A group weblog for Oakland A's fans

Saturday, December 06, 2003

GPA and Rumors

There's yet another sabermetric toy about. This time, it's the Gleeman Production Average, or GPA. The formula is (1.8*OBP + SLG) / 4. It balances the scales between OBP and SLG a little more accurately than OPS, and puts it on a similar scale to batting average. So I'm going to play with it while looking at some trade rumors. There are plenty flying about with tomorrow's deadline to offer arbitration looming.

Most of the rumors focus around the A's need for a catcher. Peter Gammons says the A's might give up Joe Blanton to get Paul LoDuca as part of a multi-team trade. I think that's crazy. Look at this:

Player A 2003 GPA: .241
Player B 2003 GPA: .245

Player B looks slightly better than Player A. Player B is Paul LoDuca. Player A is free agent Eddie Perez. Yes, Perez played in a hitters park in Milwaukee, while LoDuca played in a pitchers park in L.A. LoDuca had a great year two years ago, but he's been in decline ever since. I have a hard time seeing that the difference between Perez and LoDuca is worth giving up a hot prospect like Joe Blanton. There would have to be more to the deal than just that, methinks.

A rumor that makes a little more sense from the A's perspective is LoDuca for Jermaine Dye. The A's would have to eat the difference in salaries. But Dye's GPA was only .180 last year, so it's hard to see why the Dodgers would do it. They'd have to hope Dye can return to his career GPA of .267.

The Richie Sexson deal ended one rumor, that the A's were trying to acquire Chad Moeller (GPA .260) from Arizona. Moeller went to Milwaukee instead, where he'll replace Perez.

Jason Kendall (.284) comes up, but it's hard for me to see the A's winning the race to get him. Other teams, like the Cubs, could probably take on more of the $42 million he is owed over the next four years.

My original choice, Benito Santiago (.254), looks like he's headed for Kansas City.

A Seattle paper reported that the A's have offered Mike Cameron (.263) a four-year deal worth $24M. It seems crazy to offer him that after acquiring Kielty and Kotsay, but if the A's can dump Dye, it makes much more sense. According to a Baseball Prospectus chat, Beane thinks Cameron is one of the three best defensive players in baseball. If the A's do get Cameron, Barry Zito with all his fly balls should be one happy fella.

On the pitching front, Peter Gammons reports that the A's offered Keith Foulke a four-year deal worth $22M, while Boston is offering three plus an incentive-based option year, which would total $26M if Foulke hit the incentives. Here's hoping that's close enough to Boston's offer to get him to stay.

If Foulke picks Boston, rumor has it the A's are talking to Eddie Guardado to be his replacement. Guardado's from Stockton, so it would be a homecoming of sorts. But every time I watch him, he makes me nervous, even though I don't root for the Twins. Rare are the closers like Eckersley and Foulke, who cause more calm than not. But Guardado's got good numbers (2003 ERA 2.89, WHIP 0.98), so I suppose he's a good plan B. I believe he's Boston's plan B, too.

Consensus seems to be the A's will offer arbitration to potential free agents Foulke, Miguel Tejada (GPA .269), Ricardo Rincon, but not Jose Guillen (overall GPA: .304, A's only: .255). I'd agree with those decisions, as long as Rincon doesn't get overpaid. If you take Todd Walker out of the equation, Rincon's still very tough on lefties. Tejada won't accept arbitration; he'll sign elsewhere. Same with Foulke. Guillen is superfluous after getting Kotsay and Kielty.

Of the non-free agent arbitration eligibles, I assume they'll offer arbitration to Chad Bradford and Erubiel Durazo (GPA: .276), but I think they might pass on Frank Menechino (.230). They've got Marco Scutaro (.237 as a Met) now, who can probably do the same job for less money, but with more upside.

How will it play out? We shall find out soon.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Curt Young, Pitching Coach

As I was putting away the dishes today, I took a close look at the signatures on my 1989 World Series Champion A's mug. Right there at the top, between Dave Parker and Tony Phillips, is the signature of Curt Young.

I find it kind of strange to think of Curt Young on that team. I associate Young more with the awful teams of the mid-80's than the powerhouse that followed them. He wasn't talented enough to be a staff ace, which those sucktastic mid-80's teams asked of him, and I guess it forever soured my impression of him as a pitcher. When I think of Curt Young, I think of mediocrity.

But looking over his career record, he served as a pretty good fifth starter on a much more talented team; Young made 25-26 starts each year on the World Series teams of 1988-90. He was a prototypical crafty lefthander who relied on changing speeds and location, because his stuff was just not very impressive.

Which I suppose makes him a good candidate to become a pitching coach. If he didn't understand the art of deception that is pitching, he never would have survived long enough to win 69 games in the major leagues. Add to that the fact that he has worked in Rick Peterson's system for some years now, and that he's shown some success at Sacramento, making Young the new pitching coach sounds like a good choice to me.

Monday, December 01, 2003

"Necessary Runs" and Consistent Scoring
There's an interesting thread over here (the college essayist who took his best shot at refuting Moneyball) that you all probably just finished reading.

I think that Mr. Shnrub's idea (that he calls "necessary runs") is interesting but way more complicated (and context-dependent) than it needs to be. Would it be much simpler just to look at "% of games in which this team scored at least N runs?"

A friend of mine, Mike Burger (scroll all the way to "22 August 2003") did something interesting when he was trying to maximize the 2003 Detroit Tigers' win-loss record based on a different distribution of their game-by-game runs scored and runs allowed.

I wonder whether it might be semi-valid to sort a team's runs scored by game (in descending order) and runs allowed by game (in descending order), and construct a hypothetical record from that. This would result in a lot of 0-0 "ties" and 1-1 "ties" and 2-2 "ties", but if you recorded shutouts more frequently than falling victim to them; if you scored at least 2 runs more frequently than you allowed at least two runs; if you scored at least 3 runs, 4 runs, 5 runs, etc.--then those would go into the books as wins.

Just an idea that I'll pursue some other rainy afternoon when I have more time on my hands than now. Anyone with a surfeit of time and/or a convenient way to crunch the numbers, feel free to take this and run with it.

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