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Wednesday, June 10, 2009
About a week ago, it was reported that the Marlins have now made OF Jeremy Hermida and OF Cody Ross available in trade talks, in addition to 2B Dan Uggla and CI Jorge Cantu (h/t MLBTR).
Should either or both OFs be traded, this could open back up a spot for top prospect Cameron Maybin, should the team decide he's ready. Brett Carroll and Alejandro de Aza could also see a big boost in value, and it's possible they'd each find near-regular playing time if the Fish decide to keep Maybin in Triple-A for the rest of the year. Prospect John Raynor could be yet another possibility. He's not playing particularly well at Triple-A, but he does seem to have the kind of speed fantasy owners drool over. NL-only leaguers, keep an eye on this situation.
Posted by Derek Carty at 9:13pm (0) Comments
Current Mariners reliever Brandon Morrow is going down to the minor leagues for some time to build up arm strength to return to the majors as a starter, says Mariners Insider. According to the article it says the new M's front office wants to slowly build up his stamina, meaning he may not return to the majors until September, and about a month and a half at the earliest.
This news should come as a blow to Morrow owners who should drop him when he gets sent down sometime next week (except in keeper/dynasty leagues of course). The man who displaced Morrow as the Mariners closer, David Aardsma, was hanging onto the closing job by a thread, but this news increases his chances of keeping the job. Despite a 1.91 ERA and converting eight of nine save opportunities, Aardsma has not been pitching well, made most obvious by his 20 walks in 28 innings this season.
If Aardsma does endure reversal of luck and loses the closer role, I could see the M's resorting to a carousel closer committee since none of their other relievers—Roy Corcoran, Miguel Bautista, Mark Lowe, Sean White—stand out.
Posted by Paul Singman at 7:01pm
We're now a third of the way into June, and we're beginning to hear more and more trade rumors. Lately, there have been quite a few rumors surrounding closers that, if traded, would have significant fantasy ramifications.
Huston Street: The fact that GM Dan O'Dowd's contract is up at the end of the season muddy's things a bit, but if there is a firesale, Street will very likely be gone. It was reported last month that O'Dowd's job would probably be safe.
Next-in-line: Manny Corpas. Unlucky so far this year, but surface numbers have been better of late and will improve as the deadline approaches.
Jose Valverde: Astros aren't contending and have had no problem trading their best relievers in the past.
Next-in-line: LaTroy Hawkins, unless...
LaTroy Hawkins: There's also talk of the 'Stros trading Hawkins, perhaps to the Twins.
Next-in-line: Felipe Paulino has a ridiculous 2.17 gmLI and has both the skills and surface numbers to make him a strong bet if both Valverde and Hawkins are traded. Tim Byrdak and Doug Brocail are other possibilities, but neither has been good this year.
Chad Qualls: With how the D'Backs are playing, trading their closer has now become a real possibility.
Next-in-line: Most likely Tony Pena (who may also be a trade candidate). Dark horses might be Jon Rauch or Juan Gutierrez.
Kerry Wood: Less likely than the rest given his big contract and slow start to 2009.
Next-in-line: Jensen Lewis's ERA (5.46) isn't pretty, but he was the choice last year and he's been used in the highest leverage situations. Rafael Betancourt's 2008 bad luck has reversed, but he will be out for several weeks. Consider Tony Sipp a dark horse.
Posted by Derek Carty at 5:19pm (0) Comments
Denard Span left last night's game with dizziness and is being evaluated by doctors. Span will be out at least for the next couple of games, meaning Delmon Young will get regular playing time in his absence. The absence could be two games or two weeks—it is not yet known—but whatever the case, Young needs to perform well if he is ever going to get regular playing time this year.
For those still holding onto him, this should be the end of the straw for Young if he does not improve on his .563 OPS during this opportunity.
Posted by Paul Singman at 3:54pm (0) Comments
As I noted on Buy on the Rumor last night, I filled in last minute on the Fantasy Baseball Roundtable Radio Show. One of the questions posed was "What is wrong with Jimmy Rollins?," which spurred an interesting discussion when I mentioned Rollins's claim that he found a mechanical glitch in his swing over the weekend. I didn't get to articulate my point as well as I would have liked, or say as much about it as I would have liked, so I thought I'd talk a little more today.
Mechanical adjustments and regression to the mean
When I mentioned the mechanical adjustments Rollins claimed to have made, our good friend Mike Podhorzer immediately jumped in, wondering if it was just the typical BS we often hear from struggling players. He noted Rollins's "unlucky" .239 BABIP, saying that a number that low is bound to come back up. Analysts often call this "regression to the mean" or "regression to a player's true talent level," but I posed a different view of what this actually means.
Sure, Rollins's BABIP is very low and is almost certain to rise, but the reason that it's so low to begin with may not be sheer bad luck. While we try to be as objective as possible and focus mostly on the numbers, we have to remember that we are dealing with human beings who are most certainly not focused only on the numbers. These are professional baseball players who have access to scores of video footage and are likely constantly evaluating themselves on a micro-level and making adjustments accordingly.
What we call "regression to the mean" may not simply be a matter of luck and sample size, but is likely also caused, in part, by players making adjustments (at least for some players). After all, while Rollins's true talent may have been something like a .350 wOBA coming into the season, if his swing is different now, how can we expect him to perform to his previous "true talent level"? If it's a different swing, it's a different player, at least to some degree.
Maybe Rollins's BABIP was low because there was a problem with his swing, but because he's a professional baseball player he was bound to fix it, causing the BABIP to rise to it's normal level. This, in turn, would cause analysts to classify Rollins's initially poor BABIP as "bad luck" in hindsight, but perhaps there was actually more to it than that.
The specific case of Rollins -- BABIP
Now, of course, the possibility also exists that this was just BS coming from a struggling and/or unlucky player. So let's examine Rollins's claim and see if the numbers back it up.
Scrutinizing footage of recent games, Rollins discovered a mechanical issue occurring at the moment his bat made contact with the ball: His swing was flat, meaning that his bat dropped less than an inch at contact, causing him to get under the ball and lift it in the air.
So, is Rollins hitting more pop-ups and fewer line drives? You bet:
+------+---------+--------+-----+--------+ | YEAR | LAST | IF FB% | LD% | OF FB% | +------+---------+--------+-----+--------+ | 2009 | Rollins | 6.0 | 18 | 34 | | 2008 | Rollins | 3.6 | 24 | 27 | | 2007 | Rollins | 3.5 | 20 | 41 | | 2006 | Rollins | 3.9 | 19 | 33 | | 2005 | Rollins | 3.7 | 24 | 28 | | 2004 | Rollins | 3.7 | 21 | 32 | +------+---------+--------+-----+--------+
Waaaay more pop-ups, actually, and the fewest line drives of his career (or at least as far back as 2002, the earliest we have batted ball data for). And while it's obviously a very small sample, Rollins hit two line drives in last night's game (50 percent). Since pop-ups become outs 98 percent of the time, this definitely has something to do with Rollins's BABIP.
Also worth noting is that, according to our early look at HITf/x data, posted by Mike Fast at THT Live yesterday, Rollins was among the worst hitters in the majors in terms of Speed Off Bat during the month of April (280th out of 303). As HITf/x is brand new and we don't have anything from 2008 to compare that to, we can't say for sure that this isn't the norm for Rollins, but there's a very good chance that it is not. Speed Off Bat very likely has a high correlation with BABIP, and given Rollins's .300+ career mark coming into the year, I very much doubt he's among the worst in the league at hitting the ball hard.
As a side-note, I'm getting super excited for HITf/x. If we had it right now, we'd not only be able to check how Rollins was doing during his early season slump, but we'd also be able to check his Speed Off Bat numbers over the next week or two and see if this mechanical change does appear to be legit. Even if his BABIP is only .200 over the next couple weeks, having the HITf/x data would let us look below the surface and potentially say that "Yes, Jimmy Rollins has made changes and has simply been unlucky since then. Buy!"
The specific case of Rollins -- Power
Finally, during the show, another good friend of ours, Patrick DiCaprio, conceded that perhaps a mechanical problem was to blame for Rollins's BABIP, but he couldn't see how it might be to blame for his power loss. While I'm no mechanics expert, I suggested that perhaps it was a matter of the batter shifting his weight improperly or something similar. Now, having a chance to read Rollins's exact explanation of the mechanical change, I think I have a better explanation.
Rollins's HR/FB is way down this season at 4.7 percent. To compare, it was 7.2 percent last season and above 10 percent in 2006 and 2007 (and tHR believed it should have been above 10 percent last year as well). If you look at the batted ball table above, however, you'll also notice that Rollins's outfield fly rate is very high, the second highest of his career. This is usually a good thing for a power hitter (more flies equals more opportunities for home runs), but for Rollins, in this specific instance, it may not be.
Rollins was never a guy who blasted the ball over the fence to begin with, so if he really is getting under the ball too much, altering the trajectory of his fly balls could have a significant impact on his home runs. If his fly balls are being hit too high up instead of being hit on a straighter line out, logically, fewer of them are going to be clearing the fences. They're going to be landing in the middle of the outfield instead of on the warning track or in the stands.
This could also further explain the BABIP. The more time the ball is in the air (as would be happening if Rollins is hitting the ball higher up), the more time the fielders have to get under it and catch it. Fly balls are the easiest batted balls to field to begin with (aside from pop-ups), and Rollins may have been making things even easier for fielders.
So what do you guys think? Am I trying to hard to find a reason to be optimistic about Rollins (full disclosure: he was my most expensive hitter in LABR NL)? Am I simply engaging in a form of logical fallacy? Or does all this make enough sense to believe Rollins might be on the rebound?
Posted by Derek Carty at 1:47pm
When we surveyed Monday's box scores, we figured that the winning Worst Monday entry would include a starting pitcher or two—Jeremy Bonderman, Jon Garland, and Andrew Sonnanstine all gave up at least 5 ER in personal Losses, and Zach Duke got decked.
However, in our inaugural edition, reader Gavin Konkel trotted out no pitchers. And yet, Gavin still managed negative points.
Because, of course, when you send Miguel Cabrera and Justin Morneau to the plate 12 times, you expect numbers like these:
AB R 1B 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB K DP Pts Cabrera 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 -1.5 Morneau 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 -3.0Keep in mind that Cabrera and Morneau entered Monday with a combined .343 BA and 1016 OPS.
And so, on a day in which his leaguemates earned as many as 22 points, Gavin got -4.5 points. For that feat, he is our debut Worst Monday winner. Congrats to Gavin!
For his efforts (or lack thereof), Gavin gets a free subscription to Heater Magazine. We may also enshrine "to konkel" as a verb meaning "to get no production from elite hitters" ("The Mets are really konkeling").
In addition, the owner of the worst Worst Monday for the season will get a free copy of the 2010 Graphical Player, coming out in December. Gavin immediately leaps to the top (bottom?) of the leaderboard.
We'll open up the balloting again next Tuesday. Can you best -4.5 points? Konkel it!