Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Hey, Joe. Leave an easy target alone.

In his latest column, Joe Sheehan takes the following dig at the Royals: "Angel Berroa: .299 OBP, 68 K, 11 BB. This is a building block?"

Of course, the Royals are an easy target for analysts of all stripes, but I would like to provide a little bit of context.

At the start of the 2004 season, the Kansas City Royals signed a shortstop who was 25 years old and coming off a rookie campaign in which he'd posted a 287/338/451 line with a VORP of 39.4.

The shortstop had been a highly-touted prospect, and after losing some numbers to knee surgery, looked to be improving on a minor-league career that hinted at power potential.

In 2004, PECOTA predicted a VORP of 21.1 for Berroa.
In 2005, PECOTA predicted a VORP of 15.2 and a line of 265/310/409.

Unfotunately, "Ahn-hell" forgot how to swing for the fences last year, only hitting 8 home runs while walking less and avoiding more pitches.

His lines for '04 and '05 are fairly terrible:
262/308/385 VORP 15.7
260/299/362 VORP 10.0 (Projected)

Berroa is making $500,000 this year, and the Royals are on the hook for another $10 Million through 2008.

Should the downward trend continue, the Royals will look a little silly for paying Berroa $4.75 Million in 2008. However, if he had met his projections for the last two years, continued to improve on his age-25 season as he headed into his peak, and provided the kind of pop he showed as a youngster at a premium position...

Well, then you'd have a very cheap, very valuable building block.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Royals trade Graffanino to Red Sox

The KC Star is reporting that the Royals have traded Tony Graffanino to the Boston Red Sox for prospects.

What we lost:
2005 33 0.298 0.377 0.393
Career 0.263 0.335 0.388

What we got:
Chip Ambres
A 20 0.231 0.343 0.366
A 21 0.265 0.36 0.416
A 22 0.236 0.323 0.365
AA 23 0.258 0.376 0.439
AA 24 0.241 0.352 0.449
AAA 25 0.294 0.401 0.495

Juan Cedeno
Level Age ERA K/9 WHIP
Rk 18 4.19 6.7 1.56
A 19 3.02 7.73 1.29
A 20 4.64 5.83 1.54
A 21 5.49 7.98 1.52

T-Graf has had a bit of a resurgence this year, getting a ton of playing time and responding with a career high in OBP. His batting average looks good and he's never been a power guy.

The prospects from Boston appear pretty standard issue to me. A young fireballer in Cedeno who has control issues. A speedy outfielder with low batting average numbers, but a steady improvement in power.

Assuming Graffanino can continue to hit 300/375/390, this should be a pretty good pick up for the Sox. He can replace Bellhorn defensively at second base and provide some decent on-base numbers in front of the power hitters in Boston's line up.

For the Royals, this is more of the same. Trading age and salary away to pick up some hope. Are Ambres's plate discipline and power increases for real? Will Cedeno find enough control to be Mike MacDougal early '03, or Mike MacDougal the rest of the time?

Tony always seemed like a good guy, so I'm happy he'll get to compete in meaningful baseball this season. Ambres and Cedeno can only hope for the chance in the future.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Oh, Elvis... tsk, tsk...

It was nice to see the Royals get a shot at a highlight package in the first half-hour of Sportscenter last night. I wish I could have seen Mike Sweeney's home run, or Mark Teahen's catch, spin and throw play to get Rondell White out.

But alas, one jackass plunking another trumps all.

I'm not going to defend Hernandez here. I did think it was a pretty funny read in the AP story, though:
The Royals led 4-0 when Hernandez (7-9) threw a low and inside pitch that Guillen thought hit him. Guillen argued with plate umpire Marty Foster, and Detroit manager Alan Trammell came out to plead the case. The next pitch hit Guillen in the helmet.

Guillen whined to the umpire about not getting first base when he made no attempt to avoid the previous pitch. That always irks me.

Of course, Elvis is a punk. Has been since the Royals first brought him up. It's part of what makes him an effective pitcher. However, headhunting with a fastball is dangerous and counterproductive.

I think a nice, easy breaking ball to the backside would have been an effective retort to Guillen's whining, but that's just me.

Any suspension for Hernandez won't hurt the Royals this season, and will probably save his arm. So, in the end, nothing will be accomplished.

'Twas some great theater, though.

P.S.- Props to Affeldt for using his leverage to land on top of Farnsworth, effectively faceplanting him into the ground with his own momentum.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Beltran vs. These Other Guys

Baseball Prospectus has a look at the players most prominently involved in the Beltran trade last year, excluding Mike Wood.

Here's a quick breakdown of the current stats for each player involved in the trade, including Baseball Proscpectus's VORP stat (Value Over Replacement Player):

               AVG OBP SLG VORP 
John Buck 227 270 356 0.8
Mark Teahen 251 302 353 -1.2
Carlos Beltran 264 319 431 13.2

Mike Wood 5.64 3.59 8.9
Currently, Beltran is lapping the trio in value, 13.2 to 8.5.

That three Royal players cannot even equal the value of one other player is another problem all together, but there are two other factors that people keep forgetting to look at when evaluating this trade:
          Beltran  Trio
$/VORP $876.6k $112.2k
Age 28 24 (Avg)
As arbitration kicks in for each of these players, the cash advantage will dissipate for the Royals, but the fact is, these guys are always going to be four years younger than Beltran.

Allard Baird traded 4 months (and a monster post-season that would have done us no good) of Carlos Beltran for four years of potential at three critical positions. The plan was never going to bring us wins this year, and probably won't the next, but these guys are all going to be entering their primes when Beltran is exiting his.

I'll take that trade.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Adam Dunn and Looking Past Batting Average

I heard a rumor the other day that the Reds were looking to dump one of their extra outfielders. I mentioned to a friend that the Royals should try to pick Adam Dunn up, but was told that he "strikes out too much."

Since it's the All-Star Break and I've got some time on my hands, I thought I'd try to win this argument with my friend in a forum that allowed him no chance to respond (God, I love the internet).

Plus, it allows me to discuss a core principal of the stat-head movement -- looking beyond batting average.

Name       Age  HR  AVG  OBP  SLG
Adam Dunn 25 23 239 384 550
(as of All-Star Break)
Now, one could look at Mr. Dunn's record-setting strikeout season last year and his lowly batting average of .239 and feel perfectly comfortable writing him off as a player with the same whiff-tastic tendencies of our own Angel Berroa.


We could take a look at those other two numbers... OBP and SLG.

OBP = On Base Percentage

Somehow, Batting Average become the stat that everybody used to judge whether or not a baseball player could hit. Phrases like "he's not paid to walk" came into vogue and only scrappy little guys were allowed to get on base via the hit-by-pitch.

Of course, grounding out weakly to the second basemen doesn't do much more than get you out. Men on base or no, you now have one less out than you started the game with, and once you've used all 27, they make you go home.

So, let's pretend we don't see Adam Dunn's .239 batting average. Instead, let's look at how often he gets on base, currently at a .384 clip.

That would put him in first place on the current Royals team.

To repeat, Adam Dunn gets on base a higher percentage of the time than any other Royals player.

Fine, you say. Maybe he gets some walks when he's not swinging the bat, but he still misses an awful lot of pitches when he gets the wood off his shoulder. That's true, but when he doesn't miss the ball, he hits it really, really hard.

SLG = Slugging Average

Player A is 1 for 1 with a single.
Player B is 1 for 1 with a home run.

Player A is slugging 1.000.
Player B is slugging 4.000.


Adam Dunn's slugging average of .550 would put him in first place on the Royals.

That means Dunn gets on base more often and hits for more power than anybody on our current roster. He's also only 25 years old.

Now, I don't think the Reds are really dumb enough to trade him, but if Dan O'Brien dials Allard's phone, he'd better take the call.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Matt Stairs for the All Star Game

Well, it's time for the annual discussion over who should be the Royals All Star. Mike Sweeney is no doubt the front runner, but I think there are a few other players who could make us proud in Detroit.

On the pitching side, Andrew Sisco has been quite a feather in Allard Baird's cap. Since Terry Francona needs to load up on pitchers, having a big lefty with a 2.75 ERA would not look out of place. It would also allow the announcers to make endless comparisons between Johan Santana and Sisco as Rule 5 picks who are having success in the big leagues.

On the offensive side, we have these three guys:

Player A 298/335/507
Player B 261/296/364
Player C 263/393/464

One of these guys has represented the boys in blue at the big game four times, one is a journeyman minor-leaguer and one is a journeyman major-leaguer.

Mike Sweeney is the safe (and most-likely) choice, and I've heard Emil Brown get a few props as the feel-good story, but where is the love for Matt Stairs?

Stairs is leading the team in OPS, has never been to the All Star game, and will give the game the kind of international flavor that attracts casual fans.

It's a little late, but I have decided to throw my considerable influence behind Mr. Stairs in his dark horse All-Star bid. He's the only player we have who seems to know how to take a walk, and he's been the most consistent hitter on the team this year.

Plus, he's got that killer 'stache going on. That's gotta be worth something.