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I'm sure that this has been examined elsewhere, but I wonder if the outcomes during the '70s (when firemen like Goose Gossage or Sparky Lyle presumably came in when they were needed rather than merely chasing saves) were significantly BETTER than the outcomes today. If using a closer they way he is used today not an improvement over what went on before, but it also isn't worse, perhaps it isn't worth the pain and effort of changing the system.
Great piece. As you say, the point seems obvious in hindsight, but the mantra of pitching coaches - and frustrated fans - who see their pitchers walk too many batters typically is, "Throw strikes, dammit!" When you think about it, though, unless the pitcher has the stuff of Justin Verlander, he is likely to get shelled if he throws everything over the plate.
As usual, too much is being made of a short series. The Tigers clearly have flaws (as does every team), but they weren't too fat when they swept the Yankees.
I agree. People see what they want to see. Ozzie Guillen's fire inspired the team until it didn't. Unless you are in the clubhouse (or have reliable information from someone who is), you have no way of knowing how the manager's demeanor affects the players. Moreover, passion may be critical in football, but it's overrated in baseball. Players who get too emotional about the game swing at bad pitches, rush throws and overthrow and flatten their fastballs. Baseball players are at their best when they stay calmly but intensely focused, a difficult balance to attain.
Bruce Chen ISN'T any good, but the White Sox can't hit him either, so maybe he isn't quite as bad as we think he is.
Interesting piece. I was inclined to blame the Sox coaches - Kenny Williams had commented that his swing had gotten longer since his rookie year, and if that was the case, the coaches should have caught that and nipped it in the bud. It could be, though, that the change in his swing was the result of a need to adjust that he couldn't quite pull off. I would note that he actually did confront failure early at the major league level - he was oh-for-God knows what when he first came up - but clearly handled it well at the time. Still, more time in AAA might have helped.
I don't have the answer, but it's a safe bet that Rios is a huge upgrade over Carlos Quentin in right. Also, wouldn't it be relevant to consider Alejandro de Aza's FRAA vs. that of Rios in center? I suspect that the Sox have improved there as well.
As a White Sox fan, my only comment is that this illustrates why sabermetrics doesn't spoil the fun of the game: PECOTA may suggest (quite reasonably) that Liriano won't add much to the Sox's chances, but this is a guy with great stuff and we always have the hope that he'll turn things around - perhaps because he's in a new environment, or because the Sox' pitching coach has noticed something that the Twins' pitching coach didn't, or whatever. It's the same type of hope against hope that gets people excited about playing the lottery.
Many executives of large corporations get paid more than baseball managers, but barring some rare catastrophe, don't get anywhere near the scrutiny that baseball managers get. And the fact that a manager is well-paid doesn't mean that he isn't human.
I seem to recall that at a traveling HOF exhibition which referenced Adair's research some years ago, the points were made that:
1. Reducing the bat's weight (thereby increasing bat speed) could increase frequency of contact but would reduce distance; and
2. The same result could be achieved legally by shaving the bat handle.
If these points are correct, the use of a corked bat might explain Norm Cash's outlier year (though presumably would not account for all of it), but not Sosa's increase in power; but more fundamentally, if a batter could attain the same results legally, it is not clear why anyone should be disturbed by corked bats.
Is there evidence that corked bats provide any advantage that couldn't be obtained by shaving the handle?
As a White Sox fan, I hope that they give him one more shot, given the great potential that he showed as a rookie and his solid defense. There is indeed a new (and more emotionally stable) manager and new hitting coach, which may be the change of scenery that he needs. Kenny Williams expressed bewilderment last year at the lengthening of Beckham's swing since his rookie year - an obvious shot at Greg Walker - and it doesn't seem too late to fix his mechanics and his confidence.
You may be right that that's a bad idea, but would you mind explaining why?
Maybe someone who really knows what he is talking about will respond to the various questions about Ozzie's contract, but in the meantime, I can say with some certainty, based on local press reports, that the Sox did not fire Ozzie, and that therefore they are off the hook for 2012. I'm not sure about the technicalities, but because the Sox agreed to let Ozzie out of his contract, they expected to be compensated, and obviously the league (and the Marlins) agreed.
I don't have all (or most of) the facts, but it seems bizarre that, given that the A's are already in the Bay Area, they could be barred from moving elsewhere in the same area. I've heard some conspiracy theorists speculating that the A's are blowing smoke, and that in reality they are perfectly happy with staying where they are, getting the league subsidy and not spending any money.
Jeter in his career actually did something far worse than swinging at a 3-0 pitch: when A-Rod joined the Yankees, he was a far superior shortstop to Jeter. A genuinely team-oriented player would have offered to move to third base for the good of the team.
McCourt, who has proven once again that you don't have to be smart to get rich, fired Paul DePodesta after two seasons, apparently because he (McCourt) listened to critics who believed that using advanced statistical analysis to guide decisions was a form of heresy. In today's environment, you probably can't compete consistently anymore without some resort to Sabermetrics, and so it seems inevitable that a GM who makes decisions by gut feel alone (as Colletti seems to have done) will eventually bring his team down (as Colletti seems to have done).
I appreciate your comment that sabermetric principles are not infallible. I am convinced that sabermetrics has made an enormously valuable contribution to the understanding of baseball (that's why I subscribe to BP, after all), but it, like any other type of scientific analysis, inevitably has gaps and is continuously being refined, and yet too many commentators quote advanced stats as if they are etched in stone and don't permit further debate. (In fairness, though, BP commentators as a whole do tend to understand the limitations of statistical analysis; the greater sinners, in this regard, seem to be found among commentators on basketball, where my sense is that many of the advanced stats are far less developed, and therefore more suspect, than they are in baseball.)
Even the greatest pitchers have bad days, and Cliff Lee was going to have his eventually. It just happened to be last night.
Great article. I would think, though, that Gardenhire would have talked to Joe Mauer before going ballistic about the call.
In general I would agree - I think back to Lou Piniella's decision to pull Carlos Zambrano after 6 innings in the playoffs a few years ago, for which he was crucified but which I think was not only defensible, but was the right decision - but sometimes managers overthink. All one needs to know is that James Shields and Chad Qualls both sucked this year. That tells you that Shields shouldn't have started a playoff game with his team down 1 game to 0, and Qualls shouldn't have been brought in at a critical point in the game, when better alternatives were available.
As a White Sox fan, I believe that any manager who puts Damaso Marte in a game in a critical situation should be fired before Marte throws his first warmup pitch. Marte started out as a pretty good reliever, but after that the only thing he was good for was to make El Duque a White Sox legend against the Red Sox in 2005.