Fangraphs now has UZR

Fangraphs continues to become the stat site for sabermetric player stats. Today they announce the addition of MGL’s UZR fielding system which is widely regarded as one of the most sophisticated fielding systems available.

UZR has been largely unavailable for the last several seasons because MGL has been consulting for big league teams. He’s posted leaders and trailers the last few years, but now the full data set is available. The only difference is that this set uses Baseball Info Solutions data instead of STATS Inc.

You can find them on the player pages and leader boards on Fangraphs site. But I thought I would drop in a few of interest here. These are runs per 150 games.

Jack Wilson: 06: -2.8, 07: 12.7, 08: 2.2
Adam Everett: 06: 24.9, 07: 24.4, 08: 10.0
Cesar Izturis: 06: -10.8, 07: -2.5, 08: 12.5
Edgar Renteria: 06: 2.1, 07: -2.2, 08: 1.1

Detroit Tigers Weblog Live – The Pilot

This is the DTW’s first foray into live web video. The show will kick off at 11 a.m. and you can watch it below. If you’d like to make comments you can head over to the ustream.tv page and join in the chat. I’ll be talking about the Tigers offseason, and the Jack Wilson rumors. Feel free to ask questions and I’ll try to tackle those as well.

I’ll try and archive this for later viewing after the show, and links I mention I will include in this post as well.

UPDATE: The archived version is now up below.

Continue reading Detroit Tigers Weblog Live – The Pilot

Jack Wilson post

No time to post now (day job and all), but there are rumors and denials about a Jack Wilson trade and I know people want to discuss it.

Here’s the link to MLB Trade Rumors which will be on top of this.

UPDATED: So there are more rumors and denials. All linked at the MLBTR link above. The buzz is so strong that it makes me think that this is close to happening, but the buzz is so all-over-the-place it makes me think it might be a load of crap.

It’s hard to offer up analysis without knowing any parameters, but I’ll wing it.

Money

When the Tigers declined offering Renteria arbitration because they didn’t want to be exposed to the possibility of a $9 million commitment, I figured that it had killed Wilson rumors. Wilson makes $7.5 million which is not significantly less than Renteria, plus there’s that whole thing about having to trade players.

Now in some of the reports it has the Pirates picking up the bulk of the salary, which is good in the sense that the Tigers are trying to achieve some sort of benefit here. It’s bad from the sense that Detroit is looking to the Pirates for cash. This really deserves a post of its own.

Is he an upgrade?

Wilson isn’t an upgrade over Renteria. If you see comments 12, 17, and 20 below, both players are about a half win below average. Wilson gets his value on defense while Renteria gets his on offense. Yes Renteria had a down year, but he still maintained a high line drive rate and improved dramatically in the second half.

Wilson is coming off an injury plagued season, but in his time on the diamond he was excellent at short (+16 in Fielding Bible). Of course with smaller samples comes greater opportunity for flukiness as well. Still, Wilson profiles at least as an above average defender. At the same time he’s another NL’er and would need that requisite adjusting thing.

What would the Tigers have to give up?

Probably too much, or at least it will feel like it. They want a stop gap, and the Pirates want prospects. So the Tigers are giving up something of future value for a one year rental of an average-ish player in a year where there intentions of competing or cutting costs seem to be diametrically opposed.

In terms of names…I’m not the guy to ask. I never thought they’d have to give up Jurrjens and Hernandez for Renteria.

What else could they do?

Adam Everett’s name got tossed out in one report today. He really is the ultimate all glove no hit guy. In his defensive prime he was 40 plays above average. But he’s really been hampered by injuries the last 2 years and you have to wonder if it will hurt his range. But he should be really cheap. Like Santiago cheap.

Cesar Izturis is another name I’d like to see linked to the Tigers. He isn’t as good as Wilson, in fact he’s a win worse with the bat and a little better with the glove, but if it’s cost cutting that’s in store, why not sacrifice a win to save $6 million or prospects?

I’m not opposed to Wilson, but I just hope that if it happens the Tigers don’t overpay for what could very likely be an inconsequential player. Stay tuned. I’ll talk more about this if it happens. Also, I will be streaming live at 11 a.m. ET tomorrow and will likely be discussing this more then.

No arbitration for Renteria

I think it is safe to call the Edgar Renteria-Jair Jurrjens/Gorkys Hernandez deal “the trade that just keeps taking.” There was hope that the Tigers could salvage a couple draft picks out of the trade, but that possibility is now gone as the team has declined to offer Renteria arbitration.
Continue reading No arbitration for Renteria

Renteria inked by Giants – Tigers get draft picks

UPDATE: It appears the report may not be true. Tim Dierkes keeps updating the link below with more information, so check back. I have to admit that $18 million for Renteria didn’t pass the smell test, but it was the Giants…

It appears that Edgar Renteria is heading back to the National League. The Giants have signed him to a 2 year, $18 million contract that seems pretty pricey given the season he just had. This is good news for the Tigers.

Because Renteria signed with the Giants there is now no ambiguity as to whether or not the Tigers should offer him arbitration and risk him accepting. Assuming that the Tigers do offer arbitration, and there is absolutely no reason why they wouldn’t, they will get 2 draft picks due to Renteria’s type A status.

Because the Giants were pretty awful last year, their first round pick is protected. Instead the Tigers will get their second round pick (4th pick), plus a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds. Maybe they can at least one of those into gold to lessen the sting of losing Jair Jurrjens and Gorkys Herandez.

Fun with the Bill James leaderboards

The Bill James Handbook is always one of the first baseball books to come out each year. It’s not a riveting narrative by any means and it consists largely of tables of numbers. But there are always some interesting pieces and there seems to be something new every year. Last year it was the Young Talent Inventory. This year it is a bullpen analysis. They sit alongside managerial stats, baserunning stats, and the Fielding Bible awards. But one of my favorite sections is the leaderboard.

I’m not going to copy a bunch of leaderboards for you here. That might be kind of tedious and boring for everyone, and it would definitely be a copyright violation. But I will point out some Tiger related items that are either interesting, or surprising, or noteworthy.

  • Despite coming back from a horrific shoulder injury, and ending the season early, Joel Zumaya still let the AL with 18 pitches thrown over 100MPH. Brandon League was next closest with 4. Fernando Rodney even managed 2 over the century mark.
  • Speaking of fastballs, Justin Verlander’s 93.6 average was 6th in the AL and Kenny Rogers’ 85.2 MPH heater was slower only than Tim Wakefield’s.
  • Armando Galarraga threw a slider 38% of the time which was the highest rate in the AL.
  • Despite Verlander’s struggles, his .377 slugging percentage against was good enough for 8th best.
  • Rogers and Nate Robertson both ranked in the top 5 in GIDP/9. Just think how bad things would have been if they hadn’t had so many twin killings.
  • Edgar Renteria was 4th in SS pivot percentage. Renteria also had the 2nd highest batting average against left handed pitching with the 7th highest batting average at home. If only the Tigers faced lefties at home more often…
  • Curtis Granderson continued his maturation by taking the 8th highest percentage of pitches and seeing the 5th most pitches per plate appearance.
  • Placido Polanco struck out less per plate appearance than anyone else in the AL, but it didn’t help him in run production where he had the 8th lowest RBI percentage (5.96)

Let the offseason begin

With the World Series officially over after the longest game 5 ever, I half (actually more than half) expected the Tigers to make a trade today.  When I saw a press release come across I thought my intuition was correct.  Instead it was a compilation of roster moves and the hiring of a bullpen coach.

The Tigers rehired Jeff Jones to be the bullpen coach after firing him at the end of the season.  I don’t find it that surprising or awkward.  Jones had been all but assured a role in the organization and his firing was more related to the dismissal of Chuck Hernandez.  I’d imagine Rick Knapp had the freedom to look elsewhere, but decided to stick with Jones.

The Tigers also announced that Dane Sardinha and Gary Glover had been outrighted and both decided to  become free agents.  As I imagined when Virgil Vasquez was claimed, he was one of several the team were pruning.  Eddie speculates on the motivation for the Tigers keeping Eddie Bonine and Mike Hessman on the big league roster.

Another spot on the 40 man roster was freed when the Tigers formally declined Edgar Renteria’s option.  This is hardly news though since Dave Dombrowki indicated as much a month ago. 

Declaring free agency was Freddy Garcia.  Garcia is still in the long toss stage after leaving the last game of the year with tightness in his greater shoulder area.  Don’t read too much into this as it is merely a formality. 

In addition to the Tigers getting their house in order, there is speculation about potential targets.  Jason Varitek’s name has gained some steam.  Mostly due to a Ken Rosenthal report that Scott Boras is shopping Varitek to Detroit.  But I have to agree with the consensus that this would not be a good thing.

Now Chad Cordero on the other hand…that’s worth considering for the right price.  And while the Tigers, like many teams, would be hesitant to offer much in the way of guaranteed money they can offer a wide open bullpen situation.

2008 Offseason Preamble

With a disastrous season completed it is time to head into the offseason. Given the gravity of the collapse, you know with the high payroll and the last place-edness, there is probably a tendency to overreact and second-guess. While a deep dive analysis is definitely called for, there is also some inaccuracy being bandied about. With that in mind, some thoughts as we head into what will likely be a tumultuous winter.

Dave Dombrowski did not abandon his philosophy

I’ve heard this one frequently. The common thread is that Dombrowski abandoned his pitching first philosophy in favor of “buiding a slow pitch softball team.” Dombrowski has always believed in stock piling young pitching and using it as the building blocks of a team. Whether that entails using the pitchers on his own team, or trading it to fill needs, he’s always used young pitching.

The Renteria trade was made in large part for defense, not to build a slow pitch slugging softball team. The benefit of Renteria was that he was to be a 2 way player. The problem was that while Renteria was a defensive upgrade, it was a small upgrade (Guillen was -12 in 1074 innings at short in ’07, Renteria was -9 in 1173 innings in ’08 according to Fielding Bible +/-) and his offense was beyond absent the first half of the season. The trade failed, there’s no question, but it wasn’t a change of philosophy.

As for Cabrera, defense was never a part of the issue. It was entirely an offensive move. But it was also an opportunity that doesn’t come along that often. Players like Cabrera don’t grow on trees and to add an elite player at age 25 is largely unheard of. It is the kind of big splash move that Dombrowski has been known for throughout his career.

As for the rest of the staff, they were far worse than could have reasonably been expected. While Willis struggled last year and was trending down, to get nothing from him was unexpected to everyone. Robertson was never a top of the rotation starter, but was the epitome of a solid back of the rotation guy. To compete, along with Kenny Rogers, for worst starter in the league wasn’t part of any reasonable plan. And then there was Verlander adding a run and a half to his ERA. That your entire starting rotation would be injured or significantly underperforming wasn’t part of any plan or strategy and more than could have been mitigated.

The window isn’t closed

I should adjust that and say “the window isn’t closed if Ilitch doesn’t want it to be.” The boss could go all Huizenga and say “cut-cut-cut” but I don’t see that happening. This team was positioned to go for it in both 2008 and 2009. Because 08 was crap doesn’t mean you need to abandon 09 as well. The offense should be good again next year, and it isn’t unreasonable to think that the pitching staff will see some return to non-crapitude next year.

In terms of trading, they’d be selling low on most of the players that fans want to see traded. They could probably get a nice return for Armando Galarraga, Curtis Granderson, and Miguel Cabrera, but who really wants to see them shopped?

Don’t overreact

Everybody wants speed, defense, and starters, and bullpen arms. Some better defense would be nice, but don’t sacrifice offense completely. The Tigers are ready to make that move at third with the Inge pronouncement. It means they can’t afford to do it at both catcher and shortstop.

The bullpen was awful, but 5 years and $75 million to fix it will be money poorly spent. As for starters, is it worth a second round draft pick to sign a Derek Lowe type starter? (it might be if the Tigers can get the draft pick compensation for Renteria)

I’m not saying do nothing. Clearly this team has holes at multiple positions and another starter and a 2-3 new bullpen arms are clearly needed. But I still think, and perhaps this is naive, but good teams can have bad seasons. This team wasn’t as good as we thought going in, and it isn’t as bad as we think right now. I’ll borrow this conclusion from Nate Silver’s piece in Baseball Prospectus ($) and quote sparingly because it is premium content.

Bad years happen to good clubs. The key for the Tigers will simply be not to panic, nor to try and save face with guys like Renteria and Willis whose projections don’t really warrant it. The Tigers need to budget somewhere between $15-$20 million for perhaps three pitchers next year, but with the contracts of Renteria, Todd Jones, Kenny Rogers, and Ivan Rodriguez all coming off the books, they can easily afford to do so without increasing payroll.

This has been a frustrating season in Detroit, but hardly a disastrous one in terms of the club’s long-term fortunes. There have been several pleasant surprises this year in Galarraga, Joyce, and Brandon Inge’s smooth transition back to the catcher position*. From top to bottom, the Tigers still rank somewhere in the top ten in the major leagues in terms of their overall talent pool, and they should be on track to return to contention with some relatively common-sense fixes.

*The Inge part was written on August 14th before Inge completely collapsed down the stretch offensively and started allowing a PB per game.

Dombrowski speaks – a lot more than usual.

Dave Dombrowski held court with reporters today and he revealed a glimpse into this winter’s agenda.

The main points:

  • Edgar Renteria’s option will not be picked up
  • The Tigers are looking outside the organization to fill the closer role
  • The Tigers don’t expect to be a major player in the free agent market
  • Detroit does not expect to cut payroll significantly
  • Dombrowski likes Cale Iorg thinking he’s going to be an All Star very soon.

My thoughts:

  • Declining the Renteria option was pretty much a no brainer. The Tigers can try and sign him for less and offer him arbitration.  If he declines and is signed somewhere else the Tigers get two draft picks.  If he accepts it probably is a decent stopgap.  Renteria is a decent bet to bounce back somewhat and not be a void in the lineup.  While there is a desire to upgrade the defense at short, with Inge and mystery catcher in the fold the Tigers can’t afford to go with a total defensive specialist at short.  They have that at third already now.  Renteria sounds like he’d like to be back.
  • Dombrowski’s comments about Iorg were quite enthusiastic.  It could be he’s trying to up the trade value, or diminish the Tigers needs, but the remarks came on the same day that Iorg made the BA Top 20 list for the FSL. (Rick Porcello was number 1).  It makes one think the Tigers aren’t looking for a long term fix for 2009.
  • Rodney got a lukewarm treatment from Dombrowski saying that he’d be the leading candidate on the current club, but he wanted more consistency.  But with the Tigers not making a splash that probably means no K-Rod or Fuentes which is fine.  The new closer will likely be an established set-up man who can be had for a cheaper price.  It might not satisfy the fan base, but is probably the best and only way to go given the payroll constraints and ridiculous sum that closers get.

In the end Dombrowski is looking for answers like the rest of us…

“Most years, when we go into spring training, I have a good feel for where we’ll finish,” he said.

“I’m so far off on this,” he said, shaking his head, his voice trailing off.

Random Friday factoids

Some stats and such that may or may not be interesting:

Edgar Renteria might not totally suck

Edgar Renteria is hitting 288/351/404 since the All Star Break. He is a career 290/347/404 hitter. He also has only 4 strike outs in his last 57 plate appearances (and 4 GIDP – eek). A return to normalcy or a blip in a crappy season?

Defensively he looked the best he has all season in the Indians series and +/- still has him at 0, meaning he is quite average. In RZR there are 9 qualified shortstops in the AL and Renteria is tied for 4th meaning he is kind of average.

Guillen can pick it

It turns out that Carlos Guillen can play defense. He isn’t stellar, but his .716 RZR is 6th out of 11 qualified shortstops. He rates as -1 in +/- which is 14th among MLB third baseman. Not stellar, but not bad for a guy on his 3rd position in the last calendar year. Considering that AL third sackers are hitting 266/339/428 and Guillen is hitting 286/374/437 that’s not a bad situation.

On kind of a downer note, Guillen hit 318 – 320 – 320 from 2004 to 2006. He dropped to 296 last year and 286 this year. And his slugging percentage is the lowest it’s been since his hamstring plagued 2005 season. His OBP is still solid, and there is a league widde dip in slugging so his OPS+ is still at 116. But is this the first step in what may be a rapid decline? It’s certainly possible for a player on the wrong side of 30.

Plunkocity

Clay Rapada drilled Grady Sizemore yesterday with the bases loaded driving in a run. It was the 5th time this season that a Tigers pitcher has plunked in a run. Also of note, Tigers pitchers have plunked 13 Indians batters this season. That is more than double the next closest team, the White Sox who have received 6 bruises from Tigers pitchers. A complete plunkocity report is available for your perusal.

Junkballing: Zach Miner, Tiger Stadium, and injured shortstops

Zach Miner starts again

The question of the 5th starter has been answered – for now. Zach Miner will take the spot formerly occupied by Eddie Bonine and before him Dontrelle Willis. Miner had some struggles with control out of the pen this year. But in two “stretch-out” starts for Toledo he has posted a 12:2 strike out to walk ratio in 8.1 innings. I’m in favor of giving Miner a shot, but I think there will be a pretty quick switch if he starts running every count full and walking people.

Is Tiger Stadium saved?

There have been deadline extenstions, and votes to keep some parts, and votes to knock the whole thing down. But now the Daily Fungo points to a news release on Carl Levin’s web site that there is $4 million earmarked for Corktown preservation and redevelopment. Presumably this is the money that the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy is hoping to obtain to save a portion of the stadium.

Injured middle infielders littered throughout the system

When the Tigers traded away their stud centerfield prospects middle infield became the organizational position of strength. Instead it’s become the organizational position of DL stays and ibuprofen. Edgar Renteria is battling a hamstring injury that he reagravated tonight.

Cale Iorg, the Tigers big time bonus pick from last year just hit the DL for Lakeland. His keystone partner Scott Sizemore has missed a big chunk of the season with a broken bone in his hand. Danny Worth, another draft pick from last year who has been a defensive whiz for Erie is now missing time. And high ceiling shortstop Audy Ciriaco just went on the DL for West Michigan.

And while they are health now, both Ramon Santiago and Mike Hollimon missed time this season due to separated shoulders.

It must be something they are putting in the water at second base.

Is there hope for Renteria?

Edgar Renteria has had a half season that everybody would probably like to forget. The.259 batting average looks great compared to the .301 OBP and .326 slugging percentage. Couple this with the fact that Jair Jurrjens is pitching well and the Tigers are a long shot for the playoffs at this point, and the trade that brought Renteria here looks awful. Given all that, is there any hope left for Renteria? There may be.

One thing going for Renteria is that he has a 22.4% line drive rate. That’s right in line with his career number of 22.8%. The Hardball Times has a measure called PrOPS which is a predicted value for OPS based on batted ball characteristics and other offensive measures. JC Bradbury recently posted the top 3 PrOPS leaders for the first half by position. Renteria actually ranks third among AL shortstops (it’s a really bad year) with a PrOPS of .751. Even if he achieved that number it’s not All Star caliber, but it would qualify as productive.

The difference between Renteria’s actual OPS and PrOPS is the 5th greatest negative difference meaning he’s probably hitting into some bad luck.

So there is hope that Renteria is better in the second half, but what is a reasonable expectation for his final line even if he gets some breaks and manages to maintain his line drive rate? THT put together a spreadsheet that combines Marcel projections with season to date performance to project a final line. Luckily for me, someone else has already run Renteria’s numbers.

His projection for the remainder of the season is 282/342/402 which would be a pretty dramatic improvement. But his horrendous start means that if he achieves that line over the balance of the season, that still leaves him with a .680 OPS when all is said and done.

In addition, despite the career level line drive rate, there are some other red flags (as if we needed more). His walk rate of 6.7% is his lowest since the 6.2% he posted in 2004 and significantly below his 8.2% career rate. The drop in walks is probably in part due to a tendency to chase more pitches. He’s swinging at 27.86% of pitches outside the strike zone. In past years his number has been closer to 20%.

Renteria should be better in the second half. He was pretty awful in the first half. He chased too many pitches, and it was probably compounded by some bad luck. It’s hard to imagine Renteria or the trade looking much worse in the second half. Of course a nice little surge by Edgar and the team that leaves them in the playoffs and everyone feels a little better.