OK, let's get going. Hope everyone had an excellent and let's hope it doesn't rain in D.C. tonight so we see Strasburg's return.
Fister....best mid-season trade so far?
He's been terrific, hasn't he? ERA under 3.00, 36/3 K/SO ratio with Detroit. This deal got almost no attention because nobody knows he Doug Fister is, but you're seeing that he's an underrated pitcher who throws strikes. I think he's Detroit's No. 2 guy for the playoffs, ahead of Scherzer.
David,Are the Tigers legitimate contenders in the playoffs this season? How far can they go?
My pat answer to analyzing the postseason: If you make it, you can win. The team with the best record in the regular season rarely wins the World Series. And I believe the last team with the best record in the NL to win the World Series was the 1986 Mets.
As for the Tigers, yes, I think they can go deep. Verlander, Fister and Scherzer isn't a good top three, although you never know which Scherzer will show up. Detroit's bullpen has a 3.15 since the All-Star break and Al Albuquerque just returned. If he pitches like he did early in the season, the pen is 4-5 deep. The lineup is solid, although as I've written Leyland keeps screwing it up. And now Boesch is out for the year, which will hurt, missing that lefty bat.
What are your thoughts on Beckett's sprained ankle? How severe is it and will he be healthy by the playoffs?
We should get an update today after he sees the specialist. Not much more to add until we hear more.
At this moment, who's your favorites to represent the AL in the WS? Let's assume Beckett will miss 2-3 starts (and not more). With the Yanks, notwithstanding their offense, let's not forget that they will have to go 4 deep in their postseason rotation which will be some combo of Nova/Hughes/Colon/Garcia/Burnett. Flashback to 2006 and Leyland's "murderer's row and Cano" line...how did that turn out? 3 consecutive losses by Yankees starters: Mussina, Big Unit, Jaret Wright (all 3 not exactly frontline pitchers at that point in their careers)...
For all the talk about the Yankees' rotation, they actually have a better starters' ERA than Boston or Detroit. That said, I am concerned. Only CC goes deep into games, so while the bullpen has been excellent, that will be a lot of strain in October on the relievers. Garcia was terrible his last start, Hughes has been bad his past two starts, Burnett of course has been awful. Nova looks like the No. 2 guy right now, and wouldn't you rather have Fister over Nova?
here's a fantasy trade - Jesus Montero for Matt Moore. Who blinks?
Speaking of the Yankees ... I think the Yankees make the trade in about three seconds. Nobody thinks Montero will stick at catcher, so that makes him a first baseman or DH, which lessens his value. A young pitcher is the bigger risk, but Moore may be the top pitching prospect in the minors right now. I'd rather take my chances and keep him and find an alternate way to fill 1B/DH.
Now that Verlander is beginning to run away with the AL Cy Young, who do you think is the favorite in the NL? Even though I'm a phillies homer, I still think it's Kershaw's to lose. Also, if Craig Kimbrel is in the discussion, doesn't Antonio Bastardo at least deserve a mention?
I don't think you can compare Kimbrel to guys with 130 more innings and frankly, anybody who thinks he's as valuable as Halladay/Kershaw/Lee/Kennedy needs his head examined. I'd probably give Kershaw the slight edge over Halladay and Lee right now, but Lee's six shutouts will loom large to the voters. Too close to call right now, but this has to be the best Cy Young race we've had in a long time.
Dave, with award season here, there's going to be lots of debate about the relative value of different candidates for the various awards, which always leads into debating the merits of their supporting stats. Of the squishier individual stats (pitcher wins, saves, holds, RBIs, runs scored), which ones do you consider worthwhile for creating valid arguments? If it's a continuum instead of a binary choice, how would you rank order these?
With pitchers, I start with innings pitched and runs allowed (basically: ERA), but factor in strikeouts, strikeout/walk ratio and opponents' batting average. I would never consider a reliever for a Cy Young Award; they just don't pitch enough innings in my book. That's what makes the NL race so tough right now: All the top guys have similar innings and ERA marks.
For batters, WAR is the one-stop shopping list to begin things, but it's not perfect. So I look at on-base percentage, positional value (not a stat, but important to consider), slugging percentage, runs and to a much lesser extent, RBIs. Unfortunately, for most voters, they start with RBIs, go to batting average and then look at home runs, scrappiness and the quality of one's teammates.
Was Burnett's reasonable start in Boston almost bad for the Yanks in the long run? In the sense that, on the basis of that, and let's say 1 or 2 more middling starts, he'll get thrown in the postseason rotation (if for no other reason, to justify his $16 mil salary!). He's a total basket case--would you have any doubt he'll blow up in a big spot? As opposed to, if they were to throw in the towel on him, they could at least use the last month trying out a starter-by-committee approach, which prob has a better chance of success...
Well, Girardi won't make his postseason rotation selection based off one OK start or a guy's salary. What I would fear (if you're a Yankees fan), is that Giradi will base his decision on the fact that Burnett had one good game in the 2009 World Series, forgetting that the rest of his postseason that year wasn't any good. Personally, I wouldn't even put Burnett on the playoff roster. CC could start three times in a seven-game series, so you need three other guys for 2,3, 5 and 6. Nova guys in 2 and 6, so you need a guy for Game 3 and a guy for Game 6. Flip a coin at this point.
David, when Mariano Rivera is closing in on an MLB record, why does he get 1% of the attention Derek Jeter gets for closing in on team records?
Hmm, did Jeter get much attention outside of New York? I'm not saying he didn't, I just don't know. You're in San Jose, so I guess that's the case. Part of it is (A) Rivera hasn't broken the record (I think he's four away); (B) and breaking a record held by Mickey Mantle is maybe more interesting than a record held by Trevor Hoffman? That doesn't really add up, other than it's been inevitable that Rivera would pass Hoffman and thus not all that interesting?
If the Tigers can claim the 3rd best record in the AL (currently 1/2 game out), that will give them home field in round one against the wild card team. With Fister and Verlander pitching like they are, I like those odds in a five game series.
Some links to you writing about Jim Leyland screwing up the batting order?
I've written that it's absurd that he keep hitting three guys with the lowest OBPs on the team 1-2-3 while continuing to hit Alex Avila and Jhonny Peralta 7 and 8 in the order. Why take at-bats away from your best hitters to give more to Austin Jackson and Delmon Young?
Isn't it kind of incredible how many runs Granderson has scored despite having only a .375 OBP (which is still pretty darn good)?
Here's a blog entry from last Friday on Granderson having a chance to score 150 runs. Only two guys have done it since WWII -- Ted Williams and Jeff Bagwell. But, yes, amazing he has that many runs; his teammates must have a great average when he's on base. http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/15757/granderson-could-achieve-historic-feat
Something really needs to be done about Yankee Stadium, Dave. On Sunday, A-Rod hit a routine fly ball to right, slammed his bat down in frustration...and the ball ended up going out.
Missed that. I agree, it's a little short down the line, although seems to play more fair to the power alleys and straightaway center.
Sucks for Shields that Verlander and CC are having such great years, I think he is getting overlooked!!! Now that the season is winding down, can you give us sad Orioles fans a Matt Wieters synopsis???
You know, Wieters has had a pretty solid year. Should win the AL Gold Glove and his batting line is good for a catcher. No, it doesn't appear he'll be the "Joe Mauer with power" hitter everyone expected, but he's turned into a good player with potential still to improve. FanGraphs rates him the No. 4 catcher in the majors this season, behind Avila, Montero and McCann. (Also behind Napoli if you want to consider him a catcher.)
Tyler Flowers, Dayan Viciedo, Alejandro De Aza, do you think any or all of these could make Chicago's 2012 starting lineup?
I think they have to find room somewhere for Viciedo and see what he can do. Pierzynski is still under contract for one more year, so I assume he'll be back at catcher, although I'd like to see Flowers split duties. De Aza has played and had a decent season in Triple-A, but he's nothing more than a bench player.
NL MVP...who ya got?
Right now, I go Matt Kemp.
Have you noticed the lack of walks the Braves are getting lately? Function of Parrish or what?
Hadn't noticed that, so don't have a good answer. They were 14th in NL in walks drawn in August and have 16 in five games this month. Hmm. Definitely not a good sign for the postseason.
people keep saying Verlander is running away with the AL Cy Young...dare I say it, but is CC's year in New York going unnoticed? don't tell this to Verlander supporters but CC actually has a higher fWAR (6.7 to 6.4) and lower FIP and xFIP...all while pitching in a terrible pitcher's park.
I don't think you can use fWAR for pitchers. It's based on a formula of hypothetical runs allowed. In the real world, Verlander has allowed 16 fewer runs. Baseball-Reference WAR has Verlander much more "valuable" at 7.8 to 5.8. Also, Yankee Stadium isn't necessarily a terrible park for left-handers, since it doesn't help right-handed batters much.
If Kennedy posts a September month like his August he will be sitting at about 22-5 with a 2.75 ERA. Won't it be hard for voters to not give him the award?
Yes, it will be still be hard. The other candidates have been just as good or better, and I think we learned last year that voters are getting smarter to look past a pitcher's win-loss record. Kershaw, for example, has: a better ERA, higher K rate, fewer walks, more innings, fewer hits allowed. And he's 17-5.
Hi David, since someone brought up Granderson...lost in all the hype (IMO) on the Granderson-for-MVP momentum in the media (NY-media created??) are a couple pretty glaring problems--the guy has 148 strikeouts in 136 games, that's third in the league! Add that to a 270 BA, and the fact that run generation & RBI's are a product of the run-producing machine of the Yanks (of which he is a part, granted), and I would think this should be Verlander's year, despite the fact that his numbers aren't Pedro '99, but still worthy in an otherwise weak year for batters. He's at risk for throwing a no-hitter every time out, it seems...
The strikeouts don't really bother me ... an out is an out for the most part. I did write something recently that no MVP has had a batting average that low since Johnny Bench hit .270 in 1972 (he led the league in HRs and RBIs). But I'm with you on Verlander and he seems to be getting some MVP support from national writers like Buster Olney, which help his case. Only one pitcher has received a first-place in the past five years (Johan Santana), but Verlander will buck that trend this year.
Say Julio Teheran rakes in his limited time in September, what are the Braves going to do with him in the post-season?
If he pitches well, I can see him added to the postseason roster as a reliever, but I don't see the Braves starting him, even with the questionable health of Jurrjens and Hanson.
David, at this point LaPorta is clearly a bust. Should the Indians move Santana there and get a catcher or keep Santana as the C and look for a 1B (hopefully a RH bat)?
I'm a believer in pushing a guy as far down (up?) the defensive spectrum as possible, so I'd like them to keep Santana at catcher. He's thrown out 24 percent of baserunners -- not great, but certainly acceptable. His passed ball and wild pitch rates look OK to me. I know Marson has done a nice job back there, but I say Cleveland is better off keeping Santana behind the plate and finding a first baseman who can hit.
Jim Leyland had been doing this for years in Detroit. I'm sorry, but how does Andy Dirks play instead of Magg's and how does Don Kelly get any playing time. His stubborness is going to cost the Tigers in the playoffs
Hey Charles, probably because Closer is like the 10th most important position in the game. And save stats have been discredited as an indicator of greatness.
Ok, so now that you've laid out YOUR criteria for how you decide on awards, I'd assume you are going Kemp and Batista for MVP and Kershaw and Verlander for Cy? Or has Cliff Lee snuck in there (I just looked at his numbers this year and he's closer to Doc and Kershaw than I thought)?
Lee has definitely snuck in there. He's had 11 starts allowing no runs. Since 1980, only Dwight Gooden and John Tudor in 1985 have done that. I think the NL vote will need to be thoroughly dissected ... quality of opponents, number of dominant games, etc.
On the opposite side of LaPorta (in terms of traded Brewers prospects) is Brett Lawrie. What do you expect of him going forward?
One of the best hitters in the AL over the next decade?
three legged race between Doc, Lee, and Kershaw for NL Cy. you gotta give it to Doc, though, don't you? lowest FIP, xFIP, SIERA, most consistent pitcher of the group. highest WAR among the three, as well.
Why are people more willing to support Red sox for MVP as compared to Yankees when both teams are expected to do as well as they do? What's with the anti-Yankee sentiment?
Where is this anti-Yankee sentimement you refer to? Granderson has received tons of MVP publicity.
from my understanding, Fangraphs uses FIP (BR uses tRA), which is based on things a pitcher does right (K, BB, GB, HRs allowed) and WAR adjusts for ballpark and league. seems fair to me, no?
Right, but my take is FIP should be used more as a predictive stat ... ie, CC has a great strikeout/walk ratio so he'll be great. My personal opinion is it's one piece of the puzzle, but isn't necessarily great as a retroactive analysis. Remember, a pitcher's job is to keep runs off the scoreboard, not compile a great FIP. And Verlander has been better at preventing runs this year than CC.
Posada off the postseason roster for the Yankees....and maybe Montero's bat instead???
I think so, yes.
Didn't you know Dave, Fangraphs subtracts .5 fWAR per year spent on the Yankees roster.
I'm going to predict that Hosmer and Lawrie will battle for more than a couple MVPs in the next decade.
Fangraphs WAR uses FIP in its calculations, which seems fair to me -- FIP encompasses everything a pitcher can control and takes into account what he did during the season (it is a descriptive ERA estimator after all). Verlander will definitely win the award but it seems odd that the media is not giving CC his due, given that he plays on the Yankees.
Which pitcher who missed most or all of 2010 will have the biggest impact next year: Strasburg, Johan Santana, or Adam Wainwright?
I don't have a good crystal ball, but if you're asking which one I'd want for 2012, I guess I'd go Strasburg since he seems the most advanced in his recovery.
What do you think happens to the Giant's rotation in 2012 assuming Vogelsong stays solid? I know he hasn't logged this many innings..ever, but do you see jonathan Sanchez maybe getting non-tendered because of Timmy needing a new deal and of course the Zito contract? Or is Sanchez tendered and then traded, although at this point it would be selling at his lowest possible value?
I don't think Sanchez would be non-tendered. Despite his numbers this year, he would have some trade value even after an arbitration-induced salary. The bigger question: Do they just cut bait with Zito? You're eating $46 million, but I don't see the point in bringing him back.
Dustin McGowan's return! Thoughts?
Very happy for him. He was a real up-and-coming pitcher before he got injured. Nice story and a credit to his perseverance. Hope he does well!
verlander pitches in a pitcher park and his babip is extremly low and cc slighly high. and cc faces better competion. i give it to verlander. there a legit reason why cc rated higher on fansgraph
I agree that's it closer than most people are saying. Verlander does have a better road ERA than CC, but like you said he's probably faced easier competition overall. But I'd also have trouble giving the Cy to a guy who has been terrible against the one team he has to beat.
OK, time to run. Thanks for all the questions. Looks like we'll be debating these awards to no end the rest of the season. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Check out the SweetSpot blog all week long!