Saturday, January 24, 2009

Brandon Lyon

After the rumors have been swirling since the beginning of free agency, the Tigers appear to have finally signed Brandon Lyon.

I'm not quite sure what to make of this. Lee points out that Lyon had several clean outings, while Billfer points out that he was very unlucky on balls in play, specifically ground balls.

The fact that he is coming from the NL West scares me. Until the addition of Manny Ramirez, the offenses in that division were dreadful across the board. He was getting disproportionate playing time against offensive juggernauts Colorado, San Diego, San Francisco, and the pre-Manny Dodgers. How does this play out in his splits?

vs. NL West: 133 PA, .291/.316/.425
vs. Others: 132 PA, .311/.343/.492
vs. NL West minus Dodgers: 99 PA, .277/.303/.372

The splits weren't as drastic as I had figured (I looked them up after writing the preceding paragraph). Still, this is something to be weary about heading into this season. Moving from the National League to the American League is also likely to lead to some sort of statistical decline for Lyon.

I have seen some speculation that his late season slide may be the sign of an injury. While I don't have pitching data by appearance, it doesn't appear as if his velocity or control took much of a dive last year.

What this move gives the Tigers is a semi-reliable bullpen arm. This will prevent them from forcing Fernando Rodney or Joel Zumaya into late innings when they aren't healthy and effective, and will reduce the need to rush some of the relief prospects before they are ready. It's good to see the Tigers addressing the bullpen.

To make room on the roster, Eddie Bonine was designated for assignment. For those who wondered why James Skelton and others were left off the roster while Bonine remained in place, this is why. You need players who can slip through waivers when additions are made. Skelton is still less likely to stick with Arizona than he would if he could be claimed and sent to the minors. Bonine will likely clear waivers, and won't be a huge loss if he doesn't.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Building a Bullpen Follow-up

I've been out of town the past few days, so I didn't have time to quickly point out that the Tigers have signed Juan Rincon and Scott Williamson to minor league deals. If either of these guys can reclaim their old form, these are worthwhile signings. If they don't, so long as they don't get playing time they don't deserve, this won't hurt.

Still getting caught up, I saw the Tigers signed Bronson Sardinha. He's pretty much a minor league outfielder at this point, but I wanted to post two little bits about him from his wikipedia page.

His middle name is Kiheimahanaomauiakeo.
He was named after Charles Bronson.

It seems Dane was keeping their parents busy enough that they had some fun naming him.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Building a Bullpen

I just wanted to take a look at what Cleveland has done since last July. They, too, had a bullpen that cost their team a lot of games this year. Rather than sitting around sucking their thumbs, they have addressed the issue, and started doing so at the trading deadline (A look back at this past year's Rays' pen suggests building ahead of time is a wise move)

Acquired in Trades:
Zach Jackson*
Jon Meloan*
Anthony Reyes*
Joe Smith

Major League Free Agents:
Kerry Wood
Carl Pavano*

Minor League Free Agents:
Greg Aquino
Matt Herges
Kirk Saarloos
Jack Cassel

*Possible starters

I'm not going to sit here and tell you these guys are world beaters, but nature of relievers is that several are going to have down years or get hurt. Having strength in numbers is key, and the 2009 Central Division favorites have now added several players to the mix to their already young relief corps to fight for a job not only in Spring Training but throughout the season. To top it off, top prospect Adam Miller seems ready to join the team's bullpen. Cleveland will not be hurting for relief help this season.

It seems to me that the Tigers have spent so much time focused on finding somebody who racked up saves between 2002 and 2006 that they have forgotten to address the rest of the bullpen. While there are plenty of players who finished last year in A ball who could be moving quickly, 2009 seems to be a bit too soon for the likes of Perry, Satterwhite, Jacobson, and the rest. There is still time and there are still pitchers remaining, but strength in numbers is the way to go, and the Tigers need to look beyond finding a closer and remember that leads need to be held in the sixth through eighth innings as well.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The DL Adjustment

Thanks to this link, I was able to find enough numbers to figure out the Elias Rankings injury adjustment. As a result, the rankings can now almost be recalculated with exact accuracy (However, projecting becomes a whole other issue). First, I want to show how the injury adjustment is calculated.

A: Adjustment
D: Days Missed

D=<60: A=364/(364-D)

D>60: A=(424-D)/(364-D)

Previously, I was giving all players over 60 days missed an adjustment of 364/304. You will notice, however, that there is a significant difference between the actual adjustment and that assumed adjustment. Fixing this error has led me to be able to reproduce the rankings (of the positions I've gotten to so far) with 100% accuracy.

If you want to try to reproduce the American League Catcher rankings, you can find all the data you need, right here. Just multiply each counting stat by the DL adjustment described above, rank them by statistical category, give each player a score from 0 to 31, sharing points in the case of ties. Then add up each player's score and divide by 217 (31 possible points in 7 different categories), multiplying by 100 because the score is a percentage. Voila, you've calculated the 2007-2008 Elias Rankings for American League catchers. The top 20 percent (6) are Type A free agents while the next 20 are Type B.

So why will this be difficult to project? While it's easy to work backward and notice when there is an error, there is basically no way to publicly get reliable disabled list data, accurate to the day. You may think that one or two days makes no difference. However, to those of you who went ahead and calculated the rankings, go ahead and give Ramon Hernandez 40 days -- the total of days I found in the transactions log on -- on the disabled list instead of 41. You will notice his score will drop from 73.733 to 72.350. If Dioner Navarro was closer to him, that could have been the difference between a Type A and B ranking.

I'm not ready to pronounce my system bug free just yet, but this is a significant step that should improve the accuracy of the projections for the 2009 season.