Orioles Think Tank

Orioles Coverage for the Information Age

Viewer Mail

Posted by Mike on December 29, 2005


I’m an Orioles Fan from Germany- we’re really rare here! About “The Off-season: A Guide to Contention Part III: Our Final Roster”: I really like a lot about what you’re saying but I have to disagree with your suggestions about “our” roation. I think we need one new pitcher at the top of our rotation. Personally I would let all the teams try to get Burnett while I would try to sign Millwood for three years. He is a AL pitcher and whould be good for at least another three years. the main reason I would try to sign him or someone else is to take some pressure of our young arms. I think Bedard and D-Cab would do much better if they knew that they’d always have somebody to take the pressure of them. Lopez was never able to do that last season. His value is at it’s highest point so I would trade him to Texas for one of their young bats.

Well Christian, I’m glad to see Angelos is upsetting people as far east as Germany. A lot of people seem to share your sentiment about the need for another starter. I’d like to reiterate that anytime you nail down a potential roster in November, it is going to get you in trouble. I just wanted to point out one permutation that could be successful and give sound logic behind it. My earlier argument hinged on two points:

1) I expect big things out of both Bedard and Cabrera next year.
2) The money that would go to any free agent pitcher (that is a significant upgrade over our current staff) could better be allocated towards our deceptively meek offense. No team had a higher percentage of its offense tied up into its top two players (B-Rob and Miggy) than the Orioles. Some balance is needed.

However, I am currently of the belief that we should trade for Javier Vazquez and dangle Rodrigo Lopez to the Rangers for Adrian Gonzalez, but these things are always subject to change throughout the off-season.

I agree that Vazquez is very talented and his stuff is certainly still dominant at times. He’s worth the risk for the right deal because the upside is so high. However, his tendency to get shelled is noteworthy.
However, his home runs allowed totals are very high. I don’t buy the band box argument because his home and away splits show he’s giving up about the same amount of home runs regardless of where he’s pitching. His home runs allowed rates are higher in both 2004 and 2005 than in 2003, but not dramatically. But I think that slight rise makes all the difference. His home runs allowed rate the last two seasons is closer to what it was at the beginning of his career when he struggled.

I’ve gotten a lot of flack about sticking up for Javier Vazquez. I argued that his peripherals indicated he pitched better in 2005 than a 4.42 ERA. In the case of his home runs allowed rate, I chalked it up to his home ballpark.
The most valid argument I’ve heard against him is that his home field played little role (judging by his home/away splits) in the large amount of home runs he gave up. To clarify, here are his splits for 2005:

Home: 96.7 ip, 8.7 K/9, 2.0 BB/9, 1.18 WHIP, .249 BAA,…. 1.49 HR/9
Away: 119 ip, 7.5 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, 1.30 WHIP, .280 BAA,…. 1.44 HR/9

His home/away splits certainly indicate that he gives up nearly as many home runs on the road as at the former BOB. This, in turn, indicates that his HR/9 rate can not be blamed on his home ballpark. However, this logic is making the mistaken assumption that he pitched equally well on the road and at home in 2005.

If you look at his home/away splits above and take out his home runs allowed rate, everything indicates that he pitched significantly better at home this year than on the road. If he pitched so much better at home, then why would his home runs allowed rate not improve at home as well? Because, in order to only give up the same amount of home runs at home as on the road, he had to pitch better there. Had he pitched equally effective at home and on the road this year, his home runs allowed rate would be significantly higher at home.
So, the fact that his HR/9 rate is the same at home and on the road is not an indicator of the former BOB not impacting his ERA or HR/9 rate. It is an indicator that he pitched better at home than on the road.

Using some rough math and ESPN’s park factor ratings, I can make an educated guess that Vazquez’s HR/9 rate would’ve been something around 1.33 had he pitched 2005 in a neutral ballpark. Still an unspectacular number, but certainly tolerable given his excellent K and BB rates.


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