Friday, August 04, 2006

Javy Lopez: Overrated

So the Sox are about to finalize the deal with Javy Lopez to be their regular catcher until Varitek can come back. Does it matter that Lopez hasn't caught on consecutive days yet this year? Does it matter that he's almost 36 years old? How about his quickly-declining OPS? Check it out:
2003: 1.065
2004: .873
2005: .780
2006: .726

You're telling me Ken Huckaby isn't a better value at his price?

Another thing is that Lopez really likes to watch guys steal bases. Here are his caught stealing percentages over the past 5 years:
2002: 37.9%
2003: 30.7%
2004: 27.7%
2005: 23.5%
2006: 18.2%

Nice little trend there, eh? Thus far this year in 18 games started at catcher, 22 runners have attempted a steal and 18 of them were successful. That's not good, folks.

How about another metric used to judge how a catcher handles his pitching staff, called Catcher's ERA, which shows the ERA allowed while the catcher is in the game:
2002: 3.33
2003: 3.96
2004: 4.67
2005: 4.71
2006: 5.28

I don't think I need to tell you that this is also a bad trend.

Who knows? Maybe he'll be fresh because he's only appeared in 20 games as the catcher thus far. But this is a guy who averaged roughly 19 homers a year for a decade, then in a contract year he put up a Barry Bondsian 43 dingers at the age of 33. He got his big contract then slipped back down to earth. You do the math. We already had enough Javier Lopezes on this team. This deal sucks.


skootch said...

I agree with all of that. He will be no help, and he is about as scary of a hitter as Tek has been this year. Not good. The only stat I dont think is valid to this point is the catchers ERA. I feel like pitching staff has way too much to do with that to be relevent.

Red Sox Stats Guy said...

Of course the pitchers have a lot to do with it, but you can't argue with that trend. Catchers have a lot to do with it, since they call the game and do the research on the batters. Rumors out of Baltimore said that none of the Baltimore pitchers liked Lopez because he didn't take into account previous history or do any research and didn't like it when they tried to give him any input. Sounds like a good guy to have around all the youngsters.

skootch said...

Very true. I have never liked him. He had some exciting years when he was with the braves, but thats probably because their pitching staff was real good, so he could concentrate on taking steroids and hitting 30 home runs.

Anonymous said...

As an O's fan (yes, there are some of us left), this is a clear case of buyer beware. I understand you're in a tough spot with Varitek out, but Javy's not much of an improvement.

You hit both areas of concern. I didn't like it when we signed him before the '04 season. His '03 numbers are intriguing, but look at the factors for him there - it was a contract year, the only good NL pitching was on his team, and '03 was a "questionable" year regarding substance abuse across MLB, to say the least. Not surprisingly, when he signs the big deal and comes to the AL, he regresses to mediocre.

What really gets me is his poor catching ability. Bad reflexes, weak arm, and inability or unwillingness to call a good game. Ask yourself this: why did Leo Mazzone (widely recognized as one of the best pitching coaches ever) immediately have the O's go hard after Ramon Hernandez this of season, even though they were on the hook for $8 million for Javy this year?

Again, probably an upgrade over Huckabee, but a far, far drop from Varitek.

Red Sox Stats Guy said...

Good comment. Good to hear from an O's fan. I'd be curious to find out how you found my blog.

Anonymous said...

another O's fan:

Deadspin has a link to your blog up today, that's how I found you. Maybe that's how the other guy found you, too.

Catcher ERA should be compared to the team's ERA when other catchers play. Otherwise, you're just seeing the difference in pitchers he caught. For example - the huge jump in J-Lo's catcher ERA from 2003-2004? Well, in 2003 he was a Brave and in 2004 he was an Oriole.

Over the last 2 months of this year he only caught when Rodrigo Lopez pitched, and he did a good job there. But...yeah, he sucks. In 2004 he could still hit just about any fastball. Even that is gone, now. He could heat up or get focused or something. But I wouldn't count on it. You're absolutely right.

Ben said...

Yet another O's fan...

I'm glad to see Javy go. I think it was regrettable signing, to say the least. You might need to find another catcher to keep on hand because Javy has the durability of Kleenex in thunderstorm. What are your thoughts on Adam Stern?

Anonymous said...

Good deal for both teams. Javy may be a marginal improvement at best, but the Sox are in a tight playoff race, so they need to take that chance. Huckaby cannot hit a lick, while key hits here and there from Lopez could end up making a difference.

The O's should have traded Lopez sooner, but they got someone who can contribute to a major league team (though he has disappointed in Pawtucket this year). He's probably a 4th OF, but he's decent defensively and might put up adequate seasons for a CF over the next couple of years.

Anonymous said...

You guys should of gotten Jason LaRue from the Reds. They have 3 catchers and Larue can at least throw people out.

Josh Q. Public said...

Ya but now Mirabelli's hurt too. Doesn't leave too many options.

dcat said...

I'm going to make the worst argument ever, I know, but the Sox are in a pennant race, see a veteran, and since they are not on the hook for him deep into the future, his "value" is a bit of a moot point -- they still have Huckabee but can afford him. The Red Sox are in the luxury position of playing what i have called "Moneyball Plus" in the sense that they can be smart, can utilize sabrmetrics, but still can splurge where others cannot. This is really a consequence free acquisition, especially if Mirabelli is hurt.


Anonymous said...

Another O's fan...

I found you because I was reading the SoSH thread trying to figure out who the O's were getting (before realizing had reported Stern).

I wouldn't look at that Catcher's ERA stat at all. Javy has mostly been catching Rodrigo Lopez this year, and he's been one of the worst starters in all of the majors this year. Wish the O's could have unloaded his dead weight too ;p.

Oh well, enjoy Javy.

across enemy lines said...

Come on stats guy. You have to like this. Huckaby? Be serious. I was really impressed when he was allowed to bring his 207 minor league batting average to the plate with the bases loaded the other night. Check the treneds on the Red Sox regular catchers, Varitek and Mirabelli. I think you will find them equally disturbing. Either way, Javy is a rental player, with Baltimore paying1/2 the fee. Ster was never going to be a starter for Boston. This deal may not be perfect,but it makes perfect sense.

skootch said...

All good stuff, Adam Stern will bring heart and speed to your team, but I'm not sure his 4-6 home runs a year will be much help. So far J-Lo's (great name by the way) 0 for 10 is just as expected. Dont they make a steroid that catchers can take to imporve arm strength and bat speed? Oh wait.....

And to the O's fans, Camden Yards is the best looking park I have seen.

Anonymous said...

I was the first O's fan that posted - 4:40 pm on Friday. I hate to say I told you so, but...I chuckled when I saw the patented Javy 6-4-3 DP to end Saturday's game. I don't have high hopes for Stern, so this deal seems to be a wash.