Saturday, March 14, 2009

Quantifying Defense

If you're at all interested in quantifying defensive value, please check out the Baseball Prospectus interview with John Dewan, author of The Fielding Bible. Also, please do not look up my college defensive statistics and attempt to quantify them, thanks.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Starting Rotation

The Baltimore Sun currently has an "O's Opening Day Rotation" poll up on its website asking readers to select each of the five starters who should break camp with the club. The results are fascinating (all figures below as of time of writing).

1. Jeremy Guthrie receives 1486 of 1522 (97.6%) of the possible votes
2. Koji Uehara receives 1391 of 1522 (91.4%) of the possible votes
3. Rich Hill receives 685 of 1514 (45.2%) of the possible votes

And now it gets interesting:
For the fourth slot, Matt Albers -- No longer in consideration for rotation (that's how he's actually listed!) received 130 of 1513 votes (8.6%), Danys Baez 209 (13.8%), Brad Bergenson 222, (14.7%), Adam Eaton 270 (17.8%), Mark Hendrickson 133 (8.8%), Rich Hill 244 (16.1%), Radhames Liz 161 (10.6%), and Other 118 (7.8%). The results are very similar for the fifth slot, with Bergensen picking up a bit more support, Hill less, and Other lots more. With seven named choices, plus Other, which could presumably include Hayden Penn and David Pauley (yes, the David Pauley "who probably will be in the starting rotation if he can get through the next three weeks without getting hit by a meteor," which might actually happen considering how he's been pitching), for three rotation slots, it's difficult to pinpoint anyone other than Rich Hill that would be supported by Orioles fans. And Rich Hill has been injured this spring after being demoted to the minors in 2008! It could be a very long season for Orioles fans fond of good pitching.

Also of note: Jeremy Guthrie received a total of 1528 votes, meaning some people likely voted for him for multiple rotation slots. I'm inclined to agree.

Prediction: The Opening Day rotation will be Guthrie, Uehara, Penn, Pauley and Bergeson. We know Guthrie and Uehara are in there, and Penn and Pauley are strong candidates by virtue of being out of options. Bergeson has pitched well thus far and I like the fact that he throws lots of strikes.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Preemptive Strike

Over at FanGraphs, Dave Cameron has begun a new feature: ranking each of the organizations. How is that a new feature? Well, instead of a power ranking of the current Major League squads or the farm systems, he's taking a holistic approach. Since I love his idea, I'm going to steal it for the Orioles.

Front Office: B+
Two years ago, this would have been a much, much lower rating and this paragraph would have talked about how the front office needed to overcome the meddlesome influence of Peter Angelos. Today? Andy MacPhail has proven he knows what he's doing, and Peter Angelos trusts him to execute. If the organization shows more of the analysis-based decision making they exhibited this offseason, this rating could become an A.

Major League Talent: B-
Nick Markakis, Brian Roberts, Adam Jones and Felix Pie are all reasons to be excited. The pitching staff, after Jeremy Guthrie, tempers that excitement quickly. Progress is definitely being made, but the club is still in search of long-term options for the left side of the infield, first base, and with starters two through five.

Minor League Talent: B+
The great: Matt Wieters. The good: Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta. The solid: a host of other arms nearing contribution in Baltimore. The bad: a near total lack of position prospects behind Wieters.

Overall: B
If the positional talent in the organization can make the same strides the pitching talent did during the last 18 months, the Orioles will have all the makings of sustainable competitiveness in AL East.

UPDATE: Cameron has posted the Orioles, ranked # 16. Similar rankings to my own, but he breaks out Angelos and MacPhail. I gave a higher grade to the front office, a bit lower grade to the minor league talent, and a slightly higher overall grade. Still, the results are similar.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Spring Weather

I'm hard at work on my 2009 Orioles preview, and hope to have something by the end of the week. It will likely depend on just how much work my marketing final requires. In the meantime, this weekend's blast of spring weather, coupled with real baseball on television in the form of the WBC, has me antsy for the regular season to begin.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Phenom in the Making

When I opened up my Google Reader this morning I was greeted with a recap of yesterday's Spring Training game that began "Phenom in the making Matt Wieters..." Glad to see that is on the man-crushing, too.

And don't look now, but Brian Matusz is making his presence felt in camp, too. Some observers think he could be a part of the O's rotation by the end of the year. I think MacPhail will be cautious, but he is obviously a great talent and could force the club's hand sooner than expected.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Turn Back the Clock

With the stock market turning back the clock to 1996, any chance the Orioles can do the same?

Fast Track to Success

As you're well aware, I've downed the Kool-Aid and am all aboard the Andy MacPhail train. This weekend, I found more evidence to my liking:

A year ago, when the Orioles began pondering a contract extension for second baseman Brian Roberts, they relied on number-crunching and statistical analysis of an advanced nature to help set fair expectations for his performance over the life of the deal.

That endeavor largely had to do with how offensive players of his type tend to age, a case study that used seven decades of baseball history as its backdrop and systematically eliminated some ill-suited matches.

Hey, that sounds fancy! And much like something I advocate myself.

In related news, Peter Schmuck reported in hiis Tuesday column that the Orioles are not going to rush their top pitching prospects. He compares the situation to the Ravens' handling of Joe Flacco, but the more apt comparison is the sad story of Hayden Penn.