Archive for Brian Matusz

Scouring the League for Second Base Surplus

Posted in Offense, Offseason, Trades with tags , , , , , , , on November 23, 2013 by oriolesprovingground

The Orioles have a hole to fill at second base during the offseason.  That’s not exactly news.  On a rare Saturday post over (at least for me) at ESPN Sweetspot Network Orioles blog Camden Depot, I am taking a look at teams that have a surplus of second basemen who may be willing trade partners to the Orioles.  The choices range from established veterans who may be expensive, in terms of prospects and salary commitments to former top prospects (or less established players) that may be a little cheaper, but come with a lot more risk.  Should the Orioles actually trade for any of these guys?  As always, it will depend on what they would have to give up to get them.

Direct Link to Article –> Scouring the League for Second Base Surplus

Pitching Under Pressure

Posted in Pitching with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2013 by oriolesprovingground

The following post was written by Doug Nickerson, who is a frequent contributor at Orioles Proving Ground.  

As a continuation of my previous post on the Orioles’ ability to handle pressure, I am now diving into the pitching staff.  I wanted to determine which pitcher had consistently been able to succeed when the game was on the line.  Some starters are able to rise to the occasion and match the opposing pitcher shutout inning for shutout inning in a game that is a must win.  Sometimes that same pitcher is spotted a big lead, then slowly lets the other team right back into the game and then miraculously turns it around to pitch better when the game gets closer.

Unlike hitters, where OBP generally encompasses a batter’s ability to keep the inning rolling and scoring runs, I had a hard time finding one stat that would be the equivalent for a pitcher.  Inherent in all pitching statistics is the variability element of the fielding behind the pitcher.  With a poor fielding team behind him, the pitcher might react more stressed than if he knows he can trust his defense to make the plays.   This led me to having difficulty in selecting which statistic to compare the pitchers in high, medium, and low leverage situations.  Ultimately, I had to decide on reviewing multiple factors depending on the type of pitcher (starter vs. reliever).  For starters I looked at ERA, while for relievers I also factored in the percent of inherited runners that scored, since part of the relievers role is to bailout the starter and finish the inning without allowing any runs. Continue reading

Orioles Trade Options at the Deadline: Oliver Perez

Posted in Pitching, Trades, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on July 18, 2013 by oriolesprovingground

The following post was written by Doug Nickerson in the very first guest post for Orioles Proving Ground.  Nickerson grew up as a Red Sox fan on Cape Cod, MA and is looking forward to writing about the Orioles with his knowledge of the AL East from a non-emotional perspective.  He moved to the DC area last August, and while he loves the city, he hates humidity and traffic.

Hi Orioles Fans!  Thanks for coming to Orioles Proving Ground.  This is my first contribution to OriolesPG; I hope you find it insightful and please let me know what you think.

As mentioned in Nate’s earlier post on laying out the needs of the Orioles coming into July, Baltimore needs pitching, pitching, and then more pitching. Dan Duquette looked to secure the back half of his rotation by acquiring starter Scott Feldman from the Cubs.  With the return of Wei-Yin Chen from the disabled list, and hopefully an improvement from either Jason Hammel (a FIP of 6.99 since June 1st says probably not), Zach Britton (pitched well but not far into games since June 18th with a high GB% of 54% and a BABIP of .282, and was optioned to AAA on July 9), or Kevin Gausman (pitched well out of the ‘pen but mixed results as a starter, and also optioned to AAA on July 9) the rotation will be stable and dependable 1-5.

That leaves the bullpen as a glaring need for improvement.  As with every year, teams in contention are looking for bullpen help as relievers performance can be fickle.  With the addition of another wildcard playoff spot, more teams are in contention and fewer teams are looking to sell.  Thus basic supply and demand can drive up the cost of these trade assets.  The Orioles will not be looking to be on the wrong end of a trade as the infamous Heathcliff Slocumb for Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe in 1997, or to a lesser extent, the Eric Gagne (horrific after trade) and cash (unneeded but best thing the Red Sox got) for David Murphy (a serviceable 10.2 WAR since trade), Kason Gabbard (forgettable), and Engel Beltre (23 and just called up to majors this week) trade.

Many rumors are circulating that the Orioles are looking into Oliver Perez.  I find this a high risk/high reward proposition for the Orioles.  Perez has done an amazing job re-making himself into a very good left-handed reliever in the last two years.  Thus, he also has a small sample size, which can give misleading data for a reliever.  However, this year he has held left handed batters to a .250 AVG while keeping right handed batters to an even lower .171 AVG.  This is exactly what the Orioles could use out of their ‘pen.  Darren O’Day, Brian Matusz, and Tommy Hunter have been tough on same side match ups but have done poorly against opposite handed batters.  The other mainstays of the bullpen have been mediocre to borderline bad to either side of the plate.  As seen from the chart below:

   

Split

IP

AVG

BABIP

FIP

xFIP

Darren O’Day

RHP

vs L

14.2

0.312

0.362

4.63

4.48

vs R

27

0.161

0.213

2.80

3.29

Brian Matusz

LHP

vs L

22.2

0.141

0.167

2.80

3.07

vs R

13.1

0.321

0.354

4.56

5.16

Tommy Hunter

RHP

vs L

24.1

0.278

0.263

6.14

4.42

vs R

28

0.118

0.162

2.02

3.43

T.J. McFarland

LHP

vs L

20

0.263

0.333

3.16

2.47

vs R

28

0.265

0.306

3.63

4.47

Troy Patton

LHP

vs L

16.2

0.269

0.278

4.56

3.9

vs R

22.1

0.277

0.333

3.82

4.62

Jim Johnson

RHP

vs L

24.1

0.250

0.296

3.92

3.83

vs R

19.1

0.264

0.333

3.22

3.49

Although Perez’s stats look great now, they do come with an asterisk of caution.  The issue is Perez’s pitching style.  He is a strikeout-flyball pitcher.  His HR/FB ratio has been 7.9% which is slightly better than the league average of 9.8%.  This number is not alarming since he’s playing half of his games at the deep caverns of SafeCo Field and all of his home runs allowed have been at home to right handed batters.  However, his FB% is much higher than the league average, 49.4% vs. 35.4%, and his career average is 47.4%.  With 32 of the final 66 games at home and 12 of the 34 away games being played at flyball unfriendly stadiums (Fenway, Yankee Stadium, Toronto), it can be assumed that his HR/FB ratio would increase with the Orioles.  Having Perez implode with a high HR/FB ratio is the biggest risk the Orioles would be taking in acquiring him.

Adding to his list of positives, Oliver Perez has an attractive contract to the Baltimore organization.  He is in the middle of a 1 year deal for $1.5 million for which they would only be responsible for the prorated remainder.  Trading for Perez, the Orioles would be wise to only offer a lower level prospect, maybe someone they rank no higher than their 15th best prospect, due to the lack of draft compensation if Perez leaves via free agency. This is a distinct possibility, especially if he continues to play as he has since becoming a reliever, he could play himself into a bigger contract that the Orioles would be unwilling to give him.  With only 2 more weeks until the non-waiver trade deadline, look out for more analysis on potential bullpen additions to the Orioles bullpen.

Orioles Draft Retrospective: 2008-2011

Posted in Draft, Prospects, Rule 4 with tags , , , , , , , , on June 5, 2013 by oriolesprovingground

2008

I know that the previous posts looking at Baltimore’s first round draft picks may have been a little depressing, but I’m sure you already know that things start looking up in 2008.

1-4 – Brian Matusz (LHP) from University of San Diego

Well, kind of looking up in 2008.  Another Baltimore pitcher drafted that was a top prospect with high expectations, Matusz hasn’t exactly lived up to them.  He looked like a promising starter in 2009 and 2010, but struggled in 2011 and 2012 before moving to the bullpen late last year.  While every team needs a good left-handed reliever, I don’t think that’s what teams are looking to get when they have the 4th overall pick in the draft.

Xavier Avery (2nd round) and L.J. Hoes (3rd round) were both selected in this draft as well.  Both have been ranked as top ten prospects for Baltimore (Hoes was the #7 Orioles prospect prior to the 2013 season, while Avery last appeared prior to 2011 at #4 according to Baseball Prospectus) and each have spent limited time with the major league club.  Unfortunately, it appears no one else from that draft will provide an impact for Baltimore.  Additionally, both Hoes and Avery have ceilings of 4th outfielders.

Buster Posey was selected by the Giants immediately following Baltimore’s pick of Matusz, and to date, he is easily the best player to come out of that first round.  Although, other than win NL Rookie of the Year (2010) and the NL MVP (2012), while leading the Giants to 2 World Series championships in 2 of 3 years, he hasn’t done much.

2009

If only we could pretend like the 2009 draft never happened.  Baltimore had another high pick and thought it wise to use it on…

1-5 – Matthew Hobgood (RHP) from Norco HS (Norco, CA)

From what I found, this pick was generally viewed as an overdraft by the rest of the league at the time, but as a big, sturdy guy (i.e., chunky), Hobgood would be able to eat up some innings as a starting pitcher.  A description from the 2011 Baseball Prospectus Annual did not inspire confidence, and his results leading up to a 2011 shoulder injury didn’t inspire it either.  After sitting out all of 2012, Hobgood has returned to Low-A this year as a reliever (posting good results to date) and has a chance to provide some value in the future in that role.  However, as mentioned before (COUGH, Brian Matusz, COUGH), no one HOPES to draft a future reliever with the 5th overall pick.

Some of the players drafted after Hobgood include Zack Wheeler at #6 (#5 overall prospect ranked by Baseball Prospectus in 2013), Mike Minor at #7, and Shelby Miller at #19.  However, Baltimore (along with 21 other teams) are probably wishing they could re-do this draft and select Mike Trout, who has already accumulated 13.7 WAR in just 237 games.

No one from Baltimore’s 2009 draft has reached the big leagues, and no one is a Baseball Prospectus top 10 prospect either, so let’s just move on to the 2010 draft.

2010

Hopefully you’ve stuck around this far, because 2010 is when it starts to get good.

1-3 – Manny Machado (SS) from Brito Miami Private School (Miami, FL)

Ummm, this was a nice pick.  I was fortunate enough to watch Machado play a lot last year while I worked for the Orioles, videotaping at AA Bowie.  It was obvious he had the tools and make-up to become an all-star caliber player.  Although I did not think he would find so much success offensively this quickly (I am happy to be proven wrong).  A lot has been written recently about how good Machado is, and it’s difficult to disagree.  It’s early, but he is currently on the short list of MVP candidates, with the 4th highest WAR to date (3.1) in all of baseball.  Oh, and he’s not even old enough to drink yet.

The rest of the draft doesn’t look like it went so well, as no one else has reached the majors.  No one is populating the Baseball Prospectus top 10 prospect list either.  It’s still early for this draft class though, so there’s time for potential impact players to help the big league club.

Matt Harvey and Chris Sale were selected after Machado, as well as some interesting prospects still in the minor leagues, but I’d rather have Machado.

2011

It’s still very difficult to consider the 2011 draft as a success or failure, due to the time needed for draft picks to develop.  But the 2011 selection of Dylan Bundy looks like a strong first round pick.

1-4 – Dylan Bundy (RHP) from Owasso HS (Owasso, OK)

There were reports at the time of this draft that many scouts believed Bundy was good enough to jump straight to the major leagues from high school.  And while I am no scout, after seeing him pitch in Bowie last year, I don’t think that assessment was too far removed from reality.  Bundy has an impressive arsenal of pitches, as well as great command and maturity on and off the field.  Some elbow issues at the beginning of the year has kept him from pitching so far in 2013, but if he’s healthy, he has the ceiling of an ace and probably the floor of a #2 starter.  He was Baltimore’s #1 prospect in 2013 according to basically every prospect list, and ranked #4 overall by Baseball Prospectus.

Two other 2011 draftees show up in the current Orioles top 10 prospect list, including #5 RHP Mike Wright (3rd round) and #6 3B Nick Delmonico (6th round).

Right now, Bundy looks like the best selection the Orioles could have made in this draft, but it’s far too soon to definitively say that.