When Sportvision’s PITCHf/x debuted in 2006, there was plenty of excitement about the seemingly limitless set of questions and answers that it could provide. How does a pitcher succeed with an 89-mph fastball? Is the strike zone the same (PDF) for left handed and right handed batters? Did Trevor Hoffman’s release point contribute to his (post-San Diego) late-career struggles?
Baseball analysis was indeed still alive and kicking, and PITCHf/x pioneers like Mike Fast, Joe P. Sheehan, and Josh Kalk were quickly gobbled up by major league teams looking to gain a competitive advantage and harness a robust new dataset. Websites like Baseball Prospectus and FanGraphs were also quick to utilize the new stream of data to create PITCHf/x profiles and add to their already comprehensive player pages.
While most of the early PITCHf/x research was focused on pitchers, eventually more attention made its way to catchers. Ben Lindbergh wrote an exhaustive article at Grantland on catcher framing, and he’s tracked the highlights and lowlights of framing weekly at Baseball Prospectus. More recently, BP published a new model for catcher framing along with the full results. (They also created a similar model for pitch blocking).
Catcher framing is essentially an art of deception, as catchers try to subtlety convince umpires to call pitches that cross the plate outside of the strike zone as strikes. Pitch framing isn’t a new development, but prior to the PITCHf/x Era it was largely unquantifiable. Sure, scouting acumen and/or video analysis could probably point out the best and worst framers, but how much were they really worth? The answer, as it turns out, is a lot.
Extensions. We love to talk about extensions. Or a lack of extensions. But for now lets focus on a single extension candidate: Jedd Gyorko.
Gyorko came into the 2013 season as the Padres third best prospect per a handsome blogger and managed to lead San Diego’s offense in a disappointing season. Early in the season we examined giving Gyorko the Evan Longoria extension, and recently we asked ourselves why in the world they haven’t given Gyorko that extension.
Last week in a contract extension guide Dustin estimated that extending Gyorko would cost the Padres approximately $50 million over seven years, akin to what the Braves gave Andrelton Simmons. Contracts are all about comparable players. In this case Simmons profiles as the greatest defensive player in generations coming off a 4.7-win season, while Gyorko profiles as a potentially above average offensive-minded second baseman coming off a 2.5-win year.
Looking at contracts given to second basemen over the last few years we find a group of Aaron Hill, Brandon Phillips, Dan Uggla, Howard Kendrick and Marco Scutaro that provide a mix of contract extensions and free agent deals. This group averages out to an approximate average annual value (AAV) of $12 million, which will be our baseline for looking at a Gyorko contract. (Read More…)
I consider myself a generally knowledgeable baseball fan. When it comes to the business of baseball and contracts, I would say that I have a pretty strong knowledge of arbitration, free agency, free agency compensation (for the most part), split contracts, and loads of other minutiae. One thing I’ve never really been able to figure out as well as I should is minor league options. I know that players have 3 option seasons, but that’s about all I’ve ever taken the time to figure out about how the whole thing works.
Luckily, or unluckily, I won’t have to learn this year because MLB Trade Rumors just last week put out a list of players, broken down by division, who have exhausted their options. The Padres have six players currently on the 40 man roster who are newly considered out of options for 2014: CF Cameron Maybin, SP Eric Stults, RP Dale Thayer, 1B Yonder Alonso, RP Alex Torres, and C Rene Rivera. What this means is that these six players have essentially achieved veteran status, and like any veteran player can no longer be designated for assignment (DFA) to the minors without passing through waivers. (Read More…)
As you know by now, I am a strange human being who collects a ridiculous amount of Padres memorabilia. Next to bobbleheads, old magazines, programs, media guides and newspaper articles are probably my next favorite thing to collect. The old ads are fascinating. Flip to any page and the odds of landing on a beer or cigarette ad are pretty solid. What player was being highly touted at that time and did they ever pan out? And the vintage pictures are a blast.
I thought I’d do a new little segment here where I occasionally browse through one of those items and share some stuff with you.
When I was at the SABR garage sale, I came across this Sporting News from April 28th, 1986. I noticed the Padres on the cover and was really interested in reading up about this “Team Turmoil” that they were speaking of.
We all know what the Padres did in 1984 but our story starts the following year, in 1985. The Padres went 83-79 that year and finished 3rd in the NL West, 12 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers. The ’85 Padres had a team high 7 All-Stars (Steve Garvey, Goose Gossage, Tony Gwynn, LaMarr Hoyt, Terry Kennedy, Graig Nettles & Garry Templeton), which is a record that still stands to this day. They even spent a considerable amount of time in first place. In fact with the exception of the retiring Kurt Bevacqua it appeared that most of the roster would be returning in 1986 as well. And then the off-season happened.
I had a coach in high school who used to hate the phrase “practice makes perfect.” He didn’t believe in it and didn’t want us to believe in it either.
That’s because his philosophy was “perfect practice makes perfect.” And he was right. It doesn’t do you a lot of good if you hit 1000 golf balls on the range if every time you do it you’re swing is wrong. All you’ve done is practice a bad swing.
I thought of this piece of advice when watching the conversation take hold after Cameron Maybin‘s injury. No one is happy of course that it happened. But the unhappiness soon gave way to a “why did this happen” question. Many cast blame on Cameron Maybin himself, which I thought was an interesting way to look at it.
A little over a year ago I wrote that The Padres Are Blowing it. That statement feels vague. I was speaking specifically about marketing the team to the casual fans of San Diego:
Fortunately, I have a solution! The Padres need to take a portion of the windfall they received from Fox and start advertising the f*ck out of this team. I’m talking about commercials, people. The funny ones that say, “Hey! We’re a bunch of good dudes and you need to get yourself to Petco Park to support us. Dammit!”
It took over a year but the Padres have finally produced a commercial to promote the team rather than a give-away. Yesterday Wayne Partello tweeted a link to this gem advertising the opening series against the Dodgers:
At the end of a soccer game in which a winner must be decided, there are usually a couple overtimes. If the game is still tied, the dreaded shootout becomes the only way to settle it. It’s a horrible way to end a game, but you can’t have players running around endlessly in a 0-0 match. People would die. Shootout strategy is pretty basic. Use your best guys first. Best out of 5, you don’t want your best penalty takers sitting on the bench when you’re eliminated 3-0.
So, why don’t baseball managers treat a “shootout” the same way when a starting pitcher is removed? Let’s say that both starting pitchers leave the game after 6 innings and the game is within a run or two. It now becomes a “shootout” of bullpens.
Soccer wisdom says to send your best pitcher in first. Don’t leave your stud on the bench. Traditional baseball wisdom says to send in your 3rd, 4th, or 5th best guy.
In case you missed it over the weekend, we snuck a podcast episode out there. We were in Peoria, Arizona, drinking Coors Light, while sitting in a hotel room together that Trip Advisor rates 2 out of 5 stars. It was kind of weird.
We talk about how awesome elastic waistbands are, Adys Portillo’s Wild Ride and the sights and sounds of Spring Training.
If you have any questions or comments, go ahead and leave them down below or e-mail us.
This is where we gather from time to time to talk about something big in the Padres world or just the Padres or just baseball. It’s a roundtable discussion. Except, you know, no round tables. This is a Public House . . . so we’re at the bar.
With recent injuries to Chase Headley and Cameron Maybin the organization’s depth is being tested early and often. Fortunately it is only March, but as the Padres push towards opening day, a legitimate question presents itself:
Who can the Padres least afford to lose in 2014?