Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Neifi Index comes to Detroit

I happened to be at yesterday's Tigers-Rangers game, working on some stuff for Motor City Sports Magazine, and was checking my voicemail when the Neifi Perez trade was announced in the Comerica Park press box.

One of those messages happened to be from The Daily Fungo's Mike McClary. So I figured, why not help out a friend - who happens to be a Tigers blogger - with some breaking news? Hey, everyone else was making phone calls, too. So I wasn't calling my editor or the copy desk, okay?

I don't know if Mike broke it first in the Tigers blogosphere (I think Mario and Rod announced the trade on FSN before I could call), but I'm hoping he came close. Anything for a pal, right?

I have a thought or two on the trade, but a lot of other people got to it first:

  • Here's Mike's follow-up to the breaking news, with a little bit of personal reminiscence thrown in.
  • Much like Lois Lane telling Superman that the world didn't need a savior, Mack Avenue Tigers says Perez won't play such a role for the Tigers.
  • At The Detroit Tigers Weblog, Billfer thinks Perez's contract is a bad fit for the roster.
  • Tiger Tales doesn't like the remaining $2.5 million on the deal either, and details Perez's good-field/no-hit career.
  • In the CoPa press box, a Chicago writer or two remarked that Cubs fans would celebrate Perez's departure. And The Cub Reporter backs that up.
  • Bleed Cubbie Blue says Perez isn't so bad. It's just that Dusty Baker misused him.

Shortly after the deal was announced, someone asked me if Perez steals many bases. I didn't have the stats immediately on-hand, but I knew the unfortunate truth. And that was my immediate thought: it would've been nice if the Tigers picked up someone with some speed. (Where have you gone, Pokey Reese? A banged-up middle infield turns its lonely eyes to you.)

Besides his semi-outrageous contract and seeming lack of discernable offensive skills, however, the other aspect of this deal that should concern Tigers fans is... The Neifi Index.

If you're not familiar with this, Salon.com's King Kaufman created The Neifi Index three years ago to explain a particular phenomenon he'd noticed with his beloved San Francisco Giants. (The emphasis is mine.)

What if your favorite baseball team had a secret weapon, some card the manager could play that would damn near guarantee a victory? Not long ago I discovered quite by accident a team that had just such a thing. That team was the Giants, and the secret weapon was a utility infielder named Neifi Perez, one of the more anemic hitters in baseball, a man who managed to put up minuscule offensive numbers while playing his home games in Coors Field, a hitter's paradise, and who, on the rare occasions when he gets on base, is very good at getting caught stealing. (Good fielder, though.)

I discovered a few weeks ago that when Perez didn't play, the Giants were 13-1. That was the secret weapon: Sit Neifi. When Perez played, the first-place Giants were a humdrum 26-22. Sit him down and they became world beaters. The Giants are paying Perez more than $2 million a year to make outs at his prodigious rate, so it's nice to know he's good for something.

To sum it up, The Neifi Index is "the difference for each player between his team's winning percentage when he plays and when he does not." The better a team's performance in a player's absence, the higher his Neifi Index. (Here's further explanation from Kaufman.)

I suppose all of this is kind of a long-winded way of saying this guy ain't very good. But maybe this is what the Tigers were stuck with, after Kansas City passed on trading Mark Grudzielanek. What, you think they should've taken that Mark Loretta deal with Boston?

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  • At August 21, 2006 12:29 PM, Blogger Kurt said…

    I have a topic for you to report one, near and dear to every sportswriter and broadcaster's heart.

    What do the Tigers feed the media? How many elbows are thrown in the scrum?

    By the way, the Tigers are 12-3 when Ramon Santiago starts. He's the anti-Neifi!

  • At August 21, 2006 1:31 PM, Blogger Big Al said…

    Neifi is a non-story, IMHO. He's a backup. A Gold Glove winning backup. And you have to admit, despite Kurt's posting of the record with Ramon in the line, that Ramon sucks.

  • At August 21, 2006 1:46 PM, Blogger Ian C. said…

    Kurt, believe it or not, I have nothing to report on the Tigers' press box food. I've passed on it every time. It could be the cheapskate in me. Also, it still doesn't quite compute that I can eat there. I usually eat beforehand.

    But things look quite civil between people in line. Maybe that's because the Tigers charge $$$? (Should I have revealed that?)

    The coffee there, however, is exceptionally good, in my opinion.

    But I've heard that the burgers are excellent and "as big as your head." And I saw some tasty-looking omelettes whizzing past me in the lounge yesterday.

  • At August 21, 2006 1:53 PM, Blogger Ian C. said…

    Big Al, when the deal was announced, I honestly didn't think much of it, from a baseball point of view. (I was more intrigued by watching how the press worked in such a situation.) Seemed like a solid deal for a utility infielder.

    Learning about his contract, however, made me cringe. That's a lot of cabbage for Omar Infante's back-up.

    The real story, however, may have been just how hotly Dombrowski pursued middle infield help. They probably had to cover themselves on Polanco's injury no matter what, but it does make you wonder if he'll be back.

  • At August 21, 2006 2:52 PM, Blogger Big Al said…

    Placidome will come back, but you have to wonder just how healthy will he be? Shoulder injuries tend to linger. Let alone he'll be shaking off the rust.

    I do agree on the contract, I'd rather have seen someone come in on an expiring contract, but beggars can't be choosers. Considering it's either Perez or Santiago, it's 6 of one, half dozen of the other. In that case, give me the player with much more MLB experience and a gold glove. You never know, Neifi might come in handy...

  • At August 21, 2006 5:42 PM, Blogger Kurt said…

    No, you shouldn't have mentioned the Tigers charge. If NMU finds out, there goes my free subs and pizza!


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