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Chat: Eric Seidman

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Wednesday March 10, 2010 6:00 PM ET chat session with Eric Seidman.

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Join Eric Seidman to ask questions and check the numbers, from the lowest rates to the highest SIERA.

Eric Seidman: Alrighty everyone, home from accounting for the day, time to sit back, order a pizza and chat up a storm.

patrickclark (asylum): is the logical endpoint of the study of pitch values a computer that tells catchers what sign to put down? thanks!

Eric Seidman: As I see it the reason myself and so many others find PITCHf/x data so intriguing is that it aids in answering the questions below:

1) What should I throw?
2) Where should I throw it?
3) Repeat Steps #1-#2 but with regards to an entire sequence

We're still years away from REALLY using the data in as useful a fashion as we can due to the boring sample size disclaimers, but I've done some non-published injury related studies/conceptual frameworks and that's another useful area of the data.

The issue posed by your suggestion as to what constitutes the logical endpoint is that it's sort of continuous. Think of it this way: say we hammer down what the most effective pitches are and where they can be thrown to be even more effective... well, wouldn't the hitter then know where to look? So now it loses some zeal because the hitter knows you know it's your best shot, which in turn makes another of your pitches/locations the best shot, and so forth.

Elvis (Vegas): Eric do you see any breakout for some of the young Bucs in 2010, or do I hit the snooze alarm until 2011/12?

Eric Seidman: It's almost the middle of March which means not only are corporate taxes just about due but that baseball -- when it counts -- is right around the corner. I would never advocate hitting the snooze alarm on a season. There's a good chance Pedro Alvarez could be in the bigs come June, perhaps Andy LaRoche can continue to progress. Maybe even my man Virgil Vazquez can turn some heads -- hey, a guy can dream!

Richie (Washington): Oh, and PFM is currently smashed to pieces. Temporary, I presume. As an ex-programmer, I understand these types of things. As an ex-programmer, I don't understand the lack of notifications. At all.

Eric Seidman: It's working just fine from what we can see, but please direct any and all concerns to cs@baseballprospectus.com so we can definitively sort out what seems to be the problem.

Fan (Internet): Do you have an IMDB page?

Eric Seidman: Yes, http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2159332/ is me. When I was a senior in high school I won Best Overall Screenplay at a local film festival, then finished in 3rd place the next year at the Nolita Film Festival for a different script. I've had three screenplays optioned, one which was made independently (I didn't like it too much when I saw the finished product), the other two of which just don't seem to be going anywhere. I've directed three short films, one of which was financed and executive produced by Brett Ratner (dir. Rush Hour, The Family Man, Red Dragon, X-Men 3) who flew me and some friends to Miami for a week to make it, which was probably the wildest time of my life and a story worthy of extrapolation in and of itself. I haven't done much with movies for a while though, aside from the occasional script doctoring.

Miguel Montero (PHX): Any big plans this weekend?

Eric Seidman: Well Miguel, it's funny you should ask, because I'm actually headed to Chi-town this weekend for the annual draft in the Strat-o-Matic league in which I partake, and it just so happens that with my 4th overall pick in the draft and my dire need for a catcher (thanks, Dioner Navarro and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, really!) you and Jorge Posada keep popping up as potential choices.

kcshankd (Lawrence, KS): Very deep league. M. Izturis or Callaspo?

Eric Seidman: As a player, I like Maicer more, but I fear there will be playing time issues amongst He, Aybar and Howie Kendrick, which may limit his value in a league. With that in mind, the differences between the two are fairly minute so consider my answer the very vanilla "Either would be a fine addition to your squadron."

Richie (Washington): How easy is it for you to run queries? For instance, on how players who saw a dramatic drop in HRs after 3 good years fared in Year 5, and how young players who saw a dramatic drop in HRs after 2 years fared in Year 4?

Eric Seidman: Running an actual query takes no effort as it's a simple Ctrl+Enter or click of the Execute button, but deriving them can be time-consuming and frustrating. Then again, I'm self taught and haven't been an SQLer my entire life. As far as your question regarding other similar drops comparable to what was discussed in my David Wright article, look for a blog post this weekend from me that deals with this very subject. But, to get it out of the way here and now, no, I do not consider Gary Gaetti's TWO years and dropoff to be similar to Wright. A commenter brought up Bobby Murcer, which is a good comp, but the issue with that one is that Murcer fell to -0.11 SDs from the mean in his 5th year whereas Wright was -0.60 SDs; the raw tallies are similar but with context they are far apart.

Frank (Vegas): how badly will Neal Huntington feel in about 12-18 months wrt losing the Sano negotiations?

Eric Seidman: Seeing how little we actually know about the kid, it's probably going to take 12-18 months to even have a solid answer for this. But if I were to bet, I'd bet that Sano is not going to be a once in a lifetime talent like we're expecting from Strasburg, so Huntington might be disappointed but it's not like there won't be other fishes in the sea.

Quentin (Chicago): Well welcome to Chicago!!! You been here before? I'm actually in school myself and have to make a short animation (about 3 minutes). I'm very technical sound, but I'm having a tough time coming up with an idea... got any good story lines?

Eric Seidman: Never been, nope! Here's an idea -- do something on how annoying it is when you try to order tickets for a concert, where you have to enter those weird word/letter combos you can barely read and go through 12 screens with a timer of 72 seconds before your tickets are released.

Mike M. (Bridgeport, CT): Any topical evaluation of the unique career of Nomar?

Eric Seidman: Nomar was one of my favorite players growing up and I was a little saddened today that he decided to call it quits. Then again, I'm glad he chose to hang up the cleats as opposed to continue to play, amass 200 PA with poor numbers and make us forget how special of a player he was in his prime. I would just hope that his career is remembered for what it was and that we don't automatically turn on our binary HOF/not-HOF auto-reactions.

Brecken (Chicago): Re: PFM I think it's because the values have moved a lot (including projections) from the prior one that sat static for 3 weeks. Is this an UPDATE that's superseding the prior one, or a test piece? Thanks

Eric Seidman: There was an update run late last night that is noted on the fantasy page, and which will be discussed further in an Unfiltered quite soon.

Stephanie (DC): Any thoughts about banning maple bats from the league?

Eric Seidman: Given how many players use them and how superstitious many players are, the better bet in my view is to work on making the maple bats safer as opposed to banning them outright. That being said, I have no idea how to make a maple bat safer, I just know I would hate having to read formulaic articles in the next couple of years about a player attributing a decline in performance to something different with his bat. The last report I read, in 2008 I think, said 65% of MLB players use maple, so it's in baseball's best interest to exhaust resources into making them safer, because it's not like other bats are harmless either.

Mike M. (Bridgeport, CT): I saw Bumgarner pitch for the now-defunct Connecticut Defenders (AA) in late August, and he was throwing 85-86 on the stadium gun all night, with a half-dozen 87s at most. He attacked hitters and hit spots, but he looked more like a mid-rotation lefty than an electric prospect. The numbers weren't great, either. Thoughts?

Eric Seidman: I've often felt that scouting reports and what the fans parse out of them is subject to the vicious circle of the confirmation bias. That is -- I tell you John Jaha is a terrible person and when you see him not sign an autograph your mind processes what I said and leads you to the decision that he snubbed the fan because of his awful nature, whereas if I opined he was the greatest great man of all-time, you would look for excuses to explain why he didn't sign the autograph.

In other words, we see what we want to see, in part based on what we've heard. If Scout #1 says Bumgarner is the bees knees, then Scouts #2 and #3 may see him do 1-2 things really well and just agree that Scout #1 knows what he's talking about. I'm not saying this happened specifically with Bumgarner, but rather that with prospects it can be a very slippery slope.

With that out of the way, Kevin Goldstein reported that Bumgarner's dropoff in velocity is believed to be the byproduct of fatigue and a self-imposed schedule that had him throwing far too hard. I wouldn't worry. It's likely his numbers are correlated strongly to the velocity, and assuming that returns so too will his dominance.

Grant (Chicago): Great! You're chatting at night? Now, I'm going to have to work tomorrow. Do you play fantasy baseball at all? Who are your sleepers this year?

Eric Seidman: I'm an accountant and an MBA student in my final semester, and it's tax season, so suffice to say my time is limited. I'm not a huge fan of the night chats because there are fewer questions, but I have to make do with what limited time I have. I play Strat, and haven't played fantasy in a while, however this year I'm going to with some family members, which should be interesting. I almost considered keeping a diary of my fantasy adventures.

Wendy (Madrid): Has your pizza devoured you? I left my house 45 minutes ago and you've answered 3 questions since then... doin okay buddy?

Eric Seidman: No, I'll mention this in an Unfiltered at some point, but my Internet completely shut off for about 4.5 hours last night, and I'm now answering the questions left in the queue in a retrospective fashion.

Will (Mactaquac): May I please hear something nice about the Jays? We're all 0 and 0?

Eric Seidman: The standard response when asked questions like these is "Man, if only they were in another division...". In all seriousness, it's going to be a tough year for the Jays, but you do have some top-tier prospects on the horizon in Drabek and Wallace. And if Spring Training is any indication, Jose Bautista owns Cole Hamels, so there's that!

SupercoolTrae (Oakland, CA): Only baseball sight in the world where I can still get a John Jaha reference. Love it!

Eric Seidman: The choices were Jaha, Matt Mieske, or Mitch Meluskey.

Eric Seidman: Sorry about the issues last night, folks, as my Internet conked out on me, leaving a few extra questions in the queue that I have now answered. As I always say, if ever you should want a question answered outside of a chat setting, feel free to email me (ejseidman@gmail.com) or tweet me @ericseidman.


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