Filed under: News, Stats & Analysis | Tags: Adam Jones, Bill Hall, David Wells, Jeremy Reed, Jim Edmonds, Joe Thatcher, Johnny Damon, Los Angeles Dodgers, Melky Cabrera, Randy Wolf, Reggie Willits, Ryan Church, San Diego Padres, Scott Linebrink, Tony Gwynn Jr., Trevor Hoffman
Now coming down the pipe: Randy Wolf will sign a 1-year deal with the Pads. I like this move; I got to watch Wolf pitch a little bit this year (again, I live in Dodgers’ TV territory) and he’s got underrated stuff. Not a terribly hard thrower (88-90 on the fastball), but he has a sharp, slow (~68 MPH) curveball and will get his share of strikeouts. Plus, he’s a lefty, and he’s not named David Wells. Without getting into the numbers of the deal, my gut says this is a good deal for the Friars.
As promised, here’s the remainder of the trade candidates for center field.
Reed came up full-time in 2005, starting for the Mariners in center for most of the year. Over 144 games, he hit .254/.322/.352. However, in 2006, he dipped to .217 before an injury ended his season; in 2007, he fell off the radar, playing just 13 games in the bigs and being passed in the organization by Adam Jones. Reed did hit .298/.349/.451 in Tacoma last year, showing considerably more power than he did with the club in 2005 (although the hitter-friendly PCL probably had something to do with that). For me, he’s probably about a .260 hitter at best, although I’ve heard he’s a pretty good defensive player; he’d probably be very cheap, since he has little value to the mariners at this point in time. Might be another name to throw in the hat…
Edmonds makes his second home on the disabled list, so he’s definitely an injury risk. He battled groin issues last year and underwent two surgeries after the 2006 season. His OPS has declined each of the last 4 years, starting at 1.061 before falling all the way to .727 last year. Some of the drop in power could be attributed to his injuries, so if he’s healthy, he might show a little more pop in 2008; however, the more likely scenario is that age is finally taking its toll on Edmonds. Looking at range factor, he still shows slightly above-average range in center, although he clearly is not the player he once was. He is also a little expensive, as he is due to make $8M in 2008. He might be able to recapture a little of the old magic, but the chances of that happening are slim. Bringing Edmonds in would be a needless risk, in my opinion.
Tony Gwynn Jr.
Ah, the hometown favorite. Gwynn raised his profile by beating Trevor Hoffman for a game-tying triple on the final weekend of the season with the Pads one pitch away from clinching a playoff berth. He’s currently blocked by Bill Hall in Milwaukee, so he would likely be available for the right price. In fact, Towers tried to get Gwynn in the deal that brought Joe Thatcher over for Scott Linebrink. Gwynn served mostly off the bench for the Brewers in 2007, hitting .260 over 123 at-bats; he’s a career .272 minor league hitter. As far as a major league comparison, I’d say Gwynn looks like a poor man’s Reggie Willits; pretty good average & OBP, no power, good speed, good defense, lousy arm. Good enough for the Pads? Only as a fallback if nothing else pans out.
The Yankees seem desperate to pawn off Damon on anyone who will pay a part of his substantial 2008 salary. Melky Cabrera has supplanted Damon in center field for the Yanks, and they do not have room for him in the outfield anymore. For all the whining out of New York, Damon still had a pretty decent 2007; he hit .270/.351/.396 in 141 games. For his career, he’s a .288/.353/.433 hitter with an OPS+ of 102. Those are pretty good numbers for a center fielder, especially in the power department; his numbers dipped last year, at least partly due to an abdominal problem that dogged him in the second half. The perception in the media is that Damon does not have legs to play center anymore; however, his range factor has been above league average each of the last five years, and he still shows good speed on the basepaths (27 SB in 2007). If he’s healthy and still fast enough to play center, he’d probably be a very good fit here; rangy, nice OBP, shows a little gap power. He’s still under contract through 2009 at a problematic $13M per, though, so that could be an issue in trade talks.
Oops. Looks like we’re a little late on this one. He was traded to New York on Friday.
Filed under: Stats & Analysis | Tags: Bill James, Brad Penny, Brandon Webb, C.C. Sabathia, Chris Young, David Wells, Jake Peavy, Josh Beckett, San Diego Padres
Stat guru and Red Sox advisor Bill James recently published his list of the top 50 young players in baseball. He listed our own Jake Peavy at #17. Given Jake’s numbers that year, James’ rating is questionable in and of itself. But the esteemed Mr. James isn’t done; here’s what he had to say about #44.
17. Jake Peavy, San Diego starting pitcher (26).
Often cited as the best starting pitcher in baseball, which probably has quite a bit to do with park effects. Padre fans at this moment are bellowing that Peavy was 10-1 with a 2.57 ERA on the road, as if this should preclude us from taking park effects into account.
OK, we all know Petco has a favorable effect on pitchers. That’s not the question at the heart of this. What we should really ask is whether Jake is still the pitcher we see on the field when you subtract the influence of the ballpark. Let’s look at a few park-adjusted stats, as Mr. James recommends, and compare Jake with a few of the other preeminent pitchers in the game today.
Peavy: 19-6, 2.54 ERA, 9.67 K/9, 159 ERA+ (1st among MLB pitchers), 17.9 expected wins (1st), 77.0 VORP (1st)
Brandon Webb (ARZ): 18-10, 3.01 ERA, 7.38 K/9, 156 ERA+ (2nd), 15.9 expected wins (3rd), 66.1 VORP (2nd)
Josh Beckett (BOS): 20-7, 3.27 ERA, 8.69 K/9, 145 ERA+ (7th), 13.7 expected wins (21st), 58.6 VORP (9th)
C.C. Sabathia (CLE): 19-7, 3.21 ERA, 7.80 K/9, 143 ERA+ (8th), 15.2 expected wins (7th), 65.2 VORP (3rd)
Brad Penny (LAD): 16-4, 3.03 ERA, 5.84 K/9, 151 ERA+ (T-3rd), 16.1 expected wins (2nd), 61.7 VORP (5th)
So, when looking at three significant park-adjusted measures of pitcher value, Peavy still ranks first among all MLB pitchers for the 2007 season. This is not to say that no other pitcher is in Jake’s league; the margins in all 3 categories are close, as the likes of Webb, Sabathia and Penny are all very close to Jake.
As with all numbers, they don’t tell the whole story, and from having watched Jake all year long, I would say that no starter in the National League was more valuable to his team than Jake Peavy. When the Pads needed someone to step up and stop a losing streak, Jake stepped up. When CY got hurt and Boomer proved ineffective, Jake basically carried the staff for 2 months. Even taking into consideration the fact that Jake came up small in the two biggest games of the year, he was one of the better big-game pitchers in the National League up until the final bell; consider his 9-1 record and 2.28 ERA over August and September, not counting the playoff against the Rockies, which obviously counts for a lot in the hearts and minds of many fans.
So, Mr. James, whether you judge it by the numbers or by the seat of the pants, one thing is clear: Jake Peavy is one of the top 5 pitchers in the game today.
No matter what ballpark he pitches in.