Monday, November 30, 2009

Room For Improvement: Fausto Carmona

Well, yeah. Pitchers, by VORP ascending:

Manny Parra, -23.9
Andy Sonnanstine, -20.1
Chien-Ming Wang, -18.7
Brad Lidge, -15.6
Fausto Carmona, -15.5

Now, Wang was injured and only made 9 starts, but packed a helluva lot of badness into those 9 starts. Brad Lidge you may have heard of. It's a bit amazing that Tampa kept letting Andy Sonnanstine wander out to the mound to post a 6.77 ERA and give up 11.83 H/9, but then, he WAS held to 18 starts.

Fausto got 24. Including right down to the wire, on Sept. 30.

Manny Parra, amazingly, went 11-11 for a bad Brewers club despite managing a 6.36 ERA. But Milwaukee doesn't have the deep well of outstanding young pitching that the Rays do: it makes sense that they'd keep trotting Parra out there. They had Jeff Suppan, Dave Bush, and Braden Looper in the rotation, fer crine out loud. In this sense, they were a lot like the Indians: what Carmona needed as much as anything else was bulk innings against major-league hitters, and once he came back from the Instructional League, the Tribe was clearly out of playoff contention, so what could it hurt? What, he's blocking Matt Ginter?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Room For Improvement: Grady Sizemore

In looking at the players for whom I can reasonably project significant improvement, I was fully expecting to come up with a pitcher in the #1 slot. In the #2 slot, I expected a pitcher. However, in the #3 slot, I figured it would be someone different, like perhaps a pitcher.

Really, it's hard to argue that the Indians should focus any of their attention on anything other than pitching. The pitching was atrocious last season. The starters (non-Cliff Lee Department) may have been awful, but at least they didn't throw enough innings to save the dismal bullpen. Think about this: of all the pitchers on the roster who weren't traded away for a bag of chicken livers, Aaron Laffey's 10.9 VORP was the highest. Really, this isn't bad for Laffey: he's still very young, missed some time with an injury, and posted a solid (if a bit lucky) 4.44 ERA. If you need 5 pitchers in your rotation, Aaron Laffey can absolutely be one of them. This isn't about Laffey: it's about the fact that Laffey is the most valuable pitcher on the team. That simply won't do.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Room for Improvement: Intro

This is my first post in the Brave New World, so bear with me here.

I don't think it's a statement of Great Earth-Shattering Controversy to say that the Cleveland Indians need to do a lot of things better to have a more successful season. The team lost 97 games, fer crine out loud. This was a bad baseball team. To say it needs to improve is kind of like saying, "Oxygen is helpful" or "Teletubbies are creepy." When you lose 97 games, improvement is necessary. No team loses 97 games solely through "bad breaks." They lose 97 games because there is a fair amount of suckage.

In Cleveland in 2009, this suckage took many forms, a majority of which took the guise of men throwing baseballs from the pitcher's mound. In an effort to quantify exactly where we as fans might reasonably expect improvement, though, I went to Baseball Prospectus' Team Audit for the Indians. The idea here is to identify players who can reasonably be expected to improve their VORP (Value Over Replacement Player) in 2010.