Sunday, July 31, 2011

Billy Bails

The 2011 MLB trade deadline has come and gone and even though the A's are going nowhere Billy Beane only made one move, sending relief pitcher Brad Ziegler to the Diamondbacks for a couple prospects. It may turn out to be a great move but the fact is the A's could have done so much more. Hideki Matsui, Coco Crisp, Rich Harden, Josh Willingham, David DeJesus, and Brandon McCarthy are all free agents at the end of the year and are unlikely to return. I for one was hoping for a complete fires ale of all players not under club control beyond this year but either Billy thinks he'd rather see what these guys have so he can gauge resigning them or the rest of baseball is scared. The A's did have a deal in place to send Rich Harden to the Red Sox but that fell through when the Sox got spooked. Maybe they saw a preview for the Moneyball movie and remembered how Billy fleeced so many other teams in the past.

So without much to analyze this year let's take a look back. Not all the way back, I don't want to ruin the movie for you so let's look at the post-Moneyball trades and see how good Billy has been. Some people have looked at the A's struggles since 2006 and scoffed that the Moneyball ideals don't work anymore. Of course this is complete buffoonery since the stats so revered in Moneyball (i.e. OPS) are now driving huge salaries in New York and Boston. Of course what the Moneyball philosophy is really about is finding out what people aren't paying huge money for and trying to get that skill on the cheap. In recent years in Oakland that's meant a return to valuing speed and defense, exactly the skills overvalued prior to the release of Moneyball.

So, how has our man Billy done since everyone found out how smart he is? Below is a break down of the major trades Billy's made since, and including, breaking up Oakland's vaunted Big Three back in 2004. The chart looks at three measures of player value, On-base Plus Slugging (OPS_ for hitters, Walks and Hits per Inning Pitched (WHIP) for pitchers and Wins Above Replacement (WAR) for both. For context here's how career OPS looks for three hitters, two are very good and one is famously bad:

Barry Bonds: 1.051
Albert Pujols: 1.041
Mario Mendoza: .507

You probably know Bonds and Pujols are great hitters. Mendoza is the name sake of "The Mendoza Line" which represents a .200 batting average.

For more context here's the WHIP numbers for three pitchers, again, two very good and one very bad.

Cy Young: 1.130
Sandy Koufax: 1.106
Vin Mazzaro 1.630

Cy Young is the guy they named the Cy Young award after. Sandy Koufax is someone you should look up if you don't know who he is. Vin Mazzaro recently had two of the worst days a pitcher has ever had. First he gave up 14 runs in 2.1 innings and was sent to the minors. It was statistcally the worst game ever pitched by anyone in the majors ever. For the year Mazzaro's WHIP sits at 2.137 which is just gawd awful.

I think the WAR stat is the most instructive here as it tells us what the stats meant in terms of each player contributing wins to the club over multiple seasons.

The chart is a little funky, each time you see an indent and a player's name and stats it means the indented player was traded for the player above him.  Each player blurb reads like this:

Name Name Pos:
-What they did the year(s) before the trade (and at what level)
-What they did after the trade (Comment)

For example, let's look at a trade that did not work out well for Oakland even if you figure the player, Tim Hudson, wasn't going to resign with the A's.

Tim Hudson SP:
-6 years, 92-39, 1240.2 IP, 3.30 ERA WAR 28.9
-7 years, 79-54, 1147.2 IP, 3.54 ERA WAR 19.5 (Still in ATL)

  • Charles Thomas OF:
  • -1 year, 267 PA, .288 AVG WAR 2.1
  • -1 year, 55 PA, .109 AVG WAR –0.2 (Last Appearance, out of baseball)
  • JD Closser C:
  • -2006, 112 PA, .196 AVG WAR -0.1
  • -No Appearances for Oakland (In minors elsewhere)
  • Juan Cruz RP:
  • -2004, 6-2, 75 IP, 2,75 ERA WAR 1.1
  • -1 year, 0-3, 32.2 IP, 7.44 ERA WAR –1.1 (Doing OK elsewhere)
  • Brad Halsey SP:
  • -2005, 8-12, 160 IP, 4.61 ERA WAR -0.1
  • -1 year, 5-4, 94.1 IP, 4.67 ERA WAR 0.4 (Last Appearance, in minors elsewhere)

Dan Meyer RP:
-2004, 9-6, 126.1 IP, 2.49 ERA (Minors)
-2 years, 0-6, 44.0 IP, 7.98 ERA WAR –1.8 (Journeyman, in minors elsewhere)

So how do we read this?  Well, Hudson did well enough in 6 years in Oakland that he likely helped the team win almost 29 extra games over that span, roughly 5 games/year.  In return the A's got three guys, plus two guys from a subsequent trade who combined to help them lose a combined 2.7 (negative WAR means the player is costing you wins) extra games over the next two years.  Essentially the A's would have been better off keeping Hudson in 2005 and then letting him walk.  In the meantime Hudson has continued to be pretty darn good for Atlanta helping them win almost 3 extra games/year compared to an average replacement player.

Now, let's look at a much more complicated but also much more successful trade, Mark Mulder:

Mark Mulder SP:
-5 years, 81-42, 1003 IP, 3.92 ERA, WHIP 1.284, WAR 17.5
-4 years, 22-18, 311 IP, 5.04 ERA, WHIP 1.531, WAR –1.4 (Last Appearance, out of baseball)
Kiko Calero RP:
-2004, 3-1, 45.1 IP, 2.78 ERA, WHIP .816, WAR 0.8
-4 years 8-8, 159 IP, 3.96 ERA, WHIP 1.321, WAR 1.8 (Journeyman, out of baseball)

Daric Barton 1B:
-2004, 393 PA, .313 AVG, .956 OPS (Minors)
-5 years, 1765 PA, .252 AVG, .740 OPS, WAR 6.2 (Recently sent down to minors)

Dan Haren SP:
-2004, 3-3, 46 IP, 4.50 ERA, WHIP 1.348, WAR 0.1
-3 years,  37-26, 662 IP, 3.64 ERA, WHIP 1.212, WAR 11.7 (Doing well)
Brett Anderson SP:
-2007, 11-7, 120.1 IP, 3.07 ERA, WHIP 1.564 (Minors)
-3 years, 21-23, 371 IP, 3.66 ERA, WHIP 1.267, WAR 5.9 (Doing OK)

Chris Carter 1B/LF:
-2007, 545 PA, .291 AVG, .906 OPS (Minors)
-2 years, 79 PA, .183 AVG, .573 OPS, WAR –0.7 (Prospect)

Dana Eveland RP:
-2007, 1-0, 5 IP, 14.40 ERA, WHIP 2.60, WAR –0.4
-2 years, 11-13, 212 IP, 4.92 ERA, WHIP 1.627, WAR 0.8 (Last Appearance, in minors elsewhere)

Aaron Cunningham OF:
-2007, 573 PA, .308 AVG, .885 OPS, (Minors)
-2 years, 144 PA, .211 AVG, .609 OPS, WAR –0.6 (Meh)

Kevin Kouzmanoff 3B:
-2009, 529 PA, .255 AVG, .722 OPS, WAR 1.1
-2 years, 735 PA, .242 AVG, .666, WAR 0.6 (Sent to minors due to bad defense)

Eric Sogard IF:
-2009, 530 PA, .293 AVG, .771 OPS (Minors)
-1 year, 9 PA, .429 AVG, .984 OPS, WAR 0.0 (Still in Minors)

Carlos Gonzalez CF:
-2007 547 PA, .288 AVG, .814 OPS (Minors)
-1year, 316 PA, .242 AVG, .634 OPS, WAR 1.1 (3rd in MVP 2010 for Colorado)
Greg Smith SP:
-2007, 9-5, 122 IP, 3.54, WHIP 1.510 (Minors)
-1 year,  7-16, 190.1 IP, 4.16 ERA, WHIP 1.345, WAR 2.0 (In minors elsewhere)

Matt Holliday LF:
-2008, 623 PA, .321 AVG, .947 OPS, WAR 4.8
-1 year, 400 PA, .286 AVG, .831 OPS, WAR 2.4 (Doing well for Cards)

Shane Peterson OF:
-2009, 571 PA, .288 AVG, .768 OPS (Minors)
-Still in minors

Brett Wallace 3B:
-2009, 600 PA, .293 AVG, .822 OPS (Minors)
-No Appearances for Oakland now in majors with Houston
            Michael Taylor OF:
            -2009, 491 PA, .320 AVG, .850 OPS (Minors)
-Still in minors

Clayton Mortensen SP:
-2009, 0-0, 3 IP, 6.00 ERA, WHIP 2.00, WAR –0.3
-2 years, 2-4, 33.2 IP, 7.22 ERA, WHIP 1.693, WAR –1.0 (Meh)
            Ethan Hollingsworth SP:
-2010, 12-8, 170.2 IP, 3.31 ERA, WHIP 1.839 (Minors)
-Still in minors

So, Mark Mulder who in five seasons in Oakland was worth 17.5 extra wins all on his own, an average of 3.5 wins/year goes to St Louis and costs them roughly a game and a half over four injury plagued years.  In return the A's got Daric Barton, Kiko Calero, and Dan Haren, a direct combined WAR value of 19.7 over the last seven years.  Just with that the A's clearly win this trade and Billy's a good GM.  But the fun doesn't stop there because Haren (and a couple other spare parts) was turned into the fantastic haul of Brett Anderson, Chris Carter, Aaron Cunningham, Dana Eveland, Carlos Gonzalez and Greg Smith who contributed another 8.5 Wins Above Replacement.  But wait!  There's More!  Aaron Cunningham became Kevin Kouzmanoff and Eric Sogard and another 0.6 wins.  CarGo and Greg Smith became Matt Holliday's 2.4 wins for half of 2009.  Trading Holliday actually cost a win no thanks to Clay Mortensen but it also gave s Brett Wallace who became Michael Taylor who should be up in Oakland the September.  All told the Mulder deal netted the A's 30 wins over what they would have gotten from your average players over that time plus prospects.  If you factor in avoiding the losses Mulder incurred that's a net of almost 35 extra wins over the last seven seasons.  WINNING!

OK, I think that's good for now.  Next post we'll break down the Rich Harden and Joe Blanton trades.

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