POTD J.J. Hardy - the Bad

Part I

Q.  Before we get to the Bad & Ugly, how are the cheekbones on this Triangle concept?

A.  Thing I like best about the Danks-Hudson-Hardy for Morrow (RRS?) -Lopez-Wilson pirouette is that it slides the org problem from SS to 2B.

The hole at SS is enough to make a lesser GM wake up with the night terrors; fixing second base is a completely different thing.  Hey, Matt Tuiasosopo could then play second, for that matter.  

Don't forget that the Danks-Hudson-Hardy pivot costs $5M in salary plus Mark Lowe -- essentially two more important players.  But, still, Danks is a very fine pitcher right now, and a plan that leaves us able to wrestle with the 170-lb second base problem, rather than the sumo SS problem, has its pleasant side.  :- )

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Q.  You said you don't expect J.J. Hardy to bounce back with the bat?  What, just 'cause he's from the NL Central?

A.  Here are J.J. Hardy's line drive totals for his career.  Do NOT read them if you had dairy for breakfast:

2005 - 21%

2006 - 19%

2007 - 17%

2008 - 15%

2009 - 14%

That decline has been:  (1) on an every-year basis, and (2) dating back to George W. Bush's defeat of John Kerry.  

J.J. Hardy is coming from the NL Central to the AL and to Safeco Field.

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Q.  Why would his LD% be doing an Olympics skiing long-jump?

A.  Now check Hardy's pitch-type values.  The man can't hit what?  ... wait for it ... fastballs and cutters. 

In 2009 this spiral down the toilet hit its logical culmination:  he started missing horribly on sucker pitches (O-Swing%). 

Sabermetrically, if not tools-scout wise, it's the dreaded slider-speed bat.  The pitchers are just getting ugly with this guy, two guys holding him from behind and another one doing the David Carradine double-kick to the coconuts. 

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Q.  Slider-speed bat?

A.  I wouldn't be so quick to say so, but all signs point to it like eighteen neon arrows in a Looney Toons clip.

Hardy's career SLG is .510 against LHP's, only .401 against RHP's.  

This dude is the antithesis of the Japanese "hit the tough pitches" batter.  Hardy looks for easy pitches to feast on.  If the M's land him, go for the garlic fries when it's Jered-against-J.J.  That'll be Pros against Joes.

 

Q.  Could he have another year like 2008, when he hit .283/.343/.478 with a 113 OPS+ ?

A.  He had a sky-high BABIP (for him) that year.  He had his highest HR/FB.  That 113 OPS+ was lucky.

I take 2007 to be the upside, when he hit for a 100 OPS+, that being a .273 AVG with a poor .323 OBP but a .463 SLG.   The 2007 line mirrors Jose Lopez' 2009 line, though Hardy did it in Milwaukee NL against Lopez' Safeco AL.

When J.J. had it together, he was the NL Jose Lopez offensively.

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Q.  But young players get better.

A.  Most do.  Bill Hall won't.  Don't bet the Black Pearl on J.J. Hardy's smooth, tee-shot-like career arc.  J.J. just got powerflushed by his original club.  He'd be coming over here with blue-stained, port-a-potty cleats and sanitary socks.

Still, if J.J. gets it back together, figure .260/.320/.420 and the pretty glovework at short.  That's a lot better than Ronny Cedeno, now ain't it.

Part III

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Comments

Champ sez,

I'm all for trading Morrow, but not for Hardy most likely. Definetly not for Dunn either unless the Nats pick up his entire '10 contract and throw in some talent.

That's a statement of your regard for Morrow, or your disregard for Adam Dunn?

Would be interested in hearing a neutral-emotion case against Dunn as the M's DH for 2010-12 or so...

2

Taro's picture

Taro

Giving up Morrow for Dunn is just plain nuts. Thats why I'm against it.

Is Dunn so much better than Thome or Delgado that your willing to pay $6mil PLUS Brandon Morrow for a single year of him?

I'm not convinced Dunn is going to be all that much better than Thome in '10 in the AL. I'm CERTAINLY not giving up Brandon Morrow+ $6mil for the delta between those two guys.

3

Taro's picture

Taro

Hes not that far off from Dunn in production when you account for the BABIP last year.

If you don't like Thome, theres Delgado, Matsui, Nick Johnson, Abreu, and others. All of these guys will cost less than Dunn and you don't have to give up Brandon Morrow for them.

I'm all for trading Morrow, but it needs to be in the right deal.

5

Delgado: Old and coming off of a catastrophic injury

Matsui: Old and with increasingly bad knees...and very unlikely to sign i Seattle after all those years as a Yankee...not to mention the fact that he and Ichiro don't like each other, or so the Japanese rumor mill has claimed

Nick Johnson: Hasn't had a full healthy season in at least 6 years...doesn't have anywhere remotely near Dunn's power.

Abreu: Old and coming off a fluke season in BABIP terms.  Won't come nearly as cheap as he did for the Angels.

Who are the 'others'...I guarantee I won't want any of them nearly as much as I want Dunn.

6

Taro's picture

Taro

It comes down to price.

I prefer Dunn too, but not by a ton. Certainly not enough to give up Brandon Morrow on top of the $.

7

Champ sez, also,

I think Lopez+Lowe+Vargas for Danks is hilariously one-sided for the Mariners. I can't see the White Sox accepting that deal.

You've got him at 5 WAR; I'm seeing 2.9 at this fangraphs link.  Are you looking at the year before?

Danks is a fine pitcher, but the WAR is 2.9 vs 2.6 and Lopez isn't going to blow a rotator cuff. 

Danks' K/BB is declining and there's some concern that he's less than a Grade A starter.  If he were Lester, a true 5.0 WAR guy fine, but do you see John Danks as a perennial All-Star?  I don't.

2.6 WAR is just about the worst-case for Lopez next year, granting a 50% chance of the worst-case...

8

Let's think this one through.

If you've got one 96 mph short reliever, one guy who can come into a tight game with men on base and shut down a rally...

Is that what he's worth to you?  The same +1 win as, say, Michael Saunders is worth?

............

Mark Lowe is a whale of a lot tougher to replace than all the +1 WAR position scrubs.  He's a +2 player to me.

Hey, you deal Lowe and run into some blown leads, a team problem, in the 7th and the 8th, is that two games in the standings or five?

9

Taro's picture

Taro

Lowe isn't a elite reliever though, although he throws as hard as one.

I'd absolutely do the proposed Lopez+Lowe+Vargas for Danks deal, I just think that the White Sox would laugh us out of the building on that one.

A guy like Brandon League is probably going to be better than Lowe and can be had for pennies.

10

If you knew you could sign an Orlando Hudson for $8M per year, freeing you up to deal Jose Lopez for an impact player, that's a rotisserie-type maneuver that could net out very well.

It would be a lot easier to do that, than to find a pitcher of John Danks' caliber for $8m per year.  So, yeah, in isolation, that's cool -- exploit a nice opportunity on the FA market, at a position where you're already strong, and then wheel around and make an impact trade.

Not usually very doable in the real majors, but I'd certainly rather have Hudson & Danks than Lopez + $6M.

...............

That's a separate issue from the other components, like Morrow-for-Hardy.  I'll be VERY interested to see if the Brewers can get marquee talent for a guy they just gave up on.

11

Taro's picture

Taro

Theres no way 2.6 WAR is a worst-case scenario. IMO its a slight upside scenario since you're asking him to hit 20-25 HRs again with average D.

Danks' 2.7 WAR in SAFECO? Now THAT is a worse case scenario. A lefty flyball pitcher like him has a chance to look like Felix in Safeco with ort D. He could be worth 6+ WAR for us. Lopez just doesn't have that upside.

Lopez hasn't had a 3 WAR seasib yet, Danks went 5+ in a bandbox in the AL.

The White Sox aren't taking that deal.

12

Taro's picture

Taro

#3 starters don't have 5 WAR seasons in HR ballbarks. Danks' upside far exceeds Lopez'. His best year was twice as valuable as Lopez best. Hes a great fit for Safeco, while Lopez is a terrible fit for Safeco.

I like the trade Dave at USSM proposed, I just don't think its realistic.

14

John Danks can play for my ballclub any time... the more so in Safeco... somebody wants to pencil him for +35 runs, no complaints here...

Lopez is a blue-chipper age-26 with experience... almost axiomatic that his arc is up from age 26 ... to regard his age-26 as his ceiling would be pretty unusual ...

But yeah.  Hard to imagine the Sox being interested in giving up Danks.  Maybe in '11.

15

dixarone's picture

dixarone

...but, I do want to point out that we can't stuff LH hitting players in every position just because of our home park... The Mariners do play 81 games on the road, too, last I checked.

"Lopez is a terrible fit for the park"...but he's managing with it, to a certain extent. The M's have to remain mindful, as the team is built, to not become uber-susceptible to opponent's LH pitching. Same thing on the pitching side though...not entirely sure it's in the M's best interest to end up with Felix plus 4 left-handed starters...great at Safeco maybe, but less of an advantage everywhere (81 games-worth) else.

 

17

MtGrizzly's picture

MtGrizzly

My problem with Lopez is less his handedness than his skill set. This team is still recovering from the Bavasi "grip it and rip it" offensive mentality. Replacing him with Hudson would be one more step to OBP recovery. That, I like.

I like the Danks trade idea too but I'm not sure how realistic it is. I guess the fact that the blogosphere reaction is roughly 50/50 regarding which organization is getting ripped off might be an indication that it could be more even than any one of us homers thinks.

Morrow for Hardy I am less enamored with. I think I would rather keep Morrow and sign Jack to a two year deal. And I'm as down on Morrow as anyone - I see a lot of Kyle Lohse in him, not necessarily in his arsenal but in his erratic nature.

 

18

The odd thing about Lopez is the fact that he's effective in Safeco despite the ugly theoretical match of his skills to the park.  Many years, his stats are better at home.  Also odd that he has never gotten discouraged by the park.

Have always been a Hudson fan-- often have him on my roto teams -- but he's moving on into his 30's here and now coming across from the NL. 

I guess for $8-9M it would be hard to go wrong, but this is a case where I'll take the younger average-solid 2B despite the funky skills :- )

19

I love O'Hud...but he's not the defensive master he once was and he's been bench in the post-season and September by his own team in favor of of a guy no one in cyber-Seattle would want.  That's probably a bad sign.

20

Taro's picture

Taro

Lopez is becoming the most overrated Mariner player. His career-year '09 season wasn't really that special. A guy like Placido Polanco could come in and match his production for $4-5mil.

Lopez' career OBP is .302. Hes had THREE >1 WAR seasons.  His HRs barely leave the park. His last two seasons COMBINED weren't worth Danks's 2008 season.

Realistically '09 is an UP year for Lopez in Safeco. Hes a sell high. Danks is a buy low. Lopez is the bad fit for the park, Danks is the great fit.

Its a no-brainer IMO. The question is do the White Sox go for it?

21

I think it's entirely realistic to key in on nearly four consecutive months of rock-solid consistent production to end the 2009 season...productive that if prorated to a full season would make him worth +3.5 or +4 WAR, not +2.6

And I think the thing that doesn't belong in this analysis is Danks 2008 season.  Outside of that fluketastic display of flukishness, he's been a 2-3 WAR pitcher and there are real scouting-based concerns over his future health.

22

Taro's picture

Taro

Lopez aint hitting 35-40 HRs, especially not if Safeco. Thats what he'd need to do to have that kind of season. Lopez was productive because of his power surge in the 2nd half. The question is do you think this is likely to continue?

2008 was the season Danks added a cutter and broke out. Its entirely reasonable to assume that '08 was the start of a new baseline.

I don't use pre-'08 seasons to predict Lopez's future production (hes had some 0.1 WAR type seasons), because hes unlikely to regress to that level.

23

You want to replace Lopez at $2.3 million in 2010, and $4.5 in 2011 with Polanco at $4-5 million?  Let's pay MORE money to get a guy 10 years older, who had a worse season?

Is Lopez great?  No.  Is he a decent 2B, serviceable?  Absolutely.  Is he cheap?  Absolutely.  Does he still have remaining upside?  Absolutely.  Is he just entering the career peak years of 26-29?  Absolutely.

The kid posted a .764 OPS in 2008 -- and a .766 OPS in 2009.  How is that a career year?  Setting a career best in one or two stats doesn't make a career year.  Setting career bests in 6/8/10 stats - THAT is a career year ... like Gutierrez and Branyan both managed. 

The team has FIVE (5) hitting positions it needs better production out of more than it needs it from 2B, (which assumes Branyan is returning).  Why would one want to voluntarily change that to 6?

24

And also note, The kid didn't post a flat .766 this year...he posted like a .600 in April and May and an .820 or so in the rest of the season.  Schandler looks at second half productive VERY heavily when he projects players...especailyl the young ones.  There's a reason...second half surges correlate very strongly with production increases in the seasons that follow.

25

Taro's picture

Taro

Polanco is a much better defensive 2B than Lopez and a better OBP. He was actually a better player in '09.

I'm not giving Lopez away. Hes a league average player making only a couple million, but for Danks? I don't get why its debatable. Its MUCH more difficult to find a potential 5 WAR SP than a 2.5 WAR 2B. If you want a slightly above-average 2B, theres tons of them this offseason.

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