Forgive me if this gets a little lengthy today. Originally, I wanted to spend a little more time going over some numbers of D-Lee, whom we talk about in our next around-the-horn segment for the paper tomorrow and online later today. Story is up on the main Sports page now. I also want to point you to some good stuff about sabermetrics (and making it even more understandable) that I found on The Hardball Times.
Seems our old friend Milton Bradley has ripped Chicago again and said he expected manager Lou Piniella to apologize to Bradley in front of the team last year at Comiskey for calling Milton a piece of you-know-what. Methinks if Lou had done that, he would have lost a team that already was fed up with Bradley’s act.
The original story appeared on ESPN. Here’s a link, with some updates from Mesa:
The Cubs writers in Arizona followed up with Ryan Dempster and Jim Hendry today. Dempster said, in an account from Carrie Muskat of cubs.com: “I didn't see it _ what was it, bad coffee in Seattle?" Carrie quotes Demp as saying. Dempster was among many Cubs outspoken in their criticism of Bradley following his suspension from the team last fall after Bradley ripped the Cubs and Chicago to yours truly in St. Louis.
Hendry voiced again today what many around the team have believed for a while: that Bradley’s house is in need of some mirrors. Bradley again charged that he had received racially motivated hate mail. Of course, if he did, that’s despicable. However, Bradley would not let it go at that. He wouldn't dismiss out of hand that mail with no postmarks was sent from within the Cubs organization.
It’ll be interesting to see if somebody from Seattle follows up on this typical Bradley behavior of throwing a charge or a veiled charge out there. Whenever those of us in Chicago followed up on one of Milton’s accusations, he’d either back down or go off on some other tangent.
"That's absolutely ridiculous," Hendry said, again via cubs.com. "That couldn't be farther from the truth. I think it's time maybe Milton looks himself in the mirror. It is what is it, he just didn't swing the bat and didn't get the job done. His production, or lack of, was the only negative."
Enough of that. Milton is someone else’s problem.
On to sabermetrics. As you know, I’m a big fan of Baseball Prospectus, fangraphs.com, Baseball Reference and The Hardball Times. In the Hardball Times yesterday, they have a piece by Joshua Fisher titled, “It’s OK to be mystified by linear weights.” The piece gets into understanding things like wOBA (weighted on base average) and FIP (fielding independent pitching). There’s even a tutorial that goes with it. I highly recommend it. It’s well worth your time. As one commenter pointed out, if you can take the time and learn about these stats, it simplifies, rather than complicates, the game.
Along those lines, it’s good having a highly regarded sabermetrician such as Colin Wyers from Baseball Prospectus commenting on this blog. He’s one of the best analysts out there, and he helps out on our upcoming D-Lee piece. Check out his great work at BP.
Speaking of D-Lee, he had his best season since 2005 last year. I looked up some of his key numbers since he came to the Cubs before the 2004 season. (The ’06 season was shortened by a broken wrist D-Lee suffered in April in L.A.) Here are a few of those numbers:
2005: 174 to lead the NL
Lee hit a lot more flyballs last year than he did in 2008, going from 33.7 percent in ’08 to 45.7 percent in ’09. His home-run-to-flyball percentage went up from 11.7 to 17.9, suggesting he was fully healthy. The groundball rate dropped, too, and along with it, the double plays fell from 27 in 2008 to 12 last year. Remember, that was another source of irritation among Cubs fans a couple years ago.
Lee’s BABIP of .327 was down slightly from his .330 of 2008, so there’s nothing really there that said he was overly lucky. It might not be another eye-popping year for D-Lee coming, but there’s nothing to suggest he can’t have another really good season.