Derek Lowe

A fascinating career. Lowe came up with the Mariners in 1997, after years as a prospect, and pitched some, not well, before being traded to Boston, with Jason Varitek, for Heathcliff Slocumb in one of the worse “prospects for relievers” trades of all-time. It was maybe the first building block of the Red Sox world champions/mini-dynasty. The Red Sox used him as a starter briefly, then converted him to the bullpen. In 1999-2001, he was their most-usual closer, making the All-Star Team in 2000, even though he didn’t, and still doesn’t, have a normal closer arsenal. Lowe is primarily a ground-ball pitcher who even used one inning at a time won’t strike a whole lot of people out, and sometimes that pitcher is going to give up four singles in a row. For a starter, that’s not something that will necessarily kill you, but it’s a problem in high-leverage situations. Bill Simmons used to talk about the “Derek Lowe Face”, the slightly poleaxed look the pitcher would get when that sort of thing happened.

Lowe moved to the rotation after the acquisition of future murderer Ugueth Urbina late in 2001, and in 2002 won 21 games, with a 2.66 ERA and made his second All-Star Team. It was a fluke season, helped by a ridiculously low batting average on balls in play. When the hits started falling the next year, his ERA jumped by more than a run, though he still won 17 games. Lowe has usually pitched quite well in postseason, but got shelled in the 2003 ALCS, and when he was horribly unlucky in 2004, looked to be on his way out of the league. But he had a strong postseason, winning games in each series, and got a big (and unexpected) contract from the Dodgers.

Lowe had the most extended success of his career with the Dodgers, posting four straight years of ERAs well below the league, though the won/lost records don’t necessarily show it. Some of it is ridiculous numbers of “unearned” runs, like in 2005, when 24 of his runs were scored that way. Usually it’s not that dramatic, and he has pitched well. He also rarely missed a start, and had his best year in 2008, so he was a hot property. He was also 35 years old.

When dealing with pitchers, the most important thing to look at for the next year is not the age, but what they did the previous season. Long-term, you better look at age, and Lowe will be 39 when this contract runs out; it seems unlikely that he will still be effective then. It’s not impossible. The main thing I look for when projecting pitchers forward is strikeout rate; if they’re losing strikeouts, they’re about to hit the wall. Lowe’s strikeout rate is pretty steady; there’s been some decay, but not too much. (He’s struck out 147 men in each of the last two years, but pitched in 11 2/3 more innings last season than in 2007.) His control has improved, and it may be that he’s at a sort of peak right now. It happens.

Lowe doesn’t give up too many homers, though oddly he allowed more in Dodger Stadium than in Fenway. That may be a philosophical thing, or because he’s been used more at the edge of his effectiveness at the front of the rotation than in the middle as he was in Boston… Lowe is a career .125 hitter, walks occasionally, and appears to be a good bunter. If they’re gonna bunt, at least they should be good at it.

Derek Lowe Statistics – Baseball-Reference.com

147 thoughts on “Derek Lowe”

  1. This may say more about my own sense of humor than anything else, but I laughed loudly in my cubicle when reading this line:

    Lowe moved to the rotation after the acquisition of future murderer Ugueth Urbina late in 2001, and in 2002 won 21 games…

    Well done Mac. Always stellar with your choice of wording.

  2. Well done Mac. Your player profiles are always great. Never too long, giving us just the info we need that matters. Plus, they can be funny as hell

  3. sorry if already posted…..

    By David O’Brien

    January 22, 2009 3:20 PM | Link to this

    Just talked to Boras, said Andruw won’t sign before late next week. Andruw has told some people in Atlanta that he’s going to re-sign here, but Boras indicated it’s not a sure thing, that he got calls from eight teams, etc. etc.

    Hey, I think Andruw’s probably gonna end up here. Braves might be waiting to pull off a trade that would open a roster spot, but I don’t know. Boras said Andruw would NOT be signing a minor league deal, and also said teams were wrong to assume he’d take a minimum salary. Just telling you what he said.

    I do know Marlins have some interest in him, not sure what other teams might. (But I’d imagine Omar and the Mets might have called, and perhaps the Nationals.)

  4. Speaking of Omar and the Mets, seems like they have landed Freddy Garcia for an incentive laden contract that could be worth as much as John Smoltz’s contract. Seriously.

  5. There is no doubt Lowe is a positive addition to the team, though I never consider him as an “ace”. Nevertheless, great summary Mac!

    I think Andruw will end up in Washington.

  6. I echo the sentiments of pretty much everyone else: I’d take Andruw on a minor league contract, but not on a league minimum salary and a 40 man spot.

  7. Mac–I really liked the write up about Lowe–particularly your inclusion of how you like to evaluate pitchers….

    “Andruw will end up in Washington”–possibly, but the issue for me is how much time he will first spend in Atlanta…..

  8. Funny:

    KLaws chat:

    James (LA): I really believe that Jason Heyward is a better hitter than Jeff Francoeur, like, right now this instant.

    Keith Law: This is not a stretch

  9. I think Frenchy has till the All Star break to show something. He don’t have to be Chipper, but if he starts off like he played last year, I think the orgainization will pull the trigger on him.

  10. @13 – we are dead if he plays like he did last year and they give him until the all star break. If he starts off that bad – they better bag him after 2 months tops.

  11. Frenchy did not start 2008 that badly–April was ok (for him) and the in May he want into a tailspin, before hitting a bit better in September. My fear is that he will have a decent April/May and the Braves will convince themeselves that the September numbers were indicative of an improved hitter–one that may still become a star. And, then, in June his production will again plummet….

    I just wish we could trade him….

  12. 10 – I think any rational Braves fan will have the same conclusion.

    I hope Chipper is right regarding the improvements Frenchy has made this winter, but I doubt Frenchy is smart enough to carry that into the real games…

    …and I agree with Joshua, we are dead if Frenchy plays like he did last year.

  13. I second Hiawatha, that’s the funniest thing I have read all week. Anytime you can mix in the phrase ‘future murderer’ when discussing a starting pitcher, that’s just good writing.

  14. Stephen, nobody wants Frenchy. So, we are stuck with him…may as well wish him all the best for the new season…

  15. KC–I realize that and, in addition, we have nobody that we could play in RF. Owings is at least one year away and probably two; I would like to see him get his chance, but he cannot seem to stay healthy.

    Yeah, a return to the 2007 Frenchy looks like a best case scenario for the Braves….

  16. KC–Thanks for posting the link to the piece on Kent. It is interesting and telling–but I don’t think he will be a first ballot HOF in 2013….

  17. Also, reading Mac’s profile of Lowe, I think Vazquez might be the better pitcher right now.

    Look at their peripherals. And JV is coming from a relative hitters’ park to a better pitching environment while Lowe is doing the opposite.

  18. I think that one day Young will play in the big leagues–but he will earn his keep as a part time player and pinch hitter….

  19. I would hope that the organization would pull the trigger on Frenchie by the all-star break if he is playing as he usually does, but question: what has this organization EVER done with regard to Frenchie that would lead one to that conclusion? he seems to have been pampered and over-promoted from the start. I do not see anything in the pattern of behavior to indicate that will change.

    And, of course, if he is hitting .250 with few walks in June, we can await the AJC’s timely puff piece: “Francouer discovers new hitting technique and more muscle to fuel expected 2nd half surge”.

  20. Andruw and Francouer in the same order? Viagra sales will be through the roof in Atlanta because the frustration and impotence will spill out through the land. Oy.

  21. What bugs me about Francoeur is my fear that even if he develops into a servicable major leaguer, we’re going to end up paying him as if he’s a very good major leaguer. If he gets good, we’ll end up paying him like he’s great.

    I don’t see how we can ever get value over cost from him.

  22. @30

    That’s a really good point. The inability to get a long term deal was the first sign, and this arbitration will be the second. The only way that I would see the value = the cost would be if he started hitting like Manny/Pujols. Which, IMO, will happen when I start throwing 95MPH.

  23. Speaking of Manny – shouldn’t we throw an offer Manny’s way just to piss the Dodgers off?

  24. Great post, Mac. I hear you’re the top candidate for Comeback Blogmeister of the Year or at least January.

  25. I was at the game in April here in DC when Frenchy hit two home runs. That means I saw 18% of his season’s total of home runs. IN one game. In April. Unbelievable.

    Re being an only child: I am one and the more I see of sibling relationships (including my wife and her siblings and, today, the McGuires), the more glad I am of that. I’m glad Jay McGuire is throwing his brother under the bus for love; I would hate to see what he would do if it was only for money.

  26. KC–Thanks for posting the link to the piece on Kent. It is interesting and telling–but I don’t think he will be a first ballot HOF in 2013….

    Not if Gadfly gets a vote, anyway.

  27. @36: Hahaha… I’m glad I got a chance to drop in again today. Good to see I’ve built a steady reputation around here. Though to be fair, I never argued that someone shouldn’t vote for someone they thought deserved it, but wasn’t certain to be inducted. Only that if induction is certain, then sending the vote elsewhere could be justified, and thus, shouldn’t be called “idiotic.”

    I’m not sure if I would vote for Kent, or not, that’s why they make you wait 5 years… Though during his career he never struck me as a Hall of Famer. An All-Star? Sure… and his peak warranted the MVP/MVP consideration that he received, but I really never saw him as a HOFer… I love second basemen, but he also never struck me as that great a fielder. Put his numbers at 1B and there’s not really even a conversation.

    I might change my mind after the waiting period, but as it stands now I wouldn’t be surprised if there are 10 other names more worthy of the recognition.

  28. Also, I may be going out on yet another limb here, but what’s the deal with people attributing batting average on balls in play to pure luck. Maybe it is just a usual oversimplification, as the internet lends itself to, but it seems to me that that is part of baseball.

    Obviously, there’s a good deal of luck involved, but as the great Wee Willie Keeler once said “Hit ’em where they ain’t.” The joy of watching Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine pitch so often was watching the defense positioned (usually by the great Pat Corrales) right where the ball would be hit. There is a good deal of skill involved too, and I don’t think an entire season can be attributed to luck.

    Anyone who has played a sport over time, or followed enough careers can tell you that some players just have great and awful seasons. Luck aside, couldn’t it be that Derek Lowe’s 2002 was one of these fateful years?

  29. To no one in particular, I just had an urge to step out of my deposition and post about luck.

    If you hit a line drive that means you squared up the ball and made solid contact. If you did that and got out you were unlucky.

    Now, I’ve only ever played sports over a series of instants, and followed only one career, so I’m not really qualified to speak on this, but some players just are good and on average have good seasons. My patient on the operating table waiting for me to return aside, is it possible that Derek Lowe is just a good pitcher?

  30. Jemele Hill at ESPN is useless. She wrote an article listing 5 reasons why Mike Vick should get a second shot at the NFL

    Remorse. If ever someone wished he could hop in a DeLorean and go back a few years, it would be Michael Vick. He lost his fortune and freedom. He’s declared bankruptcy and the general public believes he’s a psychopath. Think he’s not sorry for what he did? Think any part of Vick would relive this nightmare again?

    This just infuriates me. Remorse isn’t about being sorry you had to pay the consequences for your actions. It’s about being sorry that someone else, or in this case something else, had to suffer the consequences of your actions.

    If all Mike Vick is sorry about is that he lost his fame and fortune then how is he any better as a person than he was before? Until he genuinely feels remorse for the cruelty he committed against other living creatures he hasn’t grown a bit. Jamele Hill is useless.

    It gets worse but I’m not FJM so I won’t pile on.

  31. Kevin (GA): I have NINE current and former Braves prospects. FIVE of them are in the Top 50. Simply incredible that they are still as deep as they are.

    Keith Law: It really is. They’re a scouting machine.

    @38,

    Gadfly,

    Wee Willie Keeler played in the 1800/early 1900s. I don’t think you can really compare the game then to today. Very few hitters can really “hit them where they ain’t” on purpose. Go to a game in person and you really see how random the results are; hard hit balls right at someone are outs and slowly hit balls find a hole. What people fail to note about Maddux and Glavine is that, despite their reputations for being finesse pitchers, they got a good number of strikeouts, especially Maddux, which reduces the opportunities for balls to find a way through. The point about luck is that, for a given period of time, say a season, a hitter may have an abnormally high (or low) number of balls that find holes. For example, as good as Chipper Jones is, he never hit close to .364 before so you have to assume there was some luck involved. That’s also why you see a lot of variation in batting average from season to season even among very good hitters. For example, in a five year stretch, Tony Gwynn hit .317, .317, .358, .394, and .368. I doubt that there was really that much difference in his performance but his averages fluctated pretty significantly (albeit at a very high level).

    @41,

    Dix,

    Wow, I’m impressed that you can transition from a deposition to baseball so easily. Goood job!

  32. @39: Haha, nice… well you’ll be even more glad to hear my meeting was postponed today, so I got to stick around longer than expected!

    To no one in particular: If you read the entirety of what I said you might actually understand me next time (and I’m sorry if my posts don’t fit into a sound-bite format, but the ideas expressed within are a little more complicated than that.)

    I wasn’t saying Lowe wasn’t a good pitcher, I was only wondering why sabermetricians make statements like “It was a fluke season, helped by a ridiculously low batting average on balls in play.”

    Now perhaps it was a fluke season, and the numbers were clearly helped by a low BABIP, but isn’t that what makes a pitcher good? What I was saying is that isn’t it possible Derek Lowe was just better in 2002 than he has been since, or was before (which is still, on average, pretty darn good.) Not that in 2002 he got lucky, which is what I tend to read into a comment like the one I quoted above. To put it another way, wasn’t the “ridiculously low BABIP” the product of the “fluke season” and not the other way around?

    There is a definite role of luck in everything in baseball, and I just don’t understand why people sometimes treat BABIP like a stat that is totally, or primarily luck dependent. (Now get back to that table!)

  33. You missed the fact that I was also performing open heart surgery while taking a deposition. You guys should appreciate me more. I’m like a super hero and my time is valuable, but every once in a great while I deign to grace you all with my presence and mingle as if I’m not above you.

  34. Gadfly at 41 and Dix at 42,

    Each player at a given point in his career has a tendency toward a specific BAPIP. However, that number is not that far off from player to player.

    BAPIP does not control BA, but it sure does allow you to not assume increases in BA are repeatable (or that decreases are unlikely to be repeated, as in the case of Nick Swisher).

  35. A fluke means it was luck. If the explanation for a good or bad season is good or bad luck then you have a fluke.

    That’s why sabermetricians call them fluke seasons.

  36. More Law:

    Brandon (Nashville, TN): Who, in the bottom 50, has the best chance to jump up into the top 10 (or 20) after this year?

    SportsNation Keith Law: There are several candidates but both Dominic Brown and Michael Taylor came to mind right away. Others: Wilmer Flores, Freddie Freeman, Michael Main, Aaron Hicks, and – because I’m stubborn – Chris Nelson.

  37. Dix, your comments made me think of this-

    Anybody out there coming to us from an intersting job setting?

    I’m just an actuary/broker sitting by a computer most of the day.

    Are there any high-rise construction workers posting from their Blackberries?

  38. “Luck” in baseball is sort of a weird term. Basically, “luck” is statistical noise, inexplicable, unrepeatable variation. It may or may not be “random.” We don’t know why it happens, and it doesn’t form a pattern. “Luck” is basically a catchall term for everything that falls outside the behavior explained by the independent variables.

  39. There was a Hardball Times article (I believe) that said that bunting, statistically, doesn’t usually work out. Do any of you guys have that link or to a similar study?

  40. @43: I should’ve waited for my next post, cause it appears you preempted me a bit there.

    I guess I understand the theory, but it seems to me that over the course of a season/career it is more likely that luck evens out, and that skill operates on different levels. In my athletic pursuits I’ve certainly gone through peaks where nothing can go wrong, and valleys where nothing can go right. Basketball is probably the clearest example of this, where no one can blame a streak of good (or awful) shots on luck, but I think it holds in baseball too.

    I followed Gwynn closely in that insane ’94 season. There is no doubt in my mind that he was just clicking, and that’s the only time I seriously thought I might be watching a .400 season develop. Of course luck played a role, but I doubt it caused the majority of the difference between the .317 he hit two years earlier. If you look at his June and July numbers in ’92 it looks pretty clear that he hit a bit of a slump. If you compare June ’92 to June ’94, do you really think luck cost the best hitter of his generation 14 hits over 27 games? Of course no one can say for sure, but it seems unlikely to me.

    Meanwhile in ’94 he stayed at the same high peak until the strike shortened the season (possibly another reason why his number stayed so high, as he didn’t have to keep it up over the last third of the year, though we’ll never know.)

    Same goes for Chipper in the first few months of last season, he was just on fire. In March/April he hit 17 points higher than his BAbip, and then was under the rest of the season. He clearly was seeing the ball better, and was more able to hit the pitches he wanted to hit the way he wanted to hit them.

  41. There was a Hardball Times article (I believe) that said that bunting, statistically, doesn’t usually work out. Do any of you guys have that link or to a similar study?

    I recall the exception being runner at 2nd nobody or 1 out 9th inning or later, to tie or go ahead

  42. @51: I like your definition, on first glance, but in my comments I guess I would differentiate between the luck that says “Player A got lucky because even his weak little dribblers found holes” as opposed to “Player A got lucky because in the 2002 season he was able to see the ball better, and for some unexplainable reason perform at a higher level than usual.”

    Again, its the difference between a “fluke season” being “helped by a low BAbip” or vice versa. I tend to think the low BAbip was the result of the fluke season.

    Now, sadly, I better pull the cord or the guy who’s paying me to guide his first sky dive is going to fill up his pants. Perhaps I’ll be back to post more when we’ve reached the ground.

  43. What you seem to be saying Gadfly is that you don’t think any given BABIP is high or low compared to a players’ averages because of luck, but rather because of some other intangible reason like “he saw the ball better that year”.

    I think you have to look at line drive percentage in conjunction with BABIP to get a real sense of whether they were unlucky or just incapable of squaring the ball up.

  44. @57: Then what is the cause? And how can you differentiate a term like “fluke” from such a cause?

    And hitting the way back button @3: What reason would Andruw have for not taking the league minimum? If I understand correctly the only way he could earn more money than the Dodgers are already paying him this year is if he signed for more than that, and that just isn’t going to happen… So why on Earth would he want to take more money from the team he signs with?

  45. The Fluke is the luck.

    What you’re saying is essentially:

    It wasn’t luck that made his BABIP higher, it was that he saw the ball better.

    I’m saying that “seeing the ball better” and “luck” are one and the same in this context. That he saw the ball better was a matter of luck, therefore the BABIP fluctuation was luck.

  46. @42 – You shouldn’t be mad – Ms. Hill is Terrance Moore’s illegitimate daughter. She used to write for the local paper here in Orlando before somehow getting hired at ESPN. My advice would be just to avoid her columns.

  47. There are stats which help you measure when a player gets lucky and his overall line is maybe better than he actually was. It just depends on how far you drill down.

    BABIP is pretty consistently a function of LD%. If Lowe allowed the same LD% in his best year than he did in his worst year, players were probably hitting the ball just as hard in his best year. More of those balls just found defenders’ gloves.

    I had the impression that Chipper was lucky last year based on observation. I know that I saw quite a few bloopers just fall in for him. I also know that he took an approach of hitting the hole on the right side with a runner on first.

    So, I think some of his high BA was due to luck, but part of it was due to his ability to execute a specific strategy. I also think that means we may see batting averages higher than Chipper’s career averages in the future, but less power.

  48. I’d refer you back to my comment at 56.

    Basically, there is a difference between the “luck” that makes a ball here or there squirt through the defense, and there is the “luck” that he performed better throughout an entire season.

    I think there is a big difference between these two. While the second one may or may not be any more repeatable than the first. It does, in my opinion, appear to have more to do with a person’s skills, which leads me to believe it may have a reoccurring impact (albeit perhaps not at the same level.)

  49. Gadfly @ 58,

    You have correctly assessed Andruw’s position.

    The only way a team could offer Andruw any money that would go into his picket would be to either (1) pay more than the Dodger obligation or possibly (2) give him a vesting option for future year(s) with or without a buy out.

    I think it is a pride thing for both Boras and Andruw to get him the best roster position and the biggest number. However, with all the talent floating out there, I really don’t see anybody paying more than league minimum. Possibly a bad team would sign him to a major league contract.

    A minor league contract could guarantee Andruw a bonus equal to the 1/6th of minimum salary that he would be guaranteed on a ML contract if cut before the season.

  50. Alright, a skydiver, the bat cave and open heart surgery.

    Isn’t anyone here currently jumping a monster truck over some school buses?

  51. The point is, whether it’s luck or something else (he saw the ball better that year), it’s still likely not repeatable if it differentiates significantly from the player’s norm. Perhaps Gwynn’s .394 season resulted from him not having any slumps and staying in a groove for an extraordinarily long time. You can’t expect even a Tony Gwynn to have another year where he has no slumps; you can see that because in no other season did he hit .394. Maybe some of his line drives in that year got over the infielders that in other years would have been caught. Players have seasons that are significantly better or significantly worse than the rest of that career for perhaps unexplainable reasons, but you have to assume that the guy’s history is a better predictor of his future performance than his one special season. Now, admittedly, players do improve or regress, but that happens more often at the beginning or end of their careers.

  52. FYI Guys, back around #33 I have a post sitting in waiting on moderation (I think I clicked submit with a double link or something and when I edited it it still held it in the moderation queue)… so if Mac catches that somewhere in the spam filters all the references to earlier posts may be off by one number (which seems a silly bit of coding oddity to me).

  53. (I apologize in advance for this one, I blame Friday)

    Parish, I’m not in the monster truck, but doing my side job as nose-picker to the stars… you should see the stuff that comes out of Kate Moss’s right nostril.

  54. @42: Okay… Ms. Hill is clearly not the finest writer, and I haven’t read the article, but I couldn’t avoid opening one more can of worms before I sneak out to lunch. I must assume, then, that you’ve don’t harm animals in your daily life? Then again referring to another living creature as “something” makes me wonder if I’ve already erred.

    While I found many of Mike Vick’s actions disgusting, the only thing I found more disappointing was the myopic response of many talking heads who failed to realize that Vick’s actions were clearly just the inevitable result of a culture that values itself over all other species (and in many cases, cultures.)

    Vick didn’t see those dogs as sentient beings, any more than you saw the bacon you ate for breakfast as worthy of consideration. For him, they were play things, provided for his amusement. Personally, I find that disgusting, but I don’t see how different it is than many of the practices that occur everyday in mainstream America. Of course, when shoved into the dark closet of prohibition, these acts are no longer subject to the bright light of public censure (until it is too late,) and only become more vicious in their prosecution.

    Now… lunchtime!

  55. @67: Well put Mr. Schneider. I would agree for the most part, but I would put some weight in the existence of that one season anyways. Perhaps lightning will strike twice, and Lowe will repeat ’02 in ’09… we can always hope.

    I’d say more, but I’ve already said too much, and lunch is calling.

  56. From DOB:

    It should be noted again, whatever salary he gets from the Braves or any other team that signs him this year will be in addition to the $21.1 million he’s still owed and will be paid by the Dodgers, to complete the two-year, $36.2 million contract they gave him after the 2007 season.

  57. Stu – The ‘Dores didn’t make the BA rankings this preseason. Do you think that young team will make some noise?

    The pitching should be better than last year, but the hitting is another matter.

  58. Well, I’m not skydiving or monster truck jumping, but I am posting from work. It’s not as fun, but probably just as scary since my employer is a bank.

  59. The difference between .350 and .400 is 1 hit per week. The ability to 210 hits/season is a repeatable skill obviously. It’s the other 30 that constitute an angel on your shoulder

  60. Parish… sorry… figured it was just past lunchtime (and after the literary discussion yesterday thought we could try and go for cultural whiplash).

    Gadfly, hey, I’m vegetarian so I only hurt the soybeans (frigging vegetables deserve to suffer!)…

    Stu, that’s what I thought it was… the way they did the contract and release was such that whatever he got was on top of the $21M (though I wasn’t sure it didn’t effect the 5M part he got this year).

  61. To reiterate what AAR said about luck, there really are two components to what we refer to so cavalierly as “luck”. The first is random fluctuations, the ball bouncing this way instead of that leading to a runner out instead of a runner safe. That stuff happens, there’s no causal relationship with anything, it’s just random.

    The other bit, however, is just stuff we can’t explain yet, either because we haven’t look at the right things or the right things to look at are unobservable. By way of an example, when people tried to project a player’s ERA for next year using their ERA from last year, they were just looking at the wrong thing. So when they got massive variations from year to year (which they may have referred to as “luck”), it wasn’t because better information (K-rates, BB-rates, etc.) weren’t there. They were just looking at the wrong thing. However, when we try to account for defensive value and the effect of defense on stuff like ERA, we often find a lot of noise or random variation. But this is because we aren’t very good at assessing defensive value. So when a pitcher does well because their defense played well, we might say they got lucky when in fact there was some factor we couldn’t measure very well (defense) accounting for a lot of the variation.

    In retrospect, I’m not sure it was necessary or useful to say any of that, but I’ve already typed it, so there ya go….

  62. mraver, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve applied that “already typed it, even if it isn’t necessary, may as well post” logic I would have… well.. a bunch of nickels.

  63. As far as Kent goes, I think that if you take the position that each position should be looked at differently, then I think he’s probably in, and the BBWAA has generally done that. If you think that positions (with the exception of pitchers) don’t really matter, than there’s probably no way he’s in. It will be an interesting case to see what happens, though. Personally, I’m generally inclined to say he’s in, and I really hate Jeff Kent, so that’s probably saying something.

  64. There’s a difference between killing a chicken so I can eat at Bojangles and training animals to shred each other for entertainment (and gambling). One is legal, the other is not. Vick clearly believes that it’s OK to break the law as long as he doesn’t get caught. That’s why he is only remorseful at getting caught and paying the price. That’s also why he’s deplorable.

    I saw an online poll a few days back asking would I want Vick on my favorite football team. I voted ‘no’ not because he’s a dog killer (which is disgusting), but because he’s a lousy quarterback.

    Go Braves.

  65. And kudos to #75.

    Yeah, Jason. Been there done that. Got the t-shirt. Trust me as someone who had it happen to them: You don’t want Vick as the QB of your favorite team.

  66. Okay, my favorite eatery was packed, so you get me for another half hour or so.

    Parish, if the creator didn’t want dogs to fight he wouldn’t have made them amenable to it. It cuts both ways.

    @83: I have no problem with people who eat meat, I don’t proselytize my diet (which is not entirely free of animal products.) I do, however, find the meat packing industry in this country beyond disgusting. The poultry industry being perhaps worst of all.

    Also, I was never saying what Vick did wasn’t criminal, it clearly was, or that eating meat is criminal, it clearly isn’t, or should be, it clearly shouldn’t. I was making a philosophical argument, which should never be cluttered, or confused with the tediousness of legal arguments. That being said, the illegality of dogfighting likely leads to the extreme viciousness of Vick’s acts. If it were a legitimate industry, like dog racing, it would be forced to submit to societal pressures. (Whether or not that means we should legalize it is another issue I won’t delve into.)

  67. Philosophically, Vick is a punk so I don’t want him anywhere near my house, kids, or dog. He’s also a poor QB, so I don’t want him near my team.

  68. @85: Vick’s QB weaknesses aside, I’m not surprised it was at 30%. With the Dolphin’s “Wildcat” offenses’ success last year I could definitely see a good role for Vick on a number of teams. My two favorites (ATL and DEN) have no use for him, IMO, mostly because he probably needs a change of scenery, and the Broncos’ offense isn’t in need of gimmicks.

    If I were a Browns, Raiders, Lions, etc. fan though, I’d be willing to give him another shot. Cleveland, horrible dog pound puns aside, would be a great spot, as he could take the pressure of Quinn, boost the running game, and if he can learn to run routes and catch passes (which I hope he’s worked on in jail) he’d be a triple threat. It’s going to take a great deal of repentance to be accepted anywhere, though.

  69. My job isn’t dangerous but I do tend to post in between shooting special features for DVDs. Lots of down time.

  70. The Braves have had drama this winter, sure, but just I love the festering dysfunction that is the New York Mets.

    Case in point: Met ownership making public statements that the GM never even brought up the idea of signing Manny Ramirez.

    Facts: There’s no GM who’s a bigger fan of Manny than Omar Minaya and it’s general knowledge among Metfolk & local media that the Wilpons want nothing to do with Manny.

    Ownership is so sensitive to charges of cheapness—there was a time when Met fans referred to Fred Wilpon as “Fred Coupon”—that they’ll hang their GM out to dry & wash their hands over it.

    Amusing, as long as they don’t change their minds.

  71. I personally test taste rectal thermometers, so you guys don’t let me hear about how bad your jobs are.

  72. I was making a philosophical argument, which should never be cluttered, or confused with the tediousness of legal arguments.

    Oddly, I haven’t found anything resembling an argument in any of the eleventy billion words you’ve typed in this thread.

    Parish,
    Yeah, I’ll be surprised if we don’t end the season in the Top 25. The offense depends on a lot of freshmen, but they’re all very highly touted freshmen, so I think it will be sufficient.

    I’m not sure there’s a better collection of pitchers in college than the ones Corbin and DJ have to work with here in Nashville. It’s deep and experienced.

  73. AAR–Interesting article–I would move Cashman and Daniels up. It is too early to evaluate Wren–and the rest of this offseason may tell us a good bit. I assume that Wren does not think that he is finished and he may yet put together a good team for 2009.

    That said, Wren’s moves after the 2007 presaged the collapse in 2008. Now, he was a new GM and we don’t know how much actual autonomy he has and we can only speculate on his budget. For what it worth, I think that he has yet to master ‘the deal’ and seems to have more near misses than might be expected.

    On the positive side, Wren has held onto to key prospects and not yielded to the temptation to rush players to the Atlanta before they are ready.

    Therefore, I would expect his ranking would be Third tier–but with the distinct possibility that he might get better. In other words, he will became adept at things like deal making and I would expect his ranking to improve over time…..

  74. AAR – Nevermind my earlier comment. I just read the article and all is clear.

    I think you are overrating Domborwski. Williams, Minaya, and probably Moore. Ricciardi and Byrnes may be underrated. I like Shapiro, too, but I have a hard time putting him with the top group.

    Wren is Tier 4 right now. He has been pretty good, but his whining this offseason and his failure to sign Smoltz cost him in my opinion. Other than that, the good balances with the bad and I am optimistic there will be more good in the future.

  75. @42: Okay… Ms. Hill is clearly not the finest writer, and I haven’t read the article, but I couldn’t avoid opening one more can of worms before I sneak out to lunch. I must assume, then, that you’ve don’t harm animals in your daily life? Then again referring to another living creature as “something” makes me wonder if I’ve already erred.

    You’ve got to be kidding me….

    You’re correct in assuming that I don’t hurt animals in my daily life. That would make it difficult for me to perform my day job as a newspaper reporter / photographer / heart surgeon / court reporter. What I do in my night life is necessarily more secretive and harming animals is unlikely to have an impact on my success there, so good on you for not extending your assumption to my night life.

    Also, you’re just picking fights out of Blind Hog’s ass with the last part. A dog is a living creature yes, but it is not a human being. A human being would be described as ‘someone’. A dog is not a human and therefore a dog is a ‘something’ and not a ‘someone’. That distinction is even clear from my choice of wording, and even more clear is that I chose that distinction intentionally.

    By that point you had not yet erred. The error occurred when you clicked “submit comment”

  76. @94: I assure you, Stu, there is an argument there. At least 2 that I can think of off the top of my head, but I’m not going to hold your hand through it. Again, I wish I could succinctly express large ideas in a small number of words, but I don’t have enough time, which would be necessary for such a feat.

    @99: Well I’m sorry if I didn’t realize you were a strict vegan. My apologies if that is really the case. On second glance perhaps I was jumping to conclusions, and perhaps you only used the something term for the sake of brevity. While a dog, or a person, is technically a thing, I would hope that we can all agree there is a difference between an inanimate thing, and a living, breathing, feeling thing.

    And with that I’m outta here, most likely not to return until I’m comfortably back home on the west coast. Take care all… and much love to Frenchy, your National League 2010 MVP!!!

  77. Here’s a brief screenplay I wrote just now. It’s an adaptation of a fictional story that couldn’t possibly happen in real life because it’s too stupid.

    Gadfly: Someone bit me.

    Me: Oh really, who?

    Gadfly: My dog.

    Me: …

    Here’s another one I wrote.

    Gadfly: Something bit me.

    Me: Oh really, what?

    Gadfly: My dog

    Me: Better have it put down.

    Gadfly: A dog isn’t an “it”.

    Me: Then why did you refer to it as “something” and not “someone”?

    Gadfly: Not enough information so I make big.

  78. #97 and #98, Dombrowski did very good work in Florida, and he did engineer the Tigers’ remarkable Series run in 2006. They’re sort of a shambles now, but Porcello looks like the real deal, and they’ve still got some real ballplayers there, including Cabrera, who doesn’t do much but hit, but he sure can hit.

    I may be overrating Cashman, but he’s better than Minaya, and I think he is honestly better than the third tier, which is characterized by guys who can’t really consistently get to the playoffs.

    I’m not a big Kenny Williams fan, but I give him credit for the ring, and despite the bizarre moves I mentioned he really has done some shrewd work in assembling pitching staffs year after year.

    I give Minaya a lot of credit for taking the Mets from, you know, the Mets, a high-budget laughingstock, to one of the most feared teams in the league. The late-season collapses have become the narratives, but they are stacked every year and they are a very tough team every year. Before he came in, other than the fluke Subway Series in 2000, they were a joke for a long, long time.

    Daniels, again, could be second tier, but he hasn’t put together a team that has won in the majors. If his prospects pan out and the Rangers become contenders in the West, then he’ll join the big boys.

    Dayton Moore has made some really headscratching moves. He’s clearly much more competent than Allard Baird, but a lot of the time it’s not clear what he’s thinking. He seems to have a disspiriting tendency toward signing mediocre players to multiyear deals — hi, Horacio Ramirez! Read Rany Jazayerli on the Willie Bloomquist contract, and you’ll see what I mean. The Royals aren’t as bad as they used to be, but it’s not clear they’re on their way to being good.

    Byrnes, I just don’t have a read on. The Snakes have some great young players, but their farm’s a little bare right now (they’re #24 in KLaw’s rankings), and I’m not exactly sure they are about to take a big leap forward, even if Juston Upton and Stephen Drew and Chris Young keep getting incrementally better. The Eric Byrnes contract sucked, of course. They’ll contend in an awful division, but that’s nothing to hang your hat on.

    I think Wren, in this group, is probably slightly above average. We’ll see what 2009 looks like, though. I’m trying to withhold my final judgment.

  79. If you are contemplating Dombrowski’s days in Florida, you might have to include Wren’s brief Baltimore experience which would place him squarely in Tier 4.

    I think Dombrowski is overrated because of the trades he made to stack his team last year. He totally emptied the farm and did not really come close to the playoffs. He never should have made the Renteria trade (Wren’s finest moment) and the gamble on Dontrelle Willis looks terrible.

    I think Byrnes’ farm is bare because so many guys just graduated. That is a very young team and he might just be a very good GM.

  80. Oh, and Dayton Moore says he wants higher OBP guys and then gets Mike Jacobs and contemplates Jeff Francoeur.

    Despite several successful acquisitions of Jairo Cuevas in this offseason alone, I think you’ve given him too much credit.

  81. Also, word on the Eric Byrnes deal is that ownership forced that move. I think Josh Byrnes deserves a pass on that.

  82. And they called it…Puppy Love!!!

    Has this turned into the PETA blog? Let’s get back to baseball.

    Great Article AAR

    I wouldn’t put Billy Beane in the first tier, I might even have him in the 3rd tier. For all the hype he’s gotten, the A’s are really just the nationals of the West Coast, and they sneak into the playoffs every so often because they are in the worst division in baseball.

    I wouldn’t put Wren on the list yet, because the Teixiera trade to the Angels was necessitated by the team not being competitive and he was limited in his options. How he handled the Smoltz situation is not really a reflection on whether it was a good move for the Braves or not, team-wise, and he had a nice rebound through the signing of the two pitchers, which would have happened regardless of what they did with Smoltz. In fact, it might have made the Japanese pitcher signing easier because if Smoltz did make it back, he would have been a two or three, where the Japanese pitcher and Vasquez will go.

  83. Dombrowski spent a bunch of years in Florida. Wren had one miserable, Angelos-plagued year in Baltimore. I’ll give him a pass. With Dombrowski, I freely admit it may be an overreach, and the Renteria deal was truly awful. But they made the World Series literally out of nowhere two years ago, and, again, that ain’t nothing. But he may not deserve to be that far ahead of Dan O’Dowd, for example. Perhaps he should be third tier. I just haven’t decided.

    Moore is solidly mediocre. He took the team and made it better — he even markedly improved its reputation around baseball, no small feat — and gets credit for that.

    Byrnes may well be a good GM. It looks like he’s pretty good at drafting, and around April-May of last year, it looked like the team was an absolute monster. But, as with Daniels, call me when they win.

    Bwarrend, thanks for the compliment. But there are very large differences between the Nationals and the A’s. One is that the Nats are terrible, and the A’s are good every year. Another would be that the Nats have one of the worst farm systems in baseball, while the A’s have one of the best. Also, the worst division in baseball is the NL West, not the AL West. The Angels are a solid team, and the Rangers are starting to look pretty tough. The new Mariners GM is in a big hole because Bavasi was cosmically incompetent, but he looks like he might have a head on his shoulders, too.

  84. Good comments, Alex.

    My nitpicking should not eclipse the fact that I thought it was an interesting, thought-provoking article. I am sure it was designed to inspire discussion rather than make a definitive statement.

    Thank you for calling it to our attention.

  85. I just don’t think you can include Cashman on any list – good or bad.

    He isn’t a GM, he’s a professional shopper.

  86. He’s a good shopper, though. Remember, he doesn’t just buy players: he patches the holes in his lineup with guys like Robby Cano, Melky Cabrera, Chien-Ming Wang, and others. They’ve gotten some pretty good production from guys you never would have expected to produce.

    Thanks for the compliment, Parish.

  87. I think the braves should consider Luke Scott, currently with the O’s. Not too bad defensively, 20 HR power, and .800 OPS guy

  88. Luke Scott is not quite as good a hitter as Dan Uggla, and he plays left field. Not known for his fielding, and he’s got an okay bat, but, again, while he’s better than what we got, Adam Dunn would be a whole lot better than what we got.

  89. Good article AAR,

    My one issue: I think that success for a team should be defined as relative to both its market and organizational culture. What I mean by this is that part of what was so remarkable about Tampa Bay was not just that they won, but that they overcame a culture of losing that went back a decade and did it with a payroll smaller than most. You reference this with Dombrowski in Detroit and Moore in KC.

    Per that, I would probably move Melvin up one spot. What his did in Milwaukee is pretty remarkable, and I respect the fact that he had the rocks to make the Sabathia deal knowing that it would probably end the way it did. He hasn’t been perfect, but I think he’s done just as well as Shapiro and especially Dombrowski (considering the differences in payroll).

    I’d put Wren in the third tier. There is promise, but let’s see it translated on the field.

  90. Cashman is more difficult to evaluate than other GMs. He’s had the most money, the most unreasonable expectations and, until recently, the most insane owner.

    His record is all over the map, but for the most part I’ve give him good marks.

    #118
    “Once a schmuck, always a schmuck…”

  91. To change the subject, for those who follow the farm, there is a good interview over at Talking Chop with John Sickels….

  92. Alex R, a good topic for a list and I think a topic that doesn’t get talked about enough in baseball circles.

    My only issues are: I think Daniels should be a little higher, but he did make a major mistake in the Young/Gonzalez for Eaton deal, so I see why you have him there, and I think Dayton and O’Dowd should be in a tier lower. Dayton has made many head scratching moves so far, and O’Dowd wouldn’t be employed in the Rockies wouldn’t have had their fluke run to the WS. Hampton, Neagle, Helton, O’Dowd dug himself quite a hole that his negatives to me, have outweighed his positives.

    Parish, please stop with the Matt Young talk. Look, the kid went to college where I’m at, I like him, but he makes Josh Anderson look like a slugging outfielder.
    He plays hard and I hope he can stick around a couple of years in the big leagues as a fourth/fifth OF/fill in injury type, but that’s about his ceiling, to me anyway.

  93. jj3bagger – That Young comment was a long time ago. It was more of a shot at Francoeur than a promotion of Matt Young.

  94. Parish, gotcha. I thought I had read a few other posts from you championing the Matt Young cause. Look, I have been to parties where he was at, and watched him play more than a few times in college, and I think he’s a good guy and all, just don’t think he’ll be much of a pro. I really do hope I’m wrong, but I tend to believe that there were many reasons why he wasn’t drafted.

  95. John Rocker or Michael Vick?

    If ever there was a pair of candidates for karmic retribution…

    The dream is:

    Rocker handcuffed for eternity to a strap on the No. 7 train as he’s serenaded in Spanish by a guitar-playing Mexican cowboy.

    (I see this guy every week. He’s really good. I’m always fascinated how he can maintain his balance and sing and play so well as the train rattles and curves its way past the Bliss Street stop.)

    And like most things or people he’s too challenged to understand, Rocker would go crazy hating him—for eternity.

    Vick, of course, would be simply eaten by dogs.

  96. 134 — ububba, those are good examples of the Dantesque contrappasso. I’ve long wanted to come up with an Inferno for baseball. Maybe one day when I have my own blog… It’d probably be too hokey, though.

  97. i live in new orleans. of course we are known for our cuisine, but last night i had a combination of ingredients that was so insane that it actually worked. it was a dessert: a fudge brownie but instead of using any oil, the chef cooks it in actual bacon grease. and the madness doesnt stop there: bacon in the brownie. not small pieces that you could not taste, but hickory smoked bacon pieces all in the mixture. crazy, huh? it was really good.

  98. Dantesque contrappasso

    I tip my cap to you sir. The absolute last thing I ever expected to see posted here.

  99. Speaking of a mix of flavors, has anyone ever been to The Vortex in Atlanta? They got this burger called the Double Bypass burger: Half pound of meat, 4 slices of cheese, 5 strips of bacon, 2 fried eggs all stuffed between 2 grilled cheese sandwiches. I’ve never had it, but I went a few days ago with some friends and one of them got it. Finished it, too. I was proud of him.

  100. I play poker at the Vortex on Tuesdays. Foods ok – burger at the Earl is better

  101. Mike N., have you spoken with your friend since the Bypass Burger? If not you better check in on him.

  102. I have a friend who never has a bad day, he says, because each day is one in which he might eat bacon.

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