Saturday, December 27, 2008

It would be nice to be right about one of these unfounded rumors.

It's good for credibility. However, in Brian McTaggart's blog today, he mentions visiting with both Easy Eddie and Run-DMc.

Don't get your hopes up about Ben Sheets and Andy Pettitte (okay, I'm responsibe for the hope-raising of Andy Pettitte). A few snippets:

"They have plugged the holes with Mike Hampton, Jason Michaels and Aaron Boone, but won't be offering up any contracts to big-time free agents any time soon."

"Wade said the Astros would still like to find a utility infielder who could play shortstop."

Would that be a player similar to...say...Mark Loretta?

Ah well. Stay tuned. I'll get another idea soon.

The Yankees are very specific in their personnel odds

Anthony McCarren of the New York Daily News said a Yankees official gave odds of 55-45 against if Honest Andy doesn't learn some frickin' humility and take the $10 million.

All those guys they wouldn't trade for Santana have to earn a shot sometime, right?

It's been broken down like this:
1. Honest Andy wants to pitch in 2009.
2. Honest Andy wants $16 million.
3. The Yankees want Honest Andy to take $10 million.
4. Honest Andy is the Grumpus.
5. Honest Andy's return to the Yankees is somewhere between "doubtful" and "inevitable."
6. Not very helpful, huh?

So if Andy wants to pitch in 2009, but doesn't get what he thinks he should get, will he leave? He's done it before...twice.

The Oakland A's are not interested in reacquiring he who they let walk out the door six years ago

A source within the A's casually mentioned that they are not interested in trading for Miguel Tejada...

Though the A's have been attempting to upgrade at shortstop, they do not have interest in trading for Houston's Miguel Tejada, according to a team source.

And why would they? He'll earn more next year than he did in his entire four years in Oakland from 2000-2003. So the Orioles don't want him, the A's don't want him...yep, that takes care of it.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Maybe the Cardinals don't have any money, either.

Buster Olney wonders...

...if the Cardinals are among the many teams that have made some financial projections and decided to ratchet back their payroll, in the midst of their offseason moves. Some teams have done that by as much as $20 million, according to sources -- and more cuts may be forthcoming, as the teams get a clearer read on their season-ticket renewals.

By "some teams," of course we're talking about the Astros here, but you get the sense that the Astros taking more of a cautionary stance as far as payroll is concerned is the norm and not the exception.

Once the off-season settles down and free agents and arbitration come in, we'll revisit this November 13 post comparing how the Astros spent their money in 2008, but you have to wonder if the Cardinals aren't spending money now in order to reserve the cash necessary to resign Albert Pujols, whose current contract ends in 2010 (with a club option for 2011, which will definitely be exercised unless, you know...he slams his wife's head into a car.

It will be interesting to see how payrolls are affected in 2009.

Yankees leaning towards "No"

Given the Yankees recent indications of fiscal restraint, the Bronx Bummers are leaning towards not resigning Andy Pettitte to a one-year deal. Pettitte wants $16 million. For 14-14 with a 4.54 ERA (the AL average was 4.44), the Yankees are strongly encouraging Honest Andy to take a $6 million pay cut.

Says Kat O'Brien of Newsday:
Still, even the Yankees have limits. As of midday Wednesday, a final decision had not been made on whether the one-year, $10-million contract offer to Pettitte still was on the table. An inside source said the Yankees at that point were inclined to stick with their team as is.

Pettitte seems willing to move down from $16 million, but not as low as $10 million. You know what the cost of living in Deer Park is, don't you? So if Pettitte gets pissed about getting the cornhole from the Yankees, could he grow disgruntled and take it out on the NL Central? Would you even want him to?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Might the Astros sign Andy Pettitte now?

Buster Olney - on whom I have a man-crush - is reporting one surprising Loser in the Teixeira signing is Andy Pettitte. Do you wonder if the Yankees have buyer's remorse the morning after?

The Yankees might now re-evaluate their one-year, $10 million offer to Andy Pettitte. This is the automotive equivalent of buying a Jaguar and getting cloth seats. You've already spent $60,000 on a car - spend the extra $1,000 and get the leather seats!

We all know Andy is one to get his feelings hurt (regard his bolting Houston for the Bronx two days after the Astros inquired about Jon Garland). So no doubt this isn't sitting well in Deer Park. Could the Astros swoop in and be the rebound girl for Andy? You know, the one who isn't as pretty, but she'll...well, you know.

But here's what I don't get: there's no reason to think the Yankees have won the World Series. Ask the Rangers, who paid $252 million for A-Rod, and then didn't win. Ask the 2001-2008 Yankees, who have accomplished two goals: (1) Jack. (2) Crap. They've had the highest payroll in the Majors all of those years, yet have done absolutely nothing. Are the Yankees better than they were last year? Of course. But they were a third-place team last year. Their rotation is better for two days out of five, that's it. Adding Burnett might off-set the loss of Mussina. Of course Teixeira is better than Giambi, but he didn't exactly set off fireworks for the Angels in the playoffs, did he (well, he did hit .467)? And who did the Angels lose to? The Red Sox! Dammit, I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!

The Nationals should thank God that Scott Boras did what Scott Boras does - and that's eat the soul of baseball for breakfast. Because he saved them from a fate that Texas is only just now recovering from: overpaying for 11% of a lineup.

Stop overreacting! For the love of God it's Christmas! How good will it feel when the Rays are better than the Yankees AGAIN? In a small sample set, Teixeira was 0-for-4 against Boston in the regular season. Against Tampa Bay, he was 1-for-9. And don't you think the Rays have upgraded with David Price in the rotation, or at least pitching in 75 games in '09. Have some perspective! Those unproven, young guys in St. Petersburg? They now have experience and are proven. Stop handing the Yankees the trophy, because remember: the Astros have won more post-season games than the Yankees since 2004.

But as I was saying, might Andy mope back to Houston? It's worth a shot...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What the Teixeira deal means for Lance Berkman

All Major League first basemen should have a Christmas card out to Mark Teixeira and Scott Boras today. Because the next time their contracts are up - they all get to point to Mark Teixeira with their pockets out and say "What about him?"

Which got me thinking about your friend and mine, Lance Berkman. His current 6-year, $85 million deal expires - presuming the Astros exercise the club option in 2011 - in 2012. Berkman will be 36.

Mark Teixeira is 28. So I started wondering, since the Yankees just paid double what the Astros pay for Berkman, how the switch-hitting first basemen compare through age 28. Both broke in when they were 23 (Berkman, for only 34 games) - so we'll take their first six full seasons. In Berkman's case we're talking about 2000-2005. In Teixeira's we're obviously taking 2003-2008.

Berkman: 873
Teixeira: 904

Berkman: 3058
Teixeira: 3414

Berkman: 929
Teixeira: 989

Berkman: .304
Teixeira: .290

Berkman: 227
Teixeira: 223

Home Runs
Berkman: 176
Teixeira: 203

Berkman: 602
Teixeira: 676

Berkman: 593
Teixeira: 694

Berkman: .562
Teixeira: .541

Too hard to determine right now.

Well that's very interesting. Berkman was a three-time All-Star in his first six seasons; Teixeira? One. Top ten in MVP voting? Berkman - three. Teixeira? One. Did the Yankees overpay? Uhhhh....don't they always?

Let's just be happy that Lance will be 36 when he's renegotiating...

Astros sign Clay Hensley

Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post is reporting the Astros signed right-handed pitcher Clay Hensley to a one-year, $550,000 deal.

Hensley is 29 and the Padres used him in a set-up, relief role. In 32 games in 2008 (39 innings), Hensley posted a 5.31 ERA, 1.56 WHIP with 26 Ks to 25 BBs. Righties hit .221 off him - lefties hit .288.

As I've mentioned, it's not hard for a reliever to run up a huge ERA, so let's take a closer look at him.

July 2008:
Hensley gets a start at Pittsburgh and gives up six earned in five innings. Boom.
He makes one other appearance in which he gives up a run.

13 appearances - gives up earned runs in three (doesn't record an out on Aug 27, giving up two runs.

12 appearances - earned runs in six. Includes a Sept 1-11 run where he gives up runs in three of four games.

So we're talking about a guy who blanked the opposistion in 21 of the 32 games in which he pitched. Take out that spot start and his ERA drops to 4.63.

Now this is interesting: When used on consecutive days, Hensley posted an ERA of 11.81. When given a day off in between appearances, his ERA dropped to 2.08 and batters hit .161 against him. When given two days off, his ERA was 2.70. On 3-5 days rest, Hensley's ERA was 9.82.

So use him often, just don't use him everyday. The middle of the order teed off on him. 3-4-5 hitters went 14-for-39 (.359 average) off him, too.

$550,000 is low-risk, high-reward. Another sub-radar move, no splash, but could be solid throughout the season.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Huh? Part 2: MLV

Well VORP was fun, yes? In getting some feedback, I've decided to knock off the math involved to finding these statistics, and boil it down to a gist. Because I feel like we'll all let someone else do the math, we just want to know what it means. Am I wrong? E-mail me.

Today we're getting into MLV. MLV stands for Marginal Lineup Value - and like VORP, deals with comparing a player to a fictional "average" player in the lineup. Since runs are good in baseball (there's a point, this isn't the gist) and outs are bad, MLV is, according to Baseball Prospectus: "an estimate of the additional number of runs a given player will contribute to a lineup that otherwise consists of average offensive performers."

So with MLV, there are a number of calculations - and assumptions - needed to get close, but it has to do with the runs a team scores and the team's offensive statistics. The player's contribution is found by the effect he has on the team's offensive statistics (BA, OBP, SLG, etc...), based on a proportionate number of plate appearances.

Like VORP, the higher the MLV the better, but MLV projects how a player affects his team. VORP projects how much better (or worse) a player is over a Scrub.

On to the Astros. The players with the three highest MLVs in '08 were:
Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee and Ty Wigginton (same as VORP)

And once again, Michael Bourn rounded out the worst MLV on the team, though it's worth noting that Miguel Tejada, Geoff Blum and Darin Erstad all had negative MLVs, as well.

You're mad at the Astros? Let's see how everyone else is doing...

So I got to thinking last night, as I couldn't sleep, "This offseason no esta bueno." The Astros haven't made many big splashes - at least that one would consider to be major - or minor - upgrades. Which led me to begin to consider how the other teams in our division are doing this offseason. Let's take a look, shall we?

Chicago Cubs:
Re-signed Ryan Dempster
Re-signed Chad Fox
Signed Joey Gathright
Traded for Gregg Olson

Verdict so far: They have someone who can take the bat out of that God-awful Fukudome's hands. Remember his swing the last month of the season? He looked like he was using his bat to get water out of his sinking canoe. So I think they could sign that Cubs-loving Billy Corgan to play right field and it would be an upgrade. Olson is a good pick-up - but they let Wood walk to get him.

Milwaukee Brewers:
Re-signed Mike Lamb
Re-signed Chris Capuano
Signed Jorge Julio
Signed Trot Nixon

Verdict: Yeah, that makes up for C.C. not being in the rotation.

St. Louis Cardinals:
Signed Trever Miller

Pittsburgh Pirates:
Signed Ramon Vasquez

Cincinnati Reds:
Re-signed Mike Lincoln
Offered arbitration to David Weathers (who accepted)
Signed Arthur Rhodes

Verdict: Bolstered their pitching staff, but there are other issues at play in Cincinnati - like when Dusty Baker is going to let Johnny Cueto throw 631 pitches in a game.

Houston Astros:
Signed Aaron Boone
Signed Jason Michaels
Signed Mike Hampton
Re-signed Doug Brocail


Keep in mind it's not even Christmas yet, and there is a lot of off-season yet to pan out. We're not even to the good bowl games just yet. Just also keep in mind that the Astros are as busy as anyone in the NL Central. Nobody has made any real splashy moves yet in our division, and the Cubs and Brewers have just let high-profile guys walk out the door, too.