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This is the last BP Premium article I will read, at least for a while, as my subscription expires today and I have decided not to renew it.
I will miss Christina's transaction analyses and Kevin Goldstein's writing on prospects quite a bit. I'll also miss Neil deMause's writing on the game's economics. Unfortunately, that's about all I enjoy on this site these days.
As a site, you have gotten too much into mathematics and theory, and too far from the game. You have added a whole bunch of writers whose work I never find interesting; it's just clutter. I'm also surprised that with the expanded staff, your baseball news reporting -- beyond Kevin's excellent work -- is generally nothing more than rehashes of what I can read from AP.
I'll miss Baseball Prospectus; in fact, I do already. But I can't have the BP of 2-3 years ago back. Good luck to you, Christina, and keep caring about the 4th place team's 4th string catcher. I always enjoy that about you.
Christina: The scandal with Millar turning his back on Japan wasn't Theo Epstein's actions, but Millar's. Millar signed a contract with a Japanese team, then immediately started whining about it once it was apparent that the Red Sox wanted him. MLB jumped in on Millar's side and strongarmed the NPB into letting Millar out of his contract.
It was very typical American foreign policy: We only honor international contracts when we feel like it. And if you try to hold us to our word when we don't feel like it, we'll bring in the heavy artillery.
The mainstream US sports media reacted with our usual imperial arrogance. Why shouldn't Millar be able to get out of a contract? It's only a contract with Japan. This is the Red Sox -- and they're American!
You're a historian. Don't believe me. Go back and look it up.
Jay -- I like the A's. I'm not accusing you of bias in the same way that one accuses a political reporter of bias.
But come on man, the A's have been overrated by Pecota every year since they started to suck (2007).
Rather than ask us to explain Pecota -- I don't understand it -- may I suggest you, and maybe Nate and Clay if you can get them, get under the hood and see if you can find that pesky loose valve that's causing that annoying "let's go Oakland" chant.
Talk of racism in baseball today always makes me want to see the proof, because it counteracts everything we know about the search for talent, as well as everything we know about statistics.
If African American players were unwanted by some organizations, wouldn't some general manager see it as an opportunity to stockpile undervalued talent?
Mainstream media writing stories on the issue usually grossly overestimate the percentage of African Americans among the total US population (Christina has not here). It was 12.9% in the 2000 Census, and that includes people listing black as well as other races.
Moreover, baseball heavily recruits abroad, but for some reason people seeing racism don't count black Dominican players as black.
So if the percentage of African Americans is significantly less than 12.9% of the percentage of all Americans (NOT all players) in the game, you can start to talk about racism. Is it?
Is there a point?
I don't know where else to put this comment.
Baseball Prospectus is going in the wrong direction. This article is typical: all math, all theory, way over my head.
I'm thinking about not renewing my subscription. I'm tired of feeling like an ignoramus on this site because I'm not a mathematician. I subscribed to read about baseball, not mathematics. I say this as a multi-year BP subscriber who has always liked your objective, quantifiable approach. But you are going too far.
Thank you. So the 2009 SIERA is a prediction of the 2010 ERA? It's that simple?
Can you please explain SIERA in 20 words or less? My brain reels looking at all these posts. What's it supposed to show?
Sabean's high ranking here makes a lot of sense. The man is never questioned by the San Francisco mainstream media at all. Back in the 1990s he established his press persona as an arrogant yet brilliant GM who "doesn't suffer fools" (I've seen that exact phrase used about him soooo often.) To continue to hoodwink even a fawning media, you need at least a little substance behind the reputation.
Christina: You underrate the dexterity of leprous armadillos. They may LOOK immobile, but their skeleton is quite flexibility and the lesions make their skin easier to stretch.
May I just say that, as a baseball fan, I love Ozzie Guillen? It's rare to have anyone in professional sports speak his mind so honestly, so often. Normally the mainstream media punishes people for this. Ozzie is more than entertaining; he's also perceptive. Articles like this will help keep him employed, so thank you for it.
Full employment for copy editors, I say. Add yet another layer; it's a profession that can use the support.
Is there any correlation between this statistic and winning baseball games? I'm a little slow maybe, but I don't see one. Who's to say Dave Trembley isn't right, that those games are most likely lost, and it's better to save your best relievers for games where you're tied or ahead?
Tom: I'm probably more cynical than you are in general, but I'm giddy over the Orioles' braintrust turnaround. They may not be the smartest team in baseball, but I think it would be fair to put them in the upper half, based on the Bedard fleecing and their general avoidance of long-term mistakes.
Atkins is a mistake, but he's a short-term, not very expensive one. I also would rather have seen them give Aubrey a shot. But as you say, he's probably going to top out at adequate.
I love the Tejada signing. I would rather have him than Beltre, who can't hit and would have been expensive. It took some maturity on both parts to reunite.
And I love the Millwood trade, which hasn't gotten a lot of attention. The O's are loaded with young starting pitchers, and they needed one dependable veteran innings eater. That's Millwood, who had a nice year last season, is on a one-year contract, and would be flippable for great value in July if he can duplicate 2009.
Best of all, it really seems as if The Peter is staying out of Andy MacPhail's way. The only previous GM he trusted this much was Syd Thrift, and that was a disaster that torpedoed the franchise to the depth it is now. As I said, MacPhail may not be in the top 5 GMs, but he's got to be solidly in the top 15 AND he has Angelos' trust, which means he's the best GM Baltimore could possibly have.
Great list, Christina. Professional pinch hitting seems like one of the sad casualties of the DH era, but it's fun to be reminded from this list of undertalented guys who made a living at it anyway. Those are the guys I root for.
Is this true? I hadn't been following this. Can somebody from BP respond?
Oakland Athletics trade Grant Desme to God for future considerations.
When looked at this way, you gotta like this deal. A new stadium? Or perhaps all their runners just touch home.
Christina, while I agree with you regarding Jerry Hairston Jr's utility, wasn't there some interest from Goldman-Sachs in keeping him on the bench where he "earned" a World Series ring last year? Such an intangible would drive up his market value, wouldn't it?
John: Nice job on the rumors part. I know many of the BP staff disdain these, but as a reader I like them, and it's good to find a place for them on the site. Just because the Orioles consider signing Miguel Tejada (wow, what a turnabout that would be) doesn't mean they actually have to do so for it to be an interesting little bit of news.
In a completely unrelated comment, I can't understand the country's fascination with the McGwire/steroids admission any more than I understand its fascination with Sarah Palin, but I do wonder if the audience in question isn't exactly the same.
The WBC final was the best baseball game I watched all last year. Only the American team didn't take the WBC seriously. Unfortunately, that will surely be a problem with a first global World Series.
Without knowing the teams, the schedule or anything else, I'll bet $100 on the Japanese champions, because they will play with determination. We'll have to lose this thing a couple of times before American players will consider taking it seriously.
Is everybody happy now? Now if we can only get politicians to admit once and for all that they bend the truth.
Sigh. I'm going to die of old age in a country that refuses to grow up.
Very interesting column today, John. I would be interested in knowing what's up with the next 10 free agents after these guys as well.
It's interesting, but it feels incomplete, and I'm sorry to say is poorly presented.
The most interesting and relevant data here are the batting results, but where are they? We get a text summary, but no table. The Pitch/FX data are the labor pains, not the baby.
One other point I would like to see addressed is, can you quantify and test the results of running hard, which you evoke so well in the intro? I.e., do pitchers perform worse after going first-to-third on a single, or scoring on a double?
Come to think of it, Omar Daal, David Segui and Marty Cordova were pretty bad signings, and that Glenn Davis trade was a disaster. You can get a month's worth of columns out of that! Can't wait to read your incisive take!
Go ahead and block this comment: Are all of your columns going to be lengthy, snarky put-downs, particularly of Orioles? I can just read Sports Illustrated for that.
Jeff, your site was one of the best on the web. Good luck with Baseball Prospectus. I hope they signed you for 3 yr/$8.6 mil with a $4.3 mil player option and a $1.3 mil buyout.
A lot of my frustration with the article, and some of these comments, is the absence of acknowledgment that the Orioles might have a point of view that differs from the theoretical, yet is still worthwhile.
Moreover, you picked on the wrong signing. Garrett Atkins -- that makes no sense. Gonzalez is a pretty good pitcher who might provide good value for the money he's signed for. It's a short term deal that won't hamstring them. And how quickly people forget that the Orioles turned a lesser lefty bullpen arm into a Proven Closer and flipped him for a legitimate prospect. When the Bedard deal was made, most analysts I read here said, "Great deal, but why bother with Sherrill?"
But back to the lack of perspective. It's easy, sitting in Cleveland or New York or San Francisco, to say, "The Orioles should just find the next Ryan Kohlmeier and make him closer at the major-league minimum. Why spend money, even if you can afford it, on trying to make a few more games pleasant for your fans?"
This is the kind of philosophy that gets a GM fired, unless he's Billy Beane.
I also think somebody smarter than me could show this to be a fiscally smart move. If the Orioles turn out to be competitive in 2010 or 2011, they will draw more fans and have more money to spend. Gonzalez, if he helps in that resurgence, will add revenue. If they are not competitive, it's only $12 million, which is not a big gamble for them.
You can't compare this to Jose Guillen. It's a short contract and not much money.
Thanks Kevin, I had forgotten that posting. Good luck with the new lineup.
Thank you for replying to my earlier complaint. This is a new one (because the last was more overarching):
What makes you think that money saved from payroll in 2010 can be used in 2012? That may be how home finance works, but it's not generally how business works, and it's especially not how baseball works.
Once again I think your lack of the big picture hurts your overall argument. If you were analyzing the Giants, a team that claims it's too poor to pursue Matt Holliday, then it's fair to say they shouldn't spend money on Mark DeRosa.
But the Orioles just offered $140 million to Mark Teixeira last year and were rebuffed. If you don't believe Scott Boras (and I don't), they haven't made any large offers at all this offseason. So they still have that Teixeira money sitting around -- the warchest is already full.
I repeat one thing I said earlier: $12 million over 2 years isn't much to this Baltimore team.
I also want to point out that picking on the Orioles, in your first column no less, is so 2003. This isn't the management team that signed Marty Cordova.
They wanted a closer. They had the money. They could've signed Fernando Rodney or Brandon Lyon; instead they got somebody who looks like a pretty good pitcher at least. The only real issue is that 2nd round draft pick.
This is a lot of wrong-headed blather, several weeks too late, about a fairly insignificant and obvious signing.
The Orioles traded their closer last July. Subsequently their bullpen blew some late leads. In all of this verbiage, you'd think those two relevant facts could have found a place.
I don't know what city this writer lives in, but it clearly isn't Baltimore, and he clearly isn't reading the Baltimore Sun. It's much easier to mock the anger of fans at a franchise when you're not reading those fans on a daily basis.
Please understand that I'm not necessarily defending the signing. But this weak column doesn't point out its only real flaw -- that the Orioles will surrender the No. 3 pick in the second round. The $12 million is small change to a team that is below its payroll from several years ago.
Please read Christina Kahrl. She tends to see transactions from the teams' points of view. You might learn something.
Kevin: I'm sorry, but you buried the lead. You're the managing partner, the Lew Wolff of BP? Congratulations. Can you explain a bit about the ownership structure?
Please accept the directness of the question as exactly the type of thing you guys would ask of a baseball team.
Nice job, Matt. It seems that major league GMs have finally learned this lesson, which is why Holliday, Bay and Damon aren't signed yet.
"You'd have to have dropped off the planet the last couple seasons not to see that, by May, we've had trouble patching a lineup together."
—Billy Beane, on his team's injury struggles.
++++ Actually, you'd only have to live anywhere outside the Bay Area, as the hitless wonders have hardly commanded the planet's attention.
Tim Raines was suspended for cocaine use, which IMHO is a lot worse than steroids. Don't shoot the messenger, you asked for an explanation.
Joe: Maybe the interview snippet is out of context. But I read the first quote, about cutting the marketing budget AND reaching out to fans, as corporate doublespeak. Isn't marketing how you reach out to fans? Can you clarify in the larger piece?
Great post. Ignorance about the use of statistics is pervasive and personally I think it has larger political consequences in the overall dumbing down of America.
If Americans understood that there is a bigger picture one can't ignore by saying "all these numbers are meaningless," we wouldn't have elected GWB twice and we'd realize that running two wars doesn't come from a special holiday-stomach budget where money is free and unlimited.
I believe Billy Beane has entered a Frank Lane phase, trading just to do it. What was the point of making this deal, even if it works out as well as it possibly could? In that sense, it reminds me of the Scott Hairston trade.
I don't have the numbers in front of me, but I believe the A's are no longer among the leaders in marginal wins per dollar spent. And as Ostrowj points out, they haven't been good since 2006.
I also have a hard time seeing a problem with the three players you mention. Pedro gave the Phillies some excellent starts, including some in postseason, and wasn't expensive. Padilla was essentially free and also gave the Dodgers some good work. Wagner not only pitched well in a limited role, he ended up giving the Red Sox two draft picks.
Christina, my anticipation of your full-blown take on this is immense. I don't understand this trade at all from Oakland's perspective. Where does Miles play? Can they afford to release him?
Personally I think Billy Beane has lost his edge, since most GMs are smarter than they used to be. Beane hasn't made a good trade not involving Dan Haren in a while. He likes to act fast and be the deciderator. Ack! BB=GWB!
Whenever I read an article like this (or anything by Bruce Jenkins), I want somebody to go through a video of one of Lolich's games and count the pitches.
I watched some of the 1970 World Series lately. Mike Cuellar finished several innings with 5 pitches or fewer; it seemed like even when the Reds hit him and scored runs, he could finish the inning with 15 pitches total. Earl Weaver's Orioles were more patient, but I think the Reds were the more commonplace offense back then.
How 'bout it BP -- care to count pitches for one of Lolich's complete games?
I believe all of these quotes come from articles published elsewhere.
Wuertz is arbitration-eligible. Hard to predict whether BB will sign or deal him, but he had a great season.
Joe: Have you, or anyone at BP, ever written about how relievers are screwed by the current free agent rating system? It's easier to be Class A or B as a reliever than any other position, which is strange because a reliever is inherently less valuable than any other position.
Is this something MLB's lawyers foresaw, hoping that driving down bullpen salaries would drag down everyone's? Or is this just an unforeseen consequence? Is it on the agenda for the next CBA?
(just wanted to scream that)
Jay: I'm surprised that in this article you haven't addressed the recent Cy Young votes, which seem to indicate a shift in the way the electorate thinks. It would seem likely that if Will Carroll and Keith Law use advanced stats in deciding on their Cy votes, other new voters will do the same for MVP.
I hate the comment rating system.
Several times I have made non-obscene comments that challenged the person writing the article, only to see them blocked. BP writers often claim the organization does not encourage groupthink. But the comment rating system does.
Thank you for your detailed explanation of your reason for voting. I may not agree with it, but I appreciate reading it. Most of the older print-media BBWAA guys just write, "I picked this guy for his character."
I'm very interested in this thread, but I'm merely a fan with no professional experience or talent in evaluating minor-league players.
May I ask subsequent posters who have such experience to mention it in your post, anonymously of course?
Kevin has a great idea here if he can get the professional baseball community, which we all know lurks at this site, to pitch in.
But if it's just a bunch of know-nothings like me, we might as well discuss the Gold Gloves.
Clay: During the regular season, the Yankees would have a lot of say in canceling the game, or not, beforehand.
In this case, one would think that if they lose Game 6, they really don't want to postpone Game 7 for starting pitching reasons. Will they have any say in the matter?
Re Weeks vs. Ellis: Where does Adrian Cardenas fit into the A's future?
It's not just the verdict that shows What's Wrong With America, it's the reasoning behind the amount awarded.
If a jury of yokels wants to give the parents some money to compensate them for the loss of their son, that's logical.
Instead, they're paying the dead kid his lost wages over his entire life. The kid is going to spend this money how exactly?
Look, I'm obviously going to get blocked again, and I'm not getting anywhere.
Let me try putting it to you this way: Name-calling is not what I read you for. Clever allusions to history and politics, encyclopedic knowledge of backup catchers, long-winded literary references I don't understand -- these are all fine.
Rush Limbaugh is a name-caller. So is Michael Savage. These are also the kind of people who think those "wacky Japanese" are always good for a laugh. Go ahead and be like that if you want; it's a free country.
Do you know what "hentai" means, or not?
If somebody knows what "hentai" means -- and I do -- then you're picking on him. You clearly know what it means. So why do it? Name-calling in a foreign language still counts.
Wow, Baseball Prospectus is really sensitive. A writer can call a relief pitcher sexually perverted, but when I point that out as verbally inaccurate and culturally insensitive, it's MY comment that gets blocked.
May I suggest that you drop it? Hentai -- "sexually perverted" -- is not the same as Henn. This is pretty juvenile from you, to find a word in a foreign language that shares a syllable with someone's name and keep up a not-funny and not-accurate joke for three entries, particularly about a marginal relief pitcher who keeps getting waived.
Why pick on this guy? Go pick on A-Rod. You're being shitsurei (look it up).
Christina: Would you PLEASE spell out what this joke on Sean Henn's name is supposed to be?
FYI, I speak Japanese and my wife is a Japanese native, and neither of us has any idea what you're talking about. She suggests a meaning for "Shon-ben" -- small amount of urine -- and "Henn" means "strange," but the first isn't exactly his name and the second isn't really worthy of a smirk.
Kevin: What's your overall take on Desme at this point? When will he reach Oakland? What's his ceiling? How has this toonish AFL season affected your opinions?
Joe: I try not to complain about "the umpiring" in the mass noun sense. But I've been following baseball for decades and I've never seen such bad umpiring as this postseason. I don't even remember the replacement umpires during the strikes as being this bad.
Is it time for a computer-generated strike zone? I don't want to see instant replay, because it would slow the game down like the National Timeout League, but a computerized strike zone would speed things along.
I heard Stephen Strasberg puts on his pants 3 legs at a time!
Sorry, this is not about the White Sox. I'm not a member of Red Sox Nation either, but I can't understand why you would call Darren Lewis' 1999 season "infamous." His WARP-3 was actually positive (albeit 0.1) because his defense was so good. How can VORP be so different from WARP? They rhyme, after all.
Re Mariano Rivera: We'll always have Womack.
If you squint, can you see Melvin Mora? He started pro ball at 20, hit the majors at 27, and at 31 had two great years pretty much out of nowhere.
Shawn: Maybe you covered this earlier, but is it really true that a GM is better off winning 60 than 79? Attendance matters more to the bottom line than a draft pick. Is the attendance that similar for mediocre and bad teams?
I don't think you guys completely appreciate how much Oakland's failures are being lauded by the statistics-hating crowd as proof that numbers don't matter.
I totally agree with you, Joe, but that said, I don't know how you can rip Bochy for his lineup choices without mentioning the atrophying statue in the corner of the dugout that used to be the Giants' top AAA hitter, Buster Posey.
I heard Saddam Hussein's got nucular weapons!
If that's why Milton Bradley was suspended, we needed to hear it from Jim Hendry, not a comment on Rob Neyer's blog.
Thank you, Joe. The Cubs remind me of the Bush administration, defending our "freedoms" unless somebody tries to exercise one.
What I hate most about the reactionary mainstream sports media is the way they force everyone to talk like Crash Davis advised in "Bull Durham." If we reacted positively when somebody told the truth, people would tell the truth more often.
Christina: Can you support that statement about ownership meddling? I don't follow the Nationals, but from afar it seemed like they gave Jim Bowden enough rope to hang a village.
I'm disappointed that this article didn't notice the strong uptick in intelligence in the Warehouse, instead snidely saying the O's will sign more overpriced, over-the-hill vets. Andy MacPhail really seems to have changed the philosophy. Too bad a bunch of guys who watch baseball every day didn't notice. Or am I imagining the Bedard trade, the Sherrill trade, the Huff trade, and the absence of pursuit of free agents over $2.5 million who weren't any good?
Joe: The hardest significant group of people to convince is not the managers, GMs or pitchers. It's the mainstream media and fans.
It has been interesting following the Orioles' media coverage since the Sherrill trade. Everyone at BP wrote, "Great deal!" Mainstream Baltimore media generally said, "But who's going to close games in September?" And now every time Jim Johnson pitches poorly fans bitch and moan over missing out on a chance at 68 wins instead of 66.
The team that could break this paradigm, as often, is Oakland -- Billy Beane wouldn't care what people think, he'd order the manager to do his bidding, and the severely downsized local media still gives him the benefit of the doubt. But the A's would have to win a World Series, because everything less by them is seen throughout the rest of the country as "the failure of Moneyball," which really means the failure of logic.
I am sooooo tired of Joba Chamberlain. Has there ever been more fuss about a player who's accomplished less?
Free Buster Posey! The guy's just sitting on the bench, even during a 12-inning game. And in the one article the San Francisco Chronicle wrote about it, columnist Bruce Jenkins said there is no place for Posey to play, no way for him to even get an at-bat.
Shaun: Sorry to be obtuse, but can you give us concrete examples for teams? For example, do the Marlins get enough in revenue sharing to make money regardless of whether or not they sell any tickets? How much do the Giants and A's get in revenue sharing?
I'm less interested in how much the Evil Empires pay out, because it clearly isn't enough, and more interested in how much the teams that can't afford every Alex, Tex and Derek receive.
I hate sliced bread.
Eric Patterson has an OPS of .506 in 188 career at-bats. It's hard to see what you see in him. At least Tommy Everidge can hit.
When (and what) do the players eat dinner in the minors? Before the game? After the game, even in small towns? Is there meal money? Do they each buy their own, or does the bonus baby treat?
Thank you, Kevin, this is a great article. I always wonder about how players actually live, but so few media outlets report it.
It's terrible that the teams don't help with moving expenses, especially because some of these guys will never reach the majors. Think about it: If a company in Tennessee hires me from California, they'll usually offer to pay my moving expenses. But here these guys have no choice, and yet they have to pay.
I'm curious: BP never pays attention to batting average, but I wonder what, if any, correlation there is between batting average and outperforming the pythagorean projection. Intuitively, it seems like teams that have a higher percentage of their OBP as hits, rather than walks, will also score single runs in a few more innings than expected.
Aren't there five teams in the division?
Kevin: Legally, can the union restrict salaries for people who are not members of the union, and may never be? Can't Scott Boras sue to get such an agreement overturned?
Nice post. I don't understand objections to the move. Charlie Manuel managed to win the game. MLB has gone to some trouble to make the All Star Game more of a real game, and this is what teams do in real games.
I like the All Star Game. I follow a bad team and don't have a pennant race to look forward to. The ASG is the last game of the season in which I can feel emotionally invested. I hated the way it had devolved into an exhibition with opponents hugging each other between innings. This system is so much better.
At the World Baseball Classic this year, Davey Johnson's awful, exhibition-style managing assisted in the US team's defeat. Joe Morgan questioned Bud Selig the next day about one move, saying, "It was starting to look like an All Star Game." A few more competitive late-inning moves like Manuel's and that reputation will subside.
Fox's "Roy Halladay scouting report": "The I-Beam of the Jays' structure." What the hell does that mean? That's a scouting report? I guess I haven't watched their coverage since last year's playoffs and I'd forgotten how awful it is.
May I add that Fox just showed President Obama throwing out the first ball -- twice -- and NEITHER time could you see where his pitch ended up. How incompetent is that?
We know what Obama looks like. What I want to know is if he can throw a strike. Why wouldn't they show it? Do they think health-care reform will or won't pass if Obama bounces a changeup?
I turned on Fox to watch baseball and got to see George W. Bush talking with insipid music in the background, lots of American flags, and I wondered -- is it raining in St. Louis, and they're rebroadcasting America in 2008?
Wow, I really miss NBC's baseball coverage. I used to think it couldn't get worse than ABC with Howard Cosell. But I was wrong.
Well, that's comforting, though KG's comments on the two haven't been complimentary (Cardenas is power-challenged and can't move defensively, Carter = swinnng and a miss.)
But back to my original statement: Where's the genius? I forgot to mention giving away Marco Scutaro, thereby choosing Bobby Crosby over first, Miguel Tejada, and now Scutaro. One could say BB got unlucky choosing Eric Chavez as the one player to pay, but I think there's a pattern here. I'm just a reader, though -- I'd like to see one of you guys who are smarter than me take up the BB performance question.
My theory is this: Beane thinks about things the right way, which is why BP likes him. (Me too, until becoming disenchanted recently.) He just makes poor decisions. Esteban Loaiza. Thinking Andre Ethier was expendable because he had Travis Buck. I could go on. I'd like to see somebody from BP look into it. Perhaps you can prove that BB really is as smart as we keep giving him credit for being.
I should mention that Joe Blanton to the Phillies was looking pretty good until Josh Outman's surgery. But nere's another point, and I'd like for Kevin Goldstein to respond to this somehow: For a supposedly great farm system, where are the hitting prospects?
Tim Hudson. Nick Swisher. Milton Bradley, both ways. Matt Holliday's not looking good. Dan Haren II depends on Brett Anderson becoming as good as Dan Haren.
Mulder for Haren, Calero and the disappointing Barton was a great steal. What good deals has he made since?
Billy Beane's genius has been an accepted meme for a long time, but it's time for somebody at BP to take a rigorous look at it. His trade record seems poor, and his free-agent signings don't seem wiser than anyone else's.
You have to separate the technology from the ninnies talking about it. I can barely watch an inning on Fox without an announcer saying something that drives me to talk back to the screen. ESPN at least has the great Jon Miller, and I've come to understand that they need Joe Morgan because most TV viewers are not BP readers.
Having had a few non-profane comments blocked here, may I say that I don't like BP's system of blocking comments.
The first of two comments blocked above is exactly what happened to me -- somebody had the temerity to question Baseball Prospectus, and apparently readers are uncomfortable with that.
This site generally celebrates intelligence. Thus the censorship of people who dare question editorial priorities is more disturbing than ironic.
OK, go ahead and rate this comment a "-", and I'll join my fellow bad boys in the detention room.
Yadier Molina hit a significant post-season home run. He also has the benefit of being remembered as one of Mamma Molina's nesting set.
Richard: Sorry to be melodramatic, but lots of things *used to be* part of baseball culture, including bunting in the first inning, anglicizing names like Roberto, and after that I won't go where you know I could.
I would like to see balls and strikes called by computer. We have the technology now. That's how they do it in tennis. You'd still need human umpires for calls on the bases, and for check swings. But I don't see any reason we need to keep settling for less than perfection when perfection is available.
Remember the Roberto Alomar spitting incident? John Hirschbeck was the umpire, and the called strike 3 pitch was way outside.
At the time, before Sandy Alderson's showdown with the union, we were in the grip of a weird meme that "umpires are allowed to have their own personal strike zones." Hirschbeck defended his call to the few sportswriters who weren't blunderbussing Alomar by saying things like (paraphrase here, I don't remember the exact quotes), "A bigger strike zone makes the game better. The batters swing, the game moves faster." His logic is fine, but umpires need to let MLB dictate the strike zone. I love Questec, but obviously Hirschbeck still likes a crisp game.
Let me add, for those who saw my recent complaints about a different Unfiltered poster, that this is the kind of blog post I expect from Baseball Prospectus -- an interesting point of view backed up by facts. It isn't the full story, but it isn't a Facebook post either.
As BP is choosing to make its HR decisions in public, I'd like to again ask why you let Geoff Young post on your site while putting all these great candidates through repeated wringers.
I would appreciate it if you would take this question seriously and respond in the BP manner -- with proof of Geoff's worth. I'm still waiting to see a single piece of his writing that's more interesting than what a mainstream, non-baseball specialist sports columnist might write. Instead of blocking this non-profane comment, please post a link to such a piece of writing.
I have great sympathy for these unpaid aspirants who do so much while Geoff Young does so little.
Thanks for the explanation.
I'm sorry this line of conversation seems so offensive to people. But I just don't see what Geoff brings to this site. Normally that would be OK -- most media sites have a few writers who aren't particularly interesting. But it's striking on this site to see the amount of work that goes into the Prospectus Idol entries by unpaid people who are desperately trying to win a chance to write here, and then to see the amount of work that goes into Geoff's blog posts. The one above looks like it was tossed off in less than 10 minutes.
OK, but why is he posting blog entries and the Prospectus Idol contestants aren't? People hate this comment so much that it has been blocked, yet I have not written anything profane. I'm asking a serious question. Geoff Young has not yet written anything on this site worth paying to read. Readers can block this comment too, but I'd be happier if you would take the time to provide the link to anything that he has written that is more insightful than what I can get from a mainstream sports columnist. I don't pay BP for this stuff.
Why does this guy gets to write for you without going through Prospectus Idol? He's not as good as any of the still-active candidates.
Hey Randy, I agree with the gist of your argument -- the union *could* have protected its membership by preventing its members from feeling pressured to use steroids because so many others were.
However, that gets into Joe's argument above. The players as a group *wanted* steroids. We're not talking about a couple of rogues here, but more than 100 that we know about for sure (whether or not we know their names, and I hope the union never lets its guard down there), and probably a multiple of that.
It's not the union leadership's job to moralize, but simply to try to protect its members.
Average citizens aren't supposed to know -- another appropriate feature of this analogy.
I wish my union had had a leader like Don Fehr.
What so many people don't seem to understand about the MLBPA and steroid users is this -- it's a union's job to protect its members under any circumstances.
Consider the case of a truck driver with a drinking problem. The union is supposed to keep that guy from losing his job. The union should set up anti-drinking programs, agree with the employer on goals. But at the same time, the union is that guy's advocate, perhaps his only one. If he's taken off the road, then the union needs to fight for him to keep getting his salary, or failing that, to get disability.
This is how unions work. They protect their members, even from their own failings.
America has become profoundly anti-union, and you see that in the coverage of the MLBPA, but more clearly in the coverage of the UAW. Perhaps the economic crisis will bring more people to think about which is more unfair -- executives who rake in multimillions regardless of their peformance, or unions that try to keep middle-class wages flowing for workers regardless of their performance.
About the northeastern media memes in your Quick Cuts:
1) The Red Sox claim they've researched the impact the WBC has on pitchers. This is Baseball Prospectus -- let's see that research. I'm a huge WBC fan, went to the finals this year, and I'm tired of the mainstream media saying, Pitcher A is hurt, therefore, the WBC is bad. Can we get a scientific study?
2) A-Rod parties with Kate Hudson until 2:30 a.m. on his day off for "fatigue." Why wouldn't that be news? Without any further information, it's still a great sentence.
I have always been more outraged by Sosa's using a corked bat than steroids, because we now know hundreds of players used steroids.
Moreover, if you remember the media reaction to the corked bat, the Chicago papers believed Sosa's weak excuse that he mistakenly used a "batting-practice bat" and pushed for him to get a shortened suspension.
Sosa's a cheater. He should have been suspended 50 games for the corked bat. I fail to see why using steroids nets you a 50 game suspension but corking a bat gets you less than a week off.
Obviously this poster didn't have to go through Prospectus Idol.
Is there a point here?
Hiring him was a defensible move -- why not try somebody new? Giving him a three-year contract, however, is not defensible. If Orlando Hudson can't get a 3-year contract in this environment, or Bobby Abreu, or ... well, you get the idea.
Excuse me -- what exactly do you have to say? Seriously.
Would it be possible to have BP declared a steroid-reaction-free zone? This kind of story is what the mainstream media does -- incessantly -- and it's not what I come here for.
Actually, now that I think of it, that only works on the road ... at home you have to use him as the DH for one at-bat.
No, you use the little guy the same way the Browns used Gaedel -- he leads off the game, and then your regular shortstop or whoever would ordinarily bat 9th pinch runs. If pitchers can't catch on, you start every game with 24 players, but also you start every game with a man on first.
Billy Beane, are you seeing this?
I'm reading Steve Fireovid's book "The 26th Man." Fireovid was a career AAA pitcher who wrote the book late in his career, when he had a great ERA in Indianapolis but couldn't get a look from the parent club (Montreal) even though they needed a starter. Makes you wonder what the guys toiling at San Diego's AAA team are thinking.
BTW, it's a decent book, but it's no "Ball Four." Sorry, Steve, you might also be a 4-A diarist :(
In Bill Veeck's book he says that after Eddie Gaedel's one plate appearance, the commissioner outlawed a subsequent one. My question is how. What does the rule say? Wouldn't a court of law find any rule based on height to be discriminatory?
Joe: You're right in theory. But the problem is in preparing for the situation. Modern "closers" require more time to prepare, for whatever reason, than setup men. Maybe they're just lining up an excuse, but it's true for many. Sometimes it's obvious that the 8th inning is going to be key, and sometimes it's not.
I'd like to see more closers get up in the 8th inning at the sign of trouble, and I'd like to see more of these guys get 4 or 5 outs. But you do have to take preparation time into account, as Davey Johnson learned at the WBC (sigh).
It would be hard to argue that the best 4 teams aren't in the semifinals.
Does anyone really think Puerto Rico or Cuba should be there instead of the USA (seemingly the weakest of the semifinalists)? Both teams had some good players but no depth, especially in the bullpen.
No system is perfect. But this system worked this time.
Can I trade my stock in Lehman Bros. for Bobby Crosby?
Firing Jim Bowden is like placing Rich Harden on the DL: foreseeable. If you\'re going to have a minority-interview rule, stick to it. How exactly do the Nats know this LaCava guy they\'ve supposedly never interviewed is the best man for the job? Old boy network, right? Isn\'t that what a minority-interview rule is for? Paging Joe Sheehan.
Typical Bud Selig: The rules matter, unless they don\'t.
Nyah nyah. I weap tears of joy when hearing that Yankee fans get a chance to feel the same way about their abhorrent franchise that the rest of us do. Will you stop telling us how many titles they\'ve won now? Will you stop telling us that it wasn\'t the free agents who did it? Will you stop claiming that \"A-Rod isn\'t a real Yankee like Posada and Jeter.\"?
I repeat, nyah nyah.
If this takes any of the primary talent away from Baseball Prospectus -- I\'m looking at you, Will -- it\'s a bad thing. Keep in mind that like the teams you cover, the Prospectus team does not have unlimited resources and must thoughtfully allocate them.
I am terrified by Nick Markakis\' comps: Steve Kemp? Ben Grieve? Egads!
Joe, I can\'t agree with your conclusion. Andy Pettitte was more forthcoming than A-Rod and fans seem to have forgiven him. Jason Giambi was less forthcoming, but more sincere.
I\'m disgusted with the media\'s focus on A-Rod when it\'s clear that more than 100 players were doing steroids. ESPN had a whole page of links to its columnists on the topic -- choose outrage in whatever flavor you want. So I agree with your starting point. Plus, I completely agree that Bud Selig needs to take responsibility both for steroids and for keeping the media obsessed with them.
But A-Rod was insincere and it\'s pretty clear he\'s still lying. Given the way some players have been forgiven by the media and public -- Brian Roberts and Miguel Tejada, for example -- I have to say there WAS a way A-Rod could have defused the criticism.
Joe: Apparently this is not a rule change. Trading a new free agent has been allowable. This is simply getting Cruz to agree in advance to a trade -- presumably in writing, because Cruz could always say, \"Sure I won\'t mind\" and then veto the trade anyway.
It\'s not the players\' association that would be hurt by this. As usual, the players appear about to outsmart the owners.
If the D-backs simply refuse to sign-and-trade Cruz, his choices are limited. If no other team wants to give up a draft pick for him, he\'ll have to go back to the D-backs for the minimum (or play in an independent league until June and hope somebody offers more than the minimum then.) This was exactly what the owners tried to achieve by collusion 20 years ago.
The other owners should be on the horn to the D-backs telling them not to budge; they\'re winning one for once. But baseball owners have proven so many times who the real brains in the game are.
Kevin -- thanks for the list. From the comments it\'s clear that a chat about it would be popular. Is that possible next week?
Happy St. Valentine\'s Massacre Day.
Clemens (and his wife) and McGwire have gotten their asses handed to them. And they\'re caucasian.
Um, where\'s the prosecution of Clemens?
Generally speaking, I\'d like to see Q&As with people who will be candid and interesting. We don\'t need another series of Bull Durham-inspired quotes.
Billy Beane\'s always good for this; his press conference announcing the Giambi signing was a great window into his thinking. I\'d love to know what Kenny Williams thinks about things but don\'t know if he\'ll share it.
Bobby Valentine strikes me as a good one for his knowledge of Japanese baseball.
I\'m the kind of guy who finds directors and writers much more interesting than actors. Similarly, I\'d much rather see a Q&A with a manager, coach, GM or scouting director than a young player who doesn\'t really have anything to say.
My wife is Japanese. She was very emotional about the last WBC. I can report that Japan-Korea is far more important to fans than some minor club match like Yankees-Red Sox.
We have tickets to this year\'s finals. I\'ll probably end up rooting Japan on because, just like last time, the US players will all follow Joe\'s logic, play at half speed and get eliminated early. This is not a country with national pride; we\'re a consumer country and we root for corporations.
What happened to Chris Saenz? It\'s amazing that he never pitched another game.
Interesting theory but short on actual statistics. This being BP, can somebody compare parity among MLB, the NFL, the NBA and the NHL to show the actual effects of the salary caps?
No, I agree with Joe, and think the AP messed up here. One of the problems with American journalism is its tendency to hide behind the appearance of impartiality rather than attempt to tell what\'s really going on. That\'s in large measure how we\'ve been able to avoid addressing global warming for so long: stories in which writers felt some need to include, \"But not all scientists agree ...\" In a world in which newspapers are dying out, the AP needs to address the idea of why people would pay money to read stories that actively avoid saying anything.
I liked the Prospectus Triple Play. I have no use for the Player Profiles -- they\'re just Baseball reference.com with text -- and would like to seem team updates instead.
It doesn\'t matter what paper he writes for, or what the circulation is -- Nadel is an idiot. His column was a complete waste of time to read, completely devoid of insight.
And he has a Hall vote.
John: Your P.S. is exactly my point. You can\'t trade history. You can trade the future.
Come to think of it: How many teams\' fans would trade their franchise straight up for the Marlins? I\'d say Baltimore, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Seattle and Washington for sure, and maybe Cincinnati, Colorado and San Diego as well. How many fans do those teams draw?
Norman Braman was right. It\'s hard to see how the city of Miami benefits from public money being used for a baseball stadium, especially for a team that has won two World Series in the last 11 years, has a smart front office and plenty of talent, but still has no fans.
I disagree. These player profiles are invariably dull, often self-serving rehashes of what Baseball Prospectus has written about a player in the past.
Usually I can\'t get all the way through them. Aubrey Huff is an interesting player so I read this one to the finish, yet it is as boring as the rest.
It\'s like looking at Huff\'s baseball-reference.com page, except it\'s less concise.
I repeat: It takes two writers to do this? Can\'t one of you tell us something interesting?
I know you guys are into numbers, but I think between two writers you could have mentioned his winter 2007 comments about Baltimore being a horseshit town on the Bubba the Love Sponge internet radio/video show that had everyone in Baltimore booing him at the beginning of the year.
Did the situation gave him extra motivation? If not, it\'s impressive that he was able to focus under the circumstances.
Re Washington signing Dunn: I don\'t see why any team should worry about forfeiting a second-round draft pick. The rate of return for second-round draft picks, even high ones, isn\'t very good.
Giants, 6/150, 11/25
Interesting interview. Since he doesn\'t seem to see any differences in the game, other than money, that would prevent pitchers from throwing complete games today, it\'s probably best that he\'s no longer coaching college athletes.
Why go to Price in the 6th? Balfour\'s a good pitcher, he looked good Monday, and he\'ll have a day\'s rest after throwing 9 pitches. Why throw him away when you can get an inning out of him?
With a PH up first followed by a switch hitter, no Rays pitcher will have a platoon advantage at the start of the inning.
Have Howell warming up. Let Balfour pitch all the way through Werth. If the inning is over, great. If not, re-evaluate at that point. Utley doesn\'t have huge platoon splits but Howard does. If Howard bats in the 6th inning, that means at least two batters have reached and it\'s a crucial situation, which means using Howell -- even for one batter -- is warranted.
Joe: When was the last time a Series had worse umpiring than this? I remember famous individual blown calls but it seems like these umps are consistently bad. Or am I blowing it out of proportion?
I don\'t know where else to post this comment: I would like to see one of the BP writers address the horrible umpiring in this series.
The strike zones have been inconsistent and lousy (Jamie Moyer\'s was huge.) The umps have missed several calls on the bases, as well as an obvious balk call. They also missed an HBP.
How are umpires chosen for the Series? Is this really the best crew in MLB?
\"This marks the 51st time that a World Series has gone to 2-1 after being tied 1-1.\"
OK, I just have to ask ... what happened in other Series that were tied 1-1?
Steven, if you included the 1983 Phillies team, would any of those players make the lineup?
Does anyone know the actual starting time? I can\'t sit through the Fox pregame show. Thaks.
Will, do you think Shields was pushed back in the ALCS to give him extra rest? If so, will that be an issue for him in the Series?
Kevin: I like the rankings just as they are. The information is concise and easily comparable between teams.
That said, they\'re not easy to navigate between. There should be one home page to all 30 reports, and each report should have a link to that home page.
While I\'m watching the games, my wife keeps telling me, \"You don\'t have to put on music for me, you can listen to the game.\" I say, \"It\'s not for you.\"
Not a question but a comment -- the Astros turned out to be much less delusional than we thought. I don\'t see why they shouldn\'t continue their brakeless dash to the finish, since they invested so much in it. What\'s Oswalt\'s future worth to them if this might be their best season for several years?
One other point: the Astros only need to finish within two games to give them an endless reason to bitch and moan over life\'s (and Selig\'s) unfairness. In terms of selling tickets to the fan base, such an ending would probably have value for them.
This Yankee Stadium was built in the mid-1970s. It\'s not the House that Ruth built, it\'s a soulless concrete copy. For some reason that\'s lost in the hagiography.
The place has mediocre sight lines, terrible food, unusual smells, and among the most obnoxious fans in baseball. They consider it a mark of honor to pour beer on people who have the temerity to wear other teams\' logos.
This stadium will be replaced next year by Yankee Stadium III. That makes tonight\'s game like a rich dowager holding a funeral for the most recent in a long string of identical lap dogs.
How can you not pick the Twins/Devil Rays game? It\'s the only series this weekend between two good teams, one of which is on the borderline between in the playoffs and not.
Joe: It\'s an interesting analysis of the National League, but missing a key component that I\'d like to see you explore. Is it more profitable to shoot for 85 wins and hope? Is it less financially risky? Fans never want to hear about business imperatives, but let\'s face it, if Billy Beane determined that the A\'s are most profitable as a 75-win team, that\'s probably what he would shoot for.
I have seen BP\'s interesting analyses of the financial differences between making the playoffs and not, but I don\'t think I\'ve seen one on the larger philosophy of team building.
FYI, I\'ll be glad to see the Astros tumble. Houston gave the nation the Bushes.