Friday, February 5, 2010

Tommy Manzella: The Time Has Come

Sporting News' Stan McNeal has a post on ten rookies who could make an impact for their respective major league teams. Tommy Manzella is one of those rookies. Take it away, McNeal:

A third-round pick in 2005, he batted .268 in 1,991 minor league at-bats but defense is considered his strength. Manzella was called up last September but because Miguel Tejada was chasing personal milestones, Manzella batted only five times, striking out four times.

Tejada's departure left an opening at shortstop. Instead of bringing in a veteran, the Astros decided the time has come for the 26-year-old Manzella.

Expect Manzella to solidify his starting status in spring training. His defense is major league-ready and he has improved with the bat.

A long note on Plate Discipline

As I feel like I'm slacking off a little bit, I thought I'd try to do something to redeem myself by taking a significant amount of time to look at the plate discipline of our chosen team. All data is courtesy of FanGraphs.

A note: I set the minimum PAs at 200. This way we don't take Chris Johnson, who was swinging just to get a little exercise, out of context.

A Glossary:
O-Swing%: Percentage of pitches outside the strike zone resulting in a swing
O-Contact%: Pitch% outside of the strike zone in which a batter made contact
Z-Swing%: Pitch% inside the strike zone resulting in a swing
Z-Swing%: Pitch% inside the strike zone resulting in contact
Swing%: Total percentage of pitches resulting in a swing
Contact%: Total percentage of pitches in which a batter made contact


A few things to note here:

-The two players who would swing at the highest percentage of pitches outside of the strike zone (Pudge - 38.9% and Tejada - 32.5%) are gone. And Blum, with the 4th-highest percentage, has been reduced to a utility role.
-Jeff Keppinger is incredibly selective, but we already knew that. That said, he had the highest percentage of contact with pitches outside of the strike zone.
-Hunter Pence has the lowest rate of contact on the team (76.7%)
-I didn't list it in the above table, but Lance Berkman saw the fewest percentage of pitches in the strike zone (45.4%). Next was Geoff Blum (?) (46.2%).

It's an appropriate time to list Pedro Feliz in here, and if we could, we'd put Tommy Manzella and Towles/Quintero. But we can't. Sample size is too small. So Happy Pete it is (with Blum relisted for comparative purposes):


So. Feliz swings at a slightly higher percentage of pitches outside the strike zone, but connects more often. He also is more selective inside the strike zone than Blum, but also connects more often. Feliz also swings more often, and makes more contact. Yay.

For a note of qualification, this is just a look at plate discipline, not batting average, slugging percentage, ball placement, etc. We're just looking at who pounces on strikes, and who lays off balls. (snickering).


Nocturnal Emissions, Vol. 2

This time, it's Brian McTaggart with a sunshine and rainbows profile on Bud Norris:

Born and raised in Marin County, just north of San Francisco, the 24-year-old has taken his panache and his powerful right arm across the country in search of his dream of playing in the Major Leagues -- a goal he fulfilled last year, when he appeared in 11 late-season games with the Astros.

Norris doesn't figure to be wearing a cowboy hat anytime soon, but he's purchased a townhouse in Houston and hopes to make Texas his home for a long time. He'll report to Spring Training in two weeks as one of the favorites to win a job in the Astros' starting rotation.

Not too bad for a fast-talking Cali kid who grew up snowboarding and playing golf...

...Norris finished last year 6-3 with a 4.53 ERA, and he hopes that his days of sleeping on the floor of the bus during long rides in the Minor Leagues are over. Just to make sure, he's been working out in the offseason at Minute Maid Park with several teammates, including Minor League prospect Evan Englebrook, a 6-foot-8 pitcher who's bunking at Norris' townhouse.

And, of course, being 24 years old, there's plenty time for video games. Norris and Englebrook, not wanting to immerse themselves in baseball, bought a soccer game for Xbox 360 and have been spending hours trying to win the World Cup. Competition knows no offseason...

...All in all, life is good for Bud Norris in his new hometown. He's gotten acquainted with the Galleria, has attended a Houston Rockets game and enjoys hanging out with friends. And earlier this week he was even recognized in a restaurant by some Astros fans, who yelled his name and gave him a wave.

Perhaps the California kid has found a home, after all.

So not too emitting, but this is one tag that will be sure to see a number of entries as we go through Spring Training.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Chris Sampson and J.R. Towles: Good guys, apparently

Chris Sampson and J.R. Towles are pretty decent guys, according to Brian McTaggart and the little fella from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

First workouts released

Thank you, Jesus. Spring Training is almost here, and with MLB releasing the workout dates, it's even more tangible. So to save you the click of a button...

Astros 1st Pitchers & Catchers workout: Saturday, February 20
1st Full Workout: Wednesday, February 24

Now someone make sure Carlos Lee knows these dates.

Jared Wells assesses the Astros' pitching situation

Recent signee Jared Wells signed with the Astros for a few reasons:

“I did take a little less to come down this way. For a long time, I’ve wanted to take my chance here and my agent told me to take the deal because he knew what they have and he thought it was a good fit...

...“The only thing I am disappointed about is not going to Big League camp. I’ve been going the last three years, but knowing that they need pitching help, I am taking the opportunity. They have a new manager and some guys will be on short leashes, especially the ones who are not established.”

And he knows what he's got going on:
"I tell you, what the Astros are getting is a good starter or reliever who has done both throughout his minor league career. But I will do whatever it takes —whether it is middle relief — but ultimately I’d like to be the seventh-, eighth- or ninth-inning guy. They are getting someone who can throw between 93 to 95 mph...

“Worst case scenario, I will start in Double-A but will only be three hours away from home in Corpus Christi. Or I could be three hours away from Austin, the Triple-A team. Being from this area, I’ve always wanted to play for them, and knowing they need pitching I just need to get to work.”

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Astros sign 18-year old first baseman

The Astros have signed 18-year old Nicaraguan first baseman Mesac Laguna (captip to MLBTR).

Thanks to the wonder of two years of college Spanish and Google Translate, we can find these tidbits:

Laguna is 6'2, 190lbs
He was signed by the Astros' Nicaraguan scout Leo Guevara
Laguna will play in the Venezuelan or Dominican Winter League in 2010

How this arbitration hearing will work

The Biz of Baseball has an excellent breakdown of how Wandy's arbitration case will likely proceed. Read the whole thing, but let's pull this:

-The club and player representatives exchange their “exhibits”, usually in binder form. This allows each side to prepare for any rebuttals in the process. While players often attend salary arbitration hearings, it is not mandatory.
-The hearings start with a one-hour argument for the player making the case for the asking figure they are seeking.
-After arguments for the player, management then has an hour to make their case for their offering figure.
-The one-hour arguments are then followed by 30 min. rebuttals for each side (player goes first, then club).
-The panel of three arbitrators then rule, normally within 48 hours, as to which salary figure (player, or club) that the player will earn during the upcoming season. There is no middle ground.

Please, no

Bernardo Fallas' new blog post poses the question, "Should the Astros sign Willy Taveras?"

And while the question is valid, because there's not much else to talk about, Fallas lays out the pros and cons.

For one, he is a known commodity.
And he would bolster the outfield depth.
Also, if healthy, he can put up decent numbers - his career high for stolen bases is 68 in 2008. He is a career .276 batter with a .321 OBP.

Taveras is due to make good money this year (about $4 million) under the contract he signed with the Reds...
...Also, the Astros don't have room on the 40-man roster and would have only a minor-league spot to offer him. With an invitation to spring training, of course.
And finally, the Astros already signed Cory Sullivan and Jason Michaels for outfield depth. Taveras does provide something the other two don't: speed.

You know who else would fill all of these needs: Yordany Ramirez. Young, cheap, fast. Just look:

I would think about using my Lucky Astros Shirt as a poo-scoop if the Astros entertained the idea of signing Willy Taveras.

Minor League Ball takes on Bud Norris

It's an excellent read, so click the link and read it all, but let's pull out the most significant lines:

Norris threw 176 innings last year, the most he's ever thrown and more than double his '08 innings. I think the Astros need to monitor his workload carefully this year, especially when he gets past the 100 inning mark. Assuming he avoids further elbow problems, I think Norris will be a league-average pitcher in 2010, then take a larger step forward in 2011.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Blum ready to play any/every position

McTaggart has been busy. Now he has an article about Blum's impending utility-ness:

"My role's been different every year I played. The opportunities always seem to be there, luckily, with my ability to play a couple of different positions. If it's not third base, hopefully I can give guys a break at second, short or first, if necessary, but my role is definitely going to be different than last year. I made the most of my starts last year at third base, and now I've got to wait and see where they're going to come from, probably pinch-hitting or off the bench. That's what I did two years ago when I came to Houston. I'm comfortable with it, and I'm glad they extended a contract to me and brought me back...

..."There's going to be more pressure doing one at-bat per game than four, but as far as physically, it's going to be less stressful on me at my particular age. I want to win, and I'm going to do whatever it takes to win and whatever they ask me, I will."

And he's saying the things that get you named Easy Eddie's Employee of the Month:
"I appreciate the fact they didn't panic and go out and sign a ton of free agents. I know payroll issues had something to do with it, but I know the additions they did make will definitely help our ballclub be better."

If you sent your resume to Kissimmee and haven't heard anything, then don't quit your job

McTaggart has another piece of information for us, telling us that Hector Mercado has been named pitching coach of the GCL Astros for 2010.

Make money money, make money money money!

Brian McTaggart is telling us the following players will be making the following amounts of money in 2010:

Alberto Arias: $415,000
Brian Bogusevic: $400,000
Sam Gervacio: $402,500
Yordany Ramirez: $400,000
Polin Trinidad: $400,000

If you see them on the street, make them buy you a drink.

Chacin: Invitee to indispensable?'s Doug Miller throws together a list of players who could go from non-roster invitees to indispensable cogs in the team's...wheel (right metaphor?).

And Gustavo Chacin makes that list:

In 2005, while with the Blue Jays, Chacin finished fifth in AL Rookie of the Year voting after going 13-9 with a 3.72 ERA in 203 innings at the age of 24. He wore glasses on the mound. He had style. Injuries and eventual shoulder surgery in 2007 slowed him down, but he re-emerged in the Phillies organization in 2009 and was healthy enough to pitch 115 1/3 respectable innings, carving out a 3.20 ERA in 19 starts.

And today I turn 30

Today is my 30th birthday. This reality has been hard on me. /Moment of silence.

So aside from wondering what you, dear reader, did on your 30th birthday (if you've hit it yet. If you haven't, hold on for dear life.), I got to wondering this morning as I got out of bed and heard my hip pop: who had the best baseball season in a year they turned 30?

5. Jesse Burkett
The Hall of Famer hit .400 twice, but in 1899 Burkett posted the highest batting average in baseball history for a 30-year old player, hitting .396/.463/.500, with 71 RBI and 25 stolen bases.

4. Hack Wilson
As a 30-year old in 1930 Hack Wilson set the all-time record for RBI in a season with 191. It would take Geoff Blum approximately 13 years to acheive this. But that's not all. Wilson also led the NL with 56 home runs, 105 walks, and posted a .356/.454/.723 line.

3. Ted Williams
There was a stretch of ten years (seven seasons - Williams lost 1943-1945 to the War) in which Ted Williams led the League in OBP, culminating in Williams' 1949 season as a 30-year old. In 1949, Williams also led the AL in games, plate appearances, runs scored, doubles, home runs, RBI, and walks. Williams walked 162 times in 1949, and only struck out 48 times, while posting a .343/.490/.650 line.

2. Ichiro Suzuki
Future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki set the single season hits record in 2004 with 262 hits - breaking George Sisler's record - when he was 30. This makes him my hero. Ichiro also hit .372/.414/.455, striking out only 63 times in 762 plate appearances. In 2004, Ichiro had five 4-hit games, 14 3-hit games, and 54 2-hit games.

1. Ty Cobb
Ty Cobb led the AL in a number of categories over the years, including beating up handicapped fans, but in 1917, a 30-year old Cobb led the AL in hits (225), doubles (44), triples (24), - he finished 4th in the AL with six homers - stolen bases (55), batting average (.383), OBP (.444), and SLG (.570), posting a career-high OPS+ of 209.

And yes, this does make me feel better.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Harvey Schiller spits in the face of your "deadlines"

A fair and balanced story from says that talks between Drayton and former USOC Chief Harvey Schiller "remained active" today.

Sale discussions between Astros owner Drayton McLane and a group including former USOC executive Dr. Harvey Schiller remained active Monday, despite the closing of an exclusive 30-day window, according to a source familiar with the talks.

McLane issued a statement through the team on Monday, saying that Schiller's group didn't make a formal offer during the exclusive window. But the source hinted that such an offer could be forthcoming. In his statement, McLane didn't rule out selling the Astros. Perhaps that is an indication of his willingness to part with a team that he has owned since 1993.

One thing that I had temporarily lost sight of was that, just because an offer didn't come yesterday, it doesn't mean that Drayton won't sell the team. Stay tuned. This story is ongoing...

The Astros, along with everybody else, won't be watching Noah Lowry tomorrow

SI is reporting that Noah Lowry's scheduled throwing session has been pushed back to allow for some more time to throw bullpens, and not because he hurt himself.

His agent, Damon Lapa, said the pitcher has not sustained a setback but decided it would be best to first throw a few more bullpen sessions before being evaluated in the private workout. He has no physical limitations and is pain-free.

Maury Brown: Get used to the idea of the Astros' sale

The Biz of Baseball's Maury Brown has a note about the on-again-off-again sale of the Astros:

Astros do not own some or all of a regional sports network, and Minute Maid Park, the home of the club, is owned by the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority. The Astros have a 30-year lease that began in 2000 and runs till 2029, with annual payments of $7.1 million. According to Forbes’ most recent report from last year, there was still $55 million in outstanding debt on the facility. The magazine’s annual valuation report for the 30 clubs in Major League Baseball ranked the Astros 12th in the league at $445 million, down 4 percent from $463 million in their 2008 publication. Based on Forbes most recent report from April of 2009, the operating income for the Astros, a measure of profitability, was $17 million.

Based upon McLane’s lofty asking price, and the club’s current valuation, it’s very possible that the Astros will remain on the market for some time.

CBS' Fantasy Outlook is not kind to Hunter Pence

CBS' Scott White breaks down the Astros' 2010 Fantasy Outlook, and as you can imagine, it's not pretty. Some highlights:

Breakout Pick: Bud Norris
But the 25-year-old right-hander showed enough improvement over 10 starts last year to at least enter the discussion in mixed leagues. He rebounded from a rocky start to post a 1.57 ERA and 1.17 WHIP over four September starts, recording 24 strikeouts in 23 innings. His shaky command might prevent him from making a real impact in Fantasy, which is why he'll go undrafted in most leagues, but his strikeout potential makes him worth watching right out of the gate. If he picks up where he left off last September, you'll want to pick him up off the waiver wire.

Bust Pick: Hunter Pence
As one of the few Astros hitters with upside, Pence seems like an odd choice as a bust candidate. But perception is nine-tenths of the law in Fantasy, and the perception on Pence gives him more credit than he deserves. Yes, he made his first All-Star team last year, and yes, he slightly improved his batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. But some publications give the impression he made miles and miles of progress last year, and that's simply not true. In fact, he actually regressed in the second half, walking less, striking out more and posting a mediocre .792 OPS. His 27 years of age is the only indication he's on the verge of a breakthrough, and that's not reason enough to pass on players like Carlos Quentin, Jason Kubel and Johnny Damon for him.

Keep in mind, White also has Gil de la Vara as a "best of the rest," and he was returned to the Royals last March.

Drayton did not receive an offer yesterday

Richard Justice is saying Drayton did not receive an offer yesterday - which was, of course, the deadline for the exclusive negotiating rights with Faceless Conglomerate of New York.

Way to take advantage of your exclusive window, FCNY!

Further nice words about B.J. Hagen

Here are some nice words about recent signee B.J. Hagen, from Traverse City Director of Baseball Operations Jason Wuerfel:

"Hagen got better and better as the summer went on, and in the end, had too good of numbers for someone not to notice. He has a deceptive delivery and throws on a hard, downward plane, which can make a 88-90mph fastball look like a 95-97mph fastball. As he built confidence down the stretch, he was unhittable."

Love. It.

New PECOTA not as fun as old PECOTA

The newest PECOTA projections aren't as kind to the Astros as the old PECOTA was.

Last week's PECOTA projections had the Astros tied for 4th with a 75-87 record, 766/829 runs scored/allowed line, and a .264/.330/.403 slash line.

This week's PECOTA says the Astros will finish 5th with a 76-86 record, 697/743 runs scored/allowed, and a .265/.330/.404 slash line.

Obviously the new record is better, but the runs scored are way down, despite slightly better slash numbers. How can they finish worse? Well, the Brewers and Cubs project to be three games better than the Astros, while the Cardinals were adjusted down five wins, just two games up on the Reds.

But let's not get too worked up over this, no?

Expectations for Pedro Feliz

Bernardo Fallas' new blog post breaks down what the Astros expect out of Pedro Feliz.

It includes having Feliz drive in 85-90 runs. If he and Geoff Blum share duties at third, the Astros expect at least 90 runs produced by the tandem.

The Astros also need Feliz to get his pop going this season. One of the selling points about Feliz for the Astros is his potential to hit 20 homers in a season.

As Fallas points out, Feliz has driven in 85 runs just once in his career - 2006, in San Francisco - when he had 92RBI. Feliz has driven in 80+ runs three times, most recently in 2009, when he had 82RBI.

But it is worth noting that over his ten-year career, Feliz has averaged 78RBI per 162 games (and he's played in 130+ games six times). Is 85-90 RBI out of the question? I don't know, but knowing that the Astros got 69 RBI out of the 3B spot last year (Blum, Keppinger, and Johnson.), and hoping to add 15-20 runs out of it makes me happy.

Pujols aiding in the destruction of the Negro Leagues Museum. Bourn comes to the rescue

Hopefully this will anger Sluggerio, one of the baseball gods. Albert Pujols was in Kansas City this weekend, and didn't show up - nay, even record a message - to thank the Negro Leagues Museum for either of his two awards.

Kansas City Star's Sam Mellinger:
Too bad baseball’s best player didn’t come to make it better. The museum gave him two awards. He accepted neither in person, and didn’t record a video thank you like several others who couldn’t show up -- and like he's done in the past.

Pujols was in Kansas City this weekend, you know. He worked a hitting clinic and signed autographs for kids at a facility in north Kansas City on Sunday. Word is he drove from St. Louis and back to do the clinic – a good cause on its own – so he could spend more time with his family.

The problem with that is he owns a house in Kansas City. The other problem with that is there are hotels in Kansas City. Pujols has expressed support for the museum, and toured a few times, but hasn't yet accepted an award in person. He’s recorded personal acceptances in the past, but this year kept museum officials unsure of whether he’d attend up until the day of the show.

If Pujols would’ve come to be honored, the museum surely could’ve sold more tickets in a year they're in desperate need of money.

The fact that the Negro Leagues Museum is in financial jeopardy is a travesty in itself. But when simply showing up for an event in which you were being honored - across town - is too hard, that is reprehensible.

I know Pujols is a good guy. I get it. But come on.

Michael Bourn, who was this year's recipient of the NL Cool Papa Bell Award (for his league-leading stolen bases), was there. And he brought his dad:
“Today is a day you’ll never forget in your life,”

Good for you, Michael Bourn.

Quality analysis out of...Detroit?

The Detroit News' Tony Paul has some of the best analysis of the 2010 Astros I've seen. You should absolutely read the whole thing, but here are some money quotes:

Well, let's just (say) that a club that set out this winter to trim some of last year's club record payroll -- perhaps to get the books in order as CEO (and Michigan State alum) Drayton McLane prepares to sell the club -- could have done a whole lot worse this winter. There weren't any big splashes, but there were plenty of acceptable moves.

On Pedro Feliz:
He's got more punch than most of us realize and, when healthy, he's one of the best defensive third basemen in the game; he's a decent value at $4.5 million.

On Brett Myers:
Another health concern, he gives the rotation another veteran arm, albeit one that's on a four-year streak of increasing ERAs. My question: Who were they bidding against that they felt the need to cough up $5.1 million? Apparently the Rangers, who quickly screwed their head on straight and signed almost-as-affordable Rich Harden, instead.

On Brandon Lyon (from someone who should know):
The Astros might one day regret giving him that third year -- the Tigers said two years or bust, for everybody knows relievers this side of Mariano Rivera and Joe Nathan are the game's most unpredictable commodities from one year to the next -- but Houston is likely to get its money's worth this year. While $5 million might seem steep, it won't should Lyon take over the closer's role, which is a strong possibility considering the flashes of dominance he showed in the AL last summer, not to mention Matt Lindstrom hardly is a sure thing with his 20 career saves, plus he missed a chunk of last summer with an elbow strain that got him Wally Pipped by Leo Nunez in Florida (hence the Marlins' desire to trade).

On Tommy Manzella:
Now the free agent stock of shortstops is essentially all sold out, too, with Orlando Cabrera agreeing to a cheap one-year deal with the Reds. "The biggest question is Manzella," manager Brad Mills acknowledged. "And he has not given us any reason to think that he's not going to be a solid shortstop at the major league level." There's still a safety net in Jeff Keppinger, who can play third and second; that's good because Pedro Feliz and Kaz Matsui have dealt with nagging injuries in recent seasons.

Good stuff.

Joel Roza brings The Depression

Well, it's a mix between depression for the Hooks, and optimism for the fans.

When I first got this gig, the first thing I wrote about was the bridge that Corpus Christi, and Double-A in general, forms between the lower minor leagues and The Show and how vital this place was, and would be, to so many ballplayers. Thanks to the Ryan-Sanders team, we get to witness ballplayers in their developmental stages and root them on as our own if and when they reach the pinnacle of their careers elsewhere. On top of that, we get to watch these players develop in a world class, top notch ballpark that holds a high reputation throughout the country.

On the odds of making it to The Big Club:
Only 18% of all minor leaguers ever make it to the big leagues. That’s an enormous fail-rate and one that these players all face on a day-to-day basis.

On the reality of being a minor-league outfielder for Houston:
Yordany Ramirez, Brian Bogusevic, Drew Locke, T.J. Steele (low-A as of 2008), Jon Gaston (high-A as of 2008) and Collin DeLome are all legitimate talent. The odds of at least one of them being major-league ready within the next two years are pretty high. However, unless they change to an infield position or the Astros trade away talent at the big league level, there’s no way they’ll make it to Houston. Carlos Lee is virtually untradeable while Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn are huge talents and still under team control.

On Drew Locke:
He’ll be 27 in February, so two years seems to be a decent bet. He’s doesn’t qualify as a “prospect” at this point and he’s not rated in the Top 10 in terms of total organizational talent. The odds of him becoming anything more than a brief September call-up in Houston are slim to none at this point. He could however make it onto a low-budget major league roster if he continues his solid play. All in all though, his chances don’t look good. He blossomed too late and we won’t know until this season gets cooking if last season was a fluke or not.

There are a lot of other notes, and you should really read the article, but it's a pretty stark reality for the minor-leaguers.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Carlos Lee's home runs

Carlos Lee hit 26 home runs in 2009. This was enough to lead the team, sadly, but it also marks the lowest home run total in Carlos Lee's career since 2002, in which he also hit 26 home runs - but in 140 games. In 2008, Lee hit 28 home runs, but only in 115 games as he missed a quarter of the season thanks to getting plunked by Bronson Arroyo. So let's take us a look at Lee's 2009 home runs, and see what we can see:

(Thanks fo HitTracker for the home run stats)

Home runs by inning:
1st: 1
2nd: 3
3rd: 2
4th: 8
5th: 2
6th: 3
7th: 3
8th: 3
9th: 1

Average True Distance:
2009 - 390.8'
2008 - 393.1'

Vs. RHP: 20
Vs. LHP: 6

Home: 16
Away: 10

25 of Lee's 26 homers were to the left-field side of 90 degrees (and the other was to just right of dead-center.

First-Pitch HRs: 6
After 1-0: 8
After 0-1: 12

Solo HRs: 13
Runners on: 13
RISP: 11

vs. NL Central: 16

Okay, so there's some quantifiable evidence to note that Lee's power is simply declining (captip to FanGraphs for this):

Percentage of pitches outside the strike zone in which Lee swung (swang? swinged?): 24.4%. This is down from 30.7% in 2008.

Pitch% inside strike zone, resulting in a swing: 69.5% (up from 69.1% in 2008).

Total % of pitches Lee swung at: 46.6% This is the lowest percentage since 2002, down from 51% in 2007 and 49.7% in 2008.

Pitch% outside strike zone resulting in contact: 70.7%, down from 72.1% in 2008.

Pitch% inside strike zone resulting in contact: 93.8% - a career high.

Total percentage of contact made when swinging at all pitches: 87.7% - another career high.

Total percentage of pitches seen in the strike zone: 49.3% - same as 2008, but tying a career low.

Percentage of pitches in which the first pitch was a strike: 55.7%


What is to be learned here? Carlos Lee is seeing fewer pitches, he's being more selective, he's making contact at the highest rate of his ten-year career, and he's just not getting the pop he once was. All of his homers were pulled, except for one. This is true in 2008, as well. But in 2007, Lee hit 32 homers, and seven of them were to center or opposite field.

So it doesn't look as though Lee's overall swing has been affected, just his home run power. And with three years, $55m-ish remaining? That's not good.