, or year two, and probably year three.
   65. Tippecanoe Posted: September 17, 2012 at 03:43 PM (#4238231)
The Cubs are a large market team they are not the Pirates they are not the Brewers. They can build and compete year in and year out. Other large market teams do it and the Cubs could have done it as well.


With this I fully agree. But the veteran core of Dempster, Soriano, Marshall, Maholm, Zambrano, and Aramis was not the starting point. The Cubs can do it, but they made a decision -- a rational one -- to start over. I really don't think they'll lose 100 games any more.
   66. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: September 17, 2012 at 03:44 PM (#4238235)
Speaking of Hunter P (who my wife now refers to at popop Pence), his rate stats since joining the Giants have been pretty bad (.230/.301/.398). But he apparently picks when to hit quite well..... 34 RBIs in only 38 hits.... That must be some kind of obscure record and I missed the Fangraphs article on it.


I checked and sadly there isn't a record in there. Pence has a .89:1 RBI:Hits ratio -- if you limit to an OPS of 700 or less and 35+ RBIs you find that in 1931 Phil Todt had 44 RBIs on 48 hits (.92:1) with a 684 OPS. In Pence's defense, Todt played for a team with an OBP 30 points better than Pence's Giants. But that ignores Pence's .55:1 ratio in Houston, and the fact that I didn't search other split seasons.
   67. SteveM. Posted: September 17, 2012 at 03:47 PM (#4238242)
And that is only possible by losing 100 games a season for multiple seasons?

The point of baseball is to win the world series not win 87 games or 95 games or 120 games. Theo could have put the Cubs into position to possibly win the WS this year and then build on that as well. They could then be in position to win the WS next year as well, and so on and so on. The Cubs are a large market team they are not the Pirates they are not the Brewers. They can build and compete year in and year out. Other large market teams do it and the Cubs could have done it as well.


While I am not crazy at the neglect of the major league team this season, it is clear to me that for next season, they have to add some starting pitching as their is no talent at all the Iowa or Tennessee that can help. Whether its taking a chance on somebody like Roy Oswalt on a one year contract loaded with incentives, or trying the bargain bin again like they did Maholm. They need at a minimum two SP's, and three would be better. Other then Garza and Shark, you have nothing but questions, filler and dreck.
   68. The District Attorney Posted: September 17, 2012 at 03:52 PM (#4238252)
I was reading Bill James' final abstract a month ago, and one of the team essays talks about good organizations being able to have productive losing seasons. Ever since I've read that I've been trying to figure out what the Jays have gotten out of this season, and I can't really think of anything outside of Encarnacion's breakout.
Yeah, I was thinking about this when I was thinking about the Royals. I expected them to be close to .500 this year, so they're disappointing in that sense. But on the other hand, other than Hosmer, a lot has gone right. Salvador Perez has been super, Billy Butler has shown more power than ever, Alex Gordon has proven that 2011 wasn't a fluke, Mike Moustakas has been solid, Johnny Giovatella tore up AAA again and has finally gotten the 2B job, Wil Myers was the Minor League Player of the Year... Their pitchers got hurt, but I suppose you can argue that's better than them pitching and stinking. The team has a disappointing record, but in terms of the progress of the franchise, I don't think they're a disappointment.

As we Met fans have discussed a few times, you can say similar things about the Mets, who have had some positive developments (Wright's return to superstardom, Dickey's ascent to same, Harvey looking good, Murphy being able to handle 2B, etc.) Their bad record is primarily due to holes in the roster that were acknowledged going in. So overall, there are fewer problems to address this offseason than there were last offseason.

The Cubs have a much paler version of that narrative, as I'm not sure anything happened this year that would substantially improve your opinion of the franchise's long-term future other than Rizzo and Samardzija playing well, and the latter is no ace. But, that's better than nothing, and I don't think I'd ever recommend that any team construct itself with the upside goal of winning the second wild card. That in and of itself says that the talent on hand isn't really good enough.

The Indians had a 75-87 Pythag last year, so perhaps they should have been expected to fall back anyway, but I guess one generally figures that young teams improve. Even in their case, you can identify some good things that happened: Michael Brantley has improved both his offensive and defensive value as he moves to CF, Shin-Soo Choo has regained near-star form, Jason Kipnis looks like a solid 2B. And although it might be disappointing that Carlos Santana hasn't become a superstar, how badly can you get on a catcher with a 120 OPS+? The pitching utterly collapsed -- I guess this is not all that different than the Royals in terms of the shape of the season, come to think of it, but the Royals simply have more good young hitters. The guy you've most gotta hang the "disappointing" tag on is Ubaldo Jimenez... that is just ugly.
   69. McCoy Posted: September 17, 2012 at 03:57 PM (#4238256)
With this I fully agree. But the veteran core of Dempster, Soriano, Marshall, Maholm, Zambrano, and Aramis was not the starting point. The Cubs can do it, but they made a decision -- a rational one -- to start over. I really don't think they'll lose 100 games any more.

None of whom would have been locked up long term nor blocking spots for good young prospects to fill.

Aramis has a three year reasonably priced deal and the Cubs have pretty much nobody in the system that could have played third base this year, next year, or likely in year three. Nor were there any real good option on the FA market this year or next. Keeping Aramis doesn't hurt the future or get in the way of it while it would have helped the here and now.

Alfonso Soriano is still on the team and is likely to be on the point until the Cubs cut him but again his presence isn't blocking anybody.

Zambrano had one year left on the deal and they traded him for a guy who isn't likely to be in the rotation next year. Well, he might but that would be a very bad sign.

There is absolutely no reason why Marshall couldn't or shouldn't be on a Cubs rosters. He is a good player and is likely to be a good player for awhile.

Dempster might very well come back to the Cubs next year and again his presence did not hinder any other Cub within the organization. Nor did Maholm.

They could have had a run this year and possibly next year while pumping money into their scouting dept. and signing the same international FA this year.
   70. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: September 17, 2012 at 04:04 PM (#4238268)
How is Detroit, with a chance today to be one back of the division lead, even remotely a disappointment? Sure, Cabrera and Fielder were expected to hit, which they have done while missing few if any games. Did anyone really think this team was going to play like the 2001 Mariners, with a 3B playing short, an outfielder on second, and a pair of DH's at the infield corners?


Around here in MI, yes. The local radio host said that Detroit was a cinch to win over 100 games, the only question was whether the final total would be just over or just under 110 wins. In so saying, he was throwing cold water on callers who expected between 115 and 120 wins.
   71. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: September 17, 2012 at 05:08 PM (#4238342)
Here's what I had to say about Albert back on May 15:

Through 2011: 328/420/617; 40 HR, 120 RBI in 676 PA (per season)
2012: 197/235/275; 1 HR, 12 RBI in 149 PA
Needed, rest of 2012, to match avg of 2001-11: 372/471/729; 39 HR, 108 RBI in 527 PA.

Ow. That's a 1200 OPS, folks, above 200 OPS+. Ow.

EDIT: If we plug in 527 PA of last year's production, we get back to 275/336/479, 31 HR and 92 RBI. Not bad, but no need to clear any extra space on the trophy shelf, either.


As of yesterday, he's at 282/342/524, 30 HR and 96 RBI. Again, not bad.
   72. AROM Posted: September 17, 2012 at 05:12 PM (#4238346)
Around here in MI, yes. The local radio host said that Detroit was a cinch to win over 100 games, the only question was whether the final total would be just over or just under 110 wins. In so saying, he was throwing cold water on callers who expected between 115 and 120 wins.


Tiger fantasy sounds like my APBA league. I've got a team with a 100-34 record with 28 to play. Sure, it's just a computer league, but not one known for unrealistic stats. If anything, my league is more realistic than MLB - I've never had a Barry Bonds, or a Craig Kimbrel come along and break the stats. The league record is 117 wins (second is 110) with over 30 seasons in the book. I think that record will be broken.

Basically, think Yankee payroll with Rays smarts and a bit of luck thrown in.
   73. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 17, 2012 at 05:15 PM (#4238349)
Basically, think Yankee payroll with Rays smarts and a bit of luck thrown in.

How do you get a big payroll in a sim league? Don't they always have equal salary caps?
   74. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: September 17, 2012 at 05:16 PM (#4238351)
Did anyone really think this team was going to play like the 2001 Mariners

No, we expected the Tigers to make the World Series. ;)

Yet another one-run loss today (that's, what, nine thousand in a row?), three games back with 16 to play. (And don't tell me how easy Detroit's remaining schedule is; this team couldn't beat a rookie-league squad at this point.) Yeah, that's pretty damn disappointing. For Tigers fans, that's "hide the sharp objects" disappointing.
   75. Dr. Vaux Posted: September 17, 2012 at 05:26 PM (#4238363)
It's still more that the White Sox have been better than expected.

But yes, to say that not being able to beat the Indians and Royals when the chips are down is disappointing would be a colossal understatement.
   76. zonk Posted: September 17, 2012 at 05:28 PM (#4238367)
Actually -- the Sean Marshall trade is one thing I will say was a Theo misfire.

Marshall is an damn fine reliever (if not one of the best in the NL), throws lefty but without a pronounced platoon split, and makes reasonable money. Trading him for Wood, Sappelt, and Torreyes was a mistake. Sappelt looked like a 5th OF before the trade and nothing's really changed since. I found Travis Wood moderately interesting, but I'm a lot less interested now. Torreyes looks like a lottery ticket.

I'm not saying that they should have kept Marshall all year, but a guy like that -- that's the sort of player that teams overpay for at the deadline, not in the offseason.

I'm sure the thinking was "hey - we get two major league ready players and a lottery ticket - that's a good deal for 75 IP" -- but that was a misfire. It's not like the rotation was any thinner than the bullpen.

I absolutely would have had no problem with moving Marshall at the deadline for the right package, but I think it became pretty clear halfway through spring training that it was a bad deal.
   77. cardsfanboy Posted: September 17, 2012 at 05:30 PM (#4238371)
The list has 5 things on it, and at least 3 of them aren't really disappointments.
Everyone knew the Cubs were going to suck, Theo more or less said that he wasn't going to try to compete this year, that the organization needs a complete revamp and trying to compete this year is not a smart long term decision.

Just because a team overpaid for Albert, doesn't mean he was a disappointment (unless you are an Angel fan and expected something from his peak for some reason) The Cardinals were the only team that remotely would have gotten a fair return value for Albert(at 10 for 200mil) but the Angels did parlay his coming into a big TV contract, got the team some bumps in the Q rating etc, they have done alright with Albert this year.

Jose Reyes producing the same as he always had other than his one career year last year.
   78. Good cripple hitter Posted: September 17, 2012 at 06:00 PM (#4238406)
As a Red Sox fan this interests me. Around Boston the consensus is that the Sox are going to pursue Farrell in the off-season and that would be the right move. When you throw in a phrase like "bizarre and embarrassing" that evokes thoughts of Bobby Valentine. What has Farrell done to reach that level? (I'm not being snarky, I haven't paid much attention to the Blue Jays this year and when they play the Sox he seems competent enough).


Oh, it has little to do with Farrell himself. "Competent enough" is a good description, I don't like him that much but he's not Maury Wills bad or anything. The bad aspect to him being manager in Toronto is that just over one year into his managing tenure everyone was talking about when he was going to leave town. I hate to use this analogy, but it's like a sitcom where two main characters are clearly going to get together by the end of the series, but the writers don't want to shake up the status quo so they just make goo goo eyes at each other occasionally while they date and/or marry other people. Whenever he goes to Boston or Boston comes to town, there's this media circus of "how committed are you to Toronto, when are you going to Boston, with all the trouble in Boston are you glad you didn't go?" stories being written or talked about on the Jays broadcast.

A few weeks ago when the same questions were being asked, Farrell gave his stock answer of something like "I'm happy in Toronto, I'm fully focused on being Toronto's manager for as long as my contract, which ends after next season." The last bit was odd because Toronto's management had never been willing to disclose how long Farrell was under contract for. It seemed like Farrell was saying that if the Jays wanted him around they should sign him to an extension, if not they should let him go to Boston. It's likely that when Valentine's fired, Farrell will be interested, the Jays would listen if Cherington called, and as a fan of the Jays I just want Boston and Farrell to get snowed in together at some far off cabin so they can just #### already in order to advance the plot.

It's also baffling because Farrell hasn't really shown anything with Toronto. I don't think he's a bad manager, but he arrived with a pitching guru / smartest man in baseball rep that hasn't really been backed up. He's just kind of bland and not the kind of manager I'd expect this love story to be about.

It just seems bizarre to have a team with a manager under contract that they reportedly like, but everyone still keeps talking about when he's going to manage another team. I just hope Boston fires Valentine so that they can hire someone else or trade for Farrell, because Farrell being the heir apparent to Boston's managing job doesn't seem to be a good situation for the Jays.
   79. AROM Posted: September 17, 2012 at 06:20 PM (#4238424)
"How do you get a big payroll in a sim league? Don't they always have equal salary caps?"

Nah, I handle the financial aspects. Payroll budgets are based on population and income stats from census and BEA, with team wins and playoff games factors as well. The 100 win team is in New York. While they've been dominant for over a decade, they usually finish with 90-100 wins. This year it seems all of their supremely talented players are having career years at once.
   80. Walt Davis Posted: September 17, 2012 at 06:40 PM (#4238435)
Spending $300M on free agents in the hope that you can be 74-72 is pointless. You hire Theo to get you to 98 wins, not 83.

I don't get this attitude.

First, Theo has delivered something close to a 100-loss season. That's not 98 wins. That's a very long way from 98 wins. Barring adding $100s of millions in payroll, getting to 500 is 3-5 years away. That's a lot of suffering.

Secondly, you have to get to 83 wins before you can get to 98. Why do some people around here think the only way to do that is to add young talent to get to 500 then add high-priced FAs. FAs are signed to -- hold onto your hats -- multi-year contracts. They are signed to multi-year conracts because they are expected to be good for, you guessed it, multiple years. If the next decent Cub team is 3-5 years away, that Cub team would almost surely be better with Albert Pujols at 1B. Possibly not, we never know how these things will work out (and I have no problem with having Rizzo there for the next 5 years).

And there is this bizarre assumption that somehow, when your youngsters are ready to make a move, the high-priced FA you need will just be there waiting for you. As I keep pointing out (and it should have sunk in by now), virtually all of the good young talent in baseball, especially the good young offensive talent, is tied up for the next 4-5 years, mostly at team-friendly terms. The FA market for the next 3-5 years is going to be terrible, again especially on offense. Given these are mostly pretty team-friendly and given the teams have nice big chunks of TV money coming their way, salary dumps of genuinely good players are not likely. Pujols, Fielder, Reyes, Wilson was already one of the better FA markets of all-time and we aren't going to see the likes of that again for a long time.

You only get so many chances to add the talent you need to become (or remain) a 95-win team. When such chances present themselves, you can't pass them up because you have some silly notion about the right order of these things.

And we all need to adjust to the new economic realities of baseball -- which are amazingly good right now. Each team will be getting an extra $30 M (give or take) starting next year from the TV deals. That's a FREE Pujols compared to 2012, with a little spending money left over. That's CJ Wilson and ARam.

Did the Cubs FO not know this jump in revenues was coming? Do they not understand the value of baseball and their own franchise? They spent the offseason trimming $20-30 M off the payroll while knowing that they had an extra $20-30 M coming down the pipeline. The Cubs payroll for next season, including likely arb awards, stands at about $60 M right now. They have something on the order of $60-100 M they could spend. And they have nothing to spend it on. And even if they did have something to spend it on, by the magical formula of "never spend money unless you can be a 95-win team", they should just pocket the cash.
   81. Dr. Vaux Posted: September 17, 2012 at 06:52 PM (#4238445)
It is going to be different in the coming years, all right, with fewer good free-agents and the draft and amateur signee spending caps. Teams will be going with largely the same roster for several years in row more often than for the past couple of decades, which some fans will like and some fans will find boring and constraining. It will certainly make scouting more important. I really have no idea what effect it will have on the ability of teams to rebuild and compete. It seems like it would make it more difficult for any team to improve significantly, not just small market or big market teams. There will be more parity and--consequently--more teams that are considered disappointing.
   82. The District Attorney Posted: September 17, 2012 at 07:16 PM (#4238462)
After mediocre players get huge free agent contracts because no one else is available, won't that then prompt more players to turn down extensions and go for free agency? It seems self-correcting to me.
   83. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: September 17, 2012 at 07:35 PM (#4238481)
What the heck is a pot arb?
   84. zonk Posted: September 17, 2012 at 08:12 PM (#4238523)
Secondly, you have to get to 83 wins before you can get to 98. Why do some people around here think the only way to do that is to add young talent to get to 500 then add high-priced FAs. FAs are signed to -- hold onto your hats -- multi-year contracts. They are signed to multi-year conracts because they are expected to be good for, you guessed it, multiple years. If the next decent Cub team is 3-5 years away, that Cub team would almost surely be better with Albert Pujols at 1B. Possibly not, we never know how these things will work out (and I have no problem with having Rizzo there for the next 5 years)


But that's the thing - the Cubs got a premium 1B prospect (and based on his career to date, someone that Thed both thought was "special" premium). They had no room for Pujols.

I'm actually surprised CJ Wilson has been as good as he has been (and with an ERA+ of 101, not like he's been "great" by any stretch).

Beyond that - you had Jose Reyes, who just happens to play the same position as your franchise cornerstone. I suppose they could have shifted either Reyes or Castro to 2B...

But the thing is - the cream of this years FA crop was simply not a good fit for the Cubs' needs.

The FA SP was short on top-flight talent, but deep in mid-rotation pitchers. The best bats played positions where the Cubs figured to have their two offensive cornerstones already in place (I suppose I'm screwing up the chronology of the Rizzo trade and Pujols signing, but whatever).
   85. Dr. Vaux Posted: September 17, 2012 at 10:02 PM (#4238601)
After mediocre players get huge free agent contracts because no one else is available, won't that then prompt more players to turn down extensions and go for free agency? It seems self-correcting to me.


That does seem like a likely development.
   86. Walt Davis Posted: September 17, 2012 at 10:06 PM (#4238606)
After mediocre players get huge free agent contracts because no one else is available, won't that then prompt more players to turn down extensions and go for free agency? It seems self-correcting to me.

In the long run it probably is. But almost none of these superstars will get to test the market for a long time, some of them (Votto, Braun, Kemp) essentially never. It will be interesting to see if the Braves will buy out Heyward this offseason and what sort of offers the Angels might put to Trout (I'd probably wait a year if I were them but give him one of those nice 2nd year contracts for a good bit more than the minimum to build some good will).

Anyway, yes, we will see some "shocking" Soriano/Werth-style contracts the next few years just because a guy happens to be the best FA available.

But that's the thing - the Cubs got a premium 1B prospect (and based on his career to date, someone that Thed both thought was "special" premium). They had no room for Pujols.

I think our defnitions of "premium" might differ. Or rather just our expectations as to the likely outcomes of "premium" prospects. But we will be lucky if he turns out as good as, say, Derrek Lee or Adrian Gonzalez -- very good players with very nice peaks but not (it seems) superstars. But, like I said, I'm fine with Rizzo at 1B but he's not likely to be as good as Pujols over the next 5 years. He'll be cheaper but what do you and I care unless the Cubs spend those savings on something else ... but they have very little to spend those savings on.

And of course if you can swing a deal for a "premium 1B prospect" you should be able to sign Pujols then swing a deal for a "premium LF prospect" or a "premium 3B prospect" or whatever instead of trading for Rizzo.

As I've said a few times, my disagreement with the Cubs' FO is over the general strategy of tear it down to nothing and then build it back up from the ground. I don't think large market teams need to do that, I don't think there's any advantage in them doing that (other than to their bottom lines). But given they decided to do that, I don't have any major problem with the moves they've made but then I also don't think they've made many moves of any real significance either. The Cubs future looks brighter than it did with the acquisition of Rizzo, the buyout of Castro, the signing of Soler and adding some organizational depth but it's still light years from a 95-win team and they aren't very likely to get to that level without spending on some big-ticket FAs (or getting rather lucky in trades) and of course there's a very good chance none of those yougn players turn into anything special.

If, for no other reason than I think it's a long way away, I don't expect to see many of these guys on the next good Cubs' team either.
   87. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: September 17, 2012 at 10:06 PM (#4238607)
If the Cubs want to add a superstar by FA, Josh Hamilton is likely to be available to them. Also BJ Upton if they want him -- not a superstar but a youngish CF FA.
   88. McCoy Posted: September 17, 2012 at 10:10 PM (#4238611)
Pujols/Fielder are likely to be as good or better than Rizzo over the next 5 seasons which means they could have tried to play Rizzon in left, used their chits to trade for somebody else, or trade Rizzo was he was blowing up the minor leagues for some more valuable prospects.

Aramis Ramirez was a great fit for the Cubs this year and in the near future. Starting pitching would have been a great fit. Josh Willingham would have been a great fit. Reyes would have been the difficult fit if you were the Cubs and you believed that Castro was going to improve defensively to the point where you didn't want to move him or if Reyes didn't want to move to second.

It really is absurd to suggest that the best players in one of the best FA classes of all time weren't a great fit for a team that might just lose 100 games this year and do that again next year as well.
   89. McCoy Posted: September 17, 2012 at 10:11 PM (#4238612)
That does seem like a likely development.

Teams have more money which means they can then throw more money at their best young players to lock them up in long term deals.
   90. Dan The Mediocre Posted: September 17, 2012 at 10:19 PM (#4238624)
And of course if you can swing a deal for a "premium 1B prospect" you should be able to sign Pujols then swing a deal for a "premium LF prospect" or a "premium 3B prospect" or whatever instead of trading for Rizzo.


Rizzo was a special opportunity because the Padres had just acquired Yonder Alonso and thought Rizzo was not worth nearly as much since he'd be blocked. I don't think that any other prospects were really in that position.
   91. Jay Z Posted: September 17, 2012 at 10:20 PM (#4238626)
And we all need to adjust to the new economic realities of baseball -- which are amazingly good right now. Each team will be getting an extra $30 M (give or take) starting next year from the TV deals. That's a FREE Pujols compared to 2012, with a little spending money left over. That's CJ Wilson and ARam.


If everyone has the money, then it's no good to anybody competitively. The money is only good if you can outspend others.
   92. Nasty Nate Posted: September 17, 2012 at 10:26 PM (#4238632)
There are always ways to add talent in MLB using money.

The pronouncement of the death of the cheap owner is premature.
   93. McCoy Posted: September 17, 2012 at 10:30 PM (#4238637)
If everyone has the money, then it's no good to anybody competitively. The money is only good if you can outspend others.

And the Cubs were in a unique situation that they could have. The Dodgers and Mets were handcuffed by ownership problems. Yankees and Red Sox were worrying about payroll taxes and besides they were pretty well stocked. Ditto for Philly. The Cubs on the other hand had a ton of payroll coming off the books this year and next year thus they had the room to add large amounts of payroll and had the resources and spaces needed to maximize the returns. They failed to do it.

Funny enough it was the Marlins who figured it out and went for it.
   94. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 17, 2012 at 10:40 PM (#4238646)
Pujols/Fielder are likely to be as good or better than Rizzo over the next 5 seasons which means they could have tried to play Rizzon in left, used their chits to trade for somebody else, or trade Rizzo was he was blowing up the minor leagues for some more valuable prospects.


The foolishness of still wishing your team outbid the Angels or Tigers for one of these guys is mindboggling. If Rizzo is merely a good first baseman that frees up $20m+ a year at the cost of at most a couple wins to spend elsewhere to get more wins with far less long term risk.

And I'm shocked that you give no value to picking at the top of the draft every round.
   95. TDF, situational idiot Posted: September 17, 2012 at 10:45 PM (#4238650)
I absolutely would have had no problem with moving Marshall at the deadline for the right package, but I think it became pretty clear halfway through spring training that it was a bad deal.
Here's the thing: Ryan Madson.

Once you decide you're rebuilding, you should get whatever you can for any reliever not only because relievers are always a question mark for repeating their performance, but pitchers are always one pitch away from being done.

The Cubs might have gotten more by waiting, or even more at the time of the trade, but a team who's rebuilding should never be damned for trading a reliever for anything of value.
   96. McCoy Posted: September 17, 2012 at 10:50 PM (#4238656)
And I'm shocked that you give no value to picking at the top of the draft every round.

Have you seen what the Cubs have done historically with the top of the draft? Have you seen what the Red Sox have done in the draft since 2006?


The foolishness of still wishing your team outbid the Angels or Tigers for one of these guys is mindboggling.

I don't wish anything. I disagree with the route the Cubs have taken, think they'll be bad for a long time because of the route they have taken, and have done so without actually decreasing their odds that they'll be bad for a long time.

If Rizzo is merely a good first baseman that frees up $20m+ a year at the cost of at most a couple wins to spend elsewhere to get more wins with far less long term risk.

The Cubs don't need to maximize their wins to dollar ratio and they most certainly don't need to sacrifice wins in a position to have money to spend elsewhere. Again if Rizzo turned out to be good with the bat he would have value for the Cubs. They could play him in left or they could have traded him away for another blue chip prospect or two.
   97. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: September 17, 2012 at 11:01 PM (#4238670)
Funny enough it was the Marlins who figured it out and went for it.

So you're saying the template for the Cubs should have been the 2012 Marlins? OK then.
   98. McCoy Posted: September 17, 2012 at 11:06 PM (#4238677)
So you're saying the template for the Cubs should have been the 2012 Marlins? OK then.

Um, yes. A Marlins team with a pitching staff, no Ozzie Guillen as a manager, a better first baseman, and a better third baseman would be in the hunt for a playoff spot this year. What I just described would have been the Cubs this year.
   99. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: September 17, 2012 at 11:24 PM (#4238699)
A Marlins team with a pitching staff

I'm not convinced a hypothetical going-for-it Cubs team has a better pitching staff than this year's Marlins. Neither Wilson nor Buehrle has had a great season. Zambrano has not pitched well.

Also, it's not entirely clear where the hypothetical Cubs get their Justin Ruggiano analog, let alone their Giancarlo Stanton.
   100. Poster Nutbag Posted: September 17, 2012 at 11:39 PM (#4238718)

Um, yes. A Marlins team with a pitching staff, no Ozzie Guillen as a manager, a better first baseman, and a better third baseman would be in the hunt for a playoff spot this year. What I just described would have been the Cubs this year.


I hate this argument, sorry (nothing personal). It's "fail" all the way around.

EVERY team has a similar argument. It's ok if you want to talk about ONE thing, but a list of multiple (4 in this case!) things? C'mon! How many teams could say they would be in it just if they had a pitching staff?
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