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Posts Tagged ‘Barry Zito’

While it was generally accepted that the Giants would be a team to be reckoned with in 2010, GM Brian Sabean started the party early, acquiring first baseman Ryan Garko from the Indians and second baseman Freddy Sanchez from the Pirates.  My prediction is that these two players will help the deliver the Giants an NLCS championship.  They are huge upgrades over the production that the Giants are currently getting from these positions.  At first base, the Giants received a .747 OPS, ranked 25th in the league, and at second, a .601 OPS, good for a rank of 28. 

Sanchez brings to the table a .776 OPS, and will probably give the giant an extra fifteen runs above average based on weighted on-base average.  Garko owns a .826 OPS, and based on the same statistics, should give the Giants an extra five runs over their current production.  Over the course of 61 games, twenty runs is nothing to shake a stick at.  An extra .33 runs per game would move them from the 27th ranked offence in runs scored to 23rd, a significant increase.  If you add .33 runs per game to their current statistics this season, their Expected Pythagorean Record winning percentage would jump from a pedestrian .532 to .615.  To put that in perspective, the Yankees and Dodgers are leading the league with a .614 winning percentage. 

Already leading the Wild Card Race, the Giants, barring a serious injury to Tim Lincecum or Matt Cain, should slide comfortable into the postseason.  This is when they will be the most dangerous.  Lincecum and Cain form the most dangerous 1-2 punch in the NL, and will be extremely effective in a post-season series.  Let’s take a look at the Giants new and improved roster.

Lineup

C – Bengie Molina (80 OPS+)

1B – Ryan Garko (114 OPS+, 12.1 UZR/150)

2B – Freddy Sanchez ( 109 OPS+, 6.3 UZR/150)

3B – Pablo Sandoval (142 OPS+, -1.07 UZR/150)

SS – Edgar Renteria (65 OPS+, -1.9 UZR/150)

LF – Fred Lewis (93 OPS+, 3.0 UZR/150)

CF – Aaron Rowand (102 OPS+, 8.4 UZR/150)

RF – Randy Winn (86 OPS+, 15.1 UZR/150)

Utility IF – Juan Uribe (94 OPS+, 7.38 UZR/150)

On average, this line-up has an OPS+ of 98.3, barely below league average.  When you combine that with their stellar pitching, they will be a force to be reckoned with.  They are also an above average defensive squad, with a cumulative UZR/150 of 49.31 among these nine players.  This is 49 runs that the Giants will save on defence alone. 

Pitching

SP – Tim Lincecum (2.30 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 1.99 FIP)

SP – Matt Cain (2.27 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 3.81 FIP)

SP – Barry Zito (4.54 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 4.37 FIP)

SP – Jonathan Sanchez (4.92 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 4.33 FIP)

SP – Randy Johnson (4.81 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 4.91 FIP)

Bullpen – (3.37 ERA , 1.32 WHIP, 3.74 ERA)

While starters three through five leave much to be desired, Lincecum and Cain are so dominant and throw so many innings that the Giants still have second best starting pitcher ERA in the league.  The bullpen is ranked third.  Even when you factor out the excellent fielding; the starters and relievers rank third and fourth respectively in FIP.

Even though Sabean gave up a big part of the future in Tim Alderson to acquire Sanchez, it was well worth it.  So there you have it folks, the 2009 NL Champion San Francisco Giants.

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With the return of closer Scott Downs, former Blue Jays closer BJ Ryan found himself expendable today.  Ryan was part of a big off-season for the Blue Jays following the 2005 season, inking a five year, $47 million contract, giving the Jays the lockdown closer they had been missing.  Ryan was coming off a 36 save season as a the closer of the Orioles, and it was at the time, the largest contract ever given to a relief pitcher. 

Ryan rewarded the Jays in 2006 with an all-star appearance, 38 saves and a microscopic 1.37 ERA.  However, injuries derailed him the next season as he pitched only 4.1 innings, and his WHIP was almost double his previous seasons ERA.  He rebounded in 2008 with a 2.95 ERA and 32 saves, but was far from the Blue Jays most effective reliever.  This year, the lights-out Downs, a product of former AGM Bart Given, seized the closer role after Ryan struggled with more injuries and inconsistency.  Limited to mop-up duty and unhappy with his role, Ryan now finds himself without a job.

Ryan is only one of several failed big free-agent deals of the last couple of years.  Jeff Suppan, recently listed on Ebay for the bargain price of $0.01, signed a four year, $42 million deal with the Brewers following his 2006 World Series season with St. Louis.  He has rewarded the Crew with a 27-28 record over two and a half seasons, and has yet to post a better than league average ERA.  I could go on and on with the likes of Andruw Jones, Jason Schmidt, Jose Guillen, Matt Morris, and Barry Zito, but you get the picture.

These crippling contracts are a big reason for a dynamic shift in the way baseball teams are doing business.  Most teams are realizing that free agents should simply be compliments to a young, inexpensive core, not franchise saviours.  Teams are putting a vice grip on their top prospects as they understand that the bank for the buck they will get from these players is much greater than what they would find on the open market.  This really became seen by the public when both the Red Sox and Yankees refused to part with their top prospects in order to obtain Johan Santana prior to the 2008 season. 

It also has cooled the free agent market, as teams have realized that many Type A free agents are not worth the high draft picks that they would be giving up.  This led to solid players like Orlando Cabrera and Juan Cruz searching for jobs for the majority of this past off-season.  Five years ago, these guys would have been lavished with multi-year contracts. 

This topic is particularly interesting as Blue Jays GM JP Ricciardi has made it known that he will be listening to offers for Roy Halladay, who is signed through 2010 at a very reasonable $15.75 million.  It will be interesting to see what type of prospects the Blue Jays will be offered in return for the perennial Cy Young candidate.  It is my opinion that the Blue Jays will get an excellent package from a GM in win-now mode, but I do not think the offers will be as numerous or bountiful as in years past.

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A couple of days ago I wrote an article for Inside The Majors discussing the future of Albert Pujols in St. Louis.  As much as Cards fans hate to admit it, the end of the 2011 season is quickly approaching and Pujols could be gone.  While I covered all of the factors that affect the Cardinals, I did not discuss in depth something that applies to every Major League club.

“The other big question is whether it is even worth it for a team to spend 25-30% of their budget on one player, but that is a story for another day.”

That day has come.  While it is very rare for a player to make more than 25% of a team’s total payroll, it could be the reality in St. Louis, with Pujols eating $25 million out of approximately a $100 million payroll.  I want to look at the success rate of teams where they have a player who takes up more than 20% of the team’s financial resources.  After examining the numbers from 2006-2008, I lowered my threshold to 18%, still very high, to get a larger sample size of data.  All salary information is from USA Today, and these were my discoveries:

Over the last three years there have been eighteen occasions where a single player has made up over 18% of a team’s total salary.

20082008 25%

 

  

  

  

  

  

 

2007

2007 25%

 

  

 

 

 2006

2006 25%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, these teams as a whole have not been very successful, with an overall record of 1398-1517 for a winning percentage of .480.  The only playoff clubs among the group are the 2007 Rockies, and the 2006 Tigers, A’s and Padres.  That means 22% of these clubs have made the playoffs, while the rest of the teams in the league made the playoffs at a 28% clip.  Not a huge drop off, but significant enough.

There is also a lot of repetition among the teams, with the Rockies appearing all three years, the Royals with three players in two years, and the A’s, Marlins, Pirates and Giants all making two appearances each.  Other than the Giants, these are all small-budget teams, and it does not take much to eat up 20% of their payroll.  You will never see a Yankee make 20% of the team’s salary simply because the denominator of $200M is way too big.  On the other end of the spectrum, Willis ate up 29% of the Marlins salary in 2006 while only making $4.35M

So far, I have shown that these eighteen teams have performed below the major-league average in terms of winning percentage in playoff appearances.  However, what I have failed to mention is the total payrolls of these teams.  If you sort all of the MLB teams by total payroll each year and rank them, the eighteen teams on this list rank an average of twenty-two.  The 2006 teams are an average of $16M below league average, the 2007 teams are 20$ million under, and the 2008 squads are a whopping $31 million under the league average.  Only three of them ( ’06 Giants, Astros and Tigers) are in the top half, and thirteen out of eighteen are in the bottom third.  These teams are actually quite successful considering their financial limitations.  If you were to tell me I could run a team for $20 million less than the average but only have a 6% chance less of making the playoffs, I think I would take you up on the offer.

I honestly thought going into this that I would discover that it would almost without fail be disastrous to have one player take up a huge chunk of your payroll.  There are occasions where this is true, most notably the 2008 Royals who spent 40% of their money on Meche and Guillen, two barely above average players.  However, it is also very possible for these small market teams with one high-paid star, like Todd Helton, to succeed.

After my analysis, the original point from my Inside the Majors article stands.  John Mozeliak, get Pujols locked up.  If there is one player that is worth of that much money and such a large percentage of your payroll, it is him.    

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