November 25, 2002

Around the majors

A lot of people have been emailing me regarding my potential employment with the Minnesota Daily.

Sadly, I was informed yesterday that I did not get the job.

I am not really sure why, but for whatever reason, the Sports Editor did not feel I was the right man for the job.

It is very disappointing and somewhat depressing, but hey, that's life.

Okay, enough about me...

The Phillies signed David Bell to a 4 year contract worth $17 million dollars.

My immediate reaction (and the immediate reaction of most "statheads") was that this was a pretty bad signing for the Phillies.

Basically, David Bell is a nice player to have on a ballclub, but he is the definition of "average" and $17 million dollars is not something I would be willing to give to average players.

After thinking about it a little more, I have come to the conclusion that it isn't that horrible.

It is definitely not something I would have done, but it is not the franchise crippler that some people are saying it is.

First of all, in the world of Major League Baseball, $4 million dollars (about what they will pay him each of the 4 years) is not a lot of money.

The Phillies had a 2002 payroll of about $60 million, so, assuming it stays in the same range, Bell is going to make up about 6-7% of the team's payroll.

If Bell plays like he has over the last few seasons, the Phillies have a nice third baseman for a reasonable salary.

If Bell starts to age a little bit or just plain struggles, the Phillies are still only paying him $4 mill a season, which is not a backbreaking amount.

Like I said, I wouldn't have given him the contract that the Phillies did, but it isn't that bad.

Over the last 4 seasons, David Bell's EqAs have been: .265, .243, .256 and .273 this year.

The average Major League third baseman had a .264 EqA in 2002.

Add in the fact that Bell is a good defensive third baseman and is very durable, and he should be a good bet to be completely average and maybe slightly above average, at least for a couple more years.

I am not sure what this means for San Francisco.

If I were the Giants, I would try to re-sign Bill Mueller to a reasonable deal and let him replace Bell at 3B.

Actually, Mueller is probably a better player than Bell (particularly offensively) and he will almost certainly cost a lot less, so the Giants could come out of this looking even better than before.

The Tigers traded Randall Simon to the Pirates for 3 minor leaguers.

I might get my stathead membership card taken away from me for saying this, but I think Randall Simon is a pretty good hitter.

He has an awful approach at the plate and absolutely zero plate discipline, but the man can hit.

He has 3 lengthy stints in the Majors:

1999 = .317/.367/.459 (218 ABs)

2001 = .305/.341/.445 (256 ABs)

2002 = .301/.320/.459 (482 ABs)

It is pretty safe to say that Randall Simon is a .300 hitter.

I like to use AVG/OBP/SLG when I talk about hitters.

With Randall Simon, I would feel pretty confident penciling in .300 in the "AVG" spot and .450 in the "SLG" spot.

It is that middle spot that makes Simon so frustrating.

He simply will not take a walk.

He walked a grand total of 13 times in 482 at bats this season.

The kicker is that 5 of those walks were intentional!

Which means Randall Simon was only responsible for drawing 8 walks in almost 500 at bats this year.

That is an incredible number.

Guys like Randall Simon - complete hackers with no plate discipline and an ability to hit for a good average - make me wonder whether or not someone can learn to draw walks at such a late stage in their career and not have an adverse affect on their overall hitting ability.

What I mean is that if Pittsburgh could somehow teach Randall Simon to walk a little bit, say 40 or 50 times a year, they would have themselves a pretty nice first baseman - in theory.

I wonder though, by changing his approach from complete hacker to normal hacker, whether or not his other skills, particularly the .300 batting average, would leave him.

Simple logic tells me that by acquiring a better overall approach at the plate, Simon's average would actually go up (or at least stay the same) because he would be getting better pitches to hit by laying off the complete junk and working himself into more hitter's counts.

On the other hand, maybe Randall Simon is truly a "bad ball hitter" and he simply needs to swing at the complete junk.

Also, maybe by asking/teaching him to take more pitches and draw more walks, his aggressiveness at the plate would go down so much that he would lose all affectiveness.

Guys like Randall Simon intrigue me and if I were a GM without a decent option at first base, I might take a flier on Simon and see if my hitting coach could add on 35 walks a year.

That said, the Pirates are not a team without a decent option at first base.

They have Craig Wilson, who is more than decent.

In 526 career at bats (about 1 full season's worth) Craig Wilson has hit .278/.365/.487 with 29 homers.

He has a lifetime .287 EqA, which is pretty good.

And he is still fairly young (turns 26 in a week).

I have heard that the Pirates may be planning on having Wilson as their everyday right fielder in 2003, which would be great.

However, if he is back playing part time and pinch hitting in 2003, like he was in 2001 and 2002, not only will that be a huge mistake, trading for Randall Simon will be a huge mistake too.

I am not against taking a flier on someone like Simon, but if it means blocking the path for someone like Wilson, it is just plain dumb.

Hopefully Wilson and Simon will both be in Pittsburgh's starting lineup in 2003, because they sure could use the extra offense.

And finally...

The Red Sox named Theo Epstein General Manager yesterday.

Congrats to Theo.

From everything I have heard about him, he sounds like an incredibly smart guy with a great baseball mind and I think he will do an excellent job in Boston.

As many of you probably heard, he is 28 years old, making him the youngest GM in the history of MLB.

As many of you also probably heard, I am 19 years old and my biggest dream in life is to be the GM of a Major League Baseball team.

For that reason, I am so incredibly jealous of Theo Epstein right now that I don't know how to contain myself.

I am hoping that when I am 28 I will be finished with college and hopefully not still living at my Mom's house.

Having any sort of decent job would basically be an added bonus.

Meanwhile, Epstein is 28 and the General Manager of one of the greatest franchises in baseball history.

He gets to work with Bill James, he has an incredibly large payroll with which to run his team with and he has the luxury of having Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez, Nomar Garciaparra and Derek Lowe to build around.

Congatulations to Theo Epstein and best of luck.

If you ever feel like hiring someone even younger than you, please PLEASE PLEASE let me know.

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