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Transaction Oracle
— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Boston Red Sox

Acquired P Matt Duff from the St. Louis Cardinals for IF Tony Womack.

I hated the Red Sox signing of Tony Womack awhile back, but have to eat my words a little now.  Not that Womack isn’t a no-field, no-hit weight, but that the Red Sox actually turned a pointless signing into an actual body.  Duff is your typical minor-league veteran reliever - doesn’t throw a blazing fastball, but can control the strike zone well and keep his stuff down.  The Sox could turn to Duff in an emergency and get some decent fill-in time from him.

As for Womack, just hope that TLR thinks of him as an uber-utility guy rather than a serious contender for time at second and maybe even left.

Dan Szymborski Posted: March 23, 2004 at 12:25 AM | 6 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   201. Dan Szymborski Posted: December 13, 2002 at 03:43 PM (#560601)
I'm positive that it *is* Blanco and Josh Thigpen.
   202. Jason Posted: December 13, 2002 at 04:02 PM (#560602)
Fair enough. Still, it's too bad Blanco's stock has dropped so much. I see that he only hit .221/.240/.365 at Class A Sarasota in 2002, and .246/.296/.360 the year before, so he's two years removed from the big year I was thinking of that he had in 2000. Anyone have any other info on his injuries, and whether they're what's keeping him down? The kid's still only 21, after all.
   203. Jason Posted: December 13, 2002 at 04:15 PM (#560603)
Never mind, I guess the Baseball America article above pretty much answers my question about Blanco.

Back to Walker...
   204. Mr. Crowley Posted: December 13, 2002 at 05:25 PM (#560608)
It's a trap!
   205. Snowboy Posted: December 13, 2002 at 11:20 PM (#560612)
I thought the RedSox had been presenting some illusion of having a budget. Yes, Freddy Sanchez will be a rookie. But 2B is not/has not been the achilles heel of RedSox? I think the $3M could have been better spent on (towards) what "we" see as their true needs: 1B, closer, another starter, appearing to be in the running for Cuban/Japanese free agents, etc.
   206. yakov Posted: December 14, 2002 at 12:17 AM (#560615)
In Soviet Russia, Admiral Ackbar posts post YOU!

(my futile attempt to replace one fairly unfunny meme with a different, still fairly unfunny, but at least marginally more interesting one)
   207. Mr. Crowley Posted: December 15, 2002 at 07:11 AM (#560622)
It's a trap!
   208. NTNgod Posted: December 15, 2002 at 11:55 PM (#560636)
Anyone else think Manny and Little G are going to become best buds?
   209. Jayson Stark Posted: December 16, 2002 at 01:08 AM (#560626)
<i>Posted 7:20 p.m., December 14, 2002 - Kevin
   210. Darren Posted: December 19, 2002 at 02:06 AM (#561285)
Maybe the Sox aren't trying to "appear" that they're not taking any risks, maybe they don't want to take any risks in a year where they feel they have good shot.

They're not exactly signing Rheal Cormier for 3 years @ $3 mil./year so let's call this a safe, if uninspired, move.
   211. J. Cross Posted: December 19, 2002 at 08:05 AM (#561294)
Yes, this isn't PROOF of anything. I don't even think it's proof of how Epstein thinks. Couldn't signing Jackson for one year actually be cheaper than using Freddy Sanchez in that role since promoting him to the major leagues brings his arbitration/free agent eligibility closer. Looking at the Jackson signing as wasted money might be short sighted. He'll make $650K. Sanchez would make $300K (right?). Isn't another year before Sanchez reaches arbitration worth $350K?

The Timlin signing is a little easier to question but Timlin has been consistently good and I'm not aware of anyone in the Boston system who could be expected to be similarly effective next year.
   212. Andrew Edwards Posted: December 19, 2002 at 01:28 PM (#561296)
only 4 current shortstops have more consecutive seasons of at least 100 hits

100 hits? Your grandma could get 100 hits. Rey Ordonez got 117 last year. In around 500 career at-bats, Mike Hampton has 131 hits.

100 hits in a full season just means you have a pulse and have convinced someone to play you every day.
   213. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 19, 2002 at 03:29 PM (#561300)
With all the talk about trading Hillenbrand, the Sox may be looking at Sanchez as the backup plan at third.
   214. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 19, 2002 at 03:41 PM (#561303)
Timlin hasn't really had a bad season since 1994, though on some level that decreased K rate is cause for concern, given his age. He's more expensive than 'free talent', but the price really isn't all that high.

The merit of a signing like this is largely dependent on the resources of the signing team, and I think that the extra million bucks is a justifiable expense for a team of Boston's resources that expects to be in a real dogfight next year. One or two games blown at the start of the season while sorting out the bullpen could be the difference between October baseball and an early start on raking leaves.
   215. Mikαεl Posted: December 19, 2002 at 03:55 PM (#561304)
Sorry, hits do come in handy from time to time. Staying healthy enough to get 100 hits means something,too.

Mark, there's a flipside to those 100 hits. He's also made more than 350 outs per year in that time frame. Cruz has to be evaluated not only in terms of what he produces (mainly singles), but in terms of how many out he uses while creating that production. Earl Weaver said that your team's most precious possessions are your 27 outs, and none should be wasted. Deivi Cruz wastes so many outs while hitting .260 that there are many players who could more than replace his production.

Regarding the signings, I'm not a huge fan of the Timlin pick-up, but it is just a year, and he should be league average, maybe a little better. I can imagine money being better spent, but he does provide pretty good certainty of mediocrity. Jackson, on the other hand, is inked to a non-guaranteed contract at 300K over the minimum. He can draw walks, play defense and steal bases - he should be a good caddy for Nomar and a reasonable 25th man. As many have said before me, the hidden costs in lost development and extra service time make Sanchez more expensive, even at the minimum.
   216. True Blue n/k/a "DeJesusFreak" Posted: December 19, 2002 at 05:15 PM (#561307)
Whither Admiral Ackbar?
   217. Geoff Young Posted: December 19, 2002 at 08:13 PM (#561310)
Last year Deivi was signed by the Padres. It was panned by the experts here because he might take at bats away from some hot prospect with great MLE's.

Which is exactly what Cruz did. And he was predictably terrible.

I'm sure I'll be corrected if I'm wrong, but where is that prospect now?

After a slow start, Ramon Vazquez came on strong and finished up at .274/.344/.362. By comparison, Cruz hit .263/.294/.366. Cruz took away at-bats from a superior player. Thankfully the Orioles have made him their problem (sorry, Dan).


Actually, Vazquez is the Pads' starting shortstop now that "Two Steps to the Right and Pop Flies to Shallow Center" is gone.

What did Deivi do?

Stunk. Although he did set a career high with 22 walks in 514 at-bats.
   218. Walt Davis Posted: December 19, 2002 at 10:35 PM (#561311)
Low-risk mediocrities don't undo the good work of your All-Stars, and that's why they're preferable to the guy who combines the 1/3 shot of being Tony Fiore with the 1/3 shot of being gasoline and a match.

Are you sure? There are so few reliable relievers. I'd say Timlin has about a 1/3 chance of being gas & a match -- pretty much any reliever does. Especially 37 year-old ones.

I don't understand why folks are so resistant to this. The Braves regularly build the best bullpens in baseball out of spare parts and rookies. Meanwhile teams like the Cubs regularly build explosive bullpens out of proven vets.

Looking at BP's top 30 relievers, you find the following names: Hammond, Gagne, Romero, Vizcaino, Fiore, Weber, Holmes, Koplove, Embree, Hawkins, Witasick, Sauerbeck, Shields, Donnelly, Speier. Fully half of the top 30 relievers in baseball were guys without significant track records as successful relievers. Heck, 10 or so of them were "freely available talent."

In 2000, Embree had an ERA+ of 86; in 2001, it was down to 60; in 2002, it was 204. The Red Sox signed him earlier this offseason, so apparently they're not too worried about risky relievers undoing the good work of their All-Stars.

That said I think these were both reasonable signings for the Red Sox, though I like the Jackson signing more. Now if Epstein blows $6 M on signing a closer, get back to me. But right now he seems to be following the sabermetric principle that saves are over-rated and all you need is a pen full of good options.
   219. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 20, 2002 at 02:49 PM (#561318)
Mora's already had three seasons with a higher OBP than Cruz has ever put up. He hit more homers last year than Cruz has ever hit in a season, and even though Mora spent most of last year in center field, he's still a better defensive shortstop than Cruz is. I know which one I'd pick.

I was one of the people here who defended the Padres for signing Cruz last season. He'd been good in 2001, he hadn't been caught in the age scandal yet, and I thought that he would make a decent utility infielder for $600k with some potential to do better. He didn't improve his stock any last year, failing to rebound and assimilating far more playing time than I would have hoped, given his level of production.

I don't see any indication that he will be a respectable starter this year, and I think a team would be better off to throw a few million dollars at Jose Hernandez, strikeouts and all, than to hand a job to Cruz again. Even among bargain basement options, I'd rather try to go the cheap route with Chris Gomez or give a good utility player like Tony Graffanino regular PT and see whether he can do anything with it. Gomez, like Cruz, has had 100 hits in 5 straight seasons. Unlike Cruz, he is a good fielder, and he has shown signs of getting better at the plate, hitting for substantially more power in 2001 and 2002 than he had earlier in his career. He's been an acceptable starting shortstop in three of the last five seasons, and that's pretty good for a guy who might even wind up taking an NRI this year.
   220. Mikαεl Posted: December 20, 2002 at 04:30 PM (#561320)

Because all outs are created equal. (This isn't quite true, but in general the benefits of productive outs are offset by the ills of the double play.)

Jose Hernandez could survive all those Ks because he only made 187 outs on balls in play - flyouts, groundouts, etc. Deivi Cruz only whiffed 58 times, but he made 336 outs on balls in play. Basically, Jose Hernandez may have swung and missed a lot, but when he connected, he hit the ball hard and got on base. Cruz popped weakly to shallow left a whole lot. He made more outs than Hernandez, just by a different method.

That's why the Prospectus guys say OBP is life. OBP = 1 - Out%.
   221. Mikαεl Posted: December 20, 2002 at 04:32 PM (#561321)
Hey, whoa. Jose Hernandez made 187 outs on balls in play, and struck out 188 times. He made more outs on Ks than on grounders, flies, liners and popups combined. That's cool.
   222. Bill Posted: December 30, 2002 at 07:03 PM (#562111)
I hate to say something nice about the Traditional Rivals, but you have to like what they've done in the bullpen. The "we-don't-need-no-stinkin'-big-dollar-closer" theory seems to be gaining some traction.
   223. Bruce Markusen Posted: December 31, 2002 at 06:24 AM (#562120)
I like Mendoza, but I wouldn't use him as a starter, except as a very occasional spot starter. Every time the Yankees tried to use him as a starter on an extended basis, he came down with an injury.

Mendoza is a good reliever with a history of success in the post-season. Unlike many of today's relievers, he can be effective in two or three-inning stints out of the pen. He can also close, even though he doesn't throw particularly hard; when his sinker is on, it's a devastating pitch.

In the 2001 post-season, Mendoza was terrific. If he had been left in to pitch the eighth and ninth innings of Game Seven, the Yankees probably would have won. Not that I'm second-guessing Torre for choosing Rivera, but Mendoza was that good that October.
   224. John Posted: December 31, 2002 at 08:35 AM (#562122)
I think this is just a "fine you took Contreras, so we'll take your old guy Mendoza cause maybe he'll have a grudge against you" move. That said, Mendoza is useful so what the heck.....hes sure alot better than Frank Castillo. Of course this signing begs the question of why the BoSox bothered to sign Castillo if they were looking at Ramiro.
   225. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 31, 2002 at 05:18 PM (#562123)
Actually, it was my understanding that the Abominable Snowman was a white-colored primate that lived in the mountains and that Bigfoot was a brown-colored primate that lived in flat woodlands and rolling hills. If they weren't both fictional, they'd share a genus but be different species. Even if they were capable of mating and producing fertile offspring, they'd still be different sub-species, though I've never heard discussion of any sort of crossbreed.

Mendoza's a good pitcher, and the Sox did well to get him. He can be an asset in a number of different roles, and the exact nature of his job might not be established firmly until the offseason settles down a bit more. I could see him starting, or closing, or anything in between.
   226. Darren Posted: December 31, 2002 at 05:21 PM (#562124)
I'll ask again, not to be a wiseguy, but sincerely wondering: As long as you're spending $3 mil, why not get Remlinger? He's been healthier and better.

I also wonder if this "don't overpay for a closer" idea will work. We seem to be spending plenty on middle relievers.
   227. Mikαεl Posted: December 31, 2002 at 05:59 PM (#562125)

I think there are two primary reasons. First, Remlinger got three million over three years, not two. Second, Remlinger got that contract early in the market, when the Sox were still looking to spend on Alfonzo, Contreras and others. The money is probably a bit looser now, as all the top FAs are gone. (It's not an exculpatory theory, admittedly.)

Also, how much have the Sox really spent? I estimate the cost of their 6-man pen at about 12 million. Considering that a team's top six relievers account for 250-300 high leverage innings, that's not an unreasonable price. Further, the theory behind the no-closer bullpen is not that it's cheap - the Red Sox could've spent 12 million on relievers regardless. Rather, it's not smart to spend 50-75% of the bullpen budget on someone who will throw 25% of the innings - instead, you spend 90% of the budget to get 90% of the innings.
   228. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 02, 2003 at 08:37 PM (#562131)
One of the main differences between Mendoza and Remlinger is in their usage patterns. For the last several seasons, Remlinger's been basically a one-inning reliever. He's a GOOD one-inning reliever, but he might not be able to handle a multi-inning usage pattern. Mendoza, in contrast, averaged two innings per appearance and has started in the recent past. He fills a different role than Remlinger, and is more valuable _in that role_.
   229. Brian Posted: January 07, 2003 at 11:07 PM (#551860)
As it turns out all the Detroit fan hand-wringing was wasted. Tony Clark turned out to be quite possibly the worst player in the AL in 2002 and Detroit getting someone to take his salary was a stroke of genius. Or perhaps a stroke of idiot savant.

I wonder if they're hand wringing over Fick these days...
   230. Bill Posted: January 08, 2003 at 12:14 AM (#562492)
Is it possible to become overly obsessive about OBP? Perhaps we are if we don't see the downside to replacing an improving 27-year old hitter coming off a 65 XBH season with a brittle 32-year old for whom 65 XBH's would be two years work even if he were healthy.

We don't know the outcome to this story yet. If they turn Hillenbrand into a solid starter, then it's a good net gain.
   231. Fog City Blues Posted: January 08, 2003 at 01:13 AM (#562498)
Stupid Giants. They could've had Mueller for about the same price that they signed Neifi Perez.
   232. Grady Little Posted: January 08, 2003 at 02:51 AM (#562501)
   233. Bill Posted: January 08, 2003 at 03:01 AM (#562502)
I love the guessing-lineup game. Since every team will use 50 or more everyone is bound to be a winner at some point.
   234. MM1f Posted: January 08, 2003 at 04:02 AM (#562511)
What about Hillenbrand is so awful anyways?

I don't get to see him much, but as I recall he's a decent, cheap, young player...
   235. Mikαεl Posted: January 08, 2003 at 04:34 AM (#562512)
Whoever said Hillenbrand was awful?

He has trade value and could bring in more talent for 2003. The Sox had no replacement for him, now they do. No one said Hillenbrand is bad - I don't even know if anyone said Mueller is better.

This signing will be evaluated on whether Hillenbrand is traded for another piece which improves the team. If that happens, then having Mueller around to maintain similar production at 3B will be very valuable. If Hillenbrand isn't traded, Mueller will be an expensive redundancy.

And Jeremy M, if you think the Yankees are "at least 10 games" better, you've got a big surprise coming.
   236. Mikαεl Posted: January 08, 2003 at 04:54 AM (#562514)
Well, Julio, you're right. You probably shouldn't be an everyday player on a contender. However, you did hit 293/362/550 in Iowa and it wasn't out-of-line with your career. That's a .264 MLEqA, bad for a full-timer, but if you have a normal split, you'd probably be a solid half of a platoon.
   237. Darren Posted: January 08, 2003 at 06:07 AM (#562516)
Not that batting orders are so critical, but why does everyone want to hit Nomar 3rd? I'd put him 5th, behind Manny and Giambi, where he can flail away and knock in 150 runs.
   238. Jason Posted: January 08, 2003 at 07:32 AM (#562520)
Here's a rough comparison of the Yankees and Sox offenses using eqA:

   239. Darren Posted: January 08, 2003 at 02:45 PM (#562523)
Yankees will win 106, Boston 93, Toronto 88, Tampa 70, baltimore 65.

I think you're off by about 10 on the Sox and about 5 on the Jays. You see, the Jays need to find some dudes who can stand on that hill in the middle of the field and throw the ball toward the guy with the bat.

I agree with the assessment that the Red Sox are a bit too injury prone for comfort. That was one thing that Duquette seemed to completely ignore when signing players to long-term and/or high money contracts.
   240. Bill Posted: January 08, 2003 at 05:14 PM (#562526)
This won't do any good, but I'll try anyway.

First, it's too early to start making predictions on the Yanks and Sox. There are too many important matters up in the air. (Will the Bosox get another top starter, who is their first baseman, what will the Yanks do with their pitching surplus, who is their left fielder, etc.)

Second, regardless of the answers to these questions, both teams are going to project very strongly going into the season. With the advantage of 38 games apiece against the woeful Oriole-Rays, whichever team finishes second will be a strong wild-card contender.

Third, the ultimate relative results of the two teams will be governed in large measure by things which we have very little basis to predict including, most obviously, the health of these two rather elderly teams, the possibility of a major in-season acquisition and the performance of the Yanks international additions.

It's great to talk about the relative strengths and weaknesses of the teams and which team may have an edge, but asserting with confidence a specific win target is just silly.
   241. Toby Posted: January 08, 2003 at 09:50 PM (#562528)
How will Mueller be pronounced in Boston? Some candidates ...

   242. Bill Posted: January 08, 2003 at 10:23 PM (#562531)
Hey Theo, what does your Bill (the heavy one with the beard, not the third baseman) say about the career path of slow-footed 32-yr olds coming off injuries?

I also point out that the last time Mueller played a full season (2000, age 29), he truly did suck.
   243. Bill Posted: January 08, 2003 at 10:45 PM (#562532)
Mudpoint: Everyone (including me in the second post of this thread) agrees with your last comment. The point I was making is that Hillenbrand is a guy with pop who is 27 and improving and Mueller is a punch-and-judy guy who is 32 and reasonably likely to decline. It is not unlikely that Hillenbrand can improve a bit on last year (let's say to 340/480) while Mueller might slip a bit to 340/390 (in fact that's just what he hit in 2000 anyway). At that point we have what Vlad would call a "substantial" difference between the two offensively. Is that a reason not to sign Mueller if you can trade Hillendrand for a good starter? Of course not, but it shouldn't be ignored either.
   244. Bill Posted: January 08, 2003 at 11:22 PM (#562534)
The Yanks and Bosox play in the big-boys league, not the crybaby league. They aren't worried about the money, so why should you, Harry? It's not as if they'd lower the price of a Fenway frank if they signed someone cheaper than Mueller.
   245. Bill Posted: January 09, 2003 at 01:09 AM (#562538)
The Yank-Bosox matchup is one of the best things going in baseball right now. Ancient and bitter rivals, outstanding rosters, some super players, interesting personalities, feuding owners and, best of all, two teams that are seemingly going to stop at nothing to win. Much as I hate to agree with Red Sox fan JDH, I'm with him on this one. Let's play ball.
   246. Bill Posted: January 09, 2003 at 01:36 AM (#562540)
For what it's worth, the wire services are quoting Epstein as being very pessimistic about a deal with the Expos. It may be disinformation, of course.
   247. Jason Posted: January 09, 2003 at 01:59 AM (#562541)
I'm not sure why everyone on this post is bashing Mueller and his contract so much. Is 2.5 really all that much to spend on solid hitting third baseman with a proven track record and plays good D, injuries not withstanding.? Shea played one season which he barely equaled Mueller's career eqA (.277 to .276), cooled off in the second half, and is 27. With regards to his injuries, you gotta think Epstein and James have done their homework on the type and severity. Let's consider that Sox are contending and have every reason to reduce risk. So what other options are there for them? Randa? Not as good and more expensive. Jose Hernandez? I know everyone on this site loves him, but he had a career year last year, averaged a .314 OBA over 3500 ABs, and is older. Chris Stynes? 14 points of eqA lower and has never had more than 380 ABs in a season. As a Giants fan, it's very frustrating seeing Sabean use 2.5 mill on both Grissom and Perez and not resign Mueller.
   248. Bill Posted: January 09, 2003 at 02:31 AM (#562543)
Help me out here. A few people have mentioned that Hillenbrand "cooled off in the second half." So? Has someone demonstrated that a healthy young hitter having a worse second half than first is likely to regress? And if this is significant shouldn't they be trading Johnny Damon?
   249. Bill Posted: January 09, 2003 at 03:29 AM (#562545)
He was 331/490 before the break and 328/424 after. I don't see anything unusual about that. You could find dozens of players with similar half-season fluctuations.

Yes, he lacks plate discipline. But he improved from a 291 OBP to 330 and is just entering his prime. He hits the ball hard. He's not going to be a perennial all-star but, to my eye, he has a lot more upside than Mueller.

Switching gears, someone else said earlier that "Bill [James, I presume] likes Mueller's defensive win shares." Unless I am misreading something, this is untrue. Mueller is listed in the win shares book at 2.80 WS/1000 innings which is, as Dan would say "middling" and as I would say, mediocre. It puts him in with the likes of Todd Zeile and Dick Allen. Top-flight modern 3B's clock in with 4+.
   250. Bill Posted: January 09, 2003 at 10:57 PM (#562548)
Well put, JDH. That closer thing is so 90's.

I'm curious as to why you think he won't improve. You may be right, of course, but (a) he did improve in 2002 over 2001 and (b) he's at an age where one more step forward can be expected.
   251. Bill Posted: January 09, 2003 at 11:31 PM (#562550)
Wasn't that the book on him after 2001?
   252. Bill Posted: January 09, 2003 at 11:41 PM (#562553)
Oh, man, I don't want to get going on those half-season splits again, but his OBP did not meaningfully drop after the 2002 break.
   253. Bill Posted: January 10, 2003 at 12:02 AM (#562556)
Actually his OBP was league average. Here's something odd. In 155 PA's against the Orioles and D-Rays, he was absolutely wretched. About a 275 OBP. Meanwhile, he wore out the Yanks and A's. I suppose this is just another random sampling fluctuation but it does suggest to me that smarter pitchers were not his problem. But then again maybe you're right. Those Ray-Orioles pitchers do tend to throw 'em in the dirt whether they mean to or not.
   254. damn okies Posted: January 19, 2003 at 12:16 AM (#563871)
What IS the official mlb record for back-up infielders?
   255. Dag Nabbit at Posted: January 19, 2003 at 12:51 AM (#563874)
He's 33. Judging by his games played totals, he has trouble staying healthy. His big years in '96 & '99 were tied to batting average. His numbers ain't great for a 1B or DH - are they going to use him at catcher?

   256. Bill Posted: January 19, 2003 at 01:21 AM (#563876)
I have been fretting for two years that my team (the Yanks) has done nothing about improving their leaky defense and, in fact, doesn't seem to care about it one way or the other. But I now take heart that their main rival appears intent on downgrading their own defense to the Yanks level. I suppose this doesn't mean squat when Pedro is on the mound but it does in the other 138 games.

It's been a while, but to refresh everyone's memory, Nilsson had two good years with the bat, six so-so ones and eight years in search of a defensive position where he could be hidden. Given that the Sox are already up to their eyeballs in DH's, where will they hide him?
   257. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 19, 2003 at 02:44 AM (#563877)
Maybe he's the backup catcher? He wouldn't have to be anything special on defense if he isn't behind the dish more than once a week.

As a fellow Aussie, I have to root for Nilsson. He was one of my faves when I was growing up, as both a countryman and a catcher.
   258. Eugene Freedman Posted: January 19, 2003 at 02:48 AM (#563878)
I could have sworn it was the Yankees who signed him two years ago, but he failed the physical, not the BoSox.
   259. Mr. Crowley Posted: January 19, 2003 at 05:43 AM (#563881)
It's a trap!
   260. Jason Posted: January 19, 2003 at 01:06 PM (#563882)
Keep in mind that a large chunk of Nilsson's health problems are related to a rare Australian disease he contracted in the mid 90's Ross River Fever. I seem to recall that it screwed him up for over 2 years. I can't believe he's only 33
   261. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 19, 2003 at 02:37 PM (#563884)
And what's more, there's a perfectly good thread in Clutch Hits about the change. No need to junk up other threads with redundant info, especially ones about Dave Nilsson.
   262. Steve Posted: January 19, 2003 at 03:17 PM (#563885)
Vlad, where are you from and how long have you been here? (I'm an Aussie and Sox fan whose been lurking on these threads for a while.)
   263. John Posted: January 19, 2003 at 06:56 PM (#563891)
Here's the Gammons mailbag that mentions the Nilsson/Red Sox problem. Can't find the original article about it.
   264. Gold Star for Robothal Posted: January 19, 2003 at 06:58 PM (#563892)
He is a cheap platoon option at first. Face it Millar is gone to Japan. I expect a Giambi/Nillson platoon at first.
   265. Walt Davis Posted: January 19, 2003 at 07:44 PM (#563893)
I suspect this signing is pointless, but...

what is this plethora of 1B/DH options the Sox have? Am I forgetting someone? Last year they were a disaster at those spots. This offseason, they've lost Floyd and brought in Giambi. Is Daubach still around? Who's the other 1B/DH savior?

Why is everyone so quick to platoon Giambi? Giambi doesn't show a platoon split, there's no demonstrated reason to sit him against lefties.

And why would you see a Giambi/Nilsson platoon at first? They both hit lefty.

This is their hope to catch some Hatteberg magic. Probably won't pan out, but assuming this is chump change, there's no harm taking a look at him. Still, Meluskey would have been a better bet at this stage. Heck, Tyler Houston would have been a better bet.
   266. Gold Star for Robothal Posted: January 19, 2003 at 08:37 PM (#563895)
Dang, my mistake. I forgot Nilsson is a lefty swinger. Personally I'd give the job to Giambi full time. I was trying to figure out the Red Sox strategy. I figured he'd be Giambi's platoon partner but lo and behold he is a lefty. Not only that I am hearing they signed Ortiz, yet another lefty to play at 1st.

Maybe Giambi is the DH and Manny is the LF if he is healthy. I guess Nilsson is the backup Catcher.
   267. Scott Posted: January 19, 2003 at 09:14 PM (#563896)
Check out the "Sox Therapy" postings -- there's a hilariously bizarre article from an Australian newspaper about this.
   268. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 19, 2003 at 11:12 PM (#563898)
Steve: I was born just outside of Melbourne, little place called Fitzroy. My parents were Americans working in Australia, and we all moved back to the US when I was still a baby.

How about you?
   269. Gold Star for Robothal Posted: January 19, 2003 at 11:23 PM (#563899)
According to Lee Sinis your a Red Sock Dave.

Form the Lee Sinis email report.
   270. Steve Posted: January 20, 2003 at 12:38 AM (#563900)
-- Vlad: I'm from Sydney originally, been in Boston about five years, and have transferred my fanatical following of cricket to baseball ... perhaps, though not clearly, an even better game :-) ... and the Sox. Ccomparison between those two sports is a conversation of its own some time.

-- Re Ross River Fever: It's a mosquito-borne virus that causes joint inflamation/swelling somewhat similar to arthritis. All victims eventually recovery in full, but symptom persist for 'months to years'. Elbows, wrists and knees are most affected (ie. not good for a C).

-- Re the 'hilarious' article in the Australian press: The paper in question is a Murdoch tabloid. $A5m is roughly equal to $US3m, which sounds high for this deal.
   271. damn okies Posted: January 20, 2003 at 07:44 AM (#563909)
no, seriously, how many dern infielders does one team need !?
   272. Snowboy Posted: January 20, 2003 at 08:52 AM (#563910)
I look forward to Jose Hernandez getting his own thread, where some can further speculate/educate on how Jack Cust is in competition with Jay Payton and Gabe Kapler for CF and/or leadoff.
   273. Mikαεl Posted: January 20, 2003 at 01:30 PM (#563911)
Two things. First, for the Sox 1B/DH logjam, it's important to note who has a guaranteed MLB contract. Giambi does, and Ortiz likely will. The rest have minor league deals. The others are backups, of whom at most one will make the big club in March, barring injuries.

I think Jose Hernandez is getting way too much credit for one good season. This is a 33-year-old with a career OPS+ of 91. His 3-year average OPS+ is 95. (He's a horrible baserunner, so he's actually overrated by OPS.) As Dan Werr has pointed out, Hernandez' 2002 success derived mostly from a historically great batting average on balls in play, one totally out of line with his career. He's a very good bet at 33 to drop back to the .245 level. Hernandez can play an acceptable shortstop, which makes him a solid player, but if he's moved to 3rd, I believe he's going to be under league average offensively.

Yes, at 800 grand coming off a great year, he's a good risk. But I think he's a risk, not a steal.
   274. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 20, 2003 at 05:56 PM (#563915)
Royce Clayton, I think.
   275. Bill Posted: January 21, 2003 at 04:56 AM (#563922)
For the record, the famous Australian rock outcropping is correctly spelled "Ayers" Rock, sans apostrophe, or by its Aboriginal name, Uluru.
   276. Brian K. Posted: January 22, 2003 at 11:21 PM (#564078)
I thought I read something about poosibly moving Shea over to first? I guess not. I would have at least tried Giambi or Shea (only if they cant get read of Shea) at first before signing Ortiz.

On the other hand, I believe the present talent and upside are better than Fick's.
   277. bob mong Posted: January 22, 2003 at 11:22 PM (#564079)
The Red Sox look like they will have the greatest collection of 1B/DH/LF talent in the history of baseball this spring, with Ortiz, Giambi, Nilsson, Zuleta, and Ramirez all suiting up next month.
   278. Snellville Jones Posted: January 22, 2003 at 11:48 PM (#564083)
mets fan- I'm guessing you want the New York Mets to get Shea rather than the New York Yankees? Or do you just think he should stay out of the NL East in general?
   279. Mr. Crowley Posted: January 22, 2003 at 11:51 PM (#564084)
It's a trap!
   280. WillYoung Posted: January 22, 2003 at 11:51 PM (#564085)
I find it funny that Ortiz is listed here as a first baseman. He's a designated hitter that occupies the area to the left of the second baseman with a glove when forced onto the field.
   281. Nasty Nate Posted: January 23, 2003 at 12:59 AM (#564089)
I, for one, think that playing Shea at 1st is a good idea (especially against lefties). His fielding shortcomings seemed to be in the throwing department, and he wouldnt have to throw much playing 1st.

Having said that, I doubt he'll play any first base for the Sox next year.
   282. Dylan Posted: January 23, 2003 at 01:41 AM (#564090)
Hillenbrand will be in Boston. He will no longer fetch equal value and Epstein has shown a great reluctance to trade anyone for anything less than equal value, and sometimes will not pull the trigger unless he's a clear winner. Best example of the latter is the Colon/Vazquez deal, where he wouldn't deal both Shea and Fossum.
   283. Matt Garza smells it deep (Mr. Tapeworm) Posted: January 23, 2003 at 05:58 AM (#564100)
Troy -- For what it's worth, Jeremy Giambi isn't a better defender than his brother. He's only played about 72 games at 1B in his career (73 as a right fielder and 104 as a left fielder). His lifetime RAR at 1B is -2. Jason Giambi's lifetime RAR is 73 in 762 games at 1B, about 1 RAR per 10 games to Jeremy's negative RAR. Last year, Jeremy managed 2 RAR in 26 games, while Jason was 10 RAR for 92 games, putting Jason on top (at least for this metric) in 2002 as well.

In addition, in 112 games as a left fielder, Jason was 20 RAR, while Jeremy was -1 RAR in his 104 left field games. Neither are spectacular fielders, but Jason is clearly superior. If you want to use other metrics, he's similarly superior when using fielding rate (from Baseball Prospectus -- I don't know who created the metric) and RAR2.

As a first baseman, Jason is average lifetime, and he's been slightly above average the last few years. As a left fielder, he was above average in each of the two seasons he spent significant time at the position. Although Jeremy's fielding experience is limited, he's both a below average left fielder and first baseman.

How does Jason rate as a 1B compared to other players? Well, according to the RAR metric, he's better than J.T. Snow (.096 RAR per game, lifetime, compared to .082 -- quite a surprise), Fred McGriff, Carlos Delgado and David Segui (just slightly), Frank Thomas (the worst of the bunch) and Jim Thome, to name a few. Of course, Jason lags quite a bit behind Tino Martinez, Mark Grace, Todd Helton (surprise -- he ranks with these guys), Jeff Bagwell and Rafael Palmeiro.
   284. Darren Posted: January 23, 2003 at 02:41 PM (#564101)
His lifetime RAR at 1B is -2. Jason Giambi's lifetime RAR is 73 in 762 games at 1B, about 1 RAR per 10 games to Jeremy's negative RAR. Last year, Jeremy managed 2 RAR in 26 games, while Jason was 10 RAR for 92 games, putting Jason on top (at least for this metric) in 2002 as well.

Please see Walt Davis's examples of the wackiness of RAR on the Pujols thread:

The stat is meaningless until BP publishes their methodology and runs some studies that show it's accurate.

From watching Little G, you can tell he's a terrible awful OF. Absolutely brutal even to an undiscerning eye for defense, like mine. But I don't think we've seen enough of him at 1B to draw any conclusions.

And can someone please explain to me the sudden obsession with 1B defense among Red Sox fans? It's 1B for crying out loud. I don't think it's going to knock DLowe's ERA up to 5.06 if Ortiz or Giambi plays 1B.
   285. Matt Garza smells it deep (Mr. Tapeworm) Posted: January 23, 2003 at 05:12 PM (#564104)
Please see Walt Davis's examples of the wackiness of RAR on the Pujols thread:

The stat is meaningless until BP publishes their methodology and runs some studies that show it's accurate.

RAR can be wacky, but it doesn't seem to be so when comparing the Giambis. Jason's and Jeremy's RARs remain fairly steady, suggesting no irrational statistical bump because the stat is flawed. It may be flawed in some instances, but in this one, it seems to do well. Also, it seems to rank other first basemen fairly. T. Martinez, Palmeiro, Grace, etc., are all considered above average fielders, and their RARs are above average. Thome, F. Thomas and McGriff are considered below average fielders, confirmed by their RAR. I'm not saying RAR isn't flawed (perhaps the case in assessing J.T. Snow), but it seems to make sense and be consistent with the above set of data.
   286. karlmagnus Posted: January 23, 2003 at 10:30 PM (#564114)
The trouble with sabermetricians, as with many statheads and, for example options traders using the Black Scholes model, is that they construct a flawed mathematical model and then use it to "prove" things that aren't true. In this case, the central flaw is that walks are not as valuable as singles, doubles are not twice as valuable, home runs not four times as valuable. A single has the potential to score runners from third (certainly) and second(possibly) as well as advancing a runner from 1st to 3rd. A walk with runners on 2nd or 3rd gets you no closer to scoring that first run. OPS is a seriously flawed metric.

Consider a player who hit .425 in singles and did nothing else. Sabermetricians would say "Big Deal, OPS only .850" and regard him as barely better than mediocre. Yet in reality, he would be the second coming of Ty Cobb and be paid as such.

There are two players who are obviously undervalued by sabermetricians, Hillenbrand (decent average and some power, but no walks) and Ichiro!

There are two players who are obviously OVERvalued: Jeremy Giambi and Mueller. Giambi may turn out a good deal, but $4.5mm for Mueller was a COMPLETE waste of money. Hillenbrand, at 27, is likely to improve somewhat and be a LOT more valuable.

I'm not convinced by Epstein; he's missed out on too many opportunities, and loaded up on slow sabermetric dreamboats who may not be any use. While I quite like the bullpen moves, I think the '03 Sox may win fewer than the '02 ones, although if Grady keeps Wakefield in the rotation that's worth a few wins.
   287. Walt Davis Posted: January 23, 2003 at 11:39 PM (#564116)
Ummm...Karl, you might want to notice that "real sabermetricians" don't use OPS. Only us amateurs do and that's because it's readily available.

And actually, OPS rewards singles just fine. If anything, it rewards them too much. If a guy walks 42.5% of the time and makes outs the rest of the time, he'll have an OPS of 425, yet he'll be nearly as valuable (though not as valuable) as your "Ty Cobb" (who actually slugged 512 for his career compared to a league average of 365, so no the comparison ain't quite right, now is it?).

OPS counts hits twice, so it's really hard to say that OPS overvalues walks.

As to "real" sabermetric measures, we can use EQA -- not necessarily the best, but probably close enough. Ichiro has a career 303 EQA. Tim Salmon has a career 308 ERA. Salmon actually has a slightly higher career OBP and a career SLG that's 70 points higher. If only they realized there was more to this than OPS, they'd realize that Ichiro is about as good as Salmon.

And by the way, Mueller has a higher career BA than Hillenbrand.
   288. Dan Szymborski Posted: January 24, 2003 at 01:35 PM (#564118)
It's not a bad assumption that some players are going to buck the traditional age curve.

Is there any reason to believe that this would be Shea Hillenbrand? Does his flailing madly at every pitch suggest some kind of Ted Williams scientific method for batting?

Just because Soriano improved with this method doesn't mean everyone else who buys the Shawon Dunston Method will.
   289. Brian Posted: January 24, 2003 at 05:24 PM (#564120)
I'm a Yankees fan but that RAR for Giambi is ridiculous. He MAY have been 10 runs better than having no one at first, but they could have pulled fans out of the stands with a lottery and Giambi wouldn't have been better.
   290. Walt Davis Posted: January 25, 2003 at 06:21 PM (#564121)
The thing is, Hillenbrand doesn't need to improve on last year's performance in order to be a good player -- he was 6th among ML third basemen in EQR, and 9th among ML third basemen in RARP.

It's true, it's true. Despite its reputation as an offensive corner spot, 3B often isn't. At the end of 2001, it looked like we might be entering the golden age of 3B. You had Chipper, Rolen, Chavez, Glaus, Pujols, Aramis Ramirez, maybe Beltre, with Blalock, Ensberg, Burroughs, Crede, and Hinske on the way and reasonably solid vets like Koskie, Lowell, Ventura, Batista, and Cirillo still around.

Then Chipper and Pujols end up in left; Ramirez craters; Beltre doesn't break out; Blalock, Ensberg, and Burroughs all do miserably while Crede spends most of the year in the minors. Except for Cirillo, I guess the solid vets were pretty solid.

So really the only unexpected bright spots at 3B last year were Alfonzo's return and Hinske hitting better than anyone expected. And David Bell.

Hillenbrand had 634 at-bats last season. You're saying that he was good for the first 50 or so, and sucked for the last 580 or so? If that's the case, then how in the world did he manage to finish the season as one of the ten best offensive third basemen in the majors?

That would be an exaggeration. Fairer would be to say that in his first 200 AB he was very good. At that point he was 367/550/917. In his remaining 434 AB, he was pretty much his old self again (316/417/733). The problem really is that SLG -- Mueller doesn't hit for power, but he does get on base; Hillenbrand doesn't do either.

If the point is that Hillenbrand is a decent 3B option, I'll agree. If the point is that the gap between him and Mueller is probably pretty small, you won't get much of an argument from me. But if the idea is that Hillenbrand is really a pretty decent hitter -- sorry, I can't agree ... at least not until he shows that the lousy months were the flukes, not the good ones.
   291. Bruce Markusen Posted: January 31, 2003 at 02:36 AM (#564670)
Dan, good "fool job," you had me on this one right up until the final paragraph. I'm glad I read it all the way through.
   292. Bill Posted: January 31, 2003 at 03:20 AM (#564675)
Phil Dumatrait gave it a nice air of verisimilitude.
   293. Cooper Teenoh Posted: January 31, 2003 at 03:37 AM (#564680)
what the heck are you guys thinking?
   294. Darren Posted: February 25, 2003 at 05:21 PM (#565129)
I would peg best case scenario at Person being the #3 starter that he was from 1999 to 2001.
   295. Dag Nabbit at Posted: February 26, 2003 at 05:18 AM (#565134)
He's about as extreme a FB-pitcher as there is. From 2000-2, he allowed 28 HRs in 256 IP at home, & 32 HRs in 218 road IP.

Good thing, he's not a lefty, but I don't like the looks of it.
   296. Mikαεl Posted: February 26, 2003 at 01:26 PM (#565136)
Fenway has been a generally neutral park the last five years, but it has been a terrible home run park. I have its 5-year park factor for HRs at 84. Person may have found a good home.
   297. Mr. Crowley Posted: May 14, 2003 at 04:23 PM (#554893)
It's a trap!
   298. Scott Posted: May 14, 2003 at 06:13 PM (#554894)
I'm confused... why is this posted now, in May of 2003? (Is it a trap?)
   299. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: May 30, 2003 at 02:36 PM (#566000)
Epstein said that Kim's starting on Tuesday in Pittsburgh (and I've got tix!). Nothing more thematically appropriate than a sidearming Korean hurler at a game that's billed as the 100th anniversary of the first World Series.
   300. Jason Posted: May 30, 2003 at 03:16 PM (#566003)
I think this is one of the more logical trades I've seen in awhile it's fairly obvious what each side is getting and it's what both teams needed. Perhaps we don't need to declare a winner in every trade? The money savings is significant for the D-backs as they look to keep Schilling and dumping salary has become extraordinarily difficult so that's a big plus on their side of the ledger.
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