Tag Archives: Russell Martin

DONATE NOW AND GET A BOBBLEHEAD (read post)

OK, here’s the deal.
I have bobbleheads.  I want you to donate to the kickstarter (see here) to help fund our scientific study in subtle racism.  We’re 400 dollars short of our goal.  Here’s what we’re gonna do.

If you donate 35 dollars, you get the manuscript, a thank you in the publication and your choice of a bobblehead from the list below. If you’ve already donated at least 20 dollars, please donate an additional 30 dollars.

After you donate, send a message to me via kickstarter saying “My name is John Doe, my address is 123 Fake Street, Amhurst, Mass., 12345, and I’d like the James Loney bobblehead.” THIS IS ON A FIRST COME FIRST SERVE BASIS and I’ll be updating the list as bobbleheads are claimed.

Your bobbleheads:

-Andre Ethier

-James Loney x3

-Russell Martin

-PIRATES GREAT Kip Wells

Oliver Perez, Pirates

-Kevin Stevens, Pittsburgh Penguins

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Filed under MLB, MLB history, Scorekeeping

Can Dodgers afford to be patient with Loney?

I’m not gonna put a pretty picture on this.  James Loney put up a sub-.400 slugging percentage last season.

To put that into perspective, there have been 216 seasons of first basemen with more than 502 plate appearances between 2000 and 2009.  The median slugging percentage is .500.  Ryan Garko, despite being such a sub-par hitter for the position, has put up a better SLG% every year of his career than Loney put up last year. Only 16 first basemen since 2000 have had a sub-.400 slugging that (min. 502 AB), Loney and Aubrey Huff were the two to do it in 2009.  Loney did it in the second-most plate appearances (651), with Darin Erstad’s horrendous .371 slugging in 663 plate appearances in 2005 beating him.

Yes, Loney was above average compared to the rest of the league last year  But he was very bad given his position.  In fact, he was the second-worst offensive 1B last year, only ahead of Huff.  Even though he had an above-average on-base percentage for the league, 14 every day starting first basemen (out of 23) had a better on-base percentage.  Even in the one thing that gives him offensive value, he’s below league average for the position.

His one saving grace, and the one reason why fans haven’t turned on him, is that he has potential. Also that the team is winning, but that’s a blanketing statement.

Meanwhile, the core of the Dodgers is getting older and more expensive and this may be their best opportunity for a serious run before the major 2012-2015 crash from the lack of prospects in the minors.

Fangraphs had a very good post about Loney.  I don’t see what other people see in Loney’s swing.  It’s very smooth, but it doesn’t look like he’s loading power.  It looks like he’s deliberately not swinging for power most times.  As the Fangraphs article points out, he’s actually very good at spraying the ball to the opposite field, but he’s not swinging for pull as much as he should be–that’s where his power is.

I always try to keep things in perspective.  Big Klu didn’t come around immediately either.  That’s how it works with prospects.  It’s up to them to reach their potential.

Ted Kluszewski, however, had one above-average power year before his age 28 season. At first base, no less.

Now I’m not saying Loney will turn into Klu. Klu is a comparable, but he didn’t have Loney’s patience and patience is associated with a lot of good things in hitting.  The problem is, if Loney’s best years are still ahead of him, or even three years ahead of him, can the Dodgers afford to wait for that?

First base is a premiere hitter’s position.  Basically you want your best power hitters with no redeeming defensive qualities in these positions, by order: LF, 1B, RF, 3B, 2B, CF, C/SS.  That’s kind of old school theory, but it’s correct. Maybe you’d rather have your worst fielder in RF because fewer balls go there (now there’s a cool study), but 1B is a great position because it doesn’t require much fielding and throwing.

The Dodgers right now are fortunate enough to have the best center fielder hitter in the game.  Take his production and put it at 1B and it’s still valuable. They also have solid to above-average hitting (compared to other players in position) from third base, second base right field, left field and catcher.

Originally I thought maybe moving Ethier to first base and signing a free agent outfielder would be the best, since Ethier is such an awful outfielder. But Manny leaving next year means there’s already going to be one hole in the outfield and there is, right now, no outfielder in the minors that’s prepared to jump to the majors.

There’s a number of decent free agents available in the 2011 free agency pool at 1B and OF: Carl Crawford, Adam Dunn, Derrek Lee, Carlos Pena, Lyle Overbay and the potentially awesome return to Los Angeles of Jayson Werth.  (There’s also the potential of the Cardinals not paying Pujols’ option, and same with the Astros and Berkman, but both ideas are laughable).

The team will also have a number of their players going through huge arbitration hearings over the next three years and will need to value their money properly.  This goes for Kemp, Kershaw, Martin, Billingsley, Broxton and Sherrill, in addition to Loney.

Assuming the core of young talent becomes expensive, a cheap alternative wherever it can be found is necessary.  So Loney, even though he’s not that great offensively, becomes remarkably valuable in dollar terms.

The OF market won’t be so strong that the Dodgers can pick up two valuable outfielders for reasonable prices. The only reasonable solution would be to sign both Crawford and Werth or maybe sign Dunn to play 1B and Crawford or Werth, with Ethier remaining in the outfield.  In that latter one, you’re giving up A LOT on defense.  And that’s assuming the bidding war for those players’ services doesn’t exceed the Dodgers’ budget.

Long story short, the drop in the level of production from

Ethier OF-Loney 1B-replacement OF
to
Ethier 1B-replacement OF-replacement OF

would be too great, and that’s made even worse if the Dodgers’ money woes continue into next year.  The Dodgers would then have to trade Loney, and they’d have to give up more than they get in that.  The only suitable replacement would have to be someone so great, he supercedes Loney and the replacement outfielder’s production–and that’s basically just Pujols.

Alternatively, every free agent 1B on the market has had serious injury issues or just isn’t that good.  The only one I would consider a bigger gain than loss over Loney would be either Carlos Pena or Adam Dunn, though those two aren’t so great to warrant replacing Loney.  (Dunn, fyi, is such a bad outfielder that he almost literally negates his offensive value).

So yeah.  Maybe Loney’s not the best offensive 1B, but he’s the Dodgers’ 1B.  Hopefully he develops into his full potential, but if he doesn’t, he’s still a valuable asset to the Dodgers.

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Filed under Free agent signings, MLB, Uncategorized

Dodgers avoid arb. with all of their eligibles

Maybe it’s time to give some credit to Dodgers GM Ned Colletti.

The Dodgers’ situation this off-season has so far been the most interesting, what with the McCourts’ divorce and the team’s inability to spend money as a result.  However, Ned Colletti and company have been creative.  Kicking Juan Pierre to the White Sox in exchange for paying some of his contract and getting a genuine relief prospect out of it was … I want to say impressive, but I get the feeling Colletti stumbled into that one, so I’ll say lucky.  Then last week, the Dodgers came to agreements with key 2009 players Matt Kemp and Chad Billingsley.  Colletti and company then avoided arbitration with almost all of their young talent: Kuo, Loney and Sherrill.

And today, Andre Ethier agreed to a two-year deal, pending a physical, according to Ken Gurnick.

Baseball Prospectus’ Jay Jaffe reports (via Cots Contracts) that they’ll be free of a lot of money as of 2010 and almost all contracts by 2011.

[Kemp’s 2011] deal more or less represents the Dodgers’ strongest acknowledgment to date that the world will not end after the coming season, which should come as a relief to anxious fans. According to the data at Cot’s Baseball Contracts (h/t new colleague Jeff Euston), the team has just four players under contract after this year: Kemp, Rafael Furcal ($12 million), Casey Blake ($5.25 million), and Carroll ($1.925 million). The club will still have control over the seven remaining arbitration-eligible players: Billingsley, James Loney, and Hong-Chih Kuo (who will be in their second years), Jonathan Broxton, Andre Ethier, and Russell Martin (third years), and George Sherrill (fourth year).  [Ed. note: Ethier’s agreement came shortly after this was published–like, five minutes.  That sucks.]

Of course this makes Dodger fans nervous–who’s going to play for the team??–but this opens the door to make wiser financial decisions than throwing two- or three-year deals for high per annum dollars at aging superstars.  Rebuilding the farm is considerably more important and cheaper. We’ll stay tuned to see if they spend the dollars in the first round come June.

Colletti is not a good evaluator of talent (and both of last year’s July 31 deadline trades are examples of that), but he’s been remarkable at showing financial dexterity in a not-so-good time.  That he was able to trade Pierre and get some of that contract off the table while also not signing big free agents to hefty contracts and using that money toward his more important assets–his arb. eligible players–is great.  He also found a good value in 2B Jamey Carroll, who is slightly undervalued because of his above-average on-base percentage.

If he can pull off signing either Joel Piniero, Ben Sheets or another high-reward potential starter on the cheap, it’ll be a great off-season for the Dodgers.

Edit: Dylan Hernandez reports the Dodgers have now agreed to contracts with Jonathan Broxton and Russell Martin as well, meaning they’ve avoided arbitration with all of their eligible players.  Well done.

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Filed under arbitration, MLB

Roy Campanella and Russell Martin. There, I did it.

Slow news day as New York gets prepped for the All-Star game tonight at 5 p.m. PST.

Martin has been given some lofty comparisons by this guy (Lyle Spencer) over at Dodgers.com:

Since Roy Campanella, coming right behind Jackie Robinson in Brooklyn, integrated his position in 1948, the Dodgers have had a succession of brilliant receivers: John Roseboro, Steve Yeager, Mike Scioscia, Mike Piazza and now Martin, the pride of East York, Ontario, and Montreal.

A little unfair to a) leave Paul Lo Duca off that list, considering he put Scioscia on it and b) to already be comparing Martin to the great Dodger catchers.  Yeah, I think we all feel that way, but Martin’s been in the majors for almost two years.  Can’t we have this discussion when his career is over?  Maybe after he’s put up 10 or so years of these kinds of numbers?  Can’t we be a little patient before bestowing the catching crown upon his head?

Martin, being the wonderful man he is, said this:

There are some names there that have done a lot, had great careers.  I feel like I have a long way to go before I can be compared to all those names. Maybe, when it’s all said and done. … [About being compared to Roy Campanella] You can’t put my name and his name in the same sentence.  What he did was unbelievable. It’s something I can look up to. It’s a good objective, to try to follow someone like that. But as far as achieving what he achieved, that’s tough.

Martin’s always had a great respect for history.  This is probably why we all love him so much (plus, he’s a great player) and some day, a young catcher may see Martin as his objective; to follow someone like that.

Spencer then wrote this sentence:

Martin said his focus is on helping the Dodgers make a second-half charge and claim a postseason assignment in the Mild, Mild West.

Uuuuuggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

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Filed under Los Angeles Dodgers