March 4, 2004

The Fons, Secrets, Prospects and Steroids


Smokey: Why you not goin' to work?

Craig: I got fired yesterday.

Smokey: No s---? I thought you had the day off yesterday.

Craig: I did. I went in to pick up my check...came home...my supervisor called me about four o'clock, told me he got me on tape stealing boxes.

Smokey: What the f--- you stealing boxes for? What you trying to build, a clubhouse?


--- Friday

It was a pretty good week. Why? Well, it was significantly above-zero here every day and there was real, live baseball on TV! That's really all a Minnesota boy can ask for during the first week of March.

Before the weekend hits, I want to touch on a few leftover subjects from the past week, so let's dive right in...

Soriano in Shea?

In my running diary of the Mets/Dodgers spring training game, I made the following comment about the Mets potentially trading someone like Scott Kazmir for Alfonso Soriano:

With Reyes and Matsui, there is no way I would make that deal if I were New York. As an outfielder, Soriano is suddenly barely above league-average and soon to be making $10 mill a year.

I could almost feel the emails being sent from you guys as I wrote those words. Sure enough, a few of you took issue with the statement. Here's an email from a reader named Jonny:

I think you're getting seriously hyperbolic on this one. Sure he's more valuable as a second baseman, but Soriano had 20.71 hitting Win Shares last year, which would have ranked him 12th in MLB had he been an outfielder (4 AL and 7 NL outfielders had more than Soriano). Incidentally, he's hit 35+ homers each of the past two seasons.

I think there is a fairly simple way of looking at this. Using raw Win Shares isn't the best method, in my opinion, because Soriano racked up an incredible amount of plate appearances batting at the top of a lineup that scored a ton of runs. If he were to join the Mets, he would no longer be batting at the top of the lineup and he would be joining a team that scored a lot fewer runs.

Through no fault of his own, he could suddenly get 50-100 fewer plate appearances by joining the Mets and moving down in the lineup, which would bring his cumulative numbers way down. Instead, we need a measure that looks at his performance on a per plate appearance basis.

Let's start out with what Soriano did last year as a second baseman. He hit .290/.338/.525 with 38 homers, 36 doubles and 35 stolen bases in 734 plate appearances. His offense was good for a .283 GPA, which ranked 5th among major league second basemen who had 350+ plate appearances.

The thing to remember here is that major league second basemen as a whole had a .251 GPA last season, while major league corner outfielders (where Soriano would play in New York) had a .275 GPA. That is a huge difference.

Whereas Soriano ranked 5th among major league second basemen in GPA, he would have ranked 15th among left fielders and 15th among right fielders.

Using Equivalent Average, which adjusts numbers for offensive environments, Soriano checks in at .296. That ranked 3rd among all major league second basemen. Meanwhile, it would have ranked 12th among major league left fielders and 13th among major league right fielders.

So, any way you slice it, Soriano ranks somewhere around 12-15 among left fielders and 12-15 among right fielders, which, in a 30-team league, seems "barely above league-average" to me.

Soriano is an excellent baseball player, but much of that comes from the fact that he can hit like he does while playing acceptable defense at second base. If he is moved to right or left field, he immediately loses a lot of his value.

His .283 GPA/.296 EqA offense goes from being among the top 2-3 at his position to being 12th or 15th. That's not worth a great pitching prospect and $10 million a season.

Secret, secret...I've got a secret

Lots of you noticed the FOXSports.com link under "My Paying Gigs" on the left-hand sidebar and emailed me yesterday wondering if that was the mysterious third secret I've been hinting at for a while now. It's not. In fact, it wasn't a secret at all.

The first two secrets (both of which I announced a while ago) were that I am writing for Rotoworld.com and InsiderBaseball.com. The FOXSports.com thing is simply an offshoot of my Rotoworld work. FOXSports.com syndicates content from Rotoworld, which means my articles are published at both sites. That's it, nothing too exciting other than you might see my name a little more often while you're surfing the web.

The third secret is still forthcoming and you'll know all about it within the next two weeks. I think it's worth waiting for.

The prospects are coming, the prospects are coming

Last week, I reviewed my Top 50 Prospects list from last year in a 3-part series.

--- Part One: 31-50

--- Part Two: 11-30

--- Part Three: 1-10

Since I actually released last year's Top 50 at the end of January and it's the beginning of March now, a lot of you guys are naturally wondering where the heck this year's list is. Well, it's coming.

I'm in the middle of working on it right now, actually. In thinking about it, I realized January is probably too early to publish something like that and the middle of spring training seems like a much better time. So be patient. It'll probably be on this site at some point next week.

Roids

I am going to make two comments on this entire steroids issue today - my first and last.

In case you haven't noticed, I have yet to comment on any of this stuff. In fact, in the entire 19-month, Gleeman-length history of this blog, I have written the word "steroid" exactly one time prior to today.

Basically, I have a supreme lack of interest in this and I'm not 100% sure why. I recognize that it is a large story that is potentially quite important. Yet I just can't get motivated to care.

I go to ESPN.com about 50 times a day and some steroids-related story is almost always on the front page, but I think I've clicked on one of them maybe three times.

Deep down, I suspect some of my lack of interest is actually me not wanting to deal with the reality of players "cheating." For instance, if Barry Bonds has, in fact, taken steroids in the past, there is something within me that just doesn't want to know about it.

I think it is probably like a marriage (bear with me on this, I'm the king of ridiculous analogies). You know your spouse has probably "been with" other people before they met you, but do you really want to know about it? You hear rumors and stories and all sorts of stuff, but you don't really feel like sitting down and getting involved with the issue.

That's how I feel about steroids in baseball. Even if you told me right now that Player X, Player Y and Player Z have taken steroids and there was proof of it, I don't know that I would care. Would I rather players not take steroids? Absolutely. But for whatever reason I just cannot get worked up over the issue at all.

So that is my entire thought on the steroids issue. Don't expect to come here for future coverage of it either. If I can't get motivated to care about it myself, I'm certainly not going to write about it for an audience. Plus, there are far better sources of steroids discussion than this website...

...one of which is not Andy Van Slyke

FOXSports.com's Rick Ballou interviewed former Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andy Van Slyke, who played with Barry Bonds from 1987-1992, about this whole steroids issue.

The headline for the interview was in massive bold letters and said:

Van Slyke: Bonds 'unequivocally' took steroids

And then when I actually read the interview, I saw this:

Ballou: Are you telling us, in your opinion, that it looks like Barry Bonds has taken steroids?

Van Slyke: Unequivocally he's taken them, without equivocation he's taken them. I can say that with utmost certainty.

Now, I never saw him put it into his body...

File that under reason #1,536,694 why I don't read this stuff.

And on that note...have a great weekend!

If you missed any of this week's previous entries, please check them out:

Monday: Notes from the Weekend

Tuesday: Fixing What Ain't Broken

Wednesday: Bad Writing and Good Riddance

Thursday: Five Innings of Heaven


*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****

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