Archive for November, 2010

Who was the better Steve Ontiveros?

Posted in non-de Jesus related, the de Jesus Era on November 12, 2010 by wechslerh66

One was an obscure, oft-injured Phils righthander who, as an Oakland Athletic, would lead the AL in ERA in 1994. The other was one of the Cubs’ revolving post-Santo third basemen who walked 81 times for a .390 OBP in 1977.

One was born in Tularosa, NM, best known for the Rio Tularosa, Tularosa Canyon, and a bunch of Western novels. The other was born in Bakersfield, CA, best known for its honky-tonk, Buck Owens, “Mexicali Blues,” and a Frankensign on the 405 North outside of LA that read BAKERMENTO.

One was drafted by Oakland and debuted in 1985, the other by San Francisco and in 1973.

One was a pitching coach for the Chinese National Team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The other was a Seibu Lion from 1980-1985.

Both were named Steve Ontiveros.

Whoever confuses Chase Utley with Chase Headley, believe me, this was worse (though it wasn’t quite as bad as Bobby Jones and Bobby Jones, or Greg Harris and Greg W. Harris).

Who was the better Steve Ontiveros? Obviously, it’s tough to compare a pitcher– especially one who began as a reliever, became a starter but never exceeded 150 2/3 IP in a season (when he led the AL in ERA, he only pitched 115 1/3 IP but qualified for the title because of the strike)– with a utility infielder and occasional outfielder who twice exceeded 500 AB in a season. We can, however, compare WAR. BaseballReference has Ontiveros the pitcher at 7.6 career WAR; FanGraphs has him at 8.5. Ontiveros the third baseman is at 4.3 and 7.7, respectively. FanGraphs has them much closer, but “Onto” the ex-Phil beats the ex-Cub twice overall. FanGraphs also has Ontiveros the pitcher with a career 3.96 FIP and a somewhat lucky .275 BABIP (with a career-low .242 BABIP, as one would expect, in 1994, hence the 2.65 ERA and 167 ERA+). Ontiveros the batter had an unexceptional .335 career wOBA; FanGraphs also has him with a brutal -27.0 career fielding runs below average.

Ontiveros the pitcher wasn’t a star– he only played for the A’s (twice), Phils, Mariners and Red Sox but spent time in the Tigers, Twins, Angels (twice), Cardinals, Orioles, (Devil) Rays, Brewers, Rockies and Mets organizations before retiring in 2001, meaning he belonged at one time or another to 13 of 30 major league teams– but he was an All-Star with Oakland in 1995. Ontiveros the third baseman was also an All-Star– in Japan, where he hit .312 with 82 HR and 390 RBI. Nonetheless, a similarity score of 981 with Luis Aquino beats a similarity score of 942 with Randy Ready. Ontiveros the pitcher was the better Steve Ontiveros, at least in the majors.

One other Phils-related note: both Ontiveroses (Ontiverii?) will be forever immortalized in the boxscores: Ontiveros the pitcher for his 3 2/3 mopup innings in the Phils’ 10-run comeback win that caused Jim Rooker to walk to Pittsburgh, Ontiveros the batter for his 1-for-7 with two runs scored in the even more memorable 23-22 slugfest at Wrigley Field. Without a doubt, the A’s, Cubs, Giants, and Phils could use another Steve Ontiveros. At least Oakland now has a DeJesus.

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Más de Jesus

Posted in Jose de Jesus on November 9, 2010 by wechslerh66

He was working relief at Omaha when the Royals decided they needed another arm at the major league level. They gave him a couple of quick starts and called him up. He didn’t pitch very well, but the Royals at the time were winning every game…tremendous movement on his fastball will continue to make it difficult for him to hit the strike zone.
— Bill James on Jose de Jesus, The Bill James Player Ratings Book 1995

Royals with de Jesus (1994): 64-51, .557

Royals without de Jesus (1995-2010): 1,087-1,483, .423, one winning season out of sixteen

¡qué lástima!

The Ballad of Ben Francisco

Posted in 2011 Phillies on November 2, 2010 by wechslerh66

The World Series wasn’t even over (well, officially over) when someone called 610 WIP demanding that the Phillies sign Cody Ross. Never mind that Babe Ross is arbitration-eligible, assuming San Francisco tenders him a contract; the Phillies already have a Cody Ross clone who’s a year younger and made almost $4 million less last season. Malcontent WIP callers, meet Ben Francisco.

Ross career: .265/.323/.466, 104 OPS+, .340 wOBA
Francisco career: .263/.329/.446, 105 OPS+, .338 wOBA

Ross has a slight edge in power (1 HR every 23.6 AB as opposed to 1 HR every 28 AB) and a huge edge in AB (2031 career vs. 1093 for Francisco, who has never topped the 500 AB mark, dropping from 499 in 2008 to 459 in 2009 and 197 last season), though the presumed departure of Jayson Werth will help increase Francisco’s AB. Also, UZR has Francisco as brutal in both center and right (-4.8 and -5.2 career/-19.5 and -14.1 per 150 defensive games) where Ross is average (0.4 and 2.2/0.2 and 2.0), though presumably Francisco will end up in left for the 2011 Phillies, where he’s at 3.5 career/3.4 per 150 (Ross is at 0.9/3.9). Basically, both are better options than Ibañez or Burrell and won’t kill you if they end up where they should end up.

More encouraging news for the man who took Darren Daulton’s number:

He has a 974 similarity score with former Met Benny Agbayani, who wasn’t half bad (and about whom the immortal Harry Kalas once noted, “Benny is of Hawaiian ancestry, meaning he is built for comfort, not for speed”), but his 10th most similar batter through age 28 is none other than Jayson Werth. (Other Phillies content: Wes Chamberlain appears on both lists.)

Ross is a decent outfielder whose 2010 salary of $4.45 million may increase even more dramatically because of a beyond-decent postseason. Francisco, on the other hand, won’t make much more than his $470,000 salary in 2011 without the same body of work behind him…so far. Nihilism? We’ll take it– but we have our own, thanks.

Totally unrelated World Series words of wisdom, courtesy of (who else) Joe Morgan: “When you do not have the lead and you’re the team that can be eliminated, the more pressure applies to you.”