Who is really the best baseball team in the majors? I honestly don't know but I try to figure that out by using basic and advanced statistics. I live for talking about baseball, it's my biggest drive in my life and I will jump on the opportunity to talk baseball with anyone, even with people who I don't really like. For me, Baseball is a piece of art that sits in my mind all day, ready to be painted on at any point of the day.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A look at the recent Mat Latos trade

By Mike Moritz

Yonder Alonzo
On Saturday, we found out about the minor-blockboster-deal that sent Mat Latos to the Cincinnati Reds and in return, they would flip Edison Volquez, Yonder AlonzoYasmani Grandal and Brad Boxberger back to the Padres. The ladder three players were three of Top 10 Reds prospects.The Reds have been known to have been looking for a pitching upgrade for most of the off-season and they essentially got a good fit.

Since coming up to the majors in 2009, he has produced 7.3 WAR, while posting a 3.37 ERA and 3.28 FIP. On another note, he has struck 8.65 per nine while walking 2.83. With the right handed pitcher moving from an extreme pitchers park to an extreme hitters park, we should take a look at his splits.

Surprisingly, Latos does not see much of a difference between his home run rate whether it be at home or away. Home career: .81 HR/9. Away career: .83 HR/9. That's a little bit relaxing that he won't be giving up many more dingers. On the other hand, he isn't an EXTREME ground ball pitcher- his 42.8% ground ball rate is right around average- which might hurt him a little bit, albeit not much. 

Great American Ball Park does increase homers by a lot (statcorner.com) but doesn't seem to do so for doubles and triples. The catch is that while it doesn't increase extra base hits relative to the league, it is greatly enhanced compared to Petco Park, where doubles were depressed by 14% and 28% for lefties and righties, respectively. So now, while Latos isn't necessarily moving to a extra-base-hit-haven, he is moving out of a stadium where any hitter goes to die. As it turns out, Latos gave up 1.5 doubles/9 on the road and just 1.09 doubles/9 at Petco. Not a huge deal but it is definitely something that will probably drive his ERA up a little but should not be by much.

Latos started the year on the DL. He didn't miss much time but it was shoulder  that sent him there. Normally, I wouldn't worry about this very much; it would normally be a little blimp on the radar but as we know, Reds manager Dusty Baker is notorious for ruining pitchers-especially young pitcher's-arms. So now all of the sudden, that shoulder soreness injury becomes a concern, at least in my eyes.

On the other side of the flip, the Padres are getting a really good deal. Personally, I think they are the winners in this trade.We've heard about Yonder Alonzo for a while now and as sad as it is- since he is a damn good player- I expected him to be traded. And so did the average baseball fan seeing that there's some dude named Joey Votto blocking him at first and Alonzo can't really play the outfield. He projects to be a 25 homer hitter on a year to year basis but that is completely up for change because we (or at least I don't) know exactly what kind of hitter he is in terms of hit placement. If he is dead pull hitter than 20 homers is probably his max on the other hand if he has more of a hitting skill set of Adrian Gonzalez, where he can spray the ball all around the field, then we might see 30ish homers from him.

As for Boxberger, he is probably the Padres' future closer. In terms of JUST statistical comparison, Mike Gonzalez seems to be a good comp.

Yasmani Grandal could actually end up being the best part of the deal. The switch hitting catcher can hit power from both sides of the plate while playing above average defense. He also has a 13.3% walk rate in the minors. The potential is DEFINITELY there to be a Jorge Posada but with good defense. Which means there is a shit ton of potential in terms of WAR value. Posada had a .258 career minor league batting average with an .804 OPS. Grandel: .303 and .888. You can also compare to Victor Martinez, another switch hitting catcher: .319 and .881. Just throwin' it out there. Grandal is legit. The Real Deal.

Overall, this trade is a certain Padre win. I wouldn't say by a land slide, but there is no doubt in my mind that San Diego go the better part of the deal.

(Statistics in courtesy of: fangraphs.com and baseball-reference.com)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

What does Aramis Ramirez bring to the Brewers?

By Mike Moritz

The hiatus is over, I will now attempt at making a comeback to the blogger world but I can not guarantee that I will be able to write consistently.

And with that said, I have decided to start with the Milwaukee Brewers signing of Aramis Ramirez. As we just found a few days ago, the third basemen has signed a three-year deal worth $36 million with a mutal option for 2015. A lot of people this off season have been saying that Milwaukee is a perfect fit for Ramirez, and that the Brewers need a third basemen. But is that really true? Yes, the chances of resigning Prince Fielder were and still are very slim, and now they are out of the running for him anyways. So they lose a big bat, they have money to spend, they need a short stop and have a third basemen...This is why Jose Reyes would be the perfect fit for them.

I have nothing against Ramirez, really, I don't. I think he is a real solid player that can help any ball club. But it just seems to me that the Brewers underestimated Casey Mcgehee. There are a few asepects that I would like to explore in this post and we will try to break them down.

Okay so let's start with Casey.

I wanted to figure out if McGehee just had a bad year or if he is not going to produce at the previous level caliber that he did.

When playing in the Cubs organization, he was not a power hitter, his highest ISO was .148 while playing in AA in 2007. After he moved to the Brewers for the 2009 season, he was able to put some power onto his resume: he had a .197 ISO and a .499 SLG in 355 at-bats. The next year, he had another solid offensive year but his ISO dropped to .179. And for good reason because his line drive and fly ball rate both dropped considerably between the two years:


Looking a little deeper, I found that he started getting a little too swing happy. His walk rate dropped from 8.6% to 7.5% but even further down, we saw his O-Swing% spike from 19.8% in 2009 to 29.5% in 2010. 

The more and more we look at it, it just seems like 2009 was not a fluke but rather just a good season. (So a different kind of fluke.) Sometimes it just comes down to the fact that the player had a good season. No statistical element involved, it just might be that 2009 was a good season for Casey. Chances are that pitchers didn't know how to pitch to him and just pitched to his strengths without knowing. Not their fault. They didn't know any better at the time.  

So that's probably why 2010 is much more an indicator of his true talent. And then he got BABIP'd in 2011. His ISO dropped to .123 this year, that is more like what he did in the minors so I am convinced that a .130-.150 ISO is his range, which is around the league average. And apart from that, he is about a .270-.280 hitter with an average walk rate. So all told, and I am just estimating here, that is about 2 WAR. That's nice production, for sure.

So keep him at third or move him to first but what ever position he would have taken, Mat Gamel would take up the unoccupied one. (Gamel will actually be getting the job at first base this year with Prince gone and Aramis at third.) We can expect Gamel to be a 25-30 home run hitter with a .260ish average with a nice walk rate.

Gamel hit a bump in the road when he got called up in 2009 and struck out 36.7% of the time then got sent down only to have a 27.8% strike out in AAA for the rest of the season. 19.4% was his previous strike out high in the minors so this strike out rate came out of nowhere suggesting that he probably had some sort of injury or perhaps his mechanics were just out of whack.What ever the case, he has fixed it now and has just about returned to his previous Top Prospect Status. An adequate player for positive production? Hell yeah.

So now they would have Mcgehee and Gamel at the infield corners. Not too much money for solid to potentially great production. That's a deal. And they would not have had to even spent money on a big name free agent yet. But along comes Reyes. A clear glaring hole at short stop. Brewcrew has money to spend. I am telling you, Reyes would have been a perfect fit.

But not only for his offense.

For his defense too! Now, I am not saying that Reyes and Rickie Weeks are good fielders. They are actually just about average. But still, it would be a huge upgrade over Yuniesky Betancourt. To be honest, the same cannot be said for the new Brewer Alex Gonzalez. Gonzalez can field and brings about the same value in terms of defense as Reyes. But does he bring the bat? No way. And no where near the ability of Reyes. So who I would rather have? A stop gap solution for a contending team who, sure, can field but can't hit very much? Or a long term solution with a great all around skill set, defense and offense included? Don't know about you but I'll take the ladder part of that deal.

But what about Ramirez? Well Aramis brings good offense. Below average defense. That's about all there is to him. He is really solid player. But when you are trying to sign Zack Grienke and Shawn Marcum to long term deals so you can contend longer, why would you sign a 34 year old?

On the other hand, if Braun is booted for 50 games, then Ramirez is a nice bat to have for that time, being that there would not be much power in that line up with Braun and Fielder.

I'm just throwin' it out there. Just saying. Reyes would have been a perfect fit.