November 2009

Unacceptable.

Zack Greinke finished 17th in the MVP voting. 

Apparently pitchers don’t impact a season…

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And the AL MVP is…

According to me anyway…

1)  Joe Mauer: I am honestly at a point where if a voter does
not vote for Mauer first, then they should have their privilege taken
away.  Sure, others had great years.  But to do what Mauer did as a
catcher, it simply is astonishing in a baseball sense.  Not like a man
on the moon in the 60’s.  And not like all that butterfly love crap. 
But astonishing, regardless.  Voters have no real excuse, except maybe
voting Zobrist ahead of Mauer because he led the league in WAR.  But
few will base their judgements on such an “omnipotent” metric.  But one
aspect of WAR that is “flawed” is that they cannot value catcher
defense accurately, just as none of us can.  But I, for one, purchase
much stock in the value a catcher has.  Maybe that is because I have
been told my whole life about it, or because I still believe that
catchers are not exactly the same when it comes to calling a game.

Joe Mauer was hands down the best player in baseball this season. 
He won his third batting title, led the league in OBP AND Slugging. 
And as mentioned, was a FREAKING catcher.

For any of the voters who care too much about a candidate’s team making the playoffs…well he did that too…

2)  Zack Greinke: A pitcher finishing this high? 
Definitely.  Whether you think a pitcher can be as valuable as a
position player at this level of performance is up to you.  But I
believe it to be true.  Especially when the pitcher has a historically
great season.  Sure, he played on a terrible team.  But the fact the
said team ignores OBP, don’t have much money, and are pretty much
sub-par in many of their qualities, should not be a knock on Greinke.

His FIP was 2.33, his ERA 2.16.  Greinke is as good as it gets, and was easily the best pitcher this season.

3)  Ben Zobrist: Zobrist finally put it all together for a
season.  And boy did it come together.  According to WAR, Zobrist was
the best in baseball for a year.  He batted .297/.405/.543 while
manning seven different positions, predominantly second base for the
injured Iwamura.  And although a rather small sampling, his UZR was off
the charts at the up the middle position.  Basically, what more does
one want from a player?  He did whatever the team asked, filled in
wherever needed.  And not only did that, but did it very well.  Sounds
like an MVP to me.

But when all is said and done, I still care most about performance. 
So whether an 8.6 WAR be put up by a guy that plays only one position,
or a guy that plays seven positions, it makes little difference.

Although I have to admit, it is cool to have a player move all over the diamond and do whatever the team needs done…

4)  Derek Jeter: Seriously, where did this season come from? 
I was on record saying I thought that Red Sox shortstop Jed Lowrie
could be roughly what Jeter would be in 2009.

Simply put, I was well wrong.  Jeter finished third in WAR amongst
American League position players, and reached base as much as anyone in
the league not named Joe Mauer or Kevin Youkilis.  He supposedly hired
someone to help him increase his range, allowing him to get to more
balls to his glove side, which was becoming a serious problem.  And
according to the metrics, it helped.  The only question I ask is why
wasn’t it done sooner?  I guess on that note, better late than never
(cliche alert).

What Jeter did at this age was remarkable.  First ballot Hall of
Famer, no doubt.  Although I wonder how much money he will want to
remain in New York…

5)  Evan Longoria: Running down the WAR leaderboard…

Longoria was great yet again.  Don’t let the Rays place in the
standings fool you.  They had a few truly great players, and they
played in the toughest division I have seen in a while.  It isn’t
Zobrist’s fault, or Longoria’s that they didn’t smell the postseason.

Anyway, Longoria hit .281/.364/.526, and fielded third as well as anyone not named Ryan Zimmerman.

Once again, it wasn’t his fault that the Rays finished so far out of the postseason.

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What are ya gonna do?

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When the Red Sox offered Jason Bay four years, $60 million, they
offered more than enough for the defensive liability that is Jason
Bay.  Bay quickly declined, and decided that his best interests are
exploring the free agent market.

Fine.

Bay was given a very fair, make that more than fair contract offer,
and he chose to see what else is out there.  Whether that be for
location (he’s from the northwest), or for financial reasons (another
team may make the mistake of giving him too much).

Bay can hit, and he can hit anywhere.  We know that.  But we also
know that his skill-set doesn’t age particularly well.  He can’t play
defense, and is a corner outfielder that may need to be a DH to not
hinder his teams chances down the road.  He walks back to the dugout
often without putting the ball in play.  And he struggles with the
breaking stuff.

Simply put, at age 35, Bay may be simply taking a roster spot that
could be used more resourcefully, especially for the money he might be
getting paid.

With that being said, the Red Sox have a need, and they have the
ability to flex their financial muscles when needed, at least in most
cases.  If Bay doesn’t play left field, then who?

Matt Holliday?  Many questions lingering around him, and more money involved.

Josh Reddick?  After he performs consistently in the minors, then give me a call.

A platoon?  Talk to me AFTER Jeremy Hermida learns how to use his God-given skills.

They could take a chance on something, and if it works, then it works.  If it doesn’t, then so be it.

Bay is the safest, for he is a known quantity, but he too brings much risk.

Reddick and whoever else is in the minors would be the most financially sensible plan, but they too have questions.

If Bay doesn’t want this contract, the Red Sox should not budge at all.  They have more important things in mind.

And that is the future…

Dave Cameron chimes in on the Yankees payroll…

Cameron at USS Mariner

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Mike Cameron > Jason Bay ?

An exploration of the future…

Fangraphs had
an article recently, describing both players’ (Jay Bay and Mike
Cameron) past impact.  And ultimately coming to the conclusion that
Cameron has been more valuable than Bay in recent years.

Why you say?

Cameron is a defensive pleasure, and one that covers ground in center rather than at a corner.

Bay is a liability, disguised by the eyes that watch him, and a
giant lingering wall that takes away some of the ground he wouldn’t be
able to handle to begin with.

By the “eyes that watch him?”  Yes, Bay doesn’t look bad
out in left, in fact he looks like a definite upgrade over what we used
to watch out there.  Manny was notorious for taking funky looking paths
to the ball, and making circus catches…or circus misplays, all while
possessing terrible range.

Bay doesn’t do that.  Bay breaks to the ball, wide-eyed, alert on
making the play, and rarely does he not make the play on a ball within
his range.  But what is within his range isn’t exactly a lot.

His UZR is terrible.  And since UZR has to be taken in doses that
are greater than a year, preferably three, then Bay has been the worst
defensive left fielder in baseball, among qualifying defenders.

And my friends, the metrics don’t lie.  They may not be omnipotent, but they definitely do not lie.

Anyway, over those same three years, Cameron has, according to UZR,
been the second best defensive center fielder in the game, behind only
BJ Upton.

Not too shabby.

Basically, Bay is a very good offensive player, but gives back a lot
with his inability to be even an average defender.  Cameron however,
plays very good defense, even as he is not the same force at the plate
as Bay.

But what about now?  After all, that was the past.  Cameron is now
37.  Bay is 31.  Will Cameron still be “better” than Bay?  And what
about if Cameron were signed by an AL East tea, such as, well, how
about the Red Sox?

We know Bay can hit AL East pitching.  Even though he has a few
holes in his swing, strikes out a ton, and struggles with the breaking
stuff.  He still has the ability to work the count, draw walks, and hit
for enormous power.  And he does that against any pitching in
baseball.  Although naturally, struggles with the better arms in the
game, just like everyone else does.

Would Cameron respond well with the bat in a return to the AL?  Or
is his “success” due in large part to a weaker, inferior National
League?

That is a legitimate question, as I am not just pounding the “league
difference” argument into your head because it is such a hot topic
nowadays.  Cameron would definitely see some decline with the stick,
switching to the stronger league.  How would his defensive talents
translate into his overall game if he hit for a lower average, reached
base a little less, and slugged a few less over the fence?

The one thing, other than Cameron’s good D, that is playing in his
favor, is his “ability” to sign a one year deal, two at the most. 
Sure, he is old.  But is one year at say, $10 million much more
comforting to a front office than 4 years, $60-65 mill?

Sure sounds like it would be.

Cameron may or may not have been better than Jason Bay, it is fairly close.  And metrics aren’t perfect.

But could we really blame a front office for choosing to bring in
Cameron for one year, rather than Bay for multiple seasons?  Especially
if they happen to have a left fielder waiting in the wings?

Although subjectively, trust me, I would want Jason Bay.

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