Archive for the ‘Anaheim Angels’ category

The Chicago Cubs and Kris Bryant Reach a Record Deal

March 10, 2017

Well, isn’t this interesting?  The Cubs have just given Kris Bryant a record $1.05 million contract for a pre-arbitration player, beating the record deal the Angels gave Mike “Clark Kent” Trout before the 2013 season by $50,000.

It was a fairly obvious move — the Cubs won the World Series for the first time in more than 100 years and Bryant won the Senior Circuit’s MVP Award, so a record-setting contract was obviously called for.  Even so, the Cubbies only gave Bryant enough to be able to say he broke the record.

The Cubs’ decision to keep Bryant in the minors a lot longer than his  performance in the minors said was the time for his call-up, so the team could hold onto his rights for the 2021 season, was pretty bush and penny-wise and pound-foolish, at least in my opinion.  Everybody in MLB knew what the Cubs were doing, and Bryant would be crazy not to stick it to the Cubs every chance he gets from now until he signs his first free agent contract.

Still, it’s worked out well for the Cubs so far.  They weren’t going to win in 2015 even with another eight games from Bryant, and they won the very next year, when the team was clearly better than the 2015 squad.

The Cubs pretty much had to give Bryant the current record-setting deal, because that’s what his 2016  performance and the World Series win required.  They gave him only exactly as much as the standard of the industry required and no more, because they know that Bryant and his agent Scott Boras aren’t going to think that an extra $300,000 for the 2017 season a fair trade for reaching free agency a year later.

In this sense, things are as they should be.  Yes, the Cubs screwed Bryant, but this way Bryant has to continue to develop the way everyone hopes he will (except maybe Cardinals’ fans) and the Cubs win another World Series in the next five years.  Then the Cubs will have pretty much no choice but to give Bryant a record-setting free agent deal.  Even the most money-ball of money-ball organizations has to know that Cubs’ fans would be unbelievably disappointed if the team trades the next Mike Schmidt and Ron Santo rolled into one, particularly now that MLB teams all know how much power-hitting, slick fielding 3Bman are really worth.

Right now, one has to think that the only things standing between Bryant and record-setting free agent contract is a freak injury or that his big size (6’5″, 230 lbs) leads to wear-and-tear injuries in 2020 or 2021.

Jhoulys Chacin Gets No Respect

December 18, 2016

Jhoulys Chacin gets no respect, at least by the current standards of MLB.  Last off-season I wrote a post stating that I just couldn’t understand why the Diamondbacks failed to tender Chacin a contract when he was only expected to get $1.8 million through the arbitration process.  I thought it would make a great deal of sense for somebody else to swoop in and sign him for that $1.8 million or even $2 million.

Chacin ended up getting only a minor league deal from the Braves, who then traded him early the season to the Angels for a grade-C prospect.  Chacin was little more than a mediocre fifth starter in 2016 whose biggest accomplishment was eating 144 innings.  Even so, fifth starters who aren’t god-awful have value: fangraphs valued his 2016 performance at $13 million.

Now, I really don’t believe that Chacin was worth any kind of $13 million, but it’s certain he was worth more than the $1.75 million the Padres just signed him to.  Inning-eating fifth starters of Chacin’s ilk are easily worth a one-year guarantee of $3M or $4M in today’s market.

For example, Jerome Williams received $2.5 million in 2015 for a 2014 campaign less impressive than Chacin’s 2016.  That should have been the starting point for Chacin’s negotiation, since the market has gone up since then.

If nothing else, Chacin’s signing with the Padres may be the bargain basement steal of the 2016-2017 off-season, just as his signing was last off-season.

How Many More Starts Will the Angels Give Tim Lincecum?

July 24, 2016

To say that Tim Lincecum‘s comeback with the Angels hasn’t gone well would be an understatement.  After allowing eight runs, all earned, in only 1.1 innings pitched in today’s loss to the Astros, Timmy now has an ERA of 8.70 through seven starts for the Halos.

Lincecum has 28 Ks in 30 IP, but when opposing hitters put bat to ball, it goes a long way, with nine HRs served up so far.  This seems to be a trend in today’s game — it seems that many pitchers who are still striking out almost a batter an inning are still getting their brains beaten out.  I assume that almost every hitter in baseball is now swinging for the fences all the time and in any count in today’s game, meaning that there are a lot of strikeouts and seemingly high strikeout rates don’t mean what they once did.

It’s hard to see the Angels giving Lincecum more than one or two more starts, given the results so far, before they give up on him, and try someone from their minor league system.  In fact, an argument can be made that the Angels would be better off promoting 24 year old Nate Smith  or 25 year old Tyler Skaggs right now, and either sending Lincecum back to Salt Lake City or just releasing him and writing off the couple of million they owe Lincecum for the rest of the 2016 season.

At least with the youngsters they might yet be developed into serviceable major league arms.

Tim Lincecum Wins First Start for the Angels

June 19, 2016

Tim Lincecum won his first start for the Angels tonight.  He was good, allowing one run in six innings pitched, but he wasn’t that good, walking two and striking out only two.

Like most Giants fans, there is a special place in my heart for Timmy, and I’m certainly rooting for him to come back and have a late career surge that makes him a possible Hall of Fame candidate.  However, my left brain says it’s just not going to happen.

Everything I’ve seen so far in Tim’s comeback from last year’s hip surgery says to me that Tim is the basically the same guy he was before the injury:  a pitcher who once had great stuff who really knew how to pitch but didn’t have the greatest command due to a pitching motion that provided great deception but was hard to replicate consistently, but now has below average stuff with the same problematic command but is still major league useful because of his deception and his inherent ability to pitch.

His first start with the Angels is, in my mind, entirely consistent with a guy who can still no-hit a team like the Padres, but who is going to struggle against teams with more than two elite hitters because his stuff and his command just aren’t good enough.

I will certainly keep rooting for Tim, particularly when he can beat an NL West team in inter-league play, and not at all when it can somehow cost the Giants anything.

Tim is perfect for the 2016 Angels, a team desperate for starting pitching.  I expect Tim to be better than any other option the Angels have for at least the next couple of months.  You can look at their AAA pitchers at Salt Lake City and see for yourself.

Triples Alley

May 4, 2016

Hitting three-baggers is something of a lost art, and is now largely limited to certain ballparks or when an outfielder misplays a ball off the wall not quite badly enough to be called an error.  This was not always so.

In the Deadball Era before 1920, triples were the big power hit, simply because they were much more common (most years at least) than home runs.  Aside from the dirty, battered baseballs in play, the slower, less athletic outfielders and the inferior fielder’s gloves of those days, many ballparks had very deep outfield fences, particularly to one or two of the three fields, than they do today, because of the urban lot shapes on which the fields were built and that fact that with home runs an extreme rarity, no one was really concerned with symmetric fields and keeping fences within reasonable home run distance.  In fact, before Babe Ruth, most home runs were of the inside-the-park variety when a batter split the outfielders to the long field.

Time for some trivia: Who hit the most triples in a season after 1920?  After 1946?  Since 2000?

Who hit the most career triples for any player to play in the 1960’s?  In the 1970’s?  1980’s?  1990’s?  2000’s?  2010’s?

The answers will show you just how much triples have declined as part of the offensive game, with the slight exception that integration starting in 1947 brought more speed and speed/power players into the game.

Kiki Cuyler hit 26 triples in 1925. Hazen Shirley Cuyler (pronounced Ky-ler) was nicknamed “Kiki” (rhymes with “sky”) because he had a bad stutter.  Nicknames weren’t nearly as kind back in the day.  Unfortunately, Cuyler did not live long enough to see the Veterans’ Committee vote him into the Hall of Fame in 1968, which is pretty much the ultimate retort to a mean-spirited nickname.

Since 1946, Curtis Granderson‘s 23 in 2007 is the most, although a number of players have hit at least 20 in a season since 1946.

Most career triples for any player to play in the 1960’s?  Stan “The Man” Musial with 177, tied for 19th best all-time.

1970’s?  Roberto Clemente 166 (tied 27th best all-time).

1980’s and 1990’s? Willie Wilson 147 (tied 56th best all-time).

2000’s?  Steve Finley 124 (tied 90th all-time).

2010’s?  Carl Crawford 123 (tied 94th all-time).  Although Crawford’s career appears to be winding down, with his big-money free agent contract running through the 2017 season, the odds are fairly good he can collect two more triples to move past Finley.

For what it’s worth, Babe Ruth hit 136 triples in his career, good for a tie at 71st best all-time.  While the Bambino’s lofty career total is largely a product of the times he played in, people forget that when Ruth was young and lean, he was very fast, kind of like a young Reggie Jackson, or some of the big fast guys of today’s game, like Mike Trout.

In the six seasons between 1918 and 1923, from ages 23 through 28, the Babe hit 69 triples, more than half his career total.

 

The Best and Worst Hitters’ Parks in MLB Baseball 2016

April 8, 2016

Back in the summer of 2012 I discovered that espn.com provides stats for what it calls “park factor”, which for purposes of this post means the ratio between the number of runs scored at a ballpark in any given season divided by the number of runs scored by said ballpark’s occupant (and its opponents) in away games that same season.  I’ve written several posts on this subject, which have proven quite popular, the last about two years ago, so it feels like a good time for an update.

As we enter the 2016 season, below are the average park factors for all major league ballparks over the last six seasons, 2010 through 2015 (four seasons for Marlins Park which opened in 2012).

1.  Coors Field (Rockies) 1.427.  Coors Field remains far and away the best hitters’ in MLB by a wide margin.  Every other stadium had a season or two between 2010 and 2015 well out of line with its overall average position except Coors Field.  It was the best hitters’ park in MLB five of the six seasons, usually by a lot, and a strong second in the sixth season.

2.  Globe Life Park at Arlington (Rangers) 1.144.  Globe Life Park remains the best hitters’ park in the American League.

3.  Fenway Park (Red Sox) 1.107.

4.  Chase Field (Diamondbacks) 1.093.

5.  Camden Yards (Orioles) 1.083.

6.  Miller Park (Brewers) 1.072.

7.  Yankee Stadium 1.059.

8.    U.S. Cellular Field (White Sox) 1.058.  One of the more variable parks in MLB, U.S. Cellular Field was a pitchers’ park in 2015, but a strong hitters’ park in 2010 and 2012.

9. Rogers Centre (Blue Jays) 1.047.  A pitchers’ park in 2015, Rogers Center was a hitters’ park every other year of the last six.

10.  Great American Ball Park (Reds) 1.045.

11.  Wrigley Field (Cubs) 1.034.  Long regarded as one of the best hitters’ parks in MLB, Wrigley was a pitchers’ park in 2014 and 2015, bringing it’s six year average down considerably.

12.  Comerica Park (Tigers) 1.026.

13.  Kauffman Stadium (Royals) 1.027.  25 or 30 years ago, Kauffman Stadium was one of the best hitters’ parks in baseball.  However, the newer parks built starting with Camden Yards in 1992, have for the most part been much better hitters’ parks than the ballparks they replaced.  The casual fans want to see offense, and the modern parks have largely catered to that desire with resulting attendance increases.

14.  Target Field (Twins) 1.013.  The Twins’ new ball park looked like it was going to be a pitchers’ park after the first couple of seasons of play there.  However, it now looks to be a slight hitters’ park.

15.  Citizens Bank Ballpark (Phillies) 1.005.

16.  Nationals Park 1.004.

17.  Marlins Park (2012-2015) 1.000.  The Marlins’ new park appears to be as close to a perfectly level playing field for pitchers and hitters as currently exists in MLB, at least based on the first four seasons of play there.

18.  Progressive Field (Indians) 0.992.  Progressive Field was the second best hitters’ park in MLB last year, after five consecutive seasons as a moderate pitchers’ park.  2015 was almost certainly a fluke.

19.  Minute Maid Park (Astros) 0.987.  Once known as Ten-run Park, when it was named after failed energy company Enron, Minute Maid Park varies wildly between a hitters’ park and pitchers’ park from season to season.

20.  Turner Field (Braves) 0.972.

21.  Busch Stadium (Cardinals) 0.957.

22.  Oakland Coliseum (A’s) 0.941.  O.co isn’t as much of a pitchers’ park as it once was, more or less switching places with Angel Stadium, another now antiquated multi-use stadium from the 1960’s.

23.  PNC Park (Pirates) 0.927.

24.  Dodger Stadium 0.906.

25.  Tropicana Field (Rays) 0.894.

26.  Angel Stadium 0.877.  The fact that Angel Stadium is now one of the worst hitters’ parks in MLB gives one additional appreciation of just how good Mike Trout is as an offensive player.

27.  Citi Field (Mets) 0.876.

28.  Petco Park (Padres) 0.857.

29.  Safeco Field (Mariners) 0.842.  The Mariners and the Padres moved their outfield fences in before the 2013 season in order to goose offensive production.  It hasn’t helped a whole lot, as both parks remained among the worst hitters’ parks in MLB from 2013-2015.

29.    AT&T Park (Giants) 0.842.  AT&T varies a lot season to season, but in 2011, 2012 and 2015 it was a strong pitchers’ park.

San Francisco Giants Extend Brandon Crawford for Six Years and $75 Million

November 18, 2015

The Giants signed SS Brandon Crawford to a six year extension for a total of $75M.  The contract buys out Crawford’s first four free agent seasons and provides him with a full no-trade for the life of the contract.

The deal strikes me as a major home town discount by a player who wants to stay in the Bay Area where he grew up with the organization that drafted him.  The contract is particularly a bargain for the Giants if Crawford’s power surge in 2015 wasn’t a one-year fluke season.  A no-trade clause has value and is part of the reason why Crawford’s deal isn’t bigger.  However, Crawford clearly would have made a lot more if he had become a free agent, at least so long as he didn’t have a major injury first.

Crawford’s contract is a good example of just how loyal some modern ballplayers can be.  If players are treated well by their organizations, the salaries in the game are now so high that players often take less money than they’d get as free agents in order to stay on a team where they are happy/comfortable.  Of course, after about the first $50 million, the security of a long-term guarantee is a lot more enticing than the risk of even a much bigger pay-out that one might never see due to injury.  Just ask Mike Trout.

I had a disagreement with an in-law, who’s a Cubs fan, some months back regarding whether it was appropriate for the Cubs to keep Kris Bryant in the minors just long enough to hold onto his contract rights for one more season, when he was obviously ready and deserving of starting the 2015 season in the majors.  He absolutely felt that the Cubs made the right move, particularly given the fact that Bryant is represented by Scott Boras, who isn’t known for giving teams a home-town discount.

I’m not so sure.  Boras is an attorney who at the end of the day will do what his client asks him to do.  Boras doesn’t give out many home-town discounts, because the players who retain his services are generally out to get the biggest contracts they can possibly get.

Anyway, I’m old school in the sense that I still agree with the philosophy that when a prospect is clearly ready to be promoted to the majors, he should get promoted to the majors so he can start his career and begin making some real money.  I will admit that this is less of an issue with a former bonus baby like Bryant.

I wonder though whether teams aren’t hurting themselves in the long run by taking the kind of action the Cubs took with Bryant.  Management didn’t even have the decency to be honest about the real reason why they didn’t promote him either last September or for opening day this year.  If I were Bryant and Boras, I sure wouldn’t forget how the Cubs treated him.

At this point in time, there’s no way of knowing what Bryant will do when he gets close to free agency.  If the Cubs win three world series in the next six seasons, as the Giants have done, Bryant may decide he wants to stay in Chicago badly enough to give the Cubs a discount.  However, if Bryant becomes a free agent at the first opportunity or ends up insisting on a $300M contract to remain a Cub, I sure won’t be surprised.