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Monday, April 28, 2014

Rosenthal: Difficult to figure what Astros are doing, but GM has answers

Robothal meets Advanced Step in Innovative MObility.

In any case, given all the commotion surrounding these Astros, I figured it was again time to go to the source, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, for some explanations. Luhnow, as always, tackled the questions head-on.

• Shifts: Some think the “team of the future” is making frequent use of shifts merely to gather information for the future.

Not so, Luhnow said.

“I do think that any time you set up defense differently, part of what you’re learning is how the offense is going to react, if they’re even going to attempt to react or not,” Luhnow said.

“We do want to learn as much as we can every time we do something differently out there. But are we doing things just to learn? No. We’re doing things for reasons that we have. We believe we’€™re going to get more outs that way.”

Why shift on someone like Trout? Well, Trout’s spray charts show that he hits more grounders to the left side than the right. His line drive and fly-ball distribution is more even but not relevant when shifting infielders.

“When we’re talking about our infielders, we focus on the ground-ball distribution,” Luhnow said. “In general, we’ve been aligning ourselves as an industry (in a way) that covers real estate proportionally. That may not be the best way to do it. It’s not the best way to do it. I think we’re proving that.”

...The Astros exercised caution bringing Appel back, but again he was unable to get into a pitcher’s normal professional routine. Luhnow said that the decision to send him to Lancaster was a mistake—the GM’s own mistake.

“It was really my fault,” Luhnow said. “I made a decision to send him out to Lancaster to have him try and build up there, to try to catch up for the time he missed in Florida. He ended up pitching twice on a four-day cycle and then he skipped a start and pitched on an eight-day cycle. It wasn’t like he was in the tandem for a month and couldn’t handle it.

“I happened to be there last week. I watched his start. I talked to him afterward. You could just tell he was not in the flow of pro ball, irrespective of five-day, four-day, six-day. He hasn’t gotten conditioned to throwing and resting, throwing and resting, the way you need to get conditioned in order to be in a five-man rotation, much less a four-man.”

So, Luhnow said, he decided to take Appel “off the grid,” away from the media, away from the hitter-friendly Lancaster environment.

“I don’t expect this to be more than a couple of weeks,” Luhnow said. “Really, it’s just to make up for spring training. It’s my fault for sending him to Lancaster. I thought he could do it there. But once I started to think back on the history of what happened, I realized that he just didn’t have a proper spring training.”

Repoz Posted: April 28, 2014 at 05:50 AM | 79 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: astros, sabermetrics

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   1. T.J. Posted: April 28, 2014 at 08:49 AM (#4695628)
I would like to know his thoughts regarding some of Porter's specific actions. The article mentions, for example, Lowrie's bunt against the shift and Porter being mad about it, but Luhnow doesn't address it specifically.

EDIT: for clarity.
   2. Greasy Neale Heaton (Dan Lee) Posted: April 28, 2014 at 09:14 AM (#4695638)
   3. Rants Mulliniks Posted: April 28, 2014 at 09:21 AM (#4695639)
How much of an idiot would you have to be to get mad at an opponent for bunting against the shift? I don't care if its with 2 outs in the bottom of the ninth of a 9-0 no hitter. The shift just begs to be bunted against, and if players would learn how to drop a decent bunt down every once in awhile as a deterrent, it would be better for everyone.
   4. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 28, 2014 at 09:25 AM (#4695643)
How much of an idiot would you have to be to get mad at an opponent for bunting against the shift?


At least a quarter-Lasorda, I think. Maybe three dogs' worth?
   5. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: April 28, 2014 at 09:39 AM (#4695656)
I expect to see guys bunting against these exaggerated shifts more and more as time goes on, because frankly as a hitter you would be a fool not to at least try to take advantage of such a gift. And eventually guys will probably get so good at beating it with the bunt that the shift will lost most of its effectiveness and teams will stop doing it.
   6. winnipegwhip Posted: April 28, 2014 at 09:49 AM (#4695665)
"As soon as we figure out a shift to defend against base on balls and hit by pitches we will be moving ahead."

   7. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: April 28, 2014 at 11:04 AM (#4695754)
Seems pretty easy to figure out what the Astros are doing: they're avoiding spending a dime more than they must while making off with as much money as possible.
   8. villageidiom Posted: April 28, 2014 at 11:29 AM (#4695785)
What kind of monster would bunt in the first inning against an exaggerated shift?
That event allows me to say this: Willie Mays, at age 39, once scored from first on a bunt.
   9. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: April 28, 2014 at 11:38 AM (#4695791)
I expect to see guys bunting against these exaggerated shifts more and more as time goes on, because frankly as a hitter you would be a fool not to at least try to take advantage of such a gift.

Of course, not all shifts are alike. I have seen a handful where the third baseman was pretty much in a standard position, even with and pretty close to the bag.
   10. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: April 28, 2014 at 11:40 AM (#4695794)
That event allows me to say this: Willie Mays, at age 39, once scored from first on a bunt.


Two years ago, A.J. Pierzynski scored from first on a groundout to shortstop.
   11. cardsfanboy Posted: April 28, 2014 at 11:47 AM (#4695804)
That event allows me to say this: Willie Mays, at age 39, once scored from first on a bunt.


Few things beats Brendan Ryan ending up on third base with an infield single.
   12. cardsfanboy Posted: April 28, 2014 at 11:51 AM (#4695810)
Of course, not all shifts are alike. I have seen a handful where the third baseman was pretty much in a standard position, even with and pretty close to the bag.


That is how I would think more of the shifts would be. When the third baseman moves over to basically the standard double play depth spot for the shortstop, it makes it too tempting for the guy to poke the ball to the left side...put him at normal third base spot and the two defenders on the right side and that temptation is removed, as a poke is going to be a softly hit ball by definition, and as a batter, you have a better chance with a hard hit ball even if it's into an area with more fielders.

   13. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 28, 2014 at 11:55 AM (#4695815)
Seems pretty easy to figure out what the Astros are doing: they're avoiding spending a dime more than they must while making off with as much money as possible.


Well, that and killing time while building up a farm system that Ed Wade had totally decimated.
   14. Rob_Wood Posted: April 28, 2014 at 11:57 AM (#4695818)
I expect to see guys bunting against these exaggerated shifts more and more as time goes on, because frankly as a hitter you would be a fool not to at least try to take advantage of such a gift. And eventually guys will probably get so good at beating it with the bunt that the shift will lost most of its effectiveness and teams will stop doing it.


I am quite sure that this will not happen. First, left-handed pull hitters are, as a rule, not good bunters (same for right-handed pull hitters too). Second, foul bunts are strikes, of course, and no batter wants to give up a strike in that manner. Third, as mentioned above, many shifts leave a lone guy on the off-side who (besides the pitcher) could conceivably field a crappy bunt and throw the hitter out. Fourth, if you believe the stories, Ted Williams who faced the mega-shift (no fielders left of second base) only bunted once his entire career and felt so bad about it vowed to never bunt again. And when Ted said he "felt bad" he did not mean he felt bad that he accepted a cheap hit, no he meant that he felt bad that he gave up a chance to rip the fricking cover off the ball.

Fifth, and most compelling, Harold Reynolds made the same point as JoeyB and Harold has not been right about anything related to baseball since he joined the MLB network.
   15. cardsfanboy Posted: April 28, 2014 at 12:25 PM (#4695841)
First, left-handed pull hitters are, as a rule, not good bunters (same for right-handed pull hitters too).


Against the shift you don't need to be a good bunter. You just need to keep the ball fair. Good bunting is necessary when the opposition is putting on an active defense of the bunt, but in a shift situation, not so much. Add in that I imagine most of the bunt attempts are going to be only on one pitch in the at bat, and that it won't be with two strikes, and the skill level of the bunter isn't a major factor in whether they bunt or not.

Plenty of players seem to be at least willing to keep the bunt option on the table. As the shifts become more pronounced(like they have this year) it's going to become more common to see the bunt attempts. At least against the teams who are shifting so aggressively that the third baseman is nearly up the middle also.
   16. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: April 28, 2014 at 01:17 PM (#4695905)
We’re doing things for reasons that we have.


Oh, okay. Thanks for clearing that up.
   17. SteveM. Posted: April 28, 2014 at 01:23 PM (#4695909)
Seems pretty easy to figure out what the Astros are doing: they're avoiding spending a dime more than they must while making off with as much money as possible.



Well, that and killing time while building up a farm system that Ed Wade had totally decimated.


And don't forget drawing 0.0 ratings while doing so.
   18. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: April 28, 2014 at 01:50 PM (#4695925)
I went to the Sox-Rays game on Friday and, with Adam Dunn up, the Rays had shifted massively to the right side of the diamond. After a prolonged at-bat, on a pitch on the outside of the plate, Dunn kind of threw his bat at the ball and it softly flew into left field for a single. Crowd, seriously, applauded massively in appreciation. Very fun sequence and the type of thing I think we'll see a lot more of in coming years, particularly given that crowds clearly are observing shifts and like it when a batter beats them.
   19. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: April 28, 2014 at 02:08 PM (#4695942)
Fourth, if you believe the stories, Ted Williams who faced the mega-shift (no fielders left of second base) only bunted once his entire career and felt so bad about it vowed to never bunt again. And when Ted said he "felt bad" he did not mean he felt bad that he accepted a cheap hit, no he meant that he felt bad that he gave up a chance to rip the fricking cover off the ball.



Ted Williams and his ilk can do whatever the hell they want at the plate. Some 112 OPS+ hitter who sits against tough lefties ought to learn to lay one down or slap a single to left. He also might like to rip the fricking cover off the ball, but it doesn't happen enough to look that gift hit in the mouth.

   20. Jim (jimmuscomp) Posted: April 28, 2014 at 02:13 PM (#4695950)
Well, that and killing time while building up a farm system that Ed Wade had totally decimated.


That bullpen wasn't going to build itself. Ed was just providing a much-needed service.
   21. vortex of dissipation Posted: April 28, 2014 at 03:00 PM (#4695997)
That event allows me to say this: Willie Mays, at age 39, once scored from first on a bunt.


I said the exact same thing, on Friday (post 10).
   22. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 28, 2014 at 03:27 PM (#4696012)
A GM (or Team President or even owner) with the credibility to convince the fans & media that they are undertaking an awesome rebuilding effort rather than deliberately tanking, is the new market efficiency. The teams gets to slash $25M, $50M, or even more, from the payroll while (thanks to the GM) keeping most of its revenue stream. That $25M or $50M+ goes right into the owners pocket.
   23. Joe Kehoskie Posted: April 28, 2014 at 03:32 PM (#4696020)

Not true! Astros president Reid Ryan says the team lost money last year.


/LOL
   24. villageidiom Posted: April 28, 2014 at 03:57 PM (#4696041)
Against the shift you don't need to be a good bunter. You just need to keep the ball fair.
...and bunt it far enough from the pitcher and catcher, who are not shifting.

In short, you need to be a good bunter.
   25. cardsfanboy Posted: April 28, 2014 at 04:10 PM (#4696052)
In the situation we are talking about here, there is no reason to deaden the ball, in fact, that is exactly the opposite of what you are looking to do. You do not need to be a good bunter, to basically put the bat out there and bounce the ball on the left hand side of the infield at a distance farther than the pitchers mound.

You do not need to be a good bunter to do what people are talking about here. A good bunter deadens the ball, in this situation you do not want to deaden the ball in the slightest. The catcher should absolutely not figure into this situation ever, and it doesn't require that high level of a skill to basically push the ball to the left side of the infield.

You do not need to be Rod Carew/Bret Butler for this type of bunting.
   26. Nasty Nate Posted: April 28, 2014 at 04:21 PM (#4696058)
In the situation we are talking about here, there is no reason to deaden the ball, in fact, that is exactly the opposite of what you are looking to do. You do not need to be a good bunter, to basically put the bat out there and bounce the ball on the left hand side of the infield at a distance farther than the pitchers mound.

You do not need to be a good bunter to do what people are talking about here.


You are right, but I think you are overstating it. Deadening the ball is only a part of being a good bunter. Getting it fair and in the general direction you want are parts of bunting skill, and they would be necessary for a bunt against the shift.
   27. cardsfanboy Posted: April 28, 2014 at 04:27 PM (#4696063)
You are right, but I think you are overstating it. Deadening the ball is only a part of being a good bunter. Getting it fair and in the general direction you want are parts of bunting skill, and they would be necessary for a bunt against the shift.


I think people are putting too much importance at being good over being acceptable. (they do the same thing with fielding also...pretending And of course in this situation people are talking about laying an attempt on a 1-1 count or 1-0 count more than worrying about a 2 strike count, so the more likely result of a failure is going to be just another strike, while success is going to be a hit. There will be a small percentage that is going to result in an out, but the risk/reward is mostly going to be about a strike vs a hit. (at least in situations in which the defending team doesn't keep the third baseman at a reasonable defensive spot)
   28. Matt Welch Posted: April 28, 2014 at 04:52 PM (#4696078)
Ian Stewart laid down a sweet bunt against the shift at Yankee Stadium Friday -- just poked the ball down the line, rolled it to the bag, no problem. It was awesome.
   29. billyshears Posted: April 28, 2014 at 05:50 PM (#4696129)
First, left-handed pull hitters are, as a rule, not good bunters (same for right-handed pull hitters too)


This is a rule?

It seems to me that a hitter who is getting shifted against often could spend a few days in the cage and become a decent bunter (or at least decent in the context of the shift). In the scheme of talents required to be a major league baseball player, it's not all that hard.
   30. Walt Davis Posted: April 28, 2014 at 07:44 PM (#4696179)
So far in 2014, the average AL RHB is hitting 396/730 when pulling the ball; the average LHB is hitting 350/650. Why are we bunting to beat the shift?

On fair balls, 2014 AL average batter is hitting 333/522. Even if we assume the chances of getting the bunt down are the same as putting a ball fair (and that ball/strike outcomes are the same), you've got to get a hit about 40% of the time to break even.

Shifting against Ian Stewart? Of the awe-inspiring 232 career BA, BABIP in 2011-12 of about 240? I love it.

Stewart, god love him, is having a brilliant season. A 391 BABIP coupled with a 239 BA is not an easy combo to pull off but 21 K in 49 PA always helps. A career slight pull-hitter, he has gone the other way twice as often as pulled the ball this year (6 vs 3).

So there ya go, the brilliance of the shift -- turning Ian Stewart into a useful hitter. :-)
   31. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: April 28, 2014 at 07:52 PM (#4696184)
So far in 2014, the average AL RHB is hitting 396/730 when pulling the ball; the average LHB is hitting 350/650. Why are we bunting to beat the shift?


Because a shifted defense doesn't prevent a batter from striking out. It seems that data might be missing something when you're looking at bunt v. swing away question.
   32. cardsfanboy Posted: April 28, 2014 at 08:47 PM (#4696227)
So far in 2014, the average AL RHB is hitting 396/730 when pulling the ball; the average LHB is hitting 350/650. Why are we bunting to beat the shift?


Because there is a good chance that bunting against the shift will put up a .500/.600 line, and as 31 points out, probably reduce the liklihood of strike outs, which is not included in the numbers you posted.
   33. base ball chick Posted: April 28, 2014 at 09:32 PM (#4696269)
22. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 28, 2014 at 03:27 PM (#4696012)

A GM (or Team President or even owner) with the credibility to convince the fans & media that they are undertaking an awesome rebuilding effort rather than deliberately tanking, is the new market efficiency. The teams gets to slash $25M, $50M, or even more, from the payroll while (thanks to the GM) keeping most of its revenue stream. That $25M or $50M+ goes right into the owners pocket


DINGDINGDING

thank you for saying it
i feel like i am the only one pointing this obvious thing out

ed wade was good at finding usedful relievers as long as he didn't do bidness with the braves. ed had to do whatever tal smith/drayton mclane told him to do - he didn't have real too much freedom
   34. bjhanke Posted: April 28, 2014 at 11:46 PM (#4696345)
My level of baseball was strictly amateur, but I had the shift used against me in two different leagues (I am, basically, a lefty pull hitter). I found it easy to beat. If the 3B set up at the SS spot, I just slapped a grounder down the third base line for a double. When he moved over to cover the 3B line, I slapped the ball through the SS hole usually for a single. In both leagues, the shift only lasted a game or two. Word got around that I could beat it and beat it badly (I never made an out against the shift). Well, hell. If I can do that, I imagine that most MLB hitters can do it, although they are, without any doubt, facing pitching wildly out of my league. And that's one feature of the shift that I haven't seen analyzed. Do pitchers have to change where and what they are throwing to keep MLB hitters from doing what I did? The pitchers in my leagues didn't have the sophistication to change location or stuff. MLB pitchers do. On the other hand, if your pitcher is not strong at throwing outside, you probably shouldn't use the shift when he's pitching. - Brock Hanke
   35. cardsfanboy Posted: April 29, 2014 at 12:22 AM (#4696361)
Do pitchers have to change where and what they are throwing to keep MLB hitters from doing what I did? The pitchers in my leagues didn't have the sophistication to change location or stuff. MLB pitchers do. On the other hand, if your pitcher is not strong at throwing outside, you probably shouldn't use the shift when he's pitching.


The Cardinals announcers were bad mouthing the Reds because they would put the shift on, and then the pitcher didn't tailor his location to take advantage of the shift The Pirates pitchers on the other hand did not get any of that criticism.
   36. Walt Davis Posted: April 29, 2014 at 01:51 AM (#4696380)
Because there is a good chance that bunting against the shift will put up a .500/.600 line, and as 31 points out, probably reduce the liklihood of strike outs, which is not included in the numbers you posted.

I can't see any reason to think it reduces the risk of a strikeout. Trying to bunt a pitch on the low, outside corner (for a basehit) is probably even harder than hitting it well. Bunting one that is high in the zone is near impossible. I would say it's hard to bunt a pitch that's not a pretty hittable pitch.

And this would be a reason to bunt (more) whether the shift is on or not.

But, yes, if you can get a bunt down more often than you can pull the ball and put up a sufficiently high OBP then it would indeed be an excellent regular strategy to employ. Maybe somebody should, I dunno, actually ####### count the things. We've got O-Swings and Z-Swings and hit trajectories but nobody can count up bunt attempts? Nobody can classify "bunt for hit" vs. "bunt for sac"?
   37. bjhanke Posted: April 29, 2014 at 03:34 AM (#4696387)
cardsfanboy - thanks for the info. It did seem unlikely that no one in MLB had figured out that the shift should accompany a change in pitches. BTW, I used the wrong word. I meant, "if your pitcher is not strong at throwing INSIDE...". The idea is that, if you're employing the shift, and you don't want the batter to do what I did, you pitch him inside, trying to force him to pull. My guess is that Ted Williams figured that if the pitcher was having to try to pitch inside, that gave Ted the advantage of knowing where the pitch was coming. If you have Ted's strike zone judgment and his ability to cremate inside pitching, you can take advantage of this knowledge and beat up the pitcher just as bad as if the shift was not on. What is worse for the pitcher is that you want to get the hitter to hit LOW inside pitches, because the main point of the shift is to prevent hard pull-side grounders from getting past the infielders (also soft liners). So the pitcher wants to pitch in a way that maximizes pull grounders. Ted Williams can beat that, using his judgment to identify the inside pitches that are coming in too high for a grounder and destroying those pitches. I don't know about lesser hitters, and who isn't a lesser hitter than Ted? - Brock.
   38. Sunday silence Posted: April 29, 2014 at 04:54 AM (#4696391)
Bunting should certainly reduce the chance of a strike out Here's a study of the Cardinals bunt attempts for the last 14 years, about a 5% KO rate:

http://thecardinalnationblog.com/2013/04/19/st-louis-cardinals-bunting-–-2000-to-present/

Heres a study at fangraphs from 2012 to June of 2013, he gets a total of 1% KO (post 10) but if you go to page 3 there are certain base/out situations where it rises to 3/6%:


http://www.marinercentral.com/forum/index.php?/topic/7989-the-bunting-paradigm/

finally two more studies about beating the shift, and interesting numbers on how often they actually get the bunt down, its over 50%:


http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/more-about-bunting-and-beating-the-shift/


http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/why-doesn-t-big-papi-exploit-the-infield-shift-by-bunting-042214



   39. Sunday silence Posted: April 29, 2014 at 05:25 AM (#4696393)
long term study (6 years) says just about 50% of bunt attempts will get the ball in play, pitchers or non pitchers just about the same rate:

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-truth-about-bunting/


kind of an odd premise: "If Drew Stubbs could bunt like..." this is what his overall stats would look like...but it does show that if he attempted more bunts like these other guys his overall strike outs do go down:


http://www2.cincinnati.com/blogs/reds/2012/02/15/would-bunting-more-really-help-drew-stubbs/

the above cite also somewhat answers Davis' question about why are we bunting? Superior bunter Bourgos is batting .524 on bunts. Stubbs who bunts infrequently: .450; Carlos Gomez .424. Juan Pierre's career: .388. But obviously you have to be a pretty good bunters and have very good speed. You cant assume most players possess that.
   40. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 29, 2014 at 08:06 AM (#4696413)
The teams gets to slash $25M, $50M, or even more, from the payroll while (thanks to the GM) keeping most of its revenue stream. That $25M or $50M+ goes right into the owners pocket


With as low as the Astros' level of talent was when Luhnow took over, they could have spent $50M on free agents (assuming, for the sake of argument, that they found free agents willing to take the money) without making this into even a .500 team.

Sometimes, you really do need to save your bullets and work toward a better tomorrow. They may also be cheap bastards, of course, but the course they're on right now is the proper one.
   41. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: April 29, 2014 at 08:17 AM (#4696416)
It would be a valid point if ownership intended to plow that $50 million into the player development machine, or to hold it in lieu of spending on a free agent a few years down the road, when they're ready to compete. Let's not kid ourselves about that. The $50 million is in Crane's pocket to stay. That's why fans are offended. They would rather the $50 million get spent on a few players that will make the Astros a 70 win team rather than a 60 win team; the savvier fans out there wouldn't mind so much if the Astros spent the money on world class scouts, developers, international complex, and so forth.
   42. Rob_Wood Posted: April 29, 2014 at 09:05 AM (#4696440)

I don't believe the 50% figure for a moment. How are they capturing that? Are they capturing foul bunts early in the count of an at bat that completes in a non-bunt action?

How often does a pitcher get down a fair bunt in a sacrifice situation? That number should be fairly robust at this point. And, ideally, we should exclude bunts with two strikes since a non-pitcher would presumably never bunt with two strikes.
   43. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 29, 2014 at 09:10 AM (#4696444)
They would rather the $50 million get spent on a few players that will make the Astros a 70 win team rather than a 60 win team


Even if free agents were willing to sign with a team as bad as the Astros (which they generally aren't), $50M isn't nearly enough to get that team to 70 wins.
   44. cardsfanboy Posted: April 29, 2014 at 09:12 AM (#4696451)
I can't see any reason to think it reduces the risk of a strikeout. Trying to bunt a pitch on the low, outside corner (for a basehit) is probably even harder than hitting it well. Bunting one that is high in the zone is near impossible. I would say it's hard to bunt a pitch that's not a pretty hittable pitch.


I am talking about making a bunt attempt with less than two strikes, that is why it would reduce strikeouts. On top of that, we aren't talking about a telegraphed bunt like a sacrifice, we are talking about one time, during the sequence of pitches, for the batter to attempt the bunt. Just enough to try and force the shifting teams to realize it's a real and distinct possibility.

   45. jmurph Posted: April 29, 2014 at 09:46 AM (#4696485)
Even if free agents were willing to sign with a team as bad as the Astros (which they generally aren't), $50M isn't nearly enough to get that team to 70 wins.


Sure, this year. But what if their 2012 payroll was improved from (these are all opening day numbers) 60 million to 70 or 80? And then, the next year, instead of 22 million (!!!), it was 70 or 80 again? And then this year, instead of 44 million it was 70 or 80 again? Still no difference?

And, again, to pretend that the money unspent on MLB payroll is going into player development is to pretend that MLB is still operating under the old system.
   46. Ron J2 Posted: April 29, 2014 at 10:10 AM (#4696503)
#42 The biggest study on the issue that I'm aware of came in one of the old Stats Scoreboards.Will have to dig for it to get the specifics, but what it boiled down to is that it's seemingly a lot tougher to get a bunt down against major league pitching than most people assume. An awful lot of bunt attempts are fouled off or popped up.

Unless you are talking Tony Gwynn. Gwynn's success rate was roughly 50% higher than the next best.
   47. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 29, 2014 at 10:47 AM (#4696534)
But what if their 2012 payroll was improved from (these are all opening day numbers) 60 million to 70 or 80? And then, the next year, instead of 22 million (!!!), it was 70 or 80 again? And then this year, instead of 44 million it was 70 or 80 again? Still no difference?


Well, let's think it out. The 2012 Astros went 55-107, and adding $10-20M to the payroll would have gotten you about two to four marginal wins on the FA market. So in your scenario, the Astros maybe go 59-103, rather than 55-107. Is that worth a $20M investment? Is the team going to earn $20M in additional revenue as a result of those four wins? I would tend to think not.

Bumping the 2013 Astros up by ~$50M should in theory get you some nice players, but in practice this is a team that traded away all of their veterans and finished in last place by a hundred miles. No veteran free agent with other options is going to willingly sign with a team like that, even if it's the highest bidder, and in practical terms you can't (and certainly shouldn't) spend $50M on last-resort guys like Erik Bedard and Carlos Pena. So that proposition is nonsensical on the face of things.

And, again, to pretend that the money unspent on MLB payroll is going into player development is to pretend that MLB is still operating under the old system.


I'm not pretending that the unspent ML payroll is going into player development. I am, however, correctly observing that under the new draft rules, you can afford to buy a hell of a lot more minor league talent in the draft and the international market out of the #1 overall slot than out of the #12 slot.

It sucks for fans that MLB changed the draft to strongly incentivize tanking, since there's no other way to spend on top amateur talent without sacrificing future picks, but the Astros are just working with the system that's in place.
   48. cardsfanboy Posted: April 29, 2014 at 12:04 PM (#4696611)
#42 The biggest study on the issue that I'm aware of came in one of the old Stats Scoreboards.Will have to dig for it to get the specifics, but what it boiled down to is that it's seemingly a lot tougher to get a bunt down against major league pitching than most people assume. An awful lot of bunt attempts are fouled off or popped up.


Nobody is disputing that, but that is also against a team defending against it, and where the batter is trying to deaden the ball. The type of bunt we are talking about on here, is a lot easier than a normal bunt.
   49. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: April 29, 2014 at 12:08 PM (#4696616)
just looked at the Astros BBREF page, wow is that a young team, cheap too, not as cheap as the Marlins, but cheap.
   50. base ball chick Posted: April 29, 2014 at 12:08 PM (#4696617)
vlad

it's like this: yes i know the astros have to pay a premium to get free agents (except for houston/texas natives who WANT to come home)

and you know and i know that the best ones just will not sign a contract with the astros, pretty much no matter how much - unless it is a stupid arod with the rangers - kind of contract. which is dumb. but the astros DID used to supplement with actual major league quality bench guys, like mike lamb and geoff blum. which, believe it or not, are better to watch than LJ hoes. even justin maxwell was better than LJ hoes and the rest of the 500K AAA guys they are throwing out there.

i wouldn't have complained if the money not spent on the ML team went into player development/minor leaguers. BUT IT IS NOT. and the ticket prices have doubled since mclane left - not that they were cheap before. but raising tix prices for an AAA team and the owner pocketing 30-50 mill a year?

complete and total BS.

why the MLBPA ever agreed to these assinine rules where lots of the owners can just tank year after year after year and pocket obscene profits, i do not know. it has gotten to the point where there is really no reason to bother to TRY to win, seeing as how if you throw crap out there, you profit a LOT
   51. base ball chick Posted: April 29, 2014 at 12:13 PM (#4696622)
johnny

the only player on the 25 man getting paid is feldman. the rest is 1-1.5 mill relievers albers, qualls and some DL guy. also jose altuve, the second baseman singles hitter, "The Face of the Franchise" is getting paid the obscene sum of 2.5 or 3 mill a year.

that is IT.

and really, the 2010 team was more worth watching than the 2012 team. even 3 GOOD major leaguers instead of NO good major leaguers is an improvement. it doesn't have to be either - oh, if you're not .500, throw in the towel, or everyone is AWESOME!!! and we win the WC!! or whatevs
   52. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 29, 2014 at 12:45 PM (#4696655)
but the astros DID used to supplement with actual major league quality bench guys, like mike lamb and geoff blum. which, believe it or not, are better to watch than LJ hoes. even justin maxwell was better than LJ hoes and the rest of the 500K AAA guys they are throwing out there.


Hoes is off to a terrible start this year, but he was a respectable performer last year (.282/.332/.365, with above-average baserunning) and he's young enough to maybe expect some improvement, so I don't think I can fault them for wanting to take another look at him as a bench bat.

That said, there are other guys on the Astros' bench whom I like less than Hoes, so I take your larger point there. A guy like Jeff Baker would have made a lot of sense (though he's off to a pretty rough start himself).

and the ticket prices have doubled since mclane left - not that they were cheap before.


Yeah, that's kind of crap. At least when the Pirates were doing a scorched-earth rebuild, they kept prices low to avoid alienating the fan base. On an intellectual level, that made me feel a bit better at the time.
   53. Joe Kehoskie Posted: April 29, 2014 at 01:23 PM (#4696699)
It sucks for fans that MLB changed the draft to strongly incentivize tanking, since there's no other way to spend on top amateur talent without sacrificing future picks, but the Astros are just working with the system that's in place.

No other way? Since late 2011, when Crane and Luhnow took over, Yoenis Cespedes, Jorge Soler, Yasiel Puig, Yu Darvish, Henry Urrutia, Jose Dariel Abreu, Masahiro Tanaka, and Alex Guerrero, among others, were not only available internationally, but were exempt from the int'l spending limits, and the Astros signed none of them.

The Astros are not a team engaged in an all-out rebuild. Not even close.
   54. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: April 29, 2014 at 01:54 PM (#4696732)
the only player on the 25 man getting paid is feldman

I noticed that and was.. baffled...he's what separates them from the Marlins (payroll-wise), and what was the point? Veteran presence? Someone to teach the young ones what being a Major Leaguer is about?

Bringing in and paying 2-3 Feldman caliber types could help you avoid losing 100 games, but just one? What's the point?
   55. base ball chick Posted: April 29, 2014 at 01:58 PM (#4696735)
53. Joe Kehoskie Posted: April 29, 2014 at 01:23 PM (#4696699
It sucks for fans that MLB changed the draft to strongly incentivize tanking, since there's no other way to spend on top amateur talent without sacrificing future picks, but the Astros are just working with the system that's in place.

No other way? Since late 2011, when Crane and Luhnow took over, Yoenis Cespedes, Jorge Soler, Yasiel Puig, Yu Darvish, Henry Urrutia, Jose Dariel Abreu, Masahiro Tanaka, and Alex Guerrero, among others, were not only available internationally, but were exempt from the int'l spending limits, and the Astros signed none of them.

The Astros are not a team engaged in an all-out rebuild. Not even close


PREACH ON brother, PREACH ON!!! even though won't nobody but me listen or believe

i am guessing they brought in feldman, not to "win" but to shutup the MLBPA. and to pretend they were looking for Veteran Presence.

barf
   56. Joe Kehoskie Posted: April 29, 2014 at 02:06 PM (#4696738)
i am guessing they brought in feldman, not to "win" but to shutup the MLBPA.

Right. No doubt.
   57. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 29, 2014 at 02:51 PM (#4696785)
No other way? Since late 2011, when Crane and Luhnow took over, Yoenis Cespedes, Jorge Soler, Yasiel Puig, Yu Darvish, Henry Urrutia, Jose Dariel Abreu, Masahiro Tanaka, and Alex Guerrero, among others, were not only available internationally, but were exempt from the int'l spending limits, and the Astros signed none of them.


Just because those are international free agents rather than domestic ones doesn't mean that they have any more reason to sign with a shitty team with limited ancillary benefits and no media presence.
   58. Nasty Nate Posted: April 29, 2014 at 02:59 PM (#4696800)
Just because those are international free agents rather than domestic ones doesn't mean that they have any more reason to sign with a shitty team with limited ancillary benefits and no media presence.


Darvish didn't have a choice.

I don't know if there is a way to know this, but did the Astros pursue any of the other guys?
   59. Joe Kehoskie Posted: April 29, 2014 at 03:10 PM (#4696820)
Just because those are international free agents rather than domestic ones doesn't mean that they have any more reason to sign with a shitty team with limited ancillary benefits and no media presence.

The issue wasn't whether FAs would sign with the Astros; it was whether the Astros should pursue them in the first place.

As #58 mentioned, Darvish had no choice, and I can't think of a single Cuban defector who has ever signed for less money so he could play for a winner or play in a specific city. It's hard to believe Oakland and Cincinnati and Chicago can land Cuban defectors but not Houston.

***
I don't know if there is a way to know this, but did the Astros pursue any of the other guys?

The only two on the list in #53 to whom the Astros reportedly extended offers are Abreu and Tanaka, and it appeared to be more p.r. than a serious effort. There was clearly no chance Tanaka was going to Houston, while Abreu almost assuredly would have been an Astro if the Astros had offered the most money.
   60. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: April 29, 2014 at 03:25 PM (#4696842)
The only two on the list in #53 to whom the Astros reportedly extended offers are Abreu and Tanaka, and it appeared to be more p.r. than a serious effort. There was clearly no chance Tanaka was going to Houston, while Abreu almost assuredly would have been an Astro if the Astros had offered the most money.


Come on... do you have any inside info? (and if you did would you tell us?)
   61. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 29, 2014 at 03:26 PM (#4696845)
The issue wasn't whether FAs would sign with the Astros; it was whether the Astros should pursue them in the first place.


If the Astros aren't going to be able to sign them, then why should the Astros pursue them?

   62. Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: April 29, 2014 at 03:49 PM (#4696882)
Well, let's think it out. The 2012 Astros went 55-107, and adding $10-20M to the payroll would have gotten you about two to four marginal wins on the FA market. So in your scenario, the Astros maybe go 59-103, rather than 55-107. Is that worth a $20M investment? Is the team going to earn $20M in additional revenue as a result of those four wins? I would tend to think not.

That's not really thinking it out.

Terrible teams can improve substantially by simply getting the sub-replacement garbage off the roster, and those wins aren't priced anywhere near the average of the free-agent market. In fact, there's almost no marginal cost -- useful minimum-salary players are still minimum-salary players.

The 2008 Rays are instructive: their 31-win improvement wasn't driven by the arrival of young frontline talent, it was driven by the recognition that the already-in-place core was ready to compete (34.2 WAR from the regular lineup and rotation in 2007) if the rest of the roster (sixth and seventh starters, bullpen, bench: -8.5) stopped dragging it down. There was a 5.9-win improvement from the lineup and rotation (Longoria, Garza and Bartlett, basically), but the rest of the roster gained 18.4 largely by just jettisoning the Casey Fossum All-Stars.

It wouldn't have taken anything close to $20 million to replace the dreadful back halves of these Astro rosters with legitimate major leaguers and get near 70 wins, it simply would've taken a will to do so on the part of management.
   63. Joe Kehoskie Posted: April 29, 2014 at 03:50 PM (#4696886)
Come on... do you have any inside info? (and if you did would you tell us?)

Ha ha. No, and probably not.

***
If the Astros aren't going to be able to sign them, then why should the Astros pursue them?

You seem to have shifted your argument from "Astros shouldn't pursue FAs" to "Astros can't sign FAs," with the latter position being entirely unsupported by facts.

If Cuban defectors are willing to freeze their butts in cold-weather, high-tax Illinois, or play in a dump like Oakland's stadium in high-tax California, why wouldn't they play in warm-weather, low-tax Houston, which has the added bonuses of a beautiful ballpark, a large Spanish-speaking population, and no smothering media presence?
   64. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: April 29, 2014 at 04:21 PM (#4696929)
Terrible teams can improve substantially by simply getting the sub-replacement garbage off the roster


Lucas Harrell, 154 IP ERA+ of 69 (to be fair he looked decent in 2012, but based upon his career MLB and minor league track record, 2012 was a massive fluke

Jordan Lyles - I guess he was a real prospect of sorts, was thrown to the wolves well before he was ready though

Dallas Keuchel- just seems to be a random minor leaguer (7th round pick, decent minor league track record, nothing to write home about) who seems to have been thrown out as some kind of experiment (hey let's find the most perfectly average minor leaguer we can, and give him enough innings so we can calculate the difference in talent between the majors and minors more easily...)

And some of their younger guys seem to do what Bill James complained about seeing in the old KC A's of his youth- some will look promising, play well in the minors, play well their first go around the MLB and then start regressing...

what an incredibly dreary and depressing team.
   65. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 29, 2014 at 04:46 PM (#4696954)
You seem to have shifted your argument from "Astros shouldn't pursue FAs" to "Astros can't sign FAs," with the latter position being entirely unsupported by facts.


a) I would have thought it was obvious that there's nothing to be gained by pursuing free agents you can't sign. From your response, I guess that needed to be spelled out.

b) I have 20 years of experience as a Pirates fan, in which I watched numerous free agents accept less money and/or fewer years in order to play for winning (or at least mediocre) teams instead of the Pirates. There are even a few players (like Will Ohman) who turned down a guaranteed ML contract with the Bucs to accept a minor league contract and a NRI somewhere else.

If Cuban defectors are willing to freeze their butts in cold-weather, high-tax Illinois, or play in a dump like Oakland's stadium in high-tax California, why wouldn't they play in warm-weather, low-tax Houston, which has the added bonuses of a beautiful ballpark, a large Spanish-speaking population, and no smothering media presence?


Because playing for a team that terrible is incredibly dispiriting, and they'll have virtually no ability to gain national endorsement dollars (a substantial consideration for a star-level performer like Cespedes) playing in a city where most of the residents can't even watch the games on TV, to name just two reasons.
   66. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 29, 2014 at 05:05 PM (#4696973)
Terrible teams can improve substantially by simply getting the sub-replacement garbage off the roster, and those wins aren't priced anywhere near the average of the free-agent market. In fact, there's almost no marginal cost -- useful minimum-salary players are still minimum-salary players.


The Astros are already dumping sub-replacement-level players. Here is a list of every Astro who was significantly into negative fWAR last year, with the worst performers listed first:

Travis Blackley -1.2
J.D. Martinez -1.1
Jimmy Paredes -1.0
Paul Clemens -1.0
Lucas Harrell -0.9
Hector Ambriz -0.8
Ronny Cedeno -0.7
Fernando Martinez -0.6
Cody Clark -0.4
Jake Elmore -0.4
Carlos Pena -0.4
Marwin Gonzalez -0.4
Marc Krauss -0.3
Rick Ankiel -0.3
Edgar Gonzalez -0.3
Josh Fields -0.3

Out of all those guys, the only ones who are still on the team (or even in the organization) this year are Clemens, Gonzalez, Krauss, and Fields.

The difficulty is that when a guy's expected marginal value is 1 win or less, there's a large chance that he'll end up in negative numbers through simple variance. A lot of the guys on the above list were projected to generate modest amounts of positive value before the season started.

It wouldn't have taken anything close to $20 million to replace the dreadful back halves of these Astro rosters with legitimate major leaguers and get near 70 wins, it simply would've taken a will to do so on the part of management.


It sounds to me like you're underestimating the downside risk associated with mediocre veterans.
   67. Joe Kehoskie Posted: April 29, 2014 at 05:24 PM (#4696994)
a) I would have thought it was obvious that there's nothing to be gained by pursuing free agents you can't sign. From your response, I guess that needed to be spelled out.

Huh? Aside from Tanaka, which of the listed free agents could the Astros not have signed, if only they offered more money?

b) I have 20 years of experience as a Pirates fan, in which I watched numerous free agents accept less money and/or fewer years in order to play for winning (or at least mediocre) teams instead of the Pirates. There are even a few players (like Will Ohman) who turned down a guaranteed ML contract with the Bucs to accept a minor league contract and a NRI somewhere else.

First of all, I never said anything about ML FAs. The discussion was (mostly) about Cuban defectors, of whom not a single one, going back to the 1990s, is known to have signed for anything other than the highest offer.

Beyond that, Houston is not Pittsburgh. Houston is a warm-weather, low-tax destination with a large Spanish-speaking population — i.e., many of the things a Cuban defector would most want in his new home city.

Because playing for a team that terrible is incredibly dispiriting, and they'll have virtually no ability to gain national endorsement dollars (a substantial consideration for a star-level performer like Cespedes) playing in a city where most of the residents can't even watch the games on TV, to name just two reasons.

This is a combination of speculation and nonsense. You think Yoenis Cespedes chose Oakland based, at least in part, on the potential to earn "national endorsement dollars"? For that matter, how many non-English-speaking baseball players, Cuban or otherwise, are making "national endorsement dollars" in the first place?

Also, the Houston TV situation didn't become a problem until 2013. The Dodgers have a similar problem this year, but something tells me it won't deter players from taking big-bucks Dodgers offers.
   68. McCoy Posted: April 29, 2014 at 06:00 PM (#4697025)
Ohman signed a "minor league contract" that called for him to get 1.35 million plus incentives in 2009 as well as a 2.2 million dollar option for 2010 with a 200k buyout that had a clause in it that Ohman had to be on the major league roster by April 14th or he could opt out. Basically Ohman signed at the end of March and the Dodgers thought he'd need a bit of a tune up so they couldn't give him a major league contract but it pretty clearly was going to be a major league contract. Back in February it was rumored that the Pirates, Padres, and Marlins all had offered Ohman a contract and they were all reported to be a one year contract for under a million dollars. Ohman waited it out and got a 1.55 million dollar contract with the chance to make 2 million more the next year. I doubt Ohman signs with the Dodgers back in February if all they had offered was a one year contract at less than 1 million dollars.
   69. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 29, 2014 at 09:21 PM (#4697127)
Huh? Aside from Tanaka, which of the listed free agents could the Astros not have signed, if only they offered more money?


Any of them. Teams with records as bad as Houston's are almost never able to sign top free agents. It's just the way the business works.

Houston is a warm-weather, low-tax destination with a large Spanish-speaking population — i.e., many of the things a Cuban defector would most want in his new home city.


A large Spanish-speaking population isn't the same thing as a large Spanish-speaking population of natives of your particular country. The main cultural/linguistic draw for a Cuban player would be a market with a large Cuban presence, like one of the Florida teams, not one that's primarily full of Mexicans. Latinos aren't just some monolithic bloc.

You think Yoenis Cespedes chose Oakland based, at least in part, on the potential to earn "national endorsement dollars"?


Sure, why not? He joined a playoff team in California - that's got to be pretty good for the Q score. You draw a lot more national eyeballs playing for a good team on the coast than for a bad team in the flyover states. I doubt it was the only consideration, but it probably played at least some role.

For that matter, how many non-English-speaking baseball players, Cuban or otherwise, are making "national endorsement dollars" in the first place?


Just because they don't speak English now doesn't mean that they won't ever be able to pick any up. And of course, you don't need to be the most articulate English speaker in the world to rake in the dollars - David Ortiz currently has national deals with Samsung and Dunkin Donuts, for example.

Also, the Houston TV situation didn't become a problem until 2013.


Which means that it's perfectly on-point for some of the players on your list, like Tanaka and Abreu, who didn't sign until after it became an issue.
   70. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 29, 2014 at 09:35 PM (#4697140)
Ohman signed a "minor league contract" that called for him to get 1.35 million plus incentives in 2009 as well as a 2.2 million dollar option for 2010 with a 200k buyout that had a clause in it that Ohman had to be on the major league roster by April 14th or he could opt out. Basically Ohman signed at the end of March and the Dodgers thought he'd need a bit of a tune up so they couldn't give him a major league contract but it pretty clearly was going to be a major league contract. Back in February it was rumored that the Pirates, Padres, and Marlins all had offered Ohman a contract and they were all reported to be a one year contract for under a million dollars. Ohman waited it out and got a 1.55 million dollar contract with the chance to make 2 million more the next year. I doubt Ohman signs with the Dodgers back in February if all they had offered was a one year contract at less than 1 million dollars.


He also signed the deal with the Dodgers at a time when he was still having arm problems, which is why he only pitched 12 innings that year before going on the DL, and ended up having shoulder surgery in September. He wasn't any kind of lock to make the Dodgers that spring... and yet he turned down the guaranteed payout anyway.

(Also, for the record, the Pirates' ML offer also included an option year with a buyout. So the guaranteed money was higher than you're crediting it with being.)
   71. Conor Posted: April 29, 2014 at 09:44 PM (#4697151)
When Cespedes signed with the A's, they were coming off a 74 win season and hadn't finished over 500 the prior 5 years (they finished 81-81 2 years before he signed with them). I'm not sure he signed there expecting them to be a playoff team.
   72. Joe Kehoskie Posted: April 29, 2014 at 09:55 PM (#4697160)
Any of them. Teams with records as bad as Houston's are almost never able to sign top free agents. It's just the way the business works.

No, the "way the business works" is that the team that offers the most money almost always gets the player. This has been particularly true with Cuban defectors, where something like 100 out of the last 100 have signed with the team that offered the most money. You keep ignoring this, for reasons known only to you.

A large Spanish-speaking population isn't the same thing as a large Spanish-speaking population of natives of your particular country. The main cultural/linguistic draw for a Cuban player would be a market with a large Cuban presence, like one of the Florida teams, not one that's primarily full of Mexicans. Latinos aren't just some monolithic bloc.

Might be true in theory, but the reality is that neither Florida team has shown much interest in Cuban defectors, thus creating opportunities for the other 28 teams.

Another reality is that neither Oakland (Cespedes), nor Chicago (Viciedo, A. Ramirez, J.D. Abreu; Soler), nor Cincinnati (Chapman) have anything resembling a sizable population of Cubans. If those places can lure defectors, then so could Houston.

Just because they don't speak English now doesn't mean that they won't ever be able to pick any up. And of course, you don't need to be the most articulate English speaker in the world to rake in the dollars - David Ortiz currently has national deals with Samsung and Dunkin Donuts, for example.

So your theory is that Yoenis Cespedes could land a Dunkin Donuts-type deal in Oakland but not in Houston?

Which means that it's perfectly on-point for some of the players on your list, like Tanaka and Abreu, who didn't sign until after it became an issue.

This borders on trolling, and ignores that the Astros signed zero such players in the years before the TV deal became a problem. (And, incidentally, if Houston had fielded a better team in 2012 and '13, the TV issue would likely be easier to resolve due to higher consumer demand.)
   73. McCoy Posted: April 29, 2014 at 10:08 PM (#4697168)
He also signed the deal with the Dodgers at a time when he was still having arm problems, which is why he only pitched 12 innings that year before going on the DL, and ended up having shoulder surgery in September. He wasn't any kind of lock to make the Dodgers that spring... and yet he turned down the guaranteed payout anyway.


He's a pitcher, he'll always have arm problems but he had no noticeable arm issue heading into that season. Look, the Dodgers wanted him and the contract wasn't a tryout or a look see. Since he signed late he didn't take part in spring training so the Dodgers felt he needed to get tuned up for the season. Thus when the season started he would stay at the ST facilities preparing to get ready for the season. The Pirates might very well have gone the same route had they ended up signing him.


(Also, for the record, the Pirates' ML offer also included an option year with a buyout. So the guaranteed money was higher than you're crediting it with being.)


Pardon me for shortchanging it by a few grand but it does not prove your narrative nor dispel the actual realities of the situation.
   74. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: April 30, 2014 at 10:33 AM (#4697366)
Any of them. Teams with records as bad as Houston's are almost never able to sign top free agents. It's just the way the business works.


And yet the Mariners just signed Cano, because they offered more money than anyone else,
The Cubs in 2006 lost 96 games, and signed Soriano, because they offered more money than anyone else

no they were not as BAD as Houston, you really have to go back to the 2002/03 Tigers for that, and they signed IROD- BECAUSE they offered him more $ than anyone else.

Before that Mike Hampton left a World Series team to sign with last place team because of MONEY (and then lied and said it was the school system in Denver)

Teams that spend money tend to win more than teams that don't, it's not a perfect correlation of course. So bad teams tend to not sign "top free agents because they tend to spend less money than other teams.

Sure some guys want to play for winner enough to use that as a factor- but it's more a tie breaker kind of thing, where the players family lives, where his wife wants to live, just as if not more important
   75. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 30, 2014 at 11:19 AM (#4697407)
No, the "way the business works" is that the team that offers the most money almost always gets the player.


It's kind of weird to see a guy in your position say something like this, when it simply isn't true.

Another reality is that neither Oakland (Cespedes), nor Chicago (Viciedo, A. Ramirez, J.D. Abreu; Soler), nor Cincinnati (Chapman) have anything resembling a sizable population of Cubans. If those places can lure defectors, then so could Houston.


Luhnow would not have been able to sign Viciedo, Ramirez, or Chapman for another reason that I would have thought was fairly obvious: All three signed before Luhnow became the Astros' GM. So why bring them up here?

Also, as previously established, Oakland was a playoff team in California, and Chicago is one of the largest markets in America. Both have a lot of things to offer that Houston can't bring to the table.

So your theory is that Yoenis Cespedes could land a Dunkin Donuts-type deal in Oakland but not in Houston?


He could land one in either place, but he's more likely to land one if people know who the hell he is, and that's significantly more likely to happen if he plays for a winning team in California than for a sad-sack loser in the flyover states that doesn't even have a local TV deal.

This borders on trolling, and ignores that the Astros signed zero such players in the years before the TV deal became a problem.


Luhnow was hired as the Astros' GM in December of 2011, and the TV deal became an issue in 2013. So we're talking about a grand total of one year.
   76. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 30, 2014 at 11:30 AM (#4697421)
He's a pitcher, he'll always have arm problems but he had no noticeable arm issue heading into that season.


Which is, no doubt, why he essentially stopped throwing his slider that year, and went back to it the next year after his shoulder surgery.

Pardon me for shortchanging it by a few grand


Sure, if by "a few grand" you mean "a few hundred grand", for a guy whose salary ended up being a little over a million bucks.
   77. Joe Kehoskie Posted: April 30, 2014 at 01:47 PM (#4697554)
It's kind of weird to see a guy in your position say something like this, when it simply isn't true.

Please name a single Cuban defector known to have signed with a team other than the one that offered the most money.

Luhnow would not have been able to sign Viciedo, Ramirez, or Chapman for another reason that I would have thought was fairly obvious: All three signed before Luhnow became the Astros' GM. So why bring them up here?

Baseball history didn't begin when Jeff Luhnow was named GM of the Astros. The fact that the defectors listed above signed with teams that are more poorly positioned to attract Cuban defectors than the Astros is clearly relevant to a discussion of the Astros' approach, or lack thereof, with defectors in the Luhnow era.

Also, as previously established, Oakland was a playoff team in California,

Oakland went 74-88 in 2011, 22 games back, and hadn't reached the playoffs since 2006. Oakland was most certainly not a playoff team when Cespedes signed there before 2012.

and Chicago is one of the largest markets in America. Both have a lot of things to offer that Houston can't bring to the table.

Yes, cold weather, mediocre baseball facilities, high taxes, and a heavy media presence. Not exactly any player's wish list, let alone a Cuban defector's.

Luhnow was hired as the Astros' GM in December of 2011, and the TV deal became an issue in 2013. So we're talking about a grand total of one year.

LOL. You seriously believe Cuban defectors take a team's local TV ratings into account when deciding where to sign?

That silliness aside, Crane and Luhnow took over the Astros in late 2011, with roughly 6 months to go before the new signing rules and limits went into effect. A team looking to accelerate a rebuild would have gone hog wild during that time. Instead, the Astros signed zero international players of note (and maybe zero international players, period).
   78. base ball chick Posted: April 30, 2014 at 04:17 PM (#4697752)
the astros paid a mill for a taiwanese reliever in like 2010 (somebody Lo) - i think he's from taiwan and not mainland China. if i am supposed to call him chinese and not taiwanese, i'm sorry if i screwed up

they also paid 3 or 4 mill for a dominican prospect age 16 whose name i have forgotten

that was it

they made zero effort to sign any other foreign players. that was on mclane, i know, who wanted the team stripped before the sale.

and as for spanish speaking being a problem in hosuton - please - the majority of the population is spanish speaking. jose altuve is "The Face Of The Franchise" and does all kidns of promos/ads and he's venezuelan, not mexican. he doesn't seem to mind real too much.
   79. McCoy Posted: April 30, 2014 at 06:33 PM (#4697865)
Which is, no doubt, why he essentially stopped throwing his slider that year, and went back to it the next year after his shoulder surgery.



Who thought Ohman was having arm trouble heading into that offseason and during spring training? It is simply a revisionist narrative to describe Ohman that way during that offseason.

Sure, if by "a few grand" you mean "a few hundred grand", for a guy whose salary ended up being a little over a million bucks.


Did you do that on purpose? He got 1.55 million. Secondly nobody knows what the Pirates offered him. Back in February it was rumored that he was offered a major league contract for under 1 million dollars. According to your link back in February he was never offered a major league contract by the Pirates and that they had just offered him a major league contract with possibly an option year on it.

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