Saturday, November 22, 2008

Totally unrelated baseball news

Dodgers pitcher Chad Billingsley broke his leg slipping on the ice outside his home in Reading, Pennsylvania.

If you're making $415,000 - which Billingsley did in 2008, and is due for a raise - there is no reason to spend any time in Reading, PA. Especially if you know what the weather can do in Los Angeles.

Verdict? Billingsley's fault. Ice 1, Billingsley 0.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Adam Dunn and the Houston Astros

Well, this is a familiar topic. It seems every off-season Adam Dunn's name comes up as a potential target for the Astros.

Born in Houston and still only 29 (and just turned 29 in the last couple of weeks), The Big Donkey would bring some pop to the lineup. But wait, there's more.

Let's see what this would do to Houston's lineup, because we already have a first-baseman: Future HOFer Lance Berkman. To bring in Dunn, who has played 1B, LF and RF, means moving somebody. So who would it be? If you put him at first base, Berkman moves to right field, which moves Pence to center, which moves Bourn to Round Rock.

If you put Dunn in left field, you put El Caballo in right and Pence in center and Bourn to Round Rock. As much word-play fun as it would be to have a horse and a donkey in the outfield, I can't imagine Easy Eddie being willing to dump Bourn - the main piece of the puzzle in the Lidge trade.

But let's look at some statistics:
Dunn's 79 runs would have put him in third place on the Astros.
122 hits would be fifth
23 doubles would be sixth
40 homers would be first...by 11
265 total bases would be third
100 RBI would be tied for second
164 Ks would be first on the team...by 40 (can you imagine a guy who makes Hunter Pence look like he has the patience of Hank Aaron?)
.236 BA would be 11th among guys who played in 100 games. Hell, Bourn hit .229
However, .386 OBP would be second on the team.
.513 SLG would be fourth
.899 OPS would be third

Dunn has also batted below the league average every single year. Granted, SLG and OPS have been above league average every single year. So there's no doubt that he would be an offensive catalyst, but where do you put him? Not first. Not in left. Not in right. Third? Guy's never played there. He also made $13 million last year. That's not going to sit well with Run-DMc for a guy who could probably command a 3- or 4-year deal at about $40 million or so who would push the franchise player out of his favored position.

No Adam Dunn.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Rule 5 Draft Protectees

So the Astros added Tommy Manzella, Drew Sutton, Polin Trinidad and Brian Bogusevic to the roster to keep them from being selected in December's Rule 5 draft.

What is the Rule 5 Draft? Held every December at the GM Winter Meetings (this year in Las Vegas), the basic idea is to keep Major League teams from stockpiling talent that other teams could use for their 25-man roster. The regular amateur draft, held every June, is technically the Rule 4 draft (thanks to its place in the collective bargaining agreement).

Teams who don't have any spots on their 40-man roster cannot participate in the Rule 5 draft and the draft order is based on final place in the standings. However, if a team drafts a player in the Rule 5 draft, he has to stay on the 25-man roster all season. He can't be optioned to the minors or designated for assignment. The team is allowed to waive the Rule 5 selectee - if he clears waivers, he goes back to the team that did not protect him.

Players who are 19 years old or above when they sign are protected from the Rule 5 draft for three years. Each draft selection costs $50,000 to prevent just picking anybody, I guess.

The Astros have been fairly active in the Rule 5 draft. 1999, Gerry Hunsicker is the GM. Hunsicker, in one of only a very few questionable moves in his time with the Astros, decides not to protect a young pitcher named Johan Santana - who is then selected by the Florida Marlins, who trades him to the Twins.

Astros selections in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 draft over the last ten years (no pick in omitted years):
2007 - Wesley Wright
2006 - Lincoln Holdzkom (returned to the Cubs)
2003 - Willy Taveras
1998 - Current Director of Pacific Rim Scouting (or something like that) Glen Barker

Other notable Major Leaguers selected in the Rule 5 draft include:
Shane Victorino (twice)
Josh Hamilton - who was taken by the Cubs, and then traded for cash to the Reds. Can you imagine an outfield of Soriano, Hamilton, and some other scrub?
Scott Podsednik (whose 2005 Game 1 World Series homer I watched today in front of a room full of kids, and had to try not to cry. Or swear.)
Joakim Soria
Dan Uggla
Bobby Bonilla
Roberto Clemente. That's right. Clemente.

What about Huston Street

You've got to wonder. Richard Justice reports that the Astros are likely to move Jose Valverde (and Ty Wigginton).

The Colorado Rockies are sitting back and waiting for offers for former University of Texas closer Huston Street (and Garrett Atkins).

Well, what do you know. The Astros would be in the market for a closer and a third baseman, and the Rockies are listening to offers. Given that the Astros and Rockies have dealt with each other before (remember Willy Taveras for Jason Johnson), could this be on the backburner?

Let's take a look at payroll, because that's a consideration for Drayton McLane (DMCs, as he will now be known):

Garrett Atkins made $4,837,500 in 2008 (and is not currently under contract)
Huston Street made $3,300,000 in 2008 (and is not currently under contract), both signing to avoid arbitration.

So that's taking on - at the minimum - $8,137,500 in salary, but sure to go up in 2009.

Jose Valverde made $4,700,000 and is eligible for arbitration in 2009.
Ty Wigginton made $4,350,000 and is eligible for arbitration in 2009.

It's doubtful that the Rockies would want to take on the salaries, but with the Rockies likely losing Fuentes and waiting for offers on Street, you never know. And what do you call a blog that doesn't start baseless rumors? Boring.

Valverde doesn't have much of a sample size, but since 2006 Valverde has pitched in 9 games at Coors Field, giving up no homers and posting a 2.55 ERA.

If the Astros are planning on cutting payroll to accommodate other players' escalating salaries, then this doesn't make much sense. Especially since $3.5 million is a lot to pay LaTroy Hawkins to pitch in the 7th inning, they could be setting him up to close.

What do you think?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Andy Pettitte (does not) heart the Astros

One of the brothers Hendricks says Pettitte will not take a pay cut from his 2008 $16 million salary. Bye bye, Astros.

Monday, November 17, 2008

From Rob Neyer...

Congratulations to Albert Pujols. The League's best player for a 4th place team. 2-time MVP.

This is from Rob Neyer's blog today...

Pujols' statistics are so impressive that he was always going to be the most popular choice from a non-playoff team. But must he be the only popular choice? Lance Berkman's totals weren't as impressive as Pujols', but Berkman's clutch performance was even more impressive. When games were late and close -- in the seventh inning or later, with his team tied, ahead by one, or with the tying run at least on deck -- Berkman batted .354/.447/.823, with 10 homers in only 79 at-bats. Those numbers are what push Berkman slightly ahead of Pujols in Win Probability Added, which is about as good a measure of value as you'll find. At least purely in terms of hitting.

Here's how the voting shook out:

1. Pujols, 369 votes (18 first place votes)
2. Ryan Howard, 308 (12)
3. Ryan Braun, 139
4. Manny Ramirez!, 138
5. Lance Berkman, 126
6. CC Sabathia, 121
7. David Wright, 115
8. Brad Lidge, 104
9. Carlos Delgado, 96
10. Aramis Ramirez, 66
11. Hanley Ramirez, 55
12. Chipper Jones, 44
13. Geovany Soto, 41
14. Johan Santana, 30
15. Chase Utley, 30
16. Ryan Ludwick, 17
17. Brandon Webb, 14
18. Adrian Gonzalez, 13
19. Matt Holliday, 13
20. Prince Fielder, 11
21. Derrek Lee, 10
22. Carlos Beltran 10
23. Tim Lincecum, 9
24. Jose Reyes, 3
25. Jose Valverde, 3
26. Stephen Drew, 2
27. Nate McClouth, 1