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Thread: Jake Westbrook Is What The Reds Need

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    Jake Westbrook Is What The Reds Need

    If Cleveland still has that offer on the table of RHP Jake Westbrook for OF Austin Kearns, the Reds should take it. If you look at Westbrook's stats the last two years, he ranks up there with number 2 starters in other teams' rotations. 2004 he won 14 games and had an ERA of 3.3 something. In 2005 he was 15-15 with a 4.4 something ERA. He did win 15 games, and when one was the last time a Reds pitcher won 15 games?

    You run the risk of losing Kearns and have him blossom as a hitter for some other team. But you have to be concern about his shoulder, and not coming in shape during spring training last year makes you wonder how committed he is to be a successful major league player.

    Bottom line is if the Reds can get a sinkerball pitcher that is suited for their ballpark that won 14 and 15 games the past two seasons, they should do everything possible to get him.

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    Re: Jake Westbrook Is What The Reds Need

    The last time a Red pitcher won 15 games? Jimmy Haynes.

    If Westbrook = Haynes, you've lost me on this one, Krusty.

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    Re: Jake Westbrook Is What The Reds Need

    Quote Originally Posted by Scrap Irony
    The last time a Red pitcher won 15 games? Jimmy Haynes.

    If Westbrook = Haynes, you've lost me on this one, Krusty.
    Really, what do you think Austin Kearns will net us? You look at Westbrook's stats the last two years and they aren't bad. The ERA was a run higher in 2005 compared to 2004. But to compare him to Jimmy Haynes is alittle farfetch IMO.
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    Re: Jake Westbrook Is What The Reds Need

    Here is a write-up on Westbrook prior to the 2005 season:

    Scouting Report



    2004 Season

    Jake Westbrook lost his job in the starting rotation in spring training, but regained it on April 19 with seven perfect innings of relief against Detroit. It was the first time a pitcher worked seven perfect innings in relief since 1969. Westbrook regained his spot in the rotation after that appearance and went on to win a career-high 14 games while making the All-Star team. He finished third in the American League with a 3.38 ERA.



    Pitching

    Westbrook's breakout season was a matter of trust and a good sinker. He always had a good sinking fastball, but he wouldn't throw it for strikes. Last year, he threw the sinker over the plate and let it work. He complemented it with a slider, changeup and a cut fastball to lefties. Westbrook throws between 89-91 MPH as a starter and can hit 94 MPH when he relieves. He threw five complete games and 215.2 innings, both career highs, last year. He was able to keep his pitch count down because he gets so many outs on grounders early in the count. He induced 29 double plays.



    Defense

    Westbrook not only is a good fielder, but also a busy one because of his sinker. His groundball- flyball ratio was the second highest in the American League. He made three errors last year, but handled 76 total chances, the most on the staff. He also started six double plays, most among AL pitchers. Westbrook showed improvement against the running game in 2004, as 43 percent (6 of 14) of the basestealers who challenged him were thrown out.



    2005 Outlook

    After starting last season as a long man, Westbrook will open this season as the Tribe's No. 2 starter. He may not throw as many innings again, but he seems completely recovered from the elbow problems that hounded him early in his career. Westbrook could become a perennial 12-15 game winner.
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    Re: Jake Westbrook Is What The Reds Need

    Sunday, January 08, 2006
    Is Jake Westbrook the Indians' best starter?

    Indians righty Jake Westbrook is an interesting case study in how much luck factors into a pitcher’s season. For all practical purposes, Westbrook’s 2004 and 2005 lines were identical. Westbrook faced the exact same amount of batters each season, gave up the exact same amount of homers, walked three less in 2005 and struck out five more. That’s as identical as two seasons can be. Yet his 2004 ERA was 3.38, while his 2005 ERA was 4.49. He gave up a ton of groundballs each season. Even his batting average per ball in play (BABIP)---much of which is out of the pitcher’s control---was very similar (.276 in 2004 versus .290 in 2005). What did Jake do differently?


    For all intensive purposes, Jake himself did nothing differently. His “skills” (homers, walks, strikeouts) were exactly the same. Let’s look further at some of the factors that Jake cannot control.


    **Defense: The Indians ranked third in baseball in defensive efficiency. Ronnie Belliard and Jhonny Peralta were among the best at their positions defensively, and Aaron Boone was above average. Ben Broussard was merely average. Overall, the Indians were excellent defensively, especially on the infield. Thus, Westbrook’s higher BABIP is strange.


    **Line Drive Percentage: Westbrook ranked 11th out of 44 qualifying AL starters in lowest line drive percentage (line drives tend to fall for hits more often than regular batted balls). Hitters do not often hit line drives off of Westbrook; this furthers the idea that Westbrook’s amount of hits given up in 2005 is abnormally high.


    **Homers per fly ball: Westbrook was the worst of the 44 qualifying AL starters in homer per fly ball ratio (this ratio is park adjusted). 19% of the fly balls that Westbrook allowed (and remember, Jake allowed the fewest fly balls per ground ball of any pitcher in the AL) became homers. This is an extremely high percentage---research has shown that pitchers average an 11% HR/FB ratio, and any deviation is mostly attributable to luck.


    **Left-on-base percentage: Westbrook was third worst in LOB%, which measures the percentage of base runners who come around to score. A mere 62.9% of Westbrook’s base runners failed to score (for comparison, both Cliff Lee and Scott Elarton stranded 72% of their base runners, while Kevin Millwood ranked 2nd in the AL, stranding 79% of his runners).


    All of these factors played a large role in Westbrook’s higher 2005 ERA. If we delve even further into Westbrook’s stats, we see that he was the anti-Kevin Millwood in terms of “clutch pitching.” Overall, opposing batters hit .265 against Westbrook. However, with runners on base, batters hit .298 against him. Furthermore, although Westbrook had 130 fewer at-bats against him with runners on base, Westbrook allowed 11 of his 19 homers to occur when runners were on base. With runners in scoring position, batters hit .304 against him. With a runner at third base, the opposition hit an absurd .542. Opposing batters hit .360 with runners at first and third, .353 with the bases loaded, and a crippling .333 with runners in scoring position and two outs. In 2004, opposing batters hit .255 overall against Westbrook, but a mere .233 with runners in scoring position and .200 with runners in scoring position and two outs.


    Westbrook is just now entering his prime. We can reasonably expect similar IP, BB, and K in 2006. However, we can also expect less home runs, less hits, and less of the runners who do get on base scoring. These are three very important factors that influence ERA, and Westbrook got very unlucky in all three facets in 2005. Furthermore, we can expect a regression to the mean in terms of batting average in clutch situations as well as the amount of homers that occur with runners on base. Thus, although a return to the 3.38 ERA of 2004 is unlikely, Westbrook has a very good chance of bettering his 2005 ERA, perhaps by a fair amount.

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    Re: Jake Westbrook Is What The Reds Need

    Westbrook is the kind of here-hit-it pitcher the Reds need to avoid like the plague.
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    Re: Jake Westbrook Is What The Reds Need

    Quote Originally Posted by M2
    Westbrook is the kind of here-hit-it pitcher the Reds need to avoid like the plague.
    In light of the extreme GB/FB tendencies of GABP, I think Westbrook is far from a potential pox on the franchise. In fact, he is the kind of pitcher the team should have targeted in place of Milton and Ortiz last year. It is debatable about whether Kearns should be dealt for him, but I would love to have Westbrook in the Reds' rotation. I forget who posted the GB out numbers for GABP, but they were among the most extreme in the league. Balls hit on the ground do not fare well in Cincinnati. They will fare even worse if the Reds field an infield with range this year. Westbrook may be billed as the same type of pitcher as Danny Graves, but Westbrook actually appears to be able to throw a sinkerball. The balls that are hit stay on the ground. In the infield, that could mean more GIDPs for the opposition and far fewer HRs allowed. I realize a ball in play relies on some chance to be intercepted, but the Reds cut their infield grass pretty high and leave their outfield fences pretty short. The Reds' offense is built for the park. It's now time the pitching staff takes the park into consideration.

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    Re: Jake Westbrook Is What The Reds Need

    Westbrook is just now entering his prime. We can reasonably expect similar IP, BB, and K in 2006. However, we can also expect less home runs, less hits, and less of the runners who do get on base scoring. These are three very important factors that influence ERA, and Westbrook got very unlucky in all three facets in 2005.
    Bah. The guy's BABIP was abnormally low in 2004 and the writer thinks that he got "very unlucky" with a .290 BABIP in 2005? Yeesh.

    Westbrook's HR/FB rate was high. Ok. Being that his game is to attempt to coax ground ball after ground ball, might we not be able to reasonably assume that his HR/FB rate might be high because his pitch quality is such that he gets hammered when missing by just a little bit? Might that explain Westbrook's Doubles proficiency?

    Only 9 MLB ERA qualifiers have allowed more than 45 Doubles in each of the past two seasons. Westbrook and Mark Mulder are the only two of those nine to have done so with a GB/FB rate above 2.00 in both seasons. And like the current version of Mulder, Westbrook walks a fine defensive-dependent line between being good and being exceptionally mediocre.
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    Re: Jake Westbrook Is What The Reds Need

    Quote Originally Posted by Henry Clay
    In light of the extreme GB/FB tendencies of GABP, I think Westbrook is far from a potential pox on the franchise. In fact, he is the kind of pitcher the team should have targeted in place of Milton and Ortiz last year. It is debatable about whether Kearns should be dealt for him, but I would love to have Westbrook in the Reds' rotation. I forget who posted the GB out numbers for GABP, but they were among the most extreme in the league. Balls hit on the ground do not fare well in Cincinnati. They will fare even worse if the Reds field an infield with range this year. Westbrook may be billed as the same type of pitcher as Danny Graves, but Westbrook actually appears to be able to throw a sinkerball. The balls that are hit stay on the ground. In the infield, that could mean more GIDPs for the opposition and far fewer HRs allowed. I realize a ball in play relies on some chance to be intercepted, but the Reds cut their infield grass pretty high and leave their outfield fences pretty short. The Reds' offense is built for the park. It's now time the pitching staff takes the park into consideration.
    The grass was brought down to normal levels last season. Though more to the point, I don't want the Reds to be in the business acquiring pitchers they need to hide behind a rainforest.

    Contact pitchers have not fared well for the Reds. They need to find some arms who can help themselves.
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    Re: Jake Westbrook Is What The Reds Need

    Quote Originally Posted by SteelSD
    Bah. The guy's BABIP was abnormally low in 2004 and the writer thinks that he got "very unlucky" with a .290 BABIP in 2005? Yeesh.

    Westbrook's HR/FB rate was high. Ok. Being that his game is to attempt to coax ground ball after ground ball, might we not be able to reasonably assume that his HR/FB rate might be high because his pitch quality is such that he gets hammered when missing by just a little bit? Might that explain Westbrook's Doubles proficiency?

    Only 9 MLB ERA qualifiers have allowed more than 45 Doubles in each of the past two seasons. Westbrook and Mark Mulder are the only two of those nine to have done so with a GB/FB rate above 2.00 in both seasons. And like the current version of Mulder, Westbrook walks a fine defensive-dependent line between being good and being exceptionally mediocre.
    The way I see it is the two type of pitchers that will work successfully at GAB is those hard throwers that can throw a mid-90 fastball and a hard slider or a sinkerball pitcher that can keep the ball on the ground.

    You can say that sinkerball pitchers give up alot of doubles but I will take 45 doubles over 45 home runs any day. Unless you move the fences back 10 feet, the only way the pitchers will keep the ball in the ballpark is inducing ground balls.
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    Re: Jake Westbrook Is What The Reds Need

    Quote Originally Posted by Krusty
    The way I see it is the two type of pitchers that will work successfully at GAB is those hard throwers that can throw a mid-90 fastball and a hard slider or a sinkerball pitcher that can keep the ball on the ground.

    You can say that sinkerball pitchers give up alot of doubles but I will take 45 doubles over 45 home runs any day. Unless you move the fences back 10 feet, the only way the pitchers will keep the ball in the ballpark is inducing ground balls.
    45 doubles or 45 homers? I pick none of the above.

    Westbrook's a lot like Corey Lidle. He's got to be real fine with his control because when he misses high the ball goes somewhere in a hurry.

    I wouldn't have a problem with the Reds snatching up a Westbrook type on a waiver claim or moving a guy like Aurilia for him, but I wouldn't be dealing a Kearns or Pena for a pitcher with that profile. It's too much to pay for a guy who plays rope-a-dope.
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    Re: Jake Westbrook Is What The Reds Need

    Quote Originally Posted by M2
    45 doubles or 45 homers? I pick none of the above.

    Westbrook's a lot like Corey Lidle. He's got to be real fine with his control because when he misses high the ball goes somewhere in a hurry.

    I wouldn't have a problem with the Reds snatching up a Westbrook type on a waiver claim or moving a guy like Aurilia for him, but I wouldn't be dealing a Kearns or Pena for a pitcher with that profile. It's too much to pay for a guy who plays rope-a-dope.
    Problem with sinkerball pitchers are they aren't sexy. Most fans want to see a pitcher that throws hard and punches those strikeouts. Pitchers have to realize that when you pitch at Coors Field, Citizens Bank Park or at the Great American Ballpark, you won't win an ERA title. You try to keep your team in the game for six innings before turning it over to the bullpen. Playing in bandboxes require teams to have a deep bullpen and the Reds do with three lefties and four righthanders.

    The price for power pitchers is extreme and rarely do you see them dealt. Unless you develop your own (Bailey), the only other way to go is pitchers who can keep the ball down and induce ground balls. No matter how you look at it, sinkerball pitchers will give up some hits. Alot depends on your infielders. And that is why Bucky Dent was brought in to tutor Encarncion and Lopez and hopefully cut down on their errors.
    Last edited by Krusty; 01-29-2006 at 12:50 PM.
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    Re: Jake Westbrook Is What The Reds Need

    Quote Originally Posted by Krusty
    Problem with sinkerball pitchers are they aren't sexy. Most fans want to see a pitcher that throws hard and punches those strikeouts. Pitchers have to realize that when you pitch at Coors Field, Citizens Bank Park or at the Great American Ballpark, you won't win an ERA title. You try to keep your team in the game for six innings before turning it over to the bullpen. Playing in bandboxes require teams to have a deep bullpen and the Reds do with three lefties and four righthanders.

    The price for power pitchers is extreme and rarely do you see them dealt. Unless you develop your own (Bailey), the only other way to go is pitchers who can keep the ball down and induce ground balls. No matter how you look at it, sinkerball pitchers will give up some hits. Alot depends on your infielders. And that is why Bucky Dent was brought in to tutor Encarncion and Lopez and hopefully cut down on their errors.
    But they at least need to be cute. Westbrook had a career year in 2004 and I would be surprised to see a positive VORP out of him. Like M2 already said, Kearns is way too high a price for the likes of Westbrook. If you're looking at a swap with the Indians for the price of Kearns, I'd be looking at the likes of taking a flyer on Sabathia. Both teams are looking at high risk/high reward type potential but recently struggling players that a change of scenery might do some good.
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    Re: Jake Westbrook Is What The Reds Need

    a number 4/5 starter is exactly what the Reds don't need. They are loaded with 'em already.

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    Re: Jake Westbrook Is What The Reds Need

    i made a post last winter demostrating that groundball pitchers (1.4 or better GB/FB) have inability to strike hitters out was a myth. in fact, they were striking guys out at about 0.2 rate better than flyball pitchers (0.9 or lower GB/FB). however, i can't find it in the archives, and i really don't feel like collecting the info again.
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