Sunday, January 31, 2016

Goodbye and Good Luck to you, Jean Segura

It all started innocently enough. 


As a kid, it was easy enough to say -- at least in theory -- that I wanted to collect everything. Sure, being a kid, I really didn't realize what that meant, but I legitimately thought I could try over the course of my life to collect it all.

When I got back into collecting about two years ago, I tried to approach collecting in the same way. Soon after that, I realized how impossible trying to do that would be -- what with trying to make up for 25 years of not collecting, all the 1/1 cards issued, all the player collectors out there who would fight me tooth and nail for their guys' cards, and, well, the fact that I did not win the PowerBall three or four times before getting back into collecting.


Shortly after that, I decided that I'd try to collect only Brewers. And why not? After all, that's my team and it's been my team since 1978 -- the first year I truly remember paying attention to baseball as a six-year-old little boy.

I'm an ambitious sort, so I like to set goals -- both short term and long term. I view collecting as many Brewers cards as I can part of an ambitious long-term collecting goal. I know I'll never "complete" the team sets -- once again, I'm not the only Brewers collector out there, I'm not the only one trying to get the printing plates and superfractors and all that, and I still haven't won the PowerBall even one time.


Pretty much as soon as I decided to write a blog, then, I started thinking about player collections. Being an obsessive, I wanted a decent number of PCs over the entirety of Brewers history so long as I had a good basis for including a player as a PC. I look at statistics, I thought about my favorite players when I was a kid, and I thought about my interactions with many of the players when I was a tween/teen chasing autographs before and after Brewers games.


Then, I looked at the 2014 team. I choose a few guys who had been with the team for a decent amount of time -- Yovani Gallardo, Rickie Weeks, and Ryan Braun. I chose a couple of guys that had arrived more recently but still had a pretty decent amount of service time: Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy.

And, I wanted a younger player -- one I could start on now and watch develop and accumulate a collection over his career.  For that spot, I chose Jean Segura.



Strangely, for me, I chose Segura without looking at his underlying statistics. I say that is strange because I've been a big fan of the statistical, sabermetric approach to baseball since finding Bill James's Baseball Abstracts in my local library when I was about 14. I learned more math from Bill James than I did from my algebra class, I'm pretty sure.

Yet, with Segura, I ignored the warning signs. He started out like a house of fire in 2013 -- almost entirely based around a very lucky BABIP in the first two months of the season. In the first half of 2013, he slashed at .325/.363/.487 -- with a batting average on balls in play at an unsustainable level of .349. He didn't walk enough: only 25 walks in 620 plate appearances. But, he was young, right? He could improve, right?


Sure, he could improve. But he didn't. He suffered through a nightmare season in 2014, slashing at .246/.289/.324 -- but needing a .319/.364/.389 September to bring his yearly totals up to only mildly horrible. Even worse, his 9-month-old son Janniel died suddenly from an illness in July. He was welcomed back to the team a week later by Brewers and Nationals fans giving him a standing ovation and Stephen Strasburg giving him a bit of time to compose himself and appreciate the support, but there was no way to know how much that loss hurt him and took his attention away from baseball -- as it had to have done.


2015 became an extremely important season for Segura. He needed to show that he was closer to the player of 2013 over 2014. He really did not do that, hitting .257/.281/.336 and walking just 13 times in 584 plate appearances

In other words, we're talking about a guy who might be regressing rather than developing. We're talking about a player who was not getting better and, in fact, he was getting worse. His WAR scores from Baseball Reference from 2013 to 2015: 4.0, 0.6, -0.0.  That's not a guy who is helping your team.

 

This is especially true when you have the number 6 prospect in all of baseball -- Orlando Arcia -- playing your same position and rising to Triple-A after putting up a .307/.347/.453 slash line at the age of twenty in Double-A.

So, when news of Jean Segura's trade came across the wires yesterday, it was not a surprise. In fact, perhaps the biggest surprise is that it took this long to find a suitable trade partner.





For my part, I've decided that I'm not going to keep Segura as a player collection. This has been coming for a while. I'd pretty much decided that as soon as Segura was gone from Milwaukee that he would be gone from being a player collection.

So, all these cards are great and all, but from now on, he's just another Brewer.




What did the Brewers get for Segura? A mid-rotation starting pitcher in Chase Anderson, a clearly-in-decline Aaron Hill (who is in the last year of his contract) to pair with Scooter Gennett, and Isan Diaz, a super young shortstop/second baseman who was the D-Backs second round pick in 2014. Diaz is a long ways away, but he showed good pop, decent speed, and a good bat in the Pioneer League last year (312 plate appearances, 13 HR, 12 SB/7 CS, .360/.436/.640) at the age of 19. Oh, and $5.5 million to cover Hill's salary.

All in all, this is probably a good move for both teams. The Brewers get rid of Segura to help clear the way for Orlando Arcia, they get one year of a second base platoon before finding something better or hoping for something to emerge, and they get a starter to help bear the load in the rotation while waiting for Josh Hader and others to emerge from the minor leagues -- not to mention the high-end potential that Diaz has.

The Diamondbacks get Tyler Wagner along with Segura. Wagner started for Milwaukee three times last year and got lit up, but he won the Double-A Southern League ERA title last year. Fangraphs said last year that Wagner is likely a "5th starter . . . as it's starting to look like Wagner is the sneaky guy that holds down a rotation spot for five years before anyone notices."


I really do hope that both Wagner and Segura have great success for the Diamondbacks all year except against Milwaukee. But, that hope for success for them doesn't mean that Segura has to remain a player collection for me.


So goodbye, Jean.  Thanks for the reminder to trust performance gaps that I can see with my own eyes before anointing someone else as a PC.

13 comments:

  1. Being a player collector of a current guy is tough. I've already decided that when Pineda leaves the Yanks I'll be done collecting him.

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    1. You can always hope that Pineda becomes a lifer. Never know -- it could happen!

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  2. I really only stuck with a player collection once, when I decided to collect Gary Carter cards back in the 1980s. I went back and got all of his Expos cards, and of course I wanted all of his Mets cards. But when he left for L.A., San Francisco, and a "farewell year" in Montreal, I kept getting his cards anyway. I only stopped when he retired... and I have very little interest in his post-career cards, whether they show him as a Met or an Expo.

    I can't imagine trying to be a player collector in the age of a million serial-numbered parallels and overpriced autograph and relic cards.

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    1. I have thought about drawing that line with a few player collections. The line I've drawn is between all the parallels and autos and relics and the base cards from major releases. It keeps me happier and more sane that way.

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  3. I feel your pain, as I went through the same thing with Andrelton Simmons being traded. And though he will probably never hit much, that glove! Anyway, I'm still trying to figure out just what Arizona is trying to do. That front office is a mess.

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    1. I have to be honest -- this trade was a relief to me. Segura was such a negative in the lineup, yet I felt compelled to keep him as a PC as long as he was on the team in hopes that he'd develop. Now that he's gone, I can cut bait too.

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  4. I haven't followed Hill since he left Toronto.

    I know what you're saying though. There was a time I'd digest everything baseball related. Now it seems I'm more interested in the Jays first..

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    1. It's funny how, as kids, we follow everything and everyone. It would be nice to have that kind of time again.

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  5. That's a nice Segura collection, dude. I just hope that his departure will play a part in the Brew Crew being competitive a few years down the road.

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    1. Thanks, man. I agree -- I hope that the return we got will help return the team to winning in the future. Perhaps the team can flip Aaron Hill after he has a monster first two months of the year.

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  6. It seems like baseball is becoming more and more like the NBA in that these old expiring contracts are getting traded. Guys like Swisher, Bourne, Arroyo and now Hill.

    After what Segura went through I was hoping he could turn it around. I'm not really sure what the Dbacks are thinking, but it seems like a really good deal for the Brewers. Now all they need is for Braun to have a really good first half and to find the right deal for Lucroy.

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    1. With the change in free agent compensation -- with having to offer arbitration, essentially, to get a draft pick -- more teams are embracing the idea that paying another team half the guy's salary or throwing in a higher end prospect just to get him off the roster is worth it.

      With Braun, I suppose it's possible that he could be traded if he starts out hot. I doubt it, though, with his steroid background and the five more years remaining on his contract to take him to the age of 37. For Lucroy, well, if they don't think he'd be worth keeping to work with the young pitching staff, then they need to trade him soon.

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  7. I'm right there with you, although I never PC'd Segura I did pick up some nice autos of his, of course they were cheap though. I have a feeling when the dust settles this spring Lucroy will be gone as well and Braun will be the old man on the team. I probably won't even recognize the team, but after last year that's probably a good thing. It'll be interesting to see if all the moves Sterns has made pay off. And you'll never have to worry about me competing for those printing plates I'm too cheap and I've concentrated my team collecting to base sets, until I get caught up in that. Great post by the way.

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