Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Difference Between Road Block & Depth

5 月 4 日 (美國時間),Dodgers 旅行到東岸對上 Braves 的比賽裡,兩位 tbs 的 commentators -- Chip Caray & Joe Simpson -- 提到目前的 Dodgers 和 Braves 一樣開始重視農場的經營,但這兩位先生的頭腦顯然比咱家 GM Ned Colletti 要清醒很多,他們接著提到:

"The difference is the Dodgers signed some road blocks, Nomar, Kent & Gonzo..."

這裡可能是有點弄錯了,在 management 不敢讓 Nomar 守 2B 和 3B 的情況下,Kent 的存在其實是比較有價值的!別忘了 Kent 也在 1B 的 depth chart 上,更何況 Dodgers 目前並沒有什合適的年輕 middle INF 足以補上 Kent 的空缺。

這兩位 commentators 還提到 Gonzo 的肩力,說是 "和 Pierre 同一個等級",但也不好意思用太 vicious 的形容詞,最後婉轉的以 "below average" 帶過,頗有讓人會心一笑的感覺。

Colletti 在上一個 offseason 的動作很大,大到讓 Dodgers 最後的 team salary 衝到近 110M 之譜,根據前一陣子在 scout.com 的 fan forum 上閒逛的結果,絕大多數的 Dodger Fans 相信了 local media 的宣傳,認為 Colletti 打造了一支具有 "Great Depth" 的球隊,國內某位知名的博士級 commentator 也形容 Dodgers 07 年的 depth 可以 "一路從 LA 排到 LV (Las Vegas)"。

個人的感覺是:會有這種想法的人,在 depth 上的認知與 Dodgers minor system 的認識上是有偏差的。LA organization 裡能取代 Nomar 和 Gonzo 的大有人在 -- 尤其是 1B,這個位置對 Dodgers 而言 -- 撇去 Nomar 不談,水準高於 league average 的 Olmedo Saenz 都還只是第 3 號 surplus 而已 (Loney - Kent - Saenz)。

就球隊的經營面來談,signing FA 其實是項很大的賭博,主要的原因在於 FA 不僅價格高而且合約時間長,而如果簽到一個很貴的垃圾 (That means you, JP...),球團通常也不會很魄力的將他放在 bench 上。當然會造成這種情況的理由不外乎 GM 耍蠢、Managers 搞不懂該用什麼人先發,另一個不可抗拒的因素則是 FA 畢竟是球團的投資,球團不會也不願意眼睜睜看著砸下去的鈔票流進水管裡。少數像 D'Backs 這麼 "猛" 的 GM 才會選擇用 22M 和 Ruth Ortiz 換一個 roster spot。

所以,當 Gonzo 以 1-year 7M、Nomar 以 2-year 19M 被簽下之後,這樣的動作就不能被稱為 "build up depth"。Actually,合約金額就已經 guarantee 他們的先發位置了。更不用說在 Dodgers 有 James Loney、Matt Kemp 與 Andre Ethier 的情況下,Nomar 和 Gonzo 根本就是不折不扣的 duo road blocks。

至於 "depth player" 的定義,除了他們本身不是很貴的球員、或者說球團捨得放在 bench 上以外,實力能到達 league average 的水準當然是最好不過 (如果簽一個只有 replacement level 的球員做 depth 的話,乾脆從農場叫人上來還聰明一點),這麼一來當他們做主力球員的替補先發時也不會讓球隊損失太多的戰力。

以 07 年的 Dodgers 而言,個人認為只有 Brady Clark Mike Leiberthal 可以被稱為 depth。Clark 在 06 年雖然打得很糟,但這和他的 bad luck BABIP 也有點關係,要求 07 年的 Clark 可以 regress 50 points 以上的 OPS 並不是件奢侈的事,這會讓他 clear league average 的要求,plus Clark 3 個 OF 位置都可以守;Leiberthal 雖然一直是 free swinger 形態的 catcher,就攻擊面而言,他的 career stats 其實是突破 league average 的,也因此 Leiberthal 的存在其實要比起去年的 backup catcher -- Sandy Alomar Jr. & Toby Hall -- 要好得多。

個人並不是指 Dodgers 07 年的 depth 不佳,而是 Dodgers 把 "主力" 當成 depth;把 road block 擺在 starting lineup 上、把未來浪費在 Las Vegas。Colletti 所做的一切,只是從他腦漿不足的猴腦袋裡勾畫出愚蠢的 "贏球藍圖",同時想辦法建立良好的 PR、保住他的 reputation 和麵包罷了。

近日在 友台 看到了 Dodgers 的 3B prospect Andy La Roche 07 年在 Vegas 的狀況不是太好,不過 Braves 的 commentators 倒是對他丟了不少關愛的 "聲音"。無論如何,當 Betemit/Ramon/Valdez 這 3 位 3B 候選人到目前為止交出的 EQA 為 .192/.159/.217、respectively 的情況下,我不曉得為什麼 1 個月的 trial-and-error 還沒能讓 management 想到 La Roche?如果說 La Roche 的表現無法超過這 3 個 "可燃性不可回收廢物",個人真的是萬難相信...

13 comments:

ako said...

Dodgers recall INF LaRoche, place INF Anderson on DL



看來老天爺聽到你的祈禱了 ORZ~

Morikawa said...

Thank goodness...

希望 LaRoche 就此成為 Dodgers 下一個和 Martin 一樣被重用的人;Wilson Betemit 轉成 Ramon-liked 的工具人;Valdez 和 Ramon 就選一個去 release 吧。

2.5 said...

Morikawa,
Dodgers' "depth" is clogging up the road for 胡金龍's advancement. His OBP is about .400, higher than those in AAA in front of him. Yet he's nowhere near getting called up. You and other sabermetrically-oriented guys call for Coletti's dismissal.

I came on the scene late, but I hear Moneyballer DePodesta gave 陳金鋒 the same treatment.

If you can offer a sabermetric analysis of the situation, that would be great.

Morikawa said...

Hi 2.5,

C.L. Hu is a non-roster currently, which means Hu's time is yet to come.

I run Hu's plate, he was born in 1984 and signed by the Dodgers in 2003. He started his 1st professional season in 2004, which implies the Dodgers have to keep Hu in the reserved list before Nov. 20 2007 or Hu probably will be eligible for Rule 5 Draft.

Speaking of Hu's OBP so far, I admit, for a SS, committing a .90x OPS in pitcher-friendly Jacksonville is quite a story, but I don't think this figures are solid enough. When I look deeper into Hu's LD% (Line Drive Percentage), it's only 11% this year (and 16% in 2006). Astonishingly, Hu commits a .408 BABIP (.283 in 2006), which is absurdly high since we all know the thumb of BABIP for a hitter can be simply represented as "BABIP = LD% + 0.11".

You can also refer to this piece. I left a brief discussion about BABIP.

Moreover, with a slim 30-point difference between Hu's OBP & AVG, it doesn't seem to correspond with his .5xx SLG.

I'm the one who believes the slogan "Power generates BB". Simply put, when you are known for power, pitcher will be reluctant to challenge you, especially in crucial situation. And you will see more "certain balls" than average hitters so that you will, as a matter of course, commit more BBs.

So, if Hu's power is a real thing, I will expect to see more walks in Hu's resume. Unfortunately, at least now, I don't.

My opinion about Hu's caliber is he probably will become a very similar player as Cesar Izturis. Hu may win a spot with his glove, not his bat. To be honest, I don't like this kind of SS since for NL teams, they already lose some edges offensively in batting their pitchers in the lineup. You don't need two (or more) automatic outs among your 9 starting members.

The above theories are all based on Hu's current stats, key word: current stats. Despite of his lack of batting ability, Hu has not tasted the class above double-A yet. After he is added into 40-man roster, he will have another 3-year to develop. I guess Hu's ETA won't be anywhere earlier than 2009. But I will be surprised if Hu grab a regular job in Los Angeles.

As for my opinion about C.F. Chen, pls refer to the "comment" I left here if you don't mind.

Anyway, the result of translating performance from minor to major cannot be too right, but with looking into some solid, substantial categories, it can be much better than just guessing.

Dorasaga said...

Hi again, morikawa-san,

As a Cubs fan, I cannot agree more with you: Izturis is not a very productive member for Wrigley's team. I really think a NL team challenging itself for getting there, to the World Series, should consider a shortstop like Lugo (Boston).

By the way, thanks for replying my previous response. I like your posts; your "stuffs" got more and more substantial everytime I come here for a good meal.

;-)

2.5 said...

Morikawa,
while I agree that Power->BBs, BBs can also be an indicator of plate discipline (e.g., Wade Boggs).

Don't know if you noticed, but in 2006 Hu drew a ton of walks when he batted .254. The (OBP-AVG) gap was over 0.70.

So Hu's swinging a lot more this year, but he's already demonstrated plate discipline. He's yet to hit a jack, but we know that power can be developed more easily than plate discipline can (according to Moneyball, anyway).

The LD stat you cited is very interesting. I wonder if his 2Bs and 3Bs come from flies or bloopers. I haven't watched him play yet.

Furthermore, Hu has demonstrated ability beyond AA, during spring training.

By the way, on another subject, I think EqA is too complex a stat, and as Tango has demonstrated, it can break at certain levels. I think its main purpose is to prevent others from being able to use it. If you want something to look like batting average, so you can relate to it, why not just use the other stat you cited (1.7*OBP+SLG)*.258?

The only reason I use it is because Davenport is the only one who's translated NPB stats.

2.5 said...

In sum, I don't see Hu as an automatic out like you do.

Morikawa said...

Doradaga,

Thanks for everything you feedback. It's very joyful to chat with you.

I'm also very curious about where you live. Is that Chicago? How comes a Cub Fan realize so much about NPB?

Morikawa said...

2.5,

What I said is Hu's "Current Stat" doesn't look very impressive to me, and if Hu just commits similar stats as Juan Pierre did these two years (That's what Cesar did in 2004, his career year), I'll consider him an "automatic out".

Talking about double, there are 3 kinds of it:

1. Foul-line double
2. Wall-bounced double
3. Gap double

Only "2." can be represented as hitter's power. Other kinds of double are no more than "the ball just goes toward the right direction". Which also implies player's total-double has very weak year by year correlation.

So, if a player's SLG was piled up by tons of doubles, that "power" could be quite phony...

Dorasaga said...

I spent half of my life in Taiwan, and another half in Midwest (Chicago and St. Louis).

To be honest with you, I wasn't a real baseball fan until I saw Matsuzaka pitching for Team Japan in Athens 2004. His pitching rose my passion. Naturally, I got caught up with Japanese baseball.

Having equal share of time with both Wrigley culture and its St. Louis counterpart, I support the Cubs more than the Cards because I get more from supporting a losing team. It's the "B-class" feel like Lotte Marines, which is hard to explain.

Morikawa said...

Dorasaga,

OK I see. No offense but I think teams like Cubs can not have no excuses for playing poorly since they are a big market team. It's very much unlike the Lotte Marines. The biggest problem for the Cubs is they don't have a clever GM.

Like the other teams, Cubs have all the good things described in Moneyball, plus, they also have a lot of money to spend. Cubs can be a very strong team as long as their GM boosts his team toward the right direction. This year, a 300M-crazy-spending-spree doesn't seem to work out, and, in my opinion, will not work out anyway.

For me, to see how a GM does for his team is probably more interesting than watching a ballgame. I always say the light of your hometown field is turned on only for 81 days a year, and you have plenty time remain to "cerebrate" every move of your favorite team.

I guess that's why I turn my eye from NPB to MLB, and also why I always pick so hard on the current Dodger GM Ned Colletti.

Dorasaga said...

Hello again,

I agree about the "no-excuse" part, but a B-class is a B-class, and the empathy shared by such fans is not too different.

Now, the problem of Cubs GM is Hendry's business decision, with a trade strategy always after established free-market players instead of young prospects or new players. In fact, Cubs traded away young prospects for veteran to-become free agents.

Without knowing the result back then, such strategy was redeemed as not cost-effective, but thinking in his boots, I won't say this strategy is a total failure.

Another problem is the kind of advices a GM gets from his field manager. With Dusty Baker's stubborness built into his own manager logic, Hendry would be misguided on the type of players the team needs.

Cubs' success with building a loyal big market fanbase is a result of good marketing. John McDonough, the marketing wheel behind Cubs' success, was promoted to President of the club right after season 2006 ended. Then his following actions were more spending for the best free-agents available on the market, and he signed Lou Piniella as the field manager.

Such changes in the Cubs organization for the past few months are rare to happen in NPB. The system is different. To say the least:

As a result of less mobility of players in the market, most NPB clubs don't have and won't need a GM. NPB managers are not just advisors for trades and drafts; they are part of the front-office deciding these maneuvers. And this closer tie between field experience and trade strategy makes watching a NPB game just as interesting as reading the GM's minds.

But down to the basics, managers do their job while GMs do another type of job. An ideal GM is a lawyer who knows the market and negotiates contract to the club's advantage in general. An ideal manager communicates with his people (players and staff) and knows how to bring wins to each field game. There's nothing wrong with preferring either type of the jobs. After all, we still talk baseball here.

Morikawa said...

Dorasaga,

I got your point about Cubs. Comparing the Dodgers, it seems you and me are on the same boat. Well, not quite the same though.

I admit that NPB teams don't need no GMs. Actually, that's the reason why I don't think it's necessary to apply sabermetric to NPB. Ethusiasm is anything and everything NPB needs.