Ten Stray Thoughts On A Friday

Did you hear that? It sounds so close. Oh, there it is again. It’s freedom from the work week, and it’s calling your name. You’re almost there, champ. You’re in the homestretch. I know it’s been a long, hard week, but the weekend is so close. I know you can make it. All you need to get you through to the final minutes is the latest edition of Ten Stray Thoughts On A Friday.

Divisive Predictions

Making predictions isn’t normally my cup of tea, but they don’t call these “stray” thoughts for nothing. In terms of division winners, from the American League, I’m going with the Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox and the Oakland A’s surprising the Texas Rangers. In the National League, I like Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Colorado. As far as wild card teams go, I’d think that the Rangers, Rays, Twins and Yankees are the front runners in the AL, while the Braves, Giants and Reds stand the best chance in the NL. I think Oakland’s pitching, both rotation and bullpen, are going to surprise a lot of people this year.

An AL Central team winning the wild card?  Hang on, and read below.

El Sacko Predictions

I’m guessing that the Cleveland Indians will lose more games than the Kansas City Royals this year, but not a whole lot more.  Other cellar dwellers will be the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, Florida Marlins, Houston Astros and, wait for it, the Los Angeles Dodgers, most likely due to a lack of leadership.

Dollars Make Cents

If you take the $86 million that the Blue Jays saved by trading Vernon Wells, subtract Juan Rivera’s contract ($5.25 million), Frank Francisco’s salary (who was flipped for Mike Napoli) ($4 million), and the rumoured $5 million that the Jays are said to have given to the Angels, then add back the cash that they received from the Rangers for the Napoli / Francisco flip, you have roughly $73 million dollars.  Toss in the money that the Blue Jays saved by trading Shaun Marcum to the Brewers for Brett Lawrie ($4 million) and you get $77 million. If the Blue Jays pick up the option for Jose Bautista’s sixth year they will end up paying him $78 million over six years. That’s pretty close.

McGowan On My Mind

Still on the Blue Jays: Every time I see a tweet or sentence in a column mentioning Dustin McGowan throwing in a bullpen during Spring Training, I’m filled with a little bit of hope. I’m not even really hoping that he’ll find the success that he had during his first two years in the league. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that he finds some reward for trying so hard to come back after injuries seem to continually mount against him. There would be few better stories in Toronto this year if he were to come out of the bullpen and pitch effectively in relief.

Retirements Equal HoF Speculating

We got two major retirements in two days when Jim Edmonds announced that he won’t be playing anymore baseball one day after Gary Sheffield did the same. Whenever a good player retires, it’s the sworn duty of baseball bloggers to argue about their Hall of Fame eligibility. I haven’t thought it through precisely, but comparing how many years Sheffield played to Edmonds’ seven seasons of 5.5 WAR or better baseball, including four above 6.5, makes me think that the latter is more deserving than the former.

NCAA Baseball

Drew Fairservice and I were having a conversation about college baseball yesterday, and we both agreed that it’s about time that it take it’s place in popularity among college basketball and college football. Maybe this is only the case in Canada, but isn’t it a bit strange that college baseball has never been as accepted as the other two sports have been?

The thinking has always been that the short, early season contributed to athletic programs not considering it on par with basketball and football, but as warmer weather schools began investing more into their programs, popularity has been on the rise.

Here’s a very interesting article on the new rules governing the baseball bats that college players are allowed to use. I’m not sure if this is going to help a whole lot with the sports popularity, at least in the short run.

The Hard Way

Beyond The Boxscore has an excellent post about the players who get on base the hard way, through the hit by pitch. The story reminded me of the former Blue Jays resident black and blue player, Reed Johnson. Between 2003 and 2006 (inclusive), Reed Johnson was hit by 69 (!) pitches, second only to Jason Kendall’s 76. However, Kendall had 631 more plate appearances than Johnson.

Quick Question

So, um, does anyone know when Albert Pujols is up for free agency?

Self Promotion

As always, you can get the latest Getting Blanked stories to pop up in your Facebook news feed by clicking here, and “liking” our Facebook page. We’ll even have some original content in there once the season kicks off. And staying on the social media train, you can also follow me on Twitter here, and follow the other Getting Blanked contributors here and here.

Getting Booked

I’ve been putting off reading The Bullpen Gospels since it came out last year because I had a feeling I wasn’t going to like it and that I’d have to say bad things about it. Dirk Hayhurst seems like such a nice guy, who has gone out of his way to engage with fans, that I didn’t want to risk having anything bad to say about him. All that’s about to change with Getting Booked: The Second Chapter. For those wishing to participate in our book club on Monday, March 7th, I’d really encourage you to read or reread the book with a critical eye that separates the nice guy who’s talked with you on Twitter from the words he’s written in his book.

Comments (21)

  1. Much like college hockey, baseball is hurt by the perception, real or imagined, that the better players are in the pro ranks.

    Basketball gets away with it because it’s such a compelling postseason format; football gets away with it because the best college teams are equivalent to bad NFL teams.

  2. Agree regarding NCAA baseball. It’s not just in Canada either. When I lived in the US, the only time ESPN talked about it was during the College World Series. I think the biggest issue is recruiting and how many of the best players sign deals with MLB clubs rather than pursuing the NCAA. It’s the same with NCAA hockey as well. If players were forced to go to school before they pursued their professional dreams then I think that would make a significant difference both in interest and in funding for the sport (a lot of baseball players aren’t on full scholarship).

  3. That’s so funny, I bought the Bullpen Gospels in June and have put off reading it for the same reason.
    I’m reading The Baseball Codes right now, which explains that a lot of hitters who tend to get hit by pitches frequently are pencilled into the lineup right after a power slugger. The pitcher gets pissy and hits the next batter with a pitch out of frustration. Seems incredibly juvenile to me, but hey, who am I to judge? Was that the case with Reid Johnson, I wonder? Can’t remember off the top of my head.

  4. Stephen, the worst NFL team would roll over the best NCAA team in such a massacre that people would weep uncontrollably while watching it.

  5. Yeah that’s right, $78 MM is close to $86 MM, excellent insight. The difference is, we would be retaining a better hitter than Vernon Wells, for 2 more years than Wells, and for $8 MM less. So don’t act like the gain from moving of Wells’s contract was lost in this signing Jose. I love your perspective on most things, but honestly, I’m tired of reading you whine about this contract. The Jays did not sign him on the perception that he would repeat what he has done since September 2009, but that he could produce. Let’s see what he can do before crapping all over it.

  6. The Bautista contract is a bad precedent – one good year should not equal a big career payday. The contract may in turn out to be a good one, but the one year wonder is a phenomenom that is seen regularly in baseball. I hope that doesn’t happen here.

  7. @Eric Parkes’ entire argument with the Bautista contract relies on the assumption that he will regress considerably next season and that the level he established last season wasn’t “real.” There is nothing in his peripheral statistics to suggest that a major regression is coming (and he’s moved far past the point where the sample size is reliable: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/when-samples-become-reliable/), so he (and others) have resorted to making poor comparisons with players like Rich Aurilla and Carlos Pena that just don’t fit.

    Nobody has ever done what Bautista did last season (turn himself from a role player into the most powerful hitter in baseball, during a low-scoring, pitching era to boot). As much as we want to try to make sense of Bautista’s season, there are no precedents here. Nobody really knows what he’s capable of.

    But really, there are three scenarios here. He could other maintain a similar level to last year and regress at a natural pace, thereby making the contract a huge bargain. He could regress reasonably to the level that most projection systems have him this year (a 3.5-4 WAR player or so) and still earn his contract. Or he could completely crash down to pre-Sept. 2009 levels, turning this into a mini-albatross. I have yet to understand why some believe so adamantly that it will be the latter situation.

  8. And yeah, the worst NFL teams would destroy the best NCAA teams. With ease.

  9. NCAA basketball and football are more popular than NCAA baseball or hockey because the former are essentially feeder programs for the professional leagues. Baseball and hockey programs have to compete with the professional leagues minor league systems for talent.

    Also, I think a reason college baseball isn’t that popular is because, unlike basketball or football where you can attach yourself to a John Wall or a Tim Tebow and watch him playing in the professional league a few months after leaving college, college baseball stars are at least a year away from playing professionally when they leave college.

    I don’t know if the average fan is interested in following a players career from, say, LSU to Dunedin to New Hampshire to Las Vegas to Toronto.

  10. @Eric: Wow. You’re a whole new kind of idiot. That is kind of interesting that the amount they signed Bautista for is almost exactly the same amount that they saved this offseason. Parkes isn’t even criticizing it and you jump as though he is.

    @Fullmer: If Parkes is so crazy for suggesting a drop off in WAR to 3-4, why does Bill James, Marcel and every other predictor indicate similar numbers? And good luck maintaining that 21.7% HR/FB.

  11. I just read The Bullpen Gospels last week. It wasn’t what I expected exactly, but what still an enjoyable read. I’m not sure it’s that other-wordly.

  12. Hey Dave, if Parkes comes to an abrupt halt there is a good chance you’ll find yourself lodged so far up his ass that we will need the jaws of life to get you out.

  13. What is the maximum percentage of overall team payroll that should be offered to one superstar before it affects the team’s ability to perform? I read the arguement (probably here) about Arod’s contract in Texas. He did his job while his teamates underformed. No doubt Pujols is asking for so much that it may not make sense for many teams to sign him. If he is making 30% of the total team payroll, how can the team realistically compete. At 20%, that’s a $150 million payroll, $120 for the rest if the team. Does that make sense? What is the number?

  14. You can’t view it in terms of a universal percentage because it doesn’t account for players who are under their six years service time and getting paid at a reduced rate. A team analyzing its budget should account for the likelihood/unlikelihood of cheap talent at different positions.

    I don’t know who’s worse, Eric protecting his boyfriend Bautista from windmills or the Parkesciple coming to his master’s defense.

  15. #1. Dave, that’s easy, it’s because of Bautista’s lack of a track record and his pre-September 2009 stats holding him back. Considering the major changes he’s made as a hitter since then, the relevance of those stats is certainly in doubt. BTW, the reliability score on his Marcel projection is pretty low for a reason. (http://www.fangraphs.com/projections.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&type=marcel).

    #2. Even if Bautista regresses to a 3-4 WAR player this season, the deal still will end up paying off assuming a normal age regression in the next four years.

  16. @Fullmer: That’s according to FanGraphs. According to Bradbury, Jays overspent by $10 million.

  17. What’s the reason? Are you suggesting that Marcel isn’t a very accurate forecaster?

    http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/article/testing_the_2007_2010_forecasting_systems_official_results/

  18. The only way somebody could say the Jays overspent in any kind of an analysis is if they believe Bautista is in for some kind of massive regression. And as I’ve said, there’s no data in his stats to support that.

  19. Uh no, Tom. I’m simply telling you that the reliability score of Bautista’s Marcel projection is below that of most of the other players in the league this season. And the reason? Well it’s the last 7 months of his baseball career where he’s hit 64 HR with a 1.000 OPS and a .250 ISO.

  20. I do love the citation of projection systems on a player that completely destroyed his own projection last year, though.

  21. You’re thone bringing up projections when you talk about Bautista.

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