Catching Up

by Kevin in Dallas on February 9, 2013 · 30 comments

in 2013 Season,Spring Training

Post image for Catching Up

Hello Friends -

This PED stuff is really interesting to me. My reaction to the latest reports on Biogenesis was a far cry from the disappointment that I had to similar reports in the (way) past. At this point in time, I’m surprised there weren’t more people on the list. Or any Tigers for that matter (well, none on the big league club, prospect Cesar Carillo was linked). If you were to take a pure economic look at using PEDs (laced with tons of assumptions, but hey, I said “economic”) I think the risk/reward test isn’t so easy. Let’s take a look at Melky Cabrera. Here’s his WAR and OPS+ in each full season:

Year WAR (B-R) OPS+

* suspended for 50 games.

Here’s the same table with an additional column.

Year WAR (B-R) OPS+ Salary
not listed

And in case you missed it – he’ll make $9,000,000 in each of 2013 and 2014.

I think we can all hazard a guess as to when he started taking PEDs. Assuming he did start prior to the 2011 season, why wouldn’t everyone in his situation take PEDs? A long vacation and financial security for the rest of your life (I’m ignoring adverse health consequences for the sake of argument); I’ll take it. Sure, he lost $2M or so last year, and his next violation would cost him 100 games, or roughly $6M on his current contract. He’d still have made $16M over 3 years – with 150 games in suspensions.

Now, some will argue that taking PEDs hurt his market value last fall, but what would his market value have been had he never taken them?


Moving on.

- Great article on the limitations and frustrations of WAR. Notably, the discrepancies between B-R and FanGraphs. I use WAR quite a bit in my analysis, but it’s not perfect. That’s why Baseball is a talking sport.

- King Felix signed for $175M over 7 years is about to sign a huge deal. JV is licking his chops.

- Keith Law unveiled his Tigers top 10 prospects list (you’ll need insider) – here are the top 5: Castellanos, Garcia, Rondon, Tyler Collins, Danny Vasquez.

- P&C report on Tues, full squad on Friday. Why do the pitchers and catchers go 3 days early? What do they do?



The Strategy Expert February 9, 2013 at 4:42 pm

For Melky, well he could have been making a heck of a lot more than $9MM if he didn’t get caught. So there is a tremendous upside to the ceiling of the financial benefits if one is to get away with it.

The WAR article is a really good find and a good read too. I feel the same way as the author of that in that I like WAR a great deal too, but I think that people struggle on how to appropriately define it and how to use it to make judgments about what a player is truly worth, partly due to some of his concerns he mentions. And then there’s people who look at a WAR and think you can put a price on determining what a player should be paid or how much he should be invested in to acquire. That’s not a good way to use the WAR statistic. You have guys like Prince Fielder that can never produce the equivalent stats relative to his pay structure, and then you have your lowly paid rookies that can break out and produce an off the charts value relative to that pay scale as it compares to Fielder’s salary. The game of baseball isn’t about buying up the WAR, it’s about finding ways to leverage the WAR so that you can obtain it and wield it efficiently and effectively. One has to be careful about how they craft their interpretive perceptions of what the stat data means, and WAR data can be misleading and tricky to understand.

Kevin in Dallas February 9, 2013 at 7:56 pm

With you 100% on both points TSE.

Basically, you don’t get caught and you make millions, or you get caught and you make a little bit less.

The Strategy Expert February 9, 2013 at 7:59 pm

And the laws and rules of society and business and professional sports currently offers favorable rewards to those that try to game the system and avoid getting paid from earning or deserving big money.

Vince in MN February 10, 2013 at 11:13 am

Well, actually there are different rules for society at large compared to big business. And professional sports is a big business. But, since this is not a Tigers topic, I will stop there.

The Strategy Expert February 12, 2013 at 7:14 pm

Yes different rules, that’s why I am saying BOTH contribute to the mess of the system.

Vince in MN February 10, 2013 at 11:16 am

Good question on why pitchers and catchers start a few days early. Maybe it is because pitchers have to stretch out their arms a bit, while catchers have to stretch out their….. well, you know.

Smoking Loon February 11, 2013 at 10:36 pm

Let’s have some fun with this question. I see Vince already has.

“I’m often asked this time of year why pitchers and catchers report early to spring training? Pitchers typically need about 45 days to properly stretch out their arms before the start of the regular season.”

That, believe it or not, is the best answer I found in a Google search I became bored with quickly. Opinion unsupported by any actual facts. I believe that the actual answer is one that comes up a lot in baseball: Tradition. What started the tradition? Another common answer: Who knows? (More opinion unsupported by actual facts.)

I don’t see any real reason for pitchers and catchers to report early, unless this is a time for them to work on the most highly classified secret signs that only pitchers and catchers may ever know and are sworn to secrecy about (formally and legally). Otherwise, I’m sure the rest of the team could find things to do while the pitchers and catchers stretched for a few days.

Coleman February 12, 2013 at 12:14 am

I have it from a reliable source that they need a week to work on the most complicated play in baseball, the Intentional Walk.

Jimeggers currently training on Kauai February 13, 2013 at 10:49 pm

Lots of pfp is required so they can screw it up during big games in the regular season

Smoking Loon February 14, 2013 at 12:27 am

What, yet another PED to keep track of now (pfp)?


Smoking Loon February 15, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Watching the 2012 Tigers, I’ve been getting the impression that the most complicated play in baseball is any ball hit to the infield.

KW February 14, 2013 at 1:19 pm

This comic perfectly sums up how I feel these days about steroid scandals in sports:

Smoking Loon February 15, 2013 at 9:40 pm

Cheating in baseball is a complicated subject. Cheating with chemicals is no exception. Obviously, there’s no drug that’s going to turn a crappy baseball player into a great one all by itself. The thing that leaves a bad taste in my mouth about players who make steroids and hormones a part of their game is what it says about their judgment and their regard for the game itself.

Vince in MN February 14, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Peralta arrives in camp in the best shape of his career (well at least his Tigers career):

Smoking Loon February 15, 2013 at 9:44 pm

Nice article on Brayan Pena:

Smoking Loon February 19, 2013 at 6:56 pm

Dilemma? Mike Trout didn’t take the bat out of Torii Hunter’s hands in 2012, did he?

The Strategy Expert February 19, 2013 at 7:23 pm

I find it to be embarrassing for AJ that Leyland is declaring to everybody that AJ worries about embarrassing himself in front of the big hitters. Gee thanks a lot skipper for supplying nothing of value and only something that can possibly be turned into a negative in the player’s mind. That’s a lose-lose type of comment and very untactful. It’s one thing if a player is talking about himself and about not wanting to be embarrassed, but you just don’t say things like that about another professional when speaking to the public.

bada bing February 19, 2013 at 9:54 pm

Because Jim Leyland isn’t a player’s manager, and it is obvious that players don’t want to play for him…

The Strategy Expert February 20, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Of course he’s a popular Manager, he is indeed a “player’s manager”. But the players also aren’t experts at the science of winning baseball. That’s the main drawback to Leyland’s game and overall value is that he doesn’t have the technical brains to get the most out of his team. The players that vote are not grading him accurately and with respect to how good of a manager he is, that’s not what this poll is measuring. And if you take out the science of baseball out of the equation, then I would pick Leyland myself to be in the Top 3 of most likable managers. He’s a gritty veteran clubhouse guy with a tremendous amount of passion and spirit for the game. There’s a premium value and appreciation for the wisdom of old-fashioned skippers that are also willing to charge the field in protest on a daily basis if needed. There’s not much of anything for a player not to like about him that they are qualified to form opinions about.

bada bing February 20, 2013 at 11:30 pm

Your entire argument in your original post pertains to the player’s state of mind; not managerial acumen. I point out that players do, in fact, appear to want to play for Leyland. Yet, your entire response to my post, which exclusively delves into a player-manager relationship, is based on manager strategy. These are two different entities. Please integrate the connection between these two ideas in your next response; this would be greatly appreciated. I’m making the assumption that you care to respond.

Smoking Loon February 19, 2013 at 10:35 pm

From that article I linked to:

“It’s a confidence factor,” Leyland said. “He doesn’t want to get thrown out, and when he knows he has hitters like Cabrera behind him he doesn’t want to be embarrassed. We need more steals out of him.”

I don’t see a problem there. More confidence, more steals, because Jackson has the talent. Anyone would be embarrassed to get erased from the bases with Cabrera due up. It’s not as though Jackson has been “outed.”

The Strategy Expert February 20, 2013 at 1:07 pm

No I wouldn’t say he was “outed” so to speak. But there are stats that show almost every man thinks about and considers homosexuality to at least some small extent. So if this was a different topic you still wouldn’t ever say something like “well I’m sure AJ has considered homosexuality before, just because everybody thinks about that stuff technically right? You might be able to see from this slight change how that could make a player uncomfortable with the sentiment that is being offered about himself, even if it’s not unreasonable to assume it should hold true. Leyland isn’t talking about a fair-to-be-assumed positive quality here, and it’s just an awkward thing to say that has no way to create a benefit and only a potential to be a problem if AJ’s mind or subconscious mind decide it to be.

Vince in MN February 20, 2013 at 3:12 pm

To paraphrase HL Mencken: “Never overestimate the intelligence of the American ballplayer.”

Smoking Loon February 20, 2013 at 11:39 pm

Indeed, Vince. But remove “American” – it’s universal. And it’s not so much a question of intelligence as it is… as Steve Martin said, some people have a way with words. Other people… not… have… way. I don’t know which makes me feel more embarrassed for the speaker, the ridiculously abstract questions posed by media types, or the stock replies in mangled or seriously foreshortened English. But there are exceptions. Curtis Granderson comes to mind.

TSE: Yes, Leyland *is* talking about a fair-to-be-assumed positive quality here. Consideration of risk. Evidently, AJ had the green light more often than I and perhaps most of us would have thought last season. Leyland reveals – and it’s not a stunning revelation – that lack of confidence contributed to the caution that held AJ back. What AJ has said corroborates this – read his statements. This is not something that is going to haunt AJ and cause the sensitive young man to develop a complex. It’s both a permission and a positive challenge, and I’m sure deeper private conversations between Leyland and AJ have long preceded these little snippets we’re getting. What was said to the press is part of the managing game, nothing unprofessional about it. Baseball is entertainment, and it would be a good deal less entertaining if players and managers never spoke at least somewhat frankly once in a while.

bada bing February 20, 2013 at 11:36 pm

You just linked a Austin Jackson (hearsay) being embarrassed to making an inference that he is, possibly, a homosexual. You win strawman argument of the year. I don’t even need to be a lawyer to know this is ridiculous.

Smoking Loon February 21, 2013 at 12:03 am

I now regret having used the word “outed.” I just couldn’t – and still can’t – think of another one that expressed the intended concept so economically.

I find it to be embarrassing for AJ that TSE is declaring to everybody that AJ has had gay thoughts. Gee thanks a lot TSE for supplying nothing of value and only something that can possibly be turned into a negative in Torii Hunter’s mind. it’s just an awkward thing to say that has no way to create a benefit and only a potential to be a problem if AJ’s mind or subconscious mind decide it to be. Hunter might even refuse to bat behind Jackson now.

Smoking Loon February 21, 2013 at 12:29 am

OK. “Called out.” But that’s two words. Also an unintended pun, considering that stealing bases was the subject. Might confuse athletes.

The Strategy Expert February 21, 2013 at 12:33 am

I didn’t say AJ had gay thoughts, I was manufacturing a hypothetical question. Besides, even if I did say he was gay I’m just some guy on the internet, and not his Manager, so it wouldn’t be the same thing anyhow.

Smoking Loon February 21, 2013 at 1:36 am

Just funnin’ with ya, TSE. I got your actual point about the actual matter, just didn’t agree any lines were crossed or harm done.

The Strategy Expert February 21, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Well it’s definitely harmful, the only question is to what extent. I’m a penny saved is a penny earned guy, so I’m not the type of guy who looks at lost cents and dollars and doesn’t bother to account for them on a balance sheet. I don’t brush things under the rug and deny that they exist. The extent of the problem here in this situation is so minor in comparison to all of our huge problems as a franchise, so on a general basis I wouldn’t say any significant line was crossed of any major consequence. But that’s not the point. It’s bad form and bad practice and a warning sign that more negative stuff is to come. And the harm is all subjective to account for. Jim has spent a long time here in Detroit saying foolish and completely stupid things to the media. It’s part of the package deal unless and until he can figure out how to be more of a professional. There is no way to probe AJ’s mind and determine a precise accounting of damages. I think it’s only logical to think that his words I was concerned with have no shot of helping AJ, and only a potential shot to make things worse.

The cost here is it makes the Manager look bad, and Jim has a knack for doing things like this. He is awful in interviews and he says a lot of outlandish things that I feel are inexcusable and inappropriate. I just don’t like how he represents the team to the media, but in his defense he’s usually operating from a weak position of having to make excuses and explain why things aren’t going right. He’s stuck in operating in excuse mode, instead of getting-the-job-done mode. He’s working from an awful starting place with regard to his mindset.

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