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November 19, 2010 9:00 am

On the Beat: The AL Winter Agenda


John Perrotto

A look at the course of action teams from the junior circuit are considering this offseason, along with other news and notes from around the major leagues.

The hot stove season really began to heat up this week during the general manager's meetings in Orlando and figures to only get warmer by the time executives return to the Magic Kingdom on December 6 for the winter meetings. Here is a look at what each of the American League teams might do between now and the start of spring training:

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Last week's Toolbox elicited a lot of responses, from thoughtful questions to additional observations.

I received a lot of good reader feedback on last week's column about Moneyball, so we'll stay with the topic for another week. Reader Mark Anderson starts us off on a factual note:

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March 4, 2008 12:00 am

Prospectus Toolbox: Is Moneyball Dead?


Derek Jacques

The retirement of a minor league catcher incites the revisiting of a now-infamous book.

The news that Jeremy Brown was hanging up his spikes due to "personal issues" made more of a stir last week than you'd expect from the retirement of a 28-year-old catcher who's spent the last two years in Triple-A. Our prospects expert, Kevin Goldstein, gave Brown an extremely evenhanded send-off over on Unfiltered; others have been less charitable, invoking imaginary choruses of scouts cheering the end of Brown's career. At least, I hope the cheering is imaginary: it'd take a Grinch-sized heart to rejoice in the end of someone's big-league dreams, unless their name is, say, Ben Christensen. The reason that Brown is the focus of such attention and schadenfreude is because the A's drafted him in the first round of the 2002 draft-an overdraft which, by itself, wouldn't be that noteworthy-and because Michael Lewis wrote a best-selling book which hailed Brown's selection as the bellwether of a new way of doing business, which the author dubbed "Moneyball" in the book of the same name. Apparently, those celebrating Brown's retirement are marking the occasion as the death of Moneyball acumen-a festive wake, with dancing and ironic toasts.

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Statistics are a tool, not unlike a microscope. Statistics are a hammer, a speculum, a thermometer. A statistics-based approach to understanding of baseball is one of many paths to knowledge of the game. Calling those who take that path "freaks" or "Nazis" makes as much sense as calling a Ph.D. chemist a wimp because he tests the qualities of his cyanide compound by means of Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy rather than just drinking the thing.

In 1937, George and Ira Gershwin wrote a song for the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers picture Shall We Dance that was an instant classic satire of the human need to scoff at the merest hint of progress:

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