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   1. Enrico Pallazzo Posted: November 10, 2007 at 08:17 PM (#2611333)
Though I agree with your analysis overall, I'd have to say this is a bit of a different situation than the Renteria one. Trading Lugo might not be viewed as as big of a "panic move" as trading Renteria, as the Sox have players who can actually step in like Lowrie or even Cora. Trading Renteria left the Sox with nothing at SS in 2005/2006 and they had to build a bridge with Sea Bass.

Regardless, I don't suggest Boston worry too much about Lugo, and just hope they get to see more of the player they thought they signed next year. But if he's batting < .200 again at the ASB, and Jed continues to hit in AAA, then some changes might need to be made (though Lugo wouldn't really have any trade value if that were to happen).

No matter what Lugo does in 2008, I want to see Lowrie turning two with Pedroia in April, 2009.
   2. PerroX Posted: November 10, 2007 at 08:49 PM (#2611341)
JD Drew was a disappointment, but in the end he put up an OPS of ~800, so he wasn’t THAT bad.

$14 million for an 800 OPS and 71 xtra bases at an outfield corner is an abomination.
   3. Toby Posted: November 10, 2007 at 09:12 PM (#2611352)
"It’s hard to characterize the dumping of him [Renteria] (while paying a chunk of his contract) as anything but a panic move"?

Sorry, but this is incredibly revisionist history, to me.

Renteria for Marte was widely seen as an incredible steal for the Red Sox. I don't think the Sox dumped him, at all; I think they valued him appropriately and got what seemed to be a remarkably good return. Yankees fans and Braves fans were gnashing their teeth over the Sox getting Marte.

It was not a dump or a panic move. It was a case of the Braves finding out that their blue-chip prospect was actually a 'performance enhancing substance' user, and injured to boot, and dumping *him* on the Sox.

The Sox would be a lot better off today if the Marte they got from the Braves was in fact the Marte everyone thought he was.

This turns out to be one of those trades, like the Jeremy Giambi for John Mabry trade, where it looked too good to be true at the time and, indeed, turned out to be. It had nothing to do with anyone undervaluing or overvaluing Renteria and everything to do with carpe diem.
   4. PerroX Posted: November 10, 2007 at 09:16 PM (#2611357)
"Schuerholz is stupid" - not a smart bet.
   5. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: November 10, 2007 at 09:39 PM (#2611366)
Seriously, what's the deal with Lugo? Is it possible he's hiding some kind of injury or something? He just seems to have totally forgotten how to hit since leaving Tampa Bay: .233/.287/.332 (.619)

That's just a dramatically poor stretch--nearly 800 PAs--for a guy who I really think of as being a solid talent. Is it just an awful slump or do people have a theory on what's wrong with him?
   6. Honkie Kong Posted: November 10, 2007 at 09:40 PM (#2611368)
Yankees fans and Braves fans were gnashing their teeth over the Sox getting Marte.

I love that thread. I was being rather cantankerous, I see. After that trade, JS could deal Chipper for some rookie league prospect, I would say "lets wait and see"
   7. walt williams bobblehead Posted: November 10, 2007 at 09:55 PM (#2611371)
Is it just an awful slump or do people have a theory on what's wrong with him?


From August 2006 through June 2007, he hit under .200, culminating in .089 for June. After that he was okay. So there is some reason to think it was just an awful slump.
   8. PJ Martinez Posted: November 10, 2007 at 10:04 PM (#2611380)
"The Sox would be a lot better off today if the Marte they got from the Braves was in fact the Marte everyone thought he was."

Given how long the Sox held on to Marte, it's not clear to me how the Sox would be any better off in that case. The Indians, on the other hand...

I think Lugo will bounce back, at least a little. And having Lowrie at AAA means there's at least the semblance of an in-house fallback option.
   9. Kevin Sweet Child Romine (aco) Posted: November 10, 2007 at 10:32 PM (#2611391)
Wasn't Renteria's "dumping" due more to his lousy fielding than his sub-par hitting, or am I misremembering? Lugo is no gold glover, but he is at least a capable shortstop.
   10. Joel W Posted: November 10, 2007 at 10:56 PM (#2611406)
Renteria definitely had fielding troubles in Boston, which may have also affected his hitting. He definitely said something about knowing the fields of the NL parks better and missing them.
   11. Darren Posted: November 10, 2007 at 11:18 PM (#2611420)
Sorry, but this is incredibly revisionist history, to me.


You bet it is. I thought it was a good deal at the time. Looking back on the results, I see that it was a panic to give up on Renteria so quickly. Like the Red Sox, I overreacted. Like the Indians (and maybe Red Sox) I overvalued Marte. One thing that I will note is that Marte was a very tough player to judge at the time. BA loved his defense but others hated it. His production was good but his K rate was too high. I remember having a hard time coming up with similar players for him.

This turns out to be one of those trades, like the Jeremy Giambi for John Mabry trade, where it looked too good to be true at the time and, indeed, turned out to be. It had nothing to do with anyone undervaluing or overvaluing Renteria and everything to do with carpe diem.


It had a lot to do with undervaluing Renteria. If the Red Sox thought he'd put up two excellent years in 06 and 07, do you think they would have traded him and opened up a gaping hole at SS to get a redundant 3B? I think their actions say that they didn't think he was all that good.

Maybe you're misreading my overall point though. I'm not saying that the Red Sox were idiots. I'm just saying that time has shown they miscalculated on Renteria (happens to everyone) and that other teams miscalculated on Lowell. These are just two close-to-home examples where a player's most recent single season was given way too much weight. And those will serve as a reminder not to do the same again if you can help it.
   12. JB H Posted: November 10, 2007 at 11:32 PM (#2611425)
I'm not really worried about Lugo. He's probably good for a .725 OPS with pretty good defense and base running next year, that's not going to hold the team back at all.

I don't think the Red Sox panicked with Renteria at all. Renteria looked really bad at the time. His strikeouts were up like 75% from his peak, he had no power, wasn't fast and he was a seriously terrible defensive SS. The Sox also got legit value from him.
   13. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: November 11, 2007 at 12:45 AM (#2611460)
At that point in the 05/06 offseason, the Red Sox had no center fielder (or were about to be lacking a CF, either way). There were no center fielders who were any good on the free agent market or in the organization. Trading Renteria got them an extra trade chit that they could and did turn into a guy they thought was an above-average center fielder. I look back on the Renteria->Marte->Coco chain as one of those convoluted Theo moves that actually came to pass.

The Red Sox saw an opportunity to replace their SS with the relatively comparable Alex Gonzalez and get a CF that they badly needed, so they dealt Renteria.

Now, the talent evaluations here were wrong. Renteria was good. Coco was not very good. Losing Gonzalez after one year meant paying lots of money for sub-mediocrity in 2007. But I'm not sure I'd call it "panic" - there was a clear chaining logic to the moves, and it's easy to imagine the talent evaluations that backed up that logic.
   14. OCD SS Posted: November 11, 2007 at 12:56 AM (#2611465)
Renteria's defense has not ever really rebounded, has it though? Despite the lip service paid to improving the team's defense in '04 I think that it's a very goal for the new teams being constructed. I keep looking at Hanley's +/- and UZR scores and thinking that the FO probably had an idea that HRam wouldn't have a great deal of value at SS when they were considering the Beckett deal.
   15. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: November 11, 2007 at 01:04 AM (#2611469)
the FO probably had an idea that HRam wouldn't have a great deal of value at SS when they were considering the Beckett deal.
The front office would have been wrong, though. Ramirez was several wins above average in both '06 and '07, even if his defense is as bad as the numbers say. (I'm still skeptical that he's actually particularly bad at short. He's got every tool you need for the position.)

I don't want to get into an argument over whether the Red Sox front office should or should not have made the trade, but the excellence of Hanley Ramirez should be acknowledged either way.
   16. bibigon Posted: November 11, 2007 at 01:29 AM (#2611476)
The Red Sox trade Renteria for a player who was one of the top five or so prospects in baseball at the time, as near as anyone other than the Braves could tell. He had good stats, and he had great tools. BA loved him. BP loved him. Everyone, other than the Braves, loved him.

Unless the Red Sox's scouts were saying "Marte is a mirage", then moving Renteria for him was not a panic move. It was getting very solid value for a player who at the time was questionable to be good ever again. Remember, Renteria was bad in 2004 and 2005 - not just a one year dip.

It comes down to Marte being a bust, not the Renteria trade being a panic move.
   17. philly Posted: November 11, 2007 at 01:59 AM (#2611489)
I think what's missing in the discussion about whether or not it was a panic move was the sense - and yeah it's just a hazy recollection of a "sense" - that the Sox wanted out from Renteria no matter what as soon as the season ended. As I recall down the stretch there were negative things said about him, perhaps even with attribution. They wanted him gone.

That they ended up with what looked like a great return on his trade may make it seem like they were content to hold onto him until they got a good return, but I'm not so sure that was true.
   18. tfbg9 Posted: November 11, 2007 at 02:25 AM (#2611494)
I've read that Renteria had a bad back in 2005, and wasn't all that happy in the Red Sox Fishbowl.

Lugo just had brutal luck on BABIP all year, but it reversed in the WS, particularly on GB's, where I believe I saw him hit more bouncers through the infield than he managed during the rest of 2007. I just kind of get the feeling he'll be OK from now on, what with the ring and everything that goes with it. For a guy who appeared a bit uptight for a hell of a percentage of the season, the Championship he won while hanging up some very decent overall postseason stats has got to bring him a lot of big deep breaths.

I watched a huge percentage of the ballgames this year, And his D is pretty bad AFAICT, and it really does look like he's playing very very carefully all of the time, like he's not relaxed. And he seems to be the worst SS I've ever seen at making diving stops. I almost never see him do one of those.

All that said, my gut feeeling is that he'll relax now and be perfectly average: .270 .300 .400.

The other thing that jumps out at you when you examine his year is how bad he was on the road: .190 .241 .306 .547, with just an incredible crap .202 road BABIP.
   19. villageidiom Posted: November 11, 2007 at 03:59 AM (#2611531)
As long as the Bard/Meredith-for-Mirabelli trade is still in my memory, I cannot look at the Renteria deal nor any other as a "panic move".
   20. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: November 11, 2007 at 04:20 AM (#2611533)
Yankees fans and Braves fans were gnashing their teeth over the Sox getting Marte.

Heh. Looking back on old trade threads is always good times. You'd think that by that point, people would just assume the Braves won the trade.
   21. Toby Posted: November 11, 2007 at 04:36 AM (#2611534)
Trying to find some common ground here with Darren, I will concede that what the Sox did with Renteria was "sell low". And it's not generally a good idea to do that, unless you have reason to believe the "low point" is not likely to bounce back.

With Renteria the Sox did have signs that Renteria was not going to bounce back well, at least not for Boston. He had visibly gained a lot of weight. He talked about how he was unhappy with the Fenway infield and generally unhappy with the American League. And these are the things he went public about; just how much more went on behind the curtain? I don't think we have any evidence that Renteria would have bounced back in Boston the way he did in Atlanta. I think he would have bounced back some, but not as much.

The Lugo and Renteria situations actually point to a larger problem: Sox acquisitions of late generally seem to underperform the first year here. Beckett. Crisp. Lugo. Drew. Matsuzaka. Wily Mo. The guys who did about as expected the first year? Loretta, Lowell, A-Gon, Clement, Wells, Gagne. Who has seriously overperformed? The only guy who comes to mind is Okajima.

I don't like to see the Sox sell low when they have someone signed long term. I don't want them to replace Lugo or Drew. I don't want them to trade Crisp. Renteria I didn't mind parting with, because he was visibly not the same player. But I don't see that with Lugo or Drew or Crisp or Dice-K for that matter -- these guys have underperformed but they seem to be trying (yes, even Drew) to thrive in Boston. Renteria didn't want to thrive in Boston -- his heart wasn't in it. I said the same about BHK, too, anyone miss him?
   22. Darren Posted: November 11, 2007 at 04:52 AM (#2611536)
People are really getting hung up on the word "panic." If it makes anyone feel better, I'm not wedded to it. My point revolves more around them dealing him at a low point after one bad year.

And I think people are also getting a little too hung up on Renteria being unhappy, heavy, etc. Whatever problems he had in 2005, they went away in 2006 (except his defense was still not good). If he stayed in Boston, he'd likely have gotten used to the infield, the American League, the city, etc.
   23. Chip Posted: November 11, 2007 at 05:13 AM (#2611544)
The other thing that jumps out at you when you examine his year is how bad he was on the road: .190 .241 .306 .547, with just an incredible crap .202 road BABIP.


Groupie availability adjustment.
   24. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: November 11, 2007 at 06:27 AM (#2611558)
I agree with stickign with Lugo.

We won a WS, and he can't GET WORSE.
   25. John DiFool2 Posted: November 11, 2007 at 03:52 PM (#2611619)
We won a WS, and he can't GET WORSE.


But he likely, in terms of upside, won't be getting much better. Lowrie's upside is much higher due to (natch) being younger. Thus Lugo won't be doing, even in the best of circumstances, very much to help the team win.
   26. Darren Posted: November 11, 2007 at 04:03 PM (#2611624)
He likely will be getting much better. Coming into 07, his WARP1s were 4.9, 5.0, 7.4, and 3.5. In 07, he was at .5. He projects to get 3+ wins better next year, on the low side.
   27. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: November 11, 2007 at 04:31 PM (#2611632)
If the Red Sox could trade him, he'd be gone yesterday.
   28. OCD SS Posted: November 11, 2007 at 04:34 PM (#2611634)
The front office would have been wrong, though. Ramirez was several wins above average in both '06 and '07, even if his defense is as bad as the numbers say. (I'm still skeptical that he's actually particularly bad at short. He's got every tool you need for the position.)


I was referring to defense only; if the FO was going to try to build around pitching and defense, then their willingness to include HRam in a deal (which I thought was a good move when everyone thought he was going to be a good defender) would make even more sense if they had an inkling that he was going to be a butcher in the field.

I'm not even sure they had that inkling (because of the tools), but some players never put it all together...

but the excellence of Hanley Ramirez should be acknowledged either way.


Offensively, yes, and as a valuable player at the position, yes again. But he's the new Jeter so far and seems like someone that will inspire a lot of debate about changing positions...
   29. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: November 11, 2007 at 04:48 PM (#2611636)
But he likely, in terms of upside, won't be getting much better. Lowrie's upside is much higher due to (natch) being younger. Thus Lugo won't be doing, even in the best of circumstances, very much to help the team win.

Of course I want to see Lowrie. But I'd start the season with Lugo as the starting SS, and Lowrie in AAA. If Lugo still stinks by the ASB, it's Jed time.
   30. Cowboy Popup Posted: November 11, 2007 at 05:37 PM (#2611645)
The other thing that jumps out at you when you examine his year is how bad he was on the road: .190 .241 .306 .547, with just an incredible crap .202 road BABIP.

When he's at home, he gets to work on his hitting with his wife.
   31. John DiFool2 Posted: November 11, 2007 at 05:37 PM (#2611646)
He likely will be getting much better.


Doubtful. He'll be 32, and what people often miss in these discussions is just how quickly mediocre 30-something players like Lugo can drop below replacement, permanently. Far more of Lugo's age 31 comps do that (Tony Bernazard, Jeff Blauser), vs. having a comeback season or two in them (Bill Doran). Collectively they had an 80 OPS+ after age 31, which actually makes them look pretty good, as if you aren't in the league anymore you aren't contributing to the stat line. For criminy's sake we aren't talking about an All-Star caliber player at his peak, people, but someone who sneaked above 100 OPS+ exactly once. Renteria is/was a much better hitter, and 2 years younger in 2005.
   32. Valentine Posted: November 11, 2007 at 07:31 PM (#2611692)
If Lugo still stinks by the ASB, it's Jed time.

If Lugo makes the All-Star team, it's STILL Jed time. But we'll get a lot more back in trade under that scenario.
   33. Phil Coorey is a T-Shirt Salesman Posted: November 12, 2007 at 01:24 AM (#2611853)
I say keep Lugo for a while and see what happens
   34. Darren Posted: November 12, 2007 at 01:45 AM (#2611857)
Doubtful. He'll be 32, and what people often miss in these discussions is just how quickly mediocre 30-something players like Lugo can drop below replacement, permanently. Far more of Lugo's age 31 comps do that (Tony Bernazard, Jeff Blauser), vs. having a comeback season or two in them (Bill Doran).


I'd trust his projections a lot more than I'd trust BBREf comps, and I think those projections will say he's in line to rebound quite a bit. A big problem with using BBRef comps in this way is that they don't consider shape of the career.
   35. Rough Carrigan Posted: November 12, 2007 at 02:37 AM (#2611869)
Another weird thing about Lugo's year was how incredibly bad he was in the month of June.

In June 2007, Lugo batted .080, yes, point zero eight zero (7 for 79). He had an on base percentage that month of .170 with the help of his 8 walks. He had a slugging percentage of .139. Yes, point one three nine. He had one home run and one double among his seven hits that month.

If you delete his horrible, and AFAIK, inexplicable, June from his season's stats, his season numbers become:
.261 batting average
.316 on base percentage
.382 slugging percentage.

Not great numbers at all but all the way up to pedestrian.
FWIW, I know some other Sox fans who sat near the on deck circle in a game in May or June and kept offering encouragement to him each time he was in the on deck circle. They said that the last time he was there he thanked them quite sincerely.
   36. John DiFool2 Posted: November 12, 2007 at 06:04 AM (#2611930)
I trust what has been the typical aging curve for a player, at his peak, of the general type that Lugo is/was, stretching back over decades of baseball. What projections would that be, Darren? One thing these projections often miss is the moment when a player loses it, they assume just a gentle downward curve, at worst. What projection system would have predicted the almost instantaneous drop in value by Roberto Alomar after his 2001 season, when he had hit .336?* All I'm saying is that the number of players who rebound, in their early 30's, from such a bad season as Lugo just had are greatly outnumbered by those who stay down and are quickly out of the league-THAT is the typical shape of the career of such a player after he seems to have hit the wall, not a sudden return to normalcy as if nothing happened. And even if he does "comeback" a bit, he's still probably going to suck.

*[I'll point out that Alomar is Jeter's #1 comp thru age 33, by almost 50 points, and was also dogged by questions about his defense at that time IIRC. Make of that what you will.]
   37. Xander Posted: November 12, 2007 at 06:09 AM (#2611937)
.261 batting average
.316 on base percentage
.382 slugging percentage.
These are his numbers after you eliminated a .080/.170/.139 month? Damn, he really sucked this year.
   38. plim Posted: November 12, 2007 at 03:35 PM (#2612088)
julio lugo:
07 ops+: 65
career ops+: 88
defensive reputation: average to below average
07 actual defense: above average
julio lugo contract: 4/39

alex gonzalez
07 ops+: 99
career ops+: 80
defensive reputation: very good to excellent
07 actual defense: above average
contract: 3/14

ok, so alex gonzalez' career year in 07 helped bump up his career ops+ to 80, but his previous 4 years were 75 85 79 96.

i have never understood the facination over julio lugo. you're talking about a guy that slugged over .400 in hitter-haven houston only once, and has had a 100+ ops+ season only once in his career. he is the embodiment of mediocre and yet was coveted, pursued and signed as an almost-all-star player. the red sox were his only suitors, yet they bid for him like he was the hottest shortstop on the market!

his defense this year was a welcome surprise, but still. i don't understand why we had to pay him almost double (and an extra year) over alex gonzalez without even a consideration or blink of an eye in gonzalez' general direction!

even if we got "vintage" lugo (.280/.333/.400/90 with bad defense), i still would have taken a vintage gonzalez .250/.300/.390/80 with better defense over him, let alone for half the price. mind you, lugo would have loved to have had that line this year =P

and what's with lugo's wannabe bruce lee stare into the pitcher? has he always done that? it's quite annoying.
   39. Valentine Posted: November 12, 2007 at 10:38 PM (#2612653)
even if we got "vintage" lugo (.280/.333/.400/90 with bad defense), i still would have taken a vintage gonzalez .250/.300/.390/80 with better defense over him, let alone for half the price.

I might question your characterization of Lugo... Over the four previous years, Lugo had an OPS+ of 98, 94, 105, and 96. His two previous seasons were .295/.362/.403 and .278/.341/.421, both somewhat better than the "vintage" line you describe. Furthermore, most knowledgeable analysts credit Lugo with average defense over his career. Is it relevant that the less informed believe him to be a poor defensive player? That said, I wasn't pleased with the signing. He was awful with the Dodgers at the end of 2006, which worried me, and middle infielders can age poorly through their mid-thirties. Even worse -- he cost us our first-round draft pick!

On the other hand, Alex Gonzalez missed 30 games in 2005 and 50 games in each of the last two years. Lugo has been a much more durable player over his career.

There is a good chance that Lugo will rebound somewhat in 2008. He couldn't get any worse, could he?
   40. PJ Martinez Posted: November 13, 2007 at 05:31 AM (#2613041)
Julio's Lugo's freakishly bad 2007 and Alex Gonzalez's semi-career-year in 2007 make the two players seem much more similar than they are, at least offenively. (Defensively, I think they're not that far apart, though I would give Gonzalez the edge, purely from watching both of them in Boston.)

Alex Gonzalez has had an OBP below .300 every other year for his entire career. Prior to 2007, the lowest OBP of Julio Lugo's career was .322, back in 2002. Ever after 2007, the difference between their career OBP's is 38 points, which seems like a pretty significant margin.

That said, Alex Gonzalez is two years younger than Lugo-- which surprises me, for some reason.

Anyway, it seems like the Sox are happy to go into 2008 with Lugo starting and Lowrie in the wings. Have there been any reports otherwise?
   41. OCD SS Posted: November 14, 2007 at 02:27 AM (#2613978)
Anyway, it seems like the Sox are happy to go into 2008 with Lugo starting and Lowrie in the wings. Have there been any reports otherwise?


Not any legitimate ones. Would you care to comment on the wild speculations of ESPN radio contributors that the the Sox will trade Lugo and try to re-sign Lowell for 3B and A-Rod for SS?
   42. Darren Posted: November 14, 2007 at 03:01 AM (#2614010)
I trust what has been the typical aging curve for a player, at his peak, of the general type that Lugo is/was, stretching back over decades of baseball.


This is an assumption. You've decided that Lugo belongs to this group of players that falls off sharply. What we don't have:

--the qualifications that get one into this group.
--The data showing that this group tends to fall off a table.

Until we have this, there's really no way to argue this point. For example, this:

All I'm saying is that the number of players who rebound, in their early 30's, from such a bad season as Lugo just had are greatly outnumbered by those who stay down and are quickly out of the league-THAT is the typical shape of the career of such a player after he seems to have hit the wall, not a sudden return to normalcy as if nothing happened.


You can say this, but unless you put parameters on "such a bad season," "greatly outnumbered," and "stay down and are quickly out of the league," there's no way to tell if it's correct or not.

And whatever parameters you DO put on it, I doubt it will be true. The projections that I'm talking about--ZIPS, Pecota, Bill James, etc--will almost certainly call for Lugo to be somewhere well north of the replacement level numbers he put up last year. These projections have been shown to be reliable for most players. You haven't shown that Lugo is a special case (or part of some special group) for which these projections don't apply.

Now if you're saying that Lugo's projections will predict a replacement level 08 for him, that's a different matter. I'd still disagree though.

As a side note, I would never dream of picking Alomar as a comparable player for Lugo, especially not an age-34 Alomar.
   43. Darren Posted: November 14, 2007 at 03:32 AM (#2614034)
And maybe it's too late for this, but let's not let this get contentious. I disagree with you but we're still both fans of the World Champs. :)
   44. Valentine Posted: November 15, 2007 at 04:10 AM (#2615290)
According to the Globe, the Bill James prediction for Lugo is: .266/9/57/26. Might translate to .266/.325/.390?
   45. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: November 15, 2007 at 12:22 PM (#2615542)
Like, right after he made a mockery of AA pitching.

Jacoby wasn't all that hot against AAA pitching. Respectable, but not hot. He was hot at the MLB level for some reason though.

Whatever, Jacoby at CF next year excites me. Somebody that fast in ANY part of the lineup makes me happy.
   46. John DiFool2 Posted: November 15, 2007 at 03:47 PM (#2615629)
[trying not to get contentious here]

My main point is that career length is directly related to talent level (yeah duhh). This is the one thing which struck me when I was examining career comps for various Yankee and Red Sox players a couple of weeks ago over at SOSH-in almost every case the comps of a mediocre player like Lugo were gone from the league by their mid 30's, if not earlier, while for a good or great player some of their comps washed out (injuries playing a big part), while some lasted into their late 30's. Coco's comps for example are even worse than Lugo's; almost none of Crisp's comps lasted as good players past age 30. This is something you absolutely cannot miss if you study the issue even in the most half-assed way. What I am saying is that for an age 32 player of Lugo's general quality to bounce back and become even average (off/def) after suffering a season like the past one is very rare-it did happen, for one year, for one of his comps (Billy Doran), but far more typical is someone like Tony Bernazard, who went from being a solid if unspectacular 2B in his 20's, to out of the league at age 31. Players like Lugo often don't get a chance at a comeback because nobody will give them a job after a season like that (or Bernazard's age 30 season w/ 92 OPS+).

However neither of us has seen a projection yet (if you have linky linkly please) so we are whistling in the wind right now. The projection systems are very conservative, assuming a slight decline for early 30 players while in reality a majority will hold their value while others will drop off badly (same thing for projections for young kids-no projection system predicted Hanley's 2006, even though we know some young players develop like mad like that every year).

I was comparing Alomar to Jeter, not Lugo.
   47. John DiFool2 Posted: November 15, 2007 at 03:57 PM (#2615640)
Didn't see #45: even at that level Lugo is still marginal, roughly translating to an 85 OPS+, which is below average for a major-league SS (.275/.330/.407).
   48. Mike Emeigh Posted: November 15, 2007 at 04:20 PM (#2615678)
I trust what has been the typical aging curve for a player, at his peak, of the general type that Lugo is/was, stretching back over decades of baseball.


I think that's the wisest approach. I would point out that accounting for this typical pattern is what PECOTA tries to do, and what other projection systems worth their salt should be (and usually are) trying to do as well. The problem, of course, is trying to identify the type of player that Lugo is most like.

I took a look at Lugo's statistical comps on baseball-reference. Most of them aren't especially relevant, IMO, with career shapes that are enough different from Lugo's so that I wouldn't want to rely on them. Johnny Logan, the old Braves SS, does have a vaguely similar career pattern, also having a career-worst year (up to that point) in 1958 at age 31. Logan did, in fact, rebound in 1959 to have a year more in line with his 1955-1956 peak, but that was his last good season.

-- MWE
   49. Darren Posted: November 16, 2007 at 04:00 AM (#2617000)
John,

I think the problem with what you're saying is that either you're using BBRef comps, which are meaningless for projection, or you're using some other definition of 'players of his type' which is not defined well enough to test out.

In discussions of the Mike Lowell acquisition, MGL went on at great lengths about projecting players after they had one horrible year. His conclusion after studying the matter was that it was in no way an indicator that a player had 'lost it.' It tended to have the exact same effect on a player's projection for the following year that any other stat line would have. In other words, a straight projection would still be the best way to tell what a player was going to do.

However neither of us has seen a projection yet (if you have linky linkly please) so we are whistling in the wind right now.


Agreed.

The projection systems are very conservative, assuming a slight decline for early 30 players while in reality a majority will hold their value while others will drop off badly


I think a majority will decline slightly, while a few will drop off precipitously. Again, though, we don't know if Lugo will fall in the former or the latter group.

Didn't see #45: even at that level Lugo is still marginal, roughly translating to an 85 OPS+, which is below average for a major-league SS (.275/.330/.407).


It's not good, that's for sure. But it represents a significant recovery from last year, which is what I have been arguing he will do.
   50. Valentine Posted: November 16, 2007 at 04:49 PM (#2617407)
He showed what he could do in AA and should have been put on a fasttrack to the majors at that point.

Small sample size alert!

Nonetheless, I'm comfortable suggesting that he is superior to Crisp. ;-)
   51. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: November 16, 2007 at 05:00 PM (#2617426)
I think the most important question for Lugo is: how is his bodyquickness?
   52. Darren Posted: November 17, 2007 at 03:08 AM (#2618104)
Wow, bodyquickness, that's good stuff.

FWIW, after making his little adjustment with the batting coach on ~June 15, Coco hit .301 .364 .444 for the rest of the season. I wouldn't expect that good of a line next year (can you imagine!), but it's not crazy to think he could do like .340/.430 or something.
   53. Mike Emeigh Posted: November 17, 2007 at 03:40 AM (#2618138)
BBRef comps, which are meaningless for projection


They aren't meaningless, but you have to look at the career paths as well as the raw numbers.

-- MWE
   54. Darren Posted: November 17, 2007 at 04:05 AM (#2618160)
There's nothing to suggest that a guy on the list is more helpful in projecting than a guy who's not on the list. That makes them pretty meaningless.
   55. walt williams bobblehead Posted: November 17, 2007 at 04:20 AM (#2618171)
I suspect that the Red Sox have their own more sophisticated system for projecting how an individual player will age, and that one reason they signed Lugo was that they felt he'd be at least adequate for the length of the contract. Of course, that's what they said when they signed Renteria.
   56. JB H Posted: November 17, 2007 at 04:20 AM (#2618172)
Looking at Bill James comps is basically doing what PECOTA or really any other projection system does but without regressing out the massive amounts of noise in the data. I don't really see the point when the other projections aren't hard to find.
   57. JB H Posted: November 17, 2007 at 04:29 AM (#2618179)
I suspect that the Red Sox have their own more sophisticated system for projecting how an individual player will age, and that one reason they signed Lugo was that they felt he'd be at least adequate for the length of the contract.

If there were an infinite number of short stops available and the Sox made a move that PECOTA disagreed with, then we can probably assume that they have better info than we do. But there were probably like four reasonable options available to them last offseason, so all you can assume is that the Sox thought Lugo was better than the other three.

I'm sure the Sox have their own projection system, but I really doubt it's much better than PECOTA.
   58. Darren Posted: November 17, 2007 at 05:17 AM (#2618213)
I'm sure the Sox have their own projection system, but I really doubt it's much better than PECOTA.


The Drew and Lugo contracts would point to you being right.
   59. Rough Carrigan Posted: November 17, 2007 at 05:53 AM (#2618233)
I'm actually fairly optimistic about Lugo. He didn't strike out a ton. He still seems to have good bat speed. It just looked like he tightened up and tried to pull everything. He grounded so many outside fastballs to shortstop it was ridiculous. If he'll modify his approach and try to hit those to center for singles he'll do well.
   60. Darren Posted: November 18, 2007 at 01:48 AM (#2618798)
Eric M. Van's take from SOSH:


Except he didn't suck. He had a terrible OPS. Not the same thing. As I've noted elsewhere, by the time you add a positional adjustment, terrific clutch hitting (relative to his overall performance), excellent base stealing and running, and very good defense, he was MLB average (relative to all SS play; a tad below relative to starting SS). It's really hard to win 96 games if one of your guys is as awful as Lugo's OPS makes it seem he was.

And yeah, clutch hitting is probably luck -- but his BABIP was among the lowest in the league compared to expected BABIP based on LD%, etc. So that's opposite luck.


Remember, he's employed by the Red Sox. Yikes.
   61. Valentine Posted: November 18, 2007 at 03:19 PM (#2618991)
Remember, he's employed by the Red Sox. Yikes.

I am actually encouraged by his nuanced analysis of Lugo's season. It is easy to get emotional and declaim, "He sucks!" Reality is usually not so certain, especially when looking ahead (and I would hope that is where the Red Sox FO keeps their focus).

Lugo was competent defensively (neither among the league leaders nor among the league trailers by plus/minus, a bit below average by Zone Rating and other metrics). His offensive shortfall was driven by a 40-point drop in batting average, primarily resulting from a poor showing in BABIP. And while I doubt it has any predictive value, he did hit well (or at least better) with RISP this year.

He was pretty bad in 2007, but I'm still hopeful that 2008 will be closer to his career norms. Actually I'm hopeful that Lowrie will take over soon, but that's another discussion. :-)
   62. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: November 18, 2007 at 03:23 PM (#2618994)

Remember, he's employed by the Red Sox. Yikes.


I'd be more concerned if he said Lugo sucked, because then it would be obvious that the Red sox can't control their own employees.
   63. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: November 18, 2007 at 03:57 PM (#2619004)
Lugo may not suck, but he's a weak link in the lineup. It's difficult to win 1 year in a row. Harder to win the year after. They may get by with him, may not. But it looks certain that they're going to have to start the season with him. Under what circumstance would any other team take him, with his salary, over any other warm body?
   64. JB H Posted: November 18, 2007 at 06:14 PM (#2619069)
I don't really see what's wrong with Eric Van's analysis. He says that Lugo is underrated by OPS, which is obviously true for a pretty good defensive SS who can run fast. He says Lugo's absolute value wasn't that low, which I believe since Eric keeps track of clutch stuff.

Obviously people are dismissive of the clutch value stuff because there's not much predictive value to it, but I think people should be similarly dismissive of one year batting lines in the face of PrOPS/LD%/whatever analysis
   65. Darren Posted: November 18, 2007 at 07:01 PM (#2619098)
I am actually encouraged by his nuanced analysis of Lugo's season. It is easy to get emotional and declaim, "He sucks!" Reality is usually not so certain, especially when looking ahead (and I would hope that is where the Red Sox FO keeps their focus).


EMV has a lot invested in making Lugo look good because he projected him to be absolutely great. His post doesn't sound like nuanced analysis, it sounds like excuse-making to me.

He says that Lugo is underrated by OPS, which is obviously true for a pretty good defensive SS who can run fast. He says Lugo's absolute value wasn't that low, which I believe since Eric keeps track of clutch stuff.


Wasn't he on the low side of average on defense? Also, EMV goes beyond saying 'he wasn't THAT bad.' He says he was average. I have a really hard time believing that.
   66. JB H Posted: November 18, 2007 at 08:50 PM (#2619207)
BP has him 20 runs below average offensively. The PBP defense stuff seems to have him a few runs above average. He probably added a handful of runs on the bases. You're only left with about a dozen runs for him to have made up with clutch luck, which isn't all that much.
   67. Margo Adams FC Posted: November 18, 2007 at 09:07 PM (#2619220)
I've owned Lugo for years in fantasy, and he's always seemed like a very streaky hitter. Sox need to wait for that one great month (May? June?) or someone else's misfortune and then sell as high as possible. Because while I'm sure Julio will bounce back, I don't believe he will age gently. His top B-Ref comparable is, that's right, Mike Lansing.
   68. Valentine Posted: November 18, 2007 at 09:26 PM (#2619235)
Thanks for ruining my day! That was a name I had hoped to NEVER hear again.
   69. PJ Martinez Posted: November 18, 2007 at 11:13 PM (#2619292)
"His post doesn't sound like nuanced analysis, it sounds like excuse-making to me."

Except that Eric always look at the Sox through rose-colored, sabr-tinted glasses. And the only way he can claim Lugo is "average" is by comparing him to bench SS's as well as starters-- in other words, guys like Alex Cora (and worse, I suppose).

So I wouldn't call it excuse-making simply because he probably would have seen things this way no matter what he had said before. Eric has also made the case in the past that Casey Fossum would be "awesome" and that Jason Varitek is Babe Ruth when gets enough sleep, or something. He's a big believer in chopping up data into pretty small subsets and in clutch value, so you always have to approach his analysis with a lot of caveats.

I do wonder what kinds of analyses the Sox pay him for, though...
   70. Valentine Posted: November 19, 2007 at 04:16 AM (#2619540)
May I toss out a few numbers?

In 630 PA this year, Lugo put the first pitch into play 60 times (including 5 SH) for a .364 BA and .600 SLG.
He had 291 PA go through a 0-1 count, in which he hit .242/.283/.348
He had 279 PA go through a 1-0 count, in which he hit .202/.292/.293

The first is of mild interest because Lugo has swung at the first pitch less often over the last two years -- down from 26% to 30% in earlier lines to 22% last year and 20% this year. As with most hitters, he has hit pretty well when putting the first pitch into play. A quarter of his career home runs (18 HR in 552 PA) have come in this situation. Of course when the batter *fails* to put the first pitch into play, he is instantly in the hole. So unrestrained aggressiveness on the first pitch is ill-advised.

Except look at the next two lines (not a typo). It isn't surprising that he hits like crap after a first pitch strike. That's pretty common for hitters, and his .631 OPS following a 0-1 is almost identical to his 2004-2006 lines. It **is** surprising that he was even crappier following a 1-0 pitch. Over the past four seasons, his performance on this split:

2004 .332/.429/.458
2005 .335/.459/.427
2006 .315/.405/.503
2007 .202/.292/.293

Very odd....
   71. Darren Posted: November 19, 2007 at 04:33 AM (#2619556)
It **is** surprising that he was even crappier following a 1-0 pitch.


Yes, it's shocking. Getting ahead in the count is usually a huge advantage, as Lugo's 04-06 numbers show. Any guesses why this is the case? Is he just so incredibly feeble with the bat the pitchers have no fear when down in the count and can just lay the ball in there? I'm stumped.
   72. Valentine Posted: November 19, 2007 at 03:56 PM (#2619859)
My immediate guess would be "small sample fluke", except we're looking at a shortfall of over .100 points of batting average and thus 25-30 hits. The standard deviation on a ~300 PA sample is roughly 7 hits. If it was simply that Lugo's bat were feeble, you would expect to see deterioration in his first-pitch and 0-1 lines as well. Absolutely no hint of problems there. Neither has there been a dramatic shift in the balance between 0-1 and 1-0 counts. His contact rate is as strong as ever -- a pretty normal 85% -- so there's no real evidence of physical decline.

The most plausible explanation I can come up with (I hesitate to dignify it as a "guess") is that he is changing his "approach" when he gets ahead in the count. Maybe he's getting overly aggressive, hacking at anything? Maybe he's overly passive, taking pitches that he should hammer? Maybe he's cutting down on his swing when he should be looking to drive the ball? Somebody ought to pass this statistical observation to Magadan; he might be able to make something out of it.

Whatever the issue, I feel much more confident that he will improve next year.

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