World Famous StatSpeak Roundtable: February 5
February 5, 2009 1 Comment
It’s back! We’ve pulled the table out of storage and even got some new chairs. Some of you have probably noticed that StatSpeak has been going through some changes over the past six weeks. Brian, Colin, and Eric are still around and you’ll see them post here and there, although they’ve all been expanding out and doing some work for some other sites. So, even though this is late, welcome Jon Walsh and Dan Novick to StatSpeak. We’re hoping to keep the roundtable tradition going with the next generation (which would make me Chekov?), but stay tuned.
Question #1: The Yankees added Sabathia, Burnett, Teixeira, and Pettitte. Does it help, or are they on the outside looking in?
Jon Walsh: Obviously as a Blue Jays fan my hopeful answer is no, but no time for optimism now. I’ve always been of the opinion that teams can’t win through free agency and I still think the Red Sox are better on paper than the Yankees. Also, having the pleasure of watching Burnett’s antics for the last three years I have my doubts of him handling the New York pressure.
Dan Novick: People seem to forget that this was an 89-win team last year. With these signings, the rotation became the best in the league (on paper), and the offense should be among the best, depending on the health of Matsui and Posada. So, yea, it certainly helped. With just an average bill of health, they should be the favorite to win the division, and having three or four stud pitchers in the playoffs certainly doesn’t hurt.
Pizza Cutter: Well, it sure didn’t hurt. The thing is that it’s a Yankees-type signing. It doesn’t take much Sabermetric wisdom (or any sort of wisdom really) to figure out that CC and Tex were the best pitcher and hitter on the market, and then sign them to really bloated contracts. Burnett isn’t much of a mystery either, although 9+ K per nine innings plus high groundball rate is always a good, and I think underappreciated, combo. However, while I can’t blame the Yankees for signing Tex, what becomes of Jorge Posada, who really shouldn’t be catching any more and Nick Swisher who really shouldn’t be allowed to roam in an outfield? But still, the signings help them quite a bit this year, and because they’re the Yankees, they’ll be able to ride it out if those big contracts start looking more like fat than muscle. On paper, they’re right back to being into the thick of things.
Colin Wyers: In almost any other division in baseball you’d have to consider calling them the preseason favorites. But the AL East is a tough mistress. They’re a good team, although there are some question marks (the outfield seems very unsettled, Posada’s ability to play catcher is unsettled, Cano and Jeter are both coming off of disappointing years) – you can say that about most of the top teams going into spring every year, though. They’re definately contending.
Question #2: The White Sox this off-season have traded away Javier Vazquez and let Orlando Cabrera walk away. But they are now rumored to be interested in signing Bobby Abreu, despite an already crowded outfield, and will bat A.J. Pierzynski 2nd in the lineup despite an OBP no higher than .312 the last two years. What’s going on with the South Siders?
Jon Walsh: I’d answer that question if I could. It’s an excellent time to pick up a talent like Abreu via free agency for cheap but who are they going to trade? Dye? What motivates the team that would be trading for Dye not to just go out and sign Abreu or Dunn for cheaper anyways? Maybe Williams has a plan but I just can’t see it right now.
Dan Novick: If a normal team did this, I’d say they’re having an identity crisis. They traded one of their best pitchers, and allowed the starting short stop to leave, but now they’re interested in another aging corner-OF/DH type with Abreu, which they already have in Jermaine Dye. And oh yea, they gave away Nick Swisher for a bag of balls. I’m not sure if they’re selling off parts or trying to compete. You just never know what’s going on in the mind of Kenny Williams.
Pizza Cutter: This is the same team that looked at the worst right fielder in baseball (Ken Griffey, Jr.) last year in the middle of a pennant race and said “well, he’s played center before, so let’s stick him out there again.” Does Ozzie Guillen really look like the kind of guy with a plan? There’s a test that a lot of people are familiar with called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (they’re the people who call you an ENFJ or somesuch nonsense… I actually took the M-B once and split three of the four scales completely down the middle.) Ozzie is very clearly a perceiver, not a judger. He’s the type that goes by how it feels, even if those of us who are hardcore J’s (the only one of the four scales that I didn’t split…) it doesn’t make sense. I guess he’s got a front office that either shares the same biases or is just too frightened of what he will do if they contradict him. Maybe both.
Colin Wyers: My legal counsel has advised me to not answer Roundtable questions about the Southsiders anymore.
So I’ll take this opportunity to simply ask: If PC is Chekov, what the heck does that make me and Brian?
Question #3: Manny Ramirez is still available. What gives?
Jon Walsh: Simultaneous realizations by teams that signing late thirties players to long term deals isn’t a great idea? The fact that his defence (yes, that is how you spell it) drags down his value? I’m surprised that the two high bidders are both National League teams as he would be better as a DH. But then, maybe he’s insisting in playing in left and would mail it in if he wasn’t allowed. Remember that he still wants a Gold Glove.
Dan Novick: The only man in America who seems to think Manny is getting another $100 million deal is Scott Boras. Maybe he knows something the rest of baseball doesn’t, but it seems unlikely. The only team besides the Dodgers linked to Manny these days is the Giants, and they don’t seem like the kind of team interested in paying that much for a headache so soon after getting rid of Barry Bonds. That’s if they are even willing to pay him that much in the first place. Their highest ever payroll was about $90 million, and as it stands now, they’d have to go over $100 million in order to sign Manny. Boras had better have some tricks up his sleeve if Manny is going to get the lucrative contract he’s looking for.
Pizza Cutter: It would be silly to give a 36-year-old man a contract that pays him $25 million dollars four years from now, even if that man is Manny Ramirez. It’s a bad risk. But alas, the free agent market is still priced using the guidelines of “Well, Manny’s just about as good as A-Rod right now, so he should get just below A-Rod money.” Maybe it’s just the bad economy or the fact that it’s a bad market for power-hitting corner outfielders or maybe that a lot of teams are actually wising up, but it seems that a lot of players have been slow to realize that this year’s free agent market isn’t being played under the old rules.
Colin Wyers: Ramirez seems to have an inflated sense of self-worth at this point that is colliding with two market realities: a dismal economy and a glut of big-bat-no-glove types on the free agent market.
It also doesn’t help that people have figured out that Boras’ “mystery team” is typically the Altoona Curve or the Gateway Grizzlies. The Dodgers aren’t going to bid against an organization that pays in donut burgers just because Boras says he has other offers.