09 January 2006

Brewers Stuff, Hall of Fame Looming...

Well the Milwaukee Brewers made a really nice move yesterday (for those not recalling, I decided to make the Brewers my 2006 NL team), acquiring in a trade from Toronto 3B Corey Koskie in exchange for mL Brian Wolfe.

Koskie is entering his age 33 season, and will take over the full time 3B role, making one of either Bill Hall or Russell Branyan available in trade (most likely Branyan- Hall's flexibility make him more valuable to the team). The trade is sort of a mixed bag- on the one hand, he's a clear upgrade from what they had there going into the season. He was acquired for relatively little (Wolfe doesn't project to much- this was a salary dump over a position logjam in Toronto), plays very good defense, has good discipline and some power.

The bad news is that he's expensive, a little old, increasingly brittle, and coming off the worst full season of his major league career. If Toronto hadn't kicked in SOME money, the Brewers would have been likely overpaying. According to Cot's Baseball Contracts however, this is not the case:

  • Milwaukee to pay $4.25M ($2M/year 2006-07 & $0.25M in 08)

  • Toronto to pay $7.25M ($3.25M in 06, $3.75M in 07, $0.25M in 08)

  • $4.25M for three years of Corey Koskie is, to put it mildly, a great deal, especially for the Brewers. They were able to deal from a position of strength where Toronto had five players for three positions- Shea Hillenbrand, Corey Koskie, Eric Hinske, Lyle Overbay and Troy Glaus for 1B, 3B, and DH.

    Koskie is a mid-range BA hitter with a good BB rate (more on that later), a propensity for strikeouts and some decent power. His value is mostly tied into his OBP and his defense at 3B.

    BB Rates


    So, as you can see, Koskie peaked here in 2002/ 2003- his 28/ 29 year old seasons- then fell back down to earth. Koskie may actually rebound- coming off the turf that appears not to have done his legs too many favors over his career, he could have a rejuvenated season where he has a BB/PA rate of something like .115-.120 and gets on base in the .360 area. Considering his SLG hasn't dipped significantly (with the exception of 2005, when injured), it's fair to guess that he isn't declining yet. It is worth noting though that Koskie doesn't hit for enough power to be worth it if he's not getting on base. For him to be valuable, he needs to get the BBs up.

    Overall though, good trade.

    Here's how the Brewer depth chart is looking at the moment:

    [click picture to re-size]

    So the Hall of Fame inductees for 2006 are announced (I believe) tomorrow, and so I figured I'd play along like I usually do and offer my ballot for this year. The candidates being debated seriously (sorry, Willie McGee) are Jim Rice, Bruce Sutter, Goose Gossage, Alan Trammell, Andre Dawson, Albert Belle, Bert Blyleven, Lee Smith, Jack Morris and Otis Nixon (kidding).

    I would vote for Bert Blyleven, Alan Trammell and Goose Gossage. Two things in addition- I'm required as well, as always, to mention how it bugs me that Ron Santo isn't in the Hall, and that I hate Rich Gossage's fucking guts, and the footage of him telling Dick Williams in the 1984 World Series that he can get Kirk Gibson out, followed by a back-breaking 3R HR always makes me happy deep, deep down.

    BUT- the people choosing Sutter over Gossage are just flat out wrong. It doesn't make sense. The argument usually mentions his dominance and his inventing a pitch (the splitter).

    Here's the thing though- he wasn't dominant for long enough (like Gossage), and he didn't "invent" the splitter. From The Neyer/ James Book of Pitching:

    Split-Fingered Fastball, a.k.a. Splitter. Invented by Fred Martin, perfected by Bruce Sutter in the 1970s, and popularized by Roger Craig in the early '80s, the splitter looks to the hitter like a fastball until it takes an abrupt dip...[A]ccording to Sutter, "The way Martin taught it and I threw it, the pitch isn't the same as a forkball. You threw it a lot harder. And the ball has spin on it . . . It's like a changeup except harder."

    Bruce Sutter and Rich Gossage are very similar in a lot of ways- they had a career ERA+ within 10 pts of one another (136 Sutter, 126 Gossage), both had over 300 SVs (300 Sutter, 310 Gossage), and had similar career ERAs (2.83 Sutter, 3.01 Gossage).

    The differences though, are what make and break their respective cases. Gossage doled out his dominance over a career 1809.1 IP- Sutter in 1042.1 IP. Gossage has nearly 800 more IP than Sutter, which is roughly 75% of his entire career. Sutter had a career peak of nine seasons, starting in his rookie year of 1976 and ending with a career year in 1984. In that nine season peak, Sutter had one bad year (1983- 84 ERA+), never had an ERA+ below 126. His career best was a 327 ERA+ (1.34 ERA in 1977) and threw 889.2 IP at a 2.54 ERA.

    Gossage's career peak is eleven years long, starting in 1975 when he was with the White Sox and ending in 1985 with the Padres. In that span, Gossage had one poor year (1976- 90 ERA+), and no other season with an ERA+ below 123. His career best was a 465 ERA+ (0.77 ERA in 1981) and he threw 1198.1 IP at a 2.41 ERA.

    So there we see that Gossage had a longer and more dominant peak- which alone makes him the more valuable pitcher. Add to that as well the fact that Sutter had only three more seasons- period- and all with ERA+s under 100. Gossage, on the other hand, had nearly 700 more innings, 11 more seasons, 5 of which with ERA+s over 100.

    I'd take Gossage, and Sutter falls just short to me. As for Rice, a topic beaten to death on the internet and among Red Sox fans- he seems to personify the "debating the Hall of Fame" idea. He's RIGHT on the edge. His peak seasons were transcendent- but, he was helped very much by Fenway, was a poor defender, didn't get on base often enough, ate up a lot of outs, and was never as good as the "most feared" reputation has carried him. I'd be pumped if he got in though.

    Blyleven and Trammell won't get in, so I'll save my dissections of their merits for next year, when I vote for them again.

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