Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Stacking Up: Updating the Rays

I hesitated for a while writing the review for the Yankees simply because Anthopoulos makes it hard to know when the musical chairs stop long enough to take a snapshot. But Spring Training approaches and it's time to press on. Before I get to New York, however, I most of course revise the comparison to the Rays, given that both rosters have significantly changed.

Here's is the summations on each part of the team which I drew in my previous post:

On the hitters:
Overall, so far, three which are a wash due to uncertainty, one goes to the Rays and five go to the Jays.
On the pitchers:

On the whole, I make the rotations largely a push.

In the bullpen, the Rays have a guy coming off major injury - JP Howell -as their closer, a guy who was non-tendered as their best set up reliever, and a couple of non-discript rooks they got via trade. Oh, and Sonnanstine. Whatever you think of the Jays pen, I hope I don't need to detail these guys to say that the Toronto bullpen is in FAR better shape.

And overall:

Frankly, I'm going to have to look closer before I conclude the Rays are even better than Baltimore at this point, let alone Toronto. I think so, based on the rotation, but I wouldn't say so with any confidence. I think a LOT of things would have to go wrong with the Jays for them to finish behind Tampa in 2011.
Regarding the 'pen, I don't think adding Farnsworth significantly alters the equation, especially since Francisco counters and betters that move. In terms of the offense, you now have the following alignment's which are different:

Damon v. Snider - Damon's not a BAD player but he's old and on the downward curve, you have to go with Snider.
Upton v. Davis - Contra-wise you just have to go with the young potential star here.
Zobrist v. Rivera - Largely a wash, two players with one excellent year in their past but in their most recent season a disappointment.
Ramirez v. Encarnacion - This comes down to asking yourself what Manny has left in the tank. Utimately, i'll give him the benefit of the doubt though I don't think the gap between these two will be huge.

That makes the offensive scorecard read 4 positions for the Jays three for the Rays, and two which can't be called. I'll have to consider them very similar teams at this point. Close enough that while I think the Jays have better talent overall, I wouldn't be surprised if the Rays won a few more games anyway. Both teams should be in the 80's for a win total.


Mark said...

The Rays have the advantage at C, a significant one at DH, 3B (Longo's D + Bat still > Bautista), CF and RF. Don't underestimate Matt Joyce, he's pretty much a lock for a 900 OPS vs RHP and plus D. That's a heck of a lot better then what the Jays will toss out there, whether it's Snider or Rivera. And as for your current post, Zobrist > Rivera. It's not a wash, because A) Zobrist can get on base and B) He can play D at 2B where he's going to be playing. He'll end up in RF vs LHP though.

The Rays lineup is still far superior to the Jays. The rotation is too. The bullpen advantage for the Jays is pretty meaningless because the rotations will throw 800-1000 innings while the BP might toss in 400-500.

I'd be shocked if the Jays come close to the Rays.

The Southpaw said...

I don't see the logic in assuming Joyce when he didn't even play over a rather weak Zobrist last year (or Aybar or Rodriguez if you prefer).

But I'll concede him as he's the one who OUGHT to be playing (IMO, him in RF and Zobrist at 2B)

I don't think for a minute that he is clearly better than Snider but i don't think Snider is going to be in right (though I would try hard to put him there if I were Farrell)

Nor do I think Zobrist is better than Rivera - what he can do at 2B is irrelevant to who lines up better in RF.

If you put Z at 2B he still loses to Hill, and Joyce likely beats Rivera so I could see a shift in one position there but I disagree with the rest.

Mark said...

"I don't see the logic in assuming Joyce when he didn't even play over a rather weak Zobrist last year (or Aybar or Rodriguez if you prefer). "

He was called up in July and he'd been playing vs RHP the whole time. Even in the playoffs, he's the guy who they had protecting Longoria vs RHP. Not Pena, not CC, Joyce. The Rays are all set to let him loose in RF next year, at least vs RHP.

As of right now he's better then Snider because he's proven he can post a 900 OPS and play good D. I expect Snider to break out, but you can't give the edge to him when Joyce has shown he's the more dangerous player to this point.

Actually, it is pretty relevant that Zobrist plays 2B vs Rivera in LF/RF. Playing RF or LF over a full season is a positional adjustment of -7.5, whereas playing 2B is +2.5. That's a difference of 10 runs, or one win. So Rivera has to be 1 win better either on offense or defense to be equal in value to Zobrist, who's primarily playing 2B.

In what's a "down year" for Zobrist, he hit 238/346/353, for a 3.1 WAR. Rivera has been that valuable once in the past couple of years. And keep in mind it took an 810 OPS to do that. As I said before, Zobrist's value comes from his OBP, which Rivera isn't going to give you.

Like I said before - Rivera's going to have to be around 50-75 points of OPS better, and play plus D at LF/RF just to be better than Zobrist. That's of course assuming that Zobrist doesn't split the difference in offense between 09/10, which I'm sure you'll give the benefit of the doubt to for the Jays hitters.

It's hard to picture Rivera being a better player. As for your comment about Hill - I have more faith in him then Zobrist, but the difference in value between Joyce/Rivera will be greater than the difference between Hill/Zobrist.

The Southpaw said...

the problem with a comparison like this is always one of "how MUCH better is A than B at a given position.
I have to admit that when I say a team is better than another based on who wins more positions that that is an entirely unsatisfying calculation BECAUSE how MUCH one player is better than the other matters a LOT.

Also, it's an open secret that I don't look as hard at the "higher math" (other than WAR and ERA+/OBP+) and so I'm prone to being a victim of things like positional adjustments.

All that said, in my simple mind I'm going to either compare Zobrist as a 2B against Hill, or Zobrist as a RF against whoever or RF is...NOT Zobrist as a 2B against whoever our RF is.

Likewise, if Snider is in left, as I expect he will be, comparisons to Joyce are irrelevant to me.

Maybe you are right that they wised up on Joyce - I personally thought he'd be in RF from opening day last year - but you keep mentioning his OPS v. RHP. I'm not sure I see why this distinction.

if he plays only vs RH, then that means he'll have a realy nice line but the overall RF line will depend on what happens vs LH as well. If, for instance, Zobrist moves out and Rodriguez plays 2B, then (my previous remarks about direct position comparisons aside) doesn't that mean Rodriguez's weak bat waters down Joyce's contributions?

Finally, I will say that I'm not optimistic about Rivera so whatever I might say that sounds over-impressed with him is poorly worded.

If this keeps up, I'm goingto have to actually do a deeper analysis here (regarding the offense at least, I really don't see a big gap among the SP)