• A Word Of Caution On Mike Gonzalez

    Posted by on December 18th, 2006 · Comments (22)

    Earlier this month, I expressed some concern about the Yankees bringing back Ron Villone – because of his command issues. Looking at the Yankees new LH-RP target, the Pirates Mike Gonzalez, today, I noticed that Gonzalez seems to walk a lot of batters as well. And, I thought, how does he compare to Villone in terms of issuing free passes? Thanks to sites like FanGraphs.com, the answer to questions like these are easy. Here’s the comparison (click on the graph to enlarge it):

    As you can see, both Villone and Gonzalez, for the most part, are below-major-league average (meaning they are poor) when it comes to limiting base-on-balls. (The blue line on the above chart is the major league average.)

    That’s not exactly what you want from your trusted late-in-the-game lefty “go-to” guy, is it?

    Comments on A Word Of Caution On Mike Gonzalez

    1. baileywalk
      December 18th, 2006 | 11:45 am

      I know you don’t want to trade Melky, but Gonzalez is not Ron Villone.

      Show the graph comparing their ERAs and K/9s.

      And show the one that compares the amount of saves they amassed in ’06.

      It looks like it’s becoming a moot point anyway. Seems this deal isn’t going to happen. Maybe it’s a good sign that everyone is denying it, but it has the feel of something that was flirted with but never serious.

    2. Jordan Meisner
      December 18th, 2006 | 11:53 am

      I agree Steve, Gonzalez definitely has control issues. However, it’s impossible to deny that Mike Gonzalez is a better pitcher than Ron Villone when you look at their other numbers. Also, Mike Gonzalez is 28 while Villone is almost 36.

      It’s important to note that Mike Gonzalez is much tougher on lefties than Villone, though they’re both pretty good. Over their careers, lefties have hit .179/.273/.246 against Gonzalez and .241/.349/.360 against Villone.

      Does anybody have a decent explanation for Gonzalez’s absurdly good 2004 stats? Has he had injury issues since then, and/or is he capable of returning to that sort of form?

    3. Nick from Washington Heights
      December 18th, 2006 | 12:00 pm

      bailey’s right. A more fitting comparison is Farnswacker at the top of his game, which means high k-rate, high walk rate, and generally very good to great set-up man. I think there are volatility issues with relievers not named Mariano or Trevor, but I think the trade’s a risk the Yanks should take. But it ain’t happening. I don’t think Melky’s enough, and I don’t think the Yanks want to give up more.

    4. December 18th, 2006 | 1:08 pm

      ~~~And show the one that compares the amount of saves they amassed in ’06.~~~

      Saves are the product of manager’s descretion. It’s the most over-rated stat in the game. Why would I want to compare that?

    5. December 18th, 2006 | 1:11 pm

      FWIW, I was not comparing Gonzalez, on the whole, to Villone. The point was to show that Gonzalez’ BB allowance rate is extremely high. It’s as high as Villone’s. That’s all.

    6. mehmattski
      December 18th, 2006 | 1:42 pm

      Still, Steve, I think it’s a little disingenuous to present one item of data that supports your thesis and ignore all the data that refute it. For example, here’s the graph of K/9 of Villone, Farnsworth, and Gonzalez:


      Also check out the LOB%, in which Gonzalez has been very good over the past three years. Also take into account that Gonzalez has had a spot-on league average BABIP the last three years. And his WHIP was actually better than both Farnsworth and Villone in 2006.

      Here’s some more data that show that Gonzalez is better than Villone (2004-2006):
      Gonzalez v Lefties: .176 .260 .218
      v Righties: .217 .310 .291

      Villone v Lefties: .202 .306 .290
      v Righties: .262 .370 .416

      Who WOULD you trust as your late-inning, lefty go-to guy? Because I’m sure I can find “fault” with whoever that is in the same manner you have with Gonzalez: picking and choosing which data helps you best.

    7. baileywalk
      December 18th, 2006 | 2:05 pm

      If it makes you feel any better, Steve, now that I read Peter Abraham saying that the Yankees should trade Melky and that he “won’t be a good, everyday player,” I’m starting to think we should keep him at all costs.

    8. December 18th, 2006 | 2:11 pm

      I know that Gonzalez has some attractive numbers. But, and this is just gut feel, sometimes guys with great numbers – even if it’s just good HTH splits – who have issues walking batters seem to come to the glare of New York and then don’t perform as well as you would have expected them to, based on their otherwise good numbers.

      Felix Heredia, Gabe White, Felix Rodriguez, etc., come to mind. All were hard throwers with varying degrees of success elsewhere who came to the Bronx and lost it for New York.

      I’m not saying that this will happen, for sure, with Gonzalez. But, I am saying that it’s not like he’s a strike-throwing machine who cannot fail – because the numbers show that he has issues, pretty big ones, with avoiding base-on-balls.

      Hence the title choice – use caution.

    9. mehmattski
      December 18th, 2006 | 2:32 pm

      Okay, the comparison to Rodriguez and Heredia I can accept. Here’s the FanGraph comparison:


      To make some counterpoints… yes, they all have higher-than-average walk rates. However, as many have previously noted, Gonzalez has a much higher K-rate than Heredia has ever had, and higher than that of Rodriguez around the time he was with the Yanks. Also, Heredia had a very low BABIP in 2003 which could explain a regression to the mean in 2004.

      And of course, there’s always the issue of sample size when it comes to relievers… how much faith can we have in making predictions based on trends that are not supported by very much data?

      In the end I think there is a lot more to like about Mike Gonzalez statistically than there is to loathe. The injury history, and the price tag, are much more debatable concerns.

    10. December 18th, 2006 | 2:47 pm

      A caution warning equals loathing?

      Did I say that I loath him?

    11. adam
      December 18th, 2006 | 2:50 pm

      buster olney posted an interesting stat the other day, where he pointed out that in spite of the walks, mike gonzalez posted a higher percentage of 1-2-3 innings than mariano rivera. strange huh?

    12. Chewbacca
      December 18th, 2006 | 3:08 pm

      Not strange at all. That scumbag Buster would go to any lengths to insult the Yankees, even it is comparing M.G. to Mo. That stat can be refuted with one instance: 2 on and 0 out against the Twins, Mo strikes out White and Hunter, and a cheap turf hit wins the game. My point in bringing that up is that Mariano gives up the cheapest hits in the history of baseball. There is no wonder in my mind why he gets less 1-2-3 innings. It’s sad that a guy like Mo, being as dominant as he is, is hurt by bad luck. If Mo were with the Red Sox, that bad luck would be nonexistent.

    13. mehmattski
      December 18th, 2006 | 3:12 pm

      “Did I say that I loath him?”

      No, I was just turning a phrase. Sorry for the confusion… I should stick to stats more and wax poetic less.

    14. Chewbacca
      December 18th, 2006 | 3:13 pm

      FWIW, I understand everything Steve is trying to bring up with his stats. A lot of you are twisting his words around. From caution to hate, from using his BB/9, to saying he is only using that stat to help his case and point.
      With the BB/9, he does have a point. Those 3 guys, (White/Felix/Felix), just lost whatever control/effectivenss they might have had in their careers the moment they put on our uniform. I am not, however, for one moment putting the blame only on them. Of course, the umpires have a lot to do with it.

    15. RICH
      December 18th, 2006 | 3:37 pm

      Chewbacca, you’re always blaming the umpires or media for being against the Yankees (or for the Yankees’ opponents).

      If the team isn’t meeting your satisfaction maybe it’s the team’s performance that’s responsible.

    16. Chewbacca
      December 18th, 2006 | 3:53 pm

      I vowed to myself a long time ago I would NEVER put the entire blame on our guys. Sure, some of the blame belongs to them, but when you are screwed day in and day out for an extended period of time, the inevitable happens. You succumb to being cheated.

      So are you saying the media is not against us. NY Daily News Scumbag Mike Lupica writes maybe 1-2 articles a week. Every one of his articles fits into 1 of 5 categories.
      1. Insulting the Yankees
      2. Insulting the Knicks
      3. Insulting the Giants
      4. Sucking the ass of the Red Sox
      5. Sucking the ass of the Mets

      ESPN is filled with Boston-bred people who do nothing to mask their hatred of us.

      Why do you think Keith Hamilton of the New York Giants retired so young: because he was the only player in the NFL to continuously be called for defensive holdings on a RUNNING play.

      Jesse Armstead got called for a defensive holding in which he did absolutely nothing, to nullify an INT TD to tie up the Super Bowl against the Ravens. Jim Fassel, on highlights of that SB, can be heard yelling at the ref, “You just cost us a Super Bowl.” And 100 %, without a doubt, the referee did.

      Lastly, sure RJ lost 4-5 mph off his fastball when he came to us, but plenty of guys make due with a 94 mph heater. And you cannot say that RJ isn’t a smart enough guy to make due with what he’s got in his arsenal. Unfortunately, when he came to us, he was no longer getting the same calls he got for his entire career and more specificly, in the ’01 Series.

    17. Chewbacca
      December 18th, 2006 | 4:03 pm

      Concerning the media, I’ve one more case and point that will seal it.

      Terrell Owens has been a bad guy for most of his career in the NFL. It mainly started following Owens’ courageous performance in the Super Bowl against none other than, the New England Patriots. Instead of being praised for his effort, playing with the injury he suffered earlier in the season, he was chastised and called selfish, although he put his team ahead of his own health. Why? Because it was against Boston.

      He then “attempts suicide.” He is portrayed as a bad guy in the media for it, up until he faces none other than the New York Giants. For the two weeks he faced us, and during the games, T.O. was talked about as if he were the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ. No joke, I’m serious. It was as if T.O. was the posterchild for everything that is right in the world.

    18. Chewbacca
      December 18th, 2006 | 4:23 pm

      Oops, I just remembered this one.

      Isiah Thomas “tells” Carmelo he shouldnt go near the paint again. There are 2 minutes left and George Karl, buddies with Larry Brown, leaves his starters on the court up 20 to rub it in. The Knicks’ Mardy Collins teaches Anthony a lesson for trying to rub it in. In the media, Lupica included, say the Knicks acted like thugs, and they’re led by a thug in Thomas. I guess it was wrong for us defend ourselves against poor sportsmanship.
      a catcher in the MLB wearing all his catching equipment, cant stand being down 9 or so games in the division to his rival, so he sucker punches an unsuspecting third baseman, after the third baseman is hit with a pitch intentionally. As opposed to A.J. Pierzynski, the third baseman gets suspended for doing nothing wrong but defending himself. And the media comes out and calls the third baseman a wimp, stuckup, prissy, etc. The pitcher/catcher are praised throughout the media, as they stood up for their team and inspired them, all the while the third baseman did nothing wrong and pitcher/catcher displayed their poor sportsmanship through violence, kind of like the Knicks did.

    19. RICH
      December 18th, 2006 | 4:27 pm

      I’m sorry I bothered bringing it up, it won’t happen again.


    20. baileywalk
      December 18th, 2006 | 4:43 pm

      I know that Gonzalez has some attractive numbers. But, and this is just gut feel, sometimes guys with great numbers – even if it’s just good HTH splits – who have issues walking batters seem to come to the glare of New York and then don’t perform as well as you would have expected them to, based on their otherwise good numbers.

      I’m seriously not busting your hump, Steve, but if this trade WASN’T for Melky, who you obviously like very much, would you be so concerned about Mike Gonzalez?

    21. Chewbacca
      December 18th, 2006 | 4:49 pm

      Rather than simply saying, “It’s possible that you might be right.” Nope, it’s you’re sorry you bothered bringing it up. There is a reason why the Yanks/Giants/Knicks/Rangers are the laughing stocks of their respective sports. It is the media/umpires/referees/commissioners/bad luck and people like you, RICH, who turn a blind eye to it all because you would rather blame it on our guys. Why? Because that’s the EASY thing to do.

    22. knuckles
      December 19th, 2006 | 8:50 am

      I think the sky over Chewbacca’s neighborhood must be especially thick with black helicopters lately.

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