Wednesday, February 29, 2012

5 comments Bleacher Report: Looking at 3 Terrible Articles

I have three articles I am going to write about today from Bleacher Report. I don't necessarily enjoy picking on writers from Bleacher Report, but sometimes I just can't help it. Many of the articles I write about from Bleacher Report highlight the many things wrong with the site. Excessive lists, "bold" predictions, or a summary of a story from another site all are negative aspects of Bleacher Report. Sometimes I run across lists and articles so asinine I just can't ignore them. For example, the title of the first one is "MLB: The All-Unfilled Potential Team." I never have heard the word "unfilled potential." I always thought it was "unfulfilled potential." So this article immediately piqued my interest and then it just absolutely delivered on it's potential to be written about on this blog.

Let's look at the definition of unfulfilled potential.

"of persons; marked by failure to realize full potentialities; "unfulfilled and uneasy men"; "unrealized dreams and ambitions"

So clearly, the definition of whether a player reached his full potential can be a matter of opinion, but it is also unfair to say a player who has reached some measure of success has unfulfilled potential simply because you think the player should be better than he is. Does LeBron James have unfulfilled potential? Probably, but he shouldn't be on this list.

Had I written this article a year ago, Matt Kemp would have made my team. However, he had a monster season in 2011 and is now miles away from being considered an underachiever.

One good season means a player no longer has unfulfilled potential! Go back to just being a really good baseball player now Matt Kemp and you could find yourself right back on this list next year.

Inclusion on this list can be easily erased if the player has a stellar season in 2012.

One good season takes you off the list and puts you on the list of players who have fulfilled potential. Unfortunately as we will find out, one bad season puts you back on the list. Unfulfilled potential lists are fickle bitches. Really a player's inclusion or exclusion depends entirely on the last season's performance.

Catcher: Chris Iannetta

Iannetta appeared ready for stardom in 2008 when he hit .264 with 18 home runs and 65 RBIs. His OBP was .390 and OPS was an extremely strong .895.

Iannetta was a fourth round draft pick as a college catcher. How does a fourth round pick have tons of unfulfilled potential? I think Iannetta is playing as well as I would expect a fourth round pick who is a college catcher would play.

In the three seasons following his breakout year, Iannetta's batting average fell to .228 in 2009, .197 in 2010 and then slightly back up to .238 in 2011.

Iannetta hit .238/.370/.414 with 14 home runs this year. He had 70 walks to 89 strikeouts. He played well. Don't be a slave to batting average, it can mislead you.

Iannetta is a good defensive catcher, so there is no concern with him behind the plate.

So Iannetta is an above average hitter for a catcher and plays good defense...sound about like a 4th round pick to you? How does he have unfulfilled potential?

1st base: Justin Morneau

When a player has four consecutive seasons of over 100 RBI, it's hard to say there is unfilled potential there.

Then let's not say this and move on. Morneau was injured last year. Prior to that year he had four All-Star appearances and an MVP to his credit. How can one good year take a player off the list of players with unfulfilled potential, but one bad year in a career of great performances puts a player back on the list?

The answer: It can't. Morneau may never be the same player, but he fulfilled his potential when he was healthy.

Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez

He won the Rookie of the Year award in 2006 and had four consecutive seasons hitting over .300 with over 20 home runs, from 2007-2010.


At the age of 27, when he should be in the prime of his career, Ramirez had the worst season of his life.

So how does one bad year cancel out five previous seasons of great play? What in the hell do you expect Ramirez's potential to be? His career splits are .306/.380/.506. He's averaging 25 home runs and 83 RBI's in a 162 game season. If that's not meeting his potential, then I don't know what is.

Outfield: Jason Heyward

Of course he is on the list. He's 22 years old and hasn't hit his potential yet. What's he waiting on? Being in the majors for more than two years? Two full seasons without injury issues? I don't know if Heyward will ever hit his potential if he hasn't hit it by the age of 22.

Whether it was a sophomore slump or more of an indicator that opposing pitchers had adjusted to Heyward, he had a poor 2011.

Heyward hit just .227 with 14 home runs and 42 RBI, last year. His OPS decreased to .708.

So one good year as a 21 year old and one bad year (with injuries) as a 22 year old and a player has unfulfilled potential? If this is the standard, do you know who else should be on this list? Every minor league player and any MLB player who hasn't been in the majors longer than two years.

Outfielder: Carl Crawford

Carl Crawford ended the 2010 season with the Tampa Bay Rays with a .307 batting average, 19 home runs and 90 RBI. He also stole 47 bases and scored 110 runs.

He was an All-Star, a Gold Glove winner and recipient of a Silver Slugger award.

Well, that could very well be his potential. So Crawford doesn't have unfulfilled potential, he just has seen his potential. Crawford just needs to put up those same numbers in this upcoming season. At the age of 30, what does the author expect Crawford to do that he hasn't done already?

Pitcher: Ubaldo Jimenez

Prior to his trade in late July, Jimenez was 6-9 with a 4.46 ERA and 1.374 WHIP.

In 11 starts with the Indians, Jimenez went 4-4 with an ERA of 5.10 and WHIP of 1.454. Jimenez has a live arm and electric stuff, but seemed to lose command inside the strike zone last season.

He was an undrafted free agent and has had one bad season in his four years in the majors. I would give him more than one bad year before saying he had unfulfilled potential. That's just me though.

Now we are going to an article/slideshow from Bleacher Report about the 13 biggest contract steals of the offseason. Off to the slideshow!

Yet, from a fan's standpoint, I don't really see what all the hubbub over certain contracts is all about. Some are screaming overpaid, when in reality, the contract in question is quite a steal.

Take C.J. Wilson, now of the Los Angeles Angels. According to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times, the lanky lefty was looking for a deal in the $100 million range. When push came to shove, Wilson signed for much less than that.

So because C.J. Wilson had unreal expectations of what he was worth on the market that makes him a steal? This is idiotic thinking. A pitcher's own biased perception of his worth on the free agent market doesn't mean what he eventually receives on the free agent market makes him a steal. If Jimmy Rollins wants a 5 year deal for $150 million, it doesn't mean if he gets 3 years at $42 million he is just a fantastic deal. A contract doesn't become a steal because the market doesn't bear what a player feels he is worth.

Bartolo Colon

He is an overweight 39 year old pitcher who had his best year since 2005. I'm not so confident he can duplicate his success from 2011.

Now, entering free agency again, one would think that a solid comeback year would warrant another one-year deal worth at least $4 million. Instead, surely taking Colon's age (he turns 39 in May) and conditioning into consideration, the Oakland A's signed him for $2 million.

Oh, well because Colon's contract exceeded your expectations of what he should receive on the free agent market he is quite the steal. Nothing like pulling a Bill Simmons and using your own opinion as empirical evidence that proves you are right. This is like citing your own opinion in support of your opinion.

Casey Kotchman

Most first basemen today are power hitters with the ability to hit 30-plus home runs a year and also hit for a decent average.

Yes, most first basemen today are power hitters who can hit 30 home runs and hit for a good average. Most first basemen in the majors can do this. Let's see if this is true.

In 2011, twelve total first basemen hit over .270 last year and seven first basemen hit over 30 home runs. Five first basemen had 30 home runs and hit above .270 last year.

In 2010, eight first basemen hit 30 home runs and nine first basemen hit over .270. Five first basemen had 30 home runs and hit above .270.

In 2009, eighteen first basemen hit over .270 and twelve first basemen hit over 30 home runs. Nine first basemen had 30 home runs and hit above .270.

So I wouldn't exactly say "most" first basemen can hit for a decent average and hit 30 home runs. Over the past three years 19 first basemen hit this arbitrary marker. Does this mean Kotchman isn't a steal? No, it means I like to nitpick when words like "most" or "all" are thrown around and this isn't true.

Jason Kubel

He hit .282 with 61 home runs and 246 RBI in three full seasons at the Metrodome, compared to a .259 mark with 33 homers and 150 RBI in two years at the new stadium. As a result, it's not exactly surprising that he didn't receive a substantial raise from the $12.1 million he received from 2009-2011.

Ready for some fun with numbers? Kubel made $12.1 million over three years, which comes out to $4.03 million per year. Keep this number in mind.

This winter, the Diamondbacks enhanced their offense by signing Kubel for two years and $15 million, plus an option for a third year.

2 years at $15 million is $7.5 million per year. That's a 186% per year raise from his previous salary. That's not substantial? Just for fun, take what you earn right now in your job (if you have a permanent job as of yet) and then multiply it by 186%. Would you consider that to be a substantial raise? I would.

It's a good contract for him, but far less than what I would have expected.

What the hell were you expecting a (soon to be) 30 year old guy with a career line of .272/.335/.459 to receive? Jason Kubel is in no way a bad hitter, but I think $7.5 million per year sounds about right for him.

C.J. Wilson

As I mentioned in the introduction, C.J. Wilson entered the offseason looking for a $100 million deal, preferably over five years.

Wilson's expectations of what he should receive in the free agent market isn't to be used as the basis for whether he was a steal or not. This is illogical.

He got his five-year contract, but it was for $77.5 million with the Los Angeles Angels.

If a $22.5 million discount isn't a steal, then I don't know what is.

(Bengoodfella attempts to give self fatal paper cut wounds with an envelope)

It isn't a $22.5 million discount because Wilson was never worth $100 million. That was never the market value for Wilson. C.J. Wilson and his agent wanted $100 million, but if a team gave him $90 million that doesn't mean that team got a good deal nor did the team get a $10 million discount. A seller's expectation of the value of his service doesn't set the market for what his services are worth unless there is a person (or people) willing to pay that value. So C.J. Wilson wasn't signed at a discount.

Yu Darvish

Yu Darvish hasn't played one major league game yet, so there's no telling just how much of a steal he could be.

Well good. I'm glad he's #1 on your damn list as the majors biggest steal of the offseason then. That makes sense.

The Rangers ended up paying $111.7 million, and while that is over the $100 million mark, I wouldn't call it "well over."

Of course the author also thinks a raise of 186% isn't substantial and if a pitcher values himself at $200 million and then signs for $120 million a team is getting a great deal. So I am not entirely certain I would trust his opinion or ability to have perspective on a free agent contract.

Also, look at Darvish's career numbers in Japan. The guy went 93-38 with a 1.99 ERA and 0.98 WHIP with 1,259 strikeouts in just seven seasons. In MLB, a guy with those numbers would probably be earning upwards of $20 million.

Riiiiiiiiiiiight...but the author is also assuming Darvish's performance will be at this level against better American competition. That's a huge assumption to base Darvish's title as "a steal" off of. Any logical person knows these Japanese statistics will probably not translate directly to the majors. Darvish won't be putting up a 1.99 ERA in the majors for his career.

Instead, the Rangers are only paying him $10 million a year. Look up "steal" in the dictionary, and you'll see a picture of Darvish's contract next to his stats in Japan.

He would be a steal if he was still playing in Japan at $10 million per year. Considering he is now playing in the United States against better competition, this doesn't mean his Japanese statistics compared to his United States salary makes him a steal. This author needs a class on economics so he can understand the value of services on a free market. It is not advisable to project Darvish's statistics in Japan to the United States as a sign he is underpaid, just like it isn't advisable to project the statistics of a college player who gets selected in the Top 10 of the MLB Draft and call him a steal if he is given a $10 million signing bonus. Mostly, we should leave Darvish off all overpaid/underpaid lists until his first season in the majors has concluded.

The third article from the disaster that can be Bleacher Report is the 40 most overpaid players in MLB. The author primarily uses projected WAR (projected from where? I have no idea) for 2012 to determine whether a player is overpaid or not. I'm concerned I don't know where this projected WAR is coming from. Some of these players are in the latter stages of their last contract. Teams sometimes have a tendency to sign a player fully knowing they won't get the maximum value later in the contract, in the hopes the early years of the contract will provide value in excess of their contract.

Yu Darvish

2012 Cost: $56.7 million

Projected WAR: 3.5

As I stated in the previous article, there is no way to know if Darvish is underpaid/overpaid at this point in time.

Prince Fielder

2012 Salary: $23 million

Projected WAR: 5.0

On the other hand, Fielder will have to go through an adjustment period given the change in leagues. The aggregate pitching he will face should be better, and Comerica Park is not friendly to left-handed power.

An adjustment period? Fielder has hit .269/.353/.560 with 26 home runs in 350 at-bats in interleague play. I would say he isn't going to have a terrible time adjusting to American League pitching.

To be worth $23 million, though, you have to play a position that is not first base.

If first basemen aren't worth $23 million per year, then what position is worth that much? This comment just doesn't make sense to me. I would love to know what position is worth $23 million per year? I would guess catcher, but I know it isn't catcher because the author has Joe Mauer as his #2 most overpaid player and he makes $23 million per year.

Frank Francisco

2012 Salary: $5.5 million

Projected WAR: 0.5

For that, New York will pay him about $1 million more than the Pirates will pay Erik Bedard this season. Pittsburgh got a much better deal.

Why are we comparing a starter and a relief pitcher in terms of how much they got paid? I don't get this comparison at all. It's like the author just picked a random player and compared him to Francisco. I would agree Francisco is overpaid, but I don't see how the contract Bedard received has any bearing on what Francisco should receive.

Francisco Rodriguez

2012 Salary: $8 million

Projected WAR: 0.8

He makes $8 million. He pitched really well last year in a set up role for Milwaukee. He had a 1.86 ERA with a 1.138 WHIP. Relievers with his skill set require a high salary.

Still, they find themselves in the unenviable position of owing $8 million to a setup man, since John Axford will close for them. For the Yankees or Red Sox, that would be an acceptable, if not ideal, circumstance. For Milwaukee, it pretty well blew the budget.

So if Rodriguez put up the same statistics as the set up guy on the Red Sox or Yankees he wouldn't be overpaid? But because he is getting paid $8 million for the Brewers to close he is automatically overpaid? I get that some teams can afford to pay $8 million for a set up guy, while others can not. I'm just not sure this has a bearing on whether a guy is overpaid or not if he would put up the same statistics with either team.

Chris Carpenter

2012 Salary: $10.5 million

Projected WAR: 1.0

Carpenter is an enormous injury risk. No pitcher is more likely to blow out their arm in camp this year, or really to blow out their arm anytime in 2012.

This is pure hyperbole and doesn't serve any purpose as proof of anything. Carpenter has made 28 starts or more for three consecutive seasons now. Carpenter had a high workload last year, but saying Carpenter is overpaid by predicting a future injury seems thin to me.

He endured a workload unprecedented since 2001 in order to lead the Cardinals to the World Series title, but at his age and with his track record, he just is not in position to repeat or even approximate that performance.

Carpenter's recent track record is to throw 200 innings and have a sub-3.50 ERA. Carpenter also had the equivalent of two years off because of injuries, so I think it is completely reasonable he could be worth $10.5 million to the Cardinals this year.

30. Chad Billingsley

After a 2010 that looked like the permanent and significant step forward that Billingsley should have taken even sooner,

2010 was Billingsley's fourth full year in the majors and he was 25 years old. I'm not sure why he should have taken a significant step forward sooner than that.

he instead took a giant step backward in 2011. His walk rate, always the problem, shot up sharply, and his strikeout rate plunged for the third straight year.

Billingsley's BB/9 for his career:

2006: 5.8
2007: 3.9
2008: 3.6
2009: 3.9
2010: 3.2
2011: 4.0

Actually Billingsley's 2011 walk rate was more in line with his career average, admittedly a little bit higher than his career average in 2011, but still fairly in line. I'm not saying Billingsley isn't overpaid, but instead saying he isn't overpaid simply because of his 2011 season.

Jon Lester

Lester's cost is rising at roughly the same rate as that at which his value is falling. Both are fast.


He gutted out a solid start on the last day of the season to keep Boston in position to make the 2011 playoffs, but if the Red Sox make it in 2012, it will be no thanks to their nominal co-ace.

So a 15-9 record in 191.2 innings with a 3.47 ERA and 1.257 WHIP isn't worth $7.625 million for a left handed pitcher? I'm not sure how this author comes up with a WAR of 2.0 for Lester in 2012, but he has never had below a 4.8 WAR in a full season of pitching. There isn't any indication as to why his WAR would be 2.0 this year or that Lester is overpaid in any way. I think he's reaching to call Lester overpaid.

Jose Valverde

He had 49 saves last year with a 2.24 ERA and did not blow a save. His contract goes for one more year. He is not overpaid.

Valverde got lucky not to blow a save in 2011. He is a tightrope walker (and if he isn't, he should be, given his tiny legs and sturdy frame), teetering and bending but never falling off the wire in ninth innings all the time.

So even though the facts don't support his being overpaid, the author will just stick with this contention out of pure stubbornness. Dammit, Valverde should have blown a save last year and that makes him overpaid, even though he did not blow a save.

He walks batters, doesn't strike out enough of them for a top-flight reliever

He struck out 8.6 batters per 9 innings. That is close to striking out a batter an inning. I think he strikes out enough batters.

Paul Konerko

He slumped a bit in the second half in 2011,

He hit .272/.385/.447 in the second half of 2011. That's not great, but he still got on-base and had 37 walks to 40 strikeouts in the second half of 2011.

and at his age, any chink in the armor is a warning sign not to be missed.

So we should ignore Konerko's overall batting line of .300/.388/.517 last year with 31 home runs and focus on how he had an only average second half? This means he is overpaid and will have a WAR of 3.1 in 2012...despite the fact Konerko had a combined WAR of 8.7 over the last two seasons.

Dan Uggla

He's a good hitter, most of the time, though his first-half flop in 2011 causes concern.

But Uggla's great second half doesn't alleviate any of the concerns? He was on fire in the second half of the season...unless you think .296/.379/.569 and 21 home runs is just average. His batting average did stink overall, there's no doubt about that.

More pressingly, he's a miserable defensive second baseman who belongs in left field

Right, because the best place for a big-bodies, non-speed guy is to put them in left field. Uggla should thrive out there. Rather than screwing up ground balls, he'll just screw up fly balls.

or at third base, but both player and team are in denial.

Of course none of this has anything to do with whether Uggla is overpaid or not at the current time. He's a second baseman who can hit for power and get on-base, those types of players tend to have a high value.

Yoenis Cespedes

In either case, it seems like they blew it by not convincing Cespedes to commit to the usual MLB service-time arrangement, whereby he would have been under team control for six seasons.

We can't evaluate Cespedes at this point as overpaid. I do find it interesting the author believes the A's could "convince" Cespedes to take a longer deal, as if Cespedes was not a free agent and didn't have the ability to ignore or decline any deal he didn't like. He wanted four years, so the A's gave him four years.

Joe Mauer

Mauer has to play catcher to be worth anything close to $23 million per season,

What if he moves to left field? Would that make him worth $23 million per season? Or is Mauer overpaid because he plays for the Twins and if he played for the Yankees then he wouldn't be overpaid? I need to know the rules for these types of things.

The author has Mauer's projected WAR at 2.4. He had a 1.7 WAR last year in an injury-filled season and has never had a WAR below 4.6 since 2005. I'd love to know where this projected WAR of 2.4 is coming from.

but has to play a different position in order to stay healthy.

So Mauer can't stay healthy if he continues to play catcher? Is that what I'm hearing? Maybe he can play first base in place of that overpaid Justin Morneau (who is on this list too). Now is Mauer worth $23 million? Probably not because as we learned earlier first basemen aren't worth this much money. Apparently only catchers are worth $23 million per year.

I think that's about all the Bleacher Report I can take for today.


Murray said...

Crawford had a bad year nothing more. Lester did probably underachieve. I think they both bounce back

Im more worried about Beckett.

Also mark my words DiceK has a hell of a year. I think having a guy who is very familar with Japanese ball helps him greatly

Murray said...



There I over-reacted

Bengoodfella said...

Murray, so you are going on the record saying Dice-K has a good year? I'll make a note of that.

I look for Crawford to have a good year and Lester will do the same. In fact, I see the Red Sox having a good year and me pulling my hair out b/c some writers will chalk it up to no beer in the clubhouse.

I'm fine with no alcohol in the clubhouse, but as a public policy move and not because beer doesn't help pitchers pitch well.

rich said...

1st base: Justin Morneau

MVP = unfilled potential. Screw the fact that he got hit in the head twice and missed significant time due to concussion related effects. He sucks!

Outfield: Jason Heyward

Of course he is on the list. He's 22 years old and hasn't hit his potential yet.

He also battled injuries last year and killed it his rookie year. Oh and there's the fact that other than Uggla and Jones (who was hurt a lot) there's no one in that lineup to protect him.

He had a bad 2nd year, to call it "unfilled potential" is stupid.

Pitcher: Ubaldo Jimenez

The guy who had a sub 1.5 ERA for a long time while pitching for Colorado? Unfilled potential!

The name of the list should have been "Good players who had bad years."

It isn't a $22.5 million discount because Wilson was never worth $100 million.

I laughed at the logic. You should email the guy an offer for your car (if you have one). Tell him you're looking to get $500,000 for it, but you'll sell it for the $120,000. It's practically a steal!

Instead, the Rangers are only paying him $10 million a year.

Ya, that also doesn't include the 50M the Rangers paid to get him.

Carpenter had a high workload last year, but saying Carpenter is overpaid by predicting a future injury seems thin to me.

If you have the chance to sign a Cy Young quality pitcher for 10M who has been relatively healthy the past three years, you'd do it.

10M for 230 sub 3.5ERA innings? that's about half the price it should be.

Dan Uggla

He makes 12M and hit 36HRs with an OPS+ of 109. He has a career OPS+ of 116. The Phillies are paying 25M a year for a guy who was 33/125 (HR/OPS+) last year.

He's not overpaid.

Mauer has to play catcher to be worth anything close to $23 million per season

Mauer is like Ryan Howard. He's a player who shouldn't be getting the money he is, but is worth more to the team they're on than they are elsewhere.

The Twins are paying 23M a year for a guy with double digit HR totals in two of his eight MLB seasons.

Based on his productivity, he's not worth 23M no matter what position he plays.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, that's a perfect title for this article. "Good players who have had bad years."

The logic around C.J. Wilson made me laugh every time I wrote about it. Not laugh loudly, but just chuckle. I think it affected my ability to write b/c I kept wanting to have the author try to sell a house, much like your car example.

"I want $1 million for the house, but I'll sell it for $100,000. That's a deal!"

Wilson was just a steal at $15 million per year and Carpenter gets paid $10 million? That very may be a deal.

I just need to quit defending Uggla. He'll rebound and if he doesn't then I'll be wrong, but I'm guessing he won't struggle for 81 games this year.

I don't know if Mauer is worth $23 million, but he is worth $23 million to the Twins more than any other team. I don't know if position has a lot to do with it. Marketing has a lot to do with it.