Monday, August 2, 2010

About this Myers extension...

So now that some time has passed, and I've had a little time to digest the news that, not only did the Astros not trade Brett Myers, they signed him to a two - possibly three - year extension. How do we feel?


Basically what Ed Wade is gambling on is that the 2010 version of the guy he drafted back in 1999, who is currently in the midst of a career year, is the real Brett Myers. And he will continue to be 2010 Brett Myers in 2011 and 2012, and possibly 2013. So what's going on with Myers now?

A couple of things:

*A look at his peripheral statistics shows us that Myers is striking out more batters per nine innings (7.01) than 2009 (6.37), but still lower than his career (7.44). It's not a huge drop - one K per three starts, essentially.

*But he is walking fewer batters per nine innings (2.61). This is actually the lowest number of walks per nine innings than at any point in his career to date.

*And he has also kept the ball in the park, allowing a career-best 0.74 HR/9 - the first time that number has been under 1.00 since his first full season in 2003 (0.93).

*His FIP is also a nice little 3.52. This is almost a full run below his career FIP (4.42). Is it uck, or just the process of getting out of Philadelphia and not being hurt, or Brad Arnsberg, or not being jerked around in the rotation/bullpen? Could be a combination of all three.

*Something else we can see is that it's not as though Myers is getting terribly lucky, BABIP-wise, sitting at .294 on the year. Strangely enough, last year, his BABIP was .273, so he's "unluckier" this year than he was later year, but he also gave up 2.29 HR/9 in 2009.

*Which leads us to this: He's getting more groundballs this year (49.8%) than he has at any other point since 2003, when it was just a shade better at 49.9%. Those line drives are also coming down, as are the flyballs. And in a remarkable turn of statistical events, only 8.5% of the flyballs he does allow are leaving the yard. Compare that to 2009, when 23.4% of his fly balls resulted in the batter taking an easy, 360' stroll.

*If we look at his pitch type (note: all these numbers come from his FanGraphs page), we see that Myers isn't relying on his fastball as much, throwing it 44.5% of the time, the lowest percentage of his career. He's also leaned heavily on a a slider - 28.1%, as opposed to a previous career high of 18.4% slider rate.

*The opposing batters' plate discipline should be noted, as well. According to FanGraphs, batters are swinging at 27% of his pitches outside of the strike zone - well above his career 22.1% average.

*So basically, batters are swinging more, making contact less, and not making good contact when they do. Does that add up to a pitcher worth $21 million? On a contending team, possibly. But does it make sense for a team who, in all likelihood, won't contend next year, and possibly the year after, to spend that kind of money on a starting pitcher?

*This year Myers has been worth $11.2m. On a $3.1m salary, that's great. On a $7m salary (2011) it's pretty dang good. On a $10m salary, he is running the risk of being of equal to his salary. And it's about time this team starts getting greater bang for its buck.

*To conclude: If 2010 Myers is the real Myers, this might not be such a bad deal. If this is not the real Brett Myers, then Ed Wade has made the fatal mistake of giving out a rich contract to a player in an unforeseen career year.