Baseballistic
All Things Baseball

Nov
24

Manny Ramirez

Another offseason, another 4 months of concern for each member of Red Sox Nation.  Why?  Because the team’s star leftfielder has once again asked to be traded, and while it’s not completely clear what Manny’s motive is, the front office has promised to “make a good-faith effort” to move Ramirez.  This has only added to the worrisome condition of the mind of each Red Sox fan, because moving Manny could have several negative consequences for the team and its success.  As a Red Sox fan, I share that concern.  Here are 5 reasons to keep Manny Ramirez — heed these words Theo Epstein!

1.  Can the Red Sox offense produce without Manny Ramirez?

Taking Manny Ramirez out of the Red Sox lineup could have a multi-pronged effect.  First, it means taking on of the top-10 hitters out of the team’s offense.  Ramirez hit .321 with 35HR and 102RBI last season, and he’s one of a select few hitters who can boast a career OPS of over 1.000.  In other words, removing him from the lineup immediately drops the Red Sox offense from its top-tier status to somewhere near the middle of the league.  But it gets worse…

If you take Manny Ramirez out of the lineup, there’s no one to protect David Ortiz, and it’s difficult to say if Big Papi can be big without another big bat behind him.  If the powerful 3-4 combination were broken-up, what would stop opposing pitchers from walking Ortiz to face a less dangerous hitter batting behind him? 

This primary concern can only be relieved if the Red Sox find a way to get equal offensive value for Manny Ramirez.  The problem is, that will be nearly impossible.  It is rumored that the Red Sox might deal Ramirez to the Angels for Scot Shields and prospects — that would do nothing to make-up for the offensive loss.  Sure, Boston might also sign JD Drew, but if you think Drew would calm the mind every Red Sox fan and fill the void left by Manny you’re dead-wrong. 

Yes, I know Manny Ramirez’s value will never be higher, but why does that matter?  I also know that Manny is more willing to accept a trade this year than he’s ever been before (as is evidenced by his lengthened list of acceptable teams to be traded to), but he’s been asking for this trade for years.  And finally, I know that the Red Sox could make a lot of progress toward building a successful team for the future, but Red Sox Nation is far too impatient to appreciate that.  The goal is to win and to win now, and the best way for the Red Sox to do that is to keep Manny Ramirez. 

2.  Will the BoSox clubhouse be the same without Manny Ramirez?

Manny Ramirez is one of the “fun guys” of the Red Sox clubhouse, and the team has been losing a lot of its clubhouse chemistry over the past couple of seasons.  When the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, they were known for referring to themselves as the “team of idiots”; the idiots being led by Kevin Millar, Johnny Damon, Jason Varitek, and Manny Ramirez.  Since then, Millar and Damon have left for Baltimore and New York respectively, leaving Varitek and Ramirez (as well as 2006 addition Mike Lowell) to make playing for the Red Sox fun.  It’s hard to say how much of a role the great clubhouse chemistry played in the Red Sox’ miraculous 2004 championship, but the team has slipped the past couple of seasons, so all indications are that it was significant.  Losing another great clubhouse guy can’t be good, and then there’s the off-the-field relationship between Ramirez and Ortiz…

Every time David Ortiz hits a homerun, you’ll see Manny Ramirez waiting to bear-hug Big Papi, do their funky handshake, and otherwise embrace him at the plate.  If Manny Ramirez whacks a ball out of the park, David Ortiz greets him in the dugout with similar enthusiasm.  I have a hard time thinking of a similar relationship between 2 players anywhere in baseball.  Break that up, and not only will the team lose Manny Ramirez, but it will also lose the great attitude of its most valuable player, David Ortiz.  Ortiz already said that the team wouldn’t be the same without Manny Ramirez; Papi said in an interview that “I won’t get anything to hit without Manny behind me” and “the team will miss him a lot if he gets traded”. 

Trading one of your two best hitters and upsetting the other in the process is hardly a smart decision.

3.  I know he’s 34 years old, but…

Another point that many supporters of trading Manny are making is that he’s aging.  Manny Ramirez is 34 years old, but he’s hitting as well as he ever has, and there’s not much to lead me to believe that won’t continue.  I know hitters decline as they age, but take a look at Baseball Prospectus‘ prediction for Manny next few seasons…

  • 2007 — .287/.377/.555 with 36HR and 114RBI and an EqA of .317
  • 2008 — .278/.371/.530 with 33HR and 110RBI and an EqA of .309
  • 2009 — .283/.373/.539 with 32HR and 101RBI and an EqA of .312

As you can see, Manny is expected to decline slightly in terms of BA/OBP/SLG over the next few seasons.  Meanwhile, his HR and RBI numbers aren’t projected to drop much, and his EqA is expected to stay in the .310-.320 range. 

If Manny Ramirez isn’t projected to decline much over the next few seasons, I don’t see any reason to worry about his age.  He’s not a guy who succeeds only because of his speed — in fact, speed is the one tool missing from Manny’s toolbox of success — so age won’t have as much of a negative impact on Ramirez’s numbers as it might on players like Alfonso Soriano and Juan Pierre (to use a couple of this offseason’s signings for example).  This might make Manny Ramirez more valuable in a trade, but it also makes keeping him look like a terrific plan. 

4.  Equal value? 

What exactly is “equal value” for Manny Ramirez?  Ummm…?

Let me first define what it’s not and see if that helps…

The Red Sox are rumored to have discussed a trade with the Houston Astros for Brad Lidge and Morgan Ensberg.  In other words, Boston would pick up two high-risk players for a proven all-star slugger.  “Equal value”?  I think not. 

Another rumored deal was with the LA Angels of Anaheim, in which the Red Sox would acquire Scot Shields, another solid Major Leaguer, and 1-2 prospects.  Scot Shields is a great reliever, and the Angels might even be willing to throw in Juan Rivera, plus a top-prospect.  Unfortunately, that’s still not “equal value”.  Scot Shields is a great reliever, but the Red Sox seem to have horrendous luck with the bullpen so I wouldn’t put too much stock in him.  Juan Rivera has excellent potential, but he hasn’t proven himself to be an all star caliber player.  The Red Sox could certainly use another decent offensive prospect, but I can’t envision the Angels parting with Howie Kendrick or Brandon Wood, even for Manny, meaning that the prospect wouldn’t be a top-tier one, but rather another potentially risky acquisition.  “Equal value”?  Ummm, closer, but still no. 

And the other rumored trade has Manny Ramirez going to the Mets for Lastings Milledge, Aaron Heilman, and a prospect.  Milledge has loads of potential, but if you saw any of the Mets vs. Red Sox games at Fenway Park this season, you witnessed some disgusting outfield play by Milledge, who left Boston thinking Fenway’s Pesky rightfield is the baseball equivalent of hell.  Aaron Heilman is a very good young pitcher who could become a premium reliever or a solid starter.  Unfortunately, as I mentioned in the breakdown of the trade with Anaheim, a proven guy elsewhere is a question mark in Boston.  Adding another young player helps, but it still doesn’t make this deal worthwhile for the Red Sox.  “Equal value”?  ‘Fraid not.

So if those three trades don’t give the Red Sox “equal value” for Manny Ramirez, what would? 

The Red Sox need to acquire a premium hitter in this deal, one that would fill the hole left by Manny Ramirez.  If the Texas Rangers would be willing to trade Michael Young for Ramirez, I could see that as “equal value”.  If the Angels were willing to include Brandon Wood or Howie Kendrick in the deal, that might be “equal value”.  If the Braves would trade Andruw Jones and a decent prospect for Ramirez, that would be “equal value”.  Unfortunately, I don’t see any of those 3 teams pulling the trigger on a trade that would sacrifice their future to acquire Manny for a few seasons; in other words, “equal value” for the Red Sox doesn’t necessarily mean “equal value” for the other team(s) involved. 

If you can’t get “equal value” in a trade, why make the deal? 

5.  Can you imagine the Red Sox without Manny Ramirez?

I know this will sound kind of weird, bizarre, and ridiculous to anyone who isn’t a Red Sox fan. 

As I write this, I find it hard to imagine the Red Sox without a guy who has been a staple in their lineup for 6 seasons.  I can’t imagine the Red Sox PA announcer not saying “batting 4th, the leftfielder, Manny Ramirez” before a game at Fenway Park.  And it’s even harder for me to fathom seeing Manny Ramirez in a different uniform — even watching Indians games from the 1990’s makes me go “huh?  I thought he was a Red Sock”. 

I think the majority of Red Sox fans share my fear (I think that’s what it is) of seeing Manny Ramirez not playing in Boston, or worse, playing for another team.  I doubt Theo Epstein would want to upset the better part of his team’s fan-base, and trading Manny Ramirez would do just that. 

My view on this issue is definitely affected by me being a Red Sox fan, but I think it’s a fair assessment of the situation surrounding the possibility of Manny Ramirez leaving Boston. 

To sum-up everything you just read in 8 words: trading Manny Ramirez is NOT a good idea.

Nov
22

Ted Lilly

This free agent class is thin on everything, and starting pitching is no exception. You have the premium arms, like Jason Schmidt, Barry Zito, and Daisuke Matsuzaka, and then you have the second-tier veterans such as Gil Meche, and the subject of this profile, Ted Lilly. Lilly has a few things going for him and a few things working against him. On his side are numbers such as his 15 victories, a 2.45ERA in September, and a .202BAA when facing lefties, but the enemy is powerful, with strong evidence against Lilly such as the fact that he’s never pitched 200 innings in a season. All this will factor into the contract that he gets (and Lilly is demanding quite a bit for his services) as well as which team signs him.

For a closer look, here are the numbers on Ted Lilly for 2006…

  • Record: 15-13
  • ERA: 4.31
  • WHIP: 1.43
  • BA Against: .254
  • Games: 32 (32 starts)
  • Innings Pitched: 181.2 — that’s 5.2 innings per outing, which isn’t great
  • Hits: 179
  • Runs: 98 (87 earned)
  • Walks: 81
  • Strikeouts: 160
  • Homeruns allowed: 28

Those numbers aren’t bad, but they’re far from great. Which is exactly what Ted Lilly is: a middle-of-the-road starting pitcher who’s slightly more valuable because he’s a southpaw.

Here are Lilly’s situational numbers (Opponents BA)…

  • Bases Empty: .231
  • Runners On: .283 — pretty big jump with guys on base
  • RISP: .246
  • RISP w/2 outs: .176
  • Bases Loaded: .300

Once again, nothing that is strikingly great, nor anything that is surprisingly poor. More evidence that Lilly is just an average starting pitcher. You’ve probably got all the information you need on Lilly, but…

Here are his splits for this season…(ERA/WHIP/BAA if applicable)…

  • Vs. Lefthanded hitters: .202 — great
  • Vs. Righthanded hitters: .265 — not so great68 walks vs. Righthanded hitters compared to just 13 vs. Lefties as well
  • Home (Rogers Centre): 4.08/1.47/.245
  • Away: 4.57/1.38/.263
  • Day Games: 4.37/1.49/.244
  • Night Games: 4.29/1.40/.258

Here’s one more interesting factoid about Lilly…

This graph is from Baseball Prospectus, and it shows Lilly’s performance in each of the 5 categories against the performance of other starting pitchers. For example a 60% rating means that the player is better than 60% of Major Leaguers. If you’re unfamiliar with some of the stats, here’s the definitions for the ones I’ll be using…

  • K stands for strikeouts
  • BB stands for walks
  • GB/FB is the ratio of ground-balls to fly-balls

Several things can be taken from this chart…

  1. Lilly is a pure fly-ball pitcher, which should make teams with hitters’ parks nervous — GB/FB = about 15%
  2. Lilly often struggles with his control — BB = 20%
  3. Lilly relies rather heavily on strikeouts — K = about 75%

Those numbers could either help him or hurt him depending on where he goes, especially if the team’s ballpark either severely favors or opposes pitchers.

Alright, that’s about enough numbers and charts, you get the point; Lilly is a #2-4 starter depending on what team signs him and that team’s needs in terms of starting pitching.

Where is Ted Lilly most likely to land?

There are several teams that could use a middle-of-the-pack starter like Ted Lilly, and that could favor him over other tier-2 starters because he’s a southpaw. They include the Yankees, Cubs, Mariners, Giants, Padres, Dodgers, and possibly a few others. Lilly is demanding a 4year deal worth 40Million, and that might take several of those teams out of the running. If there’s big money at stake, guess who usually wins?

My prediction: Ted Lilly moves down the East Coast to the Bronx, joining the Yankees rotation after signing the deal he wants — 4/40.

Stats prediction: Lilly should do about as well as he did in 2006 for the Yankees in 2007, with numbers like 14-12 with a 4.50ERA and a 1.50WHIP.

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There’s a change in this week’s schedule of free agent profiles…

Thursday: No Profile

Friday: Jose Guillen

Saturday: Joe Borowski

Sunday: Pedro Feliz

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Today’s moves…

The Angels agreed to terms with Gary Matthews Jr. adding yet another solid offensive player to their outfield, while bolstering their defense in centerfield. The contract is 5yrs for 50Million.

The Dodgers confirmed their signing of Juan Pierre to a 5year deal worth 45Million.

The Devil Rays released righthanded pitcher Doug Waechter after he struggled to the tune of 1-4 with a 6.64ERA in 11 appearances this past season.

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Trivia Time!

Yesterday’s question was…

Rich Aurilia has made one non-baseball-related TV appearance, guest starring on an ABC soap opera in 2003. Which soap opera was it and what role did Aurilia play in that episode?

The correct answer…

Aurilia appeared in a non-speaking-role as juror #9 during a trial on ABC’s General Hospital.

Today’s question is…

Ted Lilly has played for 4 teams in his MLB career; which of the following is not one of them?

  • New York Yankees
  • Oakland Athletics
  • Montreal Expos
  • Los Angeles Dodgers
Nov
22

Alfonso Soriano will be raking in big bucks for 8 years

There’s two sides to the debate over Alfonso Soriano’s new 8-year 136Million contract from the Chicago Cubs — you either believe he’s worth it, or you don’t.  I’m on the extremist side of the latter argument.  Here’s my two cents on why the Cubs will be sorry when Soriano’s contract expires in 8 years. 

Let’s take a look at the numbers that made the Cubs give Soriano that much money for that many years.  In 2006, Alfonso Soriano hit .277 with 46HR and 95RBI, stole 41 bases, scored 119 runs, and had an OPS of .911 (which is the number GM Jim Hendry will be calling in 2014 when he realizes his mistake).  Even more impressive is that Soriano was able to put up these numbers playing half of his games at RFK Stadium, which is one of the most pitcher-friendly and power-hitter-unfriendly ballparks in baseball (his EqA — equated batting average — was actually .300, for example).  In an offseason whose free agent class has little talent, it’s easy to see why Soriano’s 2006 numbers might make him worth mucho dinero. 

Here however, are some numbers that might make Jim Hendry scratch his head about forking over that much dough…

  1. With RISP (runners in scoring position), Alfonso Soriano had a batting average of .231. 
  2. Soriano struck-out 160 times in 728 plate appearances or once every 4.55 times he came to the plate.  That’s awful for a leadoff hitter. 
  3. Soriano was a model for inconsistency, hitting .308 in April, .287 in May, .207 in June, .368 in July, .304 in August, and .204 in September.  Ups and downs like that are far from desirable for a leadoff hitter.

If those 3 points aren’t enough, consider the following…

As I mentioned earlier, Alfonso Soriano will be 38 when his contract expires in 2014.  Most players start to deteriorate by age 33, and many are in full decline a year or two later.  Perhaps Soriano is an exception to that trend, but that’s highly unlikely and is dependent on luck, something the Cubs lack (the Bartman and Mark Prior are great examples of the Cubs’ un-lucky-ness).  If Soriano does in fact start to deteriorate at age 33, the Cubs will only get $17Million worth (if that’s his true value) for 4 years at most; after that, Soriano will be collecting paychecks, but won’t be paying dividends on the field. 

I mentioned earlier that Alfonso Soriano’s EqA was .300 for this season.  Baseball Prospectus projects that his EqA will decline slowly, bottoming-out at .255 in 2014.  The biggest drop will be between 2007-08 when Soriano’s EqA is projected to go from .291 to .275; in other words, two years from now, the Cubs can already expect to be regretting their decision.  On average, over the next 8 years, Soriano’s EqA will be .271, which is far from desirable for a leadoff hitter, even if he does slam 40 balls out of the yard.  I don’t know if Jim Hendry ever saw these projections, but paying 18-20Million (2014 is the most expensive year of Soriano’s contract) for a .255 hitter who’s 38 years old doesn’t strike me as a particularly smart decision. 

One other thing that might’ve persuaded Jim Hendry to fork over 136Million to Soriano is his speed.  Alfonso Soriano stole 41 bases in 2006, which is terrific; unfortunately, Mr. Hendry overlooked two things about that. 

  1. As players get older, their speed tends to deteriorate.  Many players are able to steal 30+ bases in their early-30’s, but only 5 players have stolen 30+ bases at age 38 in MLB history. 
  2. Soriano was also caught stealing 17 times, for a success rate of about 70%, which is only slightly above-average.  As his speed declines, Soriano can expect to see his CS statistic increase, if he continues to attempt to swipe the same number of bases a year. 

There’s another aspect of speed that probably made Jim Hendry excited — it allows for terrific range in centerfield, which is the position Soriano is expected to play for the Cubs in 2007 and beyond.  As Soriano’s speed slowly leaves him, his range in the outfield will decline as well, which means that by 2014, the Cubs can expect many balls to be hitting the ivy at Wrigley Field, instead of finding their way into the centerfielder’s glove. 

 

Perhaps Jim Hendry is just incompetent…?

So if all this information was readily available to Jim Hendry and his front office colleagues, why did he still decide to fork over 136Million to Alfonso Soriano?  The most likely answer is that Hendry is not qualified to be a GM.  He has failed to produce a consistently successful team, hasn’t drafted particularly well, and hasn’t made good decisions on the trade and free agent fronts.  Baseball Prospectus prides itself in having correctly predicted that “the Cubs ignorance of On-Base Percentage will be their undoing”; a more accurate description of the culprit behind the Cubs’ recent struggles is Jim Hendry’s incompetence. 

I just hope for the sake of every Cubs fan that the injury curse that has plagued your team doesn’t strike Alfonso Soriano.  Imagine rooting for a team that’s spending $136Million on a player who’s on the shelf for the better half of the 8 years you’re paying him to play.  If the Cubs are in fact cursed, I’d keep my fingers crossed all the way through the end of the 2014 season that Soriano is not the curse’s next victim. 

And here I’ll suggest that the Cubs’ “curse” isn’t a curse at all, at least for the moment.  Yes, I know that Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Derrek Lee, etc… continuously suffer long-term injuries and prevent the Cubs from winning and that the team hasn’t won a World Series in a century, but there’s another reason why Chicago’s NL team can’t contend right now: the front office. 

My suggestion to the Cubs: fire Jim Hendry and rebuild the smart way to put a contender on the field by 2008-09.  Keep him in the GM chair and you’ll be sorry-ano come 2014.   

Nov
21

Rich Aurilia

Rich Aurilia is a veteran who knows how to play baseball the right way.  He can play any of the 4 infield positions, get the job done at the plate, and have a terrific effect on the clubhouse atmosphere.  In other words, he could be one of the great bargains of this offseason, and I’m sure Aurilia will have plenty of teams calling his agent to try and sign the experienced infielder. 

Here’s a look at Aurilia’s statistics for 2006…

  • Batting Average: .300
  • On-Base Percentage: .349
  • Slugging Percentage: .518
  • OPS: .867
  • Doubles: 25
  • Triples: 1
  • Homeruns: 23 — 122 games, so…30 in a full season?
  • RBI: 70 — 93 in a full season?
  • Runs: 61
  • Stolen Bases/Caught Stealing: 3/0
  • Walks: 34
  • Strikeouts: 51 — very tough to K; good contact hitter

Rich Aurilia was very good at the plate this season, and as you’ll soon see, he could be depended on to get the big hit.  The Reds would not have been the same team without Aurilia’s presence in 122 games this season, and he’ll look to have that same effect on his next team. 

For a deeper look, here are Aurilia’s situational numbers (BA/OBP/SLG)…

  • Bases Empty: .289/.345/.506
  • Runners On: .316/.353/.535 — he steps it up with guys on base
  • RISP: .297/.336/.500
  • RISP w/2 outs: .275/.297/.419 — hmmmm…
  • Bases Loaded: .375/.333/.375

Rich Aurilia is no Derek Jeter with RISP, but he gets the job done, and for a middle-infielder, his numbers are well above average.  That, combined with his splits (see below), greatly increases his value this offseason.

Here are the splits for Aurilia…

  • Vs. Lefties: .347/.406/.680 — 1.086OPS is spectacular
  • Vs. Righties: .276/.318/.437
  • Home (Great American Ballpark): .308/.363/.533
  • Away: .291/.333/.502
  • Day Games: .255/.304/.389 — uh-oh…
  • Night Games: .323/.371/.584 — …maybe not

Aurilia’s split stats seal his case as a very solid player.  His terrific success against southpaws might suggest that a platoon role in the infield would be his best option, but with decent numbers against righties as well, Aurilia may best be used as a utility infielder who starts every game but shifts around the diamond defensively. 

Here’s another reason to sign Aurilia…

  • Pre-All Star Break: .267/.319/.488
  • Post-All Star Break: .332/.378/.547 — excellent
  • September: .344/.385/.511

Late-season success is very valuable to teams that are one step away from making the playoffs, and Aurilia has historically done very well in the latter half of the year.  That should put him on the radar for every GM looking to bolster his team’s playoff chances without breaking the bank. 

Could Rich Aurilia return to San Francisco?

There are a number of teams searching for a middle-infielder this offseason and Aurilia is among their best options.  His power should attract even more teams because shortstops and 2B’s with power don’t come along very often.  Add veteran experience and positive attitude to the equation and Aurilia becomes one of the potential steals in this offseason of mega-spending.  Look for the Reds to make an effort to bring him back, but also for the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Padres, Blue Jays, and Giants to try to pry Aurilia away from Cincinnati. 

My Prediction: Rich Aurilia will sign a 2year 14Million deal to return to the San Francisco Giants. 

Stats Prediction: Aurilia’s 2007 should look something like .290/.350/.510 with 27HR and 85RBI. 

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Tomorrow’s Profile: Ted Lilly

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Reliever Jamie Walker signed a 3year 12Million contract to join the Baltimore Orioles.  The addition should bolster the O’s bullpen, which was awful in 2005, except for closer Chris Ray. 

The Rockies reportedly agreed to a 4year 13.25Million contract (plus an option for a 5th year worth at least 6.75M) with starting pitcher Jeff Francis, though the Rox front office has yet to confirm the signing.

The Rangers agreed to a 3year deal worth 13.3Million with outfielder Frank Catalanotto, with an option for a 4th season.  The signing is a good start by the Rangers’ front office to start filling holes vacated by Gary Matthews Jr. and Carlos Lee.

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Trivia Time!

The previous question was…

In 2002, Eddie Guardado saved 45 games for the Twins, breaking a franchise record set by which former Minnesota closer?

The correct answer…

Rick Aguilera

Today’s question is…

Rich Aurilia has made one non-baseball-related TV appearance, guest starring on an ABC soap opera in 2003.  Which soap opera was it and what role did Aurilia play in that episode?

Nov
21

Over the past two days, Major League Baseball announced its Most Valuable Players for the 2006 season. Yesterday, Ryan Howard was crowned the MVP of the National League. Today, the AL honor went to Justin Morneau. Many fans disagree with these choices, but to them I say, deal with it. The two players who got the awards were in fact the Most Valuable Players this season. Here’s why…

NATIONAL LEAGUE


NL MVP: Ryan Howard

In the National League, there were only two players with a legitimate claim to the award. They were Albert Pujols and Ryan Howard, and while both were amazing this season, only one could take home the hardware. If you look only at the “basic” numbers, Albert Pujols bested Ryan Howard in all but two categories. Here are the stats for Howard and Pujols from this season…(Howard/Pujols)

  • Batting Average: .313/.331
  • On-Base Percentage: .425/.431
  • Slugging Percentage: .659/.671
  • Homeruns: 58/49
  • RBI: 149/137
  • Runs: 104/119
  • Doubles: 25/33
  • Triples: 1/1
  • Walks: 108/92
  • Strikeouts: 181/50
  • Howard with RISP: .256/.423/.518
  • Pujols with RISP: .397/.535/.802

Pujols: “Wait, my stats were better, how did I not win?”

Clearly, Pujols beats Howard if you go by the basic numbers because Howard’s stats are better than Pujols’ in just two categories: Homeruns and RBIs. I say basic, because Howard actually did better than Pujols in the 2nd half of the season, when it really matters. Check out the 2nd half numbers for the two sluggers…

  • Howard: .355/.509/.751/30HR/78RBI/59R
  • Pujols: .344/.427/.642/20HR/61RBI/56R

As you can see, Ryan Howard is noticeably better than Albert Pujols in the final months of the season. To prove this further, look at the August and September numbers for the two…

  • Howard in August: .348/.464/.750/14HR/41RBI/25R
  • Pujols in August: .315/.379/.568/6HR/22RBI/24R
  • Howard in Sept: .387/.561/.763/9HR/20RBI/21R
  • Pujols in Sept: .368/.464/.679/9HR/27RBI/21R

I’m not going to tell an outrageous lie and tell you that Pujols’ numbers in August and September were bad; in fact, they were incredibly great. Ryan Howard however, was by far the best hitter in baseball the last two months of the season. Even though his Phillies fell short of the playoffs and Pujols’ Cardinals won the World Series, Howard meant more to Philadelphia than Pujols did to St. Louis in the final months of the playoff hunt. Both of them were terrific (for lack of a better word), but Howard’s 23 majestic Homeruns during the last two months of the season made him more valuable than Pujols.

NL MVP: Ryan Howard (1B — Phillies)

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AMERICAN LEAGUE

AL MVP: Justin Morneau

Choosing an MVP for the American League was a much harder task than for the NL. Instead of just two players in the entire league having a shot, one AL team (the Twins) had three legitimate contenders (Mauer, Morneau, and Santana). Add to the equation Derek Jeter, David Ortiz, Travis Hafner, Jermaine Dye, and Frank Thomas, and you’ve got a whole bunch of great sluggers to choose from. The favorites were difficult to weed out, but after awhile, it became clear that the race would come down to Justin Morneau, Derek Jeter, David Ortiz, and Frank Thomas. Further filtering showed that Morneau, Jeter, and Ortiz were much more likely to win than the Big Hurt. Here are the numbers for the top 3…

  • Morneau: .321/.375/.559/34HR/130RBI/97R/3SB
  • Jeter: .344/.417/.483/14HR/97RBI/118R/34SB
  • Ortiz: .287/.413/.636/54HR/137RBI/115R/1SB

All things considered, each of the three had a rock-solid case for the MVP award if you just look at the basic numbers. The interesting thing is, Morneau, who came away with the award, is not the best in any of the categories. The Twins’ 1st-baseman however, did spectacularly in each area, while Jeter and Ortiz both had flaws in their record.

David Ortiz’s absence in the final months killed his chances

Now, let’s narrow it down to two, by eliminating David Ortiz. I know Big Papi is the MVP in the mind of any Red Sox fan, but lets face it, he wasn’t there to help the team down the stretch, which may have been a big part of the BoSox late-season collapse. Ortiz went down with an irregular heartbeat, and while I know it wasn’t his fault he couldn’t play, Papi simply didn’t factor into the playoff chase or the Red Sox success (or lack thereof) in the latter half of the season. Now that Ortiz is gone, it’s down to Morneau and Jeter — and it’s a toss-up.

Derek Jeter’s case for the MVP was no worse than Morneau’s

Let’s take a look at the post-ASB numbers for Jeter and Morneau to try to determine a winner…

  • Morneau: .342/.399/.531/11HR/57RBI/50R
  • Jeter: .342/.405/.507/9HR/45RBI/60R

Those are as close as it gets. Jeter and Morneau tied in the batting average department; Jeter had the edge in OBP; Morneau bested Jeter in SLG. Morneau and Jeter were virtually tied in terms of HR, and while Morneau was the clear leader in the RBI category, it was Jeter who scored more runs.

Now, let me tell you why I think Morneau was more valuable to the Twins than Jeter was to the Yankees…

A quick glance at the Twins lineup reveals that aside from Morneau, the only power threats are Joe Mauer, Torii Hunter, and Michael Cuddyer. The Yankees lineup on the other hand is filled with big time bats from 1-to-9. While Derek Jeter had the benefit of being surrounded by the best supporting cast in baseball (by a New York-sized margin), Justin Morneau had just 2-3 threats to help him out. That makes Morneau’s spectacular season a bit more impressive than Jeter’s. It also means that the Twins could not have gone nearly as far without Morneau as the Yankees might have without Jeter.

Since MVP stands for Most Valuable Player, the AL honor was correctly awarded to Justin Morneau, because he was more valuable to the Twins than Derek Jeter was to the Yankees.

I know that last statement will greatly anger any Yankees fan, but if you look at the facts, it’s true.

AL MVP: Justin Morneau (1B — Twins)

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Today’s trivia question will appear at the end of this evening’s post (Free Agent Profile: Rich Aurilia)

Nov
20

Eddie Guardado

Eddie Guardado’s 2006 was a tale of three seasons.  He started it with Seattle and suffered miserably until the Mariners decided to deal him to Cincinnati.  After joining the Reds, Everyday Eddie was dominant, and started to look like the terrific closer he’d been with the Twins a few years ago.  However, an injury derailed his comeback effort, and Guardado missed the final 2 months of the season.  That same injury also required reconstructive surgery on Guardado’s throwing elbow and the comeback trail is long; Everyday Eddie will miss all of the 2007 season.  This puts a negative spin on Guardado’s value to be sure, but the lack of bullpen talent in this free agent class means he’ll still have some value, and could be signed by a team that thinks it will need a closer/late-inning reliever in the future.  The one question that still remains is: can Eddie Guardado recover from this serious ailment and return to his prior form?  That’ll be a riddle any team looking to sign Everyday Eddie will have to solved to properly assess his value. 

Here are Guardado’s statistics for 2006…

  • Record: 1-3
  • ERA: 3.89
  • WHIP: 1.54 — that’s not what you want to see from a closer
  • Saves: 13
  • BA Against: .297 — YUCK
  • Games: 43 (0 starts)
  • Innings Pitched: 37.0
  • Hits: 44
  • Runs: 19 (16 earned)
  • Walks: 13
  • Strikeouts: 39
  • Homeruns allowed: 10

Those numbers are far from great, but watch this split…(ERA/WHIP/BAA)…

  • With Seattle: 5.48/1.74/.309 — he kept Manager Mike Hargrove sleepless…
  • With Cincy: 1.29/1.21/.278 — …but kept Jerry Narron smiling

Perhaps all Eddie Guardado needed was a change of scenery.  Unfortunately, that question combined with the severity of his elbow injury will make most GM’s skeptical about signing Everyday Eddie this offseason.  He’s a proven closer who never really got into a groove (or never had a chance to), but with the injury and recent inconsistency casting a shadow over Guardado’s earlier success, it’s unlikely he’ll get tons of interest this offseason. 

Will anyone take a chance on Eddie Guardado?

I think there will be a few teams that will find Everyday Eddie’s experience and prior success too hard to ignore, even considering the injury and his lack of effectiveness this season.  The Giants are one of those teams, and I think GM Brian Sabean will take a chance on Guardado because San Francisco seems to have an annual lefty-deficiency in its bullpen.  Veteran experience is also something Sabean covets, so I think Guardado, if he chooses to keep playing, will call San Francisco home come 2008. 

Eddie Guardado will miss the 2007 season to recover from reconstructive elbow surgery. 

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Today’s Moves…

Alfonso Soriano agreed to a blockbuster 8year 136Million deal with the Chicago Cubs. 

Nomar Garciaparra agreed to a 2year 18.5Million contract to stay with the LA Dodgers.

Alex Gonzalez joined the Reds, signing a 3year 14Million deal. 

Mike Stanton signed a 2year 5Million deal to join the Reds, that also includes an option for 2009

Moises Alou is now a New York Met, after signing a 1year 8.5Million deal with a option for 2008. 

Mike Mussina will stay with the Yankees, agreeing to a 2year 23Million extension.

The Reds traded catcher Jason LaRue to the Royals for a PTBN (minor leaguer). 

___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___

Next Week’s Profiles…

Monday: Rich Aurilia

Tuesday: Ted Lilly

Wednesday: Jose Guillen

Thursday: Joe Borowski

Friday: Pedro Feliz

Saturday: Danys Baez

Sunday: David Bell

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Trivia Time!

The previous question was…

When Ray Durham left the White Sox for the A’s in 2002, he was the White Sox all-time leader in which of these categories?

  • Stolen Bases
  • Leadoff Homeruns
  • Extra-Base Hits
  • Doubles

The correct answer…

Lead-off Homeruns. 

Today’s question is…

In 2002, Eddie Guardado saved 45 games for the Twins, breaking a franchise record set by which former Minnesota closer?

Nov
18

Ray Durham

I asked 5 people to name the 2nd-baseman who hit 26HR, slugged .538, hit .341 against lefties, and hit .331 with RISP.  They all answered either Chase Utley, Robinson Cano, or Bill Hall.  Unfortunately, none of them were right.  I was looking for Ray Durham, but I wasn’t too surprised that not one of the 5 could figure it out.  After all, Durham is a .281 career hitter who hadn’t hit over 20HR or driven-in more than 75 in a season before 2006.  But it appears, at least from his offensive performance this year, that Ray-Ray is just entering his prime at the age of 34. 

Here’s a look at the tremendous 2006 numbers for Durham…

  • Batting Average: .293
  • On-Base Percentage: .360
  • Slugging Percentage: .538 — terrific for a 2B
  • OPS: .898 — amazing for a 2B
  • Doubles: 30
  • Triples: 7 — he can still motor around the bases
  • Homeruns: 26 — great for a 2B
  • RBI: 93
  • Runs: 79
  • Stolen Bases/Caught Stealing: 7/2
  • Walks: 51
  • Strikeouts: 61 — excellent BB/K ratio

You might think, based solely on his 2006 statistics, that Ray Durham is a corner-infielder or outfielder.  Those numbers are simply spectacular for a middle-infielder, especially one that hit in an otherwise unproductive lineup — Durham was easily the Giants’ best hitter this season.  Need more evidence of Durham’s greatness this year?  Check out his situational stats…

  • Bases Empty: .265/.332/.541
  • Runners On: .326/.391/.535 — he really picks it up when there’s guys on base
  • RISP: .331/.395/.554 — AWESOME
  • RISP w/2 outs: .304/.409/.500
  • Bases Loaded: .462/.500/.923

That should be all the numbers you need to believe that Durham was in fact a terrific hitter in 2006.  It amazes me that so little was said about his performance, but I noticed that he was producing more than ever, probably only because I watch quite a bit of Giants baseball.  In case you’re the world’s biggest skeptic, here are Durham’s splits to get you believing…(keep in mind, Durham is a switch-hitter)…

  • Vs. Lefties: .341/.413/.650 — 1.063OPS…WOW!!!
  • Vs. Righties: .277/.342/.501
  • Home (ATT Park): .284/.372/.541 — great for a pitchers’ park
  • Away: .300/.350/.536
  • Day Games: .283/.353/.539
  • Night Games: .299/.364/.538

Those are simply ridiculously good for a middle-infielder.  Why wasn’t Ray Durham mentioned as one of 2006’s best hitters?  Because he played for the lowly Giants, but also because this was a very abnormal year for the veteran 2nd-baseman.  Was it a fluke?  Probably, but not completely, because Durham has shown some improvement at the plate over the past few years and 2006 may have been the top of his ability.  He’ll almost surely drop at the plate a little next season, but a 2nd-baseman with that much power can fit into just about any lineup in baseball. 

One thing that may stand in Durham’s way is his defense.  While he’s acceptably sure-handed on groundballs and has adequate range, Durham is an adventure on pop-flies, and that’s putting it nicely.  Every time there’s a sky-high pop-up hit Durham’s way, the crowd at ATT Park holds its breath to make sure Ray-Ray doesn’t lose it in the sun, is able to keep his glove on the ball, and squeezes it properly.  There were countless times when the ball hit Durham’s glove and bounced out, when he was clueless about where the ball would land because his sunglasses were oddly on his cap instead of his eyes, and when Durham just couldn’t make the catch.  Ground-ball, good; fly-ball, potentially disastrous.  But his sub-par defense might be a risk a team looking for an offensive jump-start would be willing to take.

Where will Ray Durham wind up?

The Giants will likely let Ray Durham walk away as a free agent because they have top prospect Kevin Frandsen waiting in the wings.  Durham however will have plenty of suitors, many of them in California.   The Padres, A’s, and Dodgers all figure to play a major role in the Ray Durham bidding, joining the Rangers, Mariners, and Red Sox as his potential suitors.  So where will Ray-Ray be next season?

My prediction: Ray Durham will sign a 3year deal worth 27Million to join the San Diego Padres, replacing Josh Barfield at 2nd-base for the Friars, after the young 2nd-sacker departed for Cleveland in a trade with the Indians earlier this month. 

Stats prediction: .285/.350/.480; 20HR, 85RBI, 8SB. 

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow’s Monday’s Profile: Eddie Guardado

(I will not post on Baseballistic tomorrow because I’ll be away)

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Today’s Moves…

The Cincinnati Reds signed Shortstop Alex Gonzalez to a 3year deal, greatly improving their infield defense and adding depth to their middle-infield. 

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Trivia!

Yesterday’s question was…

Can you name 4 members of the Braves’ 1991 starting rotation?

The correct answer…

Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Steve Avery, and Charlie Leibrandt

Today’s question is…

When Ray Durham left the White Sox for the A’s in 2002, he was the White Sox all-time leader in which of these categories?

  • Stolen Bases
  • Leadoff Homeruns
  • Extra-Base Hits
  • Doubles
Nov
17

Tom Glavine

It’s hard to believe that Tom Glavine is still going strong at age 40, and it’s amazing that after 20 seasons, he’s still one of the top southpaws in baseball.  Glavine has pitched for only 2 teams in his 20 MLB seasons, the Braves and the Mets.  Based on what he’s said since becoming a free agent, there’s no reason to believe that’s going to change.  So will it be Shea Stadium or Turner Field that gets the most of Tom Glavine in 2007?  And what exactly can we expect of him next season? 

Let’s take a look at his 2006 numbers and figure it out…

  • Record: 15-7
  • ERA: 3.82
  • WHIP: 1.33
  • BA Against: .267
  • Games: 32 (32 starts)
  • Innings Pitched: 198
  • Hits: 202
  • Runs: 94 (84 earned)
  • Walks: 62
  • Strikeouts: 131
  • Homeruns allowed: 22

Tom Glavine is still going strong, as is evidenced by his base statistics for this past season.  He still has the giddy-up to strikeout hitters, the control to keep his walks down, and the stuff to be an effective top-of-the-rotation starter.  Glavine may not be the top-tier ace he was a few seasons ago, but he’s certainly not caving-in just yet. 

Here are Glavine’s situational statistics for this season (opponents BA)…

  • Bases Empty: .264
  • Runners On: .272
  • RISP: .239 — great
  • RISP w/2 outs: .185 — awesome
  • Bases Loaded: .278

While Glavine’s numbers without RISP are nothing to brag about, he does a phenomenal job keeping runners from crossing the plate.  Glavine is one of the best pitchers in baseball going from the stretch and he also has a sneaky pick-off move to first base. 

For some more numbers on the veteran southpaw, here are his splits (ERA/WHIP/BAA if applicable)…

  • Vs. Lefthanded hitters: .200 — terrific
  • Vs. Righthanded hitters: .287 — not so terrific
  • Home (Shea Stadium): 2.88/1.24/.257
  • Away: 4.72/1.43/.277 — keep him home
  • Day Games: 4.00/1.43/.291 — he’s nocturnal
  • Night Games: 3.71/1.28/.252

That’s just about it statistically for Glavine in 2006.  He’s pretty impressive for a 40-year-old, no?  Too bad he’s limiting his potential 2007 homes to two teams leaving 28 clubs without a chance to sign him. 

Tom Glavine’s choices: New York or Atlanta? 

This is probably the easiest free agent to predict — I’ve got a 50/50 shot.  Glavine could either return to Atlanta or stay in the Big Apple and whichever he chooses, he’s certain to get a pleasant greeting when he’s the visiting pitcher at the other team’s ballpark.  So where will he end up…?

My prediction: New York.  The Mets need a starting pitcher in the worst way, and I like Omar Minaya’s chances of bringing Glavine back.  2years 20Million is my guess. 

Stats prediction: (14-9) with a 3.60ERA and a 1.40WHIP. 

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Today’s moves…

The Phillies snagged Wes Helms off the market for 5.5Million over 2years with an option for a 3rd year worth 2.5Million. 

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Tomorrow’s Profile: Ray Durham

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Trivia Time!

Yesterday’s question was…

Julio Lugo’s brother Ruddy Lugo is a reliever for which team?

The correct answer…

The Devil Rays — Julio’s former team. 

Today’s question is…

Can you name all 5 members of the Braves’ 1991 starting rotation?

Hint: one of them is Glavine and only one of the others is still pitching

Nov
16

Julio Lugo

Julio Lugo did a little bit of everything this season.  He hit in every spot of the batting order and played 5 different defensive positions; there’s not a lot of players who can claim to have done that.  Unfortunately, Lugo also experienced a slip at the plate in 2006 from his excellent 2005 numbers, and that doesn’t bode too well for his hopes as a free agent.  Still, the veteran Lugo who is celebrating his 31st birthday today, will likely get plenty of interest during the offseason. 

Here are Lugo’s statistics for 2006…

  • Batting Average: .278
  • On-Base Percentage: .341
  • Slugging Percentage: .421
  • OPS: .762 — OBP, SLG, and OPS were all better than career #’s
  • Doubles: 22 — fewest 2B’s since 2003
  • Triples: 2
  • Homeruns: 12
  • RBI: 37 — fewest since 2002
  • Runs: 69
  • Stolen Bases/Caught Stealing: 24/9 — terrific speed
  • Walks: 39
  • Strikeouts: 76

Compared to his 2005 statistics, the 2006 numbers for Lugo are not good, in fact, they show a severe slip in just about every department.  He still showed excellent speed and baserunning skills, but Lugo disappointed in lots of offensive categories from RBI’s to Doubles this season.  GM’s will certainly be cautious about signing him unless they can determine exactly what led to the slip.  GM’s opinion of whether Lugo is in fact a great hitter or if 2005 was a fluke will determine his value this offseason. 

For some more numbers, here are Lugo’s situational statistics…

  • Bases Empty: .280/.346/.399
  • Runners On: .275/.331/.463
  • RISP: .215/.286/.291 — YUCK
  • RISP w/2 outs: .229/.325/.229 — Disgusting
  • Bases Loaded: .200/.429/.200

Need any more reason to be concerned about Lugo’s 2006?   Well, those situational stats certainly provided it.  Julio Lugo did absolutely nothing with Runners in Scoring Position this season, getting only 3 extra-base hits in that situation.  His numbers with the bases empty are acceptable, but they matter much less.  If he can’t show the ability to produce in clutch situations, there’s no reason for any teams to show strong interest in Lugo. 

Perhaps Lugo’s split stats will help his case…

  • Vs. Lefties: .263/.318/.398
  • Vs. Righties: .284/.349/.429 — much better against RHP
  • Home (Dodgers Stadium/Tropicana Field): .267/.346/.422
  • Away: .286/.337/.419
  • Day Games: .280/.336/.464
  • Night Games: .277/.343/.403

Those splits are none-too-spectacular.  Julio Lugo really doesn’t have a lot to show for himself statistically this season.  Here’s another revealing stat…

  • Pre All-Star Break: .300/.369/.477 — excellent
  • Post All-Star Break: .253/.307/.354 — far from it — .661OPS — AWFUL

I don’t know what happened to Julio Lugo during the All-Star Break, but something went terribly wrong.  After leaving Tampa Bay to go to the Dodgers, he did absolutely nothing.  Need evidence of that…?

  • With Tampa Bay: .308/.373/.498
  • With Los Angeles: .219/.278/.267

Chavez Ravine was not a good home for Julio Lugo.  The Dodgers used him at almost every position imaginable, and he did okay defensively, but Lugo more than erased that with his dismal offensive production.  He might have been the worst midseason acquisition of the year, and Dodgers’ GM Ned Colletti probably regrets that move greatly. 

Will anyone still want Julio Lugo?

Lugo’s 2006 decline could mean one of two things for the team that scoops him up.  He could either become one of the biggest steals of the offseason or he could continue his dud-ly ways and become the biggest bust of the Winter.  That seems to be a risk some GM’s are willing to take as Lugo is drawing plenty of interest from the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Padres, Cubs, and Rangers. 

My Prediction: Julio Lugo will sign a 3year deal worth 21Million to join the Toronto Blue Jays. 

Stats Prediction: Julio Lugo won’t quite be a lemon, but he won’t come close to regaining his 2005 form.  I expect something to the tune of .280/.340/.440 with about 14HR and 60RBI, as well as 25SB’s. 

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow’s Profile: Tom Glavine

___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___

Today’s Moves…

The Cubs and White Sox swapped relief pitchers today, with Neal Cotts moving to the Cubbies, for David Aardsma and Carlos Vazquez, who joined the ChiSox. 

The Blue Jays have agreed to terms with Frank Thomas on a 2year deal worth 18Million, plus a club option for 2009.  The deal hinges on a physical which Thomas will soon take.  Should the Big Hurt pass his physical, he will provide an important addition to a Blue Jays lineup which is rapidly gaining ground on the powerhouses of New York and Boston. 

________________________________________________________________

Trivia!

Yesterday’s question was…

What MLB award did Gil Meche win in 2003?

The correct answer…

Gil Meche was the AL Comeback Player of the Year in 2003

Today’s question is…

Julio Lugo’s brother Ruddy Lugo is a reliever for which team?

Nov
15

Joe Girardi

Major League Baseball recently announced the winners of the Manager of the Year award. The AL honor (unsurprisingly) went to Tigers’ skipper Jim Leyland. The NL award was given to Joe Girardi, for bringing the supposedly hopeless Marlins close to a playoff berth. One of the great ironies of baseball this year is that Joe Girardi was fired by the Marlins after the end of the season. That’s right folks, the Florida Marlins fired this year’s Manager of the Year.

It’s a decision that seems to make no sense, if you consider what Girardi was able to accomplish. During the offseason, the Marlins held a firesale, trading everyone from Josh Beckett to Juan Pierre to Luis Castillo to Mike Lowell. Florida acquired prospects in each of these trades and guys like Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla, Anibal Sanchez, Ricky Nolasco, Josh Johnson, and Mike Jacobs were the team’s heroes this season. How many of you had heard of each of those young players before the start of this season?

The Marlins named Joe Girardi manager during the 2005-06 offseason, hiring him to take care of the kids and to create a winning team despite the departure of virtually every capable veteran via trades or free agency. Girardi did all that and more. Now granted, the Marlins had some of top young stars in baseball, such as Hanley Ramirez (your NL Rookie of the Year), Miguel Cabrera (a .339 hitter and Silver Slugger), Dan Uggla (NL Outstanding Rookie), Anibal Sanchez (No-hitter), and Josh Johnson (terrific rookie year) among others, but a team with nearly zero veteran starpower doesn’t go 78-84 without some nifty work from the manager. The Marlins did slip a little toward the end of the year, but you’ve got to give the team and its manager a ton of credit. Joe Girardi certainly didn’t do poorly enough to get fired; in fact, I’d argue he did more than well enough to deserve a raise.

So why did the Marlins fire Joe Girardi?

There were a couple of reasons why the Marlins decided to give Joe Girardi his walking papers, and neither of them had anything to do with his on-field performance. The first one was that team owner Jeffrey Loria did not like Girardi from the get-go and seemed to hate him by the end of the season. The tension between manager and boss may have reached its breaking point in a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on August 6th.

In that game, the Marlins had reliever Taylor Tankersley on the mound in the 7th inning. The home-plate umpire was Larry Vanover, and after Vanover made a couple of questionable calls, Girardi argued without leaving the dugout. Meanwhile, owner Jeffrey Loria, sitting just a few rows behind the dugout, yelled at Vanover. This prompted Girardi to turn around and yell back at Loria. Needless to say that was probably not a smart thing to do with your boss. Girardi was ejected for arguing balls and strikes, but he might have felt more nervous about the impending press conference and meeting with Loria. Girardi wasn’t fired on the spot as some analysts thought he would be, but he was definitely on very, very thin ice. The manager was upbeat after the meeting however, even saying that he planned to manage the Marlins for “a very long time”.

Obviously Girardi overlooked the power of his boss to fire him, and after numerous arguments culminating with the one during the August game against LA, he was a dead man walking. It just goes to show you that fighting with your superiors doesn’t lead to good results, no matter how well you’re doing at work.

But there was a second reason for Girardi’s ouster and that was that several executives and a couple of players accused him of having a communication problem. Clearly Jeffrey Loria agreed with them, because Girardi certainly wasn’t getting through to him. The ability to communicate well with players and the front office brass is just as important for a manager as the ability to guide a team to victory. The Marlins obviously thought that Girardi lacked this quality.

Does Joe Girardi really have communication issues?


The problem is that Girardi does not have communication disabilities and it’s unlikely he ever caused any of the communication breakdowns in the Marlins clubhouse. Need any evidence of that? Well, the Yankees’ YES Network just hired Girardi to be one of their broadcasters. If Girardi has a communication problem, do you think the Yankees would have hired him to a job that requires top-notch communication skills? It’s just another one of the ironies surrounding Joe Girardi this offseason.

Joe Girardi is just the 2nd manager ever to lose his job after winning the Manager of the Year Award. The only other skipper to lose his job after being honored with the award was Davey Johnson, who got pink-slipped by the Orioles in 1997 despite doing a solid job with the team. It just goes to show you that no manager’s job is safe even if the team is doing a great job.

We saw a manager get fired for off-the-field issues twice this offseason (the other time was Ken Macha of the A’s being dismissed despite leading the team to the ALCS) even though his team had a terrific year, and that means in today’s MLB, a skipper’s relationship with the team brass and with the players is more important than his ability to manage effectively.