Friday, March 26, 2010

Subtracting the Bear

It's Friday and it's suddenly cold as balls. A few random tidbits to pass around. Some slight, some otherwise.

That Time of Year

Yes, Spring Training is winding down, which means it is time for Rich Lederer to unveil his annual pitcher categorization post. Always an enjoyable day, though Blue Jays fans should look at it with some measure of concern. Lederer combined all innings from 2007 to 2009 to give a more complete profile of the pitchers.

As usual, the upper right quadrant spells out the keys to goodness pretty clearly. Ground balls, strikeouts, minimal walks. One of the reasons I like this post so much is it shows the true qualities that make Roy Halladay one of the best. The only pitcher to eliminate 15% of his own batters (strikeouts minus walks divided by batters faced) while inducing ground balls from more than 50% of his opposition. As always, ground balls don't turn into home runs very easily, this seems like a logical standard to set.

For the current Jays staff, the outlook isn't so rosy*. Brian Tallet ranks as one of the worst starters in baseball, landing in the dreaded bottom left corner. Just 8% of K-BB/BF and a mere 38% ground ball rate. Good thing he's only the nominal fifth starter! Whoops, third starter Brandon Morrow sports nearly identical numbers as Tallet, thanks to his complete inability to throw strikes. As a fly ball pitcher, he really, really, needs to eliminate the walks if he's to even approach respectability.

Ricky Romero isn't set up quite so poorly thanks to his heady ground ball numbers. He misses far more bats than some of the other wormburners in his section (Fausto Carmona, Chein-Ming Wang) and a slight decrease in walks could push our boy RR into the quadrant of greatness and riches.

Good signs or portents of doom? Both Shaun Marcum and Scott Richmond(!) rank as good strikeout guys dogged by persistent fly balls. Scott Richmond will fight for the remainder of his nascent big league career to keep the ball in the yard, while Shaun Marcum is the Opening Day starter we can all get behind. Strikeouts are sexy!

* - I should note, nay I MUST note, that Dustin McGowan's numbers land him in the super exclusive upper right column. Astounding! His strikeout numbers sneak up on you, as it turns out. Good for him, good for us. Hurry back Dusty!

SIERA Grande

Staying with the rotational audit, I finally threw some numbers into J's SIERA calculator. Is it a better ERA predictor than FIP et al? Who cares!! Let's see SIERA says about the current Jays starting crop.

Shaun Marcum12363050192176174.0214.384.244.463.39
Ricky Romero14177179286141124.1804.674.094.334.30
Brandon Morrow6331344768794.6225.104.895.054.39
Marc Rzepcynski60261308547 03.7994.623.704.143.67
Brian Tallet12071772185220144.6624.984.934.685.32

Note the "total SIERA" you see comes from the total components posted while the xFIP etc are just averages. Does this mean we can expect the Jays starters to give up 4.5 runs per 9 innings? With the potentially lousy defense behind them that would go down as a mild victory. Again, I'm not too sure what to make of SIERA and what we can expect from this crop of starts (R-Zep is awesome!) but it's just more to chew on, I suppose.

There Comes a Time

I used to really like Minus the Bear. I saw them for the first time in 2003 at the Reverb Rivoli, at which time I observed them imbibing incredible amounts of Jack Daniels for such a technical band. As an unabashed Dave Knudson acolyte, I dove right into their early records with gusto.

Sadly, I think my time with Minus The Bear is over. I just can't get into the whole epic prog-rock thing from outer space. The live show always left me cold since only one guy in the band can sing, but the records always hold my attention. The current direction might just leave me in the dust. Thanks MtB, it's been a slice.

Update: I just realized the MtB show was at the Rivoli, not the Reverb. Smaller and more credible! I drank a lot that night. Sigh.



  1. The Blue Jays with a Machine Gun post is correct

    Overbay is useless

  2. Call me crazy, but I'd argue a 2.5-3.5 Win player is quite useful, platooned or otherwise.

  3. You've got me blushing like a school girl. Thanks, Drew.

  4. Random question: Shouldn't Ichiro be fluent in English after 10 years in the US? Or is he not learning on he's a genius.

  5. I heard about Minus the Bear two months ago when an ex-gf tweeted about them... I'm in the know.

  6. I think "fatigued arm" will now become my new go-to term for any pitcher related struggle.

  7. Drew,

    You posted a James' quote on "clogging bases" in DJF the other day. 42% of men on first score with bases empty in front and 45% of men on first score when second is occupied.

    My question, which shouldn't be asked at DJF if one wants to be answered, is that shouldn't we expect the latter case to be higher? Isn't a sign of a pitcher struggling, while even Doc and Tiny Tim put a man on first now and then?

    Just wonderin'.

  8. You missed the key point of the quote Gil: "on a double."

    In other words, runners on first and second, batter hits a double. The runner on first scores more often in that scenario than when he's the only one on.

    Or, there is no impact of having a runner ahead of you when trying to score from first on a double, despite conventional wisdom that poor Joey Gathright would be clipping at the heels of Lyle Overbay, preventing him from scoring in that instance. BASERUNNER DRANO!

  9. hey, i'm plenty smart...just don't read too good.


Send forth the witticisms from on high