Friday, November 26, 2010

Jeter situation one for the books

Have you heard about this?
Derek Jeter, the current captain of the most successful baseball organization in the history of the game, is a free agent. The New York Yankees apparently want to offer Jeter a contract of $45 million over three years, but that's the only offer we know of; the Bronx Bombers may have offered more.
Jeter and his agent are asking for a six year deal worth $150 million.
And really, it's kind of sad.
Can you imagine Derek Jeter wearing any other uniform than Yankee pinstripes? I can't. And I don't want to see him play anywhere else.
I don't think Derek Jeter wants to play anywhere else, either. But I think Jeter, who is a .314 career hitter, who is a lock for the Hall of Fame and is only 74 hits away from 3,000, wants a little recognition for his years of dedication to the team.
Apparently $15 million per year isn't enough recognition. He wants $25 million per season.
No offense to Derek Jeter, but he's 36 years old, and his numbers have been on a huge backslide for the past few seasons (his surreptitious Gold Glove in 2010 notwithstanding). If Jeter honestly thinks he's worth $25 million per year in a contract that will last until he's 43, he's delusional.
I'm trying to put myself in the shoes of a Yankees fan here. On one hand, I don't want to see Derek Jeter leave. On the other hand, I don't want to see my team spend $150 million of their (vast, but not unlimited) free agent funds on a guy who's not helping that much on the field.
I have a proposal.
Hank Steinbrenner should give Jeter his six years, but he should keep the salary at $15 million annually, which adds up to a $90 million deal.
Here's what's in it for Jeter.
At the conclusion of the 2013 season, when Joe Girardi's current managerial contract runs out, Derek Jeter becomes the New York Yankees' player-manager. (Girardi, if he's still liked in New York, can get a front-office job.)
If Jeter is a productive manager at the end of the contract, he can continue on as the Yankees' skipper - at a much reduced annual contract.
The last player-manager in Major League Baseball was Pete Rose.
Wouldn't Derek Jeter be a great candidate for the next one?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sabermagic on Billy Beane and David DeJesus -- which comes first? winning? Or expecting to win?

Chicken or egg?

Do the Royals make the deals they make because they don't expect to win or do they not expect to win because of the deals they make?

I-70 Baseball's Adam Shupe took the challenge and performed some slick saber-magician work on my question about the David DeJesus trade. I wanted someone to run the numbers on Mr. DeJesus and give me a quantitative reason why Billy Beane thinks he is a bargain for his Oakland A's but the Royals' braintrust thinks he's too expensive to keep. Billy Beane, I maintained, doesn't make off the cuff, gut level (or gut wrenching) trades.
For more on this and other Royals discussion, see Adam's blog

(By the way, if you need a reporter/writer, hire this man. Baseball is not his only dimension -- I've seen him write with grace about everything.

Here's Shupe's response.

As for David DeJesus, I can only offer three reasons.

1. For some reason Billy Beane thinks the A's are good enough to make a run at the World Series and DeJesus can be a role player in that process. DeJesus has always been a Billy Beane style player, solid defense and base running with an affinity to get on base.

Bill James' 2011 projections are up and have DeJesus going .289/.360/.427, 11 HR, 86 R, 68 RBI, 6 SB. This matches up similarly to his 2009 output, considering he plays as well defensively as he did in 2009 his WAR would be around 3-3.5, which considering his $5.5 million salary would be a worthwhile investment.

2. Beane thinks he can deal DeJesus at the trade deadline to a contender for more than he gave up to the Royals. This is vintage Billy Beane, think Matt Holliday on a smaller level.

3. Beane believes DeJesus will perform well enough to be a Type B or possibly Type A outfielder. So when he leaves after the season, they will have gotten a good return on a MLB outfielder for a season and possibly a first round draft pick for two guys who may or may not make a major league impact.


This is where you see the fundamental differences between the mentalities of GMs. This deal makes sense for Billy Beane because he always wants to compete. He constantly has the playoffs as the first priority. You will never see an A's team play 20 games under .500 like the Royals have. They always compete. It's how he fielded a team in 2002 that won 103 games on a payroll of just under $40 million, third lowest in the league. He's known for bring major talent in through trades, but also dealt Andre Either for Milton Bradley (Dodgers), Nelson Cruz for Keith Ginter, and Carlos Gonzalez with Houston Street for Matt Holliday (Rockies).

Can you imagine a staring out field of Andre Either in left, Carlos Gonzalez in center, and Nelson Cruz in right?

But he makes moves like those to roll the dice in the playoffs. Bradley raked down the 2006 playoff stretch.

A few bounces their way and maybe if Jermey Giambi slid, their fate might have been altered.

Dayton Moore, on the other hand, is waiting for one big push. He was bred differently, under a regime like the Braves. He understands a fundamental way to win the game, prospects from within. This is why 2011 is basically already mortgaged in Kansas City. Everyone has accepted the Royals aren't going to win anything this season. It's basically a premier tryout for guys like Kila Ka'aihue, Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas, and a stable of young arms. Who's good enough to play, so we can take them with us when the farm begins to cultivate?

Moore was quoted as saying you need about 20 good pitching prospects to expect 4 or 5 guys who will stick. His philosophies are based firmly upon comments like those. That's the difference.

The deal makes sense for Beane because DeJesus gives any team a better chance to win. There's no question in that. Worst case scenario, come trade deadline he still has value. You keep him then maybe you get a draft pick. Does the difference between 87 and 90 wins matter? Hell yeah.

If he was a Royal he might be the difference between a 64 and 67 loss team, is it worth it? No way. Of course everyone would like to see DeJesus roaming Kauffman again, but the young arms are what's important. He's piling up arms seeing which are the four or five who can make it.

The casual fans see Moore giving up one of their favorite players for two guys they've never heard of. They think Vin Mazzaro will just be another Brian Bannister or Kyle Davies. Fillers. The difference is this: Vin Mazzaro is 23 and had a WAR of -0.1, he got paid $450,000. A young pitcher establishing himself playing just below replacement level for the league minimum. Bannister and Davies combined played at a WAR of -0.7 at a price of $4.1 million. Seems like good business to me.

It's no coincidence this trade came right after they released Bannister, while questioning Davies return, all while trade rumors swirl about Greinke. So Moore goes outs and gets a young arm under team control for near league minimum for the next five years. This guy would have had the second lowest ERA on the team behind Greinke.

The other kid they got looks like a clone of Will Smith, the southpaw they got from the Angels for Callaspo. That makes about ten lefties I could rattle off who will be in the top 25 prospects in the best minors system in the league. He's playing the odds he can find a couple Tom Glavine's out of a group like that.

We have some other great baseball minds working on this and as soon as they get their ideas to us, we'll put them on the screen. These quantitative discussions are interesting because they get us out of the same old rut -- you know -- the rut that begins with "the Royals have been on full suck since..."


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Billy Beane's shit does work in the regular season ... what did he see in DeJesus

One question to ask about Oakland trading for David DeJesus is why the Royals would make such a cockamamie deal. Sam Mellinger's surprisingly weak response in the Star aside, not much in the way of explanation has surfaced.

Perhaps a better way to look at the trade is to ask why Billy Beane would trade for DeJesus. Beane does not make random choices. He doesn't go with his gut. He doesn't waste money. In fact, he's all about using math to find bargains and finding bargain to win. Beane admits his "shit doesn't work in the playoffs" but it sure has worked across many 162 game seasons. And, his shit seems to work in a small market with a limited payroll, like our little River City.

So, why is DeJesus a bargain for Beane and a bust for the Royals' brain trust?

This question, of course, assumes Beane wants DeJesus as a player, not as trade bait. Getting DeJesus as a pawn to trade up later is a chess move Beane might be making but it would be a risky move and Beane is anything but a gambler.

So, here's a challenge for the Sabermagicians. Tell the readers why David DeJesus' numbers are attractive to Billly Beane. Then we'll try to figure out why they are unattractive to the Royals' brain trust.

Plate discipline? Fielding ability? Arm strength? His inability to steal bases would not be a deduction for Beane who places less value on stolen bases than most. What is it -- statistically --about DeJesus that Billy Beane wanted?

I don't want to hear that he works hard and is a great presence in the clubhouse. Beane's shit doesn't work that way.

Help the unenlightened out here. My guess is if you can unravel this mystery Royals fans can reach a better understanding of what goes on in the heads of the Kansas City braintrust. And, with a better understanding, we can better understand where this team is going and what we, as fans, can expect.

Have at it. If you know a Sabermagician, put him on the case. We'll print the responses when they arrive.

Lofflin-- card image from Baseball Alamanac

Friday, November 12, 2010

Joe Morgan and the war between sabermetrics and dirt -- what if they gave a war and you didn't know it was happening?

While we're talking about stupid things, let's talk about sabermetrics.

That was meant as a joke so don't get your shorts in a wad. Too late...right? OK, stand up, straighten things out, and sit back down. To some extent, maybe that's the point. Sabermetrics have become a line in the sand. Young Turks on one side. Old farts on the other. No room in the middle and nobody whose shorts aren't in a bad place.

I think the sabermagicians like it that way. They become the outlaws. The rebels. They're the fresh young faces ready to storm the gate. It's always good to be the underdog.

I've come to understand all this in the year or so we've been writing the Henrywiggen blog. Call me grossly uninformed but I had never heard of this war over sabermetrics. I liked Joe Morgan on Sunday night baseball. I liked Jon Miller better. How can you not like Jon Miller? He actually has a professional voice unlike nearly everyone else who squeaks and screeches when they call a major league baseball game today. Call me old fart, but I prefer a voice smooth as silk to, say, however you want to describe Scott Hamilton's voice.

Anyway, I didn't know a war was being waged. I thought you could evaluate baseball by who won and who lost. I thought good ballplayers usually wound up on good teams and good teams won. Money usually bought good teams who bought good players who won games. Pretty simple.

I liked small ball because it was interesting to watch. And, because it was for underdogs.

But I also liked home runs. Loved home runs. The sight of a baseball launched into the night was as majestic as anything I'd ever seen -- having never seen a space launch first hand.

I thought a very small number of pitchers could control the games they pitched. I thought a very small number of hitters could -- four times a game -- elevate your team's chances of driving in a run. I liked to watch scrappy hitters because ... I like underdogs. And I thought some hitters always let you down, even if their averages were high. Always thought their averages must be some kind of statistical mistake.

I thought lefty/righty matchups were for mediocre players and part of the full employment act for managers.

I was open to numbers and open to the wisdom of those who played in the dirt.

I liked Joe Morgan ... most of the time. When he got on a tangent, I went to the kitchen for a coke. I feel the same way about everyone on television in anything from sportscasting to news to Sons of Anarchy.

So I didn't know I had chosen a side. That is, until some of my students assumed I had. Suddenly I became a curmudgeon. A purist (pronounced with a spitting motion). An old fart.

OK, not an issue. If you're a teacher you get used to being a curmudgeon. In academia you get used to being behind the times -- most academics are terrified of being behind the times. They jump on the next big thing, preferring to surf the next wave in the rocks than be swallowed by a tsunami. You pick yer poison.

Now, I know how deep this sabermath divide really is. I'm amazed. I just finished this wonderful article reprinted from the San Francisco Chronicle on Deadspin about Joe Morgan vs sabermetrics and aside from a few gratuitously snippy comments -- transparently aimed at pleasing the aesthetics of the blogosphere -- it was a trove of both information and fascinating ideas.

Which side are you on? Is it still possible to be on both sides?

BTW: I'm still waiting for someone to explain how Tim Lincecum could only be worth four games across a 162 game season to the San Francisco Giants over, say, their triple A hurler Tony Pena Jr. Yes, THAT Tony Pena, Jr. I'm listening...


Illustration: Michigan State University

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Royals trade DeJesus for... oh never mind...

Why did I expect anything else?

Of curse the brain trust would trade the most reliable player on the team. And, sure, no question they would trade for two questionable pitchers, one they thought of so highly they once traded him away.

Why two pitchers? Well, Sherlock Holmes, who do you think is next?

As Bruce Pearson said in "Bang the Drum..." -- "(we) are doomed."

Watched the scene from the movie with Henry, Dutch, Bradley and Patricia in the hotel room negotiating Henry's contract yesterday before reading about the trade. Can't help thinking the same sort of thinking went on in a corner office at the stadium this week. Only the owner was raking leaves in another state hooked in by Bluetooth, Bradley was now the GM and Dutch, well Dutch just nodded his head.

Bobblehead World.


Somebody please explain this to me. Using logic, as Henry would say...


Photo: USA Today

Friday, November 5, 2010

John's wish is my command

Let me just add - If you saw Dan Quisenberry and Renie Martin walking down the street, would you say to yourself, "There go two Major League Baseball players?" Or would you say, "There go two guys who work the loading dock at Wal-Mart?"

Just sayin'.

--Matt Kelsey

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Baseball withdrawl? Post series blues? I've got something to see you through the night...

Baseball withdrawal is a drag. If you're like me, you're feeling it right about now. Not into basketball yet -- watched about 30 seconds of the Bulls game tonight. After planing and scheming all last week to watch the series, well, now there's nuthin to do.

Went out side and hit a couple of dozen balls off the tee. Didn't help much.

Watched a few innings of Home Run Derby. I'll do a post later on why the original was much harder than the star studded derby we see in living color today.

Well, if you need a little rounders, go over to I-70 baseball. I just finished a piece on Dan Quisenberry that you might enjoy. It'll get you through the night, anyway. The more I looked into it, the more I realized how special the poet/pitcher was and how lucky we were to watch him work night after night.

And, you'll love the wonderful work Matt did with the design, especially the baseball cards. Brilliant. In fact, I'm going to coax him into adding one of those bedazzling cards to this post when he gets a chance.

-- Lofflin

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bedazzle Your Resume Today!

In September I was laid off from a temporary job with the U.S. Census Bureau, a fascinating, nine-month-long position about which I will write more later.

Now I am unemployed and I am searching for a job. During my search efforts, I am collecting unemployment benefits from the State of Kansas. I feel no shame in this; that's exactly what the benefits are there for, to lend a helping hand to the millions of people like me who are looking for work.

A couple weeks ago I received a letter from the Kansas Department of Revenue which stated, essentially, that I'd been "selected" to received re-employment services from the Kansas Workforce Center. I was told to report on Nov. 2 to meet with a re-employment specialist.

What I gleaned from the letter - and today what I found out is absolutely true - is that I'd been randomly selected by the State to make sure I was actually looking for work, and not simply claiming benefits for a living.

I have no problem with this. I understand the State has to make sure people aren't abusing the system. I filled out the form with the names of some of the companies I had queried, although I could have written a whole lot more had the form been longer.

Today during my appointment I met with a re-employment specialist. She was a very nice lady who gave me some helpful suggestions for where to look for a job, such as the internet. At the end of our appointment she asked if I would like her to take a look at my resume, and I obliged.

After glancing at my resume for, at most, one third of a second, the very nice lady said - verbatim - "Your resume needs some work, Matthew. This resume is boring."

What was boring about the resume was not apparently the content, since she did not have time to read it, but the font, the lack of color and, I don't know, perhaps the paper weight. She recommended that I come to a resume writing class at the workforce center and referred me to another very nice person whom she labeled "The Resume Guru."

The Guru said the resume workshop would be very helpful for me, and to prove it he showed me a copy of his own resume. Emblazoned in 18-point script font (yes, script) was the Guru's name. A thick black border surrounded the entire document, and the resume itself was written using, at a minimum, four fonts of varying sizes and styles.

This was the resume of The Resume Guru.

I smiled, handed the lovely document back to the Guru, and said I'd be sure to stop by for the next resume writing workshop.

But I'm afraid I won't be able to make it. After my appointment today, I got a job.

That's right... I'm starting my own business:

Matt Kelsey's Resume Boutique!

Is your resume a plain, boring, readable document? Throw that sucker in the trash! Come to Matt Kelsey's Resume Boutique, and we will bedazzle, bejewel and make a bespectacle out of your resume!

No work experience? NO PROBLEM! Matt Kelsey's Resume Boutique specializes in filling out YOUR resume with the prettiest utter nonsense you've ever seen! Your resume will LITERALLY jump into the hands of future employers! The job offers will LITERALLY roll in!

Act fast to take advantage of our limited time offer - TWO FONTS for the PRICE OF ONE!