Friday, January 4, 2008

Phase 1: White Sox Make Trade. Phase 2: ?

Phase 3: Jay Mariotti gets made fun of here.

Acknowledged, people are writing about far more interesting and mainstream things around now. But "journalists" just can't write these things and get away with them! I'm sorry! Jaybird, tell us, using as much anti-Sox spin as possible, why they got burned by Billy Beane in the Swisher deal?

Did Beane snooker Williams again?

Hot damn, Hawkeroo. We'd better rush down to beautiful U.S. Cellular Field before all the 2008 tickets are gobbled up. The White Sox just traded for a .262 hitter with shrinking power numbers who no longer was deemed necessary by Oakland's esteemed Billy Beane, never a good sign.


Obligatory immature reference to an increasingly senile broadcaster aside, Jay's one-track mind and ignorance pervades this paragraph. Let's just see how.....

The first, and most offensive thing is that Jay sums up Swisher as a ".262 hitter". Swisher drew 100 walks last year, dumbass. Who cares if he's hitting .262 when he on-bases (yes, that's a verb) .381?

"Shrinking power numbers" implies that there is some sort of a multi-year trend. Swisher has none. Here are 2B/HR/SLG stats for the past 3 years.

2005: 32/21/.446
2006: 24/35/.493
2007: 36/22/.455

So Swisher had a bit of a power outage in 2007. That isn't evidence of "shrinking power numbers". He's going to be 27 next year and playing in a hitter's park.

And thirdly, Jay, perhaps Swisher was no longer deemed necessary to Billy Beane because the A's are rebuilding! Dan Haren was traded away too....is he "unnecessary" to Beane as well? By the time the A's have a chance to be good again, Swisher will be fairly expensive, as his contract is back-loaded and the A's don't have shovels full of cash to hand out. There was little chance he was going to play out his contract on that team one way or the other.

But....you already thought about these things, right? Is it even the slightest bit unfair for me to claim that you couldn't have analyzed this worse?

Hate to be cynical about Ken Williams' belated offseason attempt to redeem himself, but acquiring Nick Swisher only assures the Sox of one thing: They're a little better than the Kansas City Royals.

It also assures them that Jerry Owens, one of the sorriest excuses for a major league player to luck into playing 90 games in a season, will not be starting.

As an auxiliary addition, the shaggy-haired outfielder might be a clever idea. But as a centerpiece of a disappointing winter, he's the booby prize after Williams lost big targets Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera to real American League contenders in Anaheim and Detroit.

Stop. The. Fucking. Presses.

Jay Mariotti has just suggested that Nick Swisher is somehow worse than Torii Hunter.

Jay Mariotti has just suggested that Nick Swisher is somehow worse than Torii Hunter.

Jay Mariotti has just suggested that Nick Swisher is somehow worse than Torii Hunter.

I didn't even copy and paste that. I had to type it 3 times. Jay has endowed me with the right to go statistical apeshit.

Swisher put up his best offensive season last year, with an EqA of .291. He's 27 this year. He's an OBP machine.

Torii Hunter has never had higher than a .282 EqA. He has never OBPed above the league average. He's 32 this year. He's an overrated defensive talent, as he was 7th/10 in the AL in zone rating for CFs last year, while his FRAAs are unimpressive on the whole.

Plus, look at the contracts. Nick Swisher is owed $3.5M, $5.3M, $6.75M, and $9M over the next four years respectively, with a 10.25M option for 2012. Hunter's proposed deal from the Sox was for $15M a season for those 5 years.

Damn, Kenny Williams sure whiffed on this one, huh?

When the Sox have three potential craters in their starting rotation, why trade the supposedly coveted lefty Gio Gonzalez -- for the second time, by the way -- for a player whose home-run production dropped from 35 to 22?

Because for some reason, Kenny Williams thinks he's in win-now mode, and Gio was not in the plans to fill one of those craters in 2008.

I absolutely love the 35-22 homerun cherrypick stat. Doubles went up from 24 to 36! OBP went up from .372 to .381! Batting average up from .254 to .262! Strikeouts down from 152 to 131! EqA slightly increased!

Sure, Swisher gets on base, but he's much more a complimentary cog than a difference-maker.

I love the "Swisher gets on base, but" clause. Like getting on base isn't the single most important thing for a hitter to do. It's like Jay's dismissing it as meaningless. And seriously, what's the cutoff between "complimentary cog" and "difference maker" in your world Jay? How does Torii Hunter fit into the latter while Swisher fits into the former? Can you explain that? Or is that more generic dumbass sportswriter speak?

In a murderous division, the Sox have no right to even think about competing against Cleveland and Detroit when they've done little more than get Swisher and shortstop Orlando Cabrera.

I agree here. The White Sox have a question mark and two losers making 60% of their starts. Therefore, they will not be a threat to win the division this year. However, their offense will be very good, and the bullpen is likely to rebound. Swisher is a good, relatively young, relatively cheap long-term solution for the outfield, so is the lack of likely 2008 success really a reason to damn Williams for making this move?

Williams, delusional as ever, is talking about a World Series title.

He has to. It's his job to, even if he doesn't believe it.

I'd never suggest the Sox, firmly the distant No. 2 baseball team again in the nation's third-largest market, slip back into the old Kids Can Play mode. But it's odd to give up three prospects to a shark like Beane, who knows a good young pitcher when he sees one.

That's a gross oversimplification of Beane. Beane is among the best judges of such talent, but there's nothing to say he's infallible or something. He's made his mistakes, and he's taking an educated chance on these prospects. He doesn't know for sure they'll pan out.

If Gonzalez and/or righthander Fautino De Los Santos pan out, along with outfielder Ryan Sweeney, Williams never will hear the end of it.

Ryan Sweeney has about a 2% chance of ever being as good as Nick Swisher. The pitchers will have to be damn good for anyone informed to criticize Williams heavily for this trade. Note I said "informed". I still expect you to criticize, Jay.

Anyone who read the best-seller, "Moneyball," knows how Beane has snookered Williams in the past. And that embarrassment vaguely involved Swisher, making me wonder if Williams is trying to exact revenge on Beane six years later.

What the fuck are you talking about? That embarrassment involved things like Chad Bradford, Ray Durham, Joe Blanton, and Royce Ring. It had nothing to do with Nick Swisher, except that Beane drafted him in the same year as the events of the book. I am staring directly at the book and quoting, pages 107-108.

"Billy's phone rings. It's Kenny Williams again. Williams is of no current interest to Billy. Nothing the White Sox will do will alter Billy's chances of getting Swisher."

The rest of Mariotti's article is just a bunch of Moneyball quotes and a basic plot summary. If I had to guess, I'd say this was the first time he's opened the book.

It's official, the White Sox cannot make a move that Mariotti won't slam. At a certain point, writing becomes so spun by personal grudges and established personalities that truth completely fades out of it. Jay is one such writer. Anyone who still takes anything he says to be true would do well to be reminded of this article.

24 comments:

larry b said...

This is one of his most flagrant pieces since we started this stupid blog. I just don't think there's a light at the end of this tunnel.

Chris W said...

to be fair, this deal is pretty bad even if Gio and DLS don't pan out, since they were our only salvageable trade-bait.

Now if we need to go after someone all we really have, in terms of expendable trade bait, is Konerko, Dye (who has a no-trade), Broadway, Egbert, Owens, and Anderson.

Not pretty.

pnoles said...

Wrong, Chris. This deal is not "pretty bad" for the White Sox. The only way that this can hurt them is if the prospects pan out. I think you're really underrating what Kenny Williams picked up here. Swisher is locked up for 4-5 years at below-market rates, and he is a very good player. I don't understand why you want trade bait so much when Swisher is exactly the type of player for which you use your trade bait. He's miles better than Torii Hunter.

Also the Sox can and should still trade one year of each Joe Crede and Juan Uribe.

Chris W said...

No. I'm not saying it's bad because you shouldn't trade prospects.

I'm saying it's bad because it cripples us from a trade standpoint.

We have no one of value to trade now who I would feel comfortable giving up (i.e. not Danks, Burly, Fields, or Jenks--who are the only other players with trade value) but Konerko.

And Konerko's trade value is debatable.

Broadway and Egbert are now our top prospects after we trade our two top prospects for a guy who doesn't really fill a need (we traded for THE Carlos Quentin already, and Swisher plays a horrible CF).

I like Swisher and am glad we have him (especially if we can ship Konerko for, say, Figgins)...but this is a very dangerous trade because we officially are devoid of prospects to trade for talent....

Anonymous said...

I thought the only thing that mattered was Swisher's homerun production since the beginning of July 2006?

Chris W said...

roflcopter!

PS pnoles, I'm pretty stoked about this supposed deal that has kendrick and ERVIN santana (as well as a couple prospects I don't know off the top of my head) coming to the Sox for Pauleeeeee and Crede

pnoles said...

LOL @ ANONYMOUS

Chris I'm still a little confused about your problem with this. What would be the advantage of having players to trade? So the ChiSox could trade them for good players? Like Nick Swisher?

And Swisher absolutely fills a need, no question. CF is the PRIMARY need for the White Sox, and Swisher fills it very well, thank you. Williams has stated that Swisher's playing time will be primarily in center. And if you're worried about defense, you shouldn't feel any better about sticking Jerry Owens and his -11 FRAA out there than Swisher.

Jerry Owens is so awful it's unspeakable.

That deal involving Kendrick/Santana sounds intriguing. Just how badly do they want Gavin Floyd out of the rotation? Is Paulie's regression likely to be sustainable? Is one of those prospects you've never heard of a shortstop?

My problem with this is that if Konerko is traded, Sox fans are going to be in an uproar....in reality, he's a bit above average for a first baseman, but nothing more.

Chris W said...

To answer your questions one at a time:

1.) The advantage of having players to trade is to acquire players you need when you need them.

2.) Yes

3.) Like Nick Swisher, only they would theoretically address an actual position of weakness. Swisher is a corner OF. His CF is not as bad as Owens, but is barely better than Mackowiack's.

4.)I should hope they want Floyd out of the rotation pretty badly. Or at least have a contingency. Yes Floyd had a nice Sept and Santana had an awful 07, but I still would feel more confident with Santana in to begin the season and Floyd as a replacement possibility.

5.) I think Konerko is one of the most inconsistent and overrated players I've ever seen play for the White Sox, so my opinion on this matter might be skewed.

6.) Yes. It's a guy named Sean rodriguez, but that deal looks killed with the prospects.

7.) (and I know this isn't a question). I don't give a shit what the fans say. Luckily, I'm out of the range of WSCR and frankly, I'm sick of all the Konerko dicklicking.

He's a douchebag for a number of reasons, not the least of which is his willingness to throw his teammates under the bus.

Andrew said...

I like when Marriotti rips Kenny Williams for trading prospects, but never once offers even anecdotal bullshit evidence of why said prospects were keepers. Not even a simple nod like "Gio Gonzalez, who led the Southern League in strikeouts last year."

Andrew said...

pnoles - Have you ever watched Nick Swisher play the OF? I have no idea how in God's name you can say he'll be better than ANYONE in CF.

larry b said...

Pwnage. Nick Swisher, go back to having a hot wife and weird facial hair. With the exception of pnoles, no one here wants your shitty CF defense.

pnoles said...

andrew - You're right....I know he'll play a bad CF. He isn't significantly, if at all worse than Owens, however. I watched Owens play CF dozens of times last season.....he takes awful routes to the ball and can't seem to figure out whether it's been hit right at him or over him until it's too late. Swisher may be a terrible defensive option for center, but the guy he's replacing isn't much better.

Chris W said...

But, see, CF was a huge problem in 2007 (and the difference between the playoffs in 2006).

That's like if we had replaced Uribe not with Cabrera, but with a guy who could hit .250.

Sure that would be slightly better than Uribe, but it would still be lousy.

Having said that, if we could ship Konerko for something we DO need (i.e. not another corner OF) then this Swisher deal immediately becomes an awesome deal as Swisher is a more than capable replacement for Konerko, and allows us to fill a hole (like 2B, CF, leadoff, or some combination thereof). And if we get, say, Ervin Santana, BONUS!

Chris W said...

ps: I don't get too much into these kind of peripheral things, but last time we made an unpopular trade for a young dude with a super hot wife it was Scott Podsednik-Dergan and we won da world series!

pnoles said...

Chris, I think you're seriously underrating what a difference it makes when you put a guy with a power bat, high on-base capabilities and lousy defense into center field to replace a guy with no power, little on-base capabilities, and lousy defense.

Also, your "replacing Uribe with a guy who can hit .250" comparison holds absolutely no water. You're making it sound like Nick Swisher is somehow worse than Orlando Cabrera. Swisher is way better. Literally the only thing wrong with Swisher's offensive skillset is the low batting average--you're putting way too much weight on that.

Swisher is a natural corner outfielder, but shifting him to center and letting Quentin start in left maximizes the utility of the starting White Sox players. Swisher's defensive limitations in center are more than compensated for by filling the weak offensive position (CF) with a formidable bat, especially considering the lack of strong defensive alternatives.

Look again at Swisher's OBPs and EqAs and tell me again if you feel he's only a slight upgrade over Owens. I'd say (a little conservatively) it's about a 6 win difference.

Chris W said...

You remember in 2006 when we spent a lot of the season with a guy who was a good hitter and a horrible fielder in CF?

Rob Mackowiack ring a bell?

I'm not comparing Swisher and Cabrera. I'm comparing the fact that the problem in CF has not been offense. It's been defense.

You don't need hitting in CF. You need defense. And although I think Rowand was an overrated defensive CF, I think at the very least he was a consistent source of adequate CF defense, something we haven't had since Ozzie decided to handcuff Anderson a couple months into 2006.

Swisher doesn't even BEGIN to address this problem.

We need a real CF or else we're never going to get the pitching performances we got in 2005, and the fact of the matter is, with the rotation we have this year, we need to put as good a defense behind the pitchers as we can.

We have significantly downgraded 2B and 3B defense, while only marginally upgrading SS's defense (if Cabrera can even really be considered a defensive upgrade over Uribe). Paulie and Dye are at best status quo and though I find it hard to believe THE Carlos Quentin could possibly be worse than Scotty Pods, the general outlook, with Swisher in CF, is another season of awful defense behind an already shaking pitching staff.

This is bad news, and until Konerko is gone, forcing Anderson (or another capable CF) to play CF in 2008, we will be doomed to remain lousy.

pnoles said...

Rob Mackowiak was not a "good hitter" in 2006. He was a very average hitter.

Rob Mackowiak 2006: .290/.365/.404
EqA: .259

Nick Swisher career EqA: .281
Nick Swisher 2007 EqA: .291
Nick Swisher 2008 season age: 27

Those two men are not, figuratively speaking, in the same league. Defense matters, but the good bat/poor glove guy is almost always going to be more valuable than the average bat/great glove guy. Offense is 50% of baseball. Defense is whatever part of the remaining 50% that isn't assigned to pitching. And I think everyone understands that pitching makes more of a difference than the defense behind it.

Not having a natural CF will hurt the White Sox, but not as much as allowing weak bats like Owens, Anderson, or even Ozuna into the starting lineup.

3B defense downgrade is only assuming Crede isn't on the team come April.

2B defense downgrade - no. Not possible. He doesn't get the publicity for it, but Iguchi is one of the absolute worst 2nd basemen in baseball. I don't have data for 2007, but in 2006, Iguchi was involved in the fewest double plays per inning of any starting 2nd baseman in baseball. The Sox pitchers in 2006 were ground-ball oriented, and there's no convincing me that Uribe or Crede, both very good defenders, were the problem. Iguchi probably costed the Sox a win or so by making fewer possible plays. But that's just it.....Iguchi was possibly the worst defensive 2B in baseball that year, and it only really costed the Sox about a win. Similarly, it's likely Swisher's defense could only really cost the Sox one or two wins. The bat will produce much more than that.

Also....most fielding metrics show that in recent years, Uribe has been a better defensive shortstop than Cabrera.

Chris W said...

The difference between having a very good defensive CF and ahorrible defensive CF can be worth ~20 EQA points.

Seriously.

This is a serious area of concern.

Clearly Swisher is better than Owens or Mackowiack. Because of his offense, he may even be a marginally better CF option than Brian Anderson.

This does not mean he is an acceptable option for CF.

Swisher is a great young hitter, and at the plate, he will immediately become our 4th or 5th best hitter--if not even better than that.

That doesn't mean we should put him in CF and that doesn't mean trading the entirety of our trade bait minus Konerko for him was a good idea.

pnoles said...

Swisher is a significantly better CF option than Brian Anderson. If Anderson could EqA .259 like Mackowiak did in 2006, then the two options become comparable. Swisher's bat becomes more valuable playing him at a position where traditionally, hitters don't do so hot. If he's in left, Carlos Quentin can't play. If he's at first base due to a Konerko trade, he's probably league average in terms of VORP.

You're right, the difference between an amazing defensive CF and a horrible defensive CF can definitely be worth 20 EqA points. Problem is, we don't have any amazing defensive CFs that can come close to EqA-ing 20 points less than Swisher. Players like that just don't become available so easily. Melky Cabrera is the closest thing to "on the market" for that category, and he's still Santana bait. I guess Coco Crisp wouldn't have been a terrible option.....though Swisher's worth close to 30 more runs on offense. I was openly rooting for Williams to sign Mike Cameron before this deal, which wouldn't have been bad either. Given Swisher's below-market salary for the next 4-5 years and the fact that he will, in fact, be in White Sox control for 4-5 years, I'm probably as (if not more) satisfied by the trade for Swisher than I would have been by a trade for Crisp or signing of Cameron.

Chris W said...

Brian Anderson is one of the best defensive CF's in baseball.

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=5200

pnoles said...

I know he's one of the best defensive CFs in baseball. In 2006, Crede and Uribe were great, but Branderson was by far the best defensive player on the team. What I was saying that if Branderson could EqA .259, then there could be a debate on whether he or Swisher should be starting in CF.

Read the article you send me again. Halfway through the season, Branderson was worth a whopping 1.1 WARP even though his VORP was -8.8 halfway through the season. This means they had him pegged for a 2.2 WARP at the end of the year. 2.2 WARP for the season is not good. That WARP would have probably been somewhere between 6 and 7 if he could just EqA league average.

Looking back at Anderson's 2006, he finished with 1.6 WARP and a .212 EqA. Swisher's WARP was a 5.6, but that was playing mostly first base and left field. If his bat shifts to center for all the games he's played, his VORP gets a significant boost, because replacement center fielders hit worse than replacement left fielders and first basemen. Defensively, he plays terrible, but the bat becomes that much more valuable. Swisher probably would have been worth between 6 and 7 wins last year if he started in center (using Grady Sizemore as a basis of comparison: .289 EqA, -7 FRAA, 6.3 WARP) I'd estimate that this is what Anderson would be worth if he was good enough to EqA .259. But he's not.

Chris W said...

You're missing the point.

We need a good defensive CF, not a guy who's as good as a good defensive CF who can EQA .259.

We need a good defensive CF who can EQA .280, not a shitty defensive CF who can EQA .280.

I know there's not a lot of good defensive CF's who can EQA .280, but that doesn't mean you go out and acquire a shitty defensive CF who can EQA .280 at the expense of ALL FUTURE POTENTIAL TRADES FOR ACTUAL AREAS OF NEED (i.e.: good defensive CF, 2B, leadoff, SP, RP)

pnoles said...

Chris - you're overrating the necessity of having a "good defensive CF". You can be good enough at offense to compensate for poor defense, even at a key defensive position

Carlos Guillen did it for the Tigers.

Alex Rodriguez has been doing it for the Yankees.

Ryan Braun did it this year for the Brewers.

If you're trying to tell me that the Tigers would have been better off with Adam Everett at short, or that the Yankees/Brewers would have been better off with Joe Crede or Brandon Inge playing 3rd, you're absolutely off your rocker.

Bad defensive players are more than acceptable to have in your lineup, even in CF. This is because position player defense is like 10% of baseball, if that (see also: Ramirez, Manny).

Also, Swisher is about exactly what those three prospects were worth. You're trying to tell me that these three guys could have somehow turned into a good defensive CF, good 2B, good leadoff hitter (a concept that is completely irrelevant), good SP, or good RP?

These are three PROSPECTS, Chris, and none of them are like awesome prospects either. No one is gonna give us a sure thing (proven major leaguer) for one of these guys)

Also: The bullpen is not a need. There was no logical explanation for why MacDougal floundered last year, so he'll probably rebound. Thornton, due to his style, is destined to be inconsistent, so he COULD be the guy we saw in 2006 next year (likely better than 2007, anyway). Jenks is a very good closer. Wasserman looked promising in September last year. Linebrink was signed.

Also: The concept of a "leadoff hitter" is bogus. The Sox would be better off just leading off with Orlando Cabrera than trading something of value for Chone Figgins because of ZOMG FAST!!! Kevin Youkilis led off for the Red Sox in 2006. He stole 5 bases. He was also one of the top 5 leadoff hitters in baseball.

Swisher's defense in center would cost the Sox like 1.5 wins. That's it. Think about where the balls are hit in a baseball game. How often is a ball hit such that a good defensive CF would make the play and a bad one wouldn't? Not very. Now think how often a play like that is actually the difference in a game (i.e. a ball hit to the fringe of that CF's zone, in a specific situation in a close game).

The far more serious concern is getting Gavin Floyd out of the rotation. Replacing that guy with someone ridiculously average, like Jeff Suppan, would boost the Sox by 7-8 wins, no problem.

Did you even stop to ask yourself why having a good defensive CF was so important? How big does that show up in the W/L columns? Don't believe everything the broadcasters tell you.

pnoles said...

In response to the post you never made, Chris, Brian Roberts is way worse than Nick Swisher, and there's a chance that Sean Marshall is already better than any player we gave to the A's ever will be. A chance.