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Have all of the years of screaming about his insistence on playing Jeff Mathis been for naught?

You’ve heard the joke about McGregor the Barbuilder and the one goat, I assume. Mike Scioscia’s one goat is Jeff Mathis. It’s been years since Jeff Mathis was under his aegis, and it’s still the first thing I think of when somebody asks me about Scioscia. A few days ago, Jeff Long asked me how well Scioscia manages his bullpen. I thought for a moment. “Well, he started Jeff Mathis over Mike Nap…”

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The press conference that changes everything.

Good morning, and thank you all for being here today. We are extremely excited to introduce this man sitting beside me today, and to bring him—and his beautiful wife—into our organization. It has been a long and arduous past four years—disastrous, even—but that’s how baseball goes sometimes. It’s a game of failure. You can fail seven out of 10 times and still be Felipe Paulino. Today, though, marks a new direction and a new era for this organization.

(Note: All real quotes from real press conferences:)

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Classifying the fans you'll see in the stands at the World Series this weekend.

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In 2000, when Alex Rodriguez was a free agent, Scott Boras did something amazing that we just don't appreciate enough.

On Sunday, Darren Rovell tweeted a handful of pages from the free agent binder that Scott Boras put together for a 25-year-old Alex Rodriguez. As most of us around here tend to be projections junkies, surely you’ll find this page particularly interesting:

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April 9, 2015 11:30 am

Pebble Hunting: Every Team Gets One Do-Over

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Sam Miller

What if every team could undo one move? If baseball teams were different, how different would they be?

This is a long article to set up another article six months from now to try to answer the question of how often a pennant race turns on one move.

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A reminder about baseball.

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Why we are comfortable having the Kris Bryant service time conversation but not the Mike Trout service time conversation, and why we should be uncomfortable having either.

In 2012, Mike Trout was the best baseball player. He was so good that his delayed call-up to the Angels—for, it should be noted clearly here, completely non-service time reasons, but legitimate and honest concerns about his ability to produce after a difficult offseason (healthwise) and an interrupted spring training—might have even cost the Angels a spot in the postseason. He was so, so, so, so, so good.

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March 17, 2015 6:00 am

Pebble Hunting: Would Pedro Martinez Have Gone Undefeated?

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Sam Miller

What happens if one of the greatest pitchers ever is given one of the best offenses ever? It nearly happened.

Here’s the thing about pitcher wins: It’s not that they don’t have value in this sport. It’s that their value in this sport is limited to one very specific, very rare situation. That situation is not “what should we say about this Anthony Raunado performance, in one word or fewer?”, and it’s not “how do we decide who’s better, Fernando Abad or Christian Bergman.” But, then, the pitcher win shouldn’t aspire to be such a stat. The stat that exists to answer those questions lives the boring life of an accounting operations manager at a third-tier gas station franchise. The stat that exists to answer those questions lives steeped in the tepid banality of everyday. The pitcher win is limited and stunted and has a funny voice and it exists in case of just one scenario, and that scenario, if it happens, will be of the utmost importance. The pitcher win is basically Owen Meany.

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February 25, 2015 6:00 am

Pebble Hunting: What the Heck, Tigers?

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Sam Miller

Making sense of why the Tigers didn't add a big-name arm to their bad bullpen this offseason.

Has there ever been a team that entered an offseason more obviously in need of bullpen improvements than the Tigers? They finished 13th in the AL in bullpen ERA, ahead of only the Astros and White Sox; 14th in WHIP, ahead of only the White Sox; and 28th in all of baseball in FRA, which is park- and league- and era- and luck-adjusted. Notably, they managed that while throwing the fewest innings in the American League, a reflection of their strong starting staff but also a boost to their overall relief numbers—if they’d had to scrounge up an additional hundred innings to match the Angels’ total, most of those extra 100 would have come from even worse options.

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February 13, 2015 6:00 am

Pebble Hunting: Testing PECOTA's Memory

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Sam Miller

Does PECOTA's long memory have a downside?

When I’m asked about a specific PECOTA projection that seems hard to swallow, or about the system in general, I usually point out that PECOTA has something awesome that many of us don’t: A long memory. It doesn’t overreact to the past week, or even the past two years. I do.

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Last year it was the Twins. The year before, the Cardinals. This year, probably the Cubs. But what's it worth when your favorite team has the league's best farm system?

Two years ago, we did a year-by-year retrospective of the Brewers’ 2004 farm system, which had been the best in baseball at that time. Last year, we did the same for the Angels’ 2005 farm system, which had been the best in baseball at that time. The idea was to see how valuable such a farm system is over time, and, more interestingly, how long the value of such a farm system holds. Does it open a team’s competitive window for three years? Five? Ten? Beyond?

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January 23, 2015 6:00 am

Pebble Hunting: The Pitchers Who Changed PECOTA's Mind

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Sam Miller

PECOTA likes a few pitchers quite a bit more than it did a year ago. What did those arms do to deserve better projections?

You know who had a really good year last year? Alfonso Alcantara. The guy obviously dedicated himself to the sport, got himself in great condition, learned a new trick or two, and/or was just darned focused like a great athlete should be. I have no idea who Alfonso Alcantara is.

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