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Saturday, June 12, 2004

THAT CASE STUDY THING AGAIN

Another month (I know it's been more than that) and it's time to take another look at the progress of one Adrian Beltre. To recap, the theory or query, which I had dealt with whether or not Beltre would miraculously recover his plate patience/discipline and be productive because of the emphasis that the DePodesta regime would place on those aspects of baseball. When April came to a close and May was opening, it looked like Beltre was just going to swing at everything and hit it hard and be successful that way. Well, baseball doesn't usually work like that, and since Beltre has cooled off considerably. However, as his overall production has gone down, his walk rate has picked up.

The first line is Adrian Beltre's combined 2001 to 2003 numbers, the second is his April 2004 production, and the third is his production since May 1st. Since his hot start, Beltre has cooled down, but is still producing at a level superior to the level of performance he had established in the previous 3 years. He is doing this with a solid walk to strikeout ratio and an increased walk rate. Because of that, I feel fairly confident that he can perform at his post May level into the All Star Break. Generally, Beltre heats up after the All Star Break; so keeping this in mind Beltre may produce the first .900 OPS of his career, in his 7th major league season at the age of 25. Back in 1998 I doubt anyone would have thought it would take this long.

NASTY RUMORS

So I woke up this morning and was doing my usual rounds of the baseball websites when I stumbled across a link to this. If the Mets were to trade "the next Scott Rolen"* or "the next Billy Wagner"** for Alfonso Soriano, that would be an incredibly stupid move. Prospects can be traded, sure, but when trading prospects, you have to make sure you get a fair return. Alfonso Soriano is not a fair return for either.

Ok, so Player B isn't as much Player B as "he" is Players B. Anyway, as those numbers show, Player A is only slightly better than Player B. Player A is Alfonso Soriano, and Player B is the average major league 2B. Those figures are not park adjusted by the way, which figure to close the gap between the two. So without taking defense into account, Alfonso Soriano, who has thus far in his career been about an average defender, has been a marginal upgrade on a league average 2B, and this is the guy the Mets are rumored to be trading one of their top prospects for. If that is the case, they must have some gaping hole or problem that Soriano would solve, right?

  • Soriano: .289/.333/.442/.260 (AVG/OBP/SLG/GPA) .982/5.03/.786 (FP%/RF/ZR)
  • Ty Wigg: .277/.316/.484/.263 (AVG/OBP/SLG/GPA) .984/4.99/.849 (FP%/RF/ZR)

Before I go any further, I will state that yes, I realize that the small sample size caveat must be applied here considering Ty Wigginton has played slightly over a 100 innings of 2B this year and that there is a lot of season left to be played. That being said, Ty Wigginton has thus far outperformed Alfonso Soriano offensively, while playing in a park much less conducive to hitting, and outperformed him defensively. This is the same Ty Wigginton who will lose his 2B job to Jose Reyes as soon as Reyes returns from the DL. Sometimes, I wonder about either the guys who make these rumors up, Newsday is almost a tabloid, or the front-office guys who think these moves are intelligent. Then again, the Mets are the same organization that signed Kaz Matsui and moved Jose Reyes to 2B.

*At first I reluctantly considered the whole hype about David Wright being the next Scott Rolen, but at this point, I am a believer. Here is what both players did/have done, as 21-year-olds playing in the AA Eastern League, Rolen in 230 at bats and Wright in 218:

  • Rolen: .361/1:6.76/1.06:1/39.8% (BA/BB:AB/BB:K/XBH%)
  • Wright: .362/1:6.06/0.92:1/46.8% (BA/BB:AB/BB:K/XBH%)

So Wright is hitting for the same average, but walking and striking out more with a lot more power. Oh yeah, he also has 19 stolen bases with just 6 caught stealing and projects as a Gold Glove defender. Were it not for that Upton fellow in Durham, Wright would be hands down the best prospect in baseball and as such he should be untouchable. This is the type of player you build around, not entertain trade talks with.

**The article also tries to insinuate that Scott Kazmir has been disappointing. In a way, he has, because he has only totaled 21.2 innings, but this is not a major issue. Kazmir has battled injury problems, but not of the "TINSTAAPP" variety. Rather, Kazmir has had ribcage issues, which have kept him out most of the time, and when they have not kept him out, they have hindered his performance. So I would put little to no stock in Kazmir's less than stellar performance, but rather focus on the dominant pitcher he has proven to be in the past, and certainly would not entertain trading him for what amounts to an average 2B. At worse, Kazmir is a dominant reliever, at best, he is a tiny Randy Johnson, and I think that's worth more than Alfonso Soriano.

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