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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Twitter: Braves agree to four year extension with Craig Kimbrel

@Braves The #Braves have agreed to terms with @kimbrel46 on a four-year contract, avoiding salary arbitration.

No number released as of yet. This deal scares me.

Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: February 16, 2014 at 10:54 AM | 110 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: braves, contract extensions

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   1. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: February 16, 2014 at 12:05 PM (#4657605)
Just posted this in the other Kimbrel thread before noticing this was up:

Personally I think I'd have rather gone year to year on Kimbrel, though the team option is nice (what's the buyout, though?) But the Braves put themselves in a bad spot by filing too low of an arbitration bid; Kimbrel was probably going to win arbitration at $9 million for Year One. Given that, the contract makes sense for both sides. Kimbrel gets $42 million guaranteed, which a pitcher should always take if he can get it, and if he doesn't burn out the Braves will get the fourth year extremely cheap (three years of arbitration would add up to about $35 million) and a fifth year at a bargain price if they want it.
   2. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: February 16, 2014 at 12:09 PM (#4657608)
I think every MLB team other than the Yankees should pay the Braves 1 million dollars for providing some small relief from the Jeter wankathon.
   3. KT's Pot Arb Posted: February 16, 2014 at 12:09 PM (#4657609)
If I'm the Braves, Craig never sees the 9 inning again. He comes in only when Braves in jam, attacks 3 or 4 hitters and he's done for day.

His K rate applied to the Brave's highest leverage spots is going to double his value.
   4. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: February 16, 2014 at 12:16 PM (#4657617)
Just to have them listed in this thread as well, the numbers:

4 years, 42 million (guaranteed)
3.5 mil potential performance bonuses
12 mil team option for 2018
   5. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: February 16, 2014 at 12:21 PM (#4657618)
There's one ray of sunshine.

I was all ready to spend the next two years doomed to the knowledge that Kimbrel would become a free agent, the Phillies would sign him to a $52 million contract, and the Braves would get indistinguishable performance from their new bargain free agent Jonathan Papelbon.
   6. haggard Posted: February 16, 2014 at 12:26 PM (#4657621)
If he was used as suggested in #3 he wouldn't get the same strike zone from the umpires that he gets as a star closer.
   7. PreservedFish Posted: February 16, 2014 at 12:37 PM (#4657624)
If I'm the Braves, Craig never sees the 9 inning again. He comes in only when Braves in jam, attacks 3 or 4 hitters and he's done for day.

His K rate applied to the Brave's highest leverage spots is going to double his value.


We've had this discussion a zillion times, but isn't the finding that modern closer usage is indeed a very high leverage pattern?

If I were a manager I would probably try and swap out some of the 3-run lead appearances (especially against poor lineups) and replace them with appearances in tie games. The "relief ace" thing seems difficult to manage in real life. Those situations develop quickly, and warming up living pitchers is not like it is in a video game.
   8. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: February 16, 2014 at 12:40 PM (#4657628)
I still advocate maximizing your best reliever's innings pitched by simply making him the first relief pitcher into the game (which usually will mean when the starter wears out and gets himself into a jam), where he throws 25 pitches and then leaves, and throws 25 pitches every other game like clockwork, perhaps mixing in the occasional day off if the game's a blowout by the fifth inning. You'd get about 120 innings of extremely good pitching out of him this way, and I cannot imagine it would wear him out.
   9. Brian White Posted: February 16, 2014 at 12:55 PM (#4657634)
I'm kind of shocked the Braves did this. The contract seems relatively team-friendly for someone who is far and away the best reliever in baseball, but I didn't think the Braves would commit that much money to the bullpen, given Frank Wren's ability to consistently pull good relief pitchers out of nowhere.
   10. KT's Pot Arb Posted: February 16, 2014 at 12:57 PM (#4657635)
If he was used as suggested in #3 he wouldn't get the same strike zone from the umpires that he gets as a star closer.


LOL. He's been this effective since his rookie year.

We've had this discussion a zillion times, but isn't the finding that modern closer usage is indeed a very high leverage pattern?


Math says uh, no.
   11. CFBF Is A Golden Spider Duck Posted: February 16, 2014 at 12:59 PM (#4657638)
I'm not in love with this deal, but the Braves seem really, really confident they're going to see huge revenue boosts in the new stadium.
   12. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: February 16, 2014 at 01:22 PM (#4657655)
Math says uh, no.

Compared to what?
   13. PreservedFish Posted: February 16, 2014 at 01:29 PM (#4657667)
Math says uh, no.


Does it?
   14. KT's Pot Arb Posted: February 16, 2014 at 01:34 PM (#4657672)
Does it?


Math was a little distracted when reading your original post, and now says, "Maybe, but nowhere near as high as much more straightforward usage as Zeth details in post 8".

Kimbrel was almost exclusively brought in the 9th with the bases empty last year and most of his PAs against are with the bases empty. It's a real waste of that flame-throwing arm.
   15. PreservedFish Posted: February 16, 2014 at 01:36 PM (#4657675)
Math was a little distracted when reading your original post, and now says, "Maybe, but nowhere near as high as much more straightforward usage as Zeth details in post 8".


You're being awfully casual putting words into Math's mouth.
   16. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: February 16, 2014 at 02:04 PM (#4657698)
It seems like all the lists of LI leaders (which for some reason I can't find right now) are mostly closers. Granted, few pitchers are used in the "fireman" type role, but I wonder if using him in the theoretically "optimal" way would add all that much more leveraged value. I guess it would depend on your bullpen construction. It would be interesting to see someone actually quantitatively compare actual modern closer usage to fireman usage to see how many runs it would save. Maybe somebody's done this, but I don't think I've seen it.

To me, it seems like it would be tough to perfectly predict when to get the fireman warming up. A relief pitcher either needs to start warming at the beginning of an inning, or needs what, 2-3 batters to warm? Depending on the length of the PA? It seems like you'd wind up wasting your guy a lot, bringing him in too early or too late.
   17. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: February 16, 2014 at 02:17 PM (#4657705)
It varies by weather conditions, but I'm skeptical that pitchers really need as much warmup as they presently get. When you decide your current pitcher needs to take a shower, visiting the mound and then letting him pitch to one more batter is probably plenty of time to get a guy warmed up. He gets warmup pitches after taking the field, too.

The tricky part is managing the situation where there are two outs in the inning and then the pitcher gets into a jam and needs relieved.
   18. jacjacatk Posted: February 16, 2014 at 02:27 PM (#4657711)
The problem with 9th inning only closer usage is this:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?id=carpeda01&year=2013&t=p#lineu

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?id=kimbrcr01&year=2013&t=p#lineu

Kimbrel faced the 2-5 spots in the order in 38% of his PAs against, and David Carpenter faced them in 49% of his.
   19. Nasty Nate Posted: February 16, 2014 at 04:44 PM (#4657749)
If I'm the Braves, Craig never sees the 9 inning again. He comes in only when Braves in jam, attacks 3 or 4 hitters and he's done for day.


Starter goes 8 and the team is clinging to a 1-0 lead; it seems insane to not use Kimbrel in that 9th inning.
   20. KT's Pot Arb Posted: February 16, 2014 at 04:45 PM (#4657752)
You're being awfully casual putting words into Math's mouth.


I love math so much I would marry it.

Meaning I would like to put something other than words in Math's mouth.
   21. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: February 16, 2014 at 04:55 PM (#4657757)
KT would never let a starter go 8. His teams would be managed by leverage indices. He'd never let a guy go thru the order three times. His teams would lose 120 games.
   22. villainx Posted: February 16, 2014 at 05:16 PM (#4657768)
Looking up Craig Kimbrel's stats, is he as good as the numbers say?
   23. flournoy Posted: February 16, 2014 at 05:59 PM (#4657782)
I love this. I fully understand and appreciate the arguments for "cashing in" a closer by trading him for prospects and developing another one internally, but I simply don't care. I want Kimbrel closing for the Braves.
   24. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: February 16, 2014 at 06:41 PM (#4657800)
It varies by weather conditions, but I'm skeptical that pitchers really need as much warmup as they presently get.

I've been wondering this for a little while now. How would a team study this? In the past year or so I've seen several articles on the web about stretching before exercising. It seems that it's actually counter productive a decent amount of the time.

How much warmup is needed? Do pitchers throw until they feel loose, or do they throw a certain number of pitches in the bullpen?

Along the same lines, could a starter go more innings by only throwing 3 warmup pitches between innings? That would save 25 pitches over the first 5 innings. Now, those pitches are probably fastballs thrown at 75% effort, so it may not really save much.
   25. PreservedFish Posted: February 16, 2014 at 06:45 PM (#4657802)
How would a team study this?


Wouldn't they just, like, ask the pitchers?

I am 100% confident that managers are aware of how much time each of their pitchers requests to get loose, and roughly aware of how much time each pitcher really requires, and that there are variations from one pitcher to another.
   26. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: February 16, 2014 at 08:04 PM (#4657815)
Wouldn't they just, like, ask the pitchers?


If they did that there would be no such thing as relief pitchers; starters would always insist they feel fresh and can go the rest of the game. That's why it's a manager's job to pay attention to how tired his pitcher actually is. Asking him doesn't help much.

In general I doubt pitchers need as many warmup throws as they currently make.
   27. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: February 16, 2014 at 08:34 PM (#4657816)
If they did that there would be no such thing as relief pitchers; starters would always insist they feel fresh and can go the rest of the game.


He means asking each new pitcher how much time he needs to warm up, not asking the current pitcher whether he's OK to keep pitching.

   28. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: February 16, 2014 at 08:36 PM (#4657817)
I mean I'm not inclined to put any more faith in a reliever's opinion of how much warmup he needs than in a starter's opinion on whether he's too tired to effectively continue.
   29. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: February 16, 2014 at 08:53 PM (#4657819)
I mean I'm not inclined to put any more faith in a reliever's opinion of how much warmup he needs than in a starter's opinion on whether he's too tired to effectively continue.


I guess I don't see the incentive for the reliever to ######## in the same way a starter will lobby to stay in the game. The reliever already knows he's coming in; it's simply a matter of being the most ready when the time comes.
   30. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: February 16, 2014 at 09:24 PM (#4657824)
I don't mean to suggest that a reliever's comfort level is unimportant, but it is a separate question from whether he's physically ready to pitch. I would be willing to sacrifice some of his comfort in the short term (he'll get used to the new program fairly quickly) for the sake of the flexibility being able to warm him and get him into the game affords.

For obvious reasons this theory would best be applied organization-wide so the young pitchers in the system can get used to the program before they reach the majors.
   31. flournoy Posted: February 16, 2014 at 09:27 PM (#4657825)
I mean I'm not inclined to put any more faith in a reliever's opinion of how much warmup he needs than in a starter's opinion on whether he's too tired to effectively continue.


What about runners warming up for a race? Javelin throwers warming up to throw? Swimmers? Wrestlers? Do you think these guys know what they need to do to prepare for competition?
   32. PreservedFish Posted: February 16, 2014 at 09:41 PM (#4657829)
I don't mean to suggest that a reliever's comfort level is unimportant, but it is a separate question from whether he's physically ready to pitch.


And this is why, in my first comment on this, I said that all managers probably know both how long a reliever says he needs to warm up, and how long he really needs to warm up.
   33. KT's Pot Arb Posted: February 16, 2014 at 09:44 PM (#4657831)
Starter goes 8 and the team is clinging to a 1-0 lead; it seems insane to not use Kimbrel in that 9th inning.


I didn't realize my plan had such an enormous flaw. We can never bring him before the 9th then.
   34. KT's Pot Arb Posted: February 16, 2014 at 09:46 PM (#4657832)
KT would never let a starter go 8. His teams would be managed by leverage indices. He'd never let a guy go thru the order three times. His teams would lose 120 games.


Who cares how many games we lose? I'm banging Math!
   35. base ball chick Posted: February 16, 2014 at 09:46 PM (#4657833)
PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: February 16, 2014 at 11:40 AM (#4657628)

I still advocate maximizing your best reliever's innings pitched by simply making him the first relief pitcher into the game (which usually will mean when the starter wears out and gets himself into a jam), where he throws 25 pitches and then leaves, and throws 25 pitches every other game like clockwork, perhaps mixing in the occasional day off if the game's a blowout by the fifth inning. You'd get about 120 innings of extremely good pitching out of him this way, and I cannot imagine it would wear him out.


- you gotta be kidding
relievers don't pitch 120 innings/year and haven't since like forever

and kimbrel would have a complete fit if the braves did that to him seeing as how he won't even be 30 when his contract expires and middle relievers don't get paid like Saves Guys. besides, he never comes in with men on base and who knows how he'd do?

you think no big deal, a pitch is a pitch, but it is obvious to me that pitchers are people and have attitudes and brains and thoughts and some guys do better than other guys with MOB - or even in the 9th

as for his contract
the braves can EASILY deal him, i mean, if he is effective and not hurt

cmon you know that
   36. KT's Pot Arb Posted: February 16, 2014 at 10:20 PM (#4657838)
120 innings is probably impossible. In fact, you might get less than closer innings. If he is rarely able to return for second inning each appearance his average stint drops to partial inning instead of full inning. If he needs same recovery time, it's a similar number of appearances with less innings .

But if he goes from 60% bases empty situations to 80% with base runners on, his value is likely still much greater, even if IP drop.
   37. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: February 16, 2014 at 10:22 PM (#4657839)
I think even five years ago the argument that the pitcher would insist on being the Closer because saves=money would definitely have been accurate--but by now front offices have gotten collectively smart enough that the relievers with the best strikeout and walk ratios are the ones that are going to be most sought after on the market, not the ones with the most saves.

you think no big deal, a pitch is a pitch, but it is obvious to me that pitchers are people and have attitudes and brains and thoughts and some guys do better than other guys with MOB - or even in the 9th


Of course, but then again I would expect most people to get better at dealing with men on base as they gain experience at it.

Major league pitchers are ultracompetitive; I think most of them, if you phrase it right and tell them "you are our best relief pitcher, so you're the man we're going to depend on to go in there when we're in a tight jam and kick ass, and we also want to make sure you lead our relief staff in innings," they'll be pretty enthusiastic about that role. They won't get saves, but saves are stupid anyway and a great reliever having a good year will probably log a W-L record like 11-3.

Re #36: The policy I proposed was to take the reliever out after the at-bat in which he goes over 25 pitches. Typically that's going to mean he'll pitch to about 5 batters per outing. If he's good he'll get 4 of them out or slightly less, so it works out to about 1 1/3 innings per outing. So 120 innings is probably too much to expect, yes. You would end up around 70 appearances, 90 innings.

Pitcher usage for the last several decades has tended more and more toward giving pitchers (at least the good ones) regular and consistent workloads, and there's fair reason to believe it has in fact made pitchers perform better. If you subscribe to this theory then this is as regular a usage pattern as you can imagine for your best reliever--he's going to throw 25-30 pitches every other day, usually around the sixth inning.

Obviously this works a lot better in the American League; in the NL it would require a lot of double switching to make sure he doesn't come in, get the third out, and then have his spot in the order come up in the next half-inning.
   38. base ball chick Posted: February 16, 2014 at 10:48 PM (#4657844)
KT

what middle reliever non-closer, no matter HOW many Ks he gets, gets paid closer money?

i don't exactly disagree that someone who can strike out the percent of guys that kimbrel can strike out would be more helpful in a "fire" situation, but until guys get paid for that like the 9th inning guys do, well, it ain't happening

   39. Howie Menckel Posted: February 16, 2014 at 10:53 PM (#4657846)

"If I were a manager I would probably try and swap out some of the 3-run lead appearances (especially against poor lineups) and replace them with appearances in tie games."

I've been pitching this, so to speak, for years here. There are more optimal variations on paper, but this one is more practical in terms of real bullpen usage. The relief ace clearly is getting a MORE, not less, valuable role, and as in the 1960s and 1970s, this pitcher will win up with significantly more wins - which even backward thinkers like. 12-3 with 32 SVs can easily be seen again as matching or better 0-2 with 44 SV.
   40. Squash Posted: February 16, 2014 at 11:08 PM (#4657849)
If you subscribe to this theory then this is as regular a usage pattern as you can imagine for your best reliever--he's going to throw 25-30 pitches every other day, usually around the sixth inning.

I think you'd pretty quickly turn your stud closer into an injured middle reliever - there's a reason why middle relievers usually end up burning out after 3-4 years: pitching too many days too close together. At a certain point the frequency of your throwing does as much/more damage (measured as pain, at least) as how many pitches you're throwing when you go out there. To translate it a concept we're all probably familiar with, pitching too many days in short succession is like drinking three days in a row - after the third night you're wrecked, even if you took it fairly easy. Just getting warmed up essentially means you're taking the engine to 100%, and getting there does cumulative damage unless if you have time in between to recover. Micro-tears and such.
   41. Walt Davis Posted: February 16, 2014 at 11:23 PM (#4657853)
Just as I predicted -- the Braves had every reason to buy out Kimbrel and 4-year contracts for closers are typical.

:-)

On reliever usage -- none of us knows, history doesn't provide much guidance and I suspect even the people making the decisions don't really know. With that in mind, realistically changes will only occur if they are fairly minor. So suggesting guys go 120 innings or have more 2-inning stints might be achievable in the longer term but not in the shorter term.

Two changes that are small enough to not change the usage for any individual pitcher dramatically while possibly achieving better results:

a) swap the 3-run save appearance for the tie game and down 1 appearance.

b) as #18 notes, if #2-5 are due up in the 8th of a close game, that's the time for your best reliever (taking account of platoon, etc). Let the "8th inning guy" work the "easy" 9th if you don't want the closer going two innings.

Those changes should result in about the same number of appearances, the same number of innings, still keep the guy at 1 inning per appearance, still have the guy starting an inning not coming in with men on but should help increase his leverage.

On that question -- yes, 9th inning closers generally have high leverage values. For example, Rivera's career gmLI is 1.8 compared to 1.4 for top setup guy Mike Adams. (But boy did San Diego figure out how to leverage him! I'll have to take a look at that sometime.) However, for his period as an elite fireman, Gossage had a gmLI of 2.2 while throwing over 1300 innings (more than Rivera's career). Sutter's career is 2.0 and was 1.9 or higher during his heavy usage peak.

So closers do not seem to be as leveraged as classic firemen. I suspect some of that is that the modern closer still gets a reasonable number of empty innings. I'm not sure how they categorize these but here are Mo first then Sutter (Gossage too messy) by PA in high/med/low leverage splits per b-r:

hi ... 2567 2316
med .. 1123 903
lo ... 1412 1030

That's 50.3% high leverage for Mo and 54.5% for Sutter -- not a huge difference but baseball is a game of small differences. Sutter faced about 10% fewer batters in "high leverage" situations in about 19% fewer innings. Most of that is avoiding low leverage -- about 24% for Sutter and 27.5% for Mo. Of course those are career numbers which include Mo's handful of starts and year as a setup guy (Sutter had a half-season).

A certain number of low-leverage innings are unavoidable -- to keep fresh when there haven't been high-leverage ones plus in Sutter's case you might have come in to hold a small lead then your guys blow it open. But in Mo's case we seem to be talking about something along the lines of 80 "low leverage" PAs per year. That seems much too high for an era of "specialization."

I put "high" "low" in quotes because I'm pretty sure this is defined at an inning level, not a PA level. The glossary isn't clear. High is >= 1.5; med is .7 to 1.5; lo is less than .7. Medium seems a bit broadly defined. Anyway, it notes that about 20% of plays are high, 40% medium and 40% low. But it doesn't tell me if these splits are based on an inning or PA basis.

But, yeah, if 20% of plays are high leverage while 50% of a closer's PAs are high leverage, that would be awesome leveraging. But not necessarily better than the fireman model.

The main issues with the fireman model were (a) in part because there was no incentive for a pitcher to specialize as a reliever, there weren't many really good ones; (b) arms fell off or pitchers became ineffective after a couple of seasons. Now we have many more impressive relievers and there still seem to be lots of arms falling off and wildly variant performances anyway so maybe they should go back to it.

EDIT: Sorry, hadn't noticed somebody had already made the point about swapping 3-run saves for tie games.
   42. base ball chick Posted: February 17, 2014 at 12:19 AM (#4657865)
you guys keep ignoring the point about the MONEY

which is that closers get big bux and middle relievers do not
which is why a closer doesn't want to come in in the 8th and face the 3 best hitters in the league and let the 8th Inning Guy get the Save the next inning

because it makes BASEBALL sense does not mean that the pitchers are gonna want to do what WON'T get them paid
   43. spike Posted: February 17, 2014 at 12:21 AM (#4657866)
as for his contract
the braves can EASILY deal him, i mean, if he is effective and not hurt


I think this is the main point from the Braves POV - if he is lights out again next season, three years of Kimbrel at ~32M with an option year might even improve his value* from today.

//trade value
   44. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: February 17, 2014 at 12:28 AM (#4657867)
I think you'd pretty quickly turn your stud closer into an injured middle reliever - there's a reason why middle relievers usually end up burning out after 3-4 years: pitching too many days too close together. At a certain point the frequency of your throwing does as much/more damage (measured as pain, at least) as how many pitches you're throwing when you go out there. To translate it a concept we're all probably familiar with, pitching too many days in short succession is like drinking three days in a row - after the third night you're wrecked, even if you took it fairly easy. Just getting warmed up essentially means you're taking the engine to 100%, and getting there does cumulative damage unless if you have time in between to recover. Micro-tears and such.


Is there proof that middle relievers blow out more often than closers? I don't think they do. I think middle relievers burn out at about the same rate as closers, and about the same rate as starters, and for the same reason: Most humans' arms can't handle pitching for very long.

bbc: I did not ignore your point. I think as front offices have been getting smarter the "saves=money" mentality isn't as big a deal as it used to be, even a few years ago.
   45. KT's Pot Arb Posted: February 17, 2014 at 12:43 AM (#4657871)
KT

what middle reliever non-closer, no matter HOW many Ks he gets, gets paid closer money?

i don't exactly disagree that someone who can strike out the percent of guys that kimbrel can strike out would be more helpful in a "fire" situation, but until guys get paid for that like the 9th inning guys do, well, it ain't happening


The money has been decided, he's getting $43m whether he closes, pitches middle relief, converts to a starter, or pinch hitter, or is demoted to the minors. His paycheck is a sunk cost.

So the only question is how to best use him, and and the Braves have a great opportunity here. Since he's already getting closer money for the next 4 years he's much less likely to ##### about his role being changed, he just got paid. Typically athletes don't just want money and respect, they also badly want to win. Telling him this change is being made to help the team win, because he is so damn valuable they need him pitching in their toughest and most important spots is likely the exactly what he wants to hear. How do you think he feels sitting in the bullpen knowing his arm has been rendered useless by middle relief blowing a close game?
   46. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: February 17, 2014 at 12:48 AM (#4657873)
In fairness, I think part of bbc's point was that Kimbrel would refuse to go along with being moved out of the Closer™ role because he and his agent believe losing saves means losing money on his next contract (which will be much bigger if he stays healthy that long).

But I agree with you that if presented properly he could be convinced to come on board.
   47. base ball chick Posted: February 17, 2014 at 01:03 AM (#4657875)
zeth

thing is that they are just NOT paying middle relievers what they are paying The Closer. and they don't seem to be paying by % runners strranded/runs prevented, neither.

KT

kimbrel is only 25 - this shouldn't be his last contract ever. so if he isn't used as The Closer, he won't be seen as someone worth Closer money in 4 years, and he knows it. he is not THAT dumb. if they braves try to force him into middle relief, AFTER SIGNING HIM TO BE THE CLOSER, he's gonna throw a fit because he will rightly see it as being downgraded. which it is as seen by MONEY. in 4 years, he won't be getting 10 mill a year, he's getting maybe 10 mil for 3 or 4 years. and he knows THAT.

and until guys are paid to do in middle relief what you say they should do, they are gonna have a FIT about having their value skydive like that. ESPECIALLY when they didn't fail first



   48. base ball chick Posted: February 17, 2014 at 01:07 AM (#4657878)
i think that if relievers were paid by effectiveness, it would be different. if The Closer wasn't seen as The Team's Best Pitcher, it would be different. but it is not. which is why kimbrel is not gonna be real too happy seeing himself go in in the 6th inning when joe starter is gonna lose if someone don't strand the 3 runners no outs.

and someone ELSE gets "his" save

it's not that i think that The Best Pitcher should always pitch the 9th when they are ahead by 3 and the 6,7,8 hitters are coming up. but you are talking about what guys get PAID for.

and all KINDS of things that should get paid more don't - like, say, teachers and child care workers - mostly because they are female and therefore less valuable. but i digress....
   49. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: February 17, 2014 at 01:12 AM (#4657880)

thing is that they are just NOT paying middle relievers what they are paying The Closer. and they don't seem to be paying by % runners strranded/runs prevented, neither.


Well, yeah, because closers are as a group much, much better than middle relievers. Every manager makes the man he perceives as his best relief pitcher the closer. Up until recently a lot of people, even people who got paid six or seven figures to run major league baseball teams, thought the best pitcher was the one who got the most saves. Now I think most GMs and managers know that the best pitcher is the one who strikes out the most guys and walks the fewest--and that he gets the saves because he's the best pitcher, not the other way around.

If Craig Kimbrel were used next year as a guy who enters whenever the team finds itself in a bad jam, instead of at the beginning of the ninth inning with a lead of 1-3 runs, and pitched exactly as much and as effectively as he did in 2013, he'd end up with a line like 11-4 with 6 saves, rather than 4-3 with 50 saves. But I submit that it wouldn't actually affect his earning power on the open market at all, because most GMs are now aware that saves are meaningless as predictors of anything. They're looking at the strikeouts and walks.
   50. base ball chick Posted: February 17, 2014 at 01:24 AM (#4657884)
zeth

what middle reliever is getting paid closer money?

no reliever gonna get no 10 mill a year for an 11-4, 6 save record as a RELIEVER

me, i think guys who can come in when the shtt is hitting the fan and get outs without runs scoring are most valuable. but so far, the money ain't runnin that way. i don't care how they get outs as long as runs don't score
   51. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: February 17, 2014 at 01:25 AM (#4657885)
and all KINDS of things that should get paid more don't - like, say, teachers and child care workers - mostly because they are female and therefore less valuable. but i digress....


Wait, what? Women are allowed to work now? Who let this travesty occur?
   52. bobm Posted: February 17, 2014 at 01:27 AM (#4657887)
The number of closer opportunities with the heart of the order in the 9th is not gigantic or uniform.

All of MLB: 288 Plate Appearances Allowed in 2013, 0 Outs, during 9th Inning, batting 2nd or batting 3rd, up 3 runs, up 2 runs or up 1 runs and With bases empty - 70 Pitchers

Mariano Rivera 14
Jim Johnson 13
Greg Holland 13
Aroldis Chapman 12
Craig Kimbrel 12
Kevin Gregg 11
Rafael Soriano 10
Tom Wilhelmsen 10
Jonathan Papelbon 10
Huston Street 10

   53. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: February 17, 2014 at 01:37 AM (#4657891)
zeth

what middle reliever is getting paid closer money?

no reliever gonna get no 10 mill a year for an 11-4, 6 save record as a RELIEVER

me, i think guys who can come in when the shtt is hitting the fan and get outs without runs scoring are most valuable. but so far, the money ain't runnin that way. i don't care how they get outs as long as runs don't score


You're not making any sense that I can tease out.

Middle relievers don't get paid closer money because they're not closers, and they're not closers because they're not good enough at pitching to be closers. Saves have nothing to do with it.

"The money ain't runnin that way" because nobody actually uses their best relief pitcher in the role you're describing. Managers universally use mediocre relievers or one-out specialists for that role, and those relievers aren't highly compensated because they're plainly mediocre, as their K and BB rates attest.

Edit/followup: I think I understand where your logic is going--that the good relievers aren't going to go along with entering the game in the sixth inning until the money goes there. But I think that's incorrect, and that the money already goes to the best relievers regardless of their role; that managers universally use them in the Closer™ role is not actually related to that.
   54. base ball chick Posted: February 17, 2014 at 02:02 AM (#4657893)
zeth

sorry to not be clear enough - been a long day
what i mean is that not only is The Closer the reliever who gets paid the most, it also has the Status. at this point, i really don't think that any guy who is appointed The Closer and paid like The Closer is gonna happily accept what is, in his world, a demotion, even if what he does is more crucial to a team's winning THAT game

especially because it IS - at least at this time - gonna cost him serious $$$ in his next contract
   55. PreservedFish Posted: February 17, 2014 at 02:07 AM (#4657896)
The question is: are there ever proven ace middle relievers available as free agents? And if so, what types of contracts do they sign for?
   56. KT's Pot Arb Posted: February 17, 2014 at 02:57 AM (#4657903)
kimbrel is only 25 - this shouldn't be his last contract ever. so if he isn't used as The Closer, he won't be seen as someone worth Closer money in 4 years, and he knows it. he is not THAT dumb. if they braves try to force him into middle relief, AFTER SIGNING HIM TO BE THE CLOSER, he's gonna throw a fit because he will rightly see it as being downgraded. which it is as seen by MONEY. in 4 years, he won't be getting 10 mill a year, he's getting maybe 10 mil for 3 or 4 years. and he knows THAT.

and until guys are paid to do in middle relief what you say they should do, they are gonna have a FIT about having their value skydive like that. ESPECIALLY when they didn't fail first


I believe you are wrong, that GMs are smart enough nowadays to just look for good relievers, even if custom dictates their managers waste the best, highest paid ones in the specific role of closer. If you believe most GMs are smart enough to value him for his amazing K rate, and how hard it is to hit him, he'll get a great FA contract.

But even if I'm wrong about that, it still won't hurt his free agency value 5 years (!) from now, because Craig Kimbrel has just thrown three years of 46, 42, and 50 saves, one of the highest 3 year save counts in MLB history. If GMs are still dumb enough to only pay top dollar for a reliever who is a "proven closer" no problem, he's a proven closer and will get paid as a proven closer until he proves otherwise.

If he sucks 5 years (!) from now, he won't get a great contract, whether he's pitching "middle relief" or as a closer. Craig and his agent surely are going to understand all of this. If worry over a contract far in the future is any kind of sticking point to them, all the Braves need do is commit to putting him back in the closer role 4 years (!) from now so he can put up one more gaudy save count before hitting the open market. In fact, Atlanta might prefer to do that to increase his trade value that last year, esp. if he's no longer their best reliever.

And what's he going to do if Fredi Gonzalez finally gets the cajones and smarts to call him out of the bullpen during a 6th inning jam? Refuse to pitch when his team-mates need him the most? Get fined, suspended, forfeit some or all of that $42M? Establish himself as a pain in the ass prima donna so he can damage his future free agency value?

Most likely rather than worrying about a contract that is half a decade away (and that may not even be that lucrative due to age/injury/decline) he's going to embrace his new role (and that huge new salary!) and do his best to fulfill his childhood dream of helping his team win a world series.
   57. Dr. Vaux Posted: February 17, 2014 at 04:25 AM (#4657909)
Craig Kimbrel has just thrown three years of 46, 42, and 50 saves, one of the highest 3 year save counts in MLB history. If GMs are still dumb enough to only pay top dollar for a reliever who is a "proven closer" no problem, he's a proven closer and will get paid as a proven closer until he proves otherwise.


I think this is a huge point. If Kimbrel got zero saves for the next four years, but pitched similar numbers of innings and had similar numbers of strikeouts to what he has been doing, he would get a just a large of a free-agent contract as he would with 200 saves. Being a Proven Closer wouldn't be considered to be just worn off if he was obviously still the same pitcher.
   58. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: February 17, 2014 at 10:51 AM (#4657957)
The question is: are there ever proven ace middle relievers available as free agents?


There's no such thing as an ace middle reliever. I mean, there are middle relievers who have really great years. Like David Carpenter last year, for example. But let that guy pitch the 8th (against the lower half of the order, so you save your killer closer to go against the heart of the order in the ninth) and let a journeyman infielder run into a fastball and watch the #### hit the fan.
   59. CFBF Is A Golden Spider Duck Posted: February 17, 2014 at 11:30 AM (#4657980)
let a journeyman infielder run into a fastball


Hanging breaking ball. ####.
   60. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: February 17, 2014 at 11:36 AM (#4657981)
Hanging breaking ball. ####


Yeah. You're right. He was killing him with the fastball and tried to get tricksy. We call that "The Wohlers."
   61. PreservedFish Posted: February 17, 2014 at 11:50 AM (#4657989)
If Kimbrel got zero saves for the next four years, but pitched similar numbers of innings and had similar numbers of strikeouts to what he has been doing, he would get a just a large of a free-agent contract as he would with 200 saves. Being a Proven Closer wouldn't be considered to be just worn off if he was obviously still the same pitcher.


Using Kimbrel as an example here ducks the question, because he's already proven that he has the 9th inning mojo. What if a setup man pitched 4 dynamite years in a row but never got to see the 9th inning? Would he get the same contract as a closer of identical age and ability?

It's something that doesn't happen a lot, or at all, but I don't think it's obvious that he would get the same big contract as the closer. Billy Beane, of all people, is paying $10 million to Jim Johnson.
   62. Ron J2 Posted: February 17, 2014 at 12:05 PM (#4657997)
#41 Since becoming the closer in 1997 14.6% of Rivera's appearances were specifically entered in the 9th with a 3 run lead. More than I'd thought.

I'd also add that some of the 2 run leads he was asked to protect were in situations that a slightly less effective pitcher could be expected to have about the same chance of success. Specifically, up by exactly 2 runs and not facing the heart of the order.

And another fairly high leverage situation that a modern closer never faces is, down by one late and the heart of the order for the other team up.

I wouldn't advocate using the elite pitchers as a fireman though. Just too hard to anticipate jams.
   63. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: February 17, 2014 at 12:09 PM (#4658002)
I wouldn't advocate using the elite pitchers as a fireman though. Just too hard to anticipate jams.


Another thing being ignored in this "let's use Kimbrel in the 5th!" silliness is the pressure having him in reserve puts on batters in the 7th and 8th. If you bring in Kimbrel in the 7th for a high leverage situation, hitters figure "if we get him fine, but if we don't, we get someone easier to hit next." If you hold him in reserve, hitters think "if we don't get to O'Flaherty or Carpenter now, we have to go against Kimbrel down by 2." Now of course, the spreadsheeters aren't going to want to acknowledge the role that such a psychological ploy plays in the game, but baseball players would.
   64. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: February 17, 2014 at 12:16 PM (#4658008)
I wouldn't advocate using the elite pitchers as a fireman though. Just too hard to anticipate jams.


You can't say exactly which inning, but in the vast majority of the games you get in a jam when the starter tires.

Rickey!: That is a legitimate point, yes. I think the value of getting more innings and more important innings out of your best reliever more than outweighs the psychological benefit of keeping him for the ninth.

We can probably agree that Closer usage is the worst of both worlds--batters think, "if we can get the two runs we need to tie the game off O'Flaherty, we won't have to face Kimbrel at all."
   65. Squash Posted: February 17, 2014 at 12:33 PM (#4658015)
Is there proof that middle relievers blow out more often than closers? I don't think they do. I think middle relievers burn out at about the same rate as closers, and about the same rate as starters, and for the same reason: Most humans' arms can't handle pitching for very long.

The thing is, we can all name lots of guys who have closed for 8 or 9 years fairly effectively. We can also all name lots of guys who started for 8 or 9 years, both good starters and meh starters. Now try to think off the top of your head middle relievers who relieved effectively for 8 or 9 years. I bet the list is much, much shorter, even though there are many more guys filling this role over the course of a season in MLB than starters or closers. Now think guys just on your own team who were effective for 2-3 years as a middle reliever, then suddenly lost effectiveness. I bet you can name a lot. Part of the issue is that those middle relievers aren't as good as the starters or closers, so once they start to slip a little they're in trouble, but it's also that going from cold to hot 80-90 times a year (appearances, times when you warmed up but didn't go in, postseason if you make it) leaves very little recovery time. All those guys making 75-80 appearances a year break down and fairly quickly.
   66. PreservedFish Posted: February 17, 2014 at 12:41 PM (#4658020)
I'm not sure if we're supposed to engage with this "25 pitches every other day when the starter tires" idea as if it were actually a reasonable possibility.
   67. Squash Posted: February 17, 2014 at 12:53 PM (#4658025)
I'm not sure if we're supposed to engage with this "25 pitches every other day when the starter tires" idea as if it were actually a reasonable possibility.

Yeah, I get that. I'm just saying that even though all pitchers get hurt, high-usage middle relievers seem to get particularly fragged. You know going in a guy's only going to be able to do that for a couple of years, so buyer beware.
   68. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: February 17, 2014 at 12:55 PM (#4658026)
If you mean it's far too radical a change to try to implement tomorrow then yes, of course it is. What makes it a worse idea than how ace relievers are presently deployed, though?

Squash: Middle relievers are fairly fungible and so managers rightly aren't terribly concerned about protecting their arms. I agree that you want to be careful not to overuse your best relievers.

I understand the argument that starters can no longer pitch 300 innings a year because they have to go close to max effort on every batter now, whereas Gaylord Perry could ease up once he was past the #5 or #6 spot in most lineups. I don't think it holds as well with relievers--Bruce Sutter had a reasonably long career going ~100 innings a year, and as a Closer I think it's reasonable to assume he was throwing with max effort every pitch. And Gossage, Fingers, etc.
   69. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: February 17, 2014 at 01:17 PM (#4658037)
I understand the argument that starters can no longer pitch 300 innings a year because they have to go close to max effort on every batter now, whereas Gaylord Perry could ease up once he was past the #5 or #6 spot in most lineups. I don't think it holds as well with relievers--Bruce Sutter had a reasonably long career going ~100 innings a year, and as a Closer I think it's reasonable to assume he was throwing with max effort every pitch. And Gossage, Fingers, etc.


I will go on record as saying that if Craig Kimbrel attempted to throw the way he does for 100 innings, he'd break in half. One of the reasons Craig Kimbrel is the strikeout monster that he is is because he isn't asked to do it for more than 60-65 innings per year. People agitating for using him more frequently don't seem to grasp that his success comes from his usage pattern as much as anything else, and changing the usage pattern changes the conditions of success. Modern relievers are batter destroying monsters *because* they don't go 100 innings per year.
   70. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: February 17, 2014 at 01:18 PM (#4658038)
It is possible that what you say is true, yes. I'd like to see it tested, but the people who run sports teams are far too risk-averse.

edit, as I frequently edit my posts after thinking about them a little; yeah, it would be better if I thought my post through *before* posting it, what's your point?: Actually it would be pointless because a sample size of one (did the reliever break or didn't he?) is evidence of absolutely nothing. At any rate I am not convinced that 60-70 innings a year is the absolute most that a team can safely get out of its best reliever.
   71. Squash Posted: February 17, 2014 at 01:26 PM (#4658042)
If you mean it's far too radical a change to try to implement tomorrow then yes, of course it is. What makes it a worse idea than how ace relievers are presently deployed, though?

I agree with you definitely that ace relievers are not optimally used. What managers (probably) should do is to make a point to start using the guys in their pen when they actually need them, taking into account the caveat of workload, rather than the somewhat push-button practice of today. That you can only use your best reliever in a save situation is part of what frags your second and third best guys, they're the ones who have to take up all the slack with your Kimbrels etc. on the bench. Kimbrel himself is a great example - 79 appearances in his first full season, then they dial him way back to 63 and then 68.

In terms of the money thing, it's a quirk in the way the game evolved and that someone came up a simple stat with a great name (saves), which made it easy to tally up and therefore compensate. One can imagine a world where the game had evolved where instead of a Closer we had a Relief Ace who had a similar statistic and was compensated as such.
   72. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 17, 2014 at 01:35 PM (#4658043)
I will go on record as saying that if Craig Kimbrel attempted to throw the way he does for 100 innings, he'd break in half. One of the reasons Craig Kimbrel is the strikeout monster that he is is because he isn't asked to do it for more than 60-65 innings per year. People agitating for using him more frequently don't seem to grasp that his success comes from his usage pattern as much as anything else, and changing the usage pattern changes the conditions of success. Modern relievers are batter destroying monsters *because* they don't go 100 innings per year.

This is definitely true; but there' no law that he has to keep throwing the way he does. It's a legitimate question whether you could have have a 10K/9 2.25 ERA Kimbrel for 100 IP, rather than a 15 K/9 1.25 ERA Kimbrel for 60 IP.

If he could do it, it would be worth it to have a less dominant reliever who could go more innings.
   73. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: February 17, 2014 at 01:36 PM (#4658044)
Actually it would be pointless because a sample size of one (did the reliever break or didn't he?) is evidence of absolutely nothing. At any rate I am not convinced that 60-70 innings a year is the absolute most that a team can safely get out of its best reliever.


If "sample size" issues limit the ability to "know" anything useful about the problem, then we must look for other avenues of knowledge. For example, we might look to the informed opinions of the men who work with these players on a day to day basis as to what might be the optimal way in which to deploy their physical skills without breaking them.
   74. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: February 17, 2014 at 01:40 PM (#4658045)
It's a legitimate question whether you could have have a 10K/9 2.25 ERA Kimbrel for 100 IP, rather than a 15 K/9 1.25 ERA Kimbrel for 60 IP.


What if you could have a Kimbrel that went 15 K/9:1.25 ERA for 67 innings, AND a David Carpenter that went 10.1 K/9:1.78 ERA for 65?
   75. Squash Posted: February 17, 2014 at 01:42 PM (#4658046)
FWIW, I don't know that you can get more than 60-70 top innings out of your relievers for a year, but I do think those innings can be redeployed to be made of better use, which would likely lead to more team wins even if your pitchers aren't actually pitching more.
   76. with Glavinesque control and Madduxian poise Posted: February 17, 2014 at 01:48 PM (#4658047)
As for whether Kimbrel would be interested in the fireman role, there was a really good .gif out there right after the Braves lost last year where you could read Kimbrel's lips as the #### went down in that game, and he was basically saying 'Why the #### am I not in there? I told [the manager] to put me in!'

I mean, I know it's the playoffs, it's different, but I buy in with the group that says Kimbrel's response to being told that we need you to kick ass in the toughest spots, and that's not always the ninth, is going to be '#### yeah, imma tear 'em up!'
   77. KT's Pot Arb Posted: February 17, 2014 at 01:49 PM (#4658048)
If Kimbrell can't do more than 70 appearances a year and can't ever come back for a second inning, it's still far better to get 70 appearances with 1 out and runners on than 70 with bases empty in the 9th.
   78. bfan Posted: February 17, 2014 at 01:50 PM (#4658052)
It's a legitimate question whether you could have have a 10K/9 2.25 ERA Kimbrel for 100 IP, rather than a 15 K/9 1.25 ERA Kimbrel for 60 IP.


But that means 17 more runs given up in 40 innings, or a 3.83 ERA for the extra 40 innings. You could find better than that for middle relief from some other guy, couldn't you?
   79. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: February 17, 2014 at 01:56 PM (#4658055)
As I said, I'd like to see Fredi minimize the 3-0 save for the sake of the save appearance. I'd like to see Kimbrel in tie games on the road more often. I'd love to see the Braves be a little more forward thinking tactically with their deployment of their best relievers. But I don't think they should break the role base bullpen system that they've used effectively for years simply because someone on the internet has a spreadsheet formula. When you get down to pennant chases and playoff games? Sure. Think wildly outside the box where needed.(*) But across 162 games, with the caveat about 3 run saves above, I think you stick with the process that has shown itself to be successful in the real world, with real players.

(*)I'm aware that Kimbrel was upset after Carpenter hung the curve in last year's elimination game, but Kimbrel's emotions notwithstanding, I'm pretty sure Fredi managed that inning correctly (though with terrible results.)
   80. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: February 17, 2014 at 02:17 PM (#4658065)
Walt re #41:

There is likely a feedback effect going on there, especially for modern closers. Where the best closers have lower average LI because they pitch better. They get into fewer jams, and allow teams to get close to tying the game less often. A guy who comes in with a 1 run lead, and strikes out the first 2 batters, has a lower LI for his third out, than the guy who sprinkled in a couple of hits.

So in that regard, using Mariano as your representative data point for modern closers might biasing your sample a little. Last year, there were 9 pitchers per BR with an average LI over 2. 3 of them over 2.2. To compare that to 30 years ago, 1984 Dave Righetti (2.113) and Ron Davis (2.092). were the only 2 over 2.

Not an exhaustive analysis by any means. Don't have time right now personally to look into it in any more depth, but am willing to hear other evidence. But just based on that, it doesn't seem like modern closers are being used any less optimally than the throwback type.
   81. KT's Pot Arb Posted: February 17, 2014 at 02:20 PM (#4658066)
But I don't think they should break the role base bullpen system that they've used effectively for years simply because someone on the internet has a spreadsheet formula. When you get down to pennant chases and playoff games? Sure. Think wildly outside the box where needed.(*) But across 162 games, with the caveat about 3 run saves above, I think you stick with the process that has shown itself to be successful in the real world, with real players


How fast do you get around on that straw horse of yours?

What evidence is there that the Braves bullpen system is effective at all? I mean other than following baseballs hallowed formula to minimize second guessing of Fredi's decisions? Getting good performances out of good relievers doesn't mean you managed your pen well, it means you have good relievers.

The Braves used Kimbrel once in 4 games vs. the Dodgers. That's a lower usage rate than his regular season rate, despite the extra rest. What kind of "effective" system lets your best pitcher sit while available and ready to pitch for days as you lose your way out of the playoffs? So you can start Freddy Garcia in a must win game? Or try to get the key outs from a lesser pitcher?
   82. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: February 17, 2014 at 02:30 PM (#4658071)
What evidence is there that the Braves bullpen system is effective at all?


Games won.
   83. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: February 17, 2014 at 02:31 PM (#4658073)
The Braves used Kimbrel once in 4 games vs. the Dodgers.


They had exactly two opportunities where it made sense to use Kimbrel, and one of them made perfect sense to use Carpenter in the manner he was used all year.
   84. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 17, 2014 at 03:04 PM (#4658088)
What if you could have a Kimbrel that went 15 K/9:1.25 ERA for 67 innings, AND a David Carpenter that went 10.1 K/9:1.78 ERA for 65?

Well if the theory heold, you could get 100 IP out of Kimbrel and 100 IP out of Carpenter.

But that means 17 more runs given up in 40 innings, or a 3.83 ERA for the extra 40 innings. You could find better than that for middle relief from some other guy, couldn't you?

Yes, sometimes. But, at the cost of carrying 7 or 8 RPs.

The value of having RPs who can give you 80-100 IP in multiple inning stints, doesn't show up in RP performance, it shows up in vastly increased roster flexibility.

If you can get by with a 6 man pen instead of 8, you can platoon at 2 extra positions. Managers used to be able to build very good performance at a position out of two flawed, inexpensive players. You can't do that anymore.
   85. PreservedFish Posted: February 17, 2014 at 03:07 PM (#4658090)
I'm not sure if we're supposed to engage with this "25 pitches every other day when the starter tires" idea as if it were actually a reasonable possibility.

What makes it a worse idea than how ace relievers are presently deployed, though?


Frankly I think it's a terrible idea. It has no basis in reality and it doesn't make a damn lick of sense even for a video game. You're getting an extra 25 innings out of your closer, and the way you do that is by ... putting him in every other game no matter what? How many of those appearances will be wasted worse than a 3-0 save? How many times will you wish to put him in the game but find yourself prevented from doing so by your artificial and thoughtless usage scheme? Probably 25-30 times. And the entire thing is based on a premise (that this usage pattern - including abbreviated and inconsistent warm-ups - would be healthy) for which you have no evidence at all.
   86. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: February 17, 2014 at 03:09 PM (#4658091)
[55] The question is: are there ever proven ace middle relievers available as free agents? And if so, what types of contracts do they sign for?

Rafael Soriano rhp
3 years/$35M (2011-13)
signed by NY Yankees as a free agent 1/14/11
11:$10M, 12:$11M, 13:$14M

December 2, 2005 Bob Howry Signed as a Free Agent with the Chicago Cubs
2006 32 Chicago Cubs $3,000,000
2007 33 Chicago Cubs $4,500,000
2008 34 Chicago Cubs $4,500,000

Mike Adams rhp
2 years/$12M (2013-14), plus 2015 club option
signed by Philadelphia as a free agent 12/15/12
13:$5M, 14:$7M, 15:$6M club option

Koji Uehara rhp
2 years/$10M (2009-10)
signed by Baltimore as a free agent 1/13/09
09:$5M, 10:$5M

Sean Marshall got 3/16.5 plus incentives with the Reds in 2012 but that was an extension, not FA

November 19, 2010: Joaquin Benoit Signed as a Free Agent with the Detroit Tigers.
2011 33 Detroit Tigers $5,500,000
2012 34 Detroit Tigers $5,500,000
2013 35 Detroit Tigers $5,500,000

Tsuyoshi Wada lhp
2 years/$8.14M (2012-13), plus 2014 option
signed by Baltimore as a free agent from Japan 12/14/11
12:$3.94M, 13:$4.2M, 14:$5M option

Octavio Dotel Career to date $41,080,000 (109 saves in 15 years)

Frank Francisco rhp
2 years/$12M (2012-13)
signed by NY Mets as a free agent 12/8/11
12:$5.5M, 13:$6.5M

Mike Gonzalez lhp
2 years/$12M (2010-11)
signed by Baltimore as a free agent 12/18/09
10:$6M, 11:$6M

Scot Shields never a free agent, but
2003 27 Anaheim Angels $305,000
2004 28 Anaheim Angels $375,000
2005 29 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim $925,000
2006 30 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim $2,100,000
2007 31 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim $3,400,000
2008 32 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim $4,250,000
2009 33 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim $5,000,000
2010 34 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim $5,350,000

November 11, 2007: JC Romero Signed as a Free Agent with the Philadelphia Phillies.
2008 32 Philadelphia Phillies $3,250,000
2009 33 Philadelphia Phillies $4,250,000
2010 34 Philadelphia Phillies $4,250,000


That's a bunch of guys I thought of off the top of my head, I'm sure there are more. So, the answer is basically "roughly 3/$15m" aside from the Soriano outlier.
   87. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: February 17, 2014 at 03:32 PM (#4658106)
Boone Logan. This year. Look it up. Boone. Logan.
   88. Sweatpants Posted: February 17, 2014 at 03:40 PM (#4658112)
What evidence is there that the Braves bullpen system is effective at all? I mean other than following baseballs hallowed formula to minimize second guessing of Fredi's decisions? Getting good performances out of good relievers doesn't mean you managed your pen well, it means you have good relievers.
Gonzalez has been the Braves' manager since 2011. Since then, the Braves have the lowest bullpen ERA in the majors (2.76). He's gotten good performances out of good relievers, yes, but he's also gotten good performances out of guys like Chad Durbin, Cristhian Martinez, and David Carpenter. It's possible that these have been flukes; if not for a somewhat fluky home run from Juan Uribe, no one would be talking about how Gonzalez specifically needs to change his bullpen usage.

I'm not going to pretend to be a fan of modern closer usage, but I'm also not gonna give Fredi Gonzalez crap unless I think he deserves it. As far as I can tell, he manages his relieves a lot like Bobby Cox did - use the same guys in the same situations, over and over, and if their arms make it out okay, good for them. If not, there are always more relievers out there.
   89. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: February 17, 2014 at 04:02 PM (#4658123)
Boone Logan. This year. Look it up. Boone. Logan.

Okay, good one, I didn't know about that. 3 years/$16.5M (2014-16). So, right on track. Looks like we may have our answer.
   90. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: February 17, 2014 at 04:12 PM (#4658128)
Eric O'Flaherty's new contract with Billy Beane's Athletics comes to mind too.
   91. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: February 17, 2014 at 04:16 PM (#4658131)
RE: Fredi's bullpen usage, his one truly horrible result - the Collapse of 2011 - was driven significantly (many have argued) by a collapse of his bullpen due to over usage. Kimbrel and Venters both crashed hard down the stretch that year, after being ridden hard. (The offense also cratered down the stretch too, which is why the hired new hitting coaches in 2012.)
   92. Walt Davis Posted: February 17, 2014 at 05:08 PM (#4658160)
#80 ... it's hard to say. gmLI is the average of the _opening_ leverage index but is then "weighted by the number of batters faced in that appearance." That sounds like a very silly thing to do but then "weighted" could mean anything. If it's weighted such that pitcher who face more batters (but don't get more outs) get a higher gmLI score (which then gives them higher WAR) then this is dumb as rocks. If it's weighted such that they receive lower scores, then that may make sense.

Note weighting it by the number of outs achieved or, probably better, some reward for multiple innings would be fine.

So I don't know exactly what gmLI is measuring and it seems to be called aLI in P-I to confuse things further.

Anyhoo, the point is that Gossage, Sutter, etc. had gmLIs over 2 year after year after year. Looking at 2011-2013, I noticed only one pitcher with even 2 seasons with an aLI above 2 and that was Jim Johnson. Which seems to make it clear that aLI and gmLI are NOT the same thing as his gmLI those years was under 2.

My guess is that aLI is the average LI across the entire appearance (glossary again not clear) and may be "biased" against multi-inning pitchers -- get out of a jam in the 8th and your 9th inning LI is lower than when you entered. Hopefully that's what gmLI is meant to address.

Since modern closers almost all enter only at the start of the 9th, any variation in their entering LI is a function of the distribution of 1,2,3,4+ lead appearances. If aLI or gmLI is rewarding less effective relievers with higher LI factors, then that's dumb. I doubt that's what they're doing though -- at least not intentionally.

Anyway, I don't know what LI-based number on b-r is appropriate for comparing relievers across eras. But there's no way that a guy entering the 8th with runners on and then pitching the 9th with a 1/2/3 run lead wasn't leveraged better than the guy who only pitched the 9th. It may be a less effective approach than using 2+ pitchers but the "leverage" has to be higher.
   93. Colin Posted: February 17, 2014 at 05:25 PM (#4658168)
The thing that fascinates me about the Kimbrel deal is just how little he's pitched in earning this deal. The guy has 378 professional innings as a career, and he just got a four to five year commitment from a mid-market team for 10% of their payroll. Nice gig if you can get it.
   94. Pleasant Nate (Upgraded from 'Nate') Posted: February 17, 2014 at 08:38 PM (#4658247)
Closers still make more money in arb, IIRC. Not as much as there used to be, but still some incentive to get the ninth inning gig.
   95. Pleasant Nate (Upgraded from 'Nate') Posted: February 17, 2014 at 08:46 PM (#4658248)
Adding on to 94, consider:

Jim Johnson got $10M in arb after posting a 2.73 ERA (157 ERA+) and 101 saves in two years.

David Robertson got $5.2M in arb after posting a 2.32 ERA (180 ERA+) and 5 saves in two years. Johnson had a few more innings, but Robertson was the better pitcher.

   96. KT's Pot Arb Posted: February 17, 2014 at 09:41 PM (#4658273)
They had exactly two opportunities where it made sense to use Kimbrel, and one of them made perfect sense to use Carpenter in the manner he was used all year.


It made perfect sense to use the journeyman against Puig & Uribe, the Dodgers best remaining hitters in a must win game, because that's what lazy Fredi did all year? The guy with significantly worse year and career splits vs RHB than Kimbrel, and when Craig was rested enough to pitch 2 innings?

I mean you aren't even trying.

The best use of Kimbrel was probably to let him start that game, When you have Freddy Garcia as your starter for a must win you better to be creative. Let Kimbrel work through the first two innings before bringing in Garcia, that puts your best pitcher against their best hitters, and then forces them to adjust to a totally different pitcher second time through.

Did the Braves even want to win?
   97. KT's Pot Arb Posted: February 17, 2014 at 09:46 PM (#4658277)
Gonzalez has been the Braves' manager since 2011. Since then, the Braves have the lowest bullpen ERA in the majors (2.76). He's gotten good performances out of good relievers, yes, but he's also gotten good performances out of guys like Chad Durbin, Cristhian Martinez, and David Carpenter. It's possible that these have been flukes; if not for a somewhat fluky home run from Juan Uribe, no one would be talking about how Gonzalez specifically needs to change his bullpen usage.


And what would that ERA be if Kimbrel had been pitching in the 6th and 7th instead of 9th?

Clearly lower. I can't praise a guy who wastes the best reliever of this generation.
   98. SteveM. Posted: February 17, 2014 at 09:46 PM (#4658278)

Did the Braves even want to win?


Now that is just silly. Can we actually base debate in here on reality or is this simply a faculty meeting at my college?
   99. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: February 17, 2014 at 10:17 PM (#4658292)
Clearly lower. I can't praise a guy who wastes the best reliever of this generation.


Is there any modern (or even pre-modern) manager you would praise? It seems like the decisions Gonzalez made are typical of the standard bullpen usage we've seen from >95% of teams over the past 20+ years. It seems like your scorn should be more directed towards that school of managing rather than Gonzalez or the Braves in particular.
   100. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: February 17, 2014 at 10:32 PM (#4658299)
It made perfect sense to use the journeyman against Puig & Uribe, the Dodgers best remaining hitters in a must win game, because that's what lazy Fredi did all year? The guy with significantly worse year and career splits vs RHB than Kimbrel, and when Craig was rested enough to pitch 2 innings?


You're a fan boy on this, so you're not going to listen, but no. Here's why it made more sense.

First, your blind assertion that Kimbrel was rested enough to pitch 2 innings is true - he could have done that - but fails to argue, much less provide evidence, that Kimbrel would have been effective two innings in a row.

Second, Carpenter pitched the 8th, against RHBs, whom he destroyed all year. Kimbrel was being held to face the top of the order and the likely at bat of Ramirez, who had been the Dodgers best hitter all series long. Carpenter against the RHBs and the bottom of the order, then Kimbrel (for one inning) against the LHB and Ramirez at the top of the order was the best strategic plan. It blew up because Uribe fatted into a hanging curve. That's outcome, not strategy.

The rest of your post is just you, once again, being a fan boy. For example when you say:

Clearly lower.


No evidence. No argument. Just blind assertion and your mancrush on Kimbrel leading the way.

Gonzalez used his pen properly in Game 4 of the 2013 NLDS, results notwithstanding.
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