Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Little Blue Pill

Yep. Another Wang joke.

I was pretty vocal on twitter and the podcast a few weeks ago was Ross Detwiler was unceremoniously removed from the Nats Starting Rotation after just a few mediocre starts. I felt that the hook was too short and that we were simply seeing a pitcher go through a slump - Davey Johnson felt differently.

Let's take a look at Ross's struggles leading up to his demotion - specifically his last three starts:
- May 14th vs San Diego - 5 IP. 7 H. 5 R. 4 ER. 3 K. 1 BB. 37 Game Score.
- May 19th vs Baltimore - 5 IP. 9 H. 6 R. 6 ER. 3 K. 1 BB. 27 Game Score.
- May 25th vs Atlanta - 4.1 IP. 5 H. 3 R. 3 ER. 5 K. 4 BB. 42 Game Score.

Not a great showing, but we should look a bit deeper than that.
- May 14th - 1st run scored on an error. 3rd run scored as Sandy Leon's leg bent in a horrible direction. 4th run scored, after a steal of 3rd on a just-entering-the-game catcher, on a sacrifice.
- May 19th - No excuses. Just not good.
- May 25th - Ross was pulled from the game after retiring 5 of the previous 7 batters. A double and a walk with a 3-run lead was apparently too much for Davey. And it should be noted that the very first pitch from Wang went for a 2-run double - both runs charged to Ross.

Alright - so by no means was Detwiler lights out, but he certainly wasn't as bad as the numbers seem to indicate. It should also be noted that at the time of his departure from the Nats Rotation Detwiler still had a sub-4.00 ERA; 3.88.

Now. On to Wang.

Chien-Ming Wang has now thrown three starts in the 2012 season. Let's take a look at how he has fared:
- May 30th vs Miami - 4 IP. 7 H. 4 R. 4 ER. 4 K. 3 BB. 33 Game Score.
- June 7th vs New York - 5.1 IP. 8 H. 2 R. 2 ER. 1 K. 3 BB. 42 Game Score.
- June 12th vs Toronto - 5 IP. 5 H. 2 R. 2 ER. 5 K. 5 BB. 51 Game Score.

Not very good either. Now, it seems to stand to reason that Wang is improving with each start - but 5 innings really isn't going to cut it. Initial indications are that both pitchers haven't been great as of late but...

Here is where we are really going to see their true colors...

Let's check out their stats for the year (as starters only):
Wang - 5.02 ERA. 6.40 FIP. 2.093 WHIP. .339 BAA. 0.91 SO/BB. -0.4 WAR.
Detwiler - 3.88 ERA. 3.57 FIP. 1.274 WHIP. .254 BAA. 2.40 SO/BB. 0.5 WAR.

Not only does Detwiler have better stats (by far) than Chien-Ming Wang, he is also younger, left-handed, and has a far higher upside than a 32 year-old recovering from major shoulder surgery.

Wang needs to be replaced by Detwiler, it is a no brainer.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Trade Reaction

Gio Gonzalez got an early Christmas present this previous year, as he was traded away from the middling Athletics to the up-and-coming Nationals just two days before the holiday. It was a landscape-shifting trade in the NL East as it gave the Nationals an All-Star caliber pitcher to match the Phenom (Strasburg) and Mr. Underrated (Zimmermann) - a force that would challenge the Phillies rotation for supremacy. In doing so, the Nationals gave up a hefty price, 4 of the Nationals top prospects, 2 of which appeared in the top 60 of Baseball America's Top 100 list. We've now reached the quarter pole of the 2012 season and it's time to check in on the performance of these 5 players.

Gio Gonzalez - MLB - Nationals
10 Starts. 7-1 Record. 2.04 ERA. 1.94 FIP. 0.94 WHIP. 11.53 K/9. 2.4 WAR.

What more can we say about this guy? Career bests in WHIP, K/9, ERA, BB/9, HR/9, and BAA. He is on pace for a 7.0+ WAR season. All concerns about his control issues have, so far, been unfounded. All concerns about how he is a different pitcher outside of Oakland have, so far, been unfounded. Barring a standard Nats injury, Gio is destined to be one of the Nats (several?) representatives to the All-Star Game.

Tom Milone - MLB - Athletics
10 Starts. 6-4 Record. 3.64 ERA. 4.19 FIP. 1.13 WHIP. 4.90 K/9. 0.7 WAR.

Milone was definitely a more polished pitcher than his colleague, Brad Peacock, but with far less upside. At the time of the trade he was certainly MLB-ready and his control is going to play very well in the Oakland Mausoleum... errr... Coliseum. So far this year he has seen his K-rates decrease and his BB-rates increase, not something you want to see from a pitcher in a pitcher-friendly ballpark in an AL division (see: DH).

Brad Peacock - AAA - Sacramento River Cats  
10 Starts. 6-2 Record. 4.91 ERA. 3.15 FIP. 1.45 WHIP. 8.35 K/9.

Peacock has a higher ceiling than Milone, but he was also a bit less polished - having only made 9 AAA starts in his career. As you can see by his FIP, his ERA is quite deceiving as opponents have a .353 BABIP against him. The only thing that is concerning about Peacock's performance is that his WHIP sits at a career high. Peacock will be joining the A's rotation soon.

Derek Norris - AAA - Sacramento River Cats
44 Games. .287/.324/.503. 11 2B. 7 HR. 32 RBI.

In a shocking turn of events, Derek Norris, upon moving to the Billy Beane "Moneyball" A's, has seemingly abandoned his OBP prowess to hit for more power. Not being an insider, I have no idea whether this is an organizational philosophy forced upon him to swing more or a personal decision. That being said, Norris currently possesses the lowest OBP of his career and the highest SLUG since A+ Potomac. I am curious to see how long the A's stick with Kurt Suzuki with his .204/.244/.260 slashline before they call up Norris to play everyday.

A.J. Cole - A+/A - Stockton Ports/Burlington Bees
Combined - 10 Starts. 1-7 Record. 7.16 ERA. 1.82 WHIP. 8.1 K/9

Wow. This has been a two months to forget for the young 20 year-old Floridian. Cole was hit-or-miss for the Hagerstown Suns last year but always seemed to flash the brilliance enough times to be the main piece of this trade (and the piece that Nats fans fear the most). He began the year in A+ Stockton and struggled so much he earned a demotion to A Burlington. Although Cole is very young I think that it is time to start worrying that he won't be able to put it together in the long run - he has a career ERA over 5, career WHIP over 1.4. The only saving grace is that he is still missing bats; 8.1 K/9 this year.

My initial impressions of this trade after a few months of action are that this is going to turn out to be a win-win trade - both teams are going to get exactly what they needed. The Nats got an All-Star pitcher to enhance their chances for success in 4 year window. The A's got some salary relief of an All-Star while stockpiling inexpensive quality players with upside - Cole having the most upside.

It's rare in this day to see a trade that works for both teams, and although it is incredibly early to judge this trade, it appears as though this could be one of those deals. It sure is working for the Nationals so far!