Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Trading For Victory

Every stathead has a few bizarre player fetishes. Here's my biggest one.

Using JC Romero's formula for ERA based on K/9, HR/9, BB/9, and batted ball type data, I ran two names using their 2004 data and the Dodgers' 2004 Defensive Efficiency Ratio of .711:

Player A: 3.75 ERA
Player B: 3.78 ERA

That small difference in ERA should be made up for by the fact that Player A's average opponent hit .256/.325/.407 and Player B's average opponent hit .259/.327/.417. Player A is 9 months younger than Player B.

Player A will probably make $7 million or more next season. Player B will make just over the league minimum.

Player A you know. His name is Odalis Perez. Player B is named Victor Santos, and he's property of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Santos was signed by Detroit out of the Dominican Republic in 1995. He improved solidly in his first several years of pro ball, and at age 22 he was impressive at double-A and looked like a solid prospect. Unfortunately, injury struck, and his 2000 season was wasted. I'd tell you what kind of injury struck, but I haven't found that info anywhere. In 2001, he began the season with the Tigers pitching long relief, and he did well, although his high walk rate was an ominous sign. In May, he was made a starter but didn't fare well. He was sent back to the pen and then down to AAA, where he made six unimpressive starts. The Tigers, so far as I can tell, decided he'd be better off as a reliever and called him back up. He finished the year with a 3.30 ERA in 76.1 innings.

In spring training, 2002, the Tigers flipped Santos to Colorado for Jose Paniagua. The Rockies decided to give Santos some time in Triple-A, which unfortunately meant going to Colorado Springs. Santos racked up a lot of K's in Colorado Springs and didn't surrender many walks, but fly ball pitchers simply don't fare well in that environment, and his 5.72 ERA showed it. The Rockies called him up after the Dennis Reyes trade (see the Konerko entry for more on that gem) and gave him some time out of the bullpen and two starts. Santos couldn't maintain his control, though, putting up a 7.6 BB/9, the major factor in his 10.38 ERA. When the season ended, Santos was released.

Santos ended up with the Rangers' organization in 2003. He played for most of the year in AAA Oklahoma, putting up a 3.41 ERA. He was called up in June and made four spot starts but was hammered pretty badly, posting an ugly 7.01 ERA. In December, he signed with the Brewers.

The Brewers started Santos in AAA Indianapolis and called him up to pitch out of the bullpen. In May, he was added to the rotation. Through July 31, he was doing great, with a 3.66 ERA and excellent peripherals. After that, though, his numbers started to look ugly. Upon closer examination, however, his late season swoon makes more sense. He did have one very bad start against the Mets in early August, but then faced Atlanta, Chicago, and then Philadelphia twice, three contending teams with good offenses, and had a 6.05 ERA in 22.1 IP. However, in those four starts he only gave up 12 BB and 3 HR while K'ing 20, certainly not excellent but not as bad as it looks. In his next start, he shut down the Pirates but developed a blister on his middle finger that cracked his nail, making it difficult for him to throw. He skipped his next start and then was awful in three of his last four starts, although he did dispense with the Cardinals in one of those starts. I think it's fair to argue that this final month, which came when he'd had a finger injury and occurred in the first season since 1999 that he'd pitched 150 innings in a season, is not a fair indicator of his true performance level.

Part of Santos' success was almost certainly Mike Maddux, who's pretty much universally regarded as an excellent pitching coach. Moreover, Santos doesn't have a history of pitching many innings in one season. I don't think either of those factors are strong enough to make me think Santos won't be capable of putting together a strong season in 2005.

The Brewers have several candidates for slots 3-5 in their rotation behind Ben Sheets and Doug Davis. Chris Capuano, Wes Obermuller, Ben Hendrickson, Jorge de la Rosa, and the newly-acquired Jose Capellan are all younger than Santos, and the Brewers, so far as I can tell, are pretty high on them all. The Brewers are in need of bullpen help after trading away Dan Kolb and Luis Vizcaino.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers have an elite closer in Eric Gagne, a promising set-up man in Yhency Brazoban, and will probably re-sign Wilson Alvarez, who has been excellent out of the bullpen. They've also got Duaner Sanchez, Giovanni Carrara, and Elmer Dessens and will see if they can get D.J. Houlton to stick on the roster. Even if Houlton doesn't stick, that's still six relievers, assuming neither Dessens or Alvarez are moved to the rotation.

So why not a Carrara and cash for Santos trade? I'm totally ridiculous, as you can tell, but darn it, I like this idea, and I'd love to see the Dodgers investigate it.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?