Thursday, November 13, 2008

2008 MLB Payrolls by position

You know, it's hard starting a blog. You try to find a voice, try to find a middle ground. I don't know enough math to be a stathead (though I am interested in it), and I don't know enough people inside the organization to be a breaking news site. So I work with what I can. I'm a guy who is moderately entertaining, and already with another full-time job, but I still want to bring some fresh commentary to the Astros - a team mostly the NL Central. We do what we can.

But today we are going to look at how the Astros have divvied up their payroll among the positions: Pitchers, Catchers, Infielders, Outfielders - and how it compares to the other 30 Major League teams.

Now before we start, a note. These are the 2008 payrolls at the end of the 2008 season. So Manny's salary belongs to the Dodgers. Jason Bay's belongs to the Red Sox. CC Sabathia's belongs to the Brewers. All salary information comes from ESPN's team roster page. September Call-ups are not included.


Pitching Staff:
Astros: $33,557,000
MLB Rank: 16th
NL Rank: 8th
MLB Average: $36,098,400

Astros: $2,795,000
MLB Rank: 18th
NL Rank: 7th
MLB Average: $5,451,460

Astros: $43,661,400
MLB Rank: 2nd
NL Rank: 1st
MLB Average: $23,412,668

Astros: $14,292,000
MLB Rank: 16th
NL Rank: 8th
MLB Average: $19,458,090

So some notes - first, note how cheap our outfield is. Bourn and Pence are CHEAP, like the budgie. Second, the Astros have a stinking expensive infield - only the Yankees paid more for their infield.

Now no payroll is created equal. Since the Rays and the Yankees exist in the same division, we can break this down further by percentage of payroll distribution. 25 out of the 30 teams spent more on pitching than any other part of their team. The five who didn't? The Yankees, Pirates, Nationals, A's and Astros. And you see how well that worked out for them.

Of the eight 2008 playoff teams, all of them spent more than 34% of their payroll on their pitching staff. Five of them (Cubs, Angels, Brewers, Phillies and Rays) spent more than 40% of their payroll on pitching, and a sixth - the Dodgers - spent 39.7% of their payroll on pitching. And the Phillies spent 46.1% and the Rays 44.4% of their payroll on pitching.

More later...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dayan Viciedo and the Houston Astros

Top Cuban defector P-1B-OF Dayan Viciedo, considered one of the top teen Cuban players, who defected last May, was scouted by all 30 Major League teams at the White Sox facility in Day One of a two-part workout (the next to be held at the Yankees' facility) in Girls' Mouth, Dominican Republic.

The Astros did hold an elite invitational showcase workout in June.

Anyhow, Viciedo was supposed to be 6'1" 210 lbs, but appeared to be much heavier. 100 scouts will add some pounds to you, as well...

Astros make pitch to Wolf

According to the Houston Chronicle:

"With free agency set to begin Friday, the Astros have made a contract offer to lefthander Randy Wolf and are still negotiating with the agent for relief pitcher Doug Brocail.

Astros general manager Ed Wade said today the club made an offer to Wolf this week but wouldn’t divulge details. Wade said he is awaiting further dialogue with the agents for Wolf and Brocail, both of whom could sign with other teams beginning Friday.

Thursday marks the final day of the 15-day exclusive negotiating window teams have with their own free agents."

Last year Wolf made about $9 million, once incentives were included. I think the only real incentive you need is: Play baseball for a living or Work at the post office.

However, $9 million for what should amount to a #3 starter...too much?

Wolf had two bad starts for the Astros: August 18 @ Milwaukee, 4 innings and 6 earned runs; September 14 @ Milwaukee against the Cubs in a totally understandable 2.2 innings and four earned runs (Ike). He lowered his season ERA 0.44 points in his time with the Astros, from 4.74 to 4.30. Wolf got 222 ground balls to 213 fly balls - and 57:82 ground ball:fly ball ratio in Houston with the Astros, but that's 46 ground bals and 32 fly balls (I refuse to count a home game in Miller Park) at Minute Maid. So he knows how to pitch in Minute Maid Park, only giving up one home run in Houston.

What the heck else are we gonna do?

Assessing the Astros' Pitching Rankings

A couple of days ago we looked at the Astros' Offensive (and they truly were) Rankings. Today we examine the pitching staff...

ERA: 4.36 - 16th in the Majors, 8th in the NL, but 4th in the NL Central
Hits allowed: 1453 - 13th, 9th in the NL
ER: 691 allowed - 15th, 7th in the NL
Runs allowed: 743 - 14th, 8th in the NL
Walks: 492 - 8th-best, 2nd in the NL
Strikeouts: 1095 - 15th, 9th in the NL
BAA: .264 - 17th, 11th in the NL
WHIP: 1.36 - 14th, 6th

Interesting. So they didn't really walk that many guys, but sure did give up some hits...
Let's continue, and remember these are against.

OBP: .328 - 13th, 5th
SLG: .440 - 27th, 14th
OPS: .768 - 22nd, 12th
Blown Saves: 17 - 6th, 2nd (only Philadelphia blew fewer saves, and they were all by relievers not named Brad Lidge)
Home Runs allowed: 197 - 29th, 15th (Only Cincinnati gave up more dingers)
Stolen Bases allowed: 47 - 1st, 1st
K:BB: 2.23:1 - 9th, 4th
Pitches Per Plate Appearance: 3.76 - 5th, 3rd

So the pitching was middle of the road. Control was pretty good - they didn't throw too many balls, however, that also led to batters teeing off on pitches, because the Astros were throwing mostly strikes, and also hitting the ball FAR (look at that SLG).

Soon we'll see how it broke down with the starters vs. bullpen.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Assessing the Astros' Offensive Rankings

Here we get to look back at 2008.

Runs scored: 712 - 22nd in the Majors, 11th in the NL
Hits: 1432 - 22nd, 9th
Doubles: 284 - 21st, 10th
Triples: 22 - 25th, 14th
Home runs: 167 - 16th, 8th
AB/HR: 32.6 - 15th, 8th
RBIs: 684 - 20th, 10th
Avg: .263 - 17th, 7th
OBP: .323 - 23rd, 12th
SLG: .415 - 17th, 9th
OPS: .737 - 20th, 10th

Strikeouts: 1051 - 16th-most, 10th-most
Walks: 449 - 3rd-worst, last in the NL (only Seattle and Kansas City drew fewer walks than the Astros
Stolen Bases: 114 - 9th, 5th
SB%: 69% - 22nd, 12th
Groundball-to-Flyball Ratio: 1.24:1 - 14th, 7th

So the Astros need some help with the bat. Of course 20% of those home runs were taken off the field when Carlos Lee got his pinky finger in the way of a breaking ball and his bat. In the coming day we'll see if there are any financial and statistical fits with free agency.

Monday Morning Update

Hey! Great news out of St. Louis for Astros fans this morning, as the Holliday-for-Anyone-But Pujols talks appear to be, in its present form, dead.

You would think that if St. Louis dealt for the (as of Opening Day 2009) 29-year old 6'4" 230 lb slugger, that would make Skip Schumaker expendable. It would be a definite upgrade at the position for the Cardinals, whose 174 home runs were 4th in the NL Central. Schumaker did play in 153 games in left field for the Cardinals, hitting .302 (.314 after the All-Star break) but only popping eight home runs and 46 RBI.

Holliday had 25 home runs in only 139 games for the Rockies in 2008 after missing some time with a strained left hamstring but his contract expires following 2009, signing a two-year $23 million contract last January.

On the roster now, the Rockies have three left-handed outfielders and the financial situation would make sense for the Rockies as well. Schumaker made $396,000 in 2008, while another name bandied about - Ryan Ludwick - made $411,000 in 2008. You can imagine Holliday would test the free-agent market, so the Rockies might as well see what they can get now.

Which, as Elias has determined, the Rockies would get some significant draft picks as compensation if they held on to Holliday and lost him in free agency...

With the Cardinals-Rockies in a stalemate, it looks as though the Phillies and Braves have the best chance as of now to land Holliday.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Wherefore Art Thou?: Jeriome Robertson

So here's a new feature we'll do every so often. Some player from Astros history and what they're up to now. Today we have Jeriome Robertson!

Jeriome Robertson was drafted in the 24th round of the 1995 draft by the Astros and stayed in the organization until 2004. Robertson went 0-2 in 2002 as a September call-up and took a place in the starting rotation in 2003 - you may remember his 15-9 season, with a 5.10 ERA. And maybe you even remember his start on September 26, 2003. The Astros were a game back of the Cubs going into a crucial series against the Brewers. Tim Redding won his 10th game of the year while the Reds beat the Cubs to even up the NL Central. Robertson took the ball in the Friday game...and then committed an error, got an out, then a single, walk, walk, single, and that was Robertson's day. The Astros lost 12-5 (no other pitcher lasted more than 2 innings). Then Ron Villone lost the next day while the Cubs won both games of a double-header, and that was 2003. Of course the Cubs lost on Sunday and the Astros won, so the final margin was one game.

But man, that ERA. Robertson won 15 games with a 5.10 ERA. Tim Redding had a 3.68 ERA, and went 10-14. And they traded him. Do you know who they got in the trade with the Indians? Luke Scott and Willy Taveras. That's Gerry Hunsicker, folks...

Robertson didn't do much as a reliever for the Indians in 2004, kicked around the Reds, Expos, Mets and spent 2007 with the Newark Bears of the independent Atlantic League, no news on 2008...