Thursday, December 01, 2005

Links, Yeah, I Got Your Links

I’m not a big link dump kind of guy, but I’ve accumulated enough stories from around that globe that interest me over the past few weeks that I figured it couldn’t hurt to gather them up and put them on this thing for public consumption. So here we go. Hope you like reading...

(1) First off, a reader asked a question back on November 5th about Billy Wagner. I responded in the comments section, but I thought I’d put it up here just because its so darn topical.

Anonymous said...

you clearly think $40 million for 4 years is more than wagner is worth. how much is wagner worth to the phils? what offer would you like to see them make, taking into account length of contract and the limited money the phillies have to spend?

My response...

I don't like anything about that rumored contract. I won't pay any closer $10 million a year and I can't in good conscience give a small, hard throwing lefty with a violent delivery a 4-year contract. Wagner is 34 now, 35 in July, and would be 38 by the end of this deal. 10 million bucks for a closer like Wagner is justifiable in the short-term - he should "earn" that pay in the next 2 years, but what about the 2 years after that? His entire game is based on that great fastball. It is really an amazing pitch. But consider what will happen if he even loses three or four miles per hour off of it. There is a monumental difference between a 99 MPH fastball and a 95 MPH fastball. Wagner has proven he is very capable of blowing 99 MPH fastballs by big league hitters, but will he be as effective as his velocity goes down – the velocity will go down by the way, this isn’t an if, but a when. It’s inevitable. The Phillies reported last offer of 2-years, $20 some million plus a team option that takes it to 3-years/$30 million is ideal. 2 years is what I would give him guaranteed with the third year being a team option or buyout year. $10 million a year is steep, but fair.

All that being said, I'm not sure if the Phillies can give him the money he wants, let alone the number of years. The $77.75 they have owed to just 11 guys makes it difficult to envision them giving $88.75 million or so to just 12 guys (assuming the payroll tops out at $95 million or so again. Keep in mind that this is Wagner's first crack at free agency in his career (partially by the rules, partially by choice) so he'll definitely take his time, enjoy the tours of each city that expresses interest, and milk every last penny out of this opportunity. If the Mets do offer that 4-year/$40 million contract and nobody tops it, he'll be a Met for sure. If a team tops that deal (Braves...doubtful, Red Sox/White Sox...maybe, it's impossible to ever rule out the Yankees) then he'll wind up there.

This is his last big contract as a major leaguer and he is coming off his best major league season. He has pocketed roughly $44,000,000 as a professional and has a chance to double it with this contract. It really must be nice to be a free agent; I can't even begin to imagine what is going on in his head right now. I'm jealous.

(2) I know sometimes I mention things that aren’t exactly public knowledge (even to the hardcore baseball fan) without explanation and believe me I always feel guilty about it. So this begins my heartfelt apology where I’ll try to make up for my wrongs by clearing up anything that has confused anybody. If you have a question on anything, ask it. That’s really the best way to learn. If you are shy and don’t want to leave a comment, there are a multitude of other ways to contact me. If so far those options don’t appeal to you, I’ll even go one step further by trying to guess at the things that I mention that I consider to be not common knowledge to normal, well-adjusted people (unlike me clearly). Anyway, Baseball Prospectus has a lovely article about the attempts by baseball men to forecast theoretical peak years. The ideas and data that explain how they came up with the concept of theoretical peak years is made nice and clear in the article. Plus there is a bonus if you aren’t a big reader: pretty graphs! Not just pretty either, they are very informative and pack a lot of info in a nice, tiny little package.

(3) That covers theoretical peak years. Now on to ERA+ and OPS+. I’ve been using ERA+ and OPS+ a lot lately and its time they are properly explained. I’m really no expert on the subject so this explanation is the best I can do. I hope it is helpful.

This is, to me anyway, the simplest way of understanding these numbers - above 100 in each is good, below 100 is not so good, and right on the nose at 100 is league average. If that isn’t good enough (and hopefully it isn’t as you are just dying to know more) the actual factual definitions are summed here:


LgERA is the park adjusted ERA for the league and ERA is the pitcher's ERA. It is just a better way of judging what a pitcher has done using the rest of the league as a backdrop. Think of it as putting the performance of a player into proper context.

To get OPS+ from OPS, you do two things. First, you adjust the OPS for the park the hitter plays in. Then you divide by league average (to account for differences in scoring rates between eras) and multiply by 100. So an OPS+ of 130 means (roughly) that a player has been 30% more effective than the average hitter over the course of whatever time interval is being assessed. 130 is a good number to use since that is what Chase Utley did this year – he was therefore 30% more effective than an average hitter. That’s really, really good. It is important to consider that league average (100) isn’t a bad thing at all. Cory Lidle, a guy who is by all accounts a useful big league starter, turned in an ERA+ of 100 this season. OPS+ and ERA+ aren’t the single best statistics around, but they give a fairly good indication of a player’s relative value to the other players in the league. Since baseball isn’t played in a vacuum, these are stats that should be used when making player comparisons and pondering player acquisitions.

(4) I wanted to get more in-depth on the new MLB steroid agreement and maybe I still will during that brief dead period between the busy offseason start and pre-pitchers and catchers. If I don’t (mostly because I’m betting I’ll forget to come back to this) then this is as well written a synopsis on the agreement than anything I can do. It’s written by Maury Brown from the great website – there is a great free newsletter sent out by that site that I recommend subscribing to if interested. Brown writes this piece for The Hardball Times (another great site) and lays all the information from the agreement out beautifully. My take on the agreement is a simple one – I am a big fan. The penalties are finally beginning to fall in step with the crimes committed. This is a great thing for baseball. The only design flaw I see in the agreement is the lack of restrictions on Human Growth Hormones. I imagine this is the next hurdle for MLB to clear and expect it to be including in the next steroid agreement whenever that my come. In any event, this is an unbelievably big positive for players, owners, and fans of Major League Baseball.

(5) There has been some talk in recent weeks about the numbers of players protected on 40-man rosters and who is eligible for the Rule 5 draft and who isn’t – things of that nature typically come up every single year at this time. Baseball America has taken the first step in an attempt to remedy public misconception of what the Rule 5 draft really is. Since it is topical and coming up during the upcoming Winter Meetings, I recommend checking out an Ask BA feature written on the subject by Alan Schwarz.

(6) With the Billy Wagner and Abraham Nunez signings of the past week, and the possibility of a Tom Gordon signing forthcoming, it is high time to address the draft pick element to signing free agents. Once again, I’ll defer to a pro. This is all compliments of Baseball America’s Jim Callis in yet another segment of Ask BA. That Callis sure is one busy guy.

The Elias Sports Bureau compiles rankings of all major leaguers by position, based on their performance over the previous two seasons. If teams offer arbitration to a free agent and lose him to another club, they'll receive compensation if he's classified as a Type A (top 30 percent at his position), Type B (31-50 percent) or Type C (51-60 percent) player.

For a Type A player, the compensation is the signing team's first-round pick plus a supplemental first-rounder. For a Type B, it's the signing team's first-round choice. For a Type C, it's a supplemental second-rounder.

However, if the signing team picks in the upper half of the first round, that choice is protected and it loses its second-round selection instead. If a club signs multiple free agents within the same category, its earlier pick goes to the team which lost the higher-rated player. Also, Type C players who have been free agents in the past don't yield any compensation.

Here's your list:

Type A
Wilson Alvarez (LAD), Brad Ausmus (Hou), A.J. Burnett (Fla), Jeromy Burnitz (ChC), Royce Clayton (Ari), Roger Clemens (Hou), Jeff Conine (Fla), Johnny Damon (Bos), Octavio Dotel (Oak), Erubiel Durazo (Oak), Scott Eyre (SF), Kyle Farnsworth (Atl), Rafael Furcal (Atl), Brian Giles (SD), Tom Gordon (NYY), Tony Graffanino (Bos), Mark Grudzielanek (StL), Ramon Hernandez (SD), Trevor Hoffman (SD), Bob Howry (Cle), Todd Jones (Fla), Paul Konerko (CWS), Matt Lawton (NYY), Braden Looper (NYM), Kevin Millar (Bos), Bengie Molina (LAA), Matt Morris (StL), Bill Mueller (Bos), Mike Piazza (NYM), Joe Randa (SD), Al Reyes (StL), Kenny Rogers (Tex), B.J. Ryan (Bal), Rudy Seanez (SD), Julian Tavarez (StL), Ugueth Urbina (Phi), Billy Wagner (Phi), Larry Walker (StL), Jeff Weaver (LAD), Rondell White (Det), Bob Wickman (Cle), Tim Worrell (Ari).

Type B
Antonio Alfonseca (Fla), Rich Aurilia (Cin), Paul Byrd (LAA), Hector Carrasco (Was), Elmer Dessens (LAD), Cal Eldred (StL), Juan Encarnacion (Fla), Shawn Estes (Ari), Carl Everett (CWS), Julio Franco (Atl), Nomar Garciaparra (ChC), Alex Gonzalez (Fla), Todd Greene (Col), Chris Hammond (SD), Scott Hatteberg (Oak), Rick Helling (Mil), Roberto Hernandez (NYM), Jason Johnson (Det), Jacque Jones (Min), Al Leiter (NYY), Esteban Loaiza (Was), Kenny Lofton (Phi), Brian Meadows (Pit), Jim Mecir (Fla), Jose Mesa (Pit), Dan Miceli (Col), Kevin Millwood (Cle), Jamie Moyer (Sea), Mike Myers (Bos), Rafael Palmeiro (Bal), Todd Pratt (Phi), Felix Rodriguez (NYY), Reggie Sanders (StL), J.T. Snow (SF), Sammy Sosa (Bal), Russ Springer (Hou), Frank Thomas (CWS), Brett Tomko (SF), Michael Tucker (Phi), Daryle Ward (Pit), Jarrod Washburn (LAA), Bernie Williams (NYY), Preston Wilson (Was), Eric Young (SD).

Type C (first-time free agents only)
Joey Eischen (Was), Scott Elarton (Cle), Abraham Nunez (StL).

Teams have until Dec. 7 to offer arbitration to players, who have until Dec. 18 to accept.

(7) We are back at The Hardball Times again, but this time with an article written by Dave Studeman. He writes this thing every week during the season (10 Things I Didn’t Know Last Week) and it is always interesting, so I suggest keeping this in the back of your mind come April. There are a couple Phillies notes in there (Thome and Rowand), but I think its all gold and worth a look.

(8) Season ticket invoices are beginning to trickle in for season ticket holders and some of the prices around the majors are crazy. The Phillies 17-game plan costs more than the entire 81-game, full season package some teams offer. I remember reading something in the past week about the Dodgers offering season tickets for $2 a game. That would be $162! That can’t be true, right? All of this makes me kind of miss the real cheap seats at the Vet.

(9) Last, but certainly not least is one final link to yet another useful site. is a free travel/ticket search engine for fans. If you are out of town and need a way to get back to Philly to see the Phitans in action (like me), then this is the first and only place to go to. Everything you need to plan a trip is gathered in one spot and it comes highly recommended from me – what more could you possibly need? The site just got a big time mention on Boston (which just so happens to be my current location) ABC News, so I suggest checking it out before it gets super famous – its always nice to be on the ground floor of something big, right? Who knows – if you plan a trip to Boston for a Sox game through I might even accept your offer of an extra ticket and go with you.

(10, because it is always good to have a list of 10 no matter how badly you have to stretch it out. Always)

New, original stuff on all sorts of topics coming soon. Soon.


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