This ‘N That

You’ve no reason to believe this, because I don’t believe in posting predictions, but back in April I told my wife the Angels would win 95 games and win the division by eight games. They finished 94-68 with a six game margin over Seattle. I didn’t think the Mariners would finish second — I figured it would be Oakland — but the important thing is they’re going to the post-season.

My regular readers know I think Billy Beane, Moneyball and sabermetrics in general are vastly overrated, and in some cases are exploited by con artists trying to extract a buck from the gullible. That’s a subject for another time. So is the A’s 76-86 record, one game out of last place. Sometime this winter, I’ll write about how Beane’s lab-rat approach to the A’s has run a once-proud organization into the ground.

But the issue at hand is the playoffs. The Angels face Boston, while the Yankees take on Cleveland. Boston has the home field advantage. Games 1 and 2 are in Boston, Games 3 and (if necessary) 4 are in Anaheim, and Game 5 (if necessary) is back in Boston.

The Red Sox have worried me all year long. Frankly, I think the Sox are the team most likely to go to the World Series. But I do think there’s also an opportunity here for the Angels. If they can take one of the two games in Boston, then they return home for Games 3 and 4. The Angels were 54-27 at home, the best home record in the league. So if they win a game in Boston, then win Games 3 and 4 at home, they take the series. But that’s more easily written than done; the Sox at home were 51-30, and 45-36 on the road.

The Angels’ bullpen has been shaky in recent months, as both Francisco Rodriguez and Scot Shields have been less than slam-dunk.

Rodriguez’ ERA pre-All Star break was 2.33, post-All Star was 3.45. I have more thoughts about Frankie’s future, which I’ll also save for another column. Interestingly, against Boston this year his AVG was .118. Overall he averaged 4.5 walks per 9 IP, but against Boston it was only 1.9. Of course, in a five-game series long-term trends really don’t mean much. But for now we’ll hold onto that optimistic note.

If you’re a pessimist … Since the All-Star break, if you got a runner on base against Frankie, you stood a pretty good chance of scoring him. His ERA with runners in scoring position post-All Star was 9.31. With the bases empty, it’s 0.57. With RISP, his WHIP was 1.66, his OBP was .356, and his SLG was .351. With the bases empty, his WHIP was 1.15, his OBP was .284, his SLG was .333.

So the best way for Boston to beat Frankie is to work him for a walk.

Anyway, on to other matters …

I’m currently working on processing the Arkansas Travelers photos I shot last June. I’m about one-fourth through them.

I’m also still working on editing video highlight clips from the recent trip to the Arizona Instructional League.

All this, of course, depends on available time. My wife returns Monday evening from Australia so my free time will be less than the last couple weeks. But I’m plowing on.

3 Comments

Boston isn’t as scary as some people make it out to be. Let us not forget that we won the 4 of the last seven games we played against them, with four of them in their house. And that was before GA really started to get back into the mix.

Unlike the Angels, Boston’s lineup stayed largely healthy all season, and that was the big difference in offensive numbers produced by the two lineups (and that’s without even accounting for park factor).

Boston’s Bullpen advantage has withered of late. Okajima was running out of gas late in the season, and Gagne has struggled ever since moving to Boston. Their middle relief isn’t any more frightening than ours.

We also have the ERA advantage in all three starting pitching matchups.

The outcome is by no means certain, but we’ve out-played the Red Sox by a fair margin since our meeting back in April. This time we won’t be sending out Hector Carrasco or Dustin Moseley as our starter.

First of all, love the site, love the exhaustive dedication, love the passion, love the fact that there is an Angels fan out there willing to give so much time to such a great thing.

But please elaborate on the sabermetric hatred and, in particular, the Billy Beane comment.

I’ve been an Angels fan since Reggie Jackson signed in 1982. Oakland has been a thorn in my side more than once and getting beat by players with names like Marco Scutaro just sticks in my craw.

And Billy Beane’s reputation for being a grade-A jerk is legendary. But when it comes to production, his results cannot be denied and phrases like ‘running a franchise into the ground’ stink of blind hatred.

Four postseason appearances in the last eight years and 90 win seasons in six of the last eight seasons is hardly ‘running a once-proud franchise into the ground’.

He did all this as his payroll capacity shrank dramatically and his ability to keep free agents (and pending free agents) in a wildly overpriced market was curtailed.

I don’t like a A’s. But he’s done a pretty remarkable job. One year – 76-86 – does not a GM’s reputation make. I’ve been around a few people that know Beane personally and the spitting hatred for the man is palpable.

But don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. His approach has worked. And it’s getting well-deserved attention in every front office in baseball.

As I said upstream, I’ll write about it another time. I have too much else on my plate right now.

But your statement that Beane’s “payroll capacity shrank dramatically” is ludicrous on the face of it. Here are the Opening Day payrolls for the A’s in the last decade (courtesy of mlbcontracts.blogspot.com):

2007 $79.3 million

2006 $62.2 million

2005 $55.4 million

2004 $59.4 million

2003 $50.3 million

2002 $40.0 million

2001 $33.8 million

2000 $32.1 million

The A’s payroll has doubled between 2002 and 2007.

In any case, payroll is not the sole measurement of a team’s budget. Unfortunately, teams do not make public what they budget and spend on scouting, or what they budget and spend on player development.

The much-ballyhood “Moneyball” draft in 2002 is an example. Per the Baseball America 2003 Almanac, Beane gave $1.375 million to John McCurdy, $350,000 to Jeremy Brown, $725,000 to Mark Teahen, $750,000 to Steve Obenchain, and $1.2 million to Ben Fritz. The only one out of those guys who’s amounted to anything is Teahen, but he’s in Kansas City having been traded for the worthless Octavio Dotel.

That adds up to $4.4 million in mistakes.

And then there’s Jeremy Bonderman, traded one year to the day after he was drafted, dumped because Beane got mad at his scouting director for picking a high school pitcher in the first round. Beane sent Bonderman, Franklin German and Carlos Pena to Detroit. Bonderman is now a 24-year old major league pitcher who projects as a #2 or #3 starter, and Pena came out of nowhere this year to star for Tampa Bay. Beane got out of the deal Ted Lilly, Jason Arnold and John-Ford Griffin, none of whom have contributed anything recently to the A’s.

You say he wasn’t able to keep free agents, yet he did manage to keep Eric Chavez while trading two pitchers to the Pirates for Jason Kendall’s bloated contract. Kendall is such a poor thrower, I could steal second base on him. Beane paid Kendall $11 million in 2006 and $4 million in 2007 of his owed $13 million.

Anyway, as I said, I have way too much on my plate right now, but the above alone document your claim that “his approach has worked” is open to serious debate — not to mention that their farm system is seriously shallow of legitimate talent. If he’d taken that $11 million he flushed into Kendall last year and put it towards scouting/player development, it would have gone a lot farther — if his scouting staff had a good track record. The “Moneyball” draft suggests it’s spotty at best. They got Swisher and Blanton in that draft, but the others were a waste of money.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: