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Friday, March 12, 2004

Does Spring Count?

All over the Internet, girlfriendless fatsos debate endlessly as to whether Spring Training performance counts for squat. Here's some stats for ya:

Hideo Nomo

Spring Training ERA 2003: 3.28
IP: 24.2
GS: 6
ER: 9

Regular Season ERA 2003: 3.09

Spring Training ERA 2004 (so far): 7.94
IP: 5.2
GS:2
ER: 5

I believe after the 2000 season he had offseason surgery, and had his highest ERA the next year. He just had offseason surgery this past offseason, so I think it's safe to say we could be seeing a 4+ ERA, and the final season of Nomo in a Dodger uniform. This is also his walk year.

Kazuhisa Ishii
Spring Training ERA 2003: 3.94
IP: 16.0
GS: 4
ER: 7

Regular Season ERA 2003: 3.86

Spring Training ERA 2004: 21.2
IP: 4.2
GS: 1
IP: 4.2

Was he drinking sake on the mound or what?

Of course it could be a false alarm:

Jeff Weaver Spring Training 2003 ERA: 2.25
Regular Season ERA 2003: 5.99

Ishii's better get a Hell of a lot lower. These stats come from ESPN.com, and I think aren't updated through today's game. Nomo's ERA went up even higher, over 8 I think. It's time to start worrying folks.
McCourt Psychosis Returns

He got on my good side with his hiring of Paul DePodesta, but then he goes and gives a crackpot interview here.

``Spring training is great, but, really, what we're focused on is June 11, 12 and 13 in Fenway,'' McCourt said, ``and, of course, playing in October is as good as it gets.''



Frank, did you buy the team to show up the Boston media? Are you on crack? What hell are you talking about? October is an afterthought, but beating the Red Sox is the priority? They're not even in our league you dumbass, both on paper, and as a team, they are far better than we are. What a moron.
Offensive Tally

I poured out an enormous statistical analysis, largely plagarizing from Baseball Prospectus a few days ago, and used it to analyze the Dodgers' offense. Let's sum up:

Players who will decline in value:

Paul Lo Duca
Dave Roberts
Jolbert Cabrera

And that's pretty much it. With Dave Roberts, and Cabrera, the loss is substantial, but not of great importance. Why? Depodesta's and Billy Beane's special abilities lay in finding hidden gems of utility players. Guys with high on base percentages, and low strikeouts. Lo Duca is a loss, but his decrease is slight. It can be minimized further if Ross is used more often. From what we've seen in Spring Training,and from what Tracy has said, it's more than likely Lo Duca is going to be let off more often. And that means a better hitter, or at least, a better hitter in the second half of the season.

Players who will increase in value:

Shawn Green
Robin Ventura
Adrian Beltre
Alex Cora
Cesar Izturis
Dave Ross
Bubba Trammell
Juan Encarnacion

I know Trammell isn't in Baseball Prospectus, but he'll increase in value, as he's basically had a vacation last year from both the field and sanity, and he's not a bad player. People have to realize, that while you can have fluke years where most of your players perform well, like the Angels and Marlins had in '02 and '03 respectively, you can also have fluke years, where most of your position players perform poorly. That was what happened last year. I'm not saying that the Dodger's offense is going to miraculously recover to an above average level; it still may be the worst offense in the league. But it will be an offense that is better than last year's, there's no question. Green will never be his old self, but he probably will recover somewhat. Cora's bad offensively, but his career stats are noticeably better than his offensive stats last year. Even the little Venezuelan That Couldn't, Cesar Izturis, will have a small offensive gain, due to the fact that he is young, and has not reached his late 20's offensive plateau yet, however low that may be. Dave Ross isn't the team's savior, but increased plate time will lead to increased value. Juan Encarnacion is like an additional Adrian Beltre in the outfield; a whole lotta strikeouts, but some power. We literally had nothing last year play center and left field for parts of the season, Encarnacion is healthy, and though below average, a step up from a bench player platoon.

The question then becomes: Will this offense make up for the lost value of the pitching staff? The pitching staff's efforts last year were a fluke. There will be a loss in value, other blogs have gone over this. Brown is gone, Ishii and Nomo are going to reflect their career stats more closely, etc. I think Weaver, and Perez will make up for the shortfall a bit, but one worries about who of our six or so possible starters will we trade for a big bat? That will undoubtedly reduce our abilities further. McCourt tied his GM's hands by promising to the media a big bat, and we have yet to see a delivery. It was probably an incredibly stupid move to promise that, but McCourt is relentlessly optimistic like me. This pitching staff is still the strongest in the league, and with an acceptable, not necessarily decent, offense, we can contend. We're really almost there.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Stats don't lie

Rotoworld.com is reporting that Greg Miller is to undergo shoulder surgery to see what is bothering his shoulder. This is why, folks, you go with college pitchers over high school pitchers. Young arms 90 percent of the time never make it to the majors because they blow out their arms or shoulders. Thank God Evans is finally gone, and Depodesta is here, but we'll be suffering for a few more years all because of stubborn, idiot traditionalists who still believe an 18 year old who played against me in high school, is better than a 22 year old who played against aluminum bats and serious athletes.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Dodgerkid does Analysis

Picking winners in sports is like thinking with a boner; the Dark Side clouds everything. It's hard to focus, you're covered in sweat, you're nervous about your performance, you want to give it your all. I made the prediction that the Dodgers are going to win the West, and even though I now believe that prediction to be totally erroneous, I'm going to stick with it, because if I am right, I will be able to brag to no end. But I think right now the D-backs have a slightly better team. On the other hand, the entire NL West is garbage.

I got my Baseball Prospectus 2004 in the mail, and boy is it cool. It's big and padded, so you can use it as a pillow, but just hard enough that you can do damage to toddlers and small dogs if you need to hit them. I'm going to use a liberal bit of BP to make predictions of the various position players of the Dodgers. 6-4-2 blog, and Dodger Thoughts have used BP to analyze the pitching of the Dodgers, and by all means visit their sites for eloquent analysis. Visit this site for God knows what reason.

I think the analysis of the Dodgers' pitching staff can be summed up quite briefly though. It will still be good. It's really hard to have a bad bullpen, and we have an abundance of quality starting pitching. Will it be as dominant as last year? Of course not. A 36 year old Nomo, and a more realistic Ishii are going to come down hard this year. Weaver might just suck. Perez will pitch well, so will Jackson, so will Alvarez. If Dreifort is healthy, he'll be decent at the very least. It will still be a staff to contend with, and thanks to the court jester Dan Evans, we have a dominant non-hitting defense in the infield and outfield, and that will keep ERAs low.

Baseball Prospectus has a brilliant write up of the Dodgers, and the incompetence of Dan Evans. I have screamed till I was blue in the face and frothing at the mouth at Dan's silliness, but BP actually put a reason behind Evans' madness. Evans is an old school GM, even though he is relatively young in age (40s). The Dodgers' organization, until recently, was a strong believer in their pitching park status, and built teams around this. Evans went a psycho step further, and concentrated so much on defense, that he left his offense suffer. All the while, if he had put even the most basic effort behind getting hitters, the Dodgers could have been successful. I buy into this a bit, with the Izturis acquisition, but this argument loses strength when you take into account buying McGriff, who is one of the few black men in America incapable of dancing well, he's that stiff. (Now that's stereotyping folks!) But in essence, Evans was a lover of tradition, to such an extent that it bordered on incompetence.

Let's look at some stats:

Beltre Age AB OBP SLG VORP
22 475 .310 .411 20.5
23 587 .303 .426 25.4
24 559 .290 .424 15.9
25 504 .312 .447 22.7

The italicized numbers are the predicted numbers for 2004. VORP means value over replacement-level player, a really simple to understand stat that takes into account various offensive stats, gives a value that is the league average, and then gives a value to the player, in relation to the league average. So Beltre for 2004 will be 22.7 percent better than a replacement level player. At least that's how I understand the stat, I'm probably wrong. Beltre's young, and he sucks, but he's shown remarkable consistency at sucking. He reached a low last year, but he'll make a small comeback, towards his career average. We've seen enough of Beltre batting to know what he's capable of, and it looks like he's capable of being a slightly above average ball player. I agree with Baseball prospectus here. BP also believes that he was not rushed through the minors, but they merely state this and bring no evidence to back it up. Interesting.

Robin Ventura Age AB OBP SLG VORP
34 465 .368 .458 47.2
35 283 .344 .392 10.0
35 109 .331 .422 2.8
36 262 .348 .426 15.6

The reason for two 35 year old entries is because the first was when he was a Yankee, and the second was when he was traded to the Dodgers in the middle of 03 season. They predict a small comeback, but only if he is a bench player. If he's not a bench player, he'll be better than anything we've had at first base since Karros was 26, but he'll also still suck. As Beltre tanks at the beginning of this season, I expect to see a lot of Ventura, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. It is if he is the starting first baseman.

Paul Lo Duca Age AB OBP SLG VORP
30 580 330 402 30.0
31 568 335 337 18.9
32 463 331 400 15.9

Lo Duca is 32, and a catcher. Here goes the decline. My knees are bad enough, I can't imagine crouching like a Sumo for years on end. Tracy is going to try and rest Lo Duca, but "rest" means playing another position, and that's not really rest. We need another bat in the lineup, so that we can allow Lo Duca to rest and give Ross as much playing time as possible. Or we're screwed. Little Italians hit coinboxes and save the princess well, but they don't hit well through a solid year of catching.

Dave Ross Age AB OBP SLG VORP
26 124 336 556 13.3
27 267 239 459 19.1

There's little to go on with the mysterious Ross, but BP pegs him as having an impact. He can hit for power, something that didn't show up in the minors, but like most decent hitters came along in his late 20s. He's doing well in spring training, so we're going to see a lot more of him I'm sure. Probably a good decision.

Dave Roberts Age AB OBP SLG VORP
30 422 353 365 18.9
31 388 331 307 1.9
32 365 326 334 .1

BP predicts the end of his career. I'll miss his Good Guys Electronics radio spots, but thank jesus it looks like he'll be a back up fielder, rather than a starter. He's clearly not a starter, and if he's starting this year, prepare for the worst.

Cesar Izturis Age AB OBP SLG VORP
22 439 253 303 -7.9
23 558 282 315 -4.0
24 448 281 328 -3.2

Goddamn he is offically worse than Neifi Perez, and the worst hitter in the MLB. Get this guy off the fucking team. If this isn't a tribute to Dan Evans' incompetence I don't know what is. BP has Izturis steadily improving, from totally radioactive garbage, to merely unwatchable garbage. Kudos to BP for showcasing why Dan Evans was fired for this guy's hiring.

Shawn Green Age AB OBP SLG VORP
29 582 385 558 65.1
30 611 355 460 33.8
31 546 369 529 43.2

BP has a return for Shawn Green, but not that great of a return. They predict 32 homers. Jon Weisman has done a great deal of research on Green's medical condition, and basically there will probably never be a return to form, and undoubtedly problems in the future. That being said, I think this surgery will help for the time being, and the real problems won't start until 2005. I basically agree with BP's analysis, but they take his return in August of '03 as a sign that Jack Clark's firing helped. Green had a cortisone shot at the same time, and I think that was what was truly behind his hitting. Offseason surgery should be a more long term fix for Green. Hitting coaches add nothing to the game, and are waisted salary as far as I'm concerned.

Alex Cora Age AB OBP SLG VORP
26 258 371 434 23.9
27 477 287 338 -1.3
28 362 311 361 7.3

Yes! He'll be 7 percent better than an average piece of shit. Yet another example of a bench player given a starting spot. Thank god he's good with grounders. I fear BP is a little optimistic here, but who knows.

Juan Encarnacion Age AB OBP SLG VORP
26 263 317 418 3.9
27 601 313 446 11.5
28 506 318 447 12.0

BP has Encarnacion improving slightly, if he really is 28 years of age. But he's Dominican and lying is standard for them, so he's probably 50. Yet another insane Evans acquisition that prefers defense to hitting, no matter how deplorably bad your offense is. Great move by the Marlin's GM tossing us this hand grenade.

BP doesn't even have Bubba Trammell listed, so they probably thought that his nervous breakdown lead to his leaving society for a nice quite padded cell. Assuming we get Jeremy Giambi, he'll be worth 11.9 as a bench player. Not bad, and almost as valuable as the 8 million dollar man, Juan Encarnacion.

As for our leading offensive prospects: Thurston is predicted to be a faster version of Cora, Loney is predicted to be a liability as he's too young yet, Gutierrez is too young as well. Both are seen as promising though. Koyie Hill will made a decent backup in limited appearances, while Ching Feng Chen, the first Taiwanese born player in major league history is seen as a decent bench hitter. What BP doesn't know is that Loney is lighting up spring training, and Chen has missed most of spring training, so Loney will most likely be getting his fair share of call ups, if Tracy doesn't meddle with veterans too much, as his habit. I'm sorry I couldn't get this up earlier, as my cable modem is on the fritz, and because our laissez faire government has seen fit to encourage monopolies in the telecommunications industry, it will probably be repaired at around the same speed as getting a phone line installed in Bolivia. Expect updates to decrease proportionally. Thanks for listening. I'll talk about these numbers some more tomorrow, hopefully.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Grim Times Ahead

I just finished watching the Lakers lose to the godawful Jazz. The shitty playing by both sides, the absurd technical call on Shaq, the fact that the Lakers' bench is terrible, those weren't the important stories. The importants story, to me, was the woman in the stands who brought her newborn baby to the game. You might have seen it, the baby was in pink, so was the mom, and they had pretty good seats behind the right side basket.

What kind of crack whore, ignorant mentality exists that allows for someone to bring their newborn to a basketball game? The noise level in the Utah stadium is deafening. That child's developing ears are undoubtedly ruined. When that baby grows up, and talks like Bill Walton, who are you going to blame but yourself? Do you smoke and breastfeed at the same time? What's this country coming to? Is this a mormon test of strength for the baby that us regular Christians aren't privy to? The madness of it all. The kid's not going to remember a second of the goddamn game, but she'll definitely remember her ignorant mother, and the decision made to make her talk like she has a cleft palate.

And now to the Dodgers. I just got the 2004 Baseball Prospectus in the mail, so I'm going to combine my promise to explain why the Dodgers are going to win the West this year, with another promise to use the analysis BP uses on the Dodgers, and show what the Dodgers have, and haven't got going for themselves. If you've been following Spring Training, (if you have a life, I don't blame you for not following it), you've noticed a bunch of our pitching staff pitching like shit. Granted, those pitchers who are pitching terribly have guaranteed contracts, and aren't really worried about their performance now, but they are also pitchers with troubled pasts. Ishii, and Nomo, by all statistical accounts (and 6-4-2 blogs great analysis) are going to have comedowns this year. Weaver seems to be continuing in the shittiness he showed as a Yankee. It is well known that Weaver is a huge pothead, and I don't know the potency of the Florida bud, but if it's different from the stuff he got from his Jamaican connection while a Yankee, then this could be the reason for his shitty playing. Jim Colborn, the Dodger pitching coach, talks slow, so I would imagine is a bit of pothead himself, and the two of them should definitely get together and work out a THC regimen of high adrenaline pot, or just lace whatever crap Weaver's smoking with PCP. They say Spring Training isn't a good predictor of the future, but if you're a crappy player in general, you're going to play crappy no matter what. Pray for their souls. I'm out.

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