The Mockingbird

Test Pattern

with 13 comments

We’re still here, honest. And as soon as anything remotely interesting or concrete happens this offseason (which will start with the FA frenzy tomorrow), the ‘Bird will be all over it. It’s just hard to write with the shakes of advanced baseball withdrawl and while I know that bloggers live by the hot stove, I am trying to kick the habit as it is the incredibly unsatisfying but still highly addictive methadone of my baseball addiction.

But without the pressing need (or possibility) to pump out copy to a significant and/or paying audience, It’s kind of satisfying to be able to maintain certain standards instead of being forced to debase ourselves by writing full-page pieces about such critical pressing issues as the Jays lack of a backup catcher. Or dragging out Barry Bonds again. Good god, even the mighty Stoeten has been reduced to a shade of his former self, forced to reading tea leaves daily about the Manny pipe dream.

There is going to be one semi-original thought in the post though, and that’s about Lyle Overbay, who according to Jeff Blair on the Fan, was being aggressively shopped leading up to the FA deadline – even to the point of the Jays offering to pay some of his salary over the next two years. Unless there’s already a idea in place to replace him with someone huge, I think that’s just another silly, crowd-pleasing move.

Yes, the Jays had no HR pop last year and Overbay isn’t your traditional 1B masher. But for a team that is strapped for cash, trying to improve on an essentially average .777 OPS by first paying another team to free his spot and then wading into the free agent market is a terribly inefficient way to spend money (there’s this fascinating book called Moneyball that’s all about this – unfortunately there also seems to be another one with the exact same title that’s only about not bunting and stealing that everyone seems to have read instead). There were much bigger problems than Lyle last year, and there are much bigger ones to throw money at this offeason.

What about the “starting” SS with a .697 OPS? What about finding a pitcher other than Halladay who has pitched a full season in the majors that the team can start the season with? Once those slam dunk opportunities to upgrade have been taken care of and there’s still money to burn, great, then go into tweak mode and try to swing the incredibly marginal upgrade that is Overbay to someone like Raul Ibanez, or make the likely to be very expensive and/or very risky move for a guy who puts up huge enough numbers to make a real impact.

I think JP is taken with the idea because he really is prepared to give Marco Scutaro the starting job (for the first time in his life after a late-career resurgence and miracle season *cough* Zaun *cough* Stairs *cough* McDonald), and throwing raw young arms into the fire of the rotation has been the only thing that has really worked out for him in years. So that leaves pumping whatever money there is into a gigantic bat to fit into 1B/DH/LF with Lind and Snider.

It’ll be a great PR move because it “goes right after” the main problem of last year, but just like spending 55 million bucks on the most highly overrated position in the game in a knee-jerk reaction to the Miguel Batista closer experience, if JP forgets that the whole reason he pushed hard for Overbay in the first place was that he is more valuable than he looks to the HR-duhhhh-RBI crowd and wastes money just to get him off the team, it will go against the first principles of SABR/Moneyball dogma and thus be punished accordingly. Smite him (and sadly, us), Lord James!


Written by halejon

November 13, 2008 at 3:58 pm

Posted in Seriousness

13 Responses

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  1. Hear, hear! When your starting rotation looks like this:

    Roy Halladay
    Jesse Litsch
    Dustin McGowan (shoulder surgery July ’08)
    Casey Janssen (shoulder surgery March ’08)
    David Purcey

    There are much more pressing concers then minor upgrades at DH/1B. If we start the season with one of Romero or Cecil in the rotation, it’ll be another year without any realistic shot at making the playoffs.


    November 13, 2008 at 6:22 pm

  2. J.P. has strayed from his moneyball roots for years now. 100% with you on the Overbay situation. HR power would be nice but if he’s platooned than 1st base can be a position that doesn’t kill the Jays.

    Many of the moves are, as you say, crowd pleasers and press conference fodder. Everyone saw the Rolen trade as such, trading for a declining player with extra years on his contract vs Glaus.

    susan cassell

    November 14, 2008 at 10:49 am

  3. We’re with you on the Overbay trade front. I just ran some numbers and an Overbay/Bautista combo is superior in production to Vernon Wells (at least in terms of out%).

    matthias @ mopupduty

    November 14, 2008 at 5:16 pm

  4. I don’t necessarily disagree with any of what you wrote, except that trading Overbay is probably a good idea (provided that not too much salary is eaten or if salary is eaten, a player comes back who can help the team). I believe this for a couple of reasons: Overbay’s OPS is below average for his position. A look at Overbay’s list of comps reveals something striking – they all fell off a cliff and were out of the game in their early 30s. Overbay’s comps have looked liked this for a while. Overbay is much more likely to be a bad deal over the next two years than a good one. As the first moneyballer said, “It is better to trade a player a year too early than a year too late”.
    Lastly, trading Overbay makes a lot of sense if JP wants to get both Lind and Snider in the lineup on opening day. I hope he does. Snider is a special case, give him LF and “Longoria” him with a long-term contract. Scratch all the above if JP eats the entire Overbay salary (or more than half even).

    Christopher Taylor

    November 15, 2008 at 10:16 am

  5. I love it…the Jays have gone from an unbelievable rotation to that utter, utter, joke – and you STILL had to include a pitcher that might not be ready for opening day and a guy who has never started a major league game in his life.

    I actually thought the Rolen trade was OK – as long as the rave reviews the doctors were giving meant “it’s different this time and now it’s really, truly, fixed for good” as opposed to “well, it looks good again but then we thought we fixed it last time as well”. I’m not sure the former really exists for shoulder injuries, but evidently it was the latter. Someone roll up that medical opinion in a carpet along with Sirotka’s. !@#$@#$@#!!


    November 15, 2008 at 10:26 am

  6. Why do the Jays need to get rid of Overbay to get Lind and Snider in? The way I see it, they’re in LF/DH right now and the only question is do you try to upgrade 1B.

    I’m with you on the potential decline – not just the comps which are kinda stupid sometimes but he’s got “old player skills” anyway which tend to age badly.

    But the other hand, I kinda buy his broken hand was just starting to come back at the end of last season so maybe he’s at low value right now – I would bet on rather than against him being in the .800’s next season. And if he did that it’s not a bad deal at all. Better than the FA market and much better than what Ibanez is asking for plus what we’d have to eat to switch horses in mid-stream.

    Longoriaing Snider should be a no-brainer if young players are still into being rooked like that. JP’s probably out of that game after Wells/Hinske though. ARGH.


    November 15, 2008 at 10:39 am

  7. halejon, who’s the guy who never started a major league game in his life in that rotation?


    November 16, 2008 at 4:22 pm

  8. You know, it’s true what they say about blogs. Without access to the clubhouse minor details like a 17-start audition just tend to fall through the cracks. At least I managed to not completely embarrass myself in the actual post by saying ‘a full season’.


    November 16, 2008 at 7:42 pm

  9. The tRA+es of those starters in their last seasons starting were 134, 103, 108, 104, and 97 respectively. Even if McGowan doesn’t repeat his 124 from 2007, that’s an above-average AL rotation independent of defense, and ours is good.


    November 16, 2008 at 9:49 pm

  10. I agree with Torgen – the problem with that rotation is the uncertainty in the health of McGowan and Janssen, not the quality of the arms before two of them underwent labrum surgery. If somehow both Casey and Dustin are healthy at or near the beginning of the season (unlikely), I don’t think that’s a bad rotation. The problem is, how can you count on that, without an insurance plan, and still say you’re serious about competing?


    November 17, 2008 at 11:17 am

  11. My insurance plan would be Randy Johnson. Due to his age and the terrible job the DBacks defense did converting his balls in play into outs (O-xO of -28) he should be pretty cheap, but he had a tRA+ of 130 last year. Figure that goes down to 120ish in the AL, and he’s almost as good as AJ’s career year at half the price and no multi-year commitment.


    November 17, 2008 at 6:54 pm

  12. only problem with Ranjo (I normally hate this nickname formulation but in this case I like it because it rhymes with banjo, which Johnson looks like he plays in his spare time) is that he’s said he only wants to play for a contender. If that’s really his goal, he shouldn’t have trouble finding one, and I’m not sure that we qualify. I would really like to make him a competitive offer though.


    November 17, 2008 at 9:54 pm

  13. Moving Overbay would please the crowd that calls Wilner, but I don’t know that that crowd is representative of the crowd generally (which, as far as I’m aware, doesn’t come out in any more significant numbers when Halladay is pitching than when anyone else is pitching, so how much does it really care about individual players?).

    Cincinnatus C.

    November 18, 2008 at 4:44 pm

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