Tagged: Rockies

Former A’s to Share in Postseason Moolah

Every team that played in the postseason this year, had former A’s players or coaches on their rosters.  Most of them will get some kind of share of the postseason bonuses.

World Series:The Yankees have 3 active players on their postseason roster who used to play for the A’sJohnny Damon (2001), Nick Swisher (2004-07) and Chad Gaudin (2006-08).  The Phillies have two active former A’s, Joe Blanton (2004-08) and Matt Stairs (1996-99).  The Phils’ Bench Coach, Davey Lopes played for the A’s in 1982-84.  Therefore, there are 6 possible World Series Shares that will go to former A’s.  The will also receive winning shares of the League Championship Series (LCS) and their Division Series (LDS).  I will explain all this later.

League Championship Series (“The Pennant”):  On the 2 teams who lost their LCS, the Angel’s first base coach, Alfredo Griffin, played for the A’s in 1985-87Andre Ethier of the Dodgers spent 2003-05 in the A’s farm system and was a top A’s prospect before he was part of the trade to the Dodgers for Milton Bradley.  Bob Schaefer, the Dodger’s Bench Coach, held the same position with the 2007 A’s and their Pitching Coach, Rick Honeycutt, pitched for the Green and Gold in 1987-93 and 1995.  So 4 former A’s should get LCS  losing and LDS winning shares this year.

On the other 4 teams who lost in the LDS, there were quite a few guys who were formerly affiliated with the A’s:

 In the National League, Matt Holiday of the St. Louis Cardinals played for the A’s during the first half of 2009.  The Cards’ Coaching staff is also full of ex-A’s.  Tony LaRussa, the Cards manager, managed the A’s from 1986-95, and his pitching coach, Dave Duncan was the A’s Pitching Coach from 1985-95 and played for the KC/Oakland A’s from 1964-72Dave McKay, The Cards’  First Base Coach, was the A’s Bullpen and Bench Coach from 1984-89, and the A’s1st Base Coach from 1989-95. And Jason Giambi (1995-2001, 2009), Carlos Gonzalez (2008), Huston Street (2005-08), and Matt Murton (pt. of 2008) are all on the active roster of the Rockies.  They should all get losing LDS shares.

In the American League, Manager Terry Francona (2003 A’s Bench Coach) and Dave Magadan (1997-98 player) of the Boston Red Sox, and Orlando Cabrera (2009) and Ron Mahay (1999-2000) of the Minnesota Twins should all get losing LDS shares.

Postseason Bonuses:  There are three factors that determine what a player who plays in the post season will receive as bonuses:  1) The size of the  bonus pool for each level of post season play, 2) how far the player’s team gets in the postseason, and the share of the team’s bonus pool that the player will receive

The Bonus Pool:  There is a separate pool for each level of the postseason.  Each bonus pool receives 60% of the gate receipts for that series.  There is a complicated formula to determine the value of the gate that takes into account the size of the venues, the amount of high-priced premium seating in the venues, the number of games played in the series and whether or not the games sell out.  The actual ticket prices are set by MLB, not the home teams as they are during the season.

Winners vs. Losers:  The winning team’s share of the World Series gate receipts is 36% and the loser’s share is 24%.  The LCS losing teams each get 12% and the LDS losers get 3% each, and the 4 2nd-place teams that do not win the wild-card receive 1%.

A Player’s Share of the Team’s Pool:  Here’s where things can get sticky.  the 25 roster players vote right after the trade deadline (July 31st) at a meeting chaired by their union representative.  At this meeting the 25 players decide whether players who have not been with the club for the whole season get a full share,a partial share or no share at all.  Non-players, such as trainers, may be granted full or partial shares.  The pool of money is divided by the number of shares granted at the meeting.  There is no llimit on the number of shares, but a player will receive less money if there are more shares granted.

In 2006, members of the St. Louis Cardinals received over $362,000 each for winning the World Series.  For players who have not become elligle for arbitration (less than 3 years experience in the Majors), their share may be more than their regular season salary.  For the players with valuable contracts, their share may be less than 5%.

So that’s how postseason bonuses are calculated.  And in all 18 former A’s may be ellible to receive postseason money, depending upon what their respective teams voted in their August meeting.

It all may be decided tonight if the Yanikees win, or maybe the Phillies will grit their way to another win to say alive.  It should be a good game.

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Can We Predict Who Will Win the World Series?

With the World Series approaching this week, and at the suggestion of my friend, Eric Edward, I thought I’d take a look at whether we can predict which teams make it to the World Series, and why others do not.  A huge topic, I know, but I have found some statistics that might shed some light on the subject.

 

We now know that the New York Yankees
Yankees Logo.jpgwill play the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series
Phillies Logo small.gif, which will begin Wednesday night in New York.  The Phillies are looking to 2-peat, having won the Series last year.  The Yankees, who have won more World Series than any other franchise (26), are really pumped, if last night’s game against the Angels is any indication.   It should be a very good series.

 

So were these two teams the likely candidates to play in the World Series?  Let’s look at some numbers in various categories:  salaries, market size, attendance, team value, and prior World Series appearances, to see if we could have predicted this year’s Series contenders.

 

Salaries/Payroll:  It is no surprise that the Yankees have the highest team payroll in the Majors at $201,449,289 for 2009, as of opening day.  The teams ranked 2 through 10 have payrolls between $135,773,988 (Mets) down to $98,904,167 (Mariners).  Of the top 10, only 5 made it into the post season at all, and 4 of the 5 made it to the Championship Series.  If only half of the top ten teams in payroll get into the post season, the correlation between Payroll and getting into the world series is pretty significant, but not over whelming, especially since the 13th, 16th and 24th teams in this category also made it.  So maybe it’s not only about paying players more money.

 

Market Size:  4 of the top 5 teams in market size–Yanks(1), Dodgers (3), Angels (4) and Phillies (5) made it to the 2009 postseason and the same 4 won their respective divisions. The Mets (#2) didn’t make it to the postseason, but their #2 position is due largely to the fact that they are in a very densely populated metropolitan area and they moved into a very nice new stadium this season.  The other 4 teams in the playoffs were #6 (Red Sox-Wild Card), #21 (Twins), #23 (Cards) and #24 (Rockies-Wild Card).  Thus it appears that market size helps your chances because there is a larger pool of fans to draw from, but it is not determinative in making it to the postseason.

 

Attendance:  6 of the 8 top teams in attendance made it to the playoffs in 2009, as well as nos. 11 and 14, all in the top 50% of teams.  The top 5 teams in this category won their respective divisions.  So it looks like Attendance seems to track closely with appearance in the postseason.  But what does this mean?  Are the teams doing well because they have more people coming to the games, or do more people come because the team is doing well?  My guess is it is the latter, which means that attendance alone is a good indicator but not a deciding factor.

 

Team Value:  By far the most valuable MLB franchise is the New York Yankees ($1.5 billion).  The Mets ($912M, 2nd), the Red Sox ($833M, 3rd), the Dodgers ($722M, 4th), and the Cubs ($700M, 5th) make up the rest of the top 5.  23 of the other teams are worth between $509 million (Angels, ranked 6th) down to $314 million (Royals, ranked 28th).  The Pirates ($288M, 29th) and the Marlins ($277M, 30th) and are “in the bottom two,” a la Dancing With The Stars.

 

But let’s look at the most valuable teams and how they have fared in the World Series.  #1 and #7 will compete in the Fall Classic; both are division and, obviously, the pennant winners.  The 2 other teams that played in the Championship Series are the Dodgers (# 4) and the Angels (#6).  When we go back to the Division Series, the results are mixed.  The Red Sox (3rd) and the Cardinals (8th) are in the top 10, but the Rockies (20th) and Twins (22nd) are way back in the value pack, and show that much less valuable teams can at least make it to the Division Series, though not very likely.  Since 7 of the top 10 in this category made it to the postseason, the team value category seems to have the highest correlation with getting beyond the end of the season.

 

World Series Experience: The Yankees by far have played in most World Series (39).  Of the rest of the top 10 — Dodgers (18), Cardinals and Giants (17 each), Athletics (14), Red Sox (11), Tigers and Cubs (10 each), and the Reds and Braves (9 each)–only the Yankees, Dodgers, Cardinals and Red Sox made it to the post season in 2009.  So World Series experience certainly helps, but it didn’t help the Yankees in 2001-2007 when they got eliminated in the ALDS 5 times, and in the ALCS once and lost the World series twice.  The Bronx Bombers haven’t made an appearance in the Series since 2003 and haven’t won it since 2000.   They also didn’t play in the post season at all in 2008, the first time in 14 years.  Because a lot of ancient baseball history skews these results, I didn’t include World Series experience in my statistical analysis.

 

So what do we make of all this?  I determined the rank of each team in each category and then averaged the 4 ranks for each team.  The top teams, from 1 to 10, are, : Yankees, Mets, Dodgers, Red Sox, Angels, Phillies, Giants, Astros, Tigers, and Cards.  6 of them made it to the post season, and #1 and #5 are playing in the World Series.  The 1st 6 teams are bunched together in averaged ranks; teams 7-10 (including the Cards) are ranked considerably lower.  So I guess this ranking system is pretty good in predicting who will make it to the post season, but beyond that it’s anybody’s guess and involves a lot of luck.

 

The aberrations in the top 10 are interesting:  the Mets, Giants, Astro’s and Tigers.  None of them made it to the post season but all have circumstances leading to unusually high ranks: a new stadium, attendance and large market size (Mets), a reasonably new stadium, attendance and long history (Giants), high payroll and market size (Tigers), and then there’s the Houston Astros (T#5 in Payroll, #7 in Market Size, and #12 in attendance account for their high rank), go figure.

 

That’s a lot to digest, but if you are a numbers geek like me and want to see my Excel spreadsheet, email me at beebee723@comcast.net and I’ll email it to you.  It has some very interesting and surprising statistics.

 

So sit back and enjoy the World Series.  If my ranking system is correct, the Yankees should win it easily.  But this is the Fall Classic and anything can happen.  As is often said, the team that wants it most will find a way to win it.  We should have a great series to watch.

 

Data Spources:

Payroll Data: www.cbssports.com/mlb/salaries

Market Size Data: http://www.baseball-almanac.com/articles/baseball_markets.shtml  N.B. For New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Baltimore/Washington and the SF Bay Area, all metropolitan areas with 2 teams, the Census data was allocated according to attendance info.

Attendance Data: www.baseball-reference.com

Team Value Data:    http://www.forbes.com/lists/2009/33/baseball-values-09_The-Business-Of-Baseball_Value.html

World Series Experience: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Series     

And I Thought The Last Game I Wrote About Was Bizarre!

A Record-Breaking Comeback of Epic Proportions:  Monday night’s game against the Minnesota Twins was one for the record books.  Gio Gonzales got the first 2 outs of the game and then everything fell apart for him.  I won’t go into the nasty details because they turned out to be a non-issue, except for the substantial hit Gio’s ERA took.  Suffice it to say that after 2.5 innings the score was 12-2 Twins, which included Jason Kubel’s 3-run blast in the 1st, Justin Morneau’s grand slam in the 2nd,  Michael Cuddyer’s solo shot right after Morneau’s grand salame, and Morneau’s 3-run encore in the top of the 3rd. After the last home run, Gio was lifted for Santiago Casilla. It looked pretty bleak at that point.

But the stars were aligned in the A’s corner for the rest of the game. 
Matt Holliday's slam 7-20-09.jpgThey scored 3 runs in the bottom of the third (Daric Barton’s homer plated 2 of them), 2 runs in the 4th (on Matt Holliday’s first dinger) and
 7 runs in the 7th inning which included a 2 run double by Orlando Cabrera and Matt Holliday’s  grand slam to tie the game at 13-13, followed by a solo
Jack cust's homer 14-13  7-20-09.jpgshot from Jack Cust to put the A’s ahead for good.  A questionable play at the plate that was called the A’s way ended the game in
Controversial Play 7-20-09.jpgthe bottom of the ninth.

 To put it in perspective, there were 27 runs scored, 39 hits, 8 homers, 9 doubles, and 2 errors in the game.  The A’s stroked 22 hits and had NO strikeouts! The game lasted 3 hours and 32 minutes, and the paid attendance was 10,283, a large portion of whom had left before the A’s slugfest in the 7th ining.  More than one record was set in this amazing game but the best was that the ten-run deficit in the 3rd was the largest one (by 2 runs) the Oakland A’s had ever recovered from to win a ballgame.

Matt Holliday summed it up best.  “We were down by 10 runs.  Hey, we had nothing to lose.  The guys just relaxed and had fun and didn’t quit.  They kept pecking away at it and hit what was thrown to them, mostly to the opposite field.”  Maybe this was a good lesson for the hitters:  when they don’t press too hard and don’t try to do too much, good things happen.

When Matt Holliday hit the grand slam to tie it, Bob Geren was positively animated:  he smiled weakly and faked a small fist pump.  After the game when interviewed in his office, the smile was gone and he was very matter of fact and droll.  Come on, guy, show some emotion.  It helps pump up the team.  Jeez, you’d think someone died!  My husband may be on to somthing:  he thinks Geren’s a robot!

Road Trip:  This will probably be my last post for over a week.  The A’s and I are going on the road–together!  Sports Travel and Tours has put together a wonderful Hall Of Fame Induction trip.  We fly to New York and go to the A’s-Yankees game Friday night in the new Yankee Stadium.  The next day we motor up to Cooperstown for two days, culminating in the Induction of Rickey Henderson into the Baseball Hall of Fame. 
Rickey running.jpgOn Monday, our bus takes us on to Boston where we watch the A’s play the Red Sox in Fenway Park that night.  The next day we drive back to New York where we go to the new Citi Field to see the Mets play the Colorado Rockies.  The following day we come home. Sounds pretty fabulous to me.  I am really jazzed about going.

So this is all you’ll hear from me most likely until late next week, when I will report on the trip and the A’s once again.  Go A’s!!! 

Speed Guns, Testosterone and a Snafu

First of all, this is a long post for which I apologize, but I think you’ll see why when you read it.

Sunday’s game at Phoenix Municipal Stadium was truly surreal.  I discovered the snafu when I took my ticket out of my fanny pack and looked at it.  I was supposed to be sitting with my friends from Sacramento in Section F, Row 2, Seat 4, which is in the shade.  I have very fair skin and freckles and I definitely do not do sun.  But my ticket it said I was to sit in Lower Box 1, row 2, seat 4, which would not get shade until sometime this evening when the stadium would be empty.

I showed my ticket to an usher who gave me a very strange look and asked, “Are you an usherette, or do you work for a team?”  I replied, ‘No, this is the ticket that was sent to me.  I’m supposed to be in Section F.”  He smiled and pointed down to the rows right behind home plate.  “Well, when you get down there, take a look at the name badges of the guys sitting around you.  Some of them are former baseball players.”  Cool, I thought, this could be interesting.

When I got down to my seat, my main thought was that I wasn’t going to last long in the Arizona sun.  Should I go to the box office and ask for a shade seat?  I had a long-sleeved sun shirt on and a wide-brimmed hat in my bag so I decided to stick it out in row 2 for the time being and see what happened.  I sat down and took in the situation. 

The first five rows of this section were empty except for me.  This didn’t surprise me as it was about an hour before game time.  It was getting warm and I was thirsty so I left my bag under my seat and went off in search of a Pyramid Hefeweizen.  Beer in hand I returned to my seat, my bag was still there, but still no people in the first five rows.

The first guy to join me was Craig Colbert who played and coached for the Giants.  He is now the Advance Scout for the Phillies. He and I chatted about baseball and scouting and I told him about my book.  Others straggled in over the next half hour, including Lee McPhail IV, Director of Professional Scouting for the Baltimore Orioles who was there with one of his scouts.  Next came a couple of other guys whose nametags I couldn’t see, and a scout from the Colorado Rockies, the team the A’s were playing that day.  I talked to quite a few of them and apologized for the ticket mix-up.  I guess I was feeling really self-conscious around all this maleness. But they were all very polite and welcomed me.

To my right a couple of seats, another guy sat down and looked over at me.  I stuck out my hand and introduced myself.  He said his name was Richard Schlenker, a scout for the Angels, who lives in Walnut Creek, CA, near where I live.  I was becoming more at ease around all this testosterone (the beer helped) so I told him about my book and gave him my card.  He wanted to know more about the novel and said he’d look for it.

Shortly before game time, guys began trickling into the seats in the first row.  Let me step back a second and paint a picture of this scene.  Four feet in front of me was the net that would protect us from foul balls.  Twenty feet beyond that was home plate.  I could hear everything that was said on the field.  Several of the players and media guys waved or nodded at the guys in the row in front of me. 

My curiosity finally got the better of my shyness and I tapped the shoulder of a tall guy with a broad-brimmed hat seated in the front row one seat to left, and asked him who he scouted for.  “The Oakland A’s,” he replied and introduced himself as Craig Weismann.  Two seats to his right a young man with dark hair sat down.  I tapped his shoulder and asked the same question, to which he replied, “I’m not a scout, I’m the Assistant GM of the A’s.”  “David Forst,” I managed to blurt, and he nodded.  I had to pinch myself to convince myself this was really happening.

To top that, while I was talking to one of the other scouts another guy sat down between Craig Weismann and David Forst.  I didn’t see his face because he was facing forward wearing a brimmed hat.  Only when he got up to speak to someone at the other end of the row, did I recognize him as Billy Beane, the A’s General Manager.  And I thought Craig Colbert had made my day!

During the game, the ambience in the first five rows was so different from the rest of the stands.  No beers were in the cup holders except for mine, just sodas and bottled water.  While action was happening on the field, our section was deathly quiet; these guys were working and they were all business.   And as the pitcher stepped on the rubber and came set, as if choreographed by Michael Smuin, each of the scouts in perfect unison raised a hand gripping a Stalker Sport speed gun and aimed it at the pitcher.  As the latter started his delivery, the scouts pulled their triggers.  Within a fraction of a second the velocity of the pitch showed up on the two inch screen at the back of the speed gun.  Then each scout lowered his weapon to scribble something in the open notebook sitting on his lap.  When each subsequent pitch was thrown, the dance was reprised.

Between innings everything changed.  Conversation erupted and the guys talked about everything but baseball.  I heard a discussion of the blues and where to hear it in Phoenix.  Forst and Weismann talked about playing basketball.  Apparently, David started a team at Spring Training with a couple of guys from the front office, a couple of sports writers, and others.  They play at the Giants facility in Scottsdale.  Who they play is anyone’s guess, probably front office guys from the Giants or other MLB teams.  Others behind me talked about which Hollywood star could play a certain baseball player if they ever made a movie about the latter.  Then their conversation wandered off to things about Hollywood in general. I sat there soaking it all in and taking notes.

On the field the A’s played baseball against the Colorado Rockies.  A’s pitcher Sean Gallagher struggled a bit in the first inning and gave up a run, but he got a four-run lead to work with in the bottom of the first, courtesy of  Rockies pitcher Greg Smith, one of the players the A’s had traded for Matt Holliday in the offseason.  The Rockies scored runs in the third and fourth innings to take the lead at 6-5.  Not again, I thought.  We had already lost the other two games I had seen, but no further damage was done by either team until the ninth inning.

After an uneventful top of the ninth, I figured I’d better move up to the seat I had originally signed up for and reconnoiter with my friends.  I stood up and bid the guys good bye and thanked them for a very colorful afternoon.  They wished good luck with the book and I left, still reeling from the amazing experience.

In the bottom of the ninth, A’s outfielder Chris Denorfia stroked walk-off home run with a runner on board to win the game with a final score of 7-6, breaking the A’s 11-game losing streak.  What could be better than that?  Well, maybe sitting with the A’s front office and a bunch of major league scouts for eight and a half innings. Just maybe.