Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ivan Rodriguez to the Yankees

ESPNews is reporting that Ivan Rodriguez has been traded to the Yankees in return for Kyle Farnsworth. Of course, they failed to elaborate on the trade so that they could continue their non-stop talk about Brett Favre. More later, but if it is only Farnsworth, I will be very disappointed.

Farnsworth is making $5.5 million, compared to Pudge's $13 million. It's entirely possible this is a salary dump, making up for lost expected playoff revenues. Both are free agents after the season. I honestly do not know if Farnsworth projects to be a type A or B free agent. What I do know is that he upgrades the bullpen.

Update: After seeing some reaction, it's amazing how overrated Pudge is.

Update (6:53 p.m.): I just ran the numbers for relievers. Before adjusting for injuries, Kyle Farnsworth is currently below the Type B threshold. Undoubtedly, he will move into the B range with a few saves, but I don't see him cracking the Type A barrier without a dominant two months. Note that wins count twice in reliever rankings, with both winning percentage and Wins+Saves being statistics. A 3-0, 10 save stint with the Tigers could be the difference between one and two draft picks for Farnsworth after the season.

Organizational Starters - July 29

Detroit- Brandon Inge
Toledo- Dane Sardinha
Erie- Dusty Ryan
Lakeland- James Skelton
Oneonta- Joe Bowen
GCL- Keith Hernandez
DSL- Julio Rodriguez, Ricardo Olivo
VSL- Adolfo Reina

Detroit- Miguel Cabrera
Toledo- Jeff Larish
Erie- Ryan Roberson
Lakeland- Ryan Strieby
Oneonta- Wade Lamont
GCL- Jordan Lennerton
DSL- Juaner Aguasvivas, Juaner Aguasvivas
VSL- Raul Leiva

Detroit- Placido Polanco
Toledo- Michael Hollimon
Erie- William Rhymes
Lakeland- Louis Ott
Oneonta- Mike Gosse
GCL- Adrian Carrithers
DSL- Alexander Nunez, Santos Heredia
VSL- Ronald Torrealba

Detroit- Carlos Guillen
Toledo- Kody Kirkland
Erie- Santo De Leon
Lakeland- Michael Bertram
Oneonta- Brian Pounds
GCL- Brett Anderson
DSL- Elvin Soto, Elvin Soto
VSL- Francisco Martinez

Detroit- Edgar Renteria
Toledo- Danny Worth
Erie- Caonabo Cosme
Lakeland- Gustavo Nunez
Oneonta- Brandon Douglas
GCL- Luis Palacios
DSL- Samuel Ortiz, Samuel Ortiz
VSL- Hernan Perez

Detroit- Matt Joyce
Toledo- Freddy Guzman
Erie- Wilkin Ramirez
Lakeland- Brandon Timm
Oneonta- Brent Wyatt
GCL- Chao Ting-Tang
DSL- Samir Rijo, Samir Rijo
VSL- Ivan Espinoza

Detroit- Curtis Granderson
Toledo- Clete Thomas
Erie- Casper Wells
Lakeland- Justin Justice
Oneonta- Keith Stein
GCL- Luis Salas
DSL- Luis Castillo, Robinson Figueroa
VSL- Wondy De Los Santos

Detroit- Magglio Ordonez
Toledo- Brent Clevlen
Erie- Deik Scram
Lakeland- Brennan Boesch
Oneonta- Russell Parrott
GCL- Alexis Espinoza
DSL- Robinson Figueroa, Victor Dionicio
VSL- Avisail Garcia

Detroit- Gary Sheffield
Toledo- Timo Perez
Erie- Jeff Frazier
Lakeland- Jeramy Laster
Oneonta- Billy Nowlin
GCL- D'Andre Vaughn
DSL- Raynolds Guzman, Ernesto Marte
VSL- Alexander Moreno

Detroit- Armando Galarraga
Toledo- Chris Lambert
Erie- Lauren Gagnier
Lakeland- Jonah Nickerson
Oneonta- David Stokes
GCL- Victor Larez
DSL- Robert Diaz, Ramon Lebron
VSL- Gino Aguirre

edit: I should have prefaced this. These are yesterday's starters. I want to do this from time to time, especially because I am losing track of promotions. My apologies for not being clear.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Wow... just... Wow

I've been out of town the past couple of days, so I will leave any analysis of the Jones/Rodney move or anything that has happened in the past two games to other people, but I wanted to take this opportunity to knock somebody who is a legend in his own mind down a peg.

Hal McCoy is a baseball writer who covers the Reds for the Dayton Daily News. There was an "Ask Hal" section in Sunday's paper, where he answered people's questions. To put it mildly, I was really taken aback by his tone. You could say this post will be similar in a sense to a FireJoeMorgan post, but I felt it was the best way to point out what is wrong here.

Hal McCoy, the hall-of-fame baseball writer for the Dayton Daily News, knows a thing or two about America's pastime. If you want to tap into that knowledge, send an e-mail to For more Ask Hal, log on to

That knowledge is dubious at best, but we'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Q Is Dusty Baker that ashamed of this team so he sends Billy Hatcher out with the lineup card? — Dave, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek

A So the one game you attended in the last five years happened to be the day Hatcher took out the card? If you paid attention, you would see Baker takes the card out many times. If the Reds lose that night, a different coach takes out the card the next game. If they win, that same coach takes out the card the next night. He continues until he loses and then it passes on to somebody else. It's the same thing as players/manager/coaches never stepping on a foul line when they cross it. Superstition, my friend, superstition.

Is this necessary? Seriously, the first two sentences are straight attacks on the person who took the time to send him a question! I just don't see the point of insulting a reader. If anybody can think of one, let me know

Q How valuable are off days like Thursday after a day game on Wednesday, followed by a night game? — Rob, St. Louis

A For writers, not so good. It's mostly catching up on the honey-do list, plus we never have a true day off — off-day stories to write, blogs to write. Moan, moan, moan. The players, though, relish them. Golf to be played, fishing to be done. As for the team, mostly it benefits the bullpen, which is always overworked. Just a day or two off and the arm bounces back, if it isn't ready to fall off.

Oh you poor thing. If you hate your job so much, I'm sure there are millions of other people out there who would love to be paid to watch baseball games.

Q Just because Bronson Arroyo is finally paying attention, what gives him the nerve to say, "Honestly, if they trade me, they're saying, 'That's it, we're not going to build a winning team here'? " The guy pitches like a total jerk at the beginning of the season by not preparing in the off-season, doesn't take his job seriously, embarrasses himself, his teammates, and the oldest professional baseball organization with his debacle in Toronto, and now has the gall to make this statement and plead to stay in Cincinnati? — James, Clayton

A Man, you must really hate his singing. Who said he hasn't paid attention, wasn't prepared, doesn't take his job seriously? I'd dispute all three charges. Arroyo is a guy who says what he thinks, no words barred. Ask him a question, he empties his brain. Everybody ripped him when he said how much he loves Boston and how he'd like to go back and now that he says he wants to stay in Cincinnati he becomes a leper. And since his 10 runs in one inning in Toronto, he is 5-0. I'm sure Dusty Baker would take one inning like that if he wins five in a row every time afterward.

Once again, it does not appear as if tact is McCoy's strong suit.

Q Any chance of getting Eric Bedard from Seattle now that he is on the DL? Homer Bailey, Joey Votto and Ken Griffey Jr.? Getting Bedard now would ensure a contending club next year. — Michael, Dallas

A Are you advocating trading Bailey, Votto and Griffey for Bedard? Wow, your trade might eventually go down as one of the worst in Reds history. I wouldn't trade Bailey for Bedard straight-up. Or Votto. And for the millionth time, Griffey can't be traded without his permission and he doesn't want to be traded. The Reds are well-stocked in young starters and adding one doesn't guarantee anything — even CC Sabathia to Milwaukee.

Okay, this is a stupid trade offer, but once again, there has to be a more respectful and tactful way to go about shooting this trade down. "For the millionth time?"

Am I wrong in thinking this is over the line? For a group of people that has been attacking bloggers for a negative and disrespectful tone, I find this to be incredibly hypocritical to let McCoy get away with this type of writing. People in southwest Ohio adore McCoy, which is a shame, because I suspect that feeling isn't mutual.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

One More Elias Post

I have found a simple approximation for the disabled list adjustment that works for most players. Some players (Shawn Riggans of the Rays for example) with more time on the DL than on an active roster will tend to throw off the system, but the approximation works fairly well. Ivan Rodriguez now has an approximate score of 78.571, ranking fifth among catchers. Kenji Johjima's 73.850 is the cutoff between Type A and Type B free agents. I am still very confident that Rodriguez will be a Type A free agent after the season. That may change, though, if he is traded to the National League and he is compared to a different set of catchers.

I have run numbers for shortstops, and Edgar Renteria has come out with a score of 78.261. Remember, second base, shortstop and third base are all scored separately and then combined with the top 20 percent of scores from the three positions being assigned Type A status. I have not run the numbers for 2B and 3B, but looking at past history, a score of 75 or above will typically be good for Type A status in this group. Barring some weird distribution of scores in 2B and 3B, I would expect Edgar Renteria to be a Type A free agent this offseason. Believe it or not, the change in Renteria's score is probably less dependent on his performance from here to the end of the season than it is on other teams' roster decisions. If players like Ben Zobrist, Luis Hernandez, Michael Hollimon, Reid Brignac, and Jorge Valendia get September call ups and crack the rankings, Renteria's score will go up. All this said, if the Renteria to the Dodgers rumors have any validity, I have a hard time seeing him grade this highly against shortstops in the Senior Circuit.

Now, Edgar Renteria has an option on his contract, but he can still be offered arbitration. He is kind of a unique case. Most players with an option on their contract that is declined will not be offered arbitration because a team is already on the hook the buyout of the option. Take Renteria for example:

He is making $9,000,000 this year, with an $11,000,000 options for next year that will cost $3,000,000 if declined. If the option is declined, but arbitration is offered and accepted, the team would be on the hook for a minimum of $10,200,000 for next year. For that reason, you rarely see players with a declined option offered arbitration.

But Renteria is a unique case. According to Cot's Contracts, part of the terms of Renteria's trade to Atlanta is that Boston is now on the hook for the $3,000,000 buyout. This makes a world of difference, as the minimum amount the Tigers will pay Renteria during arbitration is $7.2M (65% of the option) as opposed to 93% of the option with the buyout in place. I actually think Renteria on a one year deal, albeit expensive, could be a worthwhile gamble, especially if somebody else takes the bait and nets the Tigers two top draft choices.

I'll try to keep updated on Renteria's status, but this could turn out well for the Tigers.

Update: I just found that the 80% rule does not apply to free agents in arbitration. This means there is no minimum to the amount Renteria or Rodriguez could get through the arbitration process. Rodriguez can be offered significantly less than $10.48M and Renteria less than $7.2M in the event that they accept arbitration.

I definitely believe that both players should be offered arbitration after the season.

Friday, July 25, 2008


What exactly would be the harm in Aquilino Lopez getting high leverage innings in relief?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

(Almost) How the Elias Sports Bureau Rankings Work

The Elias Sports Bureau rankings are used every year to determine free agent compensation. The formula was agreed upon by the Owners and Players Association in the 1981 Collective Bargaining agreement and outlined in a document called “A Statistical System for the Ranking of Players.” This formula has never been released to the public, and people, as a result, are very perplexed when they see the rankings come out. How, for example, can Alex Rodriguez be the sixth best infielder of 2006-2007, behind the likes of Michael Young, Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, and Mike Lowell?

I hope to answer questions like that in this post, as I try to explain exactly how to calculate the formula.

The first thing done is to establish the pool of players. This is seemingly mundane, but people were probably surprised to see Tony Giarratano included in last year's ratings, since he hadn't played since 2005. It appears as if Tony G made the rankings because he finished the season on the disabled list. The rankings appear to rank every player who ends the season on the active roster or disabled list of a team. The American League rankings include every player finishing the season on an American League team and the same for the National League.

A position must then be assigned to the player. This is determined by finding the position where the player played the most games in the past two years. The players are then grouped into the following positions

1B-2 (Also Includes National League pinch hitters and designated hitters)
DH-2 (American League only; also includes players who pinch hit or pinch run in most of their games, eg. J.J. Furmaniak)

If you are following at home, you should have position sets for each of the two leagues right now, and you should also be wondering about that number after each of the positions.

That number will represent the statistical set on which players at that position will be judged. These statistical sets came from This would have been impossible to figure out without those statistics available.

1. C: PA, BA, OBP, HR, RBI, FPCT*, Assists*
2. 1B, OF, DH: PA, BA, OBP, HR, RBI
3. 2B, 3B, SS: PA, BA, OBP, HR, RBI, FPCT*, Total Chances*
4. SP: Total Games (Games Started + 0.5*Games Relieved), IP, Wins, Winning Pct., ERA, K's
5. RP: Total Games (Games Relieved +2*Games Started), IP**, Wins+Saves, IP/H, K/BB, ERA

*Defensive statistics are only accumulated at the player's designated position.
**Innings Pitched are given just 75% of the weight of the other relief categories.

Players are then ranked in each of those statistics within their position, based on their totals over the last two years. The leader of each category gets N-1 points, while the last place finisher gets 0 points, where N is the amount of players in the category. As an example, I am going to assign Elias Rankings to Willie Mays, Barry Bonds, Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, and Babe Ruth based on their career numbers. Here is how they rank, relative to eachother:

Babe Ruth 4 2 2 3 2
Willie Mays 3 4 4 4 4
Barry Bonds 2 5 3 1 3
Ted Williams 5 1 1 5 5
Hank Aaron 1 3 5 2 1

Now, here are the points they accumulated in each statistic:

Babe Ruth 1 3 3 2 3
Willie Mays 2 1 1 1 1
Barry Bonds 3 0 2 4 2
Ted Williams 0 4 4 0 0
Hank Aaron 4 2 0 3 4

Out of a possible 20 points, Ruth earned 12, Mays earned 6, Bonds earned 11, Williams netted 8, while Aaron ended up with 13. This means their Elias Rankings would be:

Hank Aaron: 65.000
Babe Ruth: 60.000
Barry Bonds: 55.000
Ted Williams: 40.000
Willie Mays: 30.000

There are a couple of things to notice. First, your Elias Rating is dependent on the people you are being ranked against. Bobby Kielty had a score of 31.646 last year, but he was in no way better than Willie Mays. This is because Mays has been compared to the all time greats, while Kielty was compared to outfielders, designated hitters, and first basemen who finished last season on an American League team. While that is an extreme example, it illustrates the point that a player can have an inflated Elias Ranking when players at his position in his league are particularly weak in a given season. Second, there is no boost for blowing out a category. I've already alluded to Alex Rodriguez last season, but he led all thirdbasemen in home runs over the 2006-2007 stretch. Even if he had hit 20 less home runs, his ranking wouldn't have changed. He still gets just one more point than the second place finisher. This is probably the biggest flaw of the system, with the use of fielding percentage being in close contention.

So the players at each position in each league are ranked in those categories. That is seemingly, simple, but there are plenty of questions to be asked. Looking at rate stats such as batting average and on base percentage, these are typically rounded when presented. I have learned that no stats are rounded in these rankings. While on TV, .3001 and .2999 both come out to .300 hitters, the .3001 hitter will finish above the .2999 hitter in the statistic. When players tie, they share the points in a category.

Back to the process, once each player gets a score, they are grouped together with the other positions in their group. For example, the shortstops, thirdbasemen, and secondbasemen are grouped together. The top 20% of players in each group are Type A free agents, while the next 20% are Type B free agents.

That brings us to the one thing I am stuck on. Players get an adjustment in their counting stats for time missed on the disabled list. I have thus far been unable to figure out how this is accounted for. If anybody wants to take a shot at that, please let me know and I'll send you the numbers I have. As soon as the disabled list adjustment is quantified, we should be able to figure out this formula.

I wanted to give thanks to Tim Dierkes of, Bill Ferris of, and Murray Chass of who each helped me to crack this mystery.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Pudge Will Be a Type A Free Agent

I'm about 99% of the way through figuring out the Elias rankings for catchers (I will post what I have done as soon as I can fully emulate them). While I don't have the numbers exactly right, I have been able to get last year's catchers in order of their rank.

Applying my formula to this upcoming class, here is how I am projecting the Elias Sports Bureau would rank the American League Catchers if the season ended yesterday.

Victor Martinez 93.878
Jorge Posada 86.939
Joe Mauer 84.082
A.J. Pierzynski 77.959
Ivan Rodriguez 77.959
Jason Varitek 76.327
Kenji Johjima 72.245
Dioner Navarro 70.204
Ramon Hernandez 70.204
Kurt Suzuki 67.755
Miguel Olivo 62.041
Gregg Zaun 62.449
John Buck 59.592
Rod Barajas 60.816
Mike Redmond 60.000
Gerald Laird
Mike Napoli 59.184
Kelly Shoppach 55.918
Jarrod Saltalamacchia 53.061
Jamie Burke 49.796
Jeff Mathis 45.306
Jose Molina 42.041
Rob Bowen 37.959
Jeff Clement 36.327
Jason LaRue 34.286
Curtis Thigpen 32.245
Toby Hall 28.163
Kevin Cash 26.939
Max Ramirez 25.714
Shawn Riggans 25.306
Guillermo Quiroz 23.673
Chad Moeller 22.041
Taylor Teagarden 17.143
Sal Fasano 14.286
Ryan Budde 3.673
Vance Wilson 0.000

The top 7 would qualify as Type A players, while the next 7 are Type B. Martinez and Posada are in the midst of injury plagued seasons, while guys trailing Rodriguez such as Jason Varitek and Kenji Johjima are struggling this year. As a result, I am fairly confident in saying that Ivan Rodriguez will be a class A player this offseason. This means the Tigers would get a sandwich pick and a first/second round pick if he signs with another team after being offered arbitration.

After I can figure out the formula to a tee, I will post the methodology and hopefully the compensation status of other Tigers' free agents.

Brian Runge is a Terrible Umpire

I was away from a computer for most of the weekend, so I'm a bit late to the party.

Of the Orioles series, I was only able to watch the last few innings of Saturday's game, so I was able to see "the call," but it was one of those calls that was so bad, it can only raise suspicions. Then yesterday, Runge tried to rob Marcus Thames of a homerun, and subsequently rob the Tigers of their second go-ahead run in as many days before 2007 Tigers nemesis Greg Gibson corrected the call. I listened to yesterday's game on the radio, and the Orioles' broadcasters were readily willing to admit both calls should have gone in the Tigers favor.

Saturday's game was unacceptable on so many levels. This isn't the difference between a strikeout and a 2-2 count; this was a go-ahead run in extra innings. Often times, due to the nature of having to make a call in a split second, an umpire will make the wrong call as a result of anticipation. This happens frequently when a fielder is slow to get a tag down and the umpire is thinking ahead of time the player will be out. This could not have possibly been the case Saturday. While it was strong throw, it was to the first base side and it was going to take a great tag by Ramon Hernandez to truly retire Polanco.

While I want to call out Runge for corruption, a look at Saturday night's tape reveals how he missed the call: he was not in position to make the correct call. In my 9+ years of umpiring roughly 100 youth games per year, I gained a lot of experience making bang-bang calls at home plate. I have always found that I was in position for calls at home being on the third base side of home plate. From this angle, I was always able to see when the runner touches home plate and if it is before the tag is applied. From the first base line, you risk being blocked out by the catcher, and you have a difficult time seeing when the runner touches home plate and when the tag is applied. I have no idea what they teach in the Major Leagues, but I can tell you that it makes a big difference. Where was Runge?

Runge was in about the only place in the park where you could not have properly seen that Placido Polanco touched home plate and scored the go-ahead run before being tagged. While his blown call Sunday raised suspicion of corruption, it was actually poor mechanics that led to Saturday's botched call.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Magglio's Back and Decision Time for Pudge

Clete Out; Magglio Returns
There was going to be a roster crunch this week, and some undeserving player was eventually going to be sent down either for Magglio's return or the addition of a fifth starter. Clete Thomas heads to Toledo after performing admirably once again in his time with the Tigers. Unfortunately, there are several outfielders fighting for time, and it probably makes sense to give Clete some regular time with the Hens. The good news here is that Magglio Ordonez comes back and joins the lineup. While Matt Joyce has done very well in his absense, this is a nice boost to the lineup as we get closer and closer to crunch time. Hopefully Gary Sheffield, and not Matt Joyce, is the guy who loses the most playing time as a result of this.

Pudge to the Marlins
There is increasing talk that the Marlins have interest in Pudge. He's a free agent after the year, so it would make sense for the Tigers to at least look into finding a temporary home for him if the playoffs become less likely, right?

Not necessarily. Let's take a look at what will happen upon his free agency. The first decision made will be whether or not to offer him arbitration. What will go into this decision?
  • First, the cost of the contract. The risk of offering arbitration is the chance that the player accepts, and is guaranteed a one year deal that is 80% of the current year's salary. Pudge is making $13 million this year, and stands to get a $0.1 million bonus for an inevitable gold glove. 80% of $13.1 million means a contract will be the minimum of $10.48 million.
  • The benefit of offering arbitration is undoubtedly the draft compensation. A "Type A" player will get a sandwich round pick in addition to a first or second round pick. The round of the pick depends on the signing team: if they have a pick between 1-15, you will get the second round pick while you will recieve their first round pick if they are drafting between 16-30. A "Type B" player will only get the sandwich round pick. Where will Pudge fall? It's really hard to tell. I'm going to guess that he is right on the border between A and B, based purely on the fact that he was the lowest rated A catcher last year and his counting stats have declined a bit. Deciphering the Elias rankings will probably take a study of their own. Expect that in the coming weeks.
  • You may remember when the Tigers originally signed Pudge after the Marlins declined to offer him arbitration. Because of this, the Marlins were not allowed to negotiate with him until May 1. This rule no longer exists, so a player can be denied arbitration and still re-sign with his original team.
So, if you are the Tigers what do you do? If they offer arbitration, Pudge is guaranteed $10.5 million next year if he chooses to accept it. If he declines arbitration and signs elsewhere, the Tigers get one or maybe two draft picks. If they decline to offer him arbitration, he hits the open market and will probably be looking for a multi-year deal. So would you rather have Pudge at one year, $10.5M with draft picks if he declines or would you rather get him at three years, $20M with no draft picks if he signs elsewhere. At this point, I'd hold onto him at offer arbitration after the year. I'm going to try to work backwards and figure out the Elias Rankings and see where our free agents will rank.

Shortstop Injuries
Those who follow the minors may have noticed that Danny Worth, Cale Iorg, and Audy Ciriaco have all been put on the DL this week. Worth's injury has been reported as a shoulder/back problem, while Ciriaco's is a mild quadriceps strain. I found those in press releases from the team, and got information on Iorg's return from Tigstown. It's a paid article, so I'm not comfortable posting the information on Iorg's injury, but it doesn't appear to be serious.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cool Play

This isn't related at all to the Tigers, but I witnessed one of the most exciting and unique plays in baseball this weekend.

I "came out of retirement" to umpire a youth baseball tournament this weekend. During the bottom of the 7th (last) inning of a 7th-8th grade game, the home team was down one run. They eventually got that run home and loaded the bases with nobody out. The next kid struck out, while the following kid popped out. The game went from almost a sure home victory (winning run at third, nobody out) to a Tigers-style "Let's head to extras and lose there," scenario. Then, the shocking:

Noticing that the catcher had stepped a few feet out in front of home plate to give signals to the fielders, the third base coach sends the runner home from third, and he makes it standing up before the defense even knew what hit them. It was a walk-off steal of home! I don't believe I have ever seen anything like that happen. Obviously, the visiting coach came out and argued that the ball should have been dead, because his third-baseman (the guy who caught the pop-up on the previous play) called time. More on this in the next paragraph, but we did not grant him time, so the point was moot. It was a shame this was the best he could muster up, because I really wanted to listen to what he had to say.

Now for my rules lecture:

The ball is always live, unless the umpire grants time. I player just cannot call time willy-nilly. There are set situations where the umpire is allowed to grant a player or team time. Throwing the ball back to the pitcher is not one of them. Despite tons of attempts to the contrary, the only levels where I have seen rules like this in place are coach-pitch and T-Ball, where the ball is not being thrown back to the defensive team's pitcher. The ball in this case was live as could be, and it's a good thing: I can now say I've seen the winning run score on a stolen base.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Offseason Transactions/Eligibilities

This list will continue to be updated throughout the course of the offseason, with a log of transactions. Service time is displayed as (yy.ddd), and taken from the Tigers' website when applicable.

Open 40-Man Roster Spots: 2

Filed for Free Agency: Players who have already filed for Major League free agency.
11/3: Edgar Renteria (12.143) (Signed: San Francisco)
11/3: Kyle Farnsworth (9.100) (Signed: Kansas City)
10/30: Freddy Garcia (9.013) (Signed: New York Mets)
10/31: Vance Wilson (8.028) (Signed: Kansas City)
11/3: Casey Fossum (6.119) (Signed: New York Mets)
11/5:Kenny Rogers (20.000) (Retired? Still not official)

Refused Assignments: Players who were removed from the 40 man roster for at least the second time in their career can declare free agency after the season if they are no longer on the 40 man roster.

Francis Beltran (San Francisco)
Francisco Cruceta (Korea)
Gary Glover (Washington)
Dane Sardinha (Re-signed)

Arbitration Eligible: Players currently on the 40-man roster and DL not under contract for 2009 with at least three years of service and less than six years of service. I am assuming the "Super Two" cutoff will be 2 years, 128 days.

Justin Verlander (3.002)^

Avoided Arbitration:
Fernando Rodney (5.137): 1/$2,700,000
Bobby Seay (4.118): 1/$1,300,000
Marcus Thames (4.108): 1/$2,275,000
Ramon Santiago (4.095): 1/$825,000
Gerald Larid (4.077): 1/$2,800,000
Edwin Jackson (3.070): 1/$2,00,000
Joel Zumaya (3.000): 1/$735,000

Aquilino Lopez

Minor League Free Agents: Players not previously listed are eligible to declare for free agency if they spent six years (at least 30 days) on a professional roster prior to 2008 and aren't on a 40 man roster. The following players have declared free agency.

Yorman Bazardo (Philadelphia)
Danny Christensen (Re-signed)
Luis Gil
Jeremy Johnson (Houston)
Blaine Neal (Philadelphia)
Ian Ostlund (St. Louis)
Orlando Perdomo

Max St. Pierre (Re-signed)

Erick Almonte (Chicago Cubs)
Caonabo Cosme
Kody Kirkland
Derek Wathan

Pedro Cotto
Freddy Guzman (Seattle)
Timo Perez (Re-Signed)

Released: The following players have been released from the organization.
Dario Carvajal
Angel Castro (Signed by Chicago Cubs)
Kelvin Cedano
P.J. Finigan
Hayden Lackey
Santo Mieses
Kyle Pearson
Derek Witt
Danny Zell

Brandon Harrigan

Carlos Ramirez

Luis Arlet
Justin Justice
Cory Middleton
Hayden Parrott
Gary Sheffield

Eddie Bonine
Macay McBride

Added to 40-man Roster:
Alfredo Figaro
Guillermo Moscoso
Wilkin Ramirez
Zach Simons
Casper Wells

Drafted in Rule 5:

Kyle Bloom (Pittsburgh)

Returned After Rule 5:
Kyle Bloom (Pittsburgh)

Lost on Waivers:
Virgil Vasquez (Boston/San Diego/Pittsburgh)

Lost in Rule 5:
James Skelton (Arizona)

Guillermo Moscoso (Texas)
Carlos Melo (Texas)
Matt Joyce (Tampa Bay)
Rudy Darrow (Atlanta)

Gerald Laird (Texas)
Edwin Jackson (Tampa Bay)
Josh Anderson (Atlanta)

Minor League Signings:
The following players have been signed as minor league free agents. This includes players who were re-signed upon declaring minor league free agency. Amateur international free agents aren't included.

Ron Chiavacci
Danny Christensen
Jon Huber
Mike LaLuna
Chad Linder
Ruddy Lugo
Jason Miller
Travis Phelps
Kris Regas
Nick Regilio
Juan Rincon
Pat Stanley
Scott Williamson

Charlie Lisk
Dane Sardinha
Max St. Pierre

Yurendell de Caster
Don Kelly

Alexis Gomez
Bronson Sardinha
Beau Torbert

Free Agents Signed:
Adam Everett: 1/$1,000,000
Matt Treanor: 1/$750,000

Brandon Lyon: 1/$4,250,00

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Organizational Age+ Team

Age+ is a statistic I invented this week. It's so simple that I'm pretty sure somebody else has invented it at some point. It's a measure of how old a player is in relation to their level. What I do is take the league average age for the league the player is in and divide it by the player's age on July 1. I multiply by 1000 to get a nice round number, and it suddenly looks similar to OPS+. If a player has played at multiple levels, their league average age is a weighted average of each level they've played in. A value above 1000 means the player is younger than the level, while a value below 1000 shows that the player is older than his competition. Before showing the results, I want to show the average ages for each league in the Tigers' system to note what these numbers mean:

American League: 29.2, 28.7
International League: 27.4, 27.4
Eastern League: 24.6, 24.7
Florida State League: 23, 23.3
Midwest League: 21.7, 21.7
New York Penn League: 21.5, 21.4
Gulf Coast League: 19.7, 20.6

The first number after each league is the average age of batters in the league, while the average age of pitchers follows. The most notable gap to me is the difference of almost three years between AAA and AA. When looking at prospects, our intuition tells us that if one player is a year older and a year ahead, they have roughly the same age relative to level. The three year jump between AA and AAA may make us rethink that assumption. While the level may be regarded as similar on a talent level, AA does prove to be the end of the road for many players as they suddenly have to compete for jobs with AAA veterans. For this reason, a player who succesfully moves up from Erie to Toledo will likely stand out a little bit more. We are seeing this with several players who were at roughly the league average age last year in Erie and are now part of a young Toledo/Detroit core. The other surprising result is the small difference between the Midwest League and New York Penn League. This undoubtedly has to do with the fact that many top prospects out of high school are pushed to full season ball, thus skipping shortseason A ball. Make no mistake: the Midwest League certainly has more talent and is a more difficult league. Young players in AAA and the Majors will certainly be favored in this, as they should be. These are the guys who have passed the tests in a timely manner. I should also point out that I did not have DSL and VSL average ages, so those players have been left out of this analysis. Bear in mind that actual production is not factored into this equation at all.

Now that we have gone over that, I will present the All Age+ Team:

C-Joseph Bowen 1041
1B-Miguel Cabrera 1158
2B-Michael Hollimon 1059
3B-Brett Anderson 1105
SS-Danny Worth 1081
LF-Wilkin Ramirez 1060
CF-Clete Thomas 1144
RF-Matt Joyce 1167
DH-Brent Clevlen 1116

C-Dusty Ryan 1032
CI-Jeff Larish 1075
IF-Max Leon 1061
OF-Hayden Parrott 1068

Starting Rotation:
SP-Rick Porcello 1194
SP-Yorman Bazardo 1145
SP-Justin Verlander 1130
SP-Jade Todd 1127
SP-Mauricio Robles 1123

Joel Zumaya 1158
Richard Zumaya 1105
Zach Miner 1084
Freddy Dolsi 1069

Extra Starters in the bullpen:
Jeremy Bonderman 1116
Matt Hoffman 1100
Brandon Hamilton 1099

Did I mention performance didn't matter? That's about the only way you will see the 2008 version of Yorman Bazardo on any list with Rick Porcello. In the case of Hollimon, he is the only 2B in the organization who is actually younger than his competition. This is a far cry from last year when he was a man among boys in Erie. This just goes to show the difference between a 26 year old in AAA and a 25 year old in AA. Not many people may have heard of Brett Anderson: this year's 10th round pick who has yet to turn 18.

As for players who you may want to think twice about before getting too excited about their performance, here is the Lowest Age+ Team?

C-Ivan Rodriguez 798
1B-Fernando Seguignol 819
2B-Aldin Carrithers 834
3B-Carlos Guillen 891
SS-Brent Dlugach 778
LF-Timo Perez 825
CF-Freddy Guzman 961
RF-Magglio Ordonez 848
DH-Caonabo Cosme 857

C-Keith Hernandez 825
CI-Jordan Lennerton 881
IF-Derek Wathan 869
OF-Pedro Cotto 888

Starting Pitchers:
SP-Kenny Rogers 657
SP-Jordan Tata 821
SP-Matt O'Brien 900
SP-Alfredo Figaro 905
SP-Ben Fritz 906

Relief Pitchers:
Todd Jones 713
Nick Martin 823
Orlando Perdomo 853
Aquilino Lopez 855
Luis Gil 878
Dario Carvajal 888
Rudy Darrow 890

Perdomo and Dlugach stand out because they are on rehabilitation assigments right now. Most of the other players on this list are either veterans on the big league club or non-prospect filler. Alfredo Figaro is a guy who has pitched very well in West Michigan, but may get a bit too much credit for doing so.

Overall, the Tigers have several more players below 1000 than above. This is probably the direct result of four straight college heavy drafts, which have littered every roster Erie and below with players older than their opponents. While this may sound like a poor strategy, without drafting mostly college players in 2005, the team probably wouldn't have gotten contributions from Clete Thomas, Jeff Larish, Michael Hollimon, and Matt Joyce this year. Each of those players, because they successfully made the jump to AAA, were able to transition from too old to younger than average. Unfortunately, the 2006 draft doesn't look to make as strong of a contribution to next year's team.

Today's Lineup; Gary Sheffield; Chris Lambert

Granderson CF
Polanco 2B
Guillen 3B
Cabrera DH
Joyce RF
Thames LF
Larish 1B
Rodriguez C
Santiago SS

I was a bit curious what today's lineup would look like. They wouldn't call up Larish only to have him ride pine. It looks like he is up to possibly spot Cabrera in the field. This does mean less playing time for Gary Sheffield, who may need the part time treatment to stay fresh. Santiago gets to play shortstop while Renteria is out with a mild hamstring strain.

Speaking of Sheffield, it's amazing how close to a nothing for nothing deal his acquisition from the Yankees has become. While Sheffield was fine through last July, he has had little to no production since that time. Unlike the players used to acquire Renteria, there has been little to no griping about the Yankees' package.
  • Humberto Sanchez, who was already suffering with arm problems before the trade, underwent Tommy John Surgery right away. He's finally showing up in the box scores in the Gulf Coast League on rehabillitation assignment.
  • Kevin Whelan would be the next logical centerpiece, but now he is out with elbow problems. I haven't found word that this is anything serious, but the fact remains that he hasn't progressed very far since the trade.
  • Anthony Claggett is sort of the last man standing. Turning 24 next week, he's in AA for the Yankees, and is the type of guy who will need some breaks to crack the big leagues.
Given the struggles of Sheffield, it's tough to classify the Tigers as winners of the deal, but so far it appears as if they are.

On a completely unrelated note, take a look at Chris Lambert's recent starts in Toledo:

Jul 7: 9 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 4 K
Jul 2: 5.1 IP, 5 ER, 10 H, 3 BB, 5 K
Jun 27: 6 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 8 K
Jun 22: 3.1 IP, 6 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 0 K
Jun 16: 6 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 3 BB, 6 K
Jun 11: 6 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 1 BB, 7 K

Jun 5: 3.2 IP, 4 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 3 K
May 31: 6 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 5 K
May 26: 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 8 H, 2 BB, 5 K

Now, consistency is the word most overused by baseball analysts in part because they don't define the time interval of consistency. Do they mean consistent from pitch to pitch? Consistent from month to month? Game to game? Year to year? That's an important distinction that is never made, which leads me to believe that it is just lazy analysis.

That said, Chris Lambert's last nine starts have been far from a model of consistency. With the exception of his June 11 and 16 starts, Lambert has alternated good-great starts with terrible outings. As a contender for the fifth starter spot after the All Star break, Lambert's inability to pitch consistently from start to start could be what keeps him from getting that shot.

Biggest Clutch Hits So Far

What have been the ten biggest clutch hits for the Tigers so far this year? By win probability added, according to fangraphs, these have been:

June 28, vs. Col, Miguel Cabrera 2B +0.653
June 26, vs. Stl, Gary Sheffield HR +0.468
April 14, vs. Min, Ivan Rodriguez 3B +0.442
June 12, vs. Chw, Miguel Cabrera HR +0.414
May 6, vs. Bos, Placido Polanco 1B +0.368
July 9, vs. Cle, Miguel Cabrera HR +0.361
June 26, vs. Stl, Clete Thomas BB +0.337
June 25, vs. Stl, Carlos Guillen HR +0.333
June 29, vs. Col, Dane Sardinha 3B +0.322
April 15, vs. Min, Miguel Cabrera HR +0.312
June 30, vs. Min, Matt Joyce 3B +0.310

The first thing that stands out to me is that all of these hits have come at home. Because you are automatically increasing your team's chances of winning to 1.000, it is easier to pad your WPA statistics with walk-offs, but despite that, the team seems to be coming up big in the clutch at home. Given all the flack he's gotten, I love seeing Miguel Cabrera's name on the list four times. Dane Sardinha's triple may end up being his only career extra base hit. It is one that won't be forgotten, as I was furious at the time that he was allowed to hit in that situation. Between Polanco's flair against Jon Papelbon and Clete Thomas's walk-off walk, we have two of the more unique endings to games this season, while Thomas would not have been in the opportunity to walk home the game winning run if Gary Sheffield hadn't tied the game in the ninth. There have been plenty of big at bats where the team has come through this year. Here's to there being more in the coming months.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Bonine Out

Two transactions happened right after today's game. The obvious one was the return of Brandon Inge, with Dane Sardinha being shipped out. I haven't seen the official release, but by my count Sardinha is out of options, and this would mean he was designated for assignment. This is probably moot. He'll clear waivers.

The other swap involves tonight's starter Eddie Bonine, with Jeff Larish getting the call from Toledo. Because of the all star break, a fifth starter isn't needed for almost two weeks. There is time to make a decison on the fifth starter. Is Aquilino Lopez stretched out? Will it be Zach Miner? What about the resurgent Virgil Vasquez, or teammate Chris Lambert? My first reaction was a tandem between Lopez and Casey Fossum until Lopez was completely ready to join the rotation.

Bonine wasn't ready for the bigs. His first three starts were masked by the fact that they were against Colorado (3.79 RPG on the road), San Diego (3.67 RPG at home), and Los Angeles (4.33 RPG on the road). In short, his two solid starts were against very weak opponents, and American League competition proved to be a bit much for him.

Jeff Larish returns, presumably as an extra left-handed bat. As Gary Sheffield has started to struggle of late, he may get a few of his starts against lefties, giving Jim Leyland all sorts of lineup options. Larish did play three games at third base in his stay at Toledo, but it is doublful he'd be asked to play there except in an emergency.

Perry Signs; More on Dontrelle

As has been reported all over the place today, first round pick Ryan Perry signed for slot money. The most significant part of today's releases would seem to be that Perry appears headed for a September call up. With this, the Tigers now have locked up each of their first 17 draft picks. 18th rounder Scott Weismann, a high school pitcher out of Massachusetts is the highest pick left unsigned. Of the players who have signed, here are their current assignments:

Ryan Perry: Lakeland (soon)
Cody Satterwhite: GCL Tigers
Scott Green: West Michigan
Brett Jacobsen: West Michigan
Alex Avila: West Michigan
Tyler Stohr: Oneonta
Jade Todd: GCL Tigers
Andy Dirks: West Michigan (DL)
Anthony Shawler: Oneonta
Robert Weinhardt: Lakeland
Brandon Douglas: Oneonta
Brett Anderson: GCL Tigers
Jered Gayhart: Unassigned
Tyler Conn: Oneonta
Thad Weber: West Michigan
Rob Waite: GCL Tigers
Alden Carrithers: GCL Tigers
Ben Guez: Oneonta
Adam Frost: GCL Tigers
Mike Gosse: Oneonta
Carmelo Jaime: Lakeland
Billy Nowlin: Oneonta
Brent Wyatt: Oneonta
David Stokes: Oneonta
Keith Stein: West Michigan
Tyler Weber: Oneonta
Trevor Feeney: Oneonta
Mark Sorensen: Oneonta (DL)
Jordan Lennerton: GCL Tigers
Bryan Pounds: Oneonta
Steve Gilman: Oneonta
Nick Cassavecchia: GCL Tigers
Jordan Workman: Oneonta

Note that the highest drafted pitcher to start most of his games so far this year has been Thad Weber (16). While plenty of the players drafted early were thought of by many as relievers, I wouldn't take this as a sign that they aren't going to be tried out as starters, but instead as a sign that the team is taking it easy on arms that may have been overworked in school.

The first thing I wanted to do on the Dontrelle front is apologize to those close to the situation who may have read or heard about the post from Monday. After looking back, the tone was a bit too strong for something that was clearly speculative. Assuming an ACL tear based on the information those on the outside have is going too far. I am glad they took him to get checked out, and who am I to say that they should have done it earlier when they may have in fact done so? In fact, upon reading up on patellar tendinitis, it appears as if cortisone shots are prescribed sort of as a last resort if other treatments haven't been working for several months. Perhaps he was diagnosed with this problem back in May and it went unreported.

That said, the way in which Willis has been handled can be described as peculiar. It's not known if a sore knee is affecting his loss of control, but from the outside it seems that his knee should be 100% before taking the mound again. If knee pain is standing in the way of him repeating his mechanics, it makes no sense to have him continue to regain his control while his body won't allow him to.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Patellar Tendinitis

DTW is reporting Willis has been diagnosed with patellar tendinitis. While it's a relief that something serious wasn't found, the fact that he is still having problems in his knee three months after the original injury is troubling. Here's what the Mayo Clinic says about the recovery of patellar tendinitis:

The conservative approach to treating patellar tendinitis aims to reduce the strain on your tendon and then gradually build up the tendon's strength. Your doctor may suggest several techniques to accomplish this, including:
  • Rest. Rest doesn't mean giving up all physical activity, but avoid running and jumping. Your doctor can suggest other ways of staying active without stressing your damaged patellar tendon. It's especially important to avoid any activity that gives you pain.
  • Adjusting your body mechanics. A physical therapist can help you learn to better distribute the force you exert during physical activity. For instance, an athlete who jumps frequently might learn proper takeoff and landing techniques.
  • Stretching your muscles. Inflexible muscles, especially inflexible thigh muscles (quadriceps), contribute to the strain on your patellar tendon.
  • Strengthening your tendon. A physical therapist may recommend specific exercises to strengthen your patellar tendon and the muscles around it. Exercises can also help strengthen your quadriceps. A specific type of exercise for strengthening the quadriceps called eccentric strengthening has been shown in some studies to help treat and prevent patellar tendinitis. This strengthening exercise involves lowering weight slowly after raising it, such as a seated knee extension exercise.
  • Patellar tendon strap. A strap that applies pressure to your patellar tendon can help to distribute force away from the tendon itself and direct it through the strap instead. This may help relieve pain.
  • Massage. Massaging the patellar tendon may help encourage tendon healing.

If you've recently developed patellar tendinitis, you can expect at least several weeks or months of conservative therapy before you'll be able to fully resume physical activity, including jumping. If you've re-injured your patellar tendon, the time for healing may be even longer.

And the causes?

  • Intensity and frequency of physical activity. Repeated jumping is most commonly associated with patellar tendinitis. Sudden increases in the intensity of physical activity or increases in frequency of activity also put added stress on the tendon.
  • Being overweight. Additionally, being overweight or obese increases the stress on the patellar tendon, and some research suggests that having a higher body mass index may increase the risk of patellar tendinitis.
  • Tight leg muscles. Reduced flexibility in your thigh muscles (quadriceps) and your hamstrings, which run up the back of your thighs, could increase the strain on your patellar tendon.
  • Misalignment of your leg. The way your leg bones line up could be off slightly, putting strain on your tendon.
  • Raised kneecap (patella alta). Your kneecap may be positioned higher up on your knee joint, causing increased strain on the patellar tendon.
  • Muscular imbalance. If some muscles in your legs are much stronger than others, the stronger muscles could pull harder on your patellar tendon. This uneven pull could cause tendinitis.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Dontrelle and His Knee

Since the moment he slipped off the mound that rainy night in Chicago, I have suspected that Dontrelle Willis has been suffering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Now that he is going back to Detroit to have his knee examined again, I'm going to finally do what I've been wanting to do for a while: show why I've thought that.

First, we need some background information on the ACL and what it does. Believe it or not, wikipedia is a great resource for the human anatomy. We need to know first that the ACL is a ligament, and ligaments attach two bones together. In the ACL's case, it connects from the back of the femur (thigh) to the front of the tibia (shin). It's main job is to provide stability to the knee by preventing the tibia from sliding to far forward. One of the more common mechanisms for an ACL injury is a hyperextension of the knee.

I have long felt that the hyperextension caused the ACL in Dontrelle's right knee to tear. Unfortunately, I am not privy to his medical information or any internal information the Tigers have. I also only have the lessons learned from a Mechanicl Engineering dgree and a semester's worth of human kinetics under my belt. I am pretty interested in this stuff, but I don't consider myself the expert of the people who made the decisions regarding Willis, nor do I have all of the information about what was done to check his knee. I just know things have been fishy.

For a normal pitcher, the ACL is not stressed during pitching. Plenty of players in several sports have played through an ACL injury. Tiger Woods comes to mind, after playing for a year with a torn ACL. While he won several tournaments on the bad knee, he also had meniscus damage and a double stress factor in his knee that developed, probably as a result of the loss of stability in the joint. Unfortunately, Dontrelle Willis is not a normal pitcher. His leg kick seems to act as a timing mechanism. If anything is off in that knee, his timing well be too. This would seem to explain his inability to repeat his mechanics over the past few months.

The initial diagnosis of a hyperextended knee was, in a word, fishy. The hyperextension is what happened on the mound, but I don't see how an MRI can confirm that when an instant replay simply shows that. At that point, I assumed it was something worse until Willis proved otherwise.

Then came May when Willis was recalled from his rehab assignment as a precaution. There are contradictions in the article:

...Willis said he didn't re-injure it and that it's just a precaution.

"They want to make sure everything's OK," Willis said, "because they don't want me to go out there and hurt myself further and be out for three months."

...The play in question came in the first at-bat of the game. Willis fielded a ball along the third-base line and fired a throw to first off his left leg. According to reports, he seemed to be favoring the leg as the game went on.

So he was favoring his knee the whole game, but didn't re-injure it? If you say so. The worrisome part, apart from the blatant dishonesty, is when the play happened: a ground ball down the third base side when Willis likely pivoted on his right knee, thereby making a play where an okay knee

Then came the return, when Willis could not control where the ball was going against Cleveland. His landing was timid, his mechanics were off, and I did notice a slight limp in between pitches. If the Tigers seriously thought his knee didn't warrant a test at this point, I don't know what to say.

Finally, I want to show the dagger: photographic proof of his tibia translating too far in the posterior direction, courtesy of Roger Dewitt:

That just looks hideous. The lower leg is clearly extending past the knee. I will be shocked if Willis doesn't have at least a torn ACL. This time, I will not believe the Regardless, he needs to be shut down for a long time.

If this had been properly diagnosed three months ago, what could have been prevented?
  • I have no idea the mental effect pitching on a bum knee must have on Willis. With a motion that is so dependent on timing, will he ever be able to rediscover his mechanics? Will he ever be able to trust his knee during the landing motion?
  • Further knee damage? Think about any household object. When one piece breaks, other pieces will break because the broken piece is not giving the support it once did. Pitching so long on a torn ACL would cause the knee to do things it shouldn't. Just look at the picture above and imagine what else could be wrong. The tibia seems to be rotated too far to the inside, could his MCL be in peril as well? I don't even want to know what effect this could be having on his meniscus.
  • The credibility of the Tigers' Medical staff has been tarnished, but more on that later.
Please, anybody with better credentials who wants to tear me apart. Feel free.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Golf + Politics = Unrelated

Condoleezza Rice was just in the booth at this week's PGA Tour tournament in Washington, DC. I am not going to pass judgement on her or anybody in the current administration, but according to the Washington Post, she said this during the interview:

As the CBS producers shushed the rest of us, Rice told Verne Lundquist how big a fan she was of his, and how she watches him every Sunday she can.

Now, that is a very diplomatic thing to say and sounds great, but there is one problem. Verne Lundquist rarely does golf (only the Majors), and is only announcing this week because the normal announcer, Jim Nantz, is missing this week for his father's funeral. Lundquist typically only does the Masters and PGA Championship.

In short, Rice was lying. She can't watch Verne every Sunday, because he's not on every Sunday. Politicians tend to do that, and if you can play Devil's advocate and scrutinize most things they say, you can make your informed decisions this year.

(Steps off soapbox)

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Is Jim Leyland using FIP?

Inspired mostly by Lee's discussion on FIP, I decided to check out how the Tigers' pitchers are doing in this regard. I noticed very quickly that Casey Fossum (2.64) was second on the team in FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), possibly suggesting that the early struggles were about of bad luck? Most people have been chastising the Tigers for sending out the likes of Denny Bautista (5.18), Francisco Cruceta (5.68), and Zach Miner (4.46) while Fossum remained on the team. Could it be that Jim Leyland is using a sabermetric tool like Fielding Independent Pitching to make roster decisions? Now, if I could figure out why team leader Clay Rapada is a Mud Hen...

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Link Dump and Other Things

I've wanted to plug this site for a while, but since it's not a Tigers' site I haven't had a reason to. Padres' Assistant GM Paul Depodesta, formerly the GM of the Los Angeles Dodgers, has a blog for interaction between the front office and fans. He had a post yesterday about his memories of Tiger Stadium. It's a nice reflection on his visits to Tiger Stadium. The rest of the site is pretty cool too, and I'd check it out. It's an insightful look to the inner workings of a baseball front office. Now if we could get somebody with the Tigers to do this...

Billfer noticed that the Tigers' pinch hitters have been pretty special this year. Then again, I don't know why he would need me to link his site, as anybody stopping by this blog has already read his.

Matt at Take 75 North took a look at Michael Hollimon at shortstop. I happen to agree that he needs to get as much time as possible there just in case he emerges as a cheap alternative to the flailing Edgar Renteria next season.

Pathetically linking myself, I didn't feel like giving this it's own post, but in response to somebody claiming that the Tigers should have drafted more first basemen as insurance for Cabrera, I went and checked at what position each of the league's firstbasemen were signed.

Curtis Granderson blogs about stealing bases.

Poor Chris Snyder... Ouch! Perhaps he should have used the Nutty Buddy.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Interleague Disparity

The American League dominated Interleague Play again this year, winning 149 of 261 games. Playing against the National League has no doubt fueled the Tigers each of the past three years, save for a few games one October. I have heard and read plenty of explanations as to why this disparity exists, but way too many of them tip toe around the true answer: The American League has better players.

You may remember the first two months of the season. Run scoring was way down in the American League. Guys simply weren't hitting. Lineups with nine professional hitters per lineup were being outscored by the lineups from the other league with eight professional hitters and a designated bunter. Through May 22, Jack Cust's .888 OPS was good for fifth in the American League. Something wasn't right. The prevailing sentiment was that the talent had finally shifted from the American League to the National League. Then the leagues started playing eachother.

American: 4.58, 4.47, 4.96
National: 4.45, 4.55, 4.02

Those are runs per game averages for each league. From left to right, this shows the total runs scored per game this year, the runs scored per game within the league, and the runs scored per game in interleague games. You can see that the American League has surged ahead in runs scored over the past month, but you can also see that more runs are being scored in games where neither team has the designated hitter. Then you have the fact that the American League has completely trounced the National League in Interleague play this year. The American League scored about half a run per game more against National League teams than they did against themselves, while the National League scored about half a run per game less. This seems to suggest that it is much easier to score runs against National League teams than American League teams. It also suggests that despite the offensive struggles of the first two months, the American League still has better hitters than the National League.

One possible reason I have been hearing a lot, especially on XM 175, is the designated hitter rule. The theory is that American League teams are better built for interleague play because they are putting a real hitter out to DH instead of a bench player. This would seem to make sense, and looking at the American League's DH splits against the National League's, you can see that American League DH's do indeed hit better.

American League: .248/.334/.419 (BA/OBP/SLG)
National League: .242/.314/.402

So, the American League seemingly has an advantage here, but did it help them in interleague play, when American League teams have to bench their designated hitter when visiting National League parks?

American League w/ DH: 5.13 runs per game
American League no DH: 4.80 runs per game
National League w/ DH: 4.25 runs per game
National League no DH: 3.80 runs per game

The American League teams scored .33 runs less per game during Interleague play in National League parks, while the National League scored .45 runs more per game in American League parks than at home. I'm not quite sure what to make of that other than the National League does benefit fairly significantly from the designated hitter, thereby suggesting that this probably doesn't have nearly as much of an effect on the American League dominance as superior talent.

While interleague play has it's flaws, one of it's main benefits is that we have an easier time comparing the two leagues. While National League apologists will try to come up with justification for why this is, we know the truth. American League teams simply have better hitters, better pitchers, and better fielders.

All numbers were gathered from, with the home/road interleague splits derived from the game logs.