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In God we trust. Everybody else needs data. - Rick Peterson

Thursday, February 05, 2004

 

"IN BASEBALL YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO SIT ON YOUR ASS, SPIT TOBACCO, AND NOD AT STUPID THINGS"

Continuing my tradition this week of shamelessly relying on other blogs for content, Avkash Patel at The Raindrops linked to a fascinating article by Paul DePodesta. Avkash, in turn, picked up the link from Tangotiger at Baseball Primer's Primate Studies. (Since Avkash is also making use of other bloggers, I don't feel so bad, and since I seldom visit Primate Studies, I wouldn't have picked this up without Avkash's link.).

Anyway, here is the link to the article by DePodesta, The Genesis, Implementation, and Management of New Systems, and it's a great read. DePodesta talks about the background behind the A's. The contrast with the Mariners couldn't be more stark.

For some time I've been thinking about how to post some of my thoughts about the Mariners "old school" philosophy, but DePodesta eloquently describes the differences and issues in this article. Readers should take note that while the Mariners were busy flying every "tools and scouting" assistant GM they could find to Seatlle to meet with the brass, DePodesta didn't warrant anything more than a telephone screening call.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

 

POP FLIES

I'm out of town this week, with only limited opportunities to check in on things. So, the frequency of posting will be less, and I don't have time to do detailed discussions of many items. But here are two pop flies to keep the game moving:
  • Curt Schilling talks to the fans

    A couple of days ago I posted about Curt Schilling answering questions at the Sons of Sam Horn message board. Follow this link, LET'S TALK BASEBALL, REAL BASEBALL - WITH CURT SCHILLING for details and links. It's a great discussion; you should check it out. Here a few selected excerpts to whet your interest:
    On pitching to Tony Gwynn:

    Amazingly some of the best hitters in the game are the easiest to defend. Tony Gwynn, finally got smart and gave up trying to strike him out, knew he'd hit the ball hard to the left side if I kept my fastball away, so I just had a simple entry in my defensive notes on him, pitch away, play away. Would move the SS in the hole, 2B almost in an anti-Ted Williams shift, and move the CF into the LF gap, start throwing him FB away and hope someone caught it. Only trouble was with a runner on first he'd go out and try to hook the ball in the hole, and was one of the few guys that could do it, which then afforded me the rare opportunity to go inner half and possibly make him hit it on a part of the bat other than the barrel, which happened about as often as you see haleys comet.

    On fatigue and high stress pitches:

    Here is how I have come to view pitching fatigue, injuries and all the things that come with them.
    Example. If I throw 135 pitches in a 9-2 game, a game my team leads early and big in, I am gonna feel stiff the next day, bit sore maybe, but not nearly as sore and stiff as throwing 95 pitches over 7 innings in a 1-1 game. The game, score and pitch counts all factor in, and by pitch counts I mean if I have to throw 30 pitches in the 3rd inning with runners in scoring position all inning long, in a scoreless or close game, that's gonna take a TON out of me for later. I always call these kinda situations reaching into the tank. I feel like I can muster up two of these a game if I have too. Situations that in my mind the outcome of the game is riding on. I try and make sure the 2nd time I have to do this is after the 7th.


    On the importance of command (with a Jamie Moyer reference):

    My theory has always been, if Maddux can do what he does at 86-89mph, what am I capable of with that same command at 91-97mph?
    He and I differ in two very important areas. He uses alot more movement, where I don't, and he changes speeds alot more than I do. He still has one of the better change ups of all time, and what seperates him from the rest of the world is that he has COMMAND of his change up. Most pitchers throw the change up to change speeds, he throws his change up to spots, which trust me, is frickin' unreal. It's an incredibly hard pitch to master, much less command.
    I've probably based more of what I do on the mound on him than any pitcher in the game to date. I certainly think that will change this year considering I am using the Rocket to get a feel for the hitters over here, and will try and incorporate some of what he's done to have success.
    Look at a guy like Moyer, seriously couldn't bruise a banana with his fastball, but he wins, alot. He's the other guy I watch and wonder why the hell young pitchers with great arms don't get it sooner. If he can win 15-20 every year throwing sub 85mph fastballs, what's the problem?
    I love that comment about the changeup being a difficult pitch and being able to throw it to a spot. Great stuff. Check it out.

  • How much will the A's miss Tejada

    In one of my posts leading up to the collaborative blogging effort, I talked about BASIC BAD ASSUMPTIONS that people make when they project the past into the future:
    As humans, we remember and apply immediate past experience much more readily than we do more distant experiences, and we give more weight to recent history than to more distant memory. So, when we evaluate our players and our teams, our memories are very strongly influenced by the season just concluded, and we generally start by assuming that, without changes, the next season will be like the last season.
    I think that many fans are far too pessimistic about Jermaine Dye. Jermaine Dye has been an very good player in the past, and there is a very good possibility that this year he will finally get over the injury problems that have slowed him greatly the last several years.

    The chart below compares OPS for Dye and Tejada:



    As the chart indicates, with the exception of 2003, Dye's OPS numbers compare very favorably with Tejada's; in fact, until 2003 overall Dye was generally a bigger offensive contributor than Tejada. It is not difficult to imagine Dye returning to at least a .750 OPS level (and possibly more). If Dye can provide that contribution, and Crosby provides a .700 to .750 OPS contribution from shortstop, the A's would easily make up for Tejada's bat.

    The Oakland offense is not the barren waste that many people want to believe it is.

Monday, February 02, 2004

 

MARINERS OUTFIELD PREVIEW

This is the first of the positional reviews of AL West teams being conducted by Athletics Nations, Texas Rangers Blog, Fire Bavasi, and Mariners Wheelhouse. Mariners Wheelhouse will be providing an assessment of changes in the Mariners outfield for 2004.
  • Left Field
    If Ibañez performs at the same level as he did last year, expect his non-teammate dependent statistics to decline by about 15%. Since he will be playing mostly in left field, I would compare him with Randy Winn, last year’s left fielder. After adjusting for park differences, Winn and Ibañez were not much different offensively last year. Ibañez is over 30 so I assume that a decline is more likely, and there is nothing in Ibañez’s past that I am aware of to suggest that he will differ in this regard from the typical ball player. Ibañez is also significantly weaker on defense than Winn, and defensive skills also decline with age. Consequently, in comparison with 2003, I believe that both offensive and defensive contributions from left field are more likely to decline than to improve.

  • Center Field
    Winn, as the new center fielder, should be compared with Cameron, last years center fielder. Both Cameron and Winn have been nearly equal offensively over the last two years, so there are no great differences in offensive production from their basic skill sets. Winn will be 30 next season, and his career offensive stats show the steady progressive improvement from ages 24 through 28 that is ordinarily expected. His age 29 year declined slightly. (I am looking at stats that are adjusted for home ball park effects.) There have been no wild swings or variations in his offensive stats. Given his age, there is no reason to believe that Winn will continue to improve, and he has already had one decline year. So Winn must be considered more likely to decline offensively next year than to improve. Winn is far less capable on defense than Cameron in basic skills, and Winn’s defensive skills are more likely to decline than to improve. Consequently, in comparison with 2003, I believe that both offensive and defensive contributions from center field are more likely to decline than to improve.

  • Right Field
    Right field, of course, belongs to Ichiro. Ichiro is an interesting case. He came into the league at age 26, and through age 28 his EQA has declined steadily. This, of course, is not what is expected of a player in his mid-20’s. There is much in Ichiro’s background to suggest that he can contribute at a higher level than last year. Consequently, on offense I consider Ichiro more likely to improve next year than to decline. On defense, I don’t see any reason to expect any differences, due to skills or age. Consequently, in comparison with 2003, I believe that both offensive contributions from right field are more likely to improve than to decline, and I expect defensive contributions to remain unchanged.
So, from the above discussion, I conclude that two out of the three outfield position are more likely to decline than to improve both offensively and defensively in 2004. That, of course, does not augur well for the Mariners 2004 season.

Links to the reviews by other participating bloggers are here:

Sunday, February 01, 2004

 

LET'S TALK BASEBALL, REAL BASEBALL - WITH CURT SCHILLING

For those who are not aware, Curt Schilling posts regularly at The Sons of Sam Horn, a message board for Red Sox fans. (Red Sox owner John Henry even posts there occasionally.) Schilling posts using the tag "Gehrig38".

Curt started a topic there called "Let's talk baseball, real baseball". There's some interesting stuff, there giving a human baseball player's perspective on a variety of issues, including statheads. Here's his opening post in the thread:
Ok. Was checking threads here, tired of reading about Joe Smiths OPS of 678 being what the sox need on the bench to get them over the top. Let's talk baseball. Here's the deal. I will chat on baseball questions given here, answer as best I can. Now these need to be real, REAL baseball questions. Not what's your favorite park, city, mound etc.. But serious fan questions on things like pitching in Fenway, strike zones, questec , umpires etc.. To keep this manageable, let me answer a posted question first before someone else posts another question. Got no problem with BDD posting this stuff to his site, but as I have asked before I would ask members of the media to keep this stuff here. If you are in the media and really actually care about this kinda thing then you will have 7 months to actually ask me any of these questions if you want, no problem.

I'd rather have bamboo shoots jammed into my eye socket, than pitch a game in a quest-tec infested park. It sucks, it doesn't work and it makes bad umpires the same as good ones.
Wouldn't it be great if someone from the Mariners did something like this?

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