Monday, March 26, 2012

Rox Talk - Trading for Success?

Trading for Success?

Our Rox consummated eleven trades this offseason.  It is my belief the Rox have decided to rebuild in secret.  Yup our catcher of the future, Iannetta, gone.  Third baseman of the future, Stewart, gone.  Decent right fielder, Smith, gone.  Meanwhile let's sign some aging veterans to fill in for the players we jettison for a better clubhouse atmosphere in Blake, 38 (opening day ages), Cuddyer, 33, and Hernandez, 35 instead of just saying we are waiting for the youngsters to grow up.  Throw in some good excuses for the media and let's just hope that next year Rosario, Arenado, and Wheeler come through (GenR redux anyone?).

Hey that's baseball living in the mid market.  Let's just hope this next generation works out.  Anyway back to the trades.  Best web site in the world came out with a trade database last year.  As with most things I just wanted to know how our Rox have done over the years.  Ideally I think we all think that trades in the MLB are suppose to help each team.  You know trading excess talent for talent you might be lacking.  Unfortunately I don't think baseball really works that way.  Teams get rid of talent they know they can't keep hoping to get something in return.  Some teams do better than others (Tampa Bay anyone?) and ultimately I think every GM probably cringes at the ones who got away.

In comparing trades I looked at comparing WAR - Wins Above Replacement of the players that were involved in the trade remembering that WAR is used to show how many more wins a player would give a team as opposed to replacement level (i.e. someone in the minor leagues).  In spreadsheet below you can see what we have done over 20 seasons.  That's 174 trades over the years.  Frankly it hasn't been pretty for our Rox.  We have gotten 103.2 wins above replacement for our trades and given up 288.5 wins.  Yikes!  Although I will note that the WAR values for the Rox only count to the wins gained while being a Rox while the player traded is the sum of the wins for their entire career.  So a direct comparison isn't particularly useful but it does show what the Rox gave up over that player's career.

In review 95 of the 174 trades Rox were involved had a zero or negative value for the Rox while their trade partners only had 78 trades that were zero or negative.  And let's be honest the Rox have been fleeced in the past.  Worse trade ever?  Yup that was July 1993 when Rox traded Brad Ausmus, Doug Bochtler, and Andy Ashby for Greg Harris and Bruce Hurst.  Rox gave up 35.5 wins above replacement and got a whooping -1.3 in return.  Padres should be ashamed of taking advantage of a expansion team in its infancy!    Of course maybe they were cursed as the Rox only winning record against the NL West have been the Padres...Other people we gave up on included Chone Figgins (21.4 WAR), Craig Counsell (18.1), Ellis Burks (17.1), Jake Westbrook (13), Juan Uribe (11.9), Juan Pierre, Jermaine Dye (9.1), and Jamey Carroll  (8.5) to name a few.

Rox haven't done as well in return.  Our best trade was in December 2001 when we shipped Jeff Cirillo to Mariners for Brian Fuentes, Jose Paniagua, and Denny Stark.  Rox got 7.4 wins while Cirillo finished out his career with -2.7.  Rox other top trades include Jason Hammel (5.5), Kazuo Matsui (5.1), Rafael Betancourt (4.1), Todd Hollandsworth (3.5), Gabe White (2.9), Jason Marquis (3.1), and Dave Veres (3.6).  Rox seem to be doing better in their recent history versus the 90s and early 00s.  We can only hope that our trades from this past off season work versus our history!

In conclusion trades don't seem to be all that beneficial for anyone involved.  Most trades involve no names (the infamous player to be named later) and almost all the trades end up with almost no value (i.e. teams could have just cut lose the player and brought in a AAA player).  While the perception is that teams want to trade a player before a big contract is due and get something in return this rarely happens at least for our Rox.  Again not to rip on management but the importance of a draft cannot be understated in looking at the trades above.  When you have to trade for value you really tend to be gambling.   My guess is that most GMs know this and hedge against you when in a trading proposition.  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Bronco Town...

As if it wasn't obvious, I am a Colorado Rockies fan.  Been there since the beginning.  Purple is my color through and through.  Living in Denver, it is hard not to be overwhelmed with Bronco talk 24/7 365 days a year.  Not that it is a rare thing as every sports talk radio station in the country is NFL talk all the time.  Hard to say that ESPN hasn't just become the voice box for football in our nation.  

With Spring in the air and Rox opener almost 2 weeks away you would think that maybe we would get some love?  Maybe?  But no the Broncos stole at least a week's worth of news with the signing of future Hall of Famer and 4 time MVP Peyton Manning.  Fantastic, great for the Broncos and the orange and blue faithful.  I have to admit that Fall in the Rockies is a little bit brighter when the Broncos win.  Anyway as a general sports fan, the signing of Manning struck me as so unlike the world of the MLB and Colorado Rockies.  Manning's signing would be on par with the Rox signing Albert Pujols this winter.  Think about that for a moment...

Baseball is America's pastime but football is it's getaway.  Baseball is so American that teams are even considered low, middle, and high income potential teams.  With Pujols on the market this winter, Rox probably didn't even pick up the phone.  Bottom line there was only one to four teams even able to consider giving out the coin he got.  Yet in the NFL almost any team probably could have signed Manning.  There was no discussion of the have or have nots.  With the money machine that is the NFL all teams work generally from the same spreadsheet.  Kind of funny how un-American the NFL truly is.  It is the socialism of sports.  Too bad New York and Dallas, that you make so much more money, and have to  pass it along to the have nots in Green Bay and Jacksonville.  Most pundits say this is what makes the NFL work and that every team has a chance on opening weekend.  This is not so true in baseball as Opening Day usually means half of the baseball teams can be written off and won't be within 20 games of playing in October.

So in the end would I like to live in a world where every team in the MLB had a chance on Opening Day?  That I could actually believe we could sign Albert Pujols?  That is hard question because my love for baseball is based in America itself.  The ebbs and flows of our nation just like dynasties on the diamond are what makes America and Baseball great.  What makes baseball sort of fun is the fact there exists a team like the Yankees.  A $200 million dollar behomoth that can be loved or despised.  If all was equal who would we root against?  Baseball like America is richer with diversity.  Sometimes with the right mix of individuals, a baseball team can come together and win it all regardless of their team income just like each of us can do our thing and perhaps build something greater than the sum.  Each of us, as American's, can still theoretically strike it rich. 

In the end I'm glad for the Broncos and just as happy to see Todd Helton play out his career in Denver with Pujols paying for the West Coast Yankees.  

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Rox Talk - Is It April Yet?

Is it April Yet?

This is the time of the season that just bores me.  Yes real games are playing (Spring Training - Baseball's Evil Temptress).  2012 is almost here but so far the Rox find themselves 1-5, last in the Cactus League.  Should I care?  No not really. See chart below on what preseason versus season winning percentages actually means.  Consider this year to be an extended try out for a lot of borderline players.  The age of the Rox starting nine is such that I think Tracy knows these guys will be ready.  Of course we also don't want to get a slow start in April either so let's hope that as March wanes the Rox get it in gear.
What Does Spring Mean?
Ubaldo - A Saint or Sinner?

Well the cat is out of the hat.  In this article, Ubaldo finally reveals his "contempt" for the management and whines about his contract.  Foremost I think the 2010 season that Ubaldo put up is one of the greatest pitching performances of the Steroid and Post Steroid Era.  It was a magical run.  Stat heads will break it down and insist it was a lot of luck and blah blah blah.  I understand but you are talking about a pitcher for one season who conquered the ghosts of pitcher's past at Coors Field.  Someone who went 19-8.  9-2 at home with an insanely low ERA of 3.19.  Who does that?  And this is my gripe with baseball stat heads...they rip offensive players for playing at Coors but they don't give any credit to a pitcher who has to pitch there.  Consider how much Larry Walker and Todd Helton Hall of Fame credentials are written off due to the Coors Field effect, but my take would be any pitcher who shows any attempt that they can compete should be anointed to the Hall of Fame instantly.  U-Ball finished 3rd in the Cy Young that year, mostly due to his non-superman performance after the All Star break (a measly 4-7).  And frankly that is probably why U-Ball didn't get any love.  No one is going to be a sustained light's out pitcher at Coors...Ever.  If U-Ball couldn't tame the beast that should tell you all that you need to know about management's desire to shell out large sums of money for pitchers.  After the debacle that was Hampton, Neagle, and Kile, the day's of pitchers getting any long term deals is nil.  

In  the end I thought U-Ball was a good kid, a great Rox but if you tank a season because you feel disrespected than I'm find that you should get shown the door.  You were a marginal pitcher when the Rox gave you a long term deal.  You found lightning in the bottle for a first half of one what, millions of workers around the country have a good don't see us clamoring and pouting that we didn't get shown the big bucks.  Good luck with the mistake by the lake.  Enjoy competing in the Big Boy League.  Just shut up and pitch.  You disrespect the game.

2012 Thoughts

Again not to be negative but I think 2013 is the year to shoot for.  This article basically tells you all you need to know about success and having a couple of inning eaters.  Rox might have two (Chacin and Gutherie).  Sure we aren't out of it but boy having a reliable starting pitcher corps sure can help...

Friday, March 2, 2012

Your Field of Dreams Rox Fantasy Team