Friday, January 20, 2012

Quick Rant on Assessing Pitchers

I like the website MLB Trade Rumors. However, I have been annoyed lately by every post on MLB Trade Rumors that has anything to do with a pitcher immediately breaking down to ridiculous arguments over whether said pitcher is "a #2" or a "an ace" or a "#4" etc. These arguments are worthless. No one has a real good idea what a "#2 starter" is. Is it the 31th-60th best starters in all of baseball? Is it what the 2nd best starter would look like on a good team? How about the second best on the Phillies? That one seems like it might be a pretty high standard. Can't the commentators just talk about how good he is relative to some fixed point like average or replacement level?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Myths about the Cubs

During much of this off-season, there has been talk about the problems with the Chicago Cubs and solutions to those problems. One of the most recurring indictments is too many long-term contracts, and that they have to get rid of all the bad contracts before they can start to fix the team. I want to look at the idea that the Cubs have too many long-term contracts. Here is the list of players signed beyond the 2012 season at the beginning of the off-season:

Alfonso Soriano $18 million in 2013 and 2014

Carlos Marmol $9.8 million in 2013

That's it. Now, the Soriano contract is a definite liability, but this is very low level of future commitment for a large-market team. I would even go as far to say that the bigger problem for the Cubs is not the number of long-term contracts being too numerous but that it is too few. If the Cubs had a few more quality players locked up long-term they would look a lot better, even with the deadweight of Soriano's contract. The true indictment of the Hendry years was the failure to produce talent that was worth extending long term, not the signing of expensive over-the-hill veterans.

In truth, the Cubs only had two contracts that were clear liabilities coming into the off-season, Soriano's and Zambrano's one-year $18 million contract*. I have heard numerous times that the Cubs should use the money that they would have spent on Prince Fielder** to pay off Zambrano's and Soriano's contracts. This idea makes no sense, as they have to pay those contracts regardless. The money that would have been used to sign Fielder would have been on top of that, essentially the salaries of Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena. This idea especially does not make sense for Zambrano, as I suppose you could use the "Fielder money" this year to buy out Soriano's last two years.

*They also owed some deferred salary that was not helping things.

**I do not want to suggest that signing Fielder necessarily would have been a good idea. I am just arguing against the supposed alternative use of the money.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Secondary BCS Bowls

There are some complaints about tonight's Michigan and Virginia Tech playing in a BCS bowl. While in the past, I have defended the BCS championship game, I have not defended the BCS secondary bowl selection process. The BCS seems to have two functions:

  1. Pit the two best teams in a National Championship game.
  2. Make sure that the majority of the revenue is distributed fairly evenly among the big conferences.

Evenly means that Arkansas is not playing in a BCS game, and big conferences is why Boise State is not playing in a BCS game. Of course the "small" schools got passed over in the old bowl system and to some degree in the basketball tournament as well. Virginia Tech and Michigan were selected because they travel well. The focus on BCS bowls is also overblown. Because Arkansas was ineligible and Kansas State was passed up, we ended up getting a pretty good game between those two in the Cotton Bowl.