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— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

2008 ZiPS Projections - Houston Astros

The Astros are essentially the NL version of the Orioles.  Both teams aren’t rich enough to be free-wheelin’, aren’t poor enough that they feel the need to be creative, and mistake taking the middle road as not having a plan at all, leaving them just sort of meandering around.  Sure, they managed to get to the World Series in 2005,  but even that team only won 89 games despite having the 3 of the NL’s top 6 starters in ERA+ that year and neither of that 1-2 punch, Clemens and Pettitte, aren’t Astros now and won’t be in 2008.  Hiring Ed Wade doesn’t exactly suggest a solid plan will be put in place at any time in the near future.  Like the Orioles, the Astros have a supportive fanbase that will reward them if they put together a solid team in the long-term.

I did the spotlight for Jason Jennings.  I know he’s not technically an Astro anymore, but in an amazingly weak free agent market for pitching, he’s one of the more interesting hurlers out there and might be one of the few bargains after a 2007 season he’d like to forget (like Bartolo Colon).


Name               P Age   AVG   OBP   SLG   G AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI BB   K SB CS
Lance Berkman#        1b 32 .277 .396 .520 149 531 90 147 28 1 33 105 101 109 4 3
Carlos Lee           lf 32 .286 .345 .503 156 612 92 175 37 0 32 113 54 87 10 3
Hunter Pence         rf 25 .292 .343 .510 155 612 77 179 39 8 26 94 47 123 12 5
AVERAGE 1B——————- 1b——.279 .356 .480—————————————————————
Luke Scott*          rf 30 .258 .348 .492 138 431 58 111 28 5 21 72 56 105 3 2
AVERAGE LF——————- lf——.277 .348 .461—————————————————————
AVERAGE RF——————- rf——.277 .345 .463—————————————————————
AVERAGE 3B——————- 3b——.274 .342 .449—————————————————————
Ty Wigginton         3b 30 .273 .335 .467 129 458 61 125 26 0 21 69 43 98 3 3
Mike Lamb*          1b 32 .273 .344 .433 113 300 44 82 14 2 10 44 32 54 1 1
AVERAGE CF——————- cf——.272 .335 .425—————————————————————
AVERAGE 2B——————- 2b——.276 .336 .414—————————————————————
AVERAGE SS——————- ss——.274 .328 .407—————————————————————
AVERAGE C———————- c——.260 .320 .403—————————————————————
Mark Loretta         2b 36 .274 .344 .350 123 468 57 128 22 1 4 48 44 48 2 1
Chris Burke         2b 28 .246 .320 .367 129 398 59 98 22 1 8 41 34 75 16 5
Mark Saccomanno       1b 28 .242 .284 .420 113 405 28 98 17 2 17 62 23 110 1 2
Justin Towles         c   24 .250 .322 .379 114 388 42 97 18 1 10 48 23 73 9 11
Hector Gimenez#      c   25 .256 .305 .359 80 281 25 72 8 0 7 29 19 46 1 1
Craig Biggio         2b 42 .239 .293 .384 112 422 57 101 26 1 11 54 24 84 3 1
Cody Ransom         3b 32 .219 .291 .389 125 388 38 85 18 0 16 54 36 117 7 3
Tim Raines Jr.#      lf 28 .258 .300 .375 122 392 46 101 18 2 8 39 21 91 20 8
Michael Costanzo*      3b 24 .225 .300 .366 134 475 39 107 23 1 14 53 45 154 0 1
Mike Rodriguez*      cf 27 .247 .312 .348 105 348 43 86 15 4 4 32 30 55 11 5
Reggie Abercrombie     cf 27 .236 .279 .401 115 364 52 86 15 3 13 42 15 113 21 6
Brooks Conrad#        2b 28 .211 .288 .378 135 503 63 106 30 3 16 63 51 145 10 3
Geoff Blum#          3b 35 .241 .305 .341 92 249 26 60 14 1 3 24 22 39 0 1
Michael Bourn*        lf 25 .250 .314 .320 133 300 52 75 7 4 2 22 27 63 22 4
Humberto Quintero     c   28 .254 .288 .358 98 307 27 78 17 0 5 30 11 53 1 1
Adam Everett         ss 31 .240 .284 .332 107 371 38 89 18 2 4 36 19 65 9 3
Drew Sutton#        3b 25 .221 .291 .317 146 539 56 119 23 1 9 47 50 123 16 7
Orlando Palmeiro*      lf 39 .244 .315 .293 65 82   9 20 4 0 0 10   7 10 0 1
Yordany Ramirez       cf 23 .247 .274 .349 109 392 46 97 18 2 6 40 12 83 19 9
Ray Sadler           cf 27 .206 .265 .365 137 471 39 97 20 2 17 58 34 141 9 7
Barry Wesson         rf 31 .230 .281 .316 110 304 24 70 12 1 4 24 20 77 6 3
Eli Iorg           rf 25 .210 .249 .338 91 328 33 69 17 2 7 32 14 94 16 4
Brad Ausmus         c   39 .219 .296 .254 104 315 26 69 11 0 0 28 30 60 3 1

* - Bats Left
# = Switch-Hitter

Name           CThr 1b 2b 3b ss lf cf rf
Berkman#          Av       Pr   Pr
Lee                       Pr    
Pence                     Av Av Av
Scott*                    Av   Av
Wigginton           Av Pr Pr   Fr   Fr
Lamb*            Fr Pr Pr        
Loretta           Av Av Fr Pr      
Burke               Av   Fr Fr Pr Fr
Saccomanno         Av   Pr       Fr
Towles         Av                
Gimenez#        Vg                
Biggio               Fr          
Ransom               Av Av Fr      
Raines#                    Vg Fr Vg
Costanzo*              Av        
Rodriguez*                  Av Fr Av
Abercrombie                 Vg Av Vg
Conrad#        Fr     Fr Av        
Blum#            Av Fr Av Fr Fr   Fr
Quintero       Vg                
Bourn*                    Vg Av Vg
Everett                 Ex      
Sutton#            Av Fr Fr Pr      
Palmeiro*                  Fr   Fr
Ramirez                     Vg  
Sadler                     Vg Vg Vg
Wesson                     Av Fr Av
Iorg                     Av   Av
Ausmus         Av                

Player Spotlight - Hunter Pence
Name           AVG   OBP   SLG   G AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI BB   K SB CS
Optimistic (15%)  .318 .375 .569 161 642 92 204 46 11 31 119 58 115 17 5
Mean         .292 .343 .510 155 612 77 179 39 8 26 94 47 123 12 5
Pessimistic (15%) .273 .322 .441 99 392 42 107 22 4 12 54 28 87 6 4

Top Near-Age Offensive Comps:  Magglio Ordonez, Pete Fox

Name               Age   ERA   W   L   G GS   INN   H   ER HR   BB   K
Roy Oswalt           30   3.48 15 10 34 33   225.0 229   87 19   52 169
Geoff Geary           31   3.70   5   3 70   0   90.0   91   37   8   24   57
Chad Qualls           29   3.86   6   5 79   0   84.0   82   36 10   26   67
Trever Miller*        35   3.94   1   1 70   0   48.0   44   21   5   20   47
Oscar Villarreal       26   4.17   3   2 58   0   82.0   83   38 10   26   58
LEAGUE AVERAGE RELIEVER———4.19———————————————————————-
Samuel Gervacio       23   4.30   5   6 56   0   88.0   86   42 11   34   77
Jason Jennings         28   4.56   7   8 25 25   140.0 145   71 16   58   99
Dave Borkowski         31   4.56   3   4 57   0   75.0   76   38   8   31   58
LEAGUE AVERAGE STARTER———- 4.60———————————————————————-
Fernando Nieve         25   4.70   4   4 23 13   92.0   85   48 14   33   70
Wandy Rodriguez*      26   4.72 10 14 34 32   185.0 192   97 23   68 140
Philip Barzilla*      29   4.75   6   8 28 16   125.0 137   66 11   55   63
Felipe Paulino         24   4.78   5   7 23 16   96.0   98   51 12   42   75
Brian Moehler         36   4.87   2   4 51   0   61.0   70   33   8   19   33
Chad Reineke         26   4.90   6   8 36 17   123.0 126   67 15   63   92
Paul Estrada         25   4.98   5   8 59   0   94.0   93   52 14   46   84
Chris Sampson         30   4.99   6 10 31 19   139.0 163   77 23   28   63
Mark McLemore*        27   5.00   3   4 35 11   81.0   82   45 11   47   64
Brandon Backe         30   5.02   5   7 16 16   86.0   91   48 13   37   55
Travis Driskill       36   5.13   4   6 46   1   72.0   78   41 14   23   54
Dennis Sarfate         27   5.19   6   9 44 14   118.0 122   68 14   68   92
Woody Williams         41   5.23   7 12 28 27   160.0 184   93 28   48   87
Brad James           24   5.31   5   9 23 22   122.0 138   72 16   53   55
Troy Patton*          22   5.41   7 14 28 27   163.0 182   98 27   62   99
Juan Gutierrez         24   5.44   6 10 29 26   154.0 168   93 26   61 101
Matt Albers           25   5.53   7 13 34 27   171.0 190 105 26   77 112
Chan Ho Park         35   5.63   6 13 26 25   144.0 161   90 25   58 106
Chance Douglass       24   5.75   5 11 29 24   158.0 180 101 28   68   86
Jared Gothreaux       28   5.75   5   9 28 19   122.0 144   78 22   38   62
Stephen Randolph*      34   6.00   3   7 54   0   63.0   59   42 12   54   70

* - Throws Left

Player Spotlight - Jason Jennings
              ERA   W   L   G GS INN   H   ER HR   BB   K
Optimistic (15%)  3.70   9   7 25 25 158 149   65 14   55 123
Mean           4.56   7   8 23 23 140 145   71 16   58   99
Pessimistic (15%)  5.42   4   8 19 19 113 127   68 16   53   72

Top Near-Age Comps:  Jason Johnson, Charlie Hudson

Disclaimer:  ZiPS projections are computer-based projections of performance. 
Performances have not been allocated to predicted playing time in the majors -
many of the players listed above are unlikely to play in the majors at all in 2008. 
ZiPS is projecting equivalent production - a .240 ZiPS projection may end up
being .280 in AAA or .300 in AA, for example.  Whether or not a player will play
is one of many non-statistical factors one has to take into account when predicting
the future.

Players are listed with their most recent teams unless Dan has made a mistake. 
This is very possible as a lot of minor-league signings are generally unreported in
the offseason. 

ZiPS is projecting based on the AL having a 4.49 ERA and the NL having a 4.40 ERA.

Nationals

Projections

Blue Jays

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Rangers

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Rays

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Cardinals

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Mariners

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Giants

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Padres

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Pirates

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Phillies

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A’s

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Yankees

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Mets

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Twins

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Brewers

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Dodgers

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Angels

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Royals

Projections

Dan Szymborski Posted: November 27, 2007 at 04:37 AM | 43 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Foster Posted: November 27, 2007 at 04:56 AM (#2625789)
So, I guess Chris Burke is not good after all.
   2. Greg K Posted: November 27, 2007 at 05:03 AM (#2625793)
So who is the prospective 2B right now?
And is Bourn settled in for CF?

Is it possible they could have 4 sub .300 OBP guys in their starting lineup?
   3. lincarnate Posted: November 27, 2007 at 05:17 AM (#2625802)
That Brad Ausmus projection is amazing for all the wrong reasons.
   4. Neil Kinnock...Lord Palmerston! (Orinoco) Posted: November 27, 2007 at 05:32 AM (#2625814)
Is Hunter Pence a long-time solution for CF? It seems the Astros are eager to push him to right for some reason.
   5. karkface killah Posted: November 27, 2007 at 05:40 AM (#2625818)
Holy ####. Bourn doesn't look too good. I thought he was the key piece to the Lidge deal.

Jason Jennings' closest comp is Jason Johnson? I knew there was a reason I couldn't keep them straight in my mind.
   6. Moe Greene Posted: November 27, 2007 at 05:48 AM (#2625823)
Is Mark Saccomanno related to Bob?
   7. Walt Davis Posted: November 27, 2007 at 07:37 AM (#2625865)
The O's comparison is a bit unfair -- the Astros have really only been meandering since Purpura took over. The O's have been meandering for a decade now. But yes, the Ed Wade hire suggest the Stros are the new Os.

Offensively, this looks like an older version of the Twins. Only 5 guys (Lamb's an FA) project to hit better than an average C and there's no help ready on the farm. They've got a lot of PAs they need to find somewhere. Of course, for some reason this got spun as a positive for the Twins. :-)

The pitching's nowhere near as promising as the Twins though.

In a lot of ways, this looks like a typical Cub team. A couple really, really good players (Oswalt, Berkman, maybe Pence), another good-OK corner player or two (Lee, maybe Wigginton) and crap hitters at the positions it's hard to find good hitters ... so you end up saying "sure, we'd like to find a better 2B than Loretta or Burke but there just aren't any available and those guys aren't THAT bad."

I'd love to see the pessimistic projection on Ausmus. I know, the real pessimistic projection is out of baseball by May 10 but ZIPS will project him to lots of PT.

And I always knew Everett was a bad hitter ... don't think I realized how bad until now though.

Oswalt's gotta be regretting that extension.
   8. The District Attorney Posted: November 27, 2007 at 07:51 AM (#2625868)
Is Mark Saccomanno related to Bob?
You tell that son of a bit?h he's never getting called up to Houston! Not as long as you ??stards are running things!
   9. Smitty* Posted: November 27, 2007 at 01:11 PM (#2625905)
The Jennings projection in the team section and in the spotlight don't match.
   10. Dan Szymborski Posted: November 27, 2007 at 02:04 PM (#2625924)
Fixed - I had last year's projection in the team section.
   11. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: November 27, 2007 at 03:37 PM (#2625974)
"So, I guess Chris Burke is not good after all."

Burke's the butcher, Hare's the thief, and Knox the man who buys the beef.
   12. bsball Posted: November 27, 2007 at 03:55 PM (#2625988)
A few notes.

1. For 2008 I think the Astros are hoping that Towles will be the primary catcher and Ausmus will be the backup/mentor. Towles hit pretty well at the end of last year. The Astros may be able to hope for league average C production here soon.

2. Tal Smith is taking a more active role and it will be Smith and Wade making the plans, not just Wade. I believe Wade and Smith have a plan for 2008.

3. The plan for 2008 included finding a CF (Bourn), a 2b (targets included Iguchi, Castillo, and Matsui), tinker with the bullpen, turn spare parts (Luke Scott, Chris Burke) into something useful. They are aiming to improve team speed and defense.

4. Pence is being moved to RF because he is not seen as a good enough fielder for CF. Some even think he is better suited to LF, but that position is taken. Bourn is reputed to be an excellent defender in CF. The Fans' scouting report seems to agree.

5. I think Bourn is slated to lead off. His minor league record shows decent patience (.378 OBP and 10% BB rate) and that seemed to carry over to MLB (.340 OBP and 10% BB rate) last year. Why does ZIPs think he's only a .306 OBP for next year? Also, Bourn is only 25.

6. Losing Lidge is a blow to the bullpen, but I it looks like they are trying to replace him (e.g. competitive offer to Cordero). I think they only traded him because they thought the return (Bourn + Geary + AAA 3b) would be worth it. If Bourn turns into a league average CF (offense + defense) it's probably a good deal.

With a little luck on the pitching side this plan could turn into a .500 season for 2008.
   13. Dan Szymborski Posted: November 27, 2007 at 04:21 PM (#2626022)
Bourn's minor league OBP is .378, but that's all from extremely low levels.
   14. Mike Emeigh Posted: November 27, 2007 at 04:53 PM (#2626069)
Bourn's minor league OBP is .378, but that's all from extremely low levels.


Mostly, anyway. He posted .348 and .350 at Reading (a good hitting environment), and .362 at SWB (but in just 38 games).

Bourn's Willy Taveras all over again.

-- MWE
   15. Dan Szymborski Posted: November 27, 2007 at 04:55 PM (#2626071)
Eyeballing it, it looks like the projection's low as I have his OBPs for Reading translated to .311 and .318 - I'll double-check.
   16. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 27, 2007 at 05:01 PM (#2626081)
turn spare parts (Luke Scott, Chris Burke) into something useful.

Why do you view Luke Scott as a spare part? He looks like a very serviceable OF, and he must still be cheap.

Why not just leave Pence in CF?
   17. Dan Szymborski Posted: November 27, 2007 at 05:14 PM (#2626092)
Very slight uptick for Bourn - it seems I got a Jason Bourgeois year in there. Not a big difference as Bourgeois's not much worse a hitter than Bourn.

I don't see any way that a Lee-Bourn-Pence is anywhere near as good as Lee-Pence-Scott. There's no real evidence that Pence can't handle center and the conclusion that Bourn is some awesome centerfielder is quite premature considering he wasn't highly regarded, his defensive stats in the minors were good, not great, and he's fielded all of 16 balls in the majors as a centerfielder.
   18. Mike Green Posted: November 27, 2007 at 05:46 PM (#2626128)
Bourn is a judgment call. He turns 25 next month. He does have a history at some points of very good strike zone control and he is a very efficient base-stealing threat. His 85% projection would probably be about .270/.360/.370 in 600 PAs with a 45-6 SB/CS. With his defensive abilities, he could be a very valuable property for an organization like the Astros over the next few years. The subjective assessment of motivation and learning ability would be very important.

Luke Scott is 30, and it is unlikely that he will be a valuable property over the medium term.
   19. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 27, 2007 at 06:18 PM (#2626174)
Luke Scott is 30, and it is unlikely that he will be a valuable property over the medium term.

I agree, but can the Astros really afford to be giving up above average hitters? They ain't got too many of them.

When you have gaping holes at C, 2B, SS and 3B, how can you consider moving your 4th best hitter to play a rookie CF with no history of offensive success above AA?
   20. bsball Posted: November 27, 2007 at 06:38 PM (#2626202)
Dan, If I remember right, Pence played RF in the minors and was always thought of as an RF until last year. Putting Pence in CF was seen as an emergency stopgap after the Chris Burke experiment was abandoned. I don't know that there is enough evidence to show whether Pence can be good as a CF but it looks like the Astros haven't got much confidence in it.

Snapper, with Pence in right there is no place to play Scott. I think he is wasted on the bench as a 4th OF. I personally wouldn't mind if Lee was traded for pitching and Scott was given LF. But that isn't going to happen. The Astros are looking at this as a tradeoff of defense for offense.
   21. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 27, 2007 at 06:58 PM (#2626230)
Putting Pence in CF was seen as an emergency stopgap

Didn't know that. Don't follow the team closely. What do the advanced stats say about his D?

The Astros are looking at this as a tradeoff of defense for offense.

I guess my broader point is I don't think they can afford to do this.
   22. Dan Szymborski Posted: November 27, 2007 at 07:51 PM (#2626279)
PMR had Pence 2 outs worse than average. The Dial LW method had his range at 3 runs worse than average and an arm 1 better than average. The only UZR I've got is MGL's mid-season update with Pence 1 run better than average.

All in all, whether or not he was considered a CF option, it's clear that the evidence suggests that he's at least adequate in center. I can envision a team that might have use for Bourn as a starter in center, at least until he demonstrates that he's not a big plus defensively, but not on a bad, old, shallow offensive team with no real strong flyball pitchers, Troy Patton the most notable exception, but I don't think he's ready yet.
   23. jayjay Posted: November 27, 2007 at 08:27 PM (#2626320)
Matt Albers is their 12th-to-14th range best starting pitcher? There's some guys ahead of him I've never even heard of.
   24. NJ in DC (Now unemployed!) Posted: November 27, 2007 at 09:04 PM (#2626357)
I'm fairly certain Pence came up as a CF.
   25. bsball Posted: November 27, 2007 at 09:16 PM (#2626377)
Hank, He was called up to play CF. But in the minors he had been playing RF not CF. I think the organization has always thought of him as a hitting prospect first and a fielder second. The defensive stats and Tango's fan scouting have him as a decent CF. Maybe Pence has improved defensively and the organization hasn't recognized that yet. Or maybe the stats are too small a sample to be sure. If he's a legit CF then I think Dan's right that Lee, Pence, Scott is better than what the Astros seem to be going for.
   26. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: November 27, 2007 at 09:28 PM (#2626399)
His 85% projection would probably be about .270/.360/.370 in 600 PAs with a 45-6 SB/CS. With his defensive abilities, he could be a very valuable property for an organization like the Astros over the next few years. The subjective assessment of motivation and learning ability would be very important.
The 85% projection Bourn would make you happy. In the right place he could steal 50-60 bases. He's very fast. As far as motivation, he always looked like he was going full bore, said the right stuff, etc. Don't have any way to judge learning ability other than he ain't ever gonna learn to hit with power. :)
I think the Willy Taveras is pretty accurate.
The Phillies have had some guys bloom late (Utley, Howard, Ruiz), so for whatever relevance that has, maybe Bourn will be a bit of a late bloomer. The Lidge trade was a good gamble trade all around -- helps the Phils (most likely), gives the Astros a couple of darts to toss at the dart board along with a perfectly adequate relief pitcher for Ed Wade to feel good about.
   27. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 27, 2007 at 09:38 PM (#2626413)
PMR had Pence 2 outs worse than average. The Dial LW method had his range at 3 runs worse than average and an arm 1 better than average. The only UZR I've got is MGL's mid-season update with Pence 1 run better than average.

Then I'd say they have to stick with Lee/Pence/Scott until they get some ML quality hitters in the infield besides Berkman.

You take Scott out of that lineup now and it's a complete joke.
   28. Mike Emeigh Posted: November 27, 2007 at 10:03 PM (#2626455)
Houston's problems last year were myriad:

-- an offense that wasn't very good (10th in OBP, 10th in SLG, playing in a power hitters' park), and that wound up being less than the sum of its parts (13th in scoring runs - they should have scored about 10-15 more runs than they did, by my crude estimator).

-- pitching that was pretty bad, outside of Oswalt and the front of the bullpen.

-- weak up-the-middle defense after Everett went down. Not terrible (except for Biggio, who saw his PT cut in the second half), just below average.

-- few in-house solutions to fix any of the problems.

Given that Drayton McLane doesn't want to spend money, the Astros are following a small-market model for remaining at least competitive; try to improve the defense and pitching and hope to keep the games low-scoring enough to steal wins. Unfortunately, they have a ballpark which is going to work against them to some extent. MMP isn't a great hitter's environment, but the Crawford boxes in left make it tough for pitchers to keep the ball in play.

-- MWE
   29. The Essex Snead Posted: November 27, 2007 at 10:17 PM (#2626470)
The Phillies have had some guys bloom late (Utley, Howard, Ruiz), so for whatever relevance that has, maybe Bourn will be a bit of a late bloomer.

I thought the case of Utley and Howard wasn't that they bloomed late, but that they were laying waste to the minors, & were held back only because of someone @ the major league level (Polanco / Bell & Thome, respectively) blocking their path.
   30. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 27, 2007 at 10:30 PM (#2626480)
Given that Drayton McLane doesn't want to spend money, the Astros are following a small-market model for remaining at least competitive

They why don't they trade Oswalt and Berkman? With the packages that are being talked about for Cabrera and Santana, they could rebuild pretty quickly.
   31. Mike Emeigh Posted: November 27, 2007 at 10:36 PM (#2626485)
They why don't they trade Oswalt and Berkman?


Because they have to keep at least a couple recognizable names around, or else the fan base will lose interest.

-- MWE
   32. Dingbat_Charlie Posted: November 27, 2007 at 10:57 PM (#2626505)
maybe they are moving Pence out of CF to protect his legs from Tal's Hill.
   33. BreakOut Posted: November 28, 2007 at 05:43 AM (#2626787)
I'll be very disappointed if Bourn, Towles and Berkman don't perform a whole lot better than this projection in 2008.
   34. stubbyc Posted: November 28, 2007 at 05:47 AM (#2626789)
Are you sure you didn't substitute Towles' pessimistic projection in there Dan? That seems like an awfully poor projection considering his minor league track record.
   35. Dan Szymborski Posted: November 28, 2007 at 05:58 AM (#2626793)
Are you sure you didn't substitute Towles' pessimistic projection in there Dan?

Yes. Chone has Towles a little better, but it's not huge - 332/407.
   36. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: November 28, 2007 at 06:14 AM (#2626799)
I thought the case of Utley and Howard wasn't that they bloomed late, but that they were laying waste to the minors
Both rocketed up the prospect charts in his age 24 years. Utley was maybe held back close to a year because of Polanco and Bell; Howard was stifled for no more than a 1/2 year.
   37. base ball chick Posted: November 28, 2007 at 06:27 AM (#2626803)
tal smith and ed wade have already said that they intend to make the astros a pitching/defense team. which they will have to because there will only be 3 guys left in the lineup who can hit. towles had only 1 year at AA/AAA and i seriously doubt he is gonna hit for a high average like he did in his 40 AB

thee is no question whatsoever that an OF of lee, pence, scott is incredibly better than lee, bourn, pence. he looks to me to be around league average

pence played cf in AA but RF before that.

but for some reason, it is obvious that they dislike luke scott - they didn't give him the RF job he had EARNED last year. i think he is on the tradeing block and i hope we can get something decent for him. they have also gotten rid of loretta and lamb, the only other guys who can hit.

i looked at bourn's stats and agree that he is taveras all over again - with fewer bunt singles. agree that there is absolutely no reason to think he will be a great CF.

dan always has pessimistic projections for the astros players what can i say

they CAN'T trade berkman because he has a complete no trade and has said on the record more than once that he refuses to leave houston. as for trading owwalt, our ONLY good pitcher as welll as fan fave? not real too smart.

and dead right about mclane not wanting to spend money. he been cutting corners with drafting and the farm for about 5 years now and it is gonna cost us for years and years
   38. kwarren Posted: November 29, 2007 at 05:44 AM (#2627773)
dan always has pessimistic projections for the astros players what can i say

Dan has pessimistic projections for most players.

The reason as I understand it, in very simple terms, is that ZIPS is designed to come to a zero sum total whereby the average of all the OPS projections equals the expected major league average OPS.

Here are the implications of this. Let's assume that ZIPS expects an average OPS of .760 in the major leagues in 08. Let's assume that there are no injuries to hitters whatsoever in 08. In this case the real major leauge OPS would probably be between .780 and .790, because very few back-up players or minor leaguers would get much playing time, and there would be nobody to pull down the average. The .760 average OPS is based a pre-detemined expected injury level. Now if ZIPS projected what everybody would do it they were healthy, it would also get an average OPS of between .780 and .790, so in order to come to an overall average of .760 OPS, it builds in a injury factor for each player thus lowering each individual projection from what the player would achieve if he stayed healthy. This adjustment is larger for older players and unproven players.

Hopefully Dan will comment on whether this explains the apparent phenomenom of almost every player getting projected to perform at somewhat lower than his established level. For the record CHONE does the same thing. The translation of player's major league stats from the minors to the majors are much harsher than others I have seen. I know Dan has done a lot of work on this and am assuming that he is at least as accurate as other sources. There is a tremendous failure rate for players who newly arrive on the major league scene and I'm not sure that this phenomenom is accurately allowed for by some MLE systems. I think they may focus too heavily on the players that achieve significant major league playing time thus biasing the translation results too positively.
   39. Dan Szymborski Posted: November 29, 2007 at 06:16 AM (#2627788)
Actually, I don't project players around a set league OPS at all - I only include those benchmarks for reference.

Last year, for instance, I projected players with 250 or more PA to collectively have a .783 OPS, a hair higher than CHONE at .782, above THT at .771 and below the others which ranged in the .790s (the actual stats turned out to be .777).

For pitchers that ended up with 50 IP, I was more optimistic than PECOTA, Marcel, and THT and CHONE was the most optimistic.

My variances also tend to be in the middle of the pack and that continued in 2007, for both hitters and pitchers.

There's no real reason for ZiPS to be considered particularly positive or negative overall on players.

Nate didn't cover them, but the Bill James-branded ones are regularly the most optimistic of all projections by a good margin.

BBC's referencing an old disagreement when, after the 2005 season I projected 8 of the 11 most-used Astros pitchers to have worse years in 2006, with the other 3 only being slight improvements (7 of those 11 pitchers did have worse years in the end).
   40. Dan Szymborski Posted: November 29, 2007 at 06:18 AM (#2627789)
was more optimistic than PECOTA, Marcel, and THT and CHONE was the most optimistic.

PECOTA, Marcel, and THT were more pessimistic than ZiPS. CHONE and one or two others were more optimistic.

Also, on the subject of MLEs, I think CHONE's weights are a bit too harsh, but the translation factors have decreased significantly since the mid-90s.
   41. kwarren Posted: November 29, 2007 at 06:45 AM (#2627800)
Nate didn't cover them, but the Bill James-branded ones are regularly the most optimistic of all projections by a good margin.

I find that STATS projections are close to useless. It was the use of their stats in 92 & 93 that persuaded me to do my own. Their projections are still bad but much better than in those days.

For 2008 - Jay Bruce (308/363/602), Chase Headley (310/409/922), J.R. Towles (293/355/462), Evan Longoria (284/365/504), Jack Cust (254/402/490), Matthew Antonelli (275/371/428).

I suspect that doing optimistic projections is probably deliberate and simply good marketing. People love to read how well their fantasy players or home town players are going to do.
   42. Dan Szymborski Posted: November 29, 2007 at 07:33 AM (#2627820)
Wow, those are some optimistic projections! Slipped digit for Headley? I certainly hope so! Unlike Bagwell's BA, I'd bet my life on that one not happening!

It's definitely more *fun* to give optimistic projections, though. Since I do them one at a time due to the way ZiPS works, I tend to remember how each player comes out and it's kinda depressing to do such a good amount of work just to tell people that their team sucks! Every Giant hitting projection, I was always hoping when I hit the button to projection, I would constantly hope that this one would be the one not to suck!
   43. Russ Posted: November 29, 2007 at 04:57 PM (#2628010)
I suspect that doing optimistic projections is probably deliberate and simply good marketing.


I think it's also a sensitivity vs. specificity issue. People seem to be able to claim more credibility for their methods if they correctly predict a prospect to do well than if they correctly predict a prospct to NOT do well. So, if you want to brag, it's better to sacrifice specificity (getting the breakout prospect right) than sensitivity (getting the struggling prospect right), even though the positive predictive value of your approach will be low due to the small number of the former and the large number of the latter. Dan's ZiPS stuff tends to be more negative because he's aggressively trying to get the overall errors of the predictions as small as possible. And that means that he needs to be better at getting the struggling prospects right, because they're a larger pool of the players.

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