Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A two-hitter that doesn't suck

Ron Gardenhire is going to bat a light-hitting middle infielder in the two spot of the line-up. There is nothing you, nor I, can do about it. It's like death and taxes, or whatever. It hasn't been easy, but I've come to terms with this. Now I'm moving on. The best thing we can do is find the best light-hitting middle infielder we can to bat second.

Felipe Lopez is good. We should get him. Other teams, however, are probably thinking the same thing. So he might get too expensive. Let's explore all our options.

And by all our options I MEAN LUIS CASTILLO!!!!!! I wish there was a crescendo button on the keyboard. Because I really wanted to start out small and kind of build up to an all caps "Luis Castillo." I suppose I could have changed the font on each letter so they got bigger and bigger. That would have taken way too much time. Clearly, I have much better things to do. Anyway, I'm not kidding about him. I love that guy. And it's no secret that the Mets really want to trade him (just pretend I linked to something that elaborates on this).

You say you like a high OBP in your two hitter? And who doesn't. Well, Castillo has that in spades, Mister. His OBP was .387 last year. That's better than your Polanco, Lopez, or Hudson. Castillo can also steal you 20 bases and move runners over until Gardy is satiated.

Possible negatives for trading for Castillo? NONE! Well, a couple. A trade means we have to give something up. Last time he was traded (ah, yeah from us to the Mets) it was for Dustin Martin and Drew Butera. So now that Castillo is a couple years older, it would take less than that to trade for him this time. Yes, less than Martin and Butera.

Some might also be worried about Castillo's contract. I mean, if the Mets -- a big market franchise -- want his contract off their books, it must be big. Well, it's two more years at $6 million per year. In comparison, the Phillies signed Polanco (who's the same age as Castillo) for $6 million a year, but for three years.

Polanco, of course, does better at the UZRs, which is the stat for defense. By the way, It's been interesting to see how much UZR has quickly inserted its way into the vernacular of heady baseball fans. And this is true for most sabermetric stats, but I don't think I have seen any become more commonplace in such a short period of time than UZR. I suspect this is due to the huge void that mainstream defensive stats leave.

Every time I see the little graphic on tv that shows a player's fielding percentage, I yell at my stuffed animals, "Some guy actually got paid to design this graphic to show the viewing public this bullshit stat that no one has ever cared about?!?!"

It should be remembered, however, that the range run element of UZR has quite a large subjective influence. As far as I know, there are no laser sensors on the field that compute the zone in which a player fielded a ball. There are no GPS sensors in players' gloves that give precises data on which zone a player fielded a ball. These are, however, good ideas. If these things ever happen, remember that it was old Soup that had the idea first. Also, if in the future, toilet tank lids have hinges on them...well, that was my idea too. Anyway, I invite sabrmaticians to tell me I'm an idiot for being wrong on this, but most range-type stats are created by dudes that watch games and estimate where players make plays. Granted, these dudes probably have a lot of practice and are quite good at knowing their trade.

So, I bring all this up to ask, "What the hell is going on with Placido Polanco's UZR?" Here is his UZR from 2003 to 2009:

2003: 16.2
2004: -1.6
2005: 11.1
2006: 5.6
2007: 9.2
2008: 2.1
2009: 11.4

Those are some pretty big gaps between years. It doesn't make a lot of sense for defense to slump this dramatically. Quickness doesn't slump. Speed doesn't slump. I think it's far more logical to assume that the UZR formula produces a wide variance of outcomes rather than assume Polanco has been a drastically different defender every other year of his career.

So, as Winston Churchill might say, "UZR is the worst defensive statistic except all the others that have been tried before it."

In conclusion, I like Luis Castillo more than I should. Who's with me?


haasertime said...

I think UZR got popular because people felt Derek Jeter had a nice f% and won a gold glove, despite bad range.

Also, the letters U, Z and R go together really well. UZR looks cool.

You should write one of these about Doug Mientkiewicz.

Anonymous said...

Yankees got Granderson today (and they can have him). Jimmy Leyland praised Granderson, saying (among other things) "He has a nice face." One could not say that about L. Castillo, so maybe old Soup should rethink this idea.


soup said...

I think UZR is the hip new cell phone all the kids are talking about...or a model of BMW or something.

Castillo has a perfectly fine face. God didn't make any mistakes on that man.

Holmer said...

So there are no other words to create a real acronym? Are they going to start putting UZR on the backs of baseball cards?

I hear arguments against Castillo that claim, he's old, he runs oddly similar to Forrest Gump pre-brace removal, and that he just makes everything look so awkward. Soup has similar things to say of Vlad.

We aren't here to cast judgment on how he gets his job done, but that it gets done. Do mad scientists follow textbooks? Was Picaso's brush guided by some oracle?(Maybe it was) Do all monkeys climb trees the same way? How does my cellphone work? Is Joe Mauer a robot sent back through time? It doesn't matter. Put Luis in, close your eyes if you have to, and the numbers will be there.(Double stamped, no erasies)

Anonymous said...

Boooof to the Red Sox! If they were still called the Beaneaters, Boof could be their middle reliever AND their mascot.