November 19, 2002
The Worst Doctor in the World
I got a lot of emails saying people enjoyed my column from a few days ago about several less than earthshaking transactions.
Apparently you guys are almost as baseball obsessed as I am...which is great!
There was another highly intriguing transaction yesterday that probably won't get many headlines...
Kansas City waived shortstop Neifi Perez.
This transaction brought to mind a bit I remember hearing George Carlin do.
He basically said:
"Do you realize that somewhere in the world is the worst doctor? There is a guy who is a doctor, but he is the worst doctor. And somewhere, someone has an appointment to see him!
Neifi Perez was baseball's version of the worst doctor in the world this year.
For the past season and a half, the Royals have not only had an appointment to see him, they traded Jermaine Dye and about $5 million bucks for the appointment!
If you didn't know much about Kansas City General Manager Allard Baird's background as a GM, that 3-way trade would be all you needed to know to make your decision on whether or not he was a good GM.
He traded Jermaine Dye, who was slumping at the time but was coming off of back-to-back 115+ RBI seasons, for a shortstop who's hitting performance was barely adequate/
That is bad enough.
What makes it infinitely worse is the fact that those barely acceptable hitting stats were accomplished while playing in Coors Field!
Here are Neifi's stats for his time with the Rockies:
1997 = .291/.333/.444 (313 ABs)
1998 = .274/.313/.382 (647 ABs)
1999 = .280/.307/.403 (690 ABs)
2000 = .287/.314/.427 (651 ABs)
2001 = .298/.326/.445 (382 ABs)
Well, one thing you have to admit is that Neifi's power was "developing" a little bit - his slugging % went up every year since 1998.
Like I said, those numbers aren't really all that bad for a shortstop - unless he is playing half his games in the GREATEST HITTING ENVIRONMENT IN BASEBALL HISTORY!
Slugging %s in the low .400s just don't cut the mustard in Coors Field and Neifi Perez's translated stats, which take home ballpark into account, showed him to be a pretty horrendous hitter.
1997 = .251 Equivalent Average (EqA)
1998 = .228 EqA
1999 = .224 EqA
2000 = .230 EqA
2001 = .248 EqA
Just to put those stats into context...
So, basically, Allard Baird traded Jermaine Dye for a guy that, for his career up to that point, had hit similarly to how Royce Clayton and Rey Ordonez hit this season.
Like I said, not a real good trade.
Baird was no doubt intrigued by those nice, shiny, Coors inflated stats, which even included some decent "power" numbers because Perez often got 650-700 at bats.
Plus, Neifi won the NL Gold Glove in 2000!
Predictably, to almost everyone on the planet except for those in the Kansas City front office, Neifi Perez has continued to suck since the trade.
His performance with KC...
2001 = .241/.277/.302 (199 ABs)
2002 = .236/.260/.303 (554 ABs)
Now, that is some bad hitting.
But guess what?
It really isn't all the much worse than how Neifi hit in Colorado, he just has not had the benefit of Coors Field.
Remember those EqAs with the Rockies?
Perez's EqAs with Royals:
Like I said, those are really awful, but they aren't all that different from his Colorado numbers.
Aside from his putrid hitting, Neifi Perez's fielding, which was presumably his strong suit, has fallen off a cliff as well.
Baseball Prospectus calculates how many runs better than a "replacement level player" a person is on defense in each season.
In 1998 Perez was +16 runs (meaning he was 16 runs better than a replacement SS).
In 1999 he was +14.
In 2000 he was +23 (extremely good and probably deserving of the Gold Glove he won that year).
In his half season with the Rockies in 2001 before being traded, Perez was +7, which would have been about +13 prorated to a whole season.
And since coming to KC?
Neifi Perez is +1 in about 1.5 seasons worth of fielding.
So, to recap:
His hitting always stunk, but it has gotten even stinkier since coming to Kansas City.
His fielding was actually once very good, but it has completely collapsed since coming to Kansas City.
Oh, I almost forgot one more thing!
Neifi was part of "Age Gate" and he actually aged 2 entire years in the off-season!
His "new" age actually makes a whole lot of sense in regard to his career "progression."
His 3 full seasons with Colorado (1998, 1999 and 2000) were actually his "peak" years - ages 25, 26 and 27 - instead of 23, 24 and 25 like everyone thought at the time, which makes his slight increase in power make sense.
And his awful 2002 was actually his age 29 season, which might explain his sudden drop in defensive ability.
Allard Baird must be given a little bit of slack because of the age situation.
In all fairness, he thought he was trading for a 26 year old that couldn't hit, not a 28 year old that couldn't hit.
Apparently Baird woke up this morning and smelled the suckiness, because he came to his senses and cut bait on Neifi Perez.
This shocking development actually creates a fun opportunity for all of us.
I guarantee a team will sign Neifi Perez this off-season, which will give us a chance to see which of the GMs belongs in the group with Allard Baird.
Let's call it the "Cam Bonifay Club For Bad GMs" or "CBCFBGMs" for short.
I am pretty confident the GM that decides he needs an appointment with the Worst Doctor In The World is not going to be mine (Terry Ryan) and I only hope, for your sake, that it isn't yours either.