The Futility Infielder

A Baseball Journal by Jay Jaffe I'm a baseball fan living in New York City. In between long tirades about the New York Yankees and the national pastime in general, I'm a graphic designer.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

 

Preview Redux

The SportsIllustrated.com version of my NLCS Preview is up now, complete with, like, three grammatical corrections even. Talk about a value add. I actually had no idea how long the piece was, word-count-wise, but ESPN's Rob Neyer counted it up in the service of giving me a nice shoutout in a blog entry($) today: 5,408 words. Dunno if that includes all those little numbers, but damn, I outdid myself. Anyway, here's Rob:
In my last post, I picked the Phillies to beat the Dodgers.

Then I read about the Diamond Mind simulation, in which the series was played 2,000 times and the Dodgers won 62 percent of them. Then I read Jay Jaffe's in-depth (5,408 words!) analysis of the series and learned some things I didn't already know.

For one thing, the Phillies depend on home runs for their offensive punch. Actually, I knew that already. What I didn't know is that the Dodgers are exceptionally skilled at preventing home runs, giving up only 123 all season, fewest in the majors. And it's across the board. All three of their top starting pitchers gave up only 13 or 14 homers this year. The Phillies won't find a soft underbelly until Game 4, when they face Greg Maddux or Clayton Kershaw; Maddux gave up 21 homers in 194 innings this season, Kershaw 11 in 108.

...Meanwhile, the Phillies' top two starters -- Cole Hamels and Jamie Moyer -- are lefties. Who do the Dodgers want to face?

Lefties.
I'll spare you the odd self-referentiality of quoting him quoting me on the Dodgers' lefty splits, and instead cut to the end of the piece. Referring to the headline of his previous post, he closes with the following: "The Dodgers are the trendy pick, and the Phillies are the better team. But sometimes being better isn't good enough. There seem to be some pretty good reasons for Jaffe to pick the Dodgers in six, and for Diamond Mind to make the Dodgers overwhelming favorites."

Very cool.

Meanwhile, there were plenty of Dodger-flavored questions in my chat at BP today, and also some good ones on the Brewers and on pitching prospects:
pestevez (Miami): Do you see Dewitt as a semi long term answer at 2B for the Dodgers? I don't recall their having an upcoming 2B in the system.

JJ: Gonna double up this question with one my friend Nick keeps trying to submit: "Who is the real Furcal? The .814 OPS from 2006? The .688 in 2007? Should this year's injury issues give the Dodgers pause about resigning him?"

[Rafael] Furcal is a fantastic, MVP-caliber player when healthy, which is about two months a year lately. I think his injury should definitely make the Dodgers think twice about signing him. I'm not opposed to it (perhaps overly jazzed about what he's shown in the last three games) but if they do I'd like to see another shorter-term deal (3 years max) with some incentive clauses or vesting options in there.

As for [Blake] DeWitt, the Dodgers have him, Chin-Lung Hu and hopefully Tony Abreu as up-and-comers, and as I said in last week's roundtable, that leaves them many options to fill their infield in a post-Kent, post-Blake (and post-LaRoche) world. It's too obvious for them to try to let all of those young 'uns have jobs, so they're likely to sign/acquire/retain at least one of the Furcal/Kent/Blake lot and then let the others battle it out for two positions.

I'm not entirely convinced DeWitt's a good enough fielder at 2B. I'm also not convinced his bat can carry 3B yet. I think the chances of one of those two coming through in the next couple years is decent, but I don't know which one, and I'm not sure the Dodgers do either.

• • •

HRFastness (MKE): So, if your Doug Melvin, are you trading JJ? Moving him to 2B and Weeks to Center? Essentially, the question is this: If you're Dough Melvin, what trades and positional moves are you making for the Brewers this winter?

JJ: I'd think about moving Hardy to 2B or 3B to accommodate Escobar (or maybe he moves, I don't know without talking to somebody more knowledgeable about his defense), I'd think about moving Weeks to CF or another team.

I think Prince Fielder may be a more tradable/replaceable commodity than Hardy. I know one of the big media wags proposed a Fielder/Matt Cain swap, which makes sense given the Brewers' need for pitching in a post-Sheets, post-Sabathia world. The Brewers would hear about it from their fans, though.

• • •

mattymatty (Philly): Going into this season Phil Hughes and Clay Buchholz were widely considered to be two of the best young pitchers in the game. Both had what might kindly be termed lost seasons. Were we wrong to think they were so good? What do you think about them going forward? Thanks!

JJ: As we like to say around these parts: TNSTAAPP. There's no such thing as a pitching prospect, because pitchers don't develop in orderly fashion. Injuries happen, mechanical flaws manifest themselves, crises of confidence occur, hitters adjust, and suddenly guys don't look like the ones in the catalog.

Both Hughes and Buchholz had lost years, but it's way too early to give up on them given the promise they've shown and the health of their arms. Most pitchers who are anointed top prospects have faced little adversity over the course of their careers to get to that point - they've dominated just about every level. Figuring out how to cope with failure, adversity and opponents' adjustments is all part of the learning curve, and some guys take longer to do that than others.
As usual, there's plenty more where that came from -- each of those topics had at least one follow-up in the chat, but rather than spoil the fun here, please go read for yourself.

Go Dodgers!

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