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December 7, 2011

BP Unfiltered

Winter Meetings Dispatch: It's Like a Dentist said Rinse to 10,000 People at Once

by Steven Goldman

As you walk down the halls here at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, you hear a continuous stream of “Buehrle Buehrle Buehrle” as people pass. It sounds like a dentist just said, “rinse” to 10,000 people. The story of this winter meetings, if there is indeed a story at all, is the Marlins going ape, trying to redo the whole 1997 carpetbagger-palooza. The smart money says that the Marlins don't have the smart money to carry on with this act very long. It will be fascinating if either (a) attendance in Miami isn't what the Fish hope it will be, or (b) they don't go on a sustained postseason run. Miami is filled with unrented condos. The Marlins could, at least metaphorically, join them on the pile. One assumes they know what they're doing—I'm generous like that in I don't assume a guy committed suicide until I hear his friends say, “He seemed depressed”--but between old and new commitments they are on the hook for a great deal of money.

Buehrle is a fine pitcher. He's broadly consistent and he never gets hurt. He has pitched 200 or more innings for 11 consecutive seasons. That's an amazing record. Yet, let me propose a simple truism, all good things must come to an end—hence orgasms, without which no one would ever get anything done. I wish injury on no man, and will be very happy to be wrong about this, but as each healthy Buehrle day goes by, the likelihood of a Buehrle injury increases.

Even were this not the case, Buehrle's strikeout rate is in a scary place. He has great control and gets grounders, but keeping a guy so dependent on command and perfect placement of balls in play into his 36th year strikes me as going beyond the usual gamble. Maybe Buehrle ages like Tommy John. Maybe he doesn't. Seems to me that one of the great challenges of building a team is not only assembling all of the parts that will get you to the playoffs THIS year, it's about limiting your exposure for the future. One of the lessons of the subprime mortgage disaster is that anyone can maintain themselves in a mansion when conditions are absolutely favorable. The point is not to wind up a pauper six months or a year later, when things have changed and all your cash has been sunk into velvet hot tubs and platinum doorknobs.

Steven Goldman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Steven's other articles. You can contact Steven by clicking here

3 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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SimplyFalco

This is, in a way, the same logic that says, "I lost 9 coin flips in a row, therefore I'm almost certain to win the 10th". I accept that you are making a blog post and can't rigorously analyze Buehrle's chances of injury, but there is no basis for your claim that I can tell.

Dec 08, 2011 07:40 AM
rating: 1
 
Joe D.

>This is, in a way, the same logic that says, "I lost 9 coin >flips in a row, therefore I'm almost certain to win the >10th".

It's quite different than that. No matter how many times you flip that coin, the chances of winning a given flip is one-half. That one-half is static throughout the trials.

Each time a team wins flipping Buehrle, the probability of a losing flip on the next try goes up, as another year passes and another 200 innings gets tacked on the odometer.

So, I'd argue the logic in nowhere near the same between the two cases.

***

I really enjoy watching Buehrle and am amazed at how he gets it done year in and year out with so little margin for error. His K-rate sucks, he doesn't get a ton of groundballs, he's pretty average in terms of giving up dingers. It's fun to watch a guy live on the edge like that...but those qualities that have me watching in amazement (and rooting for him) are precisely those that would keep me from throwing $60 million at him. I'm not willing to bet Buehrle can emulate Jamie Moyer for four more years.

Dec 10, 2011 12:36 PM
rating: 1
 
Lloyd Cole

Might be a logical fallacy, but almost ANY pitcher--except for a fewe very rare ones--only has so many good innings in his arm. Buehrle already has pitched a LOT of innings, AND he's not young, so...........

Dec 08, 2011 09:24 AM
rating: 2
 
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