Saturday, January 20, 2007

The daily update on all things LaRoche

Well, it's official. Adam LaRoche and Mike Gonzalez passed their physicals and the trade was officially completed yesterday. For all the conspiracy theorists, Ian Snell has replaced Gonzo on the banner at, meaning there's no turning back on this one.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of yesterday was to hear LaRoche say he's actually excited to come to Pittsburgh. I don't know why that should surprise us, though. Everyone wants to go play somewhere that they can be "the man" and that's what he's going to be here. The fact that he and Bobby Cox didn't get along well in Atlanta was no secret and it probably had something to do with his ADD that went unmedicated until mid-season last year (I don't know why some Pirate fans are freaking out when they read that, it wasn't a secret by any means, in fact it was one of the first things mentioned when all this trade talk started). So he's here and he's happy to be here and right now that's about all we can ask for. According to that article, he should be at Piratefest on the first day, when I would assume that things will be buzzing and actually buzzing about the Pirates this year.

Meanwhile, I've seen people all over the internet freak out about the roughly proposed batting order. It's even permeated the incredibly happy Pirates Q&A at the PG recently. The rough line-up the Pirates are talking about using right now is probably the following one.

  1. Duffy
  2. Wilson
  3. Sanchez
  4. LaRoche
  5. Bay
  6. Nady
  7. Paulino
  8. Castillo
I'll admit, I freak out too when I see Jack Wilson batting second and our best hitter batting fifth. And I disagree with the notion that Bay will hit better with runners on in the fifth spot because of there being "less pressure" on him there because there will still be "little protection" for him in that spot. But there's no point in making a big deal about it, because line-up structure traditionally has very little impact on runs scored. I know you probably don't believe me, so I ran two lineups through Baseball Musings lineup analysis tool using the 2006 ZiPS for the Pirates (this time I used Szymborski's build 2 which accounts for player movements through Craig Wilson so they're slightly different than the earlier ones I used). The first lineup I used was identical to the one above except with Bautista in the 8 slot for Castillo. The second lineup I used was as follows:
  1. Sanchez
  2. Bautista
  3. Bay
  4. LaRoche
  5. Nady
  6. Paulino
  7. Duffy
  8. Wilson
The first one was good for 4.596 runs per game, the second 4.630 runs per game. Over 162 games that's a six run difference. Using the old sabermatricians rule of 10 runs roughly equaling a win, the line-up is worth barely over half a win. Sure it's something, but is it something worth huffing and puffing about? I don't think so. The fact is that right now we're only projected to have 3 guys in our starting lineup with an OPS over .800. That's a much bigger problem than batting order. In a horrifying reminder of the past, the line-up tool shuffles the batting order into the best lineups in terms of runs per game. Our top four and six of our top seven have Chris Duffy batting third. I SWEAR TO GOD IF ANYONE TELLS DAVE LITTLEFIELD ABOUT THIS I WILL FIND THEM AND MAKE THEM PAY.