Thursday, January 28, 2010

Paul Janish v. Orlando Cabrera

The latest news radiating off the hot stove:

Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports reports that free agent infielder Orlando Cabrera is "choosing between offers" from the Rockies and Reds.
The Reds can offer much more playing time, but the 35-year-old Cabrera may prefer to play for a potential contender like the Rockies. He batted .284/.316/.705 last season with nine home runs and 77 RBI in 708 plate appearances between the Athletics and Twins and earned $4 million. Jan. 28 - 8:13 pm et

For the Reds sake, let's hope that he chooses the Rockies and the Reds are "forced" to use Paul Janish. Cabrera is on the wrong side of 30 and is coming off a poor 2009 season. Here is how he performed last year:

2009 Orlando Cabrera (Age 34 Season)

BA/OBP/SLG/OPS: .284/.316/.389/.705

Defensive Metrics
UZR/150: -13.7
+/- Runs Saved: -29 which ranks him 35th among qualifying shortstops.

To break it down even further, here is how he handled plays in different situations:
To his right: -26
Straight on: -4
To his left: -11

Groundballs: -41
Flyballs: +2
Total: -39

2009 Salary: $4M

Here is another nugget to be considered, Total Runs.

"Originally published in The Fielding Bible Volume II, Total Runs calculates a total value for each player based on his contributions on offense and on defense. There are four elements to Total Runs: runs created, runs saved, baserunning runs, and a positional adjustment that enables a comparison of players across positions."

Paul Janish Total Runs (2009)

Runs Created: 22
Runs Saved: 11
Baserunning Runs: -1
Positional Average: 15
Total Runs: 47

Orlando Cabrera Total Runs (2009)
Runs Created: 76
Runs Saved: -32
Baserunning Runs: 1
Positional Average: 35
Total Runs: 80

So, in 2009, Orlando Cabrera had a total value of 80 runs to his teams, while Paul Janish had a total value of only 47 to the Reds. So, O-Cab was roughly 41.3% more valuable to his team than Janish. Impressive, no? Well, given that O-Cab had a significant playing time advantage over Janish, I'd say that no, it isn't impressive at all. Total Runs is not a rate stat, so it is dependent on playing time. The more you play, the more opportunities you have to be of value to your team. So, you have to take into account the amount of time a player is on the field.

In 2009, O-Cab got 708 total plate appearances and 1388.2 defensive innings at shortstop, while Janish received 292 plate appearances and 592.1 defensive innings at shortstop.

So, O-Cab got 58.8% more plate appearances and 57.3% more defensive innings than Janish.

So, in sum, in order for O-Cab to be 41% more valuable to his team than Janish, he had to receive 59% more plate appearances and 57% more defensive innings. VERY IMPRESSIVE!!!

That's not even taking into account their respective salaries in 2009 and their likely salaries in 2010. Or, the fact that Janish was a rookie who hasn't reached his "peak" seasons yet and O-Cab is going to be 35-years old in 2010 and is clearly on a steep down slope.

Or, to put it more simply, O-Cab's Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in 2009 was a paltry 0.6, while Janish posted a 1.1.

By just about any measure, Paul Janish was BETTER than Orlando Cabrera in 2009 and given that Janish should be trending up and O-Cab should be winding down, I fail to see how that's going to change in 2010. The only way O-Cab would be an improvement for us is if he wasn't as bad defensively as he showed in 2009 and Janish wasn't as good. Anyone want to bet on the 35 year old over the rookie in a "regression to the mean" wager????

Obviously, there is still a bit of fog in defensive metrics, but I think they are at least in the right ballpark. This is the type of analysis that the Reds should be using. Taking into consideration the entire player to properly value what they bring to the table.

In summary, it's difficult to "improve" by adding more expensive, less productive players. Why pay more for name recognition when Paul Janish would bring at least as much production at a lower cost? Fact remains, Aroldis Chapman is the way we should be spending our money. Ramon Hernandez, Willy Taveras, and Orlando Cabrera are a complete waste of resources. Put the resources into players who *could* be significantly above league average, not into guys who are, at best, only marginally better than league average or even replacement level.


  1. agreed. tejada would have been a good pickup, not this tool bag

  2. Despite his poor offensive performance last year, I think Janish is a shoe-in to hit better than .316 obp. He has shown the ability to vastly improve in his second stints at different levels. Just play him. We can survive a couple months trial with him at minimum plus with him and Stubbs and Hanigan, we have one of the best defensive teams around.

    If our fielding independent pitching is really strong and him and the offense are struggling come June, give Frazier a go at that point.

  3. I am Will,

    I couldn't disagree more with the analysis here Lark, sorry. 1st let me just say that Tejada is no longer a SS (his range has been terrible for quite sometime) so I would have to respectfully disagree with smitty on that front.

    Janish's problem(s) has little to nothing to do with anything that he can actually fix, so I would disagree with the notion that he can actually trend upward much if at all. Yeah he could do a smidge better with experience and knowing the pitchers and their game plan against him, plus a little good luck could find it's way to him. All that said his real problem is he just doesn't have much offensive talent and that my friends is god given which means he's got as much as he is gonna get. Perhaps there is something he can do in his swing mechanics to maximize torque he doesn't seem to get as much of his legs into it as he could but not far off either.

    On Cabrera and with regards to his defense. When using defensive metrics one must look further than one season, simply put there is simply not enough data in 1 season to make an informed decision on anyone. It's more than possible that it's correct about Orlando, I didn't watch him enough in '09 to gather if he had slipped due to regression/injury or other factors that we may not be aware of. However Cabrera's UZR in '07 and '08 suggest an above average defender. I think for the right price and due to our lack of legitimate big league ready SS options he is a must get to give us a chance to not have a below average Janish hitting right in front of our main and practically only run producer. If we are gonna score enough runs to be a winning team we need all the help we can get. If after S/T or into May or June Cabrera has shown he has lost it then he can go to the bench and be a solid backup MI and pinch hitter with Janish starting but I don't believe Cabrera would relinquish the job once he gets it, I've heard mixed reviews on his defense last year but nothing concrete and that makes me believe his combination of actual offense and defense in '10 will be best for us.

  4. he is on the wrong side of 30 and has a career 720 OPS, Janish is capable of an OPS similiar to that with much better defense. I think your overvalueing cabreras defense, its worse than tejadas. Im not saying tejada plays good defense, im just pointing out how awful cabreras has become. Tejada would have been an upgrade over Janish because of his much better offense, Janish will be worth more WAR than cabrera because he plays ridiculously better defense and only slightly worse offense.

  5. I disagree with ya smitty. I think stories of Cabrera's defensive decline have been a bit exagerrated. Also there is nothing to suggest Janish can get anywhere near acceptable offensively especially in light of the fact Dusty will stick him in the 2 hole long enough to kill any chance we might be fortunate to have of being a winnning team/wildcard contender (even though that's a bit of a stretch anyhow). He had a .601 OPS last season and that was after a great offseason in which he "bulked up" to raise his slugging to .305, ouch! But like I suggested there is no reason not to sign him and hope he is average defensively and gives us a .700 OPS, if not Janish gets his shot. Hey nothing wrong with competition. Not too mention who plays SS if Janish were to get hurt? The more options the better IMO.

  6. Paul Janish-
    minor league career ops 733

    minor league career OBP 351

    has excellent k/bb ratio, so he makes good contact. If he could add a little strength behind the balls he puts in play he could hit for a decent avg. and hes 28 so hes still young. Plays plus plus plus defense. Is already on the team and cheap. Is young and could surprise or tank out

    orlando cabrera

    career 720 OPS

    career 322 OBP

    also has excelent k/bb ratio but doesnt have a high obp so wouldnt be the 2 hole hitter you were thinking would be good in front of votto. Is 35 and regressing. plays below avg defense.
    would demand around 3 million that we dont have. Is a vet so you know what your getting.

    Im sorry i just have to go with janish, He just makes more since

  7. Great to see the conversation rolling on here!!

    First, to smitty, I'm not a huge fan of Miguel Tejada, but he's undoubtedly better than Orlando Cabrera. Still, I'd have a hard time watching him at shortstop these days, as he should slide over to third for some organization.

    Second, as to McWax, I agree with you on Janish. I know I'm in the minority on this, but I also prefer Dickerson in left. Everyone seems to be slotting O-Cab into the #2 slot in the lineup, but I'd say Dickerson and Stubbs could be the answer in the first two spots in the order.

    Personally, I love the idea of Dickerson in left and Stubbs in center, with Rolen at third and Janish at short. You know who else loves that idea? The entire Reds pitching staff! Seriously, would a ground ball EVER get through the left side of our infield??? Would a flyball EVER fall in for a hit anywhere from left to center field???

  8. Will,

    Interesting thoughts. Here are a couple of thoughts.

    First, I agree on the defensive metrics. The emerging rule of thumb on UZR is that you should look at a three year stretch of time to accurately gauge defensive performance. So, there is still a degree of fog and uncertainty in the metrics. Still, when you are dealing with an aging player, I'm not sure including his younger, more spry defensive seasons does much to improve the evaluation of his current level of defensive performance.

    Even so, when multiple metrics reveal similar results, then I think you can be a bit more confident. In addition, when the commonly held precepts of baseball support the statistics, then I think you can feel more confident. Here, you have Janish's defensive level of performance matching his scouting reports and reputation. And, you have O-Cab's defensive decline matching his age inspired decline phase of his career. Again, I wouldn't argue that the run values are exactly right, as I don't buy that level of precision from the metrics, but I do think they are in the right ballpark for both Janish and O-Cab.

    I tend to think the steroid era has distorted a lot of our views on players. First, the notion that shortstop should be an offense creating position. Now that the steroid crowd is in retreat, there is something of a regression in the shortstop position to a defense first position. Second, we are returning to the days when players actually deteriorated in the mid to late 30s. Steroids delayed the effects of aging, but now vets are once again aging far less gracefully. How many 35+ year old shortstops do you see out there? Given that, the expectations for the shortstop position should probably be adjusted downward.

    Next, I think the Bill James notion that it's important to focus on what a player does well, not what a player does poorly. Janish does have value, if the Reds recognize how to use it.

    There are players out there who have value, but value that lies largely in their first 0-3 seasons and, to a lesser extent, their 4-6 seasons. They provide great bang-for-the-buck, but once they hit free agency they lose value. I think Matt Murton is/was that type of guy. Paul Janish is that type of guy. They do a few things well and do it at a very low cost.

    Now that I've got the general thoughts out of the way, on to the specific issues at hand.

    Two considerations that work against O-Cab and in favor of Janish.

    1. Age. O-Cab is clearly in his decline phase, while Janish should still be trending upwards.

    2. Cost. Orlando is a free agent, while Janish is still in his 0-3 service time period.

    One consideration that works in O-Cab's favor.

    1. The GABP effect. O-Cab could get a bump in offensive production from the friendly confines. Call it the Joe Randa/Rich Aurilia effect.

    Here, you have a situation where O-Cab was arguably a worse player than Janish in 2009. For the signing to make any sense, O-Cab has to take his game up a notch. In fact, a single notch would only bring him up to the level of Janish, so he has to bring it up two notches to offset his higher cost and make him the better value.

    So, obviously, when we are talking about levels of performance and the likelihood that O-Cab will improve, he has to improve to even reach the level of Paul Janish. Even if he were to do that, he'd still be the worse option because he will cost 5-6 times as much.

    I just really don't see it.

  9. Some thoughts on Janish.

    Obviously, there is a lot to like about his glove work, but here are a few things to like about his offensive game.

    First, I'll say I like his approach at the plate. He uses a calm approach and a compact swing that gives him a short path to the ball. And, his swing is a line drive swing. It's not award winning, but it should/could be serviceable.

    Hitting is about walks, contact rate, and the type of contact.

    1. Janish has good plate discipline. In the minors, his career OBP was 0.90 points higher than his batting average, which is impressive, especially so for a middle infielder.

    So, he knows how to control the zone and draw a walk.

    2. For his MLB career, Janish is making contact when he swings 83.9% of the time. Not great, but certainly not bad. In addition, his K/AB percentage at the MLB level is 17.3%, so he strikes out less than 1 out of every 5 at bats. Again, very respectable.

    3. As for type of contact, Janish again is surprisingly strong, as evidenced by his MLB career line drive rate of 19.8%. When he makes contact, he hits a lot of line drives.

    When you add those factors together, you have the makings of a productive hitter. He draws his fair share of walks, makes contact at a good clip, and when he makes contact he hits a high percentage of line drives.

    So, why is hitting a paltry .211? His BABIP was .230 in 2008 and .247 in 2009. Still, I'm not sure we can chalk it up to luck.

    Here is the real problem with Paul Janish: infield fly balls.

    In 2008 and 2009, his infield fly ball rate was 16%, which is very high. And, unfortunately, infield flyballs are the absolute worst type of ball in play you can have, as they result in an out 95%+ of the time. It's basically an automatic out.

    The question is why does he hit so many infield flyballs? Obviously, a lack of power has something to do with it. He simply doesn't drive the ball with much authority.

    Still, that's not entirely it, as Rocco Baldelli is another hitter who consistently posts high infield fly rates (15% for his career). So, it's not just a lack of power.

    I don't have any evidence to support it, but I suspect that he chases too many high fastballs, which he just can't get on top of.

    Whatever the reason, if he can chop that rate in half, then all of a sudden his walk rate, contact rate, and line drive tendencies will work more effectively to raise his level of production.

  10. I am Will,

    Guys don't get me wrong Janish I love almost everything about the kid except for the fact that he doesn't have the results. I agree with ya Lark on the how and why his results are what they are I.E. lack of power and a tendency to pop up. My theory on the pop ups is that his bat speed is insufficient, I don't think he's getting around on fastballs which tends to reulst in an irregular amount of IF/F's. Lack of bat speed is a career killer because there is very little that can be done to offset the issue. The good news about Paul is that he has and likely will continue to do everything within his control to offset it.

    My main point(s) is this. #1 We can't afford Paul OPS'ing .600 and OBPing .290 (or worse) in the 2 hole for any extended period of time and frankly like it or not Dusty will put him in that 2 hole for an extended period of time. Dusty believes if you can make contact that means you can hit, which isn't completely true. And let's not forget here we also don't exactly have a gauranteed CF/Leadoff Hitter yet, Drew Stubbs is quite likely to struggle greatly at times. With those 2 hitting 1-2 we would again be a below average offense. With Cabrera he gives us a shot at mediocrity at the top which is an improvement, especially if Dusty figures out that Stubbs struggles hitting leadoff (always has) even though he has most of the skillset to do so. We did our best run scoring early on and late in the season last year. Early on Taveras did ok and Hairston is quite similiar offensively speaking as OCab, those guys did allow us to score ok early on. Late we had a new to the league Stubbs who started off hot at the top. Offensively this is a no brainer IMO it improves us in the #2 hole from .280 or .290 OBP to maybe .320 .330 and frankly with as tight as this FO has been all you can ask for is an improvement of any kind.

    Defensively I'm of the opinion that the numbers for Cabrera are a bit skewed as he played in 2 places where it's not easy to play defense on the IF. Oakland has always had a bit of a reputation for having a crappy IF to play on and Minny had Astroturf still which does play fast. Certainly Cabrera in his prime would have been fine but an aged Cabrera no doubt would have his issues on them. In short I don't expect the young GG winning defender he once was but I think he's better than what the stats suggest. Overall in order to be an upgrade all he has to do is be + in UZR and I think he's realistically probably somewhere around +5 to +10 somewhere.

    Bottom line I think he's still a good enough defender and a good enough hitter to improve us and erase what otherwise would have been a very likely major black hole in the lineup. And although not ideal he'll keep the position above water.

    My ideal lineup would be if Stubbs can handle the leadoff spot and Heisey/Dickerson hit #2 but I can live with either STubbs or Heisey/Dickerson leading off and OC #2.

  11. Will,

    It may well be a problem with bat speed. I always have a hard time evaluating bat speed. It seems you can notice it on the extremes (i.e. the best and the worst), but not so much in the middle. I'm not sure Janish is at one of the poles, but he could be. At the very least, I suspect he needs to lay off the high ones, which again I don't think he handles very well.

    Still, I don't see why Janish can't learn to lay off the high stuff and hit more ground balls. I think it's important to categorize flaws as either unchangeable or changeable. Not all weaknesses in a player's game are fatal. I suspect that Janish could alter his swing to hit more groundballs, if given the opportunity and the right coaching.

    As for his OPS, I think we could very easily handle Janish OPSing ~.650. I used to think he needed to be at .700, but with his glove I think we could get good overall run value if he was at .650. Of course, I wouldn't want him in the 2 slot and it's sad that we have to make player personnel decisions to minimize the damage that our manager could cause. But, that's a discussion for another day. :)

    As for Stubbs, I, too, fear that he will suffer through some growing pains. His strikeout rate will make him susceptible to slumps and I'm not convinced we can count on him as a leadoff man. That's part of why I still want Dickerson in left, as he can effectively handle the leadoff spot and may provide a bit more power than he has in the past. I still think it's in there...somewhere.

    As for 0-Cab, the deal has already creased the sheets, so no using fretting about it, but I still don't like it. I think we could have gotten similar (if not better) overall production from Janish at a significantly lower cost. In MLB, lower revenue teams MUST get more units of production per dollar spent than high revenue teams or else the higher revenue teams will simply outspend them to win. It's all about efficiency. You have to hammer down on costs to get the most bang for the buck.

    But, ultimately, the grass is always greener and batting average is still easier for the fans to understand/value than a play deep in the hole at shortstop.

    But, it is what it is. Thanks for the well thought out comment!


  12. I am Will,

    Not a problem Lark, glad to find folks who we can agree and/or agree to disagree without getting into a pissing contest. Basically I see your points just fine I just happen to think that Cabrera will surprise you defensively if you give too much creedence to '09. However I could be wrong as I am basing alot of that opinion of off what others have told me, the little I have seen of him last season and a hunch or 2. But I just can't stomach to watch Paul be an out machine for 2-3 months ruining any small chance we might have to be a winning team before Dusty begrudgingly moves him down in the order. If Tony LaRussa were the Mgr I'd imagine he'd get the best out of Paul and I could live with him in the #8 or even #9 hole at least until he hits arbitration. If Dusty were not the Mgr I would probably agree that Cabrera is perhaps not worth the money for a marginal upgrade, but I have to factor the Dusty into the equation unfortunately.

  13. Will,

    I couldn't agree more. It's far more difficult than it should be to find a decent substantive discussion. Far too often, whatever the subject, people come into discussions with entrenched views and condescending comments for people who don't share them. I've always enjoyed a good discussion with diverse opinions and a respectful tone. That's what I wanted to establish over on the message board side and thanks to you (and Smitty and others) for helping to bring it to this blog as well.

    As for O-Cab, you may well be right. I wouldn't be surprised if he bounced back, but I still don't view him as being much of an upgrade over Janish and certainly not a better value. I just think it's a mistake not to spend the money on the true difference makers and rely on the cost-controlled talent to fill out the complimentary roles. Now that the deal is done, I'm just rooting for O-Cab to get the Randa/Aurilia offensive bump from Great American Ballpark.

    As for Dusty, I loathed the hire from the moment it happened. He is, quite literally, the last baseball man I would want at the helm of my team. To be honest, he's been a bit less detrimental than I thought, but that's really not saying much. And, I DO think that the front office has to do things to limit the options at Dusty's disposal, which is a rather sad commentary on the state of affairs.

    Anyway, I'll have to hope for the best on Orlando.

    Thanks for the comment!


  14. I am Will,

    Exactly I would much rather have a respectful discussion but some places just won't allow for it. I think it depends on what one is there for, are you writing on a blog or message board to preach or is it your intention to find real answers to ever evolving problems and help others get there also. Are you a preacher or are you a teacher and a student. And the difference I think is listening and genuinely trying to learn something from someone else. But some places just jump on ya and beat ya down and then you go into defensive mode and can't ever get a 2nd chance to just conversate without feeling the threat of being criticized.

    So I say thanks for those who write here especially you Lark for allowing things to flow naturally and not be to quick to assume what someone is trying to say and not be so quick to be critical of another. That type of leadership is what makes it work.

  15. I guess on the O-Cab/Janish front I can see a scenario where Pauls offensive production doesn't increase and in fact may get worse. How far would he have to fall for this to be an intelligent acquisition. Because I just don't see Pual doing much positive once pitchers understand that the best way to attack Paul is to not walk him. Is he capable of putting up a decent line of that happens? I can see why one might think so (his LD% coupled with contact rate) but I just don't know and can't make myself buy into it yet. And this is coming from a guy who once was one of the few voices to give him his opportunity because of what I did see as positives in him. Look at it this way if it's a bat speed issue I think he doesn't get any better because he's really done about all he can do to offset that (building strength) that I am aware of. If it isn't a bat speed issue he may have a shot at being adequate. And I get what you are saying on the philosophical aspect of building a club in the macro but in the micro sometimes you have to just simply do what's best at the time and in the short term and I believe in this instance signing Cabrera was a smart move and a must for the sake of the team. In large part because (and this is another discusssion...but) I don't think the philosophy works unless you have good talent evaluators and I'm not of the opinion that we currently have many if any at all. Sure it's not hard to recognize Aroldis Chapman has great talent and that Justin Tordi doesn't have much (relative to their peers) but the less obvious ones are the ones that guys just don't seem to be getting a good read on.

    As for Dusty I feel the same way as you do. He's not as bad as advertised and frankly has some strengths but he's weak spots are organizational killers. If he were the hitting coach I think I'd be all right with him, maybe. Although I'd want to delve deeper into what his take is when the pitcher doesn't give you anything you can drive. In fact I wish I could interview this guy because I have a sneaking suspicion he's a bit misunderstood but if not I think I could get to the bottom of Dusty and real answers.

  16. Will,

    Well, thanks. To me, it all comes down to whether you have an open or closed mind. If you start with a closed mind, then new ideas are threatening. If you don't have an open mind, then you are constantly trying to protect your views by shooting down conflicting ones. On the other hand, if you come into a discussion with an open mind, then a substantive discussion with a free flow of ideas necessarily follows. If that happens, then the validity of the various viewpoints can be explored and people can actually learn and even change their minds on a subject. Something positive and productive can emerge from a substantive discussion of issues.

    To tie it back to baseball, this is part of the problem I have with sabermetricians. I love statistical analysis and the ways it has changed my view of the game and my valuation of players. It's truly fantastic. On the other hand, many sabermetricians frequently come off as condescending in discussions. Given how fast statistical analysis is developing, I wouldn't feel 100% comfortable lecturing others about baseball truisms.

    For example, the notion that there is "no such thing as clutch", now even Bill James has flipped on the issue. For one thing, there is a difference between non-existent and unquantifiable. Other examples are BABIP, which was one thought to be outside of the hitter's control, while we now know that type of ball in play is a determining factor in BABIP. Or, how baserunning was once marginalized by early sabermetricians who pointed to "walks and three-run homers." New statistics are beginning to show the value of good baserunning and that the Angels are consistently at the top of the heap.

    Again, an open mind and an understanding of what we don't know would seem to be keys to quality discussion.

    Anyway, just my $.02. Thanks for the comment!


  17. Will,

    As for Janish, I just don't see him getting worse. Interesting to see you ponder how far Janish would have to fall for the O-Cab signing to be a good one. I tend to think of it as how much O-Cab would have to improve to be worthwhile. So, that alone is interesting. Regardless, I don't think Janish regresses or O-Cab improves enough to make this signing a good one.

    To be honest, all this discussion has me reconsidering Janish. As I mentioned in one of these blog posts, if you were to tell me that we had a shortstop who had 1) a strong walk rate, 2) good rate of contact, and 3) a high rate of line drives then I would never have given much credence to the idea that he wouldn't be a viable offensive player. However, maybe a sheer lack of power works to completely negate those attributes, at least when coupled with a high fly ball rate.

    Still, I do think Janish is the better option and I do think he can improve to at least the .650 OPS level. His swing is compact, so he should be to fairly quick to the ball even if he lacks good bat speed. I still think the problem is that he simply isn't hitting the ball on the ground often enough, which shouldn't be a bat speed issues as much as a flaw in his approach. And, a flaw that is fixable.

    Still, maybe questionable power is more of an issue than I had previously thought. For example, I'm a huge Daric Barton fan. Barton has the best approach at the plate in the game this side of Albert Pujols. He almost never chases a pitch out of the strike zone, he makes contact on pitches in the zone at a very high clip, and hits line drives with great frequency. Still, he has yet to really emerge. And, maybe it IS the lack of power that is holding him back. Personally, I think he breaks out in 2010 (he's a sleeper of mine, even if he only hits 15 bombs), but if not then I'll have to reconsider the inherent benefits of power (as opposed to the obvious run producing benefits).

    I do agree that a lack of power can be a problem for good plate discipline. Prospects in the minors with very good on-base skills, but little power, typically don't perform well in the majors. Pitchers simply aren't afraid to challenge the hitter, which nullifies the ability to control the zone. Simply put, you have to be able to do something with the pitch when you get it.

    Still, I think Janish has enough skills to keep the pitcher honest and Barton certainly does as well. An approach at the plate is all about getting a good pitch to hit, but you still have to be able to do something with that pitch when you get it. I don't think it has gotten to the point where pitchers are negating Janish's on-base skill by simply throwing him strikes quite yet, but it would be something to put on the mental backburner for later consideration.

    Still, when all is said and done. I'd rather have Janish over O-Cab.

    Anyway, thanks for the comment!


  18. Great write-up, Lark.

    GMs love grabbing guys that they saw in the playoffs the year before. And Cabrera is the king of that. Been on 7 teams in the last 7 years and in the playoffs five of those years.

    Have you ever thought about joining the Yardbarker Blogger Network? We're looking for content just like this. I'd love to tell you more about the opportunity and our syndication efforts. If you're interested in hearing more, hit me up at

    Sorry to do this in the comments, but I couldn't find a contact form.


  19. Jeff,

    Good point on O-Cab. Unfortunately, at times fans mistake activity for improvement. Dropping $4M guaranteed on O-Cab seems to be more of the former than the latter, but at least the fan base is eating it up.

    At this point, I'm hoping for a Great American Ballpark boost for his offense and that he rides the team coat-tails to a 6th playoff appearance in 2010.

    As for yardbarker, I'd like to hear more about it. I just shot you an e-mail from, so shoot me a reply when you get a chance.


  20. Lark,

    I'd agree on the sabermetric community and also with some traditional ways of thinking as well. And of course I fall about where you do on on the two somewhere in the middle.

    As to Janish v. Cabrera (starting to sound like case law, LOL) I didn't mean to intimate that I think Janish must go backwards in order for the Cabrera signing to be a positive. Just that I suspect it will be more positive because I'm not confident Paul can improve and may devolve. I see what you are getting at with Paul hitting the ball on the ground more and it may improve his game some, but let's not forget that Eckstein and to a lesser extent Everett had better raw speed than does Janish. He's actually kind of a plodder himself, as much as a SS can be. I just don't see any way for him to even be Adam Everett (and that's borderline too little offense) and Adam had 2 .700 OPS seasons (career .648). However I withold judgement for now because what Paul does do better than Everett is control the strikezone and make sound decisions at the plate. We'll see but I think we'll be glad we signed OCab. If not well I've ate crow before.


  21. Will,

    It is beginning to sound a bit like a civil suit. ;) O-Cab v. Janish.

    Interesting perspective on the speed difference between Janish and Everett/Eckstein. I'm not entirely sure how much of a difference it would make on their offensive production. If Janish can hit the ball on the ground, then his production should improve. How much of a practical difference would Janish's lesser speed have on his production when compared to the production of Everett/Eckstein? I'm really not sure. I kinda doubt that his lesser speed costs him all that many hits. Maybe a handful here or there, but, to me, the main difference between Janish and Everett/Eckstein remains the lower level of ground balls.

    Eckstein understands his limitations and how to get the most out of his abilities. Janish hasn't yet figured out how to be as productive as he could be. If Janish starts hitting the ball on the ground, then even his plodding speed should be enough to get him more substantial production. Speed isn't something that can really be improved upon, but the groundball rate SHOULD be improvable.

    Ultimately, I don't like the O-Cab signing, but the "upgrade" from Janish to O-Cab is less concerning than the underlying philosophy driving it. It's entirely possible that O-Cab will be the more productive option or, at least, be a negligible upgrade/downgrade from Janish. It's the poor return on investment that we get from these established vets. Willy T, Ramon, and O-Cab are more acceptable to the fan base because they are established.

    A similar thing happened to the Giants, as they signed Edgar Renteria for a hefty salary to address their hole at shortstop. The fan base was placated despite the fact that Edgar provided minimal production. They could have gotten similar offense and defense from a $350K in-house option like Kevin Frandsen, but instead threw millions at Edgar.

    I'm not entirely sure why organizations are more interested in securing established mediocre talent, when there is a tremendous amount of free talent floating around out there. It must be the fear of the unknown that drives it (the risk you know vs. the risk you don't), but the organization needs to recognize and take advantage of the efficiency benefits to be reaped by utilizing home grown talent.

    The Reds, as a middle market team, have little margin for error and wasting money on an expensive vet when a comparable inexpensive home grown option is available is a dubious strategy, at best.

    Thanks for the comment!