Trevor Hoffman: Not done yet

by Myron Logan

From a baseball perspective, I think $6 million is a slight overpay, at the least.
–Me, on Trevor Hoffman’s departure

Even by FanGraphs’ reliever valuations, which may be a bit conservative, Hoffman was worth almost $7 million last year. He had a tremendous comeback season with Milwaukee, posting a 1.83 ERA in 54 innings. In 2008, his final year with the Padres, he notched a 3.77 ERA in 45 innings. That season marked his lowest ERA since 1995 and the second lowest innings pitched total of his career.

With the Padres in rebuilding-mode and Hoffman limping into his age-41 season, it was time to part ways. Looking back, though, it may have been a bad move, considering Hoffman’s iconic status in San Diego, and obviously his production last year. What changed from 2008 to ‘09? Well, the first thing to remember is that relievers are especially hard to predict, because they are on the field so little, relative to position players and starters. A string of bad luck or poor performance (or, conversely, good luck or good performance) can mask a reliever’s true talent. Let’s take a look at some numbers:

Year K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABiP LOB% GB% FB%
2008 9.1 1.8 1.6 .268 78% 39% 47%
2009 8.0 2.3 .3 .240 83% 39% 46%

Everything is very close, except home runs per nine innings. You could argue, though, that HR/9 is one of the most important predicators of a pitcher’s success. And a decrease in home run rate, from a well below average 1.6 to a miniscule .3, is going to have a tremendous impact on ones ERA.

What we’re talking about here, however, is only a few batted balls. In 2008, Hoffman gave up 58 fly balls, and eight of them traveled over the fence (13.7% HR/FB). In 2009, those numbers sat at 65 and two, respectively (3.1%). The league average for home runs per fly ball is right around 10%, however, Hoffman’s average from 2002-2009 is just 6% (2008 was his only year in that stretch over 10%). That may not seem that significant, but over that same period, had Hoffman’s HR/FB rate been at the league average, he would have allowed about 20 more home runs, or 2.5 per season – a not so insignificant number for a closer.

What this exemplifies, mainly, is the difficulty in projecting relievers. Had maybe four or five of Hoffman’s 2008 home runs landed on the playing field or in someone’s glove, his ERA could have easily been a point (or more) lower. It also shows that Trevor Hoffman, even at 41 years old, is still a great closer. He recently resigned with the Brewers for $8 million. While that may be a slight overpay, please, don’t quote me one it.

Recalculating Kouzmanoff’s value (and more arbitration fun)

by Myron Logan

It was reported today that Kevin Kouzmanoff reached a $3.1 million deal with Oakland, avoiding arbitration.

Kouz is in his first year of arbitration, so, using Tango’s 40-60-80 rule, he should be expected to make about 40% of his free agent value. As we’ve discussed recently, Kouzmanoff has been very consistent, sitting right around 2.7 WAR for the last three years (via FanGraphs). Conservatively, let’s project him a 2.5 WAR this year with Oakland.

Now what we need is a dollars per win value, the amount teams are paying for wins on the free agent market. Previously, that number sat in the mid-to-high fours, and was rising 10% each year due to inflation. With the economic downfall, however, the market has corrected itself with teams now paying less money per win. Tangotiger informed me that he is using a $3.5 million value this year (increasing by .5M each year, going forward).

That means, on the free agent market, Kouz should make about $8.75M. Multiply that by 40% and we get $3.5M. It looks like the A’s got a pretty good deal, especially considering Kouzmanoff brings a gold glove reputation to the table that probably is not deserved.

Projecting out Kouz’s long term value, in terms of how much the A’s are saving over having to replace his performance on the free agent market, now looks like this:

Year WAR Salary FA Value Surplus value
2010 2.5 $3.1M $8.75M $5.65M
2011 2.5 $6M (est.) $10M $4M
2012 2 $7.2M (est.) $9M $1.8M
Total 7 $16.3M $27.8M $11.5M

Due to the lower dollar/win value, Kouzmanoff’s projected value falls about $3 million from my previous look.

****

Corey Brock reported that the Padres could not reach an agreement with arbitration-eligible Scott Hairston today. Hairston is seeking $2.9 million, while the Padres come in at $2.1M. What is a fair price for Hairston? First we have to peg his value on the field, and that is a bit of a challenge since he’s been a role player for a while now, and has not logged a ton of PAs. His WAR values have hovered between 1.4 and 1.8 over the last three years; let’s go with 1.5 for this year.

On the free agent market, Hairston should make somewhere around $5.25M (1.5*$3.5) in 2010. Since he’s in his second year of arbitration, we estimate that he should make 60% of his free agent value, or $3.15. If the Padres get a deal done somewhere close to Hairston’s proposed 2.9M, they won’t be hurting themselves. Here is Hairston’s chart over the next two years in which he is under Padres control:

Year WAR Salary FA Value Surplus value
2010 1.5 $2.7M (est.) $5.3M $2.6M
2011 1.5 $4.8M (est.) $6M $1.2M
Total 3 $7.5M $11.3M $3.8M

As I mentioned in the post on the trade, one of the reasons Kouzmanoff has a lot more surplus value than Hairston is because he is under team control for an extra year. The other, of course, is that he’s a better overall player.

****

The Padres also reached a one year deal with Mike Adams that will pay the rightly reliever $1 million in 2010. Adams has done just about all you can ask in the majors, though he has only logged 171 MLB innings since 2004. His career ERA of 2.54 is tremendous, and he got it down under one last year. His peripherals – 9.1 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, .8 HR/9 – are also sparkling.

Of course, relievers are hard to project, especially ones that throw as few major league innings as Adams has. If we, I think somewhat optimistically, call him a 1 WAR player this year, he would be expected to earn $3.5 on the free agent market. Since he’s in his first year of arbitration, we multiply that figure by 40% and get $1.4M.

$1 million is not a steal by any means, but it looks like the Padres got a decent enough deal here. And, really, you can’t go wrong when you have a reliever with Adams’ ability and you’re only paying him $1 million on a one year deal. Worst case scenario, Adams gets injured and/or is completely ineffective and you lose $1 million. Best case, he repeats his past recent performance, and logs a lot of high leverage innings in front of Heath Bell.

Padres Sign Jerry Hairston Jr.

by Daniel Gettinger

Following their trade for Scott Hairston, the Padres decided to double down on Hairston’s and sign his brother Jerry.

Jerry Hairston is one of the more versatile players in baseball, capable of playing every position on the field, and seemingly doing so pretty well.  Over his career, Hairston has an above average UZR at every position except for SS and 3B.  Of course, he does not have enough innings logged at some of those positions (including 3B and SS) to really be sure about his defensive ability at particular positions.  Overall though, he appears to be a very good fielder who can at least hold his own at any position.

Fielding and versatility is what keeps Hairston in the majors.  With the exception of a flukey 2008 campaign with the Reds, Hairston has been a below average hitter.  He projects to be a below average hitter in 2010 as well, with the projection systems on fangraphs pegging him to be between 4 and 5 runs below average in about 340 plate appearances.

Hairston signed a 1-year $2.12 million deal.  His solid fielding and versatility should help the Padres, but he is unlikely to greatly outperform his salary.  While the signing makes sense, it is tough to get too excited about the addition of a weak hitting utility player.

Kevin Kouzmanoff traded to Athletics (take three)

by Myron Logan

Note: After I wrote this, two of my colleagues at Friar Forecast, Ben and Daniel, penned their takes on the trade. Parts of my analysis is eerily similar to Daniel’s, though are conclusions are not exactly the same.

The Padres have apparently traded Kevin Kouzmanoff and second base prospect Eric Sogard to the Oakland A’s for OF prospect Aaron Cunningham and Scott Hairston. The deal is not official, and I’ll update this post if there are any changes.

Let’s run it down, player by player:

Kevin Kouzmanoff, according to the FanGraphs metrics, has been remarkably consistent in his three years in San Diego. His wOBA ranged between .339 (non park-adjusted) in 2007 and .312 last year. His fielding, by UZR, went from about average in his first two seasons, to +7.5 last year. Overall, his WAR totals ranged from 2.7 to – wait for it – 2.8. He certainly projects to be in the 2-2.5 range next season, and he’s under A’s control through 2012. Repeating an analysis I did earlier this off-season, here’s a quick-and-dirty expected value chart for Kouz:

Kouzmanoff Proj. WAR FA Salary Proj. Salary Surplus Value
2010 2.5 $12m $5m $7m
2011 2.5 $13m $8m $5m
2012 2 $11.5m $9m $2.5m
Total 7 $36.5m $22m $14.5m

Depending on what numbers you use, Kouz is projected to be worth around $14-15 million in surplus value over the length of his contract. Kouzmanoff’s departure, however, does not leave the gaping hole that one might expect, as Chase Headley can now leave the unfamiliar terrain in the outfield and return to his natural position at third (not to mention, the Padres have a number of solid third base prospects should Headley not live up to the hype).

Eric Sogard, the second base prospect leaving the Padres organization, was drafted in the second round of the 2007 draft. Baseball America 2009 ranked Sogard as the 17th best Pads prospect, comparing him to Todd Walker due to his solid offensive skills but questionable glove. Sogard followed with a nice double-A debut, hitting .293/.370/.400. CHONE projects him at nearly 1 WAR next season.

****

The Padres reacquire Scott Hairston, who spent parts of the last three seasons in San Diego. Hairston started hot last year, hitting .299/.358/.533 (.390 wOBA) in 216 PAs with the Padres, but struggled mightily upon his arrival in Oakland, hitting .236/.262/.391 (.279 wOBA) down the stretch. Overall, though, he has been a consistent performer, with WAR values of 1.4, 1.8, and 1.8 over the last three years, respectively.

If you project those years out (to 600 PAs), which is not advisable for many reasons, those values look more like: 2.9, 3, and 2.3. It is not advisable, of course, because Hairston has played against a disproportional amount of lefties/good matchups, being largely a platoon player, but it does help to show just how productive he has been while on the field.

If we conservatively project Hairston at 1.5 WAR next year, and 1.3 in 2011, then he should be worth about $14 million on the open market, over the next two seasons (both under Padres control). If we estimate that he will make $10 million over those two seasons, then his surplus value is only about $4 million, $10 million or so less than Kouzmanoff’s.

The Padres also acquire outfield prospect Aaron Cunningham, who was ranked fourth in the A’s system by Baseball America 2009, where they said he has “tools (that) are average or better across the board, but doesn’t have an outstanding tool that points to star potential.” Cunningham hit well in triple-A last year as a 23 year old, putting up a .302/.379/.479 line in Sacramento, and his overall minor league OPS sits at .875 (in over 2000 PAs). His short major league performance has not been impressive, as he has put up a .272 wOBA, splitting 144 plate appearances between 2008 and 2009. CHONE projects him similarly to Sogard, at just under a win next season.

****

It appears to me, on this initial look, that the A’s probably improve their team more in the short-term, and also gain an extra year of control with Kouzmanoff versus Hairston, which is important. The Padres seem to be banking on two things in this deal: one, that Headley and company can fill in adequately at third, at worst minimizing the loss of Kouzmanoff, and at best equaling or bettering his performance at a cheaper price. And two, that swapping Eric Sogard for Aaron Cunningham will cut into that ~$10 million surplus the A’s gained with the Kouz-Hairston exchange.

I do not really have a problem with the deal, as I do not think either Kouzmanoff or Hairston are the type of players a rebuilding organization needs. Kouzmanoff, a solid player, obviously, will likely begin a gradual decline, and simultaneously see yearly pay increases. The Padres have cheaper options at third. Hairston, who could probably be a serviceable everyday starter, if given the opportunity, is in a similar situation – he is a nice spare part on a contender, but does not do a whole lot for a mid-70s win team. In fact, I would not be surprised if Hairston is again traded at some point, depending on how the season takes shape.

I guess my only reservation with the deal is that San Diego used one of their valuable chips in part to bring in Scott Hairston. I like Hairston as a player, but – again – I prefer him on a contender. I would have rather seen the Padres use Kouzmanoff to bring in a couple of prospects, even near major league ready ones like Cunningham, rather than just one prospect and a 30 year old (plus, they also lose a decent prospect in Sogard).

As mentioned, Hairston can still be shipped off for another prospect or two later this season if things fall apart, and if he reestablishes his value, so either way I do not dislike the trade.Two smart teams doing business; sometimes it is tough to find a clear winner.

More on the Kouz Deal

by Daniel Gettinger

For over a year I have pleaded (some may call it whining) for the Padres to trade Kevin Kouzmanoff.  As Ben posted earlier, the Padres have finally done so.  In return for Kouzmanoff and Eric Sogard, the Padres will receive outfielders Scott Hairston and Aaron Cunningham.  This is a great trade for the Padres.

First lets look at what the Padres are giving up.

The As are acquiring Kouzmanoff’s three arbitration seasons.  Kouz has been remarkably consistent as a Padre, posting WARs of 2.7, 2.8, and 2.7.  Both with the glove and the bat, Kouz is average for his position. At 28 years old, the A’s can probably expect Kouzmanoff to continue to post WAR’s between 2.5 and 3.0 for the next three seasons.

Using a dollar per win value of $4MM, and the standard 40%, 60%, 80% expected arbitration award, Kouzmanoff is expected to get paid between $21MM and $25MM while producing $31MM and $37MM worth of value.  That’s $10MM-$12MM of surplus value (not including any free agent compensation the A’s may eventually receive) over the three years.

Eric Sogard is a soon to be 24 year old second baseman who walks a lot, but like most second baseman does not have much power.  John Sickels rates Sogard as the Padres 20th best prosect and gives him a C+ grade, writing: “Gets on base, not punchless, defense is so-so but I like the bat enough to keep give him this grade.”

According to Victor Wang’s research on prospect value, a C hitter older than 23 years is expected to provide $0.5MM of surplus value.  In total, the Padres are surrendering something between $10MM and $13MM of value.

So, what are the Padres getting in return?

The Padres will control Hairston for his final two years of arbitration.  The projection systems peg Hairston as an average outfielder with the bat.  Overall for his career, Hairston has been an average, albeit versatile fielder.  His biggest problem has been staying in the lineup.  He has never played more than 116 games in any season.

The past three years, Hairston has been a 1.8, 1.8, and 1.4 WAR player.  He might be slightly better than that, but for the sake of being conservative, lets say he will be between a 1.5 and 2.0 WAR player over the next two seasons.  In a vacuum, that equates to between $2.5MM and $3.5MM in surplus value.

Sickels rated Aaron Cunningham the A’s third best prospect entering the 2009 season (due to a brief appearance in the majors this season, he was ineligible for this year’s list.)  Sickels gave Cunningham a B grade writing: “A solid all-around player. Doesn’t have the ceiling of some of these other guys, but a surer bet to reach his.”  Baseball America rated Cunningham baseball’s 55th best prospect entering last season.

According to Wang’s research, a hitter ranked between 51 and 75 on Baseball America’s rankings is worth $14.2MM.  In total, the Padres are receiving about $17MM of value in return for $10MM-$13MM of value.

However, things get even better.  The Padres traded from an area of surplus for talent in an area of need.

With Chase Headley on the roster, the Padres had two third baseman, but were forcing one (Headley) to masquerade as a left-fielder.  Not surprisingly, Headley’s fielding was a major liability and zapped much of his value.  In the minors, Headley was considered an average fielding third baseman, and in the majors Headley has shown to be no worse than an average hitter.  In replacing Kouz with Headley at third, the Padres essentially break even.

Replacing Headley with Hairston in the outfield, however is an upgrade.  Hairston provides similar value with the bat, but is a much better (think 15-20 runs better) fielder than Headley, and given his ability to play CF, more versatile.

Kouz for Hairston alone, while not necessarily a great deal from a traditional surplus value calculation perspective would probably have been a break-even proposition for the Padres due to their surplus of third baseman.  Also adding a solid prospect like Cunningham ensures that the team received more than fair compensation for Kouzmanoff, and makes this deal a serious win for the Padres.

Kouz to the A's

by Ben Davey

In case anyone didnt see this Hacksaw, MLBTR, and a few other sources are saying the Padres sent 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff to the A’s for former Padre Scott Hairston and Aaron Cunningham. I guess a prospect is also being sent the A’s way but I will take a wild guess and assume its not going to be a top prospect. Maybe someone like Chad Huffman or a low level prospect

To me this is a good move by the Padres. Adding Hairston and Cunningham to the OF rotation will help out a lot defensively (especially considering no more Headley in the OF).  Also we already know Scotty can help offensively which will hopefully make up for the loss of Kouz.

I dont know much about Cunningham, but he seems to draw a lot of comparisons to recently DFA’d outfielder Eric Byrnes. He has not had much success playing limited time in the majors the past 2 seasons. He is only 23 (turns 24 in April) and put up .309/.382/.493 averaging about 25 SB and 20 HR for a full season. Baseball Reference has him playing all 3 OF positions, mainly RF and CF the past couple years.

Just based on the little knowledge I know of the prospect and of course of Scotty I think its a good trade by the Padres

More links Bleacher Report
SF Gate

Padres, Heath Bell avoid arbitration

by Myron Logan

According to Corey Brock, the Padres and Heath Bell have come to a one year deal worth $4 million, avoiding arbitration. The Padres closer, who made just over $1.25 million last season, gets a large (and well-deserved) pay increase. Bell, 32 years old, is under San Diego’s control through 2011.

Since joining the Padres in 2006, Bell has posted a 2.72 ERA in 241 innings, striking out 252 batters and allowing just 11 home runs. According to FanGraphs, Bell has been worth about $23 million over the last three years (on the free market), while making just over $2 million. While he should easily be worth more than $4 million in 2010, the gap between his free market value and actual salary should begin its decline phase.

Storylines for 2010: Everth Cabrera’s fielding

by Myron Logan

Recently, I have been thinking about possible storylines for the upcoming season; what we are going to be watching. I think, for the most part, they involve sorting out the future of this team, and not necessarily winning games (though we will accept winning games, too).

I thought we could run through some different issues in separate posts, as sort of a disjointed season preview, touching on major topics (like where Adrian Gonzalez will play his games post all-star break) and micro ones (Cabrera’s fielding or Gwynn’s bat, for example).

Anyway, Everth Cabrera broke onto the scene with a surprising rookie year, making the huge jump from A-ball to the majors as a rule 5 pick. He not only stuck in the bigs, he clearly turned himself from borderline prospect to potential long-term contributor. He had shown plenty of offensive talent in the minors, so perhaps his season with the bat — .255/.342/.361 – should not have been that much of a surprise. He is not a power hitter, and probably will not turn into one, but he combines enough speed and patience to be a solid offensive contributor, especially at shortstop and in Pecto Park.

The CHONE projections, despite pegging him as nearly a league-average offensive player (again, quite a feat coming from a guy who had never played above A ball until last year), have him as a 1 WAR player next year. That is not bad, but it is not exactly earth-shattering either. Why so low? His fielding. CHONE projects his fielding to be 10 runs worse than the average shortstop next year. Considering that is a projection, and not raw numbers based on relatively few opportunities, it is somewhat disheartening.

UZR, available on FanGraphs as well, was also not a fan of Cabrera’s glove-work last year, putting him at nearly 12 runs below average. It was not just an error issue either, as he was equally bad in error runs and range runs (about –6 in each category). The only bright spot was his double play rating, which was just slightly above average.

For even further evidence of his defensive shortcomings, by the numbers, the data available at THT is also not encouraging. Cabrera came in last in the NL, among qualifiers, in RZR (plays in his zone turned into outs). His play out of his zone was respectable, but overall he still comes out well below average.

The good news is that Cabrera is young and talented, so these early numbers do not necessarily show who he is going to turn into on the defensive side of the ball. The other good news is that they may be wrong, or at least too pessimistic. Baseball America 2009 called Everth’s shift to short in 2008 “seamless,” and reported that he showed solid range and arm strength there. The Fans Scouting Report results were also positive, ranking Cabrera as the tenth best SS in the majors, and giving him excellent grades in “first few steps,” “speed”,” and “arm strength.”.

It is possible that the numbers do not represent his actual performance from last year; that due to whatever biases, they did not grade his fielding properly. It is also definitely possible that, despite a bad initial showing, he could develop into an average (even elite) fielder, with good coaching and hard work on his part. Of course, it is also possible that he just is not good with the glove.

Whether Everth Cabrera becomes a staple at the 6 hole for this Padres team may very well come down to what kind of value he ends up providing in the field. His development in this area of his game is something to keep a close eye on this year.

Padres links

by Myron Logan

SDPads is on a roll with his new blog, and has a couple of posts on the Padres marketing efforts, and an interview with Padres President and COO Tom Garfinkel. The interview is definitely an entertaining read.

Melvin at The Sac Bunt follows up on SDPad’s marketing posts, with some ideas of his own. I agree that Everth Cabrera, Kyle Blanks, and Mat Latos provide a nice trio to build (and market) around.

jbox listened to Jed Hoyer’s interview, and reports:

  • Hoyer says we need to invest in the future here, build up scouting staff, hire a ton of new people, keep spending a lot of money in the draft.  The Padres are spending a lot of money outside of the Major League Payroll.

MadFriars gives us a detailed overview of the changes to the Padres scouting staff.

Geoff Young shares the Ducksnorts’ community projections (and results) from last year. It is interesting that a group of intelligent fans that follow the team so closely can be so far off on many players. Predicting the future is tough.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.