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  1. #1
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    Angels to sign Joe Smith!!

    The Angels are to sign reliever Joe Smith to a three-year deal, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets. The size of the deal is approximately $15MM, Heyman adds in a second tweet.

    Smith, 29, has been with the Indians since 2009 and is a seven-year major league veteran. The righty has a lifetime 2.97 ERA and turned in a 2.29 ERA, 63 inning campaign in 2013.
    MIKE TROUT FOR MVP!!!!!

  2. #2
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    Frieri-CL
    De la Rosa
    Smith
    Salas
    Kohn
    Burnett
    Jepsen

  3. #3
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    Good pickup not great arms but an upgrade nonetheless

  4. #4
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    Nice signing. First good move of the off-season.

  5. #5
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    I wonder if we trade Kohn or Jepsen now with Kendrick/Trumbo, or just not carry a long reliever

    CL Frieri
    SU De La Rosa
    SU Burnett
    MR Smith
    MR Salas
    MR Jepsen/Kohn
    LR Blanton/Shoemaker

    Depth in the bullpen isn't a bad thing. Burnett, Jepsen, and Salas all spent a good chunk of the season on the DL in 2013. They also have to feel pretty confident in Burnett being healthy or else they probably would have signed Howell
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  6. #6
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    More moves like this, less like the Freese trade, please.
    Visit my Blog.



    "Glad the GOP finally came out with an Obamacare alternative. Can't wait to see their alternative to the Iraq War." - @LOLGOP

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by vladdy#27 View Post
    I wonder if we trade Kohn or Jepsen now with Kendrick/Trumbo, or just not carry a long reliever

    CL Frieri
    SU De La Rosa
    SU Burnett
    MR Smith
    MR Salas
    MR Jepsen/Kohn
    LR Blanton/Shoemaker

    Depth in the bullpen isn't a bad thing. Burnett, Jepsen, and Salas all spent a good chunk of the season on the DL in 2013. They also have to feel pretty confident in Burnett being healthy or else they probably would have signed Howell
    They probably should just go sign howell.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Halopower31 View Post
    The Angels are to sign reliever Joe Smith to a three-year deal, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets. The size of the deal is approximately $15MM, Heyman adds in a second tweet.

    ... turned in a 2.29 ERA, 63 inning campaign in 2013.
    Except ERA correlates very poorly from year to year.

    TIPS, which correlates better than ERA, xFIP, FIP, or SIERA to next year's ERA is a new metric created by Chris Carruthers.
    http://www.breakingblue.ca/2013/11/2...era-estimator/

    It suggests that Joe Smith's 2014 ERA should be closer to 4.26.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by filihok View Post
    Except ERA correlates very poorly from year to year.

    TIPS, which correlates better than ERA, xFIP, FIP, or SIERA to next year's ERA is a new metric created by Chris Carruthers.
    http://www.breakingblue.ca/2013/11/2...era-estimator/

    It suggests that Joe Smith's 2014 ERA should be closer to 4.26.
    The key word is "suggests" Smith is a very good pitcher and his era shouldn't spike two runs moving to the Angels.

    Smith has never had an ERA over 3.83 in his career. With the last 3yrs it being under 3. We aren't looking for him to be a 2012 Fernando Rodney, but a solid guy in the pen who can close the door almost every game.

    Smith does walk guys, but his command is decent and has an electric slider.
    MIKE TROUT FOR MVP!!!!!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by natepro View Post
    More moves like this, less like the Freese trade, please.
    Also less like Vernon Wells, Steve Finley, Hamilton, Pujols, etc etc

    But this is a solid move, adds quality depth to the pen

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Halopower31 View Post
    The key word is "suggests" Smith is a very good pitcher and his era shouldn't spike two runs moving to the Angels.
    Every metric suggests that increase substantially.

    Of course, who really cares about a reliever' ERA. Point is, he's not as good as he's looked.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by vladdy#27 View Post
    I wonder if we trade Kohn or Jepsen now with Kendrick/Trumbo, or just not carry a long reliever

    CL Frieri
    SU De La Rosa
    SU Burnett
    MR Smith
    MR Salas
    MR Jepsen/Kohn
    LR Blanton/Shoemaker

    Depth in the bullpen isn't a bad thing. Burnett, Jepsen, and Salas all spent a good chunk of the season on the DL in 2013. They also have to feel pretty confident in Burnett being healthy or else they probably would have signed Howell
    I don't think Salas is intended to be a go-to piece in our bullpen. I think he's more likely to be minor league depth.

  13. #13
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    Breaking Down The Angels' Joe Smith Signing

    The Angels made the largest relief signing of the offseason so far, committing $15.75MM over three years to right-handed sidearmer Joe Smith. Any sizeable commitment to a reliever will be poorly received with sabermetric analysts, but did the Angels at least get the top setup man Smith's contract suggests?

    Smith may have been paid based on his ERAs for the Indians in the past three seasons: 2.01, 2.96, and 2.29. Fangraphs wins above replacement, which uses fielding independent pitching (FIP) in its calculation, does not credit Smith for those ERAs, giving him 2.0 WAR over the three seasons. The main components of FIP are strikeouts, walks, and home runs allowed, and Smith has excelled in only one of those. Given his strong groundball tendencies, Smith has allowed just ten home runs in 197 innings dating back to 2011. Wins above replacement can also be calculated using runs allowed instead of FIP, and that figure credits Smith for a healthy 4.7 WAR over his last three seasons.

    The Angels aren't interested in paying Smith for what he did for the Indians; he's getting $5.25MM per year from the Halos in hopes of continued sub-3.00 ERAs for 2014-16. To see how likely that is, we typically turn to estimators like FIP, xFIP, and SIERA, which predict future ERA better than ERA does. Using Smith's 2011-13 peripheral stats, those estimators spit out figures in the 3.33-3.68 range, well above his actual 2.42 mark. The estimators are not crediting Smith for one potential skill, though, and that is his consistently low batting average on balls in play (BABIP).

    Smith's BABIPs the last three years were .258, .253, and .282. His career mark is .272. Compare that to the average reliever, who was at .291 this year. Smith seems to be better at keeping his BABIP low than other relievers, which is why he's consistently allowed fewer than eight hits per nine innings since 2008. Smith's career BABIP against right-handed hitters is .259, versus a more normal .298 against left-handed ones. This makes sense: he's a right-handed sidearmer, and he is able to induce weak contact against same-handed hitters. This apparent skill has been magnified by his usage, as Smith has faced right-handed hitters two-thirds of the time in his career.

    In 2013, 54 non-closer right-handed relievers pitched at least 60 innings, including Smith. As a group, they faced right-handed hitters about 55% of the time. In addition to the aforementioned low BABIPs, Smith has been adept at getting right-handed hitters to hit groundballs. In 2011, Smith began the transition away from being a full-blown right-handed specialist, but he was still shielded from lefty hitters in 2011-12, magnifying his skills against righties and aiding his ERA. Only in 2013 did Smith graduate from right-handed specialist to general setup man: he faced right-handed hitters only 50.6% of the time. Indians manager Terry Francona let Smith face left-handed hitters 128 times, easily the most in his career. The promotion was overdue, as he hadn't been hit too hard by southpaws since 2010.

    $5.25MM a year is setup man money. The Angels invested in Smith after he posted a 2.29 ERA in 63 innings, truly in a setup role for the first time in his career. However, Smith's low ERA was not due to the usual factors, a low BABIP and a high groundball rate. His .282 BABIP was his highest since 2007, and his 49.1% groundball rate was the lowest of his career (the latter owing to his facing more lefties). Instead, a big factor in Smith's 2013 success was his left on base percentage of 86.3%. Among relievers with at least 60 innings, Smith ranked 14th in baseball. Almost everyone ahead of Smith on that list struck out more than 27% of batters faced, while Smith was around average at about 21%. There's no reason to expect Smith to be much better than the relief league average LOB% of 75% going forward.

    If ERA alone doesn't convince you Smith is a top setup man, then it's hard to find a particular standout skill he displayed in 2013. He's not a strikeout guy, he doesn't have great control (especially versus left-handed hitters), and his groundball rate and BABIP weren't anything special this year. His ERA was low because he stranded 86% of his baserunners. The Angels probably don't have a reason to expect that to be repeated, so they're left with a guy whose only above average skill might be inducing groundballs from right-handed hitters. They didn't need to spend $15.75MM to find a guy who can do that, with Matt Albers and Jamey Wright also on the free agent market. That's not to suggest Albers and Wright are as good as Smith, but with limited payroll flexibility and a need for two starting pitchers, this signing was a questionable allocation of resources for the Halos.
    .
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by GA16Angels View Post
    I don't think Salas is intended to be a go-to piece in our bullpen. I think he's more likely to be minor league depth.
    I don't know what the Angels intentions are for Salas, but I doubt its as minor league depth especially considering he is likely out of options.

    Jepsen and Salas 2012-2013, Kohn 2013

    Jepsen IP 80 H/9 8.9 ERA 3.68 FIP 3.28 K/9 8.3 BB/9 2.9
    Salas IP 86 H/9 8.6 ERA 4.36 FIP 3.60 K/9 8.5 BB/9 3.4
    Kohn IP 53 H/9 7.1 ERA 3.74 FIP 4.56 K/9 8.8 BB/9 4.6

    Sure Salas has a high ERA but his FIP is far better than Kohn's and not far behind Jepsen's. He strikes out guys at about the same clip as Kohn and Jepsen. He walks a little bit more guys than Jepsen, but he also gives up a little bit fewer hits.

    Lets take it to 2011-2013

    Jepsen IP 93 H/9 9.7 ERA 4.23 FIP 3.72 K/9 7.7 BB/9 3.4
    Salas IP 161 H/9 7.4 ERA 3.40 FIP 3.39 K/9 8.7 BB/9 3.0

    Salas is better in every category

    Even if we just look at last season they were kind of similar pitchers

    Jepsen IP 36 H/9 10.3 ERA 4.50 FIP 3.38 K/9 9.0 BB/9 3.5
    Salas IP 28 H/9 8.7 ERA 4.50 FIP 3.62 K/9 7.1 BB/9 1.9

    Both pitchers dealt with injuries. They had the same exact ERA which was a lot higher than their FIP's. Jepsen K'd a lot more guys, but Salas walked fewer and gave up fewer hits.


    The big question with all three guys is can they stay healthy. Jepsen's health was shaky last season, as well as 2011. Kohn had Tommy Johns last year. Salas was injured last year as well.

    Jepsen and Salas are out of options. Kohn still has another year of options.
    __________________________________._________

  15. #15
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    Joe Smith: Boring Name, Decent Reliever

    Joe Smith, who has long contended with Scott Baker and Jim Johnson for The Most Boring Name in Baseball, reportedly signed a three-year, $15.75 million deal with the Angels over the weekend. This might seem like another multi-year contract of the sort bloggers like to complain about, but I don’t think that conclusion is self evident. The more important question might be how this fits into a coherent off-season strategy for the Angels to improve their run prevention.

    Perhaps fittingly for a pitcher named “Joe Smith,” he sort of seems to be a generic right-handed reliever. He does not throw terribly hard, as his fastball averages around 90. Smith is primarily a sinker-slider pitcher, so he profiles as more of a ROOGY. Smith is actually not bad against lefties, though, even though he throws from something of a lower arm angle. Although for his career he does (as one would expect) have better numbers versus right-handed hitters, both his 2011 and 2012 wOBA against was lower versus left-handed hitters. It is dangerous to read too much into that without a more detailed analysis. The point is simply that Smith is not helpless versus lefties.

    The above probably makes Smith sound like he is pretty mediocre. Steamer projects Smith as having a true talent ERA and FIP in the mid-3s, which is useful, but hardly worth three years in free agency as a reliever. It would be a mistake to just dismiss a projection because it does not meet ones own analysis — good projection systems like Steamer include all the math done in detail that goes far beyond what we typically eyeball from seasonal stats. But for the sake of trying to understand what the Angels might be seeing in Smith (and clearly their own projections and scouts see him as better than Steamer, which does not impugn either Steamer nor the Angels), let’s look at this differently.

    Smith was indeed pretty unremarkable until 2011. In 2011, he had his best season primarily due to getting his control under, well, control, finishing with a 2.01 ERA and 2.91 FIP in 67 innings. Though Smith has not been as good since then, he was still a quality reliever in 2012 and 2013, finishing both seasons with sub-3 ERAs. His FIP in those seasons (in the mid-3s) suggests it might be something on an illusion. However, Smith has always, even pre-2011, had lower a ERA than his FIP. Smith’s career BABIP is just .272, and while that is still over just 349 innings (reliever sample sizes!), it seems possible there is something to it beyond random variation. Few would say that something is Cleveland’s infield defense, either.

    From 2011 to 2013, Smith’s cumulative WAR via FIP is around +2.0, but according to RA9-WAR, it is near +5.0. If one thinks the latter is better representative of his value then and presently, then Smith was worth about a win-and-a-half per season. Generally speaking, multi-year contracts for non-elite relievers do not seem to work out well all that often. However, since the price of a win seems to be rising to a fair bit more than $5 million so far this off-season, this deal does not seem so bad, even with Smith’s likely decline due to age.

    However, one might wonder if the Angels’ situation really called for them to go out of their way to get Smith. Their closer, Ernesto Frieri, throws right-handed, and though Dane de la Rosa (also a righty) is probably not as good as his impressive 2013, it is not clear that Smith is leaps and bounds better. A good argument can be made that the Angels would be better of saving the money spent elsewhere, say, on upgrading the back end of their rotation (insert your own Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, and a time machine joke here).

    The Angels probably would like to upgrade their rotation, but in practice it may be difficult given their other payroll obligations. Even if Jered Weaver can return to his pre-2013 numbers (not that his 2013 was bad; it simply was not up to his prior standards), the inability to re-sign Jason Vargas makes the middle and back of their rotation a question mark. The thought may be to improve their run prevention by going with “super-pen” to make up for the starter’s deficiencies.

    It is not a terrible strategy on paper, and fewer runs are fewer runs. But aside from the question of whether the Smith money could have done much to help the rotation, how much of a difference can a super-pen make? Without doing a survey, one can look back slightly to the recent history of the team that stole Jason Vargas away: the Royals.

    Back in 2011 the Royals looked like they had a promising offense with youth coming up (another story), but they were in need of pitching. Going into 2012, they knew they could not afford much starting pitching (Jeff Francis, Bruce Chen, and Jonathan Sanchez all figured into their plans going into the season). Instead, they supplemented an already promising young bullpen that would feature the likes of Greg Holland, Kelvin Herrera, Aaron Crow, and Tim Collins with bounceback candidate Jonathan Broxton. Broxton may not have been the best pitcher in the pen, but he did pitch decently for Kansas City before being traded to the Reds. The Royals had one of the most dominating bullpens in the American League in 2012

    How much of a difference did it really make? In 2011, the Royals’ overall ERA- was 11th in the American League. In 2012, with the Super Pen, it was 10th. The Royals did have a tremendous bullpen, but it did not really improve their run prevention all that much. Individual relievers are not totally irrelevant cogs, they do make a difference, but even with leverage taken into account, slight improvements over 60 or 70s innings do not make a huge difference.

    Spending substantial money (or talent) to acquire relievers, especially those who are not elite, remains problematic for a number or reasons. It is also worth nothing that with wins costing what they seem to these days, three years and $15.75 million may not qualify as “substantial money” anymore. But if the Angels are hoping that a good pen — and Frieri and Smith hardly look to be the 2013 equivalent of Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera in 2012 — can make up for the run prevention shortcomings of their rotation, they are likely to be disappointed. The Angels need better pitching, and while Joe Smith helps a little, they need more than the little he should be expected to contribute.
    .
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