Bloomberg baseball

by Myron Logan

Bloomberg Sports is launching new fantasy and professional baseball products. Today, they unveiled their products at their NYC headquarters, which had my Twitter page abuzz. David Appelman has some really cool screenshots at FanGraphs, including this one:

I’m not sure how much of what they are doing hasn’t already been done on the ‘net, but the presentation sure looks nice. Plus, the ability to easily toggle through all MLB players is a huge bonus. This is the major league product, so I don’t think we’ll be seeing much more of it. Sure is fun to look at, though.

Weekend links

by Myron Logan

Dex has the humorous full report on the Padres town hall meeting.

The first edition of PECOTA is out, although they are still working on various kinks. The Padres projected record is 76-86. CAIRO projections have also been released, and the Padres come out a little worse at 72-90.

Project Prospect released their top 25. Two Padres made the list: Jaff Decker (18) and James Darnell (22). Here’s a detailed scouting report on Darnell. 

A reader at Lookout Landing created a very cool sabermetric library.

Spending Money on a Losing Team Sometimes Makes Sense

by Daniel Gettinger

Earlier, Myron asked:

Would the $5.3M the Padres gave Garland be better utilized on, say, locking up young players currently on the roster, future draft pick signing bonuses, international signings, and improving the scouting, player development, and analysis departments?

Myron’s question is a good one, and some, including R.J. Anderson of Fangraphs have answered “yes, Garland’s impact on the club’s playoff aspirations is minimal, and therefore the money would be better spent in other areas.”

Tom Waits, in the comment section (2) of Myron’s post adds further complexity to the issue.  He writes:

If there was a good chance that the Padres would have spent the Garland money in other ways, I’d be on the same page with Myron. Using Garland’s 5 million in the draft or internationally could buy you 8-10 years of control each for multiple talented players. But if the major league and amateur budgets are separate, which doesn’t make a lot of sense but might still be true, then signing Garland isn’t robbing Peter to pay Paul. Peter was never going to get that money anyway.

Tom is mostly correct.  If the budgets for major league talent and “everything else” are completely separate (I doubt they are), then the Garland signing probably constitutes the best use of the Padres’ remaining budgeted funds, and is in a fact a good one.

However, as Tom alluded to, I bet that management has at least some flexibility to spend funds at their discretion.  If spending additional money at the major league level is not looking like a good investment, then it can probably transfer some of that to other areas.

Even in a world where management has full discretion over its spending, it may still make sense to spend money on a team not expected to compete for a post-season birth.

Sometimes we forget that marginal wins matter even for teams not expected to reach the post-season. Those wins still result in marginal revenue.

Furthermore, revenue generated is probably dependent not just on performance in the current season, but also performance in past seasons.  The Padres’ mediocre performance in 2009 is likely to negatively affect revenue in 2010. That the Padres were also bad in 2008 further magnifies the situation.  I believe a string of consecutive poor performances may have the ability to significantly drive the revenue curve down. That is, for any given level of wins, revenue will be lower if past performance was poor than if it was good.

If you accept such a model, achieving at least some reasonable level of success in  2010 can be important, and change the result of the cost-benefit analysis Tom and Myron were discussing.  A poor 2010 season would result in three consecutive bad seasons at the major league level, shifting the 2011 revenue curve even further downward (all else equal).

Because we do not have access to the Padres detailed financial information, it is impossible to fully analyze whether the Garland signing was a good one.  However, without adequate evidence to the contrary, I like to give the team the benefit of the doubt when it makes decisions on what areas of the organization it chooses to allocate funds.  Under such a framework, we must conclude that the Garland signing will result in a greater return on investment than the next best alternative.

Is Jon Garland really worth $5.3 million?

by Myron Logan

Daniel analyzed the Jon Garland signing earlier, concluding:

Expected to perform at a $7MM level for only $5.3MM, Garland provides surplus value, at a position of need.  Not a bad signing.

Daniel is of course spot-on, and his approach to evaluating the deal is precisely how I would have looked at it. However, consider the question Aaron asked in today’s chat:

Why do you guys always use WAR as a universal stat. Aren’t wins worth more or less to different teams?

He makes a great point. A marginal win has a different value for each franchise. It is something that I’ve talked about along time ago, but neglected all too often. Let’s just consider one aspect; the team’s placement on the win curve. And just for the purposes of this post, let’s say the Padres were projected to win 79 games before acquiring Jon Garland. If you look at the chart in that linked post — Nate Silver’s wonderful research –a projected 79 win team has about a 12% chance of making the playoffs.

If we say that Garland’s addition adds two wins to the Padres projection, now they are an 81 win team. That increases their playoff chances by 6% — to a whopping 18%. If a playoff berth is worth $30 million — again, according to Silver, though obviously that figure is dated — Garland gets a $1.8 million playoff bonus. Now, are those two extra wins that he’s adding worth that remaining $3.5 million — the difference between Garland’s salary and the playoff bonus — without consider their impact on San Diego’s playoff chances.

Though Garland’s deal may have been a relative bargain, even in this year’s free agent market, the Padres are still paying a premium for his services. Due to his free agent status, and the fact that all teams can bid on him, his salary gets a major bump. Would the $5.3M the Padres gave Garland be better utilized on, say, locking up young players currently on the roster, future draft pick signing bonuses, international signings, and improving the scouting, player development, and analysis departments?

I don’t know the answer, but I think that consideration is definitely warranted. It is tough to criticize the Padres when they actually do spend money, putting them into a classic “damned if ya do, damned if ya don’t” situation. That said, their payroll sat at a mere $33 million before Garland’s acquisition, clearly showing that they are not necessarily trying to compete this season. Does it make sense to spend 13% of the payroll on one player, one player who likely is not going to change the season’s ultimate fate? Should they even be competing on the free agent market at this point?

Seriously, I ask questions because I don’t know the answers. $5.3 million is not going to cripple the franchise, but I’m just wondering if it could have been better spent elsewhere.

Padres Sign John Garland

by Daniel Gettinger

Pitcher Jon Garland and the Padres have agreed to what is essentially a one-year deal worth $5.3MM guaranteed.   (Note: There is actually a mutual option for a second year at $6.75MM with a $600K buyout).

Garland has been consistently durable and has posted consistently average performances throughout his career.  He is a low strikeout guy, who gets away with a lack of stuff by minimizing his walks and homeruns allowed. Since 2002 Garland has thrown no fewer than 191 innings in any season, while posting WARs between 2 and 4.

The projections that are out are pretty much in agreement on Garland.  He is expected to produce a FIP around 4.5 in about 190 innings.  That is solid, valuable performance, and worth approximately 2 wins ($7MM) above replacement.

Garland takes the place of the Padres previously unnamed fifth starter.  Instead of running Stauffer, LeBlanc, or some other replacement type player currently in the Padres system, the Padres can throw Garland. If someone else in the system steps up, the team will probably be able to deal Garland to a different team.

Expected to perform at a $7MM level for only $5.3MM, Garland provides surplus value, at a position of need.  Not a bad signing.

Chat with Friar Forecast, Tuesday (1/26) at 12:30 PM EST (9:30 AM PST)

by Myron Logan

We tried this last year and it went pretty well (for our first try, anyway). We received like 34 questions in a couple hours. It was a lot of fun, too. We are going to try it again this Tuesday at 12:30 PM (EST) – that’s 9:30 AM out West where many of you are. Please join us and ask questions about the Padres off-season, sabermetrics, or what kind of tooth paste we use:

 

I will definitely be there, and Daniel, Ben, and Mike may drop in to answer questions. See you there!

Padres links

by Myron Logan

Don’t forget about tomorrow’s chat right here at Friar Forecast.

At Ducksnorts, Geoff looks into Bud Black’s handling of starting pitchers. Result: He doesn’t like to leave his starters in too long, and he’s been near the top of the NL in quick hooks over the past few years. This is good news for youngsters like Mat Latos, but it is also good because generally relievers are better their first time against a line-up than starters their third or fourth time around. Plus, in the National League, it obviously hurts offensive production to stick with a pitcher hitting in the ninth slot too long into the game.

RJ’s Fro has another interview, this one with newly acquired Padres outfielder, Aaron Cunningham. Fun stuff. Cunningham sounds excited to be in San Diego.

Jbox gives us some brief, comical descriptions of Padres starters.

Ray makes the case for starting Jerry Hairston Jr. over David Eckstein at The Sac Bunt. It is not particularly hard to make the case for anyone to start over Eckstein at this point in his career.

Bill Center has a brief report on the Padres DR campus in the Union-Tribune:

But the new ownership group led by Jeff Moorad is not nearly as enamored with the facility – which is considered to be the best in the Dominican Republic …. But the Padres will probably be de-emphasizing their Latin American efforts under the leadership of Moorad, club president Tom Garfinkel and Hoyer. Only one Dominican Republic amateur of significance was signed last year compared to six in 2008 as the facility was opening.

This is definitely an interesting development.

WebSoulSurfer takes a crack at estimating the Padres payroll, and comes up with about $33 million as of right now.

In an interview at Baseball Prospectus, Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik talks about former Padres Director of Baseball Ops, Jeff Kingston (h/t: Corey Brock):

But with Jeff … every time you’re in this chair, you want to make sure that everything around you meets your comfort level. With Jeff, there was a real bonding if you will. I’ve known him for awhile, and when the position became available, I interviewed a bunch of guys, a great group of guys, and Jeff was someone who just really fit the criteria I was looking for. He’s young, he’s smart, and he’s done a lot of things in a short period of time. There was simply a great comfort level and I think that’s important

He goes on to talk about the Mariners statistical analysis department, among other things.

"Consensus" Minor League Rankings

by Ben Davey

Bill Center wrote a recent article in the UT listing the UT’s top 15 Padres prospects for 2010. While I am aware that rankings are extremely difficult and can change drastically from one expert to another, my problem was not  that the UT gave rankings, but that they were not the UT’s or Bill Center’s. In fact they were a “consensus.” Bill Center writes “Based on results, potential, and proximity to the major leagues, here is a CONSENSUS of the Padres’ top prospects.

I wonder, who is this consensus? Could it be Baseball America? What about Madfriars (insider article)? Or John Sickles? What about Tops? So I figured just looking at these 4 I would develop an actual consensus and see how they stack up.

Continue reading

Padres draft analysis series: 2000

by Myron Logan

I was thinking about the amateur draft the other day – both its impact on a major league franchises success and how proficient (or not) the Padres have been at it. I thought we’d take a look at each draft, year by year, starting in 2000 (because its recent enough to be somewhat relevant, but enough time has past to evaluate it). We’ll work upwards until recent years, and revisit later years if the series has any success.

Anyway, here’s my initial format. I’m going to split the draft up into three arbitrary sections: the top, the middle, and the rest. The top will consist of the first 300 picks, the middle will be the next 300, and the rest will be everybody after that (generally around an additional 600 picks). I’m also going to split each section into four groups: high school hitters, college hitters, high school pitchers, college pitchers. I’m going to place any player drafted out of a college, be it a junior college or as a junior, in the college bucket, just to simplify things a bit.

I will also provide a total WAR figure for each section, if any players drafted reached the bigs, so we can get a sense of the value they contributed to the major league club. And of course I’ll add some commentary. That’s the format for now, we’ll revise if needed. Suggested are of course always encouraged. (note: I’m not counting unsigned players: more on that in the commentary that follows).

2000 Draft Picks MLB WAR HS bat HS arm C bat C arm
Top tier 10 2 7.7 4 3 2 1
Middle tier 9 1 .6 2 3 4 0
The rest 23 3 .1 2 7 8 6
Total 42 6 10.5 8 13 14 7

There admittedly is not much context to these numbers, but I think they are still somewhat useful. We’ll gain a little bit of context, at least in terms of the Padres organization, as we go through the series.

The Padres drafted Mark Phillips, a left handed HS pitcher, in the first round (9th overall). Phillips responded with a 5.35 ERA in his rookie ball debut. His strikeout and home rate rates were tremendous throughout his minor league career, at 8.7 and .4, respectively. He simply could not harness any control, posting a walk rate approaching six. He disappeared from pro ball in 2003, but reappeared in an independent league in 2007 with Newark. He showed he was the same Mark Phillips, striking out one an inning and allowing just two homers in 32 innings, while walking almost eight batters per nine.

Phillips was a major disappointment, but the Padres second pick, a third basemen from Cal, Xavier Nady, has turned in a solid, if not spectacular, major league career. Nady has hit .280/.335/.458 in almost 2500 plate appearances.

The Padres fourth pick, a high school outfielder out of Louisiana, is a familiar name: Mewelde Moore. He has since gone on to have a pretty nice career in the NFL as a running back. In the minors, however, he struggled mightily, spending three seasons in rookie ball, and hitting .210/.294/.284. He did show glimpses of running back speed with ten steals in only 50 career games. While it is sort of a funny story, it is one heck of a miss for a fourth round pick.

In the 13th round, San Diego selected Justin Germano; so far he has logged 205 major league innings and a 5.27 ERA.

The Padres did select Chad Cordero, a RHP from Don Antonio High School in California, in the 27th round. However, they did not sign him. He was drafted by the Montreal Expos a few years later, where he went on to be a very good closer.

Overall, obviously, it is tough to come to too many conclusions based on this brief analysis. But, for the most part, this was not an extremely productive draft for the Pads. To put that first pick into perspective, five out of the top ten picks in 2000 did not reach the majors, so it’s not an absolute disaster. However, after Phillips came a bunch of better-looking options like Chase Utley, Adam Wainwright, and Kelly Johnson. Sure, hindsight is 20-20.

A bright spot was the selection of Xaiver Nady, who was probably the best pick in the second round of any MLB team. Nady went on to have some decent years in San Diego, then was converted into Mike Cameron in 2005.

After Nady, though, there was really nothing else. Of course, as alluded to above, there’s a lot missing here. One, is context; how good are most major league drafts? Two, there are a bunch of other potentially important factors ignored, like players that were used in trades, or valuable minor leaguers that provided something to the organization.

Anyway, we’ll look at the 2001 draft soon, and see how this one looks in comparison.

*thanks to Baseball Reference for the draft data and stats and FanGraphs for the WAR values.

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