Posts Tagged ‘Jason Bay’

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Eric Wedge, Lord of Leverage

April 28, 2009

Eric Wedge was actually ejected in the fourth inning of the Indians-Red Sox game, so this should be about the Indians bench or pitching coach, but that is beside the point.

After a pitching duel between Boston’s Tim Wakefield and Cleveland’s Cliff Lee, the score is 0-0. Boston has their 2-3-4 hitters coming up, and Cleveland’s substitute manager elected to send out the closer (and probably best reliever), Kerry Wood, to face the heart of the Sox order.

This is a positively brilliant move.

The idea that a closer should only pitch in “save” situations is the dumbest case of managing to a statistic. MLB managers suffer from a groupthink problem where they all make the same mistake, saving their closer for situations where they can earn a save. What managers should be doing is saving their closer for those situations with the highest leverage (close and late), and against the best hitters in the opponent’s batting order. A tie game in the ninth inning against a team’s (supposed) three best hitters should be one of the best times to use the closer.

Some day, we’ll all know closers as “relief aces”, and it won’t matter if it’s the 7th, 8th, 9th, or 10th inning. We’ll see the best relief pitcher when they can best be used to control the outcome of the game.

(Note: As I’m writing this, Kerry Wood gave up a three-run dinger to Jason Bay, but that doesn’t mean using Wood to try to maintain the tie wasn’t the right move.)

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2010 free agent overload?

January 15, 2009

Joel Sherman said on XM’s Home Plate station this morning that there remain over 100 free agents without jobs. If a large number of these players end up going into February without deals, is it possible that most of the remainder get 1-year contracts? Players may want to hold out rather than sign a depressed-value multi-year contract, with the hope that the economy will recover and they can earn more per year in a deal starting in 2010.¬†Could we see a huge number of FAs in 2010 if this signing pattern occurred?

Right now, the big ticket players expected to be on the market in 2010 look to be John Lackey, Matt Holliday, and Jason Bay. Lackey and Bay are negotiating extensions now, and are expected to work out deals with their current teams (Angels and Red Sox). If the economy stays the same or only gets marginally better, Matt Holliday could be in trouble. With the Red Sox out of the market (full outfield with Bay, Ellsbury, and Drew), Holliday and Boras will have a hard time driving up Holliday’s price if the current crop of all-hit, no-field outfielders (Dunn, Abreu, perhaps even Manny) end up trying their luck again on the market. Holliday is probably a more valuable player than these other options, but cheap alternatives will likely prevent teams from paying huge premiums for marginal improvement and increased risk from a multi-year contract.