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Transaction Oracle
— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Giants - Acquired Hawkins

San Francisco Giants - Acquired P LaTroy Hawkins from the Chicago Cubs for P Jerome Williams and P David Aardsma.

The fans had already turned against LaTroy to the point at which getting rid of him created less of a headache for the Cubs.  This season’s looking more and more over after every game, so it makes sense to get rid of Hawkins if you can get something for him.  And the Cubs did.  Williams still is only 23 and has shown a good deal of promise in his short major league career (though less so recently) but who does have question marks of elbow health and physical condition.  The latter I think is overstated; C.C. Sabathia could eat Jerome Williams for breakfast.  History’s #1 Player, David Aardsma will also help the bullpen eventually.

The Giants, of course, get LaTroy Hawkins.  Tyler Walker is currently the closer, but that will likely change in the long run because of the fact that Walker just isn’t very good.  I think Hawkins will eventually get the temporary closer job and will actually do a decent job of it.

2005 ZiPS Projection - LaTroy Hawkins
—————————————————————————————-
Period     W   L   G GS   IP   H   ER HR BB SO   ERA
—————————————————————————————-
Actual ‘05   1   4 21   0   19   18   7   4   7 13 3.32
Rest ‘05   5   3 52   0   54   50   21   5 12 42 3.50
—————————————————————————————-
Total ‘05   6   7 73   0   73   68   28   9 19 55 3.45

 

2005 ZiPS Projection - Jerome Williams
—————————————————————————————-
Period     W   L   G GS   IP   H   ER HR BB SO   ERA
—————————————————————————————-
Actual ‘05*  2   5 10   9   47   57   33   6 24 24 6.32
Rest ‘05   6   6 21 20 111 110   56 12 46 76 4.54
—————————————————————————————-
Total ‘05   8 11 31 29 158 167   89 18 70 100 5.07

 

2005 ZiPS Projection - David Aardsma
—————————————————————————————-
Period     W   L   G GS   IP   H   ER HR BB SO   ERA
—————————————————————————————-
Actual ‘05*  4   4   9   8   45   47   20   3 15 26 4.00
Rest ‘05   6   6 34   6   65   61   33   5 34 48 4.57
—————————————————————————————-
Total ‘05   10 10 43 14 110 108   53   8 49 74 4.34

* -Contains Major League Equivalency

Aardsma is not really a starter - the Giants have been using him as
a starter in order to give him longer outings to work out his stuff,
a la Braden Looper after being drafted some years ago.

Also, let me know what you think about these projection boxes.  Keep them?  Dump them?  Add something?  Trim something?

Dan Szymborski Posted: May 28, 2005 at 05:26 PM | 112 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. baudib Posted: May 28, 2005 at 07:24 PM (#1368376)
Love them. Would like to see either 04 or maybe a career line? but not complaining.

I can't see how this makes any sense for the Giants. If they were an eighth-inning reliever away from the World Series, ok. But even if Williams is just a lottery pick, that's worth more than LaTroy Hawkins.
   2. Don Guillote (The Cheat) Posted: May 28, 2005 at 07:29 PM (#1368381)
Cubs Win! Cubs Win!
   3. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: May 28, 2005 at 07:31 PM (#1368384)
Keep the projection boxes.

I'll say again, I really like this trade. The young arms in the Cub pen (Wellemeyer, Ohman, Wuertz, et al) have pitched well enough to make a reasonable supporting core behind Dempster in the 9th. The Cubs aren't going to win this year, and Hawkins is under enough negative scrutiny because of last September and this April that it's got to be hard for him to come to the park and pitch.

Aardsma... I love his arm. By 2007, he should be a very real candidate to close for this team. Anything we get from Williams is just a bonus.
   4. FJ Posted: May 28, 2005 at 08:00 PM (#1368401)
Yet another trade where you want to bash Sabean for an idiotic move, but hesitate because of his prior history....

I guess he REALLY doesn't like his high draft picks :p....

F
   5. Los Angeles Waterloo of Black Hawk Posted: May 28, 2005 at 08:09 PM (#1368413)
Would anyone here even trade Aardsma straight-up for Hawkins? What the hell is Sabes thinking?
   6. Mitch Posted: May 28, 2005 at 08:18 PM (#1368422)
Isn't Aardsma's ceiling basically Latroy Hawkins? I would definitely trade Aardsma for Hawkins (ignoring monetary considerations - we don't know what those are yet).
   7. Gaylord Perry the Platypus (oi!) Posted: May 28, 2005 at 08:23 PM (#1368428)
I'd like to know what (if any) money is changing hands in this deal. I would have loved to see the Braves offer Roman Colon and Macay McBride for Hawkins. That's a fairly similar package, I'd say.

In any case, good trade for the Cubs. Not a bad trade for the Giants, necessarily, although I'm not sure that Hawkins is going to make a difference for them. They need a lot more to contend than one relief pitcher.
   8. Statman Posted: May 28, 2005 at 08:23 PM (#1368430)
Hawkins is an excellent reliever, as you can see from the ZIPS numbers. Whether it is worth a trade for 2 good, young arms, I have no idea. Anything negative you hear about Hawkins from the readers herein is just B.S. they are parrotting from the ignorant Chicago media and fans. Hawkins lost favor on the Cubs because of an ignorant manager and managment who don't know sample size from shmample size...
   9. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: May 28, 2005 at 08:27 PM (#1368437)
Good trade for both teams IMO. The ####### fans at Wrigley have made it nearly impossible for Latroy to pitch in peace as an excellent setup man. I'm glad the Cubs made a move for younger players.

The Giants get a very nice pitcher and their moves the past few seasons have all suggested a hard charge at a small window of time.

The next move the Cubs make should be to send Williams to the doctor.
   10. Spahn Insane Posted: May 28, 2005 at 08:30 PM (#1368439)
Whatever, Statman. I take everything I read in the Chicago media with a half ton of salt, but I've given up on Hawkins being an effective closer in Chicago. That said, I don't dislike him, and I hope he does OK in whatever role he fills in San Fran--except against the Cubs, of course.
   11. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: May 28, 2005 at 08:30 PM (#1368440)
Hawkins lost favor on the Cubs because of an ignorant manager and managment who don't know sample size from shmample size...

If sample size is the issue, note that Hawkins' career puts him just the slightest shade under league-average, which is not typically what you want in a pressure-situation player.
   12. Los Angeles Waterloo of Black Hawk Posted: May 28, 2005 at 08:30 PM (#1368441)
I think Aardsma's ceiling is better than Hawkins, if for no other reason than Aardsma has adapted pretty well to being a starter this season.

I'm not putting down Hawkins in saying that, he's very good, of course ...
   13. Mitch Posted: May 28, 2005 at 08:35 PM (#1368448)
If Aardsma actually had a future as a starter I would agree.
   14. Mitch Posted: May 28, 2005 at 08:39 PM (#1368451)
Hawkins career as a reliver puts him well above average.
   15. Inquisitor Posted: May 28, 2005 at 08:46 PM (#1368458)
So LaTroy Hawkins is 32. Jerome Williams and David Aardsma are both 23.

Is the transposition of numbers in those respective ages a mere coincidence? I think not.

I think Sabean is trading away all his young players because he had a troubled youth, and anything which reminds him of that youth brings back the bad memories.
   16. DCW3 Posted: May 28, 2005 at 08:50 PM (#1368462)
Is the transposition of numbers in those respective ages a mere coincidence? I think not.

This means that Sabean's next move will be to trade Moises Alou for a pair of 83-year-olds, which seems to be about Brian's speed.
   17. Spahn Insane Posted: May 28, 2005 at 08:50 PM (#1368463)
Hawkins career as a reliver puts him well above average.

That's exactly his problem. He keeps reliving all his blown saves, which keeps him from closing games effectively.

:)
   18. Inquisitor Posted: May 28, 2005 at 08:58 PM (#1368472)
This means that Sabean's next move will be to trade Moises Alou for a pair of 83-year-olds, which seems to be about Brian's speed.

I'd crack a joke here about Oil Can Boyd and Rickey Henderson, but I think it'd be awesome to see them play in the majors (if just for an exhibition game).

Willie Mays is 74. Is that close enough?
   19. zonk Posted: May 28, 2005 at 09:05 PM (#1368478)
This is an absolute steal.

I'm not as anti-LaTroy as most Cubs fans - he can be part of the core of a good bullpen - but on a team going nowhere this season, quality relievers should be commodities to be swapped for some swag.

I would have swapped Hawkins for either Aardsma or Williams. Getting them both is just outstanding.

Jim Hendry keeps making his case for one of the best dealers in the GM business.
   20. cardsfanboy Posted: May 28, 2005 at 09:24 PM (#1368498)
Jim Hendry keeps making his case for one of the best dealers in the GM business.

I'm ignorant here, what deals has hendry made that panned out? I know he traded Choi to the Marlins for Lee, that one worked, not too sure that the Nomar trade qualifies as a success.

How long has he been the gm? what are his success? (looking at the team aramis is probably one, michael barret? )
   21. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: May 28, 2005 at 09:25 PM (#1368500)
Anything negative you hear about Hawkins from the readers herein is just B.S. they are parrotting from the ignorant Chicago media and fans.

Wow. This may be the dumbest thing I've read here in quite awhile.

The majority view about Hawkins here is that he's a fine reliever and would have made a fine setup man, but he's a lousy closer. That's negative about Hawkins only insofar as he continued to be misused by the Cubs.

And the Chicago media? You've got us there. I'm only biding my time here until my lifesize blowup doll of Jay Mariotti shows up and fulfills all my fantasies. Have you ever actually been in a Cub thread?
   22. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: May 28, 2005 at 09:27 PM (#1368504)
How long has he been the gm? what are his success? (looking at the team aramis is probably one, michael barret? )

Ramirez was a steal. The Garciaparra trade last year was a good one (later injuries notwithstanding) given what we gave up. The Lee deal was terrific. Barrett for Damien Miller certainly worked out well, and is only getting better now that Barrett's defense has so improved.

There are others (and some bad ones, like his complicity in the team's dumping of Mark Bellhorn), but for the most part he's definitely come down on the positive side of the ledger.
   23. Dag Nabbit: secretary of the World Banana Forum Posted: May 28, 2005 at 09:29 PM (#1368506)
I'm ignorant here, what deals has hendry made that panned out? I know he traded Choi to the Marlins for Lee, that one worked, not too sure that the Nomar trade qualifies as a success.

Kenny Lofton and Armaris Rameriz for a sack of rubber bands and a jar of low calorie mayo. Nomar for some Melrose Place DVDs was another trade that worked out alright. He averges one fantastic in-season trade a year.
   24. cardsfanboy Posted: May 28, 2005 at 09:51 PM (#1368526)
unless I'm missing something, I don't see how the Nomar trade was a good trade, it looks to me like they acquired a guy that posted a 106 ops+ at shortstop, it looks to me like they paid 5mil for half a season out of him, and it looks to me like they gave up three players.(not sure if they are any good) It wasn't like Nomar was good or anything, he was decent but that is it, and if I look at the defensive numbers, I'm sure there is an argument that his defense hurt his overall value.

aramis trade I agree with, I'm not sure how the barret miller trade counts as a sure fire winner for either side, but if it makes you feel better ok. basically it seems like people are talking about his ability to trade, but it doesn't look like he's ripped anyone off other than maybe the marlins and pirates. (geez that isn't tough, heck the marlins still think they won out on the choi, penny trade)
   25. NTNgod Posted: May 28, 2005 at 09:53 PM (#1368528)
and it looks to me like they gave up three players.(not sure if they are any good)

The Cubs also got an OF prospect who was leading the Southern League in hitting, the last I checked...
   26. Dag Nabbit: secretary of the World Banana Forum Posted: May 28, 2005 at 09:57 PM (#1368533)
I don't see how the Nomar trade was a good trade, it looks to me like they acquired a guy that posted a 106 ops+ at shortstop, it looks to me like they paid 5mil for half a season out of him, and it looks to me like they gave up three players.(not sure if they are any good) It wasn't like Nomar was good or anything,

A 106 OPS+ isn't good? A 106+ form a shortstop isn't good? Added bonus: he replaced Alex Gonzalez, who was in the process of putting up an OPS+ of 50 on the year. I know very little about the Cubs' farm system, but from what I recall the players given up weren't anything worth thinking about. Hendry addressed the team's biggest weakest while giving up nothing in the short term and next to nothing in the long term while while in the middle of a tightly contested wild card race. To me, that qualifies as a good trade.
   27. cardsfanboy Posted: May 28, 2005 at 10:02 PM (#1368541)
I've tried to search for the full details on the trade and even the names of the prospects finally found them, but now lunch is done, have to get back to work.

It's not a bad trade, I just don't see any of those other trades being trades where I trust the general manager and think he is a great trader. I mean this isn't an obvious rip off either way, and the barret/miller doesn't look that much different, barrets a slightly better hitter, miller is slightly better defender, both about the same overall value, not sure about the contract status.

the lofton aramis trade, looks to be a real good trade, and the lee/choi trade is looking good(although if you factor in salary it may not be that much of a difference over the course of chois contract)

when I think of a good trade, I think bagwell, carlton, lou brock etc. trades where it's a clear winner.
   28. Russ Posted: May 28, 2005 at 10:14 PM (#1368557)
I know very little about the Cubs' farm system, but from what I recall the players given up weren't anything worth thinking about.

Garciaparra trade, from retrosheet.org:

Traded by Boston Red Sox with Matt Murton to Chicago Cubs as part of 4-team trade in
which Chicago Cubs sent Brendan Harris, Alex Gonzalez and Francis Beltran to
Montreal Expos; Montreal Expos sent Orlando Cabrera to Boston Red Sox; Minnesota
Twins sent Doug Mientkiewicz to Boston Red Sox; and Chicago Cubs sent Justin Jones
to Minnesota Twins(July 31, 2004).

So it was basically Harris, Gonzalez, Beltran, and Jones for Murton and Garciaparra on the Cubs end.

Murton is hitting .393/.466/.562 at AA for the Cubs.

Harris is hitting mediocrely at AAA, Beltran had TJ surgery and is out till 2006, and Gonzalez is, well, the bad Alex Gonzalez.


The trade looked pretty good for the Cubs at the time, and looks even better in retrospect.
   29. Russ Posted: May 28, 2005 at 10:15 PM (#1368559)
well, the bad Alex Gonzalez.

Actually, I guess their Alex Gonzalez was the good Alex Gonzalez, but that's really damning with faint praise.
   30. Statman Posted: May 28, 2005 at 10:18 PM (#1368562)
If sample size is the issue, note that Hawkins' career puts him just the slightest shade under league-average, which is not typically what you want in a pressure-situation player.

Yes, as a long time starter for the Twins, he was terrible. As a short reliever, he had been excellent. In fact, his numbers are fantastic. A premier short releiver. A career (since 2000) ERA+ of 180 as a releiver.

If you believe that there is some "magic mental makeup" to being a closer, AND that you can tell whether a pitcher has one or not, by watching him pitch or by his "save percentage" or some such thing, that's fine.

Wow. This may be the dumbest thing I've read here in quite awhile.

You also must not read many threads on BTF.

The majority view about Hawkins here is that he's a fine reliever and would have made a fine setup man, but he's a lousy closer. That's negative about Hawkins only insofar as he continued to be misused by the Cubs.

That is exactly what I am talking about. You are a fan (I assume). You think he "can't close" because he has 4 saves and 4 blown saves this year. Never mind that he has a career 79% save percentage as a closer (70% overall, as a closer as setup man). Not to mention that a reliever's save percentage and save totals are about as worthless a stat as you can get, and still get lots of attenttion.

Whether the media in Chicago says the same thing, I really don't know. I assumed they did, although I don't read the Chicago papers, nor do I listen to Chicago TV.

If a reliever "can't close out games," how does he amass a 79% save percentage as a closer? Shouldn't it be like 60% or thereabouts?
   31. Urban Faber Posted: May 28, 2005 at 10:19 PM (#1368564)
Walker getting pounded this afternoon by the Padres, so maybe Hawkins will get his chance to close for the Jints.
   32. zonk Posted: May 28, 2005 at 10:21 PM (#1368567)
when I think of a good trade, I think bagwell, carlton, lou brock etc. trades where it's a clear winner.

That's an awfully high bar -- there are probably HOF execs without a feather of that stripe in their cap.

Getting Nomar and Murton - the Cubs gave up a 19 y.o. who I believe is now hurt, a young reliever who I know is hurt, and another prospect who upside is probably Jerry Hairston Jr.

The only trade I haven't liked is the Juan Cruz deal - but Cruz is now in his 3rd org in 3 years and STILL hasn't gotten it figured out. You could say Hendry should have sold high a year earlier, but I wouldn't have traded him in 03 either.

Hendry has made missteps - the Sisco fiasco for one - but he's run a good organization - the Cubs finally have some homegrown talent of substance (Zambrano, Patterson, and Prior were all signed or drafted while he the scouting director). He's not the best GM - but he should be a part of the discussion.

For the first time in my life - I feel like we have a GM whose never in danger of being swindled (Ed Lynch, anyone?).

There are other GMs that deal as well as Hendry - Walt Jockety for one - but I'd have a hard time saying anyone is obvioulsy better than Hendry.
   33. Mitch Posted: May 28, 2005 at 10:25 PM (#1368573)
I would say Walt Jocketty is obviously a better dealer than Hendry.

Hendry has nothing close to the Big Mac, Edmonds, and Rolen trades.
   34. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: May 28, 2005 at 10:28 PM (#1368579)
You also must not read many threads on BTF.

Check my post count. My ex-employers wish I didn't read many threads.

That is exactly what I am talking about. You are a fan (I assume). You think he "can't close" because he has 4 saves and 4 blown saves this year.

Um, no. Not even close, no, nope, nada, nil, zip, zero truth. This is kind of what I meant by dumb. When the Cubs acquired Hawkins back before 2004, I posted here that he'd be a great setup man but I hoped they wouldn't make him a closer because of the problems he had in Minnesota.

Minnesota. Much earlier. And then last year, when he sucked it up and I kept posting his stats in one-run games, all the way through his collapse in September. Last year.

This year was, if anything, completely expected. He did what I thought he would do -- pitch fine until he came in to the 9th with a one-run lead, at which point he'd choke like Jenna doing Lex Steele.

So you don't listen to Chicago TV, read Chicago papers, and have apparently little or no knowledge of what goes on here in Cub threads (if you have to assume I'm a fan, you have no idea at all what goes on here), yet you wandered in here and accused the Cub fans on this site of being brainless parrots who reiterated the stuff fed to them by the Chicago media (which you pay no attention to). Thus, dumb. Dumb dumb dumb.

And you can't say that a reliever's save percentage and save totals are worthless, and then turn around and use them to support your argument in the end. One or the other. (And I agree that at least save percentage is worthless because it counts his time as a setup man, where saves may be blown but the pitcher isn't being thought of as in a "save" situation by his team. But check out his save percentage *as a closer* in one run games. Last year I believe he blew 8 of 11, this year it was 2 of 2 (or 2 of 3). One-run games, *kind* of important for a closer, don't you think?)

(And I could go on and tell you that there have been endless discussions about Hawkins as a pitcher in closing situations, how he doesn't finish off batters, pitches like he's afraid, falls behind in the count -- all things that he doesn't do when he sets up, and all things that don't rely at all on save percentage or saves to inform the opinion that he's a lousy closer. But I'm not sure it would matter. What's with the sudden influx of Cub-fan bashing here at BTF? The Prior injury has unleashed the fury on one of the Chicago Families. Don Dascenzo will not be pleased.)
   35. Dan Szymborski Posted: May 28, 2005 at 10:28 PM (#1368581)
Wow. This may be the dumbest thing I've read here in quite awhile.

The majority view about Hawkins here is that he's a fine reliever and would have made a fine setup man, but he's a lousy closer. That's negative about Hawkins only insofar as he continued to be misused by the Cubs.

Well, I'm about to write something dumb, too. I agree with it completely. The guy has been given a ton of 1-run leads with the Cubs, the type that closers blow very, very easily.

To say he doesn't know how is silly. This is a guy who figured out how to close games well enough to save 17 in a row in his very first season as a reliever (and into the second). His SV% stunk that second year, of course, but that was because he stunk in every situation, not because he stunk specifically in the role of finishing games.

Do you know how many non 1-run lead games Hawkins has blown while with the Cubs? Unless I miscounted, *2*. He's not Eric Gagne, but there's no reason that Hawkins can't contribute as a closer.
   36. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: May 28, 2005 at 10:34 PM (#1368586)
Do you know how many non 1-run lead games Hawkins has blown while with the Cubs? Unless I miscounted, *2*. He's not Eric Gagne, but there's no reason that Hawkins can't contribute as a closer.

Yeah, he's been fine with non-one-run leads -- but those are also situations where the quality of closer is a lot less important. If you're saying "all I want you to do is go out there and get 3 outs without giving up 2 or more runs", that's not exactly a high bar to set. Most relievers could put up a sub-18.00 ERA in the 9th if given the chance.

If your closer can't protect the tight games -- the ones that really need to be closed -- then it's time to look elsewhere. Hawkins was just a completely different pitcher with a one-run lead in the 9th compared with every other situation. It's like it was in his head that every pitch could be the tying run, and he minced about the strike zone until the tying run came true.

If the Cubs had designated Hawkins as their 2+ run closer but someone else as the one-run or tie game 9th inning guy, that probably would have worked out fine. But that's not realistic.
   37. Andere Richtingen Posted: May 28, 2005 at 10:35 PM (#1368587)
Well, I'm about to write something dumb, too. I agree with it completely. The guy has been given a ton of 1-run leads with the Cubs, the type that closers blow very, very easily

I don't think UCCF really meant the idea that Hawkins is fine as a closer is the bad idea (although he thinks that, and I agree with you and disagree with him). I think he was talking about the "parroting the media" part.
   38. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: May 28, 2005 at 10:41 PM (#1368605)
I don't think UCCF really meant the idea that Hawkins is fine as a closer is the bad idea (although he thinks that, and I agree with you and disagree with him). I think he was talking about the "parroting the media" part.

Exactly. There's certainly room for disagreement about whether someone believes Hawkins is a good closer (or can be a good closer). Andere and I have hacked through those weeds many times before.

But to accuse the people on this site of living by the gospel according to Mariotti and Rogers is ignorance to the nth degree from a guy who's been here all of one month.
   39. Dan Szymborski Posted: May 28, 2005 at 10:44 PM (#1368614)
One-run leads are important, but they're not where the closers put up pretty save percentages. Hawkins is a handful of blown 1-run saves above where he should be - not billions as you'd think from reading some of the complaints about him. He's not the Eric Gagne of two years ago and nobody's saying he is.

And the Minnesota thing is nonsense - he saved games very well when he was pitching well and very poorly when he wasn't, but it was all nice and proportionate.
   40. NTNgod Posted: May 28, 2005 at 10:45 PM (#1368616)
from a guy who's been here all of one month.

That's MGL, FYI.
   41. Spivey Posted: May 28, 2005 at 10:45 PM (#1368618)
FWIW, a 79% save percentage is not very good. Still, I think he can be a closer despite his blown saves the last 2 years. He might be unable too, but I'd be willing to give him a shot.

It's not like there isn't pressure in close 8 inning games.
   42. Spivey Posted: May 28, 2005 at 10:46 PM (#1368622)
My last sentence doesn't make sense, but I think it's clear what I meant.
   43. Dag Nabbit: secretary of the World Banana Forum Posted: May 28, 2005 at 10:47 PM (#1368625)
from a guy who's been here all of one month.

Isn't he mgl?
   44. CFiJ Posted: May 28, 2005 at 10:47 PM (#1368627)
But to accuse the people on this site of living by the gospel according to Mariotti and Rogers is ignorance to the nth degree from a guy who's been here all of one month.

Unless I'm very much mistaken, Statman is MGL.
   45. CFiJ Posted: May 28, 2005 at 10:48 PM (#1368629)
Apparently, I'm not mistaken...
   46. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: May 28, 2005 at 10:49 PM (#1368630)
That's MGL, FYI.

Really? Wow. I had no idea.

Color me stupid.
   47. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: May 28, 2005 at 11:11 PM (#1368665)
That's MGL, FYI.

You should have been able to tell by his ability to call everyone on this site stupid, which is his calling card.
   48. Andere Richtingen Posted: May 28, 2005 at 11:19 PM (#1368677)
One-run leads are important, but they're not where the closers put up pretty save percentages. Hawkins is a handful of blown 1-run saves above where he should be - not billions as you'd think from reading some of the complaints about him.

Well, not billions, but it's pretty amazingly bad. In an attempt to maintain my sanity I stopped keeping track, but at one point he was something like 6-10 in one run save situations with the Cubs.

That said, I agree with you and MGL, but Hawkins' bad string in one run games is quite remarkable.
   49. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: May 28, 2005 at 11:39 PM (#1368711)
Wow. WTF. I don't get it.

I'll form a more cogent response when I've better wrapped my head around it...
   50. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: May 29, 2005 at 12:35 AM (#1368829)
Yes, as a long time starter for the Twins, he was terrible. As a short reliever, he had been excellent. In fact, his numbers are fantastic. A premier short releiver. A career (since 2000) ERA+ of 180 as a releiver.

But you can't have it both ways. If you're going to discard a whole bunch of perfectly good data because he wasn't the first pitcher in the game, you shouldn't cavil at other folks withholding data that don't suit their case.

Hawkins' best seasons by far were as a setup man. If there is anything at all to the claims of "closer mentality" (and I'm agnostic on the subject), he's Exhibit A. And I think that's what some folks are focusing on.
   51. Psychedelic Red Pants Posted: May 29, 2005 at 12:46 AM (#1368845)

Getting Nomar and Murton - the Cubs gave up a 19 y.o. who I believe is now hurt, a young reliever who I know is hurt, and another prospect who upside is probably Jerry Hairston Jr.


If the Cubs had kept Cabrera instead of going for the injury plagued corpse of Nomar then they likely would have made the playoffs in place of the Astros.
   52. sardonic Posted: May 29, 2005 at 12:49 AM (#1368849)

Hawkins' best seasons by far were as a setup man. If there is anything at all to the claims of "closer mentality" (and I'm agnostic on the subject), he's Exhibit A. And I think that's what some folks are focusing on.


I think that the difference between a starter's outing and a relievers outing is far greater than the difference between a set-up man and a closer's outing. Should we discount Gagne's success based on his repeated mediocrity/failure as a starter?
   53. Chief Posted: May 29, 2005 at 12:51 AM (#1368851)
If the Cubs had kept Cabrera instead of going for the injury plagued corpse of Nomar then they likely would have made the playoffs in place of the Astros.

Lots of things could have happened, but likely?
   54. Psychedelic Red Pants Posted: May 29, 2005 at 12:58 AM (#1368876)
But you can't have it both ways. If you're going to discard a whole bunch of perfectly good data because he wasn't the first pitcher in the game, you shouldn't cavil at other folks withholding data that don't suit their case.

Hawkins' best seasons by far were as a setup man. If there is anything at all to the claims of "closer mentality" (and I'm agnostic on the subject), he's Exhibit A. And I think that's what some folks are focusing on.


Excluding data from his career as a starter makes sense as he was pitching 5-7 innings at a time. Excluding his time as a setup man doesn't make sense because he happened to be pitching for just as long but in a different inning. In other words, there's a presumption of validity in excluding his starting career but not his setup career when considering his suitability as a closer.
   55. Psychedelic Red Pants Posted: May 29, 2005 at 01:07 AM (#1368889)
Lots of things could have happened, but likely?

There's a reason the boston FO was willing to throw in Murton to swap Nomar for Cabrera.
   56. Terry Posted: May 29, 2005 at 02:12 AM (#1368960)
I love the projections for these guys as they are now. In the offseason I'd always be a little thrown off, as I'd expect '04 numbers and I'd have to remind myself they were projected '05. That's not necessarily a criticism, but if it didn't take too much time during the offseason to put up both, seasons previous and projected upcoming, I would love it even more. But, of course, thanks for taking the time to put up anything; it's effective and appreciated.
   57. DCW3 Posted: May 29, 2005 at 02:45 AM (#1369005)
Actually, I guess [the Cubs'] Alex Gonzalez was the good Alex Gonzalez, but that's really damning with faint praise.

This is the third straight season that the Marlins' Alex Gonzalez has significantly outhit the Cubs'/Expos'/Padres'/Devil Rays' Alex Gonzalez. (I think Sea Bass's defensive numbers are quite a bit better as well.) I think it was Szymborski who named Tampa Bay's Gonzalez the "Slightly Worse Alex Gonzalez," which I like.
   58. DCW3 Posted: May 29, 2005 at 02:51 AM (#1369012)
Excluding data from his career as a starter makes sense as he was pitching 5-7 innings at a time. Excluding his time as a setup man doesn't make sense because he happened to be pitching for just as long but in a different inning.

The other thing is that Hawkins's years as a starter happened a lot further back in the past than his time as a setup man. He hasn't started a game since 1999. What a player did six years ago doesn't weigh very heavily in determining the sort of player he is today.
   59. Dan The Mediocre Posted: May 29, 2005 at 03:08 AM (#1369034)
I have to agree. Hawkins does fine in everything excpet 1 run leads. And since the Cubs have a lot of them due to a weak offense, it makes sense to have someone with a decent average there.
   60. Dan The Mediocre Posted: May 29, 2005 at 03:08 AM (#1369037)
I have to agree with UCCF is what I'd meant to say.
   61. Harold can be a fun sponge Posted: May 29, 2005 at 03:44 AM (#1369093)
Actually, I guess their Alex Gonzalez was the good Alex Gonzalez, but that's really damning with faint praise.

I have no idea anymore which is "the good Alex Gonzalez" and which is "the bad Alex Gonzalez", because they're both pretty bad now.
   62. greenback likes millwall, they don't care Posted: May 29, 2005 at 03:53 AM (#1369105)
Getting Nomar and Murton - the Cubs gave up a 19 y.o. who I believe is now hurt, a young reliever who I know is hurt, and another prospect who upside is probably Jerry Hairston Jr.

I thought his upside was Albert Pujols?

The Nomar and Aramais trades are in some regards polar opposites, one very good player who has gone south due to injuries, and an injury-riddled player who had an absolutely dreadful season in 2002 with the Pirates but has gone north since arriving in Chicago.
   63. AJMcCringleberry Posted: May 29, 2005 at 04:04 AM (#1369117)
I have no idea anymore which is "the good Alex Gonzalez" and which is "the bad Alex Gonzalez", because they're both pretty bad now.

To be fair the Marlins' Gonzalez is hitting pretty good (for a SS anyway) so far and plays very good defense. And if you've been listening to the Marlins telecast the last few days they'll tell you he's the greatest thing since sliced bread.
   64. Darren Posted: May 29, 2005 at 04:10 AM (#1369127)
Dan, I like the projection boxes. Please keep using them.
   65. Dan Szymborski Posted: May 29, 2005 at 06:46 AM (#1369355)
I have no idea anymore which is "the good Alex Gonzalez" and which is "the bad Alex Gonzalez", because they're both pretty bad now.

I had a little bit of fun with a guy on usenet a few years ago on this:


Bruce Aven gets traded to Philly (read Scranton-Wilkes Barre) for the sucky Jeff D'Amico. Yes, much like there is a good and bad Alex Gonzalez, there is also a good and bad Jeff D'Amico.


Me: Okay, I'll bite. Which one is the good Alex Gonzalez?

Him: The good Alex Gonzalez plays on the Cubs.

Me: I'm still confused. The only Alex Gonzalez I know on the Cubs is the one
that's the starting shortstop.

Him: The other Alex Gonzalez plays on Florida.

Me: That doesn't explain which one's the good one.

This went on over e-mail for awhile until I broke down and apologized.
   66. Harold can be a fun sponge Posted: May 29, 2005 at 07:00 AM (#1369380)
Bruce Aven gets traded to Philly

Thanks for the Bruce Aven shoutout. He spent a few months on a now-defunct DMB team I ran. I hadn't thought of him in years.
   67. base ball chick Posted: May 29, 2005 at 07:07 AM (#1369390)
bruce aven - a little guy!!! and a texan!!!

never went that far - i remember him with the marlins when the sucked right after the first WS - wasn't it?
   68. mgl Posted: May 29, 2005 at 07:34 AM (#1369431)
I don't call anyone on this site stupid. Only GM's and managers. I recently called Backlasher a "bloviating troll" but I also said that he was probably smarter than I. I also probably misused the word "troll."

Yes, Hawkins numbers as a starter are practically irrleveant to a projection of his future performance (as a releiver) for the two reasons mentioned already. One, too far back, and two, often pitchers perform very differently (different true talent) as starters and as closers for various reasons.

The dichotomy I created between his save percentage as a setup man and exclusively as a closer is simply because setup men get blown saves for blowing leads before the 9th and don't get many saves because they don't finish very many games. What the average save percentage for setup men is, I don't know. I imagine it is quite a bit lower than closers becuase of this phenomenon.

And yes, I would not want to use as evidence of much of anything, a pitcher's save percentage, any more than I would want to do same with a starter's w/l record.

Sure, there may be pitchers who do not have the mentality for closing games. I don't know. I really don't. I doubt there are many, and I doubt that you can tell which ones are by watching them pitch, looking at their performance in one run games or save situations in general, etc. But who knows. It is very similar to trying to identify clutch hitters, if any do in fact exist.

Hawkins has been an excellent reliever, run preventiuon-wise, and it is likely that he will continue to be so. Whether that excellent performance will/would manifest itself as a closer, I don't know. Personally, while not an elite short reliever, I would not hesitate to have him pitch in my team's high leverage situations, if the price were right of course.

I also find it hard to imagine a pitcher racking up such great ERA's and component numbers when he "can't close out close games." Is he racking up miniscule ERA's when closing 3-run games, and high ERA's when closing 1-run games?

Statistically, given the number of 1-run games he has appeared in as a closer, if he were truly a good closer in those games, what are the chances that he would have blown X (however many he did blow) games? I'm guessing that number is pretty high, such that assuming that he did not have the same "talent" in 1-run games as in other games, would have a pretty high likelihood of being a Type I (Type II?) error...
   69. Andere Richtingen Posted: May 29, 2005 at 11:26 AM (#1369516)
Statistically, given the number of 1-run games he has appeared in as a closer, if he were truly a good closer in those games, what are the chances that he would have blown X (however many he did blow) games? I'm guessing that number is pretty high, such that assuming that he did not have the same "talent" in 1-run games as in other games, would have a pretty high likelihood of being a Type I (Type II?) error...

We've had this discussion, actually, and blowing 10 such opportunities out of 16 fails a binomial test miserably. I don't remember what we used as p.

Anyway, again, I agree with you. I'm just not going to make a huge deal about a stat with a sample size of 16. Unexpected stuff happens.

But you can't have it both ways. If you're going to discard a whole bunch of perfectly good data because he wasn't the first pitcher in the game, you shouldn't cavil at other folks withholding data that don't suit their case.

But he was a qualitatively different pitcher then. If Hawkins were walking more batters than he was striking out, as he was doing back then, then by all means, he's a crappy closer. But Hawkins has had an impressive K:BB during this bad stretch of one-run leads.
   70. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: May 29, 2005 at 02:13 PM (#1369595)
I also find it hard to imagine a pitcher racking up such great ERA's and component numbers when he "can't close out close games." Is he racking up miniscule ERA's when closing 3-run games, and high ERA's when closing 1-run games?

Hawkins' stats since coming to the Cubs in "close" situations as closer (defined as coming in with the Cubs ahead by one run or tied while Hawkins was the team's closer) vs. his stats in all other games with the Cubs:
Situation   IP   ER   H   BB   K  HR   ERA  WHIP  K/BB
Nonclose  70.0   11  43   12  64   6  1.41  0.79  5.33
Closer    24.2   20  35    6  18   7  7.30  1.66  3.00
   71. Dan Szymborski Posted: May 29, 2005 at 02:24 PM (#1369605)
So, that's 24 innings. 2 months of the season for a reliever.

Has Keith Foulke also conclusively proven this year that he can't pitch as a closer and should be demoted permanently and never used as a closer again?
   72. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: May 29, 2005 at 02:39 PM (#1369626)
Has Keith Foulke also conclusively proven this year that he can't pitch as a closer and should be demoted permanently and never used as a closer again?

I'm not getting into this sample size debate again, because it's completely unrealistic. We don't live in our computers, and you can't expect a team to give a closer 500 innings to try to prove himself before saying that's statistically enough to show that he shouldn't be doing it. How many seasons are they supposed to piss away just to satisfy a statistician?

And there's a difference between two straight months of pitching and two months worth of appearances spread over 1.25 seasons. Players go through bad streaks where they give up runs, but there's no such thing as a streak that skips some games but affects others.

I presented the numbers only in response to the quote above. I'm not saying they definitively prove that Hawkins shouldn't be closing -- only that they are evidence in support of the idea (just like the more anecdotal evidence of his demeanor on the mound, pitch selection and location, etc.).

This quest for the definitive answer is driving me crazy on this issue. You can't have it, because closers just don't pitch enough innings. It's like trying to tell whether someone is a good pinch-hitter when he gets maybe 40 PAs a year doing it. Unless you're Manny Mota or the non-starting version of Lenny Harris, the sample size will never be enough to reach any level of meaningful statistical significance.

So the choices are throw up our hands and say there's no way to know, or work with what we've got.
   73. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: May 29, 2005 at 02:51 PM (#1369641)
And I'll add that Foulke has a history of successful closing that you can point to (in the absence of statistical significance that we all covet) and say that maybe this is just a bad streak.

Hawkins as a history of failing as a closer in Minnesota, then coming to Chicago and... failing as a closer.

When Jeter came out and hit .150 last April (or whatever it was), the Yankees didn't bench him and send him to the minors because he's got a history of strong performance to make you confident that this was just a bad stretch. But if Mike Fonetnot did the same, he'd be gone in a heartbeat, because there's nothing to make you believe this isn't just what he's capable of at this point in his career.
   74. Dan Szymborski Posted: May 29, 2005 at 02:56 PM (#1369652)
Hawkins as a history of failing as a closer in Minnesota, then coming to Chicago and... failing as a closer.

You keep trotting this out.

Hawkins did not fail as a closer - he started off with a long consecutive save streak the first year and the second year, he stunk as a closer because he pitched poorly overall, not because he stunk specifically as a closer.

Hawkins is a good pitcher and used to pitching in all sorts of high-pressure situations. If one's going to argue that LaTroy Hawkins doesn't suffer from an inability to pitch in high-pressure situations but an inability to pitch in situations described by a stat that Jerome Holtzman made up 40 years ago, I do expect to see something better than 2 months of sample size.
   75. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: May 29, 2005 at 03:10 PM (#1369664)
If one's going to argue that LaTroy Hawkins doesn't suffer from an inability to pitch in high-pressure situations but an inability to pitch in situations described by a stat that Jerome Holtzman made up 40 years ago, I do expect to see something better than 2 months of sample size.

But this isn't just save situations. Hawkins pitches fine when it's a 2- or 3-run situation. I thought that had been made clear.

And I don't argue that Hawkins isn't a good pitcher. Hawkins is a good pitcher, but one who seems to be less good when faced with certain situations. I fail to understand the resistance that such an idea meets on this site. Someone performs some parts of a job well but other parts less well -- call the papers, it's man bites dog! No wait, it's every single freaking one of us in our own jobs. If a surgeon is great at heart bypass but lousy at lung resection, would we force him to perform 100 bad resections before pulling him from the pulmonary service because he might have just been unlucky in the beginning and is ready to rip off a streak of happy endings? Sometimes you can't wait for a sufficient sample size to make a decision. (And no, I'm not comparing closing baseball games to critical surgery.)

We're not going to agree on this, so I'm not going to continue this argument. Maybe he'll go off to San Francisco and rattle off 50 straight successful one-run saves, or close until he's 50 so you can have enough opportunities to make the sample size that you seek.
   76. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: May 29, 2005 at 03:19 PM (#1369671)
If a surgeon is great at heart bypass but lousy at lung resection, would we force him to perform 100 bad resections before pulling him from the pulmonary service because he might have just been unlucky in the beginning and is ready to rip off a streak of happy endings

Heart surgeons that perform bypasses usually arent' qualified to perform lung resections.
   77. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: May 29, 2005 at 03:36 PM (#1369683)
Heart surgeons that perform bypasses usually arent' qualified to perform lung resections.

They did on my surgery rotation at the VA. We had a cardiothoracic service, and the same surgeons did lung resections, bypasses, valve replacements, etc.
   78. Fred Garvin is dead and Joe Biden is alive Posted: May 29, 2005 at 03:43 PM (#1369696)
I don't want to get immersed in the "can LaTroy close" argument, though I do believe that (a) he has closed long enough with the Twins/Cubs that his "sample size" is at least decent, though I'm no statistician; (b) if it isn't decent, what is?; (c) regardless of how much credence one gives to SV%, I would say that 79% pretty much sucks; and, most importantly, (d) even if Hawkins may be able to close out games rather well, I'm fully convinced at this point that it would never happen as a Cub.

In fact, I fully expect to see Hawkins pitch significantly better as a Giant. More power to him and I wish him well (except for when he pitches against the Cubs).


Here's what I think is idiotic, whether posted by "Statman," "mgl," or whomever:

Anything negative you hear about Hawkins from the readers herein is just B.S. they are parrotting from the ignorant Chicago media and fans.

followed by:

Whether the media in Chicago says the same thing, I really don't know. I assumed they did, although I don't read the Chicago papers, nor do I listen to Chicago TV.
   79. Mel Hall and Lou Boudreau at Danley's Garage World Posted: May 29, 2005 at 03:57 PM (#1369712)
Whether Hawkins will/can close or not, I don't know. However, he was perceived as being done with the Cubs; the front office determined he had to go. And considering what the Cubs got in return the LAST time they "had" to get rid of somebody (Hairston, Fontenot, and a since-retired farmhand Crouther), I'm pleasantly surprised that Hendry was able get anything for Hawkins. Yea, it's a low bar, but nicely done.

Unless the money the Cubs kicked in is significant...

After the Prior injury, I would have expected Hawkins to be dealt for something like Danny Graves and Eric Milton...
   80. Andere Richtingen Posted: May 29, 2005 at 03:58 PM (#1369714)
The case against Hawkins in one run games is one that is not easily dismissed by the statistics. Everyone on both sides of the argument has to admit that he has a remarkably poor record since the beginning of 2004.

But for the Love of God, people, stop bringing up his record as a closer in Minnesota. He couldn't get anybody out in any situation back then, and he walked more batters than he struck out. The question is whether Hawkins given his damned good run, BB and K rates established over the last 3+ seasons can be trusted specifically in one run games.

It is nothing more than a truism that if Hawkins were to re-establish his 2001 rates, he would suck as a closer, no matter what the run situation, or as anything else. While his rates to this point in 2005 are not nearly as impressive as they were 2002-04, he has a long way to go before he hits his 2001 level.

The argument for Hawkins in one run games assumes that he continues to put up rates at his 2002-04 level, or something close.
   81. Chris Dial Posted: May 29, 2005 at 04:00 PM (#1369717)
Never mind that he has a career 79% save percentage as a closer

That has to be the worst in the majors of anyone with his sample size.

79% *always* gets teh closer fired.

Szym,
your Foulke argument doesn't fly because his sample size says it's a slump (although I haven't looked up what you are talking about and so I guess Foulke has struggled this season and I have dialup in England so multiple windoews freak everything out).

Seriously, you could stick *anyone* in the closer role - Szymborski inclusive, and he could convert saves at a 79% rate.

That's terrible.

you can't expect a team to give a closer 500 innings to try to prove himself

This is an important observation.

When a closer comes in, the win probabilities are high (didn't David Smith say at SABR 34 that the win % has not gone up in the closer era? That is, using a closer has not reseulted in losing fewer games in the 9th?), so when the closer huffs on it, you lose, what, about half the time?

It's even worse in the playoffs.

It is entirely possible Hawkins *thinks* about being the closer as something different - not the pressure of the situation wrt the base-out situ, but the word "closer". He could, and you can't let him dump games that have a 90% win probability if you let me close.

There are 6 months in a season. You drop 8 games that had a 90% win%, you lose the pennant.
   82. Andere Richtingen Posted: May 29, 2005 at 04:04 PM (#1369723)
regardless of how much credence one gives to SV%, I would say that 79% pretty much sucks;

Well, that's not "regardless", but anyway...

You also can't judge Hawkins, who has spent the majority of his career as a set-up man, based on SV%. The reason is that middle relievers are frequently given Blown Saves when they were not, in fact, in there to get the save. Hawkins has spent a great deal of his career as a middle reliever.

That said, Hawkins still looks excellent in that regard. The 2004 SV% rate was 66.1% in the NL (which of course includes middle relievers receiving blown saves).
   83. Dag Nabbit: secretary of the World Banana Forum Posted: May 29, 2005 at 04:17 PM (#1369736)
Here's what I'm wondering reading this thread. How do the people who argue that Hawkins's isn't choking respond to the following comment made by UCCF way back when:

Hawkins was just a completely different pitcher with a one-run lead in the 9th compared with every other situation. It's like it was in his head that every pitch could be the tying run, and he minced about the strike zone until the tying run came true.

Not only are the results different for him, but there's evidence that the results are some flukey happenstance thing but a result of how he pitches in the ninth. Or is the argument that players never have mental blocks?

I'd add one more detail to UCCF's observation: based on his own quotes and press comments since being given the closer's role, he's extremely thin-skinned and hypersensitive to criticism. The guy was just a toothpick away from being the team's manager. It looked like the Wrigley Stadium Field environment encouraged his worst mental traits, he's had some bad starts, and it's snowballed until he now pitches like he's got some sort of 9th inning mental block. It's for the best he got out of town and began a fresh start somewhere else.
   84. Chris Dial Posted: May 29, 2005 at 04:18 PM (#1369737)
You also can't judge Hawkins, who has spent the majority of his career as a set-up man, based on SV%. The reason is that middle relievers are frequently given Blown Saves when they were not, in fact, in there to get the save. Hawkins has spent a great deal of his career as a middle reliever.


Er, Andere, Staman said 79% was *as a closer*, excluding the set-up men number.
   85. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: May 29, 2005 at 04:19 PM (#1369739)
The guy was just a toothpick away from being the team's manager.

OK, this made me laugh. Very nice.
   86. Andere Richtingen Posted: May 29, 2005 at 04:27 PM (#1369758)
Er, Andere, Staman said 79% was *as a closer*, excluding the set-up men number.

Missed that, but that statistic distracts us from the real issue at hand anyway: Hawkins has blown, what is it, 11 of his last 18 one-run save opportunities.

Not only are the results different for him, but there's evidence that the results are some flukey happenstance thing but a result of how he pitches in the ninth. Or is the argument that players never have mental blocks?

From my perspective, that's not the point. Yes, I am highly suspicious of arguments like that, but I have a lot of trouble putting a lot of stock in a statistic where 18 is the denominator.

Sure, it could be a mental block though. Kind of an odd one that manifests only in one run games, and one that I believe has no precedent, but I suppose it's possible. I just see no reason to prefer that argument over it simply being a very odd set of circumstances behind it.

Anyway, if it is a mental block, why hasn't Dusty succeeded in fixing it with his magic holy water?
   87. Chris Dial Posted: May 29, 2005 at 04:35 PM (#1369771)
Ah, it is Dusty's fault.
   88. Urban Faber Posted: May 29, 2005 at 04:38 PM (#1369775)
This is a dumb question, as most of mine are, but ... is there a big difference between "he needs a chance of scenery" and "he can't pitch the ninth inning with a one-run lead"? Isn't that kind of the same thing, it's just a mind game?
   89. Dan Szymborski Posted: May 29, 2005 at 04:54 PM (#1369802)
Szym,
your Foulke argument doesn't fly because his sample size says it's a slump (although I haven't looked up what you are talking about and so I guess Foulke has struggled this season and I have dialup in England so multiple windoews freak everything out).


I'm talking about the sample size for Foulke because it's within an inning of Hawkins' sample size as a closer with the Cubs.

This isn't a player who hasn't closed games successfully before. This is a guy who, in his first season as a reliever, after years of being wretched as a failed starter, was used as a closer for the first time ever and converted 14 consecutive saves.

Then, he started the next season as the closer and converted his first 9 consecutive saves. Then he started pitching poorly as a closer and as a middle reliever and as a setup man.

Minnesota is not evidence of Hawkins sucking as a closer - it's evidence that when he pitches well, he can close games and when he doesn't, he can't.

Of course there are non-statistical explanations for lots of things that happen. But in this case, people are trying to argue that Hawkins developed such an aversion to the category .

This is all making an argument and trying to fit it to the past data. Hawkins has pitched 24 innings of bad closer work for the Cubs. This is what Eric Van did arguing Trot Nixon with the Red Sox - picking apart each at-bat over a month-long period and attributing it to outside factors with the benefit of hindsight.

LaTroy Hawkins developed a mind-block for the word save, but only when the save involved a 1-run lead rather than a 2 or 3-run lead. The pressure inherent and the 1-run lead are both irrelevant to Hawkins as he does succeed in pressure situations that Jerome Holtzman doesn't give credit for and in other 1-run situations that Jerome Holtzman doesn't give credit for.

That's a ludicrous statement, but that's essentially what the argument against Hawkins is.

I can do this with any player.

Let's do it with Daniel Cabrera!

VS OAK - 3.1 IP, 5 ER
VS TB - 5 IP, 4 ER

Cabrera, a midseason callup last year, was expected to be a contributing member of the rotation this year, starting with a guaranteed job. However, he was not ready for the responsibility laid upon him and the expectations the Orioles had.

VS NYA - 6 IP, 3 ER

The Orioles had just won two games and their pitching had been surprisingly decent this year. With some of the pressure off of him, Cabrera manged to keep the Orioles in the game for the first time this year.

vs TOR - 5.2 IP, 5 ER

The Orioles were just beaten in a 2-game series by the Red Sox. Feeling the pressure to prevent a 3-game losing streak, the first the Orioles had faced, Cabrera wilted under the pressure.

vs TOR - 8 IP, 1 ER
vs MIN - 8 IP, 0 ER

The Orioles solidified their 1st place position and Cabrera was able to breath easier and let his natural talents flow.

vs CHA - 6 IP, 5 ER
vs PHI - 3.2 IP, 7 ER

The Orioles slumped a little facing the best team in the AL, losing the first 2 games. Cabrera just couldn't concentrate and being compared to Clemens after his 2 earlier games got to his head.

vs SEA - 7 IP, 1 ER

Finally, a break! With the focus on the loss of Bedard, the Orioles had an easy time, managing to sweep the moribund Mariners.

Conclusion: Daniel Cabrera has lots of physical tools but is unable to cope with any kind of pressure situation. Even if his control improves as the season goes in, if the Orioles make the playoffs, he should be mopping up games, not being put in the forefront of important games.

There. I took another player's 2 months, made up a convenient story to fit the data, and made a conclusive statement.

And if I posted this story anywhere, people would be calling ######## and telling me that I'm pullin g stuff out of my ass and they'd be right. And that's making a general statement on pressure, not the ultra-specific 1-run only, save situation only, Hawkins statement.
   90. Dan Szymborski Posted: May 29, 2005 at 05:04 PM (#1369818)
If a surgeon is great at heart bypass but lousy at lung resection, would we force him to perform 100 bad resections before pulling him from the pulmonary service because he might have just been unlucky in the beginning and is ready to rip off a streak of happy endings? Sometimes you can't wait for a sufficient sample size to make a decision. (And no, I'm not comparing closing baseball games to critical surgery.)

No, this is not what you're arguing at all.

You're arguing that there a cab driver who's 2 accidents were heading westbound clearly can't drive west but can handle north, east, and southbound dropoffs adequately.

Or that the guy at Subway who messed up both your tuna salad and shrimp salad subs on consecutive occasions should be relegated to only preparing subs that don't consist of something mixed with mayonaisse.
   91. Dan Szymborski Posted: May 29, 2005 at 05:11 PM (#1369840)
Just to sum up:

I understand completely the practical matter of getting Hawkins out of the closer role.

I understand completely that Hawkins hasn't been good as a closer for the Cubs.

I reject the argument that this has predictive value for his future closer jobs.

I reject the argument that Minnesota provides evidence for the current argument as Hawkins closed well when he pitched well and closed poorly when he was pitching poorly in both save and non-save situations.

I could buy an argument that LaTroy Hawkins might have trouble pitching in high-pressure situations. I could buy an argument that LaTroy Hawkins might have trouble finishing games.

I can not buy an argument that Hawkins has shown an inability, to succeed in a subset of the subset of high-pressure game finishes that fit into a category that Jerome Holtzman made up arbitrarily 40 years ago.
   92. Andere Richtingen Posted: May 29, 2005 at 05:12 PM (#1369842)
But Dan, while I agree with you, Hawkins' record with the Cubs in one run save situations fails a binomial probability test. I can't remember what closers' SV% is in one-run situations, but if you plug that in, 11 blown out of 18 is off the tail.

I believe that Hawkins' poor record is largely a fluke, but it's certainly worthy of a raised eyebrow, unlike the examples you gave.
   93. Francoeur Sans Gages (AlouGoodbye) Posted: May 29, 2005 at 05:20 PM (#1369865)
As I understand it Hawkins is not going to be the Giants closer. So isn't this a little moot?
   94. Dag Nabbit: secretary of the World Banana Forum Posted: May 29, 2005 at 05:25 PM (#1369875)
I could buy an argument that LaTroy Hawkins might have trouble pitching in high-pressure situations. I could buy an argument that LaTroy Hawkins might have trouble finishing games.

That's what I'd argue. Especially in his current, er, recently completed environment in Chicago. He can do it, but he's got a mental block and is choking.

You're arguing that there a cab driver who's 2 accidents were heading westbound clearly can't drive west but can handle north, east, and southbound dropoffs adequately.

IIRC, I read he'd blown 10 out of 16 1-run leads with the Cubs. Would you loan your car to someone who wrecked his vehicle 10 times out of 16 when going a certain direction?
   95. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: May 29, 2005 at 05:25 PM (#1369877)
As I understand it Hawkins is not going to be the Giants closer. So isn't this a little moot?

When has the mootness of a point ever stopped a discussion around here? :-)
   96. Dan Szymborski Posted: May 29, 2005 at 05:42 PM (#1369915)
IIRC, I read he'd blown 10 out of 16 1-run leads with the Cubs. Would you loan your car to someone who wrecked his vehicle 10 times out of 16 when going a certain direction?

When 5 or 6 out of 16 is an average result?
   97. Dan Szymborski Posted: May 29, 2005 at 05:44 PM (#1369924)
As I understand it Hawkins is not going to be the Giants closer. So isn't this a little moot?

It's still relevant - Hawkins isn't being blocked by a good pitcher at closer, he's being blocked by Tyler Walker.
   98. Steve Treder Posted: May 29, 2005 at 06:05 PM (#1369978)
It's still relevant - Hawkins isn't being blocked by a good pitcher at closer, he's being blocked by Tyler Walker.

Exactly. Assuming the Giants must annoint one and only one reliever to be their Save-situation-only Closer -- an asinine assumption, but one the Giants and every other team readily make -- then the question for the Giants isn't how Hawkins is likely to do in 1-run Save situations compared with the ML average, but how he's likely to do in 1-run Save situations compared with Tyler Walker.

What Alou was quoted in this morning's paper as saying is that Hawkins will be the 8th inning guy, allowing Walker to focus on what he does best. You know, Tyler Walker, that Proven Closer.

Argh.
   99. Francoeur Sans Gages (AlouGoodbye) Posted: May 29, 2005 at 06:18 PM (#1370006)
It's still relevant - Hawkins isn't being blocked by a good pitcher at closer, he's being blocked by Tyler Walker.

But doesn't the setup man often pitch in higher leverage situations? Surely Hawkins is blocking Walker from the most important job, not vice versa.
   100. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 29, 2005 at 06:26 PM (#1370024)
But Dan, while I agree with you, Hawkins' record with the Cubs in one run save situations fails a binomial probability test. I can't remember what closers' SV% is in one-run situations, but if you plug that in, 11 blown out of 18 is off the tail.

I believe that Hawkins' poor record is largely a fluke, but it's certainly worthy of a raised eyebrow, unlike the examples you gave.


I did the binomial test in an earlier thread that Andere's citing.

With some updated numbers, here's the deal: In 2004, using Retrosheet game logs, teams that trailed by exactly one run entering the ninth inning scored about 25% of the time, so you'd expect an average major-league closer to save 75% of his one-run saves.

Hawkins has had 18 one-run save situations (as far as I remember, all of which were cases where he entered the game to start the ninth inning). You'd expect 95% of average closers to save 9 - 16 such games. You'd expect 99.88% of such closers to save 8 or more of those 18 games. Hawkins saved 7 of them.
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