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Thursday Morning Rockpile:

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Alright, sorry I skipped yesterday, but it's not like there was a lot of news on the Rockies front. Of the links that have popped up in the sidebar, probably my fave is one of the several that has little to do with the Rox, the SI story about Trevor Hoffman and how he's trying to pick up the pieces after we (with some help from Tony Gwynn Jr) obliterated his psyche. It really is a good piece, though.

Speaking of the Padres, our friends at MLB Fleece Factor pointed out in the comments yesterday that Mark Prior has signed with them. It's a very wise move for Mark -if there's one place to resurrect a shattered pitching career, San Diego would be it- and a solid gamble by the Padres as well. The Rockies and Padres both seem to be going the old Earl Weaver route this offseason, eschewing the overvalued free agent class of pitchers and instead looking for bargains and potential breakout candidates in the scrap bin. San Diego, for some mysterious reason that I'm sure is unrelated to the temperate climate and pitching haven that we call PETCO, seems to be attracting the classier scraps.

Finally, there's something that I've been toying around with that I just want to find out if I should pursue it further, or if it's not really that helpful, so I'd value your opinions. The idea came to me while I was trying to figure out why many savvy Rockies fans thought so highly of Kazuo Matsui, while most intelligent fans outside of Colorado see something else entirely. I think it's a Pavlovian response Matsui would reinforce at a pretty high clip, but I wonder if in this there's actual value that might be overlooked.

What I did was look at all the plays with a leverage index of over 1.00 for Kaz at FanGraphs which would include a wide swath of plays when the game was still in doubt, both early and late. Why I filtered out the plays below this threshold is because I figure most fans will be less responsive when less is on the line. Stealing a base or getting a double in a 10-0 blowout is different than in a tie game. Next, I just looked for the success rate, regardless of how it came about. This includes reaching and advancing on errors, wild pitches, balks and passed balls since it's safe to assume Matsui's speed helped in a handful of those last year. What I found at this point was that Kaz-Mat had about a 46% safe rate on all these plays, which I'm not entirely certain how high it rates across MLB, but I know that it's got to be pretty solid. David Ortiz, for instance, is safe about 47% of the time in these situations. By eyeballing the rest of the Rockies, Matt Holliday might have a higher success rate, but I think he's the only one. Helton's probably in that mid forties range, but nobody else looks all that close.

What I think I'd want to do next, since I guess I'm trying to create a measure to predict how people would respond to a given player above his actual value, is give more weight to homeruns and other extra-base hits -which would benefit Papi and Matt- while penalizing double plays and caught stealings -which would benefit Kaz, who hit into zero DP's and was 20/23 in the SB department in these situations last season. Next, I'd try and separate the stat into two numbers, one with park effects taken into account, and one without, to get a national and local number. Eventually, for the national number I'd actually also want to give more weight to performances in TBS/Fox/ESPN broadcast games and those that start before 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time, as they'd be more likely to get  the widest exposure on the nightly news highlight reels as well as on Baseball Tonight or Sportscenter.

I think the numbers -when measured against more comprehensive value stats- would be helpful to find out local heroes that the mainstream and Internet media haven't caught onto, perhaps players that are overrated via overexposure, and it could be a decent predictor for what players will generate bidding wars in free agency.

Anyway, I've got to get back to work.